July 3, 2015

Summer at the Park {Week 6}

weekly trips to the park during Summer break

weekly trips to the park during Summer break

weekly trips to the park during Summer break

weekly trips to the park during Summer break

weekly trips to the park during Summer break

weekly trips to the park during Summer break

weekly trips to the park during Summer break

Weekly trips to the park are pretty interesting with my little fair-skinned maiden.   She loves to swing but I hate to leave her out in direct sunlight for too long, so we usually sit back under a tree and enjoy the shade and sights.  While the bigger kids play (Faith wasn't with us this particular day), Livi and I  come up with amusing ways to pass the time together.  For example, roaring like a lion.  As you do.

June 30, 2015

What I'm Reading

Books are meant to be shared!

The Waste Lands (The Dark Tower #3) by Stephen King
The three companions find The Beam after wrestling a robotic/cyborg bear, and begin their journey to The Dark Tower.  Along the way, Roland is reunited with his lost (dead/not dead) companion, Jake.  The groups stumbles upon a town or two, eventually making their way to Blaine, the riddle-loving monorail who promises to quickly deliver them closer to The Dark Tower, and their death.  This book picks up even more than the second book in the series, again making me thankfully I kept pushing through after feeling the first book was a little slow.  There are so many bizarre yet interesting discoveries along the way, and you can feel your connection to these characters growing and growing more with each turned page.

Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin
A few years back I read The Happiness Project and while I thought it was chalk-full of good, practical advice (and plenty of research) to increase one's happiness, I was really just completing my own "happiness project" of sorts, and so a lot of the "truths" were self-evident and fresh in my own mind.  I didn't get as much out of the book as I would have if I'd stumbled upon it, say five years earlier.

But I did think the book and the advice were good, and with dozens of home improvement goals for this year, I thought I'd give Happier at Home a try.  I really connected with so many areas of focus in this book - not just turning the home into a happier place through better organization, meaningful decor, etc. but also the atmosphere of creating a happier home within us.  Again, I felt that a lot of the advice was obvious, but it certainly doesn't hurt to be reminded, and I love Rubin's use of research in her books.

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
Alice awakens after bumping her head and discovers that she's lost the memory of the last ten years of her life (including the birth of her three children).  As she gains little bits and pieces of her memory here and there, she has to decide whether she will continue on the path her "real" life has led her, or follow her 10-year-outdated memory in a different direction.  This book is filled with tons of twist and turns, and even if you figure them out, they're still entertaining.  It's also kind of fun to apply this concept to our own lives - where would you be if you lost the last ten years of your life?!

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
A college professor is diagnosed with terminal cancer and given 3-6 months to live.  In his "Last Lecture" he talks about fulfilling your childhood dreams, and really and truly living while you're still alive.  I think you have to take this book for what it is - the author himself admits that it is for his children, something that they can look back on later in life to see what kind of man he was, what kind of memories he had, what kind of life he lived.  While the book is packed with tons of inspiration, optimism, and words to live by - it's not necessarily meant to be "helpful" for readers.  He wrote it for his children, and it should be read as the love letter it is.

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
Roach explores how cadavers are used in the advancement of science.  I've read a few of Roach's other books and even if you don't have an interest in the actual subject, she has an amazing ability to get you interested.  Often humorous and witty, Roach's books are packed full of fun and interesting facts.

June Recap

june recap

Another month filled with Summer fun and fulfilling little family activities!  We stopped by our favorite little coffee shop with Olivia, enjoyed an evening at the skating rink, went for a nice hike and quiet picnic by the river, continued our weekly trips to the park and the library, and balanced it all out with some at-home fun days.  We celebrated Father's Day, and I'm excited to partake in David's gift (homemade bacon) this weekend.  The big focus for June was enjoying Summer with the family, and it's safe to say that was an easy one!

The home improvement projects continued along:  Noah's superhero canvases and hand-painted city skyline, painted and organized our master bedroom, set up my office area (will be revealing this soon), finally bought (and built) a dresser for me and David, and completed a few other little projects around the house as well (such as updating the family portraits in the living room).  Did I mention that David and I went on our first kid-free, real date in over a year?!  Definitely going to start making this a priority!

As far as personal growth projects:  my next set of grad school classes started just yesterday and I'm excited to be furthering my education; our breastfeeding journey has come to an end and I'm feeling amazed by how wonderful it was, while also experiencing a bit of relief in closing that chapter; I'm slowly learning more about Lightroom and really excited to grow my photography skill set by now shooting in RAW and using new editing techniques; and to top it off, I completed all my June monthly goals (I shared some Day in the Life, but opted to keep the other "everyday" photos private - a girl's gotta maintain some mystery :winkyface:).

Other than these little adventures and happenings, there's no huge news this month.  We're in a really good place right now, and the whole family is really enjoying a simple contentment with life.  That's a pretty amazing thing.

July Goals:
  • Balance work and play!  My "big" area of focus for July is balancing my graduate class schoolwork with our last month of Summer break.  
  • Two family day trips.  I have a long-list of nearby activities we've never done before.  July is going to be a busy month for us, but I'm hopeful we'll find time to visit at least two of these locations.
  • Finish master bedroom.  The room is freshly-painted and I've already got a jump on some of the decorative stuff, but I genuinely don't know if I'll be able to accomplish everything in just one month.
  • Photo a day challenge.  I've hemmed and hawed over this because I've found that both prompted and number-counting goals usually don't inspire me in the slightest, no matter how hard I try (hence giving up my 2015 Project 52).  However, I think this short-term challenge will allow me to push myself, without getting too bored.  

June 29, 2015

Summer Term Grad School Classes

grad school, psychology

That's right, after an entire year off from school, I've jumped back in the saddle.  Admittedly, a bit nervous about balancing school work and life with three kids at home, but mostly?  Just as excited as ever.  While there are moments when I'm just ready to have all this behind me and never have to think about school again (this coming from someone seriously considering a PhD), there have been very few classes that didn't actually interest me.  There were so many other (higher-paying) subjects I could have chosen to study, but I'm glad I followed my heart on this one.  Now I have the luxury of gaining an (enjoyable) education in a subject I love, and will someday be nestled into a career field I love as well (hopefully).  For those who don't know (as I've not talked about this for a year), I'm currently pursuing my Master's in Human Services Counseling:  Crisis Response and Trauma.  What will I do with this degree?  I tend to change my mind (quite often) but would love to work in victim advocacy.  I've got a few years to figure it out (as I don't plan to return to work until Olivia starts school), so we shall see what the future brings!  For now, I'm studying Complex Trauma and Disasters, and Multicultural Issues in Human Services (totally apropos with current events!).