Posts Tagged ‘fresh starts’

new leaf, day one

January 1, 2017 @ 7:30 pm | Filed under: Family

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Up before dawn to comfort a sobbing seven-year-old who awoke to the sad realization that he fell asleep before the New Year arrived. We cuddled on the couch for a long while, chattering (him) and murmuring (me). Then I let him play Minecraft for a bit so I could get more sleep.

Late morning: bacon sizzle drifting down the hall. Mmm. Scott served a New Year’s breakfast of eggs, bacon, and almond bear claw. The younger kids and I sat down together and had devoured second helpings before the first teenager made an appearance. Excellent way to start the year. Everyone was singing Moses Supposes His Toeses Are Roses all day due to last night’s viewing of Singing in the Rain.

Early afternoon: my annual New Year’s Day cleaning frenzy. I didn’t realize I was singing “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” until Jane chuckled at me. She says I always sing that on this day. It’s true: I love fresh starts. I love packing away Christmas and sorting through books in preparation for a new season. Sometimes I get carried away—I have mouse-cookie syndrome something fierce—and commence a heavy-duty purge. This year I seem to have gotten the pattern backwards: I started by reorganizing the boys’ dresser and wound up purging shelves in the laundry room and cleaning out under my bed. The bed part was a continuation of yesterday’s grand overhaul of my desk and all my art supplies. I keep bins of paper and ephemera under the bed, and they wanted tidying.

Then I rallied the kids to help me take down the Christmas tree and decorations. I never can last the full Twelve Days. Too much depends upon that clean, fresh January first beginning.

Scott, my hero, remembered to soak the black-eyed peas last night, and all afternoon they were simmering away with a hambone. Just before dinner, I rounded up my younger set for a readaloud. Since my last little guy is about to turn eight, I want to read our way through all our favorite picture books before my picture-book audience is grown. Of course you’re never too old for a picture book, but you know how it is. They do grow up, these children. 🙂 I just don’t want to blink and realize Huck is twelve and has never heard Borreguita and the Coyote.

First readaloud of the year: Jan Brett’s The Hata perfect follow-up to the kids’ favorite holiday book, Christmas Trolls.

At dinner we discussed goals and resolutions for the coming year. Lots of “I’d like to learn __” plans. 🙂 My own goals—besides the picture book readalouds—are to sort through all our books and pare down by rather a lot; and to continue my daily sketchbook habit.

Speaking of which: I haven’t picked up a pen today. Better get to it!

P.S. Cybils finalist lists are out!

What I’m busy with this week

December 30, 2016 @ 8:59 am | Filed under: Assorted and Sundry

1.

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The Round 1 Cybils Award panels have made their selections, and finalists will be announced on Jan. 1st. My YA Fiction team read a total of 140 books (more if you count one or two titles we wound up shifting to YA Speculative Fiction). I finished with a personal tally of 63 novels read. Sixty-three! My eyes is tired. 🙂

I’ve fallen way behind on updating my Goodreads and the book log here on my site. Hope to catch up this week.

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This page, which includes Cybils and non-Cybils reads, is about thirty books behind. Yikes.

2.

My reward for finishing Cybils round 1 was setting up my calendars for 2017. I had to laugh when I realized that everything on my Christmas and birthday lists this year was a calendar of some sort. The Lisa Congdon wall calendar for my desk area; a Japanese woodblock print calendar for the living room (Rilla and I are obsessed with Hokusai lately); a 2017 Hobonichi Weeks to be my carry-with-me appointment book; and (swoon) new seasonal inserts and planner embellishments for my Wild Simplicity Daybook (which arrived as a gift from my treasured friend, Lesley). Anyway, I have started the task of entering upcoming events and work deadlines into my planner and appointment book, and I’m enjoying setting up my Daybook for a new season of high tide. (I use the Daybook to record our homeschooling adventures. It makes a truly gorgeous chronicle, and even more so this year with the earth-friendly “stickers”—lovely bits of artwork to cut out and paste in).

It’s a rare overcast morning here, so I’ll have to wait until later to catch photos of everything. Bit of a tease to post about plannery things without pictures, but what can you do?

3.

A new year means new sketchbook plans. I was delighted to see that Lisa Congdon is offering a new class at Creativebug: the Creative Boot Camp. Rilla and I will be spending our Saturday nights this way for the next six weeks.

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(Note: that’s an affiliate link. Creativebug was offering a holiday special of a $15 Amazon card with purchase of a gift subscription—as far as I can tell, this appears to be still going on.  As I’ve mentioned before, I consider our $4.95/month Creativebug subscription to be one of the absolute best expenses in our homeschooling budget. Unlimited arts and craft classes, beautifully presented.)

4.

I should have titled this post “what I’m busy with this week besides work.” The assignment crunch that kept my blogging sparse during the past two months will continue through January and beyond. But it’s all good stuff. I winced, though, when my friend Jenn mentioned that she’d seen so little of me here and on social media that she wondered if I’d given up the internet altogether. Not by choice, that’s for sure! I’m trying to work out a short daily formula of sorts that I could apply to revitalize Bonny Glen in the new year. The old listography daily happy lists, or Instagram-style with a photo and notes, maybe. And a return to my Booknotes of yore. I miss them! And after the Cybils finalists are announced on Sunday, I’ll have lots of YA novels to talk about…

5.

What are you busy with right now?

January, Planuary

January 2, 2015 @ 1:45 am | Filed under: Assorted and Sundry, Bloggity, Books

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I made a surprising discovery recently: I realized that since moving to San Diego eight (eight!!) years ago, January has become my favorite month. When I lived in the east, I’d have said it was April—early spring, when you walk outside and feel it coming, a freshness in the wind, the redbuds and dogwoods beginning to flower, the daffodils running riot, the tulips jaunty. Oh, I loved that feeling. The Mary Lennox feeling. I’ve never liked the cold, and Eastern winters were much harder than the sunny-cold Colorado days I grew up with: all that lingering, blackening snow, the dull gray skies, the frozen ears and toes. So the first hints of change—the crocuses, the grape hyacinths, the fountains of yellow forsythia in March—exhilarated me. I love change; it makes my blood sing; and the change that meant spring is here was the best of all, even better than after spring had well and truly arrived.

But here in Southern California, our seasons are different. There’s the Season of Blistering Heat, the Season of Glorious Weather (this lasts most of the year), and That One Day It Rained. And the shifts come abruptly and sporadically, without warning. Any given day could be sandal weather or I-really-wish-I’d-succumbed-and-bought-those-boots. And so I realized that the sweet old sense of change in the air I used to associate with early spring now belongs to a shift less weather-related and more cultural. January, the New Year, the season of beginnings and fresh starts.

Looking through my archives I see I’ve rhapsodized about the Fresh Start over and over, this time of year. January is the month when I deep-clean my bedroom (which is also my workspace) and tidy up the garden. I launch projects (don’t we all): Reading Projects or Crafting Projects or Housework Projects. (This year it’s purging the books. I’ve appointed January the month I have a little conversation with every book in the house and discuss its future. For a lot of them, it’s time to head out into the world and seek their fortunes. Local friends, consider yourselves warned.) I love projects. Love planning them out, at least: as Anne would say, there’s so much scope for imagination in the planning stage. Completion is another subject entirely, best reserved for a different essay.

All through December I found myself looking forward to January—enjoying December, of course, which was particularly rich this year, what with my parents visiting and Jane home from school and a long-awaited visit with very dear friends—but enjoying the anticipation of the impending Fresh Start. I spent part of New Year’s Eve answering piled-up email, achieving Inbox Zero just about the time the East Coast entered 2015.

(Spent the rest of it playing Terraria with Rilla after the boys went to bed, while Scott and the other girls watched The Sting. Thus it was that my favorite moment of the holiday was hearing my pixie-like eight-year-old daughter remark, “Ooh, I’ve always wanted a Deathbringer Pickaxe.”)

My one real resolution for the year is to sketch every day, even if only for a few minutes. All my other plans are the sort that will take more determination to pull off, and I’m therefore afraid to spook them by calling attention to them too directly. I’m keeping my Reading Plans quite casual this year—mostly I intend to read whatever strikes me next, and to try to stick to what’s already on the shelves or the Kindle.

I do mean to choose one category of children’s books to focus most deeply on this year; I often fall into a specialization by accident—say, picture books because I read so many to my kids, or graphic novels because I have so many friends publishing them in a given year, or, like 2014, YA Fiction because I’m on a committee. I try to read broadly, of course—middle-grade and YA, fiction and nonfiction, prose and poetry—keeping reasonably abreast of what my peers are publishing. But I like having a kind of specialty category for the year, one area I can go really deep and try to read everything. As I said, this usually happens by accident; I’m not sure I’ve ever chosen the category in advance. This year I’m having fun thinking about it. Probably it will wind up depending on what kind of ARCs publishers decide to send me, since in the end, that’s the easiest way to keep up with the flood of new books.

alfreddoolittleAs for old books (“old” meaning anything published before this very minute), I have the inevitable nightstand pile, which is much like nightstand piles of previous years. It’s not actually on my nightstand, since I don’t have one, but the pile on my bedroom bookshelf serves that purpose—and the rather staggering queue on my Kindle. I think of these as my Alfred Doolittle books: Books I’m “willin’ to read, wantin’ to read, waitin’ to read.” Books I have probably listed here in the past.

This is also the year I intend to finish Infinite Jest, which may indeed take the whole year.

So:

Resolution—daily sketching

Casual reading plan—Doolittle books + some particular kidlit category

Determination—Infinite Jest

Household project—all the books

Brain food—right now I’m listening to The Sixth Extinction on audio; also a literary lecture series called A Day’s Read (lecture one was on Kafka’s “The Country Doctor” and was pretty good)

Writing goals—I dare not say, but I’ve got them

Blogging goal—the other day, Melanie of A Wine-Dark Sea and I were discussing the upcoming ten-year anniversary of our blogs. Ten! Years! We both began blogging on January 20, 2005—and met in the combox some time later. That anniversary was much on my mind all through December when I blogged so seldom, what with the aforementioned visitors and the holidays and my Cybils reading. This is another thing I’ve been looking forward to with January’s arrival: a return to steady blogging, and a chance to revisit my archives and reflect on what I love about this space and what I want to do more of. So that’s another quiet plan for 2015: a bit of a blogging renaissance.

This got long!