Several years ago, I started reading through Ambleside Online Year 7 in preparation for my oldest going through the curriculum. One of the suggested books is English Literature for Boys and Girls by H.E. Marshall. It’s a fantastic journey through the history of English poetry, stories, and the stories behind the authors.
Down the rabbit hole, I went back to the primary sources for her writing and found really great old Celtic stories in a book called Celtic Wonder World by Clara Linklater Thomson. Every story made me want to stop and draw all the pictures, but I knew to sincerely illustrate these stories, I would have to include some pretty Celtic knots for decorative borders and more. I used to draw them all the time, so a little refresher from YouTube, and I was back in business.
I’m still working on illustrating those Celtic Wonder World stories. In the meantime, Celtic knots are my favorite thing to doodle in my downtime. Then – coloring them with a dash of watercolor makes it so much more fun.
If you’d like to try out the knots – find you a good youtube tutorial and play around. They are easier than you think and they will actually make you think.
When my oldest was 5 and my middle child was about 18 months, I found, for the first time in at least 5 years, I had time to sit down an enjoy a grown-up book. The 5 year old could occupy himself safely and the 18 month old was a late walker, so I set them up with toys nearby and pulled out a book of short stories from my “to read” stack.
It was “A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Conner. I wanted the kids to benefit from a good story, so I read the title selection aloud to them.
I did not pick up more O’Connor until a book club podcast I follow read her collection “Everything that Rises Must Converge.” Reading along with that book club absolutely changed my life. I could see a little better, though I’m still learning, how she used dark grace to explain the mystery of salvation. I ended up reading every short story she ever wrote (twice), plus some essays, plus some letters, plus a biography.
In honor of O’Connor and the way she made me contemplate how grace actually works, I created pendants based on a few of my favorite short stories.
This is admittedly late, but I want to give a race report on my first trail run – the first of three I planned for this year.
I need races to keep myself motivated, and getting lost in the woods sounded like a great idea. I signed up through Trail Racing Over Texas. So far, I’m impressed with their organizational skills and aid stations.
The race I did was in January. “Running the Rose” is an 11-mile loop through Tyler State Park. Some people sign up for 6 loops for a 108K journey. But I wasn’t feeling that. I just signed up for the 1 loop, and it was just about right for me.
First – East Texas is the most beautiful bit of Texas and Tyler State Park is a great place to bask in the beauty.
Second – Trail runners are probably the nicest people I have been around. I used a shuttle to get from one end of the park to the other. As the van jerked, one of the other runners fell over onto me. We were both their alone, so we chatted it up while waiting for the race to start. Anywhere I was: waiting at packet pickup, waiting for our start time, on the actual course, people were kind and talkative.
The actual race – The course was not as hilly as I was expecting. I trained at Cedar Ridge Preserve – and that really the only trail system I run regularly. CRP has crazy climbs. But Tyler State Park was much more gentle and easy-going. Some hills, but plenty of flat ground, too.
The first mile was basically walking because so many of us were on this thin trail. The crowd thinned after that and it was easier to go at a comfortable pace.
THEN – mile 3, I had a serious problem that devastated a previous run. My right foot went totally numb. The last time that happened, it was because my socks/shoelaces were too tight and I ended up walking home barefoot. But with 8 miles to go in the woods, I was not wanting to walk with bare feet. I adjusted my shoes a few times…nothing helped. Then I realized, I had been staying to the right of the trail quite a bit instead of the middle. I suspected that was the reason my shoe was slipping so much. When I stuck to the middle of the trail, my feet felt much better.
Then – around 4.5 miles, I saw the aid station coming up. I thought it wasn’t until mile 8, but how fun! Maybe it’s bonus. Great, right? I’ll refill my water and….no. All you do is see the top of the aid station in the distance, but the trail turns right and you make a big loop around the south end of the park. At mile 7, it happens again. You see that blue tent top but turn right before you get to partake in the goodness. Finally, as advertised, at mile 8 you get an orange slice from the aid station you thought would never come. It was so delicious and worth the wait. The orange, plus my honey packet were just what I needed.
I finished the 11 miles feeling like I could have done a bit more (so maybe I should have pushed myself a bit on the course?) but no way I could have done that whole loop again. Eleven miles was a good fit for me. The fresh air was fantastic. Would run again. In fact, I’m volunteering at an upcoming race so I can run again for 50% off.
For my first 39 New Years’ Days, I did not make any resolutions, unless it was kind of a silly one – like “get a haircut” or “buy new pants.” I intentionally decided against resolutions because I thought they were silly. If you are going to change something in your life – just do it. Don’t wait for a calendar change. Carpe Diem and all that.
In 2020, before the pandemic began, I did something unexpected. I made goals for the year. I shared them with a friend to make sure I followed through (or at least to make it more likely).
My goals were: finish the dollhouse I was building for my daughter, run consistently using a training plan, and make non-digital content for my Etsy store. THEN CAME MARCH.
In March, a long-time friend, and my running inspiration, passed away of cancer – not Covid-related. And the same weekend, the rest of the world shut down. So, feeling my mortality, I adjusted some goals. Specifically: I decided I needed to run a half-marathon. The furthest I had run before was 6.2 miles, and I had only done that maybe twice. A half-marathon is more than double that. I signed up for a September Dallas Half (which, of course, went virtual).
Guys – I did all the things. I finished the dollhouse in February. I trained for the half-marathon throughout the year and ran it (virtually) in September. I re-opened an Etsy shop in October with physical items.
Don’t get me wrong – a lot of stuff went wrong in 2020. Daily, there were small goals that I did not meet. There were lots of breakdowns and discouraging moments as plans changed and events were cancelled. Still, somehow the big resolutions worked out. I literally do not know how. I’m sure it was the grace of God because I cannot do all the things.
Now, my dilema. Do I make more resolutions? Do I tell my friends? What if they don’t happen? If it really was the grace of God, I guess I have to go for it because I know God is good, and he will help keep me focused on what needs to happen this next year. Check back next December and I’ll let you know how it went.
My daughter is doing Ambleside Online Yr5 and one book that I’m thrilled she is getting to do this year is King Arthur by Roger Lancelyn Green. She’s only just begun. She can read most of her books on her own by now, but this book has been nice because she still prefers that I read it to her.
My oldest just finished Once and Future King, and while I didn’t read along, I did hear all of his narrations.
This is what I’m reading and I’d love to hear what you are reading, too.
For December 2020, one of my current books is Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger. The first time I read it was right out of high school. I remember thinking it was good that I was reading it just out of high school because if I had read it before I wouldn’t have liked it as much. I didn’t intend to read it again. But then…
An online book club that I love, Close Reads, read Catcher early in 2020. After 2020 blew up, I got behind and I’m just now starting/finishing the book.
This time around, as a mom of a teen, I just want to hug Holden Caulfield and tell him it’s all going to be alright. He could come over to our house and have a nice dinner with the family and hopefully he wouldn’t think we were a bunch of phonies.
4. Sometimes it’s faster to drive a package across country rather than ship it. (But, for the record, the lady at our post office is super nice.)
I’ve also found more efficient methods for making pendants. Check in often because lots of designs (that I can’t recreate) are selling out and I’m adding new ones all the time. Lots of Hymn inspiration coming this week, so watch for that.
I do not normally do New Year’s Resolutions. For some reason, in January 2020, I decided it was important to run a couple of races and to finally set up a shop on Etsy.
Then – we all know how 2020 went. For our family, the pandemic meant that things were usually incredibly busier than normal. But there were a few periods of forced rest in the mix. The result has been that I ran a half marathon in September and today I opened my Etsy Shop.
I was still looking for ways to turn each prompt into a circle, and this is what I came up with. One of my son’s friends saw it when it was only partially done and told me it would be better in color. So I colored it in his honor. Thanks for the tip.
It’s also in honor of all the big brothers and uncles out there whose little nephews and brothers are begging you to swing them around in a big circle…but you can’t because you’ve been told you might pull their arms right out of their sockets. Will that really happen? I don’t know.