giving up, getting by

I have a younger sister turning the big 3-0 today!  I hope she is comforted by the fact that Ray is forty now.  I sure wish I could be spending the day with her.

Recently, as I was ordering some prints online, Jonny instructed me to order two photo mugs with our picture on it.  I thought he was joking, but he was totally serious, saying the mugs would be our Christmas presents to each other.  It felt a little silly, but now I am so glad we ordered them.  (from Costco)

Despite all the knitting I did for Job, I neglected to knit him a basic cardigan.  I guess I ran out of time.  Thankfully, I remembered that I have the Baby Surprise Jacket that I knit for Silas with handspun cashmere that my friend Elizabeth spun for him.  Silas didn’t get to wear it very much because it ended up fitting him at the wrong time of year.  I’m so glad to have it now for Job!

Over the past year or so, I’ve gotten kind of bad about reading aloud to my kids.  I think I choose books that are too difficult for me to stick with, and I have started several that I just couldn’t make myself finish.  With a wide range of ages being read to here, it’s hard to find books that appeal to everyone.  Sometimes I will have one chapter book going with the younger kids, while Jonny reads another to the older ones.  When I read 26 Fairmount Avenue to everyone a couple of weeks ago, I was thrilled to find all my kids listening, even my oldest, Seth.  I loved the story as well, and we read through it in a day.  We’re reading the third in the series now, books that Tomie DePaola has written about his childhood.  They are endearing stories of family life with a nice bit of humor, a real treasure.  I took a picture of the inside of one of them so that you can see the size print.  I think they would make great first chapter books for young readers.

I’ve made a couple of changes over the past few days:  I gave up my one caffeinated beverage per day (various reasons) and it’s actually been harder than I expected!  I’ve been kind of sad and low, and Jonny says that’s withdrawal.  Maybe so.  To counteract that, I’ve started my daily walk routine again.  Each day is a little better.  Another few days and I should be able to handle watching other people drink their coffee without falling apart.

p.s.  It’s going to be hard to keep the Christmas tree up until Epiphany.


  1. Happy Birthday ! (belatedly) I just had to comment on the Elizabeth Zimmerman DVD, as I would love that for myself and my husband can’t understand my fascination with her. I just finished “Gaffer’s Gansey”, photos on my ravelry page to come soon. I found it very difficult to figure out the pattern, so many things left unsaid. I know her intention is to make us not so dependent on patterns, and I guess it works, but I was pulling my hair out for a while. My kind of fun! I also echo your sentiments about going out for your birthday, and I love your shoes!!!

  2. Incident at Hawk’s Hill by Alan W. Eckert is an excellent read aloud for a wide range of ages and an all time favorite at our house. It’s about a boy and a badger (not war, which is what I think when I hear the title)!

  3. We listened to those books on our return trip from Michigan in November. All of us loved them. Our tree is now down – too tricky with a new Christmas puppy. I keep thinking I must have lost my mind with the puppy. But she is rather cute.

  4. My kiddos all loved The Wheel on the School, by Meindert DeJong. I knew it was a winner when I was pre-reading and couldn’t stop and finished it all in one day. Havent read the Tomie books that you show, but have loved his other picture books- so excited to see there are some I haven’t read. Don’t forget to make yourself a hot drink of some kind- It gives you that feeling of “I am taking care of me” I love vanilla rooibos (or amaretto for that fact) for that kind of drink. Sorry for being all advicey when really I love your blog and what you do.

  5. I loved being read aloud to when I was small and still to this day :-). One of my favorite memories is a teacher reading a chapter a day to us and I got so caught up in the story she let me sneak it home one weekend and finish it early if I didn’t tell any of the others. I’ve never forgotten that – how something so small would make such a big impact on a not so happy kid.

  6. Growing up we always had cats, and a dog too, and the tree had to always go in a corner and we anchored small eye hooks into the wall and put fishing line so it would steady the tree from any small paws playing with (or climbing!) it. That happened after our very first cat decided to climb the tree and poke her head out the top, and then the whole tree went over from being too top heavy! Then after the problem of how to keep the tree upright was solved, breakable ornaments went at the top and unbreakables went on the bottom half of the tree. It always worked out very well for us.

    I hope your coffee endeavor goes better for you than it did for me. After about 1 week I started getting horrible headaches from lack of caffeine. Coffee is the only form of caffeine I get in my system though (I have never liked soda and usually only have tea when we go out to eat) and I limit myself to one a day, although I usually end up with only wanting 1 or 2 cups a week now.

  7. When Iain was three days old, i was so tired, I asked for caffeinated coffee. I only did it once. The craziness of a baby on caffeine has kept me strong, but I also get very good decaf coffee instead. I’ve discovered part of it is the routine… because really, all the caffeine in the world won’t make me less tired with a nursing 7 month old! 🙂 I hope you feel better about your choice soon. The walk will help.
    I love the kitty pictures!!!

  8. I love the picture of the little boys. And you included a picture of you! Happy Birthday!

  9. I have a 14 year old, a 12 year old, and a 7 year old, and they all love the Peter and the Starcatchers series. I highly recommend these books. They are well written, fast-paced, and witty. Definitely enjoyed by both children and adults.

  10. Thanks for the book recommendations! I’m always looking for good read-alouds that appeal to multiple ages, including me.

    And happy birthday to you and your sister! Today is my birthday too – 36. 🙂

  11. I’m so glad to hear I am not the only one struggling to read aloud to my kids lately! It is a resolution of mine to do better with it this year. Also I’m the topic of feeling low, may I suggest some extra vitamin d? I had similar issues after my baby this year before realizing I needed to build up my supply. Prayers for a lovely and happy new year for you and yours!

  12. I love those books and can’t wait for my little one to be older to read them to her.

  13. punkrockchic says:

    I love your photos! What kind of camera & lens do you use?

  14. I have considered giving up coffee and sugar for the first month of the new year – but then also will probably do so for Lent again. It’s such a sacrifice, but I think my body would thank me. Hang in there!!

  15. Molly Hoffman says:

    I understand about the read alouds, a few my whole family have enjoyed recently are Rascal, The Sam Campbell nature memoirs (Looney Coon, Where’s Inky, there’s a bunch), The Year Of Miss Agnes, and Summer Of The Monkeys. Cheaper By The Dozen was hit too, a bit of language to watch for.

  16. Happy Birthday Ginny! So nice you get to share a birthday with a loved one.

  17. Happy Birthday to you!

    We have four kittens in our house–well, they are 18 mos old but are still “the kittens” to us–and because I didn’t think I had the patience for their antics with my dear ornaments, we had a tree with only sparkly white lights this year. It was beautiful in its simplicity. Next year I believe we’ll decorate a tree with all the trinkets and treasures, and perhaps have another wintry white tree, lovely all on its own.

  18. Happy Birthday! I couldn’t keep our tree up any longer. Epiphany is in my heart and I don’t need the tree to honor that. We have the same lovely wooden beads as you do and our cat just loves to swat at them. Your pictures are lovely as always.

  19. Tomie De Paola is one of my very favorite authors. Thank you for introducing me to that book.
    The Clown of God is a stand-by for night time reading at our house.
    I can’t believe how big Job is already!

  20. I had to quit drinking diet coke when I was pregnant. I don’t even miss it now and it’s been 3 years. Good luck with the caffeine withdrawal. I love the pictures of the kitty with the tree. Every year I think mine are going to wreck the tree and so far (knocking on wood) I’ve been lucky! Happy New Year!

  21. We took our tree down yesterday- I couldn’t stand the dropping pieces anymore and it seems to be a haven for stinkbugs.

    The mugs are the best! I love that picture 🙂

  22. I absolutely love the mugs…never occurred to me to use b & w photographs but I love how yours turned out! Thank you for sharing the Tomie de Paola book. We love his work but I was not familiar with that one. We’ll add it to our library list!

  23. hi ginny………if you love and are missing the sound and smell of brewing coffee, may i suggest teeccino. it’s an herbal coffee alternative that’s caffeine free and is as similar to coffee as you will find. it’s delicious and comes in flavors as well as original. i usually buy it through vitacost, but it’s also at amazon and health food stores. good luck and thank you for sharing your beautiful and inspiring blog!

  24. You mentioned your sister’s birthday, but neglected to mention that it’s yours as well. Ravelry ratted you out ;o) Plus it’s been just over a year since I started reading here, so I remembered.

    Hope you have a wonderful day and that your family treats you extra special. Happy Birthday!!

  25. Reading out loud to my kids is something I so very much miss.
    I can’t imagine how you have managed to keep the tree intact all of this time with a cat! The first year we had our cat I realized that a regular size tree was not going to work. She is so fat now that it might be fine. But I was too tired this year to even put up my little tree, it was sad not to have one.
    You will treasure those mugs forever they are a wonderful idea.

  26. I LOVE coffee on cold mornings. If I drink it any other time of day, I don’t sleep well at night and anxiety begins to take over my life. Decaf hot tea with a bit of honey is my late afternoon treat in the winter.

  27. love the cat in the tree. lol
    giving up caffeine is a hard one. good luck. <3

  28. I only drink half decaf in the morning. If I have any in the afternoon (after 3) I am mental, and not in a good way-the ocd racing thought kind of person. I admire your resolve. I am taking down the decorations on the first and I wish it was today. with both kids home for break their books are everywhere, so are cups, pens, notebooks, game controllers you name it! so I think putting away the holiday stuff would soothe my soul!

  29. The cat and the tree! Oh, so cute! You made me smile. 🙂

  30. Dolisa Winkelman says:

    You inspire me! We are going to read the Tomi books starting tonight! I have a few projects to get done, but my goal in 2014 is to knit your Sunday Sweater. I so not usually purchase patterns- but I would love to support such a wonderful woman- YOU!

  31. Astrid Lindgren has written some beautiful books which are enjoyable for children of all ages. I know that only ‘Pipi Longstocking’ is widely known, but I would rather recommend these:önneberga

    These are what every child in Germany grows up with (hope they still do!!). Many of my friends were also read this book:,_My_Son

    Hope you enjoy them!

  32. I have been so frustrated with myself for not doing much reading aloud and you hit the nail on the head, I too keep picking things too difficult for the whole spectrum of children listening. Going to put those Tomie dePaola books on hold at the library! Thanks!

  33. You’re beautiful. Just so you know. What a full plate all the time and you are so honest and real, sharing it with us. I think you have a good thing going there, you and Jon. May 2013 be richly blessed. xoxo

    (p.s. Thinking the same on our tree with intrusive kitty!)

  34. Those mugs are so darn cute! Herb tea for you.

  35. Happy birthday to your sister!

    Coffee might be on my list this year too. Maybe. It’s extraordinarily difficult for me to give up, and I’m drinking decaf, so it’s not the caffeine I’m addicted to. It’s everything about coffee that I love…

    Good luck!

  36. I feel better now that I know I’m not the only one with the book problem. I have four kids with different reading comprehension levels (though it does get easier as they all get a little older), and being the only parent, I get frustrated with choosing a book for all of them or running out of time to read separately or according to age grouping, and reading aloud goes by the wayside. So I jumped over to Amazon to pop those books you recommended into my cart. Yay! What I’d like to know is: How early can I start Roald Dahl?

  37. I love, love, love those books. Have you considered using audiobooks sometimes? It might help when you have a lot going on. Everyone can still listen while you attend to the baby, for example. I know it isn’t a replacement for books read by you, of course.

  38. hugs on the caffeine, Ginny. It DOES get easier, I promise. I’ve been almost totally caffeine free for several years now, and it has been one of the best decisions I ever made. Another good decision this year? taking the tree down early… I just couldn’t do it, needed some “normal” back. On the other hand, I put ours up the day after Thanksgiving… haha!

    Blessings as we move into the new year, friend!

  39. I’ve had to stop drinking caffein, or cut back for a one reason or another over the years, and it always makes me feel low for a few days too. I’m sure your walks will make you feel better soon. Such cute photos!

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