On Sabbatical

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Happy Easter! I hope you are having a happy one. We were late to Easter Mass (as usual) despite my best efforts. I didn’t get any great photos of the kids before they were out of their nice clothes and dressed to play outside. We had our traditional Easter scavenger hunt on Sunday afternoon, something we have been doing for years. I’ve never made Easter baskets, but the girls decided early on in Lent that they wanted them this year. They took matters into their own hands and I wasn’t involved other than on the frequent occasions when either Lark or Beatrix wanted to show me what they had pulled together so far. Each girl was responsible for her sister and one little brother. They (mostly) spent their own money buying little gifts at the dollar store. I did provide the baskets, new mini bolgas, a gift I had planned for the scavenger hunt anyway. They loved doing this so much that I suspect it will be a new tradition.

My sister, Abby, visited last week with four of her boys, so we had a rowdy Holy Week. So you don’t have to do the math, we had 12 kids in the house, 9 of them boys! It was a really wonderful few days despite the endlessly hungry tummies and piles and piles of muddy clothes.

Abby loves history and is a planner who likes to visit lots of places. Being a homebody myself, and totally daunted by the thought of taking 12 kids anywhere, I convinced her to stick close to home with the field trips. One day we ran around the grounds of nearby Chatham Manor, on another she took a handful of kids to a local museum while I stayed home with the younger kids. Mostly the kids played outdoors and got really dirty. Abby and I took walks together every day and talked about our childhood. We focused on the good parts, weary of all the bad. After all these years, the happy memories are the strongest. We had nighttime talks about how strange it is that we are both so close to forty now. Time to get our acts together, right?

On a self-care note, I have put myself on a mental sabbatical of sorts. I’m working hard on stress management (thank goodness my taxes are done.) I am hopeful because I feel like I am making progress. I am trying to re-program my brain. I want to learn how to relax, and let myself off the hook a little. I can’t clear my plate and schedule, but I can work on the way my brain reacts to the endless to-dos. All of the reading I have done in recent months on auto-immune disease has led me to believe that my tendency towards perfectionism and over-achievement, and all the go, go go, may be part of what caused me to get sick.

Part of my “sabbatical” is to read light(ish) fiction this year. Easy reading, and recently published (I have a tendency to only read older books, and am challenging myself to read new ones.) I picked up Lilac Girls at the library, though being set during WWII I’m not sure it’s going to be all that light. (edited to add: returning it today. Not a bad book, just not what I am looking for right now!) Any suggestions?

p.s. I forgot that this post is full of bunny photos! As much as we love him (yes, Larkspur made him an Easter basket) we think that Benjamin Bunny is lonely, so we will be bringing home a friend or two for him in a couple of weeks. I had him neutered about a month ago, and have been getting bunny socialization tips in preparation. Baby bunnies!!! So exciting!

(The photos of me were taken by my sister. Thanks, Abby!)

Sometimes Eating Dirt

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After being diagnosed with an auto-immune disease back in January, I made some major changes to my diet. In addition to the gluten free diet I have been following for years, I eliminated a few other foods that might be causing me problems, mainly eggs and dairy. Six weeks later I attempted to add eggs back, and realized that I definitely can’t eat them at this time (I’ll try duck and quail eggs in the future, but not yet.) Sadly, even without eggs and dairy, I was still battling more than a normal (for me) amount of anxiety and still not sleeping well. Inspired by the book I’m reading right now(which I love–common sense, great advice, no super crazy stuff,), Eat Dirt, I eliminated a few more foods (all grains, seeds, nuts, nightshades, and legumes). Per the author’s advice in the book, I am now on a month long diet of mainly organic meat, vegetables, unsweetened coconut milk, and a little bit of fruit. I don’t think this is the most sustainable way for me to eat long-term, but the idea is that my gut should do some healing and then maybe I’ll be able to eat a wider range of foods again. Right now I’m eating a lot of chicken soup made with bone broth, and having a coconut milk smoothie every morning with collagen in it, which is supposed to be super good for you (It is flavorless and easily dissolves in liquid). What’s crazy, is I feel amazing. It only took a couple of days for me to notice some major changes. About a week ago, I gave up my one cup of caffeinated tea per day by accident. I just forgot to make it for a few days, had been wanting to cut it out anyway, so haven’t gone back. My anxiety is currently under control, and I am sleeping way better too. Seriously, it’s CRAZY!!! The only downside is all those foods I can’t eat. But honestly, at this point, it’s not that difficult to avoid them. It takes a lot of planning, but as long as I have acceptable foods around, I am just fine. My current favorite is zucchini sauteed in coconut oil with a chicken breast. All dusted with lots of Herbamare. Simple things taste so good now.

Baseball season is here, so Jonny and I took Mabel and our little guys to watch Gabe and Keats play last weekend. A friend whose son is on their team commented, “Now it will be Mabel eating dirt instead of Job!” So true. I laughed, and told him about the book I’m reading right now, and about all the beneficial microbes that we are exposed to when we get our hands and feet dirty. The average toddler supposedly eats a teaspoon of dirt a day! And that’s a good thing! I can’t say that I am going to stop interfering when Mabel puts dirt and other objects from the ground into her mouth (mainly because I’m concerned about choking!) But I do feel a new sense of intention surrounding getting outside and getting dirty. It’s good for me and good for them!

Seth is spending a lot of time turning wood on the lathe. He is working on candle holders, and I am the lucky recipient of all his practice pieces. I am trying to utilize candles more often. One thing I have been attempting is to light a candle on the table while my younger kids work on their lessons. Sometimes it seems to help them focus. Other times it’s a total distraction and I just have to put the candle away. Whether I get to light them or not, I just like having candles around. They make things feel cozy, which I still don’t often experience in our new house. It must take a long time to feel at home somewhere new! Maybe especially if you loved your previous home as much as we did!

p.s. Thanks for all of your orders! I am working to get everything shipped out in the next day or two, in plenty of time for Easter if you wanted Easter basket play silks! There are about a dozen play silks left in the shop if you missed getting one. There’s also still some goat milk soap. I fell out of my soap making rhythm, so I won’t have any more ready for about six to 8 weeks. I did make labels for all the soap going out this time, and all future bars as well!