Nourishing Good Habits: Literally Nourishing

I’m typing this while Oklahoma delivers us a thunderstorm in January. While I thankful that the warmer afternoon means we aren’t getting an ice storm, it’s weird to see lightning flash in January.

I spend a lot of time feeding people, with the goal of nourishing them in both body and soul. Most of the time I’m just feeding the giant boys who live here. We have dinner together about five nights a week. Sometimes the college student can’t join us, but we make a plate for him to reheat when he gets in. We talk about all sorts of things around the table – economics, current events, politics, history, books, and almost always Truth. We tell stories about the day, give each other advice, and pray together. These are moments I wouldn’t trade.

It’s hard to get meal prep in, but it’s always worth the effort. This morning, while we were out, the crockpot cooked up a southwestern hash brown and egg casserole – thanks to Jon helping me brown sausage and veggies while I dried off thawed hash browns, grated cheese, and whisked eggs. This evening’s meatballs were made weeks ago at a slower time and frozen for later, and Jon washed turnips and potatoes while I made a soup for us for another meal and more to share with friends. Then he left with the boys, and I sliced and stirred scalloped potatoes (with hidden turnips) and prepped some broccoli to roast. But when we all set down to eat, we chatted for an hour.

Our summer time gluten free sourdough experiment continues, with us making a loaf of sandwich bread twice a week and using sourdough in things like pancakes, waffles, rolls, naan, and tortillas fairly regularly. Since we don’t use gluten in our kitchen at all, this has made the best tasting and nicest textured bread we’ve had in a long time. The sourdough baby gets a scoop of GF flour and an equal-amount of water every day, and he just keeps on raising our loaves. Bread is such a simple staple that is now seems strange that I had adapted to life without it for years because most gluten free bread isn’t worth the calories. Honestly, a pieces of hot buttered toast is just comfortable on a cold morning.

Among feeding the people, I got all my steps in this week. One day I walked in the mist, and another afternoon I watched the blue sky push away the grey, leaving me wishing for sunglasses. I walked twice with Jon, once with my mother, once with Drew, and several times by myself with an audiobook.

Books I Read This Week

I didn’t read all of each of these books this week. I read FROM all of them. I finished two (noted below).

  • Madeleine L’Engle’s A Circle of Quiet
  • Kristin Harmel’s The Book of Lost Names (finished; page-turner)
  • Mark Buchanan’s The Rest of God (finished; still didn’t make it to the stack)
  • Stixrub and Johnson’s The Self-Driven Child
  • Willa Cather’s Death Comes to the Archbishop (almost done)
  • Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace (via audio, but I have a pretty copy)
  • Schweikart & Dougherty’s A Patriot’s History of the Modern World

Nourishing Good Habits: Consistency

Once I’ve started a good-for-me habit, keeping it going is difficult for a little while. But doing that good-for-me thing every day soon becomes second nature so that I miss it when life causes me to skip. And consistency in one habit can easily lead to consistency in another habit. I’ve enjoyed snapping pictures of the beauty of my neighborhood and visiting with my husband as well as extra reading time.

Lately, I’ve been working to get my 10,000 steps in every day. You see, two years ago I had a Hashimoto’s flair that left me until to walk long distances (or do much at all) for months. I was just miserably exhausted all the time. Since then, I’ve done what I can medically by switching doctors and using different medications that are more carefully monitored and by making good sleep and diet choices. Since my thyroid is much happier, I can get back to better exercise habits.

In March, Jon and I started walking in our neighborhood every day that the weather was reasonable. We’d stay within my body’s limits, increasing the distance we walked as it became easy again. (The summer in northeastern Oklahoma is not reasonable. It’s so hot and humid, and hard to breathe.) We’ve finally reached 10,000 steps a day. It isn’t easy yet, but it’s quite do-able. As long as I make time for it.

But making time for anything extra that is just for me is hard. Most days, Jon goes with me, but some days our schedules don’t align. Sometimes, a boy or three will join me. This week, I’ve often walked alone. I’m not usually a fan of audiobooks, but I got started on two different ones thanks to some of my favorite podcasts (Circe Institute’s Close Reads and How to Eat an Elephant from Center for Lit). So, walking has led to shoring up my listening abilities and a lot more reading.

BOOKS I read from THIS WEEK:

Note: I didn’t finish any books this week. But I read.

  • Madeleine L’Engle’s A Circle of Quiet
  • Gerda Weissmann Klein’s memoir All But My Life
  • Mark Buchanan’s The Rest of God (which didn’t make it to the stack)
  • Willa Cather’s Death Comes to the Archbishop (via audio… but it’s what the backward book represents)
  • Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace (also via audio, but I have a pretty copy)
  • Schweikart & Dougherty’s A Patriot’s History of the Modern World

Nourishing Ourselves: Cultivating Good Habits

I’ve spent a decent amount of time musing about and reporting on how we are educating ourselves and these boys. What we really found is that education goes far beyond just learning what you have to know to graduate high school.

Education is really all about choosing carefully what you put into your mind body and spirit. These choices that we make, sometimes hurriedly or out of desperation, have a lasting effect on the health of a whole person. Education is made up of habits. If I have a habit of reading, it’s easy to choose to read. If I have a habit of choosing to wonder at things I don’t understand, I come to understand them. If I have a habit of whining when I don’t understand, I’ll never learn the subject at hand.

I developed a rather useless habit of solitaire last year that led to many wasted hours. I downloaded the game because I needed a problem that I could solve. The world was going crazy, and everything felt hard. I couldn’t solve any of the problems of the world, so I solved card games. Jon plays video games occasionally. The boys constantly ask for more game time. I might as well join them. The outcome of that habit is that I read half the amount of books I usually enjoy in a year. I also wrote almost nothing, aside from what was necessary for HSOK’s social media. There is nothing wrong with those games. But they kept me from both productivity and rest. At first, solving meaningless problems helped me to process the crazy changes that were taking place outside of my home. But then, solving those puzzles seemed just as necessary as solving the actual problems that were mine to deal with. I deleted the Solitaire, FreeCell, and Tri-Peaks apps that I was using at the end of the year, along with Sudoku and Words with Friends.

The right habits to help me deal with things I don’t control are reading Scripture and praying, studying subjects I love and those I need to know, taking long walks, and escaping into good books. Those are things that restore me. I want my children to learn to work hard when it’s time to work and to rest intentionally when it is time to rest. And so, first, I have to learn it. That’s how parenting (and homeschooling) works: everything that the kids need to know, the parents have to understand first.

Jon and I both spent the last year burning the candle at both ends. While we did prioritize sleeping for at least seven hours a night, we haven’t taken any days off in months. We used four of his vacation days between Christmas and New Year’s so that we had an eleven-day weekend with the bank holidays and such. Those days were lovely. We thought we’d be bored after a couple of days of rest, but it turned out that we needed the whole chunk of time to see what changes we need to make.

Believe it or not, we can’t work all day and into the evening every day and maintain our sanity, whether that work is his full-time programming job or my tutoring jig or just homeschooling, parenting, and housework. Working around the clock just doesn’t work, so we are creating a habit of rest that gives us both time to read, write, think, and be.

Books finished this week:

(Some of these were started months ago, so don’t think I read every bit of all of them in a week.)

  • Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate (Fascinating story.)
  • Anxious People by Fredrik Backman (Fantastic! Highly Recommend!)
  • The End of the Affair by Graham Greene (Thought-provoking classic)
  • Switch On Your Brain by Catherine Leaf (Interesting)
  • Practice Perfect by Lemov, Wooley, and Yezzi (I read all of the headings and summaries, but not every word of the book.)