Saturday, December 26, 2015

Back to the Classics Challenge 2016: Reading List

Having finally (FINALLY) completed my degree, it's time to get back in touch with the Amelia who used to stay up until 2am reading classic books. I was excited to find the Back to the Classics 2016 reading challenge to get me started and keep me accountable.  You can find all of the rules here
and sign up to join in the fun!  I've started to keep a list of possible books, and will continue to add to it as different classics come to mind.

1.  A 19th Century Classic - I think I'd like to try Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy.  I watched the film adaptation a few weeks ago and now I want to check out the book.

2.  A 20th Century Classic -

3.  A classic by a woman author. Pat of Silver Bush by L.M. Montgomery.

4.  A classic in translation.  Something by Tolstoy.  Maybe Anna Karenina?

5.  A classic by a non-white author

6.  An adventure classic.

7.  A fantasy, science fiction, or dystopian classic. 

8.  A classic detective novel. I dabbled in some Agatha Christie again last year, since I've only read a handful of her books.  I'd like to read some of her Poirot novels.

9.  A classic which includes the name of a place in the title.  
I've heard a lot about A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

10. A classic which has been banned or censored.

11. Re-read a classic you read in school (high school or college).  Jane Eyre or perhaps some Dickens (provided that I can get the Much Beloved Books cabinet successfully unlocked).

12. A volume of classic short stories. Hangman's Holiday by Dorothy Sayers

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Identity Crisis

I officially had my first pregnancy-hormone-induced nervous breakdown the other night.  I wish I could say that it was because I was watching a really sappy movie or reading a make-your-heart-ache book, but I wasn't.

I was reading an article about classical education.

(Back story: one of the many advantages to being homeschooled forever is that I have been exposed to many different types of home education styles over the years, thus making it clear which styles I would like to try with my own children.  Since I find myself leaning strongly toward a literature-based education that teaches my children to THINK, I'm reading what I can about Charlotte Mason/classical education in an attempt to blend the two.  We'll see.)

Anyway, I was sitting there reading my article about classical education and Steve was playing some Star Wars computer game.  It was an innocent-the-children-are-magically-asleep-before-eight kind of evening that we only dream about.  The article's author was illustrating the benefits of classical education by describing the achievements of her now-35-year-old daughter: she taught herself multiple languages in highschool, excelled on the SAT, received a National Merit Scholarship, studied English literature in Oxford, studied for her MDiv, wrote books, founded a publishing company, and was currently studying for her doctorate in American Literature while homeschooling her four boys.

That's when I started bawling.  Steve said, "What's wrong?"  I sobbed, "What's wrong with me?  There were all of these things that I was interested in and I'm just as intelligent of a person and I love literature and England but none of that stuff happened to me! I want to BE that type of person!  And I actually want to be Jenny Beavan, too.  Yet here I am in a sleepy, boring little rural Nebraska town, changing fifteen poopy diapers a day and breaking up fights and it's just the beginning!  And I can't seem to finish a degree in anything no matter how hard I try!"

I managed to stop blubbering and Steve said some things about how it wouldn't always be like this (except my mom says it will be if you have a million children) and I nodded.

But at that moment I did feel very very far away from the Amelia-that-once-was.  I felt eons away from the girl who read every Dickens book one summer and who wanted to get an English Literature degree from the University of London.  I felt immensely distanced from the person who pored over costuming books and magazines and websites and worked for months to create an intensely historically accurate garment.  I even felt far away from the more-recent Amelia who wanted to go to seminary and write books that actually made a difference in people's lives.  I felt like all of those dreams and ideas that I fostered Before Marriage and Children were now a lifeless, mostly-deflated balloon, barely able to bob above the floor.

What was the point of it all?

I think that the point of my sobbing session was to bring to the forefront of my sleep-deprived mind some important issues: where did I truly place my identity?  And how was I supposed to reconcile my God-given interests with my God-given circumstances?

Where is my identity?
Of course, I would say that my true identity is in Jesus Christ, having been ransomed from the punishment for my sin by his death and redeemed to live a sanctified, God-glorifying life by his grace.  And that is what I would say and that is what I believe to be true.  But I think that functionally I get a off-track sometimes by what I want people to see and notice about me...and not notice.

After Clara got married just six short months after me, we would get together and commiserate about how everybody still referred to us as "the Hajda girls."  But we weren't the Hajda girls anymore.  We were grown-up, married ladies, with new last names and new-ish lives.  Now, there's nothing wrong with being a Hajda (I'm quite glad to be one, you know), but we got rather sick of it being the only way people thought of us.  What about who we were as married women?

I think that I face a similar identity issue with being identified as a "mother."  Something in me bucks against the prospect of being only known by and associated with diapers and organic food and debates about circumcision and homeschooling methods.  Because while I can appreciate those things, it's not fundamentally me.  It's not Amelia.  So I want people to see me as being identified with something else: theological bents, literary intelligence, and the ability to conceive and write sewing tutorials that can spank the pants off of Prudent Baby.

The bottom-line, scary issue is that I desperately want people to see and appreciate ME as I've identified myself.  I functionally don't really want them to see Christ in me, as he chooses to place me in my current lay-down-your-life circumstances that are anything but glamorous or mind-stimulating or glaringly productive.  Suddenly my apparent "deprivation" is really just pride and self-righteousness...just sin.  Yikes.

But thankfully, because I really truly am identified in Christ, I can repent of that sin and experience his forgiveness and a change of perspective.  I know that such deep-seeded identity issues can have many layers and may take many different occasions to "work through," but I am grateful for seeing a glimpse of where the major source of my angst really lies.

Then the next question arose in my mind: okay, so I do have these life-long interests, that I believe are God-given.  What do I do with them?  
Do I wait until my millions of kids are grown up?  Do I just go ahead and pop my already deflated balloon and resign myself to the fact that debating cloth diapering methods is my only hope?  How do I deal with the daily grind of wiping little fish-belly-white bottoms AND touch base with those aspects of life and godliness that really rejuvenate and inspire me?

In short: how do I read more good books? Expand my sewing knowledge and design experience? Write thoughtful blog posts?

After mulling this over, three things come to mind:

1. Put my identity in the right place.
I don't have to put my identity in my ability to do all of these great amazing things.  I can just go back to enjoying these interests for their own sake.  That removes a lot of the pressure.  (In theory, if I remove my identity from my ability to sew, I should be able to redesign a pattern without wondering what people are going to think of it.  In theory.)  This is by far the hardest thing for me to do, requiring me to rely daily on grace for change and to not get discouraged from lack of response from the perceived "public."

2. Plan.
Last week I had about three blessed hours in which to sew or craft or do  And I spent those three hours digging around in my fabric scraps, and rummaging around on Pinterest boards all to absolutely no avail.  I was very crabby.  If I'm going to grow in my interests, I'm going to have to plan for them.  It's the plain and simple truth.  I need to select a pattern or design interest and buy or acquire the needed materials and set aside the time to work on it.  I need to figure out which book would be worth my while before spend an hour reading the potentially lame-o sample on the Kindle.  I need to keep a notebook handy to jot down ideas for a blog post, so I don't spend all of nap time tapping my fingers aimlessly on the keys.

3. Adjust expectations.
I have to face it.  Gone are the days when I can spend six hours on a Saturday watching Pride and Prejudice and meticulously hand-hemming hundreds of yards of pleated silk ruffles.  I simply can't indulge in a many-hour C.S. Lewis reading spree.  But I can learn to be content with the 30 minutes during naptime to finish another chapter or the hour or two during Steve's days off to make progress on another project.  And when I'm prioritizing interests I might just have to admit that my kitchen won't always be spotless, or we might just have to eat a frozen pizza once in a while.  It's all for a good cause, right?

This is getting rather lengthy, but it feels good to type it out.  I feel hopeful that I can get back in contact with those ideas and interests that once inspired me without placing my identity in them.  And I feel like I can continue to pursue what I love alongside of rather than instead of the responsibilities and circumstances that God has given me.

My children are starting to get restless, so I'd better scoot.  Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Life of late

First and foremost, a most HEARTY welcome to the world, Elizabeth Lucille Williams!  Of course, it feels like Betsy as been here forever already, but it is awfully nice to put a sweet little fatty face with her name.  Goodness, she's a sweetheart, and my sister is wonder woman for getting to the hospital 15 minutes before delivering Betsy (without an epidural, obviously).  I definitely think that is the way to have a baby!  (I'm also grateful for Clara going to all of the work of getting Betsy out since holding her sweet little baby self has renewed my excitement for having Rodgers Child #3.)

We had the stomach bug of Horrible last week.  It was the weirdest stomach-related illness I have ever encountered, especially the Puking-Again-After-Feeling-Fine-For-Three-Days-Part-Thank-You-Harriet.  Somehow we managed to keep up with about nine thousand loads of laundry, and to keep it from spreading to Steve, but wowee.  I don't want to do that again.

Speaking of sickness, I'm relieved to report that ye ol' morning sickness has waned considerably in the last week or so.  This is a blessed relief since I was getting pretty weary of lounging about on the couch trying not to puke while watching Thomas the Tank Engine on repeat.  Well, Harriet was watching Thomas.  I was trying to block it out of my mind.  I realized that when you have morning sickness with kid #1, you can indulge in the miserable.  When you have kid #2, you can sort of get by and keep throwing toys and Cheerios in the older child's direction to keep her occupied.  But when you have kid #3?  You have to drag yourself out of bed, make breakfast for everyone, try not to get sick, change all of the diapers, attempt some laundry, figure out lunch, and deal with a two-year-old wondering why Mommy is being so boring, and a one-year-old who thinks, "Oh my gosh!  Mommy is sitting down all of the time.  NURSING PARTY!!" In any case, now the worst part of the day is the few moments before breakfast and then things start settling down nicely.  I'm grateful.  We will survive!

I mentioned to Steve last night that after seeing Betsy I really want to have another girl.  I need another girl to balance out the extreme Man-Childness that is Edmund Paul.  But if cravings and sickness are any indicator, then I'm betting on another Man-Child.  Oh well.  We'll see.

All of this sickness and being out of sorts has resulted in Harriet ramping up her need to be in charge of the world, including her parents.  This has been distressing to me because, frankly, who feels like arguing with a two-year-old from 6:40am to 8:30pm?  And who wants their beloved two-year-old to grow up into an intolerable control-freak?  Not me.  I was nearly in tears the other night because I just couldn' and I was earnestly praying that I would have some wisdom about how to deal with her constant arguing and controlling.  I want to enjoy Harriet, you know?  Anyways, I was thinking about really defining in my mind the rules that are non-negotiable.  These obviously concern her safety and general well-being.  Having recommitted myself to these rules, I determined not to argue about stupid things like if her doll carrier is a wrap or a backpack and just ignore her.  If she pushes the issue and throws a fit trying to get a reaction from's time out time.  Then the major moment of divine inspiration struck: make a routine sticker chart.  Harriet always, without fail, argues with me about our daily routine.  She knows what she's supposed to do, it happens the same exact way every single day, it's not rigorous or unreasonable.  She just is constantly pushing each step of the routine to see if Mommy is in charge or if Harriet is in charge.  SO.  I made a nifty little chart with pictures of each of the steps of her morning routine:

Here we have eat breakfast, get dressed, fix hair, watch a movie, do a craft project, read books, and eat lunch. Of course, there are other things that we might do in a given morning, but these are the basic items of which a normal morning routine consists.  The chart is on regular 8.5"x11 piece of paper, and my plan is to just print off a new one every morning.  As soon as she completes part of her routine, I give her a sticker which she places on the associated picture.  I explained all of this to her yesterday afternoon after she had done each part of the routine that morning.  She was super excited as we placed each sticker on the pictures and was particularly thrilled to share her results with Steve that evening.  I was curious to see if she would still be as excited about the chart this morning, but when I presented her with a blank chart she got right to work telling me which item she needed to do first.  It was amazing.  No arguing, no back talk, no tantrums.  If she ever asked me if she could do something that wasn't on the chart (usually asking to watch a movie when it wasn't time yet), I would direct her back to the pictures on the chart and she would readily get back into the groove.  Suddenly, she was in "control" of her morning - while I was really still in control.  Haha.  And now the debate isn't between us as mother and's between Harriet and her chart.

I'm seriously praising God for this inspiration.  I don't know how long the goodness will last, but I know that February 19th 2013 was a much better day.  Ah, parenting.

Good news with our new house prospect!  We have a tentative closing date on March 15, assuming that the loan process will continue to go smoothly and that the current renters will be able to find a new location.  I'm crazy happy about this.  I have to admit that since starting the process of buying a new home, I have totally lost any drive to further organize our stuff in our teeny little house.  Why bother?  Pass those moving boxes, please, and let's get packing.  I keep having dreams that we are already living in the new house: I'm giving baths to the kids in the claw foot tub in the upstairs bathroom, decorating the dining room, etc.  I love it.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Valentine's Day at the Rodgers Abode

As the kids get older, I get increasing excited about starting our own little family traditions centered around holidays.  I really love Valentine's Day and always have (not just since having a Mr. Wonderful), so it was fun to think of what we could do together as a family that would just be fun, and pink, and celebratory.

Thanks to Target for the super-fun plates and cups.  A few weeks ago we each picked out which dishes we would like to have and then I stashed them away for our Valentine's Day breakfast.  The cinnamon rolls were a total Pinterest fail.  You see, I saved the pin of the heart-shaped cinnamon rolls that was captioned: "made from refrigerated cinnamon rolls."  So that's what I purchased, only to discover that the caption was highly inaccurate and the actual recipe for heart-shaped cinnamon rolls was made from homemade dough - which would have been much healthier/easier to work with.  Consequently, we had nasty refrigerated cinnamon rolls, much to the delight of the children.  And veggie-fied scrambled eggs, which was actually even more of a hit with my veggie addicted children. 

[Steve finds a French music album on Spotify]
Me: Haha, Steve, what's a loosely-inspired French breakfast without using our Le Creuset pan?
[violent cracking noise]
Me: OH NO!  The pan just CRACKED! [freaking out]
Steve: Well we need to contact their customer service.
Me: Or I need to make sure that I'm not setting it down on a calrod that is still on.
Steve: Oh.  I guess we need to get a gas stove, huh?

Valentine gift bags from Grami Cami and Grandpa Paul.  Jolly fun.

(Methinks they are just a little bit related.)

Anyways, I'm continuing to learn that the best laid parties of Amelia will inevitably have catastrophes like Pinterest fails and broken stoneware.  And many spilled glasses of water.  But I think we had fun and I look forward to bringing the dishes out of hiding again next year.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Pictures and such

Last week I got all of Edmund's First Year pictures printed and placed into a photo album.  This deserves some kind of FlyLady/Over-Achiever/Cool Mom prize because I'm not really sure how I happened to actually locate all of the needed pictures and get them all printed and find an appropriate album to house them.  But it happened and I'm glad to have one thing that I want to do actually accomplished.  It might make a difference that there were quite a bit fewer pictures of Mr. Second-born.  And I didn't think of doing this with the kids' pictures until Harriet was already two years old, so I have a lot of catching up to do with hers.

The thing that cracks me up when I look at a year's worth of pictures of Harriet or Edmund is that they look exactly the same as newborns, infants, and toddlers.  Of course, they change physically (and thankfully lose that awful newborn alien look) and they develop personalities, etc, but the expressions both kids made as fresh-into-the-world-people are the ones they make today.  Harriet still looks as though she is trying to make the world succumb to her will through her intense stare.  And Edmund still looks basically chill and jolly.  It's funny, and not an unusual situation I'm sure.

Speaking of pictures, when I was sorting through Edmund's photographic documentation, I found the extras/outtakes from our family Christmas card shoot.  Granted, these are from October-ish, so they are old.  But they are pretty funny and since my camera is still MIA, this is what you get:


Wait.  Where did the hobbit come from?

"They're taking the Hobbits to Isengard!"
All credit goes to Clara who is ready at a moment's notice when I say things like: QUICK!  We're wearing socially acceptable clothing that kind of coordinates and both of the kids took naps this afternoon!

Friday, February 1, 2013


  • Mom fail: We got to Kearney for Steve's Bible study on Wednesday morning on time and in fine form...until I realized that Edmund didn't have any shoes.  Or socks.  And it was 12 degrees with a windchill of -3.  Good job, me.  So if you saw a rather frazzled looking mom with two blanket-wrapped pajama'ed kids dashing around Wal-Mart at seven in the morning buying socks and shoes, that would have been me.  
  • One good thing about the new shoes for Edmund is that they provide a lot more stability in his standing than his Robeez-style shoes.  He is getting bolder about transitioning between furniture and pushes a car "walker" thing all over the house.  I can tell he's ready to make some sort of major developmental milestone because he has been so crabby.  He tries playing with things, but then they don't work like he desires (i.e. tiny object won't fit into tinier hole) and then he whines and moans and throws himself into a prostrate position onto the floor in utter despair.  He was just moaning about something a moment ago, but I decided to ignore him and now he's playing calmly again.  Phew.
  • A positive Edmund event?  He gives hugs voluntarily.  And if you mention hugs, he goes "GRRRRRRRRR" and tenses up every muscle in his body and squeezes something.  It's pretty adorable.  He's going to be ONE WHOLE YEAR OLD in two weeks!  What in the world?  I have to say that I really love having two toddlers.  Being able to communicate with and do things with both of them is pretty awesome.
  • Harriet is completely absorbed with Toy Story 2 right now.  I'm relieved to have a movie playing that actually has a plot that an adult can appreciate.  Way too much Kipper the Dog lately.  We watched Windstorm in Bubbleland together this morning and even though it was her first viewing (maybe?) she has been singing the songs all day.  So much love in this situation.
  • We're plodding along with the home loan stuff.  As anyone who has purchased a home already knows, it's a lot of hurry up and wait.  We had been communicating with a loan officer dude for two weeks and discovered today that we are required to have six months of payments for both properties with a paper trail.  So no tax refund and no gifting from others (both of which are in place for use) will suffice.  Frankly, if we had that much money habitually lounging around in our savings account for months, I think we'd be going for a conventional loan directly from a bank.  Seriously, the illogical nature of this requirement makes my brain want to explode.
  • Five minutes til five.  We've been designating 5pm as our "anchor" during which we pick up toys, finish up laundry/dishes and prepare supper.  Having this in place has been so freeing because knowing that I will have a set time to do chores prevents me from obsessively cleaning all day and getting freaked out when the kids mess it up.  Little things, you know?
  • It's going to be hard waiting until Steve gets off to eat the roast that's cooking away in the oven.  It smells incredible.  
  • Cheerio!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Brain Blank

I seriously think of things to type all day long and then once the kids are finally asleep and I'm finally sitting down with ice cream homemade chocolate greek yogurt I seriously cannot put two thoughts together.  This may have something to do with losing concentration skills due to E's frequent night wakings, or it could be because Jazzercise is a brain bender this week.  It might just be that so many things are happening right now that I can't keep it all straight.

The latest greatest excitement is that we are going to try to buy another house.  "Whoa, wait," you say.  "Don't you already own your house?"  Yes, we do.  But the truth of the matter is that our current home is quite small (smaller than a typical one bedroom apartment) and we have reached a critical point in which the Small Rodgers Children need to have their own room.  Also I would really appreciate it if the massive toy collection could move out of the living room.  And the bathroom sink could be located somewhere besides our bedroom.

Don't get me wrong, I love this little bungalow.  I love my yellow and white living room.  I love the huge backyard.  I love its cozy cuteness. However, my love for it can't increase space.  And we need more space.  It's always been a thought to build an addition... to convert the garage and add on to the back of the house.  Once again, reality trumps fantasy as any improvements we would make would not change crucial issues like a) the bathroom, or b) the teeny dining room, without borrowing a considerable sum of money.

So anyways, we have a home that we are seriously considering.  It's exciting and frightening all at the same time.  All along the way I've been praying that God will make it clear if we are to proceed or not, and so far proceeding seems to the action we are to take.  Sometimes I wish that decision could be made after knowing all of the possible issues or future concerns or whatever, but since we can't really know everything (obviously) we're going to have to make our plans as wisely as possible.  And I have to trust that God will lead us in the direction he wants us to go...and that he really isn't out to get me.  Why is that so hard to grasp sometimes?

In any case, this is probably why my brain is fried.  I also am reading about five books at once and I really want to review some of them, so stay tuned....