Here's a recent dish cooked up by Chef Phil and his assistant, Caitlin: chicken & vegetable stir-fry (I can take credit for some of the chopping).
In addition to working around the house and focusing on his professionally-oriented sabbatical activities, the Cantor has been walking and exercising every day, and I have been walking a lot more than usual. After a short hiatus from French class (mostly for my benefit), we have taken it back up again, and I have found that a calmer, more rested mind can learn more effectively than an exhausted, stressed out one (who would have thunk it?). The older two children are close to finishing their math books for the year, and we are taking a relaxed approach to our ongoing history study (we are doing the classical 4-year sequence in about 6 years). We have been getting doctor, dentist, and veterinary appointments out of the way, working in the yard (it looks better this year than it ever has, but there is still so, so much to do), and going through piles and boxes of stuff, getting rid of what we don't need and organizing the rest. And we got our passports for our upcoming trip to Grenada! (All of this while continuing to invest significant energy towards the new Lutheran organization, Brothers of John the Steadfast.)
I have made some progress on my personal task list as well. First priority was cleaning the master bedroom, which has been neglected for far too long. My general approach seems always to give preference to the rest of the house (because that's what people see, after all), saving our bedroom for when I have more time (which of course I never do) and making it the repository for all the stuff I can't figure out what to do with. So the piles grow and the dust accumulates and I almost hate to go into my own room. That is not how it should be. A friend mentioned to me a philosophy that the master bedroom should be the most important room in the house, a sanctuary for Mom & Dad, a place for them to go for relaxation and time together. Our room has not been that for a long time. So last weekend (while my husband and son were out of town), I gave it some much needed attention. I'm so proud of the result I just have to share it.
Here's my dresser (look Ma, no clutter! . . . although if you look very closely you can see some paperwork and storage boxes hiding behind the far end of the dresser under my laptop--those boxes contain at least a day's worth of sorting, filing and organizing.)
Opposite the bed is our desk and entertainment area (I know the picture is dark, but that's a television and CD player on the left). According to the previously mentioned sanctuary philosophy, neither the ironing board in the previous photo nor the desk in this photo should be here because they signify work--not what the master bedroom should be about. But I'm not sure where else I would put these things. As I look at this corner, though, it occurs to me that it would be an awfully nice place for a comfy reading chair.
I'm going to try really hard to keep our room looking nice. I have noticed in the last week that when I go in our bedroom there is indeed a sense of peace and order that helps my overall attitude. It's kind of like the bedroom is a reflection of my inner self. And in the same way that taking care of myself makes me better able to serve others, taking care of my personal space enhances my ability to face the world (and the rest of the house).
There is still much that I want to accomplish this summer: filing some papers and shredding others, printing and cataloguing my digital photos, reading, organizing mementoes and keepsakes, starting a blog for young writers, training my children on more cooking and household chores, doing some small house-painting projects, planning and organizing for the next school year, and more. Do you think I'm being a mite too ambitious? There are only three weeks until Vacation Bible School (for which I am doing the preschool music) and then it's off to Nebraska for the synodical worship conference. Note to self: keep breathing. It will be okay.
Lest my family start to worry that the old driven, task-oriented me is regaining ascendancy over the new, relaxed and happier me, here are a few silly faces for your entertainment. (It's a tradition in our family to take the serious shot, then the silly shot, so we have accumulated a number of these over the years.) These were taken just a few days ago. I think I'll remember the expression on my face and use it again--it may look totally stupid, but it sure does minimize the wrinkles!