Vivid Dreams, Missing Teeth, and Links

IMG_2361 During both pregnancies, I have had really vivid dreams. When I was teaching, I would dream the next day's lesson plans in full detail and wake up exhausted because I would have to actually live each day again (or so it felt). Now I just have vivid dreams of everyday situations that leave me a tiny bit confused when I first wake up. Did I really see that person or not? Did that conversation really happen?

It's weird. And to Jon's surprise, I even dream while napping.

Anyway, I was napping the other day and having my typically vivid dreams. If you follow me on Instagram, you saw that a few weeks ago, Liam was walking on the sidewalk and fell. The next morning, we found out he had cracked one of his front teeth from top to bottom (it had been whole-looking when we brushed his teeth the night before). At a traumatic first dentist appointment, it had to be removed. Since then, we are always terrified when he falls that he will hurt the other tooth. (Though I was fairly calm the first time, I think I might shed some serious tears if that happens!)

[embed]https://instagram.com/p/7IppQwJEYB/?taken-by=heathertencza[/embed]

So the other afternoon, I had a dream that somehow the other tooth fell out and I was guarding it for Liam. Every aspect of this dream was vivid (though strange). For example, we were at some party at a restaurant. Somehow it was my tooth in my mouth but really I had to reinsert it and keep it for Liam. I finally stuck it back in and then I lost another tooth. This whole experience felt vivid down to the touch of the tooth and the fear of pain when I put it back in.

Then the teeth wouldn't stay. I'm so sorry if you're not a tooth person and this seems disgusting. It was a truly haunting dream. Right before I woke up, the tooth fell out for good. I was coming to terms with the fact that Liam was going to be missing more teeth (as was I).

When I woke up, I reveled in feeling all my teeth with my tongue. Then I started trying to figure it out. I had tooth falling out dreams all during college and teaching. When I finally talked to someone else who also had teeth-falling-out dreams, we looked up the interpretation (mostly as a joke). Apparently these dreams represent a fear of failure, which explains why I haven't had them since my teaching days (at least not often enough to notice).

But what does it mean that I was losing my child's tooth (rather than my own)? I am guessing it means I have a deep fear of failing my child. Or maybe it's a simple fear for his teeth? Or my own? Maybe I shouldn't have skipped flossing the night before. Or maybe I just need to schedule a long-procrastinated dentist appointment for myself.

It's hard to say for sure, but if you're qualified to interpret dreams, I obviously need help.

On to the links I've loved: 

  • I half-admire, half-want to question this couple who lives their lives as if they are in Victorian times. It was fascinating to find out that their use of Victorian-era appliances has made them appreciate quality even more.
  • I loved Lindsey's thoughts on old-school Internet and blogging.
  • Liam and I recently made this apple cake. It was delicious (and would have made the house smell so good if not for the spoon that melted in the dishwasher at the same time).
  • This article on the death of the party gave me a lot to think about, especially in terms of how social media and Netflix have changed our social habits and desires.
  • Both of these articles on our transition to a victimhood culture and the dangers of trigger warnings for students were fascinating reads.

Hope you have a fabulous weekend!

What I'm Into (April 2015)

IMG_8970

This month started off warm and has ended up being a bit chilly at times (not to mention rainy!). As much as I love summer, I do prefer this gradual transition to the hotter months.

We've playing on the deck, taking walks in the (light!) evenings with Jon, splashing in water with toddler rain boots, and (to my surprise!), doing some home projects.

[embed]https://www.flickr.com/photos/htencza/17126882477[/embed]

We moved into our house over a year ago, and after painting the rooms and cabinets and hanging a few things, we stopped working on it. I kept wondering if maybe our house would stay that way forever (maybe we would never get the motivation to complete new projects), but then this month, it just started happening (as, I argue, it usually does!).

[embed]https://www.flickr.com/photos/htencza/17126882187[/embed]

We finally got curtains in the living room (so that we're not putting on a nightly show for neighbors anymore) and hung pictures (Michael's had a 3 for 1 sale on frames!) and shelves. Each simple change makes me smile, and I love how our house is coming together. We even became adults and did some outside work. Maybe next April we'll do a few more projects.

The language and words of toddlerhood make our lives so much better. I love being able to have conversations with Liam. I know that blog readers find my child every bit as fascinating as I do. So I'll tell you that he tells himself "No" quite loudly if he is doing something he shouldn't (like standing on a chair). But he'll follow it up with "yeah, yeah, yeah" if he thinks we should allow it. He asks for what he wants and is obsessed with the moon (he pronounces it "moan"). One of my favorite words he says is "purple," and I can't quite capture how he says it.

[embed]https://instagram.com/p/1JII8bJEQZ/?taken-by=heathertencza[/embed]

Reading: 

After finishing the last two books of the Outlander series, I thought I would have series withdrawal and find everything else mediocre. However most of what I read this month was fabulous. I especially loved Leaving Time and could spend an inordinate amount of time watching elephant videos. In every other conversation, I refer to The Power of Habit. 

source

Five Stars: An Echo in the Bone, Written in My Own Heart's Blood, Leaving Time, The Invention of Wings, The Power of Habit

Other reads: Dad is Fat (I enjoy the light reading and laughs of celebrity nonfiction, but the writing style and structure is just not my favorite).

Currently Reading: All the Light We Cannot See, The Sweetness of Forgetting (audiobook)

Liam Reads: Kitty Cat, Kitty Cat, Are You Waking Up?, Kitty Cat, Kitty Cat Are You Going to Sleep?, Have You Seen My Dragon (For this last one, I follow Janssen on Instagram and LOVE her book recommendations!).

Cooking: 

I finally jumped back on the meal-planning train. Meal-planning has been an intense learning curve for me. I am learning to plan leftovers for Jon's lunches better thanks to Plan to Eat. Plan to Eat makes my grocery list take one third of the time! I LOVE it! I plan to incorporate some of the comments from Anne's recent post as I plan our menu this week because I need some good, spring dinners. What we cooked this month:

  • Chocolate Chip cookies (always!): For some of what I've learned, see this post.
  • For small group, we did a Chipotle spread and made this marinade for our chicken. It was unbelievable (it makes two batches, and I used the second batch a few nights ago).
  • I'm still obsessed with this pizza crust from The Nester, mainly because pizza crust is almost always last minute for us!
  • We're totally into this baked oatmeal (it is the best!). We make it occasionally after Liam goes to bed as a treat.

[embed]https://www.flickr.com/photos/htencza/17332448682/[/embed]

Links and Tidbits (There are a lot, and they're so good!)

  • Elise's podcast is one of my favorites. She is super professional but also very relatable and so creative. I loved the podcast on creating each day (episode 39) and her interview with Jessica Turner of The Fringe Hours (episode 56).
  • This article discusses the trend of fast fashion--inexpensive clothes and constant style changes. It was really helpful for me to see how much pleasure shopping--and especially getting a deal--brings our brains. (Found through Becoming Minimalist)
  • I loved seeing how a new hair part can change your look (even more than a haircut!). There are some great tips here!
  • I've been grappling with the language of faith and struggle lately, and I loved Addie's post.
  • This articulates one of my pet peeves when talking about money--acting like there is one solution or one thing to save on. The truth is, we all have our blindspots financially, and also, as this article says, there are many ways to get it right. (Found through Modern Mrs. Darcy, which has a gorgeous new design).
  • Elise blogged about her fitbit, so I decided to borrow Jon's and try it out. I've learned two

    katemiddleton

    things. First, I get more steps that I would think. But to really get enough steps, I do need a daily walk. This can be hard with an opinionated toddler who wants to walk on his own (and I love letting him!), but I do need intentional daily exercise. The sleep log was also enlightening/depressing (#nightweaningdropout)

  • I totally agree with Haley about how getting rid of possessions is the only way to conquer clutter.
  • Though I generally don't follow celebrities, I'm a little obsessed with the Duchess of Cambridge (who just had a baby girl today!). I shamelessly stalk her and love her maternity looks. If only I had looked that good in maternity dresses! (#whalejokes) Maybe if I had a tailor. Or generally carried a bouquet. But probably not. Also, the mostly-alliterated captions on this slideshow are too funny!
  • In the midst of our small home improvements, I found this blog and loved perusing the archives.

[embed]https://www.flickr.com/photos/htencza/17332458252[/embed]

It seems like lots of grocery stores are having Mexican food sales for Cinco de Mayo. We are having fajitas tonight, and I'm super excited!

I'm linking up with Leigh Kramer for What I'm Into.

What have you been into lately? 

Links Before Thanksgiving

IMG_2499 It's the day before Thanksgiving. This time of year features a clump of the least common birthdays in America (mine is also on the list!). My brother gets into town today, and then the whole family will be together. Our biggest change to Thanksgiving this year is attempting a fresher recipe for green beans (as opposed to green bean casserole, which everyone seems tired of). Thanksgiving foods aren't my favorite, but I have started to look forward to them more each year (except for two years ago when I was experiencing morning sickness).

In the spirit of sharing, I wanted to give you some of my favorite links lately.

On a serious note, regardless of what you think about Ferguson, this article was really thought-provoking.

On the lighter side, this NY Times article shares recipes for Thanksgiving from every state.

This modern guide to Thanksgiving from Bon Appetit had some great reminders. For example, don't forget to bring something no matter what the host says.

I also loved Shauna Niequist's article about Thanksgiving. When Shauna Niequist advises you not to stray from the traditional foods, you know you should listen. (Although, as I said, we are trying to replace the green bean casserole).

The Nester has a fabulous post about hospitality toward oneself. It makes me think again about sacrifice vs. self-care.

This article about how mini habits can lead to lasting change is fascinating.

And in case you're still thinking through your Thanksgiving outfit ideas, this flowchart will help you know whether you're wearing pants or not (i.e. leggings/tights).

If you need some non-Thanksgiving but still fall recipes, try the Pioneer Woman's Chipotle Chicken Chili or these pumpkin muffins.

As always, thanks for reading. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Ponderings on November First

DSC02258 We woke up to find a light dusting of snow this morning. It seems a bit much, but at least the snow waited until November. Every day we lose more leaves, but it has been so gorgeous out. I'm not quite ready to have to bundle up in order to leave the house.

I've been so tired this week. I'm not sure if it's the colder weather or recovering from the busyness of our trip last weekend. I seem to get super tired around this time every year. I always forget about it until the next year. But it has been very discouraging to feel so tired. I've taken long naps each day (even though they don't seem to help much), and I'm popping my vitamins.  Do you feel extra tired as the seasons change and the days get shorter?

While my oatmeal cooks*, I want to give you a few things I've loved this week.

1. I love this post about productivity I found through Modern Mrs. Darcy. The fourth point is particularly interesting. To me, it explains why sometimes it's okay to let housework and smaller tasks slide while you tackle a bigger project.

2. This post from Art of Simple articulated some of the thoughts that have been spinning around in my head recently. I love how she shows that simple living doesn't look one way or necessarily mean less of everything.

3. If you're in the trenches of sleep deprivation with an infant OR a child, this post from Coffee + Crumbs was perfect.

4. One of my favorite podcasts is Kat Lee's "How They Blog." She has a great idea I'm trying to implement about having multiple hats and focusing on one at at time. I could explain it, but you're better off listening to her explain it here.

5. I loved Lindsey's post this week about getting dressed. My capsule wardrobe has helped tremendously with this.

And I'll leave you with a picture of our little cow from last night. We found a cow suit in a bag of hand-me-downs and discovered that pressing the front of it makes it moo. Perfect.

[embed]http://instagram.com/p/u14b_dpEe2/?modal=true[/embed]

*and eat it and entertain a very demanding toddler while typing one-handed...

Pondering (and What I'm Trying Not to Ponder)

photo (46) We've had two days in a row where I can taste fall. We've opened the windows to air the house out, and I can't get over how clean it all smells. The night before the first one, I suddenly just felt like I couldn't do it anymore. I felt like our days had become so mundane, and with Liam's virus and the general fatigue that created, I just felt lost. The next morning, the autumn air jerked me out of myself. It was the perfect refreshment, and I am so thankful.

I was sitting on the porch blowing bubbles with Liam yesterday and trying to clear my mind. I wanted to stop my constant inner writing. But even while I was attempting this, I was thinking about writing about it. Ugh.

So in an effort to free myself, I wanted to share with you the thoughts that are running in circles through my head. Please feel free to chime in! I'd love to hear what you think.

1. Tiny Houses 

When am I not thinking about tiny houses!? Liam and I watched the documentary Tiny in fits and spurts over the last two days. I loved it (and he loved the occasional dog or cat or chicken in the film).

First, I liked how the project built Christopher's maturity. I love how Christopher's girlfriend, Merete, talks about how this project will mature him by forcing him to think through what he wants. His mom mentions this, as well, and explains how a project of this size will change him. I've been thinking about the concept of maturity a lot lately. One woman in the film says that building her tiny house was the hardest thing she ever did. I so admire these people, and I think back to the hardest thing I ever did--delivering and then caring for a baby. Attempting and completing a project bigger than ourselves changes us and matures us tremendously. I want to always be dreaming and completing.

tinyhouses

Second, I find it interesting that these tiny houses are so beautiful inside. The real wood walls make our own painted walls look cheap in comparison. And the kitchens are lovely. It's one of the main principles of minimalism to have less but have the best. This appeals to me on so many levels, and I wonder what it would be like to live knowing you crafted your home and crafted it so exquisitely.

Lastly, I love the way the documentary ends with a message about starting where you are. It makes me think through how to keep beauty around us while getting rid of excess. I still am not sure how this looks in my life. I do hate having so much space to keep clean!

However, as I admitted last week, I do love having the space a house provides. We don't have a huge house, but it definitely feels big after living in apartments.

Though our current house isn't that big, I do love having space to comfortably have friends over, and I dream about using our sunroom for homeschooling one day. With kids, it seems nice to have a house with space. After all, I want our kids to be able to bring their friends over and to want to spend time here. I love having a guest room so family and friends can visit. I know these things aren't necessary, and we would be okay if we couldn't live in a house, but I do like it. Is this just part of my materialistic side?

I highly recommend the documentary. It will give you a lot to think about and maybe a new perspective.

Also I need your help! At one point, Christopher's family brings up the economy and talks about how if people stop buying so much then jobs will be lost. I've heard this reasoning before, but do you know of any good books/resources that explain this in more detail and offer a solution? 

2. Modern vs. Classic Novels

Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy wrote an interesting post about why she sometimes needs to read an older novel after reading so much modern literature. I love her point that older novels have more layers of complexity that often take multiple readings to unfold.

In addition to Anne's theory that part of this need for older fiction has to do with complexity, I also think that it has to do with cultural artifacts. In Hold On to Your Kidsthe authors write:

Culture, until recently, was always handed down vertically, from generation to generation. For millennia, wrote Joseph Campbell, "the youth have been educated and the aged rendered wise" through the study, experience, and understanding of traditional cultural forms...Essential to any culture are its customs, its music, its dress, its celebrations, its stories." (9-10).

They explain that culture now is transmitted horizontally (from peer to peer), and this has some dangerous consequences. Up until fifty or sixty years ago, the older people in a society passed on wisdom to the young through stories, music, and rituals. When we open an old book, we get those years of wisdom we may not find in a modern work.

IMG_9082Like Anne, I only recently started reading modern fiction. I had to force myself to take a Contemporary Lit class in college because I was overwhelmed by where to start but knew that I should keep up with modern fiction as a teacher. Current literature is excellent, but there is something in me that longs for a Classic after too much modern literature. I've recently started Bronte's Shirley, but I have to admit, I'm not used to having to force myself to get into a novel (with most modern literature, the author pulls you in quickly!).

3. Gates and Reading

Sarah Bessey wrote the best post on choosing carefully what we see. I always struggle with how to think through this, but I love how she applies grace. She talks about how our eyes and ears are gates and we must guard them--not in a legalistic way--but in a way that leads to our wholeness.

My favorite part of this article is quoted below:

It’s funny how much I’ve tried to pretend that I’m beyond being influenced. Like I’m supposed to be so past it, so over it, that it doesn’t bother me or impact me. Like what I listen to or watch doesn’t affect what I think and how I speak and how I move through my life, how I view humanity and violence, sex and God [...]

Guard your gates now means that we get to decide who influences us – how we think, how we feel, what we do.

photo (47)

It makes me think about how I don't always struggle with obvious books or articles. Sometimes, I pick up a book and know it will make me feel guilty or overwhelmed (in a bad way--which is different from conviction which I often do need). This is hard to put into words exactly, but have you ever known that reading a new book will change your thinking negatively or disrupt where you are in a bad way? Recently I started a book about simpler living, but it made me feel like I needed to overhaul our entire lives, which isn't where we need to be right now.

4. Regional Writing

We talk about shopping local, and in "Viral Blogs Posts or Local Liturgy," Seth Haines writes about writing for your local area. It has given me a lot to think about, particularly in light of this post about authenticity and blogging. I want to make sure I am the same person here that I am in real life. I also want to consider what it looks like to have my local community--my place and people--figure into my writing and what it looks like to have my writing be located here and for the people here. 

5. Fingerprint Words 

This article was fascinating! What words have you found that you have either picked up or had stolen? I remember thinking a particular friend was so old-fashioned for using the word "bizarre." Now I use it almost every day. But I'm not sure I heard her use it at all when we talked recently.

And what I'm trying not to ponder? I made the mistake (as a somewhat germophobic person) of reading this article from Real Simple about the cleanliness (or lack thereof) of the air in our homes. I feel that if I tried to maintain the level of cleanliness that would prevent us from dying of gross indoor air, I would die of exhaustion. But I'm still pondering it... or trying not to.

Please tell me what you're thinking about any of the above!

As always, thank you for reading, and feel free to check out Raising Kids These Days. The posts this week were about toys and how I stopped feeling guilty over the fact that my son didn't have a bedtime. And I always do weekly links.