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I'm back for another! The last challenge had its issues, plagued with... well, endless plague. But we're all on the mend now. My big success was that (somehow) I managed to knock off those last increments to return to my pre-pregnancy weight! Just less a year since I gave birth. Hurray! So let's carry on to the next. Who am I? I'm Ann of Vries, aged 39; a diarist, a fiber artist, a gamer, a traveler, a hiker, and a first time mother. I’m madly in love with my partner, Mr of Vries and my son, Rowan of Vries, who will turn one year old at the beginning of this challenge! Wow! I live in London, after having emigrated from Seattle three years ago. I love it here, although I’m still trying to find my tribe (outside of the House of Vries, of course). Keeper of the Hearth Flame One of the insights from my last challenge was that—when I allow myself to—I really enjoy doing a lot of domestic activities. I love keeping house. Spending time with my Enting, cooking, knitting, creating a warm space for family and friends, etc. (But not cleaning. I still don’t much like cleaning :P) Since that’s where this volume the books of my life is currently opened, I’ve decided to fall into it. I love the concept of being the Keeper of Hearth Flame. The Challenge: Protector of the Flame But this role I've newly embraced won't start easily. During this challenge, my mother is coming to visit for 2 weeks. I won’t turn this into a novel of all my Mommy Issues, but suffice to say we have a tenuous, rocky relationship and have done so since I was little. I have to break contact her for years at a time due to her toxic behavior. But she’s really keen to finally be a grandmother, and she’s the only grandparent Rowan will have (my father is in poor health, Mr’s parents are already gone), so we’re extending the Enting as a literal peace branch. Here’s hoping it’ll be successful. The thing is, my mother has never come to visit me. Since I was little and she left, I have always visited her, and I haven’t seen her for anything as long as two weeks since I was a tween! She has little understanding of how I live, or what I do with my time, or my family's values. She has always had her own version that I should fit, and our distance has largely allowed her the freedom to believe I am the daughter she wanted me to be (think materialism and keeping up with the Jones'), rather than the geeky, wonderful, odd duck that I am. And the odd duck that I married so we can raise our wonderful, unique family together. Sorry, those pesky Mother Issues are slipping in…. I will—in the kindest ways possible—protect and defend our lifestyle, values, and home from her criticisms and demands that I immediately change things because she thinks it should be different. I’m almost 40. It’s not that I can’t change anymore, but I’m not a child to be bossed around. This is my family, this is my home. I will protect it from those who seek to attack it. Use adorable grandchild as shield Keep Mother as busy as possible with London activities Be gentle, but firm about shutting down her criticism. This is our life, not hers. She will be here from 0.5 week to 2.5 week. After that, life returns to our version of normal, and the remainder of the challenges will begin in earnest. Tend to the Flames Cook, 5 days a week. We are a food-positive household. We love good, healthy, home-cooked food in reasonable portion sizes. I enjoy cooking. (As does Mr, so he cooks on the weekends.) I may not be able to compete with @Tanktimus the Encourager's lavish food writing, but I may just give it a try. Find my peace in creating a clean space. 5 minute tidies, re-framing, whatever it is, I want to find my pleasure in a tidy, comfortable (although, not spotless) home. Stay on My Feet I need to continue to get out for my sanity and health. I have another 10 pounds or so I'd love to lose over time. Daily outings - big or small. Whether its a walk to the park, the grocery store, or a museum, I want to try to get out once per day and be on my feet. As usual, illness and particularly inclement weather will not be penalized. Write My Family Saga Journaling is important for both keeping track of items, but also my mental health. I will continue to explore my psychic space and record my own family story. Make time to spend in my notebook, particularly during naps. As little or as often as I need at the time. Tap in the Creativity of the Hearth Fire Cook at least one new dish a week Knit, and take part in the House Cup on Ravelry Explore other avenues of creative expression as they come Family and Friends are Welcome Here For the last year, baby has taken the front stage and I've usually been crushed by the time he finally goes to sleep. This was largely inevitable. But I'd like to begin increasing my quality time with Mr.. Play board games and other activities together after baby bedtime At least once, join Mr at the Saturday Markets he goes to Propose family walks and outings to stretch our legs Continue looking for a well-priced secondhand jogging buggy so we can run together And, we are still looking to build our tribe. We did good on this during the last challenge, and I want to keep the momentum. Keep reaching out and making and tending to connections. Keep our home a warm and welcoming place for friends to visit--with good food, good company, games, and other group activities. That's more than enough bullet points to keep track of, I think....