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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?
 
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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....

 
 
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This all sounds great !! Love your challenge and will be following along. Sorry about your mum and your anxiety about her arriving. You have a good plan to make it go easier though <3 

 

Good luck!!! xx

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5 hours ago, Ann of Vries said:

 

  • 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.

Don't try to be me. I have a lifetime of experience at it and you'll never catch up. Be you, and you will be amazing.

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1 hour ago, Tanktimus the Encourager said:

Don't try to be me. I have a lifetime of experience at it and you'll never catch up. Be you, and you will be amazing.

 

Excellent advice.

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Looking forward to the food writing. I like to cook too, and keep thinking to write about it more on my thread, but I forget.

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Good luck with the family visit!  I know how tenuous those can be.... stick to your guns, you got this!!

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So, we're off to a smashing start!

 

I noticed a missed call from Mom this evening. I thought, "I should check the flight info while I'm thinking about it." I find it in my BuJo. My heart does a flip flop. I look at the dates. I look at them again.

 

I call my mother back, "So," I say tentatively. "You should be leaving for the airport in a few hours then?"

 

Somehow--I think I must have put it in my calendar wrong--I thought she was arriving Wednesday night. No. She's arriving Tuesday night. Two more days of prep now squished into one.

 

I guess there's nothing better than a deadline in your face to get things done....

 

*facepalms*

 

 

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6 hours ago, Ann of Vries said:

So, we're off to a smashing start!

 

I noticed a missed call from Mom this evening. I thought, "I should check the flight info while I'm thinking about it." I find it in my BuJo. My heart does a flip flop. I look at the dates. I look at them again.

 

I call my mother back, "So," I say tentatively. "You should be leaving for the airport in a few hours then?"

 

Somehow--I think I must have put it in my calendar wrong--I thought she was arriving Wednesday night. No. She's arriving Tuesday night. Two more days of prep now squished into one.

 

I guess there's nothing better than a deadline in your face to get things done....

 

*facepalms*

 

 

 

At least your missed call wasn’t “I’m at the airport, where are you?”  Have a good visit.  Remember, she’ll be going back home, so all you have to do is power through.

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A drive-by update. Rowan had his Doljanchi (Korean first birthday party) this past weekend. I think it was a little disorganized, but for a party with 30+ adults and 7 one year olds, I have to count it a success! I'm waiting on photos from guests as I was too busy to take many, but here is Rowan in his traditional hanbok for the occasion.

 

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He's a toddler now! NF, you were with me when he was born. I can't believe it's been a year!

 

The visit with my mother is going surprisingly well. There is a language barrier issue still causing communication difficulties (and hampering the ability to just chat casually), but overall we are getting along fine. It's a little strange, but refreshing. 

 

My mother has become really into fitness in her retirement and is used to taking many classes a week, so we've been walking, walking, walking several miles a day. I'm definitely getting a workout! 

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Another drive-by update: Hi, I don't even know what week it is.

 

Anyway, 3.5 days left of this visit. It's been difficult and exhausting. Not in the ways we expected, but it hasn't at all felt like a holiday. I'm looking forward to having our routines (and my kitchen) back. Rowan really loves getting out in the world outside our front door, though, so I need to get more of that into our daily life. What he doesn't love, though, is that going out all day to entertain my mother has usually interrupted his nap and meal routines, and he's been underslept and overtired most of this visit--which makes my work as mother and daughter all the more challenging. (Especially since he really hasn't taken to her *sigh*.)

 

What I really wanted to post about, though!

 

I mentioned in my last challenge that the pounds had been ticking slowly-but-surely down, but I didn't feel I looked any different when I looked in the mirror. At the Doljanchi last weekend, several people I hadn't seen in months mentioned how much I'd slimmed down. So! I guess I must be. Hurray! (I also need to remind myself that some of the weight I have is new muscle from carrying this 11kg Enting around every day.)

 

That is good motivation to continue what I've been doing. And actually, I want to try incorporating some exercises (like squats) in with my traditional route of walking. And I think my future 4 Week Challenges are going to start focusing more on the Fitness side of Nerd Fitness. We'll see.

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OH MY GOSH that birthday outfit!!!! I LOVE IT!!!  What a cutie!!!

 

I deeply understand that feel about family-oriented holidays - NOT a vacation in the smallest sense of the word at all!! ;_____;  It's almost like you need another vacation to recover from THAT vacation! I know you can hang in there for these last few days and you'll have your space back (and sanity) VERY SOON!!! <3

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I just dropped my parents off at the airport after their once every 6 months visit, so I understand what you mean. It is nice to see them, but they are a lot of work. And are getting to be more work as they get older.

It doesn't help that my mother and wife, while very cordial, don't completely get along. I need a vacation from my weekend, glad I am at work now ;) 

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My mother is on her way to the airport. The child sleeps. 

 

Peace at last. (At least until Rowan wakes up, but he's the chaos I welcomed into my life.)

 

Today I will be cleaning up the aftermath (literally and figuratively), dealing with critical tasks I couldn't while I had Mom underfoot, and trying to get routines back in order.

 

The Hearth Flame still burns.

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12 hours ago, GoodDoug said:

It doesn't help that my mother and wife, while very cordial, don't completely get along. I need a vacation from my weekend, glad I am at work now ;) 

 

I'm used to being at odds with my mother, and that she was a lot less judgy than she's ever been meant that while we weren't exactly BFFs, we were at least in a more neutral state. (Although yesterday I did tell her directly to get out of my kitchen :P)

 

On the other hand, this was really the first time that my mom and Mr have interacted for a length more than a meal, and a lot of the tension in the house was about managing the two of them!

 

The next time we see mom will probably be in 2-3 years, and it'll be somewhere neutral in the mainland US--a bit more central for everyone. Mr says it's going to be at least a decade before he's willing to have her stay at ours again :P

 

I'm so glad that's over.

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The first part of this challenge is complete. I am now embarking on the rest of my challenge.

 

Tend to the Flames

I have reclaimed the kitchen as mine, reorganised it, threw out the Mom Food that wasn't going to get used, stored away the stuff I do expect to use. (Unwilling to eat British food, she basically created her own larder while she was here.) Last night I made an easy paneer/pea/spinach/tomato curry with gorgeous spice paste made by a friend and quinoa. Mostly to use up things in our fridge/freezer.

 

Stay on my Feet

Took the Enting to the park yesterday, where he crawled and cruised and what vegetation he wasn't wearing he tried to eat. But he enjoyed himself.

 

Last week, I read a BBC article about screen time for toddlers that also mentioned that they need 3 hours of active time a day, and not to have them restrained (ie in a car seat, carrier, buggy, etc.) for more than an hour at a go. Rowan must have been reading over my shoulder because since then, while he still loves being carried, he doesn't want to be carried for nearly as long of periods of time. This will make taking long walks a bit more difficult, but eventually I'll be chasing him all over and it'll make up for it.

 

Now that my mother is gone, we're focused on our next trip--we leave for Austin TX in three weeks! Eep!

 

Write My Family Saga

I haven't had much time for this, but during my mother's stay I had some ideas regarding a memoir/autobiographical novel I want to explore more for potential, so I'm trying to jot down notes when I can, and think about it when I can't.

 

Tap the Creativity of the Hearth Fire

It's a new term at my Hogwarts Knitting group--time to cast on something new!

I've also been working on a new character for a LARP starting this summer. *squee*

 

Friends and Family are Welcome Here

We are organizing some friends over on Sunday for a table top RPG session. I don't expect to play much--it's hard enough while wrangling the Enting, but also I found that if I had to choose between trying to play and short-changing the quality of the food I served, I'm happier focusing on the cooking. It's just less stressful. So I'm currently planning a meal that needs to be dairy free, gluten free, and halal.

 

Hm. My life is really food-oriented right now!

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Sounds like you have things under control <3 

 

That curry sounds amazing :D

 

Glad you have things back in order xx

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4 hours ago, Ann of Vries said:

Now that my mother is gone, we're focused on our next trip--we leave for Austin TX in three weeks! Eep!

 

I'm in San Antonio, about an hour away. Austin is a great place to visit, I would just like to point out that San Antonio is the tourist capitol of the state ;) 

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2 hours ago, Tanktimus the Encourager said:

I'm in San Antonio, about an hour away. Austin is a great place to visit, I would just like to point out that San Antonio is the tourist capitol of the state ;) 

 

I went to San Antonio a few years ago on my last visit to Austin (my paternal family is clustered there), it's reputation is well deserved! It's Mr's first real trip out that way, I suspect my sisters will take us there again. 

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3 hours ago, Ann of Vries said:

 

I went to San Antonio a few years ago on my last visit to Austin (my paternal family is clustered there), it's reputation is well deserved! It's Mr's first real trip out that way, I suspect my sisters will take us there again. 

I can tell you all the best places in San Antonio for Breakfast Tacos. Austinites will try and tell you they have better breakfast Tacos. They will be wrong. Be nice to them in their ignorance ;) 

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13 hours ago, Tanktimus the Encourager said:

San Antonio for Breakfast Tacos

 

Are breakfast tacos only for breakfast? And are the Austin ones any good, despite not being as good as San Antonio's? Asking for a friend.... (well, for Mr who loves Mexican food, but also is very keen to try real Tex Mex.)

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