Elizabeth A.S. Brooke

Crafting, traveling and everything in between.


Juggling schedules

Classes start next week, so Chris and I have been discussing how we’re going to manage the pup’s care. Specifically, making sure someone will be available to take her outside for a bathroom break and administer her meds during the day.

On some days, Chris could leave mid-morning, especially when he has evening meetings. He’ll be able to take her outside one more time and make sure she receives her midday pill before heading to the office. Within 5 or so hours, I should be back home and will be able to take care of any other needs.

But there are going to be days when Chris can’t arrange to leave later in the morning, and my schedule will not allow me to get home any earlier. So we’re looking for other alternatives. Back-up plans, if you will.

The in-laws have offered to swing by during the lunch hour or to watch Sidney during the day. For them to watch her, Chris will need to drop off and pick up Sidney from the in-laws’ house. It’s a little out of the way and will add to Chris’ hour, one-way commute. People do this daily for child care, so it can’t be that much of an issue, right?

The in-laws can’t, understandably, be available every day. When they can’t help, we may hire a pet sitter. Does anyone have any experience with those? We’re thinking, at most, we might need assistance 2-3 times a week.

I’m hoping in a few weeks my schedule will allow me to be home by early or mid-afternoon, which won’t be too long for Sidney to wait. Until then, we’re gonna have to make it through the next four weeks.


Are you brave enough to be vulnerable?

I’ve thought about vulnerability off and on for the past few months after watching Brené Brown’s 2010 TED Talk.

I often wonder if I can bare my soul. Can I publicly and honestly share how I feel or what I think? Being vulnerable means taking risks. Am I willing to fail in such a publicly way?

More and more I think being creative, whether in the traditional sense of the creative arts or in the sense of problem-solving or starting new programs or businesses, is about vulnerability. You have to be willing to take action and make decisions that exposes you to criticism and failure. To make connection of any sort, as well, requires that you reach out and live authentically. No matter how much it may hurt in the end.

I find Brown’s talk inspiring and am very glad she decided to be vulnerable and share her work with TED and others.


Settling in

We officially moved into our new home last weekend. I’ve been rearranging things, unpacking and generally settling into our new space. Chris didn’t begin his new job until Wednesday so he was around the first part of the week to help.

This weekend we’re adding shelves and a light to a basement closet, adding drainage pipes to our gutters, hanging pictures and setting out decorations. We hope to spend some time exploring more of our new neighborhood before another long work week begins Monday.

Things from this week:

  • We saw DeSales High School 2014 graduates walking down Kenwood Drive to Iroquois Park, presumably for their graduation. Many people cheered and honked car horns as police vehicles escorted the seniors across roads and side streets.
  • I’ve got my library card! The librarian, who registered me, is pretty darn cool. All the libraries in the city are linked so you can order a book and have it shipped to your home branch. Then you can drop the book off at any city library. No need to have it sent back to the branch you checked it out from.
  • Kentucky requires you to visit two different offices to get your driver’s license and tags. To receive the tags, the sheriff’s office has to inspect your car.
  • Like North Carolina, if you’re not registered with one of the two major political parties you don’t get to vote in primaries. I like Virginia’s system better. You get to vote in either primary no matter how you’re registered. That’s great for when the real race is the primary. Oftentimes the only contenders are from the same party.
  • In some large cities, residents and employees have to pay income taxes to the municipality.
  • Fences can be a source of tremendous stress. If people would be true to their word, life would be much more pleasant.

I start a summer program June 30. That’s six weeks to get into a routine here at home and to finish getting things organized and into place. Classes begin Aug. 4. I need to pick up some school supplies before then — a required iPad, a study table or desk, etc. The remaining tools will be bought during orientation the last week of July .


Thanks, Nicole, for the thoughtful gift!

I spent a lovely lunch with former coworkers last week. It was an opportunity to catch up with people I haven’t seen in awhile, and I’m glad I asked my former boss to organize it. It was such a joy!

My friend, Nicole, brought me this:

A thoughtful gift from a dear friend.

A thoughtful gift from a dear friend.

Each book has a special meaning attached to it.

Little Women — I remind my friend of Jo March. Nicole told me this once a long time ago, though I’d forgotten. I have an old copy of Little Women, published in the late 1800s or early 1900s. I’ve read it at least five times. I think it’s about time to read it again.

Persuasion — Nicole’s favorite book. I’ve never read it, so I’m looking forward to it.

The Great Gatsby — Another favorite of Nicole’s.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff … and It’s all Small Stuff — I’ve heard of this book, of course, but have never read it. Nicole thought it would be useful.

And, most importantly, a Starbucks gift card! I’m sure I’ll burn through it quickly when classes start this summer.

Thanks, Nicole! I appreciate such a thoughtful gift.


Quick update

Hi! Just a quick update. The last couple of weeks have been keeping me on my toes. Most of last week was spent painting rooms in the new house. All that is left is some cleaning of the floors and we’ll be ready to move in. I’m blessed to have great in-laws who’ve spent days helping us get it ready for us. This week has involved a lot of packing, phone calls and donating books and other items that didn’t sell at a yard sale we held this past weekend. The Final Move Date will be a lot sooner than expected.

Last week also brought along with it some unexpected and sad news. My mom’s 42-year-old boss passed away of a heart attack. I attended the funeral with several of my family members last Thursday. The man leaves behind two young kids, a significant other, parents, brothers and many other loved ones and friends.

I spent most of the following week in disbelief and shock. I’ve known him 22 years and he’s not much older than I. It’s just hard to imagine he’s really gone. I also spent a lot of time thinking how life is so fragile and fleeting. Our bodies are miraculous and can show amazing strength, but, at the same, time our life is so fragile.

Among the rabbi’s stories of our friend’s generosity and caring spirit, the assembly recited Psalm 23. I couldn’t do it. I would have started bawling if I did. I’ll end this post with it. Until next week:

Psalm 23 (ESV)

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures.

He leads me beside still waters.

He restores my soul.

He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil,

for you are with me;

your rod and your staff,

they comfort me.

You prepare a table for me

in the presence of my enemies;

you anoint my head with oil;

my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me

all the days of my life,

and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.


What is oil pulling?

A friend posted a link to an article about oil pulling a few days ago. I’ve never heard of the practice and, like most things I read online, I was skeptical. So I did some digging.

The practice involves swishing a cold-pressed oil, such as olive, sesame or coconut, in your mouth for 15 to 20 minutes. It is touted as an ancient Indian practice of oral health that can whiten teeth, freshen breath and rid the oral cavity of germs and bacteria. The link my friend posted included claims that oil pulling rids the body of toxins and has cured people of psoriasis and other ailments.

There have been some studies on the practice, but they focused on the oral benefits. See here, here and here for some examples. The Coconut Research Center makes claims of additional health benefits for using coconut oil in the diet, but I didn’t see any research supporting the additional claims of oil pulling.

I’m late to the game as Snopes just posted an article on this yesterday. And a HuffPo author wrote about it as a beauty tip in October.

So, it looks like you might get a pretty, healthy smile after an extended, daily use of oil pulling, but there doesn’t seem to be any strong evidence for the other medical claims. You’re just gargling with oil for a few minutes everyday, so it probably wouldn’t hurt to try. You could always ask your doctor or dentist for more info to see if they’ve heard of the practice and what their thoughts are about the practice.


Quick update

I’m peeping in for a quick update. The last couple of weeks have been spent meeting with Realtors, looking at houses, speaking with inspectors and making plans. Oh, and packing, driving and unpacking a 20-foot U-Haul. We couldn’t have been able to do so much without the help of friends and family, to whom we’re very grateful.

Lots of changes are happening, and they’re occurring much quicker than I thought possible. Though I’ve been really stressed, which I think has exacerbated my asthma and allergies, I can’t help but stop and acknowledge that God is good. After firing the first Realtor, we found a blessing in Anne. She’s been a great resource and has been quick to respond to inquiries during our house hunt.

After walking through several disappointments, we found a home that was too good to be true that had only been on the market for 10 days and was in the neighborhood we liked. Our offer has been accepted and now we’re in negotiations about the house inspection. There are quite a few things we want to address, but many can be expected for an older home and are acceptable at a home at this price point. They are, however, still negotiation points. Some things, however, should be fixed before moving forward. I hope the current owners are amenable and understanding. So far I feel like negotiations have been fair and honest. Hopefully we’ll have a home ready to move into on Final Moving Day in a few months.