Sunday, January 27, 2013

Happy Birthday, Dear Bloggy! (Part One)

Classical Quest  is one year old today!

My mom showed up with this cake for my kids out of the blue the other day. "It was on special!" :) So I stuck a candle in it and dubbed it my blogoversary cake!

I took this pic on a whim. I'm an introvert - which means I'm usually not inclined to stand before a camera. (I could have at least straightened up my bookshelf! Oh well.) The books in the foreground are WEM titles which are stacked on my mantle. The camera is my Sony Cyber Shot. It cost less than $200. I use it to take all of my pictures on Classical Quest.


This past year of my quest has absolutely been a dream come true.

I'm not exaggerating. Not at all.

I've long dreamed of continuing my education, but there's only so far a person can go on her own without a network of challenging friends to bounce ideas off of! I have been abundantly blessed this year with witty, encouraging, intelligent blog-friends from all over the world. I love you people. Seriously, I do. You keep me on my toes. You propel me forward. You make me think harder, dig deeper, laugh louder. I wish I could give each of you a big hug in person.


So I'm looking back today - sharing some highlights from my journey thus far.

January 2012
Started this blog when my fifth baby was one month old. I had been crawling through the autobiography list from The Well Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had for years. At the rate I was going, it was unlikely that I would have been able to finish the five recommended WEM reading lists in my lifetime.

When I started this blog I was reading The Essays of Montaigne and I was positively aching to find people to discuss my reading with.


February
I had one faithful follower, my friend Christine, who used to blog at The Good, The Pure and The Lovely. She wasn't interested in reading through the WEM lists with me, but she was interested in encouraging me. I soaked up her praise like a flower in the sun.

I did a Google search for The Well-Educated Mind and discovered three blogs whose authors were reading through the WEM lists too!

A Classic Case of Madness

An Experiment with the Well Educated Mind

The Sunny Patch

What bliss to find kindred spirits!

After I introduced myself, the ladies from A Classic Case of Madness left comments here inviting me to join them in reading through the WEM fiction list.

I made the decision to switch from the autobiography list to the fiction list. (It was probably the best decision I've made on this journey so far.)

Read The Scarlet Letter along with my new pals.


March
Read Moby Dick. Enjoyed it way more than I ever imagined I would.

Collected 40 of my favorite quotes, which I will probably write a post about if I ever get a chance to take some pictures of the ocean.


Read A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, by Donald Miller Loved the idea of taking an active role as co-author (with God) in writing my own life story.


Joined The Classics Club. Though I haven't participated in many of their events, I have connected with some wonderful blog-friends through the club.

April


Read Uncle Tom's Cabin.

Participated in Anne Bogel's Blog Carnival at The Modern Mrs. Darcy, "The Book That Changed My Life".
Writing the post for the blog carnival helped me define the purpose of my quest.
Getting that post up was a major effort. Not long after, I was diagnosed with postpartum depression and nearly shut down my blog. I was struggling on all fronts. My posts became less frequent for a while.


My kids conspired with my husband to surprise me with this new bike. I've always wanted a bike with a basket!

May
I wrote two posts about Uncle Tom's Cabin which helped me define the way I wanted to use my photography on my blog. After this post and this post I decided to use my own pictures as much as possible.
Peonies -- my favorites.

Read Why We Can't Wait, by Martin Luther King Jr. -- not on the WEM list, but still a classic. I was glad I read it fresh off of Uncle Tom's Cabin.

June
Took a road trip to Ripley, Ohio to visit the Rankin House where Harriet Beecher Stowe received inspiration for Eliza, a main character in Uncle Tom's Cabin.

View of the Ohio River and the "One Hundred Steps to Freedom", from the Rankin House lawn. 

Wrote How Did She Do It? because I was still struggling and I needed some personal inspiration. I turned to Harriet Beecher Stowe to learn how to manage a large household and write too.


Read Madame Bovary.

July
Read Crime and Punishment.

Struggled to write. I had high personal standards for the kind of posts I wanted to create and my active lifestyle with five lively children was not blending well. I see now that I was lacking in two areas: sleep and overall time management.


As I relaxed on the front porch, my 2yr old brought me daisies.

To take some pressure off of myself, I started a casual side blog which I called "Quest Notes" (now archived). I lowered my expectations and just put up what ever I could. I was trying very hard to find a way to write everyday and stay sane too. The reality was I wasn't getting enough sleep at night to keep up with everything. I was constantly pushing through -- not feeling well but willing myself to move forward. The postpartum depression had passed, but I still felt numb most of the time. I wasn't giving anything my best.

We went tent camping for a week with my husband and all five of our kids. During the trip, I read about three pages of my WEM novel then stuck the book in the bottom of my suitcase.
My husband is a master at cooking over an open fire.
One of my favorite pictures. I took this while on our family camping adventure last July.

The camping trip was an exciting adventure for all of us. We made some splendid memories, but I returned home with mountain of damp laundry and a staph infection which I had contracted through breastfeeding. Things were thin here at the blog.



At the end of July two great things happened that helped propel me forward on my quest: I read an ebook called What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, by Laura Vanderkam; and I got a prescription for antibiotics.


In my next post I'll revisit highlights from August to January (including how I handled my first heckler). Thanks for stopping by for my blogoversary! Enjoy a piece of cyber cake. Zero calories! 


31 comments:

  1. Happy Blogoversary and thanks for sharing your pictures and reflections. I look forward to The Rest of the Story.

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    1. Thank you, Jeannie. It's been fun to reminisce!

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  2. This was really special! I'm so glad we've made a connection. Happy Blogoversary, and many more inspiring posts to you!

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    1. I'm glad too, Ruth. The day I found your blog I did a happy dance! I'm looking forward to many more exciting years of blogging alongside you!

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  3. This brought tears to my eyes. You share your heart with such transparency. I'm looking forward to reading your next post!

    With great affection,
    Christine

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    1. The famous Christine -- encourager extraordinaire! Thank you from the bottom of my heart. :)

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  4. Congratulations on your blogoversary :) You've had an amazing year!

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    1. Thank you so much, Jennifer! I really appreciate your kind comments! :)

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  5. Congratulations, dear friend! You are a source of encouragement, motivation, insight, and beauty. May you have many more happy years of reading and blogging.

    =Christina=

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    1. Christina, Thank you so so much for those sweet words. I could say the same of you and more! I cherish your sense of humor. Who could imagine how much we laugh over these old books? :)

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  6. yay! I enjoyed reading through it all! 5 kids! you are a supermom! Congrats! Cheers!

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    1. Thank you tabulyogang! Bless your heart! I am a very real mom with very real shortcomings. But my kids are great sports. They cheer me on and laugh with me over my scatterbrained ways.

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  7. Happy Blogoversary! Meeting you through your blog has been one of the blessings of the past year. Your post on the book that changed your life was what inspired me to read the classics. You are such a lovely person, and I always enjoy and appreciate your posts. Oh, and you were so sweet to take my Madame Bovary thoughts and bring them to life with beautiful artwork as a guest post - that was an honor. : ) I'm thankful for you! May God continue to shine through you in the year ahead - through your blog and in all parts of your life.

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    1. Sandy, you are so dear. This comment brings tears to my eyes! I treasure your encouragement. You have supported me through thick and thin this year. May God bless you and yours as well.

      P.S. The Madame Bovary post -- that was MY honor to publish! I was thrilled with it. (Look for mention of it in my next post, which I hope to put up in a few days.)If you ever start a blog of your own you've got a follower right here!

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  8. What an exciting accomplishment! I am so happy for you, Adriana. May this be the first of many blogoversaries! Jeni

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    1. Thank you so much Dearest. It occurred to me recently that most of what I know about blogging I learned from writing letters to you for seven years! I can't wait to look through our old correspondence together this summer!
      Love, A

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  9. Hooray! It was a delight to read your Part I post: the photos, the books, the life stories. I'm looking forward to Part II. I'm also looking forward to the day we all meet (wearing the P&P outfits from the photo above of course! :) ).

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    1. P&P outfits! LOVE. And if not the full costume, then at least the HATS!! We're going to have a ball traipsing all over the English countryside together someday! :D

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    2. Sorry to butt in, but have any of you ever done one of those "Which Jane Austen heroine are you?" quizzes? There are a number out there, but this one seems very accurate: http://www.strangegirl.com/emma/quiz.php. Even when I didn't know how to answer one of the questions & left it blank, the quiz still came up with what I'd consider exactly the right answer.

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    3. Come to think of it, I've never taken one of those quizzes and they do sound really fun! I'm hopping over there now! I'll let you know my result!

      Which character are you?

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    4. And I'm Elinor, your older sister. "Exert yourself, Marianne -- be composed!" :-)

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    5. "Happy, happy Elinor, you cannot have an idea of what I suffer."

      (I daresay, I found that retort irrepressible; however, I assure you, at present I am in excellent spirits. I am preparing to go for a walk in the countryside. Could there be any felicity in the world superior to that?)

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    6. I will not deny that I ... greatly esteem your plan. I like it, Marianne.

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  10. Happy Birthday to Classical Quest (and how nice to share a b-day with such a wonderful site)! These insights on what you did and what you were going through have been a treat, Adriana. And I can really relate to how some good meds are able to propel us past a bump in the road.

    Tim

    P.S. Heading over to read the rest of the story now.

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    1. Thank you very much, Tim. You are certainly one of those blog-friends I was referring to who makes me think harder, dig deeper, and laugh louder! :D

      And about your challenge yesterday: if it hadn't been for the comment you made at MMD, I would have been in with the crowd who won 20,000 interwebz! Just so you know!

      P.S. Part 2 Should be up Wed. or Thurs.

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    2. I'm going to award an extra 10,000 interwebz to you for being so forbearing.

      Looking forward to pt. 2, too!

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Blessings,

Adriana