Saving My Live – COVID-19 Edition

We are just over 24-hours into a stay at home order and on day -5 of home learning. Our spring break started this gradual-but-fast lockdown and I’m so thankful we had a full week to rest, get outside, and not worry about schedules, routines, and the rest of the school year. This past week has been a “soft start” to finding new routines and rhythms. We’ve gotten outside as much as possible, knowing that even our trails may be taken away if we’re not responsible.

Frank and I were reflecting on the tension of this new normal. In some ways, staying at home and together suits our family dynamic well. The girls love slow mornings, self-guided learning, and playing together (most of the time!) Frank has moved his office to the basement and we are so thankful for the fact that he already had a dedicated space mostly set up – it didn’t take much to switch over completely. I created workspaces for the girls in our library, right in the center of our house. And yet, there’s always that reminder that this sweet time is happening because the world isn’t normal. While I love having Frank home for every meal in the midst of tax season, I also recognize that this shouldn’t be happening.

But also in the midst of all the unknown, spring is arriving. The bulbs in our front yard are blooming and I wanted to take a moment to reflect on those seasonal changes that are saving my life. Like everything else, they look different than usual and specific to our circumstances. I think it’s important to mark these moments and I hope you will, too in the coming days and weeks.

In no particular order, these are my current lifesavers:

Republic of Tea Daily Greens
I had bought these packets of dried micro-greens back in January as an impulse buy at World Market and have been mixing them into water for occasional mid-afternoon energy slumps. These days, I’ve made them part of my daily routine. Usually, I enjoy them after our outdoor excursion while the girls are watching some pre-dinner screentime. I know it’s mostly psychological but in these day of limited freedom, I enjoy an extra boost of greens.

Nivea Creme
I brought several tins of Nivea Creme back from Paris last May and bought a few more this winter because Bea’s hands were drying out from the soap at school. With increased washing, I would massage it into her chapped hands each night. Now that we’re home and not using industrial soap, her hands have healed but using the creme has been a nightly help as we’re all still washing more than usual.

Quiet Rest
We haven’t done “quiet rest” since Bea was four years old. (I never really tried when Elle gave up her naps.) But now that we’re in close proximity and together all day long, an hour after lunch in our own bedrooms is necessary. Bea listens to an Audible book, Elle watches Storyline Online, and I’ve been working my way through Me and White Supremacy. I leave my phone downstairs and try to keep this time to truly rest. Earlier this week I was feeling heavy and sad and I was thankful for time to nap and rest my body.

Nightly Opera
We’ve started watching the Met Opera channel each night after dinner. We usually just get about a half hour in before bedtime but it’s been a fun way to end our evenings. Some operas spark our imagination and the girls beg for more at breakfast. This week is all Wagner and it’s a bit intense so we’ll just start it but usually don’t continue. We’ve never watched an entire 3-hour performance but I love introducing the girls to one of my favorite things.

Outdoor Spaces
Last but certainly not least is getting outside every day. I’ve never been so thankful for our backyard but there’s also something wonderful about getting out of our neighborhood. We have a state park just ten minutes away with a large network of trails. It’s been easy to find secluded areas to play and explore without running into other people. Watching other areas in the world and in our nation shut down even more because people aren’t following instructions, I want to be sure to get the girls out on trails as much as possible in case they close.

I know that these lifesavers will likely change often but for now, these simple things are what keeps me grounded. We are doing our best to follow the most extreme version of the guidelines so that we can help flatten the curve quickly and effectively.

What is saving your life in these early days of spring? How are they different in light of COVID-19?

Five Things I Learned in July

It’s August, which means school starts in just a couple weeks and our routine will start again. I’m thankful for this month off – we had a busy July and it was such a relief to know that I could focus on the present, to not worry about self-imposed deadlines. But, for the necessity of rest and rejuvenation, I’m also glad to be back!

I thought I’d start back with a few things I learned during July:

1) Finding God on Vacation
IMG_5400Frank and I went to Hawaii for five days, just the two of us. My cousin was getting married and we planned this trip back in February. Between the beginning of the year and our departure, a lot of unexpected changes happened. Suddenly, we wondered if going on this trip at this time was the wisest choice. But, it was already paid for and planned. As the dust settled around some big decisions, we realized that it was actually perfect timing. The smallest of details worked out – Frank had a week off before our trip so when we left, he had already started to unwind a bit to the timing Vacation Bible School at Bea’s preschool being the same week. We biked and swam and had coffee in bed. We were able to have actual conversations and process the past six months.

I had read a blog post right before leaving about not only finding God on vacation – that we needed to be able to find God in our daily lives in our ugly towns, as well. While I totally agree with that, it was nice to be reminded that God is in the details of a tropical vacation, as well.

2) Practice Really Does Make Perfect
Even though this break was necessary, I didn’t write on my own as much as I thought I would. We were busy with zoo camp and playdates and swimming and vacation. As much as I thought I would take the time I usually spend blogging to write for myself, without the accountability of hitting publish, it just didn’t happen. While I thought I’d have loads of ideas and posts ready to go for August, I found my brain going into summer laziness. I have a feeling it’ll take a few weeks to get back into the rhythm. And that’s ok. It’s still so necessary to take time off but I was surprised that I needed something more than self-motivation.

3) Recognizing That Books Fit a Specific Season
I’ve been trying to read War and Peace for over a year now. While we were packing for Hawaii, my thought was to only bring that one book so I would be forced to read it. But then, Unfamiliar Fishes arrived at the library and my online book club was reading The Thorn Birds. I brought those as backups. I read Unfamiliar Fishes on the plane ride over, justifying that since it’s about the history of the impact of missionaries on Hawaii, I had to read it before landing. And then I only brought my e-version of War and Peace and didn’t want to bring that to the beach. So, there it sat. I was kind of disappointed that I only added about 100 pages to my dent. A friend reminded me that Tolstoy isn’t going anywhere and that this simply may not be the best season for this particular tome. I deleted it from my Goodreads “currently reading” shelf so that my failure wasn’t taunting me and I’ve felt a bit lighter since. I know there’s some sort of life metaphor in there, but for now, my new goal is to read it before I’m 75.

4) Removing Social Media in Order to Connect with Social Media
I-joined-the-tribePart of not blogging was also taking an intentional rest from social media. I deleted the apps on my phone and only checked in during nap time. By quieting the noise, I was able to focus on a few Facebook groups that I had wanted to participate in. One is The Dangerous Women Tribe, hosted by SheLoves Magazine. These fierce women are changing the world and the daily conversations and interactions are truly inspiring.

I’m also on three book launch teams and it was nice being able to participate more in the discussions. I’m almost done with two of the books and highly recommend them! Adopted: The Sacrament of Belonging in a Fractured World by Kelley Nikondeha is available now and is an important look at the theology of adoption and how God uses the story of adoption to restore our relationships.

I’m almost done with Reading People: How Seeing the World Through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything by Anne Bogel, which releases on September 16 (but you can preorder now and get some fun goodies!) Anne breaks down popular personality frameworks into useable, helpful information. The chapter on Highly Sensitive People was such a necessary and enlightening read for me! If you’re into personality frameworks at all, this is the book for you!

Up next: Shalom Sistas by Osheta Moore and Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker – stay tuned for reviews and giveaways!

5) The Power of Routines in the Midst of Summer
I intentionally started our summer without many plans. I wanted us to rest, relax, have pajama days, and just enjoy the slowness of this season. Around the last week of June, Bea and I started really getting on each other’s nerves. No amount playdates or lazy days were helping. And then zoo camp started and she was engaged with a teacher every morning. She learned about habitats, pet animals, made new friends, and created her own habitat. And our relationship was restored! I still don’t believe in over scheduling summer, at least for our family in this stage, but it was a reminder that kids love structure and a kid like Bea loves outside stimulation. I think next summer, we’ll do zoo camp again and I’ll keep an eye on our rec center catalogue as well.

The summer is certainly flying by – Bea starts kindergarten in just a couple weeks and then I know I’ll be looking back at these unstructured days nostalgically. But I also know that she is so ready for the challenge and excitement of elementary school and I’m looking forward to seeing what this new season holds for us.

What are some things you’ve learned over the summer? What’s your favorite summer – lazy days, loose rhythms, or scheduled routines?

What I’m Into 2:15

I haven’t participated in Leigh Kramer’s What I’m Into roundup in a long time and for some reason, this February felt like a good time for a recap. It’s been two months since the move and we’re settling in, painting, organizing, and making a new house feel like home.

The weather this month has been a bit crazy – we’ve had days with picnic lunches and days with enough snow to go sledding in the neighborhood. I really can’t complain about our cold snowy days, since we aren’t packed in with ice and the sun comes out in between snows to help melt the sidewalks.

Feb 12 & Feb 22
Feb 12 & Feb 22

Read and Reading
After a slow start in January (I only read one book!), I managed to get back into my groove this month. I finished A Place of My Own by Michael Pollan. I love his books on food, and this one about building his own writing house did not disappoint. I learned so much about the history and philosophy of architecture as I followed Pollan along his amateur building adventures. I love his writing style and ability to meld storytelling with information so seamlessly.

I also read Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison and The Lemon Tree by Sandy Tolan. I reflected about both here on the blog and highly recommend both for their amazing storytelling and thought-provoking subject matter. (My post on Song of Solomon is here and The Lemon Tree is here.)

Right now, I’m finally finishing Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. I had started it before Christmas and for a variety of reasons, didn’t start it in time before needing to return it to the library. I finally worked my way up the holds list and returned to it as soon as I got home. Her description is phenomenal and I can see why she won the Pulitzer.

You can connect with me on Goodreads for all of my reading updates.

Home Improvements
Even though we thought we’d “live with” our house for a while before doing anything, once we started painting, it was easy to just keep going! At first I liked having all the rooms white – it seemed like a blank canvas. But, after painting the basement, Bea’s room, and Frank’s office, the more color seeped in, the more I wanted it!

We just finished our bedroom, and aside from a few decorative items (a reading nook for us with an icon corner is on the way), and I couldn’t be happier. I had seen birch wallpaper in photos for the past year or so, but the price was a bit shocking. So, I enlisted my dad to help us paint a mural. We decided to go with Aspen trees instead of birch, since it’s a bit more “Colorado.” It is amazing!! If you live in the Front Range area and are looking for affordable murals, I’d highly recommend hiring him! (Not that I’m biased…)

Custom aspen mural
Custom aspen mural

It feels so wonderful to be working through the rooms. Up next is (unexpectedly) the powder room. Frank and I also bought our first piece of artwork together for Valentine’s Day. We’re waiting for delivery and can’t wait to hang it in our foyer.

Screen Time
I probably shouldn’t even include this as a category. We tried going to the movies the other day and ended up just walking around and talking. Oops! Especially when face-to-face time is at a premium during tax season, the idea of sitting next to each other in a dark theater seems unappealing. Maybe we’ll watch something again someday… In the meantime, I found out Frank has never seen Jules et Jim, so I checked it out of the library and we’re hoping to watch it this weekend.

Blogging
Two blogs really stuck with me from this month: A (Love) Note From Your Personal Trainer by Megan Gahan (for SheLoves Magazine) came at a perfect time for me, right when I was at that thick-but-not-yet-pregnant looking stage. And I loved this very honest, very practical advice from Austin Channing, Putting in the Work, supporting people who are figuring out this reconciliation thing. If you’re not following Austin, I’d highly recommend her straight-forward writing.

Over here, my most popular post was Five Things Saving My Life. It was fun to write and think about. What’s “saving your life” right now?

I thought I’d leave you with my favorite picture from this month. Bea has taken her forthcoming role as “big sister” very seriously and insists on singing and reading to the baby everyday. It’s a precious time and I hope the magic continues when the baby is actually part of her life!

IMG_7201
Introducing the baby to Patricia Polocco

What about you? What are you into these days?

Linked with Leigh Kramer’s What I’m Into. Head over there for fun books, activities, and goings-on from February.

What I’m Into 7:14

July is a month of celebrations in our family. We celebrate our anniversary, Daisy’s birthday, my mom’s birthday, and Bea’s birthday. This year, in honor of our 5th, Frank and I took five days to explore Ouray in southwestern Colorado. We spent quality time hiking trails we can’t do with Bea, conversing uninterrupted, driving through beautiful scenery, and reconnecting.

For Bea’s birthday, my brother and cousin flew in from California to celebrate. Because we have a small house, we created a guest room behind our garden using our tent. With the room divider set up, it was about as spacious as our proper guest room, if a bit less convenient. It was a good lesson in hospitality with small spaces.

No guest room? No problem!
No guest room? No problem!

Bea continues to adore all things Daniel Tiger, so we decided to recreate a “Tigy” cake and she was over the moon. She absolutely loved having all her friends over and it was fun to see her understand that she was getting bigger. She kept shouting, “Happy Birthday, Beatrix! I’m two ‘ears old!”

Bea with her Tigy cake
Bea with her Tigy cake

We just dropped our last guest off at the airport and now the house seems a bit quiet. Even though a full house can have its stresses, I love being able to open our home. When we were all packed in the living room, eating leftover cake, Bea sighed and said, “My whole family is here!” There’s something special about instilling that importance from the very beginning.

Books: Finished and In Progress
I decided to read the rest of C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy as part of our Reading Challenge. Upon reflection, I think Perelandra was my favorite and, as Frank is reading Surprised by Hope, we are finding connections, which is fun. Next up is Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire.

A couple five-star reads this month were Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman and An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor. We are just barely into Season 1 of OITNB and the book helped me connect with Piper’s character. Though it doesn’t follow the series, the book brings up important issues around prison reform and has started conversations between Frank and I about ways we can help. An Altar in the World may be my new favorite book. I’m thinking of buying a few copies to give away, as I know I’ll be recommending it! In the midst of blog-style Christian memoirs, this is a refreshing, deeply written series of reflections.

Currently, I’m reading The Meat Racket by Christopher Leonard, about Tyson chicken. We only buy local, organic chicken, but it has made me question what I’m eating when we go to restaurants. Definitely an eye-opening, thought-provoking book, though it is a bit dense and slow-going for a July read.

You can connect over at Goodreads and Pinterest for all of my reading activity.

Blogging
Many bloggers seem to be taking a summer break, which has been nice for me and has freed up reading time. Over here, my most popular was Freedom. My own favorite was Bagging Peaks. I’m still trying to figure out this blogging groove and have been really pondering what this space is about and for. Thanks to all who read, respond, and encourage. I do appreciate it!

Around Town
The Denver Botanic Gardens has a Dale Chihuly exhibit up right now. I love his whimsical style and have only seen it displayed in museum settings. The way the sculptures are integrated into the gardens is fun and natural. If you haven’t yet been, I’d highly recommend. Get there early (they open at 9:00) because parking fills up quickly!

What about you? What are you into these days?

Linked with Leigh Kramer’s What I’m Into. Head over there for fun books, activities, and goings-on from July.

What I’m Into 4:14

In our family, April comes in like a lion and out like a lamb. The last big push before the April 15 tax deadline means late nights, working weekends, and hardly any family time. It’s pretty rough, and I am thankful that my parents live within an hour’s drive and we have a good group of friends as support. Frank took last week off and we had a staycation of resetting and reconnecting as a family.

Some highlights from last month were Bea’s first Easter egg hunt:

Bea quickly exceeded the 15 egg limit.
Bea quickly exceeded the 15 egg limit.

Building a fence around the garden in the hopes of rabbit-proofing. (And Bea- and Daisy-proofing… Bea adores her new tools and wants to till the soil constantly!)

Tilling with her new tools.
Tilling with her new tools.

Books: Finished and In Progress
April was filled with fun reads. I’ve started the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series to read between books, and they’ve been fun, quick reads. I just finished the third book and, though I enjoyed it, am glad I have a stack of other books before continuing the series. Rachel Held Evans rereleased her first book, Faith Unraveled. I’ve been a fan of her blog for a few years and this book held great insights into her journey and helped me appreciate her quest for justice even more than I had. Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things sucked me in and I was surprised at how much I came to like the main character, Alma. It made me want to read Origin of Species. I finished the month with Anne Lamott’s Stitches. Very short, but filled with such wisdom.

I just finished Elizabeth Esther’s Girl at the End of the World. I received a free copy from Convergent as a participant in their Easter series. It was a well-written, eye-opening, necessary look at what fundamentalism looks like. She restored my faith in the Christian memoir genre.

I’m reading Out of the Silent Planet for our Reading Challenge and liking it more than when I tried to read it in high school. We just started Phyllis Tickle’s Emergence Christianity and, only one chapter in, I’m regretting all the years I’ve wasted not reading her books. Amazing insights and I’m looking forward to our discussions! I also just started Conscious Capitalism. I saw it in the check-out line at Whole Foods and was intrigued. It’s definitely a departure from my normal patterns, but interesting so far.

You can connect over at Goodreads and Pinterest for all of my reading activity.

Screen Time
We’re still working our way through the Dr. Who series and have just started with Matt Smith’s Doctor. Such a fun way to unwind! We tried getting into season 6 of Mad Men but I’m not sure we’re up for all the drama. We also watched Mud on Netflix. I was about to give it 5-stars but demoted it by one for the last scene. Frank felt he forgot Matthew McConaughey was acting. I said his teeth were too white for the character. Which actors do you forget while watching?

Blogging
If you are at all interested in blogging, Laura Tremaine’s series on blogging is full of great insights. Kelli Woodford’s essay on her post-children belly button really struck a chord with its honesty. Over here, my most popular post was on Sleep. But, that was after I figured out a social media glitch. This month was definitely low for viewing because of that… (Don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss a post!) My own favorite was about Fairy Tales.

Around Town
My parents came up and gave us a day date last week, so we spent the day at museums. If you live in Denver and have any tiny interest in art, I’d strongly encourage you to check out Modern Masters. It’s an absolutely incredible exhibit featuring iconic paintings from most of the great artists between Pissarro and Warhol. After lunch, we went to the Clyfford Still Museum’s 1959 show. Even though I’m there several times a week, it was nice to walk through the galleries and simply enjoy the art without leading a group of kids.

What about you? What are you into these days?

Linked with Leigh Kramer’s What I’m Into. Head over there for fun books, activities, and goings-on from April.

What I’m Into 3:14

Bea and I just got back from a lovely five days visiting family in California. Since we’re nearing the end of tax season, Frank is gearing up and working longer hours. (Our “home by midnight” rule is being bent…) My mom was heading out anyway to help her sisters and my grandma sort out a transition to her next apartment at an assisted living facility and my dad agreed to fly with me so I wouldn’t have Bea by myself, so it seemed like good timing. It’s always wonderful visiting in the spring – everything is green and in bloom while we’re still waiting on a few late snowstorms before blossoming. My aunt’s house has an amazing hill to explore, so Bea went on many “‘ventures” while we were there. She also got lots of cousin time in, which is always fun!

On a 'venture in Aunt E's backyard.
On a ‘venture in Aunt E’s backyard.

Books: Finished and In Progress
I read a lot of good books this month! Next on our Reading Challenge was Ayn Rand’s We the Living. I think it’s my favorite of the books I’ve read by her: Shorter (less than 500 pages!) and the most autobiographical. If you haven’t read any of her work, I’d start here.

I finally read Luci Shaw after seeing her recommended by various people. The Crime of Living Cautiously was beautifully written and a great challenge. I also read Praying with Icons and am now thinking we need an icon corner in our house. One of my most spiritually moving moments was in a Russian Orthodox church so it was nice to read more about the practicality of using images while praying.

This was a month of reading thicker books that were quick reads. Monuments Men was a bit repetitive but such an interesting story I couldn’t put it down. Hopefully we’ll watch the movie, but our track record isn’t great these days… I also read Americanah, on Leigh Kramer’s recommendation and loved it! The story sucked me in and made me think about race and identity. Since my book club is still reading Disunity in Christ, it linked well with themes in that.

I’m still reading Girls Will Be Girls slowly – really trying to take my time with it. Next on my nightstand is Bend, Not Break by Ping Fu.

You can connect over at Goodreads and Pinterest for all of my reading activity.

Screen Time
Bea has been really into Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 lately, so that’s been on repeat. She loves announcing that she’s ready to listen to Beethoven, even though I think she just means the soundtrack…. I had forgotten what fun movies they are, so it’s been neat reconnecting with old favorites. When I was teaching, I would do a writing unit using Fantasia as an example of creating stories out of music and it’s been so cool listening to Bea retell the stories and add her own little spin.

Blogging
After a discouraging week in social media, Preston Yancey’s reflection was just what I needed to read. I also loved Sarah Joslyn’s A Prayer for Justice over at SheLoves Magazine. (Where, I just found out, I’ve been linked in their March Zine. Pretty cool!) Over here, my own favorite and most popular was Girls.

Around Town
I love springtime in Colorado! One day it’s 70 and sunny, the next, 40 and snowy. Our snow now is the fat, wet, spring snow that looks so pretty with tulips peaking through. We’ve been doing lots of Museum dates but now I’m thinking we’ll transition back to Botanic Gardens dates. We also opened up the backyard sandbox, and Bea would live there if I let her. Probably my favorite time of year!

We also finally went to the Wild Animal Sanctuary, a refuge for abused large carnivores. It was a great experience and we’ll definitely be going back. Highlight: Hearing a lion roar as he roamed his compound. Sad stories, but an amazing organization.

Checking out a tiger at the Wild Animal Sanctuary.
Checking out a tiger at the Wild Animal Sanctuary.

 

What about you? What are you into these days?

Linked with Leigh Kramer’s What I’m Into. Head over there for fun books, activities, and goings-on from March.

 

 

What I’m Into 2:14

I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer again for her What I’m Into compilation.

February absolutely flew by! We are officially in the midst of tax season, which means there are days when Frank doesn’t get to see Bea at all, but we do try to meet at the Botanic Gardens or Museum of Nature and Science for lunch dates.

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Lunch date at the Botanic Gardens

Books: Finished & In Progress
I read way too many memoirs written by under-40 year olds this month. I think, in general, a memoir should be written mid-life, not mid-experience. One exception was The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball. It reminded me that I am not cut out for farm life, but was a funny, well-written account of her first year as a farmer. I also read Desmond Tutu’s God Has a Dream, which was outstanding! His message of grace has really stuck in my mind and I’ve mulled over his words well after I finished the book.

I read two books this month, highly recommended by friends that I just didn’t get into. I had an internal struggle as to how I should rate them. I ended up giving the rating I would have without it being a recommendation and am hoping our friendship is built on something stronger than book suggestions.

Frank and I are beginning our next round of books for our Reading Challenge. He is starting To Kill a Mockingbird and I decided on We the Living, mostly to get over all the memoirs…

Screen Time
We haven’t watched much of anything this month, though I think I have nearly every episode of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood memorized.

Blogging
Osheta Moore’s series, Stand Your Ground…In Prayer is absolutely amazing. Each day brings powerful words. I have been feeling helpless, reading the news and wondering what I can do, and Osheta’s series has reminded me of the power of prayer and empathy. Over here, my own favorite was The Right Way.

Around Town
If you live near Denver, the Denver Art Museum and Clyfford Still Museum are doing a joint exhibition, featuring art from the Albright-Knox Gallery. DAM is featuring Modern Masters and CSM is reimagining Still’s 1959 solo exhibit at the Albright-Knox. One ticket gets you into both shows, and you will see an amazing collection of artists who have shaped this century. If you love modern art, or have been wanting to learn more, these shows are a great introduction!

What about you? What are you into these days?

Head over to Leigh’s Link-Up for other fun books, activities, and goings-on from February.

What I’m Into 1:14

I always like reading what people are “into” over at Leigh Kramer’s, so I thought I’d link up this month. January is one of my favorite months. Not only is it a new year, but it’s my birthday month. Lots of champagne and goal setting over here! It’s also the last month before tax season, so we try to pack in more family time, which I love.

Books: Finished & In Progress
I finally jumped on the Shauna Niequist bandwagon and read Cold Tangerines. Usually I’m not a fan of conversational-memoirs, but I connected with many of the stories and found myself wanting to read more. I also finished The Millionaire Next Door, from our Reading Challenge. It was insightful, but I realized I am not a fan of too many tables! (Those are what Frank loved most from the book.)

Book Club Books: Both are yet to be discussed, but Daring Greatly by Brené Brown is worth the hype! Easy to read and I see myself rereading sections in the future. I want to print her parenting manifesto to hang in my kitchen. I also just finished Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo. Such a fascinating look in the the slums of Mumbai. And, though it certainly doesn’t paint a romantic picture, I appreciate how she focuses on the day-to-day. My weekly book club is into Christena Cleveland’s Disunity In Christ. It’s a very thought provoking read, and a great follow-up to our last book, The Next Evangelicalism.

I’m also currently reading Djuna Barnes’ Collected Stories. Usually I love short stories, but this is taking a long time to get through. Some of the magic is starting to fade…

Screen Time
Since we’re in the midst of toddlerhood, we rarely watch movies. We did finally watch Bernie on Netflix, and it was perfect. I love quirky, dark comedies and I especially loved that this was a true story. We’re also in Season 4 of Doctor Who. It’s been a fun way to unwind after Bea goes to bed, though we’ve each had some pretty intense dreams as a result… We’ve never really been TV watchers, and now we are entering “totally out of touch” status.

Food
We are finally meal planning consistently and I love it! We’re eating so much more healthfully. We utilize our new Crock Pot at least once a week (always on book club nights!) and that’s been a great way to still get a bit of a “family dinner” on busy nights. We’ve been getting most of our recipes out of the Crock Pot Vegetarian recipe book. Now that we’re in the thick of winter, we always make at least one recipe a week with our French oven, using Glorious One Pot Meals. It’s rarely let us down! (Our favorite: African Peanut Stew. So good on a snowy night!)

Blogging
Two blogs stuck with me this month: Jason Boyett, over at A Deeper Story wrote about the balance of time and technology. It was great food for thought, especially as Bea will ask for an iPad to play games, and we don’t even own one. Glennon Melton wrote a beautiful tribute to her child’s teacher. I love reading positive affirmations of hardworking teachers! Over here, my own favorite was on Being Human, though the most popular was Identity.

Day to Day
Our furnace of 30 years went out the other day (of course!) The plus side? We decided to add central air conditioning and Bea was in heaven watching the men remove three furnaces dating back to 1951 from our crawl space. (Apparently, they were always left for the next owners…) Some of her favorite words right now are “heavy,” “dump,” and “truck,” so she gave a running commentary of the events. My other favorite phrase is when she brings us all together for a “group hugger.” She turned 18 months last week – time is flying!

"Men! Dump! Truck! Heeavy!!"
“Men! Dump! Truck! Heeavy!!”

What about you? What are you into these days?

Head over to Leigh’s Link-Up for other fun books, activities, and goings-on from January.