Wednesday, January 30, 2013

What I'm Into: January

I can't believe January 2013 is nearing it's end, but here we are. And here are some of the things I've been into this month:

On the Nightstand:
After really getting out of my groove for a couple of years, I'm finding myself a reader again. I'm still not reading daily, but I'm reading more than I have in a long time, probably since having kids. It's a very good feeling. Here's what's current:

Anything: The Prayer That Unlocked My God and My Heart by Jennie Allen
Finished! I know some of you kids read a book a week and there was a point where I could (and did!) do it, too. For now, for this season, it feels good to have finished a book in December and another this month. I'm going to be writing a review on it next week!

He Will Laugh by Douglas Ray
Okay, so I've actually finished two books this month. This is a book of poetry, so it was super quick. I read it, as I mentioned last month, because it's written by one of my high school classmates. I knew the topic of the book- it's about a man who's homosexual lover commits suicide- would be totally outside of my comfort zone. At the same time, I also know Douglas is extremely talented and just from a perspective of art/writing, I wanted to read his words. I was fascinated with the fact that one of my highschool classmates had a published book. My honest reaction? very mixed. There were parts of the book that were beautiful and I won't, for one hot second, deny that Douglas is a creative genius. But I already knew that. I don't really regret reading it, either. I'm not a fan of indulging myself in sensationalistic oversexed writing that really, in my opinion has no edifying value (see Fifty Shades). But I'm also not a fan of not exposing myself to things that are so outside my little world. It did me good in that it broadened my scope of reality. These characters that he wrote about are real and they're not this filthy archetype I, at one point in my life, imagined them to be. I think it helped me find more grace within myself. Good writing does that. That said, there were parts that were graphic and hard for me to handle. The descriptions of certain things (the suicide, sex, gay culture in general) were vivid. It made me blush and I'm not much of a blusher. Overall, not necessarily a favorite, but a book I'm glad I read.

Reflections for Ragamuffins: Daily Devotions by Brennan Manning
Obviously this will be on my list all year. I'm really enjoying the reflections.

The Rest of Life: Rest, Play, Eating, Studying, Sex from a Kingdom Perspective by Ben Witherington III
We actually ended up doing another book of his for Peyton's Wednesday night study, so we shelved this one for awhile.

Work: A Kinddom Perspective on Labor by Ben Witherington III
This is a really good, practical book from what I've read so far. It's neat to read a very relevant, practical book on an important everyday topic written by an intelligent theologian. I like that it's not just heavy theology, but it's not too simplistic either. I was a little nervous that the topic would be hard for me since I don't work outside the home, but I've found a lot of it to be SUPER relevant.
 "So, what will be your magnum opus- your great and magnificent work done in the light of day and in the shadow of the Almighty?"

On the Shelf:
So much for "committing to picking these back up". Usually saying that kind of thing on the blog provides a strong sense of accountability. Not so much with these. That said, I was pretty happy with my reading goals this past month. I'm leaving them on the list.

The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home by Susan Wise Bauer

Photoshop Elements 10: The Missing Manuel

At the Theater (or from the couch):
We actually watched a couple of videos this month. Interestingly, neither was a traditional movie.

The Hobart Shakespeareans
This documentary was really fascinating.  It's about a phenomenal teacher,  Rafe Esquith, who teaches in a very dangerous poor area of Los Angeles. His students are all the children of immigrants, almost all who come from homes where English is not spoken. He takes these fifth graders to a level they and their parents could have never imagined. He has extremely high expectations and he uses creative strategies combined with honest dialogue and discussion to motivate them. These creative incentives include parties and trips that were funded from his own pocket until one of his former students (an Ivy League law school graduate, I believe) set up a charity for this purpose. He's teaches these students much more than knowledge and skills- he teaches them values, a strong work ethic, and perhaps most importantly a strong sense of self worth and insight into their own potential. The year culminates with these students presenting the play Hamlet. The video culminated with Peyton wanting to abruptly make the shift to becoming a public school teacher. In the interest of full disclosure, this is not the first I've heard from him of this desire.

VH1 Storytellers: Bruce Springsteen 
 You could probably guess, but this is one of my favorites that I've seen in awhile. I love concert DVDs, but this was awesome because you get to see him analyze every song. I loved that he chose a huge variety from his catalog- one somber ballad from the perspective of a soldier; one in which he admitted to using a rhyming dictionary as he sat in his New Jersey apartment bedroom; another a love song about "men and women" as he said; one which he says was written with the premise that "everyone knows what it's like to be condemned"; another about faith, sacrifice and being a parent; a feel good pop song that he said freed him when he was tired of writing about heavy stuff; a song about September 11 that is applicable on a more universal level as well and his epic ballad Thunder Road. Seriously amazing. I'm going to have to purchase this at some point.

On the Small Screen:
It's been awhile since I've made time for TV. This month I actually did and Peyton and I started two "new" series:

The West Wing
Y'all. So obsessed. I'm absolutely fascinated. The characters all intrigue me. And really that's where the action in a show is for me, most of the time. I don't need a huge involved plot; just give me strong, complex characters. I love the fast, intelligent dialogue and wit. And I love the passion, intensity and integrity that many of the characters have. I think politics is fascinating, too, so the policy issues they deal with on the show are interesting as well.

The Wonder Years
This used to be my absolute favorite show. We own the dvds, but awhile back it became available on Netflix to stream. It's just the perfect show about life and friendship and young love. There's not much I love more than a coming of age drama. Unless it's a coming of age drama set in the 1960s staring Fred Savage.

In My Ears:
Pretty much my January playlist. The thing is stellar. It could be my best one yet. It's also probably (definitely) my most nostalgic one to date. Like this one here
Annnnd I'm back in the dorms eating cinnamon rolls with my college BFF who introduced me to this song.
Around the House:
My mom got me this ottomon for Christmas and I love it!

It feels really cottage-y to me and to me the gingham makes the funky retro houndstooth chairs not feel quite so bold!

This is just a tiny thing, but it makes my day. My mom made that red pillow in the middle out of a two dollar placemat from Target. I got a Christmas one, too, and she did the same thing. I think the print looks a little tribal or maybe Mexican and goes well with the funky lime ones. By the way that's three pillows on my couch that started out as placemats (yep, the green ones were placemats originally, too!)

I also had to include these. The addition of them to my house had made my life significantly easier. 
[During naptime AP gets three tickets. She can use them for whatever she "needs" me to help her with, but once she uses all three, her momma resource is gone and she can't come out of her room. Of course, she has unlimited trips to the potty.]

In the Kitchen: 
I made this awesome soup this month. It's a thick creamy soup and it was so good I made it two weeks in a row!
Wild Rice Soup from Come On In, a retired Junior League cookbook

In My Closet:
This is what I've looked like most of January-
 and it's been so nice! I'm the kind of girl that LOVES dressing up and also LOVES dressing like this. It's nice when you have the option for both.

My mom bought me this. It's a large. I told her it was a shirt. She said it was a tunic. Clearly on me it's a legit dress. Whatever. It was $12 and you can call it a boomerang for all I care. It's so soft and so easy. A new favorite! Also: Peyton loves textured tights (which I'm wearing here). So good to know. 
In My Mailbox:
Honestly, not a lot. I ordered the kids both new tennis shoes- AP got a repeat of a quirky denim pair that I had found at Target and refound on eBay. Graves got some Keds I bought from a friend. Not too exciting, but it's nice when I can get the basics taken care of ahead of time!

In My Cart:

I got a new planner and I could not love this thing more. Erin Condren eat your heart out :) My old planner got discontinued and I was sad and frightened and overwhelmed ;) Then I found this (way better) one and it's been easy sailing since!
On My Heart:
I've been thinking about NYC alot lately since we'll likely be moving around this time next year. Some days I'm really excited. Most days I'm nervous. A few days I've been downright terrified.  I'm hoping to resurrect (and rename!) my NYC blog soon and post some of my thoughts and our plans over there. 

In My Prayers:
- Some of our dearest friends who are in the process of adopting a precious child with special needs
- My heart and attitude about New York-- that I will not be captive to a spirit of fear
- That the Lord will make me aware of little ways I can encourage those around me and potentially impact the Kingdom     

On the Calendar:  
February is starting to fill up, but it's mainly just meetings and things. Not too terribly exciting but nothing terribly exhausting either! 

I'm linking up with Leigh again. It's always fun to see what others are enjoying over the month!

What I'm Into at HopefulLeigh


Amy said...

Loving the new planner - where did you find it?

Sarah said...

Where did you get the planner? I need something and it's so hard to find a layout I like.

Adele said...

Don't you love going back to old faves like The West Wing and The Wonder Years? Comfort viewing indeed. :)

HopefulLeigh said...

How fun to watch The Wonder Years again! Makes me nostalgic just thinking about it.

The tunic/dress is cute. Looks like it's been a great month for you. Thanks for linking up!

P.S. This is a small thing but you spelled my name wrong. It's Leigh, not Leah. Thanks!

Sarah Denley said...

Amy and Sarah- I ordered my planner off Amazon. This is the same one, just a different design-- The exact one I have seems to be sold out.