Monday, February 29, 2016

What I'm Into: February 2016

Linking up with Leigh again!  February is the shortest month, but it so often feels like the longest.  Cold short days over and over really take a toll on my mood, but this year? Not so much!  We have had a couple of glorious Sundays where the temperature has topped 60 degrees.  And now, even if we get hit with another blizzard, we are at that point in the year when the meteorologists will say that the snow won't stay on the ground long due to the angle of the sun.  And that sun--it's hanging around longer, I am noticing!  All good signs.  I try my hardest not to complain about winter (or any other season, for that matter), because I know that it too, shall pass, and life is too short to spend complaining about one-fourth of the year.

So, what have I been into this brief February?  Let's see:

Reading:  I started another course.  This time it was on A Room With a View.  I ran out of steam by the final week.  I enjoyed taking these two courses, but I'm going to give this a rest for March.  In other reading news, I am on my third book in the Inspector Gamache series, and I'm a fan!

Watching: Oh, Downton, only one more week!  What shall I do without you?  Please give everyone a happy ending!  Maybe some designer will bring back Downton-style hats.  Nobody wears hats anymore, and the Downton ones have all been so great throughout the series.

Cooking:  Last month I was trying to get us on a soup kick.  Some of us are still observing weekly soup--the rest of us are not.  During Lent, our church has soup supper and a vespers service on Wednesday nights, so those of us who can make it go for soup and the service.  I can tell that a winter of stick-to-your-ribs comfort food is starting to stick to my waistline.  As the days get longer, I'm going to look through the archives and start preparing some lighter fare.

Shoveling: none!  Well, there was one ice storm that we tried to shovel out from, but it really couldn't be done.  Since the temperature soared into the 50s the next day, we really just had to wait it out.  I am happy to report that there is no lingering snow in the yard!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Keepin' It Real

I don't think I've written a non-books, non-goals related post in quite a while.  I could say "all year" to sound more dramatic, but let's give the drama a rest for now, shall we?

If you look along the sidebar, you will see that this is my tenth year on this little blog.  Tenth.  Count the years.  Hard to believe.  This blog has gone through some phases.  I'd say now I'm deep into my "reading phase."  But reading has been a lifelong pleasure for me; really the linking up and recording what I've read is the phase part.  You can see that there was an intense crafty phase, with quilting and sewing clothes and totes and knitting and crocheting.  And always there has been parenting. 

We are in a much different stage of parenting than when I first started blogging here.  Then, the kids were 7, 5, and 3.  Now, they are 15, 13, and 12.  I have one left in elementary school, and the oldest will begin looking at colleges in earnest next year.  The years really are short, even though some of the days are painfully long.

I've been trying to re-dedicate myself to this space, and I've had a burst of clarity.  Through all my phases--crafts, gardening, reading, the one constant about this space (and probably about myself) is that I try to keep it real.  Yes, I try to be optimistic and view my life through as rosy-colored a lens as possible.  But I openly acknowledge that I am an imperfect human, with more laundry than I can possibly do in a week and tumbleweeds of dog fur drifting through my home.

So what I hope I'll be able to continue to convey to you moving forward is more periodic check-ins in the "reality" department.  Not to complain or to bring us all down, but more to build a sense of community, a sense of "me, too!"  I take comfort in knowing that I'm not the only mom in the world who can't understand why her children are unable to hang up their wet towels--don't you?  We'll all get through this together, and in the meantime, maybe we can all have a good chuckle at ourselves when we discover we've turned into our parents!

I'll let my parting words be shared in the picture below. This was our Christmas card for 2015.  This was the first year I ever included any kind of note about what we're all up to, and more than one parent told me that it all seemed very familiar to them.  That made me happy, and I hope it will make you smile, too.

Happy (belated) new year to you all!

Monday, February 15, 2016

My Stack of Books: February 2016

I'm linking up with Anne again.  Here's what I've been reading this last month:

Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart
Elizabeth Gilbert is quoted on the cover as loving every page of this "smart, romping, hilarious novel."  I didn't feel as strongly as she did.  This story moved slowly at first, but picked up as I got into it.  I wouldn't call it a romp, or hilarious, really.  Based on a true story.

Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People by Nadia Bolz-Weber
The title says it all--over and over, Bolz-Weber finds God revealed to her in the most unlikely of people.  I find it encouraging that a pastor keeps having to re-learn this lesson--it means there's hope for me.  I don't love all the colorful language, but if she cleaned it up, I guess it wouldn't be her authentic voice.  But still...

Life and Other Near-Death Experiences by Camille Pagan
The book I finished in a day.  I recommend.

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The book I should have read in school.  I will post a longer review of this in my reading challenge post.  Glad I read it.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
Wow.  Such a gifted writer.  His intellect is staggering, and his humility and compassion are so touching.  I know there are people out there who don't like cancer memoirs, but this is spectacular.  I will revisit this one often.

A Room With a View by E.M. Forster
This month's book club book.  I read this many years ago--think early 90's.  That was also the last time I saw the movie (the Helena Bonham Carter version).  Young lady travels to Italy, and a whole new world begins to open up to her.  Makes me want to go to Italy.

Still Life by Louise Penny
I started this book last summer, but I didn't get past the first couple of chapters.  It just wasn't the right time for me to start this series. But Anne has just raved about this series that I purchased the first three novels in a boxed set back in December when Amazon had a $10.00 coupon code.  So--what did I think the second time around?  Very good.  This novel centers on Chief Inspector Armand Gamache.  He's based in Montreal, but he is assigned to a murder in a tiny village near the U.S. border.  The village and its residents are beautifully described.  There are a few false leads, and it leads to an exciting conclusion that I don't think I saw coming.  I do hope that the next book or two will include the character Yvette Nichol.  It seems that the author spent a lot of time putting her into the story--she clearly has some sort of issues that haven't been identified yet, so I hope she will be fleshed out more fully.  I guess I'll find out soon--I have the next two books waiting for me!