What I’m Into: April 2016 Edition

And… somehow it’s May. I have one month of tutoring/subbing left in the school year and Jonathan finished his first year of grad school yesterday. It is incomprehensible to me that we’ve been back from Korea for 8 1/2 months and that Jonathan is now 1/3 of the way through his program. This is somewhat terrifying since it means we are only two years away from having to figure out what to do next. Again. (!)

As always, I am linking up with Leigh Kramer to share what I’ve been into this month.

What I’m Reading:

Still Life by Louise Penny. I’ve been hearing about Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Gamache mystery series for a while now and I finally picked up the first one. These books were recommended to me based on my enjoyment of mystery writers like Kate Atkinson whose mysteries are less about suspenseful procedures and more about character development. I enjoyed this first book, but I did find it to be a little slow for a mystery. I’ve heard that Penny really hits her stride with these by book 4 or so, and I plan to continue them at some point. I loved the setting in a rural town in Quebec. My reading this month had a bit of a French theme and it was fun to have that element in this book as well.
Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman. I mostly enjoyed this book, but I admit to some skepticism about the author’s generalizations about what “the French”  or “French parents” do. I was also amused that the “wisdom of French parenting” was mostly things that seem like complete common sense to me –how do French parents get their babies to sleep through the night at such an early age? They use the revolutionary “pause” technique, otherwise known as waiting five minutes to see if the baby is just waking up between sleep cycles and will fall back asleep on its own or if it actually needs something. It’s comical to me that this is a method because it seems so obvious to me, but I know there are parents who feel that letting a baby cry, even for as short a time as 5 minutes, is cruel. I did especially appreciate the parts about how French parents cultivate an appreciation for a wide variety of foods and don’t have picky eaters. If I ever have kids, we are not doing the separate kid’s meals of chicken nuggets and boxed mac and cheese every night. The thing I appreciated most about this book was the examination of how French parents (or at least the ones the author observed) value continuing to develop as adults after they’ve had kids instead of letting their kids take over everything in their lives.
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. My book club read this book for our April meeting and I cannot recommend it highly enough. It’s a World War II book that manages to be completely different from any other WWII book I’ve ever read (which is saying a lot). It tells the story of two sisters living in occupied France. Vianne fights for the survival of herself and her young daughter while her husband is held prisoner and a surprisingly kind  German soldier moves into her home. She is forced to question her own loyalties and the line between playing nice to protect her daughter and standing up for what’s right. Meanwhile, her impulsive sister Isabelle is willing to risk everything to feel like she is doing something valuable for the war effort. She becomes involved with the resistance in bold and dangerous ways. Isabelle thinks Vianne is passive and Vianne thinks Isabelle is reckless and irresponsible, but each of them is fighting in the only way they know how.
 
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. Barbara Kingsolver is one of my favorite authors, but this is my first experience reading her nonfiction. This book recounts her family’s year-long experiment in eating locally during which they grew most of their own food on their farm and committed to purchasing things they couldn’t provide for themselves from local farmers in their community. One of the coolest parts of this book is that it’s a family collaboration with sidebars written by Kingsolver’s scientist husband, and menus and recipes provided by Kingsolver’s 19-year-old daughter Camille. Kingsolver doesn’t expect everyone to be able to make the radical change to subsistence farming, but she encourages small changes that add up to a big difference for the environment and for local economies.
The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman. I’d had a hold on this one from the library for several months and my turn finally came. It was worth the wait. Tom Sherbourne has returned from four years on the Western Front to take a position as a lighthouse keeper on a remote island off the coast of Western Australia. He brings his young, vivacious wife Isabel out to the island with him where they live an isolated existence where their only company is a supply boat that comes from the mainland once a season. Isabel’s greatest dream is to be a mother, but her body seems unable to cooperate. After two miscarriages and one stillbirth, she has given up hope, when a boat carrying a dead man and a living infant washes up on the shore. Isabel sees this as a gift from God and insists that the mother must be dead as well and that they should keep the baby, against Tom’s better judgment. The couple raises Lucy as their own for several years until they return to the mainland and discover that their child’s real mother is very much alive and devastated by the loss of her daughter. Tom and Isabel must decide what is right and whose happiness carries the most weight.
Currently Reading: How to Be an American Housewife by Margaret Dilloway, Landline by Rainbow Rowell, I Can Barely Take Care of Myself: Tales from a Happy Life Without Kids by Jen Kirkman, The Light of the World by Elizabeth Alexander
Follow me on Goodreads for more of what I’m reading.

What I’m Watching:

This month I finished watching How to Get Away with Murder, which Jonathan has grown disenchanted with, but I am still interested in. I also discovered that there was a new season of Call the Midwife on Netflix which I didn’t even know existed. I LOVE that show, so that’s been a fun discovery. Another British show I’m enjoying is Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries which is about a lady detective solving mysteries in the 1920’s. I think it’s set in Australia? I’m not totally sure because the characters have different accents. Either way, it’s fun!

What I’m Eating:

I am attempting to eat very healthy in preparation for our trip next month (see Exciting News 2 below).

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To get myself excited about eating really healthy, I have to look for new and intriguing recipes to try. A current favorite in our house is these turkey meatballs over zucchini noodles (zoodles!). Plus the colors are just gorgeous.

I also made this crockpot Korean beef for a friend’s baby shower this past weekend. It was a vintage travel themed shower with foods from around the world. This was super simple and a big hit!

Follow me on Pinterest for more recipes!

On the Internets:

Loved this post from Sarah Bessey on resurrection.
My friend, Briana, has been hitting it out of the park with her posts at Off the Page:
My friend Meredith’s piece over at You Are Here Stories anticipating the birth of her (now newly arrived!) daughter.
I also really enjoyed this hilarious song from Flight of the Conchords called “Woo a Lady.” It’s not a new song, I just had never heard it before. The sound quality on this video isn’t great, but if you use headphones you should be able to catch the lyrics, which are hysterical.

What I’m Writing:

Nothing except for articles for Modernize, which are backlogged so not many have been published. I did share this piece on de-cluttering using the Kon Mari Method  and this piece on Modern Style 101.

What I’ve Been Up To:

Working. All the time. When you have five different jobs, there is always something to do. Most recently, Jonathan and I got jobs working at the new minor league baseball stadium in town. We work as club level and suite servers for the people who are fancy enough to rent out suites, though last week I ended up working in a beer booth pouring beers and working the cash register. It was extremely busy, but I made great tips, so I’m not mad. Although my uniform of a polo shirt tucked into khakis with a belt does make me look like a chubby zoo keeper.
We spent most of our April weekends in Charlotte for one reason or another. At the beginning of the month we took a last-minute Friday night drive up to meet up with friends from college who we hadn’t seen for years. They were in Charlotte for an event and it was great to catch up with them and meet their adorable kids.
The next weekend we went back to Charlotte to spend time with our good friends, Brandon and Christy. We ate ridiculous amounts of cheese while listening to live music, and did some shopping at the outlet mall. We also stayed up way too late playing board games and waiting for the boys to stop playing FIFA so we could go to sleep.
The following weekend was meant to be relaxing, but Jonathan ended up having a weird eye-related emergency that we spend most of Sunday sorting out, so it didn’t go quite as planned. (He’s recovering nicely, by the way).
This past weekend was a long-awaited reunion with my college roommates as well as a baby shower for one of the roomies, my dear friend Asharae. It was so wonderful to see everyone and to get to shower Ash and her husband with love and support as we anticipate their sweet baby. Sure, we talked and laughed nonstop for 3 days and it was exhausting and my voice is still all scratchy, but it was totally worth it!
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I’ve also finally started running again which I’m really enjoying. I’m up to about seven miles and was considering a half marathon in June, but have decided to hold off on race training – there is so much going on in the month of May that it’s hard to make the time commitment. I will still be running though! I absolutely love running through the neighborhoods around my house, even though we’re basically having summer weather already (80’s – 90’s).

Exciting News:

I’m being offered a job that I actually really want. I haven’t signed a contract yet, so I don’t want to share all of the details yet, but it’s probably the first job I’ve ever gotten that I’m genuinely excited about.It involves working with international students and seems like a perfect fit for me. It’s a part time job (4.5 hrs/day) but it will be consistent and that will be good.

Exciting News 2:

After much deliberation about whether or not we could make this work, we have taken the plunge and booked a trip to Europe in June. (Well, more accurately, to Italy and Paris with some brief stops in Istanbul and Athens). This trip is something I’ve been dreaming about literally since I was a child and something Jonathan and I have talked about doing together since before we were married. I can hardly believe it’s actually happening and I get all weepy with joy when I talk about it.
How did April treat you? What have you been into lately?
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3 comments

  1. I’m sooo excited to hear about your trip! Ian and I have been talking about out Disneyland plus Disney Cruise vacation combo since before we were married. But we didn’t think we’d ever be able to swing it. So I know how exciting it is to finally (and surprisingly!) have your dream trip work out. So happy for you. ❤

    Also, I’m glad you’re reading another Rainbow Rowell book! Have you read Fan Girl? I love that one so much. And Carry On. I love Carry On. But read Fan Girl first.

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  2. As a full-blown French woman, I completely agree with your review of Bringing up Bebe, I made very similar comments when I reviewed the book, it is full of generalisations, not at all like my experience of growing up in France! But despite this there are still some helpful things to be found.

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  3. Three cheers for both sets of news! (So, like, six cheers!) SO excited for your travel adventures, and hope to see lots of pics on the blog! If you’d like any travel recs for Paris or Rome, let me know.

    Like

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