What I'm Into {December 2013? What?!}

31 December 2013



Welp, here we go. Last post of 2013. December was fantastic, exhausting, lovely, windy, sunny, beautiful, wet... and filled with friends, family, parties and lie-ins. Let's get right down to business, shall we?

BOOKS

The Wool Series, by Hugh Howey. I started reading Wool right at the end of November (due to the glowing recommendation of my the best friend) and couldn't put it down for three days. It's a hefty read, but thrilling and original, immersing the reader into the distant (?) future of the world; a small, deadly world. I moved swiftly on to the second book in the series, Shift, and while I didn't love it quite as much, I appreciated the quicker pace and introductions to several new, memorable characters amid the backstory (prequel?) of the Silos. While many questions were answered, new ones were asked, keeping the reader invested for the next book. Dust is the final book in the series and will probably be my first read of 2014.

Loving Frank by Nancy Horan. I highly anticipated reading this book as Matt and I fancy ourselves Frank Lloyd Wright groupies and spent the early years of our marriage less than a mile from his home and studio in Oak Park, Illinois. Loving Frank attempts to unfold the often-referred to (but never explained) affair between Wright and the wife of a client, Mamah Cheney. This fictional account is told from Cheney's perspective, with the desire (I think) to instill charity and sympathy in the reader for the repressed, spirited and feminist Cheney. Horan weaves an interesting tale of marital loneliness and artistic brilliance, but I really struggled to appreciate Cheney's motives, as someone who valued her womanhood over motherhood, responsibility or even compassion (must we really be "true to oneself" no matter the cost, hurt, despair?). We may never know the true story behind the novel - why Cheney ran off with Wright in the first place - and it will be forever overshadowed by the real-life tragedy that brought a devastatingly abrupt halt to their relationship (leaving me feeling somewhat uncomfortable reading the book, knowing what lay ahead). But haven't we all been seduced by art, mystery and adventure? I think perhaps that's the hidden heart of this book, maybe something Horan - who used this more as a feminist apologetic - didn't really intend.

Due to my interest in FLW and on the heels of this book, I also picked up Glass (Frank Lloyd Wright at a glance) and Frank Lloyd Wright (Critical Lives).

Current (or continued) nightstand reads: Grace-based Parenting (Kimmel), Mudhouse Sabbath (Winner), A Year of Biblical Womanhood (Held Evans), Bird by Bird (Lamott), Jesus Calling (Young).

TV

Last week I finished up the third season of Homeland. The last episode was brilliant, but the season as a whole? Meh. I'm not sure if I'll keep up with it next season after the - SPOILER ALERT - death of Brody, but my love for Claire Danes may keep me tuned in. We're also quasi-keeping up with New Girl and Grey's Anatomy, were truly brokenhearted to say goodbye to Matt Smith in the Christmas Special episode of Doctor Who, mildly underwhelmed with the Downton Abbey Christmas episode, and excitedly waiting for the premier of Sherlock on New Year's Day.

MUSIC

This year's Christmas soundtrack was brought to you by The Vince Guaraldi Trio (Charlie Brown Christmas), John Denver and the Muppets (Christmas Together), George Winston (December), She & Him (A Very She & Him Christmas) and, of course, Sufjan. Still digging Arcade Fire's Reflektor (they'll be in Dublin in June! Huzzah!).

MOVIES

Of course, Catching Fire, which was a great Debbie Downer of a movie. Meaning: It was great, for a movie/book that is so obviously very sad and disturbing. Jennifer Lawrence wins everything, especially cable-knit one-shouldered shawl scarves. Christmas movies included, but were not limited to Love Actually, The Holiday, The Grinch, Rudolph, Santa Claus 3, Harry Potters 5-8, and a half-dozen viewings of Despicable Me 2.



THINGS I LOVE

  • So many Christmas parties! Work parties, friend parties, dinners and coffees and playdate parties.
  • So many school parties/concerts! Asher rocked Rudolph (naturally), Jack rocked the violin, and Ella rocked Inn Guest #2, despite a wicked head cold. 
  • Related: I love our kids' teachers. They are amazing.
  • Family in town for Christmas. 
  • Jack making pie with Great-Grandma.
  • Ella posing with her namesake.
  • A sick Asher sleeping on my mother.
  • Four generations photos.
  • Dancing with my grandma to Asher's fine guitar skillz.
  • Our fake fire, a la Ikea candles.
  • Warm December weather.
  • Windy and wet December weather, viewed from our cozy sitting room.
  • Avoca morning.
  • Long walks with Cocoa in Phoenix Park.
  • Sunny Christmas day.
  • Dublin decorations.
  • Being lazy, lazy, lazy.
  • Happy kids on Christmas morning.
  • Recognizing what emotionally feeds us after guests depart. We happily gave in to some soul care and took the children and dog to the sea, climbing Killiney Hill and enjoying coffee and hot chocolate in Dun Laoghaire. For like a half hour or so, I thought, "I could not be happier." 
  • Neighbours, friends and coworkers we love.

For other things I love, make sure you visit me at Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. I never take pictures of food; that's a promise.

ON THE BLOG

Most read this YEAR :: A (discombobulated) day in the life
My favourite, here, this YEAR :: In the garden, where we mine our hearts
Most read this MONTH :: We are barking mad, literally
My favourite, here, this MONTH :: Dear Sister {Christmas can wait till May}

INSTAGRAM

What if we viewed our lives this way, every day? I am overwhelmed with gratitude.



SCRIPTURE

(A song of ascents. Of David.)
My heart is not proud, Lord,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
But I have calmed and quieted myself,
I am like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child I am content.
Israel, put your hope in the Lord
both now and forevermore.

Psalm 131

Thank you for joining me here this year.

Linking up with...
What I'm Into

These are a few (from 2013) :: Give me your blah

30 December 2013

I don't feel like I'm standing on holy ground. It feels more like I'm standing on three day old remnants of shredded wheat. 

I don't feel like I'm giving my kids the greatest gift of love and therefore receiving their love and overflowing with God-love. It feels more like I'm just barely keeping them alive till bedtime, and before then the best gift I'm giving them is unending rounds of crackers (or m&ms or fill-in-the-blank).

I don't feel like motherhood is holy, like it's my highest calling, my greatest joy. It feels more like really, really hard work. Hard work I'm not even that good at.

Mommy bloggers, you are amazing. I love you and I am one of you. But really, if there is one more post or article or book about the wonderful redemptiveness of diaper-changes and burnt dinners and holy ground walking on a dirty kitchen floor and the beautiful gift of receiving God's Beautiful Gifts, I'm gonna go nuts. It's not that you're wrong or misguided... I think you're probably right, and I think there are some days where I do need to hear it.

But most days? Most days it's just blah.

Most days it's just coffee and errands and laundry. Most days it's just videos and temper tantrums and impaling my foot with a tiny lego man's lego sword. Most days it's just make it to the next days. Most days the only moment of peace is in the bathroom... and even then it lasts less than a moment because within 30 seconds someone is looking for me having spilt his milk all over the brand new computer keyboard. Most days I can't even think to whisper gratitude. Most days I don't think.

Do I love my children? Yes. Is this the job, the people, the life God has set before me? Yes.

Am I complaining? Yes.

Because I think we need to know - the new moms and the old moms and the Princess Kates and the Kim K's - that it's not going to feel holy, amazing, fulfilling most of the time, probably not even a fraction of the time. I think we need to know it's ok to feel blah. It's ok to not feel like this is the greatest thing on earth, the most divine, the most sacrificially-like-Jesus we will ever be. We need to know it's ok to not like it. It's ok to look forward to the days they're all in school, the days they go to bed early, the oh-so-rare days we get to go away by ourselves and be refreshed and renewed by something other than soapy water.

It's OK. It's just OK.

We still love our kids. We still want them to grow up to be compassionate, loving, amazing, joyful people. We're still grateful for the gift of them. We want them to grow up and be the best moms and dads they can be.

And then, there will still be those moments of pure joy when we will bask in the wonder that is a child, a Gift From Above, who loves and forgives and trusts without even thinking about it... just because we're Mom.

But on the blah days, the blah months and the blah years, when we are just hanging by a thread... don't tell me how holy and blessing-filled and Christ-like I'm being. That just makes me feel worse, like my tiny piece of thread is fraying, leaving me and my children dangling in mid-air.

Tell me you and God and my kids will love me anyway. Tell me we'll all survive. Tell me about your blah days, minus the silver lining or spiritual lesson. Just give me your blah. Then, maybe, I'll feel a holy space to tell you about mine. And one day (probably not today), God will redeem it all.

July 2013

***

These are a few of my favourite posts from this year, things I've written during this epic phase of resettling in Ireland. If you blog, leave me a comment below with a favourite post of yours from this year. Would love to read how you saw yourself and those around you in 2013.

A little bloggery design



Remember how my friend Nicole let me redesign her logo and banner over at her blog? Well, another brave soul asked me to redesign the WHOLE of her blog. I so enjoyed working with Dawn and her fun family blog, Dawn's Cottage Corner. She was very patient with me and had a good idea of what she wanted, creating a Pinterest inspiration board with design elements she admired.

As you know, I have next to no professional design skills, but I'm somewhat skilled at faking it. :)



I used the "Simple" template on Blogger and just customized fonts, accents, colours and images.

Anyway, pop over to Dawn's blog and give her a nice hello. Thanks for letting me work with you, Dawn!

Click on my Writing & Design page to view more of my freelance work.

On goodbyes and Christmas and life at home

29 December 2013



Sunday morning is quiet and dark. It's the last one of the year and church is taking a day off. There was one major dog-related casualty in the night, the guts of a Buzz Lightyear pillow spilled out over the whole of the office. And the house is empty, minus two.

I think I'm fairly good at goodbyes now, and when they depart two hours before sunrise, I give long hugs and trade I love yous, stand at the door and wave through steamed glass. Then Christmas is over, I get back in bed with the children. We go back to real life and spend the afternoon by the sea. After 9 days with them, I'm full and contented. But a day or two after I miss everyone all over again, all the people who did not come. I long for my sisters, miss the company of my nephews, wish I could send the kids with their aunts and uncles into the snow.

I remember a year ago, all stuffed into Matt's parents' house, weighing suitcases and driving ice-covered Wisconsin backroads. We had left home on our long way back home. We'd already lived two and a half years in the in-between, what was two more weeks, anyway? In the basement, we'd sit on our knees, sifting through our past and future, packing and repacking what would remain. Christmas was sweet, yet heavy. Time was both long and short. We were finally, blessedly moving on.

Today our home awakes. Most of us, anyway. Cocoa sleeps on her couch, exhausted by the early morning shenanigans. The children trade turns eating and playing, Beautiful Day plays on the radio (my favourite thing about Christian radio here is the prevalence of U2 on the playlist, even if the DJ speaks only in Irish this morning). Laundry and hoovering and one last piece of chocolate pie wait for me. We made it together, my grandma and me, here in my kitchen. In my house. In this country we now call home. She left pie and pictures and memories in her wake. A year of settling insanity, a giant cake of beautiful change, topped with the icing of family on Christmas morn.

The house is quiet, dark. Empty but full. I'll take it, 2013. I'll take it.



My "one word" for this year was HOME. And I think we made good on it, making home here. I've not yet got my word for 2014, weighing a couple in my mind and wondering what this next year could hold. Did you have a word for 2013? A resolution, a hope? How did it go?

Dear Sister {Christmas can wait till May}

27 December 2013



Dear Sisters,

Christmastime has come and nearly gone and this is the first bit of time I've been able to sit down and write a few words for quasi-posterity. It has been a whole year now, since last Christmas Eve, when we said our long goodbye and headed north for Ireland. I find myself thinking of you all week long; not in sad, homesick ways, but in happy memories of past adventures and wistful thoughts of one-too-many hands in the kitchen and white chocolate pretzels by the handful.

Our house is a happy one at the moment, to be sure. There's a dog now, and two grandmas, and Christmas movies and pie and coffee and sunshine. Ella has literally never been happier, as she squeaks puppy toys and cuddles with Cocoa on the couch. They sit there, all twisted up in blankets and I think this may be the best Christmas ever. Asher walks up and down the hallway with his guitar, dancing in the glare of the sliding glass doors, and Great-Grandma and I dance to his music. That moment or two where we swing hips side by side, laughing, will live on in infamy. Jack finished his lego masterpiece in record time and we each take pilgrimages to his room to survey the wonder. Mom sits with tea and a book, reading Seamus Heaney or cuddling a sick child. I eat pie. Lots and lots of pie.



But still... you are not here, and I am not with you. Oh sure, you have your own families as I have mine and I think this is adulthood and real life. Most everyone is separated by cities or states or oceans. We send e-greetings, trade photos and post on Facebook, together in spirit if not in person. I know you both wore red, that the boys were silly, there was ice on the ground and a candelight service or two. You've been kept abreast of our activities, pictures of Mom and Grandma on Killiney Hill, Jack leaning over a mixing bowl. We are not truly alone and apart, but still I am lonely for you.

So this Christmas, as you are huddled in Kansas City, as we plant ourselves deep in Dublin, know you are loved. You are missed. You are treasured this day and every day. And I long to sit near you, laughing and posing, ignoring the children maybe just a bit, lingering over the dinner table one minute longer. The Irish homestead saves a place for you, a door forever open.

And in May we will dance at a sister wedding. Christmas together can wait until then.

Love,
Me




Sometimes I write letters to my sisters, women young and old brought to me through blood, circumstance and Jesus. Today I write for the two I share wedding photos and nephews and Christmas Eves with. Who are you missing this time of year?

Comfort & Joy

25 December 2013

From our Irish home to yours, we wish you tidings of great comfort and joy.

Surely He taught us to love one another
His law is love and His gospel is peace.



The t-shirts were an excellent Christmas gift from my sis' fiance Nathan at The Record Machine. I'm pretty sure this will be our new family uniform. Walking advertisements, we are.

Happy Christmas, friends.

These are a few (from 2013) :: In the shadows of someone's masterpiece

23 December 2013



Oak Park is a dream. When I close my eyes and try to remember when, I realize the colour of the floorboards is gone. I can't find the smell of the bookshop. We moved away from those tree-lined streets 12 years ago and I find myself still wishing we could go back, sit in the park across from Hemingway's old place, my head in your lap and the church bells ringing.

We would ride our bikes on those streets, looking at these old victorian houses, the craftsman porches. You had your favourites and I had mine, and we envisioned this prairie life in the city, where we'd walk our children to school. Sit on the porch swing. Knock down some walls and plant a lilac bush. Open our own bookshop.

There were all these Frank Lloyd Wright places and we could never decide on one. You know, just in case. You liked the one with steep, sharp angles. I like the one with the rounded front door. These were our Sundays, spent in the shadows of someone's masterpiece.

Oh, we had so much time.



I think about it now, and what we thought growing up looked like, what success looked like. I sit here, today, coffee in hand by the kitchen door. I see the carrots popping up and the hydrangea sprouting new leaves and how our children prayed for a tree. Who'd have thought He'd give us so many trees we'd have to cut down a few just to make room? I watch as the yellow sun on our garden turns to grey and the rain comes in. I smile when I hear it on our skylight, I'm so glad I haven't put out the laundry yet.

It's not Oak Park, not the dream of those houses, not the porch swing, no Chicago skyline. There is no mortgage here, no deed. Frank Lloyd Wright never came to Ireland and I don't think Hemingway wrote from behind these windows.

But we have covered walls with paint swatches. You fret over the lino-wood flooring. The tree out front is in bloom. And we sit in the bay window, in our landlord's two leather chairs, king and queen of our own masterpiece.

Not the house, not the city, not the country, nothing but His design. 

I still cry over Oak Park, that we left and can't go back. I know it's all aglow in wistful unreality. I know we're changed and it's changed. I know these 10-plus moves in 10-plus years can really do a girl in. My homesickness is truly all over the map. But when you first brought me home a week after our wedding, with our quilt on the bed and the chest you built and your grandparents' old dresser, I didn't know I'd only ever want to live there. Frozen in time, forever. I didn't know that a dozen years later when I'd close my eyes, I'd still feel those floorboards beneath my feet.

And now that I can't see the colour, can't smell the books, can't remember what road that one house was on, I realize forever has changed. A dozen years from now, when I close my eyes, this is what I'll see: me at the kitchen table, coffee in hand, looking out on our back garden to the trees our children prayed for. 

Not the house, not the city. I will only see the masterpiece.

May 2013

***

These are a few of my favourite posts from this year, things I've written during this epic phase of resettling in Ireland. If you blog, leave me a comment below with a favourite post of yours from this year. Would love to read how you saw yourself and those around you in 2013.

These are a few (from 2013) :: Take courage

16 December 2013

We're doing the midnight bed dance again because the truth is: no one really knows where we are. Living out of suitcases for over a month, in our 4th round of beds in as many weeks, children bump on the floor in the night and cry out. They don't remember where the toilet is, where our room is, where home is. It's all we can do to spoon them back to sleep, propping our heads up on thin pillows, arms under their weary necks. It's all we can do to set an alarm, find a clean bowl, drive them to a new school.

The exciting adventure of our days gives way to fitful dreams and midnight cries.

I was praying for them, the night before we sent them to school, when we knew where we would settle but weren't quite settled there yet. We faced a long commute, an alarm set before dawn, and I woke at 4 unable to sleep, praying, praying, praying over them. My inclination, my first instinct is to pray, "Lord, keep them safe." But I thought, if that was our only priority, surely we wouldn't uproot them, put them on planes and trains, walk them through the doors of another new school. No, it's not safety we want for them.

It's courage. And faith.

So instead I prayed, "Lord, make them brave." It didn't put me back to sleep, but it put my heart in its place and my hope up high. Oh, I want them to be brave, to know they can, to wonder and doubt and cry a bit maybe (it's hard to be brave if nothing at all is scary), to know when they fall off the bed they'll be found and carried to safety, to hear the wind and see the rain and still long to run outside and face the storm.

Oh, God, give them courage. Make them brave. And give me strength to spoon them to sleep once more.



From January 2013

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These are a few of my favourite posts from this year, things I've written during this epic phase of resettling in Ireland. If you blog, leave me a comment below with a favourite post of yours from this year. Would love to read how you saw yourself and those around you in 2013.

Five Friday Favourites

13 December 2013

CHRISTMAS EDITION! We're very literally in a vastly different place than we were last Christmas and I try (sometimes unsuccessfully) to maintain some semblance of tradition and familiarity among our ever-changing scenery. So here are a few favourite things that are keeping us all in the holiday spirit!

1) This old picture ornament of Ella. Our tree is filled with old photos that tell stories of our children. We carry them in a shoebox across oceans. And this one... I hardly remember her like this, as her personality today is as big as her eyes are brown. But I remember we were on holiday at my dad's and she had just woken from a nap, walking away from me in the April Kansas sun. She was simply golden.



2) Eastside Manor Christmas Sessions 2013. I'm always on the hunt for new Christmas music and was so excited to see several of my friends promote this folky album from Noisetrade. So far, so good.

3) Family coming for Christmas! I've been shouting near and wide how my Granny is coming for Christmas, 92 year old Eleanor the First. She's only been to Ireland once before and needed to make a return trip before her passport expires. And even though we'll be seeing her in May for my sister's wedding, and even though my mum was just here in August, I can't wait to open our doors wide to them early Thursday morning. I also can't wait for her French Silk Pie. That may or may not be the main reason we invited her. Just sayin'.

4) Family cinema parties. I love Christmas movies almost as much as I love to torture my children with Christmas movies. They always say they don't like Elf, but every year they sit all the way through it and laugh till the end.

5) Storytime snuggles with the two puppies.


What's on your plate this holiday season? Favourite Christmas album or movie? Favourite tradition? 

We are barking mad. Literally.

10 December 2013



One week ago I sat here pouring out the angst and heartache of having to break my children's hearts at Christmas. We were saying no to a dog and I typed the grave injustice of it all...

Today this dog snores on our landlord's loveseat, nose pointed in the air, her name Cocoa.

I should apologize first to my friends and father, whom I bombarded with tearful texts and questions and frustrations. Our life is normal, but it's also not. And the bumper-stickered car next door - "A dog is for life, not just for Christmas" - haunts me still. I'm not accustomed to making decisions "for life." I can hardly make decisions "for Monday." 

But after 48 hours worth of research and emotionally turbulent negotiations, we said yes to a dog anyway.

Ella hasn't stopped creating still-life portraits of her since. Our house is overflowing with Cocoa drawings. Four days in and we wake up early, to make sure she goes outside. Matt keeps her from climbing into bed with us at night. And we have four babies now lined up on the sofa (sticky hands on her head and her ears and her back left paw) watching cartoons after school. Asher is more puppy than she is and Matt says, "Now I feel like an adult."

How did this all happen? Life and work and house and dog in Ireland? I do not know, and yet I know it seemed to take forever. I know it was over 10 years of waiting and praying and mumbling Soon, Yes, Thank You over and over. I know we're not here without the very literal support - emotional and spiritual and financial scaffoldings, holding us ever higher and stronger - of hundreds of people. I know I wake up to a lurcher/terrier cross the colour of Bambie and ask, "Do you think we've all gone mad?"

My mother says, No. You've fulfilled a promise. And I don't say it then, only realizing it now: No, not us. But Him.

Oh, the story isn't over. Not by a long shot.

My anxiety is at an all time high with this crazy girl-pup. I didn't even think about the fact that we just emerged from babyhood only to find ourselves back to scheduling meals and toilet breaks. There are two dog beds in my house that are as-yet unused. I'm totally terrified of leaving her alone for any length of time. And Asher follows her around the house asking, "How I ride on her?" The amount of dog-related-including-picture texts I've sent is absolutely over the top. We've all become crazy over raisins, since apparently they're poisonous to dogs, and the wee pup next door has gone crazy with this new canine in her midst. They take turns barking and whining and the aforementioned fulfilled promise seems null and void in the midst of us actually choosing to ADD ANOTHER LIVING BEING to our everyday chaos. I'm already having visions and night sweats over placing her on a plane and taking her back to Kansas with us in a few years.

We are barking mad, I think.

But look at this face. I mean, really. Like this story was going to end (or begin) any other way.



Oh, by the way, just a couple of days left to check out my story over at The Iron Writer. Challenge ends tomorrow, so vote for your favourite today (at the bottom of the post)! I'm currently tied for first place!

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What crazy, night-sweats-inducing decision have you made recently? I'm contemplating cutting off all my hair if only to make the dog decision pale in comparison.

The Doctor of Naperville

05 December 2013

I didn’t think they existed, these men of magic and menace. At least, not here. And he’s not what I expected. 
He arrives in a trench coat, gray and damp from December’s drizzle. His collar is turned up and he stands near the door – my door – a less than imposing figure, looking more like an imitation Sherlock than a voodoo witch doctor. 
Spying from the kitchen counter, I stir cream in my coffee, slowly. His narrow frame is not tall. Hair trimmed close, the color of ash. He removes his coat with precision, revealing an argyle sweater and black slacks hemmed an inch too long. He turns my way and I drop the spoon nervously into the sink, the ting of metal on metal an embarrassed echo in the empty house.

So, yes, I'm trying my hand at fiction. Click on over to read the rest and if you like it, would love a wee vote. Ever grateful for your kind words and encouragement. xx

IMG_1073

Especially that girl, right there. That face screams encouragement.

What I'm Into {November 2013 edition}

01 December 2013



I'm in complete denial that the end of the year is inching ever closer. This year has been a lifechanger for us - literally - and I'm kind of sad to think of it being over, of starting anew. And you know how I get absolutely melancholy in the month leading up to Christmas. But all that's still to come. For now, we celebrate November and what a mad month it was in our little house (hint: cold & flu season).

READING

Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott, is a continuing source of inspiration and encouragement. I often laugh to myself reading it, and then upon Matt's queries, find myself rereading section after section aloud to him. I'm still working on this book (months after first mentioning it) because at the end of every chapter, I just have to dig into a keyboard or notebook.

The Crimes of Charlotte Bronte by James Tulley seemed promising. What really happened to all those lonely sisters? A handsome young man and mysterious poisonings? But the narration lagged in starts and turns every chapter and I found myself righteously indignant on behalf of the Bronte sisters for being subject to caricatures in someone else's sad stories.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. This book was just... wow... I'm still ruminating on it. It's dark and clever and light and terrible and all told from the perspective of the bravest, saddest 7 year old boy I've ever come across. I was afraid to come back to this book after putting it down, and yet I couldn't not turn the page. I have a feeling the myth of the Hempstocks and all that happened on that lane will stay with me for years to come.

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. I want to love Flynn, as a fellow native Kansas Citian turned Chicago transplant. Like Gone Girl, I struggled with the personalities and motivations of every character, but was drawn into the dysfunction and the depth of murder in this scary small town. With only 30 pages left, I had to sneak a peak at the end just to quell the anxiety that seemed to rise within my chest with every turn of the page. Flynn is an amazing storyteller, even if her stories are of the devastatingly twisted variety.

Allegiant by Veronica Roth finally released and I gobbled it up in a day and half, and then spit it out. Oh, young adult fiction. You just aren't gonna match up to Hunger Games. Give your young people something new to chew on, not just governmental conspiracy after governmental conspiracy after governmental conspiracy. Oh, and what lies beyond the cruel fence beyond a post-apocalyptic Chicago? O'Hare Airport, of course! Sillies. Though I loved much of the Divergent series and especially appreciated the Chicago setting and complex family dynamics, I struggled to maintain an attachment to the narrative in the final book. The narrator changed nearly every chapter between two characters who were so alike I had to keep checking who was actually telling the story. And I found Four/Tobias sadly underdeveloped after a particularly promising start in Divergent. What say you?

In the queue: The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde, the Wool series by Hugh Howey and Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey (I'm late to the party on this one, but waiting until its release here in Ireland so I can underline the heck out of it and share it with my lady friends). 

TV

Did anything else happen this month besides the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special? Since we don't get BBC we indulged our inner nerds and saw Day of the Doctor in the cinema with 3D glasses and loads of adorably cute older men (and little boys) in bow ties. It was fantastic, as I knew it would be, and a fun cultural experience to be a part of. We've also been watching Spooks (aka MI-5) on Netflix, only furthering our belief that British dramas win at everything (Matt says it's like a British Alias, but better, to which I responded: "How dare you?!" and haven't spoken to him since).

MOVIES

I saw Blue Jasmine in the cinema, even though I'm not predisposed to Woody Allen. But Clate Blanchett, like always, was brilliant and the film left my heart achingly frustrated. And my friend Bronagh indulged me by participating in my annual viewing of You've Got Mail. Other than saving myself for Catching Fire (not yet seen as of this posting), our library loot includes The Conspirator, Lincoln and Despicable Me 2

MUSIC


Last week we finally cashed in my last birthday present and saw The Lumineers live in Dublin. It's slightly concerning to be of the mid-30s mindset where you wonder if you'll be the oldest at any particular thing. Nevertheless I put on my hipster shoes and skinny jeans, reminiscing about the good ole days where my sister and I would stand in line for 12 hours in the freezing rain for a chance to be "in the heart" for U2 in Kansas City, clapped with my man to Big Parade and sang loudly to Stubborn Love. They put on a great live show. My only complaint: their music is so succinct, many songs were over just as you started stomping your feet. :)

On iTunes repeat starting today: Sufjan Stevens Songs for Christmas and Silver & Gold, Arcade Fire's Reflektor, and revisiting a favourite: Everyone's Beautiful by Waterdeep.

THINGS I LOVE


  • Seeing Matt realize a life-long dream of visiting Berlin
  • Autumn's final song, nearly 3 months after the first red leaves dropped
  • Matt and I sharing chips and a burger from a food cart while queuing for a show
  • Getting our hibernating Christmas tree out of the attic
  • My very first time hosting Thanksgiving, especially for the lovely time with our American friends and colleagues here in our home.
  • Remembering CS Lewis on the 50th anniversary of his death. Of the two Irishmen who died on November 22 1963, I defer to Lewis, every time. His words have influenced the trajectory our life, our understanding of love and the hearts of our children who recognize the spirit of God in Aslan.
  • Road trips to familiar places
  • My new blog design
  • Writing class... so thankful for the people I met and the push I needed to try something new and risky
  • Trying my amateur hand at fiction
  • Skype dates and coffee dates and Ikea dates with friends, so many friends, everywhere. 
  • When the fever breaks and the smiles of the little ones return
  • Babysitters who love my kids
  • Studying, praying, learning peace for our 50 days of peace experiment
  • This post by Shauna Niequist on motherhood, calling and being fully alive in God: “What’s so sad is that when women fail to take their lives seriously, nobody wins. Our kids didn’t win. They got a devoted, conscientious mother, who picked up after them and made sure they got their homework done. They got a mother who adored them, prayed for them, always wanted the best for them. But they didn’t get a happy mother. They didn’t get a fun mother. They didn’t get to see, up close and personal, a woman fully alive in God."

For other things I love, make sure you visit me at Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. I never take pictures of food; that's a promise.

ON THE BLOG

Most read post this month :: Doing the math :: thoughts on Jenkins, gambling and wealth
My favourite post this month :: How stupid gets washed away

SCRIPTURE

Turn your back on sin; do something good. 
Embrace peace - don't let it get away!
Psalm 34:14 {the message}

Linking up with...


What's been on your plate this month? Any good, new Christmas music out there?
 
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