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Books: Yesterday I finished reading To Heaven and Back by Mary Neal, about a near death experience she had when she drowned in a kayaking accident. I’ve read several books about near death experiences, and am always fascinated by them. I especially enjoyed this book because she writes about miracles that she’s experienced throughout her life, not just the near death experience. As I wrote about in my last post, I’m also reading Power of a Praying Wife. Also this week finished reading A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. So intelligent, poignant, hilarious and possibly life-changing. I couldn’t stop highlighting and underlining my favorite passages. Here’s one of them:

“If you are looking for Bible verses with which to support slavery, you will find them. If you are looking for verses with which to abolish slavery, you will find them. If you are looking for verses with which to oppress women, you will find them. If you are looking for verses with which to liberate and honor women, you will find them. If you are looking for reasons to wage war, you will find them. If you are looking for reasons to promote peace, you will find them. If you are looking for an outdated and irrelevant ancient text, you will find it. If you are looking for truth, believe me, you will find it.”

Movies: We’ve recently discovered Lilo & Stitch. A Disney cartoon that takes place in Kauai and includes an Elvis-impersonating extraterrestrial? Enough said. And have I mentioned that I’ve only been to the movies twice since my daughter’s birth in April 2012? It’s interesting how a former favorite activity no longer seems worthwhile since becoming a mom.

Television: Marie and I have been enjoying The Magic School Bus. I also started watching the new season of Orange is the New Black, but had to stop, because apparently (despite NPR’s love affair with this show) I can’t handle watching shows that are rated M. I do recommend the book of the same name however. Piper Kerman’s memoir of her time in prison for a minor involvement in an international drug ring was an interesting read and gives important insight into the prison system.

Music: Same old nursery rhyme remixes and classical.

Work: School’s out for summer! I was lucky to have the opportunity to sub for an elementary school speech pathologist several times in the last few weeks of school. I found that I really enjoy working with kids one-on-one and in small groups. But I’m unlikely to make a career switch to speech pathology, as it would involve a year of prerequisite classes before starting a two year master’s program. I’m also currently in between paid writing projects.

Recipe: We’ve been getting lots of kale in our CSA, but Marie won’t eat it, so I tried making kale chips for the first time yesterday. Success! She ate them and they were super easy to make.

Gratitude: We went on our first family bike ride with Marie this morning in a pull-behind trailer. My parents were able to join us as well. Saw three great blue herons. Looking forward to many more bike rides this summer!

On the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe Slide on our first visit to the Enchanted Forest.

On the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe Slide on our first visit to the Enchanted Forest.                                 

 

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Books: I’m currently reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp and Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer. Next up on my list are the YA novel  Looking for Alaska by John Green and Malcolm Gladwell’s new book, David and Goliath. 

Movies: Hmmm, I rarely have time to watch movies anymore. Marie is currently fixated on Disney’s Pocahontas and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I was really impressed with Hunchback, really a deep message for kids about inner beauty. In fact, I could probably write a whole essay about this film, but I’ll spare you that. We also watched Happy Feet last week, which is pretty cute.

Television: Downton Abbey is over and I’ve decided that Grimm is too creepy for me. So that just leaves Parks and Recreation. I like that it features strong female characters. Also I’ve been letting Marie watch Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, a cartoon spin-off of Mr. Rogers. It’s pretty sweet, each episode has a little lesson that’s set to music. For example, “If you feel so mad that you want to roar, just take a deep breath and count to four.”

Music: I’m digging the Johnny Cash and Ella Fitzgerald children’s albums my mom recently gave us. Grandma Alice is helping Marie develop sophisticated musical tastes.

Project: Gratitude journaling.

Work: Writing a series of blog posts for accounting and finance professionals — here’s one. Haven’t subbed yet this month.

Gratitude: We just had our first vacation since 2011! A week in Palm Desert with my in-laws.

Sideview of the apparently famous Marilyn statue in downtown Palm Springs, where we encountered some colorful characters.

Sideview of the apparently famous Marilyn statue in downtown Palm Springs, where we encountered some, um, colorful characters. (Photo credit: Ursula Crawford)

 

Fear: Carcinogens in plastics.  

Developmental milestones: Marie swam on her own (with water wings) on the last day of our vacation! Also her vocabulary has me pretty impressed. She keeps creating verbs, saying things like, “I’m get upping,” or “I’m lay downing.” Or “Pocahontas, she troubling.” Did I mention she’s obsessed with Pocahontas? Might be awhile before we let her watch that again.

Looking forward to: Watching Marie continue to develop her personality. She’s almost two. I love kids in the two – five age range because the things they say are so funny.

A few of my favorite books.

A few of my favorite books.

As part of a recent Facebook game, I made a list of ten books — excluding The Bible — that have impacted me. I chose (in no particular order):

10 books that have influenced me

1. Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller
2. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller
3. Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott
4. The Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot
5. The Poetry of Robert Frost
6. The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis
7. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
8. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
9. This Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolff
10. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Also, I’ll share my favorite book I’ve read this year. I’ve read a lot of good books so the competition is steep and maybe I’m slightly biased because I had the chance to meet this author and take a writing workshop from her, but here it is (drumroll):

Live Through This: A Mother’s Memoir of Runaway Daughters and Reclaimed Love by Debra Gwartney

I was also inspired to reflect on movies I’ve watched. I’ve seen so many movies over the years that I found it impossible to make one Top 10 list, so I had to break it up by category. Again, these lists aren’t necessarily in any kind of meaningful order.

10 documentaries that entertained, inspired and/or influenced my thinking:

1. Lord Save us from Your Followers
2. What Would Jesus Buy?
3. Jesus Camp
4. Grizzly Man
5. Supersize Me
6. Food Inc.
7. Sicko
8. An Inconvenient Truth
9. Encounters at the End of the World
10. Blackfish (just finished watching this yesterday but it was very impacting — fascinating, informative, and highly disturbing all at once).

10 comedies that really made me laugh:

1. Sideways
2. Little Miss Sunshine
3. Juno
4. Stranger than Fiction
5. The Princess Bride
6. Pretty Woman (well it’s not that funny, but I can’t resist the storyline).
7. Say Anything (I love you young John Cusack)
8. Office Space
9. Zoolander (yes it’s a terrible movie, I know).
10. I Heart Huckabees

10 dramas that have either entertained, allowed a good cathartic cry or led to a deep phobia:

1. Lord of the Rings trilogy
2. American Beauty
3. Jurassic Park
4. Jaws (is it safe to get back in the water yet?)
5. Romeo & Juliet with Leo DiCaprio and Claire Danes
6. The Breakfast Club
7. In America
8. A Beautiful Mind
9. Good Will Hunting
10. Dangerous Minds (had to include an inspirational teacher movie)

What about you? What are some of the books and films that have most influenced and inspired you, have made you laugh the longest and cry the hardest?