On The Nightstand (What I'm Reading):
Sidenote: I feel like this is misleading because I don't typically read in bed. Actually, I don't at all. I always read downstairs in my rocking chair (I actually do just about everything from that chair). So the more appropriate heading would be "On table next to my rocking chair." Also - THIS IS HUGE - I have been reading a few books on my iPad! I was (and still, in theory, am) vehemently opposed to e-readers. I think it's the beginning of libraries and bookstores becoming extinct and then we'll all end up in this horrible, futuristic world where we go into a museum to view these relics called "books." I have totally irrational but very real fears about this (just ask Kurt, I talk about it all the time). :) So all that to say, I truly shuddered every time I walked by a Kindle or Nook stand, but once I got my iPad I decided to just experiment. I think it was because I knew I would use my iPad for a lot of other things, and I hadn't bought it expressly as a reading device? I don't know. But I started reading on it and didn't have the absolutely horrible experience I just knew I'd have. I will say, I could NEVER stop buying hard copy books, but for certain things I can see the benefit of reading on my iPad (like when traveling, etc.). And obviously I'm super long-winded today.
Kurt was given the book Not a Fan by his grandfather, who told him it was life-changing. As a man who we absolutely consider a spiritual giant, it definitely gets our attention if he says a book will completely change your spiritual walk. The author's whole premise is that Jesus doesn't want a stadium full of emotionally-crazed and hyped-up fans; He wants committed followers. Kurt read it and was so affected by it, he told our Discipleship pastor that it needed to be taught in a class format. We have Sunday evening discipleship/Bible study classes and so Kurt now teaches this as a study. I'm in the process of reading it and IT IS INCREDIBLE. So simple but so profound. Also - the videos that come with the teaching kit are like nothing I've ever seen. They are so well done and you're totally engrossed in it. I HIGHLY recommend this!
I've read Kelle's blog for ages, but I'm just now getting around to reading her beautiful book, Bloom. I absolutely love her style of writing (it's exactly how she writes on her blog) - very conversational and real but still incredibly deep. She has a way of describing moments that take your breath away. Yet (and this is HUGELY important to me), I never feel like she's spent an insane amount of time CRAFTING a paragraph - trying too hard to make it a literary piece. If I had to choose a near-perfect style, it would be hers. Her book pulled me in and I'm enjoying hanging out with her.
My friend Carrie mentioned that her book club read The Mormon Mirage and I decided to read it as well. Before I continue, I know I have very sweet Mormon friends who read my blog and I am NOT posting this to offend them or cause hurt. I have always been interested in the Mormon belief system because I think the Mormon culture is fascinating. I really do desire to know the context they're coming from. This book is written by a former LDS member and she does write from the perspective of someone who has experienced a very real change of heart and belief towards the LDS church. So while it's not an unbiased book, she thoroughly outlines the different doctrines and books that the LDS church considers Scripture. I understand that my Mormon friends will disagree with her perspective, but I've found the book to be incredibly educational simply from the standpoint of what the LDS church believes. While I personally have very different beliefs than the Mormon church, there are certain aspects I admire. It never hurts to read and learn about things that are different from you; it will either change your way of thinking or it will strengthen the belief system you already have.
I lived in Mississippi for ten years (Kurt was born and raised there), and some of the South absolutely rubbed off on me. One of the things I loved every year was Mississippi Magazine's Wedding Register. It's their annual issue that includes write-ups and pictures of tons of weddings throughout Mississippi. Since I moved, my friend Suzanne is faithful to send me a Register every year! :) I told Kurt that every time I read it, it confirms how I feel about the South and the Midwest - I wish the South cared a little bit less about some things (we lived in sort of a pretentious area of the state), and I wish the Midwest cared a little MORE (things are just NOT done with as much elegance here). Haha! All that to say, I love going through each page and reading about what different Southern brides have done, where they honeymooned, what they wore, etc. It's fun!
I always have about 10 books going at a time, so this is just a sampling. I'm also reading a few fiction books and some books about the marriage relationship. I obviously love to read!
On The Shelf (What I'm Wanting to Read):
Well, I have a whole library full, so there's no way I could list them all! I have several Downton Abbey books that I got for Christmas and books that are written about what it was like to live and work in a real English estate at that time.
At The Theater:
Well, I was obviously VERY excited to see the new movie version of Les Miserables! I can generally say that it didn't disappoint and I was very, very pleased with how it was done. This story is so incredibly special to me for numerous reasons. I first saw the stage production with my grandfather in London and have seen it about 6 times since in numerous cities. There are innumerable spiritual correlations about grace and redemption, and a particular song really resonates in our family with a situation we were dealing with for many years. The lyrics were so poignant and perfect for what we were going through. While I was studying in London, I wrote my final paper for my theater class about the spiritual comparisons in the story. I could go on and on. Overall, I would say that I much prefer the experience of seeing the show live, but the movie offered a realism that you can't really get in the theater. Kurt and I said before we saw it that we knew parts would be hard to watch, because of the gruesome nature of that time period, and we were right. Certain songs were sung with such passion it was mind-blowing (Hugh Jackman singing Valjean's opening Soliloquy and Anne Hathaway's I Dreamed a Dream were the standouts). I told a friend that both the stage and the movie stand alone and bring their own benefits. One is not to be ignored in favor of the other! Overall, a beautiful movie with very stirring themes.
On The Small Screen:
I'm looking forward to Smash coming back soon and hopefully Mad Men!? They're being really weird and secretive about when it will premiere. I've recently gotten into the Food Network, namely Barefoot Contessa. I really find it soothing to watch people cook!
In My Ears:
Nothing new or unusual here. Just my normal easy listening with some random artists thrown in here and there.
Around The House:
I'm going to do a post about several house updates soon, but I will say that I have made significant progress on baby Lynley's room! Again, I have a whole post coming about this and other things, but I can now say that I've tackled Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and I LOVE IT!!!!! Here's one of the pieces I did for L's room. Here's the before:
And here's the after!
The baby's room is definitely coming together - stay tuned!
In the Kitchen:
Like I mentioned above, I have recently really gotten into Food Network (sometimes more for the background noise than the actual recipes - ha!). It's rare that I watch something and actually attempt it myself, but I was watching Barefoot Contessa and her Weeknight Bolognese really jumped out at me. I made it and we LOVED IT! I was shocked it went so smoothly. Definitely give it a try!
In My Closet:
Well I definitely have a large baby bump now so I'm finding creative ways to dress. For some reason I CANNOT find my bin of maternity clothes from when I was pregnant with Evy. It's so weird! I've tried looking everywhere. However, my style has definitely changed and evolved since then and I'm much more settled in what my style is. I've been able to wear a LOT of things in my closet that aren't maternity because pretty much all I wear are tunics and short dresses with skinny jeans or leggings. I bought a pair of Gap maternity skinny jeans and I've LIVED IN THEM. They are the best. Someone asked me to do a post about my pregnancy style but I keep forgetting to take pictures. Plus, I really don't think I'm THAT inventive or stylish? I have just come to know my body shape really well. When I shop (pregnant or not) I don't even look at something unless it comes down well below my hips. You have no idea how much this speeds up the process! I can scan a store or website in seconds to see what will work on me and this helps so much. The trick to wearing all of the tunics and dresses that I do is to go skinny on the bottom. I never wear bootcut jeans or pants - only skinnies. I'm pear-shaped and as long as my hips and upper thighs are covered, wearing skinny jeans makes my legs look a lot more slim. Figure-flattery aside, I just like the look of a longer top with skinnies. And this is hilarious - my friends will say "I'm trying an Ashley outfit today!" or "I saw this tunic and IMMEDIATELY thought of you!" I didn't even realize I have developed kind of a "signature." It's fun. :)
In My Mailbox:
When we got back from Disney, our mailbox was FULL!
Our first matching smocking set for THREE arrived (I got these on Zulily!)!
And I was thrilled to open this beautiful blanket for Lynley that I ordered here! It is just perfect!!!!
In My Cart:
Well, I bought some wonderful Disney souvenirs that I can't wait to share in an upcoming post! I also bought a couple of gifts for Kurt for Valentine's Day that I'm really excited about - they're creative and fun (I'll share about them soon)! Evy's little birthday party is coming up, so I got some things for her party decor. We're doing it at a bouncy house place (which I'm so excited about - no cleanup at my house!!!) and I also placed an order with Chick-Fil-A for catering. YUM.
On My Heart:
Ever since December, marriage enrichment has really been on my heart. I'm not saying this in a bragging way at all, but Kurt and I are in the best place we've been since getting married 5 1/2 years ago. I wouldn't even say that we've ever had a "difficult" season in our marriage (although there are always challenging days and moments), but we've just really started cultivating a mindset about what we want our marriage to be and how we want to it to look years from now. I don't blog about our marriage very much at all because it's just something I feel is between the two of us, but I have really started getting excited about ways to make our marriage better. After we exchange Valentine's gifts, I'll do a post about some websites that I've really enjoyed browsing!
In My Prayers:
-One of my very best friends, Carrie, and her husband have started the process to adopt a special needs child! I'm so thrilled for them and I'm also praying for them because I know what a roller coaster adoption can be. But I also know what an incredible blessing it is!
-I'm still continuing to pray for Lynley and my pregnancy. Kurt and I have had a lot of conversations about what the transition might be like to having three kids, and I just always want the Lord's wisdom in how to be the best mom I can be.
-Asking for wisdom in planning some women's events at church. I want to plan things that reflect being a true Christ-follower and not just an enthused "fan" who wants to entertain people and make Jesus look flashy and fun. It's a fine line with women's events and I always want to be wise in how we structure our events.
On the Calendar:
February should be pretty exciting! Evy will celebrate her 4th birthday, I have a maternity photo session scheduled, and we're being given a family double baby shower (along with Kurt's brother and his wife). Kurt and I plan to take Evy on a little day trip to St. Louis for her birthday at some point during the month, and I'm going to try and schedule my 3D/4D sonogram at an ultrasound boutique in St. Louis (I bought a coupon from Living Social that I'm going to use). I'm helping with the junior high musical again (this year it's Beauty and the Beast!), but I will have a smaller set of responsibilities which helps. I'll be going to rehearsals for a few hours each week. Our performance dates were moved up to March (as opposed to early May last year), so we're on a big time crunch, but at least I won't be about to deliver when we have the show! :) I'm excited about Valentine's celebrations. Not necessarily because I'm crazy about Valentine's Day itself, but because it's just another reason to have a nice dinner with Kurt and spend time together. February looks to be a happy month!