What I’m Into {January 2014 Edition}

What I'm Into ~ Plumfield DreamsThis is my first time participating in Leigh Kramer’s monthly “What I’m Into” linkup. I’m excited! I love this sort of thing. Hopefully some of you gentle readers do, as well. (Speaking of what I’m into…when I typed “gentle readers” my mind went to a specific Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode. Can you go there, too? Oh, I hope so, because that means you lead a happy life.)

What I’m Reading

I’ve been sick so much, and subsequently so busy when I’m well, that I haven’t gotten much reading done. I even missed book club. A Million Little Ways has been my primary read this month, and it is fantastic. It’s been a while since I’ve done much underlining in a book, but this one is getting heavily marked up. It has inspired a lot of thoughts, all milling around waiting for me to have the time to focus properly on each. It’s a book to savor, for sure.

The books most heavily in rotation with the kids this month are Katie Loves the Kittens, a couple I Spy books Aria got for her birthday, Madeline’s Rescue, one of Andy’s Garfield comic strip books Aria found on the bookshelf, and Charlie the Ranch Dog.

What I’m Watching

Downton Abbey AND Sherlock came back this month, so I’m basically in television heaven. I’ve also been rewatching NCIS. I’m up to season nine, which is the last one I own (no, I did not watch nine seasons this month). There are many things to appreciate about this show, but one of my favorite aspects is the subtlety. They don’t spell things out, and they don’t show a lot of the relational situations. Instead, they drop hints – verbal, contextual, and physical – and trust the viewer to follow. It’s refreshing.

Geeking Out

I just learned about this awesome curated box of bookish things you can receive quarterly. I AM SO EXCITED. I only wish I had learned about it before the first box went out, because I want everything in it. Oh, and I also wish I could afford to do this one, too. And that I could gift one to everyone I know.

Around the Web

Emily Freeman is one of my favorite bloggers (she also wrote A Million Little Ways). This post about Choosing the One You Least Expect is moving and inspiring.

I can very much relate to the whole waffling thing Anna discusses in Moms Need More Swagger (also to the idea my mom knew everything with confidence, and to the waiting for that to kick in).

The Kids Are Learning 

Aria (two) has started saying “I love you” and “I like you”. The latter is a song from her favorite TV show, “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood”. She has also started singing – more than just mimicking me – beginning with the “I like you” song. She has become extremely polite. It’s cute. She says “thanks” for pretty much everything, is getting quite good at remembering her “pleases”, and (my favorite) says “excuse me” if she needs to pass you. I hear “‘Scuse me, Mommy” a couple dozen times a day. She has also learned to apologize to her brother if she does something mean, or something thoughtless that results in him getting hurt. She’s pretty good about it, but sometimes I feel badly because I’ve heard her saying “Sowwy, Noey” when he cries about something totally unrelated to her. It’s cute, and a little sad, but I think she just doesn’t quite understand it yet. She seems to be basically trying to get him to be quiet. 🙂

Noah (6 months) is starting to play independently on the floor for short periods of time. Yesterday I left him in the Bumbo seat on the living room floor, and when I came back ten minutes later he was hanging out on his belly on the floor. We may be about done with the Bumbo seat. He isn’t crawling yet, but he does push himself up almost onto his knees regularly, and he pulls himself around the room. He got three more teeth in a period of about four days, so he now has a total of five. We started him on solids a couple weeks ago. Thus far he’s eaten avocado, banana, sweet potato fries, roasted carrots, green beans, and homemade chicken fingers. He seems to have enjoyed all of it.

What I’m Pinning

Super Bowl food! We started our clean eating endeavor this month, and I’ve been pinning food like crazy.

Here’s what we think we’re going to try for the Super Bowl:

Buffalo Wings with Dairy-Free Ranch Dressing

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Spinach Brownies

Texas-Style Cilantro Jalapeno Hummus


What I'm Into

7 Quick Takes: The One with a New Year’s Christmas

Each week I post seven “quick takes” of things on my mind. Topics are typically related to our family happenings or things I’m into right now.

  1. We spent New Year’s Eve with Andy’s family. It’s become a tradition to play games and eat party food together to ring in the new year. There’s something about that particular holiday that feels so laid back, and I love it. We had a great time. Aria enjoyed it at least as much as Andy and I, because she got to spend the entire night playing with her cousins. We got around and went home as soon as midnight hit, because we had a big day planned for the first. Also because we had a two-year-old and a six-month-old out past midnight.
  2. We slept in a bit on the first, then packed the kids up and went back to Andy’s parents’ for our Christmas celebration. We had a lovely brunch, then opened gifts. It was really fun, and we all gave and received nice things. Aria was pleased with her toys (she’s generally pleased with things, really), and had a blast playing with her cousins again. Toward the end of the day things got a bit rough, because the kids were overly-tired. But then our family and Aria’s idolized cousin, Emma, were the last to leave. Once everyone else was gone, the girls sat, all by themselves, in the living room in a shared chair and played separately and very quietly next to each other. It was precious.
  3. I cannot believe I am back to work already! I had eight days off, and they flew past. Before the Christmas vacation each year, I feel as though the things I need to tackle in the new year are so far off, and then – bam! – they hit incredibly quickly.
  4. I’ll probably spend most of the next week or so planning this year – work, blog, and personal. I would have liked to do most of that before January, but I didn’t get to it. I love to plan, so starting the year with some serious brainstorming and organizing sessions doesn’t bother me a bit.
  5. You might recall that I set a goal to read 60 books in 2013, then did so by August (what?!). So I set a new goal to read 80 books before the end of the year…and missed it by two. I didn’t try incredibly hard, though, I’ve gotta say. I’m sure I could have gotten two more books in, but I was already feeling plenty self-satisfied. 😉 So, I read 78 books this year. You can see the list here. I also read approximately five board books each day (though it was not five different board books each day, of course). It was a good year reading-wise, both in number (not really that important, just fun), and content. I wrote a wrap-up post about content here. Also, I finished The Thirteenth Tale after I wrote that post. It was a fantastic novel. I read every line, every word, and that’s unusual for me in a novel. I’m known to skim paragraphs if I lose interest, and I didn’t do that with this book.
  6. I am starting some significant new endeavors this year, which you will probably read a lot about on the blog. Three words: house, diet, work. I’ll write in detail in the next week or two.
  7. I am enjoying watching the kids play with their new toys. Aria has such an inquisitive, organized mind, and it’s a joy to watch her play. I am telling you, this thing where she’s two is fantastic so far. I anticipate a great year with her. Overall, Noah is increasingly interested in playing with things. At the moment he is teething, so he mostly just chews on everything. In fact, yesterday I was holding him close because he was fussy, and he turned his face in toward my arm…and bit. That was a first for me. I yelped, which resulted in him crying pretty hard. Anyhoo, he’s thisclose to several new skills, including mobility and sitting on his own, that will increase his interactions with toys. I’m looking forward to it!

The Best Books I Read in 2013

My Favorite Reads of 2013 ~ Plumfield Dreams

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My friend Sarah at All Manner of Inspiration is hosting an end-of-the-year linkup so we can all share our book lists from this year. I’m also linking up with Anne at Modern Mrs Darcy.

I read a lot of great books this year. Sometimes you just hit the jackpot, you know? I read a few total flops, too, but I’m not even going to bother listing those. I’d rather discuss the positive.

I hope you’ll join these linkups with your own post, and/or post in the comments here – I want to know what your favorite books of the year were. My TBR stack is never high enough. (Okay…you caught me…it toppled over a long time ago.)

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)

I like memoirs (you’re going to notice that as you scroll through here). This one is fun and surprisingly insightful. Okay, maybe I’m being a bit of a snob, but I really didn’t expect much depth from this read, and I was pleased to find otherwise. I’ve also read Tina Fey’s Bossypants, and I preferred Kaling’s musings and stories.

Babycatcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife

Ooh, I loved this book. Vincent was a midwife for decades, getting in on the ground floor as the movement resurfaced. The book made me laugh and cry, and I reveled in all the lovely life.

Surprised by Oxford: A Memoir

I didn’t expect too much from this one. The title and cover appealed to me, but I couldn’t figure how it would be engaging enough that I would want to wade through it. I was wrong. (Hmm…three books so far, and I was wrong about two of them…this is concerning.) At any rate, this book is beautifully written, one to savor.

The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared

Another memoir! This is a quick read about a father and daughter who somehow managed to read aloud every evening from the time she was a young child to the day she went to college. Sweet and inspiring.

84, Charing Cross Road

This little charmer is a very quick read. I think I sailed through it in a couple of hours. It consists of letters sent back and forth between an American woman and the staff of a British bookstore in the years following WWII.

The Mission of Motherhood

I love Clarkson’s writings. When I read this book I felt as though I were sitting with a trusted and well-loved mentor, as she shared her wisdom in a conversational way. Clarkson lays the foundation for the why of intentional mothering, and then gives fantastic practical advice for how.

Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World

I’ve read something like a bazillion business and communication books, and this was one of the best. If you have something to say in this fast-paced, over-saturated world, I recommend you read this book.

Sparkly Green Earrings: Catching the Light at Every Turn

Oh, my. I didn’t expect to like this book as much as I did. (There I go again.) Shankle is FUNNY. I laughed, I cried, I laughed some more. And then again. I think this one will mostly appeal to moms.

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth

I read this while I was expecting Noah. Gaskin is full of wisdom and years of knowledge about pregnancy and childbirth. The first section of the book consists entirely of birth stories from patients at The Farm, told in their own words. Approximately the latter two-thirds of the book is Gaskin’s writings. I found the birth stories inspiring and reassuring as I anticipated my own natural birth, and I expect I will reread the entire thing for subsequent pregnancies.

Parenting from the Heights

I heard this mother/daughter writing team give an interview on a local radio station, and I like what they had to say, so I invested in their book about setting boundaries and teaching our children discipline with love. The ladies deflate popular, but ineffective, methods without fear. A good resource.

How Do You Kill 11 Million People?

The answer, in a nutshell, is lie to them. This is a quick read, and I highly recommend it to anyone, regardless of political or religious bent – the book is balanced, and it highlights something we all need to consider deeply.

My Ideal Bookshelf

A coffee table-style book of “ideal bookshelves” as described by a variety of people, celebrity and non-celebrity alike. The drawings are cool, and the insights into peoples’ thinking is interesting. The last page outlines a set of books, and invites the reader to create his/her own ideal bookshelf. I think I’ll do that on the blog one of these days. This is one to enjoy a page or two at a time.

A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet

Boo Mama writes one of the few blogs I will read in its entirety every single time she posts, regardless of the topic. She is hi-lar-i-ous, and oh, so real. Her book is beautiful, sweet and funny, a celebration of life. Read it for the feels (as Boo Mama herself might say) (and then she’d write in multiple parenthetical statements, because she prides herself on being grammatically accurate like that).

Listening for Madeleine: A Portrait of Madeleine L’Engle in Many Voices

L’Engle was a fascinating, confusing woman. Her writings are interesting, whimsical, inspiring. And apparently, those who knew her often found her as confusing as I do. It’s interesting, then, that only one or two of the many remembrances in this compilation are not affectionate.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

I reread this one for book club, and I’m glad I did. The book is a fairly easy read, and still has depth and beauty, and a wealth of information about a front in WWII I hadn’t known about (and I’ve read a lot, nonfiction and fiction, about WWII).


Finishing the Hat & Look, I Made a Hat

These beautiful coffee table books are a complete compendium of Stephen Sondheim’s lyrics, with his own reflections on the songs and the shows for which he wrote them. A must for any musical theatre buff, particularly if you like Sondheim. (And I’m not sure you can be a musical theatre buff if you don’t like Sondheim.)

A Girl Named Zippy

Zippy grew up in my parents’ generation (or pretty close to it) in Indiana, the state in which I’ve resided my entire life. This is a beautiful ode to a bygone era. Also, it’s funny.

Fit to Burst: Abundance, Mayhem and the Joys of Motherhood

I LOVE this book, and the one that preceded it, Loving the Little Years. Jankovic is inspiring and challenging, pulling no punches in bite size chapters perfect for the busy mom who needs a reminder about why she is doing what she is doing.

The Fault in Our Stars

I’m probably one of the last people in the world to read this book, so you may not need me to tell you about it. And I’m not really going to, except to say that it’s about a teenager with cancer, and yeah, it’s sad, but it’s also funny and fun and you should read it. (That is, if you haven’t already.)

Someday, Someday, Maybe

Okay, this is the last of the “I didn’t think I’d like it this well” books. It’s well-written and engaging, and far smarter than I thought a book by actress Lauren Graham would be. (I know, I know – I really am a snob.)

The Greatest Gift

Ann Voskamp is one of my favorite writers. This advent book does not disappoint. If you weren’t one of the people who made it the #1 selling book on all of Amazon (how cool is that?! It’s an advent book!), I highly recommend you purchase it for next year. You can send me a thank you card next December. Oh, and buy the hardback – you want to hold this one in your hands.

The Women of Christmas

Higgs writes in such a chatty tone as she takes the reader through the Christmas story verse by verse. I love that. She goes into detail about the culture and history surrounding the story, taking what many would make dry and making it engaging. (Okay, I love that sort of thing, so I would find it interesting any way, but really, truly, I think any woman interested in the topic would enjoy it.)

What were your favorite reads of 2013?

Christian Parenting Ebook Bundle

Bundle #46: Christian Parenting

This week’s bundle includes encouragement for the weary mom, practical parenting tips and devotions to help you focus your heart even from the trenches of parenthood.

Get all five of these ebooks at a discount of more than 70% off:

Parenting from the Overflow by Teri Lynne Underwood
In Parenting from the Overflow, Teri Lynne offers a biblically-based framework for living in the abundance God has for each of us…and modeling that life for our children.Rather than focusing on tips and techniques, she explores how our lives can overflow with qualities such as love, patience, grace, and courage — all rooted in God’s work in us, not our efforts or abilities. This is a practical and encouraging ebook, filled with honest stories from her own journey of learning to lean into God so the overflow of Him pours onto those around her.

Devotions, Advice & Renewal for When Motherhood Feels Too Hard by Kelly Crawford
Motherhood is hard. That’s a fact. It’s labor-intensive, requiring the extraordinary courage and sacrifice of women who know much of their labor will not receive earthly accolades. Mothers are the “wind beneath the wings” of the next generation. If a group of people needs encouragement and help, it’s the mothers of our day! Kelly’s Devotions, Advice & Renewal for When Motherhood Feels Too Hard is a book you will want to read over and over, written in small snippets for daily renewal. It is refreshing and inspiring, casting a vision for motherhood you may have never known and offering practical “survival tips” for the overwhelmed mom.

The Heart of Simplicity by various authors
Today’s typical lifestyle is marked by busyness, consumerism, and stress. We, as women, often complain that there’s not enough time to “do it all.” Do we suffer from a lack of time? No. We suffer from a lack of eternal perspective. How we invest our time on earth will impact eternity in a million ways. In The Heart of Simplicity, more than a dozen Christian women share their experience simplifying their lives from the inside out to build homemaking foundations focused on Christ. When we are faithful to focus on what is truly essential in our homemaking, we can build an eternal legacy…one simple day at a time.

Refuel Your Inner SuperMom by Rosann Cunningham
Refuel Your Inner SuperMom offers practical advice and encouragement for the mom who strives to do and be her best but who, due to the often overwhelming chaos of life, has simply lost her focus, her motivation and her groove. Take the journey with Rosann as she shares the depths of her heart and her own failures in motherhood, marriage and life, while taking positive, intentionally focused steps to getting her SuperMom groove back. This isn’t your average “How to Become SuperMom” book; it’s written and designed in a way that allows it to be more of a journey of self-discovery and intentionally focused lifestyle change — for the better. And all for the glory of God.

The Family Table by Arabah Joy
The Family Table is a beautifully designed ebook packed with over 50 ideas, activities, games, and recipes to spark intimacy, connection, laughter, service, hospitality, and making memories as a family. Arabah gives you a sneak peek into what other families are doing to revolutionize their time around the family table as well as the tools you need to approach your mealtimes intentionally as well.

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