What I’m Into: April 2017

April. proper noun. Its showers are supposed to bring flowers. We’ll see.

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It’s cliche, I know, but where has April gone? I blinked, and now I’m mystified as I write May on the calendar. It’s been a mixed month – spring is slow in coming, and there have been some anxiety-inducing decisions stretching through this month. But Christ has risen. Though it’s easy to make that cliche, the magnitude of it has been hitting me in this Easter season. We are saved. We have hope. Our lives are worth celebrating.

Here’s what I’ve been loving this month.

Reading

The Four Loves – C.S. Lewis. There’s a reason that this is a classic. C.S. Lewis expounds on the four types of love (affection, friendship, erotic love, and charity) and why they are all important. The charity chapter was most mind-blowing to me. A favorite quote: “All who have good parents, wives, husbands, or children, may be sure that at some times – and perhaps at all times in respect of some one particular trait or habit – they are receiving Charity, are loved not because they are lovable but because Love Himself is in those who love them.” There are so many of these in this slim book – I need to read it again, soon.

The Boys in the Boat – Daniel James Brown. I adore this book. That’s in no small part because I listened to the audiobook, and Edward Hermann (the grandpa in Gilmore Girls) has the perfect voice to narrate this blend of history and rowing strategy and narrative. I am now half in love with all of the hardworking, dedicated boys of the 1936 crew team, and joining a rowing team has never had more appeal.

The Sun is Also a Star – Nicola Yoon. Recommendations for this book are all over the place, and I was a little scared to read it because I didn’t know if it would live up to the hype. It did. It chronicles one day in the life of Natasha and Daniel, two very different immigrant teens who meet on the streets of New York. Their story was unlikely and beautiful and heartbreaking and reminded me of how much our actions matter and influence those around us.

Very Married – Katherine Willis Pershey. This book is a sort of marriage memoir, with reflections on the beauty and struggles of lifelong commitment. Each chapter covers one aspect of marriage and offers stories, musings, and advice. I would love a bit more depth and length – sometimes it felt like Pershey just touched on a topic before moving on – but it was helpful to hear very real stories about married life.

Mosquitoland – David Arnold. In this book, a young girl runs away from her dad and stepmother in “Mosquitoland,” and boards a bus in search of the mother she left behind. It didn’t quite meet my expectations, but I did adore the characters, especially the friends Mim made along her journey. The empathetic, real portrayal of mental illness is also powerful.

Winter – Marissa Meyer. I finally finished the last book in the Lunar Chronicles. I’m glad to be done reading the series and know how it ended… but it seemed like Meyer was glad to be done writing the series, too. Overall assessment of the series? Great and fun and clever. Overall assessment of this installment? Meh.

Counting by 7s – Holly Goldberg Sloan. Willow, a super smart and socially awkward preteen, learns one day that her parents have been killed in a car crash. This book follows the unlikely generosity that helps her survive. The story is tender and sweet.

 

Watching

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Though this movie was a good deal creepier than my highly sensitive self expected, I loved the magical twist on 1920s New York and the subtle references to the world of Harry Potter. I’m curious what they’ll do with the sequel!

 

Listening

Spotify Daily Mix. I just found this Spotify feature, with individualized playlists that combine songs you’ve liked with other music of a similar genre. Yay for not making decisions.

The original version of this song got stuck in my head after every Zumba class (which is problematic when you only know 7 of the words…). But I have to admit, I love the Justin Bieber in this remix…

 

Loving

This video makes me laugh.

Olive green pants. I struggle dressing for spring in Minnesota, when boots feel too wintery but it’s still 38º on morning bus duty. These have given me a springier option than my constant black pants. Pseudo-neutrals for the win.

Salsa dancing. Adam and I finally tried out our moves at a dance this month. We are, well, not Latin. But it was fun!

Black Coffee & Waffle Bar. Leslie Knope would approve of this place. They understand the necessity of adequate whipped cream.

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Doing

Participating in a panel of new teachers at my alma mater. We spoke to student teachers about the hiring process. It was fun to hear the perspectives of a few teaching friends, and it also reminded me just how much I’ve learned in the short time that I’ve been teaching.

Dress shopping. I am lucky enough to get to be a bridesmaid in a college friend’s wedding this fall. We picked out our dresses this month, and I am now even more excited for their wedding!

Taking a family trip to Chicago. My sister had her final grad school interview over Easter weekend, so my family drove to the windy city to spend the weekend with her. We packed our little vacation full, walking over 20,000 steps each day. Highlights include the Tilt window at the John Hancock observatory, the beluga whales at the Shedd Aquarium, the mummy exhibit at the Field Museum, and the limo ride we took when we were too tired to walk back to our hotel. (Yes, you read that right. We rode in a limo. We were not at all chill about it.) We also fully recommend the CityPass, a booklet of tickets for the most popular museums and experiences in the city. It made everything, especially the long lines at the Willis Tower observatory, faster. We finished off the weekend by celebrating Easter at Moody Church, which had a full orchestra and choir for the occasion.

 

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Note the four blond adults staring enraptured at an animal spouting water…that’s us.

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We also got matching tattoos. They were temporary.

Attending a concert at Orchestra Hall with friends. One of our favorite double date couples invited us out on the town for a birthday celebration, and we loved eating dinner and listening to enchanting music with them. Ravel’s Ma Mere l’Oye, or Mother Goose, collection is dreamy.

Finally, as always, teaching. We finished off our final session of parent-teacher conferences and are on the last leg of our year. I have no idea how we will fit in everything left to cover. None. We are currently finishing up a public speaking unit. I’ve learned even more about my students by listening to them share about items that represent them – it’s a good time of year for a reminder that they are complex human beings. My Advanced kids are also practicing mock debates. So far, the most memorable thing they’ve learned has come from a debate we watched to study technique. One of the debators said that television can be a positive influence because Cookie Monster teaches us that “cookies are a sometimes snack, not an always snack.” I have since heard this line once a day. I am clearly an influential teacher.

 

What have you been into this month?

 

 

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What I’m Into: December 2016

December. proper noun. The month of all the celebrations and all the events and all the cheer and all the fun.

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It’s time for the last What I’m Into of…last year! I love looking back over these posts at the end of a year, reviewing all that I’ve read and watched and loved. Here’s one more month’s worth of recommendations and (many, many) events.

Reading

A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens. I had never read this full book before, so I was excited to teach this book to my Advanced students (and read a play version to my other classes). There are some beautiful, quotable lines in this familiar story, I loved catching small symbolic moments, and I have gained a new appreciation for the whole tale. It’s one of my favorite novels I’ve taught (in my very limited experience so far).

We are All Made of Molecules – Susin Nielsen. This book follows two perspectives: Stuart, a super smart and awkward boy whose mother has recently died, and Ashley, a girl whose parents just divorced because her dad is gay. Their parents move in together, and the two have to learn to navigate blending a family while they’re also walking through middle school. This book took a more adult twist than I was expecting, but it brought up interesting questions about true friendship, what it means to be mature, and homophobia.

The Memory of Things – Gae Polisner. This book tells the story of a teenage boy in the moments after 9/11 and a girl with amnesia who he finds on the street. The window into New Yorkers’ personal experiences with the crisis was fascinating. I have complicated feelings about the relationship that develops between the two characters – the premise seems too easy, almost like cheating the system. Trauma unites two people who know almost nothing about each other! But I devoured it anyway, and I would still recommend this one.

The Hound of the Baskervilles – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Did you know that you can download audiobooks from the library? And they will appear right on your phone? And you can maximize the number of books you read in a month? Though it took me a while to learn to follow a detailed storyline like this, I loved listening to Sherlock and Watson on my commute and while washing dishes.

Watch for the Light. This collection of essays on Advent was beautiful. There is a different essay for every day of Advent and Christmas, and I didn’t read them all…so I’m already excited for next Christmas so I can pick it up again.

Kristin Lavransdatter – Sigrid Undset. I finished Book 2 of 3 in this series? extra-long book? this month, and I’m still not done with this tome. I continue to be surprised by the drama, beauty, and deeper significance of the story, so it makes pressing on worth it.

Currently reading: Reading in the Wild – Donalyn Miller, Flygirl – Sherri L. Smith, Beautiful Ruins – Jess Walter (audiobook).

Listening

All the Christmas music. My new favorite discovery: A Very Neighborly Christmas by Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors.

I’m just beginning to check out Becoming Wise, the latest podcast from Krista Tippet. They’re sound bites of inspiration, and the short interview with Brene Brown reminded me, in the best way possible, how much my conception of myself is messed up.

Watching

Passengers. I was pretty unsure about the premise of this movie. A ship is destined for another planet, and all of the passengers are put into suspended animation for 90 years. Two of them wake up early. It’s a fascinating (and nightmarish) idea, and I’ve been thinking about the choices the characters made since I watched it. Pros: Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence are a sort of dream team, and the movie was gorgeously made. Cons: much moral and situational suspense (for me, anyway), and though I liked the ending, I don’t know if it was realistic.

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, for the first time ever. (I know. What kind of Christian college student am I?) There was a lot of walking and a lot of fighting. Big surprise. But it did exceed my expectations.

White Christmas. It happens every year and is always so delightful.

Loving

Eddie Bauer Oversized Down Throws. My siblings and I got these for Christmas, and they are the best. They’re lightweight and almost too warm (except there’s no such thing in MN). I’ve been snuggling with it since the 24th.

Lindy hop lessons. The boyfriend and I had a coupon for a free private dance lesson, and we’ve taken a few group lessons as well. It’s been great fun.

Being home for the holidays, and having the boyfriend there too. Even when it results in photographic gems like these.

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Autostart. It should be mandatory in Minnesota winters.

Doing

Co-hosting a Christmas party with the boyfriend. We rang in the season with friends and good food – the best way!

Christmas at Northwestern. My sister performed in her last band event ever (!!!), and it was fun to attend, see my family, and ring in the season at the same time.

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Photo from my mom’s Instagram

Handel’s Messiah. I’d never been to Orchestra Hall or listened to the full program before. I can’t say that operatic singing is entirely my thing, but the choral selections were gorgeous, and the lyrics of the entire thing merit more reflection.

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Seeing White Christmas. The boyfriend’s family had a mini reunion at White Christmas at the Ordway. The production was a delight, and it started snowing (in the performance hall! And in real life!) during the show.

Seeing college friends. We all met up at the Mall of America for Christmas shopping, and it felt just like the old days.

Brita’s graduation. My little sister graduated from college! She’s applying to grad school and becoming a real adult and it’s very strange.

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Isn’t she cute? And grown-up? And hire-able?

Martin Luther exhibit at MIA. The MIA is currently hosting a collection of artifacts from all over Germany about Martin Luther’s life and time. There are some beautiful and fascinating artifacts in the collection – go see it before it leaves Minneapolis!

Surviving the Christmas crazy at school. Mostly. Highlights: chaperoning a trip to the Guthrie to watch A Christmas Carol with students. Some of them got to meet the boyfriend, who volunteered to come with, and their reactions were hilarious. Having four of my boys team up to buy me a book and chocolate for Christmas. Lows: After making it through days of sugar-hyped kids, my immune system decided it had had enough and I caught influenza three days before break. Thankfully I only had to spend one day on the couch before heading back.

Christmas Eve Eve with the boyfriend’s family – his family moved their celebration up an evening to accommodate bad weather, so we filled up on appetizers and seafood. They are very generous with their time with their son, and I am very grateful!

Christmas with my family and the following relaxing holiday – I love Christmas break so much. Other than having a Christmas blizzard, nothing remarkable happened, but the break was full of lovely, ordinary good times. We spent time with grandparents, watched movies, played lots of Settlers of Catan, lounged on the couch for many hours, stayed in pajamas until late in the afternoon, and watched my brother’s basketball game. I avoided thinking about school, read less than I had planned, and ate a lot of cookies.

New Year’s Eve concert. We rang in the New Year with a concert of Broadway hits and Rachmaninoff, then danced to swing music to ring in 2017. It was a celebratory start to the new year!

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Whew. It was a full month – and a full year! Here’s to good books, fun with loved ones, learning, growing, and a bright start to 2017.

As always, I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer. Check out other What I’m Into posts here!

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February (2016)

February. proper noun. Recognized as Black History Month, the month of Valentines Day and Groundhogs Day; also the time in which we all pine for spring.

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I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer to share what I’ve been into this month. Honestly, I’m not sad to say goodbye to February. Winter starts to suck at this point every year, and the post-college angst hit hard in this month’s transitions. But there were still some lovely moments.

Reading

All Fall Down – Ally Carter. This is a fast-paced YA mystery about a girl who saw her mother’s murder and the rest of the population of Embassy Row who thinks she’s crazy. This book will keep you hooked. However, Grace’s narration was a little whiny for me and the cliffhanger ending where everything has changed! But you must read the next book to find out how! is not my favorite literary technique.

Ishmael – E.D.E.N. Southworth. I’m following Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2016 Reading Challenge, and this is my pick for the category where someone close to me (in my case, the boyfriend) chose a book for me to read. I can see why he picked this one – it’s one of the books that most inspired him during his high school years, and I enjoyed reading it to see the kind of person he idealizes. The main character is almost too perfect for me, though.

Anne of Green Gables – L.M. Montgomery. The sweetest book in all the land. I reread this one for the Reading Challenge as a book I’ve read before. Now I just want to move to Avonlea and become Anne Shirley. That’s all.

I Remember Nothing – Nora Ephron. I expected this book of essays to be just as delightful as Ephron’s other works, like You’ve Got Mail. Unfortunately, I think her writing needs narration (or Tom Hanks?) to come alive for me. It was fine.

Mere Christianity – C.S. Lewis. Lewis is the master of metaphor, and he makes theology clear and beautiful. This book is classic for a reason.

Currently Reading: Teach Like Your Hair’s On Fire – Rafe Esquith; The Cuckoo’s Calling – Robert Galbraith.

 

Listening

I have some shame in admitting that I’m having a Justin Bieber moment right now. Especially with this song.

 

 

Charlie Puth – One Call Away. Related: I listen to the same music as my seventh graders. I should maybe be concerned by this.

Watching

Sense and Sensibility, as pregaming for a theater production. As well as the BBC Pride and Prejudice. (Again, I know. But with my mom this time.)

This YouTube series. Sensing a theme yet?

Gilmore Girls, because apparently Jane Austen alone doesn’t offer enough relational drama.

 

Loving

My parents and I laughed until we cried over this. (Side note: I’m possibly the only twenty-something on the planet who knows what the Lawrence Welk Show is.)

 

This is such a good reminder during February (because Valentine’s Day does such wacky things to our romantic expectations).

The new GIF feature in Facebook messages. Group messages with my siblings will never be the same.

This is fantastic. So is that guy’s smile. He just won’t quit.

 

 Doing

  • Becoming a real teacher! This month, I interviewed for, got, prepared for, and started my first teaching job. I’m teaching ELA at the middle school where I student taught, and I’m still getting a thrill from being able to tell cashiers at Target that I am an actual teacher. The middle of the year start date makes for some unique challenges: for example, we skipped right over any honeymoon period and are hard at work establishing new routines and expectations. But I love getting to know the kids and having my own classroom.
  • Before the job: 2 weeks at home. Highlights include: time with family, crafting during a blizzard, watching a lot of basketball, and subbing for a few days in a preschool class. I was more terrified to enter a class of 3-year-olds than of middle schoolers, honestly.
  • A weekend with the boyfriend. The overlapping of President’s Day (3-day weekend, yo) with Valentine’s Day was a happy coincidence. We fit in dancing, a play, ice skating, visits with both of our families, and lots of long talks.
  • Catching up with friends. I got to enjoy some long talks and a production of Sense and Sensibility by my alma mater’s theater department with dear company. So fun.

 

What have you been into this month?

October (2015)

October. Proper noun. The month of changing leaves, Halloween, pumpkin everything, and glorious Education Minnesota break.

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I still have something saving me from being a basic white girl: I’m not obsessed with fall. But I have to admit, this October has had some sweet moments. I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer and sharing some of the things I loved this month. Head over to her page if you want more great recommendations!

Reading

Tender is the Night – F. Scott Fitzgerald. I thought I’d give F. Scott another try after enjoying The Great Gatsby earlier this year. Apparently he thought this tale of love gained and lost and mental illness was his greatest work. It begins by focusing on a young naïve girl’s infatuation with an older married man named Dick Diver and transitions to exploring Dick’s complicated relationship with his wife, who is mentally ill. This novel was admittedly challenging to read at points. It was sometimes difficult for me to see how each individual episode fit into the larger plot, and Fitzgerald doesn’t exactly have a sunny outlook on life. Doesn’t that make it sound stellar? Regardless, I’m still glad I read it. There were some sparkling lines, and I have a clearer idea of Fitzgerald’s struggle with his own wife and some of the reasons he might have found the world so meaningless after reading this.

The Real Thing – Ellen McCarthy. A wedding reporter tells the lessons she’s learned from real couples. A cute idea. I admittedly lost interest and didn’t finish, since none of the advice was earth-shattering.

Flyover Lives – Diane Johnson. Another interesting premise. A woman becomes interested by her own family history after a French woman accuses Americans of “indifference to history,” which is supposedly why we “seem so naïve and always invade the wrong countries.” This book explores what she uncovered. I picked it up because I came from a similar background of small-town Midwestern people, but I realized that I would rather read about my own ancestors than anecdotes from someone else’s relatives. It also showed me that I am not good at reading nonfiction; this book reads like a history text, which I probably should have expected, but I missed the spark that comes from an author weaving a complete, complex narrative. Another one I didn’t finish. What a weird reading month for me.

Currently reading: The Jazz Palace – Marry Morris; Out of Sorts – Sarah Bessey

 

Listening

Ellie Holcomb radio on Pandora. Every morning. I’m getting lots of acoustic-y hymns right now and it makes 7:00 am better.

Rachel Platton – Stand by You

Shawn Mendes – Stitches. Especially this version.

Adele – Hello. Like everyone else in the world.

Elizabeth Gilbert’s Magic Lessons podcast. I listen to this while running, and it’s a fascinating look at how ordinary folks foster and make space for creativity. The episode with Brene Brown rocked, like everything Brene Brown does.

 

Watching

You’ve Got Mail. Hairspray. Some Gilmore Girls (Rory’s going to college!). A few of the early episodes of Parks and Rec. Nothing new, but so much excellence.

 

Loving

I have never wanted a pair of socks as much as these.

Ahem. Who’s crying over this video? Multiple times? Not me. The best commercial I’ve seen.

This collection of photos, which shows the sad truth of our tech-obsessed world.

Running through fall leaves in shorts. The temps didn’t drop excessively until the last week in October. This is a Minnesota miracle.

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As I transition into the career world and contemplate having a family some day, this video is food for thought.

Clinique Black Honey Almost Lipstick. After hearing about its cult following, my mom and I checked it out. The rest of the world is on to something. If all 3 women in my family can pull off this shade, you can too.

This post is clanging around in my brain and reminding me that hard ≠ bad.

Cardigans. Especially this one, which is long and flowy and feels like pajamas.

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These photos will change the way you see world leaders for the better. It might even give my younger brother, who’s growing out his hair, some new goals.

 

Doing

THE edTPA IS DONE. THE BEAST IS SLAIN. NOTHING ELSE MATTERS.

Okay, fine. Other things kind of matter. I’m still rolling right along with the teaching part of student teaching. I have two weeks left in elementary ESL, and then I’ll switch to middle school Language Arts. Favorite stories from this month:

  • When discussing character’s emotions, I asked my first graders to draw what their faces look like when they are excited and tell why they were excited. One of my fiesty ones: “Because a boy said he would be my boyfriend, and I am taller than him.”
  • When writing about his favorite things, a little dude asked if he could write about his favorite teacher. Then he wrote “My favorite teacher is Miss C.” Cue the heart eyes. I’m excited to move up to older kids…but I have a feeling they might not be quite so heart-warming.
  • Less heartwarming is fielding questions like “What are those little red bumps on your face?” and “Why is it all red around your mouth?” They’re zits, sweet children. And they mystify me, too.

UNW Homecoming. My family came up to watch the football game and wander through St. Paul and go to my sister’s band concert. They are fun. They also buy me groceries. Both are highly appreciated.

Northwestern will be contacting us about a promotional campaign soon, I'm sure.

Northwestern will be contacting us about a promotional campaign soon, I’m sure.

We win Specialest Family. Or Most Incapable of Taking Normal Pictures. That too.

We win Most Incapable of Taking Normal Pictures.

EM break. God bless the state of Minnesota for this one. I drove home for a much-needed break from planning and edTPA. I slept in and chilled with my family and read and connected with kind people over lunch and fell off my chair because I was laughing so hard at my youngest brother. He loves when I come home and ask him about his personal life.

Random fun stuff on weekends. Hitting up the farmer’s market. Getting donuts at Glam Doll. Checking out Hunt & Gather, a funky antique store. Catching up with the RAs from my staff last year. Processing life over Eddington’s breadsticks with a sweet friend. The Twin Cities offer such goodness.

Flowers from the Farmer's Market? $6. Happiness potential? Unlimited.

Flowers from the Farmer’s Market? $6. Happiness potential? Unlimited.

Halloween. I work at a school where Halloween is a big stinking deal. Though my cooperating teacher doesn’t participate, I decided to be the fun student teacher and actually dress up. Lessons learned: accompanying kindergarteners to parades is the cutest, and you can throw together a decent costume with some colored duct tape and a trip to the Goodwill.

IMG_0619I’m celebrating the actual day of Halloween by going to Phantom of the Opera with my little bro. I do not plan to wear a costume. I don’t feel bad about it.

Anticipating

  • A TRIP TO DC, OH MY GOSH OH MY GOSH. I haven’t seen the boyfriend since Labor Day weekend. I’m not freaking out. Not at all.
  • Starting a new student teaching placement and (hopefully) not having to talk about the alphabet any more.
  • Starting a small group with some friends.

 

What have you been into this month?

 

September

September. Proper noun. The month that includes the start of school, the official beginning of autumn, and changing leaves, and renewed passion for newly sharpened pencils.

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September has been a month of new beginnings and unexpected challenges. But there have also been small, sweet things. I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer to share some of those things I’ve been loving.

Reading

For the Love – Jen Hatmaker. I think I need to move to Texas so Jen Hatmaker can be my neighbor. She writes about real things with candor and humor and spice. If nothing else, read it for the chapter on leggings and other fashion fails. No one else is ever going to refer to a muffin top as a “tragic fat spill” and get away with it.

Pastrix – Nadia Bolz-Weber. Nadia Bolz-Weber and I have opposite lives. And personalities. She’s a fiery Lutheran pastor who got saved from a wrecked-up alcoholic past, leads a church meant for misfits, and uses salty language. None of that criteria fits me, I don’t agree with parts of her theology, and I would probably feel uncomfortable in her church. And that’s why I need to read books like this. I need to remember that my spiritual battles are not the only ones people are fighting. I need to remember that God loves even the most unlikely of us, and he is in the business of making all of his people new.

For Women Only – Shaunti Feldman. To be honest, I only got a few chapters into this thrift store find. This little book is about how mens’ minds work, based on surveys and interviews with real guys. The chapter on what “Men need to be respected” actually means was helpful, but I didn’t find the other bits that I read particularly mind-blowing. I’ll probably pop in and out of this book, but I don’t plan on reading it all the way through.

Watching

Inside Out. I haven’t cried so much at a movie in a long time. That might not be normal for a grown-ish woman watching a Pixar flick. But tell me what you’re going to do when you’ve been bummed about your long-distance boyfriend being gone and he’s finally in the state and you get to watch this movie with him and the point of the movie is that you have to feel sadness before you can feel real joy. You cry, that’s what you do. Despite the waterworks, I liked this a lot.

The Intern. What a funny, sweet movie. I’ve liked Anne Hathaway since her Princess Diaries days, so I thought my friend was brilliant for suggesting we catch a last-minute matinee. It’s about a start-up that hires senior citizen interns, and everyone – from the old people in the theater who clap when the show is over, to my cooperating teacher at school, to my college friends and me – could find something to enjoy about it. The ending didn’t sell me completely, but the rest of the movie made me adore Ben and how he made everyone around him better.

Gilmore Girls. I watched the most dramatic episode yet, involving a party and a fight and a revealed secret and a high school dropout and a drunken phone call and a turned-down romantic plea and a love triangle and an incommunicative boyfriend…and I realized that sometimes I watch TV shows so I care about drama that’s not my own. And I’m okay with that.

Listening

If you’re having a bad day, play this song on repeat.

The Ellie Holcomb Pandora station. Continually solid, especially on tired mornings.

Loving

Oh for adorable. It doesn’t get much cuter than this 101 Dalmations inspired engagement shoot.

I appreciate Addie Zierman so much. She takes on happy Christian romances in this post in a real, not mean, way.

Birkenstocks. Still. Again. I’m on a desperate hunt for comfortable and cute teacher shoes, and until I work up the nerve to spend money on some, I’ve been living in these.

I need to scrounge up my pennies and buy a copy of Amber Haines’ new book already. In the meantime, loving this post.

A new (free!) bookshelf, which makes our apartment look less like a dorm and which gives me a place to display my favorite quotes.

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Brené Brown should be running for president. She is brilliant and would make our world an infinitely better place, as she proves it in this article.

My people. September has shown me that I have amazing friends and family who will send me long emails when I need advice, hash out the details of my life in the aisles of the Goodwill and tables at Chipotle, text me when I’m feeling down, and offer prayers and support. I’m so thankful for you all.

Doing

The grand adventure of student teaching. I’ve been spending my days with ESL kiddos in grades K-5, and I’ve learned a lot thus far. For example:

  • I did not inherit my mom’s natural skills with kindergarteners – why is teaching something as simple as the alphabet so hard? At least they’re adorable. If you would ever like to be told “Every day you are so beautiful,” and “Miss C, you are just so cute!” hang out with the 5-year-olds.
  • If you do experiments that involve messes, ice cubes, and blowdryers, 2nd graders will want to touch everything and actually be excited about solids and liquids.
  • The days go by much, much faster when you are actually teaching than when you are sitting and observing.
  • State-mandated assessments for teacher licensing stink. And are a lot of work. But they don’t physically kill you.
  • Teaching 6 of our 11 groups feels like a lot…and next week I’m taking on all of them. Here we go…

    First day of school. I've got a teacher badge and everything.

    First day of school. I’ve got a teacher badge and everything.

Last lake weekends. Labor Day brought the annual trek to Rollag (a steam thresher’s reunion – think really old tractors and steam engines) with my grandpa, dad, and siblings, flea market-ing, and a few final minutes in the lake. My sister invited a huge posse of her friends to the lake the following weekend, so I tagged along and got to lesson plan from a hammock and witness one of the most fantastic sunsets of the summer. I’m in denial that those days are over for the year.

Horses at Rollag. Best part.

Horses at Rollag. Best part.

So excited that I can still float on the lake in September

So excited that I can still float on the lake in September

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Amazing photo by my dad

Attending a vintage country wedding. One of my dad’s cousins got married, and even though I had never met the bride or groom, I dusted off the cowboy boots and discovered wedding dances are way more fun when you don’t know anyone and don’t care if your white-girl sober dancing makes you look like a fool.

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The fam, all spiffed up

Going out with our boots on

Going out with our boots on

Tagging along to a Twins game with my little brother. He needed a ride. My calendar was open. It was fun. Thanks, Caleb, for knowing amazingly generous people who give you great seats.

And they won!

And they won!

Anticipating

In October, I’m looking forward to…

  • Reading more
  • Getting a four-day weekend over EM break (yay, Minnesota!)
  • Finishing the edTPA
  • Going for runs on the beautiful trail I just discovered near my apartment

What have you been into this month?

August (2015)

August. proper noun. The dog days, the last hurrah, the fond farewell to summer.

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I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer, as always, to share what I loved this month. Head to the link-up if you’re looking for other good recommendations or are generally nosy about how Internet people spend their time.

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Reading

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day – Winifred Watson. Watch the movie, then pretend you’re spending a few hours with Amy Adams while you read about the incredulous, down-and-out Miss Pettigrew and her day with Miss LaFosse, the stunning socialite juggling three men. One of my favorite lines: “Miss LaFosse was sitting quietly with the radiant, shining look on her face of the woman who has just been thoroughly and satisfactorily kissed.”

The Rosie Project – Graeme Simsion. This book was all over people’s lists of best summer beach reads, with good reason. The story of the geneticist who creates a questionnaire to screen potential wife candidates was cute and quirky. Though I’m curious if I should be worried that I can empathize with a man who claims that, in regards to being on time, “poor synchronization is a huge waste of time,” and refers to minute-wasting chatter as “the inevitable small talk”?

Bread and Wine – Shauna Niequist. Shauna’s writing feels down-to-earth and comforting in this book, exactly like the kind of food she serves. Food is an interesting lens through which to write a memoir, and not quite all of the chapters worked for me. If I liked vinegar more and knew more about cooking, maybe I would have been head-over-heels for this book. As it was, I simply enjoyed it.

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress – Rhoda Janzen. This wins the award for Funniest Book I’ve Read this Summer. Also Best Book to Read Aloud To Anyone Who Will Listen. Some reasons why: She describes a road trip in which one of her brothers had to eat a raisin that had been up her other brother’s nose. Her mom sewed patterned fabric strips on to the bottoms of her pant legs to make them last through growth spurts. Her father would carefully supervise their TV time and, whenever actors hinted towards a kiss, would mutter “Smut,” while switching the channel. These episodes are hysterical in Rhoda’s voice, which is sassy without being cynical, and which pokes fun at her childhood without being mean.

The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald. True confessions: I tried reading The Great Gatsby once in high school. I didn’t like it. This time, after watching the movie, talking about it with my boyfriend, and not expecting to relate to any of the characters, I could read for the rich writing and enjoy it much more. Fitzgerald made a classic out of this by the sheer force and luxuriousness of his descriptions. Maybe second time’s the charm on this one.

Listening

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Car rides alone call for well-loved audiobooks.

The Madeleine Peyroux Pandora station. It’s moody and swingy and just right for quiet evenings.

Locked Away – R.City ft. Adam Levine. Catchy.

Watching

Father of the Bride. The perfect movie to watch with one of your dearest friends on the night before her wedding weekend.

I’m back on the Gilmore Girls train. Though I’m not sure I can take the Dean/Jess drama.

Loving

Because Kid President is da bomb.

This is classic for the start of school.

If you don’t follow Love, Teach, you should. This list shows exactly why. Though I would add these socks to the list, too.

I, and all other English teachers, need this shirt.

If you’re in a relationship or ever want to be in one, this is such good advice. Hold me to this, people.

The smartphone life. I have joined the 21st century AND I have a baby Instagram account. (Find me here at @agirldefined!) I must admit, my old clunker of a phone and I had a good run. We shared four years together, and I might even miss the dinosaur a little.

Polka dot pants. The Pixie pant from Old Navy is working for me. Find ‘em on sale for extra happiness.

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Doing

Bachelorette party. We celebrated the bride the weekend before her wedding with a trip to Stillwater, the cutest riverside town. We kept it classy. Except that I bought my dress at a thrift store. Though this is the story with all of my fancy clothes lately.

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The bride and me. I like this girl.

Wedding celebration! I got to be a bridesmaid when one of my dearest friends married her honey. They were radiant with happiness, and it was fun to get glammed up and celebrate their love. Best wishes, Rachel and Joel!

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From freshman orientation group to wedding days…

Finishing my summer job with the kiddos. I had a sweet summer with them, which culminated in a trip to Wild Mountain, an amusement park with an alpine slide, waterslides, a lazy river, and Go-Karts in 90º heat. I went all in. I even scratched up my back going down the Black Hole, the scariest waterslide of them all. The kids might have been impressed.

Heading home, for a long-awaited break. I got my first-ever massage and a brand-new pair of happy shoulders. I also got my hair chopped off, crafted with my mom, worked out with my brothers, and avoided setting my alarm. And my dad was patient enough to take pictures with me. (Pssst. Check the About page for more.)

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All of my family was in the same room for the first time this summer when we dropped my brother off at college. There are now 3 of us enrolled at the same school. Significant tuition discounts should be given, I think.

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The gang’s all here

Hey ya, hey ya, my boyfriend’s back. And we’ve done all the things in the few days he’s been here. Dressed-up dinner, swing dancing, double date with friends, the Minnesota State Fair, hiking at Taylor’s Falls, and plenty of real life and conversation in between. He’s swell.

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Student teaching. And so it begins. The teachers are in workshops now, so I’m helping with admin work and trying not to get in the way. When the kids come in a few days (and I can actually start making progress on the edTPA), the real fun begins…

What were you into this month?

July (2015)

July. The month of the Fourth of July and my birthday. Also the month of the year that seems to fly by the fastest.

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Linking up with Leigh Kramer to share the things I’m loving this month. Head to the link-up to get some great recommendations.

Reading

A lot.

Just One Day – Gayle Forman. In high school, I remember spending an entire summer afternoon reading If I Stay, another Gayle Forman book about a girl in a car accident, and crying for nearly the entire book. Going into this book, I expected similar emotional manipulation. This story is about Allyson, a rule-follower who spontaneously decides to spend just one day in Paris with a mysterious street actor, and spends the entire next year getting over the experience. Beware: much boy angst and wanderlust for Paris ensue. This book wasn’t particularly deep, but when I read the ending, I might have actually stared, open-mouthed, at the book and said aloud, “That’s the end?,” so I guess I got my emotional manipulation after all. Overall, an enjoyable read that made me remember why, as a teenager, I could read for afternoons without stopping.

Dear Committee Members – Julie Schumacher. This book, by a writing prof at the U of M, was a clever story told in the letters of recommendation and business correspondence of a fictional writing professor of a small university. After working in a professor’s office and overhearing many conversations about inter-department politics and budget cuts, I found this book additionally amusing. The writing is smart, funny, accessible, and though sometimes it’s hard to find an overarching plot in the letters, the end is surprising and makes the entire book work.

Rules of Civility – Amor Towles. This is possibly my favorite kind of book: an exploration of different, fascinating characters where nothing particularly explosive happens but little events keep uncovering new revelations. Rules of Civility follows Katey Kontent, a young New Yorker, and the vivid people who shape her life in 1938. The story felt like a book version of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, with a sharper, less flaky narrator. The writing was clear, with clever descriptions and simple flair. Simply put, I loved this book.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks – E. Lockhart. This YA book, about a girl who hates being underestimated and tries to infiltrate a boys-only secret society, is fun. It has a few traces of interesting social critique, but it wasn’t a stand-out for me.

Found – Micha Boyett. I stumbled across this in the library, and what a serendipitous gift as I lived out a quiet, seemingly unremarkable month. This was a gentle, grace-filled book about prayer and motherhood. I’m not a book underliner (especially in library books), but this book made me want to be one with lines like, “Stability is not something you do,” and “The antidote to exhaustion is not necessarily rest. The antidote to exhaustion is wholeheartedness.” Loved it.

Real Sex: The Naked Truth about Chastity – Lauren F. Winner. Why do I feel the need to clarify that one can read books about sex without having sex? Now that we’re clear, this book. It focused on chastity, or basically doing sex within God’s intentions. It did more than toss out a few verses from Paul; Winner went deeper into the theology of the body and sex, busted common myths, and shared her own story. Though I didn’t agree with all of her ideas, and I’m curious how her thoughts have changed now that she’s no longer a newlywed, I’d recommend this for the fascinating conversations it sparked and ways it made me question my unconsciously-held ideas.

Persuasion – Jane Austen. My dad claims that all Jane Austen novels/movies are exactly the same: sisters lacking money search for men. There is minor disaster and someone has a scandalous history. It ends happily. That isn’t exactly true… though this one did have all the major ingredients. It also had a little more rawness. Austen nails the descriptions of pining after lost love, perhaps because this novel supposedly based on her own lost romance.

 

Watching

Hector and the Search for Happiness. What a delightful movie. Hector, a bored psychiatrist, goes on an international journey to learn more about happiness (and find it for himself). He learns that happiness is such things as “being loved for who you are” and “avoiding unhappiness is not the road to happiness.” It’s tender and funny and insightful. (It’s also rated R for a few f-bombs and some implied sex, but I didn’t think it was too offensive. My mom recommended it to me, if that tells you anything.)

The Minion Movie. I have great friends who take me to children’s movies on my birthday. It was exactly the kind of silly you expect from the Minions. Nothing deep, but all kinds of cute. I still want a minion of my own.

Sleepless in Seattle. I got to introduce an uninitiated friend to this movie, which I feel is one of my callings in life.

The old Footloose. I prefer the new one, honestly. Is that heresy?

A little FRIENDS, and when I needed a something new, a little of The Vicar of Dibley. Alice, particularly her story about I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, makes the entire show worth watching.

 

Listening

Dan + Shay – Nothin’ Like You

Tried-and-true favorites like NEEDTOBREATHE and Ellie Holcomb. I need something new – any thoughts? What are you loving this summer?

 

Loving

Still jamming on salads in a jar, especially one with ranch, salsa, rice, chicken, corn, guacamole, cheese, lettuce, and crushed torilla chips. The perfect summer lunch (and a cheaper Chipotle substitute).

Mail. Few things make me feel more loved than getting cards.

This Instagram account, a guy who records his adventures as a third wheel, is hysterical.

Free outdoor yoga classes. A park down the road from my apartment offers free yoga a few times a week, and I’ve been trying to hit them when my schedule is open. Though one time I stumbled into a PiYo (pilates and yoga fusion) session and thought I might die, the other sessions have ended with me feeling incredibly relaxed.

These realistic-looking images of Disney princes. Yessss.

Skype, the savior of long-distance relationships (and it’s free!)

Freshly updated dressers. I spent one evening spiffing up a beat-up dresser. All it took was a sample size can of paint of interior paint – just enough to cover the drawers – and some new drawer pulls from World Market.

I suck at decorating pictures. But for a beat-up dresser, I like this.

I suck at decorating pictures. But for a dresser dug out of our basement, I like this.

Doing

Working with kids at the park. Pros: my job includes tasks like going off a massive zipline into a pool, playing laser tag, and giving piggyback rides in the pool. Cons: my job includes tasks like dealing with kids with selective hearing or ones that cry because they can’t get their shoes on, and I have been asked by children when I am going to replace both my phone and my car. At least it’s different every day.

Celebrating the Fourth of July at the cabin, complete with an extra day off, naps in the hammock, sparklers off the dock, and terrifying tube rides from my brother. Don’t trust 18-year-old boys to drive their older sisters.

Looking patriotic

Looking patriotic

Visiting my longtime roommate and friend. I got to hang out at her house, cackle at ridiculous Backstreet Boys and N’Sync music videos, craft, and drive around Minnesota’s Iron Range. I miss having her around!

Hull Rust Mine overlook

Hull Rust Mine overlook. Both photos from the lovely Janae.

A truck tire from the mine. For context, I'm 6'1".

A truck tire on the vehicles that work in the mine. For context, I’m 6’1″.

Gearing up for a sweet friend’s wedding with a bridal shower. I can’t believe that someone I became friends with on my first day of college is about to get married!

Thrift store dress for the win. Photo credit: Rachel's mom, who actually remembers to take pictures at events.

Thrift store dress for the win. Photo credit: Rachel’s mom, who actually remembers to take pictures at events.

Celebrating my birthday with dear friends. I got an evening full of surprises, complete with a visit from a faraway friend, dinner at Eddington’s with lots of breadsticks (a classic for us), the Minion movie (because nothing says 22 like animated movies), and cupcakes with candles. I felt so loved.

Feeling 22!

Feeling 22!

Hanging out with my family for another lake weekend. We ate a ridiculous number of peaches and spent many hours on the water. I swam all the way across the lake and failed at getting up on one ski. It was perfection.

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Classic. Anna says “We’re going to die!” while Caleb says “Go! Faster! Gun it!”

What have you been into in July?

June (2015)

June. Proper noun. The month of beautifully long, sunlit days, Father’s Day, National Donut Day, and the start of sweet summertime.

June

Reading

Prodigal Summer – Barbara Kingsolver. I generally adore Barbara Kingsolver (The Bean Trees is one of my favorite books), and I enjoyed 2/3 of this one. The book follows 3 different characters all living in the Virginia mountains, whose stories are faintly connected. I loved the chapters about a crusty old man dealing with his hippie neighbor and a new widow learning to survive on her husband’s family farm, but the story of a park ranger’s summer fling was a little much for me. Maybe I should have been clued in by the reviews using words like “sensual.” Despite that, reading the lyrical descriptions of nature and the relationship of predator and prey felt quite apt the beginning of summer.

What Alice Forgot – Laine Mortiarty. I zipped right through this story of a woman who loses 10 years of her memory after a fall. It was quite addictive – each chapter led to new, surprising discoveries as Alice slowly learned about her unraveling marriage, her children, and how she had changed so much. The ending felt unrealistic (actually, I guess the whole novel was unrealistic), but this would be the perfect vacation read, if you enjoy being sucked head-first into a story.

Searching for Sunday – Rachel Held Evans. I don’t read Rachel Held Evans’ blog – maybe I’m behind the times, but she’s a little controversial for me. However, this book felt gentler and more self-reflective, even though she maintains her matter-of-fact journalistic style. I appreciated that this book gives me permission to ask hard questions about church and to not shy away from doubts and questions.

I started A Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling, but she got rather…adult. None of the language or sex seemed necessary, so I decided to move on.

Watching

Not much. A few episodes of House of Cards with the boy. A few episodes of Friends, which makes me feel exponentially better about life. And Legally Blonde, the only movie I can remember watching in full this month. The early 2000s are hilarious, and I had a quickly fleeting urge to go to law school.

Listening

TOO MUCH of the radio while commuting. I’m in a music drought and needing something that’s not on Top 40 stations. Unless it sounds like this.

This song and video are adorable. Dick Van Dyke is my celebrity crush.

Loving

I typically don’t take Internet dating advice seriously. But Aziz Ansari dispenses advice here that seems far more sound and logical than anything his character Tom Haverford would ever say on Parks and Rec.

Dresses that are glorified t-shirts. I have to wear the same t-shirt to work every day, so throwing on something easy, comfy, and cute makes post-work adventures more fun.

This advice encouraging women to focus on being original and honest, not likeable. I need this.

This quiz, which tells you your reading personality. I’m apparently a Mirror, meaning “The books a Mirror reader looks for provide a combination of catharsis and cautionary tale, reassuring the reader that her experiences are shared and familiar and that they are a part of her life—an important part—but a chapter, not the whole story.” Surprisingly insightful.

This necklace, which I want to buy and flash at kids every time they scream unnecessarily at work.

Salad in a jar. An actual Pinterest win. It’s heavy on the prep time, but being able to grab a Mason jar as I run out the door, then pull out a healthy, yummy lunch later is great.

Doing

I signed my first lease and moved into my first off-campus apartment. My new roommate and I are settling in, though paying for things like rent and Internet feels way too grown-up for me. (Though I waited longer to acquire a vacuum than to buy new dresser pulls, so maybe I’m not that grown-up after all.)

I ran a half-marathon and didn’t die. Here’s a recap if you missed it earlier.

I started a brand-new summer job working with a summer rec program. My days are spent driving through traffic, wearing the same flashy Parks and Recreation Board t-shirt, refereeing “That’s not fair!” arguments, walking laps the playground, doing head counts on field trips, and playing with kiddos. It’s 85% fun. I get to go down waterslides once a week when the kids go swimming, bait hook after hook for fishing contests, play coach for the basketball “team” a few girls organized, and avoid working on evenings and weekends. I’ll take it.

Teaching one swimming lesson a week to two spunky kids. It’s fun to keep doing something I enjoyed for the past few years, especially when I get paid to do it. 🙂

This month, for the first time since December, my boyfriend lived less than 10 minutes from me. We had a wonderful month together after a semester of long-distance, and we sure lived it up. Seeing the Cities from the top of the Foshay Tower. Paddleboarding on Lake Como. Eating Sebastian Joe’s ice cream. Walking around the campus island. Screaming (maybe that was just me) at Valleyfair. Sailing. Reading in the hammock. Traipsing through the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Now another term of long-distance  is beginning, and I’m trying not to freak out that one of my favorite people is back in D.C. I’m going to miss him so much.

Hanging out with my family at the lake for Father’s Day. I have an awesome dad and grandpa.

Come to think of it, I was at a lake every weekend in June. This summer is off to a swell start.

And so it begins...

And so it begins…

What have you been into this month? Head to Leigh Kramer’s link-up to join the fun and see what other bloggers have been doing in June.

May (2015)

May. proper noun. The month of real spring and finals week and graduations. Includes holidays such as May Day, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, and The Last Day of School (don’t try to tell me that’s not a real holiday).

May

It’s the end of the month, which means I’m joining Leigh Kramer’s link-up to share what I’m generally enjoying this month. Honestly, May has whipped by in a blur of hard and good things, and I’m feeling a little off-kilter about my current state of transitional living, so I’ve probably forgotten important stuff. Oh well. Here’s what I’ve got.

Reading

Paper Towns – John Greene. I have a problem with John Greene. I can’t put down his books, and I neglect all responsibilities for the few hours it takes to finish them. Admittedly, this is the best kind of problem. This book, about a boy who’s in love with a girl who disappears, is his typical style and his typical amount of excellence. The movie version is coming out sometime this summer, and it would most likely involve far fewer tears than The Fault in Our Stars.

86, Charing Cross Road – Helene Hanff. This darling book is a real-life collection of letters exchanged over years between a New York woman and a bookseller from London. She’s sassy and he’s British proper. It’s a quick, charming read.

The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien. I have strongly resisted anything by Tolkien since reading The Fellowship of the Ring and being bored out of my mind by it. This one was more fun. And significantly shorter. According to my sister, this is proof that books meant for children are far superior to books for adults.

 

Watching

Friends, up to the beginning of Season 3. Watching a show about people in their 20s who have no idea what they’re doing is both relieving (I’m not the only one screwing things up!) and stressful (so you’re telling me this never gets better?).

Pitch Perfect 2. The plot was meh, but the music was aca-awesome.

 

Listening

James Bay’s album Chaos and the Calm was on repeat for all of finals week. It’s somehow both chill and motivating, both of which are necessary for end-of-school sanity.

Country radio stations have kept me company on long drives, especially songs like “Love You Like That” by Canaan Smith.

 

Loving

The Sugar Box blog makes me ridiculously happy, and this post about fantastic fictional teachers is spot on.

Minnehaha Falls. Wear Chacos, hike the trails, and get your feet a little wet. It’s even better if you have a good guy by your side.

Picture snapped by the boyfriend

Picture snapped by the boyfriend

After packing up all of my crap, I would believe these statistics about the amount of stuff we own. I’d love to pitch half my possessions and become minimalist, but I have a heck of a long way to go.

Birkenstocks. My mom laughs because I used to make fun of her Birks, but now I get it. They’re comfy and make me feel granola.

 

Doing

All the last stuff. Last friend date for the year at the Stone Arch Bridge and Mall of America. Last ResLife hangout at our end-of-the-year retreat. Last angsty, painful time pounding out papers and taking tests (halleluiah). Last time moving out of Hartill, my dorm for the last four years. Hello, emotions.

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(staff photo borrowed from Facebook)

Watching wonderful friends graduate from college, and helping my younger brother celebrate high school graduation a week later.

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(college graduation photos borrowed from Facebook)

Celebrating my cousin’s wedding (the day after Caleb’s graduation, no less). There are 27 first cousins on that side of the family, and all of us were there. Cue all of the family photos. Highlights include flying from MN to WI thanks to a really generous uncle, staying relatively dry in spite of the rain, and getting to sit in the copilot seat on the flight home.

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Currently driving back and forth between Minneapolis, the cabin, and home a heck of a lot and keeping most of my possessions in the back of my car. Ay.

Next month: running a half-marathon, moving into an apartment, starting a new summer job, and having all kinds of summer adventures. Be prepared.

 

What were you into this month?

April (2015)

April. proper noun. The month in which the weather sometimes cooperates, and my planner explodes because life goes bonkers, and I resist the temptation to buy swimsuits.

Original photo by Eduardo Amorim via Flickr

Original photo by Eduardo Amorim via Flickr

Reading

The Secret Keeper – Kate Morton. All of Kate Morton’s books kind of blend together for me, since they’re all mysteries with episodic flashbacks, but I did enjoy this one a lot. The story of a daughter unraveling her mother’s life had a few unexpected twists, and my sister had to assure me that everything worked out okay when I got too emotionally invested.

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened – Jenny Lawson. I laughed/snorted out loud while reading this unconventional memoir. Especially at the part where her father turns a dead squirrel into a puppet. If you’re not sensitive or squeamish about stories about roadkill, you’ll enjoy it. Just be warned that she’s crass and has salty language.

Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison. We sped through this book in a week for my American Lit class, and honestly, I still don’t understand quite all of this story of creating identity and working through racial issues. It was a fascinating story, though, and the nameless narrator’s descriptions of racial tensions were surprisingly relevant. A word of caution: the story is also a little ambiguous and deep if you don’t have the brilliant Dr. Jones helping you make sense of it.

The Irrational Season – Madeline L’Engle. This woman is incredible. This book, organized by the seasons of the church calendar, is no exception. The random poems in this one aren’t my thing, and I don’t entirely agree with her theology, but she writes about spirituality like no one else.

The Princess Bride – William Goldman. I’m halfway through this, and it’s utterly delightful, like a slow-motion tour through the movie. Buttercup is far flaky than in the film, which makes her interactions with Westley even more entertaining.

Watching

Guardians of the Galaxy. Kind of. I was mostly internetting while my siblings watched, but I did realize that Chris Pratt will forever and always be Andy Dwyer in my head and that I do love him, in the same way you love a goofy little brother.

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, which was quirky and too short (only 13 episodes? Come on.)

I’ve fallen off the Gilmore Girls bandwagon and have turned to Friends instead. I’m currently at the beginning of season 2 and ticked off about how long it’s taking for Ross and Rachel to get together.

The new Cinderella (again). No shame.

Listening

TED Radio podcasts. I get bored with my workout playlist on long runs, so I listen to interviews with people like the love scientist (apparently that’s a real thing) behind Match.com and a Pixar screenwriter instead. They’re fascinating.

Most played songs:

  • If You Ever Want to Be in Love – James Bay
  • Billion – Mat Kearney
  • Honey, I’m Good – Andy Grammar
  • Geronimo – Sheppard
  • The Cinderella score. Again, no shame. It’s a gorgeous background for doing homework.

Loving

This video is inspiring for unlikely athletes like myself.

Ghiradelli brownie mix. It’s the best $2 I’ve spent recently.

Cassey Ho’s workouts kick butt – and if you’ve ever heard her talk a hundred miles a minute while you’re collapsed on your yoga mat in pain, you know that this girl is in shape. So this video is heartbreaking and calls out a very real issue on the Internet.

This post about teaching scares me. I’m so concerned that I’ll be saying the same thing a few years from now.

Mac and cheese with salsa. TRY IT. I’ve loved it ever since reading the Sammy Keys mysteries in middle school, and it’s time I shared this wisdom with the world. Bonus points if you buy Annie’s mac and cheese.

This post is great perspective with the finals week of doom approaching.

Doing

Easter break. I kind of learned how to drive a stick in my brother’s new-to-him car and took lots of attractive pictures.

What a gem. An accurate gem.

What a gem of a photo. An accurate gem.

In which we all pretend to be normal.

In which we all pretend to be normal.

A Scotty McCreery concert as a belated birthday surprise for my sister. I pulled out the cowboy boots and discovered that Scotty’s even cuter in person.

The dear boy himself

The dear boy himself. Our seats were pretty great.

Biological sister and adopted former-roomie sister, who had the whole surprise concert idea.

Biological sister and former roomie/friend/adopted sister, who initiated the whole surprise concert thing.

The boyfriend came back to MN, and though we only a day and half together, it was full of good things, like my college’s film festival and a picnic at the Sculpture Garden.

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I would say #blessed. But I won’t be that person.

Other film festival friends

My classy film festival friends

All the ResLife: My staff had a professor teach us about spiritual transformation, played Walleyball, spent a weekend hanging out (including watching Mary-Kate and Ashley), and performed a skit for ResLife Challenge together. I love these sweet girls.

Photo borrowed from Facebook.

Photo borrowed from Facebook. Because these girls are too cute not to share.

All the Education stuff: I took three (THREE) MTLEs in the span of seven (SEVEN) days. The good news? I passed all of them and started making friends with the registration lady in all of my hours jumping through the teacher licensing hoops. The bad news? I am now significantly poorer and would like to lead some kind of protest against the expensive nonsense that is standardized testing. I also participated in the Ed Portfolio Showcase, where I talked about all I’d learned in the Education program and showed off some of my lesson plans. And then I registered for student teaching.

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Woof. Bring on next fall and the EdTPA.

All the running. I’m up to eight miles at a time (and trying not to think about how running a half-marathon is 5.1 more miles than that). Getting over the seven-mile threshold has been the hardest so far. And all of the skin on my feet is peeling off. Nasty. But my knees and morale are still holding up.

All the assignments. Because it’s almost finals and the year is almost over. What.

All the grown-up stuff: I got a summer job (that required a resume and an interview)! I did not get an apartment. Yet. My roommate and I are researching and praying like crazy.

What were you into this month? Share your thoughts or see what others have been doing by checking out the What I’m Into link-up, hosted by Leigh Kramer.