What I’m Into: April Favorites

Oh you guys. Where did April GO?? I have a couple of half-finished posts that are waiting for those last few paragraphs to get written, and I’m sorry I haven’t been able to share more this month. I’ve been busy with other writing projects and performance work, and otherwise have been just trying to keep all the balls in the air.

But I’ve missed writing here – so here’s to a new month.

In other news, we had Spring Break (since when is having the kids home all the time a “break”?? Whose idea was this??), and the kids and I had a pretty great week, with lots of at-home Montessori activities and city outings and cooking projects. We all survived! But now my work for the summer is cut out for me, and I realize how much I need to plan, plan, plan for these kiddos at these ages.

 

Blog Posts & Articles

People, Borne of Poetry. By. Eugenia Leigh. What’s the value of poetry? What do poets do? Poets are story-tellers who help us understand the truth of our story, digest what is true, and both break and mend our hearts – according to my amazingly talented poet-friend Eugenia. She wrote this honest, beautiful piece for Inheritance Magazine this month and I hope everyone reads it.

The Body Broken Whole. By Jennifer Underwood. This piece is so beautiful (if a bit disarming for me to read since it’s about a woman named “Leah”), and a beautiful picture of community and restoration. 

This Stage of Life? It’s Hard. By Hayley Hengst. If you’re a mom, you probably saw this on social media (or had it sent to you by several friends, as I did). There is only one word for the piece: YES. She pretty much sums up my life. Please read it — if only so that you can remind me of this, on the hard days:

 

….this stage of life is beautiful, too. Like, really really beautiful. This is the stage of life where every single older person you ever meet tells you, “you’re going to miss this”. And you already know it’s true. It’s the stage where your kids love you more than they are EVER going to love you again, for the whole rest of your life. It’s the stage where they can fit their entire selves into your lap to snuggle…and they want to. It’s the stage where their biggest problems ARE ear infections and teething and stomach viruses, and you’re not having to deal yet with things like broken hearts or addiction or bullying. It’s the stage where you are learning to love your spouse in an entirely different….harder…..better…. way. The stage where you are learning together, being stretched together, shedding your selfishness together, and TRULY being made into “one”. It’s the stage where you get to see Christmas, Halloween and the Fourth of July through your kids eyes, and it’s so much more fun and magical than it would be just through your own eyes. It’s the stage where you get to watch your parents be grandparents…and they’re really good at it. It’s the stage of life filled with field trips, class parties, costumes, swim lessons, bubble baths, dance parties, loose teeth, and first steps. And those things are so fun. It’s the stage where you are young enough to have fun, and old enough to have obtained at least SOME wisdom. It’s SUCH a great stage.

But, man it’s hard.

The Gospel in Vogue. By Addie Zierman. Did you know that you can encounter God in the pages of Vogue Magazine? I love this.

My Marriage Didn’t End When I Became A Widow. By Lucy Kalanithi. Well, if you’re like me, you’ll cry when you read this, but it’s worth it. Lucy shows us that love does conquer death, in her own words and experiences in this piece from the New York Times. 

Ten Things to Remember When Presenting Montessori Activities. I loved this for the reminders about how to explain and teach things to our children. Basic things, like inviting a child to do something instead of ordering; showing, rather than telling; making and keeping eye contact. It’s so easy for me to forget to do some of these, most important things, because I am so focused on what it is that I’m trying to teach, and on whether he’s listening and on how I want to present the work. Simple, important reminders. I’ve been getting into bringing Montessori into our home even more this past month, which maybe I’ll write about whenever I have time to finish all those half-written posts and realize all those ideas.

The Gospel of Etsy. By Penelope Morgan. I loved this short piece about Etsy and how “everyone longs to be part of a story.”

And a couple of exceptional quotes I came across:

Learn the divine skill of making God all things to thee. He can supply thee with all, or, better still, he can be to thee instead of all. Let me urge thee, then, to make use of thy God. Make use of him in prayer. Go to him often, because he is thy God. O, wilt thou fail to use so great a privilege? Fly to him, tell him all thy wants. Use him constantly by faith at all times. If some dark providence has beclouded thee, use thy God as a “sun;” if some strong enemy has beset thee, find in Jehovah a “shield,” for he is a sun and shield to his people. If thou hast lost thy way in the mazes of life, use him as a “guide,” for he will direct thee. Whatever thou art, and wherever thou art, remember God is just what thou wantest, and just where thou wantest, and that he can do all thou wantest.

Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening, Daily Devotional (April 27, 2016, morning)

 

Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship… is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough… Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you… Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. But the insidious thing about these forms of worship is… they’re unconscious. They are default settings.

Spoken by the novelist David Foster Wallace, not long before his suicide, to the 2005 graduating class at Kenyon College.

 

Books & Poetry

I didn’t finish a single book this month. There, I said it. I’m reading Tim & Kathy Keller’s The Songs of Jesus: A Year of Daily Devotionals in the Psalms nearly every morning, so there’s that. I also have been slowly praying through Stormie Omartian’s For This Child I Prayed in the mornings, so there’s that, too.

Otherwise…yeah. Now I’m 2/3 of the way through all the books I was in the middle of last month. Maybe there will be more to report in May.

 

Kids Books

Where the Wild Things Are. Story and Pictures by Maurice Sendack. Jacob has become obsessed with this book. (It’s about time?)

Kids Can Compost. By Wen-Chia Tsai Parker. Jacob hates throwing his food away, so we’ve started collecting all our compost-able kitchen scraps and food and bringing them to our local community garden, and talking about how the banana bites and egg shells and lemon rinds will turn into dirt to help the watermelon vines and green beans grow this summer.

Richard Scarry’s Best Storybook Ever. By Richard Scarry. Jacob spends the three-year-old equivalent of “hours and hours” (so, about ten minutes) looking at this book by himself pretty much every morning.

Curious George. Always and forever, Curious George.

Sister is totally obsessed with this amazing series of board books that distills classic novels like Pride and Prejudice and Romeo and Juliet into lessons about counting and colors and opposites. She devours them and holds my finger while we count each soldier, each musician, each sister, each couple, each bridge.

Head to Toe. By Eric Carle. We love all of his books in this house, and lately this one is great because both Brother and Sister get up and act out all the movements.

 

Music

Am I supposed to listen to it? My husband’s band recorded an album in April, so mostly I’ve been listening to those tracks over and over through the door as they go through countless rounds of edits. I can’t wait to share it with you when it’s out later in the summer! It will be killer.

 

Movies & Television

Is it silly for me to have this category, when I barely barely watch TV? Probably. But that’s not to say that…

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt!!!!! I am utterly over the moon that Netflix has released another season of this, the most wonderful TV that I’ve ever come across after The West Wing. (WW, you will always have my heart.) Maybe it’s just that because I’m in New York all the stereotypes seem extra hilarious and too-real, or maybe it’s just that it’s ballet season again, which means that mostly I’m watching it with my husband after 11pm to “wind down,” and so if I don’t fall asleep I think everything is hilarious.

 

Cooking & Recipes

Hey, why not? I’m always looking for new, EASY things to try (the quicker to put together and the fewer ingredients the better) – so please share with me what you’ve been making in the comments below! Here were some of our favorites from this past month.

Asian-style Lettuce Wraps. One of our favorite things to eat in the summers, and we devoured my first batch of these this season. I combined a bunch of recipes, so don’t really have one to share, but mix and match to find one that you like, because they are SO GOOD.

Chicken Piccata. I generally act as sous chef for this favorite that my husband has perfected. Oh. So. Good.

Energy Bites. I’m usually suspicious of anything containing things such as flax and chia seeds, but a friend made these and brought them to our Moms Group last week and they were just SO GOOD. Plus my kids are obsessed with granola bars, and these are a healthier alternative (that we can make together!).

Zucchini Muffins. Since my son begs to bake something pretty much every day we are home, I had to find something new to try. We made these twice during April and they were pretty awesome. Plus, a veggie hidden in a muffin! Win. (I also do things like use all whole wheat flour and sub applesauce for the oil.)

Chicken with Green Chiles. This is an adaptation from a family recipe, so no link for this one, either. Apparently it’s nearly impossible to buy canned green chiles in this town — or, at least, in my neighborhood – who knew that Tex Mex and Dominican food really ARE different? So I bought a case of them on Amazon…which means that now we’re eating this deliciousness every other week. Good thing we love it.

*Also, I don’t use Pinterest except as a place to keep track of my favorite recipes and accompanying notes on how I altered each one (this is why I don’t make a great baker…I can’t ever follow a recipe exactly!) and my ideas for Montessori/homeschooling activities, but if you are interested in either, I suggest you find me there. That way you’ll get all my notes about alterations/additions/substitutions/baking times/etc for each recipe. 🙂

 

{Linking up again with Leigh Kramer and her April edition of What I’m Into.}

 

 

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