Welcome to Round 5 of this new little series I started of all the things in life I’m loving and learning lately! Here you’ll find everything from the books I’m currently reading to the products I’m loving to the shows I’m watching (which, spoiler alert–won’t be very many or very exciting, since I’m not a huge t.v. or movie watcher). If you want to check out past editions of the series, click here. Note: There are some affiliate links in this post, which means I get a small percentage of any sale made at no extra cost to you. Thanks for supporting To Love and To Learn!
- After a neighbor heard about how fussy Mathias has been lately, she loaned us this Graco swing (since we only had a bouncer, not a swing), and it’s basically been responsible for me having any shred of sanity left anymore. Raven never liked being in a swing so we’d gotten rid of the old one I’d inherited from my sisters, but with how great this one has been, we might just have to invest in our own for future babies!
- Since I’ve been reading The Read-Aloud Family (more on that in a minute), I’ve been even more motivated to be mindful of the daily read-aloud time we were doing anyway. One thing I’ve been super excited to do is to start reading aloud children’s classic chapter books (rather than just board books or picture books), and I think Raven is *just* old enough to begin now. Since we still would probably want a book with lots of pictures, I’ve been looking up some of my old childhood favorites to see what’s available in illustrated editions. In addition to the first few Harry Potters (which I LOVE the illustrated versions of, but which she’s still too young to start on), I’ve been eyeing this illustrated version of The Secret Garden (especially love how it has interactive elements!) and this one of the first Boxcar Children book. I’ve also put the Little House on the Prairie audiobooks into my Amazon cart, since we’ve been listening to Harry Potter on a loop for years in the car, and I figure I should start listening to something a little more age appropriate for Raven since she’s now starting to actually pay attention.
- I don’t usually seek out much entertainment other than books, but the other weekend, Matt and I watched our first movie in a long, LONG time–Here Comes the Boom–as part of a little date night in. I’d never even HEARD of this 2012 movie, but I liked that it was only PG, and I liked that it starred Kevin James, who I loved in the movie Hitch. The movie is about a burnt-out high school biology teacher (who used to be a college wrestler) who starts to fight in mixed martial arts competitions to raise money to save a colleague’s job. While it won’t win any awards, the movie was funny, light, and heartwarming, which was exactly what I wanted.
Books I’m Reading
Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mulally Hunt
I just finished this middle grade novel for my book club meeting last night, and I thought it provided a great starting point for a discussion on how damaging labels can be and on how each child has his/her own strengths and talents and how we need to be careful to not send the message to kids that they all should learn a specific way or be a specific way. This is a book about a 6th grade girl with dyslexia who has gone her whole academic career without being able to really read or write, which causes her to act out in other ways to detract from her learning disability. When she finally gets a teacher who takes the time to understand, her whole world changes. Overall, this was an easy book with a good message, and it would be especially helpful to read if your life has been affected by someone with dyslexia in any way. This is one I wish I would have read sooner, when I was still teaching 7th grade.
The Read-Aloud Family by Sarah Mackenzie
I have a feeling this is going to be a landmark book for me–one that I will refer to for the rest of my life (especially as I’m already planning on purchasing it once I’ve finished reading the library’s copy). As I’ve heard other reviewers say, I was a bit skeptical of what this book could teach me—I’m already firmly in the camp of people who read aloud regularly to their kids, and so I wondered if this book would be, like the phrase goes, just preaching to the choir. However, this book has given me more info on WHY it’s so important that we continue to read regularly to our kids (and not just in young childhood, either), some ways that we can go about doing that as they get older (many of which I’d never really thought about doing), as well as scads of book lists and ideas in the appendices in the back. I haven’t finished yet (I’m about halfway through), but I’m especially eager to get to the section where she discusses how to talk to your kids about the book while you’re reading it together, because I’ve heard it’s amazing. I don’t think I’m jumping the gun when I say that this will for sure be a 5-star read for me. Oh, and I’m seriously considering buying a stack of these and handing them out as baby shower gifts, maybe along with Covenant Motherhood (which was another landmark book for me, and which I talked about in this blog post). (Update: a blog reader informed me that this book is only $2.99 right now on Kindle—and trust me, the book lists at the back alone are worth that price!)
Deep Work by Cal Newport
This is my nonfiction pick for my self-assigned reading this term, and it’s one I’ve had my eye on for awhile (quite literally, as it’s been sitting on my husband’s nightstand). While my husband thought the beginning got bogged down with all the business concepts and examples, I personally have loved it so far, and I can’t wait to get into the sections where he gives concrete ways on how to implement more pockets of deep work into daily life. I’ve already found myself thinking a LOT about this one throughout the day, especially as I catch myself (yet again) wanting to get out of something that should be requiring my full attention (like editing a photo session or doing some writing) by checking email or social media. Thank goodness my husband is okay with me highlighting his copy because I just might have had to go along and do it anyway.
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
I’m playing hostess for the first time ever for my book club at the end of October (HOW I managed to make it until my thirties without joining a book club, I don’t know, but I seriously look forward to it all month!), and this is the book I’ve chosen. Normally I never would have picked a book I hadn’t personally read beforehand, but I’ve been hearing such rave reviews about this classic for years and years that I didn’t hesitate to select it. Because the book has been described as “deliciously creepy without being scary,” I’m hoping it will be the perfect choice for next month, especially as we’re meeting just a week before Halloween. I’m literally only a chapter in (as I just started last night), so I’ll probably be doing a follow-up with my final thoughts in my next round-up.
Links Worth Sharing
- I’ve hardly been reading blogs or Internet posts at all over the past few weeks (honestly, life with a baby and a toddler has kind of been kicking my butt lately), but I HAVE been trying to use up some of our basil before it starts taking over the universe, which is how I came across this perfect recipe for classic pesto (which I’ve been using in our favorite Pesto Ranch Chicken recipe rather than buying the pesto at the store) and this 20-minute winner that helps me use up both our fresh tomatoes AND our basil. (As per usual, these two excellent recipes are brought to you courtesy of my favorite food blog, Mel’s Kitchen Cafe. All hail Mel!)