Welcome to Round 9 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.
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- As I mentioned in my latest goals post, I recently purchased a tripod (finally) and wireless remote, which have been a long overdue purchase. Each Sunday, our little family takes a weekly picture together, and as much as I thought I’d reeeeally miss the days of dragging chairs and books outside to set up the camera at just the right height and then seeing how fast I (or Raven) could run back into the picture after pushing the button…I really don’t miss them at all. Prepare for our weekly family pics to be revolutionized! I might never need someone else to take our family pictures again. (If you’re curious, I bought this Vanguard tripod and this wireless remote.)
- My mom and my sister (who are seriously both the queens of getting the best deals and tons of free/almost free stuff using coupons) have been avid Kohl’s shoppers for years since you can make a killing using your store card with them. I’ve actually had a Kohl’s card for years but rarely use it, but I decided this year to check out their Black Friday deals to see if their prices could beat Amazon’s. My biggest score? A Melissa & Doug pet vet set (which they actually sold out of, but this is a deluxe version that’s similar) was listed for $29.99 on Amazon, but on Kohl’s, it was listed at just $17.99. Then, I applied a 25% promo code, taking it down to $13.49, and then I ALSO went through my Ebates account (which I always, ALWAYS do when I shop online), which got me an additional 6% cash back. As if that wasn’t enough, I also had a $10 coupon off of a $50 purchase (since I’d bought other things) and got $15 back in Kohl’s cash, which I then used the next week to buy more gifts. All told, I spent about $71 for around $300 worth of stuff. Not too shabby. My mom and my sister might convert me yet.
- Hey hey! I finally watched a new show! We went to a movie theater before the show came out on DVD and everything! Last month, for our family’s day adventure, we took the kids to see Ralph Breaks the Internet. While both Matt and I felt that it didn’t quite live up to the hype of being “even better and funnier than the first one,” we all still enjoyed it quite a lot (even if parts of it were a bit scary for Raven!). So now we should be good to not go see a new movie for another year or so.
- Ever since we moved into our house (which has a fenced-in backyard), I’ve been trying to convince Raven to go outside and play more. Before, she was always hesitant to go out for too long by herself, but lately, once I’ve bundle her up in all her snow gear, she’s been staying out there for hours! We were super frustrated when she was younger with her gloves situation, because we could never find gloves that stayed on or that kept the snow out of her wrist/arm area. But no more! Raven ended up getting these gloves from a cousin, and they have been AWESOME. I want to shake the hand of whoever invented these!
This was my book club’s pick for November, and it made me realize how little I really knew about Pakistan (either its history or its current state). This book made me feel a lot of big feelings, but more than anything, it made me feel indignant at the injustice still ever-so-prevalent in the world today and also very, VERY grateful for the many opportunities I’ve been afforded in my life, simply on the account that I was born where I was. It was easy to see why this book became an instant bestseller–I think it’s one that everyone should read.
As I wrote on my Goodreads review, this new release won’t be for everyone, but I personally really enjoyed it. It had been 10 years since Enger had published anything, but he’d been on my radar ever since I finished Peace Like a River and gave it one of my rarely-awarded five-star ratings. Virgil Wander is the story of a man who has a near-death experience when he drives his car off a cliff and crashes into the sea. When he comes to and picks up his life in a dying small town, he finds a newness of perspective and life that he hadn’t expected. My only beef with this was that the climax kind of came out of left field and the plot was pretty meandering (at times, I wondered where on earth it was supposed to be going), but what made me still enjoy this was Enger’s stunning descriptions of place and emotion and the fact that while parts of it trended toward the melancholy, it was overall a hopeful book. (This reminded me of A Man Called Ove, though it’s a bit darker in tone.)
I’ve been on a bit of a parenting book kick ever since I published my book roundup of great parenting titles (just because I got so many good recommendations and just because I figured it was high time I stopped putting off all the titles I’d put on there that I was going to read “soon”). I’m a third of the way into this title, but I’m already LOVING it. Even more important, it’s already shifted (for the better) our daily routine so that it includes MUCH more time playing outside (an impressive feat, considering that the temps have been in the single digits here lately).
I picked up this title somewhat on a whim, as it had the tantalizing “New Book” sticker on it at the library and because I’d loved Bradley’s other two works I’d read (The War That Saved My Life and The War I Finally Won). This is another book that has made me realize how little I knew about certain aspects of history—this book is about the children that Thomas Jefferson fathered with one of his slaves. While these “secret” children got much better treatment than the other slaves on his plantations, they were still born into slavery, though their mother was cultivating their habits and mannerisms so that one day they’d be able to merge into white society (since the majority of the children had lighter skin). So far, this book has been fascinating, though definitely on the sad side (obviously).