candy canes in snow

Happy 2014, everyone! I hope your holidays were refreshing and restful, full of joy and celebration!

Mine were pretty good, though full of pneumonia, family functions that happened in two different states at the exact same time, and lots of [semi-stressful] nesting.

The good part about some of that? DOING IT ALL was simply impossible, and I had no choice but to accept it and adjust – never a bad idea for anyone, especially a Type A control-freak who is STILL working on this giving up on perfect idea!

As of today (Saturday) I’m officially nine days out from my scheduled C-section, and I’m praying that this baby stays put that long. Though I’m slowly coming to terms with the fact that I cannot possibly get everything on my to-do list (more like a wish list at this point!) finished before the baby arrives, I’m counting on this next week to do some writing, some nursery organizing and, yes, some napping.

But before I get started with all that, here’s a recap of what I was into last month!

jesus calling book

What I’m Reading:

Last month I didn’t read a ton – or at least I don’t remember reading a ton. (Seriously my memory and brain power in general are not my friends these days!) I did, however, get the next book of four different series I’ve been loving.

I was so excited to see the library (finally) had my books ready: House of Hades by Rick Riordan, Allegiant by Veronica Roth, Glittering Promises by Lisa Tawn Bergren, and Stranded by Dani Pettrey. Unfortunately, they didn’t all live up to my expectations.

House of Hades – the fourth book in the second Percy Jackson series (keeping up?) – was awesome. It’s young adult fantasy, and truly one of my very favorite series. Though this one was darker (and has some older themes), I loved every page.

Allegiant – the final book in the Divergent trilogy – was not what I expected, but not disappointing either. As a friend mentioned, the author made a brave choice with the ending – but even though it’s not what I expected or what I would have chosen as a reader, she did it well. And the book’s theme of unconditional love and forgiveness was surprising – and exactly what I needed during the days I read it. Also? I can’t wait for the Divergent movie to come out. As well made as Catching Fire was, THIS is the YA book-turned-movie is what I’m excited to see!

Glittering Promises – the third book in the Grand Tour trilogy – was one of those rare books, one I didn’t finish. I adore many of Lisa Tawn Bergren’s books (especially the River of Time series!), but I’ve been surprised to enjoy this historical romantic suspense series. It was a bit slow-moving in my opinion, but once I got into the first two books I liked them a lot. I simply couldn’t get into this one and, given everything I have going on right now, I decided it wasn’t worth my time – at least for now – to plow through it. I hope to pick it up again, perhaps when I’m in a more relaxed state of mind.

Stranded – the third book in the Alaskan Courage series – was a real bummer. I have love, love, loved this series. Dani Pettrey writes about the McKenna siblings in a way that reminds me of Dee Henderson’s O’Malley series – which I adored. The characters are real and have realistic problems, personalities and – most important for me as a reader – dialogue. But this third installment, for me, fell flat. The main characters didn’t seem real – or smart, and the come to Jesus/conversion part of the story was extremely awkward for me. Plus, the author included the bad guy’s point of view, which I never enjoy. I’m still thoroughly excited for the fourth book in this series and hopeful that it will be more on par with the first two books than this third, which was a bit of a dud.

I also read Beyond Ordinary: When a Good Marriage Just Isn’t Good Enough by Justin and Trisha Davis. Yes, it’s a marriage book but it’s not the typical, “Follow these three easy steps and voila! Perfect marriage.” It’s an honest telling of a painful journey from both the husband and wife’s perspectives, along with annoyingly insightful and challenging questions at the end of each chapter. I’m glad I bought this one so I can go back to it and think through those questions some more and [hopefully] talk about them with Mark.

Finally, I’ve picked up my Jesus Calling devotional again. The personal message based on Scripture always speaks directly to my heart and my life, and this particular (in)courage version of the book has the Bible verses printed on each day’s page. So even on my laziest or craziest days, I can take a few minutes to read it, quieting my heart and focusing on Truth.


What I’m Watching:

Yes, that movie in the poster is pretty old. But WOW. We have had THE HARDEST time finding a decent movie to watch lately! Mark and I talked about it, and we really can’t remember the last time we rented a movie and really liked it. Over the holiday break we watched Oblivion with Tom Cruise (snore), Man on a Ledge with Sam Worthington (okay, actually pretty decent though crazy unrealistic), and Lockout with Guy Pearce (don’t even ask).

We tried to go see Anchorman 2 for our birthdays, but of course that was the night the whole city – including the movie theaters – shut down due to an ice storm. Literally shut down. As in, we drove to the theater and the doors were locked.

So I’m left to tell you that I did watch a few cheesy Lifetime and ABC Family holiday movies, and I will watch these hilarious Sprint commercials with James Earl Jones and Malcolm McDowell Every Single Time. THAT is about all I watched in December!

“Dude, you’ve turned into a monster!” “YOU MADE ME THIS WAY.” Steve’s Facebook page about tickets is probably my favorite, although OF COURSE “Totes McGotes” is a very close second. I mean, OBVI.

full freezer

What I’m Cooking:

Basically anything I can fit in my freezer for those first few weeks of newborn madness. I might not be able to put together dinner for my family between now and the big day, but my freezer and pantry are full! I’ve made…

Banana bread muffins – millions of them
Award-winning chili – two big pots
White chicken chili – a new recipe I love!
Chicken enchilada soup – a favorite and stand-by

…and cooked or prepped tons of ground beef, chicken, onions and peppers. My pantry is full of all the ingredients I need to make our favorite (and easiest) meals, and I think I’ve got enough snack foods to keep Annalyn going for a few weeks.

Basically, as I told Mark, I’ve spent all our money and will never go shopping again. Or cook. Well, I tried to tell him I wouldn’t cook. Based on his refusal to stop asking what my plan is for dinner, though, it seems he may not believe me. (In his defense, he’s made dinner and taken us out to eat SEVERAL times over the past few weeks!)

What I’m Inspired by:

My friend Janet challenged herself in a huge way last year. She committed to not buying anything for herself for an ENTIRE YEAR. She wrote about it along the way on her blog, and shared the lessons she’s learned this week at the Christian Standard. Janet is an amazing person and great friend, and I can’t recommend reading about her journey enough!

What I’m Looking Forward to:

Okay, obviously I’m super excited to meet this little baby who’s been occupying my body for the past nine months! And, in the practical, I’m looking forward to Mark fixing our heater tomorrow and finalizing nursery set-up this weekend.

But something you might enjoy just as much as I am? Well, the Veronica Mars movie, of course! Seriously, I CANNOT WAIT for this to come out in March – and am loving the newly released trailer:

It is going to be epic. (And then it will be over, and then I will possibly cry. Because, it will be over.)

What’s Cracking Me Up:

The president at my college alma mater made a video over Christmas break to tell the students just how much he missed them. IT IS HILARIOUS AND AWESOME.

I love this. It’s such a brilliant PR move, and he was such a good sport! I’ve always been proud to have graduated from Truman State University, but I love being able to add “Home of T-Pain” to the slightly-obnoxious-to-everyone-else “Harvard of the Midwest” descriptions to my school! (Also? In case you’re tempted to not watch, DO IT. Even the Huffington Post has written about it. And as HuffPo says, watch until the very end. You won’t regret it.)

What were YOU into last month??

I’m linking up with my friend Leigh for What I’m Into. Make sure to check out some of the other month’s recaps – they’re some of my favorite posts to read each month!

What should you watch next?


Every month, we are bombarded with new TV series and movies—and it can be overwhelming to figure out what to watch! (I know, I know, what a problem to have!) I'm here to help. My monthly Watch Guides list out all the returning series, new series, and new movies, along with premiere dates and where to watch them. Plus, I tell you my personal picks for the month to help you narrow it all down.

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