What I'm Into - May 2017 | MaryCarver.com

Well, it’s official: I am an old person. I don’t say this because my husband turned 40 last year (which means I will hit that milestone next year) or because I graduated from high school 20 years ago. Nope, I’m referring to my inability to restrain myself from exclaiming: Where did the time go?! How is it already the end of the week? the month? Wasn’t it just Easter?!!

It’s true. Every single Friday finds me saying, “What? How did we get here already?” And don’t even talk to me on the first day of a new month.

I’m not sure how to slow down time, although daily photo challenges, a one-line daily journal, or making sure each day includes some sort of quiet, reflective time are things the internet tells me to do. And sometimes I do those things, but you know what I like doing best? Posting a monthly(ish) roundup of what I’ve been into.

Taking time to look back on the past few weeks helps me fill in those panicked blanks and explain just where the time went. Sometimes that’s frustrating (three weeks were lost this spring to a nasty sinus infection and case of bronchitis that laid me out for days at a time), but other times it’s rewarding (spending two days in one week helping friends unexpectedly is always a good use of my time). No matter what, it’s always illuminating, as I’m reminded of just how I’m spending my days. And if I’m really feeling ambitious, I can even consider if how I’ve spent my days is how I want to carry on in the future.

Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
—Mary Oliver

And, let’s be real, it’s also fun to swap reviews and recommendations with you all as we all share what we’ve been into. So let’s quit rambling about the philosophical reasons for this post and just get into it!

What I'm Into - May 2017 | MaryCarver.com

What I’m Doing:

  • Volunteering with my daughter: The day before Mother’s Day, Annalyn and I joined 750 volunteers to pack 100,000 meals for hungry children in Haiti. It was an incredible morning as we got to work side by side with Global Orphan Project (an organization based here in Kansas City and founded by friends of ours) and Feed My Starving Children (an organization that provides meals to kids all around the world and has an amazing, well-oiled-machine system for doing it). I was tired and sweaty by the time we finished, but so thankful for the opportunity to serve and to do it with Annalyn.
  • Raising a book nerd: Speaking of Annalyn, as you can see in that photo up above, she has officially become a Potterhead. Her teacher read the first three Harry Potter books to her class this spring, and my child is OBSESSED. So much so that, when tasked to choose a historical figure to research for the Third Grade Wax Museum, she chose Emma Watson. I rolled my eyes and debated how “historical” Emma Watson is, but in the end I was so proud of my girl. She wrote and memorized her report and gave a great presentation — and she couldn’t have looked cuter dressed up as Hermione!
  • Hearing from a famous writer: A couple weeks ago when I took Adrienne to story time at the library, I noticed a sign announcing the next author in the library’s speaker series. It was Anna Quindlen, author of many books and articles but most famously known to me as the writer behind these words: “The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.” That quote truly changed my life, after a manager shared it with me years ago — and it was the inspiration for the previous name of this blog! Of course I had to go hear her speak, and she was incredibly interesting as she talked about her career as a journalist and novelist. After I registered for the event, I immediately checked out four of her most famous books (two non-fiction and two fiction). I still haven’t read them and it’s possible I won’t get to them before they’re due, but I’m still glad I got to hear her speak.
  • Coughing like crazy: Like I mentioned, I was sick this month. I’m sure you all are going to tell me how this wouldn’t happen if I covered my house and myself in essential oils, but guys, that ship has sailed. I’m better now. But it took a trip to urgent care, four prescriptions, and three weeks of my life to get over it. Ridiculous! For what it’s worth, I’ve upped our vitamin intake around here this spring, so hopefully that won’t happen again, oils or no oils.
  • Grieving an unexpected loss: Much worse than being sick, though, was the death of my sister-in-law. After a scheduled heart surgery at the end of April, my brother-in-law’s wife passed away due to complications. It was a shock to my husband’s family and has left us all shaken. Mark and I traveled to Wisconsin for the funeral, which was hard but also good in that we were able to spend so much time together.
  • Speaking with women about joy: And finally, something that happened in April but was noteworthy enough that I can’t overlook it: I spoke at a women’s event at a church in Des Moines, Iowa. It was the largest event I’ve done as a speaker, and it was AMAZING. The whole thing was definitely in God’s hands, from the invitation to be their keynote speaker to the calm I felt as the parts of my presentation fell into place and I realized I wasn’t nearly as nervous as I expected to be. I found out this week that they didn’t record my message, so I can’t be sure I did a good job. But people laughed when they were supposed to and bought my book afterwards, so I’m hopeful it went as well as it felt.

What I'm Into - May 2017 | MaryCarver.com

What I’m Reading:

  • Zenn Diagram by Wendy Brant: Guys, just read this description — “An irresistible [YA] novel about math and romance, with a hint of the paranormal.” Shut up and take my money! Seriously, this one checked all the boxes for me and out of the many books I’ve read in this genre over the past couple of months, this is my one of favorites.
  • Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor: YA time travel for the win! The only thing I didn’t love about this book is that it’s the beginning of a series (yay!) and I will likely have forgotten major plot points by the time book two comes out (boo!).
  • The Last of August by Brittany Cavallaro: If you’d like a lighter Sherlock than the fourth season of the BBC series (seriously? That show got WEIRD.), this might be up your alley. This is the second book in a YA series about Sherlock and Watson’s descendants, and I liked this one better than the first book.
  • The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon: This was the second book I’ve read by Yoon, and the second time I’ve been surprised by how much I loved it. Two teens who meet the day before one of them will be deported sounds like a real downer, but it wasn’t. The book was hopeful and humorous and full of heart.

What I'm Into - May 2017 | MaryCarver.com

  • Dreamology and Literally by Lucy Keating: Both of these books were refreshingly creative. The stories were interesting, and I liked the way each one resolved in the end. I didn’t love all the characters all the time, but it was fun to read books with unusual storylines. (Dreamology is about two teens who have dreamed about each other their entire lives and then meet, surprised to learn each other is real. Literally is about a girl who realizes she’s the main character in a book being written by a famous author. Yes, I realize that’s similar to The Truman Show and Stranger Than Fiction, but I don’t recall reading a book in this genre with this kind of plot.)
  • The Montana Rescue series by Susan May Warren: I just happened to stumble across one of these books on sale and remembered I’d wanted to read it. Then, as I swept through two books in the series, I remembered how much I love Susan May Warren’s books! I never think to seek out her books, but every time I read something she’s written, I love it.
  • Pushing the Limits series by Katie McGarry: If you like your YA novels a little gritty, this series might be for you. The books are still solidly PG-13 (with lots of language) but feature characters in more serious, dangerous situations than some fluffier YA contemporary books out there. I bought the first one on sale and then promptly got the remaining books in the series from the library because I liked them that much. (That being said, when I finished the series, I was glad to take a break from those kids and their serious problems!)
  • Right Where We Belong by Deborah Raney, Melissa Tagg & Courtney Walsh: I was excited when I saw this little collection of short stories, partly because I like collections of short stories and partly because Melissa Tagg is one of my favorite Christian fiction authors. And, bonus, her short story in this collection takes place in the same world as one of her series that I enjoy. I liked the other two stories as well, and all three were about a nice break from angsty teens and suspenseful mysteries that I’ve been reading.
  • I’m Glad About You by Theresa Rebeck: I don’t remember who recommended this book, but whoever it was? They were wrong. This book about high school sweethearts who didn’t end up together and lived miserable lives as adults was awful. I mean, sure, it was written well. But it was so depressing! All the characters were terrible. And the ending didn’t redeem any of the torture I endured by reading the whole book.

What I’m Watching:

What’s that? Did I go see Guardians of Galaxy, vol. 2 on opening weekend? YES, MA’AM, I DID. And it was totally worth the cost of a babysitter and tickets made of gold. (They’re not made of gold, you say? Then why on earth do they cost so much?!) (ANYWAY.) Guardians of Galaxy was just as fun, just as silly, just as funny and irreverent and splashy as the first one. And I loved it.

I’ve also streamed a couple movies recently: Jack Reacher: Never Go Back and Begin Again. The Jack Reacher sequel was pretty good. Nothing spectacular, but I won’t deny thoroughly enjoying a certain type of Tom Cruise Crazypants movie. (It’s this type. You got that, right? Yeah.) In a completely different vein, Begin Again is about a washed-up music producer (Mark Ruffalo) who discovers a singer-songwriter (Keira Knightley). They make an album together, and it’s lovely. I liked the movie, and I really liked the soundtrack.

When it comes to TV, it’s all about the finales right now. Unless you have 13 episodes stacked up on your DVR and then it’s all about catching up. (Hi, Jane the Virgin, I miss you and I promise I’ll call soon.) All of my favorite shows are coming back next year — even Timeless, which certain people like my brother have mocked and was initially cancelled but then renewed after all. My favorite show of all right now is Madam Secretary. I LOVE IT SO MUCH. But it’s followed closely by a three-way tie of SuperstoreAmerican Housewife and Speechless.

I’ll confess that on the weekends, I’m catching up on a whole lot of CBS with my husband. Mark and I watch NCIS, Scorpion, and Blue Bloods (and he watches NCIS:LA, too!) — but on the much cooler front, we are binge-watching Parks and Recreation. He’s never watched it, and I love it more than waffles; it’s been so much fun to watch it with him!

When the second season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt rolled out last year, I didn’t watch it right away. I kind of forgot about it for a while, and then when I did watch it, I was not impressed. It wasn’t nearly as good as the first season, and that bummed me out. Still, like Kimmy herself, I remained hopeful, optimistic for the third season. And I was not disappointed! I watched the whole season last week, and I laughed so hard. It was full of sneaky pop culture references, political jabs that made me snicker, song lyrics as dialogue, Titus in full Lemonade Beyoncé mode, fun guest appearances, and a tiny bit of character development throughout the season’s wacky hijinks. I loved it. I’ve heard rumors that others didn’t love it as much, so you’ll have to let me know what you thought!

Last but not least, in the TV-watching department, if you loved Psych as much as I did, then you’re going to be psyched (I COULDN’T RESIST, YOU GUYS) about the Psych movie, coming to the USA Network this December. This December!! I. Can’t. Wait.

What I'm Into - May 2017 | MaryCarver.com

What I’m Writing:

In case you missed it, here are a few things I wrote this last month.

How about YOU? What have YOU been into lately?

This post will be linked up with What I’m Into at LeighKramer.com.

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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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