Monday, April 27, 2015

Monthly Recap vol. 20~ April 2015

If you missed my news last week, I announced that I will no longer be hosting the Weekly Minutiae link-up here at my blog {Picture a Skyline}! If you came here looking for that link-up, it isn't here! My apologies! This week we have the first of the new "Monthly Recaps," - where I tell you about our month at the end of the month. More specifically, when I give you a recap on the last Monday of the month. ;)

It has been a good, albeit very, very busy month.  We went to Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas for Molly's Spring Break. Since we got back, we took her to the Symphony, and as part of wrapping up her first grade year, she has been in standardized testing at her parish school. She is also responsible to take independent reading tests (called "AR tests") as part of her first grade journey. She has had to do a whole lot of reading, but the good news is, she is doing great! So. We have been busy and we have eaten a lot of eggs and oatmeal and non-sugary breakfasts this past week!

I know that I (and others) usually do a roundup of books/music at the end of the year, but I thought- why not do one for the January-April period, just for fun? People are looking for a good book to read or good movie to watch, why not give them some ideas? So, I give you, my January-April recommendations.


The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

I definitely recommend Neil Gaiman as an author. He wrote (and is probably most famous for) Coraline, which- if you saw the Tim Burton movie you know- was delightfully creepy, as is this book. It's not super-creepy, though. I get creeped out really easily. His writing toes the line between real and believable fantasy really, really well. He mixes monster-like beings with real life happenings almost effortlessly, and somehow you can really relate to the main character, unlike many sci-fi books where it's more about the robots and how they fight, the end. This actually feels like a believable real-life story and the fantasy elements are first-class (read: they just make it cooler, rather than being distracting). Read it.... this would make a good beach read because it isn't too long or overwhelming, and it draws you in like an absorbing novel should.

Breakfast at Tiffany's (the novella) by Truman Capote (added)

This is one of my favorite American stories. I decided to reread it in January, and wrote about it here.

The Husband's Secret

I will say that Liane Moriarty is a great writer, (I love how she weaves in The Biggest Loser and international history), but this book was a little bit dark and a little bit dirty.  Do books have to be this way to be NYT bestsellers? I personally think that What Alice Forgot would be a better place to start.


I enjoyed this book even more than I expected to.  Reading epics like this are certainly time-consuming, and doing so while pregnant is always a challenge.  Read my review here.


Lewis Carroll by Morton Cohen

Lewis Carroll is such an interesting, multi-faceted character from history. This biography is thorough and it goes into some of the darker sides to this man and his character.  I personally felt he did him a bit of injustice by focusing on those things a little too much. One thing is for sure: he was a genius, and he changed history with his contribution to the literary world, in particular Children's Literature.

The Complete Stories by Flannery O'Connor

I was so glad I finally made the time for this beautiful, grotesque collection.  Can it be possible to have your heart warmed and simultaneously sort of disturbed? Absolutely, yes.  Oh my goodness, go read it right now. Buy it, check it out, do what you have to do!

Beautiful Ruins

An interesting look at Italy and Hollywood in the 1950's. Follows an intriguing family and gets inside the head of a Hollywood producer. Well constructed, not dry at all. Worth a read; read it with your guard up, however, as there is language and adult content.

Team of Rivals

I learned so much about Lincoln that I didn't already know.  He was a complicated man with a very difficult job on top of a very difficult life.  As I was reading, I told Stephen, "I can't stop because I want to find out what happens!" He quipped, "Did the Confederates win?!"  That's the mark of good and well-written history- when you can't wait to find out the ending, even though you already know most of it!

St. Catherine of Siena by Sigrid Undset

I highly recommend this portrait of a beautiful saint, written beautifully by the author of Kristin Lavransdatter. I so enjoyed rereading it, and I think it will be the next book that I start giving away to all of my nearest and dearest. I cross-posted for the ACWB some thoughts on St. Catherine, but I won't link to something else right now!!!

I Watched (all on Netflix):
The Duchess
Secrets of Chatsworth (PBS Documentary)
Secrets of Hampton Court (PBS Documentary)
House Hunters International
Gilmore Girls
House of Cards

I (We) Listened to:

The Fantasia soundtrack
JJ Heller
Crowded House
The Frozen Soundtrack (over and over and over again!)
Daddy's Playlists
Music for a New Year
Really Happy Winter Music
Easter Mix 2015

I'm Tacy Williams Beck on Spotify if you want to follow

Kids Watched:
Pippi Longstocking
The Secret of the Wings
The Prince of Egypt
The Boxcar Children
Veggie Tales- Celery Night Fever
Brother Bear
Big Hero 6
Oliver Twist

{We took a big, fat break from TV in Feb-Mar for Lent!}

As I said, we went to Texas this month to visit our sweet friends who live in Dallas. The area has an amazing zoo- one you should surely check out if you're ever there!
Anders had his first haircut... he was a bald baby... so he didn't get his haircut till 19mo. old!

We got back into a little bit of reading-frenzy. I had a lot of reading time in the car, so I finished Team of Rivals, Kalahari Typing School For Men, Einstein and Stitches by Ann Lamott.  The girls watched Star Wars for the first time! They also watched Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and a whole bunch of Shirley Temple.

The beauty of giving up TV for Lent was immense... in fact, I could write a whole post about that.  For one thing, we spent a lot more time outside. We spent more time with books.  And I think just using iPads made them much less "fried" than if they were going from TV, to iPad, to playing, and back around.  They also learned some new skills from more iPad time. I'm thankful that it's the type of thing that uses actual brain cells, rather than just having them vegging out in front of the tube!  I also think that the kids were better-behaved, with less tantrums for sure, and they developed more autonomy by having to take turns (especially if one of the two iPads that we own was dead, which seems to happen frequently at our house!). So all in all, we learned great things during Lent, although it was hard! Now that we're back to using TV, we're trying to keep it limited- like a reward and that type of thing.

I hope this gives you just a few ideas if you are needing some inspiration. It was a beautiful month, with lots of rain and lots of flowers. A beautiful May be yours'!

Frances: Mommy, can you keep a secret?
Me: Yes...
Frances: I can too.
Me: Do you have a secret?
Frances: Yes...
Me: Well, what is it?
Frances: I can't tell you! It's a secret!


Cristina said...

St. Catherine of Siena was my first saint biography after joining the Church. It's still my favorite! I should go back and give it a re-read :)

Laura {a spoonful of joy} said...

How great that you gave up TV as a family for Lent. I'm sure it was refreshing!

Tacy said...

Yay Cristina!

And Laura- yes it was! Thanks for the comment.