How do you get ready for the new year?

(I’m shifting my chatty and “personal” stuff over to this blog, so reading updates and so on will probably be kept here now.)

I am continually re-evaluating and “tweaking” my life, and see the turn over to the new year as another natural opportunity for that.

This year begins the second full year in our new home, and Jay has had vacation time to do some of the indoor projects that make my life easier (Thank you Jay!).

Mainly, I have a bit more counter-space for kitchen work, and (today) he’s finishing up the re-piping of my little laundry room, installing a (Craigslist) stacked W/D to double my working space there.

Having a year behind us is a huge encouragement to me, because we’ve got our baseline (nearly) nailed down, and now we’re free just to figure out living.

I just began our second month of planned meals (I’ve been amazed at how much brain matter that clears out for other use), and over Christmas break I worked out a schedule I plan to apply once we start school again.

The hopeful thing about this schedule (I keep telling myself) is that I didn’t add a bunch of stuff I *wish* could happen.  Nearly everything on the list is stuff we’ve been doing already, just not as consistently as I want (bed and waking times, for example).

Two things I did add are weekly “project” time with each kid– I want to do special stuff with them, but have proven I don’t do well with unstructured time– and twice weekly bringing Griffin– the male angora– inside for grooming.

Griffin has the most amazing, spinnable wool, so naturally it matts and felts for nothing.  Which simply means it needs to be maintained if I want to get a good harvest.

Yesterday I made a short list of the stuff I expect (hope) to buy, and the books I’d like to have read (or re-read) before the end of the year.  I even brought inside the (hmm) 22 books and put them all on a single shelf, cause that’s the way I am.

The sad thing to me, is how (mathematically speaking) 22 books is a very realistic number to expect to consume in 12 months (you see, it’s a little less than 2 per month. I’m sure I’ve done at least that this year; I haven’t gone back and counted yet).  It’s sad because it fills a good 24″ chunk of shelf, and can’t help drawing attention to the fact that I have many multiples of that amount of space being filled by books I want to read.

I know better than to make a resolution not to buy anything new this year (some of you remember how empty that promise has been in the past), but it certainly highlights the inherent optimism of buying books.

Anyway, I’ll be staring a “Finished in 2012” book page, as I did for 2009, because, as huge and ungainly as it gets, it’s just simpler to maintain than multiple miniature posts.

Over half of my reading this year was on the kindle, and most of those were free or under $5. I kept track in my home document/journal, but I guess I felt more…sensitive about what I read. I suppose I should be confident enough to “be me” and read what I want without explanation or apology, but I’m not there yet.  Maybe when I’m 50.  At least I’m still reading them, right?

The 2012 reading list:



  • The Seer and the Sword
  • The Healer’s Keep
  • The Sherwood Ring

All fabulous for the relational element being so skillfully tied to the main adventure.  And they all made me giggle like a silly thing and curl my toes in anticipation.  That doesn’t happen nearly enough, in my opinion.

  • East
  • Lord of the Rings

Both long stories I want to watch being managed. And I have the Recorded Book version of LotR, so it seemed plenty manageable.

  • The Coming of Dragons

The beginning of a trilogy I want to finish. Though I reserve the right to quit before the end.  The rest of the books are new to me, beginning with the final books of the trilogy.

  • The Book of the Sword
  • The Circle of Stone
  • The Icebound land (Ranger’s Apprentice #3)
  • The Battle for Skandia (Ranger’s Apprentice, #4)
  • Stardust (no, I haven’t seen the movie, but it’s been urged at me enough times to make me want to check out the book)
  • Ice (by Durst — another variant, like East, on the tale East of the Sun, West of the Moon)


This is the one I’m currently working on. It reminds of an idea I saw attributed to Oswald Chambers: The author we like best isn’t the one who tells us something we’ve never heard before. It’s the one who puts into words something we’ve been wanting to understand.

I’m about 1/3 of the way through, and that’s been the feeling for me so far: I was “good” before Jesus and I was “good” after Jesus, so what’s the message of the Gospel for me?  “Keep trying hard” is not an easy yoke or a light burden, so what am I missing in Jesus’s call to himself?

  • Jesus Among Other Gods (Zacharias)
  • The Stronghold of God (Frangipane)
  • The Abolition of Man (Lewis)
  • The Story Factor
  • Touch Magic (Yolen)
  • The Gifted Adult
  • Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students


This is the “children’s” version, retold by McCaughrean, which basically means the stories have been high-graded– they all were “good ones.”  I’ve tried reading through the “real” Arabian Nights, and it is a slog.  This is the collection that I was infused with when I had the dream that basically started Shadow Swan in the summer of ’05.

I’d already discovered the Russian epic poem that provides the overall framework of the story (the deserted island, the three magical discoveries, the treacherous aunt with way too much influence), it was the dream and these stories that made the enchanted princess someone from the deserts.

Which was hardly a natural choice, considering she was transformed into a waterfowl.  But I really enjoy the results.

  • Folktales from around the World (Yolen, Ed.)

I want to start doing Tuesday Tales again, and this whole section is to get my memory/juices flowing again

  • Folktales from India

This is the book that had a marriage-seminar-in-a-story more than once.  Want to play with those someday.

  • The Well at the World’s End

This is the only one I haven’t read yet in this section. But I think that tales should be re-read as much as read, so a 3-to-1 ratio feels good to me.

4 thoughts on “How do you get ready for the new year?

  1. Brooke says:

    I don’t make apology for reading. Know why? Cuz at least I’m reading which is a lot more than most people can say.

    • Amy Jane says:

      Except everyone in my circle does read (or at least talks as though they do), so I am self-conscious about it.

      I guess the reason I’m even talking about it is I’m trying to get over it.

  2. Becky says:

    I think you’ll like Jesus Among Other Gods. I read that in college for a world religions class. Zacharias is easy to understand.

    I found Abolition of Man to be a slog. It’s the only Lewis book I don’t like. I was supposed to read it in my college Inklings class.

    • Amy Jane says:

      I think my favorite thing about Z so far is that he is so clearly an F (all the stories the emotional connections), while just as clearly being smart and aware and connected to reality. I am so hungry form good models of that.

      Re: Abolition– I’ve started it as many times as I started Mere Christianity (which I only finished b/c I found it on CD at the Library), and always get distracted. I wanted to read something by Lewis this year, and I picked this one because it is the place where he talks specifically about teaching and the training of expectations (indirectly the training of imagination) which you know is sort of my angle.

      Trickiest thing of all is my distractability– I *adore* whatever I’m in at the moment (or, frankly, I wouldn’t be there) but unless I make the point of not looking anywhere else I’m pulled in another direction. For example, this weekend I read nothing but blog-stuff: either how-tos for or from, and built up my nekked feed-reader in Google. Can hardly imagine when I’ll do anything from my to-do lists if I keep up with all these cool folks. But there you are:

      I’m surrounding my mind with what I want to be my perception of normal, and it works: I feel less-lonely, and less-oddball. Strikes me as healthy.

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