July 2023 goals

14 July 2023

Whew! A late-breaking monthly goals post if there ever was one, but that’s summer for you, I suppose :) It feels appropriate, because I’m keeping things super simple this month, goal-wise. I have so enjoyed having June as my buddy this summer that I want to keep my schedule as loose as possible to give us time and space for fun when I’m not working. Resisting the urge to pack in projects will hopefully give me that space, and leave me room to post here in the time I do have.

And even still, I might not get to all these goals – and that’s okay. To whit: I had planned to knock out a big chunk of budget updating after I finished work on Tuesday. But when June asked me to teach her how to play Dutch Blitz, I said yes. That “yes” felt hard for a moment – it’s always hard to reset your expectations – but I thought multiple times that evening about how happy I was that I had accepted her invitation. I can’t always say yes, but I never regret it when I do. That’s less of a huge life lesson and more of a bolstering reminder to myself to keep making the small decisions that add up to the life I’ll be thankful and happy I lived.

We stopped in DC to break up our road trip home from New England. It was a hot morning to walk the monuments and memorials, and the World War II Memorial was a welcome respite!

On my calendar:
— Shep is a guy that enjoys a birthday party, and this year we’re throwing him a joint effort with his best friend for even more fun (splitting the difference of their birthdays, which are about a month apart). The forecast is for 97 degrees for our playground fete…

What I’m loving right now:
— My sister wore these white linen pants in Maine and looked so very chic and comfy that I promptly ordered a pair. Size down!
— Speaking of clothes, I am seriously loving the ongoing clothing swap my friend Bethany and I have orchestrated. We’re a similar size, and every month or so, we choose 3-5 items from our closet to loan the other. Think Rent the Runway, but the free friend version :) It is SO fun to have new pieces to try and I love that we can inject novelty into our wardrobes without buying anything new!
— We had dinner with a dear high school and college friend while we were in Connecticut (shout out to Jackie!). She’s a devoted reader of EFM, and told me that Shep and her son have the same goggles because she bought them after reading about them here. The elastic-band style cinch makes them so easy to tighten and so unlikely to snag hair – we have (both) loved them this summer! Wanted to give them another mention in case you’re in the market.

As a reminder, you can find allll the things I’ve loved over the last few years neatly organized right here!

What I read in June:
Lessons in Chemistry | Talk about an unpopular opinion – but this book wasn’t for me. Yes, it’s gotten huge praise from just about every outlet (I think it was Amazon’s 2022 best book of the year?). Yes, I was incredibly impressed that this is the author’s debut novel. Yes, I thought the plotting and storytelling was clever. I loved the dog. But I found most of the other characters somewhat annoying rather than quirky, the novel as a whole depressing rather than uplifting, and ultimately, I found it to be mean-spirited and one-sided toward the idea of faith. Listen – I read plenty of books written by atheists or with characters who are atheist. But this was a book where faith was a theme woven throughout, and there was not one character or moment that showed faith or religion in a positive light nor one character that portrayed a genuine faith – in fact, it seemed the author went out of her way to skewer faith and religion at every turn. While that is absolutely the author’s prerogative, to me it seemed a simplistic, disappointing, and reductive narrative. For those who’ve read it, I welcome your thoughts in the comments :)
The Gospel Comes With a House Key | I have several friends who love this book… but my feelings are more complicated. Eep! The author repeats over and over that she practices “radically ordinary hospitality,” and her vision for how we are to use our time, belongings, and emotional resources truly is radical. Beautiful and God-honoring, but radical. (And frankly, it makes my goal no. 5 for this year sound embarrassing.) And that made it a hard read for me! It doesn’t mean she’s wrong, but it is hard. It also was literally not the easiest read – though it gave me a lot to chew on, I think if it had been laid out a bit more logically, and written in less of a circuitous, fluid manner, I might have had more takeaways from it. Whew!
Hello Beautiful | If you loved The Dutch House, I think you’ll love this book. The characters feel very real, and even though I sensed where the plot was going early (and resisted it, at first), the author won me over and I was satisfied with where it ended. I do think I missed some of the layers of meaning because I haven’t read Little Women (!), but I still enjoyed it.

My reading list for 2023! I’m 17 / 24 so far.

Revisiting my June goals:
Settle into our summer rhythm (Yes! Each week has been a new adventure, but I’m pleased with how it’s going so far.)
Film June in June (Done!)
Paint our master bath cabinets (Done! Waiting on cabinet knobs to arrive and I can’t WAIT to see them all put back together.)
Clean out June’s room (She and I have made great progress and probably have one more session to go.)
Plan thoughtfully for our time in Connecticut and Maine (Yes, and I do think it made a difference.)
Complete final prep for and enjoy the book swap (It was a delight!)
Update our budget tracking (No – moving to July)

July goals:
— Update our budget tracking
— Finish organizing the second half of our 2021 photos
— Edit June in June
— Tackle our master closet (Nervous about this one! Will be tougher than some of the other spaces.)

I hope you’re having a wonderful July so far, friends! Feel free to comment on anything I mentioned or whatever else is on your mind :)

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July 14, 2023 10:03 am

I am in the middle of a book study of The Gospel Comes a with a House Key with some women in my church. It’s been helpful to go through it with women of different ages and life situations. I think it is a hard read too, but I have tried to read it more as a story than the usual self help book. Maybe like a parable! It has caused me to pray about what I’m labeling “mine” in my life and that God would help me release control. Things like my time, home, money, expectations of order, etc. Then God gets to work in me what he sees fit. I can’t really say if I like it or not, it is what it is and I think it was something that I needed to read.

July 14, 2023 10:20 am

Agree with you on Lessons in Chemistry! It’s not that I “disliked” it.. I thought it was well written and I LOVED Six-Thirty, oh my goodness… I just felt like it was much more of a downer than anyone is talking about. I just finished Hello Beautiful a few days ago and absolutely loved it. I hadn’t read Little Women until this winter when Annie Jones and Jamie Ivey hosted a LW book club, reading one chapter a day starting on Christmas Eve. It was beautiful and a sweet pace to read at, especially in the dead of winter. Highly recommend!

July 14, 2023 11:00 am

Re: Lessons in Chemistry: I also thought it was a little depressing, though partly because the cover led me to believe it would be way “fluffier” than it actually was (I read somewhere that the author also thought the cover choice did a disservice to the book and it wasn’t her choice). I didn’t think about the religious aspect of the characters during reading, but I’m curious to go back and read it thru that lens. I read it last summer and while I don’t remember the specifics, I remember the feeling and I don’t think it was uplifting, which was a shame because as you said, it was recommended by so many!
I haven’t read the hospitality book but that’s something we’ve been working on this summer! My kids are 6 and 9 and I’m also trying to allow them to have friends over in a more casual way (just come over and play vs. we’re having a party with a defined agenda). It does get easier and while I enjoy putting together a spread, I’m also working to be OK with takeout pizza, watermelon and s’mores. I would love to get to a point of last minute invites and casual in-and-out friendships, but you’ve got to start somewhere!

Kelly Strawberry
July 14, 2023 12:20 pm

Ok, so I have to comment on Lessons in Chemistry review lol. I remember really liking the book, although all books this year are undoubtedly trumped by Demon Copperhead ;) Interestingly, I don’t remember any of it being religious, or rather anti-religious, which is crazy given your summary that is was religious at every turn! Now I am super curious how I didn’t notice this.
I got The Gospel Comes with a House Key last year (had to buy it as it was not in stock at library) but after a couple of chapters I actually just donated it to the library. I like the concept but thought it was unreadable.

Abigail Gray
July 14, 2023 7:42 pm

Loved reading your thoughts on Lessons in Chemistry! I liked it, but also found it to be more depressing than I expected – I am not against books with heavy themes, but think the marketing did a disservice to this one. I majored in Biology in college and worked in a scientific field, so I appreciated the women-in-science narrative (though I found it a bit overblown/on-the-nose at times) and liked the intersection of cooking and science. The faith aspect of the book didn’t stand out to me, but it is thoughtful and interesting criticism. Thank you for sharing!

July 15, 2023 11:42 am

The biggest problem with Lessons in Chemistry for me was the marketing! It’s been advertised as a funny, light read, and it’s quite dark.
I must say, that I’m absolutely shocked that you haven’t read Little Women! I’m humbly submitting it for your 2024 book list–it’s one of my all time favorite book, and I think that you will love it. (And then you can enjoy working through all the fabulous adaptations, which I love for very different reasons.)

July 17, 2023 9:52 pm

I’m so glad to read that other people didn’t like Lessons in Chemistry, as I was starting to feel like I was the only one! I too hated the way faith was portrayed and how there wasn’t really one positively portrayed male character.

I just read Little Women a few years ago and it’s become a favorite/comfort read! Highly recommend reading it and Good Wives at Christmas!

Victoria B
July 20, 2023 8:48 am

I agree with Lessons in Chemistry. It was very anti religion! I didn’t like anything about that book haha, so I will stop here.

July 20, 2023 3:55 pm

Yes yes yes to your review of lessons in chemistry!!! I was reading it while taking an Apologetics class so the anti-faith part stood out strong to me… I wasn’t sure if others would pick up on that. And the main character seemed so annoying to me, not much like a hero. Thanks for your honesty!