the habit of being_late october books


I feel as if I must make an excuse for the amount of books I’ve read in the last month. Maybe the fact I’m nursing a wee babe and just emerging from the baby moon will suffice. Maybe the fact I’m writing about three absolutely amazing and perfect books that you should read will make me seem a little less crazy.


“So how, children, does the brain, which lives without a spark of light, build for us a world full of light?”
― Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot See was absolutely beautiful and stunning. It is the story of a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France. I loved the world of Marie-Laure and the relationship she shared with her father.

“Whenever he remembered this moment, it lasted forever: a flash of complete separateness as Lydia disappeared beneath the surface. Crouched on the dock, he had a glimpse of the future: without her, he would be completely alone. In the instant after, he knew it would change nothing. He could feel the ground still tipping beneath him. Even without Lydia, the world would not level. He and his parents and their lives would spin into the space where she had been. They would be sucked into the vacuum she left behind.”
― Celeste Ng, Everything I Never Told You

Everything I Never Told You is the story of a mixed-race family in middle America and facing a tragedy. This is Celeste Ng’s debut novel and it is exquisite, a marvel of a debut. This is a deeply felt, original take on the family dealing with a missing child story.

“In his forty-third year William Stoner learned what others, much younger, had learned before him: that the person one loves at first is not the person one loves at last, and that love is not an end but a process through which one person attempts to know another.”
― John Edward Williams, Stoner

I’m embarrassed to admit that Stoner has been sitting on my shelf for two years now and was constantly being passed by in favor of this or that. Stoner is the story of a man of no particular esteem, a university professor who, after 38 years of teaching at the university rose no higher than the lowly rank of Assistant Professor. Neither Stoner’s wife, nor his colleagues, nor his students think much of him. Yet the degree to which John Williams succeeds in bringing the reader to identify with this unlikely protagonist is nothing short of a triumph. The final pages are unforgettable.

  • what a lovely explication of these three books! thanks! I think it is good to read and so nice that you are able to! God keep you as you continue to adjust to this new little one with your older children, etc!ReplyCancel

  • Reading and while cuddling your newborn sounds a blissful way to pass the time. Stoner sounds intriguing definitely going on the ever growing list.ReplyCancel

  • I have had the first two books waiting in wings for their turn on my nightstand and will make sure Stoner is added to the list. You haven’t failed me yet Amanda with your picks, keep them coming :)ReplyCancel

  • All the light we cannot see is a beautiful phrase/title for one thing. I’m interested in it just for that reason alone!ReplyCancel

    • admin

      The story was just as lovely as the title, Danielle!ReplyCancel

  • Stoner will remain one of my favorite books of all times!!!
    You should never feel bad about reading a lot. The opposite holds true though ;-)ReplyCancel

the habit of being_mv sockyarn sweater

Because I’ve never been able to sleep after giving birth (adrenaline!) and am definitely unable to sleep in the hospital, I cast on for this Sock Yarn Sweater after the Camellia was born. My gauge was off so I knit the 6 month size but it’ll be perfect for her as our weather is just beginning to hint at cooler temps.

the habit of being_ripple

The Ripple. Can I tell you how in love with this blanket I am? The goal was that it would be for the Camellia (assuming she was a girl) or if the baby had been a boy, the Poulette would get this and I’d start over in more boy-friendly colors because yes, I liked this project that much.

I used this pattern from Lucy at Attic 24 and chose eight colors of Cascade 220 Superwash (not acrylic because ewwwww). I had originally ordered one ball of each color and I was enjoying rippling so much I didn’t want to stop so I ordered a second ball of each color. I haven’t stretched it out and taken a tape measure to it but it is the width and length of a twin bed which means my rippling madness resulted in a blanket this little girl will be able to use once she’s in her own bed too. That’s a good thing, right?

It’s Wednesday! I’m going to Yarn Along with Ginny. Since I just posted about some of my recent reading, you can see that post here if you’re curious.

  • Your ripple blanket is gorgeous!ReplyCancel

  • Lovely knits. The blanket is gorgeous. Hope you are well.ReplyCancel

  • yay! how lovely these both look! well done! :) sometimes I knit also when I can’t sleep… good to do something calming…ReplyCancel

  • I could never sleep after having babies either.
    Your Ripple is so pretty. I still have the afghan my mama made for my daughter’s bed when she was born.ReplyCancel

  • Manise

    I could never sleep after my deliveries either. I recovered postpartum on the floor I worked on so the desire to stay up was intensified. Pity I didn’t knit then.

    The Camellia’s Ripple blanket is beautiful! I love the soothing colors you chose.ReplyCancel

  • Ooo…. I really like that blanket!ReplyCancel

  • that blanket is gorgeous! makes me wish i knew how to crochet!ReplyCancel

  • Beautiful knits! I am the same way, I did a fair amount of knitting recently when I had my daughter, all the nurses were impressed with my knitting through contractions!!ReplyCancel

  • The colors you chose for the ripple blanket are such happy colors! During these upcoming dark and dreary (I still love this time) wintry months, it will be so nice to have such vibrancy and cheerfulness to snuggle up with, having a wee one in the midst of the snuggle certainly helps too!

    I’ve been in a knitting funk lately. I cast on, knit several rows then lose interest…it happens. For now… I’ll stick to my reading, for I have stacks and stacks eagerly waiting my attention.ReplyCancel

  • Gorgeous knits!! I love the ripple blanket and the colors you used. So beautiful!ReplyCancel

  • Beautiful work :0)ReplyCancel

the habit of being_early oct reads


There has been much, much reading and truthfully this is just the tip of the iceberg but it’s a good starting point. The next reading update will be full of books I’ve read since giving  birth (nursing babes allow for plenty of reading time and I’m not one to turn down extra reading time).

I had high hopes for The Flying Shoes but alas, they were dashed as the main character made me bristle so I’ll just leave it at that.

I wasn’t sure what to expect with Frances and Bernard as it was marketed as not only an epistolary novel but a literary homage and yet I found myself pleasantly surprised. An avid reader of published diaries and letters, this is a bird’s eye view over the shoulders of these two great writers—a glimpse into their letters as well as their hearts and minds—and playing a game of what if… The writing was beautiful and used O’Connor and Lowell’s meeting at a writing workshop as a jumping off point but quickly moves into the realm of fiction.


“Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering.”
― Nicole Krauss, The History of Love


I last read The History of Love six years ago and felt drawn to pick it up again. What I discovered is this heartbreakingly beautiful story, full of sadness and love, is every bit as good as I remember. Krauss tells the intertwining stories of Leo Gurskey, 15 year old Alma, and the novel (The History of Love, the novel within the novel) that survived the Holocaust and beautifully switches between Leo Gursky’s melancholy, lonely presence and Alma’s precocious teenage voice. This novel is a reminder that all we really want is to remain visible, to be remembered by those who knew and loved us.

  • I love your last line and copied it into my notebook, very wise and true words my dear. XOReplyCancel

  • I love when you write about what you’re reading and about books. I adored Frances & Bernard. It was so charming and drew me in! And I just read A History of Love for the first time – her writing is luminous and powerful and gorgeous, though I found the story a little confusing. I felt the same way about Great House, honestly. I think it’s just idiocy getting in the way. xoxReplyCancel

    • admin

      Lindsey, I remember being a bit confused the first time around yet still loving the writing. The second reading allowed me to really sink in and revel in the story.ReplyCancel

  • I love when you share your reads, it gives me great ideas. Can you sometime share how you gather your reading books? Like do you read blurbs, goodreads, where are your sources? Just a thought. I tend to get my reads from others or what I see displayed on a book shelf in a bookstore.ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Karen, let me ponder and see if I can come up with anything worth sharing!ReplyCancel

  • i love your posts in general, but i particularly look fwd to your reading posts as they usually kick me in the pants to pick up a book.ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Lan, if you were to ever visit my house I’d send you on your way with a book in hand. I believe in books!ReplyCancel

  • Welcome back. I enjoyed Frances and Bernard a while back. I’ve just finally started reading The Habit of Being before bed every night and am swooning. I’m teaching “A Good Man is Hard to Find” tomorrow to help my class talk through a sacramental imagination. Congratulations on the tiny person, and happy nursing-reading!ReplyCancel

  • I’ll never forget Leo Gursky…ReplyCancel

  • keishua

    HOL is one my favorite books of all time.ReplyCancel

It’s hard to believe tomorrow makes two full weeks of baby mooning and yet it does and with it come a return to work and travel for the Mister and a return to normal (or some version of normal) for me and the littles. I’m giving us next week to settle into a new-ish normal and find some sort of rhythm with this new little babe and then (hopefully) gently ease back into the demands of life.

I’m not one for sharing the details of my birth stories but I’ll tell you this little girl was born under the blood moon. The birth was an easy and lovely tub birth and I’d like to think it was because we were covered in prayers and well wishes (thank you!).

the habit of being_10.09.14

This little girl has a double first name just like her big sister the wee lass, family names from the Irish side. And now that we have a new wee lass, we’ve been calling them by their middle names the Magnolia (the wee lass) and the Camellia (the new little bit).

Sorry for the blurry pic but you can see the Magnolia excitedly welcoming the Camellia for the first time. The Magnolia was very excited about this baby’s arrival and hasn’t strayed far from either of us since her arrival. When I came home from the hospital the Magnolia greeted us at the door with her arms up in the air saying, I hug her! I hug my baby! Fortunately for us, this is a calm and docile baby and she is quite happy to fall asleep in her siblings’ arms while being squeezed and kissed on.

the habit of being_oliver

The day before and the day of the Camellia’s birth, Dixie was very lethargic and weak. A few hours after I gave birth, my cousin texted to let us know Dixie had passed in the night. Try as she might, she had been so dehydrated and malnourished and despite our efforts at syringe feeding, etc. she couldn’t quite kick the infection. When Mister went home that morning he buried her and the kids said a few words. Long story short, there was a rescue kitten at the vet clinic where my cousin works in need of a home. She had mentioned it to us in passing, wondering if Dixie might want a playmate. The kids had enjoyed our two weeks with Dixie so much they decided it would be good to rescue this cat and so I came home from the hospital to meet Oliver. And damn, if he isn’t a cute and lively little guy.

the habit of being_9.12.14

Oliver’s favorite place to be is asleep next to either the Magnolia or the Camellia. Watching a movie at night with the baby in a milk coma in my lap, he curls up against her back and purrs himself asleep. He’s learned he can’t settle into the Magnolia’s bed until after she is asleep but once she’s out, he makes his way to her and makes himself right at home.

the habit of being_10.20.14

There has been knitting! There has been reading! There have been naps under our beloved and sprawling Magnolia tree! I’m pretty sure I haven’t been this rested in ages. In fact the only negatives to this baby moon is tomorrow’s appointment to excise the rest of the nasty ‘C’ word from my scalp. On the upside, they should be able to get the rest and I’ll hopefully be done with this and will henceforward wear a hat when I’m out (lesson learned). Plus, new baby snuggling makes everything better, right? And there’s this which I’ve been repeating from St. Julian of Norwich, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”

May it all be well with you too!

  • so sorry about the kitty. you’re good people to care so. enjoy those sweet kiddos! and take care of yourself!ReplyCancel

    • admin

      sarah, if good people = soft spot for cuddly creatures, we are! ;-)ReplyCancel

  • Congratulations on the new additions to the family and good luck tomorrow. You’ll be in my thoughts.ReplyCancel

  • Give yourself a month or nine to get back to regular. We only ge these teeny tinies for so long. She is so lovely to see and I think you may stepped in to genius territory getting all the others their own baby. Will be sending you best wishes tomorrow.ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Brooke, the animals have helped and have entertained the kids to no end. The boys found a king snake so beside the kitten, there is that (can you sense my joy over the snake?).ReplyCancel

  • there’s a reason that traditionally in the Orthodox church we give the new Mother 40 days before returning to church. Keep resting, what a lot of changes and will light a lampada (oil lamp by an icon) for you! God bless little Camilla, she looks so sweet!ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Elizabeth, I’ve always loved the idea of the 40 days…we’re definitely taking it easy and resting but with Mister returning to work/travel, it just won’t be quite so leisurely ;-)ReplyCancel

      • Hi,

        I do hope things are going well; I know it is a change with the Mr. being back at work again. I am going to light my lampada to St. Anna for you today! ~ ElizabethReplyCancel

  • Congratulations Amanda- she is precious.
    I love her name :)ReplyCancel

    • admin

      ha camilla! and thank you! i can’t wait to post and show you the sweater i’m knitting her out of some of your yarn i’ve had in the stash!ReplyCancel

  • Oh amanda she is precious and perfect in every way, I love how you have a new big sister helping out as well. Oliver is a lucky cat and so was Dixie, you did give her love.i know all will be well with your scalp because I’ve prayed daily for it since the very first time you mentioned it.

    And your a knitter!!! Knit some hats for that sensitive head :)ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Thank you, Karen! You and your prayers are much appreciated. xoReplyCancel

  • Congratulations. She is darling.ReplyCancel

  • Oh happiness! What a beautiful bundle of love. So wonderful to see this light of a girl in the arms of such an amazing mama. Blessed indeed sweet friend. XxooReplyCancel

  • Thank you for sharing your photos and words Amanda…just wonderful. I will be thinking of you tomorrow and yes to the hat from now on. Take care xxReplyCancel

  • Manise

    Ohhh that face! I could just eat her up. So sorry about sweet Dixie. She was lucky to have you all for her brief time in this world. Glad Oliver is working out so well and a welcome distraction. The king snake I’m afraid would have put me waaay over the edge. :-) Fingers crossed and good healing thoughts to you for tomorrow’s eviction of the scalp lesion.ReplyCancel

  • You and the mister make beautiful babies Amanda!
    You are always in my prayers and tomorrow I’ll be sending
    extra special thoughts your way.ReplyCancel

  • I’m so happy to read this update, sounds like you are settling into life with a new baby (and kitty!) so well and I’m glad.ReplyCancel

  • Congratulations! Glad the birth went smoothly and you’re settling into a new normal. Sorry about the little kitty. :(

    I’d love to do a tub birth but we’ll see. I have to make it there early enough to get in the tub though, so we’ll have to see.ReplyCancel

  • Bless your new baby girl and your beautiful family! She is so squishy and new … adorable. I bet she smells heavenly. I am so happy for you and your family, Amanda! Take care. xoReplyCancel

  • so lovely to read your words here. blessings to you and your family my friend.ReplyCancel

  • Felicia Jones

    There’s nothing better than cuddling a new baby. Enjoy these precious early days, Mama!ReplyCancel

  • Alicia

    Congratulations on such a beautiful little lady! She is absolutely positively perfect. Sorry about Dixie and the extra worries that surround the yucky c word.ReplyCancel

  • Huge congrats to you and family on your precious new member – how beautiful she is! My thoughts and prayers are with you as you continue the C saga.ReplyCancel

  • Kirsten

    Beautiful, beautiful. Enjoy this lovely time. XReplyCancel

  • Oh, Amanda…she’s a bundle of beauty…congratulations to you and your sweet family.
    I’m happy to hear you are well-rested and doing well.

    P.S. I recently requested to follow you on instagram…(the_essence_of_her). I’m not sure if you are allowing new followers but if you are, I’d love to follow you :o).

    Take care.ReplyCancel

  • jenny

    Oh beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!
    Enjoy your lovely girl.
    I know you are all filled with such happiness.ReplyCancel

  • how beautiful! congratulations and strength and love for a smooth transition into the new normal days.ReplyCancel

  • keishua

    congrats on that little beauty.
    so sorry to here about dixie but i am glad you got another cat baby. life with cats is beautiful. enjoy your baby moon.
    Julian of Norwich is one of my favorite saints. Her writings are so inspirational. I hope that all is well with you Amanda and that nasty c-word leaves you alone.ReplyCancel

  • Oh, warmest congratulations! She is so precious!ReplyCancel

  • Congratulations!

    Welcome to this world Camilla! What a blessing you are to this wonderfully loving family.

    Take your time to recover dear mama….enjoy this time – it goes by so fast :0)


  • Hello Amanda, warmest love to you, baby Camellia and your lovely family. So glad for you.

    I’ve been reading through your last few posts and I’m so delighted at all the reading you manage to get through. I’m truly inspired!

    And lovely words,as always.

    Enjoy your sweet babe.

    Katie xReplyCancel

the habit of being_dixie 10.3.14


The times they are busy. I found this sweet little kitten almost two weeks ago. She was on death’s door, weighed right at 2lbs, malnourished, dehydrated. A trip to the vet for fluids and some syringe feeding and now, she’s finally beginning to eat on her own. She loves being with us, around us, on us, in our laps and truth be told, she’s been a great distraction from the baby waiting game. She has won us over, even Mister. I came home from errands the other day to find him napping on the sofa, cat curled into the crook of this arm. She ate on her own for the first time the other night and the Red Bean and I (her two primary caregivers) actually did a victory dance. I think this means she’s staying and well, I’m glad because she is the sweetest little thing. We’ve named her Dixie Belle but call her Dixie. So friends, meet sweet Dixie.

The Red Bean celebrated her 13th birthday and I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact I have a teenager. Especially when you consider how sweet and helpful she is and the infamous moodiness of the teen years has yet to rear its ugly head (not to jinx myself but fingers are duly crossed). In fact the only sign that we have a teen in the house is her ability to sleep well into the morning (I might be slightly envious).


the habit of being_reading 10.6.14


We (being the press, Anchor & Plume) released our second book last week, finished Issue 8 and sent it to the printer. And then I tucked into my spot on the sofa and buried my nose in reading something not work related. Escapism at its best.

The first book I read was I Wore the Ocean in the Shape of a Girl. Not sure how I ended up with this book in my stack of books to read but wow, what a devastating and miraculous story and a brutally honest look at the personal flaws that drove her to make the decisions she did. I then picked up Crossing to Safety and utterly lost myself in it. Such an incredibly crafted story about friendship and marriage. It gave me renewed hope that we may one day find a couple with whom we could be friends in the deep and meaningful ways the two couples in this story were. The story is wry and real, sympathetic, yet optimistic and full of grace.

The waiting on baby continues…


  • Ah, but any waiting would be time well spent reading ‘Crossing to Safety’ — it’s still definitely my best read of the year (and it’s been a good reading year!). Enjoy these days of anticipation — looking back that waiting always seems to be a magical time, even if it has its frustrations at the time! (And I had to do a lot of waiting for my little ones to decide to appear…)ReplyCancel

  • I never encountered the terrible teenage years in my home, just the sleeping that you mentioned and the never ending need to eat that came with each one of them. Actually I found the teenage years to be quite enjoyable, especially after the breastfeeding and diaper stage in which I never was able to rest.

    Happy 13 to your dear girl. My oldest and my youngest are 14 years apart, but to this day they are still close, something I wish for your babies.ReplyCancel

  • that waiting game is hard from what I understand. God bless and protect you!!!

    The second book sounds esp. intriguing.

    Many years to your 13 year old! I remember my 13th birthday… we were not as health conscious back then and went to a brand new McDonalds and I remember we found pennies in the parking lot…ReplyCancel

  • So nice to hear from you. This little story of your sweet kitten touched my heart, I just love stories like this. Does this make 2 kitties now? If I remember, another was rescued earlier this year?

    I hope this week brings your bundle of joy…the waiting is always the hardest but the patience so worth the wait. Holding your newborn is the greatest gift in the world. All those snuggle moments are priceless…

    Take care Amanda. I’ll be thinking of you.ReplyCancel

  • Bless your heart, Sarah. We have an abandoned cat also. Not sure how people can just leave an animal to fend for itself/die.

    Welcome to your forever home Dixie Belle. You sure are a precious little one!ReplyCancel

  • How wonderful that you saved the cat. Congratulations on the second book publishing as well. I’m so happy for you that Anchor and Plume has done so well!ReplyCancel

  • You are a woman of many talents, Amanda. Way to inspire us all!ReplyCancel

  • congrats on your addition of Dixie, she is lucky and is loved.

    Now onto your teenager….believe me when I say the stories are not all true about teenagers. Enjoy your teen years they are wonderful, exciting and fun.

    No midnight breast feedings, no shoe tying, no teeth brushing, no guessing when they need to go to the doctor… you can see I loved the teen years.

    have fun waiting for that sweet baby!!ReplyCancel

  • Manise

    Sweet kitty! Looks like she’s found the perfect home. Enjoy your babymoon! :-) Fingers crossed for tomorrow.

    Happy Birthday, Red Bean!ReplyCancel

  • Our teen turns 14 next week. I remember 14! I really think that 11-13 are the really tricky years, but maybe that’s because they were tricky for me…your kitty is precious. So glad you rescued him. I have read Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner and loved it. Checked out Crossing to Safety from the library….ReplyCancel