Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Reading Time - March

It's time for another link-up with Steph and Jana. Click on over to see what others are reading.

I saw a post on a book club page that suggested seeing what books you've read that were published the same year you were born. I was curious ...

1971 was a good year (click to see why). Those who know me will understand how excited I was to see The Lorax was published the year I was born. Why? Because I am the Lorax! Proudly and unapologetically so.

OK ... since last month's reading post, I've been busy with home projects and spending time with my kids, but also have to make time to read. I fell off the reading wagon one too many times and don't want it to happen again anytime soon.

Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi - I don't give many 5 stars. This was definitely 5 stars. A tale that starts with the lives of two sisters from Ghana, whose lives take very different paths - one as a slave, the other the wife of a slaver. Each chapter is then from the viewpoint of the next generation through the current era. Excellent read.

The Wife Between Us: A Novel
The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanan - Truly don't know why I read this. Full of triggers and I was totally cheering for Vanessa to crush Nellie. Midway through, I don't know what I was reading and it took a chapter or two to realize the flip the authors did. 3.5 stars

I Am, I Am, I Am
I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O'Farrell - I think I misread the description and didn't realize it was about one person's close calls with death (17 of them, though not all were close calls ... more like what could have happened). After the first 3 or 4 chapters when I realized it was all things happening to the same person, I was wondering how accident-prone she really is and how can she still be alive? Also, I don't know Maggie O'Farrell, as in I haven't read any of her books so her memoir wasn't thrilling to read. But it was an interesting book. 3 stars.

The Great Alone
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah - Oh, Alaska ... I will return. This book was freaking awesome, in that it reminded me so much of why I love it there. I know I wouldn't survive trying to homestead or live off the land, but so much of what she wrote about reminded me of places I visited, people I met, food I ate, etc. I guess back in the early 70s when the story started in AK, locals called the ferry the Tusty (I squealed when I read that) ... when I was taking that same ferry to Kodiak in the mid-90s, it was the Rusty Tusty. I guess time and weather is harsh up there, even on beloved ferry boats. I would say 4.5 stars on this one. I haven't read her other books but I have The Nightingale in my stack (see pic below).

Currently reading: I've Been Thinking, by Maria Shriver and Educated, by Tara Westover (both e-books from local library).

Meanwhile, my stack of books to read keeps growing.

Read any good books? Have you checked what popular books were published the year you were born?

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Reading Time - February

So I did some statistic checking since my last Reading Time post. I had mentioned that I was bummed about 'failing' my 2017 goal of reading 40 books and 'only' read 25 books. Jana commented that 25 is still 2 books a month and that's more than what a lot of people read.

According to this post on Iris, the average person reads about 4 books a year. A. Single. Year! I can't comprehend. But click through for more details - it's pretty interesting.
  • In 2015, 72% of Americans read a book. (A single book. One.) This includes only reading a book 'in part' so they might not have even finished that book. (That one single book. One.)
  • Educated women tend to read the most (side note: I occasionally go back and read books I should have finished in high school or college. Do you know anyone who reads Kafka's 'The Metamorphosis' or 'The Trial' for fun?)
  • Americans don't read as much as most other countries. (We're lazy.)
And according to this Bookbub post, I have about 2000 books to go before I die. That's a sobering thought and might be why I'm no longer hesitant to DNF a book if it doesn't cut it for me in the first 3 chapters. Every book now is going to be judged on if it's worthy or not to be included in my 2000 books. This kind of reminds me of Lost and when Desmond was carrying around Our Mutual Friend by Dickens to be the last book he ever read. When my aunt passed away 15 years ago, I found out she died while reading a book written by Dickens - her favorite author. The morbid romantic in me did ask if it was Our Mutual Friend (she would have appreciated Desmond's choice and reason) ... but it wasn't and I can't remember which one now.

So anyway ... on to the books:

A is for Alibi - As mentioned last month, I had thought about reading this series before but it wasn't until we were chilling around the house and the news came that local author/celebrity Sue Grafton had passed away that I did some quick searching and downloaded the book. Technology is useful. Very '80s, but good. Not sure I want to put a priority on reading the other 25 ...  (ebook from local library)

Then ...
Promise Me, Dad - Also very good. I teared up in parts of it. Put politics aside, this is a good book about a father and the loss of a son. I was also very interested in reading some of the bits about what was going on behind the scenes during some of the political manuevering. I recommend it. ('real' book borrowed from local library)

Then ...
Sisters First - This must be the month for memoirs. Again, put yo' politics aside. I love presidential history and the families are included in that, (#45 excluded). This was a good book with anecdotes from both Jenna and Barbara and how their lives were before, during, and after their dad was president. ('real' book borrowed from local library)

And this one:
The Book of Giant Stories - One of the check-ins for the 24in48 reading challenge was to find the oldest children's book you have or the one you've held onto since childhood ... and it's this one. I remember crawling up into my dad's lap for him to read this to me over and over. He worked long days and when he'd fall asleep reading to me, I'd continue reading the stories aloud to him - maybe that was his plan. The illustrations are the best - Weekly Reader Books for the win. (book in personal collection and going nowhere - though I need to fix the spine)

 Everything I Never Told You - After reading Little Fires Everywhere, I put this one in my queue at the library. I think I liked this one better than LFE, but both were hard to put down. 'Familial Dysfunction' is the name of the game with this author. ('real' book borrowed from the library ... and also the ebook borrowed from the library for when I was waiting at an appointment and had forgotten my book. I do feel bad for double dipping when someone else was likely waiting for either copy ... really, I do. Both were returned promptly after finishing.)

They Both Die at the End - Pretty good story. What would you do if you got the call that you'd be dead within 24 hours? (another e-book from local library)

And then:
The Hazel Wood - I was mainly drawn to this because it's the name of my kids' school. But the plot was interesting too. YA fairy tale - so there's teen angst involved -- and guess what .... another e-book from local library.

Currently reading: Sing, Unburied, Sing

So much for my goal of reading through the stacks of my own books ... most of what has been read so far in 2018 has been from the library (real and e-books).

Be sure to check out Jana and Steph's link-up and see what other books everyone's discussing. You can pretty much guarantee that I'll be on Goodreads throughout the next couple days adding still more books that I want to read but may never get to.

Thoughts on the stats or have you read any of the books listed? What are you reading?

Friday, February 2, 2018

Do-over day

In the spirit of Phil Connors and in honor of today, I sometimes like to think I want a do-over.

(Who else is thinking this?)

I think everyone goes through phases of the what-ifs -
What if I had been more outgoing in school?
What if I had been a better friend?
What if I had gone to a different college?
What if I had stuck to my original major?
What if I had said no?
What if I had said yes?
What if I said 4 years were enough?
What if ... what if ... what if ...

I do know it wasn't this.

And then I know that if anything from my past had been even slightly different, I wouldn't be where I am today (acceptance to my new reality). But then again ... if anything from my past had been even slightly different, I wouldn't be where I am today (wishful thinking of a better reality). But then again, when I look at my kids -- there's no way I would have changed a thing.

So now my new what ifs are full of present and future changes --
what if I can be a better mom?
what if I can be a better daughter and sister?
what if I can be a better friend?

So on that note ... happy Friday! Paint crew coming tomorrow ... wish me luck.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

January update

Linking up with Kristen and Gretch for a monthly update on what's up and what's down.

Reading - Tried to participate in the 24in48 readathon last weekend. I read more than I normally do on weekends but definitely didn't make it to 24 hours. I'll have a nice list of books to share on the Show Us Your Books post on the 13th.

Work stuff - Just finished the busiest month of the year for me there and glad for a bit of a breather. However, once I get everyone else's W2s out, that means I need to start thinking about personal taxes. A little nervous about my taxes this year. Trying not to stress about it though.

House - Getting stuff done around the house - painting, plumbing, electrical work, gutter repair, wall repair, carpet getting pulled up, wallpaper getting ripped down, etc. I thought I should do some before/after photos, but I'd rather forget the 'before'.

Running - Two parts to this one ...

Discovered a trail race out in the boonies of Shelby County, KY. It was totally not what I was expecting ... but I finished and with minimal pain. Thankfully, I wore an old pair of running shoes because I overestimated my creek-jumping abilities and landed in the mud. When I tried to climb the creek bank, my shoe stayed behind. I was crouched down trying to yank that shoe out of the mud with both arms and full-body strength. It FINALLY came up ... but had filled a bit with mud. Unfortunately, that was in the first mile and I had to run 3 more miles with my foot in cold mud/horse poo. Ran most of it with Katie (of fromicecreamtomarathon) and if it weren't for her, I'd have never finished. Some of those hills were brutal and the mud didn't help. We finished 4 miles in just under an hour though so I'm happy about that.

Then - I'm combining two training programs to get through the winter. One is the Marathoning for Mortals run/walk half marathon that has worked wonders for me in the past. My only beef with it is I'm only to run twice during the week and a 'long' run on Saturdays. Sorry, but I need more active days than that ... so I'm also doing the Norton's Health training program for the Kentucky Derby Festival marathon/mini-marathon. This one is a bit of overkill with one rest day, one cross-training day, and 5 running days each week. I won't win any races and it's mainly to keep me moving and my mind off things. And also get caught up on Netflix/Amazon Prime Video without feeling like a slug, because ...

Eating - too much. But also planning the garden and getting the seeds ready to start. The kids have put in their requests for what to grow and they promised to help when they're here.

Watching - not the State of the Union address. It's not because of who gave the speech - I never watch it, regardless of the party in charge. The constant popping up and applauding gets old in the first 30 seconds so I wait to read the transcript of the speech on the next day. That was also a disappointment. I'm almost done with "Comedians in Cars getting Coffee" -- the episodes are super-short, super-funny, and super-dangerous to watch while on a treadmill. I tried with just one episode and had to keep grabbing the handrails while belly-laughing at 6 mph. Not safe. Not safe at all.

Glad January is over ... as slow as it went, time is still moving too quickly for me. My sophomore received letters from three different colleges last week. Plus, a letter from the school highly recommending him for AP classes, based on his PSAT scores. Here's the thing - this kid doesn't even remember taking the test. It was just a regular standardized test to him so he didn't study, didn't stress, didn't do anything his mom did when I took the PSAT. And he doesn't like school. Go figure. My daughter wants to sign up for all the AP classes she's able to, loves school, loves organizing and planning what she wants to do ... total opposites and yet both are so like me. I love this time with them. :)

so that's January ... and on to February ...

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Reading Time and 2018 goals

Linking up with Jana and Steph again ... while also adding umpteen numerous books to my already overlong TBR list ... It's a good day for a good day and reading updates are always good days.

So ... 2017's Goodreads goal was for 40 books. Slipped in #25 right on New Year's Eve ... so that was a fail. Life got in the way and I'm getting back to finding my groove so I'll keep 40 books as the 2018 goal and see what happens.

I like to mix in a classic every now and then - kids' classics included.

I don't think I'd ever read this or even heard of it until it was an Andrew Luck book club selection. Cute book and reminded me of Jasper Fforde's works. Speaking of Fforde, have you read any of his Thursday Next or Nursery Crimes series? Good stuff there.

Then this one ...

I had started it as an ebook library loan but couldn't start it right away so it 'disappeared' after two weeks and I still had a few chapters to go. Put my name immediately back in the queue for the ebook and realized I never cancelled the hold request for the 'real' book - ended up getting the 'real' book first. Took me a little bit to get into this one, but once I got past the first few chapters, I couldn't put it down.

Then this one ...

I had been meaning to read one of her books for years. She was my grandma's favorite author so I felt like I should at least try. Plus, I wanted to see the movie and always opt to read the book before seeing a movie. Pretty good story and I didn't know the ending so it kept me interested to the end.

And ended 2017 with this one ...

I was actually more interested in the book because it takes place in Indiana, more than that the author is an actress. Never saw Jessica Jones or Don't Trust the B**** in Apt whatever-number or even Breaking Bad ... so I'm not very familiar with her. I realize I get stuck on the details and if something's 'off', then it's hard for me to move past that without closure. There were a couple editing quirks that threw me off -- but the plot was good enough to help me get over it.

Currently reading ...

Not sure what I was expecting with this one and I probably won't read the B through Y books, but A is interesting enough.

Since I seemed to read more ebooks than real books in 2017, I had thought I'd set a goal to read all real books in 2018. Going to revise that and just aim for more real books than ebooks ... all was in order to start on my stacks of real books when the news came that Sue Grafton passed away. I downloaded A is for Alibi within minutes and my first book of 2018 consists of staring at a screen instead of holding a book. I'm also in the habit of reserving both ebook and real book versions of the same book, since statistically I know the ebook list will go quicker than the real book list - thanks to books just simply disappearing (magic!) whether the reader is done or not. Also, I noticed that more than half of my 2017 books were library loans ... so another 2018 goal is to read more of my own personal stash (ebooks and/or real books) and then pass those along when done.

Have you read any of these?
Are you a book-loan hoarder? That is, do you put your name on the library list for both real book and ebook versions to see what comes first?
Any book goals for 2018?

I'm off to check out all the other linked blogs and add to my Goodreads list ...

Thursday, January 4, 2018

2017 recap - if that's possible

I actually want to forget most of 2017 so I'd rather not do a full recap, other than to say it was a year that made me realize how strong I am. Started off just like every other year and ended just the same - with my favorite people. The end was with one less person (his choice) and also the news that the divorce was finalized a few days prior. So ... after 19 years, I have my own sequel: A New Beginning.

Spade is my spirit animal with regards to dealing with the past year. 
Not today, Satan. Not today.

Family in 2017 - moved my mom to a nursing home near us in February. We've been blessed to have found this facility and that they had an open room for her. I know my sister felt obligated to keep Mom home as long as she could, but it wasn't benefiting Mom to stay isolated. She's not a flight-risk (not mobile) so she's in 'gen-pop' instead of in the Alzheimer's Care unit and they have activities going all the time to keep her mind active and involved. Plus, she's 10 minutes from us instead of 100 miles. She doesn't always remember Dad has passed on, but then also doesn't always remember she was married for almost 50 years and has 3 kids. It's rough. Cherish your parents while you can.

Finances in 2017 - started the year as previous years, still drowning in debt and finished the year almost debt-free, but with the agreement that I take on one of his credit cards ... so back to saving and scrimping and making sure that's paid off as quickly as possible. I'm so done with credit cards and stupid debt. It was something that constantly weighed on my mind and affected me in other ways -- so many times I tried sharing with him what our circumstances were and he would zone out. So many times I turned down going out with friends because we didn't have the money available. (Him? whip out a card. If that one gets rejected, whip out another one.) Working on meal-planning, freezer-meal prep with friends, coupons/sales, and getting into the habit of Aldi's shopping.

Fitness in 2017 - well ... I lost 30 pounds. Wasn't planning on it and don't recommend the method (stress), but it also gave me some PRs in pretty much every race this year. Silver lining, folks. Always look for the silver lining. Finished the year with a 4 miler (cut down from an 8 miler due to extreme cold), a 10k, 2 10 milers, a less than 3 mile 5k, 3 halfs, a full marathon, and ended with a 5-miler.
My participation medals from the year. 
Each one represented a PR in either the distance or the course though.

Looking ahead to 2018 - no resolutions for me. Just aiming to be better than I was the day before.

Reading - I'm currently reading A is for Alias, downloaded the ebook from the library after hearing that local author Sue Grafton passed away. And one of my 'goals' for 2018 was to stay away from ebooks so I could plow through my stacks of real books - oh well. Goodreads goal is set at 40, same as last year and I missed the mark by 15 books. Sleeping better and my mind is in a better place this year so I hope to get back to reading consistently again. Scared off from the library after running into "her" and making a fool of myself. Stupid emotions. Can't we just slap a scarlet A on her and be done with it? Too much? Anyway, I have another library I can use while I work through this. And it's good that I have plenty of unread books at the house so I don't have to risk that again.

Fitness - As of January 1st, I'm registered for pretty much all my races this year. Looking forward to trying a couple new ones with some friends - a trail run this month and a new-to-me half in the fall.

Finances - as previously mentioned: meal plan, freezer-meal prep, and also planning a garden this year since I'm no longer an urban chicken tender (wink wink), and living as frugally as possible. Any tips along the way are appreciated! I was worried about Christmas but was SO VERY thankful for the monotony of doing surveys throughout the year. I had enough in Amazon gift certificates that I spent $5 on a fish and maybe $50 at Old Navy ... everything else came from cashing in from survey sites. The looks on the kids' faces are worth it.
Difficult to surprise older kids when they provide a very detailed Christmas list. Son had mentioned how he was interested in hydroponics after all the sophomores took a field trip to the vocational school. He was so excited when he saw this gift, he wanted to get it all set up immediately. This is a week's time of hydroponic-growing of wheatgrass (no dirt, just seeds and growing stones and fish poop).

House - repainting and renovating what I can and when I can. I have a five-year goal to be out of that house by the time my youngest is in college. There are so many half-started demolition projects to deal with that there's no way it could even be sold 'as-is'. It is what it is though and it'll give me something to do. Google and YouTube have helped me with some repairs already.

Friends - reconnecting with old ones and spending time with new ones. It's really amazing how much freer it feels not to have all that debt weighing down on me. Meet for chips and margaritas? Yes! I can do that now! Dinner at a new restaurant I've been wanting to try? Double yes! I'm an introvert and prefer to stay at home, but connecting with people has helped me realize I'm not alone in this ... and also finding out that all those happy marriages aren't quite as happy as they seem on Facebook.

Travel - hoping to travel someplace new with the kids this year. If not new to me, then new to them. Family in Philadelphia will be moving soon and I want to get the kids there to meet cousins and see the sights I got to see on my annual trips. They've also requested some locations that aren't road-trip distances so that's another reason for me to get the new debt paid off this year - it's crazy what plane tickets cost now. Last time I flew was in 2005? 2006?

And that's a recap in a nutshell. Linking up with Kristin and Gretchen.

Ending with a reminder from a new friend ...

And something that gives me a chuckle each time I read it ...

Monday, January 1, 2018

A letter to my kids to start 2018

So many things - so many changes happened to us and for us in 2017 - so much I want to say and so many tangents I could go off on ...

In no particular order ... and knowing that I'll add to this regularly ... 

  1. Be strong
  2. Be kind
  3. Be consistent
  4. Be intentional
  5. Apologize when you're in the wrong
  6. Don't assume
  7. Stand up for what's right, not what's easy
  8. Help each other
  9. Be there 
  10. Be present
  11. Be yourself
  12. Keep reading
  13. Challenge yourself
  14. Travel
  15. Get outside your comfort zone on occasion
  16. Know that you can always come home - I might not let you stay but you'll always a place to rest and recharge
  17. Volunteer
  18. Stand by your commitments
  19. Remember that quitting isn't failure - not trying is failure
  20. Realize your mistakes and learn from them
  21. Be a friend
  22. Help the animals
  23. Stay curious and don't be afraid to ask questions
  24. Remember that 'family' is whoever is there for you when you need them, not just when it's convenient for them
  25. Get involved 
  26. Look for the good in everything
  27. Trust - but be cautious
  28. Drink water
  29. Try new things ... unless it's illegal
  30. Unplug regularly
  31. Set goals - large and small
  32. Dream
  33. Vote - and educate yourself before filling out that ballot
  34. Donate blood 
  35. Say please, thank you, and you're welcome -- and be sincere about it
  36. Never be afraid to say 'no'
  37. No one is better than you and you are no better than anyone else
  38. Be brave 
  39. Get out in nature 
  40. Exercise
  41. For your mama and for your health, eat some freaking vegetables that aren't potatoes or fried
  42. Get plenty of sleep (meaning go to bed earlier, if necessary)
  43. Find your passion
  44. Brush your teeth
  45. Traditions aren't set in stone - make your own
  46. Remember that your job pays the bills, your hobbies make you happy. If you can find a job that pays you for doing what you love - even better.
  47. Learn how to budget and stick with it. AVOID credit card debt, at all costs!
  48. Sure you can pay someone to do everything for you (plumber, electrician, paint, yard work) but you also need to learn how to do basic repairs on your own. Personal satisfaction.
  49. Be thankful for the learning experiences - because everything is a learning experience. Everything.
  50. Always remember that you are loved.

Reading Time - March

It's time for another link-up with Steph and Jana . Click on over to see what others are reading. I saw a post on a book club page tha...