January 2016: Month in Review

In January, I read three books:

Armada was a very enjoyable audio experience. Wil Wheaton is always a fun listen. While this was not as good as Ready Player One (can anything ever be as good as Ready Player One), I thought Armada was very well done.

I finally finished My True Love Gave to Me. I do not recommend reading a book of Christmas stories unless you are sure you can finish it BEFORE Christmas. I did not enjoy this once it was January 10 and I was still trudging through it. That said, I did enjoy some of the stories in here a lot (most importantly, I was reminded that Stephanie Perkins is amazing and I needed to request Isla and the Happily Ever After from the library).

 

Finally, I finished Winter. Stars, I love this series. 😉 I almost always find the final book in a series to be a disappointment, but not here. Marissa Meyer is so unbelievably talented at creating fantastic characters, writing intricate but workable plots, and building a complicated world in which to place them both.  Rebecca Soler has done an excellent job narrating this series to top it off. I was so pleased to find that I still have a little bit left to look forward to in this world with Stars Above – a collection of old and new stories. I HIGHLY recommend this series to everyone (and I am actively campaigning for Ben to read it). Don’t let the lunar cyborgs scare you off.

I also read the first volume of Ms. Marvel (I am not sure whether to count this as a book read or not). I liked it. I’m still experimenting with comics but it’s quick to read and smart and funny at the same time.

In other news, I spent the month starting Parenthood’s final season, watching the entirety of Making a Murder, starting the first season of House of Cards, and reluctantly doing a Star Wars re-watch. And I remained obsessed with the Hamilton soundtrack. I started bullet journaling. I went to my first ballet class since LAST January. Kai learned to crawl, got his first two teeth, and ate a whole piece of pizza. The four of us stayed as busy as always.

What was your favorite read in January?

TSS: First Books of 2016

My first reads for 2016 show that I’ve definitely got a geeky side.

I read Volume 1 (issues #1-5) of Ms. Marvel this weekend in another attempt to see if I like comics. I’m still not entirely sure they’re for me but this was an interesting read and I’ve already requested the next volume. I know Ms. Marvel is important since the Marvel universe isn’t exactly populated by female, non-white, Muslim superheroes. Kamala Kahn is a teenage girl in Jersey City trying to balance American high school and strict immigrant parents when she suddenly finds herself thrust into the superhero role. I felt for Kamala as she is figures out who she is and how she fits into the world although I am hoping for a bit more on the origin story – what actually gave her her powers?

I also finished Armada on audio today. Armada follows a teenage gamer drafted into real war as aliens invade the planet.  Just like Ready Player One, Armada was a treat for my ears from start to finish. Wil Wheaton reading Ernest Cline is definitely one of my favorite narrator/author combinations. While Armada is not nearly as good as RPO, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ve heard others were disappointed but I never wanted to stop listening.

What was your first book of 2016?

The Sunday Salon: 2016 Goals

This used to be my favorite time of the year to blog about books. I loved preparing my top ten reads of the previous year, my labor-intensive reading stats for the previous year (see 2012|2011|2010|2009), and thinking about my goals for the upcoming year. While I did share some of my favorite books from the past year, that is the extent of my 2015 recap.

I’ve talked a lot about my lack of reading motivation and the trouble I have prioritizing reading into my schedule. So, instead of setting a numerical reading goal this year (as Goodreads so badly wishes me to do), I am setting a very achievable goal of simply reading a little each day, even if it is just for ten minutes. This past year, I could go weeks without picking up a book and just writing that out makes me sad.

I’ve also set two other goals for 2016. Just like I want to get back to reading, I would like to get moving again. Again, finding the time/prioritizing the time is my difficulty so I am setting the bar low. I just want to workout a little each week, even if it’s just a weekend run or yoga class. My hope is with both reading and exercising, that some will lead to more.

My last goal is more definite. I will pay off the last of our consumer debt. We have one card left that still has a balance. I had really hoped we’d pay this off in 2015 but life had different plans for us. I know we can do it this year. Even though we will still have a mountain of student loans to tackle, this will be a huge win for us. I have other intentions for 2016. I’d like to continue focusing on things like minimalism and mindfulness. I want to use my phone less and pick up the real camera more. I’d like to be more present, both when I am at work and when I am at home. I want to be more patient with Evan. And,now that Kai demands less of my attention, I want to be more helpful to Ben.

What goals do you have for 2016?

The Sunday Salon.com

A Few of My 2015 Favorites

Happy New Year!

I didn’t read nearly enough books in 2015 to do an official recap or top ten or anything like that. But since I didn’t actually do much blogging about what I read either, I did want to to share a few of the books I read and loved in 2015.

I read 29 books this year. I gave 5 stars to eight of them but two were rereads. Here are my 6 favorite new-to-me reads in 2015, in the order in which I read them:

Betsy and the Great World | Maud Hart Lovelace | print | 5 stars

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? | Maria Semple | audio | 5 stars

Why Can’t I Be You | Allie Larkin | print | 5 stars

A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty | audio | 5 stars

I’ll Give You the Sun | Jandy Nelson | print | 5 stars

Who Do You Love | Jennifer Weiner | 5 stars

Why Can’t I Be You is probably my top pick of the bunch. It was predominately a women’s fiction/young adult year for me as I tend to gravitate toward those genres when my reading motivation wanes, as it very much did in 2015.

What was your favorite read of 2015?


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Recently Finished – Who Do You Love

I have been a Jennifer Wiener fan as long as I have been an adult. I’ve ready every novel she’s written, so naturally, I picked up Who Do You Love. And I loved it. I loved the way it was written, chronologically but not always. I loved skipping between Andy and Rachael. I loved watching them succeed and fail over and over. This was a beautiful novel.

Next up, some holiday reading.

Just Finished: A Window Opens

★★★☆☆

My first real-time-not-a-book-review book review:

I finished listening to A Window Opens this afternoon on my drive back to the office from Tampa. It was 1:30. I hadn’t eaten lunch yet* and I desperately needed to pump. Which makes my reading selection somewhat ironic. Or, perhaps, fitting.

I’d originally picked up A Window Opens when I saw it on a list of fall releases which claimed it was an excellent debut about a woman balancing work and motherhood.

I could relate a little to some of it, but mostly I found the book to just be okay. Maybe I need the millennial version of this story, where everyone finds harmony in their work-life balance and then they instagram about it. Actually, I could probably write that version.

I didn’t dislike the book as I was reading it, but I was not pleased with the way the book wrapped up.  For those of you who have read it and want to engage in a spoiler-filled discussion, I am happy to explain why it disappointed me.

If you’re a working mom, you may enjoy it. If you’re not, I think you’d probably find it a pretty boring.

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*And I’d just used my lunch money to pay the $20 parking tab because Tampa apparently thinks it’s New York City now.

TSS: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. I usually spend it with my dad, either visiting him in Boston or having him visit here, but this year we were on our own. So we skipped the whole thing and went to Busch Gardens and had a family fun day.

And now we are ready for Christmas.

My love of this season seems to have infected Evan, who has been asking about Christmas since Halloween (despite attending a Jewish preschool where neither of these holidays are celebrated). He knows we are going to Michigan and he is anxious to see his grandparents and play in the snow. (Please let there be snow). Since we will be traveling at Christmas, Santa will be visiting our house a few days early.

So we put our tree up yesterday to maximize our time with it.

In the past, we’ve always decorated the tree while Evan was napping and then spent the following weeks trying to convince him not to steal/eat the ornaments. This year he was able to help us decorate and – so far – is doing a great job of not destroying the tree. He asked me to turn the lights on the second we came downstairs today and says it’s “beautiful.” I love this kid.

He is also tolerant of the Christmas music I’ve been playing even though it is not the Frozen soundtrack, which is usually the only thing he tolerates.

We have some fun activities planned for this Christmas season. We bought tickets for the North Pole Express at the Florida Railroad Museum. We’ll be hitting up the local parades and fake snow festivals, doing some baking, and we’ll go for our evening walks to view the Christmas lights.

I’ve also ordered the holiday cards and done most of our shopping already (this whole budget thing we’ve been doing makes Christmas shopping a breeze).

What are your favorite holiday activities/traditions?

Starting Over. Again.

Dinner is over. It’s not yet bedtime. I can’t put Kai down. It’s dark and cold (well, Florida cold) outside. Ben is teaching. I am standing up at my kitchen island, bouncing an unhappily teething baby in the ergo, while the preschooler watches an episode of Mickey in the living room, typing this post.

My free time is almost nonexistent. By the time the kids are asleep, the bottle dishes are done, the lunches and bottles are prepared for tomorrow, and the diapers are in the wash, it’s 9pm. We go to bed at 10pm, knowing at least one kid will wake us up in the small hours and that they will be up for good before it’s light out. I get that one hour of free time (and maybe an extra hour on the weekend if – big if – the boys both nap simultaneously). Sometimes I read. Mostly I watch television. But I definitely don’t blog. Nope. I cannot bring myself to use my one hour of free time to “work” on what was once my primary hobby. So I don’t. And this blog stays silent for weeks on end.

Yet I don’t give us all closure and pack up and move on from this space. While I can’t bring myself to spend my free time writing book reviews, I don’t want to give up this space that I made my own – this tiny, minuscule piece of the internet that is all mine.

When I think of officially declaring an end to this blog, I start to get nostalgic. I think about how much life has changed since I began blogging in 2007. I was a law student, with more free time than I thought I had. I read for fun and I chatted about it online. I met other readers and developed deep friendships. I began officially reviewing books at some point and I eventually made it my goal to review every book I read.

But the law student became a lawyer and then a mother and then a mother again. And slowly through all of this change, this blog became less of a hobby and more of a chore. A chore I did not want to do. I read less. I reviewed less.

So now, here I am. 32 years old. A mother. A lawyer. A wife. And yet…still a reader beneath it all. And still wanting to hold on to this little corner of the internet that I create.

So I am going to hold on. But I am not going to be a “book blogger” anymore. I promise no more official book reviews. To be honest, I have come to loathe writing book reviews. I am not clever or patient or thoughtful enough to stand out among all of the other book reviewers. I don’t think my reviews add anything meaningful to the conversation about a particular book. And I generally don’t end up having a conversation at all, but just shouting at the world my generic thoughts about a book.

When I first started “blogging,” I was on vox and I had maybe 15 readers. I posted about what I’d just read, with maybe a few sentences about how I liked it. And those 15 people replied and posted on their own vox pages. I posted about what I was going to read next. I also posted about my travels or school or dance or whatever was going on in my life, but mostly I had small conversations about books.

So I am going to go back to this. I am hoping for more of a “real time” blog again (which is why I am hitting “post” now and not “schedule”). Posting what I’ve just finished reading, what I’m about to start, what I’m listening to at the moment. I am hoping this will be less of a job to me but still allow me to keep this blog going in some form. I hope to also post about my kids and any adventures we go on.

I hope this brings back some of the joy I had in writing.

And now the baby is asleep. Mickey is over. It’s time to play pirates for 10 minutes and then go put these boys to bed. In the words of Evan’s favorite mouse, see ya real soon.

A Day in the Life…Part 3

I haven’t been around much. I know. It is taking me about 6-8 weeks to read a book and I don’t have much motivation to review any of them.

These posts were well-received in the past so I thought I’d do a new day in the life of post to show you what I am doing instead.

My new normal:

5:45 – awaken to the sound of a baby pooping, bask in the amazing amount (6 hours) of uninterrupted sleep I just got, realize Ben is still home, request baby changing services, sleep for two more minutes.

5:47 – nurse baby, say goodbye to Ben, check Facebook/Twitter/email while nursing

6:15 – put Kai back down, go back to bed

6:40 – awaken to the sound of Evan wondering where Ben is despite the fact that Ben is never here when he wakes up, snuggle with Evan for a few minutes

6:45 – put Jake and the Neverland Pirates on for Evan, go back to sleep for 10 more minutes

6:55 – get in the shower

7:05 – Kai wakes up, prop him on the bed next to E

7:10 – ask E to go to the potty, my assistance is requested, help him and then get him dressed

7:15 – get Evan settled in on the couch with another show (PJ Masks – his newest obsession) and a frozen waffle, go back upstairs to finish getting ready

7:25 – get diapers out of dryer, get Kai dressed

7:30 – nurse Kai

7:45 – gather bottles, diapers, lunch, snacks, etc and load the car up with our numerous bags

7:58 – get shoes and socks on Evan

8:02 – get the boys in the car and leave

8:03 – put on Let It Go at Evan’s request, sing along with him really loudly

8:08 – drop Evan off at preschool

8:35 – drop Kai off at daycare

8:50 – arrive at work, make tea, start working

9 – work on a brief that is due at 5pm (court just requested it the day before)

10:00 – pump

10:20 – keep working on the brief, discuss details about refinancing our house with Ben via gchat, and email with law school about student loans

11:45 – hand brief over to boss for his review/edits

12 – go to lunch at local pizza place

1 – back to the office to pump

1:15 – work on a few other matters

2:00 – review another motion that needs to be filed today and email with co-counsel

3:30 – get brief back from boss to review, pump for the last time

3:45 – realize none of boss’ changes were saved, spend 10 minutes unsuccessfully trying to find his file

4:00 – leave boss in his office to recreate the work he did all afternoon, fend off anyone who tries to interrupt him

4:35 – review final draft of brief and send it on the assistant to file

4:55 – brief is filed with 5 minutes to spare

5:10 – leave the office

5:11 – receive the other side’s brief (which was also due at 5)

5:20 – pick up Kai, learn that he was given a bottle just before 5 which is kind of annoying but manageable

5:50 – get home and find Ben and E playing outside, go in and change

6:00 – sit down to dinner (lasagna that Ben cooked)

6:30 – change Kai, take E to the potty, head back outside with the boys while Ben goes to teach his college class, email with boss, go for a walk with Kai in the ergo and Evan on his scooter, meet a gorgeous German Shepherd puppy named Zelda along the way

7:00 – head inside to nurse Kai, read books with E while nursing, email a bit more

7:17 – give E the option of getting ready for bed or reading books by himself while I put Kai to bed. He reads. Put Kai to bed.

7:30 – get E ready for bed (potty, pajamas, brush teeth, wash face), read books with E, say goodnight

7:50 – head downstairs, scald pumped milk, put dishes away, do bottle dishes, load dishwasher

8:30 – chat with Ben when he gets home

8:40 – take a shower while Ben finishes the dishes and cleans the kitchen

8:55 – read the brief the other side filed and explain the ridiculous of this case to Ben

9:00 – put on The Walking Dead and eat ice cream, pause it in the middle to discuss refinance numbers again because I guess that’s what adults do

10:00 – head upstairs and get ready for bed

10:10 – climb into bed and nurse Kai while watching The Office

10:35 – put Kai down, climb into bed, watch more of The Office, switch to The Vampire Diaries when Ben falls asleep

11ish – go to sleep, hope I don’t get woken up by Kai until at least 3

It turns out that having a nursing babe and a preschooler and a job is a bit of work. But I’ve figured out my routines and Ben has figured out his and we’re managing quite well, I think. But, I can’t figure out when to fit in reading and exercise. It’s all audiobooks and weekend runs for the foreseeable future. I’m told it gets easier. I like to believe people when they tell me that.