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?

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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?

The Sunday Salon [9.13.15]

It’s about time for me to check in here and give a quick update and promise to be back someday, right?

Well, no promises of being back are going to be found in this post. I am back to work in a few days and I think I’ll be lucky to find time to brush my teeth, let alone blog. But we’ll see.

So…yeah. Back to work. Can you believe it? I blinked and 12 weeks went by. Kai is an awesome little baby. He rarely cries, he smiles and coos whenever he is awake, and he sleeps from 10-7 with only one wakeup in between most nights. I’m not ready to leave him, but I’ve grown accustomed to food and shelter, so back to work I go (I actually like the work I do, I just wish I could do it AND be with Kai – have it all, right?). 

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I didn’t read as much during this maternity leave. There was a three-year-old to parent and netflix to watch, so the books took a backseat. Since I last talked about what I was reading in August, I finished Everything Leads to You and A Dangerous Place. I also finished The Woman Who Died a Lot and Landline. Maybe I’ll post my thoughts on them someday. I am currently reading Belzhar and pondering my next audio (maybe the new Judy Blume?).

I am off to watch Evan play soccer this morning. I hope you all have a lovely day. 

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PS – Excuse the large images. This is the smallest I can get them. If anyone would like to let me in on resizing images in WordPress. I’ve been lost since an update changed things awhile back.

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Organizing All the Toys

I saw Trish’s Inspiration on Monday link-up and, like many of the fun things that Trish posts about, I decided that was something I should try and it fits in well with my latest past time. I have been in the midst of a pretty hardcore decluttering of the house lately (despite being forever on the waiting list for The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up). I’ve donated bags and boxes of clothes and games and household goods. I’ve recycled nostalgia. I’ve tossed broken things I’m never going to fix.

But one area that I have not yet decluttered is kids toys and books. 8.5 months pregnant means I’m not in the right state of mind to get rid of kids’ stuff. Instead, I’ve just re-organized it.

I find that making sure everything has a home is the key to keeping the mess under control. Lots of baskets and bins and dedicated shelves. I like having toys and books accessible around the house instead of confined to one room (I think my room, the kitchen, and the bathrooms are the only toy-free areas). My house in the middle of a Saturday afternoon looks like a colorful war zone. But by Saturday night, we’ve generally picked it all up. And it doesn’t even take that long.

So, here is what my toy organization looks like.

LIVING ROOM

My greatest creation:

“HALLWAY” & DINING ROOM

WEIRD SPOT AT THE TOP OF THE STAIRS

EVAN’S ROOM (I actually like keeping this pretty toy-free)

PLAYROOM/GUESTROOM

And, just in case you felt bad that everything was actually picked up, this was the state of my back porch the morning I took photos.

So, what is your toy/book strategy? Do you corral them all into one room, close the door, and stay away? Do you allow the toys to take over the house? Do you take the minimalist approach and limit the amount of kids stuff that comes in the house?

Happy Birthday, E [Wordless Wednesday]

Evan is three!

And we are almost four!

This photo confirms two things: (1) I am HUGE and (2) Evan is physically incapable of standing still for more than .8 seconds at a time.

For Evan’s first and second birthday I hired a photographer to come to the house, do a family shoot, and then stick around and photograph the birthday party. It seems extravagant, but I love photos and I was afraid that if I were responsible for them, I wouldn’t enjoy the party. Plus, it was a good halfway point in the year to update the family photos. But this year, given our tighter budget, I forwent the photographer. And the results are pretty disappointing. I have very few photos and most of the ones I have are terrible. It makes me sad. I am glad that I enjoyed the party, but I wish I had a few more photos to share with you all and with our family who couldn’t be there.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books Into Movies

I’m jumping into Top Ten Tuesday today. Because why not.

These are the top ten books/series that I would like to see developed into movies. Now, I live under a rock (with many other working parents of small children) and it is very possible that some (or all) of these are already movies in the making (or were released last weekend).

Newsflesh Trilogy

Hands down the best zombie story I know. And yes, I am including The Walking Dead.

Lunar Chronicles

I am pretty sure I lose people at the words “lunar people and cyborgs,” but words cannot express my love of this series.

Maisie Dobbs series

Perhaps this would make a better series. PBS, probably. There isn’t nearly enough sex and violence for HBO.

Daughter of Smoke & Bone series

Again, I lose people when I start talking about epic chimera and angel wars. But I’m pretty sure that could make some pretty rad movie scenes.

Across the Universe series

This is the end of human civilization movie the current human civilization is missing.

The Selection series

If The Bachelor can still be on the air (is The Bachelor still on the air?) then this could surely succeed at the box office.

Night Film

This would make such a great movie. It even has the word film in the title.

The Illusion of Separateness

I feel like this one would make an excellent Focus Features film.

Shade series

I adore this series. And I want to see all the kissing on the big screen.

Beautiful Ruins

Beautiful scenery + beautiful people + beautiful story = beautiful movie.

The Sunday Salon [5.31.15] – The Home Stretch

Tomorrow marks the beginning of June and 36 weeks of pregnancy for me.

Someone just told me it seems like I’ve been pregnant forever. And, while I can’t imagine what would possess someone to say that to me, I have to agree. This pregnancy has felt long. It has been mostly unpleasant and I’m done. I really am thankful that I am still pregnant (unlike a lot of other people I know who recently had their babies early) and I need to make it 37 weeks to deliver at my birth center. But this baby can come anytime he wants after next Monday.

Thank you to everyone who left book recommendations on my last post. I still have no desire to read but I’m hoping that changes once the baby is here. I miss reading.

Life has remained busy. Evan just turned three and we threw him a superhero party to celebrate.

He also finished up his first year of preschool and is looking forward to summer camp (although we’ll both be home, we are sending him part time all summer). Ben is wrapping up his school year and I’m wrapping up my work before my maternity leave begins. My mom will be here in just a few weeks (she’s trying to make it for the birth but, as mentioned above, I not-so-secretly won’t mind if he comes before that).

June is sure to be an exciting month around here.

Unless this baby waits until July to make his debut.

*cries at the thought*

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The Sunday Salon [5.10.15]

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you out there. Those of you currently nursing a baby, those of you busy chauffeuring your kids to soccer practice and ballet, those of you waiting for your grown children to call you, those of you anxiously awaiting the arrival of your little one, and those of you who still hope to be mothers one day. Happy Mother’s Day to all of you.

My boys have spoiled me this weekend by giving me some time to myself, so I am actually able to sit down and write this blog post.

This pregnancy has not been terribly comfortable for me, so I haven’t felt like reading or blogging or doing much else than watching Netflix or wasting time on BabyCenter. But I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I have about 7 weeks or so until our little guy arrives. I haven’t done much prepping (poor second child), other than setting up the crib and changing table in my bedroom. I should probably wash some baby clothes one of these days. And figure our what we’re going to name him.

Evan will be 3 later this week. While this is hard for me to believe, I am having fun planning his superhero party. I am trying to go a little less crazy this year, but I just love birthdays and party planning so much. Damn, Pinterest.

Other than that, I am just working and parenting and going about life as normal as possible, just 30 pounds heavier and with a few more aches and pains.

I’ll try to be back with some bookish talk one of these days.

The Sunday Salon.com