January 2020

A few weeks ago, my husband asked me if we really needed to keep budgeting for this blog. It doesn’t cost me much at this point. I no longer self-host it and I have gotten it down to the cheapest version I can without giving up my domain. But it’s still something, so the question was valid.

So I considered my options.

I could keep it as is. I could switch it to a totally free site where it could live a life of retirement. I could let it go completely and shut it down.

All of these options made me sad. Blogging was a big part of my life for a long time. Other things have taken priority the last few years and none of my attempts to revive it have succeeded.

But I am going to try again anyway. I’m not ready to let it go and I think I have a good idea for how to give it some life again.

I am going to share one post a month, that is a sort of wrap-up of sorts. It will talk a little about my books and a little about my books. I’ll share what I read that night and my favorite photos from the month. I may share what the kids have been up to, our travels, or our newest television obsession.

So, here’s January.

Books Read This Month

My reading was a all over the place, but that keeps things interesting. I finished four books in January. Ben and I listened to Leah Remini’s Troublemaker on a road trip. We have a thing where we listen to celebratory memoirs together and, because we live with the Church of Scientology here with us in Clearwater, we have a heightened interest in that topic. The Testaments by Margaret Atwood was also an audiobook and I highly recommend listening to this one if you haven’t read it yet. Aunt Lydia is Aunt Lydia. It’s amazing. The Assassin’s Blade is Sarah J. Maas‘ collection of prequels in the Throne of Glass series. These ones always take me ages to read but I really do enjoy them. I am looking forward to jumping into the 4th book in the series soon. Finally, I finished up Blind Spot: Hidden Biases of Good People by researchers Mahzarin R. Banaji & Anthony G. Greenwald, which was a group read for a diversity and inclusiion committee I am on. It was pretty enlightening to face my own biases as I read. I also started a lot of audiobooks but couldn’t manage to finish them so I’ll be saving those for future monthly wrap-ups.

What Else Happened in January

Evan (7) competed in his first karate tournament. He took a silver in weapons, a bronze in kata, and…a DQ in sparring. We’re all still learning.

No big milestones for Kai (4), unless you count unsuccessfully building his first terrarium. Again, we’re all still learning.

As for me, for some reason I decided to sign up for a half marathon in March, so I’ve just been running, running, running. But Ben and I did manage to get away for a few days in January. We attended CampFi outside of Gainesville. And we did it without the kids (thanks, mom). It was a nice way to spend the weekend and celebrate 15 years of marriage.

What We Are Looking Forward To In February

  • February brings a lot of visitors, including two sets of my aunts and uncles and Ben’s sister and her family.
  • Ben’s first half marathon
  • Another karate tournament in Fort Pierce
  • Mean Girls at the Straz
  • Warm weather
  • Evan’s first track meet
  • (I really need to find some things for Kai, huh)

Thanks for reading, friends. See you next month. Until then, you can, as always, find me on twitter and instagram (@michelleerin on both).

My Kids Are Bigger Now

When I last left you all in 2017, I had a 4-year-old and 1-year-old. They looked like this:

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Well, they’ve grown up a bunch and are so much different now! Let me share a bit.

Evan

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Evan is 6.5 and in first grade. He’s come a long way since I announced his birth on this blog! He is a very bright child and full of energy. He has some developmental challenges (mostly in the social-emotional area) so life is often busy with things other kids don’t really have to worry about, like social skills classes and therapies of sort, ON TOP OF the normal kid things he does. He started karate in the fall and has really taken to it, earning his yellow, orange, and now junior blue belt in that short amount of time. It’s a good fit for him (a lot of adults in the room to keep him focused, little waiting, lots of action) and we love his dojo, which is teaching respect and compassion alongside karate (think more Mr. Miagi and less Cobra Kai). He is currently playing basketball at the Y and has played on a few different soccer teams. He wants to do everything (like his mama) so it’s more a matter of finding the right balance with him than figuring out what he wants to do. He loves math, Pokemon, video games, and is becoming a big board/card game fan, with Exploding Kittens and Sushi Go being his current faves. He’s learning to be a great reader and, while we still love reading to him, it’s so exciting to have him read to us now.

Kai

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Kai is 3.5. My super chill baby/toddler has morphed into a somewhat challenging threenager, but he’s still mostly the happiest kid on the planet. He is actually at the elementary school already in the Pre-K 3 room. Y’ALL, one drop off is AMAZING. He will do VPK there next year as well. He loves to draw, play teacher, and follow his big brother around. He is super sweet and caring. His combination of cheeks and hair and charm mean that everyone has probably not said no to him enough in life and now we are facing those consequences. But he greets me every morning with an enthusiastic “good morning, mommy” so I’ll keep him around.  It’s really fun now that he’s a real kid enjoying adventures with us and not  just along for the ride. He’s also come a long way since his birth announcement here.

Us

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Life is busy. We are tired. But I am hoping to be able to carve out some time to start posting here again, so we have plenty of time to catch up.

January 2019: Books Read

Hello. How have the last two years treated you? Mind if I jump back in here with a review of my January 2019 books without actually explaining my very long absence? No? Awesome. Let’s get started.

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I finished four books in January: three audio and one print. My goal this year was just to read two books per month so I’m well ahead of my desired pace.

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Under the Never Sky | Veronica Rossi | audio | 3 stars

Aria lives in a dome, where humans have been perfected and most people spend their time in virtual worlds. Perry lives on the outside, where survival is threatened by ether storms and tribal wars. Their worlds unexpectedly collide and they find themselves unlikely allies.

This one was…fine. I’ve read a lot of dystopian literature and it still felt unique. It had a lot of adventure and I really liked Aria and Perry, as well as many of the secondary characters. I was not blown away, but I was intrigued enough to prioritize this one over some podcasts.

Unfortunately, I did not feel like the narrator fit the book at all. I almost switched to print, but decided to power through and if I continue with the series, I will likely switch to print. The story is told from two points of view, one 17 year old girl and one 18 year old boy. But Bernadette Dunne has a very mature voice and it just didn’t work for me. I also would have preferred two narrators for the two voices, but I know some people like the consistency of one narrator.

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Every Hear a Doorway | Seanan McGuire | audio | 5 stars

This was recommended to me by my sister in law (hey, my brother got married while I was away – let’s catch up some time). She and I have VERY similar reading taste and I always listen to her recommendations. I also have loved everything I’ve read by Mira Grant, which is Seanan McGuire’s pen name, so this was an easy sell.

I am not sure I can describe this story and do it justice. Nancy arrives at a boarding school after spending years in an alternate world she found through a doorway, Narnia-style. All of the other children have also returned from alternate worlds through other doors. Then one student dies which threatens the whole school.

Cynthia Hopkins was a fantastic narrator. I couldn’t stop listening.  The story was delightfully dark. I did speed it up a bit (sorry, narrators – a girl only has so much time in life) but I finished this one over the course of two days. I already have the second book downloaded and waiting for me on overdrive.

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The Immortalists | Chloe Benjamin | print | 3 stars 

The story follows 4 siblings through their lives after a psychic tells them what day they will die. As these siblings face hardships and challenges, it is hard to tell if they are facing the inevitable or if they are shaping their own lives.

This book and I had a tough relationship. I adored Simon’s story. ADORED it. I wish the whole book had been Simon’s story. Because the other three just couldn’t keep my attention after his story was finished.  I think I started this book in October and only just finished it in late January. It’s hard to read a book over that length of time and come away with a rave review. But I do know that others have loved this book.

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What If It’s Us | Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera | audio | 5 stars

This is the story of Arthur and Ben, who stumble upon each other in the post office one day and find themselves suddenly wrapped up in a charming and complicated love story.

If I could just read Becky Albertalli for the rest of my life, I think I’d be happy. I was probably grinning most of the time I was listening to this one. It’s just a great guy meets guy, big city story which deals with the pain of ending relationships, the balancing act of new romantic relationships with old friendships, and the challenges navigating discrepancies in wealth and life paths while still being hilarious and heartwarming and utterly lovable. I also love that one of the main characters has ADHD and it’s just casually referenced a few times without being the thing that defines him.

This audio was fantastic. I got my two separate narrators for the two separate viewpoints, like I prefer and with two high quality voice actors who fit their characters perfectly. I also loved Noah Galvin in Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock. He also replaced Ben Platt in Dear Evan Hanson for a few months which makes all of the Dear Evan Hanson references in the book even sweeter. Froy Gutierrez is new to me but I hope to hear much more from him in the future.

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How is your reading life going in 2019? Any stand outs so far?

And, yes. This my first blog post in two years. I am also updating the book lists. Let’s see what happens, okay?

January/February Books

Time for a check-in? (How are you? Me, I am slowly losing my mind, as evidenced by the fact that I named this post “January/March Books” and only caught it when I was changing the name of the permalink.)

So far this year, I’ve finished four books (I’m counting the March trilogy as one). I swear I read another audiobook but I can’t seem to place it if I did (I probably didn’t – my attention span prefers podcasts these days).

The Serpent King

The Serpent King was recommended to me by a bunch of people, but I finally got around to reading it when it was the Forever YA book club pick last month. None of these people adequately prepared me for what I was going to experience.

This book destroyed me. It completely wrecked me. I was uncontrollably sobbing in my bed for at least 70 pages of this thing. Y’all need to warn me about this. But keep sending me these kinds of recommendations. It reminds me that I do still love reading.

The Winner’s Crime

This is the second in the series. I am still intrigued enough to keep going but this one failed to hold my interest as well as the first. Middle books are hard to talk about…

Scrappy Little Nobody

Ben and I listened to this one on the long drive back from Michigan on New Year’s Day. We like listening to books like this on drives like that. Now that E is older, we usually reserve it for when he is sleeping or firmly entrenched in a show on his tablet. We both like Anna Kendrick and enjoyed her self-deprecating approach to storytelling in this book.

March

So this book turned out to be timely. I started reading it the weekend I traveled to DC for the Women’s March and I finished it during black history month (all while our democracy is being pushed to its limits). This was inspiring and should be read by everyone.

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What is your favorite read so far this year?

…Hi?

*peeks out*

Hi, guys. Um, it’s been awhile.

2016 sort of got away from me. I won’t lament the year like so many have done. It wasn’t terrible for me personally. Sure, I’m a bit terrified for the future of our apparently-fragile republic and saddened over the passing of a few too many public figures, but neither of those are why I stopped blogging.

I just got busy.

Around the same time that I had Kai, I am pretty sure the world started spinning faster and the hours in the day actually shortened. Life with one kid wasn’t easy, but I still seemed to find time to do the things I loved. But life with two kids? Nope. I wake up, I drop off kids, I go to work, I pick up kids, I pick up toys, and suddenly it is time for bed so I can rest up and do it all again the next day. And weekends aren’t any better.  I don’t even want to know what happens when you have a third baby. Do parents of 3+ kids even sleep? I doubt it.

Well, I like sleep. So I gave up on the blog. And, honestly, it seemed silly to keep up the guise of a book blog when I was barely reading (see previous paragraph). And it felt good to let myself off the hook and not feel guilty about not blogging.

But I miss it.

I miss having a place to share my thoughts. Twitter is fine, but 140 characters only gets you so far and everyone just wants me to call my congressman (spoiler: Gus Bilirakis is never going to do what I want). Instagram is still my favorite form of social media, but it’s hard to get out more than a sentence or two. Facebook is still basically the worst, so that’s out. It was always my blog where I could say what I wanted, when I wanted, and sometimes people listened without trying to get their own agenda out in front of mine.

So I am going to see what happens if I let myself give this another try. I will talk about books if I ever find myself reading them.I might share some photos if I ever pick up my camera again. I may talk about politics (y’all should really call your representatives) or work (oh, btw, I just started a new law firm), and I will most definitely talk about my kids.

I don’t know if anyone is still reading this thing or if anyone even noticed that I was gone. But I hope to reconnect with some old friends and try to find my voice again. We’ll see what happens.

The Sunday Salon [5.1.16]: What I’ve Been Reading

My “book blog” has not discussed books in two months, so I figured I’d at least pop on by and let you all know what I’ve been reading. Frankly, I’ve not done much reading at all in the two months since I posted my February recap (which seemed so promising). In March, I decided to do a daily yoga challenge so my daily reading resolution went right out the window (apparently I cannot accomplish two daily commitments at a time) and then it stayed away in April when life suddenly felt even busier than usual.

I’ve been reading my current print book (Illuminae) for at least two months (I know I’ve renewed it twice from the library) and I am only on page 200. I got through a few audiobooks but then I gave up on those in favor of podcasts the last few weeks because (a) I haven’t bothered to move any from itunes to my phone and (b) my brain is too tired for a full book.

So, since you last saw me, I have finished three audiobooks and two comic books:

An Ember in the Ashes | Sabaa Tahir | audio | 4 stars

This was the Forever YA book club book in February. I wasn’t sure about it when I first read the description but I ended up really liking it. I was a bit disappointed to learn it is the first in a series but I will definitely be reading on.

After You | Jojo Moyes | audio | 4 stars

I read Me Before You in print but I knew I’d get to the follow-up sooner in audio so I switched to that medium. I didn’t really think that I needed a follow-up but Jojo Moyes sucked me back into Louisa’s world and made me see that I did.

Who’s ready for the movie?

Descender (Vol. 1) | Jeff Lemire | print | 4.5 stars

Many thanks to SuziQOregon for the recommendation on this oneIt was just what I needed to feel like I accomplished something while being thoroughly entertained. I am eagerly anticipating volume 2 in a few weeks.

The Girl Who Stopped Swimming | Joshilyn Jackson | audio | 4 stars

The latest in my quest to read everything Joshilyn Jackson has written did not leave me disappointed. I highly recommend reading Jackson’s books in audio as she reads them herself and makes for a wonderful southern storyteller.

Ms. Marvel: Generation Why (Vol. 2) | G. Willow Wilson & Jacob Wyatt/Adrian Alphona | print | 3.5 stars

I am still trying to figure out if I like comics but this one keeps me entertained enough to keep going. 

*****

What have YOU all been reading? Let me live vicariously through you until my kids are in college and/or I win the lottery.

The Sunday Salon.com