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?

Teaser Tuesdays

“I do not know how it feels to be thrown into a lake of fire. I am sure it isn’t pleasant. But I can say with all certainty that walking the length of a ballroom with a book upon one’s head and a back-board strapped to one’s back while imposioned in a tight corset, layers or petticoats, and shoes that pinch is a form of torture even Mr. Alighieri would find too hideous to document in his Inferno

– Page 7 of The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray

[I cheated again this week and used more than 2 sentences.]

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Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!

Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

The Day We Changed the World

(Sorry, 2 non-book-related posts in a row.  I promise the next one will be about books)

Ben and I just spent the last 2 hours watching By The People in honor of the historic anniversary that is November 4.  For those of you who are new to my blog, I was a Field Organizer for the Obama Campaign during the general election.  For 3 months, I lived and breathed Barack Obama.  I went home only to get a few hours of sleep and I think I saw my husband less than I did when we lived in different parts of the country.  But watching this documentary reminded me why I did it and why I would do it over if I had the chance (possibly with some Xanax nearby).  In honor of the anniversary, I’m reposting my thoughts from after the election last year.  I wrote this on November 9. 2008 and the original post can be found here.

So…we won!  Barack Obama is our next president.  And we won Florida and Pinellas County – both of which went for George Bush four years ago.  I couldn’t have asked for more.  All I want to do is stare at the little blue Florida and the little blue Pinellas county all day.

I am extremely glad that I had the opportunity to be a part of something so important.  The last 3 months definitely had its ups and downs.  Some times, I was curled up on the office floor crying out of exhaustion and anxiety.  Other times, I was having the time of my life.  I met so many amazing people – co-workers, volunteers, community members.  I am going to remember this forever.  It could possibly be the biggest thing that I am ever a part of.

Here is what Joe Klein had to say in Time magazine about us:

Indeed, there are — an army of them, untold thousands of young organizers operating out of more than 700 offices nationwide. And they have delivered a message to Rudy Giuliani, who sneered during the Republican National Convention that he didn’t even know “what a community organizer is.” This is who they are: they are the people who won this election. They were the heart and soul and backbone of Barack Obama’s victory. They are destined to emerge as the next significant generation of American political operatives — similar to the antiwar and antisegregation baby boomers who dominated the Democratic Party after cutting their teeth on the Bobby Kennedy and Eugene McCarthy campaigns of 1968, similar to the pro-life, antitax Reaganauts who dominated the Republican Party and American politics from the election of 1980 … until now. They are a preview of the style and substance of the Obama Administration.

I am glad to get back to my life.  Back to friends, family, reading, ballet, and everything else.  But I am also terrified because I have no idea what comes next.  I have to choose which direction to take my life now.  For now, I’m trying to remember how to relax and enjoy our success.  I’m going on a trip up north in a few days with some of my fellow organizers and seeing my dad in Boston and my family in Michigan.  So I guess I can put off some of these decision for a few weeks.

When I start getting nervous, I just try to remember everything that I have done so far and how much we actually accomplished here. We elected the president.  Kind of a big deal.

I’m looking forward to catching up with all of you.  I missed you all the last 3 months.

Back to realtime Michelle.

That chapter of my life is over.  I am still involved in the campaign world to a lesser degree, but I have moved on with my life.  I will never forget those 3 months, the people I met, the friendships I made, the lessons I learned.  I am so thankful that I got to be a part of Obama’s story and I can’t wait to see what he does the next 3 (7?) years.

Is it 2012 yet?

Hello World. It’s Me Again.

For the past 2 1/2 years I’ve been blogging over at http://michellen.vox.com.  I loved vox and it was a great place to get started.  But I want more out of my blog now so I’m moving over to here.  I hope I don’t lose any of my vox readers and I will continue to check back there and read and comment on their posts.  For the time being, I will either cross-post to both places or provide a link to my wordpress posts on vox.  I will most likely start moving all of my old posts over, but that will be a slow process and I don’t have the patience to do that first.

It may seem like I made this decision suddenly, but I’ve been debating it for quite some time and once I got started, I just decided to do it.

Anyway, this blog will focus on the books I read and my thoughts on them.  I will not commit to not ever discussing any other subjects, but I am going to try to keep this focused.  I’m looking forward for a refreshing new start and I hope you all enjoy reading it.

Michelle