Fall has begun with its lovely, crisp, cool air here in the Midwest. A few of our trees have started to change, but nothing major quite yet. The temperatures are absolutely gorgeous, though; it’s been in the mid-60’s for a few weeks now, our windows are open, the heat isn’t on yet, and it’s straight-up hoodie weather. I’m loving it.
The reading is sloooooooooooooooowwwwww right now, though. Homeschooling my daughter takes up as much time as a full-time job, and then there’s all the cooking, cleaning, running errands, and planning that I need to do in order to make life run, and I’m barely getting any reading done right now, let alone posting reviews. I am currently SO far behind in writing reviews, it’s so bad. We’re also smack in the middle of the High Holidays, so I’ve had stuff to do because of that, which I’m grateful for. Doing my best, though, and that’s all I can do!
3. History Smashers: The Mayflower by Kate Messner (no review; read out loud to my daughter)
4. Tillly and the Book Wanderers by Anna James (no review; read out loud to my daughter)
5. Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family by Robert Kolker (review to come)
6. Repairing the World by Linda Epstein (review to come)
7. Button Pusher by Tyler Page (review to come)
8. Miracles and Menorahs by Stacey Agdern (review to come)
9. Why We Fly by Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal (review to come)
10. Last Chance for Magic by Ruth Chew (no review, read out loud to my daughter)
11. The Ladies Auxiliary by Tova Mirvis (review to come)
12. Heretics!: The Wondrous (and Dangerous!) Beginnings of Modern Philosophy by Steven Nadler (review to come)
13. The Vicious Vikings by Terry Deary (no review; read out loud to my daughter)
14. Not a Crime to Be Poor: The Criminalization of Poverty in America by Peter Edelman (review to come)
15. You’re the Only One I’ve Told: The Stories Behind Abortion by Dr. Meera Shah (review to come)
Told you I was behind! That’s what you get when you homeschool a kiddo like my daughter. I want her to have the best education possible, and that means dedicating basically all day long to her (she has ADHD and struggles with focusing, so it’s a LOT of work!). I’m going to work to get caught up this weekend, though. I should be able to knock a bunch of reviews out!
In terms of sheer numbers, however, this isn’t too bad, and is likely a lot higher than it’ll be next month, I’m guessing. Four read out loud to my daughter; three graphic novels. I’m not counting every book I read to/with my daughter for school, but I will count the ones I really enjoyed, and I’ll continue to count the ones I read to her at bedtime (The Vicious Vikings ended up a bedtime book, though it was on our school list, per my daughter’s request!). Kate Messner’s History Smashers: The Mayflower was excellent and a really fun read!
Ten of these books came from my TBR.
State of the Goodreads TBR
So, last month, we started off at 131. I read ten books from my TBR this month, so let’s do the math…*counts on fingers, carries the one* 132 books!
Hmph. Book math.
Books I Acquired in September 2022
None! Phew. I acquired a LOT of books over the summer, so a no-books month is a good thing. Kinda.
Current Podcast Love
Still listening to, and really enjoying, You’re Wrong About. I learn so much about a variety of different topics, and I really enjoy the banter between the hosts. Highly recommended!
Stephanie’s Read Harder Challenge
Still trying to figure out how to fit this into our new schedule. Maybe as the homeschool year progresses, I’ll be able to fit it in during the day. Last year, I was having my daughter read for 30 minutes at the end of each day, and I was doing this with her, but now, she reads so much more that I don’t need to schedule a reading time for her (and I usually segue right into making dinner when school is done!). Maybe when she’s mastered cursive (which is what we do to finish up the school day), we’ll have time to fit some extra quiet reading in…
Real Life Stuff
Shanah tovah and g’mar chatima tovah! Rosh Hashanah was last week; Yom Kippur is this week (and they’re followed in quick succession by Sukkot and Simchat Torah. If you know a rabbi, give them a break and maybe a gift card for a restaurant, because they’re exhausted this time of year!). I’ll still be attending services virtually; I’m not comfortable in huge crowds right now – who knows if I’ll ever be – so that’ll change our school schedule around a bit for that day. Not much, fortunately; Wednesday is our easy day, where we do art and music, so I’m grateful for that. I do love the High Holidays and the introspection they require.
While we’ve missed two weeks of counseling appointments thanks to COVID showing up at our counselor’s house, I have to say that taking my daughter to a counselor has helped a LOT. School has gone well for three straight weeks, with only minor foibles here and there. While I’m still running around like a headless chicken trying to get everything done, my stress levels are down considerably, now that she doesn’t fight me over every. single. thing. It’s a huge relief, and I’m SO glad I made the decision to take her back in the spring.
Not really much else going on! It’s school, cooking, cleaning, errands, and a little bit of reading here the end of every day. I’m trying my best to sneak in some exercise here and there, but that’s not always easy when my schedule is always so jam-packed. Walks are especially lovely right now, with the cooler fall temperatures!
Wishing you all a pleasant October, full of crisp air, colorful leaves, and a stack of excellent books!
Happy February! One month of 2021 down, eleven more to go!
What a strange, strange month- but are there any other kinds these days? It started off with frightening political stuff and has ended…kind of calmly, or what passes for calm these days. We had our first major snowfall here a few days ago, sending all the kids in my daughter’s class to virtual learning for the day. This was followed by another storm system, blanketing our town with almost a foot of snow on top of what was already there! There’s little I love more than watching the snow fall; it’s so peaceful, though I worried like crazy about my husband driving home from the city in that mess during the first system. It sure is pretty, though.
As far as reading goes, although my numbers weren’t anything crazy, I’m extremely proud of the books I’ve read this month, and I’ll get into the why of that. But suffice it to say, January hasn’t been too bad around here. We’re all healthy, I’ve taken up a new hobby (if you can call it that…), and we’re managing. That’s all we can ask for these days, I think!
14. Citizen 865: The Hunt for Hitler’s Hidden Soldiers in America by Debbie Cenziper (review to come)
Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! I’m SUPER happy with the quality of the books I’ve completed this month. While my numbers aren’t impressive, the amount of pages I’ve read are pretty great- two of the books I read were over five hundred pages, which is amazing for me lately. I’ve shied away from the longer, more comprehensive books this past year because my brain just couldn’t handle it, but this month, I dove right in. Seven fiction, seven nonfiction. I really love nonfiction but read so much fiction last year because I just couldn’t focus on serious things (and there’s nothing wrong with fiction at all! I just really, really love nonfiction and it hurts when I can’t focus on it), but I think I’ve evened out a little and can handle it better. Plus I’m only doing the reading challenge with my parenting group (12 books; I’ve completed six of them so far), so I’m able to read more from my TBR and my own shelves. I feel really great about the quality of the books I’ve read this month and that makes me really happy.
Reading Challenge Updates
Only my parenting group challenge to worry about, which is honestly a relief. I love reading challenges for how they push me and expand my reading world, but I really needed a break this year. Six of the books I’ve read this month- Grown, My Basmati Bat Mitzvah, Stamped From the Beginning, An American Summer, Hollywood Park, and Turtle Boy were from this challenge AND from my TBR. That’s a win on all fronts!!! The only prompt here for which I’m not sure what I’ll read is the one that prompts you to read a book from a genre you never read. I’m thinking maybe a book of short stories, since I generally steer clear of those. If anyone has any suggestions here, I’m all ears! (Or, uh, eyes? Since I’m reading this? Not sure how that saying works when it comes to text…)
State of the Goodreads TBR
187 last month- down to 181 this month! I’ve been reading from my TBR and my own shelves, so hopefully this will start dropping faster! (If I can keep from piling the books onto it, that is!) Ten of this month’s books came from my TBR.
Books I Acquired in January 2021
None! I’m staying out of the stores thanks to the new variants of Covid, and I don’t usually order books online unless they’re something I need (and it’s too cold to walk to any of the Little Free Libraries near me!).
Bookish Things I Did in January 2021
The library had a presentation by some local musicians on the music of the Vietnam War, so I attended that virtually. Super fun!
Our library is open again for browsing, but I’ve stuck to just requesting and picking up instead of going in. A librarian friend of mine pointed out that libraries’ air filtration systems really aren’t meant to handle a virus like this, so if I can be one fewer person to add to the system’s stress, then so be it. I may go in early one day and grab some books for my daughter, but ONLY if there aren’t many people in there- but we’ll see. So far, she’s making do with what I’m able to order and pick up. 😊
Current Podcast Love
More of the same this month. Still making my way through Judaism Unbound with Dan Libenson and Lex Rofeberg. And while I bike, I’m listening to the Leaving Eden podcast with Gavriel Ha’Cohen and Sadie Carpenter. I cannot recommend this one highly enough. It’s about Sadie’s experiences leaving the Independent Fundamental Baptist cult (similar to the Duggar Family’s ATI group, but different). Sadie and Gavriel are both extremely intelligent, thoughtful, and fun; they balance the heavier issues with lighter episodes that keep me laughing out loud as I work out. I really enjoy this one a lot.
Stephanie’s Read Harder Challenge
On hold until life goes back to normal. I did read two books from my own shelves this month, though! Progress!
Real Life Stuff
Not a bad month, with the exception of the drama of January 6th. I skipped reading that day and my son and I stayed glued to the news and our devices. Not something I ever thought I would see in my lifetime, and I hope to never see it again, though I’m not holding my breath in this political climate.
I’ve been trying to focus more on reading these days instead of doom scrolling, and it’s working well so far. My daughter’s managing the second half of first grade just fine; my son’s new classes haven’t started up yet, so he’s mostly just hanging out and working on other projects (and spending a lot of time online, of course- what else is there to do?).
In December, I realized how much SITTING I’ve been doing and decided that needed to change. I started doing yoga every day, then started adding in some cardio as well- usually riding my exercise bike that I keep in a corner of the bedroom or doing a workout video on YouTube if the living room is free (it usually isn’t). A friend started up a group for the YouTube Channel Yoga with Adriene’s 30 Day Breath program and I started participating in that- it’s a daily video, anywhere from 16-35 minutes of yoga, and after I finish that I get on my bike for 30 minutes. At night I do a 10-15 minute ab/lower body workout, and I’m happy to say that after five weeks, I started actually enjoying the workouts instead of just swearing all the way through them, haha! I just want to be healthy and still have my clothes fit when all of this is over (a new wardrobe would be expensive and I’m really not wanting to do that! Plus I LOATHE trying on clothes, ugh). The best part is that my right hip has stopped hurting so much. There used to be something in there that hurt all. the. time. Even my physical therapist couldn’t figure out what it really was or why, and none of the exercises she gave me ever helped, and whatever it was has been hurting for about five years. I got into pigeon pose the other day during yoga, which usually feels really good on that sore part of my hip, and I realized…it doesn’t hurt anymore. Not like it did. My lower back still hurts (especially today, sob), and my SI joints are still painful, but hey, ONE LESS THING!!!!!!!!!!
Still no vaccines on the horizon for us, so I’m just happy to hole up with my books and my workout videos and podcasts and waiting until it’s our turn!
What’s coming in February? I’ll have my Zoom Judaism classes, and then something I’ve been looking forward to since last year- Tara Westover, author of Educated, is making a virtual appearance thanks to our school district’s parent education group. She was supposed to be here in person but obviously that can’t happen, but I’m so excited to have this opportunity to hear her speak, and that she’s still doing this! That’s definitely something to look forward to. 😊 I have two other authors I *may* be able to hear speak virtually; check back in next month to see! 🙂
Stay warm and healthy this February, friends! Keep up the masking and social distancing; better days are ahead of us but only if we get there in one piece. Keep standing up for justice for all and staying true to who you are. And read on! May your February be filled with excellent reads and the love of excellent people. Be well, my friends.
Fare thee well, 2020, and may the door hit you twice on the way out. Let’s cross our fingers that 2021 will be a better year than…you know…whatever that mess was. *glances nervously behind me*
December started out to be about the slowest reading and blogging month I’ve had yet. Having far too much to do resulted in so little time to read- with a bit of a reprieve at the end. Yay, winter break! Not having much reading time grates on me, but there’s nothing to be done about it. I can’t create more time, and I can’t delegate any of the tasks I need to do, and I can’t create more quiet space for myself in the times where I’d like to read but can’t focus because it’s too loud in the house. (Even as I write this, I have 2348348932479832 things I need to get done today, including multiple errands that will take me out of the house, and the television is on across the room. Story of my life these days! At least no one is screaming.) Seriously, these vaccines cannot roll out fast enough, and I’d like to order one child-safe version so my daughter can go back to school in person for at least SOME of second grade next school year!
But if that’s my biggest complaint, I’m doing pretty great. A dear friend has had Covid and seems to have fallen into the long hauler category, and I’m worried about her, as well as her family member who isn’t doing well. So many others are struggling and suffering for so many reasons, and my frustrations pale in comparison.
Anyway. Let’s get this monthly roundup- small as it is!- started, shall we?
14. The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy (review to come)
I enjoyed most of what I read this month, so that’s great! The last three books came from my own shelves. Go me! Religious Literacy took me a long time to get through, solely because it was information-dense, which makes it more difficult for me to focus on (same for The Land of Truth). The Drawing Lesson made a MASSIVE difference in my drawings- I felt like it taught me so, so much, and I’ve been hearing the author in my head as I’ve been drawing with my daughter (you can see my latest drawings on my Instagram; there’s definitely been improvement!). What the Night Sings is still ringing in my head as well; it’s such a powerful, devastating, beautiful book, and I’m so glad I read it.
Now. Julie of the Wolves. Some of you probably remember this as a childhood classic. Maybe you even had to read it for school. (I never enjoyed books about nature when I was young, so I avoided it, and it never ended up on any of our lists at school.) I have a large book with all three books from the series crammed into one, and so I’m reading it to my daughter, and it hasn’t held up particularly well. My brilliant friend Sandy noted this in a better way than I ever could. Be sure to click on the review by Martha Stackhouse; she picks apart this book in an authoritative way and you shouldn’t miss that. Julie of the Wolves and the subsequent books in the series highlight the absolute necessity of the Own Voices movement, and my daughter and I are having plenty of conversations about the inaccuracies in the book and who gets to tell what stories as I read to her. She’s a huge fan of PBS’s Molly of Denali (highly recommended, especially the episode titled ‘Grandpa’s Drum.’ Get the tissues ready; I cry every time we watch this one). Huge thanks to Sandy for making me aware of the issues with these books before I started reading them to my daughter.
Reading Challenge Updates
I did manage to complete the 2020 PopSugar Reading Challenge earlier this year, a massive feat in this dumpster fire of a year, and I’m pretty proud of that. Here’s my final list:
Tada! I had to switch up some of the books I’d originally planned to read, simply because my access to other libraries was curtailed due to the pandemic. A bummer, but again, as far as problems go, not the worst to have. I’m just proud of being able to finish this one at all!
What’s next in terms of challenges for 2021? The only formal challenge I’ll be participating in this year is a challenge my longtime online parenting group is putting on. Twelve books, one book for every month (but they don’t have to be read in order and we can get through them at our own pace!), and the suggestions are fairly simple. I’m super excited about this! All my other reading will pingpong back and forth from my Goodreads TBR to my own shelves. I’m going to try to read one book from my own shelves for every book I read from the library, but we’ll see how that goes.
Something else I do throughout the year is keep track of where my books are set on my living room map of the world, by placing a marker on each country in which a book I read is set or about (each country gets only one peg, though I sometimes read multiple books set there). Here’s a (crummy) picture of how my map ended up this year:
I’m happy with all the books I read set in Asia and especially southern Asia; that was new for me this year. Europe is almost always featured heavily, but I definitely need to pick up the pace on South America and Africa! (I don’t necessarily try to vary the locations where my books are set; this is just how it ends up.) Who knows how things will go this year, with my reading looking different than other years due to being restricted to only one library.
State of the Goodreads TBR
From 176 last month to 187 this month! Those end-of-the-year book lists are killer!
Books I Acquired in December 2020
I don’t *think* I acquired any new books this month… I never receive books as holiday gifts, solely because I read so much that no one wants to take the chance of getting me a book I’ve already read, which is pretty smart!
Bookish Things I Did in December 2020
I’ve been able to attend several webinars via Zoom that clued me in to a few books I want to read, one on continuing Holocaust education and another on the future of Judaism now that it’s been forced to make a large digital leap (more on this below!). I so appreciate these opportunities to learn different things and, of course, find more great books to read!
Current Podcast Love
I’m still slowly making my way through Judaism Unbound with Dan Libenson and Lex Rofeberg. That second Zoom webinar I attended featured Dan Libenson as the main presenter, and it was fantastic to see and hear him in a different format than I usually do! He even referred to a few different episodes of the podcast, which I had actually listened to, which was kind of funny, because out of the several hundred people logged into this webinar, I was one of the few who was there due to the podcast (most of the rest were attending because of their association with the organization putting the webinar on). Dan and Lex are absolutely brilliant and sometimes I have a hard time keeping up with them because they’re so incredibly intelligent, but I learn a lot from this podcast and am really enjoying it.
I’ve also started exercising regularly, and on the days I use my exercise bike in the bedroom, I’ve been listening to the Leaving Eden podcast with Gavriel Ha’Cohen and Sadie Carpenter, about Sadie’s rejection of her IFB church upbringing (similar to, but with some differences from the Duggar family’s ATI cult group). It’s funny and heartbreaking and dark and intriguing as heck, and I cannot recommend this one highly enough if you’re interested in cults and niche religious movements.
Stephanie’s Read Harder Challenge
On hold until life goes back to normal.
Real Life Stuff
What a busy month! Lots of various holiday preparation and activities around here; studying for my Judaism class (which continues to be awesome and I love it so much). Lots of cleaning and organizing around the house. Lots of cooking (latkes!) and baking (cookies!) as usual. I was able to see my parents- masked, distanced, and standing apart on the front porch- briefly. I cut my daughter’s hair from almost waist-length to shoulder-length, and it’s so cute! (Both kids are rockin’ the mom cut right now!) I’ve started exercising recently in the hopes that at least *some* of my clothing will still fit when the pandemic is over and also in the hopes that my body will stop looking like a semi-melted candle. (A girl can dream, right?) My kids are enjoying this break from school and the exhaustion that is virtual learning- and so am I. It’s hard to be constantly monitoring my daughter’s behavior AND academic performance while also trying to get my own stuff done. COME ON, VACCINES FOR KIDS!!!!!!!!!!
What’s next for 2021? WHO KNOWS??????????? It’s hard to make any predictions about anything right now. I’ve made my peace with the fact that my daughter will be at home for all of first grade; it’s the safest thing for everyone right now, but I’m cautiously hopeful that she’ll see at least some of second grade in person. My husband and son and I will be jumping at the chance to get the vaccine when it’s offered to us (whenever that is!), as will the vast majority of our close family members. I’ve already had quite a few healthcare worker friends receive theirs and I’m beyond thrilled for them!!! There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how distant.
This will be a year of changes for me, in terms of conversion to Judaism (although the timeline on that depends on the pandemic, and that’s fine- pikuach nefesh, the preservation of human life, reigns supreme here and I’m happy to bide my time so that everything is done only when safe for everyone involved) and hopefully being able to get involved at my synagogue in-person. I’m seriously looking forward to that!
In terms of reading, I’m assuming this will be a slow year for the most part, and that’s okay. Nothing to be done about that. I’ll still set my Goodreads goal at 100 books like I do every year, and I *should* be able to meet that, but I highly doubt I’ll get anywhere near the 200-some books I read last year. I’ll consider it a massive win if I even get to 130, simply because I’m just so pressed for time. I wasn’t thrilled with a lot of my reading this year, and I realized that’s because in years when I’m happy with my reading, I skew heavily towards nonfiction, and this year I read way more fiction, solely because it’s easier for my brain to process (and that’s not a slam at people who solely read fiction. I love fiction; I just also really, really love learning new things and I like to put my brain to work! It makes up for all the rest of my life being about taking care of my kids and scrubbing the kitchen counter!).
This is a year of taking it one day at a time, I think. With so much up in the air, everything so uncertain, I’m just going to enjoy the days as they come, read and learn as much as I can, and keep on doing everything I can to keep life as even as possible for my family. I think that’s probably the most we can hope for until things settle down- and hopefully they will (although my heart is still shaken by the suicide bomber that blew up 2nd Street in Nashville. I lived in Metro Nashville for a year and moved out to the suburb we lived in for four, but I’ve walked that street many times, and it hurts to see photos of the devastation. America, what are you letting yourself become???).
I’m wishing you all a safe, healthy 2021. May your year be filled with good health, as much normalcy as we can create, and the beauty of fabulous books to carry us through the ups and downs. Be well, my friends.
Hello, hello, and welcome to Pandemic Month 478274983249372, or so it feels! I’ve been fairly terrible about blogging this month, and I apologize. My brain is just exhausted and it’s been difficult trying to cram in everything I need to get done every day, so some things are falling by the wayside- seriously, you should see my laundry pile. YIKES.
We’re still hanging in there at the Only-Very-Occasionally-At-The-Library Household (I’ve made, I think, three trips to the library this month? It’s been awesome). We had a socially distanced picnic with my mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and nephew; we let the kids run around but only when they were wearing masks (which they do with no complaints, unlike so many of the adults I see on FB, seriously, wtf guys, my daughter was running far enough and long enough to get sweaty while wearing a mask, I think you can handle it for a ten minute errand to pick up Old Spice deodorant at Walmart…), and that was pretty much our highlight of the month!
6. The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis (no review; read out loud to my daughter)
7. I Want You to Know We’re Still Here: A Post-Holocaust Memoir by Esther Safran Foer
8. Hostage by Guy Delisle
9. Ester and Ruzya: How My Grandmothers Survived Hitler’s War and Stalin’s Peace by Masha Gessen
10. Here We Are: American Dreams, American Nightmares by Aarti Namdev Shahani
11. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norman Juster (no review; read out loud to my daughter)
12. Roomies by Christina Lauren
13. Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren
14. Closer by Alexa Riley (no review; listened to the audiobook as I exercised. More on this below)
Many of the books I didn’t review fully were included in my mini-review post here. Somehow, when I was writing that post, Ester and Ruzya got left off, so let’s include that right now. Masha Gessen writes the story of her grandmothers surviving World War II and Stalin’s regime in Poland and Russia. It’s a bleak story starring two strong, determined women. I have a few other books by Ms. Gessen on my TBR and I’m looking forward to seeing how her storytelling style translates when it comes to less personal stories. Great book; difficult to read at times (more because of my mental exhaustion than anything).
Not a bad month for reading, all around. I’m finding I have a tougher time focusing on nonfiction right now; I’ve got what I’ve been referring to as ‘pandemic brain,’ where I’m just exhausted and can’t take in information quite as well. I’ve got an information-dense book going on right now that I began in the middle of the month, but I’ve had to cut it down to reading 25 pages a day and reading something lighter at night because I’m just too worn out. Such are these strange times, I guess.
The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis REALLY irritated me. The ending was just… Have you read it? My husband was in the room as I read the last few pages aloud and even he was like, “WTF…” I don’t know how much of it my daughter really got, but we were super weirded out, and now we’re always joking about Susan, that nylon-wearing tart. SUCH a strange way to end a series, and my daughter and I are so glad to be done with it.
Five books marked off my reading challenge! Speaking of which…
Reading Challenge Updates
I’m close to being done! Check out these bad boys:
I’m currently reading a book recommended by Smart Podcast, Trashy Books, the podcast from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books (plus I have another one on hold at the library!), so that’ll be checked off soon. I have a book by a journalist on hold as well; if it doesn’t come in after next month, I’ll maybe try to search for another one. And obviously I’m waiting to read a banned book, because Banned Books Week doesn’t come around until September. So, basically, lots of waiting going on around here. I’m glad to be mostly done with this, though I do miss the direction the 2020 PopSugar Reading Challenge gave me! 🙂
I’m holding off on the other challenges I was planning on participating in; my brain needs the break.
State of the Goodreads TBR
OY. 149 last month, 152 this month. Not a huge leap, but that’s because I knocked a few off of there this month, including Here We Are, Ester and Ruzya, How We Fight For Our Lives, and The Things a Brother Knows. I’m working on more, but I’ve strayed a few times because a lot of what’s on my TBR is heavier nonfiction and I simply cannot right this moment. Light and fluffy is winning.
Books I Acquired in July 2020
Bookish Things I Did in July 2020
I’ve made three (I think) library appointments so far. It’s been awesome having new books around for my daughter. We’re doing about 3 hours of school per day, and a huge chunk of that is us reading together or me reading to her. We finished up the Molly series of American Girl books and have moved on to Kit; Molly’s sacrifices as a child growing up during World War II, and Kit’s struggles during the Great Depression have helped my daughter understand about sacrifice and working together for the common good. They’re excellent examples of why we stay at home, and why we wear masks in the rare instances when we have to be out in public. Reading these stories really illustrates these concepts for my daughter, and I’m really enjoying reading them with her.
We’ve also been reading a lot of stories of people who fought against injustice and worked to improve life for people (mostly in the US right now, but not all). Malala Yousafzai, Coretta Scott King, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Marian Anderson, Lena Horne, Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Soujourner Truth, Billie Jean King, Jane Addams, Florence Mills, John Lewis, Gordon Parks, Fannie Lou Hamer, Rube Goldberg, Rosa Parks. There are *so* many interesting and beautifully illustrated biographies out there for kids, and I’m really enjoying using them to show my daughter what courage, dedication, sacrifice, and hard work look like.
I feel so fortunate that the library has at least partially opened again. 🙂
Current Podcast Love
I’m finishing catching up newer episodes of Smart Podcast, Trashy Books. I’ve listened to a few different episodes of a few different writing podcasts, but haven’t fallen in love with any of them yet (I used to love Writing Excuses, but as I usually listen to podcasts as I’m falling asleep, I need something just a little bit calmer! They’re hilarious!). I’ll keep hunting until I find one that appeals to me.
I also discovered Read Me Romance, a podcast hosted by Alexa Riley and Tessa Bailey (Alexa Riley is a team, like Christina Lauren, so this is actually three people!). The hosts chat for the first 10-20 minutes of the podcast, and the rest is an audiobook chapter or two from a romance novella (sometimes written by the hosts, sometimes other people). I’ve been listening both as I’m falling asleep and when I’m exercising, and it’s fun. 🙂
Stephanie’s Read Harder Challenge
Currently on hold.
Real Life Stuff
Oof. What a month. It wasn’t busy, but the weight of all of this *gestures broadly at everything* has really started to bear down on me. The amount of people not taking this virus seriously- how did so many people graduate high school, COLLEGE, EVEN, and lack a third-grade understanding of science and basic, BASIC civics education?!?!?!? HOW??? HOW ARE WE SUPPOSED TO HAVE A FUNCTIONING SOCIETY WITH THESE PEOPLE? I have truly lost every last bit of patience on social media and I’m not afraid to let my ire out these days. NO, COVID-19 isn’t the sniffles. NO, you cannot have your tax dollars back when your child graduates high school and you (so you think) no longer use the services of the public school system. NO, there’s not a magic cure for cancer that scientists don’t want you to know (do you think scientists don’t die of cancer???). I seriously cannot with these people anymore.
Life goes on around here. I’m missing my family an awful lot these days, which adds to my frustration when people are out there being stupid- they’re being stupid and those of us taking this seriously are stuck staying away from our loved ones even longer. It’s like we’re being held hostage by the dumbest people out there, and it makes me angry and sad. I do my best to keep it together for my kids, though. My son is getting ready to start his classes with the community college- all online, thankfully; we’re referring to it as the University of the Holy Basement (the basement is where his computer is located). My daughter and I do school in the mornings; she has a video chat playdate with a friend’s daughter most afternoons. They play dolls and other various toys, and it’s so cute hearing them chatter to each other. She looks forward to it every day.
I’m writing or, I should say, I’m trying to write. I wrote about 6000 words this month, which is pretty good, putting my current WIP at just over 28,000 words. Some days even trying to come up with a single sentence is difficult and like swimming through a pit of mud; other days, I dash off a thousand words at a pop without think. Slow and steady wins the race, though. I’ll get there. 6000 words is awesome progress, being that I was stuck at 19,000 words for so. freaking. long!
So what happens in August?
My son will start college classes, fully remote. My daughter’s school will begin fully remote- which is excellent, because, as I told the school on the survey they sent out last month, if they didn’t have a fully remote option, we’d be pulling her and fully homeschooling until it was safe (I love and support our public schools, but I’m not risking my daughter’s life. I’m able to keep her home and school her at home, and thus she’d be one less kid in the stream. I absolutely feel like because I can keep her home, it’s my responsibility to society to keep her home). The school is apparently working on ways to get kids back in the building safely, but even then they said they’ll still be offering the option of remote learning, and we’ll take full advantage of that. I’m happy to do it completely myself, but it’ll be much easier to have the guidance of the school and she’ll have fewer gaps in her learning when it IS safe to go back (meaning, she’ll have learned the same things they have and stayed on the same track. Were I to homeschool her on my own, she may learn other things and not exactly what they have. It’d be the same thing as transferring from one school to another, if that makes sense!).
I also turn 40 this month. 😀 What a way to celebrate that milestone, amirite???
Anyway, hang in there, friends. If you’re outside the US, hopefully your country is handling the pandemic well and things are getting back to normal for you. If you’re in the US like me, well, hopefully you’re doing the best you can under such awful circumstances. You’re all in my heart. Be strong, be creative, fight against injustice wherever you see it, wear your mask, wash your hands, and keep socially distancing so we can get through this and I can see my mom and dad again. My kids miss their grandparents. Love to you all. Be safe, and have as lovely of an August as you can make it. ❤
Month Four of this pandemic in the US, can you believe it??? And things aren’t any better. They’re actually worse in a lot of places than when this first started. 😦
Life hasn’t changed much for us here at the Library household. We’re still living the quarantine lifestyle, not seeing friends or family except via video chat. If there’s an errand that needs to be run, one of us is in the store and out with no dawdling, no browsing, it’s just getting what we need and getting out. Masks are worn at all times when we’re in stores (fortunately, this went into effect here on May 1st and at least where I live, almost everyone is compliant. And I feel very, very grateful for this), and we sanitize our hands before removing them. We’re doing everything we can to stay safe, but all of this feels like one of those group projects in school where one or two of them members did nothing and everyone ended up with a bad grade because of it.
But really, our day-to-day life is okay. Reading with my daughter in the mornings, playing music with my son in the afternoons, walking with the family when it’s cool enough, reading in the evenings. It’s not a bad life. 🙂
11. The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis (no review; read out loud to my daughter)
12. The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York by Deborah Blum (review to come)
Another quiet month; it’s just how my reading is going to be until life settles down. Slow and steady. 🙂
I didn’t review Say Nothing because it’s so complex. It tells the story of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, something I knew very little about. This book is a wallop of information. It’s incredible, but it’s a lot to digest and took me almost a week to read. If you’re wanting to understand the Troubles, this is an excellent resource. I’ll need to read much more before I have a solid grip on this piece of history, though, which is why I didn’t feel comfortable doing a full write-up.
Nine books marked off my reading challenges, though! Speaking of which…
Reading Challenge Updates
I think I’m going to go ahead and complete the 2020 PopSugar Reading Challenge and call it good. Doing others would be a little too much this year, what with my reading slowing down so much, but I’m pleased that I’ve made so much progress on this one.
Here’s what that challenge looks like right now:
Two notes here:
First, when I went to look for a suggestion for ‘a book with an upside-down image on the cover, one of the suggestions was Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez. And since I read that back in February, you bet your behind I’m using that for this challenge!
Secondly, I realized that the prompt ‘A book set in the 1920s’ was cut off of my graphic (but not the paper I’m using to keep track with my reading binder), so I added that in at the bottom of the left hand ‘Advanced’ column.
Not looking too bad, eh? I’ve got four ebooks on hold from the library for this, although if a few take too long, I’ll probably end up picking something else, which is fine. I won’t be able to mark off the last box- Read a banned book during Banned Books Week- until September, but depending on how quickly my books come in, I may be able to tick off the rest of the books next month! Stay tuned…
State of the Goodreads TBR
Oof. 139 last month, 149 this month. That’s partly why I’m going to bow out of my other reading challenges. I’d like to get this down lower in order to keep it under control. A few years ago, it was up to 332 and I read almost 200 books from it and then tidied a few up out of there, and it was down in the 70’s, so once PopSugar is done, I’ll focus on reading more from my TBR. I’ve updated my library list based on my TBR, though, and twenty-eight of these books are available as ebooks from my library (with more than two pages total of books available through my library if we’re also including physical copies), so that’ll make this a little easier. 🙂
I went back and forth between a few different things and have settled on catching up on older new episodes of Smart Podcast, Trashy Books, from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. It’s like returning home to old friends. 🙂
Stephanie’s Read Harder Challenge
Currently on hold.
Real Life Stuff
Sometimes it’s hard to remember what happened in the space of a month, as all the days kind of blur together! Especially now, when my kids are out of school and life is a little slower. My son sent in his application for our local community college, though we have no clue what classes will look like. My daughter is plugging along with The Magic Tree House and the Junie B. Jones series of books; she’s on #11 in The Magic Tree House and #11 in Junie B. Jones. We’re still going back and forth, each of us reading one page at a time, and I make her do some workbook pages as well to keep her learning and keep her mind occupied. It definitely helps! We also performed the dreaded chore of cleaning out her clothes on a really hot day when no one would have wanted to play outside. We ended up culling TWO huge garbage bags stuffed with clothing, and someone from Freecycle came and grabbed them off our porch that afternoon!
My son and I have been playing and singing music together in the afternoons, which has been fun. I play guitar and we sing together, and it’s been nice. He turned 18 this month, which was wild. No party, of course, but we celebrated with a key lime pie, which was delicious! I also took the old plastic coffee containers I’d been saving, spray painted them, poked some holes in the bottom, and planted flowers in there. I also filled up an old carved up tire left by the previous owner of the house with some potting soil and flowers. I’m not a flower person, but this is what happens when you’re stuck at home and can’t go anywhere! Let’s hope I don’t kill these things off.
That’s about it for this month! If these were normal times, the kids and I would have been gearing up to go on vacation to Virginia with my mother, but obviously that’s out for this year. It’s a bummer, but honestly, I’m more focused on keeping everyone safe and healthy, so really, in the grand scheme of things, it’s a disappointment but doesn’t register much more than a blip on my radar. We’ll also be missing out on the fourth of July parade we’ve enjoyed attending for years. Ah well. Such is life during a pandemic! We’re making our own fun at home, where it’s safe. 🙂
July offers more of the same, only with steamy, smoking hot weather. Our library has opened back up by appointment, which is encouraging. Ten appointments per hour, and you have one hour to browse the collection. I haven’t made an appointment yet, but I probably will soon. It’ll be strange to be back in there. Speaking of which, the best thing EVER happened:
WE’RE GETTING A NEW LIBRARY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
So, a few years ago, there was a referendum on our voting ballot to fund a new library or an expansion of the old, and it was voted in. Our library began talks with our park district in order to figure out how to best use the allotted land, and the park district wouldn’t budge on anything or agree to anything, and to make a very long, very frustrating story short, the library moved ahead and has decided to purchase the site of an empty supermarket about two blocks from its current location. The grocery store is old and nowhere near up to code and so it’ll be razed and a new library will be built in its location. (The library building we have now is also old, out of date, not ADA-compliant, and the HVAC system needs replacing entirely, something that wouldn’t make sense financially, considering how old and leaky the building is. It would be upwards of 83 degrees in the building even with the air conditioning running in the summer, the back wall had water and mold damage, it was just a mess and they’ve been making do for ages. Building an entirely new building and thus not having to rent an interim space while they renovate the old building will actually save them money!)
CAN YOU TELL HOW EXCITED I AM???
Seriously something to look forward to in these strange times. It’ll be a while before they get going on this, but planning is underway and I couldn’t be happier!!!
That’s it for now. Stay safe and healthy, friends. If you’re in a high Covid-19 area, take care of yourselves and others. Wear your mask (mine has fish on it!) to protect yourself and your community, wash your hands, stand for justice wherever you go, and make your own fun at home so we can get through this together and come out stronger on the other side. Love to all of you, friends. ❤
For real, though, how is it October??? I just sat down to write September’s post! This whole year has just gone by at rocket speed…
This has been the first full month of my daughter being in school full-time, and it’s been interesting. I’m still at home and will be for the foreseeable future, and I’m kind of getting into a little bit of a routine, which is nice. I have a lot less free time than I figured, though, since I still have SO much to do. It’s not bad, though, and I have a new reading-related category to add to this month’s monthly post. I’m enjoy my quieter days, that’s for sure!
I’m still ridiculously behind on blog stuff, though. I’m really hoping that once it cools off, things will settle down around here and I’ll be able to jump back into the book blogging world a little more. For now, it’s all I can do to get posts written (as you’ll see!).
12. The Polygamist’s Daughter by Anna LeBaron (review to come)
13. Gated by Amy Christine Parker (review to come)
14. Without a Prayer: The Death of Lucas Leonard and How One Church Became a Cult by Susan Ashline (review to come)
15. Socks by Beverly Cleary (no review, read out loud to my daughter)
16. The Silence Between Us by Alison Gervais (review to come)
Only slightly better than last month! I’ve still been ridiculously busy, so not as much reading time as I would have liked (and barely any reading time some days!) Bring on the colder weather where I can huddle under a blanket and just READ!!!
Reading Challenge Updates
I’m not currently participating in any reading challenges, but I’m already looking forward to these starting up again in the new year!
State of the Goodreads TBR
Currently, my Goodreads TBR stands at 77 books! Some of the books I had placed on there last month were cookbooks, which I checked out of the library and went through, then took off my list, so that helps to explain the slightly reduced number. Also aiding in TBR reduction is the fact that eleven of this month’s books came off my TBR list. Yay me!
Books I Acquired in September 2019
The only book I brought into the house this month was a copy of Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody, which I bought with a Barnes and Noble gift card. I’ve actually gotten a tiny bit of writing done this month, but not a ton, and not with any regularity. Possibly when the weather turns…
I feel so lucky whenever I get the opportunity to listen to authors speak! There’s a bookstore semi-local to me that often has authors come speak; I need to follow their schedule more carefully. They’re a bit of a drive from me, though, and with needing to pick my husband up from the evening train, being at the bookstore on time might be a bit of a stretch…
Current Podcast Love
I’m currently going back and forth between Cults on Parcast (seriously, it’s starting to feel like everything’s a cult, haha! There are so many more out there than I ever imagined. What the heck, humanity???), and Behind the Bastards (no, seriously, what the heck, humanity????), which I’ve absolutely fallen in love with. The host, journalist and author Robert Evans, reads a script of his weekly research on a terrible, terrible person from either history or modern days, going in depth as to exactly why and how that person was/is awful as he reads to a comedian or fellow podcaster who is coming in cold and knows little about the subject. It’s funny, it’s entertaining, it’s educational, it’s full of incredulous swear words… I’m learning so much from this podcast and it’s seriously fascinating in its depth and breadth of information.
Stephanie’s Read Harder Challenge
So, now that my daughter (who is my intense child, the one who makes a bid for my attention every three seconds and has sizzled my brain into a charred, shriveled crisp) is in school full-time, I have some quiet time- most days, anyway- to sit and read some of the things I’ve been putting off because they take more brainpower to get through, and who has that when you’re answering questions about unicorns and responding to “Mama, I’m done pooping!” every other minute? I was never able to finish college, which is a major sore spot for me, so it’s really important to me that I keep learning and keep expanding my world in an intellectual sense. And so my afternoons, after I finish dinner prep, are spent in a reading-and-study session, with books from my own shelves that I’ve wanted to get to for ages.
We’re a bilingual, French-English family (my husband bringing the French via his Belgian-born self), and in the past, I’ve always tried to read at least one book in French every year. Last year, I did this at night and got through Harry Potter à L’école des Sorciers (the first Harry Potter book). But then my husband wanted to watch a bunch of stuff on Netflix with me, so there went my quiet reading time, and I only now got around to reading my French book for the year, grabbing Winnie l’Ourson by A.A. Milne off of my French shelf (Winnie l’Ourson being, of course, the French translation of Winnie-the-Pooh). I did a chapter almost every day, writing down unfamiliar words and then plugging them into Anki, a flashcard app, so I could memorize them. It feels good to be back into language study! Winnie l’Ourson is adorable in both English and French, although I have to say that I found French-speaking Eeyore an entire passive-aggressive pain in the ass. 😀
Along with improving my French, another of my goals for my alone time is to improve my Norwegian, especially my grammar, so I’ve started slowly working my way through Norsk, Nordmenn Og Norge by Kathleen Stokker and Odd Haddal (Norwegian, Norwegians and Norway). This is a hefty tome of Norwegian grammar and vocabulary. I’m on my fourth trip through the Duolingo tree and use that mainly to keep my skills fresh every day, but I’ll be using this book to build more on what I’ve already learned. I’m hoping to find enough time this winter, too, to finally watch season 4 of Skam, a fabulous Norwegian TV series that follows a group of teenagers through their high school drama. I adored seasons 1-3 and just never got around to finishing it.
In heavier English-language reading, I’m twenty chapters into A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn. This book has been sitting on my shelf for years and I’m so grateful that I finally have the ability to delve deeply into it. It’s an intense read, shining light on perspectives in American history that we’re never taught in school (for real, I have never, EVER said WTF so many times in one single book. Most pages have something that makes me drop at least one F-bomb; for instance, when a multi-millionaire wrote his son a letter, urging him to pay a fee in order to have someone else drafted for the war in his place because “there are other lives out there that are worth less.” DUDE. WTF!!!). I’ve read quite a bit of history over the years since I left school and am still aghast at how horrible we can be to each other. If you haven’t read this illuminating book yet and you have the time and mental space for it, I highly, HIGHLY recommend it.
I’ll finish A People’s History…probably around the end of the first week of October (I try to read a chapter each day, but there are some days, like when my mother comes up to visit, that I don’t get to it), and after that, I’m going to finally tackle Les Misérables by Victor Hugo in full (in English!). I got through about 400 pages when I was in high school, and then abandoned it during one of Hugo’s long rants on Napoleon. This time, I’ll complete it. I’ve already glanced through my copy, which is 1463 pages, and I’m planning to read around 30 pages a day (give or take, depending on how close the next chapter or nearest break is). I can read 30 pages at a time of anything, so while this will be a lengthy read, I have faith in myself that this will be the time I complete it.
I’m excited about this new project and look forward to sharing with all of you the new things I’m working on each month. This will, of course, be subjective to school vacations and whatnot; maybe I’ll move my more intense reading to nighttimes then. Who knows. 🙂
(Also, I may change the name of this section if I come up with a better one…)
Real Life Stuff
September was, as always, a busy month, but we’re settling into new routines around here. My son is busy with school and choir commitments; my daughter is making new friends and this upcoming weekend will attend her fourth birthday party since school began! I’m busy running after both of them, of course, but I try to spend most mornings working on a household project of some sort, before moving on to preparing dinner and my afternoons with my personal Read Harder Challenge. The shelving units we had in the kitchen were bowing, so we replaced them with heavier metal shelves, which I put together and then switched out all our stuff. That took almost an entire school day (SO MUCH CLEANING to go along with it), and my thighs were killing me afterwards, but the shelves look so much neater and better now. And I spent another two hours folding the FOUR BASKETS of my husband’s clean laundry that had been living on my bedroom floor for MONTHS (yes, I’m laundry-shaming my husband!) and tidying up his shelves. The bedroom looks so much bigger now without four heaping baskets of laundry on the floor! 😀
October’s going to be another busy month. A local university is putting on a performance of Cabaret, so my mother is coming up and we’re going to see that. My son has Homecoming (his girlfriend’s dress is so pretty!), and his choir will have two shows (both of which my mother will come up to see and she and I will spend the day together, which is always wonderful). I’m going to see a documentary put on by the school system’s parent education group, my mother and daughter and I are going to go to a local craft/Scandinavian fair that we visit every year, my daughter’s school is putting on a huge Halloween bash, and then we have Halloween itself (my daughter wants to be something she’s calling a Rose Fairy Princess, and she was amenable to the idea of my doctoring up one of her dress-up dresses with fake flowers, so I’ll have to find the time to do that). Will there even be any time to sit down and read, much less blog? And then we’ll start in with the holidays…
I’m exhausted just thinking about it! I’m about ready for the snow and cold of January and February at this point! 😀
How was your September? How did your reading go? Do you find you have more time to read this time of year, or less?
Happy reading, and may your October be beautiful. 🙂
Summer is winding down, and the kids are either back in school or are headed that way. Hard to believe the summer went by so fast, but it does every year, doesn’t it? I barely had a single chance to catch my breath this month; I spent so much of the summer getting all the appointments made that my daughter needed before starting kindergarten (doctor, dentist, eye doctor- dentist had to be cancelled TWICE due to illness, and eye doctor took multiple attempts to find glasses that fit her), getting the house back in order from being sick all spring, preparing for vacation/vacation/getting the house back in order from being gone on vacation, etc. We had so few days to just relax…and now whoooooosh, summer’s over! So it goes.
It took me most of July and a good part of August to get caught up on my reviews (and I’m still a few behind); I did nothing at night but write out two and sometimes three reviews, for about a week and a half, so my list looks a little smaller this month than usual- less reading time! But that’s okay. Let’s get started with this recap.
9. A Different Time by Michael K. Hill (review to come in September as part of a blog tour)
10. Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali (review to come)
11. Henry and the Clubhouse by Beverly Cleary (no review; read out loud to my daughter)
12. Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid (review to come)
I think August has been my slowest month yet, reading-wise! That’s a combination of using my nightly reading time to catch up on reviews and having less time to read during the day as we tried to cram in all the necessary back-to-school activities. I’d hope that my reading would pick up in September, but I’m not sure that it will, since I have a TON of projects that I’m trying to get done around the house. Eight of these books were on my TBR, though, so that’s eight books down!
Reading Challenge Updates
I’m not currently participating in any reading challenges, other than trying to tame the beast that is my TBR.
State of the Goodreads TBR
My Goodreads TBR currently stands at 89 books, up from 80 last month. I CAN EXPLAIN!!!
So, now that my daughter is a little older and can be kind of trusted not to throw herself in front of a passing truck if we blink while we’re outside with her, we’ve started ripping up some stuff in the yard in order to use the land more wisely. My husband tore down a giant ugly fir bush, and I raked up all the crap left behind (and toted it to the backyard; we’ll eventually burn it), and we’re going to turn that (sizable!) patch into a native flower garden in the spring- although right now we tossed down some kale seeds in hopes of a late kale crop. Once my back calms down a little bit, I’ll be out there with heavy-duty work gloves, ripping out old, sad cacti and other various spiky weeds so we can plant stuff in those spaces. All that is to say that I put a bunch of books on urban farming and growing food on my TBR, so that’s why it exploded the way it did this month!
No real bookish events, but my husband did get me a new Kindle Paperwhite for my birthday! My elderly Kindle Keyboard had been having issues for about a year already, so this was a fabulous surprise. I haven’t even had the chance to use it yet, because I’ve had a steady flow of physical books, but as soon as I get these cleared out, it’s Kindle time, baby! Check out my gorgeous cover:
Current Podcast Love
After floundering a bit, I discovered Cults on Parcast, with Greg and Vanessa, whose voices are SO soothing that it would sometimes take me five or six tries to listen to an episode, because I would just fall asleep (and I’ve seen other people talk about that as well!). Cults is super fascinating and freaky, a look into often deadly religious groups, a few of which I’d heard of but (to their immense credit, because this is one of my biggest pet subjects) most of which I hadn’t. If you’re at all interested in cults and seriously weird religious groups (SERIOUSLY weird, like dudes claiming to be God or Jesus on earth, and the followers who actually take them seriously and hand over their teenage daughters to this guy because they’ve totally bought into it instead of running away screaming like most people would- SO many stories like this), give this a listen, I really felt like I learned a lot.
I listened to all the back episodes that Podbean offered, and today, I started listening to Behind the Bastards, a podcast about some of the worst people in history. So far, it’s really interesting and I’m looking forward to delving into it more next week (after the long weekend, when the kids are back in school).
Real Life Stuff
My son is now a senior in high school (so he’s ridiculously busy), and my daughter officially started kindergarten! The first three days were half days, but this past week was full-day. She has two friends from her gymnastics classes in her class, she made another friend who sits next to her, and a girl in first grade who was in preschool with my daughter when she was 3 remembers her and seeks her out on the playground all the time, so no worries there. She’s pretty tired when she comes home, though, which has led to some…rather screechy evenings around here. Poor kid. It’s a long day for five year-olds.
We live about a mile away from the school, so in the mornings, I walk her there and walk her back. If the weather is okay and I don’t have to pick my son up, I walk to pick her up and then we walk home. During school hours, I’ve been trying to find a balance between getting done all the BAZILLION house projects that I couldn’t do with my daughter interrupting me every three seconds and taking some time for me, and all that is to say that I’ve had some days with step counts like this:
Remember when I said my back hurt? Yeah. That’s a lot of walking.
So what have I been doing? The first few days were half days, so that didn’t leave much time to get stuff done, but come Monday, even though it was raining, I was bound and determined to start tackling my Hoarder-style garage. It’s looked like this pretty much since we moved in 4.5 years ago; after falling out there late last fall, I swore I would tackle it once my daughter went to school. Before:
Yeah. I felt exactly as embarrassed as you think I would every time my husband opened the door- and this is after I’d already done a little cleaning (albeit in the back right corner, not really visible in this picture). UGH. After 2.5 hours of absolutely disgusting work (combined with the 30 minutes I did earlier, on a different day), here’s the not-yet-finished-but-looking-better result:
I stopped working at this point because A., my back was entirely done, and B., both the garbage can and the recycling can were full to the top. My plan is to work on this on the days before trash pickup days in order to leave *some* space for household trash throughout the week (although we’re lucky if we have a single bag most weeks, along with some smaller bags from when I scoop the litterbox; the majority of our food-based garage goes into our compost, and I try to recycle as much as I can). The right side of the garage is going to be a little more difficult; it’ll be a lot of heavy lifting and I’m not sure how my back will take to that, but I guess we’ll find out when I get to it! The project isn’t complete yet, but I’m ridiculously happy about how it’s turned out so far. I’ve been out to that freezer probably fifteen times since I did this and didn’t have to worry ONCE about falling- whereas before, it was a constant worry, and like I said, I fell last fall, which is a huge concern with my bad back. So yay for me. 🙂
I’ve also organized all my cabinets, my drawers (including vacuuming them out), and my kitchen island; I cleaned out the coat closet (and ripped up the dry-rotted mat that sat in front of it and scraped all the pieces off that had stuck to the floor, GROSS) and cleaned off one of my daughter’s bookshelves in the living room. And since I had space, I organized everything out in my garage freezer (the only things I could stand stocking up on are corn and spinach…). We bought new shelves for our kitchen, so once my husband puts those together, I’ll be busy reorganizing my pantry goods, so I’m looking forward to being able to do that!
What’s next? I need to clean out the laundry room again; it’s not too bad, but could stand a little reorganization and a sweep for cobwebs. My daughter’s room is getting a complete overhaul; that’ll take at least one full day, and possibly more. After the garage is totally done and I clear some stuff out of the yard, I’ll have more time for myself, and then I’ll get started on some ME projects. 🙂
Speaking of which, my Blue Blanket Project (or what I’ve started thinking of as my Frozen blanket!) is coming along, slowly but swimmingly:
If anyone is interested, I’m using this pattern. It’s a nice, mindless project to work on while watching something with my husband or visiting with family.
So that was my August! Not as much reading going on as I would’ve liked, but such is life sometimes, and I’m looking forward to a long, cold winter of plowing through book after book after book this school year. I have no idea how long it will take for me to clean up the yard the way I want, or when I’ll actually get the garage finished- this is all both weather-dependent and my back-dependent, but I’d rather tackle those completely and quickly, so I can stop thinking about them! 🙂
I wish you a lovely September, full of great reads and beautiful weather no matter where you are. How was your August???
My goodness. July absolutely got away from me. I’m ferociously behind in regards to book reviews (to the tune of…*checks Goodreads* ELEVEN BOOKS), and I’m completely feeling like a hamster in a wheel. Not the hamster who’s trucking along nicely, making the wheel turn and turn, mind you. No, I’m the hamster in the back, flopping along and never quite able to get itself situated and upright while its furry little buddy trots happily in front without a care in the world. I’ve been desperately trying to take care of everything in real life (house, laundry, errands, cooking, etc) while driving my son places and keeping my daughter entertained by taking her to the park and other fun summer places, and I’ve started a few other projects around the house, along with exercising more regularly. All of this means I haven’t had much computer time lately!
I’ll get back up to speed, though, I promise! The kids go back to school in twenty days, and I’ll spend some of my alone time getting caught up here, so keep your eyes peeled for an eventual onslaught of reviews. 🙂
6. Internment- Samira Ahmed (review written, will be posted tomorrow)
7. Better Than Homemade- Carolyn Wyman (review to come)
8. I Believe In a Thing Called Love- Maurene Goo (review to come)
9. Henry Huggins- Beverly Cleary (no review, read out loud to my daughter)
10. The Emergency Teacher: The Inspirational Story of a New Teacher in an Inner City School- Christina Asquith (review to come)
11. The Drowning of Stephan Jones- Bette Greene (review to come)
12. Holy Envy: Finding God in the Faith of Others- Barbara Brown Taylor (review to come, LOVED THIS!!!)
13. All the Rage: Mothers, Fathers, and the Myth of Equal Partnership- Darcy Lockman (review to come)
14. Waiting for Tom Hanks- Kerry Winfrey (review to come)
15. Henry and Beezus- Beverly Cleary (no review, read out loud to my daughter)
16. Their Pretend Amish Courtship- Patricia Davids (review to come)
17. Awkward- Svetlana Chmakova (review to come)
18. Icebreaker- Deirdre Martin (review to come)
19. Burma Chronicles- Guy Delisle (review to come)
Numbers-wise, that’s not a bad month! So much of my reading has been done outside the house this month, either at the park or at a library play area (on those super hot days); I finished two books on vacation (and DNF’d two others that just didn’t work for me); three were read-alouds to my daughter. I don’t see any patterns in here, necessarily; a bunch of these books, however, were from my TBR pile, so yay for me on that. 🙂
Reading Challenge Update
I’m not currently participating in any reading challenges, other than the constant challenge of taming my TBR. Speaking of which…
State of the Goodreads TBR
Remember last month when I said I couldn’t seem to get my Goodreads TBR below 80 books?
80 is the magic number, because 80 is where my Goodreads TBR sits at this very moment! The book I’m reading right now is from that list, though, so I AM trying!!!
Books I Acquired in July 2019
These were acquired from a used book sale last weekend (everything you can cram into a bag for $10; my husband and daughter also brought home some treasures). I was pretty happy to find the copy of Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon, as she was recently added to the list of authors coming to speak to my community this school year! I’ll definitely get that one read before her appearance (the date hasn’t been announced yet, so I have time).
My friend Sandy mailed me two ARCs; I’ve never read Alisha Rai before, but I’ve been wanting to, so I’m pretty excited about The Right Swipe! Tracey Garvis Graves’s The Girl He Used To Know was a bonus in the book envelope; what a nice surprise! Thanks, Sandy! As soon as I get to the store to buy an envelope, I’m shipping her my copy of Burma Chronicles by Guy Delisle. Bookish friends are the best. 🙂
My mom gave me Such a Perfect Wife by Kate White, which she had just finished and said it was good, so I’m looking forward to that. And then…
A few weeks ago, I recalled an author I’d read when I first moved to Tennessee (as in, as soon as I got my library card, after rushing there from the DMV with my brand new Tennessee driver’s license, I picked her book up off the new books shelf!). Jerramy Fine’s Someday My Prince Will Come: True Adventures of a Wannabe Princess is an adorable tale of her infatuation with royalty, romance, England, and the intersection of all of those things. She had retweeted my review of that book (this was something like ten years ago!), and I was wondering what she was up to these days when I happened upon In Defense of the Princess: How Plastic Tiaras and Fairytale Dreams Can Inspire Smart, Strong Women (sadly, at the Dollar Tree). Since I have a daughter who somehow fell in love with all things princess and wears a crown or a tiara almost everywhere we go, I figured this was some sort of sign, and the book came home with me. I’m very much looking forward to reading this!
The only thing I can think of is the book sale I mentioned earlier. It’s the one held by an association that uses the profits made from the sale to fund college scholarships for women. I’m on their mailing list (which is dangerous!), so I was happy to show up, browse, and bring home a sack full of books. As I was perusing the general fiction table, a guy next to me reached for a copy of Alaska by James Michener, and of course I had to gush, “That’s an incredible book.” He kind of laughed and said that it was his favorite book, and he always looks to see if a copy he finds in the wild is better than the copy he has at home. I suggested he also read Hawaii(he said he owns it and that’ll be his next read); he mentioned (I think it was!) The Covenant, but it might have been Centennial! It had a C in the title! Either way, I think I own both of them and definitely need to read them. James Michener has long been a favorite of mine and I need to read more of him. It’s always nice to have a bookish conversation about a favorite author with a complete stranger. 🙂
Current Podcast Love
I finished up all the episodes my podcast player (I use Podbean) would load; sadly, it only went down to like Episode 212, out of 361 episodes. I’ll continue to listen to new episodes in the future, as I love this podcast!
I’ve also been catching up on episodes of What Should I Read Next? with Anne Bogel, another podcast I absolutely adore. This one is SO dangerous to the TBR, though (one of the books I have checked out from the library right now ended up on my TBR list because of these episodes I’ve been listening to lately!). If you’ve never listened to this, I highly recommend it. Fascinating guests with awesome life stories and excellent reading lives, great book suggestions, and Anne is a wonderful, charming host.
Real Life Stuff
The biggest highlight of the month was the kids and I going to Branson, Missouri with my mother. We usually travel somewhere with her every year, and she’s so much fun. She likes to GO, so we ended up doing a TON of stuff while we were there. We visited their downtown area and went through a bunch of the shops, visited the mall, sunburned ourselves half to death swimming at Moonshine Beach, visited Ripley’s Believe It or Not! museum and the Titanic museum, rode the Runaway Mountain Coaster and the giant Ferris wheel, rode the rides at Silver Dollar City, splashed around at the White Water water park, swam in our resort’s indoor pool, we took a road trip and ate at Lambert’s Cafe, Home of the Throwed Rolls… I’m probably still forgetting a few things! There’s very little downtime when you’re on vacation with my mother! 😀 (And the only place my back really gave me trouble was the Titanic Museum, since standing without moving is difficult for me. As long as I’m walking, I’m okay, though my back might spasm- that’s normal. Painful, but expected, so it’s not a huge deal.)
But even though there was little downtime, I still managed to work out three of the days we were there in the resort’s gym. I *really* let my exercise routine slack this year, being sick for so long, and as a result, I wasn’t happy with the way some of my clothes were fitting, so I made a commitment before we left that I was going to get back in better shape. And so far, I’ve been doing awesome. I do yoga on the days we’re home, and in the evenings I’ve been walking either three or four miles. When it gets too cold and dark to walk, I’ll go back to using my exercise bike in the bedroom, along with yoga. It feels good to be doing something good for my body again (especially since- guess what?- we got sick AGAIN. My daughter had a runny nose and a cough and some congestion on our last day, and of course, since she spent a few days coughing directly into my eyeballs, I got it, too. I never felt too run down with this one, though, so I’ve still been trucking along!).
I also purchased the best pair of socks in the world:
I am 1000% ready to sob my eyes out at A Beautiful Day In the Neighborhood, the Tom Hanks movie about Mister Rogers, in November!!!
My husband and I have, of course, watched all of this summer’s season of Stranger Things, and now we’re going through this final season of Orange Is the New Black. And just before we left for vacation, I started on this (and continue to work on it while we watch at night):
Now, usually, I’m a knitter. I’m not the world’s greatest crocheter, and I haven’t crocheted more than a few hats for my son since before my daughter was born (crochet uses up way more yarn than knitting does, so I choose my crochet projects carefully). But I was struggling to figure out what to do with this HUGE skein of variegated blue yarn my mother-in-law gave to me (she’s a knitter). It’s this weird texture and difficult to knit with (which is exactly why she gave it to me! We had a good laugh about that this weekend), and finally, I realized that I have SO much blue yarn that I should just make a huge blue blanket, and thus, the Blue Blanket Project was born. I dug up a bag full of different kinds of blue yarn, some full skeins, some scraps, and I’ve been working on it while we watch TV and visit with family. Might as well get something else done while you’re sitting there, right? I’ll keep crocheting until it gets big enough or I run out of yarn, whatever comes first. 🙂
August will be an interesting month. My birthday is coming up on the 5th (last year of my 30’s!), we’ve got a playdate with a friend we haven’t seen for a while next week, and then on the 21st, the kids go back to school!!! My son will start his senior year in high school, and my daughter will traipse off the kindergarten for the first time. His last first day, her first first day. Bittersweet, but exciting for both of them, and exciting for me! My daughter goes a half day for the first three days, and then on Monday, she’ll go full day, all the time. I have SO many projects I’m looking forward to doing, including cleaning out my seriously-you-guys-it-looks-like-Hoarders garage, ripping out huge parts of awfulness in my yard (cactuses! Whose idea was it to plant cactuses in this yard? We’re in the Chicago suburbs, for cripes sake!!!), overhauling my daughter’s room, cleaning out all my cabinets, cleaning and organizing my closet… I have a huge list of projects that I’m planning on working on, and then I’ll focus more on the stuff I want to do, like reading, writing, learning new things/studying old things, spending more time with my sewing machine, etc. Who knows, I may even get to watch a movie here and there- I haven’t watched TV during the day that didn’t involve animation for five years, so all of this is pretty exciting for me. In the two years between my son going to public school for the first time after homeschooling and the birth of my daughter, I was home full-time and was never, ever bored, so I’m really looking forward to all of this. 🙂
And that’s about it for me this month! I wish you all a happy and productive August, full of great reads, low-priced books, and book reviews that flow easily from your brain onto the computer. How was your July???
Once again, a month is ending, and I’m sitting here going, “Holy crap, where did it go???”
No big surprise. I was sick for so long that quite a few months blew right past me. Thankfully, I’m feeling MUCH better lately, and because of that, my reading time has definitely gone down, as I’ve been busy playing catch-up with all the many things I wasn’t able to do when I was sick or taking care of my sick kiddo. And there’s a LOT of it, but that’s okay. Everything in good time. 🙂
We had a nasty start to the summer, weather-wise. Rain, rain, more rain, and weirdly chilly temperatures- up until about 9 days ago, I still wore a cardigan when I went out to do the grocery shopping. And just like that, the weather turned this week and we now need the air conditioner on, because the temps have gotten into the low 90’s. Make up your mind, Midwestern weather!!!
But let’s get down to the more important business at hand: BOOKS.
16. Flames of Glory- Patricia Matthews (review to come)
17. Leaving the Witness: Exiting a Religion and Finding a Life- Amber Scorah (review to come)
I figured my reading would slow down once summer picked up, and sure enough, this is my slowest month of the year so far. Still not bad, but that’s what happens when you’re finally able to crawl off the couch and start hosing down the house and working on projects you’ve been putting off for months due to being sick. Not necessarily a bad thing, though. 🙂 Eight fiction, nine non-fiction; that’s more non-fiction than I expected, especially given that I end up reading more fluffy stuff when I’m feeling crummy.
Reading Challenge Update
I’m not currently participating in any reading challenges. It’s a reading free-for-all!
State of the Goodreads TBR
I’m adding this as a new category here this month in order to be better accountable for my reading!
Goodreads is where I keep my TBR list; it’s so convenient to be able to hit that want-to-read button. Currently, my Goodreads TBR list stands at 81 books. It seems impossible to get it below 80; the second it gets close, all the other book bloggers conspire against me and start posting amazing reviews and I’m all, “Oooooooh…”
Books I Acquired in June 2019
Slow month for buying books, but I’m okay with that, as I also need to focus on reading things from my own shelves. I did, however, win a copy of If It Makes You Happy by Claire Kann, from a blog tour (and dang it, I seem to have deleted the email that reminded me which blog it was! If it was yours, let me know in the comments and I’ll give you credit and link back to you. Thank you!), so that was awesome! I love the cover.
Bookish Things I Did In June 2019
Would you believe not much? I had a scheduling conflict with the library book club, so that was out. There was a used book sale, but the more I thought about it, the more I figured I didn’t really need to go. I already have a zillion books on my own shelves that I desperately need to read, so I saved money, saved gas, saved wear and tear on the car and the environment, and I stayed home. I did grab my son and his best friend and make them walk to the library with me one night, though. It’s about a 3 mile walk, round trip, so that was good exercise for all of us, plus both the boys checked out books (my son’s friend recently got a library card for the first time- he apparently really got into reading The Martian by Andy Weir, to the point where he was excitedly texting my son with updates on what he’d read, which is awesome, and he decided he wanted a library card! It always makes me happy to hear about someone finding a book that makes them enjoy reading. Rock on, Seth!).
I’ll miss the library book group discussion in July as well, since we’ll be out of town. I’m halfway through my fourth sheet of ten books for the summer reading program (you can only fill out five!), so hopefully I’ll finish this next month. Must find more time to read!!!
Current Podcast Love
I’m still digging Smart Podcast, Trashy Books. This past month, I’ve enjoyed interviews with Thien-Kim Lam from Bawdy Bookworms, Alisha Rai, Bea & Leah Koch of The Ripped Bodice, Beverly Jenkins, Jennifer Lohmann of NoveList (check your library website for access!), and two absolutely hysterical live shows recorded at the Romantic Times convention. There’s always something fascinating in this podcast; three of the authors I read this month came from suggestions mentioned in one or several episodes. (It’s a TBR killer, for sure!)
Real Life Stuff
Busy, busy month. In the beginning of the month, I was still in recovery from the sinus infection that wouldn’t die (I ended up needing two rounds of antibiotics to finally send it packing; I’ve still got the accompanying cough), and then I had an easily-fixable-but-still-painful issue with my left ear the next week! I’m just going to pack up and move into my doctor’s office; it would make life a lot simpler… Fortunately, we’re all on the mend right now. I’ve gotten a little bit of energy back and have done a few projects around the house that I’ve been putting off due to feeling like garbage, so that’s a start. I’ve got two blog posts to write up yet that I missed out on when I was sick, so to the people to whom I owe posts, they’re coming!!!
My daughter had her pre-kindergarten eye exam and we found out that she’ll need glasses to correct the astigmatism in her left eye. We had to visit a different optometrist to get her fitted with properly-fitting frames, since her head, face, and nose are so narrow, but they’re in and we’ll be picking them up this morning!
My son was away from home for over a week, attending both his Madrigal retreat and then getting dropped off at a week-long summer music program at a university downstate. He celebrated his birthday (17!!!) while at the Madrigal retreat, and the concert his group put on when my mother and I picked him up from the music program was beyond phenomenal. One of the kids who had a solo in one song is apparently going to be on America’s Got Talent, from what my son said. My son seems to have learned a lot from the session, and I’m so thrilled that he had the opportunity to go (I’m also happy he’s home, I missed him!).
July’s going to be another busy month. We usually attend the 4th of July parade in my sister’s town, and at the end of the second week, the kids and I are traveling with my mom to Branson, Missouri for a week. We usually go somewhere with her every summer, and Branson is a new destination for us. My mom loves to get out and explore new places, so this will be a fun trip. That will also mark the cut-off point for my daughter: no more naps! She still naps in the afternoon most days, mainly because she’s often up before 6 am and we all need a nap after that! But with full-day kindergarten coming up, she’s got to learn how to function without a nap, so we’ll have a month to adjust before she’s off to school.
And that’s it for June! How did you do this past month???