books

Favorite Books of 2018

Before we get too far into 2019, I thought I’d take a look back at the books I most enjoyed in 2018 and would highly recommend to others. My tastes veer toward mystery, suspense, psychological thrillers, and current fiction as well as British fiction (I have a love affair with London and England that began in the summer of 1981 when Lady Diana married Prince Charles for all the world to see). British mysteries are a favorite!

I have to say it was a wonderful reading year for me. I am a pretty tough critic and usually I don’t hand out to 5 (out of 5) stars very often – though I would lean a bit toward four and a half for many if that was allowable on Goodreads.  In 2018 out of the 83 books I read, a stellar 19 were 5-star reads (22%) versus 2017 where only 11% were. Let’s get to it. They are in no particular order and I’m not going to list them all here because we’d be here all week. Continue reading “Favorite Books of 2018”

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Life

I’m messing up my resolutions already

I’m not sure why we circle around the date of January 1 to recalibrate our lives. Lose weight, eat healthier, exercise, set new goals. The only goal I banged out of the park in 2018 was my reading goal which I consider research toward my goal of one day writing a novel.

But this year, as I was on my last minute shopping run to Barnes & Noble, my eyes lit up when I saw a daily calendar of writing prompts by Writer’s Digest. I have really missed the daily prompt on WordPress which was way more than just a prompt because it allowed me to connect with other writers and discover new voices and I admit it keeps me away from blogging regularly because I no longer get that daily email.

Continue reading “I’m messing up my resolutions already”

Life, Uncategorized

Books over Christmas

Christmas is coming but you wouldn’t know it if you walked into our house today. I have been procrastinating about cleaning the dining and living rooms which hold the remnant mess of our summer kitchen remodel. There are always better things to do (reading, reading, reading) with my free time! I kept telling myself I would get to it and even this week when I knew time was running out, I couldn’t ignore the siren song of my Kindle. I recently finished I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara and then I became obsessed about anything else I could find out about the rapist and murderer who terrorized California in the 70’s and 80’s. And then I said to myself let me just start another book before I jump into cleaning.

Continue reading “Books over Christmas”

Life

Having a “me” day

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Today is a small miracle. A gift, really. Even with the rain and the damp and the lingering sad thoughts from watching the Kavanaugh/Ford hearing yesterday.  Today is good. I can finally rest and do what I want to do for me today.

I don’t take this gift lightly and promise myself not to spend any time on my phone cruising twitter for the aftermath of yesterday’s hearing or browsing other social media sites to kill time. I am not going to an exercise class or to the grocery store and I’m not going to do any laundry. Thanks to the very fun girl’s night (another important form of self-care!) at my house last Friday, the house is still in decent shape.

I survived a raucous sleepover last weekend with my son and his friends. I survived a week with my husband out of the country, running Liam to activities every night during the week and because he doesn’t take a bus, I’ve done drop off and pick up duty too. Plus there is the job I get paid to do as well. I am tired.

This is by no means a complaint. Being productive is a fulfilling achievement in its own right. I love ticking things off. I can handle the unexpected errands (like how I had to run and buy Liam a new school blazer – the fourth one since the beginning of the last school year – because he is a serial misplacer of things and because school pictures) and how we ran out of dog treats mid-week. I’ve got this.

But I don’t have to do any of that today. I can have a day for me and knowing that is enough to lift my tired soul. I can read. I can write. I can go to a movie if I want. I can stay in my pajamas all day or not. I can make cookies or do nothing. I can breathe.

MC

 

Life

2018 Goals Check-in

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Back in January, I wrote out a lengthy list of things I wanted to accomplish or do better in 2018. I got myself a brand new fancy notebook (I definitely have a problem with buying notebooks and journals) and promptly lost it under a pile of papers and books to read. So much for getting organized! I dug it out last week to see what I wrote and how I was doing with it. Continue reading “2018 Goals Check-in”

Life

Weekend Busyness

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Here we are at Monday again. How does this keep happening? Here’s a brief longish synopsis of things I did.

Friday. I consider this part of the weekend now since I no longer work on Friday. I put on my parent hat, though, because it was parent/teacher conference day. The school year is winding down and so is my patience with a couple of his teachers. In fifth grade, they start rotating to various teachers for their subjects and there are about a dozen different classes to catch up on. The appointments run 15 minutes apiece and after looking at how he’s doing overall, I decided to catch up with four of them. Three he’s had past behavior issues with and one I missed last time. Two I deliberately chose not to meet with due to their behavior issues. And the rest I see often enough that if anything was going on they needed to talk about, we could address at any time. The meetings went pretty much as expected and the behavior issues are less intense than they were at the beginning of the year.

From there, Liam and I went shopping to pick up some last minute items for the trip. I took him to Kohl’s and let him pick out some activewear since he doesn’t have much he hasn’t outgrown from last summer. This turned out to be the best idea of the day because I usually pick out what I want for him (based on my style) and the kid definitely has a style of his own and gravitated towards things I wouldn’t have picked out. He loved one outfit so much he wore it the entire weekend even though the weather is not yet conducive to shorts and t-shirts. We collected just about everything we need and it was nearly noon by the time I got him home. I headed to a meeting (AA).

The afternoon was spent packing Liam’s bag and then organizing my own things and it was pretty interesting that everything was going to fit into my Vera Bradley weekend bag. I will also have a backpack for the misc items like electronics, guidebooks, and miscellaneous supplies. We didn’t do much else but one of my e-book holds came through from the library and it’s really good. I was halfway through a physical book from the library that was due back that day and I was unable to renew it because someone was waiting for it. It was called Mrs. by Caitlin Macy and while I liked it, it wasn’t enough for me to keep to pay the library fines. The e-book I started and am 60% through is called The Girlfriend by Michelle Frances and it’s the story of a mother whose son becomes entangled in a less-than-desirable relationship (from the mom’s point of view). There are twists and turns galore. It’s also set in London and I love books set in London.

That evening, Liam had lacrosse practice and then we went to a fish fry place for dinner. This is the most delicious place for a fish fry and it’s a good reason to look forward to Lent because we rarely go outside of that time of year. Needless to say, I stayed up late reading!

Saturday morning I go to a meeting first thing. It’s a great way to start the day and this is my favorite meeting of the week. I love getting there early (by 7:30) because there is an older lady who I can talk to about things I’m dealing with as a parent that are hard (she’s like a surrogate mother) and she helps me talk out whatever issue and I always feel better. There was something that came up during one of the parent/teacher meetings I was very concerned about and she allayed my fears and that I was doing a good job as a mom.

I haven’t updated you on my running lately but it’s going pretty good. Since I’ve been back from Florida, my ability to get to the gym regularly has suffered but when I get there I’m doing it. I’ve managed to get to 20 minutes of running and 10 walking for my workout and I got a good workout in both Saturday and Sunday this weekend. Liam also tested for his next level of black belt and did a great job. This kid really amazes me with his dedication to Taekwondo. Testing lasts about 3 hours so that’s a good chunk of the day. We went to church that evening in anticipation of skiing Sunday but decided not to go after learning the conditions were “mashed potato”. Not my favorite.

Saturday night we made pizza at home and then at 7:00 I was tucked into bed with my book! This is how I love to spend a Saturday night. Maybe not every Saturday night but this was the perfect weekend for it.

Sunday morning is another meeting I love but I rarely make due to getting to church or skiing. It was a very good meeting and I saw a couple of friends to catch up with. I don’t know a lot of people at this meeting but I uncharacteristically engaged someone new in conversation before it began and I will now have someone new I know next time I go.

When I got home, Liam and I went out on some errands. I have been trying out Stitch Fix and had to return the items I didn’t want (which is to say most of them). I ended up returning the library book that was due Friday, returning one of my Target purchases from Friday and had to go back to Kohl’s because they forgot to remove one of the security tags from a top I bought. I was fairly annoyed by this because it was an inefficient use of my time but then I ended up finding a great spring basket for the front door. I have officially obliterated my Lenten sacrifice of giving up shopping!

I was also in search of a pair of white leggings for an outfit I wanted to wear on the plane. I visited White House Black Market, Chico’s, Loft, Talbots, Target to no avail. I gave up and we went to the gym. When we got home, Jim showed me a new purchase he made – an Apple watch – and he was pretty thrilled about it. He offered to buy me one too (this was something we talked about for our anniversary last fall but never did it) and I said why not! So off we went to the Apple Store and I picked out a similar watch. I love it already but I have very little knowledge of its capabilities yet! But in the mall, there was an entire store devoted to leggings! How’s that for synchronicity? Yup, they had the white leggings.

Once home, we both set up our watches and then I made dinner. After which Jim and Liam watched basketball until 60 Minutes. If you haven’t heard who was on last night, I might think you are living under a rock. I half listened while I read my book and wish I hadn’t.  And now we are here on Monday morning.

MC

 

 

 

 

 

 

books

Forgetting the books you loved

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With so much noise on the internet, I wish Twitter would track the links I click on and read. Interestingly, the link I’m trying to find is about not retaining what you read. It was a great explanation of why we don’t remember things long term, but the more I write about it, the more the article comes into focus and I may have a chance of tracking it down in case you want to read it.  Pamela Paul, the editor of the NYTBR is quoted in it. There was also a bit about Plato not wanting to ruin his memory by writing his ideas down because he felt writing things would be the death of memory. The article (aha, I found it!) asserts that the more we read, the less we retain and it’s all down to the internet because we really have no reason to keep things in our memory because we have new ways to retrieve them.

I remembered Pamela Paul was quoted because I specifically recall the things she remembers when she reads. The physical book itself, where she bought it or who gave it to her, the setting she read it in. The trouble was, that was about all she remembered. We are fortunate to have the internet and the place I go to remember what I read and to get a brief synopsis of it is Goodreads. There were times in the past where I would read a book and then at a later date, purchase the book again or check it out from the library only to remember halfway through I had already read it. It rarely happens anymore.

Continue reading “Forgetting the books you loved”

Musings

How do you solve a problem like football?

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Football season is over! Of course, there will be the post-game rehash of what happened, the half-time show and the commercials but the long season of men in tight pants, tossing around a ball is over. Can you tell I’m not a fan? To each his own, I guess, but apparently, I’m in the minority because over 114 million tuned in to the big game yesterday.

I did give football a go many times through the years for the people in my life: family, friends, boyfriends and my husband. I could never understand the game and why each 15 minute quarter seemed to last an hour. Whenever I asked questions during a game I was sushed because you are not permitted to talk during the game due to rules of social propriety unless you are yelling at the players and coaches on TV.

Continue reading “How do you solve a problem like football?”

books

Hopes and Goals

 

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Over and over we are told to write down our goals. Make them specific. Make them actionable. Make them accountable. Usually, I’m tempted to go overboard and decide to overhaul everything in my life from diet to exercise to a promise to write every day. I also throw in things like being more patient, showing more compassion to others and being more organized. While these are all good intentions, I think this year I need to be a little more realistic. While I do want to cut out sugar, I know it’s going to be baby steps. While I want to get to the gym more, I’m not going to make a rigid commitment to go every day. Same with writing.

One thing I’m going to commit to is to give other people positive feedback as much as possible. I follow a lot of authors on Twitter and have come to realize that they like to hear when you enjoy their work (makes sense!). I am an avid user of Goodreads to track my reading but have done very little by way of reviewing the books as I read them. I vow to change that this year and already have a couple of reviews under my belt. I realize this is only January 3rd so I’m going to ask a question that has always rattled around in my reading brain – do audiobooks count toward your total book count for the year?

Continue reading “Hopes and Goals”

Writing

Read to write

my readingThis tweet from Lauren Groff (who I’ve never read but may have to change that next year) resonated with me and where I am at this stage. I haven’t been writing and that’s ok. I used to feel guilty or embarrassed or something that I professed to want to be a writer and yet not write and then I made myself write every day whether it be in my journal, on a random scrap of paper or in the drafts section of WordPress, never to see the light of day. I have over 20 drafts in my WordPress folder if anyone is counting.

Back in October, I was so excited to have Fridays free to write when I went to a four day work week. Guess what? That time began to fill with other things mainly related to parenting and home life. I finished up my Thursday night writing class a couple weeks ago having missed half of the eight sessions because even when I try, I find it impossible to put myself first for fear I’ll disappoint someone else.

Continue reading “Read to write”