2017 Bookish, Blogging, & Otherwise (Non)Goals Ramble

This post feels a little belated and rambly, but I definitely needed the extra reflection time, and am just going to go with it. The end of 2016 flew by in a blur of work, here and there, and everywhere, ergo I didn’t get much, or really any, time to reflect on the year that was, and the year that will be. I’m not keen on “resolutions” or making big, momentous proclamations at the start of the new year, but I do like to give some thought on positive changes moving forward, and as well as emphasis on leaving the toxic behind.

I know in the greater realm, 2016 was a bit of a garbage fire. However, for me personally, it will go down as one of the best of my life. It brought me my son, Baby E, who is almost 9 months old already (WHAT!?!?). It was a year of growth, of change, of joy, of hardship, of little memories, of life-altering moments.

However, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that every single second was the-best-time-ever, and I enjoyed every single moment of every single day. That would be a lie. It’s fucking hard. Some days I’m so exhausted I don’t even know what to do with myself. I love Baby E more than anything and everything, but every once and awhile I just want to leave the house for an hour without thinking about pumping, or nursing, or nap times, or what-have-you. Some days I just want to sit on the couch for fifteen minutes, with nothing but peace and quiet for company, and not be obsessing over what I *should* be doing instead. Sometimes (wait, all the time) I want to shake off this overwhelming, stifling, choking guilt associated with being a working mom, even though I know it’s what’s best for our family, and thus what’s best for Baby E as well. BUT, I wouldn’t change a thing. Day in, day out, it’s pretty amazing being a mom, watching Baby E change and grow, and knowing it’s because of me, and The Hubs, and our love.

All of this to say, I’m not really going to set any concrete goals this year. I love this space, and yearn for it when I’m missing in action. I love reading, perusing your blogs, interacting and getting giddy over books.

I have been, and will continue to read to Baby E every day. I also feel like I’ve slowly been able to reintroduce a somewhat daily not-just-board-books reading habit back into my life, if only for fifteen to twenty minutes per day. I’m planning on attempting to read some new releases for review consideration, but will greatly limit what I request and accept. I’m hopeful I can visit my favorite book blogs on the regular, comment here and there, and otherwise engage on social media when I’m up to it. I’m loosely planning on at least one blog post here per week, and any more than that will be a bonus. With that being said, I’m also really going to try to give myself a dang break during the times when none of this happens the way I want it to.

I have many ideas swirling around in my brain vortex. Blog post ideas about curating a child’s library. Some non-traditional review inklings. A gander at some non-bookish blog posts, perhaps. Would anyone be into that? I want to develop and stick with a fitness routine. I want to meal plan, food prep, and eat healthy most of the days of the week.

Lastly, most importantly, and most encompassing of *everything* mentioned above and elsewhere, is I want to concentrate on teaching myself the skills to live a more intentional life, to remove the clutter, strike a balance, and focus on what matters the most.

If you’ve made it this far, thank you for stopping by, and here’s to the new year. Hope it treats you and yours well.

 

It’s Monday, January 9th. | What Are You Reading?

Another week gone by, where does the time go? I finished my first book of the year, The Vegetarian, and think it was overall an excellent choice. I didn’t love the end, but didn’t hate it either.

Next up, I decided to try out a short story collection, The Man Who Shot Out My Eye Is Dead, which releases later this month, and so far it’s pretty good, but a little too early to tell. I really struggle with short story collections in general, so also concurrently picked up Wolf In White Van, which I know everyone was dying over a couple of years ago when it first came out. I never said I was timely, but I do want to read it before Darnielle’s next book releases in February. Lastly, I’m nearly to the end of Dreams From My Father, and will be sad to see it go, along with being super extra sad forever and ever to see the author himself go later this month as well.

So, I did the incredibly cliché thing of hitting the gym first thing this year. I have wanted to get back into a fitness routine for quite some time since Baby E has been on the outside (of my body, that is). Just finally when I felt like it was actually a feasible option, I had to go and have emergency abdominal surgery. Oy. My ten pound lifting restriction was finally over the week of Christmas, so obviously that wasn’t going to happen given social obligations and my hectic work schedule. Ergo, first of the year it was… just like everybody else.

I’ve never been a runner, and honestly, don’t really have any desire to ever be a runner (blasphemy, I know). I hate the treadmill, and find it so mind-numbingly boring, I never make it longer than twenty minutes. But, what has always worked for me in the past are group classes (i.e. Body Pump, Body Combat, yoga, etc). This time around, I’ve decided to give Cross Fit a go, and so far I’m digging it. I have found I need the group atmosphere to keep my energy up, an instructor to keep me moving, and the public shame of stopping so I don’t just say “good enough” and retire before getting in a beneficial work out. I’ll keep you posted, but currently my legs feel like Jell-O, and it’s great.

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

 

New & Noteworthy | January 2017 Edition

I always love perusing Edelweiss, NetGalley, and publishing house websites in anticipation of the latest books hitting the shelves. I’ve never really done routine posts on the blog highlighting  those catching my attention, but let me tell you, I have some intense spreadsheet action keeping track of every minute detail. For the new year, I have decided each month to pare down my massive list and share with you the five books topping off my queue.

Disclaimer: I’m incredibly unlikely to read all five of these books this month, or even this year. My hope is this exercise will help me better focus my wandering and fickle attentions and hone in on what I’m *most* hoping to get to.

The year is starting off with quite the juicy stack, and any one of these appear incredibly worthy of my time. Abbreviated synopses courtesy of Goodreads. Of course these are in no particular order, because chronology would make too much sense.

Idahoby Emily Ruskovich (Random House, January 3rd)

One hot August day a family drives to a mountain clearing to collect birch wood. Jenny, the mother, is in charge of lopping any small limbs off the logs with a hatchet. Wade, the father, does the stacking. The two daughters, June and May, aged nine and six, drink lemonade, swat away horseflies, bicker, sing snatches of songs as they while away the time. But then something unimaginably shocking happens, an act so extreme it will scatter the family in every different direction. In a story told from multiple perspectives and in razor-sharp prose, we gradually learn more about this act, and the way its violence, love and memory reverberate through the life of every character in Idaho.

The Man Who Shot Out My Eye Is Dead: Stories, by Chanelle Benz (Ecco, January 17th)

A stunningly original debut collection, The Man Who Shot Out My Eye Is Dead is about lives across history marked by violence and longing. In ten stories of impressive range, Chanelle Benz displays a staggering command of craft as she crisscrosses through time and space to create a complex mosaic of humanity. The characters in Benz’s wildly imaginative collection are as varied as any in recent literature, subverting boundaries of race, gender, and class, but they share a thirst for adventure that sends them rushing toward moral crossroads, becoming victims and perpetrators along the way. 

Difficult Women, Roxane Gay (Grove Press, January 3rd)

Gay returns with Difficult Women, a collection of stories of rare force and beauty, of hardscrabble lives, passionate loves, and quirky and vexed human connection. The women in these stories live lives of privilege and of poverty, are in marriages both loving and haunted by past crimes or emotional blackmail.

The Most Dangerous Place On Earthby Lindsey Lee Johnson (Random House, January 10th)

In an idyllic community of wealthy California families, new teacher Molly Nicoll becomes intrigued by the hidden lives of her privileged students. Unknown to Molly, a middle school tragedy in which they were all complicit continues to reverberate for her kids: Nick, the brilliant scam artist; Emma, the gifted dancer and party girl; Dave, the B student who strives to meet his parents expectations; Calista, the hippie outcast who hides her intelligence for reasons of her own. Theirs is a world in which every action may become public postable, shareable, indelible. 

Fever Dream, by Samanta Schweblin, translated by Megan McDowell (Riverhead, January 10th) 

A young woman named Amanda lies dying in a rural hospital clinic. A boy named David sits beside her. She’s not his mother. He’s not her child. Together, they tell a haunting story of broken souls, toxins, and the power and desperation of family. Fever Dream is a nightmare come to life, a ghost story for the real world, a love story and a cautionary tale. One of the freshest new voices to come out of the Spanish language and translated into English for the first time, Samanta Schweblin creates an aura of strange psychological menace and otherworldly reality in this absorbing, unsettling, taut novel.

 

Is there a January release you’re most looking forward to?

 

It’s Monday, January 2nd | What Are You Reading?

Ya’ll, I’m so behind the times. The Tournament of Books 2017 long (SO LONG) list was released almost a month ago already, and I just found out about it this past week. Oof. Alas, I’ve only read 9 (almost 10!) of the (so ridiculous) 120 books mentioned, and so will just be waiting around to see what makes the short list. I’m hoping to squeeze in one or two of the “for sures” before the short list is announced, although nothing is certain in ToB logic.

Glaciers wasn’t gelling with me, and so I put it aside for now, and decided to go with The Vegetarian, which I’ve been meaning to read for ages now. I’m over halfway through, and am finding it a compelling little read, and it seems to be kicking my new reading year off well.

I’m also still listening to Obama’s Dreams From My Father, and am continuing to enjoy it immensely. I really should have read it eight years ago, instead of waiting until the end of his presidency to get to know him and his past a little better. Late is better than never, I suppose.

I hope everyone had an excellent holiday season, whatever you celebrate, and I look forward to sharing this next year with you. I’ll have some thoughts and a resolution-y goal-y type post up later this week, but am still trying to gather and flesh out my complex thoughts and emotions. Until then…

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

 

It’s Monday, December 19th | What Are You Reading?

I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s wondering how in the, what the what, is it Christmas already? I’m working the holiday this year, and normally am not that bothered to do so… but it’s Baby E’s first Christmas, and I find myself a little melancholy over my my life choices bringing me to this place where I have to work my baby’s first Christmas. I know it’s not a big deal, and he won’t even remember, but, but…

Ya’ll, I finished a book this past week! (!!!) My next read is a short one I’m hoping to squeeze in to the remaining days of the year, and one I’ve heard excellent things about. I read Marrow Island by Alexis M. Smith earlier this year, and LOVED it, so am excited to get to her first book Glaciers

This week is shaping up to be just as busy and non-stop as the last several have been, but I’m hoping to take a few mindfulness breaks when able and enjoy this time with my sweet family. There are a handful of traditions the Hubs and I maintained our first several holidays together, and we are hoping to start a few more in the years to come. One of my favorites is BFD a.k.a. Breakfast For Dinner on Christmas Eve. Oh heck, that’s a favorite thing year round, amiright?

Happy Holidays, and It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

 

#AMonthofFaves2016 | My Winter Reading List

amonthoffaveshome

[I thought I’d pop in and out of this month long blogging event hosted by the lovelies Girlxoxo, Traveling with T, and Estella’s Revenge. It’s no secret I’ve been in a blogging and reading slump, and thought this might be a nice way to end the year on a high note. Maybe? Yes? I’ll try.]

Today we’re talking books. This is still a book blog after all… though you may not know it based on recent (in)activity. With my sustained lack of reading mojo this year, I’ve missed out on some hot and hyped 2016 releases I’d like to still make a little time for this winter.

The Vegetarianby Han Kang

Homegoingby Yaa Gyasi

Dear Fang, With Loveby Rufi Thorpe

Shelterby Jung Yun

The Underground Railroadby Colson Whitehead

 

What’s one book you’re hoping to squeeze in at the last minute?

 

It’s Monday, December 12th | What Are You Reading?

Well, I haven’t done a Monday post since August. Whoopsies! Although I haven’t really read a spectacular amount since then, so it’s probably a good thing I didn’t just post the same books over and over for weeks at a time. Anyways, here we are. I feel like I’m finally getting some of my reading mojo back. The Hubs and I have been reading in the evenings after Baby E goes to bed, and it has been nothing short of delightful. Although we also made time to watch Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, because I had never seen it, despite it being released ten years ago. Again, whoopsies. I thought it was about time, especially since we have a President-Elect who apparently can’t decide if climate change is real or not. Oy.

I’ve been reading The Mothers since forever ago, and am loving it a lot, despite how long it’s taking me to get through. So many quotable quotes and passages that make me say “YES, THIS.”

I’ve pared down a bit on my podcast consumption, which has given me time to get going on my next audiobook Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, by Barack Obama. He narrates the audio himself, and I find it soothing to listen to his voice while I drive. It’s pretty interesting so far, and I think I’m going to enjoy it.

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

 

#AMonthofFaves2016 | These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

amonthoffaveshome

[Oops, guess I never hit publish on this baby. I thought I’d still post it, even though it’s late to the party. Such is life, and I’m happy to make it to the party at all.]

I thought I’d pop in and out of this month long blogging event hosted by the lovelies Girlxoxo, Traveling with T, and Estella’s Revenge. It’s no secret I’ve been in a blogging and reading slump, and thought this might be a nice way to end the year on a high note. Maybe? Yes? I’ll try.

Today, we are talking about some of my favorite things. The top of the list is obviously my family, friends, health, employment, home, and so on. I couldn’t be luckier to live the life I do every day.

Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Soaps. These soaps are the absolute best of the best. They generate such an amazing lather, last forever, and come in a variety of delicious scents. My favorite, hands-down, is Peppermint.

COFFEE. Not only for the caffeine, but also that comfort of a warm beverage to start the day. I used to love the fancy, sweet, 18-word-long drinks, but lately have just been going for straight-up, black coffee, no frills. Stat, give it to me, now.

Fuzzy socks. I live in the frozen tundra, otherwise known as Wisconsin, and it’s gets frigidly cold here. When the temperature starts to drop, I dig out out my extensive fuzzy sock collection, and go wild by tucking my fleece-lined-pants into them to keep that ice cold wind at bay. Sexy, I know.

Smoothies. It’s a serious addiction, people. I’m (im)patiently waiting for my Nutribullet to break so I can finally invest in the amazing Vitamix. It’s a thing of beauty. Similarly I’ve also really been digging smoothie bowls. I love tapping into my creativity with the toppings, and adore how pretty the finished product looks. Some of my favorite toppings are hemp seeds, coconut chips, and frozen berries. As an added bonus, it feels like you’re eating a gigantic bowl of ice cream, minus the associated guilt!

Dry Shampoo. I’m lazy, and dry shampoo has been one of the best things to ever happen to me. Yes, it’s that good. And in case you are wondering, YES I still shower daily, however I only wash my hair the traditional way about twice per week. It’s the only way to live, and you should try it.

Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day. I despise cleaning, but love a clean home. I hate using nasty chemicals, especially since I have a dog and baby, and tend to lean towards products that are plant-derived and responsibly crafted. I love many of the scents, but there’s something about the Basil scent that is calming, and makes completing cleaning chores significantly more enjoyable.

These are just a few of my day to day favorite things that make life just a little more enjoyable, one simple thing at a time. Let me know one of yours down below!

Checking In, And Checking Out

checking-in

I don’t know how to talk about or process my feelings about the election. It’s like I still can’t quite get a grip on this. I feel sad. I feel angry. I feel guilty. I feel desperate. I feel numb. I feel like shit. I feel motivated. I feel…

I’m not going to lie, I don’t know what this space is for me right now. I want to be blogging, I want to be reading… but it just isn’t happening, and yet I don’t know how to stay away completely. There is only so much time in a day, and it’s always filled right to the top with being a mom, being a wife, working full time at the hospital, teaching part time, and then all the rest of the day to day business of living. I love all of these aspects of my life, and wouldn’t give up or change any of it… I’m just over here, trying to live in the now, cherish the small, beautiful, fleeting moments, and not get too hung up on what I *should* be doing, or what I used to be able to do so easily and quickly, and no longer can.

Adding to that, we have decided to up and sell our house, move into a short term rental, and look for a different house with plans for a full renovation in a different part of town. Luckily our house sold quickly, and so now we’re preparing to move in just under two weeks. Oh, not to mention, I unexpectedly had to have emergency surgery last week, and have a ten pound lifting restriction for six weeks… with a nearly 17 pound baby, and moving day looming. Yup. (Not going to lie, when my concerning symptoms first presented themselves on Wednesday evening, I thought I was having an extreme physical reaction of anxiety and despair in regard to the election results. Took me a minute to realize, no, just kidding, I need to go see a surgeon).

All of this to say, hello, hi there, I miss you, and I miss this. I can’t say when I’ll be back consistently, but I’m around, I’m trying to read, and I’m checking into your blogs when I can. Until then…

 

What I Read | August 2016

What I Read August 2016

This post should actually be called “What I Didn’t Read,” but alas, here we are. Now that I’m back to work, my reading life is in dire straights. I need to learn to manage my expectations, and realize what is actually possible to accomplish in a day, and that yes, indeed, I actually do need to take a break and get some rest once and awhile. Over achiever for life, right here.

I also delved into my extensive podcast backlog this month, which means less time for audiobooking. It was a nice break, to be honest, and I will likely continue to listen to more podcasts than I had previously. There are just so many good ones these days, and oldies but goodies I need to catch up on!

My grand total for the month, as follows: 2 books, and both of which had been started before August even began. I’ll take it, and call it good (enough).

Read

The Glorious Heresies, by Lisa McInerney

This one took me so long to read, I don’t even know how to begin to develop my thoughts on it. I know I liked it, but some of the finer details haven’t really stuck around. I’m sure it’s not the book’s fault.

The BFG, by Roald Dahl

Baby E and I have made it through our first chapter book! We started this one when he was only a week or two old, and finally finished it. It takes a long time when you’re only reading a page (or paragraph) or two at night, depending on a good or a not-as-good mood at the time.

DNFed

War Porn, by Ray Scranton

Sadly, just no. It was not working even a little bit. I’ve heard the same from a few others, so in this case it might not be *completely* my fault.

 

What was your favorite read of the month? What book are you most looking forward to picking up in September?