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Reading Roundup: November 2012

Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson

I'd heard a lot of good things about this book, but I wasn't that impressed by it. It wasn't bad and it wasn't good--just a light little read for a Sunday afternoon that left me feeling kind of 'meh'.

Are You My Mother? by Allison Bechdel

I really love Bechdel's Fun Home and looked forward to reading this follow-up. It was just as poignant and insightful, but in a different way. Despite the fact that it is a graphic memoir (and be warned, there are a few graphic scenes), the text is quite dense. It is much more self-referential and more complex than Bechdel's earlier book and took a lot more work to read. Several weeks after reading I still finding myself thinking about it--that to me is one of the signs of a good book.

Another Piece of My Heart by Jane Green

I wanted to like this book much more than I did. The plot was interesting and most of the characters were well fleshed-out. But the author decided to jump around betwe…

Checking in, Sort Of

I didn't do a check-in post last Saturday because I was exhausted. Tomorrow my youngest brother leaves to go spend three years in Guam with the Navy, so last weekend we had a quick family-togetherness weekend. It even worked out that my second-youngest brother was passing through town on tour with his band so we all got to be together for a short while. Last Friday night I drove up to Salt Lake to watch them perform in a somewhat sketchy location (the music was great despite the surroundings). Then I got a very small amount of sleep and turned around to drive back up to Salt Lake in order for us to have a family breakfast together before he left to drive with his band to Boise. Then I spent the rest of the day preparing for the party we had last night to say goodbye to my little brother. The weekend was quite nice and everything went well, but there were a lot of things crammed into just a few days.

I have also spent most of this week feeling exhausted and stressed out. I didn'…

Reading Roundup: October 2012

Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton

Lupton is one of my new favorite writers; I like how she not only creates a good, complicated plot, but she also writes elegantly and in a more descriptive style than most mystery writers. In this book she made a fairly different narrative choice. It bothered me at first, but after a while I liked it and I really enjoyed the book.

Miracle by Elizabeth Scott

This book was generally pretty good except that I felt like it was too short. I know that it is YA but it still felt like it ended before the plot got going. I thought the writer's descriptions of PTSD and how people react to a tragedy were well-done, but I had a hard time relating to the protagonist and it seemed like the book ended without a good resolution.

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

I read The Forgotten Garden several years ago and I absolutely loved it. Unfortunately I was really disappointed by Morton's other two books and I spent some time debating reading this one. Thankfully I got o…

Saturday Check-In 3

Oh, hello again. Apparently my blog is going to devolve into weekly check-in posts. I hope that doesn't scare off the few readers that are left. Oh well. Last week's goal was to go to bed by 10:30 for four nights of the week. I managed to do that on Sunday night and I felt great the next morning. Then I didn't on Monday night because that's the night I work late. Tuesday I was going to be in bed on time but I forgot about laundry that I needed to get done before Halloween the next day. The next night I was exhausted so I did go to bed on time, but stayed up a bit late finishing a book. I don't remember what happened on Thursday and Friday nights but it didn't involve going to bed on time.

Physical: I ate too much candy this week and I feel like a slug. Now that we are heading into the holidays I feel an even greater urge to be more active and feel healthier. I just need to start doing something. I've also been craving salad and fresh food all week but I hav…

Saturday Check In

I meant to get another post or two in at some point during this week, but obviously that didn't happen. It's hard to believe that an entire week has gone by since I last wrote. Time sure flies fast around here. This week was actually pretty uneventful, which is always a good thing. Work was moderately stressful since we had five brand-new people start this week; thankfully we had everything in place for training and they all seem like good, competent workers. As far as my goal of getting more exercise during the work day (from last week), I didn't do such a great job of accomplishing that but I will try again next week. I did go to the temple Tuesday morning since I was a bit ahead on hours and that helped me feel better about a lot of things. Here's the update on how I'm doing right now:

Physical: Generally feeling good, just tired. I heard back from the doctor's office that all my tests were normal, including my thyroid levels and blood iron. That means that a…

Weekly Check In

My friend Josh Weed recently started doing a thing on his blog where he does a 'weekly check-in' post about how he is doing physically, emotionally, and spiritually. He encouraged readers to respond with their own check-ins through comments, but I'd rather just put it up on my own blog. I might try doing this for a few weeks and see how it goes. This week went by quickly. Things were a little hectic because work had a lot of crazy stuff going on (including two coworkers who were on vacation and a bunch of new hires that need training), plus my sweet sister-in-law and dear friend suddenly lost her father about ten days ago and couldn't babysit for me all week. I certainly don't hold it against her at all and I've spent all week thinking about her, but making different arrangements in ours schedule can be a bit tricky. Thankfully everything worked out well and we all survived this crazy week. Hopefully next week will be a little more calm and happy for everyone.

Fall Break

I'm sure everyone is dying to read a play-by-play account of our Fall Break vacation. Right? Well, even if you're not, I'm going to write it down so I can remember it all some day. This year I decided to take the kids on a little road trip down to Zion National Park. I don't remember when I got the idea exactly, but a few months ago I realized that I had never been there and that it would be a fun place to go for Fall Break with the kids. Plus I had not used any of my vacation time this summer (because I hadn't really earned any yet), and if you work while your kids are in school then you have to figure out something to do with them when they have time off. I'm not going to take time off during all of their holidays, but Fall Break seemed like good timing.

We left on Thursday afternoon; I had planned to leave a little earlier in the day but I ended up going in to work for a few hours and we just weren't ready to go until later. I thought it would be fun to …

Reading Roundup: September 2012

Daughters of Jared by H.B. Moore

I have liked most of Moore's other Book of Mormon novels, but this one just didn't really work for me. I really liked the main character, Naiva, but her motivations weren't always clear to me. I also felt that the world-building in this novel was incomplete; her other novels based on the Book of Mormon had a fair amount of background taken from the scriptures and it felt like she included a lot more details about the characters and their world. In this book I felt like there were gaps and inconsistencies in the setting and elements of the story, which was made even more frustrating by the fact that the scriptural story the action is based on was fairly flimsy as well. I'm curious to see if Moore continues with the Jaredite-era stories or she will go back to her original series and continue from there.

Heaven is Here by Stephanie Nielson

I have heard a lot about Stephanie over the last few years and I occasionally read her blog. It was ver…

It's October!

I don't know if I've blogged before about how much I love October. I love the cooler temperatures, the fall leaves, the fact that the first weekend is almost always a mission reunion for me and General Conference. Next week the kids have a few days off for Fall Break and we are going on a little trip down to southern Utah to see Zion National Park and a few other things. I love going on road trips and I hope this will be fun for everyone.

Today we had parent-teacher conferences at the kids' school. I always like hearing about how other people perceive them and getting feedback on how they are doing. S-Boogie's teacher loves her and thinks she is very sweet. Interestingly, her school teacher, her Activity Days leaders, and her church teacher always describe her the same way: 'such a little doll--such a sweet girl'. S-Boogie is right on grade level as far as her skills go; she is a very fast reader, but her comprehension scores are a little low. I have noticed th…

Good, Better, Best

The kids spend almost every Friday night at their dad's house, and every other weekend they stay through until Sunday morning. The other day I told a friend this and he asked "wow, don't you think that's so great?" Yes, it is great for me to get a break and it is great that they get to spend time with their dad. I still don't always completely enjoy their time away because they really should get to spend every day of their lives in their own home with two parents. But I still enjoy the fact that I get some time for myself every weekend and I try to make the most of it. However, I have realized that no matter what I do, I will never have enough time to do all the things I want to. This is an interesting development in my life because for a number of years I felt content with my life and I felt like I had enough time for the things I needed and wanted to do. Spending forty hours of my week working has a way of throwing a wrench into things.

Yesterday was a typi…

Peach Saga

Here in Utah it is peach season. Everyone I know is eating peaches, canning peaches, blogging about peaches, talking about peaches on Facebook, and so on. My little peach tree in the backyard has unfortunately not gotten much bigger in the last three summers and still only produces five fruits at a time (they were pretty tasty). I love fresh peaches, but I also really love home-canned (bottled?) peaches in the winter. Two years ago I did a bunch of canning but I didn't do any last year and my pantry is looking sparse. I optimistically thought that I could can a batch or two fairly easily. I was a bit wrong.

I first thought of doing the canning last Saturday. However, that plan was hampered by the fact that the peaches needed to be purchased a few days in advance and running errands on weeknights is tricky for me. I also needed time on Saturday to mow the lawn, do shopping, clean the house, and run a few other errands that don't get done during the week. So last Saturday I purc…

Mad, Sad, and Glad

The other day I read an article on the internet about communication with kids and one of the commenters suggested a game they play at dinner called "Mad, Sad, Glad" with their kids. Each person at the table has to share something that made them mad, something that made them sad, and something that made them glad for that day. I tried it tonight with the kids and I really liked it; we will definitely be trying it again in the future. At first Little Dude responding grumpily with "everything made me mad and nothing made me glad." That's pretty much his first response to anything. But then he talked about some good things he did at school. Even P. Bibby shared with us that she was sad when she hurt her toes (that happened while I was making dinner and I'm still not sure what happened--I think she was closing a door and it grazed her toes) and that she was glad when she ate lunch at a restaurant with her auntie today.

I was mad and sad this morning when Little …

A Good Day

Today was a good day. I woke up on time, got the kids up on time, made them eggs and toast for breakfast, and even had time for scripture study before we left for work and school. I left work a bit early so I could go with Little Dude to his music class. He is going to a class called "Let's Play Music" that my neighbor does. They learn music theory through play, and they have a parent come with them every other week. I will take a bit of time off work to go with Little Dude once a month. It was fun--he was a bit squirrely and likes to do things backwards on purpose, but he knew all the right answers to the questions faster than most kids in class. We got done with his class in time for me to come home and make a decent dinner and do some cleaning and other chores. I even cleaned the bathroom tonight while Little Dude and P.Bibby were in the tub. Now the kids are all in bed and I'm baking chocolate chip cookies.

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A small part of me feels a bit of guilt about having…

Reading Roundup: August 2012

The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

I decided to re-read all three of these books in quick succession simply because I had read them quickly before and with a lot of space in between. I also recently saw the movie and it made me want to go back and revisit the book. This time I was actually even more impressed by the first book than I was the last time I read it. It holds up well to re-reading and I think it is really well-done as far as plot, writing, and characters go. I also think it could have held up on its own as a stand-alone novel, but at the same time the way the ending goes it is nearly impossible to resist the urge to continue the story to its end. That last sentence sums up how I feel about the other two books. The second book is decent, but it feels like a middle-trilogy book. I really dislike the third book, even more on a second reading than I did the first time. At the same time, it is so clearly the natural end of a trajectory started in …

Kitties!

Saturday morning I drove up to my friend's house to pick up the kitties. She had a cardboard carrier I could put them in, so we loaded them up and I put them on the floor on the front passenger side of the car. I could tell that they were unhappy while we drove home, but thankfully they didn't make any messes and they didn't freak out. They just cried off and on during the drive. I had a bit of adventure when I realized that my gas tank was almost empty and the first time I got off the freeway the gas station turned out to be closed and there wasn't another option besides getting back on the freeway and driving some more. I had a brief vision of myself stranded and out of gas at Point of the Mountain with two angry kitties in a box, until I drove a few more exits and found a working gas station.

When we got home I brought the kitties in and took them down to the basement since I decided to put their litterbox in the bathroom down there. That's the least-used bathro…

This and That

Although many of my friends have blogs that seem to have fallen by the wayside a bit, I still have a few that regularly publish stuff. I really enjoy reading their blogs and every time I do I think "I should just write more." I shouldn't worry about waiting for a better title or a more coherent theme. I like writing about my life but I spend too much time trying to craft a fabulous post and not enough time actually practicing the craft of writing.

The kids started school last week and we all started a new routine. So far things seem to be going along all right. They have made it to school on time every day and most mornings we have even managed to have scripture study first. I have been making a greater effort to get up early enough to manage the morning routine and I have also been trying to force them to stick with it. It still requires a lot of coaxing and reminding on my part, but I think we're making progress. Right now my main frustration is that when I leave t…

The End is Near

The end of summer is almost here. The kids start school next week; today the school posted the lists so that they can see what class they are in. S-Boogie has a teacher that I have heard good things about, but none of the friends she has spent the last three grades with are in her class. She has taken that bit of news well, thankfully, and at least they get lunch and recess time to hang out. Little Dude has a teacher that I'm not familiar with, but his friend is in his class so I think he'll be all right.

I think we mostly had a good summer. It went by fast and I feel like I didn't do as much as I would have liked to. Next summer I should feel more settled in to my job and I'll have some time off, so that will help me be able to get a little more time for fun things. The kids did spend almost a week with my parents at their house, and then took another trip to California with my sister to go camping with my family.

I am, as always, anxious for a new season to start. Fa…

Reading Roundup: July 2012

Next to Love by Ellen Feldman
I love historical fiction about World War 2 and its aftermath so this book was a perfect fit for me. I liked that it stretched from the war years into the next decade, because this a period in American history that is not often written about. My only complaint with the book was the fact that it jumps forward quite a bit in time and covers many of the same events from multiple perspectives; this made me feel like there was so much more to the story that I could have read about and I had a hard time just settling and really enjoying the book as much as I would have liked to.
The Submission by Amy Waldman
It's been a while since I read a book that pulled me in emotionally in the way that this one did. It is not a mystery in any way, but the twists and turns in the plot kept surprising me clear up until the end. I was also unhappy with the ending; that doesn't mean this isn't a great book. It made me angry, and sad, and frustrated, and that to me …