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Showing posts from 2015

Hello from the Other Side

For the record, I'm not a big fan of Adele. Mr. Fob bought her first album back in 2008 and listened to it a lot, and I never really liked it. He bought an album from someone else with a similar voice at the same time, and I think I mixed them up a bit in my head, but either way I hated them both. I just found her voice to be a little too grating for me. But, I've had "Hello" stuck in my head for the past few days (along with most of the English-speaking world I'm sure). Friday would have been our fourteenth anniversary. I tried to tell myself that it didn't matter, but I was still sad. In an even weirder coincidence, that evening I ended up driving past the church where we had our wedding reception and the apartment where I lived while we were engaged (we'd planned to live there, but got into campus housing instead). It's hard to believe that fourteen years have already passed since then--some things have changed a lot and some have not.

But, really, …

Reading Roundup: October 2015

The Other Daughter by Lauren Willig

 Willig has become one of my favorite authors for romantic historical fiction (if you like Kate Morton, you should try Lauren Willig). Some of her other books have used a structure that alternates between the present and the past, but this one is set completely in the past (early 1920s England) and has a more straightforwardly linear structure than some of Willig's other books that I've read. It was a fun read and I enjoyed the story; the resolution to the mystery also surprised me as well. The characters all felt a little flat, however, and I would have enjoyed the book more if it had had more emotional depth.

Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James

This was our book club read for the month, and we all agreed that it was kind of boring. On the one hand, James avoids a lot of the problems that I've seen in other homages to Austen. She stayed fairly true to the characters and the time period in which the books were set. However, the tone of …

Reading Roundup: September 2015

A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley

I have not read anything by Kearsley before, but after reading this book I've decided to look for more of her books to see if I enjoy them as much as this one. I thought she did a great job balancing the historical story with the contemporary one, and I felt that both were equally compelling. There were some elements of the present-day romance that seemed a bit far-fetched, but I still enjoyed suspending my disbelief and enjoying the ride.

Better than Before: Mastering the Habits of our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin

I've already talked about this book on another post, so I won't say much here. I think this could be a useful book to re-read in pieces, rather than trying to read through all at once.

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Sometimes I think I'm getting too old to read YA fiction, because when I read books like this where so much could be avoided by parents that paid attention to what their kids are doing, I just get…

Taking care of myself or taking it easy

A few weeks ago I had a moment of insight after reading a blog post about self-care. The author described learning to take of herself after having a moment with a needy child, and realizing that she was good at taking care of her children by feeding them nutritious foods, helping them get enough sleep, and so on. I've read a lot about "taking care of yourself" and I thought I was doing that, but after reading the article I think that I really haven't been. I've always been the kind of mom who really worries about the physical needs of her children--I try to feed them good food, buy them comfortable clothes they like, limit their screen time, and enforce appropriate bedtimes. And yet, as soon as they aren't home or are in bed, I stay up late, use the computer too much, and eat way too much unhealthy food. Because I'm an adult. 

Well, if too little sleep and too much sugar are bad for my kids, why do I do that to myself? Why hadn't I thought of this befo…

Bonus Day

Last night P. Bibby had a bit of a stuffy nose and was acting tired and whiny. The tired and whiny bit didn't surprise me because we had a busy weekend doing fun things together (on Saturday we took family pictures in the morning and then spent some time at a Day of the Dead celebration). This morning, however, when I woke her up to get ready for school she was definitely running a fever. It wasn't a high fever, but definitely enough to keep her home from school and childcare. Mr. Fob is often the parent who takes care of sick kids because he has a flexible schedule and works remotely--it's not hard for him to keep an eye on a kid and still get work done. Most of my sick leave during the last few years has been spent on myself. Unfortunately Mr. Fob is traveling for work this week, so I had to take the day off. 

Taking the day off, especially if I didn't plan on it in advance, is always hard for me. The work I do is certainly not life-or-death in its importance, and at …

Motivation

Desmama commented on my last post to ask me if I had read Gretchen Rubin's new book Better than Before, which is about forming new habits. I actually did read it last month, and if I ever get around to reviewing all the books I read last month (I read a lot of books), I will write a brief review of it. I have, however, been planning to write a longer post about the book and some of the thoughts I had about it. First of all, I enjoyed the book but I didn't love it. It didn't feel as life-changing or revelatory as some similar books I've read like The Power of Habit or Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength. I think some of the reason why I didn't like the book was just personal preference--the book is written more like a memoir than other similar books I've read, and in order to enjoy it you have to like the author and feel like you can relate to her. I didn't always feel that way--my life is very different from hers and I didn't feel like …

Writer's Block

I'm forcing myself to write this post. Almost every night, after I get the kids in bed and tidy the house, I sit down at the computer to catch up news and blogs and do my homework. Too often, instead of homework or writing or something productive, I end up scrolling through Facebook again and again, hoping someone will update something. Then I hop over to BuzzFeed and mindlessly read through a bunch of posts, most of which have the same jokes and the same GIFs I've seen a bunch of times before. I have a lot of ideas for writing in my mind and yet I never seem to take the time to write them down. Not only have I been neglecting this personal blog, I've also had a hard time getting things up on Segullah lately and I always feel guilty about that. Additionally, I should be more dedicated to my homework--I've been getting by in my classes, but I'm not very dedicated.

I realized the other day that I'm scared of writing. When I think about sitting down to write, I fee…

I want to remember

A few weeks ago P. Bibby helped me unload the dishwasher. She arranged the plastic cups on the counter and declared "these are the kings of Enchantia!" in a loud voice. She was wearing a rainbow tutu and her cape that is supposed to be Elsa, but looks more like a Mexican wrestler since it was purchased at some tourist trap in Ensenada. It was one of those small, but memorable moments that I want to remember forever because it was weird and cute and hilarious. 

Most days I can't believe that my baby is five-and-a-half, can dress and feed herself, and is going to kindergarten every day. In many ways, the intense baby years are behind us and are not coming back. I'm slowly getting rid of baby toys, board books, wipes, and other paraphernalia stashed in the corners of my house. Longtime readers of my blog will probably know how happy I am to leave those years behind--the stress and angst of the last decade are quite thoroughly chronicled here. At the same time, I feel a b…

Reading Roundup: August 2015

Lemon Tart by Josi Kilpack

I started reading Kilpack's series when I started reading Whitney Award finalist a few years ago. I started in the middle of the series and never went back to finish the previous volumes. It didn't feel too much like a problem--the books stand on their own quite well, and the plot threads that weave through the series are generally understandable in isolation. Last month I saw this book on a display and thought I ought to read it .  I enjoyed this book and thought it was really well-written--in fact, reading it after some of the later books confirmed my impression of some of those books as being a little less polished than others. This book has solid writing, interesting character development, and a plot with many twists and turns that I didn't see coming. It also establishes a lot about Sadie's family that I ended up missing in later books because I didn't have the foundation of the first one. I think I should go get the next few books to…

Reading Roundup: July 2015

A Heart Revealed by Josi Kilpack

This book is billed as a romance, which it is, but it's really more of a coming-of-age story. I enjoyed it and really liked watching the main character grow, but overall I felt like the tone and the characters didn't really feel like they fit the historical setting. 

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

Hannah usually writes contemporary fiction, and I've read a few of her other books and thought they were a bit melodramatic for my taste. I'd heard good things about this book and wanted to see how she would do with historical fiction. It didn't really impress me--I guessed a lot of the twists in the plot before they happened, many of the characters were really just caricatures, and the little details just didn't ring true (too many scenes felt like they were based on novelizations about the war, not actual historical detail). There are many other great novels about World War 2, so there really isn't much need to read this one.

Wa…

Reading Roundup: June 2015

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

On the one hand, this book is pretty ridiculous if you think about it. An extremely privileged teenage girl (her mom's an artist and her dad's a Nobel-winning geneticist) is distraught by a family tragedy, ends up in France and finds a secret diary, and discovers new facts that change what we know about music history. Oh and (spoiler alert) there's some time travel involved. The writing is pretty overwrought to match the craziness of the plot. However, despite the fact that it was a bit silly, I really enjoyed being along for the ride.

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

This was our book club pick for the month, and while it was not everyone's favorite, I really loved it. It started out slowly, but after a while I started to become really invested in the characters (even though I did not always like them very much). There is a lot going on in the novel--the plot is fairly complicated, and really doesn't pick up urgency until the …

Reading Roundup: April & May 2015

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

When I read the second book first in this series I felt like I was caught up on what was going on in the world and admired Sanderson for doing such a good job setting things up so that I didn't really feel too lost. However, after reading the first book, I realized that there were quite a few things that might have been more understandable if I had read it first. Oh well--it was still a great read and somehow felt too short despite reaching a thousand pages. I'm eagerly anticipating the third book when it eventually comes out.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Just like I can't resist eating some cheap candy bars now and then, I have a hard time resisting mystery/suspense books like this. Even though they all end up having similar plots, they are still a lot of fun to read and a great escape for a few hours. This one had the interesting twist of including a particularly unlikeable and unreliable narrator, and I honestly didn't ev…

Sometimes I Am Too Optimistic

This past week was not very good. I was tired and didn't sleep well most nights--I should have been writing a draft of my paper that is due next Sunday, but I haven't done it yet. There were several nights where I felt exhausted and decided to try going to bed early instead of writing, and instead I didn't fall asleep right away so I was still tired and I have no draft of my paper. I also spent most of the week stressing about our final exam that took place this morning. Spoiler alert: I took the exam and think I did a pretty reasonable job even though it's hard to write seven decent short essays in 75 minutes.

We're all adjusting after the death of our sweet kitty last Saturday. Surprisingly the kids have been mostly fine with the new state of things. My other kitty spent the first few days wandering the house and meowing, which was more heartbreaking than actually saying goodbye to the other cat. She peed on the couch on Monday but has otherwise not changed her b…

Today Was Strange

While I was making dinner on Thursday night I heard the unmistakable sounds of kitty barf happening in the hallway. I got there too late to move the cat, but realized that she was barfing up a large quantity of white foam and water. As soon as I saw that, my heart sank--that's exactly what has happened the last two times she ate something and got sick. I cleaned up the mess and finished dinner; later I checked the basement (her preferred barfing spot) and found more evidence of a sick cat. Friday morning she was curled up on the downstairs couch, and when I got home last night she was still in the same spot. This morning she made her way upstairs and lay down next to the water dish, looking sadly at it but not drinking. Thankfully the vet's office has Saturday hours, so I decided not to wait until Monday and gave them a call to make an appointment. 

Before taking the cat in to the vet, I had already decided that if she had a foreign object in her stomach I wasn't going to h…

Reading Roundup: March 2015

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

If anyone has been keeping track of my reading habits over the years, they will have noticed that I have a weakness for the "literary thriller of the month" (as I like to call it). I don't read a lot of mysteries otherwise, but every now and then I grab something like this book because it sounds fun. I figured out most of the plot twists in this book before they were revealed, but the ending still managed to have a few more that surprised me. Not the best thriller I've read, but certainly not the worst.

The Faraway Nearby by Rebecca Solnit

This is the first time I've read anything by Rebecca Solnit, and I fell in love with her beautiful writing and powerful insights. This book is hard to describe; it's a series of essays that are interconnected, and somewhat chronological. It's not quite a memoir and not quite a simple collection of standalone essays--the chapters describe a period of time in her life, with themes and images that…