Wednesday, February 23, 2011

2 Decades Ago

the little tiny baby in this photo

is 20 years old!!!

That's just crazy.
And that means that the cute girl in the orange shirt (aka: me) . . .
was sweet 16 . . .
20 years ago.
Yes, indeed.

So, happy birthday to my sweet niece Chelsea!
I can't believe you're all grown up now.
(and thanks for making me feel old)
hehe. ;)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Book Addict: Final Total for 2010 and some favorites

ok, I've put off this post for far too long. The time has come to just write this post and be done with it. And so . . . at long last . . . .the final total for the # of books I read in 2010 . . . is . . .

wohoo! My goal was to reach 100 and I exceeded it and feel pretty excited about that. :)
And for some silly meaningless statistics:
The month I read the most was Oct with 19
The month I read the least was Aug with 3
(uh yeah, it appears that after I only read 3 in Aug, I kinda sorta freaked out about reaching my goal and followed up by reading 15 in Sept and 19 in Oct to make up for it. Amazing what a little determination can accomplish). ;)
And I averaged, overall, a nice hefty number of 9.3 books a month for the year. Hey that ain't too shabby, eh?
I read 36 nonfiction books
5 Classic Literature
and 21 Young Adult or (older) Children's Lit
The best YA series I'd recommend from this year's reading is: The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. I was completely hooked. Although I will be more careful from now on to wait until a series is COMPLETE before starting it. I like just plowing through at my own pace, thank you, rather than waiting for the next book. And actually I prefer reading books that are able to manage a beginning, climax and ending all within the confines of a single bookbinding - but sometimes a series can be still be good.
The book that I think of probably most often, even still: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. And maybe this is because I also subscribe to her blog and get daily happiness quotes from her newsletter every weekday, but I find myself often thinking of what happiness is, how we define it, whether or not we really do "choose" it, or what we can do (or not do) to increase it in our lives. The research she put into the book impressed me and I just find the topic fascinating. It's always interesting to me to take a deeper look at concepts that we often just take for granted as part of our lives.
The best "classic" I read this year: The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. I can't tell you why exactly, but I really liked this one. Also liked the Thomas Hardy books I read (The Mayor of Casterbridge and Jude the Obscure). I didn't get to quite as many classics last year, though, so I'm hoping to do better with that this year.
And, the best book I wish I had written: Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. I really enjoy non-conventional formats and this sort-of memoir arranged by brief alphabetical encyclopedia entries was fantastic. I'd love to organize my life history in this sort of format sometime just for fun. :)
If I counted correctly, I have 2 authors who tie for the most books I read by them:
Rick Riordan with The Lightning Thief series (with 5)
and 5 books by Madeleine L 'Engle. As far as L'Engle books go, I will have to say that if you have not read the Wrinkle in Time series, you should give it a try. And if you have and didn't like them, you should try L'Engle's non-fiction. I find her so insightful - the books of hers that I own are marked and underlined all throughout. And also, either if you did or did not like A Wrinkle in Time, I'd recommend looking into her books for adults just for fun. There are some of her books I've read that I haven't liked all that much. Definitely some I've liked more than others. But I like her enough that I'm still determined to read all of her books. Making some progress there, at least. ;)
Last year I also commenced what I refer to as my "love research." When I posted on Valentine's Day last year I mentioned a class I took in college called "The Love and Morality Seminar" which I really liked and learned a lot from. I remembered a lot of the material came from a guy named Leo Buscaglia. So I just decided to check out some of his "freaky-good" books from the seventies and see if I could glean anything else from them. And then from there I found myself looking into some other books on the topic of love. Maybe this seems like a kind of hokey subject to be doing any sort of reading on - but I'm not ashamed to say I found it all very interesting. Love is a good thing, right? Of course I'm right. And in total, I read 5 Love books. So that topic wins the Topic of the Year Award.
And, finally, here is a list of some of my favorites (by no means comprehensive - these were just the ones that jumped out at me as I scanned down my list):
1. Jude the Obscure - Hardy
2. Yours Ever - Mallon
3. 84, Charing Cross Road - Hanff
4. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet - Ford
5. The Adoration of Jenna Fox - Pearson
6. Bright Star - Keats
7. Walking on Water - L'Engle
8. A Mapmaker's Dream - Cowan
9. The Speed of Light - Rosner
10. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake - Bender
11. Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life - Rosenthal
12. The Age of Innocence - Wharton
13. The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank - Feldman
14. Abide with Me - Strout
15. The Forgotten Garden - Morton
Go here to see my Goodreads list of all the books I read last year (and beyond).
Happy Reading!
Oh and what were some good books you read last year??
(PS- My Jan and Feb Reading Round-ups will be coming at the end of this month, as well as - I hope - the official introduction of the Book Addict's Bookclub. In the meantime, we are reading Cranford, by Elizabeth Gaskell and talking about it at the end of Feb! yahoo! I'm excited.) :)
(and, blogger is being weird on me and not including the spacing between paragraphs that I'm actually using, so if this is all cramped together, I'm sorry, it's not my fault) :(

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Love Your Body

One of the daily challenges this week for the Honor Your Body thing I'm doing (for Healthy Lifestyle points) is to list 10 things you love about your body. Huh. On first thought this seems like an exasperating task. If you're anything like me, what this immediately brings to my mind first is all the things you don't really love so much.

(nope, not my body)

Am I even allowed to love my body? This one? The 36 yr old, post-4-babies, out of shape and overweight one? Hello?!? ummmm . . . . yeaaaaah.

It took some deeper thought.

But here goes:
1. I love that my body works. All these intricate systems, circulatory, muscular, nervous, digestion, etc - everything works more or less as it's supposed to. Isn't that amazing??

2. I love that my body can heal itself from most minor injuries and illnesses - and I don't have to do a thing about it!

3. I love that I have detached earlobes. haha.

4. I love that my body is capable of swimming and roller-skating and dancing. I'd even go so far as to say that I am, or was, even pretty good at those things. ;)

5. I love my longer second toe.

6. I love having blue eyes.

7. I love my 5 senses. My body can see, hear, taste, touch and smell. Isn't that wonderful?

8. I love that I'm left-handed.

9. I love that my body can do more, and push past more limitations, than I give it credit for.

10. And finally, the thing I love most is that this body could conceive, carry, birth and breastfeed 4 incredible little babies. It is nothing short of miraculous how most of the time, for most women through the ages of time, this entire process actually works at all. I am awestruck when I think about what my body has actually done in bringing these children here.
And for all of that, I will honor and love my body.

Wow. I didn't even know I could do that. :)
How about you? (You try listing 10 things and see how you feel afterwards. It's pretty good!)

Monday, February 14, 2011

will you be mine?

It started when I realized I wasn't going to be eating sugar on Valentine's Day. No chocolate? No cinnamon hearts? No delectable dreamy desserts? No sweets for my sweethearts? Sigh.
This was going to be harder than I thought.

So I starting thinking.
And I thought I might as well build off my strengths, so rather than attempt any crafty cutesy whatevers, I bought post-it notes. Lots of them. And I started looking through my collection of quotes. And searched for even more.

And then last night I put them up all over the house. Some, more for my kids. Some, more for my husband.
And as Zac woke me up to say goodbye this morning, he told me I'd outdone myself but that he sure felt loved this morning.

And I loved hearing the kids skittering around the house this morning looking for more notes to read: in the bathroom, in the cupboards, in the fridge. That makes me so happy.

My favorite thing that I "put together" (harhar) this year, though, is this wooden heart puzzle I found on etsy (and my sign that I added to it).
As Isaac told me this morning, "mom, did you see there's even 6 pieces to the puzzle and that's how many people are in our family?"
oh yes, dear child. I noticed.
And that's precisely why I just couldn't resist it. :)

Wishing you all a Valentine's that puts all your pieces in place . . .

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Baby Love

Today I finally had the chance to meet my brother's baby for the first time. He's about 2 months old now and just about the cutest little thing ever. This is the first time anyone in my immediate family besides me has had a baby in 14-15 yrs, so it's kind of a big deal. :)

And I am just happy as can be to be at a point where I can enjoy babies again. Not babies of my own, mind you. But babies at all. It's been awhile since I could honestly say that, actually. But now I am completely ready to snuggle and bounce and rock someone else's baby, and then hand him back to his mommy and go back to enjoy my own quickly sprouting offspring. It feels good.
Enjoy (and more Love-ly posts to come tomorrow) :)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

10 things

Zac's work has a wonderful Healthy Lifestyles program where we (employees and spouses) earn points for exercising, getting a physical exam, etc and then we redeem our points for money every year. $$$$$!!! It's awesome.

Sometimes they even have extra little challenges for extra points. Wohoo! And this month they are having a Love Your Body challenge, and linking into the Operation Beautiful project. I love the idea behind it. And I love getting extra points. So I'm all for completing the little daily tasks and weekly goals they have set out to get the points.

Today's task is to list 10 things you are grateful for. So here we go:

1. the internet (!!)
2. my new sock solution so that I never have to match socks again (mesh bags and sock locks! amazing)
3. free zumba classes
4. my kids who bring me happiness just by the miracle of who they are
5. my husband who brought tears to my eyes the other day just by mentioning something random he liked about me, out of the blue
6. 6 free song downloads a week from the library
7. being able to get up the driveway despite the snow
8. getting packages in the mail (even from things I ordered myself)
9. people who know more than me and help me out without making me feel stupid
10. challenges and goals that give me things to work for and a feeling of accomplishment - even for simple little things.

What are you thankful for today?

(PS - the weekly goal is to avoid any Weight Related Talk. oooh, good one. So I'm working on that. Wanna join me?
oh and for the Healthier Me challenge, this week we are drinking 64 oz of water a day, along with food journaling, avoiding sugar and junk, getting 5 fruits and veggies a day, and exercising at least 4 days a week. Whew!! It's been really good for me. See? I'm a sucker for "challenges" to get me actually doing stuff. I really need external motivation sometimes.) :)

Monday, February 7, 2011

out the window

today we got a very wet windy snow that blew up against the windows and stuck there.

it made the view interesting, so of course I took pictures :)

that's all I've got for ya today.
more later . . . .

Sunday, February 6, 2011

well that was fun: 2010 recap

(better late than never)

- had my big 35th Birthday flashback party

- started journal rereading project

- continued my (private) personal poetry compilation project

- my sister Melissa and her now-fiance Chris visited

- Zac finished one bedroom in the basement

- continued participating in our neighborhood bookclub

- continued blogging, all year long. of course

- went to family skate nights and rediscovered how much I love it

- Abigail got her first pointe shoes (thanks to a very generous friend) and we started cleaning the ballet studio to help out with her class tuition

- Samuel turned 6

- Isaac was the narrator in his class play of Charlotte's Web

- I had a great 2 day getaway with Zac's work conference in Logan

- we got to go to Disney on Ice for free with the tickets my mom won

- Abigail performed as Thing 4 in the school play

- we made use of our free Thanksgiving Point pass I won

- Elisabeth turned 4 and Isaac turned 9

- we walked in the March For Babies

- Abigail continued violin lessons

- she also sang in a regional Hope of America performance

- and she turned 11

- and we went on our family road trip to Indiana

- had a great family vacation in IN and visited lots of relatives on Zac's side of the family

- Abigail continued in ballet

- Zac ran his 17.5 mile mountain Wahsatch Steeplechase race

- we took the kids on a hike to Stewart Falls

- I did a lot of walking for exercise

- Zac and I got to go to Lagoon amusement park (for free!) as a "date"

- Elisabeth had a crazy overnight sleep apnea study done at the hospital and then had her tonsils and adenoids removed

- we made use of a summer pool pass

- had a fun family reunion with my mom's side of the family

- went on an incredible trip to Baltimore (and VA) with Zac's work conference

- Elisabeth started preschool

- Elisabeth and Isaac played soccer

- Zac ran his first 50 mile race in the Pony Express 50-Miler. And I "got" to be his support crew.

- I went with Elisabeth on her preschool field trip to the pumpkin patch

- I did National Blog Posting Month and posted every day for a month

- we had Thanksgiving dinner at our house

- we had a Christmas party/birthday party with Zac's nearby siblings

- Isaac continued piano lessons

- we visited The Treehouse Museum, children story museum

- and we celebrated New Year's with ice cream and homemade bread - wohoo!

- and I read over 100 books (final total coming soooooon . . . .)


So, all in all, a pretty great year I'd say. I've probably forgotten some stuff, but that covers most of the eventful moments I think.

One of the things that made this year fantastically different for me was the opportunity to go on a couple business trips with Zac. That has never happened before and it was really wonderful. I also rediscovered a lot of old music I used to listen to (due in part to my b-day bash flashbacking and journal rereading) and actually found a lot of newer music too. Having an ipod has made a huge difference to me in this endeavor and it has made me a much happier me in many ways. :)

I don't know - I can't always say that I have accomplished any huge things, not any big things noticeable to many other people at least. There have been many trippings and failings on my part this last year. There have been really rough spots. But I feel good about this coming 2011 right now. So that's a good thing.

(And maybe sometime I'll post about some of my goals and stuff for this coming year. Or maybe not. We'll see if I get around to it eventually). ;)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The (possible) Book Addict's Bookclub: Classics Edition

So, I've had an idea. Tell me what you think .

I've seen various online bookclubs, and I get lots of good ideas from a lot of them even though I don't usually participate. And our little local neighborhood bookclub group has sort of completely dissipated (due to some of the rather key members moving away or having babies), which really is too bad. :( (I hope we can get it going again sometime soon . . . but decided to give it a rest for a few months at least)

So, I've been thinking that maybe I could have a sort of very informal online bookclub here on my blog. Or in other words, maybe I can tell you the books I'm planning on reading, one a month, and you can choose to read along with me (or not) and then at the end of the month we can talk about it. What do you think?

I kinda thought I would pull books from the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list (taken from the book of that name), primarily because they are generally considered more "classic" literature and I don't want to be judged for my own more personal reading preferences. And this gets me reading more of them myself to cross of my list. ;)

I have some reservations and concerns about how this will work. First, I get my books from the library and have to put things on hold and wait until they are available. This means that sometimes I'm not able to get a book before the chosen month (for example, I've been waiting for Kerouac's On the Road for 2 months now. There are only 3 holds before me and I have not a clue why on earth it's taken so long). I'm not sure I can be held accountable for always keeping up on this. Also, I am choosing books I have NOT read and therefore cannot vouch for their worth, cleanliness, language, content, value or anything other than that they were on the 1001 list and sounded interesting to me. And I've toyed with the idea of picking a book only every other month, to give more time to acquire and read the book, but then that might get confusing. But a classic a month might be too ambitious? You think? I don't know.

Hm. But if we think it's worth a try, I'm ready to go for it.

Here are some of the ones I've noted that I'd like to read:

1. North and South - Elizabeth Gaskell
2. Cranford - Elizabeth Gaskell
3. On the Road - Jack Kerouac
4. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall - Anne Bronte
5. Shirley - Charlotte Bronte
6. Agnes Grey - Anne Bronte
7. Return of the Native - Thomas Hardy
8. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
9. The House of Mirth - Edith Wharton
10. The Devil and Miss Prym - Paulo Coelho
11. Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
12. Like Water for Chocolate - Laura Esquivel
13. Cat's Eye - Margaret Atwood
14. Empire of the Sun - J.G. Ballard
15. Tender is the Night - F. Scott Fitzgerald

If I decide to go forward with this idea, I'll put out a schedule with the book listed for each month, but for now I am starting with this one (since I got it for my birthday and already have it in my grimy little hands):

Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell.

So, I decided to just throw the idea out there (to the figurative wolves - haha) and get started on a book for February and then decide what to do from here.
I need input!! Anyone?!?
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