Sunday, January 29, 2012

Book Addict: Final Total for 2011, favorites, etc

My final total of books read in 2011 was . . .


This is actually the first time since I've been keeping track that I haven't read more than I read the year before. But really, I'm ok with that. ;)

The months I read the most this year were tied March and April with 13 each.

And the least was August when I only read 4.

Averaging 8.3 books a month - pretty good, I'd say.

Some other useless statistics:

# of non-fiction books: 40

youth/childrens: 7

books of poetry: 2

"classics": 5

Winner for Most Pages in a single book: 1011 (Gone with the Wind)

(Runners-up: Scarlett 896, The Thorn Birds 692 and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall 520)

Winner for Learning about Something I Knew Absolutely Nothing About: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (HeLa "immortal" human cells)

Winners for Least Favorite Classic Novels: Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell and On the Road by Jack Kerouac

Book I Most Want to Buy and Reread and Mark and Underline: The Power of Kindness by Piero Ferucci

Book I Recommended for Bookclub: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

Most Unexpected Favorite: Gone With the Wind

The Book I Wish I Could Tell Everyone to Read: Undoing Depression by Richard O Connor

Books I Read After I Saw the Movie (and which I thought was better): About a Boy (both about the same), Everything is Illuminated (movie was actually better)

Movies I Saw After I Read the Book: One Day (toss-up, I think I liked the movie better), Gone With The Wind (book so much better)

A lot of times people ask me what kind of books I like to read or what I like to read about and I'm often stumped by that question. It's easier I suppose to limit it to what I don't feel particularly drawn to read: murder mysteries, action/adventure, horror, romance . . . stuff like that. As a general rule, I avoid blood and guts and steamy romance. Other than that, I'll read just about anything.

Some of the things I read about last year (just for fun):


linguistics relationships and family writing Holocaust music nature/science weird science depression/mental health/grief/happiness ADHD, Aspergers etc health and fitness

housework addiction religion prisoners of war food play and recreation


Frank Lloyd Wright a love affair with a monk Chinese foot-binding traditions midwives time travel and strange children magicians Charles and Catherine Dickens love immigrants dystopian future Trinidad racial segregation journalism crazy musicians cowboys

(just a sample of examples)

And here are some of my favorites I'd recommend from the books I read last year:

1. The History Of Love - Nicole Krauss

2. The Writing Life - Annie Dillard

3. The Power of Kindness - Piero Ferucci

4. The Gifts of Imperfection - Brene Brown

5. Unbroken - Laura Hillenbrand

6. The Lover's Dictionary - David Levithan

7. Girl in a Blue Dress - Gaynor Arnold

8. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake - Aimee Bender

9. Major Pettigrew's Last Stand - Helen Simonson

10. The Tower, The Zoo and The Tortoise - Julia Stuart

11. The Memory Palace - Mira Bartok

Go check out my Goodreads Profile here for the complete list of books I've read (and currently reading), ratings, reviews and all that good stuff. Seriously. Goodreads is where it's at, folks. :)


What about you? Have you read any of those? Are you reading anything good? Got something to recommend to me, something you want me to read and talk about?

It's been awhile since we've talked books. Let's do it!:)

hey look, it's us!

We had a family portrait taken for the first time in about 5 years. I won't even try to expound on how difficult it is to get a picture of all of us together where everyone is smiling at the camera etc. Ah well. We take what we can get! :)

Abigail, age 12
Isaac, age 10
Samuel, age 7
Elisabeth, age 5

me and Zac, getting older

Thursday, January 26, 2012

so, maybe it was just the drugs . . .

but I actually found the whole MRI process oddly comforting and relaxing.

The cozy warm blanket they covered me with. The soft cushions on the sides of my head. The rhythmic thump-thump-thumping and whooshing and clicking, along with periodic slight vibrating. I think I almost took a nap (since I very determinedly kept my eyes shut the entire time).

But . . . it might have just been that nice friend Valium giving me that impression. ;)

(Turned out I couldn't listen to music after all, because of the cushioned helmet thing they had to put on my head to scan my brain. And I couldn't drive for 12 hrs afterwards, so we had to call the school and tell the kids to walk home. And I conked out completely for no less than 4 hours when we got home. But hey, it was a nice fuzzy heavy (and maybe slightly dizzy) relaxed nap. Nice Valium, Good Valium. haha)

I should get the results soon. I'll keep ya posted . . .

(more details for anyone curious about getting an MRI: I had heavy duty earplugs in to dull the noise. And I got an IV of contrasting dye that got to my brain surprisingly fast. But it still didn't bother me all too much. ha) ;)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

MRI playlist

well . . . what to listen to and think about when you know you're going to be confined in a tight tube and can't move or open your eyes for possibly as long as an hour?!?

hmmm . . . I'll let you know what I come up with.

(yes, going in for an MRI for my headaches/ear/eye pain tomorrow morning. Hoping to find some answers. They told me I could bring music. They're also giving me Valium. That could be interesting . . .)

more later . . .

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Friday, January 20, 2012

the back side of the moon

Well, you know how when the astronauts orbit the moon in the movies, they start coming around the back side of the moon and they count down as they are about to lose communication with earth. And then the command central waits for the amount of time that the orbit should take until they come back into signal range and communication is restored.

I am orbiting around the back side of the moon.

For those that don't already know, I have temporarily deactivated my facebook account and most probably permanently deleted my twitter account (haven't decided yet). I am coming around onto the far side. Maybe just to see what it's like over there. Maybe just for some quiet. Maybe just to see if I can. Maybe because it is something I really need to do. My reasons are varied and deep and personal.

I have no doubt that I will come out on the other side and "reestablish communication." The signal will pick back up. I'll be back on Facebook. I'm not sure when though (to quote Eyeore, "days, weeks, months, who knows"). I need the time and space and distance to feel comfortable in my own silence again. I don't know how long that will take. And I deactivated it just to make it harder for myself to get back on (because I know I have no self-control) and I wanted it to be completely clear to anyone else trying to find me or get in touch with me that FB isn't going to work for awhile.

I am just hoping there are still people who read this blog without waiting for the posts on FB. I hope. But I guess it doesn't really matter. I will still be blogging . . . for whoever reads it.

So. No need to worry. I trust FB and everything I really do love about it (because I really do love it) will still be there when I come back. I just need to trust in my own ability to navigate this orbit without any feedback or FB news feeds.;) I need to learn to trust myself.

(And I know there is no need for me to feel like I should explain myself, really, but it felt like a big and drastic step to me, for whatever reason, so I wanted to offer at least something to those who may wonder why.)

ok, enough of that.

Keep in touch! Comments here, email, phone calls, old fashioned snail mail, iphone texting, knocks on my front door . . . there are still lots of ways to contact me, so no excuses!;)
Catch ya on the flip side FB friends!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

headache update

- went to the Dr yesterday. Ended up seeing the nurse-practitioner of something because she could get me in.

- she said it didn't sound like "typical" migraines so she was going to prescribe some other pain meds

- the other pain meds all had some interaction with the other meds I take

- so she ended up giving a sample of migraine meds just in case it's an "atypical" migraine (2 doses)

- looking at the insert I noticed it also has the same drug interaction that the other meds have that she was concerned about

- so I called her back, twice, and talked to a pharmacist

- decided to take it yesterday in the evening

- not sure if it helped. Thought maybe it did.

- took another this morning. It's definitely not helping. That's the last of the sample.

- So. I'm on Day 10 of headaches from hell. 10 Days straight, people. No answers. Nothing helps. Not happy.

- might go back to the Dr, although she didn't really give me any ideas on what we would do next.

The End.

Monday, January 16, 2012


ok, so I don't technically know if what I'm experiencing is migraines. But man. That illustration is a pretty accurate description of what it feels like. Especially behind my one eye. And it hurts even more when I move, so I try to lie very still in bed when it strikes. And sometimes it seems to come and go for days and days. Which means I spend a lot of time in bed, for days. Which means I then feel guilty for all the time I am spending in bed. Which, argh, just isn't very much fun all around. I don't even feel like writing in complete sentences (gee, can you tell?). I don't feel like blogging. Or doing much of anything, really. But I'm considering going to see a Dr, perhaps. I'm debating it. I'm also still getting that crazy nerve pain in my left ear, which the ENT thought was most possibly Trigeminal Neuralgia, but I never did really figure that out. It comes and goes but hasn't "worsened" per se, so I have mostly just tried to ignore it as much as I can. But sometimes, I have the awful one-sided headache, plus the eye pain, plus the ear pain. And I pretty much want to curl up and die. Well, not really. But sort of.
That's me right now.
Off and on for the last week or so.

Someday I really will catch up my Christmas posts and all the end of year summations and all of that. I promise. I just need to not be experiencing this monster headache in order to do that. Ugh.

Any advice on headaches, with eye pain in particular? Anyone? Or anyone have some really good jokes or stories or something to distract me from the pain? Anyone out there at all? hello?! haha. ok.
love to you all. Thanks for listening to me moan and groan and complain.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

some extra special sibling love (Christmas, part one)

My family continues a tradition of drawing names for Christmas gift exchanges between siblings. Even though we are spread throughout the country (Washington, California, Idaho, Utah and Virginia) my mom draws the names, lets everyone know, wishlists are shared, gifts purchased and then shipped hither and yon where they are even sometimes received in time for the holiday! ;)

I had the extra special privilege of receiving a gift this year from my little sister Melissa. Extra Special, you see, because she hand knits these really cool handmuffs and sells them. She did a giveaway on her blog for one a few months ago, and of course I entered, but I didn't win. Boooo. But then, she gave me one for my sibling present! Yay!!:) I love it!!

She also included these other fun little presents, which I include in this little photo montage out of thoroughness and to express my appreciation and thanks to her publicly. Such fun.

So, go visit her very cool blog at Drop and Anchor and tell her I sent you. haha. And go to her etsy shop here to buy a cozy and adorable hand muff of your very own (she'll custom design one just for you if you want!).

Also, Zac's older sister (who is coincidentally also named Melissa) sent us a huge box of Tasty Kakes in celebration of our upcoming vacation to New Jersey this summer (where Zac grew up and where she still lives). Tasty Kakes are apparently only available on the East Coast - so this was to give us a taste (harhar, sorry couldn't resist) of all the sweet yummy goodness and fun to come! (Note: this trip is a really big deal because Zac has not been "home" to NJ for . . . uhhh maybe 10 yrs? And some of our kids have never even met their NJ cousins. And nearly all of Zac's family will be together for the first time in many many years. Anyway, it's been a long time in the planning. We are very excited!)

So, that was some of our Christmastime extended sibling love. More to come . . .

Monday, January 9, 2012

my favorite (a Christmas preview)

ok, is this not the absolute most adorable little thing you've ever seen??

I gave it to Elisabeth in her stocking, for her love of jewelry and my love of snails.

Makes me smile every time I even think about it. :)

Post about Christmas coming up soon~!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Birthdays and Anniversaries

(more December catch-up - with my birthday thrown in for good measure)

As if December isn't busy enough with all the holiday stuff going on, we also have Zac's birthday to celebrate:

And our wedding anniversary (say what you will about the insanity about getting married during the holidays, it was a beautiful time to get married. And it was either December or May. And there was no way we were waiting til May, people.) :)

(our traditional celebratory non-alcoholic sparkling juice, since we don't drink alcohol. Blueberry grape was a tasty new treat.)

And, well, you know how there are traditional gift themes for each anniversary, right? Like the first year is paper or something . . . I don't know what they all are. But just for fun, to do something different this year in the midst of holiday hustle and bustle, I thought it'd be fun to exchange sort of gag gifts related to 14 yr Anniversary theme. Turns out the theme is Ivory. Hm. So.

What you see above is an elephant soap dish that Zac discovered (elephant = ivory - get it?). And all that kept coming to my mind is this quote I've kept seeing on Pinterest:

Hahaha, I almost printed it out to give to Zac, but . . . didn't (I still think it's funny though). And we went out to dinner, too, which was nice, but the restaurant was crazy busy. Oh well.

And here is our new annual Christmas ornament in honor of our hot air balloon ride that was technically a gift for last year's anniversary:

And then . . . after we get through all of that (Zac's bday, anniversary, Christmas, and New Year's), then comes my birthday (as you already know)!

So here are some pics from my birthday, just thrown in for fun.

(what?! You know, just tweeting a pic real quick while everyone waits for me to blow out the candles. Hahaha.)

Perhaps one of my favorite gifts: ;)

And there you have it. More celebrating at our house than you can even imagine! Sort of.

(PS - I was sick in bed on New Year's Eve. Which means Zac was in charge of all of the celebrating. This means all 4 kids stayed up until midnight (yikes) and they all had a really great time with Dad (of course). But no pictures. So no blog post. haha. Oh well.)

December Recitals (in no particular order)

(catching up December)

(this picture belongs at the bottom but I accidentally erased it and now blogger is being a pain to move it back to where it belongs, so here it stays, sorry):

These cute kids at our church Christmas dinner: :)

Samuel and Elisabeth showing off their antlers:

Elisabeth post-Kindergarten-Christmas-Program:

Isaac (in bright striped sweater) waiting to begin the traditional 5th grade holiday flashlight show:

Elisabeth and friends watching their older siblings perform:

Samuel (in bright green/blue knit hat) getting ready to sing:

Elisabeth performing in the Kindergarten program:

Isaac had his annual Christmas piano recital:

Abigail performed a Christmas school orchestra concert:

And she also had a violin Christmas party where she performed for the other students of her teacher - but it was students only, so I don't have pictures. Her teacher is copying the performance for us though. She played Pachelbel's Canon in D with a 14 yr old boy and I arrived as they were practicing it together over and over (after the party was over), still trying to get it right (it was pretty challenging for them). It was pretty cute.:) And, of course, Pachelbel's Canon is one of my favorite songs (or it was, until it got corralled into strange Christmas song arrangements and completely overplayed on the light rock stations all season long. Ahem - anyway). I am thrilled that my daughter can play it now!! That means we can play it together! And me, my mom, and my daughter can play it together! (it's best as a trio anyhow) And that's 3 generations of violinists right there in our family!:)

Anyway - busy month of performances! They all did a fantastic job. I'm so proud of them. (phew! getting through December! Just you wait, I'll get caught up if it kills me!) ;)

Spa Day

(Catching up: December 13 2011)

My little sister Heather came down from Tacoma, Washington for a visit earlier in December and on Tues we planned a girl's day out to The Cliff Spa at Snowbird Ski Resort. We had actually given my mom a handwritten group "gift certificate" to go up there for a day for Christmas last year, or the year before (?) but we had never done it, so this was a long overdue plan. We really wanted to make it work out.Scheduling babysitters and coordinating schedules of my kids' comings and goings made it tricky - and then it started snowing, which was making me nervous (I don't like driving up the canyons much, and I really don't like driving in snow - put the two together and I usually just don't drive). But I made it! Hooray!

Here are my niece Chelsea, sister Heather (not Chelsea's mom), and my mom. All robed up and cozy.

They had a hot tub and a heated pool outside in this courtyard area. So, of course we tried it out.
Despite the icy wind and snow on the ground.

The hot tub was pretty nice.

The pool was . . . really cold (surprise!). Hahaha.

Anyway, back inside we then spent a lot of time relaxing in the "solarium," drinking herbal tea and listening to calming music, with this beautiful view of the mountain outside.

And we could watch the skiiers, too (see those specks?).

And here's me, trying my best to look contemplative and relaxed. ;)

We also tried out the eucalyptus steam room. yummy.

And my sister gave me these awesome reading bookmarks with spaces to take notes, just because she loves me and knows just what I love. :)

Last photos outside:

And a last look at the spa:

And then, if you look underneath the setting sun in that photo you can kind of see a dark wall of clouds settling in between the mountains. Yeah. That was the dense fog that we drove into all the way down the canyon. I could only see about 10 ft in front of me at any one time and it was sort of freaking me out, as I wound my way down the mountain. Thank goodness I was already feeling calm from our lovely day or I might have had a (more) major panic attack. But I made it safely (if slowly) and got home in time to take Abigail where she needed to be that evening, so it all worked out.

All in all, it was a refreshing and wonderful time and I'm glad I got to share it with some of the beautiful women of my family. :)
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