Saturday, December 31, 2016

Goodreads Challenge 2016

Going over to Goodreads just now to link the books I read, it was asking me if I'd read books in 2016 and most of them I had read years before, but one was in 2016 so now I'm 1 book over the goal I set. :) I'm so proud of myself.

Here are the books I read in 2016. Here are my lists of best and worst; just lists for now, and in future posts I'll break down each list with my comments.

These are my 10 favorite:
1. The Ghost Writer - Philip Roth
2. Wild - Cheryl Strayed
3. The Princess Bride - William Goldman
4. Doc Epitaph - Mary Doria Russell
5. This Dark Road to Mercy - Wiley Cash
6. The Blessing of a B Minus - Wendy Mogel
7. Everyone Brave is Forgiven - Chris Cleve
8. Shutter Island - Dennis Lahane
9. Lila - Marilynne Robinson
10.  I Feel Bad about my Neck - Nora Ephron

And here are the 10 Worst:
1. The Darkest Secret - Alex Marwood
2. The Woman Upstairs - Claire Messud
3. And Then She Was Gone - Christopher Greyson
4. Dead to You - Lisa McMann
5. Before I Go to Sleep - S. J. Watson
6. When I'm Gone - Emily Bleeker
7. Wreckage - Emily Bleaker
8. The Butterfly Garden
9. Woman with a Secret - Sophie Hannah
10. Luckiest Girl Alive - Jessica Knoll
11. Broken Grace - E. C. Diskin
12.Vanishing Girls - Lauren Oliver
13. The House by the Lake - Ella Casey
14. Everything We Keep - Kerry Lonsdale
15. The Storyteller - Jodi Picoult

And the Most Disappointing:
1. Me Before You - JoJo Moyes
2. The Hangman's Daughter - Oliver Potzch
3. In the Woods - Tana French
4. Good Things I Wish You - A. Manette Ansay
5. The Paris Wife - Paula McLain
6. The Night Circus - Erin  Moregenstern
7. I am the Messenger - Marcus Zusak

And books I'd call Pleasant Surprises:
1. The Bookman's Tale - Charlie Lovett
2. Ella Minnow Pea - Mark Dunn
3. Those Across The River - Christopher Buehlman
4. The Madwoman Upstairs - Catherine Lowell
5. The Likeness - Tana French

Well. That's more than two lists. I guess I have some explaining to do.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Two Years Later

Lately I've been thinking about blogging again so I came over here and noticed the last post was almost 2 full years ago. A LOT has changed in two years (although those pictures of a clean house are very satisfying).

Here are some of the changes in the last two years:

1. I started working everyday (30 hours, so not exactly "full time").
2. We moved to a new house (same town).
3. We started skiing/snowboarding with the children.
4.  My baby (the first one) became a teenager.
5. I started using essential oils.
6. I got involved with Girls on the Run.
7. I ran a 10K. Twice.
8. I went to Target too many times to count.
9. I got to level 2055 on Candy Crush (that's dedication).
10. I realized how much I like things to be organized by color, alphabetical order, or both. And for lists to be 10 things or at least even numbers.

My next plan for a post is to recap my year in reading. I joined the Goodreads challenge and read 89 books this year . . . I thought I might not make it but finished the 89th one yesterday, with 3 days to spare.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Two Days Later

Yes, I know. It's more than two days since my last post. But I took the pictures two days after my last post, to document my progress.

Prepare to be amazed. (I still am, looking at these pictures.)

Living room:

Dining room:
Kitchen (biggest shocker of all):
And Sam's room (this was a big project involving moving a second bookcase into his room so Lego objects have display space and also removing the child-installed Lego carpeting)(Also you can't see it in this picture but he made his own bed and I left it):

And these, so you don't think I'm a superwoman who not only has an exquisitely clean house but also has time to photograph it:

Basement craft area, recently rearranged to accommodate Kate's perpetual motion engine of making things.

A limited shot of the master bedroom. It's a good day since the laundry is piled at the end of the bed rather than on the bed.

Kate's room, aka, Serentiy Now!
Actually now this room has been cleaned and I have an organization plan for the American Girl Doll things. I should scamper up there and take a picture before it gets trashed again.

So there you have it. I put my money where my mouth was, or, more accurately, spent my time where my aggravation was, and I'm pleased with the results. Or at least the results as they looked when I took the pictures.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Day 362

It's the 362nd day of 2014 and it occurred to me that "everything" I've worked for this year has blown up in the last 3 days.

Wow, that sounds dramatic.

By "everything," I mean having the house at a general, livable level of cleanness and orderliness for most of the time. And starting with Christmas Eve, when the kids left the wrapping of their Christmas Eve present in the middle of the living room floor, every nook and cranny of this house seems to have exploded with Legos, laundry, books, toy packaging, cookie tins, toy parts, dirty dishes, Christmas-theme fabric, pine needles, and/or spilled dessert ingredients.

Right now I'm taking a break to regroup and face another area. I have high hopes that we'll welcome 2015 with slightly fewer objects on the floor and slightly more folded articles of clothing than we currently have.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Harry Potter

{started 2/12/12)
I like* Harry Potter. I read the first two books in a day each, about 7 years ago, when I was visiting my sister. I had heard about them but wasn't that interested until she said she'd read them and liked them. The first four were out, maybe the first five, and I had to wait for the last ones. I even went and stood in line at midnight for the last one.
Last summer, before the second part of the last movie came out, I reread the 7th book again. I was amazed at what I'd missed (and what I thought the movie got wrong that was in the book) - since I read it so fast, literally about 18 hours and some of that, but not much, was sleep). When I visited my sister and baby Lily, we watched the first 6 movies back to back (which was really fun, seeing the actors grow not just from kids to adults but also as actors).
Then I got the idea to read all the books again, in order, without starting something else in between (which actually ended up being something I had to stick to - I'd be in the middle of a HP book and think, what else should I start reading?).
So about the second week in January (2012) I started. I'm going to make a list of my thoughts and observations and if I end up with 10, I'll link up with top ten Tuesday (added 2014 - does she even do Top Ten Tuesday? I've been majorly absent from blogland. I like this list but don't know what else I was planning to add. I like what I've wrote, though).
1. The details are there. I was amazed at the movies, how intricate the castle was and interesting different parts were done - but the details are there. Like Dumbledore's stairs moving. JK wrote that.
2. Harry's relationship with the Weasleys is important. On the first reading, I was always thinking "why do the Weasleys keep popping up? Why is Harry always there?" But seeing it all together, the whole story arcing, I see how they're his surrogate family (duh, I know). Also his relationship with Ginny doesn't pop up out of nowhere, JK laid the foundation for it all along. George and Fred are jokesters but real friends and protectors and teachers. And Harry gives them his Triwizard winnings (who knew?).
3. Also, the horcruxes don't pop up out of nowhere. Again, reading the books the first time, and being so blown away by (spoiler alert) Dumbledore's death at the end of book 6, I was like, why is she popping this on us NOW? But Vol - he-who-must-not-be-named mentions it when he comes back at the end of book 4. Something about "the things I've done to ensure my return" or something (what, you want me to go get the book and be exact?).
4. In general, the first time around I thought JKR was making stuff up to try to fill 7 books. The first two books struck me as really similar: Voldemort trying to come back, Harry going deep beneath the school and defeating him. All neatly fit in to a school year, with a few passing references to the "house cup" or "Quidditch championship." Reading them all together, and knowing the end, I saw clues and foreshadowing all along (as is usually the case when you know the end). So now I'm more impressed that she had a plan and knew where she was going with the story.
5. I love the evolution of Neville. I was sort of aware of it the first time, but especially on this reading. In book 7, his grandmother sends him a letter saying she's proud of him and his parents would be to. I cried. Speaking of crying . . .
6. I cried a lot reading book 7 this time . . . George's ear; Dobby; Neville's letter; Harry walking with his parents, Sirius, and Lupin; Fred dying; "Always;" Nineteen Years Later; "Albus Severus" straight though to "all was well." . . . . too many to list. I am a little attached to them.
7. In book 2, when they have the "dueling club," Snape uses "Expelliarmus" on Lockhart when they demonstrate dueling. And "Expelliarmus" becomes Hary's signature - he uses it in the graveyard, when he leaves Privet Drive for the last time, and it ultimately is the spell that defeats Voldemort.
8. And another thing in the "maybe she did have a plan" thought line, in Book 2 Peeves drops a vanishing cabinet to distract Filch from punishing Harry. In Book 5, Fred and George stick someone in a broken vanishing cabinet. In Book 6, Draco fixes a broken vanishing cabinet to let the Death Eaters into Hogwarts.

{finished 2014}
*Did I really say "like"? I mean, am kind of obsessed with. I have Hogwarts listed as my education on FB. And there's this Pinterest board. I'd like to go to Platform 9 3/4 (who wouldn't) and have looked up Butterbeer recipes. I'm hoping Sam will let me do a Harry Potter birthday for his 11th birthday. Which he won't. They both seem to think it's my thing. Maybe I'll do the party for myself.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Second Call {Brennan Manning}

The last several years have been ones of questioning and learning. I was beginning to feel like a broken record . . . "the world I came from, in the past I never heard, etc."

I could identify with many, if not all, of the things that characterize the fundy subculture:
altar calls
constant guilt
worrying about "being saved" (had I said the right words in the right order? what if I didn't really really mean it?)
trying to do the things that would make my parents and God love me
fear of not being good enough for God
ostracizing those not good enough for love
mindless acceptance of traditions of men

Eventually, we stepped away from church for a little while. And as we found our way back, we found the God who is real and loving. Not the tiny, powerless god I was raised with who needed my constant vigilance on what I was projecting as my "testimony" to have any effect in the world.

It's been a journey but I still had a nagging feeling that it was ridiculous or I should get over it or I was being overly dramatic or critical. That I should just move on. Yes, I was raised in a rules-oriented, repressive environment and the culture of my high school and college was a petri dish of self-righteousness and works and not being good enough. But enough already, right?

Recently, I've been reading The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning. I've had it here for awhile. I've been working through it slowly, partly because of my attention span and partly because it is a lot for me to digest in big chunks. But more than anything, it's been healing. I keep looking back at the publishing date: 1990. That's not fair, I think. This has been around for 24 years and I'm just reading it? And this idea of grace - it's even older than that. and no one. NO. ONE. in the first 30 years of my life told me about it. What it really is.

Chapter 9 is "The Second Call" and I thank God for giving me these words at this time. Because maybe 25 years ago I wouldn't have gotten it. Maybe I wasn't ready for it until now.

Manning's words:

For the Christian, this second journey usually occurs between the ages of thirty and sixty an is often accompanied by a second call form the Lord Jesus. The second call invites us to a serious reflection on the nature and quality of our faith in the gospel of grace, our hope in the new and not yet, and our love for God and people. The second call is a summons to a deeper, more mature commitment of faith where the naivete, first fervor, and untested idealism of the morning and the first commitment have been seasoned with pain, rejection, failure, loneliness, and self-knowledge.
Oh . . . wait . . . this is normal? I'm not the only person to feel this way and struggle with the "morning schedule" not working for the "afternoon"?  
The call asks, do you really accept the message that God is head over heels in love with you? I believe that this question is at the core of our ability to mature and grow spiritually. If in our hearts we really don't believe that God loves us as we are, if we are still tainted by the lie that we can do something to make God love us more, we are rejecting the message of the cross.
It's all really good. The whole chapter. The entire book. You should read it.
What is the story of my priesthood? It is the story of an unfaithful person through whom God continues to work.
. . . .
And the Lord is now calling me a second time, affirming me, enabling me, encouraging me, challenging me all the was into fullness of faith, hope, and love in the power of His Holy Spirit. Ignorant, weak, sinful person that I am, with easy rationalizations for my sinful behavior, I am being told anew in the unmistakable language of love, "I am with you, I am for you, I am in you. I expect more failure from you than you expect form yourself."
This, to me, is so freeing. I can't stop failing and sinning because I'm human. I don't have to feel shame and guilt and "try harder." God knows I'm human and loves me anyway. Anything I do, anything I have, is from God and His great love.

So this journey. This processing of what was and marvelling at the light and freedom on this new path . . . it's part of my life. I won't feel bad about it but allow God to work through it. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Another One

I was going to have "use a bookmark" as another New Year's resolution but have already, before even completely formulating it in my mind, failed.

Not that I dog-ear the pages or place and open book pages down to hold my place. Disrespecting books has no place in my life. But I planned to combine the piles of bookmarks this house has spawned* and the books it has also spawned (I may be more directly responsible for the book acquisitions than I want to admit) into a neat conglomeration of knowing where I am.


Within hours of thinking this was an achievable goal, I  immediately resorted to using the closest flat thing I could lay my hands on to mark my place. A receipt, Lego instructions, Pok√©mon cards, someone's spelling list for the week . . .

And so, while I currently have 5 books I'm reading and all are marked, only one has an actual bookmark.

Also, in addendum to my last post: Sam said he wanted to keep his room clean. This lasted until something Lego had to be built.

*My children use the word "spawn" frequently and casually. I blame Minecraft.