Monday, October 28, 2019

Monday Moods

It's Monday and I'm running around here like a boy with a bag of bread being chased by a flock of chickens (see gif below).  This weekend I confused volleyball tournament times and that made me feel like I need to recalibrate and actually read my emails thoroughly again.  Today was full of logistics and I'm ready for bed.  *sigh*  

Image result for running through life gif

Things I Love
1.  The trees.  I don't know if I'm looking around more or this year has been extra great but the foliage around these parts has been spectacular.  I love watching the gradual progression.  A little orange here and there, a little more, boom--the most vibrant orange I've ever seen.  I think I might be annoying my friends and family a little but I don't care--HAVE YOU SEEN THE TREES?

2.  American Eagle.  When we went back to school shopping in September I got a few sweaters and long sleeve t-shirts too.  I put them away and thought, "Future Noelle will thank me."  And now, I would like to thank Past Noelle for getting those tops.  They are soft and pretty and I love them.  Next month I will head back to the mall to do Christmas shopping and you can bet I will hit AE hard.  It's not just for teens, but also for the moms of teens.

3.  Going out for dinner on Monday night.  Tonight we had a bunch of activities and emotions were running high so we went out for burgers.  My kids burned popcorn and it smelled gross in the house.  Leaving for a few hours to regroup and let someone else cook was just what I needed to close out this Monday on a good note.  Goodnight, well, almost.  

Things I Don't Love
1.  Cheap candy.  I mean, I'm loving it and eating it.  But then I get these terrible breakouts on my chin.  I give the candy up for a while and the breakouts go away so then I think, "hmmm, maybe this time..."  But alas, every single time I eat cheap candy my skin revolts.  You can clearly see this vicious cycle will not end until Easter when the last of the candy gets tossed out.

2.  Taking Ruby for walks.  This season may be the most difficult to walk our 95-pound dog.  She loves chasing cars and squirrels and has nearly taken my arm off more than a dozen times.  If she's not trying to attack a defenseless woodland creature, then she's freaking out over the leaves that swirl in the wind.  It's like she can't figure out what strange magic makes the leaves fly around and she is OUT.  She lunges for the door to get back inside where she can be safe from these fallish ghosts trying to haunt her.  If you have any dog walking tips please pass them along.  I'm sick of having to reek of icyhot because my shoulders are wrecked every day.

3.  My kids burning popcorn in the microwave and leaving the kitchen a mess after baking.  I try to be pretty laid back with my kids.  They all love cooking and baking so I try to facilitate that.  But during these busy weeks, it seems like they make a mess and leave it just to spite me.  This weekend they tried to make popcorn in the microwave and burned it.  This is not a fun smell.  I'm revoking everyone's kitchen privileges until after Christmas.  Ain't nobody got time for that.  

Yay!  I got this post done before midnight on Monday!  #winning right?  Leave a comment with your Monday moods, dog training tips, and anything else you want to tell me.  

Friday, October 25, 2019


I'm starting a recurring post called #goals because I've got lots of goals floating around in my head, but writing them down here and then checking in with them will give me some accountability to hopefully see them through. 

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I've broken my goals into three categories.  Reading, writing, and personal.  These are the three main sections of my life and within each group, I can be more specific about what I want to change. 

*deep breath* Here I go:

Reading Goals

I'll be honest with you, I've gotten a little lazy about reading in my spare moments.  I've kind of been overloaded with the kids' stuff and when my brain feels like it's handling too much at once, I reach for a screen.  Reading East of Eden has taken me waaaaaay longer than I ever imagined.  I love the book, but I also love scrolling twitter. 

My first reading goal is to finish East of Eden by Friday, November 8. 

The other aspect of my reading life that seems a little out of whack lately is reading things other people suggest/required for a book club.  Nothing makes me drag my feet more than reading a book I don't really like, but I need to read for a group.  I am an adult, I know what I like to read, I should read that and ignore reading peer pressure. 

My second reading goal is to be selective about the books I read in November and chose books I want to read not books that I should read for a group or conversation.  And not join so many reading groups. 

Writing goals

I'm digging into writing these days.  It's not always easy, but my brain and emotions always feel better after I've done it.  Every single thing I've ever read about writing says it's crucial to do it daily.  I get easily distracted with books, life, carpools, etc...but I know this is something that is very important to me.  I can sneak in a half-hour of editing or adding to a story before bed if I make it a priority. 

My first writing goal is to write every day for a half-hour or more. 
hmm, this feels on brand

Professional development is hard to come by in such a solitary task as writing, but I've listened to podcasts and read books that have really helped me.  There are online classes I'd love to explore, but first, I want to reread some of my favorite writing books. 

My second writing goal is to read a book about writing each month until January (and then reevaluate). 

Personal goals

Daily exercise and time outside both help keep my anxiety in check.  This fall, there's no reason I can't get outside for a few brisk walks each week.  My schedule changes each week so I can't really be strict about which days I go walking, but maybe that flexibility will keep me from getting so easily frustrated when I mess up. 

My first personal goal is to walk at least three times per week, outside, if the weather permits.

My closet has been a source of fear and loathing.  I started cleaning it one Saturday and stopped thinking I could just finish it on Sunday.  I never did.  The space has become so overrun with stray clothes, shoes, bags, and weird things my kids throw in there that I tremble in fear every time I have to go in there.  I literally have to lunge across a huge pile of discarded shirts and pants to get into it.  I avoid putting away laundry and getting clothes from in there (there are plenty of options in the pile on the threshold).  It's not a good scene.

My second personal goal is to CLEAN MY CLOSET already!!!  (But really, I'm giving myself until November East of Eden...because Rome wasn't built in a day and I am the queen of procrastinators). 

So, six goals to work on.  It seems like a lot, but I actually feel really good.  They are all completely doable, I think.  I'll check back in re: #goals soon.

I can do anything!!!
What are your goals or your goal catagories or do you think I've just given myself waaaaay too many goals?  Leave a comment and tell me what you think and what you want to get done in the next few weeks. 

Monday, October 21, 2019

Monday Moods

This weekend we had guests and did a million things so this Monday I am dragging.

Image result for gif dragging

I have a nice big cup of coffee and a quiet house.  Without further are my Monday moods.  

Things I Love

1.  Visiting the monuments in DC.  This weekend we had perfect weather and my brother and his family were visiting so we decided to head into DC.  I was struck with gratitude and reverence while we were standing at Lincoln's feet and reading the names on the Vietnam memorial.  If you haven't been, you should go.  
a quiet moment at the WWII memorial

2.  This tea.  It is my favorite thing on chilly afternoons.  Sometimes cinnamon is too strong for me, but this has a nice balance. And, it goes great with a good book.  

3.  East of Eden.  I'm making a big push to finish this in the next couple of weeks.  I put sticky tags to mark the number of pages I need to read each day.  The story is so good that I'm reaching for it when I have a few moments instead of my phone and that makes me very happy.  

Things I Don't Love

1.  Making lunch.  My breakfast game is strong and at dinner, I come correct, but lunch always feels like too much.  I've been doing protein smoothies and that's helped but on weekends I never know what to feed my family for the middle meal and wind up serving a hodgepodge of food.  

2.  Messy rooms.  We did a lot of organizing last spring and now it's all fallen apart.  Every time I walk into a room or closet I feel like I'm going to be buried alive.  I guess it's time to focus and get to work.  I know I'll feel better after, but finding the time for so many projects is daunting.  

3.  Not finishing books.  I have a ton of books I've started and can't finish.  Why do 350 pages feel insurmountable in some books and not enough in others?  Right now, I've only finished one book for this month and that is AGGRAVATING me.  I have the potential to finish four more before November rolls around because I'm more than halfway done with those books but it just feels like they will NEVER END.  Sorry for the caps but I am struggling with this.  #booknerdproblems

Ahhh, now that I've gotten all that off my chest I feel free as a bird and ready to go outside and enjoy some sunny weather with Ruby...but maybe I should try and finish of these books piled on my coffee table first.  

why would I read all these books I've started when I can ski in place while wearing a birdfeeder hat inside?  

Don't forget to head over to this post and enter my giveaway and leave a comment here with your Monday moods.  

Monday, October 14, 2019

Monday Moods

Ready or not, it's Monday again.  The weather is crisp and fallish and my kids are in school.  🙌

Here are my Monday moods, don't forget to leave a comment telling me about yours.

Things I love

1.  People who comment on posts.  In my previous post, I'm hosting a giveaway, with only one comment so far.  Go over there and add yours.  I love commenting on blogs because it adds to the conversation and most of the time I get a response, which makes me feel included in the online book community and scratches my itch for book talk. 

2.  Not walking the dog.  I mean, I take my dog on short little walks.  She's a big dog and long walks are a challenge.  Today I'm spending time walking in my neighborhood without the dog and loving every minute of it.  I can go faster and listen to audiobooks without judgment from Ruby's big brown eyes.  Without her, I'm really able to notice the beautiful trees in our neighborhood and no one is trying to pull me into oncoming traffic.  I actually feel relaxed after a long walk. 

3.  Pizza.  This seems obvious.  I hadn't had pizza in a looooong time.  When I was a kid I looked forward to pizza every week on Friday like clockwork.  My husband does not like eating the same thing week after week so our family doesn't participate in this glorious cheese and sauce tradition.  All week I was craving pizza.  Last night we decided to go get some and I felt honest to goodness joy about this.  It's got all the best things (bread, cheese, red sauce) and you can add meats and veggies to it.  I devoured that pizza and I'm still thinking of it lovingly. 

Things I don't love

1.  Laundry.  A family of 6 generates so much laundry.  I can't seem to find a way to stay on top of it.  For the last few weeks, I've been saying, "I can't do it all.  If one thing has to go it's laundry."  And now we have no clean clothes and the laundry room looks like a terrifying jungle of nasty socks and twisted bedsheets as far as the eye can see.  Today I have to go in there and face my fears. 

2.  Sneaky teenagers.  I know it's normal but I just don't like it.  When teens try to sneak around it makes my job much harder.  This weekend we hosted my daughter's friends for a post homecoming sleepover and two of the girls were going to sneak out to go to a neighbor's wild party (why do parents let their kids throw ragers in 10th grade????).  Anyway, I had a hunch so I sat in the kitchen reading and their plan was thwarted.  Then, we discovered my daughter had signed up for various social media accounts without permission.  #notcool Time to get to the work of parenting...

3.  Writing questions while reading.  This unique experience happens when you are a Battle of the Books coach.  You get a list of 12 really great middle-grade books that your team needs to read and then you have to generate questions on each book to quiz your team.  The books are so good but writing questions while I'm trying to get immersed in the story is a challenge.  I'm torn between really wanting to read the books for the story but not wanting to read the books because I have to think of questions.  Sigh.  These are the sacrifices I make for my team, I guess.  

What are your Monday moods?  

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Giveaway, Y'all...And a Story, Too!

Let me tell you a little story...

let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start

I was going on vacation this summer and the most exciting part of preparing for the trip was dreaming of what books I would bring along.  For weeks I debated in my head, how many hardcovers, how many paperbacks, did I want light and fluffy books or books I had been putting off with lots of Literary merit...It was so fun.  

I finally settled on a thriller (Lock Every Door), the next Louise Penny (Glass Houses), a memoir (Garlic and Sapphires), and a family drama (Little Fires Everywhere).  I like to have choices.  

Image result for packing gif
q: how many books can I fit in a suitcase?  a: as many as I want.

When we landed in Mexico we were greeted by oppressive humidity and my mother-in-law, who had forgotten to bring a book.  I don't really know how that is possible, but since she is wonderful in many other ways, I will forgive her for this oversight.  Sitting by the pool she asked me for a recommendation.  I started thinking of books she could download on her ipad but she explained the glare made it impossible to read in the sun.  Ok.  Time to be nice.  

I decided to share one of my books with her.  The thriller would not be a good choice.  She should read the earlier books in the Chief Inspector Gamache before picking up Glass Houses.  So I offered her the memoir and the family drama.  She chose the family drama.  

She read it for 10 days and asked if she could take it home to Las Vegas with her.  Of course, I said yes.  I'm really not good at sharing when it comes to books but my enneagram 1ness always knows the "right" thing to say.  

She took it and I went and bought another copy the day I got home.  I started reading and a week later I got a text from my mother-in-law that said thanks for the book and a new Little Fires Everywhere was on the way to my house.  I was touched.  When the book came I set it aside, grateful for her kindness and I finished my paperback copy.  

I really enjoyed Little Fires Everywhere.  In past posts, you can find references to it and how it made me think deep thoughts about being the mother of teens.  It was really well written and literary without being too full of itself.  Plus, Reese Witherspoon is making it into a limited series so that's really cool.

And now for the giveaway.  For the last two months, I've looked at this lovely hardback book and wondered what to do with it.  My husband gave me the idea for a giveaway on the blog and I remembered I have a new book that I really enjoyed that I would love to send to one of my readers.  

So, to enter, leave a comment telling me about a book you read this summer.  We will pick a winner randomly on October 23rhd and then I will contact you to get your information.  I will send you a new, hardback version of Little Fires Everywhere (from a smoke-free home) and a few other bookish treats to make your fall a little cozier.  

Good luck and may the odds be ever in your favor!

Monday, October 7, 2019

Monday Mood

Happy Monday!  Here are the three good things and three not so good things to start another week:

1.  School.  I love that my kids get on the bus and go to school on Monday mornings.  I look forward to the break in routine that the weekend provides, but nothing beats a cup of coffee in a quiet kitchen.  Thank you, teachers and administrators. 

me at 8:21am on Monday morning

2.  Less TV, more writing and reading at night.  Lately, I've been thinking about the ways my phone and other screens suck time and make my day disjointed.  "One sec, I just need to check something"----->30 minutes later, I'm ready to engage in reality again.  I've been sidelining my phone at different times and then considering how I feel after.  When I read and/or write before bed I feel good about how I spent my time and I sleep better.  I'm not cutting out all TV, but even watching one less episode of a show in favor of my book yields more happiness. 

3.  Reading picture books.  Last night, my husband and I read picture books to some of our kids.  They sat there rapt and we had fun walking down memory lane.  I forget how nice it is to read a short book and be done with it, to pour over the pictures, and to revisit stories we love.  This may be a new thing for this season because it was so relaxing and enjoyable for all of us.  

Not Loves
1.  Fall weather that feels like July weather.  This is a common complaint these days but I am over temps in the 90's in October.  We haven't had rain in a while and everything is coated with a thick layer of fall pollen that makes me want to itch my face off.  Hopefully, this week will bring some cooler weather.  

2.  Bookstagram.  Don't get me wrong, I love the community of readers on bookstagram but I get a little triggered by all of the "reading recap" images from people reading 14+ books in a single month.  Calm down with all that reading.  Am I jealous?  Unequivocally yes.  💯 You may find me hanging out on twitter more for a while, though.  

3.  Shoulders.  Well, I don't actually mind shoulders, but I wrecked my shoulder last week while I was exercising and I thought I would be done with the pain by now.  It's definitely better than it was, but keeping my shoulders and posture in alignment is now work that I have to think about.  Strained muscles are no joke.  

What are your loves/not loves for this week?  

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Family Reading

We are a bookish family.  Books in every room, books for every holiday.  We read together and talk about the books we are reading independently.  My husband and I are both English majors and we're intentional about raising readers.  

We often grab our books after dinner and gather in the family room.  Some of the kids have to be called to join in the fun.  Now that we are all settled on the couch, let me tell you what we are reading.

My husband is the ultimate book snob.  His goal is to read all the Pulitzer prize winners and the more challenging a book the more he is interested.  His motto is "quality over quantity."  He is so much fun to discuss books with because he always has strong opinions.  Right now he is reading The Overstory by Richard Powers.

My oldest child is a high school sophomore in GT English with lots of reading requirements.  She has been reading Sir Gawain and the Green Knight for school and How to be Parisian for fun.  High school is hard, but she loves her English class (and French, too).  I guess the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree.  

we are the same

My second daughter has loved graphic novels, illustration, and reading since she was 3.  She is in a phase where she can't seem to find anything that really strikes her fancy.  She doesn't want "grown-up books" but she also rolls her eyes if there is too much YA drama and angst.  Kaytee from The Currently Reading Podcast recommended Eliza and Her Monsters and she's been reading that and loving it.

do not come at her with that drama, she just doesn't have time for it

My ten-year-old is big on series.  She read most of Harry Potter and then decided to take a break, she loved the Pegasus series, and now she is reading through Percy Jackson.  She has a few books next to her, and on top of the stack is Save Me a Seat which is one of the books she is reading for the Battle of the Books.

The youngest, my eight-year-old son is reading Awesome Dog 5000 and Peter and Ernesto: A Tale of Two Sloths and cracking up now and then.  I love it when he recaps the books for me.  It has taken some time for my son to get on board, but over the summer he finally became fluent with his reading which has helped him enjoy it more.  

And me?  I'm bouncing between East of Eden and Ask Again, Yes and loving every minute of both of them.  It's a great problem to have...I often find myself wasting precious reading minutes debating which one I should read.

I'm a wild card.

What books are being read in your house?  

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Reading Recap: September Edition

I can't believe September is over and we are heading into the heart of fall.  These are the months that feel like they are slipping through my fingers.  But these are also the months that are chock full of family, celebrations, and cozy evenings, so I'm here for them.  

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I really didn't read much in September, though it felt like I read a lot.  With the beginning of a new schedule (school, soccer, cross county, music, volleyball, etc...) I prefer napping to reading in the afternoon.  Just like last month, emotions were running high around our house and I reached for quality books, books I've wanted to read for a while, and books that came highly recommended.  So again, I'm happy with my list. 

Little Fires Everywhere

Was I the last person in America to read this book?  Probably.  I knew I needed to get to it before Reese Witherspoon's adaptation hits Hulu--which I don't currently subscribe to, but will get just for this series.  This book, like Ng's previous work, feels like putting family life under a cold, hard lens and examining it thoroughly.  I enjoyed seeing teens and moms of teens portrayed so realistically.  This would make for an excellent book club discussion, but you probably know that already since your book club has most likely already read it.  😝

The Huntress

This book is high-qual historical fiction.  It was about WW2, which is somewhat overplayed, but the angle Quinn took was unique.  There were multiple perspectives (because aren't there always???) and they were easy to distinguish.  At one point, the perspectives converge and it leads to a thrilling and satisfying ending.  I think I'm done with historical fiction until 2020, though.  When you read too many of them close together they seem a bit repetitive.  

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I read this for my book club and loved it.  It was about a child living through the blitz in England and then after.  It had a hazy quality and things were revealed in a disjointed way.  It doesn't have much of a plot, but the insights were incredible and I had so much empathy for people living in the aftermath of war.  It was unanimously panned by my book club and the reviews are mixed.  But if you like true literary fiction, you would probably like this.  Also, President Obama listed it as a book he recommended this summer.  #funfact

Never Have I Ever

This library hold came in and took me by surprise last week.  I am reading a couple of other books that I'm really enjoying but I set them aside over the weekend and read this so I wouldn't drag it out until just before the due date.  The idea of other readers waiting pushed me along too.  It was a fun, lightly susupenseful novel centering on secrets and how far you would go to hide them.  There were a couple of surprise twists and turns and I learned a little bit about scuba.  I like Jackson's style.  She writes well, but not intesnely, so you can read it at a soccer game or while the kids are doing homework. 

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Or while you get some laundry done...

That's what I read in September, and now on to October!  Leave a note in comments with your September reads or link to a post.  I'd love to see what you've been reading.