Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Seven Books that I Liked More or Less than Most People

Books I Liked Less
  1. The Bridge by Karen Kingsbury- My Goodreads rating 1 Star. Average Rating 4.02 Stars. My review: ** spoiler alert ** I don't know why I read this. I don't know why I wanted to read this. Because, it sucked. It was an inspirational, first off. One of the genres I don't read. It was short. It was schmaltzy. The story was ludicrous. The owner of a bookstore can't find a way to make ends meet after a flood, so in a "It's a Wonderful Life" type storyline, he decides to off himself. Except, at the last minute, he doesn't want to die. So, he gets in the accident and winds up in a coma. Then, these two star-crossed lovers (except, no sex, because it's an inspirational, and a kiss was all they did after 2 years fer fecks sake), who haven't seen each other for a bunch of years, come to his aid. Of course, in an O'Henry type fashion, there are misunderstandings, where they both think the other has moved on, but they still pine for each other, yet hide their true feelings. OMG- if you want to get with that guy, ASK HIM IF HE'S MARRIED, DON'T WEAR YOUR DEAD MOTHER'S WEDDING RING TO PRETEND YOU ARE MARRIED. Urgh, the stupid, it burns. Then, the town rallies around the guy in the coma, a Christmas miracle happens because of prayer (rolling eyes right here), and everyone gets a happily ever after. Even the star-crossed lovers who confess to each other that they still want each other, and the idiot guy of course proposes as soon as she confesses she still loves him even though multiple years have passed. Just kill me now.
  2. Swamplandia! by Karen Russell- My Goodreads Rating 1 Star. Average Rating 3.21 stars. My review: Maybe I expected more comedy from a book named Swamplandia!, because this books was just over-all depressing. Child neglect, a rape scene and mental illness were just some of the highlights of this book.
  3. It Sucked and Then I Cried by Heather Armstrong- My Goodreads Rating 2 Stars. Average Rating 3.47 Stars. My review:  OK, so this is Dooce's memoir. There were a few funny spots, but overall, there's not much going for this book. As someone who read her blog, and found it grating, the book is just too much. I didn't realize WHO wrote this book until after I got it home and had a sense of deja vu. Thankfully this is a library book and can get returned.  
  4. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell- My Goodreads Rating 2 Stars. Average Rating 4.18 stars. My Review: I made myself finish this book. I'm glad I did. I did not love this book by any stretch.  (I don't like fanfic. I really don't like that the book was so meta- fanfic about fanfic but by the original author)
  5. The Time Traveler's Wife by  Audrey Niffenegger. My Goodreads Rating- 2 Stars. Average Rating 3.94 Stars. I did not review this book on Goodreads, but I've ranted about it elsewhere. It's just creepy. The guy goes all around time, sometimes spying on his future wife while she's child. Just ewww.     
  6. Just Like Other Daughters by Colleen Faulkner- My Goodreads Rating- 2 Stars. Average Goodreads Rating 3.88 Stars. My Review: Like the "normal" baby was Alicia's consolation prize for raising her daughter with Down Syndrome to adulthood. I think that was the part that completely turned the book on me from something that was tolerable to something that I actively hated.

Books I Liked More
  1. Cleaving by Julie Powell- My Goodreads Rating- 4 Stars. Average Goodreads Rating- 2.41 Stars. My Review: This book is the opposite of Julie & Julia. Where Julie & Julia was light and farcical at times, this is dark and heavy, but in a very good way. The author has done a 180 in her personality, or maybe she's finally found who she really is. I'm in the minority in that I enjoyed this book just as much as the first.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

2016 In Review

First off, I did not blog much (or at all) this year, but want to review 2016 just for the hell of it.

1. What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before?
I went to a High School reunion. My 20th. I'd never been to one before. I can't honestly say I'll go to one again. But it was an an experience. I have nostalgia about high school. I liked high school- it was easy and fun. But I don't think it was "the best years of my life."

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I did not make New Years resolutions, so I didn't have anything to keep. This year, I'm expecting more of the same. 
 
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
My sister, my sister-in-law, a few friends. 


4. Did anyone close to you die?
Not this year

5. What countries did you visit?

Just the US. We did the middle of the country ball parks this year. Minnesota Twins, Milwaukee Brewers, Kansas City Royals, Chicago White Sox (we'd been to Wrigley in past years, who would have guessed that this would be THE YEAR for the Cubs?). A few trips to California. Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?
A firm path to the future. I know. Vague. But I think that we're getting better with long term planning, and I'd like to continue with that.

7. What moments from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
We had a fall down, drag out fight in October, due to bad communication and technology failures. It snowballed. However, at the end, we realized we'd let some things go and they were bothering both of us. The fight brought our issues to a surface and we've been working on it since.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Saying NO. Giving up things that hold no value to me. Not volunteering for everything that comes along.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Ignoring some really great things my kids did, because I was wrapped up in my own issues.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Not really. I got a tubal ligation on 12/27 and I'm still recovering from that surgery.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
A new mattress set. We spent way too much money on a Simmons Beauty Rest Black, and it is worth every penny. It took a couple of weeks for me to get used to sleeping on it- I'm a front sleeper, and it's not ideal- but my back and shoulders feel so much better. My husband's back is way better too.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My husband- he's been much better at trying to accommodate me, rather than the other way around. My youngest is amazing. She's somewhat of a math genius, and has been taking gifted math classes for this school year.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
I have a few friends who turned out to be Trump supporters, and it was bad.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Mortgage, paying off debt

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
My husband kept his job, and pushed through a really tough year for him. And it looks like it paid off, because he's starting a new position in a few weeks that will be more rewarding to him.

16. What song will always remind you of 2016?

Can't Stop the Feeling by Justin Timberlake, mostly because it was ALWAYS on

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder?
b) thinner or fatter?
c) richer or poorer?
a) Happier
b) Fatter- gained back 20 of the 60 lbs I lost two years ago
c) Richer- we've done a good job on finances this year

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Working out, taking time for me

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Stressed about the future. I realized I can't change the world as a whole, it's better to become introspective and try to change myself.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
The same as usual. Stayed at home. I have the youngest kids in the family in this geographical area, so I host. My kids didn't get out of bed until 10 AM. We leisurely opened presents, ate candy and then went to the movies. It was pretty awesome.

21. Did you fall in love in 2016?

Just more in love.

22. What was your favorite TV program?

This is Us is amazing. I also love Superstore and The Good Place.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Hate is a strong word.
 
24. What was the best book you read?

Nothing stands out as AMAZING this year. I read a lot of books that were good, some that were better than average, but nothing new that will become a yearly re-read.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Hamilton soundtrack.

26. What did you want and get?
Family, friends and good times.

27. What did you want and not get?

The first woman president.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?

We saw a lot of movies, nothing fantastic.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 38 in August. My husband took me out for a  drink. We didn't give each other birthday presents or anniversary presents this year, because we bought a new bed that cost way too much money.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Better phones. My husband and I had a few fights, including the culmination in October that may have been avoided if we had phones that did not suck. The Apple 5-C is maybe the worst phone of all time (that doesn't explode).

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?

Lularoe. So worth the money.

32. What kept you sane?
Family. The kids getting older and more independent.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Sam Rockwell.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
The election was horrific. Everything leading up to the election. Realizing that old white men still hold all the power in the United States. Realizing that my access to birth control might be limited led me to fast track a tubal ligation this year, because I do not want to have any more children. And if my birth control had failed, my access to a safe, fast abortion is going to be limited.

35. Who did you miss?
My family and friends who live on the east coast, while I live in Arizona.

36. Who was the best new person you met?
The kids started at a new school this year, and one of the PTA moms is great.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016.
People believe anything that makes them right. Even if the source is flawed or conjecture or gossips, if it backs up their world view, it becomes TRUTH.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
I'm awful at this.

Friday, May 13, 2016

So, Back to Weight Watchers

I've been really crappy lately at eating and maintaining my hard fought weight loss of a few years back. So, today I bit the bullet and re-signed up for Weight Watchers (it was $104 for 3 months, a good deal, and probably just long enough to get me back on track). For accountability purposes, I'll try to remember to post my weekly results here, be they good or bad. These pants are uncomfortably tight and I'm not happy.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Breaking Up With A Forum

On Sunday, I broke up with my favorite message board forum. I'd been a member for years, and a mod for two years. I'll admit, I wasn't a great mod. Especially after we migrated to a new system. I never really felt it was easy to use, I was confused by it, and generally disliked it. I was spending too much time in this place, and not enough time in my real life. But what really broke my back was how negative the board had become. It's one thing to snark, it's another to just be flat out mean, and that's the direction the board was heading. So, good luck Freejinger, but I'm out.

Friday, January 2, 2015

That 2014 In Review That Everyone is Doing

1. What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before? Didn't have to use after-school daycare!
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I don't do Resolutions, so yeah *Slacker Achievement Unlocked*
3. Did anyone close to you give birth? My sister and my sister-in-law, within 2 weeks of each other. My cousin. A few more friends. SO MANY BABIES!!!
4. Did anyone close to you die? Not this year. All of my older relatives are mostly gone already.
5. What countries did you visit? Just the one I live in.
6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?  More free time
7. What dates from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? Nothing specific really stands out.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? I asked for a raise that I really deserved and I got it. Oh, and I lost 50 pounds. 50!
9. What was your biggest failure? I spend way too much time on my ass when I should be moving around.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Not me. My husband got Shingles though. Go figure. He's 36.
11. What was the best thing you bought? Minecraft. The kids love it.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration? My oldest is really coming into her own. She's becoming a grown-up.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? There have been some issues in my neighborhood- petty crime, property damage, etc. It's sad.
14. Where did most of your money go? Mortgage, kids, other stuff
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? My kids are now old enough to be left home without a sitter! It's AMAZING!
16. What song will always remind you of 2014? "All About That Bass" by Meghan Trainor
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder?
Happier
b) thinner or fatter?
Significantly thinner- 50 pounds thinner!
c) richer or poorer? Richer
18. What do you wish you’d done more of? More exercise
19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Played stupid online games
20. How did you spend Christmas? Extended family was in town from 4 different states. It was the biggest Christmas I've had since I was a kid and 40+ of us would gather at my Grandmother's.
21. Did you fall in love in 2014? Nah.
22. What was your favorite TV program? I really like Scorpio. I watched a lot of Netflix this year, and found out that I like the show Bones when there's no commercials to interrupt things.
23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? Nah.
24. What was the best book you read? The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry
25. What was your greatest musical discovery? Meghan Trainor
26. What did you want and get? Can't think
27. What did you want and not get? A hand mixer. Mine died around Thanksgiving, and I haven't gotten around to replacing it.
28. What was your favorite film of this year? Guardians of the Galaxy was pretty amazing.
29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 36 this year. We didn't really do anything.
30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Winning one of those lotteries where you get a set amount of money each week for the rest of your life. I could happily live on $2K a week for the rest of my life and never have to work again.
31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014? Trying to dress like a grown-up sometimes, and failing 90% of the time. Jeans, t-shirts and sneakers are pretty much my uniform, even at work.
32. What kept you sane? My husband. He can talk me down when I'm at my most out of whack.
33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Justin Timberlake. He's dreamy.
34. What political issue stirred you the most? The war on Women's Rights. Seriously, what happens in my uterus is no business to anyone other than me and my doctor (and maybe my husband)
35. Who did you miss? My hometown friends
36. Who was the best new person you met? A tie between my newest nephews.
37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014. I CAN achieve things even when they're hard to do. Body acceptance is a powerful thing.
38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year. 
 It's time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through

From Let It Go from Frozen. Yup, Frozen. It's pretty powerful actually.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

How Many Kids is Too Many Kids?

I think we can all agree that the Duggars have too many kids, at 19. In the largely Irish Catholic town I grew up in, there were families with 8, 10 or even 12 kids. Not common, but enough. I'm one of four. Not huge by historical standards, but a "big" family by current standards. Even though most people I knew growing up were one of three or four kids in a family.

So, how many kids is "too many"? I think it has to be judged by a case by case for sure. I have three, and I'm overwhelmed at times. And, to be honest, I was completely overwhelmed for six of seven the years that my youngest has been alive. My husband is very helpful, but he works 60-80+ hours a week (he's a chef). I work 40 hours a week (staying home is not an option for me for mental health reasons- I am not cut out to be a stay-at-home Mom). When I'm "home" I'm actually running around trying to get everything else done. Money isn't the problem as much as time- there's just not enough time in a week to complete everything, at least in my world. Another kid at this point would tip me over the edge completely. I'm just now seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. The day to day minutia of raising little kids completely burns me out (and I hated it a LOT of the time). Now that I can have some free time, grocery shop alone, and not have to watch the kids as closely, I'm staring to take a lot better care of myself. I don't regret any of my kids, but I do think, looking back, that I (we) really should have stopped at two. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Weight Loss Update- Summer 2014 Edition

Weight Loss- 43.8 lbs (as of Monday, 8/4/2014)
Goal Weight- 23.6 lbs to go
Pant Size- 10, and they're roomy!

As it's been for the past 9 months (really? that long already?), I'm doing Weight Watchers. And, it's working for me! I'm down 43.8 lbs. My average weekly loss is 1.2 lbs. I've dropped down to a size 10 pant, and even now, they're starting to get a little too big on me. If/when I get into an 8, it will be the first time I've had a single digit clothing size SINCE JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL. I am 23.6 pounds away from my goal. Pretty much 2/3 of the way there. I've kind of stopped tracking my food, because I basically eat the same thing every day, and it's working. I know I'll gain if I drink alcohol, even if it's in my points, so I just avoid it 90% of the time. And on those weeks where I don't avoid it, it shows in my numbers.

So, what am I eating? Well, here goes-
Breakfast-
either an egg sandwich- 1 egg fried in a pan with a squirt of Pam, on a sandwich thin that's been toasted with a single slice of deli white American cheese
or- 2 eggs scrambled, 1/8 of a cup of low-fat shredded Mexican style or low fat shredded Pepper Jack cheese, tons of salsa (both average about 7 Points)

AM Snack- Around 10 AM
A serving of fruit- basically what's in season and smells good. Blueberries, peaches, nectarines, bananas are my go-tos. (0 Points)

Lunch-
6 slices turkey, 1 slice Pepper Jack cheese, toasted on a sandwich thin, with mustard. I will and do eat this 7 days a week. It doesn't bother me to have the same thing day after day. It's got the protein I need, it's tasty, fast, and I know it's Weight Watchers friendly. (7 Points)

PM Snack- Around 3 PM
Something crunchy that I can eat at my desk. Carrot sticks and hummus, celery and peanut butter, cucumbers with Greek dressing. I keep individual portions in plastic bags in my fridge at work. Grab and go depending on what I want that day. (2-3 Points, MAX)

Dinner- usually 4 Points of protein- chicken breast, turkey sausage, ground turkey are my main food choices. Then a choice of salad with dressing, a 1/2 cup of pasta and vegetables, 1/2 cup quinoa, salsa and cheese, oven roasted sweet potato, etc. (6-8 Points). I've found I'll eat most vegetables, as long as they aren't boiled to death, and are liberally covered with lemon juice. Except squash. I hate squash.

If I skip PM snack and have the Points, I might have an ice cream after dinner (2-5 Points, depending on brand). If I don't have the Points, and I still want something sweet, I like to freeze Gerber 1st Foods fruit baby foods, and then eat them frozen. They're kind of like a granita (1 Point).

That's really it. On the weekends, I skip breakfast too much and eat worse at dinner.