Monday, April 24, 2017

A Monday List

1. I keep forgetting today is Monday, because it really feels like Tuesday. Yesterday, the kids and I stayed home because both kids were pretty snotty. I thought it might be allergies, but a feeling in my gut sent me to the pediatric walk-in clinic and sure enough -- Christina has an ear infection and pink eye. All that to say -- yesterday felt more like Monday. So I'm already trying to catch my bearings this week.

2. I went to Half Priced Books last week ( I LOVE that store) and bought a couple of books, one that I'd already had on my radar, and one spontaneous-I-liked-the-cover purchase. I may end up regretting the spontaneous purchase, but we'll see.

3. I probably won't write a whole post about it, but I ended up reading the first book in the Hugo Marston mystery series (I'd accidentally read book six, The Paris Librarian, a few weeks ago). I liked some parts of that first book -- The Bookseller -- a little better than The Paris Librarian, but some parts less. I think oddly enough, my least favorite parts of the books are the main character. He's a little bit....too perfect, I think. But I like the mysteries, the way the author writes Paris as a character, the supporting cast. So, I think I'll probably return to Hugo Marston when I'm in the mood for a good procedural/detective novel.

4. Chili for dinner tonight. I could have chili every week. In winter, in summer...whatever, whenever. So good.

5. iZombie and The Amazing Race are back! (I'm a few weeks late in proclaiming this, I know, but it's been a bit busy around these parts). I was trying to describe iZombie the other day, and thinking about how with some shows with a "thing" -- like zombies -- the "thing" is really a vehicle for the storytelling (like Walking Dead -- it's not really about the zombies) That's kind of true with iZombie too (although...it's also pretty heavily about the zombies), and I was thinking -- well, it's a procedural mystery show, but funny sometimes, kind of like Veronica Mars, but with zombies. Which duh, makes sense, since it's made by the same person. Anyway...I loved Veronica Mars, so no surprise iZombie hits a sweet spot with me. And of course, Amazing Race will always have a special place in my heart, even though I'm not having much luck staying caught up since I don't have CBS All Access (or cable, etc.).

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Blog reading

It's been a while since I posted links to blogs I enjoy reading on a semi-regular basis. I kind of think of blog reading like magazine reading -- some place I can go to read short(ish) articles about things I find interesting. When I've just got a few minutes, or an attention span too short to read in whatever book I've got, magazine and blog reading is a nice option. My blog reading is kind of all over the place lately: previously, I followed and regularly read quite a few library and book-related blogs as part of my job. Naturally, that consumption has slowed down a bit in the past couple of years, and since I'm not getting paid to perform readers' advisory at the moment, my blog reading has diversified a bit (although I'm always going to gravitate toward book blogs, naturally). Plus, I switched feed readers a while back (which is my favorite way to keep up with blogs) and quite a few blogs got lost in the transition, so I'm building up my list of go-to reading again. In no particular order, here are three blogs that I'm particularly digging these days:

1. http://monicaswanson.com/
Monica Swanson (the "grommom") is an author, wife, and the mom of four boys. She and her family live in Hawaii, homeschool, and surf a lot. Her blog is in the genre of what I'd call "mom blogs." She writes about parenting, homeschooling, healthy eating, and life on the North Shore (which....seriously, all her gorgeous pictures are worth following by themselves!). I discovered her when she was a guest on a podcast, and stuck around her web site because I was drawn to her laid-back, friendly, conversational voice. She clearly values relationship with her kids (who range from upper elementary to teenage), and I'm always trying to soak up examples of building and maintaining family relationships.

2. The Lazy Genius
Y'all, I really feel like The Lazy Genius and I could be friends in real life. This web site and blog is run by Kendra Adachi, and the premise behind Lazy Genius, is "being genius about the things that matter, and lazy about the things that don't." Identify the things that matter most to you (TO YOU being the operative words here), and don't waste valuable energy on things that aren't really important. On this blog you'll find posts on everything from making friends to cleaning, shopping at Aldi and cooking, to books, reading, and a March Madness Bracket of Guys. It's sometimes serious, sometimes fun, and always enjoyable.

3. Forever Young Adult
Unlike the other two blogs, this a site I've been following for a while. What started out as a site that posted reviews of YA books has evolved into a site for all the best parts of YA and YA-adjacent media -- books, movies, tv. It's still a great place for book reviews, and a lot of fun too.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

A Tuesday list

1. Barry's Irish Breakfast Tea. Backstory: a former coworker Aimee told me about this tea when we worked together at the Pender County Public Library. She had been to Ireland several times, and discovered this tea -- which she had only ever found in Ireland. She took a trip to Ireland while we were working together, and brought back some Barry's, which she generously shared a bit with me. I never knew I could love just a simple black breakfast tea so much. Fast forward: I happen to glance at the tiny "British" section of my local HEB grocery store and practically do a happy dance when I see my beloved Barry's. HEB is the best, y'all. The. best.

2. The Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon and Half Marathon is coming up soon! This is significant to me because I'm signed up to run the half. I'm excited because it's my first half since before the kids were born. Actually, I think it's my first race, period since then. Training is a different animal this time around. A lot more people involved and a lot more logistics to work out when it comes long (i.e., time consuming) runs. It's been good though. It's felt good to push myself physically again, to get back into a running groove. I will say I am looking forward to not juggling all of those logistics. Hats off to my running friends with kids who are training for something most of the year. And hats off to an extremely supportive husband who helps me manage those logistics by doing things like getting the kids ready for church on Sunday mornings and keeping air in the tires of my jogging stroller.

3. Finished Rivals in the City, which was a delight from beginning to end. I didn't have anything specifically lined up to read next, so I'm flailing a little bit today. I have a lot of choices and a lot of books on my to-read list, so it's mostly a matter of just figuring out my mood. Which is easier said than done. On the non-fiction front, I am in the middle of Good Faith, which is really good and really thought-provoking. I'll have a lot more to say about that when I'm finished.

4. Bought Christina's birthday present yesterday and I'm super excited about it. I stole the idea from my parents and a gift they bought my niece -- a ukelele. C LOVES to pretend to play the guitar, but right now she just uses our Rock Band guitar. I liked the idea of giving her an actual instrument, just in case she really likes it and wants to learn to play as she gets older. Bonus: if she ends up not caring one day, she can just pass that instrument on to her mama. Double Bonus: I found a red one. And anyone who knows C probably knows it's her favorite color.

5. Anyone else feeling bereft on Tuesday nights these days without This is Us? Just me?

Happy Tuesday!



Wednesday, April 5, 2017

A Wednesday List

1. My post-vacation hangover (travel hangover, not alcohol hangover...just to clarify) isn't as bad as I thought it would be. I think part of that is the fact that it really was a relaxing vacation. Did I get enough sleep? Of course not! There were conversations to have and games to play! But stress level was minimal, and I definitely left feeling mentally, emotionally, and spiritually recharged. Plus, my first two days back I had fun activities scheduled with Houston friends, so that helped soften the blow of being back to "real life."

2. The weather today is AMAZING. Mid seventies, low humidity. It's the kind of weather you forget happens in Houston when it's the middle of July and the tropical weather -- mid to upper 90s with high humidity -- has you sweating under a heat blanket with no end in sight. Definitely not taking it for granted today.

3. I'm in the middle of reading Rivals in the City by Y.S. Lee. It's the fourth book in The Agency series, a Victorian mystery series starring a young female detective. It's a really fantastic series. The Victorian setting is clearly meticulously researched, and beautifully and artfully portrayed -- there's no dry, historical exposition, in other words -- the mysteries are solid, and the characters are people you want to get to know more. I'm moving a little slow on finishing this book because of vacation and then real life catch-up activities, but I'm enjoying it just as much as the first three.

4. Speaking of vacation (I know...jumping around here), even though we didn't travel to someplace exotic, just getting out of town and going someplace new stirred my travel bug a bit. Then listening to two different guests on The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey talk about traveling and traveling with their families (kids) really fanned the flame. I'm busting out the white board today to start brainstorming our family travel bucket list. Because A) if you don't plan for it, it won't happen B) I need to be able to research, look for deals, and know how much money to save up for trips and C) a little dreaming is good for the soul!

Happy Wednesday!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Reading...The Paris Librarian


The Paris Librarian (Hugo Marston #6) I picked up The Paris Librarian on impulse one day at the library. It was part of a display of books with a library/librarian theme, and it just caught my eye (kudos to the librarian who put the display together!). I liked the cover, I was in the mood for a good mystery, and I liked that a librarian was somehow worked into the plot. 
The novel stars Hugo Marston, a former FBI agent turned chief security officer of the US Embassy in Paris. When his friend Paul Rogers, director of the American Library in Paris, it appears to be a heart attack. However, Marston's finely tuned instinct nags at him, and when Marston's girlfriend dies not long later, Marston is convinced that both were murdered. 
The mystery involves an elderly famous actress suspected of spying on Nazis in World War II, a locked room, a senile old woman, rare poison, a secret passage, nosy journalists, and lots of visits to Paris cafes for coffee and delicious food (okay, that last thing isn't actually part of the plot, but it goes a long way toward setting the mood and making me hungry). The plot and mystery were interesting and well-paced, the characters felt real, and the setting -- as I mentioned -- was a well-written and vivid part of the story. There were a few spots of exposition -- mostly inner monologue of the main character's -- that felt a little clunky, but it didn't detract from my enjoyment of the book overall. Plus, I didn't know it when I picked up the book, but it's the sixth in a series featuring Hugo Marston. (thus a bit of exposition expected) There are a few things that characters reference that I'm guessing took place in earlier books, but I certainly felt that the book worked well as a stand-alone.
Bottom line: a good read if you're in the mood for a classic, locked-door type detective mystery novel, or a visit to Paris (and don't mind a little murder mystery on the side).

Friday, March 17, 2017

A St. Patrick's Day list

1. St. Patrick's Day was my Grandpa Rush's birthday and my grandparent's (Rush) wedding anniversary. So it's a bit of a bitter sweet day in my family. A good day for remembering loved ones in heaven, but a little sad because we miss them.

2. In the spirit of remembering, here's are two fun facts about my grandparents: 1. My grandma essentially made the first move. Her cousin and my grandpa were friends, but when my grandparents met, my grandma was dating someone else, and they didn't live in the same town. After my grandma was single, she called my grandpa once and said she was coming to Kansas City (where he lived) with -- I can't remember who now. Maybe her cousin? -- and why didn't he show her around while she was there? Boom. 2. My grandpa was in the Navy in the 50s, an underwater demolitions specialist -- basically what turned into the Navy SEALS.

3. In addition to being a holiday on which I think about my grandparents, I also get a bit melancholy around this time now that we don't live in North Carolina. Our good friends the Reeds used to host a fantastic St. Patrick's Day party every year. An excuse to make Irish stew, scones, eat yummy bread with Irish butter, listen to Flogging Molly, and occasionally bust out a good flick like Waking Ned Devine. Every year I contemplate hosting my own "Swagger Party -- Texas edition", but so far the idea hasn't quite made it out of the gate, But it will.

4. If you're in the mood for a story set in Ireland (which, if you're like me is basically all the time), may I suggest one of the following:
Sing Street (movie) -- 80s, music, high school, love, family, friends, misfits, brothers, dreams, heartbreak. SO GOOD.
Bog Child (book), by Siobahn Dowd -- Northern Ireland, historical fiction, coming of age, melancholy yet hopeful
An Irish Country Doctor (book), by Patrick Taylor -- small town, quirky, loveable characters, wonderful sense of place.
Moone Boy (Hulu original series) -- 12 year old boy's imaginary friend (Chris O'Dowd) helps him navigate the ups and downs of life as a 12 year old boy in Boyle, Ireland. Hilarious, heartwarming, and just delightful.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

If only I was an engineer, or, deep thoughts while running

I've been on a few middle-of-nowhere country runs the past few days, and since I need to be able to hear as well as see cars and dogs, I haven't taken by headphones. But it's amazing what kind of writing I can get done in my head while I'm running. The problem then comes when I try to sit down and write it out later. Sometimes, by the time I get to a computer or even a piece of paper, the words are gone or I can't quite capture the same thought. So I've decided I need a device that I can hook up to my brain to put thoughts directly into written words. Someone get on that. I'm sure nothing could go wrong, right?

Today on my country road run, I was thinking about one side effect of training for a race: I want to talk about running all the time. One of my friends in town is training for the same race, and it's his first one! He's not been a runner previously, so while I'm trying to offer encouragement and tips, I'm trying to do it in small doses because he's not hooked yet. But he does do CrossFit, so he at least understands when I get excited about it and want to talk about it. Anyway, I miss my running buddies so much during these times. Fortunately, we have phones and texting to keep in touch, and I have some amazing online running friends who I can talk to about running all the live long day. And they get it. It's nice to be gotten (is that a word? whatever. I'm going with it).

I think that's one of those things that we all want -- that we all need, in fact -- to be "gotten." To be seen, and heard, and known. I hope you all have someone, or lots of someones, in your life who make you feel seen, and heard, and known. Who get you. And know that even during those times when we don't even get ourselves (hello teenage years), God gets us, he knows us. Better than we know ourselves.