Saturday, September 8, 2018

Bout of Books 23: Wrap Up


Bout of Books

This post is going up about a week after the fact, but that's what happens when you have an infant and a toddler in the house at the end of summer. We've had a whirlwind of things to do, both around the house in preparation for winter and events in the area. It's been a busy few days. Add in the fact that the boys have decided not to adhere to their regular napping schedule this week at all and that makes any kind of online presence impossible. If they aren't creating havoc, I have the toddler attempting to smash ALL THE KEYS on the laptop if I so much as try to turn it on. In fact, as I type this, the toddler is refusing to nap and is instead dismantling his pack and play while his younger brother will only nap with me holding him, so he's perched on my arms as I type. 

The read-a-thon went okay, but I didn't get as much reading in as I thought I had. The days just drained me enough that I was ready for bed instead of reading time I guess. But I did make reading progress and I did attend one Twitter chat, so not all was lost. I would like to participate in some of the challenges next time, but I need to get myself a bit more organized in order to balance that participation and the kids.

So...while I didn't accomplish anything too astounding, let's go over what I did manage to complete this time around.


Reading at the Wrap Up:


I have since finished this book, but I was reading Backman's Us Against You at the end of the read-a-thon. It's the sequel to his novel Beartown and it's fantastic. I screwed myself up in the end though. This is one of those books where you just want to keep reading, so you try to push through the late night reading session. I figured I could wrap it up...I only had a small handful of pages left...so I kept going. Unfortunately, I was at the stage where I was too tired to absorb anything, so the next night I was going back to reading with the assumption that I hadn't finished. I reread the last ten or so pages (remembering much about the end as I went), but that choice to push through kind of took the power out of the end for me. Dumb, dumb, dumb. From now on, if I'm getting droopy, I put the book down. Lesson learned.


Completed Books:



Completed Books with the Boys:

You can see what books we've read by going to the Goodreads account for tracking reading with the boys. We finished 25 books during the week and we continue to bust through books daily.


Overall Stats:

Not as many checkmarks as I would have liked, but I do like that I read every day (both on my own and with the boys) and I am very glad that I was able to attend the second Twitter chat. I'm pretty proud of myself for the number of books that I read with my boys (especially since I didn't count the Curious George stories that we were reading for nap in the read-a-thon tally).

I've managed to eek out just enough time to wrap this up. I'm sure there is missing information or maybe even an error or two in the typing (the horror), but the toddler appears to be demanding to be back out for play. So much for mommy time today. 

I hope you had fabulous read-a-thon success and I will see you again for the next go round!

Friday, August 24, 2018

Bout of Books 23: Mid-Week Update


Bout of Books

It's officially the downhill slide of Bout of Books. It's been a little goofy for me since Friday is actually our family's Monday (work schedules can really screw you up...I frequently think that Thursday is Sunday). I missed out on the opening chat, but I have pulled up the list of A4 tweets from that chat so that I can search through the book recommendations. Nothing like continuing to add to my crazy TBR pile. 

I'm going to do my best to make it online for tomorrow's Twitter chat, but it lands right in the middle of our normal dressing/breakfast time for the boys. I think I may try to rouse them a bit earlier tomorrow so that it's playtime for the big kid and morning naptime for the little. Wish me luck...based on how today has gone for afternoon naps, I may need it. How long does it take to get through a 30 minute yoga workout? About an hour when your youngest decides he doesn't feel like napping and starts crying to be held every 3 minutes. Such is life.

I've been doing a little reading here and there, but my results for myself have not been altogether stellar. I will say that read-a-thons have a way of urging me to get off social media a little bit faster so that I have more time with a book in the evening before bed. That's definitely not a bad thing.

Here's where we stand right now...


Currently Reading:


Us Against You is the sequel to Backman's Beartown. It's so far quite good and I'm hoping it will live up to the level that Beartown set. Backman is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. He just has a way of writing with such wonderful emotional accuracy. It's easy to feel a connection to his characters. I love that. He makes his town, his people, and his story real.


Completed Books:


I finished Turtle in Paradise on Monday. It's a short little YA read that is really aimed toward the middle school set. It's a cute adventure story that stays pretty upbeat while dealing with some undercurrents of serious social issues and presenting a historical tale. It was not a bad read and certainly was a good one if you're looking for something easy to get you out of a slump.


Completed Books with the Boys:

This is the section where I really shine. We read before naptime and bedtime nearly every day. Since the books are short, we often get a few in at bedtime. This makes the pile grow pretty quickly. I've read through 18 books with the boys, not counting all of the little Curious George stories that we've been doing for naptime. Not too shabby. I won't list them all here since there are so many, but I have set up a Goodreads account for tracking reading with the boys and building a TBR for them. You can see what books we like by checking out our "Read" books there.


Overall Stats:

There are still quite a few boxes to fill, but I'm hoping that I'll be able to check off a good handful more before the read-a-thon ends. If nothing else, I'll at least be aiming to continue reading every day and to make it to that chat tomorrow. 

How goes your read-a-thoning?

Monday, August 20, 2018

Bout of Books 23: Sign Up


Hi. Remember me? I blog here intermittently. I took a bit of time off from the page recently, but I think it was for a pretty good reason...


I might be a little biased, but I'm calling this a pretty darned legit (and cute) excuse.

With the now 2 month old and his 17 month old brother here at the house, my days have been pretty full and busy. We also had their stepbrother (some of you may remember Darian...who is now 16!!) here for three weeks. So, all in all it's been a whirlwind of a couple of months.

Today though, I'm jumping back in with good reason. It's time to announce my participation in Bout of Books 23...which started today! It's one of my favorite read-a-thons and I can't let it pass me by. I have to join in to some degree or I would be terribly disappointed in myself.
The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly Rubidoux Apple. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 20th and runs through Sunday, August 26th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 23 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

What I'll Be Reading:

I used to plan this section so carefully. But...I've learned that I can't force myself into a book. If it feels like a good choice at the time, I'll grab it; otherwise, I tend to push myself right into a reading slump. So the plan is to create a nice TBR pile and then choose out whatever books suit my fancy in the moment.

Currently Reading: 


I'm a good ways through this one already, but it's proving a nice and steady read. It shouldn't take me long to wrap it up and jump in on something new.


TBR Pile:

I'm creating this list based on a couple of things. Some are the books currently sitting in a stack on the shelf near our bed. Some are books from my Great American Read Challenge and other challenges. And a couple are there because they are ones that I have recently been really wanting to read. It's a smorgasbord.



 


Yep. It's a big ol' pile. And while I'm not sure which books will actually get read, I can tell you which one I'll be starting next...


I've been looking forward to Us Against You ever since I finished Beartown and found out that there was a sequel. I have really loved everything of Backman's that I've read so far. I am giddy to get this one going.


Goals / Progress:

I've busted out and updated the Goal Tracker for use once again. I'll be keeping track of my progress using my spreadsheets and then presenting the progress via the tracker.


Updates:

Since my time is a bit scarce these days, there won't be a ton of updates. I'll likely do one mid-week and another for wrap up. Other than that, I'll be posting little mini updates on my Instagram feed.

I'll be updating the tracker as I go as well as keeping a list of what I'm reading and what I've finished. You know...the basics.


Now...what about you? Are you going to join? You should! Not only is this one of the best read-a-thons for using your own pace, the Twitter chats are fantastic. Fair warning though...they may result in a more burgeoning TBR...the other participants sometimes have fantastic literary taste. Head on over to the Bout of Books website and sign up. You won't regret it!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The Gilmore Project: "The Deer Hunters" (Topic 1 of 2)


The Project:

The Gilmore Project is an experiment in composition form. As a huge fan of the show Gilmore Girls, I have watched and rewatched the episodes several times over. During my last full viewing in early 2018, I noticed myself watching the show differently than I had in the past and realized that there was a lot of personal reflection being stimulated by the events of the show as well as the music and cultural references. As a result, I decided to start a journey in blog form...exploring each episode and how it resonated with me personally. 

Disclaimer: If you have not watched Gilmore Girls but plan to, you'll want to watch each episode before reading these posts. There will 100% of the time be spoilers. I'd be doing this wrong if there weren't. That's the nature of the beast.

As is the nature of an experiment, sometimes you have to change your approach along the way. I've altered the format for this episode's post to see if I like it a little bit better. This may or may not result in a method that sticks. I have a feeling there will be a few more evolutions of structure as I go along.


The Episode: "The Deer Hunters"


Lane: "You hit a deer?"
Rory: "No, I got hit BY a deer."

Rory gets a disappointing grade on an English paper. As a result, she panics and studies incredibly hard for her upcoming Shakespeare exam. After oversleeping following a late night cramming session, Rory is hit by a deer on her way to school. She winds up arriving late and is not allowed to sit for the exam, which is to count for 20% of her final grade in the course.


There were two primary topics that I noted during this episode. Because I tend to get a little wordy, I'll be breaking this episode into two separate posts, each addressing one of the two topics.


Topic #1: Rory Gets a D


Lorelai: “I hate when I’m an idiot and I don’t know it. I like to be aware of my idiocy, to really revel in it, take pictures. I feel we missed a prime Christmas card opportunity.”
Rory: “I’m sorry.”
Lorelai: “You should have told me.”
Rory: “I couldn’t.”
Lorelai: “You couldn’t tell me? You tell me everything.”
Rory: “It was too humiliating.”
Lorelai: “Oh, honey. You once told me that you loved Saved By the Bell. What could be more humiliating than that?”

Rory is used to being a stellar student. Learning seems to come fairly easy to her and she's always been a bright girl. But Chilton poses new challenges. When she receives a "D" on her English paper (her first D ever), she is understandably concerned and disappointed. 

This situation is one that I can so easily understand. I was a pretty good student in high school and--though I did study and it did take me some effort--I graduated with a 4.0. I expected that college would be more difficult, but I expected that my academic success would continue to a relative degree and had not really prepared myself for the possibility of low grades. That lack of mental preparation slapped me square in the face in the middle of the first semester of my sophomore year. 

Physics 2. Ouch. I had excelled at physics in high school and did fairly well in my first semester of physics in freshman year. I knew it would be a bit of a challenge, but the subject suddenly (apparently) went well above my head. I landed a couple of D's on tests and squeaked my way out of that class with a C. It felt like I was such an amazing disappointment.

For a student used to getting A's and maybe the occasional B, a D resulted in such an overwhelming feeling of utter failure. Like Rory, I went through a period of panic following the initial red marked exam. I was frequently reminded by others that "C's get degrees", but that mantra wasn't one that made me feel any better. I just felt stupid. This led to a spiral of feeling overwhelmed by a complete inability to learn the materials that needed to be mastered. Though I did get out of the class with a passing C, I think the panic resulted in a certain feeling of defeat that followed me throughout the semester. I somewhat gave up. Perhaps I could have actually learned the materials better and gotten myself a B, but there was a spiral of misery that led to the idea that physics...well...it just wouldn't be for me.

You'd think that I would have learned from that experience, but apparently...for me...it's never easy accepting anything less than a B. In dental school, I struggled with more than one subject and being away from home and my family compounded the feeling of despair that resulted from the challenge. I frequently called home in tears - to which my dad responded by consistently handing the phone to my mom..."She wants to talk to you." 

I've never been one to deal with stress gracefully. Some breakdowns were worse than others. My mother will often regale others with the story of how I phoned one night so completely inconsolable that she nearly purchased a very expensive airline ticket to come see me the next day. Yet, when she spoke with me on the phone a mere 24 hours later, I had bounced back from my meltdown and was doing just fine. She emphatically asserts that she would have strangled me if she had indeed spent the money just to find me fully recovered.

Lorelai's concern over Rory's panic and frustration results in a discussion over whether Rory is going to Chilton and striving for Harvard admission for herself or for Lorelai's benefit. I absolutely understand this concern as well. Though I didn't really stop to consider it very well along the way, I can now look back and find a good source for debating within myself whether my approach to education and a career were really because they were what I wanted or because I felt that I had something to prove to others. I still can't really give a firm assertion one way or the other, but I am inclined to think that my narrow focus wasn't really based on what I felt would make me happy.

As a result, I'm more inclined to encourage Darian (and likely will do the same for Brecken and his soon-to-arrive brother) to explore his options and really try different courses out. I've been pretty persistent with letting him know that he doesn't have to know what he wants to do in life yet. He's a teenager. He still has time to figure it out. I fully support the idea of taking general grad courses for the first year (and maybe even the second year) of college. It's much better to have to stretch yourself to a fifth year in order to get a degree in something you love than to try and hurry to finish just to be stuck with a career you don't enjoy. Life is short; do what you love...love what you do.

That's not to say that it will all come easy or that there won't be moments of feeling like a failure, but it shouldn't be that way the majority of the time. Oh...and yes, there are professions that provide a bit of a better lifestyle than others. But, when it really comes down to it, money isn't everything and sometimes being comfortable and happy isn't dictated by your financial status.


The Gilmore Project continues...

Monday, May 21, 2018

Bout of Books 22: Wrap Up

Bout of Books

Another Bout of Books comes to a close. I'm actually quite pleased with how I did on most accounts and I have managed to almost catch up on my Goodreads Reading challenge for this year. That makes me ridiculously happy.

In the middle of the week, I happened across a post on Facebook that mentioned The Great American Read...a series that is coming out from PBS this week. They'll be looking at the 100-best loved novels in America, explore how they have affected their readers, and then put it up to viewers to vote the best out of the list.

Well...of course this just created a new challenge for me. So I spent a chunk of Saturday's afternoon naptime adding books to my TBR and creating a new challenge page for the books in The Great American Read. I just couldn't help myself.

On Saturday, I also managed to make it for the second Twitter chat. It was a bit bumpy thanks to a super cranky boy and a lagging TweetDeck, but it was still a good time. I'm bummed that I missed out on the challenges for this round of Bout of Books, but I honestly may go check them out for future on my own reading fun. I've found that I'm terrible at short-notice challenges...I need lead time apparently.

Now...let's get to the actual reading.


Currently Reading:


I'm kind of "currently reading" this. I haven't actually started it yet, but it's next on the list. I crashed out last night in the wee hours of the morning after finishing my last read.


Completed Books:

 

I discussed my thoughts on Me and Early and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews in my last post.

Forever in Blue was okay, but was one of those instances where a book was pretty well wrecked by having seen the movie based on the book. Gah, I seriously hate that. The book was still good and was a pretty easy read, but I wish I hadn't had any surprise of the narrative effectively ruined by my having seen the film.

I finished out the week by reading The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Wow. This book was the one I needed all week. Amazing. It was so raw and real. Uncomfortable every once in a while? Yes. But so freaking awesome. I can't recommend this one enough.


Completed Books with Brecken:

Ugh. Okay...I made a valiant effort to read to this kid. Seriously. But he had a few pretty rough days. We read some occasional pages here and there, but never made it through an entire book. Too many toddler meltdowns to even count. If you're wondering if this has continued to today, the answer is yes. I could use a nap...and a stiff drink.


Overall Stats:

I real almost every day. Thursday was just too exhausting. It didn't happen. I goofed around on Facebook for a few minutes at bedtime and then just collapsed. I read quite a few more pages than I realistically expected and I finished 3 books. I'm pretty freaking happy about that.

Overall, a fairly successful Bout of Books. I'm doing pretty well with my reading pace this year, much to my surprise. I'm hoping it continues, because I'm really enjoying the fact that my reading slump has come to an end.

As for Bout of Books...the next one is coming up in a couple of months. Bout of Books 23 will be held from August 20th to August 26th. I'll be participating. I'm hoping to do a little better prep work for that one so that I can enjoy the community factor a bit more, but we'll see since I'll have the boy and his brother by that time. We'll see how good I am at juggling two kids.

Monday, May 14, 2018

The Gilmore Project: "Kill Me Now"


The Project:


The Gilmore Project is an experiment in composition form. As a huge fan of the show Gilmore Girls, I have watched and rewatched the episodes several times over. During my last full viewing in early 2018, I noticed myself watching the show differently than I had in the past and realized that there was a lot of personal reflection being stimulated by the events of the show as well as the music and cultural references. As a result, I decided to start a journey in blog form...exploring each episode and how it resonated with me personally. 

Disclaimer: If you have not watched Gilmore Girls but plan to, you'll want to watch each episode before reading these posts. There will 100% of the time be spoilers. I'd be doing this wrong if there weren't. That's the nature of the beast.


The Episode:



Emily: There you go. Now you look just like Tiger Woods.
Rory: Wow. That's some hat.

Rory is being forced under the rigors of Chilton to join a sport. After the subject is brought up at Friday night dinner, Emily suggests that Richard take her golfing. Both Richard and Lorelai voice concerns with the situation. Rory spends a day at the club with her grandfather, after which all parties involved, including Lorelai, are surprised to find that both Richard and Rory enjoyed the outing. This spurs some crazy jealousy in Lorelai, who struggles with the idea that her daughter is finding closeness in a relationship with the parents she could never connect with.


The Lorelai Angle:

Ah...so much for my being able to identify more with Lorelai in the Gilmore episodes. Well...maybe that will change as we progress through the seasons. As for this episode, Lorelai spends most of her time coordinating a wedding at the inn and feeling crazy jealous of Rory's relationship with the elder Gilmores. Neither of these situations were really ones I could connect with beyond anything superficial.


The Rory Angle:

Oh, sports. When the subject of the school's requirement comes up at dinner, Rory's quip is "I'm not really the athletic type". This could not be more me. I'm a book worm, not an athlete. But...much like Chilton, my parents (specifically my dad) had it in their heads that I needed to participate in some kind of sport.

I managed to escape this requirement fairly well until junior high. At that point, I reluctantly joined the volleyball team. Now...it should be mentioned that I am ridiculously uncoordinated and completely lack any grace. My parents had enrolled me in both gymnastics and dance in prior years in an attempt to rectify this issue. It did not take. This was somewhat apparent on the court as well. I was...okay...I suppose, but I certainly did not have any natural athletic ability. It didn't help that I had what was probably a pretty crappy attitude about the whole thing. I didn't want to be there, didn't want to participate, and didn't really have any interest in the sport. I have very few memories about that season, but I made it through.

I thought this endeavor would be enough to satisfy my dad. Nope. He soon decided that maybe it was just that volleyball wasn't my forte. I needed to find a spring sport and try again. Ugh. My parents both had been athletic in their high school days. My mom was a cheerleader. My dad was a track star...like breaking school records type track star. I wasn't popular in any way and had zero interest in taking on cheer, so Dad decided that maybe some genetic ability had passed to me and I should definitely try track. Gah.

I hate running. Seriously. Not a fan. So I hedged away from those events (much to my long-distance running father's chagrin) and instead put myself in shot put, long jump, and...minimizing my running...a relay. This worked well for a while. However, there was an...incident. At one track meet, one of my classmates was unavailable for her leg in a longer distance relay. I was (reluctantly) subbed in. And...as if there was some cosmic sign that I should NOT be a runner...I nearly passed out during my run. A subsequent breathing issue led to a minor medical emergency and a resulting diagnosis of sports aggravated asthma. You had better believe I latched on to this. No more track for me. I finished out the season, but after that...there were no more organized sports. Sometimes things just have a way of working themselves out.

Rory's experience may have resulted in a bit more enjoyment than my volleyball or track stints, but...I did take a bit of joy in the fact that she didn't excel on the green any more than I did on the court or the field.

The Gilmore Project continues...

Friday, May 11, 2018

Bout of Books 22: Sign Up


Bout of Books

Don't worry...I haven't given up on The Gilmore Project. The weather finally got better out here and we have been spending a lot of time enjoying the sunshine and the lack of snow. There has been a lot of cleanup to do and we are slowly digging out of the muddy hole. The barn has been cleaned, some spring projects have been started, and I'm working on the garden planning so that I can plant here in the next couple of weeks.

Today though, I need to announce my participation in Bout of Books 22. It's one of my favorite read-a-thons and it starts in just a few days. (Yay!!)
The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly Rubidoux Apple. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 14th and runs through Sunday, May 20th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 22 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

What I'll Be Reading:

I still have a couple of days before the read-a-thon starts, so I may finish the book that I'm currently reading. However, since I can't guarantee that it will be completed, I'm including it in my TBR pile.

Currently Reading: 

I don't have a particular order that I'm planning on reading these books in, but they're the ones currently sitting in a stack on the shelf near our bed and the ones that I have chosen for current and upcoming challenge reads. There are far more listed here than I will likely get to, but I like to have options.







Goals / Progress:

I've busted out the Goal Tracker for use once again. I'll be keeping track of my progress using my spreadsheets and then presenting the progress via the tracker.

Updates:

I'll be doing updates periodically throughout the week. I haven't decided how often yet, but there will likely be at least three updates (including the wrap-up).

I'll be updating the tracker as I go as well as keeping a list of what I'm reading and what I've finished. You know...the basics.


Now...what about you? Are you going to join? You should! Not only is this one of the best read-a-thons for using your own pace, the Twitter chats are fantastic. Fair warning though...they may result in a more burgeoning TBR...the other participants sometimes have fantastic literary taste. Head on over to the Bout of Books website and sign up. You won't regret it!

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