Books

Books: The Adults

I was looking for a light, fun read to ring in 2019, and The Adults, Caroline Hulse’s debut novel, fit the bill. I loved this book. When Claire and Matt, divorced parents of a little girl, decide to spend Christmas together at a resort with their daughter and their new significant others, chaos ensues.

The dialogue was absolutely hilarious. It reminded me of the humor in Bridget Jones’ diary, and I found myself imagining who would play the characters in the movie version, if and when this hits the big screen. I’m usually a “the book is better than the movie” kind of gal, but I think the film version of this would be fantastic if the right actors were cast. I’m thinking Colin Firth as Patrick.

The book does have some deep moments. It reminds us how divorce, parenting, and new relationships can be challenging for all involved. In trying to be mature and do what is best for 7-year-old Scarlett, the four adults in the book let their insecurities get the best of them and end up acting like anything but adults.

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(Image from amazon.com)

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Books

Books: Tell the Wolves I’m Home

Happy 2019! I only read 14 books in 2018, which is nowhere near what I would’ve liked to have read, but the books I did read were almost all fantastic. (I blame Girl, Wash Your Face for lowering the average.) Educated and The Great Believers were two of the best books I have ever read.

The last book I finished in 2018 was Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt. In it, June, a teenager in the 1980s, befriends her late uncle’s boyfriend. June is trying to navigate being a teenager while having just lost her beloved uncle, who was also her best friend. She builds a deep friendship with Toby, who is dying of AIDS.

Despite being a bit dry at times, the book did finish strong. I found June’s volatile relationship with her older sister especially moving. In the end, the book focuses on the way life reveals good in people despite hardship and sadness.

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(Image from amazon.com)

Adventures

Why I Started My New Year’s Resolutions Early (or Really, Really Late)

Happy New Year! I had a great Thanksgiving and Christmas with my family, but truth be told, I couldn’t wait to start taking down my Christmas decorations and get back into a normal routine. This year I decided to get a jump on my New Year’s resolutions before Thanksgiving. Actually, perhaps I was just 11 months late in starting 2018’s resolutions. Don’t judge. Either way, I needed to commit to taking better care of myself, both physically and mentally, over the holidays. Also, I thought I would be more likely to adhere to my goals if I made them part of this busy time of year.

So I started my resolutions November 1, and I am so glad I did. My three simple resolutions are nothing major or impressive, but they are three relatively attainable lifestyle changes that will be good for me. Really, isn’t that all a resolution should be?

December 2018 (1)

Run a mile a day for a (month, year?). I started this November 1 with the modest goal of running 30 miles that month. Sometimes I ran just one mile, sometimes I ran more to compensate for days I skipped. It wasn’t much, but, having never been a runner, it was an attainable goal. A couple of weeks in, I couldn’t believe how much better this made me feel. Again, I have friends who run half marathons and are all-around stellar at being in shape. This isn’t about trying to be them, even though I think they’re completely awesome. It’s about being a better version of me. I made running a commitment, even when I was exhausted from working and parenting, and even when I was out of town for a girls’ concert weekend. I carried the mile a day goal on through December, and am planning on running a 5K in February.

Implement a “something in, something out” organizational approach. Staying organized is absolutely critical to my mental well-being. That can be really difficult with two small children at home, especially after the excess of the holiday season. I did a significant purge/donation of toys, clothes, and baby items prior to Christmas. I even donated a lot of Christmas decorations because I felt like we just had way too much. Now that the holidays are over, I really plan to stick with a “something in, something out” approach when it comes to toys, clothes, and other household items. I realize this might need to flex a bit due to my kids’ clothes and toys, but in general, I think a happier household is one in which a whole bunch of “stuff” isn’t brought in without donating something else.

Make time for what I love. While this could mean more traveling, eating lavish meals, getting pedicures, and seeing Metallica a dozen more times, it is really more about incorporating simple pleasures into daily life. This means spending more quality time with my kids, planning regular date nights with my husband, taking an occasional bubble bath, and spending at least 15 minutes a day reading.

I now have two months of success behind me and it is only January 2. That’s a good feeling! Hopefully that’s the leg up I need on making 2019 a fabulous year, and, luckily my favorite treadmill (the old one at the far end of the row) was available when I got to the gym tonight after work. Cheers to a great 2019!

In My House

For the Mom Buying Her Own Stocking Stuffers

Like a lot of moms out there, I buy a few goodies to stuff my own stocking every Christmas. I don’t want my four-year-old asking why Santa filled everyone’s stocking but Mommy’s, and, quite frankly, I just really love stocking stuffers. They’re small, fun, and don’t require cleaning out an entire closet to find space to store them. So, pretty much, they’re the best kind of gift! Here are my favorites for my own stocking this year.

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1. These enamel pins by Rifle Paper Co. are perfect for a stocking. I’m actually also giving them as gifts to my daughters’ preschool teachers this year. (Anthropologie) 2. This cute little box holds a small tube of my favorite moisturizer and a purse-size lip gloss. (Clinique) 3. This drinking glass features a schnauzer that looks so much like my own Norman. I would use this on my dresser as a jewelry catch-all. It comes in other dog breeds as well. (Anthropologie) 4. Wear Your Music offers jewelry made from guitar strings of all kinds of musicians ranging from James Taylor to Jason Mraz. I would of course choose a bracelet made from James Hetfield’s guitar strings. (Wear Your Music) 5. This is one of my favorite hand creams to get through the dry winter months. Vanilla marshmallow is one of the best fragrances. (The Body Shop) 6. I love the bow detail on these gloves and gray is always a favorite for me. They also come in black and pink. (Kate Spade)

In My House

Some Holiday Favorites

It is hard to believe that Christmas is only a little more than a week away. I have been enjoying the anticipation through the eyes of my two young daughters. I also shamelessly ordered all my own stocking stuffers from Sephora and Anthropologie. Are there any other moms out there who order their own stocking stuffers? I’ll post my favorites later, but for now here are a few other items I’m loving this Christmas season.

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1. These animal ornaments are the cutest and would make great gifts for teachers and friends. Who doesn’t love a small smiling sloth? (Crate & Barrel) 2. I am thrilled at the abundance of non-candy advent calendars on the market. This Playmobil Santa’s Workshop has been a huge hit with my girls. (Target) 3. These metal monogram ornaments are gorgeous on the tree or tied on a gift in place of a bow. (Anthropologie.) 4. This table runner will be lovely to dress up with red and green décor, but also will work for everyday. (Target) 5. My friend and I visited Anthropologie on our recent trip to Salt Lake City and both fell in love with this skirt. It’s pricey and we had both just spend a lot of money on Metallica tickets so we passed this time, but I’ll be watching to see if it goes on sale! We were thrilled that the store is featuring the same fox image on their shopping bags this season so we still got to take this lovely design home, just not in skirt form. (Anthropologie) 6. A store in my small town carries homemade taper candles in a variety of gorgeous hues. I recently grabbed some dark forest green ones to pair with a black and white runner on my dining room table. These are similar and under $4 for a pair. (Target)

Books

Books: A Thousand Naked Strangers

A Thousand Naked Strangers by Kevin Hazzard is, as the cover says, a wild ride. Hazzard, now a journalist and television writer, writes about his decade-long gig as a paramedic in inner city Atlanta, one of the most crime-ridden areas of the country. The book is his non-fiction account of that time and some of the most interesting, gruesome, and touching experiences Hazzard (no, I’m not sure if that’s his real last name) had.

Hazzard’s stories are definitely macabre and he acknowledges the desensitization that takes place when individuals encounter blood and gore on a very regular basis. I found this to be an interesting and necessary survival tactic for people in this highly difficult job. I don’t have a weak stomach by any means, but I wouldn’t recommend reading this one on your lunch break. I tried a couple times and had to put it down.

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Working in a hospital, I found it especially interesting to learn more about this very important aspect of first-on-the-scene healthcare. Hazzard also describes the complicated dynamics between paramedics, physicians, firefighters, and law enforcement. The book is a quick and exciting read. It is also a reminder of the special, highly dedicated person it takes to do this important work.

Books

Books: Girl, Wash Your Face

I wasn’t going to read Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis. Something about all the hype surrounding it turned me away. Then I spotted it on a shelf near the children’s section of the library while on my weekly visit with the girls and seized the moment.

It was a quick read, which, in all honesty, is about the only reason why I finished it. Some of the chapters were somewhat relatable and enlightening. Some of them made me strongly dislike this woman. When Hollis writes about real, hard-hitting topics like suicide and serving as a foster parent, the message is compelling. When she writes about “achieving the goal” of purchasing a $1,000-handbag, she seems petty and clueless.

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At the beginning of the book, she attempts to lay out a platform of lifting other women up instead of tearing them down. That’s a concept I can definitely rally around, despite the fact that I’ll admit I’m kind of tearing her down right now. I’m aware of that, but I also believe in expressing my honest opinion of the things I read. They can’t all be the best thing ever!

A few chapters into the book, I was feeling beaten down by her for enjoying Diet Coke and getting a little winded running a mile on the treadmill. She hasn’t had a Diet Coke in years (never mind the fact that she slams non-fat lattes like they’re going out of style) and she runs marathons. I have nothing against lattes and marathons, but Hollis makes it sound like her way is the only way.

At the end of the day, this book didn’t live up to the hype. In fact, most of it kind of annoyed me. I wanted reading it to feel like chatting with a good friend, but it didn’t feel that way at all. I still do not ever feel that time spent reading is wasted. Even if the book isn’t great, or doesn’t uplift or intrigue me, I still believe it is worthwhile to have read someone else’s thoughts, ideas, and stories.