Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Well, another week – here we go, I guess.  It doesn’t feel like much of a change to me, because I worked basically full days on both Saturday and Sunday.  Which is good, because I needed the hours – in law firm life, staying billable is a constant and mentally exhausting struggle – but I could have really used the brain break.  Maybe next weekend.  Maybe not.  Anyway, in between all the work – even getting up at 5:15 on Sunday to sit down in front of my legal research, gahhhh – I managed to squeeze in some reading – finishing a book I needed to get done – and the first two hikes of my 52 hike challenge for 2018.  We looped Theodore Roosevelt Island, an NPS-managed site that was open, if not staffed, despite the government shutdown, then hopped in the car and drove another ten minutes up the parkway to Scott’s Run Nature Preserve, a Fairfax County park with a cool waterfall.  Pics on Instagram, if we’re friends there, and I’ll be recapping the first of the two hikes for 12 Months of Trails in the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned.  Other than that – not much to report about the weekend.  We’re delighted that the weather has warmed up a little bit, and we got in a good stroll down to the waterfront on Saturday afternoon in preparation for two hikes on Sunday, and let the kids run around on the grass to burn off some of that winter energy.  We all needed to burn off some energy, actually.  There’s been a lot of sitting at desks and huddling indoors recently.


Reading.  As you can see, my resolution to read fewer books in 2018 is going AWESOME.  /sarcasm.  Seriously, that was one that I made pretty loosely, just to create space for the chunkier classics that I want to read, so if I end up reading more than 52 (and let’s be realistic, I will end up reading more than 52) that’s okay.  Anyway, last week was quite the banner week for reading, and especially for diverse books.  I finished the Nafisi book and the Adichie book on Monday, then blew through Exit West on President Obama’s recommendation (of course, he was totally right, and it was wonderful).  The Witches of New York took me a bit longer – read on Rebecca’s recommendation, I liked it better than the last book she recommended to me (Beautiful Creatures, which I couldn’t stand – at one point I found myself folding laundry in order to avoid it); this one, I enjoyed but wouldn’t call a favorite.  Finally, I turned to Amina’s Voice, YA about a young Muslim girl who overcomes her shyness to speak out for her community.  I just sunk into it on Sunday night, but I’m loving it so far.

Watching.  Very little.  I’m still screened out from last weekend’s epic marathon of Cars and Star Wars (Nugget is feeling much better) and didn’t want to watch anything at all over the week.  On Saturday I requested Rock the Park, thinking we should have at least five episodes queued up in our DVR, only to discover that the DVR hasn’t been recording those episodes – even though I swear we have set it to record them about three times.  Womp womp.  So instead we watched the BBC/Smithsonian documentary The Coronation, which was fascinating (and, as British TV tends to do, made me want to book a plane ticket to London immediately).

Listening.  It was all podcasts this week.  I’ve been craving my book podcasts and I keep cleaning those out of my podcatcher, which means I have a huge pile of backlog parenting podcasts – my other favored podcast topic.  Highlight: I caught up on The Book Riot Podcast, and hearing their take on Fire and Fury was very interesting.

Moving.  Some walking this weekend, in the fresh air – yay!  We took a nice long ramble around the neighborhood on Saturday afternoon, and two hikes on Sunday.  One of the two – Scott’s Run – involved walking down and then up a huge hill, which would have been challenging even without forty-ish pounds strapped to my back and whining in my ear.  Need to get back to formal exercise, though – I miss my yoga and barre classes!

Blogging.  It’s a reading-heavy week – on Wednesday I’ll share Part II of my 2017 reading retrospective, and Friday will wrap up the look-back with Part III.  I’ve also gone over my calendar and plotted out a bunch of posts coming up over the next few months, and they’re going to be quite book-heavy.  I’m always mulling over where I want to take my blog, and I am thinking that in 2018 and onward, I’d like to veer more toward books (with liberal helpings of hiking and travel) and away from kid-focused posts.  The kids will still make appearances, naturally, and I’ll write their birthday posts and similar things, but as they’re getting older and I am looking to reclaim some of my own interests, it feels right to take a step back from parenting content and toward other (less personal) topics.  Hope that’s cool with my friends.

Loving.  I hardly ever talk about food in this spot, but I have a food item – a treat, really – to share with you today.  As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I listened to the 50th episode of my favorite podcast, Tea or Books?, which was a Q&A.  One of the listener questions was about the hosts’ tea-drinking habits, and after some rather heated banter about tea itself, they buried the hatchet and agreed that their favorite snack to enjoy with their tea was dark chocolate digestives.  Well, I love digestives, and after I heard Simon and Rachel vouch for the dark chocolate variety, I couldn’t stop thinking about them.  Thanks to the magic of Amazon (although the Wegmans international aisle sometimes has digestives, so I suppose I could have checked there) I had a four-pack of dark chocolate digestive packages on my doorstep in two days, and I have indeed been enjoying one or two with my tea.  Podcasts!  They really do make the world better!

Asking.  What are you reading this week?  Do you like digestives?

Advertisements

Well!  Wrapping up another year – here we go.  We’re a couple of weeks into 2018 now, but it always takes me all of January to get through my posts looking back on the last year, especially when it comes to books and reading.  2017 was another banner year for me in books – no matter what else may change, or how crazy life may get, books are always my refuge, so I guess it makes sense that I read as much as I did in 2017.  Here’s how my numbers are looking, now that I’ve closed the book (sorry) on the year.

Just the Facts, Ma’am

Looking at the numbers alone, it looks like I read 102 books this year – which is a pace of juuuuuuust a hair under two books per week.  That sounds about right to me.  It was a busy year, full of travel, parenting and work stress, so it seems that no matter what I do, I come out around 100 books in a year.  That seems to be the sweet spot.

 

My longest book, clocking in at 904 pages, was Middlemarch, by George Eliot (which I actually listened to on audiobook this time around, although I have read it in print, in the past).  My shortest book, at a slim 46 pages, was Simplify, by Joshua Becker.  Funnily enough, Simplify was also the first book I read in 2017.  It’s a good New Year’s book.

Pie-Oh-My

One of my favorite exercises to do at the end of a year (or beginning of a new year) is look back over all of the books I read in the previous year.  It’s always fun to see where I began, where I went, and where I ended – and of course, to relive a list of wonderful books.

Fiction/Non-Fiction

Always the easiest place to begin.  As always, I was a big fiction reader this year – that never changes.  72 fiction to 28 non-fiction – more than twice as much.  Non-fiction represented a little more than a quarter of my reading this year, which – again – is pretty consistent for me.  What did change is that I read two books of poetry this year!  I considered placing them in the non-fiction category, but they didn’t quite fit there, so I’ve got a new category on this graph this year.  I hope it’s a bigger sliver of the pie in 2018.

Format

Unsurprisingly, I was heavily into physical books this year – always am.  I don’t have a particular prejudice in favor of physical books; they just tend to be what I pick up.  And when you consider that the comics/graphic novels (only three this year, which is a departure from the past couple of years) and journals that I read this year are also physical objects, that’s even more.  I did read more electronically this year – five audiobooks and eleven ebooks – than I have done in the past, which is interesting.  (Despite what this chart may look like, I don’t place a value on reading physical books or reading electronically, so I have no 2018 goals in either direction.  I gravitate more toward physical books because I can’t read on my phone, as many ebook readers do – too much time looking at my phone screen gives me debilitating headaches.  My kindle doesn’t have the same effect, so most ebooks I’m reading are completed with that device.)  The one thing that I really like is that it appears I read across a number of different formats – including two journals – this year.  I’d like to keep that up, and to read more journals and more comics, in 2018.

Source of Book

As usual, I was a heavy library user this year.  Reading 102 books in a year, I guess I have to be – or I’d break the bank.  (Plus there was Project 24 to contend with this year – I only bought 24 books for myself all year, and while that may seem like a lot to some people, I am confident that here, among my kindred spirits as I am, you all are praising my fortitude and forbearance.)  The change was that I was actually not as heavy of a library user as I have been in the past.  While library books still made up the bulk of my reading this year, Audible (I have a membership) and Kindle (thanks to Modern Mrs. Darcy‘s daily ebook deals emails) chipped away at the graph, and I also made an effort to read from my own shelves.  I have a lot of beautiful editions of classics that I’m hoping to finally get to in 2018, so that number will – I am optimistically predicting – grow even more in 2018.

Fiction Genres

Now comes the fun part – getting into the weeds a bit more.  Starting with fiction genres – I was thrilled to see that I read 22 classics this year; by far the biggest chunk of all the fiction genres.  Literary fiction, clocking in at 16 books, was also a big category for me (it always is) but I love to see classics top the chart.  Mystery is usually a reliable genre for me, too, and six books is respectable.  As for the rest, I was dabbling all over the place this year, and it shows in small numbers over a bunch of categories – one short stories, one romance, two historical fiction – you can see.  This chart is pretty normal for me, and for 2018 I’m predicting an even heavier weight toward classics, since I’m feeling very drawn to them at the moment (could this tumultuous national atmosphere have anything to do with that, I wonder?).

Nonfiction Genres

I was really surprised to see so many memoirs.  I had no idea that genre interested me as much as it does.  Part of it, I think, is the grey area of classification – for instance, I put both Hillary Clinton’s What Happened and Alyssa Mastromonaco’s Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? into the memoir category, but either or both could have fit into the politics category just as neatly.  The discretion and judgment calls involved in assigning categories do sometimes result in one category getting weighted, and I think that’s what’s happening here.  But expect to see a heavy memoir year in 2018, too, because I’ve been stockpiling Slightly Foxed Editions, and those are all classic-but-forgotten memoirs.  Another one to file in the non-surprise category – five books about politics!  (And that’s leaving out Hillary and Alyssa, as noted.)  Usually I lump politics, history and social science into one category; this year, I read so many that I ended up breaking them apart.  Again – I wonder if the tumultuous national atmosphere has anything to do with that.  I’m sure I’m not the only one turning to books to make sense of what’s going on.

Settings

Always a fun one to review!  No surprise here – England and the USA were by far my two biggest categories.  They’re usually fairly close to even, but this year, the USA pulled way ahead.  I’m guessing that was at least partially due to the heavier slate of political books and political memoirs, but I don’t think that can totally explain it.  I’m going out on a limb and speculating here, but I also was actively seeking out books about the African-American and immigrant experiences, as part of my effort to read diversely, and that may have inflated the USA total as well.  Other items of note – four books set in multiple settings, and funnily, two of those were evenly divided between Italy and England (who’d have thunk?).  Also, I read a book set in outer space – Octavia Butler’s Dawn, which takes place entirely aboard an alien spaceship.  Wild stuff.

Diverse Voices

In 2017, I set the goal to read at least 33% diverse voices (which I sketchily defined as including racial minorities, the LGBTQ+ community, and underrepresented religions, or a combination thereof).  That goal doesn’t quite get me to 33% people of color (which is the American population, roughly) because some of the categories – like LGBTQ+ and underrepresented religions – can and do include white writers.  But I like the number 33% because I think it’s a serious goal.  (Note: I didn’t actually set a number or percentage goal for 2018, but I am still paying attention and actively seeking out diverse books.)  Anyway, the chart above shows how I did – and it’s good.  For the second year in a row, I exceeded 33% of my booklist being devoted to diverse books.  At 40 books out of a total of 102, I came in at about 39.6%, and I am really pleased with that.  Some of the best books I read this year were by diverse writers and writers of color – like Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng, and The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas – and I don’t know that they would have come my way if I hadn’t been actively seeking them out.  That effort is the thing, and it’s so important.  I don’t say that to congratulate myself – goodness knows I have room to improve – but to point out that it’s easy to fall into a pattern of not seeking out diverse books.  This is a problem in publishing.  It shouldn’t require planning and legwork and commitment by the reader to track down and obtain these books; they are compelling stories told in great prose and they deserve a lot more exposure.

Diverse Groups

Final pie chart – a bit more detail on my diverse reading efforts.  Consistent with 2016, African-Americans and African Diaspora authors were the largest group.  This is unsurprising, because I try particularly hard to seek out those stories.  I also read a lot of Asian and Asian-American authors this year, and really enjoyed the time I spent with them (Kevin Kwan and Celeste Ng, I’m looking at you).  One thing that disappointed me?  My LGBTQ+ number, which I’d like to see a lot higher.  (It’s not as bad as it looks, though.  Both of the books that I classified as “multiple” diverse groups were from LGBTQ+ authors, who also happened to be people of color.  But five LGBTQ+ authors is still not enough.)  A pleasant surprise was my Native American total, although six of those seven books were Louise Erdrich novels.  I’d love to keep growing there, so please, hit me with your best Native American/Native Canadian/First Nations recommendations.

So – there it is!  A year in reading, broke down in the nerdiest way imaginable.  I had a good bookish year, if you couldn’t tell from the above.  Lots of laughter, lots of thought, some tears, and quite a few new fictional friends.  And now – onward to 2018, which I hope will be a banner year for both classics and diverse books.

Did you have reading goals in 2017?  How’d it go?

2018 Goals

Well, here we are again at the start of a new year.  2017 sure was a doozy, and while I am certainly hoping for better things for our country and the world in this coming year, it’s hard to be optimistic.  But from a personal perspective, I am optimistic.  I am hopeful for good things for me and for my family in 2018.  This is going to be a big year for us – Nugget will start preschool (sniff) and Peanut will be in kindergarten (double sniff!) and Steve and I will, I hope, continue to grow professionally, personally, and in our marriage.  I’m sure there will be travel, adventures closer to home, and lots of time with family and friends.  And for me individually, there are a few things I would like to do, and this year, I have found it helpful to break the goals into categories (as I sometimes do).

Outdoors/Fitness

  • Another 12 Month Hiking Project.  There are still plenty of parks and trails around here to explore, and I want to experience them all.  In Buffalo, I ran out of fresh hikes to do and was only able to do this once.  Back in northern Virginia, we have a wealth of hiking opportunities – hurray!
  • Complete the 52 Hike Challenge!  An Instagram friend did this last year, and I found it completely inspiring, so I signed up for 2018.  I have no illusions that this is going to be an easy goal to achieve, but I will feel incredibly proud if I do finish the challenge.
  • Get into a workout routine that I can sustain with my current schedule and pace of life, and that makes room for all of the things that I enjoy most – running, yoga, barre3 and hiking.  I think I’m fairly close to figuring this one out, and I’d love to reap the benefits of it all year long.

Relationships

  • Be a “yes mom.”  I’d like to be someone who mostly says yes to things and doesn’t say no without good reason.  I have to stand by my decisions either way and it’s nicer to go through life saying yes to the kids than saying no to them.  (Within reason, of course.)
  • Related: try to chill out overall.  I tend to be a high-stress person and I think that mostly, I am pretty good at not bringing stress home and taking it out on my family.  But I can always do better at this.  I’d like to end 2018 feeling like we created a lot of happy memories as a family, and not feeling like I was an anxious and cranky person all the time.
  • Go on dates!  In 2017 Steve and I started focusing on getting out for more date nights now that the kids are older (and our nanny told us she was looking for extra babysitting opportunities) and I want to keep that rolling.  We do miss the little rugrats when we are out and about without them, but having time for the two of us is important, too.

Personal/Self-Care

  • Pack my lunches.  I got out of the habit of packing lunches in Buffalo, and never quite got back in the habit in D.C.  Since it’s expensive to buy lunch, this is definitely something that I want to change as soon as possible.
  • Step away from the screen.  I am already pretty good at this – I don’t watch TV much – but I can get lost in Twitter and Facebook.  Instead of scrolling mindlessly, I’d like to use that time for reading, doing projects, moving, or being productive around the house.
  • Explore natural healing and wellness options.  There are some areas of my life (hydration, for instance) where I feel like I am on a roll, but in other areas, I need help.  I would love to find some natural remedies that could help me improve my digestive health and also my focus, attention, and calm.  I think these things are tied to one another, at least a little bit, and I’d like to delve into essential oils, supplements, movement and dietary changes so that I can feel my best, both emotionally and physically, this year.

Reading

  • Read fewer books.  Yes, you read that right!  In a normal year, I seem to clock in around 100 books no matter what I do – but this year, I want to read 52.  I’ll be happy to read more than that, of course, but I want to create some space for another goal…
  • Check off some of the classics on my TBR.  I have a lot of Trollope, Gaskell, Dickens and others on my shelves, and they are calling my name.  But I want to take it slow and give them the attention they deserve – plus they are long, and often written in a different style than the more modern books I can crush in a day – hence the goal to read fewer books.
  • Continue to make diverse reading a priority.  Diversity is something that is important to me and I find that my reading list is overwhelmingly white unless I pay it specific attention.  So for the past few years I have paid attention and exceeded my goal of 33% “diverse” authors (writers of color, LGBTQ+, underrepresented religious groups, etc.).  I’d like to continue paying attention and making the effort to seek out writers of color and LGBTQ+ authors in 2018, although I am not going to set a particular number or percentage goal this year.

One Word

What word should guide me through 2018?  This is a question that has been nagging at me since last November, and it took a long time to find something.  There are quite a few words that I’ve considered, but have really jumped out as the right word for this year.

Breathe.  Be.  Calm.  Focus.  Soft.  Thrive.  Attention.

I briefly considered the word “leap.”  I’ve been needing to make a change in an area of my life (more on this if it happens) and have struggled with taking control and setting the steps in motion to address a situation that is not quite working for me.  I took a big step forward and was met with a positive reception, which scared me – a very silly thing, since I’m not committed to anything yet, and getting a good reaction should not be a frightening thing.  The thought occurred to me that “I’m just going to have to leap,” and then I considered that leap might be a good word for 2018.  But on reflection, it doesn’t feel quite right, because I might not leap.  I might make a smaller change or no change at all.  I simply haven’t decided yet, and I am still giving myself space for consideration.

Anyway, with leap out of the question, I found I kept coming back to the same word.  I’ve been listening on repeat to a Forlorn Strangers song, “Down in the Trenches,” the chorus of which goes:

When the thunder’s rolling in
And your heart is feeling thin,
Shed off your old skin
And begin, and begin, and begin.

It’s funny.  Usually a word either strikes me like a bolt from the blue (see: home) or whispers gently in my ear that the moment is right (see: gather).  This time, neither of those things happened, and I was a bit at a loss, until I realized that the word begin was making a quiet drumbeat in the background of my days.  Waiting, maybe, for me to come around to it rather than the other way.

I have been hoping that 2018 would be a year of new beginnings.  Beginning habits that will carry me through to a better life; beginning new projects and seeking out new trailheads; beginning the post-baby phase of our parenting lives as a family with (relatively) older children; beginning new opportunities that will help me to grow professionally and personally and in my community.  I feel as though I am standing at about a dozen starting lines.  More than that, I am craving new beginnings, more so even than I do on a typical New Year’s.  In 2018, it’s more important to me than ever to slough off old habits and selves and to begin anew.

So – I think that’s it.  My word for 2018 will be begin.  It’s been elusive up to this point, so I’m a little more hesitant to adopt it than I am when a word chooses me.  But it feels like the right word for starting fresh, and for a year that I hope will bring a few changes and adjustments and some new things.

Have you chosen a word for 2018?  What are your goals for the year?

Hello to all of my friends – who is enjoying a three-day weekend?  I have the day off today (although I have some work I need to do, so hopefully I am able to make that happen at some point) but Steve has to work.  So we are going about our business, mostly, except with two littles underfoot.  This was a rough weekend – more for poor Nugget than for the rest of us, unfortunately.  On Saturday, we had a fun play date planned with Peanut’s BFF and her mom at a local indoor play spot.  Unfortunately, Saturday morning is the busiest time of the week for the play spot, and Peanut ended up crying because she was overwhelmed, which led to her BFF crying because Peanut wouldn’t play.  Sigh.  BFF’s mom and I agreed that the next play date should be something a little more low-key.  Nugget had a fantastic time climbing in the two-story play mat area, kicking a soccer ball with Steve, and playing “pit crew” with a race car made out of play mats.  Unfortunately, it seems he also brought a souvenir home with him – in the form of a tummy bug.  On Sunday he greeted Steve by declaring he was going to climb out of his crib, actually climbing out of his crib, and then confessing that his tummy hurt.  And it was downhill from there.  Steve and I were both vomited on (him once, me twice) – keeping it real, folks – and poor Nugget was trying so hard to be perky all day but couldn’t keep anything down.  He seems to be feeling a little better today, but we’ll be having a cozy day to make sure of that.

  

Reading.  Pretty good reading week.  On Monday I finished Letters to a Young Muslim, which was thoughtful and lovely.  Over the next couple of days I finally finished up the second issue of Slightly Foxed Quarterly (I’m working my way through the back issues) and for the rest of the week, I’ve been slowly reading through The Republic of Imagination, Azar Nafisi’s exploration of “America in three books.”  Her writing, as with Reading Lolita in Tehran, is gorgeous – but I’m not loving this book quite as much.  Reading about her immigrant experience is fascinating, but I don’t know that I agree with her choices for three books that are representative of America (which is fine – she’s the author; she gets to choose) and I also felt like some of the connections were a bit tenuous.  Still a lovely reading experience, though.  I’ll probably finish today (I’ve been promising myself for three days now that I’d finish “today”) and next up, I think, will be Exit West, which I am reading because President Obama said it was good, and that is reason enough.

Watching.  Lots of watching this week, which I suppose accords with a slower reading week – but it all took place over the weekend.  On Friday night, Steve and I reinstituted “movie night” and watched the first episode of Victoria – and then proceeded to watch three more episodes over the course of the weekend.  I also spent most of Sunday watching movies with a sick little boy.  Since the patient gets to choose the movie/subject matter, we watched CarsCars Toons: Mater’s Tall Tales (four times), and The Empire Strikes Back.  I’m pretty screened out, but I see more TV in my future, at least today.  Anything to make the puppy feel better.

Listening.  Well, the New Year’s episode of The Home Hour was hilarious – Kirsten and Graham talking about fashion is really something.  (In 2018, “utility jumpsuits” will be a trend, which is “a jumpsuit that, like, you’d wear if you work for the telephone company, and it has pockets for your tape measure.”)  Also, am I the last person on earth to find out about the Forlorn Strangers?  I downloaded their album and can’t stop listening.

Moving.  Not.  Enough said.  Maybe if it warms up I’ll get out for a run?  I was hoping for a hike over the weekend, but with a sick toddler, that went by the wayside.  Poor little guy.

Blogging.  Sharing my 2018 goals on Wednesday (and as of press time, I still haven’t fixed on a word for the year) and the first part of my three-part 2017 reading retrospective on Friday.  Check back!

Loving.  I am really loving my music player on my iPhone lately.  I’m not a huge music person and usually choose to listen to a podcast or audiobook, but I have lately rediscovered the music player and I’m alternating between show tunes (The Book of Mormon), new folk/alternative (Forlorn Strangers – my genre of choice) and classical (Charlotte Church, Holst’s The Planets, etc.).  Of course it’s wreaking havoc on my podcast-and-audiobook progress, but I’m really enjoying having music in my ears again – something that I haven’t regularly had since law school.

Asking.  What are you reading this week?

Well, December was a busy month indeed, and our planned hike at Shenandoah National Park didn’t pan out when Skyline Drive closed due to snow, but I managed to get out on the trails anyway – in a slightly different way this month.  When, rather at the last minute, we decided to visit my parents between Christmas and New Year’s, my dad offered to take us all skiing at our local mountain, Jiminy Peak (in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts).  Steve ended up needing to work, but the rest of us bundled up to hit the slopes.

The kids had never been skiing before.  I would love to get them out on the slopes – we do have a few mountains around us, and there is some decent skiing in West Virginia in particular – but since Steve doesn’t ski, it’s been too much of a challenge and I have (I am ashamed to say) just not gone for it.  But the prospect was much less daunting with my parents’ help.  My dad is a ski instructor for a program called STRIDE, which teaches skiing to disabled children and adults, and he also taught me and my brother to ski when we were kids, so I jumped at his offer to give a lesson to my little ones.  He also was able to get them free rental equipment from the mountain, which was very nice indeed.

Our first (and, as it turned out, only) stop was the bunny slope, Jiminy Cricket.  We let the kids watch for a few minutes so they could see other littles their ages on skis and get over some of the fear, and then they took short runs between my dad’s legs and clinging to a ski pole.  This is exactly how I learned, so it was pretty cool to watch.  Full circle.

NUGGET HATED EVERY MINUTE.  I was shocked, because I really thought he would be the one who would have fun – he had been talking for days about going skiing – and his considerably more timid sister would be the one to flip out and go off the deep end.  They both surprised me.  Nugget went completely insane and screamed in the lodge for two hours (keepin’ it real, you guys, keepin’ it real) and Peanut ended up tearing up the slopes like a miniature Lindsey Vonn.

After a couple of runs with my dad up and down the “magic carpet,” she even ASKED TO GO ON THE CHAIR LIFT.  This is big stuff, you guys.  She was really quite nervous before getting out on the slopes, but she faced her fears and ended up having a fabulous time – hooray!  It helped that she had her trusted Grandad by her side.

As for my dad, he was beaming the whole time.  It meant so much to him to share skiing – which is one of his favorite things in the entire world – with his granddaughter.  We are definitely going to have to get her back on the slopes soon.

…So, was this really a hike?  Well, I’m choosing to call it one and say it counts.  I didn’t end up getting to ski – my dad and I were hoping to take a few runs together on the expert slopes while the kids warmed up in the lodge, but Nugget had gone so far off the rails that we all had to go home.  But I did a great deal of tramping around the bunny slope and the trails surrounding it.  Walking – check.  In the woods – check.  Wearing boots – check.  It’s a hike!  (Feel free to leave comments agreeing with me.)

And that concludes it!  Final hike of the year.  I know I’m not alone in getting intense cabin fever if I have to sit indoors, and I am so grateful that I’ve been able to get outside with friends and family year-round.

Did you get any outdoor time in last month?

A Bookish Christmas

Please forgive me, you guys.  I rarely do these “look what I got!!1!1!!” posts – rarely, maybe never? – but I was getting ready to clean up and put away everyone’s Christmas gifts and, well, I had such a spectacularly bookish Christmas that I can’t help but run here to share with the only people who truly understand me (you guys).

I mean, really:

After a year of restraining myself from book-buying, thanks to Project 24, all I really wanted for Christmas was BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS.  So that’s pretty much all I asked for – books and a few pieces of camera equipment I’ve been eyeing.  But really mostly books.  And my family and friends rallied spectacularly, as you can see.  Between Steve, my parents, my brother and my in-laws, I unwrapped:

  • Comic Poems (Everyman’s Pocket Poets – I am slowly building a collection);
  • Mango and Mimosa, by Suzanne St. Albans (Slightly Foxed, and out of print; I ordered this myself and then handed it off to Steve with instructions to give it to me for Christmas, and don’t tell me that’s cheating on Project 24, because la la la I can’t hear you);
  • The School at the Chalet, by Elinor Brent-Dyer;
  • The Fifth Queen, by Ford Madox Ford;
  • I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith (beautiful deluxe hardcover to replace my unsatisfactory movie tie-in paperback);
  • The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien (to match my Folio Society Silmarillion);
  • The Odyssey, by Homer (the new Emily Wilson translation!);
  • Devotions, by Mary Oliver (thanks, Mom!);
  • Deep Thinkers, by Janet Mann (gorgeous book about my beloved cetaceans from my brother and sister-in-law);
  • Obama, by Pete Souza (Steve said that Santa felt I might want some comfort reading);
  • The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien (to go with The Hobbit and The Silmarillion);
  • A five-book boxed set of out of print Folio Society reissues of Jeeves books (another one I ordered myself and handed to Steve to wrap after some short lamenting about Project 24, which I snapped out of quickly when my friend Susan told me, “Baby, this is Jeeves.  You do what you need to do.”);
  • Persuasion, by Jane Austen;
  • Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen;
  • Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen (Steve ordered my three favorites from the Folio Society, and please don’t @ me about Emma; it’s not in my top three and I AM OKAY WITH THAT);
  • Winnie-the-Pooh, by A.A. Milne; and
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, by J.K. Rowling (the illustrated edition, which is just stunning and a gorgeous addition to the HP shelf).

Looking at it all written out like that, I recognize this list is truly absurd.  But it had been a very long year of self-discipline in the book-buying realm, and the thought of cozying up with these books this winter is delicious indeed.

Did Santa bring you anything to read this year?

Busted!  No weekend highlight picture for you today, my friends.  This was such a low-key weekend that I actually didn’t take any pictures.  Can you believe it?  Well – I took one picture, of Rebecca mixing us up some old fashioneds, but she didn’t like the way her hair looked and I deleted it.  And that’s it!  But the takeaway from that should be – YES, Rebecca is here!  New friends: Rebecca is my very very very very bestest best friend in the world.  We met as college freshmen and pledge sisters and quickly became inseparable, and we have been friends ever since.  Rebecca was in my wedding and she is godmother to both of my children, and Peanut and I were in her wedding this fall.  But we haven’t lived in closer than D.C./Virginia Beach since college – other than one summer when she did some professional training in D.C. – and for long stretches of our friendship, we haven’t even lived on the same continent (Rebecca has worked for long stretches of time in Africa and the Middle East).  Anyway, she has MOVED TO NOVA and I am beyond excited.  She arrived on Saturday afternoon and our first order of business was to spend Sunday together.  Peanut and I swung by to see her new apartment and then we all hit Target together (she is in the moving phase where you go to Target A LOT and I have small children so I always need something there) and then spent the afternoon at my house.  It was as fabulous and amazing as I imagined it would be to have my best friend living in my local area and I can’t wait to see her all the time now.  The only negative was that I felt rotten all day.  I let myself get too hungry (Nugget ate my breakfast) and got a headache, then I ate too fast and got digestive pyrotechnics.  Fun stuff.  But – REBECCA IS HERE!

 

Reading.  I was actually hoping to read less this year (more on that when I talk about my 2018 goals in a week or so) but it seems I am already failing at that goal.  Early in the week I finished Origin, the new Dan Brown, which I started in 2017 – it’s always interesting to see what the first book of a year ends up being.  Then I tore through Period Piece: A Cambridge Childhood, by Gwen Raverat, and looooooooved it.  First five star book of the year!  I have a gorgeous Folio Society edition that Steve and the kids gave me for my birthday, which I had been saving, and it was the perfect antidote to a bitterly cold week.  I savored it over several days, but finally had to finish it – lucky for me, my library holds came in to distract me and I am now almost done with Letters to a Young Muslim, which is fascinating and illuminating.

Watching.  I am sorry to report that Steve and I finished up Season 2 of The Crown and are now bereft.  It was better than I was expecting – after hearing that the focus of the season would be on Phillip (all the eyerolls – did they not have any interesting women to write about? be better, Peter Morgan) I had really low expectations.  And while it was far from a perfect season of TV, the big budget and gorgeous settings and costumes do cover a multitude of sins.  Now we’re looking for the next show to get sucked into, and I think we’re going to make the very short leap over to Victoria, although I am also trying to convince Steve to give Alias Grace a chance.

Listening.  Podcasts, podcasts, podcasts.  I was saving all the new year’s episodes of my favorite podcasts for this week and I have been enjoying lots of chat about resolutions and fresh starts – one of my favorite topics.  But the best listen was the fiftieth episode Q&A of my favorite podcast, Tea or Books?, which I was hoarding and which was delightful – of course.

Moving.  I need to get back to the yoga and barre studios, but I have been waiting until the January crowds ease up.  It’s been kind of a rough week; I’ve been feeling a little off (not pregnant) and while a workout would probably actually make me feel better, it’s fallen by the wayside.  Plus with the bitter cold weather, a run is just not going to happen, unless I wend my way down to the treadmill at work, and I’m not sure I’m that desperate.

Blogging.  So sorry, y’all, but I have a bit of a braggy post coming on Wednesday.  I had an amazingly bookish Christmas and while I rarely post “look what I got!” blogs (although I enjoy reading them on others’ blogs) I just couldn’t resist showing you all the books I unwrapped – they are just so beautiful.  And then on Friday, I’ll share my December hike, which – well, it’s a bit of a stretch to call it a hike, but I’m going to make that stretch.  It was the best I could do last month, so go with it.

Loving.  On New Year’s Eve, Steve and I and the kids piled into the car and headed over to my high school BFF, Jenn’s, house, for a playdate.  The kids had fun palling around with Jenn’s daughter (who is a little older than Peanut), Steve watched football with Jenn’s husband, and Jenn and I chatted as fast as we could and caught up on all of the gossip.  (A mutual friend is mad at Jenn because she insulted James Oglethorpe, the founder of Georgia.)  Anyway, as it often does, our conversation turned to running and food, and Jenn mentioned that she had not been feeling herself and was planning a cleanse for January.  I said I didn’t want to do a cleanse, but I also was not feeling myself and could use an accountability buddy to help me make sure I was prioritizing my own well-being in addition to everything else I had going on.  Jenn and I immediately signed up to help each other stay on track with our goals, and have been exchanging almost daily text messages ever since.  I gently remind her to stay hydrated, and she browbeats me into taking five minutes for myself each day.  It’s lovely to be more connected – while we adore each other, we both tend to get busy and let communication slip – and to have a coach and cheerleader as we chase our personal and professional goals for 2018.

Asking.  What are you reading this week?