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Hellooooooooooo, Monday!  It’s going to be a busy week around here (what else is new?) so I’m trying to psych myself up for it.  I have five days’ worth of work to do and only three days in which to do it, because I’ve got a client visit on Monday and a very brief business trip on Thursday.  Part of me wishes I could fast-forward to next weekend, when I will hopefully be hiking at the National Arboretum and picking up the plants for Peanut’s and my container garden.  But let’s not get ahead of ourselves… there are five days to power through before then.

We had a pretty productive weekend, and you can see the results above!  I had big plans to get lots done around the house – grocery shopping, food prep, and then a marathon cleaning-out of the bedroom, which is the only room that is not completely unpacked at this point.  But I switched gears on Saturday morning when Steve decided (after seven months of my constant pestering) to clear a path to MY BOOKS and bring them up from the basement.  (Before you get all up in arms, yes, I am sure I could have made that happen for myself if I wanted to badly enough, and no I do not need a man to do anything for me.  But it turned out my books were not where I thought they were – well, some of them were, and those, I had already brought upstairs and shelved myself – and it took him less than an hour, when all was said and done, while it would have taken me the better part of a day or even longer.  So put that in your pipe and smoke it.)  Anyway, with that kind husbandly act, my weekend agenda veered away from cleaning out the bedroom, and straight to organizing and shelving my entire collection of books.  WAHOO!  It did take all weekend, since I had to squeeze the bookshelf project in between regular weekend chores, kid-wrangling, afternoon walks, and a run into the city to pick up my laptop (which I’d forgotten in my office, and which I needed to take to my client visit today).  But the time was totally worth it, and I’m completely enamored of the final result.  And as I said to Steve – there’s even room for more books.  (He rolled his eyes hard at that.)

  

Reading.  Sort of a slow reading week.  Metro woes continue, so my commute reading is a bit curtailed.  I finished Princess Elizabeth’s Spy on Monday – I love this series! How had I never gotten around to Maggie Hope before? – and then spent a few days picking at Sag Harbor, by Colson Whitehead.  It’s incredibly well-written (of course) and very funny and engaging, but I was just not in the right frame of mind, so after several evenings of mindlessly scrolling through my phone, I admitted that I just didn’t want to read it at the moment, and back to the library it went.  I expect I’ll check it out again later in the year, and read it then.  Book abandonment issues accepted, I turned to the book I really wanted to read – Emily Climbs, for part two of Naomi’s Reading Emily event.  (Blog post coming on Wednesday!)  I finished Emily Climbs on Sunday night and was as delighted with it as ever.  (I think it’s my favorite of the series.  Shhhhh, don’t tell Emily of New Moon or Emily’s Quest that I said that.)  Finally, I grabbed – and have just started – A Gentleman in Moscow, which is due back to the library on Wednesday, so I’d better get cracking.

Watching.  We’re almost caught up with Rock the Park now!  Just a few episodes to go.  I hear that Jack and Colton’s Great Falls episode recently aired, so I’m insisting we power through to get to it!  But we’ve only got a couple more days before we’ll be watching in real time, so we’ve started discussing what we’re going to watch next.  There’s another national parks show that looks like fun, but I think first we’re going to return to, and finish, Grantchester.

Listening.  You guys!  Exciting news!  I finished Middlemarch – all 35-plus hours of it!  A couple of 90-minute drives last week (two client visits – I feel like I’ve been out of the office more than I’ve been in) helped immensely.  I really, really enjoyed the audio production.  Juliet Stevenson’s narration is fabulous, and she brings George Eliot’s rich world to life like no other narrator likely could.  I loved reading the print version, and I’m sure I will return to that format, but the audio was such a joy.  And now I’m back to podcasts for a little while, but I’ve somehow managed to stay on top of my podcatcher, so I only have a few.  My client visits this week will yield me a clean podcatcher, no doubt, so I’ll have to decide what audiobook to “pick up” next.  I’m thinking of the Rachel McAdams narration of Anne of Green Gables, which I have in my Audible library…

Making.  Bookshelves.  Stocked.  With.  Books.  I actually spent a lot of time trying out different arrangements until I hit on something that was pleasing to the eye and showed off my books to their best advantage, since they deserve no less after patiently waiting for over a year in boxes.  I’m still so delighted with the final product, I can’t stop staring at my shelves.

Blogging.  Bookish week around here!  On Wednesday, as I teased above, I’ll have my March post on Emily Climbs, for the Emily readalong.  And on Friday, some thoughts about living without my books for more than a year, about shelf purges, and about curating my library to be exactly what I want.  I can’t promise coherent thought on that one, but there are lots of pretty library pictures in it.

Loving.  I’m a broken record, but the bookshelves have been the theme of the weekend.  I am loving, loving, being reunited with my books.  It really is like seeing old friends, who I’d missed so very much, show me their shining faces again.  Steve thinks I’m crazy, and it’s very possible that I am, but there’s nothing like a tidy bookshelf with all your favorites lined up just so.  It lifts a girl’s spirits like nothing else.

Asking.  What are you reading/making/watching/loving this week?

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Who’s up for a beach trip?  When we sat down to discuss logistics for our move from Buffalo to Washington, DC, I threw out an idea, not expecting it to come to much – what are the odds we can squeeze a vacation into this schedule?  Steve initially thought I was nuts, but here’s the thing – I was too busy closing out my cases to take any time off before my last day at my previous job, and I knew that starting a new job, I wouldn’t be able to take a vacation for awhile.  So if we wanted to get a vacation into our 2016, it pretty much had to happen during my two weeks of “funemployment” – the time we’d budgeted for our move.

The plan was: roll into NoVA, dump our stuff, and roll out to Virginia Beach immediately thereafter.  (We briefly considered Chincoteague, Smith Mountain Lake, and the Outer Banks, but VAB won out when my BFF, Rebecca, told me that her work schedule had changed and she would be in town after all on the week that we were looking to vacation.)  Rebecca lives in Virginia Beach, and we’d been wanting to visit her for years.  Destination chosen, we browbeat our movers into prioritizing our delivery so we could get to the beach as soon as possible.  After an incredibly stressful moving day, we piled into the car the very next morning and rolled out to the beach.

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And were we ever happy to get there!

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I actually hadn’t been to VAB since I was about Peanut’s age.  (Maybe younger?  My mother would know.)  I have vague memories of camping with my parents on the beach for a week, and of eating she crab soup.  And that’s about it.  But I’d stalked VAB on TripAdvisor enough to know that it was a good destination for little kids.

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Our first act upon arriving at Rebecca’s house was to throw on bathing suits, load our stuff in her beach cart, and walk to her local beach.  (Seriously, how lucky is Rebecca to have this beautiful waterfront just a few blocks away?)

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At first, Nugget wasn’t too sure about this.  But soon, Pisces that he is, he was splashing and playing harder than anyone else in the waves.

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Peanut, meanwhile, picked up right where she left off after our trip to the Outer Banks last year: total beach bum.  I was worried that she might have some of her old fear of the water, but I shouldn’t have been concerned at all.

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After a very stressful summer – between closing my files and finishing up at my old job, and then the move, I felt as though I’d been wound tighter than a Swiss watch for months – it felt fantastic to collapse into the sand and watch my babies running, playing and splashing with their aunt.  And to know that we had an entire week of beach fun ahead of us – annnnnd, exhale.

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More to come!

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Hello from Virginia! We are here on the other side and settling in as best we can without Internet or furniture. I’m writing this post on my phone – so it’s going to be brief! Our moving truck arrived in Buffalo on Thursday and we spent the day frantically finishing our packing and cleaning our apartment from top to bottom before rolling out ourselves on Friday morning. Since then it’s been a whirlwind of driving, figuring out logistics of all sorts, and making multiple Target runs (4 in 36 hours!) which hasn’t left me with much reading time.

No pictures this week, but conjure up that pretty Angela Thirkell, Wild Strawberries, because I’m still reading that. I’m enjoying it, but having a hard time squeezing it in. I’m also reading Elizabeth Jane Howard’s The Light Years, on my kindle, and Middlemarch on audio. I thought I would make a lot of progress on that last, during our long drive down here, but it turns out that Nugget is not a fan. 16-month-olds don’t like George Eliot – who knew? Not me.

Up next this week, I’ve got a reading round-up for July coming, and my August diverse kidlit pick. Check back!

What are you reading this week?

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Please Bear With Me

I know posts have been few and far between around here. Everyone’s fine, but I’m currently without a computer at home and will be for the next week. I’ll be back with lots of good stuff – pumpkin patch and Maine recaps, last month’s reads, and more – on Monday next. Thanks for bearing with me until then, and check out the archives in the meantime!  Cheers, my friends.

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Reading is my oldest and favorite hobby.  I literally can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t love to curl up with a good book.  Here are my reads for September, 2014

A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent (Lady Trent #1), by Marie Brennan – This was a fun fantasy set in an alternate Europe in an alternate Victorian age.  Lady Trent starts her life as Isabella, a girl of aristocratic background with a decidedly unfeminine interest in natural history and particularly in dragons (which are very, very real in this world).  Isabella marries Jacob Camherst, a wealthy second son of another aristocratic family, who shares her interest in dragons, and quickly persuades him to join an expedition to the Eastern European-esque nation of Vystrana for the purpose of studying the creatures, and to let her tag along.  Adventure ensues!  I really enjoyed this.  I’m finding myself reading and enjoying more fantasy than I usually do, lately, and A Natural History of Dragons was a good addition to the list.  Isabella (she’s not yet Lady Trent at any point in this book) does some remarkably boneheaded things that endanger her traveling companions on multiple occasions, but if you keep in mind that the character is, at her eldest, nineteen, and that as a memoirist of much more advanced age she realizes she was an idiot back then, there’s a good possibility for character growth as the series goes on.  I’m looking forward to the next installments.

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1), by Leigh Bardugo – I kept hearing about this trilogy (I’d say “new” trilogy, but all three books are out – I’m late to the party as usual) and finally got around to picking up the first book.  WOW, it was creative.  I don’t want to say much about the plot, for fear of giving things away, because it really was so much fun to read.  Set in an alternate version of Imperial Russia called Ravka (what is it with me and these fantasy novels set in alternate, but recognizable, European countries this month?) Shadow and Bone follows Alina Starkov, an orphan girl who discovers a tremendous untapped power within her.  Swept into the world of “the Grisha,” an elite force of powerful sorcerer types, Alina is at first seduced by their glittering world, but soon discovers that all is not as it seems.  This was fun, as I said.  Read it!

The Mommy Diet, by Alison Sweeney – This was a re-read for me, just a quick one, but I felt like it was a good time to remind myself of Ali’s great tips for staying in shape and taking care of yourself as a mom.  Ali is the host of the long-running NBC weight loss show, “The Biggest Loser,” and she’s also a mom of two.  Her advice is down-to-earth and practical – and realistic, which is key – but supported by the many wellness experts she’s met in her “Biggest Loser” hosting career.  I love that Ali provides specific advice for each trimester of pregnancy and then broken down into segments thereafter.  There have been a few times, when I was pregnant with Peanut and after she was born, that I just read the chapter that pertained to me at the time, but I wanted to remind myself of Ali’s entire program for mama wellness, so I sat down and read the book cover to cover again.  As always, I loved Ali’s realness and the attainability of her suggestions.  The Mommy Diet is a must-read for all moms, whether you’re in your first trimester with your first baby, or you’re a seasoned mom with a rambunctious preschooler like mine.

As you can see, September was a light month, thanks to the reading slump I blogged about last week – ugh.  It’s just been hard for me to find the time and motivation to sit down and focus on a book.  I’m sure I’ll get my groove back eventually, but for now I’m just going easy on the books, since forcing myself to read a long tome when I’m not feeling it is certainly not going to snap me out of the readerly doldrums anytime soon.  I did enjoy the books I read this month, when I made myself read them!  I’m hoping for a better October, but if it ends up being another month that’s light on the reading, heavy on the unpacking and parenting, that’s okay too.  To everything there is a season.

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Library Summer: Update 2

 

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It’s been awhile, and I owe you a Library Summer update.  I’m still plugging away at my library stack over here.  This is less of a hardship than it seemed early in the summer, because my own books still haven’t surfaced after the big move.  (I know where they all are – in boxes in the new home office.  But it will be awhile before I go through those boxes; I have to get my clothes unpacked first.)

Here’s the current checkout status:

Due back 9/12: Ten Years in the Tub: A Decade of Soaking in Great Books, by Nick Hornby (currently reading)

Due back 9/19: A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent, by Marie Brennan (completed, awaiting return)

Due back 9/24: Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1), by Leigh Bardugo (not yet started)

Due back 9/29: Packing for Mars: the Curious Science of Life in the Void, by Mary Roach (not yet started); Perfectly Miserable: Guilt, God and Real Estate in a Small Town, by Sarah Payne (currently reading)

On hold: The Golem and the Jinni, by Helene Wecker; The French House: An American Family, a Ruined ‘Maison,’ and the Village that Restored Them All, by Don Wallace

So, as you can see, a couple of things: (1) I’ve whittled the stack down to a much more manageable amount, but (2) it’s still going to occupy me all through September and probably into October.  After I get through the final two holds (both of which I had previously checked out, but which I had to return without reading because other people reserved them before I could get to them) I am going to try to read more from my own shelves.  I really do miss my own books.  Especially Fairacre.  I’ve been feeling a renewed need for Fairacre lately and it’s been bugging me that I haven’t had time for a visit.  I’d like to sit in Miss Read’s garden, or Miss Clare’s pretty kitchen, sipping tea and plotting how to avoid helping out at the next church event.  Alas, the towering stack of library books… not to mention the crushing work deadlines and the piles of still-packed boxes in every room in my house – have not permitted such indulgences.

So here’s the plan for the rest of September:

  • I really do need to get through Shadow and Bone.  I’m out of renewals.  I’ve been more in the mood for non-fiction this past week (and have been plugging away at a few fiction books, including The Visitors, which I finally finished – loved – and returned, and A Natural History of Dragons) but I need to discipline myself and read this one because (a) I want to, and (b) I’m out of renewals.
  • I can probably renew all the rest of these, so I’m just going to read in order of what I feel like – starting with Ten Years in the Tub, which I really want to read.
  • I may return Packing for Mars without reading it.  It’s short and looks interesting, and I’ve never read anything by Mary Roach, but I was more attracted by the picture of the astronaut on the cover than anything else.  (Since you asked, yes, I am actually an eight-year-old boy.)  But I just don’t know if I’m feeling it.  We’ll see.

That’s the plan.  It’s really no plan at all, other than “keep on keepin’ on” and “get to Shadow and Bone already!”  Having finished The Visitors was a huge weight off my mind – I mean that; it’s a hefty tome.  So now I do feel like I can exhale a bit, and I am looking forward to the rest of the books on my (finally!) dwindling list.

What are you reading lately?  Any library holds catastrophes?  I can commiserate.  

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A certain little miss pulled out her feeding tube.  (This is something she has been actively trying to do for seven weeks.)  Since she was doing reasonably well with her bottles, the nurses decided to leave it out and see how things went from there… and Peanut hasn’t looked back.  Apparently she’s decided she is a big girl now and she’s D-O-N-E with the NICU.  Which is to say, we’re looking at discharge as early as tomorrow (OMG, wouldn’t that be wonderful?) so hubby and I are currently running around like two chickens who thought they were prepared to get their heads cut off but suddenly realized that they had to install baby monitors and do one more load of laundry and hang pictures and organize a diaper drawer and and and… sorry, I’ve been in the NICU every day for going on two months and I seem to have misplaced my brain.  All this is just to tell you that I’m swamped today and I’ll be back to regularly scheduled bookish posting on Friday.  With… hoping against hope… a little baby in the house.  Wish me luck.

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