Can you guys believe it’s DECEMBER already? The year is nearly over and another month is officially behind us. I’m linking up with Emily @ Chatting at the Sky again to share the things I learned this month – such a fun way to look back at the previous month.
1. Sometimes losing isn’t really losing. Last month I learned that even when you have a great idea for a book and the writing is going okay, that you still might not finish a 50,000 word novella in 30 days and that THAT’S OKAY. I am only a little over 25,000 words in and it’s been a few days since I’ve pecked away at the poor thing, but I haven’t given up on the book at all, I’ve just been busy and I now have 25,000 more words than I would have had if I hadn’t done the challenge.
2. Urban dictionary is probably not an authoritative source on name etymology. But I still had a lot of fun reading the “definitions” of my name there last month when I was participating in one of Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshops.
3. I never did learn where all the missing socks go but I had a lot of fun making up my own ideas. If anyone knows the answer, please do share!
4. I learned that spraying Orange Clove scented counter top cleaner from Mrs. Meyers makes me a VERY happy momma! Seriously, that stuff smells amazing!
5. We had an amazing Thanksgiving with new friends and old this year and I learned a little bit more about one of the local private schools that we’ve been thinking about sending the kids to in a few years if we can swing it financially. I’m very thankful for all of the strong friendships that we have forged in Wisconsin that help make it feel like home.
6. Some lessons it seems like I learn constantly. This month I learned for the umpteenth time that you can’t hold judgement against a company, person, product or anything really forever. With much vehemence, we switched our cell phone provider this month, moving to Verizon despite swearing up and down that we’d never go to them because of old complaints only to be very pleasantly surprised by their pricing, customer service and choices. We’ve been very happy with the switch and were once again humbled and reminded that generalized opinions about something are rarely useful or accurate.
7. We learned some very interesting things about Gallifrey and the last Time War this month. Spoilers.
What did you learn last month?
I hope that all of my American readers are enjoying a fantastic Thanksgiving today – and a fantastic Thursday to all of my readers regardless of geographic location.
I anticipate spending the day trying to make good choices at the dessert table and enjoying the company of our good friends who have graciously invited us into their home for the day. And probably telling our children to stop climbing that / eat your vegetables / no you may not have all the pie – that kind of thing.
Anyway, aside from being Thanksgiving, it’s also time for Mama Kat’s Pretty Much World Famous Writer’s Workshop. This week her prompts were:
1.) 10 best things about being a kid.
2.) A Thanksgiving memory.
3.) A Happy Thanksgiving wish!
4.)You saw it on Pinterest…does it really work?
5.) Something you’re thankful for…might as well keep this going this month!
I’m a little “Thankful List”ed out, so I thought I’d write about something less festive and prompt #1 was calling to me.
Being a kid is totally the best. Here’s why…
- Kids don’t have to worry that much about managing their time wisely. If they want to spend five hours coloring or reading a book, nobody really cares. Their husband won’t come home at the end of the day and say, “What do you mean you’ve been playing barbies all day? Where’s my dinner?“
- Kids don’t care where the other sock is. They just put on a mismatched pair and move on with their lives, no introspection required.
- Nap time.
- A kid can wear plaid pants, a floral shirt, striped socks and light up sneakers and everyone will agree that it’s awesome. Also – all the clothes fit. You almost never worry about an article of kids’ clothing being true to size or whether it will be flattering. On kids, everything is flattering.
- Remember when you were a kid and you got to see your best friends at school every day? Then when your a tween / teen you get to see them all weekend, too. I am lucky if I can hang out with friends once a week usually (though I do strive for more often when possible) and even then I may have to spend the whole time feeding a small child cheerios and changing diapers.
- Shorter books. When I was a kid, I could finish five books in one day, no problem. These days it takes me at least two weeks to finish a book and I have to go out of my way to find guilt free reading time, which usually means staying up reading before bed.
- Let’s not forget the obvious – when you are a kid you have someone else who cooks for you, cleans for you, organizes your schedule for you, makes dentist and doctor appointments for you, buys all your clothes and toys and reads you a story at night. Can you even imagine having someone do all those things for you now?
- Kids fit in all sorts of small spaces – they almost never have to squeeze into a chair or duck below branches. They have an uncanny ability to squeeze themselves into cardboard boxes or laundry baskets while playing games and their limbs seem to move in impossible directions to accommodate this hobby.
- When you are a kid people praise and applaud you for all sorts of things like successfully not peeing your pants, eating even just one bite of your vegetables, growing taller, participating in a mandatory sporting event (whether you do well or not), or pronouncing a word funny. The stakes for praise are unbelievably low when you are a kid – anything you do is extraordinary.
- When you are a kid, your whole life is in front of you and anything is possible. You could be an astronaut, a ballroom dancer, a world famous reporter, an author, a teacher, a doctor, a time lord, a fire fighter, a princess, a ballerina, a super hero or a ninja. Heck, you could be ALL of those things at the same time. Anything is possible and when you are a kid you feel no pressure to put any kind of logical thinking or hard work behind those dreams. Yes – an adult can do any of those things, too, if they try hard enough and put in the time, but when you are a kid it’s not actually about achieving those things, it’s just about the dream and in those dreams there are no limits. No dreary realities to contend with.
That’s my list – what would be on yours? What do you miss about being a kid? Let me know in the comments section below and don’t forget to link up at Mama Kat’s if you are playing along.
Seriously guys, is someone messing with me? Did someone change the date on my computer (and cell phone, tablet, and page a day calender)? HOW is it the 4th week of November already? It should NOT be possible, but since the impossible seems to have happened once again, let’s talk about the books on my nightstand, linking up with the lovely ladies at 5 Minutes For Books yet again.
Last month I read 5 books :
a classic, a book on writing, a YA dystopian book, a short memoir on potty training and a romance novel by an author I adore
- Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger – Finished October 22, 2013 – I was on the fence about how many stars to give this one. I didn’t love it but I didn’t hate it. It made me think (a little bit) but also nothing really happens. In a nutshell, this is a book about two siblings who are so smart that they can barely function in normal society – they are just incapacitated by their own cleverness. 2/3rds of the book is literally the world’s longest lecture. Then there is a phone call and both Too Smart For Their Own Good characters seem to come momentarily to their senses and then it ends. It’s a short story, so it’s not a big time commitment and there were definitely interesting moments and thoughts. But it isn’t one I’d jump up and down to recommend.
- Short Story: From First Draft to Final Product by Michael Milton – Finished October 26, 2013 – I found this book to be very helpful. He has a lot of great tips and ideas and I love the concept of showing one of his stories through several stages of editing and giving examples of some great feedback that he got during the editing process. A useful, informative quick read. I made a lot of highlights to look back at later.
- Allegiant (Divergent #3) by Veronica Roth – Finished November 8, 2013 – I almost don’t even know what to say about this final book in the Divergent trilogy. It was fascinating, painful, daring, occasionally flawed, occasionally brilliant. A fitting end to her series all in all, though I imagine many readers take issue with a lot of Roth’s choices in this book, especially the ending, I do think it was the best ending for the story. My one real complaint is just that her decision to write from both Tris’s point of view and Four’s was not exceptionally executed. The two characters’ voices are not very distinct and it was easy to forget who was talking which made the first half of the book at least a little difficult to get lost in. All in all though, I did really enjoy it.
- Over My Dead Potty by Amy Sprenger – Finished November 10, 2013 – A nice short read with no shortage of laughs – great for anyone who is potty training, has potty trained or anticipates potty training a child. This is less a how to manual and more of a hilarious mini-memoir.
- Take Me, Cowboy by Jane Porter – Finished November 13, 2013 – I’ve come to trust Jane Porter to be one of those authors that will always deliver a good story and this book is no exception – it was a nice quick love story that definitely falls further into the line of “passionate romance novel” than most of the books that I read, but it was written so well that I didn’t mind one bit!
Right now I am reading two books:
This month my book club is reading Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. We’ll be discussing it in just two weeks and I’m only about 1/4 of the way through it according to my Kindle.
This book is intense and complex, with a plot and writing style that take a little getting used to. So for the first 25% of the book I couldn’t tell if I liked it or not and had a hard time committing to it, causing me to “cheat on it” with a lot of other books (read: the two books you see above after Allegiant and the book below that I’ll talk more about in a minute).
“What if you had the chance to live your life again and again, until you finally got it right?
During a snowstorm in England in 1910, a baby is born and dies before she can take her first breath. During a snowstorm in England in 1910, the same baby is born and lives to tell the tale.
What if there were second chances? And third chances? In fact an infinite number of chances to live your life? Would you eventually be able to save the world from its own inevitable destiny? And would you even want to?”
Somewhere around that 1/4 mark though the book started to settle into a rhythm or I got used to the rhythm it had been in all along. Either way, the book got better for me and I’m not longer quite so quick to put it down for a lighter read every night. Only some nights.
I’m also reading As You Do… by Richard Hammond, who you may know from Top Gear, a show that my husband adores and I occasionally enjoy watching with him, mostly for the antics of Richard Hammond. This book reads as though Hammond is actually standing next to you talking. His writing style is VERY similar to his talking style which I suppose could be a good thing or a bad thing but I consider it a good thing.
I’m not super far into the story but I am really enjoying it so far. It’s a collection of stories from his adventures on Top Gear and other ventures. I actually bought this book for my husband and he LOVED it so much that I felt inclined to read it myself. So far so good…
“The wry, honest and often hilarious chronicles of a very brave and clever TV presenter, Arctic explorer, and general drawer of the Short Straw..
He ranges widely over his life and times—a visit to Glastonbury with James May reminds of him of his early years of playing in a band and how and why he never quite made it as a rock star; the stunts and other perils that come his way like the Top Gear North Pole race (why is it Richard who is out in the howling elements in a dog sled while the others are in the heated cab of an all-terrain vehicle?), Africa where he falls in love with and repatriates a stray car, and the U.S. (once to be chased by rednecks in middle America, the other in pursuit of his hero Evel Knievel); his passion for cars, what he owns and why, and although he loves his wife why it is a toss-up whether he says hello to the wife or the cars first.
Balancing home and family with a crazy, peripatetic working life (or not, sometimes), the hamster is well and truly back on the wheel.”
So what’s next?
Some of the other books I’m considering reading before the end of the year are:
The Last Word by Lisa Lutz – the latest in a story about a zany family of private detectives – “Isabel Spellman is used to being followed, extorted, and questioned—all occupational hazards of working at her family’s firm, Spellman Investigations. Her little sister, Rae, once tailed Izzy for weeks on end to discover the identity of her boyfriend. Her mother, Olivia, once blackmailed Izzy with photographic evidence of Prom Night 1994. It seemed that the Spellmans would lay off after Izzy was fired for breaching client confidentiality, but then Izzy avenged her dismissal by staging a hostile takeover of the company. She should have known better than to think she could put such shenanigans behind her.”
Wish You Were Eyre by Heather Vogel Frederick – #6 in a series : “It’s a dream come true for Megan, who’s jet-setting to Paris for Fashion Week with Gigi. Meanwhile, back in Concord, Mrs. Wong decides to run for mayor, so Emma and Stewart team up to make her campaign a success. Jess and Cassidy are also hoping for victories, Jess in the a cappella finals with the MadriGals and Cassidy in the national hockey championships with her teammates. In the midst of it all, the girls—along with their Wyoming pen pals, who drop in for a visit over Spring Break—dive into Charlotte Bronte’s classic Jane Eyre. Some real life romance follows, as Becca may have found a Mr. Rochester of her own.”
Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle – After watching Sherlock on Netflix recently, I’m kind of obsessively looking forward to season 3 starting in the new year so it might be a good time to read some of his stories while I wait impatiently. My husband read a lot of them a year or two ago and I keep meaning to follow suit.
What’s on YOUR nightstand?
You can participate in What’s on Your Nightstand? in several ways. Choose what’s appealing to you:
- Take a picture or simply give a list of the stack of books that you are in the process of reading or planning to read (it might be on your nightstand, on a bookshelf, or like me, under your bed).
- Give short reviews of the book or books that you read this month.
- Tell about what you are reading and why. Did someone give it to you? Are you trying out a new genre at the recommendation of a friend (or website)? Did you stumble across a new author in a used bookstore?
- Write about your reading habits. When are you reading these books? Is one reserved for bedtime reading? Does one stay in your car to be read while you are waiting? Do you read just one book at a time?
However you choose to write about your nightstand this month, make sure you link up at 5 Minutes for Books!
One of Mama Kat’s writing prompts this week was “Something you’re thankful for.” Like any dweeby wife, my first thought of course was of my family – my amazing husband, my adorable intelligent funny kiddos, even my stupid slobbering dog who is occasionally pleasant to be around. I’m thankful for a roof over my head, enough heat and clean water to keep us comfortable, a refrigerator that stays stocked with enough food for us to eat, a healthy family (knock on wood) and you know, books. But the thing that really makes ALL of that possible and keeps me truly sane on even the most trying of days is that husband of mine.
The one who works
9 to 5 7 to 6 and rarely complains. The one who (tries) to remind me to eat healthy, be active, stretch once in a blue moon and take a deep breath before going off into the deep end of a mood swing. The one who cooks dinner when I’m too tired, keeps me in supply of books and coffee, wakes up early to help get the kids ready for school, makes a Tardis out of a cardboard box complete with working light on top, wrestles with the dog to help him burn energy, fixes things when they are broken, builds things when they are needed, takes out the trash, scolds my computer when it’s being naughty, and also frankly just rocks at being a husband, father and human being.
My husband is good at everything. It’s a fact. But he’s humble and doesn’t let it go to his head which is sweet of him. Don’t get me wrong – he’s human, probably. But I would be remiss if I didn’t brag every now and then about the fact that I won the husband lottery. I found a guy who understands how important communication, compromise, team work and awesomeness are to a healthy marriage. I found a guy who gets just as geekily excited about tv shows like Doctor Who and Sherlock, that awesome song I won’t shut up about or that cool board game as I do (Cards Against Humanity, anyone?). He only sometimes corrects my bad grammar and he doesn’t tease me absolutely relentlessly about my addiction to Project Runway / Top Model / The Next Singing Labradoodle Top Chef Model Competition (I would so watch that).
I am thankful for my husband who keeps all the pieces together. For being the peanut butter to my jelly. Today is his birthday and he’ll be no doubt helping get the kids to school, going to work like usual and then coming home to a rushed dinner before we go to a cub scout meeting and then put the kids to bed so they can get up at the crack of dawn and do it all over again. Probably without complaint. I’ll spoil him when I can with birthday gifts and praise – but in the meantime:Honey, Happy birthday – I love you so much! Love, Wifely
I’m avoiding responsibility for a minute to talk about myself – or rather, my name. One of the writing prompts at Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop this week was:
The meaning of your name…does it suit you?
So the short answer is yes. I guess. Jennifer is from a Cornish form of the Old Welsh name Gwenhwyfar (Guenevere) and it’s largely agreed that it means “fair one” or sometimes “fair, soft, white, etc.” basically it implies that I’m a pasty white girl I think, which (looks in mirror), yup that’s me. I really got a kick out of the definitions at Urban Dictionary though who had a LOT more to say about me than “white chick” – my favorite was the first one – it was so funny I had to turn it into a graphic just for this post (it’s up there at the top dudes).
My name was super popular in the 70′s and 80′s (I’m a 1982 baby, how bout you?) and as a result there were always at least eleventy billion other Jennifers in my class, which was never fun by the way. In Spanish class back in the elementary days, my teacher actually made me change my name for the purpose of class so that there wouldn’t be more than one Jennifer. Seriously. Like, “No, you aren’t Jennifer anymore, from now on you are Hosefa – deal with it!” So it’s no wonder that all us Jennifers out there were disinclined to name our own kids Jennifer, and the name declined from Top 10 spot for over a decade to #163 as of 2012. But then again, parents today seem to like to name their kids things like Blue Ivy and Popsicle Face, so we’ll see who’s more messed up ten years from now.
Oh right – other definitions of my name. Leave it to Urban Dictionary to have something more interesting to say, and much like Wikipedia – if it’s on Urban Dictionary it must be true, right? Sooo here are some things I didn’t know you should know about me based off my name:
Jennifer’s are an extremely rare beauty inside & out. They are loyal to friends & family & will stand by you as long as you will let them; very supportive.
Can’t argue with this one. I’m blushing a little…
Jennifer’s are naturally beautiful – making some green with envy of their natural features; so it is only fitting that they have keen interest in the nature around them & preserving natural beauty. They were born with it & are wired to love & care for things in their natural state as well as all creatures big and small.
If you say so dudes. I mean I won’t disagree because it’s written on the internet and thus must be true, but…
Jennifer’s will be there through the good times & the bumps along the way. Their friendship does not thin, it is not a fair-weather friendship. It is as real as the Jennifer you encounter. Strong & supportive; beautiful & timeless. Should you come across a Jennifer make them your best friend and hold onto them forever; I know I will.
I think someone is in love with Jennifer…
a tall girl, usually 5’6 or 5’7, usually white. scared of the world..
Well they are almost right. Also is 5’6 really considered tall? I mean I’m 5’2 so I guess it seems tall to me by comparison but I thought that was considered average, am I wrong?
Jennifer one of these most randomest, unique, crazy, amazing girl you will have ever meet. At first she may seem shy but when you get to know – my god is she the opposite of what you think regular people percieve to be.
This actually sounds pretty accurate. Did my friends write this? Anyone? Feel free to fess up!
There are like six pages of this – apparently people have a lot to say about Jennifers. Which I guess makes sense since there are SO MANY of us!
So what does your name mean? Do you think it suits you?
I have shared this picture a few times now, but when Anne @ Modern Mrs. Darcy talked about how she sometimes judges people by their bookshelves even though her own bookshelves couldn’t all stand up to such scrutiny (and many of us agreed that we do the same), she challenged us to share our own bookshelves on our blogs and talk about what books we read and how we store them.
So I wanted to open this post with my prettiest bookshelf photo because I’m hoping maybe you’ll judge me by THAT and not by what you’ll find below! And truthfully, there was a lot of careful cropping even in the photos below so you are only getting a half truth.
Full disclosure? I am a messy person. I have stacks of things in every room of the house where small children don’t linger and though I’m always trying to tackle those piles, oddly other things tend to take importance and the cutter, it lingers. It lingers in front of my beautiful bookshelves and sometimes those piles are piles of books (you’ll see some of that below) rendering them less than polite company worthy. So if I don’t invite you to peruse most of my bookshelves, you’ll know why.
This beautiful front facing bookshelf in our dining room is one exception – it holds some of the kids’ favorite picture books (no not all – you should see their bedrooms. They make mine look tidy by comparison!) and I love to show it off. It’s one of the first things my husband ever built for our home and I love it. We have an eclectic mix of classic children’s books and irreverent, but the general “theme” that I tend to shop by when it comes to picture books is simply beautiful / good pictures. Picture books, I think, should be judged by their covers.
These are some of the books in my office – LOTS of careful cropping here. This is where I keep cookbooks, some books I’ve already read and some books that I’m too lazy to carry upstairs. This is also where I keep all the family photo books that I’ve made (they are on the top shelf – all those super skinny books). This is the only bookshelf in my home with any real semblance of “organization” in that all the cookbooks are lumped together. After that it’s maybe sort of organized by size and that’s about it.
There is also a small stack of Jane Porter books on my desk that I won in a giveaway (yay!) at Chick Lit Is Not Dead. Love them. Funny story? I was looking for a book I wanted to loan a friend and could not find it anywhere. ANYWHERE! I had given up and moved on and a month later I decided to clean my desk and totally found the book buried under a pile of god knows what. So leaving books on my desk is clearly dangerous. Good luck Jane Porter!
Upstairs you would find even more books in my bedroom (if I ever let you in there).
On the nightstand in the cute little “house shelf” that hubby built are the books I’m currently planning to read soon:
As You Do by Richard Hammond (love him)
Black Heels to Tractor Wheels by Ree Drummond
The Last Word by Lisa Lutz
Bitter is the New Black by Jen Lancaster
The Constant Princess by Phillipa Gregory
Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde (not to be confused with that other book)
Wish You Were Eyre by Heather Vogel Frederick
Plus all the books on my kindle. There are a LOT of those!
This is actually a really good, concise sample of the books I read – you would get a good feel for my book tendencies here though the truth is I’ll gladly read almost anything. I gravitate towards celeb memoirs, funny books, YA books, historical fiction and fantasy book.
On my actual bookshelf is basically an ocean of unread books – aside from all the other ones I’ve shown you. In FRONT of that bookshelf is an embarrassing stack of books I’ve already read that I need to DO something with, like donate them or get another bookshelf or something.
Perhaps the truly embarrassing thing is that there are definitely more unread books in my home than books I’ve actually read. I tend to collect them way faster than I can read them. It’s a disease. A sickness. Chaos. And yet if you offered me a new book right now, I’d be giddy with excitement. Is there a bookaholic rehab center? Cause yeah…
My name is Jennifer and I’m a bookaholic.