Monday, December 31, 2018

No.202: My Latest Reads // December

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EDGE OF EXTINCTION #1: THE ARK PLAN by Laura Martin
My Rating: ★★

We read The Ark Plan for our homeschool read aloud.  It was described to me as "Jurassic World meets Planet of the Apes" and I think that's pretty accurate!  The first few chapters are slower, but quickly pick up.  And the end is a cliff hanger!  We have to order the second book soon.




INTO THE WILD by Jon Krakauer
My Rating: ★★★☆

An extended stay in the wilderness inevitably directs one’s attention outward as much as inward, and it is impossible to live off the land without developing both a subtle understanding of, and a strong emotional bond with, that land and all it holds. (84%)

You know the saying, It takes all kinds to make the world go round?  That's the phrase that kept coming to mind as I read Into the Wild.  Chris McCandless lived his life uniquely and while I would not necessarily make the same decisions, this book was able to somewhat explain his why. (As much as a third party can.)


CRIME SIGNALS: HOW TO SPOT A CRIMINAL BEFORE YOU BECOME A VICTIM by David Givens, Ph.D.
My Rating: ★★★☆

The most commonly experienced danger signs, however, are intangible feelings and suppositions that something is wrong. (2%)

Crime Signals is a good primer if you're new to criminology.  I was already familiar with much of the information, but the tips on child predators were particularly helpful.  This book was written about 10 years ago and I'd be interested to see what has changed in criminology since then.


NIGHT OF MIRACLES by Elizabeth Berg
My Rating: ★★★☆

When Lucille was a girl, a carnival came to town one summer and they had a ride called the Whirligig. You sat in some wooden contraption that jerked you here, there, and everywhere. One minute you’d be going forward, the next backward or sideways or tilted over so far you thought you might fall out. It was never still and you had no idea what might come next. That’s life. You’re born, and you get a ride on the Whirligig. (72%)

This book is the sequel to The Story of Arthur Truluv with a few of the same characters and a few new ones.  Definitely not as good as the first book, but a charming easy read.

TEN ARGUMENTS FOR DELETING YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS RIGHT NOW by Jaron Lanier
My Rating: ★★★☆

...What if listening to an inner voice or heeding a passion for ethics or beauty were to lead to more important work in the long term, even if it measured as less successful in the moment?  What if deeply reaching a small number of people matters more than reaching everybody with nothing? (p.68)

I'm on a bit of a tech criticism kick lately, but don't buy me a tin hat yet!  One of my goals for 2018 was to learn to think for myself again: stop scrolling, pull out the books and wrestle with new concepts.  I wanted to make my own conclusions without being swayed by what everyone else thought.  Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now reinforces those ideas.  Not a perfect book - it rambles on a bit and I didn't fully agree on a few things - but lots to still think about.  Solid three and a half stars.

A CHRISTMAS CAROL by Charles Dickens
My Rating: ★★★★☆

It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that while there is infection in disease and sorry, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good-humour. (p.71)

I've seen the cartoon versions of this story numerous times growing up, but have never read the original text!  At just over 100 pages, it's not an intimidating classic and the descriptions are much more vivid than the movies can portray.  A great fable to read in December.

THE MIRACLE OF FATHER KAPAUN: PRIEST, SOLDIER AND KOREAN WAR HERO by Roy Wenzl and Travis Heying
My Rating: ★★★★☆

The suffering of that first winter was overwhelming.  Many soldiers were in their teens and early twenties, not mature enough to deal with that level of misery.  Kapaun never yelled at the prisoners when in their weakness they let each other down; he led by example. (p.47)

I assigned this book to my sixth grader for school, but quickly realized that it was one I needed to read too!  Fr. Emil Kapaun was such an inspirational man and a great example for my boys.

WHAT ALICE FORGOT by Liane Moriarty
My Rating: ★★★★☆

She had always thought that exquisitely happy time at the beginning of her relationship with Nick was the ultimate, the feeling they'd always be trying to replicate, to get back, but now she realized that was wrong.  That was like comparing sparkling mineral water to French champagne.  Early love is exciting and exhilarating.  It's light and bubbly.  Anyone can love like that.  But love after three children, after a separation and a near-divorce, after you've hurt each other and forgiven each other, bored each other and surprised each other, after you've seen the worst and the best - well, that sort of love is ineffable.  It deserves its own word. (p.457)  

I'm probably one of the last people on Earth to read What Alice Forgot!  It found it easy to read, interesting and surprisingly thought-provoking.  I flew through it in days.

UNTIL I SAY GOOD-BYE: MY YEAR OF LIVING WITH JOY by Susan Spencer-Wendel
My Rating: ★★★☆☆

The big questions rose before me: Where do I want to go? How do I want to live? What is the central message of my life? (10%)

That is the secret I learn more of every day. Not to want things I cannot have or cannot do. Remove the want, and you remove the pain. (80%)

I chose Until I Say Good-Bye randomly from the library because the title sounded promising.  This memoir is about a mother diagnosed with ALS and the year she spent traveling and living with intention.  It was equal parts inspiring and just painfully raw and sad.

____________________________

MY (FINAL!) READING IN NUMBERS FOR 2018
Total Pages Read: 23,048
Books Read: 72
Fiction: 41  //  Non-Fiction: 31
Kindle Books: 43  //  Paper Books: 29
Original 2018 books "to-read" total on Goodreads: 443 // Current "to-read" total: 424

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

No.201: Intentions for Advent


the thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices...

I am SO ready for Advent this year.  As we enter the last days of 2018, I'm tired.  Weary from what's happening in our Church, from parenting struggles, from financial difficulties, from the everyday wear and tear of being in charge of so many moving parts.  Still, in the midst of it all, God is faithful.  He still shows up, showing His love for me, even when I'm feeling numb.

I want to record one example that just happened last week.  We recently received an L.L.Bean catalog in the mail and I looked enviously at all of the gorgeous fresh evergreen wreaths.  But bills need to be paid and presents need to be purchased, so I placed the catalog in recycling with the hope that maybe I could get one next year.  The very next day, we had an unexpected visitor: the small business owner that we hired last spring to install our front flower beds!  And what was she bringing to wish us a Merry Christmas?  An enormous, fresh evergreen wreath.  By my reaction, you would have thought she was holding a big check from Publisher's Clearing House!  I was so surprised and thrilled and overwhelmed, I probably scared her.  But what are the odds?  Something so small, something I didn't mention to anyone...and there it is, literally at my doorstep.

This Advent, I plan to slow down as much as possible, to ponder Christ and what it means to follow Him, and prepare for His birth in the simplest of ways.  I don't have fancy reading plans or devotionals or journals this year.  I just have open hands and an eager heart, letting Him lead me where He wants me.  Even in the midst of this hard season, God is here with me.  What a comforting thought. 

Wishing you a peaceful Advent season. XO

Monday, December 3, 2018

No.200: New Habits, Little by Little: Cooking at Home (November 2018)


Birthdays, an anniversary, holidays and broken appliances galore - November really kept us on our toes this year! 

Week 70 (cont.): 
Thursday, November 1: Mark had a work event so we made english muffin pizzas and salad
Friday, November 2: baked chicken breast with an oregano cream sauce and green beans

Week 71:
Saturday, November 3: white chicken lasagna soup
Sunday, November 4: leftover soup
Monday, November 5: the boys had Little Caesars between activities, the littles and I just had cereal at home
Tuesday, November 6: Election Day! tacos
Wednesday, November 7: eggs with biscuits and gravy breakfast casserole
Thursday, November 8: garlic-parmesan sausage and veggies
Friday, November 9: frozen pizzas

Week 72:
Saturday, November 10: Marine Corps Birthday! leftovers and cake
Sunday, November 11: Refrigerator Clean-out Night
Monday, November 12: the boys ate out between activities, the littles and I had popcorn and leftover pumpkin crumb cake (#sohealthy)
Tuesday, November 13: one skillet cheesy chili mac and salad
Wednesday, November 14: hearty beef stew
Thursday, November 15: chicken pot pie soup with homemade biscuits
Friday, November 16: M's Birthday and no power! out for burgers and cake

Week 73:
Saturday, November 17: frozen taquitos and chicken fingers (since we had to throw everything in the fridge away)
Sunday, November 18: we ate random things from the pantry after discovering that our cooktop isn't working (whyyyyy??)
Monday, November 19: Little Caesars pizza (cooktop still broken and we still haven't gone grocery shopping since the power outage)
Tuesday, November 20: porkchops and roasted vegetables
Wednesday, November 21: brisket tacos
Thursday, November 22: Thanksgiving! turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn, squash, mac & cheese, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, rolls, and lots and lots of pies
Friday, November 23: Early anniversary date! we had Mexican - nachos supreme and burritos

Week 74:
Saturday, November 24: post-holiday laziness at its best - we just ate random things from the pantry
Sunday, November 25: leftover brisket and roasted veggies
Monday, November 26: breakfast for dinner - crepes and apple slices
Tuesday, November 27: Refrigerator Clean-Out Night
Wednesday, November 28: garlic-parmesan sausage and veggies
Thursday, November 29: Mark worked late, so we had random things for the freezer and pantry
Friday, November 30: J's birthday! tacos

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