Thursday, March 31, 2016

March Book Review

Another month...and another set of books! This month I hit the jackpot...nearly every book I read, I really enjoyed! I even read one book in 2 sittings...one very late night and one early morning (I couldn't stop thinking about it!)

Again I am only including a short and sweet little blurb with my thoughts on the book, but I have linked them all to their Goodreads pages so you can go there to read all about them and see other people's reviews. While you are there...follow my account...so I can follow yours. I LOVE getting ideas for books from other people! My TBR (to be read) list is getting a little out of control :)


This month I listened to my very first audio book all the way through (I've tried others, but lost interest part way through) I gave this one a shot because it's been on my holds list at the library forever (in all formats) and this was the first to come available and because I was going to be painting our sun room and I knew I would need some entertainment....and wow...talk about entertainment! While this book is about mid-distance Olympic runner, Suzy Hamilton, there was very little about running in the book. It was a memoir of her life dealing with an undiagnosed mental illness and the things she did because of it. From the minute I started listening to this book I was hooked...and it only got better from there! Also, the narrator of the book was easy to listen to...which always helps with an audio book!  


I anxiously awaited the chance to read this book (another long hold at the library) and was beside myself excited when it became available. Last month I read the prequel to this book "Me Before You" (perhaps one of my favorites of all time) and I couldn't wait to get my hands (eyes) on this one. While I really enjoyed this book and the continuation of the story it wasn't quite as good as "Me Before You." I won't say I was disappointed, but I definitely didn't finish this book with the same feelings as I did the first one.


You guys...I LOVE Nicholas Sparks. I have read almost every one of his books. This book like all of his others did not disappoint. It had the typical love story in it (and who doesn't love that every once in awhile) but it also included a mystery and lots of suspense. I could not put this book down once I picked it up!


You know how I said I hit the jack-pot with books this month...well here I am again absolutely RAVING about another book. This book....WOW! This book took me on an emotional roller coaster that I couldn't convince myself to get off of. I couldn't stop thinking about this book and flew through the pages wanting so badly to figure out how it ended. The ending was a little less climactic than I had hoped...but when I think about it...it was really the only way for it to end. Of all of my books this month this is the one I would suggest reading! Do it...you won't regret it!


This was one of the cutest books I have ever read. The main character/narrator is a quirky man and his inner dialogue as well as the shocking things he said aloud had me laughing from start to finish. Again...another book I loved :)


Okay...I sound like a broken record...but I LOVE, LOVE, LOVED this book! This is the book I read in less than 24 hours. I could not put it down. I was instantly drawn in to the story of a woman who hit her head and lost her memories of the last 10 years of her life. While it was what I would call an easy read, the content definitely had me thinking. I definitely felt that the message of the book was a good one. 

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/4681859-good-to-a-fault

Alright, so I LOVED almost every book this month...except this one. Did I hate it? No...but I didn't LOVE it. It took me much longer to read this book than it did any of the others. I found myself saying "I better read tonight" and mostly because I wanted to finish this book so I could get on to the next. The story was GREAT and as I look back on it now I did enjoy it...I think it just moved a little slowly for me because of the other books I read this month.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16052012-flora-and-ulysses

Kids' books are my love language...I absolutely love reading them and I especially love sharing them with my 3rd graders. We chose this book for a novel study this year and it was an immediate hit with me and my kiddos! It was laugh out loud funny and the characters were so charming. Definitely a must for a read-aloud in your class...or a read to self at home :) 

That's it for this month...I'm this ---> <---- close to finishing another audio book, but I don't have any long runs, car rides, or house projects between now and April 1st so I will likely finish it in April...while painting the basement ;)

I hope you found some books for your TBR list and I am always up for suggestions...so comment below with your favorite books from this month...or any other for that matter :)

Happy Reading!


Monday, March 28, 2016

8 Months

And just like that...another month of marriage is in the books! Is it just me or is time on fast forward lately?

The unseasonably warm weather this past month kept us busy, busy, busy and I loved every minute of it! The last few days seem to be a little confused though...bring back the warm, non-snowy spring weather!

Without further ado...here is a look at our fun filled 8th month of marriage...
We both fulfilled our civic duty and attended our first ever caucus. I was in no way prepared for this. I volunteered to go with AJ thinking that it would take 15-20 minutes and that I would get BBQ afterwards.

Turns out I was wrong on both accounts. I should have done my caucus research before agreeing to this. We had to wait in line to "vote" (sign a sheet of paper)...which went very quickly...but then we found out that we couldn't leave because in the event of a "recount" our votes wouldn't count if we left. Well...we couldn't have that! At this point I knew we weren't going anywhere fast and AJ wouldn't let me get cake pops from Hilary Clinton's side so we ran across the street to get some Taco Bell to make sure we were fueled properly (and to avoid any hangry episodes) for the rest of the caucus.


Three hours later we were released...and our marriage was still in tact! There is no one else I would rather spend 3 hours sitting on bleachers and sweating to death with #Marriage
We got to help celebrate this sweet little girl's 3rd birthday! Seriously...what was life even like before this girl came along? Most likely pretty boring ;)


My favorite part was when she turned to her dad and said "Thank you for my birthday daddy" You guys...my cold little heart melted right on the spot. She may be ornery...but at times she is as sweet as they come.
After donuts and birthday candles Finley, Mommy, and Daddy headed out for a fun-filled afternoon and AJ and I got to take our first crack at babysitting this sweet little girl.



With warnings of a cranky baby who doesn't like to sleep, I may have been a little nervous going into it...


Luckily this sweet girl took it easy on us ;) Minus the crying session right before her bottle...which was totally my fault because I waited just a few minutes too long. I definitely won't do that again!
Then she was down for the count...and we had a little Snapchat fun with her! Seriously, are you guys as obsessed with these filters as I am?


All in all it was the perfect day! While I absolutely love spending time with Finley it was really nice to have an afternoon with Norah. Usually when they are both around Finley says to me "Put that baby down" ;) You better believe I didn't put her down once that afternoon...I got in lots of baby snuggles!


The following weekend we went to Finley's birthday party!






She had a bounce house, friends, and lots of food...but all this girl was interested in was the mud puddle in the driveway! The birthday girl gets what the birthday girl wants ;) Except for Aunt Heber joining her!

After surviving the birthday party...we headed to Mi Ranchito and treated ourselves to a margarita :)


Then Spring Break happened...and I was itching to knock yet another house project off the list!
This was our sun room (the picture is from the online listing, so that isn't our furniture... although I wouldn't mind a fun little art studio ;))

I started with the trim...turns out, painting trim is MUCH easier if you do it BEFORE you paint the walls...What can I say? I like to learn the hard way ;)


The trim made the original color
Blue HellTahitian Blue looks 10x better...but for the sake of my corneas I figured I still better paint the walls ;)


Here is our "in progress" after
Plans for a rug and a new ottoman are in the works!



Another thing we did in this room was frost the bottom of the windows using spray frosted glass. This allowed us to take all the blinds down and make the room brighter, while preserving some of our privacy!

This month we also discovered our new favorite place to eat....



Sushi Train!! Seriously...sushi on a train > all other sushi :)


4 years ago I was awkwardly introduced to this handsome fellow on St. Patrick's Day....



After our awkward introduction ("This is her"-Thanks Brian) we proceeded to face off in a states and capitals naming contest...we still can't agree who on who came out victorious...but if there is one thing that I think we can both agree on is that we were both in fact winners that day...who knew I would meet my future husband in a friends' front yard while pounding green beers? #Romantic
Our day/evening ended much earlier than that fated day 4 years ago...it's like we have gotten old or something?


However, this picture documents the fact that AJ is the one who has in fact gotten old. When we made it home that night I proceeded to have a cup of hot tea and read my book...that doesn't make me old at all ;)

We made our yearly trip to Red Lobster

we both love this place, but for some reason we have only been a few times and it's usually around the same time of the year. Creatures of habit I suppose?


I could live on their biscuits and Sangria...YUM!

We went to our first Sporting game of the season...


We had great seats!



and Sporting won! Doesn't get much better than that!

We also caught a glimpse of what our future children will look like...


I apologize for the nightmares you are bound to have after seeing this ;)

Finally to wrap up the month we had our 8th "monthly date"

Since I sort of dropped the ball on Valentine's Day I decided to make it up to AJ by taking charge of the planning for this date.

AJ was off work for Good Friday...and being the good guy that he is, he volunteered to take my car in to have the oil changed...seriously, I hit the jack-pot with this guy! Since he was going out of his way to do something to help me out I really wanted to do a little something extra to let him know how much I love him and appreciate him.


Our love language is puzzles :)

For our date night I got all the ingredients for fondue...which has been appropriately re-named "Fun-due"



After eating 2 pounds of cheese and #AllTheCarbs we moved on to desert!


While I am a fan of cheese fondue...I would say the chocolate wins my vote!


Our terrible monthly date selfie was almost ruined by my vanity...I kept complaining to AJ that I had Friday night "teacher tired" eyes and I looked rough....I have since then gotten over myself and decided that this is the perfect "terrible" selfie :)
Wednesday, March 23, 2016

If it doesn't give me joy...

Dearest Blog of Mine,

I know I have been away for awhile...and I apologize for that...but I needed a break. You see...I feel like I might have of set myself up for failure this year. I made all of these running related goals...and quickly realized that my heart wasn't 100% in it...and instead of amending my goals, I have been pushing myself and continuing to reach for these goals I am not even sure I really wanted to meet anymore. The more I kept pushing, the more I resented what I was doing...I might even venture to say that I had gotten to a place where...I didn't like running anymore.

In the last few months, running hasn't been giving me as much joy as it used to. When I first started to feel this way I forced it...fake it till you make it, right? Wrong...by forcing myself to do these things that weren't making me happy I found myself resenting it. 

A few weeks ago I had an epiphany...or I suppose you could just call it common sense ;) and I thought to myself...if something isn't giving me joy...then why am I doing it?

Over the last few years "racing" has given me such joy. I have enjoyed setting goals and working my tail off to reach them. Yet...this year...my goal of running a sub 1:40 half-marathon doesn't seem quite as enticing. Yea...I mean...it would be cool if I could run a sub 1:40...I would likely feel joy for a fleeting moment if I crossed that finish line with a PR....but the reality is...my heart isn't TRULY in it.

To reach a goal like that...to take 2 minutes off of my already impressive (at least to me) PR I would have to make even more sacrifices than I did last spring. Last spring those sacrifices didn't seem like sacrifices...I didn't mind turning down a night out with friends because I needed to be well rested for my long run...I didn't mind getting up at 5AM to run and strength train before work...I didn't mind counting every single calorie that went in and out of my body...and turning down those donuts in the lounge.

This year...not so much. It feels like a huge sacrifice...one I don't really want to make. When asked to choose between a good nights sleep and a night out with friends...I choose my friends...every.single.time. When it's between going out with my husband and indulging in a little too much food and wine and eating a healthy dinner at home...I choose my husband. When it comes to sleeping in on a Saturday morning and waking up and leisurely reading my book with a cup of tea...you bet I want to choose my book...I think you get the idea.

In this season of my life I want to choose my husband, my family, my friends...My heart is not quite there when it comes to making these sacrifices. At one time it was...but when these sacrifices have started to feeling like HUGE sacrifices and the process was not giving me joy...I just couldn't see any reason to continue.

So here I am...confessing to you...I don't want to race. I don't want to run with a certain time or PR in mind. Do I still want to run? Yes...of course...but do I want to run 6 days a week? Not really. Do I want to get up at 5AM to run at a pace that makes me want to throw up? Heck no...it's just not in me at the moment.

I am just over 2 weeks away from my first race of the Heartland 39.3 series...and I can't make you any promises. I will hopefully finish the race...but it may go down as my slowest half marathon to date. I will likely not place in the top 15 for the series like I did last year...and you know what? That's okay.

Finishing 3 half-marathons in 5 weeks (no matter how fast or slow I complete them) is still an accomplishment. An accomplishment that I will be proud of. I refuse to think any less of myself because I won't be walking away with a shiny new PR or placing in my age group. I refuse to be down on myself for making the right decision for me at this time. 

Instead, I am here letting you know...it's not you...it's me. I'm hoping that by taking this pressure off of myself, that the joy will return. The joy of talking about running, writing about running, reading about running...and well running in general ;)


                Yours truly,
Heather
Thursday, March 3, 2016

February Book Review

Last month I read 12 books...it was shocking really. My goal was 4 books a month and I honestly thought I would struggle to make that happen...

Apparently, I am a big book nerd now...I promise I am still managing to have a social life...I just watch FAR less TV than I used to ;)

February started off reaaaaallllly slow with a book that I had to force myself to read...I'm looking at you Fates and Furies...so instead of 12 books like I read in January, I "only" read 9 book this month ;)


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24612118-fates-and-furies

Like I mentioned, my month started off veerrryyy slooowwwllly with this book. I had been on the wait list for the whole month of January and was THRILLED that it finally became available in the ebook format. I started reading it on the treadmill...and then realized pretty quickly that it wasn't going to do the job. I use books on the treadmill to distract me and make time go quicker...well...this book...made time stand still. I quickly switched to another book for the treadmill and then made a deal with myself on this book...when I would sit down to read I would set a goal page to get to before I would give up for the day and allow myself a break from reading this book.

You may ask why I finished this book...and when I got to the final page I asked myself the same question. The only excuse I have is the rave reviews I had heard and all the promises that it "would get better" I have read books in the past that were slow to pull me in and ended with a bang...I was so worried that I was cutting myself short by not finishing this book.

As promised...it did get a bit better at the end...but not enough so that I didn't feel like I had wasted a whole boat-load of time reading this book. As embarrassing as it is to admit, I think the writing style and absurd vocabulary made it hard for me to fully comprehend what was going on at times. The story itself was decent...but took so many twists and turns and back and forths that I stopped caring if I understood what was going on.

Basically...read at your own risk :)

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20484545-it-was-me-all-along

This book...le-sigh. I laughed, I cried, I cheered, and overall I felt happy as I read the final words on last page. This heart-warming memoir about a girl who spent her whole life struggling with her weight and her relationship with food drew me in immediately...and made it hard to put the book down. I found myself wanting to discuss it with anyone and everyone who would listen...definitely a great book for a book club.

You should definitely read this book... like yesterday :)

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10032672-the-language-of-flowers

This was the book I read directly after "Fates and Furies" and honestly I wasn't sure I would ever love reading again (I am not dramatic at all, am I?) It took me a few days to finally pick this up...and once I did I couldn't put it down. This story follows a young girls complicated past turned complicated future while using flowers and their meanings to weave the tale. I absolutely LOVED this book!



https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22503269-for-the-right-reasons 

Yes...I read Sean Lowe's book. Why you ask? Well...I don't have any good excuses except for the fact that I have read all of the former bachelor/bachelorette's book and I was curious. It was decent...not necessarily as telling as I would have liked it to be...and while I have always liked Sean, I thought he came across slightly arrogant. You can only hear someone say "I'm not as perfect as everyone thinks" so many times without gagging ;) 

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15507958-me-before-you 

Hands down the best book I read this month...and quite possibly they best book I have read...ever. This book came highly recommended and I can see why everyone was so nuts over it! After I finished reading the book as I tried to explain it to AJ, I found myself breaking down in tears. I'm still in awe at how this book pulled me so far in. I became truly invested in the characters, Louisa and Will. If you haven't read this...please, please do! If you have read it...I'm curious to know what you think about it!


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25489399-love-in-lowercase

This book really surprised me...When I began reading it I was VERY skeptical that I would finish with anything nice to say. It's a very different style of writing than I am used to (it has been translated into many different language) however, the overall message was not lost in translation. While I never felt 100% invested in the all of the characters I did find myself snapping photos of many of the pages because the words were so powerful.

 The term "Love in Lowercase" refers to an small seemingly insignificant event triggering many other life-changing events to occur. In this story,introvert, Samuel's "love in lowercase" moment was a cat showing up on his doorstep. This event causes Samuel to divert from his predictable daily routine and put himself out there...which in turn causes him to meet people he might otherwise not have met. Like I mentioned, I never felt fully invested in any character other than Samuel, I was still able to find the charm in this book.



https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23848271-the-beautiful-bureaucrat

Umm...this book? I'm still not entirely sure how I felt about it. As I read I found myself not wanting to put the book down...this book was a beautiful mix of dystopian fiction/mystery thriller/w.t.f am I reading. I can't find the words to describe this book...but it's one I would definitely check out if I were you. If you have read it...please talk to me about it. I need to discuss it...I'm dying to hear how other people interpreted the underlying message in this story.


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25352435-the-winter-girl

Uhhh....I liked this book...I think? This is a dark and twisted tale about a family filled with secrets...very, very, dark secrets. I get really tired of hearing people compare books to Gone Girl...but this one...in my for me...made me feel the same weird feelings I had while reading Gone Girl...or any Gillian Flynn book for that matter. I'm surprised I didn't have nightmares while reading this book.


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11045709-when-she-woke

Another dark, twisting, politically undertoned type book...who am I? I like fluff beach reads...and this was definitely not one of those. In this story, Hannah, a woman whose life has been devoted to her family and church finds herself convicted of the murder of her unborn child. Hannah has her reasons for the abortion and is adamant about protecting the identity of the father. This book in a way feels much like "The Scarlet Letter" and I would say the book had a lot of potential and started out strong...but lost me about 3/4 of the way through...which after reading other reviews seems to be the popular opinion :)



*I didn't include a complete (or very good) description of each of these books, but I have linked the covers of each book to their Goodreads profile. If you don't have a Goodreads account...get one! Seriously! And if you do...add me! I'm always looking for friends err...or suggestions on good books to read