Books: 2016

I will soon be removing my page on my blog that lists the books I read in 2016. I wanted to share them here in case anyone needed some good recommendations for their own reading list!

 

1. Come Away With Me by Karma Brown - This book was absolutely amazing and made me cry at the end (in a good way) when I realized what was going on. Definitely one of my favorites this year. I read it a couple of months after my miscarriage and it was the right time.

2. Eve by William Paul Young – A very interesting way of explaining the story of Adam and Eve.

3. The Daylight Marriage by Heidi Pitlor – This was good but not for the faint-hearted…kind of creepy…

4. The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood - Creepy, but in true Atwood fashion…if you have read The Handmaid’s Tale, then you know what I mean.

5. The Balance Project by Susie Orman Schnall – Good story that has something we can all learn from: how to balance our lives.

6. The Other Daughter by Lauren Willig - This was a book club read that had an unlikely love story.

7. Travel Career Development - You should only read this entire book if you are taking a travel planning course like I did. 

8. The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker - Not a bad book but not at all what I expected.

9. The Forgotten Room by Karen White, Beatriz Williams, and Lauren Willig - I really loved this book and how it tied in one room with three different women in three different time periods….very cool how it all comes together.

10. The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert - A long but interesting read. I liked it, but I couldn’t really tell you why.

11. The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes - For all those needing a self-confidence boost…a must read.

12. The Life Intended by Kristen Harme – A sweet love story though it doesn’t start out feeling that way.

13. The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey – Another sci-fi book about apocalyptic events…

14. Little Bee by Chris Cleave - Wow. An amazing read, especially in light of the current refugee situation…really gives you something to think about.

15. Rhythmic Medicine by Janalea Hoffman - A book I read for “work” that had some interesting insights into how to use music to treat physical conditions like high blood pressure, etc.

16. My Very Best Friend by Cathy Lamb - A story about lifelong friendship and standing up for the people you love.

17. The Lemongrass Hope by Amy Impellizzeri - One of my favorite books of the year….a story about where you would be had you made a different choice and what you would do if you had the chance to go back and make a different choice.

18. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty - I know the “mommy wars” all too well….interesting, but serious story about parenting and what goes on in other peoples’ homes.

19. Lies and Other Acts of Love by Kristy Woodson Harvey - Another one of my favorites this year…all about the different kinds of love and how none of it is strictly black and white…sometimes the things we do are done out of love, even if they may seem “wrong” to the outside world.

20. The Arrangement by Ashley Warlick – A story about a woman finding herself…and finding love with a man other than the one she married. 

21. Where’d Ya Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple - A quirky story about a mom pushed to her limits…sound familiar?

22. Room by Emma Donoghue - The perspective this book is written in is amazing. I don’t know that I could have managed to write something from the perspective of a child and gotten it right. Wow. All the things we know because of the world around us is amazing when you think about this child who lived much of his formative years in a form of locked seclusion.

23. Grey by E.L. James - Fifty Shades of Grey from Grey’s perspective…yeah….don’t judge.

24. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah – Another book that makes you think. This is a book that seems to be on all the book lists and I can see why. So many elements to this…including the idea that none of us are all good or all bad…we are human and we make decisions in the best way we know how.

25. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey - I had seen the movie a few years prior but had never read the book. I’m so glad mental health care has improved since this book was written!

26. Follow You Home by Mark Edwards - A really creepy story about a young married couple traveling around Europe only to find something creepy in the woods of Romania that follows them home to England.

27. ’74 and Sunny by A. J. Benza - I wish I could have liked this story. I typically don’t like memoirs that much, so maybe that was the problem.

28. The Couple Next Door by Shari Lepena - A twisty story about betrayal, a missing baby, and the fact that we really don’t know what goes on inside people’s minds.

29. In a Dark, Dark Woods by Ruth Ware - Another creepy story that was well written…it all unfolds at the end and it’s brilliant. I can’t wait to read more by this author.

30. The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon – Yet another creepy story with a hint of the supernatural. This is another author I have on my list to read more of.

31. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot – Not a book I would normally read but my book club chose it this year, so I did. It’s crazy what they can do with genes and I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that everyone’s cells are stored somewhere in the world.

32. Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris - Creepy thriller about a controlling husband and a woman trying to break free.

33. The Girl Before by Rena Olsen - A story that begins with the reader not knowing what’s really going on, but eventually the story unfolds…very well-written and an intriguing storyline.

34. A Writer’s Book of Days: A Spirited Companion and Lively Muse for the Writing Life by Judy Reeves – I read this one month at a time as I wrote using the writing prompts in the book.

35. Dad Is Fat by Jim Gaffigan - This is a great book if you ever need something light and hilarious.

36. The Choices We Make by Karma Brown - Another great book from Karma Brown that has you thinking about ethical dilemmas.

37. The Vanishing Year by Kate Moretti - Another twisty book that leaves you wondering who you can really trust.

38. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson - This was a good book to end the year with, as it was hilarious (laugh-out-loud hilarious at some parts) at the right time of year.

What were your favorite books of the year?

Quotes from 2016

In 2016, I had a daily calendar with Zen quotes. As the year went on, I kept the ones that really spoke to me, so I thought I would share them here, in no particular order…

 

“Being aware of your breath forces you into the present moment – the key to all inner transformation. Whenever you are conscious of the breath, you are absolutely present. You may also notice that you cannot think and be aware of your breathing. Conscious breathing stops your mind.” Eckhart Tolle

“The biggest cause of suffering is being here, and wishing you were somewhere else.” Ajahn Brahm

“Confidence, like art, never comes from having all the answers; it comes from being open to all the questions.” Earl Grey Stevens

“The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The gift is yours – it is an amazing journey – and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day our life really begins.” Bob Moawad

“Your sadness, your fear, your loneliness, even your despair is so fragile, friend. It can break open at an moment. A single note in a piece of music can do it. A kind glance from a stranger. The feeling of the spring breeze on your face. A reflection of a bird in flight. In any moment, your sorrow can shatter into nothingness; it has no more reality than that, no more substance than a shadow.” Jeff Foster

“Who are you in the silence between your thoughts?” Gil Fronsdal

“Go all the way with it. Do not back off. For once, go all the goddamn way with what matters.” Ernest Hemingway

“Stop measuring days by degree of productivity and start experiencing them by degree of presence.” Alan Watts

“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.” Louise Erdrich

“It is important to acknowledge our feelings – all of our feelings. Our feelings are the pathways to our souls and need to be acknowledged and dealt with – not just the “good” ones - all of our feelings. Of course, there are some we’d rather not have or own and when we do, they will take us into our deeper selves, where we have so much to learn.”

“Sorry is how we learn to love. Your heart isn’t breaking. It hurts because it’s getting larger. The larger it gets, the more love it holds.” Rita Mae Brown

“Loneliness is the human condition. Cultivate it. The way it tunnels into you allows your soul room to grow.” Janet Fitch

“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift.” Mary Oliver

“Maybe happiness is this: not feeling like you should be elsewhere, doing something else, being someone else.” Isaac Asimov

“Follow your inner moonlight; don’t hide the madness.” Allen Ginsberg

“Just let go. Let go of how you thought your life should be, and embrace the life that is trying to work its way into your consciousness.” Caroline Myss

 

 

 

2017 Intentions

It’s so hard to believe that another year has literally just flown by. 2016 has been a difficult transition year, so I really hope that 2017 is better. This is what I have planned for the year:

Travel:

  • January Wellness Weekend
  • Weekend away with the kids
  • Anniversary weekend away
  • Family vacation (We don’t really know where this will be yet, thought we’ve tossed out several ideas that include Florida, Myrtle beach, northeastern states, Niagara Falls, somewhere in Canada, some European destination, etc.)

Reading:

  • Read 30 books. (0/30)
  • Read 2 “self-help” books or books about fostering creativity. (0/2)

Writing:

  • Daily Q&A – This is a book I have that has a question each day that I have to answer.
  • Post in my blog at least 5 times a month or 60 blog posts. I have neglected my blog for quite a bit of time and I would like to get into posting a little more regularly. (0/60)
  • Work through the Right to Write. (43 chapters) (0/43)
  • 500 Writing Prompts – 3 writing prompts a month (36 total) (0/36)
  • Work through Writing Better Lyrics. (2 chapters per month, 24 total) (0/24)wpid-wp-1483131403684.jpg

I have several other books I am looking forward to reading/writing with, but I am really trying to make this list of goals realistic and possible, so I will re-evaluate in a month or two and see if I can possibly add something.

Spiritual:

  • Practice and complete a daily devotional. I received Journey to the Heart: Daily Meditations on the Path to Freeing Your Soul by Melody Beattie, so I will be using this one. In fact, I have already started it.

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Music:

  • Create one new Singalong packet for my Singalongs (for work). (0/1)
  • Learn at least 3 new Classical pieces on the piano. (0/3)
  • Work on learning at least 3 of the modes. (0/3)
  • Listen to 10 classical music pieces. I have a new book about listening to Beethoven’s piano music that I intend to use for this purpose. (0/10)
  • Earn at least 20 CMTE’s (continuing education). (0/20)

Home and Organization:

  • Complete Bonus Room Transformation.
  • Fix the other part of the deck and stain it.
  • Wash windows and glass doors in the house.
  • Go through and re-organize the pantry.

Family:

  • Inflatable Fun Factory
  • CMoe
  • Game Night
  • Movie Night
  • Gatti Town or Chuck E. Cheese
  • Make a home video with the kids.
  • Paint with the kids.

Service:

  • Provide at least 3 meals at the Ronald McDonald house. (0/3)
  • Volunteer at the soup kitchen at least once.

Physical/Health:

  • Run the 10-mile River Race in May.
  • Complete at least 5 fitness challenges. Doing these kinds of challenges helps me to keep carving out time to do something physical and it gives me a chance to focus on some areas that I feel like I need to work on. (0/5)
  • Drink at least 64 ounces of water on most days. I need to get back into the habit of drinking more water.
  • Do something active at least 3 times a week. This can be running, riding the exercise bike, walking, or strength training, or whatever.

Miscellaneous:

  • Eat at 8 new restaurants on our list of places to try. (0/8)
  • I plan to cook at least 10 international meals this year. I typically like to focus on one country a month, but based on my experience last year, I think it might be a good idea to recognize the fact that some months might be busier than others. (0/10)
  • Take at least one day to “retreat” and work on my writing, music, etc.
  • Do something nice for myself at least 20 times. This could mean taking a bath, spending time playing the piano just for fun, buying a piece of clothing that I want, reading a book by the fire even when I still have work to do, or anything that contributes to the idea of doing something nice for myself. (0/20)

 

Last year, I made it a goal to also recognize when something became too much or was no longer meeting the need a goal was intended to meet and allow myself to cross it off the list, so I plan to keep going with that idea in 2017. I am slowly getting better about not freaking out every time I don’t finish something completely. On the other hand, I could always add something, too!

Another big area that I think I desperately need to work on in 2017 is continuing to surround myself with positive people who make me feel good about myself. I have realized recently how important it is to have appropriate support in order to be the best you can be, and this is an area of my life that kind of needs an overhaul. I can feel myself already beginning to set boundaries with the people in my life who don’t do this for me. It’s really nothing personal; it’s just that I want a more fulfilling and satisfying life and I deserve that; we all do. I’m hoping that making this kind of change will continue to help me to increase confidence in myself and help me to be more comfortable with who I am.

Along with surrounding myself with people who are supportive and encouraging, I also need to spend more time in environments that are positive for me and doing things that foster creativity and make me feel fulfilled. This is all part of a larger plan to take better care of myself.


End of the Year Summary

It’s hard to believe it’s time to look back over the year and review everything we did. It seems like just yesterday I was writing these goals!

Travel: We met all of these goals.

  • Winter Wellness weekend in January
  • Train ride in French Lick in February or March (this is part of Felix’s Christmas gift from Santa)
  • Mumford and Sons concert in April
  • Weekend away with the kids – We spent Labor Day weekend camping in Lincoln City.
  • Anniversary weekend away – We actually got to spend an entire week in Punta Cana.
  • Family vacation - We spent 2 weeks in California, exploring San Francisco, Yosemite, and Santa Cruz.

Reading:

  • Read 24 books – I read 38 books this year!
  • Read 2 music books – I only read 1 music book but I have started the second music book and plan to finish that this year.

Writing:

  • Daily Q&A – I kept up with this throughout the year.
  • Writer’s Book of Days – Most months I completed all of the prompts but I did have to skip a few here or there, but it was ok.
  • 500 Writing Prompts – I was also able to keep up with this.

Spiritual:

  • Do a daily devotional written for Catholic moms - Unfortunately, I felt like the focus of the devotional I was using did not coincide with my goals for myself this year. I actually found it to be counterproductive, so I stopped using it. I have chosen a different one to try in 2017, so hopefully I have better luck this coming year.

Music:

  • Create one new Singalong packet for my Singalongs (for work).
  • Learn at least 6 new popular songs on the guitar or piano.
  • Learn at least 3 new Classical pieces on the piano.
  • Start transcribing my original songs on notation software. – This might be the most exciting part of my year. I am collaborating with a lead guitarist and we are slowly, but surely, recording my original music, as well as working on some covers.
  • Find at least 5 new songs to use in music therapy sessions.
  • Work through Songwriting Without Boundaries - I got about halfway through the third challenge (there are four of them) and I felt like I had a hard time focusing. I put it up for awhile and plan to come back to it to finish it all at a later date.
  • Listen to 10 classical music pieces. - I did not do this this year but I have plans to actually do it next year.

Home and Organization:

  • Complete Bonus Room Transformation - We have gotten rid of more things this year and moved most of the toys we plan to move.
  • Go through Gmail account. – I started off doing really well with this and then just never got to finish it.
  • Go through and organize computer files. – I never got around to this.

Family:

  • Inflatable Fun Factory – We went to a different inflatables place for a birthday party.
  • CMoe – We went to CMoe for a children’s concert a few months ago.
  • Putt Putt – We played putt putt in Tennessee last January.
  • Game Night – We have played lots of games!
  • Movie Night – We have had several nights throughout the year.
  • Gatti Town or Chuck E. Cheese – Eric took the kids to Gatti Town a week or so ago.

Financial:

I want to continue to save money and to keep our spending in check.

  • Save a specific amount in Travel and Savings Accounts combined. – We saved money this year in both of our accounts.
  • Keep track of “extras” earned from apps, credit cards, rewards, etc. – I did this the majority of the time.
  • Keep up with a budget as best we can. – I kind of let this fall by the wayside over the last few months.

Service:

  • Do at least 6 service projects that may include volunteering, providing a meal at the local Ronald McDonald house, donating items, etc. - We didn’t do as many of these as I had hoped but we did get to provide one meal at the Ronald McDonald house and we donated some of our things.

Miscellaneous:

  • Write a new 101 in 1,001 list. The current one expires in May.
  • I have started a running list of restaurants I want to try, and I want to eat at 12 of them this year. – We only got around to eating at 8 new places.
  • I plan to cook 12 international meals this year or one international meal a month. – I didn’t get to focus on all the countries I wanted to focus on, but we did make 12 international meals.
  • Finish travel school. I finished in the spring and started working as a home-based agent in April.

So I didn’t get everything completed that I had planned this year, but one never knows where life will lead. What I am really focusing on is the fact that when I found myself only going through the motions and not really experiencing what I wanted from a specific task, I was able to toss it aside for now, and I made edits as needed. I was focusing on balance, and while I know I still have a ways to go, I have come much closer to finding the balance I need in my life.

2016

Here is the obligatory end-of-the-year quiz I do every year…

1. What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before? Visited Punta Cana, traveled to San Francisco, started to let others hear my original music
2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I actually did a lot of my resolutions and have more intentions for 2017.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Yes - I have two cousins who had babies, as well as most of the people who had miscarriages within the same time frame as I did last year. It was actually really difficult for me.
4. Did anyone close to you die? No
5. What countries did you visit? Dominican Republic
6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016? More confidence in myself, contentment, to feel appreciated

7. What date(s) from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? I don’t have exact dates for all of these, but these were important events this year:

  • Winter Wellness Weekend in January
  • Finishing travel school in March
  • Becoming a home-based travel agent in April
  • Mumford and Sons concert in April
  • Camping in Brown County in May
  • The 10-mile River Run in May
  • May 17 – when I ran into an acquaintance who would later become a really good friend and music partner
  • May 19 – what would have been our due date
  • August 26 – We bought a minivan.
  • Labor Day weekend spent camping in Lincoln City – this was also the weekend we found out we were pregnant last year
  • Lumineers concert in September
  • October 1 – Ran the Evansville Half Marathon
  • Week of the fall festival – the anniversary of our ultrasound, doctor’s appointment, etc.
  • October 8/9 – the anniversary of my miscarriage
  • First weekend in November – My journal retreat in Ferdinand
  • October 19 – October 26 – a week spent in Punta Cana

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Recording my songs
9. What was your biggest failure? I don’t think I really had a failure this year, but there were lots of disappointments.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Nothing too serious…Just overwhelming sadness at times
11. What was the best thing you bought? The mini-van

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? My close friends who have been supportive during the difficult times, the women in my journal circle

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? The people close to me who are supposed to be my support but aren’t because they can’t see past what they want long enough to notice what I might need.
14. Where did most of your money go? San Francisco trip and our dog’s heat stroke fiasco
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Working on music and recording my original songs
16. What song(s) will always remind you of 2016? The original songs I recorded (Wanted, Strangers, Don’t Walk Away), Thompkins Square Park
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? The same, though I was hoping I would feel better
ii. thinner or fatter? The same

iii. richer or poorer? Probably poorer
18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Feeling good about myself
19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Worrying about what other people think
20. How did you spend Christmas? We spent Christmas Eve with my family and my mom’s family. We spent Christmas Day as a family and then with my husband’s family later that evening.
21. What was your favorite TV program? The Walking Dead, Modern Family, This Is Us
22. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? No 

23. What was the best book you read? Come Away With Me by Karma Brown, The Lemongrass Hope by Amy Impellizzeri, Lies and Other Acts of Love by Kristy Woodson Harvey
24. What was your greatest musical discovery? Mumford and Sons
25. What did you want and get? A trip out of the country
26. What did you want and not get? A healthy pregnancy, a trip to Europe
27. What was your favorite film of this year? I saw very few movies, but Bad Moms was funny.
28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 35. We celebrated the weekend before by going to Escape Room and then to Stockwell’s with some friends. That day, I had lunch with a friend and then we went out to dinner at Biaggi’s.
29.How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2015? Comfortable and I have finally given into leggings. 

30. What kept you sane? My Starbucks nights, Book club, Journal circle, working on music
31.Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Marcus Mumford

32. What political issue stirred you the most? Abortion, intactivism

33. Who did you miss? The baby I won’t get to meet.
34Who was the best new person you met? He isn’t new, but I have gotten to know Franc better.

35Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016: I need to put myself first and stop letting other people dictate how I live my life, even if it sometimes means that me doing what I need results in them not getting what they want.

November into December

Travel:

COMPLETED

Reading:

  • Read 24 books – I have read 33 books so far.
  • Read 2 music books - I am still on the second book…the jury’s out as to whether or not I will actually finish.

Writing: 

  • Daily Q&A – I am still keeping up with this.
  • Writer’s Book of Days – I did 6 out of 7 planned prompts.
  • 500 Writing Prompts – I did 3 out of 3 planned prompts.

Music:

  • Learn at least 6 new popular songs on the guitar or piano. – (5/6)
  • Learn at least 3 new Classical pieces on the piano (2/3).
  • Start recording my songs.
  • Find at least 5 new songs to use in music therapy sessions - (4/5)
  • Work through Songwriting Without Boundaries - I started to realize that I was really just doing them to do them and wasn’t getting as much out of them at the moment. I have put the book up for awhile and I hope to get back to it sometime.
  • Listen to 10 classical music pieces.

Home and Organization:

  • Complete Bonus Room Transformation – We have moved more things up to the room, so it is getting closer.
  • Go through Gmail account – I need to start working on this again.
  • Go through and organize computer files.

Family:

  • Inflatable Fun Factory
  • Game Night

Financial: I want to continue to save money and to keep our spending in check.

  • Save a specific amount in Travel and Savings Accounts combined – We saved some in October.
  • Keep track of “extras” earned from apps, credit cards, rewards, etc. – So far, so good.
  • Keep up with a budget as best we can – I am getting back into doing this more regularly, at least in some areas.

Service: 

  • Do at least 6 service projects that may include volunteering, providing a meal at the local Ronald McDonald house, donating items, etc. (1/6)

Miscellaneous:

  • Write a new 101 in 1,001 list.
  • I have started a running list of restaurants I want to try, and I want to eat at 12 of them this year - (7/12)
  • I plan to cook 12 international meals this year or one international meal a month – We planned to focus on Hungarian food in November but haven’t been home to make a good Hungarian meal. I’m hoping to do this in December.

Other Things:

  • I spent the first weekend in November at a journal retreat with the ladies in my journal circle. It was absolutely amazing, and I can’t wait to do this again sometime soon.
  • I spent part of the second weekend in November in Vienna, IL/Paducah, KY trying to keep two small children occupied while my husband ran a 50 mile race. Yes, I said 50 miles. It’s ridiculous.
  • We celebrated Thanksgiving with family and lots of food. The weekend after we spent with my husband’s father’s family in Cincinnati. We also visited the Newport Aquarium while there.
  • That weekend, we also decorated the house and finished our tree decorating a few days ago.

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How was your November?

 

 

 

 

October into November

Travel:

  • Weekend away with the kids – We went camping Labor Day weekend and had a great time. We had planned to only do 2 nights but ended up staying for the third.
  • Anniversary weekend away – We spent a glorious week in Punta Cana and it was amazing!
  • Family vacation - I have posted trip reports from several of the days we spent there but I’m still working on finishing this project.

Reading:

  • Read 24 books – I have read 28 books so far.
  • Read 2 music books - I am still on the second book.

Writing: 

  • Daily Q&A – I am still doing this but trying to catch up from being gone.
  • Writer’s Book of Days – I did 6 out of 7 planned prompts.
  • 500 Writing Prompts – I did 2 out of 3 planned prompts.

Music:

  • Learn at least 6 new popular songs on the guitar or piano. – (5/6)
  • Learn at least 3 new Classical pieces on the piano (0/3).
  • Start recording my songs. I am still working on recording the music that I have so far.
  • Find at least 5 new songs to use in music therapy sessions - (3/5)
  • Work through Songwriting Without Boundaries - I started the third “course” and I’m still working through it. I probably will not finish the whole book by the end of the year, but that’s ok.
  • Listen to 10 classical music pieces.

Home and Organization:

  • Complete Bonus Room Transformation – We have moved most of the stuff out of the room, so the next step will be to move things up to the room.
  • Go through Gmail account – I need to start working on this again.
  • Go through and organize computer files.

Family:

  • Inflatable Fun Factory
  • CMoeWe visited CMoe on their 10th birthday.
  • Game Night

Financial: I want to continue to save money and to keep our spending in check.

  • Save a specific amount in Travel and Savings Accounts combined – We did not get to save any in October due to a major vet bill for our dog, unfortunately.
  • Keep track of “extras” earned from apps, credit cards, rewards, etc. – So far so good.
  • Keep up with a budget as best we can – I need to get back into doing this again.

Service: 

  • Do at least 6 service projects that may include volunteering, providing a meal at the local Ronald McDonald house, donating items, etc. (1/6)

Miscellaneous:

  • Write a new 101 in 1,001 list.
  • I have started a running list of restaurants I want to try, and I want to eat at 12 of them this year - (7/12)
  • I plan to cook 12 international meals this year or one international meal a month – We totally dropped the ball on this in October, but that’s ok. We will pick up again this month.

October was a bittersweet month. I love the month of October but it is a difficult one for me. Other things that happened in October include:

  • We went to the corn maze with friends one evening.
  • I took a “creativity day” and spent an entire day in a nearby town just writing.
  • We spent a full week in Punta Cana, which was amazing. In fact, this was my view for most of trip.

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  • My kids dressed up as Catboy and Owlette for Halloween. Aren’t they cute?

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How was your October?

 

 

California: San Francisco, Day 7

On Friday, we decided to venture to Muir Woods, which is a little ways across the bridge. However, we had to pick up a rental car to be able to get there, and we were planning to leave the city the following day. It was a good thing we opted to get the car this morning instead of the day we had planned to leave, because it took forever. I’m not sure why, but I wish I had known it was going to take that long, even with a reservation.

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Once we finally got our car, we headed to Muir Woods. We had heard that parking was a nightmare and that is totally the truth. We drove around for awhile until we finally found a spot. We got to hike around the woods and see some pretty amazing trees and it was nice and peaceful for most of that walk.

 

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Next, we opted to stop at Muir Beach. It was definitely too cold to get in the water, but the views were gorgeous. Eric made a cairn and I got some really cute pictures of Felix making his own cairn and Anya joined in to help him with it, too.

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We did some grocery shopping at an organic store that would make all the crunchies here go crazy and then headed back across the bridge. We parked at the hotel and then headed back down to Fisherman’s Wharf. We shopped for a bit andthen had a late dinner at Joe’s Crab Shack. It was a nice way to end our time in San Francisco, but we still had another week of fun ahead of us.

See what else we did while in California:

San Francisco: Days 1 and 2

San Francisco: Day 3

San Francisco: Day 4

San Francisco: Day 5

San Francisco: Day 6

Ramblings During a Half Marathon

I did a half marathon at the very beginning of October, and I swear some of the funniest things pop into my head as I’m running these long races.

I halfway trained for this half marathon so I did not expect it to be fast at all and I figured I’d be feeling pretty bad afterwards, so I really wasn’t expecting much. In fact, before we started, a friend and I were talking about having “f*&k this” attitudes about the whole thing. Yeah, I’m a super serious runner…

So, here we go. The first mile….not too bad. I think I can do this. Only 12 more to go.

Pizza…that sign says pizza. It’s not even 7:30 in the morning and all I can think about is how much I want that stupid pizza.

A half a mile later…dang it..there it is again. More signs about pizza. Ooooh….and Zesto. I could really go for a burger and fries right now. Gosh, I’m hungry.

Then, I’m looking around and realizing that this is not a good part of town. I would NEVER run in this part of town by myself, so why the hell did I get up this early to run through it as part of a half marathon? Stupid…

There’s some volunteers out there yelling words of encouragement…”You’re lookin’ good!” “Keep it up!” “You’re doin’ great!” Yeah, I am…I’m about 3 to 4 miles in and I’m doing awesome.

Mile 3 and there’s a liquor store…it’s not even 8 am and people are already out getting their next drink…interesting.

At about mile 4.5, I decide to turn on my music. I held out as long as I could but I desperately needed Marcus Mumford to sing to me.

At mile 5, I’m starting to wonder where all these porta potties are….I think I’m going to need a potty break and of course, there are none in sight. At this point, I’m also trying to talk myself out of walking, so to compromise, I tell myself that I will stop when I see the next porta potty or at mile 8, whichever comes first.

There’s more volunteers and one of them is yelling “There’s a bbq in the park!” The next thing he yells is “There’s beer in the park!” You can literally see everyone’s pace pick up, but then he says “just kidding.” Not funny, dude. Not funny.

So I keep going…there’s mile 6. Ok….I’m right around the halfway mark, but now that I’m doing the math, I realize that I have to do exactly what I just did all over again, and I’m pissed. How am I supposed to run another 6.55 with these legs? I am way too tired for this. This was a dumb idea. I mean, who the hell thought of 13.1 anyway? I start thinking about this and now I am completely convinced…in fact, I’m sure it’s just to mess with us as we’re running. 13.1 is not easily divisible by pretty much any number. Not 2, not 3, nothing. So to try to figure out where the 25% mark is or the 1/3 of the way is, one has to really concentrate on doing the math. I’m pretty sure it is just to get us to focus on something else and spend like 15 minutes trying to figure it out in our heads instead of talking ourselves into walking for awhile. And you know what? That scam totally works.

Damn it. Where are those porta potties?

Finally! There’s one. I have to wait for it and I end up losing 8 minutes in the process, but oh well. The only bad thing is that when I start running again, my legs are so stiff, but eventually they loosen up. I can’t believe I have 5 more miles to go. Unfortunately, the people I was running “with” are all ahead of me now and now that I’m behind them, I’m with people who are mostly walking or doing a combination of running and walking and no one’s in the mood anymore…and neither am I.

Around mile 9, I hear a lady shouting “You be careful! If you start feeling bad, you stop!” I thought to myself…geez, I must look really bad. Then, I looked to my left and saw an older lady running alongside me. She was probably in her 70′s. Yep. She pulled ahead and ended up crossing the finish line before I did.

So I keep going. There are still volunteers shouting encouragement every few minutes. “Keep up the good work!” “You’re looking great!” And I think to myself, “No, I don’t! I look like I’m about 3 strides away from having a heart attack…”

At around mile 11, I was just running along, minding my own business, when my right leg started fidgeting. It freaked me out so much that I stopped. Apparently, it was a charley horse. From there until the end of the race, I had them in both legs and had to stop every few minutes to stretch it and rub it out. What a pain! A lady running nearby offered me a pill that was supposed to help with them but I told her I was just planning to try to get through it on my own.

A few minutes later, I spotted my husband walking my way. He had already finished and came back to run/walk the last couple of miles with me. When we got to the home stretch, he pulled away so that he didn’t cross the finish line twice and I ran as fast as I could to finish the race. I ran past a woman on a stretcher and I recognized her as someone I was running directly behind before I had stopped to use the restroom. They were giving her oxygen as I ran by…scary. For some reason, at that point, I felt like I was going to throw up so as I crossed the finish line, all I could think of was “don’t throw up.”

I was so hungry at that point. There were snacks set up on a table and I grabbed one of each of everything they had. I was so, so hungry. We didn’t stay long because I had to keep walking or sit down. If I stood still for too long, my legs felt like they might collapse.

Man, that was awful. I really hope I learned my lesson and don’t sign up for this again next year…

What NOT to Say to a Friend or Family Member Experiencing a Miscarriage

As we near the anniversary of our miscarriage, I have been thinking a lot about all the things people said to me and how they made me feel. Here are a few things I would never recommend you saying to your friend or family member who is experiencing a miscarriage.

1. Well, at least you have your other kids or You should just be thankful you have your other kids. Yes, of course I am grateful for my other children. I have been blessed with two healthy children but this child that I lost was a child in his or her own right. If he or she had been born, no one would ever say “at least you have your other kids” as if I could just exchange the one I lost for one that is living.

2. Will you have more kids? I still don’t know the answer to this question and it’s been almost a year. Besides, it’s really none of your business, regardless. I honestly wouldn’t ask this question of anyone unless it was to someone I was super close to, and even then, I might not even ask.

3. Tell her about acquaintances whom she hasn’t seen or spoken to in years who are newly pregnant. Unless it’s a close friend or a family member, I really don’t need to know. There are enough pregnancy announcements on Facebook…I don’t need more than that.

4. It’s good that it happened so early. Maybe it would have been harder had we been further along, or maybe not. All I know is that in my mind, we lost a baby…a human child. And it honestly doesn’t matter that it was so early. It hurts all the same.

5. Nothing. This might be the worst thing you can do, to be honest. I realize it can be awkward for people to bring up a miscarriage but it meant the world to me when people acknowledged that I had lost a child and not some embryo or something. You don’t have to worry about “bringing it up again” because I can guarantee you that I was always thinking about it anyway. I still think about it every day, in fact.

Another thing that has been bothering me is the stigma surrounding miscarriages. Like I said before, I understand that people feel awkward with this topic but it really doesn’t have to be this way if we talk about our experiences when are moved to.

One thing I have noticed that really bothers me is that people are fine with reading posts about someone’s dog or other pet who is sick or has died and people will acknowledge this with no problems. However, talking about losing a human child while in utero just doesn’t get the same effect, and that is sad. Don’t get me wrong…I love our pets and I would do just about anything to keep them alive and well, so I’m not saying people shouldn’t post about them when things happen. They totally should. And so should a woman who has suffered a miscarriage, if she feels so inclined.

Recently, I have seen close family and friends express sympathy for people whose dogs are sick, mostly in the way of material gifts. Our dog also recently suffered a heat stroke and he got a package in the mail with a dog toy in it. All these things are super nice gestures, of course, but where the hell were these people when I was going through a miscarriage? It wasn’t that I needed anything material or anything; all I really needed was for people to acknowledge what I had lost and offer support in some way, whether through a text message or a phone call. It is during times like these that you really know who your true friends are. They are the ones who remember dates that are important to you and remember to check in with you that day. They are the ones who ask you how you’re feeling and don’t just ignore the giant elephant in the room. They are the ones who offer their support whenever you need it but still allow you the space to be silent if that is what you need.

 

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