Friday, June 24, 2016

Books and TGIF

Because I know you're all dying to know, I finished last year's reading challenge, and now I'm going to give you the final update (because what else could you possibly want to read on a Friday evening/over the weekend?).  I'm also going to let you know what I've been reading this year, just in case you're interested.

I'm pretty sure this is the last thing I posted about the 2015 reading challenge.  I'm going to give an extremely detailed and scientific review/recommendation by using one of three words:  "YES," "MEH," or "NO."  (The Amazon book review department will probably contact me after they read this post and beg me to work for them.)

1. a book you've been meaning to read -- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling (YES)
2. a book published this year -- The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (YES)
3. a book in a genre you don't typically read -- 41: A Portrait of My Father by George W. Bush (YES)
4. a book from your childhood -- Matilda by Roald Dahl (YES)
5. a book your mom loves -- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (YES)
6. a book that was originally written in a different language -- The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky (NO)
7. a book "everyone" has read but you -- The Help by Kathryn Stockett (YES)
8. a book you chose because of the cover -- The Fever by Megan Abbott (MEH)
9. a book by a favorite author -- Back When We Were Grownups by Anne Tyler (YES)
10. a book recommended by someone with great taste -- Cinder by Marissa Meyer (MEH)
11. a book you should have read in high school -- Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes (YES -- although it was SUPER depressing)
12. a book that's currently on the bestseller list -- The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo (YES)

Here's this year's reading list (I'm not doing the official challenge this year):

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon -- I HIGHLY recommend this series, even though this first book is quite racy.
Evening Class by Maeve Binchy -- I love anything by Maeve Binchy.
11/22/63 by Stephen King -- This was so fascinating; so far I have only read "normal" Stephen King novels, because I'm too chicken to read anything scarier.
Tricky Twenty-Two by Janet Evanovich -- This series is my guilty pleasure.
A Share in Death by Deborah Crombie -- A good, but not AMAZING series (this is the first book).  I like the main characters.
Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon -- This is Book 2 in the Outlander series.
Awakening by Tracy Higley -- Meh.
Coming Clean by Kimerbly Rae Miller -- This is a super interesting memoir written by the daughter of two hoarders.
Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer -- This jumped back and forth between horrifying and boring (in my humble opinion).
All Shall Be Well by Deborah Crombie -- This is Book 2 after A Share in Death.
Missoula by Jon Krakauer -- This was good, but hard to read at times (because of the candid language and vivid visuals).
Voyager by Diane Gabaldon -- This is Book 3 in the Outlander series, and probably my favorite so far.
Candle in the Darkness (Refiner's Fire Book #1) by Lynn Austin -- I enjoyed this, but it probably could have been 200 pages shorter.
Leave the Grave Green by Deborah Crombie -- This is Book 3.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith -- I've always heard of this and finally got around to reading it.  It was nothing short of delightful.
The Knockoff by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza -- This was enjoyable in a mindless way.
Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova -- This is the same author who wrote Still Alice (which I haven't read yet).

And in case you care nothing of these lists (it's fine if you don't!), here are some pictures:

After Saturday morning ballet:

Chet built me a frame!

Sydney strikes again:

We ate Father's Day dinner Saturday night (with the rest of Austin) at our current favorite Mexican food restaurant:

...followed by Toys 'r' Us (thanks for the great backdrop, Toy 'r' Us!).

We spent Sunday evening at Didi's house in New Braunfels:

Current family favorite:

Baby burrito:


TGIF/happy weekend!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

March through Now

No biggie, just a post catching you up on what's been going on the past couple of months.

Actually, let's back up to January, when we celebrated 4 of our birthdays (Ford, Chet, Sydney, me, in that order).

In February we found out Chet was accepted into the University of Texas' Civil Engineering graduate program. We quickly celebrated, and then commenced move preparations.

March 1st: Chet was promoted to LCDR (Lieutenant Commander)!

March 6th: We welcomed Ruth Emily into the world (3 days late, ahem)!

April 6th: Ruthie turned one-month old.

We said goodbye to as many friends as possible during the month of April:

But there's never enough time to properly say goodbye to everyone.

April 25th: Sydney's and Lorelei's last day of school. As soon as Sydney finished her school day (she even went on a field trip that morning, ha!), the kids and I (with the help of Papa John!) flew from northern VA to Texas. We moved ahead of Chet, who didn't finish work until May 13th, because we wanted to get settled into our new house and Sydney enrolled in school as soon as possible. (We NEVER would have done it like this had we not had the help of our parents!)

(Before I move on, let me share some scary, real life pictures of the packing up part of the move. For the first time in our military lives we camped out in an empty house.)

That right there is real life, people.

May 2nd: The movers dropped off our belongings, and Papa John, Ruthie, and I commenced unpacking. (Didi and Papa Dave kept the oldest three at her house, 60 miles away.)

(The kids had way more fun than Papa John and me, going to movies, taking bubble baths, and drinking wine (water)).

May 5th: Sydney joined us in Austin and started school (we didn't want her record to say "Kindergarten Dropout").

May 6th: Ruthie turned 2-months old. Here is her official picture:
I'm working on forgiving myself for totally skipping her 2-month picture. My excuses: moving and 4th child.

May 13th: Chet's last day of work at the Pentagon. He and his dad started driving our two vehicles to Texas the next day.

May 15th: Lorelei and Ford finally joined us in Austin (it took us that long to get the house in enough order for them to be allowed underfoot!). 

May 17th: Chet (and Papa Greg!) arrived in Austin!

Since then we've worked our tails off to get the house in order, even though we'll only be here 12 months. We're 95% there, and I've determined that it takes us a good month to unpack and get settled (we're not one of those awesome families that can do it in a week).

Here are a few random house pictures:
That table has been replaced by this table:

The "office" (with some clutter that still needs putting away/burning):

Our updated master bed (my great-grandmother made the quilt):

And some pictures that I'm finding more often lately, thanks to tiny photographers:

On with the timeline.

June 2nd: Sydney's last day of Kindergarten, and Chet's 1st day of grad school.

We told the kids we could get a fish when summer started, since I've convinced them I'm allergic to all animals with fur (not entirely true).
She's a Betta, her name is Dory, and she was the least beautiful fish on the shelf, but apparently the girls had already bonded with her.

I'm currently sitting with Ruthie, typing this from my phone (which is painstaking), and watching Chet push Ford on the swing. (I was lamely pushing him earlier, and he told me, "That's enough, Mommy." Well, fine then. :-))

Happy Sunday!