Thursday, January 12, 2017

Stuff & Things: Currently

Stuff, Things, etc.

Linking up again this week with Kristin and Joey for Stuff & Things.

And let's be honest, if I didn't do this these days, I probably wouldn't blog about anything besides books....


Watching: Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath on A&E.  If you haven't seen this, I highly recommend it.  I had listened to the audio version of Leah's book Troublemaker in February last year, and apparently, I somehow forgot to share it in my monthly book review:

Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and ScientologyTroublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I LOVED this book. I've always liked Leah Remini, and I really enjoyed hearing her story. I listened to this on Audible, and it was to great to literally hear her read her book.

I did not know that Leah Remini was a Scientologist, nor did I know a whole lot about Scientology. It was fascinating and horrifying to hear all of the things that Leah went through, as well as to hear about her successes in show business.

The show includes interviews with people who have left Scientology, including many people who were high up and in some type of leadership within the organization.  It's just fascinating.  And infuriating.

Feeling: The baby move!  I've been feeling him or her hopping around for a couple of weeks, and it's seriously the weirdest (but coolest) thing.  Words can't even accurately describe what it's like, but I will just say that I have officially learned the difference between Baby moving and gas bubbles....

Listening to: The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton thanks to Kristin's recommendation!

Looking forward to: Monday.  Normally, I hate Mondays, but THIS Monday, Scott and I will be going to my next doctor's appointment, and if Baby cooperates, we'll find out if we've got a boy or a girl growing in there!

Recovering from: The plague a cold and the stomach bug I was fortunate enough to have over the weekend.  It was a quick hit, and it didn't last long, but I am SO bad at being sick.  My stomach is back to normal, but the cold thinks it's cool to hang out.

Wishing: That we hadn't had a snow day today.  We had some icy conditions, but I actually feel pretty confident that our original 2 hour delay would've been sufficient.  Now, we've lost a day from our break in February.

Reading: The Atonement Child by Francine Rivers  I borrowed this on eBook from my local library, and I suppose I should probably get back to it because it's due back on the 17th, and I haven't gotten very far!

What stuff and things are currently happening with you?

Thursday, January 5, 2017

1st Stuff & Things of 2017

Stuff, Things, etc.

So the "thing" to do in the blogging world is to have a "word of the year."  I've always admired bloggers who are committed to finding their word and working on it throughout the year.  As a sort of blogger, I find myself wanting to take part in this, procrastinating, not being able to think of something, and then moving on.


I think I've got it.

And I've actually totally stolen it from someone else.  But whatever.

I don't know if any of you have ever seen the TLC show Little People Big World.  I started watching it years ago when I would just put TLC on in the background while I did whatever, and it caught my attention.  For a very brief rundown of the show, it is the story of Matt and Amy Roloff who are little people with four children (who are all grown up now).  Three of their children are average height, and one of them is also a little person.  Jeremy and Zach are twins, but Zach is an LP.  They also have a daughter, Molly, and a son, Jacob.  Currently, Molly and Jacob are not really active on the show (although Molly does pop in from time to time), but Jeremy and Zach are both married.  (They are the two girls at the top of the picture.  Tori is on the left and Audrey is on the right.)

So why am I telling you all of this, and what does it have to do with my word for the year?

I'm so glad you asked.

Through the show, I started following Audrey's blog.  A slogan she has lived by since she was a teenager is "always more."  As I was watching last night's new episode, it hit me.

And that's when I stole it.

This year, my word of the year (even though it's actually two words) will be "Always More."  This isn't about greed or gaining more wealth or worldly possessions.  I went back to Audrey's blog, and she actually adopted this from Ephesians 3:20 "Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine..."

When I went through having an ectopic pregnancy this summer, it was hard.  The timing was great for both the school year and my cousin's wedding in May.  It was perfect.  Except that it wasn't.  There was MORE.  God had a different plan.  He had something else in store.  And here I am, 20 weeks pregnant today.

I want to get more out of my relationships with my husband, family, and friends.

I want to get more out of this amazing experience of being pregnant.

I want to get more from becoming a mother for the first time and building a relationship with this new little life we have created.

I want to be more present.

I want to pray more.

I want to put more of myself into the things that I love and am passionate about.

That is what Always More will mean for me this year.

(and maybe I'll get a piece of Always More merchandise from Audrey's shop....who knows?)

Monday, January 2, 2017

December Books

Ah, December.  The last month of the year, and the last chance to finish my goal of 40 books for 2016.  Here's how it turned out:

At the Water's EdgeAt the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had listened to Sara Gruen's Water for Elephants on Audible, and as I was looking for eBooks to borrow from my local public library, I came across this one. I really loved how the relationships changed and developed throughout the story, and I grew to really love Maddie the more that the story went on.

Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls, and Everything in BetweenTalking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls, and Everything in Between by Lauren Graham

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I LOVE Lauren Graham. This book was a quick and fun listen. I really enjoyed hearing her perspective about working in on Gilmore Girls, Parenthood, and Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. She tells her story with just the right amount of sarcasm and humor, and I loved it!

The Time Traveler's WifeThe Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've been struggling with what I want to read. I just haven't been in the mood for most books. SO I picked up an old favorite. I LOVE this book. I'm a huge fan of time travel stories, and I love the characters of Clare and Henry. This book is always worth another read, and I'm glad I picked it up again.

Brian's Winter (Brian's Saga, #3)Brian's Winter by Gary Paulsen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An interesting perspective of how Brian's winter would have gone if he had remained stranded in the Canadian North Woods. I will definitely be recommending this one to my students after they've read Hatchet!

View all my reviews

I did it!  I read 40/40 books in 2016!

Somehow, I've also become a person who doesn't finish books.  It's possibly because of the mood I'm in where I don't know exactly what I want to be reading.  So if something doesn't capture my attention, I'm more willing to stop reading (particularly if it's an audio book from Audible, since they have a great return policy).

Books I didn't finish this month:

Mini Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella 
I will actually go back to this book.  I got it from Audible, and I could not STAND the narrator.  Her voice was bad enough as Becky (this was not the same narrator as the Shopaholic book I "read" last month), but when she altered her voice to speak for Luke, I threw in the towel.  I'll get this book in paper or eBook form.

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
My local library recently connected with other libraries in my area to offer eBooks and audio books for borrowing (as I mentioned in my review about At the Water's Edge).  I thought I'd give this one a go since I loved Gone Girl, but I just couldn't get into it.  I may come back to it in the future, but with the end of the year approaching, I needed books I could get into and read pretty quickly to meet my reading goal!

I've signed up for the Goodreads challenge again for 2017.  This year, I decided it was necessary to cut my goal from 2016 in half.  My goal for 2017 is to read 20 books. I have to be realistic.  I have a baby coming.  In May, my life is going to change drastically, and I really don't know how much time I will have for reading.  I decided that 20 was pretty reasonable.  If I end up doing better than that...great!  But I'd rather play it safe and surpass than to be too ambitious and miss the mark.

What are your reading goals for 2017?  Any book recommendations from 2016?

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Stuff & Things 12/22

Stuff, Things, etc.

So if you follow me on Instagram or if we are Facebook friends, you have already seen this, but I'm sure you'll bear with me because you love me.

This is big news that I can finally share with everyone!

Coming in May 2017...a baby!

I'm so excited for all that 2017 is going to bring, and I'm thankful for a wonderful 2016!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Christmas Fun

I borrowed this from Jenni from Living for the Victories.  It sounded fun, and I needed something to post on this little blog of mine! :)

What’s your favorite Christmas Movie?

I can't pick one, but National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation and The Santa Clause 2 are at the top of the list.  I also love the made for TV ones.  One of my favorites is still Holiday in Handcuffs from ABC Family (with Melissa Joan Hart & Mario Lopez), and pretty much any one that Candace Cameron Bure is in on the Hallmark Channel.

Have you ever had a white Christmas?
Yes!  Unfortunately, it has been WAY too long since we've had one here in Pennsylvania.  It either snows before Christmas and goes away or we have a mild winter.  Christmas is the ONLY day of the year that I like snow.

Where do you usually spend your holiday?
At my parents' house

What is your favorite Christmas song?

"O Holy Night" and "White Christmas" (But don't get me wrong, I'm obsessed with Christmas music.

Do you open any presents on Christmas Eve?
No!  Santa hasn't come yet! ;)

Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer?
Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, and depending on what story or song it is, there's Rudolph, too!

What holiday traditions are you looking forward to this year?
Food!  :)

Is your Christmas tree real or fake?
Fake.  But I actually sold it this year because it was too big and complicated, and I hated it.  I plan to get a new one when they go on clearance.  My house is a construction zone right now, so I didn't even bother to have one up this year. My parents always have a real one, which I love and appreciate.

What is your all time favourite holiday treat/food/sweet?
Cookies!!!  And pecan pie!

Be honest, do you like giving or receiving gifts better?
Honestly, I think I like both equally.  Who doesn't like getting presents?!  And I love picking out gifts for others and seeing their faces when they open them!

What is the best Christmas present you ever received?
Wow....ever??  Maybe when I was a kid we got the original Nintendo.  That was pretty awesome.  

What would be your dream place to visit for the holiday season?
Because I do actually like to have a white Christmas, maybe somewhere where there's sure to be snow?

Are you a pro present wrapper or do you fail miserably?
I am horrible.  Gift bags all the way!

Most memorable Christmas moment?
When we were little kids, we had to eat breakfast before opening presents (we still do!).  So my mom would go downstairs and start cooking breakfast, and my brother and I would wait upstairs while my dad got the Christmas records on.  Then he would come upstairs and carry us down one at a time with my blankie over our heads to the breakfast nook so we couldn't see the pile of presents.  I loved those moments of excitement and anticipation!

What made you realize the truth about Santa?
My brother and I always had to wrap our mom's gifts from our dad.  When I was in 3rd grade, we were doing this and even though my mom said not to worry about wrapping her gifts for my dad, we thought we would "help" anyway.  When we got into their closet to get his gifts, we found LOTS of presents.  My mom was so devastated.  They convinced my brother that Santa just needed to drop some off to help out on Christmas morning, but I wasn't a believer after that.  :(

What makes the holidays special for you?
Family, Christmas music, food

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Stuff & Buy Your Child's Teacher

Ok.  I'm copping out here, but today, I was totally thinking about this post I wrote last December.  And I thought, "I should share that for Stuff & Things this week."

And then I forgot that it was actually Thursday.

I was mid-sentence with my students today, talking about what they would be doing tomorrow, and I stopped to say, "Wait, tomorrow is Friday, right?"  Fortunately, tomorrow is Friday.

I digress.

Christmas is coming up, and I have to say that I have had more than one friend who has contacted me over the years and asked what kind of gift they should buy for their child's teacher.  I'm always happy to share my thoughts based on gifts that I have received in the past.

Remember, it is never necessary or required to buy your child's teacher a gift.  But it is a very nice gesture that makes us feel genuinely grateful and appreciated.

Here's my original post.

Stuff, Things, etc.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

November Books

I had a really hard time reading this month.  I feel like November flew by so quickly, and while I still do have a few actual physical books on my shelf to read, I just wasn't in the mood to pick up a book.  (Shame on the reading teacher...)

BUT I did manage to get in a few reads, and I'm still on track to read 40 books for the year!

Here's what I read:

Wedding NightWedding Night by Sophie Kinsella

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's been awhile since I read a Sophie Kinsella book. I've been having a hard time figuring out what books I want to listen to on Audible, and I decided I just needed a light, fun read. This book did not disappoint. I enjoyed hearing the story from both Felicity and Charlotte's perspectives.

Shopaholic & Baby (Shopaholic, #5)Shopaholic & Baby by Sophie Kinsella

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I forgot how much I love Becky Brandon (née Bloomwood). I've been needing a break from most of the books I've been reading, and Sophie Kinsella has been just the author I needed. Lots of twists and turns and the usual frustration with some of Becky's decisions, and in the end, a satisfying ending!

The Westing GameThe Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this book in middle school, and I'm not sure I totally "got" it then. Rereading it as an adult made much more sense. It's a good mystery that isn't really easy to solve until the end. I might use this book with my students some day!

When You're Ready (Ready, #1)When You're Ready by J.L. Berg

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received this audio book for free from Audible to listen and review. They are testing new versions of audio books with music and sound effects to enhance the listening experience.

This is a romance novel, which isn't my typical genre of choice. It actually had a really sweet story line, and I liked the characters. I also like when they have multiple readers to tell the story. So Clare's portions of the book were read by a female and Logan's were read by a male. But I didn't love the voice of the man who read for Logan. His voice didn't seem to "fit" Logan.

I didn't mind the music in the background of portions of the book, but the sound effects felt fake and unnatural. Sometimes, they just didn't make any sense at all. There's one section of the book where Logan is in Clare's house for the first time. He's looking around at the pictures on display, and there are birds chirping. Birds. There are no birds in Clare's house.

There were times I just wasn't "in" to the story, but I wanted to squeeze in one more book for November, so I pushed on to meet that goal!!

View all my reviews

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