Friday, February 24, 2017

Catching Up Since Heart Day. And Other Randomness.

Why does Snapchat default to Hello Kitty for every holiday? I do love a Hello Kitty filter but I'm not convinced of its holiday relevancy. Just a random thought to start us off :)


I am way, way behind with blogging about this Valentine's Day post. I hummed and ha'd over posting this oldie. After a lot of consideration, I'm going with yes. I write too many posts that I never post. Currently, I have 25 blog posts I have written and never published.
Weird, huh? Big ol' waste of time.

Today I'm filling you in on life over the past 10 days: I will try to get current with this blog after today :) 
Just like every year, our Valentine's Day was spent at home with kids. We've always been stay at home Heart Day people. I wish we had some passionate belief that made us choose that.
I just think it was easy and we kind of stuck with that.
 I try to make dinner festive for everyone. I decorate the table, make a favorite meal, 
and have small gifts for all. 
This year, I made Italian Tortellini Soup and homemade chocolate cake for dessert. 
Then my husband and I topped all that richness off with more chocolate and wine.

I get the whole--overpriced, marketing scheme idea--but I say celebrate those you love.
When you are a busy couple or family, it's hard to take time to do that.
Valentine's Day is an excuse to do that--a great excuse.


Valentine's Day was made so much sweeter with block leave, which is the military's reward for deployment. Thank you military!
I took a day off to bum around with him.
We went down to the intercoastal waterway to see the progress being made on the new bridge.
A big news for our small town.
It was a good day to be near the water. It was so clear and the tide low. 
There were plenty of fish swimming around to keep us entertained.


 The rest of the week was spent doing normal life stuff: 
Starting a new book: The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines.
I don't follow the Fixer Upper tv show but I do love their story(telling).
It makes me laugh and inspires me.



Prepping and shopping for our road trip.


And since this post was written over a week ago, we are currently on that trip.


And we are enjoying ourselves :) I'll give you one guess where that is!
Anyways, I'm putting this post up so I can get back on track.








Nicole

Monday, February 13, 2017

Weekending.

It's not often that we do weekending well. This weekend felt like a celebration and we were pulling out all the stops. I say that with mild sarcasm because we didn't do anything too extravagant. We did make a point to enjoy near 80 degree temps in February. I told you it was a Wacky Winter




Sunday was so warm. The beach was screaming our name. We drove all the way to base to go to Onslow Beach. A beach that is notorious for shark teeth (or some kind of teeth, you know I'm a skeptic). After walking about 50 yards, we couldn't hang. It was incredibly windy and cold. In the picture about you can see streaks of white. That is the sand blowing across the beach. Ouch!
We weren't prepared so we spent a total of 5 minutes and left. 



The colors of the beaches out here are so pretty. 
I've heard it called the Crystal Coast which totally makes sense. 
I had no idea the beaches were like this here. 
I'm definitely getting an itching for summer days.
Slowly, I'm starting to adjust (I think).


Saturday was gorgeous weather too.
Zac was "bored" because he ran out of screen time.
He got a little picky about what chores to do last week.
Of course, there is nothing to do around here...
Typical teenage complaints!


Mom can always come up with ideas that don't include video games.
Dad is good about implementing those ideas :)


I feel like a lot of people have certain ideas about who I am and what I like.
I might enjoy my "city girl" life, but I grew up country. 
My aim is pretty good :)


What is a weekend without reading?
I finished We Should All Be Feminists and The Mothers this weekend. 
I highly recommend We Should All Be Feminists. It's only 40 pages and very concisely written.
It is not in-your-face, angry feminist views. 
It's a gentle prodding of norms we probably shouldn't hold.
The Mothers was an okay book. It's stand out quality was the setting was in Oceanside, California.
It was so familiar to me and I loved that!
The Magnolia Story is up next.


 And this happened. I registered for my GRE seat.
I've been wanting to go back to school for a long time but I keep putting it off.
No more excuses or procrastinating.
I have 30 days to seriously study for this test.
Hoping grad school will be a reality this fall.


I almost forgot to tell you what we are celebrating! 
No more basketball games to take up our entire Saturday :)
Derrick's team is going out on top. 
Zac's team at the bottom.
Both ways, the boys had fun.
And the basketball program was excellent here. 
It is very much for every child (sport lovers and non-sport lovers). 
I can say that because I have one of each :)
The coaches were amazing!

Nicole

Friday, February 10, 2017

Wacky Winter. North Carolina.

Last week, Phil the groundhog saw his shadow. Such sad news that we would have six more weeks of winter! However, I think most of the country would agree this winter hasn't been so bad. It doesn't seem anyone is getting much winter weather in the US minus the occasional snow dump in the northern parts :)


For us, winter has meant a lot of blue skies :)



No snow here. Or rain.


Just plenty of 70-plus degree days to enjoy.

If this is what 6 more weeks of winter will look like, then I will suffer through :)













Tuesday, January 31, 2017

A Year Of Reading




Number Of Books You Read: 60
Number of Re-Reads: 0
Genre You Read The Most From: Non-fiction, Celebrity Memoirs


best-YA-books-2014

1. Best Book You Read In 2016?

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t? The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

3. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

Killing The Rising Sun by Bill O'Reilly

4. Favorite new author you discovered in 2016? Ruta Sepetys

5. Book You Read In 2016 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year? Ready Player One 

6. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2016 to finally read? 

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes (Jojo Moyes' books in general)

7. Book In 2016 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure: 

Harry Potter (peer pressure from my son)

looking-ahead-books-2015

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2016 But Will Be Priority in 2017?

My main goal this year is to re-read some old favorites: The Tortilla Curtain by T.C.Boyle and The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins.


New Year, New Books.

It's Book Day! Today we talk about books. Share all the good and bad reading of January 2017. I really like this day :) However, some of you may not. To you, I promise I'll be posting more life stuff soon. Today...today all the books lovers mingle to find their next great read!

At the beginning of each month, I optimistically choose a stack of books I want to read. My January TBR (to-be-read) pile looked like this...


As I do every single month, I read a completely different pile of books. Here is my actual January reading stack plus The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins.


The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins was my absolute must read. I waited and waited to get that book from the library but clearly everyone else wanted the same thing. Thankfully, I was gifted GOTT in December and put it to good use pretty darn quick! I loved it. I'm not typically a thriller or mystery reader, so I wouldn't be able to rate it against other well written books in the same category.  For me, it was highly entertaining. The plot is pretty messy and keeps you thinking. I loved how Hawkins revealed tiny bits throughout the story to help you solve the who-dun-it murder with an untrustworthy main character. I'm never good at solving mysteries so it took me a while to figure it out. This book won't change your life or impress you with an unique writing style, but you will be entertained. It was a decent book that moved along and kept you guessing.



After completing The Girl On The Train, I wanted to dig into a hefty subject about race in America. 2015/16 brought a lot of attention to this topic in the news media. And now, even more so with recent executive orders. I didn't seek out the news articles but it definitely is in the back of my mind. Clearly one side feels unheard and mistreated, I wanted to understand that feeling more. So, this month I decided I would read some of the popular titles currently out there getting attention. 

Homecoming by Yaa Gyasi was my first choice. This book is a lot of things. It is historical fiction, short stories, and contemporary fiction. The chapters follow the lineage of family from two sisters over the course of 200-plus years. Primarily, the subject matter is slavery but evolves to contemporary issues of the African American race. This book is superbly written. It brings understanding to those who have not been directly affected by this certain history. In the past, I have tried to read African literature without success. It's hard to understand through a Western lense. I found Homegoing to be very informative and eye opening. I recommend this book to all readers. However, this book will really appeal to those looking to learn something versus being entertained.


My feelings about reading this book. Gotta put on your book nerd glasses :)



Moving right along to Book #3 The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. What an incredible writer. As I read this book, I continually watched interviews with Whitehead to better understand what he was trying to convey with this book. I read a lot of complaints of his character development but I don't believe that was Whitehead's focus. It's sort of like reading classics and finding the message buried in symbolism and themes.  This book definitely peaked my interest in Colson Whitehead novels. The Underground Railroad is not what you expect as far as typical story telling with a main character who has a conflict and everything is tied up with a neat little bow by the last page. Much like Homegoing, The Underground Railroad is a one part of an ongoing conversation about race in America. If I had to pick one over the other, I would go with Homegoing. There are less distractions from what is most important. 



#4 Between The World And Me by Ta-Nehishi Coates was a non-fiction book about race in America. It is along the same lines as Homegoing and The Underground Railroad focusing on the African American experience. This was solely the author's experience and thoughts on the subject. I wasn't in love with it but respect the point of view.  I know this book has received rave reviews but I'm not recommending this one.

January books were definitely about educating myself about racial injustice from the African American point of view. I think it's an important conversation to be informed about from those experiencing the situation first hand. I am glad I devoted this month to reading only A.A. literature. I haven't decided if I will continue with similar books in February. There really is enough out there to keep going. 

The thing holding me back is the weight of the information which starts to wear on my brain. Plus, I start to feel guilty about the ways things were and are. It is also a bit annoying that you feel lumped into a generalization about your race made by some of the authors. I suppose the door swings both ways. I also felt like my empathy as a white American isn't enough to allow me to actively participate in the race conversation. Lots of heavy complicated feelings. 

I wonder if you have read any of these books and if you share similar feelings? And what are your thoughts in general about these books? 

*I'm linking up with Jana and Steph and a bunch of other fabulous readers for books reviews. Check them out if you need a new book!