Monday, January 31, 2022

Books I Read: January

 Books Read in January: 10
2022 Running Total: 10

Concrete Rose 
by Angie Thomas 

The prequel to "The Hate U Give" 
about Starr's father Maverick. 
It's been so long since I'd read The Hate U Give 
that I forgot most of the backstory 
so reading this book I didn't know the ending. 
Classic Angie Thomas, it was well done, 
though I did enjoy her other two books better. 

It's In His Kiss 
By Julia Quinn

The 7th Bridgerton book 
and, dare I say, this was my favorite!
Hyacinth is a most delightful character. 
and Lady Danbury is wildly funny. 
I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. 

How to Raise Kids who Aren't Assholes 
By Melinda Wenner Moyer 

5 stars. 
Truly excellent book. 
It hits all the major big topics 
(racism, sexism, sibling fighting, everything
with grace and a no-judgement approach. 
It's well organized 
and has very clear steps forward. 

Aaron randomly picked this out for me
because he was intrigued by the "bad word" on the cover 
and I'm so glad he did!

The Hike 
By Drew Magary 

This is Adam's favorite book 
and after much nagging, I finally read it. 

This is not my type of book. 
It's very Alice in Wonderland-esque, 
with a pointless fantasy quest 
that doesn't mean anything until the last few pages. 

The only thing saving it from 2 stars 
is that Magary's humor is hilarious. 
But seriously, it was pointless and dumb. 

The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot 
By Marianne Cronin 


I really liked the beginning of the book. 
I thought the characters quirky and delightful. 
(Erika compared it to Fredrik Backman 
and I can see that). 
But in the middle of the book, 
you learn via flashback that the baby dies. 
And that wrecked the whole book for me. 
The following stories didn't redeem themselves 
and in the end it was a just a depressing life story. 

The Power of Writing it Down: 
A Simple Habit to Unlock Your Brain 
and Reimagine Your Life 

Interesting concept, with great science-backed research. 
I would have preferred this as a long article 
rather than a compact book (only 224 pages, but still). 
It did inspire me to pick up writing again 
and I have enjoyed writing during my naptime reading time. 

The Unhoneymooners 
By Christina Lauren 

LOVED this book. 
It gives off "The Hating Game" vibes (review here).
Wildly funny, easy read, deeply enjoyable. 
It was the palate cleanser I needed 
after a slog of mediocre books. 

Like many chick-lit books, 
it's clichĂ© and quite predicable, 
but not so much that I didn't like it. 
Again, the humor offset any negative cliches. 

I picked it up from the library at 12:30pm 
and finish it at 9:30pm. 
My fastest book turnaround ever. 

The Uncommon Reader 
By Alan Bennett 

This short novella creates a funny scenario 
where the Queen of England becomes an avid reader... 
and the fallout that ensues. 

It's a bit dry but it's so short (120 pages) 
and if you like British royalty, you'll like this. 

The Paper Palace 
By Miranda Cowley Heller 

This book sucked me in 
and I couldn't put it down. 
The writing is stunning 
and the storyline sweeps you along. 
It has very "Wild Game" vibes to it (review here).  

That said, this book is FULL of trauma, 
particularly sexual trauma. 
In the end, it was too much trauma for me. 
When the book ended, instead of feeling satisfied, 
I felt weighed down by it's heaviness. 

People We Meet on Vacation 
By Emily Henry

This was a charming little chick lit book. 
The dialogue was funny 
and I enjoyed how every other chapter 
went back in time in their friendship, 
from the day they met and then chronologically to present, 
unraveling their past friendship. 
I struggle when books jump around in time, 
so this being chronological was very appreciated. 

That said, I disliked the "big secret" 
which was wildly predicable
Also, the book felt overhyped. 
Was it good? Yes. 
Does everyone need to read it? No. 

Friday, January 21, 2022

2022 Resolutions

Time for 2022 Resolutions!

2022 is divided into three categories: 
1. Book goals (obviously) - 5 goals
2. Monthly goals - 4 goals
3. One-time goals 4 goals

Total of 13 goals for 2022. 

Book Goals: 

1. Read my oldest 10 books on my TBR. 

This is my favorite goal every year. 
My TBR ("to be read" list)
 is stored on my library's website 
and, helpfully, the library orders it by date added. 
Every year I read (or delete) the oldest 10 books on my TBR. 

1. American Apartheid: 
Segregation and the Making of the Underclass 
by Douglas Massey

2. Without Merit: a novel by Colleen Hoover. 

3. The Natashas: Inside the Global Sex Trade

4. Bleachers by John Grisham

5. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

6. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society* 
by Mary Ann Shaffer

7. One Day: a novel by David Nicholls

8. Let's Pretend this Never Happened by Jenny Lawson 

9. Women in Clothes 

10. Dolly: My life and other unfinished business 
by Dolly Parton 

*I'm quite sure I briefly started this one but never got into it.
 Willing to try again. 

2. Read Two Books I Own 

I don't own a lot of books, 
but I do have a very small stack I've acquired. 
I thrive under library due dates that force me to read 
and struggle owning books with no time constraint. 

Books I own: 

The Night the Lights Went Out By Drew Magary 
(Adam loved this book)

Still Evangelical by Mark Labberton 

The Lies that Bind by Emily Giffin 

Moloka'i by Alan Brennert 

Swing by Ashleigh Renard 

Julie & Julia by Julie Powell 
(saw the movie and loved it)

3. Finish "The Source" by James Michener 

My father-in-law lent me this book. 
I started it April 2021 and ugh, 
it's long and tedious and... ugh. 
But I'm determined to finish it! 
It's a million pages (ok, so like a thousand) 
so maybe if I read 10 a day?

4. Read "Trans Like Me" 

I started this book TWICE in 2021 
and never got more than a few pages in. 
I know so little about the transgender community 
and I would like to know more. 

5. Learn my librarian's names. 

This is so simple but so important. 
I am terrible with names, 
but our librarians are so important in our lives. 
There are a dozen (or more?) at our local library. 
They all know me and my kids 
and greet us warmly by name 
and we chat and laugh together. 
And of them all, I can only remember two names!!!! 
I must do better!

Monthly Goals : 

These are goals I want to repeat every month. 

1. Take a class. 

I love learning about a very wide variety of subjects, 
and I find classes to be deeply stimulating and enjoyable, 
but I never make time for them. 

Specifically, I want to take at least one sex-related class. 
I won't elaborate on here for fear of the bots that will swarm this post, 
but generally it's an area of my life I want to keep improving. 

Along those lines...

2. Monthly date night with Adam. 

Continuation from 2021. 
We had about 50% success rate last year 
and I want to improve that. 
It should also be easier now that Carson is no longer breastfeeding. 

3. Write 20 minutes a day, 4 days a week. 

I'm in the middle of the book 
"the Power of Writing it Down" 
which suggests writing for 20 minutes, 4 days a week 
boosts a significant improvement in mood. 
I've blogged and journaled off and on throughout the years, 
but I want to start writing consistently. 
I already started this month 
and have enjoyed it immensely. 

4. Have Elizabeth over monthly. 

Elizabeth is the fake name I give to all the females in my life. 

In this case, Elizabeth is my kid's best friends. 
She is a charming, bright, vivid girl, 
full of potential to change the world. 
She has had a rough start to her young life 
(a lot of trauma and maybe even abuse?) 
and she still has many uphill battles to climb. 

I don't know if we can be a help Elizabeth, 
but I want to keep her close to us 
so that if she ever does need us, 
she knows we are here for her. 

One Time Goals 

1. Get my ring fixed. 

It's hard to tell in this picture, 
but two of the prongs are badly bent. 
I stopped wearing it for fear of losing the diamond. 
This is not a hard task, 
but it's one I will ultimately put off and forget about, 
unless I make it a goal. 

2. Save photos off my phone. 

As I was consolidating all the photos in our lives, 
I realized I have no permanent backup of Nov 2014-June 2017 
other than my iPhone cloud and our physical family yearbooks. 
I want to save these photos on an external drive 
along with the photos from before and after these dates. 

3. Finish wiping old laptop 

I wiped one of our old laptops in December 
but have one more to go. 
It has tons of documents on it from grad school and more, 
and I need to go through them all. 

4. Recycle laptops and fridges. 

Continuing from #3 above, 
I want to recycle our old unused laptops. 
We also have a broken wine fridge, 
mini/beer fridge, and an old printer that need to go. 
Our township used to do an annual electronics recycling day, 
but they stopped that during covid. 
If they don't restart this year, 
I want to find a place that will recycle them responsibly. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Resolutions Resolved

As always, I kick off the new year revisiting last year's resolutions. 
Original 2021 resolution post here

1. Donate blood 

Yes but it was a failed donation. 
Wrote all about that experience here

2. Watch top 12 Charlton Heston Movies 

This was a goal I had leftover from pregnancy 
back when I was suffering from insomnia. 
But this year I went back to my non-TV habits, 
and quite literally never watched a single show or movie by myself. 
That's quite ok because I'd rather read!

3. Monthly Date Night with Adam 

January - none, womp womp

February - zero 

March - YES. 
We dropped all 3 boys at Adam's parents house for a sleepover
and had the entire evening and next morning to ourselves. 
It was fabulous. 
We drank wine, 
played Othelo and Lattice Hawaii, 
ate delivery takeout, 
played video games. 
Was it glamorous? No. 
Was it amazing? Yes. 
The next morning, Adam ran out to pickup breakfast, 
and at 7am, I ate breakfast naked in bed. 
10/10 would recommend. 

April: YES. 
We went away for a whole weekend
It was our 10 year wedding anniversary. 
Our original plan was to go to Ireland, 
but COVID ruins everything, 
so we went to the very luxurious Hershey Hotel. 

May: No.  
But I had a sleepover with one of my BFFs 
and so I got a date night... by myself, lol. 

June: YES
We went to the movies. 
We wanted to see Cruella but that was unavailable 
so we ended up seeing "The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard" 
which was eye-rolling terrible
but since we hadn't been to the movies in over a year and a half, 
we still enjoyed ourselves. 

July: No. 
The month slipped away 
and I never lined up a sitter.

August: YES. 
While at the lake, 
we left the kids with my in-laws 
and enjoyed a night out by ourselves. 

September: Sort of... 
We had our first big event since pre-covid, 
an all-outdoor gorgeous Bar Mitzvah 
and it was such a fun night out without kids. 
Can we call that a date night?

October: Yes-ish. 
We had a date night with friends 
and since the kids were all at sleepovers 
(Aaron & Carson at grandparents, Oliver at a friend) 
we also had the whole night and morning to ourselves, 
so yes it was like a 16 hour datenight. 

November: Yes! 
Booked a sitter and we went out to a new brew house. 
It was delightful
 and we had a very enjoyable time just the two of us. 

December: Nope. 
There was no way we were fitting in a date night. 

4. Monthly purchase from small business / ethical / sustainable shop

January - Twice purchased from a local small business bakery 
for both mine (cookies n cream cake) 
and Carson's birthday (rainbow cupcakes). 
Never buying a grocery store cake again!

February - this cute Valentine's t-shirt from Confettees 
(which I discovered when the mega influencer Amanda 
posted her daughter in a shirt)

March - This is cheating, 
but I bought more Pretty Tasty Cupcakes for a friend 
as a thank you for scheduling a vaccine for my dad. 

April - a beautiful shirt from Elegant Tees
Elegant Tees is a wonderful company that focuses on ethically-made clothing, 
that works with survivors of human trafficking in Nepal. 
I think it's an amazing company 
and their clothes are so well made.

MayThis month I discovered 
a local Asian-owned produce market 
and now routinely go every Thursday for my produce stock-up. 
I love supporting a small, local, Asian-owned business 
and the produce is outstanding quality too!

June - I purchased two more tees from Elegant Tees

July - I purchased several books supporting a local black-owned bookshop. 
Allena sent an email of's black-owned bookstores
and I used that to locate Uncle Bobbie's
a local cafĂ© and bookshop in Philadelphia.  
Books I purchased: 
All books I have read to Oliver this year 
and wanted to have in our permanent collection. 

While at the lake, 
I bought a few items from the local shop "Browsers," 
an eclectic little shop full of fun household items 
mostly designed for lake-loving tourists. 
They also have the most wildly inappropriate hilarious cards 
(not the kind you'd find at Target) 
and I always stock up!

Does etsy count as a small business? 
and a beautiful hand-painted wine glass

I needed a gift for a friend's birthday
and while normally I'd stop at Target, 
I instead went to a local boutique called Flirt
and bought a really cute hat. 
It was 3x the amount I would've paid at Target, 
but better to support a small business!

Not really, no. 
I still continue to shop extensively at our local Asian market, 
but I wouldn't call that a November-specific purchase. 

More books from, specifically from Here Wee Read
The Proudest Blue (love this book so much) 

5. Clear off and consolidate remaining old laptop photos 

Knocked this out in the beginning of December, 
when my in-laws took Carson for a day. 

6. Fast for major religious holidays 

Ash Wednesday: blog post about that here

Good Friday became the first day of Ramadan
I altered my fast from Ash Wednesday 
and decided to do 3pm Monday to 3pm Tuesday. 
It was different and I think I liked it better. 

Yom Kippur
This time, I followed the Jewish fasting rules, 
which meant no water or food for 24-25 hours. 
I was nervous about the water, 
afraid I'd be dying of thirst, but really it was fine!

Now, I did modify the timeline a little. 
Yom Kippur is usually sundown to sundown, 
but our "Break the Fast" was 5pm 
so I planned 4pm-5pm. 

I had a highly nutritious smoothie 
and a handful of almonds at 4pm, 
then nothing all night. 
The morning was easy 
and I had a burst of energy like the energizer bunny. 
I crashed in the afternoon 
and only made it to 4pm 
where I downed a pint of raspberries 
and chugged water. 
Then I ate too big of a meal 
(bagel & lox is my favorite) 
and woke up feeling terribly sluggish and low energy. 

7. Become a daily tea drinker. 

Winter: easy!
Loved the warm mug of tea in a chilly afternoon. 

Spring: meh. 
I gravitated back to my trusty Kombucha. 

Summer: hardly a drop, 
until I started waking up at 5am
then some mornings I'd make myself an herbal tea 
to sip on while I worked. 

Fall: better 
I drink tea after a chilly morning run 
but am not in the habit of it. 

8. Close every Apple Watch Monthly Challenge

January: Done!  
Got 23,800 move calories!

February: Nope.  
I was supposed to walk 204 miles 
but I was burnt out from January 
plus the snow and I just totally gave up. 

March: Done! 
Get 1,300 exercise minutes.
I got a Schwinn bike (the Peloton knockoff) 
and that helped to kick me back into workout mode. 

April: Done! 
Close exercise ring 13 times. 

May: Nope.
Supposed to get 1,200 exercise minutes. 
Only got 1,080. 

June: Done! 
Close all 3 rings 10 times. 

July: Nope. 
Goal was 21,400 Move Caloires. 
I ended at 17,435.

August: Nope. 
Goal was 14 workouts. 
I did 12. 

September: Done!
Close all 3 rings 10 times. 

October: Nope. 
Close Move ring 12 times. 
I closed it 11 times. Woof. 

November: Nope. 
Goal was 20,600 calories. 
I burned 17,910.

December: Done!
Close stand ring 29 times. 
(This is easy for me since I stand about 15 hours a day.)

Total Score: 50% 
6 out of 12 months

9. Make a Goodreads account. 
Opened the first week of February 
and documented all of my 2021 reads. 

10. Read through the Bible in a year. 
In Jan/Feb, I followed the schedule religiously (pun intended) 
but by March I was losing steam fast. 
I recommitted to reading only 2 nights a week 
and that was much more manageable. 
By April... I fell off the wagon. 

Guys, the Bible is just not that interesting to read. 
I might need a buddy to get through this. 
A Bible-reading partner of accountability. 

11. Clear out my original 10 books
Read 10 of 10!
I love this goal
because it has lead me to some really good books 
that normally would not make my library haul. 

Hell Week - reviewed here 
A Mother's Reckoning - reviewed here
Love Warrior - reviewed here 
Pastrix - reviewed here 
Little Book of Hygge - reviewed here 
Evicted - reviewed here
The Paris Architect - reviewed here 
Girl at War - reviewed here 
Boy Erased - reviewed here
The Blue Castle - reviewed here

12. Read 4 books off my educational TBR
(Educational TBR list here)
I read 2, ugh. 

Why are all the black kids sitting together? - January review here 
Evicted - August review here

I tried and failed TWICE to read "Trans Like Me" 
which will now be a 2022 Resolution. 

13. Spend 15 minutes a day one-on-one with Carson 

I did terrible most of the year 
but in late August when Carson started speech therapy, 
I set aside 15 minutes every day 
to work on our "homework" from the Speech therapist. 
This included reading books like "100 first words" 
or playing with Little People animals to imitate sounds 
or playing with Mr Potato Head to identify body parts. 

I'm a person who needs a PURPOSE to play 
(which is why I push my children to play independently). 
I needed a purpose for my 15 minutes with Carson 
and what better purpose than learning how to speak?

14. Finish Harry Potter with Aaron.

January to March, we dedicated every Friday to Harry Potter. 
Aaron would end [virtual] school at 12noon, 
and then while Oliver & Carson were napping, 
we'd snuggle on the couch to read. 

Starting in April, Aaron went to school 5 full days, 
so Harry Potter became a weekend-only read. 
We finished "Half-Blood Prince" mid-April 
(both of us cried the whole last chapter!). 

In the summer, we read Harry Potter in the afternoons 
post-pool when Carson and Oliver were napping. 
(Summer routine here.) 
We finished "The Deathly Hallows" in late August. 
Both of us cried so much during this last book!

15. Read through "Here Wee Read's
Top 50 Books of 2020 with Oliver 

 We blew through this goal,
finishing all but one book in July. 
The last book was new to our library system 
and didn't come in until August. 

I did not want to retype the list, 
but wanted a record for myself, 
so here is a scanned image of the books**. 
I starred (*) our top 5 books. 
and have bought them off of her shop

Some books I noted as "too long" 
in that they were far too lengthy for Oliver at age 5. 
Some of those Aaron read [on his own] and enjoyed. 

In addition to her top 50, 
I also used her Instagram recs to discover other amazing books. 
This included some great books about Ramadan, 
Muslim Faith ("The Proudest Blue" was outstanding)
books about body diversity ("Bodies Are Cool"), 
and so much more. 

**When I reviewed her IG, I could only count 49 books. 
But I'm saying we read 50 because 50 sounds better.