Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Ten on Tuesday.

1. New England is digging out from 3 feet of snow, yet here in Minnesota, in January, we barely have a dusting. More grass than snow. The whole entire point of winter is snow, so if it's not going to do that, it might as well be spring.

2. Fisher is having a visitor from Children's come to his class tomorrow to speak about Type 1 Diabetes. He is so excited about it being 'his day.'

3. While I was looking through photos to send to the representative from Children's, I thought I'd send along the link to the blog post where I wrote about his diagnosis. I had completely forgotten that there was a short video at the end of it, and oh my gosh my heartstrings. You can read the post here, and the video is at the end of it.

4. The weather here is downright balmy, which is contributing to the epic snowmelt. 30s and 40s are quickly becoming normal, instead of how we'd usually describe those temperatures in January: "hot."

5. Dinner tonight was the last quarter of our Christmas Eve meatloaf that we carefully freeze and save til we can no longer stand not eating it. Sad to see it go.

6. Alla was thankful, yes, for the delicious meatloaf, but even more for the mashed potatoes that so perfectly went with it.

7. That girl had her winter orchestra festival last night, and played lovely. I am hoping that she sticks with the violin.

8. Fisher is looking forward to his first chess club this Sunday at the library, and Alla is looking forward to her Advanced Knitting Class for the next two Tuesdays. Again, at the library. I love our library. There are always like fifteen things waiting for us.

9. I'm just going to say one more time that we would love a big storm. A real good dumping, crippling dumping of snow. We will stock up and stay put, and make fires and play outside. We live in Minnesota, so I feel like we deserve it.

10. So, Super Bowl this Sunday. I do not love football, like at all, but my family loves nachos. Nacho Sunday, then!

Monday, January 12, 2015

My Favorite Books of 2014.

In 2014 I read 58 books, and these are my 5-star picks. I am very happy that I get to sit down with my children at bedtime (Ron and I alternate reading nights, and each have our own book we're reading with them), because this allows me to read more books and push my own reading agenda.

Of the 58 books, 12 were books I read aloud to them.

43 were either middle grade or young adult, but most of those 43 were definitely middle grade. I love middle grade children's literature.

In my 5-star Top Ten here, all but two are either middle grade or young adult, five were read aloud to the kiddos, and two (Flora & Ulysses and The False Prince) were books I re-read from previous years.

Notes about some:

I'll Give You the Sun Goodness those chapters were long, which is not my preferred style of book, as it is harder to feel accomplished if you're endlessly in the middle of the chapter, but it was so worth seeing those two perspectives come together by the end.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry and A Man Called Ove tied for my favorite books of the year, though I'll Give You the Sun was close behind.

It is really too hard to pick a favorite middle grade book, so I'll single out Rain Reign, simply because it is the only middle grade of the bunch that I read on my own, versus to the kids.

For read aloud, though, you really cannot go wrong with anything by Jonathan Auxier, and I have a feeling we'll be in withdrawal a bit this year without one of his splendid adventures.

I've now perused the Best of lists from all.the.places. and have made quite a ginormous list to read in 2015. It's quite laughable, however, when I compare the "official" to-read list with what I actually end up reading. Invariably, a kiddo will thrust something surely spectacular in my hands, or something new will show up on my radar, and every December I am left wondering why I didn't stick to my list? Why did I ever make the list?

Because for a reader, half the fun is in the discovery of new books, especially, with the goodness of Goodreads, as they appeal to others.

May 2015 be a happy reading year!

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Ten on Tuesday.

(dusting off keyboard)

It's been too long, but there is something to be said for a break. Also Life proceeded whilst I was away from the keyboard, which means there's loads of back material there. Maybe that's the ticket. Just step away for awhile, live life, take pictures, come back and play catch up. I'll think it over, and in the meantime we'll just start 2015 nice and easy with a traditional Ten on Tuesday.

1. It's cold here. Thankfully Ron got me the perfect Christmas gift (from Etsy!), my very own Snock. Don't laugh, I'm toasty.

2. Due to the arctic temperatures, my skin is dry as a desert. Currently on the lookout for a new moisturizer that will make me look less like a crocodile. I wonder when companies formulate moisturizers for 'dry skin' if they really know what dry skin in a Minnesota winter looks like.

3. Over the Christmas break we watched season 1 of the wonderfully British Happy Valley. Highly recommend.

4. I also read two wonderful books, A Man Called Ove and The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. Both highly recommend.

5. I believe my holiday photos are still on my camera, due mostly to #3 and #4.

6. Over the two-week break from school, I was rarely asleep before eleven (see #4), and rarely awake before eight. Consequently yesterday morning was quite a shock.

7. We saw two movies, Annie and Into the Woods. Rent the former, GO SEE THE LATTER. Soon.

8. Appetizers in front of a movie (Elf) on Christmas Eve works out very well.

9. One thing I love about December is the onslaught of Best of booklists. One thing I love about January is the forthcoming Newbery and other medals, so I can add even more books to my list for this year, which reminds me that my own Best Books list is forthcoming.

10. As I type this the temperature sits at three above and the windchill hovers at seventeen below, and I am hoping that our school district will close tomorrow and we can have a day at home to do, oh, all the random wonderful stuff we did for the last two weeks.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

No shortage of books.

Tonight my lovely daughter told me, after learning that I had picked up new books at the library today, that If there were ever one thing we were short on, it would NOT be books.

Very, very true. We take books seriously here. We probably won't ever have enough bookshelves and baskets for them all. I spent a good chunk of my day at the very least thinking about what I'm reading or going to read next or when I can read again. I hope we are passing this on to our children.

They just finished these books: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul (Fisher), and Magic in the Mix (Alla). Both recommended!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Ten on Tuesday.

1. Whew! We made it to California and back successfully!

2. We went from flip flops and sweating while out for short walks, to Uggs and temps in the 30s when we landed at home two days later, to snow boots and gloves and back-breaking shoveling the next day.

3. The reunion itself was AMAZING. Can't say that enough, to be around people who you don't get to see regularly, and others you haven't seen since graduation, it was just so fun to catch up. If you happen to be in charge of planning your high school reunion, take some notes from the classy ladies that put on ours: a wine bar. Super casual (well I still had to wear heels, ugh!), lots of mingling, a slideshow (!!) of during and after high school, even gift bags. Seriously, girls, you OUTDID yourselves.

4. So, our flight was delayed coming home and we spent 3+ hours in LAX. In. Instead of out, where the sunshine was. Thanks a lot United. Speaking of which, I still have to go and claim my lame gift to try and make up for making me late picking up my children.

5. And getting groceries. No time for that Sunday night, it was 9:00 when they got to bed as it was. So we ate frozen peas on Monday. But today I shopped! The lady in line behind me at Target, as well as the cashier, both commented on the amount of produce I was buying. I admitted to them I really was starting at zero.

6. Spent 3 hours at the Honda dealer this morning having that airbag recall done.

7. Good thing I had a book: Orange Is the New Black.

8. Now that we're getting down to the end of the year, I've had to narrow down my to-read list, which means prioritizing what I can actually read before December 31, which means the following: Station Eleven, A Man Called Ove, and Rain Reign. I'd also really like to read Unbroken before the movie comes out, but let's face it, I'm going to see that on Netflix, so I have some time.

9. When you've just returned from a short trip, had a snowstorm that impedes driving, spent 3 hours at a car dealer, and then finally done the weekly grocery shopping, you need an easy meal: Crockpot Chicken Tacos, which assumes only that you have some defrosted chicken and a few taco-ish ingredients on hand.

       Brown salt and peppered chicken in a little butter and olive oil for a few minutes on each side. Place in crockpot. Add some chicken broth to the pan to deglaze. (I know it's an easy meal but this step isn't hard, so don't skip it or else you're leaving all those flavorful browned bits out of your taco dinner.) Add in some green or red salsa, stir into the broth and browned bits. Pour over your chicken in crockpot, add a little more salsa and mix around in the crock. Turn on high and leave for 3-4 hours. Serve, obviously, with your favorite taco fixins, which for us  are: cheese, guac, sour cream, red pepper slices, and SLAW. The slaw always makes the taco.

10. Lastly, thank you military service people, who are too many to list, but specifically my husband, my brothers, and my father in law.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Ten on Tuesday.

1. Not sure what I feel best about today - voting, running, or selling (yes selling!) the kids' leftover Halloween candy. I can tell you what they were happy about. Earning three dollars eaches for that haul.

2. I went to the dermatologist last week and she told me my daily SPF 15 (that I love) was not cutting it and I needed SPF 30, so there's your PSA for the week: get your SPF 30 on every single day.

3. This weekend is my 20th high school reunion celebration. 20 years.

4. What I'm really thinking of is what I am going to read on the plane.

5. Alla found a new read that she says is going to be as good as Half Upon a Time. She can tell from the first chapter.

6. Dinner has been a nightmare lately. One kid hates soup. One kid hates chicken. I'm going to start eating dinner someplace else just to avoid the whole thing. Anyone want to invite me? I might have a few diet restrictions, too, though.

7. At least we have vegetables. In the regular rotation: broccoli (roasted), carrots (raw), beets (when I can get them, sliced and roasted), green beans (roasted), red peppers (raw), sweet potatoes (sliced and roasted with coconut oil and cinnamon). Of course the grown ups around here have a whole slew of other vegetables we like, so there's often a series of them on the table, but still I think we can expand our regulars.

8. Kids are looking forward to seeing Big Hero 6 this weekend!

9. Kids also have a 3 day weekend this weekend, lucky ducks.

10. The temps are dropping so I am no longer craving the iced beverages of summer. It is time for the Hot Toddy. Cheers!

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Sunflowers are the best.

That gardening girl of mine got one lucky sunflower this year to grow big and tall in a pot on the deck, and didn't break when the winds came due to some yarn love. Next year we're hoping to plant tons of them, in the hopes that a squirrel couldn't possibly gobble them all. Until then, we have this beauty to brighten our days.