What I Read: June ’16

A House for Happy Mothers by Amulya Malladi: This was a quick pool time read about two women, linked by surrogacy. I found the stories of both the Indian-American mother and Indian gestational mother to be truthful and heartfelt. The ending was not a surprise, nor were there any plot twists and turns but I really enjoyed this uplifting novel.

The Last Woman Standing: A Novel by Thelma Adams: Another Kindle First book! I ADORED this one! It’s a piece of historical fiction that tells the story of Josephine Marcus, lured out west by a smooth talking lawman, Jonny Behan, and her relationship with the famous Earps. Adams has reframed the famous shoot out at the OK Corral through a spunky and independent female voice. Granted, I love historical fiction but I really enjoyed this one. (Warning, there are some spicy bits if that isn’t your thing).

The Country of Ice Cream Star by Sandra Newman: I added this to my queue back in January as part of my Read Harder challenge. This post-apocalyptic literary epic tells the story of 15 year old Ice Cream Star as she is forced to grow up much too fast in a world built on the debris of a collapsed America. The language is unique and reminded me of reading Shakespeare – slightly different from modern English but once you’re a few pages in, the cadence finds itself. This is something I’d have never sought out myself but I’m glad I read it!

What I Watched: Ex Machina, X Men: First Class, (Dis)Honesty: The Truth about Lies,

What I Read: May ’16

So much Read Harder progress this month!

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald: This was a fast read and it was just OK. I didn’t like some of the sexist overtones and found the movie to be a bit trite.

Girl Waits with Gun (Kopp Sisters #1) by Amy Stewart: I really enjoyed this novel set in the early 1900’s about Constance Kopp, who doesn’t fit the demur mold expected of her at the time. She’s an excellent detective and I was happy to learn there were more books in the series. There are some language that is definitely not accurate for 1914 but I found it easy enough to overlook.

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks: I found this set of oral histories a unique approach to storytelling. This is something I would have never picked up without this challenge and I’m glad I did!

The Witches: 1692 by Stacy Schiff: This was much more dense than I was expecting! Schiff explores the Salem witch craze and trials of 1692 thru a thorough and critical lens. If you’re interested in this period of history at all, I highly recommend this deep dive into the details of what happened and how it happened.

What I Watched: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, Deadpool, Ali Wong: Baby Cobra, Scenes from A Marriage, Tomorrowland, The Bicycle Thief, Mr. Holmes

thoughts in getting outside


Confession time: I hate the term adventuring. Just, ugh, that’s a noun – not a verb! It is only ever used to imply that time outside that is grand, unique and big is only time that counts. And frankly, that’s a heaping load.

I hiked quite a bit during our Great Smoky Mountains trip and I loved (almost) every minute of it. We didn’t summit Chimmey Tops but hiked most of the way, as well as Clingman’s Dome to Mt. Bucky, most of Cade’s Cove and several quiet walkways. While the quiet walkways are not well signed (unlike everything else in the park!), they might have been one of my favorite parts of our hiking. They are not as well used or well maintained but they are really quiet and peaceful. If you go – check out one or two!

On another note, I do have some thoughts about serious day hiking while pregnant. M did carry the bigger bag with our camera, the big backpacking first aid kit, trail lunch stuff and snacks as well as the majority of our water. But good practices mean that you never go out without some gear for yourself, so I carried my Flash 18 with a liter of water, raincoat, hat and a smaller first aid kit. Do not fasten the waist belt but don’t go out without water. Pack in your TP and pack it out (don’t be those people…pack it out!) Be OK with taking it slower than you normally do – especially at altitude.

I walk outside, on a greenway path, for just 30 minutes a day – nearly every day. I’ve watched the trees change from vibrant jewel tones, to bare and 15 shades of brown and gray and then spring back to life. I’ve heard the bird song change, quiet and swell again as the season change. I’ve even gotten better at identifying some birds – including a blue heron and hairy woodpecker, just steps from home. No, it isn’t climbing mountains but there is more to enjoying (and protecting) our nature world that bagging peaks.

One of my good girlfriends says that one of the secrets of parenthood is ‘when everything is awful, go outside’. And I suspect she’s right there. But I think it might be one the keys of personhood too – when everything is awful, GO OUTSIDE. When you’re mindlessly scrolling thru Facebook or Instagram, GO OUTSIDE. Maybe even leave your camera phone at home (I do this on my walks and it drives M bananas) – no one needs to see pictures of the birds you’ve spotted or sights you’ve seen for that time to be a balm for the soul.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

We had the best last vacation before baby! [I’ve since heard baby moon used to describe the time where you cocoon as a family once baby arrives and I find that concept very sweet!) It was really important to me that we took some time away from the busyness and prep to connect and relax.

We headed down Great Smoky Mountains National Park for several days. We stayed in a cabin in Pigeon Forge, rather than camping in the park. We did a great mix of hiking every day, hanging out at the cabin, and exploring the area. We hit up Chimmey Tops, Cade’s Cove, Clingman’s Dome and several ‘quiet walkways’ which are trails that are much less maintained than other named trails. Here are a few of my favorite snaps from the trip!



Sorry, I can’t think of just that word and not think of this.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how we build family traditions and which ones we hold onto and which ones we claim for ourselves and baby families. Here are some of my favorite traditions from our baby family.

National Parks – we always purchase a coffee up at each National Park we visit. We don’t try to get them to match but reflect each trip. M also purchases a cloth patch for his day pack (sadly, he doesn’t go backpacking enough to put them on his 60L).

State Fair – this one is more from me than us but I have only missed one Ohio State Fair in my whole life. It was the summer we got married and I picked a date that put us on our honeymoon smack in the middle of the fair and we had to rush back to Chicago to get back to work. We’ve even pushed my love of the fair on one of our best friends. While I love everything about the fair, the only things I cannot live without are the lemon shake ups and the sky glider. I can’t wait to start bringing our little one to the fair too! (Although I doubt we’ll hit up the sky glider with a newborn).

celebrating my ribbon winning entry at the Ohio State Fair 2015!

Birthdays – we got married young and really didn’t have any money for fancy presents for a while (and now, we just choose to do other things with that money) so this one grew out of necessity. We bake each other homemade cakes – and not from a box – for our birthdays! It takes some time and usually makes a big old mess but we usually try a new recipe. It’s such a meaningful gift.

Christmas – M’s family does a pickle present and we do have a pickle ornament, although with only two of us, there hasn’t been much point in hiding one on our real tree, which makes the whole apartment smell amazing. We also only get each other stockings, it forces us to be more creative and it feels very abundant to get so many gifts! Even if some of them are just boxes of Star Wars bandaids. Another thing I love is that we also go do one touristy, crazy festive thing each December. It might be ice skating at night, or going to see the play version of It’s Wonderful Life, or going to ZooLights. Since we aren’t wedded to the doing the same thing each year, we aren’t bogged down in traditions that aren’t meaningful [and just because you did something once, doesn’t mean you have to do it forever] and we still get into the festive spirit.

at a dickens of a christmas at Ohio Village, playing with dress up clothes, as one does
same event, M making traditional Victorian Christmas Tree ornaments

What I Read: April ’16

Our Town by Thornton Wilder: As part of my Read Harder challenge, I had to read a play. I couldn’t decide between this and Proof so I read both:) I really enjoyed this and would love to have read it in high school to have a big group of folks to discuss the themes of this play with. Between IB English and IB Theatre, I know we really could have dissected it!

Proof by David Auburn: This is a much more recent play than Our Town and I really enjoyed it. Its much more of a small cast and tight location but thought it explored mental illness and family pretty well.

What I Watched: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Minions

Sad to say, but I’m already seeing my reading slowing down and I expect more of the same this summer and fall.

What I Read: March ’16

The Merchant of Dreams (Night’s Masque #2) by Anne Lyle: I loved the first in their series and was happy to see where Mal and Coby were headed in the second of this trilogy! I really enjoyed it and loved exploring more of Lyle’s historical fantasy world. One thing I wasn’t expecting – there is quite a bit of sailing in this book and I had to look up several words! Love that a book that isn’t even on my Read Harder challenge is stretching me.

What I Watched: Finding Vivian Maier

project pan

I know there are folks who will think this is trite and to them I say, you may kiss my lily white booty any day of the week.

I am a make up lover. I love playing around with who I want to be each day and I spent a fair chunk of my free time watching tutorials on Youtube even though I don’t have a *crazy* collection. [at least to me, my sister has um, one mascara so I look like a damn hoarder next to her.] Anyhoozle, there is whole #projectpan thing that is all about ~wait for it~ using up the make up you purchase! Even though everything I own fits into one bag, I’ve thrown stuff out that I’ve bought because it started to smell off or it broke me out. The consumerist shame!

Things like blush and eyeshadow can take years to use up. So why am I buying cheap drug store shit I don’t like that was tested on animals? Since about this time last year, I’ve cut waaaay back on what I bring into the house make-up wise. BUT! Nothing is really going out either ~ I used up exactly one eyeshadow and one foundation in 2015.

So my personal project pan is to use up the Naked 2 and Naked Basics 2 I was given my M and my sister. They know me and love me and why am I letting these thoughtful presents sit and waste away? I’m trying to get to a one-in, one-out for everything with the deal with myself that if I really do use up something, I can replace it with something higher end and cruelty free – vegan if possible. Especially now that I know exactly how long it takes to use something up, I might as well have something I love to use.

Most of its in here. The goal is for everything to fit.