Thursday, September 29, 2016

Best Books From Summer 2016

It's hard to say when our summer was officially over. My oldest went back to school on August 3rd which was insanely early. On the other hand, my two younger girls were some of the last ones in our area to return to school. They were still sleeping in and spending days in the pool right up until the end of August. It was a strange limbo, and unlike some parents who couldn't wait to get the kids back in school, I was sad to see the summer end.

It's been a month since the first day that everyone went back and it feels like we are still struggling to settle into the routines of early mornings, school days, and homework. We've barely begun and I already miss the lazier pace of summer immensely.

Mostly, I love fall. I'm a big fan of cooler weather and fall colors, but with all that comes the frantic pace of busy school days. In the midst of that busyness, one thing I miss is having time to read. Years ago, I used to love to read, but forgot that passion when my kids were little and I was knee deep in dirty diapers and temper tantrums. Over the last couple of years, I have rekindled my enjoyment of picking up a good novel and getting lost in the story. With our feet firmly planted in the craziness of fall, I may not be able to read as much as I would like, but I will still be keeping a book on my nightstand and clinging to the memories of all the books I read this summer.

This summer, I read seven books and wanted to share them with all of you.

My three favorites were . . . . . 

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware. 
Somewhat reminiscent of The Girl on the Train, this book is a page turner. Lo, the main character, is a journalist trying to figure out where her life is going when she gets an amazing opportunity - a week on a small, luxury cruise liner with a small group of wealthy people. However, the trip quickly takes a terrible turn when Lo thinks she witnesses a murder. There are lots of surprises and twists that I never saw coming as Lo struggles to solve the mystery and the ultimate outcome was not at all what I predicted.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty.
This was the second of three Liane Moriarty books I read this summer and was, by far, my favorite. Three mothers - Celeste, Madeline, and Jane - unlikely friends who have two things in common.  1)Their children are in kindergarten at the same school and 2) they are all hiding something. With outtakes from witnesses artfully woven in, the book tells the story of their lives from the start of kindergarten up until the fateful night when someone ends up dead.

The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown.
I've been to Paris once and that was enough for me to fall in love with the city, so I may have had a slightly biased opinion of this book. Madeline is tired of living a life in which she has deserted her own dreams and aspirations in order to meet the expectations of her mother, her husband, and "society." When she nears a breaking point and returns to her mother's home, she discovers her grandmother, Margie's, journal written while she spent time in 1920s Paris. Reading the journals reveals a version of her grandmother Madeline has never known and helps her to make some decisions about her own life. This wasn't a thrilling page turner, but a story that unfolded steadily and I found myself desperately wanting to know how what paths Margie's and Madeline's lives would take.

My second place choices were . . . . .

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley.
Ten people on a small, private plane over the Atlantic ocean on a foggy night. One of those ten was Scott, an unknown, unsuccessful painter. He and a  four year old child, now heir to his family's immense wealth, were the only survivors when the plane went down. The chapters alternate between the past lives of each passenger leading up to the crash and the aftermath of it for Scott and others in present time. Was the crash purely chance? Bad weather? Or sabotage?

Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty
This was the third Moriarty book I read over the summer and I enjoyed it. Cat, Lyn, & Gemma are not only sisters, but triplets. They are best friends, but have very different lives. Lyn, the compulsive list maker, has her almost perfect little family. Cat  is struggling with infertility and a marriage that's on the rocks. Gemma is a drifter who can't seem to make a relationship last for more than six months at a time. This book chronicles the story of their 33rd year and all the ups and downs of life they endure together. 

A couple honorable mentions . . . . 

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
This was the first Moriarty book I read. In it, Alice, an almost 40 year old mother, takes a nasty spill at the gym and, bumping her head, wakes up thinking she is 29 & pregnant. She has no recollection of the past ten years of her life. She must put all the pieces of her life back together as she learns (and re-learns) all the things she has forgotten. So, why an honorable mention? Well, I personally found the premise to be rather ridiculous which made the whole thing feel like a bad soap opera episode. However, I really enjoyed Moriarty's style of writing (which is why I decided to read some other books by her) and that made the book entertaining despite my failure to embrace the plot.

Summer Sisters by Judy Blume
In 1977, Victoria's world is changed forever when she becomes "the chosen one" that popular Caitlin decides to take to her father's home on Martha's Vineyard for the summer. Although they are very different and their lives take very different paths, summers on the Vineyard become a tradition that solidify their friendship and bind them together as Summer Sisters. This book might have gotten a second place ranking if it had been authored by any other person. It was well written, but it had a fair amount of cursing and sex. I simply could not get over the fact that Judy Blume was the same person who wrote a book called "Freckle Juice" that my daughters loved when they were in SEOCND GRADE! It's typecasting and I wholeheartedly admit my guilt, but I just couldn't get past it enough to really enjoy the book. 

Now that summer is over, I know that time to sit and read will be scarce, but I have a Goodreads list full of possibilities and plenty of hours to spend in carpool lines!

Have you read any of the books on my list? What did you think of them? Got any others you would recommend?

Thursday, September 22, 2016


August 18th. That's the date of my last blog post. It's been just over a month since I opened up this tab on my computer and typed any words in this space. 

So, what's been happening? Life. That's what. 

Like everything in life, blogging is an ever evolving thing. For me, the "evolving" turned into de-volving. Since earlier this year, blogging had just become more of a burden than an enjoyable hobby. I was disheartened by having pieces rejected. I was feeling restricted regarding what I could write about and completely out of fresh ideas. I was overwhelmed by the obligation to blog I had imposed on myself and the guilt I felt at the thought of losing connections to blogging friends. 

Finally, I reached a boiling point, said to myself, "To heck with it all!" and stepped away.

I told myself I would write if I felt like it and when I had time, but I WOULD NOT let it be something else on my to-do list that stressed me out anymore. Then, "if I felt like it and when I had time" became "I haven't even looked at my own blog or read anyone else's in over a month."

The thing is, though, I can't say I've even really missed it. 

Maybe that's because, with the kids back in school and it being one of the "busy seasons" at my own job, I just haven't had time to think about blogging - or the fact that I haven't blogged. 

Maybe it's because with a not-so-new-anymore part time job, I no longer crave the validation blogging once provided.

Maybe it's because I'm just in a different season of life with different priorities now. 

Maybe it's because I just needed a break for a while. 

Maybe -probably- it's some combination of all of the above. 

There hasn't been any big, official "I'm on hiatus" announcement - and there won't be- because maybe I'll keep writing sometimes. Maybe I won't. Maybe I'll suddenly have a flurry of ideas and start posting regularly again. Maybe it will just fade away completely. 

Right now, I don't know those answers and, for once, I'm okay with that. 

Maybe I'll come back full force sooner or later and, if I do, this little space I've created will be here waiting. Hopefully, some of you will still be here, too. 

Maybe I'll never post anything ever again. I hope that's not what happens, but I think I'd be alright if is was. 

Maybe, I'll continue to move forward and find some sort of middle ground eventually that can be enjoyable, but not stressful. 

In the meantime, thanks for (maybe) nothing that I haven't been posting anything, (maybe) wondering why, and hanging around anyway. 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Back To School Blues

As I was just about to begin typing this, my middle daughter, who will soon be starting 6th grade, came into the room carrying a pencil case and announced, "Look mom! I've created an emergency kit to keep in my locker at school! It has lotion, band aids, ponytail ties, hand sanitizer, and tissues." 

Obviously, she is ready to go back to school.

Many parents are counting down the seconds until they can send their kids back to the classroom, too. They are looking forward to some alone time or returning to a normal work schedule without worrying about baby-sitters. They are tired of hearing "I'm bored!" a hundred times a day and feeling like cruise ship entertainment directors -without, of course, the perks of living on a cruise ship!

Me? Not so much. 

My daughter is ready. Other parents are ready. I'm not ready. 

I have a bad case of the Back to School Blues because I don't want summer to end. (Although it already kind of did when my oldest daughter started school on August 3rd!!!)

While I'm not a fan of the summer heat, I am a fan of sleeping in and staying up late(ish). I'm a fan of afternoons in the pool and my husband grilling something for supper. I'm a fan of beaches, and mountains, and new places to visit. I'm a fan of reading books because I actually have time and not driving my minivan anywhere at all some days. I'm a fan of less stress and more fun and relaxing. 

I don't want to go back to school.

I don't want to go back to early morning wake-ups and packing lunches. I don't want to go back to homework battles and crazy schedules. I don't want to go back to car pool lines and PTA pleas for help or money. I don't want to go back to stress and chaos.  

I may be one of the few, but I am not ready for back to school.

I cannot stop it, though. My oldest has already gone back and my two youngest have less than two weeks left. My Facebook feed is littered with "First Day of School" pictures and stores are bursting with back to school sales. We've even been back to school shopping ourselves and, materially speaking, we're all ready. 

Mentally, though, I'm not ready. 

When I was a teacher, this time of year was a time of excitement and preparation. Now, as a mom, it feels more like an ending rather than a beginning. 

Maybe that's why I'm feeling so unprepared. Endings. 

This will be my youngest daughter's last year in elementary school (she'll be in the 4th grade, but their school bumps 5th graders up to middle school) and, in 4th grade, they get lockers. It seems my "baby" is not really a baby much at all anymore.

My middle starts 6th grade - traditionally considered the first year of middle school. She's growing, changing, and maturing. I had a talk with her the other day about "girl things," and, oh, I am SO not ready for my crazy, quirky girl to go down that road.

My oldest started high school a couple weeks ago. For the last two weeks, I feel like I barely see her anymore. She spends all day at school and most of the evening in her room doing homework. She only has three more first days left. Then, I will be dropping her off at college instead of in the carpool line. 

The beginning of a new school year equals the bittersweet ending of summer and so much more. I may not be ready, but my girls are. They're ready to take on a new school year. They're ready, in fact, to take on the world. And, ready or not, I'll be right there supporting them, encouraging them, and soaking it all in. 

I have the Back to School Blues because school beginnings also mean endings. @TheGoldenSpoons

I'm linking up with Kristi at Finding Ninee for Finish the Sentence Friday. This week's sentence was "Back to school . ."
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