Sunday, July 9, 2017

2017 Reads! and top 5

2017 Reads? We're only half way through the year! I know, I know, but I made it my goal this year to read 30 books this year (same number as my age). I just finished my 30th book and am excited to share the complete list with you along with my top 5. I am so glad I decided to really commit myself to reading this year. I have enjoyed every book and reading just makes me better. It makes me think deeper, connect more, improves my writing, and is just plain fun too. I decided to continue keeping track of my books for the year via instagram, just for fun!

Without Further Ado, here are my 30 books:

1. Winter Street by Elin Hilderbrand
2. Ruthless by Ron Miscavige
3. Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult
4. The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell
5. Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist
6. Giddy Up Eunice by Sophie Hudson
7. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
8. A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams
9. Hey Harry, Hey Matilda by Rachel Hulin
10. Barefoot by Elin Hilderbrand
11. The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines
12. What I Know For Sure by Oprah Winfrey
13. My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella
14. What She Knew by Gilly MacMillan
15. Room by Emma Donoghue
16. The Nest by Cynthina D'Aprix Sweeney
17. Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick
18. Happily Ever After by Trista Sutter
19. It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
20. The Clasp by Sloane Crosley
21. Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr John Townsend
22. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
23. One Less Problem Without You by Beth Harbison
24. Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple
25. An Unseen Angel by Alissa Parker
26. This is Not Over by Holly Brown
27. By The Numbers by Jen Lancaster
28. House Rules by Jodi Picoult 
29. Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
30. Sweet Bitter by Stephanie Danler

Here are my Top 5 (in no particular order)

1. A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams: I loved this book about friends set in the 1940's at a summery beach town. It is a perfect mix between a beach read, a romance, drama, and historical fiction. This book had everything and it wrapped up with a perfect ending. This was a long one, but I highly recommend it. 

2. Room by Emma Donoghue: I read this book in two days and loved it! The idea of the narrator as a child was brilliant and this book was fascinating. I knew right when I finished it that it would easily be in my top 5. One of the things I loved most about it was how it described life after captivity. The young boy is experiencing so many things for the first time and it's a delight reading about it from his childish mindset. 

3. This is Not Over by Holly Brown: This book was not even on my radar, I was just browsing through Nook books and saw it was on sale and took a chance on it. The story is told through back and forth viewpoints of two very different women and how their lives become intertwined. It was creepy, intriguing, and such an interesting premise. 

4. House Rules by Jodi Picoult: This book was a great family drama that spiraled into a courtroom drama involving an autistic boy and a suspicious murder in the community. I love how Picoult's stories are always told through many points of view. It shed some wonderful insight into Asperger's and really allows the reader to understand a little bit of what it must be like for those who have it. 

5. Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance: This book. So good! I got this one from the library and wished I had bought it so I could take notes in the margins and underline things. Beyond just an underdog story about how Vance emerges from his hillbilly roots to become a Yale educated lawyer, it is a stunning portrait of life for poor white communities in Appalachia. Do you ever wonder how Trump managed to win the election? Read this book. These are the lives of so many Americans clinging to a desire that their country will rescue them. 

Happy Reading, friends! 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Life Lately

Hi Everyone! Happy JULY! We are in the dog days of summer over here! I'm working on this post at Starbucks with an iced caramel machiato, a baseball hat, no makeup, freshly pedicured toes, and a little bit burnt from our afternoon swim today. That's pretty much summer life, huh?!

What's new over here?

My Classroom: AJ and I loaded up both our cars and brought a big haul to my new classroom. We got most of the heavy stuff, although I think we'll need to do another 2 car haul to totally clear out our house of my classroom stuff. I am absolutely ITCHING to start arranging desks and hanging things but I'll get to that after our trip this month. I popped into the teacher store this week and came out with a new theme: Up, up and away! So many cute things (and puns!) I can do with that theme. I've had chevron stripes for 2 years now and I'm ready to mix it up.
I saw this on facebook and I cracked up. Do not mess with elementary teachers when it comes to cute school supplies. 

Speaking of school starting, what did I spot at Hobby Lobby but all sorts of fall things! Ahh! I was like, what? It's the first week of July!! But then I wandered down the aisles and that attitude quickly faded away. So fun and festive! We bought a football yard decoration to bring to Hadley when football season begins. She is a Steele after all.

Back to summer, the season we are currently in. We celebrated the 4th with my parents at our town's breakfast and "town days." We all thoroughly enjoyed our $4 country breakfast served by the mayor and city council. That evening we went to a BBQ at our friends' house. We played Cards Against Humanity until we all practically died of laughter. Then we went home and tried to sleep even though it seemed like the bombs were falling. Anyone else in the Salt Lake Valley feel like the neighborhood firework situation was on another level this year? Maybe I'm just an old woman ("Get off my lawn!").

I've been reading a ton lately (hello pajama shorts and sweet sweet air conditioning) and am on book 29 of the year! I read these two last week and really enjoyed both. I couldn't put that Jodi Piccoult one down.

We've been doing a lot of cleaning and organizing at home, watching movies (we saw The Beguiled last weekend Meh), going for lots of walks, spending time at the gym, taking naps, reading, AJ's been working on our little garden (our tomatoes are out of control! AJ had to go buy more sticks to hold them up, the tomatoes are taking over the garden! My blueberries are sadly burnt to a crisp and we have 2 tiny jalapenos), I've been trying to make the blog more user friendly (if you are good at website design and want to help a sister out, let me know! I'll pay you in compliments and cookies), visiting with friends, AJ's been working a few nights a week, and we're just enjoying our days.

We think all the time what Hadley would be like if she were here. These summer months can be hard...I can't believe a year ago we were deep in the fog of grief and here we are now. There's a weird paradox with loss. As time goes on, your pain lessens and your wounds begin to heal. But with time also comes distance from when your loved one was with you. We're learning you never get through grief, you just learn to carry it with you. It makes your heart take a different shape. Being Hadley's mommy isn't just a piece of me or a chapter in my story: it's who I am. I saw this quote on Pinterest and was like yes, preach! I wouldn't wish the storm on anyone, but you're definitely not the same in the aftermath.

Enjoy your July, everyone!