Books: 2018

    1. The Twelve by Justin Cronin
    2. Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella
    3. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
    4. The Here and Now by Ann Brashares
    5. Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
    6. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
    7. Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny
    8. The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman
    9. The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin
    10. The Sun is also a Star by Nicola Yoon
    11. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
    12. Faithful by Alice Hoffman
    13. A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
    14. The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson
    15. The Mothers by Brit Bennett
    16. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
    17. The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman
    18. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
    19. The Selection by Kiera Cass
    20. The Secret Place by Tana French
    21. The Elite by Kiera Cass
    22. The One by Kiera Cass
    23. A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray
    24. The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
    25. Still Life by Louise Penny
    26. Artemis by Andy Weir
    27. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
    28. The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman
    29. The Heir by Kiera Cass
    30. The Crown by Kiera Cass
    31. Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith
    32. The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
    33. A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay
    34. The Assistants by Camille Perri
    35. A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny
    36. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
    37. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
    38. Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli
    39. Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane
    40. Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
    41. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
    42. PS. I Still Love You by Jenny Han
    43. The Opposite of Everyone by Joshilyn Jackson
    44. Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han
    45. A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George R. R. Martin
    46. Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman
    47. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
    48. My (Not So) Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella
    49. Less by Andrew Sean Greer
    50. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
    51. The Lost Island by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
    52. An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green
    53. Educated by Tara Westover
    54. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
    55. One Day in December by Josie Silver

2018 was one of the best reading years I’ve had in a looooong time. I looked back at all of the years I’ve logged my books here (going back to 2005), because I was convinced I’d read more books this year than ever, but back in the pre-kid days, I did have a few other days of reading 50+ books in a single year. However, I did read more in 2018 than I have since 2011, and that is certainly an accomplishment. My goal was to read 43, and I exceeded that by quite a lot.

I’ve written in previous year-end reading summaries that reading a lot is what makes me feel like myself, and realizing that and prioritizing reading in my life over the past year and a half has made such a difference, especially as life has gotten difficult. Reading does so much for me and especially as I have next-to-no time for any of my old hobbies, I’m glad that I’ve found a way to make time for so many books. It’s my primary stress reliever, and I’m happy to have realized that and done whatever I can to make space for it in my life.

Over half of my total 55 books for the year were audiobooks. For anybody wondering how I have time to read so much – I spend 2ish hours in the car every weekday, and in 2018 I chose audiobooks over podcasts or music almost every time. Most of the audiobooks are through the library’s apps (Overdrive and lately, the newer app Libby), but we joined Audible (Dan and I are sharing an account) over the summer. That has been nice, too, as there’s a limit to what I can find from our county library on audio.

My favorite books of the year were Ready Player One, The Almost Sisters (both spectacular on audio), the first two Louise Penny books, and the first two books in the Court of Thorns and Roses series. I adored To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and its sequels, as well. I even read a few nonfiction books this year, and Educated was astonishing, and I still think of it often.

For 2019, my goal will be to keep up this approximate reading pace, and read 52 books. Looking back at my reading goals over the past ten or so years, I very frequently resolve to read classics and very infrequently actually read them. But I would like to actually read a classic I haven’t read before in 2019. I’d like to read other books by authors I’ve enjoyed over the past year and a half (Liane Moriarty, Louise Penny, Joshilyn Jackson, Kristin Hannah, Tana French) and mostly continue to spread my reading over lots of genres to keep from getting into a rut. What was your favorite book of 2018?

 

 

In Previous Years…
Books Read in 2017
Books Read in 2016
Books Read in 2015
Books Read in 2014
Books Read in 2013
Books Read in 2012
Books Read in 2011
Books Read in 2010
Books Read in 2009
Books Read in 2008
Books Read in 2007
Books Read in 2006
Books Read in 2005

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2018 in seconds

For a second year, I’ve been using the 1 Second Everyday app to document our lives. Although I’ve documented a lot of my years with daily photo projects, it got a lot harder to keep up once Ben and Jojo were part of our lives… while also being more important than ever to capture these fleeting moments. I could not love this project more, and seeing these little tidbits brings so much joy. 2017 and the first half of 2018 were more difficult than anything I’ve ever faced, and this project has made it so much easier to really SEE how very much there is to be grateful for, even when things feel so dark. It sort of kills me to see how little the kids are in the first half of this video (don’t even get me started on 2017’s video!) but it’s just so mindblowing how much they’ve grown and learned and blossomed this year. I can’t wait to keep going with this in 2019.

2017 in seconds

I started documenting our lives using the 1 Second Everyday app in February, and I couldn’t have known then how much would happen this past year. It was the hardest year I can ever remember, for so many reasons, and this project made it so much easier to remember how much there is in our lives that is still so, so good. I’ll be forever grateful to it for that reason. It’s crazy how something that sounds so simple and small- one second of video every day, all mashed together at the end- can be so happy and hopeful and wonderful. I’ve shared each month’s video as I made them, but wanted to save the full video here for posterity. It’s absolutely astounding how much can change in a year, and I can’t wait to continue this project in 2018!

Ben in February

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Taking posed photos of Ben is more and more difficult, as this was the best we could get when we tried a Valentine’s Day photoshoot. His love for Big Bunny is epic lately.

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Something about toddlers sitting at the real table like they’re people makes them seem soooo much bigger.

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This is Ben’s “UGH why aren’t you complying to my demands without question?!” expression.

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This was a regular weekday morning for us, and we had a lovely chat about blueberries during breakfast, and it was so freaking adorable I always want to remember it.

In 2016, I’m taking a photo of Ben each week with my real camera.

Ben in January

Although I only halfway succeeded at my 2015 attempt to take a photo of Ben once a week with my real camera, I couldn’t resist starting the project again for 2016. Because the whole point is that I need to be taking more photos of him with my actual camera. So here are the weekly photos of Ben from January!

1/52Thanks, I think, to my dad, Ben totally cheeses for the big camera now. I think it started as a reaction to the flash, but who even cares when he’ll smile like this for you on cue?

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As much as he’s still my baby, the glimpses of Ben as a kid are way more frequent lately. Like when he was sitting in the kitchen, just reading the NutriBullet manual.

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Sit him in a snow drift almost as tall as him? No thank you. Let him run up and down the shoveled path in the driveway? All day forever. This kid LOVES being outside. Even in really cold weather with wet feet, apparently.

4/52Ben’s new favorite game is dragging a kitchen chair to the sink to play. Which means there’s an entirely new area that is no longer a safe place to leave things that aren’t for toddlers.

In 2016, I’m taking a photo of Ben each week with my real camera.

Hello, 2016

It’s the new year, and this season always makes me reflective (whether I’ve been in the habit of blogging or not). As much as I’ve been reading this year that it’s an arbitrary change, that you can make a resolution to change or choose a word any day, just start!… it’s hard to ignore how refreshing it is to turn the page to January and have a whole year ahead of you to start over.

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2015 was a really great year; at the start of the year, I was emerging from the fog of new motherhood and beginning to see how I could fit my old self into my new life. Instead of one little word, I chose “just start” to inspire 2015, and I think I did a pretty good job of keeping that in the back of my mind. I started taking Ben to classes at the baby gym, I became a member of the local MOMs Club (and a regular member of their book club, which I’m so glad I did). I even exchanged numbers with a few moms, I mean, who am I even.

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And then at the end of the summer, we found out that we’re going to have another baby, which is so exciting and hard to comprehend all at once. I’ve been finding it almost hard to remember that I’m pregnant the past few months, despite my intense aversion to all meat (huh? so weird) and the fact that I spent most of Ben’s naptimes from September through November napping myself just so I could make it to 9pm each night. Taking care of Ben all day every day has a way of completely taking over my brain space. We found out in early December that it’s a girl and you guys, I’m still SO surprised. Although basically everyone we know had decided it was a girl, I became convinced it was actually a boy (as a way to be contrary? I don’t even know). So then I think I ended up being the only one who was surprised by the news.

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But you guys, a girl. A daughter! In some ways, being the mother of a daughter scares me so much more than having a son. How do I make sure she doesn’t have the same anxieties that I do? How do I help her be strong and brave and kind? (I mean… then I think about it and of COURSE it’s going to be just as hard to help teach Ben these things. But I don’t know. I always had more male friends than female and don’t even get me started about my aversion to glittery pink things and princesses.)

But then I picture a little dark-haired girl with bangs and I can’t imagine not having a daughter. I’m so excited. Now that the holidays are over and I’ve had a little more time to get used to the idea that this baby in there is a girl (it is seriously so weird to know already, after not knowing for almost 40 weeks with Ben!), now that it’s 2016, it’s like oh RIGHT. We’re having a baby in a few months. Maybe we should like… prepare or something. (Oh my goodness, you have no idea the task ahead of me cleaning out the craft room closet…. just thinking about it gives me the shivers.)

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Ben is … well, he’s Ben. He’s exhausting and funny and SO strong-willed and sometimes kinda impatient and obsessed with anything with wheels and busy busy busy. He understands so much, and although he doesn’t say any of the “normal” first baby words like mama or dada or bye, he learned windmill this week, so, you know. I feel like that says a lot about him in general. It amazes me how fast he’s learning, and watching him figure things out is so much fun. Honestly, half the time, I just hang out and watch him, like what’s he going to do next? He gets so MAD at me when I tell him not to do something and it’s hilarious because he lays it on SO thick with the crocodile tears and hurling himself to the floor… but it’s also SO frustrating (especially when it happens in places like Target). Dan and I wonder a lot about how much of this is just toddler stuff, like the pre-terrible twos, and how much is his personality. I guess we’ll find out in a few months. Oof.

When I get started wondering how difficult a terrible-two Ben is going to be, and then I realize that’s about when we’ll have another baby to take care of, I start to get really freaked out. It was never a question for either of us that we wanted to have at least one more baby; having siblings has been one of the absolute best things for both me and Dan. Giving Ben siblings is something we have wanted to do from day one. And I know it will be an adjustment, a few months of survival mode, for all of us. On the days when Ben is being an extra big handful, it’s hard to imagine needing one of my hands for another person. …. And then I think about tiny onesies and newborn baby smell and getting to watch another baby learn all of these things for the first time and I’m back to being cool about it. (It’s complicated.)

So…. that’s about a million words about what’s happening these days. As much as I don’t miss blogging per se, or the pressure to figure out what to write about on a regular basis, I do miss having a reason to write stuff like this out. I’m always glad to have moments captured in time after the fact. So while I’m not saying “I’m back!” I’m also not going to stay completely away, if that makes any sense.

Happy 2016, dudes. 🙂

364 Days of Motherhood

I’ve been typing and erasing sentences for ten minutes now, trying to figure out how to begin this post. It’s hard to know how to put it into words, this whole fact that I’ve been a mother for almost a year, that Ben has been around for that long. It seems impossible to me. I know people often say that they can’t imagine life before their kids were born, and it’s not like I’ve forgotten what it was like to sleep past 6:30am or how to participate in conversations with adults and actually use the right words to make sentences… but it is also SO hard to get it through my head that there was a time when Ben wasn’t here. Sometimes I feel like I was waiting for him my whole life.

06.14.2014 :: tiny photoshoot

I wrote about motherhood when he was six weeks old, and how contradictory things felt then. Even re-reading that post before writing this one was strange, because it feels like a lifetime ago that we were still so deliriously tired, or that Ben was ever quite that small. When we see other parents when we’re out and about, they look at Ben and then to their 5/8/10/15 year old and just say, “You’ll blink your eyes, and he’ll be this big!” and I kind of hate that but wasn’t it just the other day that we were losing our minds at Ben’s first real smile? A million years and just a moment ago.

08.01.2014 :: his favorite spot

There seems to be two ways to talk about parenthood – some people write beautiful, poetic things about how every day is a gift and there’s magic in the smallest moments and how the day their baby was born was the best day of their life and make sure you savor every moment because they’re only this little once and everything is sunshine and rainbows… and others connect over how impossibly hard it is to be someone’s parent, how NOT sunshiney and actually covered-in-poop it can be. And it’s really both. (And that may be why I don’t know how to write about motherhood in the first place…) I don’t think I have EVER been as happy in my life as I have been in this past year. I think back to how angry I’d get over things that would go wrong at the various jobs I’ve had, and even on the bad days, I never feel that anger anymore. (Not that I won’t again soon, because you know what they say about toddlers…) But realizing that really makes me feel like I’m doing the right thing. Sometimes, I go to check on Ben before I go to sleep and I just can’t handle how much I love him and how he’s ours; the giant poster I printed with all of his monthly photos made me cry, just seeing it all in front of me at once. Whenever I try to write about how awesome he is, the words just don’t seem like enough, so I end up just saying “oh, this little guy” instead. And other times, when he’s just dumped the cat’s water bowl again and is pissed at me for taking it away, or he’s turning a simple diaper change into a challenge that’s what I imagine wrestling an octopus might be like… it’s so frustrating.

Ben, eight months old

I feel like my life makes SENSE now; I’m good at being Ben’s mom and that makes me feel amazing. And yet, we bought a minivan a few weeks ago and I’m struggling with the idea that not only am I “only” a mom, but I’m a stay at home, minivan-driving mom who doesn’t have a lot to talk about that’s not her baby and how his naps went today.

I suppose the one thing I can say about motherhood is that it’s one giant contradiction. It’s wonderful and it’s strange. I feel more myself than ever before, but I also don’t really recognize myself some days.

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Sometimes people ask if I miss working, and I don’t, not even a little bit. I’m actually growing to like the minivan and its 15 cupholders. (Maybe they’ll finally make me surrender my Hipster Club membership card!) I love taking Ben to storytime and his classes at the baby gym. It’s all going so fast, but he’s so funny and fun to be around and I miss him so much when I do get out by myself to do things that aren’t taking care of a baby.

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I’m rambling, as ever, but mostly, it comes down to this: this little brown-eyed boy, my impossibly wonderful little baby and this life the three of us have? It’s just the best. I’ve wanted to be a mom for my whole life and it is everything I hoped it would be, every little bit of it.