Thursday, May 23, 2019

Spring Life Energy List

I was listening to The Next Right Thing podcast with Emily P. Freeman.  I don't know which episode it was but she suggested making a life energy list as you close out a season and begin a new one.

As we near the end of May, a big season that is coming to a close is the school year with summer looming.  Since I've been out of school myself, I've considered Memorial Day weekend to be the kick-off to summer.  Which is remains mostly true but my son is still* in school next week.

(*I say still as if I can't believe they are still in school at the end of May when really I wouldn't mind going a week or two into June if I got us most of August.  August weather is generally better than late May/early June anyways!  I'm writing this on a day it feels like 43° outside and wrapped in a blanket.  In May.  Please give me more of August.)

But I can't get past the "Memorial Day weekend" is the beginning of summer mindset and school next week is stuff like field day and something called "kindergarten splash day" so I'm not really expecting him to learn much of anything.  Either way, the school year is finishing up and summer is coming.  That is a pretty big change and makes it a good time to make a list.  I love a good list.

Emily P. Freeman prompts: What is relevant to my life right now?  Right now as I close the past season and look forward to the next, these are the things that are giving me a little more energy or cheerfulness to my day.

1) Getting to bed maybe before it's fully dark outside.


2) Drinking a full water bottle (22 ounces) before anything else in the morning.
3) Talking with Matt uninterrupted by kids.
4) Being out of the shower, dressed, and fully around before waking up the boys (this super rarely has happened as of late.)


5) Sunshine and clear skies all day.  Or at least the parts of the day I am walking outside my house.
6) Going on runs on the way to pick-up (this has only happened a couple times but I am hoping for a few more before the end of the school year!).
7) Leaving the house clean (clutter picked up) before going to bed.
8) Leaving the kitchen clean (dishes stacked, counters wiped) before going to school drop-off (this doesn't always happen).
9) Having good leftovers for lunch.
10) Not having to think about what I'm having for lunch.


11) When Luke eagerly plays outside after school.
12) Getting his homework and chores done before supper.
13) Acknowledging that I don't need something I thought I did and passing up spending money.
14) A good run (few and far between lately).
15) Getting my hands in dirt, as much as I resist starting.


16) Finishing up projects and clearing them from my mental (and sometimes physical) list.
17) The days I skip washing my hair.
18) Leftovers for supper.
19) Eating supper outside.
20) Taking the boys to do something fun without meeting up with anyone (meaning I could easily cancel but don't).

What has been giving you life in this season?  No matter if you have a school year finishing up or not, summer is (maybe slowly) coming for the US!

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Backlist Summer Reading Guide

Summer is my favorite season for reading.  I always think about lazy summer days, reading next to the water - either the inflatable kiddie pool or at the lake.  Or reading in the lake cottage while someone naps.  Or even just lots of reading time on the front porch.  In my mind I always have a glass of something cold (sweet tea, mixed drink), the sun is shining, there is no pressing housework to do or meals to make, and the kids are either behaving or asleep. 

In reality, very little of my summer looks like this.  I will read almost every day this summer, maybe missing one or two (the horror!) but it's often before bed or while supervising bath time/asking why I am getting splashed when I am 5 feet away from the tub or in little snippets throughout the day.  The sun won't shine every day and there is pretty much always something that needs done around the house.

But I still look forward to summer reading.  I aim to read more than I do the rest of the year (my goal this year is 12 hours a week, up from the 10 I'm trying to hit now) and there are a lot of new books coming out that I am excited to read (I had my books picked for each June, July, and August two weeks ago).   Without school runs twice a day, I hope our days will be a little calmer and that we will still have plenty of lazy summer days.

With all the new books I am excited to read, my library holds are always maxed out (not hard when we only get 5).  They are maxed out year round but since I'll put my most anticipated summer reads on hold months before they are released, I have empty hold spots even less.  So I need a mix of new and old (and even some I own!) books to read. 

I called this list a backlist summer reading list, backlist meaning not the author's most recent book.  In some cases, at least one, the author hasn't written anything since BUT all of these are at least a year old which means the library hold lists are manageable.  I've read and enjoyed them all, in many cases having specific memories of reading them.  To me, that means that it was an enjoyable reading experience - the right combination of the right book at the right time.  These are all lighter books, almost all with a romance, many of them taking place in the summer.  If my library holds are taking too long to come in, these are the books I'd be pulling off the shelf in the meantime.


Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click on a product link, I’ll receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you.  I am a heavy library user and highly recommend them but thank you for helping support this blog if you decide to purchase!


The Shark Club by Ann Kidd Taylor 
When Maeve is a young girl she is bitten by a shark.  Years later, she becomes a marine biologist who travels the world, learning about sharks.  That's probably not the reaction I would have.  She returns to the hotel where she grew up and meets a young girl who is also really interested in sharks as well as reconnecting with an old crush.  What is she going to do, with the young girl following her around, with the old crush, and with her job with sharks?  This book taught me a few things about sharks as well as being a fun read.  (I wrote a whole post on it here.)

Fireworks by Katie Cotugno
This book is about teens trying to become popstars in Florida in the late 90s.  I think my semi-constant mention of the Backstreet Boys here makes it rather obvious that that's all I needed to know to want to read this book.  That might not work on everyone.  A girl with no interest in being a popstar tags along with her friend when the friend is meeting a big time music producer.  Both girls end up training to become pop stars and meet (of course) up and coming boy pop stars.  If you had any interest in the late 90s pop music craze, this was a really fun read. 

When Life Gives You Lululemons by Lauren Weisberger
This book was billed as the 3rd book in the "Devil Wears Prada" series.  I never read the original (but really enjoy the movie) but did read the second.  This book really has very little to do with that world besides Emily Charlton (Emily Blunt in the movie) being one of three main characters.  But 95% of the book would have worked fine if she was just given another name so don't be deterred if you haven't read the 1st two books in the "series".  Anyways, Emily is living in the suburbs of New York where there is quite the pressure to look perfect.  This book follows her and two of her friends as they navigate this life.  I usually enjoy a good book about the uber-rich, especially around NYC, since that is a life that will never be mine (and I'm fine with that).  It makes for a quite enjoyable read.


Italian for Beginners by Kristin Harmel 
This one is about a woman who has always played it safe but then her little sister gets married and Cat is feeling a little bored with her life.  She takes up an invitation from an old flame to spend a month in Italy.  Who wouldn't want to spend a month of the summer in Italy? (Ok, I don't really with kids in tow and all sorts of responsibilities here but it would have sounded a lot more temping 15 years ago).  The old flame is a bit of a dud but Cat decides to stay and just enjoy Italy.  She learns to let go and enjoy life.  Since most of us aren't running off to Italy this summer, this book is a good substitute.  And much cheaper than international flights.

Love Finds You at Sunset Beach, Hawaii by Robin Jones Gunn
While we're talking about jetting off for places...why not a week or two in Hawaii (that one I do have a little experience with).  Robin Jones Gunn might be my most read author and is about the only one I will buy books by without reading them.  She wrote my beloved Christy Miller series but this is her most stand alone novel (in my opinion).  It follows, Sierra, a character from the other books but you don't need to have read them for this to make sense (I think).  She goes to Hawaii to babysit her nephew while her sister is at a wedding and then Sierra spends a week on the North Shore with a friend.  She meets a guy, she has to decide what to do with her life, post Hawaii.  She watches surfing, she helps out her friend.  This might be my favorite of all her books and one I've read many times.  The paperback is strangely expensive on Amazon but, also, still cheaper than flying to Hawaii!

Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
This is YA, which just feels so right for the summer.  Maybe because I remember falling in love with my now husband over the summer when we were both teens?  This, like so much YA, takes place the summer after Amy (and Roger) graduate high school.  Amy's father has semi-recently died in a car accident and her mother has decided to relocate to the East Coast (from the West).  Amy is tasked with driving the car cross-country, something she doesn't want to do after her Dad's died in one.  Enter Roger, an old family friend, who also has reasons for driving across the country.  The take a slightly more scenic route, critique each other's music, and maybe become something more than just old family acquaintances. 

 
The Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams
Told in two time periods - 1951 and 1969, on an island off the coast of New England, with characters almost all with lots of money.  Miranda's mother has recently remarried and Miranda is now spending her summer among all these rich people where she doesn't feel she fits in.  She, instead, befriends the son of the man who runs the lighthouse, things go slightly amuck, and Miranda doesn't return to the island for 18 years.  I feel like an island off the coast of New England would still be rather chilly in the summer (although I have very little experience to back that up) but it makes for captivating reading. 


Fitness Junkie by Lucy Skyes and Jo Piazza
If you think our culture's obsession with weight and diets and restrictive eating and who knows what else is trending...is a little out of hand, well then this might be the book for you.  Janey is CEO of a couture wedding dress company and she's told she needs to lose 30 pounds before coming back to work.  She enters this crazy world of diets and all that comes with it, trying out a lot of different fitness regimes before settling on one run by a workout guru with a crazy following.  Things aren't quite what they seem.  It makes me feel better about not following any crazy diet but it was humorous reading about these people that do.


Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith
Another YA (they are a summer staple), this one about a girl who finally decides to tell her good friend that she's had a crush on him for YEARS when the lottery ticket she gave him for his birthday turns out to win the jackpot and then she can't really tell him NOW when everyone suddenly wants something from him and it would only seem like she's capitalizing on his new wealth.  Some lessons (we all probably know but these are teens) about money and what is really important in life (not money).  I gave it it's own post back here!


The Summer House by Hannah McKinnon
Flossy has brought her three grown children back to their family beach house for their father's 80th birthday.  OF COURSE there is drama, otherwise it wouldn't be a book.  All three of the grown kids have their own family problems to deal with and a lot of things escalate and come to a head in the time they are spending together.  It might make you either appreciate that you aren't or wish that you are spending a lot of time, together in the same house, with your whole extended family.  

Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin
Rachel has always been a good girl, doing exactly what she is supposed to, until the morning after her 30th birthday when she wakes up in bed next to her childhood (and current) BFF's fiance.  Rachel did like Dex first but then Dex started dating Darcy and they got engaged and Rachel is supposed to be the maid of honor....a lot of people do not great things in this book but it really is so much fun.  I was rooting for Rachel (Darcy is kinda the worst) all through the summer her and Dex are trying to figure out whatever this is. 

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
Dimple is excited to get away from her well intentioned but overbearing family for the summer to go to a summer program for aspiring web developers.  The (slight) problem is that there she meets Rishi.  Rishi and Dimple have an arranged marriage but only Rishi knows this.  Slight hijinxs ensue.  Dimple is a character I really wanted the best for and she's determined to do her best work in this summer program.  I still remember reading this one in about a day at the lake.  I am about due for a reread!
 

Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Hannah has no idea what she wants to do with her life, at the old age of 29.  Hannah moves back to her hometown of LA to crash in the guest room of her longtime friend.  The two girls go out to a bar that night where they run into Hannah's high school boyfriend, Ethan.  Ethan asks Hannah to come home with him.  Hannah's friend wants to take her back home.  The story splits from there and plays out both choices concurrently.  That makes for an interesting construct, something many of us probably wish we could do from time to time - see how things would play out with different choices!  What is really meant to be?
 
Beautiful Day by Elin Hilderbrand
Elin Hilderbrand's newest book is usually the one I will put on hold 2 months before it comes out.  This is one of my recent-ish favorites of hers - two familes gather on Nantucket for the wedding of their children.  All wedding choices are being made according to The Notebook - what the bride's mother left when she died with very specific instruction on how her youngest's wedding is supposed to go.  The story takes place in the days leading up to and through the wedding.  The bride and groom are happy but their family members have a lot of drama.  I almost always blow through her books in about a weekend and this was no exception.  A little heavier than others, with the mother long gone, but still pretty delightful.

Now I really want to go and reread all of these this summer!  If those library holds take too long that might be what I do!  Happy reading!

Thursday, May 16, 2019

A Day in the Life #10 (Luke 6, Sam 14 months)

I try to do these every 6ish months and it's SO interesting to me to look back and see how much our schedule and lives can change even when so many days feel the same.  I say this every time but I highly recommend the exercise to everyone - especially those in these years with young ones who are constantly growing and changing.  I'm not going to remember nearly every day I've spent with my boys but these give me a nice snapshot of a time in our lives!

Monday, May 13, 2019
5:55am - my alarm starts
6:15am - I get out of bed, change into workout clothes, go downstairs, do Moment screenshot, update podcasts, top off my water bottle, get to working out.
6:45am - Finished working out, log my water consumption (22 ounces down already!), switch from podcasts to music, get in the shower.  While I am getting clean, Matt gets up the boys and gets them started on breakfast.
7:05am - Dressed and see what the boys are all up too.  Sam doesn't want his usual breakfast (is he sick??), Luke is being a bit of a stinker.  I finished getting make-up on and doing something with my hair while coaching Luke through getting dressed (it's just that kind of morning).  Get Sam cleaned up to toddle around.  Make Luke's PB&J (packed the rest the night before) and put his lunchbox in his backpack.
7:30am - Matt leaves.
7:35am - We get jackets on and grab library books to return and out the door.  Get the boys buckled, drop Luke off at school (reviewing some school things on the way - counting by 2s, days of the week, etc.).  Return library books and back home.
7:55am - Inside with Sam who is a little whiny (we blame teeth).  I sit down to eat my breakfast and Sam does want the rest of his now.  My Mom calls right as I'm done so I talk to her while getting Sam cleaned up and down to play.
8:25am - Off the phone with My Mom, play on the floor with Sam a bit.  He must have not slept well because he's extra cuddly.  We (kinda) read a book and he plays with some Duplos.
8:45am - I spot clean some windows.  Notice the gutter guy is here and go talk to him, asking if we can keep the old gutters because Matt wants to use those to replace the ones on the garage.  Finish cleaning windows and finish cleaning the bathroom (Luke does part as his Saturday morning chore).
9:05am - Sam goes to bed.  He is done fussing before I am even down the stairs.  I start water for tea and put a load of laundry in.  Put tea bag in hot water.  Tidy up the couple toys Sam left out.  Read my devotional for the day.  Get my tea and add honey.

9:25am - I sit down to read just one chapter of a new book which turns into 20 minutes.  It really was just one chapter.  Then check Instagram for the first time since Friday and post a picture for our anniversary.
10:15am - I get a yogurt to eat while I read a couple blog posts on my computer.  I can usually get through them quicker on my computer than phone plus it's easier to comment on my computer.  Then start all the computer things I do on Mondays: log my time in a spreadsheet (from an e-mail Toggl send every Monday), go through e-mails and PDF any bills or receipts from purchases made over the weekend, check on some tracking for packages, upload pictures from both my phone and our DSLR and sort and tag those, update my page a day journal from the weekend, and check Facebook for the first time since Friday.
11:25am - Remember I want to post this post on Thursday so go back and fill in what I've been doing all day (thanks to Toggl and time stamps and just routine, I have a pretty good idea).
11:35am - Get this post up to date and finish up Quick Lit for Tuesday.
12:05pm - finish blog work, turn off computer, and go get Sam to get him changed. 
12:25pm - Downstairs to make lunch for Sam and I.  We eat.  I clean-up.
12:45pm - Sam is still fussy so I hold him for a bit, play with him on the floor, try to keep him happy.

1:40pm - I do actual work for a bit, watching Center Stage in the background.
2:15pm - I stop work, change Sam's diaper, get the stroller loaded and we walk to pick-up.

3:05pm - We are back home with Luke and his cousin who walks home with us some days.  I get Sam settled for a nap.  Luke had gotten all his school papers out of his backpack so I go through those, see what they are working on at school.  Take care of his lunchbox which he put next to the sink.

3:25pm - I fold laundry in the basement while listening to a podcast.  Luke plays with his cousin on the main floor while Sam is napping upstairs.  I put away some dish towels and things.

3:45pm - I read in the kitchen while Luke and his cousin are still happily playing!  Doesn't always work out that way but today it did!
4:15pm - Help the two kids clean-up, talk to my sister once she arrives to pick up her daughter.  They leave.
4:40pm - Get the last load of laundry (socks and rags) out of the dryer.  Put rags right into the rag bin and then Luke and I match socks.  I do mine and Matt's.  Luke matches his (and has to turn most of them the right side out) and I fold them together.

5:05pm - Sit down with Luke to do his homework folder and go through sight words.  He has quite the stack after almost a whole school year!
5:25pm - We get Sam up and change his diaper.  Matt is home shortly after.  We get ready to head out to eat for our anniversary.  Earlier in the month we had a date night at the drive-in (no kids!) so the boys are with us for this one.
5:45pm - Walk to a nearby restaurant.  Luke is excited about his burger, Sam is kinda all over the place.  We order, talk, eat, take more bathroom trips than you would think are necessary (a lot of hand washing) and then walk home.
7:00pm - Back home and immediately start the bath water.  I'm on bath duty, get the boys clean, Sam is out pretty quick, get him dressed and Matt takes him to put to bed.  Luke listens to one of his "stories" (podcasts) in the tub while I scroll Instagram and then wash my face. 
7:45pm - Get Luke dressed, supervise teeth brushing.  We say prayers with Matt and then I read him a picture book.  Matt puts Luke to bed.  I pack Luke's lunch for the next day, do miscellaneous house straightening up and getting coats out for the morning school run. 

8:30pm - Matt and I each have a lemon bar in the kitchen while we talk about the day.  Then we fold our laundry while watching Splitting Up Together.  Get ready for bed and put away our laundry.  Lay out my clothes for the next day.
9:30pm - In bed, before it's pitch black outside.  The me of a year ago would be shocked by this.  School days means we get to bed much earlier most of the time!  Of course I read before lights off.

And that's a day!  Life is much different than a year ago, much much different than 18 months ago!

Day in the Life 1 - November 2013 (Luke 7½ months)
Day in the Life 2 - June 2014 (Luke 14 months)
Day in the Life 3 - November 2014 (Luke 20 months)
Day in the Life 4 - January 2016 (Luke 2 ¾)
Day in the Life 5 - July 2016 (Luke 3 ¼)
Day in the Life 6 - January 2017 (Luke 3¾)
Day in the Life 7 - October 2017 (Luke 4½)
Day in the Life 8 - April 2018 (Luke 5, Sam 2 months)
Day in the Life 9 - November 2018 (Luke 5½, Sam 8 months)

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Quick Lit - May

Welcome to another month of Quick Lit, where I am supposed to do short reviews of everything I've read but somehow I always write more than I intend.  As I start this post I have a kid who was sent home from school on the couch (acting very not sick) so...maybe I actually will be short.

I'm on Goodreads here where I keep my book lists very current and on Instagram here where I usually post about books at least once a week.  I'm linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy so Welcome if you found me there!

First, a couple other book posts in the past month:

https://happinessinthecrapiness.blogspot.com/2019/04/book-love-joyful-by-ingrid-fetell-lee.html

https://happinessinthecrapiness.blogspot.com/2019/04/12-picture-books-perfect-for-bedtime.html

https://happinessinthecrapiness.blogspot.com/2019/05/9-books-featuring-mothers.html


And everything else I've been reading!

 
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
I heard about this one from many people - it's the first in a series of modern day retelling of classic fairy tales, this one, obviously, being Cinderella.  The main plot points are there but I just couldn't get into the story.  There was the threat of ailiens from the moon and I just...wasn't interested.  I finished the book but I doubt I'll pick up the rest of the series.  Not too interested in fantasy-ish/alt-world retellings.  2 Stars 
 
 I Think You're Wrong (But I'm Listening): A Guide to Grace-Filled Political Conversations by Sarah Stewart Holland and Beth Silvers
This book was fantastic (I highlighted it on Instagram here).  The authors also co-host a podcast (which I do not regularly listen to because I feel maxed out on the number I am subscribed to already) where they talk about politics and issues.  They self-identify as one from the right and one from the left which I totally understand would make for interesting discussions!  This book didn't get much into specific issues but did give many (wonderful) suggestions for us all to approach politics and political conversations with more grace and nuance.  Fantastic read, especially for anyone fed up with politics in the US.  4 Stars  

Anne of Windy Poplars by L.M. Montgomery
I've been (slowly) rereading the whole series and this one was not one of my favorite.  Anne is away for 3 years, while Gilbert is in medical school, teaching and/or being a principal at a school somewhere not in Avonlea.  Part of the book is in letters Anne is writing to Gilbert (where parts of the letters are "redacted"...I'm really curious what needed to be redacted in 1936) and parts are just the stories about Anne but largely about the people she was interacting with.  Anne is just a delightful character but I cared more about her story than these other people.  3 Stars


Educated by Tara Westover
I had heard and seen this book hyped all over the place last year but waited to read it until the library hold list wouldn't take months (I am stingy with my library holds, I only get 5!).  It definitely lived up to the hype.  Tara grew up without any formal education, hardly education at all, but went on to go to college at Cambridge and eventually get a PhD.  What surprised me the most when I picked it up is that she is younger than me!  Born in 1986.  The story was fascinating and heartbreaking.  This is probably not the first you've heard of it. 4.5 Stars 


Front Desk by Kelly Yang
VERY DIFFERENT from the previous book but also enjoyable.  Middle-grade fiction based on the author's real life experiences.   Mia is an immigrant from China who is living in the motel her parents manage.  She goes to school, makes friends with some of the people who live at the motel, and tries to fit in in America.  I really rooted for Mia and just found the story pretty charming and delightful.  I would definitely read a sequel, if there was one.  4 Stars
 

Domino: The Book of Decorating: A Room-by-Room Guide to Creating a Home That Makes You Happy by Deborah Needleman
I read a decent number of house decorating books but this one was not my favorite.  It's over a decade old so it felt dated but also expensive.  I like looking at pretty home pictures but very very few in the book felt like anything I'd like in my own home.  Home decor books probably don't age well.  2 Stars 
 

The Friends We Keep by Jane Green
I won an ARC in a giveaway on Goodreads and was pretty excited when my copy showed up about 6 weeks before the book is released!  Free book mail is my favorite kind of mail.  I've read all of Jane Green's books and really enjoyed quite a few, but more in the middle of her whole collection.  This one was fine, three friends who meet in college and live together for part of that.  Go their own ways after college and all have their own problems and difficulties.  It didn't feel like one of her typical books until about halfway through.  I couldn't super relate to any of them but I did root for them to get their lives figured out.  3.25 Stars 


The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis-Graves
This was a really enjoyable read.  Also starting in college from multiple (two) perspectives.  A boy and girl meet and start dating.   Flashes between both of them in college and both of them about 10 years later when they bump into each other again.   Annika is on the spectrum (as stated in the book) and reading her parts of the book was very interesting and informative.  I really enjoyed this one.  3.75 Stars
 

The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff
My World War II novel for the month, this one about a group of British women who are trained and sent as spies into Nazi occupied France towards the end of the war.  The story is about the woman who trained them, one of the women who was sent, and then another woman who finds their pictures in an abandoned suitcase in Grand Central just a couple years later.  Based on real woman who were trained and sent behind enemy lines, another part of the war I had no idea about.  Interesting and captivating (I basically read it in 2 days).  3.5 Stars
 

The Minimalist Home: A Room-by-Room Guide to a Decluttered, Refocused Life by Joshua Becker
I probably read more than my share of minimalist/decluttering books but it is something I am very interested in.  That probably means I still think we have too many things?  Anyways, the approach is pretty similar in all of these but what I appreciated about this one was that it focused on the freedom that you have with having less.  Your kids should be able to easily get their bikes out of the garage and you shouldn't be spending a lot of time looking for missing items.  There is a freedom of mind and also just in the ability to move easier through this world.  It was a worthwhile read and gave me ALL NEW motivation to finally get our garage cleaned up for good. (Will that actually happen?  Stay tuned.) 4 Stars



The Editor by Steven Rowley
The Editor, in this case, is Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, who really did work as a book editor in her later years.  In this case, she is editing a novel based on the fictional author's relationship with his mother.  I was interested in this book because of the Jackie O plotline but the book really focused more on the protagonist's relationship with his mother and all the strife it has brought him.  It was not what I was expecting but fine.  That cover is aces though.  2.5 Stars


Chapter Books with Luke
 Toys Come Home: Being the Early Experiences of an Intelligent Stingray, a Brave Buffalo, and a Brand-New Someone Called Plastic by Emily Jenkins
This is the final book in a three book trilogy about three toy friend who "come to life" when their owner isn't around, ala Toy Story.  This was their origin story, how they all came to belong to the girl but it was helpful having read the other two first.  Luke enjoyed these although these chapters get a little long - like it took us 25 minutes to read the first one.  Not exactly quick pre-bedtime reading but we enjoyed these.   3.5 Stars

What have YOU been reading lately?  I'm SUPER excited for what I plan to read this summer!

Thursday, May 9, 2019

The Who and When of Listening to Podcasts

I started listening to podcasts about three years ago and I was shocked when I realized it was that long!  I feel like I just started but then it has also been long enough for a lot of trial and error on which ones I like and when I listen to them.

Finding podcasts I really enjoy, and even look forward to listening to, has really changed my attitude about a lot of things.  Some of those not so fun chores bother me less when I have something interesting to listen to.  Driving is less boring.  Spending a chunk of time making supper can be enjoyable.  A few years ago I didn't know how I'd listen to an hour long episode over a week and now I've had plenty of days where I've listened to 2+ hours just in doing my daily activities - folding laundry, running errands, and putting away groceries!

I spend a lot of time at home (by choice!), big chunks of the day when my only companion is a baby who is just starting to talk, and only a couple words at that (why does "ball" come before saying "Mom"???).  I spend time with him, keep the house relatively clean, and run errands.  Listening to podcasts while I do most of those things (not playing with Sam) helps me feel like I am being productive but also getting in "me" time.  The variety of podcasts I've listened to over the past couple years have given me new perspectives and showed me new ways to do things.  Given me more books to read (never enough time!) and made me laugh.  Like reading, listening to podcasts have expanded my world a bit but I can get laundry done while doing it!

It's not worth finding shows that I am interested in if I don't have time to listen to them!  So here's when I listen:

When I Listen

-working out in the mornings
-getting ready in the bathroom, post shower (depending on how we are doing on time for getting to school)
-when driving
-sorting and tagging pictures
-working on photobooks
-doing bills each week
-folding laundry (if I am alone)
-making food, as long as the mixer isn't running or it's too loud
-doing housework (dusting, cleaning floors, cleaning the bathroom, etc.)

Most of these are fairly mundane tasks that I would usually find myself dreading or at least not looking forward to!  They are much more bearable when I have something I want to listen to while doing them!


When I Don't Listen
-in the shower
-running
-in the car with Matt and/or Luke (besides when we drove overnight to Florida two years ago, I did listen when they were both sleeping and I needed to stay awake!)
-vacuuming
-during family time, when playing with the boys
-writing blog posts
 
I don't know the last time I used earbuds (maybe on the train to New York last year?) and I never, ever wear them around the house.  I only listen through my car or phone speakers so most of my listening comes while Luke is at school and Matt at work.  I keep telling myself I'll have to quit as Sam gets bigger...but I haven't yet. 

Podcasts I Listen to Each Week
These are almost all weekly shows that occasionally take weeks off for holidays but usually put out around 50 episodes each a year.




Young House Love has a Podcast
This is the show that really converted me.  I enjoy almost everything John & Sherry do so when I saw they were starting a podcast I knew I had to figure out how to listen to them.  I've been following their blog for 6+ years, own both books AND their coloring book.  In the beginning they had more interviews with design people but now it's mostly them recapping their remodeling efforts of 2 beach houses and their own house but I still find it so enjoyable.
My favorites: #45: "Why We Got Rid of Half the Toys in Our House" and #128: "Finding More Life in Less Stuff" (and I get a shout out at the end of episode #89)

The Lazy Genius
To teach you "how to be a genius about the things that matter and lazy about the things that don't" which, hello, isn't that pretty much what we all want?  This is the only show I regularly listen to that is just one person mostly talking, no interviews or co-hosts, a format I generally don't like but I really appreciate almost everything Kendra has to say.  Lots of tips on food (menu planning, how to marinade meat) but also on cleaning your house and simplifying holidays.  I'm currently in a the middle of a relisten of her 3 part series from last May on Summer Strategy (eps #62, 63, 64) and I'm fairly certain I'll listen to it AGAIN before the end of the month.   
My favorites: #18: "The Lazy Genius Raises a New Baby", #84: "Guide to Lunch", and #88: "Refocus Your Christmas Brain".

What Should I Read Next? with Anne Bogel
Anne is my book guru, I've been following her blog for years.  I link up with her blog every month on my Quick Lit posts and am really looking forward to her summer reading guide coming out next week.  She has guests on her show who tell her 3 books they love, 1 book they hate, and what they've been reading lately and then she recommends 3 books for them to read next.  Her tastes tend to be more literary than my own but I've still been introduced to many great books because of her podcast and blog.   
My favorites: #132: "The Books We Can't Wait to Read This Summer" and #31: "Lifetime Favorite Books and Reading for a Living".

 The Popcast with Knox & Jamie
This one took me a couple episodes to get into but now I pay to listen to them recap The Bachelor, a show I don't even watch.  What is that???   It's slightly pop culture based but mainly just funny.  Some of their best episodes are when listener submit funny stories related to a topic.  I relisten to their Nos of Christmas (eps #170, 225, and 277) every year.  Listening to them makes me laugh more than just about anything else all week, except maybe my kids (depending on how funny they are that week).   
My (recent) favorites: #242: "The Nos of Spring" and #245: "The Nos of Motherhood".

 
From the Front Porch
This one is a podcast of a bookstore in Thomasville, Georgia.  A place I have never been but is now on my list of places I'd like to visit.  It's a lot of book talk (which I am all in for) but also small business and life in the south.  My reading tastes overlap a decent amount with Annie, the bookstore owner, and I've gotten many good recs from her show.  But it's also just nice hearing them talk about book and reading life and what it's like to own a bookstore.  
My favorites: #213: "Seasonal Reads: Spring Break" and #203: "Best Books of 2018".




Happier with Gretchen Rubin
Gretchen Rubin is a well-known author (The Happiness Project) on the topics of happiness and habits.  She does this podcast with her sister, Elizabeth, who is a tv writer and producer.  Their show follows the same format almost every week and I usually pick up a helpful hint or two for knowing myself better or a habit to adopt.  This show has the most ads of any I listen to and since I generally skip through those (thank you, 15 second skip button), I get through these fairly quickly.   
My favorites: #140: "It's More Important to Say Something Than the Right Thing" and #218: "Invest in Your Identities".




10 Things To Tell You
This is a newer show but I've really enjoyed most of the episodes.  Laura gives a prompt which you are supposed to share with your best friend or journal about...neither of which I've ever done but sometimes I think about them...so that's something! (I was listening to an episode of this while I worked on pulling pictures and links for this post!)
My favorites: #3 "Where Do You Live?" and #12 "Who Did You Expect to Be?"




The Next Right Thing
This one is all about decision making, how we can easily overwhelm ourselves with the countless ones we have to make in a day and how, usually, the best practice is to just do the next right thing, take the next step.  These are usually short episodes and Emily has the most soothing voice.  I've just started listening to this one but I think it's good for me because I'm REALLY good at over thinking things.   
My favorite: #80: "Don't Take Offense".






Sorta Awesome with Meg Tietz
This is a girlfriend type show, like just sitting around talking with some friends.  They cover all sorts of woman issues and sometimes it's just refreshing to hear about how other people do things, especially Moms further along in parenting than I am.   
My favorite: #134: "10 Secrets of Friendships Revealed".






One Great Book
A second podcast from Anne Bogel but this one is short, usually around 10 minutes.  Each week she highlights one book from her own bookshelves to talk about.  Some of them I've heard of, others I haven't.  I've only previously read one book she's talked about but I still enjoy hearing her talk about WHY she likes these books.  And at 10 minutes they are quick and enjoyable.
My favorite: #4: "Rules of Civility".




The Bible Binge 
From the team behind The Popcast - they summarize Bible stories in a similar way to how they summarize tv shows. I feel like I've actually learned a decent amount, largely about culture and the history around the stories.   
My favorite: the whole season 4 about Advent and the Nativity and #2: Noah.





WHEW.  That was a lot.  Additionally, there are more I keep in my podcast app to check the topic or interviewee of the week, and will download and listen when it interests me:


Coffee + Crumbs  (I like their "This is How We Do" series)
Simple
That Sounds Fun with Annie F. Downs
The Happy House with Jamie Ivey
For the Love with Jen Hatmaker
Read-Aloud Revival
Off Camera with Sam Jones


I've even gotten to the point of supporting a couple of these through Patreon, so I am paying to listen to them, that's how much I enjoy them.  This comes out of my allowance each month, which I am pretty stingy about, that's how serious I am!

The Popcast - Friend of the Show ($3/month)
What Should I Read Next? - paperback ($3/month)
From the Front Porch - ($1/month)

And all of those come with a couple extra bonus episodes a month, almost all of which I listen to as well.  I'm paying for it, I'm going to listen to them!

We also support Luke's favorite, Finn Caspian, at $2/month.  Which just gets us ad free episodes...when I have yet to put on the old phone Luke uses to listen to his "stories" in the tub.  I should really get on
that.

This is a lot more words than I expected to write about podcasts!  I feel I've learned a lot in all my listening and helped make a lot of mundane tasks less...mundane.  Refreshing my podcast app in the morning is one of the VERY FEW phone things I do before the school drop-off run.  It's a nice little motivator for getting out of bed and getting to working out, so I can see what I have to listen to that day.  I'm glad I started listening.

Do you listen to podcasts?  Favorites?  When do you listen?