Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Reading Challenge Part 2

I want to keep up this momentum! I really loved having a reading goal last year BUT I also felt like I needed to pick quick reads and books that wouldn't really challenge me or take time because I was trying to read SO many books. This year I wanted to take the opposite approach. I've chosen to read classics, books that are always on the "must read before you die" lists. Books that are talked about in literary circles and books that I feel like EVERYONE else has read but me. These books also happen to be books I've been putting off forever. For this reason, I gave myself one book per month. 12 classics to get through for the year. I won't go in any order, I'll just choose what I feel like for that month. Here is the list:

  1. To Kill A Mockingbird
  2. Anne of Green Gables
  3. Little Women
  4. Harry Potter
  5. The Stand
  6. The Poisonwood Bible
  7. Kite Runner
  8. 1984
  9. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
  10. The Book Thief
  11. The Diary of Anne Frank
  12. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Many might think this is an easy list or challenge. For them, it might be! My comfort in reading really lies in a story that is gripping and pulls you through and often involves romance. Some of these might be that! I have no idea. But I think most of them will be a challenge for me. I know for at least 6 of them (half!) I've already tried reading them and couldn't finish. So, yes... this will be hard for me.

I'm looking forward to it!

Monday, July 6, 2015

As We Wait...

We should be licensed for foster care any day now. Once licensed, we should have a child in our home within a few weeks, at the very most a few months. The waiting is sort of hard, sort of not. Fostering is this whole tricky new world that, six months ago, I never thought I'd experience.

In truth? I'm nervous. I'm excited, yes. But, mostly nervous. Here are the things I've been worrying over while I'm in this period of waiting.

1. I'm worried that Crosby will feel jealous of losing attention. Don't we always worry about our kids when a new one is coming around? And, I worry about Crosby more because he's never had a new child come into the family like the other two have. Plus, he's my baby and gets 99% of my attention when he's awake.

2. I worry that I'll be stretched too thin. Not only are we bringing in a 4th child, but we're bringing in a 4th child that doesn't have established trust or a bond with us. We'll have to work extra hard to establish routines and follow through with every little thing because we don't have her implied trust that comes with birth. I guess I imagine a child that cries a whole lot and is confused and anxious and I also have three boys who need love and guidance and time and energy. Will I be able to do it all?! So scary to me.

3. I'm worried that it will be obvious that I didn't give birth to her and people will comment about how I just HAD to have a girl because I have the three boys and that my boys will hear that and feel inadequate or like they weren't enough. Or that she'll hear and think that we only want her because she's a girl. I feel so judged for this decision already and there's not even the visual reminder for everyone yet.

4. Mostly, I worry about loving her too much. I know that sounds crazy. But I fear that I'll love her like my own and she'll go back to her birth family and I'll be destroyed. And, if I'm destroyed, what will happen to my children? Will I still be able to be there for them? This fear plagues me the most. I'm keeping a VERY open mind and trying to keep the perspective that she is simply not ours. She has a mommy and daddy who love her and need some help and we're helping by loving her while they get better. It's SO easy to talk about, very hard to practice I imagine.

There's more, but I'll stop now because I realize that this isn't the most uplifting post. When we do welcome her to our family, I will post pictures of her, but have decided not to show her face in pictures for our family's protection. I am also not allowed to share her name, so we'll be using a nickname or simply calling her by her first initial in public. If you know us well and know her name PLEASE never comment using her name. It's a true safety issue as bio families are typically local and sometimes try to find the children the state has removed from them and take them back. I'll update as much as I'm able, but will keep specifics private.

It should be an exciting month for us! I can't wait to see where this journey takes us.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

My Top 10 Challenge Reads

I read some awesome books in the challenge and have even added a few to my ALL TIME favorite list. Below are my top 10 and a little bit about why I loved them:

(These are not ordered from least to greatest or whichever, but rather in the order that I read them within the challenge) 

A love story about a man with asperger's trying to find his ideal mate. Instead, he befriends the wild and daring Rosie, who does not at all fit his profile of an ideal mate. This book was a feel good book and I love those. I love a good love story and this one delivers. 

I ALWAYS recommend this book to people. And I've never had anyone come back and say they hated it. Just be warned.... you will need tissues and a whole lot of them. This is NOT a feel good story. This is a gut wrenching tear jerker that will leave you wishing you were still reading it, as odd as that sounds. You will LOVE it. It's controversial but still a love story at its core. Just... read it. 

Many people watched this movie and liked it. Well, as usual, the book is SO much better. I didn't even like the movie because I didn't think it did the emotions in the book justice. This book portrays Alice, who is diagnosed with early onset alzheimer's disease. Her and her family's emotions are raw and tangible in the story. As you can imagine, it's another tear jerker. I like to FEEL things when I read. I have another Lisa Genova book on hold for me at library and I can't wait to check that out soon! 

Oh this book. I LOVED this book so very much. I think it's the only teen fiction on my top 10 list, which makes me feel a little bit better. Honestly, I think I've hyped this book up in my mind too much to really talk about it fairly. I fear people will read this book after hearing me talk about it and think, "why does she love this book so much?" But, I did love it. It's another love story, but it just had a weird impact on me. I loved the characters and was rooting for them and on the edge of my seat the whole time. 

Okay, this one is NOT a love story or a feel good story in any way, shape or form. But, this book spoke to me in so many ways. It's the story of a woman writing letters to her husband trying to make sense of her life and the events leading up to her son killing several students and a teacher at his high school. With all of the school violence in today's world, this book is a bit like a punch to the gut and hits very close to home. I wanted to begin homeschooling immediately after reading this, but that's not a new idea of mine (I won't, because I recognize that fear is a terrible reason to homeschool). Anyway, this book is devastating but still important and VERY well done. 

This was the first book I had ever really listened to and enjoyed. It's a slow story, but so REAL and I felt like it quietly snuck up on me. It's the story of a family whose daughter goes missing and they both go back in time and reevaluate their parenting and life prior to her disappearance and try to put themselves back together afterwards. It's just a beautiful story of what you make of your life and how to pick up the pieces after tragedy strikes. This book made my all time favorite list. 

Lest you think I only read tear jerkers or love stories, this book is neither. It was hilarious though and a bit misogynistic, which for some reason, didn't bother me one bit. A man is called to sit shiva with his family that he rarely sees in his childhood home which he never visits immediately after he discovers his wife is having an affair with his boss. And, it does get worse. Or better if you enjoy reading about a train wreck as much as I do. I just love a sarcastic book that says things I think but don't think I'm allowed to actually say. This book was that. Plus, the scene where he actually FINDS his wife sleeping with his boss is truly worth reading the whole book. I laughed so hard, I cried. Damn! I guess this book did make me cry. 

A non fiction on my list! I also listened to this one and would highly recommend listening to it over reading it. The author is also the narrator and, in this case, I think that makes all of the difference. It's the author, Gregory Boyle's, experience working with gang members in LA. He's the pioneer of "Homeboy Industries" which is a company that hires ex gang members and helps keep them off of the streets and employed. His heart and love for this community is admirable and I left this book wanting to be a better person. It made me both laugh and cry. A winner. 

This is a graphic novel, which basically means it's a comic book. But, it's a comic book about the author's experience with her parents aging, being put into a home, and eventually passing away. You wouldn't think it would be so funny, but it really is. It's also REAL. Another example of saying the things you don't think you should say, but everyone is thinking it. It also made me have a conversation about aging and health care and our household belongings and my own parents' aging and so many other important topics that just aren't that fun to talk about. Roz Chast does talk about all of these issues in a relatable and even comical way. Very well done and easily one of my top 5 reads of this year. 

Grab the tissues for this one, too! Never mind, tissues won't help. Maybe just be prepared to change your clothes and might as well hop in the shower because you're going to need to just let the tears flow down the drain while you wash your sorrow away. And then you'll want to make sure to talk about this book with someone who's read it. Because it's SO freaking good. You'll want to talk to random strangers about how good this book was. You won't, for fear that you'll start uncontrollably sobbing in front of a STRANGER, but you'll want to. The story of a couple who is unable to have children when a baby washes up on the shore of their tiny island. The story plays out the consequences of their decision of what to do about this little girl and also tell the story of a marriage at odds and the pain and longing for children in the life of a couple who cannot bear them. If you struggle with infertility or reading about pregnancy loss (both early in pregnancy AND later) is a trigger for you, you might want to avoid this story. Overall, though, it's haunting and beautiful and tragic all at once. One of my top books of all time. 

That's it!! Happy reading :) I'll be back soon to talk about my goals for the next 52 weeks. I also promise to blog about other stuff at some point. I have big thoughts about foster care/adoption and my kids deserve an update as well - they're growing and changing SO much! Thanks for reading and following my challenge. I felt cheered on the whole year! 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Challenge Completed!

I finished my challenge!! I'm SO freaking excited. Especially because I felt like it was quite the undertaking and I'm not known for finishing challenges. But, I really did it. I read a book a week for an entire year. And, in that year, we've bought a house, moved, painted every room in that house, and completed all of the requirements for a foster care license. Yes, I'm patting my own back.  I wish I had a cookie I could give myself.

My goal was really just to READ again. I used to read, a little bit. Maybe a book a month or so... sometimes less, never more. But I wanted to fall in love with reading and really become a READER. I've realized what type of book really grabs me, which types challenge me and when to give up and just put a book down never to pick it up again. But mostly, I just love reading now. I love talking about books and planning my next library trips and getting lost in a great story. I definitely watch less TV now (although TV watching is still a very large part of my life, not going to lie...) and I find I feel more relaxed because I take the time to SIT or be in the bathtub and just be present with a book and not have my phone nearby or anyone else around to talk to. It's peaceful.

I'm still thinking about my goals for this upcoming year. I think rather than a number, I'll make a specific list that I make sure I complete because my one complaint with this challenge was that I often didn't push myself to read something out of my comfort zone because the goal was to just READ and completing one book a week didn't lend to many slower paced books. I still haven't read the Harry Potter series (I can't get through book one - what is my problem? What am I missing? I'm stuck on page 100 or so...) and I've never read "Anne of Green Gables" or "Little Women" and I'd like to reread "To Kill A Mockingbird" (I think maybe I read it in high school?). Anyway, I'll have to come up with something to keep the momentum going!

Here is the list of all 52 books I read during this challenge in order:

  1. Where’d You Go Bernadette?
  2. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
  3. The Rosie Project
  4. We Were Liars
  5. Me Before You 
  6. Wonder
  7. Eleanor & Park
  8. Insurgent
  9. Room
  10. Attachments
  11. Still Alice
  12. Delancey 
  13. The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion 
  14. The Farm 
  15. The Husband’s Secret 
  16. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime 
  17. Sea of Tranquility 
  18. Station Eleven 
  19. Bossypants 
  20. The Fever 
  21. We Need to Talk About Kevin 
  22. Christmas Jars
  23. Christmas Jars: A Reunion 
  24. The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells 
  25. Everything I Never Told You 
  26. Outlander
  27. The Children Act 
  28. The Book of Unknown Americans 
  29. Not That Kind of Girl 
  30. Big Little Lies 
  31. I’ll Give You the Sun 
  32. All the Light We Cannot See 
  33. Defending Jacob 
  34. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
  35. This is Where I Leave You 
  36. Tattoos on the Heart 
  37. Reconstructing Amelia 
  38. Leaving Time 
  39. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry 
  40. A Little Life 
  41. Brain on Fire
  42. A Child Called It
  43. Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? 
  44. The Lost Boy 
  45. The Light Between Oceans 
  46. The Silent Wife 
  47. Dark Places 
  48. The Selection 
  49. The Elite 
  50. The One 
  51. Our Souls at Night 
  52. Food 
Tomorrow I'll come back and tell you my top 10 favorite books from the challenge!
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