read it: big little lies

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Title: Big Little Lies

Author: Liane Moriarity

Book Number: 10 out of 75 (as part of my 101 in 1001 journey)

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★  (One star = couldn’t finish; two stars = didn’t like; three stars = enjoyable; four stars = great read; five stars = fantastic)

Summary: Welcome to the Australian, beachside community of Pirriwee Peninsula, where the parents of the students at Pirriwee Public School create as much drama as your favorite reality show.

Madeline is a passionate, confident woman whose ex-husband and his hippie wife have recently relocated to Pirriwee. To add injustice to annoyance, their five-year-old daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest child, and her teenage daughter could not want any less to do with Madeline.

Madeline’s friend, Celeste, is gorgeous and kind, but rather preoccupied. Everyone assumes its because she is mother to kindergarten-age twin boys – but is that all?

Together, Madeline and Celeste befriend young, new-to-town Jane and her young, also-entering-kindergarten son. Jane is shy and seems to be holding onto some secrets herself, but when on the kindergarten orientation day a line gets drawn in the sand, the three quickly become allies in what will play out as a year-long battle culuminating in a death at Pirriwee Primary School’s annual trivia night.

Told in flashbacks and pieces of witness testimony, piece by piece the secrets of Pirriwee’s residents are revealed, true natures come to light, and, finally, we learned who was killed – and why.

Thoughts: I LOVED this book. I read it in November 2014 while I was recovering from ACL surgery. It made me laugh out loud and cry. It made me fantasize about living by the sea and feel warm waves of gratitude for my wonderful family, husband, and friends. It made me wish I could write and create engaging characters with as much depth and seamlessly address difficult issues with as much grace and realism as Moriaty can. It made me text my friends who aren’t in book club with me and tell them to read this book.

Have you read Big Little Lies? What did you think? If I liked Big Little Lies, what other books would you recommend?

Are you on GoodreadsI am. Let’s be friends!

(above image source)

oscars 2015

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My husband and I rarely fight over the TV.  We both enjoy watching sports and most of the same TV shows. We hardly ever want to watch different programs as the same time.

Except for last night.

Last night, I wanted to watch the Academy Awards – from the very beginning, on the red carpet. Dan wanted to watch the Grantland basketball hour with guest Kobe Bryant. This meant for the last half hour of the red carpet and the first half hour of the actual ceremony, our living room was a battleground. I ceded ground during the red carpet, but surged back at 8:30 when the ceremony began. During J.K. Simmon’s acceptance speech, Dan said, “We don’t have to listen to the speeches, though, right?” and switched to Grantland.

Me: “DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND WHAT THE OSCARS ARE?”

Dan: “Do you not understand who Kobe is?”

Me: “IT’S THE OSCARS. THIS IS MY THING. I’VE LOVED IT LONGER THAN I’VE LOVED YOU.”

It was a bit dramatic.

Once 9:00 hit and Grantland was over, peace returned to our humble abode and it was all Oscars, all night. My favorite moments of the show were:

  • How adorable Anna Faris and Chris Pratt were on the red carpet with Robin Roberts. Don’t they just seem like a couple who could live next door to you and be your best friends?
  • The opening number. I love anytime Neil Patrick Harris or Anna Kenderick sing, and Jack Black always cracks me up. Plus, I thought all the visual effects were flat-out awesome.
  • NPH in general. He was a great host, with just enough of an edge (“Snowden couldn’t be here for some treason”) mixed with just enough corny (“This Oscar presenter is just so lovely you could eat her up with her spoon”).  I even enjoyed the briefcase bit, though I know not a lot of people did.
  • Quoting Robin Williams in the presentation of Best Supporting Actor, which was a nice homage to the late Oscar winner.
  • NPH introducing Jennifer Aniston and David Oyelowo as a presenting pair by saying, “Both of whom deserve to be here,” a nod to the fact that both gave strong and well-regarded performances in movies this past year but failed to be nominated for an acting award.
  • Idina Menzel and John Travolta presenting Best Song together and joking around about Travolta’s mispronunciation of Menzel’s name last year, plus NPH’s intro and follow-up jokes to their presentation (“Travolta will be back next year to apologize to Idina for all the face touching”).
  • Acceptance speeches: J.K. Simmons’s request that everyone call their parents; Patricia Arquette’s call for equal pay among the sexes (plus Meryl Streep and J. Lo’s reactions); Common andJohn Legend’s eloquence; Graham Moore’s “stay weird, stay different” message; Dana Perry speaking about her son Evan and saying “we need to talk about suicide, out loud”; Eddie Redmayne’s adorable excitement; Julianne Moore being happy to win an Oscar because it could mean an extra five years of life with her younger husband; Michael Keaton saying, “I’m just happy to be here.”
  • The PERFORMANCES. What a year for them! The supreme talent that is Jennifer Hudson giving a beautiful tribute to those who passed away; a pure fun performance of “Everything is Awesome” complete with Lego Oscars; Tim McGraw singing “Not Gonna Miss You,” very gracefully – the lyrics of which were just heartbreaking; Common and John Legend’s incredible performance of “Glory,” with such strong lyrics, Legend’s gorgeous voice, and the crowds of people walking behind them across a replica bridge. AND LADY GAGA HOLY MOLY. She looked so classy, and her pure talent and traditional training shown through. I was so blown away.

What were your favorite moments of the Oscars this year? What winners do you agree and disagree with the most?

weekly gems

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Delicious drink “Love Elixir” at dinner this weekend.

 

weekly gems

Aw, grumpy Frieda.

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Goodbye 2014…Hello 2015!

Thanks for so many lovely memories, 2014.

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I’m super excited for 2015. I’ve made a list of items from my 101 in 1001 list that I plan to check off year. I can’t wait to have fun and explore my hobbies and interests more. I’ve also made some resolutions:

1. Get enough sleep.
2. Successfully rehab knee.
3. Eat for health.
4. Compete in a triathlon. 
5. Floss every other day.
6. Create and implement a set chore schedule.
7. Make and implement a joint budget every month.
8. Go to church more consistently.
9. Spend more time with family.
10. Be on time.

I think I’ve set reasonable resolutions, and I definitely selected fun activities to knock off my 101 in 1001 list!

What were your favorite memories of 2014? Do you have any resolutions or bucket list items for 2015?

things that are making me happy (and thankful)

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  • My amazing husband Daniel. He works so hard every day at his job as a teacher, is fiercely loyal to his family and friends, is ridiculously passionate about sports – both watching and doing,  adores animals as much as I do, and watches all the same TV shows as me (unless they are about crime). He is my best friend and the love of my life.
  • My awesome family. Not only do they give provide me with role models to admire and be inspired by , but I am especially grateful for all the help and support they’ve given me during this first year teaching at a high school with a new school model AND with my knee injury and surgery. I love spending time with them – they are always on my side, they always make me laugh, and they will always watch crime TV shows with me.
  • My kick-ass friends. They put up with all my random, silly, and long text messages, non-stop Snapchats of coffee and pets, my early bedtime, and my weak sarcastic ability. They are hilarious, creative, sweet, caring, fiesty, and fun. I love them to death and can’t imagine how I’d get along without them.
  • My wonderful co-workers. I have been blessed to have truly great colleagues and mentors almost every place I have ever worked, but this year having a staff that supports each other as much as this staff does is absolutely essential. I don’t think any of us would have made it this far, trying to implement his new school model and make positive changes in school culture, without each other. No one “pulls rank,” no one refuses feedback, no one is unwilling or too busy to help anyone else. We are truly a team and I am so grateful.
  • My pets. I don’t have kids, and no, my pets aren’t like my kids. My pets are my pets – they are animals who love unconditionally, harbor no bitterness or ill will toward anyone, and find happiness in all the small moments. They brighten my day and the day of everyone who interacts with them.
  • The “basics” that aren’t really so basic – a place to live with working heat and a sound structure, located in a safe neighborhood. Clean, running water I can get by walking two feet to a faucet. Enough nutritious food to eat and the ability to choose what I want to eat. Shoes, a winter coat, gloves, and hat that are all in good shape. Clothes in general that are in good shape. Safe transportation. Access to the Internet and a computer in my own home. All the things so many of us take for granted on a daily basis.
  • Health care – including vision and dental. I know this is a sore point for some people in this day and age with Obamacare and all, but I can’t imagine not having it. I have maintenance prescriptions I require for health conditions, I get sinus infections a couple times a year, I hate cavities, and you never know when an emergency or a random accident will occur – like tearing your ACL on a trampoline on a school field trip. I am so grateful I have insurance to help my family and I afford the care we need.
  • My college degree and job. My job that is my dream job. It truly feels like every experience I have had, particularly since I was in high school myself, has lead me to this teaching position. A lot of the experiences were challenging, but they all prepared me for where I am right now, which is exactly where I want to be. Not only is my job, despite its intensity, emotionally and intellectually fulfilling, but it is also contributing to my family’s financial security. I am grateful for that because I know how difficult not being in such a positive situation can be.
  • And of course, the random, little things that seem silly to be thankful for but really enrich every day life: COFFEE, funny TV shows, interesting podcasts, good books, really good books,  an evening spent cooking and baking, a hot bath, that thrill you get when you’ve had an extra productive day or when you get an unexpected compliment, a cold beer after a long week at work, finding a coupon for your favorite grocery item, a sunny day, easy traffic on your morning commute, killing it in your workout, catching your new favorite song on the radio, making someone else laugh without expecting to, beating that level of Angry Birds you’ve been stuck on for weeks, a fantastic night of sleep, no line at the gas station or drugstore when you’re in a rush, a clear night sky so you can see the stars, the existence of HGTV, listening to music while driving by yourself in the rain, seeing someone do something nice for someone else for no reason but to be nice or polite, hugs from small children, kisses from dogs, and so, so much more.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

weekly gems (a few days late)

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weekly gems

IMG_0550-0.JPGOh hey, Frieda.

 

The 24 Best Things That Happened While I Was 24

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1. Dan and I got married.
2. We had a great minimoon!
3. And a fantastic picnic reception.
4. We also moved into our first home together.
5. I had a wonderful time getting ready for the wedding with an awesome kick ass bachelorette party planned by my sister and best friends.
6. I had a ton of fun attending others’ weddings, including a best friend’s.

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7. I was hired to be a tutor full-time at my alma mater.
8. I survived a difficult season of coaching and got to see four of my swimmers compete at Districts, not to mention watch so many others improve so much.
9. Helped quite a few students keep focused, pass classes, and graduate.
10. Finally attended my first BGSU homecoming weekend as an alumni.
11. Dan and I went to many Indians games.
12. And we did Dinner on the Diamond.

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13. We went to a Cavs and a Bluejackets game, too.
14. We hosted Thanksgiving for my family and his family together.
15. So many long walks with Madison in the park.
16. Joining and going to a near-by gym, as well as joining Tone It Up!
17. Buying and using my road bike.
18. Fun parties at my sister-in-law’s apartment…including Halloween when Dan & I were beekeepers and Madison was a bee!

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19. I made a new close friend in my co-teacher at work.
20. Hosting friends and family for weekends in Cleveland.
21. Going to An Evening With Scott Hamilton and Friends with my parents and spending Memorial Day weekend with Dan’s family.
22. Celebrating my grandma’s 90th birthday.
23. Celebrating the end of the school year with an early summer weekend in BG.
24. And sooooo much more! Reading as much as possible, morning coffee and relaxation, cooking dinners with Dan, hilarious times with my students and swimmers, my parents adopting another dog, visits to Columbus, holiday celebrations, basically any time spent with family and friends!

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It’s been a great 24th year, and I can’t wait for what the next year holds! Here’s to 25!

 

weekly gems

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I’ve had a great spring break – which started off with seeing an awesome Indians win Monday evening!

 

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