Category Archives: books

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.

 

weekly gems

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

 

Read It: The American Heiress

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Title: The American Heriess

Author: Daisy Goodwin

Book Number: 2 out of 75 (as part of my 101 Things in 1001 Days journey)

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

Summary: At the turn of the century, Cora Cash is the only child in the one of the richest families in America. Despite their beautiful homes and extravagant parties, her mother is not satisfied. She is determined to become part of society’s most elite, and will do whatever she can to ensure Cora enters into a marriage that will raise their family’s status from one of new fortune to unquestionable superiority. To Mrs. Cash, that means packing up her daughter, traveling to Europe, and looking for an appropriate suitor among nobility. Much to the surprise of society both in England and America, Cora Cash finds herself marrying not just any nobleman, but the Duke of Wareham. After a whirlwind proposal and wedding, Cora struggles not only to navigate the subtleties and secrets of English society, but of her new husband. After a lifetime of money dictating her choices and how people treat her, Cora must dig deep within herself to find out who she truly is and what she wants her life to be.

Thoughts: This book has gotten rave reviews, and it is about the intricacies of high society of both America and England in the late 1800s. If there are two things I’m a fan of, it’s good books and history, so I figured this book was perfect for me. I have to say, I was a little disappointed, but it was probably because my expectations were so high. The book is pretty long, and at times can feel a little slow. In other words, for most of the novel, I didn’t really have a lot of trouble finding a place to stop and put the book down for a bit – until the last 100 pages or so. By the end, the story had really picked up. All the events and tension building throughout the book come to a head and set off an intense chain of events leading to a dramatic conclusion.

I was a little taken aback by the way the book ended. It first it felt a little abrupt, but I realized it was because I had been reading this lengthy book for so long that I had become committed to the story and wanted (or maybe just expected) it to continue. I think it was also because the title of the book, and the fact that it was told from mostly Cora’s point of view (as well as that of her mother and maid), made me believe the book was supposed to be about Cora’s life. However, in truth the book is more centered on marriage – the reasons why people enter into marriage, how those reasons and the past affect the marriage, how marriage changes people, and the choices and sacrifices marriage requires. As a newlywed, I found this theme of the novel the most intriguing – despite the fact that my modern marriage took place after four years of dating someone from my native country, not a foreign nobleman I only knew for a couple weeks. The American Heiress was a wonderful novel, but because of the length and sometimes dragging of this book, I would recommend it only if the time period and gossipy, romantic elements strongly appeal to you.

Have you read The American Heiress? What did you think? If you’re a fan of historical fiction, are there any other books you’d recommend?

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

(above image source)

 

My Life: What’s Up

 

 

What’s New:

  • She’s okay now, but Madison hurt her leg playing two weeks ago. She was crying and couldn’t put any weight on it, so we took her to the ER vet. The vet said she probably partially tore something in her leg, so we’ve made sure she’s been taking it easy, not walking up and down stairs a lot, not jumping on and off furniture, etc. We also found out she has arthritis in both her back legs, so we are looking into the best ways to help her.
  • This season our team hosted an invitational meet that is annually held between the three high schools in the district and local private high school. It hadn’t been held at our school in almost ten years, but we worked really hard and pulled it off! It went well and I’m glad it’s over.
  • This winter has been brutual! Our district used six calamity days in January alone. I can’t wait for the weather to warm up!

What I am…

  • Reading: I just finished reading The American Heiress (review to posted later this week!). I am going to start reading The Friday Night Knitting Club next. I’ve heard good things about it; have you read it?
  • Watching (TV): My favorite shows are The Mindy Project, Community, Bones, and Parks and Recreation. Are you watching the current seasons of any of those shows? I love How I Met Your Mother, too, but I didn’t enjoy the first couple episodes of this season so I wasn’t anxious to keep up, and now I’ve fallen way behind! HIMYM fans, it’s gotten better, right?
  • Watching (Netflix): Dan and I started watching and quickly finished Orange Is the New Black. It’s an awesome show about life in a women’s prison. I can’t wait for season two! We are currently watching Friday Night Lights. We can’t get enough! Does anyone else love that show?
  • Listening to: Pure Heroine by Lorde. The CD has been on repeat in my car ever since Dan got it for me for Christmas. 
  • Doing for fitness: A couple months ago, Dan and I joined a gym just a few minute drive from our apartment. In addition to swimming at the gym’s pool, I also log time on the cardio machine and do Tone It Up! routines. With swim season, I am have only been getting to the gym a couple times a week. I love coaching and will miss it when the season is over, but I am looking forward to having more time to work on my fitness goals!
  • Posting: I have a fitness Twitter account I have shared on this blog before, but I changed my username recently from @getfitgetstrong to @kcdaily_fit. In addition to my personal Instagram @beagleandbear (which I am a bit obsessed with), I have a fitness Instagram @beagleandbear_fit. Feel free to follow me!
  • Loving: Madison is recovering well, the days are getting longer again, curling up on the couch with a big cup of tea and a book, the White Barn Candle’s scent Winter, snacking on pretzel sticks.

What is new with you? 

weekly gems

 

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 Sunset in Columbus last weekend

 

things that are making me happy

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  • All the kinds of flavored coffee Dan & I got for Christmas
  • Staying safe & warm during this terrible weather, and the fact that my friends and family are, too
  • The perfect planner for a new year
  • New leggings to wear while rocking workouts at the gym
  • Speaking of workouts…I’m loving prepping for my first masters meet and participating in Tone It Up’s Love Your Body series!
  • Working ahead to finish the second half of swim season strong
  • Cuddling up with Madison, a good book, & a cup of tea
  • Sending and receiving hilarious texts with friends
  • Marathons of favorite TV shows
  • A good night’s sleep
  • Only 36 days until pitchers and catchers report!

What is making you happy as of late?

 

Read It: The Cuckoo’s Calling

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Title: The Cuckoo’s Calling

Author: Robert Galbraith, otherwise known as J. K. Rowling

Book Number: 1 out of 75 (as part of my 101 Things in 1001 Days journey)

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

Summary: Cormoran Strike is down on his luck. Having sustained a serious injury while serving in Afghanistan, he has returned to  London and opened his own struggling private detective agency. Already stressed with the debt he’s accumulated, Strike suddenly finds himself homeless when he and his long-term girlfriend finally call it quits. Fortunately for Strike, his luck is about to turn around. On the very day he finds himself now living out of his office and ignoring his lenders’ calls, a man named John Bistrow enters and begs him for help. Bistrow’s adopted sister, Lulu Landry, was a world-famous supermodel who fell to her death months earlier. Though ruled a suicide, Bistrow is convinced the police are wrong and Lulu was murdered. Strike, despite his doubts, accepts the case and soon finds himself sorting through the lives and secrets of multimillionaires. With the help of his temporary secretary Robin, Strike must prove to everyone Lulu was indeed murdered…before more innocent people fall to their death.

Thoughts: I’m a sucker for a good mystery. I usually read more lighthearted ones such as the Stephanie Plum or Heather Wells novels, but I was drawn to this book for a pretty common reason: It was actually written by J. K. Rowling, who has more than proven herself as one of the best storytellers of our lifetime. I have to say, though, it is not obvious it is written by her. Is it written in a descriptive, engaging, well-thought out manner? Absolutely. But while I was reading I didn’t feel like I was reading something written by an author I had read before. Every now and then I read a passage and thought, “I can see J. K. Rowling’s touch here,” but I doubt I would have thought that if I was reading it without knowledge of the true author. I think she did an excellent job of writing a totally different genre for a different audience, as do many other readers who wrote rave reviews of the novel before her identity was leaked. The character development was superb. While the actual storyline of investigating and solving the mystery could have felt slow at times, my attention was strongly held by the characters’ interactions and the singular personality of Strike. I especially enjoyed that while most the attention was focused on the main character of Strike, that Robin, his secretary and sort-of deputy, was given specific focus at times. It added depth to the story and perspective on Strike. Overall, I loved this book and eagerly await its sequel due out this year.

 

Have you read The Cuckoo’s Calling? What did you think? What about The Casual Vacancy, J.K. Rowling’s first post-Harry Potter adult novel? I received both as Christmas gifts and I’m excited to read The Casual Vacancy soon, too.

Are you on Goodreads? I am. Let’s be friends!

Above image source

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