September Nightstand

It’s nightstand time again! Not only did I read a bunch of great books this month, I actually wrote them up!  I banged out 4 reviews in as many days, plus a video with my kiddos. Go me. Of course there are a few more I need to write now.

Tell me, have you read anything good lately?

Want to know what others are reading in the book blogosphere?  Click on over to Nightstand.

On my nightstand:  

  • The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood, who is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors.

Listening to:  

  • Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman, narrated by Cassandra Campbell.  We’re halfway through season 2 of the show, and this fits perfectly for “A book based on or turned into a TV show” and “A book with a color in the title.”

Reviews and Other Posts (links go to reviews):

  • Captain Underpants and the Sensational Saga of Sir Stinks-a-Lot by Dav Pilkey. This features a video of me and the boys talking about the book.
  • Finders Keepers by Stephen King, read by Will Patton. This is the second in a trilogy about a retired detective-turned-bounty hunter and his sidekicks and I enjoyed it. Looking forward to the third and final book.
  • Orphan Number Eight by Kim van Alkemade.  A nurse recognizes her new patient, an elderly and dying woman who was her doctor when she was a child in an orphanage in New York City. She discovers some horrific experiments that were performed on her back then and decides to exact revenge. Based on a true story.
  • Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave, read by Joy Osmanski.  When a woman discovers a secret being kept by her fiancee, she runs home to her parents vineyard. Only when she gets there she discovers her family is going through their own turmoil.
  • The Sparrow Sisters by Ellen Herrick. Magical realism, though very light compared to some other authors, about three sisters in a small town.

Reviews TBD:

  • The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey by Rinker Buck, narrated by the author, who with his brother travels the Oregon Trail in a wagon.  It was a bit slow at times but overall I enjoyed it.
  • Everything She Forgot by Lisa Ballantyne.  When a woman is saved from a car crash by a mysterious scarred stranger, it brings back memories of an event from her childhood.

Personal Reads:

  • The Glassblower by Petra Durst-Benning. I got this as a Kindle First read a while ago, and decided it fit for “A book you own, but have never read” and “A book that was originally written in a different language” (German) for the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge.  It’s the first in a trilogy but I don’t know that I’ll read the others, though I did like it.
  • The Rumor by Elin Hilderbrand.  This was my pick for “A book based entirely on its cover” and it was a good choice.  I saw it at the library last week, and who can resist 2 women on beach chairs?

That’s it for me this month.  Check out 5 Minutes for Books for what’s on nightstands across the globe!

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Daybook: September 27

Well I guess having a laptop again isn’t making me post more. I don’t bring it home every night, only if I’m going to be working from home.

Outside my window… There’s a supermoon eclipse, and if you didn’t know about it, you must be living under a rock. It was a bit cloudy when the moon first rose but by the time the eclipse started it cleared up so we had a great view of it.  I got out Alex’s telescope but I don’t really know how to use the filters or lenses, but it did magnify it a little. It was still very cool.  As for the weather, it’s been hot this week and will be hot again next week, at least for the first half.

I am reading…  The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood.  Listening to The Rumor by Elin Hilderbrand, which fills the “A book based entirely on its cover” slot and it was a good choice.  I’m almost done with it so need to figure out what to read next.

I am watching…  New fall shows!  Yay!  It’s been fun watching Orange is the New Black but I’m happy new shows are starting.  So far of the new shows we’ve watched Scream Queens, the Muppets, and Heroes Reborn, and I’m kind of meh on all of them.

Around the house… This is more of a clothing thing but it falls under the “clean out the house” category so I’m putting it here. A friend of mine told me about Thred Up, which is an online consignment store. I got a bag to fill with clothes that I’ll send in, and then will get money to spend on the site or through Paypal.  They are pretty picky about brands but I do have enough Old Navy and a few other brands.  Unfortunately they don’t take Children’s Place which is probably half of the boys’ clothes.

In health and wellness…  I had a dentist appointment a few weeks ago and they decided my old metal fillings need to finally be replaced. So tomorrow morning I get to have my teeth drilled.  I also have to have bloodwork done for my benefits wellness screening. Fun fun.

In Scouts… We had a Scout busy weekend.  Alex went camping with Boy Scouts, it was Camporee which is a big event that all of the area troops go to. The theme was Survivor and his patrol of 4 boys, who were the youngest kids there, won the whole thing!  They competed in a number of events, then the teams that won the most events went to tribal council where they did a skit. And their skit won by applause.

Then Jon, Zach, and I went on the pack hike at Camp Nicol, which is the Cub Scout camp. The hike was led by some Venturer Scouts (it’s a co-ed Scouting program that does a lot more outdoors stuff) and we went on a different route than past hikes.

In Sports…  So far Zach’s flag football team is 0-2.  In both games the other team scored on a breakaway run with seconds to go in the game.  The team isn’t bad, they just need more practice. Zach is doing really well at both QB and running back, though I think he’s better at running back.  He almost scored a few times but ended up out of bounds. At the game on Saturday I volunteered to run the sticks, which was fun. I got the down marker stick so had to follow the ball as it moved across the field.

This week…  Isn’t too busy, as weeks go.  Alex has a troop meeting, NJHS, and LEGO Robotics.  Zach has football practice, a den meeting, and he’s doing both choir and the Scrabble club but those are in the morning before school. I have the dentist and bloodwork. Jon just has football practice, and he needs to spend time getting some schoolwork done. Oh and we have a Scout committee meeting this week too.

Next weekend is the middle school color run, which I volunteered to help at, then Zach has a flag football game. Oh and Alex has to mow the neighbor’s lawn, he did that today too. A guy in the neighborhood posted in our FB group that he was looking for someone to mow his lawn while he was on vacation. For 3 weeks of mowing, he’ll get $60, most of which will go toward his Europe trip.

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Daybook: September 13

I’m writing this from my new work laptop. I’ve missed having a laptop. We have one for the family, but Jon’s usually using it, and I don’t like the keyboard. Actually I’m not a fan of the keyboard on this one either but I’m getting used to it. Anyway…

Outside my window…  there’s a nice breeze and actually it could be a little cooler, it was 90 today.  I’m definitely not ready for summer to be over so that’s not a complaint.

I am reading…  Everything She Forgot by Lisa Ballantyne.  It’s not quite what I expected but good so far – a woman is in a car accident and a strange man saves her, which brings back repressed memories of an event from her childhood. I’m listening to The Oregon Trail by Rinker Buck — the author and his brother crossed the trail in a wagon pulled by mules. I’m really enjoying it, both the historical stuff about the original pioneers and the current parts about the modern day crossing.

I am watching…  Fear the Walking Dead. We’ve been binge-watching Orange is the New Black so it’s nice to watch something different.

In health…  Have I mentioned Alex now has contacts?  He refuses to wear his glasses so the eye doc recommended daily wear lenses. After some “I can’t do it” moaning the first day, he now has no problem putting them in and taking them out. He said they sometimes fall out at school so he’ll need to take drops with him.  Also now that we have regular health insurance again I made dentist appointments for me and the boys. I haven’t been since April of last year and it’s been a year for the boys.  I’m not looking forward to the tartar removal.

In work…  First few weeks of the job are going well.  I’ve had training on the product I’m testing and am working on getting everything configured on my laptop. I’ve been doing some QA training and that will continue this week. I love my under 15 minute commute (time varies depending on whether I hit red or green lights) and I’m home by 5 every day.

This week…  We’re back to the craziness of school nights.  Alex has Boy Scouts and LEGO Robotics, Zach has flag football and Cub Scout pack meeting, I have PTO and a dentist appointment, Jon also has flag football since he’s coaching and a classified teacher’s union meeting.  We also have my company’s end-of-summer picnic.  Saturday is the first flag football game, and Sunday Alex is volunteering with his troop at the pancake breakfast at the church where they meet.  Which means the rest of us will go get pancakes too.


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August Nightstand

It’s nightstand time again! I had another good reading and writing month. I like when I can fit in some personal reads along with the review books. Have you read anything good lately?

Want to know what others are reading in the book blogosphere?  Click on over to Nightstand.

On my nightstand:  

  • The Sparrow Sisters by Ellen Herrick

Listening to:  

  • Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave, read by Joy Osmanski

Reviews and Other Posts (links go to reviews):

  • From Scratch by Rachel Goodman – fun Southern romance about a woman who returns home to run the family diner and has to confront the man and relationship she ran away from 5 years earlier.
  • The Hypnotist by Gordon Snider – The 1906 San Francisco earthquake is the real star of this novel about a woman who is able to resist a man who hypnotizes women and then turns them over to the Chinese who run the brothels in Chinatown.
  • Cafe Tropicana by Belinda Jones.  Fun romp about a woman who opens a coffee shop on the beach in Costa Rica, torn between 2 sexy men. What a rough life.
  • My essay 5 Thrillers Like Gone Girl includes a mini review of Pretty Is by Maggie Mitchell, about 2 women who were kidnapped at the age of 12, and events that force them to confront what happened so long ago.

Reviews TBD:

  • Orphan Number Eight by Kim van Alkemade.  A nurse recognizes her new patient, an elderly and dying woman who was her doctor when she was a child in an orphanage in New York City. She discovers some horrific experiments that were performed on her back then and decides to exact revenge. Based on a true story.
  • Finders Keepers by Stephen King, read by Will Patton. This is the second in a trilogy and I enjoyed it.

Personal Reads:

  • Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer, read by Jorjeana Marie. This is my “book set in a high school” pick for the Pop Sugar challenge. I liked the magical realism aspect but felt the twist was a bit contrite and overwrought.
  • Chomp by Carl Hiassen, read by James Van Der Beek. The boys and I listened to this on a road trip and all really enjoyed it.
  • Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris, read by Johanna Parker. Book #12 in the Sookie Stackhouse series. One more to go!

That’s it for me this month.  Check out 5 Minutes for Books for what’s on nightstands across the globe!

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Daybook: August 23

Outside my window…  it’s cool, it’s been cool the last few days and I’m not complaining.  I’m sure we’ll have a few more scorchers before fall kicks in. Yesterday was hazy and smokey from the fires in the northwest but fortunately today was better. It brought back memories of the fires here 3 years ago and I do not miss it. I hope they get those taken care of, there are firefighters from Colorado out there helping out.

I am reading…  The Sparrow Sisters Ellen Herrick, I’m not too far into it but it’s about 3 sisters in a small New England town, and has some magical realism in it.  Today I started listening to Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave.  Nightstand is Tuesday, don’t miss it!

Around the house… I vacuumed the whole house today. Isn’t that exciting?  Actually I dusted downstairs too and cleaned up a lot of clutter, it looks good. I also posted a bunch of things on eBay and the FB garage sale sites yesterday so we do have some boxes in the corner but those should be gone soon.

In job news…  After a snafu where my drug test came back positive for opiates (never eat a poppy seed bagel if you may have a drug test!) I start my new job tomorrow. I’m excited and nervous, which I guess is normal. I got an email from the team lead on Friday so I have an idea of what to expect tomorrow.

In school…  The boys started last week – Thursday for Zach, Friday for Alex.  Zach has lots of friends in his class, but there’s only 2 classes of ~30 kids each so it will be a challenge. He likes his teacher so far and I think is happy to be back, though he’ll never admit it.

Alex too seems happy to be back, he was not at all looking forward to it but he seems happy with his teachers and has some friends in each class. He’s too cool for a backpack or even a messenger bag this year and just has everything in his binder. We’ll see how long that lasts.

Our vacation… was really good, we had a great time. We did the food tour and ate as much “home” food as possible – pizza, bagels, Chinese, White Manna (this awesome little burger joint that’s been making sliders since before they were called sliders)… I even had Italian Ice.  We went to the shore with friends, did a scavenger hunt around Central Park, went through my FIL’s house to determine what to toss/sell/keep, and had a good-bye bbq with friends and family. It was great seeing everybody, it’s been 3 years since our last trip and I really miss everyone.

This weekend…  We went to the Peach Festival Saturday, which I always enjoy. The kids did some bouncy houses (those things have come a long way), Jon did a beer tour, we ran into our old neighbors, and came home with some peaches. Sunday I spent the day cleaning the house.

This week…  it’s back to the school grind. Tonight is Court of Honor for Scouts, and Thursday is Alex’s back to school night, then I have bunco. Friday is our neighborhood night out. Amazingly we have no plans for the weekend.

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So last weekend, Jon ran the Wild West Relay for the second year (I never posted my write-up of that weekend – oops). The boys and I drove up to Craig on Friday and joined some friends at the community pool there, which has a wave pool, slides and a diving board. My friend’s father grew up there so she enjoyed showing her kids his house and reminiscing about visiting the pool as a child. The kids had an absolute blast in the wave pool, though we didn’t know they were closing early for a private party so ended up only spending about 2 hours there.

Friday night we left the kiddos with the older kids in charge and the 4 moms went to a nearby restaurant for dinner and drinks. My kids did as they were told and went back to our room at 9 and were asleep when I got home. The other kids were still up so I’m glad mine listened!

Saturday we drove up to see Jon run his last leg on Rabbit Ears Pass, then met up with everyone at the finish line. His team finished 28th out of 51 in the overall competition, not too shabby! They had some really fast runners this year. After the runners got some food, showered, and rested, we had a bbq on the patio of our hotel, which was lots of fun. The adults ate and drank, the kids swam. Good times.

Sunday we joined up with our friends again and went over to Fish Creek Falls. It’s a really short hike down to the base of the falls, then the bigger kids climbed up the rocks to as high as you can go. Jon sat with his feet in the ice cold river for like half an hour.

After the hike we said good bye to the one group of friends who were leaving, then went to lunch with another family at the Rio. The boys wanted to do the bungee jump at the base of the ski mountain and Jon wanted a nap, then we just hung out for a while in the room. For dinner we went to a hole-in-the-wall place that had just burgers and sandwiches but it was pretty good.

Monday was our last day. We went to breakfast at Freshie’s, known for their food, then met up with our friends again to go to the hot springs. Actually I dropped the boys off, went back to pack and check out, then joined them back at the springs. We went for an early dinner at the Ore House, which was pricey but really good, then finally headed home.

Overall we had a really good weekend. The boys had their usual moments but they were few and far between. One of Zach’s best friends was there so he was happy. Alex is at an odd age in this group, there are 2 boys that are 2 years younger than him (and they are best friends), a boy who is 2 years older, and a girl that’s his age (technically she’s a year older but they’re in the same grade).  He used to hang with the 14 year old but he ran the race this year so stuck more with the adults than the kids.  But Alex is a chameleon with other kids so hung mostly with the boys 2 years younger. He and the girl his age also hung out some, at one point it was those two plus Zach in the pool; we joked Zach was the chaperone.

Camera Uploads

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Daybook: August 9

Outside my window… It’s sunny at 9am, going to be hot again. It’s been crazy hot this week – high 90s – and I can’t handle that kind of heat. Of course I have the humidity of New Jersey to look forward to so I shouldn’t complain.

I am reading…  From Scratch by Rachel Goodman.  Listening to Finders Keepers by Stephen King, it’s the sequel to Mr. Mercedes, although I think there will be a third book. Does that still make the second book a sequel?

In job news…  I got a new job!  When I found out my contract was ending I started looking for a new job again, and at the same time I received a notice that an energy company I had applied for previously was hiring again. After an online recorded interview (an experience I don’t think I want to repeat, though it had it’s positives), a technical interview, and a 3 hour grueling interview with developers, QAs, and managers, I was offered the job. Things got a bit nerve-wracking as I had also received an offer for a 2-year contract at another company, but I really wanted the energy company position.  The salary is less than I’ve been making but it’s only 11 minutes from home with some big growth potential, and it will push me out of my comfort zone. I start after the kids go back to school so get a couple of weeks home with them.

In pets…  This week we said good bye to Voldemort the corn snake. Alex really hasn’t paid him much attention in recent months, only taking him out to feed him, then putting him right back.  A couple of months ago Volde bit him, and then he was afraid to even touch him. I posted him on Craigslist and a nice young man came and picked him up yesterday. We still have the enclosure and accessories for future reptiles or even for fish. I kind of miss have the snake around, I used to go in and just watch him.

This week… is our 6th anniversary of moving to Colorado. I went back and read some of my “NJ vs CO” posts from right after we moved and I’m amused by what I found to be major differences. Those things have become so commonplace to me now. Someone asked me recently how big the culture shock was when we moved here but I couldn’t really think of any examples other than the weather, traffic, and sheer amount of people. I missed having a lot of trees at first but now I love all of the open space.

What’s funny is some of the things I missed are now available here. Dunkin Donuts opened earlier this year, I just found out about a pick-your-own strawberry farm that I took the kids to yesterday, and we also now have a Trader Joe’s. We’ve even found pizza that while is definitely not Jersey pizza, isn’t terrible.

We’ve also had so many new experiences we never would have had, had we not moved. We have driving access to so many more states, the amazing skiing, and even things like going to the rodeo. And there are so many other things we haven’t done yet.

I do miss the food, our families, and the ocean, but I’m happy we’re here.

In school…  School starts in under 2 weeks.  I took the boys shopping the other day for backpacks and a few other things. Both talked me into new lunch bags, and Alex has decided backpacks are not cool and has a binder. We’ll see how this works, as I know he’ll get tired of carrying his things but he swears he won’t. Zach’s backpack is packed so we just need to organize Alex’s and figure out out how to get his various folders and notebooks to school. Maybe I can get him to take a backpack the first day just so he doesn’t have to carry everything.

In vacations…  did I mention we were in Steamboat last weekend?  Probably not, I try not to advertise when we’ll be away (notice how vague I’ve been about our trip to NJ). I’ll write up a separate post as it started to get long but suffice it to say we had a great weekend.

A Picture Thought…

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