Sunday, January 29, 2017

2016 Book of the Year: Elite Eight

Don't worry. I hadn't forgotten that I was in the middle of whittling books down to my favorite read of 2016. It's been a very long and trying week and I've not been feeling that energetic. I'm in the middle of my 8th month of pregnancy and I'm starting to feel pretty exhausted and uncomfortable. 

In addition, we had a pig with a very difficult farrowing early in the week that resulted in the loss of several piglets. We had the surviving four piglets in the house, but unfortunately lost one yesterday to seizures. We had revived her twice and were monitoring and nursing her for nearly fourteen hours straight, but she just couldn't pull through. We were both fairly devastated. Our farm is a business, but our animals have never just been a dollar sign. We care very much about them all and to have one hurting or suffering is incredibly hard. To lose one is heartbreaking. Her three siblings are still going strong and getting bigger and healthier by the day, but we aren't out of the woods yet. We're hoping that in the next week they will continue to do well and we can feel a little more confident that we have succeeded in preparing them for a nice, long life.

Enough of the depressing stuff though...I've had enough of that in the last couple of days. How about instead, we talk books?

This is where we begin for my 2016 BOTY Bracket...

In my last two posts, I gave a brief review of each of the challengers in both the left and right halves of the bracket. Today, we're going to cut the participants in half. Some of these eliminations are simple. Some...not so much.

Bracket 1:

The first rule of my eliminations has always been to default to the ratings. Higher ratings always win. No excuses, no exceptions. So...some of these eliminations will be pretty cut and dry. In this case, we have a 4-star review vs. a 3-star. That means The Goal is out and Porko von Popbutton lives to fight another day.

Bracket 2:

These were both received 3-star ratings, so there was a bit more deliberation involved in choosing a winner. I will admit though, this one was fairly easy to decide. Kaling edges out Hessler simply because I find a humorous autobiography more interesting and enjoyable than a travel memoir in this particular case. Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling advances to the Elite Eight.

Bracket 3:

Four stars v. two. No contest. Annie Proulx easily wins this round and The Shipping News is moving on.

Bracket 4:

I enjoyed the Faulkner and may read it again in the future, but once again ratings win out. 3.5 stars v. 4 stars. If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo edges out the competition to take the bracket.

Bracket 5:
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling (adaptation by John Tiffany and Jack Thorne)

This one is a case where my failure to adhere to Goodreads's whole star rating system works in someone's favor. 3 stars vs. 3 1/2. Harry Potter, though not as impressive as I had originally hoped, beats out Alexie to move into the next round.

Bracket 6:

Ah, the ratings match-ups are making a lot of these nice and simple. I'll take it! Matson's 4-star rating takes down Harris's 3 stars handily. Since You've Been Gone takes bracket 6 and pushes on.

Bracket 7:

Two stars versus four stars and a pretty cover? Fukuzawa didn't stand a chance. Winner, winner? Arcadia by Tom Stoppard.

Bracket 8:

Ah...and we save the most challenging bracket for last. Two good books, both 4-star ratings. Authors? Both adorable and funny. I really didn't like that they were pitted against each other right away. Darn you random sequence generator! But...we all know how it goes. It starts getting painful at some stage in the game. It took me some deliberation, but I finally made a decision on this one. Sometimes it's hard to say goodbye. The ultimate winner of this bracket of awesomeness? Lindsey Stirling's The Only Pirate at the Party. Sorry, Tyler. Better luck next time.

And there you have it...we're officially down to eight. I realized while writing up this round that I didn't have a single 5-star read last year. I find that incredibly sad. I'm going to have to work a little harder at it this year. But...there are still some darned good contenders. Given the ratings rule, some of you undoubtedly recognize that there are some obvious eliminations that will be coming. But never fear, there will be some painful eliminations along the way. And ultimately, there will be a very good book that takes the crown. Can you guess the winner yet? 

Next up: Eliminations to the Final Four...

Saturday, January 21, 2017

2016 Book of the Year: Right Side Opening Bracket

This weekend, I was actually planning on participating in the 24 in 48 Read-a-Thon. But...I was lazy with my schoolwork this week and fell a bit behind, plus I have a pile of projects that really need to get finished/started/worked on around here. Baby is only about 2 months away and things are still a bit chaotic and unprepared. Okay...a lot chaotic. So...I bailed. Besides, I said that my next post was the right side of the bracket, so at least I'm keeping to my word on that.

As a reminder, this is what the starting bracket for this year's Book of the Year looks like. I went through the basics of the left side last time, so now we're moving on to the other half of the challengers.

Ready? Here we go...

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Rating: 3 stars

I had been wanting to read this one since it caused a stir in my local community. I snagged it as a used book and, while still worth the read, it's one that I'm glad I got at a discounted price. (I'm a book snob, so I always like a deal.) To put it bluntly, I really didn't see the reasoning behind the controversy. I've read much more shocking books. This one seemed pretty tame, all things considered. It's on the younger end of the young adult fiction spectrum; I would say geared toward middle schoolers. For my thinking, it's appropriate for that age set and provides a good set of moral lessons for an age group where learning to treat others with equality and fairness is paramount.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling (adaptation by John Tiffany and Jack Thorne)

Genre: Play / Young Adult Fiction / Fantasy
Rating: 3 stars (3 1/2 outside of Goodreads)

For those living under a rock, this is the script for a play based on J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter. I bought this very shortly after its release and read it within a couple of days. I wrote a fairly lengthy review on it on Goodreads, but the basic gist of my feelings for this were that it was good, but not as good as the core Harry Potter series. I didn't mind the play format, but I didn't like that it was so obvious in the writing that J.K. Rowling was not the sole writer. Her writing is magical and wonderful and this just wasn't it. I had attachments to the characters based on the earlier books and this story didn't seem to keep true to them as much as I had hoped. It's more like fan fiction than a true Potter work, but in the was worth the read. 

Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Rating: 4 stars

Since You've Been Gone had been sitting on my bookshelf for a very long time. I think I was afraid to read it because of how much I loved Amy & Roger's Epic Detour. I didn't want to be disappointed when I expected so much of Morgan Matson's writing. But...when it came time to grab books to take on a plane, this one went in the bag because I figured it would be a good and fast read. I was right. And it was worth it. It had playlists just like Amy & Roger and I just wanted to hug Morgan Matson for that. It's such a fun and cute thing to do. But...because I'm getting apparently stingy with my 5-star ratings, the overly perfect ending just didn't sit right with me. I don't know why. Why can't I just be happy for these characters?!?! Maybe I'm just getting old and cynical. Either way, I still gave it a nice solid 4.

Genre: Memoir / Humor
Rating: 3 stars

I had been anticipating the release of this book for quite a while and managed to get it for review, which totally had me stoked. And yet, for some reason, I then let it sit on the shelf untouched for a few months. Eventually, I buckled down and read it. I was pretty entertained by Harris's cheeky humor and his way of just infusing his happy-go-lucky personality into everything, but I was surprisingly disappointed by the Choose Your Own Adventure approach. I must just be too much of a traditional reader at this point because I couldn't play along with the game...I had to read the book start to finish in order to make sure I didn't miss anything, but didn't have to read the same thing more than once. I know...I'm such a party pooper.

Genre: Historical Autobiography
Rating: 2 stars

This was required reading for my Asian history class. While it did provide a lot of good historical context that gave me a first-hand view of the events we studied for the course, it was incredibly slow to get started and he seemed to be a bit cocky with his writing. The book is filled with piles of footnotes that probably take up more space in the book than Fukuzawa's actual memories. Ultimately, this just wasn't my thing.

Arcadia by Tom Stoppard

Genre: Play
Rating: 4 stars

I read this play as part of my Literary Analysis course. I wasn't originally thrilled about reading a play, but I will admit that I enjoyed a little bit of cover lust. This play has an interesting plot structure with the entire plot taking place in a single location, but with two different plot lines 100 years apart. It's incredibly smart and fun. I actually expect that this one will be up for a reread. That's how much I enjoyed it.

Binge by Tyler Oakley

Genre: Memoir / Humor
Rating: 4 stars

Binge was my first read of 2016 and was a gift from the boyfriend after hearing me talk about how much I enjoyed Tyler Oakley. For those who don't know him, Oakley is a popular YouTuber and he's incredibly sweet and funny. He's a character with a love for life and he has no problem with being 100% genuine, no matter the circumstances. His memoir was a lovely collection of funny stories and I laughed out loud on more than one occasion.

Genre: Memoir / Humor
Rating: 4 stars

I've liked Lindsey Stirling since the moment I first saw one of her YouTube videos. She's a smart and sweet girl with a huge bucket of talent. When I saw that this book existed, I just felt a need to read it. I'm not huge on autobiographies (though my 2016 reads would certainly make everyone think otherwise), but I had some odd need to know more about her. Her memoir (an odd thing to call the book of a 30-year-old) was as cute as she is and read incredibly easy. She is an honest and down-to-earth person, but still manages to keep some of her personal life respectfully private during the narrative. The Only Pirate at the Party was worth the read and the money.

And there you have it! Sixteen competitors all wanting to win the title of my 2016 Book of the Year. Have your predictions for the final four? Or maybe you already think you've picked out my number one read... We'll have to see. Half of the contenders get the ax in the next post. Are you ready for some heartbreak?

Oh...and for the record...yes...I already know the winner.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

2016 Book of the Year: Opening Bracket

It wouldn't be January if I didn't do my Book of the Year Bracket. I'm admitting this right out of the reading for last year was pretty pathetic. I only finished eighteen books during the entire year. That's just a wee bit shy of my goal of forty. Oops. But...tradition is tradition, so we're going to carry on, despite the reduced number of books to work with.

It's an odd mix this year. In order to fit in a standard bracket, I reduced the eighteen books to sixteen by removing two books from the list: an anthology and a pregnancy book...difficult ones to use as challengers. Still...that leaves me with a very...eclectic group of books. Out of the sixteen challengers, nine are fiction and seven are non-fiction. That's a lot of non-fiction. Included are two plays, a children's book, a travel book, a religion book, and five (what?!?) autobiographies. It was a weird year of reading, you guys. Even more surprising...only four of the fiction novels are young adult fiction. That might be a record low in YA fiction percentage. This is what happens when the majority of your reads come from course assignments.

I arranged the bracket using a random list generator based on when I completed each book. Once again, that totally bit me in the behind in that it (spoiler alert!) paired two of my favorites against each other in the bottom right bracket. I considered tweaking the bracket to suit my preferences, but...I kept my crap together and kept the bracket honest.

Here's where we start...

Now...let's meet the left side challengers...

Porko von Popbutton by William Pene du Bois

Genre: Children's book
Rating: 4 stars

I read this one as a recommendation from the boyfriend. It was his favorite childhood book. I have to's a cute story, but it would totally not fly in today's PC society. One of a series of books based on the seven deadly sins, Porko von Popbutton focuses on gluttony. There is a set of moral lessons within the pages, just a somewhat questionable approach in light of today's approach to childhood obesity. was published in the 60's, so I'll cut it a bit of slack. 

The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement by Eliyahu M. Goldratt

Genre: Business / Fiction
Rating: 3 stars

I read The Goal as an assignment for my course in Supply Chain Management. It was better than I expected it to be, to be honest. There are a lot of good business lessons in it, along with a lot of basic economic principles demonstrated in practical ways, but it also reads like a good story. It actually took me a while to realize that it was a novel and not non-fiction. I guess that means it's fairly well-written. My biggest disappointment with this book? Rather lack luster ending. I am very picky about my endings.

Genre: Travel memoir
Rating: 3 stars

River Town was another course assignment, this time for my Asian history course. It follows the author's time as a Peace Corps associated teacher in China during the late nineties. I found this one interesting as my friend (and fellow blogger at In Search of the End of the Sidewalk) also spent some time under the same circumstances. I enjoyed hearing her views of the book, as she could see the narrative from a incredibly different perspective. Overall, the organization of the story was a bit rambling for me, but it gave me some decent exposure to a culture that I prior knew very little about.

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

Genre: Autobiography / Humor
Rating: 3 stars

Ah...a book I actually chose because I wanted to read it. Yes...those did exist last year. Why Not Me? was actually my final read of 2016. I read it on a plane on my way back to Idaho for Christmas. I have to's a good airline read. Relaxed and entertaining, it's quippy and fun. But...ultimately, as much as I enjoy could tell this was a follow-up (likely obligated by some prior contract) and it just wasn't as much fun as her first book.

Genre: Contemporary fiction
Rating: 4 stars

This was the read for my final project in my literary analysis course. I ended up writing a huge term paper on it. Thank goodness it was an interesting book. I had never read Proulx before, but I had heard her talked up several times. With good reason. Her writing is beautiful. Her characters are odd, but still realistic. Her narrative just worked. Really well. She is a master at using literary devices and I enjoyed very much analyzing the characters, their interactions, and her subtle mastery of her craft. And now you're wondering why it wasn't rated 5 stars. Honestly? I just wasn't in love with the story. I enjoyed it quite a bit, but it didn't grip me in the way I feel a 5 star read should. Ultimately...I'm just getting stingier about my ratings.

Genre: Religious nonfiction
Rating: 2 stars

I'll be honest...this was likely my least favorite book of the year. It's more or less a primer for Islamic culture and the history of its religious sects. It was required reading for my Asian history course and I was highly disappointed in it. It's incredibly dense to read in the beginning and I trudged through it. Nonfiction is hard enough for me to make it through, and this approach was just too rigid.

Genre: Classic Fiction
Rating: 3 stars (technically 3.5 stars outside of Goodreads' system) 

Another book from Literary Analysis. Let's call this one an oldie, but a goodie. It definitely has fantastic literary merit. Faulkner was very good at subtlety and there is a lot hidden within the pages. Without a doubt, this one is a novel which will reveal more with each subsequent read. I don't frequently do rereads, but I have a feeling this one may come along my TBR list again in the future.

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Rating: 4 stars

This was a gifted book from another book blogger, the lovely Julianne from Outlandish Lit. I had heard about it for a while and was fairly curious. I was highly impressed. It's a brave narrative, but one that is becoming more accepted as our society becomes more tolerant. For that, I am grateful. Diverse books can always be a great thing. This one is among a small handful of trans literature out there. If I Was Your Girl is amazingly written with fantastically complex characters and realistic dialogue. I read this one in a single sitting, completely fascinated by the story. It's not overly in your face, nor is it highly politicized. It is simply the story of a teenager trying to be accepted. Absolutely worth the read.

Whew! Maybe it's a good thing I didn't read many books last year. This post got long really fast. That wraps up the left side of the bracket. You can probably already figure out a few of the winners and unfortunate losers that will take place in the first elimination, but undoubtedly there will still be a few unpredictables (just the way I like it).

Next up? The right side challengers. There's some good competition in that side as well...including the most heated bracket of the opener.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Bout of Books 18: Wrap Up

And...just like that Bout of Books 18 has come to an end. Read-a-thon weeks always seem to go too fast. I didn't do as much reading as I would have liked to, but that's my own fault. For some reason, motivating myself to read was difficult. I think I'm still slowly trying to pull myself out of last year's reading slump. But...I am still pretty pleased with how much I actually did get done. I will say that having a tracker with little checkboxes is a darned good way to make myself feel better about what I accomplish.

Since the last time I posted an update, I finished a book, started a new one, and participated in the second Twitter chat. I'm calling that a success. The chat was fun, as always, and the ever present book recommendation question resulted in me adding a new pile of books to the TBR. This may be to my detriment, but I don't care. I like finding new authors and books. Variety is the spice of life, right?

Books I Finished:

I am so pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. I will admit...I was skeptical at first. sister-in-law praised it, so I figured I had to take it on. I'm so glad I did. It was just the jump start I needed. My creativity has been lingering and I haven't written or made anything in far too long. I just wasn't feeling the spark. But this book has reminded me of why I do the creative things I do. It's for the joy I find in them for myself. They don't need to be anything magnificent or astounding to anyone else in the world as long as they make me happy. It's freeing to come back to that realization. It makes me find joy in the idea of jumping back in. I'm very thankful for that.

What I'm Reading Now:

I got this book from a friend of a friend in a Facebook book exchange. Best. Idea. Ever. I love getting random books, especially from another avid reader. Even better? Not only did this friend of a friend rave about this was already in my TBR pile. Perfection. I'm breezing through it and so far I'm pretty pleased. I'm even happier to know that this is my third book of 2017 and it's not even half way through January. I'm already doing so much better than I did for most of last year. If I can kick this reading slump, I will be a very happy camper. I've missed it.

Look at all of those pretty checkmarks!! Obviously I didn't fill them all, but I am so pleased by how many I did get to paste in. Each one of them brightened the smile on my face. It's so nice to know that I did something I can account for in a visual way. I may not be back to the levels of reading I was doing a few years ago, but it's such an amazing improvement over last year. Thank goodness!

Read-a-thons always seem to make me happy. I'm not typically a very social person, but enjoying something like this with other readers just makes me giddy. I am so very thankful for those who take the time and effort to put these event on. So...thank you Amanda and Kelly!!

And now that the read-a-thon is over, what will I do? Ah...the blogging will continue! Next up? The 2016 Book of the Year. Yep. Even though my reading was minuscule last year, I'm still going to put the books through the bracket. And there is another read-a-thon coming up shortly! The 24 in 48 happens later this month, so I'll be joining in on that one. There are things other than reading that will be getting written about, but the'll have to wait and see.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Bout of Books 18: Update 1

Bout of Books 18 rolls on! I started out fairly strong, but then had a busy day followed by a couple of relatively lazy days. But...that's what I like best about BoB. No pressure, just read when and what I feel like.

I did show up for the first of two Twitter chats and it was fantastic as usual. Always so many fun people. It goes at a ridiculously fast pace. Be need TweetDeck to survive a BoB chat.

Though I haven't busted out a pile of pages, I did manage to finish my first book of 2017. On Monday, I completed John Green's An Abundance of Katherines. It was just what I always expect from a John Green read. It was relaxed and fun, the kind of book that can always drag me out of a reading slump. His books are always worth a read.

I got this one from my sister-in-law when I was back in Idaho for Christmas. It's nonfiction, all about taking charge of your creativity and going after what you want to do when it comes to producing your own creative product, whatever the medium may be.

For me, this is coming at just the right time and I'm very glad she thought of me when she had an extra copy. I used to write a lot, but I've let it fall aside, questioning my own abilities and wondering what they could possibly do for me in the grand scheme of things. But this book is reminding me that it's not important that your creative endeavors result in something earth shattering or magnificent. It's important to instead pursue your creative interests with appropriate passion and a lack of fear. It's been fairly inspirational thus far.

Though I didn't set any official goals for this read-a-thon, I more or less piggybacked on a set of goals from a prior Bout of Books. And though there may not be a lot of checkmarks present on the graphic, I'm pretty pleased with how it's looking so far. Compared to my last abysmal read-a-thon performance, I'm actually making some progress. It's nice to feel like I'm getting back to the kind of reading I used to love to do.

And now...there are still three days to go. AND another Twitter chat on Saturday morning. I'm a little giddy about it.

How's your 2017 reading start going?

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Bout of Books 18

Bout of Books 18

I'm a little slow getting to this thanks to my slow blog reading, but since it's officially after midnight on January 2nd in my particular time zone, Bout of Books 18 has officially begun! It's one of my favorite read-a-thons and I'm actually going to get to do a little participating since I'm between semesters. I love it when I get to read my own choice of books and not just assignments for classes!

Not familiar with Bout of Books?
The Bout of Books Read-a-Thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It's a week long read-a-thon that begins at 12:01am on Monday, January 2nd and runs through Sunday, January 8th in whatever timezone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 18 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog
-From the Bout of Books team.
I've participated several times over the last few years, but my last participation was a little lacking. I missed out on one and a half of the Twitter chats, which are my favorite many good book bloggers out there! I also did rather sad in the actual reading department. But...that's going to change this time darn it! There WILL. BE. READING! As for the chats, there are two of on Monday night and one on Saturday morning. I'm hoping to be involved in at least one from start to finish and I'd very much love to get both.

What I'll Be Reading:

Sometimes I'm a planner, sometimes I'm not. This time...well...we're going with not...I'm just going to be grabbing books from my shelf that I've been wanting to get to for the last year or so. There will be no rhyme or reason, but likely some very good (and long overdue) reads.

Currently Reading: 
I'm currently reading An Abundance of Katherines by John Green, so that's where I'll be starting. I'm close to finished with that one, so I'm bound to be moving on to another before the day is out.

Goals / Progress:

I was looking at some older posts for prior Bout of Books read-a-thons and found the handy-dandy tracker I made a while ago. I've decided it's time to revive it...I always do better at things when I have some form of accountability.

I'm leaving my old goals from way back during Bout of Books 14, but I've added in the goal to participate in both Twitter chats. I'll be honest, I don't know that I'll made every check box on this tracker, but it is always fun to see how much I can complete. I'm going to give it a whirl and see where it takes me.


I'll be doing updates periodically throughout the week, most likely every other evening. I'm not committing to a set schedule for that because ... well ... I'm just getting back into the blog groove thing and I don't want to shoot myself in the foot. So we're just going to wing it for now, okay? Okay. Great. Glad we got that out of the way.

I'll be updating the tracker as I go as well as keeping a list of what I'm reading and what I've finished. You know...the basics.

I think that pretty much wraps up the intro. So...with that all managed, I'm off to do a little reading before I head to bed.

Happy read-a-thoning everyone!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Making Plans

Yes...the blog still exists. I've been hemming and hawing about writing simply because I didn't know quite what direction I was planning on taking. Honestly, it's still a bit of a craps shoot. But, I've flown by the seat of my pants plenty of times before, so why should now be different?

Where I've Been

It's actually been a bit of a crazy fast two months. Life moves too swiftly sometimes and the days just start blurring together. 2016 has been interesting, to say the least. My life is so incredibly different than it was just a year a lot of good ways. I'm happy. Really happy. And after a few years of a lot of stress and indecision, that is a wonderfully good thing.

I got out of a relationship that wasn't good for me. Things had been fading for the last couple of years and I had been struggling to keep it together, but it became clear that neither of us was benefiting from being with one another. It was painful and terrible and somewhat messy, but leaving was the right thing to do. And in the end, I found someone who truly values me for who I am and who treats me incredibly well. He is kind and generous and loving and I am incredibly lucky to be able to be with him.

I also discovered that getting out of a profession that I didn't love was one of the best things I could do for myself. It was a decision that wasn't completely voluntary thanks to some medical issues, but I made some major changes that let me leave that life behind. At this point, I can honestly say that I don't miss dentistry. I do miss some of the people, but I don't miss the constant stress and the physical pain that came from trying to make every day work despite my illness. Luckily, I was at one point smart enough to prepare for the fact that I might one day not be able to work in the field, so I don't now have to feel like it owns me. I worked very hard for the thirteen years I ran my practice and now those years have become something that was a good investment.

Where I'm Going

As for where I go from here in the professional department, that's still a bit up for grabs. My good investment is paying off in more ways than one. Life has arranged itself in a way where I am stable enough to not have to work in a formal profession for the foreseeable future, so I can take my time and decide what I really want to do when I grow up. I've been attending college courses for the last two years and working on my English and accountancy degrees, but...I think I may shift things slightly once more. I'm good at accounting, but (much like dentistry) it just isn't something I love. Writing, on the other hand, has never failed to be something I enjoy. I'm considering taking next semester off, but I plan to continue to pursue some form of English education (and potential employment) -- formal or otherwise.

In the meantime, I have myself a pending new job. It's one that I'm terribly excited for. In just a few months, I should officially have myself the job title of Mommy. Amazing really.

I've always wanted to be a mother, but it just wasn't in the cards. (I'll likely write more about that at a later date.) After a trip back to Idaho to clean up some details from closing the business this past summer, I found myself terribly nauseated on the flight back to Minnesota. The feeling continued for days afterwards. A week later, I was surprised to learn that I was, in fact, not getting sick, but pregnant. It was a bit of a shock, but a really good one.

It's been a pretty good pregnancy thus far. I really can't complain. We've been getting excited and slowly accumulating things in preparation for his arrival. We still have a lot of work to do, but we're plodding along.

The house we live in is an old farm house that we have been planning on renovating. Originally, that was intended to be a slow-paced project, but a few things have needed to be accelerated since there will be a new baby in the house. Part of the new journey for the blog had been planned for following our home improvement projects, so now we're getting a bit of a jump start on that.

Right now, the projects are primarily focused on stripping wallpaper from two of the bedrooms and repainting. We'll be putting flooring into what was the storage room so that it can become our bedroom and the room we're currently in will become the nursery. The color palette for his room has been all picked out and he'll be decked out in foxes. (I'll share more about the house and our plans in a later post.)

Currently, we have about 11 weeks to get our act together and have everything somewhat prepared. Wallpaper has been removed from one of the rooms and it's ready to paint. We're moving boxes around to clear it out and then the fun begins. Once that paint is finished, I'll start removing wallpaper and painting the other room, while flooring is installed in the first. After that, it's furniture moving and assembly. With any luck, things will start really coming together over the next month.

In addition to the house projects, I'm taking an active part in running our farm. We raise Belted Galloway cattle (Oreo cookie cows) and Berkshire pigs (black pigs with white feet that have superior meat quality). We're likely adding some poultry and lambs in 2017. I'll be in charge of our blog (coming soon...) and our marketing/social media presence, in addition to helping with the day-to-day activities required to keep our little herds going. I'm very excited for what the next year could hold for us in that direction. It has some great promise and it's a life I really love. I'll be sharing bits and pieces of that here on this blog, but will mostly be directing that information to the upcoming new farm blog. (Keep an eye out for that in the next month. I'll be posting about it here.)

My goal with this blog for now is just to keep it going. I'm going to be making myself a new posting schedule to keep me in line and (with any luck) should be able to start having things to share over the next few weeks. The plan for now is to try and post at least once a week. Writing will be centered around a hodgepodge, per usual. There will be project posts, to be sure, but there will also be posts about books as in the past along with some farm stuff, some mommy stuff, and ... just life in general.

I realize that this has been a long and full post, but I needed to get myself caught up a bit so I had a place to start. If you've stuck with me this far, thanks. I'm really looking forward to sharing some of this new and crazy life with you. There is so much that it potentially has in store. Life is truly amazing. You can never quite predict what you're going to get.

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