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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Reading Update - April 2016

This email looks like I read a ton in April, but I really just read in starts and bits and not at all as much as I'd have liked. April is a tough month. School is getting boring for the kids, but summer is still so far, so there are constant struggles, the boys both have birthdays and that eats up a whole week, this year we ran a half marathon as well. I'd like to have my own personal Read-A-Thon to catch up now!

Read in April:

Because of Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn. I loved this. One of my favorites in a long time.

Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg. Not worth the time. A book about productivity should inspire me, and this one did not.

Playing Hard by Melanie Scott. I'm about half done. There's a scene coming I don't want to read and I haven't read Scott before so I don't know if I can trust her to make it good, so I sat it aside for a bit.

Blues Bones by Rick Starkey-- Previewed for Tristan. Eh.

The Bride by Julie Garwood. I could not resist rereading at least one. Still good, but dated.

A Rogue by Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean. (Scribd) Still reading, so far I enjoy it.

Chi Running by Danny Dreyer. (Scribd) I'd really like to not keep getting injured by the sport I love. Barely started it at this point.

Sleepless in Manhattan by Sarah Morgan (NetGalley) Also barely started.

New to My Kindle

Hold Your Breath by Katie Ruggle (NetGalley)

From This Day Forward by Lauren Layne (NetGalley)

The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy by Julia Quinn ($1.99 on Kindle!)

Because of Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn (Kindle)

The Morning Miracle: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8 AM) by Hal Elrod (Kindle) Really really really need to bump this up, I've heard so many good results!

Tough Luck Hero by Maisey Yates (NetGalley)

Cowboy After Dark by Vicki Lewis Thompson (NetGalley)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

2016 River Rat Half Marathon - Yankton, SD

Last weekend we took a running vacation and ran the River Rat Half Marathon in Yankton, SD.  Mike and I have been training for this basically since New Year's, and it was always the SD half that Mike wanted to run the most. This was his first half, and my second.  Training went well for both us us, up until about three weeks ago. That week was birthday week at our house, and neither of us ran for the entire week. Mike returned to running that weekend, and I followed up on Monday the 11th with my 12 mile long run, and then disaster struck. My right shin started to hurt, in the same area as my previous stress fracture. The pain wasn't the same, but I was incredibly anxious about it. Mike continued to train, and I proceeded to not run again until the half two weeks later.
I was determined that Mike would have a terrific first half, so I decided that I would register for the race and continue like I was going to run, but reevaluate often and bow out if it hurt at all.  The first mile I could feel the sore area, but I concentrated on short, fast steps and kept going. At the end of two miles I could not feel it at all, so I kept going... and it never hurt again. Even after it was over, it did not hurt. I was thrilled to be able to run, and since I didn't think I would make it I had no time expectations, so I was able to run slow and careful and not concern myself with pace.
High Fives from Noah at the start line.

The route for the River Rat begins on the Missouri River, very near the bridge to Nebraska. You quickly leave the waterfront, and run past the hospital and monastery to get onto Highway 50 out of town. As you leave town, you run down a giant hill, and the entire time all you can think is that you have to get back UP that hill at some point.  There's a couple miles of out and back, and then you're staring down that hill again. The half marathon route loops around a shaded, semi-residential route, but ultimately the elevation climb is the same, because at the top of the climb it meets back up on the same road. (The full marathoners have to run back up the highway.)
See the giant hill behind me?
 After the giant hill, it winds around by the high school before dropping onto the Auld-Brokaw trail through town. The trail is concrete (the entire race is on hard surface, fyi) and there are several little pigtail loops under roads, but you don't have to wait for traffic anywhere. There's about 2.5 miles left at this point, and I was getting a little tired. (Remember, I'd only run once in the preceding three weeks!) I was faster than the walkers but slower than the other runners so I was weirdly all alone on the route. For several miles I couldn't see any other runners at all. The last mile and a half were back near the river and the wind had picked up significantly. At once point there was a break in the wind and I literally stumbled from the lack of resistance.  The route takes a right turn and you can see the finish line ahead of you in the park, but! jokes on you! cause they route you all the way around the park to come back at it from the other direction. I was pretty beat by the end of it, but if I learned nothing from Crazy Horse it was to smile for the camera.

Finish line!

Mike finished about 15 minutes behind me, and while neither of us were last, it was not a fast run. We were both thrilled to have finished at all tho, and felt like the run was a complete success. The race seems fairly unorganized- there aren't any emails telling you where to go or where to line up or if there is any food after. There are no vendors at packet pickup and no options to buy other swag. You show up at the start line and follow the crowd, but it's a small crowd, so it's ok. That said, the volunteers are terrific and even the slow runners at the end get kudos and cheers as they pass the water stations, and there are volunteers at literally every turn cheering and clapping and helping out. The SD National Guard is on many of the corners prior to getting on the trail, and every single one cheered and clapped for me. There were only 162 runners for the half, and a $60 entry fee, and even with the giant hill I think it would be a great first marathon.  My knees hurt quite a bit that night, but my shins were/are fine and three days later I only have a little quad pain, and am ready to run again.
Family finish photo!
The best part though, hands down, was that our chosen family, our family BFFs went with us.  The got a room next to ours overlooking the pool and hung with us for the entire weekend. We made signs the week before when Mike was gone, and they hauled our three kids, plus their own, around the race to cheer and were at the start and finish lines for us. I can not express how much this means to me, and how much I love those guys.

Our signs included:
-Hurry Up So We Can Drink
-YOU are my favorite runner!
-Run Faster, I just Farted. (Kids, what are you gonna do?)
-Run Like You Stole Something
- GO Mike and Lisa GO
-Go Dad Go I Love You
-Run for the Hill (with detailed illustration)
- You aren't slow, you're getting your money's worth!
-Power Up Here! (with a green power up "button")
Plus pom poms and a cowbell!
The boys helping me at the bottom of the big hill.

Mike gets a boost from Lauren a few minutes later.

The hotel had a terrific pool, a little kid pool, and a hot tub and the kids played for hours and hours, and slept really well. My niece came over the night after the race to babysit poolside and the grownups went to dinner and relaxed. It was such a great trip.

Noah trying to stare holes through their closed curtains. He was the first kid up on Sunday.
Next up: the Aberdeen Bull Run Half Marathon on July 30th!

Hurry Up So We Can Drink!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

One Night Charmer by Maisey Yates

Maisey Yate? Yes, please!

From Amazon:
Copper Ridge, Oregon's favorite bachelor is about to meet his match

If the devil wore flannel, he'd look like Ace Thompson. He's gruff. Opinionated. Infernally hot. The last person that Sierra West wants to ask for a bartending job—not that she has a choice. Ever since discovering that her "perfect" family is built on a lie, Sierra has been determined to make it on her own. Resisting her new boss should be easy when they're always bickering. Until one night, the squabbling stops…and something far more dangerous takes over.

Ace has a personal policy against messing around with staff—or with spoiled rich girls. But there's a steel backbone beneath Sierra's silver-spoon upbringing. She's tougher than he thought, and so much more tempting. Enough to make him want to break all his rules, even if it means risking his heart…

So it looks like Maisey Yates is going to follow the plan laid out by Shalvis' Lucky Harbor and Mallery's Fool's Gold and run an extended small town series focus around small groups of three, a series within a series. This is a setup I enjoy, and of course now I'll be keeping my eye out looking for potential matchups.

As it turns out, this one is a bit hard to talk about without spoilers, as a major event happens early on in the book. This was shocking to me, something you rarely see in novels published this decade, and I immediately worried that it would fall flat.  The unfolding is well done tho, with the reader clearly in the loop from the first moment and instead of playing off as completely corny, the expectation from the reader is built up nicely.  I thought it was handled really well. However, I suspect some readers will hate it. (Sorry to be vague, but spoilers!)

Ace is charming and hot and from his appearance in the first three Copper Ridge books I thought I knew who he was. As it turns out, Ave hides a lot behind his role as the helpful bartender, and his life is empty and lonely. Ace knows everyone and likes everyone but feels like he's messed up so much of his life outside of Copper Ridge and can't really ever recover.  Fortunately for him, Sierra comes along and demands that he face his past (it's really not optional, at all) and while he struggles a bit with it he ultimately pulls it together.

Sierra is a bit of a contradiction. She is a spoiled rich kid, absolutely, but she's also smart and capable. She might have worked at daddy's ranch, but she was good at it. She struggles to find her place when she leaves the ranch, because of course everyone thinks she only got the job because she's family, when really she's a hard worker and completely able to handle what's thrown her way.  I did have a hard time with her stubbornness, and was grateful when she acknowledged that even she wasn't consistent (for example, she keeps driving the truck her dad paid for, after cutting ties.)

In the end, I did enjoy this a good bit. I wasn't expecting to, after the big secret is revealed, but it ended on a good note and I would not hesitate to request another.

One Night Charmer is released on April 19th.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Five Thoughts on Books

1. I really love NetGalley. It lets me keep up with my favorite authors in more ways than just receiving ARCS. I am awful at tracking release dates and with NetGalley they mostly just show up. (Except for Avon books, sob.)

2. That said, some days I'd really like to abandon my list and binge on a dozen or so rereads.  What would I reread? The entire Bridgerton series. Robert's Bride Quartet. In the Midnight Rain. (duh, always that one.) Some Julie Garwood, but not The Secret, because that's the one I always reread. And, heaven help me, Harry Potter.

3. I'd also like to finish up some series of books that I've enjoyed but never come back to. Namely, the Darynda Jones Charley Davidson series, and the rest of Julie James FBI/ US Attorney series.

4. I'd love to try out Caroline Linden's Scandal series and Sarah MacLean's Scoundrels.

5. And last, we've recently discovered that the high school senior at my office, the one who is already accepted to law school after her bachelors, the one one with the terrific ACT score and GPA, only "Sparks Noted" To Kill A Mockingbird. After an office wide discussion of this tragedy, I now need to reread it. It only remains to be seen if I can bear to read it in paper or if I need to buy it on Kindle. I still have my copy from high school...

Friday, April 08, 2016

Five Random things this week

1. My oldest child, the Pirate, turned 11 yesterday.  Noah will be 8 on Sunday. How are either of these things possible? We got him a skateboard, and they all took turns on it. I spent the entire time imagining broken arms.

2. Our washing machine has stopped draining completely, and on Sunday (ie. Laundry Day) it stopped altogether. We are the sort of people who like to break things worse fix it ourselves, so we took it apart. Last night we discovered a sock in the water pump. Thinking this was likely our problem, we reassembled and ran a small load. Turns out, it was not our problem. It is back to working poorly now tho, instead of not working at all.

3.Mini review! I've had Charles Duhigg's first book, The Power of Habit, on my TBR forever because it's gotten such good reviews, so when I say Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business on NetGalley I was quick to snatch it up.  This one starts out strong and interesting, but after the first two chapters it kind of peters out and seems to lose focus. I was really hoping for some insights to productivity at work, but they weren't here.  I can't recommend it.

4. We have a birthday party tomorrow at our house. I have done zero cleaning and my planning extends to ordering a cake. Can I just throw them on the trampoline and offer them some koolaid? Cause that's the current plan.

5. Mike and I are running a half marathon on April 23rd. I did not run ONCE this week. It could be ugly.  I really need summer to get here so days are longer and we aren't trying to keep a decent schedule for the sake of school!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Reading Update- March 2016

It's not looking like I got much reading done in March, is it?  I have been spending much of my free time working on Lauren's quilt this month, and also? That Morton book wasn't really short!

Read in March:

The Lake House by Kate Morton (Library) - I should really write a review of this. I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. I am definitely going to look up more Morton books.

Haunted Destiny by Heather Graham (NetGalley). So many plot holes. Review scheduled for May 24th.

One Night Charmer by Maisey Yates (NetGalley) Oh Man, this one has such a cliche, front and center. It's well done though. Review to come mid- April.

Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg (NetGalley)  Interesting, but occasionally not attention keeping.

Take Me, Cowboy by Maisey Yates.  Even my love of Yates is stretched here. It feels like she's duplicating the setup for the first three Copper Ridge books. (Still reading this one)

New to my Kindle in March:

So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson (Library)

Love and Other Scandals by Caroline Linden (Library)

The Happiness Equation by Neil Pasricha (NetGalley)

Sleepless in Manhattan by Sarah Morgan (NetGalley)
Haunted Destiny by Heather Graham (NetGalley)

Blues Bones by Rick Starkey (NetGalley)

Betting on the Rookie by Stephanie Doyle (NetGalley)

Sex in the Museum by Sarah Forbes (NetGalley)

Good Girl by Lauren Layne (NetGalley)

Last Ride to Graceland by Kim Wright (NetGalley)

Thursday, March 24, 2016

A Day in the Life - March 2016

My BFF Trish is hosting another Day In The Life Linkup and I'm pretty sure participation was mandatory.  I recorded a typical Tuesday, March 22.

5:40  My alarm goes off. This is my "late" alarm, we went to bed later than normal last night because of a school function. I'm in Lauren's bed and Ezio is happy that someone is awake to play.  I stop and brush my teeth and spray some dry shampoo on my way to the coffee pot. (I only wash hair every other day, unless I need to look nicer than usual.)  I always set up the coffee pot the night before so it's waiting for me to get up. This may be the only habit I regularly keep.

You're Awake!?

6:08  Mike is up. Typically, Noah is the first one up, but today it's Mike. He gets coffee too and we sit on the couch in silence a few minutes and check email and facebook. By 6:30 all the kids are up so we start moving faster. I go to get dressed, Mike goes to shower, and we start our first round of "are you dressed yet? how about now? now?" My kids aren't big morning eaters, and no one is hungry today so that helps.  They all get a morning snack at school, and lunch is early, so I don't feel guilty.

7:20 Mike leaves early today so it's left to me to push everyone into coats and find shoes. I very very rarely leave before the kids, but somehow Mike misses this part of the program a couple days a week.

7:30 We are in the car! I hush the kids because my new car is making a noise and I want to record it on my phone.  The car does not repeat the noise but we are halfway to school before the kids realize it and start talking.
That's right, stop being cute when I take the picture.

7:50  First one at work! As usual. One of my bosses gets here and we chat while we wait for the coffee, and then it's time to buckle down.  I have 46 unread email in my various work inboxes. Most of my job is talking to applicants and processing applications for various state licensing boards. There are a lot of checklists involved, and a lot of basic applicant questions (Where do I get...? Where do I send....? Have you received...? Does this qualify?) It's not creative, but I really love it. I especially enjoy that every application has a built in check list, and even though I didn't make this list it is fun to check the last box and hand it off. Most applications take several weeks to complete with documents from multiple sources, and some can be 30+ pages in the end. It's a lot of detail, but I am good at it. (If a bit behind at the moment!)

8:20  Got distracted at the copier talking to one of the ladies we share a building with about last night's elementary school concert. (43 email)

10:00  Email count 65. This is not going in the direction I had hoped.

10:53 Turns out 24 of them were pictures of my worst phobia. This is statement is 100% literally true. And yet, I love my job!  Down to 45 email again.  Note, there is more to my job than email but sometimes email take over.

11:30  Super long call with a training school and it's time for a snack. I brought cottage cheese and cherry tomatoes from home today in an effort to be healthy, but the work pantry is stocked with goodies. I'm starting with my cottage cheese. Go me!  Typically I'd eat lunch around now, but my schedule is off today because I told the kids I'd pick them up instead of them taking the bus at 3.

12:23  I couldn't resist the jelly beans any longer.  Email count: 39

12:45  Trish can't help but ask if I've forgotten to keep track. Nope! So far so good!

2:00  Still working. Haven't go back into the jelly beans yet! Email count: 31

2:48  Finally! Time to go get my kids and run them home. The boys don't enjoy the after school program and are finally old enough to be home alone for an hour or so. We reward good behavior at school with this hour of free time.  Meanwhile, my email count is at 27.

4:00 Back at work. Picked up the boys and got halfway home before Tristan told me he forgot his take home math test and science presentation, both due tomorrow. We had to run back to school to get those and then back home again. Then I had to run a work errand at 3:30 that I skid into just exactly at 3:30 and now I'm back at my desk. I grabbed a snack of carrots and snap peas out of the office pantry and hopefully that'll carry me home at 5:00. Nope, had a handful of Pringles too.

4:50 One more quick meeting with my boss and I'm heading out at 5. Feeling fairly behind on most of my work today, as most of it was spent replying to email and putting out fires. Current email count: 16.

5:00 Leave work and head over to pick up Lauren at the after school program.  Got home to find Mike just back from a run, so I threw on my running clothes and headed out while he made dinner.  2.78 miles in light rain, real feel temp= 40F. Slightly chilly, but my running jacket is cheap and doesn't breathe so it was pretty sweaty inside.  Got home just as everyone was sitting down to eat (Red Beans and Rice with Ham).

Not my actual rainy run, Sunday's trail run.

6:00 Bath night. Oh joy. Not. Start baths and realize someone has to go get milk or there will be no coffee in the morning, so once Lauren is out of the tub I head to the store.

7:30 Home from the store to discover that the child who forgot his take home math test and had me take him back to school for it, did not in fact get his take home math test.  It is not a pretty scene.  We work on the science presentation for an hour or so though and he is amazingly cooperative about it. He's now grounded from fun electronics, so it's straight to bed after we are done.

Maybe next time bring your work home?
9:00  At some point Mike has put Noah and Lauren to bed, so I take Tristan. Sleep has always been an issue at our house, and it's no different these days. Lauren is sleeping in our bed, Noah is in his own, and I lie down with Tristan in his. As usual, I fall asleep there after reading a bit on my phone.

Midnight    I wake up in Tristan's bed and relocate into Lauren's empty bed. Most nights someone other than Lauren ends up sleeping there-- I should REALLY invest in a good mattress!

How was your day? Interested in seeing how other people live? Go over and check out the link up!

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