Annual Year End Recap 2013

This is my fifth (non consecutive) year doing Linda's year end recap.  For a little history, here's 2008, 2009. 2010 and 2011.  It appears that I skipped it last year, I guess?

If you do this meme too, put a link in the comments. I'd love to read yours!

1. What did you do in 2013 that you'd never done before?
I said goodbye to my dad.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I don't make new year's resolutions. The key to happiness is low (or no!) expectations!

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Good friends here in town had a baby boy, who I plan to steal someday.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
My dad.

5. What countries did you visit?
None! Let's fix that!

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?
A sense of peacefulness in parenting my oldest, the ability to let go a little more with my youngest.

7. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
February 13, the day my dad died.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Giving my dad's eulogy, without (massively) crying.

9. What was your biggest failure?
It is always the same, every single year: losing my temper. Each and every time it happens I think: who is this monster?

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

11. What was the best thing you bought?
My new iphone is so much faster than my old one. But techinically my husband bought it for me for my birthday.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My mom. The way she cared for my dad during his final months, the way she grieves for him AND slowly rebuilds her life without him is a lesson in love and strength.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Anthony Wiener, Rob Ford, George Zimmerman.

14. Where did most of your money go?
It's the same every year:  mortgage, insurances/taxes, preschool, Wegmans, Target, Amazon. 

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Gay marriage. This civil right will stop being newsworthy someday and I'm so excited for that.

16. What song will always remind you of 2013?
Brave. This video, you guys, I dare you to watch it and NOT want to get up and dance.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? Happpier!  Thank you Pr0zac!
b) thinner or fatter?  Fatter!  Thank you Pr0zac!  And cookies!
c) richer or poorer? The same? I think?

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Writing. Exercising.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Same as every year: "Lost my temper. Curled inward instead of reaching outward."

20. How did you spend Christmas?
At our home with my mom visiting for the week. It was a quiet, lovely time with her and it was good to be together for this first Christmas without my dad.

21. Did you fall in love in 2013?
Just the usual, daily falling in love with my family.

22. What was your favorite TV program?
The New Girl. Orange is the New Black. Modern Family. Nashville (SHUT IT).

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
"Hate"? Blech.

24. What was the best book you read?
OOh. Pressure! I'm going to go with "The Fault in Our Stars", "Me Before You" and "The Secret Keeper".

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I love me some Macklemore.

26. What did you want and get?

27. What did you want and not get?
Just a little more time with my dad.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?
We NEVER go to the movies so I'm uniquely UNqualitifed to answer this question but I did really like "Gravity" for the sheer spectacle of it.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 41 on Thanksgiving and spent the day in that unmistakeable downward sickness spiral. You know the kind, where you slowly but surely get sicker by the hour and you just KNOW that it's going to get worse. BLECH.

Do over, please?

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
I said this two years ago: "a professional organizer to snap our house into shape." And it couldn't be more true now that we have TWO MORE YEARS WORTH OF CRAP IN OUR HOUSE.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?
Braces on my teeth! A brace around my midsection! Let's just brace EVERYTHING.

32. What kept you sane?
Pr0zac, exercise, the Brave video, reading, family and friends.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
In response to a Blathering question, I said Mark Ruffalo, who will always have my heart after "13 going on 30". However, I would like to get in line for Paul Rudd. 

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
Gay marriage in New Jersey and so many other states! I knew this would happen in my lifetime but I didn't think it would happen this quickly!

35. Who did you miss?
My dad.

36. Who was the best new person you met?
My friends' baby boy.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013.
The time to talk to your parents is now. Tell them you love them now. The time is now.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
"Maybe there’s a way out of the cage where you live
Maybe one of these days you can let the light in
Show me how big your brave is"

-Brave, Sara Bereilles

Happy New Year everyone!


Book Report - part two

Oh, man.

Do I still have a blog? Does blogger ever just revoke your entire blog due to inactivity?

I've been overwhelmed with parenting lately, my friends. Like, I-think-I-need-to-go-back-to-therapy- overwhelmed. And the older my kids get, the less I feel I can blog about it. It's true what they say about little kids, little problems, big kids, BIG PROBLEMS. So.


On to happier things! LIKE BOOOOOKKKS.

What have you read lately and loved? What book would you give to your best friend, assuming your best friend likes to read what you like to read because what else would you look for in a best friend?

SPILL IT, dear readers. I need some good new books (and tips on what to avoid).


I'm finally going to steal the format of Ms. Hillary over at Not Raising Brats. Instead of listing books chronologically based on when I read them, I'm listing them based on my recommendation level. I'm too late to recommend books you should request from Santa but maybe the big guy gave you a bookstore gift card?

Beg, borrow, or buy (Don't steal. Stealing's bad.)

Far From the Tree by Andrew Solomon

One of my only non-fiction reads of the year, this rumination on parent/child difference riveted me. In each chapter, Solomon tells us stories of exceptional children, from prodigies to schizophrenics, and how their parents learn to navigate the challenges and unexpected rewards of parenting someone very different from themselves. There are lessons here for all parents. For all humans. Read it.

American Wife: a novel by Curtis Sittenfeld

I'm going to be honest here: I really, REALLY disliked George Bush as a president. But I always found his wife to be inherently kind and quietly smart, which confused me - what did she see in him? So I was curious about this fictional take on her life and took Marie Green's recommendation of this book to heart. Many of the basic plot points are familiar - most famously, the jokey, overly confident husband who surprises everyone by becoming president! - but the details, the personalities, the complex emotions of each character were so well done. I felt like the marriage of George and Laura made sense all of a sudden. I even came to - almost - like George W.! Now THAT'S a writing accomplishment! An engrossing read, especially if you like romance or politics or both.

Heft by Liz Moore

Arthur Opp lives alone in his cluttered, dilapidated house of which he only sees the ground floor. You see, he's morbidly obese and hasn't left the house in years. He corresponds with a former student, manages to hire a housecleaner and hopes for his luck to magically change. Does it? Not a lot. But enough. This book about loneliness and sorrow and grief has a heart of hopeful gold.

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani

I LOVED the narrator/heroine in this coming-of-age novel. A teenage girl arrives at a Southern boarding school expecting to leave behind a complex family history, but instead encounters new challenges from her classmates and teachers. An intelligent, sensual, envy-enducingly awesome first novel.

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Perhaps nothing by Ms. Rowell will ever surpass the glory of Eleanor and Park but this was a great read in its own right. It's a love story for our age: a man in charge of reading his fellow co-workers' emails finds himself drawn to the exchanges of one female co-worker in particular. To fall in love over email is not so strange, but to fall in love over email the other person doesn't know you're reading? Well, that's new and strange and full of romantic comedy potential that Ms. Rowell exploits perfectly.  *insert heart symbol here*

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

I didn't love Ms. Morton's "Forgotten Garden." In fact, I believe I called it "forgettable."  But this novel, MAN, I loved this one. A young girl watches her gentle mother kill a mysterious stranger and many years later tries to unravel the mystery of who and why. We meet her mother as a young woman, a middle-aged mother, a dementia suffering grandmother. Sweeping, compelling, put-up-your-feet-and-turn-off-your-phone enjoyable.

Maybe, if they're cheap, your library list is short or the premise really floats your boat.

Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff

This YA novel follows an unnaturally empathic British teenager as she tries to unravel the mystery of her father's American friend who has gone missing. If you love YA mysteries, go for it.

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarity
Almost 40 year old Alice slips and hits her head after a spin class and suddenly she's 29 again, still in love with her husband and awaiting the birth of her first child. Imagine her surprise when she discovers she has three kids, is about to be divorced, and has become a person she doesn't recognize. I loved the premise but the ending felt off.

The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud

A childless elementary school teacher longs to be a world famous artist and befriends a beguiling foreign family who seem to have grasped every brass ring she lacks. She falls in love with each of them in turn, which becomes her undoing. It's a dark novel and though I believed in every character and every twist the story took, I felt sorry for them and sad by the end. Read it if you really don't mind disagreeable main characters.

The Silent Wife by A. S. A. Harrison

I borrowed this after hearing that Anne Lamott reportedly read it in one sitting. I didn't read it in one sitting but this tale of a marriage disintegrating into murder did keep my attention. My problem? I really couldn't stand either character and the writing sometimes stalled. If you loved "Gone Girl," you'll probably dig it.

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

Would you call this novel - about a time-traveling serial killer, his magically menacing house, and the girl he couldn't kill - science fiction, historical fiction, or horror? How about all three! I couldn't read this book at night before bed because I have the delicate psyche of a newborn Christmas elf. But if you love scary stuff, this was very well done.

Carry On Warrior by Glennon Melton

Quick, powerful, engaging. However, I did wonder just what she left out, glossed over or changed to suit her narrative. Go for it if you love her blog or really enjoy religious-y self-help.

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

I loved "Eat, Pray, Love" and I'm not embarrassed to say it. So I was extra excited to read this more highly esteemed historical novel about a female botanist who winds her way to evolutionary theory at the same time as Darwin. What was not to love about this premise? Well, it was beautifully written but I found it slow, tedious, boring at times. I don't know. Maybe I was just grumpy and needed a nap.

I'd go with NO.

Grave Mercy/Insurgent/Allegiant

Hey, you might like these but apparently I'm just not into most Science Fiction-y things.


"Take a breath. Start again."

I say this to the girls on a regular basis. When they're too frustrated to see clearly. When their thinking is clouded by self-doubt. When they forget that they are capable, good-hearted people.

I'm saying it to myself a lot lately.

It's not a news flash to anyone that this parenting gig is impossibly hard. And yet I find myself amazed at just how complex and challenging it is to raise these little human beings. Every day I fear the time for character development is already behind us, that I have failed them in some major, irretrievable way.

Suddenly my seven year old seems so big. So separate. So OLD.

I've never been interested in regrets, as it's clearly unhealthy to spend too much time thinking about them, but I sometimes lie awake and think about what I would do differently with her. Sometimes, especially late at night, I hunger to go back in time and try again.

There are many things that I would do differently but mostly this: every time I've stood in front of my child, filled frustration and fear, I would pause, breathe, and walk away instead of opening my mouth.

It feels so necessary at the time - CLEARLY I NEED TO SAY SOMETHING TO FIX THIS - but it isn't. It just isn't.

Since I don't have the option of taking anything back or starting anything over, I will do this.

I will take a breath. I will start again.

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