Book Buying in the Post-Jurassic Era

I let my kids watch Jurassic Park today. I was feeling brave. They loved it. While we were watching it, I was trying to explain extinction to my kids in a way they would understand. I guess all they gathered is that all the dinosaurs were alive once and now they’re dead. This prompted the age old question: “Mom, were you born when dinosaurs were still alive?” Lovely. I laughed so hard I think I insulted my daughter’s intellectual curiosity. I may have also had spittle on my chin.

In Post-Jurassic news, I am continuing on with my Book Blogger Challenge.

Day Six: Describe how you shop for books.

I can answer this question two ways. How do I shop for books, as in, how do I buy books? Let’s see… um, I don’t. I check books out of the library. I have read 100 books since January 1st. I can’t afford to buy books. When I do buy them (and they have to cost $1.99 or less) I buy them on Amazon.com and read them on my Kindle. I used to go to bookstores, once upon a time. And then I had kids. Browsing is in the extinction category of my current life.

Second way to ask this question is: how do I select the books I read? Well, that’s easy. Genre. It depends on what kind of story I want to read. I rarely read non-fiction, but when I do, it’s about something interesting to me. I think I’ve read, maybe, 4 non-fiction books in the last 12 months. One of them was about health, one about parenting, one about Socio-Economics (don’t ask) and the last was about finding hope. With fiction, I started off the year reading straight up romances and Young Adult post-apocalyptic fiction. Right now I’m heavily into Urban Fantasy and I am quickly running out of authors to try. I’m reading through series like they’re going out of style.

What’s your favorite genre to read?

My Whole 30 Update

weight loss-1Last Monday, I started the Whole 30 Challenge to try to lose some weight and change my life. Because that’s what the program claims will happen. Well, I’ll give them that. It definitely changed my life. It left me miserable, hungry and feeling bad about myself. I kept a journal, so you can see what I was feeling each day:

Day One:

Black coffee is gross! By 1 p.m. I had a massive headache. I am feeling depressed and more anxious than normal. I had to lie down for a while by 3 p.m. Mike said I was quiet and subdued; he could tell I wasn’t myself. By the end of the night, my hands had tremors.

Day Two:

I’m very sluggish today. My head is still aching, although not quite as bad as yesterday. My muscles are stiff, especially in my neck and upper back and I had a really hard time waking up this morning. I feel like I could have slept all day today. I’m depressed. I couldn’t bring myself to eat the pork tenderloin I made for dinner. The thought of eating it repulsed me.

Day Three:

I’m still tired, but my headache is lessening. I have no interest in doing anything other than reading a book. 2 hours after my dinner, my stomach felt hollow and I was hungry again. Nothing I eat is satisfying.

Day Four:

My headache was gone and I felt like I had some energy this morning. But by dinnertime I had a pounding headache, felt weak and when I tried to eat the dinner I made I almost threw up. The taste of the meat turned my stomach. I could smell the corn tortilla chips I had given to the kids to eat with my mexi-beef dinner and the desire to eat a friggin white-corn tortilla chip was so strong that I had to leave the table. I spent the rest of the night in a funk – depressed because I would rather starve myself than eat the foods I’m allowed to have. The taste of them is unsatisfying and oftentimes unappetizing.

Day Five:

I woke up with a pounding, head-swelling headache. I didn’t have any desire to get out of bed. I was out of spinach for my morning smoothie and the thought of eating eggs made me sick. So I ate oatmeal and spent the rest of the morning feeling guilty for cheating and feeling like a failure. But my headache is gone. The chicken salad I made for lunch turned my stomach and I literally ended up spitting out what I was chewing because it made me sick. Mike came home and told me he couldn’t stand to see me “this way” and announced that we were going out to dinner. I ordered what I was craving, and by the time we were driving home, I was finally feeling more like my old self.

Yep, that’s it. I made it five whole days. Way to go, Tamara, for completing the Whole 5 Challenge! Yay! But really, I learned some things about myself in those five, long, horrible days:

  1. I have a relationship with food in which food brings me comfort. I wasn’t able to get that comfort this week, making me depressed and miserable.
  2. I really, truly dislike black coffee. If I could never have my non-dairy creamer again, I would give up drinking coffee.
  3. Without any kind of sauces or starches on the side, I don’t like meat. Guess I’m a closet vegetarian who hates vegetables. Who knew? I sure didn’t!
  4. I would rather be comfortably overweight and happy than be thinner and miserable.
  5. I need to learn to love myself the way I am.

And there you have it. My Whole 30 update is complete. From here on out, the only thing I will keep doing is avoiding sugar. I’m not going to make myself crazy, but I think I can handle not adding sugar to anything and not eating anything that has corn syrup in it (which I was already doing).

What kind of relationship do you have with food? What do you get out of eating other than nourishment?

The Berserker Tear-Jerker

I think I’m fighting a losing battle with the Whole 30. I’m really hating life right now and I’m only on day five. Twenty-five more days of starvation may help me drop some weight, but I don’t think its worth it. Although, if I give up so soon, I’ll feel like a failure and feel worse about myself. So the million dollar question is: do I feel bad about myself for giving up my super restrictive diet plan, or do I feel bad for the next month because I’m miserable eating food I hate and hungry (because I’d rather not eat than eat food I hate)?

Anyhoo, now that I’m done playing my tiny little violin of pity, let me get back to my Book Blogger Challenge.

Day Five: Recommend a tear-jerker.

I don’t like books that make me cry. I feel like I’ve cried enough in the last two years over things in my own life to last me a long, long time. So I don’t want my escape mechanism of reading to also make me cry. But I have read one whole tear-jerker this year that my book club (when I was still going) was reading. And I would definitely recommend it: “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan” by Lisa See.

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I have a hard time sometimes getting into books about different cultures. Not because I don’t think different cultures are interesting, but because I can’t relate. I get angry when cultural rules or mores abuse people and suppress their natural human rights. I feel thankful that, being a woman, I live in America in the present time.

I didn’t have a hard time getting into Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. Probably because its about women and friendship. I think that topic might just be universal. The book is about two girls from different classes in 19th century China, one lower class, one upper class, who spend their lives building a friendship through the sharing of their emotions and thoughts. They send each other secret communications that they write on a silk fan. They find comfort in each other in a time where being a woman in China (two words: foot binding) had nothing comforting to offer.

The tear-jerker part, other than the misery of their lives, is that the women have a misunderstanding that could potentially destroy their friendship. The woman telling the story is the lower class girl, Lily, and as she is the one who damages this lifelong friendship, you really feel her heartbreak, guilt and regret as well as her love for her friend.

What I got out of it, other than the fierce desire to name a daughter Plum Blossom or Beautiful Moon, is that women need each other. We have these crazy close friendships with other women because they are essential to our emotional well-being. No one will ever truly understand what a woman is going through or has gone through like another woman. No one can prepare you for a life event like a woman who has already experienced it. Women just get what it means to be a woman. And we can support each other emotionally because of that.

Personally, the real tear-jerker part was that Snow Flower, who takes such joy from her children, keeps losing babies. She tries to communicate the anguish and despair, the life-altering sorrow of those losses to Lily, her closest friend, but Lily doesn’t understand. She hasn’t experienced it and she doesn’t know how to comfort Snow Flower. This made me bawl openly. I mean, I was crying tears the way a berserker would fight a battle. I wanted to smack the crap out of Lily because the things she said to Snow Flower to snap her out of this depression were stupid and mean. I wanted to comfort this poor fictional woman who was steeped in despair and self-loathing because I understood what she was feeling. I understand that loss. And it made me relive my own feelings about all of my lost babies. “Cry Me a River” you say, Justin Timberlake? Oh, I did. I most certainly did.

I may just go cry another one.

What’s the last book that made you cry?

A Sugar Withdrawal Coma Killed my Blog Post

Well, I dropped the ball yesterday. This Whole 30 thing is kicking my butt! I’ve spent the last 72 hours going through sugar withdrawal and with the way I felt, I thought for sure I was going to wake up this morning looking like Lindsay Lohan. No luck with that, but that’s cool because I like my botexless lips just the way they are.

Since I missed Day Three of my Book Blogger Challenge yesterday, I’ll do 3 & 4 today.

Day Three: Who are your blogging BFFS?

That would be Mary at Contrary Mom and Levi at LPStribling. Wow, that was too easy to answer. Guess you’re glad I was in a sugar withdrawal coma on my couch yesterday, don’t you? Because now you get to keep reading!

Day Four: What’s the last book you flung across the room?

That would be the final Sookie Stackhouse novel, “Dead Ever After” by Charlaine Harris. Although, I only mentally threw it across the room because I can’t bring myself to damage a book. And it was a library book, so I didn’t want to mess with public property. I did, however, let out an amazingly loud “What?!” and a disgusted snort that echoed throughout my quiet neighborhood (I had the front door open!) before I snapped the book shut and walked away.

I have to warn those of you who still haven’t read the book and plan to that the rest of this blog will be a spoiler alert, so stop now and come back later when you’ve wasted your time finally gotten around to reading it.

This book was the thirteenth book in a series that started in 2001. I had been eagerly awaiting the publishing release date of the last 2 books and would dedicate an entire day on the weekend to just sit down and read the newest book in one sitting. That’s how much I’ve enjoyed them. The twelve book was good, but the story line I was interested in (aka the LOVE stuff) wasn’t too prevalent and I was really hoping that would be what the final book touched on. Instead, what I got was, in my opinion, a half-assed story line that felt forced and rushed so that Ms. Harris could finish out her series and wash her hands of Sookie and her supernatural friends. I’ve spent years and 10, count them, TEN books investing myself in a fictitious romance between two specific characters and instead of getting any kind of closure or happily ever after, what did I get? A wishy-washy, emotionless breakup and a dive right into a new relationship bullshit fest that ended the book with no closure whatsoever. Frankly, the whole thing disgusts me. That book deserved to be thrown across the room! In fact, just reliving the feelings that finishing that book evoked, I feel like I need to go out and check it out of the library again just so I can throw it at a wall.

I may even have to write some fan fiction so I can finish the series the way I wanted it to be finished. The reader is always right, right? Or is that the customer? Either way, if I had actually purchased it, I would be both.

Bedtime Reading Ritual

Day Two of the Book Blogger Challenge: What is your bedtime reading ritual?

My kids go to bed at 7:30 p.m. After I’ve tucked them in, I go sit on the couch with my book. Most nights my husband and I read for an hour and then watch a 40 minute show on Netflix. We seem to keep finishing a TV show we like and then have to wait a year for the next season to come out on DVD. Or we watch it to its end. Right now we switch between watching re-runs of Supernatural since we’ve watched all the ones that are out on DVD, Fringe, White Collar and Arrested Development. About 3 or 4 nights a week, Mike and I forgo the TV show and read until 9:30 when we hit the hay. If I’m reading a page-turner, I forgo all TV, even when my husband is watching it, and I usually go to bed later.

For my kids’ reading ritual, I usually spend about 20-30 minutes sitting on either the couch or the floor with them and their pile of library books. We hit the library once a week so the kids can return their week-old books and get new ones. I end up reading all of the books, anywhere from 6 to 8, every time we sit down. Sometimes I have to cut it short of the whole pile. Especially now that my daughter has discovered chapter books. I can’t read an entire chapter book in one sitting unless its the only book in the pile! The kids’ favorite chapter book series right now is the Mercy Watson series by Kate DiCamillo.

Mercy Watson

Mercy Watson: Something Wonky This Way Comes

I used to read to them before bed, but we’ve had to cut reading from our bedtime ritual. 30 minutes of reading when the kids are whiny and tired and interrupting me and asking for water, a kiss, to be tucked in again… it makes me crazy. We read during the day. And then Mike reads with them again in the evening.

I’ve read that reading before bed is good for people who need to wind down. I’m one of those people, but reading doesn’t always wind me down. Sometimes, when I’m so invested in a book that I can’t put it down, I lay in bed thinking about it. Probably explains why I dream about books! And now that I’m writing my own fiction, there are many nights I lay awake thinking about my characters and where they might go.

Have you ever dreamed about characters from a book?

15 Book Related Confessions

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With the heat and the tedium of summer at home with kids I haven’t been feeling very inspired to write. So when I saw this challenge on my friend Stribling’s blog, I thought, I am so going to do this blog challenge. If I’m feeling particularly inspired to write about something else, I’ll blog about that instead and Mondays will be my Whole 30 Challenge updates for the next 4+ weeks so I won’t be a one-trick pony boring you to death. I hope! Book Blogger Challenge, here we go!

Day One: 15 Book Related Confessions

  1. I used to be a book snob. I loved reading literary fiction and the classics, but the plots were getting too emotional for me. I’ve got enough reality in my life; I don’t need to read about it too!
  2. I prefer reading series because its comforting reading a book with a bunch of characters you feel you know personally.
  3. I’m a romance junkie. I love my Sci Fi and Fantasy, but if there’s a love angle built in there, I will love it even more.
  4. Sometimes I get so attached to fictional characters that I go through withdrawal once I finish a series.
  5. I’ve re-read some of my favorite series maybe 5 or 6 times.
  6. I dream about books.
  7. I think I’ve learned more history and historical terms from the Historical Romances I’ve read than I ever did from a textbook.
  8. Damaging a book is sacrilege. Don’t you dare dog-ear a page in front of me!
  9. I’m a book sniffer. I like the smell of newly printed books and I’m not ashamed to take a whiff when I’m in a book store. The hardcover books printed on semi-gloss paper smell the best.
  10. I can read a book a day sometimes. Depending on the book and on the day.
  11. I can’t afford to buy the number of books I read in a year, so I’m practically a resident at my local library. Not only do they know me by name, I’ve had them reserve books for me when new ones come in that they think I’ll like. I have my library card number memorized.
  12. I want my kids to love reading as much as I do. I signed them up for the Children’s Library Summer Reading Challenge 3 weeks ago. They each pledged to read 50 books this summer. We’ve already read 30 (and that’s only counting library books).
  13. After 8 years of marriage to me, my husband has become an avid reader. I love it! We are currently reading the same series and I feel like we have our own mini book club discussions once the kids go to bed.
  14. When e-readers first came out, I was horrified. I went to college to work in the book publishing industry and the thought of electronic books was blasphemous! Then a friend bought me one for my birthday and I had to admit, they’re nice. And I can have 100 books on my Kindle that don’t take up any space in my house.
  15. I hate when people ask me my favorite book because I can’t choose just one. I feel like each good book is a piece of art. There have been many books I’ve read in my life that have blown my mind, so I can’t choose between them. I just can’t.

nerd girl #138

Do you have any book confessions to make? What’s the best book you’ve read this year, and what made you love it?

My Whole 30 Challenge

Ugh! Just typing that title makes me want to eat a bag of Jalapeño potato chips because I know that I’ll be feeling deprived of flavor for the next 30 days.

For those of you who have never heard of the Whole 30, I’ll try to break it down for you. It is a 30 day program in which I will be cutting out all “psychologically unhealthy, hormone-unbalancing, gut-disrupting, inflammatory food groups.” This is supposed to give my body time to heal from any damage those food groups have caused and to reset my metabolism. The website outlining the program claims that if I follow the guidelines it will change my life.

For 30 days I will only be eating whole foods. That means meat, eggs, seafood, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds and good fats like olive oil. That’s it. What I won’t be eating for 30 days is sugar of any kind (honey, syrup, etc), dairy, grains, legumes, white potatoes, alcohol, MSG or sulfites (which are preservatives).

Why am I doing this? I’ve heard it can break a sugar addiction, which I most certainly have. I’m already gluten free so my grains have been limited. When I started paying attention to what I was eating, it was still the starchy food that I was reaching for over the veggies and protein. I don’t drink, so the alcohol won’t be a problem at all. I even think the dairy won’t be too tough to cut out. But white potato, any added sugar and legumes. Yeah, that’s going to get rough. The program claims it will change my life and change the way I think about food, so I think its worth the effort.

Why am I doing this now? I’ve been thinking about doing this for a while, but I kept putting it off and putting it off. It’s so restrictive! And I have a weekly grocery budget that I need to stay within. Adding potato and beans is a cheap way to fill out a meal when you don’t want to use too much meat. The biggest reason I decided to start this now is this: yesterday my 3 year-old son told me I was fat. Ouch. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words like that from my kid? It hurt me. I cried. And I realized that I can’t keep putting this off. I’m going to do it starting tomorrow.

I’m not going to blog about it every day, but every Monday I will post a weekly update. I’ll tell you how I’m feeling, what I’m eating and whatever else comes up while I’m detoxing from all those disruptive (but oh so yummy) food groups. Wish me luck!