Sunday, June 30, 2024

May and June 2024 Wrap Up

May and June were busy months that went by quickly.

Gabriel started daycare in May and has been going each day. Which was very hard for me at first (I cried more than he did, for sure), but has since gotten much better. Gabriel likes his daycare and we really like the people who work there.

I had my first Mother's Day and Kevin had his first Father's Day. With a human baby, I mean. Gabriel continues to grow and mostly be wonderful and happy. And continues to be very central in my life, of course.

Kevin and I got to go on a little vacation to Florida without the munchkin. We got to spend time in Harry Potter World and Disney World. It was fun and wonderful, even if it was a bit weird to be away from Gabriel.

Otherwise, Varney was neutered and I am trying to get him and Ruthven back into the same cage again (ornery rats...).

Work is... just work. I am trying to maintain a balance and not make everything my problem. But things are constantly made my problem anyway. My issue with this is that I don't receive much recognition or any compensation to go with these extra things that end up being required of me while others holding the same position I do (or even above my position) are not expected to take care of these types of things and most of them are making more than I am. I have been better at pushing back, but it isn't always possible. And it does very much depend on who is asking me for things. There are some people who I like and respect and I have a hard time saying no to them. But they also show up for me, too, so that feels more OK. But otherwise I am trying very hard to push tasks and responsibilities back to the person who should be taking care of those things. My counselor and I talk a lot about practicing radical acceptance. That I don't have to agree with things in order to accept them. And how to accept things that are not in my control. We also talk a bit about how and why I get defensive about certain things and how to work on myself to deal with those issues... Which I like less, but definitely needs to be addressed. Ultimately, I think all of these things have helped me focus more on the parts of my job that are actually my job and letting things fall apart if that is what needs to happen (which it has). And helps me maintain better balance because my career is important and I love my work, but it is definitely not my whole life nor do I want it to be.

Anyway, that was long and rambling and probably nonsensical. But I wanted to get a little bit of that out.

I have gotten a bit behind on my reading goals. Part of that is because I started listening to music again. I go through phases with music, but since I have been listening to that while I drive, I am not getting through audio books as quickly. But I have managed to keep reading and I have actually worked my way through more of my Owlcrate book backlog.

Now for some quick reviews!

 Titles: The House of Hades and the Blood of Olympus
by Rick Riordan
4 out of 5 stars

The Time Machine
by H.G. Wells
Synopsis/Thoughts: Classic story that I never read before. This came in an Owlcrate box from many, many years ago as a bonus book. I'm glad that I finally read it since it seems to be one of those that everyone reads. It was pretty good, though I was not immensely satisfied with the ending of the Time Traveller's time in the future. (Also, since he can time travel, I feel like he could have saved Weena. Or maybe he went to do that at the end, who knows?) Overall, I liked it, but I do tend to like dystopian stories.
Rating: 3 1/2 stars out of 5 stars

Title: How Not to Hate Your Husband
After Kids by Jancee Dunn, narrated by the author
Synopsis/Thoughts: Well, the books is basically what the title says it is! And this book really packed a punch. I definitely recommend it to any couple who is having or has children. I was feeling a lot of resentment towards my husband at times after Gabriel was born, though our situation was not nearly as extreme as some. And Kevin is so great about doing other household chores that baby care falling mostly to me felt more fair than some situations you hear and read about.
Seriously, read this book. I sobbed when their first therapist gave her instructions on controlling her anger (disappearing into a closet to tell a photo of her daughter that she knew what she was feeling was going to hurt her daughter but that her anger was more important right now than her daughter was. Oof.) And I laughed at the brilliancy of consulting an expert in de-escalating hostage situations to teach her husband how to deal with her when she was on a rampage. So many things made so much more sense when I read this. And I laughed and cried and got angry and felt happy all in turns.
Rating: 5 stars out of 5 stars

Title: A Lady for a Duke by Alexis Hall
Narrator: Kay Eluvian
Synopsis/Thoughts: During the war in Waterloo, Viola is assumed to be dead, but she survived and used the news to live her life as herself for once, even at the cost of her wealth, status, and friends. Including the Duke of Gracewood who was her closest companion in the days before her disappearance. Fate, of course, brings them back together as Viola helps Gracewood heal and Gracewood learns who Viola is all over again. Overall, I enjoyed this story. While I didn't love everything, many parts were very sweet and surprising and nice. 
Rating: 3 stars out of 5 stars

Title: Crier's War by Nina Varela
Synopsis/Thoughts: This is an old Owlcrate book and felt appropriate to read in June. Once, humans created Automae to be pets and playthings of the wealthy until the Automae revolted and took over and forced humans to serve them. Lady Crier is an Automae, designed and built at the request of her father, the Sovereign. Ayla is her human maid servant who dreams of avenging the death of her family by destroying the Sovereign and his family. Until Crier and Ayla begin to fall in love and learn that maybe there are other ways to live. This book was a good read and I really liked the interactions between Crier and Ayla as they learned more about one another. I think I would like to finish the duology to see how their story pans out.
Rating: 3 stars out of 5 stars

Title: Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall
Narrator: Joe Jameson
Rating: 5 stars out of 5 stars
Re-read. I just love this book and the voice and humor of the story.

Title: Song of the Six Realms by
Judy I. Lin
Synopsis/Thoughts: Xue is a very talented qin player, but she is a nobody. Until she captures the eye of Duke Meng when he hears her play. He makes an offer she can't refuse: to come play for him in exchange for her freedom. Upon arriving at Duke Meng's estate, she discovers there is much more to him and to his home than first meets the eye. And the Duke needs her help. This was a recent Owlcrate book and I participated in the read-a-long on the Nest app. I really enjoyed this book, maybe more than I thought I would. There were a few times I cried, mostly about Xue's uncle. It was a lovely story and many of the characters were really wonderful and interesting.
Rating: 4 1/2 stars out of 5 stars 

Title: Stay Gold by Tobly McSmith
Narrators: Theo Germaine and Phoebe Strole
Rating: 5 stars out of 5 stars
Re-read. I just love this book so much. I finished it and wanted to turn around and read it all over again.

Title: Love Without Sex by
Sophie Lucido Johnson, narrated 
by the author
Synopsis/Thoughts: This is a look at different and modern relationships. Not just romantic relationships, but about friendships and chosen family as well. I feel like there was a lot to unpack here and it was a very interesting and informative read. I know that some of the lifestyles discussed are not for me, but it is interesting to see how people think and feel and make different things work. A couple of things resonated with me, especially the idea of community living with chosen family. As someone who is lucky enough to have friends who are family, this was interesting and appealing to me.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars

Favorite book read in May/June: Stay Gold. Or Boyfriend Material. I can't help it, I love them so much.
Least favorite book read in May/June: I suppose Crier's War or A Lady for a Duke, since I rated them a bit lower.

I have now read 33 books towards my goal of 75 books. Goodreads estimates that I am 4 books behind schedule. I am trying to find shorter books that I've been wanting to read that may help me catch up. I also have been trying to participate in more Owlcrate Nest read-a-longs. They are a good way to really keep me on track and set goals for each day. But there isn't much pressure and feels encouraging instead of daunting. Maybe that will help me catch up, too.

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