Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas

Have yourself a merry little Christmas.



Friday, December 20, 2013

What I Read {Best Books of 2013}

Hi Friends!

As hard as it is to believe, it is time for my big "Top Ten" Books of 2013 post.  Twenty-thirteen was a great year for reading.  For the past 10 years, I've tried to read at least 52 books a year--this year I finished 67! I had so much fun looking back through my book journal and remembering all of the fabulous stories I read this year.  As always, my list is filled with fiction, some new, and some not-so-new.  Ready for my Top Ten? Here they are in no particular order:

The Middlesteins, Jami Attenberg.  
This completely dysfunctional family stole my heart.
Tell the Wolves I'm Home, Carol Rifka Brunt.  
I am still thinking about the fabulous Miss June.  A terrific story.
The Round House, Louise Erdrich.  
A coming-of-age/mystery book with a surprising young hero. 
May We Be Forgiven, AM Homes
Oh, Harry.  I am in love with your big transformation.
The Burgess Boys, Elizabeth Strout
Sibling rivalry, guilt, marriages, memorable characters.  Beautiful writing.
Love Me, Garrison Keillor
I'm still thinking of Iris, the wife of Larry, the main character.  She was awesome.
Eleanor & Park, Rainbow Rowell
Love story of two misfits.  Amazing.
Reconstructing Amelia, Kimberly McCreight
Oh, boy.  I had no idea where this story was going to go.  Loved that it kept me guessing.
And the Mountains Echoed, Khaled Hosseini
Khaled Hosseini never disappoints.  A story about families and choices and consequences.
Wash, Margaret Wrinkle
Still a little bit haunted by this one. 

The complete list of what I read this year:

 The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Steven Choboski (3)
Breed, Chase Novak (2 ½)
Seven, Jen Hatmaker (4)
 The Middlesteins, Jami Attenberg (4)
The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, Jonas Jonasson (4)
 Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, Ben Fountain (3 ½)
Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures, Emma Straub (2 ½)
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, Robin Sloan (3 ½)
Tell the Wolves I’m Home, Carol Rifka Brunt (4)
The Death of Bees, Lisa O’Donnell (4)
Frances & Bernard, Arlene Bauer (4)
Birds of a Lesser Paradise, Megan Mayhew Bergman (4)
The Dinner, Herman Koch (3 ½)
The Playdate, Louise Millar (2 ½)
The Round House, Louise Erdrich (4)
Left Neglected, Lisa Genova (3 ½)
 The Lake of Dreams, Kim Edwards (4)
Wild, Cheryl Strayed (4)
An Abundance of Katherines, John Green (3)
The Newlyweds, Nell Freudenberger (3 ½)
The Fault in Our Stars, John Green (4)
Tiny Beautiful Things, Cheryl Strayed (3 ½)
This Book Will Save Your Life, AM Homes (4)The Mistress’s Daughter, AM Homes (2 ½)
Before I Go To Sleep, S.J. Watson (3 ½)
The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance, Elna Baker (3 ½)
Every Last One, Anna Quindlen (2 ½)
Wash, Margaret Wrinkle (4)
Inside, Alex Ohlin, (2 ½)
May We Be Forgiven, AM Holmes (4)
Looking for Alaska, John Green (3 ½)
The Light Between Oceans, M.L. Stedman (4)
In a Country of Mothers, AM Holmes (2 ½)
The Birth House, Ami McKay (3 ½)
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, Anthony Marra (3 ½)
The Woman Upstairs, Claire Messud (4)
The Interestings, Meg Wolitzer (4)
The Burgess Boys, Elizabeth Strout (4)
Calling Me Home, Julie Kibler (4)
The Melting Season, Jami Attenburg (3 ½)
Instant Love, Jami Attenburg (4)
Love Me, Garrison Keillor (4)
Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie  (4)
Zelda, Therese Anne Fowler (3)
This Bright River, Patrick Somerville (3 ½)
A Fierce Radiance, Lauren Belfer (3)
Eleanor & Park, Rainbow Rowell (4)
Reconstructing Amelia, Kimberly McCreight (4)
Kingdom of Strangers, Zoe Ferraris (3 ½)
Orange is the New Black, (3 ½)
Let’s Discuss Diabetes with Owls, David Sedaris (3 ½)
Life After Life, Kate Atkinson (3 ½)
Love, Anthony, Lisa Genova (3 ½)
A Hundred Summers, Beatriz Williams (3 ½)
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me, Mindy Kaleng (3 ½)
 The Emperor’s Children, Claire Messud (3 1/2)
Me Before You, Jojo Moyes (4)
And the Mountains Echoed, Khaled Hosseini (4)
Winter’s Bone, Daniel Woodrell (3)
Everything is Perfect When You’re a Liar, Kelly Oxford (2)
Anonymous Sources, Mary Louise Kelly (3 ½)
Cartwheel, Jennifer duBois (3)
Instructions for a Heatwave, Maggie O’Farrell (3 ½)
Save Yourself, Kelly Braffet (2 ½)
The Cuckoo’s Calling, Robert Galbraith (3)
The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P., Adelle Waldman (4)
Tenth of December, George Saunders (3)

Have you read any good books this year?  I'd love to hear your recommendations!

Happy Reading!


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Right Now

marveling over how fast this year went! Eek!
setting goals for 2014
finishing our holiday shopping.
reading Tenth of December by George Saunders.
becoming obsessed with HGTV.  It's my go-to background noise.
wearing my workout clothes from this morning.
asking Santa for CrossFit Nanos.
making all kinds of Christmas treats for Saturday night's swim team party.
ordering lots of Kal Barteski goodness as gifts this year.
feeling proud of my progress, but aware of how much I have left to accomplish.
watching old episodes of Prison Break.  I'm a little obsessed.
looking forward to spending the holidays with my family.
loving Christmas music, on repeat.
enjoying where I'm at right now.  
Life is good.

PS This blog was completely inspired by Elise's post.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Five for Friday

Hi Friends!

Yahoo! It's Friday!
If it seems like forever since I posted a "Five for Friday" it's because it has been forever. : )  For some reason I keep thinking my life is going to slow down at some point, but that never seems to happen.  Oh well.  I really have so little to complain about.  Life is good!

1.  New York Magazine just released their Top 10 books of 2013.  Year-end lists are my favorite.  There's nothing I like more than a list of good books to read.  Of the ten, I've only read one, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, which I loved, and blogged about here.  I have The Flamethrowers sitting by my bed right now. I plan on posting my own year-end list in the next few weeks.  It was a great year for reading.

2. This is pretty incredible.

3.  Last Friday, John and I went to see Delivery Man, the movie about the guy who finds out he's fathered more than 500 children.  We both ended up liking it--it's perfect if you just want to be entertained and laugh.

4.  I love to wrap presents--I love wrapping paper and the smell of Scotch tape and fun little gift tags.  I am continuously inspired by the images I see of how people wrap their gifts.  These book inspired gift wraps are amazing.  I especially like the Dr. Suess inspired set.  Wow!

5. I love Xenia's Saturday Morning Vintage's blog and shop. Her photography is gorgeous, and I love the way she puts things together for her shop.  This subscription to her Paper Parcel club would be a perfect gift for any vintage paper lover (hint, hint).

And there you have it!  I'm off to Milwaukee later today to take Maddie to the Arctic Monkeys concert.  It will be the second time we've seen them together.  And by together I mean she will be down in the crazy-pit while I am up in the balcony sipping on my club soda and lime.



Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Random Wednesday: Christmas Edition

1.  I am almost done with my Christmas shopping.
2.  I am trying to stay on budget this year.
3.  I am not super great with budgets.
4.  John is super great with budgets.
5.  We have decided to do all the shopping together this year.
6.  It is very hard to go off-budget when John is part of the shopping experience.
7.  John does not particularly enjoy shopping.
8.  John is okay with buying.
9.  I really like shopping.
10.  The difference between shopping and buying is having a plan before you set out.
11.  John likes plans.
12.  The secret to a positive shopping experience with John is to tell him ahead of time all the things I am considering buying that day.
13.  When we first got married, we went to the mall.
14.  John needed socks.
15.  I got all excited because we were going shopping together at the mall.
16.  When we found John's socks, he was ready to go.
17.  I was confused because I hadn't even had a chance to look around.
18.  Looking around was not part of the plan.
19.  We left the mall after he found his socks.
20.  Sometimes it takes me a while to learn things.
21.  This is not one of those cases.
22. The next time we went to the mall together, I made sure to lay out all of the possible things I might want to look at.
23. It worked perfectly.
24.  Twenty years later, it still works the exact same way.
25. I'm hoping this year's plan of doing all the buying together will result in a happy budget.
26.  Nothing makes John happier than a happy budget.
27.  Except maybe not having to go shopping.



Monday, December 9, 2013

December Daily 1-3

 Hi Friends,

I had big plans to get all caught up on my December Daily this past weekend, but that didn't happen.  I hate when real life (and lots of episodes of "Prison Break" on Netflix) get in the way!  : )  I did manage to get the opening page (above) and days 1-3 done.  Day 4 is almost done, too.
I am not putting a whole bunch of pressure on myself to stay caught up, but I don't want to get too far behind, either.  I need to balance this project with other things I've going on.
 I always love going back and looking at my mini albums, and I never mind if there are holes.  In fact, I'm usually surprised by how much I actually accomplished.  : )
More pictures to come as I crank them out.  Thanks for stopping by!


Thursday, December 5, 2013

December Daily: Cover

Hey There, Friends!

Here it is--this year's December Daily album cover.  Isn't it fun?  I always have the hardest time figuring out what to do with the cover art.  This whole project's start was delayed because I was fretting about the cover. Silly, right?  This year I am using Studio Calico's kit, but I'm also sticking with my commitment to my One Little Word, "Less" by using many things from my stash.  I knew I wanted to paint the chipboard cover white and use the big wooden 25 on the cover, but I had no idea where to go from there.  I decided to paint the 25, too, and then cover it with glitter.  I love how it turned out.
The paper behind the 25 is from my stash, as is the felted holly sprig.  The glitter strip and pom-pom ribbon both came in the kit.
This little "'Tis the Season" badge is from Elise Cripe's new line at Scrapbook and More, as is the "Joy" badge I used on the spine.  I love pretty much everything Elise designs.  She's fabulous.  
And now onto the good stuff--pictures and memories from this holiday season!  
Lots more pictures coming soon! 
Are you making a December Daily?  If so, leave a link--I'd love to see yours!



Words to Live By

I completely believe this!



Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Our Thanksgiving in Photos

 Hi Friends and Family!

Thought you might like a peek at some of the highlights from our fabulous Thanksgiving weekend with John's family.  Our Thanksgiving weekend with them is always one of the highlights of the year.
Because John's parents winter in Arizona, we also celebrate Christmas that weekend (hence all the red and green).  There's always plenty of birthdays to celebrate over the weekend, too!  It's just one big, huge celebration--I love it!
The picture above is of John's Grandma, "GG", with 6 of her great-grandchildren.  The one below is John's sister, Suzanne, and her completely fun family.  Arielle is our Goddaughter and the boys are twins (can you tell?):
We even managed to get a family photo taken.  Fun fact:  GG made all the sweaters in this photo except Jack's.  Aren't they awesome?!?!
 My absolute favorite part of the weekend is the white elephant gift exchange.  There is always lots of fun gifts going back and forth between all of us.  Check out these awesome antlers that I got from Suzanne:
 And this fun elf hat and Rudolph nose:
 Thomas got a set of mammoth playing cards,
 and Roberto got a pig timer.  Buster loved his bone:
This year we celebrated GG's 99th Birthday.  What a life she has had!  We are all blessed to have her in our lives:
And one more picture of Buster sporting the antlers (love this picture!!):

Hooray for fun times with our special family!



Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Feeling Blessed: John

On Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday mornings John gets up before I do.  
When he does, he is completely stealth.  
Sometimes I wake up anyway and lay there listening to him try to be completely silent in his actions.  
It seriously makes my heart squeeze to hear him trying so hard.  
He loves me. 
I am blessed.



Monday, November 25, 2013

Feeling Blessed

A short list of just some of the many things I am thankful for:

All four of our parents are alive and healthy and happy.  All four!
John's Grandma will turn 99 on January 8th.  99!
I've spent the last 25 years with John.
After 25 years, he can still make me laugh.
All three of my kids are nice people.
And they're healthy.
And smart.
We have everything we could possibly need.
And more.
I know who my friends are.
I have a strong faith.
Most days, I can sneak in a quick nap, if needed.
I get to be a wife, mom, sister, daughter, coach.

Life is good.


Monday, November 18, 2013

State Champion Diver!

Hey There Friends and Family!

Just checking in to say that the State meet was a whole lot of fun, and the best part was watching our diver, Hazel Hertting, win!  It is so difficult to be a State Champion, and I couldn't be happier for Hazel.  She is a great diver and an even better person.  You can read all about it and see some pictures of her amazing dives right here.  Our swimmers came in 13th in the state and had many personal best times, which is always fantastic.  Back to regular blogging soon--I promise!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Sectional Champions!

We did it!  
(And it was completely awesome!!)
Want to read all about it?
Click here.



Monday, November 11, 2013

Yale Called

Hi Friends and Family,

Excuse me as I freak out a little bit here.  

If you've been reading Joyful Whimsy for the past six months, then you know that my firstborn, Emily, is busy applying to colleges and making plans for her (bright) future.  Emily pretty much came out of the womb with a calculator in one hand and three different planners in the other. She is extremely self-motivated, and she's one smart cookie.  This whole college-search process has been nothing short of delightful.  I am trying not to live vicariously through her, but I can't lie--I'm loving the fact that she has put herself in a position where big-time schools are wooing her.  You probably remember that Harvard invited her to apply (she did not want to go to Harvard), and Arizona State offered to fly her down to check out their honors college (she is not interested in Arizona State).  But Yale, Yale made her Top 10, and she went ahead and applied to Yale. Yesterday Yale called.  Yale called our house!  There is an actual message on my answering machine from Yale!  They are sending someone to the area to interview Emily on December 2nd.  I am kind of freaking out, but mostly I'm just so darn happy for her.  She has worked so hard for this moment.  No matter where she ends up, I hope she always knows how proud I am of her. 


PS  Yale!!!!!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Busy Winning Swim Meets

Hi Friends!

This is going to be short and sweet because I need to get a few things done before practice this afternoon. I just wanted to check in and let you know that I am knee-deep in the middle of championship swim season. Last week we won JV Conference on Monday night (read all about it here), the FVA Conference Diving Meet (lots of pictures here), and the FVA Conference Swim Meet (lots of pictures here).  This weekend we head to the Sectional Meet, and then next weekend we are down at State.  I can't believe there are only 2 meets left!  I loved this season.  I really don't want it to end.



Monday, October 28, 2013

50 Little Things

1. For the most part, I like the card better than the gift.  Especially if the card is homemade and has a note written in it.
2.  Sometimes I am startled by the fact that my kids are almost grown up.  I'm not sure why this catches me off-guard every now and then, but it does.
3.  I love driving.
4.  I have dreams about skipping college classes.
5. I also have dreams where I can't remember what day my class meets or where it's located.
6.  I graduated from college a million years ago.
7.  I hardly ever skipped a college class.
8.  I bought some Christmas gift tags at Sam's Club a couple of weeks ago.
9.  I hate the fact that Sam's Club put their Christmas stuff out 3 weeks before Halloween.
10. I just know that if I waited until a "normal" time to buy those cute gift tags, they would have been gone.
11. I have to boil 8 boxes of pasta today.
12.  After tonight, my swim team goes from 47 girls to 13.
13.  I am not very good with endings.
14.  When I posted #13 on Twitter, someone I don't know replied, "There is a beautiful beginning too!"
15.  While I agree (in theory) with the stranger's reply, I don't think it applies to missing my JV swimmer girls.
16.  Girl's swim season is my favorite time of year.
17.  This has been my favorite girls swim season, ever.
18.  I make it my goal to make Jack laugh as he's leaving the car in front of his school each morning.
19.  I sometimes do this by embarrassing him.
20.  Jack does not believe that I could deadlift him.
21.  My one rep maximum for deadlifting is 230 pounds.
22.  My coach thinks that I could deadlift 300 pounds.
23.  Jack is not even close to 300 pounds.
24.  When I was in second grade, I was the jump rope champion.
25.  I did 284 jumps in a row before I messed up.
26.  On Friday, I had to do 270 jump rope jumps in the middle of my workout.
27.  It about killed me.
28.  Second grade was a million years ago.
29.  I am doing a women's Bible study at church.  We are reading Beth Moore's "So Long Insecurity."
30.  I am completely positive that each and every woman in my group is there for a reason.  Including me.
31.  I just finished reading "Winter's Bone".
32.  I read it because it was recommended in my Oprah magazine.
33.  Oprah loves to recommend sad, sad books.
34.  Winter's Bone was a sad, sad book.
35.  I just Googled "Winter's Bone" and discovered it has already been made into a movie starring Jennifer Lawrence.
36. I love Jennifer Lawrence, but I do not want to watch that movie.
37.  I can guarantee you that it's a sad, sad movie.
38.  I love going to movies.
39.  I feel kind of stuck at 39.
40.  Buster is having a crazy dream right now.
41.  Maybe he is dreaming about missing a college final.
42.  His paws are going crazy.
43.  I'm sure that when I am having my "I-have-a-final-today-in-a-class-I've-skipped-all-semester-and-I-can't-even -remember-where-the-class-meets" dream, I'm probably twitching and whimpering, too.
44.  Speaking of college, my beloved Illini lost to Michigan State this past weekend.
45.  We now hold the record for "Longest Conference Losing Streak."
46.  I can't think of a worse record to hold.
47.  Speaking of losing record, I am about to make my yearly bet with my obnoxious Packer fan friend, Karen.
48.  I'm ever-hopeful that this year I will win.
49.  Jay Cutler is out with a groin injury.
50.  You better believe I will be taking that into account before the wager is made.  : )



Friday, October 25, 2013

Around Here

Hey There Friends!

My mom told me she is missing finding a little "Whimsy" in her inbox everyday.  So, in honor of my biggest fan (Hi Mom!), here is a recap of just some of the things that have been keeping me away from blogging lately (in no specific order).  The picture above is from the Homecoming dance.  I thought Emily and Greg looked so cute together! I love Greg's bow tie!

Maddie, Jack, and I snuck over to Madison a couple of weeks ago to see Denise and Isabella.  We ate at our favorite magical place, Ella's.
Then we rode the carousel.  Can you spot Jack behind Isabella?
Maddie rode it, too!  Weeee!
Emily and Maddie had a full week leading up to the big Homecoming game, and my favorite theme day was "Jersey Day".  They both wore Bears jerseys which went over about as well as you can imagine up here in Packerland.  : )
The team built a float for the big Homecoming parade.  I passed out 8 pounds of candy along the route.  I'm not going to lie, throwing candy to little kids makes me feel like a rock star.  They get so excited!  : )
Maddie built a float with the drama department.  It was awesome.  They promoted their production, "Into the Woods" which was last weekend.  It was such a good show!
Emily, Maddie, and I went to an Illini game at Soldier's Field with Tom and Tommy.  It was a complete blast!
It was Tommy's first college football game.  I got to dress him up in Illini wear.  He was the cutest fan in the stands!
We hosted an Invite and we won!  In fact, we have won every single meet this season.  We haven't lost a dual meet since Emily's freshman year.  Yup.
Emily dressed up as Ariel for the team Halloween party.  Yes, she is wearing a seashell bra and a little headband tiara.
I have been plugging away at Crossfit and loving it.  Here's a very flattering picture of me flipping tires.  Yes, I am that tough.  : )
Just for fun, I decided that the entire team (50 girls) needed to wear tutus to last weekend's Spirit Invite.  So I cut enough tulle for 50 skirts.  Crazy.
And that's just a few highlights.  Life is full, but good.  I am grateful.

Thanks for stopping by, even through the lean months.  Swim season ends in a few weeks, and then (maybe?) I'll be able to get back to regular posting.