A surprise on the library shelf

Looking at a list of my top 10 favorite books, "Watership Down" by Richard Adams is at the very top. I have read and re-read it over the years and each time it does not disappoint. Recently I was at the library waiting to checkout books, not really focusing on anything when my eye happened to spot this, "Tales from Watership Down" published in 1996. What?! A sequel?! How had I not known about this? Of course it came home that day. But then it sat and sat. I just couldn't pick it up. What if if was not as good as the original? I finally was determined to read it after two notices from the library that they might want their book back soonish. 

It's not really so much a sequel as a companion book. There are more stories of the sneaky hero of the rabbits, El-ahrairah, and more adventures for Hazel and his friends. You could sandwich this book between the last chapter and epilogue of "Watership Down." While I was scared to read it, I shouldn't have been. It was a delight to revisit old friends. My only problem with this book is that it just ends. Reprinting the epilogue from "Watership Down" would add closure/tie it up neatly. 

British author. British men. I guess I should write about tea next. 


I DO have a type!

I like to kid my Mom about her TV-viewing habits, past and present ...

Her type is so obvious! She likes brunettes who play by the rules but are willing to break them when necessary. Bonus points if you recognize all the shows.* 

I never thought of myself as having a "type" but recently it dawned on me …

I like British guys (and Scots!) with dark hair and smoldering eyes.

He's Canadian. Close enough.

And my No. 1 British guy right now is Benedict Cumberbatch. Because Sherlock is one amazing show. And he is one amazing actor who seems to be having fun and treats the fans well. 

Come on,  isn't he just adorable!

*Magnum, P.I., MacGyver, Scarecrow and Mrs. King, NCIS and JAG. 
But you didn't really need the answers, did you?


Top Books of 2013

Every year I like to look back at the books that we really loved. The ones we read again and again. Sadly, the list is getting shorter and shorter. Will has grown away from picture books and is reading lots of chapter books on his own. He's a one and done kind of kid, moving on to the next thing rather quickly. And our reading habits are changing — when Will was little we'd read an average of three books a night. Now most nights, Will picks a book and Joseph picks a book. And sometimes now Will's book he is off reading on his own and Joseph's book is brought from school so our own books aren't getting read again and again. But the main thing is we are still reading. Reading is good.

Will finished up the Magic Tree House series. And the Bad Kitty series is hilarious. "Dragons Love Tacos" by Adam Rubin with illustrator Daniel Salmieri came home from the library for Joseph but ended up a favorite of Will's as well. Santa even brought us our own copy after it was checked out several times from the library (a true sign of a favorite here). Will loves going to the school library and is still bringing home lots of Eyewitness Books.

Joseph had me read "Sheep in a Jeep" by Nancy E. Shaw with illustrator Margot Apple again and again. It's been a favorite forever and was on the 2011 list as well. But the real "star" of the year was "Lego Star Wars: Save the Galaxy!" It's a large format board book that recounts the first movie (I don't count those prequels!). In fact, I read it again just last night. Dinosaur books still top his list and Santa brought two new ones. I'll admit that I pass the dino books over to Chris to read because he does a better job pronouncing all the crazy names. 

Another favorite of ours that I don't think I've mentioned before is "365 Penguins" by Jean-Luc Fromental with illustrator Joelle Jolivet. I really don't remember how the book came into the house (how can I not? I find this weird) but the charming book about a family dealing with a slow invasion of penguins is well, charming! And funny. We've had it for awhile but we read it again and again. 

In a very unusual move for me, I actually read two books in 2013 that were actually published in 2013. Crazy I know. "We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves" by Karen Joy Fowler made several Best of 2013 book lists and was much better than I expected. I also read "Amy Falls Down" by Jincy Willett.

For 2014, I've got a long list of books to read, most recommended by friends. I haven't wading into the Game of Thrones fandom yet. I'm already in the deep end for Doctor Who and Sherlock. I asked friends on Facebook — read the GOT books or skip 'em and watch the shows? I thought it would be a 50-50 debate but overwhelmingly the consensus was to read the books. I'm sure Chris would love that though. When I get my hands on a good book, I tend to ignore the house.

Case in point, around the first of December I randomly picked up the first book in The Mortal Instruments series, "City of Bones" and torn through the five books available in about a week (dishes, what dishes!) only to have the tortured love story come to a screeching halt with book six coming in March! Better than Twilight but not a good as Hunger Games is where I'd rank it. YA fiction has so much to offer these days.

So besides "The Goldfinch" — which I can't wait to read, why do I not have a copy yet?! — what did you love in 2013? What is on your must-read list for 2014?


Jump into the new year

So you may be thinking — Gee Christina, where are all your posts about walking?!
Way to NOT keep your resolution. Well, I did walk, okay more like shuffle, from the bed to the couch and then back again on January 2. And January 3, I walked from the van to the doctor's office. Seems the combination of a sinus infection and head cold was just too much. UNCLE! Slowly feeling better with antibiotics on board. January 4th William and I walked the length of the mall and back looking for school shoes with no success. No longer can one get just about anything at the department store!

Today I walked up and down the alley (big hill!) a couple of times while the boys jumped and jumped and jumped. Our lucky boys got a trampoline for Christmas from the grandparents. It's been a big hit! Sunday the high was around 55 and I would guess the boys spent close to three hours jumping (off and on). That is a lot of jumping! But there will be no jumping today. Or walking for that matter unless I find someplace warm. High temperatures will be around 22. What?! Coldest weather for Alabama in 10 years! And we are cold-weather wimps! Most of the city is shutting down because we don't know how to drive on sunny days. Add ice and watch the tires spin. Forget getting any milk or bread in a 50-mile radius. But don't worry too much about the South. We'll be back in the 60s by the end of the week.

So let's review: I don't walk when I'm sick. I don't do cold weather either.


Santa vs. Joseph

Oh my Will, always so happy to see Santa and tell him what to bring for Christmas. 
Joseph on the other hand ...

He wants nothing to do with the big guy in red. 

This year I suggested Joseph try standing next to Santa. But no, I was not even 
going to get that. Tears people, tears! I may or may not have yelled, "Stop crying. This is 
suppose to be fun!" I had backed down by the time we got to Bass Pro (yep, because
they have games and activities and 4-wheelers). But Santa didn't give up as easily ...

Santa waved a candy cane. Joseph looked up at me. I told him if he wanted the candy cane
he'd have to get it himself. So slowly, slowly Joseph inched closer. He got the candy cane 
but let his guard down for just a second because Santa reached both hands out and plopped 
Joseph on his lap. So fast I didn't have time to say that's okay Santa, no need to push. 
But there Joseph sat. I waited for the screaming and wailing. But Joseph just ... pouted. 
There were a few chuckles from fellow parents as the photographer clicked away. Not sure if Joseph even talked to Santa. He says he did but I did not see an exchange. 

And the candy cane is mine! 
(For non-locals, Joseph is posing here like Vulcan.) 
Happy to forget all the drama and get back to playing.

And you can't go to Bass Pro and not
sit on a 4-wheeler. Heck, I even sat on one.


Go take a hike

I am making a simple resolution this year. One that I hope I will keep. And that resolution is to take a walk every day. Occasionally I hope to get everyone out for a big hike at Ruffner or Red Mountain. Or a few laps at a local park with Chris after the boys are off to school but before work. Most days, like today, it will be a quick stroll around the neighborhood. It's a good resolution. And to keep me going, I plan to post a picture every day. And those pictures might have a few words with them and I'll be on my way to writing more as well. Because last year I only wrote 30 posts?! Crazy. We can do better than that. 

How about you? What is your resolution for 2014? Regardless if it is big or small, may we all have a good new year!