2021 is over? Here comes 2022!

I personally have no grasp of time regularly, but I can’t seem to comprehend that 12 months have past. So much has happened, but also nothing has happened and no one has aged and time is an illusion. This year was a rough one. My health took a huge physical toll, and my mental health soon followed after contracting COVID-19 in the spring. Work was overwhelming. I was granted a promotion for the job I was already doing, but it required doing it in addition to my current job after a work force reduction (aka 1/3 of our company got fired). Most of this year was 60 hours work weeks, that I wasn’t really being compensated for, which cycled back around to the mental health.

That is not to say I am not grateful for still being here at the end of 2021. I am grateful that my job is still here. That I got to celebrate 5 years with my partner. My cat celebrated his 19th birthday. We turned 25. I got to visit for my hometown for the first time in 2 years. I saw my extended family for the first time in almost 5 when we got together to celebrate my grandfather’s life. I read and watched a lot of new and old stories. I got to take my baby sister on college tours. My hope is that now that we have started to recover our emergency fund, are vaccinated, and are feeling settled life will start to improve and we can do things to actually improve our lives instead of try to function with in them.

Goals moving forward to next year:

  1. Read 156 new books this year (roughly 3 a week)
    1. At least 1 non-fiction a month
  2. Watch 52 new movies (I am including long-form documentaries, but not mini-series).
  3. Get past an intake interview with a therapist.
  4. Start volunteering, where ever we decide to live when our lease is up. Our plan is to start settling down once this lease is up, and while I work for a volunteer organization it just doesn’t feel the same doing it for a living.
  5. Leave the house once a month for a date night, day, hike, etc.
    1. Certain promises were also made about weekly game nights.
  6. Start investing,
  7. Cook more. Try a new recipe from one of our cookbooks at least once a month. I love cooking and baking, but having the time and clean kitchen to do so has been hard this year.

Fall Seasonal Wrap-up

The fall season (9/21-12/21) has officially come and gone. And at least in the northern hemisphere, winter is heavily upon us. The fall was a decent-reading time I completed 46 books in the last three monhs. I am practicing self-care by DNFing this season more than ever (those are not reflected in my review). Unfortunately, I felt like the special and engaging reads were farther between than I would have liked. Plenty were good and a lot were in my regular interests, but they just didn’t grip me. However, I feel like I am ending the year on a solid footing, ready to leap into a new year and new stories.

Target Level# of Books
Middle Grade14
Young Adult22
Adult10

Stand-Out Reads

  • The Emerald Sea by Richelle Mead
  • Thorn by Intisar Khanani
  • The Four Winds by Kristen Hannah
  • Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust
  • A School between Winter and Fairyland by Heather Fawcett
  • A Clash of Steel by C.B. Lee

My Favorite Christmas Movies

Tis’ the season! We are a week out from Christmas so my household will be setting the mood for Christmas. Here are all of what I will be watching (and forcing others to watch) to make it feel more like Christmas! What is your must watch of the Christmas season?

  • The True Classics:
    • Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
    • A Year Without A Santa Claus (1974)
    • Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)
  • The Modern Classics
    • The Santa Clause (1994)
    • Klaus (2019)
  • To-Be Classics
    • Jingle Jangle (2020)
    • Prep and Landing (2009)
  • Christmas Eve Mandatory Viewing
    • Elf (2003)
    • Die Hard (1988)
  • The Best of the Best
    • A MUPPETS CHRISTMAS CAROL!

The School Between Winter and Fairyland by Heather Fawcett (Spoiler Free)

Summary

Twelve-year-old Autumn Malog is a servant at the enchanting Inglenook School, where young magicians study to become the king’s future monster-hunters. Along with her Gran and three too many older brothers, she works as a beastkeeper, tending to Inglenook’s menagerie of terrifying monsters.

But when she isn’t mucking out the wyvern stalls or coaxing the resident boggart to behave, Autumn searches for clues about her twin brother’s mysterious disappearance. Everyone else thinks he was devoured by the feared Hollow Dragon, but Autumn is convinced she’s heard–and glimpsed–him calling to her from within the castle walls. But who will believe a lowly servant?

So when Cai Morrigan, the “Chosen One” prophesied to one day destroy the Hollow Dragon, comes to her for help, Autumn agrees on one condition: Together, they’ll search for her brother and uncover the dark truth at the heart of enchanting Inglenook School once and for all.

Rating: ✨✨✨✨✨

My Thoughts

I have been having a really hard time picking up books that I am loving lately, but I was entirely enchanted by this read. This is a switched take on a boarding school and chosen one tale. Our two main characters, Autumn and Cai. could not be more different in their social status or their understanding of the world. However, their stubborn beliefs and talent make them logical allies and interesting friends. The family dynamics felt really authentic and I liked that they showed siblings that weren’t friends but still loved and supported each other.

The world was nothing super new, but I felt like we were getting to see a new side of it, through the Malogs who are decidedly not “special”. I think the monsters were super engaging and endearing. However, due Autumn’s relationship with the monsters of the world make scary situations with them feel tense but not threatening. I felt that this was a story that grew really well and was really well paced especially for a stand alone. It was not a magic bullet ending, but definitely a satisfying one.

In general, this was incredibly charming story that made me laugh and gasp as an adult. I feel like it would be appropriate for 4th grade and up. I would definitely recommend for anyone who is interested a tenacious protagonist, flipped tropes, and figuring out the moral compass of the world.

Holding Space in Holidays

It is the holiday season. There are thousands of obligations surrounding the months of November and December. There are things to buy, extra school or work to prepare for time off, the sheer amount of people, and dealing with everyone else celebrating at the same time. It is really hard to manage in the brain, but also as you are processing everything else that is happening. Whether that is dealing with family, grief, health, or anything else, in our structural holiday season there isn’t a lot of space to take care of yourself.

I find it really hard to “on” all the time: chatting, smiling, actively listening, happy, and engaged. I think now that I am an adult and also working and managing our holiday budget and schedules that is only more true. I love presents and holiday food and all the movies. I also this year am really appreciative that I am getting to see family and friends considering the end of the world has just been happening over the past 2 years. Despite all these joyous items, I don’t always want to be in the holiday mood, watch something else, listen to other music, or simply be sad.

One thing I am really working on this year is holding space. To rest, to do something different, to be by myself. Not going to lie my partner and I practiced secret signals before Thanksgiving and will be using them again;. I also found turning in before I felt tired gives me time to reset. I know several friends and coworkers take on totally seperate projects to work on that have nothing to do with the holidays so when they genuinely need a break, they can turn to writing, editing, building a computer, making die, etc.

How do you hold space for yourself during the holidays?