Park Friends

I’m going to just go on out on a limb and call this a series.  Places I’ve made friends.

Community can come from anywhere.  Sometimes I don’t even see it coming.  The city park is that place for me.

When we first moved to the Jackson area, I had a one year old and my husband spent many long hours in the library as a new law student.  My one year old and I spent countless hours at the local city park.  It had sand as it’s base, and most of the equipment was fine for her to play on, so we would load up our sand toys and a picnic lunch and spend hours there.  That’s where I met a sweet friend who had a little boy the same age.  She turned out to also be a nurse and lived very near us so we made easy conversation.  We lived in that area for four years, and over those years, we did Bible study together, welcomed children into our families, and watched each other succeed in many ways.    When they closed the park for remodeling, we met up at Chick-fil-a to socialize.  That was one of my most unexpected friendships.

When we moved to another new town four hours away, I knew that the park was where I would meet people with kids the same age as my own.  My daughter would enter kindergarten not knowing a single soul, so we hit the park.  I did not have that same experience in the new town.  It wasn’t until t-ball that we started to meet some people that would become sweet friends down the road.  T-ball is a great place to start these friendships because no one is competitive there.  Everything is funny and there’s no pressure for a four year old to play pro next year.  If t-ball has already passed for you, take heart, I’ve made better friends on up.

Softball came next for us.  While I’m not texting or calling these moms on a daily basis, I have met some wonderful people and gleaned a great deal of wisdom from some of them.  A lot of these women were there supporting their younger children which were the same age as my oldest.  Conversations about child rearing are invaluable.  People are generally willing to share very openly when you are willing to listen.  Now, four to five years later, we have watched each others’ kids grow and succeed.  Some of them are so much fun to watch improve.  Beware though, true colors come out at that ballpark.  And in Mississippi, crazy comes out with its colors on.  There’s no hiding it at the ballpark.

We signed up our son for t-ball in another town so he could play at an earlier age.  This was somewhat taxing on our family due to schedules, but I wasn’t going to be the one to tell my three-almost four year old that he couldn’t play ball.  He was so serious about it–still is.  I met lots of people in that new town and Spencer met some life-long friends.  One of the families already had some mutual friends with us, so we hit it right off, and our boys get along great.  They are going to be fun to watch as they grow older.

Baseball and soccer have been mostly a treat.  Remember, I said that all the colors come out at the park.  I’ve met some wonderful people.  Hopefully, those friendships will grow and develop over the years.  When all of our children are on the same team, I believe we will have a blast.  This past year was a lot of fun because our team contained a lot of church friends.  Soccer was excellent because our team contained a lot of school friends.  I’ll talk more about them in the next post.  It is so much fun to cheer on my friends’ kids.

Have you met friends at the park?  I’d love to hear about your experiences!  I just never know who will be a friend next and I love hearing other people’s stories!

New Year, New Reads

New year, new me! Or at least a freshly committed me. For now. I have high hopes though!

I started looking at reading challenges sometime in December but didn’t officially choose one (or three) until January first. I am participating in three because they are all so different and they all only have 10-12 books each. My book goal is 50 this year. I read 74 last year, so I can handle three challenges knowing I read that many books a year. Do Not Compare Yourself To Me. I can’t stress that enough. There were years that I read one or two books and didn’t think twice about it. You do you.

So, the first challenge I’m participating in is A Literary Feast’s challenge. It’s just one book a month and it’s very doable. There is a Facebook group for discussion and motivation. If you do this challenge, you will have read 12 books this year. That alone is nothing to sneeze at!

Next, I’m over on Instagram where there are so many good things happening. I’ve decided to participate in The Classics Challenge with @happylittlebirdy and @charlottereadsbooks. It is also only 12 books and these two challenges will bleed into each other as well, more on that in a minute. I’m looking forward to broadening my reading a little this year.

Instagram also has some stirrings of #theunreadshelfproject2018 which would be a challenge in and of itself easily. I am somewhat doing that by reading as many from my shelves as possible to complete each challenge. The rest will come from either the library or borrowing/exchanging with friends.

Lastly, I’m planning to do the Modern Mrs. Darcy challenge as well. It also only calls for 12 books. I have done hers in the past and had a lot of fun. I only fell short of three categories last year out of 24, so that was a win.

My rules for myself are that one book can cross over to two different challenges, but one book can’t cover two categories in the same challenge. Also, if you’re wanting to see my “plan” on which books I will be reading, you’ll have to look elsewhere. I have no plan. I’m full on flying by the seat of my pants on book choices with the exception of a few that I’m playing around with.

I want to hear what you’re doing this year! Drop a comment here or find me on Instagram @notsotriplec. Also, follow the links and check out all these challenges to see if you want to participate as well!

Also, these are totally the pictures off each of these websites. I’ll make my own someday, but I’m basically advertising for these ladies for now.

January Reads

Look here! Keeping up from the start! January was pretty productive I’d say.

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn. I picked this one up over the holidays as a Kindle Daily Deal for $2.99 maybe. WORTH IT. I would pay full price for this one. Set in both WWI and post WWII, this is the story of Eve, a WWI spy in the infamous Alice Network, and Charlie, a young woman looking for her lost cousin, and how their lives intersect through some bizarre circumstances and one very evil man.

First off, I have so much to learn about history. This is stuff they leave out in high school and college. I didn’t even know The Alice Network was a thing. Now, I’m so intrigued by these strong, brave women and men and all they did toward ending the war. Fascinating. The post war story line is not nearly as interesting as Eve’s story, but I thought they went together just fine. It had a bit more sex in it than I expected, but not graphic enough to make me stop reading it. Trigger warning on a torture scene. Very well done on the author’s part. I felt like I was going through it myself. (That’s my last trigger warning ever. I hate the word and I hate that people ever go through something that would keep them from enjoying a well written book, but I’ve quit books midway before over one event, so I get it.) Now I’m off to read every book Kate Quinn has ever written. (5 stars)

This one counts as my “book with more than 500 pages” for the MMD challenge. I didn’t realize it was that long reading it on kindle, but I read this thing in three days. Don’t let the size intimidate you. It’s so fast paced that you’ll blow through it and not even care. Promise.

I abandoned The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy. I checked this one out from my local library, and as you can see, she’s been around awhile. I love it! This book holds some history (and a 2017 bookmark).

This is my “book published in the year you were born” for A Literary Feast’s challenge. This is a monthly challenge, but I may still come back to this category later in the year.

People I Want to Punch in the Throat by Jen Mann. There is a whole series of these books, but I believe this is the first. This one was literally laugh-out-loud funny. I had no idea this woman existed, but now I follow her hilarious blog. This book has been sitting on my kindle for actual ages, and I read it as part of my attempt to read my shelves. (That’s two down if you’re counting this year.) This counts as “a book of essays” over on the MMD book challenge. (4 stars)

The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion by Elle Luna. This was apparently a blog post that went viral and was turned into a short book. I picked it up a really long time ago as a kindle daily deal for cheap not knowing a thing about it. I really should start reading summaries of books! Anyway, this was a somewhat interesting look at your Should (things required of you, like work) and Must (basically, your calling) and how there’s a push and pull between the two. The author tells you how to look for your Must and a little on how to follow it. This book counted as “a book you can finish in a day” since it was super short and a lot of the pages were filled with artsy quotes and drawings. While I didn’t love it, it would maybe be good for a high school senior or a college student? (3 stars)

The Promise of a Pencil by Adam Braun. This was probably one of the very first books I bought on kindle back when I first got it about a year and a half ago. I can’t remember why I bought this except maybe it was cheap and listed next to books like Kisses from Katie? Anyway, again, I had no idea what I was about to read.

This is the story of how a very young guy founded a hugely successful nonprofit (for-purpose) organization. He started with $25 and a dream and now has built hundreds of schools all over the world. He still may not be thirty. It really is a fascinating story and definitely worth the read for anyone who has a dream in their heart but is struggling with how to start the chase. Head over to to check out their work. (4 stars)

This counts as “a memoir” on the MMD challenge. Looks like I may finish that one first.

Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane. I picked this one up in December as a KDD for cheap. I also saw that this was a Book of the Month pick at some point last year. This was my first Lehane who is more known for Shutter Island and a couple of others. I hear tell that this is his first book with a woman protagonist. I could tell.

I did not enjoy this book at all. It starts with Rachel looking for her father while holding on to a lot of resentment for her deceased mother and then takes a sharp turn when she goes to Haiti to work as a reporter after the earthquake and then again after a hurricane. She has a mental breakdown that leads to agoraphobia, but she gets married for a second time in there somewhere. That second husband turns out to be a total con man while she is a shut in. Suddenly, bam! She’s cured! She’s out driving a car, following her husband, firing weapons at people, and being a general badass with no morals, I guess?? Geez. It all somewhat comes together at the end, but after laughing out loud at some of the intense parts, I was already done. “Thriller” is not my normal genre, so that may be where I was lost, but I know there are better written ones out there. (2.5 stars)

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. I bought a pack of 10 books for $10 from scholastic through my kids’ school and this was included, but I think we may have more than one copy around here somewhere. Anyway, it was a cheapy. I’ve never been assigned to read this book, so I feel like my childhood was somewhat lacking. I don’t know. I’ve heard Sara McKenzie (over on the Read Aloud Revival) talking about this being a good one to read aloud to kids lately on her podcast and wanted to check it out before I just started in. She alluded to an uncomfortable storyline, and I can see how one would maybe want to leave out the cheater mom when reading it aloud to young children. It’s not even really that important to the over all story.

Brian is a 13 year old boy who survives a plane crash while headed to Northern Canada for the summer. The pilot dies suddenly and tragically, and Brian is left totally alone and to his own devices for survival. He is so impressive. He has some serious resourcefulness and perseverance. A great read for a boy, young or old. So glad I read it. Now I want to discuss it with my kids, so we will be picking it up soon!

Coming Clean by Kimberly Rae Miller. This one was free on Prime Reading, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that the audio was free with it, so I listened to a large portion while I did my ironing one day.

Kimberly was raised by hoarders. She didn’t have a name for their condition until later in life, but she was keenly aware that her life at home was very different from other kids. Hearing her describe her home life as “squalor” was heartbreaking. I found it interesting that her parents interacted very differently when they were away from home than when they were at home in their junk.