Classics Challenge: Lady Audley's Secret

I knew Lady Audley's Secret was a popular sensation novel of its time with a mystery plot involved bigamy and Goodreads' description even says that it established her as a rival of Wilkie Collins. Bigamy aside, this should have been right up my alley. But I was disappointed with the lack of character development and the uneven pacing. The first 2/3 just dragged. We already knew almost all of what our hero was discovering so it was just waiting for him to catch up.  And I didn't like how the 3rd person narration sometimes seemed to be giving us a limited view, describing characters as others saw them, while at other times seemed to be trying to reveal hidden layers but not very well. And I really couldn't care less about anyone. I felt like I should care about justice prevailing but I kinda think everyone was getting what they deserved. Eventually I gave up on trying to get any deeper meaning or insights and tried to just enjoy the story. Which was hard because until about the the 60% mark on my kindle it was just very boring. I will say that the last 30-40% was much better and I finished it up in just a day or two. But it was almost too fast of an ending and I didn't think that Lady's Audley's behavior in the end really fit with her character. It just seemed like Braddon needed to wrap up the book.

If this was put up against Wilkie Collins The Moonstone, there wouldn't even be a question in my mind who would win. The later is a classic. The former is a book that was really popular during its time. So overall, I think I agree with Mr. Ray.

Lady Audley's Secret is my Classic with a Name in the Title Selection in the Back to the Classics Challenge.


Getting Outside

I've been tracking our outdoor time this year in an attempt to improve it. We got outside quite a bit last year but I knew we could do better if I made it a priority and tracking the hours definitely keeps it in the front of my mind. I'm a classic overachiever.

After a rough spring, we had an okay summer. But summer is hot and I don't like to be hot, especially not when I'm pregnant. Even so, we are currently up to over 340 hours outside! My current goal is to hit 500 by the end of the year. Since we've got about 7 weeks until baby comes and I don't think we'll be out of the house too much with a newborn in late fall, this is still going to be quite a stretch. But I think we can do it! Especially since most weeks we are in the teens but the last few weeks have definitely been higher than our summer average. The weather has just been gorgeous.

We spent two long mornings at the transportation museum before our membership ran out.

Then yesterday we spent 4 hours exploring a nature preserve not to far from our house. We started off with a hike to a sod house. And of course, much of our walking time was spent talking about Laura and Mary and what life was like for them.

 Almost there!

Lucy was very surprised at how small it was.

There was a regular bridge and a stepping stone path on this particular hike. We all did the stones on the way there but Jonah wanted to take the bridge on our return trip. I did a very free range parenting thing and let Lucy take the stepping stones by herself. You can see her if you look for the blue shirt. She was so proud of herself for not being scared and was jumping up and down at our meet-up spot to tell me about it. I'm not sure if she realized I could see her the entire time but I didn't feel the need to mention it ;-)

Next up was the nature "classroom"/playground. This place was so neat and reminded me of a Waldorf playground. Loose natural parts to make fairy houses out of. Wooden log blocks to stack.

 A spiders web to crawl around in.

Some giant logs to climb over and crawl through. 

And both kids favorite, this climbing tree thing (that's only about half of it in the picture)

I thought the playground sounded neat on the website but didn't expect them to be so enamored with it. We stayed there for an hour and a half and probably would have played longer if I let them! By then my legs were about to fall off so I canceled the plans for another 1 mile hike but we did have enough energy to take one last little hike past some fairy houses,climb a tower overlooking a lake and do a bit of swinging. In all, I'd guess we hiked about 2 miles which is pretty good for a kindergartener, a toddler and a mom whose 8 months pregnant, I think!

Needless to say, we'll definitely be going back to this place again. Now on to 500!

The Things They Say

Lucy and Jonah are looking at scrapbooks:
Lucy: This is mama's wedding. See, she's got a bride dress on.
Jonah: Oh, look. Daddy was at mama's wedding.
Lucy: Yes. I know. He was the person who married mama.
Jonah: But I want to marry mama
Lucy: You can't, she's already married!
Jonah: To who? 
Lucy: Daddy!

Lucy's song (luckily she was going in the afternoon)
Going to Costco in the morning is not fun. Going to Costco in the morning is NOT fun. Going to Costco in the afternoon IS fun because there are lots of samples. But not in the morning so its not fun.

I hear Jonah get up, say "it's morning, I'm going to play" and head to the living room to play.
Lucy (barging in): Mama! Do you know why I always wake up at the same time as Jonah? Because he WAKES me up. (climbs over me to get into my bed). I don't like it at all!
Me: I could see how that would be annoying. I don't think she quite caught the tone in which I said that.

Jonah: I'm ready to get out of the bath
Me: I have to wash you first
Jonah: No, I don't want that.
Me: Too bad, mommy's decision
Jonah: Then I will pee in the bathtub!

Lately Lucy's been interesting in being a grown-up and has taken to telling me all the things she will do when she gets old enough. Most of the time her tone is merely informative, not rebellious. Her list so far includes:
  • Getting a motorcycle.
  • Getting a convertible. 
  • Getting a tattoo of a princess and a unicorn in rainbow colors that covers her whole arm.
  • Washing her child's hair with water from a teapot and not water from a cup. (This one was said a bit rebelliously)
  • Wearing tennis shoes and not sandals with her church dress. 
  • Eating two slices of cinnamon toast in the morning before finishing her eggs.
At that last statement, said at our kitchen table a few days ago, Jonah had to pipe in with one of his own....eating TWO spoonfuls of cod liver oil a day. And yes, he really does love his clo that much but I still only let him have one spoonful a day. I think it's obvious that I'm a mean mom, don't you think?


Classics Challenge: The Small Woman

While I do like and read quite a bit of non-fiction, I don't generally choose biographies. So when I thought about what I wanted to read this year, I really wanted to challenge myself in that area. The Small Woman was the last of the four biographies I selected back in December and I'm happy to say that I enjoyed most of them very much. I don't think biography is ever going to be my go-to category when I'm looking for a book but I now know I don't need to be afraid of them.

As far as this specific biography goes, I really liked The Small Woman. Glady Aylward's life is obviously inspirational. She is under-qualified and yet chooses to undertake what appears to be a futile journey to do a seemingly impossible job when she sets out toward China to
be a missionary there.

While the book is short and condenses a lot of years into those few pages, I felt it did a good jobs at giving enough details that I ended up caring about her, her work and the people of the area without getting bogged down in details. It wasn't too heavy either, which given the nature of the book, some may consider a good thing, some not. But I was reading for "inspirational" not "depressing" so I personally, am glad of that but it made those moments when I found myself deeply moved by the story even more surprising and meaningful. Short and fairly easy to read but still touching.

The Small Woman is my Back to the Classics Challenge Non-Fiction Selection. For more info about the Challenge, visit Books and Chocolate.


A mother's daybook - August 19

Planning and Preparing - Freezer meals. It seems a bit early in some ways but with two kids under foot I'm not going to have full days to prep this time so my plan is to just make doubles (or triples) of 2-3 of our evening meals each week. So by 36 weeks I should have a decent stash in my freezer. Then I can enjoy the last few weeks to bake with the kids and add some breads, cookies and muffins. You know, the fun stuff!

Reading - Go Set a Watchman. I wasn't really planning on reading it but Craig put himself on the wait list at the library and since it is in the house, I thought I should. We both read To Kill a Mockingbird just a few weeks ago. So far I'm not super impressed but I'll finish it before giving a final verdict. I also just finished up a couple other novels.

The first was Jonathon Strange and Mr. Norrell and my reaction - finally! This book took me so so so long to finish and I think I'm one of the few people that is kinda just "eh" about it. A lot of people love it, obviously. And there seems to be an equal group of those that hate it. I'm not upset I spent time on it and I did finish it which says something- but I don't think I'd recommend it. I thought it was well written and interesting at moments but also very tedious at times. I've heard it described as a mix of Harry Potter and Dickens and I understand that why it's given that description but it's more like 90% Dickens style writing with a bit of non-adventurous magic thrown in. Which is fine if you like that meandering Dickens style, but I don't. I'd hardly call myself an an action junkie when it comes to novels but I do need a bit of something to keep the story moving. I will try and see the BBC version eventually though, I have a feeling it will be the best parts without the agony of having to keep my kindle's wifi off for over a month. TLDR - needed a better editor (as do I at times :-)

The second was China Court by Rumor Godden. This was the first novel by Rumor Godden aimed at adults I've read and it was a bit of a disappointment too considering how much I loved the children's book I read (The Story of Holly and Ivy). I didn't have a problem with keeping track of all the characters (5 generations to keep track of!) and I loved some of the descriptions but I just found it so sad. Not tragic ending sad but rather poignant and I wasn't really prepared for that. By the last chapter I really only like four characters - John Henry, Cecily, Tracy and Peter. And by the last page, I wasn't so sure about Peter either.

Watching - Dr Who Season 8. I'm still getting used to Capaldi but so far he's funnier than I expected and I'm not having a problem understanding his accent. But I think the best part of a new season of the Doctor being released on Netflix is that we don't have to decide what to watch if we sit down in the evening to watch something. That always turns into 30 minutes of trying to pick something and then having to try too hard to stay awake to actually watch what we picked.

Drinking - Iron/Orange Juice/Chlorophyll cocktails three times a day. Finally in the few weeks, my progesterone levels have gone up enough for me to stop taking shots. And stopping the shots has let me stop Zofran too with just a mild bit of nausea to contend with. So that of course means my body has to come up with another issue - anemia. Luckily the iron doesn't seem to bother me or increase my nausea so I'm just fighting fatigue. Just don't laugh if you see me walking around with a green smile, its all for the baby.