Book of the Month

I absolutely love to read, but I haven’t always made time to read for pleasure. When I was going through my divorce and learning to share my kids, I looked for some enriching activities that I had always wanted to pursue but didn’t have time for. I ended up subscribing to Book of the Month. I’ve always had a pile of books on my end table or by my bed, and my shelves are always full. Book of the Month is the original book subscription box, and I really love it. 

You get access to early releases, the books are vetted by actual readers, and they are very reasonably priced.  You receive a hardcover book each month.  

But the thing I love about it is that you don’t have to!  You can skip a month and not be charged for it.  I started this at the same time that I was early into my doctoral program and a relationship.  I ended up not having the time I hoped for leisure reading.  I love the convenience of being able to skip AND not be charged.  If you completely forget to make a choice or to choose to skip, they do not just send you something.  They charge you, and you have a credit on your account.  I appreciate this so I’m not collecting a bunch of books I’m never going to read.

The cost is $12.50-$16.67, depending on your membership plan.  Shipping is always free, and there are often opportunities to add books on for a discounted rate.  For me, at the time, I was trying to save money, but I justified this as something that promotes wellness and my goals, especially as I was getting used to sharing custody of my kids with their dads.  It also is literally the cost of skipping two fast food meals a month- I can do that!  😀  

This is a picture of my daughter receiving some books for her birthday with her look of joy- similar to me each month getting my box. 🙂

Another thing I really love about it is that it is a convenient way for me to read things I might not typically.  The books all have reviews, they give you info that’s good to know before you read- for example, I am sensitive to reading about certain abuse situations, so I appreciate that info ahead of time!  They give you a synopsis, genre, and about the author, so you can make an informed decision.  I have enjoyed every book I have received, so they are doing a great job at giving me the info I need to decide!  I have been part of a book club, but with the inconsistency in my schedule the past couple years between doctoral work, work, kids, etc, this is a different way that encourages me to read and read new things. It’s really important to me to model a love of reading for my kids. I really love our reading time together, be it me reading to them, them reading to me, or us just reading together in one another’s company. All the photos in this post are of my kids reading, because believe it or not, nobody’s really out there taking pics of me reading my BOTM books. 🙂

For my birthday, my husband gave me an amazing little cabana so I can hide out and read outside- my favorite place to read, believe it or not. 😉  I’ll be excited to get my next box and test it out!  

**This review is in no way associated with Book of the Month in any official capacity. I just like it and wanted to share.**

From the archive: The Restorative Power of Salt Water

From the archive. Originally written May 31, 2016.

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It’s time to talk about my trip.  There’s so much to say, really.  Of course, I need to do the whole photos and recap post, but first, I think I’d like to talk about the effect of the trip on me personally.

When I walked out of that school on my last day there, I walked out with tears streaming down my face but I sighed a big sigh of relief.  Not that it was over, but that my last day was finally over.  I felt like I had been dreading that day forever, and had been living that day over and over everyday through a thousand different “lasts.”  After that, I went home, picked up my babies, and headed to the airport.  We flew just the three of us to meet their dad who had been out of town for business for a week.  I was so proud of myself when we arrived in Denver!  I felt like an accomplished mom- a real mom- for having successfully flown somewhere with two children three and under on my own.

Utah was so wonderful.  I immediately felt at ease when we arrived there.  For so many reasons.  But being reunited as a family, the mountains, Paul Simon, and my old, dear friends did wonders for my soul.  Utah was sweat- hiking, dancing, playing with the kids- lots of activity.

We headed off to California.  We went to Disneyland with the kids which was truly delightful.  Lots of play time.  We went to an aquarium and the beach.  I love the sea.  Nick does too, which made it extra lovely.  We stood at the edge and let the waves roll upon us together.  I had to hold tightly to him because the water is so powerful.  We did that over and over again, and it might have been my favorite part of the California trip.

Spending time with Spencer and the kids brought me back to Earth.  Spending time talking to Sam and listening to Paul Simon reminded me of who I am.  Salt water- tears, sweat, and the sea- restored me.  When I came home, I felt a million times better than I did when I left.  And a million times more like myself.  And a million times more ready to take on this next chapter of my life.  Isak Dinesen was right when she said, “The cure for anything is salt water- tears, sweat, or the sea.”  I needed a dose of each to cure me.  And it has.  I’m so grateful.

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Wildflower Hikes: Trail Among the Trees

A nearby and old favorite- Trail Among the Trees at Rockwood Reservation!

This trail is at Rockwood Reservations. This is a conservation area, one of the oldest in Missouri. I have strong and fond memories of attending day camps and outdoor activities here as a kid, and I love this area. There are several great trails out here, and it is a super popular place to hike, bike, picnic, and birdwatch. Click here for a link to a map of the area.

Trail Among the Trees is my favorite. There’s variety and it’s beautiful. It’s listed on the map as 1.5 miles long, but All Trails has it just under two miles long The end of the trail does not completely loop to the trail head, so you will have to walk between them. There is also a connection to the Lime Kiln Trail, and doing these together makes an absolutely delightful hike. The trail is a mix of natural and paved surface.

It truly is a trail among the trees, as it climbs up a ridge and back down again. The elevation gain is about 250 feet. You begin on a paved trail that switches up the slope. This is a gorgeous run. You get up to natural surface and rocky surface and you emerge on the edge of a ridge with a gorgeous view of the tree tops. And there’s a bench. 🙂

You then continue to rise up the ridge and then walk along the ridge among the treetops for a while. This is paved again. Then you switch back down the ridge and there are a couple of bridges and you follow above the creek, then descend down to a creek crossing. You then follow a natural surface trail next to a creek and a bluff for a while until you come out on the road. There used to be a staircase, but the trail is rerouted at this time.

This is one of my favorite trails, and it is often what I choose on my birthday becauase of all the wildflowers! There is something magical about walking among the treetops when the dogwoods and redbuds are blooming, along with the bright spring green leaves appearing. It makes you feel things.

Happy Spring-o!

Happy spring! My favorite season. (I say this tongue in cheek- Kareem says I treat them like they’re all my favorites. Probably because they are!)

I made us a spring bingo board. I don’t love the idea of bucket lists, but I love the idea of choice. So I let the members of my family make their boards. I did put lists of ideas and links to resources for other ideas… and of course, I’m open to their ideas!

Anyway, it was such a hit, I thought I’d share with you! Feel free to make a copy and make it your own.

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1w_BwFPtJFA1wdjFXJAIKvks-F1IEyOBgRnZNSMyasI8/edit?usp=sharing

Enjoy and happy spring!

Solo Hiking: My little tips and tricks

I post lots of pictures of my hikes, and people often say I’m “brave” because I am often alone, or it is just me and my kids. I would say upwards of 50% of my hiking is done alone, much to my mother’s dismay. It’s really a matter of circumstance more than choice, and it just kind of is what it is. (Though if anybody ever wants to hike together, I’m pretty much always down!)

Hiking solo can be a very rewarding experience. I have come to really enjoy my solitutde. It also helped me become more comfortable with selfies- ha! But I haven’t always been comofrtable doing this, and this past winter, I had a few weird experiences that, once again, were good reminders of how to increase safety on a solo adventure. I’ve also maybe seen one too many episodes of Unsolved Mysteries for comfort.

But seriously, I haven’t always been comfortable doing this! But as my experiences became more frequent, my confidence increased. Being prepared is my super secret to doing it, and I wanted to share my own experiences and tips with anybody who is considering it themselves. I’m not an expert, but I do it often.

Being prepared means a lot of things, and I think all of these tips kind of roll into “be prepared.” Specifically, these are some ways to prepare

Choose the right trail for you.

If you are going to be alone, it is very important to choose a trail that is a) well-maintainted, b) well-traveled, and c) well within your abilities.

It’s very important to know your limits. You don’t want to get yourself into a situation where you are isolated or where you are able to hike in but unable to hike out due to exhaustion or something.

I made this huge mistake once. I chose a trail while I was solo hiking in Wales. It ended up to be beyond my capacity, not so much in ability length or difficulty wise, but beyond my agrophobic tendencies. So I ended up in quite a pickle! Now I always check topographic maps as part of my research and look at reviews to understand what the drop offs and heights are like so I can compare to my own ability to handle it.

Communicate

Tell somewhere your plans- where you plan to go, when, and how long you estimate it may take. And then stick with your plan! Of course, let someone know once you start out and once you return as well. If you are able to register with the park and/or ranger, do so. Many places have a registration box at the trailhead.

There are also apps to map your hike and even communicate with your people. Cairn Hiking App features real-time tracking information for your “safety circle” and will send out texts when you start and when you complete. It also shows you maps of cell reception on and around trails. You can download maps as well. I always map my hikes on All Trails as well. Some of these features are paid features. I use the free versions of each of these apps.

Another good thing to bring and have is a two way satellite communication device. Here’s a good REI article about them. I’ve also seen a ham radio recommended.

Know your surroundings

It’s really important to know the weather forecast before planning your hike. And even after planning, stay updated on the weather expectations for your hike. Always dress appropriately for the weather. It’s also a good idea to have an understanding of the wildlife you may encounter on the trail and bring anything you might need in case of a run-in with one of these wild creatures! Know the terrain and come prepared for what you may meet. I’ve seen people wearing flip flops on very rugged trails- don’t do this!

Maintain awareness

No headphones, or at least not two at a time. I remember hiking Arthur’s Seat in Scotland and I just needed something, so I did listen to some music but on low and with one headphone. That’s as much as I feel is safe, and I don’t even do that much most of the time. Don’t watch tv on your phone or otherwise distract yourself. It’s important to stay aware of your surroundings when you are on a solo hike. Take the opportunity to just be present and mindful of your surroundings on an outing like this, for further enjoyment of course, but also for safety’s sake!

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Be prepared

Bring your pack. Make sure you have the Ten Essentials (click here for an excellent REI article on the Ten Essentials). Make sure you have these things everytime you go out, even if you feel like it’s overkill or you don’t need it for such a short hike. You never know when that short hike may become unexpectedly long! I’ve been there!

I do truly enjoy my solitude in the woods, but again, ti wasn’t always that way. My confidence has grown as I’ve done it more frequently. I also know that feeling prepared has contributed to that feeling as well. These are good tips for hiking anytime with anybody. I hope that while I am not an expert, some of these may have resonated with you in some way. Happy hiking!