Thursday, June 30, 2016

My Five Favorite Kids Book

Reading is my favorite hobby, and so far, my kids are really loving it, too.  We read LOTS of kids books in this house (My guess would be a minimum of ten per day).  We read most books over and over again.  Some are certainly more preferable to me than others.  I thought I'd write a post about my 5 favorite kids books in hopes of generating some new ideas for favorite books!  I can't promise these are my absolute favorites, but they are up there for sure, so in no particular order:

1. Pout Pout Fish

I love Pout Pout Fish.  There are several great books in the series, but the original is my favorite.  It's a cute story about changing your attitude (which is a necessary daily conversation in a house full of toddlers!!)  In fact, 'bluuub' has become a colloquial method of expressing feelings in our house!

2. Good Night, Good Night, Construction Site.
I work on a construction site, so I wasn't surprised when I received two very special versions of this book from friends! (The board book version with a stuffie from Jen and a SIGNED copy from Sara!!) But I haven't enjoyed all of the construction books we've read.  This one has a beautiful and relaxing cadence, lovely artwork and adorable characters.  It's a nightly favorite of Alex!

3.  Little Blue Truck
A very cute reminder about friendship.  It's filled with animals sounds so it's been a big hit for a while here.  I love books with a message, and this one has several.

4. Snuggle Up Sleepy Ones

This was previously Colin's night time book, and we read it twice a day for several years.  It's now a struggle to convince him to let me read it, but it remains a favorite!  Cute pictures of animals settling in for the evening.  (Although you do have to get past a page where Roar rhymes with paws)

5. I love you as Much

Alex's night time book!  This is a cute night time story about all of the mommy animals saying I love you to the baby animals.  "I love you as much as a mother can love."

Monday, June 13, 2016

Personal Capital, a useful overview of personal finance.

I still use a very complicated personally developed excel sheet for my budget.  I've cycled through Mint, YNAB (you need a budget), Quicken and a paper budget, but I always come back to my Excel Sheet.  I think each of those programs has a lot of offer to a specific type of budget-er.

Personal Capital, on the other hand, I think has great value for almost anyone.

Unlike the other programs I mentioned, Personal Capital offers an overview of your accounts and balances, including investments, real estate holdings, and other assets.  It's great use is providing a long term view of  finances.

Despite keeping pretty close records of my spending and maintaining a household budget, I didn't have a great way to track our net-worth.  I would add up the balances of all of our accounts every once and while, but it was cumbersome and not particularly accurate.

Personal Capital syncs all of my accounts so that if I want, I can see how my net worth is changing on a daily basis. (I strongly advise against this, however.)  Still, it's useful to watch things changing and to use the information to make better financial decisions for my family and long term goals.

For example, one of our goals as a family it to pay off our mortgage as quickly as possible.  However, it's a very long term goal.  Watching the balance decrease graphically over time in personal capital has been a great encouragement, as well as watching our net worth increase.

If your primarily goal is paying off other debts, I think it would be even more useful to be able to see all balances, and progress in one place.

Eventually, when we don't have debt, we can work hard to save and have an easy way to track all of our accounts.

I'd encourage anyone looking to make a first step towards getting controller of their finances to create an account.  Let it track your accounts for a while and then check in when you're ready.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Fifty Books!

I've reached one of my goals for the year!!

This year, one of my goals was to read 50 books.  I just finished what I thought was my 50th book, although upon listing them, I realized it was actually 52.  For the purposes of my goals, my year starts in October, and I'm excited to have accomplished it with so much time to spare.

You can read my reviews of the books I read here and here and I will post my final reviews soon, but first I wanted to take a minute to pat myself on the back.

Reading made it as a goal for me because it's something I enjoy doing and something I think is good for me and my mind.  People frequently ask me how I have time to read.  I am a fast reader, but I also love reading.  I don't watch TV and infrequently watch movies, so almost all of my entertainment time is spent reading.  Now that my kids are older, I can even sometimes read my books while they read theirs.  (On a side note, if I included the books I read to my kids, this number would be significantly higher, as I probably read at least 7 kids books a day!)  I also enjoy audiobooks and I include audiobooks in my count.  I considered documenting which I read and which I listened to, but it was too late in the year, so maybe next year.

Good Reads generated this interesting graph for me.  I can thank my Classic Literature Book Club for stretching out my 'year published' range!

According to Goodreads (which did fail to have 2 of my books), I read 17,438 pages of stuff so far this year. 

My 50 books:

1.Yes, Please by Amy Poehler2. Daemon by Daniel Suarez3. Freedom by Daniel Suarez4. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens5. In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume6. Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson7. Getting Things Done by David Allen8. Opposite of Spoiled9. Between the World and Me by Ta-nehisi Coates10. Essentialism by Greg Mckeown11. Art of Tidying by Maria Kondo12. Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman13. Art before Breakfast by Danny14: Finders Keepers by Stephen King15. Dad is Fat by Gaffigan16. Better than Before by Gretchen Ruben17. Beautiful Struggle by Ta-Nahisi Coates18. Silence by Nhat Nanh
19. How to Talk so kids will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk by Faber
20. The 4 hour Body. by Tim Ferris
21. 10th of December  by Greg Saunders
22. Spark Joy by Maria Kondo
23. A Summer Affair by Elin Hilderbrand
24. That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo
25. Tale of a 4th grade Nothing by Judy blume
26. Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart
27. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
28. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
29, The Cartel by Don Winslow
30. The Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
31. Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan

32. For the Love by Hatfield
33. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
34. Elanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
35: 10% Happier by Dan Harris
36. How to Get Dressed by Alison Freer
37. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
38. Walden & Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau
39. Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
40. The Mathematics of Love by Hannah Fry
41. The Tale of Tallest Rabbit by Rodrigo D Lopez
42. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
43.You're never Weird on the Internet by Felicia Day
44. White Oleander by Janet Fitch
45. I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
46.A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
47. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
48. Living Well, Spending Less, 12 Secrets of the Good Life by Ruth Soukup
49. Divine Collision by Jim Gash
50. Living Forward by Michael Hyatt & Daniel Harkavy

51. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
52. Parenting without Power Struggles

I really enjoyed some of my books.

My favorite fiction for the year was probably "Super Sad True Love Story" although most people I've recommended it to didn't like it much.

The book that made the biggest impact on my life was almost certainly Maria Kondo's "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying up."

I didn't like all of the books I read, but probably the only book I regret reading is "Outlander". The problem is that I didn't enjoy reading the book, as it was a bit too 'romance' for me, but I was very curious about the 'rest' of the story.  I didn't realize I was diving into a large romance ocean with that particular serious and now, unwilling to continue swimming, I'll never know who was staring up longing at the protagonist at the beginning of the book. (I have a good guess, but no idea how he got there...)

My reading list isn't much shorter than it was when I started, so I'm looking forward to more worlds,  adventures, and life changing advice.