Life Reflections As I Turn 30

Tomorrow is my 30th Birthday. Obviously that means I should reflect upon where I am and draw conclusions about my awesomeness or lack thereof.

Age: 30

Spouse: 1 Husband, Jeff. The Shawn to my Gus, the Hank to my Peggy, the Red to my Kitty.

Children: 1, Hannah. My reason for waking up in the morning, my sunshine.

Job: Grocery Merchandiser. Good pay, moderately good hours (as in I could use more), flexible schedule. And I like it. Good for now.

Education: BA in Psychology from Mesa State. Loved college, one of the best times in my life.

Goals Achieved: Ran a 5K. Lost 40lbs. Run for fun, on purpose. Graduated college. Married Jeff. Had a kid. Flew on a plane, saw the ocean, went to a foreign country (Canada counts!). Had my writing published and paid for! Got to write for Pajiba. Own our own home. Created a fabulous financial plan.

Goals Remaining: Pay off truck (5 months), Student loans (15 months) and house (10 years). Run a 10K. Run at least one race every year. Maintain a home my daughter can be proud to have friends come to. Be financially comfortable enough that we can do a little traveling with Hannah. Do some pen-and-ink published freelance writing. Stop worrying about what other people think. Make more friends. Be more outgoing.
Stop dwelling on things.

Reflections: Since meeting Jeff my life has been a series of adventures I could never have imagined and that now I can't imagine missing.

Hannah is everything i ever could have wanted in a child. She's smart, funny and kind. I hope she grows up to be everything she wants to be and more.

My life is very fulfilling and content. All I have to do is let it be.

Five Things I Think You Should Know About

1. Yes, it's a good housecleaning website, but it's so much more than that! I ignore most of the tips now, but what made it worthwhile was developing routines and a plan to managing my life. My house is now never more than 20-30 minutes away from company clean and I have the right amount of stuff for my house.

2.  A TV watching website that I am completely certain is legal. Big Love, Dexter, etc are all up the next day. Good quality stuff.

3. A movie review website with some of the weirdest and most original commenters I've come across. The reviews are smart, not pandering and there's enough stuff to keep you entertained for days. Also, the Big Love reviews are phenomenal.

4. Using SparkPeople for fitness and food monitoring I dropped 40lbs in 9 months. Now I use it to check in. It's got everything; workout tips, fitness and nutrition articles, member blogs, forums, groups for different lifestyles and a multitude of other great features.

5. Best personal finance website I've read, hands down. JD is the owner and the main writer, but there's a few staff members on board now. The topics aren't just boring mutual funds and savings accounts, it's often real questions with real answers you can use. The commenters are fairly knowledgeable and there's a great feature called 'Reader Questions' where the commenters give you their best personal finance advice. If you can't find something useful there, you're not looking.

TWoP Fan's CBR-III Review #8 – Over Her Dead Body by Kate White

This is book number four of the Bailey Weggins crime series, book two of which was reviewed in my last CBR3 review. The outline is the same, smart sleuth Bailey finds herself in any number of improbable scenarios, yet comes out on top. On principle, these books shouldn't be good. And they aren't, exactly. They aren't literary classics, but each book has an interesting twist on the mystery and/or Bailey's life that brings a new spark to a familiar formula.

In this outing, our intrepid heroine has found a new writing gig at Buzz magazine, a scandal rag. The insider knowledge of the magazine industry is the unique angle this series takes and it's a pretty good one. As Bailey meets the staff and figures things out, so do the readers, which is a good way to keep a fourth book interesting. Bailey meets the requisite ragtag team of reporters and her new boss, Mona Hodges, who, despite the similar moniker, wishes she was half the woman Meryl Streep's Miranda Hodges was. She's mean and petty and soon, dead. Bailey stumbles across the body and decides that she must figure out who did it, as she hates to work with possible murders.

This book is less about the mystery than the magazine landscape and the murderer is easily guessed, and it's not a well-thought out mystery. Everyone is a suspect for no apparent reason, people do suspicious things for no reason, people jump to completely illogical conclusions for no reason. It's saving grace is that the writing is sharp and the story is entertaining and funny.

I live in a small town, so the whole idea of stumbling over a dead body every few weeks or so is a little unbelievable to me. Bailey takes it awfully well, and if she gets to a point where she's creating those bodies, it would definitely move this series to a whole new level.

Rating: No a re-read, but worth a glance. In the series, book three in the series is my favorite.

TWoP Fan's CBR-III Review #7 – A Body to Die For by Kate White

Kate White, who is the editor-in-chief of Cosmo, writes a series of 'cozies' (chick-lit mysteries) about Bailey Weggins, an amateur sleuth who works in the magazine business. A Body to Die For is the second in the series, but in this style of series, it doesn't really matter where you start. There's always a few identifying paragraphs to get you up to speed.

Bailey works for Gloss magazine, a Cosmo knock-off. She's a freelancer, with what sounds like an amazing contract. She also stumbles across dead bodies. A lot. Enough to where you think people would be a little concerned. Since Bailey is a true crime writer (of course she is), she obviously needs to investigate the murders she comes across, because it's not like we have people who are trained to do that very thing. Oh, wait.

She basically gets in the way, pisses people off, snoops in places she shouldn't and jumps to conclusions constantly. Normally this would be too much to take in a series, but Kate White's writing sells it. Yeah, Bailey is forceful and not nearly as clever as she gives herself credit for, but she's also witty, sarcastic and fun. She's an interesting person and she does interesting things. The secondary characters are never fully fleshed out, but serve as set pieces to set up Bailey's next move, like many other serials. However, a few characters move through the series with her, her boss at Gloss, Cat Jones, who is delightfully bitchy and her neighbor Landon, who is a delightfully spry gay man who cooks a mean dinner.

This mystery brings Bailey to the spa owned by a family friend. After Bailey arrives, a masseuse is murdered. Naturally. Bailey stays on at the spa to try and help figure out what's happening, so the business doesn't go under. The mystery isn't anything overly clever and the writer is clearly going for the twist ending that isn't so much of a twist as an ending that comes out of no where and makes no sense. Fortunately, Bailey's just cool enough that you're glad she doesn't die and it sets up enough of an end to make the next one look appealing as well.

Rating: Good for a beach read or a stormy night. It's not Dickens, but it's not Twilight, either.

TWoP Fan's CBR-III Review #6 – Matched by Ally Condie

Matched started with the concept of a new world where everything is perfect and there is not choice but perfection. It's a well-traveled idea, yet in the right hands a new world can take shape, such as in Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games trilogy. Unfortunately, while Matched is an interestiing idea and the beginning of the book starts with promise, the scope of the book is shallow and poorly executed.

Matched is a Young Adult novel, starting with the theme of love. Only in Society, you are Matched with your intended at a Matching ceremony where you receive a picture and get to eat decedent food that is chosen for flavor rather than nutritional value. Cassia is Matched to her best friend and neighbor, a surprising choice, but obviously the right one, as Society does not make mistakes. However, Cassia also sees another face on her Matchcard when she goes to view her Match card and Cassia seeks him out.

The novel tries to explore broad themes of what we are left with if things like poetry, art and music are regulated and chosen for us, but ultimately it is supposed to be a love story about a rebellious young woman. The story starts off drawing an intriguing place, but the story itself overshadows the characters, when the story tells us what the characters feel and why, rather than showing natural emotions and decisions of the characters. The love story rings hollow, because it's hard to see what specialness these characters hold for each other. The book shows a bleak, automated, grey society and that greyness permeates the story more than it should.

Rating: A good story idea, but it lacks vividness and realness.