Posted in blogging

My Top 5 Blogging and Reading Goals for 2020

Not gonna lie, I’m a little afraid to write this post. Last year was the first time I’ve ever put a clear list of goals “on paper” and I achieved exactly… ZERO!!

In my defense, last year was a year of the unexpected. How’s that joke go…? If you wanna make God laugh, tell Him your plans? Well, God was doing some serious belly laughing at me in 2019!

When 2019 started, we were something similar to empty-nesters. My oldest daughter was away at college, my youngest was living with her father in another county, and it was just my husband and me in an eerily silent home, figuring out life without any kids begging for our attention 20+ hours of the day.

By the end of 2019 we had six kids – Four of which were under four years of age and I honestly can’t remember the last time it was quiet here for more than 5 minutes except for nap and bedtime!!

In the “calm” before our home became something resembling a 24-hour daycare, I set up my recording studio in a closet under our stairs and began earnestly working on my audiobook career. After the youngest four of our tribe moved in, I found myself with more work than I could handle and keeping up with my blog was impossible! Plus, I just didn’t feel like it.

Even thinking about writing a blog post began causing anxiety attacks. So, for the sake of my mental health and the general well-being of everyone around me, my online life became close to non-existent while we were all adjusting to a new “normal.”

It took quite some time, but I’ve figured out how to continue narrating and producing audiobooks amidst the chaos. Every day brings at least three unexpected twists, but I don’t think I’ve ever been happier…which, now that I’m thinking about it, is pretty freaking odd. I mean, I’m probably more stressed/worried on a regular basis, but in some ways I’m more calm and laidback and…well… Happy.

And that happiness has finally extended to a desire for my website as well. I’m feeling excited about connecting with other book lovers and sharing my life and thoughts with my online peeps again. Which is something I haven’t felt since I first started blogging a couple years ago.

But that’s not really the point of this post. The whole topic is supposed to be what I want to accomplish on my blog and combing through the pages of my TBR in 2020. Instead, I once again managed to create a whole other post within a post.

Moving on…

Here are my goals for 2020:

1. Read and review at least 52 books! I wasn’t able to get much reading accomplished last year. Even when I did, I didn’t have it in me to jump online and review them. But I pretty much transformed into a reading and knitting machine in the last month or so and I’m looking forward to continuing that throughout the year!

2. Post at least 5 times a week. I’ve managed to put together a blogging planner for January that includes a post every day except Sundays! Not sure if I’ll be able to keep up that level of planning and writing the entire year, but I feel like I’m off to a great start.

3. Reestablish links with other book bloggers. One of the best parts of talking about books online is that there are so many incredibly supportive people in the community. I’ve really missed that as my “real” life took me farther and farther away from my life online. I’m looking forward to connecting with everyone again!

4. Promote my audiobooks. So I’m pretty much the worst when it comes to self-promo and marketing. I don’t know if it’s because I hate talking about myself or that I worry too much about coming across as pushy or what, but everytime I think about mentioning I’ve narrated a new book, I literally get itchy! Like right now…my left arm feels like I’ve managed to get chicken pocks! Ugh.

Anyway, I plan on dedicating one post a week to talking about what I’m working on in my studio, what’s already out, and what I’m planning on doing next.

5. Giveaways!!! I only got to do one giveaway last year. It was so exciting and much more fun than I’d expected. I really want to do at least three in 2020, and more if possible!

So there you have it. My top 5 blogging/reading goals for the year 2020. What are your goals? If you’ve posted a 2020 goals post, leave me a link below so I can check them out!

Thanks for visiting and Happy New Year!

Posted in Thing 1 Rants

Thing 1 Introduces a (hopefully) Semi-regular New Segment: Thing 1’s Thoughts and Rants

Hello readers of Combing Through the Pages, it is I, Thing 1, the eldest of my mother’s children.

Wow. That was more dramatic than I thought it would be.

Anyway… I’m here to introduce a new segment of posts that I will be doing this summer that are just going to be me ranting about things that I feel strongly about or about some random thought that I recently had.

These posts will hopefully be posted on a semi-regular basis on Friday. I make no promises on that though cause I’m a procrastinator at heart and it’s hard to keep that in check when it’s summer. So apologies in advance if this segment ends up not happening that often, but I will try my best.

I do hope that you all will enjoy the rants and thoughts that I do end up posting about. And I hope that you’ll find them as entertaining as me and my mom do.

Posted in keto diet

4 Surprises from My First Month on Keto


I normally wouldn’t share a post like this, but I’m kinda amazed and want to tell anyone who will listen about it…

I’ve mentioned in some previous posts about the problems with my neck/ arm but haven’t really given a lot of details about what it’s meant for my daily life.

One if the hardest and most challenging things has been my inability to exercise. I went from running half-marathons and 15-mile races on whim to nothing. Running was my “therapy.” It cleared my mind and helped me process all my anxious and overloaded thoughts.

In addition to not getting the exercise I needed for both my physical and mental health, I quit eating healthy. To be honest, I was never a super healthy eater, but I definitely got worse over the last year or so.

I started feeling really bad. It wasn’t just that I’d put on weight and was self- conscious about it, but I physically felt awful. I struggled to breathe walking up the stairs and sometimes got winded just walking around my house. I was becoming more and more miserable everyday.

My husband’s constant suggestion to exercise was super unhelpful because there wasn’t much I could do. And when I found that yoga helped me to feel better and eased my neck/shoulder/arm pain, he didn’t like it and so I quit. (Yeah, I’m aware how stupid that is. We’ve discussed and worked through the stupidity & stubbornness on both sides of that one… You can still feel free to harass me in the comments though if so desire.)

Then, one month ago today, I started following a ketogenic diet.

Well, I kinda started a month ago…? Actually, I’d researched it for a month before that and started lowering my carb intake because I’m a big baby and was scared off the “keto flu.”

Anyway… I’m super excited about my weight loss so far, but what I really wanted to share is the side-effects I’ve experienced in addition to the loss of pounds!

So here are the 4 biggest surprises/bonuses I’ve experienced on keto so far:

  1. Going without sleep thanks to foster babies and teenage babies, I’ve been in a constant brain fog for what feels like forever! But after the first week of keto, I noticed I was thinking more clearly and didn’t feel nearly as stupid as I have been!
  2. I have almost no desire to snack anymore. I was snacking all day long before keto. I also ate a bag of microwave popcorn every night before bed and then got up in the middle of the night craving chips. It only took about 3 days for those cravings to disappear completely! Not only that, but I don’t eat or require as much food to feel full and I hardly even get hungry during the day.
  3. The food!!! I’m not saying I never miss bread (I’ve found some great keto bread recipes), but I am loving the meals I get to eat! What other diet makes you feel this good and still allows you to eat things like bacon cheeseburger casserole???
  4. The health benefits!!! I have high blood pressure that’s incredibly hard to control. I also suffer from intense migraines. Both would plague me for days every single week. In the last month, I’ve had one migraine and one fight with my bp. Since the change in my diet is the only thing different, I’ve got to assume keto is the reason!

So those were the big surprises for me on keto so far that I wanted to share with everyone.

For those who are interested to know what my 1 month weight loss results have been:

Pounds lost: 13.1

Inches from waist: 3.0

Inches from hips: 2.75

I’m interested in others stories… Have you tried keto or been shocked by other diets? Leave me a comment below!

Posted in blogging

No, I’m not dead…


Hello everyone!

I know, I disappeared after my steroid injection post, but they didn’t kill me or anything! (I’m actually going to get the second one today. Yikes!)

I am sorry for the radio silence over the last few weeks, we’ve just had a lot going on! Some was just personal stuff, but on top of that we started getting the house ready for a sibling group we thought we were going to get from foster care, but that fell through, and now we have a completely different placement…

So a lot of transitioning going on in my home! Which means a lot of randomness and sporadic posting here.

I do hope to at least get caught up on reviews and my other planned posts over the next couple weeks and then hopefully get back to normal and fully open up to review requests again soon!

In the meantime, I just wanted to pop in quickly to say hi! I’ve missed all my blogging world peeps! Hope all is well with you!!

Posted in Note to Self

Note to Self: You do NOT handle steroids well!


As I’ve mentioned before, I have arthritis in my neck and bulging discs hitting my spinal cord. This has caused weakness in my right arm and a decrease in grip strength, among other very painful issues in my neck/shoulder area itself. (I personally feel having this issue in my left arm would be way better, but apparently God didn’t agree – so here we are.)

Yesterday, I received my first round of steroid injections to help decrease my pain and regain the full use of my right arm.

I’ve taken Prednisone in the past and always have a hard time with it. Basically, I feel crazy, can’t sleep, and get super jittery. I also tend to go into anxiety overload!

BIG OOF!

~Alexis, aka Thing 1

For some reason, I really thought having steroids shot directly into my spine would prevent these side effects…

After being up pretty much all night and feeling like my skin is crawling I can officially say:

THAT WAS THE MOST RIDICULOUS THOUGHT I’VE EVER HAD IN MY ENTIRE LIFE!

I just wanted to share my stupidity with the rest of you. Feel free to point, laugh & call me names. I’m definitely doing it!

Happy Friday! 😊

How’s your weekend starting out? Please tell me you’re all feeling better than me!!

Posted in Note to Self

Note to Self: You’re Not on Vacation Anymore!

Well, I’m back (sorta)!

We had an amazing time on our vacation. But I think my brain may still be there!

I cannot seem to get back into the swing of things now that I’m back home… I don’t feel like cleaning, writing, cooking, or really doing anything that requires effort at all. Even carrying on coherent, meaningful conversations is just too much! Why can’t I just Cyndi Lauper my life away?

I’m aware that my refusal to be a productive member of society again probably means the cruise we took spoiled me just a little too much!

For now, I’m okay with it. I’m usually so stressed about everything that’s it’s nice to have a more laid back attitude… At least until I starve as I chill in my dusty home reading books and talking to people on the internet. (Can someone remind me to eat occasionally?)

Seriously, am I the only person who struggles to get back into the normal flow of life after vacation? What do you do to get motivated again?