Mid-Year Review

Okay so technically speaking, I’m a little late to the party seeing that it’s July already but I thought it would be fun to share all the great books I’ve read so far this year. I set a goal to read 50 books and I’m well on my way to surpassing that!

I’ve always been a big reader, even as a kid, but sometime last year I fell in love with reading all over again and have made it a priority to set aside time for myself to do it. Which isn’t always easy as a working mom.

I’m pretty happy with everything I’ve read so far. I started the year following a few challenges but of course I started to drop off after the second month into it. I’m a mood reader so, as fun as challenges are, they’re really hard to stick with.

I did however make it a point to really branch out and read more genres and pick-up books I might not otherwise read, and I’m so glad I did! I started reading graphic novels and discovered that I really enjoy them! I’ve also realized I really love a well written fantasy novel (in fact I’m really in the mood to read one now). Here are a couple of the best and worst books so far:

What I Loved

The Wise Mans Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

Okay so I only gave this book three stars on Goodreads but hear me out. This book is long and incredibly detailed. At times it can even feel a bit arduous, but I can not stop thinking about this book! I think we can all agree that the man really knows how to write a story and maybe it’s just because I’m really in the mood to read another fantasy novel, but I keep looking at these books on my shelf feeling desperate for the third book. A couple of days ago I broke down and spent my Audible credit on the audio version of The Wise Mans Fear and that’s saying something.

You by Caroline Kepnes

I don’t even know what to say about this book. Or Hidden Bodies for that matter. Kepnes writing is incredibly witty and sharp. Somehow she manages to make you love Joe Goldberg who is actually a psychotic, obsessive killer. Masterful. I love a good serial killer novel and I love them even more when they’re written in their perspective so this was such a treat to read. In a dark and creepy kind of way.

What I Didn’t Love

Outer Dark by Cormac McCarthy

I am probably in the minority here but this was actually a DNF for me. This was the second time I tried to read a book by McCarthy and I think my problem is that I really don’t enjoy his writing style at all. Why oh why does this man hate punctuation!? The lack of quotations really irks me in a big way. Am I missing something here? Something profound? I just don’t understand…

American War by Omar El Akkad

This was my only one star. It actually would have been another DNF if it hadn’t been for the fact that I read this with a couple of a girlfriends. This was tagged as a Dystopian novel, taking place in 2095 amid the next Civil War, only it felt like a re-write of the Civil War in 1865…just add in some drones flying over head occasionally. The character development was terrible and there were SO MANY plot gaps.  I also think the author was more focused on pushing his political view then really putting the effort into writing something amazing.

So that’s where I’m at so far: the good and the bad. I’ve got a lot of books on my shelves I’m dying to read and some upcoming releases that I’m also really looking forward to! It’s going to be a good year for reading.

I’m curious: have you read any of these books? Any you loved or hated? Any Fantasy must reads that you would recommend I check out? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy Reading!


Journal Day #6

Well technically number one for me, but the sixth prompt in the series created by Sometimes Sweet. Every Sunday or Monday, Danielle gives a prompt to help inspire herself and those who want to join, to write! You can read more about the project here. I’ve had good intentions to write on some of the previous prompts, but something would come up and I’d forget all about it until it was time for the next one.

I don’t profess to be much a of a writer, I’m just someone who enjoys using her words sometimes.

So without further ado, here is this weeks prompt:

Everyone has different things that keep them going. Sometimes it’s the people around us, other times it might be what’s waiting for us on the other side of hard work. Whatever it may be, there’s usually some sort of motivation to get up every day, get things done, or maybe even go the extra mile. With that said, what would you say is your biggest motivation in life? Has is always been this way? 

The biggest motivation for me now is my daughter. It has not always been that way; before, my motivation varied and at times I really, truly struggled to find it. Usually though, I found motivation on the other side of hard work…the results.

And even though I’m still driven by hard work, my life is very different now. I have this beautiful baby girl who looks at me like the sun and moon rises because of me. I’m incredibly aware that the things I say and do will someday influence her on things like: how she feels about herself, how she perceives others, the actions she does or does not take. It’s sort of a big deal. And hugely overwhelming. I’m petrified of getting it wrong.

She is my motivation in all the big things and all the little things too. When I want nothing more to sit on the couch all night after working all day, I just think of her and I keep going. Whether it’s working out, finishing the dishes that piled up in the sink, or working on the homework assignment that’s due at the end of the week…I just keep going.

I will lose the weight again (and keep it off for good) because I want to show my daughter that a healthy life is a good life.

I will run half marathons again (and a marathon) because I want to show my daughter that she can do anything if she wants it bad enough and is willing to put in the hard work.

I will finally get my degree because I want her to see that no matter what decisions she makes or where she is in her life, she doesn’t have to give up.

I’m a work in progress. I don’t have everything perfectly in order, I have laundry piles covering the floors of our bedroom and my bathroom hasn’t been deep cleaned in almost two months. I’ve only successfully worked out twice in one week once since my daughter was born (almost a year ago). But I’m working on it. I wake up every day knowing that her sweet chubby face will be smiling to greet me. In that moment, all of the things I haven’t gotten around to or didn’t do right the day before, fade away and staring back at me is my little motivation to keep on, keepin’ on.


Right Now | Friday 2.28.14

Reading: After I finished “In the Woods” (which I really do need to write a review…such a disappointment), I started reading “Collecting Cooper” by Paul Cleave and “Getting to 50/50: How Working Couples Can Have It All by Sharing It All” by Joanna Strober. Since becoming a full time working momma, I’ve found myself reaching for resources to help me put systems in place to manage my life better. My husband is already super great at actively participating in the household duties and raising our daughter, so 50/50 is not necessarily anything new for us. Not very far into this at all yet though because I’ve been absorbed by “Collecting Cooper”. People start disappearing in a town called Christchurch. Professor Cooper Riley doesn’t show up for work one day and then suddenly his student, Emma Green goes missing after work one night. Ex-cop Theo Tate, freshly released from prison after nearly killing Emma in DUI accident, is asked by her father to help find her, because well…he owes him. What no one knows is that both Cooper and Emma are being held captive by a former mental patient who has a fascination with serial killers and collecting souvenirs. The best thing I like about this book so far is Adams perspective (the former mental patient). The character development here is strong and I feel more connected to who this person is then some of the other characters which I feel fall a little short. But so far, a great read.

Quest Bars. Greatness Inside.

Eating: QUEST BARS! As far as protein bars go, these really are top of the line. I’m pretty sure everyone has heard of them by now. I first tried them a few years ago when they only had three flavors and then I took a break from protein bars and protein powders for awhile. Now they have tons of great flavors including a chocolate chip cookie dough that if you warm in the microwave for a few minutes, tastes pretty close to the real deal (I just read somewhere that someone tried baking it in the oven for 5 minutes…I need to try this). I always have one in my purse, stuffed in my desk drawer, or hidden in the diaper bag. These have quality ingredients that you can read and understand, gluten free, high in quality protein and they’re not full of junk. Currently I’m eating my way through a box of the Cinnamon Roll flavor but I’m crazy excited to order their new flavor: Cookies & Cream!
Thinking: Wednesday was my dad’s birthday. He would’ve been 57. People say it get’s easier although I beg to differ. It will never be easy to not have him here. To know that my daughter will never have the chance to know him. To never see them play together and create special Grampy and Granddaughter memories together. Those things will never be easy. But you do create a new normal. You have to keep going because what else can you do? I miss him every single day and I find myself thinking of him at some point every single day. Some times it’s overwhelming and I really have to fight to hold back the tears from coming, and other days I smile and am able to think of happy moments we shared or a corny joke he told or the way he smelled…of fresh cut wood and cold, crisp air. Someone shared this passage with me and it really resonated with me.
 My dad was a wonderful human being; Loving, loyal, nurturing, hard working, funny, caring to his very core. He was genuine and I learned so much from him and I am so grateful for the time he was here with us. I will always miss him but I hope that I can keep him very much alive in the eyes of my daughter, so that she can in someway, know exactly who he was.
Enjoying: Bedtime is currently my favorite time of day. Not because N is going down for the night, but because I love our little routine we have together. There’s tubby time, followed by jammies, lavender lotion and songs and then snuggling up in our bed for stories until she can barely keep her little sparkly eyes open. Being away from her all day is difficult, so when I get home at night my focus is all on her. Bedtime is special for both of us and it doesn’t hurt that I get to lay down with her and unwind for a bit.


Watching: We just finished the second season of House of Cards and O.M.G. wow! This show is just amazing. Some of the best acting, writing, plot twists, etc. I’ve seen on TV (though Breaking Bad and Dexter are way up there). Kevin Spacey plays the ruthless Frank Underwood and really is the anchor to this show followed by Robin Wright who plays his enigmatic wife, Claire Underwood. They are a power couple and though their relationship seems stale and cold, they work off each other in such a way you just can’t take your eyes off them. This season was so good that we binge watched it (staying up far to late on a few nights) and now I’m sad it’s over. At least Hannibal is starting tonight!

N in the Ergo during her first visit to the Aquarium

Loving: I’m a big fan of babywearing and I’ve been lusting after ring slings and wovens since N was born but they’re a little intimidating. I used the K’tan when N was teeny tiney and now that she’s bigger we use the Ergo (which we love). But today is the day and I’ve finally ordered a ring sling for us to try and I’m so SO excited! I ordered this one from BabyEtte on Etsy and I’m already on the edge of my seat waiting for it to be delivered! I guess I should wait until it’s actually here in my hands and have had a chance to use it but I’m just so excited that I finally pulled the trigger! As much as I love our Ergo, and will still continue to use it, rings slings are just beautiful and a lot “prettier” for momma. I’m already lusting after a few others…yikes!

Happy Friday!

Right Now | Thursday 2.6.14

Reading: I recently picked up “In The Woods” by Tana French from the library. The book takes place in a small Dublin suburb where, in 1989, three children go into the woods to play. Two of them never come home and the third child is found in blood soaked shoes unable to recall anything that happened in the hours leading up to his discovery. Twenty years later, that same boy is now a detective with a different name to try and escape his past. But when a young girl is found murdered in the same grisly location his friends went missing all that time ago, he launches himself on a mission to find answers. I’m about a quarter way into the book now and I’m really enjoying the character development so far. Though the story did start a tad slow for me, it’s starting to pick up and I’m looking for every open second I can find in order to read more. The relationship between the two detectives are very Benson and Stabler-esqe and I could see this as an episode of Law and Order: SVU but I’m hoping it’s a little less predictable and little more dark as I continue to read.

paleo banana bread gluten-free recipe

Eating: THIS Paleo Banana Bread from Elana’s Pantry. It’s amazing and I’ve made it quite a few times before. Yesterday I had the day off with my little because of the snow storm (which was heaven and I wish I could do that a million times over). While she was napping I decided to bake two loaves, one plain and one with dark chocolate chips as a treat. The plain one I give a small slice with some fruit to N for breakfast in the morning and she loves it. I love that there isn’t a cup of sugar in it (just a tbsp. of honey will do ya) and full of protein, fats and fiber from the nuts. It’s great. I used raw almond meal, not blanched like she calls for in all her recipes because that’s what I had. It still came out wonderful but I did end up ordering a 5lb bag of blanched almond meal last night so I could make some plain Paleo bread and other goodies from her site. If you have not tried any of her recipes, get on that right now. Like stop reading, go look her up, and get in the kitchen. She’s that good. I’ve never had one fail and that’s saying a lot because grain-free baking is NOT easy; at least from my experience, I’m definitely no master baker.
Thinking: I wish there was more time in a day. I know I’m still new at this, she’s not even a year yet, so I’m sure I have a while to go before I even come close to mastering some kind of calm in all of this chaos (or maybe I never will). What I need is a good lesson in time management as a working mom. So many nights I come home to rush some kind of meal I call dinner on the table so we can eat together, just to clean her up, let her play for a bit, then it’s bath, story, bed. And don’t even get me started on mornings. It’s such a mess. I need to get back on track with working out, focus on my health and weight, but every time I set the alarm an hour early with plans to workout, she has a rough night of sleep, ends up in our bed and we’re all groaning when the alarm goes off an hour later. Then we spend the next hour rushing to get everyone ready and out there door and I still end up late to work (thank god for a lenient work environment).

Enjoying: N is pulling herself up, standing almost unassisted and it just blows me away. We think she’s going to skip crawling and go right to walking. I’m enjoying every second that goes by with her, she’s changing all the time and I’m constantly in awe of her, of our life. Last night, after her bedtime story she wanted to snuggle in her rocking chair, so I slowly rocked her, whispered to her and sang to her as she drifted to sleep. When her eyes closed I just stared at her in awe and wonder at this little person, soaking in every snuggly moment because I know it won’t last.

Watching: Nothing. Not only is there nothing good on TV right now (I’m patiently waiting for the return of Hannibal), but with the Spring semester under way, I just don’t have time at night to watch anything. I’d rather read a book in bed and I’m finding that far more relaxing right now. In general, we watch far more movies than we do night-time television so we’ve actually been looking into alternatives to cable.

Loving: This blog. So real, so raw, hilarious, and sometimes heartbreaking. Even if I don’t share the same experiences as the women writing, even if my story is different, or the same. There’s always something I take away from it as a mother. A good laugh, or a deep lesson, I just can’t get enough of the writing and I read every single new post.

Note to self: work on taking more photos for the blog!

On Oversharing

I was thinking about this blog and it reminded me of an article I had read a few months ago, this one actually, about children’s privacy online (which by the way, if you haven’t seen ‘BatDad’, it is pretty funny). Before Natalie was even born I started thinking about how I would handle sharing her life and of course, my new life with her in it.  At one point I had accounts on all the social media platforms and I shared quite often, about quite a lot. Early on in my pregnancy, my dads health took a turn for the worse (he passed away in 2012 from Pancreatic Cancer) I started revaluating things and social media and my privacy was one of them.

I deleted accounts, stopped posting so much and really thought about what I would share and what I wouldn’t. I felt this intense need to make my life my own again. Anyone and everyone didn’t need to know about every mundane detail of my life (and I’m sure my Facebook friends were collectively sighing with relief). Now that my daughter is here, the need to keep her privacy safe is even stronger.

Sometimes it’s hard because I see all these adorable photos from Instagram and read these beautiful blog posts littered with smiling children and I think maybe I’m being to uptight about it…maybe sharing our new life so fully isn’t such a bad thing? But the reality is that there is a dark, gloomy side to the internet and not everyone is “good”. The other reality is that she is going to be old enough some day to begin her own presence online and that’s her story to tell. I don’t ever want her to look back on what I said or photos I shared and feel embarrassed or ashamed (i.e. mothers who post potty training photos…I will never understand that). When the time comes, her father and I will guide her and provide her with the knowledge to share safely the best we can but while she’s still so young, that lesson starts with me.

My Facebook account is private, under a made up last name, and my “friends” list paired down so we do share a photo here and there. I said out loud once that I was thinking about taking it down and I almost had a mutiny on my hands by my family who looks forward to those pictures. So I still use it. I don’t have an Instagram account anymore and it’s still up in the air whether I’ll start one again to go with this blog. And Twitter is just too fast paced for me to keep up with.

All of this brings me back to this blog and what I will share here. I am a mom who works full-time trying to juggle everything that makes life beautiful and sometimes frustrating and ugly so naturally I will talk about mommy things. But I will never post anything that I would not want her to read or that she may look back on and find offensive. I have to remember this is her story too.

And on that note, something humorous:

Funny Reminders Ecard: Your constant oversharing on Facebook makes me want to punch you in the face.