Friday, July 31, 2015

Books I Read in July and Whether or Not You Should Read Them.

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Plot: "Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them. In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything." -via Goodreads

Favorite Quote: 


"Mortals. I envy you. You think you can change things. Stop the universe. Undo what was done long before you came along. You are such beautiful creatures." 

My Thoughts: This is very outside of what I normally read, but a friend from work recommended it so I thought I'd give it a shot. I surprised myself and loved it. I'm so happy there are more in the series. It reminded me a lot of Twilight.

Should you read it?: If you like paranormal YA books, yes. 

The Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

Plot: "Her perfect life is a perfect lie. As a teenager at the prestigious Bradley School, Ani FaNelli endured a shocking, public humiliation that left her desperate to reinvent herself. Now, with a glamorous job, expensive wardrobe, and handsome blue blood fiancĂ©, she’s this close to living the perfect life she’s worked so hard to achieve.

But Ani has a secret. 
There’s something else buried in her past that still haunts her, something private and painful that threatens to bubble to the surface and destroy everything.

With a singular voice and twists you won’t see coming, Luckiest Girl Alive explores the unbearable pressure that so many women feel to “have it all” and introduces a heroine whose sharp edges and cutthroat ambition have been protecting a scandalous truth, and a heart that's bigger than it first appears. 

The question remains: will breaking her silence destroy all that she has worked for—or, will it at long last, set Ani free?" -via Goodreads 

Favorite Quote: 


“I think you know when two people are meant for each other when you see that they’re better people together than they are when they’re apart.”

My thoughts: Everywhere I saw this book, it was compared to Gone Girl. Even on the cover of the book! I think that was a very, very poor choice that someone in PR made, because I went into it expecting it to be shocking and twisty and enthralling. It wasn't. 

Yes, it's mysterious, but more in a way of you know something bad happened, you find out the bad thing that happened, and there's really no closure. It was a very raw, very rough book to read, but I kept reading it waiting for some big twist, and I just didn't feel like there was one. I know a lot of people liked this one, but I did not.

Should you read it?: No.

And, not a book, but one of the reasons I didn't read so much this month: 

SerialSerial is a podcast from the creators of This American Life, and is hosted by Sarah Koenig. Serial tells one story - a true story - over the course of an entire season. Each season, we'll follow a plot and characters wherever they take us. And we won’t know what happens at the end until we get there, not long before you get there with us. Each week we bring you the next chapter in the story, so it's important to listen to the episodes in order, starting with Episode 1. 

Plot: "On January 13, 1999, a girl named Hae Min Lee, a senior at Woodlawn High School in Baltimore County, Maryland, disappeared. A month later, her body turned up in a city park. She'd been strangled. Her 17-year-old ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, was arrested for the crime, and within a year, he was convicted and sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison. The case against him was largely based on the story of one witness, Adnan’s friend Jay, who testified that he helped Adnan bury Hae's body. But Adnan has always maintained he had nothing to do with Hae’s death. Some people believe he’s telling the truth. Many others don’t.

Sarah Koenig, who hosts Serial, first learned about this case more than a year ago. In the months since, she's been sorting through box after box (after box) of legal documents and investigators' notes, listening to trial testimony and police interrogations, and talking to everyone she can find who remembers what happened between Adnan Syed and Hae Min Lee fifteen years ago. What she realized is that the trial covered up a far more complicated story, which neither the jury nor the public got to hear. The high school scene, the shifting statements to police, the prejudices, the sketchy alibis, the scant forensic evidence - all of it leads back to the most basic questions: How can you know a person’s character? How can you tell what they’re capable of? In Season One of Serial, she looks for answers." via Serial Podcast

My thoughts: I realize I am way behind the times here, but I'm not a huge podcast fan. Now that I know podcasts like this exist, my commute to and from work is so much more bearable. It was like listening to an episode of Law and Order play out each week, and it was incredibly interesting. 

Should you listen to it?: Yes! And it's free. 

What have you been reading this month?

Thursday, July 30, 2015

16 Weeks: Things I Want to Remember.

Practicing for our real picture. I hid cheese behind the ultrasound to get him to look at it. Mom of the year already, guys. 

We are four months today, people. FOUR MONTHS. HOW. I think this is the part where I maybe start to panic because I still know nothing about having a baby. I should really be researching and list making and learning about how to take care of a baby, but instead I'm ordering and eating pizza because it makes the baby happy and really, isn't that just as important? 

Don't answer that.

Moving on. Here are some things I want to remember from this week.

  • I swear, Gatsby can sense the baby. He gets real close to my stomach, cocks his head sideways and looks at it, and then nudges and sniffs and licks my stomach. It is the cutest thing I have ever seen, and I'm hoping it means he's going to be bff with the baby. 
  • Chipotle is back! As I mentioned on Wednesday, Mexican food has been off the table for about 9 weeks now. But on Monday, I woke up thinking about Chipotle. I could taste the barbacoa. We got it for dinner, and it has never tasted so good. So happy to have a favorite back, and to be able to eat something other than chicken!
16 down, 24(ish) to go. Somebody panic with me. Or maybe just order me a pizza.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

First Trimester: What You Need to Know.

I realize that everyone has different experiences with pregnancy. I also think that once the baby is actually here, people tend to sugarcoat everything that happened pre-baby, because the baby is so great that everything else pales in comparison. I want to blog about it all along the way, not just after. So let's do this.


The first trimester was the worst for me. I've never been so sick. So in all of my 15 weeks of wisdom, here's the best advice I can offer you:

Go to the doctor right away. Do not pass go. Do not wait. Go right away. They don't schedule your first appointment until 8 weeks, so I spent 3 whole weeks vomiting every single thing that I ate right back up, because no over the counter medicine worked for me. It makes me cry to think that I could have gone to the doctor the day after I found out and got a Zofran prescription. So do it. If you're sick, do not wait. 

Don't eat a ton of your favorite foods. I don't know why I thought it would be a good idea to eat my favorite foods when I knew I'd be throwing them right back up. Terrible, terrible idea. Now that I can actually eat, my favorite soups are off limits, as is any meat other than chicken, and, worst of all, all Mexican food. Do yourself a favor and just eat bland foods if you're throwing up a lot, otherwise you might ruin some foods for a long time.

Cut yourself some slack. I'd never been so sick, and I'd also never been so tired. I couldn't do anything, and it made me feel like the biggest slacker. Pregnancy is 40 whole weeks, surely I shouldn't already be out of commission at only 8 weeks. But dude, you're growing a human and it is sucking all of your energy. If you need to go to sleep at 8 to function, do it.

Don't freak yourself out. I wasn't planning a baby, so I immediately felt behind. I know nothing about having a kid or being pregnant! So, of course, I turned to Google. Big mistake. Because who knew that you're supposed to quit caffeine, and that doing ab workouts squish your baby, and eating too much chicken makes your baby hairy, and a thousand other bizarre, confusing statements made online.

And then I go to my first doctor's appointment, and the entire list of instructions from my doctor were as follows: Don't eat raw fish, don't smoke, don't ride a bike, and don't eat lunchmeat.

Well, that was easy. Take that, Google.

Make the best decisions for you. People all over have millions of different of opinions about what you should do or not do. There will always be a $200 stretch mark cream that you need to buy, people who tell you that going vegan is what's best for the baby, people who advocate only organic everything, people who say that you should or shouldn't take certain medicines, people who will tell you that if you choose to vaccinate your kids you're basically signing their death certificate.

Unless any of these people are a doctor, their opinion has no more weight than yours does. So talk to your doctor, of course, but then make the best decision for you. This is your baby, after all.

It gets better. I feel so much better this week than I have in 14 weeks. It is magical. So, just keep going. It gets better.

Here's hoping that the second trimester continues to be so much better than the first!


Monday, July 27, 2015

It's a Monday.


It's a Monday.

Just like any other day, really. A 24 hour window with the potential to be the best day of your life, or to change your life. But it probably won't, because it's a Monday. And we just treat Mondays differently.

We snooze the alarm a few more times than we would on, say, a Wednesday, or a Friday. We put less effort into getting ready, because it's a Monday, and the focus is going to be on doing the least amount of work possible before heading home and collapsing on the couch. We're still mourning the weekend, see.

So we'll try to rush through it and gripe about it when the clock at work seems to be moving so slowly. We'll heave sighs of relief when it's finally time to go home, because Thank God that's over.

The rest of the night will look similar to our day, just at home, and in more comfortable clothes. It's a Monday, after all, and you can't expect too much from those. They're the worst. 

But then one day, a week or a month or a year from now, we'll wonder where all our time has gone. Why it feels like life is flying by, why we never have enough time to finish our to-do lists, when really, we basically throw away an entire day of our week. And is it any wonder we hate Mondays so much when we treat them the way that we do?

It's a Monday.

Another day, another 24 hour window with the potential to be the best, life-changing day of your life. And it might be, because it's the first day of a brand new week.

It's a Monday. What will you do with it?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

15 Weeks: Things I Want to Remember.




  • Not throwing up a single time all week. Is this what I used to feel like all the time?! Magic. 
  • Someone at work asked for my maternity leave dates, which one, made me so thankful that I have a job where I get time off, and two, made me so excited to get to spend six weeks just getting to know this little guy/gal. 
  • Starting to look at baby names. We've been flipping through a baby book and taking turns randomly picking out names, making fun of the outrageous names, and arguing over what a good name is. It's been so much fun. 
  • Reexamining my priorities. This whole thing has made me stop and realize what's actually important in life, and it's made me realize that my life is so good. Sure, there are things I want and things I want to do and places I want to go. Of course there are things I worry about. But I have a partner in all of this who I love more than life, and we've created an entire human (that is just so mind-blowing to think about!) who I know we will love so much. And if your life is filled with love, then it's a good, good life. 
  • This doesn't have anything to do with 15 weeks, but a little note on that picture: That's my best friend Catherine. She came to take pictures of me and Chris (and gatsby, duh) to put in a card to tell my parent. I was so nervous we were going to run into someone we knew, because no one knew about the baby, and we were walking around with chalkboards that said "baby jacobs due January!" Chris kept reassuring there was no way we would, but lo and behold, we ran into one of our best friends. Catherine, being the amazing friend that she is, literally snatched the chalkboards up and took off running down the street like it was nothing. I love her forever, and little is already lucky to have her in his/her life.
15 down, 25(ish) more to go. Little baby J, I can't wait to find out if you're a boy or a girl!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

5 Things You Should Say Goodbye to Immediately for a Happier Life.

We spend a lot of time wondering what we need more of in order to be happier, when sometimes, I think the better question is what do we need less of to be happier?

\

Jealousy. 

I've heard that healthy jealous is good, but really, when has this ever worked out? When you're jealous, you're entirely too focused on someone else--what they have, what they do, who they are--and not nearly focused enough on yourself and what you have and what you do and who you are. Cutting out jealousy leads to cutting out a lot of nasty stuff in life, so it's a great place to start.

Negativity. 

Life is too short to be negative, plain and simple. The world is a beautiful place if you look for beauty, and it's a terrible place if you only look for the negative. This is one of the biggest choices you have in life..you can be a positive person, or you can be a negative person. Personally, I like being around positive people more, don't you?

Comparison. 

Right up there with jealousy, this just never leads anywhere good. When you choose to compare yourself to others, you are cheapening who you really are. You are never going to be exactly like someone else, just like no one else is ever going to be exactly like you. It's a waste of time and energy to spend time seeing how you compare to others, and it leads to being exhausted and bitter, two enemies of happiness.

Clutter. 

I am a messy person. I know this about myself. No matter how much I love when things are clean and tidy, by nature, I am just a messy person. When my house is messy, it stresses me out. You know what leads to messiness? Clutter. You convince yourself you need it and then it takes over your house.

One of the easiest steps to being happy is this: If you don't use or need or love something, say goodbye to it. It's that simple.

The bad kind of tired. 

There are two kinds of tired. There's the kind you are when your day has been filled with fulfilling work or adventure or excitement, and you're tired because you spent your day, and then there's the kind of tired where you're overwhelmed and too much happened and the day just went by you. That's the bad kind of tired.

While it would be nice to fill every day with excitement and laughter and adventures, we do all have to work, I get it. But you can still say goodbye to the bad kind of tired by choosing to spend your day instead of letting it fly by you. If you have to work a job you don't love, don't let it exhaust you. Instead, choose to be the best you can be at it. There's a difference between simply checking things off your to-do list and choosing to be productive and effective. If you pour your heart into your day-to-day, chances are, you'll end the day feeling the good kind of tired.

What else do you recommend saying goodbye to for a happier life? 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

What's Your Dream? And When is it Enough?

What is your dream? 

Really, what is it? If someone asked you to describe your dream life, what would you tell them?

I love talking about dreams. I love dreaming. I love saying to dream big and chase your dreams no matter what.

Lately, with so much transition happening, it's made me think more about this. And I'm wondering if maybe all the focus we put on chasing our dreams leads us to a place of feeling unfulfilled.  Does putting so much pressure on chasing the dream make us more apt to not feeling content when we should?

If you asked me what my dream was, I'd tell you it's to be an author who gets to write books for a living. I'd tell you I want to pay my rent with my words. That I want to get to write book after book and know that people want to read them. To me, that's the dream. 

But alas, that's not happening right now. My job has nothing to do with writing, but it pays my bills. And I still get to write--I have this blog, and of course, I'm always writing, still chasing that dream. Is that enough? For now, I think yes.

Here's the thing: I think it's possible to enjoy life and be happy exactly where you are while still chasing your dream. Does being happy where you are mean you're settling, or that you're giving up on what you want? No, it doesn't.

We're all where we're at in life. And we can--and should--chase our dreams. But don't let that lead you to a place of being ungrateful and restless. Celebrate the areas where you get to have your dream and your life intersect, and keep looking for those areas. But don't let the desire to chase your dream make you throw away the happiness that your life right now could bring you. Because chances are, it's a pretty good life.


So dream on, dreamers. But be happy today, here and now, too.