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Monday, January 23, 2017

Books I Read in January & Whether or Not You Should Read Them.

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert 

Plot: In her early thirties, Elizabeth Gilbert had everything a modern American woman was supposed to want—husband, country home, successful career—but instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she was consumed by panic and confusion. This wise and rapturous book is the story of how she left behind all these outward marks of success, and set out to explore three different aspects of her nature, against the backdrop of three different cultures: pleasure in Italy, devotion in India, and on the Indonesian island of Bali, a balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence. -via Goodreads

Favorite quote: “Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.” 

My thoughts: On paper, this should have been my new favorite book. Everyone raves about it, it's about ignoring traditional success and going after happiness, it's full of travel and good food and yoga, and-the biggest reason of all-it's the woman who wrote Big Magic. If you've been around here for any amount of time, you probably know I am obsessed with Big Magic and feel like it actually changed my life. 

I'll say this: I have never related to an author so much as I did the author of Big Magic. I have never hated an author so much as I did the author of Eat, Pray, Love. The fact they are the same person is very confusing (and frustrating to me). 

I enjoyed reading about the experiences she had, but I couldn't get past the selfishness and self-centeredness of it all. I realize not everyone is meant to be married and have kids. I realize not everyone will only love one (or two, or three) people for their entire lives. But my goodness, you cannot just keep setting people's lives on fire and burning them down while you run away in search of happiness and call it "the right thing." I mean, I guess you can, but it's not a story I want to read.

Should you read it? Honestly, I don't think it lives up to the hype.

The Girls by Emma Cline

Plot: At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence, and to that moment in a girl’s life when everything can go horribly wrong. -via Goodreads

Favorite quote: "All that time I had spent readying myself, the articles that taught me life was really just a waiting room until someone noticed you - the boys had spent that time becoming themselves."

My Thoughts: Ugh. This is complicated. First: I picked this book up thinking it was a completely different book (that I knew nothing about, but was still excited to read) and they had close enough plots that I read a lot of this book before realizing I was not reading what I thought I was reading. So, there's that. I think had I known I was reading about the Manson cult (unofficially) from the beginning, I would have enjoyed it more. 

This author is definitely one to watch. This book was incredibly well-written and gives an eerily accurate portrayal of how a normal 14-year old who's had a good life with no big problems could find themselves willingly pulled into a cult. It was fascinating. It enthralled me, made me uncomfortable, and when I finished it, I kind of wished I hadn't read it because of the sad and empty feeling it left me with...and I think that's exactly what she was going for. Someone please tell me that makes sense to you.

Should you read it? Yes and no. It's fascinating and well-written and sucks you in, but it's also about a young girl in a cult and murders. So I'm gonna leave this one up to you.

The Swimming Pool by Holly LeCraw

This was the book that made me decide that I'm not going to finish books I don't like this year. This book is a mystery that never gets solved. 

You should pass. 

The Playdate by Louise Millar

Plot: In a quiet London suburb, a group of mothers relies on each other for friendship, favors, and gossip. But some of them shouldn’t be trusted, and others have dark secrets. 

When Callie moved into her new neighborhood, she thought it would be easy to fit in. The other parents have been strangely hostile, though, and her frail daughter Rae is finding it impossible to make friends. Suzy, with her rich husband and her three energetic children, has been the only one to reach out, although their friendship has recently felt inexplicably strained. Now the police have suggested that someone dangerous may be living in their neighborhood, and the atmosphere feels even more toxic. Then there’s the matter of Callie’s ex-husband, and the shocking truth behind their divorce . . . a truth that she would do anything to hide. -via Amazon

My Thoughts: This was a light psychological thriller, meaning I read it in a few afternoons by the pool without having to put too much thought into it. It has some really interesting plots, a few not-quite-believable twists, and a satisfying ending. Exactly what I needed after The Swimming Pool.

Should you read it? Yes!

What did you read this month?
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Friday, January 20, 2017

3 Things You Need to Know About.

Heads up: Some of these links are affiliate links, meaning if you click on them, I may make a small commission at no cost to you. You can read my full disclosure here.

cheap heart sunglasses

1. These mirrored heart sunglasses. Sometimes I think I have become a grown up. I shop at Banana Republic, I stick to a budget, I take a multivitamin, I wake up early to work out and check emails. Adult stuff. And then sometimes I wear mirrored heart sunglasses and realize, nope. I'm all about things that make you happy, and wanna know what makes me happy? Wearing these babies by the pool. Bonus: They're $12. So when you drop them/scratch them/your kid yanks them off your face and breaks them (just me?), you won't feel sick over it. Literal heart eyes.

2. These black & rose gold NikesThese were a Christmas gift from Chris and they're my favorite tennis shoe, if not just favorite shoe in general, that I've ever owned. They go with everything (hello, black) but the Nike check (is that what it's called?) is the prettiest rose gold and makes them way better than a plain black shoe. I'm probably not the only one who, on more than one occasion, would have really loved to wear tennis shoes for comfort's sake, but I didn't want to ruin a cute outfit with colorful running shoes that just didn't fit. Enter these. I have no idea how I didn't have black Nikes before this, because I really wear them almost every day.

As far as they hold up for running, I have no answer for you. Check back in 2018. Maybe I'll have gone for a run by then (but also probably not).

3. Sweet potatoes and buffalo sauce. This sounded disgusting to me. But last week I made shredded buffalo chicken (cook chicken breasts+buffalo sauce in the crockpot, then shred and eat all week long), and I put it over a sweet potato. It. Was. Amazing. Anything that is that easy and tastes that good and I can call healthy is a win for me.

Here's hoping you find those three little bits of information as exciting as I did. Now you tell me: What do I need to know about?

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Thursday, January 19, 2017

I Want to Remember 2017: Part One.

When I was pregnant, I did weekly posts about things I never want to forget. Little details that seemed mundane, but that I wanted to remember. Being pregnant was very difficult for me physically,  and it was very easy to get overwhelmed with how much that made everything suck. But having those weekly posts about the good things helped me focus on the good, and now when I look back, I have all of these good memories.

I want to treat 2017 like that. Life is a special occasion and the little, mundane moments are worth remembering.

I kicked off the new year with a trip to the library, where Jack protested the whole "quiet" rule. It's the first time I've left with a bunch of books I know next to nothing about, which has actually been kind of fun! 

I've started walking Jack over to the pool almost every day. Sometimes early in the morning, sometimes when it's time for him to nap, sometimes when the sun is setting. He loves to be outside and look at the water, and we both benefit from the fresh air. 

Speaking of the pool: This picture was taken on a Saturday. An 80 degree and sunny Saturday and it was completely empty. Hardly anyone uses our neighborhood pool, so when we go, we have the whole thing to ourselves 95 percent of the time, which is so nice.

We had a little burst of cool weather and took advantage of it by spending the day walking around and making our babies take pictures in front of all the cool walls, as any good mom would do.

Chris got home early one day (DOES NOT HAPPEN!) which meant we could make it to an actual happy hour, which meant we ate this giant pretzel for dinner. It was so delicious and I can't stop thinking about it. 

It got cold enough to need sweaters and hats! A rarity for Florida. 

Life is full of little things worth celebrating-tell me yours about 2017 so far! 

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

8 Things to Say No to This Year.

1. Attributing motive to someone else's actions. I am so bad at this. I am constantly assuming other people's motives. When a friend doesn't respond to my texts for a few days, I assume she now hates me and we'll never hang out again and that's why she's not responding. When I don't get a lot of work emails I assume I'm getting fired and that's why they're pulling back. When I meet someone new and they immediately take a phone call, I assume it was fake and they just didn't want to talk to me. And on, and on, and on. 

Ascribing motive to someone else just makes you crazy. Just assume the best and move on.

2. Clutter. There's a reason you feel fresh and peaceful when you're in a clean space and stressed and overwhelmed when you're in a cluttered space. If you don't use it, give it away. It'll only stress you out taking up room in that extra closet. 

3. Viewing something you enjoy as wasting time. If you are enjoying the time, the time is not wasted. Watch that TV show, sit by the pool, read your book, enjoy your life.

4. Eating like crap just because it's convenient. Take care of yourself. You are worth the effort it takes to eat healthier. 

5. Valuing other's opinions about you more than your own. Should you listen to what those who love you have to say? Absolutely. Should you try to learn from outside criticism? Yes. Should you take what other people say about you to be the one and only truth? No. Considering you are the one who actually lives your life, your opinion should be of the highest value. 

6. Being solely future-minded. When you're constantly thinking about what comes next, you miss all the good that's happening now. Simple as that. 

7.  Doing things because you feel like you have to. Within reason. You should probably still do your laundry. And pay your mortgage. But volunteering, or staying late at work when you don't have to, or going to every happy hour you're invited to...nope. Not this year. 

8. Answering compliments with negativity. Why is it that when someone compliments you, it's a first instinct to talk yourself down? You look so pretty gets answered with Thanks, but my hair's a mess today. I can tell you've been working out gets answered with Yeah, but I've still got a long way to go. Being complimented on a job well done gets answered with what could have been better. 

Stop. Doing. This. "Thank you" works as a full sentence. 

What are you saying "no" to this year?
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Monday, January 16, 2017

Honestly, This is All of Us When We Eat Cake.

Over the weekend, my sweet little buddy turned one. ONE. It blows my mind that 365 short days can turn this: 
into this: 
C R A Z Y  T O W N.
Anyway, we celebrated in the only way that anyone can ever hope to celebrate their birthday, meaning that he ate Chick-Fil-A while wearing a crown. Coincidentally, I know now how I wish to celebrate my next birthday. 

I waited too long to order a birthday crown off of Etsy but lucked out and found this one (affiliate link) on Amazon. It was $7 and I was a little worried but it got here in 2 days and looked adorable. 

He got his first kid's meal and loved it (duh). But most importantly, he had cake for the first time.

Now, while I expected him having cake for the first time to be exciting for me, I expected it to go one of two ways: 1) Him not care one single bit, or 2) Him freak the heckkkkkk out. The second is probably because when my little brother turned one, he stuck his hand in his blue icing and screamed bloody murder when he saw that his hand had suspiciously turned blue.

What I did not expect, however, was for him to freaking love it. 

PS: Let us not discuss the appearance of the actual cake, or the fact that when I put icing on it, it literally melted the cake. Moving on.

We started off with this: 

And then moved on to this: 
And then this: 
And then ended up here:
And if we're being honest, isn't that face kind of all of us when we're eating cake? Or brunch. Or pizza. 
Happy Monday, friends. I hope your day is wonderful and includes something that makes you as happy as cake makes Jack. 
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Friday, January 13, 2017

Letters to Jack: One Year.


Tomorrow you turn one. A whole year. 365 days I have known you. 365 days you have been in my life, changing me for the better, stretching me into a new person. 365 days I have loved you. 365 days I have been a mama. 

I had a long, long list of fears before you were born. Deep fears: That I wasn't adequate enough to be a good mom for you, that I wouldn't know what to do, that I was somehow behind because I hadn't spent years planning your arrival. And shallow fears, too: That I wouldn't be able to have a life anymore, that we wouldn't get to do fun things anymore, that Chris and I wouldn't really love being parents. 

Not a single one of those fears came true, deep or shallow. 

You are the best, best thing in the whole world. Our daily walks and trips to the pool and park dates where you belly laugh when pushed in the swings are treasures I never knew I was hunting for. 

You took your first steps on Wednesday...three shaky little steps before falling, and I caught you. You did it again, falling harder, and I caught you again. After a while, you realized you could be brave and keep trying and fall even harder because I was right there to catch you. 

I know you can't understand everything just yet, but I hope you understand this: That you are loved beyond explanation, and that I will always, always be there to catch you. 

Happy birthday, my little love. It will be the greatest privilege of my life to get to do this seventeen more times with you. 

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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Fifty-Two Weeks With Jack: Allll of The Pictures.

Somehow, we have arrived at the end of my #weekswithjack picture project. Fifty-two weeks later and my first little love is now a GROWN ADULT (No, YOU'RE being dramatic). 

Week forty-five: 
you love being outside in the sunshine // I don't know why I think this is so funny, but it makes me laugh whenever I see it // VERY unsure about the whole teeth brushing thing // the happiest babe there ever was. 

Week forty-six:
your first thanksgiving! // caught you trying to sneak a peek at your Christmas present // aaaand had to start child-proofing the next day // you loved decorating for Christmas

Week forty-seven:
I love our park dates // you're happy anywhere with a swing // your first time at Universal for Christmas was a success // your first time meeting the Grinch, however, was not such a hit haha

Week forty-eight:
we learned the hard way about wrapping presents unwrapped them and ate the paper // and when you moved on from that, you took all the baby wipes out and tried to eat those, too // we took you to look at Christmas lights and your face lit up with such awe that it made me cry // you're so happy to wake up every single morning

if we give you a warm blanket, you'll put yourself right to sleep // just a little Santa in the sink // love our little fam // you did NOT love Santa. 

Week Fifty:
we started a new tradition of going to the park before we kick off Christmas // and stopping at chick-fil-a on the way to visit family // you got to see what it was like to experience Christmas as the only grandchild // and then we had the most perfect Christmas, just the three of us, and you got your new favorite ride. 

Week fifty-one:
we don't get cold weather often, but you love it when we do // this is your new favorite blanket, and when you're tired you just take your bottle and crawl right over to it and go to sleep // practicing your four-wheeling skills // you have enough teeth (and are hungry enough) that we have to buy an extra order of chicken nuggets for're pretty happy about it

Week fifty-two:
baby date! // just a little stud lounging by the pool // you do SO great in the nursery...this is how I found you when I went to pick you up on Sunday // we take walks almost every day, and you're so content to just sit by the pool and drink your bottle. 

I don't know who has changed more in these fifty-two weeks...Jack or me. But I know they've been the best, they've been a privilege, and I will cherish them for the rest of my life. 

Bring on toddlerhood...I'm (nowhere near) ready for you! 

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