Friday Favorites

I have a lot of updates I could talk about, but it's Friday and that is a fabulous day, so I'm going to share some favorites.

... Shirt
I don't usually buy any clothes full price if I can avoid it, but I accidentally wandered out of the clearance baby clothes section at Target, and I had to get this shirt. It also has a cute tulip cut back - I'm so excited for Ellie to wear it. We found some cute tees on clearance for her - I stalk the baby section every week to see what's new.

... Hair Product
Renpure Cleansing Conditioner - I heard about this conditioner which both cleans and conditions your hair, so you don't have to use shampoo with it. So far, so good. I have oily-prone hair, and it has been soft and not oily since starting to use this every other day. I've still been using regular shampoo and conditioner about once a week, just so I get a shampoo in but it may be fine without it.
... Food
A magical mom friend online sent me a box of cookies! There was a story that involved Greg eating all the cookies and me complaining (I get hangry without dessert), so she sent me lots of cookies. I am thinking the stroopwafels look especially delicious.

... Baby book
Ellie has taken a big interest in this 100 First Words book. She's started pointing at the different pictures, and I like to read it with her.

... Project
Greg built Ellie a dollhouse bookcase! He's really amazing at woodworking, and we'd seen these style bookcases on Pinterest, so he found some plans and we changed the sizes to work for what we wanted. It took a few weekends and now she has a custom bookcase! He did 99% of the work - I just made the plan on Photoshop and helped him paint a few parts.

Have you tried any stroopwafels? What books should I put on my baby book wishlist? Hope you have a fantastic Friday and weekend.

What I've Been Reading

I really love Show Us Your Books time. It's the one of the only times I post, recently! I'll check back in with regular stuff sometime - long story short, Ellie started daycare this week (help us all, I am so worried!) and Greg is starting work next week. We have lots of changes happening and we are going to have to settle into an all new routine. She also recently turned 10 months old - holy moly, almost a year.


I read some great books this month, which all happen to be part of my choices for Erin's book challenge.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas - 4.5 stars

Loved this book. I liked that the author was able to present so many different viewpoints but with no doubt about how she felt. The main plot point happens early on and the rest is about the events that happen afterward. I think that the author said things well and it was heartfelt.

Beartown by Fredrik Backman - 4.5 stars

This was my first book by Fredrik Backman and I loved it. It's about a small hockey town and the people who live in it. I loved the characters, especially Benji and Peter. I pictured Peter as Peter from Parenthood, another character I love. Side note, I enjoy watching hockey in person but have no particular passion for hockey and the hockey bits were not so important in the story.

Watership Down by Richard Adams - 5 stars

I'm not sure how to describe this one because it's always been a favorite of mine. I love that the rabbits are so rabbit-like but also have human characteristics. I like the slight mystical element and the language invented for their kind. There is a new movie being made for Netflix that I am excited about, starring James McAvoy , John Boyega, Nicholas Hoult, and other fabulous people. I don't remember seeing the older film but it's known for being quite violent, which I did not find the book to be. It seemed more an adventure book with sweet characters to me.

Currently Reading:

I highly recommend all of the books this month. I'm linking up with Steph and Jana for Show Us Your Books.

What I've Been Reading

My book list is much shorter this month - I didn't read as crazy many books as I have been because I started work a few weeks ago. I picked my books for my book challenge by Erin, and have started reading one of them so far. I'm excited for all of the books on the list and have also read a few good books, lately.



The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti - 4 stars

I loved the flashbacks to Samuel Hawley's life leading us up to his current life with his daughter. I almost wished the whole book had been about that, but I understand why both view points were there. I raced through those parts and slowed down during his daughter's story.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell - 4 stars

Rainbow Rowell is an author I've had my ups and downs with. I loved Attachments but didn't enjoy Fangirl nearly as much. This one was right under Attachments for me. It took some time to grow on me, but the characters were endearing, especially Eleanor. I was expecting a fluffier story - I'm glad it actually had a little harder edge.

Boston Girl by Anita Diamant - 3.5 stars

This story was easy and enjoyable although it meandered a bit. I'm not sure I will pick up other books by this author because it didn't leave a strong lasting impression. I enjoyed the school bits in the beginning because I love a school setting and after that it wandered.


Currently Reading:

Have you read any of these books? I'm linking up with Steph and Jana today for Show Us Your Books. I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone else has been reading. If you haven't done so already, you can always find me on Goodreads here.

Currently... July

I haven't checked in here all that often - I've been doing my best and keeping up with books, if nothing else! Every day I think it will be less crazy when Ellie hits whatever milestone, but every day remains crazy. Things are awesome and I wanted to update; I haven't been purposely hiding but sometimes during any downtime I get, I want to zone out and read or play on my phone.

I am constantly reading posts from my birth group on Facebook, because it's easy to pick up my phone every now and then rather than settle down for a long time. I highly recommend finding one if you have a baby - I ask a ton of dumb questions I don't feel bad for asking because we are all in the same place, as far as baby age goes. I found my group via Reddit.

I'm still pumping 2x a day, which is way less than I was before - I am ready to kick the breast pump out of the house. It's a gradual process, though. Can't wait to be done with it! Ellie has already weaned from nursing, on her own through teething and she does better with bottles. Finding time to pump with a baby who is constantly crawling around is not easy.

Life update-wise, we have been living with my mom in SC for a while and it's helped us out a ton after moving from Delaware. Ellie has so much more space and it gives us time to find our own place.

Ellie turns 9 months old tomorrow! She's getting so tall; we think she might be around 28 inches from our measurements but we will find out at her doc appointment tomorrow.


We have been job searching for a while, and I found a job a few weeks ago and Greg recently also found a job, which he will start next month. Moving to a new state and job searching is no fun so I couldn't wait to be done with it. My job is literally a mile or two away, which is fantastic. I feel like I'm living in Mayberry, sometimes, but it's a good thing. We are in a really small town and we are getting used to everything being 20-30 minutes away in SC. My hours also give me Friday's off, which is perfect to have some flexibility and extra time with Ellie.

The pics above are my desktop background at work - I love having her face smiling at me.

We played twinsies the other day and we put my shirt on her. Then she came at me like a baby velociraptor.

We took her out for her first storytime yesterday and she did great. She was totally wary of everyone the first 20 minutes but crawled out and explored for the last 10 minutes.

She was still pretty "WTF" about the whole thing.

She makes this squinchy face and breathes through her nose loudly ALL the time. It's her favorite expression. Also, look at all those teeth! She has six, now.

I'm pretty sure she'll be standing on her own soon. She can do it for stretches of a few seconds right now and she can stand up holding onto something with no problem.

Greg's also being an awesome SAHD right now, until he starts work and Ellie starts daycare next month. I'm reallllly nervous about it because she's wary of strangers and generally doesn't like being around a lot of people, but hopefully she will adjust.

Today, Greg and I went out to Chipotle while my mom watched her for the first time since we moved here. Ellie did great! She didn't want to eat much but I think she'll get used to being watched by my mom.

This picture cracks me up.. she's got such a goofy, happy grin in it.

That turned out to be mostly baby updates but that's what my life is right now. We take her out shopping with us, she eats out with us sometimes and sits in a high chair and is generally pretty cool about things besides wanting to wake up at 5 am every single morning and not quite sleeping through the night.

Work is good so far - I wish I had full time hours sometimes for the pay but not really because I'm home more with Ellie, and Greg is going to be working long shifts, so a few less hours will stress me out less with me taking care of her a large portion of the time.

It's buckets of hot outside every day and wickedly humid. Welcome back to the South, I guess! I know lots of you are in the South, as well, so you already know what the summers are like.

Hope you're having a great summer and staying as cool as possible!

Book Challenge by Erin 7.0

I've been wanting to join Erin's book challenge for a while, and am really excited to catch it this time. I love this challenge because it makes me pick some books that are not my usual genre. I have less time to read now that I'm back at work, but the challenge is pretty relaxed and I'm going to do my best. 


Rules:

·     First and foremost, have fun. Don't stress. No one is being judged, graded, or penalized. Even if you finish only one book the entire challenge, if you enjoy it and it's an accomplishment for you, then that's awesome.


·     The challenge will run from JULY 1, 2017 to OCTOBER 31, 2017. No books that are started before 12 a.m. on July 1 or finished after 11:59 p.m. on October 31 will count.  (We live in different time zones – follow this according to your own time zone.)


·     Each book must be at least 200 pages long.   Audio books are fine too.


·     A book can only be used for one category, and each category can only be completed once. If you want to switch the category of a book, or change the book you originally chose, no worries. 

·      You can read your books in any order you choose.

·      Rereads can be used only once.  If a book you love fits into a category, go ahead and visit it again. Read it in its entirety.  But, only do this once for the challenge.

·     There will be a photo album for each category with links to books chosen.  Please comment on the photo for each of your books when you finish reading them.  A comment can include a review, a rating, a recommendation…other readers want to hear what you thought of your choice.  (if you need help with this, let me know…or there is a file attached to our group explaining what to do.)

·     There will be 10 book categories with a possibility of earning 200 points.   That’s 10 books in four months.  For some of you, this will be a BIG challenge; for others it will be easy peasy.  It’s all for fun, remember!

·      Book categories will be posted June 1st to give you time to gather books in preparation. 

·     After the categories are posted, please post a preliminary list with books of your choice according to their categories on the facebook group page by June 15th (if possible).  If you need help with a particular category or want a book suggestion, we as a community of reading enthusiasts can help each other.  (Late entries will still be accepted.)

·     The first three people who finish the challenge will be invited to contribute a category for the next challenge. The following will get a small prize from me (1st to complete 1st round; 1st to complete both rounds; most points accumulated; and WILD CARD random draw – all who finish the 10 book challenge will qualify as an entry)!  Plus, everyone who completes the challenge will gets all sorts of recognition and support!

·    Lastly, have fun.  Don't stress. No one is being judged, graded, or penalized. Even if you finish only one book the entire challenge, if you enjoy it and it's an accomplishment for you, then that's awesome.  Wait, I’ve read that somewhere before…Good luck!

My picks:

· 5 points: Freebie – Read a book that is at least 200 pages
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
I've heard so many good things about this one and can't wait to read it.

· 10 points: Read a book that starts with the letter “B”
Beartown by Fredrik Backman
Same here - I've heard lots of good things and I am excited to get into it. I haven't read anything from this author before and have several of his books on my TBR list.

· 10 points: Read a book that has a (mostly) yellow cover
Slade House by David Mitchell
I haven't read a ghost story in a long time so this is unusual for me. I'm excited/scared.

· 15 points: Read a book that has a picture of an animal on the cover
To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey
I admit half the reason I want to read this one is because the author has an amazing name, but the story sounds fascinating, as well.

· 20 points: Read a book that was published in 2017
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
I love books with a little bit of fairy tale and mythology in them.

· 20 points: Read a book with a compass or cardinal direction in the title
East by Edith Pattou
This sounds very similar to Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow, which I really enjoyed. I guess I love stories about anthropomorphic polar bears.

· 25 points: The ALA’s “Banned Books Week” occurs while our challenge is happening. Read a book from this list of the most commonly banned books in America: https://en.wikipedia.org/…/List_of_most_commonly_challenged…
Fight Club by Chuck Palahnuik
I've never read a Chuck Palahnuik book so this will be different for me. I'm a fan of the movie, but not sure if I'll like Palahnuik's writing.

· 30 points: Read a fictional book about mental illness
The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
I loved this movie and I hope I love the book as much or more.

· 30 points: Read a book with a non-human main character; i.e. animals, elves, gods, robots, merpeople, etc..
Watership Down by Richard Adams
I read this when I was a teenager and it was one of my favorite books. It's a reread for me but it's been so long, I barely remember what happens.

· 35 points: Read a book a Disney movie was based on OR a book based on a Disney movie
As Old as Time by Liz Braswell
I wanted to reread Cinder since I wasn't a huge fan for the first time and thought I'd give it another try, but I'm already doing one reread for the challenge, so I'm trying something new. It was hard to find a Disney-related book over 200 pages. I love Beauty and the Beast, which is why this ended up being my pick. Let's see how it goes.

I'm excited for this challenge and need to start gathering my books once we're closer to July. Are you thinking of joining Erin's challenge?

What I've Been Reading

I have been in a reading hiatus for a week or two because some weeks I just want to watch Big Little Lies, Westworld, AND American Gods. I'm caught up on all of them. Those are the only shows I've watched, lately. Also, I just started a new job this week, so bye bye TV time. I did a lot of reading before my reading break.



Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris - 3.5 stars

This was a decent thriller featuring a fairly messed up character. I liked it, although sometimes I get tired of crazy husbands/stalkers/male characters. I think I've read enough 'woman must get away from bad guy' books for now and need a break 'cause it makes me want to berate everyone in the book.

Mean Streak by Sandra Brown - 3.5 stars

I have never read a book by Sandra Brown and I was surprised by how much romance there was right in the middle of the mystery. I did enjoy it and it was a good mystery/thriller.

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys - 4 stars

I liked the format of this book; it skipped between characters but you never got too far into one character that you felt tugged away from them when it switched to another, and they were bound together in the same scenario. There was one character which obviously I did not enjoy reading as much - if you've read it, you'll know which one.

I had never read about this tragedy before and it's shocking. The author did a good job describing it in a fictional story. It made me feel upset and horrified and it's an indescribably sad event. The characters were very easy to want to follow along with and I was hoping the whole way that things would somehow go well for them. I will not spoil whether they did or not.

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskins - 2 stars

I'd always wanted to read this and thought I would like it, but it wasn't for me. There were red herrings and lots of characters. I couldn't keep up with who was who and didn't get attached to any of them. I used to love Agatha Christie when I was in school but this style of mystery didn't grab me.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente - 4 stars

This was a fun traipse around Fairyland. Every part was imaginative, and the ending was perfect. It was a little slow for me in the beginning, but I got into it in the second half and the ending sealed it. There's another book or two after this I would not mind checking out.

Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah - 4 stars

I didn't know much about Trevor Noah going into this (apart from that he hosts The Daily Show), and it was a fascinating read for me. There are lots of stories about apartheid, his mother, and growing up - almost nothing about his career, and the stories are entertaining and heartbreaking. I recommend it even if you don't know much about him, yet.

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon - 4 stars

This was an easy read - it read a little like a YA Me Before You style book, but I enjoyed it more. I'm not sure if I felt that one part of it was totally necessary - I can accept it since it wasn't really a heavy read before getting to that part, which made it a little more twisty. The drawings and things in between were cute, although a little distracting. Overall, it didn't make me feel all fangirly over it, which is okay, because I'm not exactly the target audience.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin - 4 stars

A book for book lovers - reminds me of everything I love about reading. It also has a great story and sweet characters and was easy to pick up even when I was sort of in a book funk.
Currently reading:

I'm linking up with Steph and Jana today for Show Us Your Books. You can find me right here on Goodreads.

Currently... May


Eating:
This pizza we Frankenstein'd together using a Minimalist Baker recipe. We used her vegan pesto breadsticks recipe with Publix pizza dough and actual parmesan because we were out of nutritional yeast, and we added some crumbled tofu with olive oil and seasonings on top. I think I could eat this pizza every day of the week.

Reading:
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. I don't watch the Daily Show regularly, but he is smart and funny and the book is about his childhood growing up in South Africa during apartheid. It is disturbing reading about apartheid, but it's also from his childhood memories and he has some great stories.


Also, if you haven't added me on Goodreads yet, please do so I can stalk you. I am in a Goodreads stalking mood.

Wearing:
Just kidding. I don't buy clothes anymore. I bought myself some Old Navy shorts and those are on rotation all summer. I bought Ellie some leg warmers from Amazon so that she can crawl around without getting carpet burn. I like them because they are big enough that she should be able to wear them for a long time and snug enough on her legs not to fall off.

That is also a TARDIS cloth diaper we got from The Fluffy Penguin Company since I am trying to get back on track with cloth diapering part time. The cuter they are, the more likely I am to continue using them. Same rule applies to gym clothes.

Watching:
I still don't watch TV much, but we started Game of Thrones from the beginning last night, so I hope we can continue that. I forgot almost everything that happened in the first episode. It is extremely sad seeing the Starks so happy before all the shit went down.

Tyrion remains my favorite character.

Hope you're all having a fabulous weekend! We are filling ours with Chick-Fil-A and hopefully a bookstore visit, because I can never get enough books even though I am backed up with my library holds.

Penelope: 7 Months

Happy Mother's Day! I haven't updated a ton because literally almost all I take are baby photos. And her nap time is usually chill and read time. It's been a while since I've done a baby update, so why not? She's SEVEN. MONTHS. OLD. She's going to be 18 and I'm going to be wondering how it happened so quickly. Hopefully not. There are lots of years in between. Babies grow ridiculously fast, though.

First of all, here is her looking extremely unimpressed at Chick Fil A. That wine list is not up to par. She sits in high chairs now. She also whacked herself in the eye with my salad lid after this and promptly had to be carried out of the restaurant, but she was okay soon after.

She's growing into a toddler - AAAHHH! That sums up my thoughts on it.

Even further back.. this week, two days old, and me 40 weeks pregnant. She used to be so tiny!

Okay, all recent pics now. She is wiggling all around this week and almost crawling. She gets everywhere somehow without actually crawling. It has something to do with her rolling around like a turtle.

We fell off the cloth diaper wagon but I'm trying to get back on and we are doing them part-time. We're trying pockets and I just got in a Harry Potter one and a Doctor Who one, yesss. Here's her rainbow butt.

We call this chillin and Black Books. We watch a little Netflix every now and then. Mommy needs entertainment.

Family portrait. Also, I found her H&M dress at Once Upon a Child and was really excited.

She passed out on the way back from Target and I could not stop laughing at her. She was too adorable.

After bathtime is naked butt time and pile things on baby time.

She loves looking in the mirror and at our phone cameras. We bring her up to the door mirror after every nap to put her in a good mood.

Hope you have a fantastic Mother's Day and weekend!

What I've Been Reading

I have been enjoying some other life stuff instead of blogging, but I started writing my book post early because priorities, you know. Apparently, what I've been enjoying besides blogging is reading lots and lots of books.


Here is what I read last month in no order other than when I read them.

Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit - 3 stars

This is a collection of essays focusing on feminism and I really wanted to like it more than I did - it was actually kind of depressing. The stats mentioned in one of the early articles really hit me hard. It carries a punch, and it's not lighthearted at all like I thought it would be going into it. The essays are also written in a very essay-like format - not colloquial writing.

I don't NOT recommend it but if you want to get into some information about women's rights around the world, it's a hard but good read. I still think about some of the things I read in it.

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch - 5 billion stars

5 billion stars is definitely an exaggeration but I loved this book that much. Blake Crouch is becoming one of my favorite authors. Science + thriller was basically crack to me - I couldn't put it down. I had read some reviews that mentioned the science bits were hard to get through but I found the whole thing fascinating. I did have trouble with that in The Martian, but it wasn't a problem here. I also love the endings of his books.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty - 5 stars

I kept putting off reading this book, because I thought The Husband's Secret was just okay. I am so glad I finally read it because it was a completely different read for me. Also, I've said before, but Erin sent me this in an awesome package all the way from Australia, and I hope I can pass it on to another reader sometime.

I started off the book thinking that I didn't care about the drama surrounding a kindergarten class, but somewhere along the way, I got immersed in the characters' lives, and they were each fascinating. I think the characters were way more likable and intriguing here than in The Husband's Secret, and I will give her other books a chance. I haven't seen the TV show but I couldn't help but imagine some of the characters as their counterparts on the show.

Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson - 3.5 stars

I enjoyed parts of this book, and other parts I felt were repetitive. Also, there were many chapters told from a creepy perspective, similar to You, so if you're into that you may like it. I wasn't a huge fan of You for similar reasons - I find it creepy but not more interesting to read from the stalker/lurker's viewpoint.


You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero - 3 stars

There were lots of good ideas in this book, and others that had me thinking, "Whaaaaaaaatt." There was too much universal energy talk for me, but it did have some good points.


Perfect Little Town by Blake Crouch - 3.5 stars

I read this in about a day. It's a quick read and is very reminiscent of the Pines trilogy. If you like horror novellas, you would probably like this one.


The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson - 3.5 stars

Clearly, I am not meant to be reading a lot of self help guru style books, because I have not been incredibly amazed by any, yet. BUT this was more straightforward and had zero fluffy energy stuff. My number one read for self-help-but-not-really-self-help has been Year of Yes - still my favorite so I hold it way above all others, even though it's not even self help. It's more biography, but I still compare all others to it.

I enjoyed the personal story parts of this, and felt like skipping through the relationship advice since I didn't really relate to the problems he had. I'm not convinced on reading any more self help since it's not my favorite genre, but he did have a ton of great points.


I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh - 3 stars

The first half of this book was slow-paced, and then it picked up. I felt a bit frustrated with the characters, although I know all of this could happen in real life. I think I had different expectations going into it, and I ended up being distracted by my frustration with the characters, so it was hard for me to get into the twists. I sometimes wanted to intervene and tell a character to get their butt in gear and do something else, but obviously I can't control the story and things like this do happen in real life (minus the twists) so I feel a bit conflicted.


The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers - 4 stars

There were many elements in this story that reminded me of Firefly and Doctor Who, and it was kind of a combination of both but also created its own identity - there was nothing repetitive about it. It was not fast paced at all but the worlds were so intricate and the characters so loving that it was a fascinating read.

Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton - 4 stars

Funny comics about history. A few I didn't get because I don't know history well, lots made me laugh out loud. I highly recommend if you like making fun of history.


Currently reading:

I'm linking up with Steph & Jana today for Show Us Your Books. Have you read any of these? If you're going to read any this month, I recommend Dark Matter and Big Little Lies.