That’s a wrap {April}.

 

Links to Love:

  1. I’m a birth devotee per this childbirth quiz.  I knew my love of birth stories would pay off big someday.
  2. This is inspiring. The first woman to run the Boston Marathon ran it again this year at age 70.
  3. Continuing with women in sports….  The kicker is my favorite on any football team.  {Unless it’s the Seattle Seahawks because I heart Russell Wilson.  But that’s another story.}  I loved this article about a high school senior making history when she received a scholarship to play football (position:  kicker) at a Division 1 school.
  4. This Heineken commercial is awesome.

Making Memories:

  1. April 7th marked the 7th anniversary of mine and Kevin’s first date!  We celebrated by going back to Jasmine, the Thai restaurant we went to on 4/7/2010.  I just love the life we have built together and I am so, so grateful for him.  Here’s the first date story if you’re interested.
  2. After our pre-Easter Saturday plans didn’t work out (see Challenges below), we capitalized on the open Saturday afternoon to go down to Honda and Kevin traded in his truck for a Pilot!  He loves it so much and it just fits our current stage of life so much better.  There was no way two carseats were going to fit in the Tacoma (we tried and he couldn’t even get his legs in the truck because the seat was so far forward) and he traded it in at a point that really maximized its trade in value.
  3. We had a few playdates with a few friends through the month.  It’s always fun to see our friends being parents.  We’re surrounded by such good people!
  4. I had a couple of Junior League workshifts to attend in April.  Nothing liking waiting until the last minute to fulfill those obligations.

Bookish:

  1. I’m still currently reading Team of Rivals and Sense and Sensibility.  These monthly updates make me feel like it takes forever to read some of these longer books, and maybe it does.  But I really am making progress on each!  I recently started re-reading the fourth Harry Potter as well.
  2. The only book I finished in April was The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines.  I listened to this one on Audible and I really enjoyed it!  It’s narrated by the couple which was very appealing.  I rated it four stars.
  3. Kevin finished The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 in April and rated it five stars.  He said it was really, really well researched and written.  Now he’s reading American Lion, which is about Andrew Jackson.
  4. We still have a lot to listen to in David Sedaris’ Me Talk Pretty One Day, but it’s really funny thus far.
  5. Ava’s favorite book is currently Ten Wriggly Wiggly Caterpillars.

Challenges:

  1. On the Saturday before Easter we loaded up into the car, started our David Sedaris book playing on Audible, and headed north to join my family Easter celebration for the day.  About 30 minutes into our three hour drive, Ava started fussing, which is pretty uncommon for her when she’s in the car seat.  I sat up, craned my neck, and looked down to check on her – just in time to see puke flowing out of her little mouth.  Ugh.  So much puke.  Her breakfast was…colorful coming back up.  And it didn’t smell too great.  Kevin pulled over and we cleaned up our poor baby as best we could.  We put her in the one change of clothes we carry in the diaper bag.  She was crying hysterically and we were all in agreement that the best course of action was to turn around and head straight home.  While it was sad to miss out on the family time, I’m glad we did what we did, because it would have been a miserable day if we’d kept on with the drive.  We still don’t know what was wrong.  Maybe her breakfast didn’t sit right?  Maybe she got car sick (she’s fine on swings and slides and has never shown an issue with being in the car before, so I’m really hoping she isn’t becoming prone to motion sickness)?  She seemed fine the rest of the day!  Especially after a nice bath.
  2. While I cannot complain about how this pregnancy is going because I’ve had it pretty easy, I did have one bout of pregnancy symptom – er – challenges in April.  I’ll just leave it at that and say I’m glad it seems to have passed and I’m going to very diligent about eating well and taking care of myself from this point forward.
  3. We’re starting to really plan out our master bath renovation and finding the stuff and making it all fit together has been a bit of a challenge.  I think we know what we want to accomplish, but gosh, there are a lot of pieces that need to come together to make it happen.  Our plan was to have the work done in May, but we’ll see if we need to push it to June.
  4. The weather was warm and we thought winter was behind us so we called our regular HVAC guy to come turn off the furnaces and turn on the swamp coolers.  Then a week later the temperatures dropped and it got down into the thirties overnight!  Sooooo cold.  Ava refuses to sleep with a blanket on her so I worried all night that she was going to get too cold.  Fortunately I think we all survived fine and the temps are rising again.  Hopefully we’re in the clear.

Sustenance:

  1. These slow cooker beef gyros were really, really good.  Possibly one of the best slow cooker meals we’ve ever had.  I set up a bowl of chopped tomatoes, some feta cheese, sautéed onions (because I forgot to add the onions to the slow cooker with the beef stew meat – oops, but it worked out fine and dare I say, the sautéed onions may have been better than crock pot onions?), the beef, and the tzaitki sauce on the table, heated up a couple of pieces of pita bread, and we built our own gyros.  They were excellent – I highly recommend this recipe.  We made it twice in April and the second time wasn’t quite as good – I think I let the meat cook for too long in the slow cooker.
  2. Umm, I think that’s the only new recipe we tried in April….  We stuck to regular favorites.
  3. I’ve been very into sushi recently and while I can’t have some of my regular favorite rolls because they have raw fish, an avocado roll and California roll will do in a pinch.  Something about the texture is just so appealing to me recently.
  4. I’ve also become obsessed with the Duke City Ruben sandwich served at Bocadillo’s (it was on Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives once and the owner was on Chopped!  Spoiler alert:  she won!).  I think I ate that sandwich three times in April.

How was your April?

That’s a wrap {March}.

 

Links to Love:

  1. This Bachelor/ette parody – this season, on The Babysitter. 
  2. The best country in the world….
  3. I believe very strongly in the Oxford comma, so I loved this.

Making Memories:

  1. I got to see a couple of friends who live out of state in March.  First, my friend Amy who I went to college with, was in town for a couple of days.  She and I went to China together a decade ago (can’t believe it has been so long!), and she currently lives in Oklahoma.  She was on a whirlwind tour of New Mexico to see family (and me) during her spring break.  It was so nice to catch up and see her travel companions too (her girlfriend and mom).  My friend Derek (my theatre buddy – we would always go to shows together when he lived here) was in town at the end of the month and we did lunch and then a Norwex party (he’s a consultant) the following day.  He’s just one of the friendliest people in the world and I loved getting to see him.
  2. There was a big Junior League women’s leadership symposium event and it was empowering and really a great experience.  Vicki Clark was the main speaker and she truly is amazing.  I can see why so many of my JL friends are Vicki Clark groupies!
  3. My mom, stepdad, sister, and Kevin’s parents were all in town and at our house at the same time, so we took that opportunity to dress Ava in the shirt she’s wearing in our family photo at the top of this post (photo cred to Lisa) and then we just waited to see how long it took our family to read the message.  My mother-in-law was the first to notice the writing and then everyone caught on quick.  :)
  4. It was for a sad event (the funeral service following my uncle’s passing) but I got to see a lot of my family on 3/25, which happens to be my sister’s birthday.  I love my aunts, uncles, cousins, immediate family, and any time with them is special.  My sister wanted Italian for her birthday dinner so we went to Trombino’s, which was really tasty.
  5. Long story but we decided to have Early Intervention test Ava, specifically to look at her gross motor skills because her walking gait seems a little off.  They believe that one of her legs is a little longer than the other and recommended that we take her to a pediatric orthopedist.  We’ll get our pediatrician’s opinion at the 18 month check up in April, but I think that she’ll probably agree with the recommendation.  Ava’s language skills, fine motor skills, etc. – everything else they test – looks age appropriate or beyond (her language comprehension is closer to 21-24 months!).

Bookish:

  1. I’m currently reading Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin, and Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen.
  2. In March I finished The Danish Way of Parenting (Jessica Joelle Alexander) – 3 stars; My Not So Perfect Life (Sophie Kinsella) – 4 stars, listened to that one on Audible; Nine Women, One Dress (Jane L. Rosen) – 4 stars; What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding (Kristin Newman) – 3 stars; The Hating Game (Sally Thorne) – 4 stars, listened to this one on Audible and I recommend reading the book versus listening; Where We Belong (Emily Giffin) – 4 stars; and The Vacationers (Emma Straub) – 3 stars.  So it was a pretty good month for reading.
  3. Still working my way through the great Harry Potter re-read as well.  In March I finished Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.  The fourth book is ready and waiting for me, but I want to make a little more progress on Team of Rivals before getting sucked in.
  4. Kevin is reading The Looming Tower.  I think he’s nearly done with it and then he and his mom are going to read an Andrew Jackson biography at the same time.

Challenges:

  1. My great uncle Donald passed away in March.  He was in his late 80’s and lived a life of routine and integrity.  Those may seem like funny things to reference, but that was him.  He had a quiet wit and a calm presence.  He was one of the smartest people in the world, I am convinced – an accountant and the career fit him.  He loved basketball and to travel.  He was one of my absolute favorite people and I will miss him.
  2. I was stricken by a stomach virus at the end of the month and it took me down for about 24 hours.  Then I was weak and scared of food for another 24 after that.  Right as I started feeling human again, poor Kevin caught what I had.  So we tag-teamed the whole parenting thing during that little phase.  Fortunately, Ava seems to have escaped that round of illness.  Definitely don’t want her to be sick!
  3. I have officially weaned her from nursing.  It was mostly unintentional.  We were down to just one feed a day, at night before she went to sleep.  My goal was to make it to 18 months and I thought it was going to happen.  But then I had Junior League meetings on two consecutive nights and I was unable to get out of those in time to get home for the bedtime routine.  48 hours between nursing sessions is not good for supply, so…there it was.  I’m sad that I didn’t meet my goal and sad that the chapter is over.  It is what it is.
  4. As mentioned, we’ll likely be taking Ava to a pediatric orthopedist, which is really sad because the poor thing gets so scared in doctors’ offices.  I know it’s going to be tough to see her in that stressful situation, needing x-rays, etc.  :(

Sustenance:

  1. Our Small Hours calls it Easy Shepherd’s Pie but it’s technically Cottage Pie since it uses beef rather than lamb or mutton.  Whatever.  It was delicious and really easy.  I put it together in the morning, let it refrigerate, and then Kevin popped it in the oven that afternoon/evening while I was at work.  A great make-ahead option!
  2. We made this one-pot creamy chicken bacon veggie pasta and I was very impressed.  We try not to eat pasta often, but I’d definitely do this one again.
  3. This crock pot chicken and rice soup was easy and as delicious as any other chicken and rice soup I’ve ever had, so I don’t think anything is lost by going crock pot versus stove top.  I overdid it on the dried thyme and rosemary (for my taste) and didn’t add enough salt, but I like to crumble saltine crackers up into my soup just prior to eating it anyway, so with that addition, it was perfect.
  4. I also enjoyed this shrimp and wild rice casserole.  We used broccoli instead of green bell pepper because I had some broccoli that needed to be used.  And I love the combo of rice/cheese/broccoli in general.  It would be easy to sub chicken for shrimp.  I think it would be tasty with scallops too.  Nice textures.  :)
  5. I made these little grape-caramel sauce-peanut snacks (referenced in this post) for a Norwex party at my house and they were really easy and really good.  Very snackable.  I probably ate about two dozen.

How was your March?

That’s a wrap {February}.

 img_0774

Links to Love:

  1. A Golden Girls themed café has opened in Manhattan.  My sister and I will definitely be visiting it someday.  We love The Golden Girls!  It’s one of those shows that I like to watch when I’m tired or sick or sad…those quirky ladies just make everything better.
  2. Maternity photo themed pics showing off that beautiful…beer belly??  These are funny.
  3. Did you watch The Oscars?  We didn’t.  But I read about the Best Picture debacle on theSkimm Monday morning.  Craziness!  I feel so bad for the guy who handed Bonnie and Clyde the wrong envelope.  These tweets are hilarious.
  4. Ava is officially walking more than she’s crawling.  In fact, she’s not really crawling at all any more.  She resembles a drunk sailor as she toddles around but she’s on her own two feet and loving it.  I’m so sad.  Does this mean I officially have a toddler?  These are the only shoes she’ll keep on.  We are fans.
  5. 13 Children’s Books that Encourage Kindness Towards Others.  I want Ava to own all of these.

Making Memories:

img_0801

  1. On my birthday, Kevin gave me a gift certificate for a 90 minute (!!) massage at a local skin and body retreat.  I redeemed that on the first Saturday in February and it was lovely.  90 minutes is such a luxurious length of time to be pampered.  Thanks, Kevin!
  2. Kevin went to Phoenix with his dad for their annual Sun’s game extravaganza.  They ate good food, did a little shopping (Ava made out like a bandit, as you can imagine), and enjoyed a close basketball game where the Sun’s came out victorious.  Not too shabby.  This was their 23rd annual father/son trip.  Isn’t that amazing?  They always have a great time.
  3. My mom and step-dad live a 2.5 hour drive away from us, which isn’t bad but they stay busy with their jobs/farm/ranch and we stay busy with life and the whole pack of us are homebody’s so we don’t see each other very often.  In February, my mom and I started Skyping on Monday mornings.  I think that’ll be a good way for her to stay up on Ava’s latest and greatest tricks and it’s a nice time to connect.  I’ve enjoyed that new routine.
  4. One blustery Thursday night in February, I met five of my friends out at The Melting Pot for a girl’s night.  It was so fun.  I always come away refreshed and recharged when I spend time with these ladies.  We wore tiaras and the restaurant supplied us with wands, because we’re princesses.  Have you eaten at The Melting Pot? That was my first time and I did all four courses.  I loved the cheese (bread was my favorite dipper, obviously), was underwhelmed by the salad, thought the entrée was okay, and ate too much of the chocolate.  Next time I think I’d just do cheese and chocolate.  Although I did love the mushroom caps in coq au vin with green goddess sauce.  I may do entree for those alone.
  5. Ava had a few social events in February.  She met a friend at the aquarium one afternoon, and went to a friend’s house for a play date one Saturday.  We continue to attend music class on Tuesday’s, which she always really enjoys.

Bookish:

img_0737

  1. I just finished listening to Anna Kendrick’s Scrappy Little Nobody and I really liked it.  I gave it 4 stars.  It is my favorite comedic memoir (or whatever that genre is) that I’ve read/listened to.  She’s not crude like so many of them are, and while there is some foul language, I think it’s well placed and not over the top.  She’s hilarious.
  2. Kevin and I finished listening to Duplicity by Newt Gingrich.  It was really well written and action packed.  Kevin gave it 5 stars and I gave it 4 stars.  We’ll probably start the sequel when we travel for Easter.
  3. I finished The Secret Garden and gave it 4 stars.  It’s a quick, easy, classic read.  I remember loving the movie as a kid, but I don’t think I’d ever read the book.  I also re-read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and it was just as amazing the second time.  I love that series.
  4. I’m currently still reading The Danish Way of Parenting:  A Guide to Raising the Happiest Kids in the World by Jessica Joelle Alexander & Iben Sandhal; Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets; Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (reading this one on my phone/iPad); and Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin.  I’m in a jack of many, master of none phase when it comes to reading.  I need to commit to finishing the Danish parenting book and put some time in with Team of Rivals but Harry Potter keeps calling my name.
  5. Kevin has been reading The Looming Tower: Al-Quaeda and the Road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright. He’s enjoying his online class that he started last month as well.  They’re about to start a group project that’s a simulation of an Everest climb.  Sounds taxing.

Challenges:

img_0637

 

  1. Naps continue to be a challenge for us.  Well, for Ava.  Kevin and I would gladly go down for daily naps if we could.  I’ve weaned Ava from the mid-day feed, so it really does have to be Goldilocks timing (not too tired, not too hyper) to get her to nap.  Sometimes we stroller nap in the late afternoon if I couldn’t get her down in the crib.  Sue has tried crib napping but Ava tends to wake up early and then they cuddle nap.  This too shall pass.  Days just seem really long when the child refuses a mid-day rest.  Overall though, we can’t complain.
  2. Kiki, while doing quite well for 14 years old (76 in human years), continues to refuse her thyroid medicine every other day or so, and she has been throwing up a lot.  We did some lab work over the weekend and should get results soon.  Hopefully there is something else we can try to keep her healthy.  She did gain weight though and seems to feel fine, so it’s not too bad.

Sustenance:

  1. I posted about our favorite chicken recipes in February – we ate each of those at least once during the month.
  2. We’ve still been into the overnight oats.  Those work especially well on the mornings that Kevin has personal training sessions at the gym.
  3. I’d like a chef to start doing my shopping and cooking.  I feel like we have been in such a rut recently.  And mealtimes just keep rolling around, not going anywhere.  Blah.

How was your February?  Would you choose a maid, a cook, or a chauffer to lighten your load? 

That’s a wrap {January}.


Links to Love:

  1. I have been loving the Daily Connoisseur’s YouTube videos.  I don’t watch YouTube often, but hers are some that I seek out.  I find her very soothing and I agree with so many of her philosophies.
  2. I came across her video about three ways to do overnight oats and recommend the blog post with the recipes.  We have tried the blueberries and cream version and the chocolate almond version and they are both delicious.  What overnight oats recipes do you recommend?
  3. This song.  (Million Reasons by Lady Gaga)  It has been on replay in my brain for the past week.
  4. Amanda linked to this article recently.  Definitely check it out and consider searching for yourself and opting out of having your personal info displayed on the site.
  5. This first look video was so funny!

Making Memories:

img_0542

  1. We had our guest bathroom renovated this month!  It looks so great.  Kevin and I marvel over all the things we’ve done to our home since moving in.  It really is like a different house!  The previous owners wouldn’t recognize the inside.
  2. We also had some touch up painting done around the house.  It felt good to get a few things patched and cleaned up!
  3. I was on the Nominating Committee this year for Junior League and got to help interview candidates for the slate next year.  I was slated as Nominating Chair for the upcoming year, which is exciting.  I go back and forth on leaving Junior League because I sometimes feel resentful when I’m at events, wishing I could be at home with Kevin and Ava.  But ultimately I know that it’s good for me to be involved in the organization and get out of the house for meetings and events.  I am very grateful to have such a supportive, amazing husband – he doesn’t bat an eye when I have meetings or events that take me away from home for hours at time in the evening or weekend.
  4. I went to an Escape Room with some girlfriends one Friday evening and it was such a blast.  I can’t wait to go back and am already planning a triple date with Kevin and some friends.
  5. Kevin and I made an early bird reservation at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse as a joint birthday celebration dinner.  It was so nice to get dressed up and have a date night.  We ate so much food and it was amazing.

Bookish:

  1. Read Truly Madly Guilty.  It’s Liane Moriarty’s newest and I gave it four stars.  I can understand why some people didn’t care for it.  The story did seem to move a little slowly at times, and the characters are very strong personalities.  You’ll likely either love them or hate them.  I loved them.  Each of them!  I thought they were well developed and quirky and real.
  2. Read At Home with Madame Chic:  Becoming a Connoisseur of Daily Life by Jennifer L. Scott.  I’ve read the other two books by her about lessons learned from Madame Chic (the author’s hostess when she lived in France in her early twenties) and polishing poise.  I think At Home is my least favorite of the three (I gave it three stars).  I have gotten into Jennifer’s vlogs recently.  (See above in the links section.)  I agree with much of what she says and think that she’s a great role model for teenagers and young adults.
  3. Currently reading The Danish Way of Parenting:  A Guide to Raising the Happiest Kids in the World by Jessica Joelle Alexander & Iben Sandhal; The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (on my phone/iPad); Duplicity by Newt Gringrich (listening to this one on Audible with Kevin); and Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin.  Oh and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, because it’s time to re-read that series.
  4. Kevin has been reading The Looming Tower: Al-Quaeda and the Road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright and Duplicity, as mentioned above.  He also started taking a class (Leadership and Organizational Behavior) this month, because he didn’t feel like he had enough on his plate with only a baby and a wife and a full time job.  :)  He’s toying with the idea of getting an MBA through UMass Amherst and this class allows him to metaphorically dip his toe into the graduate school waters.
  5. Ava hit the 1000 book mark in her 1000 books before kindergarten challenge.  We’ll try it again in a few years, when kindergarten is on the horizon.

Challenges:

img_0553

  1. Ava has been a bit of an inconsistent sleeper for the past couple of months.  I feel silly saying that has been a challenge because in general she is such a good sleeper.  But there were a few nights where she woke up out of sorts and on one night we threw up the white flag after an hour and a half of crying it out.  Kevin slept on the floor of her room and that seemed to satisfy her.  She also does not like to be left alone to fall asleep, whereas she used to sooth herself to sleep just fine and dandy.  Now we need to stay in the room with her until she drifts off.  It’s just different and we don’t know what caused it.  Our trip to Denver last month?  A developmental leap (she’s in the ninth Wonder Weeks phase now and she is always hyper-aware during those leaps)?  We finally seemed to be getting back on track and then…dun dun dun…she got a cold.  However, the latest and greatest is that as of last night, January 31, Ava has been left in her crib awake and has not cried a bit for four consecutive nights.  She chats to herself and then falls asleep alone and on her own.  It’s been very exciting and I hope it continues.  January – I guess you could say it came in like a lion and out like a lamb on the sleeping front for the sweet girl.
  2. There was a bit of a challenge to our schedule when the reno work was being done to the bathroom.  The cats had to be locked up in our master suite (woe is them) during the day and it was loud and disruptive.  Ava couldn’t nap or even peacefully play at home so we spent a lot of time at Craig and Sue’s house.  Fortunately they live close so it’s easy to go back and forth.  We’re glad to have this project done!  We’ll tackle our master bathroom in the spring when we can play outside more.  That’s going to be a longer project.  Yikes.
  3. After almost 15 months of perfect health, a cold virus struck my poor baby.  She was sniffly, stuffy, and sneezy, and it was so hard to watch her struggle with not feeling 100%.  She is such a trooper though, and we were really lucky – overall she continued to feel well and be her cheerful self during the day.  She struggled to get comfortable at night and had a hard time breathing while lying down.  Fortunately it was pretty mild and passed relatively quickly.  We did a few steams and ran the humidifier and diffused peppermint oil.
  4. I don’t want to get into politics, but regardless of where any American stands on issues, January was a challenging month.  As a nation, we are very divided.  That division scares me.  I am scared for this country and the world, and I am disappointed in how leadership has handled many things.

Sustenance:

img_0514

  1. This month we ate a few of our regular rotation meals – chicken fajitas (strips of chicken breast, bell pepper, onion, seasoned with salt/pepper/garlic powder, sautéed in olive oil, and served over a tortilla with cheese), beef stroganoff (we usually use ground beef rather than stew meat and we always add mushrooms), roast, a smoked salmon that we regularly get at Whole Foods, these Cuban sliders
  2. We made lentil soup for the second time and really enjoyed it again.  It’ll become part of the regular rotation in the winter.  It’s not an Ava friendly meal though.  Soup is hard to eat for a little lady mastering utensils, and she did try it…but didn’t love the flavor.  We made her a ham sandwich and she was content.  :)
  3. I feel like we tried more than two new recipes this month, but I’m only remembering these – braised coconut spinach chickpeas with lemon and the Pioneer Woman’s Chicken with Mustard Cream Sauce.
  4. Perhaps the meal highlight of the month was our joint birthday celebration dinner date out at Ruth’s Chris.  Oh it was so delicious.
  5. Effective January 5 (we had to wait until after my birthday :)), Kevin and I are back on our righteous eating plan and allowing ourselves three cheats a week.  Cheats include fast food, fried food, sweets, pizza, and pasta.  We followed this plan for the majority of last year and feel like it is a good way to stay on track with conscious food decisions while also not depriving ourselves altogether.  Kevin also has started seeing a personal trainer once or twice a week.  He’s hoping to expand his repertoire of workouts that he can do on his own.  I’ve signed up for a month of unlimited hot yoga at a place very near our house and I’m excited about getting into that.

How was your January?  Tell me something good!

2016 Reading Challenge – final report.

image

The 2016 Reading Challenge final list!

Allow me to begin with Ava’s current book total – she ended the year with just under 900 books.  She is so close to hitting the 1000 books before kindergarten mark and she’s not even 15 months old.  :)  We used to just read over her as she played – baby’s version of Audible.  Now she’s starting to get into books and she’ll pull out book after book and hand it to us with an urgent grunt.  “Please!  Read this now!  I must know about Brown Bear, Brown Bear!”  It’s really cute and we love that she loves books.  We’ll complete the 1000 books before kindergarten challenge and then take a break from recording her book count.  I want to do it again in a few years when she’s able to sit and understand and interact over the stories and pictures.

Now on to me, me, me…  Here are the categories and the book(s) I’ve read for each:

A book published this year.
Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld – 4 stars
The One You Really Want by Jill Mansell – 3 stars
The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware – 4 stars*
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles – 5 stars
The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis – 4 stars

A book you can finish in a day.
Polish Your Poise with Madame Chic:  Lessons in Everyday Elegance by Jennifer L. Scott – 4 stars
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein – 4 stars

A book you’ve been meaning to read.
The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty – 4 stars

A book recommended by your local librarian or bookseller.
The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald – 3 stars

A book you should have read in school.
There was nothing that I should have read in school that I didn’t read in school, so I decided to choose a book that is commonly read in school.  It actually wound up being one that I’d already read, but it had been many years and it was nice to re-visit Thornfield Hall.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte – 4 stars

A book chosen for you by your spouse, partner, sibling, child, or BFF.
Blood and Thunder by Hampton Sides – 5 stars

A book published before you were born.
Rainbow Valley by L.M. Montgomery – 4 stars 

A book that was banned at some point.
I just couldn’t muster up the energy to read a book in this category.  As a general rule, banned books deal in heavy subject matter and I just wasn’t up for heavy this year.

A book that you previously abandoned.
The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton – 4 stars

A book you own but have never read.
Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery – 5 stars

A book that intimidates you.
The Bully Pulpit:  Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism by Doris Kearns Goodwin – 5 stars

A book you’ve already read at least once.
Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson – formerly 5 stars; this time around I felt more like it was 4 stars
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh – formerly 5 stars; this time I’d give it 6 stars if I could

Here are the books I’ve read that don’t fit into a category.  They are:

Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead – 4 stars
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart – 3 stars
We Never Asked for Wings by Vanessa Diffenbaugh – 4 stars
After You by Jojo Moyes – 3 stars
Baby Led Weaning: Helping Your Baby to Love Good Food by Gill Rapley – 4 stars
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd – 4 stars
Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella – 5 stars
Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner – 4 stars

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell – 3 stars
Waiting for Birdy: A Year of Frantic Tedium, Neurotic Angst, and the Wild Magic of Growing a Family by Catherine Newman – 5 stars
Paris for One and Other Stories by Jojo Moyes – 4 stars
The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer – 3 stars*
The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams – 4 stars
The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani – 3 stars
Love the One You’re With by Emily Giffin – 4 stars*
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris – 4 stars*
Tiny Little Thing by Beatriz Williams – 3 stars

That was a total of 34 books for the year – far more than I expected to read, but a pleasant surprise in the end.  I just love reading and prioritize it over many, many other things that I could – and sometimes should – be doing.

I decided against doing a little synopsis and opinion of each of the above books because this post would be ridiculously long, but if any of the titles catch your eye and you want to know more, please let me know!  I’d be happy to share.

And to not leave Kevin out of this reading update, here is a list of the books he read in 2016 and his rating of those books:

The Opening Kickoff:  The Tumultuous Birth of a Football Nation by Dave Revsine – 4 stars
Influence:  The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini – 3 stars
Bit Literacy:  Productivity in the Age of Information and E-mail Overload by Mark Hurst – 2 stars
First, Break All the Rules:  What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently by Marcus Buckingham- 4 stars
The Personal MBA:  Master the Art of Business by Josh Kaufman – 3 stars
Thunderstruck by Erik Larson – 3 stars*
Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan – 4 stars*
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Leading a Good Life by Mark Manson – 2 stars*
Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and bin Laden from the Soviet Invasion to  September 10, 2001 by Steve Coll – 5 stars
Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck–Why Some Thrive Despite Them All by James C. Collins – 5 stars*
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris – 4 stars*
Taliban by James Fergusson – 4 stars

*Denotes audiobooks rather than hard/paperback or e-reader

What was your favorite book in 2016?  What are you excited to read in 2017?

Snapshot {December}.

img_9961

Making: Lists in my 2017 planner.  I accomplish a lot when it is on a list and I know I’ll have the satisfaction of crossing it off when it’s done.  My plan is to write out in advance (like right now) five goals for each of the 52 weeks in 2017.  We’ll see how it works!

Cooking: Mmm, good food recently.  Yesterday we made the Pioneer Woman’s potato soup for dinner.  Tonight we made our favorite – pan seared chicken with balsamic cream sauce.  Tomorrow night will be our favorite beef stew and homemade bread.

Drinking: Water.  80 ounces each day.  Some days are tougher than others.

img_0024

Reading: Several books.  The Secret Garden on my phone.  Team of Rivals, slowly but surely.  Truly, Madly, Guilty, my current library book.  Kevin and I are listening to Duplicity as well.

Wanting: Ava to reach the end of her current teething phase.  The first set of top molars have been visible for a week and minimal progress seems to be happening.  Poor thing.  She’s also in a developmental leap which means she’s hyperaware and clingy and doesn’t go down for her regular bedtime as easily as usual.  Will I ever stop obsessing about her sleep habits and patterns and phases?  I certainly hope so.

img_0090

Looking: Forward to 2017.  A fresh year just feels so full of promise.  I don’t know how I want to capture each monthly recap on the blog, if at all.  I enjoyed this format this year and it allowed me to share my favorite five or six Instagram photos from each month.  But I don’t think I want to do another year of it.

Eating: Well.  See above under cooking.  :)

 Wishing: My parents and sister lived closer.  I know I’m very lucky that they’re only 2.5 hours away – some people are so much further from family.  But schedules prevent regular visits.  I wish Ava had the chance to know them the way she does her other grandparents.

img_0001

Enjoying: Some of Ava’s newest mannerisms.  She picks up books and holds them up to us, making this cute little grunting noise to indicate that she wants us to read them to her.  She’s also started dancing and girlfriend has rhythm on par with her mom, which is to say, no rhythm.  But it’s adorable.  I love how she pulls herself up on her little bear chair and looks so proud to be sitting there.  She knows where we keep the crackers and gets so excited anytime we go near it.  She’s a master climber of the stairs and has also gotten really good at going down them properly.

Loving: My new booties.  I thought I hated booties, but maybe I am just really, really picky.

Hoping: The weather allows us to resume our regular walks around the neighborhood.  It’s really so good for the mind, body, and soul to get that fresh air and leg stretch in semi-regularly.

img_0260

Needing: To remember this verse:  Ephesians 5:4 – “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.”  Amanda shared it recently and it really resonated with me as something I need to focus on myself.

Smelling: Lavender mist from my diffuser.  So soothing.

Feeling: Relaxed and happy.  I am so blessed.

img_0286

Wearing: Sweats and a t-shirt.  New Year’s eve party clothes.

Watching: Homeland.  We’re on the first episode of the sixth season.  Poor Quinn.

What are you wishing/needing/loving/eating right now?

Snapshot {November}.

img_0011

Making: Good use of nap time – even if it’s not as I planned. I had the best of intentions to make a turkey pot pie for lunch while Ava slumbered peacefully in her crib. But alas, she acts as though I am placing her gently into boiling lava when I attempt to move the little sleeper from my arms. So I was faced with a choice – pot pie and no nap…or an indulgent cuddle nap and no pot pie. I chose the nap, so here I sit, sleeping baby weight on me and I’m using the time to do this blog post. I can’t say I’m disappointed in my choice.

Cooking: The meal plan this week was as follows:  Monday – lemon chicken picata with roasted kale and brussels sprouts; Tuesday – spicy tomato garlic shrimp with spaghetti squash; today – roasted chicken thighs and sweet potatoes; Thursday – green chile and beef enchilada casserole and pinto beans; and Friday – we’ll likely pick up Dion’s or Flying Star. I’ll throw together the aforementioned turkey pot pie (using turkey my mother in law roasted yesterday) at some point and it will be good for lunches.

Drinking: Water.  I’ve felt soooo much better since I gave up my (average of) twice a week peppermint mocha, so I know I need to be strong and keep avoiding.  But I did give in and drink one yesterday so… It’s a dangerous course to give in for “just one” – wish me luck.

img_9639

Reading: So many books going!  Team of Rivals (which I’ll be working on for a long time), Jane Eyre (re-reading it on my phone while Ava nurses/cuddle naps because classics are free and it has been about 9 years since I last read it!), A Gentleman in Moscow (good, but not nearly as interesting to me as Rules of Civility – by the same author), Love the One You’re With (listening to it on Audible as I drive around town – an easy listen), and lastly, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim (one that Kevin and I listened to on our way to and from Thanksgiving at my family’s place about an hour and a half south of where we live.  It is funny and had us cracking up a lot on the drive!  Now we’re listening to it in smaller increments as we drive to grocery shop, etc.).

Wanting: Some clarity on a few personal changes I’ve been considering. Nothing I can talk about now (hello, vague) but I’ll update you as I can.

img_9701

Looking: At the path of toys and books Hurricane Ava has left in her wake.  Confession:  I actually enjoying picking everything up at the end of the day, placing each item in its correct place, and leaving a clean canvas for her to play upon the following day.  I time myself and there’s a sense of instant gratification. Messy to neat in 1.75 minutes.

Eating: Nothing now. Lunch when Ava awakes – I’ll likely ask Kevin to bring me something. Or eat leftover chicken piccata.

 Wishing: That I was always this patient and accepting of thwarted crib naps. Some days I feel so overwhelmed with all the stuff I need to be doing while Ava is sleeping. Some days I’m convinced that it’s because we’ve allowed cuddle naps that she won’t crib nap consistently well and some days I’m certain that the cuddle nap on that particular day is going to be THE indulgence that turns her into a bad sleeper. Today I don’t care. Today I’m just thankful that I have a schedule that allows me to hold her while she naps and today I’m appreciative of this stage because someday she won’t want to let me hold her for an hour and a half and that will be sad.

img_1150

Enjoying: Hot lemon honey water each evening with Kevin.  It’s so soothing and a lovely way to end the day.

Loving: This phase with Ava. She is seriously so fun at 13 months. I count myself lucky to be her sidekick. Her newest thing? “Ava,what does a snake say?” And she responds with, “Sssssssssss!” She’s also started blowing on her food when it’s warm and she’s so good at using a spoon and fork (pre-loaded but I think it will click soon that she can be her own master spear’er of food). She is pushing her little push toy around and transitioning from one piece of furniture to another but still prefers crawling and hasn’t taken independent steps. I stumbled across this article and thought it was interesting – fits Ava completely. She has such a cautious, easy temperament – it’s not surprising that she’s a later than average walker.

Hoping: The thyroid medicine we started Kiki on yesterday works well for her. She is such a sweet cat. I want her to be healthy forever.

img_9678

Needing: To do a blog post about my October Stitch Fix box.  Maybe I’ll just wait and combine it with the scheduled January box.  I think I’ve also got an item or two through Trunk Club that I haven’t posted about…..

Smelling: Fresh laundry scent from the baby passed out on top of me.

Feeling: Super proud of myself – I am done with my Christmas shopping.  It’s self preservation really – I can’t stand the crowds and chaos and stress that comes with shopping closer to the holiday.  It’s such a relief to be done.

img_9729

Wearing: Jeans and a sweater. Cozy socks and house shoes.

Watching: Gilmore Girls.  I’m on the last few episodes of the seventh season and then I’ll start the newly released Netflix version.  I want to get caught up on the PBS Anne series this weekend too!

What are you wishing/needing/loving/eating right now?