Sunday, September 21, 2014

Happily Ever Eloped...Our Wedding Day

Once upon a time there was a woman and a man who really just wanted to be together. No big bells and whistles needed, just eachother, their beautiful children and the beginning of a new life and a happy family.

So they decided to play a little trick. They sent out invitations to their loved ones to an "Engagement Party"


Then escaped for the day to the Kansas City Public Library, where they said their vows and happily toasted to ever after.

Meanwhile, their friends and family gathered at a winery, where they found beautiful flowers, stacks of books, the couple's favorite quotes and lots and lots of wine. 


And just when they thought the "engaged couple" was late for the party, they watched a "slideshow" of photos and found out this was much more than just an engagement party: 



It was a wedding reception. 

And this is how happy we are were:





And we're feeling pretty good about it. 



Tuesday, September 9, 2014

That's What She Read's Perfect Books for Autumn Reading


For the next couple of months, your Pinterest is going to be jam packed with pumpkin crafts and wreaths made of burlap and leaves. Your Instagram will have countless manicured hands grasping steaming cups of PSL and Facebook will be colored with school pride as moms post selfies while huddled together in the football stadium. And while I will undoubtedly and unashamedly be participating in all of these Autumn festivities, the main thing I love to do in Fall (besides trying to pass leggings as pants) is to cozy up on the couch with the windows open reading a great book. In case you need a couple of book suggestions so that you can do the same, here's my list of perfect books to read in the Fall. Some old, some new, but all meant to get you in the mood for my favorite season of the year!




Little Women-This classic is a must. It's the perfect setting for the season, plus any story about sisters gives me a warm and cozy feeling. When I read this as a little girl, I remember tying blankets around my waste to pretend I had dresses like the March girls.

The One and Only by Emily Giffin- She's the genius author behind Something Blue, Something Borrowed and Baby Proof so you know you can't go wrong. This book is perfect for Fall because it's allll about football. And there's nothing better than enjoying a great game, tailgate food and hoodie sweatshirts on a cool crisp October game day, right? Shea is a Texas girl and a University of Walker graduate who bleeds teal- the team color of her alma mater-and there's nothing she wouldn't do to make sure that her favorite football team makes the playoffs. Falling in love with her best friend's father and the head coach of her beloved team might not have been the best play, but it definitely makes for a great game.

Cider House Rules ) This is just a classic that would be perfect for a chilly morning. Plus it has cider in the title, which is oveall, the only acceptable autumn drink.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed- There's something about Fall that makes me appreciate nature. And really, what else can make you feel one with nature more than a real-life account of a woman's 1,100 mile hike up the Pacific Northwest Trail? Not to mention, Reese Witherspoon is starring in the movie version right now so read and watch!

The Night Circus by Erin Morenstern - There's magic, beautiful costumes and mystery, so it's a perfect story to get you in the mood for All Hallow's Eve.

Autumn Getaway by Jennifer Gracen - It's all in the title. Plus, golden falling leaves adorn the cover so it passes that test too. Sometimes, sweaters, leggings and a cool breeze just call for a good romance that you can cozy up on the couch with. 

The Witches of East End- Melissa Beauchamp -Here's another great read to get you in the mood for Halloween. Plus, the next best thing to do in the Fall if you are not reading is to binge watch a TV show and I've heard great things about this one. 


What is on your reading list for next couple of months?

Friday, September 5, 2014

What Makes Me Happy

What makes me happy? It seems like a simple question, but I guess I am lucky to have discovered that there are many many little ways to make me smile. 

First and foremost, my kiddos.

More specifically:

The way Reese rolls her eyes when I can understand her because of her speech pwobwem.
The way Ryder's eyes light up when he's describing his latest Lego invention (a submarine/lawn mower, perhaps).
The way my one goofy grin can make them giggle, now matter what.
The way the top of their heads smell after being warmed from the sun.
The way Reese looks like in a ballet leotard. 



The way my freckles appear on their noses.
They way they constantly search for information about everything: why the moon appears in the daylight, why they have to go to bed, why I tell them to talk to their stuffed animals at bedtime when "don't I know that they are just stuffed with stuffing and can't talk back?"
Watching them discover new things, like the thrill of picking fruits and eating them, right from the tree or their faces when we

Other things that make me happy & brighten my day:

Sushi





Velveeta Shells and Cheese
Chips and salsa
Margaritas
Peanut Butter M&Ms
Endless access to ketchup...and the freeing feeling of not being ashamed that I love ketchup so much.
Moscato on ice. 
Speaking of Manfriend, pretty much anything h does makes me happy. When he's not busy spilling my wine.





Complete silence so I can read uninterrupted

Reading books that are going to become huge hits before anyone else discovers how great they are or become movies. So I can say "Called it!"




Discovering quotes, poems and scripture that speak to me, heal my soul or calm my nerves.
Anthropologie. Paper Source. Target (alone, with Starbucks in hand)
Fall scented everything.
Skinny Caramel Machiato lattes, piping hot.
Audiobooks. 
Morning Express with Robin 
Playing games with my kids on the Ipad. 
19 Kids in Counting. 
Studying Spelling Words
Random Acts of Kindess (giving and receiving)

My family, my kids, being a mom. Bringing smiles.

It's all pretty easy stuff, am I right?  







Thursday, August 28, 2014

Currently...


Reading...This: Everything I Never Told You by  Celeste Ng. It's a mystery about a Chinese American family and their daughter who disappears. I've been on a murder mystery bender so after this one, I'll need a perkier story line! 


Watching...nothing right now...so if you have any suggestions on what should be my next binge worthy Netflix show, please let me know! I'm thinking maybe Dexter? 

Drinking...juice. We bought a NutriBullet and have  been making juice for breakfast and lunch. I actually like it alot. Working away from home means fast food (hard to resist) or actually having time in the morning to remember to pack a lunch (never going to happen). Instead, I just cram spinach, flaxseed and a couple fruits (my favorite combo is peaches and bananas)  into the juicer and take it with me. I never feel hungry and instead feel energized.

Saying..."I just fed you!" My children are apparently going through growth spurts, especially R1. He's a manchild. I can't keep enough cheese, yogurt and cereal in this place. They have some funny requests too. Last night, R2 requested fried rice and tonight, R1 picked Egg Salad Sandwiches. It's like feeding my own little small village, they eat so much! Here's the super easy recipe I use for R2's cravings for fried rice. It's great because they love the veggies and get protein from the eggs, which they don't even notice. 

Studying...math again apparently. I seriously have a fear that R1's math homework is going to stump me one of these days. It may be only first grade, but I pretty much chose my journalism major because it didn't require much college level math. Kidding. But seriously. I'll have to call for back up by the time he starts long division. 

Listening...to an audiobook so fun to listen to that I am making up excuses to drive around in my car so I can hear what happens next...and that's on top of my one-way hour commute! Emily Giffin is always a favorite of mine so I didn't even read the description. I just knew I'd read her newest book. It's a fun story about a 30-something single girl with an extreme love and loyalty to her hometown college football team. There are steamy scenes, fun characters and I always love anything Texas!  Speaking of books, does anyone out there take advantage of Kindle Unlimited? It's a $9.99 monthly fee that gives you unlimited free books e-books on Amazon...only it looks like the selection of books is pretty limited and not new releases. If you have recommendations about it, let me know! 



Lusting After... These TOMS. I pretty much dream about them, can you blame me? 


Pinning...FALL everything. Boots, flannel cardigans, boots (Can someone tell me, which are in style now, ankle or riding? Well I want them both, no matter what.) And Fall decor, scents and colors to add to my living room. Especially fall colors to add to my throw pillows. Wall Decor, wreaths...just everything autumn is what I need right now. Like this: 



So tell me, what are you currently reading, eating, saying, listening to, lusting after? 


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Book Review: Big Little Lies



Do you remember those girls in elementary school who were so perfect they were intimidating, whose compliment on your lunchbox made your entire week, and whose shoes you were always eyeing with jealousy? Well now those girls are all grown up with their own kindergartners and someone wrote a book about them.


They have everything, the big shiny SUVs, the perfect volunteering resume and the rich husbands with perfect kids to match. Only now, one of them is a murderer and it all started on the kindergarten playground...


This is Big Little Lies and there's nothing little about it. It's everything we've been missing since Desperate Housewives went off the air. The entire book has momentum that just keeps building and building. Not a lot can surprise people these days but this book definitely has the punch. 

The character development is great. I could see a little of myself in each of the mothers, the good and the bad. It is a great illustration of how far mothers will go to ensure their children are protected and loved, but also shows the pitfalls of our competitive human natures and our need for acceptance.

First, you meet one of my favorite characters, Madeline. I kept imagining Terri Hatcher's character in DH. She's lovable in her vulnerability but she's just just as much a scheming ladder climber as the rest of them. She's also the queen gossip which makes her always entertaining. I always appreciate when an author is able to write comically such as Moriarty does in this book. I laughed out loud, which doesn't happen often enough when I read! 

Jane and Celeste are two other characters that I couldn't get enough of. I honestly wish each of these ladies would have had their own book that I could dive into. The book lets you get a glimpse into each of theirs lives- but only enough that you get to know them, not enough for you to really know who's responsible for the dead body. Even though you'll find that there may be possibility any of them is capable it, because they all have a little crazy showing. 




The plots and twists start when one child accuses Jane's son of choking her on the playground. That's when the claws come out and the moms start teaming up against each other.  Then comes the competition that seems to be ever present among mothers and their children. Each mom is fighting to be the most involved, to look the most put together, to throw the best birthday party. As you learn about each character and their own struggles, background and home lives, you begin to feel a momentum build up that leads to a confrontation that's a totally satisfying climatic conclusion. 

One wife is hiding a horrific secret and silently suffering. Another is hiding her shame, another tries to masks her insecurities with false confidence. There's one who is raising her daughter alongside her ex husband and his new family, and another with no friends in sight. I could relate to so many of their situations.

It's a great "murder" mystery for anyone who doesn't like all the blood and guts that comes with most thrillers. It kept me guessing until the end and when it all came crashing down, I had to reread the whole scene because I was so caught off guard. It's a breezy read, perfect for summer, but it is also heavy enough, because of the emotional issues, that it sucks you in long after you've discovered the culprit. 

I feel like this one of the most vague book reviews I've ever written but it's just that I don't want to give anything away. Just know that there's a great story line that moves fast, there are cliff hangers, funny "little lies" peppered in through out the story from outlying characters and a build up to a really great ending.

Read it. Read it to be thankful that most moms are not this crazy (at least none that I have seen...yet), and because you'll be reminded that everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about. 


Monday, August 18, 2014

Mom Thoughts:What Happens When Summer Fades Too Fast

There are many times when something random happens that sparks the need for me to write. This morning, I leaned into the back seat of my car to grab my laptop case when the scent of chlorine hit me. It instantly reminded me of the amazing day I had with the kids at the pool the day before. And then, the words that I am sharing with you today just kind of tumbled out from my fingers onto the keyboard. I decided to call it "Mom Thoughts" because it's not really poetry but it's definitely not a regular post. It's just me, thinking about my kids, our amazing summer and the fact that their childhood seems to be racing by way too fast... 




The car still smells like the pool and all I want to do is slow down time. 

The summer, it's as if my kids and I got to know each other in a whole new way, as if 
the sunshine was a spotlight, reflecting our smiles and making us more aware of our senses. 

I have more memories of my kids smiling and laughing this summer than ever before. 




There is something about warm freckles and salty kisses that makes me feel like I am tethered to something real. 

I see the pile of pool clothes and flip flops in one corner of the hallway.
And in the other, fresh boxes of crayons with initials written in marker and new backpacks with the tags still on. 





Why does life fly by so quickly? 
Who is holding the reins that are pulling on the time? 

The reins have not heard my pleas to slow down 
To make my children still fit on my lap, 
To stunt their ability to feel insecurities or regret 
To keep them in our own little world. 

I think that's the thing that scares me most.
Sending my littlest out into the world where influences come from every direction
Instead from just from my own dispense.

My mind races as I send them off through those double doors unto a new school year.
Selfish, fleeting thoughts I know only other moms will understand

Will others appreciate their quirks like I do?
Will they be polite?
Will their short-comings be a reflection of something I forgot to teach them?



My balance is sharp and even.
One side is jealousy of their teachers,
who are the blessed ones who get to see their minds at work,
their eyes light up, their thrill at meeting their new best friend.
The other side is calmed with the realization that if I keep them too close, they won't ever experience those wonders.



Have I prepared them? 
I vividly remember the taunting of children on the playground in my own youth.
More painfully, I remember being a bully myself, 
The sharp regret of making another hurt.

Have I raise them well enough that they won't ever experience that regret? 
Have I equipped them with the confidence to overcome that hurt?

As the memories of water-drenched kisses fade
To make room for cold noses and lost mittens, 
I know there will always be enough room for them all.



Every laugh. Every question. Every giggle. 









Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Book Review: The Rosie Project



Lately, I have been hitting the good book mother load. 
As in, I've been so buried in them I don't have time to write about how good they are. 
Which is just a shame because my favorite thing about good books is telling people about them and nearly ruining the plot for them.  Just kidding, I would never do that, I promise. 

So, I bring you The Rosie Project


"An international sensation, this hilarious, feel-good novel is narrated by an oddly charming and socially challenged genetics professor on an unusual quest: to find out if he is capable of true love."


This book has the most lovable unlovable character I've ever met. Don Tillman is a genetics professor who is so socially challenged, it made me giggle out loud. He's oddly charming, too smart to relate to normal people and over the top obsessive compulsive. All things that have been stacked up against him and his goal to find a wife. Until he decides to start the Wife Project. He comes up with pages and pages of questions he thinks he can hand to women to fill out and it will help him weed out the ones he deems ill-equipped for marriage.  
He times his evenings down to the minute. He has a system for the meals that he prepares identically each week. He is literally living on autopilot. I wanted to believe at first he was just a little kid with an "aw, shucks" personality, whose mother just cut up his steak for one too many years as a child, but as I read more about Don's character, I began to realize that he was an adult with a brilliant mind that was struggling to handle social norms. The book explores many interesting facets of autism and human nature. Topics which I've found myself skirting around, never fully understanding or comprehending. Don's story changed that for me. I don't get it all now, but somehow, Simision really hit the nail on the head by creating a character whose shoes are so well written, you feel like you actually are walking in them.

Don knows that he should have a wife because that is what is expected in life, but he doesn't have the capabilities of understanding the concept of loving a woman enough to marry her. 
Until he meets Rosie. 
Now, if I thought I loved Don, then I love Rosie just as much. She's punky, she's sassy, she's smart. But she's also hurt and a little lost and desperately searching for any connection to a life that means something. She has a question she's been searching to answer her whole life and stumbling upon a obsessive-compulsive, lonely genetics professor weirdly  has a way to help her find it. 

“But I’m not good at understanding what other people want.’
‘Tell me something I don’t know,’ said Rosie for no obvious reason.

I quickly searched my mind for an interesting fact. 
‘Ahhh…The testicles of drone bees and wasp spiders explode during sex.” 

Both Rosie and Don are completely caught off guard by the concept of love. One, because she wasn't even looking. And the other, because he didn't even know he was capable of it. 
There are were twists in this story, but for the most part, I knew how it was going to end. Normally, I'd put that in a con category but I loved Don and Rosie so much, knew they went together so essentially, that I was okay with the predictability.  I was surprised and satisfied at the same time. It was just that kind of book.


My recommendation? Read it. Read it on a weekend where you are feeling a little disenchanted by the power of love, or when you are tired of thinking people don't still do nice things for each other. Because they do. Because love is still enchanting. Nice, compassionate people who care about others, who want to do each other favors, who are genuinely affected by what happens to the people around them, they do exist. Sometimes it just takes our own selves to move outside of our comfort zones, to ignore social barriers or norms, and scale those obstacles to find each other. For Rosie and Don, for me in my own life, jumping those walls has been worth all the while. 




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