And yes, in case you were wondering, it was impossible to choose, but alas, here I am trying to nail down some of the top nine moments and snapshots of 2015. That's one fantastic problem to have! 

In no particular order - but the first one really takes the cake: 

1) Our Trip to Colorado. It was what dreams were made of... except that one of the kids had to poop on a mountain, someone got stuck in the seat belt during the drive and that flat tire in the middle-of-nowhere, Nebraska. But those are just the little details. As a whole, taking our kids on vacation this summer was definitely the highlight of the year. Hiking up to Dream and Emerald Lakes in Estes Park, CO was a memory I will never forget. More importantly, I hope our kids always remember it too. 

2) We also managed a great family snap shot while at a wedding in Colorado, which with 7 of us is always a task. 

3) Hubs and I getting a little vacation to ourselves at Lake of the Ozarks- the perfect place to end the summer. 

4) Home.

5) Not just this snapshot, but every moment spent laughing with my two best friends was a highlight of the year for me. They've grown up so much in 2015. Their personalities shine, their strong suits are flourishing and we are really getting the groove of this thing called life together. 

6) The day that Reese made. Her 5th birthday was a creation all her own, and she took us on quite the adventure. First, she took us to a movie, then Panda Express and to the mall to get her ears pierced, and then, only to prove she truly is my daughter, we perused the isles of Target with Starbucks in hand. We ended the day at "the giant ice cream village" and it was the most perfect of days. 

7) In October, I wore glittering, gold Badgley Mischka and helped one of my dearest friends say "I Do" and it was pure magic. Crazy, unpredictable, loud and fun- just like it always is with my gals. 

8) One of my favorite things- couch sitting and goofing off with the Rs. We did this a lot through out the year, Reese telling her funny knock knock jokes and Ryder Googling random facts to impress us. If you ever want to know why the chicken crossed the road or how many satellites are currently sending X number of beams down to earth, my kids probably have the answers. 

9) This was a great day- Halloween. Reese wanted to be a crazy cat lady, which was amazing all on its own because I myself am an aspiring crazy cat lady, plus it was the cutest costume, EVER. The best part of the whole day is when she asked me to be her "Favorite cat" and at first I thought, "no way, I am not cool enough to pull off dressing up with my kids, I will look like a dork." But then I looked at my crazy cat lady, with her big blue eyes and I couldn't say no. Some liquid eyeliner, a few whiskers and a cat headband later and away we went. She even took home first prize at the costume contest. Epic.  

There aren't enough posts or photo collages that could do this year any justice so I will just say that my cup, my heart, my home, my everything, where it runs, is running over the expectations I have and what I think I deserve. It's so much, so much love and smiles I can't even explain it. Even the worst of days start again with a fresh slate again the next morning and that's what  I keep remembering- that's what helps keep me grateful. 


Best Books of 2015

The only thing I regret about the books I read this year is that I didn't read more. There are many fun memories and Netflix shows to blame for that, so I am not complaining. But if I had to name my favorites, here is my list: 

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff-  
This was a doozie, and I know I am not the only person who was left moved by it- it's been at the top of all of the best reads for the year. Lotto and Matilde are a beautiful couple with their whole lives ahead of them and they're madly in love. Their story isn't anything out of the ordinary...they marry young and struggle as Lotto pursues his acting career, and later, his dream to become a playwright. First, you get Lotto's point of view of their life and then, Matilde takes over the narrative and the shocker of the novel is that their versions of their life together are two completely different stories...and the reasons why are riveting

Nightingale by Kristin Hannah - My runner up for the favorite of year the year, probably because it made me fall in love with historical fiction again, which I have strayed from in the past couple of years. Just like Sarah's Key, this book was beautiful and so well written, it was if you were right there in France, in the cold bitterness of the war. It's just the way Hannah writes that makes you really live with the characters, which makes it easy to feel for them and understand why they did the things they did and how they survived. 

The Girl On The Train - The perfect "Gone Girl" fix for 2015. This book was the perfect "horror" or thriller fiction because the story wasn't just strange and mysterious but so was the writing. Sometimes I felt like I myself was hallucinating, not just the characters. But I won't say anything more because it's a cliff hanger that needs the reader to be in the dark. 

The Husband's Secret- This was actually a book I had given up on a couple of times but because I really like her others (Big Little Lies and What Alice Forgot) I decided to give it another chance, and I am so glad I did. I think that Liane Moriarty is just a rare gem because she writes these romantic comedies with such great twists that it's like Carrie Bradshaw Meets Olivia Pope. You can beat that match up. 

Ruby by Cynthia Bond - This is the most memorable because it was so dark and the imagery really stayed with me. In one word, it was haunting. The whole story just really stuck with me and there were parts of the narrative that stunned me and I really just can't get it out of my head.  

And for the BEST book of 2015, the award goes to ...

Did You Ever Have A Family by Bill Clegg

I can't even begin to describe this book. I know It is certainly not rare for a book to make me cry. But this, this book made me bawl. I listened to it on Audible and I listened to certain parts over and over again. 

The characters in this book live in a small town in Connecticut. They are torn apart when a fire takes the lives of  several of their loved ones and suddenly, instead of the wedding they had all been planning for, they are planning funerals. It's just a beautiful story about human beings and family. About people that we all know in our own lives, whose stories had me thinking, "Oh God, how I know that feeling." 


All I want to do now is reread these stories, but maybe I will give it a little more time. For now I'll just troll the "you might also enjoy" recommendations on Goodreads. 

The new year may start off a little slow in the book department thanks mostly to a couple of rooms that still need painting in the house and the fact that I've discovered Jane the Virgin, The Making of a Murderer and Transparent and the binging struggle is real... and there are mountains of new toys and crafts thanks to Santa that are begging to be played with. 

Here's to 2016! 

For more amazing lists, checking out Life According to Steph and Jana Says' Link Up today! 

Lights, Camera, California!

Let's take a break from books for a moment and focus on the next best thing: Movies.

There are a couple reasons we need to give movies some time to shine. 

First, I feel like the movie version of books get a bad rep. Usually, that's true. A lot of movies have been huge disappointments for me. Most notable: P.S. I Love You. I can't even talk about it. But there are some movies that are just made more beautiful because of the visual aspect the movies add. Call me cliche, but just look at The Notebook. If you did some research, you would be amazed how many movies were originally books.  

Secondly, movies are my mom's most favorite thing in the world (besides me of course). The gal knows her stuff too. She can rattle of the best of the best and loves to follow the films that are getting the most buzz. 

She's actually so in love with movies that she's made a name for herself as a movie critic on local news channels, hosts an annual film festival and scored herself a spot with the Broadcast Film Critics Association, which is the network behind the Critic's Choice Awards each year.

Which also means she gets to attend to the Critics Choice Awards show every year and dines with with the stars of the year's best movies. She's fancy, I tell ya. And guess who gets to be her date this year? You guessed it, this gal. 

That means Santa Monica, here we come! We're going to the Critic's Choice awards and the after parties AND we're stopping by the see our best friend, Ellen. 

Going to see a live taping of the Ellen show is something I never dared to imagine would happy to us and I am beyond excitement. I am checking their taping schedule everyday to see if they've updated the calendar so we will know who will be there for the show we are at. Talk about anticipation! 

Anyway, I wanted to share what movies my mom has chosen for THE movies to see this season and which ones she's predicting will be the big winners. 

Here are the trailers from her picks, enjoy! 

The Revenant with Leonardo DiCaprio 

The Danish Girl with Eddie Radmayne 

Joy with Jennifer Lawrence & Bradley Cooper 

And Her Best Picture Prediction: Spotlight
Starring Mark Ruffalo and Michael Keaton (plus many more) 

So yes, to say we are excited would be the understatement of our lives. 
And don't even get me started on the fact that this year, the Critic's Choice Awards includes television so all my favorite TV stars are going to be there as well. STOP. 

That's a whole other post! 

California, baby! 

Just Sit Down: A Mom Post

You know what is a lot easier than most moms let on? 

Spending time with your kids. Not just, everyone in the same room on their phones. I mean really, really spending time with them. 

I know mothering is hard. Hell, I can barely adult sometimes. But I know that most of the times, those mothers really aren't that stressed (unless they have some other underlying circumstances, of course, in which case- God bless them.) But forgive me for sounding like a snob. I really really know without a doubt that being a mother is the hardest, most challenging yet rewarding job that we will.ever.have. I know that. I live that. 

But just stop your day for 5 minutes and sit down with your kids. Man that sounds preachy. But first, before you do that, Mama, forgive yourself and let whatever is stopping you from sitting on the couch for a moment go. Let that shit go, I'm telling you. Because next year when you are taking yet another First Day of School picture and start to cry because they are growing up faster than your tears can keep up, you will wrap these little every day memories around you like a reassuring hug that will never let go. 

In that 5 minutes that I take to talk to my kids and spend time with them, I just feel better. Like I've had vitamins or a shot of Fireball. It just warms me up. They tell me about their days, they tell me jokes (that I've heard a hundred times) or they tell me something new they've learned that day. 

I'm not going to lie here, there are some days where I wonder, what are we going to talk about? But I have a few questions up my sleeve that I always use. I always ask them what they had for lunch that day at school and ask them to tell me something funny that happened. 

A couple of years ago, we started telling our "Pits and Peaks" of the day or week at the dinner table and those always lead to more conversation. It's always been my goal to have fun, interesting dinner conversation with my kids. I think talking about what happens in their day and feelings they've had makes them brighter and a lot more expressive. Usually, when we do our pits and peaks, it leads another one of us to remember a similar story and before we know it, we've chatted all through our meal. And actually, the more I think about it, my need for dinner conversation probably stems from my fear of hearing people chew and needing to cover up the sound. But still, it has all led to great things. 

I am not saying here that I pride myself on having a messy house because I am too busy playing with my kids. Not true. Trust me, they watch their fair share of Netflix. I even have a sign in my kitchen that says "Good moms have sticky floors, dirty ovens and happy kids." I'm pretty sure my mom gave it to me as a passive aggressive nudge to clean my house but it's still true. I've never cleaned my oven. But still, always, the dishes and the dusting waits. Always. Hell, maybe I will just give them the dust rag and we can do that together. 

Mug cakes on a Sunday night? Why. Not?

When it is possible, because let's be real, sometimes life just does not allow us to sit down and chat, I always use the time I can to be present and have meaningful time with my kids. They are 5 and 8 and CJ's girls are 4, 5 and 8 now and I fully believe that they will remember some of these moments and hopefully remember how engaged I was with them. I very well may be without pants or the kitchen is a mess but who cares? I made them giggle. I giggled back. We talk about how to be kind and how to better ourselves the next day. We learn about each other and we become friends. There is always time to take your busy mom hat off and just sit down to chat. 

This weekend, we spent an hour in the kitchen with the girls making Christmas cookies and had so much fun. Who cares if it was past "bedtime?" Who cares that there are mashed up pretzels for a little while on the kitchen rug or chocolate in their hair? Their smiles, though. You can't beat that.  

My Favorite Holidays Things and More Books

I'm going to tell you about a little story about the November that flew. Yes, literally flew. Right out the window, thru time and space. I don't even remember taking a breath in November. I remember suddenly being the mother of an 8 year old, having 30 people over for dinner and blindly ordering gifts off Amazon right and left, but that's about it. 

Somewhere in there, I did manage to read a few books and listen to a couple on the way to work every day as well, so here's a little about those: 

Wildflower by Drew Barrymore -I have always felt like Drew and I could be best friends if we had the chance to meet at this book just proves it even more. It's really not so much a book but rather a long afternoon lunch with Barrymore, who jumps from topic to topic in that excited way she talks during interviews. She covers many topics, including her father, her children and her life as a child star. It's light and airy, just like the cover. A quick and easy read that I really enjoyed.

Brooklyn - Read it on a Sunday afternoon and catch the movie when you can. It's a sweet story. 

Did You Ever Have A Family - If you read May We Be Forgiven and were as moved as I was by that story, this will have the same effect. 

Fates and Furies- Yes.  Just, yes. 

Besides reading by the fireplace and listening to Christmas music this time of year means many things to look forward to. A, it's getting close to the only time of year it is socially acceptable for me to listen to Millennium by Kenny G on repeat and wear house slippers as shoes. B, wrapping presents. I love wrapping presents.  All of these things give purpose to my days. I love shopping for the kids and anticipating the looks on their faces when they open them on Christmas...I love browsing Pinterest for recipes to cook  when family comes over...watching Home Alone and Love Actually. And quoting Elf and Christmas Vacation.  And the smell of a real Christmas tree. Oh, and wearing layers upon layers of sweaters, and plaid. I love plaid. 

Can December last just a little while longer, please? And can I have a little more free time to enjoy it so it doesn't fly by? I just need more time to enjoy mug cakes with the kids and running the fireplace all day. And if it does fly by, I reserve my right to keep the tree up and keep burning my "Christmas cookie" Yankee candle until March. 

Happy holidays, friends. 

Joyfully linking up with Steph and Jana for Show Us Book Tuesday

Book Round Up

Have you ever had a reading slump where you can't find that one book that holds your attention? That was me a couple of months ago and wouldn't you know, now all of the sudden there are so many books that I want to read, I can't keep up. 

Here are the books that I will be tackling during the holidays and the words in the descriptions that made me add them to my list: 

 "Heartbreak, brotherly love, human endurance." 

"Part dysfunctional love story, part poignant exploration of the mother-daughter relationship plus an ill-conceived Alaskan cruise" 

"The Middlesteins meets The Virgin Suicides, illuminating and whimsical"

"Wildly candid, poignant, intimate, and hilarious"

"A stylish psychological thriller bout marriage, murder and madness"

This weekend we finally got our Christmas tree up and decorated. I am so excited to finally have a real tree. It's absolutely beautiful and fits in our living room so perfectly. From the lights decorating the outside of the house to the garland on our mantle, I am so in love with our house this holiday season, I will never want to leave. Let alone take the decor down. At this rate, I may still have Christmas decorations up in May! 

Book Review: Did You Ever Have A Family

I knew I was going to love this book. Almost like when you know without a shadow of a doubt that the gift under the Christmas tree is the exact gift you have been pining after for months but you have to wait to unwrap it.

I saw this book in my "to-read" list for months and each time I saw it, a tingling started in the back of my brain in anticipation of reading it. I may have even prolonged reading it because I didn't want it to end, even before I had read the first page.

The characters in this book live in a small town in Connecticut. They are torn apart when a fire takes the lives of  several of their loved ones and suddenly, instead of the wedding they had all been planning for, they are planning funerals.

In their own words, mothers, fathers, lovers, friends and acquaintances share their stories of the loved ones they have lost. By coincidence, some of the characters end up in a tiny little hotel thousands of miles away and the story about how they are all connected made my heart do this funny little pitter patter as I read. 

And then just when you are wrapped up in the emotional roller coaster of everyone's sadness, you realize you also need to know how the fire started because you're looking for someone to blame for everyone's pain.

Just be warned. You'll need a comfy spot where you can read for hours because you won't want to put it down (or in my case, be able to stop listening to it) and also, because this book is sad, make sure you have Netflix on the ready so you can binge on some Friends or HIMYM to get your spirits back up. Warning, do not binge on Parenthood while reading this book. You will get a major case of the sads. 

But it's still worth it because I feel like we learn alot about ourselves when we experience another person's plight by listening to their stories. We put pieces together about things that are missing in our own lives or realize that our feelings aren't all together that different, which is comforting. 

It is always a good reminder that everyone else has a story and every person you pass in the grocery store is living a story you have no idea about, so always be kind. In my own life, this book made me take a deep breath in response to the things that I think are "going wrong" or the things/people that stress me out. In the long run and in comparison to the characters in this book, and the families who lose loved ones every day, my problems are minuscule. That is so grounding to remember. 

This is one of those books that makes me want to have coffee with its author and just listen to what led to the telling of the story and if there was inspiration from life behind it and what else he can tell me about the characters. So Bill Clegg, if you read this, let's grab a cup of joe and you can help me write my own powerful novel someday, what do you say? 

Turk the Carvey- Happy Thanksgiving!

Obviously, it's November so that means we have to talk about Thanksgiving. My dream has always been to host holiday get togethers for my family so as soon as we moved into our new house in August, I said I was going to host Thanksgiving dinner, no matter how many people could come. Usually, my family is spread all over and really, everyone does their own thing or visits their other side of the family, in-laws, etc. So I thought, MAYBE, I'd have 10 people over, tops.

Well, apparently everyone decided that this was the year we were all going to come together because they're all coming to my house. My mom, step dad, step brother, my sister and her family, grandmas, great grandmas, my aunt and her family, plus cousins from out of town. I'm getting giddy with excitement just thinking about it. I have literally ALWAYS wanted this exact thing to happen.

My recommendations for the menu if you have Grand Central Station coming to your house on Thanksgiving: The Must Haves: Pioneer Woman's Pecan Pie and Cranberry Sauce.  Plus a ham with pine apples and cherries, just like my mom used to make, green bean casserole and three kinds of corn. And grandma's  stuffing. And a couple mysterious jello molds.

And also, I have found that cooking a turkey is kind of like having a baby. Everyone has their own opinion on how you should birth it. In a roaster. In a bag. Fry it, baste it. Butter it to kingdom come.  I did the only thing I could think of, that you can't actually do if you are pregnant. I put the husband in charge. It's his only real responsibility that day. Other than make sure I don't drink too much wine before I bake the pies.

My other recommendations: I am glad I took the time to make sure the house stayed picked up and decorated before the holidays actually got here because in the craziness, those are the 2 things I would surely let fall by the wayside (like it does every other day of the week).

All my Pinterest projects are done, the floor has been treated and the windows are cleaned. So there should be no stress. I keep wanting to post about how CJ and I made these shelves together and I promise I will eventually. It was such a fun project and they were really easy. I knew the look I wanted for the shelves in the kitchen but I couldn't find them anywhere so, custom job, it was!  And the chalkboard word search art was a labor of love. I hand wrote all of the letters thanks to a very tedious grid CJ made with Scotch tape and then, of course, R1 rubbed all the chalk off and I had to redo the entire thing. Like I said, labor of love. The things I do because of Pinterest. Recommendation for these projects: Patience and determination.

Oh wait, I did find the perfect recipe to recommend for your turkey:

Turk the carvey! Happy Thanksgiving! 

Happy Birthday to my Best Friend, Ryder Cash

Every year when November 14th comes around, I start to feel all of these crazy emotions at once. It just really signifies the first real day of my life. 

When you become a mom, it's like someone gives you a pair of glasses for the first time and you can finally see. And you didn't even know you were blind before. 

I knew nothing before him. I didn't know unconditional love. I didn't know compassion. I didn't know patience. I didn't know where my spot was. 

His birthday is the day that I found all of those things. And now, 8 years later, he is my greatest accomplishment. He and his sister are my proudest moments. Never have I ever felt as proud as I do when I get to claim them as my own. 

I know all of these things now.

Why am I writing this in a blog post? Because no, he doesn't read this now. But hopefully, someday he will. He'll look through all of these posts and laugh and hopefully feel the love I pour into every word I write about him. 

He'll read about the time he broke my redneck wine glass and I hot crazy mad at him. He'll read about the time I stepped on his legos and almost died. He'll hopefully not kill me for posting about the time he accidentally pooped his pants at a friends house. 

He'll also get to see how many lessons he has taught me,  and how there's an actual list of things you have to duck from when you have a son

In the last 8 years I've called 911, been to the ER twice, been called by the principle, pulled out countless splinters, heard one too many butt jokes and skipped hundreds of bedtimes. And I'll never forget the day that he went missing when he decided to ditch daycare and walk home.

He continues to grow up into this amazingly smart, interesting, caring, crazy kid who lights up a room where ever he goes. He loves to read, draw, invent crazy contraptions and watch any sport he can get his hands on. He's all of these great little characteristics all rolled into one. 

There is never going to be a better  gift than being given the job as his mother. Luckiest girl in the world. 

I hope being 8 doesn't make him too old to want to hold my hand or cuddle in bed.

I hope his 8th year is just as exciting and fun and lively as he is. 

Here's to another year of being the best mom I possibly can be to the kid who made me believe in love, laughter and happily ever after. 

Show Us Your Books

Show Us Your Books: October, with Steph and Jana: 

Talk about your books, you ask? Well that's sure easy! Thanks Steph and Jana for having such a fun link up  and thanks to me, for FINALLY remembering to write a post for it. I seriously intend to recap the books I've read every month but I always forget and then face palm myself as soon as I see everyone else's posts. Seriously, this is the best way to add some great reads to your "to read" list so go check out the other bloggers' lists! 

This past month I found some really good ones, especially considered I spent most of the weeks leading up to Halloween reading  "Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark" with R1. Which I can't say I minded one bit! 

This doesn't really count since I just started it last night, but I wanted to share this beauty because I know I am going to love it: 

I'm super excited that she put some of ther quirkiness on a page. It's just a collection of her stories and memories about growing up in Hollywood. I think she is a truly grounded person who as flourished in her role as a mother. So far, sooo good! 

The Brockhurst File  I recieved from a blogger friend and I was super excited to get started on, mostly because I am addicted to shows like Forensic Files and 20/20. I have to say that even though I wanted it to sweep me away, just like How To Get Away With Murder does every Thursday, this just didn't do it for me. I think maybe it was the onslaught of several characters that you meet within the first pages that made it hard to keep straight. But if you can get thru the confusion of the first couple chapters, it has a creative storyline. 

After You by Jojo Moyes  - I literally flew through this one. You can read my review to get my full opinion but if you read the first book, Me Before You, then it's a natural progression to read the follow up story. I wasn't disappointed! 

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff: I listened to this on Audible. This is a book with 2 parts but many, many layers. It's a page turner with crazy twists that gives the reader insight that we unfortunately are denied in real life. The characters and loathing and lovable, an addicting combination. Great read.

I posted my review for Brooklyn yesterday. I was said to see it end and said that it didn't have way more details but I still loved it. I love the era, the setting, the characters. Everything. Seriously excited to see the movie! 

Life According to Steph

Life According to Steph  & Jana Says 

I can't wait to see what everyone else has been reading! 

Something I Never Thought I'd Say...

This picture is by far one of the my favorite serendipitous moments...

How put together I am, drinking my morning coffee on a calm, quiet morning, sitting at my clean kitchen bar, reading a book and all of the sudden, I look down and notice that my coffee mug and book match... How perfect is that?

Who am I kidding. We all know that I went searching for that exact mug in the cabinet and placed it perfectly next to my book and even held down the corner of the book because it was bent up and looked a little wonky. But dang it, is that not a cute as hello photo? 

But I really did drink the coffee and I really did sit and read, so that counts. 

Anyway... the point is, I read a book this week and wanted to share. Mostly because something has happened to me that has never, ever happened before.

The book, Brooklyn by Colin Toibin, is short and sweet. I knew half way through that it was too short to be a really great saga, which is what I love. The story had potential to be really intense and very involved.

So on to the thing I've never done before. I am never a huge fan of the movie editions of books. I am always the proprietor of reading the book first and seeing the movie just as a cherry on top. HOWEVER- this is a first for me. Even though this book was good, it was a little boring. For the first time ever, I am more excited to see the movie than I was about the book. Crazy, I know! Just watch the trailer to see what I am talking about: 

Eilis is a very traditional Irish girl in the late 1940s. She lives with her mother and sister and has just gotten her first job in a popular market store. I loved the descriptions of her job, the traditional Irish town, the dialogue and the storytelling. It was smooth, interesting and very easy to read. 

She goes with her friends one evening to a dance hall and meets a boy named Tony. He's Italian, funny, interesting and Eilis finds herself falling love. I really liked their fun courtship, it was cute in a way that all relationships in the 50s were what I imagined them to be. 

But then suddenly Eilis has the opportunity to go to America...a friend of the family suggests that there is better opportunity in New York and arranges her to live in a boarding house and work in a department store. And boom, she's off. A new life, a new future.

But I kept waiting and waiting for more...I kept waiting for Tony to fight more for her to stay. What a huge life changing decision to be made...and I thought it wasn't enough of a big deal in the book. 

She makes a life-changing promise to Tony before she leaves...and of course, as love stories go...her heart changes once she goes to America...

She flourishes in American and eventually begins to love her new life, her friends, her job...and of course, then comes a handsome man named Jim. 

I did still enjoy the book, because I wanted more details, I have to say, I'm going to enjoy the movie even more... 

What's next: Currently, I am reading Wildflower by Drew Barrymore and these 2 beauties I picked up at Target this weekend: 

Review: After You by JoJo Moyes

Let's talk about a really good book, okay? 
And you know what's better than a really good book? TWO really good books. 

There aren't that many great sequels in books. It's a lucky of draw, just like movies. 

A couple years ago, I sat crying my eyes out while reading Me Before You by JoJo Moyes, After that, I obsessively read her others, The Last Letter from Your Lover, One Plus One and The Girl You Left Behind 

I LOVED Me Before You. It was such a compassionate, non-traditional love story. I love the stories where you don't think love is even possible but then suddenly, it's there, right in front of the character and you're as happy for them as you would be if you yourself had just found the love of your life. 

After You was a little bit a curve ball, especially after the page turner of its precursor. I hated finding Louisa Clark so sad and broken at the start of the book, but I don't know why I expected any less. (I won't put any spoilers in this so you can read Me Before You, but I'll just say that you shouldn't expect flowers and sunshine right away.)

Louisa isn't fighting to be happy. She's being a bump on a log, as my mom used to say to me when I was pouting. She's just getting by. Gloomy. She's no longer the quirky girl with the interesting wardrobe. She's just sad. So it took a while for me to get into After You, but I am glad I stuck around because there's a curve ball that made things quite interesting. 

What would you do if life was asking you to keep holding on to something in your past? What if the one thing you were holding on to made it impossible for you to move on? 

I think Louisa is an interesting character because she's alive, but she's got this dead soul, and slowly, during After You, it starts stirring and slowly, you see her come back again. She was such an interesting character at the beginning of Me Before You. She's a very transitional character. It was such a relief to see her come back again in the sequel. 

Anyway, I feel like I am rambling but here's the deal. If you've read Me Before You and loved it, you'll need After Me to tie up the loose ends and check in on Louisa, because there's no way you didn't fall in love with her. If you haven't read it, then go ahead and tackle it, because it's just one of those love stories you need to read. 

Happy Reading! 

Our Halloween Weekend

I just love a good holiday weekend. The buzz of what's to come, the anticipation of all the Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and the Sixlets. I just love Halloween. This year was perfect. The weather was chilly enough to wear a jacket but not too cold to have to go home early. There were so many happy kids running around town...

This year was a bit different because instead of trick or treating, R1 chose deer hunting with his dad. That's a true sign that's he's growing up. Way too fast, if you ask me, but I know he had a blast. And his little sister didn't mind asking everyone for "Extra candy for my brother" (candy which I doubt he will ever actually get to eat). She's a smart girl, that one. 

R2 hit her costume out of the park this year. She may have had a little help from her dear old mama but we sure had fun with it. Earlier this year, we had a debacle with a cat and ended up having 6 kittens running around our house, prompting the kids to give me the loving nickname "Crazy Cat Lady" which inspired her getup this year. We took her bath robe, covered it in cats, put her hair up in curlers, gave her a cane and some old lady glasses and voila- a cuter-than-you-know-what Crazy Cat Lady. And of course she asked me to be one of her cats and how could I say no? 

Our town has a really fun Halloween parade and costume contest and when they called her name for 1st Place in her age group, I thought her smile was going to bust off of her face. It was the best feeling ever to watch her beam with pride. Her prize was a giant snow globe with haunted house and bats the flew around it. She carried it around all night and showed everyone. It was the best. We were able to trick or treat, sit on our porch and hand out candy to other trick or treaters and then go out for some more candy. It was perfect. We ended the night in front of the fireplace reading spooky stories in our pjs. Perfection. 

R2 and I also stopped by R1's school's Halloween party to help with some of the games. He made one scary Zombie Football Player. 

We spent the rest of the weekend excitedly watching the Royals, eating candy, playing with left over Halloween make up, and a little bit of reading, naturally. 

It was finally cool enough outside to test the fireplace out for the first time and I can't say I minded one bit. Cozy with a capital "I'm not moving from this couch."
Up next, I'm heading to Kansas City for Go Blog Social's event, Shout Love for Bo with my sister's organization, Go Shout Love. I'm super excited to meet some amazing bloggers and help my sister spread the news about her amazing mission. 

Going to KC also means a sleepover with my mom and sister. And sushi. And wine. Excited much? You betcha.