What's Up In Our Neck O' the Woods

Things that have been going on lately? Pure craziness. Last Wednesday, after rewarding myself with a winey Wednesday glass of cheap moscato, I couldn't believe the week was already half over and now it's NEXT Wednesday and where in the heck is time going? 

The Kids
This week R2 started "gyn-nastics" and tonight made it about 3 feet up the rope before realizing everyone was watching her. As she gets older, I keep noticing how much she is like me. She suffers from a lot of the self consciousness that I did as a kid, and STILL do, unfortunately. I make an effort to build her self-esteem because I know how that feels and I want her to be confident and not feel like she has to hold back. Climb that rope, little girl! 

She's also READING sight words, which is music to my ears. 

This weekend there were a couple hours where the sun was shining so we hustled outside and went for a hike. Weirdly enough, we ended up finding tons of tiny sea shells in the dirt on the hill behind our house. Legends of mermaids and ocean monsters from many years ago ensued. Their imaginations make me so happy. It was the perfect of days. 

The Oscars 
I have loved reading everyone's reactions about the Oscars. I know this is old hat by now but I am still thinking about Lady Gaga and and man I hope I age like Julie Andrews. Jared Letto looks like Jesus, I want to be best friends with Emma Stone, Jennifer Aniston is perfection and Rhiannah is WAY too saucy to be wearing such a cupcake dress. 

The Podcasts
Podcasts I've been listening to and you should too: This American Life, Death, Sex & Money and Criminal

The Books
I'm reading Funny Girl by Nick Hornby still and I've been a little bored. Next is The Scarlet Sisters. CJ is reading Crash and Burn by Lisa Gardner and says it's a must read for the psychological thriller lovers out there.

In other news, I wanted to share a little project I decided to take on. I created a That's What She Read Pinterest board for all things books. Follow along for book recommendations, gift ideas for bookworms, literary quotes and everything else I can find! 

This week I came across a couple of things in life that really stopped me in my tracks. Do you ever get a little crazy mad over something and then a day later feel so incredibly silly for getting so upset? Yeah, I was there. Life is so funny because one minute you're on the crazy train and the next, you calmly step off the platform and get back into the flow of things, with your wits about you again as if nothing was amiss. Nothing a little Sleepytime Tea can't fix...

And then your blog friends/soulmates send you this and magically everything is okay again:

And yes, that's a macaroni and cheese ring with a spoon in it. Life is good, yo. 

We also have TiVo in this house. I know it's old news for most people but knowing I will never again miss an episode of Jimmy Fallon, Catfish and Investigation Discovery makes this introvert the happiest of happiest. 

Dear Lucy: A Naptime Note

Today, my sister is taking over TWSR to share a note she wrote to her toddler, Lucy Wynn. I couldn't wait to share this sweet, loving letter because it touches on so many emotions us moms face every day. It's a beautiful thing when we try to do the impossible by writing our feelings down and try to find words that describe how we feel about our children. 

Here's my sister: 

Dear Lucy,

Right now you are sound asleep in my bed and I should be working. I found myself starring at you thinking a million thoughts and I thought I would just type them out so you can read them someday.

I knew I would love you instantly, but I never knew how powerful that love would be. When you were a newborn I used to wake up and look at you and think ‘I can’t believe I have this life with her. You will always be that piece of my soul that was missing when I was out searching.

I want you to know what love is. I try every single day to show it to you. Not just my love, but other’s as well. There is love everywhere! You just have to search for it! It’s in places that you wouldn’t think it would be either! Soup kitchens, hospitals, homeless shelters…it’s really everywhere. If there is something I’ve learned in this life it is that you don’t need a lot to make you happy. You just need love.

I hope you have the first love. The love that consumes your every emotion and makes you think you have it all figured out.

I hope you have the bad love. The love that you fall into and regret but the love that takes you to new places.
I hope you have the unconditional love. The love I have for your Dad. The earth moving, passionate, amazing and best friend love that you can only feel and not explain.
I hope you have our love. I hope God gives your babies to love like I’ve loved you. I hope you can look at your baby the way I look at you.

I want you know that your family will never leave you. You have grandparents that shine when you are around. You bring out the joy in so many people. We are a team in raising you and we will do our best to keep you safe.

I want you to know that bad days SUCK. It’s that simple. You will have them. You will feel defeated and like the whole world is against you. When that happens come to me. This morning was a tough so we are having lunch with your Grammy. Sometimes you just need your mama and I’m so lucky to be yours.

Your feet are starting to twitch which means you are about to wake up, so I should wrap this rambling up. (I hope you wake up in a better mood by the way) I love you duckling. This life with you…It’s TRULY something I can’t put into words. You have changed my heart and centered my mind. I’ve never loved another human the way I love you…I’m not sure I ever will. When your world goes crazy and you question everything, please know that you’re Dad and I right here with open arms. Thank you Lucy for changing me and giving me this life. You are everything.


A quick note: 

My sister didn't ask me to do this but I had to share another thing about her (besides her ability to be an amazing mama and the best sister a gal could ask for). She's also partner to an amazing organization called Go Shout Love. Jessica and another mama get amazing Esty shops together for online auctions and make custom t-shirts in order to donate money to families with little ones facing critical health issues. It has been my pleasure to watch Go Shout Love grow into the impactul organization that it is today. To learn more and follow along on their journey in changing lives and touching hearts, find them here: 

Book Round Up: Historical Non-Fiction Edition

I was having trouble coming up with ideas on what to read to check "Historical Non-Fiction" off my Book Challenge list. 

Here's some of the books that stood out to me on the lists and lists of non-fiction must-reads that I found online

Story:  The murder of four family members in a brutal shooting in Kansas on NovemAber 15, 1959. Truman Capote reconstructs the murder and the investigation that led to the capture, trial, and execution of the killers. As an obsessed water of Investigation Discovery and Dateline, I don't know why I haven't read this classic by now. 

A discovery of child survivors of the Holocaust and their lives after the war: How they survived, how their adulthood was affected and what their memories of the war mean to them. 

Three women largely forgotten by history: Jacquetta, Duchess of Bedford; Elizabeth Woodville, queen of England; and Margaret Beaufort, the founder of the Tudor dynasty.
Philippa Gregory uses actual documents and dives into the histories of these women to create this biographical account of their lives.

Two sisters who changed the landscape for women in the nineteenth century. They were crusaders for womens' rights, paved the way for open conversations about sex, politics and independence.  Victoria Woodhull and Tennessee "Tennie" Claflin are described as scandalous, fierce, smart and industrialists. Victoria was the first woman to run for president, Tennie ran for Congress. They were real estate tycoons and famous on Wall Street. It's a must read, in my opinion. 

I was just looking for one book, but these are all so good I may just read them all. 

I've also  been obsessed with more podcasts lately. My favorites this week and last are Criminal, Death, Sex & Money and Invisibilia.

What's been catching your attention lately? 

What You Should Know by the Time You're 29

Today is my birthday...so in honor of my last year in my 20s, I bring you: 

How to style dirty hair

How to make a mean pot of chicken noodle soup 

How to handle passive aggressiveness in others (just smile and nod)

How to start a hobby and actually keep it. 

Appreciate sushi (whether you like raw fish or not). 

To never ever assume a woman is pregnant and congratulate her on her baby. 

That some people just aren't going to like you and long as you're genuine, there's nothing you can do about it, and that's okay. 

Your mother was probably right about a lot of things.

Your mother was wrong about a couple of things.

The correct use of your and you're. If you're doing it wrong, your grammar sucks. 

Binge watching Netflix and not changing out of sweatpants over the weekend is completely acceptable. 

Thank you cards are important. 

And so is returning your library books. 

Pay your parking tickets. They keep track of that shit. 

Your smile says a thousand words. Use it even when you think no one is looking at you. 

Remember birthdays. 

When there's a $2.00 movie, you go. Even if it's on a school night. 

Let your kids make your birthday cakes. Even if they are all frosting and sprinkles, the smiles on their faces are totally worth it.

Hot tea is the cure for many, many things. 

Sometimes, all you need is a red cart, a Starbucks and a $1 bin to make everything feel okay for just a little bit. 

Things to splurge on: toilet paper, candles, tennis shoes, hardcover books and really good pens. 

Mentally walk a mile in everyone's shoes. Empathy goes a long way. 

Never fry bacon in the nude. 

In fact, never fry bacon. Bake it on aluminum foil in the oven, broil to crisp it. It works like a charm. 

Know when to apologize and learn to do it well.

When you get a second chance, you take it. 

How be to gracious.

How having patience always pays off. 

The housework can wait. 

And that's all I can think...for now. 

Show US Your Books: January

Life According to Steph

I love this link up!

I've hit a slower couple of weeks with reading this month, mostly because time is flying by and when my head hits the pillow at night, instead of staying up another hour to read,  I pass out like a light!

I am finishing up The Rosie Effect right now. After falling head over heels with Rosie and Don in The Rosie Project, I couldn't wait for their "part 2" to come out. But I have to say, even though I love envisioning Don as Sheldon from Big Bang Theory, this sequel just doesn't have the cuteness factor that Rosie Effect gave me. It's just a typical part 2 and I think the whole "Don's quirky and OCD and clueless" thing is getting pushed a little too hard. I plan on skipping ahead a couple chapters tonight and finishing it. I know it's a no no but I can't help it. I have books upon books to read and this one just isn't holding my attention! I will definitely see the movie if it ever comes out!

I finished The Girl on the Train last month, you can read my review here. And I really enjoyed it. It's also coinciding with my new obession over Cold Justice on TNT

My book challenge is still going strong. I tried to listen to a historical non-fiction about the Kennedys on audiobook but I got really distracted by  a ton of new podcasts so I haven't finished it. 

Do you have any suggestions on autobiographies I should read?

My next book this month is: Funny Girl by Nick Hornby, which I know I've mentioned before and I should have read it by now, but seriously, someone give me the gift of more time! 

Last week, I also re-read some Pippy Longstocking with R2. It's so magical now that she can identify letters. She loves to point out all of the Rs on the page and every time she sees an "M" she says "look, Mommy, your name is in der!" And I die of the cuteness.

What were your books for January? What are you reading now?  

Book Review: The Girl On The Train

If you follow  top book lists, you've more than likely heard of

If you still have a book hangover from Gone Girl like I do, you'll be happy about this twisted story. It's gritty, mean, obsessive and dark, just like Amy Dunn. Although it didn't get my heart racing, (a little too vague at some points) it did have twists that left me stunned.  

Rachel is an alcoholic. A sad, lonely woman who tortures herself by riding a train everyday and looking out the window at her ex-husband's house. The house that used to be theirs together, only now it's him inside with his new wife, and their baby. And she's just a girl on a train. 

She watches them, knows they had a baby girl because of the new pink curtains in the window. She can see them laughing and playing on the patio. And even though it kills her, she still watches them every day. She even starts daydreaming about the lives of their neighbors, a happy looking couple a few patios down. 

I think it's about 4 train rides in when I start to realize how many screws loose Rachel actually has. She doesn't really have a job in the city. That's just what she tells her roommate so she won't get kicked out of her apartment. She really walks around, drinks gin and tonics from a can and obsesses about her ex husband. When Rachel drinks, she awakens this sad monster that's an even worse off version of her sober self. Her marriage failed, she thinks, because of her drinking and the rage that her husband said ruined their life, lost their friends and killed their chances of having children. Everything wrong with her life is Rachel's own fault. 

Rachel's drinking gets so out of control that she can't tell if her memories of her past actually happened, or were just drunken nightmares. Which is just fine to her, until the neighbor girl on the patio, Megan, disappears. Just days after Rachel sees her hugging a man that is not the same man that's been living in the house with her. Rachel starts seeing news about her on tv. As Megan's disappearance grows into an obsession for her,  Rachel becomes even more obsessed with her ex-husband as well. To her, to two neighbors are very tangled and it's as if Rachel thinks she can force herself into existence in their lives. At one point, she even walks into her ex's house and takes the newborn  baby, walking out the door and down the street before the wife chases her down. She starts going to the same shrink that Megan went to, and begins a twisted relationship with the rebreaved husband. 

Because Rachel has clearly lost her mind, it's hard to trust her a narrator. There were some points of the book I literally felt lost, but I think that's one of the smartest things an author can do. I was just as lost as the characters in the book. But then piece by piece, her memories of her past become a little more clear and she realizes that the nightmares may have actually been reality. 

There's a twisted reason why Rachel is so confused, why she is obsessed with these two families and the houses she sees as she goes by on the train.

Read it to find out and enjoy the ride.