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!