Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Book Gift Guide

I'm giving quite a few books this year (duh).

Here are my favorite (and, I think, gift worthy) books that I read in 2014.

These aren't books that came out in 2014, so this may or may not feel relevant in your world. But, it's relevant here in my little world and isn't that what blogging is all about?

Behold, my favorite books that I read this year:

This book is like a blanket. Or a hug. Or warm coffee on a crisp morning. Or just something you really would enjoy. This book is that. 

Still probably one of my favorite stories ever. 

A close race with "Me Before You" for first place in the love genre for me. I still get chills when I think of the ending. That's probably pretty dramatic, but who are we kidding? I've always had a flair for the dramatics. 

Once I got into this one (and it took me a little bit...) I could NOT. STOP. READING. IT. I still think about it. I also never want to send my kids to school. An important book but also a gripping page turner. Not to mention the writing is incredible. Winner. Although, be careful whom you gift this to. It's about a sensitive subject and one that many people harbor strong feelings towards. Tread lightly. 

And here is one more that I haven't read, but is on my short list. It's on a ton of lists this year as one of THE books to read and gets some pretty rave reviews. I can't personally recommend it, of course - but it's worth mentioning. 

Happy Reading! I'd love to know which books you're gifting this year (or which books you've added to your wish list!) and what your favorite reads of 2014 were! Geek out with me! 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Crosby at 8 Months

Poor, sweet third child. I just realized yesterday that I didn't even save the outfit that I brought him home from the hospital in. Nor can I remember which outfit it was. Whoops. I suppose therapy makes you a better person. 

I'm going to briefly cover months 4, 5, 6 and 7 because we are now past the 8th month mark and I can barely remember anything. 

Month 4:

Crosby started tripod sitting! He also was sleep trained this month and began going from nursing approximately 12 times a night to just once. I'm now a much happier mother. Crosby also officially rolls at this point and will not stay on his back for anything, including sleep. He's lucky he's my third child because I'm not nearly as nervous about this as I would have been with Maxton. 

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Look at that cute baby. That's what we call him. Cute baby. Like... why won't cute baby stop crying? And, what shall we give cute baby for dinner tonight? 

Month 5:

I believe this is when we embarked on solids. Also, full time sitting! Tummy time and being put down ever is not enjoyable for Crosby at this age. Also, this was the time that we discovered that he wasn't really gaining weight. He also didn't love to eat solids, so that wasn't especially helpful. Lots of stress and worry about his heart since weight loss or no weight gain is a sign of trouble. He had no other signs of concerns at that point, but still. WORRY. You don't generally worry about things as much with each child (or I don't anyway) but when your baby has something that you haven't experienced with all of your other children, you worry like he's your first. Anyway, lots of weight checks and Dr visits and waiting and trying to feed him solids that he gags and vomits from. But we're still sleeping and sitting and having to hold him all the live long day. 

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Rosy cheeked and darling. 

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Month 6:
Crosby remembered that eating all night long was glorious and fattening him up so he went back to waking frequently. I was feeling so stressed about his weight gain that I couldn't let him cry so I fed him every time he woke. That quickly spiraled into about every 1.5-2 hours. My timing is fuzzy on this though... I think this went on for about a month? Anyway, he was checked and he had lost weight right before all of this happened so I just know I was down to feed him whenever. We also started baby led weaning for feeding since he blatantly prefers to feed himself. He'll now eat beans and peas and rice and bananas and avocados and all sorts of things as long as he is in charge of putting them in his mouth. The inability to put him down is now in full force. I carry him ALL DAY LONG. I chant things like, "the days are long, the years are short" and, "he's my third.. I know this won't be like this forever" and, "one day I'll wish for this back" while I try to hold it together. Not putting a baby down ever is pretty much exhausting. But so is listening to him scream if I attempt anything without holding him, so usually I just hold him or sit next to him while he plays. Thank God he naps well. Two naps, one around 9 am for 1.5-3 hours and another one around 1pm for another 1.5-3 hours, depending on the day. He's starting to get up on all fours and scoot backwards. He's REALLY good at watching Christmas movies with me. 

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This is because I'm not holding him. 

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It got worse because I continued to not hold him. 

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This one is because he likes to make a liar out of me. 

7 Months:

He had his heart checked and it was FINE! Well, not fine, but not any worse than usual, so YAY! His lack of fattiness was not due to his heart. AND, he had gained 1/2 a pound. It was a great day. So, we went back to sleep training and now he's back to just one feeding a night. We keep upping the solids and I feed him very frequently during his waking hours. He's trying really hard to army crawl and he squeaks and babbles and makes loud noises almost constantly. He's our loudest child and that is really saying something. 

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Picking his pumpkins. 

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Eating his broccoli! He LOVES broccoli! 

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We don't call him cute baby for no reason. 

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This is a picture of him being very very loud. Can't you hear him? He's saying, "fuggedabout it...."

Hot damn, I love this kid. Before I put him in bed I cradle him and sing to him and he is so calm and sweet and gurgles little baby loves at me and I think it's not possible to love someone as much as I love him. He is baby gold. 

What I Read: November

I had a really hard time getting into this one until about page 75.. then I read the rest in one day. I could. not. stop. reading. And, it's one of those books where I'm going to be all depressed that it's over because I feel like I lost the people from my life when the story ended. I want to keep reading about them. If you like mystery, love, all with a bit of life is really effed up sometimes then this is for you. It's YA (young adult) just so there's no confusion. 

I really, really wanted to love this book. Or even just like it. It's about 400 pages and it took me until about page 350 to be interested enough to WANT to keep reading. It's post apocalyptic, which is generally not my thing but it's not exactly doom and gloom. It's probably beautifully written in a way that's super uninteresting to someone like me (read that as... I'm probably not smart enough to like this book). I've been starting to feel badly that the only books I enjoy are the ones that are so enthralling that I cannot put them down. I WANT to like more challenging books that I have to sort of work my way through. I want to savor books and enjoy them slowly. So, I tried very hard to enjoy this book. And, I just didn't. I'm glad I read it to sort of prove to myself that I could get through it. Go, me. 

After all that seriousness from "Station Eleven", I needed something easy and fun. This was definitely that. It made me want to watch 30 Rock and all of the skits of Tina Fey being Sarah Palin on SNL. I laughed and didn't cry. It was perfect.

Maybe someday I'll blog about something other than what I'm reading. Although, that would seriously cut into my reading time. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

What I Read: October

I was SO excited to read this book. The story of a husband and wife opening a pizza restaurant in... Seattle! So, of course Ritchie and I went on a date there after I read it. Delicious and fun because I felt like I had the inside scoop. The writing for me was just ok and it's certainly not a gripping story, but it was enjoyable and easy to read. I found it interesting to read all about how they acquired the space and renovated it on a budget, etc. Fun read!

The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion 

This was my book club book for October and I loved it! It turned out to be an awesome choice for discussion because there's so much in this book that leads to other topics. Anyway, such a fun, sweet story with rich characters. I love that it was a book I would have never chosen and I really loved it. I'd like to try "Fried Green Tomatoes" now because it's by the same author.

The Farm

What a creepy book. Riveting. I couldn't put it down. But... it was more of the NEED to know what happens than actually enjoying it. I don't think I liked it. I'm learning that I can enjoy an intense book, but there are certain issues that just register more with me and it's hard for me to read about those. This book had some of that going on. I'm being cryptic, I guess. I don't want to give anything away! If you like suspense and don't mind creep factor, give it a whirl!

The Husband's Secret

A few months ago, I read "What Alice Forgot" and I've been recommending it to everyone ever since. I loved it! "The Husband's Secret" is by the same author, so I was excited to read it.  It didn't grab my attention as quickly as "What Alice Forgot" did, but it was enjoyable and made me think a lot about life's path and how our choices play into the cards we're dealt sometimes. The epilogue is really important to read if you read this story as (for me) it was very redeeming. Without it, the whole basis for the story seemed far-fetched. Anyway, not my fav, but good enough.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

Another book that I had heard rave reviews about and was just "meh" for me. The narrator is a young boy with autism and it's essentially his quest to find out who killed his neighbor's dog. It's really interesting from the perspective of hearing the thoughts of a person who thinks differently than you might, but I just found it really hard to get invested. I'm not sure why. I think it might have been the wrong time for me to read this one. You know how you could pick up a book and struggle with it but then devour it and love it a few months/years later when you try again? I forced my way through this one, but I'm not sure it's the book's fault. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Maxton is FIVE.

I mean, really. Could we just SLOW things down a little bit here? My oldest guy turned FIVE last week. FIVE. FIVE. Are the caps making you realize how dramatic that is? He's old. He's officially crossed over into the land of kid. One more year until Kindergarten and then he's basically graduating high school and leaving me forever. I can't handle it, guys. It's too much, too fast.

Okay, meltdown over (for now). We decided to do 5 up right and take the fam to Disneyland. Disneyland is up there with boots and sweaters in the fall and Christmas trees with twinkly lights and banana splits with REAL hot fudge. It's one of the best places in the world to me. I was giddy, like a, well, 5 year old over going there and witnessing my kids experience it was like heaven. I told Ritchie I was going to feel depressed after our trip because I was SO looking forward to it and it would be all over, but I'm not. I'm still remembering it and loving our memories.

Anyway! That's another blog post. Here's how we celebrated Max sprinkled in with some fun Max facts:

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We started off with pizza (pepperoni with no cheese please for this 5 year old) and a "spicable me minion cake" with his Papa and Mimi and Uncle Andrew and Rusty.  This was the best we could do on that one....

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Max has been obsessed with Despicable Me (both 1 and 2) and everything that goes along with it. He speaks minion, he owns a fart blaster (thanks, Gillettes!) and he's constantly quoting the movies.

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His favorite gifts were anything "shooter" related, legos and money (with which he bought more "shooters" and more legos). Smart child (on the money part... the shooter thing is also a whole other blog post)

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On his actual birthday we were in Disneyland! We did a character breakfast and enjoyed his favorite rides which were the Haunted Mansion, Toy Story Mania and Buzz's Astro Blasters.

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My fantastic friend Kirstie joined us with her two sons. Roman is almost 5 and he and Max get along swimmingly.

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Max is a creature of habit. He loves oatmeal with honey and cinnamon and peanut butter toast with honey and cinnamon as well. He despises clothing that is at all fancy or buttons or is a puffy vest. T-shirts and comfy pants for this kid. He's a negotiator and a talker (He gets that from Ritchie... obvs) and sometimes I understand why my parents used to ask me if my jaw hurt when I was his age. Kid can TALK. He's competitive and loyal and prefers a few close friends over lots of people. He's still not independent whatsoever. He'd rather have you play right along side of him then alone, any day.

Max is SO CLOSE to reading. He can count to 100 (+) and do a plethora of coloring/cutting/gluing activities. He likes it when we do our "school" together. I think he just likes being together, but I'm hoping that this will all translate well in Kindergarten next year.

He loves playing games on the iPhone and watching movies, but also builds legos like it's going out of style and plays many different variations of "running games". Imagine him running in a circle and you get the game.

He hates most food but likes most people. He can make me melt and make me crazy all within minutes. I couldn't love him more. I think he's smart and funny and sweet and hopeful. I love his wit and determination and smile. When he hugs you or says he loves you, it's because he means it whole heartedly because he's not overly affectionate usually. It's something special when he loves on you. I soak it up.

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Max, buddy, I know you're all in a hurry to grow up, but maybe you could slow it down just a little bit? We'd all appreciate that....

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

What I Read: September

This was truly the month of Young Adult literature for me, but that's ok! I can embrace my love of YA. "Wonder" has been on my list since I joined a book club in Colorado - probably about 2 years ago! It's the story of August, a child with a severe facial deformity who is entering his first year of public school after years of being homeschooled. So heartbreaking and warming all at once. A bit predictable, sure, but still really enjoyable. As far as YA's go, this was REALLY YA, I would say a 6th grader could easily read it and enjoy it just as much as I did, so there's that. Don't expect anything terribly deep or a challenging read and you'll probably enjoy it! 

Another YA technically, BUT I recently heard a discussion about this book that was asking the question of whether just because a book has young adults as the main character does that make it a YA? Or rather can an adult fiction book be based on the lives of teenagers? I would thing this falls into the later category. I would never allow my teen to read this, let's put it that way.  There are a lot of really mature themes running through this book, but mostly it is a love story. I've joked recently that I only love books that are depressing but I think that I love books that are REAL. This story was really real. It's a teenage love story. Those rarely end well, as most of us know. But, you love them both and Eleanor is a true heroine. I really loved this book. 

Another Rainbow Rowell book! This was cute and funny and easy to read. Nothing earth shattering, but super enjoyable. 

What a haunting book. At first, I wasn't sure I could read it. The narrator is a 5 year old boy who was born to a woman who's been held captive for 7 years by her kidnapper. The only life he's known is within the walls of the room they're locked in. It's an amazingly well written book. The voice of the child is so well done. But, it's disturbing. I have a hard time with kidnapping/rape themes in general so that might be a personal issue for me, but just a warning that the content is intense and can be extremely difficult to read. I also didn't sleep the night I finished because I couldn't stop thinking about it. So, I don't know if I liked this book or not! I blew through it because I HAD to know how it ended for my sanity and it's incredibly well done, BUT it's not enjoyable? I don't know. Yes, I liked it but I also kind of hated it for its content. Helpful? No? 

Such a thought provoking and gripping novel about a woman who is diagnosed with early onset dementia. It's so real and makes you feel all the feelings. Also, because I'm a huge freak, I've been convinced I have this also. Well, okay - maybe I'm just not sleeping and I have 3 young children. Either way, you should read this. 

My goal for October? Keep it LIGHT!! Too many depressing books this month. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Bennett Turns 3!

Little Mr. Ben. A whole 3 years ago I was snuggling my chubby second baby. He has grown so quickly. Too quickly. He still requires too little sleep for his mama's liking. He's up with sun with lots of energy everyday. He has an intense love of television and snacks and things that go. Right before he turned 3 he decided he wanted a Hulk birthday cake (it was his only request) and so we ran with it and did a Hulk themed celebration for our special 3 year old.

We started out with a family celebration at Chuck-E-Cheese. The kids had SO much fun there, it was sort of unbelievable. They've been asking to go back EVERY day since.

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We stopped for cupcakes on the way there (we knew we'd have a cake at his party on the weekend, so we wanted something easier for our small celebration) and the choice was froggies or cookie monster. Ben told me he wanted cookie monster so I got 4 of them. THE WHOLE WAY to Chuck-E-Cheese he cried and cried because I did not get the frogs. Ahh, 3 year olds. It was a true grand entrance into this territory of being 3. Tumultous? Yes. Adorable and loving? Absolutely!

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He loved his hulk costume and hulk smash fists.

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Even Crosby enjoyed Chuck-E-Cheese!

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Over the weekend of B's birthday, my mom was in town and we, along with the Gillette's, went bowling. Bennett was sort of iffy about bowling (but he was sort of iffy about anything) so he was in a bit of a bad mood. It was a bummer, but I think overall he had a good time. If you ask him about it, he'll say he loved it!

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The kids scored just as well if not better than the adults thanks to this handy little ball guide gadget.

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We're thrilled to be able to celebrate with our great friends this year!! It's a first of many :)

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My new favorite family shot! It's SO hard to get 5 people to look semi happy and decent. Score!

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These kids... I love them all. But, this photo is PROOF that Crosby looks like Ben (haha!!)

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His Hulk cake! Thank goodness 3 year olds don't care what their cakes look like! Box cake for the win!

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Oh, Bennett. Your whole family loves you SO much. You're fun and loving and a great mix of sweet and spunk. Watching you grow is one of my greatest joys. I love you!

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