A Look at Books in 2014

It's New Year's Eve- how is that even possible! 
I want to talk real quick about the books I've read this year. I thought I had read a  TON because there were a million top picks running through my head but after looking at the list, I realized I barely read 30 books this year, which is really not like me at all! Probably something to do with the fact that I managed to get engaged, elope and move all in 6 months...all that craziness will definitely put a damper on one's extra time to read but I can't say I hate it.  Here are my picks for favorites and not-so-favorites. Enjoy! 

My Favorites, Hands Down:

The controversy surrounding this book was a little crazy. She's the most talented, witty and electrically imaginative woman in this generation and I just want to be her friend. 

This is the mother ship book for moms everywhere. It's Desperate Housewives meets Snapped and it couldn't be more perfect. 

Ding Ding Ding! Finally a book whose movie wasn't a complete let down! Both the book and the movie were amazing! 

This book was a slam dunk for me and I CANNOT wait for The Rose Effect! (Part 2) This would be my number one book to recommend for the year! 

My "I Wasn't That Impressed" picks: 

I know Jodi is always a favorite among you all but this just was a flop for me

This just had major potential and I think it would have been a hit if there was narration instead of just letters and correspondence between the characters. 

I love Rainbow. And when I say love, I mean to say that I admire her to the top of mountains. However, this time-travel theme just couldn't hook me. Maybe I just don't have the imagination for it? 

Check out all of the books I've read this year here
I want to know about your books of 2014 ! 
Tell me about the good, the bad and the ugly! 

My resolutions for the New Year? Read Nick Hornby , more John Green, at least 3 classics (Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, etc.) and I want to read at least 50 books. Join the pledge on Goodreads with me!

What are your book resolutions?

Our Christmas Crazy is My Favorite Kind

What Christmas Means to Us 

If you were to be in our home over the Christmas holiday, you would have seen and heard many things...this year there was more love and noise than ever before, and that was perfectly fine with me. 

At our house, Christmas meant baking and making goodies in the kitchen to share with our family.This year, I whipped up a little "white trash" 

Crushed Oreos, pretzels sticks, red and white M&Ms with almond bark pour over it. Sometimes I've added Chex mix or other goodies. It's a very easy and quick snack that everyone loves. 

 And, as always, Christmas morning monkey bread: 

3 cans of biscuits, 1 cup of brown sugar, 1/2 cups white sugar, 3 tsps cinnamon, 3/4 cups melted butter mixed all together, baked at 350 for 20 minutes. 

Christmas also means trying to see who can hold out opening presents early the longest. I lost that battle with the kiddos this year, go figure. They begged to open a present on Christmas Eve and as I stared into their beautiful pathetic blue eyes, I caved instantly. 

When your four year old cries out 'I fweaking wove it!" whenever she opens a present she loves, you just want to give her more and more. As  I typed that, I realize that she has probably figured that out which is why she turns up the cute so much but I am not even sad about it.

Christmas to us means laying around, being lazy butts, making funny faces, apparently: 

It also means letting the kids decorate the tree themselves, which means alot of hand made treasures and with four little girls helping out, lots and LOTS of glitter. I did manage to sneak in one decoration that wasn't sparkling or dripping with Elmer's glue: 

Because it's our first official Christmas together, I wanted to make sure we had a special ornament. W are both coffee freaks and cherish our morning coffee dates, so when I saw this ornament from Ornaments with Love, I knew it was perfect. And you know how I love a funny pun! Keep this site in mind for more than just personalized Christmas ornaments. They have items for tons of special occasions. Shipping was so fast, even with personalization! 

Christmas means Legos. Everywhere. 

And waking everyone up for presents, whether they are ready for it or not. And by waking up, apparently we mean literally dragging them into the living room, big brother style: 

And selfies. Lots of cuddling selfies. 

Most of all, Christmas means spending more time than ever with the most important people. And making each other laugh, watching everyone enjoy what they love the most, seeing the joy on their faces as people open gifts you've planned for months to give them...for giving thanks for the blessings in our life, for celebrating the birth of Jesus...

And for slowing down. Pausing life for a just a few short moments in order to show our friends and family how much we love each other.

 All of that makes running around, planning, wrapping presents, going from one family celebration to the next, remembering the Elf on the Shelf, baking, all with 5 crazy kids so worth it. It's crazy, but it's our crazy. 

(Apparently our crazy also includes R1 acting like he's not having any fun, but I assure you, it's all an act. He's so ornery it hurts.)

Christmas is finding bits of wrapping paper on the floor long after the celebrations, for laying out all of the goodies inside your stocking, for telling family stories over card games, for toasting to a great New Year. 
And just being plain happy. 

This Christmas, all was definitely not calm...but all was bright. 
And that's just the way I like it. (As long as I have my Xanax)

Currently: A Life Lately Post


That Night by Chevy Stevens AND The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters 


Why 2 books at the same time, you ask?
Because I can't choose! They are both great. 

On nights when I just need to read myself to sleep, I read That Night, because it's  a "just skimming the surface" type book. Even though it's about a murder, it's not very deep. There are a lot of "and stuff" and it reads like a YA, almost. It's about a girl who is in jail for the murder of her sister, who, from behind bars, says she doesn't know how her sister died nor who killed her. It flashes back to before her sister was murdered and the present, where Toni is an adult who has been in prison for over half her life. Did she or didn't she? 

And then when I am alert and more with it, I read The Paying Guests. It's a 1920s drama about forbidden lust and mystery. Who can resist? It's also getting a lot of buzz...it's on People Magazine's hot list, Amazon's best books of 2014 and I see it being added to everyone's Goodreads to-read lists constantly.

Trust me, you won't be able to resist reading it either.

Listening to...
Speaking of not being able to stay away from something, please tell me you've heard of the Serial Podcasts? I may be the last one to know about it, but if by chance I am not and can tell others about it, then I am doing my job. It's a series of podcasts about the murder case of Hae Lee in 1999. An investigator talks through police reports, crime scene notes and actual interviews with the man accused of her murder and tries to lay out the possible ways that Adnan Syead may be innocent. It's riveting. It's like Cold Case Files that I can take with me on the way to work and I couldn't be more obsessed if I tried. 

Preparing for...
The holidays. We haven't got much time left but all of the gifts are wrapped, the letters to Santa are written, the stockings are embroidered and hung and the anticipation of watching the kids open their presents are all in full force. 

The kids all made ornaments last weekend: 

The recipe is a little debatable...but has something to do with mixing water, baking soda and corn startch and then heating in on the stove until it's the consistency of mashed potatoes. 
Cut it with cookie cutters, let the kids decorate them with jewels and voila- a relatively cheat and easy (albeit extremely messy) holiday craft. 

Currently, I am totally failing in the Elf in the Shelf department. The kids are none the wiser but there might have been one morning when I forgot, and in one moment of sheer genius, threw toilet paper all over the tree in a mad dash, barely missing one of the kids catching me elf-handed. Tinker TP'd the tree and the kids thought that was utterly hilarious, so I'll chalk it up to a win. 


Currently...we're enjoying this little beauty... 

That's Miss Katniss and she's amazing. 

And right now, I am preparing for a snow day. One to three inches of winter flurries have arrived on my doorstep, just in time for me to spend the day working from home, snuggled on my couch. 

What are you currently reading, listening to, failing at, preparing for and enjoying?

Book Review: Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

What do you hate most about reading a  book you don't love?

The anticipation and then the subsequent let down?

The wasted time spent reading a mediocre book when you could have been reading your next favorite novel?

The let down after being so intrigued by the description?

For me, the worst part of not liking a book is when I a fan of the author already because of their other books.

The biggest sadness I've ran into with authors is Leila Mecham. She wrote Roses, which is one of my all time favorites. After that, she wrote Tumbleweeds and let me tell you about a whomp. I was so, just like, wahhhh about it. The first one as a multi-generation saga about a family's cotton plantation. Tumbleweeds was about a high school love triangle and one of the men turned into a priest.


So anyway, a few years ago, I read My Sister's Keeper, before it was a movie. I loved the story, even though it made me completely bawl my eyes out. It was gut-wrenching. I was in awe of Jody Picoult's ability to write about something so terrifyingly sad in such a beautiful way. It was the kind of story that stuck with you, made you think about it long after you finished the last page. So naturally, I looked for more of her books but they all were just too.damn.sad. I never finished another one. So when I saw Leaving Time, I thought I would give it a try because it didn't feature a dying child.

I hate to say this, but I didn't love it. 
It's about a woman who studied the grief patterns in elephants- especially those of mothers who have lost their calves. It was an intriguing concept, especially coupled with the main characters. A woman went missing 10 years ago and her daughter is looking for her. While searching, the daughter finds a physic...and it just kind of goes downhill from there. 

Jodi tries to make a parallel between grieving elephant mothers and the bond between human mother and child. I get that, but it just never "clicked." 

There were good moments where the momentum built up after you find out that there was a suspicious death the night that Jenna's mother disappeared. But that's about it. 

I was intrigued, as always, by Jodi's characters. She does a great job creating people who you can imagine vividly. I want to love her books, I really do. But the stories are just not there for me. Her writing is gorgeous and I can appreciate that much.

I'd say, read this book if you have a considerate imagination. 
I have an imagination, but I just can't take some things seriously and this book was a bit of a stretch for me. I couldn't make a connection with the elephants, which played a very large role in the book. 

Maybe it was the physic, maybe it was the vision of an elephant and a little girl walking off into the sunset holding hands(trunks) together, or maybe I am a hard critic, but this book was a downer for me.  

What is your favorite Jodi Picoult book? 

Remember That One Time We Said I Do?

Remember that one time I saw our wedding pictures and fell in love ? 

Because we all know that pictures are the best part of the wedding, especially when time has passed and then you get to relive the day all over again looking through all the snapshots! 

and that one time we had the most perfect book themed reception at the most adorable winery, Windy Wine Co. in Osborn, Mo.

And that one time when we were on top of the Kansas City Public Library and it was just too perfect to dance among the giant chess pieces...

And that other time that ModCloth had the most perfect dress...

And that other time his letter made me cry 

And his smile made my heart burst 

And I gave him a watch before we walked down the aisle so he'd make it in time

I am so blessed to have fellow bloggers who love books as much as I do who sent me piles of their favorite books to help me decorate the tables! You know who are and I want you to know how special it was to me! 

My favorite author, Wendy Lawless, author of the huge hit, Chanel Bonfire, also helped us celebrate by sending her favorite books and a note I will cherish forever: 

It's been almost 2 months and we still talk about our wedding every day.

All credit to these amazing photos goes to my sister, owner and photographer at Peace of You Photography in Kansas City, Mo.

Signs You've Recently Moved

Signs You've Recently Moved: 

You have rewashed the same pair of black leggings 5 times in one week because they are only thing you feel like unpacking. 

You sit and stare at blank walls wondering how to hang pictures like the ultra cool moms on Pinterest. 

You have a pile of junk in the corner of your bedroom because WHERE THE HECK are you supposed to put everything? And how in the world did you accumulate so much crap??

You can still smell the endless amount of paint primer. So.Much.Painting. 

You actually keep your house picked up for once because the newness makes everything look clean and you don't wait to ruin it. 

You've worn mismatched socks for 2 weeks straight.

You still have paint in your hair. 

You are so busy you forget your new bed is getting delivered and are in your underwear when the delivery truck shows up first thing in the morning at your front door. 

Your Tupperware is organized. 

You've spent more time on Etsy and Joss&Main looking at curtains than you are willing to admit. 

You know where are the batteries are. 

You've spent way too long looking at high school photos that you uncovered in the move.

You feel slightly guilty about the large number of toys you've secretly thrown away. "They must still be packed somewhere, sweetheart, we will find it eventually..." 

You like being home. 

And it feels so good! 

A Good Book and A New Home!

I have never really considered if I believe in psychics but recently I found myself reading two books, both of which featured people with "senses" and I thought, well if I didn't believe it then, I'd certainly believe it could happen now. Books have a way of making you believe in pretty much anything. 

First, I listened to Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld on audiobook. I had tears in my eyes several times through it. Not because it was sad, but because it was so familiar. There were descriptions about childhood that were so real, I felt like someone was reading my memories out loud.  

Sisterland is about two sisters, Violet and Daisy, who, at a young age, realize that their world isn't the same for those not inside their home and young minds. First, their mother is lost to depression, staying in her room throughout the days and taking credit for the meals that her daughters make before their dad gets home from work. Secondly, and most detrimental to their lives, is the fact that the twins share the gift of a sixth sense. They see things happening in their mind that are then played out right before their eyes in real life. They know that their aunt will soon pass away. They know which one of the classmates will die the youngest.

For Violet, her sense is a means for attention. She's the wild child who goes on to use her power to gain public notoriety. But for Daisy, who grows up and changes her name to Kate, creates a new life for herself without the sense. She trains herself to ignore it and has convinced herself that she no longer as the power. She would rather enjoy her quiet life with her husband and 2 children. Until Violet goes on public television to tell the world that a major, life change earth quake is coming. 

Her announcement leaves everyone around them in a panic and Kate must decide if the nagging senses that she feels are just paranoia or if her sense going back to her. 

This isn't YA and Twilight-like. I don't want anyone to write this book off just because there's a little "make believe" in the fact that the characters have a physic ability. It's a very believable story. It's mostly about sisters and their relationship that seems unconditional until things happen that they have no control over. 

The greatest thing about this book is that the characters do unforgivable things. They lie, they test trust, they walk out. But they redeem themselves, which makes me feel hopeful. 

My recommendation is to read it and keep an open mind. 


In other news, this life of mine has taken a trip down the crazy lane. 
It's Thanksgiving week, which means there are pecan pies to make, family to visit and elastic pants to find. (as if I don't know exactly where they are already). 
But don't worry, that's what the Pioneer Lady is for, because she has the no-fail pecan pie recipe that is TO.DIE.FOR. 

As if this wasn't a crazy enough week already, CJ and I have decided it would be a good time to MOVE. Like as if, you just up and decide theses kinds of things? Technically we could move after Turkey Week but for some reason, I like crazy. So this weekend, we got high off of paint fumes for three days straight and now we are going to see how many mattresses we can fit inside our Yukon. You know what's NOT fun? Moving. Bring me someone who likes to move and I will bake them a pie (see above). 

So that's what we are up too and really, I'm not complaining.  A new home, new paint schemes, and more room to run and play. I've got plenty to be thankful for! 

What To Duck From When You Have a Son- A Birthday Post for R1

R1 turns 7 today.


How have I had a child for longer than I spent in high school? How has it been over a decade that he has been invading my personal space, taking way-too-big "sips" of my pop, and making me giggle when he should be getting trouble?

I have no idea. But wow, does the saying "time flies when you're having fun" ring true when I think of my boy.

In the last 7 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. 

Just the other night, when an "experiment" with food coloring turned my yellow kitchen rug an ugly brown, I was going off my hinges, yelling at him to go to his room and for the love of baby Jesus, go take a shower, you stink!"

But the minute he is out of the living room, I miss him. Well, not immediately, but I do notice how quiet the house is without him. And I don't always like it.

What R1 has taught me about life are lessons that can never be taught from the "What to Expect When You're Expecting." Maybe I should write my own bestseller, "What to Duck From When You Have a Son." It would have lists of all the things that get thrown at you. Dirty socks and weird questions like why do boogers get hard and if dogs can poop outside, why can't I?" 

Also, Legos (when you aren't stepping on them) are flying by your nose all the time. Along with screams from his poor little sister because he's chasing her around the house with a can of air freshener. And screams from the boy himself when I tell him to clip his fingernails or take a shower. These are the things you need to know about when you have a boy. Their feet stink way before you think they will. They will ALWAYS get food on their face no matter how careful you are. And simply licking your thumb and rubbing it off before dropping him off for school won't cut it. That stuff is there to stay. 

These adventures are just that. And they are fun (testing at times, but still fun). I yell, I throw my own tantrums as the result of some of these "adventures" sometimes but I still wouldn't trade him for the world. 

Yes, there have been times (more recently than ever) that I look at my little man, who gets perfect grades at school, whose teachers have always called him a great helper and compassionate friend, and I just wonder "what in the HELL where you thinking?" But all of the good things he says and does outweigh the bad. As his mom, I truly believe that his episodes of misbehavior are the best opportunities for learning life lessons, so I take them all in stride. (After having breakdowns on the phone with my sister, first of course.) 

But life without him would be so boring. Cleaner, less smelly and quieter, yes. But boring. Less sunshine, less snuggles, less goofy faces. Who wants to live a life with no cheesy smiles? Not this mama. 

Yesterday I read an article about being the mom of "That Kid"- you know the ones your kids are always telling you about who get into trouble or annoy everyone during quiet time. I'm not convinced R1 is "That Kid" but even if he is sometimes, as long as he knows the difference between wrong and right, I am not ashamed of him and I won't ask him to change his boisterous ways. 

Because that's him. And it's been 7 years that he's been this way and I can't imagine life any other way. 

Happy Birthday, Ryder Cash. You are so loved! 

Simple Things

I just noticed that lately my family and I have really been just enjoying the simple things in life....

Like eating dinner on the living room floor while watching Hook.

Like everyone sharing what they would change their name to if they could have any name in the world (Vivian Pearl Montgomery, duh)

Naming what talent you would do if you were starring in a talent show....

Sharing your pits and peaks of the day at dinner time

Telling the kids you ate all of their Halloween candy and watching them throw fits like the kids on Jimmy Kimmel


Shamelessly listening to the new Taylor Swift album 

Full House instead of bedtime 

The Two Dots app 

Making up cookie recipes (one yellow cake mix, 3 eggs, 1/3 cup old, 1 cup quick oats, 1/3 cup peanut butter, 1 bag of peanut butter chips)

Reading 5 samples of books before deciding which one to download 

Having enough time in the morning to curl your hair 

Actually having a house that will turn my "make believe" home decor Pinterest boards a reality.. (fingers crossed)

Sticking up for Lena Dunham on Twitter 

Extra extra big sweatshirts with leggings

Ugg boots that will never ever go out of style (in my book anyway)

Discovering the slow motion feature on your phone camera and playing for an hour watching your kids karate chop "like in the movies." 

Christmas catalogs in the mail 

Opening the windows and letting in the cooler air so everyone will want to cuddle with me. 

Facetiming with our Lucy  

Taking goofy selfies 

And shamelessly staying in our pjs on the weekends, which is exactly what we plan on doing! Happy Friday!