Thursday, October 04, 2012


I read the book Matched by Ally Condie as a part of Blogher's Book Club.  It's definitely a book that is right up my alley because the quickest description is Young Adult Dystopian.  So basically think Hunger Games, Divergent, Delirium - all books I've read and enjoyed and recommended!

I have to admit though, it's hard to read a book that reminds you of other books you really like and not draw comparisons.  That is one reason I hadn't read Matched before this and I may never have, if it hadn't been for the book club.

I'm really glad I did.  The love triangle and romance are the part that most people will enjoy, but I really love trying to understand the society in which Matched takes place.  Watching the main character Cassia grow and change and start to awaken was what I really enjoyed.

The society in which Cassia lived is seemingly a peaceful, organized and all about the good of the people and the society as a whole  Of course what you quickly realize is that it's all about keeping the citizens under control and closely monitored, their food portions are individually delivered, every activity is scheduled and approved, and you have to actually where dream monitors on certain nights.  It's all in the name of keeping the citizens healthy and performing their duties successfully.

Another interesting aspect is that when the society was formed the took all of the art, literature, music, etc and picked 100 of them and rest are discarded.  Permanently - as in no longer exist.  Children are no longer taught to write, there is no ability to create.  

It is in this setting that we find Cassia about to find out her Match - the person who will be her husband, who she will have a family with.  Her Matching banquet turns out to be wonderful as well as the reveal of her Match, but it's also when the stage is set for the main plot of the story (Seriously, I can't give away things, even though you could read about this on the back of the book!).  

Another major experience in Cassia's life happens early on as well, involving her grandfather and it is one more thing that is pushing Cassia to think, to question, to open her eyes and really see what her world is like.

It's just the beginning of her journey, you'll have to read it to find out any more - I think you'll be glad you did!  Come join me over at BlogHer's Book Club and join in the discussion and hear from the author!

Disclaimer Statement: I was paid for the book review, but the opinions are all my own!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The First Husband Book Review

The First Husband by Laura Dave is the most recent book I read as a part of BlogHer's book club.  It's a quick easy summer read without being flighty or silly - for lack of a better description it's chick lit (hate that!) with depth.

The First Husband is about Annie Adams, a travel writer based in LA who is seemingly content with her life with long time boyfriend Nick.  When Nick suddenly ends things Annie is left to pick up the pieces of her life and reevaluate all that she thought to be true about herself and her hopes and dreams for her future.  She quickly gets swept down a totally unexpected path and has to make some tough decisions about what is truly important in love and in life.

And that's all I want to give you because I'd rather you read it and not have me give away the whole story!

Overall I really enjoyed the book.  I wish it had been longer because certain parts of the book happened too quickly for me and I would have liked to have more time with the characters and exploring their relationships with one another.  At times I would get frustrated about situations that Annie would find herself in, mostly because I am an over communicator and it kills me when things get all messed up and confusing simply because people don't sit down and talk.  But again, that's me, maybe that's just me!

I hope you'll check out the book as well as all the discussion going on over at BlogHer.

BTW - I was paid for the book and the review, but the opinions are all mine!

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Photo A Day May

So I've decided to jump on board and do this month's photo a day challenge.  I've always wanted to and then I miss the first day or two, can't find the list and then before I know it it's mid way through the month. 

It's a fun way to be creative and pay attention to what I'm seeing throughout the day- I love having a little challenge (yes, I know, taking a picture a day should not be a challenge, but calling it that adds motivation!).

I won't post every day on here...maybe I'll weekly summaries.  But I will post every day on Instagram and Twitter.  If you're feeling up to it, join in.  Click HERE to find out more about it!

Just to prove that I actually did the first is my picture for May 1st - peace.  It's 9:00, the kids were in bed and I had my kindle by my side, about to start some reading....

Can I just say that after that I got distracted, went downstairs, did something else, and didn't get back to my reading until after 11!  But in that moment....there was peace!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Easter 2012

We survived the busyness of Easter week and Spring break and overall had a really nice week.  On Good Friday we did our traditional egg hunt with our friends - such a great group of kids....

and a great group of friends!

That evening Matt and I walked the girls through the various stations of the Cross that had been set up as a part of our Good Friday gathering at church.  I had gotten to walk through them on my own the night before so I really enjoyed being with the kids and helping them experience a bit of Jesus' journey starting with the Triumphal Entry and ending with the Cross.  Each station had an action they could do in response a reading, Scripture and reflection.

Here was the Last Supper and The Lord's Table and they were writing their thankfulness for Jesus' sacrifice. 

My favorite part of the whole thing is walking through curtain to the Cross on the other side.  It is just so powerful and moving.  When you get to the Cross you are able to write something you want to leave behind on a piece of paper and nail it the cross.  I was trying to explain to the girls that it could be a habit, a fear, an addiction, etc., when I heard Catherine say "I don't like seagulls...?"  I almost laughed out loud - "No Catherine Jesus can't get rid of seagulls for you!"  :)

Saturday was so nice and relaxing.  We dyed Easter eggs - you know, better late than never.  I don't know about you but after years of buying the little kits I have reverted to the old school childhood method of using food coloring in hot water in vinegar.  Seriously - it is so much easier, there is little mess and it looks great!

We also got to see a cute little show featuring Jack and Annie of the Magic Tree House at a local book store.  Catherine is super into the books these days so it was perfect timing!

Easter morning is always busy for us.  Matt is out the door before 7 and for some reason it seems to take longer to get me and the girls looking our best.  Not that we don't usually go to church looking decent but the bit of extra effort that Easter seems to inspire makes for a hectic morning.  

I was determined to get a halfway decent family picture this year.  Actually the decent part wasn't super important, but I just thought it would be nice to get a family picture.  I had to crop the heck out of it to hide my super white winter legs but hey, it's a family picture on Easter!!  And a few more just for fun....

I hope you all enjoyed the beautiful weekend and celebration of the Resurrection!  

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Spring Break

This is the first time in a few years that we haven't lost most of our Spring Break to snow days so I was super excited for Tuesday to be the last day the kids had school for a week. 

We had no set plans but managed to have some fun.  Our first day we went for a 10 mile bike ride that involved lunch in the middle.  Never underestimate the power of food to give your kids incentive and energy!  

After the bike ride the kids got to take an impromptu trip to the zoo with their friend.  Since they weren't there until later afternoon they each got to pick their must see exhibit and I learned that Catherine's favorite animal is the giraffe and Ella's is the polar bear.  They were delivered to back to me at the church around 6:30 and Ella got out of the car in tears begging to go home.  Seeing as how we had first left the house for our bike ride at 11am I knew she was exhausted.  I promised her would eat dinner quickly and head home.  One meatball sub later and she was back to bouncing off the walls, wrestling and doing wheelbarrow races with her friends.  Seriously - the power of food...amazing!!!

Today Ella was ice skating with her girls group (parent lead alternative to girl scouts) and Catherine got to play with some friends.  Ella needed the bar because this was basically her first time skating and after  a lap or two I encouraged her to go with one of the parents and try without the bar.  I am excited to say that she can now ice skate! It was so cool to watch her improve the way she did over a small period of time.

(No, I did not ice skate.  I don't own skates and I have vivid memories of how sore my ankles were after using the rentals.  I came close but I just couldn't bring myself to do it.  I was just moral support on the sidelines!)

I am a big fan of Pinterest and I love finding a simple fun activity that involves stuff I already have.

We took pans of baking soda, cups of vinegar tinted different colors and medicine droppers outside and played for 45 minutes making fizzy foamy mixtures.

Tomorrow we have an egg hunt and lunch with friends and we'll finish the day off with a wonderful Good Friday gathering.  I am looking forward to taking the girls through the various stations on the journey to the cross that are set up around the church.  Tonight we were helping with a few final touches and the girls each wrote on a paper palm leaf words of thanksgiving to Jesus at the Triumphal Entry station.  Ella didn't show me hers but I had to help Catherine so I got to see hers - she wrote "I like how you rose on Easter. Thank You.  (smiley face) Catherine"  Made my heart melt!!

Hope you are enjoying your week - so wonderful to have extra time with my girls during this Holy week - I know we are all so mindful of their little hearts as they soak in the events leading up to Easter. What a blessing it is to have your children truly understand how special Easter is!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Jump Jump

Something new and fun just arrived in our backyard.  And by just arrived I mean Matt spent pretty much an entire day putting it together!

I am looking forward to lots of this...

And definitely lots of this....

Check out Ella's smile!  Without a doubt we'll have lots of those...

I know I will have fun taking all sorts of cool jumping pictures - it is harder than you think for the inexperienced photographer....

The kids are already having a wonderful time jumping, being silly and burning off energy. 
The big kids seem to like it too!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Fault in Our Stars

I was given a copy of A Fault in Our Stars to review as part of BlogHer's Book Review.  I jumped at the chance to review it because a friend had just raved over it and I was excited to check it out.

I'm not ashamed to admit I read a good bit of Young Adult fiction.  There are a lot of good books out there that have main characters who are considered" young adults" and there is something about that pivotal time in one's life that really draws me in.  This book is definitely not your typical YA novel.  It was not your typical girl struggling with her identity meets boy who is different and challenges her to think outside the box and live life differently.  In one way that could be a vague description of the plot but the specifics are what make it so unique and also emotional.

The main character of this book is not your average teenage girl.  Meet Hazel, diagnosed with stage IV thyroid cancer at the age of thirteen and was pronounced terminal.  After a horrific near brush with death she was entered into an experimental drug trial that shrunk her tumors and bought her extra time.  The book begins when Hazel is almost 18, out of school the past three years because she is terminal, never knowing how much time she has left, living life to the bare minimum solely to keep her parents happy.

I know, I know.  You're not running out to pick it up right?!  But stick with me here, I promise you'll be glad you did.

Hazel meets Augustine, and 18 year old cancer survivor, at her cancer support group, which she grudgingly attends to give her parents some allusion of a social life, and her life beings to change.

You get to watch their relationship grow and Hazel begins to feel comfortable being herself and being known but yet also struggle with the realities of her own diagnosis and how that will affect her relationships.  Hazel and "Gus" have a rather unusual and intense relationship which makes sense given their shared experiences with cancer.  But they are still at the core a boy and a girl who are falling in love.

I don't know if I can adequately describe this book in a way that will make you want to read it, but I want you to trust me!  As a parent it was pretty emotional to read.  Most books you read that deal with this type of illness are from the perspective of the adult towards their child.  Hazel's worry about her parents and what their life will be like after she dies is rather heart wrenching.  She often does things that they think will help her, i.e., support group, only because she wants them to worry less.

Yes you will cry.  But you will find also yourself laughing at their callousness towards their cancer and the sparks of humor that are present regardless of the difficulties in the bigger picture.

I think this would be a great book club read as well as just a good read for adults and young adults alike.  Whether you relate more to Hazel, her parents, or both you'll be glad you took the plunge.

Head on over to BlogHer's Book club and check out the discussion going on about this book.  You'll learn more about the author and his writing as well as hear what others thought about it.

Just a note that I was paid for the book and the review but the opinions expressed are completely my own!!

Monday, February 13, 2012

No shame

Sitting here watching The Voice and saw my little blog on one of my bookmarks and figured I should fire up a new post.

Not even attempting to do any catching up, just sharing a little ongoing saga of mine.

A few months ago the driver's side window on our van stopped working. It won't go down at all. This stinks of course. It really stinks because the passenger side window doesn't work either. If you put it down there is a good chance it won't go up again. This isn't horrible in the summer, but this time of year I really don't want to get stuck with a window down driving around in the snow (what? snow? yeah, still hoping for one big snowstorm before spring).

So it should go without saying that I often feel a bit claustrophobic in my car.

But the whole driver's side window adds a whole other dilemma. Can anyone guess?

Anyone? Anyone?

Ever try to go through a drive through without being able to put down your window?

I have! It's super fun!

My sister in law shared with me over Christmas that the same thing happened to them in their van (different models, don't worry) and she said because of it she doesn't go through drive through fast food anymore.

It was at that point that I realized that I must have no shame. Because it hasn't stopped me at all. I have not stopped making trips through the Chick Fil A drive through, in fact I added the occasional Dunkin' Donuts and McDonald's run but that is purely due to my Keurig being on the fritz (that could and should be a post in it's own) and Wawa discontinuing their any size coffee for $1 deal.

In fact I usually completely forget that I can't put my window down until I get up to the pick up window and have to remember to pull up an extra six inches or so so they can open the window and I can get the goods.

Yeah, I've perfected it! And yes, I've realized that I clearly have no shame.

Deep down I'd like to think that they remember me with fondness.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012


It's 2012!! Where did the year go? 2011 was certainly NOT the year of the blog over in my neck of the woods. I think it's the year I blogged the least since I started years ago.

I'm trying to get back to it so I thought it would be fun to look through the pictures on my phone from the past year and pull one or two off from each month. No real criteria, just whichever one(s) I felt like sharing!
This is one of my favs of Catherine and I can't believe it was a year ago. Love her!
One of the many snowstorms and a cute picture of my three favorite people. I realized that there is a better one of Ella but I believe I actually already posted it (surprise!) so I'm ok using this one.

My two girls heading to school on Valentine's Day. It's rare that they dress alike but it's something we all love.
March bought tooth drama. I was so tempted to post the picture I took of Ella mid wail as we tried to figure out how to get her tooth out (never seems to get easier for her). Instead I was good and posted a smiling (sorta) after shot.
This is basically the best picture we got this (and every) Easter since Matt is gone well before we are awake and gets home after us. I made Ella put her skirt back on in an attempt to create some sweet holiday picture. I actually love how disheveled it is - that's definitely more the reality!
In May Catherine graduated from PreK with her best buddy Nolan. I love the two of them together!

While visiting my Aunt, my dad decided to take a spin on her son/his nephew/my cousin's (apparently it was important you understand the family tree with this) Harley. I'm not posting the video I took, but I basically scream "slow down!" every time he rode by. It was slightly nerve wracking, but my dad had fun and didn't wreck.
This was an early highlight of our summer, Matt and I, thanks to his sister waiting in line to get tickets, went to see Mumford and Sons in concert. It was an amazing show and I am SO glad we got to see them.
The next day the girls and their cousin got to go get feathers in their hair. Little did we know that this was to become quite the fad that summer. Apparently we were ahead of the times and everywhere we went people commented on Catherine's bright orange feather. It stayed in for months and is in every picture we took. That aside, I love the cousins together in this picture.

I just love this picture of my mom reading to her grandkids during our beach vacation. She takes every opportunity to read to them and instill the love of reading in another generation.
I had to share this since it's one of my favorite iPhone pics. A few years ago who would have believed this was taken on a phone!


Another beach trip and another iPhone picture that is just cool. I caught this lightening strike while watching a storm roll over the skies at the ocean.

Ok, that's all I have posted for now. I want to say that I'll finish the rest of the year, but you know what happens when I say I'll be back....basically if you believed that then we only went to Disney for one day! Baby steps, baby steps. I'm working on it and hopefully will get some more regular posts this month.

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