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A Challenge For October

Oh, hey.

I’ve just been over here living life with the most awesome little person on the face of the planet.  I’m obviously not biased.

swing

I’ve been keeping up with you all behind the scenes, reading blogs on the reg.  It just seems that after bedtime, I’m much more content reading about you all versus articulating any of my own thoughts.  Thinking is hard, guys.  It’s even harder when you have an extra human being to keep alive.  My  mind often is consumed with diapers and bottles and “Oh my gosh, is this food cut up small enough so he won’t choke? Wait, is it TOO small and he WILL choke!?”  It’s glamorous.  And I love it.

food

ANYwho.

For about a month now, I’ve thought about coming back to this space.  So, here I am.  Did I mention that procrastination is also a new trait of mine?  Sleep trumps all, folks.  Sleep. Trumps. All.

So, why am I here today?

Some time ago I wrote a post about my experience with Mint.  Mint has been the single thing that had gotten me on track with a budget.  And I was doing pretty good!  And then I had a baby.  Eddie has his own “budget” for clothes, formula, etc.  Turns out Eddie can’t stick to a budget.  TINY BABY SHOES.  HE NEEDS THAT SILICONE BANANA TOOTHBRUSH.  AND THE CHEAP PLASTIC STACKING RINGS.  THAT GIANT TEDDY BEAR!?  IT’S SO FLUFFY.  ALL. THE. THINGS.

Add to all of that, the fact that I have somehow managed to GAIN weight rather than lose it, leading to the purchase of clothes that I’m sad fit me comfortably. Blah, blah, blah – all of that to say that I’ve become a woman spending money like MAD.

What does one do when her husband has to sit her down to kindly remind her that money doesn’t grow on trees?

Irrationally blurt out that you vow to not spend a penny for A MONTH.

Yes.  I’m an idiot.

But, then he said that he didn’t think I could do it.  So, obviously, I have to.  Just to prove him wrong.  Because that’s what I do.

I’ve told my friends and coworkers (and all of you!) with the hope that it will help me stay motivated to prove my husband wrong.  I CAN do this.  However, upon telling my friends and coworkers – they’re reaction was along the lines of “why on earth would you do that to yourself!?”

Because: I’m an idiot.  But now, it’s about proving my husband wrong.  Whatever it takes, I guess?

Now, don’t you worry.  We won’t starve.  I’m still shopping for food and other things necessary for survival – it just means I’m passing on the Pumpkin Spice Lattes, that super adorable outfit, and all the adorable itty bitty baby shoes.  I CAN DO IT.

Then He Can Do Anything

More than once my mom has said, “If Craig can get Jessi on a budget, he can do anything.”  And honestly, I think she’s probably right.

When Craig and I got married, money management was probably the biggest source of contention.  He was a big-time saver and I was a big-time spender.  And because we were complete opposites, our perception of one another was pretty extreme: I thought he didn’t have enough fun and he thought I’d buy a used pair of socks just because they were on sale.  It took us over a year of fighting discussion and continual compromising before we found a solution that has worked fabulously for us.

mintlogo

I had heard of Mint.com before, but because I wasn’t a budgeter, I obviously hadn’t really explored it.  This single tool has hands-down gotten me on track with our budget.  How does Mint work?  You can attach your credit cards and bank accounts to their website and when money comes out of any of those accounts, you can allocate them to a budget.  There a ton of ways to visually see your spending habits through graphs and charts.  And while I don’t delve into those things, Craig does quite regularly.

riskI know that for many people, providing that information to a third party is scary.  We are comfortable with it.  Information can be taken from anywhere, anytime you purchase anything online.  Working at a financial, I feel the most important thing is to pay close attention to the charges coming through to your accounts and knowing the steps you would need to take should your information be compromised.  We’ve had credit cards compromised in the past and between the card’s fraud protection and us using Mint (and therefore seeing the transaction with the use of our app, rather than having to log into our individual credit card accounts), we catch it almost immediately.  So, in our case, Mint has actually helped us realize when we’ve been compromised.  That being said, only do what you’re comfortable with.  Using online tools like Mint might not be in everyone’s best interest.

how it worksCraig put a lot of time and effort in on the front end.  He created categories that include things like: mortgage, utilities, insurance, kids, doctor, dogs (things like food and toys), veterinarian, groceries, entertainment, home goods, etc.  We have an “uncategorized” budget for things like gifts or items that don’t really “fit” into any particular budget.  Each of these categories work a little bit differently.

Any money left in any of the budgets rolls over to the next month.  So, if we don’t treat ourselves to meals out or other entertainment one month, it means in the future we can “splurge” a little bit more if we want. That feature also helps us build up emergency funds.  For example, the veterinary budget obviously isn’t used each month, but we let it accumulate, so that if one of the pups has an unplanned vet visit, we have the money already set aside.  On the same token, we have months that we go over on some budgets.  What happens in that situation is our overage is automatically deducted from the next month, so we can try to get back on track.

Some budgets like our mortgage and insurance are calculated to be exactly what we pay each month for those items.  Obviously nothing rolls over, but we still have that money accounted for.  Does that make sense?  Every dollar that we earn or are gifted is accounted for; it’s physically put into a category.  That sounds like it’s a lot of work, but in reality it simply takes a click of a button and a selection from your category list.

Craig also has a predetermined amount of money that we are “saving” each month.  That money never shows up in any of our individual budgets; it shows up in our bank account (obviously), but it never shows up in Mint.  I never know it exists, which is probably a good thing. 😉

compromiseDo you see what I mean now!?  Craig put in a ton of time and effort into this – creating the categories, determining how much money should be allocated for each area, etc.  But, despite that – we still had some tension.

I regularly heard questions like, “What did you buy from Target?” or “Did you stop at Starbucks again this morning?”  When Craig asked me those things I felt like he was micromanaging me and I’d get mad.  So mad.  When, in reality, Craig was simply trying to figure out how to categorize charges coming through to Mint.

How did we solve that?  Well, we added two more categories: Craig and Jessica.  Every month, we are each given an “allowance” of sorts.  Money that we can spend – no questions asked.  So, if I want to spend mine on Starbucks, so be it.  I don’t hear any more questions.  If Craig doesn’t recognize a charge on our credit card, he simply puts it into my budget.  And you best believe that if it isn’t “mine,” I figure out where it goes. hahahaha.  I keep a hawk’s eye on my budget.  I still have months that I’m over, but Craig and I agreed that as long as I get it back on track the next month, it’s okay.

convenienceCraig initially set everything up using their website.  Now, we both have the Mint app on our phone for easy access.  Do you know how many times I’m at the mall wondering if I can “afford” that new pair of shoes that month?  I seriously love that I can easily take a look to see if I can buy it without breaking our  agreement.

other stuff
– We’ve bought concert tickets in January for a show in July.  We can move the purchase to July’s budget.  So, while we are technically spending the money in January, it won’t hit our entertainment budget until July.  Yes, we are still spending the money in January, but for our purposes this is how we prefer to track our expenses.

– You can completely eliminate a purchase from all budgets.  This has come in handy when we are buying gifts.  I can hop into the app and make a purchase “disappear” so Craig doesn’t see it.  If he were to log into our credit card website, he obviously would, but we so rarely do that anymore.  That works for us, because we often have discussion about “budgets” for holiday purchases and trust that we will hold each other to it.  At a later point we can add it back in so we account for our purchases.

– If you have repeat purchases from the same location or vendor, Mint recognizes that and will auto-categorize those purchases.  It helps cut down on the manual labor of categorizing.  Also, it helps for the times when I make my fourth Jane purchase for the month and Craig doesn’t have to get judge-y on what I’m spending my money on. hahahaha.  It’s embarrassing.  Jane is addicting.

– It’s easily adjustable.  Since I’ve been on maternity leave, our income has obviously become lower.  Craig was able to very easily go in and change the amount in budgets like entertainment, Jessica, and Craig.  Hopefully once I’m back at work he will remember to go back in and put them where they were! 😉

– Email notifications!  Craig gets an email when there is a large deposit or large withdrawal.  It helps him keep tabs on what’s goin’ on!  It also helps remind you when credit card payments are due.

– Track your net worth.  You can also add in other debts like student loans, auto loans, mortgages, etc to help determine your net worth; that’s also easily tracked by nifty graphs and stuff.

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I know that a system like this wouldn’t work for everyone.  We literally track everything we spend.  But, honestly, if left to my own devices, when I retire I’d be living on cheese sandwiches, living in a cardboard box in your front yard.  But, instead, I feel really confident about our financial situation.  I know that no amount of retirement money will ever really be “enough,” but we will have a nice little nest egg when the time comes.  And if for some reason it really isn’t enough, thank goodness we have a son now – and we can always move into his basement.

If you have any questions, please let me know – I’d be happy to share more!

this post is not sponsored

Show and Tell Tuesdays: Organization

It’s show and tell time!  If you want in on the fun, check out Andrea at Momfessionals!

Show and Tell Banner - mwn
This week, it’s all about organizational tips and tricks.  I’d like to think that many people consider me an organized individual.  But, that’s because they don’t see my dining room.  I’m a pile-maker.  And it just so happens that those piles typically accumulate on my dining room table and on top of my dresser.  It drives Craig insane.  In my defense, I can typically find what I’m looking for within just a couple minutes.

That being said, there are a few things that I am a little bit OCD about.  One of those is schedule/calendar.  I am a prompt individual.  Perhaps my biggest pet peeve (outside of listening to someone with the hiccups), is being late.  And yes, thus far, I’ve remained prompt despite the fact I have a tiny human to prepare for my outings.  I don’t doubt that there will be a time that Eddie helps to make me late, but I’ll show up, apologizing profusely, mortified that I’m a mere 5 minutes late.  Seriously.

So, how do I keep my calendar organized?  First and foremost, my iPhone calendar is used to the max.  It’s synced with my Google calendar.  That’s important because if I’m on the phone making an appointment, I obviously can’t be looking at my iPhone calendar.  But, if I’m out and about I don’t want to be that person hauling out a laptop to make a dentist appointment.  It’s vital that they talk to each other.  I attempted to make a “family” Google calendar last year, but Craig has so much to keep track of at work, that checking one more calendar or attempting to easily differentiate which appointments he was “needed” for, proved to stress him out.  So, instead I do this:

calendar tabletop - mwn

In January 2013, I printed this calendar from iHeart Organizing and framed it up.  I bought a dry erase marker and never looked back.

calendar closeup - mwn

Every Saturday, I update it for the following week.  I include appointments, plans with friends, my work schedule, and dinner plans.  It’s super easy to change up each week and I love the happy, bright colors.

calendar quote - mwn

I love the quote at the top, too.  How true is that?  “He who gains time, gains everything.”  You can’t add hours to a day (darn it!), but there are things you can do in order to maximize your time.  Being organized certainly helps do that!

I hang the framed calendar in our kitchen where Craig and I walk by it multiple times a day.  Craig never has to ask what’s for dinner.  He never has to ask what our plans are.  Well, if I’m honest, he still does, but he wouldn’t have to. hahahaha

calendar kitchen - mwn

Another benefit of using this calendar is that it forces me to meal plan.  When I’m working, my hours are different every day.  I don’t love it.  But, it is what it is.  By meal planning and “posting” the menu and my hours, Craig knows when to expect me home and if there is anything he can do to help me with dinner.

There are other aspects of my organization tactics that don’t revolve around pile making, but perhaps I’ll save them for another day.

Show and Tell - Big List

What are some of your top organizing tips and tricks?

 

The Challenge: What I’ve Been Eating

Week two of my Advocare Challenge is done.  I’m through the cleanse phase and let me tell you, I really think I needed it.  I’ve been feeling so much better!  I’m down a couple inches and a few pounds.  I am hoping to get the all-clear from my doc this week to start exercising.  Truth be told, I haven’t done much of anything.  I had hoped to get out walking, but between frigid temps and icy conditions I decided it wasn’t a good idea considering I’d have to haul the babe along.  But, it was almost 40 yesterday so I was able to get out with the dogs and the kiddo.  Good stuff.

First (and perhaps most importantly), can we take a moment to recognize the fact I have not yet resorted to eating peanut butter out of the jar?  During my first challenge, I was craving sugar and sweets so bad that I was eating peanut butter, by the spoonful, straight out of the jar.

Secondly, I don’t know if these are totally, 100% clean dishes.  I gathered recipes and suggestions from a couple different blogs and I haven’t bothered to determine if when something is considered “Advocare friendly,” if it’s actually “Challenge friendly.”  Meh, I figure that regardless, it’s still an improvement over what I had been ingesting.

On Friday, I mentioned Trader Joe’s Red Quinoa.  I’ve eaten it at majority of my meals.  It’s a super easy way to fill my tummy and you can eat it with just about anything.

quinoa

Left to right:
Advocare Runner has talked about Trader Joe’s Chili Lime Turkey Burgers.  Perhaps not 100% clean (?), but they aren’t bad at all.  And they’re SO easy to prepare.  And SO flavorful.  Served with quinoa and avocado dressing and you have yourself a winner.

I recently purchased a spiralizer and it’s amazing.  Seriously.  I sauteed some zucchini noodles up with garlic, salt, and pepper in coconut oil – yum.  Served it with quinoa and squeeze a lemon segment over it.  Perfect.

That last photo is what I call mush (appealing, right): quinoa, steamed broccoli & cauliflower, chicken, and avocado dressing.  Mix ‘er up and you have a tasty meal!

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Another thing that’s made it to my plate quite frequently is Adovcare Runner’s Advocare-friendly Texas caviar.  My mom makes a version of this, so I knew I’d enjoy it.  The substitutions weren’t anything drastic and truthfully, I can’t tell the difference between my mom’s version and this.  I question of this is truthfully “Challenge-friendly,” because the main ingredient is black beans and black-eyed peas.  Well, while completing the challenge you’re supposed to eat legumes in moderation.  Meh.  Technicalities, right?  Anyway, this was a super easy way to add great flavor to my dishes.

sweet potato

Left to right:
A little bit of an indulgence, I made eggs benedict one night with sweet potatoes and chipotle hollandaise.  It was the first time I’ve ever attempted to poach an egg.  I’m happy to report it was successful!

On my last Trader Joe’s run, I also found Mahi Mahi burgers.  Has, like, 3 ingredients – and again, maybe not totally clean, but it had only like 3 ingredients.  Served it up with quinoa and Texas caviar.

One of my solutions to my sweet tooth was spiralizing a sweet potato, tossing it with a bit of stevia and cinnamon and roasting it in the oven.  Delish!

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I also picked up some rice cakes, natural peanut butter (only ingredient being peanuts! No sugar!), apples, PB2, blueberries, grapes, broccoli & cauliflower steamer bags, Lara Bars, and dried fruit.

One night this week I was desperately wanting chocolate.  After searching the interwebs I learned that I could mix one of the Advocare Chocolate Meal Replacement Shakes with 1/4 cup of water, microwave it for 90 seconds and end up with a “cake.”  I topped it with a serving of PB2.  Was it the best cake ever?  No.  Did it satisfy my craving?  You betcha.

Next week, I have some more variety being added.  Meaning, I won’t be ingesting quinoa every day.  Ha.  Don’t give me wrong, I honestly really like quinoa, but I need to change it up.  I’m seeing a lot of spiralized zucchini and sweet potatoes being incorporated into my meals next week!

Do you have any favorite spiralized meals?

Five on Friday [January II]

FiveonFridayIf you want in on the fun, join Darci, April, Natasha, and Christina each Friday.

.o.n.e.

I have never washed my hands as frequently as I have over the last month and a half.  If people thought I was a germ-phobe before, they should see me now!  That fact, combined with the cold, dry weather has taken a toll on my hands.  I have been using this Aveda hand cream like nobody’s business.  It smells SO good and it’s so thick and moisturizing.  Thanks, Kim, best Christmas gift everrrr.

.t.w.o.

Since starting my 2nd Advocare Challenge, I’ve discovered the blog, Inspiralized.  I immediately ordered my own spiralizer and went to town.  It’s a fun, easy way to incorporate more veggies into my diet and cut the carbs!

.t.h.r.e.e.
seriously delish
Oh. My. Goodness.  This cookbook.  Wow.  Jessica is also the talented, bubbly voice behind the blog, How Sweet Eats, my most favorite food blog.  I ordered two copies around Christmas time, one for me and one for my friend, Kim (she loves her, too)!  I finally had a moment to sit down and page through it.  Blown away.  I love what she shares on her blog, but this is even better.  I don’t even know where to start – I have a bajillion pages marked.

.f.o.u.r.
jane - mwnThis website is the reason why my budget goes away every single month.  It only got worse when I downloaded their app – shopping truly at my fingertips all day, every day.  They have the cutest things – clothes, baby clothes, accessories, home goods – you name it, they got it.  From what I’ve been able to tell, most of the “deals” are actually great deals.  I’ve been happy with everything I’ve ordered through them.  Also, I’m sorry for introducing this to you.  Well, tell your wallet I’m sorry.

.f.i.v.e.
936 pennies
This article: How 936 Pennies Will Forever Change How You Parent.  Wow.  I’m new to this whole mom gig, but seeing such a relatively “small” number representing the number of weeks I have with Eddie before he reaches adulthood really hit home.  The idea is that you have a jar of 936 pennies and each week, you are to remove a penny, as it’s been “spent.”

“And then I look at my firstborn, and my soul feels the weight of 172 pennies gone.
I ask the inevitable question–how were they spent?
A penny can be invested; it has the potential of growing in value. It also has the potential of getting lost in a couch cushion.”

Eryn goes on to talk about how she has added an additional jar to her desk.  When she removes it from the original jar, she adds it to the second.  The original jar marks just how fleeting time is, but the second is a reminder of an investment of a lifetime.

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Hope you all have a great weekend.  I’m far too excited to go and get my hairs cut tomorrow.  And I certainly will not be going grocery shopping tomorrow afternoon.  Perhaps I’ll save that for an exciting late-night Saturday solo date.

What are some of your favorites from this week?

Sunday Social [october]

This week is the very last time Neely and Ashley are hosting their Sunday Social linkup.  I participated quite a bit before I moved my blog over to this space – and even though I haven’t been linking up, I still enjoyed reading what the other women shared each week.  In the spirit of “old times,” I thought I would throw my hat in the ring just one last time!

Sunday Social

How did you come up with your blog name? When we found out we were expecting our first little, I made the decision to move from my previous blogging space.  Being a midwestern gal and starting the “nesting” process – along with the fact that it rhymed (!!!) – I thought it was perfect!

What is your favorite thing about blogging? I like knowing my family can keep up with me through what they read.  I love learning things about one of my besties through her blog.  I love meeting new people – and the support I’ve received over the past year and half.  I’ve had some really fabulous people reach out – it’s had an impact on my life I never expected!

What is one thing you have discovered because of blogging and now cant live without? I learned about Advocare through blogging and even though I haven’t been using it since I’ve been pregnant, I’m anxious to get this kid out so I can use some of those products again.  So, I can live without it, but I wouldn’t have gotten on board with it if I hadn’t learned about it through blogging. – And I can’t even begin to name all of the new recipes that have become staples each month that I discovered through blogging. – Or the tops/dresses/purses I’ve tracked down as a result of seeing it on a blog!

Facebook or Twitter? and why?  Neither – Instagram!  I love me some Instagram!

If one celeb read your blog who would you want it to be? Excellent question – I have no idea.  I don’t think I care enough about any of them to be concerned about what they read or think of what I share.  I spend too much time “worrying” about people I may know (in real life) finding my blog. Ha. I just think it’d be awkward if a coworker found it – so I’ll just focus my energy on hoping that doesn’t happen!

What is something you want people to know about your blog? I have a constant internal battle about what sort of things to share.  I know some people get so tired of all the baby stuff – but it’s also a pretty major thing happening in my life.  As I’ve gone through my pregnancy I’ve loved reading about other women’s experiences.  However, I know that there are plenty of people that are not yet to that point in their lives or are so far past it that couldn’t care less about some of what I share.  I just don’t knowwww…

Summer Reading

I have a love/hate relationship with reading.  I love it so much – but when a story really takes me in, I’ll be MIA for hours or days on end.  No joke.

For example –

I was in college when I started reading the Twilight series.  Specifically, I was on an airplane to AFRICA when I started reading the first book.  I was so enthralled that I spent majority of my nights (alone) in the hotel reading my little heart out while the rest of the group experienced the local nightlife in Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco.  Granted, to this day, I’m not a nightlife kind of girl, so there is zero part of me that regrets it.  Mostly because as others in my group were nursing hangovers, I was able to fully enjoy the sites and sounds of the cities all day long.

(No judging please.  I think the movies fully ruined those books.  I’m only semi-embarassed that I loved them so much.)

Anyhow.

I’m a streaky reader, too.  Meaning, I will go about a month where I read book after book nonstop, but then I’ll go three or four without any desire to read a word (outside of the the many blogs that I pour over every single day)!

One of my favorite parts about visiting my parents (outside of my parents, of course) is knowing that I have extended periods of time with minimal distraction where I can sit and read for hours or days on end.  They live a ways from mostly everything, which means it’s perfectly quiet – except for that lovely waterfall flowing into their beautiful pool.  Or the occasional elk that decides he wants to try and eat one of their dogs.  But, that’s a story for a different day.

Summer Reading - mwnHere’s what I’ve been enjoying thus far this summer –

Me Before You – JoJo Moyes
The story centers around Louisa, an ordinary girl, desparetely needing a job.  She finds work caring for Will, a man wheelchair bound after an accident.  Louisa finds herself surprised that Will’s happiness becomes so important to her and sets out on a mission to show him that life is worth living.
Last summer, I read Moyes’ Blackberry Winter.  That is a great book and highly recommend that one as well.  But, that’s how I got turned on to her novels.   The book takes a turn I never would have expected.  I had tears and lots of smiles – overall, a quick and easy read.

The Last Letter from Your Lover – JoJo Moyes
In 1960, Jennifer  wakes in the hospital and remembers nothing—not the car accident that put her there, not her wealthy husband, not even her own name. Searching for clues, she finds an impassioned letter, signed simply “B,” from a man for whom she seemed willing to risk everything. In 2003, journalist Ellie stumbles upon the letter and becomes obsessed with learning the unknown lovers’ fate—hoping it will inspire her own happy ending. (synopsis taken from amazon)
This book is written in similar style to Blackberry Winter – in that it skips between present time and the past. I was rooting for the main characters through its entirety.

The One (final book in The Selection triology) – Kiera Cass
The Selection triology follows a Bachelor-like process, in which the Prince Maxon of Illea (future USA) must find his princess.  America is selected to enter the competition.  In the third book, America must finally decide if she has feelings for Maxon or if her heart still lies with her childhood love, Aspen.  And even if she does choose Maxon, will Maxon choose her?
I love, love, LOVED this trilogy.  After reading the Hunger Games, I fell in love with the dystopian genre.  Honestly, after I originally read a summary of the book, I thought it sounded so silly, but gave it a go anyway.  I haven’t talked to a person yet that hasn’t enjoyed them as much as I have!

If I Stay – Gayle Forman
Mia is in a tragic accident, though she has no memory of it.  In its wake, she pieces together all that she has lost, what she has left, and her decision to stay or go.
I chose to read this after seeing a preview for the film they’re making based off of the book. Parts of Mia’s relationship with her boyfriend seem a little deep for a high school romance, but in the end you can’t help but root for them.

Where She Went – Gayle Forman
A fantastic follow up to If I stay, it follows Mia’s boyfriend, Adam.  Adam’s music career has made him wildly successful.  Meanwhile, Mia has moved on, without Adam, to become a world class cellist.  When their paths unexpectedly cross in NYC years later, they spend a night reconnecting and gaining understanding that was lost in the aftermath of Mia’s tragic accident.
I think I liked this one more than If I Stay.  Again, there are parts of Adam’s reality that seem unrealistic (and annoying – get over it already!), but I couldn’t help but get wrapped up in the story.  Highly, highly recommend these two books!

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald – Therese Anne Fowler
Told from Zelda’s perspective it follows the rise and fall of the Fitzgeralds in the 20’s – giving insight on just who the infamous Zelda Fitzgerald really was.
I loved The Paris Wife by Paula McLain.  Historic fiction is another genre I tend to enjoy quite a bit, so upon learning of Z, I thought it’d be another easy read.  Not so much.  I had to pick it up several times (with months between) before it finally captured my attention. In the end I enjoyed it, but I still haven’t decided if it was worth the effort.

The One & Only: A Novel – Emily Giffin
Shea has lived her entire life in Walker, TX, a town that lives and dies with its football team.  Along with her best friend, Lucy (who also happens to be the daughter of Walker’s head football coach), Shea grows up living and breathing college football.  When tragedy strikes their small community, Shea forces herself to reevaluate where she is and where it is she wants to go, finding unexpected love along the way.
This was a little far-fetched for me.  Not to mention I don’t love football, I’m more of a fair-weather fan, so I found myself skimming a few sections where it talked a lot of football. Of Giffin’s novels, this was my least favorite, but enjoyable regardless. 

Just One Day – Gayle Forman
Allyson has lived a life of order and routine.  After her high school graduation, she goes on an educational tour of Europe where she meets Willem.  When Willem asks her to abandon her plans and join him for a single day in Paris, shockingly, she finds herself saying, ‘yes.’  This uncharacterisctic decision leads Allyson to learn about risk, romance, and liberation – a day that will change her life forever.
Again, there were parts of this I thought to be a little far-fetched, but then I remind myself that it is fiction after all.  I definitely had moments “okay, get over it” (similar to what I had in Forman’s Where She Went), but again, found myself rooting for her.  I wanted her to find answers and closure.  You’ll have to read to discover what she finds.

Just One Year – Gayle Forman
When he opens his eyes, Willem doesn’t know where in the world he is—Prague or Dubrovnik or back in Amsterdam. All he knows is that he is once again alone, and that he needs to find a girl named Lulu. They shared one magical day in Paris, and something about that day—that girl—makes Willem wonder if they aren’t fated to be together. He travels all over the world, from Mexico to India, hoping to reconnect with her. But as months go by and Lulu remains elusive, Willem starts to question if the hand of fate is as strong as he’d thought. (synopsis taken from amazon)
I’m in the midst of this one right now.  It’s interesting to see Willem’s perspective on events that transpire after he spends the day in Paris withe Allyson.  I have a feeling I’m going to get anxious, knowing where ultimately ends up (because of how Just One Day ends), but I’m trying not to skim!  That’s the perk of reading on a Kindle – I can’t easily read the last few pages to get my answers!

I honestly recommend any of these books.  I won’t bother finishing a book I can’t read.  I picked up The Book Thief (Markus Zusak) numerous times and I could just never get through it.  I don’t know if it was the writing style or if I just found it plain boring.  I think it was more the boring part – if I’m being totally transparent.  But, it’s a darn good thing we don’t all like the same things.  I don’t fully expect each of you to enjoy all of the books I’ve listed – but I did – so therefore I’m recommending them.

Happy reading!

Ugh. Monday.

This post’s photos did not transfer over to my new blog. 

Effin’ Monday.

There have been times when I have felt like Monday got a bad wrap.  Yesterday was not one of those times.

I didn’t even stand a chance yesterday.  My day went to hell before I even made it out of the garage to go to work.  Literally.

Mmmhmmm.  That shit happened.  It was only a matter of time, really.  I’m impatient.  I’m almost always in a hurry.  My mind has been cluttered with god-knows-what for weeks.  And yesterday, my cluttered mind and carelessness bit me in the ass.  I took my mirror off backing out of the garage.

Dammit.

Craig seems to think he can replace it himself, so he ordered a mirror last night.  Surprisingly, he wasn’t as mad at me as I thought he would be.  He must’ve sensed that I was beating myself up enough.  Coz I was.  I mean, really?  REALLY!?  Backing out of my own garage!?

Happy Effing Monday.

Here’s to a better Tuesday.

PS. I made an exception for myself today regarding my birthday resolution of cleaning up my language.  The combination of Monday and catastrophe makes it okay.  Yeah?

Three on Sunday

Time for Sunday Social!  Thanks to Neely for hosting!

1. Top 3 things you cant go a day without doing
Brushing my teeth
Texting my husband
Checking Instagram (priorities, ya know)

2. 3 things that scare you the most
Losing a loved one
Failure
Paranormal Activity

3. 3 places you want to see before you kick the bucket
St. Lucia
Australia
Antarctica
((I’ve been to 5 of the 7 continents – want to get to them all!)

4. 3 movies you will always love
Princess Bride
Beauty and the Beast
The Little Mermaid
((I also watched Frozen for the first time this weekend – LOVED it))

5. 3 favorite current songs
Stubborn Love – The Lumineers

Say Something – Great Big World

It Will Rain – Bruno Mars

Not Today.

Early January.

I had started my new job and Craig was less than 24 hours away from starting his.

Sitting in a diner with an old friend and co worker, her husband, and Craig.

She says to me, “Wow, so many new changes.  Moving, new house, new jobs.  Next thing you know, you’ll be pregnant!”

With a small smile and sideways glance to my husband, I laugh and say, “Yeah, wouldn’t that be something!?”

Craig and I had a secret.  I was pregnant.

And then I wasn’t anymore.  Three trips to the clinic, more ultrasounds than I can count, ultimately confirmed that, yes, I was pregnant.  But, I wasn’t anymore.

And then came the heartbreak.  Then came the days of denial.  Of anger.  Of tears.

Those days have been running parallel to the days I second guess my career change; to the days I’ve made a drive to Madison and not remembered how it was that I actually got there.  Days when I sit in a room of people and feel utterly alone.

Parallel to the days that I feel defeated.  Exhausted.  Confused.

The love and kindness of most has helped distract me from the ugliness of the past weeks.  And while there isn’t much they can do to keep me from feeling alone, they’ve done wonders reminding me that I am loved and that they’re waiting patiently for me to realize that I’m not alone – and that I never was.

I know that brighter days are coming.  I know that one day I will feel okay.

It just won’t be today.