Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Book Club: February

Today is the last day of the month!  It is so hard to believe tomorrow is February.  We thought January would be little bit slower of a month, but that was just not the case.  We did manage to get some reading in this month though and can't wait to share with you all!  


Alright, remember when I shared my New Year's resolutions and once again put "reading more" on my list of goals for this year.  I'm going to try. I really am! I love to read, but just don't make the time for it. Even if I could just read one book a month I feel like that would be better than what I did last year.

This month I read Class Mom by Laurie Gelman.  I had heard about this book from several people and Jen and passed it along to me when she finished it.  

Not being able to say no is a real problem I have. Being involved in just about any and everything with my kids from class mom to team mom, I could totally relate to this book.  It follows the story of an older Kindergarten mom who is put into the role of class mom by her best friend, who happens to be the PTA President.  It's funny, witty, and has some plot twists thrown in there also. It was a light and easy read, but I think I had built this book up more in my head.  It isn't that I didn't like it, but I just didn't love it how I thought I would.  There were parts that seemed pretty far-fetched to me and I guess that sort of bothered me when reading it.  Again, not a bad book, but not my favorite.

Okay, I made it back onto the reading train after a kind of sluggish December. Thank goodness for a snow storm and a few good books I just couldn't put down. I loved all three of my selections this month, and that hasn't happened in a long time. All three were quite different, but oh so good!

First up was Dan Brown's latest in his Robert Langdon series

I always love these books once I get into them. Origin follows a tech genius and a big reveal he plans to unveil that will rock the religious community. In the middle of his reveal something happens and Langdon begins a fast paced mission to release the presentation. The topic of these books are always somewhat controversial, but I love how they always keep you on your toes, and I love the history intertwined in them. Brown tends to use a lot of real facts in his stories, and I find myself Googling to see what is really true and what is not. Origin had kind of a crazy twist at the end, but I won't spoil any secrets. It was a quick and edge of your seat read, and if some religious topics don't bother you I would highly suggest it if you like mystery whodunit style books. 

Next up was maybe a book that I would put in contention for a favorite for the year. I know it's early, but I walked away thinking how good it was!  

A friend suggested The Last Mrs. Parrish to me, and while I am not typically a psychological thriller lover, I was intrigued. I could not put this book down. It kept me on the edge of my seat (or bed since that's where I read), and while it was kind of a crazy story it wasn't as gruesome as some in this genre where you can't sleep at night and you are nervous that everyone around you is a psychopath. I read it in like a day and a half, and each little tidbit kept sucking me in more. The end was also just so good! If you liked books like The Women in Cabin 10 then this book is totally for you! I would definitely put this one on your reading list for the year! 

Last up for the month was Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid. 

Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

This book is also in early contention as a favorite of the year. It's just hard to picture another book touching me as much as this one. The story is so unique in the way it was written and I was so torn on how I wanted it to turn out. The story follows Hannah Martin who just moved back home. She goes to a party and meets her old boyfriend and who might just be the "one who got away". He asks her right off the bat to stay with him and she has to make a choice: to stay or go home? The story shares with you the outcome of both decisions. I thought this would be confusing, but it was written so well and I love love loved every page of it. Just when I was cheering for one way, the next chapter would have me cheering for the other way. I don't want to give anything away, but the end was so good, and totally not what I was picturing. It makes you think and you want so much more. Maybe in Another Life is such a good book, and if you like Colleen Hoover style writing I would say read this (and maybe even venture to say I like Reid's books a little bit more now that I've had a few under my belt). 


When I was trying to decide what to download on my Kindle next I texted a few friends and asked for some suggestions.  I keep an on-going list in the "notes" section on my phone and thanks to them, I now I have a really long list of great books to read.

First up though I think I'm going to go with The Last Mrs. Parrish

I read a review on another blog I read and was instantly intrigued so I immediately texted Jen and asked if she had read it (before we wrote this post) and she said, "YES!!!" I need books that keep me turning the pages and ones I can't put down because if it doesn't grab my attention and keep it from the beginning I have a harder time squeezing in reading time.  I'm so excited to start this one!

I'm grabbing a book that's been in my reading pile for awhile, but that I've put on the back burner until now. First up for me in February is The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams. 

The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams

I've heard such great things about this book and I loved A Hundred Summers that I read by Williams last year. It was one of my favorite books that I read last year (it didn't make my top three, but it was close!), and I am hoping this one is just as good! 

What are you currently reading? Anything we should add to our list for February? We both have trips coming up this month so share with us some great vacation reads!


| January

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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Celebrate Life Trip {California Dreaming}

Back in December I shared some travel planning we were doing for 2018. Today I'm doing the same, but just planning things a little farther out.  Almost 10 years ago the Mr. came up with the idea for a "Celebrate Life Trip" where we go on vacation with some of our best friends and do just what the name calls for...celebrate life!  Because of busy schedules and kids (so many kids), it's been a while since we've been able to really do a getaway.  We went to Asheville several years ago and had so much fun.  We've been throwing around the idea for the past couple of years about planning another big celebrate life trip.  Several of us will turn 40 in just a few years (eek!!!), and we thought what better way to celebrate than with a fun vacation!

A few years ago the Mr. and I traveled to San Fransisco for the Super Bowl and went out a few days early so we could do some exploring on our own.  One thing I really wanted to do while we were there was visit wine country, and we had the best time!

I remember the two of us sitting there, tasting our wine while the wine connoisseurs were explaining things to us and asking what flavors we tasted.  Now listen, I consider myself a wine expert, but not one who can pick out distinct flavors.  The Mr. started making up stuff and saying he could taste mushrooms, dirt, etc., and we were all cracking up.  It was at that moment that I had the thought that I wanted to do this kind of trip again, but with a group of friends.

I could just imagine how much fun we would have visiting California with friends, and when I suggested it to them, they were all on board.  Because planning a trip like this will take some time and a lot of organizing (especially to get childcare lined up for all of our kids), we're starting early so we make sure it really happens.

Here is the deal though, as much as I love wine, as much as my friends love wine, there are only so many days you can spend touring wineries, and having tastings, so we hope to incorporate some other fun sight-seeing aspects into our California trip also. My thought is we will rent a car and set out to see and do as much as we can while we are there.  When I came across this article on Alamo's Scenic Route, I knew this would really help in planning our trip.  Of the 6 Must-See National and State Parks in California, I'm pretty sure I'd love to see them all.

Photo Courtesy of Alamo's Scenic Route

The redwood trees are something that I have always be fascinated with and wanted to see in person. I imagine you can't even begin to grasp just how large they are until you are there in Humboldt Redwoods State Park.

Photo Courtesy of Alamo's Scenic Route

And seeing views like this at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park or El Captain would probably be enough to make me want to set up camp, send for the kids, and never leave. I don't think these views would ever get old...they are so gorgeous.

Photo Courtesy of Alamo's Scenic Route

So, while this trip is still in the works and a few years away, I'm making my list of must-see destinations and hoping we can find time to squeeze it all in!!!

Have you ever visited California?  What were your favorite parts?

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Friday, January 26, 2018

Things We Love {Apple Watch}

A few years ago when the Apple Watch just came out I surprised the Mr. with one for Christmas and also got the kids VTech Smart Watches.  At the time I didn't think I would ever really be interested in having an Apple watch to replace my regular watches, but boy was I wrong.

Jen bought herself an Apple Watch as a Valentine's gift last year and kept telling me how much she loved it.  So much so that she named it her favorite thing to wear for 2017.

After seeing a lot of people around me start to wear them I decided I might want to give it a go.  I thought about asking for one for Mother's Day, but then my favorite Barrington Bag won out because I knew I would love it and just wasn't sure if I would love a smart watch.

Then the Mr. was at a golf tournament this summer and won an Apple watch there. He texted me to ask if I wanted it before he chose another gift and I replied with a big YES!!!  I started wearing it this summer and haven't looked back.

Now, I still wear my regular watches if I'm getting dressed up or wearing a nicer outfit, but I would say I wear my Apple watch more often than not.  I know there are probably a million things it does that I still am not aware of, but thought it would be fun to share how we use ours, some pros and cons we think about it and get some tips from some of you for how you like to use yours!


 What I love: 
1. That it's waterproof.  I can wear it anywhere and not worry. I wore it in the pool, the lake, the ocean and even down water slides and not once did it mess up.
2. That my hands are free and I don't have my phone on me most of the day.
3. That I can quickly text a response without typing. It's way more accurate than my iPhone.
4. That I can ping my iPhone. I put my phone down so much or the kids take off with it and I have no clue where it is. I love I can use my watch to find it and I have used this a ton!

(For those of you who don't know how to do this. When you are on your home screen, just swipe up and press the little symbol that looks like a phone with parenthesis around it.)

5. That it keep me accountable. Love that I can see how many steps/calories/heart rate during my workouts.
6. That I can use my watch as a nightstand clock. This came in handy while traveling and we didn't have a clock in our room. We were able to just put it on the charger and use it in this mode as our room clock. A tiny one, but in the middle of the night it worked well.
7. That in an emergency I can pay for things through my watch. I've only used this once when I forgot my wallet, but it was so helpful!

What I don't love: 
1. Battery life - I wish it lasted longer.
2. The calories burned/heart rate sometimes is inconsistent.


I'll be honest, some of the stuff Jen told me I didn't even know you could do with it.  She taught me a thing or two, which was the whole idea behind this post in the first place, so hoping it helps someone else, also!

What I love: 
1. That I can set the face to show what I want to know. I have mine on Modular mode and customized it to see the things I care about. I love that I can see the time, date, temperature, weather and my activity levels all on the same screen! 

2. The timer built in on my wrist. I probably use this feature the most of all. If the kids have to read for a certain amount of time or practice math facts for 5 minutes I can set the timer on my watch and then let them know when they are done. Also, if I'm cooking and set the timer on the oven I can also set it on my watch so I can run upstairs to do laundry or something and know when the timer goes off so nothing accidentally burns!  I also set it so it reminds me when to leave for the bus stop in the afternoon. I get busy working on the blog or putting away laundry and then the time I am supposed to leave can sometimes sneak up on me!  

3. Being able to get texts on my watch, especially when I'm busy with the kids. I can quickly glance at it and see if I need to respond right away or if it can wait. 
4. I use my maps app for directions all the time and the directions show up on my watch. It notifies me when I need to get ready to make a turn. So helpful when I'm diving and don't want to glance down at my phone. 
5. Being able to keep up with my activity levels. Seeing how many calories I burn, time I exercise, etc. and trying to complete those little activity rings. It's eyeopening because some days I think I'm more active that I actually am and other days that just seem like a regular day I meet all my goals. 

What I don't love: 
1. I wish the range was a little better. Sometimes if I have my phone in the house and I'm outside playing with the kids it won't work.  Also, if I'm in the basement or far away from my phone in the house it won't connect. 


1. I really want to get some new bands for my watch. I think I'd like the navy, gray, black or tan and be able to switch them out.  

2. My white band gets dingy looking, but a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is the best way I've found to make it super white again. 

3. I also love this leopard one (and it is under $15)!!! This might be going into my Amazon cart!

4. Even though my watch is waterproof I'm afraid to get it wet!  Is that crazy?!  Jen uses her watch in the water all the time.  My mother-in-law uses hers at the lake a lot and it is so handy.  She can be in the water and her phone in the boat and she can see who is calling or texting. Maybe this summer I'll get brave enough to get in the water with mine. I don't know what is wrong with me...just don't want to ruin it! 

Do you have an Apple Watch?  What are you favorite things about it? 
Please share any tips or tricks with us!!!  

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Thursday, January 25, 2018

Rainforest Adventures

This has been a full first week back after the holiday break and a ton of snow days. We've been running around like crazy trying to catch up on things, but we still managed to sneak in some fun. On Tuesday, the girls and I snuck off for a little girls date to see the latest show from The Center for Puppetry Arts. My kids absolutely love the puppet shows the Center puts on and the newest one, Rainforest Adventures, is no exception. 


Rainforest Adventures is a little different from the previous shows we have seen. The story line is less story and more educational.  The kids embark on a rainforest adventure and learn about the ecosystem and animals that inhabit the Amazonian rainforest.

Over the course of about an hour, we were given the opportunity to learn about 30 exotic animals and plant species through puppetry theater, while listening to Brazilian style music.

Rainforest Adventures at The Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta, GA. A great puppet show for kids ages 4 & up!

The show was amazing and surprisingly both girls loved it. I was a little nervous it might be over their heads, but they but the way the Center puts on the show it's highly entertaining and filled with enough humor to engage and get tons of laughs while the little ones are learning.

Note: The show is geared towards ages 4 and up. Baby Cute made it about 45 minutes into the show before she decided she needed some wiggle time. I just snuck us to the back balcony where there weren't any other patrons, and let her run around along the aisle. If you have a little one who might not sit still this section in the back of the theater is so good because one end is attached to a wall. It's kind of like sitting in a large booth - containment! 

If you are in the Atlanta area between now and March 4th, I would definitely put the show on your itinerary and make a date to see it soon! They also have several fun other shows coming up too - The Wizard of Oz and The Cat in the Hat. Both shows look adorable, and I can't wait to take the kids!


After the show we headed upstairs to do make our very own puppet. The kids always love this part. This time it was a marionette puppet of the Pink River Dolphin.

L.C. was so excited because this and the Howler Monkey were her favorite characters in the production.

As always the craft is beautifully laid out with all the materials and decorations you might need. Staff is always there to help with instructions, but it is usually pretty easy for even younger children to follow and make on their own.

This time unfortunately I was having a hard time containing B.C. and her gluing and a few of our other table mates were a little OCD about their crafting experience. So I decided to give everyone a break and asked the girls if they wanted to check out the museum instead.


My kids always love checking out the puppet museum on site. Each time they discover something new, and the museum is so hands on and interactive that it is perfect for kids of all ages. 

My two little ones loved checking out the Sesame Street reading nook set up on the Jim Henson side of the museum. They parked themselves in the bean bag chairs and read for about half an hour. I love that they make their museum geared towards the little ones. 

We made our way around all the exhibits with plenty of playtime in about an hour. The kids would have stayed and played longer, but I knew we will be back again soon and we needed to be home in time to grab Cute off the bus. 

I'm pretty sure our little adventure did it's job though...

Have you been to the Center for Puppetry Arts? What has been your favorite show? A reader shared with us that she saw the Pete the Cat show last year. We are so sad to have missed that one!

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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Baseball Room {Update}

Last spring I shared my ideas for transforming Boo-Boo's room from a nautical theme to the baseball room he was requesting.  My little guy is baseball obsessed (well, really he is obsessed with any sport, but baseball seems to be the top of the list).  

Because baseball tryouts are next week I figured it was finally time to share the progress of the room.  
It still isn't done and that is why I haven't shared it up to this point.  If I'm being honest, I'm dragging my feet on getting the last finishing touches completed. However, I felt like an update was due. Also, I'm hoping this might be the just the thing to make me finally finish those last few things. 

What I Did 
I wanted it to be a pretty easy and inexpensive transition I kept all of his bedding and furniture the same and just switched out the accessories/decor items.  

All of the bedding for his room was navy with some sailboat shams and I had nautical flags hanging above his bed. 

I just switches those out for solid navy shams and we changed the nautical flags to a sign with his name. 

Those wooden letters were actually some I made before he was even born!  

They use to be green on navy boards in his nursery and since we moved to our new house they had just been sitting in the top of his closet. I took the letters off and painted them red and glued them back to the navy boards.  Then the Mr. helped me attach them to a larger wooden board and hang it above his bed. 

Using some of those same wooden boards the Mr. made shelves using brackets so I could put a bunch of fun baseball related stuff on them. 

These wooden boards were actually part of some built-in shelving that was in the original home we bought before the rebuild, so I love that we saved them and ended up using them for shelves all over our house. 

I found some fun baseball stuff for the shelves at all sorts of places like Hobby Lobby and Goodwill. 

I also used a lot of things we already had like a picture from when he got his first ever game ball and his first baseball trophy! 

One of my favorite things in the room is his red wire basket of special baseballs.  Some are autographed by the Braves and others are games balls he has received. I always write on each of the game balls and include the date, his team name, uniform number that season and maybe something special that he did to get the ball.  I will say those special ones he got for something like catching his fist pop fly during a game or hitting his first home run are proudly displayed! 

A funny little note about his dresser.  It was actually was used as a changing table for my brothers and I when we were little and then I painted it and used it as changing table for both Blondie and Boo-Boo.  I switched the knobs out for these baseball knobs and love the little detail it adds. 

On his dresser sits a baseball lamp I found at Hobby Lobby (similar here).  

Also, I repurposed a tray left over from the nautical room and it now holds all sorts of goodies and treasures he may toss in there.  That Braves mug is one my dad sent him along with a baseball from the 1995 season when the Braves won the World Series!!!  My dad and brother have always been big Braves fans so it was such a special addition for his room. 

What's Left To Do 
There are really only two things left I want to do for his room. I'd love to add a whole gallery wall with some action shots similar to this.  

I'm hoping to use some photos I already have and get a photographer friend come help with some more photos this season. 

The other thing I really want to add in his room is a desk. He has a small lego table that he rarely plays with anymore. Instead I'd love to replace it with a desk, or better yet, something built in similar to this find on Pinterest. 

So there you have it...the update of the baseball room!  Maybe by the end of this baseball season I'll have it finished and will be able to share those last little bits. Or maybe not considering baseball season is usually pretty busy for us, but one can hope, right!? 

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