Monday, November 30, 2020

November 2020 Reads

 It's my last book post of the year, wow! And what a year it's been, huh?

My goal for 2020 was to read 100 books. I'm now at 93, with 8 of these coming in November. I'm excited that I'll be able to make my goal this year!

Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall - My mother-in-law loaned me this book, and it was really good. It's told from the POV of a 9-year-old white girl, Starla, living with her grandmother in the south in the 1960s. She runs away from home and hitchhikes with a black woman, Eula. It was simplistic in its story-telling {since a 9-year-old is our storyteller} with such great lessons and insights as Starla learns about life, love, racism, family. I felt like it could have felt forced or hokey but it wasn't. I was really engaged and invested in the story and thought it was a winner.

My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan - Holy geez. This one gave me all the feels and then some. Ella is a Rhodes scholar spending a year at Oxford and has strong expectations for how her year will go. All of that is turned upside down when she has a confrontation with Jamie...who turns out to be one of her teachers. I thought this was going to be a 'typical' chick-lit romance and it was NOT AT ALL. It took a minute for Ella to grow on me, but once she did, I was all in. I read this in 2 days, staying up super late to finish, was bawling at the end, and then re-read about half of it before it was due. There is a huge reveal about halfway through that totally changed the story I was expecting, and it was so, so good.

Still Mine by Amy Stuart - I think I finally figured out why I don't love thrillers. I value connections, and love to get to know the characters really well in a book. In a thriller, there is always so much mystery about the characters, so much hidden, so much slowly being uncovered. I feel like I never connect with the characters or it takes a really long time, and since I value connections so much, I end up feeling like something is lacking. The other issue I can have is when the main character is a bad person - it's a similar issue, but when I don't like the person I'm following, that is also a challenge for me! This was a thriller about an investigation of a missing girl in a coal mining community dying after a mine explosion killed miners and closed the mine. The mystery was interesting, and I thought the resolution was pretty unique. If you like thrillers, this one was pretty good. If you feel like me...meh ha. This is a trilogy, which intrigues me a little, so we'll see if I read anymore of them.

Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert - Last year, I read Get a Life, Chloe Brown and really enjoyed it. This was the 2nd of 3 books about the Brown sisters. This one follows Dani, who doesn't have relationships, and Zafir, who is all about romance and finding his happy ending, and what happens when they are 'fake' dating to gain support for Zaf's charity. Pretty predictable in some ways, but I like this author and her writing style and really liked the characters of Dani and Zaf. This is definitely R-rated.

The Day the World Came to Town by Jim DeFede - Another winner! I chose this for the Blog Friends Book Club, and it was fantastic. I had this book on my TBR list after seeing Come From Away in February. {Remember when we could go to a theater and see a play? SOB.} I thought this would be a great book for our book club because this is a story of 7,000 passengers from flights all over the world that were stranded in Gander, Newfoundland after the 9/11 terror attacks, and we have 3 Americans {from different parts of the US} and a Canadian. We had a really great time discussing it and all shared our 'where we were on 9/11' stories. 

Life Will Be the Death of Me...and You Too! by Chelsea Handler - My BFF, Kristen, gave me this book {along with Still Mine} and I had no idea what to expect. I've never read anything by Chelsea Handler and only know her personality through her TV show. Well this was surprisingly good! This is her 5th book I think and I think they are all memoirs, but this one focused on her experiences in therapy and especially around her healing from her brother's death. It was a really touching book, and I came away with a lot more respect for Chelsea. It was also really well written, and I want to read some of her other books now!

The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson - Holy smokes. This book was phenomenal. This subject, the Great Migration, was an undertaking, and I am in awe of Isabel Wilkerson. She specifically tells the story of 3 Black people who migrated from the South in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s - to Chicago, New York, and California. The amount of work that went into this book is mind-boggling - she was so thorough in telling these stories - and so engaging, it honestly felt like fiction it was so well-written! She also tells a lot of the history of the South during the Jim Crow era and the struggles faced by Black people during that period. It was hard to read but SO WORTH IT. I learned so much and am now extremely excited for her 2020 book, Caste. I'm on 149 on the wait list, so I'm sure I'll get it any day now. {grin}

The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine - I definitely ended the month on a high-note with this one! Ignore everything I said about thrillers above because this one knocked my socks off. Reading a book like this is why I keep coming back to thrillers - if they were all like this, I'd never stop! I think most people read this book 3 years ago, ha, but I'm so glad I finally got around to it. This story follows Amber, who befriends Daphne only to get close to Daphne's family and eventually Daphne's extremely wealthy husband. The first half of the book is Amber's side of the story and the second half is Daphne's. It is wicked and diabolical and delicious, I ate it up!!

And that was my November! I had my 3rd tie for favorite book of the month between My Oxford Year and The Warmth of Other Suns. They both really got to me - in vastly different ways - this month, and I loved them both!

Trent has pretty much stopped reading with me, but he has started reading the Artemis Fowl series on his own and is really into it! He lost interest in The Vanderbeekers book we started last month, but I want to see how it ends, so I might just finish it on my own ha.

Drew and I just started The Never Girls series - I'm kind of annoyed because it's something I want to get her for Christmas and she randomly picked 2 of them at the library {and not the first ones in the series ha}, but I want to increase her interest in reading, so I'm willing to read whatever she wants!

Now onto all things Christmas!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Currently: Gobble Gobble

 Current Book

No doubt in my mind, this will be one of my favorites of the year.

Everything I've got downloaded!

Current Song

Joel Corry Head and Heart
I get a little crazy when this comes on in Jazzercise!

Current TV Show

The Last Kingdom
A friend told me to start this, and it is awesome!

Current Podcast

Whoa. This is fantastic. If you like true crime, PLEASE listen to this.

Current Drink

I am about to make some hot chocolate!!

Current Food

All I can think about is that chocolate pie I'm going to get on Thursday.

Current Outfit

I went from pajamas --> workout clothes --> pajamas.

Current Celebrity Crush

Alexander Dreymon - the lead actor of The Last Kingdom

Current Mood

I'm feeling ALLLLL the feels - excited for whatever holidays we will get, happy to be off work, nervous my kids won't go back to school, worried my dad will catch COVID...just a bit tornado of feelings!

Current Anticipation

Thanksgiving is definitely different this year [see above], but I'm still excited!

Current Wishlist

I am so behind where I normally am on Christmas shopping, and I'm starting to stress about it. I really need to get in gear on this!

Current Film

I am suspending this category for the time being. So sad.

Current Picture

Rocking my baby to sleep because babies don't keep {sob}

Friday, November 20, 2020

Five on Friday



I am jonesing hard over these Birkenstocks. How cute are they?!
I bought my first pair of Birks this year and they do WONDERS for my old lady feet.


PB Whiskey Drink

Possibly the best drink I've ever had.
And PB whiskey by itself is also heavenly!


Christmas Dresses

Eleanor Rose has been KNOCKING it out of the park with their holiday dresses. I have already bought Drew and Paige's! Girl moms - hustle to their site ASAP and look at all the cute options! Any guesses as to which ones I got D and P?


File This Under 'Things That Make Me Happy'

Holiday cups!!



The kids and I have the next week off, and I am basically delirious with joy. I think we could all use a break from the alarm clock and zoom and masks and rushing around. We are going to decorate inside {outside is already done, yay!}, listen to carols, play, read books, watch movies, and just enjoy a lazy week!

Wednesday, November 18, 2020


 Anyone struggling with the implications of rising COVID cases? My mind is a hot mess as I wonder about school, work, economy, illness, upcoming holidays, everything. Part of me wants to blog about it to get it out, and part of me wants to bottle it up and shove it back down.

So let's look at some memes that made me laugh recently, shall we? {grin}

Any of these really speaking to you right now? Please tell me I'm not alone with the spiraling thoughts!

Monday, November 16, 2020

It Was No Costa Rica...a Weekend Away

You may remember that Brent and I turned 40 this year and planned a trip to Costa Rica with friends, several of whom also turned 40. Obviously our trip didn't happen, and we are still unsure of when we can re-book our trip. So we decided to take a little getaway this past weekend with friends to a town about 90 minutes away. We had such a blast with our friends!

My view from the back porch with a drink - it was gorgeous and so relaxing!

The gang! 6 of the 8 went to Puerto Vallarta together in 2008, so crazy.

Dez ~ Rhonda ~ Allena ~ Susie

Neighbors and friends!

We stayed at a ranch that was about 5 miles outside of town, so Friday we went and had lunch in town and then came back to the house to hang out. We brought enough food to read us all for a week, and we made a Mexican food buffet Friday night.

Hot tub shenanigans

Saturday we went into town again and hit up a local winery and did some shopping.

It was just a little windy. {grin}

Do you think we have enough dips?

The guys grilled steaks for dinner Saturday night and we stayed up WAY too late playing drinking games, listening to music {and singing along badly}, and having general merriment without work, kids, or other responsibilities getting in the way. It was glorious!

What I had to wear when I lost one game. Sigh.

Out of order but I'm too lazy to go fix it - another shot from the winery.

Just some of the damage before we cleaned up Sunday morning!

We enjoyed another fun lunch and then headed home to our babies. My parents kept them for the weekend, and they had a terrible time, NOT!

Making LOTS of art

The YouTube king!

It was really great to get away and enjoy some adult time. We're still really hoping we can make Costa Rica work, but until then, we will continue to enjoy everything Texas has to offer!

Friday, November 13, 2020

School Check-In

We are finishing our 7th week of in-person school! After surviving 5 weeks of virtual school, we have been back in real in-person school for 7 weeks and counting. I thought it would be to check-in for how things are going in this new world of Covid school.

Overall, things are going really well - better than I honestly would have guessed or even hoped. The kids don't mind wearing masks at all {which I was super worried about} and everyone has settled into a pretty good routine. There have been 3 Covid cases at school, and none have been in any of our kids' classes.

Trent: Let's start with the good news first. He is having his best year ever! We have had zero hiccups this year, and that hasn't happened EVER for this kid. He had a new teacher this year, but he has settled in and has friends and is very happy every day. BUT his teacher had a family situation get worse and has had to leave the school. I was so bummed! They have a long-term sub who has been with them the past week while the school looks to hire someone new. AND one of his best friends left too. I'm hopeful these changes won't mess up what has started off so great.

Drew: She is loving everything about school! She has a little group of girlfriends and is happy to go to school every day. Her new guide seems to be really nice and a great teacher. Drew is really learning a lot, and I've seen her reading skills and math skills increase a lot already.

Paige: This little nugget is having the hardest start to school, but she is settling in. It was a rough transition to change schools after 6 months at home. She has cried almost every day at drop-off for the first few weeks, but her guide has told me the tears stop really fast. She hasn't cried for the last week but still gets anxious and wimpers and asks for lots of extra hugs. She has several friends she talks about every day {one being a little girl who she LOVES and is the little sister of one of Drew's besties}, and she's happy when I pick her up. Once we can get past our drop-off anxiety, I think we'll be in great shape!

I'm really pleased with how school is going, and while I hate the masks and plastic screens and that they can't use much of the Montessori materials, I know this will just be a blip on the radar. Some positives are the kids are getting extra recesses every day - I love that they get more fresh air, sunshine and exercise, they seem to be learning a lot despite the challenges, and they are HAPPY. What more could I ask for??

Ready for picture day!

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

10 on the 10th {November 2020}

Here's some little glimpses into the 10th of November. Just a regular old day around our hood.


A little Body Flow to start my day


The one call every week where we all get on video on Zoom.


Susie and I went on a walk since Body Flow is wonderful-but not much for caloric burn.


After school hugs for Daddy!


Unicorns and Converse - I love little girl style!


Pumpkins with a little added nod to Thanksgiving


Drew loves editing pictures - me and Paigey having a little snuggle!


Working with Paige struggles to fall asleep


Reading after getting so fresh and so clean, clean


The inside is still fall, but the outside is starting to get decked.
I blame 2020 for starting so early! And don't worry, there will be more!