Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Reading Log 2014

I was just looking over my list of books for this year and comparing it to the previous two years. I shouldn't be surprised that I have read more books this year, but I actually was and tells me that I'm an "overachiever," which kind of nice. This year, I had set a goal on there to read 60 books, and I completed 66! (I thought about just linking that list for a super-lazy blog post, but I'm currently thinking that I need to get back to writing more... so here goes.)

Here are some random facts that have to do with the books I read this year:

  • My only actual resolution for this year was to read more classics. I intentionally phrased the goal that way so that I couldn't fail! I went from reading zero classic literature in recent years to 5 classics this year. Also, I learned an important lesson: There's a reason I wasn't previously reading this stuff. I sort of hate it! Hence, I went back to reading what I want, largely chick lit and murder mysteries, for which I will make no apologies. Read what you like!
  • My new favorite author is Meg Cabot. I started reading Meg Cabot this year because goodreads suggested her, and it was so right on. I love her sense of humor and her voice.
  • After having read most every adult novel by Meg Cabot that I could get my hands on, I moved on to her teen books. These are fun, too, and very satisfying if you want a quick read and something a bit lighter than those dreary classics that some people claim that you must read. (Again, I suggest that you read what you like!!)
  • Fun fact: I just recently read The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot (see above), and you might be interested to know that this is actually where my daughter's name came from. (Although, it was from the movie, since I hadn't read the book at the time. Also, the book is, of course, better.)
  • Most of the other books I read were chosen because I liked the titles or the art on the spine (lots of cupcakes and that sort of thing drew my attention). 
  • However, one recurring theme, which I don't know if I selected intentionally or not was relationships of women with other women, specifically sisters. While I do not have sisters, I do have sisters-in-law (one new just this year!). Anyway, the main thing that struck me is that I've been having conflicts with other women in recent months (not the sisters-in-law, thankfully!), so I can't help but wonder if my mind was trying to problem-solve for me.
  • This year, I read my first e-book, Insatiable by Meg Cabot. It was the first of several e-books I have now read (most of which were also by Meg Cabot).
  • I also listened to my first audiobook, The Matchmaker by Elin Hilderbrand. I won this from the library, and I thought it would be cool to listen to a book while making a trip Up North with the kids, minus Brett. My thought was they were ready to listen to their DVDs with headphones, so I would be safe to listen to an adult book. And I was wrong. They weren't all that keen to keep headphones on for that long, and this was definitely not a good book for their little ears to hear snippets of. It took me at least another couple of weeks following that trip (possibly longer, I don't exactly remember the details, just that it was tedious for me) to finish listening to this book whenever they were not in the car with me (which I am sure you can guess, wasn't all that frequently). 
  • Lastly, I've also read some really powerful non-fiction works this go-round, so let me know if you'd care to chat about any of those. 

On second thought, here's that link -- just in case I've already bored you and you don't want to read the following list of books -- or you just want to view all that cover art that seems to grab my attention when I'm browsing the bookshelves at our local library.
  1. The Green Hour: A Daily Dose Nature for Happier, Healthier, Smarter Kids by Todd Christopher
  2. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Other Stories by Robert Louis Stevenson
  3. Death of a Trophy Wife by Laura Levine
  4. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  5. Valentine Murder by Leslie Meier
  6. Nineteen Eighty-four by George Orwell
  7. Killer Blonde by Laura Levine
  8. Killing Bridezilla by Laura Levine
  9. Killer Cruise by Laura Levine
  10. The PMS Murder by Laura Levine
  11. New Year's Eve Murder by Leslie Meier
  12. The Hen of the Baskervilles by Donna Andrews
  13. Death by Pantyhose by Laura Levine
  14. The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom
  15. The First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Albom
  16. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
  17. Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella
  18. In the Bag by Kate Klise
  19. Death of a Neighborhood Witch by Laura Levine
  20. Trick or Treat Murder by Leslie Meier
  21. Father's Day Murder by Leslie Meier
  22. Time of My Life by Allison Winn Scotch
  23. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
  24. The Taste of Apple Seeds by Katharina Hagena
  25. The One That I Want by Allison Winn Scotch
  26. Trains and Lovers by Alexander McCall Smith
  27. What Looks Like Crazy by Charlotte Hughes
  28. Pie Town by Lynne Hinton
  29. Nutcase by Charlotte Hughes
  30. High Anxiety by Charlotte Hughes
  31. Killing Cupid by Laura Levine
  32. The Memory Garden by Laura Rickert
  33. Queen of Babble by Meg Cabot
  34. Queen of Babble in the Big City by Meg Cabot
  35. Queen of Babble Gets Hitched by Meg Cabot
  36. The Glass Kitchen by Linda Francis Lee
  37. Twisted Sisters by Jen Lancaster
  38. Insatiable by Meg Cabot 
  39. Overbite by Meg Cabot
  40. Size 12 is Not Fat by Meg Cabot
  41. Size 14 is Not Fat Either by Meg Cabot
  42. Big Boned by Meg Cabot
  43. Personality Plus: How to Understand Others by Understanding Yourself by Florence Littauer
  44. Doing It at the Dixie Dew by Ruth Moose
  45. The Right Thing by Amy Conner
  46. Here I Go Again by Jen Lancaster
  47. Stay by Allie Larkin
  48. The Matchmaker by Elin Hilderbrand 
  49. Thin, Rich, Pretty by Beth Harbison
  50. When in Doubt, Add Butter by Beth Harbison
  51. Comfort Food by Kate Jacobs
  52. Every Boy's Got One by Meg Cabot
  53. Unleashing the Power of Rubber Bands: Lessons in Non-Linear Leadership by Nancy Ortberg
  54. Known & Loved: 52 Devotions from the Psalms by Caryn Rivadeneira
  55. The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands by Lysa TerKeurst
  56. Carry On, Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life by Glennon Doyle Melton
  57. Avalon High by Meg Cabot
  58. Size 12 and Ready to Rock by Meg Cabot
  59. The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
  60. All-American Girl by Meg Cabot
  61. Boy Meets Girl by Meg Cabot
  62. Secret Santa by Fern Michaels (and others)
  63. The Bride Wore Size 12 by Meg Cabot
  64. Christmas Carol Murder by Leslie Meier
  65. A Winter Wonderland by Fern Michaels (and others)
  66. Princess in the Spotlight by Meg Cabot
"There are two stories for every life; the one you live and the one others tell." ~ Mitch Albom, The First Phone Call from Heaven

December at Our House

You can learn so much by listening to children. Here are some great words of wisdom from mine.

M {while eating mashed potatoes}: "You know what my favorite thing about potatoes is? They're healthy! They're a vegetable and they grow in the ground... And so, potato chips are healthy!"
I think her logic, however flawed, would appeal to a lot of folks.

M: "Come take his {the elf on the shelf} picture. I can't believe he's always 'cheesing.'"
Yeah, it's almost like his smile is painted on.

Brett {said while kids were brushing teeth before bed}: "Hey, that wasn't two minutes, Bud."
L: "Yes, it was because I did it super sonic! That means really fast."
Where does he come up with this stuff?

Brett {said to Logan, who is on his back being silly}: "What are you doing to my hair?"
L: "Petting it!"

L: "I'm going to tell Mom! She licked my toe that was sticking out of this." {holds up footie pajamas, which on closer inspection, have a hole in the foot}
I don't even know where to begin here.

L: "I'm going to play Words with Friends." {goes and gets an old flip phone that he uses as a toy}
Me: "How are you going to do that?"
L: "I just push the thing that gets me there. Then I'll start on the first level and when I'm done with that, I'll go to the next level."
He must have gotten bored with his "game" because he moved on to taking "pictures" with the phone.
Next, he figured out that the pull-up antenna made a nice boing sound when he flicked it. This continued for a bit.
L: "I'm going to read a book on my phone. Well, actually, I need to make a call."
Me: "Who are you going to call?"
L: "My friend Bitch-it."
You'll be happy to know that Bridget is the name of one of the high school girls who works at his preschool. The question is why I've never heard him mention her before, you know, since she apparently tops the list of people he needs to call.

L: "My head is trying to make my eyes be closed-ed."
I hate when that happens.

L: "My bottom just sort of whistled like a tea kettle."
Classic. I busted a gut from this one.

{Santa's Little Helpers}

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Elf on the Shelf: Year 4

Admittedly, I wasn't really in the Christmas spirit this year, but I was determined to maintain one of my favorite family traditions! Thankfully, Brett helped me on more than one occasion, either reminding me to move our elf, Coconut E. Butterfly (Coco, for short), or else doing it for me. (Have I mentioned that he's awesome?)

Here's what Coco was up to in 2014. (Remember, he is not a naughty elf, so this is totally family-friendly.) Also, in case you're wondering, he usually makes his return right after Thanksgiving.

{Day 1: Sitting in the arm chair with a note.}
{Day 2: And he's already getting a bit carried away...}
{Day 3: Quick! Hide the elf. How about right here on top of the decoration boxes? }
{Day 4: Relaxing after folding all the towels}
{Day 5: I wonder what he was doing on the computer?}
{Day 6: This silverware drawer is just the right size.}
{Day 7: Toilet paper is cozier than you might think.}
{Day 8: Helping with the dishes}

{Day 9: Rock Star Elf!}

{Day 10: Coco is a Dolphins fan. Brett's idea, of course.}

{Day 11: Feeling a bit puzzled?}
{Day 12: Coco's on a roll... down the stairs!}
{Day 13: Splish splash, in the dollhouse bath}
{Day 14: Hanging out in the pantry with some elfin pals}
{Day 15: In Logan's room}
{Day 16: In the dog's stocking -- because we needed a quick hiding spot}
{Day 17: Hanging around outside Mia's room}
{Day 18: A friendly game of Uno}

{Day 19: Coco is a bit of a lightweight.}
{Day 20: Wheeee!}
{Day 21: A gentle reminder to brush those pearly whites!}
{Day 22: About to win a sack race!}
{Day 23: Buckled into Logan's car seat}
{Day 24: Coco loves a new Jamicure!}
{Day 25: Playing with Mama's jewelry -- the kids said he was hula hooping!}
{Day 26: Angry Birds has mass appeal.}

A Homemade Christmas Ornament Idea

To be perfectly honest, I wasn't really in the Christmas spirit this year. I have a goal to get back to writing more often, so I am sure I will be sharing more about the reasons behind that, but for now all you need to know is that Christmas was pared down from the past. We didn't do a lot of of crafts. In fact, I think this is the only one that we created, and mostly it was because we were given a plain glass ornament at church and asked to decorate it for the tree there. Sadly, this wouldn't have happened otherwise, and it would have been a shame, because this was fun to make.

The inspiration for this ornament came from the December issue of FamilyFun magazine. I have made a few changes, partially due to what materials we had on hand and partially due to personal preference for what seemed sturdy. (I really couldn't see making this with tacky glue, for example, and then having it come undone. Yes, this would have been more kid-friendly than my adhesive of choice: hot glue, BUT you have to agree that mine is going to hold up, and that was what I was going for.) Anyway, we were all pleased with the results.

{Our Family's Christmas Ornament - 2014}


  • clear glass ornament
  • small pom poms (round beads are what was suggested in FamilyFun)
  • toilet paper tube 
  • scissors
  • tacky glue
  • hot glue gun
  • card stock (whatever colors you like -- we used blue and silver)
  • pipe cleaner (optional, for trim)
  • clothespins (optional, but recommended)
  • permanent marker (optional, for personalization)

  1. Remove the top of a clear glass ornament and hold it while the kids add some colorful "gumballs." (Note: Anything that is small enough to fit inside the opening could work. We used pom poms because we didn't have beads on hand. Perhaps real gumballs would fit?)
  2. Cut a section of a toilet paper tube to make the base of the gumball machine. Wrap it in colored card stock (Logan picked blue.) and adhere with tacky glue. Add a small rectangle of another color card stock for the gumball machine opening. (We used silver.) Again, apply with glue. Now, here's a handy tip: Secure two clothespins, one on either end of the tube, and leave on until the glue has dried. This helps the curved paper stay put until the glue is set!
  3. Find a base for your gumball machine. Ours is a lid (Thankfully, in the color Mia wanted: red.) from a peanut jar. FamilyFun suggested using a large button. (I don't know about you, but I don't have huge buttons laying around my house, however, I do have a good assortment of plastic lids at any given time.)
  4. Assemble the gumball machine. I used a hot glue gun (adult use only) instead of the suggested tacky glue. I made a ring around one end of the tube section and then applied it to the bottom of the glass bulb. Then, I made another ring of hot glue around the other end of the tube and pressed the plastic lid onto it, securing the base. For a finishing touch, I used two scrap pieces of red pipe cleaner to cover up the hot glue. (I wish I had thought to do this when it was first hot, but better late than never. The tacky glue would have been less goopy looking and wouldn't have needed the "finishing touch," but I am still asserting here that my way is going to hold up for the long haul. And that is what we want since we're going to be displaying this year after year.
  5. For a little extra personal touch, I took a black Sharpie and wrote our family name plus the year on the back. This was an easy (and totally free for us!) craft that we were able to make together.

November at Our House

Yes, these are actually the quotes from last month. As you can see, I'm a bit behind.

Mommyism: "Don't talk with your mouth full of food."
L: "Mmmmkay, mmmmm."
This is what the requisite, "Okaaaaay, Mooom" sounds like when a child is still talking with food in his mouth.

M {during dinner}: "This is the best healthy food I've ever had!"
Um, thanks? Also, I guess I should make my chicken & cheese tortellini stew more often.

L: "Can I put on my shoes to hold up my socks?"
I guess so....

Brett: "Why don't you want to take a bath?"
L: "It's too wet."
Yep, that's sort of the point.

Mommyism: "No pole vaulting over the sofa!"
Hmmm, kind of wish I had noted exactly what that meant! I think it involved empty wrapping paper tubes.

L: "What smells so good?
Me: "I'm making bath salts."
L: "Smells delicious, but I'm not going to have any right now."
Me: "Okay, it's not food."
L: "No, I mean on my body."
Aside from entertaining me, it's nice to actually see that this one found one of my recipes to "smell delicious." This is high praise coming from him, regardless of whether or not it was actually edible.

L: "I'm making myself into mail."

Aww, I love when I've got this kind of mail.

L: "Mom, can some people make banana puppets?"
Me: "I don't know. What's a banana puppet?"
L: "It's a banana that's made into a puppet."
Well, I guess I should have known that. But why?

L: "Daddy, do old people -- like you guys -- sometimes have babies?"
I can't help but wonder if I would have been laughing so hard if he had directed this question toward me instead of his daddy.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

October at Our House

Another whirlwind month -- wrapped up with just a few cute kidisms.

L {while having dinner at church}: "Dad, do you know everybody in this room?"
Brett: "No, not everyone."
L: "Well, do you know anybody?"
Ah, yes, the all or nothing thinking of a child.

M: "Hey, Mom, I'm supposed to tell you that we're supposed to check my head for lice!"
Well, that officially tops the list of things I do not want to hear during dinner.

L: "I see both of my soccer coaches."
Me: "Yeah? They spend all morning here."
L: "I think they sleep here, too."
You never know, right?

L {at Sam's Club}: "I saw a green lemon!"
Yes, and they're called limes.

M: "Were there cars when you were kids?"
Brett: "Yes, we had what's called a station wagon."
M: "Is that like a train?"
Why does it feel like we keep having this same conversation, just in different variations?

M: "I think I know why it's called October, November, and December. It's starting to get colder and we say, 'brrrr.'"
Makes sense to me.

L: "Crabs can make sculptures."
Me: "Oh, yeah? Like what?"
L: "All sorts of stuff. Pirates, dinosaurs, skeletons, ... maybe even a dump truck."
See, this is why I prefer conversing with kids over talking with adults most any day.

L: "2 +2 = 4 and 1 + 1 = 2 and 0 + 0 = 0. Well, actually, banana + banana = banana."
As I was nearly dying from the startling realization that he had learned addition at preschool (!), he threw in an extra dose of cuteness just to make me love him that much more.

L: "Does dehydrated start with 'D'?"
I don't even know how to reply to this. 

M {said while putting a rubber band around her ankles}: "This will help me waddle like a penguin better."
You betcha.

M: "I'm fluent in dog. Woof, woof, woof."

{After bedtime at our house.}
Me: "Do you want me to tuck you back in?"
L: "Well, sometimes I just need to play."
I hear you, Little Dude.

L: "I woke up after my sister but before you. You woke up last. I guess you were the tiredest. I guess you're always the tiredest."
This makes me sad because it is so honest.

{Our Family Halloween Costume ~ 2014}

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Boo to You: Year #5

Even though I am slow to get stuff posted here, I am still doing those things that have some of you fooled into believing I am a really, really awesome mom. (Okay, for clarification, I am an awesome mom, just maybe not as awesome as you think. This is really not all that complicated, I promise.) So, here goes: Year 5 of the neighborhood "Boo Bags." (Wait, have I really been blogging for that long? Very nearly! Time flies, as they say.)

{Assorted Goodies for One "Boo Bag"}

This year, I didn't worry at all if the "Boo Bags" (containers) held the same contents or even if the "Boo Bags" themselves looked identical. (See, I'm learning to let go of some of the small stuff!) One was a cute Frankenstein takeout container that I found on clearance and set aside last year, and the other was the first thing I could find on hand at home -- a Scooby Doo Happy Meal bucket from some point when the grandparents babysat last October, apparently.) And it's okay. I finally realized that nobody in the neighborhood is comparing notes, here. So don't stress over that!

Also, don't feel like you need to spend a lot of money. These were for sure under $5 each since I put stuff away after last Halloween, but even if you're going out and getting things right now after reading this, it can be super affordable. This year, I had two Halloween dog bandannas to give away, so naturally we selected houses that I knew had little doggies. That was my only criteria, really.

{One Finished "Boo Bag"}

{Another Finished "Boo Bag"}
Besides the doggie bandannas and assorted goodies (like notepads, orange or black votive candles, non-scary Halloween gel clings -- no food this year), I also enclosed the following:
  • We've Been Boo'd Sign (printed on orange construction paper -- although after the fact, I realized that white would have made more sense for the ghost design) -- 3 of these (one for the recipient of our "Boo Bag" and two more for them to pass along.
  • Poem/Directions -- again, 3 sets, including 2 to pass along.
Then, Logan and I passed these out while his big sissy was at school. (Thankfully, she didn't take major issue with this.) He was very enthusiastic with his help! This was about two weeks ago, and Mia insists that she has seen one of the neighborhood dogs sporting one of the "Boo Bag" bandannas. I honestly am not sure if this is true since I didn't see it myself, but how fun if that's the case. Have a safe and happy Halloween, everyone!

P.S. If you're interested, here is what we did for our "Boo Bags" in years past: