Friday, January 31, 2014

Snow Day

On Monday the girls and I were doing this:
On Wednesday we were doing this:
Ahh, North Carolina weather. It'll give you whiplash.
This was the girl's first experience with snow.
H didn't particularly like trying to walk around in it.
But she did like the sledding.
Or at least watching the sledding.
I think they both loved it.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Happy Birthday!

Saturday was H's first birthday.
RIDICULOUS. I just brought her home from the hospital. I just found out I was pregnant again. For that matter, I just had T, didn't I? Didn't I just get married?
Anyway. H has truly been a blessing to our family. She's always happy and always loving and always curious. She brightens my day, everyday.
OK, see? The time it took you to scroll through those pictures is approximately how fast her first year went.
Happy 1st Birthday to my 2nd born!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Toddler Talk #4

After my brother David let out a huge disgusting burp:
J: T, what should David say now?
T: Uhh....cookies.

After forcing T to go down for quiet time:
T: Mommy....Moooommy. Moooommmmmmyyyyy.
J: What do you want?
T: mumble mumble mumble
J: What?
J: No. Stay in here and be quiet.

After Seth came home from work:
S: What have you been doing today T?
T: Just pooping in my pants.

After I brought a package inside:
T: Mommy, did you get a package?
J: Yep.
T: Is it bacon!?
T set this up. And made me take the picture.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Christmas Vacation: San Diego

We rented a car and drove out to San Diego to visit my Grandpa for a couple days before flying home. He just turned 89.
By this point the girls were tired of getting their picture taken, and after showing this shot to him, my Grandpa refused to smile in any more pictures because he thought it made it look like he had dentures. (He does not.)
So in spite of this picture, I think he actually was glad to see us. He also spent quite a bit of time trying to convince us that we should name our next child "Sacagawea."
Seth was all for it.
I was not.
We went to El Indio, a delicious Mexican restaurant, with my Aunt Marla and Uncle Tom. I believe I've eaten there during almost every visit to San Diego and it was just as tasty this go round.
And naturally, the girls loved it as well.
We also took them to see the San Diego temple...
and to Balboa Park to ride the Carousel....
and to ride the Train.
We also saw some of our good friends from our college days (Eek! - I feel old.) We really wish you guys would just move to North Carolina already.
We had a lovely time and after spending two weeks in Arizona and California and then coming back to freezing temperatures, I am now busy trying to convince Seth that our next move should be out West.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Christmas Vacation: Arizona

Christmas this year, in case you didn't hear about it multiple times from everyone in my family, was a bit of a fever and vomit-filled catastrophe. Twelve of us had the flu within the span of one week, and it was all our fault. (Well...T's fault.)
We came, we infected everyone, we took over the house, my children cried all hours of the night, and they upset their cousins on a daily basis by not sharing anything at all ever.
Soooooooo methinks we are never getting invited back again.
Of course in between the toy stealing melt downs and the chugging of tylenol, the girls did manage to sometimes play together nicely. (OK, I'm slightly exaggerating, they had a ball, please move back East soon, k thanks)
I have no idea who took this picture, where (or what???) these gigantic bones came from, or why they are holding them, so obviously you can tell I was really good at looking after my children.
We took the girls down the street to look at the goats and emus in the neighbor's yard. (For reals. My mom's neighborhood is very rural.) And H freaked out. This was possibly her favorite thing we did for the entire two weeks we were there. Even Christmas morning paled in comparison.
We did manage to squeeze in a few Christmassy activities, like making cookies.
And decorating cookies. (And eating cookies, obvs.)
And if you have a toddler, don't be like me and tell them to put some sprinkles on their cookie and then look away. It was just a very bad idea.
And my goodness, did the girls get a ton o' presents this year. They have some generous grandparents. This doesn't even show what they got from Seth's and my Dad's side of the family. It's a little bit ridiculous.
(It is tradition in Seth's family to take a picture of the kid with their presents, if you are at all confused like I was when Seth first set this up.)
T probably could have gotten that one tube of M&M's and been perfectly happy. We made the mistake of giving it to her first thing in her stocking, and she then got very upset when we tried to take it from her so she could open her presents.
We're terrible parents, her life is so hard, etc. etc.
Next year I've decided I'm just going to get them stocking stuffers, since H's favorite gift was also out of her stocking, these little egg shakers. Please ignore the snot. (If you can...there's a lot.)
So Merry Christmas! And to my Arizona family: see you in about ten years when we're ready to brave flying cross-country again.
Hopefully we won't infect everyone that time.
But I make no guarantees.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

An Ode to Katie

I finally got all my pictures from our Christmas vacation onto the computer and started going through them. And after I did that it was obvious to me that I needed to dedicate a whole blog post to my lovely and photogenic sister Katie:
And yes, I know you're going to hate me for this.
We miss you!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Books: 2013 Part 2

I tried to keep my opinions short and sweet, I really did. But I read 30 books in the past 6 months and so it's a long one.
Part 1 is here

1. Stardust by Neil Gaiman. **** I love the movie and now I love the book as well. They are fairly similar, although the feel of the book is more adventure/fairytale and the movie is more love story.

2. False Colours by Georgette Heyer ** This story has some mystery to it and I thought the characters were endearing, but it didn't have enough romance for me. Plus, (begin rant) any book that has twins and part of the plot is that one twin "knows" what the other is thinking/feeling because they are twins automatically gets a deduction from me. I'm sorry, but I have to roll my eyes at this idea. Twins DO NOT have this ability and you should stop asking us if we do. (end rant)

3. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (P.S.) by Betty Smith ***** Read this! If I were to write a book, this is exactly the kind of book I'd want to have written. I savored it. A fictional biography of sorts about Francie Nolan, an Irish-American who grew up poor in Brooklyn with a drunk father. Really well-written.

4. The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson *** A book about the migration of black people from the South out to the North and West during the 20th century, specifically focusing on 3 people. It seemed more biography than history book to me and I was expecting the latter. Their individual migration stories were interesting, but I wanted more research.

5. What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty ***** I couldn't put this down. 30 year old Alice wakes up from a bad fall thinking she's still 20. Not as slow and agonizing as I thought it'd be. It gives you enough tantalizing details to make you want to keep reading but not in a frustrating ugh just tell me already kind of way. And I didn't think the ending was expected.

6. In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin by Erik Larson *** Interesting, yes. Compelling, no. Story of the American Ambassador and his family in Berlin from 1933-1937. I didn't find it as intense as I thought the title made it seem it would be, which was a bit of a letdown but after further reflection I think that was part of the point - that Hitler's regime took control stealthily and subtlety. And when it was overt people chose not to (or couldn't) understand what he was really doing.

7-16. The Betsy-Tacy Series by Maud Hart Lovelace **** I read the first 4 (there are 10) when I was young and I loved the later, adult versions even more. It's a semi-autobiographical account of the author's idyllic life growing up in Deep Valley, Minnesota. I can't wait to read these to my girls.

17. Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving ***** Love the way he writes. Fantastic. It's short, so no one has any excuse for not reading this.

18. Chasing Lincoln's Killer by James L. Swanson **** I had no knowledge of this subject except for John Wilkes Booth and didn't they find him in a barn or something? (Yes. A tobacco barn.) So it was fascinating to read about, and I thought very well-written. This is the Young Adult version - I didn't realize he had an adult version of this subject too until I finished, which I may also try to read.

19. French Kids Eat Everything by Karen LeBillon *** Similar to Bringing Up Bebé. A comparison of American and French eating habits and perhaps a little longer than it needs to be. We changed a few of our routines because of this book and T (who has always been a terrible eater) eats a little better and little more now. So if you have a picky eater, I recommend it.

20. Bossypants by Tina Fey *** Really good if you are interested in Tina Fey, 30 Rock and SNL. After reading this, I realized I was not. But still pretty amusing.

21. The Great and Only Barnum by Candance Fleming **** Young Adult Nonfiction about the life of P.T. Barnum. Lots of great pictures and stories and blurbs off to the side. The book is designed really well. It was just a really fun, quick read.

22. I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella **** I stayed up till 1 AM so I could finish this. Cute story about a girl that finds a phone and meets a guy. I thought the ending was a bit sudden. In case you couldn't tell, chick-lit is my guilty pleasure, and this was a good one.

23. The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal ***** Really really good. Another book that changed some of my routines for the better - I intend on buying this and rereading it. Full of interesting studies, the biological science behind willpower, and useful tips. The book was written based on a course taught by the author and is organized similarly to the class with assignments after each chapter.

24. The Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel *** I had no idea this even happened. The Allies had a special Army Force that went through and tried to save all the monuments, art, buildings and other cultural pieces of Europe during WWII. It is a fascinating topic but the writing was not that good. I felt like it took a while to get momentum going and then it was all over the place and ended abruptly.

25. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury **** Great. Classic. Read It. Marvel that Ray Bradbury could predict where we were going in 1953.

26. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch *** I almost feel bad for not liking this one more, since it is basically the last words of wisdom from a man dying of cancer. It's pretty much what you'd expect-humorous, good advice, but nothing really stood out for me.

27. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell * Boring. I didn't finish this. I didn't like the writing style or the storyline. It's a romance about two opposites in 1800s England, which only made me want to read Pride and Prejudice.

28. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.***** I started reading the first page and actually sighed in contentment. This is good literature. Good writing, love the characters, love the story. If you have not read this yet, I don't know what's wrong with you.

29. Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson. ** I don't regret reading it but probably wouldn't recommend it. It's about an older British widow falling in love with a Pakistani widower from his small village and the issues that go along with that. The characters annoyed me, even the two main ones and I didn't really get the points she was trying to make about racism and family.

30. Under The Black Flag by David Cordingly **** This book was written after a wildly successful museum exhibit the author put together about pirates. It could read a little bit like a museum plaque - tons of interesting information, but a little dry. He tries to differentiate between the reality of pirate life and how we've come to romanticize it - he described it as more like a horror film than the adventure films we associate with a pirate's life. If you're interested in this subject at all, I highly recommend it.

31. Candyfreak by Steve Almond *** It started off really good. He focuses on the heyday of candy bar companies and smaller regional bars that are still being made. His descriptions of candy bars and the way they are made and how they taste are mouth-watering. But towards the end it descended into constant self-pity (my parents didn't love me, candy bars are my only comfort, blah blah blah) and political jabs at Bush and conservatives (this guy is a LIBERAL.) It ruined it for me.

32.  The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan ** Meh. I thought this was going to be a fun romance. It covers the history of the diamond engagement ring and 4 different stories of couples. But it was boring, I felt like she was just ripping on marriage the entire time, and almost all the characters were annoying. 
So in total, I read 48 books this year, which is slightly better than I did last year. Maybe next year I will actually hit 50. But don't hold me to that.
I have a huge list of books on my to-read list but I always love more recommendations....

EDIT: I forgot two! So guess what, I did reach 50 books. Boo-ya.
33. The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom ***** I can't believe I forgot this because it was a fantastic book! About a Dutch woman's experience in a Nazi concentration camp and how she was able to survive it. So inspiring.
34. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous *** Short and definitely takes all the appeal out of doing drugs. Also, it was not taken from a real diary, despite what the book says.

EDIT: 51. I read 51 books.
35. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster *** Very clever and lots of wordplay, but I kind of hate puns so while I could appreciate the inventiveness, it wasn't really my cup of tea.