recent reads

Little Men by Louisa May Alcott--3 stars: I don't have a lot to say about this book other than meh. Little Women is one of my favorite books, and Little Men follows the boys in Jo's school. It's cute, but it's basically just the shenanigans of young and adolescent boys, and honestly that's not something I care to read about. It was sweet and charming, and some chapters were really good, but overall it just didn't hook me that much. I've come to the conclusion that reading about kids is not one of my favorite things. It's the reason Rainbow Valley is my least favorite book of the Anne of Green Gables series. Take my words with a grain of salt if this is more your thing.

For fans of: teenage boys, teenage boys stealing, teenage boys fighting, teenage boys being disciplined

Jo's Boys by Louise May Alcott--4 stars: Now THIS was more my speed! Jo's Boys is like the reunion show of Little Men, and it checks in with the boys 10 years down the road when they're all starting life out on their own. You do need to read Little Men to fully appreciate this one. I just loved it. Some of the chapters were a bit boring, but overall I adored it. So cute and sweet. I do need someone to talk to me about Dan, though. I have a lot of feelings I'm still trying to process.

For fans of: Little Women, Where Are They Now? articles, Anne of Green Gables series 

Caroline: Little House, Revisited by Sarah Miller--2 stars: If you like Little House on the Prairie but find it too cheerful and lacking in awkward sex scenes, then Caroline is the book for you! It follows Little House on the Prairie, but from Caroline's point of view. Lemme tell you, it is DEPRESSING. It's the exact same stories as Laura's version, but stripped of their childlike charm and innocence. I also knew exactly what was going to happen in every story, so it felt boring and slow. The writing style was another beef of mine. It was overly poetic to the point of feeling sensual and graphic. It's hard to explain, but it was very Ann Voskampy. The metaphors were weird, her constant mentions of using the bathroom and other such things started to feel a little graphic, and it was just...too much. The real Caroline would clutch her calico skirts in horror. A friend of mine sent me this book to read when Colleen died because she knew I would need a distraction and love all things Little House. It really was the perfect distraction from real life. Reading from Caroline's POV really was fascinating in a lot of ways, but it focused so much on her thoughts and feelings which are 100% fiction and speculation. Love the concept, but I wish it gone in a very different direction.

For fans of: a lot of scenes about breastfeeding and breastmilk, The Angsty Person's Guide to Little House on the Prairie, 50 Shades of Calico Dresses

We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter--4.75 stars: YES. This book was incredible. It's like Parenthood, but if the Bravermans were Jewish and living in Poland during the 30s. The whole family was scattered around the world during the war, and they spent the better part of a decade trying to track each other down to see if they survived. It's based on the lives of the author's family, so it's a true story. Mind-boggling. Each chapter is fairly short and focuses on one member or unit of the family. There were parts about a mother and her daughter Gracie's age that had me in real tears. My only issue was that  there were so many family members with similar names that I struggled to remember who was who and how they were all related, even down to the last page. That aside, I highly recommend it.

For fans of: Lilac Girls, Secrets of a Charmed Life, The Pianist, Parenthood, big happy families

Endurance: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery by Scott Kelly--5 stars: While this won't be a 5 star read for everyone, I absolutely devoured this book. Scott Kelly went from nearly failing out of school to becoming the first astronaut to spend a year living in space. I remember seeing some of his posts when he was still living on the ISS, and I've been periodically keeping up with him. Kelly goes into great detail about what it's like to live and work in space, including what it smells like, sounds like, and how to move around in zero gravity. Part of his mission was to test the effects of zero gravity on the body, so he routinely performed experiments on himself to compare the results with his twin brother, who is also an astronaut but who was on the ground. One of my favorite parts is how Kelly describes the way the US and Russians work harmoniously in space even though our countries are not friends on earth. The work they do in space for the good of society transcends all cultural and political differences, and I find that encouraging and powerful. They face emergencies while living on the ISS, such as fires, high carbon dioxide levels making it hard to function, and multiple resupply rockets that blow up on their way to the space station, forcing countries to share and ration their food and water. Kelly doesn't quite have the storytelling finesse that Mike Massimino has in Spaceman, but this book is deeply fascinating for anyone interested in the topic. It's going to stay with me for a long time. I stand by my opinion that astronauts are modern day superheroes. They're also modern day Oregon Trail pioneers, because space is basically the last frontier and so much scarier than the prairies of earth.

For fans of: Spaceman, The Astronaut Wives Club, imagining life in a floating tin can for an entire year, NASA, descriptions of hurtling through the atmosphere as a fireball, Little House on the Prairie but more sci-fi

The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure--3.5 stars: I saw this at the library after a long text conversation with friends about wanting to visit all the Laura Ingalls Wilder sites, so obviously it was fate. I both loved this book and wanted to throw it out the window. McClure writes about her childhood love of Laura, and to this I can fully relate. I have vivid memories of staying up late reading with my flashlight, and even reading passages of the Little House books to my friends when they came over (they loved that, I'm sure). I've been a Laura fan for as long as I can remember. After reading the books through as an adult, McClure decides to go on a pilgrimage to all the Little House sites. She's basically living my best life now. I did my latest reread just over a year ago, and I spent LITERAL HOURS scrolling through pictures of every site and Google Mapping them. I'm trying to convince my mom to go with me because I am SALIVATING at the thought of seeing the actual places where Laura actually lived (my heart rate is up and I need to calm down). She takes her boyfriend with her, and he is fantastic because he reads the series so he can share in everything with her. He's also hysterical and his quotes are my favorite part of the book. I got frustrated when she started nitpicking the different kinds of people she saw at the historical sites---many of them--DUH--conservative Christian types, of which McClure is not. That's totally fine! But she gets real judgey real fast, and I lost a lot of respect for her. She did come across a weird survivalist sect that took things a little far, but she spends pages making fun of them to the point that I almost stopped reading because it was leaving such a bad taste in my mouth. She also said she hated Laura's newspaper columns she wrote around the turn of the century about simple things and daily joys, calling them boring. That fired me up because HELLO that's one of the main points of the Little House books! Focusing on the simple joys of life is what makes Laura so charming! Other than some things like that, the book is enjoyable and funny. I especially enjoyed reading about the wild thunderstorm they experienced while sleeping in a covered wagon on the Ingalls homestead in South Dakota. I might have been a little jealous.

For fans of: Laura Ingalls Wilder, churning butter, believing you're a better person than anyone who liked the Little House TV show (I liked the show--sue me, McClure!)

I'm just now realizing there's a definitely Little House on the Prairie theme which was not intentional, but what can I say? I have limited interests. It took me an eternity to get through the first two books for some reason, so my reading has been lagging a bit lately. I'm back in the zone now and waiting for James to bring me home a stack of library books tonight, and the anticipation is tantalizing.

What have you been reading lately?


coffee date

If we went out for coffee here, we would be wearing our winter gear because GUESS WHAT we woke up to an inch of snow! Ahahahahahaha. I don't know why I'm laughing. Call it a coping mechanism. It's almost May and the leaves still aren't out and it's still snowing. That's all I'm going to say. It's cool. I'm fine.

I could go for a vanilla latte right now. I'm not usually one for any kind of flavors or sweeteners, but that sounds good.

We've had only one glorious spring day so far, last Friday. It was a perfect day in the midst a string of difficult ones, which made it that much better. It was 75 degrees and sunny. Gracie and I spent the morning at a friend's house. My friend and I drank coffee while the kids ate popsicles and ran around. When we got home, we spent the whole afternoon outside. James was working from home and took a break to mow the lawn with Gracie chasing after him. I lounged in a chair with La Croix and even got a little sunburn. We ended the day walking to the neighborhood dairy bar (the midwestern ice cream stand) with our friends, and then took our kids to the park. It was a perfect day, and I hope that's what summer will look like this year.

Then it rained all weekend, and every day I've been playing a game with myself called "Allergies or a Cold?" So far I've lost every time. The rules are unclear, as are the answers. And the weather. And the season. BUT IT'S COOL. I'M FINE.

So a weird thing happened. A few nights ago I woke up royally sick to my stomach, feeling like I was going to puke any minute. I felt fine when I went to bed, so I was completely confused and NO I AM NOT PREGNANT. I finally went back to sleep and woke up feeling a little better but still off the rest of the day. Gracie chose that day of all days to walk up and ask "Is the baby still in your tummy, mommy?" WHAT. I started to wonder if there was a baby in my tummy even though I knew for a fact there was not. When I said no, she asked me to buy her a sister. Still no.

Speaking of weird nighttime shenanigans, listen to the dream I had last night (do you hate it when people say that? sorry-ish). I dreamed that we finally got new windows put in our house, but the installers took it upon themselves to put in a new front door and I was DEVASTATED. We have a really cool original mid-century door, and yes it's slightly warped and you have to bodyslam it for it to close all the way, but I love it and plan to paint it yellow and will keep it forever. In my dream, they replaced the door with a purple one that had a huge window with a glass etching that said "Live Laugh Love." MY WORST NIGHTMARE. When we bought our house, the sellers left an offensive Live Laugh Love decal in the living room, and you better believe the first thing I did as a homeowner was rip it down. I cried for days in my dream about the stupid door. Then I dreamed that James was an astronaut coming back to earth from the space station, and I was so nervous watching for him to fall out of the sky that I was drinking out of a bottle of white wine in the middle of a field.

Maybe I should choose some different books to read before bed.

Do you ever buy a shirt that you swear looks great in the dressing room, but then you wear it at home and it's like it morphed into a completely different shirt? On Sunday, I got dressed for church. I threw on a new shirt, but then I looked in the mirror and saw Jerry Seinfeld staring back at me.

Ignore the dumb look on my face (I just typed "phace" ?!?!?!) and the fact that it looks like I'm wearing a tent. I texted James in the middle of church and asked if it looked like I was wearing the puffy shirt, and we both laughed so hard we probably disrupted everyone around us. I swear it looks better in person.

Maybe not.

Anyway, my fashion blog is coming soon. I expect it to be very popular. I'll let Gracie write a guest post since she's currently sporting ice cream footie pajamas with a Minnie Mouse shirt on top. It would've been a hit at Coachella.

My mom is coming next week, and I'm so excited. We FINALLY have a guest room! And this is forcing me to whip it into shape, because until now it's been a holding place for everything I don't know what to do with. Which is most everything. But now there's an actual bed in there, which means all the boxes are now in the hallway instead of the guest room. Progress! I have a lot of work to do, but my boss is demanding that I help her match her bows to her puzzle pieces, so who knows what state this house will be in.

Oh look! The snow is already starting to melt. It's above freezing! Time to switch to iced coffee.


life is funny

Last month Gracie had a bad cold, so I pulled out the trusty vaporizer and Vick's cough medicine. It's been sitting in the bathroom ever since for unknown reasons, and I've been putting off putting it away for weeks even though I get annoyed every time I see it. On Saturday, I finally put it up. I was home alone at the time, but I said out loud to no one in particular, "Now that I'm finally putting this away, watch her wake up sick tomorrow."

Guess what.

She woke up with a cold. Oh yes she did, and 24 hours after I packed it away, I pulled the vaporizer out of her closet because she was so congested she couldn't sleep.

Isn't life funny?

Or something like that.

I went to the store a few days later to get her some cough medicine so we could all have a peaceful night's sleep (didn't work, fyi). My royal purple hair had faded into a lavender/blonde combo that looked less like a delightful spring color and more like I had been lying out in the sun for a few years. I ventured into the grocery store hair color aisle, which felt a little bit like buying sushi at a gas station, but it is what it is. The only purple hair color they had seemed barely a notch brighter than what I was currently sporting, so I took a deep breath and grabbed the teal.

I brought it home and let it sit on my bathroom counter for a day while I gathered my courage. I was scared to do it myself, but I was even more scared of paying to get it done again. Bright hair ain't cheap.

James worked from home on Wednesday. He had a break between conference calls, so I sent Gracie to the living room and grabbed the box of Colorista Teal. I brushed it on, waited 30 minutes, then washed it out in the shower. Aside from leaving a few bits of blonde and purple, I love the way it turned out. Since I had a rare midweek moment to myself (sort of--there was a moment when James got an important call and Gracie had a moment all in the same second and I had to run through the house in a towel to separate them), I decided to paint my nails.

Then I got dressed.

Then I walked into the living room.

You guys, I might have a problem.

And my nail polish? The exact same color. None of this was planned. It was all pure coincidence.

Would you believe me if I said my favorite color is actually purple, not teal?

Life is funny.

Or something like that.


things that annoy me

My insomnia is raging at the moment. I haven't had a good night sleep in.......honestly, I can't even tell you because I can't remember or do math when I'm this tired. All I know is that I'm tired, my child is sick again, and it's making me very cranky. I have pet peeves and I feel like being snarky about them. It's all in good fun. NOTHING is personal at all. If we interact and you do these things, I'm not thinking about you. These are just things I see in general that get under my skin after awhile, and today I am choosing to be annoyed by them.

1. People who refer to Instagram as "Insta." I don't know why, but it makes me twitch every time. Almost all abbreviations make me feel that way, but "insta" is my pet peeve of the month.

Don't be a Kevin.

2. People who drone on and on about their running programs. There is nothing wrong with this! It's awesome that running is your thing. I JUST DO NOT WANT TO HEAR ABOUT IT. I don't care how many marathons you've run and that you have to run 7.6 miles tomorrow and don't want to. I don't care about how many minutes you ran a mile. It's the same distance no matter how fast you run it. Your legs look better than mine, ok? Just be happy about that and move on.

2b. Cars that are covered with the 26.2/13.1 stickers. They're the stick figure families of the athletic world.

3. The enneagram. Sarah summed up my thoughts beautifully.  I think introvert/extrovert personalities are fascinating and very helpful in dealing with other people. Other than that? I DO NOT CARE. Even when you dive into the INFJ/ESPN/ABCD thing I'm done. Nothing every fully fits my personality and I don't think we can put ourselves into such specific boxes like that.

However, I have a very specific hatred of the enneagram. I am so tired of hearing about it. I don't care what your enneagram is; if it's something you're into, that's all I need to know about your personality. The only wing I want is the one that will fly me out of this conversation.

4. Dog people. Hold your stones. Dogs are great. I like them. I grew up with them, I'm excited to get Gracie one. I'm talking about the people who treat dogs like their little tiny precious love bug babies. NO. If you don't have kids and your dogs are basically your kids, that's fine. I draw a hard line when people refer to dogs as their kid's siblings, but especially when people refer to dogs as their kids. LOL. Mmk.

5. People who unbox things on Instagram. This is more of a celebrity thing, but occasionally I see a random person do it. Is it in the FabFitFun contract that you have to do a live video oohing and ahhing over everything inside? Do people actually enjoy watching that? I cannot stand it. It's like watching someone open presents for hours at their baby/wedding shower. That's a tradition that needs to be stopped, because it's fun for no one.

6. I am still annoyed over anyone who chooses to use an animal filter on Instagram. I will continued to be annoyed about this until the end of time or Zuckerberg comes to his senses. So basically, the end of time.

7. On a similar note: I will never swipe up. I will never like a likeitknow post. If you post links about how to "curate" a "theme" on your instagram feed, newsflash: you're taking the internet WAY too seriously.

I did not intend to make this into an instagram pet peeves post, but a million things are flooding my brain. Maybe this means I should've gone with my instinct to delete my account the other day, but my #1 rule is to not make decisions like that while under the influence of sleep deprivation.

8. People who post every tiny milestone their child achieves. It stresses me out, even if these kids are nowhere near as old as Gracie. Especially the people who make a big deal out of potty training MAYBE I AM JUST BEING SENSITIVE TO THIS ONE IN PARTICULAR but seriously, does that need to be online? It's one thing to record milestones on your blog for your own memory, but some of these people can't help themselves and have to slip things in conversations over and over and make sure we all know their child was admitted to Harvard at 6 months. Braggy moms are THE WORST.

9. Clothing challenges/capsule wardrobes/10x10 challenges WHATEVER THEY ARE. Yawn, yawn, yawn again.  I have a small wardrobe because I like it that way (though nowhere near capsule wardrobe small), but it's not all mix and match. I like it that way too. I'm also just not interested in how you styled your striped tee with your jeans for day 7 of your challenge.

10. Keto. It's apparently the new paleo/whole30. Eat however the frick you want but please don't tell me about it. Not only is everyone suddenly eating this way, but they have all taken it upon themselves to tell everyone else how to do it because everyone on the internet has to be an expert at something these days. No, I actually DON'T want you to do a post all about the ways you do keto and how it's changed your life. Lemme guess, are you selling essential oils too? I'll see myself out.

Do these things annoy anyone else, or I am I just too contrary for my own good?


small talk

This has been a weird, wild week. I've been yearning to write, but I have nothing interesting to say. However, I'm going to indulge my desire to write, so apologies for the boredom you're about to experience.

1. Monday morning, we woke up to several inches of snow. It was beautiful, but at this point I'd rather see tulips and daffodils instead of snow.

2. Tuesday morning, we woke up to severe thunderstorms. We had pouring rain, thunder, and lightning nonstop from 7am till about midnight. Literally NONSTOP. I've never experienced a day quite like it. The lightning and thunder knocked the power out and shook the house. Gracie was so scared she was hiding under her blanket. I'm not going to lie, I was a little scared too. James had to drive home from work through tornado warnings, green skies, and flash flooding. It also marked the 1 month anniversary of Colleen's death, and several of my friends had some crazy things happen to them. It was one of those days when I had no idea what was going to happen next. It was unnerving.

3. On Wednesday, it snowed all day long.

4. This is basically all about the weather like a bad case of small talk, but it's been a weird weather week. I get frustrated when people complain nonstop about the weather here, because it's completely normal to get snow in April. It's usually sandwiched between 60-70 degree days, so it's not a big deal. We haven't had one warm day this year. The 15 day forecast is all in the 30s and 40s with snow. Nothing is blooming yet. This is crazy. If I have to wear my winter coat one more time, I might cry. I've kicked my boots to the back of the closet because I can't even stand to look at them anymore.

5. Here's something not weather related: This week I heard an older woman say to a group of older women "A mom told me today that her child told her that when a kid says 'let's rent Netflix and chill out' it means let's have sex. Now you know." There was a collective gasp of horror. I couldn't stop laughing. I shouldn't laugh, I know. It was just so funny to me.

6. We are in a really big fight with Lowe's right now. About a month ago, we ordered tiles for our kitchen floor. They arrived two weeks later, broken. Every single one. We took them back, explained what happened, and had them reorder the tiles. They apologized and said they would thoroughly check to make sure that didn't happen again. They arrived at the store a few days ago, and James went to pick them up. Once he got there, he realized every box was ONCE AGAIN broken. So now they're ordering them for the THIRD time. Meanwhile, my kitchen is still a disaster and will be for the foreseeable future.

7. I've been avoiding a conversation with someone because I just didn't have the right words to say. The guilt has been mounting every day, but every day I put if off. I wound up running into that person at the gym, like God forced the issue. I'm usually on a time crunch at the gym, but I was feeling extra lazy, so I sat in my car for awhile before going in. It wound up being perfect timing to talk to this person. It's just crazy how God orders all of our steps.

8. It's going to snow tonight. This crazy weather is giving me a migraine.

9. Saying snow in the spring is like saying bomb in an airport. Everyone screams, cries, and tries to run away.

10. SNOW.