Happy New Year!!

Happy New Year!!

Hello everyone!  Happy New Year!  I hope you didn’t struggle to wake up this morning after staying up to ring in the new year.  I didn’t stay up as late as we originally planned.  We were going to take our youth group to a neighboring church, but little Elizabeth got sick, so I stayed home.


This year, I am making a few resolutions.  Last year, I just wanted to get fit and keep my child alive.  I’ve mostly accomplished that, so I thought I’d set a 5 goals for this year.

  1. Pass my first semester of Grad school.  This summer I am going back to school to get my masters in teaching, so I can start teaching high school english.  I’ve been out of school for about two years, but I think I am ready for the challenge.
  2. Be happy with my body.  I don’t want to set the normal goal of lose ___ pounds this year.  There is a weight goal that I want to reach, but more importantly, I want to be happy and proud of my body.
  3. Read 40 books.  For the past few years, I’ve read 36 books each year.  I didn’t purposely set out to read that many; it’s just the way it’s happened.  This year, I am going to push myself to read 40.  I’ve started the Modern Mrs. Darcy Challenge and set out a list of books that I’ve got on my list here.
  4. Take Elizabeth out to the park more often.  Once Elizabeth is walking, I want to take her to the park as often as I can.  I loved to swing when I was younger, and I think that is something she would like.  Also, we love picnics, so we could do that too.
  5. Be more deliberate with my time.  I watch a lot of television.  Let me rephrase that; I watch a lot of the same television shows that I’ve already seen over and over again.  Usually after an episode or two, I feel horrible for jut sitting around and wasting time.  So I’m going to try to limit myself to one episode, and then push myself to do something productive like reading or playing with Elizabeth.

What are your New Year’s resolutions?  Leave them in the comments below!  Good luck and Happy New Year!

2017 Reading Challenges!

2017 Reading Challenges!

Hello everyone!  2016 is coming to a swift end, and I know these last few days are going to fly by!



I love to read and have been doing the Goodreads Reading Challenges for a while now.  My 2015 goal was 25 books, and I read (or reread) 36.  This year, my goal was 30, and I am actually on my 36th book now.  So I’ve decided this coming year I am going to try to read 37 books.

I’ve got two strategies to help me get to that goal.  One is Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2017 reading challenge, and the other is preparing for the North Texas Teen Book Festival.


My husband and I went to the NTTBF last year and had a blast!  I think I read seven books before we went so I could listen to lots of different authors.  It is in March this year (on our anniversary weekend).  Since that’s three months away, I’d like to try and read ten to fifteen books for it, which I’ll try to fit into the MMD Challenge.

Next is the MMD Challenge.  Her original post for the challenge can be found here.  She gives you two different options to follow, and I think I’m going to try them both.  (I’ll put NTTBF next to the ones that are by people I’ll see in March.) Also, I’m going to try to pick books that are available at my local library or that I already own, cause I’ve got a ton of books on my shelves I haven’t touched yet!  Here is the first:


  1. A Book You Chose for the Cover – And I Darken by Kiersten White NTTBF.  My favorite color is purple, and when I saw those purple flowers on the cover, I really wanted to pick this one up.  I’ll probably read the physical copy of this one since the cover is so cute, instead of the eBook.
  2. A book with a reputation for being un-put-down-able – A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarrah J. Maas.  I’ve wanted to read this one for a hot minute and everyone I follow on Goodreads have loved it.  I’ve read a few books in her other series, but I haven’t finished that series yet either.
  3. A book set somewhere you’ve never been, but would like to visit – The X-Files: Agent of Chaos by Kami Garcia NTTBF.  This is about how Fox Mulder became a believer.  I’ve watched most of the X-Files and loved them.  The reason I chose it for this category is because the only place I’ve been on that coast is Florida, and I’ve always wanted to visit the New England area.
  4. A book You’ve Already Read – Thorns of Decision by Breeana Puttroff.  I reread this series several times and didn’t get around to rereading all of them this year.  I only reread the first two, so I’d pick up with the third one instead of starting over.
  5. A juicy memoir – Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny by Holly Madison.  This book was a runner up for last years Goodreads prize.  So, this looks super interesting and out of my comfort zone.  My library has the audiobook narrated by the author.  If it’s too “out there” for me, I’ll try Furiously Happy by Jenny Larson which I own, but haven’t read yet.
  6. A book about books or reading – The Book Theif by Markus Zusak.  I bought this book and have been meaning to read it, but haven’t gotten to it yet.
  7. A book in a genre you usually avoid – One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies  by Sonya Sones NTTBF.  This book is written in verse.  I’ve never read one like that and even though I like poetry, have always thought that I would’t be too interested in it.  But here I am, trying something new.
  8. A book you don’t want to admit that you’re dying to read – Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins NTTBF.  This is one that I’ve wanted to read for a while.  I feel that it’s going to be light, fluffy, and predictable, but I still want to read it.
  9. A book in the blacklist of a new favorite author
  10. A book recommended by someone with great taste – The Uninvited by Liz Jensen.  My friend Keely recommended this to me.  If I remember correctly, it’s a really short audiobook.
  11. A book you were excited to buy or borrow but haven’t read yet – Dust and Decay by Jonathan Maberry.  I read Rot and Ruin for NTTBF and really liked it.  Then while at the festival, I bought the second book in the series.  I’ve been really excited to read it, but every time I go to pick it up, I grab another book instead for one reason or another.  It’s time I read it.
  12. A book about a topic or subject you already love – City of Bones by Cassandra Clare.  I’ve read almost all of the Infernal Devices trilogy and have loved it.  Since they are set in the same universe, I bet I’d like this series a lot.

Here is her other challenge


  1. A Newbery Award winner or Honor book – A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle.  I’ve heard great things about this one, but never read it in middle school.
  2. A book in translation – The Stranger by Albert Camus.  I read this book in an upper level French class in college.  I remember the basic premise, but since I am not fluent in French, it was a hard read and I skipped a few parts.  So I’d like to actually read it all the way through.
  3. A book that’s more than 600 pages – The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood.  I’ve read two of her books and love dystopian fiction, so I think I’ll give this one a try.  If it’s too dry, I’ll switch to A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin.  I’ve got the series on my book shelf, it was a gift, and haven’t read them yet.  Again, if I can’t get into that one either, I’ll reread Winter by Marissa Meyer.  I know I loved that one and will be able to get through all 600 pages.
  4. A book of poetry, a play, or an essay question – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child  by J.K. Rowling.  I just read/listened to the series this year, so I’d like to read this one.  My husband has absolutely no interest in reading it though.  I’m sure if I read it, he’ll ask what it’s about and everything.
  5. A book of any genre that addresses current event – The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas NTTBF.  This book comes out in February and the festival is in March, so I either read is QUICK or buy it there.  It is inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and the movie rights have already been sold to Fox, which is pretty impressive.
  6. An immigrant story – Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas.  Yes, this is a stretch as an immigrant story.  A REAL stretch. But technically, Celaena has moved to another country/land.  I’ve started this book twice but haven’t finished it.
  7. A book published before you were born – Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton.  This was published the same year I was born, but since I was born at the end of December, I figured that was okay.
  8. Three books by the same author – The Mark of Athena, The House of Hades, and The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan.  I read the first series and the first book of the second series two years ago.  My husband loved these books and keeps telling me I need to finish them every time it is brought up, so I figured it is time to finish them.  I’m already 75% of the way through with the second one, so I’ll try to read the other ones this year.  Maybe even the other books he’s cranked out.
  9. A book by an #ownvoices or #diversebooks author – American Street by Ibi Zoboi NTTBF.  This looks really interesting!  I think it would be awesome to read it then hear the author speak, especially if she is from Haiti like her character is.  I took a lot of French classes in college and learned about Haiti and creole french, so I think I’ll like this, and I’d love to hear what the author has to say.
  10. A book with an unreliable narrator or ambiguous ending – Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger.  I’ve had this book for a long while.  I bought it because most people are supposed to read it in high school, and it’s a banned book.  I’ve had it for, like, five years, but haven’t read it yet.
  11. A book nominated for an award in 2017 – I’m not sure what I’ll read in this category.  I’ll probably wait until October and choose something that is nominated for a Goodreads award.
  12. A Pulitzer Prize or National Book Award winner –  All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.  I started the audiobook for this one but never finished it.  Also, a friend of mine read it and said it was awesome.

Extra Books I would like to read this year that don’t fall under the MMD Challenge:

  • The Memory Book by Lara Avery
  •   A Taste for Monsters by Matthew J. Kirby
  •    Heartless by Marissa Meyer


Do you all have any book suggestions?  Are you doing the MMD Challenge?  Let me know in the comments!

Happy Birthday Elizabeth!

Happy Birthday Elizabeth!

Today is the day!  It’s Baby Elizabeth’s first birthday!

I’ve shared my birth story here and her birthday photos here.


We had her big birthday party earlier this month, so we are just doing something small for the actual day, a little cupcake with a candle on it.

It blows my mind how quickly this first year has flown by.  We constantly marvel over the fact that she has become her own little person.

She loves to watch Princess Sofia in the mornings with her buttered toast; loves her daddy cuddles while watching tv; loves to giggle at the dogs; loves to do her own little thing.

She’s super active.  Even though she isn’t walking just yet, she can crawl SUPER fast.  If she sees something she wants and isn’t supposed to have she takes off!

She has seven teeth and will eat anything that doesn’t eat her first.

She’s an excellent sleeper.  She sleeps for about 10 to 12 hours every night and takes naps.

Bath time is one of her favorite times.  She is a big splasher!

She seems so solemn in public, but around people she knows, she is all giggles and talks a ton!  Wonder if that means she’ll be a little shy.

I just want to hold on to her and cherish each and every minute of her being little because I know it isn’t going to last.


So today, please forgive me if I’m a weepy mess; my baby girl is one.

We love you Elizabeth!

2016 Birthday Wishlist!

2016 Birthday Wishlist!

Hey everyone!  I saw a meme on Facebook, which not only made me laugh but inspired me to write up my 2016 Birthday Wish List.


My birthday is December 26th, so I’m used to combo presents and forgotten birthdays.  It doesn’t really bother me, because my mom has always made a point to celebrate my birthday separate from Christmas, so I never felt left out.  But these made me laugh, because I’ve definitely said those things in my head before.  And the great thing is, my husband knows how I feel, because his birthday is the 30th.  (I talked about birthday month here earlier this month.)


So without further ado, here is my birthday wish list!

  1. Apple TV – Best Buy $140
    I’ve wanted an Apple TV for a while now.  I’ve always had an iPhone and iPad, so I’ve bought lots of movies on iTunes.  But now that I have a MacBook too, I really want the  Apple TV.  It comes in handy when the internet messes up, (which happens at least once a month where we live) so I can play Sofia the First for the baby.
  2. Nikon D3400 – Best Buy $500
    I would really like a nice digital camera to really upgrade the quality of photos that I’m posting on here for you all.  Also, I have a super cute baby that I’m constantly taking pictures of!
  3. Leather Band for my Fitbit Blaze – Amazon $23
    I recently got a Fitbit Blaze, and I love it!  The old watch I had was a dark purple, so it basically matched everything.  The new one is black, so when I wear browns or blues, it don’t go so well.  This would match when I wear those things.
  4. Coach Perfume – Dillards $75
    I love the way this smells but have never bought it for myself because I’m not one hundred percent sure how it will smell on me.
  5. Michael Kors Hamilton Tote – Dillards $280
    I usually get myself one nice bag a year.  Two years ago it was a grey tote for my birthday and last year it was a light purple tote for Mother’s Day.
  6. Antler Shirt – Sunshine and Clotheslines $34
    This boutique is owned by my cousin’s wife.  In October, she posted that she was going to get this tunic, but it was so back ordered by her supplier that she said she wouldn’t be able it get it.  Well, he sent her a message, and she was able to grab a few!  I’ve got to have it!  Check out those elbow pads!
  7. Snooga Athletic Skirt – Snooga $60
    I have wanted a skirt/leggings combo for my workouts.  I don’t like that you can see the leggings sticking out of the skirt.  I’ll have to roll them up a little.
  8. Pompom Dress – Skirt Societ $50
    I love love love just about everything at this shop!  This is my favorite dress there right now.
  9. Plaid Blanket Scarf – Target $20
    These are so in and super warm!
  10. Owl Bookends – Amazon $23
    I collect owls and would love a set of bookends for my “currently reading” section, or on my desk.

What does your Birthday Wish List look like?  Let me know in the comments!

Elizabeth’s Cake Smash Session

Elizabeth’s Cake Smash Session

Hello All!  Man, this past week has been a BUSY ONE!  We had little Elizabeth’s Winter ONEderland party, which I’ll be blogging about later.  In the meantime, I figured I would share some photos from her cake smash session.  Cyndi Shewmake took these, and Elizabeth’s newborn photos.



She never wants to crack a smile when we have a camera out.  Saying “cheese” used to get her to smile but not anymore.


So we only got one smile.


However, when you say “yay baby” she will clap her hands together.


We constantly had to pull the snowflakes on the prop away from her.  She even tried to get the poms in the background before we brought out the cake.


A friend of mine made her onsie and I made her tutu.


That tutu though.  I got the tulle from Walmart, and the glitter went EVERYWHERE.  Seriously.  We took these photos three weeks ago, and we still find glitter around the house.


Since I made the tutu, I thought about making the smash cake too.  I even bought two little cake pans, but it wasn’t very pretty.  So I figured I’d leave it to the professionals.


For the cake smash, we got her bib and bloomers at Hobby Lobby, since I wanted her to be able to wear the “one” onsie at the party later.  We also had a pink hat for her to wear, but her head was too small.


She started out so daintily.  She used her finger and thumb to pinch off the green icing leaves from the roses on the top of the cake.


But, she finally got into it.


Then we pulled it off the stand so she could get a better angle on it.


Surprisingly, I was able to wash all that dark blue icing out of the bib, bloomers, and footless sandals.


I think she really enjoyed it 🙂


Have you all did cake smash sessions with your little ones?  How did you do it?  Let me know in the comments!


Decking the Halls Part Two: Christmas Tree!

Decking the Halls Part Two: Christmas Tree!

Hello everyone!  I am pleased to announce that my Christmas tree is FINALLY UP!! YAY!


I wanted to put it up the day after Thanksgiving, but when I pulled down the tree box it was empty.  I forgot that I had thrown it away to get a better one.  The first tree we had was pretty small.  This is probably the biggest tree I’ve ever had, it’s 7 feet tall and takes up a big chunk of my small living room.


When we first put it up, I was really worried about Baby Elizabeth trying to pull it down or constantly messing with it.  I almost got a baby gate to wrap around it to keep her off of it. I’m glad I didn’t, cause she is completely uninterested it.  Before we put the ornaments on, she touched it, and I don’t think she liked how bristly it was.  So it’s all the other decorations I have to chase after her for.  I think once she realizes that the candy canes on the tree are actually candy she might be more interested.


This year I’ve even decided to make a few ornaments myself.  So far I’ve only made one, but I’m going to try to make a few more for my bookshelves.

Yes, I’m watching Hairspray. I’ve been wanting to see it ever since I saw the commercial for NBC’s live musical.

My favorite thing to do when the house is all decked out for Christmas is to sit in the living room with the main lights out and the twinkly lights on.  It brings a peace that’s a little hard to explain.  It’s cosy and safe.  I could just sit in the lights with a cup of coffee/tea/hot chocolate forever.

How are your Christmas decorations coming along?  Let me know in the comments.

Welcome December: Birthday Month

Welcome December: Birthday Month

Hello everyone and happy December!  This year has flown by.  I can’t believe it’s already time to bust out the Christmas tree and gear up for New Years!

I’m always excited for December and the holiday season, but it is definitely the busiest month for the Cantrell house, not just because of Christmas, but because of all the birthdays.


When I say “all of the birthdays,” I mean all of the birthdays.  Every person in our little family’s birthday is in December (except the fur babies).  When Cody and I got married, we celebrated our birthdays by taking a trip together.  We figured that was the best since they were so close to Christmas and to each other, mine is the 26th and his is the 30th.  Our first and only (so far) trip was to Dallas.  We had a blast!  We went to a murder mystery dinner, Medieval times, and the zoo.  Our second year together, we didn’t do anything special since we had our new born baby girl.  Her birthday is the 21st.

l6ylvm-fjxc-sofiya-levchenko So not only are all of our birthdays in the same month, but they are within a few days of each other and surround a huge holiday!

This year we decided to celebrate Elizabeth’s birthday early, so that all the family could attend before they started their Christmas travels.  We’re having her party on the 10th, which is actually my mom’s birthday.

I sometimes wonder if, when we have our next child, they will feel left out if their birthday isn’t so close to ours.

Even though we are extremely busy with the celebrations in December, it is still one of my favorite months, and I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way.  I love the togetherness that December brings.

This December is going to be a fun one for us.  First, we are celebrating Elizabeth’s first birthday.  I cannot believe she is already one.  Her first year went be so fast.  I’m extremely grateful that I’ve been able to stay at home with her and not miss a single moment.


51ahxwkyyho-viktor-forgacsCody and I still haven’t decided what we’re going to do for our birthdays.  We’ve thrown around the idea of taking a day trip to Little Rock, but haven’t set any concrete plans just yet.  Do you guys have any suggestions?

I’m also excited for Christmas with Elizabeth this year.  Even though it isn’t technically her first Christmas, this is the first year we have decorated and are opening presents.  I can’t wait to see if she will actually try and open anything, or if she’ll be too preoccupied with the wrapping paper.  We’re also getting to start our first traditions this year.  We’re going to do Christmas Eve presents of pajamas and a Christmas movie.

What are your plans for December this year?  Leave it in the comments, and let me know!