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.

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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!

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24 Things Being 24 Taught Me

24 Things Being 24 Taught Me

Hello Everyone!  Tomorrow is my birthday and I plan on celebrating by going to the DMV, woohoo!  But in all seriousness I am excited about the birthday not the DMV though.

24 was a big year for me, so I thought I would share a few things I’ve learned with you all.

 

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  1. It’s okay to reboot, you’re still young.  This year I quit my job and became a stay-at-home mom until my daughter finished nursing.  Now that she’s finished, I’ve decided to go back to school and get my Masters in teaching.  My husband and I prayed about it and decided it was the right thing fir us to do.
  2. Take care of yourself.  I want to be able to run around and play in the front yard with my daughter when she’s a bit older, and to do that, I need to get into shape.  I’ve already lost the baby weight, which wasn’t much since I was so sick, and now I’m working on that extra bit that was already there.  I’m also taking care of myself mentally reading more and separating myself from negativity.  (The way I’ve done that is outlined here in my new morning routine.)
  3. Nursing is hard, but totally worth it.  I nursed Elizabeth until the end of her 11th month. It was an amazing experience that definitely led to a deep bond between us.  I’m not going to lie, it was challenging, some days it even sucked.  But once we got into a groove, it was an incredible experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything.
  4. Healthy food can be yummy.  I’ve been trying to eat healthier since deciding to take better care of myself.  One day, after I made a Turkey, spinach, Sweet Potato Skillet, my husband turned to me and said something along the lines of, “you don’t have to sacrifice taste for health.”  Granted, the only reason he said this was because he doesn’t like spinach… or sweet potato… or ground turkey.  Since then my healthy recipes have been tastier.  I think his favorite so far is my Ranch Burgers, or maybe the Stuffed Pepper Casserole, both of which are super yummy and under 400 calories a serving.
  5. Loose-leaf tea is soooo good.  If you’re into tea, you should totally try out loose-leaf tea.  I originally picked some up two years ago from Teavana when we went to Little Rock on a family trip, but my zeal for it didn’t last long.  I’ve recently picked it back up when I found some yummy loose leaf at my local Kroger.  I drink more tea than coffee now.
  6. Self help / advice books are not for me.  I’ve tried two different books like these this year, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo and This is Where You Belong by Melody Warnick.  These were both good books with good points that I was very interested in, but I just couldn’t push myself to finish them.
  7. Trying new food is fun!  Cody and I tried Indian food for the first time when we were in Dallas in April.  SO. GOOD.  Chicken Tikki Masala with naan is one of our favorite things to eat now.  We haven’t tried any local Indian places yet, but it’s on our list of date night meals.
  8. Live theatre is something everyone should try.  Eh, let me rephrase.  Good theatre is something everyone should try.  My sister goes to an artsy school, and I went to their production of Once Upon a Mattress with my mom.  It was really good.  The next time my husband and I take a trip, we’re going to try to see something together.
  9. Audiobooks are the bomb.  My husband and I started using Amazon’s Audible this year for audiobooks (not sponsored).  He listens to them as he works, and I listen while walking the neighborhood or driving someplace.  This year we listened to, the last four Harry Potter books, Girl on the Train, and the two books in the King Killer Chronicles.  I thought it would be difficult to follow along with something that I hadn’t read before, but it wasn’t.  A word of caution:  the narrator must be easy to listen to or you will not enjoy it.
  10. Relationships take work.  Ding, ding, ding!  This is an obvious one, I know, but it’s something that I’ve dealt with this year.  One thing that I pride myself on is our communication, but this year, with his new work schedule and the demands of the new baby, we’ve been a little out of sync.  So we started a new routine that has really helped us connect on days that we’re in a funk.  Each night we take turns telling each other one (different) thing we love about each other, then our favorite part of the day.
  11. It is important to have one nice outfit that fits properly.  By nice, I mean nice nice.  This is the time that most of your friends will be getting married or celebrating big accomplishments that will require a nice outfit.  Something classy.  If you don’t know where to look, try here.  I’ve have a few dresses from here, and they are super classy and excellent quality.
  12. True, die-hard friends are hard to come by; once you find one, don’t let them go.  When you are no longer forced to interact with the same people every day, like in school, you have to work harder to keep friendships alive.  Like I said, relationships take work.  When you do find “your person,” put the work in.  You need someone you can go to and spend time with.  Even if you don’t physically see each other every day, don’t let the life get in the way of your friendship.

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  13. FOR THE LOVE OF ALL… RSVP!!  You’re an adult now, so be responsible.  If someone invites you to something and asks for an RSVP, do it.  Food prep, room, seating, it’s important to know how many people are going to be there.  Don’t be the guy who shows up unexpected, and don’t be the guy that the host is waiting on because you didn’t let them know you weren’t coming.  Also, RVSP at least two weeks before the actual event.  I threw a party this year that half of the guest list did not let me know that they were not coming.  I had cake and goodies left over for days.

  14. Don’t compare yourself to other around you.  We’re young, and most people in we crew are young too.  Don’t compare yourself to someone who you think has it all together because looks can be deceiving.  Everyone takes their own path to success and sometimes your select the scenic route that takes an extra twenty minutes.
  15. Start thinking quality over quantity.  This can apply to all aspects of your life, but here I’m talking about clothes again.  I love cheap Rue 21 clothes as much as the next girl, but you get what you pay for.  Wash it three times, and it disintegrates.  I’ve had to throw out so much this year because the quality just wasn’t there.  Invest in something that will hold up and makes you look like a million bucks (but it doesn’t have to cost quite that much).
  16. Being awesome is a choice.  Being “awesome,” confident, or even social is a decision.  Force positivity, tell yourself that you are great and you’ll eventually believe it.  Personal pep talks can be a life line when you’re exhausted and elbow deep in a poopy diaper, believe me.
  17. If you are unhappy or dislike something, change it now.  You’re an adult, but you’re still young.  If your unsatisfied with something, your body, your job, your relationships, now is the time to change it.  This has basically been my mantra this year.  I’ve switched careers and am working out more.
  18. There is no age limit for YA fiction.  I love young adult fiction.  They say that it’s for ages 16 to 25, but I don’t care.  I love YA fiction and probably always will, so I’m going to keep reading it.
  19. Adult coloring books are the bomb.  I recently bought myself a coloring book.  I’ve wanted to try it for a while but kept putting them down because I thought I didn’t have the time, or I wasn’t even sure if I liked to color.  Turns out I love it, and it’s pretty easy to find some time to squeeze it in my day.
  20. Buying baby clothes is addictive.  Seriously.  I think my new favorite store is Carters.  Everything is so cute and miniature!  I absolutely love it!  The dresses, shoes, headbands, all of it.  Even the little onesies.  Love it.
  21. You don’t have too many books, you have too few bookshelves.  Enough said.
  22. You can live with less.  Except books obviously.  Most people, myself included, have too much stuff.  Useless stuff that we can’t even remember why we bought it.  I ave thrown out or given away so much stuff this year!  It wasn’t “junk”  it was useful stuff that I just didn’t need or have the room for.
  23. Helping people is so good for you.  Giving gifts, time, whatever you can to those in need it is an amazing feeling.  People aren’t kidding when they say it’s better to give than to receive.  The feeling that you get from watching someone get something they truly want or need, it’s amazing.  We’ve went out of our way a few times this year to help others, and it was so fulfilling.
  24. It’s good to know how to make at least one impressive meal.  Everyone likes to impress people, that’s a given.  One of the most satisfying ways to impress someone is by cooking an amazing meal.  Then you’ll be known as that girl/boy who can cook that amazing ______.  Any time there is a pot luck, everyone is super excited to see what I’ve brought because I’ve mastered a few things. The older you get, the more likely it is you’re going to have to bring some food to something, so nail whatever that something is.

Goodbye 24, hello 25.  I’m excited to see what you have in store for me!

Thank you for reading my longest post so far.  Did you learn anything this year?  Share it in the comments below, and Merry Christmas!

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!

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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.

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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:

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  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

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  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!