Looking Back and Moving Forward

Although you might not have realized it from my blogging habits–or lack thereof–from 2018, last year was a whirlwind. I’m finally in a place emotionally, physically, and mentally where I’m able to return to blogging regularly, but before I start posting reviews again, I wanted to share the highs and lows from 2018 as well as my goals and dreams for this new year.

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Goodbye, 2018!

♥ The biggest, most life-changing thing that happened last year? I had a baby! This is also the main reason for my unannounced blog hiatus for most of 2018. In December we welcomed our second son, Finn, and he is perfect and fully loved by us all.

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However, just like with my first pregnancy, this time I also suffered from depression and anxiety. Both are thieves of joy, as anyone with depression and/or anxiety can tell you. I was prepared for it this time, but that didn’t make it any easier; it just encouraged me that it would end at some point, probably at the end of my pregnancy. So for approximately 9 months I was only able to push through a handful of books, not really fully enjoying them; I forced myself to blog a couple of times; mostly I sat on the couch or cuddled in my bed and watched tv or period dramas (at least the depression didn’t steal binge watching from me). But good news: at the end of it all, I was blessed with a beautiful baby boy and a renewed love for reading (since the delivery I have read 7 books!), so I can officially say that my reading slump is over.

♥ In September, after visiting Oregon for my sister’s wedding and hosting my in-laws at our home in Wilmington, NC, we were hit by the devastating and frustratingly sluggish Hurricane Florence. Our coastal city had already reached our average annual rainfall amount before Florence hit, and then she just sat there for DAYS, flooding our city and my house. We had to be emergency evacuated in a boat by FEMA and the Fire Department. 

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My street the day after the flash flood caused by Hurricane Florence. We are near the end of the street, not pictured here, where the water levels were higher. When we were evacuated, the only part of our mailbox that was above water was the very top of the post.

With 18″ of water infiltrating our house (40″ in the garage), we had to completely gut and repair the first floor. Thank God for our second floor, and for the fact that we were here, even though we had to be evacuated, because we were able to save a lot of our belongings. I also thank God for my husband, who, on top of working overtime at work every week, also spent hours every day gutting, cleaning, organizing and packing up salvaged belongings, pulling up floors, installing drywall, installing new floors, and basically becoming a handy-man overnight so that we could be back in our house before Finn arrived. 

With help from our friends, family, and church communities both here and in France, my husband was able to finish the major repairs necessary for us to move back into our house the week of Thanksgiving. There is still much to do. Between Christmas, having a baby, hosting our family, and having the stomach flu (everyone except Finn, thankfully), we still need to unpack several boxes and install cosmetic aspects of our house, like the baseboards and the new back door. But it’s all part of the process! The important thing is that we have a house that is clean and habitable. 

♥ Between prenatal depression and hurricane-induced anxiety, one significant thing I focused on in 2018 was my mental health. A couple of weeks before Hurricane Florence hit, I started seeing a counselor, who diagnosed me with general anxiety. That was nothing surprising, but having a name for it gave me some power over it. I haven’t been able to go to counseling since Finn was born, but I have noticed that I don’t get anxious as much over things that are beyond my control. When I do get anxious (like I did when me, my husband, my toddler, and my family who was staying with us got the stomach flu the week we brought Finn home from the hospital), I focus on relieving that anxiety in a healthy way. Usually that’s by praying and singing comforting worship songs over my situation.

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Welcome, 2019!

♥ What’s my number one goal for this year? Declutter my life! I’m sure most (nearly) 30-year old moms have this new year’s resolution, but in my case it’s also part of our hurricane recovery process (I promise that’s the last time I include the h-word in this post; I’m tired of hearing it as much as you probably are). As I unpack and organize our belongings, I stop and ask myself, “Is this necessary? Do I love it?” If the answer is no, the item is either donated or trashed. I still have a ways to go before my whole house is decluttered, but every little step is progress and each time I get rid of something it brings me a sense of peace. Plus, it’s nice opening the kitchen cabinet and seeing only the mugs I actually use and enjoy.

♥ This year I’ve decided to read what I want. I didn’t originally plan it this way, but it also goes along with my decluttering resolution. In the past I’ve filled a lot of my time reading books I didn’t love; sometimes they were review books, sometimes they were classics I felt I had to read. I’ve also spent a lot of time reading books that were fluffy, meaningless reads, which is ok sometimes, but this year I’m ready for a change. Maybe it’s part of getting older or having more kids: I’ve realized how little time I have to read and I want to spend that time reading really good books. I also want to focus on reading one, maybe two books at a time, as opposed to the two to three books I normally read at once. I know that most people only read one book at a time, but I’m a restless multitasker when it comes to reading, especially when I’m reading a slower-paced book.

♥ While Finn will be sleeping in our bedroom for the next few months, eventually he and his older brother will be sharing their bedroom, so one of my goals this year is to fix up the nursery. It’s currently a woodland creatures theme, but we plan to modify it a little to give it a Peter Pan/Neverland theme. I’m so excited about this, and I hope my boys enjoy it too! I’ll be sure to share pictures when their lost boys’ hideout is complete.

♥ This year I’m also aspiring to focus on hospitality. After being blessed by the hospitality and generosity of our friends over the past few months, I’ve been encouraged to deepen those qualities in my own life. I’ve noticed how greedy I can be with my time and resources, and I’ve been feeling a desire to change that.

♥ Lastly, and what I anticipate will be the hardest goal to achieve this year: I’d like to finally finish the first draft of my novel. I started writing it over a year and a half ago and I have not been very persistent. It’s a mental struggle, but I hope to overcome it and get my story written down, even if only I ever read it. 

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I’m looking forward to another year of growth! From last year’s experience, I know that being stretched isn’t necessarily a comforting idea, but it does produce stronger character and a clearer perspective in the end.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. – James 1:2-4

It’s been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will. – Anne of Green Gables

What are your resolutions for this year?

Bucket List Update!

We are almost halfway through the year, and I thought it would be fun to see how far I’ve progressed on my 2017 Bucket List :)

  1. Eat at 10 local restaurants – We’ve probably eaten at 5 or 6 local restaurants, including 1 or 2 new ones.
  2. Go berry picking – Yes! Killian and I finally did this and it was such a lovely afternoon. We picked blackberries at Lewis Farms a few weeks ago and it was the perfect time to go. There were so many ripe berries, and Killian was a natural at picking them. Afterwards we ate some homemade blueberry ice cream and it was absolutely delicious. Lewis Farms just closed for the season :( but next year we’ll be back!

  3. Read at least 10 classics from my Classics Club list – Well I’ve been slacking on this one! I’ve only read 8 classics this year, and only 3 were on my Classics Club list. I’ve been halfway through Cranford for nearly two months now…
  4. Gardening – I definitely enjoyed some gardening time earlier this spring! I planted a lot of flowers in the front yard and my husband and I started an herb and vegetable garden in the back yard. We’ve already eaten the first round of radishes (they were too spicy for me but my husband loved them) and we’ll be able to eat some green beans soon! It’s nice to be able to go outside and pick some herbs to season dinner with, and gardening itself is very relaxing.

    The petunias around the mailbox are HUGE now,, and so are the plants in the back yard.

  5. Write a novel! –I think the reason I’m actually writing this blog post is because I’m procrastinating on my book. But I really am writing a novel this year! At first I was going to write about this one book idea I had been musing over for almost 3 years, but then one day about 6-8 weeks ago I got a new idea that started consuming me. I outlined it and wrote several scenes within a week, and then I decided to just put the other story on the table for now. I don’t have a title for the book I’m currently working on, but I can tell you that I’m about 30 pages in and it’s of the time travel/historical fiction persuasion. My goal is to have the first draft completed by the end of the year, hopefully sooner :)

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    This quote has been really inspiring to me while I hash out my first draft.

  6. Take a week off– We’re planning on taking a week vacation around labor day, hopefully to the mountains or someplace refreshing and secluded.
  7. See Hamilton! – Ha, ha, silly me got the dates wrong for this tour. Hamilton is coming to Charlotte next year :( but speaking of musicals, has anyone else become obsessed with Dear Evan Hanson? My husband and I fell in love with this performance at the Tony’s and now we can’t stop listening to it!
  8. Finish decorating my library – I did this! My happy place is all decorated and organized (with the exception of a couple of boxes), and I do most of my writing up there, now. It still serves as our guest room, so I try to use it as much as possible when we don’t have guests, but I also write a lot at the local library.
  9. Finish reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix with Matt – Ha, I forgot that I put this on my bucket list. We did finish GoF, but we are only two chapters into OotP. I need to start reading it again!
  10. Volunteer more – This is still something I need to work on. I’ve done more volunteering at the library, but I’m still looking for some new organizations to volunteer with.

So I’m about halfway through after all! 4.5/9 bucket list items, since #7 isn’t applicable this year, unfortunately. But I’m excited that I’m actually making progress :)

Top Ten Tuesday: 2017 Bucket List

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This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is a freebie! So I thought I’d use this opportunity to finalize my bucket list for the year :)

I tried doing a bucket list two years ago to celebrate by 25th birthday, but I didn’t quite get around to crossing off all those items (although looking at it now, I’ve been able to do several more of those goals since I turned 25!).

So here are the Top Ten Things on My 2017 Bucket List:

  1. Eat at 10 local restaurants – Wilmington has so many locally owned restaurants and I have been dying to try more of them out. We don’t eat out often because it’s cheaper to eat at home, but I’d like to try out ten different local restaurants here in town this year.
  2. Go berry picking – I’ve had berry picking on my bucket list for two years now, and this year I’m finally going to do it. The berry picking farm always closes way earlier than I think it will, so last year I missed out because we didn’t go early enough. The summer before, I was pregnant, and the last thing I felt like doing was walking around in the heat. I’m gonna make it happen this year, though!
  3. Read at least 10 classics from my Classics Club list – I’m supposed to have finished 50 classics off my Classics Club list by the end of next year, and I’m just a little over halfway there. I have some real chunky classics I need to read (or finish reading *coughWarandPeacecough*), so I hope to get through at least 10 this year!
  4. Gardening – Our front yard is pretty bare and I’d love to put in some low maintenance foliage to make it look more inviting. I am NOT a green thumb, though, so I’m going to have to do some research about which plants will do well before going through all the trouble of planting them.
  5. Write a novel! – My biggest goal for 2017. It’s been forever since I’ve written anything, and I’ve never written anything longer than 30 pages, but I’m taking a few online writing classes so hopefully that helps. I’m still in the outlining phase but I’m really excited to see what I end up with :)
  6. Take a week off– Vague, I know. My husband and I really want and need to take a week-long vacation this year. We haven’t decided a destination, yet, but if I had my way it would be to PEI, Canada so I could really feel like Anne Shirley.
  7. See Hamilton! – Hamilton is coming to Charlotte in November and I am desperate to get my hands on some tickets when they go on sale. But only if they aren’t as expensive as Broadway tickets, because then I might as well just go up to NYC (and cross off #6 and #7 at the same time).
  8. Finish decorating my library – I love my library/guest room. It’s my favorite room in the house. But I still have some decorating to do :)
  9. Finish reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix with Matt – My husband has never read the HP books, so two years ago we started reading them aloud with each other. We’ve gotten stuck on Goblet of Fire (because it is significantly longer than Prisoner of Azkaban), but I’d love to finish it and Order of the Phoenix this year.
  10. Volunteer more – Another vague one. I already volunteer at the library on Saturdays, but I’d love to volunteer at other places, too, especially in areas that challenge me.

There you have it! Check back at the end of the year to see how well I did at accomplishing these wishes for 2017 :)

2016 Reading Superlatives

  1. Number Of Books You Read: 54 (58 if you count individual short stories)
  2. Number of Re-Reads: 4 (The Cask of Amontillado, Pride and Prejudice, Northanger Abbey, and The Choice)
  3. Genre You Read The Most From: I read 13 Classic novels/short stories this year and 21 Young Adult books (divided into contemporary, sci-fi, and fantasy categories)

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  1. Best Book You Read In 2016?: THIS IS IMPOSSIBLE! If I have to pick just one, excluding rereads, it would have to be Time’s Edge, because I kept thinking about that book for weeks afterwards.
  2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?: Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid. I didn’t even finish it…
  3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?: The Husband Secret by Liane Moriarty. I was totally expecting some dark mystery novel and it was really a romance novel with some suspense. I read it with my book club and I think we were all disappointed. Some of us didn’t even finish it.
  4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?: I got at least 2 friends to read Timeline by Michael Crichton :)
  5. Best series you started in 2016? Best Sequel of 2016? Best Series Ender of 2016?: The Chronos Files series by Rysa Walker has become a new favorite of mine! I devoured all three books (plus most of the novellas). Winter by Marissa Meyer was a fantastic series ender, as well.
  6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2016?: Probably Rysa Walker.
  7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?: I read a lot of high fantasy this year, which was sort of new for me. Graceling by Kristin Cashore and Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake were intriguing.
  8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?: I guess I’d have to say And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. I read the whole book in a day because I had to know “whodunnit?”.
  9. Book You Read In 2016 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?: It’s a toss up between Timebound by Rysa Walker and Winter by Marissa Meyer. Although Pride and Prejudice is a book I could reread every year.
  10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2016?: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake. Look at it!
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  11. Most memorable character of 2016?: Demelza Poldark! New role model for me :)
  12. Most beautifully written book read in 2016?: The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman. It will pull on your heartstrings. (Honorable mention: Graceling by Kristin Cashore has a very beautifully written love scene, despite the fact that I thought the majority of the book was written very bluntly).
  13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2016?: I read some very good books this year, but none that I would define as “life-changing”; however, the Poldark books introduced me to two amazing female characters (Demelza and Verity) who I would now consider as fictional role models.
  14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2016 to finally read?: Timebound! Ugh, why didn’t I read it when I bought it back in 2014??
  15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2016?: I’ve been so bad at writing down favorite quotes! Here’s one of my favorites from The Secret Garden that really spoke to the Anne Shirley side of me:

    “I’ve seen the spring now and I’m going to see the summer. I’m going to see everything grow here. I’m going to grow here myself.”

  16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2016?: Shortest: 2092 by Rysa Walker (48 pages), although The Oval Portrait by Edgar Allan Poe is only a few pages long, but I read it as part of a collection of his work. Longest: Winter by Marissa Meyer (832 pages).
  17. Book That Shocked You The Most: The ending to Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake really surprised me (in a good way). It’s probably the only reason I’ll read the sequel.
  18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!): I was a huge Kate/Kiernan shipper while reading The Chronos Files series.
  19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year: Cinder and Thorne from The Lunar Chronicles Series.
  20. Favorite Book You Read in 2016 From An Author You’ve Read Previously: Timeline by Michael Crichton. I read that book and then read two others by him because his writing is fantastic.
  21. Best Book You Read In 2016 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure: There were several, but Graceling is probably the one I enjoyed the most.
  22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2016?: Kiernan Dunne from The Chronos Files. He’s Irish and from the early 1900s so double win.
  23. Best 2016 debut you read?: I didn’t read any 2016 debuts (I don’t usually)!
  24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?: I hate repeating myself so many times, but I loved all the time travel in The Chronos Files. So well researched.
  25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?: Happy Again by Jennifer E. Smith was a fun novella! I love her writing.
  26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2016?: Speaking of Jennifer E. Smith, her book, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight had me crying at one point. There’s a sweet moment between the main character and her father that was really touching.
  27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?: Civil War: The Amazing Spider-Man. One of two 5-star rated reads I haven’t mentioned yet! (The other is also a graphic novel: Out of the Past (Once Upon a Time #3). I love Spider-Man, and I really liked Captain America: Civil War, so I shouldn’t have been surprised at how great this comic book was. It was just a collection of the Spider-Man Civil War editions, but it’s by far the best comic book/graphic novel I’ve read since I started reading comics and graphic novels a few years ago. I couldn’t put it down and my mouth was literally hanging open after the cliff hanger at the end. SO good.
  28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?: The Light Between Oceans, as expected. I wonder if I would have felt the same way had I read this book before I became a parent.
  29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2016?: The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe, not because I enjoyed it a lot, but because it was one of the first (if not THE first) detective stories ever written.
  30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?: Hmm…it didn’t make me extremely mad, but Forbidden by Ted Dekker had a really stupid death it that I haven’t entirely gotten over. Maybe that’s why I haven’t finished the series, yet.

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  1. One Book You Didn’t Get to In 2015 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2017?: Stars Above by Marissa Meyer! I’ve already started it :)
  2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2017 (non-debut): I really want to read the Time Trial graphic novel (part of The Chronos Files universe).
  3. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2017?: Write a book! I’ve had a couple of stories rolling around in my mind, and I think 2017 is the year I’m finally going to stop being afraid of not getting them right and just write one of them already. I’m also taking a few online writing classes which I’m excited about. In my reading life, I plan on branching out of my comfort zone by reading more non-fiction and literary books. Last year I read a lot of YA, so I think I’d like to read more books directed towards adult readers.

 

Winter Highlights!

So I’ve been trying to post my December and January Highlights for WEEKS MONTHS now, but seeing as how February is now over and Spring is almost here (yay!), I figured I’d just summarize the last three months into one wintery post :) I have lots of highlights from our trip to France for Christmas, but first, BOOKS!

In December and January I read 10 books (and DNF 2). I also read a short story prequel to The Martian by Andy Weir.

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight A Grimm Curse Hello Goodbye To Win Her Favor The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things brokenhearts Faires Vampire Academy Winter A Worthy Pursuit

did not finish The Distance Between Us by Kasie West or Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid, even though I was looking forward to that book so much! I really enjoyed his first novel, Let’s Get Lost, but his new book did not have the same feel or voice to it and the main characters drove me insane. It felt too much like a John Green novel, so if you’re a fan of his you might enjoy Never Always Sometimes.

Most Popular Post

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Reads of 2015 (December)
Top Ten Tuesday: Recent Additions to My To-Be-Read List (January)
A Grimm Curse (Grimm Tales #3) by Janna Jennings (February)

What I Watched

Reign

I started watching Reign on Netflix in January. Even though it’s not the best show, dialogue and plot-line wise, I am obsessed with the costumes on Reign. They’re definitely not historically accurate, but they’re so pretty! Also, Anne Shirley plays Queen Catherine of France! I haven’t watched it in a while, though, so I’m not caught up on this season.

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In February I binged watch Chicago Med (it’s still in season one, so I only binged like 9 episodes). It has an ER feel to it, and the drama of the show is more focused on the patients than the nurses and doctors (although they have their drama and relationship problems, too. It’s just not as dramatic as Grey’s Anatomy).

What I Listened To

Like so many other people, I jumped on the Hamilton bandwagon a few months ago. I love how upbeat the soundtrack is, and I only wish I lived closer to NYC so I could actually see the show performed on Broadway. Maybe one day they’ll start touring and come down to NC?

I also fell in love with two new (to me) podcasts. Astonishing Legends covers unexplained disappearances, treasure hunts, time travel, urban legends, and other weird & interesting topics. I got my husband into this one, too, after we listened to a 4-part series on the Oak Island Money Pit. I can’t listen to these podcasts at night, though, because I’m just like Catherine Morland and my imagination gets scared easily…

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I also started listening to Stuff You Missed in History Class, which also has it’s creepier episodes, but overall it factually covers some famous and not so famous history lessons. One of my favorite episodes that I listened to recently was about the Great Vowel Shift and a brief history of the English language. Each episode is only about 30-40 minutes, perfect for me to listen to while doing housework or driving across town.

Stuff You Missed in History Class

Highlights

  • Killian is now 4 months old!

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  • We did a lot of traveling this winter. For Christmas and New Years we visited my in-laws in France! We were blessed to be able to stay for 2 whole weeks and I’m so happy that we got to see lots of extended family and friends while we were there. Here are just A FEW of the pictures from our trip:
  • In February, my best friend Jae visited us for a whole week!! It was so nice getting to spend time with her, and she helped me organize and clean house which was a huge blessing to me (boxes of Christmas decorations had taken over our kitchen counters).
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  • Killian’s first trip to Florida! I’m from Florida, and some of my family still lives there. Last month I was able to fly down to Tampa with the baby to visit my extended family for a week and it was so nice! I hadn’t seen a lot of my mom’s extended family in a few years (not since my wedding, actually), so it was nice to catch up and introduce them to the French Fry.

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    Four Generations! Great-Grandpa, Grandma, Mommy, and Baby :) (and we didn’t color coordinate on purpose)

Looking Forward to in February

  • Birthdays! Matt, Solo, and I all have our birthdays in March. Mine is actually next week! We don’t have any big plans, but I’m excited for cake & presents (aka BOOKS because my family knows me so well).
  • Family visits. My parents and my sister are both visiting us later this month, and it’s always nice having them here. Since the weather is warming up now I hope to take them sight seeing at some of the outdoor attractions here in town. There’s a WWII battle ship and a Civil War battleground that I know my dad will enjoy, and then there’s always the beach :)
  • Finding a job. I’ve started job hunting now that Killian is a little older. I’m not looking forward to leaving him at daycare, though!! *cries*
  • Moving! Our lease is up in about a month and I’m excited to move to a less-crowded home (right now we’re in a 1-bedroom apartment!).

Whew! Those are my condensed highlights from the past three months. I wish I could have made a whole post just about Christmas in France, but I’ve done that before so I guess it’s ok that I abbreviated our trip in this post instead. You can read it here :)

November Highlights!

I cannot believe it’s already December. Back when I was pregnant I felt like the year was dragging on but now I’m feeling like I just wrote my post about October and now the year is a few short weeks from being over. Thinking back to where I was a year ago, I can’t believe so much has happened in just twelve months!

November was my first full month as a new mom. It’s been hard. Babies are a lot of work, in case no one has ever told you. Even if you have been told before, you won’t believe it until you actually have your own infant attached to you for what feels like every hour of the day. But that’s ok, babies still bring you so much joy even while they’re sucking out all your energy (the sleep deprivation has made me a  little sarcastic lately…).

Anyway: highlights!

I read 5 books (and DNF 1)

Trouble With Destiny openroadsummer Me Before You The Truth About Forever LifeIntended

Most Popular Post:

October Highlights
Ever After’s Château de Hautefort (I can’t wait to go back one day!)

What I Watched:

BrooklynNineNine

Yeah, we binged watch this whole show between the last week of October and the end of November. After all the stress from having a baby and Thanksgiving and family visiting, this was the perfect way to relax and have a few (actually, a lot of) laughs.

Favorite character? Probably Terry, although Boyle is hilarious and I really love Jake, too.

What I Listened To:

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I started listening to a James Morrison station on iTunes Radio last month and it’s pretty much all I listen to nowadays. Probably because his songs are relaxing and they actually went really well with the books I was reading last month.

Highlights:

  • Killian’s 1 Monthiversary! – I can’t believe my little sweet cheeks is already a month old (technically he’s 6 weeks now).
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  • Thanksgiving – We had an interesting Thanksgiving week. Killian was sick and we ended up having to postpone our actual Thanksgiving meal until Saturday. But my parents and both of my siblings were here with us so it was fun having family time :)
  • Reading some quality books – I read some books that made me cry from laughing and others that made me cry so hard it was more like sobbing (I’m looking at you, Me Before You). But I only read one book that I didn’t like, and I didn’t finish it because I just don’t have time for books I’m not into!
  • Decorating for Christmas! – We have to take down our tree before we go to France for 2 weeks (fire hazard), so we were anxious to get it up as soon as we could after Thanksgiving. We finally got to break out the Christmas ornaments we used for our wedding decorations 4 years ago, but most of our ornaments ended up being Hallmark ones that my mom and sister gift us in bulk every year. We love them :)
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Looking Forward in December:

  • The Broke and Bookish’s Annual Secret Santa Event!! – I’ve purchased just about everything for my Secret Santa, I just need to run to Target and buy some chocolately goodies. I’m really excited to find out who my own Secret Santa is!
  • GOING TO FRANCE FOR CHRISTMAS! – It’s been about 16 months since we left France, and 3 years since we’ve had Christmas in France! Yeah, it’ll be hard flying with a newborn, but the fondue and raclette and family time will be totally worth it. Plus, my sister-in-law just had a baby this week so I have a new niece to meet!
  • Seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens – 3 years ago we find out that the newest Star Wars movie is being released on our 4th wedding anniversary, so Matt decided a long time ago what we would be doing to celebrate. I’m nervous about having someone watch Killian for those few hours, though. It’s too soon to leave him!

Who else is excited about Star Wars?? I’ve already decided I like Kylo Ren, even though he’s on the Dark Side and we don’t know anything about him. The mystery makes him cooler :)

October Highlights!

Hello! It’s been a while! But I have the most amazing excuse for why I haven’t blogged in a month…

I HAD A BABY!!!

Introducing Killian (aka “Little Baby French Fry,” as I’ve been calling him the past nine months):

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Isn’t he the most precious thing ever? (Yes, I’m biased. I’m a mom) One of these days I will get around to sharing my birth story, but right now I’m trying to frantically publish this highlights post before Baby K wakes up from his nap!

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October Highlights

I read 2 books:

Scarlet  Cress

Not bad considering how occupied I was last month with checking off last minute items from my to-do list, having a baby, and spending time with visiting family members :)

Also, I’m in love with The Lunar Chronicles series. I feel kind of bad that I waited until now to start it, but at the same time that means I didn’t have to wait impatiently for the sequels to be released. Win! All I have to wait for is my turn to check out Winter at the library (I’m ~10 on the waitlist).

I’m still behind on some reviews, but I’ll get them up eventually!

Most Popular Posts:

August & September Highlights
Ever After’s Château de Hautefort (I love that this post is still so popular after a year!)

What I Watched:

Sleepy Hollow

I finally had time to catch up on 3 seasons of Sleepy Hollow! I started watching this show when it first came out, but then I got too busy and I was already watching so many other shows that I decided to save it for a rainy day, or in this case the last weeks of pregnancy/late night nursing sessions with Killian. I’m still finishing up the second season but I. Am. Obsessed. Colonial literary character from one of my favorite gothic short stories + fantasy and crime drama = happy Maggie. (Also, I love teasing my husband about how cute Ichabod Crane is. To be honest, though, my husband could totally pull off the cosplay)

Highlights:

  • Having a baby! – It was the hardest, most painful experience of my life (childbirth is no joke, especially sans pain medication), but nothing can compare to the love I feel for my little french fry!
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  • Visits from family members – My mom, who was there with me in the delivery room, stayed with us for the first week and a half of Killian’s life, which was extremely helpful, especially in the mornings/early afternoons when she held him so I could shower and eat. My dad also visited for a couple of days when we were at the hospital. Killian came 4 days early but really he came at the most perfect time because my mom and husband were able to be with me constantly those first few days and also we were able to get settled in at home before my in-laws arrived from France. Having them visiting was special and helpful because we haven’t seen them in over a year and also my mother-in-law cooked every meal for us for a whole week (man, did we miss French cuisine!). The months leading up to my due date I had been so worried and stressed out about having people visiting, but it ended up being the best thing because I had so much help at home which led to me recovering pretty quickly and I also had company so I didn’t get any long-term baby blues (I did have a couple crying fests in those first few days but everyone totally understood and related). My sister also visited this week and she had a lot of fun snuggling with her nephew :)

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    A picture with both sets of grandparents :) Solo was too distracted to look at the camera…

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    This photo was snapped just after Solo gave me and my mother-in-law sloppy wet kisses.

  • Spending time with friends – I love autumn and lots of quality friend & family time. In October I went to a friend’s Pinterest party and we continued to host our Marvel movie nights (where our fellow geeky friends come over each week to watch the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies with us).
  • Simply enjoying life :) – Becoming a parent seemed like the scariest thing ever until it actually happened; everything changed but it wasn’t hard to transition. My life now revolves around my sweet baby & I wouldn’t want it any other way. Also, baby cuddle time is the best!

Looking forward to in November:

  • More family time :)
  • Thanksgiving – we’re hosting it this year!
  • Reading – I’m in a really good reading mood so far this month, which is awesome because I have time to read while I’m nursing (Killian takes his precious time nursing, which is actually a good thing because he rarely spits up).
  • Star Wars marathon – like our Marvel marathon, our friends in town are hosting a Star Wars marathon each weekend to gear up for The Force Awakens next month. I love movie marathons with friends!

What were some of your biggest highlights from October? Any good book or tv show recommendations?