July 5, 2024

Friday Recommendations, 7/5

1. Presumed Innocent.  Super interesting and holds our attention. Lots of guessing about what's going to happen next. There's 5 episodes up on Apple TV right now so now it's week-to-week for me, every new episode coming out on Wednesdays. 

2. Basically any book I posted yesterday. All perfect for beach-reading or summer reading in general!

3. We watched two movies this week. A Simple Favor and A Family Affair. The first was good; I'd never read the book. Great cast. The second: we will watch anything with Zac Efron because I just think he's so funny. Have you seen Neighbors? There's a bonus recommendation for you. Hilarious. He's definitely a comedic actor. 

4. I made these brownies yesterday. I used red and blue sprinkles for decorations. The single easiest recipe for a baked dessert that you may ever come across. I've been making them for well over a dozen years. 


We've made it to the halfway point of summer. 

July 4, 2024

June Books.

Summer is always when I do the most reading, so I have lots of my favorite authors to share with you from June. Since it's also halfway through the year, I'm 2/3 of the way to my goal of 36 books. I will, no doubt, get overzealous and up it to 50 (if previous years tell me anything) and be scrambling in December to finish. 

First, when I look back at my May books post, I can tell you that I did not finish Expiration Dates and I didn't get very far in Here One Moment. I do poorly with predictable rom-coms (though I loved In Five Years because it was so sad) and Liane Moriarity has turned so bland and unappealing to me. Reading her is like walking through a department store or something when you're not interested in buying anything. I actually disliked Apples Never Fall so much that I couldn't finish it. And using Nicole Kidman in that Nine Perfect Strangers series was ridiculous. I barely finished that book and watched like 20 minutes of episode one. Anyway, all that to say I am disappointed to admit that I didn't get far in her newest book and I don't care. I would say that Big Little Lies was an anomaly but The Husband's Secret and What Alice Forgot were fantastic too. 

If you want to about an anomalous crowning achievement, let's look at The Girl on the Train....I don't think Paula Hawkins ever wrote anything I finished after that. 

But what I did read this month...

Darling Girls by Sally Hepworth This was a bit triggering in so many ways. I found it to be not for the faint of heart. I'm not going to say much because anything can be considered a spoiler in this book. It was good, for sure, but it was different. I didn't love the ending. It seemed rushed and like justice was just out of reach. 3 STARS. 

She's Not Sorry by Mary Kubica There is a huge twist in this book and I did not see it coming at all and I actually went back and re-read a page to make sure I was seeing what I was actually seeing with my own two eyes and did my brain comprehend it? I will say I spent the first half of the book thinking how dumb the main character was. The ending left a few possibilities open, I remember, which I found interesting. 5 STARS

The Housemaid is Watching by Freida McFadden The third book in the series, I definitely had this one preordered. I would say the beginning was really slow. It's quite the time jump from book #2 so it took some time for me to figure out what was going on but I would say it picked up at the end. Not as good as the first two books, though. 3 STARS

The Next Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine I really could not put down the first book several years ago. I distinctly remember bouncing newborn Wells in his bouncer with one hand and reading a hardcopy of The Last Mrs. Parrish from the library with the other hand. I did read The First Shot prequel novella two years ago and that is required reading for this sequel, as a warning. Go find it somewhere. It's free on Kindle Unlimited. 
Anyway, this sequel didn't compare to the original. No real twists; I couldn't figure out what I disliked most though: how incredibly dumb Daphne was, how annoying Daisy Ann was, or how cold Amber was. 3 STARS. 

Everywhere You Look by Liv Constantine This was a novella but I'm counting it. I've never read such a smashed together plot in my entire life. It was a Lifetime movie for SURE.  I found it on Audible randomly (or rather, the algorithm found me after I finished The Next Mrs. Parrish). I regret every second of it but it was free. If you are a fan of The Last Thing He Told Me (I was not), you'll like this.

Bye, Baby by Carola Lovering I avoided this for months because I thought it was about a kidnapped baby. It's really not. That's the plot point that the story centers around but it's not about a kidnapped baby. It's about two friends whose lives take different paths after college. I love all the details and the characters and how the season of fall is almost like a character in the story. I really just enjoy her writing so I should've read this sooner for sure. 5 STARS.

I'm in the middle of a few non-fiction books but I move so slowly through those...ridiculously slowly. Up next for me though with fiction is the new Beatriz Williams, another author I wait for that summer release from each year. (Did anyone else notice that Taylor Jenkins Reid didn't release a new book this year???). 

Linking up for Share Your Shelf!

July 2, 2024

Two guilty pleasures.

1. Politics. I ride an adrenaline high on election nights. It's the weirdest thing. I picked up this hobby of following politics around 2016, but I always paid attention from about 2000 on. I remember following 2012 pretty closely on Twitter. With podcasts and live coverage and tracking of the electoral map, I really went for it in 2018, 2020, and 2022. It's like an actual hobby. On debate night last week, the season started. 

2. I love Nordstrom Anniversary Sale season. It's funny because I don't have an N card and I don't buy from the sale. But I love seeing what other people are buying and I love reading the lamenting about how quality has gone so far downhill. That being said, here's what I would want if I were shopping the sale (no affiliate links here)...

All Saints Tote (though if I had the access and unlimited funds to spend on bags at this second, I'd get the leather one)

SuperGoop pack

Treasure and Bond Knit Top

Free People Sweatshirt

Hourglass Blush (I have this and love it, so I would like the mix of colors to play around with instead of a single palette.)

Zella Pocket Joggers

This is the literal definition of window shopping here because I can't buy any of these things anyway! They'll all be gone by August when the sale opens up to everyone. I could see splurging on that nylon All Saints bag post-sale though. 

Do you shop the N Sale? Do you...follow politics? 

July 1, 2024

Amazon in June.

Believe it or not, I tried to slow down on the Amazon and the online shopping in general, what with the dog surgery and the new roof and whatever. Most of our Amazon goods are ordered by Scott, and usually include tools, vehicle parts, etc. I've mentioned before: it's really the only place we "shop" when we need things. Amazon is basically a guarantee for in-stock items and quick arrival times. 

So this is what I found myself ordering when needs must (as Ma Ingalls would say)...

Replacement pacifiers (again). Some day I will add up the cost of these things and send her a bill. 

Sheet protectors. Another reorder for me but this is the best value + quality I've found. They're actually clear and not that translucent look. 

Avery binders were also cheapest on Amazon. 

Tide laundry powder. I really like the Go Clean Co. method of cleaning floors but it's impossible to find this small pack of Tide anywhere but Amazon. I've checked everywhere over the years. 

Resealable Water Balloons. Sutton played with these at a friend's house and, previously when I'd heard of them from others, I thought what a waste of money and then I saw how popular they were and they are seriously really neat and we couldn't get enough of them. I knew Wells would like them too. These are for Wells, from Sutton, for his birthday. 

Pokemon Card Binder. This isn't exact binder I bought, but it's also a cute one and the other is sold out. Wells inherited a bunch of cards from my parents' house and he needs something to put them in. Since he also has been clamoring for a Pokemon themed birthday (again:), this fits well. 

Gold Undereye Patches. Another reorder! If anything, these do wonders for cooling sinus passages in the morning. I use them several times a week. 

Owala Leakproof Water Bottle. This was my splurge but I'd had it in the cart since February. I really need a bottle I can throw in a bag because hauling around a straw cup is actually really inconvenient. My Stanley doesn't leave the house because it'll leak everywhere. My Simple Modern stays at school during the school year and at home during the summer...taking it places still requires you to hold it upright and that's really hard to do with a bag and a toddler and a bag and probably another bag and/or a stroller. This 24 oz bottle is lighter than a Hydroflask and still has a straw. It's also gorgeous. I recommend it. 

And two books:

The Next Mrs. Parrish and The Housemaid is Watching. I'd recommend both! Come back on Thursday to see what I thought about all the books I read in June. 

Linking up with Prime Purchases! 

June 26, 2024

WUW: June

Eating: Looking for the easiest possible recipes for summer. No cooking preferred. No baking. No effort. I made taco meat the other day and put it on chips with all the taco fixings. 

Any no-cook ideas? 

Loving: I guess the ability to semi-sleep in, take naps, read, piddle away time however I feel like it? I would love the opportunity to go for walks every day but it's too too hot much of the time. 

Up to: Nothing exciting, really. I'm trying to get a jump on my curriculum planning for the year and I've got LETRS Volume II coming up. I wanted to get as much done this summer as possible so I don't have to do it during the school year. It was a huge stressor last year. 

Dreading: The rest of summer. Gah I hate hot weather. No one likes bitter midwest cold, but the relentless heat is ridiculous with no actual payoff. There's no *benefit* to living in southern Missouri. Zip. Zero. No appeal. I mean, at least if we living near the beach and it was always hot...we'd be on the beach? I don't know. We have the hottest hot in the summer and the nasty wet cold in the winter. One or the other, please. 

Working on: So dumb but I combined both kids' bedrooms into one room and then created a playroom for all the toys. This lasted one week and then I realized they were never going to actually sleep again. So I spent an entire day, then, putting everything back. And now, they are sleeping better again. What a waste of energy, right? But I had to see if it would work, for my own peace of mind. The one good thing that came out of it was that I really sorted the toys and threw away a ton (did not ask questions, did not hesitate, two bags into the trash, gone) and I cleaned their rooms and I moved all the toys into their rooms and out of the living room. Small wins. 

Reading: A lot actually! I just finished The Next Mrs. Parrish. I didn't love-love it but it was fine. I couldn't decide who I hated more: annoying Daisy Ann or dumb Daphne. You absolutely have to read The First Shot (the prequel to The Last Mrs. Parrish) to understand this book. Again, Daisy Ann is really annoying and I disliked her a lot. And Daphne was so, so dumb. 

Watching: We are watching Mayor of Kingstown every week (cannot recommend it enough) and we finished Your Honor (also recommend!) on Netflix. I started DCC America's Sweethearts. I used to love the DCC show on CMT. We're watching Under the Bridge on Hulu. I saw an ad for it on a news article online and we started it that night. Advertising works, you know? Also, The Bachelor starts July 8th if you need something mindless. 

Listening to: I've been digging into the theory of The Knowledge Deficit lately and I started this book yesterday. I have so many thoughts. 

Otherwise, I'm listening to either Daniel Tiger or DannyGo in the background. 

Wearing: Just like the same 3 pairs of shorts and 3 shirts every day. 

This weekend: ....I don't know? Also, I'm potty training a 2 year old so our days are ...long. Jett should get his stitches out this week though and is off his meds now so maybe I won't need to watch him so much. The good news is that the mass he had was a grade 1 so unlikely to spread and re-occur. But apparently the margins weren't the clearest they could be so they offered us radiation if we want it (for $8,000 :) but said we can just watch for reoccurrence otherwise. 
^ Honestly, Sutton and Jett have taken up "June" so entirely that I have no idea what to do with July. (though, Sutton takes up whatever you are willing to allow...like water, she fills the void :)))

Next month: Wells' birthday, my parents are visiting, and we have big plans to get a puppy. So, there we go, filling in the voids some more. 

June 19, 2024

Coffee talk (VENTI-ing)

***I still think women who use long hair as a personality trait are hiding some deep insecurity. I'm not saying you should get a bob or cut bangs, but I often wonder about the extremely long-haired crowd...Speaking of: I, for instance, have styled my hair exactly once in the last month. I brush it like every other day. That's how I operate in the summer. 

***People who use Facebook as a journal of what they do day-to-day should get a blog. That's the situation I was in. I had a lot to say way back when so I started a blog. You can post as many boring pictures and inconsequential details as you want. It's kind of great. That's what blogs are for! 

***Speaking of FB, do you ever come across "people you may know" and you're like whoa. that is not what you look like in real life ? I have a theory that those people have no cognitive dissonance and filter themselves (changing actual features) into oblivion and assume no one will notice. Is this just a quiet secret that everyone pretends not to know? Like, that's not your nose. 

***Parents who don't let their kids feel emotion on a small-scale, will end up with kids who can't handle adversity or handle emotions when it counts.

Yes, you should let your kid deal with feeling sad because he forgot something. Because in a few years, he'll be expecting you to bring everything else he's ever forgotten to school because that's the pattern you've set up. And soon, he'll be in college, expecting to be bailed out by teachers or parents because that's what he's become accustomed to having happen. 

***Apostrophes have a place in our language and it's not making things plural. Also, spelling rules: take the word "plan". Because the 'a' is short, you double the final consonant and it becomes "planning", not "planing". I can take the occasional typo. I do it too, especially on here! But I cannot follow you as a content creator if you are constantly making basic grammar/spelling mistakes. I unfollowed 3 people recently because it's noticeable on their content. 

***I think about how odd we are compared to other families here in this town and even in the military. We were married for almost 13 years when Sutton was born. That is unheard of here. Everyone I know here had a baby the first year they were married so someone married 15 years usually has a couple of middle schoolers. I fit into no demographic at all at this point. I mean, it's fine. People just generally have a misunderstanding of my age because I have a 2 year old or they assume we've only been married for 6 or 7 years because of Wells. For example, my coworker is 5 years older than me and has a 19, 21, and 22 year old. Multiple people I work with graduated high school post-2013 and have kids in Wells' class. 

Point is: I wouldn't have changed those childfree years for anything, looking back. I don't know that "get some life experience" is the method I would recommend to young couples as a rule, but it worked for us.  

TL; DR: In the real world, women have babies in their 30s. In small towns and in the army, they become grandmothers in their 40s.

Anyway, I'm home with a dog who is "supposed to be" "on" "bedrest". With another dog who would rather be out and about. And two kids who actually seem to miss being in school every day. This fictional coffee date will have to do. 

June 17, 2024

Summer Weekend #4

I dropped this LED tablet in a drainage ditch of muddy water on the way back to the car. RIP. 

I admit I skipped weekend #3 last week because it was a boring one. We went to t-ball. It was hot. Then it rained a lot. The end. 

Onto this past weekend:

Jett had his surgery on Thursday in Columbia and so he spent the night there. I didn't want to leave Scout at home alone again so I took him to t-ball. In the evening, there is zero shade at the field, so I allowed Scout to have the umbrella since he's got all that fur and all. 

Meanwhile, I brought Jett home in a cone on Friday afternoon. Tried a few variations of how to contain him. He's on "bed rest" for two weeks. Don't worry: This set-up ^^ didn't work at all.

Sutton's daycare teacher invited some of the kids in the class to her house to swim on Saturday. She actually got in the pool and enjoyed it. 

Wells helped Scott on the roof.

Decided that tying him to the table worked better.

ETA: Monday morning, he is like *barely* tolerating this treatment at this point. We're 4 days post-surgery and we're supposed to keep him like this for two weeks? Yeah, okay. Scott said he laid down in the yard and refused to come until Scott dropped the leash. Then he obstinately hopped up onto his usual chair and went to sleep. 
The bedrest component is because he has an 8 inch incision on his side and it will pull on his leg if he moves around too much. The incision itself seems to be healing fine and he's not bothered by it.

Wells found his camera and took pictures of everything all weekend. (This sums everything up right now.)

We went to the pool on Thursday too...I cannot think of a pool snack that is more pool snack-ish than Pringles. 

(We did burgers and ice cream sundaes for Father's Day but I forgot to take a picture. But we also watched the new episode of Mayor of Kingstown and I started rearranging bedroom furniture to create myself a playroom/toy room so that took up most of the day.)

Linking up for Hello Monday

June 15, 2024

Weekly recommendations, 6/14

1. Your Honor. Two seasons on Netflix. Such a good show! It starts slow and but then it all starts coming together and, sure, I see bits of Walter White coming out in Judge Michael Desiato. A perfect binge if you like thrillers. 

2. Wild Things by Stephen James and David Thomas. I have been pushed to the point of reading self-help books. Thomas is my go-to for parenting advice and I've read most of his books at this point. I searched him on Audible in a moment of actual desperation last week and this was "free", included in my membership. 

3. If you listen to The Lazy Genius, she did an episode on snacks last week, which was particularly fitting since it's summer and we are home all. day. long. I was wondering why I am at Walmart twice a week now instead of once a week (I hate it but it's the easiest one-stop shop), and it's because we are literally home all. day. long. No school breakfast or lunch or the hours in the classroom to break up the pattern.

But after listening to the episode, I am confident enough in my own children to know that I have either tried those tips before and they didn't work or they simply will not work. I gleaned nothing from an episode I was really hopeful about, sadly. 

THIS is the tip that works for me in this season of life. 

I buy individually wrapped snacks. 

I have tried a lot of snack options: Annie's...granola bars...fancy yogurts and applesauces...fruit leather...beef sticks...fancy crackers.

These are the only two things my kids will actually eat and the rest goes stale or Scott will eventually eat it:

The individual portions are a lifesaver because there's no bargaining. You get one a day. It's black and white. 
Anyway, that's the tip I'd have for The Lazy Genius community but it'd probably never be suggested because it's clearly the least environmentally-friendly option. 

They also love fruit. They make a fruit salad every day and we spend a lot of money on fruit each week. I suppose it could be worse. 


Grandpa Gus's Tick Repellent. We've used this for two years now and really like it. I just recommended it to a friend this week when I was asked about walking dogs and "what do you do about ticks?". Thought it was worth a mention!