11.21.2017

recent reads

Schindler's List by Thomas Keneally--2 stars: We all know the story of Oskar Schindler, right? He saved Jews during the Holocaust by employing them in his factory. Schindler was a hot mess of a person, but he was brave and took huge risks and sacrifices by protecting his employees and promising to get them through the war unscathed, which he did. If this was such an amazing story, THEN WHY IS THIS BOOK SO ATROCIOUSLY BAD? Because it was bad. It would be 1 star if it weren't for the story itself that managed to transcend the driest writing of all time. I've powered through some intense historical books and kept my focus, but after three sentences of Keneally's writing, I was mentally checked out. He introduces dozens of new characters every paragraph without explaining who they are, the paragraphs and chapters are discombobulated and disorganized, and the whole thing was a tornado of confusion. The only thing that stuck with me were the stories of Amon Goeth--one really bad dude. Almost as bad as the writing. Every once in awhile, there would be a gripping anecdote that was well-written and would suck me in, but everything else was not good. I haven't seen the movie, but I can promise you it's better than the book. Hashtag blasphemy.

For fans of: writing drier that your toast, The Holocaust, outsmarting the Nazis

The House at Riverton by Kate Morton--3 stars: I love Kate Morton and her novels, but this was not my favorite. It was ok. It was a little too sad for my taste, and much of it was written from the point of view of children which is never my thing. Go ahead and persecute me for this, but coming of age books aren't always my favorite. A maid who works in the Riverton country estate watches the kids of the house and dreams of playing with them. As they grow up, scandals ensue and secrets come out. Dun dun dunnnnnn. It's been a month or so since I've read this so I'm trying to remember the details. It felt very Great Gatsby-ish--fancy dresses and wild parties with a hint of tragedy behind every door. There was the Downton Abbey Upstairs/Downstairs element of the drama with the servants and with the family of the house as well. I heard this was her first novel, and I could tell she was still getting her sea legs. The bottom line is, I enjoyed it but didn't love it. It was forgettable, which is a shame because I love that time period.

For fans of: The Great Gatsby, Downton Abbey, The Distant Hours, The Real Housewives of the English Countryside during the 1920s if that were a thing

Victoria by Daisy Goodwin--3.75 stars: If you've seen Victoria on PBS, it was based off this book. And you can tell, because I recognized some of the dialogue word for word. The book starts with the day Victoria became Queen and how she came into her own as a royal. I didn't know much about Queen Victoria until I saw the PBS show (!!!WATCH IT ASAP!!!) and now I'm fascinated. Her mother made Victoria sleep in a cot at the foot of her bed until she was 18 so she could keep an eye on her. She had no freedom, no friends. She purposely went against the advice of her mom and her mother's creepy advisor when she became queen and did things all her own way. It goes into depth about her friendship with Lord Melbourne (flame emoji) and how she met her husband. I didn't always love the writing style and I knew how it all played out thanks to the show, but I'm very glad I read it, because it explained a lot of things about the family and royal life that had me confused when I watched the show. If you have any interest in Queen Victoria or the royals, I absolutely recommend this book.

For fans of: The British Monarchy, Jane Austen, Victoria on PBS (I'm serious--go watch it on Amazon Prime), strong independent women who don't need no man

Last Christmas in Paris: A Novel of WWI by Heather Webb and Hazel Gaynor--5 stars: This is
possibly the best book I have read all year. I LOVE IT SO MUCH I WANT TO SCREAM ABOUT IT. At the start of WWI in England, Evie Elliot starts writing letters to her brother and his best friend. They are convinced the war will be over by Christmas, and they plan to celebrate it in Paris.  Every year the war continues, they make the same promise. She corresponds with them throughout the war as well as her friends. The book is made up solely of letters written to and from Evie during the war as well as later snippets of a WWI veteran at the end of his life. Evie is frustrated there's not much she can do as a woman, so she puts her skills as a writer to use and helps out wherever she can and by writing encouragement to her friends and relatives at war. You guys--I read this in less than 24 hours. I could not put it down. I can't even describe what it was about this book that got me, but it sucked me in in a way books rarely do. I had a hard time coming back to reality once I finished it. It charming, it was heartbreaking, it was funny, it was satisfying. It was just perfect.

For fans of: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, WWI, The Nightingale, lots of good literary references

The Great Christmas Knit-Off by Alexandra Brown--4 stars: I saw this one at the library and grabbed it on a whim because it sounded cozy. This book could not have been cozier if it wrapped me up in a blanket and handed me a hot chocolate while it snowed. Sybil was left at the altar when her fiancé took off with her twin sister. Her life began falling apart in many different ways, so she went on a spur of the moment trip to visit her friend in the English countryside. She wound up becoming friends with the whole tiny village, including a woman who runs a Haberdashery shop. They decide to knit a Christmas sweater together, and before you know it, the whole town is sitting in a cozy little shop sipping tea next to the fire and knitting Christmas sweaters while it snows. It's charming, it's festive, it's adorable. You really can't go wrong.

For fans of: Sophie Kinsella, Gilmore Girls, knitting, Christmas, the warm fuzzies

Church of the Small Things: The Million Little Pieces That Make Up A Life by Melanie Shankle--3 stars: A moment of honesty: I struggle with most books written by Christian women. They're often cheesy, fluffy, trite, and unhelpful. Several of my friends recommended this book to me because they have a longstanding love of Melanie Shankle. I've never read anything by her before, so I don't have a loyalty to her and am therefore probably a little more harsh. I have mixed feelings. On one hand, Melanie is entertaining, clever, and we share the same sense of humor. On the other hand, I didn't relate to much in this book. She's in her 40s, raising a teenager, and obsessed with her dogs and Lululemon leggings. No thank you. She spent a good two thirds of the book talking about growing up in the 70s and 80s. I'm sure people her age loved it, but I'm ready for the day I read a book reminiscing about Lisa Frank, butterfly hair clips, frosted eye shadow, and Tamagotchis. I also thought the book seemed very disconnected and just a weird book in general. She had chapters on the antics of her dogs (I cannot roll my eyes hard enough) and autocorrect disasters (funny, but why?). She would occasionally throw in a tidbit about loving your grandparents before they die or something, but I just didn't quit get the whole point of the book. It was weird. I like her and her take on life, so I do plan to read more of her books. As a side note--before I read her book, I heard her interviewed on a podcast and fell in love with her. She talked about being an introvert and choosing to have an only child, and I really do love her as a person and how she views life. I just didn't love this book.

For fans of: dogs, Lululemon leggings, the 70s and 80s, the trials and triumphs of a soccer mom

The Lake House by Kate Morton--3.5 stars:  Contrary to what I originally thought, this book is NOT what the creepy, time travely movie with Keanu Reeves is based on. It's the 1930s, and the Edevane family is throwing their annual Midsummer party at their, you guessed it, lake house in the English countryside. The next morning they woke up to find 11 month Theo was missing without a trace. A search is put on by the police for months, but nothing is ever found and the case goes cold. 70 years later, Theo's sister Alice is a writer who has been haunted by his disappearance ever since. She's contacted by Sadie Sparrow, a detective who happened upon the abandoned lake house and heard the story. She's determined to figure out what happened to Theo. I'm finally all caught up with my Kate Morton novels, and at this point I have a good handle of her writing style and her methods, so I actually guessed one or two of her crazy plot twists which surprised me. I really did enjoy this book, and I like that the ending was a little happier than her usual endings. I struggled with this book only because it was about a missing child, and now that I'm a mom that stuff upsets me more than I would care to admit.

For fans of: The Forgotten Garden, I Capture the Castle, Lifetime movies

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald--3 stars: If Rory Gilmore read chick-lit, it would be this. I didn't even realize it was chick-lit until I got into it. Sara lives in Sweden and has a pen pal named Amy who lives in Broken Wheel, a tiny town in rural Iowa. Sara travels to Broken Wheel to stay with Amy for 2 months, but when she arrives she finds out Amy has just died. Sara and Amy had a friendship based on their love of books, so to honor Amy, Sara opens a bookstore using Amy's stash of books and tries to persuade the residents of Broken Wheel to take up reading. This book was charming, sweet, and just weird. There were a few things in this book I did not appreciate reading about. I won't elaborate about it here, but if you want to know I'll tell you. It felt like reading about Stars Hollow, if Stars Hollow was a dying town in the Midwest. The characters were eccentric and rough around the edges, the town sounded awful, but Sara shoved her love of books down everyone's throat. I respect that. The ending was one of the most ridiculous I've read in awhile, but this is chick lit. Why do people complain about contrived, predicable, cheesy stories and endings when they're picking up chick lit? We all know that's how it's going to be, and we all love the happy endings whether we admit it or not. But I digress. This is the perfect book for a Sunday afternoon when you're exhausted because you were up all night listening to your husband and child take turns one upping each others coughing fits. Which happened to be the exact sort of day I raced through the last 250 pages.

For fans of: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, reading about reading, Rory Gilmore, closing the book once a chapter to cringe 


What are you reading? What should I read next?

11.15.2017

a stomach bug, a cold, and the flu all walk into a bar

And by bar, I mean our house.

This week has been hilariously insane.

Let's recap.

Over the weekend, I gave my husband food poisoning. We think. It's also possible it was a stomach bug, but Gracie and I were fine, so who really knows. I'd like to go with stomach bug, because it makes me feel better about myself.

On Monday, Gracie woke up from her nap with a cold. She had seemed a little under the weather for a few days so I wasn't surprised. I've been praying myself silly it won't turn into croup again, because every now and then there's a suspicious cough or wheeze, and I want to scream TOO SOON. WE JUST DID THIS.

Monday night, I had that tell-tale sore throat and sudden wooziness, and I figured the cold was coming for me too. This was especially a bummer because I was having a good friend and her son over for a playdate Tuesday morning. This was a playdate I was actually looking forward to, one we've been rescheduling for six months.

Well.

Tuesday morning, I woke up with the full-blown flu. This is self-diagnosed, but when you have the flu, you instinctively know it's the flu. A cold will make you feel miserable, but you can still function on a very basic level even on your worst day. Not so with the flu. Every atom of my body was in pain.  I felt like I had been hit by a freight train. The last time I had the flu was when I was pregnant, and it knocked me out for 2 full weeks. I remember thinking that even my eyelids were sore. Tuesday morning I woke up wondering why my earlobes were aching. It hurt to even wear clothes; walking to the kitchen to get Gracie her 17th snack of the morning almost killed me. There were glass shards in my throat, the room was spinning, I was both freezing and blazing hot at the same time, and I felt like I could sleep for months. It was a new level of misery.

It gets better. James had to make a spontaneous trip on Tuesday to visit a work client. BUT OF COURSE. Thankfully, all the Christmas Mickey movies on Netflix and a bag of popcorn did most of the parenting for me that morning. Uncharacteristically, I had to do almost zero discipline (don't worry, we've more than made up for that so far today), and she was content to lay on the couch with me with her stack of board books. It actually turned out to be a halfway decent day, as miserable as I felt. AND, James got home early from his trip.

The funny thing is, I had been texting my friends on Monday that I NEVER get the flu shot and never get the flu. In the last ten years, I've gotten the flu twice, and both times I had gotten the flu shot. A different friend reminded me on Tuesday that I told her the same thing last week. If this isn't a lesson in pride going before a fall, then I don't know what is. Never again will you hear me talk about the flu or the flu shot.

Thankfully, I woke up today feeling much better. Other than a lingering sore throat and the sniffles, I'm back on my feet and feeling lightyears better. I've heard of 24 hour stomach bugs, but apparently the 24 hour flu must be a thing because I think I had it.

I felt so much better I decided I would make dinner. And by make dinner, I let the crockpot cook the chicken for me. As soon as I threw the chicken in, I noticed the rancid smell.

Not only is this a bad week for our health, but it's a bad week for my cooking, too. At least there won't be another round of possible food poisoning, because I threw it out as fast as humanly possible.

James, bless his heart, worked from home today so I could continue to rest.

Let me rephrase that. So I could "rest."

No one got any rest.

He was inundated with conference calls and had to give a Skype presentation to a group of important people. Does anyone else remember this hilarious video of the kids ruining their dad's Skype call, and then the mom running in trying to quickly grab them? It made me laugh so hard I watched it over and over when it first happened; it's not so funny when it's your life.

Not that it was my life, but we were close. James was going through his presentation with his coworkers first when Gracie decided to throw a very loud fit. I was trying to sneak to the bathroom, but for some reason this mortally offended her and she was screaming "NO MOMMY GO POTTY!" right outside the door of the room James was in. The actual presentation was during nap time, but she didn't nap so we had to mute the monitor. Even though it's raining and it's November, the sprinklers outside suddenly came to life right as he was giving his portion of the presentation. They don't even use the sprinklers in the summer, so why they were hissing like a dragon right outside the window (it was louder than you might think), I don't know. All I know is that whenever he works from home, things tend to fall apart. I have a whole new respect for work from home parents.

I am very thankful for modern medicine, James' job that lets him work from home, that we're dealing with minor illness, that God designed our bodies to heal themselves, and that next week is Thanksgiving. Nothing bad is actually happening and we're all well aware of that. But man, some weeks you just have to laugh at the craziness of life.

And at least---I told myself a minute ago---it's the end of the week. And then I remembered.

It's only Wednesday.

*breaks into a hysterical, manic laughter to keep from panicking*

11.12.2017

a list of things that happened this weekend

Let it be known I'm writing this while watching a Hallmark Christmas movie. Tis the season. I can love Thanksgiving AND Christmas. Just like I can be really into my lunch but also excited for dinner.


+ On Friday night, I made a loaf of homemade bread and cheesy corn chowder. I was looking forward to this meal all week because it was supposed to be freezing cold and I love soup and bread when it's cold. It had been a long day, and I wasn't thinking and put the bacon in RAW. We picked every last piece out and boiled the soup because it was too much effort and food to throw out. Gracie and I ate it, loved it (well, I did), and were fine. James, on the other hand, was not. I think I gave my husband food poisoning.

+ I woke up Saturday morning, and the first thing I did was swipe my hair out of my face. Somehow I scratched my cheek so deeply it was bleeding. I've been walking around all weekend with a giant gash covering my entire left face cheek. And the swollen, bruised bump on my nose that Gracie gave me when she accidentally slammed the rim of a measuring cup on the bridge of my nose is still healing, so I look like I've had a rough week.

+ I had some errands to run Saturday morning. I started listening to the Dirty John podcast that Sarah recommended, and it's the best recommendation I've gotten in awhile. I'm hooked.  I'm in a bit of a music rut, so I was looking for a good podcast and I was literally driving on the edge of my seat waiting to hear what happened next. It was actually a great way to spend a Saturday morning--I didn't even mind the traffic.

+ I finally got to the point that I was completely out of makeup and needed more. I enjoy makeup, but I hate spending money on it, I rarely wear it these days, and honestly I have no idea what to pick out. An Ulta opened up near us recently, so I went for the first time. The second I walked in, the angels started singing. I'm not that much of a makeup person, but I felt tingly and excited and like I finally understood why people are always writing those Ulta/Sephora recommendation posts. I got so overwhelmed I walked out with things I could've gotten at any drugstore, but my entire Christmas list is a string of Ulta links. And books. Always books. But you guys---I might be a makeup person now. It's so fun. Now if someone will just teach me the right shade of lipstick to wear. I had a prepaid credit card/gift card we'd been holding onto, and I used it and only spent $5 of my own money. Then I walked down to Carter's to get Gracie some tights. They were buy one/get one and I had rewards points, so I spent $4 total on two pairs of tights. I felt like I could conquer the world.

+ I had to run to Target next, and their dollar section is amazing for kid stocking stuffers even though that's not what I went for. I grabbed a bunch of things Gracie will LOVE and spent $5 total. It was one of those very rare days where the stars aligned and I hit every deal possible. Those stocking stuffers whet my appetite, and before I knew what happened I had fallen down the Christmas shopping hole. I rack up Swagbucks points and Ibotta rewards all year and cash them out in Amazon giftcards around Christmas. I did most of my Christmas shopping on Amazon yesterday afternoon and paid a fraction of the actual cost. I have the bulk of my Christmas shopping done and it's not even Thanksgiving! My plan is to have it finished and as much wrapped as possible before Thanksgiving. I don't know what's gotten into me this year.

+ I dropped some books off at the library, and the sign said it's closing in just over a week for construction and remodeling. They aren't opening the temporary location until January. You win some, you lose some.

+ Gracie helped me feed the cat the other day, and it’s officially become her new chore. I had nothing to do with it. Every morning she goes in the pantry, scoops out cat food in a cup, and dumps it in the food bowl. All on her own! She gets so excited to give Noel her “cereal.” This parenting thing might pay off after all. If only she was old enough to introduce her to the litter box.

+ Saturday night, Gracie helped me decorate our little tabletop Christmas tree. She is WILD about Christmas this year and it's so fun. "Mommy, I WUV Chri-mist!" It somehow led to me pulling out Christmas candles and putting a few pumpkins away. I've got a weird mesh of fall and Christmas decorations up right now and I'm not bothered.

+ All within a few hours the whisk, the zester, and our brand new coffee table broke.

+ Gracie is going through a nasty bout of separation anxiety and needs to be physically attached to me 24/7. It's sweet but exhausting. She hates going to the nursery now except for the fact that she knows there's a Mickey Mouse toy she can play with. I had to sit in there with her so she wouldn't scream. James took her last week, so I figured I would do it this week. I was more than a little annoyed with the situation, but I wound up spending the service talking and making a new friend. I felt a little guilty, but I didn't hate it.

+ I was scared to cook again, especially since I was dumb enough to meal plan TWO soups with bacon in them in one week (actually--is that dumb??). I tried this recipe for a roasted butternut squash, red pepper, and bacon soup. I made extra sure to cook the bacon and cook it well. I don't know what the deal was, but the texture was AWFUL. It was gritty and weird no matter how much I used the immersion blender. The flavor, however, was RIDICULOUS. So good. Make it now. Ignore the texture and make it now and then try not to gulp it down.


Moral of the story: life is weird, and don't trust me to cook for you right now.


11.09.2017

introvert rambles


I know the introvert/extrovert conversation has gotten old. People have moved on to the enneagram thing which makes no sense to me and I have zero desire to explore it. But I'm going to talk about being an introvert, because this is my blog and it's a huge part of how I function. I've said it over and over, but I am as introverted as they come. Most people are probably somewhere in the middle of the spectrum or lean toward one side, but I'm the extreme. Myers-Briggs has given me a score of 100% introvert every time I've taken the test. Clearly, I am very special and should be treated as such. Introversion does not equal shyness, but I happen to be introverted AND painfully shy, which is basically a death sentence to a social life. I've been working hard to overcome both, and my social life is less terminally ill and more convalescing on life support. We're getting there.

For me, socializing is a muscle that has to be strengthened over time and flexed consistently. When I was working full time, I was around people all day and it was fine. It didn't drain me unless I did any other social activity after work. Now that I'm a stay at home mom, any social activity feels exactly like running a 5k when you haven't gotten off the couch in months. That might be a bad example because I actually do know people who can do nothing for months and then bust out a 5k. Those people are probably extroverts too.

With that said, Wednesday was a social day and I am reaping the consequences. It was a great day, one that made me very thankful for my life, but I slept harder that night than I have in ages. And as I typed that, I think I just discovered the cure to my insomnia. I walked into Bible Study with guns blazing. I was more talkative and involved than usual, telling stories, waving my arms around, making jokes and laughing. And, you know, studying the Bible. By the end of the two hours, I was fading. If I had been a flower, I would've been wilted on the ground after a hot summer day with no rain. One of the extroverts made a comment about how refreshed and reenergized she felt after our time together. I would've laughed if I had the energy. I think she must've sucked it right out of me like a vampire.

On Wednesdays, I usually can't do much more than make dinner because I'm so exhausted from a morning of socializing. However, James invited his friend and coworker over for dinner, so I spent the afternoon cleaning and whipping up a big meal full of comfort foods. I was totally happy to do this, just tired. I made a pan of brownies, and honestly that's what gave me the will to push through the social exhaustion.

His friend came over and we had a great time eating and talking and laughing. He left after a couple hours, I put Gracie to bed, and then I crashed harder than I have ever crashed in my life. My head was buzzing. Literally buzzing. I had to tell James multiple times that we couldn't have a conversation because I was so talked out. I couldn't even form a sentence. Then I got a notification from Amazon that the books I ordered for Gracie were being returned to them unless I took immediate action because the mailman couldn't access our front door. According to the message, we live in a gated community and had not told that mailman where to drop off the package. Lololololol. We are neither celebrities, nor do we live in a retirement community in Boca. Any person can walk to our mailbox or front door. We have an equal opportunity front door policy.

I called Amazon to deal with the issue. Yes, I made a phone call after a double header social event. The customer service rep read the items in the order. I only ordered two Little Golden Christmas Books--the classic ones from the 1960s because they are adorable and I never got around to buying them for Gracie last year. He said "Wow...you guys must really like Christmas or something..." with that you weirdo tone in his voice. Yes, I am the Queen of Christmas because I ordered two Christmas books weeks before Christmas. FORGIVE ME, SCROOGE.

He put me on hold to contact USPS and see what the problem was. Ten minutes later he told me he had to conference me in with the USPS customer service rep. I'm not sure what your idea of a good time on a Wednesday night is, but mine is being on a conference call with a member of the post office. BUT NOT. He went silent for minutes at a time, occasionally hitting a key on his keyboard, when he yelled "OK THANKS, BYE." I said "bye?" and he immediately barked at me that his boss was leaving and he couldn't not say goodbye, you know? That would be rude. I had the phone on speaker and James and I were laughing so hard, but at least we had the foresight to use the mute button when we couldn't keep silent. My first job out of college was working in a call center. It was the most hellish experience of my life--up there with morning sickness. I have all the compassion in the world for people with that job and I try to be overly nice and gracious, but I have no understanding when they are rude.

We eventually resolved the issue and I got off the phone. I think my brain was spasming at that point from overuse. I tried to make a grocery list and was almost in tears because I was going over budget with hardly anything on the list and NOTHING MADE SENSE. James told me to go take a hot shower and calm down. My brain physically hurt from talking and engaging all day. My mouth hurt from talking and laughing. It felt as though I had given blood 46 times and was left to die a slow, painful death. I tried to lay in bed and read, but just reading another person's words felt too similar to socializing, so I turned the light off and slept the sleep of the dead for almost 9 hours.

I got a text from one of my best friends this morning about meeting up tonight. I love her and I want to see her, but she knows how I am and I told her I needed to take a rain check. I have an introvert hangover to the point that I would've stayed in bed all day if I didn't have a child to keep alive. Keep your friends close, but not so close that they expect you to go out on weeknights.

11.06.2017

from the week(end), vol. 4






1. I've gotten a bit eye-rolly over the past year whenever people went on and on about Stranger Things. Well, now I get it. It's like someone forcing you to try on a shirt that looks awful on the hanger but amazing when you wear it. I never would've chosen to watch this show all on my own, but now I'm hooked. James and I finished season 2 last night, and I am THISCLOSE to hosting a dinner party of everyone in my life who has watched it so we can discuss it in gruesome detail. Are you Team Steve or Team Jonathan? Am I the only one that keeps thinking of Uncle Jesse whenever I look at Steve? Is anyone else deathly terrified of Billy? I cowered behind a pillow every time he came on screen. He played that part so well I'd be scared out of my mind to run into him in real life. I saw a Christmas commercial the other day, and you could see snowflakes falling outside. I immediately thought it was a Stranger Things commercial and the snowflakes were those weird orb things in the upside down. Maybe it's a good thing it will be awhile until season 3...

2. This is the last thing I'll say about Stranger Things. I promise. We watched a couple episodes Friday night and then went upstairs to go to bed. We were lying in bed, about to fall asleep, overanalyzing the show and wondering what was going to happen when we heard music. It got louder and louder and I'm not even kidding, we were terrified. I opened the bathroom door to find Gracie's training potty singing the toilet paper song. It was pitch black except for the glowing smiley face on it. IT WAS THE CREEPIEST EXPERIENCE OF MY LIFE. It was just sitting in the middle of the floor with nothing touching it. There's no reason it should've started singing, and it hasn't done it before or since. Needless to say, we went to bed a little unnerved.

3. I had terrible insomnia last week, but I slept somewhere around 10 or 11 hours Friday night. It was glorious in every way. I didn't even get out of bed until 10am. James took Gracie with him to run errands, so I had an hour to myself to read my Bible, drink some coffee, and eat breakfast. After they got back, I bundled up and went for a long walk and listened to Christmas music. It was the most restorative morning I've ever had.

4. We made our presence known at church yesterday. Gracie has been amazing with the nursery at church for quite awhile now, but something happened yesterday and she was just not having it. She was screaming bloody murder and asking to go home over and over. It was frustrating and we couldn't take her anywhere without her disrupting the kids or the service. James finally took her out to the car so I could sit in the service for awhile. I sneezed out of the blue, which startled me and made me somehow hit the record button on my phone. I somehow managed to record my sneeze and text it to James without my knowledge. My phone made a loud dinging sound when the recording ended, which led to the pastor's son glaring at me which gave me the inappropriate giggles, a condition I'm very prone to in the middle of church. My shoe screeched on the laminate floor a few seconds later, which made everyone turn around again which made me laugh even harder. I sat in the back row, by myself, laughing until I was nearly crying. I looked like a mental case. We meet in an elementary school, and as we were leaving I noticed someone changed the Book Drive sign to say Boob Drive. James and I laughed about it all day because we're mature. It's just a good thing I didn't see it in the middle of church.

5. James surprised Gracie with this little bunny rabbit doll house. It is ADORABLE. Gracie is in love with it and has been playing with it nonstop. Yesterday she was running around in her twirly church dress, playing with her dollhouse, and I just wanted to cry. In a good way. She's so headstrong and difficult at times, but there is nothing sweeter than having a little girl running around. It just makes me so happy. These are the moments I used to dream about.

6. I have been dying to try Chipotle's queso even though I kept hearing it's not great. Last week, I even dreamed I went to Chipotle to get a burrito bowl with queso. Since I got queso, they said I wasn't allowed to have guacamole, but I had to get broccoli instead to balance out the liquid cheese. I was furious. James surprised me and drove to Chipotle after church yesterday. The queso was weird--it's true--but I hadn't had a burrito bowl in ages and I was in heaven. Gracie looked at it and asked me if I was eating broccoli. She never heard me tell James that dream. I swear, our lives are turning into Stranger Things.