A winner and a loser: Book Reviews


First, the winner.

On the way to the beach I finished a book my sister-in-law had recommended, Orphan Train. It was a page turner, so well written, and very interesting. I highly recommend it.

I'm terrible at paraphrasing so here's a wonderful summary from Amazon:

     Orphan Train is a gripping story of friendship and second chances from Christina Baker Kline, author of Bird in Hand and The Way Life Should Be.

Penobscot Indian Molly Ayer is close to “aging out” out of the foster care system. A community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping Molly out of juvie and worse...

As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly learns that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance.

Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life – answers that will ultimately free them both.

Rich in detail and epic in scope, Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline is a powerful novel of upheaval and resilience, of unexpected friendship, and of the secrets we carry that keep us from finding out who we are.

And the loser, a book from a favorite author that I did not enjoy.

I am a fan of Emily Giffin's books and was eagerly awaiting The One and Only. I did not enjoy reading this though, so bummed! I felt the writing was weak, the character development was weak, and I just couldn't relate to or empathize with any of the characters. Disappointing.

Currently reading...

This book has been on my 'to read' list for a while and I've been putting it off because it's about Alzheimer's disease and hits a personal note (my grandfather was diagnosed with both Alzheimer's and Parkinson's). But I feel compelled to read it--I'll let you know what I think;)

Do share any summer 'must reads'!

Happy National Running Day...and I'm running Chicago!


Since I began this running thing, it has been my dream to run one of the Big 5 marathons. The original 5 world marathon majors are Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago, and New York.  Chicago has always been my best shot because though I'm not fast enough to get in on time (yet!), it was originally a first come, first served kind of sign up.

Last year I entered the Chicago marathon, got in, and started training in July. I also broke my foot in July, which is not good when you're trying to run a marathon. I did, however, feel like one tough mother that I ran until my foot broke. But I was still really sad that I couldn't run the race.

This year, I tried to get into the New York Marathon via the lottery. I wasn't chosen for the second year in a row. I cried.

And of course, when I went online to sign up for the Chicago Marathon, again, it had changed to a lottery entry this year, which further narrowed my chances of getting in. I cried. And I entered.

But then I cheered! Because I got in!! Hooray!!

And so it begins, my season of training. I'll try and chronicle that training here, and if you have tips to share, I'm all ears:) Basically I'm just going to try and not break my feet.

And I'm super excited! Happy National Running Day!

Seacrest 2014 memories


We just returned from my favorite week of the year, our week in the Florida Gulf relaxing and making family memories. I dream about it all year long. Spending a week with my 3 boys and relaxing like beach bums, it doesn't get any better. Here are some photos from our trip.

I'm kind of laughing that I still dress them alike! I don't even give it a thought anymore until I see pictures.. going to keep it going until they say no!

We have a little beach routine that works for us...on the beach by 9, bag of sandwiches/drinks/fruit packed, we eat lunch and snacks on the beach, ride waves and play, then head in about 2 or 3. Sometimes we'll sneak in some pool time too.  Then we get everyone showered and shined up, and we're at dinner by 5.  No waiting for tables and getting everyone cranky!

We dined at our favorites and tried some new (to us) restaurants. George's in Alys Beach is the place we look forward to all year. It's a wonderful combination of relaxed and fancy and the menu is always delicious. And if you're a white wine person like me, you'll love that Sancerre always makes the list. We stayed in Seacrest this year, which is nestled right between Rosemary and Alys, and we could walk to both places. Perfect location!

The kids' first fondue experience was at La Crema Tapas and Chocolate in Rosemary Beach. It was our first time eating there and we loved it. It's hard to beat Rosemary. And fondue;) Fridays are now dubbed our fondue night.. Notice the fruit is still sitting on the plate and the marshmallows and pound cake were the winners.

Cowgirl Kitchen deserves a mention too, delicious pizza. And Sugar Shak! Any and every kind of candy you can dream up, they have it. All the faves from childhood--it's awesome, a trip down memory lane.

I have to share a funny story from one of our nights in Rosemary. There's a fountain in a common area that the kids were asking me for coins to throw in.  I sadly did not have any coins in my purse so they asked for dollars. Mr. C said, "What do you think this is, Rosemary Beach?!!" Ha!

We also hit up Great Southern and Heavenly in Seaside

but spent most of our time playing games on the beach and riding the waves at Seacrest.

The boys really surprise me on the beach. Usually my 5 year old is the daredevil and my 7 year old is the cautious one but they switch personalities when it comes to playing in the water.

And here's the picture I take each year as kind of a measure of the boys' growth...this was our first family vacation in 2010, when the boys were 3 and 1.

and oh my word this is now, ages 7 and 5..

Melts my heart. So thankful to see them grow.

Mostly it's the simple moments that are the most special, like Daddy saying prayers every night.

aaaand I'll just be here counting the days until we can go back:)