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:)



Life here is good. We've had some challenges in this new year but that's not to complain, just to be real and not pretend we're perfect (wink).

First things first, my Daddy had a birthday! He's a leap year baby, born February 29th. And he's super special;)

The boys are growing like weeds. Who's tired of hearing me say that? Christian lost his first tooth Wednesday night and he was beaming with pride. I love him so much and can't believe how tall he is. I tied a string around his tooth like my Nana used to do--is that what people still do? I realized I am uninformed on current tooth pulling practices. Do share if you have a tip! I'm stuck in 1982. C and I were going back and forth screaming, "Ew! Ew!" It was funny and a sweet memory with this guy.

Little brother doesn't look so little anymore.

These are such fun ages. I'm just so thankful and my heart is so full.

Waterlogue app
What's new on the running front? I'm training for my sixth half marathon in April (veeeeeeerry excited) and #whowouldvethoughtIwouldstickwiththisrunningthing?! The half was supposed to be a full marathon but my knee has been nagging me (#oldlady) and I fell behind early in training. I know better than to push it (enter previous stress fracture) so I've dropped back to the half. The marathon still eludes me! But I'm super excited for this half, I love running the streets of downtown Nashville, it's exhilarating. I am however ready to train in 50 degrees instead of 20:) And it is still my goal to complete a marathon this year. And also my first triathlon....

I switched shoes AGAIN...to Saucony Guide 7's....

and I like them a lot.  I really like them. I'm not sure if it's love yet. Weirdly, I still love Mizuno, even though my doctor thinks they are ill suited for my feet.  I heed his advice and stick with a wide toe box (which is SO strange to me since I have very narrow feet) but I still swoon over Mizunos and admired the new styles while purchasing my Saucony's. Maybe Saucony is the one, we'll see. Or maybe I run like a hyena and need to hire a coach. Hubs isn't going to go for that so let's hope the shoes are winners!

Hm....what else....

My first StitchFix is coming this week..(squeal!) I can't wait. My friend has had such good luck with it and get's the greatest stuff so I'm excited to see what I get.  If you want to sign up here's my referral link!

Stitch Fix

Healthy addictions...

House of Cards; already finished with season 2, please tell me there's a 3.


Really enjoying the book but it's taking me forever because of our HOC addiction.

Healthier banana bread (recipe here, I use Greek yogurt and add 2 handfuls chocolate chips)

And that's about it for life lately:)  We're still covered in snow but hoping the sun will come back soon.

Cute summer espadrilles


I stopped in Target today for almond butter and dishwasher tabs and left with these too! I don't always find Merona shoes comfortable but these were (yay!). They come in black, red, and black/white stripes too. I had to go 1/2 size down fyi:) Cute, cheap, comfy, and worth a look!

Fashion Friday: Cold weather running favorites


It has been positively freezing here in Tennessee and since I signed up for a marathon in April, I have to get my runs in. No excuses:) My family was so sweet to spoil me with some Lululemon gift cards and I picked up some fun things that are worth sharing!

Base Runner 1/2 zip

I layer this with a cool racerback and it is the perfect weight for days that are in the 30s. Even when it's freezing, I hate to overdress and overheat.  This is a great combo.

I wasn't going to get this even though I loved it (it's a similar weight to the 1/2 zip) but when Mr. C and I wandered into Lulu on a wild and crazy date night I couldn't resist grabbing it. I'm glad I did, it's wonderfully comfy. And visible! And cute. Look at the little gathers in the back. Perfect fit!

I also (finally) got a pair of Wunder Unders (Full on luon version) and I can see what the fuss is about. They are very soft, very comfy, and surprisingly warm. I sized up in these because I wanted them to be comfy enough for lounge as well but I wish I had gotten my normal size. Just an fyi.

Last but not least, the best running gloves I've ever come across; Saucony Ulti-Mitts.

They are pricey for running gloves and I wasn't originally going to invest (so I talked my mom into it, ha!) but they truly are worth it. My 2 cheaper pairs were worthless. These are so warm but still lightweight and have 5 finger gloves underneath the mitt.

And on my wishlist...the Brooks Ravenna 5. Must run in bright shoes!

First family photobook


I've been wanting to make a photo book for so long.

The inspiration for the style of this book came from a wonderful blog called Simple As That. Love.love.love the idea of a family yearbook.

I also loved Rebecca's idea to make a collage at the end of every month and then at the end of the year your photo book is essentially done, it just needs to be put together and beautified. I, of course, did things the hard way, did not make the collages monthly, and fell way behind. But when Christmas time came I was determined to get it done since I also wanted to give them to grandmothers as gifts. I sat in front of the computer from 11 one morning until 11 one night (only breaking for carpool) and got it done! And I'm thrilled with it. I want to go back and make one for each of the years I've missed so that my bookshelf is full of these lovely memories. It will take some time but I'll get it done. And again, kudos to Rebecca since I borrowed *lots* of her ideas (and quotes)!

I used Mixbook although I know there are other great sources like Blurb.  Mixbook won because they had the size I wanted and offered a 40% off coupon (I noticed they have one this month too so maybe they do that often). I ordered the 12 x 12 hardcover and added some pages for a total of 36.  I love how it turned out and will be using them again!

I also loved that Mixbook offered lots of layout/background/text options. And I LOVE that making this book forced me to choose my favorite photos, put them in one place, and print them.  So worth it! New Year's Resolution; print more photos!

I ended the book on a silly note. What a fun project this was!