Wednesday, December 31, 2014

December in Review

What a month December was. Instead of feeling like it flew by, November feels like it was a world away. It's a little hard to believe how much has changed in a month. But here's a look back at the moments, big and small, from this December.

In December...
After missing out on all the pumpkin items so excited to be able to have the holiday flavors!!
...After missing out on all the pumpkin flavored seasonal goodies due to my gestational diabetes, I was so excited that I could at least enjoy a few of the holiday flavored ones, like this candy cane chocolate bar.
photo 3 (3)
...With more holiday deliciousness we had latkahs with cinnamon applesauce for Hanukkah.
Gingerbread Waffles
...Also, the boy made this Smitten Kitchen recipe for gingerbread waffles.
8th Night
...We celebrated both Hanukkah and Christmas.
photo 3 (1)
...But I guess most important of them all, we brought our daughter into the world.

...I posted reviews of 4 books and no movies. (I'm guessing it's going to be a while before any movie reviews make it back here.)
Shopaholic to the Stars by Sophie Kinsella
The Birth House by Ami McKay
Linger by Maggie Stiefvater
The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvery Karp, M.D.
As for a favorite, it would probably be Shopaholic to the Stars.

...Two years ago, in 2012, I posted the details of my wedding day attire.
What were some of your highlights from this past December?

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

It's Christmastime Again

Last week I recapped our Hanukkah, so it only makes sense that I'm recapping Christmas this week, right? We actually had a fairly low-key Christmas Eve watching Love Actually. And by that I mean I fell asleep about 15 minutes into the movie and the boy watched Love Actually... but practically the same thing.
Our Christmas Eve tradition... Watching #LoveActually
Christmas morning we woke up to exchange a few presents. The boy bought my the diaper bag I wanted plus a new ipod, since my current one from college seems to be too old to work in my car. While Elley had a ton of Hanukkah presents, she did still wind up with a copy of A Cajun Night Before Christmas as well as a few hair bows in her stockings. We even managed to convince the boy to take a family photo next to the tree. (I'm wearing my new pajamas from Victoria's Secret I received as a Hanukkah present from my BBF here!)
Merry Christmas
From there we got dressed and ready before heading off to my SIL's house for more present opening.
So Excited
And boy were there presents,
Opening Presents
and presents,
Sleepy Present
and more presents to open.
Xmas Lunch
We had dinner then which included gumbo, stuffing, sweet potatoes, and salad. Plus peppermint creme brulee for dessert (more on this to come!).
Peppermint Creme Brulee
As for those presents, well we barely managed to bring them all home. Good thing my new car has a huge truck, especially since the backseat was full of presents... presents and a baby, as well.
All Packed Up
Since I'm sure you're curious as to what exactly filled our car here's a look at just Baby Elley's gifts.
Baby Elley's Presents
There's an exersaucer, a walker (although good luck finding it in this photo), a few toys, some books, a ton of clothes, and a few other random things. And since I'm not quite ready to concede that these holidays are no longer about me, here's a look at what I was lucky enough to receive over both Hanukkah and Christmas.
My Presents
Definitely several items from my wish list including my Le Cruset baker, kitchen towels, and my West Elm Hanukkah plates. Plus there were my scratch-offs which while not a huge year was still $7.
All in all, a very merry 1st Christmas for Elley, as well as the rest of us, and a great way to bring an end to 2014.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Top 10 Books of 2014

Back in July I posted my Top 10 Books of the Year So Far since I hated the idea of of not having time at the end of the year to write out a favorites post. But thankfully I have been able to find the time, especially since it quite interesting to see how the posts differ. There are a lot more books on this list from the second half of the year than the first, which makes me wonder if it's because they're fresher in my mind or because I just happened to read better books the second half. There are also books that I'm listing ahead of others this go round, which I think is due in part to how well they stayed with me, but also by how relevant they are to what's happening in my life right now. But without anymore rambling, these are my favorite books from 2014.

To see my favorite books from years' past go here:

1. Somewhere in France by Jennifer Robson
Technically I read this book in 2013, but after I had already posted my top 10 list of the year, and it would be a crime to not have it on any top 10 of the year list. I absolutely adored this book and I'm happy to say I've lead a number of other people to it this year. It's one I've been dying to reread, which I'm hopefully able to do before the author's follow-up comes out next month.

2. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
I've been meaning to read this one for years, and now can't believe I was able to wait so long. This book is beautiful and magical. Reading it is a bit like being transported into another world. It's interesting because while part of my would like to reread it, I'm afraid in doing so it may loose a bit of its magic now that I know what to expect.

3. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
No surprise that this one it here. I have a feeling every time I read something from Stephanie Perkins it's going to make my top 10 list. I've loved all her books so far, and can't wait to see what she comes up with next. Especially knowing her next book seems to be with a completely new set of characters and I think a horror story which is a big change of pace.

4. City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare
I have such a love/hate relationship with Cassandra Clare. Whenever I'm not reading her books I'm not a huge fan, but still... her books manage to capture your attention. I do think this was such a fitting end to the Mortal Instruments series. While I think I'd be quite satisfied if this were the last shadowhunter book, I know I won't be able to stay away from anything else she writes.

5. Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way by Susan McCutcheon
I read several books on natural childbirth, and while this one my not have been the most enjoyable to read, it's the one I found to be the most helpful. This is book I credit the most to have the childbirth experience I wanted. While I know a lot of it is due to myself what I wanted to accomplish, I'm not sure how I would have been able to get there without some of the advice I found in its pages.

6. Three Souls by Janie Chang
There's just something about this book. I think part of it is due to the fact it takes place in an area and time period that's new to me. But I think a lot of it is also due to the way the story itself is told, from a soul looking back on her life seeing the mistakes she's made. It's a really interesting way of telling a story and I can't wait to see what comes next from this author.

7. This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash
Another book where I can't quite articulate why I loved it so much. But there's just something darkly beautiful about the books Wiley Cash writes, and the more I read from him the more he's becoming one of my auto-buy authors.

8. A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller
I love historical fiction and I love YA books, and yet there aren't many historical YA books I seem to enjoy or even be able to find. Which is a lot of the reason I enjoyed this one so much. While it does tell a slightly familiar tale, I still found myself wrapped up within it's pages. Once again this is an author I can't wait to see more from.

9. Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple
I feel like I'm a little late to be discovering this one, but at least I'm reading it before the movie comes out. It's definitely a book unlike anything out there, both in the plot and the way the story is told.

10. The Seduction of the Crimson Rose by Lauren Willig (Review to Come)
These books a definitely a bit of a guilty pleasure. Historical fiction meets chick lit, there's not a lot of ways this could go wrong. Plus there's still a ton of books left in this series, so I know I'll be enjoying myself for quite a while longer.

What books would make up your top 10 reads of 2014? And have you read any of the books on my list?

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Mailbox Monday (102)

There's been some exciting arrivals in our home lately. Yes, I've received a ton of books to share with Mailbox Monday, but as a close second to that, we welcomed our daughter into the world two weeks ago! For now though, let's talk about the books.
From Goodreads
Pigs Can't Swim by Helen Peppe
A memoir about growing up the youngest of 9 children on a farm in Maine.

When the Doves Disappeared by Sofi Oksanen
A book originally published in Finland about Estonia during World War II.

Southern Gardner's Handbook by Troy B. Marden
We have a huge landscaped backyard, except it's all thanks to our home's prior owners. I basically have no idea what I'm supposed to do to take care of it, but hopefully I can pick up a tip or two from this.

You Can't Make This Up by Al Michaels
Another memoir, this one about sports broadcasting.

A Murder of Magpies by Judith Flanders
A mystery involving a book editor and one of her authors.

The Man Who Wouldn't Stand Up by Jacob M. Appel
A fictional story about a man "who wouldn't stand up" during the national anthem at a baseball game and the media frenzy that followed.

From Paperback Swap
The Temptation of the Night Jasmine by Lauren Willig
I just finished the 4th book of this series (review to come) and I'm anxious to jump back into the action with the next.

What Angels Fear by C.S. Harris
This is our February book club read, but it's also one that always on my goodreads' recommendations. It's a mystery that takes place in England in the early 1800s.

Definitely an exciting week in our house, both related to books as well as babies. Although considering the new edition (at least the living, breathing one) I have no idea when I'm going to find time to read all of these!

What did you find in your mailbox this week?

Friday, December 26, 2014

2 Weeks Update

Elley you are two weeks old!
4 Days Old
At your last doctor's appointment (which was about a week and a half ago on 12/15), you weighed 6 lbs 9 ozs (15th%ile), were 20.5 inches (80th%ile), and had a head circumference of 33.8 cm (21%ile). This was still down from your birth weight, but about 3 ozs up from when you left the hospital.
First Tummy Time at 5 Days Old
So far you're been a pretty easy baby, and I've actually been getting to sleep, something I wasn't expecting. Yes, you do wake up at night, but you go back to sleep too. Normally we put you in your crib around 7 or 8, and then you eat once more before I go to sleep around 11. Then you're up around 2:30 or 3, you don't always want to go back to sleep at this point, but I think I'm starting to figure you out. You're up again around 5:30 or so, and then depending on how close to 6 it is we may be up for the day at this point... by that I mean I'm up for the day since you'll spend most of the day napping.
With your Grandfather and Uncle, 8 Days Old
In general, once you eat you're willing to go back to sleep without being rocked or any other fuss. Although with each day, as you've gotten older, you're starting to realize how much is happening around you, and you're less and less excited about going to sleep.
Still 8 Days Old
You're eating like a champ, although maybe at times too much like a champ. I'm pretty sure at any given time if given the choice you'd be willing to eat. I did fit in my first pumping session today, and while I'm hoping to build up a nice freezer stash for when I go back to work, this does mean if necessary I could be away from you for more than an hour or two.
10 Days Old, With Your Great-Grandma, At Your Naming
You've had a lot of big firsts already in your little life. You had your naming. You celebrated Hanukkah. You had your first photo shoot. You celebrated your dad's birthday. You celebrated Christmas. And there's lots more still to come, with next week being your first New Year.
1st Time in a Restaurant
First Time in a Restaurant for Daddy's birthday, 12 Days Old
Speaking of Daddy, it's pretty awesome to see him with you. Yes, I may have found him bent over, trying not to be sick, with you, happy as can be sticking your foot into your dirty diaper, but as long as you're clean he's pretty amazing with you. He's decided that when you're awake you need to learn how to box. Not sure how well you'd do in a fight, but at least you're learning what an uppercut is... that's a plus, right?
13 Days Old
It feels crazy to think that you've only been here 2 weeks, since it really feels like you've been here forever. Already it's hard to imagine life without you. Which again doesn't quite make sense since you've really only been here such a short amount of time.
photo 2
Again, 13 Days Old
We can't wait to see you grow, to get to know your personality, and discover who you really are. And yet you're pretty perfect already, and I'm pretty sure I don't want to see you grow up too quickly!

The 5 S's

The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvery Karp, M.D.
: May 27, 2003 by Bantam
First Published: May 28, 2002
If there's one thing I'm most worried about going into having a baby it's how to deal with lack of sleep. Which is why getting the baby to sleep as long as possible and through the night is so important to me. Even before I was pregnant I knew I would read this, and it was only reinforced by others telling me about it once I became pregnant.

Yes, there's a dvd version too, but if you know much about me it isn't that much of a surprise that I chose to go the book version. I realize it is more of a time investment, but I think reading it makes it stay with you a little more, at least that's the way it works for me.

The book is a little repetitive, but I think that's kind of the point. I will tell you that after finishing the book and hearing the same method told over and over, while in slightly different ways each time, I can't imagine forgetting it. Even so I've folded the corner down on a few pages that I know I'll want to go back and reference. (Which is a big deal for me since I normally hate folding corners since it "ruins" a book.)

Everything in this book made sense, and while I can't put it into practice yet (at least not at the time I'm writing this review, by the time it's posted I should be in the middle of it all), I have high hopes for it. It's definitely a book that means more once you're able to put it into practice, and hopefully months down the road I'm raving just as much (or even more) about it.


Today I'm linking up with Blonde Undercover Blonde for Book Club Friday!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Happy Hanukkah

We've officially made it through our first holiday with Elley! Granted she slept through most of it, but she's can now say she's celebrated Hanukkah and even has a number of presents to show for it.
Before she was born I knew she needed a My First Hanukkah onesie. I wasn't completely sure what size to go with, but guessed on a newborn with the assumption she'd be small. Thankfully that wound up being the case, and even more lucky for us she managed to keep in clean for a family photo. Again on the fortunate note, we even convince the boy to join us in a photo.
As for presents, there were a lot of clothes the first night.
The dress was from one of the boy's co-workers and wound up being what she wore to her naming. The two onesies were from me and the boy, and the last 3 items were from my dad who, along with my grandmother and brother, had flown in for the week.
One the second night we bought her a set of board books.
I may be a little obsessed with these little library books. Both our niece and nephew have received them from us. I will say it was a little difficult finding one that could work with either gender (I had pretty much all of our shopping done before she was born since I knew I wouldn't have time after), since most were either Sofia the First or Planes or Strawberry Shortcake, but I figured Sesame Street worked well either way.
On the 3rd night, Elley received this skwish which the boy found at Barnes and Nobles and decided she needed.
After all, it does have quite the math-y look to it.
On the 4th night, we again gave her a set of onesies.
The board book of Goodnight Moon was from my grandmother (her great-grandmother), and the other two books were from my dad's girlfriend.
On the 5th night of Hanukkah, Elly received her Sophie the Giraffe.
The 6th night of Hanukkah was the same day as Elley's naming. After such a long day I didn't quite have the energy to light candles (thankfully she's still little enough where she has no idea what's going on and can't complain) which meant we had two presents to open on the 7th night.
First there were dvds of How to Train Your Dragon 1 & 2.
Then there was a Mensch on a Bench, the Hanukkah version of Elf on a Shelf. And yes, I realize this is completely commercialized and cliched, but I don't really care, and I know I'll have fun with it next year.
8th Night
Finally, on the 8th, and last night of Hanukkah, Elley received a set of BabyLit books from us as well as a silver dollar from her uncle (my brother).
8th Night's Presents
Of course while I'm Jewish, the boy and his family are not which means tomorrow she'll be celebrating Christmas as well. I'm sure with as many presents as she received for Hanukkah, they'll be even more for Christmas. Not too bad for a two week old baby, right?