Thursday, December 31, 2015

12 Months Update

12 Months
12 Months
Happy birthday Elley! You are officially 1 year old! Or at least you were, almost 2 and a half weeks ago, at your first birthday. You had a doctor's visit this month, which sadly means shots, but also official stats.
photo 4
Novemeber 15
You weight only 15 lbs 15.5 oz, which drops you down to the 0%ile. You're still supposedly 27 inches, which drops you down to the 4th%ile. Not too surprising considering your size, but you're still wearing 6 and 9 month clothes, still in size 3 diapers, and still wear your bumgenius diapers the same way.
photo 11
Novemeber 21
Now onto things that have changed! You learned to clap this month and are a big fan. You can say uh oh and hi, and appropriately. I may have taught you to say uh oh as I was trying to entertain you in the bathroom and showed you it was the correct response as you knocked every shampoo bottle into the tub. And you love saying hi back and forth with us.
Just cruisin' around the living room. #latergram
November 27
You can definitely take steps on your own when necessarily, but instead still prefer cruising around the living room holding onto something or crawling when there's somewhere you really want to go.
Drinking Water
December 8
Even though last year was your first Hanukkah, based on the way the calendar works, the holiday started before your birthday this year. You got pretty good at opening your presents and handed each piece of paper you tore off to me our your daddy. You received a few puzzles as gifts and are surprisingly good at taking the pieces out. Of course then they wind up all over the floor. You've also gotten good at turning pages in your books lately, something Mommy is really excited about.
On the fourth night of Hanukkah new books were received. Thanks @lexilooo!!
December 9
It's so crazy to think that you're not really a baby anymore and are approaching full toddler-hood. This is also your last monthly update, although I still plan on writing updates every other month for the next year, so we'll see how that plays out. This year has been so much fun and has gone by so quickly. And yet, I can barely remember what life was like before you arrived. Here's to you baby girl. Happy birthday and to many more!
Birthday Girl
Breakfast Cheerios on Your Birthday, December 11
1 Month Old2 Months OldIMG_3341
1 Month ~ 2 Months~3 Months
4 Months ~ 5 Months ~ 6 Months
7 Months ~ 8 Months ~ 9 Months
IMG_414011 Months
10 Months ~ 11 Months

Monday, December 28, 2015

Return of the Movie Review

The Force Awakens
It's been a while since I've posted a movie review. Granted we're seeing less of them, but there are a few we have seen in theaters that haven't made it to the blog (Ant-Man, The Martian, Spectre, Mission Impossible, Creed, Concussion,... to name a few... and by that I mean most of them). But I couldn't let the new Star Wars movie go by without commenting on it.

I've been so excited about this movie, but a little apprehensive as well. My mom raised my on Star Wars and I've been a fan as long as I can remember. When Episode I came out I dressed up as Padme. (Which was fun until I ran into the high school baseball team walking to the theater.) When Episode III came out I was in France and saw it next to the Arc de Triomph. I even used the Throne Room Theme as the processional to our wedding.

As for the movie I absolutely loved it! Although it's a little disappointing it doesn't match the Expanded Universe exactly, there are some similarities. I guess we'll see what's to come and if they use any of the other characters. (My hope is that Mara Jade appears, who was always my mom's favorites.)

There were some surprises that I wasn't expecting, although could have seen coming, especially if I hadn't been able to avoid spoilers. And once I was finished my main thought was when we'd be able to see it again. I'll likely wait till it's out on dvd (or I guess now blu-ray), but it's one I'll definitely own, which says something since we rarely add dvds to our collection.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Mailbox Monday (124)

Didn't I say this weeks Mailbox Monday would be kind of crazy? These books are just those that Elley received for her birthday and Hanukkah from us and various family and friends. I was actually planning on including Christmas books too, but couldn't get them to fit in a picture, so you'll have to wait till next week to see them. Since there are so many books instead of a sentence or two summary on each, with most I'm just listing the title.
Mailbox Monday
Panda in the Park by Anna Milbourne

Where's Spot? by Eric Hill
I had this book growing up and remember being disappointed that I had ripped all the flaps. I'm trying to make sure Elley doesn't have the same issue when she's older, although I think she may be up for a similar experience.

Latke, the Lucky Dog by Ellen Fischer

Ellie by Mike Wu
This was gifted by my dad in honor of Elley's blog name.

Star Wars: 1, 2, 3

Ninja Red Riding Hood by Corey Rosen Schwartz
Technically this was one of our Christmas presents to Elley, but it managed to sneak into this photo.

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff

If You Give a Dog a Donut by Laura Joffe Numeroff
Both this and the original are signed and coincidentally were gifted by completely different people.

If You Ever Want to Bring an Alligator to School, Don't! by Elise Parsley

That's Not My Dragon by Fiona Watt

My Little Treasury Fairy Tales

Mommy & Me by Barabara Loots
This is an adorable book from my grandmother where you use your pictures to give a face to both the mom and baby. So cute!

Everything I Need to Know I Learned From a Disney Little Golden Book by Diane Muldrow

Baby's Very First Slide And See Animals by Fiona Watt

Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney

My First Chanukah by Tomie dePaola

Talk about a lot of books right? But after all, there's no such thing as too much books. Especially when they're short and you can easily reads multiple books in a day. Hope everyone else had a book filled holiday as well!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Last of the Chemical Garden

Sever by Lauren Destefano
: February 12, 2013 by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Series: The Chemical Garden #3
Back before this series ever came out I was so excited for it. First of course, are the gorgeous covers. Not necessarily a reason to read a book, but it didn't hurt. Also the idea intrigued me. A world where girls died at 20, where the were sold into polygamous marriages. Talk about intriguing.

The first book was all that I expected it to be, and yet looking back I can say there was something missing. Then with the second it went in a completely different direction than I expected. And now with the third, I am glad I finished it, but again there's just so much potential with this series that fell just short.

It has been a few weeks since I finished reading this, and I do think that's influenced my review. Now that I'm not still under its spell, I've realized how easy it is to forget. That's actually part of what made it difficult to read. It's been almost 4 years since I read Fever and while parts of it I do remember, a lot of it is still foggy.

Even so, I'm glad I stuck with this. The trilogy ends and wraps up its mysteries quite nicely with still a bit of suspence. As I've mentioned in my other reviews for this series, I loved the characters and once again that's the case.

I'm not sure I'll be reading these books again, but even if it's just because of the covers, I can't imagine getting rid of them. Plus I was happen enough with the books I'd be more than happy to pick up something else by Destefano.


Monday, December 21, 2015

Mailbox Monday (123)

Another much belated edition of Mailbox Monday. I know I'm a little late posting, but I have several books I've acquired since this photo was taken that I was hoping to be able to share this year. So while this week may be on the small, get ready for some huge editions in the week to come.
Mailbox Monday
From PJ Library
Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah by Susan L. Roth
This book is literally the lyrics of the song Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah. So while it may not have a unique story, it does have adorable pictures of mice celebrating the holiday.

From Paperback Swap
The Duff by Kody Keplinger
I've heard great things about this book as well as the author in general. After all, if they're willing to make it into a movie it has to at least be at least a little good. Not only is it one I've been curious about for a while now, it's our January book club book, which does mean I'll actually read it timely, which rarely seems to happen these days.

What did you find in your mailbox this week?

Monday, December 14, 2015

Meeting the Morlands

The Founding by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
: April 1, 2010 by Sourcebooks Landmark
First Published: 1980
Series: The Morland Dynasty Series #1
Starting this book I knew what I was getting into, and I was so excited to get going! The Founding is the first book of The Morland Dynasty. It's a book series that follows one family from the 1400s to the 1900s. There's currently 35 books in the series, and the author is working on the 36th. It's definitely an investment, and I imagine by the time I've gotten to the 36th book, they'll be even more in the series since she's only up to the 1930s and plans to go to WWII.

As for the book, I really enjoyed it. I think that even if this was a standalone book I would have loved it, but knowing that I get to keep reading about this family (and reading and reading) is even more exciting. Especially since with one book it already has become a multi-generation saga.

If I had any complaint about this book it was keeping all the family members straight. There was a family tree in the front that helped, but depending when you referenced it, you were met with minor spoilers. It does make me worried that it will be hard to remember exactly who everyone is in books to come. Although I do imagine as time passes there will be far less children to deal with.

This book definitely lived up to my expectations, and then some! If this book is any indication of what to come then I know I'm going to have a lot (and I mean A LOT) of good reading ahead!


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Giving Thanks

I realize we're already in December. Hanukkah started two nights ago, and we're only days away from Elley first birthday (What?!?! How did that happen?!?!) But I couldn't let time pass and not talk about her first Thanksgiving, right?
Thanksgiving Table
This was our table, basically full of gifts from our wedding and various celebrations. Basically, the only thing you can see in this photo that wasn't a gift from someone was the Happy Thanksgiving sign I found in the Dollar Spot at Target. (Along with my pumpkin pie you can barely see in the background.)
The boy spent most of the day cooking making gumbo, turkey (which he artfully arranged even), mashed potatoes, gravy, and macaroni and cheese. As for me, in addition to my previously mentioned pumpkin pie, I also made cranberry sauce.
Our Thanksgiving was actually a little different this year than normal, since we were celebrating with a group of friends. But it was a fun way of changing things up and doing things a little bit different than normal.
Thanksgiving Plate
As for Elley, she had a blast and ate every piece of food that was on her tray. Or at least she tried to eat every piece, but half of what she picked up didn't quite make it and ended up on the floor instead.
Happy thanksgiving!! Someone was a bit obsessed with pumpkin pie... Make that two someones!
Our course I didn't think to take a picture of her in action, but did remember one picture of the two of us together before the night was over. Plus she joined in with one of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions, that of leftover pie for breakfast on Black Friday! This time we even captured picture evidence!
Leftover Pie
Hopefully everyone else had just as sweet of a Thanksgiving, and I'm wishing you all a very happy holiday season!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Christmas in Montana

If Only in My Dreams by Mariah Stewart
: November 30, 2015 by Pocket Star
One thing I love about Mariah Stewart's books is how they transport you to a picture perfect location. In her Chesapeake Diaries series it's Maryland's Eastern shore. But in this book it's a Montana ranch at Christmastime. Everything about the setting felt so magical and made me want to curl up with a warm mug of hot chocolate. It's definitely a story to get you in the holiday mood.

As for the story itself, it is a lot of fun. From the first few pages you learn that our characters (a children's book author and aprofessional baseball player) were high school sweethearts but something happened to drive them apart. As it so happens both of them are back in Montana for the holidays, so it's not too surprising where things are going to go. But even so, it's fun getting there. Once I realized what broke up their romance, it made perfect sense, and I sped through the rest of the novella waiting to see when they would resolve their misunderstanding.

If I had any complaint about this book it's that it's a novella. I started the book and was finished within 24 hours, but wished there had been more to keep going. There's several background characters that I could see in stories of their own. Hopefully the next time Stewart decides to visit the ranch in Montana she's there for an entire book!


Disclosure: I was provided this book from the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Born in Captivity

Room by Emma Donoghue
: May 18, 2011 by Back Bay Books
First Published: September 13, 2010
I remember back when this book first came out thinking it was such an interesting concept. It's now been years since it's been released, and years that I've been looking forward to reading it... something that can lend itself to a let down. But instead this book was just what I expected and I totally get what all the hype was about.

Reading this book, I didn't want to put it down. I would have been happy to sit down and read it all in one sitting, but pesky things like sleep got in the way. In some ways this book is predictable. You know they have to escape, otherwise what exactly would be the point. But I still had to know exactly when and how it would happen.

As much as I loved this book, it's hard to say it's really enjoyable. This book is about a really depressing topic. And the more you get into it the worse things become. It brought up aspects of life living your whole life in a single room that I never would have thought of. But yet each time something happened, it made complete sense that would be the reaction.

In a lot of ways I can't believe it's taken me so long to read this book. Although I do think reading this book now as a parent, gives me a different appreciation for it than I would have otherwise. I know they just turned this book into a movie, and while I'm sure it's amazing, I do think I'm going to need to prepare myself to watch it.


Monday, November 30, 2015

Mailbox Monday (122)

It's Monday, and I'm actually here posting my Mailbox Monday update sharing the books I've recently brought into my house.
Mailbox Monday
Borrowed From a Friend
Room by Emma Donoghue
I've actually already read this one (review to come later this week), and it's one that lives up to the hype. I feel like it's so old that I'm the last to read it, but in case it's on you haven't heard of it, it's told from the point of view of a 5-year-old boy whose mother was kidnapped and he was born in captivity. It's unlike another book I've read, and I know it isn't one I'll forget.

Shopaholic to the Rescue by Sophie Kinsella
Yet another book I've already read (and reviewed). You can tell how behind I am in getting this post up! While this book is completely different from Room it's still one I really enjoyed in a completely opposite way.

For Review from the Publisher
If Only in My Dreams by Mariah Stewart
This one I haven't actually read yet! Although I have read several other by Mariah Stewart. This novella was originally part of an anthology that's now being released a standalone. It was actually released today and with December starting tomorrow it looks like the perfect time to start this holiday story!

What did you find in your mailbox this week?

Friday, November 27, 2015

Bounty Hunter Becky

Shopaholic to the Rescue by Sophie Kinsella
: October 27, 2015 by The Dial Press
Series: Shopaholic #8
The Shopaholic books were one of the first "grown-up" chick lit series I remember reading. I was in grad school living on my own for the first time, and while I may not have been in shopping trouble, Confessions of a Shopaholic was a pretty good picture of where I was at in life. In a way the series has mirrored my life, as Becky has gotten married, had a baby,... I have too. Becky's best friend Suze even makes a comment in this book on a similar note, about how who would have believed that they're both grown-up and married with babies of their own now. I have to say I have a similar feeling about my life.

For the first time, the last Shopaholic book ended on a cliffhanger, which means we dove right into the story. It was a bit jarring in a way to go back and remember all that happened, but luckily these were published fairly close together and more than that I read them close together.

I think what I loved most about this book was Becky's character. I said it in my last review, but even more so here, Becky has really grown up. It's really nice to see Becky growing from her mistakes. Even though she may not have troubles she's responsible for, she still has fiascoes to deal with and I love the way she tackles them us.

This book doesn't end on the obvious cliffhanger as the last. But there's still a few untied stories. I'm pretty sure this isn't the last we'll see of Becky and I can't wait to catch up with her again!


Monday, November 23, 2015

One Couple's Journey from Embryo Mix-Up to Miracle Baby

Misconception by Paul and Shannon Morell with Angela Hunt
: May 4, 2010 by Howard Books
Earlier this year I read Inconceivable a book about a couple, the Savages, whose fertility doctor mistakenly implanted them with another couple's baby. I loved that book and since then I've been looking forward to reading the other side of the story. This book about the other couple, the one who instead kept the baby after the first gave birth.

I was obviously a bit biased about the Morell's since I read the Savage's book first. They didn't come off in the best light, but I figured reading the story from their words I'd understand them a bit better. Even so, I still didn't fall in love with the Morell's the way I did with the Savages.

I think part of it is due to the private nature of the Morells. Through the whole book there's a constant feel that they are getting dragged into a media circus of no wish of their own. I get the feeling that they didn't necessarily want to write this book either, but since the Savages were writing a book felt they needed to as well. It's almost like you're reading about them at an arms length and never really get to know the Morell's or the rest of their family.

From the title the book is written by both Paul and Shannon, but that wasn't really the case. Instead the majority of the book is from Shannon's point of view, and there's a few quotes from Paul throughout. As little as I felt like I knew Shannon by the end, it was like a friendly acquaintance compared to a complete stranger with Paul.

This book tells about such a heartbreaking situation, and I'm impressed that the Morells were willing to relive it and tell their story. I think it's a bit inspiring reading memoirs from others who were dealt with such unimaginable circumstances. While I may not have loved reading the Morell's book, I still think their story is amazing and I'm grateful they offered this little look into their lives.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Baby Wishes

Elley's 1st birthday is barely 3 weeks away! On top of that, her birthday is in December, which means not only is she going to grow up with birthday presents, but Hanukkah and Christmas presents as well. I've been stocking up presents for her, far more than really necessary, but even so there's still a few things on her birthday/holiday wish list.
Toy Cell Phone
Like most babies born in the twenty teens, Elley is obsessed with cell phones, likely because she always sees grown-ups playing on them. Technically she has her "own cell phone" which is really a calculator, but it works... sometimes. I'm not sure this will completely trick her into believing it's the real thing, but if it lights up it might hold her attention for a little while.

KidKraft Shabbat Set
I'm kind of obsessed with this toy Shabbat set and kind of want it for myself. It includes two candles, a wine glass, and a challah, everything a kid could need to celebrate Shabbat. We haven't yet started doing Shabbat with Elley, but that's mainly because she's not quite ready to eat a whole meal with us each night. Altough I have a feeling it will start to happen in the next year and this seems like a fun way for her to have her own Shabbat celebrations once she learns what they are.

Sports Toy with Balls
I think she'd love any type of sports toy but this Having a Ball 5-in-1 Sports Zone looks awesome! It includes pieces to play soccer, baseball, hockey, golf, and basketball which I guess would give her an early start on deciding which one she likes best.

Little People
I keep seeing commercials for this Little People Big Animal Zoo and think it looks adorable. It's funny in a way, because while I remember Little People from when I was little, I don't remember being a huge fan of them. But maybe Elley would be different? I'm sure she'd like any of the Little People sets, but I like this one because there's an elephant and a monkey. If only there was a Tiger too!

Of course this is on the list! As for a few specific ones, we love the BabyLit classic series, but when I saw they had a book on California that's a landscape primer, I knew she had to have it eventually! Another good one that I love giving as a gift is The Day the Crayons Quit. As for some older options, she'd love more of the Angelina Ballerina books. The only one we currently have is Angelina and Alice. Not too surprising, I actually have a whole shelf on goodreads for her books on her wishlist, although it could easily have a few more additions to it.

KidKraft Jewish Holidays Puzzles
Yes, it's another KidKraft Jewish themed item. They actually have quite a few of them and make me wish they were around when I was little. This one is a set of puzzles each for a different holiday. With a puzzle for Hanukkah, Passover, Rosh Hashanah, and Shabbat they work all year round.

Although all things being equal, I'm sure what Elley will be most excited about is all the paper to rip and boxes to climb in. But you can't say we didn't try? (For fun, you can see Elley's holiday wish list from last year when she was only two weeks old here.)

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

11 Months Update

You are 11 months old!
11 Months
11 Months
I can hardly believe it! How are you already so close to a whole year old?!? It's so weird driving home from work lately, because the last time it was this dark driving home were the days just before you were born. It's a weird feeling driving and remembering so clearly what it was like waiting for your arrival. It's kind of hard to believe. But enough about me, let's talk about you!
Chewing on a Block
October 17
Surprise, surprise, you're still wearing a mix of 6 and 9 month clothes, still in size 3 diapers, and still wear your bumgeniuses with the same snaps open.
We made it to a pumpkin patch!
October 18
One thing that has changed though are your teeth. Your top two teeth came in, which gives you a total of six teeth, four on the top, two on the bottom.
The Force is Strong With This One
October 30
You've mastered waving this month and will get your whole arm behind it. But maybe more impressive is that you know when to wave. You'll start waving by as I get ready to leave you at daycare in the morning or after I put you in your car seat and go walk to the front before I even have the chance.
Top Teeth
October 31
As for a few first this month, you had your first visit to a pumpkin patch and went trick-or-treating for Halloween. You also had your first bout of sickness and came home from daycare with a stomach bug. Thankfully it passed pretty quickly. Also, it's pretty remarkable that you made it so long without getting sick.
photo 27
November 1
Ending this post the way we started, it's so, so crazy to think that you're almost a whole year old. I look back at pictures of you as a little tiny baby and truly miss it. But yet I love the way you are now, and can't wait to see you continue to grow and experience all that life has to offer!
Ready for the LSU game to start! #geauxtigers #beatbama
November 7
1 Month Old2 Months OldIMG_3341
1 Month ~ 2 Months~3 Months
4 Months ~ 5 Months ~ 6 Months
7 Months ~ 8 Months ~ 9 Months
10 Months