Thursday, October 12, 2017

Well Hi There. This is Me, Procrastinating.

1. All of my UNO grad classes have been easy-- annoyingly so. They had me complaining about how much money I was wasting to learn nothing! So, when I had to take two classes this semester (when I had previously only taken one at a time), I thought it'd be a breeze. FREAKING WRONG. I'm dying over here as I sit at Scooter's gulping down my large black coffee hunkered down because it's open the latest (10pm!). I even made specific, achievable goals for every day of the week: 1.5 hours on most days, and a 3 hour chunk of work time 2 days a week. I'm still falling behind. Prayers for my sanity....

2. Scott has been great though! I've still been Jazzercising about 4x a week because I feel so much better mentally (and physically too, but surprisingly I've noticed so many mental benefits to this new consistent exercise routine)! He's been so accommodating and letting me sneak away for an hour a day + doing bedtime so I can start on homework before 9pm.


3. Luke is THREE. He loves: firetrucks, Super Wings (on Netflix), singing, books, his soft blankie, bugs, the moon, exploring, being loud, magformers + legos, and counting. He's consistently recognizing some letters (L, S, and O). Potty training is.. over? When are they officially potty trained? He's been rocking his Blaze undies for two weeks now with 3 total accidents? He's stayed dry at naps all week and just wears a pull-up at night (but wakes up dry half of the time). I actually find this stage rather challenging... if we walk to the park and play, what do we do if he has to pee??? There are no bathrooms there and takes 10-15 minutes to get home... #conundrums



4. So glad This is Us has begun again! Anyone else watch? and bawl your eyes out every episode?

5. My sister's wedding is in two weeks. Scott and I are singing two songs... that we haven't picked out or practiced yet. Yikes. I've just been so busy with grad classes and ALL THE GRADING. It's time consuming to grade 225 essays in a month... (Why I scheduled two essay that close together, I have no idea.)

6. I'm looking forward to Halloween! Luke will be a firefighter and Norah is an ice cream cone.

7. I've made this once a week for the last month. If you like brussell sprouts or butternut squash, check it out!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Oh hey!

1. More flavorful than LaCroix in my opinion and a little bit cheaper.



2. Loved this book! I felt it accurately portrayed many parts of my own high school experience-- or at least the quest for identity, individuality, dealing with other people's expectations, etc. In the last few weeks I've also read:  Far Far Away by Tom McNeal (ehhhhhh), Into the Water by Paula Hawkins (same author that wrote Girl on the Train. I really liked this one too!), Variant by Robison Wells (good YA sci-fi/mystery).





3. I am almost finished with Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. It is equal parts shocking, fascinating, horrifying and heart-breaking. Seriously, go read it now!! Stevenson is a defense lawyer who helped death row inmates starting in the early 80s in the South. The book is half memoir as he retells some of the prominent cases he worked, and half his take on the judicial system, poverty, and race in the South. I am learning so much I wasn't aware of; I am continuously amazed at how racist and corrupt the judges and police were in the South... in the 90s! I have also started researching some of the cases he describes to learn even more.





4. Norah just had her 15 mo well-check (a month late) and is 93% for weight, 25% for height, and 79% for head. She actually jumped from the 10th percentile for height which is where she had been so far in her life! She is rocking 2T clothing, size 5 diapers, has an adorable little top ponytail, a bajillion teeth, and the squishiest thighs. She is sweet and sassy and started talking over night! She can say mama, uuke (Luke), bum bum (for Little Baby Bum which she watches on Netflix), more, please, cheese, dah (dog), and thank you. Plus she knows like 8 animal sounds and all of her body parts. Currently, she loves to throw "trash" away--- so I sometimes discover things in there that don't belong (like hand towels, baby wipes, and legos). 



5. Luke is a crazy man. We're still lazily potty-training; he always poops in the potty (hasn't pooped in his pull-up in over a month), but he still pees in his pull-ups often. He drinks like 10+ cups of liquid a day, so he has to pee all the time and I just don't remind him enough. He is super excited to get "big boy" underwear for his 3rd birthday in a few weeks, so maybe that will finally help him with this final step! He talks non-stop, loves "pop fireworks," bugs, chocolate milk, and "Little Baby Bum" on Netflix. 

6. I'm taking two grad classes for the first and only time at UNO and OF COURSE they are the two hardest classes I've had to take. Ugh. Trying to cram in 100+ page of reading each week, plus 8 weeks of tutoring an elementary kid, weekly 1 page papers, multiple larger papers, and 1 big case study project... Yikes. 

7. FALL IS HERE! Which means HUSKER FOOTBALL! (And eventually boots, scarves, and hot coffee. But not this week. Because it was like 96 yesterday...)




Friday, August 18, 2017

Stopping By with Random Happenings

A non-insured driver rear-ended me the first week of August and totaled out my Civic. Thankfully I had insurance (even though now my rates will go up, we had to pay our $500 deductible, it was a freakin hassle to get a new car RIGHT as I was starting school, and we now have an additional car payment...). But we're all safe. We upgraded to a 2012 Nissan Rogue which actually has room for our double stroller or other larger objects, so it's all good. (We had a fantastic experience at CarMax, btw.)



I'm listening to Home Front by Kristin Hannah and I hate it, but I don't have another audio book at the moment so I'm sludging through it. The Girl Before, however, was good! I'd recommend that one.

Over the summer I developed a really bad habit of buying some unnecessary treat every day (fountain pops, iced coffee, an ice cream cone, etc.) and now every day when I leave school I want to get something... but our budget really can't afford that right now with the additional car payment and paying for daycare again. Ugh. Self control is hard!

We're almost done watching Atypical on Netflix. The main character is a high school boy with autism, and he acts just like so many of my students with autism. It's so funny, but the mom is annoying as can be. I can't stand the actress-- so if you can get past her, the rest is good.

I read this great blog post which contains many children's books that deal with race and diversity. With my growing realization that racism is still an obvious issue in our country and the world, I've been wondering how to introduce this idea to a toddler. Lots of great books here (and I found almost all of them at the Omaha Libraries!)

I provide my students with personalized book recommendations each year, which causes my to-read list to expand as I discover new books! So if you like young adult literature, these books look great! These are now on my list:



I am counting down the days until college football season... GBR!
Luke is still hilarious and still obsessed with fireworks... and actually doing well at potty-training.
Norah is 15 months and still doesn't talk except for "quack" and "moo" and "woof"...
And I have managed 4-5/week Jazzercise classes both weeks I've been back at work! #success

Have a great weekend =)


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Body Image


I lead a REbeL chapter at my school, which is a club that helps high schoolers "change society's definition of beauty" because "every body is beautiful." At our weekly meetings we discuss the way media thinks we should look, societal trends, eating disorders, mindful eating, healthy exercise, self-esteem, etc. And even though I'm hopefully helping students become more accepting of their bodies, I quickly realized I was in a weird relationship with my own.

So, this past year I've been reflecting on how I approach eating, working out, body image, self-esteem, etc. with more mindfulness than before in hopes of figuring out just what does and doesn't work for me.

and what have I learned?

I need only to listen to my own body. 

I will gobble up desserts all day long (cookies, brownies, ice cream, yum!), but otherwise I eat a balanced variety of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Instead of eating based on outside cues (time of day, seeing a delicious free food, the amount on my plate), I've focused on listening to my body: eating when I am actually hungry and stopping when I am feeling full. That's it. I eat anything that sounds good, but surprisingly, sometimes a salad IS what I want. And other times it's more mac 'n cheese. I finally have stopped feeling guilt and shame over eating a "bad" food or eating "too much." And IT FEELS AWESOME!


Following "fitness" Instagram accounts, Beachbody and Shakeology advocates, ItWorks! consultants, etc. really stressed me out. I tried the Beachbody thing last summer and the accountability did bring me results (-12lbs or so), but it is not good for my mind. None of that stuff is. It's really easy for me to become mentally obsessed which quickly leads to shame, guilt, and defeat when I eat the DQ Blizzard or "skip" a workout. I HATE so many of the mantras too. If my body is tired, I don't care if I should "Never Miss a Monday!", I'm going to rest. I don't want to "Rise and Grind" because working out shouldn't be a grind. Working out in any form should be something I enjoy doing because it makes me feel healthy, energized, and strong.


I've been doing Jazzercise 5-6x a week since May because it's fun. And challenging. And it's a weird community where everyone knows each other, accepts everyone else's different fitness levels, and is just there to have fun and sweat together. Even though the classes are hard, it's become one of my favorite parts of the day because I love how my body feels when it's working hard, jamming to the music. THAT is what "working out" should be about, a celebration of our bodies and the awesome things they let us do!

Have I lost weight? Not much. About 5lbs in over 2 months.


But I feel so much stronger, confident, and accepting of my body. And I haven't felt like that in... years.


Essentially,
I need only listen to my own body,
and
I workout because I love my body, not because I hate it.











Thursday, July 6, 2017

House!







Our home was in need of a major face lift this summer! We were so thankful to find a teacher at our church who does handy man stuff in the summer because he was AWESOME and affordable and truly such a blessing.

He (and some high school boys!) replaced a bunch of rotten siding, added trim boards, brick molding on every window, painted the whole house, and did a bunch of little things for us like fixing some stuff around the fire place vent and filling cracks in the patio cement. It took him over 2 weeks!

We also had 2 windows installed through Lowe's. (Not a great experience...)

We LOVE what our home looks like now though. It feels so great to be DONE.

Top: final product
Bottom: old 




See the rotten yuckiness?



New siding, all prepped for paint (it was warped and rotten under that window...)
In progress ... 



Final product with new windows, paint, and new gray front door too.


Friday, June 30, 2017

Quick Summer Reading Recap!

I'm already like 5? weeks into summer! So sad. I don't get to read as much during the school year, but I've knocked out a few so far. I always am listening to an audio book in the car, reading a fiction book (which I usually read really quickly) and a non-fiction book (which usually takes me forever). 



The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (2017)

Summary: Starr, a 16 year old, lives in the "ghetto" of Chicago and is with her friend when they get pulled over and he is wrongfully shot. The book explores how Starr reacts, conflicting feelings about race (she attends a 99% all white private school in the suburbs which adds an interesting layer to the story), her boyfriend, gangs, changing family dynamics, etc.
My take: Interesting story with a valuable perspective to such a hot-button topic in society today, but it has WAY too much language for me to feel comfortable recommending it to a 9th grader. (I'd say 11th grade+).



Girls on the Edge by Leonard Sax (2010) -- per Hannah's rec

Summary: Sax shares the four issues plaguing girls in today's society: sexual identity, the "cyberbubble," obsessions, and environmental toxins. He uses a mixture of real stories from patients he's had over the years and backs his qualitative observations up with studies and quantitative data.
My take: Such a great read! I couldn't stop talking to other people about random little facts and insights he shared about girls in today's culture. If you have a daughter or work with teens (or younger) girls, I would highly recommend this book!



Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (2011)

Summary: Wade Watts is a teenager living in 2044 world that is much different than today's. Most people "live" in the OASIS, a virtual reality video game that is much better than his real life. The billionaire that created the game dies, but leaves behind an "easter egg" with a series of clues and whoever finds it first--- will inherit those billions of dollars. Wade Watts gets close, but then the evil corporation steps in and things get messy.
My take: There are a LOT of 80s and video game references that was interesting, but could feel long and dragged out if you're not into that. Trying to figure out who to trust and what would happen in the end kept me engaged, plus I found his explanations about life in 2044 to be fascinating.

Also read:
Here's to Us by Elin Hilderbrand (typical beach chick lit read)
Summerland by Elin Hilderbrand (yep, typical beach chick lit read)
A Killing in the Hills by Julia Keller (mystery/thriller... didn't love it)

Currently reading:
A Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware (audio)
Health at Every Size by Linda Bacon (non-fiction)
Ghost by Jason Reynolds (fiction)


Tried to read but gave up:
All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda (I listened to this... and all but the last two CDs, but then I just lost interest)
The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman (2nd time trying this... just nope.)
The Woman in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck (just couldn't get into it since it's historical fiction...)
We are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson (This author Skyped my YA Lit grad class, but masturbating was mentioned like once every other page for the first 5 chapters, so I bailed because I wouldn't recommend it to my students.)



What are YOU reading???

Monday, June 19, 2017

New Deck!

Condition of old deck: peeling paint, rotting boards, yuck

The stairs didn't actually touch the ground on the right-hand side.... 
See giant bird nest that darn bird built 2x, so I just stopped knocking it down.

After 2 workers worked an 13 hour day, we have a new deck! Yay! I even requested a gate so Luke can play on his water table outside alone for a little bit and I don't have to check every two seconds that he hasn't run into the yard and to the front. 

Luke was so entertained!

We still have to decide on a stain, but SO MUCH better =)  Let's just say the guy made more today than I make in an entire month, so apparently I went into the wrong business. But, I have NO IDEA how to build a deck, nor do I want to, so I am just glad it's the first project -mostly- done!

Looking for new cushions for those chairs... any suggestions where to look?

Love the gate!!










Unfortunately, the deck people didn't really clean anything up, so there's dirt and saw dust everywhere, the landscaping stones are scattered around, and they didn't move any of the furniture or grill back up there.... and we need to sand a few places down that are ridiculously sharp and splintery, but it was "cheap" as far as decks are concerned, so I guess we get what we pay for in that regard.


Aaaand some progress pictures on the rest of our house =)

New trim boards and siding, caulked and ready for paint
Some rough paint job for now... it's dark gray and will have white trim. 


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Norah's 1st Birthday!

Norah turned ONE a month ago already. She's a delight!

Here are some pictures from her party =)
I was pretty proud of her month picture banner, but she has barely changed at all since month one!

"Under the Sea" theme, so I made everything have stupid pun names
My mom made delicious cake balls!

Add caption
She loved the cake! Ha! And she had about 3 headband changes throughout thanks to my sister. 

Some more about Norah:
She loves fruit, ham, hamburger, noodles, cheese, and graham crackers. (And uses a fork really well!)

She still has a bottle before nap and bedtime (with just whole milk). No more formula! Yay!

She is walking everywhere and climbing on everything.

Norah still takes two naps, usually totaling 2-3 hours and sleeps from 6:30pm to 6:30am.

Her hair is still too short for any sort of ponytail.

She weighs 24.8 lbs (94%) and is 28.5 inches tall (10%), which translates into size 5 diapers, 18-24mo clothes, and size 3 shoes.

We love her =)

Friday, June 9, 2017

7 QTs

Just to pop in during nap time...
A random picture of Norah from her 1st birthday last month. 

1. For the last few months I've been reflecting on what is motivating -or discouraging- for me in terms of food, heath, fitness, etc. I think I'm kind of weird about a lot of it... but a few things I have discovered: if I buy sweet treats like cookies or ice cream, I will eat all of it in a few days. I have little will power over sugary goodness. But otherwise, I always get at least 2 servings of fruits and 2 servings of veggies in each day (which I think is pretty good?).

2. Along the same "health" line, Jazzercise had free classes in May. I went 22x. I love the feeling of "cheating the system." It's normally $70 a month, so I took total advantage of it! And I just joined for June, July, and August as a teacher special. Surprisingly-- I've been going at 5:30am at least 2x a week and it's so energizing! I love that I can workout, shower, and drink at least part of my coffee before anyone else is awake. It seriously makes the rest of my day so much better.

3. One other thing... I started drinking 32oz of water each day in May. I have always been told you should drink HALF your body weight in oz (which would be like 80oz for me...) and I hate water. I never drink it. But I figured I could commit to ONE of my giant Methodist water jugs each day. And humbly, I will admit that I honestly felt better. In fact, I noticed a big enough difference that I'm now drinking 32-64oz a day... I know. I'm awesome. My body loves me for it.

4. Home Improvements... ugh. They finally started today! But by the end of July we will have mostly new siding, 2 new windows, a new deck, new basement carpet + tile, painted wainscoting in the basement, painted house, and new sinks in the kitchen and 2 bathrooms. I am going to be SO GLAD when it's all over. (And since Scott and I are NOT handy, the only thing we are doing is painting the wainscoting and doing some peel-n-stick vinyl. Ha.)

5. Iced coffee... yum. I've just been throwing some ice cubes in my now-cold-coffee around 11am and calling it good.

6. Never go to UNO for any degree related to education. It's a joke and a complete waste of money. So disappointing.

7. Any suggestions for awesome things to do or see in Waco or Dallas? Scott and I are going (for 6 whole days with no kids!) in July. I have a few restaurants (and obviously Magnolia) on the list, but otherwise we haven't planned much.




Thanks for reading my random thoughts for the day! =)

For more Quick Takes... 

Monday, May 8, 2017

If I had all the time in the world..

I would take a ballet class. It was my favorite dance class in elementary school, and I love how my body feels when doing similar moves in workout classes. So strong, yet graceful. 

Speaking of workout classes... I think one day (if I ever get to stay home), I'd like to become a Jazzercise or Zumba instructor. Jazzercise isn't nearly as fun, but the routines are also much simpler so it seems less intimidating. But I love Zumba much more-- it's SO fun! 

I'd also volunteer with a pregnancy resource center like EPS or do something to give of my time and talents to pro-life organizations.

I'd like to learn to embroider cute wall hangings...

AND I'd do all of that while listening to a million books on tape.

#dreaming

Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Summer of Home Improvements!

Our siding is not in good shape, somewhat due to us being new homeowners who didn't realize it needed to be painted the moment a spot appeared or else it would all rot, and somewhat due to it being in crappy condition when we bought it four years ago. Anyway, a lot of thousands of dollars later, and our house is going to become dark gray with white siding! I'm still deciding on a door color... do I go with black? a fun color like yellow?

We also need a brand new deck because ours is rotten... another few thousand...

Oh and we need two new windows... another $1500...

So at this point, I figure we should just spend another $2500 and fix everything else in the house I dislike too!

Scott isn't quite so sure, but I'm trying to convince him to let a painter do the rest of our tall interior walls in the living room, add a tiled backsplash to the kitchen and get new countertops, and get new carpet in the basement + painting the wainscoting gray.... Hahaha.


Before and after photos to come as the projects get completed =)

Friday, April 28, 2017

My Current Loves

1. Streaming various Jillian Michael's circuit workouts through my smartTV. I have been loving these since there's a different move every 30 seconds or so, and the whole workout is only 30 minutes. I don't get bored or tired too quickly; it's easier to stick with a difficult move if I know the end is literally just a few seconds away. Plus, I've been in a strength mood lately instead of cardio.

2. Crushed Red Pepper. It adds just enough kick to grilled or sautéed veggies. Delish!

3. It's Cold Brew Coffee season again =) I like the Stok brand from the store, but I also make my own for way less money! It turns out REALLY strong when I brew it following the provided directions, so I normally do about 6oz cold brew, 4 oz water (or milk) and some creamer over ice. Perfect afternoon pick-me-up!

4. Side french braids. So simple, yet fancy.

5. Spray paint.... I had acquired a bunch of random pots for plants, so I spray painted all of them turquoise. I also spray painted a [very old, originally purchased for my mom for $3 at an auction in 1964) dresser for Norah. I added some white ceramic flower nobs and added this adorable contact paper ! In love.

Spray painted pots + new flowers + new summer rug


6. Norah turns ONE on Thursday. She's been taking a few steps here and there for the last few weeks, but hasn't taken off yet. She isn't a fan of naps, but sleeps from 6:30pm-6:30am every day. Lately, she's wanted less formula and WAY more food--- having 6 teeth helps! She loves fruit, sweet potatoes, and cheese best.

Easter pic!
7. And Luke is great too! Ornery as can be, but adorable. Last week we took him to get a hair cut. The whole way there he kept saying, "Lukey is gettin a hair cut! I cited!" And then he screamed at the top of his lungs the ENTIRE time. Once we got in the car he said, "Lukey screamed. I was naughty. Mommy's mad." *giggle*   Honestly... if he wasn't so cute...

Easter pic

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Ways I'm Rockin' Motherhood

So Hannah over at Gokie Notes tagged me to post about the ways I'm rockin' motherhood lately. So... I couldn't resist even though I've blogged like 2x this whole year!


Going with the Flow
I'm a surprisingly "chill" parent, which is surprising because I am not that way in most other areas of my life. When Luke dumps out 3 consecutive boxes of toys on the floor, he gets a look and then we move on and play. When Norah knocks her food off her high chair tray, I just clean it up when I get a chance to. But nothing like that makes my blood pressure rise or my anxiety kick in.

All of these veggies ended up on the floor... 

He decided to use some lip stick as war paint... 

Singing Songs
I love that Luke and Norah both seem to love music and dancing. Every night before bed Luke and I "snuggle" which consists of me rocking him as we say a prayer and he requests songs. Sometimes he sings songs with me like "Twinkle Twinkle" or "Jesus Loves Me", but other times he just says some of his favorite items and waits for me to make up a song on the spot, like "Dump truck Song" or "Daddy Song." Music is important to Scott and me, so I like encouraging it in their lives too.


Cheap Clothing
Totally stealing this from Hannah, but I also love finding great deals on kid clothes. I always get hand-me-downs from nieces and nephews, plus my other sister is a pro at finding the best deals on Buy-Sell-Trade sites. And I can score a mean deal online at Kohls by stacking coupon after coupon and getting free shipping (usually I spend less than $3 an item!).

He dumped out ALL the toys, but did settle on a book =)


Books
As a teacher I realize how important fostering a love for reading is at a young age. I am always encouraging Luke to read books and it's pretty easy for him to push back bedtime by asking to read another.... because I will read 6 books in a row! Sometimes I catch him reading on his own and it melts my little heart. Norah has just started showing any interest in them, so I keep busting out the Touch and Feel ones! Luke often requests to visit the library and he helps me search for truck books he wants.




Errands
I am currently handling errands with both of them like a champ. I've figured out what combination of Ergo, double stroller, single stroller, type of cart needed, etc. at each place I frequent. I actually like bringing them along most of the time. When they aren't with me I have to stop myself from narrating the whole event out loud..... I'm not alone in that right?



Balance
Somehow, in the last 1-2 months, I've actually found a manageable balance between my various responsibilities. Yes I've been busy with work, grading papers, writing papers for my grad class, cleaning, laundering, and all of that normal house stuff, but I've also felt the "margins" of my life expand too. Scott and I let each other sneak downstairs for a 30 minute work out video most nights after dinner. We've had time to watch a show every night or to read a chapter in a book. I'm an introvert so I don't need a lot of time with friends, but I've been able to get some of that in too.

I often feel guilty if I want to meet a friend for happy hour or do something on the weekends since I don't see my kids that much during the week as it is. But, I've been trying to make my time with them more purposeful and being present instead of browsing social media or cleaning. I'm slowly realizing that not only is having some time for myself good, but letting Scott be with them by himself is good too.



Friday, March 24, 2017

What I've Been Reading...

Well hey! I'm on spring break so thought I'd update y'all on what I've been reading (and audio book listenting to) so far in 2017!


Young Adult Literature
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
      -- Quick dystopian tale of a boy on New World-- a place where everyone's thoughts are heard in the "noise." All of the women were killed in a war with the Spackle (native creatures to that planet). But then the main character meets a girl who has landed from Old World... and typical everything is not as it seems plot takes over. Eventually they get chased and hunted by the crazy mayor of his town as they try to uncover the truth about New World. I devoured this: fast-paced, mystery unfolded at a perfect rate, action, but NOTHING positive happened and it was only the first of a trilogy: B

The Pact by Jodi Picoult
     -- Some of my students read this for a choice novel, so I read it too. (Too much sex. I couldn't believe it was "approved" for freshmen.) Told through flashbacks, we try to figure out the truth: did Emily kill herself? Did her boyfriend, Michael, kill her in a suicide pact? The story featured the teen relationship and their parents' relationships; it was fascinating, complex, and unraveled at just the right speed: A-

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
      -- Narrated by Death, he follows an orphaned girl named Liesel as she grows up in Nazi Germany. I appreciate that this book focuses on German citizens who weren't fighting in the war instead of the normal Holocaust books. I think it presents a different layer and perspective. Lyrically and beautifully written, by I reread this since some of my students read it as a choice novel. I honestly didn't like it as much this time around, which may because I listened to it? I found myself zoning out more often than not: B-.

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
      -- Told from three friends' perspectives and set in the Bible belt of the South, this book examines the ideas of friendship, poverty, and familial expectations. It was hard to read at times because some of the parents were abusive either emotionally or physically, but a powerful story. A-

The Gender Game by Bella Forrest
      -- Dystopian America has split in two: Patrus, a country run by men where women have no rights and Matrus, a country run by women where men have no rights. The main character is set to be executed for killing two women in self-defense when the government offers her an olive branch: move to Patrus to complete a super secret, and dangerous, spy mission. Of course she falls for a man while trying to navigate the new world, and yet again (like every dystopian novel), realizes things aren't exactly what they seem. Read it in three days though, so I was hooked! Unfortunate it's a trilogy... sometimes I just want the FULL story in ONE book. Is that so much to ask?? B+

Something In Between by Melissa de la Cruz
      -- A high school senior wins a National Scholarship (full ride to any Ivy League school), but she can't accept it because ... she's in the USA illegally from the Philippines (her parents' work visas expired, but they stayed anyway and didn't tell her). Interesting perspective about illegal immigrants that isn't the typical image portrayed. I liked that part of the story, but then she falls in love with this boy and acted like she was 12 instead of 18, so that annoyed me. C+

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling -ish
     -- Hated this. I didn't think any characters were true to their characters from the books. D

Salt to the Sea by Ruth Sepetys
    -- AMAZING WWII novel. Normally I hate historical fiction, but this was great. Just go read it. A+

Non-fiction
The Temperament God Gave Your Spouse by Art Bennett
   -- If you haven't read this, GO DO IT! I laughed out loud so many times at how accurate the descriptions were of Scott and me. A

The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines
    -- They're so sweet =) I liked learning their back story! I can't wait for the next season of Fixer Upper to hit Netflix, and we're visiting the silos in July! A-

Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist
     -- She has such an interesting take on religion, truly a mix of everything! (And so much Catholic thought and quotes from saints and stuff, but she is actually a member of a church her family started 40 years ago...) Nice, quick reminder about how being truly present in our lives is more important than hustling to get things done. B

The Walls are Talking by Abby Johnson
     -- Multiple abortion workers' stories about their time working in abortion facilities. Eye-opening and heart breaking. A.

Currently Reading:
Fearless by Sonia Corbitt (Bible study (ish) book about fear and spiritual warfare)
Holding the Universe by Jennifer Niven




I'm always listening to an audio book in the car, plus reading a non-fiction and fiction book at home, which allows me to get through quite a few books!!