Friday, September 2, 2016

13 months: Yes, we are still doing this :)

Our one year anniversary has come and gone...and we may no longer be "newlyweds" but we had so much fun with our monthly dates over the past year that we decided to keep it going.

And if we are going to keep our monthly dates going then I MUST blog about our monthly happenings right along with it right? ;)

This month was a weird month...we didn't do much, but with back to school craziness that was to be expected. Our monthly date was extremely low key (although we had something planned...it just didn't quite work out and got moved to next month) but it was just what we needed this month. Not all date nights involve leaving the house okay?

I know I alluded to a low key month...but it actually started out with a bang...quite literally! Early in the morning of our one-year anniversary our house was struck by lightning...talk about a celebration ;)


The only good thing to come out of this may have been our new TV :) We had plans to replace the 42" TV from AJ's college years, and this just sped up the process. Our new 60" TV might be a bit of an overkill...but when hubby is happy, everyone is happy (Isn't that the saying?)

We also got to celebrate Chad and Sarah's recent nuptials at the "I Do, BBQ"


The Smith's sure know how to party! Great music, great food, and best of all great company :)

We got a chance to babysit this cute little guy :)


As always he was a perfect angel! I could kiss and squeeze those cheeks all day long!


I started back to work...and contrary to what you believe this does not just affect me. Poor AJ got used to a rested wife who cooked dinner more often and made sure the house was clean. Life changes in August...at least until I get in the swing of things! 


This year I am teaching 4th grade, and while it's not that different from 3rd (and I was lucky enough to keep some of my kiddos) getting into the swing of things took a little longer than normal. 5 years in one grade level puts you in a comfort zone! HOWEVER, mixing things up was the BEST decision I have made! I love, love, love my 4th graders!

Remember how I told you this month was pretty low key...well here is your proof. That's it...that is all the notable things we did this month...or at least the ones I took pictures of. I would like to say that I hope next month is more eventful...but then I would be lying. I am a homebody at heart and I love, love, love staying in!

The homebody in my really enjoyed this month's date...it spoke all my love languages.


We started with dinner at a Chinese place close to our house...


Stopped for ice cream at Orange Leaf...


And then grabbed a Redbox and headed home for snuggles on the couch!

Not the most exciting month in our marriage...but one we enjoyed nonetheless!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

August Book Review

I was quite worried about hitting my goal of 4 books for this month. August is typically a very busy month, with back to school crazies...that, and I tend to have a very hard time staying awake past 8:30 in August :)

Somehow though, I managed to pull it off...by the skin of my teeth! My 4th book was quite a struggle and I contemplated quitting mid-read, but I knew I would never have the time to finish another book so I powered through.

Minus book #4, this month was pretty good to me. I read 2 VERY good books, one pretty good book...and well book #4, can we call that "the book who shall not be named?'

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27209486-modern-lovers

This was my first book of for the month...and it was okay, but not great. It seemed to drag on a bit for me, but I enjoyed the story. I can't seem to muster up any more to say about this book...my apologies :)

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26247008-truly-madly-guilty

I love, love, love Liane Moriarty...and this book was no exception. It had plenty of twists and turns and unexpected moments to keep me interested. I won't say the entire book was flawless for me, because there were definitely a few moments/chapters where I struggled, but it was a book I would definitely recommend!

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21853621-the-nightingale

This book earns the "most improved" award from me. For the first 1/4 of the book I struggled to see the appeal, I struggled with "forcing" myself to read (which I blame in part on back to school exhaustion), but then BAM...it all turned around and I was a reading machine. I could not put this beautiful book down. It was set in my favorite time period (WW2) and gave me a glimpse of a different side of the war and the Nazi takeover than I usually read. I was in tears at the end of the book and was sad it was over. This was my first Kristin Hannah book, but definitely not my last!

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25986991-it-s-not-okay

I'm embarrassed to admit how excited I was to read this book. I absolutely love the Bachelor franchise (no shame) and loved Andi on both seasons. I could not wait to get my hands on this book and get a behind the scenes look at her "journey" to find love...

Womp, Womp....that is the best way I can describe how I felt 10 pages into this book. Andi came across as a snobby "too good for this" (pardon my language) bitch. She was basically "forced" and or tricked into auditioning, she battled with the decision to be the Bachelorette, and her break-ups were of course the guys fault. This book is written like a self-help book for a narcissistic, whiny, take no responsibility for your own actions, spoiled brat. I got awfully tired of reading about how her life was over and hearing about all the wine she consumed.

Please save yourself the time and frustration...stay far, far away!  





That's all I managed for this month, which I have to say is pretty good considering I found myself asleep before the sun went down more nights than not this month. I'm looking forward to some pretty great books in September :)

Happy Reading!



Thursday, August 4, 2016

12 months...52 weeks, 365 days, 8,765 hours, 525,948 minutes...1 whole year

One year ago, on July 25, 2015...I made the best decision of my life


As cheesy as it sounds...it's true.

Our 12th month of marriage just might be my favorite...but that's probably because it included an anniversary trip :) 

This month...


We celebrated our friend Josh's birthday at KC Wine Co.



We celebrated our friend Ben's birthday


And then...America's birthday


We babysat our favorite nieces...and played Barbies :) Uncle AJ always has to be Ken...and Finley's Barbies are NEVER dressed.



Swimming was a hit...and a splash with this happy little girl. 


And I think it's safe to say AJ has gotten over his fear of babies...By your second niece, I suppose you get a little braver ;)

Our wine and cheese night was so successful...we decided to have a beer and pretzel night :) We also discovered that beer tasting is a much safer activity. Wine goes (quickly) to your head :) 


We celebrated National Ice Cream Day


We (I) painted the guest and master bathrooms. This is a before picture...I have yet to take afters (sorry!) However, I am happy to report that we have finished painting every piece of trim, every door, and every wall in this house! My goal was to finish the trim by our 1 year houseiversary...and I am happy to say we succeeded...with 3 weeks to spare! Talk about a HUGE load off. I am so glad to have the painting done...this year we will focus on getting things hung on the wall :) 


We went to Chicago for our "Anniversary Extravaganza"

And even though we technically had 2 day long "monthly dates" while we were in Chicago, we decided we still wanted to celebrate our 12th month anniversary by going to the Ceramic Cafe to paint another fine piece of art.

But then disaster struck...quite literally! Early Monday morning our house was struck by lightning...Happy anniversary to us :) 

Luckily, the damage was minimal and I am lucky enough to have an electrician brother who dropped everything to come over and spend 2 evenings rewiring our bedroom and checking to make sure that everything else was okay. 

However, due to the lightning strike we decided to reschedule our official date for Friday...but that didn't stop us from going out to celebrate with dinner at the fanciest of places...Olive Garden :) 


Cheers to a wonderful year! 


After a quick photo shoot, that my sweet husband was willing to sit through...just for me (we quickly learned that the tripod and self-timer app were not as easy to use as anticipated) we cut into our wedding cake! I was a little hesitant, thinking it might not taste very good...but boy was I wrong! It tasted just as good as our wedding day! 


Our 12th month anniversary was one we have had planned for awhile. A few months back, I bought a Groupon for Ceramic Cafe and their BYOB painting. We painted a piece of pottery on our honeymoon and we thought it would be fun to do it again, a year later...hoping our skills may have improved ;)

We started with dinner at Sunset Grille and then headed over to paint our masterpiece! 

 
For a wedding gift last year my co-workers put together the sweetest gift! It was a basket filled with bottles of wine that we were instructed to drink for certain occasions (wedding night, first fight, one year anniversary, etc) and because it was BYOB we were able to bring our "one year anniversary" bottle to enjoy! Painting and booze always go hand in hand ;) 


We chose an owl for our mantle...I am hoping that it turns out okay and that we don't have to hide it behind something else ;) 
 

 Hattie the Hooter turned out better than I thought!


She does look a little bit sleepy here...but hopefully once she is fired and shiny and bright she looks a little more lively :) 

 One whole year of marriage is the books has us saying

"Bring on Year Two!"
Monday, August 1, 2016

July Book Review


I had high hopes for myself this month...I mean, July, for a teacher means all the free time in the world! Unfortunately, that was not the case for me. 

I spent a lot of July finishing up the painting in our house...I had this silly goal of having every room, door, and piece of trim painted before our one-year housiversary (which is tomorrow)  

Luckily, I was able to achieve that goal and I will be hanging up my paintbrushes for awhile...but something had to give...and that something was the hours I planned on spending in my sun room snuggling my sweet pup and reading. #OhWell #MaybeNextSummer

This month there isn't much variety in what I read. 4 of the 5 books are what I like to call "beach reads" They were quick, easy, mindless chick-lit type books. This is all because of that dreaded library holds curse...I've had most of these books on hold for months...and what do you know...they all came available at the same time. Good thing they were quick and easy to read...but I have to say my brain feels kind of mushy and is in dire need of something more substantial next month :)

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25690958-year-of-yes

My first book for this month is also the first book I incurred a late fee at the library for. I may or may not have misplaced it somewhere in the house...which never happens. By the time I found it I only had 2 days before it needed to be returned. However, this book is not meant to be sped read (is that right? Or is it speed read? They both sound stupid...but you get the idea) 

This book is much too insightful to not spend the time reflecting, re-reading, and celebrating everything this brilliant woman has to say. I have been a huge fan of Shonda Rhimes (Hello Grey's, Private Practice, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder...my favorite shows) and while I knew she was a gifted writer...I had no idea how insightful she was. I found myself agreeing with her and cheering her on throughout the entire book! I am half-tempted to go out and by a copy I can keep, highlight, and re-read over and over again! 

Another reason I loved this book is because it reminded me of my New Year's Resolution back in 2011..."What the Heck, Why Not?" I could relate to Rhimes and her "never saying yes" and playing it safe. Please do yourself a favor and read this book :)



 Kristin Hannah is a well known author...I have seen her books everywhere, yet I have never read one. I know, I know...I am just as shocked as you are. I have several on my "to read" list on Goodreads, but never seem to pick up any of her books.

I am a member of BookBub, and each month they send me an email with killer deals on ebooks...well this just happened to be one of the 99 cent deals and I knew I couldn't pass it up. 

I read this book on the treadmill and on our way to Chicago...and I have to say I was not disappointed at all. It reminded me a lot of Nicholas Sparks' book "The Choice" and definitely pulled at the heart strings. I felt like the story-line was somewhat predictable (but isn't that the case with most chick-lit?) but I enjoyed it just the same.


I was VERY excited to read this book as I have read several of Emily Griffin's books in the past. I don't feel like I have much to say about this book...I liked it...but was it wonderful? Nah...quick easy beach-read...and if you are a fan of Emily Griffin and chick-lit than you will really enjoy this one. 
 

Oh Elin Hilderbrand...something about you just keeps me coming back for more. I have read several of her books and honestly, hated almost half of them. 

However, for some reason I keep reading her books because I want so badly to see what other people are raving about. 

This book just may have pulled me further into her trance and helped me to see what the hype was about. I absolutely LOVED this book. I loved the characters, the story-line, the ending, and the easy way in which it flowed. If you are a Hilderbrand fan definitely read this book...and if you are like me and have been burned once or twice by her past books...go ahead and give this one a try...it will redeem her that's for sure :) 
 

I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I read this smutty book...and even more embarrassed to admit that I liked it. I honestly put this book on hold months ago (before it was released) because I loved "The Devil Wears Prada" and I figured "why not?" I had no idea what this book was about going into it...but quickly discovered that it was the epitome of beach reads. A professional tennis player who is quickly thrust into the spotlight and ends up in a love-triangle of sorts. There isn't much to the story...but entertaining at the very least :) 

That's all I have for this month...and I have to say I am a little concerned about August. Back to School teacher exhaustion is a real thing...and I am hoping I can keep my eyes open long enough to get in my 4 books :) 

However, if not...it's probably okay because as I did a quick check-in with my progress on my reading challenge...


Sunday, July 31, 2016

One Year Anniversary Extravaganza

While we would have loved to celebrate our one year anniversary by returning to our honeymoon location...






we decided to be a little more practical and stay stateside :) Although, Mexico is in the plans for our 5 year anniversary...I'm putting that in writing here so I can use it as leverage in 4 years :)

Our anniversary extravaganza plans all began when we got a text from my Aunt asking for a quick video of us wishing my little cousin Maddi happy birthday. My aunt was planning on putting together a little video to share with her at her Sweet 16 party.

Well, AJ and I got to talking, and since his sister lives outside of Chicago and only about an hour away from my Aunt and Uncle, we decided that we should make the trip to surprise my cousin for her birthday, all while fitting in some time with Jenni and Evan AND getting a few days in the city to celebrate our anniversary...

 And that ladies and gentlemen is how "Anniversary Extravaganza" was born! 


We got on the road bright and early Wednesday morning...


 With one minor hiccup along the way...


yep, here we are...at the Chevy dealership in Hannibal, Missouri. My trusty Cruze, who was recently paid off I might add, decided to add some excitement to our trip when the check engine light came on. No one panicked (much) and after about 30 minutes in the dealership waiting room we got GREAT news...it was just a sensor and nothing that needed to be replaced right away! 

ON THE ROAD AGAIN! 


We got to Jenni and Evan's a little later than expected...but we were welcomed by this cute little bottle of champagne in our "suite" for the night. I seriously have the most thoughtful sister in law #ShesTheBest


We quickly got cleaned up and headed in town for dinner...


We got a quick show from Elvis...
 
and then had dinner at the infamous Mickey Finns. We have tried to eat there the last 2 times we were in Chicago and both times they were closed. We can finally mark that off the "to do" list...although, I can't say we won't be back :) 


After dinner we headed home for some beers and catching up. It was so nice to sneak in some time with family...but as usual it just wasn't long enough! 

The next morning we got up bright and early and headed to the train station to go into the city. We decided to leave our car at Jenni and Evan's because it's $52 a night to park your car at the hotel...yep, we learned that the hard way during the Chicago Marathon! 

 

We got checked into our hotel...


 took a quick hotel room selfie....

 
and checked out the killer views :) 

After taking a little nap/rest, we headed out to take on the city! We decided that even with the heat we would make the walk to the Shedd Aquarium...spoiler alert #BadIdea


We stopped at the fountains in the park for another quick selfie (Fun fact: I remember these fountains from the finish line of the marathon. This was where I had 4 billion things in my hands...beer included...and couldn't see the screen on my phone or get a hold of AJ and the rest of the clan to figure out where the were. I sat down right here by the fountains and pulled myself together...as much as one can after 26.2 mile) 

We hoofed it a few hundred more miles (and gallons of sweat) only to show up at the aquarium to a REALLY long line. At that point there was no way we could be outside a minute longer so we headed over to the Field Museum (good thing they were close together!) There was a decent line there, but it was inside so we didn't mind! 



We were greeted at the door by Chuck Testa's greatest masterpiece (If you don't know who that is...check him out on YouTube and thank me later)
 


The Field Museum was the attraction I was most looking forward to, and it did NOT disappoint! 


 We pulled out the selfie stick for the final time during the trip and took this disaster of a photo. Who knew we were so selfie stick incapable?


My favorite part might have been Egypt 3-D...but mostly because it was dark and cool and no one could tell that I took a quick little cat-nap :) #TouristingIsHardWork

After the Field Museum we headed over to the Shedd Aquarium and since we had purchased the "City Pass" we were able to jump in a MUCH shorter line that began indoors #PraiseJesus


 The aquarium was hands down my favorite thing from our weekend...which is why I only took one photo. #TooBusyCheckingOutTheFish

After the aquarium we headed back to our rooms to get cleaned up (i.e. apply deodorant) and head to the pier. 

The Navy Pier has been on of those places I have wanted to go for YEARS...so to say I was excited was an understatement.


The pier was everything I imagined it to be and more...and the best part was the temperatures cooled off and the breeze from the lake was heavenly! 

 
AJ immediately headed for the Ferris Wheel...and while I have always thought I wanted to ride it...I began to have some second thoughts...You guys...this thing is HUGE! 


AJ talked me off the ledge...and pointed out that there were lots of children in line playing it MUCH cooler than I ;)


Turns out, I panicked for nothing...the Ferris Wheel was not only completely enclosed and air conditioned, but it didn't sway or rock at all. I felt totally at ease up there...#NotThatIHadAnyDoubts ;)

 I tried to get a good shot that showed how high up we were...instead I got this goofy shot of my husband :) #NeverADullMoment







Words can't describe how beautiful the lake, the city skyline, and the pier were from the Ferris Wheel at sunset! The Navy Pier is a MUST that's for sure! 



After the Ferris Wheel we headed to Giordano's for some pizza! We've been before, but it was on SPD 2 years ago and no one was in a good enough place to wait 45 minutes for pizza, if you know what I mean :)





45 minutes seems like an awfully long time to wait for a pizza, but trust me when I say...it's worth it :) 

Day 2 started a little later due to our amazing hotel room...nothing beats a king size bed, blackout curtains, and 60 degree temps!

We definitely learned our lesson from day 1 and decided that public transportation was the way to go. Luckily, the train station was close by and would take us within a quarter of a mile to the Science Museum. 

However, being the public transport newbies that we are...we struggled a bit...

 (AJ's face in this picture says it all!)

but we made it and we are still married...so I call that a success in my books :) 

Luckily, the Science Museum was worth every second of public transportation chaos...





  
Seriously, one of the coolest places I have ever been! I thought my head was going to explode with all the information...don't worry...I let it leak out and have retained nothing I learned on that day :) 


 With our City Pass we got tickets to this "really cool" flight simulator (can you hear the sarcasm) I may or may not have yelped a few times...the pilot was rather reckless...but we survived to see another day ;) 

 I took these next few photos for my loyal blog reader and friend, Laura...
 


Who knew the history of bikes was so extensive...and cool -probably Nicholas, but that is besides the point ;) 

After a few hours at the Science Museum we headed down the street for lunch...
 


I know not everyone agrees, but I love graffiti, and this was some of the best I have ever seen! 


Lunch was a little hole in the wall Greek restaurant that is apparently "all the rage" among the college students. Neither of us were disappointed in the slightest! A Gyro salad was an excellent choice! 

We finished lunch pretty quickly and had a few minutes to kill before the train came so we checked out this used book store...

 

I never wanted to leave...seriously, there were THOUSANDS of books EVERYWHERE! #BookNerdParadise

After being drug out of the book store, we headed to the train station so we could spend some time at the Chicago Art Institute. 

 

Unfortunately, because we had spent so much time at the Science Museum we arrived only an hour before they closed. However, since we had purchased the City Pass we figured we might as well see what we could! 



We will definitely be coming back and spending an entire day here! It was amazing! 

After the Art Museum we headed back to our room to get cleaned up for our "anniversary dinner"

We made reservations at The Grillroom Chophouse and Wine Bar...it had good reviews and was right across the street from our hotel...which was really appealing at that point because we were exhausted and couldn't bear another Uber or train ride! 

 

I had the BEST mac and cheese I have ever had in my life...


And we toasted to an incredible year :) 

After dinner we wanted ice cream (although I wasn't sure I could stuff any more into my already full tummy) so we headed down the street to Baskin Robbins...unfortunately, they were closed...

 
So we settled for a Snickers ice cream bar back in the hotel room while we watched "10 Things I Hate About You" and went to bed by 10PM #WatchOut #WeCrazy

The next morning we got up, conquered public transportation yet again, and hopped on the train back to our car so we could head to my cousins birthday :)


I can't believe this sweet girl is 16 years old...and DRIVING! It was so fun to surprise her...and I am not sure who enjoyed it more...her or us :) Seeing her face as we pulled into the driveway was PRICELESS! 

Overall, our "Anniversary Extravaganza" was a total success! 
We certainly rang in one year of marriage in style :)