2020 Reading List

I’m logging all of the books I read this year in an attempt to focus on reading more and celebrating each little victory as I hit “the end.” I love a combination of fiction, nonfiction, and all around feel good books. I also love to read a variety of children’s and preteen books as well to help spread a love of literacy among children. So don’t be surprised if you see a few of those in this list as well. ? Feel free to share some recommendations in the comments.. I’ll post as I go.. so scroll down and check out what I’ve read so far in 2020:

  1. Polly and Buster – They Mystery of the Magic Stones (completed Jan 1)
  2. Polly and Buster – The Search for the Silver Witch (started and completed Jan 4)
  3. The Missing Bookshop (started and completed Jan 5)
  4. Sophie Takes to the Sky (started and completed Jan 16)
  5. Roses’s Dress of Dreams (started and completed Jan 17)
  6. The Extraordinary Life of Anne Frank (started and completed Jan 20)
  7. 48 Hours : The Vanishing (completed March 25)
  8. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: The Illustrated Edition (Book 1) Completed May 17
  9. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: The Illustrated Edition (Book 2) Completed May 29
  10. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: The Illustrated Edition (Book 3)
  11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: The Illustrated Edition (Book 4) Completed July 6
  12. Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix (Book 5) Completed July
  13. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Book 6)
  14. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7) Completed August 6

Nap Time. Baby Book Time.

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Nap time and bed time often mean baby book time around here. I’m slowly trying to keep the girls’ baby books updated so I don’t forget the early days while they still feel somewhat recent.. emphasis on “somewhat.” 9 months seems like a long time and most of it definitely has become a blur. Thankfully I use a baby book that doesn’t seem overwhelming, the pages and prompts are simple- and I love the sleek modern design. Mushybooks has become one of my favorite baby items and I use them for all of our kid’s baby books.

When you order a Mushybook you choose your design and then it arrives with a nice cover protector. The baby book covers everything you could need from birth to 1 year. Bonus features include additional pages for showers, toddler years and more. I just completed the first toddler page for Jude now that he has turned 2.

For the pictures in all of the books I like Social Print Studio (formerly Printstagram). Social Print Studio pulls from your Instagram account (or your camera roll and albums if using the iPhone app) and gives you the ability to select the photos you want to print. I use their 4×4 square photo option to print pictures. 24 pictures for $12 (plus $6 shipping) isn’t horrible. Especially if you plan out the pictures you need for each page ahead of time and knock it all out in one or two packs of 24. The pictures are a matte finish and arrive on a thick white paper. I love how they hold up and I love how they match the modern look of the Mushybooks.

I’m an overall happy customer and big fan.


Twins, Triplets and Quads

Soon after we found out we were expecting twins I immediately reached out to one of my friends and co-workers, Ellen, who has 18 month old twin boys, as well as a 4 year old sibling. I figured she would know better than anyone exactly what I was about to experience and what I could expect!

The first thing Ellen recommended was that I read the book, When You’re Expecting Twins,Unknown Triplets, or Quads by Dr. Barbara Luke & Tamara Eberlein. I immediately dove in and have learned A TON already. This book focuses on a  nutritionally based prenatal program for women pregnant with multiples. It even includes diet and exercise recommendations for the postpartum mother as well as recipes and step by step guidance for each trimester of your multiple pregnancy. I recently went and visited a nutritionist as well and even though she rolled her eyes at the mention of this book both the nutritionist and the book gave the same advice as to how to successfully nourish your body and your babies to a full term pregnancy.

If you are expecting twins, triplets or quads I HIGHLY recommend this book. But to get you started here is a list of some of my top learnings:

General Facts about Twin Pregnancy:

  • Women age 30 or older are significantly more likely to carry their twins for at least 35 weeks compared to younger women.
  • Adequate maternal weight gain is associated with significantly better fetal growth, longer length of gestation, and higher birth weights, as well as better childhood growths.
  • One third of all twin pairs are identical (that’s our girls!). Identical twins share 100 percent of their genes and always are the same sex and have same basic physical features.

Nutrition Goals for Twin Pregnancy:

  • Weight gain goal (if normal weight pre-pregnancy): 40-45 lb
    • 24 of those pounds by 24 weeks
    • 7-9 lb per week
    • If you lose weight during first trimester due to morning sickness then those pounds you lost and re-gained don’t count. It’s a total of 40-45 lb from your original starting weight
  • Goal is to consume 3,500 calories per day for twin pregnancy
  • Eat often! Daily Meal Pattern should include 7 “meals” per day!
    • Breakfast | Snack | Lunch | Snack | Snack | Dinner | Snack
    • Focus on small, frequent meals as opposed to fewer large meals
    • Always eat protein first, then veggies and fruits and then starches
    • Always eat protein and carbohydrates together in every snack and every meal
  • Goal: 100 grams of protein/day
    • I accomplish that with the help of UNJURY – a medical grade protein powder mixed with milk – 30 grams of protein in one 8 oz glass!
    • Each meal or snack should contain protein
  • Eat a bedtime snack that includes dairy
  • As with any pregnancy avoid: alcohol, deli meats, sushi, more than 6 oz of tuna per week, and unpasteurized cheeses


IMG_2224This is my reading spot. For over a year after we moved into our home I dreamt and planned the perfect spot and the perfect chair to sit and read – my own little oasis in our home. It’s the perfect spot to lean back with my legs propped up, blanket snuggled around me and coffee and a good book in each of my hands (for a brief hour during nap time of course – but I’ll take whatever I can get).  This morning I’ve found myself diving into Shauna Niequist’s book bittersweet: thoughts on change, grace, and learning the hard way. A friend recommended this book to me and without knowing anything about it other than that title I instantly ordered it (thank you Amazon Prime) and dove in. I would normally wait and write a book review after I finished the book but after only a couple chapters in I couldn’t resist. Over the past 8 months we welcomed our first born and joy into our home, after a 3 month (which I highly recommend!) maternity leave at home I tried to figure out the balance between work and home and being an amazing wife and mother and friend and employee (not to mention daughter, sister, boss, etc). Shortly thereafter my husband quit his job to start his own business – a personal goal and dream of his – and around the same time my boss and dear friend of 8+ years made the tough decision to move himself and his family thousands of miles away to Arizona. One of my friends and co-workers announced she was leaving and another has begun plans to follow her husband to Mississippi. To say I was experiencing change in my life would be an understatement. I was experiencing A LOT of change and with it I became beyond sad and overwhelmed by everything happening at the exact same moment in my life. So much so that it has taken me months to even begin to write about it. Life and all of its changes instantly became bittersweet.

Bittersweet is the idea that in all things there is both something broken and something beautiful, that there is a sliver of lightness on even the darkest of nights, a shadow of hope in every heartbreak, and that rejoicing is no less rich when it contains a splinter of sadness…Bitter is what makes us strong, what forces us to push through, what helps us earn the lines on our faces and the calluses on our hands. Sweet is nice enough, but bittersweet is beautiful, nuanced, full of depth and complexity. Bittersweet is courageous, gutsy, earthy…

So that is where I’ve found myself. Right in the middle of bittersweet. Trying to be hopeful about that sliver of lightness but still trying to find my way out of the shadows. Change had taken over and my initial reaction was to resist it, until I started to learn the hard way that I needed to embrace it.

This is what I’ve come to believe about change: it’s good, in the way that childbirth is good, and heartbreak is good, and failure is good. By that I mean that it’s incredibly painful, exponentially more so if you fight it, and also that it has the potential to open you up, to open life up, to deliver you right into the palm of God’s hand…when life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow. 

And so that is why I wanted to write this post, as an encouragement for anyone going through a lot of change and wondering “how in the world am I ever going to get through this!” I’d love to encourage you to join me in reading bittersweet and then let me know what you think..until then I’m just going to stop trying to fight it and instead I’m going to choose to say thank you, and grow.


The Language of Flowers

Unknown“Who is Vanessa Diffenbaugh?” my husband would ask me with a huge grin on his face. “Huh? I have no idea.” Thinking he was asking me about his latest  Facebook friend request. “She’s the author of the book you’re supposed to be reading, the book that is supposed to be ‘Instantly entrancing.'” Oh right. That Vanessa Diffenbaugh.  One of my book club books, the Language of Flowers sat out on our coffee table for almost a month begging to be read yet I constantly found myself passing it up for some other interest or pressing demand. Finally I picked up this book about a week ago (just in time for my book club meeting only a couple days away) and honestly I couldn’t put it down. I’m not often drawn to anything having to do with flowers, but the interweaving of the Victorian language of flowers used to convey romantic expressions, and the story of Victoria, a young girl emancipated from the foster care system with a gift for helping others, proved to be a story I could not put down. In the end Victoria finds that while she not only helps her customers with the flowers she chooses for them, she finds herself confronting her past with the opportunity for a second chance at happiness.

Who is Vanessa Diffenbaugh? A gifted and talented author who instantly captured this non-flower loving reader through tears, tragedy, hope, family, romance, redemption and the Language of Flowers.


41x89JgXx4LI just finished the book Wonder by R.J. Palacio and loved it! Wonder is the story of a 5th grade boy with a facial deformity who after years of being homeschooled, starts at a regular school, Beecher Prep, for the first time. The book is told from the perspective of August, the main character, as well as several other people in his life. At first it was somewhat accidental that our book club decided to read this book, not realizing it was technically a 7th grade reading level book but WOW – I think the last few pages under the “Julian” chapter make this whole book well worth it. A tie in at the end that is completely unexpected. So if you want a quick read that is good for the soul I definitely recommend checking out Wonder.