Friday, December 30, 2022

Favorite Books of 2022

Hello there! We are wrapping up another year, which means it's time for the end-of-year book review. I know book reviews are everywhere this time of year, but I love each and every one of them. I love to see what books other people are reading and their honest opinions of what was a hit, or what was a miss. 

My goal was to read 40 books this year, and YIKES... I didn't even come close. I started the year strong, but then in October and November I think I read one book total. Fast forward to December and I was able to squeeze 3 books in, so I guess you can say I was trying to play catch up!

Each year when I do my book review, I break my books down into different genres. This way, if there is a particular genre that is up your alley, you can skip straight to that section. This year my genres will be thriller, historical fiction, and fiction. I was only planning to do my top 5, but I had 7 that were fantastic and couldn't narrow it down.. so top 7 it is!


Little Secrets-- 

"Marin had the perfect life. Married to her college sweetheart, she owns a chain of upscale hair salons, and Derek runs his own company. They're admired in their community and are a loving family—until their world falls apart the day their son, Sebastian, is taken.

A year later, Marin is a shadow of herself. The FBI search has gone cold. The publicity has faded. She and her husband rarely speak. She hires a PI to pick up where the police left off, but instead of finding Sebastian, she learns that Derek is having an affair with a younger woman. This discovery sparks Marin back to life. She's lost her son; she's not about to lose her husband, too. Kenzie is an enemy with a face, which means this is a problem Marin can fix.


This was the first book I read in 2022 and we started the year off with a bang!! This book will hook you from the beginning and keep your interest throughout the whole book. 

The Paris Apartment--

"Jess needs a fresh start. She’s broke and alone, and she’s just left her job under less than ideal circumstances. Her half brother, Ben, didn’t sound thrilled when she asked if she could crash with him for a bit, but he didn’t say no, and surely everything will look better from Paris. Only when she shows up—to find a very nice apartment, could Ben really have afforded this?—he’s not there.

The longer Ben stays missing, the more Jess starts to dig into her brother’s situation, and the more questions she has. Ben’s neighbors are an eclectic bunch and not particularly friendly. Jess may have come to Paris to escape her past, but it’s starting to look like it’s Ben’s future that’s in question.

The socialite. The nice guy. The alcoholic. The girl on the verge. The concierge.

Everyone's a neighbor. Everyone's a suspect. And everyone knows something they’re not telling."

I loved all the twists and turns in this book. Just when you thought you had it figured out, something else would happen and throw you off. 

Local Woman Missing-- 

"People don't just disappear without a trace…

Shelby Tebow is the first to go missing. Not long after, Meredith Dickey and her six-year-old daughter, Delilah, vanish just blocks away from where Shelby was last seen, striking fear into their once-peaceful community. Are these incidents connected? After an elusive search that yields more questions than answers, the case eventually goes cold.

Now, eleven years later, Delilah shockingly returns. Everyone wants to know what happened to her, but no one is prepared for what they'll find…"

Mary Kubica strikes again. She is one of my favorite authors, and for good reason-- she does not disappoint! This is one of those books where you stay up too late reading at night only to wake up early just so you can read again. 

Historical Fiction:

"In the spring of 1942, young Elzbieta Rabinek is aware of the swiftly growing discord just beyond the courtyard of her comfortable Warsaw home. She has no fondness for the Germans who patrol her streets and impose their curfews, but has never given much thought to what goes on behind the walls that contain her Jewish neighbors. She knows all too well about German brutality - and that it's the reason she must conceal her true identity. But in befriending Sara, a nurse who shares her apartment floor, Elzbieta makes a discovery that propels her into a dangerous world of deception and heroism.

Using Sara's credentials to smuggle children out of the ghetto brings Elzbieta face-to-face with the reality of the war behind its walls, and to the plight of the Gorka family, who must make the impossible decision to give up their newborn daughter or watch her starve. For Roman Gorka, this final injustice stirs him to rebellion with a zeal not even his newfound love for Elzbieta can suppress. But his recklessness brings unwanted attention to Sara's cause, unwittingly putting Elzbieta and her family in harm's way until one violent act threatens to destroy their chance at freedom forever. "

This book was very hard to read at times, but is one of those books that I kept mentally going back to as I went about my day. I have read dozens of historical fiction novels about the atrocities of WW2, and while these books obviously discuss the very dark and sinister things going on at that time, they often show glimmers of hope in the people who stepped up to help strangers. This is one of those books. Despite the repercussions had she been caught, Elzbieta and her friends risk their lives to help people they had never met. It is heartbreaking. It is moving. It is a very powerful read.

The Things We Cannot Say-- 

"In 1942, Europe remains in the relentless grip of war. Just beyond the tents of the Russian refugee camp she calls home, a young woman speaks her wedding vows. It’s a decision that will alter her destiny...and it’s a lie that will remain buried until the next century. 

Since she was nine years old, Alina Dziak knew she would marry her best friend, Tomasz. Now 15 and engaged, Alina is unconcerned by reports of Nazi soldiers at the Polish border, believing her neighbors that they pose no real threat, and dreams instead of the day Tomasz returns from college in Warsaw so they can be married. But little by little, injustice by brutal injustice, the Nazi occupation takes hold, and Alina’s tiny rural village, its families, are divided by fear and hate. Then, as the fabric of their lives is slowly picked apart, Tomasz disappears. Where Alina used to measure time between visits from her beloved, now, she measures the spaces between hope and despair, waiting for word from Tomasz and avoiding the attentions of the soldiers who patrol her parents’ farm. But for now, even deafening silence is preferable to grief. 

Slipping between Nazi-occupied Poland and the frenetic pace of modern life, Kelly Rimmer creates an emotional and finely wrought narrative. The Things We Cannot Say is an unshakable reminder of the devastation when truth is silenced...and how it can take a lifetime to find our voice before we learn to trust it." 

This book was so wonderfully written, you felt like you were right there with the characters. Kelly Rimmer took the time to develop the characters and helped you to connect with each of them. Once I fell in love with each character, I couldn't put the book down. I needed to know how it ended for them!

Dreams of Joy-- 

"Reeling from newly uncovered family secrets, and anger at her mother and aunt for keeping them from her, Joy runs away to Shanghai in early 1957 to find her birth father—the artist Z.G. Li, with whom both May and Pearl were once in love. Dazzled by him, and blinded by idealism and defiance, Joy throws herself into the New Society of Red China, heedless of the dangers in the communist regime. 

Devastated by Joy’s flight and terrified for her safety, Pearl is determined to save her daughter, no matter the personal cost. From the crowded city to remote villages, Pearl confronts old demons and almost insurmountable challenges as she follows Joy, hoping for reconciliation. Yet even as Joy’s and Pearl’s separate journeys converge, one of the most tragic episodes in China’s history threatens their very lives."

This book had the makeup to be a perfect book for me. Historical fiction? Check. A time period/setting I'm not already familiar with? Check. Well-developed, likable characters who you keep rooting for throughout the entire novel? Check. I loved everything about this book and cannot recommend it enough. 

The author told the story of what it was like to be in the People's Republic of China as Mao and the Communist party were taking over, which is unlike anything else I had ever read. The main character, Joy, is a 19 year old Chinese-American citizen who goes off to college and hears a glamorized version of how Communism has saved the PRC. After a fight with her mom and aunt, she leaves California to go find her father in Shanghai. Once she arrives in China she realizes that her pro-communism friends in the US were only telling one side of the story, as she witnesses some of the most tragic parts of China's history. 


Carrie Soto is Back-- I just finished this one a couple weeks ago and LOVED it! You know that feeling when you're watching a nail-biter football game and you can't wait to find out who wins? That was how this whole book felt-- I was on the edge of my seat waiting to find out who would win each tennis match. 

"Carrie Soto is fierce, and her determination to win at any cost has not made her popular. But by the time she retires from tennis, she is the best player the world has ever seen. She has shattered every record and claimed twenty Grand Slam titles. And if you ask Carrie, she is entitled to every one. She sacrificed nearly everything to become the best, with her father, Javier, as her coach. A former champion himself, Javier has trained her since the age of two.

But six years after her retirement, Carrie finds herself sitting in the stands of the 1994 US Open, watching her record be taken from her by a brutal, stunning player named Nicki Chan.

At thirty-seven years old, Carrie makes the monumental decision to come out of retirement and be coached by her father for one last year in an attempt to reclaim her record. Even if the sports media says that they never liked “the Battle-Axe” anyway. Even if her body doesn’t move as fast as it did. And even if it means swallowing her pride to train with a man she once almost opened her heart to: Bowe Huntley. Like her, he has something to prove before he gives up the game forever.

In spite of it all, Carrie Soto is back, for one epic final season. In this riveting and unforgettable novel, Taylor Jenkins Reid tells her most vulnerable, emotional story yet."

And now I'd love to hear from you what some of your favorite books were! Are there any books you would recommend I add to my list for 2023?

I hope you all have a safe and wonderful New Year's Eve-- See you back here in 2023!

Monday, December 26, 2022

Skiing in Steamboat Springs Colorado

 Good morning friends! I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas or a Happy Hanukkah. The past few days have been filled with family time, and each year as I get older I am more and more grateful for my incredible family. There are 10 of us together to celebrate Christmas and my gosh, we are a LOUD, energetic bunch but I was telling Devin last night, I can’t remember the last time I smiled or laughed this consistently for days on end. I am thankful for everyone’s health and praying for many more years of us celebrating together. 

Just like many of the rest of you, we have been busy these past few weeks! We had all the busy craziness of wrapping up school and then immediately hopped on a plane to Colorado. Today I want to briefly recap our trip. We left for Colorado on Friday, December 16th and flew home on Wednesday, December 21st. Unfortunately poor Liam had a little tummy bug and fever for a portion of our trip, so we don’t have nearly as many pictures of him-- poor guy! We were there with Devin’s parents and I was grateful for the extra help so we could rotate who was helping Liam and who was out playing with LG. 

Alrighty, time to recap!

At 3:00 am on Friday the 16th, our alarms went off. You all know that I am an early bird, so that didn’t bother me one bit! Thankfully it didn’t seem to bother the kids either… they were excited and ready to go! 

Friday, December 23, 2022

Top 15 Amazon Purchases of 2022

 Happy Christmas Eve Eve friends! Is your house buzzing with excitement too? Our kids are PUMPED about Christmas and the excitement is certainly contagious. We just got back from a wonderful trip to Colorado, and today we are heading up to Blowing Rock to celebrate Christmas with my family. I am looking forward to spending some good quality time with the whole fam. 

Today I wanted to share a roundup of my "best Amazon purchases of 2022". This was a post I did last year and it ended up being a hit-- so I'm bringing it back! I am saving my top 3 favorite/most used purchases for last, so make sure you read all the way through to the bottom of this post!

Friday, December 16, 2022

Parenting an ADHD Kiddo

 Good morning friends and happy Friday! Are you on break yet? Liam and I had our last day Wednesday and while technically today was supposed to be LG's last day, we are currently on an airplane to snowy Colorado! Woohoo! 

I was initially very hesitant to write today's post, but I've had a few of you reach out to me via email about ADHD or with ADHD related questions... and since this is something I get asked about by people in person frequently too, I figured it couldn't hurt to write a post about it. There is a lot of misinformation out there about what ADHD actually is, so I figured I'd clear a bit up before we begin. 

I don't want to share too much personal info about LG on the internet for the whole world to see, so I will intentionally keep some of this vague. If you have any further questions though, please feel free to email me ( And in order to break up this super long post, I will be adding in some cute pictures of our little bundle of energy over the years. 😍

Monday, December 12, 2022

Not Just a Mom: Loving Lately

 Good morning friends! I hope you had a nice weekend. We had a busy, but wonderful weekend. Starting with a birthday dinner with some of my favorite people ever:

Friday, December 9, 2022

Life Lately-- Christmas-y Version

 Hello friends! I hope you've all had a nice week. Just like the rest of you, we have been busy around here! I wanted to update you on all the fun we've been having. 

First up: baking cookies! We baked our first batch of Christmas cookies a couple weeks ago and the kids had a blast. We made some traditional Christmas ones (trees, angels, gingerbread men, etc.), but then the kids pulled out other random cookie cutters too. Liam baked several cat cookies and LG made several baby stroller cookies. 😆 They are certainly creative!

Monday, December 5, 2022

December Goals

 Good morning friends and happy Monday! I hope you all had a nice weekend. Ours was busy and packed with Christmas fun. On Saturday morning we met Santa, and it was the easiest/most fun year yet. Lily Grace wrote a list of her and Liam's toys and read the list to Santa. 

Friday, December 2, 2022

What I'm Priming: November

 Hello there and happy Friday! I hope you all had a nice week. Our week flew by, which is always a good thing, right? We have no complaints! Today I am sharing what I Primed in November. Here's a look:
Wednesday, November 30, 2022

What's Up Wednesday

 Good morning friends and happy What's Up Wednesday. 

Monday, November 28, 2022

From a Floridian Thanksgiving to a Flu-Ridden Thanksgiving

 Good morning friends and welcome back after the holiday weekend! I hope you all had a lovely time celebrating with your families. Our Thanksgiving plans did not turn out like we had originally planned, but we still had a very nice weekend and have much to be thankful for!

Last Sunday, the 20th, Lily Grace started feeling a little under the weather. Liam had a cold the week before so we didn't think too much of it. Then, Monday morning, I woke up to a text message from one of LG's classmates' moms:

"Good morning everyone. Just a heads up because I'd want to know with the upcoming holiday, but (her son) tested positive for the flu on Sunday afternoon."

Uh oh. 

LG was sleeping in, which should've been clue #1 because she's our early riser... when she finally woke up she had a temperature of 101.5. We called the pediatrician to make an appointment and were told there were no appointments available, and to try Urgent Care. We tried Urgent Care's website, again, no appointments available until Tuesday. (Is this happening in your area too? EVERYONE is sick right now!) We gave her some medicine which brought her fever down a little bit, but she ended up peaking at 103.5. On Tuesday morning, her fever had broken, but when we took her to her Urgent Care appointment she tested positive for the flu. 


We were supposed to be visiting Devin's 94-year-old grandmother for Thanksgiving. We obviously could not take the flu to grandma. She did not currently have a fever, so the doctor told us she was safe to be around people once she was fever free for 24 hours. Since she didn't currently have a fever and we were staying in an AirB&B in Florida anyway, we figured we would drive there and hunker down in the AirB&B until she passed the 24 hour mark. She napped while we packed up the car, and then at the very last second Devin woke her up and put her in the car. I turned around to back out of the driveway and saw our sweet girl was miserable again. I said "Devin look at her, I think her fever is back." Sure enough, she was 101.5. We decided to stick it out at home until we passed the 24 hour fever-free mark. We snapped this pic to send to the family we were supposed to be meeting in Florida:

Monday, November 21, 2022

End of the Year Declutter Challenge-- So Far

 Hello friends and happy Monday before Thanksgiving! Do you have plans for the holiday? We will be driving to Florida tomorrow night to visit Devin's grandmother and some aunts, uncles, and cousins. It should be a lot of fun! Devin's grandma is 94 and still such a firecracker. I am looking forward to spending some good quality time with her.

Friday, November 18, 2022

What I've Been Wearing Lately

 Hi there! How was your week? This was the first "normal" week we've had in awhile and it felt so good to be back in our normal routine. Just in time for the craziness of the holidays ahead! Today I am sharing a few outfits I've worn lately, including a few that could make for some cute Thanksgiving outfits if you're looking for something to wear next week!

Monday, November 14, 2022

Not Just a Mom: Internet Made Me Buy It

 Hello there everyone and happy Monday! I hope you all had a nice weekend. Our kiddos had parent teacher conferences last week so they've been out of school for 4 days. I LOVED having this extra time with both of them at home. Now that they are both in school 5 days a week I feel like I hardly see them. An added bonus is that they were both very ready to go back to school and see their friends again today. 😃

Today the Not Just a Mom group is linking up to share "Internet Made Me Buy It." I am almost embarrassed to admit I feel like this is 85% of what I buy. This could be the world's longest post, but I'm trying to keep it to 8 or so items-- and a random hodgepodge at that!

I am no stranger to an impulse buy and these dang influencers/bloggers get me way too often! That being said, every once in a while I feel like I totally got swindled (anyone else?) so not only am I sharing my impulse buys... but I'm ranking them. A 5/5 means "great purchase, very happy I bought it, would totally buy it again". A 1/5 means "I can't believe I fell for that". 🙈 This could be fun, right? Let's have a look:

Friday, November 11, 2022

Thanksgiving Crafts for Kids

 Hello friends and happy Friday! Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away, and we are in full Thanksgiving craft mode over here! Don't get me wrong, I love me some Christmas crafts/decorations/activities, but this year I am trying to make sure we don't forget all about Thanksgiving. There are a lot of fun Thanksgiving activities too! The beauty of being a preschool teacher is that we have been making a bunch of crafts at school, which means I have been bringing some craft ideas home to do with my own kiddos too! Or, I have LG make the example craft for my preschoolers. Here's a look at a few of the ones we have already done:

Monday, November 7, 2022

Monthly Goals: November

 Hello friends and happy Monday! I hope you all had a nice weekend. This past weekend was my annual girls trip with my two best friends and it was a DREAM.


Friday, November 4, 2022

31 Days of Skeleton Antics, 2022

 Oh hi there friends and happy Friday! Just like many of the rest of you, I am READY to get into Christmas mode. Devin used to be really big on "no Christmas decorations until after Thanksgiving," but over the past few years he has realized that we spend way too much time putting the decorations up only to enjoy them for a few weeks.  We are of the mind that if you're going to go through all the effort of putting them up, you might as well put them up earlier and enjoy it a little longer.

But before we move on to the next big holiday, I want to show you what our skeletons were up to in the month of October. If you don't already know, we have a family of skeletons that we put up in our front yard every October. Every single day we change them so they are doing a different activity. We have a lot of fun with them! 

Come and check out what the Skelly family was up to this October:

Monday, October 31, 2022

What's In My Fridge? A Healthy Snack Haul to Setup for a Healthy Week (Or At Least An Attempt at One)

 Hello friends and happy Halloween! We are all buzzing with energy over here today planning to soak up all the Halloween fun! Today is going to be a GREAT day! Lily Grace gets to wear her costume to school for a Halloween parade, then her class party is later in the day. After school, my parents will stop by to see the kiddos and have dinner with us before we head out to trick or treat! It will be a very busy, but wonderful day. Needless to say, I am happy we all have off school on Tuesday. 😅


Well now we are officially in the heat of the unhealthy food/overindulging season and since I know we will be gobbling up all the tasty but unhealthy foods that seem to surround us, I am trying to offset that by loading up our fridge with healthy snacks. I don't know about you, but I seem to struggle with grabbing whatever is easiest when I'm hungry or in a rush. Whatever is easiest isn't usually the most nourishing food for my body, and I almost always end up feeling sluggish/junky afterwards. I am trying to prevent that as much as possible as we move forward. It's all a balance right? It's totally fine to hack into your kids' Halloween candy if you're having some veggies throughout the day too. 😉

In an effort to plan ahead, I have been trying to wash/prep all our snacks for the week on Sundays. I've been doing this for the past month now and it has honestly been a huge time saver. This new habit was born out of necessity since Devin had been traveling a lot and I needed to make it as easy as possible to prep meals while single-momming it. It's easier to throw some fajitas together if your veggies are already sliced, ya know? This also makes it easier to grab a snack on the go, or to pack lunches when I am tired or trying to multitask. Here's a look at our fridge this week:

Friday, October 28, 2022

Prime Purchases: October

 Hello Hello friends! I hope you've all had a good week and are ready to head into a fun weekend of Halloween celebrations! 

Today I am sharing my Amazon purchases for the month of October, and holy guacamole... let's just say the title of this post could've been "October 2022, The Month I Spent All of Our Money." I don't know what it was, but apparently October was the month I needed to buy 100 things. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

What's Up Wednesday

 Hello hello and happy almost November! I am happy to be blogging along with Sheaffer and Shay for What's Up Wednesday today. Let's get to it!

Friday, October 21, 2022

Getting the Groove Back

 Hello friends and happy Friday! I hope you've all had a nice week and a nice taste of fall wherever you are! Today's post is coming to you from a mom who saw the meme below this week and felt seen 😆:

Friday, October 14, 2022

A Day in the Life of Us-- Back to Work!

 Good morning friends and happy Friday!! Today I am sharing our first "Day in the Life" since the school year has begun. Life has been BUSY around here, but in a good way! We have finally settled into our new routine and things are working out very nicely. The day I chose to document for you was less busy than typical because we didn't have anything going on after school. Those days are the best! Without further ado, here's a look at this past Tuesday:

My alarm went off bright and early at 4:30. I wanted to get a little exercise in on this day, and 4:30 is the only time I have been able to find on weekdays. So I woke up, rolled out of bed, made a to-go cup of coffee and headed to the gym. 

The beauty of going to the gym right when it opens at 5 is that I pretty much have the place to myself. No competing for space on the track!

A successful run in the books, now time to go home and shower!

I was able to get showered and dressed before the kids woke up. Then, like I'm sure it is at your house, it's all hands on deck to get everyone fed, dressed, teeth brushed, hair brushed, backpacks packed and out the door! I won't lie to you, there have been some mornings I've broken an actual sweat trying to get it all done in a timely manner. 😅

Then, Devin took both kids to go drop Lily Grace off at school. Even though Liam doesn't go to the same school as her, we let him go along for the car ride while I try to get some stuff done around the house. I was able to unload the dishwasher, throw in a load of laundry, make everyone's bed and get dinner in the crockpot:


Then I went out to check on the skeletons:

We put them out at night for the following day and sometimes it's hard to see in the dark. I wanted to make sure everything looked as it should, and it did! It was basketball day. 😊

Then Devin and Liam came home from carpool, and Liam had a little snack before school:

While he snacked, I got our things packed up and then he and I headed out the back door, opened up our back gate...

...took 30 or so steps, rounded the corner, and we arrived in the school parking lot. Not a bad commute, huh? 

I didn't take any pictures during the school day, but Liam and I were there from roughly 8:15-1:00. Then Liam went to soccer after school. I picked him up from the field behind the school at 1:30.

Then we grabbed an afternoon snack, loaded up in the car, and headed to go pick up Lily Grace at school:
We grabbed our girlie and headed back home to play!
We played outside for a bit:

Then we checked on the chili, and made some cornbread:

While the cornbread was baking, Lily Grace started on her homework...
...while Liam played with his HexBugs. Do you know what HexBugs are? Liam is obsessed with them!

Then Devin came home, we had dinner, and went for a family bike/scooter ride.

After that it was a whirlwind of bath time, pajamas on, teeth brushed, stories read, and bedtime. Both kids were out cold by 6:45 (the beauty of long days and no naps!), so I went out to run a few errands.
I needed a few fall candles for gifts and some dry shampoo from Ulta. Then I headed to the grocery store to pick up a few items, including these pretzels:
Have you had these? Our family LOVES them! Liam calls them "spicy pretzels" and while I can't say they are spicy, they definitely have a strong seasoning flavor to them. We can demolish a bag in 24 hours. 😆

Then I came home and started making lunches for the following day.
While Devin set out the skeletons for the following day. Then we reconvened with some "spicy" pretzels and wine to watch a little tv. 
It was a day well spent and it's safe to say we all slept like rocks at the end of it! 

Today I am linking up with Andrea and Erika for Friday Favorites. Have a great weekend!