June 12, 2016

Words cannot describe how much we miss you. Sorrow is not just for Shakespeare and poetry. I wish that my son had the chance to get to know you, his namesake. I love you more.

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Serafina and the Black Cloak

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I read a book! (I really need to do that more often.) And, I liked it a lot. It was a wonderful young adult novel called Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty.

Okay, well technically, the book is described as a middle-grade “spooky mystery-thriller.” Despite the middle-grade descriptor, I found Serafina and the Black Cloak to be a fun, whimsical tale of an unusual young girl named (you guessed it) Serafina who for some reason lives in secret in the basement of the Biltmore Mansion in Ashville, NC. Her father has hidden her presence from the world, and she only goes out in secret at nighttime to explore the mansion and catch rats. One night, she witnesses something supernatural, and from then on, her life is changed. It’s up to her to stop an evil that is spreading through the manor as it also leads her to uncover her own origins.

I loved this book and the story. I read it in within a day, which is rare for me, especially nowadays, even with books that are easy reads like this one. The story had a nice, quick pace, but never felt rushed. The author succeeded in the most important part of any story: making us care about the characters. While reading the book, I felt what Serafina felt and I cared about whether or not she a) found out the truth about herself and b) was able to defeat the book’s antagonist. I admit that I did guess the major reveal at some point in the middle of the book, but when it actually happened, I was satisfied. One other thing that helped a lot? My familiarity with the Biltmore itself. Even though I haven’t ever been there, I love their wine! But in all seriousness, being able to Google search for a map of the grounds because I knew it was a real place, written about by someone who is very familiar with the area and estate, helped get me more invested in the story.

If you are like me and are into fantasy young adult books, then I definitely recommend Serafina and the Black Cloak. It’s an easy read and a fun story. I already pre-ordered the next book in the series, Serafina and the Twisted Staff and am looking forward to reading it this summer. If you have already read this book, let me know in the comments! I’d love to discuss it.

Here’s a trailer for the book:

You can buy Serafina and the Black Cloak on Amazon.

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Eighteen years

Man. Eighteen years is a long time.  Children born on the day you left us can buy cigarettes and get tattoos. They are graduating high school and going to college in the fall. Incomprehensible. We are in a time vortex, right? Are we closer to fine yet?

We miss you always. We love you always. We honor you always.

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“Nothing ever so common.”
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Impossible.

You know how sometimes you have these moments that mean nothing to anyone else, but mean everything to you? I had that happen to me today. I haven’t gone for a walk in over a month, at least. This morning, Jay, Zach and I went to mass for the first time in a month or so. A portion of the Raleigh Greenway runs behind our church. Since I used to work near where our church is located, I used to walk that greenway almost daily for three years. It decreased a bit when I changed jobs in 2012, but I was still there at least once or twice a week. I haven’t walked there in a good year-and-a-half, but today, I really felt like I should do it. As I was walking, I came across this written on the ground:

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To add some context, my grandpa used to always say, “I love you more.” It’s actually written on his tombstone. Friday (March 11) marks his 85th birthday. Ever since he died, I’ve come across that phrase more than ever. But honestly, I’ve been struggling lately, and I needed to see that today.

I’ve thought long and hard about sharing this next story ever since it happened two months ago. After seeing that today, I decided that I will share. The below account was written right after it happened, so it is my initial reaction, and all details are true to immediate memory.

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Happy Zach on Snapchat

Zachary and I decided to have some fun on Snapchat yesterday while Jay went to pick up our pizza for dinner (Fridays during Lent are our perfect excuse!). We had many outtakes that I didn’t post so that it wouldn’t be overkill, but we kept recording them because he was having such a fun time. I figured I’d share a little bit here so anyone interested can see Zach’s adorable personality. He was in such a great mood all day yesterday. Love my little baby boy.

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Two for the Show

Well, it finally happened. After three years of plucking my little gray hair (I even changed my part to hide it!), two more finally grew back in its place…

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Put a fork in me. It’s all over now…

(jk)

Posted in Ramble/Ponder/Rant | 24 Comments

Let’s Try This Writing Challenge Thing Again

Jay and Zach got me this new book of writing prompts called “300 Writing Prompts” for Christmas. I have been flipping through it and it is waaaaaaay easier than the 641 Things to Write About Challenge. I’m not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing, lol. While a lot of those topics made me really think, these seem like they will be good for getting to know you and introspection, though some are similar to the old challenge. Anyway, I’m going to kick it off with the very first prompt given in the book. Please feel free to answer it yourself in the comments. 🙂

What’s your favorite way to spend a lazy day?

My favorite way to spend a day off is loading up my iPod with new podcasts and going for a nice, long walk. And by “nice, long walk,” I mean, a 2+ hour walk, haha. I love walking. It’s refreshing and calming and exhausting and accomplishing all at once for me. Going for a nice, long walk puts me right.However, since the question specifies “lazy day,” I’ll have to get into the mindset that lazy day = rainy day, haha. Honestly, my favorite way to spend a lazy day is in my pajamas watching Netflix or HGTV with Jay. (In this scenario, Zach is at school since let’s face it, there is no such thing as a ‘lazy day’ with a 20-month-old.) Bonus points if it’s late enough in the day to drink wine while doing so! When we lost

However, since the question specifies “lazy day,” and I don’t think that a 2+ hour walk qualifies as “lazy,” I’ll have to get into the mindset that lazy day = rainy day, haha. Honestly, my favorite way to spend a lazy day is in my pajamas watching Netflix or HGTV with Jay. (In this scenario, Zach is at school since let’s face it, there is no such thing as a ‘lazy day’ with a 20-month-old.) Bonus points if it’s late enough in the day to drink wine while doing so! When we lost Internet last month, we had one night where we stayed up for hours playing gin rummy and drinking bourbon. That was pretty awesome, even if the next morning wasn’t so awesome, haha. Ah, good times.

What’s your favorite way to spend a lazy day?

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The Adventures of Zach & Zoe: Part 18

They unwind after a busy day by sitting on mommy’s lap and watching nursery rhymes together…

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[Picture taken on Zach’s 20-month birthday, February 13, 2016.]

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So I Tried Prime Now…

So I figured my first step towards blogging more often would be an easy post. Baby steps…

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I tried Amazon’s Prime Now! Service just began in Raleigh. Last night, I realized that I needed to buy cookies for Zachary’s class’s Valentine’s Day party this afternoon. Since it was 11 p.m., going out to the store then was out of the question. I didn’t want to be bothered with stopping along the way to work (because getting out of the house early with a 20-month old is never a realistic option) and since I was planning on leaving early for the party, I hadn’t planned on taking a lunch break. So, I decided to see what Prime Now was all about.

primenow4How was it? Good! I only ordered groceries, so I can only speak to what that is like, but here are some pros and cons.

Pros: Well, ordering was super easy, and it was delivered to my office this morning within the time frame that it was supposed to. Success. It was nice to be able to follow a little map what tracked where the driver was as they were on their way with your delivery. They were packed pretty well, and used dry ice to keep the perishables cool. Using Prime Now definitely saved me what would have been an inconvenient trip to the store, which is what it’s all about at the end of the day.

Cons: The first downside is that you can only order it using an app on your phone. If I have a choice between using an app on my phone or using my computer, I will almost always choose using my computer. I hope one day, you can order through a computer. The other con is that it’s a $20 minimum per order. I totally understand this requirement. After all, it has to be worth the driver’s trip out there. The downside to this is that if you’re using it for groceries, their selection for the Raleigh area is still somewhat limited. The costs are generally comparable, but tend to be slightly higher than if you were to buy from Target or Walmart. The one thing that was cheaper through Now was Horizon’s Organic Whole Milk with DHA. I think it tends to run about $5.30 in stores out here, but was only $4.79 on Now. They also don’t have fresh produce such as salad or blueberries. So, while it saved me a trip to the store, it still didn’t save me a trip to the store, if that makes sense. I think if I had ordered things that I am always running out for at the last minute, like diapers and whole milk, I would have felt like it did more for me in the long run, haha.

primenow3Misc:  At checkout, Prime Now offers suggested tips for the driver. We never do delivery services for food and I have no real reason to take an Uber or taxi anywhere, so tipping was something I would have completely forgotten about if it hadn’t been suggested. That’s just something to keep in mind and factor in if you are shopping on a budget.

I definitely think that Prime Now is worth checking out and if you can find $20+ of what you need on there easily (and it isn’t going to wreck your budget), then it’s worth it. One thing to note, however: You get $10 off your first purchase if you use a promo code. I forgot the promo code, so I canceled my order within 45 seconds of placing it. I tried to redo the order and enter the code, but was rejected because it was technically not my “first” order. I admit, I was a bit put off by that. If it hadn’t been so late at night, I might have contacted customer service and contested that a bit. Oh well.

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Episode XXXII: Reclaiming Me

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Birthday Dinner Celebrating 32!

Forgive me, readers, for I have sinned. It’s been three months since my last post.

To be honest, I am forcing myself to write this post. Seriously. It took me an hour to write the first 129 words of this post. That’s pretty good considering it has taken me six months to get to the point that I am at now.

Today is my 32nd birthday. While my 31st year was just as awesome as my 30th year, it was also the year that I stopped taking care of me and really lost touch with myself. I think I made a few blog posts (or at least, I had the intentions of doing so), declaring that I was back and would be posting more, but it never came to fruition. That’s a shame because I had a lot to say last year. I just never made myself say it.

Last year was awesome in terms of new-motherhood. Zachary Louis rocks. He is just the coolest kid ever. I love being his mommy and I don’t mind how much it has changed my livestyle. That said, I need to find a better balance. Before Zach was born, I worked out six days a week for anywhere between 1-2.5 hours a day. During my maternity leave, we went for walks several days a week, and it allowed me to get some of my mojo back. I didn’t get to exercise much after I went back to work other than weekends and some Pure Barre during lunch time. A few things contributed to my newfound laziness:

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Posted in Ramble/Ponder/Rant, Reflecting/emo | 4 Comments