The Secret Santa Book Exchange Edition

My love of reading runs deep. If there was an extra hour in the day I'd have a really tough time deciding between more sleep and reading a good book. When Courtney, Elizabeth and Ashley announced their annual Secret Santa book exchange I couldn't hop on that train fast enough. 

Each night we read a few books to the kids, and while we're in no short supply between the kids' libraries, there's just something kind of magical about opening a brand. new. book. Is it the smell of the paper? The crispness of pages? What is it that makes a new book SO good?

Marcus, Julia and I were paired up with Stephanie and Connor. If you'd like to take a look at which books we selected for them hop on over to Wife Mommy Me and check it out!

When Marcus learned there was a package in the mail for him he was so ready to tear into it! I was equally as anxious for a couple of reasons: 1) who was our Secret Santa 2) which books were in the box?! 

When I discovered Meghan and Noah were our Secret Santa I was thrilled. Meghan amazes me on a constant basis with the fabulous arts and crafts projects she does with Noah. I want to take a personal day and allow Meghan to take the reigns in our house! 

Let's take a look a the goodies from Meghan and Noah!

The Wrapping
Right now is there anything more fun and cute than a red truck with a Christmas tree in the back? I think not. 
This wrapping paper is easily some of the best I've laid eyes on, and the cute tags that Meghan attached to each were such a sweet extra touch. These were almost too pretty to tear into. 

Marcus' Book
Press Here has been on my list to add to Marcus' library for some time, and I was so excited to see it was the book Meghan and Noah had selected!
The book is interactive and positively perfect for a 4-year old. We immediately read the book. And then read it again. And again. And again (seriously, we read the book four times in a row right after we opened it). Press Here has been in constant rotation since receiving it.

Julia's Book
I had to add this photo. For documentation's sake.
In Julia's defense, she had just woken from a nap (waking isn't something she does with ease, nor does she wake quickly), and she has yet to grasp the glorious concept of tearing into wrapped packages.
Sheep in a Jeep is honestly the cutest, most funny little book we've read in some time. I'm not sure Julia totally gets it, but it has a great little rhythm and it rhymes. We've read it every morning since unwrapping it!

My Book
I first read Jojo Moyes' Me Before You a couple of months ago, and I quickly found I love her writing. From the get go she drew me right into her story.
When I unwrapped After You I could not finish the book I was reading fast enough to start in on this one (I'm not one of those people who can read multiple books at a time). I'm not too terribly far into the book, but as I expected, Moyes has me up late at night to read, "Just one more page."

Not only did Meghan and Noah shower us with the perfect books, they were also so sweet and included holiday Pez for Marcus and Julia (which have been a smashing hit between the both of them!), as well as caramel filled Ghirardelli for me (which are already long gone).

Meghan and Noah, thank you so much for your generosity and perfect book selections!


Julia || 16 Months

December just crept right in, and 16 months kind of slipped right on by me yesterday. When I realized the date I did what any good and guilt-ridden mom would do. Promptly got Julia up from her nap, dressed her in holiday appropriate attire, and tried to take a few photos during the notoriously most challenging hour of our day. Not ideal, but a few photos (albeit not my best) are better than none.

To the update.

I haven't weighed or measured Julia since last month, but I'd say she's finally broken into the 20 pound range. And, height wise, very likely around 31-ish inches. Julia's holding steady with 12 teeth.

When Scott comes home from work.
Birds (so gross).
Being outside.
Playing chase. 
Playing Patty-Cake.
Playing Peek-a-Boo.
Being tossed into the air.
Waving to every person she meets.
Picking up objects (sticks, pine needs, imaginary things) and handing them to the nearest adult.
Picking Marcus up from school (she literally runs into the building to get him).
Trying to keep up with the big kids.
Climbing on any and everything.
Taking the ornaments off the tree and relocating them all over the house.
Taking out every item from any drawer and cupboard that isn't child-locked shut.

Most vegetables.
Waking up from naps. 
Sleeping in past 5a.m.
Diaper changes (whyyyyyyy?!).

Other mentionable moments:
I decided just a week after Julia turned 15 months that it was time to cut out the nursing. The first few days were kind of rough, but by day three things were pretty smooth sailing. Occasionally I miss that time between us (like right before bed), and it saddens me to think that was my only time to nourish a baby exclusively. But, in all honesty, it's been so nice to finally have my body back. 

Vowel heavy words continue to be added to the vocabulary. As of late we've been hearing a lot of "pretty" due to Christmas lights. And we're not in short supply of "ooohs" and "ahhhs" because of said lights.

The dance moves, attitude, and sass keep us entertained and on our toes. When my head finally lands on the pillow each night I give thanks for such a spunky little thing. Life certainly is busy with this one, and we wouldn't have it any other way.

Cheers to 16 months!


M & J Monday

You better watch out, you better not cry
Better not pout, I'm telling you why
Santa Claus is comin' to town
He's making a list and checking it twice
Gonna find out who's naughty and nice
Santa Claus is comin' to town
He sees you when you're sleepin'
He knows when you're awake
He knows if you've been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake
Oh! You better watch out, you better not cry
Better not pout, I'm telling you why
Santa Claus is comin' to town
Santa Claus is Coming to Town
~Bing Crosby

Happy Monday!


The San Diego Edition

Last week we were able to sneak away to my favorite Southern California city - San Diego - for a few days. In the short amount of time we were there we managed to pack in quite a bit.

The entire reason for our trip was to spend time with family for Thanksgiving. 
Each year my cousins host the most fabulous, delicious meal.
This year I was most thankful that my parents and brother were able to join us. My only regret is we didn't get a photo of just my family. Guess that just means they're going to have to join us again next year!

Turkey Trot
The last time I participated in an organized run/race was *last* year on Thanksgiving. And then Scott had to push the double stroller. 
This year we recruited Grandma and Grandpa to watch the kids while Scott and I ran. 
The neat thing about this race is that before the event there was a full Mass which we attended, a pancake breakfast (which we opted to skip, because, running), and one of the best atmospheres I've ever experienced before a run.
Aren't race photos so flattering?
It's also fun when the photos are sponsored by Michelob Ultra, and the logo is splashed across the bottom of each picture.
As silly as it sounds, I was nervous for the 5k. I can't remember the last time I ran at a pace I was truly happy with, but this run I was pleasantly surprised to see I ran sub-8s the whole time. Official race time: 24:49. May it be noted Scott and I didn't actually run together, he's entirely too fast for me to even think about keeping up. But, it was such a nice way to start Thanksgiving.

I could/should probably do an entire post on this (but if you know me you know I have an intense and legit fear of birds, particularly chickens)...
Doesn't my cousin look like Jackie O?!
Nope. Nope. Nope. Marcus is far braver than me.
Julia was fascinated, too. However, her attention span was much shorter than Marcus'.

My cousins neighbors have this garden that is phenomenal, replete with a chicken coop. We checked it out, and Marcus found eggs in the coop, which he found to be the most incredible thing in the whole wide world (he talked about this for *days*), was able to hold/pet a chicken, and feed them as well. The chickens were easily Marcus favorite part of the whole trip.

Sunrises and Sunsets
Sunrises and sunsets rank pretty high among my list of favorite things, ever.
1. Sunset #1 2. Sunset #2 (on Thanksgiving)
3. Sunset #3 4. Sunrise on our way home from San Diego
We were treated to some pretty incredible sky shows, both at sunrise (because we're up that early) and sunset. 

That's a wrap. Until next time San Diego!


Fix #10 + $1000 SF Giveaway

Fix #10 could not have happened at a more opportune time. Not only did I ask for pieces to get me through the holiday season, this fix also happens to have a $1,000 Stitch Fix Giveaway to go along with it!

For this fix I requested (and got) Raquel! Instead of asking for certain types of pieces (tops, bottoms, etc.), I asked for a color scheme; all black and white (or cream) pieces were on the agenda.  
If you're in the market for an amazing stylist I cannot sing enough praises about Raquel. Seriously. She puts so much thought into each fix, takes the time to read my blog, and pays close attention to my Pinterest board. 

My fix arrived three days early (holler!!!), and I couldn't wait to tear into it.
The holiday tissue and gold foil sticker were a fun holiday touch and made the anticipation of what was inside that much greater. 

Let's get to the goodies!

Market & Spruce || Clove Twist-Back Striped Cardigan 
Pistola || Tory Distressed Ankle Zip Skinny Jean
I paired most of this fix with my Seychelles || Laser Cut Botties, which I received in my last fix.
At first glance I really liked the look of the cardigan. In my book, black and white stripes are right up there with navy and white stripes. While I appreciated how lightweight the cardigan was, the fabric reminded me of a leotard. The twist in the back was cute enough, but I just didn't love this piece.

Let's talk about these Pistola jeans for a hot minute. I've been dying for a pair of good distressed jeans for some time. When I pulled these out of the box I was a little leery. The zip at the ankle isn't something I've ever worn, so it was slightly out of my comfort zone. BUT! The second I pulled these on I didn't want to take them off. The jeans are a bit sturdier than most of my skinny jeans, which I love. The bottom of the jeans hit above the ankle, which makes for perfectly pairing with booties. The zip at the ankle makes for the greatest bit of detail my other jeans don't have. The distressing was exactly what I've been dreaming about. These jeans have easily become my favorite pair, and have been in constant rotation since I got them. Once again, when it comes to jeans it's Stitch Fix for the win!

The verdict:
Clove Twist-Back Striped Cardigan : RETURNED
Tory Distressed Ankle Zip Skinny Jean : KEPT

Skies are Blue || Brecken Mixed Material Top
Immediately when I pulled this out of the box I knew it was going back. This shirt fit well, but the detail on the neck instantly turned me off, and the stripe across the top of the chest wasn't winning me over either. I really liked the tab sleeves, and the mixed material on the back (I totally forgot to take a picture of the back, but it was all black) was cute. The pattern of the shirt itself was nice, but all the other details missed the mark for me.

Verdict : RETURNED

Kut From The Kloth | Laurinda Lace Detail Knit Dress
I'm on the hunt for the perfect LBD, and I was hoping that this one would be it. At first glance I really, really liked it, and I think it photographed quite well. However, when I put it on the waist hit me kind of wonky. I have a really long torso, and from the side this dress made it seem like I had a pooch where I don't want or need one. I came back to this dress a few different times hoping maybe things would change, but alas, that pseudo pooch would not go away. Looking at this pic though, I'm starting to have return remorse (is that a real thing?).

Verdict : RETURNED

Daniel Rainn || Shanon Mesh Detail V-Neck Top
When I pulled this top out of the box I was totally underwhelmed. It seemed like just another black top. But then I put it on. The tab sleeves (I didn't realize I was such a sucker for those), the mesh detail, the fit, it was all just perfect. I feel I could really dress this top up, or down like I did with the distressed jeans and booties.

Verdict : KEPT!

If you're keeping track this fix was a 2/5, but had serious potential to be a 3/5. Either way, I'd consider this one a success and I can't wait to see what Raquel has in store for me for the next round.

Currently my Christmas wish list looks something like this (Scott, if you're reading, this is where you take notes):
Stitch Fix Gift Card
Stitch Fix Gift Card
Stitch Fix Gift Card
So, hopefully the next round will have a gift card, or two, to use at check out.

And while my holiday shopping list is near complete there are still a couple of hard-to-shop-for people whom I know a Stitch Fix Gift Card will be perfect.

If you haven't tried Stitch Fix, or know of someone who has yet to jump on the SF wagon, the holidays are the perfect time to gift or receive gift cards to try it out!

Now, don't forget to enter the $1,000 Stitch Fix Giveaway (use the Rafflecopter below), and drop me a line in the comments letting me know if you think I kept the right pieces!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


M & J Monday

For attractive lips, 
Speak words of kindness.

For lovely eyes,
Seek out the good in people.

For a slim figure,
Share your food with the hungry.

For beautiful hair,
Let a child run their fingers through it.

For poise,
Walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.
~Sam Levenson
Happy Monday!