I may have lost my mind...

I just registered (and paid MONEY) to run in the 5k Foam Fest in May.   Seriously.  My first 5k (other than the one I walked in college) will be one full of mud, water, and foam. 

Here is the description from the event website:

We are the ONLY obstacle mud race that doubles as a human car wash! We don’t just bring mud and obstacles; we throw more foam at you than a pack of toddlers in a bubble bath! Imagine the coolest obstacle mud race ever, and then picture it staged inside a giant car wash! That’s the 5k Foam Fest in a nutshell!

Am I intimidated?  Yes, quite a bit.  I am also excited!  Jeremy is doing it, and we formed a team along with four other friends.  I don't anticipate a lot of pressure to run very hard...it's mostly about having fun.  

I think we will have a blast, and then to top it off, we get a night out in Nashville.  Sounds like a win-win situation to me!

I am planning to run a real, plain-old-boring 5k this spring as well.  I have been running again for about a month now, and while it's not pretty and it's certainly not fast, it does feel good.  I am ready to keep it up this time.  



Some Things I've Read Lately

If you read YA books or YA book blogs for very long, there are certain books you are sure to hear about.  For me, one of those books was Anna and the French Kiss

I've heard raves about this book everywhere, and it has been on my to-read list for well over a year now.  Unfortunately, it isn't available at either of my libraries, and I just didn't want to pay full price for it.  I finally snagged it on a flash sale for just a couple of bucks...and of course I started reading it immediately.

I was pleased to find that I enjoyed Anna and the French Kiss as much as I'd hoped.  The characters are fun, and surprisingly relatable, given that they attend a boarding school in Paris.  Anna is my favorite type of YA book--one that brings back memories of exactly what it was like to be a teenager-- but more of the good teenage memories than the bad ones.  This was also the kind of book that made me wish I could go back and have those adventures with my friends again (and do it better this time around!).  None of the characters are too angsty or unrealistically dramatic, which can get annoying very quickly. 

And of course, I must mention the romance, the quintessential part of so much YA fiction.  The relationship between Anna and St. Clair is appropriate (mostly, anyway) and believable (for teenagers in boarding school).  Their interactions were sweet and fun and not too incredibly intense.  Again, Anna is the type of book that brings back only the best teenage memories. 

If you haven't read YA in years (since you were a young adult, perhaps) but think you might like the genre, I highly recommend Anna and the French Kiss as an excellent place to begin.  (And I hear Stephanie Perkins's newest title, Lola and the Boy Next Door is just as good!)

Have you ever read a book where you just weren't sure what the heck was going on?  That was this book for me.  It was the promise of a shocking mystery, something dark, that kept me interested.  I knew there were things that weren't being revealed to me, the reader, and I was curious enough to keep reading to find out what they were. 

Although I spend a lot of time thoroughly confused--either by the unreliable narrator, the unfamiliar phrasing (the book is translated from its original Dutch), the things intentionally left unsaid, or the time jumps (the narrator will slip into a flashback without warning)--it became easier once I settled into the voice and quirks of the book.

I would have said the book itself was just okay, but upon finishing, I kept thinking about it for quite awhile. There are several themes addressed, even if not directly. Questions about the outcasts of a society, the issue of racism, mental illness, etc. The ultimate question posed by the story, and the one that really has me thinking is this: How far would we go to protect our children? 

 Sometimes, after a string of particularly intense or thinky (that's a technical term, you know), I'm just in the mood for some light, fun chick lit.  Keeping Secrets in Seattle fit that bill perfectly.  I was afraid it might be too much of a "My Best Friend's Wedding" takeoff, but I forgot about that comparison pretty quickly.

The best part of this book, for me, was the characters.  Violet is not your typical skinny blonde bombshell, girl-next-door type, which is a welcome departure from the lead in so many romances.  I would totally want to be friends with her, Betsy, and Kim...they're awesome!

Spring break is quickly approaching, and I suggest adding this title to your fun reading list.


A Zoo Day and New Friends

Last Friday, Mandy and I made good on our long-standing intentions to meet in person.  Nashville is fairly close to halfway between us, so we decided to meet up there for a fun day out with our kiddos.  Jeremy was able to come with me, but unfortunately it was him and all the ladies, since Mandy's husband had to work.  (I don't think Jeremy minded at all!)

Mandy already recapped the day, so I'll just share a few of my favorite pictures from our adventures.

Four little monkeys all in a row...
Love, love this picture of B!

Addison practiced silly faces for me while we waited outside the reptile house

I love that all the kids are looking back in this picture.  Mandy looks a bit like the Pied Piper, don't you think?

Our one quick attempt at a group shot...thanks, Jeremy!

It really was a fun day.  Mandy and her girls are every bit as sweet as they seem.  Addison & Mackenzie have talked about A & B all week, and I loved Mandy's report that her girls are repeating the "Bye, y'all!" that I taught them at lunch.  : )

It's such a surreal feeling, meeting a blog friend for the first time.  Their faces are so familiar (as were ours, I'm sure) and we know so many of one another's stories already.  All that makes it easy to skip over the initial getting-to-know-yous and just dive right in.  I can't wait to do it again!


House Dreams

This weekend, on the spur of the moment, I began repainting the trim in the girls' bedroom.  We are getting new carpet in the next couple of weeks, when we will also transitioning in their new furniture, and I want everything to feel fresh and bright to go with their new room.  The trim and molding in our bedrooms are off-white, which has bothered me for awhile, so I decided to just begin tackling it. 

Jeremy and I hate painting, and we are really not very good at it.  So my motto for this project is that it's better to be done and imperfect than never started at all.  I still have to do the baseboards when we move out the furniture, but it already looks SO much better in there. 

Of course, all these projects have me energized and inspired to keep going and tackle more of our house plans.  We have a lot of big dreams about things to get done around here this year...unfortunately, we may not have the cash flow to go with it!  (The eternal problem, right?)

Some of the things on our to-do list, with varying levels of plausibility:
  • Finish painting the trim in the bedrooms and bathrooms so it will all be bright white. 
  • Paint the living room and hallway (light gray, I think).
  • Paint the girls' bathroom (maybe a yellow of some sort?).
  • Have new carpet put down in the bedrooms.  (They're being measured tomorrow!)
  • Lay hardwood in the kitchen, to match the living room and hallway.
  • Tile the two bathrooms, including our shower.  (This one will likely wait awhile...)
  • Check into getting the kitchen cabinets painted.
  • New countertops.  (Jeremy and I are both beyond ready for this, but we are deciding whether to hold out for granite or another solid surface.  If we go that route, it won't be happening this year.)  (Suggestions or opinions??)
  • Hang shelves and hooks to create a mud-room-type area in the laundry room.
  • Paint the bathroom cabinets white.
  • Begin to replace artwork, etc. in the living room.  I have wound up with a random collection of things that don't really reflect my taste, and I want to begin to fix that.  Now to figure out exactly what my taste might be...
  • Finally get a gallery wall together, to display some of the fantastic pictures that have been gathering dust for years now.
  • Hang curtains in the bedrooms.  The blinds-only look has gone on far too long. 
  • Fix our backyard to make it more functional for our purposes.  (Possibly replace the deck, but that might have to wait.)  I definitely want more seating back there.
I am sure there are more, but I think that's quite enough to keep us busy for awhile.  

Do you have any house projects going on right now?  Do you think your space accurately reflects your taste?  Can you help me figure out how to get there???


Hockey, Recommendations, Pinterest, & Parties

---We took the girls to their first hockey game last weekend.  Some sweet friends (hi, Brandi!) invited us to share their very nice box seats, located directly on the ice.  Even though M was feeling a little under the weather and was tired, we all had fun.  The best part was seeing about eight little girls (including those in the box next to ours) lined up at the glass, banging and shouting along with the crowd.  And then, ten minutes later, they were squealing over princess figurines.  Girls are so funny.  Addison's favorite part of the game?  The popcorn and the fighting, of course.

Girls' first hockey game!

---I am not usually a huge fan of special beauty or hair products.  I am pretty happy with my CoverGirl and Maybelline makeup; I don't get too fancy.  I must say, though, that this Organix Moroccan Smooth Perfection Cream has changed my life.  Okay, that might be a bit of an overstatement, but it has definitely improved my hair.  The cream instantly makes my hair much, much smoother, but not at all heavy or oily.  Recommend!

---While I am recommending, I will just go ahead and sing the praises of my current favorite clothing site.  I ordered from Shade when they first opened last year, but it took me awhile to start wearing that dress because it was a little too long (until I shrunk it just a bit in the dryer and and figured out it would work with boots).  Once I did start wearing it, I realized it was a quality item of clothing and it has become one of my favorite pieces this winter.  I recently ordered again, from their clearance sale, reasoning that since they have free shipping and free returns, it was worth a try.  Much to my surprise, everything fit and I am not planning to return anything.  I was so happy with my new clothes that I placed another order this week.  Again, I recommend.

(By the way, I am getting absolutely nothing for those recommendations...just sharing some recent favorites!  I hate that I have to clarify that.)


---I go through phases with Pinterest, and lately I have been using it more often than I have in awhile.  Nearly every time I am on there, though, I get frustrated.  I get so tired of seeing an interesting pin, only to click on it and find that it only goes to a picture, or to a link that isn't any good.  It happens way too often.  My absolute biggest frustration is with sourcing.  I know this has been debated all over the internet, but I have seen a big increase in what I consider unethical Pinterest tactics over the last few months.  For example, it drives me absolutely crazy to click on a pin that goes back to a blog post where the blogger raves about this great recipe that she found on so-and-so's site, then goes on to repost that recipe using their own pictures.  So basically, the blogger is using Pinterest to drive traffic to their own blog, using a recipe (or tutorial, etc.) that they took from another blogger.  Of course the blogger usually says the recipe is "adapted" from the original recipe, but most often, it's not "adapted" at all (at least in my experience--if it is, that's makes the situation a little different).  Does that make any sense at all?  Because I feel like I am mostly just rambling.  Pin with Integrity...that's pretty much what I'm saying.  Give credit where credit is due and pin the original, not the copycat looking for blog traffic.

(I am also working on accepting that Pinterest has become just another social media outlet and another tool for self-promotion, but I still have issues with the ethics of it all.  Obviously.)

---Party planning is about to get into full swing around here.  The girls' birthday is just a few weeks away, and they are full of ideas.  The most adamant request has been to do something at their school.  I haven't figured out exactly what yet, but we will take in a treat to share with their class.  A & M have also requested a princess party.  As a change from past years' celebrations, I am planning to have a very small party here at home, where I will let the girls get all dressed up in their finest princess attire.  We will have cupcakes and snacks with family and just a few friends.  (Naturally, the small party won't keep me from obsessing over all the cute little details...I'm headed to Hobby Lobby this weekend!)

Happy almost-Friday!


A Big-Girl Bedroom

I think it was right after the girls' birthday last year that we converted their cribs into toddler beds.  The transition was surprisingly easy, with no midnight wanderings or play sessions like I had feared.

The girls do get up occasionally, but they come straight to our bedroom and around to my side of the bed.  It is a bit unnerving to wake up to a small person staring you in the face, whispering your name...but sometimes it's awfully cute, too (like when A says she just wanted to "come say that I love you"!).  In the last couple of months, they have even started going back to bed on their own, without my having to get up--definitely a nice progression.

This year's birthday will see another transition...A & M are getting big-girl beds!  I placed the order and paid for them today, and they will be delivered as soon as we get new carpet installed.  After much thought and searching, I chose this bed:

I am really looking forward to rearranging and doing a minor redecoration of the girls' bedroom.  I am currently scouring Craigslist for an old dresser I can clean up and paint to match the beds.  I'm not sure how much room will be available with the beds and dresser, so I'm planning to possibly install some rain-gutter bookshelves along one section of wall.

I want to personalize the girls' beds in some way as well.  My idea right now is to make a fabric bunting to drape across the headboard, possibly with the girls' monograms in the middle.  And I am thinking about doing different bedding, to keep it from being too matchy-matchy.  Mackenzie loves purple and Addison favors pink, so I am sure they will request that those colors be worked in somehow.  Some bedding choices I have my eye on:

Pink for Addison

Purple for Mackenzie

A little of both...
Or maybe just white and ruffled?

I hope to have their new room all done by their birthday...in less than a month!  Any input on the bedding?  (Their room is painted a very light pink, by the way, and it's not changing right now.)  

Have you transitioned to regular beds yet?  Seen any super-cute kid bedroom ideas lately?


The State of Affairs: February 2013

Jeremy and I were able to have a real Valentine's date this year.  I took off work on Friday the 15th and we took the girls to spend the night with his parents.  Then we went to a matinee movie (Identity Thief--ehh, it was alright) and wandered around a fancy grocery store until it was time for our dinner reservation.  That's right, for the first time ever, Jeremy got us actual dinner reservations.  We are such grown ups now.  

We topped off our Valentine's celebration by sleeping until nearly 10:00 on Saturday morning.  It was glorious.  Then we picked up the girls and went shopping at Costco...because, you know, grown ups and all.  (Ha!)

I was able to have another night out this month when I went with a group of friends from work to a fundraiser painting class.  We had a delicious dinner together, then spent a couple of hours painting.  We were so busy that there wasn't much time for socializing, but I enjoyed being crafty without having to spread the mess out in my own house.  (And a big shout out to J for gladly keeping the girls all day and all evening that day!  Thanks, dear.)

Looks pretty good on my front door, no?

Books read:  5
Someday, Someday, Maybe--This was an ARC of Lauren Graham's debut novel.  She is a favorite actress of mine, and I'm happy to report that I loved her book.  Review coming soon!

Anna and the French Kiss--I finally read this YA staple when I caught a great deal on the Kindle version.  It pretty much lived up to the hype, and now I can't wait to read the author's next book.

This is How You Lose Her--This was a National Book Award Nominee for fiction, but I just couldn't get into it.  I am officially breaking up with short stories of any kind, unless they were written by Dorothy Parker or Kate Chopin.

Second Chance Summer--Another YA title, but this one was just okay, in my opinion.  I thought it was a little long for the story that was told.  I did like the way the illness in the book was handled, never made too melodramatic, even though it was heart-wrenching.

Divergent--YA again, but so very good.  This one earned my first five-star rating of the year on Goodreads.  If you read and enjoyed The Hunger Games, please, please read this book.

(It was a good month for books!)

Did you see the list of books?  There was no time for music this month!

I kid...I am still completely obsessed with Fun. and I'm not ashamed to admit it.  I even have J listening to them, and the girls can rock the chorus of "We are Young".

Crazy hair day! A is not going to school, but still wanted to do her hair for home. : )
Crazy hair day at school (A is still in her gown because she wasn't feeling well, but had crazy hair day at home.)

Geez, this month went by so quickly.  There is not a lot to tell, truthfully, but I will take that.  It was a peaceful, happy month...what more could we ask for?  I ran a couple of times, did yoga a few times, and we continued to improve our eating habits (for the most part).  I am glad to say there has been NO DIET COKE, and I've hardly even missed it.

As of tomorrow, there will be exactly one month until A & M turn four.  Whaaat?!

Happy March!