16 May 2017

Reading Challenge - Book 12

Oh boy. My daughter really wanted me to read this book after her fourth-grade class read it at school. She liked it so much we got the follow-up book (not a sequel) as one of the audiobooks we took on an Easter weekend trip. Then she was worried that I already knew some of the original book because of the other character's viewpoints in the follow-up. But it was all good.

I read Wonder by R.J. Palacio as the 12th category on the PopSugar Reading Challenge (which is interesting, since it's also the 12th book I finished so far this year). The category I read this for was 'a bestseller from a genre you don't normally read.'  And on the Amazon site, I see that it's also being made into a movie - and you should know by now how I love when that happens!

Wonder is about August Pullman, a boy with facial deformities who is attending public school for the first time as a fifth grader. Up until fifth grade, he's been homeschooled, mainly because his extensive surgeries would have required him to miss a lot of school. The book is about Auggie's fifth grade year at Beecher Prep and his relationships and interactions with the other students, many of whom have known each other for their whole school careers. Having listened to Auggie & Me: Three Wonder Stories first did color a bit of my interpretation when reading the book, as I got to know other characters before Auggie. I don't think the change in my interpretation changed the overall message of the book at all though.

This is one of those books that all school kids should read in this generation. It is recommended for readers in 3rd - 7th  grade (ages 8-12). It has also brought to mind some books that were universally read when I was growing up, which is kind of fun. If you haven't read Wonder yet, you should totally check it out. And then maybe even see the movie!

12 May 2017

10 Random Things for Friday

  1. I need to have a good long sit-down with my calendar. I've been scheduling lots of summer stuff lately, but I'm starting to worry about it overlapping. I almost forgot the Memorial Day parade, and my daughter has been in that for YEARS!
  2. I finally put a UV filter in my aquarium. Some stuff I found said my 13-gallon shouldn't need one, but I've got algae that is obviously from the sun, and the algae eater starved because of it (I assume he starved. I assume he was a he. Anyway, I never found his corpse, so maybe he just moved to another tank?).
  3. It seems ridiculous, but I'm still cold. I think we might have hit 70 degrees yesterday, but I'm still cold to my bones.
  4. Sometimes I wish I could be as excitable as my kids. My son will not stop talking about the fact that we now have two Wii controllers. It's been almost two weeks, and this is still worth shouting from the rooftops for him.
  5. I've moved my laptop out of my office and back down to the kitchen. I kind of like hanging out with everyone else, when there isn't work I really need to 'focus' on most of the day. I can focus while everyone else is at work and school.
  6. What's for dinner tonight? There were a few posts floating around earlier in the week with taco salad, which sort of starting a taste for it for me. So that's what's here. Taco salad. The good stuff, with Doritos and Catalina dressing.
  7. I also need a simple-ish dessert to bring to a lunch on Sunday. I'm gone for an undetermined amount of time on Saturday, so I need something that I'll potentially be making on Sunday morning to take with us...
  8. Anyone have experience with butterfly bushes? That's what I want to replace our old icky shrubs with, right by our front porch. Hopefully next weekend.
  9. Have I mentioned lately how much I love my handheld Dyson that I got in late fall with my Posh Points? I can just carry it around and make little messes disappear. Good times.
  10. Anyone else have big plans coming up? I'm just ready for a good long nap. LOL

11 May 2017

Stitch Fix - Fix #6

Yay for Kat as a stylist again! I told her how much I loved all the Kut from the Kloth pants I had so far, mentioned that I'm *still* always cold in Michigan, but I'd be thrilled to bring in some spring-ish looks to brighten things up. She delivered!

When I said 'spring,' Kat heard me! Love this Rilo Button-Up Blouse from Collective Concepts. It's definitely sheer, and I'm wearing it hear with a coral colored camisole. I've since worn it with a grey camisole too and it showed up the print on the shirt a bit more. The sleeves can also cuff and button up to about elbow-length. I kept it and love it as a transition piece into spring. It's like my skin is still 'covered,' but light enough for warmer weather.

I'm wearing the Rilo here with the Kate Boyfriend Jean from Kut from The Kloth. Completely love them! Probably not super flattering, but I don't look at that much. The fit is so comfy! My muffin is not squished in these bad boys. I did notice last time I did laundry that I apparently have removed them at least once without unbuttoning them. So they definitely are not tight. Since the rest of my old jeans are not this great, I find myself planning ahead to have these clean and ready to wear for special events. I kept them and want more just like them.

This sweater is kind of magical. I will always wear it with my pearls, because it looks so business in the front, while there's a party in the back! Woo-hoo!

This is the Chaley Split Back Pullover from Leo & Nicole. If I were 20 years younger, it may work without something underneath, but I'm not. The maroon camisole is my own. I've worn it with a lighter color camisole underneath as well. It is a pretty light knit and I'm sure I'll wear it into the summer. I kept it.

Those are also the new jeans, if you can see anything different from this angle ;)

I've heard marvelous things about 'dolman' tops for so long, I was excited to finally receive one in this fix. And wow. This thing is universally flattering! The snug fit at the waist is low enough to hold it all in place, without hugging anything I'd rather keep hidden. My only complaint is the wide neckline. Maybe it's just a pet peeve, but I really hate when my bra strap shows, and I'm of the build that I will never go without a bra.

This is the Queensland Dolman Jersey Top from 41Hawthorn. The jersey material is super soft, and the whole torso area of the shirt is super flattering. The sleeves also stay where I put them. I kept the shirt. I'm wearing it here with a pair of black skinny jeans.

Last but not least, I received the Dobi Cargo Jacket from Laju. I love the canvas weight, and the super convenient chest pockets, as well as classic side pockets. I have plenty of room for my phone, reading glasses or sunglasses, and my keys. Personally, I could use a bit more length in the sleeves, but luckily I don't really wear a spring jacket for a lot of warmth. While I wouldn't have bought this off the rack (I do love sleeves that go all the way to my hands), I kept it and have already gotten a lot of wear out of it.

Overall, another great fix from Kat! I've kept it all and worn it at least a few times already. Have you tried Stitch Fix yet? Join at my link and we both get a bonus! stitchfix.com/referral/6629118

09 May 2017

Reading Challenge - Book 11

I picked this book because I've had a bit of a girl-crush on Anna Kendrick since falling in love with all the Pitch Perfect movies. Can't wait til this August for the newest one! So it follows that I've counted this book for the 36th category of the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge - a book written by someone you admire. Her snark is out of the park and I love it!

Scrappy Little Nobody is an autobiography by Anna Kendrick. I loved hearing about her modest beginnings, and life-long dreams of acting and singing. Her Broadway start and continual casting as a child because of her petite stature was amusing, and her voice in telling it sounds like so many of her sassy characters.

The book has also given me a list of more Anna Kendrick movies to enjoy. Hubby and I had already seen Cake, both Pitch Perfect movies (repeatedly), Into the Woods, Trolls, and the Accountant (to name just a few), but once I read of her working on a few other movies, we also checked out Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, and Camp. I also now want to see Rocket Science, Life after Bex, and Up in the Air soon.

I've been really enjoying a lot of books turned into movies lately, and reading an autobiography of an actress sort of brings it to a whole new level - I have a bunch of movies to watch if I'll ever catch up with what was mentioned. LOL

04 May 2017


I didn't plan to have a pre-existing condition.

I didn't plan to have it originally dismissed.

I (luckily) didn't plan to participate in athletics growing up.

I certainly didn't plan to have heart surgery in my mid-30s.

But it all worked out for me.

When I was born, my mom quit her job (not entirely out of the ordinary in the early 1970s) because the doctor said I had a heart murmur and referred me to a pediatric cardiologist. Mom and dad were relieved when the cardiologist said my heart was fine, and would fully develop to being 'normal' with no further treatment. Yay!

Fast forward a few decades...

I had a cough that just wouldn't quit. I wasn't very worried (it happened every spring and fall) but my primary care doctor sent me for a chest xray to see my lungs, since H1N1 was a thing right then. We got more great news - my lungs were totally clear, and my cough was just a cough.

But the doctor was very thorough. He said the lungs looked great, but a chest xray also showed my heart, and it was enlarged. Together we went over the list of risk factors that cause a heart to be enlarged, and I had none of them. So this was pretty odd for a 36-year-old woman with one child. He sent me for more tests.

Through an echocardiogram and a trans-esophogeal echocardiogram (blech - I don't recommend this one!), the first cardiologist said I definitely had a substantial ASD (atrial septal defect - a hole). The defect the original cardiologist when I was born had dismissed, had never healed over. My primary care doctor as an adult referred me to a fantastic pediatric cardiac surgeon, since I now officially had a CHD (congenital heart defect).

I am so, so grateful for my cardiac surgeon. Of course I consulted with Dr Google along the way, and that jerk said I almost definitely would need open heart surgery for my 14mm ASD. With all the long recovery required when your chest bone is cracked open. My surgeon however, said, "Nah! We got this." And he did. He and his team went in through my femoral artery with both a camera (to see what they were doing) and the device to fix the hole in my heart. To keep an already long story as short as possible, they did it! Subsequent tests have shown my heart returning to its right size, and my family and I are so thankful for everyone involved in getting us to this point.

Without this surgery and repair, my life expectancy would have been around 10 years more with the un-repaired heart.

My family could have now been planning my funeral.

Instead, I'm planning echocardiograms for each of my children when they're old enough to lie still for a half hour. I'm so glad it's financially feasible for us, and available, to have a full sports physical including an echocardiogram for my children.

I'm reminded of this whole story not only when I can run across my yard with the kids, but also solemnly when I hear of another child-athlete or young-person who drops dead from an undiagnosed heart condition. I think only half-jokingly how lucky I am that I preferred to read and write in school, rather than participating in sports.

27 April 2017

Maggie's kidpik Box - April 2017

Kidpik apparently knows kids, or at least my kid! Maggie's fifth box was another keeper. And she is definitely turning out to be an accessory girl. Her new denim jacket from this box was on our list to go buy anyway, and the item she was next most excited about was her new purse. Let's take a look at all seven new items.

The first outfit shown is the ModTie Front Blouse (retail price $17.50) with the Super Soft Skinny pants in white (retail price $17.50), and the Jonni Braided Sandal in silver (retail price $17.50). Remember, we get 30% off of every item when we keep the whole box! The blouse is super pretty and fits just right. There is a white lining through the body of it as well. The pants taught her an awesome life lesson right away - white pants must be worn with underwear that is as close to your skin color as possible ;). Good information for the rest of life. Don't look too closely at the sandals. She likes them, but in our house there's a rule that girls must have their toenails polished before sandal season. When the box was received, it was still pretty chilly in Michigan, so we hadn't bothered with getting our feet pretty yet.

Okay, let's get those feet out of the way for a minute - hahah... Here's the same outfit, but she's added the Foldover Bag in ocean wave (retail price $12.50). She loved this purse the minute she saw it, even if she isn't at the point where she carries a purse each day yet. The color is beautiful and a bit shiny, and it has a super-fun tassle that matches the material. There's room to store treasure both in the zippered flap, or in the compartment covered by the flap (if that makes sense). I like that it isn't disproportionately large for a nine-year-old, but still has enough room to be practical.

The other outfit was actually my favorite, and although my photography skills caught it a little sideways, I think it's a great picture of Maggie. Here she's wearing the same sandals again, with the coveted Jean Jacket in phoenix (and all this time I thought denim was denim colored.... anyway, retail price is $22.50), with the Good Vibes Foil Tee in radiant orchid (retail price $12.50), and the Knit Skort in navy (retail price $9.50). I love this skort! The fabric is super soft and flowy, but since it's still a skort we don't have to worry about which way it's flowing. The color is a super dark navy, and I actually looked at the style card to make sure it was navy and not black while writing this post. The denim jacket has already gotten the most wear of anything in the box.

All items together had a retail value of $109.50, but with our 30% discount for keeping it all, we got all seven items for $76.65. I'm all about new clothes for each season, without even having to leave the house. She has worn everything from the box except the sandals (hopefully it will warm up for the summer soon!) and the skort, but looking at the card and remembering the skort is in her closet is definitely encouraging me to remind her how great it will go with the t-shirt and jacket as shown, or so many other things in her closet too!

We're still so happy with our kidpik boxes. Have you tried it yet?

24 April 2017

Bookstock - Used Book and Media Sale!

The kids and I visited Bookstock yesterday! I really wanted to go to one of the days with extra freebies, because FREEBIES!!, but our schedule just wasn't going to allow it this week. So our reward for getting the house cleaned up was heading to Bookstock, where they each got to pick out five new (to them) books.

I was originally worried about the opening day crowds, and gave the kids the 'if we're separated' speech on the way, as well as establishing a meet-up spot once we arrived. None of that was necessary. We got there around 1pm and didn't have many crowd issues. The actual tables to look were crowded, but you could usually work your way in.

We didn't shop anywhere besides the kids' section (well, and Claire's). I had thought the prices were more 'bargain basement,' and once the kids each got five books and I couldn't resist one more, my budget didn't leave anything for the tempting section of newer adult books. We ended up with 11 total books, at a cost (including tax) of $28 and change. Five of the books we got had no original publishers price (and one of those was a GIANT hardcover collection of Thomas the Train stories, certainly valued at more than $20). The six books that had their original retail value printed totaled $63.90 - and that was only HALF of the books we got. Definitely a good deal, and the money was going to great causes :)

Here's the kids with their treasures. The giant Thomas collection is on its way to school today with our resident 'child-of-the-day.' I'm sure he'll give his plug to how fun Bookstock was while he's there.

Bookstock is still running the rest of the week - through Sunday, April 30 - from 10am - 9pm (on Sunday it's 11am - 6pm) each day at the Laurel Park Place mall. The mall is on 6-Mile Road east of I-275 in Livonia, Michigan. Check out the great feature days still to come:

  • Monday Madness (Apr 24): Buy a book and WIN! Giveaways while supplies last!
  • Teacher Appreciation (Apr 25 from 3 - 9pm): Teachers receive 50% discount with valid ID
  • Cookstock (Apr 26): Cookbooks galore and so much more! Recipe contest winner announced at 5pm
  • Bookbuster Sale and Sports Drawing (Apr 27 and Apr 28 from 3 - 9pm): Buy 3, get the 4th free (*least expensive item). Spend $25 ore more and your name will be entered to win special prizes
  • Books and Media 1/2 Price (Apr 30)