Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Kelly's 2015 Book Recommendations

*Sorry for the hiatus. It was part technical difficulties and part lack of time. I’ll be back at least once more this week to do a Max update. After that, who can really be sure :) 

I haven’t been able to totally interest myself in book podcasts, but I do love the book recommendation ones so this year I’m going to try to do my own book recommendations. Of course I don’t have people writing to me asking what I would recommend for so and so, but we can pretend. These are based on books I read in 2015 only. Lots of good ones to choose from!

Sorry in advance for the weird sizing of the books. 

If you are in the mood for something different...

Books2015and Hyperbole2

A story told through poetry and a comic series, these two have nothing in common with each other and are unlike the books that most people I know read. Despite how different they are, and maybe because they are so different, I recommend both of them. 

If you want to read nonfiction that reads like fiction...

Books2015 7

Eric reads nonfiction before bed because it won’t suck him in and keep him awake. But this one will. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. 

If you like to read...

Books2015 11

Seriously, this book is for everyone. I don’t know anyone who didn’t like it. It’s got comedy, adventure, science and so much more. Some parts do get a bit technical, but I promise it won’t ruin the story if you just skim those. 

If you love historical fiction...

Books2015 6

Which I think is everyone I know who reads. Ha. 

If you want a young adult book with a unique love story and a taste of the immigrant experience...

Books2015 9

You’ll never learn what it’s like to be an immigrant from a book, but this will give you a glimpse. It will also invite you into a young love story that differs from the typical one quite a bit. I read this book in about two days while sick, so I think it’s a quick but really good read. 

If you have ever dreamed about living on a summer island in the offseason, or enjoy stories about people starting over...

Books2015 4

While Still Alice is my favorite Lisa Genova book, I learned to love some of her other books this year. I’d definitely recommend this one along with Inside the O’Briens.

If you like psychological thrillers/ being kind of freaked out.


I feel like these type of books are in right now… Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, Gone Girl, Girl on a Train, etc. These two were both good but less popular. 

If you are planning a trip to Savannah...


I know, you probably aren’t, but you should. It’s a beautiful, small southern city. They have amazing food, tons of history and things to do, and most importantly you can order a drink at a bar and take it out on the street to enjoy their beautiful warm weather. While you are there, read this amazing book and then have fun walking by all the places you are reading about. 

If you want a quick-read, page-turner...


This book was recommended to me by a friend at work and I got it for free on my Kindle. The perfect book for reading in one weekend or on a plane ride. 

Let me know if you try any of these books and leave me a recommendation in the comments!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Max: 18 Months

It's hard to imagine that when I last wrote about Max, I was discussing snow!!! Summer has been the best thing ever in Max land. Water, water everywhere! The boss baby turned 18 months on July 17th, so he is officially over halfway to 2! 

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 Max at 18 months is a child who just loves life. That's the only way to describe it. There are so many things and people that he loves and if he sees anything he loves, his arms start flapping and the excitement begins following by running (often on his tip toes) towards what he loves. Let's see if I can list all of the things Max loves: slides, swings, sprinklers, water (lakes, oceans etc), ice cream, cookies, books, bees, dogs, lights, parks, trucks especially fire trucks, other kids, merry go rounds, adventures… I'm probably forgetting something here!

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Max loves to point to things so he can be often found walking around just pointing to everything he likes and wants. However, he is starting to say more and more words every day. For awhile now he's been saying Mama, Dada (or Daddy), Nonna, Pops, Nana, doggie, bees, bye bye and for awhile he was saying light but I haven't heard that word lately. His recent words include dinnah (dinner), book, milk, more, again, pool, dunk (as in slam dunk haha) door, and no. I was hoping we could avoid the word no for awhile, but he has invented a sign language he uses for no (kind of similar to all done) and he uses that while also saying no, so he definitely gets what it means.  If you ask him to say something he will always say "bye bye" and look at you with a devilish smile that clearly says "you can't make me." But, he is also very agreeable. If you ask him if he wants to do something, like "do you want to go to the park?" "do you want to brush your teeth?" he will almost always say "Yaya!" 

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I may have mentioned this in a previous post, but Max absolutely loves books. He picks up several books a day and demands someone read them to him. If he is upset about something or wants to do something he shouldn't, I can often distract him with a book. He used to be very picky about his books and would only want to read 1 or 2 books for weeks at a time. Now he is still opinionated about his books, but he likes a very wide variety of books, many that involve trucks and fire engines. We have been taking Max to the library at the Cape this summer and he loves to play with all the toys. But, he also loves looking at the books and took out 3 books of his own for the first time! One was about fire engines, one about sheep and one was a word book. Speaking of word books, he loves them too. He turns to a page and we say, "where is the giraffe?" and he points to it. 


He was so excited to see a gorilla at the zoo because one of his favorite books is "Goodnight Gorilla." Luckily, this one did not get out of his cage! 

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Of course, even the most adorable and amazing kids (not biased at all) cannot be perfect all the time. Max has his share of toddler tantrums which are infinitely worse if he is tired or bored. I had a rookie mom move at the aforementioned library visit where I let him play and read for over an hour and THEN decided to fill out the forms to get myself a library book. Max started banging on a mirror thing right near the desk and when I pulled him away he completely flipped out. First major public tantrum in a quiet library? Well, of course. Luckily this is where being a kindergarten teacher is helpful because while it was a little bit stressful trying to actually remember my own address filling out the forms, I was mostly just like, toddlers will be toddlers. Tantrums at home are usually about not being allowed to do something he wants to do, like go out a door or get his "doggie" when it's not bedtime etc. The other day he had his first official "time out" because he would not stop throwing his trucks off my mom's nice wooden table onto her nice wood floor. He definitely does not get the concept of a "time out" yet so I basically just took him to another part of the room and made him sit on his lap for 1 minute. It also didn't work because he went right back to truck throwing after, so now the trucks are taking LONG time out in the closet. At this stage, distraction/redirection seems to be my best discipline method so that's usually the way I go whenever possible. 


Another thing that really grinds my gears is toddler eating. Don't get me wrong, I love eating but I wish both I and my child did not HAVE to eat, we just could if we wanted to. So much time is wasted thinking of meal ideas, buying food, cooking said food, cleaning up after eating, blah blah. Feeding a picky toddler is a new level of annoying. One day he likes something, the next day he doesn't, each day he seems to like less and less. He doesn't like a single fruit or veggie unless it's in pureed form and randomly will hate other random things. When he doesn't want it he will basically scream GET THIS OFF MY PLATE without saying those words and instead whines with the food held out in front of him like it's very presence on his tray make actually kill him. Even when he is happy with what he is eating, there is still a TON of whining at meal times. The only foods he will consistently eat are chips, cookies, yogurt and purees. He also likes blueberry bars from Trader Joe's (kind of like fruit), waffles with peanut butter, bagels with cream cheese, cheese and crackers, inner peas, bread, and rice. Occasionally he almost seems like a good eater and will eat our turkey pasta or a thai chili dish that Eric makes. I suppose I can't really complain but I'm telling you, 3 meals a day + 2 snacks a day of whining and flailing around really make me wish eating was not necessary haha. 


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It's so clear to me every day just how much I am not a baby mom. Of course I LOVED Max as a baby, but I enjoy this time so much more. All of that "oh, just wait until he is walking, then it will get hard!" comments people love to make have not yet proven to be true for me. I love him walking around and communicating and enjoying all of our crazy adventures. I love the laughing as he runs through the sprinkler, the building a tower from blocks, the stepping on sand castles, the conversations about what different animals say, the actual playing with other kids. Yup, I'm saying it again, this is my new favorite age. I suppose at some point it will not be my favorite age, the question is, will that be during the terrible twos or the teenager years? Ha ha.  

I was planning to get into motherhood at 18 month in this post, but I think this is long enough. Maybe that will be it's own post :) Thanks for reading!

Friday, July 31, 2015

Happy Friday!

Thanks everyone for reading all my trip recap posts! I'm glad no one from Portland got TOO angry about my less than stellar review! I definitely admit that 4 days in any place is not long enough to make a definite opinion about it, so perhaps I'll be back again and stay more outside the city next time. I also really want to get down to the Crater Lake area of Oregon as well. So much to do and so little time. 

I was going to do a TGIF post, but let's be honest- I'm not thankful it's Friday as my life is a weekend right now and every Friday that occurs is one day closer to another class of kindergarten kids who act like preschoolers, le sigh!

So, let's call this a Happy Friday post instead...

The high of my week was… so many things. We took Max to the zoo, where he loved seeing the gorillas! My friends Cristina and Katie visited with Max's little buds. We took a boat ride. Eric and I had a dinner by ourselves. Plus any time I do an open water swim at Walden, that is a highlight. Too many things to choose from! 

The low of my week was… If last Saturday counts as part of my week, then Max waking up at 8:30PM screaming bloody murder was definitely the low. He never wakes up then (I was wondering if he was ever asleep?) so we went in to try to calm him down. I think maybe he had a night terror. I would've let him fall asleep on me, but he kept waking up and screaming so we eventually just had to let him calm himself by falling asleep. We felt terrible though. 

A book I am reading is… The Snow Child. I think I mentioned this book before because I've been reading it for awhile. I like it, but apparently not enough to actually READ! 

For my workouts I completed…a 1/2 mile open water swim Sunday, a 2 mile run on Monday, a lift on Wednesday and hopefully a run today. I signed up for my first sprint triathlon in 2 years (last one I did was when I was pregnant with Max but didn't know it, did not feel great for that!) on this past weekend. The tri is September 13th. I've been working out regularly for awhile now, but not necessarily tri training. To be honest, I don't plan to do much formal training but I will make sure I bike at least once before the race, ha ha. 

The best money I spent was… a yummy dinner out at a French restaurant and cupcakes for dessert! 

My plans this weekend include… my aunt, uncle and cousins are coming to visit and we have a baptism on Sunday, so it should be a fun weekend. I am going to try to pretend August 1st isn't coming and that I don't have to go into work early on Monday morning, ha ha. 

What are your plans for the weekend? 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Oregon: Part 2

On our second full day in Portland, we again headed out of the city… this time, WEST! 

Less than two hours later, hello Cannon Beach. 

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Cannon Beach is one of the small coastal towns along the Oregon Coast. It's filled with cute shops and restaurants and less than a block away is this beautiful beach with the famous Haystack Rock. 

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The coast was nice and cool and we didn't hate the break from the crazy heat. We took a nice long walk along tho beach and then ate lunch in the town. We had planned to go down the coast a little more but the traffic was too crazy so we just enjoyed as much as we could of Cannon Beach and then headed back to Portland. 

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When we arrived back in the city, we decided to try the #1 rated restaurant on Tripadvisor, because why not? It was a Peruvian restaurant and neither of us have ever had Peruvian food, but we are now both obsessed. There is no possible way I can do this restaurant justice, it was that good. It was called Andina. The drinks were delicious and the food was even better. The only disappointing thing is that this restaurant is not closer to us in every day life!IMG 4342

The next morning we returned our rental car and set off to explore Portland.

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Our first stop was the Chinese Garden, which was a really cool place to relax in the heart of the city. 

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We ordered some tea in the tea house and planned the rest of our day. Next, we walked down by the river and then back up to our hotel area to check out all the food trucks. IMG 3539

Eric and I both really like the idea of food trucks, but other than our cool food truck festival experience a few years ago, our only other experience was a not so great one in Vancouver (probably just a fluke) so we were a little hesitant. However, I had the MOST DELICIOUS possible food truck meal ever in Portland. Yes, I have the authority to say this with my very limited actual food truck experience. The food truck was called Nong's Khao Man Gai and they serve chicken and rice bowls, though it's really more of paper than a bowl but really, so good. 

In the afternoon, we took the train (called THE MAX) across the river to Widmer Brewery. We 

sat at the bar and Eric ordered a flight to try and I got my beloved Widmer Hefe. 

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Our last stop in Portland was Portland City Grill, a delicious restaurant on the 30th floor with a great view. 

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My overall thoughts on Portland as a city remain mixed. I have always been a city person, but the last few years I feel like I have started to enjoy being out of the city more and more. There are some cities in the world I could visit 100 times and never feel satisfied: Sydney, Washington DC, Rome, London (to name a few)… and then there are cities that I don't hate, but I just don't feel a burning need to return to (Munich and Athens are two of these cities). I think Portland joins the latter group. The food was good, and the day trip possibilities unbeatable, but I guess next time I would probably stay outside of the city . The downtown area was not particularly pretty or walkable, both things I value in a city. I have heard that Portland is a great city to live in, and I can believe that. They have great food, healthy living and I swear there was always live music outside somewhere! I just feel like for visiting, if I have to drive everywhere, I might as well be outside the city.

That being said, I'm definitely not done with the state of Oregon. I only saw a small part of the beauty this state has to offer, so I will be back. 

What are your favorite cities? Are there any cities you liked okay but don't feel a burning need to revisit? Or any cities you don't like at all? 


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Oregon: Part 1

Oregon has been on my places to visit list for awhile, and I'm glad I got to get a small taste of it on our trip a few weeks ago. We stayed in Paramount Hotel in downtown Portland for our whole visit. I had heard great things about Portland and the surrounding area, so I had high expectations. I'm not sure the city itself met my expectations (more on that later), but Oregon itself really is a beautiful place. 

Our first night in Portland, we took a short walk to find some dinner and to check out Powell's books. This is the largest new and used bookstore IN THE WORLD. It takes up an entire city block! The inside was amazing too and I wanted to buy ALL the books, but I settled on a giant truck book for Max that I couldn't even find on Amazon. Luckily I had room in my suitcase (I only carried on, but not packing for Max I felt like I had all the space!) If you are in Oregon, stop here and you will not be disappointed. 

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The next morning, we got up early, grabbed some food at Starbucks and headed out to do the Columbia River Gorge. I think one of the best things about Portland is just how close it is to amazing, amazing things. Our first stop was Multnomah Falls. This is the view from the bottom...

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We decided to do the hike to the top, which is approximately 1 mile up, probably a little more and mostly uphill so it was definitely some effort but fun and worth it at the end! 

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This beautiful hike and view was less than 45 minutes from downtown Portland! 

Our next stop was at the Bonneville Lock and Dam, also a cool stop! 

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Finally, we ended our day at Cathedral Ridge Winery. Delicious wine, and gorgeous views of Mt. Hood. 

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There is honestly so much more you could do in this area, including a visit to Mt. Hood itself, but it involves a lot more driving and we weren't looking to have a crazy long day. This day allowed us some time to relax back at the hotel, which is a must do when on vacation for me! 

For dinner that night, we headed to a place called Sasquatch Brewery, and I got to meet one of my first blog friends! I don't even know for how many years "Sneaker Teacher" and I have been friends, but it's a long time! I always get really nervous to meet blog friends that I really like in real life because what if we just don't get along as well or they don't like me, or I'm just awkward? But, luckily I feel like we could've talked for way longer than we did and I loved meeting her super adorable and really fun girls as well. Also, her restaurant choice was perfect- I loved both my veggie burger and my beer. I only wish that we lived closer or even taught at the same school, because I would learn even more than I already have from her, and have fun too! 

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This is getting long so I'm going to do one more post about the trip later this week. I'll talk about the Oregon Coast and more about Portland itself. 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Bainbridge, Poulsbo, and Driving to Oregon

The next stop on our Pacific Northwest trip was Bainbridge Island. Those of you Sarah Jio fans know that she has written at least one (maybe more than one?) book that takes place on this island so I've always wanted to visit. The ferry from Seattle is beyond easy and the view is unbeatable. IMG 3356

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Once we arrived on Bainbridge Island, we headed to lunch at Harbour Public House. Apparently they are close enough to Canada that they spell it the Canadian way. The restaurant had good pub food and even better views, but they don't allow kids so good thing Max was at home. 

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After our lunch, we left the island (drove over a bridge) and into Poulsbo. My friend Ryan, who got married, has been many amazing places in the world so I figured he would pick somewhere beautiful to get married but even still he exceeded my expectations. Poulsbo is amazing and I seriously wish we had stayed longer than just one day. Our hotel was called Suquamish Clearwater Casino Resort and the wedding was at Kiana Lodge which was down the street (actually down the beach to be exact, ha ha). I cannot say enough good things about this hotel. It was AMAZING. I'm not a big casino person but actually you would NOT know a casino was even there. We had a gorgeous water view for $130 a night and I had no complaints about the room itself either. There was even a fun indoor/outdoor pool that Eric and I killed some time at while waiting to check in. Have I mentioned I really wish we stayed longer? Such a beautiful place! 

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 This was our view and I don't feel like this picture does it justice. 

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 The wedding itself was perfect and it's always a blast to hang out with some of my college friends that I don't see enough in everyday life. The morning after the wedding, we enjoyed one last wedding breakfast with friends and then headed off to Oregon. At breakfast I jokingly asked if anyone knew anything to do on the drive down to Oregon and one of Ryan's other friends mentioned a Mexican restaurant to eat lunch at. On the drive there I definitely thought he might be trying to get us killed in the middle of nowhere, but I swear Washington state has a way of having SUCH good restaurants in the middle of nothing else you'd ever want to see. I'm still thinking about the Thai food I had after a hike on my last trip… But anyway, back to the ridiculously good authentic Mexican food at La Tarasca. I also loved the waitresses who were balancing an entire kids baseball team in a small restaurant and still managed to get us our food quickly and be nice the whole time. 

Last stop on this day was crossing a new state off the list! Oregon :) It has definitely been up on my list for awhile so I was pretty excited to cross the border! 

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TStay tuned for our adventures in Oregon! 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

They Lie about the Rain in Seattle

It's a few weeks late, but I did want to recap our amazing trip to the Pacific Northwest at the beginning of the summer. The reason for the trip was a wedding of one of my college friends in Poulsbo, Washington. We were especially lucky because my parents were watching Max for the week, so we got to enjoy some *true* relaxation and didn't have to worry about nap times during all our adventures. Don't worry, Max didn't miss us too much- he loves spending time with his grandparents! I think we missed him a lot more than he missed us. 

Our first stop on the trip was Seattle. You may recall we visited Seattle a few years ago as part of the trip to Amber's Wedding! That was the ideal Seattle trip because we were there for a week and had my college roommate who grew up in Seattle showing us around. This time we only had one full day in Seattle, so we didn't even try to replicate the awesomeness of our last trip. Instead, we just enjoyed some time in a city we both really love. 

We stayed at an Air BnB in Belltown, which is a really fun area of Seattle about a 1/2 mile from Pike's Place and right along the waterfront. We loved the apartment and the area, but Seattle was having a heat wave and there was no AC or air flow at all in the apartment so we were happy to only spend two nights there. I have yet to see any of this rain Seattle is so known for...

Our full day in Seattle included a trip to Pike's Place. I know it's a touristy area, but if I lived in Seattle i would visit this place at least weekly. I seriously had a peach from here that cannot be rivaled EVER, it was that good. A few of my favorite views...

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We were happy to actually see the famous fish throwing because we visited last time on July 4th so the market was a lot quieter. 

After our market visit, we ate a quick picnic lunch and then took a fun boat cruise. We took a Locks Cruise that started in Lake Union, went through the Ballard Locks, and then ended in Puget Sound. It was a great way to spend a warm day and see some of the fun sights of Seattle. A few highlights were: the house boats from Sleepless in Seattle, Gasworks Park where we watched the fireworks a few years ago, and a few of Mt. Rainier. 

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We also ate two delicious meals in Seattle. The first was right near our apartment called Red King Crab. I had delicious crab sushi, it's all about crab on the west coast I'm telling you. The second night we went to a place called The Pink Door. Obviously you know I'd love this place for name alone, but the food was also amazing and the place had AC, so it was a triple win for us. IMG 4239

Seattle was a win overall, an awesome city to visit! 

*For the record, I'm mostly joking about the title of this post. I get that I would probably see rain if I didn't come in the summer :)