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12 Things I Want for My 29th Birthday

Today is my 29th birthday and it will probably be the least eventful birthday of my 29 trips around the sun. Living off of one-income doesn't leave much wiggle room for discretionary birthday spending. Chuck's birthday was a week and a half ago, so we decided that for presents this year, we'd each buy a pair of athletic shoes that were desperately needed. We went shopping together last month, bought our sneakers, and that was pretty much the extent of our birthday gift-giving. #adulting

Tomorrow evening we were invited to a dinner event for a professional organization I'm affiliated with. Chuck's Mom has thankfully agreed to babysit so we can attend- it will be our first date night in months. Again, #adulting.

Since this year is slightly unexciting on the birthday front, I'm daydreaming about all the things I can't afford or can't realistically pull off with two children in tow.


1. Bat Shelter. I genuinely love our house, but there is one thing that I don't love. Our backyard is teeming with insects. We have crickets that get into our basement, ants building ant hills all over our driveway, bumblebees buzzing around our back patio, and mosquitoes that prevent us from enjoying summer nights around our fire pit. I really want to get a bat shelter to keep our insect population in check!

2. Cravings: Recipes for All the Food You Want to Eat. This was one of my 10 best reads in 2016. I originally borrowed this cookbook from my library, but I made so many recipes and grew to love it so much that I now want a copy for myself!

3. Acrylic 20-Bottle Spice Rack. Now that I'm cooking all the time, I'm totally preoccupied with how to reorganize and decorate my kitchen. The first step is organizing my 10,000 spice bottles!


4. Nikon D3300. If you read my confession about wanting to be a full-time blogger, you know I've been lusting after a DSLR camera for ages. This is the one I've had my eye on and with any lucky (and additional income), I'm hoping to get it by year's end.

5. ALL THE SUCCULENTSI'm really trying to turn our home into a living, breathing little plant-filled oasis. I want to deck out our currently sad and barren master bedroom with shelves and hanging baskets filled with this beauties.

6. Wood Mug Rack. Our little dining room coffee station is constantly cluttered and I've been eyeing this mug rack to add some much needed dimension to our bare walls, and clear out some cabinet space in our kitchen!


7. Folding Step Ladder. I'm not sure how we've managed to even be homeowners this long without a step ladder, but we need it ASAP so I can paint all the things!

8. HONEST BEAUTY Luminizing Powder. I first got this at a steep discount when Honest released their beauty line. I seriously love this stuff so much on those days when I want to trade in my sleepless, Mombie skin tone for something with a little more color.

9. Floating Wall Shelf Ledge. I've been eyeing something like this to display my collection of photo albums and the boys' baby books in our living room.


10. Hand Painted Mexican Tiles. And speaking of my living room, I'm itching to replace our ugly reddish fireplace tiles with some hand painted Mexican tiles to add some color and character to the room.

11. Jumbo Grid 2017 Calendar. Chuck got me one of these for Christmas two years ago and I loved it. I thought I could get away with just a cheapo, standard all calendar, but I miss my jumbo-sized calendar taking up all my dining room wall space!

12. SLEEP. Please dear children, let me sleep.


Some Days, Motherhood Just Needs a Halftime

As I write this, it feels like 50/50 odds that I will actually finish it in time to be published tomorrow morning because my brain is hanging on by a thread. Not to mention, I have 10 minutes until the timer for my frozen pizza goes off and it's all over after that. I fully intend to eat all the feelings.

Everyone warns you that once you become a parent, you'll never sleep again. There's no real way that you can prepare for it, but you do your best to be as mentally prepared and you stumble through those first few newborn months with as much coffee and grace as you can muster. The thing is, the sleep deprivation is only a small factor in that bone-weary, unrelenting exhaustion and overwhelm that you feel every single day.

I love motherhood. I love my boys. And I don't regret having them so close in age, nor quitting my job to spend my days with them (even at the expense of our bank account). But this season is so damn exhausting. The only thing I need right now is "me" time. My introversted self is constantly running on empty because there's simply no time away from people for me to recharge. So I just operate in survival mode, doing the best I can with these sweet babies of mine, all the while not doing anything to take care of myself.

I worked in social services and I fully understand the importance of self-care. But what happens when self-care is impossible? What happens when your bank account cannot justify hiring a babysitter for a night so that you and your husband, whom you miss dearly, can escape for a long overdue date night? What happens when your husband is working two jobs to support the family and needs his own me time to recuperate, leaving you with children to tend to 24/7?

I'm really not trying to be self-pitying (okay, maybe a little) and being in this exhausted state makes me questions how single moms and military spouses can possibly do this. But this season is really difficult. The baby snugs and toddler silliness makes the days joyful, but it is a joy peppered with weariness.

Some days, motherhood just needs a halftime. 


9 Best Audiobooks for Long Commutes

It's been entirely too long since I've written a reading-related post. Sadly, because not much reading has happened in the last few months as I've been juggling multiple side projects. However, as I'm going through and trying to clean up my blog, I'm getting so much new post inspiration and one topic that I haven't covered is audiobooks!

Before I quit my job in November, I traveled frequently for work. My commute was an hour one-way and then on top of that, I usually had to conduct at least 2 site visits per week; some of which were on the other side of the state. This made for a ton of driving and thankfully I discovered the magic that is audiobooks. I've never tried an Audible Membership or other audiobook subscription service. I just stopped by the magical world of Narnia my local library and utilized their inter-library loan to get whatever I wanted! The Ohio Digital Library also carries audiobooks, in addition to e-books so I've never wanted for an audiobook.

Whichever way you choose to listed, here are my 9 best audiobooks for long commutes:
(Disclaimer: The Harry Potter series is a no-brainer, so I've opted not to include it. Also, it's a driving hazard. Sobbing after Dobby dies while you're driving down the highway is not a great idea. Believe me.)


Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) makes long drives feel not so lonely. It feels like Mindy is in the passenger seat filling you in on her latest gossip and neuroses. It's fun, humorous, and smart- just like Mindy.

Have a Little Faith completely lifted my spirits and restored my faith in humanity (which is totally necessary when dealing with jerks who refuse to use their blinkers!). The story is his memoir of an eight-year span of his life where he built relationships with his rabbi and an inner-city Christian pastor. He talks about how the men shaped his understanding of Judaism and Christianity, as well as his own faith.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society for fans of The Nightingale and Pride and Prejudice. If you like historical fiction, this is a terrific take on WWII, focusing on the German occupation of a small, British island and the lives of its inhabitants. There's also a love story buried in there, which never hurts.


The Night Circus was recommended to me by my librarian friend because Jim Dale also narrates the Harry Potter series. I like listening to fantasy in the car because it manages to keep my attention, where I might get bored or drowsy with other genres. If you like Harry Potter or Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, this would be right up your alley.

The Boston Girl is unique in that it's not very plot-driven. The main character is an old woman telling her life's story of growing up in Boston to her grandchildren. I'm not doing a great job of selling it, but trust me that it's amazingly well-written. It makes for the perfect audiobook because it genuinely feels like you're sitting down for a conversation with your own grandmother and fills you with nostalgia.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is my go-to book recommendation whenever anyone asks me. I cannot begin to describe how good the writing is and the twist at the end will sucker punch you right in the feels. It is so freaking melancholy, but absolutely beautiful. 


The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy is the sequel to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. It's technically not really a sequel. It's the same story, but told from another character's perspective and if possible, is even better than the original. Like it's predecessor, this book will hit you right in the feels.

Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation is for every kid who loved Bill Nye the Science Guy. I am not a science-y person by any means, but Bill Nye's book about evolution (as well as a range of other scientific topics) not only kept me engaged and taught me so much about biology and the natural world, but it totally blew my mind. Seriously, this book is amazing if you're someone like me who wants to know more about evolution, GMOs, and climate change but is completely out of your element.

The Graveyard Book is unlike any book you've ever read. No offense to Neil Gaiman, because this book truly is terrific; but my favorite part of the audiobook is the transitional music in between chapters. It was so cool and spooky and fit in perfectly with the tone of the book. I was so impressed with it, that I looked up the musician behind it and it was none other than Béla Fleck! Chuck listens to Bela Fleck all the time and I didn't even realize it was him, but if you've never heard him before, he's outstanding. 

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Do you have suggestions for audiobooks perfect for lengthy drives? Please share!