Friday Five

1. It’s Super Bowl weekend! I haven’t watched any of the “spoiler” commercials because I want to be surprised. I couldn’t care less about the actual game, but at least the commercials make the whole night bearable. I hear Budweiser made another emotional one. We’ll see if it’s my favorite again.

2. I had the best French Toast at a new restaurant near us on Wednesday, First Watch.  I had been to the one in Rockville and loved it. This one did not dissapoint either. The French Toast had fresh strawberries, kiwi, and bananas on top. Mmmmm heaven. Their coffee is great too! Jimmie of course wanted to nap when my food came, but he curled up on my chest and fell asleep. Cold French Toast was so worth it.

3. January is coming to an end and I am relieved. That just means we are that much closer to our vacation and to spring. I just hope it’s warm in Florida when we go! I started buying Disney gift cards from Target this week. You get 5% off when you buy them with your Target Redcard. A penny saved is a penny earned, right?

4. Chris Soules is continuing to disappoint me on The Bachelor. He really needs to step it up and stop being so shallow. Also, I like Kelsey. Everyone on the show thinks she is fake, but I think she is real. She doesn’t want to act dumb and party all the time. She knows what love and loss is like and she doesn’t want to experience that again. This is her second chance at love. I could see her being the next bachelorette if she doesn’t “win.” Which I honestly don’t think she will.

5. Jimmie is drooling up a storm this week, as per usual. Maybe another tooth is coming in? I think he is past his 8-9 month sleep regression, which is a relief, but he still has no interest in crawling. I have to keep telling myself that he will do it when he is ready. I’m just getting impatient!

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Gifts for your Baby’s First Valentine’s Day

I’m so excited to celebrate Jimmie’s first Valentine’s Day. Here are few fun things to buy for your little guy or gal this year.

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1. Smiling Tree heart teether – I love this wooden teether for many reasons. 1) It’s a heart, therefore it’s perfect for Valentine’s Day. 2) Free personalization! 3) A donation is made to the Peace Corps youth development programs with every purchase. (on sale!) (Shhhh this is what Jimmie is getting for Valentine’s Day)

2. Bright Stars Teethers – You really can’t have enough teethers. These heart shaped ones that you can freeze are perfect for your teething baby’s Valentine’s Day gift!

3. Gap Heart U slip-on sneakers - Aren’t these adorable? They would be perfect for both girls and boys! (on sale!)

4. Gap Heart U sweatshirt – And of course we need the matching sweatshirt. Also perfect for boys and girls! (on sale!)

5. Gap Heart U socks – I adore Gap socks. They stay on Jimmie’s feet the best and are oh-so-cute. (on sale!)

6. Carter’s Valentine’s sleep & play set – Jimmie has this set and he looks so sweet in it. Baby + mustache items are = a match made in heaven! (on sale!)

7. My Fuzzy Valentine – Oh Elmo, I love you! Books make great gifts any day of the week. Why not buy your sweetie a book they will love for years to come?

8. Eeyore Valentine’s Day Plush – Babies can never have enough cuddly toys. Eeyore is ready to give your baby tons of kisses.

9. MAM Rock N Roll Pacifiers – These pacifiers are the best and this design is the cutest!

What are you buying your baby for Valentine’s Day?

Book Review: When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney

whenDanny is an 18 year old orphan. Not only did he lose his dad in a car accident six years ago, he also lost his mother to cancer, 2 months shy of his graduation from high school. Danny’s sister lives in China and the only company he has in his family’s home in Santa Monica, California is his dog, Sandy Koufax. After graduation, Danny takes a s journey to what he calls his second home, Tokyo, Japan. His family has an apartment there where his mother spent a few days each month trying to find a cure for her cancer, her last hope. Danny hopes to find answers to many questions that he believes his mom’s former doctor can answer. He also hopes to understand more about his mother’s final months alive and why Japan made her so happy. Danny finds more than answers in Japan. He finds friendship; love; and most importantly, peace.

When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney left me breathless. It is rare that I find a book that I love from start to finish. It is also very rare that I read a book that surprises me. This novel has many surprises that are not only unexpected, but also sad. For a Young Adult novel, When You Were Here is very deep.

This book wasn’t all about death and dying. There were several times during the novel where I laughed. Danny’s valedictorian speech is epic. As in, if I was valedictorian in high school, I wish I would have had the guts to say exactly what he said. Because honestly, who doesn’t feel that way about high school?

What I loved most about When You Were Here is that it is mainly set in Japan. The depiction of Danny’s time in Japan reminded me so much of Korea; I wanted to crawl into the pages and explore with Danny and his new friend, Kana. I adore Kana. It’s funny because she is so much like Lola in Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins, except her creative outfits didn’t strike me as fake or weird. Although, in Asia, anything goes, nothing surprises me about the culture after living in Korea for so long. I was a little taken back by the robot making self serve ice cream in Japan, though. We did not have anything like that in Korea.

Another part of the book that pulled at my heart strings is the relationship Danny has with his dog. I just love a good dog character in a book and Sandy Koufax seemed to be the kind of dog that could write his own book. I wanted my dog to be best friends with Sandy. I could see them running on the beach together in California, chasing tennis balls. There aren’t many things sweeter than the love between a man and his pup.

There honestly isn’t anything I would change about When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney. I even liked the ending, which hardly ever happens. I do wish the book wasn’t as sad, even though I knew it would be a tear jerker. I’m glad I didn’t read it while I was pregnant. Hey, it you’re pregnant, don’t read this book. Consider yourself warned. That’s all I’ll say about that.

Walt Disney Wolrld “You Are Here” Starbucks Mugs

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Disney and Starbucks. My two favorite companies. It’s no secret that I love both of these brands and can talk about each one, individually, for hours. But both of them together? Oh, it’s a dream come true. Working in Walt Disney World as as a barista is on my bucket list, I kid you not. In the Starbucks I used to work at, I would sometimes tell customers to have a magical day, this was way before Starbucks and Disney joined hands to make the ultimate coffee shop.

When the majority of Disney fans were upset that Starbucks branding was going to ruin their magical parks, I was jumping for joy (literally).When we went to Disney last year, and I had my first Starbucks Drink in Magic Kingdom (black tea lemonade with one pump of classic,) I was in my happy place. As I walked through the Mainstreet Bakery. I thought about how awesome it would be if Starbucks created mugs for Disney, but I didn’t really see it happening. (Not only am I an avid Starbucks mug collector, but I also buy at least one Disney mug on every trip I go on, even when I say that I won’t be buying anymore.)

The other day, while going through my routine of reading several Disney blogs, I stumbled upon an article about Disney Starbucks mugs. I was elated because the article said that the mugs would be available before I went in March. Then reality struck me. I would either have to secretly buy them and stow them away in my luggage OR get rid of some of my mugs at home to make room. Since I was too excited to not tell Jim about them, I promised him I would donate a few old mugs to make room for the new mugs. We agreed that I would get rid of two mugs, and buy the Magic Kingdom Mug and the Epcot mug. I tricked him into saying he wanted the Animal Kingdom mug, but unfortunately for him (*cough*me) it will not be available when we go. I also am not sure if I want the Hollywood Studios mug, but figured I could ask my mom to bring me that one when she goes. (I’m clever, I know.)

Currently, the Epcot mug is available at the Fountain View in Epcot and the Magic Kingdom mug is available at the Main Street Bakery in Magic Kingdom. It has been reported that the Hollywood Studios Starbucks location, the Trolly Car Cafe, is due to open in February, which is when the mug will be available. The Animal Kingdom Starbucks will be opening later this year. All of the mugs are $14.95, which is bit expensive in my eyes (they’re usually around $9.95) but sometimes you just have to suck it up, close your eyes, and pay for it, because hey, it’s vacation.
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 Also available at all Starbucks locations in the parks are these ceramic mugs and acrylic cold beverage tumblers.

Friday Five

1. I registered for a library card this week. I am really excited to be able to borrow books from the library and read them on my Kindle. Only problem is, all the books I want to read are the same books everyone else wants to read too. I did download three books yesterday, two of which I am definitely going to read. I also borrowed three kids books from the library. You can borrow up to 99 books at a time. Crazy, right? Jimmie is in love with Cha Cha Chimps by Julia Durango. I may actually have to buy it. The first time we read it he cracked up. It is similar to 10 little monkeys jumping on the bed.

2. We ordered one of the new pizzas from Pizza Hut’s new menu this week, except they screwed it up. We ordered a 3 cheese stuffed crust pizza with creamy garlic Parmesan sauce and balsamic sauce drizzle. When I opened up the box there was no drizzle. I was pissed. You bet Pizza Hut got an angry letter from this girl. PLUS only three out of our five cheesy bread sticks had cheese on them. What the heck?

3. I didn’t do a Bachelor recap this week because Monday’s episode seemed more fake than normal. Jimmy Kimmel was the guest host who planned some weird dates for the girls, one of which was a trip to Costco. Ashley S. got another rose this week, which is mind blowing, as did Ashley I. Mackenzie is still around, even though she acted liked a child when she found our Chris was kissing everyone. And what’s the deal with Britt and Jillian cuddling and holding hands? Maybe they are finding true love in other ways on the show…

4. Jimmie went to his first baby and me class this week. He was in awe with all the babies. He hasn’t been around too many munchkins, up until this point, except for a few friends that have kids. He was happy the whole time and even squealed in delight when we were singing. We danced, sang songs, clapped, waved, and looked at bubbles. It was really fun and we are going to try to go every Wednesday at the library.

5. When did they start naming snow storms? Did this start when we were in Korea? Apparently Winter Storm Iola is supposed to hit the Northeast this weekend. Looks like we will be looking at the snow through the window again. ugh, hate snow!

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Tommee Tippee Stage 4 Cosmic Chewther

Most people know that Tommee Tippee makes bottles, but did you know that they make really cool teethers too? With Jimmie’s teeth coming in one after another, we really can’t have enough teethers to ease his pain. He has four teeth already at 8 1/2 months. I am constantly trying to find new things for him to not only chew on, but entertain him as well.

Jimmie really seems to enjoy gnawing on the Tommee Tippee Stage 4 Cosmic Chewther. The bright colors hold his attention. He also enjoys watching the outer circle twirl around the inner circle when he moves it. This stage four teether is geared towards 9 month babies and above, but can be used earlier than the suggested age. Jimmie started to enjoy it around 7 months. The Cosmic Chewther helps develop your baby’s jaw development which will aid in eating solids and talking.

The Stage 4 Cosmic Chewther is available in multiple colors: pink/purple, green/blue, and green/orange. I love the size of this teether because Jimmie is able to grab onto it and not drop it. He is also able to switch it from hand to hand, which helps develop his fine motor skills. All of the Tommee Tippee teethers are BPA free. Check out all four stages of Tommee Tippee teethers here.

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I was sent a Tommee Tippee teether in exchange for an honest review!

Book Revieww: Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

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Lola is a little different than most high school girls. She dresses like she is always in a play, has two fathers, and an older boyfriend whom her fathers hate. When her new neighbors move in, Lola’s world is turned upside down. The problem is, her new neighbors just happen to be old neighbors: A boy she used to love and a girl she used to hate. Lola knows she can’t ignore the boy who’s window is right across from hers, that broke her heart years ago, and the girl who never wanted her dating her brother. To make things even more interesting, Lola’s two friends are two people who you may be familiar with, Anna Oliphant and Etienne St. Clair, from Stephanie Perkins first novel Anna and the French Kiss.

I wasn’t going to continue reading Stephanie Perkin’s books after reading Anna and the French Kiss. Not because I didn’t love the book, I did, but I didn’t want to get sucked into another trilogy. When I thought Lola and the Boy Next Door wasn’t a continuation of Anna and St. Clair’s love affair, I was relieved. Then I read a review that said they were relevat characters in this novel, hence why I read it so soon after completing Anna and the French Kiss.

I’m glad I decided to continue on in this series by reading this novel. I was impressed how Lola and the Boy Next Door is a completely new story, with new characters, but how it also incorporates Anna and St, Clair into Lola’s life. I wish other characters from Anna and the French Kiss were incorporated as well, but we can’t have it all now, can we? I love how they work together and weave their way into other aspects of Lola’s life without having the book be all about them. (I would have rather had the book all about them, though, just saying.)

I didn’t love Lola as much as I love Anna, but she grew on me as the book went on. I thought she was too electric with all her costumes and agreed with her boyfriend when he accused her of being fake all of the time. I did, however, love the boy next door, Cricket. (I find it kind of strange that this is the second series I’ve read with a charter named Cricket [the first one being Nantucket Blue/Red], I honestly didn’t even know it was a “real” name.) It’s interesting how Cricket is related to Alexander Graham Bell and how his life has influenced his own in so many ways. His whole character intrigued me, just as St. Clair intrigued me in Anna and the French Kiss. Stephanie Perkins knows how to create a fictional male character that is so easy to fall in love with and swoon over.

This is the first Young Adult novel that I can remember reading that revolves around a character that has two dads. I’m glad that other types of families are being showcased in YA Literature and not just moms and dads, with two kids, that dwell in a suburban home, and live happily ever after. I never thought about how intimidating two dads would be when it came to dating their daughter. And believe me, Lola has two very protective dads; every hour date check-ins? That is ludicrous!

I was left unsatisfied with the ending. The whole novel led up to this one big event, then it arrived, and then the book was over. Sometimes I hate reading books on the Kindle, because I can’t tell how many pages are left. I guess I have to leave what comes next up to my own imagination. (Fan Fiction here I come.) I hope it somehow wraps back around to them in Isla and the Happily Ever After, the third book in this somewhat nontraditional book series. I haven’t read reviews or a synopsis on it yet, therefore I have no idea what it’s about and which characters reappear.

Friday Five

1. Jimmie’s fight with teething continues. Tooth number four made its appearance on Wednesday but is slowly pushing through his gums. Poor little guy has been up two nights so far. He looks at me with his big blue eyes and it melts my heart. I’m also very tired though. Hopefully a good night’s sleep is in our near future.

2. I want to see Whiplash. It has been nominated for an Academy Award for movie of the year. I had never even heard of it until yesterday when the nominees were announced on GMA. I will add it to my list of movies to see when they come out on DVD. Gone Girl came out this week on DVD, which is also on my list. Divergent is on my DVR, which has been on my list for a long time, as well. See the trend? When do I have time to watch an entire movie in one sitting? Also, this “list” is a metaphorical list because I never remember to start an actual list.

3. I made one of the worst crockpot meals last night, chicken and dumplings. It was easy, smelled good, and looked good, but tasted terrible. I have been craving Cracker Barrel’s chicken and dumplings for a while now (or anything from there!!) but we do not have one near us. What a disappointing meal.

4. Winter is really starting to bum me out. I really need to get out in the sun more and soak up the vitamin D. Snow stinks, the cold stinks, and the way Maryland acts when it snows is out of control. The library had a delayed opening the other day because there was a dusting. I can’t even call it a dusting because when I looked out the window at 8 AM, only the tops of the cars had snow on them.

5. Gas is below two dollars in Maryland. I honestly never thought I would see the day when gas would be this cheap again. It hasn’t been this low since Jim and I started dating six years ago! I wonder how long it will last and how low it will go. We have been taking advantage of the cheap gas and taking spontaneous road trips. Last weekend we paid a visit to West Virginia. Little Jimmie has been to 9 states, so far, in his mere 8 months of life. He’s my little explorer.

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The Bachelor Season 19, Episode 2: Chris Soules’ Search for Alien Love

Now that the excitement of glitz and glam has worn off, Chris is ready to get down to business and find his one true love. Chris clearly doesn’t have a type and states that he will know who is meant for him when he falls in love with her. Until then, he will have fun kissing all the wrong girls. Because that’s what this show is about right? Seeing how many girls you can kiss before you find that one person whom you will kiss for the rest of your life?

The episode begins where it left off last week, with Kimberly coming back to the set to ask Chris for another chance at love. She tells him that they didn’t get a chance to talk all night, and she really thinks they will have a connection if they talk. She admits to the camera that she is a basket case but Chris doesn’t seem to mind too much because he says she can stay. When he returns with Kimberly, the rest of the girls cheer. Why? I have no idea because cheering is probably the appropriate thing they could think of doing while sitting on the floor with their nice dresses.

The next day Chris Harrison tells the girls there are no rules this season meaning that they can break into Chris’ home while he isn’t there (i.e. crazy Megan and Jillian) and scope the place out, whenever they want. The laws do not exist on the bachelor. Breaking and entering is A-okay.

On the first group date, only six girls are chosen. Kimberly, Ashley I., Jade, Mackenzie, Tara, and Tandra get to hang out with Chris all day, at least they think they do. Chris tells the girls they are going to have a pool party, and they are very excited. Except not really because they were probably hoping for a little something more entertaining. After the pool party, Chris takes the girls on a walk through LA in their bikinis. Turns out, Chris has a big ol’ tractor race planned. (Because girls wear bikinis in Iowa when they work on the farm…)

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Image Credit: ABC/ Rick Rowell

The girls get excited (of course) and Ashley I. wins. She gets special alone time on the tractor with Chris where she proves that she is really is “more Kardashian than country” (those earrings…really?) After champagne in the tractor, Chris returns to the rest of the group to tell them that he’s had a great day, but he wants to have an even better night with just Mackenzie. Now the real question is, where did Tara get her bathing suit? I want it.

Onto the “first” made-up one-on-one date. Mackenzie and Chris go to a bar while Chris silently prays that she is old enough to legally drink. She tells Chris how she loves big noses, which is why she likes him so much. “Hey Chris, I like big noses, aliens, and I like have a kid…” Because really, that’s kind of how it all went down. She explained that her child is “like amazing” and started  act like a child (I mean she is only 21) when she started to talk about him. But hey, if Chris wants to marry someone like her, she is obviously there for the right reasons: To find an accomplished baby daddy.

The next day Mackenzie tells everyone how she kissed Chris “like 5 or 6 times.” Kiss and tell? Does that normally happen on this show? Juan Pablo wouldn’t approve….

Megan gets the first real one-on-one date, which surprises me because I don’t even remember her from last week. They take a helicopter ride over the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon, where they picnic and kiss. I honestly was bored out of my mind on their date and really couldn’t focus on what they were saying because Megan’s eyebrows were so distracting. Chris seemed to like her though, and says it was the most romantic date he has ever had. Sorry Andi….

Onto the second group date where Kelsey, Britt, Amber, Kaitlyn, Ashley S., Juelia, Alissa, Trina, Jillian, Tracy, and Becca get to shoot zombies with Chris. Kaitlyn is stoked because shooting zombies is her “jam” and Ashley S. is stoked because she gets to shoot the other girls….oh wait, that’s not part of the game, psychopath. This has to have been the weirdest and scariest date ever. Is this what people in Iowa do for fun? Plan for the next apocalypse?

After some paintball fun, Chris spends some one-on-one time with the girls. Britt gets a kiss card, but not a rose. Kaitlyn gets a kiss and the rose, which upsets Britt. Kaitlyn also admits to Chris that her last relationship ended because she didn’t want to put her life on hold and live in Germany anymore, but she seems to be into her new plan of putting her life on hold and living in Iowa for the rest of her life…

I think the most unsettling part of this group date was Ashley S. and her real life zombie problem. Is this girl for real? According to the girls on the show, she really is crazy, but I have my doubts. No one can be that crazy and still get a rose at the end of the episode. Chris states that he just isn’t ready to give up on her and needs some one on one time to see her true colors. I just hope she doesn’t have the “boom” conversation with him too. He is too nice for this kind of crazy.

At the cocktail party, Ashley S. tells Mackenzie that she has never had a boyfriend and is a virgin. Mackenzie then reacts by saying that she is jealous and wishes she was a virgin too, pretty much saying she wishes she didn’t have her kid. And really, who thinks Ashley S. is a virgin? Her make out session with Chris was a bit too intense to not have ever had a boyfriend.

Chris starts kissing everyone during this cocktail party, including Amber. Amber goes and tells her friends. Jordan wants in on the kissing action and tries to sloppily kiss Chris on their one on one time. She has had a bit too much to drink, which seems to be a regular occurrence, and surprisingly, Chris shoots her down.

At the rose ceremony Kimberly gets the boot (again), Tara is left empty handed, and so is Tandra, Jordan, and Alissa. I’m sure ABC encouraged Chris to keep Ashley S. around for a least one more week. I hope she gets a one on one, at least then the show may be semi-interesting. I’m sorry, but this week was a yawn fest. These girls need to step it up and Chris needs to start getting rid of the trash. The people in Iowa are holding their breath hoping that Ashley I. and Mackenzie don’t make it back to the farm or else they are going to be rurally pissed.

In other Bachelor news, Andi Dorfman and Josh Murray mutually decided to end their engagement. Does this mean she will be a surprise guest on Chris’s season and ask for a second chance at love? If Kimberly did it, why can’t Andi? Now there’s a twist that no one will see coming.