January/February Books

Time for a check-in? (How are you? Me, I am slowly losing my mind, as evidenced by the fact that I named this post “January/March Books” and only caught it when I was changing the name of the permalink.)

So far this year, I’ve finished four books (I’m counting the March trilogy as one). I swear I read another audiobook but I can’t seem to place it if I did (I probably didn’t – my attention span prefers podcasts these days).

The Serpent King

The Serpent King was recommended to me by a bunch of people, but I finally got around to reading it when it was the Forever YA book club pick last month. None of these people adequately prepared me for what I was going to experience.

This book destroyed me. It completely wrecked me. I was uncontrollably sobbing in my bed for at least 70 pages of this thing. Y’all need to warn me about this. But keep sending me these kinds of recommendations. It reminds me that I do still love reading.

The Winner’s Crime

This is the second in the series. I am still intrigued enough to keep going but this one failed to hold my interest as well as the first. Middle books are hard to talk about…

Scrappy Little Nobody

Ben and I listened to this one on the long drive back from Michigan on New Year’s Day. We like listening to books like this on drives like that. Now that E is older, we usually reserve it for when he is sleeping or firmly entrenched in a show on his tablet. We both like Anna Kendrick and enjoyed her self-deprecating approach to storytelling in this book.


So this book turned out to be timely. I started reading it the weekend I traveled to DC for the Women’s March and I finished it during black history month (all while our democracy is being pushed to its limits). This was inspiring and should be read by everyone.


What is your favorite read so far this year?

A Day in the Life…Part 3

I haven’t been around much. I know. It is taking me about 6-8 weeks to read a book and I don’t have much motivation to review any of them.

These posts were well-received in the past so I thought I’d do a new day in the life of post to show you what I am doing instead.

My new normal:

5:45 – awaken to the sound of a baby pooping, bask in the amazing amount (6 hours) of uninterrupted sleep I just got, realize Ben is still home, request baby changing services, sleep for two more minutes.

5:47 – nurse baby, say goodbye to Ben, check Facebook/Twitter/email while nursing

6:15 – put Kai back down, go back to bed

6:40 – awaken to the sound of Evan wondering where Ben is despite the fact that Ben is never here when he wakes up, snuggle with Evan for a few minutes

6:45 – put Jake and the Neverland Pirates on for Evan, go back to sleep for 10 more minutes

6:55 – get in the shower

7:05 – Kai wakes up, prop him on the bed next to E

7:10 – ask E to go to the potty, my assistance is requested, help him and then get him dressed

7:15 – get Evan settled in on the couch with another show (PJ Masks – his newest obsession) and a frozen waffle, go back upstairs to finish getting ready

7:25 – get diapers out of dryer, get Kai dressed

7:30 – nurse Kai

7:45 – gather bottles, diapers, lunch, snacks, etc and load the car up with our numerous bags

7:58 – get shoes and socks on Evan

8:02 – get the boys in the car and leave

8:03 – put on Let It Go at Evan’s request, sing along with him really loudly

8:08 – drop Evan off at preschool

8:35 – drop Kai off at daycare

8:50 – arrive at work, make tea, start working

9 – work on a brief that is due at 5pm (court just requested it the day before)

10:00 – pump

10:20 – keep working on the brief, discuss details about refinancing our house with Ben via gchat, and email with law school about student loans

11:45 – hand brief over to boss for his review/edits

12 – go to lunch at local pizza place

1 – back to the office to pump

1:15 – work on a few other matters

2:00 – review another motion that needs to be filed today and email with co-counsel

3:30 – get brief back from boss to review, pump for the last time

3:45 – realize none of boss’ changes were saved, spend 10 minutes unsuccessfully trying to find his file

4:00 – leave boss in his office to recreate the work he did all afternoon, fend off anyone who tries to interrupt him

4:35 – review final draft of brief and send it on the assistant to file

4:55 – brief is filed with 5 minutes to spare

5:10 – leave the office

5:11 – receive the other side’s brief (which was also due at 5)

5:20 – pick up Kai, learn that he was given a bottle just before 5 which is kind of annoying but manageable

5:50 – get home and find Ben and E playing outside, go in and change

6:00 – sit down to dinner (lasagna that Ben cooked)

6:30 – change Kai, take E to the potty, head back outside with the boys while Ben goes to teach his college class, email with boss, go for a walk with Kai in the ergo and Evan on his scooter, meet a gorgeous German Shepherd puppy named Zelda along the way

7:00 – head inside to nurse Kai, read books with E while nursing, email a bit more

7:17 – give E the option of getting ready for bed or reading books by himself while I put Kai to bed. He reads. Put Kai to bed.

7:30 – get E ready for bed (potty, pajamas, brush teeth, wash face), read books with E, say goodnight

7:50 – head downstairs, scald pumped milk, put dishes away, do bottle dishes, load dishwasher

8:30 – chat with Ben when he gets home

8:40 – take a shower while Ben finishes the dishes and cleans the kitchen

8:55 – read the brief the other side filed and explain the ridiculous of this case to Ben

9:00 – put on The Walking Dead and eat ice cream, pause it in the middle to discuss refinance numbers again because I guess that’s what adults do

10:00 – head upstairs and get ready for bed

10:10 – climb into bed and nurse Kai while watching The Office

10:35 – put Kai down, climb into bed, watch more of The Office, switch to The Vampire Diaries when Ben falls asleep

11ish – go to sleep, hope I don’t get woken up by Kai until at least 3

It turns out that having a nursing babe and a preschooler and a job is a bit of work. But I’ve figured out my routines and Ben has figured out his and we’re managing quite well, I think. But, I can’t figure out when to fit in reading and exercise. It’s all audiobooks and weekend runs for the foreseeable future. I’m told it gets easier. I like to believe people when they tell me that.

Top Ten Books on My Fall TBR

We all know my TBR is where most books go to linger for a very long time. But if I WERE to read some books this fall, this is what I would be reading. (Sorry for the lack of book covers – time is escaping me more than ever).

1. A Window Opens | Elisabeth Egans

This is on my hold list at the library, so presumably I want to read it, although I can’t remember actually requesting it. It’s a book about a working mom’s attempt to have it all. Apparently.

2. Carry On | Rainbow Rowell

In Fangirl, the main character write Harry Potter-esque fan fiction. This is that fan fiction. Of course I’m reading it.

3. Armada | Ernest Cline

I had a three week old when this book was released, so I hope I can be forgiven for totally missing its release. I haven’t read any reviews but I’ll definitely be listening to the audio version narrated by Wil Wheaton.

4. Why Not Me? | Mindy Kaling

What Mindy Kaling writes, I read.

5. Winter | Marissa Meyer

The final installment in the Lunar Chronicles. Maybe I should get on the wait list now?

6. Need | Joelle Charbonneau

I’m hoping this one is as enjoyable as The Testing.

7. Who Do You Love | Jennifer Weiner

I don’t even know what this one is about, but I love Jennifer Weiner.

8. Geraldine Brooks | The Secret Chord

I am pretty sure that I will be singing Leonard Cohen the entire time I read this one, but that’s a risk I’ll take.

9. My Life on the Road | Gloria Steinem

I can’t imagine this is not a fascinating memoir.

10. Furiously Happy | Jenny Lawson

I mostly want to read this because of the crazy racoon on the cover. True story.


What books are you looking forward to reading this fall?

Back At It [Fitness Friday]

The time has come. I am 10 weeks postpartum and I am officially trying to lose this baby weight.

I am up about 11 pounds from my pre-Kai weight (closer to 20 pounds from my pre-Evan weight but I assume those days are gone forever). I feel great and I think I look much better at this point than I did with Evan. But I still want to get rid of the excess pounds. After Evan, I assumed breastfeeding would take care of it, but when he weaned at 18 months, I was still at least 15 pounds heavier. So I counted calories and exercised and I lost most of it within a few months.

So what am I doing? The same thing that worked for me last time. I’m using MyFitnessPal (@themichelleerin) to count calories and Runkeeper (@michelleerin) and FitBit to track my exercise. Technological motivation works for me. I also have a friend who coincidentally started doing the same thing on the same day so we’ve been motivating each other (or, at least, she’s been motivating me).

Since I’m breastfeeding, I get to add an extra 500 calories to what MFP gives me, and I have it set to only lose a half-pound a week because I’m terrified of ruining my supply. Because of this, it’s not actually that painful. I can still eat a ton each day as long as I make smart-ish choices.

I’m also exercising regularly. I assume this won’t happen when I go back to work later this month, but for now I am trying to run a few times a week, do a little yoga once or twice a week, and walk most days.

I am hopeful that I can lose the weight in a healthy way without negatively affecting my milk supply. Feeding Kai is, of course, the priority, but moving again and eating better feels great after nearly a year of pregnancy/postpartum lethargy.

What have you been doing lately to get/stay healthy?

The Sunday Salon [8.16.15]

Getting some laptop time in has proved difficult this summer. I thought I would be able to catch up on some blogging but I’ve only managed to get further behind. So here is a catch-up Sunday Salon.


I’ve been reading a little on my maternity leave, but not nearly as much as I planned on reading. It’s not that I lack the time, really. I just lack the energy and focus. I spend most of my time sitting on the couch, watching Pretty Little Liars, and messing around on my phone. Seriously, someone needs to take my phone away if I am ever going to get back into reading.

I am currently reading Everything Leads to You for the book club I cannot attend and listening to the newest Maisie Dobbs. I finished I’ll Give You the Sun, A Grown-Up Kind of PrettyFairest, and started and stopped a few others, but that’s it. I’ve got quite a few audiobooks on deck, assuming that is the more likely format for me these days. But I’ll probably just continue to catch up on the latest mystery in Rosewood.


I started running a little. I haven’t really run regularly since last April (3 months off for my foot followed by the crazy heat and travel of summer followed by 9 months of pregnancy), so I am starting slowly. My last run was only 15 minutes long. But it feels good to be out there again. I’ve got at least 15 pounds to lose, but I won’t really try too hard to lose it for awhile for fear of messing with my supply.


Life is good. Ben is back at work, Evan starts school tomorrow, and, aside from visitors, Kai and I are on our own for a month before I go back to work and he starts daycare. I am very thankful for this maternity leave and even more thankful that it has been pretty low key and relaxing (so different from my leave with Evan). Plus I’ve been keeping up with what’s going on at work enough that I think returning won’t be too shocking.  I just need to figure out how on Earth I’ll manage to get two kids and myself up and ready, get to two different daycare drop-offs, and get myself to work at a reasonable hour. This seems like an impossible feat from where I am sitting. But it might make for an interesting “day in the life of” post.


How have you all been? Reading anything interesting? Ready for the back to school hustle?


 The Sunday Salon.com

Our Debt-Free Journey: One Year In

Last fall, I shared my debt free plans with you. I explained why I was getting out of debt and how I was doing it. We are now at the one-year mark and still going strong. I can now fully attest that this plan is working and it is helping us achieve our original goals.

How much progress have we made?

We’ve paid off 20% of our non-mortgage debt. My 5-year calculations appear to be quite accurate (the addition of Kai addd a year to my original 4-year plan). In the past year, we threw around 1/3 of our income at debt. And this is while we still lived life and cash-flowed a new baby.

We paid off 3 store cards, 3 student loans, 2 credit cards, and my car. We have 2 credit cards left to pay off and we will be consumer debt free. Only student loans (and our mortgage) will remain.

We brought our monthly minimum payment obligations down by $800. EIGHT HUNDRED DOLLARS.

And, most importantly, we accumulated NO new debt.

How is life different now?

Well, for starters, we can cash flow every day life. And it doesn’t make us cry. Last summer,  we realized we were living life a little bit in the red each month. We wanted to have another baby but we knew we couldn’t afford daycare at the rate we were going (maybe because of that $800+ in minimum payments?). Fast-forward to today. We have that baby we wanted and when he starts daycare next month, we can write that (not insignificant) check without breaking a sweat. And we still have (a little) extra to throw at debt.

We budget. Every single dollar that comes our way gets assigned a task.

We use cash for things like groceries and eating out, so we know exactly what we are spending and we know how much is left to spend. When that money runs out, it’s out.

We get very limited “fun” money but we still enjoy life. When we spend it, it’s more likely to be on an experience than stuff.

We drive paid-for cars. We don’t have cable.  We clean our own house. We don’t go to the gym. We travel less.

We use sinking funds. Man, this was a game changer. We throw about $800 each month into an account that will eventually pay for things like car repairs, home maitenance, haircuts, clothes, pest control, cleaning supplies. These are things that we don’t need to buy every month but that will eventually require money. There is a few thousand dollars just sitting there in that account waiting to be spent. Ben likes it because he feels less guilty spending the money when it’s already earmarked. I like it because it gives us a hard limit when considering a purchase and prevents us from overspending. When I see a $50 dress but I only have $40 left in my clothing fund, I know it’s time to move on (or save up).

Simply put, we live well below our means now.

What’s next?

We are hoping to pay off the last two cards by early 2016. At that point, we will beef up our savings and retirement contributions a bit before heading right back into the ring and tackling Ben’s student loans.

When we can afford it, we will add in some luxuries, like a gym membership, a housecleaner, and a real vacation. For now, we will keep living this simpler lifestyle. Our money has a more important job for the time being.

One Month

I can’t believe this little guy has already been in our lives for a whole month (why couldn’t the months I was pregnant have gone this quickly?). 

Kai is a ridiculously calm baby. The kid barely cries. He can move his head from one side to the other during tummy time and track objects. He smiled for the first time on Tuesday. He regularly sleeps for 3-hour stretches at night (last night I got 4.5 + 3.5!). He eats ALL. THE. TIME. and I am learning that true nursing on demand is so much easier than trying to watch the clock. 

At this point with E, I was in tears every day. It all seemed so hard. But now I know that babies are actually pretty easy. They just eat and sleep and poop. It’s the threenagers you’ve gotta watch out for. (It might also help that breastfeeding was much less painful this time.) 

Evan has easily adjusted to being a big brother just like he easily adjusts to everything. Ben and I are both home this summer so he is getting a lot of time with daddy. 

I think we’ll keep Kai. 

Happy Birthday, E [Wordless Wednesday]

Evan is three!

And we are almost four!

This photo confirms two things: (1) I am HUGE and (2) Evan is physically incapable of standing still for more than .8 seconds at a time.

For Evan’s first and second birthday I hired a photographer to come to the house, do a family shoot, and then stick around and photograph the birthday party. It seems extravagant, but I love photos and I was afraid that if I were responsible for them, I wouldn’t enjoy the party. Plus, it was a good halfway point in the year to update the family photos. But this year, given our tighter budget, I forwent the photographer. And the results are pretty disappointing. I have very few photos and most of the ones I have are terrible. It makes me sad. I am glad that I enjoyed the party, but I wish I had a few more photos to share with you all and with our family who couldn’t be there.

Tell Me What to Read

What was your favorite book this year? Last year? What book did you have a hard time putting down? What book kept you up into the wee hours of the night? What book are you recommending to everyone?

I want to know what you want me to read.

It has become very clear to me that I live under a rock. I am the most out-of-the-loop I’ve been in a decade when it comes to the must read books. (I don’t do so well with the rest of pop culture either I recently shocked Ben by having no clue that a new Avengers movie had come out. I don’t know why he was shocked.) I have no idea what the “it” book is or was or will be.

I am having a baby sometime in the next two months, which means lots and lots and lots of time spent sitting and nursing. When E was a newborn, I had my best reading month ever thanks to all of that nursing time. I realize things will be different this time with a toddler running around, but I still think I’ll have quite a bit of time to myself nursing this baby (particularly in the middle of the night).

So while I go stock up on lanolin and mother’s milk tea (ick), I need all of you to tell me what books I should also be stocking up on as well.  I want anything that was compelling and page-turning and all of those words we book bloggers aren’t supposed to use. I want books that will keep me going at 3am when I haven’t had a stretch of sleep longer than 3 hours in over a month. If it came out in the last year, assume I haven’t read it (and probably haven’t heard of it). Bonus points if my library has it in electronic format or if you recommend an excellently narrated audiobook (holding real books one handed is hard). Extra bonus points to anyone that sends me a B&N gift card…just kidding…ish.


Reading (& Life) Update

So…it’s been awhile.

But here’s what I’ve been reading:


  • Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger (audio)
  • Betsy and the Great World by Maud Hart Lovelace (print)


  • Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple (audio)
  • The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski (print)
  • On Immunity: An Innoculation by Eula Bliss (audio)
  • Why Can’t I Be You by Allie Larkin (print)

March (currently reading):

  • I’ll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan (print)
  • The Care and Management of Lies by Jaqueline Winspear (audio)

February was a terrible month for me, which is why I’ve been MIA. I had a little hiccup in my pregnancy, which turned out to be nothing, but still required a lot of time and effort (and money) to get to that answer. My mom had some health issues going on. My grandmother passed away. My computer went on strike. The house needed work. The only reason that I even read as much as I did (4 books!) was because I spent a fair bit of time away from home and on airplanes. I had no energy left for blogging. I literally woke up every morning hoping to get through the day without anyone calling me with bad news. I couldn’t have been happier when March rolled around. And things are looking much better now. I’m good, the baby is good, my mom is good, and the weather down here is gorgeous.

So, maybe I’ll be back soon with some book reviews. Maybe I’ll be back with some other things. We’ll see. For now, I leave you with some photos of Evan: