FriYAY: Currently


Hey everyone! Happy Friday! I am exhausted so this will be quick one but I wanted to check in with a few things I am reading, listening to, etc. Here we go!

Listening:

The Dais podcast by Rachel Hollis. I just LOVE her and this podcast is awesome. So inspiring and such great nuggest for your everyday life. If you're a mom, I think you will love her even more. 

Following: 

Be Well By Kelly on Instagram. I listened to her as a guest on Rachel Hollis' podcast and fell in love. I love her approach to food and her wealth of knowledge is pretty incredible. I just ordered her book Body Love and I can't wait to learn more.

Reading: 

Still Me by Jojo Moyes. This is the third book in the series and I'm only about 50 pages in. I'm excited to get into the meat of the plot and see if this is as good as the other two. 

Watching:

The Handmaid's Tale- Mark hasn't seen the first season so I am rewatching that with him but I can't wait to check out the new season that just released. 

Looking forward:

Seeing some of my family next weekend for my cousin's graduation!

Missing:

Bug free nights! I get eaten alive by mosquitos! Any good mosquito spray and/or band recommendations? I've tried oils and they don't work for me :( I'm not exaggerating... I get destroyed by these bugs. 

Have a great weekend!!

Spring Stock Up

First of all, I want to thank you all so much for the sweet words of encouragement, prayers, and just reaching out to me after my last infertility post. Like I've said before, I am pretty open about all of this but putting so much of myself out there (especially on the internet) is scary. You guys sure know how to make a girl feel loved!

Spring is finally here and I LOVE it! I am trying to soak up every moment before it gets hot, humid, and the bugs are out in full force. I have purchased some new spring items lately since things aren't quite fitting like they did last season. Gotta love winter weight and then being injured and not able to work out :(

Fit & Flare Dress

Old Navy

I love Old Navy's dresses. They are comfy and easy to throw on for work with a jean jacket on top. Can't wait to wear this one!

Striped Dress

Old Navy

Another adorable dress with the cutest nautical stripes. I love it!

Vacation Vibes

Old Navy

I love a good cold shoulder top. The fun colors in this one have me feeling vacation vibes. Can't wait to wear this!

Yellow Crops

These aren't the exact pair I got but they are close.

I found these yellow cropped jeans at the Loft and had to have them. They change up the normal jean look and are so fun for spring. Plus they are super comfy! These aren't the exact pair that I found but they are close. Mine are true jean material, not chinos. Here is a similar pair in plus size. 


Shoulder Cut Out Tank

the Loft

I am always on the hunt for cute tanks to throw on with jeans or shorts in the summer. I think the small cut out detail on this tank is a little something different to make it a step up from a basic. Plus I just love stripes lol.

Book Over-Review: Red Rising

Amazon


I just finished the first three books in Red Rising series and I am hooked. They are too good not to share, even though the first book came out back in 2014. They definitely fall under the science fiction category which isn't normally my jam but I loved them. I would say it's a cross between Divergent and The Hunger Games but also very different than either one. I'm going to do my best not to reveal too much because the suspense and mystery of this series is what makes it so intriguing.

The story follows Darrow, a Red, the lowest of all the colors in the society. He is a hell diver and spends his day drilling for helium-3 on the planet Mars. It's an extremely grueling life but the Reds are doing their part to supply the needed materials for the society to prosper. on this uninhabited planet of Mars. Darrow's life is dedicated to this mission until one day when things take a terrible turn and his life is ripped away from him.

Darrow has seen the real society and now understands the deception that is fed to them at birth. The shock and confusion that surrounds Darrow leads him to do the unthinkable, infiltrate the Gold caste in their most distinguished and elite arena, the Institute. How can he penetrate the Institute when he is only a Red? He will undergo a transformation that can only be accomplished by a true love for his people, a willingness to die for his cause,  and the memory of a lost love.

Following Darrow's story, you will see the cracks in this perfect caste and see the horrors of those fighting for power. It will transport you this futuristic world where power and control are the very devices that will be their downfall.  Will Darrow be able to accomplish his mission or will he be destroyed in the process? You will be on the edge of your seat the entire time with lots of twists and turns thrown your way. Sooo good and even better when you can listen to the audiobook version. A must read series!


National Infertility Awareness Week: Our Story



Did you know that 1 out of every 8 couples struggles to get pregnant or sustain pregnancy?? Pretty sad right? I bet that someone you know has gone through infertility struggles, miscarried, etc but it's NOT something that is widely talked about. I have always been very open about our journey but I know that not everyone is comfortable with sharing their story or others aren't comfortable with talking about it with them. I can understand that but I think it's important to share our story so others know that they aren't alone. In true Jessica style, I am going to share a lot with you in this post. So grab a snack, a beverage, and get comfy. This is going to be a long post!

We started trying to conceive almost four years ago. Just typing that makes me so sad. Four years of actively tracking ovulation and every little symptom, scheduling things around when I could conceive, doctors appointments galore, medications, shots, negative pregnancy tests, and the constant rollercoaster of emotions that comes with all that. It's exhausting and sad.

We were trying for about a year and a half before we went to a doctor. I knew that the "average" amount of time to get pregnant is about a year and then you add in my husband's crazy schedule, it makes it a little hard. In hindsight, I should have seen a doctor earlier because I knew that something had to be wrong. The doctor ordered a plethora of tests for me including the lovely HSG and saline sonogram. The tests concluded that I have a bicornuate uterus and PCOS. Now the weight gain, hair loss, and inconsistent cycles were all making sense.

My doctor decided to put me on Letrozole for a few months to see if that helped. Sadly, it didn't and she decided that we needed to see a specialist. Going to see the specialist was the one of the best medical decisions I've ever made. Spoiler alert: I didn't get pregnant while going thru fertility treatments there, but I learned so much from them.

The specialist was kind, explained every little detail to me, gave me a realistic outlook on what we were dealing with, and was no nonsense (in the best kind of way) when it came to putting my health first. He urged me to get another saline sonogram because he truly thought the images that were done before, weren't up to his standards. I fought tooth and nail against it because I had just had one done a few months before and it was so awful for me. Finally, I did what he said and low and behold, I had multiple polyps in my uterus. Polyps can stop you from getting pregnant, so this was a big deal.

A few months later, I had a surgery to remove them and to try and fix the shape of my uterus. It's VERY heart shaped, which can also lead to problems sustaining pregnancy. They ended up finding even more polyps and removed them and then worked to fix the shape of my uterus. It's never going to be 100% when it comes to what they want to see, but it's better.

After that, we did more rounds of Letrozole with ultrasound monitoring, all leading to negative pregnancy tests. They decided we needed to move to IUIs. We did 6 in total, all with trigger shots and  the last one including injectable medication. That one was the worst because we paid a ton of money and I had high hopes, but sadly no pregnancy. They were at a loss for why I wasn't getting pregnant and have now concluded that our infertility struggles were "unexplained."At that point it was time to say goodbye to our doctor and leave for Virginia Beach.

I left SD feeling sad for so many reasons but a BIG one was because I had to start over with another doctor. My previous doctor knew all my history, would call me and check on me on the weekends, and was so compassionate and caring. I became very attached and it was hard for me to imagine connecting with another doctor that way.

When we got to VA Beach, I sought out a primary care doctor so I could get referred to a specialist. Everything with the military takes longer because you need referrals. Finally, I was able to see someone and she agreed that the chances of an IUI working were slim and it was time to move to a more aggressive approach... IVF. To be honest, I was/ am terrified of IVF. The whole idea scares me because of everything involved. I look at others' stories of their successful IVF transfers and I know that in the end it will be worth it. It's the in between that makes me nervous though. I hated giving myself one shot a day, I can't imagine several a day and some of these are intramuscular. :( It's just a lot to take in. But with that being said, I want a baby. I still want a chance for us to try and I know this is the next step, so completed the immense amount of paperwork and testing to get approved to start through the A.R.T. Institute in Bethesda.

So that's where we are now... waiting to see if we will get the a-okay to begin this summer. We started to get really excited and then I hurt myself and the potential of knee surgery is looming in my future. Everyone keeps saying that IVF can be done later but it works little differently with the military and my husband's schedule. So now we wait....

Some days are full of rays of shiny hope and then others feel so bleak and disappointing. There are moments where I feel strong and confident in the Lord's plan and just as quickly I see someone post about a second or third pregnancy and I feel jealousy rear it's ugly head. I hate comparing myself to others and I especially dislike feeling upset when it should be such a joyful moment. It's an inward battle that never ceases to end.

With all that being said, I am thankful for our story. I have connected with so many women who have had similar struggles and who have reached out wanting to talk or just share their story. These moments remind me that the Lord connects us all and gives us a community in the midst of these tough times. I have also found the most amazing support system. I have friends and family that consistently check in with me about how everything is going. They know when I am going to my appointments and they pray with me every step of the way. I am so grateful to know that these amazing people are invested in me and our potential family. They make this burden easier to carry.

I couldn't write this post without mentioning how amazing my husband has been through this whole process too. He has been my rock ad absolutely steadfast in knowing that we will have a baby one day. His faith has never wavered and he helps keep my eyes on the Lord. I love you Mark!

I hope that collectively, by sharing our stories, and learning to ASK others about their stories, that we will change the stigma that comes from infertility. I hope that this doesn't make you feel bad for me but rather it gives you a little insight into our journey so far. I know our story is far from over and I pray that whatever you are going through that you find solace in prayer and the people around you.

Weekend Recap {Still Hopping Around & Bachelorette Party}


Happy Monday! I hope you all had a good weekend. Mine was great because Mark is home! Yay!! I am normally totally fine being home alone for weeks and months on end but this darn knee issue has been such a pain. If I want to carry anything at all, I have hop around because I can't hold anything in my hands while using my crutches. So annoying! I am hoping that after my MRI this weekend and then my appointment a week later, I will know what the damage is to my knee. Praying it won't be too bad of a recovery!

Taking a break while attempting to lug my laundry upstairs :(

On Friday, I went to dinner with my friend Ashley. We grabbed some Mexican food and had great girl talk. So fun to be able to relax and chat with a girlfriend!

On Saturday, I worked on school ALL morning, trying to get my remediation groups together for testing. It's coming up in just a few shorts weeks. AHHH! Mark came home in the afternoon and I was so glad to squeeze in a little time with him before heading to a friend's bachelorette dinner. We went the the Cavalier and ate at Becca. I was so excited to check out the Cavalier since it just recently reopened. SO pretty and the food was delicious! I want to go back when I'm not on crutches!


Sunday was spent working on school some more... boring lol! Then Mark and I grabbed lunch at Wasserhund. I LOVE their pizza and beer. SO good! We also ran some errands and finally got a new grill. Yay for being able to grill this summer!! It makes clean up so easy and is relatively healthy depending on what you make.

This week is busy busy busy but I'm going to try and post a book over-review soon. I've been a reading machine lately! Have a good week!

My Spring Wish List

Finally, it seems to be warming up here. I am so ready to bust out some spring clothing, although I would be perfectly happy if bathing suit season just passed right on by! I am NOT ready for a bathing suit and this whole not being able to work out thing is killing me!! I can't wait until my knee is better. Anyways, I have had my eye on some spring items. There are so many cute things out right now!

White Jeans

White jeans

I love the loft jeans and I purchased a pair of these last spring. I wore them a ton but unfortunately they don't fit any more. Darn winter weight :( I am loving the fun detail at the bottom hem on the pair!

The Cutest Heels

get it here

I have a pair of heels that are very similar but I love the chunky heel of these. I feel like they will be super easy to walk in and are so cute. I'm pretty boring and I love the nude color but there are so many options!

Madewell Jeans

get it here

My friend was wearing these the other night and they were soooo cute! The picture does not do them justice at all! They have a 70s vibe to them, which is so fun! I love the cropped length and the subtle flair. I can't wait to pick these up!

Asymmetrical Top

get it here

I saw this on another blog the other day and fell in love! I know it's not a typical spring color but I love it anyways! I actually just ordered this and it should be here any day! 

Flutter Top

get it here

I love a good detailed sleeve and this top doesn't disappoint! So cute! I will for sure be picking this up in a couple colors. 

I'm also on the hunt for some cute sandals! I have a few pairs of Sam Edelman's that I pull out every year but I want something a little different. I would love to hear what you are picking up for Spring! 

Five on Friday

Happy Friday!! I hope you all had a great week and have something awesome planned for this weekend. I have book club tonight, which I love, so I am excited! Lets jump in!

Spring is in the Air


Finally, it's starting to feel more like spring around here. Last weekend, we cleaned up our front planters and added some spring blooms. Can't wait to see what it looks like when the perennials come back! 

Fringe Life

Koa Sandals

I have a major thing for fringe. I just think it's adorable :) I recently bought these Sole Society sandals and I can't wait to bust them out. The color is a perfect neural and they are pretty comfy (as far as I can tell). I also love the Vista Blue color but I figured I would get more wear out of the caramel. 

The Coziest Sweatshirt

Check it out here- the pic isn't doing it justice! So cute!

I purchased this swing sweatshirt from Old Navy a few weeks ago and I've worn it so many times already. I LOVE how comfy it is and it's so easy to throw on for a casual day. I actually found it in the athletic section but I think it's cute with jeans too. I actually have the more purpley-gray color but I couldn't find it online. 

New Obsession


Mark has been raving about the Red Rising series for months now but I really thought it wasn't something I would be into. Science Fiction isn't my jam but I finally gave in and WHOA I'm so obsessed with these books. We listened to the first book while on our road trip and then I read the 2nd book. It was actually really nice listening to the first book because I could hear how everything is pronounced lol. There are so many weird words in that book that I would have NO idea how to pronounce otherwise. 

I would say the book is a cross between Hunger Games, Delirium, and the Divergent series. It's pretty violent but doesn't make me cringe like some of the thrillers I usually read :)

Spring Bundle


As most of you know, I have a side gig with Rodan+ Fields. I LOVE sharing about the products and business but don't always share in this space. This is too good of a deal not to tell you about it though. Right now they have released a spring bundle that includes the Intensive Renewing serum, the Lip Renewing Serum, and Multi-function Eye Cream. All three can be added on to any regimen or used on their own. They are in my weekly (some even daily) rotation. Plus they are 25% off when bundled together :) Let me know if you have any questions or want more details!

Have a great weekend everyone! 


Charlottesville Weekend Part 2


If you haven't read about the first part of our weekend in Charlottesville, click here to to read it first.
Sunday morning we ventured out to find a spot for breakfast. We had heard that Bodos Bagels was delicious so we walked over there from out hotel. Unfortunately, it was closed so we had to find anther place. We ended up eating at the Grit Cafe which was pretty good, but nothing to write home about :)

Afterwards, we walked around a little to check out the shops and to find a place for a great Bloody Mary. We ended up at the Commonwealth Skybar which I was excited to see because I had read that the food and drinks are great. We sat outside on the skybar to people dog watch and have a bloody mary. They were delicious!

Our friends had to leave so we headed back to the hotel and Mark and I took a nap. Does anyone else feel guilty if they nap on vacation?? I feel like I am missing out on fun but I was exhausted! A little later we decided to walk around the downtown area and check out some breweries. The first that we went to was Three Notch'd. We had a beer flight and we loved everything we tasted, minus the IPAs because I despise them lol. Mark was into them though!


Next, we went to Champion (on recommendation from someone at Three Notch'd). It was a smaller brewery but nice to sit outside. At this point we were starting to get hungry so we started walking to the Korean place we had seen earlier. My dad always raves about Bibimbap so Mark really wanted to try it. Holy moly it was delicious!! We shared a bowl since we wanted to "food tour" which is basically our way of trying lots of food at different places lol.




Next, we ventured down to the Graduate hotel. We saw their rooftop restaurant, Heirloom, from down the street and wanted to check it out. The views were pretty incredible and the drinks were yummy! We shared a chicken sandwich, which was pretty good.


Afterwards we strolled through the UVA grounds. It was gorgeous!! Mark and I both agree that we would love for our future babies to go to school here just so we can visit :) That's a good reason, right?? We really wanted to make one last stop at an oyster bar, Public Fish & Oyster, that we found down the street from our hotel. We got there right before they closed and they were so cool about still serving oysters. I hate inconveniencing people but they convinced us that it was no problem. Some of the best oysters I've had in a long time, plus a super cool vibe.



The next morning, Mark grabbed us some bagels from Bodos while I got ready. The bagels really did live up to all the hype. So good!! Then we headed out to Monticello. We walked around the property for awhile until it was time for our tour of the house. Mark totally geeks out when it comes to history but I have to say, I was pretty into it also :). There were some awkward interesting questions asked on the tour but other than that it was great.


We ended up being at Monticello for awhile so we didn't have a ton of time in Williamsburg for the last part of our trip. We should have planned this part better since we got there when all the tours were closing down. We tried to go into a couple places in Merchant Square but it was all super touristy and (for the most part) we had terrible service. :(



We stopped by the Williamsburg Winery to do a little tasting and this ended up being a good experience. The ladies working there were super nice and told us about a few spots to go later on. One of the suggestions was The Amber Ox for dinner. The food was soooo good! We had the meatballs as an appetizer and I would highly suggest them. I could have licked the bowl lol. We stayed there to watch the NCAA Tournament Championship game. Sadly, Michigan lost. :(

The next morning we had to pack it up early because Mark had to work. It was a great trip and so fun to explore more of Virginia!

Charlottesville Weekend Recap

Mark's Patagonia sweater will be in pretty much every picture... this is his new fave clothing item lol

Hey everyone! I am back today with a recap of our weekend in Charlottesville, VA. We had a BLAST and it was just what I needed. I only wish the trip was a little longer because there was more that we wanted to do/ see. Good thing we only live a few hours away!

We arrived in Charlottesville on Saturday morning and immediately walked around the little area by our hotel to check it out. We stayed at the Downtown Residence Inn by Marriott and the location was pretty great. We were in walking distance from everything we wanted to do, except the wine tasting.

When our friends, Carly and Joey, got to the hotel we met up with our driver for the day, George. Funny story, Carly actually found George on Craigslist where he advertised that he would drive us around to the wineries for $12 an hour!! We were stoked but also a little skeptical about this Craiglist arrangement. George ended up being a really nice guy and we made it back safely :)



Our first winery stop was King Family Vineyards. This was probably my favorite because of the beautiful views and the wine was super good! This was also the busiest out of the wineries but they had plenty of room for everyone. I will definitely go back here again!



Our next stop was Grace Estate Winery. We liked the wine here a lot and the people were really nice. We brought our own food and made a charcuterie board which we called Car-cuterie lol. I would visit here again for sure!



Our next stop was Stinson Vineyard and this was our least favorite. The person helping with our tasting was really rude and although it was super cute, I won't go back.


Our last stop for the day was Knight's Gambit Winery. The tasting was in what looked like a home and was super cozy and casual. The people working there were really nice and I would love to go back for another tasting. Plus they had the cutest pony on the property that just roamed around. So adorable!


George took us to a "secret" lookout before heading back to the hotel. This detour caused lots of laughs and is a great memory :)

Not the best photo of us lol but the view is pretty!
Afterwards, we went back to the hotel to change and then headed to our dinner reservation at Tavern & Grocery. Carly and I both ordered from the tasting menu and holy moly it was sooo good! We also had some sparkly gin drink which has changed my opinion on gin... yum!

Next, we ventured out to a few local bars. We had a great time but were all exhausted from the day's festivities. We walked back to the hotel to call it a night.

Head back one there tomorrow to see part 2 of the trip!

Five on Friday (Spring Break Edition)

Hey everyone! As I am writing this, I am thinking lots of happy thoughts about SPRING BREAK! I cannot tell you enough about how much this is needed. The kids were insane this week and I really just need a break. Teacher friends, can I get an Amen?? I know for the rest of the workforce, you don't get a spring break. I'm sorry :( just remember that we have to deal with your kiddos before spring break and they get quite rambunctious haha! But in all seriousness, I need a rejuvenating break. I need to be able to go into these last few months full steam ahead, especially because testing season is upon us. I still have to get through today though!

Thankful

Freezing in DC

This guy is my biggest supporter and I am so thankful for him. Also, I love how it's basically Sadie Hawkins every time we wear these jackets lol. They are different shades of gray but they look pretty much the same here :) 

Homemade Bagels

 I made the holes too big lol

My cousin, Laura, gave me this recipe for homemade bagels a few weeks back and we are in love! They are so easy to make and sooo good! Plus they are made with greek yogurt so they have more protein than a normal bagel and taste delicious. Win win! Get the recipe here
I used the Everything seasoning from Trader Joes to top the bagels and it was perfect. If you don't have this seasoning yet, go to TJs immediately! It's really good on top of avocado toast too.

Not My Fave


For book club last month we read Turtles All the Way Down by John Green and I'm sorry to say but I didn't love it. I really try to be a John Green fan but I just can't get into his books. I  liked Fault in Our Stars but that was the only one I could finish and enjoy. I just don't connect with his characters and the plot for Turtles All the Way Down was nonexistent. I know there are TONS of Green fans out there and I'm trying to get on board but it's falling short for me. :( Sorry guys.  
Also, I just got the link from Amazon and it's a #1 Bestseller under the anxiety conditions category, so there's that I guess :) 

Peaky Blinders


A few months back I asked for some recommendations for shows to binge watch and Peaky Blinders showed up on that list. I watched one episode and was unsure if I liked I and sort f forgot about it. Well last week, Mark started watching it one night and I became hooked. I find the whole mob/ gang things of the 1900s so interesting plus it''s set in Ireland, which I love! We are through the first season and on to the second. Has anyone else watched it?? 

Patagonia


We love some good Patagonia gear in the Bradford house and we just recently ordered a couple new things. I got this Synchilla Fleece Pullover and I am soooo excited about it! I love the gray and the peachy pink mixed together. I know it's almost spring but that doesn't mean much for Virginia because one day it's warm and the next it's freezing lol. I'm sure I'll get some good wear out of this before "true" spring lol. 

5 Books on My Reading List

Hey everyone! First of all I want to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who has reached out to me about my post this week. Sharing real and heavy things can be daunting but thankfully I have so many AMAZING people in my life who only encouraged me yesterday. You guys are the best and made me feel so surrounded with love. I know this season of life is temporary and that the Lord has a bigger plan for me. Just trying to see past the yucky stuff right now. Anyways, I always love to share about what I am reading and I have quite a few books on my "to read list." Here are my top 5 that I am super excited about.

Still Me by Jojo Moyes

get it here

This is the third book involving Jojo Moyes' character, Louisa Clark. I LOVED her in Me Before You and After You. She is quirky, funny, and utterly charming with all of her little faults. She seems like a real person whom you would want to be friends with. Who doesn't love that?? I'm sure by now most of you have read Me Before You or at least seen the movie. The next book is definitely worth a read but I am excited to see Louisa off on her own in New York. I will let you know how it goes! 
Amazon Synopsis: 

Louisa Clark arrives in New York ready to start a new life, confident that she can embrace this new adventure and keep her relationship with Ambulance Sam alive across several thousand miles. She steps into the world of the superrich, working for Leonard Gopnik and his much younger second wife, Agnes. Lou is determined to get the most out of the experience and throws herself into her new job and New York life. 

As she begins to mix in New York high society, Lou meets Joshua Ryan, a man who brings with him a whisper of her past. Before long, Lou finds herself torn between Fifth Avenue where she works and the treasure-filled vintage clothing store where she actually feels at home. And when matters come to a head, she has to ask herself: Who is Louisa Clark? And how do you find the courage to follow your heart—wherever that may lead?

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

get it here

I know I am a little late to the game here because this came out in 2014 but Mark is OBSESSED with it and I have heard so many good things from friends. My girlfriend Ashley gave me the first two books so I am saving them for spring break. She says I will devour them so I am stoked! Here is the synopsis from Amazon:
 
Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations. Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children.
 
But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and lush wilds spread across the planet. Darrow—and Reds like him—are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.
 
Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity’s overlords struggle for power.  He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society’s ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies . . . even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.

The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine 

get it here

I have heard that this book is sooo good! I can't wait to read this and it seems right up with my alley with all the twists and turns. I love a good thriller!
Amazon Synopsis:

Amber Patterson is fed up. She’s tired of being a nobody: a plain, invisible woman who blends into the background. She deserves more—a life of money and power like the one blond-haired, blue-eyed goddess Daphne Parrish takes for granted. 
To everyone in the exclusive town of Bishops Harbor, Connecticut, Daphne—a socialite and philanthropist—and her real-estate mogul husband, Jackson, are a couple straight out of a fairy tale.
Amber’s envy could eat her alive . . . if she didn't have a plan. Amber uses Daphne’s compassion and caring to insinuate herself into the family’s life—the first step in a meticulous scheme to undermine her. Before long, Amber is Daphne’s closest confidante, traveling to Europe with the Parrishes and their lovely young daughters, and growing closer to Jackson. But a skeleton from her past may undermine everything that Amber has worked towards, and if it is discovered, her well-laid plan may fall to pieces.
With shocking turns and dark secrets that will keep you guessing until the very end, The Last Mrs. Parrish is a fresh, juicy, and utterly addictive thriller from a diabolically imaginative talent.

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

get it here

This has been on my "to read" list for awhile now and I am super excited to actually start reading it. I love historical fiction especially anything that has to do with WW I or II. I am really intrigued about the idea of a  female spy in the early 1900s and her role in the WW. This should be a good one! 
Amazon Synopsis:


1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She's also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie's parents banish her to Europe to have her "little problem" taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.
1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she's recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she's trained by the mesmerizing Lili, the "Queen of Spies", who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy's nose. 
Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn't heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth...no matter where it leads.

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

get it here

Oh I am soooo excited to read Kristin Hannah's newest novel. I have loved pretty much everything she has written and I hope this one doesn't disappoint. This book is set in Alaska in the 70's which is so different from anything else I have read. I love how Hannah draws you into the characters and really makes you feel a connection, even if it's a situation you have never been in. I am super interested how she is going to develop a relationship between Ernt and Cora.

 If you haven't read The Nightingale or Firefly Lane by Hannah, go get them now! Both are so good!! 
Amazon Synopsis:

Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: he will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier. 
Thirteen-year-old Leni, a girl coming of age in a tumultuous time, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, dares to hope that a new land will lead to a better future for her family. She is desperate for a place to belong. Her mother, Cora, will do anything and go anywhere for the man she loves, even if means following him into the unknown. 
At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers. In a wild, remote corner of the state, they find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. The long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the Allbrights’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources. 
But as winter approaches and darkness descends on Alaska, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates and the family begins to fracture. Soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within. In their small cabin, covered in snow, blanketed in eighteen hours of night, Leni and her mother learn the terrible truth: they are on their own. In the wild, there is no one to save them but themselves. 
In this unforgettable portrait of human frailty and resilience, Kristin Hannah reveals the indomitable character of the modern American pioneer and the spirit of a vanishing Alaska―a place of incomparable beauty and danger. The Great Alone is a daring, beautiful, stay-up-all-night story about love and loss, the fight for survival, and the wildness that lives in both man and nature.

Stress is Stressing Me Out



I am coming to you real and raw today. I've had something on my mind this past week and just needed to get it out. So here we go!

One thing that I don't do very well is handle stress. I know this about myself and have made soooo many attempts to change this but then I go right back to my perfectionist/ need-it-to-be-a-certain-way tendencies. Why can't I focus on self care and do what I know is the BEST for myself? Why can't I focus that perfectionist tendency into helping me to be less stressed? It seems that this is the one area that my mind doesn't let me obsess over, or maybe I actually am obsessed over it ha?!

Recently, I have been reading Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis and I have come to realize all the lies I feed myself that have to do with increasing my stress level. **If you haven't picked this book up yet, DO IT NOW!!!**
I will tell myself things like: 
Yep, staying up late to find the next best tech tool for my class will definitely be the thing that makes this school year better.
My life needs to look a certain way because otherwise people won't like me.
I need to stay after school to work on these lesson plans because that will make everything run smoothly.
I'll work out tomorrow because x, y, and z are more important today. 
Taking time to rest when the house is a mess is lazy.
I don't work hard enough, therefore that's why I am not where I want to be.
Or how about this one, I can't have a "balanced life" because things will start to crumble.

Am I the only one that has this kind of self talk? I know I can't be but we really don't say this stuff out loud enough. Thanks to social media we get to see the highlight reel of everyone's lives which is totally 100% accurate picture of what it's really like, right??? No! lol but still I manage to look at this stuff and feel like crap. I think okay, I'm not working hard enough or putting in enough effort into this area. This work harder, push harder, be better mentality is an addiction that I didn't realize I even had. Sure, do I want to be the best possible teacher I can be? Yes, I do! Do I want to advance in Rodan+ Fields and hit big goals?? Yep, take my name down for that goal too. The question is when did I stop caring about my emotional well being and focus on everything else first? I seriously don't know when this happened.

Now, don't get me wrong, I am not saying that striving to be your best is bad. I think having goals is an incredible motivator and who wants to be mediocre?? I think sometimes most of the time I choose things like working harder over things like getting enough sleep, working out regularly, and filling my time with things that bring me joy, etc.

Now I know there are those of you who are killing it in every area and I applaud you. That's awesome that you have figured out how to manage stress and balance life, I'm just not there yet. This is something I REALLY have to work at and think about on a daily basis.

So what am I doing to destress?

 I am giving myself permission to actually sit down when I get home and not start doing a bunch of stuff. I blame this habit on my mom. :) She never sits down and is always cleaning, cooking, folding something, etc. She is a woman on the go! Growing up, our house always looked great, there were home cooked meals, laundry done each week, and she was a full time teacher. I seriously don't know how she did it. I do think it caused her a lot of stress though and it has taken her years to put that energy into herself. Now she recognizes the importance of self-care and uses pilates as her outlet. I wish I had her dedication!

I am trying to be less critical of myself when things don't go as planned and just to realize that tomorrow is another day. I am trying to leave school at a decent time and remember that I need to have a work/ life balance. I have even committed myself to 31 days of physical activity whether that's at the gym or at my house. I will get some kind of workout in! I am hoping this will become a new habit.

So here is me making a commitment to myself to work on self-care and to not put myself last on the list of things that need attention. I especially need to remember this today because it was a doozy. Tomorrow is a new day though.

How can you tweak things in your life so stress doesn't consume you?

Five on Friday {Currently}

The weekend is *almost* here!! Hallelujah! It's been a doozy of a week because of losing an hour. It's crazy how that one hour can throw us off so much! Anyways, I thought I would catch you all up on some things I've been loving the past few weeks.

Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

buy it here

I just started listening to this audiobook and WOW it's so good! I was in tears within the first few minutes, but in a good way! Just inspiring and really hits home. If you haven't read it yet, go grab it on Amazon or download as an audiobook now. The author is actually the narrator of book, which I LOVE. Just trust me, you need this!

Peplum Love

buy it here

I am a huge fan of peplum shirts. They add a little something extra to an otherwise boring t-shirt but they also hide my midsection. Win win! I got the mint green version but I also loved this peachy-rust color as well. So comfortable too!

Workouts


I have been making a consistent effort to work out 4-5x a week. I used to be so consistent but with all of our IUIs and fertility related stuff going on, it has made it tough. When I was doing the IUIs, I couldn't workout for 2 weeks a month. Then when I could work out again, I just couldn't get into a good routine. Then our move happened, a new job, blah blah blah... you know how it goes. I am really trying to push all those excuses aside and making time for working out. 

I recently joined the Belle Fitness & Nutrition online training group and I am really liking the workouts. They are simple to follow (which is a breath of fresh air) and can be completed at the gym or at home. This helps on those super busy days when I can't make it to the gym. Also, following along with the Precision Nutrition program, I have a better grasp on what I am putting into my body and how I should be fueling myself. Still a major work in progress but it's getting better!

New Duster

Buy it here

I have been looking for a lightweight duster to transition into spring weather... well if it ever warms up here lol. Anyways, I found this one at Nordstrom Rack and it is so comfy! I've already worn it a few times and love it! This is the plus size version but mine was just regular. I can't seem to find it linked online by the local Nordstrom Rack here had tons of sizes. 

New Podcast


This is for all my teacher friends out there. I recently started listening to a new podcast called the Google Teacher Tribe. It's by Matt Miller (the author of Ditch that Textbook) and Kasey Bell. First of all, if you haven't read Matt Miller's book... do it now! It's a game changer!  I really love their tips and tricks when it comes to the G Suite and I have already used a couple in my classroom. I have been listening to this nonstop and it's definitely worth looking into.