Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve Festivities

Well, New Year's Eve didn't go quite as planned, but we still had a blast!!  My sister had lined up a cabin to rent where we were all going to stay for a few days/nights.  But, as luck would have it, the snow was our enemy.  The weekend before, snow had taken out all of the electricity and blocked the roads into the cabin.  Some family members were going to go down on the Wednesday before New Year's, but another snow storm came through, which meant that there really was no way to get to the cabin because highways and roads were closed because of snow.  Bummer.

But we decided to make the best of it anyway.  Tami hosted us all at her house for food, fun and games.  My little family had been fighting sickness all week - Abbi had a fever the Sunday before and was throwing up until the Wednesday before, I had been fighting a sore throat/cough and a fever earlier that week, and Josh started coming down with it all on New Year's Eve.  Abbi & I decided that we were feeling well enough to go down for some fun, but Josh wasn't feeling well at all.  So we didn't get to start the New Year off together. :(

But Abbi had fun playing with her cousins (and getting to stay up WAY past her bedtime!)

We ate some delicious appetizers, then found some time to play games.  (Yes, I know I look super tired.  And we were laughing that my mom and I were doing the same thing!!)

Tami had fun things for the kids, that included bubbles and

decorating fun masks!!

When midnight was approaching, we all gathered around to watch the ball drop in Times Square.

5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1!!!

There were party hats, noise makers, and sparkling apple juice to ring in the new year.

I can't remember exactly where the grape thing came from - I think it is a Chinese custom where you are supposed to eat one grape for each of the 12 seconds after the New Year and you make 12 wishes for the year.  I could be wrong - I'm quite forgetful when I'm pregnant!!

Happy New Year!!

And of course there was a toast to health, wealth and happiness for the new year!

I can't believe Abbi stayed up so late - I'm pretty sure this is the latest she's ever stayed up!

All of the party animals - minus Kevin (who is taking the picture) and Kade.  (Can you see how grumpy and tired Abbi is? :) )

Abbi and I stuck around to watch mom & dad box it out on the Xbox Kinect.  It was so funny to watch!  I'll have to go down and try it myself one of these days - maybe once I've had this baby and I can actually move around.

It was a great night - despite the change in plans.  I'm so glad I was able to ring in the new year with such great family!

(Thanks to Janell for half of the pictures!!)

{Abbi-a-Day} Days 358-365

 Breakfast at IHOP - sampling the syrup!

 Sharing the excitement of Christmas morning with Max

 Playing with her new kitchen!

 Her favorite way of dancing - which is basically just turning in circles and singing

 Playing tea party with her tea set and crackers.  What a mess - but she was having fun!

 Say cheese!

 Her new favorite thing to do while in the bath.  She loves to lay on her back and she says she's "going swimming".

Having some New Year's Eve appetizers!

December Abbi-isms

Overheard while she was dancing in the living room - "dance with me puppy, dance with me!"


After showing her an "owie" I had on my arm - "I kiss better", followed by lots of kisses to my owie.


While driving in the car -
me:  what does a dog say?  Abbi:  ruff, ruff
me:  what does a cat say?  Abbi:  meow
me:  what does daddy say?  Abbi:  I love buggy!
me:  what does mommy say?  Abbi:  I love buggy!
me:  what does Abbi say?  Abbi:  I love buggy!


We got in the car to run errands, and she had a sippy cup of water in her car seat.  She took a big, long drink, followed by "DELICIOUS!!"  I had never heard her say "delicious" before, so it made me laugh!


Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 Books in Review

and my 2011 goal!

I can't believe that just a year ago I made the goal to read 12 books this year.  And the final count?  77!!  I still can't believe I read that many books, but I'm so glad that I was able to rediscover my love of reading.  And I look forward to all the books on my list for 2011!

I thought it would be fun to list some favorites.  And if you want to see a full list of all the books I read, with links to the reviews, click HERE.

First up, the books that I gave a 5-star rating to.  All of these books I would recommend 100%. 

And since some of my favorites for the year were 4-star ratings, I had to give honorable mentions to some as well.  Some of these books are actually ones that hit me the hardest and have stuck with me the longest.  I really did read some great books this year!!

And onto 2011!

I didn't want to put a number on how many books I read this year, but I did want to set some sort of reading goal.  I started thinking about a list of books that I saw on Facebook several months ago. I have no idea how this list was compiled, because while most are classics, there are some modern books on this list.  But just for the sake of a list to follow, I decided that I want to read 12 books off of this list that I haven't read before.  When the list started showing up, it said that the "BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here."  Luckily, I've read 13 of the 100, but it's still pretty bad - especially since many of the ones I've read are the non-classics on the list!  So this is my challenge, since the classics are harder for me to read.  12 of these books in 12 months - along with any other books I want to read!  (The bolded books are ones that I have read.)

1. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte (read Jan 2011)
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald (Read March 2011)
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostotebsky
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
34 Emma – Jane Austen
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis (Feb 2011)
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Berniere
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel
52 Dune – Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession – AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

2010 Books

List and links to reviews of books read in 2010

January 2010

The Little Lady Agency
The Host
Sarah:  Women of Genesis
The Goose Girl
Little Women
Dear John

February 2010

Confessions of a Shopaholic
The Hunger Games
No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency
Enna Burning
Shelter Me

March 2010

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Princess Academy
The Joy Luck Club
Twenties Girl
The Westing Game
Water For Elephants
Life of Pi
River Secrets

April 2010

Three Cups of Tea
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society
City of Bones
Olive Kitteridge
The Last Song

May 2010

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Eat Cake
The Thirteenth Tale
Tears of the Giraffe
Look Again
Catching Fire
The Book Thief
City of Ashes
Killing Floor

June 2010

The Catcher in the Rye
Astrid & Veronika
Forest Born
The House at Riverton
The Help
The Bean Trees
PS I Love You

July 2010

Light a Penny Candle
The Lucky One
Lemon Tart
To Kill a Mockingbird
Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind
City of Glass

August 2010

The Dark Divine
Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder
My Sister's Keeper
Hattie Big Sky
The Hand That First Held Mine

September 2010

Winter Garden
The Actor and the Housewife
A Great and Terrible Beauty
Hearts in Hiding
Wondrous Strange

October 2010

Same Kind of Different as Me
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
A Girl Named Zippy

November 2010

Hush, Hush
The Memory Keeper's Daughter
Rebel Angels

December 2010

This Dog For Hire
Dirty Little Secrets
The Day the Falls Stood Still
Made in the U.S.A.
Poison Study
The Sweet Far Thing

Book #77 - The Sweet Far Thing

The Sweet Far Thing (Gemma Doyle #3)
Libba Bray

Blurb: It has been a year of change since Gemma Doyle arrived at the foreboding Spence Academy. Her mother murdered, her father a laudanum addict, Gemma has relied on an unsuspected strength and has discovered an ability to travel to an enchanted world called the realms, where dark magic runs wild. Despite certain peril, Gemma has bound the magic to herself and forged unlikely new alliances. Now, as Gemma approaches her London debut, the time has come to test these bonds.

The Order - the mysterious group her mother was once part of - is grappling for control of the realms, as is the Rakshana. Spence's burned East Wing is being rebuilt, but why now? Gemma and her friends see Pippa, but she is not the same. And their friendship faces its gravest trial as Gemma must decide once and for all what role she is meant for.
(from Goodreads)

Opening Sentence: "The night was cold and dismal, and out on the Thames, the riverman cursed their luck."

Length: Long - 819 pages

Notes:  The final book of the Gemma Doyle series!  I do have to say that I liked this last book the best of the trilogy.  I was a little afraid that it was going to drag, being over 800 pages, but it actually kept my attention the whole time and wasn't a long read.  I do have to agree with my cousin's wife on this, though - it's quite annoying that the main character, Gemma, never seems to learn from her mistakes.  I found myself time and time again, getting frustrated at the choices and decisions she made.  It was a good, solid series.

Random quote : "And that is how change happens. One gesture. One person. One moment at a time."

Recommend: yes

Have you read this book? Share your feelings!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas 2010

Merry Christmas!!

We had a great day, and to say that Abbi got spoiled is an understatement!!  We decided to take it easy and we stayed home all day.  We even stayed in our pjs all day!!  We started the morning with Abbi waking up to the presents Santa brought - a buggy-sized table and a stocking full of candy and toys.  Then we opened presents, and Abbi was super excited to get a Pillow Pet, some play food, some coloring books and a whole box of fruit snacks from mommy & daddy. She also got a play grocery cart from grandma & grandpa Mitchell.  Josh got a new set of scriptures, and I got a cookbook that I have been wanting!
Checking out her princess camera that she got in her stocking, while sitting at her new table.

What else is in my stocking??
Helping Max discover what Santa brought for him
1st present (because it was the biggest!) from Grandma & Grandpa Mitchell
She had no problems ripping right into the presents this year!
A pillow pet!!
It's food!!
Coloring in my new Minnie Mouse coloring book
Pretending to sleep on the pillow pet :)
After a breakfast of the annual fried scones, we hung around and relaxed.  Josh's parents came over to bring Abbi a truck-load of presents.  She got a baby doll, complete with stroller, crib and swing, as well as a full, kid-sized kitchen set of pots and pans.  And then the big one - a play kitchen!  I would be lying if I didn't say that I wanted to get down and play with it!!  I know this little girl has hours of playtime ahead of her.

Look at all these presents!
What is it?
Getting some help from daddy
This box was so big she could barely see over it!!
In fact, she had to get up on the couch to get started on it!
Admiring her new kitchen
Daddy had a lot to put together!
I made a Christmas dinner, with ham, potatoes, brussels sprouts and bread - even though we weren't very hungry.  I guess we had too much candy all day!  But it was a wonderful day, and we all went to bed exhausted that night!

Christmas Eve

 What do you get when you start a day off with breakfast out with family and end it with presents?

Christmas Eve!

As an annual tradition, we all met up at IHOP for mom's birthday breakfast.

 Abbi had fun demolishing her pancakes, but really only ate the whipped cream.  Note to self:  next time, just let her eat some off of your plate!!

And well, for most of the rest of the day, I don't have any photos!  My dad graciously took Abbi for an hour after breakfast so that we could go and finish up shopping.  Yes, we are procrastinators and had to go shopping on Christmas Eve.  The goal next year is to have every gift bought by December 5th!!

After shopping, we hung out at home for some much needed rest time.  Then it was off to the Harroun's for a Christmas Eve dinner of pulled pork sandwiches, veggies and dip, crackers and cheeseball, and lots more.  We didn't stay for long because Josh was super tired from not sleeping well the night before.  Plus, Abbi wanted to get home so she could open a present!!

 I never set out to have the tradition of pj's on Christmas Eve, but it looks like we are going that way since this is the second year we've done it!  I actually just picked up these pj's that morning when I found them for a really good deal.  She's super excited about her Minnie Mouse pjs!

I had wrapped presents while she was napping earlier that afternoon.  I now realize why my mom always waited for Christmas Eve to wrap the presents - all Abbi wanted to do was go and inspect the presents!  I had to keep an eye on her so she wouldn't tear the paper off, like she tried to a few times.  She was super excited for Christmas morning!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

{Abbi-a-Day} Days 351-357

 I had a box of Christmas decorations in the hallway, and Abbi had fun climbing up and turning the lights on and off.  A new favorite game!

 Coloring with dadda

 Hiding from the camera

 This girl will entertain herself with anything she can find!

 Loving Minnie Mouse!

 We have officially entered the "cheesy smile when the camera comes out" phase

I think Abbi was the most excited about all the boxes of chocolates daddy brought home from work!