We read “Speak” for book club a couple months ago. First, here's what it's about:
The first ten lies they tell you in high school.

“Speak up for yourself–we want to know what you have to say.” From the first moment of her freshman year at Merryweather High, Melinda knows this is a big fat lie, part of the nonsense of high school. She is friendless, outcast, because she busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, so now nobody will talk to her, let alone listen to her. As time passes, she becomes increasingly isolated and practically stops talking altogether. Only her art class offers any solace, and it is through her work on an art project that she is finally able to face what really happened at that terrible party: she was raped by an upperclassman, a guy who still attends Merryweather and is still a threat to her. Her healing process has just begun when she has another violent encounter with him. But this time Melinda fights back, refuses to be silent, and thereby achieves a measure of vindication. In Laurie Halse Anderson's powerful novel, an utterly believable heroine with a bitterly ironic voice delivers a blow to the hypocritical world of high school. She speaks for many a disenfranchised teenager while demonstrating the importance of speaking up for oneself.

This was hard to read at times, but a powerful, and slightly oddly written book. Since it was from the perspective of a high schooler, it was choppy and hard to read at times. I was able to get past the character's prose because the book was interesting. The summary above gives a good idea about the book. It takes a long time in the book to find out what happened to her. And albeit graphic, I thought it was kind of anti-climactic for being such an integral part of her story.

You can really see how such a trafic event can dramatically change a person. That was hard to read. But she has a teacher who can tell there's something she needs to get out.

It was a good book in hindsight, but I imagine there are better books out there that touch on this topic were you looking to read something about a similar incident. The other ladies weren't terribly fond of the book because of the topic and graphic details at times. It was a fast read if this is something you might be interested in reading.

Happy reading, friends.

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Date Night

I’ve been trying to plan date nights for Chuck and myself before he leaves for Seattle. We have done puzzle rooms, out for sushi, a cooking class, dinner with friends, adult night at the zoo, and the other night we went wandering around Minnehaha Falls and then met some friends at the Stone Arch Bridge Festival. It was such a fun evening. It was a really hot day, but with our summer weekends being numbered here in Minnesota, it was so fun to get outside and do something active instead of just going to a movie or something. It’s so nice to have time together without the kids and do things we used to do when it was just us.










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Sushi Skills 101

Last month, for a date night, I signed us up for a sushi making class through Cooks of Crocus Hill. This class taught us all about sushi (which is the rice) and how to make it correctly. We also learned how to make nigiri and some rolls. There was a lot of great information and it was so much fun to try something new!


Their kitchen was so pretty!



We were given some recipes in our packet and the chef made the most amazing soy sauce mixture we have ever had. We wanted to drink it! We also got the recipes for sushi rice, and a few rolls.

We watched the chef demonstrate and cook a bunch of stuff and then he set us loose to try all the stuff he taught us.





I really like nigiri and found I liked the cucumber rolls. I didn’t think I would, but I was pleasantly surprised. I also liked the spicy tuna rolls the chef made.


At the end, while we were asking questions, the chef just continued to make rolls for us to pass around and eat. He got fancier as we neared the end of the class.


We had a lot of fun and Chuck wants to try making some at home. I usually say I don’t like sushi, but a couple weeks ago I finally had my first sushi craving. Apparently you just get hooked on sushi and want it all the time. I didn’t think that was possible, but it happened. So Chuck was happy to run out and get some for us for dinner!

I really enjoyed taking this cooking class and I plan to sign us up for another one sometime in the future. It was nice to go do something other than just dinner and a movie (which is wonderful). There’s just something about going out, learning something and making it that is so satisfying and perfect.

Have you ever taken a cooking class? Or done a fun activity or something out of the ordinary for date night? I love suggestions!


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A Visit From Seattle

Our long-time friend, Kelly, and her daughter, Aria, came to visit us a couple weeks ago. I literally squealed when she told me she booked a flight here and was even more excited when she decided to stay with us! That meant loads of baby snuggles and Kelly-time!


Chuck also made his best batch EVER of pretzels!!!


We went to one of her favorite restaurants one night for dinner. It was fun to bring all the kids there. Thankfully, it’s not a super classy joint, so we weren’t bothering anyone with all the kids (whom were all very well-behaved). We also spent a morning at the zoo and had lunch at Noodles.

The kids were really good with Aria and liked to play with her. Maddie was especially loving of her…and Aria liked Maddie a lot!



It was a brief, but wonderful trip. I am so thankful that she came all the way here (after staying a number of days in Georgia) to see us and let us meet her sweet little girl!

I am hoping to plan a trip out during Chuck’s July trip to Seattle. I am really excited to go out and see some of my dear friends there! It’s so good to be back home in MN, but I still miss my friends there. Thankfully, 2016 makes it pretty easy to stay in touch with each other!


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Building My Skills

A dear friend of mine asked me if I would help her make a website for a business she wants to start. I couldn’t be more excited that she asked me. I love web design even though I am quite an amateur at it. But this is something I would love to add to my resume as a skill I have for future jobs in the tech field one day. I have helped my dad build a website (of course with help from Chuck) and we will be doing some updates to his site soon, I have had a few websites of my own over the years and I am hoping to do a bit of updating to my site soon. I am so honored that she asked me to help. This is a perfect project for me to gain some more knowledge and skills.

A few weeks ago I went to a Geekettes event. I love their events. They are a great place to talk to women in varying stages in their tech degrees. This time there were some amazing speakers (one I would LOVE to work for one day) and a t-shirt company was there screen printing shirts. I come home from those events so excited and motivated. It’s so fun to hear how people have come into the tech field and what varying positions there are. It gives me confidence that I will be able to find something that is a good fit for me one day.

I also follow some Facebook groups on similar topics to Geekettes and keep looking for events to attend. I had sent out an email to a few people and posted on FB to see if anyone wanted to join me. I didn’t get any takers. Maybe it was because they weren’t free that night or it could be a sign of how intimidating the tech field can be for women.

I have done some more research about various jobs and have a book I really want to read about project management in my list of books (I haven’t decided if I am going to buy the physical book to have the author sign it – which she said she would) or just buy the kindle edition. After talking to one of the speakers, she seemed to think I would be really good at project management. It is appealing to me, but I worry I am too much of a pleaser, not strong-willed enough, or not the right personality for it. But I think those are just my insecurities talking.

After I get my friend’s website up and running and looking the way she wants, I’ll be sure to post it here. I think it’s something many of you will want to utilize!



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Some New Meals

It’s been almost a month since I posted something here. I am slacking! I’ve been trying to make some new meals here and there.

The most recent one we tried (and I loved…even the leftovers) was Spicy Grilled Tofu. I didn’t take any pictures, but trust me! It was so yummy! I made some brown/wild rice in the rice cooker to go with it and sautéed some peppers/onions/garlic to go with it. Yum! I used only 1/4 cup syrup instead of the 1/3 cup and I didn’t actually grill the tofu. I just seared it in a pan. Still delicious. The only things the kids ate was a little bit of the rice. I can’t remember what I had leftover in the fridge for them to eat for dinner that night.

Tonight, I am making Mexican Zucchini Burrito Boats. I have seen similar recipes to this one online many times, but decided to finally try it. I’m really excited. The kids probably won’t touch this. I’ll give them some to try, but most likely they will eat a cheese quesadilla.

I am planning to make some tofu lettuce wraps next week, as well.

We have made these Veggie Packed Pizza Roll-Ups many times and we love it! We make a bunch of sauce and freeze leftovers for another time. They are so filling since you make whole wheat dough for them. We like to add some extra spices/seasoning in them and sometimes some bacon bits. The kids will usually eat these, but Chuck also uses some leftover dough and makes them some breadsticks with them (which they dip in ketchup…weirdos).

Some of our favorites are:

  • Onion Rings, homemade pizza (sometimes we make the dough and sometimes we just use store bought)
  • Taters & Veggies (I could eat this for every meal)
  • Spaghetti (we sauté a BUNCH of garlic, peppers and onions and add it to the sauce, which makes me eat less pasta because the sauce is so filling)
  • pancakes/waffles and eggs
  • Veggie Soup (which we had last night for dinner)
  • I think I am going to try making the Chicken Noodle Soup I like with tofu instead of chicken
  • Fish tacos

I’m trying to broaden my food horizon and try some new things, but I still throw in some favorites. Making a new meal too often can be challenging and even make you less excited to try more new things. So I am trying for one new meal a week. I like having a big arsenal of go-to meals. Smile And another thing I do is add the meals we are eating to our shared calendar. Then we can see what is coming up or adjust as need be if something comes up.

Do you have any favorite vegetarian meals that you love that we should try? If so, please send along the recipe! What do you do for meal planning/prep?


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Superhero Party

This year Maddie knew exactly what kind of birthday party she wanted…. “a Superhero party with ice cream cake!” So that’s exactly what she got!


We invited family and a few friends over and it was so fun and simple. I got a bunch of capes for the kids (and a few extras for adults to play with), made a photo booth backdrop and cut out masks and such. We played Kids Bop music and ordered pizza and ate DQ cake. It was perfect!





Grandma Linda made more amazing gifts this year. She made Maddie her very own superhero cape, headband and wrist bands and a Barbie tent/sleeping bags/campfire! She is SO creative! The kids were fascinated by the Barbie stuff.







Thanks to our family and friends that could be there (or sent gifts in lieu of your presence) and helping to make this girl one very happy superhero!

HERE is a link to the photo gallery from the party.


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Maddie is 5!



Our baby girl turned 5 last week! 5!!!! I am not an overly sentimental person. I don’t keep every piece of art the kids make or many of the things most parents would keep. But there was something about putting Maddie to bed for the last time as a 4 year old that just turned me into a sobbing mess. I could barely hold it together when I was kissing her good night. It’s not like me at all.


The cutest part was in the morning after we woke her up and I was making her breakfast (blueberry muffins), she said “mom, I don’t feel any different. I have a different number, but nothing has really changed.” She’s so smart. I told her that’s kind of how birthdays are. You get older, but don’t feel different when you wake up. She didn’t like that. I think she thought she was going to magically feel completely different. Children are so cute and innocent.


She brought cupcakes to school that morning and then later in the day we opened presents. She had some leftover ice cream cake from her birthday party the previous weekend (I’ll post about that soon) and otherwise had a pretty low-key day.




But she’s 5! 5!!!! I think it was hard for me this time because I signed her up for kindergarten right before her birthday. Something about knowing your kid will be taking the bus and heading to school all day was a shock to my system.


We also got her first haircut a couple days after she turned 5.


Our sweet girl is 5 and is really turning into a remarkable little girl. She’s so sweet and caring to her brother and sister. She’s helpful and understanding. She loves learning. She smart and curious and loves to know how things work. She’s very crafty and creative. And she’s the silliest little girl!








We love her so very much! Even if she is a little strange. Smile


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Chicken Noodle Soup

I made this a month or so ago when Chuck was out of town last time and it was so yummy! I think I found this recipe through Pinterest, but it came from Cooking Light so I wanted to give it a try. I am definitely making it again…maybe this week!






This was really flavorful. I was pleasantly surprised. I think it helped to use stock instead of broth. The only thing I would do differently next time is have some extra stock to add in after. It was a little light on the liquid. I would have preferred a little more. When I saved the soup, I added a little water to each of the servings and that helped.

I’m getting hungry just looking at it. Guess the ingredients are going on my grocery list! It was a tasty dinner and was great for lunches.

*UPDATE* I made this again today. I added two 32 oz containers of stock and no extra water. I also cooked the veggies with some garlic (which I did last time, too). It was much better liquid-wise. The taste was still really good and I ate a small helping for lunch and have about 5 lunch portions leftover.


I also didn’t mention that I love how tasty this soup is and it only takes about a half hour to cook. This is going to be a definite go-to meal for me.


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First Haircuts

Maddie got her first haircut. You read that right. She’s 5 and she just got her first haircut. I wasn’t ready to cut her hair. But then it’s been so hard to manage lately and it made her so upset to brush her hair, I knew it was time. So we took her in to get a haircut. Here are before and after pictures.





When I first looked at the pictures it didn’t look like she had very much cut off. But then we did a side-by-side picture and when you look where the bottom of her shirt is, you can see that quite a bit was taken off. Smile


It’s so much nicer now and so much more manageable. I know I should have done it sooner, but now she has more crazy mom ammunition for later in life.



And as if cutting Maddie’s hair didn’t send me over the edge, I decided to get Alex’s hair cut as well. And Alex went first, so the 15 month old got a haircut before the 5 year old. You can call me ridiculous now. Smile 

Maddie was a trooper and didn’t make a peep or anything. Alex, well, he cried the whole time. But he was mostly mad that I was holding down his hands. He calmed down as soon as he got the plastic cover off him and I let him out of the chair.  Here are his before and after pictures.





I wanted him to have a mohawk, but knew that I wouldn’t keep it up and style it everyday, so I had her keep it longer, but she still styled it that way for me. By the time we got home, though, the mohawk had fallen down. Here’s one I snapped before we left.



This place saved a clipping of their hair in a little envelope. The lady who did Maddie’s hair commented that was one of the biggest amounts of hair they cut for a first haircut. Haha.


Overall, it wasn’t as traumatizing for me as I thought it would be. And now I can brush Maddie’s hair without a fight and Alex just looks like a little man. Smile Now maybe just another year or two before Dannie gets her first haircut. Smile


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