Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Mother's Day Gifts for the Grandmas

Yes, I know I'm basically two entire months behind, but I am playing some SERIOUS catch-up. It seems like I go through spurts with this little blog of mine... I either take a few weeks off completely or post a ton of posts all at once. I'm trying to be more consistent, as usual, but life happens.

We actually told my family about Baby Cookie 2.0 on Easter! We had Annabelle wear a BIG SIS shirt that we made for her (and I somehow have exactly ZERO pictures of her wearing it that day because we told them, ate Easter dinner, and then quickly changed to head out to the Royals game... oops!), so I decided to make them a little something special and ship it to them for Mother's Day.

I found this idea on Etsy, but it was from a seller in another country, so the shipping was really expensive. I decided to try to make my own, and I'm really pleased with how they turned out. I knew I wouldn't be able to top last year's mason jar photo frames, but those were FAR more work intensive... I love mine, but I can't say I'll ever make another.



Do you make DIY gifts for Mother's Day, or are you more of a traditional gift buyer / giver?

Monday, July 10, 2017

How I Told Dan About Baby Cookie 2.0

Remember, this second baby girl has been a HUGE surprise to us! She is very wanted and very loved... but... we were taken aback when we first found out about her! We thought Annabelle would be an only child. Instead, she gets to be a big sister!

I actually found out on a Thursday morning (right after a wine night with the girls... oops!) but had to keep it to myself until Friday evening since Dan had a big check ride on Friday during the day. I didn't want to distract him (because I knew it was going to be a huge bomb dropped!) so he could focus on passing that flying evaluation... so I told my best friend Michelle, and she helped me figure out what to do.

Since it's Baby COOKIE 2.0... we decided writing on one of those giant Walmart cookies was the way to go. In hindsight, I definitely should have had the bakery write this out for me... I was SO NERVOUS that my hand was shaking uncontrollably, hence the terrible handwriting. I actually have great penmanship, and I'm not new to using frosting. This just shows how anxious I was about telling Dan!



Luckily, he took the news in stride, AND we had a big chocolate chip cookie to devour while we talked it all out.

Looking back, I feel kind of silly about being so nervous to tell Dan... but like I said, we were both in a state of shock for those first few weeks!

And honestly... what kind of situation does a giant chocolate chip cookie NOT help with?!

Friday, July 7, 2017

Baby Cookie 2.0 is a GIRL!

Just like with Annabelle, we did all of the Old Wives' Tales to see what family and friends thought Baby Cookie 2.0 would be - this time, it was pretty split, despite all the clues leading to girl (see the chart below). I think many of the boy guesses were just people wanting our family to be even for some reason... but that's not how it works because Baby Cookie 2.0 is another GIRL! You can see Annabelle's gender reveal at this post!




We are a little shocked that we're going to be ONLY girl parents, but we are thrilled to see these two sisters together!

And yes, we do already have a full name chosen that we are in love with. Just like last time, though, we will not be sharing it until baby girl is born! (And thank goodness we didn't have to agree on a boy name because that may have NEVER happened! Ha!)

Thursday, July 6, 2017

ENJJPT (Pilot Training) Graduation

A couple weeks after drop night (where Dan found out what jet he'll be flying for his career), Dan accomplished a huge dream! He graduated from Air Force Pilot Training and pinned on his shiny new wings! He is officially an Air Force pilot! I couldn't be more proud of him and all the hard work he has put in over the last many, many years to reach this goal.

His flight from class 17-06 (L Flight) is pictured below - he's right in the middle!






Dan also received an award at graduation that was a surprise to us all - the Officership Excellence Award from the Military Officers Association of America! He is a true leader and is always putting others before himself to help them when they need it. I am so proud of him for receiving this!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

21 Month Update - Annabelle

Little Miss Sassy Annabelle is 21 months old! Actually, she's 21 and a HALF months old now... but I'm just slow getting around to posting this update. I'm sure she'll forgive me. ;-)



Another quarter of a year has come and gone, so here we are with Miss Annabelle's 21 Month Update!

She is as sassy and fierce as ever, and she started swimming lessons on her 21 month birthday (hence the swimsuit photo!).

She is curious and brave, and she is always into something. She climbs anything and everything and runs at lightning speed.

She's growing like a weed - so tall! And she's finally gaining some weight too... probably because she eats adult portioned meals.

Annie is saying so many words but mostly when she wants to, NOT when we ask her to. She can say some short sentences, but her go-to is "read me a book". She's obsessed with her pets. She loves lounging with her dog, Smudge, and petting her kitties, Gilly and Stormy.

Annie is happy when we let her play with any kind of water - from the hose to her water table to a swimming pool! She is an outdoor girl for sure.

We are starting to prepare her for being a big sister this winter, but she's not so gentle. It's going to take a lot of work.

She is super excited to move to Florida in the fall so she can swim with the "fishies" - another one of her favorite things. Annabelle still loves ducks and quacks whenever she sees a yellow bird in a book or on TV. We are so impressed with her development right now, but we do wish she would calm down a bit. The girl is ALWAYS on the go... meaning we are exhausted!

She's fun, though, and watching her discover new things - like riding her trike - is fascinating. We can see the gears turning in her brain. This age is so much fun!







Annabelle's next update will be at 24 months - her SECOND birthday! I don't know why she's growing up so quickly, but there's nothing I can do to stop it! 


Monday, June 19, 2017

Saturday Sit-Down at Whimsical September

A couple days ago, I had the honor to be featured on Erica's blog, Whimsical September, being interviewed for her Saturday Sit-Down series! So much fun! I have loved getting to meet new bloggers all year after reading her interviews, and I was so glad to participate myself!

You can check out my Saturday Sit-Down interview at this link.


I'll be back later this week with my first bumpdate for Baby Cookie #2, so stay tuned!

Monday, June 5, 2017

ENJJPT Drop Night Recap AKA My Husband is a Stud!

We found out on Friday night what Lieutenant Lovemuffin will be flying for his Air Force career, and he was selected to fly the F-22 Raptor! Pretty badass. If you remember my last post about drop night looming over us, you'll recall that the F-22 was at the top of his list, so we are definitely pleased. (There's a video of the moment we found at at the very end of this post - check it out!)

We'll be moving to sunny Florida... Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City, to be exact. We don't have dates yet, but we're assuming we'll head that way sometime this fall. He still has three weeks of UPT left, followed by another trip to the Centrifuge in San Antonio, a few months of IFF (Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals) here at Sheppard, and then SERE (survival training) up in Washington state all before we can head that way. We're hoping to get there and get settled before Baby Cookie #2 makes his or her appearance, but we'll see what happens.



Here's the video! This video is VERY dark (sorry!), but turn up the volume - it shows the moment Dan caught the inflatable shark and found out what plane he was assigned to! The person who jumps up to the left is me... hahaha! I shot out of my seat when he yelled, "RAPTOR!!!" Such an amazing, fun night last night for ENJJPT Class 17-06's Drop Night! A moment we will NEVER forget! (PS - their class is called SharkNATO, hence the inflatable sharks and Hawaiian themed shirts!)


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Three Years of Marriage

Three years of marriage. 8.5 years together. One sassy kid and another on the way. Travels. Cross country moves. Air Force life. Late nights. The good, the bad, and the everything in between. We've been through a lot in our time together, and I wouldn't want it any other way. The bad makes us appreciate the good all the more. The occasional distance makes us not take each other for granted when we're together. This life isn't the easiest, but it's special, crazy, and fun. It's unique and beautiful, and there's no one I'd rather co-pilot with. Happy third wedding anniversary to my handsome husband!



I accidentally called Dan my wife at the end of my vows (that I wrote) in front of all of our family and friends and had the moment epically captured via photographs AND video... see below! Ha! 



We couldn't have done it without all of these amazing friends! I'm sad that the last time we were all in one place was at our wedding. 


Forever thankful to have a husband who will dance in the rain with me! 




Thursday, May 25, 2017

Drop Night is Coming!

Drop night is QUICKLY approaching, and I just wanted to write about it and what it means to us.

First and foremost, it is set for Friday, June 2nd, 2017 at 7:00PM for Dan's class at ENJJPT.

What is drop night? I get asked this question ALL. THE. TIME. Drop night is when the student pilots from one class (my husband is at Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training (ENJJPT) at Sheppard Air Force Base, but there are three other Air Force Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT) bases too - Vance AFB, Laughlin AFB, and Columbus AFB) find out IN FRONT OF EVERYONE what plane they will be flying for their Air Force career.

Dan is specifically in class 17-06, but there is a drop night every six weeks here at Sheppard. The dates vary with the other three UPT bases, but drop nights happen at regular intervals.

How are the student pilots selected for their aircraft assignments? I also hear this one a lot. The student pilots are ranked within their flights and their classes (each class has two flights) based on several factors from their training, check rides, etc. throughout the year-long program. They also get to submit a "dream sheet", where they rank each and every aircraft the Air Force has to offer, starting with their top choice and going all the way to last place. Based on their ranking AND what they hope the fly, the people who choose just kind of go down the list.

What does Dan hope to fly? This is probably the most frequent question I get from family and friends - ALL THE TIME! While he certainly has preferences (and I'll get to those), he has longed to be an Air Force pilot for so long that he will just be happy to get paid to fly anything! He's not one of those people (and oh do they exist!) who will be super upset and unable to function if he doesn't get one of his top choices. But, hey, Air Force Gods... it wouldn't hurt to give him one anyway! ;-) Dan's top three planes on his dream sheet are the F-35, F-22, and F-15E. We really struggled to place those in any kind of order, though, so if he gets ANY of those top three, it'll be like winning the jackpot! His next three are the F-16, A-10, and F-15C, which would still be cool but aren't AS desirable. Then, he skips down to the heavies - or cargo planes - C-130, C-17, C-21, C-5, etc. After the heavies come the bombers and finally FAIPing, which is what we absolutely do NOT want (staying here at Sheppard and him being an instructor pilot - he's already a 1st Lieutenant, prior enlisted, and pretty old for the average student pilot), so we're hoping to avoid this step, but each drop has at least one and sometimes two in the mix... so we know it's still a possibility.

No matte what the outcome, we are just excited to KNOW so we can start planning our next move! That's right - whatever plane he is assigned also tells us what specific base we will be moving to! We won't know EXACTLY when, but we'll have a pretty good idea, and the planner in me is just dying to start looking at houses, activities for Annabelle, an OB and hospital for Baby Cookie #2, etc. I NEED TO KNOW.



This journey really has been a long time coming. When I met Dan in 2008, he was already in the Air National Guard and pursuing a degree in Aviation. He had always dreamed of flying in the Air Force, but that didn't seem like a reality until he was accepted into the Air Force Academy shortly after we started dating in 2009 and went active duty. Basically, our entire relationship has been focused on this one long-term dream and goal. He has poured every little bit of himself into being the best cadet, then officer, then Master's student, and now student pilot that he could possibly be in order to achieve his dreams. No matter what aircraft he is assigned to, we know it will be the right fit for our family because you just don't work this hard for nothing. It's all coming to fruition NEXT WEEK, He will still have three more weeks of pilot training after drop night before graduation, but I can already tell those three weeks are going to be so amazing because we'll KNOW everything we need to know. No more guessing. No more fretting.

This studly husband of mine has worked his tail off for NO JOKE eight years to achieve the goal of becoming a pilot in the world's greatest Air Force. And here we are... about to watch an absolute DREAM COME TRUE. (I'm not proud or anything... ;-) )

Please pray, send good wishes, positive thoughts, crossed fingers, etc. our way next week, as I know we will both be an anxious, nervous wreck!

Monday, May 15, 2017

SURPRISE! Baby Cookie #2 On the Way!

In case you missed our announcement on social media last night, I'm sharing it again!

More details to come later... but for now... I'll just leave you with this.



Friday, May 12, 2017

Military Spouse Appreciation Day Link-Up 2017

It's that time of year again - Military Spouse Appreciation Day! And a HUGE thanks to Jen and Amanda for hosting this link-up each year. I absolutely LOVE meeting new (to me) military spouses to connect with.


//Tell us about yourself and your blog.
I’m Janelle, and I’m an almost 30 Air Force wife, girl mom, and former middle school language arts teacher. I now own two Etsy shops that I work on during nap time. I started blogging here in January of 2013 to document our lives – and since my husband is a pilot (to be in the Air Force – almost there!), the name Come Fly With Us was born. We also used Frank Sinatra’s Come Fly With Me as our first dance song at our wedding way back in 2014. I used to blog on a much stricter schedule, and while I do kind of miss it, my life just has other priorities now, so I try to post when I can so I’ll still have major events documented. I’m working on it.

//What branch of military are you affiliated with?
Dan is a part of the World’s Greatest Air Force! He is currently six weeks away from graduating from Euro-Nato Joint Jet PilotTraining at Sheppard AFB in Texas and only three weeks away from finding out his aircraft assignment! To say we are an anxious mess would be an understatement. He will celebrate 11 years in the military next month, but his journey has been anything but normal! He first enlisted in the Army in 2006 and played trumpet in their band (in the Army Guard). He also played military funerals all the time. He transferred to the Air Guard eventually because there was an Air Force base near the college he chose to attend (where we met) and was working toward becoming a B-2 Crew Chief when we started dating. He applied to the Air Force Academy on a whim, got accepted, and spent five years in Colorado Springs doing his time there (including a year at the prep school), all while competing on their official Flying Team. He found out he got a pilot slot his senior year and was ecstatic – that was the DREAM all along! But then he was also accepted to graduate school, so he put his dreams of flying on hold for another 18 months to obtain his Master’s degree in Physics first at AFIT atWright-Patterson AFB in Ohio.

//What is one thing you enjoy about the military lifestyle?
The thing I love about the military lifestyle would definitely be how quickly spouses and significant others make friends. We don’t just become friends… we become FAMILY… because we all understand what it’s like to be away from our actual families. If someone is sick, people are there to take them what they need. If someone is going out of town for the weekend, someone is right there to take care of their pets. If someone has a baby, SO MANY people line up to bring the new mom a meal. It’s a wonderful sense of community, and it’s something I don’t think the general civilian population gets to experience on the same level.

//What advice would you give other spouses who are new?
Every assignment is what you make it! If you’re going to an undesirable place, make a bucket list of things to do while you’re stationed there. Find a church (or other type of organization) to get plugged into as soon as you can. Have your spouse invite his flight/class/unit/etc. over to your new place for a cookout as soon as possible so you can get to know the people you’ll be spending most of your time with for the next year or more. Essentially, do the work upfront to make friends, and you’ll end up having a good time. I’m guilty of not enjoying a certain place as much as I should have, but I was a brand new spouse, and I have learned from that mistake for sure. I’m not just excited to find out where we’ll be heading next, even though I don’t hate our current base.

//Where have you been stationed?
Before we were dating, Dan was technically stationed at Whiteman AFB in Knob Noster, Missouri. He was in the Air Guard then, so he didn’t spend too much time there, as he was in college full time as well. Then, he got in to the Air Force Academy, so we moved to Colorado Spring, Colorado. We weren’t able to get married until he graduated from there (no dependents allowed!), but I moved out there and lived on my own while he stayed in the mandatory dorms. From there, we got married and moved to our official first base together- Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio. We were there for only 18 months, and then we moved to Sheppard AFB in Wichita Falls, Texas. We’ve been here for a little over a year and will be finding out super soon (next month!) where we’re heading next (most likely later this year).

//Do you work, go to school, volunteer, or stay home? I taught middle school language arts for before having my daughter, Annabelle. I enjoyed the teenagers and do miss it some days. But for now, while she is young, we have chosen for me to stay home with her. Dan’s schedule is so unpredictable, so it’s best if one of us can be with her. I’ll probably get back into teaching in a few years, but who knows where the Air Force will take us!



I hope to meet some new faces today after reading everyone's posts! 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Dan's T-38 Solo Flight at ENJJPT

Last August (which feels like an eternity ago, to be honest), I blogged about Dan's solo flight in the T-6. He has now soloed in the T-38 and is well on his way to completely pilot training at ENJJPT (Euro-Nato Joint Jet Pilot Training) at Sheppard Air Force Base. He's such a stud, and I am SO proud of him. He is putting in a lot of hard work and long days, but it's all for the best for him and our family, and one day, when this is all over with, it will be worth it!

Unfortunately for his solo, no one was available to take Annabelle and me out to the flight line like we were able to for his T-6 solo. Everyone was busy flying at the same time that day, so it just didn't work out. But I made sure he snapped a photo afterward anyway!

The T-38 is a lot faster (and more fun, according to Dan) than the T-6. He has been having a blast flying it. Since his solo, he has also passed his first check ride! More to come, though!


Pilot training certainly isn't for the faint of heart. And I can definitely see why there are so few married student pilots and even fewer with children. Dan is gone ALL DAY five days a week. He gets to see Annabelle for about an hour a day ON GOOD DAYS. We're sacrificing so much time with him right now, and the single parenting gig isn't easy. BUT we try to make up for it on the weekends. Annie is SO excited when she gets to see him and play with him.

Drop night is quickly approaching, though, and that will bring an end to this crazy season... as least for a while. (B Course or whatever follow-on assignment he gets based on his assigned plane will be just as crazy, but we'll hopefully have a short break in between!)

Since many people have asked what drop night is, I'll give a quick run-down. Basically, all of the student pilots in one class (about 25) will receive their assignments (aka what plane they'll be flying for their Air Force careers, along with their first base) in a public setting on base on a Friday night. Drop nights happen every six weeks at Sheppard, and they're SO much fun. One at a time, the student pilots take turns standing up in front of everyone and learning their entire future right along with the hundred of people filling the room. It's exhilarating, nerve-racking, and crazy all at once. There's free beer involved and lots of screaming! It's a really fun tradition... but just know that my own husband is the one in the hot seat, I'm going to be one big ball of nerves. He has just under 11 weeks to go until it's his drop night! Only one more takes place before his. AAHHHH!


Monday, March 20, 2017

18 Month Update - Annabelle

I know, I know. I'm WAY behind again. Blogging just hasn't sounded enjoyable lately for whatever reason. But I know deep down that I want to document our lives (especially Annabelle updates!) so we can read back over them someday.

That's why I am sharing her 18 month update today completely out of the blue. I haven't posted in over a month, and then I show up just to talk about my child. Typical, right? Ha - sorry!

It has already been two weeks since Annabelle turned a whole year and a half old. How all of those months have passed by, I'm still not sure. Sometimes, the days really do seem long (especially right now while Dan is in pilot training

Annabelle has grown quite a bit since her last update at 15 months old - she is now 33 inches tall and weighs 22 pounds! She is tall and skinny, just like her mama used to be. Now, I'm just tall... and not so skinny. She now has 14 teeth (okay, actually 15, as another one has popped up since her actual half birthday), and she is as feisty as ever - and we LOVE it!


Since her last update in December, Annabelle has traveled to Kansas City and Joplin to celebrate Christmas, San Antonio for her dad's centrifuge training, and Dallas for another wedding (Nate and Margot). She went to the San Antonio Zoo (her 4th zoo!) and has exploded with words! Her vocabulary grows daily, and right now, she's up to about 30 words she uses pretty regularly (but not always on demand).

Annabelle still runs constantly - she is nonstop motion. She is still obsessed with all things duck and Daniel Tiger, and she is really starting to love owls as well. She can count to three, and she is wearing mostly 12 and 18 month clothing.

Our little Annie (what we call her most of the time) sleeps through the night from about 8PM until 8:30AM or so. She has started and completed a class at the public library about playing with a purpose, where we both met some new friends. She enjoys playing at the park, going down slides, and jumping on the trampolines at Urban Air. We're looking at getting her into a toddler tumbling class as soon as possible, but we're waiting for Dan's drop night so we can KIND OF know what to expect in the months to come. More about that soon...






It is such a privilege being Annabelle's mama. She is ornery and stubborn, but she has such a big heart as well. She loved fiercely, and she gives the best hugs and kisses. She is my little shadow, and I wouldn't have it any other way!

Next Annabelle update will be her 21 month update in June! How?! HOW?! My girl is growing up way too quickly.

Monday, February 13, 2017

A Little Update

Guys, did I promise to blog once a week LAST month? 

I did indeed. And I have failed.

I don't really have any excuses other than that life got in the way again, I haven't felt like writing (despite having a lot to write about), and just trying to keep a certain toddler constructively busy and not tearing down our house.

I do have some upcoming things to share soon, such as new recipes, reviews of a few trips we've taken, a 2017 goal update, an Annabelle update, a new shop announcement (eek!), and just some life lately posts. 

I've been super busy lately during Annabelle's nap time taking pictures of and listing her old clothes for sale. It's so sad when she outgrows pieces I've loved seeing her in. I am stashing away those really special pieces in the closet for now and will box them up when we move next, but it has felt really nice to sell a lot of her stuff. After all, we do need to keep buying her new, bigger clothes, so it's nice to recoup a bit of what we spent! 

We  also finally went through a ton of baby stuff and ended up donating to a local women's shelter so much of what we no longer need: three breast pumps (two electric and one manual), a metric ton of breast pads, milk storage bags, bottles, bottle parts, and more. It feels great to have that all out of the house since we no longer need it - hopefully it can benefit some other new moms and families! It is slightly bittersweet, though, since I spent so much time with those dang pumps! BUT it feels great to know we won't be moving those across the country again! 



It's hard to believe she was ever so tiny! I ended up keeping a few of the outfits shown for myself because she was just so adorable in them, and I'm far more attached to her newborn stuff than the rest! 

How have YOU all been lately? 

Monday, January 16, 2017

2016 Reading Round-Up

Yes, I realize we're more than half way into January now, and I also realize that I already missed my goal of blogging at least once a week by missing last week altogether... but that's because my dang MacBook is out of commission AGAIN. We're waiting on a new hard drive to arrive (thank goodness that was under warranty still!), so I've only had access to Dan's laptop during the work day since he needs it in the evenings to study.

Anyway...

I set a goal to read 16 books in 2016, and I met that goal (and exceeded it by a couple - yay!) I use Goodreads to organize the books I have read, am currently reading, and want to read. Are you on there? If so, we should be friends - find me here! :) And if you'd like to see my post about my favorite 15 books ever that I am always recommending to people, please check out this post - but I feel like I need to make an updated version soon!

What I Read in 2016


1. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr - If you enjoy WWII novels, this one is for you. It's about a blind girl living in France during WWII, and it alternates between her and the story of a German boy at the same time and how they're both just trying to make it through. It's great.

2. The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin - I read this one for book club. While it was a great story, I almost wish I hadn't read it because my perspective of, and thus my opinion of, Charles Lindbergh has forever been tainted. But I guess it's better to know certain things than to live in ignorance. It WAS a good book. The story was engaging, and I enjoyed learning about an American couple that I didn't know much about. 

3. Zlata's Diary by Zlata Filipovic - This should be a mandatory book in school. It's quick, and it is literally a diary, so it reads fast. And the topic is so, so important. Similar to Anne Frank's diary, Zlata's diary is also set during war-time, but instead it is during the Bosnian war of the 1990's. 

4. A Mother's Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy by Sue Klebold - I have always been fascinated with the Columbine shooting from 1999, so as soon as I saw Sue Klebold speak in an interview early last year and learned she had a book coming out, I was all over it. This book did not disappoint. It was interesting reading about the tragedy from one of the shooter's mother's perspective - it's difficult to not have empathy for her. 

5. Sacred Space by Corie Weathers - Military spouses, rejoice! This one is for you. Corie Weathers, a military spouse, had the unique opportunity to travel with Secretary of Defense Carter in 2015 after winning Military Spouse of the Year, and this book reflects her thoughts on how it is for the spouses waiting at home AND for the servicemembers who are deployed - and the dichotomy of the two. I was lucky enough to be on the launch team for this book and was able to read it and discuss it in an online group before it hit shelves. 

6. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - This one kind of bored me, I'm not going to lie. I read it because I feel like so many people have, and it's so often talked about. The subject matter was good, and I don't think it was the book. I think I was in a reading funk when I read this one, so I won't blame the book. 



7. Columbine by Dave Cullen - After reading Sue Klebold's book, I was browsing reviews online and came across this one and decided to read it as well. It's a very factual based book that follows the events chronologically, which I enjoyed. It was objective and written after years of research, and I appreciated being able to read about the tragedy from yet another viewpoint.

8. The Happiest Toddler on the Block by Harvey Karp, MD - Annabelle is a toddler now, so I read a couple parenting books... this is one of them. I'm not going to review a parenting book. 

9. What to Expect the Toddler Years by Heidi Murkoff - Annabelle is a toddler now, so I read a couple parenting books... this is one of them. I'm not going to review a parenting book. 

10. Shine by Jodi Picoult - This is a short story by Picoult that comes before her newest novel, Small Great Things. It was a quick read and got me VERY excited to read the full novel! 

11. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins - If you're looking for a fast-paced mystery, this is it! I enjoyed trying to figure out who the "bad guy" was all along, and there wasn't a slow spot in this book. 

12. Push by Sapphire - If you aren't comfortable with "bad" language, then sit this one out because there is a LOT of it, and some is far worse than anything I've ever read in a typical novel. That said, this book was eye-opening to me about the lives of some young women who live in places that aren't as well-off as what we picture in our heads. Physical, emotional, verbal abuse... neglect... sexual assault... these are all big themes in this book, but it's worth reading to see the triumph that takes place. 



13. Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult - This is by far the best book I read in 2016, and it will for sure be added to my favorite books of all time list when I get around to updating it. It's about a black nurse who is forced to be alone with a white baby after the extremely racist parents have made it clear she should never be around him... and of course something goes wrong. The book chronicles the trial and is told from several different perspectives. It's an eye-opener for sure. 

14. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah - Another WWII novel set in France, this one is also great. It tells the stories of two sisters who are very different and how each of them lives day to day throughout the war. I've heard it's being made into a movie, and if so, I'll happily go see it! 

15. I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai - This one had been on my to-read list forever. It's written by the girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban in Pakistan and lived through it and her family's journey (from way before the shooting took place) of trying to make sure girls in Pakistan could receive an education as well. Malala is a hero in many regards. 

16. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne - Okay, where do I even start? This is the worst book I read in 2016, and maybe it's just because I am very well-educated when it comes to the Holocaust and Auschwitz (which I visited in 2015, something I had wanted to do for YEARS), but there are so many factual errors, and it just makes me cringe. And don't even get me started on the ended. That said, it is a best-seller for a reason, so others definitely enjoy it. There's a movie as well, and I may watch it just to see if it's any better done than the book. Note: Auschwitz is never ACTUALLY mentioned in the book, but duh, we all know what the author is referring to here.

17. My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares - This is a quick read about two people who keep meeting up in their new lives after they both die, but only one of them can remember everything. It chronicles several different lives and is fascinating. My only complaint is that there was supposed to be a sequel, but this book is several years old now, and it never came about. 

18. Rena's Promise: A Story of Sisters in Auschwitz by Heather Dune Macadam - Another Holocaust book... are you sensing a trend? This one is a gem. I firmly believe everyone should read every Holocaust account they can because all of these stories are worthy of being read over and over and over. What Rena and her sister went through at Auschwitz (like everyone else) is despicable, and we need to know the truth so it doesn't happen again. 

Note: My husband challenged me to go a year without reading a WWII book, but how can I when The Zookeeper's Wife movie comes out this spring? I can't - I'll have to read it right before. 

... and that's a wrap!

Did you read any good books in 2016? 
What's next on your to-read list?