4th of July Ride

Happy early 4th of July y’all!!

I don’t know about you, but our summer is flying by.  Between my son’s different sports, and our jobs, it is nonstop on the go right now.  I hope everyone is having a fun and active summer too!

This summer has also allowed me the chance to get back into the weight room and lift weights seriously again.  I have my wonderful friend Claudine to thank for my reemergence in the weight room.  Without her as a workout buddy, my butt would continue to be lazy with the weights.  We had a great first month of working out together with some amazing gains!  Looking forward to what July brings with our workouts.

Today I taught an awesome and fun 4th of July ride in my spin class.  I tried to keep the song titles “American/Independence/Something just related to the 4th” themed.  My son told me I was really stretching it by adding Pitbull’s Celebrate song.  I went with the whole, “We are CELEBRATING the independence of our country,” reasoning.  He then rolled his eyes at me.  But hey!  You just gotta have a fast paced Pitbull song in your ride.

Click here to go to my new website for this great 4th of July ride!!

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Anyway, we had a blast sweating and working during class today!  Since it was a special ride today, that also meant we had to have glow-in-the-dark necklaces for the ride.  We then followed the ride up with a blueberry custard cake and vanilla ice cream…Totally and completely healthy/nutritious calories too.  Sadly you can’t see everyone in the pic above, but I promise you they are smiling!

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I also wore my totally “American” fitness instructor’s tank top.  It’s our Duty to kick your Booty!  My awesome friend Jalene put this tank top together for me.

Wishing everyone an awesome and safe 4th this year!!

 

Five Whole Years

A picture my son took from the Uhaul when we entered North Dakota for the first time.

A picture my son took from the Uhaul when we entered North Dakota for the first time.

Five years ago today, I woke up for the first time in North Dakota.  I remember waking up and wanting to get the house unpacked…Well, the coffee, mugs, and coffee maker unpacked.  Once the coffee was in me, I dove into setting up our “temporary” house in North Dakota.

I broke-down each box and stowed them away in our basement, because I knew I would be returning to our home in Florida within a few years.

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It is five years later, and we are now permanently in North Dakota.  We decided to sell our Florida home last year, and it finally sold last September.  I’m so sad to see that house go.  That was the home we brought our son home from the hospital to, where our son made his first and life long friends, where we got our first family dog, Lady…Where I woke up and there was NEVER snow on the ground.  Our Florida home was the best first home our family could have ever asked for, and I’m beyond grateful for the time we had there.

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We have quite the good life up here in good old ND.  Our whole family has made so many amazing, kind, and caring friends here…except for the dogs.  The cat and squirrel population seem to not want to make friends with them.  My husband and son get to fish and hunt almost year round, so we are saving some money on the grocery bill, and when you have a growing son that is a BIG deal!  This year my little man got his very first turkey too!

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Since it is our five year anniversary living in North Dakota, Mother Nature (in all her infinite stupidity) decided to celebrate with snow this morning…Bless her cruel little heart.  So, here’s to more adventurous years in North Dakota!

Read It!

Happy Monday Everyone!!

As promised from my last post, today’s blog post is my latest book recommendations.  So, pull up your Amazon wish list, Goodreads app, Book Buddies app, or just a paper and pencil and get ready to get these books added to your lists!!  Oh…Grab yourself some coffee too!

Alright…I’ll do this in batches.  When I first got all the books together that I wanted to recommend (only the ones I had read in the past 6 months) I discovered that my list was way too long for a single blog post, so I’ll have more blog posts with book recommendations coming your way each month with more and more great reads.

For this post I’m gonna stick with 7 books, and hopefully they will tide you over till next month.  I also want to point out that I love many different types of genres, so you will see chick lit, historical fiction, teen lit, biographies, etc!

Books

This first stack of books contains a few authors I had never read before, and yes Nora Roberts is one of them.  Now don’t start judging me by recommending a romance author.

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The Dark Witch by Nora Roberts came highly recommended to me by my friend, Claudine, and she is a book worm just like me with great taste.  I got Claudine hooked on the Discovery of Witches Trilogy, and she swore to me that I would love Nora Roberts latest instalments.  When she told me I had to read the Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy (Dark Witch is the first book in the trilogy) I rolled my eyes, and I’m pretty sure I laughed at her.  I too can be a book snob, and I put Nora Roberts into that category of lame/pathetic/cheesy/drivel.  Sadly, I should know better than to categorize an author I’ve never even read.  I absolutely loved the Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy, and read them all in 4 days!  They definitely were NOT drivel.  I fell in love with each character and their spunk from the beginning.

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I also want to point out that the gorgeous setting of this trilogy takes place at and actual resort in Ireland, Ashford Castle.  I’m already planning a bucket list vacation to Ashford, since I absolutely fell in love with this castle throughout the O’Dwyer Trilogy.  So, if you are looking for a fast paced, adventure filled, exciting read, and yes it is filled with magic and a bit of romance this is a book/trilogy you HAVE to read!

With indifferent parents, Iona Sheehan grew up craving devotion and acceptance. From her maternal grandmother, she learned where to find both: a land of lush forests, dazzling lakes, and centuries-old legends.

Ireland…

County Mayo, to be exact. Where her ancestors’ blood and magic have flowed through generations—and where her destiny awaits.

Iona arrives in Ireland with nothing but her Nan’s directions, an unfailingly optimistic attitude, and an innate talent with horses. Not far from the luxurious castle where she is spending a week, she finds her cousins, Branna and Connor O’Dwyer. And since family is family, they invite her into their home and their lives.

When Iona lands a job at the local stables, she meets the owner, Boyle McGrath. Cowboy, pirate, wild tribal horsemen, he’s three of her biggest fantasy weaknesses all in one big, bold package.

Iona realizes that here she can make a home for herself—and live her life as she wants, even if that means falling head over heels for Boyle. But nothing is as it seems. An ancient evil has wound its way around Iona’s family tree and must be defeated. Family and friends will fight with each other and for each other to keep the promise of hope—and love—alive…

On to the next book I devoured in one day…

Leaving Time

Jodi Picoult first grabbed my attention with her historical fiction novel, The Storyteller (If you haven’t read it add it to the list too).  Picoult’s latest novel, Leaving Time, is another moving tale dealing with loss, mystery, and finding help and friends where you least expect them.  This is honestly a book unlike anything I’ve ever read before, and I’m sure you will fall into this tale and never want to come out of it.  You may also find yourself championing the cause of elephants and their futures once you have finished this novel.

For more than a decade, Jenna Metcalf has never stopped thinking about her mother, Alice, who mysteriously disappeared in the wake of a tragic accident. Refusing to believe she was abandoned, Jenna searches for her mother regularly online and pores over the pages of Alice’s old journals. A scientist who studied grief among elephants, Alice wrote mostly of her research among the animals she loved, yet Jenna hopes the entries will provide a clue to her mother’s whereabouts.
 
Desperate to find the truth, Jenna enlists two unlikely allies in her quest: Serenity Jones, a psychic who rose to fame finding missing persons, only to later doubt her gifts, and Virgil Stanhope, the jaded private detective who’d originally investigated Alice’s case along with the strange, possibly linked death of one of her colleagues. As the three work together to uncover what happened to Alice, they realize that in asking hard questions, they’ll have to face even harder answers.
 
As Jenna’s memories dovetail with the events in her mother’s journals, the story races to a mesmerizing finish. A deeply moving, gripping, and intelligent page-turner, Leaving Time is Jodi Picoult at the height of her powers.

Prisoner of Night and Fog

The Prisoner of Night and Fog was a book our book club read awhile back.  I started this book one night when I climbed into bed, and I didn’t storp reading it till I was done somewhere around 3am.  I was dragging butt the next day, but it was totally worth it. I know you will love this story!   Here is a brief description…

A gripping historical thriller set in 1930s Munich, Prisoner of Night and Fog is the evocative story of an ordinary girl faced with an extraordinary choice in Hitler’s Germany. Fans of Code Name Verity will love this novel full of romance, danger, and intrigue!

Gretchen Müller grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her uncle Dolf—who has kept her family cherished and protected from that side of society ever since her father sacrificed his life for Dolf’s years ago. Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler. And Gretchen follows his every command.

When she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen, who claims that her father was actually murdered by an unknown comrade, Gretchen doesn’t know what to believe. She soon discovers that beyond her sheltered view lies a world full of shadowy secrets and disturbing violence.

As Gretchen’s investigations lead her to question the motives and loyalties of her dearest friends and her closest family, she must determine her own allegiances—even if her choices could get her and Daniel killed.

big little lies

Liane Moriarty is a favorite author of mine, so obviously I’ve read all her books.  Big Little Lies is Moriarty’s latest and greatest story to date.  It’s a tale of moms, private schools, money, snobbery and …murder!

Sometimes it’s the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal. . . .
A murder… . . . a tragic accident… . . . or just parents behaving badly?  
What’s indisputable is that someone is dead.  

But who did what?
 Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:

Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.

New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.

Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.

one plus one

One Plus One is the first JoJo Moyes novel I have read.  I kept seeing her books in the books store on the best sellers rack, and my friends have been telling me to read her books nonstop.  Well, a few months ago I finally broke down and bought one.

Right when I read first chapter, I knew I would be hooked. You have your unique but somewhat regular family. Jess is a single mother with two kids, her ex husband left 2 years ago and she’s trying to meet ends. Her daughter Tanzie is brilliant! She gets offered a scholarship into private school but there is still a charge that needs to be paid off. When Jess tries to take her to Olympiad in hopes that the winnings could cover the tuition, Jess ends up going on a roadtrip with Ed, an attractive stranger who steals her heart.

Now that I’m trying to write this review, I’m already missing Jess and her children. I thought it was genius to have the book written from everyone’s point of views, because it definitely made me connect with everyone more. I loved everyone. Jess, Ed, NORMAN!, Nicky, Tanzie.  Their conversations were funny, thoughtful, and Jess’s optimism wasn’t over the top. Typically I don’t like books are that too sweet but Jess has some wittiness to her, and Ed definitely had his flaws that made me love him even more.

Suppose your life sucks. A lot. Your husband has done a vanishing act, your teenage stepson is being bullied, and your math whiz daughter has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you can’t afford to pay for. That’s Jess’s life in a nutshell—until an unexpected knight in shining armor offers to rescue them. Only Jess’s knight turns out to be Geeky Ed, the obnoxious tech millionaire whose vacation home she happens to clean. But Ed has big problems of his own, and driving the dysfunctional family to the Math Olympiad feels like his first unselfish act in ages . . . maybe ever.
 
One Plus One is Jojo Moyes at her astounding best. You’ll laugh, you’ll weep, and when you flip the last page, you’ll want to start all over again.

the girl who came home

Inspired by true events, the New York Times bestselling novel The Girl Who Came Home is the poignant story of a group of Irish emigrants aboard RMS Titanic—a seamless blend of fact and fiction that explores the tragedy’s impact and its lasting repercussions on survivors and their descendants.

Ireland, 1912. Fourteen members of a small village set sail on RMS Titanic, hoping to find a better life in America. For seventeen-year-old Maggie Murphy, the journey is bittersweet. Though her future lies in an unknown new place, her heart remains in Ireland with Séamus, the sweetheart she left behind. When disaster strikes, Maggie is one of the lucky few passengers in steerage who survives. Waking up alone in a New York hospital, she vows never to speak of the terror and panic of that terrible night ever again.

Chicago, 1982. Adrift after the death of her father, Grace Butler struggles to decide what comes next. When her Great Nana Maggie shares the painful secret she harbored for almost a lifetime about the Titanic, the revelation gives Grace new direction—and leads her and Maggie to unexpected reunions with those they thought lost long ago.

The rosie project

The Rosie Project is one of those laugh out loud stories that draw you in from the first chapter.

The art of love is never a science: Meet Don Tillman, a brilliant yet socially inept professor of genetics, who’s decided it’s time he found a wife. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which Don approaches all things, he designs the Wife Project to find his perfect partner: a sixteen-page, scientifically valid survey to filter out the drinkers, the smokers, the late arrivers.

Rosie Jarman possesses all these qualities. Don easily disqualifies her as a candidate for The Wife Project (even if she is “quite intelligent for a barmaid”). But Don is intrigued by Rosie’s own quest to identify her biological father. When an unlikely relationship develops as they collaborate on The Father Project, Don is forced to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie―and the realization that, despite your best scientific efforts, you don’t find love, it finds you.

Arrestingly endearing and entirely unconventional, Graeme Simsion’s distinctive debut “navigates the choppy waters of adult relationships, both romantic and platonic, with a fresh take (USA TODAY). “Filled with humor and plenty of heart, The Rosie Project is a delightful reminder that all of us, no matter how we’re wired, just want to fit in” (Chicago Tribune).

I hope y’all find these recommendations as fun, engaging, and sleep depriving as I did!  Happy Reading!!

 

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Reconstructing Amelia

Happy FRIDAY!!  WhooHoo Friday Baby!!  Anyone else this excited for the weekend?  It is 9am and I already have our back screen door open, and the fresh warm air coming in.

I’m telling ya…These warm temps we are having are great, and they have put me in the blog sharing/writing mode too!  Or, I’m totally stalling on cleaning the basement, vacuuming the steps (something I consider torture), and mopping our upstairs.  I’ll let you decide on that one…

I wanted to share a book recommendation with ya today and I just couldn’t wait till next week to share it!

These past few months have been great reading months for me!  Each book has had me hooked from the beginning all the way through to the end.  I’ll have a post on Monday for ya with all of my latest and favorite reads.

The book I just finished, Reconstructing Amelia, was just amazing!  It is one of those books that I found at the bottom of my to-read stacks, and I’m pretty sure I’ve owned it for over a year now.  I know that is sad, but my to-read stacks are getting out of control, and I’m very proud of my book buy addiction.

Reconstructing Amelia was a tragic story that pertains to the world our children live in today.  It also deals with the issues parents face when communicating (or not communicating) with their children, how far a parent should trust their teenager, and where a parent should intrude on their child’s privacy.  All are issues that I know parents with teenagers face.  Especially the issue of following your child’s actions on the internet like a hawk.  I know I’ll follow all my child’s internet actions until the day he moves out (he isn’t allowed to even get on Facebook until he is 16…or maybe 20…I’m not sure yet).

In Reconstructing Amelia, the stunning debut novel from Kimberly McCreight, Kate’s in the middle of the biggest meeting of her career when she gets the telephone call from Grace Hall, her daughter’s exclusive private school in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Amelia has been suspended, effective immediately, and Kate must come get her daughter—now. But Kate’s stress over leaving work quickly turns to panic when she arrives at the school and finds it surrounded by police officers, fire trucks, and an ambulance. By then it’s already too late for Amelia. And for Kate.

An academic overachiever despondent over getting caught cheating has jumped to her death. At least that’s the story Grace Hall tells Kate. And clouded as she is by her guilt and grief, it is the one she forces herself to believe. Until she gets an anonymous text: She didn’t jump.

Reconstructing Amelia is about secret first loves, old friendships, and an all-girls club steeped in tradition. But, most of all, it’s the story of how far a mother will go to vindicate the memory of a daughter whose life she couldn’t save.

 

Once I finished Reconstructing Amelia, I immediately went on Amazon to see if the author, Kimberly McCreight, had any other books publish.  Guess what?  McCreight just published a new novel, Where They Found Her, on Tuesday, April 15th!  What kind of incredible luck do I have!?!  Usually I’m pacing and waiting for an authors next book to come out.  Of course, I just ordered it, and I cannot wait to read it!

There is more…They are making Reconstructing Amelia into a movie staring Nichole Kidman!!  I’m actually going to go see this book turned movie too.  I usually avoid books that have been turned into movies.  Nine times out of ten, I walk out of the theater thoroughly disappointed or pissed off at what they did to the story.  However, with this story I’m really intrigued to see how the movie comes out.

 

Thursday Butt Bustin’ Time!

Good morning y’all!!  We are set to have another great day here in ND…No, I’m not being sarcastic..yet (it may snow next week).  But, for now, we are still loving our warm temps and clear blue skies.

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I had some free time this morning, so I thought I would share a treadmill workout I put together for a friend.  AKA, I’m totally avoiding folding two loads of laundry, and giving Hank and Tilly a bath.  These are not my favorite chores to do, so I’m stalling.  Just like any full grown woman would do.  Tilly heard me say the “bath” word and went into hiding under my desk.  Therefore, I decided to take my cue from her, sit down with her at my desk, and type up a post.

This totally butt bustin’ 30 minute walking workout takes you on quite a few hills.  And, boy will these hills make your butt feel awesome!  The best part is how this workout will fly by.  You will be so busy changing your hills, that you won’t feel like you have been on the dreadmill…I mean treadmill for forever.

Happy Butt Bustin’!!


30 min Butt Bustin Hills

Quick Lady Update

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I wanted to thank everyone for their emails, comments, prayers, and positive thoughts for Lady and her surgery.  It really meant so much to us!  Lady is currently doing well, and recovering from her surgery.  Each day she is getting more of her “pep” back, because each day Lady is getting back to being bossier and bossier.

 

Lady’s Surgery

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My sweet furbutt Lady is going in for surgery tomorrow.  She is having a massive tumor removed from her back leg.

We noticed a small growth on her back leg a few weeks ago.  She is our senior girl at 8 years young, and has started to grow a few lumps and bumps with her advancing years.  The vets told us not to worry about them unless they continue to grow at a rapid rate.  Well, her new growth continued to grow at a very very rapid rate.  In less than a week it was the size of a ping pong ball, so I immediately got her a vet appointment.  Just in the amount of time I called the vet and her actual appointment the growth grew a little bit bigger than a golf ball.

At the vets they decided to have the tumor removed as soon as possible, and will biopsy it after the removal.

Lady’s tumor has continued to grow, and ruptured last night, so of course I’m beyond nervous and ready for the removal and the results. The vet said not to worry about the tumor rupturing since her surgery is tomorrow.  I would share a picture of her tumor, but it is something out of a horror movie, and I don’t want to make anyone sick.

Lady at Gym

Right now I’m keeping Lady with me at all times, so I can keep an eye on her and her tumor.  So, she is the mascot at the gym today!  I’ve got her doggie bed and water bowl all set up.  I’m pretty sure Lady thinks that the people using the treadmills have lost their minds, since she can’t keep her eyes off of them.  You can just see her thinking, “Why run and not go anywhere?”, or I’m totally wrong and she is wanting to try the treadmill out herself.

Please keep my girl in your thoughts tomorrow when Lady goes in for her surgery.  We are quite nervous and praying the biopsy comes back with no cancer.  This girl has been the leader of our home for so many years, and we want her in charge for more to come.