My Life In Pictures: April 16 – 30, 2016

Back in October, I started what I thought was the best idea EVER: To share my Instagram pictures a couple of times a month since I can’t seem to find time to write! I decided to call it My Life In Pictures. You can see all of my previous posts here. So here’s what I’ve been up to the last couple of weeks.

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I took the kids to see The Jungle Book! If you haven’t seen it, take the kids and go today! It was the best movie I’ve seen in a very long time.Ethan liked it so much he asked me if he could read The Jungle Book over the summer. I said of course we could! It will be fun to read it as a family.

And whether you’ve seen it or not, this video on how the movie was made is really amazing.

PicMonkey Collage

I was so proud of Ethan and Mia for getting year end awards (Lila got one earlier this year)! Ethan got the Principal’s Award for Excellent Academics and Mia got a Teacher’ Choice Award for her journal writing…being a writer and a lover of words, my bookworm heart exploded!


The days are finally longer and so the kids are spending a ton of time playing outside. Doing stuff like this. Try to tell me this is not an accident waiting to happen!

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And we finished up April making smores….one of our favorite things to do all year long!

I got a little behind so I’ll be posting the first part of May soon. Stay tuned!

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Three of My Top Pick Must Read Books

I was reading a post over at Megan & Wendy’s blog about which 3 books that you’d want to take with you to a deserted island. Megan shared the 3 books she’d take, and I thought it would be fun to do the same. Like Megan, I chose 3 books that I love and that I could read over and over. And also like Megan, I’ve reread each of these books several times. So without further adieu, I give you three of my top choices for must read books.

Top Pick Must Read Books

If you were sent to a deserted island and could only bring 3 books with you, which would you choose? I chose my top 3 must read books - I've read them multiple times and still haven't gotten everything I need to get out of them.

We honeymooned on this island in Belize — it’s only the size of 2 football fields!

Crimson Petal and the White

This book is nearly impossible to put down! It’s such a well told story, full of twists and turns. I love historical fiction, and this one takes place back in 1870s London, where Sugar, a nineteen-year-old prostitute in the brothel of the terrifying Mrs. Castaway, yearns for escape to a better life.

Some reviewers have said that the story doesn’t really go anywhere at all, and it really doesn’t. It’s a story about life — you get to peek in and watch the lives of a variety of odd and interesting characters. It’s a character-driven book, not plot driven. And if you like books that neatly wrap up the story at the end, you won’t find it here. Which left me wanting more and more!

It’s a big book (900 pages), and I lugged the book along with us to Fiji…this is back before Kindle and ebooks were a thing. I haven’t read it in quite awhile, and look forward to getting reacquainted with the characters.

Poisonwood Bible

What can I say about this one? If nothing else, it will make you think. And it might make you sad. But it will make you feel! It’s a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959.  It’s a suspenseful epic of one family’s tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa.

I think I’ve read this book more times than I’ve read any other book. Every time I read it I find something new to love about it.

A Prayer for Owen Meany

This is the story of two eleven-year-old boys—best friends— and while playing baseball, one of the boys hits a foul ball that kills the other boy’s mother. The boy who hits the ball doesn’t believe in accidents; Owen Meany believes he is God’s instrument. What happens to Owen after that 1953 foul ball is extraordinary.

While there are religious undertones in this book, that’s now why I like it. It’s about the humor and sorrow of life, faith, friendship and fate. I think that Owen Meany is probably the most memorable character from any book of any genre that I’ve read. There’s something about him and this story that will stay with you long after you’ve read it. The plot is complicated and the time jumping is a little confusing, but man! John Irving can tell an amazing story.

It’s hard to only pick three books that you would take with you to a deserted island, but I’ve read these so many times and I still don’t feel like I’ve gotten everything out of them that I’m supposed to. So that makes them the perfect books to take!

So what would your three must read books be that you’d take with you to a deserted island? I’m always looking for new ones to fall in love with. And if you’re on Goodreads, make sure to follow me so we can stay connected!

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Mommy of a Monster and Twins is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com and/or other affiliate sites.

Pregnant & Skinny

How much weight did you gain when you were pregnant? I was one of the lucky ones who didn’t gain much weight. About 18 pounds with Ethan and 30 pounds with the twins. It must be genetics because my mom said that she didn’t gain much weight and carried it all out front, so from the back you couldn’t even tell she was pregnant. But no matter if you gained 20 pounds like me or 80 pounds, people have a lot to say about it. And today, I’m over at Scary Mommy sharing 10 Things I Learned As A Skinny Pregnant Woman.

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My sister ready to pop anytime and I (in black) 4 weeks before I delivered the twins.

I’ve shared at Scary Mommy a couple of other times, too. I shared a yummy recipe for Olive Oil Cake (no, it doesn’t taste like olive oil!)

olive-oil-cake

I also wrote about being infertile and the jealousy I felt towards other pregnant women. And people had to say a lot about that! Some of what they had to say was not very nice…or constructive. Just cruel and insensitive. And I mean to all woman dealing with infertility, not just me. I write these types of posts to help women who are experiencing it, not to piss other people off.

I love sharing at Scary Mommy, even though some of the comments can get ugly. But that’s okay, I enjoy reading all of the different opinions and don’t take the judgement personally…especially because people can judge people more easily when they don’t know them and can hide behind a computer.

But even though it’s already gotten a couple of snarky comments, this one about being skinny and pregnant was a fun one to write. While all of it’s true, I know a lot of it will apply to women who gained a ton of weight too because I’m sure they heard a lot of the same comments. Either way, I’m sure that other skinny moms-to-be will be able to relate!

TWEET TWEET TWEET

4:59 AM:  Just outside our open bedroom window, a bird awakens and decides to greet this glorious new morning with a never ending TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET.

5:03 AM:  His neighbor joins him, and the two happily welcome the new day with the never ending song of TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET.

5:09 AM:  I get up and shut the window.

5:26 AM:  They stop! Though now that I’ve been listening to it for almost a half an hour, I think that I can still hear the never ending TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET…even though I have a pillow stuffed over my head.

5:34 AM:  They start back up.

5:45 AM:  Screw it, I’m awake. Might as well get up.

Because that damn bird wouldn’t shut up and I couldn’t go back to sleep, I decided to do some research on who the hell makes that kind of never ending racket for so damn long. Turns out, it might be a common warbler. This guy.

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Cute, isn’t he? I’ll tell you when he’s not cute. At 5 o’clock in the morning. Who knew something so little could make so much damn noise!

I’m not sure if this is him or not, but I have seen these birds around. Want to hear what the never ending TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET sounds like? I found this description of a common warbler and it sounded pretty accurate. When I played the little clip of it tweeting away, I was pretty sure I found my guy.

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Now this is not the first time I’ve had a bird violate my sleep. Back in 2012, we had a midnight warbler who kept me awake for nights on end. I wanted to kill that bird for its loud and rapid “Ah-Ahh Ah-Ahh Ah-Ahh” over and over again. I went back to read the post about that damn bird and although they have different songs, it sounds like the same bird again! I know it’s not the exact same bird, but the same kind of bird.

So much for sleeping with the windows open. I hope I don’t hear him and his buddy again tonight.

Update: I wrote this last Wednesday. I’ve heard those birds three more times since then.

The Freedom Challenge: Help End Modern Day Slavery

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of the Freedom Challenge.

Here’s a very sad but true fact: Modern day slavery exists. Every 10 minutes, an adolescent girl dies as a result of violence. Every 30 seconds, someone is abducted into slavery. That means, by the time you are done reading this, there will be 4-5 more slaves in the world.

There are 24,000,000 women and children across the world who have been sold into modern day slavery. The goal of the Freedom Challenge is to end it. Learn more about how you can help.

Did you know that there are 30,000,000 slaves worldwide? The International Trade Organization says that 80% of them are women.

Thirty.Million.Slaves. And 24,000,000 of them are women and children.

Let me give you an idea of how many people that is: Imagine that every woman in America between the ages of 18-24 was enslaved. Now add the entire population of New Zealand to that number. Next add in the entire population of Jamaica…and the entire population of Fiji. That’s how many
women are enslaved worldwide.

24,000,000 women and children have been forced into labor or indentured servitude, have been trafficked and sold, or that have been forced into marriage as a child bride. 12,000,000 children are under the age of 12. 2,000,000 children alone are exploited in the commercial sex industry.

Many of these women are sold to another human for less than one hundred dollars. Imagine one of your children being taken from you and sold for $100.

There are 24,000,000 women and children across the world who have been sold into modern day slavery. The goal of the Freedom Challenge is to end it. Learn more about how you can help.

That makes me want to do something about this very real, worldwide problem. And that’s where the Freedom Challenge comes in.

What Is The Freedom Challenge?

Freedom Challenge is made of women all over the world who participate in physical challenges. These physical challenges test our limits while raising funds and awareness to free oppressed and enslaved women and children all around the world, and set women and children on the pathway to freedom. They use a four-pronged approach to freeing women and children around the world. Their goal is to Prevent. Rescue. Restore. Develop. You can lean more about it here.

There are 24,000,000 women and children across the world who have been sold into modern day slavery. The goal of the Freedom Challenge is to end it. Learn more about how you can help.

Their mission is to free 1 million slaves and has already raised over three million dollars for the cause to date. The goal for 2016 is to free 1,000 women and children.

There are 24,000,000 women and children across the world who have been sold into modern day slavery. The goal of the Freedom Challenge is to end it. Learn more about how you can help.

So how can you help? Together we can make a difference because when we do things together, we can accomplish more than when we are alone. There are so many ways to show your support!

You can join a local event in your area or even get together a group of friends and create your own Freedom Challenge doing whatever you like to do – you can run, walk, swim, hike, climb…the challenges are endless.

There are 24,000,000 women and children across the world who have been sold into modern day slavery. The goal of the Freedom Challenge is to end it. Learn more about how you can help.

Physical challenges not your thing? You can still show your support. You can donate. You can sponsor someone else’s challenge. Every single penny helps get us to the goal, but if you are unable to do give monetarily, you can show your support by spreading the word about the Freedom Challenge.

Join me in spreading the word about the Freedom Challenge

Simply helping spread the word about the Freedom Challenge is a huge support. Knowledge is power, and if you are deeply passionate about a cause, introducing others to it is a great way to drive awareness to the cause.

You Can:

Sign up to stay in touch with Freedom Challenge and they’ll share the work and impact of The Freedom Challenge with you. Encourage others to do the same.

Read stories of women and children who were freed from slavery by the Freedom Challenge and share these heartbreaking but courageous, inspiring stories with others.

Follow Freedom Challenge on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Freedom Challenge is women fighting for women.

It’s Our challenge for their Freedom.

There are 24,000,000 women and children across the world who have been sold into modern day slavery. The goal of the Freedom Challenge is to end it. Learn more about how you can help.

Disclaimer: I received compensation in exchange for writing this post. Although this post is sponsored, all opinions are my own.