Thursday, November 15, 2018

Quick Lit - November

I hit a serious reading slump in the middle of October where it was really hard to find time to work reading into my day (we were also traveling some of that).  Then I forced myself to get my 10 books done for October and read A LOT the last couple days of the month, finishing 5 books in 5 days, and then all of a sudden I was reading again.  10 hours a week is my aim (OF COURSE I track how much time I spend reading) and that gets me at least 10 finished books a month (although at this point in the year I am seriously contemplating how many books I want to finish for the year and how I always like the number to end in a 5, or at least a 0 because I have weird number quirks so now I am plotting the next 7ish weeks pretty seriously) and reading about 10 hours a week feels pretty comfortable and relaxing to me (most weeks).

I'm linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy and am active on Goodreads here.

Here's what I've read in the past month-ish!

Winter in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand
Elin Hilderbrand is one of the authors who I've read every book, add every new one to my TBR, and put a library hold on it months before it is released.  I've enjoyed some more than others, own a handful (bought after reading them from the library) and look forward to her new ones.  This was the first to solely take place off Nantucket, on St. John's Island in the Caribbean.  I partially read this in Vegas where it was 80° so the weather was similar to the book but not HOT and it made for a nice, lovely read.  I appreciate that she is now doing some series because I like seeing characters develop and how their lives change over the course of a couple books. It wasn't life changing but it was a fun and enjoyable read.  3.75 stars
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
Oh Anne.  I read the whole series 25ish years ago but not since, although I've seen the excellent 80s tv movie multiple times in between.  The copy I read this time was one gifted to me by my parents for Christmas when I was 7.  I put rereading this off mainly because I did NOT like reading Pride & Prejudice 10ish years ago and found it pretty hard to get through.  But I finally picked this up and enjoyed it so, so much.  Anne is just such a delightful character and Avonlea seems like such a lovely, wonderful place filled with mostly lovely people.  I look forward to reading the rest of the series again, eventually.  4.25 Stars

Carnegie's Maid by Marie Benedict
I knew very little about Andrew Carnegie before reading this book, other than I had heard his name associated with libraries (and I think his foundation funded some PBS programing when I was a kid?), I also haven't read many books that take place during the Civil War, even though that wasn't a main part of this story.  So it was an interesting (fictional) story of a time period I don't read much about and a person I knew basically nothing about.  3.25 Stars

The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden by Karina Yan Glaser
I love these Vanderbeeker kids.  This is the second in a middle-grade series but I just read them for myself.  Like the first book, the 5 siblings team up on a project, working together for what they feel is the greater good, changing some adult perspectives along the way.  They also live in Harlem in New York City and I really enjoy that as a location.   I would probably try to read these out loud with Luke in a few years, I can only hope my boys will have the kind of bond these kids seem to. 3.75 Stars

Bella Figura: How to Live, Love, and Eat the Italian Way by Kamin Mohammadi
I've read quite a few Scandinavia set culture-ish books in the last couple years so branching out to Italy felt like a good way to learn more about another culture.  It's a memoir about her time living in a small village in Italy to escape something (a bad breakup? A job ending? I forget.) in London (again, I forget).  It made me very interested to go to Italy and see if I like vegetables more there and if olive oil is really as magical as it seems to be.  But then, Italy was already on my bucket list.  It was fine but clearly not super memorable.  3.25 Stars

A Life Less Throwaway: The Lost Art of Buying for Life by Tara Button
I really appreciated this one, about living in a way to have less impact on the environment, by making purchasing choices to throw less away and encourage companies to make their items last longer.  I kept spewing facts from the book to Matt (I'm sure he super appreciated) and it left me more energized to do what I can to throw less away.  I think every one should read this because you need a lot of people speaking out to really change things.  4 Stars

The Late, Lamented Molly Marx by Sally Koslow
This is one I've reread many, many times and I so enjoy it.  Molly has died (as the title implies) and she's watching over her loved ones from heaven (or some version of it) as her people on Earth cope with her death.  There is also a bit of a mystery around how she died, if someone is at fault, and there is a detective trying to put all the pieces together.  I may mostly like this for sentimental reasons, because I've read it so many times, but I also have liked it from my first read, I don't know what it is.  It is set in New York, there is that, and it has made me cry more than once.  3.75 Stars

My Squirrel Days by Ellie Kemper
I knew who Ellie was from The Office and the first season of Kimmy Schmidt.  I enjoy a humor-ish celebrity memoir and always am up for behind the scenes on The Office.  I could relate to a lot of her childhood stories, seeing as she grew up about the same time as I did, also in the Midwest, also Catholic.  She drug her siblings into doing shows for their family (guilty) and liked to play outside (same).  I laughed out loud more than once and found it a really fun, nice, enjoyable read.  3.75 Stars

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
This is historical fiction, set in Seattle during World War II, when Japanese-American citizens were put in internment camps after Pearl Harbor.  This follows the story of a young Chinese-American boy who befriends a young Japanese-American girl right before she is forced to move away.  It's a sweet story told in flash backs as the boy, now grown, a widower, with a grown son, is taken back to that period in time.  I've read a lot of World War II books but this was a different look at it, something that happened in America that I had no idea of.  3.75 Stars

Simply Tuesday: Small-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World by Emily P. Freeman
I like the idea of this but sometimes found her writing to be too flower-y for me to make much sense of it.  That pretty much sums it up.  3.25 Stars 

The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams
Another reread but one I've only read once before and long ago enough that I forgot most of the details.  I read all of Beatriz Williams' books too and knew I really enjoyed these earlier books of hers.  Vivian is living in New York City in the 60s when she receives a suitcase belonging to a Violet Grant, who she discovers is her long-lost aunt that Vivian never knew existed and that nobody in her family had heard from in decades.  The story flashes between the two times periods, as Vivian tries to discover who Violet was and what happened to her. It reminded me why I enjoyed this book series so much. 4 Stars

Cozy Minimalist Home: More Style, Less Stuff by Myquillyn Smith
I love a good home book especially one that tells me to get rid of things while also helping me make my house more cozy and "finished".  Myquillyn is somewhat well known as The Nester and does a lot of home things (I don't follow her anywhere) and in this book she walks, step-by-step how to "quiet" a room, and then gradually put it back together to have a space less cluttered by more "finished" without sacrificing style.  I finished this book but didn't immediately return to the library because I want to try this with at least one room in our house (I'm thinking my office) first.  For all I've read about minimalism this was refreshing because not all things are bad and you can have a cozy, welcoming home without going overboard on the stuff.  Loved this one.  4 Stars

What have YOU been reading lately?

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Little Fixes

In the past few months, and especially over the summer, I have been constantly on the lookout for little daily annoyances and ways I could fix them.  None of these are big things, most were free, but a few minutes (or even seconds) that could ease a little stress and make life just a tiny bit easier. 

Once I started looking for them it was amazing at how fast I found them and found easy ways to fix them.  I'm going to aim to share these occasionally, in hopes of inspiring others to find and fix their little annoyances and maybe make your day just a tiny bit easier.  It's amazing what a difference those can have!

1) Problem: Drinking less water at the lake
We make many trips to the lake over the summer and usually take along a 5 gallon water jug that I borrow from my parents every summer.  Supposedly the tap water is fine at the lake, just tastes different from the city water we are used to, but I've never drank it and we're long in the habit of just taking along our water.  The summer is usually hot but I found that most days at the lake I was drinking less than my goal of 82 ounces.  I determined the problem was that at home I refill my water bottle using a Brita filter pitcher we keep in the fridge so the water is always cool.  At the lake I refill my water bottle with room temp water from the water jug.

The super simple solution: Add ice to my water bottle.  This sounds like the easiest fix ever (and it is) but I could not believe how long it took me to figure out.  I'd add a couple ice cubes every time I was refilling my water bottle, my water stayed cold and all of a sudden I was drinking at least my daily 82 ounces.  It was that easy.

Note: that picture has nothing to do with drinking water at the lake BUT it is at the lake and it turns out I have ZERO pictures of the 5 gallon water jug OR my water bottle at the lake so...that will have to do.  Also, I miss those sunglasses (they broke in New York. =(  )

2) Problem: Matt and I have matching toothbrush cases and I was always grabbing the wrong one.
We've had these toothbrush cases since our honeymoon I believe and 75% of the time I was grabbing his instead of mine.  It was 3 seconds of frustration every time I went to brush my teeth away from home. 

Solution: I took some nail polish, painted a ring on the outside of mine and now I always know which one is mine and always grab the right one.  This was free and took about 20 seconds + drying time. 

3)  Problem: Hunting through spice cupboard for taco seasoning spices
I've been making my own taco seasoning (here!) for about 6 years and have to refill my jar a couple times a year.   We don't have a lot of spices but every time I went to make it I had to go through them all to find the handful I needed.

Solution: I put all the taco seasoning spices together on one shelf so when it's time to make more I can just grab the 5 spices (plus the cayenne that doesn't fit but I know that's the one that is separate) and can make my seasoning.  It saves about 30 seconds and a little bit of frustration every time!

4) Problem: Matt's car cup holders always having trash in them
Every time we go to the dentist we get little bags with our "freebies" (toothbrush, paste, floss) in them.  I've been using one of these as my car trash bag forever (that I do change out a couple times a year) and Matt had one in his car too.  But the trash in his car never seemed to make the trash can.  This really bothered me because we mostly drive his car when we are together (since it gets double the gas mileage of my Jeep) and I always want to put my water bottle in a cup holder but they generally have trash in them.  (And by trash I mostly mean candy wrappers.)

Solution: I found an $8 car trash can on Amazon and it fits in a cup holder on the driver door.  Now we (he) don't have to unfold a plastic bag to throw items away in his car and trash (candy wrappers) actually make the trash instead of filling up the cup holders where I want to put my water bottle.  Luke also finds the car trash can pretty amusing. 

5) Problem: Having library books due on a variety of days
Our usual library day is Friday.  We've gone to our local branch (super close to our house) on almost every Friday  for the last 12 years.  I might miss 1-2 Fridays a year when we are in town but don't go to the library.  The problem is, I have SO MANY picture books I want to read that I usually go to the library at least one other time a week to pick up Luke's library holds, so I can have 2 sets of holds to pick up each week.  PLUS we go to the main branch once a month on top of our usually weekly visit.  So while most of our books are due on Fridays, there are usually a couple due on the occasional Tuesday or Wednesday.

Solution: On Fridays I renew everything due in the coming week, before next Friday.  That way I don't miss a random Tuesday due date from one of my bonus trips.  Most picture books we read and return before they are due but some stick around and renewals (and occasional late fees) on odd days are hard to keep track of.  On Fridays I check the app for what is due, either round up to return or renew them, and all of a sudden we have next to no late fees. 

Have you been making little fixes?  Do you have ideas for little fixes you could be making?  Tell me so I can find more things to fix and feel a tiny bit happier!

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click on a product link, I’ll receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you.  Thank you for helping support this blog!

Thursday, November 8, 2018

A Day in the Life #9 (Luke 5½, Sam 8 months)

Life has changed A LOT since I did one of these last fall (here) and even since I did one 6 months ago.  We're on a school schedule which makes a big difference in how our days go!  Other than school runs, we were home all day which seems so rare but I really enjoy it when it does happen.  And both boys were getting sick (2 days later, when I am writing this, Luke is actually home sick from school) which made for a rough end of the night and rough nights.  It's never good when all 4 of us are awake at 3am!  But otherwise, the day was fairly typical for a (mostly) day at home.

Monday, November 5th, 2018
6:10am - My alarm starts.  Matt is already at work to "warm-up" machines before their first treatments (he does this once or twice a week). 
6:23am - I actually get up after hitting snooze a few times.  Change into workout clothes, make bed, take meds, download new podcasts.
6:30am - Quick workout, I have been really bad about these lately, it's rare I do a full one!
6:45am - Shower and get around
7:02am - Luke woke up on his own (thank you time change) and is on the stairs when I open the bathroom door.  He talks to me while I do my make-up.
7:10am - We get Sam up, I talk Luke through getting dressed, get Sam his bottle in his high chair.
7:15am - Luke and I sit to eat breakfast (cereal pretty much always).

7:28am - Luke brushes his teeth in the bathroom while I run around the house opening blinds while I brush mine.  Pack up Sam, get coats on, put Luke's lunch in his backpack, all head out the door.  Do the school morning run and I return books to the library and mail a card on my way back home.
7:55am - Back home, I change into my slippers, Sam plays on the floor for a bit while I put away his laundry.  I hold Sam to get him to finish his bottle.
8:30am - Sam and I go upstairs so he can crawl around while I dust baseboards and door frames.  Sam gets into a lot of Luke's stuff but that's what happens with a little brother!  Haha.  Sam goes down for a nap.  I clean the bathroom, refill toilet paper and hand soap, make more window cleaner, take care of apples that had been dehydrating overnight, spot clean windows, water plants, group text with my sisters and Mom about Thanksgiving food.

9:45am - On computer to clean-up e-mails from the last few days (I rarely turn on my computer over the weekend), printing PDFs to my desktop for any orders placed so later I can enter them in my Money/budget tracking software.  I paint the nails on my left hand, read a few blog posts, make an Amazon order for Christmas presents, go through my upcoming Grove order, enter my time from the week before from Toggl into a spreadsheet.

10:30am - Work from home on my work laptop and eat a snack (one of these).

11:00am - Sam is awake, get him up, cuddle, change his diaper, feed him a bottle while checking Instagram for the first time today.

11:45am - Clean out Luke's various "treasure" (junk) boxes and consolidate them to one.  Clean out tub of Halloween decorations and extra costumes.  Sam is playing with toys and crawling around on the floor.
12:25pm - I eat lunch (this), Sam has finger foods.  I wash the dehydrator (the WORST part of dehydrating apples)
12:55pm - Sam is down for a nap.  I read my devotional, check Facebook, read a couple blog posts, sort Sam's 8 month pictures I took over the weekend, paint my right hand nails, and work on bills.

2:15pm - Get Sam, load up the stroller and walk to pick-up Luke from school.  It's actually faster to walk than it is to drive but with winter coming we won't be doing that much longer.  Sam has a bottle on the way.  We pick-up Luke and my niece and take a slightly longer way home to look at pretty fall colors.  We unpack Luke's school stuff and go through his papers from the day, Sam goes back down for a nap since he barely slept before pick-up.

3:15pm - Talk to Matt on the phone who is at Target checking out Halloween clearance deals.  (We later determine he should not do this unsupervised.)  Return a call about volunteering at church, make a snack for the two school kids, go through the mail.
3:50pm - Matt is home and we go through the costumes he bought.  They were 90% off and we got the boys set for the next couple years (will that stop us from looking at clearance costumes again next year? No.)
4:25pm - My sister is here to pick-up her daughter, I talk to her a bit and they leave.
4:35pm - Sam is napping, Matt and Luke are working on cleaning up the garage, I work on bills.

5:25pm - I make supper (this).  While it cooks I do Luke's homework with him and Sam is awake and eating snacks.
6:10pm - I read some picture books to Luke while supper continues to cook.
6:25pm - We all eat, Sam enjoys some chicken with us, clean-up from supper.
7:00pm - I supervise Luke's bath while Matt feeds Sam his last bottles, changes him, and puts him to bed.  Get Luke out, dressed, and supervise teeth brushing.

8:00pm - Family prayers then Matt takes Luke up to tuck him into bed.
8:15pm - I finish up bills and work on filling out reimbursement paperwork for Matt's part of Vegas.  Take a break from that to work on our Christmas card. 
9:15pm - Matt scans in receipts before submitting them to work, I mend some pants of Luke's, pack Luke's lunch, make Sam's morning bottle, and give the downstairs a quick clutter pick-up.  Pick out my clothes for the next day and layout my workout clothes for the morning.
10:05pm - I am upstairs, both boys are still awake.  Luke has a horrible cough that gets worse at night and doesn't make sleeping easy for anyone.  Sam is on the verge of getting it and having trouble staying asleep (also not helped by Luke coughing a lot in their shared room).  It is 10:45pm before the boys are both asleep in their beds.  I read briefly and then it's lights off.  A very late night.

I didn't do so well with the picture taking for this post but that's just how life was going this day!  I love looking back and reading these, especially for when Luke was about the age Sam is now, seeing how much our lives have changed, routines shifted, and priorities tweaked!  I highly recommend the exercise even if you don't want to share it with the internet (but if you do, let me know because I definitely will read that).

Day in the Life 1 - November 2013 (Luke 7½ months)
Day in the Life 2 - June 2014 (Luke 14 months)
Day in the Life 3 - November 2014 (Luke 20 months)
Day in the Life 4 - January 2016 (Luke 2 ¾)
Day in the Life 5 - July 2016 (Luke 3 ¼)
Day in the Life 6 - January 2017 (Luke 3¾)
Day in the Life 7 - October 2017 (Luke 4½)
Day in the Life 8 - April 2018 (Luke 5, Sam 2 months)

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Thanksgiving Picture Books

As I sit here writing this post it is November.  November 2017.  It will be scheduled 11 months in advance which is a new record for me!  Here's the thing about big bloggers.  They plan ahead.  Like setting up their Christmas tree in October to get pictures for early November.  But I really like (trying) to live the seasons as they happen and, as much as I love having the Christmas tree, could not put it up in October.

So, here I am, planning super ahead so I don't have to think about Thanksgiving until a few weeks before it happens, rather than tracking down books in mid-October and writing this post.  Of course, it also really helps that we got a stack of Thanksgiving related books from the library and have read them all recently so they are fresh in my mind!

Thanksgiving doesn't have nearly as much written about it as Christmas but there's still plenty of gems.  We learned a lot reading these books (or re-learned in my case) and it was fun to share the history of the holiday with Luke!

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click on a product link, I’ll receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you.  Thanks for helping support this blog!

Arthur's Thanksgiving by Marc Brown
Luke really got into Arthur after turning 4 and so any Arthur books are a win with him.  Arthur is the director for the school Thanksgiving play but can't find anyone to play the turkey!  He tries to appeal to each of his friends, his parents, his little sister...nobody will do it.  So, even though he thought the benefit of being the director meant that he DEFINITELY wouldn't have to be the turkey, he takes matters into his own hands.  With surprising results.

Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving by Laurie Halse Anderson
I love books like this that tell the stories of real people but in a very kid friendly way!  I've learned a surprising amount from them! (See a list of 5 favorites here!).  This one is about an incredible woman who was born in 1788.  She was a school teacher and worked at a women's magazine.  At the time Thanksgiving had been a holiday, of sorts, that followed when the harvest was complete.  But that didn't happen at the same time every year and not the whole country celebrated it.  She didn't want to see it ignored so she wrote letters.  To multiple US Presidents.  Trying to get them to declare the 4th Thursdays in November as a nationwide holiday.  And in the midst of the Civil War, President Lincoln finally said yes.   It was fascinating and educational!  Oh and she also wrote "Mary Had a Little Lamb" about one of her students.  So saving Thanksgiving isn't even her only claim to fame.

Balloons over Broadway by Melissa Sweet
I love reading this book to Luke every year before we watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.  (I'm also a sucker for working New York City into our day.)  This is the story of how the Thanksgiving Day Parade came to have the massive balloons in them, when the crowds were too big for everyone to see the parade floats that weren't much taller than the crowd.  The balloons first appeared in 1928 and have been there every year since, besides two years during World War II when there wasn't extra rubber and helium.

The First Thanksgiving Day by Laura Krauss Melmed
The story of the first Thanksgiving, told through counting, and to the close eye, a bit of a search.  There's pilgrims getting food ready and Indians getting their food ready, then all coming together.  Luke and I looked at this together and I don't think we found nearly all the items and animals hidden in the pictures!

Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson
Do animals celebrate Thanksgiving?  Apparently they do.  (But probably not turkeys.)  Bear is alone and bored and in his cave when he decides to have a feast with his friends.  Except he doesn't have any food!  Until they all start stopping by with extras and they all learn the value of sharing and pitching in.

Sharing the Bread by Pat Zietlow Miller
Going back in history a little but not all the way back to the first Thanksgiving.  This is just to the 19th century and showing how they prepared for Thanksgiving, which doesn't look a whole lot different from what we do now!  They eat many of the same foods, gather with family, and are thankful for what they have.  Nice way to show kids that we're all a little different and a little the same.

The Turkey Train by Steve Metzger
Maybe the turkeys don't want to be eaten, just take a vacation to Maine, aboard the turkey train!  A nice rhyming book that really has nothing to do with Thanksgivin
g other than it features turkeys. 

One is a Feast for a Mouse: A Thanksgiving Tale by Judy Cox
The Thanksgiving Feast is over and the Mouse that lives in the clock is hungry.  So he sneaks out for just a tiny bite.  Just ONE little thing.  Which turns into another, and another, and another until he has a pile of food that is bigger than him!  Then it all comes falling down and he realizes how little he does need, what makes a feast for him. 

The Berenstain Bears and the Prize Pumpkin by Stan and Jan Berenstain

A nice book to bridge the weeks between Halloween and Thanksgiving.  Farmer Ben always wins the prize for the largest pumpkin.  Always.  But this year Papa and the cubs want that first place for themselves.  So they work on growing their pumpkin.  And growing and growing.  Then they take it to the fair and maybe they win, maybe they don't, but what matters most is that the pie will be delicious either way.

The Ugly Pumpkin by Dave Horowitz
A twist on The Ugly Duckling, this pumpkin has waited all October for somebody to take him home and carve him but nobody seems to want the "ugly" pumpkin.  Then, as Thanksgiving nears, he finds his home, his people.  Another good book to bridge Halloween and Thanksgiving!

What else should we add to our pile?

Friday, November 2, 2018

Looking Back at October

October was a month!  I was pulling pictures for this post and it blew my mind a little that it was just the beginning of this month when it was still warm enough to run right after school drop-off and now it's about 40° at that same time!  Shorts weather feels so long ago!

This month brought real fall, a trip to Vegas, Luke's first field trips, his first school sick day, hiking, lake closing, a baby who can pull himself to a stand (WHAT?!?!?  Didn't we JUST bring you home??), and Halloween.  On that last one I am making my kids put their costumes back on after school (or making Luke, Sam has no choice in what he wears) so I can try to get a picture of them together because that just didn't happen last night.  I say it every year, but besides seeing all the kids dressed up and getting free candy, the BEST part of Halloween is that the REAL holiday season starts the next day.  It's almost Thanksgiving!

1) I may go a little overboard on getting picture and board books for the boys.  I've now started using the husband's 5 library holds to reserve picture books because, even with multiple library trips a week, I just couldn't make headway in my ever growing list with just using Luke's card.
2) Unpacking the dishwasher without being asked.  I was so proud.
3) Running puts Sam to sleep!
4) One last zoo trip with cousins before the zoo closes for the winter!
6) We have a mobile baby.  Legos got moved QUICK.
7) In person this was pretty blue but photographed purple.  Why do I only get blue ones in October?
8) More fall color!
9) Hiking in the park!
10) Walking home from school?
11) Going along on Luke's first field trip - a nice 34° morning in a pumpkin patch, 8 hours before we flew to Vegas where it was 80° during the day!
12) Fall walk around the neighborhood on a perfect fall day.
13) I take a ridiculous amount of pictures of fall foliage.
14) Frosty beautiful morning at my parents'!
15) On my last run of the year!  I ran through this park on multiple 90°+ days and this morning (without the stroller) it felt like 37°!  I honestly missed the 90°s.
16) His school costume for Halloween.  Bless those teachers for putting up with costumed, candy-wired children.

Looking back:
1 year ago: Miramar Beach, Florida

2 years ago: Dirt + Little Boys
3 years ago: DIY: Coconut Oil Face Scrub (still use this daily!)
4 years ago: My Current Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie (still my go-to!)

5 years ago: Grandma
6 years ago: Embrace the Conflict
7 years ago: Miami!
8 years ago: NYC!

Books finished: 11, 5 of those in the last week of the month, I was making up for a lot of reading time lost earlier in the month!

Miles ran: 20.26 and I think I'm done for the year.  It's cold! 

Currently watching: We started Splitting Up Together together and watched (I rewatched) the first season and have started season 2.  The past few days we've been watching Halloween episodes from this list.  I don't know what we are watching next!
Most read post this month: Quick Lit and then {11} Christmas Things to Think About NOW, now that it's officially the holiday season (to me), it's really time (for me) to get all these done!

Highlights of the month were definitely Vegas and fall! Now November brings the holidays.  YAY!!!!!