July 31, 2020

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Hello from the inside....

Let's talk quarantine!

We're rounding out our first week of covid-quarantine and it's been patchy, at best. And, by patchy I do mean I have questioned my parenting skills on several occasions, have dreamed of sitting by the ocean again, and wondered if 2020 just really needs a hug.

I keep comparing this "covid quarantine" to the beginning of the pandemic when schools closed and everyone stayed home as much as possible because looking back, I feel like that was easier. For one, we weren't infected with covid. So, there's always that! But, I think what I miss most is the comfort of the new "normal". Things got weird and hard back in March and then we settled into a new "normal" and now even that small bit of comfort has been shaken back up for us again.

Then again, we can never truly judge something when in the thick of it. Hindsight is aptly named, yeah?

So, quarantine is going. M no longer has any symptoms of covid except for the lack of taste and smell. I'm showing symptoms that could either be a sinuses or covid. But, I'm presuming positive since I have been exposed and doing the quarantine thing for the required time.

Here's a few thoughts on quarantine...

- Delivery and contactless drive-up is where it's at. Being able to get some much-needed supplies, dinner delivered, and a new set of Legos for the kids is like a small dose of magic in our days.

- I'm tired. Not feeling 100% while solo-parenting is exhausting. Because M has tested positive, we are making him stay quarantined in our bedroom away from the rest of us even though he'd much rather be out here in the thick of things with us.

- Quarantine is lonely. Even for us introverts who crave space and quiet. Sometimes we all need a walk down a gorgeous street and the comfort of our normal routine.

- I'm incredibly grateful for our cozy house and our backyard. I can't imagine doing quarantine anywhere else.

- Puzzles and card games and The Great British Baking Show is a good chunk of our entertainment and that makes us sound pretty old and boring, doesn't it?

- It's okay to not do ALL the things right now. Though, I did do some major decluttering in our guest room last week and it feels so freeing to have that checked off my to-do list which balances out the major lack of anything that I've done this week.

- Looking back at old photos and memories is both joy-bringing and saddening!?

- Be kind. To yourself. To your family. To your mental state. To your delivery drivers.

- It's not possible to watch Hamilton too many times. It's also not possible to have too many dance parties in the kitchen to the soundtrack either.

- Read a good book. Books fill your soul with hope and magic and they take you places. Like tiny islands with colorful cottages and crashing waves and salty air.

- This too shall pass.

P.S. The kids are showing no symptoms! Mental health is a real thing and we're struggling with that. It's a lot for their little minds to deal with and comprehend. But, it's okay and we're okay and this too shall pass.

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July 27, 2020

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So, we found out today that our guy has covid. We believe it's being traced back to his work and while the kids and I have no symptoms, we plan to self-quarantine in the house (separated from M, of course) and just assume we're positive. He's okay and we're okay and we're just hanging in there.

Up until now, we've been cautious. We wear masks and hand sanitize, we don't really socialize outside of a super tiny circle. It's a weird feeling, feeling guilty and terrible that you could have spread it to someone else, but knowing that, in this covid-era situation, you did everything you could with the knowledge you had on hand.

That being said, I'm pulling double duty and meals are about to get real easy again (and all groceries are getting delivered!).

I think I'll enlist the kids help in making the pizza dough. We're going to have to get creative again with how we spend our days at home! 

Send me all the ideas, friends. And stay healthy out there, xo.

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The Sunday Edition, 20

July 26, 2020

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Hi and hello from the tail end of a very long Sunday! Well, from the tail end of a pretty long week, too. Do you start your weeks on Sundays or Mondays? My girl insists that Sundays are the start of the new week but for me, it's all about the Mondays!

I did a pretty deep pick-up of the house today, sweeping armfuls of things up and putting them back where they belonged. I did a major declutter of the house this week, too. Got the guest room cleaned out and made a couple trips to drop stuff off at local thrift stores. While there's still dust bunnies tucked in the corners and piles of laundry to catch up on, the house feels a little lighter and my brain feels a little lighter too. 

And, here's a few things around the web I'm loving this week...

Making my heart and soul a little lighter - folklore by taylor swift. Her surprise drop (and this caption on Instagram) is magic. 

I finished this book last night and it's so good. It made me regret not fully soaking up her time as first lady when I had the chance and it made me fall in love with the person she is. Also, inside peeks at the life of Flotus was SO SO interesting. 

I had some bananas last week that were way past their time! I tried this cinnamon banana muffin recipe and it was a hit with the only 2 out of the 4 of us that like bananas. 

Picked up a pair of these linen pants while shopping at Old Navy with my girl this weekend. They are pretty different from my norm, but I actually really like them! They are super soft and perfect for hanging around the house or running errands. Though, it seems like I ran all the errands today and I'm feeling like I want to switch back to more online pick-ups like we did in the beginning of quarantine. It's getting people-y out there!

Kind of excited about these soon-to-be-released bedsheets. Our guest bedroom needs a tiny pick me up and I'm loving the simple look of these.

NYC food, my favorite kind of food.

Loving this post on family rituals! So simple, but so wholesome. 

A Camp Walden t-shirt. All the nostalgia!

Alright friends. I wish you a week that's a little lighter, a little brighter, and speckled with pockets of joy. 
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July 24, 2020

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This handsome guy just finished his 3rd season of soccer! I can remember writing this post about his first practice last year. We were keeping our fingers crossed that he'd like it and maybe burn off some extra energy. 

It's safe to say he's found his passion! His first season of soccer really instilled a love for the game in him and this most recent season just really reconfirmed it. This season was hard. He moved up to the next age level yet his team was made up of 4-5 year olds and every game they played were against 6-7 year olds. Kids that were bigger and had a little more experience. 

His team played their hearts out every game. They took balls to the face, they took the losses right alongside the wins. They supported each other and played so well together.

They finished the season strong last night and most importantly, they had fun this season! It was a weird season - the spring season was pushed back into the summer making it extra hot and covid adds an extra layer of weirdness. But still, it was one of his best seasons yet!

I think his smile says it all!

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July 23, 2020

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Puzzles have been our go-to for quarantine boredom! Our dining room table has been covered in a few ongoing puzzles for weeks now and I love sitting down to put together a few pieces when I have spare time here and there. Though, I'd spend the entire day doing puzzles if I could! And, grabbing an easy, colorful 100-piece puzzle is a great way to get the kids to sit still for at least 20 minutes! Bonus points if they glow in the dark - we have a few of those and they are always a hit. 

 one | two | three | four | five | six 

Eeboo and Galison are our top favorite brands for color and quality. I'm currently doing the women's march puzzle and the colors + patterns are on point. I also love when puzzles match the season and that camping equipment puzzle is giving me all the summer vibes! 

Are you a puzzle fan? What are your top quarantine boredom busters? I'd love to hear them!
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July 22, 2020

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I've got a mid-week meal plan for you today! We had some plans change earlier this week and I found I needed to plan out some meals I wasn't expecting to plan this week, so we're going simple - burgers, pizza, nachos. It sounds like a lot of bar food, ha! 

We're soaking up this week for what it is though! Simple eats and gathering around the table together. The good, the bad, the stress over school decisions, the figuring out of fall plans. We're reaching that weird summertime limbo. School is pushed back for a few more weeks and we'll most likely do virtual regardless but we still need to make plans for fall activities and school supplies and all the stuff!

It's Nico's last week of soccer, too. He's bummed but we're so proud of how well he played and we're happy with how the season turned out. So, here's to his last game tonight and pizza takeout. The makings of a really good Wednesday night.
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36 hours in jacksonville

July 20, 2020

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A few weeks ago, we took a tiny vacation. I'm going to preface this by saying I realize how much of a privilege it is to be able to take a vacation. We, of course, worried about spreading germs and catching germs. But, I'm also going to say that sometimes you have to get out. We typically go on a weekend trip to the beach every summer. It's become a little tradition for us and a vacation where we aren't visiting anyone. It's just for the four of us to regroup.

This year, we needed it. Not only because of quarantine and covid, but because I had was going through my third miscarriage that week. Being in the house was painful and we were all overly emotional and stressed.

36 hours in Jacksonville, Florida was exactly what we needed. We booked a last minute hotel and went with almost zero plans. 

We left early on a Friday morning and stopped at Top Golf to kill some time while we waited on our room to be ready. They took precautions and we all felt safe there. Masks were worn inside the main areas, plastic sheets were hung between each golf bay, surfaces were wiped, servers and employees wore masks everywhere. We waited outside while our bay was being prepped and we left right after. It wasn't crowded and at no point did we feel at risk. And best of all, the kids had fun and we all really enjoyed ourselves.

The kids were ready for the pool the minute we checked in to our hotel! The pool was empty and the kids got to play and splash around for an hour or so with the pool to themselves. It was a social distancing win, for sure. And, it set the tone for the rest of the night. We were relaxed!

We grabbed dinner at a local place on the water. My only requirements were kid-friendly food, a waterfront, and outdoor dining. This place checked off all the boxes. We were able to eat outside by the dock with only one other couple out there. And after, I did a quick google search and found the greatest old school soft-serve ice cream shop. It was so good that we went back the next day before heading back home!

The next morning, we grabbed donuts + coffee at the cutest mini donut shop. Then, we hit the beach. I tried finding a "locals" beach where I figured the tourist and crowd level would be lower. I failed and we ended up at a pretty crowded spot. We were only planning on sitting in the sand while the kids played for a few minutes anyways, so we ended up walking to the least crowded spot and let the kids put their feet in the water and collect a few shells. 

After that, we had no other plans, so we took the kids to the Lego store and they picked out new sets, then we grabbed takeout from a local Dominican place that we found a few years ago and love. We were able to eat outside with noone else around. We grabbed more icecream afterwards - seriously, the Dreamette was a literal dream.

Then, home sweet home. It was short and sweet and left us relaxed and a little more at ease. I won't lie though, it left us wanting even more vacation time too! What do you prefer - short, sweet trips or week-long trips where you can spread out your time and fun?

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July 19, 2020

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Happy Sunday! Summer feels so weird this year. It's like summer is almost over but didn't it just start? Yet I feel we've been doing "summer" forever now and also we've done n.o.t.h.i.n.g. See what I mean, weird!? But, they just announced that the start date of school is being pushed back to September 8th, so I'm determined to soak up the rest of summer (and the extra couple of weeks we're getting!).

I always thought, as a kid who got out of school in May and started back in August, that going back to school in September was so dreamy. It's probably because September is closer to the official start of fall, but kid-me thought all the other kids were so lucky.

So, I'm taking the path of joy admist this chaos. Finding pockets of joy and bits of happiness every day! Embracing the changes and the ebbs and flows that I know are coming around the corner. We're going to dive into the people and things we love and let them carry us through the days.

And, here's a few things around the web I'm loving this week...

With restaurants closed (or re-closing, like here!) and takeout options limited, hibachi at home sounds so good!

Virtual schooling looks like a serious and likely option for us this fall so I'm calling in reinforcements - fun school supplies! These cute pens are guaranteed to bring a little cheer to a virtual school day. Or, this banana pen. Who doesn't want to do math problems with that guy?

Adding these alphabet printables to our morning schedule for Nico when school starts!

Our new favorite card game and a few on our to-try list (1 and 2).

How to keep a kiddie pool clean! The DIY I have been looking for all summer!

A DIY nature mobile.

Rice krispy treats.

Transcribing anti-slavery manuscripts for the Boston Library.

What's your comfort movie? Mine are When Harry met Sally and You've Got Mail.

How's your weekend going? Find those pockets of joy, friends.

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Tried + True Favorites

July 17, 2020

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Is anyone else super inspired by what other people love? I'm a compulsive review reader and I'm always down for a "favorite things" type blog post! I'm also a creature of habit and I tend to use and wear the same things over and over, changing and adapting as seasons come and go or as life flows.

But, here's a few of my tried + true favorites lately!

The perfect summer dress from Target. I picked this up at my local Target last month and I can't count how many times I've worn it since. It's lightweight and slightly textured and just seriously the best dress on a summer day. It's been in and out of stock but I got lucky and snagged the mint version in store today!

Knotted headbands for the win! I have this Target version but the J.Crew style is on my wish list.

These fabric masks from Old Navy are my new favorite. Like it or not, masks are required here and more stores are taking a national stand as well. These are soft, breathable, and come in super cute patterns. The adult size fits me perfect while the child size fits Nico (he's 5) perfectly. The only downside is that Lia is between both sizes and can't get a good fit in either. She uses these instead or homemade ones my sister-in-laws sent us.

Reliving my childhood and watching all of the new episodes of The Babysitter's Club on netflix. It's so good and I love the modern take on the topics and situations the girls find themselves in.

Dreamy, matte, ceramic bowls. Anthropologie has restyled their classic latte bowls and created magic again.

Finally, razors for women that are just as good as the ones for men. I tried the Flamingo brand a few months ago and I really like them. They are comparable to the Harry's razors I stole from my husband but prettier!

Glass jars! They hold everything in our house from markers to laundry detergent to sugar and flour. Pretty storage is everything!

A perfectly sized crossbody. I love my giant bag but everything gets lost in it and now more than ever, I need something that has everything within reach. It holds exactly what I need and nothing more.

Michelle Obama. I've spent weeks reading this off and on. It reads like fiction and gets great reviews (literally, everyone I take it someone mentions how great they thought it was). I can't decide if I want to finish it all in one sitting or stretch it out so it doesn't have to end.
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July 16, 2020

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Recipes don't make their way here very often since I don't really love to cook and I'm not very adventurous in the kitchen. But every now and then I find my way around a hack or a favorite meal and I like to share it!

These pork taquitos are the perfect summer dish. The homemade pico keeps them light and fresh and the leftover pork that I use for the filling means they come together quickly!

Whenever I am making pork in the crockpot, I plan on having these taquitos the next night. I found this pulled pork recipe on Pinterest and made a few tweaks to it. It's in our recipe rotation now!

Pulled pork:

2 pork tenderloins - I buy the plain ones that come two in a pack.
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp smoked paprika
2 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp pepper
1/2 cup beef broth
1/3 apple cider vinegar

  • Place the pork in your crockpot and rub the spices onto both sides. Add in the broth and vinegar and cook on low for 6+ hours. 
  • Shred when it's done! I serve half that night with bbq sauce on Hawaiian bread sliders and a quick slaw (toss together coleslaw mix, parsley, and lime juice!).

Pork taquitos:

Warm up the leftover pork.
Warm up corn tortillas (we store ours in the fridge and warming them helps stop them from crumbling/tearing).
Deep fry them until brown and crispy.
Top with lettuce, mozzarella + Monterey jack cheese, and pico de gallo.

It helps to secure the seam of the taquito with a toothpick so that they don't open up while frying.

Pico de gallo:

3 roma tomatoes
1/2 of a jalapeƱo (more if you like it spicy!)
1/4 cup-ish of cilantro
1/2 of a white onion
the juice from 1 lime
1 tsp-ish of salt

  • Chop all of your ingredients and toss in a bowl with the salt and lime juice. I don't measure so these are pretty close to what I'd use. 
  • Taste test and adjust as needed!

You could use shredded chicken as well, we just always have way too much pork leftover and I like shortcuts in the kitchen. Also, the pico is great for snacking or adding to tacos/tostadas, grilled meats, or scrambled eggs!


PS. My kids are picky eaters. L has made huge steps in that area while Nico is still really picky but neither of them will eat these! L finds them "too crunchy" and Nico just won't try them. But, they will eat the pork! So, I just deconstruct them for the kids and serve them pork, cheese, tortilla chips, & fruit or sometimes I'll give them a cheese quesadilla on the side. 
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July 15, 2020

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Quarantine holidays are super weird, but honestly, I don't hate them! We usually spend most holidays at home together as a four-some, so it wasn't really all that different. Fireworks were super missed, but apparently our neighbors thought they had that under control, ha!

We spent some time at the pool and had a major water balloon fight in the backyard. The kids covered the drive-way with Pop-its and we finished the night with s'mores.

How are you guys handling holidays and celebrations right now?

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July 13, 2020

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I'm back with this week's meal plan! If I'm being honest, I'm burned out by meal plans. And grocery shopping. And cooking and washing dishes and doing it all over again the next day and the next day and the next day. But, when I sat down on Saturday to make this week's plan, I found a little bit of inspiration and grabbed on. I was going for summery vibes and fresh ingredients!

Also, we had a little mishap where we thought we broke our refrigerator after filling it up with all the groceries. We may have panicked and I blame it all on Covid-19, because doesn't everything feel like it's the fault of covid!? After some late night googling, shoving what we could into the freezer, and vacuuming the coils, it's working again. We were pretty excited to not spend Sunday appliance shopping. I mean, I am all for new appliances but maybe when we're better prepared. Late Saturday night isn't my ideal time for that, ya know!?

Here's what's on the menu this week! We've got 3 soccer games this week so I'm relying on the crockpot and meals that can be turned into something different the next night!

 Enjoy those working refrigerators, friends! 

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July 10, 2020

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I spent the morning write yet another appeal letter to our school district asking them to please, with a cherry on top, allow our children to attend the same school. 

Ok, I didn't add the cherry on top part but I did write a letter that I am really hoping pulls at the heartstrings of our superintendent. Our district is a little different - we are allowed to apply to attend schools that are in our district but not our neighborhood zone. We choiced L into her school the first year it opened, but long story short, because of overcapacity, they keep denying our appeal to allow Nico in the same school.

I haven't quit yet. I'm fighting every chance I get. But, that means I'm not sleeping. I have a headache this morning. I'm still struggling with heartbreak and anxiety and frustration and quarantine madness and all of it. 

I just needed to write. I needed a space to let it all out for a bit. I have been thinking lately of getting a journal and writing out all the emotions that I'm battling. But, for today, I have this blog at my fingertips. 

I try to be very honest and real on social media. Our life isn't a picnic, though it is glorious and magic-filled and amazing, and I like to share the good alongside the bad. But, for whatever reason, I haven't been as real here on the blog. Maybe it's the fact that instagram is the new blog? It's so much easier to hop on there, post a photo, type up a caption, and share it. 

Anyways, the last few months? They have been filled with as many jabs and pot holes as they have with magic moments and laughs. It's a hard and weird balance.

In the past 6 months, I have dealt with two miscarriages. Two. Heartbreak and frustration and anger have reigned my days these past few months. I have been poked and prodded and cried in ultrasound rooms and tried to find the words to explain to our kids what was happening. I have seen pregnancy announcements and felt a punch in my gut. I have closed the door to our guest room because I couldn't handle looking at what was supposed to be a nursery. It's been a little over two weeks since my last miscarriage. I'm not okay. I will be okay. But, I know it's healthy to awknowledge that I am not totally okay right now.

I struggle every day. I struggle to get up, to keep up with the house, I struggle to make summer magic for the kids. But, I also find joy in our days. I find joy amongst the heartbreak. I find joy despite the anger.

Quarantines are starting up again, mask mandates are happening, places are re-closing. This is the weirdest summer ever. I feel like I'm just trying to hang on. Trying to hang on to the idea that our kids can attend school together. Trying to hang on to a "normal" summer. Trying to hang on to a pregnancy. 

It's a lot of hanging on and it's hard. Today I'll be hanging on while trying to tackle cleaning the house and dealing the physical and mental mess that it entails. It's been far too long and I know the mess isn't helping my mental state at all.

So, here's to hanging on and finding joy admist it all. Finding the blue skies behind the clouds. We got this. Let's be joy collectors. What's bringing you joy today, friends?
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What I read in June

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I started June out strong with A Better Life. I devoured the book and then regretted not having read it slowly with a highlighter and post-its handy. There was so much that resonated with me. It's definitely a book I'll be reading again!

Exciting Times was not exciting. I picked it up and put it down so many times. I slowly trudged through it. I usually finish most books that I start - call it FOMO or blind hope that the book will get better. This one didn't. It was odd and slow moving. 

Two Truths and A Lie was the perfect beach read! I have another one by the same author lined up for July. 

But, Five Years was my favorite. It wasn't what I was expecting yet it was SO GOOD. A love story but not the one you'd expect to read. 

The Mothers was another top contender. It had heavier topics than everything else I read this month, making it the perfect balance for me. I'm waiting on a library copy of her newest book, Vanishing Half. I'm hoping it comes in soon - I've heard great things!

Real Life was another slow read. Great content, but it just didn't flow for me. And, Someone Else's Secret was good. But, I'll admit, I had to google it to remember what it was about. Beach-y type read with a little mystery/heavier topics.

With 10 books to go before I reach my goal, I think I'll finish my goal and then focus on a picking stack of books per month to read. I'll set a new goal next year! But, having this goal has really pushed me to focus on reading again and it couldn't have come at a better time.
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July 8, 2020

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A bright spot in our days lately is a trip to the library! Our library recently reopened (with extra safety measures in place) and while we can't hang around and spend hours playing or going to story time, we can still fill our bag with book choices for the week and it's bringing so much joy to our home right now.

I thought I'd start sharing some of our libary finds. The kids and I each pick a handful and we typically fill up our library bag every time we go.

Nico tends to grab whatever cover interests him. I'll always add in some books that I want the kids to read too!

Atlas of Dinosaur Adventures drew his attention pretty quickly. We have the Atlas of Animal Adventures at home and he made the connection and insisted we get this one too.

Saturday is the sweetest story of a young girl and her mom and a typical Saturday that doesn't work out they way they planned but the ending is heartwarming.

Lia tends to hunts down whatever is interesting her that week or she browses for the next book in whatever series she is currently reading. Right now, it's The Babysitters Club!

Meg, Beth, Jo, and Amy takes on a fun, modern twist to Little Women. We recently read the classic version together and then obsessed over the movie versions too.

We went yesterday to renew our cards, grab our holds, and stock up on some new books! We're, like a good chunk of the world, obsessed with Hamilton right now and once Lia saw I had a few books about Hamilton and Eliza, she immediately went off in search of her own options.

Who was Alexander Hamilton is the only one she found in our library, but we did put a hold on Eliza: The Story of Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton.

She's also really into the "who was" series and I love hearing her rattle off the facts she's picked up from the books.

And, I usually have mine pre-picked for me on the holds shelf. It makes our trips a little more peaceful when I have already looked up what I want to read and had them put on hold. I'm currently reading Dear Edward and Becoming but I plan on digging into these next.

I also track what I read on goodreads and share what we're reading here too.

What good books are you reading lately, friends? In this weird and unsettling COVID time, I'm extra thankful for books taking us away for a while.
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