The Kracken has been Released

The thing I have been dreading the most since my son learned how to walk and climb furniture at 8 months old finally happened this week. My son learned how to climb out of his crib and now he is a free range pony. We managed to make it to 19 months before having to deal with this issue and for that I am most thankful. But my husband and I were still not ready for this development. Is any parent really ready for that matter?

The first breakout happened at naptime. I heard a door open and thought “oh my God is someone in my house” only to [luckily] turn around and be greated by my toddler grinning from ear to ear. To say he was proud of himself is an understatement. The smile on is face can only be described as what i imagine he would look like if he had just met Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Kool-aid man all at once. Let’s call it shit-eating, shall we? My toddler knew in that moment that he had bested Mommy and he was in full gloat. 

He preceded to climb in and out of crib the rest of the day just for funzies. So when his dad came home from work we converted the crib into a toddler bed for preventative measures. Also read as, mommy and daddy don’t have time or money for the ER. 

But of course this has lead to the issue of he no longer wants to go to bed. He wants to break out and party. Unfortunately his door locks but doesn’t actually latch. I honestly wouldnt be so bothered by him escaping his room butbwe had had people staying with us for a couple of weeks and so doors and baby gates are getting left open and phone cords and pocket change is getting left laying around so its just not safe for him if his dad and I are already in bed when he breaks out. It’s been a stressful sleepless week to say the least. For the first time we found ourselves loading him into the van at 12am and driving him around the freeway to lull him into sleep. I’ve even tried melatonin which so far hasn’t need very much help. 

So fast forward to Saturday night. I got to get away for a few hours and when I came home after 9 the kracken was up watching cartoons and snacking. As it turns out after he was put to bed he got out of bed and managed to crawl into the crawl space that is behind the vent in his room. The vent of which he managed to pull off the wall. So my fears of him getting himself into some serious trouble are not unfounded.

I’ve managed to figure out how to get the door wedged in such a way that he can’t open it and that has been working for a couple days now. I don’t really mind if he plays instead of sleeping as long as he is safe in his room. When I went to get him up the other day I found him asleep on his bedroom floor with his favorite monkey blanket and a book. I have no idea how long he stayed up untill he fell asleep but he obviously wore himself out at some point.

I don’t know if bedtime will get easier or harder from here on out. While im always impressed with his physical strength and the abilities that strength gives him, I’m definitely not thrilled about his achievement of the bed climbing milestone. 

Toddler bed conversion

Wishing you a better night’s rest than in our home,

A.J.

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Hosting a Magical Harry Potter Baby Shower

“It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be.” – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Back in June I, along with help from my bestie Aly, hosted a shower for our good friend since middle school. We have been wanting to throw a Harry Potter shower from the moment we found out our friend was pregnant and we are so happy she said “yes” to our theme. As all would be hostesses do, we scoured Pinterest for ideas and lamented when the rules of our venue or our bank accounts prevented us from doing all of our ideas. My son and I made several trips to thrift stores looking for Harry Potter books we could cut into pieces for decorations and I even found a Harry Potter board game similar to Clue (which I then forgot to take with to the baby shower SMH). Pinterest left me unsatisfied with Potter-themed baby shower games so I ended up creating some of my own which was a ton of fun for me; I now feel like a true die-hard Potter fan after making my own games. There were a few last minute Amazon purchases and crossed fingers that everything would arrive on time and thankfully, everything did. Have a look at how it all turned out below!

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Check in table where guests signed a copy of Tales of Beedle the Baird for the baby. Guests were asked to bring books in lieu of cards.


Originally we were going to go all out and hang candles and stars from the ceiling to give the venue a true Hogwarts great hall feeling, but unfortunately we were not allowed to hang anything from the ceiling, and honestly after seeing how high the ceiling was, I’m not sure how we would have pulled that off. We ended up focusing our shower decoration efforts on the tables and I made simple signs to hang on the walls since we were allowed to use scotch tape. We cut up pages from books for unique signs and decor. It was sacrilegious to some, but it was a lot of fun to decoupage book pages to objects.

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I ordered this adorable outfit on Amazon as a gift and we decided to use it as an additional decoration since it was so cute.

For our set-up we had four tables, one for each Hogwarts house, and each table could seat 4 people for a max seating of 20 guests (though we were prepared to seat 25) who we sorted upon arrival. Each table had a black table cloth and then runners matching the house colors and a candle vase. Each Place setting had a shower favor with candies and a harry potter pin. (We were originally going to order chocolate frogs and Bertie Bott’s every flavor beans  for the favor bags but it was kind of pricey so we spent that money ordering cupcakes instead).

Guests were sorted into houses upon arrival to the shower. I filled a witch hat with mardi gra beads in the house colors and they reached inside and pulled on out. We did have to move some people around to make the houses even for the games but it was hilarious to watch grown adults be nervous they would be put into Slytherin.

As I mentioned I made two of my own games for the shower because I just could not find what I wanted online. I think they turned out rather well. One game I called Snuggle this Muggle and you had to circle the names of all the muggle-born witches/wizards on the list. The second game was Who’s Your Daddy/Are You my Mother? For that game you matched the wizard child to their parents. The third game we played I did not create but it was sooooooo much fun. It was called babies against parenthood which is basically like cards against humanity which was one of the expecting couple’s favorite games. Link to that is found here at The Eco-Friendly Family. We had the houses play as teams for all the games and they earned house points. The House with the most points at the end won ALL the prizes. And of course we gave out random points for things like “good team work” and their ability to answer random Harry Potter Trivia Questions. And while not technically a “game” I also did a diaper raffle and anyone who brought diapers or wipes got to put their name into the Goblet of Fire and I drew a winner for a gift card at the end of the games portion.

And can we talk about my favorite part, the yummy yummy cupcakes? They were so delicious. We went with a local bakery that the Mommy to Be and I used to go to with her mom when we were younger. At first I was kind of nervous that the white frosting would be too plain looking but Aly was right in that it would make the cake toppers just pop. The cake topper were rings i bought off amazon. I don’t actually recommend this seller because they send you 24 rings of assorted houses. It worked out ok because we are adults, but these are intended for birthday parties and how sad would it be for a little Hufflepuff to not get her house ring because these yahoos but 10 Ravenclaws in one bag. amiright? Anyhow, ranting aside, these looked and tasted fantastic.

So there is basically all the photos of the shower that I can share publicly. This was one of my favorite parties ever. I’m happy to report that the wonder little muggle we were celebrating has made her way into the world and both she and her parents are doing well.

Are you looking  to see more book based baby shower ideas? Check out my own Dr Seuss themed baby shower here! I also had a safari/lion king themed shower and hosted and fairy/butterfly baby shower if you’re looking for other ideas!

Fairy Wishes, Butterfly Kisses and an Afternoon of Tea

It’s been a busy couple of months around here and once again my blog writing has fallen by the wayside. I wanted to take some time to share some photos from a couple of events from the past few months as my party posts seem to be the most popular posts on this blog. In February, I hosted a baby shower for a friend at my home and in March I took over hosting my Aunt’s table at a charity high tea event. Both were a lot of fun to host and I enjoyed the opportunity to get creative and spend time with good people. Here are the highlights:

Fairy Wishes and Butterfly Kisses

I hosted a baby shower for a friend I used to work with in a new age store who loved fairies and butterflies and was planning to decorate her daughter’s room with both. I went with the theme “fairy wishes and Butterfly kisses” and I love the way it turned out.

The shower was later in the afternoon so I just did appetizer type food and dessert. I didn’t theme all the food selections like I did at my Dr Seuss shower but I did include fairy “kisses”.

For games we played “Don’t say baby”, a mad libs game and Babies against Parenthood. I had also set out my deck of Magical Messages from the Fairies by Doreen Virture so guests could pull a card and see what “wish” the Fairies had for them. I also had them fill out cards with their wishes for baby. It was so much fun. I only wish I had taken more photos, especially of the decorations I had made and the thank you gifts i made as well. I’ll take more pictures at the next shower I am hosting (and Ps, it’s going to be Harry Potter themed).

High Tea 

The first Saturday in March ushered in the return of the anual Lura Turner Homes high tea charity event. This is probably my favorite event. I have been attending with my aunt since I was in high school and this year due to medical reasons I hosted her table for her. I did use all of her own China and table settings. I think our table turned out wonderful.

That’s all I have to share for now! I will take more pictures next time.  Hoping to get on a regular blog schedule over this summer as well.

-The Moscato Mommy

Turning Hiking Season into Triking Season

I never expected a year ago that I would have a walking 12 month old weighing almost 30lbs. This has really affected my ability to hike with him; which was an activity I was really looking forward to. But last year during hiking season when he was smaller (and by smaller I still mean 15lbs) I was still having side effects from the epidural making hiking a no go for us. And now, at 28lbs he is just too heavy for me to carry with my back issues (I keep my hiking pack under 15lbs). But today, thanks to his birthday present from Daddy, we turned hiking season into triking season. 

I found a wonderful bike and walk path near my work called Skip Rimza Paseos that is part of the Walk Phx program. The start of the path is off of the Apache Wash trailhead parking lot enterance and it goes west 3.1mi and back (6.2mi roundtrip) and east 1.9mi and back (3.8mi roundtrip) and trail is leads through some beautiful desert views. It was gorgeous! Only complaint was how loud the road the was from construction vehicles but once the trail moves away from the road (almost 1 mi west of the start) the sound drops considerably. 

We ended up only walking 1 mi in and then back, for a 2mi walk round trip. The sun was getting too high and William was starting to get a bit fussy but next time I’m hopping to get a good 3-4 miles in. 

I’m so glad I found this path and now know about the Walk Phx program so I can find other paths around town for us to Trike. We live near some canal paths but they’re not really a safe place to be by ourselves. And I love desert hiking so I’m glad to see paved pathways popping up near preserves to give us a chance to see and explore native plants and wildlife. Can’t wait for our next Trike adventure!

Baby Travel Tips


My Little Prince and I spent a good chunk of our summer on vacation. We were gone almost a full month from the end of June through almost the end of July. We visited Utah, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Nevada. That is a lot of travel with a 5-6 month old (he turned 6 months old on vacation). All that traveling had its ups and downs, but I made it out the other side and back and now I have a much better understanding of some do’s and don’ts when it comes to traveling (atleast by car) with a baby. Here are some tips based on my experiences this summer. 

1. Less is More 
I definitely over packed on this trip. It’s amazing there was any room left in the car for us to sit. Which would have been OK if we had used every single thing we brought, but we didn’t. Leave the extra toys, books and clothing at home. You really won’t need them, especially if you’re taking your baby to see out of state family. They may have bought him toys and clothing to give to him in person. Or they may ask to go shopping with you and baby. So don’t bring too many extras as you may be heading home with a lot more than you came with. This was definitely our experience. 

I also brought a pack N play even though we bedshare. He slept in the pack N play maybe 4 nights out of 25 so it was a waste of space to tote across 5 states in the trunk of my Ford Taurus. And the awesome Costco beach tent? Yeah we used it once for maybe 20 minutes on 4th of July to shade his baby pool. We never had our beach day in Oregon like we had planned to so it became another relatively useless item. 

2. Plan for your special needs
My son uses added rice starch formula because of reflux. Shortly before vacation we had switched him to Parent’s Choice brand which is a Walmart exclusive. No big deal, there were Walmarts near all the places we were staying so I didn’t pack extra in case it spoiled in the car (History of car breaking down in the desert while on vacation lol). I didn’t learn untill vacation that the added rice starch formula from Parent’s Choice is not carried at all Walmarts even though it is exclusive to Walmart. And the Parents Choice website sent me to Walmarts that didn’t carry it even though the website said they did. And Walmart.com  was sold out so I couldn’t even have it shipped to my grandma’s or sister in laws. 3 Walmarts in 3 different towns in 2 different states did not carry it. I ended up buying Enfamil AR so it’s not like he starved, but it’s twice the price and I didn’t budget for that. My amazing husband joined us for our last week of vacation and flew into Boise with two tubs of formula so he was our hero. We were lucky it was just a specific rice formula we couldn’t get a hold of and not a medication. 

3. Help is great
I was so blessed to have a lot of help on this trip. My amazing mother in law rode with us to Idaho to help me and then flew back to Phoenix. My grandma had arranged baby sitters for us to go to a concert. Family members took turns helping to feed him or play with him or entertain him in some way. My nieces helped take of him on our day trips. My nephew wore him to hike up a mountain and explore lava caves. If anyone offers to help you, take the help. It takes some of the stress away and it feels good to not be the only person looking out for his well being even minute of the day. 

4. Parks are your friend
About halfway through a day of driving we would stop at the park in whatever town we were in. I brought a blanket just for this so he could crawl around and play outside of the car. Some moms in an online local mom group suggested pulling over on the side of the road to do this and I would not recommend this. It’s dangerous to park on the side of the highway and you can also be ticketed. Find a park. Parks have grass, baby swings and restrooms. 

5. Baby wear 
I can’t say enough about the amazingness of wearing the baby while traveling. It’s so convenient and my son is better behaved when he is worn. He does not like being strapped into the stroller or cars eat for prolonged periods of time. But if you wear him, he is the most quiet and easiest baby on the planet. He loves it. He was worn all over the place and some of my favorite memories of the trip are just wearing him while walking around exploring. 

6. Choose the right accessories 
Choosing the right accessories for you and baby will help with tip #1 because you can eliminate extras you don’t need and some accessories can work double duty. I’ve used 5 different types of diaper bags since my son was born and I’ve found that I prefer large tote bag style for everyday use but a regular sized back pack for traveling. The backpack is more convenient because it holds so much more and you can wear it on your back while wearing baby on your front. Your diaper bag can also double as your purse if it’s big enough which backpack and tote style both are. On our trip the baby carrier was used more than the stroller so given the choice again I’d take the carrier for carting around baby and leave the stroller at home. 

7. Be Flexible And schedule down time. 
When traveling with a baby you have to be flexible because shit literally happens. We never had a blowout diaper in the car seat untill our road trip. I’ve never had to get a hotel room to rest in while my car was broken down untill breaking down in 112 degree heat with no A/C and a 5 month old who was turning beet red and sweating profusely and needing a place to cool down and rest. My drive that once upon a time only took me 12 hours without a baby took me 16+ hours with one. Everything takes twice as long with a baby so be flexible with time. 

And schedule downtown. Travel can be tiring and traveling with a baby is exhausting for baby and parents. The baby can also become over stimulated. Schedule plenty of free time where you’re not out playing tourist. Your sanity will thank you. 

8. Savor the moments and Capture the fun. 
Enjoy yourself. One day he will be a toddler and not as easy to wrangle. One day he will be a teen plugged into his headphones or vacationing with his friends. Enjoy carrying him around on your back while you still can and take as many pictures as possible. Flood your Instagram and Snap Chat and Facebook with every precious moment. 
Do you  have any tips for traveling with infants or children? Leave me some comment love. 

One Year Later, and I’m Still Not Over it: Making a Case for “The Shadows”

***WARNING: If you are not up to date in The Black Dagger Brotherhood series by JR Ward, then this post may contain huge plot spoilers. You have been warned. Leave now or forever hold your peace.

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Us cover of The Shadows.

“Be present. Love her until the end. Never leave her side until the last breath. That was how he was going to honor her with his heart and his soul, even though he wasn’t worthy.”

Last week J. R. Ward released her newest novel in her Black Dagger Brotherhood series,  “The Beast”  and I’ve been slowly reading my way through it. Normally I finish these books in a day or two, and don’t get me wrong,  “The Beast” is great so far. But the truth is,  it’s been over a year and I’m still not over Selena’s death in “The Shadows” and the profound impact it has left on me.

I have felt the grief of loss for this fictional character and her lover Trez for over a year now, and based on what I’m still seeing discussed in Brotherhood fan groups, I’m not the only one who had to invest in Costco sized pallets of kleenex. That’s a true compliment to Ward’s writing which I consider to be extraordinary, so genre fiction haters can kindly step aside. Ward’s writing moves me in ways that most writers cannot no matter how grandiose their accolades in the literature world. I think it’s the honesty, heart, humor and grit in which she writes with. I mean sure she writes about vampire warriors,  but supernatural beings aside, her love stories are raw and believable. Her characters are relatable in their desires, goals, and personalities. They may be fictional but she gives them just enough flaws to make them believable as people. And some are so hugely flawed you’d expect them to never be redeemable,  let alone be heroes. But they try. They royally mess it up sometimes,  but they try. And when they love,  they love with everything they have, for as long (or little) as they have. Trez and Selena were no exceptions.

I will admit, that at first I wasn’t worried about Selena and the whole bone into stone genetic affliction befallen of the Chosen. This is Paranormal Romance after all, and we pretty much always get our HEA. When has the WARDen ever not come through for us? (OK, so there was that time she killed off Welsie…) And I guess technically there was a HEA for iAm and the Princess and since the book is called “The Shadows” and they’re both shadows that iAm’s HEA. should count. But come on,  we all know that Trez and Selena were the forecouple of that novel. And while they didn’t get what I (and most readers) would consider a HEA, I will say that I think Trez and Selena had one of the strongest love stories of the entire series.

You probably think you read that last sentence wrong, but I assure you, you did not. In my own personal opinion, I believe Trez and Selina have one of the strongest love stories of the entire series! Take that all you haters still mad at Ward one year later. And while you’re gasping at that unfavorable confession,  it’s also true that Phury and Cormia are still my favorites (maybe one day I’ll write about them too). So clearly I’m a reader who marches to the beat of her own drum,  because fan groups and fan pages let me know constantly how unpopular my viewpoints are.

The thing is, it’s so easy to love a story and it’s characters when it ends in hearts and rainbows. But there is something real and raw about a story that doesn’t. And if it makes you ugly cry (I wasn’t the only one right?) and lie awake at night thinking about it, then it must have profoundly touched you. Don’t get me wrong, the outcome of Trez and Selena’s love story left me gutted and and utterly heartbroken, but their love also left me inspired. I’ll tell you just a couple of the reasons why.

-Trez stayed

Trez didn’t have to stay by Selena’s side. He could have walked away and not had to deal with watching her disease progress and ultimately claim her life. In real life, I’ve seen it happen where he (or she) walks away and leaves the other to live or die on their own instead of being there for them through the nitty gritty. This happened with one of our members where I used to work. She had a stroke and her husband up and left her because he wasn’t going to deal with taking care of her and the rehabilitation she needed to be able to function again on her own. That is one person I know of personally, but I’ve heard numerous accounts of spouses being separated, divorced,  and/or cheated on while going through the dregs of cancer and chemotherapy. We live in a cruel world where when the going gets tough, people up and get gone. But not our Shadow hero Trez. He manned up for Selena, and was there to see her through untill her last breath.

Trez honors her requests even at a great loss to himself

Not only did he stay by her side,  he made sure her request to not suffer in agony and end up a statue like her sisters was honored. I can’t even begin to fathom what it would take for me to sit back and allow a doctor to put that needle into the arm of someone I love. And I like to think of myself as fairly progressive. I used to work as a CNA and I can still her the suffering cries and screams of one of my residents who had terminal brain cancer. As a caregiver it’s easy to advocate for making them more comfortable. So what if it’s been less than x amount of hours since their last dose of pain medication,  they’re dying. Let them be high as a mother effing kite. Let them choose a medical induced coma. But as a spouse, as a lover,  as a friend could I advocate for letting them end it completely??? I’d like to say that if my husband were terminally dying and wanted to just end it that I could support his decision. But could I really? Knowing I’d be watching him take his last breath when maybe we could have a few more days or weeks together could I support him? I hope I could be like Trez, and honor my soul mate’s right to die with dignity and peace. It took a tremendous amount of love and selflessness to support her in that way even though it was killing him on the inside.

Trez and Selena lived in the moment knowing that time was of the essence.

If anything can be said for this book, it’s that it reminds us how fleeting our time on earth is. One day you’re riding roller coasters all carefree and happily alive, and then the next day you’re ashes smoldering on a funeral pyre. We should always live and love as if we are dying. I mean, essentially we are dying from the moment we are born. But all too often we forget that tomorrow isn’t promised to us and we take it, as well as people and things for granted. Love with your whole being, experience life with adventure, don’t allow yourself to be held back by fears. Just be in the moment in your life.

And now allow me to share some of the quotes from the novel I found particularly resonating because I’m honestly not sure where this post is going because I have so many emotions about this book still swirling through me…..

We’re separated, but not lost or truly apart. Do not mourn me, my love. I have not died

Memories were especially dear, when they were all you had left of a loved one to hold on to

If anyone ever wanted to sense the infinity of time and existence, all they had to do was look at the night sky and feel their precious dead staring back at them. It was the great duality of union and separation.

I’ll be here waiting for you and for whoever else you love. That’s what the other side is. It’s just love

The above reasonings and quotes are why I still give the Shadows 4 out of 5 stars. (The missing start has nothing to do with Selena’s death in case you’re wondering). I know from a plethora of the reviews I’ve read on goodreads that a lot of people disagree with me and that’s OK. They can be bitter bettys crying about how it’s genre fiction which means Ward HAS to write a HEA all they want,  but they’re sadly missing the beauty of Selena and Trez’s love. And let’s face it,  all happily ever afters will one day end in death. As improper as it may be to quote a different author,  I’m going to end with this quote by the talented Chuck Palahniuk,  “We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.” The love between Trez and Selena will live forever long after they’re both in the fade.

-The Moscato Mommy

Baby Name that Tune

Today while listening to 60’s radio on Prime, “Be My Baby” by the Ronettes came on and reminded me of the fun I had playing “Name that Tune” at my gender reveal last September. I follow a lot of community pages and groups on Facebook for pregnancy and motherhood and a common question I see weekly is,  “what are some fun and different baby shower games?” Well I’d have to say that “Name that Tune: Baby Edition” is probably my all time favorite and is way less disgusting than guess the chocolate in the diaper game. (I mean seriously, who came up with that and why are you crazies still playing that game at baby showers?) This game is great for coed showers, gender reveals and BBQ party style showers and if you use some of the nursery rhyme songs then the game is equally friendly to play with young guests if children/teens are invited.

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Game Overview:
Guests compete to see how many songs they can guess correctly based on a small sound clip.

Items needed:
-Paper and pen to keep score
-A device that can play music loud enough for all players to hear
-A pre-made playlist of songs with the word ‘baby’ in the title.

How to play:

1. Before the baby shower, decide if you will have attendees play as individuals or as teams. I recommend teams for large groups. These instructions will be for teams but are easily adaptable for individual play.

2. Before the baby shower, create your playlist of songs that have the word “baby” in the title (I have provided one for you at the end of this post). You can do this on your smart phone or tablet using your music library or using YouTube. You could also go old school and burn an actual cd. The choice is up to you as hostess! Make sure your playlist has an even number of songs so both teams have the same number of opportunity to score points. You can choose how long or short the game lasts based on the number of songs you choose to use. More songs to you have to guess the longer amount of time it takes to finish the game, and obviously, less songs would mean a shorter game length.

3. At the shower, divide guests evenly into two teams. For extra fun, you may decide to have them choose a team name to make it more competitive.

4. Play 30 seconds (or more or less) of a song for team one and have them try and guess the song title and artist. Give them one point for a correct title, and another point for the correct artist.

5. Repeat step 4 for team two.

6. If a team cannot correctly guess the song title and/or artist, the opposing team has a chance to steal points if they can identify title and/or artist.

7. Repeat steps 4-6 untill the Playlist is completed. Team with the most number of points at completion wins.

Simple enough right? And so much fun! And not the least bit disgusting. YAY!!! What are some fun shower or party games you like to play? Leave me a message in the comments.

Below is a list of songs you may wish to use. These are just some song ideas, you can add or delete the songs you want on your list which is great if the mommy to be likes or dislikes a specific genre of music.

“Always be My Baby”-Mariah Carey
“Babe I Love You “-Styx
“Baby”-Justin Bieber
“Baby Baby “-Amy Grant
“Baby Boy”-Beyoncé
“Baby Come Back” – Equals
“Baby Face”-Little Richard
“Baby Got Back”-Sir Mix-A-Lot
“Baby I Love Your Way”-Peter Frampton
“Baby it’s Cold Outside”-any version
“Baby Love”- The Supremes
“Baby Mine”- from Dumbo
“Be my Baby”- The Ronettes
“Bye Bye Baby”- The Four Seasons
“Come on over Baby”- Christina Aguilera
“Cry Cry Baby”-Janis Joplin
“Don’t Worry Baby” – The Beach Boys
“Hey Baby”-No Doubt
“Hit Me Baby One More Time”-Britney Spears
“Ice Ice Baby”-Vanilla Ice
“My Baby Loves Me”-Martina Mcbride
“Rockabye Baby”-traditional
“Rock Me Baby”-David Cassidy
“Runaway Baby”-Bruno Mars
“Wobble Baby Wobble”-V. I. C.

Reading Goal: 50 Scariest Books of All Time

As an avid reader I’m constantly finding book lists that inspire me to read new, exciting and fun novels and to set new reading goals for myself. It may sound funny to hear about an adult setting reading goals,  I mean, don’t most of us stop achieving reading goals once we’re too old to recieve stickers and vouchers for free pizza? (Remember when you could earn a coupon for a free child’s pizza at Pizza Hut back in the 90’s? Those were the days!) Well, when it comes to this momma, reading has been my number one hobby since I memorized Green Eggs and Ham word for word and could read it to myself based off my four year old memory. (We won’t dwell on how long ago that was for me). Over the years, I set have many reading goals for myself. Some of these goals include but are not limited to reading ALL of the books on the following lists: 100 most challenged books compiled by the ALANewberry Medal and Honor award winners, The Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge, and then of course there are the yearly “top [x amount] books to read in [insert year]” and an assortment of miscellaneous top ten lists. I know I may never actually achieve all of the above mentioned reading goals, but I still enjoy the challenge of trying.

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Image found on Pinterest

Today while scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed I encountered a new reading list of books that I just have to add to my personal reading goals…. “The 50 Scariest Books of All Time” as compiled by Emily Temple over at FlavorWire. Sounds like a totally bad ass reading list doesn’t it? I’m so excited I found this list. I was that 90’s kid who stayed up late with my flashlight reading Goosebumps and Fear Street. I admit it’s been awhile since the last horror novel I’ve read. (It was “Seed” by Ania Ahlborn by the way, in case you were wondering). I went thru this Paranormal Romance phase (OK, so I may still be in that phase, don’t judge me) and I’ve been reading a ton of Contemporary Romance over the last two years. It’s definitely time to branch out again and spread my literary wings. OK so this list is technically full of “genre fiction” not “literature” but I stand by the metaphor I used in my last sentence.

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Image from Pinterest

A simple key:
*= I’ve already read
**=I’ve seen the movie but never read
***= I’ve read the book and seen the movie

The list:

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IT, Stephen King**
Piercing, Ryu Murakami
The Exorcist, William Peter Blatty**
Ghost Story, Peter Straub
American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis
Hell House, Richard Matheson
Dracula, Bram Stoker**
The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood
The Best of H. P. Lovecraft, H.P. Lovecraft
The Turn of the Screw, Henry James
House of Leaves, Mark Z. Danielewski
The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson**
The Silence of the Lambs, Thomas Harris**
Rosemary’s Baby, Ira Levin**
The Amityville Horror, Jay Anson***
The Trial, Franz Kafka
Books of Blood, Clive Barker
Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy
Heart-Shaped Box, Joe Hill
Carrion Comfort, Dan Simmons
The Complete Tales and Poems, Edgar Allan Poe* (I may not have finished)
Dawn, Octavia Butler
We Need to Talk About Kevin, Lionel Shriver
The Girl Next Door, Jack Ketchum
The Painted Bird, Jerzy Kosinski
The Wasp Factory, Iain Banks
The Cipher, Kathe Koja
Lord of the Flies, William Golding***
The Ruins, Scott Smith**
Ghost Stories of an Antiquary, M.R. James
Naomi’s Room, Jonathan Aycliffe
The Ritual, Adam Nevill
Johnny Got His Gun, Dalton Trumbo
Incarnate, Ramsey Campbell
The Woman in Black, Susan Hill**
The Great God Pan, Arthur Machen
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, Alvin Schwartz*
The October Country, Ray Bradbury
White Is for Witching, Helen Oyeyemi
Let the Right One In, John Ajvide Lindqvist
I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, Harlan Ellison
The Collector, John Fowles
The Store, Bentley Little
Penpal, Dathan Auerbach
In Cold Blood, Truman Capote
Swan Song, Robert R. McCammon
The Wolfen, Whitley Strieber
The Hot Zone, Richard Preston
The Killer Inside Me, Jim Thompson
1984, George Orwell

What I like about this new reading list is the mix of new and old horror,  suspense, true crime and science fiction; it appears to be well rounded. With this list I’m losing a ton of my book nerd street cred however because I’ve seen the movies for several of these,  but I have only read three of the books. Truly blasphemous! But hey, reading three takes me down to only needing to read 47 books to complete this goal. I’m on my way! Some the books on this list are also on some of my other reading lists so I will actually be chipping away at multiple reading goals simultaneously. Score!!!  Another positive to this list the number of authors I’ve never tried before. So if I fall in love with even just one author on the list, that opens the door to even more hours of reading enjoyment.

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Image from Amazon

The book I’m most looking forward to reading is “Johnny Got His Gun” by Dalton Trumbo. Here’s the description Tempe writes on her original post: “A World War I soldier wakes up in a hospital bed having lost all of his limbs and facial features, trapped in what’s left of his body, unable to move or, at first, communicate, or even kill himself. If that’s not horror, nothing is.” Pretty sure this novel is the basis for Metallica’s “One”,  and the only thing I love more than good books is good music, and that song has haunted me for years. So many creepy feels when you hear it. Now onto the flip side where the book I’m least looking forward to reading on this list is Stephen King’s “It”. I’ve been told by numerous King fans that the book is so much better than the movie (aren’t most books?) and the movie terrified me. I’m not sure I can handle that clown being any more terrifying if I’m being truly honest here.

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Screenshot from my Kindle

All the above said,  I’m actually going to start devouring this list by reading “Heart-Shaped Box” by Joe Hill. Reason being, this novel has been sitting in my kindle cloud waiting to be read for over three years now, so I may as well start with a novel I’ve already payed for. You know, waste not, want not, and all that jazz. Here is a bit about the book from its product description on Amazon, “Aging death-metal rock legend Judas Coyne is a collector of the macabre: a cookbook for cannibals…a used hangman’s noose…a snuff film. But nothing he possesses is as unique or as dreadful as his latest purchase off the Internet: a one-of-a-kind curiosity that arrives at his door in a black heart-shaped box…a musty dead man’s suit still inhabited by the spirit of its late owner. And now everywhere Judas Coyne goes, the old man is there—watching, waiting, dangling a razor blade on a chain from his bony hand.” Reading the description I’m still just as intrigued as I was three years ago. I can’t say why I haven’t read it yet other than I may have purchased it on a day when I was loading up on sale items and got lost in the carousel. Shrug.

So that’s the list, and my first selection from it. If you’d like to read along with me,  leave me a comment or send me a message. We could have an informal book club of sorts, and I’d love to have a guest contributor(s) on my blog. Also let me know below if you have read any of the books on this list and what your honest opinion was. Just try not to give away any major plot spoilers, K?

***UPDATE***
I now have a book Blog if you’re into books as much as me. Come follow me at The Moscato Mommy Reads

Should You Buy it at Dollar Tree? Beauty Edition

Up untill about two years ago,  pretty much the only things I ever bought at the dollar store were tissue paper,  candles,  balloons and disposable table cloths. Then, around this time last year, I started doing massage next door to Dollar Tree. Sometimes while taking a walking break I would wonder around the store and I soon learned they carried a lot of neat stuff I’d never taken the time to really notice before. There is almost nothing you can’t find in there,  and what they carry even differs by location. Now that I’m no longer working full time in massage therapy so I can be home with baby,  I find myself buying more and more things at Dollar Tree (amoung other discounted places). Surprisingly some things are better quality than you’d expect and you wonder why people would pay for it elsewhere. But then occasionally you do wonder why you wasted a dollar. As a frequent dollar store shopper I often get asked if____ is worth buying at the dollar store. So I thought why not do a review of things I’ve purchased from the dollar store? I created a simple rating scale to score each item.

$= don’t waste your money
$$= if you can’t purchase it elsewhere, dollar store will do just fine.
$$$= worth every penny!

For this post,  I am reviewing 8 beauty products/supplies I have purchased recently from the Dollar Tree. Let’s get to it!

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1. Shaving Cream -$

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Don’t even bother wasting your dollar on the can of assured moisturizing shave cream for women. I thought surely, this should be just fine. Ugh, I was so so so wrong. Hands down the worst product I’ve ever used to shave with, and here’s why. The can proclaimed to be made for sensitive skin with its vitamin E and aloe. Not sure that “sensitive” means what they think it means. It felt like I was dry shaving. No joke, left my skin feeling dry and raw like I had dry shaved with an old razor. My husband’s old can of barbasol is better. This is one dollar tree item you should skip and spend $2-$3 elsewhere.

2. Handsoap-$$$

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I actually love this brand of hand soap. This was the first time I purchased this scent,  but I’ve used other scents in the past. It smells great,  it cleans without over drying your hands and for dollar store soap,  it’s a decent sized bottle at 15oz. I often find soft soap Handsoap at Dollar Tree but it’s the same small sized bottle that Walmart carries for just 88 cents. So there’s your first lesson on dollar store shopping; watch the sizes. Sometimes you’re losing money. But with the above brand you’re fine.

3. Facial cleansing brush- $

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If you’re looking for a great way to damage your skin,  ^this is it right here. Should I have known better when I bought this? Yes. As a 2012 graduate of The Steiner School of Esthetics, I should have known and done better. Sadly I haven’t had money for a good facial lately and my new mom brain thought hey this can’t be that bad. Have you ever scrubbed your face with sandpaper? Pretty sure using this brush is equivalent. Will be saving up my pennies for a high quality spin brush with vibration. No one’s face should ever experience what mine did using this pos little brush.

4. Facial cleansing pad- $$$

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This little microfiber facial scrub pad feels like heaven after that sandblasting disaster of a facial brush. It’s Uber soft, more gentle than your average wash cloth and it comes in a 2 pack so it’s really only 50 cents a round. So for those not wanting to buy disposable facial sponges,  I’d recommend trying one of these.

6. Nail Polish- $$

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Nail Polish from the dollar store is never super great compared to what you can pick up at the drugstore. It usually takes an extra coat or two to get the color as vibrant and even as you want. But I’m still giving it a $$ rating because it’s a cheap way to try out new or different colors without having to spend $6 a bottle to discover you don’t actually like it. It’s also great if you’re making a gift basket for a tween because you can get one of every color. So there is some value to be found here.

7. Make up- $$

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I will be 100% honest here and admit that I can be a little snobbish about make up. Make up is one area where I will spend a pretty shiney penny. Yep,  I’m that women who spends $20 for a tube of mascara and $50 for a bottle of foundation. But I have been known to pick up make up at Dollar Tree before. Nothing is very high quality but similar to the nail polish, it’s a great way to try out new colors or practice a new technique. Especially great for Halloween time. It does take more product to get the desired color effect but if you use a good quality eye and face primer it will last a few hours.

8. Hair Dye- $$

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Yes I know some of you are face palming right now and shaking your heads. I bought hair dye (2 boxes for your information) at the Dollar Tree 😱😱😱. As you can see in the above picture, it’s comes with just about every thing you’d find in a regular box of hair dye. The only thing it didn’t have was the cream rinse that usually comes with my dye when I buy Loreal Faria. I have thick hair so I always buy two boxes of dye and I’m glad I do. There isn’t quite as much dye as my usual brand which would have been OK except for the cheap plastic bottle. The applicator bottle plastic is very thin and it gets all bent up and collapses in on itself. This makes it difficult and extremely frustrating to use. I definitely had wasted product that I just couldn’t get out out of the bottle.

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So how did the hair dye perform? About as well as you’d expect.

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Obviously not “lightest Blonde”, but to be fair I didn’t expect it to process that well to begin with. My hair had been box dyed a deep dark red in December and while I had significant root growth,  my hair was still not natural. I didn’t actually anticipate any box dye being able to lift the red completely out; which is why I bought dollar store dye in the first place instead of spending $10 a box at Walgreen’s. My roots did lift to blonde (although not “lightest”), and the rest of my hair became bright red. A week later the red has calmed down and I quite like it. I imagine it’s going to take a couple more dyes to get my hair where I want it to. So to be fair I’m giving this a $$ rating because it will somewhat lighten hair for just $1 if you need it to.

So there’s my very first review post (of anything,  let alone Dollar Tree products) on this blog. I plan to do future installments of reviews for things I’ve purchased at dollar tree and elsewhere. I have some book reviews in the works as well. Let me know in the comments of any good or bad experiences you’ve had with things purchased at a dollar store,  or let me know if there are dollar store products you’d like to see included in a future review.

On Baby Firsts, Bunnies and Biscuits and Gravy

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We marked William’s first Easter by taking him “up the mountain” to spend the weekend with my mother in law in the beautiful White Mountains of Eastern Arizona. This also marked his first official road trip [omg so excited for family road trips] and his longest time in the car. We took around 3 hours to go up and almost 7 hours coming back down [these numbers include stopping for meals and photo taking. We like to enjoy these drives]. I was nervous with the elevation change that he would get sick but he was great. He did get a little fussy dropping back down into Payson from the Rim, so I gave him calming tablets [which I can’t recommend enough] and he slept all the way to Camp Verde. The trip was great practice for this summer when I will take him on the 14 hour drive to his great grandma’s house in Idaho. Planning to run him up the mountain a few more times before then.

Traveling with a baby,  especially overnight, takes work. Even at just two months old he needs his own bag. His clothes are small so I probably could have packed those in our suitcase,  but then there’s the diapers, wipes, blankets, bibs, personal care items, toys, his pack in play. I formula feed so I had to pack bottles and the cleaning supplies and formula. The amount of bags we took for a weekend stay was obscene IMO, and hopefully I can find better ways to pack for future trips.

One thing I did tote up the mountain that maybe I didn’t need to was William’s Easter basket. Yes,  I made my two month old an Easter basket. Yes,  I’m well aware he won’t remember it. Yes,  I’m aware I wasted money. I’m on several mom community pages on Facebook so believe me when I say I’ve heard all the reasons why I’m an idiot. And I did debate with myself a little bit about making a basket for him when he is so little, but you know what I realized? These are my memories and experiences too,  not just my sons’. All these “firsts” are moments that belong to him, to me, to my husband and to our family who is experiencing them right along side us. So yes, I made that Easter basket and snapped photos of him screaming his head off next to it. I kept the basket small[ish], with an Easter bodysuit and bib,  Stuffed rabbit, a 2nd hand board book I picked up at DI on the true meaning of Easter for 50 cents, and some plastic eggs I filled with quarters to add to his piggy bank his great grandma bought him to save gas money for the Idaho trip to visit her. All in all,  I think I was fairly conservative compared to what I’ve seen on Facebook.

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I did decide not to do the whole meet and greet with the Easter bunny this year. At first I felt kind of bad that I didn’t feel like standing in line for my baby to get a photo. But then on Saturday at Walmart we ran into a Walmart employee in a rabbit suit and my son couldn’t give a crap so I feel I made the right choice in not giving up two hours of my life to see a creepy bunny. Because let’s face it, those mall Easter Bunnies are waaaaaaaaaay more scary than those mall Santas. Am I right?

So Easter Sunday marked another ‘first’ for our son,  his very first Church service. I will admit I was kind of nervous about it. I’m nervous anytime I take him in public and I don’t know if he will be chill or lose his ever loving mind. I’m proud to say he was amazing during church. And I’m probably biased here, but he was also the most handsome baby in a tie. Hard not to be when you’re a blue eyed ginger 😉

After church we had breakfast at Baker’s Ponderosa Cafe where I had my own ‘first’. It was my first truly amazing biscuits and gravy experience. My husband laughed when I told him I was going to have blog about these biscuits. I’m not really a gravy person,  or a sausage person, so biscuits and gravy isn’t something I eat often. I have it maybe twice a year and usually only because my husband or another family member made it. But ever since I became pregnant and even after giving birth,  things I normally wouldn’t eat sound pretty tasty. So I ordered “the big Mike” on Sunday. It was an open faced biscuit topped with sausage patty, eggs, the most amazing homemade gravy, and crumbled bacon. Listen,  I don’t write food reviews,  I don’t know how a proper food review should be done,  but I’m telling you,  my palate was having a party. I had no idea something that could give me a clogged artery could taste so good I wouldn’t care if my artery ruptured. It would be worth it. It would be worth never getting into a pair of skinny jeans. I kid you not,  I cleaned my mother effing plate of gravy. I almost licked that pate clean, but I held on to that one last shred of dignity I have left and instead left a Facebook review. But really,  all I wanted to do was cover myself in this most amazing Easter Sunday gravy and then lick myself clean. So,  if you’re ever near the Heber Overguaard area of the White Mountains, stop in and order the big Mike. It will make your day. It may even make your whole week or month or year or heck,  your whole life! OK so I hope your life has more going for it than a plate of biscuits and gravy, but it is the little things that make life special.

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Feel free to share your Easter weekend moments or any recent “firsts” in the comments.