Friday Reads (and talks with loved ones): April 3

This week I’m reading ‘Get a Life, Chloe Brown’ by Talia Hibbert. So far I’m really liking it. I didn’t expect for the book to be so humorous! The chemistry between Chloe and her family (most especially the handyman) is very vibrant!

Throughout all the craziness of working remotely, and establishing a new work/life routine while we all handle isolation, I’m trying to remind myself to stay calm. I’ve learned to maintain watching news coverage at a minimum–about 45 minutes tops. Anything above that and I get depressed, and very stressed out. I check in on friends and family regularly, and pray that they stay safe and healthy.

I came across this poster on Google, and I wanted to share it with you all:

Hopefully those better days will come soon!

Reading Blog: Crawdads and Admiring Nature

Today I made good headway in reading ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’. I was supposed to read this for my book club meeting this week, but a notice came out today that due to the Coronavirus outbreak, the Hunterdon County libraries will be closed until the end of the month. I’ll definitely have time to finish the story between now and the next meeting! So far, I love how the story alternates between a murder mystery and describing the life of a young girl living in the marshlands of North Carolina.

Aside from reading, I made myself busy around the house (the usual cleaning and laundry, tending my plants). I also went outside briefly to appreciate nature. While I was outside, I admired viewing the daffodils and the budding trees in the front yard. I love being surrounded by the signs of Spring!

In this period of uncertainty and social distancing, it’s important for us to stay connected with one another. Wishing a smooth, minimally-stressful time for everyone!

‘A Wedding in December’ by Sarah Morgan

A Wedding in December by Sarah Morgan
Length: 384 pages
Acquired through NetGalley
Publisher: Harlequin (HQN) Books
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: October 31, 2019

In the snowy perfection of Aspen, the White family gathers for youngest daughter Rosie’s whirlwind Christmas wedding. First to arrive are the bride’s parents, Maggie and Nick. Their daughter’s marriage is a milestone they are determined to celebrate wholeheartedly, but they are hiding a huge secret of their own: they are on the brink of divorce. After living apart for the last six months, the last thing they need is to be trapped together in an irresistibly romantic winter wonderland.
Rosie’s older sister, Katie, is also dreading the wedding. Worried that impulsive, sweet-hearted Rosie is making a mistake, Katie is determined to save her sister from herself! If only the irritatingly good-looking best man, Jordan, would stop interfering with her plans…
Bride-to-be Rosie loves her fiancé but is having serious second thoughts. Except everyone has arrived—how can she tell them she’s not sure? As the big day gets closer, and emotions run even higher, this is one White family Christmas none of them will ever forget!

My Thoughts:
**I received A Wedding in December by Sarah Morgan through NetGalley, in exchange of an honest review**

A Wedding in December is a fun holiday story that captures the essence of togetherness in the midst of chaos. All of the characters have an innate sense of wanting to do the right thing, while harboring a close secret of their own. Even Rosie, the woman the White family are all gathered to celebrate, has second doubts about her impending nuptials (after a very brief courtship)!

I found the book to be delightful, as it highlights the fact that family can stay united, no matter what complications can get thrown their way. Despite challenges, true love and devotion exists among family and loved ones. The holidays can bring about lots of stress, but within all the layers of tension lies the deep meaning of togetherness.

If you’re into stories that feature family bonds with a touch of tension, then this is the book for you. A Wedding in December is a holiday story you definitely want to read, even after the holidays are over!

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Blogmas Day 25: Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful Christmas! Today marks the joyous occasion of Jesus’s arrival. Many people gather to worship the birth of Jesus through song and prayer.

Christmas Day also brings family and loved ones together as they share gifts, laughter, and precious memories. However you spend this day, I hope it’s an exciting day for all!

Blogmas Day 24: Christmas Eve Traditions

Christmas Eve usually brings a flurry of activity! Many families do preparations for their evening meals, while others frantically complete last-minute shopping for loved ones.

Andy’s family takes part in celebrating a traditional meal that occurs every Christmas Eve. It’s wonderful to participate in the meal, and also have a nice visit from my sister-in-law’s cat Bebe! Here she is with Andy!

What traditions do you take part in during Christmas Eve, if any? Let me know in the comments!

Goodreads Monday: December 23

I’m taking part in Goodreads Monday. This was started by Lauren’s Page Turners, in which you choose a book listed on your Goodreads TBR and talk about it.

This week’s post:

The Whispers by Greg Howard

A middle grade debut that’s a heartrending coming-of-age tale, perfect for fans of Bridge to Terabithia and Counting By 7s.

Eleven-year-old Riley believes in the whispers, magical fairies that will grant you wishes if you leave them tributes. Riley has a lot of wishes. He wishes bullies at school would stop picking on him. He wishes Dylan, his 8th grade crush, liked him, and Riley wishes he would stop wetting the bed. But most of all, Riley wishes for his mom to come back home. She disappeared a few months ago, and Riley is determined to crack the case. He even meets with a detective, Frank, to go over his witness statement time and time again.

Frustrated with the lack of progress in the investigation, Riley decides to take matters into his own hands. So he goes on a camping trip with his friend Gary to find the whispers and ask them to bring his mom back home. But Riley doesn’t realize the trip will shake the foundation of everything that he believes in forever.

Why I Want to Read It:
From what I gather about The Whispers, this is a beautiful story about hope and faith. A young boy stops at nothing to make sure his mom comes back to him. It also speaks of young love through the perspective of a child. I’m going to make sure to add this to my Kindle in the near future!

Blogmas Day 6: A Special Christmas Memory

One of my favorite Christmas memories has to be my family gathering during the holidays. Nothing made me happier than meeting with my grandparents and cousins during Thanksgiving and Christmas.

From left: Me, my cousins Brittany & Phillip (her brother), and Tricia (Phillip’s fiance)

Here is a photo of me and my cousins Phillip and Brittany during a Christmas gathering in 2010. I was very close with Phillip and Brittany, so I have many fond memories when gazing at this photo. Our lives may have taken different turns over the years, yet I will always cherish the Christmas memories I have with family.

What’s a favorite memory you have during the holidays? Let me know in the comments!

Time With Family Is So Valuable

This post is a Six Word Saturday contribution. Please check out Debbie’s source post here.

Thanksgiving is coming around the corner! My husband and I spend Thanksgiving with both families. During the day we spend time with Andy’s family, and the evening is spent with my loved ones. Since my grandfather is enduring some health difficulties, I’m very grateful when we get to celebrate another holiday together. I’m very excited that next weekend I’ll be seeing my grandparents and 5 year old niece. She’s quite an energetic child! While family gatherings are filled with tensions and stresses, I’m still looking forward to catching up with relatives. I haven’t been to Paterson in a month!

I hope everyone enjoys their weekend!

September 11, 2001: Eighteen Years Later

I remember exactly what I was doing that day.

I lived in Northern NJ. I just finished breakfast, and turned off the television to go online. Since it was 8:30am, the horrible news hadn’t broken yet.

I was just checking email, readying myself to take the train to South Orange that afternoon to hang out with friends.

About 20 minutes later, the Breaking News clips flashed on my screen: The World Trade Center was under attack.

No. It couldn’t be true.

I quickly flipped on the television, and for the next couple of hours, I was confronted with the sight of the Twin Towers on fire. Falling to the ground.

All I could feel was shock, and horror. Shock, because my uncle and roommate from college were working in Manhattan that morning. Horrified at the carnage unfolding before my eyes.

I decided not to travel to South Orange that evening. This gathering could wait. Being with family could not.

Thankfully, my uncle was safe. He chose to stay at a hotel in Manhattan that night due to impending travel restrictions.
I couldn’t get a hold of my friend until that evening, due to phone lines tied up throughout the day. She made it home to the Bronx that night, but it took the entire day.

While everyone in my family circle was safe, sadly there were many others who could not say the same thing.

A no-fly zone was strictly enforced throughout North America. I remember sitting outside my front porch that night. The silence that greeted me was deafening.

The days and weeks that followed were filled with sorrow. Flyers of the missing were draped throughout Lower Manhattan. Many people clinging to that thread of hope, waiting for a reassuring word that never came.

A week later, I returned to New York City for a class. I remembered the sight of Lower Manhattan still in smoke. The area would continue to smolder for weeks.

The years that followed the attacks were met with the construction of the 9/11 memorial (which opened on 2011), and the fight for 9/11 First Responders receiving the care they desperately needed (which finally received renewal this year).

The one thing that remains constant through time is the Sept. 11 rememberance on television. It’s a somber event, as people recite the names of the deceased. This year, some of the grandchildren/nieces/nephews are reading names. It’s doubly touching; while they weren’t present to see their relatives, their memories are kept alive.

Eighteen years later, crowd surrounding the World Trade Center site grows thinner, but the message of remembrance stays the same.

Life goes on, yet we must never forget.

My August Wedding, and Mini-Getaway

It’s been a couple weeks since I truly sat and wrote the goings-on in my life. August has been quite busy, and here’s why:

I finally married the love of my life! It’s been 3 years in the making, and Andy & I feel so blessed that our close friends and family got to share our day with us!

There were stressors of course: some unexpected departures, and last -minute meltdowns (a lot for my 4yr old niece to handle), but my wedding coordinator Anita was a life-saver in guiding me towards patience. I’m so thankful to have hired a wedding coordinator to manage last-minute details (and peace of mind)!

Pics: My lovely friend Jane took the ceremony pic, while my other friend Melinda Prather took the reception pic (plus the cover photo)! Thank you so much!

A couple days after the wedding, Andy and I traveled to Pittsburgh, PA. Since we’re saving up for a extended honeymoon next year, we set aside a couple days to relax and enjoy Pittsburgh for a few days:

Grandview Overlook
We visited the Grandview Avenue Overlook, which has gorgeous views of Pittsburgh and its three rivers. It’s equally breathtaking by day as well! We also went on the Duquesne Incline, but I forgot to take pics!

All the Animals!
We visited The Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, where we took the tram to tour the area before enjoying specific sites. My favorite was saying hello to our Polar Bear and Tiger friends!

Go Bucs!
I’m a passionate Mets fan, but I also love me a good Pirates game! Although the Pirates are having a rough season, I still couldn’t wait to check out one of their games, in such a beautiful venue.
And– wouldn’t you know it– they won that night!

Andy took this stunning photo of the ballpark!

‘The Great One’
On our last day in Pittsburgh, we toured The Clemente Museum. Our tour guide Vince gave a wonderful description of Clemente’s professional and personal life. Being Puerto Rican myself, I grew up listening to family stories of Clemente’s lifelong service to Puerto Rico, and passion as a ball player.

So that was my August in a nutshell! Now begins my name-changing process, which I hope won’t be too painful, like the rumors say!

Bookish Note:
I did read this month, which I will post in my wrap-up entry
. I have some exciting news to share!