memes & carnivals

The Coffee / Book Tag.

main-image-2I just found this Coffee Book tag over at Comma Hangover and couldn’t resist because it combines two of my favorite things – coffee and books. I’m a simple creature guys. Give me a hot cup of coffee (or you know a soy caramel macchiato, but, really, simple guys, I swear) and a good book and I don’t really need much else. Except, like, wifi and a nap.

If you are also a lover of coffee and books, totally play along at your blog (or the comments section) and lemme know so I can see your answers!

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51mx1jiulxl-_sx324_bo1204203200_The Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde is one of my favorites but the books are so complex between the plot and the characters and Fforde’s tendency to change all the rules of the universe he has created means that it usually takes me a few chapters to ease back in. But if you can hold on tight, you’ll be in for a treat bookworms, because the series is a bookish dream where you can dive into the world of books and things like plot devices and genres come to life.

NOTE: the first book in the series appears to be on sale for $1.99 in the kindle store right nowchai-tea

7796279I know there are all these great fiction travel books out there like Eat Pray Love and anything by Bill Bryson but the first one that came to mind was 13 Little Blue Envelopes. In the novel, Ginny’s aunt leaves her 13 little blue envelopes that turn into a world-wide scavenger hunt of sorts. It’s got all those sweet young adult coming of age tropes with a backdrop of all the places my wanderlust heart dreams of.

It was a tad predicable but the sequel, The Last Little Blue Envelope totally makes it all worth it. You definitely have to read both, kay?

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22557272The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins was so intense. It’s a book I might never have picked up if my book club hadn’t nominated it because I’m so not about “thrillers” but I really loved this one. The narrator really draws you in and the mystery definitely kept me up late on multiple occasions hoping I could figure everything out. And even better, I didn’t see the ending coming at all.

The movie is coming out soon and if you haven’t read this one, I really recommend reading it before seeing the movie. It’s totally deserving of the Bestseller List.earl-grey

10515068Call me cliche, but Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is definitely a favorite. I love the book, the movies, the mini series, the newer modernized adaptations and web series (seriously it’s a must watch). It’s a story I never get tired of and one of my favorite love stories of all time.

I love a lot of Austen’s other novels but this one continues to be my favorite. Buy a beautiful edition or download a free copy from Amazon onto your kindle. You won’t be disappointed.

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19398490All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr is another book I read with my book club. While this book certainly isn’t quiet in the sense of being low on the radar, I think there is a quiet beauty to the writing. It doesn’t scream at you, it isn’t flashy. It’s slow and deliberate and real. It’s a book that will make you pause and linger over sentences and ready slowly and think deeply.

I have read a lot of books in the past couple of years that deal with World War II but this one was by far the best.

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2855642I think Ladybug Girl by David Soman and Jacky Davis is one of the best picture books that I’ve read in a long time. We own three of the books in the series now and it’s officially achieved the “buy it immediately” status that most hardcover picture books won’t achieve with me, especially as my children are growing older. Soman’s illustrations just tug at all of my heart strings and the stories perfectly depict childhood. Lulu is an excellent role model for kids and this series has my read out loud seal of approval.oops-i-accidentally-got-decaf

25573977I was really excited to read The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald. It sounds right up my alley on paper, but to be honest, it fell flat for me.  I always felt slightly at arms length away from everyone. For a book full of internal dialogue, it still felt like it was slightly emotionally removed and the end of the book wrapped up almost too quickly and left me feeling unresolved even though all the plot points were mostly tied up.

At the core of this story is an idea that intrigued me, but the execution just wasn’t there.

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20893528Little Women by Louisa May Alcott always makes me think of Christmas. It really is a great story to curl up with by a big fireplace – and the movie adaptations are all really good, too. This actually might be one of those rare instances where I kind of liked watching the movies better than reading the book, I’m not sure why.

Which Little Woman do you relate to the most? Are you still irritated that Jo didn’t end up with Laurie?starbucks

71xftwoEDbL._SL1500_I think the fanfare for The Lunar Chronicles is starting to die down a little now that the series is finished but, in the blogging circles especially, the series is still mentioned with reverence pretty much everywhere. Maybe I see it mentioned more because I’m also obsessed, but I really do see it mentioned still all the time.

It might sound strange that the world is this enamored with what started out as a cyborg Cinderella story, but this series is all the things and quickly earned a spot in my mental “favorite books” list.

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gnarr-235x268I wasn’t really sure where to begin with this one – I wouldn’t know which books are “indie” you know? But I took a look at Melville House’s website after Comma Hangover mentioned it in her post. And I noticed Gnarr! by Jon Gnarr and said, “Hey, I read that book! It was really good!” He writes about how he founded the Best Party in 2009 to satirize his country’s political system and somehow won the election and became the mayor of Reykjavík, Iceland’s capital. I saw him in an interview on Craig Ferguson’s late late show a couple of years ago and liked the interview so much that I bought the book.

So now it’s time for a cup of coffee, right?

memes & carnivals

Three Fictional Characters

I have succumbed to the latest meme to take over the internet because I’m very self centered and like talking about myself. The name of the game is Three Fictional Characters and the instructions are obvious. Share three fictional characters that best describe you.

I spent way too much time thinking about this and there were lots of contenders that didn’t make the cut. Disney princesses like Belle and Anna were in the running but I got rid of Belle because tbh Rory Gilmore pretty much covers the bookworm aspect. Anna, I adore, but if we’re going to be honest, I’m not nearly as optimistic as her. But still, kindred spirits to be sure.

I thought about sharing Daria because we are equally terrible at volleyball and we both have brown hair but she’s way more cynical than me. Cather from Fangirl was in the running, but while I empathize with her, she’s not really me. If we’re going to talk about ridiculous introverts, Amelie sums me up a little better.

Liz Lemon was a high contender for wit and love of night cheese, but then I remembered Joey Potter from Dawson’s Creek and it was a better fit. She’s been my soul sister for over fifteen years now. But night cheese guys? I’m all about it.

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Who would be in your list?

memes & carnivals

The Get To Know Me tag.

Totally stole this tag from Kate @ Opinionated Book Lover because it’s a rainy Thursday and being productive on a rainy Thursday just…. no. And my life has been a bit too hectic lately for real writing. Instead, let me tell you all the things about me that you never asked and if you are loving this, send me a link to your answers or just stick them in the comments section.

Vital Stats

Name: Jennifer
Nickname: Jen, mom, mommyyyyyyyyyy, that girl who never says anything, that girl who never shuts up, and for my high school friends who remember, Sati. Because I don’t know.
Birthday: Christmas Eve. Yes, it was terrible but also kind of awesome. I tend to not have to work or go to school on my birthday because nobody else is working or going to school either. And everyone decorates and sings songs and gives people presents and sometimes I get presents and sometimes people give me like two books instead of one and say, “one for your birthday and one for Christmas, seeeeeee??????” And I won’t turn down extra books.
Star Sign: Capricorn

Appearance

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Hair Color: brownish, sometimes reddish. I’ve been considering a new color but I’m cheap and lazy so I’ll probably just keep talking about it until it goes grey.
Hair Length: I like a chin length bob that is shorter in the back. I’m probably due for a hair cut soon.
Eye Color: hazelish brown
Best Feature: my braaaaiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnn
Braces: nope
Piercings: none currently, used to have pierced ears but I hated it so now I don’t
Tattoos: none, I’m too fickle for permanent ink and needles
Right or Left Handed: righty

Firsts

Best Friend: So the first one that I remember thinking, yeah this is my best friend, is my friend Gigi from freshman year of high school. I appologize if you were my best friend in grade school and I’ve forgotten, but I moved around so much in those early years that it’s all kind of a blur. Gigi and I used to march up and down the street holding up Backstreet Boys signs and singing their songs at the top of our lungs like evangelical boy band missionaries. We’re super cool.
Award: It was probably a participation award or like “perfect attendance” because I have a tendency to only get sick on weekends on holidays. I wish it was on purpose but apparently my body just hates days off.
Sport: ummmmm competitive reading? Netflix marathons? Staring competitions with my husband to decide who will cook dinner first? I make laziness an art form.
me-n-mickeyReal Vacation: The big one that comes to mind is going to Disney with my dad when I was little.
Concert: Okay so I have memories of going to concerts when I was young that I’ll be honest, I don’t know if they actually happened or if I just had an overactive imagination. But I know I saw Third Eye Blind and like Smashmouth or something in high school.

Favorites

(Warning, I’m really bad at picking one favorite anything)

Movie: The Decoy Bride is one of those movies that I have a tendency to insist people watch and sometimes I’ll insist that they sit down and watch it with me and I’ll stare at them throughout the whole movie to make sure they laugh and swoon at the right parts and they aren’t allowed to tell me that David Tennant doesn’t really look all that hot in this one because shut up. The Doctor is always hot. Always. To quasi-quote Kelly Macdonald, “[he’s] a lot hotter than [he] look[s].
TV Show: Okay so this is impossible but some favorites are Doctor Who (obvy), Sherlock, The Great British Baking Show, Big Bang Theory, Project Runway, Gilmore Girls… I watch a lot of tv tbh but these are some of my favorites.
Color: I’m feeling kind of a blue green these days. My daughter decided a few years ago that my favorite color is green and I humor her but some days I like a mauvey purple, sometimes bright red (especially for appliances) but blue green is where I’m at these days.
Song: Okay I can’t give you one song, but how about like a 10 song playlist?

All About That Bass by Meghan Trainor

Girl Like That by Matchbox 20

Dog Days Are Over by Florence & The Machine

Gravity by John Mayer

Imagine by John Lennon

Jimmy Iovine by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

Stay by Rhianna

Suit and Tie by Justin Timberlake

Shake it Off by Taylor Swift

Lost Boy by Ruth B

Restaurant: Olive Garden has a special place in my heart because my husband proposed there, but we also have a lot of local favorites like Babes Bar & Grill, Cafe Hollander and Lilianas.
Store: Target and Barnes & Noble probably see me most often.
Book: hahahahahaha ummmm yeah we could be here all day if I really tried to do this but lately I’m squealing most often about The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer (start with Cinder) and Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell and later I’m going to kick myself for not mentioning ___________.
14292523_1300800473298520_1348371665942783751_nShoes: I live in sandals as often as possible. Lately I’m rotatining between Clarks wedges and yellow strappy sandals, also by Clarks. I like Clarks.

Current/Future

Children: two kids, a 10 year old boy and a 7 year old fairy princess dictator.
Marriage: happily married for 10 years🙂
Careers: Right now I’m subbing for a local school district, mostly as a teacher’s assistant.
Where you want to live: I like where I live but if my family could somehow magically live closer without having to actually move and if we could be closer to water and that hot dog stand back home… that would be super. I want to live walking distance to a bookstore and a little Italian bakery with good schools near by and plenty of good coffee shops and playgrounds. In a house with a wrap around porch and a huge backyard with great friends nearby. We have some of these things already.

Do You Believe in ..?

God: undecided / agnostic
Miracles: yes
Ghosts: not really
Soul Mates: ehhh?
Heaven/Hell: see above
Kissing on the first date: if he seems worth it.
Yourself: well I am here, aren’t I?

Anything else you want to know about me? Leave a comment.

family fun · motherhood

On mothering in the Septembers.

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Dear MM,

I wanted to apologize for the quality of our afternoons over the last few weeks. Is it weird for me, your mother, to be apologizing for bad behavior? I’ll tell you a Secret that grown ups often don’t want their kids to know: we have no idea what we are doing. I certainly don’t. Despite having ten years of parenting experience under my belt, I’m still largely figuring out how to do this.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t given an owner’s manual when I had you and I’ve spent the last ten years figuring it out as I go. Sometimes I think I’ve got it all figured out and I make lists and plans and laminate things and pat myself on the back for having it down. But then life happens; and when life doesn’t follow my schedule, I have a tendency to get cranky about it. And sometimes you bear the brunt of that crankiness, along with your sister and father.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve relied heavily on your good nature, your helpfulness and your ability to adapt to any situation and roll with the punches. You make me so proud – I don’t know if you realize this, but I brag about you to pretty much anyone who will listen; about how smart, clever and kind you are. About how much you help out around the house and how you never cease to rise to the occasion in life. Sometimes I may take advantage of these things, but I want you to know that I appreciate them.

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You have a lot of responsibilities these days between private school, karate classes, cub scouts and chores around the house and I know you are working your butt off to balance it all. But like every September before this one, we are having a hard time making all the pieces fit right now and I have been dumping my frustrations on you a lot. That isn’t fair to you.

As your mother, I’m supposed to pick you up when you fall and encourage you to keep trying. I’m supposed to tell you that it is okay to fail sometimes and that there are always opportunities to start over and try again. I’m sorry that I sometimes forget how to be that person. It’s not always easy to set aside my own frustrations and problems.

A lot of these frustrations don’t have much to do with you. It’s just me worrying about money and when to cook dinner and feeling bone tired from figuring out the flow of this new school year. It’s me trying to control things that cannot be controlled. It’s not about you.

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Sometimes I forget that you are a ten year old kid, doing the best you can. Ten year olds aren’t supposed to spend all day stressed out about these things – that’s what moms are for. I rely on your helpfulness a lot but sometimes I have to remind myself that some things are not your burden. You shouldn’t have to worry about the cost of karate lessons or when I’m going to make dinner and you shouldn’t have to carry the weight of my frustrations. You have your own frustrations to deal with and I’m sorry that I haven’t been a very good cheerleader for you lately.

I’m sure you know how hard it can be to calm down when you are upset – sometimes you take it out on others even when you don’t mean to and even though you’d probably rather calm down and find a rational solution, sometimes the temptation to wallow in our problems is too strong. I’ve taught you little tricks over the years to calm down, but sometimes I forget to do them myself.

Did you know that when people are frustrated they tend to take it out on the people they feel the safest around? That means that sometimes I’m going to throw temper tantrums around you because you are my safe place – that doesn’t make it right and it doesn’t mean that they are your tantrums to control. I want you to know that people can be upset around you and that it doesn’t mean they are necessarily upset with you. Sometimes emotions just point in the wrong direction and it can take awhile to realize you’ve been misfiring them.

I’m not saying I’m never going to dump on you again. I’m human and I’m imperfect and I have a tendency to relearn some things constantly. I know you will spend much of your life trying to learn how to balance it all, too, but for now I want you to focus on being ten. Have fun at school, work hard, dream big and know that even when I am ragging on you about things that I am still your number one fan and that I’m proud of you. There will be good days and bad days for all of us and sometimes we won’t get it right. That’s what tomorrow is for.

Love,

Mom