family fun things I learned this month

10 Things I Learned in February


Tomorrow we March one step closer to the Spring (see what I did there?) and leave February behind us. The weather outside certainly doesn’t support this statement but eventually it’s bound to catch up with the calendar, right? Right??

While we ponder this question of weather and logic (or lack thereof), let’s think about all the things we learned this month – for better or  worse. I’m linking up again with the lovely Emily from Chatting at the Sky and her immensely popular Things I Learned series.

Here is what I learned in February:

  1. I learned that my daughter has her future all mapped out and that I can expect three grandchildren from her: “When I’m a grown up I will tell all three of my kids to go to sleep and then I will draw a birdie, okay mommy?
  2. I learned that taking the time to meditate is good for me AND for the kids – they love meditating and it relaxes all of us. Unsurprising since it involves sitting very still and being quiet – no wonder I like it!
  3. I came to the realization this month that “clean” can mean very different things depending on who you are talking to and who is coming over.
  4. I learned that pretty much all my daughter has to do to turn me into a puddly mess is use the word “whilst” in a sentence which she does quite often for a four year old girl.
  5. I think everyone who is friends with me on Facebook learned that when I really like a book, it will completely consume me and I will refuse to talk about anything else for at least 24 hours. (See my review of Fangirl here!!)
  6. I learned that sometimes you have to take another look at your situation and think about what is going well and what isn’t. I’ve been dragging the kids to karate lessons 2-4 times a week since September and for one of my children this is totally worth it and for another it’s a complete waste of my time that could be spent doing something else. BB has decided to call it a day with karate and return to a hobby that wants you to spend the class looking in a mirror and twirling around. Yup, we’re going to give ballet another shot next month and she is VERY excited, especially because she’ll have a bestie in class with her. And it only meets once a week – is it wrong that this is terribly exciting news to me?
  7. I learned I am definitely not a speed reader – I’m only about 10% faster than the average adult, only mildly faster than your average 8th grader and quite a bit slower than a college student or a speed reader (or my husband). Are you a speed reader?
  8. I learned that almond cake may be my most favorite dessert in the universe – I need to learn to make it myself ASAP because oh my lord.
  9. I learned that sometimes you need to go back to basics and do what works – the dog has been terrifically uncooperative with me lately and I realized yesterday that I could make my life a lot easier if I start bribing him to behave better and take advantage of the fact that he is so food motivated. Why did I stop bothering to do this???
  10. I learned that Jim Parsons can make me squeal like a fangirl – the Shamy Kiss was so surprising and fantastic that I may have jumped up and down and shrieked with joy and may have watched it again later on youtube. It was almost as good as this:
books & reading nightstand

Nightstand: February 2014


It’s been a great month for curling up with a good book. I’ve spent a lot of cold winter nights wrapped up in one story or another and managed to finish four books since last month! For some people that is a rather average, small looking number but for me it’s huge since most of my reading happens at night before falling asleep, which a lot of times is just for half an hour or so.

Anyway, if it isn’t obvious I’m linking up again with the ladies at 5 Minutes for Books to share with you the books on my nightstand, both literally and figuratively. What I’m reading, what I read recently and what’s coming up next.

Since last month I read the following books:

  1. A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle – Finished January 28, 2014 – I don’t know if I would have enjoyed this story as much if I weren’t such a huge fan of the BBC series, Sherlock, but since I can’t (yet) go back in time and unsee the show, I’ll just have to base my feelings of the book around the fact that I’ve seen the show also and thus knew the major plot points. However, the original story is actually quite a bit different from the tv show’s version and there were things I genuinely liked about each. I didn’t really care for the middle part of the book where they leave Sherlock and Watson to further explain the back story of characters that I won’t name here, cause you know, spoilers. But at the same time, I think the backstory was necessary so overall, I did enjoy the book and I’ll definitely be reading more of Doyle’s Sherlock stories soon.
  2. Witches of East End by Melissa de la Cruz  Finished February 4, 2014 – It’s hard to judge this book fairly having already seen the Lifetime tv show based on the book, however loosely. There are some things about the show I liked better and some things I liked in the book, but having seen the show first I couldn’t help but prefer it. I found the characters on the show to be more fully fleshed out and well rounded and a little more likable to boot, but there were aspects to the book that I found really interesting and I love how it intersected with another of Cruz’s series, the Blue Blood books. The cliff hanger ending has me intrigued to read more, but maybe not right away.
  3. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant (February Book Club) – Finished February 17, 2014 – I’m glad I finally took the time to read this book – I started it once years ago and left it unfinished, balking at the complexity of the many stories being told in one book. I think appreciated it now more than I would have back then anyway. This is a fantastic story that touches on a lot of subjects that anyone can relate to – from being a mother to a daughter, a sister, a wife – hardships faced, adapting to new cultures and continually learning to pick up the pieces of our lives and start anew when needed. I think this will be a book that stays with me for a long time.
  4. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell – Finished February 19, 2014 – I read this book basically in one day – it was a mad, crazy, obsessive daylong reading spree in which putting the book down felt painful and wrong until I’d finished. My apologies to the children, husband and pets neglected on February 19, 2014.In many small ways, it felt like this book was written exactly for me – like the author had captured a piece of my soul and put it on paper. While I can’t necessarily relate to the WHOLE story (don’t have a twin sister or a psychologically diagnosed mental illness – also don’t write fanfiction and am significantly older than 18) – so much of it I could definitely relate to and I quickly found myself rooting for Cath and waiting for certain plot events to come about. I, simply put, loved this book and kinda wish I could read it all over again today. – Full Review –

Right now I am reading The Last Word, book six in the Spellman series by Lisa Lutz. I puffy hearts adore this series and it’s just the right mix of comforting familiar characters and relatively easy to read writing – but a story that likely won’t completely consume me which was a priority because I’m still trying to keep the story line of the Red Tent in mind until our book club meeting tomorrow night and I’m still reeling a little from Fangirl and I can only handle So Many riveting plots at once mentally. The Last Word is terrific so far (despite the shambles that Izzie seems to have found herself in once again) but I can mentally set it aside when necessary.

After I’ve finished that and the book club meeting tomorrow is behind me, I’ll likely pick up March’s book club pick, American Gods by Neil Gaiman, because at 624 pages it could likely take me awhile to finish and I want to give myself plenty of time. If I manage to finish it in time, I’ll likely pick up one of the following:

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell because seriously. No explanation needed.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs because the first chapter totally pulled me in when I picked it up a few days ago and I only put it down because it was pulling me in too much (see my paragraph above about the book I’m reading now).

The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle because it’s the next book in the kindle anthology that I’m slowly working my way through.

Or you know, one of the other 8 million books crowded around my nightstand, vying for my attention. And god forbid I break down and buy something new…

What’s on your nightstand right now?

books mama kat's writers workshop reviews

Book Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Normally I write my book reviews over at Things Momma Loves, in an effort to keep my personal blogging and my “materialistic fangirling / reviewing” separate from one another.

This is typically a place for me to brag incessantly about how cute my kids are and tell you about the last hilarious thing said by the four year old or seven year old – to complain bitterly about how my dog literally likes to bulldoze me and show me who is definitely not boss and to type sweet nothings about the tall, dark and handsome fellow in my life.

Over there I will wax philisophical about last night’s American Idol, obsess over the current state of Sherlock’s coat collar, debate the many differences, strengths and weaknesses of the various incarnations of The Doctor and tell you what book you HAVE TO READ IMMEDIATELY or we can’t be friends anymore.

I like to keep those two blogging worlds separate in an effort to define each space and make it easier for you guys to see more of the stuff that you want from me – or perhaps just to make my life harder. Who knows?


Today I’m making an exception for two reasons. One: Mama Kat just so happened to ask for book reviews in this week’s Writers Workshop Prompts. And two: I am still so mentally lost in the last book that I read that I really don’t want to talk about anything else anyway.

fangirl by rainbow rowell

I am fangirling you could say over Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. Everyone who is friends with me on Facebook saw that made abundantly clear when I spent 24 hours absolutely lost in the book, only coming up for air long enough to spazz out about it online for a few minutes before diving back in (okay and a few times I fed my children and acknowledged my dog, briefly).

This is a pretty appropriate book I think to respond this way to as the subject matter is all about being so hooked on a book that you would choose it over reality, but it’s also about SO MUCH MORE.

I feel like this book was tailor made for me – like the author looked into my soul and spilled the contents out on paper through the narrative of one Cather Avery, a girl with severe social anxiety, who is utterly devoted to the fandom of the Simon Snow series which will sound very much like Harry Potter to basically everybody.

When she’s not busy being a twin sister and shutin, she’s writing legendarily famous fanfiction that many people claim is better than the original. Oh also – she just started college to be an English Major and is kinda scared out of her mind at the prospect of living somewhere new and not sharing a room with her more outspoken, fun loving twin. And did I mention the social anxiety? It’s a fairly crippling problem throughout the book for her.

In many ways, this is your fairly standard coming of age story / love story. Certain aspects read as predictable in the way that if the author didn’t write it that way it simply wouldn’t work because this is how it goes. But the characters are so original and soooooo modern and so deeply formed that you can’t help but root for them, especially Cath. And I have left out SO MUCH about the plot because if I told you all the amazing, I’d basically be sitting here telling you the whole story.

This book reminded me of what it’s like to be a college student, a teenager, a girl in love for the first time, a writer, a daughter, a reader, a nerd, an often extremely anxious person – luckily not to the extreme of Cath, but enough that I read her struggles and totally “got” it and felt I understood her deeply. This book also taught me a lot of things that I didn’t know and opened me up to worlds and ideas I hadn’t yet considered. And it made me want to read some  fan fiction, like, immediately.

This book makes me want to blather on incessantly and shove copies of the books in peoples faces and just stamp my foot and wait for them to be done reading so we can all collectively go, “I know, right??????” together and then probably all retreat back into our own respective corners and over think whether or not we’ve made enough eye contact and how many minutes has it been since we spoke and did we lock the car door? I can’t remember but I’d probably better get up and check just to be sure…

Anyone else fangirling hard over Fangirl? Squealing and commentary totally welcome in the comments section.

Mama’s Losin’ It

motherhood photography wordless wednesday

ww: the many faces of BB

many faces of BB

mama kat's writers workshop

Je t’aime…


This week Mama Kat is unsurprisingly asking us to write about topics with the theme of love, valentines day and all things cupidish. Today I’m answering the writing prompt:

3.) 8 people/places/or things you’d like to give a virtual Valentine to.

So apart from my husband, kids, family, friends and other assorted loved ones that have OBVIOUSLY earned the world’s most cloyingly sweet handmade valentine with all the trimmings, here are 8 other recipients of my most recent adoration:

  1. latte loveMy local baristas for keeping me in a caffienated state of bliss throughout these cold, long winter months – I couldn’t do it without you guys. And the super pretty latte art isn’t hurting either!
  2. Those clever, clever folks at BBC for giving me some of my favorite television programs. My life has not been the same since discovering Sherlock, Doctor Who and occasionally Top Gear if only for Richard Hammond’s antics. You complete me.
  3. Tylenol – it’s been a painful month or two, what with my constant falling and hurting myself. Thanks for helping to dull that pain, every 6 hours or so.
  4. doc mcstuffins and bbDisney Junior – thanks for giving my kids strong role models to look up to even though they are only a handful of inches tall. Sofia the First, Doc McStuffins and all even Mickey the Mouse continue to set a good example to my kids on how to exist in this world, how to learn from it and how to sing a song while doing it.
  5. To the makers of the LEGO Movie (you know, LEGO) – thanks for getting that song stuck in my head. Before seeing your movie, I’d been on a constant loop of Do You Want To Build a Snowman, so hey, at least this is a break from that, though admittedly there are a lot less lines in this one. At least it’s ridiculously cheerful and upbeat.
  6. #1 Frozen FanSpeaking of building snowmen, thank you SO SO MUCH to Disney for putting out a Disney movie where the Happily Ever After doesn’t mean “And then she got the guy.” Frozen finally gives us a Princess we can all truly get behind (and a Queen, too!) while belting out fantastic songs and fangirling our little hearts out. You’ll be receiving my full thanks in a couple months when the DVD comes out.
  7. Much love goes to Buzzfeed for keeping me busy with cheesy personality quizzes and articles giving me 26 reasons why This Celeb is Worthy of us Obsessing Over and 13 Bookshelves Cooler Than Your Bookshelves and — you get the idea.
  8. Lastly, one valentine must go to those fantastic people who make chocolate. Because seriously. No explanation needed.

Who would you like to send a Valentine to tomorrow?

Mama’s Losin’ It

family fun motherhood photography

Maybe SHE’S the Special?

lego mania

“Look mom, this Lego Man has  two faces – a happy face and a grumpy face for in case he gets mad.” – – I think someone enjoyed the LEGO Movie. Lately BB is almost just as much into LEGOs and building as her brother. It’s so adorable watching her create things and interact with her creations – and watching the two of them play together.

Everything is awesome!! (she isn’t the only one who liked the movie)

family fun motherhood

CLEAN: a look at what exactly defines clean and tidy.


I was thinking about what is considered “clean” this weekend, while attempting to tidy up a bit before having friends over for dinner. “Clean” seems to vary depending on who is doing the cleaning and what the occasion is.

Cleaning the stove for me means wiping off all the gunk and maybe pulling out the fancy stove top cleaner gunk made by elves in the Forest of Naboo. For my husband it means pulling out a razor blade and some elbow grease. For my children? hahahahahahahahahahahahha

Vacuuming to my seven year old means picking up all the cheerios on the floor and making a halfhearted pass of the kitchen with our stick vac. To me, it usually means cleaning the edges of every room where most of the dirt migrates and moving the dogs crate to make sure all the hair gets picked up. To my husband, I vacuum like a girl and “should get out the actual vacuum and stop bending over with the hand vac to clean the house.”

And if company is coming over? The rules all change – toilets get scrubbed, towels get washed early and I suddenly notice a million dirty nooks and crannies that hadn’t been visible before. And if it’s someone like a mother in law or that friend whose house never looks as dirty as ours ever? See the graphic above and maybe buy a second bottle.

What does clean mean to you?

family fun motherhood photography

What morning looks like.


Yesterday I took a little time to document our morning in pictures – as part of a Photo a Day challenge I’m doing (more on that later). I thought I’d share with you the photos I took and give you a little peek into our morning.

I had a few minutes to spare in between the kids getting dressed for school and having to get them bundled up to head to the bus stop and decided to read a picture book to them that I got like forever ago and then forgot all about. It’s called Peaceful Piggy Meditation by Kerry Lee Maclean and it’s just a really cute, simple story that explains why people meditate and how to do it.

The book suggests meditating with your kids every day for up to ten minutes and gives a few ideas about how to explain meditation and make it more fun. The kids were really into the book and we spent a few minutes meditating before we got ready to leave. It definitely set a nice, calm tone to the morning and I’m seriously considering making it a permanent part of our routine.


Leaving behind the calm and zen of our home, we tumbled outside to discover a newly fallen winter wonderland. The kids couldn’t resist having a little impromptu snow ball fight and I tried not to be too much of a party pooper (though I may have failed, momma is not much of a morning person or a snow person).

I snuck in a few pictures of the kids while we waited for the bus.


I cannot get over how big she is getting – she will be starting kindergarten in the fall and will officially be going to school full time like her big brother. Craziness!


And my elder child, he is getting big, too – he sometimes gets the short end of the stick of my attention but I’ve been trying to dole it out more evenly these days and make sure both kids are getting what they need and want out of our days.

I think I do okay. They both boarded the bus happily, excited about beginning the part of their day that I don’t see – the part of their lives that I can only piece together from report cards, classroom visits and half coherent ramblings in the afternoon.

And I went back home to my morning ritual:


Coffee, peace, quiet and a little time to watch the tv shows that only mommy likes. I like to start my mornings slow and ease myself into the day’s tasks ahead of me rather than rush into the to do lists face on. I’ve found I’m much more productive when I allow myself a small amount of time to be lazy and indulgent first.

The rest of my day will look like cleaning dishes, making a crock pot meal for dinner, chasing after a giant one year old dog, fetching children off of buses, karate classes, homework, folding laundry and anything else the day throws my way as we go.

What do your mornings look like?

family fun motherhood photography

Bruno Mars, epic nerdiness and mustache photo ops.


We watched the Super Bowl with the kids this weekend, mostly because MM told us he wanted to. We aren’t big Football fans in general – we have a couple of teams that we root for mostly out of hometown loyalties and a general agreement that they tend to play well / have really awesome fans. But if they lose? Not a big deal.

And in this particular Super Bowl game we had no team we felt the need to root for. After about three minutes into the game we found out that MM only wanted to watch because he was REALLY excited to hear them sing the national anthem for some reason. So, no worries. He’s still totally related to his parents. Not that we consider the national anthem super exciting, but it was certainly more exciting than the game.

After about thirty minutes, it became clear that despite his best efforts, even MM wasn’t interested in this foot ball game in which not much was happening and we all collectively agreed to skip the game and watch the commercials – when does this EVER happen? There were definitely some funny ones and eventually we made it to half time and the kids had a blast dancing along to Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers (see above). Then we tucked them into bed and finished watching The Commercial Bowl with a Side of Football and then some thirty minute comedy.

We also watched The Puppy Bowl which the whole family agreed was adorable. Dan may have just been humoring the rest of us but then again, he is a big fan of dogs so maybe not. The kids declared that all the puppies were adorable but that our puppy is the best – so good news Doc, the kids are still crazy about you even after a year of you eating any toys left lying on the ground or too close to the edge of a table.

When we weren’t watching puppies play football and the Broncos pretend to play football, we also watched Star Trek with the kids and you know we are a truly dorky family because all four of us loved it – yes, even the four year old. I think this summer might be a three month long Star Trek marathon.

Oh and, this happened:mustache

There are worse ways to spend a Sunday afternoon.