Categories
books link up movies tv

What I’m Into Lately: March 2015

20150317_115053

March has felt a lot like spinning tea cups. It’s been a month of “hold on tight, this could get nauseating” mixed with a lot of fun. We went on a Spring Break vacation with the kids, stressed out over holes in the house, got my son his first pair of glasses and fought violently with our printer. The weather keeps switching between warm sun with a gentle breeze and brutally brisk winds and hail – sometimes both in the same day.

Here’s some of the stuff I’ve been into this month in between spinning around like a tea cup trying to balance work and home and after school activities, etc. I’m linking up with the lovely Leigh Kramer to share what I’m into right now.

BOOKS:

I’ve read four books this month. Two were really more like short stories but still – here’s what I’ve been reading and what I thought of each book.

  1. Carswell’s Guide to Being Lucky by Marissa Meyer – Finished March 4, 2015 – This is one of the free bridge books in the Lunar Chronicles. It was fun getting to read about Carswell ‘s back story from his POV. It actually made me like him a little more and was a nice return to the Lunar Chronicles while I wait for book 4 to come out. Very short short story so an easy, quick read.
  2. Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne CollinsFinished March 10, 2015 – When my 8 year old son insisted that I read this series, I couldn’t say no. It’s no surprise that Suzanne Collins has written another series that creates rabid fans. This story is adorable and inspiring and often gives ‘all the feels’ – It’s also a nice quick read for advanced readers and probably a challenging read for intermediate readers looking for a push. I’ll definitely be reading book two.full review
  3. Glitches by Marissa MeyerFinished March 12, 2015 – This is a prequel short story to Cinder that gives the reader a look at Cinder’s back story and how she came to live with her step family. I enjoyed getting a peek at a younger Cinder and reading about her initial impressions of her family, her life as a cyborg and learning about her talents and abilities.
  4. The Goddess Test by Aimee CarterFinished March 28, 2015 – I got sucked into this story pretty much immediately and found myself reading it whenever I could which resulted into staying up all night to finish the second half of the book even though I had to get up early for work the next day. So, basically, it was pretty darn good. I’m not an expert in Greek mythology; I noticed a lot of reviewers were pretty bent that it didn’t follow mythology correctly. I guess they didn’t notice that it was supposed to be a modern retelling that gives the original story a completely different spin. I thought it was extremely well written and found that the characters really tug at your heart strings and make you care. Well done!

15707124Right now I’m reading An Abundance of Katherines by John Green. I’ve been holding off on reading anything new by John Green out of an irrational fear that nothing could hold a candle to The Fault in Our Stars but I needn’t have worried. I’m enjoying this story and definitely planning to read more of his books soon.

TV:

Now that we’re caught up on Parks and Recreation (sniff), we’ve been going through the back log on our DVR which was all kinds of grateful to see us again. We started watching iZombie which is written by the same folks who made Veronica Mars which will be made blatantly obvious after you’ve watched the first episode. Jury is still out on whether I like the similarities or not.

We’ve also been watching Fresh off the Boat which is adorable if a little over acted. My husband loathes the theme song but loves the show and I’m inclined to agree although the music in the show brings back a lot of middle school memories for me.

I’m watching Girl Meets World with the kids and when Ryder Strong appeared on one of the last episodes I watched, I may have squealed like a little girl and my kids may have stared at me like I was very, very strange. I have no shame.

MOVIES:

We took the kids to see the new Cinderella and it was fantastic. I thought they did a good job of honoring the original but still bringing something new and untold to it. Lily James was an outstanding Cinderella and I loved Holliday Grainger and Cate Blanchett and Helena Bonham Carter and basically everybody. It was fun picking scenes out from the original Disney cartoon version and seeing them come to life and the twists and turns were wonderful. Funny, heartfelt, all the things.

I rented Lucy and The Other Woman this month. Lucy has a fascinating premise and of course Scar Jo is always fabulous and really the obvious choice for a “perfect woman” – I was impressed with her portrayal of a creepy intelligent super person as well as the nervous wreck normal girl she was at the beginning. And everyone loves Morgan Freeman and yes obviously he was terrific. But something about the story was almost too lofty to permeate. Like it didn’t really leave me feeling anything so much as observing.

The Other Woman is an absurd chick lit romp with Cameron Diaz at her finest and Leslie Mann and Kate Upton are also fantastic. For any girl who has ever been the other woman or found out about the other woman or who can simply commiserate based on being a human being with feelings – this one is funny, touching, inspiring, silly, smart, ridiculous. I’m not saying it was AMAZING but it was VERY GOOD. I’m not sure if your male significant others will appreciate it – maybe save it for a girls night so you can enjoy it without them.

MUSIC:

I just made a new playlist on my phone because I turned on my favorite playlist the other day and clicked on All About That Bass by Meghan Trainer and was totally feeling the vibe and then three sad, mellow songs in a row came on afterwards and I was like “Um, read the room Samsung.” So now I’ve got an upbeat mix that has some favorites like Don’t Stop Loving Me by Pomplamoose, Shake it Off by Taylor Swift, Thrift Shop by Macklemore, Fancy by Iggy Azalea, etc.

BLOGGED:

Read my thoughts on the first three books in the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer.

If you were the main character in the last book you read, what would you be doing right now?

My personal blog celebrated it’s 7th anniversary. Feel free to send me cake.

What have you been into lately?

jenloves

Categories
links

weekly geekly (3.27.15)

weeklygeekly

I’m all TGIF over here today. It’s been a long sniffly, coughing, sneezing week at my house with two kids that seem determined to hold onto the world’s tiniest cold for as long as possible. I’m grateful for two days of not having to worry if a minor case of the sniffles might keep my kids home from school again. While we celebrate surving another week of March, here are a few fantastically geeky things I found online this week.

You can read about how Nintendo conquered Manhattan in 1985 at Mental Floss: A cool look at the early history of video games.

Or check out this list of 40 Great Book Club Ideas at Modern Mrs. Darcy. My book club has read a few of these – this is a great resource for anyone trying to pick a good book to read with their book club.

Or maybe you want to watch this video of Tom Hanks and James Corden (the new host of The Late Late Show) reenact every Tom Hanks movie ever in 7 minutes.

Did you know that Terry Cruise is a Bad Assed Feminist – via MsMagazine: “I want to be clear that feminism is not saying ‘women are better than men.’ That’s not what’s going on … What it is is that we’re talking about is gender equality, true gender equality … but the problem is that men have always felt like they’re more valuable … I have been that guy where I felt I was more valuable than my wife and kids.”

Lastly, show of hands – who has this problem like all the time?

10463875_1002879559731034_2481690374176515112_n

Have a great weekend!

Categories
books

The Disney Song Tag Book Survey.

I couldn’t resist playing along with this Disney Song Tag that Romance Novels for the Beach shared recently. The premise is basically adorable – ten questions about books based off some of the most popular Disney songs. Most of these survey tags are basically the same so I was excited to see something with a different take on an old favorite. Wanna play along – I’m totally tagging you!

book one of the Lunar Chronicles1. A Whole New World: What is your favorite newest fantasy series? Obviously the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. I don’t think it’s escaped anyone’s notice that I’m seriously obsessed with this series. If you are confused by this statement, go read Cinder immediately and then come tell me how much I just changed your life.

2. Part of Your World: What book world would you like to live in? Oh that’s a tough one – I’m going to have to go with the Thursday Next series – being able to explore the Book World is basically the dream.

dress_color3. Let it Go: What book/series do you wish everyone would stop talking about? I guess 50 Shades of Grey but not in the sense that I have anything against the book or its fans – I’m just tired of hearing about the controversy – between the book and the movie, it’s become a constant source of news, angst and gossip that’s almost as annoying as #TheDress.

4. When You Wish Upon a Star: What book or series do you wish you could have more of? I wouldn’t mind some new actual Harry Potter novels. I think it’s cool that Rowling is doing like short stories and stuff online but I’d love some actual books picking up where the last book left off or maybe feauturing new wizards or grown up Potters.

5. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious: What is the longest book you have read? Probably Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. The mass market paperback on Amazon right now is 1472 pages which sounds about absurdly right.

160689056. Hakuna Matata: What book could you read over and over without a care in the world? Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell – or anything by Rainbow Rowell really. If I could just get an IV drip with a constant stream of her words, that’d be great.

7. A Spoonful of Sugar: What couple has the sweetest relationship? So many to choose from – Landen and Thursday, America and Maxon, Cath and Levi

sherlock-john-drunk8. You Got a Friend in Me: Who are the best “best friends?” Sherlock and Watson obviously.

9. Zero to Hero: What character wasn’t expected to be a hero? I think there are a lot of unlikely heroes out there like Stephanie Plum or Isabelle Spellman or Scarlet O’Hara or Katniss Everdeen. But once you have seen them as a hero, it’s hard to remember not seeing it.

10. You’ll Be in My Heart: What Character death made you cry the most? I think we’re probably all still upset about Dumbledore.

Tag, you’re it!

jenloves

Categories
books meme

My life just got a lot more interesting.

11008439_1002304533121870_3988193353553458472_n

And go!

Categories
books food and drink IRL movies parks and rec technology tv

Currently.

Here’s what I’m currently…

Reading:

7826803Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel for my book club on Wednesday. I’m only 1/3 through the book so my odds of finishing on time are not looking great. It took me awhile to get into this one but after the first 100 pages or so it starts to pick up. I’m still not crazy about the narration and sometimes the subject matter borders on too heavy for night time reading.

On nights when I need something lighter, I’ve been picking up John Green; I’ve read a couple chapters of An Abundance of Katherines as well as Paper Towns but have made little progress with either as I really am trying to focus on the book club pick.

Watching:

We took the kids to see the new Cinderella and it was fantastic. I thought they did a good job of honoring the original but still bringing something new and untold to it. Lily James was an outstanding Cinderella and I loved Holliday Grainger and Cate Blanchett and Helena Bonham Carter and basically everybody. It was fun picking scenes out from the original Disney cartoon version and seeing them come to life and the twists and turns were wonderful. Funny, heartfelt, all the things.

literallyWe’re watching Season Seven of Parks and Rec on demand right now. The menu for U-Verse’s On Demand is horrendous but getting to binge watch for free without waiting for the season to make it’s way to Netflix is worth it. I’m a little misty eyed at the thought of the show just being over but my DVR is all like “hurry up, I’m running out of room while I wait for you to move on from this addiction.” So.

I rented Lucy and The Other Woman this weekend. My thoughts:

Lucy has a fascinating premise and of course Scar Jo is always fabulous and really the obvious choice for a “perfect woman” – I was impressed with her portrayal of a creepy intelligent super person as well as the nervous wreck normal girl she was at the beginning. And everyone loves Morgan Freeman and yes obviously he was terrific. But something about the story was almost too lofty to permeate. Like it didn’t really leave me feeling anything so much as observing.

The Other Woman is an absurd chick lit romp with Cameron Diaz at her finest and Leslie Mann and Kate Upton are also fantastic. For any girl who has ever been the other woman or found out about the other woman or who can simply commiserate based on being a human being with feelings – this one is funny, touching, inspiring, silly, smart, ridiculous. I’m not saying it was AMAZING but it was VERY GOOD. I’m not sure if your male significant others will appreciate it – maybe save it for a girls night so you can enjoy it without them.

Eating:

20150227_203126I made apricot baked french toast using a recipe from Sheet Pan Suppers by Molly Gilbert. Being a family of four, there was more than enough for one meal. I thought it came out pretty good but I think I poured the milk a little too heavily.

We were on vacation for most of last week and found ourselves eating out a lot and eating a lot of convenience junk and amusement park food so our diets could use a bit of a cleanse right now. Also our refrigerator is filled to the brim with random leftovers, beverages and just random stuff so I am hesitant to buy any real food as I have nowhere to put it. I’m trying to turn all that random into meals so I can clear out space for healthy food.

Buying:

I broke down and designed new business cards on moo.com today – I’m terrifically pleased with the end result but assume that this means that some key piece of information about me is now going to change and render them unusable because that’s how this goes, right?

51rN7BEu4nLI just ordered book five of the Underland Chronicles for MM’s 9th birthday: Gregor and the Code of the Claw by Suzanne Collins. He is obsessed and fanboying all over the place and I couldn’t be prouder really.

MM has reached a new rite of passage. Last week we took him in for an eye exam and then bought his first pair of glasses. He’s still a little apprehensive about it but I’m just swooning over how adorable he looks in them. Damn right, my kids are rocking Ray Bans.

Researching:

41dFCedGRPLWe’re still seriously considering buying a color laser printer and saying good bye to our ink jet. My husband didn’t really “get” why I was so angsty towards it and agreed to sit and look at it and maybe fix the issues it was having. 30 minutes later I think he wanted to chuck it out the window, too.

Color laser printers are not all a great deal and there are a lot of different models and options out there, some more affordable than others. We’re currently leaning towards this one by Brother that seems to have decent PPM and has toner that gets an impressive yield. We’re still balking a little at the price but seeing how many pennies we can pinch together to make it happen. Because it isn’t an All in One, we’re considering either keeping the ink jet as a copy machine / scanner or maybe getting something like this. Or none of these things. You know.

What are you into right now?

jenloves

Categories
family fun motherhood

A Rite of Passage: His First Glasses

a rite of passage

I was in the 4th grade when I was told I needed glasses. I barely understood what I was walking into but I walked out with a death sentence.

Odds of Being Cool Now: Zero

I’m not sure if there were simply no stylish glasses to be found in the late 80’s-90’s or if a side effect to being basically poor was that we couldn’t afford anything that didn’t make me feel like a total dweeb but I know that my gawky phase began basically that day, at least from my perspective. 

Sometime in high school I decided that I wanted to be cool and that ditching the glasses was the only way to go about it. For a few weeks I shoved them into a pocket or purse and walked around in a blurry world where I couldn’t read the menus at Subway and I had to ask my friends if guys were cute or not – not a dating tactic I recommend, btw.

I’ve gotten over it. And glasses have gotten cuter. Frankly, I don’t like how I look without glasses anymore – they’ve become a mandatory accessory to every outfit and I’m at peace with it. I can read all the menus and I know my husband is cute. Life is good.

My husband was in a lecture at college, sitting in the back row. He leaned over one day and  grumbled to the person next to him that it would be super if the professor would focus the projector so everyone could see what was being projected. No surprise here, right? The person next to him said, “It’s totally in focus. You need glasses.”

An eye exam later and he was blown away – people can see individual LEAVES on trees? What?? He felt like Super Man with Super Vision and hasn’t looked back. No middle school memories of inferiority involved – glasses were not a big deal to him, just an excellent tool that he’s grateful to have.

This was what we found ourselves talking about on the drive home from our vacation. At some point I commented that MM’s time was probably coming if he got his vision from me. He’ll be starting 4th grade in the fall. Dan started quizzing him on reading license plates on the cars in front of us and was less than impressed with the results. I pointed out that the test wasn’t really all that indicative as moving vehicles were involved but signed him up for an eye exam anyway. I happen to work at an optometrist / glasses retailer after all – I have connections.

The next day he went in for an exam and I couldn’t help but relate as he nervously questioned all the things going on. “Why are we here?” “I can see fine!” “I don’t want to wear glasses.” My heart hurt but I told him not to worry and that everything would be fine.

After the auto refraction, I could see the writing on the wall. His measurements were already on par with his fathers – not horrible but not great. Then in the exam room he mentioned casually, “I can see fine in class – as long as I’m not in the back of the room. But don’t worry, we rotate every few months and right now I’m in the middle!” He saw this as definitive proof that he didn’t need glasses but a) it’s a small classroom and b) he could be moved to the back at any time and c) the autorefractor doesn’t lie. The kid needs glasses.

After dilation, we started to browse glasses. He was still vocally on the fence. He didn’t need them. He didn’t want them. He didn’t like how they looked. I kicked into sales mode and asked him all the things I’d ask anyone about glasses. I showed him plastic and metal frames. He begrudingly agreed that he’d rather have plastic. I found frames that fit his nose pretty well that were in colors he liked.

I sat him at a desk with six pairs and had him try them all on – which ones do you like the most? Which ones do you hate? What do you like about the ones you like? Eventually we had it narrowed down. I complimented him incessantly – you look great! Those are so cute! My coworkers rallied around us and threw in their compliments and opinions, too. We took pictures so he could see himself in glasses in pictures. We sent a picture of his favorite (above) to Dan who called back and agreed they were GREAT and to get them.

Somewhere along the process, MM started to come around a bit. He was faking the smile in the picture above but by the time he left he was mostly okay with the situation. I will admit – I’m nervous, too. Will the kids at school make fun of him? Probably some for sure. Will he be sensitive about it? Will he even wear them at all? How long until he breaks them? Or loses them? I know my son – I didn’t hesitate to buy that warranty – I’d have bought it anyway but for him I’d have bought two warranties if it helped. He, the absent minded professor.

But I also know that wearing glasses today is so different from when I was a kid. It’s almost cool now – lots of kids wear them, there are lots of cool styles and lots of kids wish they needed glasses because they come in so many cool styles – my daughter included. Maybe the teasing will be minimal. Maybe this won’t be a cool kid death sentence. Maybe it doesn’t matter either way.

My husband talked to him for awhile that night – he told him about that college class years ago and how much he LOVED wearing glasses because of how much better he could see. He made sure to talk up the fact that he didn’t think he needed them either until he saw what they could do for him. We assured MM that this was going to be a good thing and I think he’s starting to believe us.

It’s a rite of passage and it’s kind of scary but it doesn’t have to be a death sentence anymore. We’ve come a long way. And MM’s got an engineer and an optical salesperson on his side. And a store full of cool glasses.

The question is:

How long until I have to put that warranty to use? Any bets?

Categories
links

weekly geekly: the best of the interblag [3.22.15]

weeklygeekly

I just got back from a geektastic spring vacation with the family and I’m still getting back into some semblance of a normal routine. While I attempt to wake up and talk myself into doing laundry, here are some cool things I’ve seen or read online recently.

I kind of want to try this crazy coffee recipe at The Pioneer Woman but I’ll admit, I’m skeptical. Have you tried this before?

Here are 19 common expressions that came from Aesop’s fables. Basically every cliche thing you’ve ever said was written by Aesop. – via mental_floss

11043328_1619644574921943_4007366138312497545_o
via Words, Words, Words, And More Words

Which John Green novel are you? According to this Buzzfeed Quiz I’m An Abundance of Katherines:

You’re intelligent. Like, almost child prodigy intelligent. That being said, you don’t like to rub it in anyone’s face and you’re really chill about what a genius you are.

What French People in 1900 thought life would be like in 2000. Sign me up for the Whale Bus ride. -via mental_floss

1964902_1619606181592449_2760096851340442297_n
via words, words, words and more words

I just started following Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls on Facebook. It’s kind of like I’m friends with Leslie Knope basically.

Speaking of: Are you more like Tina Fey or Amy Poehler? I like this Buzzfeed quiz because everyone wins. I got Amy:

“You are a force of true good in this world, with optimism that inspires everyone around you. You seem to have boundless energy and tackle every goal with a level of grace that makes everyone wish they were more like you.”

Lastly, who else can relate to this?

11070515_1619606391592428_4653958362707611850_n
ALSO via words, words, words and more words

Happy Sunday!

Categories
family fun photography travel

Spring Break: Geeking out at the Wisconsin Dells

20150318_115912

We went on vacation this week. Our kids have spring break a few weeks before the rest of the town. A fringe benefit to private education is having Spring Break all to ourselves I guess. That and the stellar education and lack of common core. Whatev.

We stayed at the Mount Olympus Hotel Rome. I’m not sure I can recommend it in good conscience. We’ve been to better places. But that’s coming from the snooty grown ups who were like “These beds are uncomfortable” / “this indoor waterpark reeks of chlorine and the bottom of the pools feel like knives in my feet” / “stuff seems kinda run down” / “stop trying to upsell me” – that kinda stuff. My kids didn’t really notice any of that.

They noticed:

tea cups and slushees - a match made in heaven?
TEACUPS!!! (and bumper cars and go karts and laser tag and MORE)
slushee love
thank you God, for this delicious slushee
ready for the waterpark
Being able to go to the water park in March!!

So yeah the kids thought Mount Olympus was awesome. And at the end of the day, that’s what really matters. Dan and I decided to check out of some the tourist attractions we’ve ignored in the past because “there is so much to do right here at the hotel!!!” Without that excuse holding us back, we  finally checked out:

TOP SECRET

20150317_160120

This place is ridiculous in kind of a great way. They were running a discount that day so we all got in for $16. A lot of the hotels in the area have discounts for stuff like this, too. The premise is that in 2002 the White House somehow crash landed upside down in the Wisconsin Dells. Now it’s a tourist attraction. Like furniture is bolted hanging from the ceilings and there are weird creepy passages and famous historical guys lurking about. It’s campy entertainment and we kind of loved it. We also went to the…

Tommy Bartlett Exploratory

20150318_103817

More campy fun. This place is kinda like a kid’s science museum and kind of like a Star Wars rip off theme park. You barely know what you are walking into when you go inside and three hours later when you stumble back outside you will have no idea how so much time as gone by. But in addition to the silly Star Wars-esque robots there are tons of hands on science-y exhibits that the whole family geeked out over. Some highlights included:

pattern talk
attempting to create the same patterns by describing the pattern to each other

and:

muscle man
Lifting a 5,000 ton SUV using a giant lever system.

And of course the best part about going on vacation is how comfortable your bed feels when you finally get home!

Where is your favorite place to go on vacation with the family?

Categories
books

The Top 10 Books Feeling Neglected on My Nightstand

top10booksunread

I’ve been having a season of book hoarding – great books coming at me at discounts I can’t pass up because: books. It’s the usual song and dance number: so many books, so little time. Right now I have some sure to be amazing books waiting to get in line for an opportunity to be The Next Book Jen Goes Fangirl Over.

Contenders include:

  1. Yes Please by Amy Poehler – honestly how did I manage to buy this one and not read it immediately?
  2. The Woman Who Died A Lot by Jasper Fforde – the latest in the Thursday Next series. The last book was possibly the best to date so I’m pretty eager to see how this one stacks up.
  3. Geek Mom by Natania Barran – I’ve been referencing her blog like crazy so I couldn’t resist picking up a copy of her book which is actually a group effort, much like the blog.
  4. Veronica Mars: Kiss and Tell by Rob Thomas – I actually loved the first spin off book so I’m looking forward to book two. How have I not read this yet??
  5. The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion – Sequel to the Rosie Project, sure to be outstanding.
  6. The Color of Magic (Discworld Book 1) by Terry Pratchett because it’s time. It’s absurd that I haven’t read this series yet.
  7. Paper Towns by John Green – because I’ve been saying for forever that I need to read something else by John Green.
  8. The Happiness Project by Gretchin Rubin – I even started this one but had to put it down for a book club book and haven’t picked it back up yet and it’s making pouty faces at me about it.
  9. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak because I’m the only person left on the planet that hasn’t read this yet.
  10. Twisted Sisters by Jen Lancaster because I haven’t met a book by Jen Lancaster that I didn’t love and this shouldn’t be sitting unread on my nightstand. Period.

I could go on, because I’m a pathetic little book hoarder. My name is Jen and I’m addicted to good books.

jenloves