What I want for Mother’s Day.

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Being a mother is a blessing. This I know. And I’m truly living the good life – we are healthy and have enough money to not worry too much but little enough that we have reason to strive and be conscious of our choices. We have a roof over our heads and though I might struggle to decide what to make for dinner, there is never a question of whether I can feed my children. They go to a good school, we have good friends, we are happy. What more could a mother want?

That’s the humble brag portion of  this post. There’s also the real stuff. My home is cluttered and sticky and shows real signs of a busy life. My husband and I are both working which means we are both tired and grumpy when we get home but we have to be grownups anyway. My children go to an awesome school but this means they have real, challenging homework and are often grumpy about it or we have to put on our Parent Voices and lecture about forgetfulness or commitment. We are not billionaires so sometimes we have to make tough adult choices like not buying that gadget we want because we need to replace the siding on our house or save for retirement, whatev. I can’t have any book I want apparently and every morning I have to wake up hours before my body wants to. This is life. It’s not a disaster, but it isn’t perfect and there is always room for improvement, small indulgences and wants.

Next Sunday the world will be celebrating moms and all we do. We’ll wax poetic about how children make our hearts grow three times their normal size and we’ll say that we don’t really want anything except a big hug. But we’re human so of course we want something. Here are some things I’d like for Mother’s Day (or any day, really):

  1. No breakfast in bed, please. I love the idea of not cooking a meal and I’m all for kids getting experience in the kitchen but nobody wants to clean milk and cereal or scrambled eggs off their bedsheets or watch their children wiggle up the stairs carrying a cup of coffee. Wake me up with a home cooked breakfast in the dining room (and then clean the kitchen afterwards) and I’ll be way happier.
  2. I’d love to not have to lecture you to be nice to your sibling or demand you clean your room or clear your dishes or finish your homework or whatever. This one might be asking too much but I’d love a day of zero nagging.
  3. IMG_20120511_131520I’ll admit, I love handmade gifts. Draw me cards or lavish me with tiny things you made for me at school or pictures you drew for me. I love it all – and I’ll admit that these are the gifts I’ll cherish most in the long run.
  4. Store bought gifts are great, too. I can’t help it – I love stuff and I’m pretty easy to please i.m.h.o. Let me loose in a book store. Or cater to my sweet tooth? Or buy me something pretty.
  5. Don’t ask me what’s for breakfast / lunch / dinner at all for 24 hours. That’s, literally, the dream right there.

Plus, you know, hugs and kisses and declarations of love. That stuff is good, too.

What I’m Into Lately: April 2015

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“We’re drawing what a volcano looks like on the inside and the outside, mom!” Like, for fun.

I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer to share What I’m Into Lately  – the books, music, tv, movies, food, websites, moments in life and photographs that have been making up the backdrop to my life this month.

What I’m watching

  • We’ve been watching a few newish shows lately. Last Man On Earth oscillates between fascinating, ridiculous, awful and inspiring. As much as the premise still intrigues, I hit the nail on the head the other day when I turned to my husband and said, “I don’t actually like anyone on this show.”
  • We’re also watching iZombie which was made by the folks that made Veronica Mars and it’s sometimes painfully obvious in the flow of the dialog and the overall feel of the show. Even the characters, if you think about it, are right out of the Veronica Mars Handbook. Petite sarcastic blonde who has been through a hard time and is now hell bent on solving crimes to make up for it but has to do so unconventionally. Perfect ex boyfriend who main character isn’t sure if she wants back or not. Jerky guy who might be a good person deep down somewhere but he’s so neck deep in his bad boy lifestyle that it’s hard to tell. Affable sidekick who likes main character in spite of her quirks. I could go on.
  • I’ve been watching Weird Loners on my days off and I’m still not sure if I like it or not but the characters are interesting and it’s just good enough to keep watching basically.
  • I made my way through Parks and Rec and Garfunkel and Oates and now I’m deciding which series on Netflix to get obsessed with next. Ideally, I’m looking for a comedy show that’s smarter than it seems with characters I can root for. I’m dabbling with The Office but feel compelled to watch the British one first. I haven’t fallen for it yet though so I’m still kind of playing the scene and trying not to just binge watch Friends again for fun.

What I’m reading

the girl with all the giftsThis month I read The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey. This book was kind of amazing. I really had no idea what I was getting myself into with this book when I started and I loved how the story seemed to kind of unfold itself as I read. The author did a great job of giving you just as much information as she wanted you to have as the story progressed. The characters were wonderfully fleshed out and the story lingered in my mind constantly throughout the day and probably will continue to do so for quite some time.

Yes Please by Amy PoehlerRight now I’m reading Yes Please by Amy Poehler which is kinda the opposite of the last book I read as far as tone goes. Poehler is basically my hero and the book is really well written with lots of fun little photos and old notes and stuff. There are funny observations on life as well as lots of stories about her career and life and it’s one of those books that makes you laugh and inspires you at the same time. I’m trying to read it slowly because I really don’t want to be not reading but I’ll need to get started on May’s book club pick soon so I’ll need to pick up the pace eventually.

In my kitchen

I can’t seem to find my kitchen – it’s buried under an ocean of oh crap we both have jobs now and apparently someone is supposed to cook and clean here. Sometimes I get it just cleaned enough to make dinner but it all somehow caves in again when I leave the room.

In my ears

My husband bought me a bluetooth speaker that I guess was designed to be used in the shower but I’ve been using it sporadically through the house so I can listen to sweet jams while doing the dishes on a better speaker than my phone which always sounds kind of tinny – or in my car for the same reason. I’m still mostly listening to John Mayer because you guys are like 15 years late for the intervention but I also listen to Gwen Stefani, Matchbox 20, Florence and the Machine, Rebecca Loebe, Paramore, Meghan Trainor, Taylor Swift, etc.

Speaking of the immensely talented Rebecca Loebe, she’s working on putting out a new album right now and my daughter appears in the video she recorded to announce her crowd funding campaign.

BB appears around 37 seconds in but you should watch the whole video because she talks a lot about why she makes music and it’s worth the listen. Then listen to her music. And fall in love with her. And live happily ever musically after.

Tabs open on my browser:

I’m still obsessed with this song by Garfunkel and Oates. The next time someone talks to me about sports, I might just stick this video in their face:

Or I’ll feign interest and offer them a snack. One of those.

After a convo with my blog partner Kimmy, I’m trying to give Twitter another shot. Sometimes Twitter feels like shouting into a void or trying to jump into a conversation you weren’t invited to that ended twelve hours ago and now everyone is talking about shoes instead. But I’m going to try again anyway because I’m persistent like that. You can follow me here. I’d follow you anywhere.

Next I’ll be attempting to understand tumblr. What social networking website baffles you? Let’s be brave together.

5 Tips For When You Are Mad / Sad.

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Yesterday my daughter woke up on the wrong side of the bed. It was like a flashback to 2010 with incessant, incoherent whining that just seemed to linger all day. We’ve all had days like this.

I talked to them about this on the ride to school – we all lose our cool when we get sad or mad (or mad sad) but screaming at people or sobbing in a puddle rarely helps us move forward. I shared with them some of my ideas for how to better cope when you feel like you are going to lose it.

Instead of screaming at that jerk, why not:

  1. Listen to some music. Sing out loud, dance, or just lose yourself to the tunes. Some people wallow in sad music, other people listen to something as perky as possible or just something with a great beat – whatever your choice of jams, it’s healthier than slapping someone.
  2. Write how you feel. There’s a reason I’m a blogger. Writing my feelings is very cathartic. Sometimes I publish those feelings so other people can chime in, sometimes it’s just for me. Either way, by the time I’m done writing, I usually feel better. I encouraged the kids to try this at home and maybe draw pictures, too (for the early writers, this might be easier).
  3. Take a deep breath. Do this first, actually. When my kids are approaching the deep end of a tantrum, I always tell them to stop and take a deep breath. I have them raise their hands above their head, take a deep breath and then slowly lower their hands as they release the breath. They may give you the side eye the first time you suggest it, but I promise, it almost always makes my kids feel better or at least calms them down enough to talk things out. If you are in a deep funk, try meditation or yoga.
  4. Or take a walk (or run, if that’s your thing). Really, whatever your preferred method of exercise, getting active and moving your body is a great way to clear your head. We talked about how I like to take a walk (and maybe listen to some music) when I’m in a bad mood – and bonus points, it’s really good for you – way better than telling your problems to a carton of cookie dough ice cream, unfortunately.
  5. Don’t forget to talk it out. Once you are calmed down enough to not throw a hissy fit, remember to talk to the person who upset you and tell them how you feel. I’m not talking about the blame game or ripping them a new one. I mean using your words like an adult and saying something like, “It hurt my feelings when you ________. Do you think that next time you could ___________.” If you aren’t ready for this conversation, talk it over with a trusted confidant first. Mom, dad, grandma or the smartest friend you know (etc.) are great people to turn to for advice here.

I wish I could say that there were no more hissy fits after our talk – in truth, while they were interested and motivated during our talk, BB still threw at least ten more tantrums that day. In all fairness, I think she is utterly exhausted and also five. But I’m hopeful that our talk might help them in the future.

How do you calm down when you are mad / sad?

Four.

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I’m self tagging myself in this fun little number game that I saw over at Brittany’s blog: The Lady Lawyer. You know I can’t resist an opportunity to talk about myself. I was totally that teenager pouring over all the quizzes in Teen Magazine so basically not much has changed.

4 Names People Call ME

  • Jen
  • Mom
  • MOMMMMMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Mrs. [insert my last name here]

4 Jobs I’ve Had

  • When I was in high school I worked at DEB Shops, selling teenagers and their mothers affordable cute clothing, ridiculously cute shoes and occasionally scooters and funny pens.
  • In college I worked at Circuit City in the merchandising department which basically meant that I stocked shelves and fixed price tags and helped out people looking at the little things that nobody gets commission for like cordless phones, computer memory, video games, computer keyboards and stuff.
  • I was still in college when I started working at a local bookstore during my summer and Christmas vacations. This book store is where I met my husband and serves as the backdrop of our love story. It’s also the bookstore my grandmother used to take me to when I was visiting – we’d get lunch there and split a dessert and she’d always let me get a book.
  • When I was pregnant with MM I worked a few temp jobs – one of them was a corrugated card board company that makes – yup, the middle wiggly cardboard sheets between the flat cardboard sheets – aka corrugated cardboard. My job consisted of mostly sitting in front of a computer and typing in numbers into the company’s software to record stuff – like I literally never got to type anything except the numbers 0-9. Sometimes I got to go out into the warehouse to verify a number and dodge fork lifts.

4 Movies I’ve Watched More Than Once

  • My bestie in high school and I used to watch 10 Things I Hate About You basically every day and it bordered on pathetic but man I still love that movie.
  • In college I seemed to watch Biodome at least that often and my husband would mention that this is even more ridiculous, especially the fact that I could basically quote the entire movie verbatim.
  • I’ve probably seen Clueless half a dozen times – it’s one of the movies that is always good for another reviewing, especially if it’s been awhile. Love Paul Rudd in the Early Years.
  • This is a more recent one but I’ve watched The Decoy Bride on netflix multiple times since first watching it. It’s both hysterical and heartwarming and quirky and also David Tennant and the girl who voiced Merida fall in love so basically it’s my favorite movie ever.

4 Books I Would Recommend

  • You absolutely must stop everything and read Cinder by Marissa Meyer but I’ll warn you that once you do, you are going to read all the other books immediately because the series is unputdownable. I waited way too long to follow Jean’s advice and read this one but I’m making up for it by pressuring everyone I know to read it.
  • Okay, now you need to read Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. I’ll wait.
  • Wow, you are a fast reader! Okay, have you read Lamb by Christopher Moore? This is basically Moore’s best and most iconic novel and it’s possible that most of my knowledge of the bible might have come from this book. Sorrynotsorry.
  • Listing just four beloved books is kind of torturous but off the top of my head, now I want you to read The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz because I adore her characters, her wit and her use of footnotes.

4 Places I’ve Lived

  • California
  • Massachusetts
  • Kentucky
  • Wisconsin

Four Places I Have Been

  • A gelato stand in Wurzburg, Germany which has excellent coconut gelato.
  • Behind the White House in Washington D.C.
  • A really sketchy coin op laundromat near Hershey Park, Pennsylvania
  • The Kancamagus Highway in the White Mountains

Four Places I Would Rather Be Now

  • On a European River Cruise exploring a beautiful country I’ve never seen before.
  • Curled up with a pile of good books on a beach in Hawaii.
  • On a tour of the Louvre in France and we’re going out for dessert at a chic cafe afterwards.
  • Seeing the Harry Potter park at Universal Studios in Florida (and taking the kids to Disney).

Four of my Favorite Foods

  • An amazing, creamy cheesecake with cherries
  • The biscuits at KFC
  • Deviled Eggs. Just cause.
  • Homemade peanut butter cookies with the criss cross fork design on top (mandatory)

Four TV Shows I Watch

  • The Big Bang Theory because I’m a nerd married to a nerd.
  • Brooklyn 99 because we are also SNL obsessed.
  • The Middle because the Heck family makes us feel better about ourselves.
  • Sherlock or Doctor Who when they bother airing new seasons.

Four Things I’m Looking Forward to This Year (2015)

  • Inside Out coming to theaters this summer.
  • Summer vacation! Camping with the family, Hershey Park, visiting fam in MA, all the things
  • Winter by Marissa Meyer coming out this fall. November 10, 2015 feels way too far away.
  • A new season of Doctor Who. When? When? WHEEEEENNNNNNNNNN?

Four Things I’m Always Saying

  • Flush the toilet!!! Wash your hands!!! Turn off the light!!!
  • These glasses come with a 90 day warranty that covers anything from damage to  simply changing your mind about the purchase. We do offer a one year warranty for just 30 dollars that gives you 15 months protection on any damage that could happen to the frame or the lenses.
  • It’s bed time! Stop talking! Turn off the lights! Go to sleep!
  • Put on your pope hat, straighten your vestments!

Four People I’m Passing this On To

First World Problems #387

A few weeks ago one of the tongs on my spaghetti server broke off.

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Without thinking too hard about it, my husband and I both came to the mutual conclusion that we might as well throw it out and buy a new one.  A minute later I realized that I actually had another one already that I kept in the junk drawer because nobody needs two spaghetti stirrers. The truth is, the one in the junk drawer is probably nicer – it’s certainly better looking and the plastic seems sturdier but I just don’t like it as much.

I said all this to my husband who reiterated that I should just buy a new one. But the thing is, they don’t seem to make spaghetti stirrers like they used to. It’s not that they aren’t as good – they are probably better to normal people. But I’ve been using that spaghetti stirrer for like 15 years and I’m used to it. I like that it’s smaller and a little more agile (read: not as sturdy).

And I know this is going to make my problem sound even more ridiculous, but this particular spaghetti stirrer was the perfect size for making ramen noodles on the stove in our tiny sauce pan. I could use a fork, truthfully, but then my husband gives me that look that says “I won’t be able to breathe until you are done and I know you have not scratched that pan.”

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And the other spaghetti stirrer is too big for the pot. It’s ridiculous. So clearly, I need to replace my old one – but I cannot find one anywhere. I check all the little cheap kitchen tool aisles in the grocery stores in our area as well as Target and the internets. I haven’t checked Walmart yet but I’m not holding my breath. All the spaghetti stirrers in existence today are too big or made out of stainless steel which would be like using a giant fork and my husband would literally explode.

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And truthfully, I don’t want a new spaghetti stirrer. I want my old one back. Sometimes a thing doesn’t need to be new and shiny to be the right thing for the job. I think we all probably have that old, tarnished looking spoon, tea kettle, coffee mug, husband that might not be as shiny and new as the ones at the store- and we could buy a new one or even ten new ones and we’d just keep on using our old one because it works just the way we like it. And when it breaks? We’re screwed. (Ladies, handle your husbands with care – you can’t buy ten more of them at IKEA).

So maybe it’s time to throw in the towel and say an RIP to the perfect spaghetti stirrer and just be really careful with that fork.  At this rate, it would be easier to replace the pan.

Take Your Kids To Work Day: 2015

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Last week was Take Your Kids To Work Day – a holiday that my husband’s place of employment tends to go all out for. We showed up with bells on and did copious amounts of arts and crafts and snacks and photo ops. When we left, I asked my daughter, “What do you think daddy does for work?”

“I have literally no idea,” she told me. I asked her to just guess based off the stuff we’d just done and she finally guessed, “Maybe they serve food?”

Here are pictures from Take Your Kids To Work Day 2014. Just to further confuse.

Idol Thoughts: Top 5

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This week the Top 5 was revealed on American Idol. I’ve had to say goodbye to a few favorites this week (loved Joey Cook and Qaasim Middleton) but overall I’m pretty pleased with how America has been voting. I’ve been voting this year, too, which is relatively new for me as I never really had time to vote before voting closed in years past. They’ve finally accepted the large amount of DVR viewers though and allowed us plenty of time to chime in with our opinions.

Here’s how I voted this week:

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They are doing the Round 1 / Round 2 thing now because there are so few contestants left to fill 2 hours and god forbid they cut down to one. I guess I like this though because there are contestants who basically bomb one round but absolutely slay another.

I thought Clark Beckham was overall strong in both rounds. I loved his first performance of Yesterday by The Beatles and although I’m not a big Biebster, I also liked his rendition of Boyfriend in round two – I disagree with the judges on this one. I liked his arrangement and I wish they would stop trying to change him. I did have to laugh at his interpetation of this week’s theme which was Arena Anthems – I think he just interpreted that as “really popular songs by these popular people” – but I digress.

Jax always wins me over. I adore her voice, so even though I honestly thought the energy in her first performance of Are You Gonna Be My Girl Guy by Jet was just off somehow – like the crowd wasn’t as amped as she was and I hate it when contestants change pronouns in songs – just own it, you know? But I love her voice so it still sounded good – and in round two she got back behind the piano where I love her and sang White Flag by Dido and it was just everything.

Rayvon was a lot more like the Rayvon I’ve known and loved from the beginning this week. His first performance blew me away and I was like “YES! HIM! THAT!!!!!!” after he finished singing  Sam Smith’s Not the Only One. I think it’s the first time he’s not smiled while singing and although I personally love his smiley songs, this was reallly good, too. I’ll be honest, his round two performance of Go Your Own Way was just meh for me for the most part until he’d get to the melody and you could actually hear him but it didn’t matter because round one was everything for me.

Now don’t get me wrong, I thought Quentin did really well this week – at least I  really enjoyed his interpreation of Shake it Out by Florence & The Machine which seemed weirdly perfect for him and I was pleased to see that he wasn’t acting like a thug that was about to mug Harry this week – and part of me sees him and thinks “He’s got that it factor!” but I’m not sure it’s an American Idol it factor at the end of the day so I wasn’t really disappointed to see him go.

Nick Fradiani is a conundrum for me because he seems like a sweet guy and he does have a good voice but he’s so one note to me – like he bores me to tears, honestly. I’m glad he’s doing well because he is working hard and “he’s got a great personality” but if I’m going to be honest with myself, I wouldn’t buy his CD.

I’m feeling guilty about not giving any votes to Tyanna because she has a princess name and she’s so talented but the truth is I didn’t like either of her song choices and I’m worried she’s petering out. I thought Party in the U.S.A. by Miley Cyrus sounded completely wrong for her voice and did her no favors because it’s shallow and vapid and she is clearly not – and then Heaven by Bryan Adams just seemed… too mature. She’s somewhere in the middle and she knows it and it felt like she was just trying to pander to other age groups / genres or something. I don’t know – it was just – off. But I’ll forgive her if she’s back next week and she probably will be.

Are you watching this season?

Who is your FAVE this week? Who are you ready to see go home?

jenloves

What D&D Character Would You Be?

I just played Dungeons and Dragons for the first time this weekend so expect an increase in blog fodder about D&D type things because that’s how I fangirl. My husband found this very lengthy quiz to help you find out what D&D character you would be if you were a character in D&D. Here are my results:

I Am A: Neutral Good Human Sorcerer (4th Level)

Ability Scores:

Strength-10

Dexterity-10

Constitution-9

Intelligence-14

Wisdom-14

Charisma-11

Alignment:
Neutral Good A neutral good character does the best that a good person can do. He is devoted to helping others. He works with kings and magistrates but does not feel beholden to them. Neutral good is the best alignment you can be because it means doing what is good without bias for or against order. However, neutral good can be a dangerous alignment when it advances mediocrity by limiting the actions of the truly capable.

Race:
Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Class:
Sorcerers are arcane spellcasters who manipulate magic energy with imagination and talent rather than studious discipline. They have no books, no mentors, no theories just raw power that they direct at will. Sorcerers know fewer spells than wizards do and acquire them more slowly, but they can cast individual spells more often and have no need to prepare their incantations ahead of time. Also unlike wizards, sorcerers cannot specialize in a school of magic. Since sorcerers gain their powers without undergoing the years of rigorous study that wizards go through, they have more time to learn fighting skills and are proficient with simple weapons. Charisma is very important for sorcerers; the higher their value in this ability, the higher the spell level they can cast.

Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus (e-mail)

And in case you needed to better understand alignments:

Or you have a burning need to relate everything in your life back to Parks and Rec, whatev.

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Parks and Rec isn’t your fandom of choice? I’m pretty sure google image search will lead you to the alignment chart of your preference – there seems to be something for everyone on this wonderful internet of ours.

jenloves

weekly geekly: 4.18.2015

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My list of awesome stuff to share with you guys was getting increasingly humongous so clearly a Weekly Geekly was in order. I’ve only got a few minutes before I need to run to work and make everyone look super stylish with their choice of spectacles – so let’s get cracking, shall we?

Ever stood in line at the coffee shop and thought “I could do their job – better, faster, stronger” – find out How long would you last as a Barista – no scalding water involved. – via buzzfeed

For your next U.S. Road Trip – 18 Literary Maps of the US at mental floss. Or if you are in Romania (as one does) check out this amazing magical bookstore at earthporm.com. 

“But guys, I’m in London!” Stop complaining and check out these 11 awesome stops for everyone’s Harry Potter dream vacay (one is actually in the US). – via mental floss

A cheat sheet for the dewey decimal so you can Library like a Boss. – via GeekMom

Want to teach your kids how to RPG? Geek Mom has you covered. I’m planning to try out Shadows with my kids soon.

And because I’m not quite done squealing: