Categories
what I'm into Lately

What I’m Into Lately (August 2015)

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I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer again this month to share what I’ve been into in the month of August. This month was filled with summer fun and back to school momentum, all rolled up into one ball of busy. Let’s look back at the action, shall we?

What I’m Reading

I read four books this month – one young adult book, one more literary novel and two books in a delicious and nostalgic chick lit romance series.

  1. 6567453REALLY LIKED Looking for Alaska by John GreenFinished August 1, 2015 – This book was a roller coaster of emotion, which I guess I should have seen coming after TFIOS. I liked this but I didn’t quite love it – While I love how John Green creates his characters and navigates his stories, parts of this one were just hard to sink into.
  2. 11066234REALLY LIKED The Weird Sisters by Eleanor BrownFinished August 15, 2015 – I really enjoyed this. The POV was interesting and well done. I found the characters easy to root for, their family dynamic was both fascinating and believable. You’ll find yourself relating to all three of the sisters. I appreciated the moments that didn’t happen just as much as the moments that did.
  3. remember_when4REALLY LIKED Remember When by T. TorrestFinished August 25, 2015 – I had mixed feelings towards this book. I could relate to the main character, Layla, in a lot of ways but felt alienated by her sometimes also. She is a very complex character who often seems to have characteristics that are at odds with each other, which I suppose makes her pretty realistic, but as a reader it was sometimes hard to tell where she was coming from. The love story is adorable and the concept for the book is pretty unique – I found myself quickly hooked on the plot and downloaded the 2nd book almost immediately after finishing the first – so there you go! Note: This is a fairly graphic story – the characters in the book are pretty realistic, flawed teenagers who make some less than stellar choices. Which is pretty typical for real life but I probably wouldn’t recommend this book to a young teen. I think it is actually probably more likely to be enjoyed by older readers anyway – half the fun of this book is the 80’s references anyway!
  4. remember_when4LIKED Remember When 2 by T. TorrestFinished August 29, 2015 – This sequel picks up 10 years after the first books leaves off, so it’s now the year 2000 which should feel a lot more current and yet, if you think about it, it’s still 15 years ago! We were barely online back then! Layla has grown up a lot, but in my opinion she still has a lot of growing to do – she and Trip continue to make a lot of the same mistakes with each other and occasionally they were almost too frustrating, but I continue to root for them and you better believe I bought book three pretty much immediately after finishing this one.

Right now I’m kind of reading everything! I’m still knee deep in The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer, kind of still working on The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo but losing steam on it, if I’m going to be honest. I downloaded book 3 in the Remember When series but it was having trouble loading in my kindle app last night so I broke into Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen.

What I’m Watching

We finally caught up with the rest of the world and watched The Imitation Game this weekend, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Kiera Knightly. Yeah, it was everything – heart breaking and funny and brilliantly written – it gave me all the feels.

We also finished season one of Game of Thrones this month, slowly attempting to catch up with all of the cool kids. I was sort of shocked by the first episode, not at all convinced that this was my cup of tea, but I hung in there and now I’m impatiently waiting for our friends to get back from a vacation so that we can get started on season two (the downside to watching with friends, but worth it to have more people to squeal and cheer with). So basically, I’m that girl who suddenly says “Winter is coming” and “It is known” now like all the time and everyone else is like, “Welcome to the party, Jen. What took you so long?”

Somehow we fell behind big time on Castle and Bones last year so we are working our way back through before they start up again next month. We are 100% caught up on Castle and about 60% through the last season of Bones.

Is anyone else watching Top Model or Project Runway this season? I’m not sure who I’m rooting for yet on Top Model (but I can name several models I’m totally 100% done with) but I’m seriously loving Ashely and Candice on Runway.

We also rented Rock of Ages and The Incredible Burt Wonderstone which were both better than I was expecting. Rock of Ages had a great soundtrack and a funny, heartfelt story that was both occasionally predictable and often surprising. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone was fantastic – this one will appeal to the geek and misfit in all of us who have ever felt like we didn’t quite fit in.

I had a nostalgia overload watching the Backstreet Boys: Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of documentary – and I was surprised by how much I learned watching it! If you knew me in the 90’s, then you are aware that I was kind of a BSB super fan. I could order for these boys at McDonalds at gunpoint, knew all the songs and ton of useless trivia. This documentary gives you the grittier story that media didn’t really want us to know. It was fascinating.

What I’m Cooking

I made this slow cooker spiced porridge last night – sort of. I had to improvise a lot because I’m not good at following directions, like “buy all of these ingredients” – so in place of all those awesome fruits, I just used the dried cherries in my cabinet. And I may have forgotten to add the brown sugar all together but between the juicy dried cherries and a sprinkling of sugar the next morning over my bowl, it still came out super delicious.

This overnight refrigerator oatmeal also came out good – I ended up warming mine up in the microwave because apparently cold oatmeal does nothing for me – but it warmed up nicely after about 1 minute and tasted wonderful. My husband ate and enjoyed it still cold so clearly it works both ways.

DSC_9609We had dinner with some new friends and old last night and I brought my mother in law’s famous rum cake which always impresses and comes together so quickly it must be dark magic. I’d give you the recipe, but then I’d have to kill you.

I’m also continuing to love this Dude Mom recipe for sausage, potatoes and broccoli. And my husband continues to love when I make end of summer pasta with zucchini, summer squash and cherry tomatoes.

What We’re Up To (IRL)

The kids took a second session of swim classes after we got back from our summer vacation and continued to make leaps and bounds style improvement in their swim skills and water comfort level. MM went from being a pretty timid swimmer to water slide obsessed!

Dan and I celebrated our 9th anniversary of being married geeks. We got dinner at the Melting Pot (one of our favorite places) and saw Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (cause that’s how we do).

The kids started school this month and I’ve been reorganizing and purging in bits and stages this month in preparation for needing to be on my A Game this fall. I took down the little shelf Dan built a few years ago to put lunch boxes, etc. on – and stained it a nice cherry woodish color, then I hung some hooks all around it for jackets and hats, sweaters, etc.

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20150822_105521MM promoted to Level 3 purple belt which places him approximately halfway to earning his black belt – it’s crazy to think how far he’s come since we started talking karate classes two years ago.

I updated my computer to Windows 10 and it sounds like I was one of the lucky ones who didn’t have massive craziness surrounding the upgrade (like my husband whose laptop decided that it didn’t like his password anymore and made him start from scratch – what??

We played a lot of games this month. The kids and I are all hooked on Apples to Apples still and we got a couple expansion packs for Munchkin that added all new levels of craziness to an already insane game.

And lastly: Links I’m Loving

This buzzfeed video: the 5 types of parents – which one are you?

Things that will happen if I don’t take out my phone right now at The New Yorker

When Mike Melgaard won the Internet by angering people who were super angry at Target’s decision to remove gender specific labeling in some of their departments.

What I wish I knew when I started wearing glasses at Hello Giggles was perfection.

Instagram removed it’s square requirements and my life became complete.

Now you can visit Westeros and other Game of Thrones locales for the most epic vacation of all time.

This Vintage Moment wrote about how she is not an octopus and it was amazing.

Hello Natural shared 3 pretty & easy hairstyles and I immediately wanted to try all three.

Categories
comics

Just Discovered: Awful Hospital

I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole of another amazing online comic. It’s called Awful Hospital and it’s kind of brilliant. It was featured on Geek and Sundry recently which was testimony enough to make me check it out. It drew me in pretty quickly because of the bright, vibrant visuals and the unique (to me) set up.

source: bogleech.com/awfulhospital/
artwork by Jonathan Wojcik source: bogleech.com/awfulhospital/

Stylistically, it’s got a The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy vibe going on – as smartly pointed out by Matthew Charles over at Geek and Sundry. It is, frankly, a pretty gross comic – at first glance it just looks a little crazy pants. If a comic full of blood, guts, spleens and snot is not your cup of tea – well, I don’t blame you – that sounds like terrible tea. But somehow Jonathan Wojcik, the creator of the comic, manages to make the ickiest things seem pretty darn funny. And perhaps more importantly – the story his comic is telling is good enough to keep me interested between the ewwwwws.

I love the overall layout of the web comic and how it feels so immersive – through stylistic choices and added elements, Wojcik makes you feel like you are actually a part of the story as you are reading it – with titles that look like old text based computer games where you have to type in your desired action ; and social media-esque dialogue that sort of makes it look like you are reading a Facebook conversation between a green lady and a spinal column. Within the main body of the comic is a plethora of detail that you can take in with lots of small moments of brilliance in addition to the humor that can easily be enjoyed at a glance.

I’m only about 50 comics into the story, out of almost 400 to date so the comic is neither brand spanking new nor so old as to be intimidating to try to get caught up with. A nice place to join in.

Can’t get enough? You can follow Dr. Phage on twitter, too!

What’s your favorite web comic?

Categories
motherhood photography wordless wednesday

ww: first grade style

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Categories
comics super heroes videos

Vlog Kids: Favorite Super Hero

We’d love to know your answers to these questions, too – I know you’ve thought about it!

  1. Who is your favorite super hero? How come?
  2. Who is your least favorite super hero? Why?
  3. If you could have any super power, what would you choose?
Categories
family fun printable

First Day of School: First Grade and Fourth Grade (Free Printable)

It’s the first day of school here. I’m a little misty eyed. Or was that rejoicing with freedom? One of those for sure.

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The kids were totally ready. BB was up, dressed and bushy tail / bright eyed before either of her parents, MM not far behind.

When we got to school, she was so excited to see all of her friends and pretty much ready for me to leave immediately, but in a nice way.

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This kid was like a blink and you’ll miss him blur of readiness. He was downstairs and in his classroom, flocked by all of his friends before I had a chance to embarrass him with motherly affection.

This is why I get my kicks in at home before we get to school – here in the comfort of my brick wall background, I have their full attention. For a few minutes anyway.

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Want to use my printable? You can grab a download at my Facebook page 🙂 That’s right – I’m bribing you to follow me on Facebook – it’s where all the cool kids are!

When do your kiddos go back to school?

Are you excited or sad or feeling all bipolar about it like me?

Categories
links

Weekly Geekly: 8.21.2015

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What are you guys up to this weekend? We’re getting in our last hurrahs of the summer before the kids go back to school on Monday – hopefully the weather cooperates for a beach trip on Saturday, otherwise we’ll likely celebrate with a few Minecraft marathons or an epic game of Munchkin. Admittedly, there are worse ways to spend a weekend. In the meantime….

Haley Atwell (Agent Carter) wants to play Doctor Who and I have to say, I think she’d be awesome. (via comicbook.com) What other actresses do you think have what it takes to fly the Tardis?

Anne @ Modern Mrs. Darcy discusses: How do you decide which books to buy or borrow? I definitely need to start giving my local library more love (and Amazon less love perhaps?) but I’m usually a pretty impatient reader and tend to rely on used prices online or the used bookstores in our area to feed my reading fixes.

Jim Carrey and Hugh Jackman swap roles. Hilarity ensues. And apparently Sir Patrick Stewart does magic! (via Hello Giggles) Side note: James Corden has officially won me over as host of The Late Late Show (although I still miss Craigy Ferg completely) – who is your favorite Late Night host these days?

Geek and Sundry has the low down on three low budget video games worth checking out on Steam. Where do you do most of your gaming? PC? Playstation? XBox? Kitchen table?

I want to buy my kids all three of these picture books for grammar geeks (via Geek Mom). What is your favorite read aloud choice right now?

As a spectacled being, this post at Hello Giggles totally resonated with me. We’ve come a long way since I got my first pair of glasses in the 4th grade. These days kids want to wear glasses and they have a lot of great, stylish options to choose from!

Categories
games

Game Night: Our Favorites

20150818_130527 I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time watching Table Top videos at Geek & Sundry lately, amassing a fairly massive wishlist of games that I want someone to buy me for Christmas (or for Tuesday, I’m an equal opportunity gift receiver). My game cabinet situation would suggest that we already have tons of games to play; but as the kids get older and all of our interests evolve over time, our collection could use an update in my humble opinion.

Here’s what Game Night looks like in our home right now:

With the Kids

We’ve come a long way since Candy Land! Up until a couple years ago, I honestly didn’t like playing games with the kids because Candy Land, Shoots and Ladders, Memory Games, etc. kind of make me want to gouge my eyes out with a stick. Luckily, we’ve since found:

Apples to Apples Kids EditionI’m pretty much always game for a round of Apples to Apples in any format and the kids edition aimed for kids 7+ is a good fit for our kids right now. I finally have two strong readers in the house which means needing to be able to read cards to play is no longer a deal breaker. The downside: For some reason the Apples to Apples franchise does nothing for dh and he usually won’t play with us.

1908111_10100707199354036_2147324323191607054_nAquarius: This is a gorgeous tile card game, made by the folks who make Fluxx, that is kind of similar to dominoes. Each round players connect element cards to complete a secret goal. The game play is fast so it’s good for short attention spans and reading isn’t required, so even younger kids can play this one. Not enough strategy for dh, who again will not play.

Disney Princess Cupcake Game: This is my six year old daughter’s favorite game and of all the Disney games and games geared for little kids, it’s the least tedious. It’s easy enough that anyone can play, a small amount of skill and strategy is involved, it has a decent mechanic to keep the game moving forward and interesting and the gameplay i pretty quick.

MM The Classics: LIFE (Twists & Turns or the Classic Edition) has always been a big favorite of mine. I tend to prefer playing the electronic version with the kids because waiting for the 6 year old to count out the money is tedious but overall I think both games are fun. My husband prefers games like Monopoly or Risk which he is kind of cruelly good at playing. We have a pretty great Doctor Who Risk game that the whole family likes.

With Grown Up Friends

We’re pretty much game for anything (see what I did there?), but lately these are the games in constant rotation at our place:

FluxxThis is a current favorite in our home – you have to be up for a challenge as the rules in Fluxx are constantly in, well, flux. The way to win the game is constantly changing and it can get pretty crazy. I imagine we’ll be playing this one with the kids in a couple of years but right now it’s a bit over their head.

Munchkin: My nine year old son loves to play Munchkin with us when we have our friends over for a game night and after a few times playing, he’s gotten the hang of it. I sometimes get impatient waiting for him to look through all of his cards and decide what to do – and the game is pretty beyond my six year old – so this one isn’t really a perfect fit as a “family game” right now but as the kids get older, it’s only going to get better.

Cards Against Humanity: We know we’re in good company when we find friends to play this game with. This is somewhat similar to Apples to Apples and always good for a laugh, but it really only works if you are playing with a group of friends that are not easily offended. I cannot stress that enough. But for the rest of us who can giggle at the darkest of humor, this is a fan favorite.

Phase 10: My husband and I kind of fell in love over our mutual love of Phase 10. Okay, that’s not really true at all – but it certainly didn’t hurt. We are both kind of bosses at this game and love playing with people who have somehow never played it before because we get a sick thrill out of absolutely dominating at this game which is a sort of combination between Rummy and Uno.

Pitch: My in laws taught us how to play Pitch this summer and it has quickly become a favorite. My husband and I are pretty much always game for a card game and this one is a lot of fun. Best if you have a large enough group to play in teams, but totally doable with a group as small as three players.

Games I’m Scoping Out:

Pandemic: I’m fascinated by this idea of a collaborative game in which everyone wins or loses together. Pandemic looks challenging enough to hold my husband’s interest but the collaborative nature of the game might keep people from getting too competitive (sometimes Munchkin and Risk bring out the worst in us).

Zombie Dice: This is a quick dice playing game that takes about 10 to 20 minutes to play. It looks quick to learn and easy to play – I’m pretty sure the whole family could participate which is great.

Tsuro: This game looks kind of like Aquarius all grown up. Equally, if not more, gorgeous – this is a tile laying game where you place a tile and slide your stone along the path created, but other players’ paths can lead you in the wrong direction, or off the board entirely – making it a competitive and strategic game that I think might be more up my husband’s alley than Aquarius.

Forbidden Island (or Desert): This is another cooperative game that consists of tiles rather than a board. At first glance, this game looked really complicated but once it’s all set up, it actually seems fairly straight forward (but by no means easy – which is good, because easy tends to translate to my husband losing interest).

Betrayal at House on The HillI’m told that if you like Pandemic or Forbidden Island, that you’ll love this one which starts out with you and your friends exploring a creepy old house filled with all kinds of things that bump in the night, but then eventually it’s revealed that one of the players amongst you has betrayed everyone. I haven’t gotten around to watching the Table Top video for this one yet but it sounds promising.

What is your favorite game to play (with friends or with your kids)?

What should I add to my ever growing wish list?

Categories
family fun mama kat's writers workshop motherhood

#tbt Pictures from August (all of them)

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This week’s writing prompts at Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop are:

1. Throwback Thursday: Choose a photo from a previous August and write a poem or a blog post.
2. Who needs a vacation when you can spend your summer doing this…
3. List 8 things you’re looking forward to and/or list 8 things you are dreading about sending the kids back to school.
4. Write a blog post inspired by the word: deep.
5. Your childhood neighborhood.
6. List 10 things you love about the state you live in.

I’m a sucker for a trip down memory lane (and an opportunity to make a collage) so I decided to go with the first prompt. I dug deep into my archives and squealed at all the chubby cheeks, all the cuteness, all the feels.

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It started with these chubby cheeks  from MM’s baptism.

The “two fingers” was his signature comfort move for years.

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A year later, still with the chubbiest of cheeks, giving me all the feels in a kiddie pool for one.

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In 2008 the two fingers movement was still going strong and his big blue eyes continue to be everything. I’m not sure how I found enough arms to hug him tightly and take this picture at the same time. Maybe I am an octopus.

In 2009, the cuteness got some competition in the form of a sweet baby sister.

And the world was never the same.

In 2010 we were all like “aw, yeah fitness!” We got a bike trailer and adorable kids’ bike helmets and everything. And I started playing around with filters in my photography.

In 2011, the kids were moving so fast that I couldn’t get any pictures of them together. BB discovered the world of hair accessories and working her angles, MM continued to be his sweet smiling self and I became the paparazzi.

In 2012, I was all about reflective surfaces. I took my favorite zoo picture to date, started BB’s love affair with mirrors and discovered the beauty that is botanical gardens (and pictures of my daughter at botanical gardens).

In 2013 I discovered instagram and instagram filters and apparently lost my real camera. The children, luckily, did not lose their cuteness.

Last August, BB started kindergarten and both kids began school super early – their new school started in Mid August, at least 2 weeks before the rest of the town went back. Also, cuteness expanded to include this picture of both kids cuddling their “puppy”.

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And here they are this August – these are actually the only pictures I’ve taken of them this month. Perhaps it’s time to stop digging through the archives and start creating just a few more summer memories before school starts.

Check back in August of 2025 in which I become a puddle of sadness the mother of teenagers.

Categories
family fun wordless wednesday

Game Night: Apples to Apples Kids Edition

It was actually a game afternoon. Our plans for the day had been foiled by a car that opted not to play along with my intentions of going grocery shopping, so I had the brilliant idea to play some favorite games (we also played Connect Four and The Princess Cupcake Game) with the kids to distract us all (mainly me) from the car troubles and cancelled plans. Basically, mother of the year right here and not in the sarcastic sense.

I’ve been a fan of Apples to Apples for years so having the kids edition and children who are old enough to read is kind of fantastic because it means that Candy Land can finally have its (permanent) rest and game night (day) can be fun again. My favorite part is always the end, when I announce to them that all the green cards they’ve won are actually descriptions of themselves – they found this hilarious.

This isn’t a sponsored post btw. I’m pretty sure Mattel has no idea who I am.