books & reading family fun what I'm into Lately

What I’m Into: July 2016


It’s hard to believe June is nearly over and yet June was so massively packed with memories and milestones and some other ‘m’ word that I’ll think of in twelve minutes that really June has had its time. Its ‘moment’ (haha I’m early) so to speak. I thought I’d link up with Leigh Kramer and share what I’ve been into this month so I can reflect on all this Juneishness before it’s gone.

Family Life in June

We had a mini spree of out of town visitors this month. Grandparents and aunts and beloved friends who sort of live here in town but sort of live out of the country, too. We’ve been savoring minutes with these loved ones while we can.

13428372_1222365251142043_7693615346012812468_nThe kids tried to put the Tooth Fairy out of business by losing like all of their teeth or like half a dozen between the two of them. Somehow my six year old still managed to have baby teeth dangling by a thread for long enough time spans that we almost went insane trying to get them out of her mouth without being arrested for child abuse.

We went camping for 5 nights and somehow I didn’t literally die of boredom and mosquito bites. (Also, the ten year old camped without us at cub scout camp for 3 days and everybody LIVED! Yay!) Three cheers for survival!

13522002_1238376852874216_6931038901941446514_nThe kids started swim lessons again this week and they are back with a vengeance this year. Both kids are totally dominating their lessons so far, especially BB who is making major strides finally when it comes to putting her head all the way under water and not clinging to people’s legs and making bunny faces instead of swimming.

Eating Delicious Things

I found a new favorite restaurant and went there like 5 times in nearly a month. Cafe Hollander is rocking my socks off, especially their breakfast menu. Yummmmmmm.

We crammed in a couple of date nights while my dad was in town and I had dim sum for the first time and was kind of in my glory. I didn’t like everything I tried but it really didn’t matter because it was just all about the experience and the company. And the little coconut dessert thingies.

I made one of my fave recipes this month, Korean Beef Bowls from Damn Delicious, but this time I mixed in some sauteed chopped Brussels sprouts and it was everything. I cooked them on the other burner while my meat was cooking and then mixed it all together in the end. ❤

We Watched Some Stuff

We saw a ton of movies this month! Between date nights, DVDs at home and family outings we saw X-Men: Apocalypse, Captain America: Civil War, Aladdin, Zoolander 2, Love & Friendship, Popstar, Me Before You, Finding Dory and Antman! Faves were probably X-Men, Me Before You and Finding Dory but all were great.

On the small screen, we’ve been catching up on our favorite Late Night shows (Colbert and Cordon), checking out the new Top Gear crew, and I’ve been watching this season’s Food Network Star. Plus a handful of the usual sitcoms.

Also, Game of Thrones is over for the year and I’m in mourning along with the rest of the world. We fell fast and hard for this show last year and now we’re all caught up and I’m not sure what to do with my Sundays now.

I’ve Been Reading Stuff, Too

13557661_1236868159691752_496203318574908783_nWhen I’m not taking pictures of like every book I own for instagram challenges, I read some of the books, too! This month I read:


  • REALLY LIKED Eligible by Curtis SittenfeldFinished June 7thI’m a sucker for Pride and Prejudice adaptations and thoroughly enjoyed this one. Sittenfeld took some interesting departures from the original but overall I think it was an excellent modernization. I would imagine some people might not enjoy a few liberties taken, especially P & P purists, but I thought it was a lot of fun.
  • REALLY LIKED Old World Murder by Kathleen Ernst Finished June 24th – I live in Wisconsin so it was a lot of fun reading a murder mystery that takes place in my state. Lots of local references to enjoy. Additionally, it’s a good and compelling story that took awhile to build but kept my interest and then consumed my interest in the second half. It ends on a cliff hanger that led to me immediately downloading the next book.
  • LIKED The Raven Boys by Maggie StiefvaterFinished June 29th – I’ll be honest, I didn’t love this as much as I was hoping too. I think the hype got the better of me. Something about the book kept me at arm’s length and I wasn’t able to really lose myself to the story. But it ended with a lot of questions still unanswered that have me considering reading the next book at some point. I liked a lot of aspects of this book, I just didn’t quite love it.

Right now I’m reading The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett which my book club will be discussing in July as well as A Circle of Quiet by Madeline L’Engle when I’m sitting by the pool at swim lessons and You’re Never Weird on the Internet (mostly) by Felicia Day because I’m impatient.

That’s about it for now – until July lovelies!


family fun motherhood

My Morning Routine: Keeping it Real


I was reading this article at Nutrition Stripped about how she creates her morning routine because don’t all mothers wish the mornings ran more smoothly? I definitely see room for improvement in mine. Her routine obviously sounds amazing but reading her article I noticed two things:

  1. Her morning routine starts at 5:00 a.m. Like intentionally. Anybody who knows me knows that this is laughable. My husband has tried to get me to wake up earlier but my body doesn’t acknowledge common sense that early. If I have to get up at 6am to get the kids to school by 7, most of that hour is technically still spent in bed. I’ve learned to shout commands with my eyes closed, literally.
  2. Throughout her morning of meditation, Matcha tea lattes, walks in the park and infrared sauna routines, I didn’t notice any children asking for cheerios or carefully planting LEGOS under her feet as she walked.

Now I’m not saying that having kids precludes having a relaxing morning routine. I know plenty of mommas that achieve this and most of them are those annoyingly clever early rising mommas. They are my heroes. But I am saying that our situations are a little different.

I still think my morning routine could use some improvement though. Here’s what it looks like during the summer:

giphy7:00am : My bed does the wave as my husband gets out of bed. Or maybe he’s been up for an hour and he’s lifting it up and down now to spite me. Who can say? He murmurs something about clever people waking up early and I throw the blankets over my head and try to pretend I don’t hear him.

giphy37:15am : Subconsciously I am awake now but my body cannot move yet. So I start mentally throwing together a to do list for the day or think about all the things I sucked at doing yesterday.

7:30am : My alarm goes off because good intentions. This makes me immediately exhausted so I hit snooze. Didn’t I, like, just fall asleep?

7:40am : I swear I just fell back to sleep but my alarm is going off again. How rude! I’ll press it just one more time, I swear

giphy47:50am – 8:20am : Somewhere in this time frame I give up the ghost because the kids are shouting under the door about things like Minecraft and oatmeal and how hard they can hit each other.

giphy58:30am : Acknowledge bladder. Stare at my empty closet and think about the laundry I need to fold. Find a shirt I don’t hate and put that on so that I can call myself dressed.

8:40am : COFFEE. I should eat breakfast, too, but I can’t think about that because I haven’t had coffee yet. I ask the kids if they have eaten and usually the answer is yes. I ask if they put their dishes in the sink or dishwasher and usually the answer is no. I goad them into chores and have them feed the dog if this hasn’t happened yet. My kids are independent rock stars, this was not an accident.

giphy6 8:50am : Find somewhere to sit and drink my coffee. Preference is usually for in my office so I can check my email or in the living room where I might catch up on an episode of tv. Either way, I will do this for at least half an hour  or until obligations present themselves. Every two minutes a child will ask to play Minecraft or use their kindles and I throw out alternate suggestions like reading or drawing pictures or doing jumping jacks until about the 8th request when I’m grumpy and give in.

giphy109:30am : My coffee is gone! We should do something productive like humans! Let’s get ready for swim lessons or go to the park or visit the library!!!! What do you mean you aren’t dressed yet? What have you been doing all morning? How did you lose one shoe? No you cannot wear that! You can’t be hungry, didn’t you just eat? Hurry up!

giphy89:50am : Halfway to wherever we are going I realize I didn’t eat breakfast and my socks don’t match.

So clearly there is room for improvement.

What does your morning routine look like?

ps: During the school year you can erase everything after 8:40am and move the time frame up an hour and a half.

family fun photography wordless wednesday

ww: a new little friend

a few seconds later it tried to crawl up her neck and she was not having it and intervention was necessary, but for a moment - it was all cuteness and instaworthy
a few seconds later it tried to crawl up her neck and she was not having it and intervention was necessary, but for a moment – it was all cuteness and instaworthy

You guys know I’m garbage at being “wordless”, yes?

family fun photography travel

5 Nights in the Woods: The Highs and Lows.

20160621_184337We just got back from the longest camping trip our family has ever taken so obviously I have a lot of things I want to tell you and a lot of pictures to share but I don’t want to overwhelm you guys with all the things so I’ll attempt brevity here.

You might be asking yourself, “What kind of crazy person would agree to sleep in a tent for five nights????” I know, right? But the idea came to me when I was trying to come to terms with my ten year old son going to a 3 night cub scout camp by himself that was a 2 hour drive away. Logical Jen said “he’ll be fine, he’ll have so much fun!!” but Anxiety Jen wasn’t having it and was dreading the idea of being so far away. She had lots of super sensible / shrieking insensible gibberish reasons for being apprehensive.

So the two Jens in my head worked together to find a compromise and that compromise was for the rest of us to take a camping trip of our own nearby so that we’d have a shorter drive if anything happened (nothing happened) and I’d be too busy to go all mopey zoo lion for three days (it worked). I didn’t want MM to miss out on our camping trip though so I added an extra two nights onto the trip so that we’d get some quality family time in with all four members of the family, too. My husband meanwhile heard, “Wanna go camping for 5 nights???” and was smart enough to jump on the opportunity before I came to my senses.

Annnnnyway, we went, we survived, there are pictures to share and stories to tell but here’s the cliffs notes version.

5 Best Things

1 – Wizard Quest : The first day of our trip we took the kids to Wizard Quest while we waited for our check in time at the campground. It’s kind of a labyrinth / scavenger hunt / puzzle that has you walking through a 13000 square quadrasphere (as they call it) solving riddles and puzzles and finding clues throughout the building. We played through the 75 minute beginners level and didn’t finish our mission but still had a great time. I recommend going with a mix of ages because you’ll want little kids to crawl through some of the little tunnels and tubes but you’ll need some big kids / adults to figure out some of the puzzles.


2 – Enjoying beautiful sunsets on the river. We stayed at the Holiday Shores campground in the Wisconsin Dells which is close in proximity to all of the local waterparks and tourist traps but nestled into the woods a bit and right next to the Upper Dells River which you can see in most of the pictures above. Our camp site was right on that river and we took full advantage. Dan and the kids did a bit of fishing and I took lots of pictures at sunset and it made a nice backdrop to all of our camping festivities. The camp ground has a beach area on the river also as well as boat rentals and more.

3 – We pretty much had the campground and the Dells area to ourselves. Camping during the week meant that the first four days were pretty low key. It wasn’t until Thursday night that things picked up and by Saturday it was so crowded at both the campground and the Wisconsin Dells area that we were kind of thrilled to be leaving which was honestly perfect timing. I will have to remember this for our next trip.

4 – We got a lot of quality one on one time with our six year old daughter. A fringe benefit to the whole cub scout camp thing was the ease of parenting just one child for basically the first time in nearly seven years. It was kind of a cakewalk by comparison, you know? We had a lot of fun playing mini golf at Pirate’s Cove, walking the Broadway strip, going to a paint ball range, getting ice cream and seeing Finding Dory together. I think she enjoyed being the center of attention for a few days.


5 – I walked an average of 10,000 step every day that we were there so I probably look like a super model now. I think 4,000 of those steps were probably going to the bathroom.

5 Worst Things

1 – Having to walk 5 minutes to the bathroom every time I had to pee or a child had to pee. Especially fun in the middle of the night. The best part about coming home was closer proximity to bathrooms, honestly.

2 – I spent a part of every day being either too hot or too cold and most days I experienced both. Thank god for bandanas, because I was a sweaty hot mess for most of the trip.


3 – When the campground did fill up, the constant stream of people definitely got to me. The campsites were decent sized but felt very pushed together once we got closer to the weekend. And we had some pretty noisy neighbors that kept us up a few nights. This is nothing new and pretty par for the course with camping.

4 – I went through cell phone battery packs like they were going out of style, and wasn’t really doing all that much. My phone and I were at war for much of the trip because every time we drove twenty minutes in any direction it decided I had no coverage and didn’t know where we were anymore until I restarted and then it was fine again. First world problems, I know.

5 – I slept in a tent for five nights. My back hates me.

books & reading family fun motherhood printable

Summer Reading B-I-N-G-O!

We have no shortage of summer reading programs here, some better than others (Barnes and Noble’s took roughly twelve minutes; a local used bookstore is strictly keeping track of minutes read which sounds like homework). We’re rolling deep in reading lists but when I saw this post at Mom’s Radius I couldn’t help myself. I dove headfirst into Picmonkey and created this:

summerreadingbingoYou can steal mine or you can make your own – it was really pretty easy. The hardest part was coming up with ideas to fill all the spaces. I changed them up a little bit for each kid to suit their age and interests. And of course there is a chance that my kids will say, “oh cool” and then forget all about it. That’s okay, too. Summertime and the livin’s easy, right?

game of thrones links news

Weekly Geekly: June 10th

Hey dudes,  it feels like it’s been forever but there are a few links I’ve been meaning to share with you so before my attention span flits in another direction…

This Mean Girls / Game of Thrones mashup made me seriously giggle. Just me?

A father’s day craft idea if you roll deep in Popsicle sticks like we do.

This video that explains how consensual sex works with a cup of tea has been making its way around the internet again in light of recent news. It’s hilarious and poignant and I kind of think it should be required watching.

On a lighter note, who wants to make summer bucket list charm bracelets with me?

Finally, does anyone else wish that all news was delivered via slow jams now?

family fun photography

Insta Lately: June 9th

We’re in the thick of summer vacation here which means life has been crazy and blogging time has been scarce. I thought I’d lean on my Instagram account to help me catch you guys up to date a little.

dim  sum anyone?
My dad came to visit us last week which meant Dan and I were able to squeeze in a couple of much needed date nights. Dim sum at a local restaurant was probably our favorite part.


eggs stir.... eggs stir...
I spent most of the month of May preparing for my friend’s baby shower – the little details kind of took over my life for awhile. But the shower itself was so lovely and we had so much fun. One of my favorite parts was decorating disposable diapers for her to giggle at at 2am diaper changes. We were lucky to have some amazing artists in the midst that day!


My latest read
I just finished reading Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld, a modern adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. I’m a sucker for a P&P adaptation and somewhat easy to please but I really enjoyed it. The author did take a few liberties with the plot that I wouldn’t be surprised if Austen purists were not pleased with.


sunny summer days = playground!
I took the kids to a new to us park this week and they had a blast exploring all the play structures. These were two favorites.


all she'll want for Christmas is her two front teeth back
We’ve been having major battles over those two front teeth that seemed to hang precariously in her mouth for freaking EVER but as of today both teeth have vacated the premise and we’re all thrilled and relieved. Until the next loose tooth! 😉


What have YOU been up to?

family fun

3 Day Quote Challenge: I don’t like choices.

I had a hard time choosing one final quote for Day 3 of my 3 Day Quote Challenge so I decided not to choose! Here are the 3 quotes that were just begging to be shared with you.

A semi-serious quote from Game of Thrones that completes me.


Another Parks and Rec gem that pretty much sums up my taste in wine:


And a quote from a dude I’ve never heard of who obviously understands women and cats perfectly:


So now it’s time to tag three friends to join the fun! I’m challenging:

Jean @ Working Momma 247

Kate @ Mom’s Radius

Betsy @ Betsy’s Random Assortment of Thoughts

(If you’re just tuning in, Go Mama O challenged me to a 3 Day Quote Challenge. The rules are stupid simple: Just post a favorite quote for 3 consecutive days and nominate three others to do the same!)

family fun

3 Day Quote Challenge: On Love

It’s Day Two of my 3 Day Quote Challenge. Today I’m sharing a gem from Parks and Rec about long distance relationships. Andy Dwyer is one of my favorite people ever basically.


Go Mama O challenged me to a 3 Day Quote Challenge. The rules are stupid simple: Just post a favorite quote for 3 consecutive days and nominate three others to do the same!