The IRL Report: November 2017

I feel like I was a little lackadaisical with my posting last month. I’d like to say it’s because I’ve been uber plugged into life and enjoying all the little moments. While that was certainly true sometimes I think it’s also just that it keeps getting cold and gray which results in me hermiting in the living room with Hulu or sometimes hermiting at a coffee shop with small children and a warm drink. Also making up my own words like hermiting.

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I thought I’d share a few of the other things we’ve been doing this month that I haven’t mentioned here yet. Things like taking really long cold hikes in the middle of nowhere.

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So much enthusiasm. It cannot be contained.

Getting all touristy and posing with giant mammoths and cave men and stuff.

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And eating baking too many delicious cakes and cookies. Peanut butter cookies with candy in the middle continues to be one of my favorites.

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But I also ate some fancier cookies that someone else made and OMG it kind of completed me. I might need to dig for new recipes soon.

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What have you been up to lately?

Easy Last Minute Advent Idea: Holiday Jokes and Puns

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We have a beautiful advent calendar that was handmade for us by my sweet and talented step mom or Meme as my kids call her. It’s one of my favorite Christmas decorations but sometimes the stress to fill it with Pinterest worthy goodies / activities / treats / toys can be overwhelming. But why make things hard for ourselves?

Because my Super Mom Skill is delegating like a boss, I’m using the powers of Google and my laser printer and taking advantage of some clever bloggers who came before me. I decided on a theme – basically dad jokes holiday style – and then told Google about it and Google said, “Of course it exists already!” There are a lot of choices but these four were my favorites:

Four Free Printables for Advent / Holiday Jokes

Lindsay at Artsy Fartsy Mama whose adorable holiday themed jokes printables are so freaking adorable! Lindsay also shared 24 non-candy Advent ideas recently if you are looking for more great ideas.

Bianca at A Little Delightful shared holiday jokes to fill Christmas crackers a few years ago. They print out nice and small, about the size for a fortune cookie so if space is limited, these are perfect.

Leandrea at Coupons are Great shared some more adorable holiday jokes to tuck into your little ones’ lunch boxes. So even if you aren’t worried about Advent calendars right now, lunch box notes are another fun way to use these jokes!

MJ and Modern Parents Messy Kids has a whole advent calendar printable using, you guessed it, holiday jokes and puns! Apparently I’m not the first one to come up with this idea. If you don’t already have an Advent calendar and your looking at the calendar right now like OMG – just head straight here and download their printable and you are GOOD TO GO.

Does your family use an Advent calendar?

What are you filling your Advent calendar with?

What are you drinking while you fill it?

Happy Halloween!

I feel like it’s been Halloween for a good week and a half what with all the parties and trunk or treat festivities, but tonight is the actual Big Night and my kids are raring and ready to go.  When it comes to costumes, are you Team Scary or Team Sweet? We are probably somewhere in the middle but thanks to the wonders of photo editing, I can pretend my kids’ costumes are way more involved and creative than IRL.

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Thanks to Picmonkey.com for all the fun filters and overlays. Thanks to Target and Menards and our closets for the costumes. Thanks to watching too much Stranger Things for my creative direction. No worries, these horrifying creatures won’t be showing up on your door step tonight. You’ll actually be giving your candy to this:

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Although MM’s mask is approaching the world of scary costumes:

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Don’t be scurred. Just give them all your candy and no harm will befall you. Bonus points if there are Reese’s in there for mom.

Happy Halloween guys!

5 Halloween Costumes Ideas for Your Dog

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In case you haven’t already met him: This is my dog, Doctor E. Or Doc for short. Or sometimes: “Oh my god, shut up, we get it – the mail is here! Go lay down!” He’s a very handsome dude  for sure and he can be a lot of fun but I’ll be honest, the idea of dressing him up for Halloween is laughable at best. I mean – maybe on some level he’d think it was a fun idea but on all the other levels he’d either decide the costume was attacking him or that it was delicious. Either way, it’s going to be ripped to shreds. 

So to save myself the money for a costume that will be ruined in 5 minutes and the vet bill for when his Lemon of a Body can’t handle the toll that digesting said costume will wreak on his body… I decided to dress him up digitally instead. Just as cute and honestly about the same amount of effort, money and vet bills aside.

On the off chance that your dog is less insane than mine and wants to dress up for Halloween this year, feel free to steal my ideas and use them IRL. Also I’m jealous of your dog.

5 Costume Ideas for Your Halloween Loving Dog

IDEA #1 : Sketchy Musician Boyfriend Dog

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Is your dog a guitar playing ladies man with a heart of tequila? Help him dress the part this Halloween so he can score some canine tail. All you need are some cheesy sunglasses, a fake mustache, a tiny guitar and maybe some Axe body spray for bonus points. Walk behind him playing an awesome guitar solo on your iPhone and watch the chicks go crazy for him.

IDEA #2 Olympic Doggy Paddler

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If your dog lives for the pool and you have a pair of old goggles and a gold medal, you have everything you need for this costume. He totally won’t lose his mind when you try to put the goggles and swim cap on him, I promise.

IDEA #3 Rudolph the Red Nosed Retriever

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This costume is perfect if you are one of those people just waiting to put up their Christmas tree and start baking holiday cookies. All you need are tree branches and a red rubber nose (or red spray paint, no judgement here) and you are 100% good to go. Your dog can’t possibly hate it any more than the Grinch’s dog and if he happens to help save Christmas, well, it’s a good thing you were there.

IDEA #4 Have No Fear, Under Dog Is Here

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It is a good time to be a Comic Book Geek right now – There are dozens of Super Heroes for your dog to emulate for Halloween but I know my dog is definitely The Flash at heart when he’s whipping around the race track my house at 175 MPH. The BOOM and CRASH are already par for the course around here, so a Super Hero shield and mask are really just the next logical step. (Mask not shown here because my photo editing skills apparently have their limits.)

IDEA #5 The Doctor, Obviously

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I’m saving the obvious costume choice for last. My dog’s name sake may be playing it safe but honestly the costume is too cute for words. Bow ties are cool. Fezes are cool. We already have several sonic screw drivers lying around because #obsessed. Even if you didn’t name your dog after The Doctor, this would still be a cute costume and not too difficult to pull off (if you can keep your dog from pulling it all off anyway).

Would your pet wear a Halloween costume?

What costume idea would you put your pet in?

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I’m linking up with Mama Kat this week – you should, too!

9 of My Family’s Favorite Children’s Books

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I don’t think it’s any secret that our family loves to read. It’s a source of great pride that all four of us are “hiding under the cover with a flash light and a good book” kind of people. Perhaps the only thing I love more than reading a good book is finding other people a good book to read. So I thought I’d hop on a recent bandwagon of children’s book recommendations (Mommy Shorts has some great picks) and share with you some of our family favorites from the past ten years or so.

Board Books For Babies AKA The Books I Buy For Baby Showers

That’s Not My Bunny by Fiona Watt and Rachel Wells

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This is just one of like a dozen books by Usborne in which the reader flips through a series of bunnies (or dogs, cats, whatever) to find THEIR bunny. Each of the potential bunnies has a defining characteristic that you are encouraged to feel along the way. I love a good touch and feel book for the little ones and my kids were obsessed with this one. It’s a great first board book because there are not too many words, plenty of repetition and lots of bunnies to pet. Way easier than the petting zoo.

We’re Going On a Bear Hunt by Helen Oxenbury and Michael Rosen

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This is one of those books I have a tendency to buy for baby showers. It’s a delight to read out loud which is basically my number one requirement for children’s books. If I feel like I need to paraphrase to get through story time without losing my mind, you aren’t doing it right. This books nails it – it’s got that sweet spot of enough words to not feel brain numbingly simple but not so many that story time needs a glass of wine to get through. Which isn’t to say you can’t have a glass of wine, you just won’t need it to get through page one.

Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathman

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This was one of the few books that I managed to enjoy even after the 800th reading. My son could not get enough of this gorilla and his antics and just how clueless the zoo keeper is. It’s a very visual book so young non-readers will understand what’s going on before you even start reading but the words are good, too. Another well rounded winner for reading out loud.

Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You? by Dr. Seuss

51+BkXslZSL._SX367_BO1,204,203,200_I’ll be honest, this might be the only Dr. Seuss book that doesn’t make me want to run screaming for the hills. Most of his books have that “I need a glass of wine after the first page” quality but this one is awesome and everyone loves it. I fall into a rhythm with this one and still love reading it to babies now. I have the voices and cadence down and get annoyed when other people read it because they don’t do the sound effects right. Yes, I know, I’m a lot.

 

Picture Books You’ll Love More Than Your Kids

We Are In a Book by Mo Willems

51YSqwj-U2L._SX363_BO1,204,203,200_Mo Willems is basically a master of children’s literature and his Piggie and Elephant series is the one you need in your life when your kids start learning to read. There are like a dozen of them and they are all fantastic but this one is my favorite.

Your kids will laugh out loud as you read this to them – it’s one of those stories where the reader kind of becomes a character which is always makes for a lot of laughs. And the repetition is just the right amount to help with beginning readers but not so much that you find yourself dying inside as you read it.

Ladybug Girl by Jacky Davis and David Soman

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This is the first in a series of books about Lulu or Ladybug Girl. The illustrations are stunningly beautiful and kind of turn me into a puddle of emotions. This series captures childhood in a way that is remarkable to me and I have a tendency to gush about it.

This book has a tendency to bring out my inner child and makes for a very impactful story time.

 

The Monster At The End of This Book by Jon Stone and Mike Smollin

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Is there anyone alive who doesn’t love this book? My kids still get a kick out of this story. Heck, I still get a kick out of this story which I remember reading when I was a kid (like a few years ago). It’s kind of similar to the Piggie and Elephant books in the way they play with the fourth wall, bringing the reader into the story. The illustrations are awesome and you will hear Grover’s voice in your head when you are reading it (bonus points if you can pull off a good Grover voice out loud while reading it to your kids).

This one wins the nostalgia for days award in addition to just being an excellent book.

Literally Any Berenstain Bears book

61NKiO9R64LAny time I have some kind of life lesson or milestone that I’m trying to solidify for my kids, I have a tendency to turn to the Berenstain Bears because they have a book for literally any life situation from eating too much candy to talking to strangers to welcoming a new baby into the family. But they never really feel like one big long lecture full of bears. I loved this series as a kid and I’m so thrilled that my kids enjoyed it as much as I did.

I also love their easy reader series and highly recommend it to beginning readers.

Or Little Critter book

61H3NZ5BQ8L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_My kids love this series, too. I think we have one for every major holiday and I loved All By Myself because I think literally every kid in the universe can relate to this and every parent remembers this phase vividly. The illustrations are so sweet. I love looking to see what the mouse is doing on each page.

What are some of your family’s favorite children’s books?

What I’m Into: Fall 2017

I’ve been a tad bit neglectful of my poor little blog lately. I think this is typical when Fall gets into full swing and life just happens and happens and happens. I thought I’d touch base on what we’ve been up to for those of you following along at home and wondering where I’ve been. Show of hands?

LIVING

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I’ve been a field trip chaperoning machine this fall. And by that I mean “I’ve been on two field trips this month! Woah!” They were both pretty fun. BB’s class went to a local cemetery for a “ghost walk” where local actors portrayed Wisconsin residents involved in the Civil War who told the kids all about their lives. My daughter was particularly smitten with the ghost photographed above who was admittedly a captivating story teller and perhaps more importantly to BB was wearing a gorgeous dress.

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In typical Wisconsin fashion, October has no idea what temperature to be. We’ve been getting a healthy mix of sunny high seventies and dreary mid fifties. My wardrobe is very confused but the kids are just going with the flow.

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I went to my first paint nite with some friends this month and painted the lovely masterpiece photographed above. It’s now hanging in my living room and my kids are pretty sure I’m an up and coming artist. I’m happy to give you a tour of my “gallery” for a very reasonable price. The event was a lot of fun – the teacher was funny and well a good teacher.

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After ignoring my optometrist for ages about not wearing my glasses when I’m reading, I finally bought myself a little chain for my glasses so they can hang out when I’m not wearing them. They are basically the opposite of reading glasses because I like to be difficult.

EATING

My family has given emphatic praise to these recipes recently:

One Pot Stuffed Pepper Casserole from Damn Delicious (accurate)

Crispy Sheet Pan Gnocchi and Veggies from The Kitchn

WATCHING

 

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image source | http://www.thewrap.com

 

Are you guys Jeopardy fans? Can we talk about Austin because he’s seriously the most impressive human I’ve ever seen. I’m a few episodes behind so no spoilers but I love it when funny, clever people have success.

I’ve also been watching old Will & Grace reruns because I’m behind the times and enjoying all of my old favorites coming back for the fall like Big Bang Theory and The Good Place. What are you watching this fall?

READING

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My book club is discussing Before the Fall by Noah Hawley this month which has gotten a lot of good reviews. The first few paragraphs were a little stiff but now that I’ve settled into it I’m really enjoying it. It has a lot of different characters and stories to tell and the initial plot to suss out. Have you read this one? It seems like an ideal book to read on a dreary October afternoon.

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I’m also reading Anne Bogel’s new book, Reading People, and definitely loving that as well. I thought I was pretty familiar with personality types but even just a few chapters in I’ve already had several Ah Ha moments. Anne is really good at getting to the root of how to make your personality work for you.

I’m afraid I might be turning into one of those people who likes to preface my conversations with, “Well as an Introvert…” but hopefully my friends don’t get too annoyed with me. Speaking of personality types, my husband shared this gem with me and if you haven’t seen it yet, well…

So that’s been my life these days. What have you been into lately?

an ode to the summer: because all good things must come to an end

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the hazy glow of summertime has nearly reached its end

though the sweet taste of ice cream is still on our lips

 

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the fairy wings of summer are put away

memories full of music and laughter echo but fade

we can still remember the idle hours of yesterday

as we return to the steady rhythm of today

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we reached for the stars and gazed at the sun

(carefully)

 

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we ran wild, we danced without a care.

howled at the moon and posed with a bear.

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we languished idly when the moment felt right

as it often did.

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but now we’ve memed all the moments

 

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we’ve plunged all the depths

we’ve plenty of chlorine to rinse from our tresses

the beach bags are empty

the sunscreen’s run out.

we know what this means:

school’s in, summer’s out.


I’m linking up with Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop. I chose her first prompt this week: Your summer recap in a poem and pictures. Head to her blog for more fun!

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What I’m Into | August 2017

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September is finally here and I don’t know about you but I’m like: Finally. My kids went back to school two weeks ago so it’s felt like September to me for awhile now. The struggles of going back to school earlier than the rest of the city. #thestruggleisnotreal #itsbeenawesome #excepttheearlymornings

I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer to share what I’ve been into lately – books, movies, tv shows, recipes, life, etc.

Here’s what I’ve been up to lately.

READING

I read a ton of graphic novels last month based on classic novels and finished two actual regular type books, too.

the graphic novels

  1. Jane Eyre: The Graphic Novel by by Amy Corzine and Charlotte Brontë – Finished 8/8 – I had a hard time following the plot as I haven’t read the novel. I’d consider this a kind of cliffs note version of the original story but I enjoying the artwork and finished the book in one sitting.

  2. Anne of Green Gables: A Graphic Novel by by Mariah Marsden (Illustrations) and Brenna Thummler (Illustrations) and L.M. Montgomery – Finished 8/17 – This wasn’t a home run for me but not a total loss either. I enjoyed spending some time in Green Gables but I am not sure that someone new to this story would fall for it in quite the same way as you would the original. The pacing felt very fast and the illustrations were not always my favorite. But it was a quick read and a nice way to reexperience an old favorite.

  3. Manga Classics: Pride & Prejudice by Stacy King and Jane Austen – Finished 8/25 – Pride and Prejudice is one of my favorite novels and I tend to enjoy most adaptations of it. This was no different. I’ve read several graphic novel versions of classic novels now but this series of manga classics is my favorite. They go into just enough details and do a good job expressing the heart and essence of the original without feeling overly abridged. Plus the artwork is beautiful.

  4. Manga Classics: The Scarlet Letter by Stacy King and Nathaniel Hawthorne – Finished 8/28 – This is one of those classics that I loathed in high school and never actually finished so I thought it would be a good book to try in manga format. I think any effort to simplify Nathaniel Hawthorne is a good thing and definitely enjoyed this more than the original. The artwork is well done and you definitely get a good understanding of the story. It feels like the important details and the heart of the story are all intact. As for the actual story, it will probably never be a favorite of mine but I can understand its importance and even why it would be a good book to discuss in school.

regular type books

20603758Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – Finished 8/4 – I enjoyed this book but it took me awhile to finish. It felt very long and I picked it up and put it down a few times. I enjoyed all the 80’s pop culture references and the plot of the story. I can see why it’s being made into a movie. The main character has a lot of heart and it was just as much a coming of age story as it was a kind of scifi action adventure story.

24388326The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood – Finished 8/23 – This book can probably be best described as disturbing. I thought the premise was interesting and Atwood definitely took the story to places I didn’t see coming, but basically all the characters are terrible people and it definitely had scenes that made me squirm uncomfortably. Not for the faint of heart. (August Book Club Pick)

Right now I’m kind of floating between books. I haven’t really committed to anything yet. My book club will be reading Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance along with the UW Big Read program.

WATCHING

My husband and I have been making our way through Scrubs together. The kids and I watched a lot of Beat Shazam and Glitter Force before they went back to school. Now that they are in school during the day I have been catching up on The Handmaid’s Tale and watching the newest season of Project Runway. I also just watched season one of Glow on Netflix and OMG I was obsessed. Seriously soooo good. Also NO I have not watched the last Game of Thrones episode so please no spoilers!

Some movies we’ve watched recently:

The original Tron was a solid movie despite the achingly old fashioned vision of ultra modern technology. I think I spent a very large chunk of the movie OMGing over oh so young Jeff Bridges. Now we need to go back and watch the original.

I also finally watched Dirty Dancing and I don’t know what I was waiting for. It was actually way better than I was expecting for some reason.

LISTENING

I am borderline obsessed with Taylor Swift’s new song, Look What You Made Me Do. My husband borderline hates it. This seems to be one of those songs that divides the line between our musical tastes. What say you?

We were driving in the car yesterday and an older Ed Sheeran song was playing and my eleven year old was singing along in the backseat. I commented on it and my husband said, “Well yeah, he loves Ed Sheeran.” How did I not notice this? But then, we all love Ed Sheeran. And yet I have not gotten around to buying any of his music which seems absurd. I’m chalking it up to the music always been readily available on Top 40 – but is it more than that?

What songs do you end up purchasing like immediately and which ones do you always enjoy but never buy?

EATING

We made this cabbage and kielbasa skillet recipe from Budget Bytes over the weekend and my husband was basically writing love songs about it. Our other favorite kielbasa recipe is this one from Dude Mom with roasted potatoes and broccoli.

LOVING

We crammed in a lot of last minute summer fun last month – a trip to Dubuque to see the Mississippi River Museum, an afternoon at the Renaissance Faire and a day trip to one of our favorite state parks for some fishing and beach time.

52164268I found ballet flats at Target that my feet didn’t immediately hate for a price that didn’t make my heart hurt. I don’t think these are wear them all day flats (at least for me) but they seem to be solid wear for an hour or two around town flats.

I want to go to all of these hotels for book lovers. And like move in and live there forever.

And God Created Millennial Earth at McSweeney’s is the LOL you need today. And possibly the one you deserve.

This Buzzfeed Quiz will tell you which Babysitter’s Club member you are – it’s surprisingly accurate. It won’t just tell you who your favorite member is (because those are rarely the same person). I got Mallory – how about you?

So what have you been into lately?