My Summer vs. My kids’ Summer

I’m linking up with Mama Kat’s writers workshop again this week. Her 5th prompt jumped out at me pretty much right away: Your summer vs. Your kids summer. I’m probably not alone in thinking that my summer looks pretty different from my kids’ summer. Not in a bad way, just different.

Their summer so far has looked like this:

copious photo ops at the zoo, camping  trips, swim lessons, backgammon at Grammy’s, boundless energy, ice cream everywhere, Icees and bowling with friends, video games for days and watermelon as big as your face (or dress)

My summer meanwhile has looked more like this…

Reading in the in between moments, watching swim lessons from the comfort of a beach chair in the shade, finding the perfect Moscato, eight million selfies with my fashionista soon to be eight year old, driving literally everywhere and making homemade pickles

Honestly, both summers look pretty awesome. I don’t even think I’m jealous of all the fun my kids are having because my summer has been pretty great all on its own. What about you?

What is your summer looking like this year? 

7 Brilliant Quotes from Margaret Atwood.

I first read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood in college. Okay fine, I read part of it – the whole novel wasn’t required for the class I read it in and then I got busy and didn’t get back to it even though I was seriously enjoying it at the time. Then I kept being busy and then I graduated, had babies, got married and got busier.

Spring forward to the Spring of 2017 and The Handmaid’s Tale has been turned into a tv series on Hulu!!! I finally get to go back to Offred’s world and hear her whole story and see it with my eyeballs. It’s heartbreaking and wonderful and has me feeling like all kinds of a Margaret Atwood fangirl. Somehow I fell down a spiral of looking up her other books on Amazon and then looking at famous quotes that she has said or written. And oh my goodness, they are good.

Here are 7 of my favorite quotes that make me wish I was into crocheting things on pillows.

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“Don’t let the bastards grind you down,” is one of many awesome quotes from The Handmaid’s Tale.

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“A word after a word after a word is power.” This is a line from Spelling – Poem.

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“Another belief of mine: that everyone else my age is an adult, whereas I am merely in disguise.” – from Cat’s Eye, 1988

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“You may not be able to alter reality, but you can alter your attitude towards it, and this, paradoxically, alters reality. Try it and see.” – This is a quote from a commencement speech given to graduating students at the University of Toronto in 1983.

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“We still think of a powerful man as a born leader and a powerful woman as an anomaly.” – Margaret Atwood

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“War is what happens when language fails.” – The Robber Bride, 1993

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“I would like to be the air that inhabits you for a moment only. I would like to be that unnoticed, and that necessary.” – Variation on the Word Sleep, from Selected Poems II: 1976-1986 by Margaret Atwood

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I’m linking up with Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop this week.

Answering the prompt: 6. Share a quote you love.

Let me know if you are playing along in the comments section!

Insta Recap: 4.27.17

One of Mama Kat’s prompts for this week’s Writers Workshop was to share a recent picture you shared on Instagram and tell us what you love about it. I have been posting to Instagram a lot lately and had a hard time narrowing it down so you get 5 recent stories inspired by my Instagram feed. Woohoo!!!

1 – A recent illustrated story by my 7 year old:

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I love this – it’s like a mix between Snow White and Belinda the Ballerina. I’d read that book.

2 – We bought a Purple mattress last week and it arrived on my doorstep…

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I mean it literally took up my entire doorstep so I decided to drag it inside before leaving to meet my husband for lunch – no easy feat! This thing weighs like a lot. But once I had it halfway through the door I pretty much had to suck it up and commit to the task. How proud did I feel afterwards? Like ridiculously so. I’ll write more about the mattress later, promise.

3 – I started taking a laptop to the coffee shop to write.

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I’m the one millionth person to find out that working in a coffee shop actually decreases my distractions – I feel less guilt about chores I could be working on and my little Chrome book is too slow to browse the internet but fast enough to load my one tab and let me write. Also the perk of a snack outside the house doesn’t hurt. I’m going to write over lunch today.

4 – I dyed my hair by myself and I love it.

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My last salon color was more subtle than I was expecting and I didn’t want to ask my husband for help again to fix it. I had a free couple of hours to kill the other day and splurged on this box of L’Oreal Colorista at Target that said I didn’t have to mix anything and that there were no ammonia fumes. Sold. 30 minutes and a slightly stained shower later and I have to say I’m loving it. It’s slightly subtle but way more noticeable. Exactly what I wanted and for the right price.

5 – Look what I found at Walmart the other day??

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Ree (aka The Pioneer Woman) wrote a new children’s book called Little Ree about her experience moving from the big city to a ranch farm but reimagined the story through the eyes of her childhood self. The end result is adorable. It’s similar in tone to her books about Charlie the ranch dog. I read it to my daughter’s class for library story time and they ate up the antics of Little Ree.

5 Apps To Hide in the Bathroom With.

 

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I know a lot of you are home with your kids on spring break right now and maybe you are nearing your breaking point. I mean, maybe you are off on a grand adventure and achieving pure bliss in between hair braiding and picture perfect family picnics – but just in case you are feeling the heavy weight of “when will I be able to watch my shows again and how are you still here???” I’m just saying if you are thinking about going to hide in the bathroom for seventy two hours…

How about a new game on your phone to get addicted to instead? I know we’re supposed to be patient and present and in the moment and smart phones are the worst or something, but whatever. Sometimes a mom needs five minutes with Solitaire to get the skip back in her step.

Here are 5 games on my phone* that I like to turn to when my daughter has been singing the same Moana song for eighteen hours / my son has literally not stopped talking about Minecraft since he woke up.

*I’m an Android girl so my apologies if you are living that Apple life and these games aren’t available — but usually they are on both stores, so definitely check!

We all have different game preferences and different situations call for a different fix.

If you want an artsy kind of puzzle:

Hungry Cat Picross is literally the best picross game you are going to find on your phone. I’m not trying to be Eleanore Exaggeration here. I literally downloaded all of them when I was running out of puzzles and they were all terrible. So save yourself the struggle / data usage and skip straight to this one. I’ve gotten several people hooked on this game. I’m not proud.

If you want to redecorate every day but like for free:

Design Home is the game I never knew I wanted to play. It’s literally designing rooms and then voting your favorite designs, buying virtual couches and potted plants and competing in design challenges. I am way too addicted.

If you are feeling nostaligic for middle school:

MASH is seriously an Android Game now and I won’t like, I made my 7 year old play with me – multiple times. I do wish there were less ads and more varied games but you know – nostalgia for the win. Break this one out when your little girls are getting antsy and need a distraction. Maybe your boys would like it, too, but I’m pretty sure my 11 year old would just roll his eyes at me like my husband did.

If you like hidden picture games:

Fantastic Beasts: Cases has two things going for it – the nerdgasm of Harry Potter universe references and a fun and unique game in its own right that is kind of somewhere between a hidden picture game and a mystery detective game. It may even help to tide you over until the next Fantastic Beasts movie.

 

If you want to take Solitaire to the next level:

Fairway Solitaire is probably the game I open the most frequently right now. It seriously takes Solitaire to new places and has just enough little goals and tasks to keep you checking back in throughout the day. Cute graphics, relatively speedy load times and not too many ads. Plus there is a sneaky gopher causing trouble, so.

What phone apps have you been hooked on lately?

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I’m linking up with Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop again. Let me know if you are playing along, too!

 

 

UN-Planning an 11th Birthday Party.

My son turns eleven tomorrow – hold on

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Sorry about that – and we’re throwing him a small party. I’m not sure if party is even the right word. He’s having two friends over for a sleepover that will mostly involve video games and eating food.

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The hardest part of planning this party is reminding myself I don’t really have anything to plan other than buying enough food for 3 tweenage boys.

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I’m not saying I have a record for throwing amazing, Pinterest-worthy birthday parties. ‘Cause no. But I do enjoy running with a good theme and picking out a corresponding menu and party favors, paper goods, etc.

Some moments from the highlight reel of MM’s birthday parties past:

The 5th Birthday Race Car Dinosaur Party. He really put us through our paces that year but with a minimalist bent, I pulled it off. This was his first birthday party in our current house and we made full use of our gigantic back yard.

The 7th Birthday Little Big Planet Party. In which he helped me make his birthday cake using a recipe that apparently all French children learn to bake cakes with. Which we then decorated with blue and green frosting in an attempt to make it look sort of like Earth. The kids made their own Sackboys and played lots of video games.

The 8th Birthday Doctor Who Party. Which I might have been more excited about than anyone else. I worked magic on invitations, I made TARDIS goodie bags and bought blue everything.

But now he’s turning Eleven.

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No, not that kind Eleven. Just the oh so grown up, this doesn’t really include you mom kind of Eleven. This year there is no theme except “we will play video games as late as humanly possible and maybe watch a movie and I want cake.” Hopefully I’m allowed in the room for some of it.

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Here are my ingredients for a sleepover for eleven year old boys:

  • Walking tacos – small bags of Doritos with taco fixings tossed on top and a salad so I feel like a mother.
  •  The most chocolatey of chocolate cakes – and I might put cherry pie filling between the cake layers because I’m craving cherries.
  • My step mom’s rotel cheese dip – with tortilla chips and probably some salsa, too.
  • Paper plates and napkins – actual color / pattern to be determined aka doesn’t matter.
  • Video games, movies, board games, sleeping bags, go away mom.

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PS: I’m linking up with Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop today. One of her prompts this week was a post inspired by the word party and well… yeah. Let me know if you are playing along on your blog. It’s a lot of fun and there are multiple writing prompts to choose from so even if you don’t have parties on the brain, she can hook you up.

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5 Favorite Musicians… Then and Now.

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This week for Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop I’ve decided to answer the following prompt:

Write a list of your 5 favorite singers growing up…do they still make your top 5 list?

I grew up in the Oregon Trail generation – I probably first started noticing music in the late eighties and started forming real opinions on the subject in the early nineties. The first CD I remember playing on repeat was Paula Abdul’s Forever Your Girl. I probably started listening to her because my father liked her music, but I quickly became hooked and would play the songs over and over until I’d memorized every line of every song.

Some other musicians that I adored growing up, in addition to Paula Abdul, include:

  • The Backstreet Boys: We all chose a side in the war of the Boy Bands in the nineties. I was firmly on team Backstreet and remain an ardent fan. It is a bitter pill to swallow to admit that the lead singer of NSYNC clearly made out with the best music career.
  • Matchbox 20: I loved this group more for the music than the love sick obsession. I can’t name a single member of the band but I still know basically every word to every song on Yourself or Someone Like You. I don’t know that I’d call them a favorite band today but that album is still heavily present on my Best Of playlist on my phone, unlike most of the other musicians in this list.
  • New Kids on The Block honestly came out a little early for me. I was on the young end of their fan spectrum, but I loved them. When they appeared on Fuller House this season I was shocked at how much they have aged and had a hard time mustering enthusiasm at their cameos on the episode UNTIL they started singing one of their songs in the concert at the end of the episode and I audibly squealed and had the world’s tiniest conniption fit.
  • John Mayer: The love affair began in college which is a little bit on the end of the growing up spectrum, but I still maintain that it counts because of the level of enthusiasm that my fandom took. This was my last Backstreet Boys Level Obsession and anyone who knows me well knows that it hasn’t actually ended. I still buy all of his music, no questions asked. His concert that I attended back in 2005 or so continues to be one of my favorite concerts that I’ve ever attended. I put up with a lot of Rock Star Personality and let all the antics slide because he is still probably my favorite musician.

Honorable mentions must go to LL Cool J, The Goo Goo Dolls, Barenaked Ladies, Ani Difranco, Usher, Britney Spears, Boys II Men, No Doubt, Sublime, J Lo, Maroon 5, Snoop Dogg and Sugar Ray.

My current list of Top 5 Musicians would be…

  1. John Mayer – see, even now as a grown ass woman he continues to hold that #1 spot.
  2. Rebecca Loebe – she was on The Voice very briefly but I’ve known her since college when she came to sing at my school’s coffee house.
  3. Taylor Swift – we’re big Swifties here – my daughter and I are especially obsessed with 1989.
  4. Adele because that voice. She’s basically my Paula Abdul of the 2000s.
  5. The Beatles because they are timeless and it feels wrong for them not to be on this list, honestly. There is never a bad moment to listen to a Beatles song.

Of course I could go on, my music taste continues to be eclectic and vast. But I think this is a pretty solid representation of my music habits.

8 Things I Accomplished This Week.

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This week has been less than productive in a lot of ways as I’ve been a little under the weather and laziness kind of became a priority. I’m behind on laundry, my kitchen has looked better and my husband cooked dinner two nights in a row (he’s such a keeper). So yeah. It’s been that kind of a week. But in the name of Positive Thinking, I decided to play along with Mama Kat’s last prompt for this week’s Writer’s Workshop and list some things I did accomplish this week in between huddling on my couch and drinking lots of water and tea and waiting to go to bed again.

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  1. 200w-5.gif.gifI signed my 7 year old up for a week of Trolls themed Ballet Camp this summer. My 10 year old will be doing a week of Scratch programming summer camp.
  2. Before my cold kicked into high gear, my team trivia group came in 3rd place after one heck of a game. I love our group because we have very eclectic knowledge spheres. When we join forces we can be unstoppable.
  3. I found out who my Whiskey Buddies were on one of those Facebook quizzes. Important stuff, guys.
  4. 200w-4.gif.gifI folded at least one load of laundry when my husband complained that he had nothing to wear. I left the other loads unfolded until eventually my ten year old decided it would be easier to take his clothes upstairs and fold them himself. Huzzah! The seven year old and I are still in a standoff. Who will blink first?
  5. 200w-2.gif.gifI took my dog to his grooming appointment when I really didn’t feel like it. I also picked him up from said appointment and picked up my kids from school and kept them all breathing until bedtime. Honestly, I think I deserve an award for this. Or at least some good chocolate.
  6. 200w-3.gif.gifI cleaned / organized my desk in my office – you have to accept my low standards of clean, but I can assure you – major progress was made. So many papers were recycled this week guys.
  7. I started counting my calories again. I’m not actually limiting them yet, I’m just kind of giving myself a starting out progress report before I dive in and join my husband in his new diet that seems to be working like… a thing that works really well. Seriously, I have to hurry up and lose weight before he gets all toned and hot without me.
  8. giphy3I made myself try on a whole bunch of jeans and then didn’t buy any of them because none of them were perfect. Even though they were on sale. Then I went to a bookstore where I didn’t buy any books. That’s its own kind of accomplishment, really.

I could probably go on, but I don’t want to brag too much about how awesome I am. Or do I? I mean if you have like an award that you’ve been waiting to give out, I get it. I’m kind of a big deal.

What have you accomplished this week?

Leave a comment and I’ll respond with enthusiastic cheering, okay?

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If 2017 looked like New Years Eve…

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This week Mama Kat wants to know: If the way you spent your New Year’s Eve is any indication of how the rest of the year will go, how would you say your future is looking right about now?

For us, it would look slightly blurry and upside but full of joy and wonder.

It would involve Doctor Who marathons, take out pizza and telling each other silly jokes. 2017 will look like saying yes to random fun but no to following through on traditions that leave us drained or don’t bring us true joy. It will involve a lot of family time and delicious breakfasts. Good chocolate and sweet wine.

What will 2017 look like for you?

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Insta Replay: It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas.

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We cut down our first Christmas tree at Hann’s Christmas Farm on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. We’ve been using fake trees the past ten years largely out of habit but Dan grew up with live trees and has always wanted to have that experience with our kids. When the lights on our pre-lit tree burned out last Christmas, I used it as an excuse to fill his wish this year. He was only a little giddy about it.

The weather was absolutely perfect that day – a slight breeze but still unnaturally warm for nearly December. We trekked through the Christmas Tree farm and looked at all the different varieties, finally settling on a Fraser Fir. I know nothing about tree varieties but it made me think of Outlander and that was good enough for me. I’m not proud. They also had a great playground and  free hot apple cider in the gift shop. We totally made a day of it.

We’ve got the decorating thing down by now. I put on my Christmas playlist and we pawed through the totes of awesome shatterproof ornaments and family ornaments. The kids love looking through the assortment that we’ve collected over the years – several of them date back to my childhood as well as Dan’s and many were made by the kids or purchased over the years.

This year we added two new ornaments to the tree, one a Shutterfly photo ornament with a family photo from last January. The other was made with a picture MM drew of a Sorry game board in art class that I was feeling very mom smitten with. His class uses a website called artsonia.com that sends out an email to parents and any other relatives that sign up to “follow” the kids and we get to see all the work they do in art class and order any photo gifts we like using the artwork. I think it came out really nice and the price was pretty reasonable, too.

When do you start decorating for Christmas? I told myself I was going to wait longer this year but I tend to start feeling festive and sentimental during the long Thanksgiving weekend. This year was no different.

Mama’s Losin’ ItHave you tried Mama Kat’s writer’s workshop yet?It’s basically the most awesomesauce thing ever.

So Very Thankful.

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I’m linking up with Mama Kat again for her pretty much world famous Writer’s Workshop. One of the prompts this week was to answer the questions for this So Very Thankful tag. I’m feeling kind of brain mushy today so a tag is perfect and what better post to write for Thanksgiving than a list of things I am thankful for! So.

1. Name a color you are thankful for. I am thankful for many colors for many reasons but the beautiful teal / aqua blue color tends to add a pop of something to some of my favorite things. And apparently a lot of the women in my family are digging on this color, so my good taste is in good company.
2. Something your spouse does that you are thankful for. Guys, my husband is basically the best thing ever and I’d be a hot mess without him. He knows literally everything, always makes me think harder than I’d normally do on my own so he’s making me smarter. He is the one who remembers when the water filter needs to be changed or the smoke detectors need new batteries. He knows how to clean all of our pots and pans and cookie sheets without ruining them and he’s tall and can reach things that are up high (even if they are out of reach because he put them there). And he’s super cute.
12705333_975640859151258_9213405653163498357_n3. Something your kids do that you are thankful for. Don’t be afraid to put your kids to work. Apparently I’ve become a master delegater since having children and I love it. My kids make their own breakfast, pack their own lunch, take care of most of the dog’s trips to the bathroom and feed him breakfast and dinner. I could go on, but eventually you’ll start asking yourself what exactly I do and nobody wants that.
4. A food you are thankful for. Chopped salads – they brought me back to salads when I was pretty much done with them. It turns out I don’t mind most veggies, I just need some crunch and substance to my veggies. Munching on giant leaves does nothing for me.
5. What recent good news are you thankful for? Let’s talk about news tomorrow.
6. Name a drink you are thankful for. I don’t think anyone would take my seriously if I didn’t say coffee, but I’ll add lactose free milk alternatives as the amazing thing that lets me keep drinking said coffee.
7. Name a restaurant you are thankful for. I’m writing this in the past but I’ll say I’m thankful for whichever restaurant ends up feeding us Thanksgiving dinner this year – actual restaurant to be determined. I’ll try to remember to update you guys later about who provides me with cranberry sauce and pie this year.
8. Talk about an animal you are thankful for. I’m probably supposed to name my dog here but I’ve got to be honest, he should be thankful for my extreme patience / glutton for punishment tendencies.
22734629. Name a beauty product you are thankful for. I’m thankful for the magical brush that doesn’t snag my daughter’s hair as much as most brushes so that we’re finally able to brush her rat’s nest mane of hair. Snaps to the Detangler from Ulta Beauty.
10. Name a cleaning product you are thankful for. Laundry soap pods because they are so easy to use that my seven year old can do the laundry now. Like I said, master delegater.
11. What social media platform are you thankful for? So I most enjoy using Instagram because ohhhh pretty pictures and yay for basically zero drama or stress in a social media platform, but Facebook boasts it’s track record for helping me stay connected to friends and family that live far away so I guess it still wins even though I frequently need to take cleansing breaks from it (particularly during elections).
12. Tell us why you are thankful for the last person who texted you. That would be my friend Abby who pretty much keeps me sane and has become my partner in crime these last couple years. Our kids are all friends, our husbands get along, and we can be messy less than perfect weirdos and still seem to want to hang out together any chance we get. That’s hard to find in this world.
nama-aulait_grande13. Name a candy you are thankful for. I don’t know whether to be thankful for Royce chocolates or despondent that it has kind of ruined other chocolates for me and has the audacity to be so difficult to come by. When I tried their Nama line in Vegas this summer it was like the ultimate bliss in chocolate form. I haven’t been the same since.
14. Name an app on your phone that you are thankful for. I just started using Habitica and I’m kind of loving it. It turns goal setting into a game where you get points for doing all the stuff you keep trying to do like exercise more or meditate or drink more water or check all those things off your to do list. It’s honor based and relatively open ended but you wouldn’t believe how many times I get dressed up cute or empty the dishwasher before bed mostly for the experience points. Whatever works, right?
15. What are you looking forward to that you are thankful for? We finally broke down and replaced our refrigerator because manually defrosting it every month was starting to get old (and be starting to, I mean…). I’m thankful that our new fridge is getting delivered on Friday.

What things are you thankful for? Feel free to share your answers in the comments section or send me a link to your blog’s responses. Happy Turkey Day guys!