family fun photography wordless wednesday

Wordless Wednesday: Scenes from hibernation | March 25, 2020

family fun mama kat's writers workshop

Writer’s Workshop: Keeping Busy And Staying Sane

One advantage to this whole mandatory hibernation is that I have more time for my hobbies and stuff. The blog is seeing more action than ever AND the kitchen has never been cleaner. Is this a dream? I’m linking up with Kat’s Pretty Much World Famous Writer’s Workshop today.

Here are the prompts you can choose from if you want to play along on your blog:

The Prompts:

1.  It’s been another week. Share an update about how your city/state is reacting to the Coronavirus.
2.  Write about what you occupy your time with when you need a break from current event news stories.
3. If you could go back in time and relive one year of your life, what year would you choose and why?
4. Write a blog post inspired by the word: home.
5.  Show us something beautiful!

Like I said, this week has been chock full of hobbies and productivity. Although I haven’t been avoiding Facebook as much as I should, I’ve been doing lots of other stuff that there normally doesn’t seem to be time for. Things like…

  • Baking banana bread with my ten year old
  • Going hiking with the family
  • Playing the D&D game my thirteen year old is running
  • Watercolor of course – love how this vase of flowers turned out:
  • Watching all the High School Musical movies with the girl
  • Watching the Marvel movies in chronological order, beginning with Captain America
  • Catching up on my book club book
  • Decluttering the office and organizing the bills
  • Challenging the kids to a 30 day Lego building competition
Day One of the 30 Day Lego Challenge
  • Lots of Mario Kart
  • Stargazing because bedtimes are non-existent
  • Hello Great British Baking Show
  • I ordered some new jigsaw puzzles for the very near future
  • And I’ve been bookmarking educational websites, YouTube channels and documentaries to watch with the kids next week (it’s supposed to be Spring Break this week so I’m just being Fun Mom for now)

What have you been up to this week? Tell me all about it in the comments section!

daybook family fun

Daybook: March 18, 2020 | The Great Hibernation of 2020 Edition

Bellinis with breakfast because 🤷‍♀️

Outside My Window: there is snow on the ground because Mother Nature thinks she is very very funny. The kids asked for a snow day this year. Does this count?

In all seriousness, this is supposed to be our Spring Break but like everyone else across the globe it seems, we are inside self quarantined indefinitely due to the Coronavirus situation. I have no idea when the kids will be able to return to school or we’ll be able to do little things like dine in a restaurant or see a movie. Trying to accept this new normal one day at a time.

We are very lucky to be relatively comfortable in this chaos. We are all healthy at the moment, we have enough food and my husband will be able to work from home. Currently my biggest problem is the care and keeping of a family of introverts.

I Am Hearing: the hum of the dishwasher in the kitchen and the kids upstairs playing with Legos because I’m a genius. Or a person with online access to geniuses.

I am Thinking: way too much really. I’m oscillating between everything’s fine and remembering something else we’ll need to reschedule. Karate classes have gone digital. The big piano recital is cancelled. The big end of year 8th grade trip is hovering in a state of uncertainty. My son turns 14 in 3 weeks and I’m not sure when we’ll officially celebrate with people other than our little foursome.

I am Reading: The Alice Network with my book club which is doing a decent job of putting things in perspective. While I worry about missing out on coffee with school moms, the characters in my book are dealing with world wars and espionage and the unfair treatment of women in the 1910’s-1940’s.

I’m also reading Don’t Overthink It by Anne Bogel on my Kindle and it’s almost laughable how timely it has found me. Of course my overthinking has taken on a more serious tone than usual, but the advice in the book has been helpful and often feels like Anne has been listening in on my conversations or something.

Week Recap: it’s been a weird week so far, that’s for sure! Going to the grocery store now constitutes an outing and alone time. We’ve watched Captain America, Toy Story 1 and 2, High School Musical 2 and 3 and we’re halfway through Season 6 of Doctor Who. We pulled out the telescope Monday night and went for a hike yesterday that seriously kicked my butt. I’ve been cleaning up a storm, finally filing a bunch of old bills, cleaning and decluttering the kitchen and the office. Planning to play Pandemic tonight with the kids because I can’t resist.

I’m looking forward to: things getting back to normal someday but also kind of enjoying the forced slow down. We’ll see how I feel about it next week though when the novelty has worn off.

Picture Thought:

books books & reading top 5 tuesday

Top 5 Tuesday : The Alphabet Challenge (KLMNO) Middle Grade Classics That Stand the Test of Time

It’s time for Top 5 Tuesday hosted by Bionic Bookworm and we’re still making our way through the alphabet challenge. For this week’s post I thought I’d share some favorite books from my childhood that hold up to the test of time (and one book that my kids love because there was bound to be a gap eventually). I’d recommend any of these for the bored tweens in your life that can only watch so much YouTube. Right?? Asking for a friend. 😉

I looooved this book as a kid and frankly I haven’t met anyone who didn’t. My kids read it for school and also loved it. Honestly I think I’m probably due for a reread.

“When suburban Claudia Kincaid decides to run away, she knows she doesn’t just want to run from somewhere, she wants to run to somewhere — to a place that is comfortable, beautiful, and, preferably, elegant. She chooses the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Knowing her younger brother Jamie has money and thus can help her with a serious cash-flow problem, she invites him along.

Once settled into the museum, Claudia and Jamie find themselves caught up in the mystery of an angel statue that the museum purchased at auction for a bargain price of $225. The statue is possibly an early work of the Renaissance master, Michelangelo, and therefore worth millions. Is it? Or isn’t it?

Claudia is determined to find out. Her quest leads her to Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, the remarkable old woman who sold the statue, and to some equally remarkable discoveries about herself.”

Thanks to the new movie, A Wrinkle in Time is gaining popularity again but the book is quite different from the movie and definitely worth a read if you haven’t gotten around to it.

It was a dark and stormy night.

Out of this wild night, a strange visitor comes to the Murry house and beckons Meg, her brother Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin O’Keefe on a most dangerous and extraordinary adventure – one that will threaten their lives and our universe.”

You can’t mention amazing children’s books and not talk about Anne of Green Gables. It’s absolutely quintessential and worth all the hype. I didn’t read this one until I was an adult but my inner child loves it completely.

As soon as Anne Shirley arrives at the snug white farmhouse called Green Gables, she is sure she wants to stay forever . . . but will the Cuthberts send her back to to the orphanage? Anne knows she’s not what they expected—a skinny girl with fiery red hair and a temper to match. If only she can convince them to let her stay, she’ll try very hard not to keep rushing headlong into scrapes and blurting out the first thing that comes to her mind. Anne is not like anyone else, the Cuthberts agree; she is special—a girl with an enormous imagination.”

I’m breaking the rules and mentioning two authors for the letter M because Childhood Jen probably read more of the Babysitter’s Club series than anything else in the entirety of my adolescence. I was 100% infatuated and tore my way through the 100+ book series at top speed. Despite my best efforts, I’ve only been able to hook my ten year old on the graphic novels which, to be fair, are pretty great.

Surprisingly I couldn’t come up with an author for the Letter N for this theme that I’ve read but I spotted Rascal by Sterling North and remembered that both my kids read and loved this one for school as well.

Nothing’s surprising in the North household, not even Sterling’s new pet raccoon. Rascal is only a baby when Sterling brings him home, but soon the two are best friends, doing everything together–until the spring day when everything suddenly changes.”

Last but not least is Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell which I recall being infatuated with when I was my daughter’s age.

In the Pacific there is an island that looks like a big fish sunning itself in the sea. Around it, blue dolphins swim, otters play, and sea elephants and sea birds abound. Once, Indians also lived on the island. And when they left and sailed to the east, one young girl was left behind. — This is the story of Karana, the Indian girl who lived alone for years on the Island of the Blue Dolphins. Year after year, she watched one season pass into another and waited for a ship to take her away. But while she waited, she kept herself alive by building shelter, making weapons, finding food, and fighting her enemies, the wild dogs.”

What are some of your childhood favorites?

books books & reading quick lit

Quick Lit | March 2020

It’s midway through March and perhaps the strangest March I’ve ever witnessed. We got word Friday night that the schools will be closed until April 5 in response to this whole Kovid-19 situation. But why talk about that when we could talk about books instead?

I’m linking up with Anne’s Quick Lit series to share the books I’ve read in the past month. That’s actually a pretty short list for me. I’ve finished two books but I really enjoyed them both so that’s a pretty good success rate.

My book club read and discussed Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman last month. This was my second attempt at reading the book, but I ended up really enjoying it this time. A few more chapters in and I finally got immersed enough to enjoy. I listened to the audio book at the recommendation of a friend and that also helped. The narrator’s accent was a delight. I will say that I did not love the big reveal at the end. It felt kind of forced and unsatisfying for me.

I also read I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella. This was my nightstand read in between listening to the book club audio book during the day. The premise of this book is borderline insane but once I got over that it was a lot of fun. The banter and chemistry is great and there’s a whole subplot that borders on action adventure. A crazy, fluffy delight.

Right now I’m reading The Alice Network by Kate Quinn, which will be our next book club discussion at the end of the month. Although it looks like it might have to be a virtual group chat discussion the way things are going! What a crazy time! Reading a book centering around World Wars helps to put things in perspective though. 😉

What are you ready right now?

books & reading top 5 tuesday

Top 5 Tuesday: The Alphabet Challenge: Favorite Authors from F to J

This month’s Top 5 Tuesday is dedicated to the alphabet. You can interpret that how you like, according to our host The Bionic Bookworm.

This week we are focusing on the letters F, G, H, I and J. I decided to share five of my favorite books by an author with the last name beginning with those letters – specifically the ones that aren’t already blowing up our RSS feed every week.

Easy enough? Let’s get to it then.

Jasper Fforde is the king of complex stories in a story with wacky details and characters and word play that will make your head spin. If you haven’t read his amazing Thursday Next series yet, start with The Eyre Affair.

I know everyone loves Neil Gaiman, but a lot of people don’t seem to know about this amazing children’s chapter book. Fortunately, The Milk is a fantastic read aloud that our family read in one sitting. It all centers around a dad who went out for milk one morning but is delayed getting back for some pretty fantastical reasons. Laugh out loud funny.

I read The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman with my book club several years ago and was blown away by the story, the writing, the characters – just everything. From

In 70 C.E., nine hundred Jews held out for months against armies of Romans on Masada, a mountain in the Judean desert. According to the ancient historian Josephus, two women and five children survived.”

My aunt was actually the one who turned me on to Eva Ibbotson, an amazing children’s book author with a flair for fantasy. This book, Island of the Aunts, is about a magical island that is home to creatures that would make Hagrid’s heart sing.

All’s Faire in Middle School is a graphic novel by Victoria Jamieson that centers around a girl who grows up in a family that works at Renaissance festivals who is starting middle school and finds the transition from home schooling to public school to be quite an adventure.

That’s my list. What would be on yours?

books & reading top 5 tuesday

Top 5 Tuesday | The Alphabet Challenge : TBR picks from ABCDE

This month’s Top 5 Tuesday is dedicated to the alphabet. You can interpret that how you like, according to our host The Bionic Bookworm. This week we are focusing on the letters A-E. I thought I’d share a book that I already own but haven’t read yet by an author for each letter.

So here are the 5 books I own that I’m most excited to read by author’s with a last name starting with A, B, C, D, and E.

I loved The Upside of Unrequited and I’ve been meaning to read Albertalli’s other books. I have this one on Kindle. Leah on the Offbeat is about a drummer with a usually solid friend group that is going through tough times.

Anne’s newest book, Don’t Overthink It, just came out today and I’m so excited to read it. I love her blog, The Modern Mrs. Darcy, and this book kind of looks like it was written specifically for me.

I’ve been meaning to read this book for ages but haven’t gotten around to it. This is the author of the Selection series. The Siren is about a siren who falls in love with a human. It sounds sort of Little Mermaid inspired and you know I love a good retelling.

This is another book that has been on my radar for years. Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George is about a magical castle that can rebuild itself. On Tuesdays it adds a new room, turret, or occasionally a new wing. When the king and queen are ambushed, it’s up to Celie to defend the castle.

Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw came in one of my Owl Crates and it’s a gorgeous book. Here’s the description from Amazon:

Be careful of the dark, dark wood…

Especially the woods surrounding the town of Fir Haven. Some say these woods are magical. Haunted, even.

Rumored to be a witch, only Nora Walker knows the truth. She and the Walker women before her have always shared a special connection with the woods. And it’s this special connection that leads Nora to Oliver Huntsman—the same boy who disappeared from the Camp for Wayward Boys weeks ago—and in the middle of the worst snowstorm in years. He should be dead, but here he is alive, and left in the woods with no memory of the time he’d been missing.”

Those are my 5! What would be on your list?

books & reading memes & carnivals

WWW Wednesday | February 12th

It’s Wednesday so I thought I’d play along with this linkup again. WWW was originally hosted by A Daily Rhythm and revived by Taking on a World of Words. This meme tries to answer the following three questions:

What are you currently reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

What did you finish recently reading?

I’m currently listening to Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman on audio. My book club is discussing it at the end of the month. I’m liking it so much more the second time around. I DNFed it pretty quickly the first time around being completely unable to relate to the main character. A couple chapters in, I started to realize why and it was a game changer.

I have a couple of books waiting for me at the library that I’ll probably look into reading next. Pretty in Punxsutawney by Laurie Boyle Crompton and If I’m Being Honest by Emily Wibberly. I’ve also been sitting on The Library Book by Susan Orlean that actually looks really promising as well.

I last finished reading Friendship To The Max, book 2 of the Lumberjanes graphic novels. These are a fun quick read. Lots of girl power, fantasy, mythology and humor. This is summer camp like you’ve never seen before.

What are you reading right now?

3 Good Things family fun IRL

3 Good Things for February 7th

A couple of years ago my kids and I started sharing three good things about our day before bed each night. It started as a way to help prevent negative dwelling on all the little things but has turned into a beloved bedtime tradition in our house.

Each kid shares with me (1) something they enjoyed, (2) something they are proud of, and (3) something they are looking forward to. Sometimes I help them out with ideas but these days they are getting pretty good at coming up with three things. They say that the more you focus on looking at the bright side, the easier it is to find. I have definitely found that to be true with this exercise. It’s easy to think of all the things that have gone wrong. Thinking about what’s gone right can sometimes take extra effort.

This week has really kicked my butt. Most of the family is currently fighting a headcold and trying to keep up with our packed schedule has been a challenge. I thought I’d take a minute to stop lamenting the week and share three good things of my own.

1. My hubby and I had an amazing date night recently. We had dinner at a Brazilian steakhouse where they walk around with platters of meat and you take what you like; along with a salad bar to rival all salad bars. We ate like royalty and then walked over to a great local art supply store where I spent a birthday gift card on copious amounts of watercolor paper and a travel watercolor kit.

2. I am really proud of some of my recent paintings. It feels very unnatural to brag about myself. I’m much better at bragging about my kids and I would love to tell you about all the great things they are accomplishing but we moms accomplish a lot too and we deserve praise also. I’ve tackled a few paintings that felt out of my depth this month and I’m proud of myself for seeing them through to a finished product.

3. You guys, I started a book club! I had this hair brained idea to start a super low pressure book club that puts an emphasis on fun and avoids rules or pressure. We’re reading along with Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine book club but starting at the beginning because we’re moms and we’re late to the party. We’re discussing the first book, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman at the end of the month and I’m so excited about how many of my friends joined and invited their friends and the vibe has been exactly what I hoped for – A bunch of amazing, fun women excited about getting together to talk about books. I can’t wait for the first meeting!

What 3 things would be on your list right now?