The Difference A Year Makes.

One of Mama Kat’s prompts for this week’s Writer’s Workshop is to look back on a blog posts from this time last year and compare how things are different now…

I know, right?

I don’t think 2019 Jen could even fathom 2020 Jen’s life and that’s okay because I wouldn’t wish it on my worst alternate reality self. But if we can’t giggle about it and pretend it doesn’t hurt then the Rona Gremlins win. So here’s a post I wrote back in August of 2019 just before school was about to start.

I was giddy with anticipation about the kids going back to school soon because as much as I love my kids, being with them every day all day for a whole summer can be tough.

Here are some of the things I was looking forward to doing:

I can’t wait to go to the coffee shop and just get something for myself and only spend like $5. Which I still do sometimes during the summer but it earns me a stink eye from the Offspring.

I mean, I’d still love to go to the coffee shop by myself but I would love it even more if I could go inside without putting on a mask, applying hand sanitizer and spritzing myself with holy water.

It goes without saying that I can’t wait to go to Target alone, right?

God guys, remember when going to Target was fun? I want to pretend I enjoy my trips there now but it’s not easy when people are standing too close to me, I feel guilty for wanting to peruse the dollar bins and I can’t drink a pumpkin spice frapuccino through my mask while shopping.

Though I’ll admit, shopping for office supplies still kind of feels like this.

I have these grand ambitions to start exercising again.

Siggggghhhh that would be awesome if I wasn’t still recovering from this sprained ankle situation. I have grand ambitions now to walk without limping. Besides I’ve always been terrible at exercise. So at least 2020 Jen won’t be lying to herself.

I am pretty stoked to spend a significantly smaller portion of my day listening to my children bicker about whatever video game they have ambitions to play together.”

Oh, I might actually get this one – once we’re all back on a school schedule there will be much less time for video games and arguing about video games. Huzzah!

I have not watched much in the way of grownup movies or television in months.

Man, same 2019 Jen, same.


So I guess the moral of the story is the more things change, the more they stay the same.

or…

The grass is greener on the vaccinated non-quarantined side.

or…

Wash your hands, kids!

or…

I can’t think about that right now, I’ll think about it tomorrow…

WWW Wednesday | August 26th

It’s Wednesday so it’s time for WWW Wednesday. This is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words, where you answer three questions:

  • What did you recently finish?
  • What are you currently reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Miraculously I actually have enough to update you with since last week to justify a new post! Anyone else feel like they are either reading a million things a minute or slogging through one book for months with no middle ground? Just me?

Last Read

I’ve finished four books since last week! I finished Prose and Cons by Amanda Flower shortly after my last WWW post. I’m officially obsessed with this series.

I also finished reading The King’s Fifth by Scott O’Dell with time to spare before the school year starts! This one picked up in the second half with more action happening and I’d finally settled into the writing style. I’m looking forward to discussing it with my daughter next month.

And I read two children’s graphic novels recently at the insistence of said daughter. Karen’s Roller Skates, a BSC Little Sisters book that brought me right back to my childhood.

And Stargazing by Jen Wang which was way deeper than I was expecting but luckily had a happy ending. It’s another amazing graphic memoir for tweens – highly recommend.

Currently Reading

I’m continuing to read way too many books at once. My book club is discussing section one of Calm the F*ck Down by Sarah Knight tomorrow. Then we’ll read section 2 next month.

Since I finished The King’s Fifth, I started reading The Ghost at Tokaido Inn by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler, the second independent reader for our school year. I thought about waiting since I’m ahead of schedule but figured I aught to hold onto my momentum while I can. Especially in case my reading time diminishes once school starts.

I also started reading Homeschool Basics by my new idol, Kristi Clover, yesterday. I’ve been watching her videos on YouTube (among others) to get myself mentally and practically ready for this fall. So far this book seems like exactly what I needed. A mix of practical advice and encouragement.

And for my bedtime reading I’m absolutely devouring The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary. Like reading way way too late three nights in a row please send coffee kind of situation. Obsessed.

Next Up

I’m planning to start on book 3 of Amanda Flower’s magical bookshop series after I finish The Flatshare. Alternatively, I might read some of the other books I’ve been getting from the library. They have been sending them faster than I can read lately as all my holds seem to be coming through at once.

I am also keen to see what other books Beth O’Leary has written.


What about you? What books have you been spending time with lately?

WWW Wednesday | August 19, 2020

I thought I’d hop in on WWW Wednesday this week. This is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words, where you answer three questions:

  • What did you recently finish?
  • What are you currently reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Last Read

The last book I finished was The Unlikelies by Carrie Firestone

This book was heavier than I expected, but engrossing. I thought the premise was really interesting and the characters were so inspiring. We should all be Unlikelies.

Currently Reading

Right now I’m reading three different books. My book club is sloooowwwwly discussing Calm the F*ck Down by Sarah Knight over the rest of the year. We are not exactly overachievers lol but I’m excited to discuss the first couple chapters with them at the end of the month and the book seems super timely this year.

I’m also reading The King’s Fifth by Scott O’Dell which my daughter will be reading independently next month in our reading curriculum. I’m trying to stay one book ahead of her so that we can have good discussions.

And my current bedtime story is Prose and Cons by Amanda Flower, book two of her magical bookshop series. I’m kind of obsessed with this series and planning to deep dive into her backlist.

Next Up

When I finish The King’s Fifth, I’ll start reading The Ghost of Tokaido Inn by Dorothy Hoobler. I also plan to read Stargazing by Jen Wang soon – a graphic novel that my eleven year old just put in my hands. And I’ve already got the next magical bookshop book, Murders and Metaphors, on my nightstand.


What are you reading right now?

wordless wednesday | pictures of june

When I look back on this time someday, these are the things I hope to remember. Not how Facebook was driving me crazy or how much I hate group texts or how much I miss that sense of normalcy that we’ve always taken for granted. I want to remember the beautiful moments that we found when we were forced to slow down and focus on home.

doodling along with some favorite illustrators on youtube - we love Studio JJK and Mo Willems!
doodling along with some favorite illustrators on youtube
what better activity to spend quarantine doing than baking my way through a new cookbook - these cheddar herb scones came out great
baking therapy for the win
making pinecone bird feeders with the kids really brought me back to doing this as a kid with my grandmother
making pine cone bird feeders like it’s 1992
finally painting again - it felt good to pull out my watercolors after a long hiatus
painting a watercolor meadow

What I’ve Been Reading Lately | June 15, 2020

How has summer been treating your reading life? I’ve found that quarantine life equals lazy mornings which results in staying up late reading most nights. So my nightstand reads are getting a fair amount of attention. Those are the lighter, fluffier reads that I trust not to make sleeping difficult.

My book club picks have been hit or miss. Most of them have had heavier subjects that my poor little quarantine brain hasn’t been able to deal with. But our May pick managed to hold my attention and I finished it in the nick of time.

I’ve also been reading some books with the kids. My daughter and I are reading Babysitter’s Club super specials together for a mother daughter book club. And my teenager has put a couple of good books in my hands after devouring them.

Here are the books I’ve finished in the last month or so.

  1. REALLY LIKED Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer | Finished 5/23 | I read this at the recommendation of my 14 year old and my husband who both loved it. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t this – a fantastic blend of fantasy, action and sci fi starring an villainous but brilliant twelve year old. This is a fast paced read and a lot of fun. Looking forward to book two!
  2. LOVED Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng | Finished 5/30 | This book was a slow burn for me (pun intended) but the more I read, the more it grabbed me. The second half went by fast. I think the author did a great job peeling away the details at the right time. Very well done.
  3. LOVED Aloha, Babysitters by Ann M. Martin | Finished 6/2 | Read this with my daughter for a little mother daughter book club. I don’t remember reading it before actually so it was fun not knowing what was going to happen. I don’t remember Abby and liked getting to know her character. This super special had a lot of action and adventure and I loved the descriptions of Hawaii. 🥰🥰🥰
  4. REALLY LIKED Uprooted by Naomi Novik | Finished 6/7 | Howls Moving Castle meets Moana meets The Witcher. This reads like a dark, adult fairy tale and sweeps you away.

Right now I’m reading The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman and The Babysitter’s at Shadow Lake by Ann M. Martin.

What have you been reading lately?

Top 5 Love Stories

The prompt for this week’s Top 5 Tuesday hosted by Bionic Bookworm is love stories or romances. This term can be applied to a lot of books and can mean different things to different people. From corset ripping to classic love stories and everything in between. Here are 5 of my very favorites.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen | This is my Gold Standard. All love stories will be compared to P&P at the end of the day. This is the classic romance I will recommend to everyone. Runners up for classic romance are Anne of Green Gables and Gone With the Wind.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell | This is my favorite young adult nerdy girl love story. I literally turn into a fangirl over this story. If you like it, you’ll want to be reading all of Rowell’s other books and anything by John Green or Becky Albertalli.

The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan | This book is a perfect combination of romance and wanderlust. It’s about picking up your life and starting over and has Scottish accents and bookish references for days. Colgan is a master at this genre so you can plunge her backlist for ages, then try Katherine Center for more love stories where the main character is figuring out her own life, too.

Cress by Marissa Meyer | If you are looking for a Rapunzel retelling set in a sci fi / fantasy dystopian setting (you know, like you do) then look no further! This is a couple of books into the Lunar Chronicles series that I recommend to anyone who will listen so if you haven’t read Cinder yet, start there. If you already know and love this one, then go read the Uglies trilogy by Scott Westerfeld.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins | This a perfect sweet YA love story, perfect for fans of To All the Boys I Loved Before by Jenny Han or Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch. It also falls into the Wanderlust category and is also part of a semi-connected series.


Which books would be on your list?