The Proust Questionnaire

I was reading an old post on Cup of Jo about the Proust Questionnaire that Vanity Fair uses to interview celebrities like Tina Fey and Ina Garten. I thought I’d play along today because we’re over halfway through 2020 and I’ve literally run out of things to do (thank god the school year is starting up soon).

Feel free to play along in the comments section!

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

It’s about a sense of calm – not being worried about current events, weight issues, dietary issues, schedules, fears, money. Basically security and ease.

What is your greatest fear?

Definitely the death of a loved one. That’s the kind of stuff that keeps me up at night. Okay, to be fair, lots of things keep me up at night. But that’s the King Poppa.

Which living person do you most admire?

My grandmother. Always have. She’s kind, funny, patient, caring. She moved mountains during my childhood and always had a nice thing to say about everyone. She spends her energy building people up and has always made time for her hobbies and her family.

What is your favorite journey?

I love visiting new places and learning new things. Whether it’s a new to me coffee shop or traveling to a new city or state. I want to do the touristy stuff.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

I get stuck on new phrases frequently. You hear something funny or poignant and interesting and you try to find any excuse to fit it in. Lately it’s been things like “I feel seen” or “this is giving me life right now.” Or “I’m so tired of this year and I miss normal life and I want a donut.”

Who or what is the greatest love of your life?

My husband and kids – this one is easy.

Which talent would you most like to have?

I’d love to be able to draw things and have them look like the thing I am looking at. I tend to prefer photography or watercolor because the photograph will look the closest like what I’m looking at and the watercolor can be intentionally vague and make up for my drawing skills.

What is your current state of mind?

Like a ferret, hopping from one shiny place to the next. It sounds like this “ohhh home schooling idea! ugh politics… ohhh new recipe… oh no fears and stresses… oh homeschooling idea! hmmm what if I painted the… oh no, it’s almost dinner time… ugh politics – hey stop texting me everyone! omg so I’m so bored and miss people… why won’t my children leave me alone? I want a donut… aww my kids are so great… ugh politics…”

Where would you like to live?

I like a lot of things about where we live right now but I would love to be in a slightly smaller town. Less crowded stores and restaurants – but with a thriving bookstore or library and an excellent coffee shop and decent wifi. Also I want a room filled with built in bookcases and a kitchen with plenty of storage and counter space. And patio furniture because sitting outside reading is my new favorite hobby. Why, yes, I am old now.

What is your most marked characteristic?

Ummmm. anxiety?

Who is your favorite hero of fiction?

Elizabeth Bennett or Hermione Granger

What are your favorite names?

Emily, Katherine, Isabelle, Michael, Thomas, Daniel…

What is it that you most dislike?

being late, insincerity, a lack of control over my situation

What is your motto?

But first coffee.

books books & reading memes & carnivals reviews

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?

homeschool motherhood

Getting Ready for Back to School – 2020 Style

In three weeks we officially start our school year.

My fourteen year old is starting his first year of high school virtually. He’s the amount of excited but nervous that you would expect.

After months of hearing little more than crickets about what’s going to happen, the last week or two have been a comparable explosion of information. We’ve successfully completed online enrollment, picked up his school issued Chromebook, printed out the generic schedule explaining when his classes will meet virtually, and started talking about adjusting sleep schedules so that logging into class on time will be easy.

And then there’s the whole “I’m homeschooling my 6th grader” thing. Our Bookshark curriculum was delivered on Friday and, after spending the weekend organizing everything, things are looking pretty darn real now.

I’ve been labeling books, pouring over instructor guides, filling out lesson plans and calendars, and even started reading my 6th grader’s first independent reader for literature – The King’s Fifth by Scott O’Dell.

I’m hoping to stay a book ahead of her so that I’ll be able to really discuss those books with her and not have to rely solely on the instructor’s guide.

Along with the standard Bookshark curriculum, I also ordered a U.S. elections lapbook – which is a more hands on arts and crafts centered lesson. We’re reading about governments, elections, etc. and then filling out little charts and stuff and filling a fold out booklet with each project.

We’ll be using a similar thing in our social studies curriculum so I thought we’d spend the last few weeks of summer working on the election kit as a way to get our feet wet and ease ourselves into the school year.

I’ve also been figuring out things like health, art and music – which I’m making my own curriculum for. And talking with other mom friends in a similar boat about how to form little co op pods but with Covid precautions in mind. Occasional zoom chats or backyard study buddy time? Maybe some outdoor field trips?

I’ve also been watching lots of YouTube videos by homeschool moms and even started listening to a podcast called Homeschool Your Way. It’s sponsored by Bookshark but run by some mom friends who are longtime homeschoolers who also run homeschooling YouTube channels.

And of course I have to remind myself that we still have three whole weeks of summer left. So in between my spurts of planning and productivity, I’m trying to leave room for downtime. Watching movies with the kids, grilling dinner outside (thanks hubby!), playing video games and you know trying to breathe.

Speaking of breathing, I’ve been trying to spend some time reading or sitting outside while the weather is still nice. And my hubby and I are trying to commit to having coffee just the two of us at least once a week. Sometimes that’s outside in the backyard. Sometimes we’ll hit up a coffee shop with outdoor seating. But either way – it’s just us a good cup of coffee and no kids. Self care for the win!

When do your kids go back to school?

How have you been getting ready for the fall?

What are you doing for self care?

family fun IRL

It’s August. | Life update 8.07.20

Is anyone else really struggling to hold onto what day / month / phase of the moon we’re in? Apparently it’s August now and life continues to look the same and wildly different in turns. We’re still grilling dinner more nights than not, staying up late reading books, playing a TON of video games, watching all of Netflix and occasionally braving the grocery store or Target but then gasping our way back to the car laden with groceries and anxiety.

And with August comes the looming reality that school really is starting soon and we’re going to have to commit to whatever that means. I actually ordered our home school curriculum (from these cool people if you are looking for one still) for my 6th grader and next week I officially enroll my teenager into high school which is starting virtually but then come November we have no earthly idea what’s going to happen. This McSweenys post pretty much sums up the landscape though.

So I’m trying to get myself organized for the fall when things like what day it is will matter again. And then getting super impatient that I have to wait a whole month before actually doing any of that. And trying to keep busy by doing things like:

staining outdoor furniture because I’m a handy and capable lady with lots of time on her hands
Experimenting with hair curlers on my eleven year old because why not?
Trying to drink less coffee and more tea because did I mention anxiety and stuff?
Painting bamboo because someone did it on Instagram and I was like ooooooh and then had to try myself – who needs art lessons when you can just steal people’s ideas online and figure out how to do it yourself at home?

And looking at cute baby animals on Instagram for good measure. Obviously.

What are you guys up to this week?

What’s your plan for fall?

What weird new hobby have you picked up recently?

books books & reading reviews

What I’m Reading in July

My current TBR stack, including the book I’m currently reading before bed, The Unlikelies by Carrie Firestone

Here are the books I’ve read since the last time I did a recap. A few from late June, but mostly July.

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord | Sort of a modern YA You’ve Got Mail. There are multiple layers to this adorable love story that eventually all come together beautifully. This one kept me up late reading several nights in a row. 😍😍😍😍😍

10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston | I blew through this one. The premise is fun and wacky. The characters are easy to root for and the love story is everything. Loved it. πŸ₯°πŸ₯°πŸ₯°πŸ₯°πŸ₯°

Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon | This was a fun premise. I’m a sucker for a good retelling and this loose take on Beauty and the Beast was a lot of fun. Menon has created a great cast of characters and I spent several nights staying up too late to finish it. The only thing keeping it from 5 stars was that I found the characters to be almost too much sometimes, if that makes any sense. 😻😻😻😻

Witchy by Ariel Slamet Reis | Very intrigued by this story. Hoping there will be a second book. I thought the artwork was amazing but I frequently felt like I had been thrown into the middle of a longer story. πŸ’–πŸ’–πŸ’–πŸ’–

Crime and Poetry by Amanda Flower | I really got into this one. A cozy mystery set in a magical bookshop? You had me at hello. I really liked the overall writing style and definitely plan to continue the series. πŸ’žπŸ’žπŸ’žπŸ’žπŸ’ž

Babysitter’s at Shadow Lake by Ann M. Martin | I reread this with my eleven year old and really enjoyed experiencing it a second time. A lot of stuff I’d honestly forgotten. I love super specials because you get to see the same experience through multiple eyes, including some of the younger kids this time. πŸ’•πŸ’•πŸ’•πŸ’•πŸ’•

Honestly, just a lot of good reading. No duds to speak of. I also read a couple of Babymouse chapter books at the request of my eleven year old, which were adorable but they took me about twenty minutes to read each. She loves the series though so if you are looking for more graphic novel recommendations for your young girls, this looks like a great series.

I’m still reading The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman and honestly can’t figure out why I’m not loving it. As a huge Practical Magic fan, I had really high hopes. I don’t know if it’s the writing style, the pace, or if I just have an aversion to required reading. My book club is discussing it this weekend in theory but tbh I think quarantine is getting the best of our little club. I’m going to have to think about what I want to do about that.

And like I said at the top of this post, I’m also reading The Unlikelies by Carrie Firestone. I’m about halfway through this one and my initial impression was just that it was a LOT heavier than I was expecting, but so far not too heavy. Interested to see how it all ends, waiting impatiently to see if my ‘ships pan out.

family fun

July 2020 in review.

Can you guys believe this month is almost over? 2020 continues to be a strange beast. Time is moving fast and slow. Months and weeks kind of blur together when our days are so similar. I’m not complaining, really.

As much as I look forward to the future when words like pandemic, quarantine, and “new normal” are not part of our daily routine – I’ve kind of enjoyed the easy pace of this summer. Being forced to slow down has its upsides and having everyone home is kind of nice.

The last month has involved a lot of grilling outdoors, roasting marshmallows, reading good books, blowing bubbles, playing in the sprinkler, and more.

My eleven year old and I watched the new Babysitter’s Club series on Netflix and loved it. We have been reading old super specials together at bedtime and of course my daughter loves the graphic novels. I think they did a good job modernizing the series but it still feels true to the original. It has that BSC magic that reminds me of my own childhood.

Speaking of my eleven year old, she celebrated said eleventh birthday this month. We’re continuing our new tradition of getting a swanky cake from my new favorite bakery for birthdays. Smaller celebrations mean I get to go all out for the cake and hopefully help support this small business that I love.

My teenager rearranged his room to make room for a desk – this is going to help a lot this fall because we’re all going to be home but doing slightly different things. My husband will be working from home in the office at least initially. My son’s high school is doing virtual learning until at least November. And…

My eleven year old is going to be homeschooled by yours truly for at least a year. That is not a sentence I pictured myself saying in the past but it became the obvious answer for several reasons. She and I are cautiously excited for this big change. I’m glad that I can do this for her and give her a consistent and stable school year while the country finds their footing.

Meanwhile my teenager is equally excited to start highschool and I’m grateful that the school is offering virtual learning to start.

So I’ve been spending a lot of the month researching curriculums and homeschooling laws, organizing the house to get both kids ready for the fall, and freaking out every few days about this new, big change in our lives. Because freaking out about things is like my part-time job.

That pretty much sums up our month. I’ll post again soon with the books I’ve been reading this month because it really warrants its own post.

What have you been up to this month?

I’m linking this post up with the Writer’s Workshop hosted by Mama Kat – love her!

family fun motherhood

5 Things Bringing Me Joy Right Now.

It would appear that 2020 is in no hurry to take it easy on us. Like everyone else, life has been a series of one step forward and two steps back, making the urge to wallow and whinge strong. But we know better.

We’ve learned to look for the things bringing us joy in the little moments. It’s the only way to battle the blahs and look at these months behind us with the ability to remember more than face masks, social media meltdowns and heartbreaking news stories.

So today let’s choose to look for the joy so that we can fight more battles tomorrow with renewed spirits.

Like these new jars I bought to store flour and sugar on the counter.

And the cookbook that I’ve been baking my way through while we’re stuck at home.

Or those small moments when life looks almost normal. Like taking the kids out for ice cream (we wore masks to order). Bonus points, we had the place to ourselves, so I let them eat inside in the air conditioning.

Playing outside – we’ve had plenty of time for frisbees and sidewalk chalk this summer.

Or when I baked chocolate chip cookies for my husband for Father’s Day and everyone agreed they were some of the best chocolate chip cookies ever.

What’s bringing you joy right now?

family fun motherhood photography wordless wednesday

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

books & reading quick lit

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. πŸ₯°πŸ₯°πŸ₯°
  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?