Friday, September 25, 2020

Books Luke (7½) & Sam (2½) Like

I've been doing these quarterly book posts for the boys (just Luke for a long time) for FIVE years now.  I did not realize it had been that long.  Every time I go to do one I have to check that I haven't already shared any of the books.  There are definitely times that library books stick around for nearly 3 months (or FIVE months, in the case of one of Sam's that quarantined with us and so got very extended due dates and then we renewed it as long as we could.) because one of the boys (or me) like them so much.  This is the first time I am knowingly repeating one, one that first appeared on Luke's first list here five years ago and now is popping up on Sam's.  It's fun seeing Sam repeat so much of what Luke did/wore/liked!
Luke (7½)
This is one we renewed for a very long time and Luke would have had me reading it to him nearly daily if I had allowed it.  Jasper and Ollie are a fox and sloth, respectively, and in this book they are building tree forts.  Jasper rushes through his project.  Ollie takes his time.  One lasts longer than the other.  I appreciated the little lesson of taking your time (I say this as I try to rush through this post before school pick-up) but Luke probably mostly liked the tree forts.

Goldfish on Vacation by Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrated by Leo Espinosa
This one is based on a true story of a fountain in New York City that was overgrown and uncared for.  Then someone cleaned it up and in the summer, for many years, kids brought their pet goldfish to vacation in the fountain and then picked up "their" goldfish at the end.  I find it hilarious that this actually happened and just strengthen Luke's want of his own pet goldfish.

I was surprised this one hadn't made one of these lists yet because we've checked it out multiple times AND Luke even requested it, completely unprompted, this summer on a drive up to the lake.  It has fantastic pictures and he just really likes the goat knocking the troll in the water.  

The Wizard in You by Steve Behling
We watched Onward for family movie night over the summer and Luke LOVED it.  He watched it again in chunks and then we had to get all the Onward books the library had...which was 4.  We read those 4 A LOT though and even Sam was requesting them.   

The Berenstain Bears and the Ghost of the Theater by Mike Berenstain
We are will working on reading every single Berenstain Bear book I can find (there are SO MANY) and this was a newer easy-reader one that Luke, probably because I've forced him to like Berenstain Bears since we've read SO MANY of them, and also because there is a slightly haunted aspect (that isn't actually scary). I read this one many times too. (Note: we've read 270 Berenstain Bear books and we still haven't hit all the non-chapter books yet.)

Sam (2½)
Daniel's Day at the Beach by Becky Friedman, illustrated by Jason Fruchter
This is the book that was on Luke's very first list 5 years ago and now Sam is discovering Daniel Tiger too. I run with Sam two mornings a week after Luke is at school and then he gets one episode of tv while I shower, either Daniel Tiger or Curious George (episodes we've had on the DVR since we recorded them for Luke!). He's only picked DT a handful of times but he still really likes all the books we've gotten about him. And I have a certain fondness for this one since I read it so many times with Luke too.

Jack-Jack Attack by Disney
Sam loves the Incredibles, mainly these little figures that were Luke's but he passed onto Sam. Sam's maybe seen one of the movies once or twice. But he LOVES this book about Jack-Jack and even noticed when I snuck it back to the library the first time we had it checked out. There is just something about Jack-Jack making messes and getting into trouble that appeals to my 2½ year old...

Run, Remy, Run!
by Kitty Richards

So many movie characters on the list today but it's what my boys are requesting over and over and over again. We watched Ratatouille for movie night a couple weeks ago (actually, broke up over 2 nights) and both boys loved it and then we had to get those books too and this is one Sam's really latched onto. It's also one Luke reads him sometimes which is very sweet. I don't know how much Sam is picking up on a fake rat's cooking journey in Paris...but he likes it.

C is for Camping by Greg Paprocki

I really like this alphabet book series but unfortunately our library only has a handful of them (I've since bought a handful more of them for us). This was one of Sam's adoption day presents and while he's only ever camped once, over a year ago, it's still a good introduction/reminder of it. It at least brings back happy camping memories for me and Sam frequently picks it for a "before naptime" read.

Scuffy the Tugboat by Gertrude Crampton, illustrated by Tibor Gergely

When we had Jack-Jack Attack, Sam started picking out on the back cover all the books we hadn't read...which was all of them. So we got this from the library and have read it A LOT and now Sam picks out "Tugboat!" on the back of many of the Little Golden Books. It's a long-ish book but he really likes his "Tugboat!" book.

Have YOU read any good picture books lately? (I'm not sure I could even call these all good, but I like documenting what the boys are really into!).  I'm always on the lookout for more to read!

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Clothes Shopping Post - Fall/Winter 2020-2021

Fall dressing might be my favorite.  After wearing tank tops, shorts and sandals for much of the summer, it's fun to pull back out sweaters and boots and have layering as a viable option, without dying of heat stroke!  It's like having a whole new closet with the same underwear.  I even turn over my closet and dresser, making the clothes that are not as seasonally appropriate still reachable but not as easily accessed. 

We've had a nice string of weather lately where the days have been comfortable but the nights chilly.  I am HERE for weather that doesn't require heat OR AC and we are currently in that.  Even though I put our small space heater back in the bathroom now because it makes getting out of the shower so much more bearable.  And when Luke dresses for school, he can either dress for the 7:30am weather (45°-55°) or the 3pm weather (75°-80°).  Teachers don't really let the kids switch from pants to shorts mid-day, even though that's what Sam and I are often doing at home.  But fall is lovely and I really plan to enjoy the next month-ish of it before we lose all the leaves and it gets very cold!

I go through streaks and clothes shopping and not clothes shopping, I feel like I bought a lot this summer but that was largely underwear (not counted here because that's a genuine need) and A LOT of swimsuit options that mostly ended up returned!

Checking in on Spring/Summer 2020

I said when I wrote the spring post that I had already bought an Amazon and an Old Navy one and I ended up keeping the Amazon one.  I LOVE it.  I wore it so many times in the spring and was delighted to pull it out again in the fall.  It's not very heavy but perfect for 60°-70° spring/fall days.  I intend to get a green one soon too.  I will probably wear them multiple times a week this fall, until I need something thicker.
2) A sundress 
I didn't buy a sundress to wear to church but did buy A dress that I wore to church sooo...that counts.  I got this one at Target in the spring (ordering online, thank you) and the colors still work for fall, being teal and a deeper pink.  I call it my butterfly dress even though I think it has flowers on it and not butterflies.  

3) Fun Flats 
I did not buy these but would still like to!  Spring and Fall is when I mostly wear flats.  Summer, besides running, is almost all sandals.

4) Navy Blue Striped v or scooped neck short sleeved tee 
Bought this from ThredUp, thus fulfilling TWO items on this list but I am counting this here!

5) 2ish Tank Tops/T-shirts 
I bought these two from Old Navy (left, right) in June because I realized I was short some everyday type of tanks, ones I could wear with a regular bra and weren't see-thru.  Of course, maybe I realized that in April when I wrote this list and said I'd need 2ish tank tops.  I've worn these both A LOT this summer.  I looked at Old Navy to get more of the one on the left in different prints but all they had were white that looked too see-thru.

Yes, got this one from Target and now I am ready to properly celebrate my sons' (and maybe husband's) birthdays and/or wear to the theater when there is a new Star Wars movie.  And on May 4th, obviously.  The only time I've worn this one so far.  (This is from the kids' department, it fits and was cheaper than the adults!)

7) Something to use up ThredUp credit
I FINALLY did this!  I hadn't placed an order in over 18 months (I used to nearly monthly) and they kept sending me 35% off codes which I finally used.  I felt pressure to order a "perfect" box, with nothing I'd need to return because I didn't want more credit sitting there indefinitely.  Of the 7 items I bought (some of which are for fall), I'd probably return one but not worth it to get ~$7 back after restocking fee and then have more credit sitting there.  New with tags though so I might try selling to a second hand store in town?  I don't know.   But these are the two items that I'm keeping that count as summer-ish, even though I didn't get them until September.
Extra items:

Over last winter I managed just TWO extra items and this season I was up to three, although two parts of a swimsuit meant to be worn together barely count as two items.  And I almost called the dress a fall item anyways since I just got it and still haven't worn it.  Dress is from Old Navy, swimsuit top is Old Navy, and bottoms are Target.  I hadn't bought a new swimsuit in 4 years and spend a decent amount of time in them in the summer, especially this summer which was so hot.  I had a suit on every weekend we were at the lake until September!  

Fall 2020/Winter 2021 Plan 


1) Green Hoodie 
I plan to buy the green version of my coral one soon.  I hope the super cold weather holds off awhile still!
2) 2(ish) Sweaters
I wear sweaters A LOT in the winter and could use 2ish more everyday ones.  Crew neck, not too tight, not too baggy, probably in green, blue, or grey since those are the colors I wear most of the time. We spend a lot of time at home in the cold months, pandemic or not, so I mostly "need" every day clothes.
3) Fun flats
I've had this on spring AND fall lists for awhile but haven't fulfilled it yet.  I'm thinking maybe a coral or blue or something.  I haven't found many promising options yet. 
4) 2ish Long Sleeved Tees
I wear these a lot in the fall and spring, under my utility jackets or puffer vests (are those still a thing?  Because I have 3 in my closet that I still like).  Already bought these in my ThredUp order and worn one already. (I make my rules for how I count this list!)

5) Another pair of skinny jeans
I would appreciate another pair in the winter maybe.  Although I said this last fall, never bought one, and survived the winter just fine.
6) Repair/Replace my Boots
I've had my cognac riding boots for 5 winters and the soles are starting to fall apart.  I need to take them to a shoe repair store (I have it on the schedule for next week) to see if they are fixable.  I really hope so.  Seems like a waste to get rid of them and fixing them should also be cheaper than replacing??  Fingers crossed.  If they can't be fixed I probably need to start looking into replacing them.  
That's it!  I'm often tripped up by Black Friday shopping although some years I've gone that whole weekend without buying any clothes so we'll see!  We'll probably be home even more than usual this winter so I'm not sure how that will translate to my clothes buying, sometimes something new is nice to have!

Spring 2020

Fall 2019
Spring 2019

Fall 2018
Spring 2018

Fall 2017
Spring 2017

Fall 2016
Spring 2016

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Book Love: House Lessons by Erica Bauermeister

This is a book I know I first heard of from Annie B. Jones of The Bookshelf and of From the Front Porch podcast.  A bookstore I really want to visit (but the closest I've been is 3 hours away) and a podcast I've been regularly listening to for 4 years.  Actually, I'm pretty sure that's the only place I had heard of it before I read it because I don't recall it popping up on my Goodreads or anywhere.  

I had read two previous books by Erica Bauermeister and really enjoyed them both: The School of Essential Ingredients and The Lost Art of Mixing.  Those were both novels based around food.  This book: House Lessons: Renovating a Life was primarily about house renovating.  And also life.  Those foodie and house renovating don't seem to have a strong overlap so I was leery but I'm really glad I read it.

The book is a memoir of the author's time spent doing MASSIVE renovations in the Pacific Northwest.  She lives with her family in Seattle and they are itching to get out of the city.  They find a fixer-upper near the coast, that involves a ferry trip to get to, and battle to get it.  And it's a super fixer-upper.  The house is caught up in an estate that drags on for months.  The house is filled with garbage and who knows what else.  They have to fight to get this house and the garbage that comes with it.  I can tell you I would have been out immediately.  But they stuck with it.

(Spoiler!) They get the house, have to empty out the garbage (including multiple dead rats) and then start renovating.  We've taken on some home projects in our day but nothing compared to this.  They are also hiring out a lot of the work because moving a house (literally lifting it up and moving it) and fixing a foundation while they are at it, those aren't small projects that any (I hope!) homeowner takes on on their own.  

She walks the reader through the renovation piece by piece, how hard they worked, how long it took, the physical and mental exhaustion.  How they balanced that with parenting two pre-teen/teen (I think?) kids at home, a couple hour drive away.  It made me appreciate and marvel at the projects we've done but more appreciate that we've never had to take on something like this!

Along the way there are reflections on why homes are the way they are, how different aspects of our home came to be.  Even facts about the octopuses that live in Puget Sound (The largest known ones in the world!  Glad I learned that a decade AFTER we took a ferry boat across it!).  It sounds a little random but it really wove together so beautifully.  

Their renovation took years and a lot of money.  You have to pretty committed to a house of garbage to live through that.  (To be clear, they took care of the garbage immediately.)  They originally intent, to live in the house full-time after it was renovated, changed as time went on but she still talked with such fondness over this house and the process.

What I appreciated about this book is how much care she took with her very old house.  How she knew that renovating it and making it perfect would take time and money and they were willing to give both.  I strongly disagree with her stance on plaster wall (she is very pro, myself, having torn some out in the house while living here...I hate them) but I could relate to so much else of what she said.  We live in an old house that was in a very livable condition when we bought it but we've still done a lot to it.  I appreciate all this house has given us and liked reading about another person having a different yet similar experience. 

This home obviously means a lot to her and I learned a lot about homes in general as well as other facts (I immediately told Matt about the octopus).  I was eager to pick this one up and was so inspired by reading it.  Even if you've never renovated a home but just live in one, I think there is something for a whole lot of people in this book.  It may drive you away from ever wanting to change anything!  Or inspire you to make your house yours!  Or even just appreciate the work one couple gave to a house.  I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads which I don't do often for non-picture books but this was a wonderful read.

Goodreads | Amazon

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Thursday, September 17, 2020

What I'll Remember Most About Summer 2020

Mid-September feels like a good time to finally admit that summer is over, right?  We've said for years that summer isn't over until the jet ski is back home.  Well, the jet ski came home last weekend.  It may have spent more time in our garage this summer than it did in the water but it rallied for us in the end (after a good amount of work from Matt and a lot of parts ordered).  Luke's been back in school for over a month now so summer really, truly, is over.  It was a weird summer but also, a lot like normal.  We went to the lake, we went to the zoo (with masks), we read a lot of books, ignored bedtimes, and enjoyed life with a much looser schedule.  Here's what I think I'll remember about this summer.

1) Ice cream cones in the backyard

You may have picked up that we have a lot of ice cream in our house in the summer.  This led to near nightly ice cream cones in the backyard together.  It was truly lovely.

2) String lights!

We finally hung them here and some at the lake and they are just delightful.  I still love seeing them on every night at home and they make things extra festive.  We're enjoying them for a little longer before they come down for winter!

3) Picnics

The boys and I ate lunch in the backyard, packed picnics to eat in the playhouse, had lunches a few times on the pontoon at the lake.  Since we were home so much this summer is was nice to eat some new places, even if it was primarily the backyard.

4) Keylightfuls

I make a lot of mixed drinks in the summer, but for ease I also drank Keylightfuls.  It was so much easier to throw one in the cooler so I wasn't guarding an open cup when trying to contain boys on the pontoon!  They definitely taste like this summer.

5) COVID-19, masks

Covid took our vacation and seeing our families more, we stopped browsing at the library (THANK GOODNESS they upped our holds to 10 per card, also, Sam now has a card), we didn't go to baseball games, we didn't go to the drive-in (our 19th summer together and first without a drive-in trip!).  We were able to start going to Mass again right at the start of the summer which was wonderful but no singing, wearing masks, distancing, etc.  We wore masks to Aldi, the library, rare Target trips (Luke still hasn't been back to Aldi or Target, we tried to do most errands without the boys).  It made for a different summer but we still were able to do a lot of the things that make summer, summer (mainly, the lake).

6) Working pontoon, non-working jet ski

In our 3 summers of shared pontoon ownership, this was the best we've had one running and we spent a lot of time out on the water on the boat.  A lot of sunset cruises (there's that ignoring bedtime...), fishing trips, even some meals.  It was really nice that we had a working pontoon the summer the jet ski needed work!  We had a super brief 24 hours they were both cooperating.

7) Painting the back of the house

When we painted our house 12 years ago we said we were DEFINITELY moving before it needed it again.  Well, here we are and I never want to move.  So we had to paint our house  (really, we needed to paint it at least 2 years ago but that's when Sam was an infant and Matt was working crazy overtime and building the playhouse, I had ZERO margin to even think about painting the house).  And, to be honest, we've only repainted the back of the house so far.  It's the part we see the most and we were working on a bunch of improvements back there (string lights, raised beds, maybe a sandbox will still happen this year?, moving the compost).  It took more time than we expected but it does look really good.  That's what we did when we were supposed to be on vacation.  Definitely less fun.

 8) Matt's new schedule

Matt's been on his 4-10s schedule for over 6 months now and it's been wonderful.  That means early mornings 4 days a week when I get up before he's gone and then have time to workout, shower, get around, and still work or read or work on a project before the boys woke up.  It was so nice having some time to myself before jumping into parenting.  Then one weekday a week he'd be home so we could each run or I'd go to work and we could work on projects, etc.  We are SO THANKFUL he's on this schedule.

9) Watching Summer action movies

Matt and I started rewatching old summer action movies on the weekends, usually one a weekend spread over two nights.  We watched Transformers, Pirates of the Caribbean, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, and a few more I am not remembering.  All ones we own on DVD (we still own DVDs) and it was so fun to rewatch them together, all of those I think we saw at the drive-in originally too!

10) The boys' growing stages

Luke and I read quite a few chapter books.  Sam continued to add words to his vocabulary, they started to, at times, play really well together.  They also fought.  When the windows are open I've started letting Sam play in the (fenced) backyard with Luke sometimes and they tell each other stories when they are in bed.  Five years is a pretty big age difference but it's so nice to see them, every year, be able to play more and more.

11) Powerwheels

Matt's brother and sister-in-law handed down two powerwheels cars that their kids had outgrown and they boys LOVED driving those all over the neighborhood.  Matt would often take them out when I was doing my runs and I'd stumble across them at some point.  We even picked up pizza in one once!

12) Hamilton

Hamilton dropped on Disney+ and I got Matt to watch it with me (it's a cultural phenomenon).  I keep meaning to rewatch it but haven't made the time but I have listened to the soundtrack many times.  I think it'll long remind me of this weird, good summer.

Now onto new memories with the fall!

What I'll Remember Most about Summer 2018

Monday, September 14, 2020

Quick Lit - September

Happy Quick Lit!  Life happened and this got up later than I would have liked, probably was reading something below when I "should" have been working on this post.  Oops.  I prioritize my reading over a great many things.  I'm linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy, on Instagram here (where I sometimes post about books), and Goodreads here (which I check too many times a day).  I read a lot-ish and even blogged about two of them on their own because I liked them so much!:

Book Love: The Lazy Genius Way by Kendra Adachi


Book Love: The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel

 Now everything else!


How to Save a Life by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

This book was very forgettable, as in, I barely could tell you that I read it.  Groundhog Day ish setting where a man relives the same day, over and over again, each time watching his newly reconnected former fiance die in pretty horrific ways.  And each time trying to change the circumstances so she wouldn't die.  But I couldn't get invested in their romance and I got a little tired of reading death scene after death scene.  2 Stars

Musical Chairs by Amy Poeppel

I enjoyed this book about a musician trio where two members are constant the third has changed a few times in their 20 (??) year history.  The story is told from the points of view of the two constant members as well as various connected family and friends.  It wasn't literary but more literary than much of what I read, really the perfect amount of serious mixed in with some fun.  It made me appreciate the long relationships (with friends, family, etc.) I've had and also appreciate some that aren't as long but are for the perfect season. 3.75 Stars

Get Out of Your Head: Stopping the Spiral of Toxic Thoughts by Jennie Allen

I spend too much time inside my own head, I've known that for years.  This book offers a lot of ways to get around that which could be very helpful to me.  However, I don't remember what a single one of them are right now.  So.  I think I read it too fast.  However, I know I found it helpful when I was reading it!  3.5 Stars

The Family Way, Through the Window, City of Darkness and Light by Rhys Bowen

I really knocked through some Molly Murphy books in the past 30 days!  They are perfect to mix in between some more contemporary books since they take place in the early 1900s and to show a very different side to NYC.  The Family Way goes inside a convent and touches on Catholicism which I appreciate, even though it wasn't always in the best light here.  Through the Window was a short story that moved the plot along and was a tightly packed and solved mystery.  City of Darkness and Light mostly takes place in Paris which was so fun to read about.  Very close to the time period of the Moulin Rouge movie that I just started rewatching (while I work from home during Sam's nap) and that was fun for a little overlap.  I am nearing the end of my journey with Molly and I've certainly enjoyed following along with her escapades through parts of the world I like and in a time frame I'm glad I don't live in. 3.5 Stars

And They Called It Camelot: A Novel of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis by Stephanie Marie Thornton

You can see from the title what the book is about.  It was LONG but very heavily researched.  Obviously, nobody can ever know exactly what happens in a marriage but this seems to have made a lot of educated guesses and feel like they very well could be right.  It starts about when Jackie was meeting JFK, through their wedding and early marriage.  How Jackie handled his rising political star, his family, and their kids.  Obviously Dallas and his assassination plays a big role but the story keeps going through her second marriage, relationship to Bobby Kennedy, and her late in life career as an editor.  I had a lot of empathy for Jackie while and after reading this.  It seems she went through A LOT.  Some of her own making, some not.  It doesn't seem like it was an easy life, even if it was briefly Camelot.  3.25 Stars

Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan and the Making of a Modern Royal Family by Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand

Oh....I have thoughts on this one.  I do follow the British Royals and I found Harry & Meghan's exit earlier this year to be fascinating, exciting, and sad.  A whole lot of things.  This is from two journalists who I firmly believe got a lot of info directly from Harry and/or Meghan to tell "their" side of the story.  There just doesn't seem to be anyway the authors would have had all the info they had otherwise.  It was about 90% pro-Harry/Meghan and constantly reiterated how beautiful and seemingly perfect Meghan was, that got a little repetitive.  It was so interested to read about how super rich people date and get some new information behind of the scenes of their first few years together.  The book really seemed to falter in the last ~25% where it talked about the big split and attempted to show some of the side of the Royals (The Queen, Prince Charles, the Cambridges), it felt rushed and still pretty one sided.  The book mentioned how Charles got the corona virius which happen in March of this year...5 months before the book came out.  And the split only happened 7 months before the book.  There just didn't seem to be enough space from those events to really talk about what happened.  And also very little from 2020 that I hadn't already read somewhere else.  Still, I'm glad I read it but it could have been better with some more time. 3.5 Stars

The Switch by Beth O'Leary

This was a fun book that felt different from her The Flatshare of last year.  In this a granddaughter and grandmother switch places for two months - the granddaughter has been placed on work sabbatical in London and needs a break.  The grandmother is widowed (years ago) and doesn't like her romantic options in her small English town.  So they switch.  This opens up both their lives quite a bit to new adventures - mostly non-romantic but some of those too (it is a pretty chaste book too, although there is some language).  I miss my Grandparents and so appreciated reading about a young woman who has a lovely relationship with her grandmother. 3.5 Stars

The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11 by Garrett M. Graff

This was FANTASTIC and I think I'm going to do a deeper post on it, although maybe not posting until next fall.  Or maybe sooner.  I just wanted to note it in case I don't post anything about it for another year.   It was tragic and heartbreaking and sad but so well done and really made me understand that day even better.  As I said in a text to my family, I can't say I loved it but I really appreciated it.  5 Stars

The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal

This is the third in a series about what could have happened if in the early 1950s, a meteor crashed near Washington DC and caused A LOT of death and destruction and made it so the Earth would, in the near future, be uninhabitable.  This speeds up the space program and by 1963, when this largely takes place, there is a colony on the Moon and a spaceship with humans headed to Mars.  The first in this series remains my favorite, 3 books in, and this was LONG. 538 pages, I believe, and A LOT of science talk.  I read reading this before bed while reading about 9/11 during the day and both were long books that took me almost a week to get through.  This one even went to the lake TWICE since I started it on one trip and hadn't yet finished it (and didn't until we were back home) by the time we went back.  It could have used some editing, maybe cut 100 pages, and I really got to the point where I wanted it done but I still added the 4th in the series to my TBR, even though it doesn't come out until 2022. 3 Stars

That is what I've been reading lately.  How about you?  I would ask this to every person I come across if it wasn't so presumptuous that they are reading books.