What We’re Reading

Dear Kristen,

Procrastination looks good on Little Mister!  I loved his costume! Simple. Clever. And unique!

We weren’t so clever or unique – but simple was the name of the game.  Batman and Tweak.

Costume Recipes:

Batman: pajamas with a homemade cape attached with safety pins to the shirt. Perfect for Little Man.

Tweak: Found it on the internet, bought it, and it arrived at our doorstep.  It doesn’t get much easier than that!  What do you do when your daughter insists she wants to be a green bunny engineer from her favorite TV show (Octonauts)?  Well, you don’t try to make a light green sweatsuit with bunny ears, that’s for sure!

So people thought she was the Easter Bunny or weren’t sure what to think.  But she was happy.

And reading is making her happy, too, so I thought I’d share what we’ve been reading of recent.  Munchkin is entering the world of reading all on her own (little squeal of delight!) and so we’ve been working to have fresh, exciting library books available and fun things to explore!

Munckin’s Recent Reads

  1. Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems.  51olbjkb2bel-_sx363_bo1204203200_I think I’ve mentioned these before – but there are a variety of them and she can make out many of the words all on her own.  She also has a quick memory, so she can usually recite it after the second reading…so then I’m not positive how much reading is being done….
  2. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein.  51o8luyt2il-_sx378_bo1204203200_Silliness and rhyming out the wazoo – all good things!
  3. Hop on Pop by Dr. Suess.  51clhaltlfl-_sx355_bo1204203200_We got this as a listening book at the library.  God bless audio books!  But seriously, if I had to read Hop on Pop as often as she listened to it, I might go slightly nuts.
  4. The Christmas Tale of Peter Rabbit by Emma Thompson.  51gthz-af4l-_sx385_bo1204203200_Another audio book, but since Halloween is over, Christmas books can come out!  And her brother likes this, too.

Little Man’s Recent Reads

  1. Little Blue Truck (any of them) by Schertle and McElmurry. 51m07baimtl-_sy448_bo1204203200_“Boo Truck!” is how he asks and its adorable.
  2. Frankenstein by Adams and Oliver. 519fcmyv-ll-_sy498_bo1204203200_“Monster!”
  3. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Martin and Archambault. 51hsu2qlyhl-_sx378_bo1204203200_“Boom! Booooommmm!”  He likes singing the alphabet song at the end, which is awesome with his gibberish.
  4. Anything his sister is reading……which makes for epic fallouts….. Is it better that they are fighting over books?

So there you have it!  Reading with the 5 and 2 year olds is bringing delight and smiles.  Today, I’m giving thanks for those moments of joy. (And for coffee.  I’m giving thanks for that, too.)

Always Look on the Bright Side

Dear Erin,

Speaking of limeades, do you remember when we were little that sometimes after a long day we would have popcorn and frozen limeades for dinner? I never realized until I was an adult that limeades are practically margaritas. I wonder whether Mom and Dad were ever tempted to help their own limeades take that final step. I certainly would understand the temptation now.

Oh, also speaking of limeades – and cherry limeades especially – did I tell you that there’s a Firehouse Subs opening close to us? I’ve been doing a little happy dance ever since I found out: a real piece of home will be here. After all, it actually started in Jacksonville, and we used to go to the very first one! When Charles and I moved to CA, I missed a whole lot of people I loved and things I was used to, but there were 4 food-oriented places especially that I wished for. Chik-Fil-A (now right up the street); Cracker Barrel (who knows if it will ever get here); Publix (probably not in my lifetime); and Firehouse. Of course, we’ll go once or twice and that will satisfy for awhile, but it will be nice to have it as an option when we’re craving the warm, melty, steaminess of one of their subs.

But let’s set aside the food talk for a bit. Except – hold on, let me go get some more coffee; those three cups I’ve already had aren’t doing the trick.

Okay, so my life right now revolves around the boys, and primarily the two-year-old, which is exactly how he thinks it should be. You mentioned Little Man’s daily tantrums. Little Mister’s got them, too. Mostly because he wants to do what he wants to do, although he does have his mysterious fits that arise for reasons incomprehensible to me.

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See that tiny blond speck under the basketball hoop? That would be LM, refusing to leave the park.

I’m starting to work out strategies that sometimes achieve the desired results, but occasionally – like right after I took the picture above – I still have to resort to carrying him like a sack of potatoes, and I think as he shouts and flails, “Someone is going to think I’m kidnapping this kid.”

So let me think of some of the fun aspects of having a two-year-old, for the sake of both you and me.

  1. In our house, hiccups are “pickups,” the piano is a “plano,” and all food is “num nums.”
  2. He’s recently started saying unprompted, “I love my mommy.” I think he got it from a book, but it still makes me melt inside.
  3. Sometimes he walks around with his hands in his pockets and just looks like a thoughtful little man.
  4. The rate of his learning is kind of scary but totally awesome. I wish I could absorb knowledge as effortlessly as he does.
  5. Everything becomes a game. One of his current favorites is for me to drive a toy car on a paper with a street scene drawn on it. Then I say I’ve seen someone in trouble, and they need an ambulance. He drives the ambulance over, and then drives it to the hospital on the other side of the paper. This is called “race” for some reason.
  6. He loves music. Current favorites include They Might be Giants, Electric Light Orchestra, the Frozen soundtrack, and pretty much any upbeat classical music. He likes to sing along with songs he knows, and he can almost carry a tune on a good day.
  7. This is what stickers are for:
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  8. He loves to read, and we’ve graduated from the super-simple board books to actual stories and picture books, which is awesome.
  9. He still loves to snuggle up at bedtime, even if he puts bed off as long as possible.
  10. Every once in awhile, I still get a three-hour nap out of him.

Hopefully this will help you enjoy your own two-year-old, remembering that it’s not all meltdowns in the grocery store and fighting like a wild animal not to get put in the car seat and running away in parking lots. (To be honest, I’m really hoping it will help me.)

I’ll Take A Cherry Limeade, Please

Dear Kristen,

Remember me? I’m your sister!  I bet you forgot you had one since I’ve been silent on this here blog for…..cough……well, forever.  I’m sorry!  I’ve been off in Lime Land.

Lime Land: noun.  A state of being that is interesting, tart, confused, and slightly under appreciated.

You know the saying, “When life gives you lemons…”?  It categorizes things in life that are hard, and then you’re supposed to think optimistically about it to make it all better.  But what if I want to know that the hard things are necessary and good, even if hard?  I don’t want to just mask it with superficial sugar.

Life has been different for the past couple of months.  Hard, but not really hard, per say, just…life.  Limes are a wonderful fruit, perfect for understanding us.  They make things interesting, different. Are they for savory things or sweet?  Are they sweet and innocent or appropriate for bars and the night life? They’re all these things!  Limes force someone to do a double take, they evoke thoughts of sunshine, and they’re cute and little and awesome.

Limes added to rice make a WHOLE different dinner.  Limes in a pie?  Nothing is quite like it – even lemon meringue pies can’t compare with the delightfulness of Key Lime Pie.  Limes take mixed drinks to a whole new level – a drinkable level in my opinion.  Give me a Moscow Mule without a lime and I won’t touch it.  Give it to me with a lime…I’ll taste it!  Don’t mask the lime, just let it meld with everything to give a richness to it.

And my favorite, a Cherry Limeade.  All things wonderful in a glass.

So…we’ve been in Lime Land.  Which really is just normal life.  Can I give you an edited run down?img_4027

  1. Munchkin is in Kindergarten.  It has been emotional and hard at moments.  But she is doing great…and its nice to have only one kid talking my ear off all day instead of two.  (Is that bad?)  She’s growing up, making friends, learning new things, and none of that is a bad thing.  In fact, they’re beautiful life things!
  2. Little Man has had an allergic reaction to something – maybe a dye free and fragrance free dryer sheet, maybe some other mysterious thing. But it doesn’t bother him!  And since we have lots of fun with allergies around here, it wasn’t NOT expected.

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    Mommy, can I have a cherry limeade?

  3. Our just over a year old (and slightly past warranty) dishwasher broke.  We could spend the amount of money for a replacement expensive dishwasher to fix it or buy a new one.  We bought a new one. A less expensive one.  (Our track record for appliances is abysmal at best.  Thanks Consumer Reports for teaching us that even you are imperfect.) Our kids, however, have enjoyed their “rocket ship” continually since we got it. (Yes, we’ve just had a huge box floating around our house.) So there’s been lots laughter to combat the memory of weeks of hand washing. (And the old one became a cheap therapy session for some high schoolers who broke it all into little pieces…) img_4191
  4. Little Man is a full blown two-year-old, which means tantrums on a daily basis.  And I can’t think of anything to make this better.  But he will get through it.  We will survive this.  We’ve done it before.
  5. We’ve been in and at weddings and wedding events for the past few weeks – and although tiring – weddings are always awesome. img_4176
  6. The weather has cooled down, which means its time for pants.  Which means Munchkin Meltdowns before school because she decides she doesn’t like the jeans she picked out at the store YESTERDAY any more.  Hello, mirror.  Its so fun to see my five-year-old face sassing me in the same way I did Mom years ago.  Sorry about those moments, Mom.

This isn’t a comprehensive list.  But really, if everyone wrote down all the challenges and joys of a week (not to mention a couple months), it would be epically long.

Our Lime Land life has had its share of challenges and joys. But combined it makes for a rich life.  So I’ll take a Cherry Limeade, please.  Some sweetness, some tartness, and more than a little splash of interesting.

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from urbanstrawberries.com

Geeking Out – YA Books…

Dear Kristen,

I’m sorry I stole HP from you….

Or at least a little sorry. In my defense, our likes are so similar that it was bound to happen. Except, I think, for this next one.  I’m pretty sure I’m alone in this.

YA Books – specifically those in the Fantasy/Science Fiction genre.

I feel like this needs an explanation.  Because I’m 35, which is not “Young Adult” and so there are probably those out there that are like…”huh? Did you not grow up or mature in the last 20+ years?”

I know, I know.  Sometimes when I put these books on hold, I’m a little embarrassed to take them to the librarian to check out.  Its not like I can plead, “Oh, I’m getting this for my daughter,” since she’s next to me…and 5 years old and only wants to read Mo Willems.

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But trust me, I got into these for very logical reasons.

#1 – I taught middle and high school for 9 years, and some of my students were avid, precocious readers and invested their reading time in certain books that I wasn’t so sure about.  Were they okay?  Were they appropriate for them to read?  (It was the same argument that teachers originally had about Harry Potter books, too.)  So, in the interest of wanting to both know the answer to my questions and have a chance to share something with the students I cared so much about, I read the books they read.  And I liked some of them.

#2 – There are books that are written for an adult audience that have been recommended to me, are national best sellers, and have surprised me with X-rated scenes.  I’m not talking about the kind of book where its expected – I avoid those.  I’m talking about ones that you are reading and enjoying and then WHAM!  The author went there – and I feel dirty.  So I put those books aside and look for something that is more PG-13 but still entertaining and possibly even sophisticated in its story telling ability.  So…YA fantasy/science fiction.

See?  Completely logical!

So here, I’m going to share some series that I enjoyed, would recommend to others and got a little geeky over.  Geeky like, I put the whole series on hold after reading the first chapter of the first book.  Geeky like, I obsessively checked to see if the library had ordered the newest book in the series yet to be released so that I could be the first in our county to read it. Yup. Geeky.

  • The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins – Yes, everyone and their mother know about this, but it really was very fun.

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  • The Divergent Series, by Veronica Roth – Same as above.  Roth is coming out with a new series next year, so I’m interested in checking that out, too.

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  • The Lunar Chronicles, by Marissa Meyer – Fairytales turned into science fiction novels.  It was clever and engaging and overall very fun!

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  • Ruby Red, by Kerstin Gier – If Matt had seen the cover of the book with the girl on it, we would never have checked out the audio book.  But he saw a different one, so we did.  This is a time traveling series that was pretty creative.  It also helped that a British woman narrated the book and that always makes a book extra awesome!

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  • Throne of Glass, by Sarah Maas – I suggest this with the disclaimer that it is rated R, but if you like magic, assassins, etc. and can take some pretty violent scenes and some language, then you might like this!  But, you’ve just been warned.

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There are definitely others that were pretty fun, easy to read, and enjoyable for adults who need a break from…adult fiction…but these were the ones I enjoyed the most.  And I realize they all feature strong female leads, many that have a warrior bent.  I don’t feel like I’m type-casting myself, more just stating where YA fantasy/science fiction books have settled of recent.

I do feel like I need to now write about adult fiction books that I’ve liked to show I have some sophistication…but I will refrain.  Mainly because I already wrote about geeking out over Jane Austen – and she is the epitome of sophistication.