Reading List Summary, November 2013

Mom's List
Eleanor Roosevelt: A Life of Discovery (Russell Freedman)
VJ: The Unplugged Adventures of MTV's First Wave (Gavin Edwards)
Heads in Beds (Jacob Tomsky)

Jack's List
Double Dog Dare (Lisa Graff)
Olivia Bean: Trivia Queen (Donna Gephart)
Plunked (Michael Northrop)
Mr. Terupt Falls Again (Rob Buyea)
Hollow Earth (John Barrowman)
Extra Credit (Andrew Clements)
Capture the Flag (Kate Messner)
The Great Gilly Hopkins (Katherine Paterson)
Bridge to Terabithia (Katherine Paterson)
The Sword Thief (Peter Lerangis)
The Fugitive Factor (Gordon Korman)
Now You See Them, Now You Don't (Gordon Korman)
Tuck Everlasting (Natalie Babbitt)
The Stowaway Solution (Gordon Korman)

EJ's List
Nate the Great and the Hungry Book Club (Marjorie Weinman Sharmat)
Sleepover Sleuths (Carolyn Keene)
Nate the Great and the Owl Express (Marjorie Weinman Sharmat)
Nate the Great and the Missing Key (Marjorie Weinman Sharmat)
Nate the Great and the Mushy Valentine (Marjorie Weinman Sharmat)
Violet Mackerel's Brilliant Plot (Anna Branford)
Nate the Great and the Tardy Tortoise (Marjorie Weinman Sharmat)
Scream for Ice Cream (Carolyn Keene)
The Canary Caper (Ron Roy)
Violet Mackerel's Remarkable Recovery (Anna Branford)
Black Beauty (Anna Sewell)

Olivia's List
The Great Bug Hunt (Bonnie Dobkin)
Oh, Jet! (Jillian Powell)
Shoelaces (Suzanne Lieurance)
The Fish (Heather MacLeod)
I'll Do It Later (Simone T. Ribke)
Just a Little Different (Bonnie Dobkin)
Sam's Pet (Charnan Simon)
I Like Shoes (Candice Ransom)
Giggle Belly (Page Sakelaris)
Collecting (Bonnie Dobkin)
Spiders and Webs (Carolyn Lunn)
Come! Sit! Speak! (Charnan Simon)
Number One Puppy (Zachary Wilson)
Messy Bessey's Closet (Patricia McKissack)
Firefly Friend (Kimberly Wagner Klier)
Show-and-Tell Sam (Charnan Simon)
Jordan's Silly Sick Day (Justine Fontes)
I Love Rocks (Cari Meister)
Who Do I Look Like? (Mary Schulte)
A Dog for Each Day (Lynea Bowdish)
Harry's Hats (Ann Tompert)
Six Empty Pockets (Matt Curtis)
My Book by Me (Dana Meachen Rau)
Messy Bessey's Garden (Patricia McKissack)
The Frog in the Pond (Wil Mara)
Listen to Me (Barbara J. Neasi)
Bonk! Goes the Ball (Philippa J. Stevens)
A Circle in the Sky (Zachary Wilson)
Jenny's Socks (Carol Murray)
Annie and Snowball and the Cozy Nest (Cynthia Rylant)
Time for Bed? (Susan Hood)
Beth's Job (Carole Roberts)
A Pet for Pat (Pegeen Snow)
Here Comes Trouble (Larry Dane Brimner)
Fun with Dick and Jane
Patch (Kristin Earhart)
Fly Guy Presents Sharks (Tedd Arnold)
Wrinkles (Pam Miller)
The Secret Code (Dana Meachen Rau)
Sam Finds a Monster (Mary Labatt)

Read-aloud List
Henry and the Clubhouse (Beverly Cleary)
Letting Go (Janet Morgan Stoeke)
Happy Harry's Cafe (Michael Rosen)
Octopus Alone (Divya Srinivasan)
Polar Bear Morning (Lauren Thompson)
Glasswings: A Butterfly's Story (Elisa Kleven)
Colors for Zena (Monica Wellington)
Nighty-Night, Cooper (Laura Numeroff)
999 Frogs Wake Up (Ken Kimura)
Beach Feet (Kiyomi Konagaya)
Bears in Beds (Shirley Parenteau)
Gus, the Dinosaur Bus (Julia Liu)
I Dare You Not to Yawn (Helene Boudreau)
Trixie Ten (Sarah Massini)
The Pet Project (Lisa Wheeler)
Peck, Peck, Peck (Lucy Cousins)
Santiago Stays (Angela Dominguez)
The Silver Button (Bob Graham)
The Magical Life of Mr. Renny (Leo Timmers)

4 Gifts: Want & Need


The premise of the 4 Gifts way of giving is to give:
-something they want
-something they need
-something they'll wear
-something they'll read

While we don't subscribe to this method of giving in our home, I love the way it forces you to be more intentional in your gifting ideas.  We are lucky to be part of a large family, all of whom spoil our kids.  So, we keep things fairly simple.  St. Nick fills our stockings on December 6th with a little candy, new holiday jammies, and small toys/games.  Santa brings one bigger thing...definitely the kids' "want" items.  And mom and dad give 1-2 things that are smaller.  Last year everyone got personalized treasure boxes.  This year we're doing two gifts each...a video game and a building item (tinkertoys, connectagons, nanos).  Then the aunts and uncles and grandmas go crazy with toys and art/craft supplies.

Today I'm linking up with Alyson and Karri to share some ideas for the want and need categories from my own wish list.  I tried to get the kids involved as well, but their ideas were all want and no needs (spoiled little buggers).

Speaking of spoiled, I can't say my needs are all that pressing, but are fun for gift-giving (obviously, I am lucky to already have my most important needs covered).


1) It gets cold in Wisconsin (shocker, right?) and when the cold hits, dryness comes right along with it.  We use this body butter on our hands and it is amazing!  All natural, made in the Midwest (by a fellow GuatMom) and it smells divine.  All of her products are incredible.

2) Another need is time with our family (and lets be honest, date nights with just the grown-ups too).  City Tins are a fun way to try new places, support local business and save lots of money doing it.  I love them so much that I've looked for similar products to gift to people in other cities.  I've found nothing as good as the original.

3) And shoes...who doesn't NEED shoes.  I always am in need of non-flip flop shoes and now that I've tried on and fell in love with the comfort of Danskos (and know how great they would be for my spine troubles), I think they should go on the need list.  They are expensive, but medicinal, right?  I love the Black Cherry Patent color of the mary janes too.


My wants are a bit silly, but isn't that what wants are all about?
{Bluth's Banana Stand Cup; Wisconsin Necklace; Overdue Book Calendar}

1) There is always money in the banana stand! Need I say more?  Arrested Development silliness, a fun cup for my DC addiction, and a dancing banana (it's on the backside).  Cute and fun!

2) I have been lusting after this necklace ever since I saw it on a person at the Urban Garage Sale.  I actually stopped her and begged her to tell me where she found such an awesome necklace.  What can I say? I've got Midwest pride.

3) The Overdue Book Calendar is a true love of mine.  Jack and I have used it for years to track our books read each month and the bright designs look awesome on my office wall.  There wasn't a calendar last year and I missed it SO much!  I would love to find this printed out for me on Christmas morning.


So, what are you wishing for this holiday season?  Link up here to share your wants and needs!

Inside Time


The drive to school looked like this today.  All brake lights and people driving like they've never been in snow before.  Every year it's like this and it always makes me insane, but when it makes me 20 minutes late for school drop-off, it also makes me lose it a bit.

Luckily, we've been enjoying being inside this weekend.  We had our first fire of the season...

EJ's been plowing through her newest fascination...Nancy Drew (and a little Black Beauty as well).

Matt and I had a date night and ended up at local brewery where they have added shuffleboard.  There was shuffleboard at the college bar everyone went to and I haven't played in ages, but I felt right at home.

New slippers (I had a coupon and a gift card so they were free)...

And now my kids have one more day of school and then they are off for almost a week.  Yikes!

20 Things


One year ago today, I was heading in for surgery (cervical spinal fusion on C6 and C7).  A week later I looked like the pic on the left (oh how I hated that brace) and today I look like the pic on the right.  The surgery was such a smart decision and I feel great now.  I think my surgeon is awesome, but I realized last week (as I berated my poor friend Nellie about her thoughts on "how obvious" my scar was) that having the scar bothers me.  Oh well, battle wounds, right?

In honor of that revelation to myself, I thought I'd do a post today with 20 things you might not know about me.

1. My birthday is four years and two days before my brother's birthday (my parents' birthdays are also days apart).  This was not planned...at all...but it is kind of cool.

2. I have never broken a bone and my only surgery was for my spine.

3. I went to a school (elementary and middle) that drew kids from all over our city/county.  I bused there (both schools were about 30 minutes away).  When I started high school, I bused with the kids in my neighborhood and they all thought I had just moved to the neighborhood.

4.  In second grade, I took a huge yellow school bus and the only kids on the bus route were a me and a pair of brothers.  We called our bus driver Mr. Dan and we had the best time on that year.

5. Despite my Type A personality, I am a huge procrastinator.  I put things off (especially big projects) and then completely freak out because I don't have time to do them perfectly.  Case in point: I wrote/edited/rewrote/finalized by senior thesis in one week.  Literally all I did that week was write, turn in to my professor, sleep, pick up edits and begin again.

6. I hate snow and cold weather.  It snows every year on my birthday (usually of the blizzard/storm variety).  My two favorite birthdays were my 30th (in Hawaii) and my 35th (in the Dominican Republic).

7. My first time I flew was when I was in 8th grade (and unaccompanied minor truly mean unaccompanied...I almost missed my connecting flight).  I have only flown alone one time since then (flew to DC to drive with Julie to Chicago when she moved).

8. Matt's Grandma dies when I was pregnant the first time and my Grandma died when I was pregnant with Olivia.  I think that sucks and I wish my kids had gotten to know these awesome women.

9. I was in show choir.  There, I said it.  And when I say in, I mean truly into and happy to be in show choir (gold sequined outfit and all).  I was in concert choir and sang in musicals too (although I can't act for the life of me).  I also played violin for a long time.

10. My toenails almost always have nail polish on them.  I think it looks weird when I don't have them painted.  I think this goes hand in hand with the fact that I prefer to wear flip flops or be barefoot.
Bonus fact: Matt thinks feet are gross.

11. I started working when I was 16 years old (well, 11 if you count babysitting and cleaning gigs).  Needless to say, I completely freaked out when my daughter decided I needed to become a stay-at-home mom.  It took about a year before I finally settled in and stopped judging every move I made.  It's still the best job I've ever had.

12. In college, I took a film class where I had to write a pretty substantial paper on one movie.  I picked The Shining, but I couldn't really watch it alone (I get scared easily).  I'm pretty sure everyone in my dorm watched it with me at least once.

13. I cook dinner almost every night.  This is not surprising to people who know me now but probably is to people who knew me when I worked, was in college, etc.

14. I always wanted to live in a city in a two-story house when I was an adult (I grew up in the middle of nowhere in a ranch).  I love my house and my neighborhood.

15. I went to school for art history, museum studies, and library science.  I really love working in archives but have never done this for an actual job (only internships).

16. Someday I'd like to research and write a book about the Civilian Conservation Corp (especially in Wisconsin).  My Grandpa was in it and I think it is was a fascinating project and time in our nation's history.

17. I'm hard-pressed to name my favorite candy.  I kind of love them all (except Raisinets...those suck!).  I guess I would say jelly beans and Milky Way Dark and peanut butter cups and...

18. Many years ago, I won a random contest in a bar and got a free trip to Beverly Hills for two.  We stayed on Rodeo Drive, but we were broke at the time so it was super silly to be there.  I was supposed to go to a taping of 90210, but blew it off to go to Universal Studios with Matt (only one of us was invited to the taping).  The people running the trip were super mad.

19. Matt and I were both raised by single mothers.  I think they are both pretty cool chicks!

20. I grew up in the middle of nowhere which meant that cable didn't come to our area until it was everywhere else.  So this 80s junkie missed the launch of MTV and so much more.  I soaked in as much pop culture as my dial with 6 channels allowed (Friday Night Videos anyone), but I'm still a little bitter.



Good things


Best thank you note ever, right?  Matt's Aunt drew this awesome pic and his Uncle called me (even less of a phone person than I am) to personally thank me for his blanket as well.  I married into a pretty great group of people (and think these two are some of the best out there)!

I watched the movie Happy this weekend and really liked what they had to say.  I actually learned a lot and was thrilled that I already practice a lot of their findings/suggestions.  One study showed that people who have a strong familial bond and close group of friends tend to be happier than those who operate lone wolf style.  I thought of this "Heather quote" (and the awesome friend who turned it into this awesome daily reminder) and felt completely and totally blessed.

One more thing making me happy this weekend (cause it sure wasn't the rainy/windy weather) was my new pics in the dining room.  All the prints arrived and I got them all up.  It's not much but it definitely freshens up the room (especially before we add all the Christmas decorations).  The new Instagram frame (prints purchased here) has some great memories and started quite a few conversations at dinner.

I'm spending this week attempting to focus on the happy with cleaning up/organizing projects, holiday project planning, gift creation, and hopefully some fun too.  Hope everyone has a great week!

Thoughts on a Thursday


*Matt and the kids did the annual pumpkin toss last weekend.  I objected as I'm sure the kids got black lung from the moldy insides, but Matt assures me they are fine.  I do know that they love every second of it...including shoveling the carnage off the street afterwards.

*I haven't been a very good blogger lately.  In fact, I am only writing right now because Jack is at school sick.  He is trying to make it through a statewide test this morning, but he looked terrible after math this morning so I'm not sure he'll hold out.  At any rate, I don't dare run an errand or exercise because that is always when the call comes through.

*Jack lost another tooth last Friday night.  The tooth fairy apparently got called to some of your houses towards the end of the week, because she didn't show up here until Sunday night.  Total slacker!

*I'm in the process of updating the frames in the dining room.  Our living room is mostly photo canvases, but last year I did a frame of a bunch of cousin pics, a big frame of Instagram pics from the summer/fall, and one big 16x20 in the dining room and thought I would update it more often.  I didn't, but I do love having those memories staring at us and pics of the kiddos we don't get to see every day there too.  So, a year later and I'm updating it again.  I just got the package of Instagram pics from FedEx, so I know what I'm working on this afternoon.

*Today Olivia was complaining that she is almost out of clean jeans and last weekend it was underwear.  This is what happens after a soccer season ends.  I'm so used to having to do at least one load of laundry every other day that I forget the kids run out of things when I don't keep up that schedule.  I'm already on load 3 this morning.

*The girls both just grew again, so I had to get them both some new shoes (EJ trashes her shoes now so there is not a lot of passing down anymore).  Jack is also in need of a couple things (soccer slides, crocs) and he is at the worst size.  Biggest kids size/smallest mens size is tough to find (especially cheaply).  These kids need to stop growing.

*Speaking of shoes, I tried on a pair of Danskos for the first time this week.  They could be the most comfortable shoe I've ever put on my feet.  I wanted to run out of the store with them.  I didn't even care that they were some scary metallic leaf print (warehouse shoe store).  I could make it work for that comfort!

*And for everyone that stuck through the most boring post of all time, I give you a terrible photo of your truly and the hubs from 1997.  Clearly we thought we looked good...wow, clearly we did not!

Keeping the tooth fairy flyi...

{pattern for Jack's hat here, girls' hats were made up by me on the fly}

This past weekend, my kids had all of their teeth (semi-proof above) and we spent some time exploring the zoo.  The yellow leaves were fabulous, so I made them stop for a pic that didn't really come out too well.  I did make them some new hats, so I guess this pic is good for showing off something!  

We started out Monday morning with some excitement as I pulled EJ's first loose tooth out minutes before we needed to leave for school.  She then took my phone to document her new look on the ride to school.

Then Tuesday during school, EJ lost her other bottom tooth during Spanish class and got this cute little treasure box to carry it home.

Then after dinner, Jack was eating a Tootsie Roll and one of his baby molars (that we didn't even know was loose) came out mid-chew.  The tooth fairy has been kind of busy at our house, so I'm sorry if she missed a visit to any of your homes.  You can blame us!

Family Day


Happy Family Day to my beautiful girl!  I love you for so many reasons (your kindness, your love of reading and bling, your big heart, your bravery) and I am so proud to have you as my daughter.  I hope you finally lose that tooth today and that you have a special day.


It seems like this photo was taken yesterday, but today looks pretty incredible too!