Monday, March 30, 2015

This Moment.

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Guest House



The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows, 
who violently sweep your house
empty of it's furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out 
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
Meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
Because each has been sent 
as a guide from beyond.

-Jelaluddin Rumi, translation by Coleman Barks


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Lovely


I read this today and it resonated with me:

Always leave people better than you found them.
Hug the hurt.
Kiss the broken.
Befriend the lost.
Love the lonely.

We can all make a difference: one small, kind gesture at a time.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Frosty the Snowman

It's no secret that I learn more every day in regards to what it takes to be a boy mom. In most cases, I still don't "get it," but rather go along with it.

For example: a little boy's need to build things just to knock them over.

We'll spend a half hour building a beautiful "house" (I prefer to pretend it's a castle.) And as soon as the final block is in place, Henry's happy to make it come crashing down.

And the same goes for William. If anything gets to be half his height or above within his line of vision, he turns into Babyzilla. He'll come crashing into whatever it is, roars included.

And trust me I didn't teach them this. If I spend my morning creating something in the play room, ideally it would last at least until dinner.

Take today for example. Henry and Mark went out to play in the snow. And created this little cutie:

I mean he is adorable, right?? Henry named him Frosty, and I was already excited for him to hang out on our property for a few weeks. I loved this snowman. (I remember when I was young building snowmen with my brothers and going inside to ask my mom for the carrot, and something for the eyes. So it was so sweet when Henry came into today asking for a "carrot nose, eyes, mouth and hat, pwease. For Frosty.") So about three seconds after Frosty is complete I hear:

"Otay. Now let's knock him over!"

Which turned out to be more difficult than Henry thought.

That's about as "full speed" as Henry gets with that much gear on, and giant boots in a foot of snow. And so instead? We'll just eat his carrot nose.


And take a bite of his... ribs?


And leave the hard work to Daddy. I keep forgetting that dads are still 50% little boy on the inside. And  Mark totally gets my boys when I  clearly do not.

 
RIP Frosty.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Laurealism Library: Volume 3

My previous two Laurealism Library posts were very well received, so I plan on continuing to share what I've been reading with you. Here are ten of my recent reads, in the order that I read them.

For reference, the rating scale:
1- So many grammatical errors, I couldn't get past page one.
2- Skip it. I likely didn't finish it.
3- A solidly good book. If this is in a category you usually like, read it!
4- Must-read in your lifetime list.
5- All time, personal favorite books.

I also started including how the books rate on Goodreads, which may sway your opinions one way or another. Also please note, while this post contains Amazon Affiliate links, I purchased, borrowed or read every one of these books, and ratings are my own.

Eleanor and Park, Rainbow Rowell
Pick this up if: You need an easy-to-read, innocent love story.
Similar to: The Fault in Our Stars,  The Perks of Being a Wallflower
My Rating: 3/5
Goodreads Rating: 4.17/5
Notes: A sweet story, with good writing, but for me: not life-altering.

The Aviator's Wife, Melanie Benjamin
Pick this up if: You devour historical fiction.
Similar to: The Other Boylen, The Girl with a Pearl Earring, The Paris Wife
My Rating: 3/5
Goodreads rating: 3.86
Notes: I vaguely knew the story of the Lindbergh Family, but this book frustrated me because of this woman's relationship with her husband (though I realize it was probably common for the time.) This was also hard for me to read because I have a baby at home, and well, you know the history of the Lindberg baby, right?

Middlesex, Eugene Jeffries (Laurealism Book Club Pick)
Pick this up if: You need an eccentric literary novel to really delve into.
Similar to: I literally have nothing to relate this to (which is uncommon for me!)
My Rating: 4/5
Goodreads rating: 3.94/5
Notes: This was a beautifully written book, and very intriguing. I highly recommend if you haven't picked it up yet.

The Thirteen Clocks, James Thurber
Pick this up if: You want something that you can enjoy, but also read aloud to your kids.
Similar to: The Princess Bride
My Rating: 4/5
Goodreads rating: 4.08/5
Notes: This is a non-sensical story which requires imagination, but is written wonderfully. It was a lot of fun to read.

The Husband's Secret, Liane Moriarty (Laurealism Book Club Pick)
Pick this up if: You want a bit of dramatic chick-lit.
Similar to: What Alice Forgot, The Vacationers
My Rating: 3/5
Goodreads Rating: 3.88
Notes: Liane Moriarty is amazing at creating characters. Every single person her novels, you'll think you know in real life!

A Discovery of Witches, Deborah Harkness
Pick this up if: You like a good fantasy novel, with a pinch of historical fiction
Similar to: The Magicians, Twilight
My Rating: 4/5
Goodreads Rating: 3.98
Notes: Witches, Vampires, Demons and time travel? Yes, please! I listened to this on Audible and was thoroughly entertained. Plus, this is sort of a book about a book, which is my favorite genre.

The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver
Pick this up if: You want a longer read to really dive into, with very well developed characters.
Similar to: The Red Tent, One Thousand White Women
My Rating: 3.5/5
Goodreads Rating: 3.98/5
Notes: I think I would have come to like this book more if I'd had someone to really discuss it with, which is why it falls between a 3 and a 4. It was a little hard for me to get into, but complex and emotional. Which would likely be the same way I'd describe picking up and moving to Africa, so I suppose that's fitting.

A Monster Calls, Patrick Ness (Laurealism Book Club pick)
Pick this up if: You like books written in a child's perspective.
Similar to: The Glass Castle, Room
My Rating: 4/5
Goodreads Rating: 4.25/5
Notes: This was a completely creative book. I want to call it fantasy, but it was more dream-like than fictional. A quick, but meaningful, heartfelt book. And slated to be a movie, so you better pick it up before it hits theaters! Warning: Have the tissues nearby.

Pick this up if: You love historical fiction or you're looking for something for your book club. This book is so much better when discussed, because there are likely things other's would have picked up on that you missed.
Similar to: Hansel and Gretel, Book Thief
My Rating: 4/5
Goodreads Rating: 4.24/5
Notes: I tend to shy away from war-related historical fiction, but I ended up reading this for a book club I belonged to. I liked it well enough, until we discussed it... and then I loved it. This book has so many facets, so much depth and so many connections. It might even be worth a re-read.

Pick this up if: You like historical fiction related to art.
Similar to: The Girl with a Pearl Earring, The Swan Thieves
My Rating: 3/5
Goodreads Rating: 3.64/5
Notes: I wanted to read more Chevalier because The Girl with a Pearl Earring is one of my all time favorites. This didn't impress me as much, but it was still an imaginative book, that was easy and enjoyable to read. It's always interesting to imagine the story behind the art!

Sadly, there were no 5's on this list. Here's hoping I find a few more for next time! What have you been reading? Would you recommend it?

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Books is my friends

Henry and I just had the most adorable conversation.

He snuck into our bed after we tucked him in. 

"Oh my there's a Henry hiding in my bed!"

"Hehe, yeaaaa... I'm sneaky like a ninja turtle."

So I walked him back to his bedroom. 

"Can we read a book?" he asked, a question I decided years ago I would never say no to.

And so we read The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, which my mom gave to us for the holidays.



I've recently decided that my favorite genre of fiction is "books about books." And a children's book about books? Even better.

After we were finished I said to Henry, "I really liked that book. Did you?"

"Yes, me too."

"I really like to read too. There are so many good books in the world, how can we read them all?" I asked him.

"First, we can put them in a pile," he told me, "Books is my friends."

Books is my friends, too, kid... books is my friends too...


Friday, December 19, 2014

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays! From our family to yours!

Card (c) Laurealism created at Snapfish. Photo (c) Tiny Bubbles Photography.

Friday, November 28, 2014

2014 Gift Guides

Gift Guide posts are one of my favorite parts of blogging. I love scouring my favorite sites for fun items to share with you. This year I've divided the content into four categories: Young at Heart, Organizer, Book Lover and Munchkins. I hope I help you check some of the names off of your list!

Click image to enlarge. (c) Laurealism
1. Lawn Dice | $50 | Amazon or UncommonGoods | Spring will be here eventually
2. The Martian | $10 | Amazon | Who hasn't imagined life on Mars?
3. GoPro Drone Quadcopter | $429 | Amazon | What? You might totally win the lotto!
4. RC Helicopter | $20 | Amazon | Amazingly affordable fun
5. Bocce Ball Set | $45 | Amazon | This games needs to make a comeback
6. Magnetic Voice Recorder | $15 | Amazon | Well, this could be fun
7. Perpetual Calendar | $17 | Amazon | A cute way to keep up-to-date
8. Shower Squid | $36 | UncommonGoods | Everything you need at an arm's length

Click image to enlarge. (c) Laurealism
1. Retro Pens | $9 | Amazon | Quite the stylish stylus
2. Wine Preserver | $10 | Amazon | What do you mean leftover wine?
3. Snack Attack Storage | $8 | Amazon | Stores snacks and dips to-go
4. Nesting Mixing Bowls | $50 | Amazon | Pretty and practical
5. Nesting Food Storage | $35 | Amazon | Time to organize the tupperware drawer!
6. Wooden Desktop Clock | $29 | Amazon | Wood you tell me the time?
7. Journal | $24 | Urban Outfitters | Record your world
8. Lip Butter | $13 | Amazon | Assorted flavors. Pomegranate, please!
9. Refillable Travel Perfume | $10 | Amazon | Travel-sized spritzing
10. Felt iPad Case | $10 | Amazon | Doesn't your iThing deserve to be cozy?

Click image to enlarge. (c) Laurealism
1. Books | $4-$23 | Amazon | Books for a book lover? Imagine that!
    The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry | A book about books? You know me too well.
    All the Light We Cannot See | Historical Fiction hit of the year
    Big Little Lies | Surprisingly Insightful chick-lit.
    Tequila Mockingbird | Cocktails with a literary twist. Yes, please!
    1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die | You'd better get started.
2. Novel Teas | $15 | Amazon | English breakfast tea tagged with literary quotes
3. Felt Mini Journal | $15 | Amazon | A cozy place for your favorite quotes
4. Sprout Bookmarks | $7 | Amazon | No green thumb needed
5. Literary Scarf | $34 | UncommonGoods | Wrap yourself in Jane Eyre, among others

Click image to enlarge. (c) Laurealism
1. Julia's House for Lost Creatures | $13 | Amazon | Adorable story and illustrations
    Ki, Koo! | $11 | Amazon | A sweet introduction to haiku, and the seasons
2. Bubble Gun | $6 | Amazon | Seemingly endless bubble fun
3. Magnatab | $20 | Amazon | An interesting spin on an etch-a-sketch
4. Jellycat Cordy Roy Animals | $25 | Amazon | 2014 was Chinese Year of the Horse
5. Nerf Bow Blaster | $20 | Amazon | Can you say Katniss?
6. Story Cubes | $16 | Amazon | A creative way to encourage storytelling
7. Family Dinner Game | $10 | Amazon | Dinner conversation inspiration!
8. Castle Tent | $20 | IKEA | Black Friday Discount: $14
9. Break the Ice | $10 | Amazon | A throwback game that'll work for many ages.
10. Rainbow Maker | $25 | Amazon | Sometimes you'll want to make your own rainbows

So, what's on your wish list this year?

Also-- if you're doing a lot of online shopping this year, you may want to check this post out!

Oh, and full disclosure: I'm an Amazon Associate. And total Amazon Prime addict as well, which you likely see reflected above!

Happy shopping :)

Monday, November 24, 2014

Let's be thankful for mornings.

Thanksgiving, of course, makes us think about the things that we are thankful for. 

I'm thankful for my life: and everyone and everything in it. I could write an endless run-on sentence of thankfulness. But I probably wouldn't really be telling you anything you couldn't surmise for yourself.

So instead of counting my blessings, I'm choosing to find the good in something that I didn't recognize the good in before:

Mornings.

I can't do mornings the way I'd like. I'd love to jump out of bed, ready for the day, and immediately be able to tackle my children with energy. I'd love to spring from my bed: shower, unload the dishwasher, put in a load of laundry, do a morning sweep of the floors, all while preparing a nice hot breakfast for my family.

But I can't. I just can't. It's exhausting. Instead my mornings are:

6:30- Alarm goes off: an alarm I set the previous night. I was probably inspired by whatever book I was reading/Netflix show I was bingeing on and stayed up way too late. I always go to bed thinking, tomorrow is going to be amazing. I'm totally going to rock at life tomorrow. I'm actually going to shower in the morning and blow dry my hair for once. I'll even have time for makeup. The drop-off lady at school won't know what hit her. And then that damn alarm sounds, and I'm like eh, maybe tomorrow. And I turn it off.

Ultimately, I get up when I have to, which is usually when my husband is trying to leave the house for work without a baby or small child attached to him. The remaining three of us scramble to get fed, dressed, and out the door in time to get to school/speech/etc. Sidenote: coats, hats, gloves, shoes and socks are especially difficult in the mornings. By the time I dress child #2, child #1 has removed most everything I've already wrestled him into, and it's just a really long cycle. Really, long because I probably didn't manage coffee yet.

But you know who does rock mornings?? My children.

The moment they hit consciousness they are wide-eyed, balls of energy. Energy that can't be contained in those tiny bodies.

Henry will likely have a series of unrelated, unending questions, more so than any other time in the day. They must build up in his little head while he sleeps, and he can just now get them out. Anything he wants he asks while jumping. Please can we!? Please can we!? Please can we has pancakes/play dinosaurs/get monsters???

And William seems to wake up thinking that he didn't successfully explore every drawer and cabinet yesterday, so he dives head first into that task, opening anything he can open, and pulling everything out. I can only imagine what goes through his head: This box of pasta? Miraculous! Like nothing I've ever seen! Let's dump it on the floor and examine every glorious piece! Yes! Glorious! But what is this? Cupcake liners! I pull one out and there is still another one to pull out! And another one! And another one! It could be a tiny hat! Or a tiny boat! Or... oh! I bet I can rip this into more pieces than that napkin I shredded yesterday. He's the tiniest tornado I've ever known.

So lately, I've been wondering: How can they wake up every single day filled with such excitement, while I'm silently asking: can everybody just stop talking and be still for 10 minutes? I need to pull myself together.

And I think I have an answer: Their world, everything and everyone in it, is still so new to them. Henry didn't know yesterday that Grammy is Mommy's mommy. Or that a wrench is a wrench. Or that a pilgrim is a pilgrim and not a cowboy. 

And William probably doesn't remember having ever seen snow. So he needs to sit at that window: Face, nose, snot, spit and hands smeared against it and take a solid ten minutes to squeal, shriek and check it out.

And so on an average Monday, while my day likely entails things I've already seen and done hundreds of times before, these precious littles still have so much to discover and learn.

So I'm going to make an effort to be more grateful for mornings and the childish excitement that goes with it. I'm going to try to wake up excited for them. Because really, shouldn't I be absolutely thrilled that I'm getting to rediscover the magic that is this world, every day-- through my children?

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Literary Baby Shower

A couple of weeks ago I helped host a baby shower for my sister-in-law, and I couldn't have been more in love with the theme: Children's books.

We decorated every table according to a book or author: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, The Giving Tree, Babar, Winnie the Pooh and Eric Carle. The best part? The parents-to-be got to go home with a lot of the decorations (books and stuffed animals) to fill their baby's library and nursery.
Here's the Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Table complete with coconuts.
I was also seriously in love with the cake.
Amazing Cake by Sugar Monkey in Naperville. And the cupcakes were AMAZING.
We played a literary scramble and present bingo, had guests guess the baby's sex and arrival date on a giant calendar and my two favorite ideas...

Family Bucket List Scrapbook: For this we supplied each table with a bunch of cute paper and markers and asked guests to create a bucket list item for the family (go fly a kite, go to Disneyland, visit Mount Rushmore, etc.) We are compiling all the pages into a scrap book, so as the family checks off an item on the bucket list, they can include pictures and such to remember everything. What a great way to record memories!

Guest Artwork for baby's room: How adorable is this idea? I used one of these free printables to create a giant canvas that I ordered from Snapfish.
Printable (c) Kori Clark
I then asked guests to turn their name into a children's book title. I didn't get a picture of the finished product, but here are some of the great ideas: Green Eggs & Anne, Where the Wild Tetricks Are, The Very Hungry Jess. I just loved how it turned out!
I'm still swooning at this canvas... I want one for myself!
Guests went home with bookmarks and flower bulbs to plant now for Spring Blooms. And the parents-to-be did pretty well in the present department. This baby will enter the world with a lot of love surrounding him (or her!)

For the record, I guessed boy to arrive January first. No matter what, I can't wait to snuggle and read to that little nugget! Auntie Lauren loves you already :)