Tag: family

Sep 17

Feeling PUN-chy

Family, Personal 17

Hidey Ho, Bookworms!

I’m quite certain I’ve mentioned this before, but in case you missed it, I became an aunt again about a month ago. My sister-in-law and brother-in-law welcomed the sweetest baby girl in the history of baby girls. (This is empirically proven, of course, I wouldn’t feed you biased data.) Since our little Emma-Saurus arrived, a punch drunk series of texts have occurred… There’s a strong possibility that these exchanges are amusing only to us, but what the heck? I’m willing to share the nonsensical love. Both my husband and my brother-in-law are named Jim. As is my father in law. Not to mention the cousins. Because of course. Hence, my BIL is referred to as “New Guy” (since he is the newest Jim in the family, and probably always will be. Unless they give us a nephew one day…) We call him “New Guy” to his face and put it on his birthday cake and stuff. I’d go into more detail on the Jim situation, but I know I’ll never top the speech I gave at Jenny and New Guy’s wedding on the subject so I’m just gonna drop the mic right here and get into the text-versation.

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*A teensy bit of context here. Emma has a stuffed sheep that doubles as a sound machine. His name is Sherman. She has a penchant for knocking him over. It’s probably accidental, as she’s like a month old and flails around on her little play mat, but it seems like she has it out for him. Without further ado…*

Jenny: Emma Update! She’s sleeping. (Shocker.)

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Me: Wait, wait, wait. Are those tiny Shermans on her PJs?

Jenny: Those are tiny Shermans. We thought it might improve their relationship. I’ve got a bad feeling about this though…

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New Guy: That’s a fist she’s making!

Me: Hit him with your best shot, Emma!

New Guy: Would we say Sherman should be wearing a WOOL-et proof vest? #punitentiary

Me: He is looking a bit sheepish. #NewGuyStartedIt

New Guy: Emma has been acting baaaah-dly around him.

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Jenny: It was only a matter of time.

New Guy: Someone sent Sherman out to pasture.

Me: Emma is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Jenny: Wool done!

Hubs: Ewe guys are cracking me up. Some of these puns are shear genius.

New Guy: Winner, winner gyro dinner.

Me: I don’t mean to LAMB-ast you, but these jokes are getting baaaaad.

Hubs: Oh man, I ain’t got mutton. (Full disclosure, I almost made a veal joke before Katie reminded me veal comes from calves.)

New Guy: He better MOO-ve it. #RandomCowJoke

Me: He gets knocked down, but he gets up again. #RandomChumbawambaJoke

_____HOURS PASS_____

Me: Seriously guys? Crickets on the Chumbawamba reference? That was comedy gold!

New Guy: Sorry I missed it. I was too busy pissing the night away.

Aaaaaaaaaand scene. You know you wish you were in on this. If for no reason other than the unbearably cute baby pictures. What about you, Bookworms? Does your family get into any texting shenanigans?

 

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Aug 31

A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan

Contemporary Fiction, Family 14

Happy Monday, Bookworms!

For those of you back in the office today, I’m pleased to bring you a book about someone who is probably having a crappier day at the office than you are! A few weeks ago I was itching for something new to read when I saw A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan on NetGalley. The cover art was pretty and it was marketed toward fans of Where’d You Go, Bernadette (review) so I decided to give it a whirl. *I received a complimentary copy of this novel for review consideration.*

awindowopensAlice Pearse is a happily married mother of three living in New Jersey. She works part time for a magazine as the books editor and keeps her household running with the help of a crackerjack babysitter. Alice’s life is chugging along at a smooth clip until a major upheaval in her lawyer husband’s career path sends her back into the workforce full-time. She thinks she’s landed the job of her dreams when she is hired by fancy pants startup Scroll, an e-book retailer promising swanky cafe style reading space as well as first edition novels. Of course, things are rarely as miraculous as they seem, especially when it comes to jobs. At the same time her new career is taking flight, Alice’s dad gets sick, her marriage hits some speed bumps, and her world devolves into general chaos. When it seems like “having it all” isn’t working out the way she planned, Alice is forced to take stock and decide what it is she really wants. 

As someone who works full time but does not (yet, hopefully) have children, sometimes this type of novel falls a little flat for me. I suppose I just get frustrated many women’s reality; the fact that a work-life balance seems nearly impossible to achieve. The majority of novels I’ve read in this vein definitely tend toward favoring women scaling back their careers and focusing on their families. While I think focusing on one’s family is awesome, it bugs me that women are always the ones who are expected to scale back, a sentiment I find perpetuated in this type of novel. That’s part of why I found A Window Opens refreshing. It was very honest in its exploration of Alice’s situation and doesn’t present a super clear cut answer. It doesn’t end exactly the way I’d have liked, but at least it doesn’t preach the value of a particular lifestyle. Alice focuses on what Alice wants and what will make Alice happiest. I can get behind a story like that.

What do you think, Bookworms? When you’re reading books about working moms, do you feel that a certain solution is presented as ideal? Do you ever wonder why there are so few books about men’s work-life balance? (Look at me getting all feminist up in here today. Whew.)

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Jan 15

This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

Book Club, Contemporary Fiction, Family, Humor 23

Hi Ho, Bookworms!

Everyone’s family has a little bit of drama and/or weirdness going on. I mean, it wouldn’t be family if there weren’t some sort of dysfunction going on somewhere. I think that’s why I tend to be drawn to family dramas with a twisted sense of humor. This month, my IRL book club (affectionately dubbed “My Neighbors Are Better Than Your Neighbors” because, well, they are) chose This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper to discuss. Holy bagels and lox, Batman, this book was something else!

thisiswhereileaveyouThe Foxman family put the “fun” in “dysfunctional.” After their father passes away (because cancer is a jerk) the four Foxman children convene in their childhood home to sit shiva for their father. For anybody unfamiliar with Jewish custom, sitting shiva is kind of like a week long wake. The mourning family is visited throughout the week and inundated with sympathy food and awkward conversation. (There’s some sort of universal law that says one must feed the grieving. It’s one I subscribe to myself.) Most families would be on the verge of coming to blows after an entire week in close quarters, mourning not withstanding.

Judd Foxman is our narrator, one of the Foxman siblings. In addition to having recently lost his father, he is also in the midst of a messy divorce. Divorces tend to get messy when you catch your spouse in flagrante delicto with your boss. Even more so when you find out said spouse is expecting a child.

Reading about the Foxmans made me feel so normal. I had a great time reading this book and it ran quite the gamut emotionally. One of my favorite things about the book, though, was that almost every time I got the urge to jump through the pages and punch a fictional character, another fictional character took care of that for me. This one isn’t for the faint of heart or the easily offended, but if irreverent humor and quirky familial drama are your thing, you need to give This Is Where I Leave You a read!

Alright Bookworms, let’s talk. Are there any TV shows or books you like to indulge in simply because they make you feel like less of a screw up? I can’t be the only one… Dish!

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Mar 18

Emotions: This Book Will Make You Feel Every Last One (by Anna Quindlen)

Family, Psychological, Tear Jerkers 48

Hey Bookworms,

It’s Monday, so let’s wallow in our collective case of the Mondays, shall we? I’ve got the perfect book to put you in the appropriate mood. Every Last One by Anna Quindlen will make you feel ALL THE FEELINGS.

Mary Beth Latham is a landscape designer and mother of three. She and her husband live an upper middle class life in an upper middle class suburb and have upper middle class problems. Their beautiful teenage daughter Ruby had a bout with an eating disorder, but seems to be recovering well. Though Mary Beth worries about Ruby leaving for college in a year, she’s proud of her remarkable girl. The twin boys pose a bit of a challenge, but they’re at an age when you’d expect them to be complicated. Alex is a soccer star and popular in school. His fraternal twin brother Max, on the other hand, is withdrawn and depressed. But, you know. What’s a little teen angst between twins? Nothing a little cognitive behavioral therapy and/or medication can’t help with. After their experience with Ruby, the Lathams take Max’s suffering seriously.

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To add to this little dramatic suburban slurry, Ruby has recently dumped her boyfriend Kiernan, which has been tough on the whole family. He’s been a fixture in their lives since he was a small child. Kiernan’s family makes the Lathams look like the Waltons, so he was extraordinary attached their “happy” family. Kiernan is heartbroken. Ruby feels guilty. Everyone is hurting. It’s a recipe for a highly rated TV drama, don’t you think?

 

And then… Tragedy strikes. Serious horrible nightmarish tragedy. Your heart will break. You will cry. A lot, probably. I did. Telling you what happens would ruin the book for you, and I gave up massive spoilers for Lent. I will tell you that I didn’t see it coming, and that it hit me like a punch in the gut.

This is going to sound a little masochistic, but the way this book bites into the reader… It’s a good pain. Even if it scars your psyche, a book that can make you FEEL this much is worth the read. It reminds you of how trivial every day annoyances in life can seem when you’re confronted with true unimaginable horror. I definitely recommend this book, but with the caveat that it WILL be a difficult read, emotionally. If you’re in a vulnerable place, it might be a good idea to pass on this one. At least for the time being.

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In solidarity, let us all lament this Monday with our own tales of traumatic reads. What are some of your favorites, bookworms?

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Mar 08

Confession Friday: I Brag About Outwitting my 13 Year Old Cousin

Confession Friday, Family, Humor, Personal, Uncategorized 39

Happy Friday, Bookworms!

It’s been a while, but it’s time to ready the confessional: I take an inordinate amount of pride in having beaten my 13 year old cousin in a battle of wits. You like personal stories, right? No? TOO BAD.

When my dad was about 15, he was attending high school at a seminary because he thought he wanted to be a Catholic priest when he grew up. (Obviously, given my existence, that isn’t the path he chose, but I digress.) My dad was MORTIFIED to learn that he would soon be getting a new sibling. Even 15 year old boys who think they want to be priests know good and well where babies come from, you know? My dad’s only other sibling had arrived before he was old enough to understand the birds and the bees. This is a long way of explaining why I, age 29 (still, but just barely), have a pair of cute as a button full on genetically bona fide first cousins that are 13 and 11 (it’s because my uncle is waaaay younger than my dad, see?)

Adam (the elder of the baby cousins) was born when I was 16. I took a day off of my first real job (working concessions at a movie theater) so I could attend his baptism. The whole time my aunt was pregnant, I insisted on referring to the baby as “Bunny.” When we found out he was going to be a boy, I was undeterred, then calling him “my Bunny Boy.” My extended family lives out of state, so I don’t see them often. About a year ago, my cousin Adam got himself a Facebook page. (Don’t turn him in- I KNOW the youngest age for Facebook is 14 or something- don’t be a bloghole.)

Anyway. Since Adam has gotten a Facebook page I’ve gotten to know him, digitally. This kid is such a smart ass- it’s fantastic. I take ALL THE CREDIT for his snarky eyebrows. He likes to send me messages containing puns and then we battle to out-pun each other. He usually wins, he’s far more practiced (also, I imagine, more adept at internet CHEATING.) A few weeks back, however, I won and it was GLORIOUS.

We have a similar "question mark" face...

We have a similar “question mark” face…

This painful exchange occurred. Be warned, this reads like consecutive Laffy Taffy jokes:

Adam: Animal Puns! You ready?! Alpaca your things so we can leave!

Katie: I don’t think I have the necessary koala-fications to compete with you.

Adam: You’re frogging right you don’t!

Katie: That’s irr-elephant!

Adam: You’re giraffing me crazy.

Katie: This is getting hawk-ward.

Adam: Let minnow when you’re read to forfeit.

Katie: You’re lion to yourself if you think I’ll give up!

Adam: I’m not going to worm out if that’s what you think.

Katie: That’s not so much a pun as an expression… (Says the girl who is running out of ideas…) WAIT! I-DEERS! “I’m running out of I-DEERS!” I WIN! HA!

I then went on to shout my victory from the mountaintops of Facebook. Adam has contested my supremacy, claiming that I was undeserving… Considering this win was isolated and I’ll probably lose the next five battles, I’m still counting it! (Is anybody else glad they didn’t have a Facebook page at 13? I mean, I didn’t have any significantly older and irrefutably delightful cousins to pun with, but my 13 year old self was a nightmare. Pretty glad Adam didn’t inherit THAT.)

Adam, buddy. Be careful what you put out there, mmmkay? You can’t take back anything you say in a hormonal rage the heat of the moment once it’s out on the internet. Trust me on this one, Bunny Boy. Also. Don’t do drugs. Sorry to go all “after school special” on you, but I feel like i need to impart WISDOM and that’s all I’ve got. Please tell your little sister that I will happily pun with her once she’s old enough for Facebook. I’m an equal opportunity AWESOME cousin.

XOXO,

Katie

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Nov 02

The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver

Contemporary Fiction, Family, Psychological 28

Hi Bookworms! Today we’re going to talk about The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver.

Barbara Kingsolver also wrote The Poisonwood Bible which is amazing and I totally suggest you read it if you have any interest… But if it’s too long or too missionary-ish for you, I won’t blame you if you can’t finish it. I’m not an elitist book snob or anything, read what you like. (Okay, maybe I’m a little bit of an elitist book snob, but only a little.)

All of that is beside the point, other than the fact that Barbara Kingsolver wrote The Bean Trees. A high school friend of mine (I used to call her “Pants Pie” and she still talks to me) who is kind enough to read my blog (Hi Megan!) told me that I needed to read this, so I did. I take suggestions seriously, I swear.

This book was a lot different than I expected. I mean. I don’t know what I expected… But a girl from Appalachia who takes great pains not to end up pregnant like a large portion of her graduating class who leaves town only to be saddled with a Cherokee toddler to raise REALLY wasn’t what I expected.

The girl from Kentucky and the foundling from Oklahoma find their home in Tuscon, Arizona.

Did you get all that? Our heroine Taylor (whose real name is Marietta) decides to get the heck out of Kentucky. She’s got a POS car that’s held together with duct tape and chewing gum and she breaks down on tribal lands in Oklahoma. Oh you’re not familiar with US History? So, what happened was, the US government was unbelievably horrible to the Native Americans. European settlers showed up and were all mean and stuff, and eventually pushed the Native Americans out of their homes and shipped them all off on the Trail of Tears. The Trail of Tears was this brutal march to the middle of nowhere (AKA Oklahoma) and there the Cherokee nation resides to this day. Actually, it was several tribes subjected to relocation, but this book focused on the Cherokee, and so shall we.

So while Taylor is stranded in Oklahoma, some crazed woman deposits a sexually assaulted toddler in the backseat of her car. Taylor has no idea what to do. In the end, she decides the kid is better off with her than where she came from (OBVIOUSLY) so she takes the little one with her on her journey to Arizona.

What follows is a beautiful story of family. It’s not always about the family you’re born into, but the family you make for yourself. When Taylor finds herself in Tuscon, she’s utterly alone. A series of fortunate coincidences help Taylor create a new life and a new family for herself and her daughter. Sure, her psychologically damaged foster child speaks exclusively of produce- but that’s okay. Taylor holds out hope that “tomato” and “bean” eventually turn into “mom” and “love.” The random roommate she found in the classified section turns out to be her best friend. Taylor’s boss at the tire shop is a mechanic by day and immigration activist by night. She becomes more than just Taylor’s boss- she becomes her inspiration. Life throws Taylor and her “family” a jacked up set of curve balls and they muddle through it the best they can, and their life? It’s beautiful.

Family comes in all shapes and sizes. Do any of you bookworms have a non-biological family you’ve built?

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