Join Me on a Book Chat

Hello, my name is Jessica and I’m addicted to parenting books.

My friend recently recommended the Gopnik book, “The Gardener and the Carpenter” and I am really enjoying it. Basic premise is the false idea that we should be parenting our children to shape them into who we want them to be, rather we should create the environment where they can thrive in their own way.

Anyone want to book chat along the way with me? Message me or comment if you’d like to be a part of the book chat. ❤

A Bookworm Metamorphosis into Motherhood

In an effort to avoid living in the “Land of Later,” I’m going to go ahead and write about what’s on my mind and skip some of the stuff waiting in the queue. I have considered myself to be a bookworm as long as I can remember. My neighborhood friends can attest to seeing me read under the tall oak trees in our yard. It wasn’t that I actually loved reading under trees, but I’m sure I fell in love with a character who did it, and I imagined it would be cool to emulate a literary idol. Oh, the misguided paths to coolness attempted by the world’s young bookworms.

Well, after creating a handful of tiny humans, I have found my time and energy to read is severely lacking. If I try to read before bed, I am thrown quickly into sleep. And after three or more nightly wake-ups for the last five years, early-rising is reserved for half-awake nursing sessions. But I missed books.  And I also missed the conversations that came with having read books. My answer to “Have you read…?” became the same resounding, “No” as when someone asked me if I watched anything on television that was remotely scary. “No; I’m sure Game of Thrones is probably as epic as you say, but I’ve come to terms with the fact that some things in life are just too scary for me.”

Enter, Audible. Recently I’ve picked up listening to audiobooks and it has been the perfect supplement to my desires to read. Now I get to fulfill my brain’s need for text and can listen while folding laundry or driving while the kids nap (because heaven forbid any of my children sleep in their beds while the sun is up). You can sign up here for a free trial and TWO free audiobooks if any of this resonates with your bookworm heart:

These have been my recent favorites:

How to Manage Your Home without Losing Your Mind
By: Dana K White

I totally recommend this book if you feel like a slob and that no system seems to work to keep your house in order. I could relate to this author more than I’d like to admit but loved her plan and have kept my house relatively clean for almost 6. Whole. Days. If six days of a clean house does not impress you, this book is probably not for you.

Soulful Simplicity: How Living with Less Can Lead to so Much More
By: Courtney Carver
This book was part memoir and part guidance. As I have been working hard to simplify my life, this was a nice listen that kept my motivation and my focus on the way I want my life to feel and the reasons why less stuff equals less stress.

Unconditional Parenting
By: Alfie Kohn
I plan to listen to this book quarterly or more often if needed. If I could have a parenting religion, it would be this. It isn’t easy and requires tons of energy for me to maintain the patience, empathy, and respect needed to parent this way effectively, but every time I listen or read Kohn’s work I am more convinced of its importance.   

I’m about to start Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes and have The Gardener and the Carpenter by Alison Gopnik next in line. Let me know if you want to chat while reading either of those. What other suggestions do you have that should be on to my list?

Road Trip: Day 2

Apparently it’s easier for me to take crazy adventures than it is to write about them. My pre-parent brain would have been able to knock this post out in no time. There would have been plenty of hurdles along the way: indecision about word choice, a thousand re-reads for typos, adding and deleting until the wee hours of the night. That, however, was a lifetime ago. Now I’m a half-decade into sleep deprivation and my brain is so foggy I’m not sure if the trip was even real. I see that there are pictures, bills, and mementos, so I’m going to go ahead and write about what I remember, publish an imperfect post, and move along to the next blurry adventure.

Day 2:

We started the day with a delicious hotel breakfast. It had the right amount of Immediate-keep-kids-happy-food balanced with the We’ll-need-snacks-again-in-five-minutes-food. Off we went to Storyland.

Riding the Kyle Express Train at Storyland

Storyland: Fresno, CA
Storyland is a storybook themed playground from the 1950s with elements of a theme park. It’s tucked into this little area called Roeding Park with other attractions like Playland and the Chaffee Zoo. It was a weekday, so Playland was closed which wasn’t a big deal except it’s hard for kids to see the potential rides and fun without getting to participate. We paid the $5 for parking and bought tickets for everyone- $6 for me and $4 for each kid (including the one-year-old). Plus, the $2 per person add-on for the train ride and we’re already racking up the bill for a relatively low-key place. We enter the park and press the button on the first talking statue- a caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland- which tells you if you want to hear the other stories through the park you must go back to the ticket booth and get a $5 magic key. We’re already out almost forty bucks so, what the heck, bring on the magic.

The Story Box with the Sometimes Magical Key

About two hours later we had experienced all that Storyland had to offer. The train ride was a five-minute novel experience for the kids, but not unlike any similar ride you would find elsewhere. The “magic” key worked in about 4 of the 15 story boxes around the park. Let’s just say I wouldn’t avoid this park at all costs, but I’d recommend keeping your expectations low.

Fresno Storyland
890 W. Belmont Ave
Fresno, CA 93728

We drove the three hours from Fresno to Santa Cruz and checked-in to our next hotel. We still had a couple hours of daylight, so we decided to explore the sites at the nearby state beach.

Natural Bridges State Beach: Santa Cruz

Spotting a Monarch Butterfly Cluster at the Preserve

We paid for parking, stretched our legs, and hiked to the Monarch Grove Natural Preserve where thousands of Monarch Butterflies make their winter home. It was a little tricky as we had been in the car for several hours, but also needed to stay quiet in order to avoid disturbing the butterflies. After checking out a few of the butterfly clusters, we went back across the parking lot and down a path to play at the beach. It was here that I learned my children were not as nervous around the ocean as they were before. Yay for courage; boo for my anxiety. They played in the sand and let a few small waves soak their clothes. Beautiful place where the only stress comes from worrying moms like me.

Natural Bridges State Beach
2531 W Cliff Dr
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

How we had any energy left is still a mystery to me, but we kept the party going and went out to find some dinner. Being a very short drive from the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, we decided to follow the flashing lights.

Beach Boardwalk: Santa Cruz

Maybe because it was cold and I was tired or maybe because I was solo with four kids, but the Boardwalk was, meh. On a warm summer day with the buzz of a happy crowd it would have felt very different. Cold weekday night alone with kids- well, not ideal. There were the typical carnival games, food, and expenses. We shared a plate of nachos and the kids practiced their begging. They begged for every ride. They begged for every treat. They begged for every game. I couldn’t quite figure out the logistics of accompanying the bigger kids on the rides without abandoning our littlest guy with the teen ride operator. We enjoyed ourselves, but I could see how it could quickly drain our budget. Regardless, the Pacific Ocean makes a beautiful backdrop for life.

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
400 Beach Street
Santa Cruz, California 95060
Phone (831) 423-5590