Weekend Awesomeness

Sami's Shenanigans

Who's ready for my favorite post of the week? Monday's Weekend Wrap Up is great because A) I get to brag about how much fun I had and B) I get to relive my weekend without going through the hangovers, early mornings or exhaustion that usually come with them! Take that Monday! 

Anyhooters, this weekend was pretty much greatness. 
What does a great weekend look like? For starters, a great blog link up and a fantastic date night (or 2) PLUS a lunch date with my mom and a sleepover with Mom,  the always entertaining Grandma Terry, cupcakes and the best little bundle of Lucy Wynn. You really just can't go wrong. PLUS the top right is a snapshot of Wendy Lawless, Author of Chanel Bonfire and JoJo Moyes, author of Me Before You, BOTH RETWEETING and complimenting my review of JoJo's book that I posted for the Blogger Book Club on Friday! (that's a book reviewer's dreamboat, people).

Add in a little Instagram love and you get more snuggles, coffee and the heavenly margarita that was bigger than my face. 

Sunday wrapped up with a birthday party and couch time with Olivia Pope. Just once in my life I want the opportunity to give a speech like Olivia Pope. With her lips. And curls for that matter. She's the shit. Kickin' ass and takin' names that girl. 

That's all for the weekend, folks. Check back this week for more info about the "That's What She Wrote" Short Story link up coming soon! 

Blogger Book Club: Me Before You by JoJo Moyes

I have been so excited for this post for weeks!
Welcome to the first edition of The Blogger Book Club! Brought to you by Kay, MirandaAmyMelissa, Stacie and Me!

The Best of Intentions

If you haven't figured out yet that my obsession and love for books is pretty huge, then I really don't know how else to make it obvious. 

I am so excited to talk up a storm about this book: 

This line right here sealed the deal that this book is one of the best I have read in quite a while.

Louisa Clark is a down on her luck girl living with her parents, her sister, nephew and her grandfather. Together, they navigate poverty in a cramped house where Louisa sleeps in a tiny space, aptly named "the box room." 

When the cafe where Louisa works closes, she's forced to go to a placement agency for a job, which leads to not so glamorous stints in fast food joints and a chicken factory. When the agency says there's an opening for a caretaker, Louisa isn't in a place to turn down the job and as it turns out, it's a job that would change her life forever. 

When she meets the man she is hired to care for, she's immediately intimidated by his cold demeanor and the overbearing attitude of his mother, Camilla. Will Traynor is a paraplegic. Once a very successful corporate mogul, he is now confined to a wheelchair with minimal use of his hands and upper body. Louisa tackles the job of caretaker: cleaning his house, feeding him and keeping him company, all jobs which Will makes difficult with his poor outlook on life and over all grouchy exterior, not that I could blame him. 

What I loved most about this book is it's unorthodox story line and the fact that it made me ask the same question over and over again: "What would I do in Louisa's shoes?" 

A shocking thing happened while reading Me Before You. For me, usually I have a one track mind in books and tend to only focus on the main character and their struggles, emotions, etc. but Me Before You did something that most books can't. Without letting them tell their own sides in their point of view, Will, Louisa's sister Treena and Will's mother all were able to make their sides of the story evident. I was just as interested in and empathetic to the outlying characters as the main one, which I think is a great sign of awesome character development. 

So what happens when Louisa overhears Will's mother and sister talking one day and learns that there is much, much more to the story of why Louisa was hired and what her role in Will's life is supposed to be? The secret changes Louisa instantly, I thought. It's like a candle was lit inside her mind and her heart and suddenly she was looking at her life and Will's too, in a whole new way. It was so amazing to see Louisa literally wake up to life. You won't recognize her as the same girl at the beginning of the book to the women you meet at its ending. What she decides to do for Will is a gift so sweet and monumental, it will make you want to spend the rest of your day, month, year, doing good deeds for others.

Will, his family and Louisa are forced to answer questions no mother, sister, lover or friend should ever have to and what happens at the end of the book is a "sit in your chest, let out a deep sigh" feeling that stayed with me long after I closed the book.   

There's so much more to the book that I am not touching on, including family ties, evolving love stories and hardships that all add so much to the story but this is supposed to just be a review so I have to cut myself off! Just do yourself a favor and read this book! 

One more thing before I leave you for the weekend: Have you ever wanted to write a short story? 
Don't be afraid, you know you want to! I think there are tons of creative bloggers out there and I want to see what happens when we can let our imaginations go wild! That's why I am hosting a short story link up next week called 

I could not be more excited to see what everyone has going on in their imaginations! Come back soon for more details PLUS I'll be sharing short stories from some of my FAVORITE bloggers for inspiration and giving you prompts to jump start your creativity! 

Nashville Recap

I really liked Nashville last night! Because of R2's gymnastics, I missed most of Modern Family so all I can really share are my thoughts on Nashville. 

Things that bugged me: 

Why do they have to put in the gay storyline? It's not even important to the story or believable for that matter? That guy isn't any more gay than the Situation. (Don't think you don't think about it).

Two, so predictable that Peggy would tell Teddy she was still pregnant. Called it. Can you say Rielle Hunter?

Also, hospital room scenes on TV always seem way too fake to me. 

And lastly, can we just get rid of Avery already? Or at least his voice. Or his hair. 

BUT there were a lot of great parts that make Nashville my favorite show, hands down. 

For one, the clothes. I loved the dress Juliette wore! Plus I thought country bumpkin Scarlett was a little more hip and a little less home on the range this season, thank Heidi Klumness. 

My favorite part were the flashbacks of Deacon and Rayna. How did they make them look so young again!? I guess I look like I am 12 again with no eye liner and no foundation to cover up my freckles too, come to think of it. I loved getting so much back story for Deacon and Rayna, since there was practically none of it in the first season. It makes you realize why she hid that she was pregnant.

Overall, the musical performances are my favorite part of the show, double points if it's Rayna's daughters. Those girls are amazing. EW.com reports that the girls will see a lot more screen time this season, so that's good news! 

I'm also looking forward to Juliette's new rival that will come on next week. They are shaking things up a bit! Juliette's my favorite even though she is the she devil counter part to Taylor Swift. But just like Tay Tay, you love to hate her and you hate to love her.

Did you watch?! YOU TOTALLY SHOULD if you haven't already! What shows are you pumped about this season? 

Ryder's Favorite Books Lately

An exciting thing has been happening in the last couple of weeks.
I am so thrilled to discover that my love for reading looks as if its found its way into my son's heart as well.

He loves him some Hop on Pop by Dr. Suess. There is no greater joy than hearing him read it to me from his car seat as I drive.

Currently, we are on book #5 of the Magic Treehouse Series, written by Mary Pope Osborne. We read a few chapters every night and even Reese loves them! The first book was about dinosaurs and Ryder is enthralled!

Can you imagine the perfectness of  after reading about dinosaurs in the books and discovering these on Ryder's field trip at the Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo!?

Well played, Henry Doorly, well played! 

Another book we really fell in love with was Spartan and the Green Egg: A Trip To The Rainforest by Nabila Khshoggi. 

It's a great story written in the fast paced style of a comic book that kept Ryder's attention. Each page is packed full of great graphics and images. As an added bonus, the book's website has a great interactive element where you can Google Earth all of the places in the book, which Ryder thought was really cool! 

Another great thing about the book is the great message about nature, the Amazon, animals and friendships. 

When I searched for more information about the author and her book, I found this really great video that gives you an inside look about the adventure and message inside the story 

What books are your kids reading and loving right now? 

*Thank you to Nabila Khshoggi. for a copy of Spartan and The Green Egg. I recieved this copy an exchange for a book review, all opinions are Ryder and I's own.

Life As Is...An Update

Sometimes I get in a rut of blogging about surface things. Not to say those things are bad, I LOVE surface things. I could recommend books, share funny GIFs and talk about being a couch potato til the cows come home but I have been feeling a bit like a liar lately. 

I haven't told a lie, it's just that I haven't been talking about REAL things lately. 

So how is life lately for me? 

It's been 4 months since I moved out of what used to be home, 4 months since I started my life completely over. 

4 months is a very long time, but then it's not. Sometimes it feels like yesterday that my family was one single unit, where the shoes were always in the same pile in the garage instead of two, one there and another across town. It feels like just yesterday my schedule week by week was pretty much set in stone instead of a scramble of who goes where and which parent needs the weekend. 

Sometimes the feeling of change that can't be reversed catches in my throat like a balloon that I can't breathe around. 

Whenever that happens I have just to take a deep breath and look around me. 
I look at the calm of my little apartment that is so....me.
From corner to corner, I've managed to fill the space with things that are just so "Jenni" and it makes the balloon lose some of its fervor and I can breathe a little easier. 

There's chevron on the pillows, books on the shelves and quotes on the walls. Where ever I can find room, there's a clip, a magnet or a push pin that holds a sketch from R1 (Mi mom is the besst), a scribble from R2 or a quote I found on Pinterest. 

Life as an update...my children are thriving. They are so happy. We giggle. We read together. (The Magic Treehouse series, Edward the Emu, Princesses Wear Hiking Boots)
Sometimes we eat at the table, sometimes we have a picnic on the living room floor. We like to go to McDonalds (Cherry Berry Slushies for them, Iced Coffee for me) and sometimes, instead we crush watermelons and ice in the blender for ice-ees. 

I've gone to see my mom and sister and best friends more times in the last 4 months than in entire years passed. More gas money, sure, what's the cost of quality time with the women I love the most in the world? 

I've played with Play-doh, watched Sandlot and colored more times than I can count and for some odd reason, I have the self-awareness to actually enjoy it as it's happening.

And when the sad realization comes over me that it's Wednesday night again and the Rs have to go to their dad's, that ugly balloon flares up again and it's hard to breathe. But then I remember where I was 5 months ago, 2 years ago, and I tell myself to relax. 

Because the Play-dough won't dry up while they are gone and The Magic Treehouse has a secure bookmark in chapter 6, patiently waiting for our next bedtime together. 

In the time they are gone, I keep busy. I read amazing, thoughtful and hilarious blogs. I make Pinterest boards about random things like throw pillows and provoking quotes. 
I have made new friends. People who have lived in the same town as me for years and years but because of the walls I had built, had never been given the opportunity to show me how wonderful they are and how perfectly they fit into my life and my heart. And I spend time with people who make me so happy I want to shout it from the roof tops.

I've been writing more. Mostly for myself but also for a really amazing, women-empowered website. I've played around with the idea of opening more creative outlets for myself, including an Etsy Shop for my wreaths and greeting cards.

Maybe I've even thought about starting a new blog, not to get rid of this one of course but what if there was a blog powered by women who were ready to share their stories in a non-fiction way, like storytelling? And what if they could do it anonymously? And what if their stories where the same stories inside the minds of other women and they connected and found solace in each other? 

Just a thought....

You want to know what else is new? 
I've not that sad anymore. I am not that guilt ridden anymore. 
Would you believe sometimes I even stick up for myself these days? 
The words "keep my name out of your mouth" have actually came out of my own and I couldn't help but be proud of myself.

Because remember, I may have a past, but damn it, this is my future and I am not afraid to take it as my own and make it mine. 

So that's life as an update...and life looks good up ahead.

If You Need Me This Fall, I'll Be On The Couch

There's never been a question whether or not I love TV.

I was 4 and yelling at the dorks on Bozo the Clown who somehow managed to miss the bucket with the ping pong ball everytime. I still don't understand how it could be that hard! (that's what she said). 

Fast forward a couple years and I was following along with my mother's addiction: All My Children. An 8 year old who understands why a women is locked in a well for years and follow along in the complicated life of Tad and Dixie is a pretty cool kid if you ask me.

Can we please just take a minute and marvel at the awesomeness of this sparkling meme? 

And don't even get me started on college. I'll be paying the student loans for years that mostly just allowed me to watch Sex And The City  and One Tree Hill on DVD non stop while wearing head to toe Husker gear, compliments of the student union bookstore.

So here I am today, giddy with excitement that the Fall TV Season is upon us. Currently, I am scrambling to ingest the final episodes of Scandal.
Here are the shows I think will keep me on the couch this fall. (Still rocking my UNL hoodie, thank you very much!) 

Trophy Wife
September 24, 8:30c, ABC

Starring Malin Akerman (who had me at Heartbreak Kid) and Marcia Gay Harden

Party girl Kate falls in love with a man who comes with a lot of baggage, including kids and 2 ex wives. She's also a bit of a drinker. Hilarity ensues. 

And I really don't have to say much more than "Rebel Wilson has her own show"

Super Fun Night
Wed. Oct. 2, 8:30

Starring Rebel Wilson
3 roomates who've spent the last 13 years hanging out in their apartment are forced to go out and live the "night life". Lots of clothing gets ripped and we all feel a little more confident. 

And then of course, I will be watching the old faithfuls: 

Modern Family
Sept. 25, 8:00

Oct. 3, 9:00

And the juggernaut of all shows for me: 

Sept. 24, 9:00

People are all like, I don't like Country Music and I'm like, ummm have you seen Hayden? 

So those are the beginning of my obsessions. Now when Girls becomes available on Netflix or I break down and pay for Hulu, I am sure there will be more to talk about! 

What are you watching this fall? 

Winner Winner, Weekend Dinners

Sami's Shenanigans

Hello Monday, she says while giving the stink eye. Why are you always unfashionable early?? 

So here we are again, looking back on another amazing weekend that went way to fast! 

Friday, my son's kindergarten class took over the Henry Doorly Zoo. 

I promise we had more fun than these two pouty lipped monkeys. 

The zoo has a new, incredible dinosaur exhibit. The dinos move, blink, growl and look so real. R1 was in heaven!

My favorite is always the aquarium! 

Leave it to R1 to show his excitement via a goofy grin: 

I ended Friday by myself, catching up on blog posts, reading and cleaning. Okay well maybe I didn't clean. I moved stuff out of the walking pathways of the apartment and put all the clothes from the floor into the closet. But still. 

Then, I didn't go to the liquor store for wine and the cashier didn't ask me where the party was and I didn't have to answer "Oh, it's just me by myself." 

Yup, that didn't happen. 

Also, My Best Friend's Wedding was on, so it basically WAS a party at my place, even if I was drinking and hanging out by myself.

 I chopped my hair off! 

Also: A BBQ, my oldest friend, her sweet as pie new hubby, their BEAUTIFUL home. 

Best impromptu side salad: 

Bertolli Pesto Tortellini Salad
1 package cheese tottellini pasta
Cherry Tomatoes
Black Olives
Fresh Grated Parmesan Cheese 
Mini Pepperoni Slices
Bertolli Pesto Sauce
(I used almost the entire jar of pesto but you can uses as much or as little as you please)
It was a huge hit! 

Before Steph's, we tailgated ala Buffalo Wild Wings Style and watched a great, exciting first half of the Husker game. 

The second half, well, insert a couple more ounces of beer and a lot LESS football watching friends, because things got ugly in the second half. 

But that doesn't mean we didn't have fun! 

And by fun, I mean Angry Orchard ON TAP. 

Sunday looked like this: 

You can have your pumpkin spice and I'll take the Salted Caramel Mocha, mm kay? 

Maybe I had one of these as well 

No, YOU have an addiction.

Note: If you put the drink on the OUTSIDE of the cart in the little clippy holder, a lady will knock it off and spill it all over isle D13 but if you give the Starbucks lady a pouty face when you ask her what the name  of the drink that you just ordered 10 minutes ago, she'll feel bad and give you another FO FREE! 


I also painted some picture frames, caught up on ALL the laundry and read more of Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. And if you're asking if maybe you should pick up a copy and start reading it as well, the answer is YES. 

And then finally, I ended the weekend with a glass of wine, a movie and a good friend and even though Monday was just a day away, it was still an amazing couple of days! 

Facebook, Dogs, and Compassion

Facebook, Dogs and Compassion

Not 3 things you normally talk about in one sentence, but here I go. 

First,  let me start this little story by telling you that my mom has never been a dog person. She had a traumatic experience with one as a kid and then tried to give my sister and I a Yorkie when we were little, who ended up terrorizing the neighborhood and she really never looked back. (side note: she tried to make up for giving away the cray cray dog by replacing her with gerbils because the guy at Earl May told her they had short life spans. My Chucky lived for 4.5 years. Take that, mom!)

Fast forward to a month ago when this sweetie pie arrived on their door step:

He literally showed up and never left. 
They named him Rodney and he drug their throw pillows and shoes out into their yard but didn't chew them. He just must have liked them in the grass for some reason. With a face like this, you can pretty much do whatever you want. 

When I say that my mom was new at the whole pet thing, I am not exaggerating.  I had the pleasure of talking to her on the phone while she took him on one of their first walks together and she actually said "Oh my gosh, Rodney is pooping. Right now, he's pooping and I have him on a leash. What do I do? Do I look away? Do I block him from people?" 

I just laughed and imagined my mother trying to act as if she had no idea there was a puppy attached to the leash she was carrying. 

Rodney quickly took up a place in our hearts, especially because my mom kept us up to date with Facebook posts like this: 

"Rodney's first trip to the vet. Do I stay and wait or come back? What questions shall I ask the doctor?"

"If someone would have ever told me I would be sitting outside at dusk so I could be with "my dog" I would have never believed them. God knew EXACTLY what I needed. #rodney

She also made Vine videos of Rodney barking after cows and celebrated National Dog Day. I was so happy for her and her new companion and the new layer of companionship he had brought into their lives.

So friends, this is where Facebook comes in and a pretty big piece of sadness as well. 

On my mom's birthday, just a month after Rodney had found them, my mom and dad came home from from dinner to find Rodney laying motionless by their drive way. 

Someone had hit him, and he didn't survive. 

Mom was devastated. 

She took to Facebook to announce the news that her new friend was no longer with them. (It was so hard to read her post because I could totally tell she was trying to be strong even though I know writing it was really hard for her). 

Facebook is supposed to be a great way to connect with people. Unfortunately, Facebook is also a place for people to act braver than they probably would face to face. I think the more people who log into Facebook each day, the less compassion there is in the world. Granted, there are also a ton of great things going on but for some reason, I think Facebook can bring out the ugly in certain people.

Case in point: This woman's uncalled for response to my mom's post saying she had lost her dog friend. 

My mom's post: 

Some chick's awful response: (Second one down)

Like, why? Why Cheryl, whoever you are?  Cheryl went on to say that she is the best dog owner she knows and people should take better care of their pets if they want them to live. 

Couldn't she see that this wasn't the time and place?  Ugh, I just don't understand. 
What is it with the interwebs that give people guts to be rude and robs them of a little more compassion? 

Lesson of the day: Dogs are amazing, bad things happen and people are mean. 

Rodney, you filled their lives with more love from a dog into one month than my mom had known in her entire life. So kudos to you, little buddy. 

And Cheryl? I hope the  dogs roaming in your neighborhood poop all over your lawn. 

Jen, out.