5 Must Reads for the Back to School Mom

How do we prepare for out littles going into the next grade, for putting up the pool bags and replacing them with backpacks waiting to be unpacked of their bursting loose leaf papers? It's such a transition, from not caring about bed time to bed time being the most important time of the day... 

This year, my littlest is off to kindergarten. I don't even know how that happened. Just yesterday, I was buying leggings for her chunky little baby legs on Etsy and now...she wants jeans from Justice and her PBTeen backpack is the best thing to happen since Christmas. 

The big kid is off to great places...third grade. I am so excited for him because that's really the grade where I remember big things happening and learning about the world and how it works. He'll be reading some of my favorites like Charlotte's Web and Percy Jackson... It's such an exciting age.   

I think the hardest thing for me about my kids going to school is the handing off of the baton. At school, everything I have tried to teach them-about respect, kindness, when to be silly and when to be calm- it all gets put to the test. And yes, they are not perfect, I don't expect them to be. But now there are witnesses who can attest to whether or not my children are what I secretly fear them to be, actual little tyrants sent from the clouds to torture me. But, I digress. I know they are just fine and they really never mean any harm. My kids are by far not the best children but let's just say I have been lucky enough never to be at the mercy of a Target aisle meltdown. Probably because they know I would quickly walk away and act like they weren't even mine. They'd know we could just meet up in our meeting spot- the boxed wine aisle. I've taught them well. 

But how do I get through the panic in my chest when I realize these children aren't really aren't just mine? They are their own people now.

I just have to remember that their teachers are also women I consider to be dear friends and I know they are kind-hearted people who will chuckle when my kids "say the darnedest things" and call me if they really have a problem. I trust them to give my children grace but to also set standards that will pull the best out of them. 

The most important thing I know in my heart is that all the other mothers out there are having mixed feelings as well. We are all relieved that summer heat and boredom is over, but also sad that another few months of relaxed schedules has come and gone. We are all excited for the challenge and invigorated by our "organized command center" Pinterest pins and our promises for meeting homework deadlines...and I think a little relieved that even though we know our attempts at organization are probably fruitless... that we will all be just fine in the end. At least, that's my hope anyway. 

As I always do when I am feeling anxious or like I am alone on my own little island of worry, I turn to a book for comfort. For the stories of other mothers who have been there, done that, or had it worse, and even reading about moms who have it way better is sometimes still fun and makes me smile. That's what got me thinking about this list of books for us moms to read during the back to school season. 

Here's a short list of stories that give me more perspective, or just a giggle right when I need it most as I stress about my kids going back to school and growing up faster than I ever imagined they would. Hope you enjoy!  

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty - A bunch of crazies who throw fits, compete against each other and throw food. And the kids are awful too. This twisted account of what happens with parents who have Type A personalities (on steriods) start competing in the PTA Olympics is addicting. I couldn't put it down. It's also becoming a mini series with Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman, which is going to be amazing! 

Where'd You Go Bernadette  - Just a mother who may be losing her mind and a daughter that is sweet, smart and can only begin to imagine what her mother is up to next. 

Prep - Just exactly how far will certain kids go in order to get into the best schools? You'd think an acceptance letter is worth more than a winning lottery ticket. This will make your stress over the next bake sale seem like child's play. 

Five Days Left - A mother fighting a terminal illness, a middle teacher who has adopted one of his students... just a really heartfelt story that is good for the soul. 

The Glass Castle This is one of the most poignant memoirs I have ever read. it just really stuck with me- a young girl and her siblings are forced to basically raise themselves in dire poverty because of abusive and neglectful parents. Wells eventually leaves her family and becomes a successful writer but its her perseverance and hopeful attitude that makes me admire her and her story so much. 

As I finished this, I was pelted in the face with a mini marshmallow from a PVC pipe marshmallow rifle. Is it August 17 at 8:00 a.m. yet?? 

Show Us Your Books: July Edition

I read some great books this month! I only wish I could have read more! 
My favorite by far was One True Loves, read my review from last week here 

If you have read any of these, please let me know what you think! 

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid -The first book to make me cry this year so far. It was the mushy, over the top love story that actually didn't make me cringe, because I usually think some love stories are just too mushy for me. But this, this was perfect. One woman, two men...one she thought she had lost forever and the other, the one she never thought she would love... like I said, it sounds like a Nicholas Sparks wishy-washy love story but it's actually really beautiful. 

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty - Moriarty is the author of some of my all time favorites so I bought this without even reading the synopsis. So far, it's blah and just a lot of set up for whatever big mystery happened at an ill-fated barbecue. Whatever happened better be good because I am over half way into the book and it's a lot of build up and the anticipation is killing me. For as long as it has taken for this book to get to the good part, it better be worth it... I haven't finished so no spoilers but let me know if it's worth it! 

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware This is a great mystery read for the summer! I LOVE a book where you are not quite sure if you can trust the protagonist but you have no choice when they are the only one telling the story. I couldn't tell if Lo was drunk, confused for just plain crazy. But man can she really make a scene. I loved this crazy, twisted book. It's full of lies and really fast paced.  

The Children by Ann Leary  (Read my full review here)  This will be the book remembered as the book I wanted to hug. Such lovable, sweet, clueless characters that you just have to take under your wing. I really enjoyed this one- family dramas are always a favorite. 

The Edge of the Orchard by Tracy Chevalier (audible) I am listening to this story about a couple in the 1800s who try and make a life in the swamps of the frontier...trying to survive with a large family and a wife would can't stay out of the booze. I often read books where the man or father in the story is the problem so this is actually an interesting twist. All James Goodnough wants to do is grow apples and his wife, well all she wants to do is make "jack" with the leftovers. It's interesting and funny without trying....but also sad to watch the struggles of what many families had to go through at that time in our country's infancy. Great read! 

Here's my list for August. The first three are all NetGalley finds, so I am anxious to get started! I have heard a lot of buzz about Siracusa thanks to Liberty and Rebecca at All The Books and when it was a choice for Book of the Month, I had to grab it too. 

Happy Reading! 
What's the best book you read in July? 

 Need more book ideas? Head over to Steph and Jana's blogs for a great list of what other bookworms read in July! 

Book Review: The Children by Ann Leary

Have you ever met a book you just wanted to hug? 

If you just nodded, we are soul mates. Because it does really happen. 

I listened to The Children by Ann Leary via Audible and it was like just listening to a dear friend tell a story... 

That is if you find yourself with a friend who is recluse lies about her life on a made up "mommy blog" sleeps with the groundskeeper and lives in her deceased step father's dilapidated house on the lake. 

Because you know, that happens a lot too. I just couldn't get enough and when the book ended, I instantly missed Charlotte. 

A story about an unconventional family with secrets and worries is my jam. I just loved all of the characters. Leary writes in a way that makes me feel like I've met new friends but also doesn't give it all away at the beginning. There is so much to absorb that you have to keep reading. 

Charlotte, her sister and mother all live in a rambling old house that once belonged to Charlotte's stepdad, who passed away. The house is wrapped up between Joan, his widow, and his 2 biological sons, Perry and Spin. The brothers don't need the house...but Joan's daughters, Charlotte and Sally, need it in a way that no one can quite grasp. They both struggle with pasts and fears that make it impossible to function in the real world. Sally and Charlotte are two of my favorite characters I have read about this year. Their struggles and inner demons are real and I felt myself nodding along because I recognize a lot of the same anxieties in myself.

Charlotte's romance with groundskeeper Everette is intriguing... and I love how they navigate their strange relationship.

When Spin brings his new fiancee to the house, there are many opinions among the family about her intentions. Some are nice...and some are far from it. Who's right? Will Laurel destroy the complicated yet complacent life Charlotte and her family have built? 

The backstories and honest observations from Charlotte create a great piece that you will want to keep reading.

Next up, I am listening to The Edge of the Orchard, by Terry Chevalier, a historical fiction piece about a pioneer family in the mid 1800s, navigating their life on unknown territory. 
I'm also currently reading Truly, Madly, Guilty at all hours of the night because insomnia. And though it's got my attention so far, it's not has "Oh my gosh, I can't put this down" as Big Little Lies  and The Husband's Secret but I am not giving up too soon. Also, how cute is this bookstragram? 

My local Hastings is going out of business so I picked up a nice little bookstack the other day: 

My life: So many books, so little couch time. Have you read any of my July/Aug reads? 

Happy Happy Reading, friends!