What I’m into (July 2015 edition).

As always, I’m joining my friend Leigh Kramer to share what I’ve been into lately.

On June 30 we lost our minds (or our hearts, depending on how we’re feeling in the moment) and welcomed home a six pound puppy, and that tiny little guy has dominated our July. I haven’t had a puppy since I was 9 years old, and everyone who compared getting a puppy to bringing home a baby was too right.

This is definitely Parenthood Lite, but my sleep took a serious hit the first couple of nights and my productivity suffered for much longer than that.


He’s a lab/terrier mix, we named him Bingley, he’s equal parts sweet and rowdy. Training is going well, but is time-consuming. Your all’s comments about our new addition were so encouraging, and I picked up one mantra there that has been very helpful: nothing in life is free. We are working hard at this training thing in the hope that it will pay off big-time down the road.

While some days it feels like all-puppy, all-the-time around here, we made sure to squeeze in some fun high summer activities while we still could. (The first day of school feels like it’s right around the corner.)

We’ve made lots of time to play with local friends and out of town ones. We’ve been swimming and biking and hiking. We’ve been on a few bigger adventures (even though we canceled one weekend getaway because of the pup). We’ve spent many steamy afternoons reading good books inside, in blessed air conditioning.

And we’ve been making practical plans and talking Crazy Talk about the fall season, because it’s so close I can almost taste it. I’ll be sad when summer’s over, but not too sad, because the heat index as I type is

What I’m listening to

I have no idea what inspired me to revisit the Veronica Mars soundtrack (tv show, not movie) for the first time in years, but if I wasn’t listening to it digitally on Spotify I’d be wearing it out. It’s so much fun and great writing music (even if I do consistently skip a few tracks).

More moody writing music: Feist, Beach House, Greg Laswell. On the opposite end of the spectrum, we’re putting together a family playlist for our upcoming August road trip. My kids love peppy, popular music, the kind you’d hear on the radio. Any recommendations?

What I’m watching

This month, by some miracle, I actually watched a few movies. (It’s been a long while.)

We have a hard time watching movies as a family because my HSP kids are squeamish about trying new ones. Will and I persuaded them to give The Rookie a try and the kids loved it. Silas (age 5) got a little bored with the non-baseball parts but it was still a big hit.

I re-watched The September Issue because it’s been on my mind lately. I just happened to read The Knockoff the same week. Perfect timing. (Now I’m itching to re-watch The Devil Wears Prada, and while I enjoyed it at the time I don’t remember loving it so much that it would be worth viewing again. Am I remembering wrong?)

library haul

What I’m reading

I’m trying to stick to my summer reading list: I read Dead Wake, The Knockoff, and Little Women, and I burned through Louise Penny’s whole Inspector Gamache series (more on that soon).

I read two of summer’s big releases: Go Set a Watchman (here’s my take on how to read it) and Ernest Cline’s Armada. I also finally read 84, Charing Cross Road and The Book Thief—two books everyone has read but me.

We’re headed to the beach this August and I’m starting to think about what books I want to bring along. Suggestions? It’s not like my TBR list needs new title but I’m always up for a good beach read recommendation.

Favorite finds from around the web

• Who said it: John Green or Anne of Green Gables? I got a measly 67% on this.

The magic of tidying up—digitally. “The problem for me was, how do I apply to ephemeral digital objects a method that involves probing our emotions about a thing by touching them? On a hunch, I started with my iPhone.”

• Book lovers on instagram vs. reality. This is perfect.

• Ten 5-minute habits that can change your life. Make your bed, floss, be quick with compliments. Ten easy habits that will improve your life.

On the blog

The life-changing magic of tidying up, for kids. “Tidying up for kids has its special challenges, and this is the biggest: kids grow and change constantly. ”

What self care looks like for me right now. “These days, I try to take good care of myself. I used to think self care was silly and indulgent; now I view it as something vital—essential to my health and my sanity.”

• Two big-picture concepts that help me plan my days/weeks/months. “The planning stuff does not come naturally to me, but I’ve finally realized that my life goes much, much better when I embrace rhythms and routines.”

I took my 8-year-old to the tattoo parlor and here’s how it went. “For all you parents who think you may have a piercing in your future, I hope this is helpful as you decide what to do, and where to go.”

From the trenches of parenting a highly sensitive child. “Once I knew what I—and my kids—were dealing with, we could make the appropriate adjustments. It’s made a significant difference in our family life.”

Please hit me with road trip music and beach read recommendations in comments! And I’d love to hear what YOU were into in July.  

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Leave A Comment
  1. Amanda Roby says:

    Thanks in part to your steady voice over the last few years (along with a few others that are steadily helping me learn that *my* voice is important), I have owned up to something I’ve kept a secret since my teenage years passed.

    I love pop music. Horrible, cliche, sugary pop music. Adore it. My daughter and I enjoy dancing to Megan Trainor. Now that I’ve found the Kidz Bop versions on Amazon Prime Music, I don’t even feel guilty about that. My husband doesn’t get it, but I’m owning it anyway. I still listen to a lot of other genres, and I think my music library is much more varied than my hubby’s, but I finally feel like I’m owning everything I like, and it feels good!

    Your comment about your kids liking pop music made me realize I wanted to thank you for helping me own my voice. Even if it’s a voice that loves saccharine, bouncy music. Ha!

  2. Dee says:

    Sound Cloud is a great place to discover new music… If you click “explore,” you can listen to various tracks across different genres. I’m pretty sure many people know this site already, but I just discovered it and love it.

    That article about Instagram and reality is hilarious 😀

  3. Girl in Boston says:

    I keep meaning to try either the Barenaked Ladies or They Might be Giants albums for kids. I am finishing up the Nightingale which is a great audiobook.

  4. Sara K. says:

    I would love to know what you thought of The Book Thief. I was so excited to read it and bought the kindle version not long after the movie was released. I’m not sure what happened, but I really struuuuuuuuuuuuggled to get through it. Maybe it’s because I broke down and watched the movie before I finished the book?

    I got stuck about halfway through and only just picked it back up a few weeks ago. I did finally finish it, and the ending was touching and beautiful. I’m glad I read it, but I still can’t figure out why it wasn’t a slam dunk for me!

    • Lisa says:

      Sara K—
      I had the same problem with The Book Thief. I had checked the ebook out of the library and had to abandon it. Then I got a hard copy for Christmas and tore through it. Maybe it works better as a physical book?

      • Sara K. says:

        You may be right! I still prefer paper books over ebooks, but sometimes I find it easier to slip in reading with an ebook. I may try reading it again someday as a paper book!

  5. Ana says:

    I got 73% on that quiz—and I’m re- (re-re-re-) reading the Anne series RIGHT NOW. I loved the Devil Wears Prada. Its one I’ve re-watched several times (I rarely do that, much more likely to re-read than re-watch!)
    I’m kind of burnt out on reading new books right now. I’m happily sinking into Anne for the next few weeks.

    • Betsy says:

      I second rewatching The Devil Wears Prada!
      I just rewatched it on a long flight….it was one of the movies United offered for free in their in-flight services…and I was sort of sad that the flight landed before the movie did!

  6. Ciera says:

    That BuzzFeed article on Instagram vs. real life was so accurate. Had to share with my family.

    My July has been focused on transitioning to my new position at work. There’s a lot more responsibility, so I’m consciously conditioning myself to leave work at work and not bring it home with me.

    July has also re-introduced me to audio books! I haven’t listened to them in years, but decided it would be a great way to spend my commute time to work (reading in a vehicle makes me sick). I’m loving it!

  7. Carrie says:

    For fun I’ve been pulling up the “South Carolina Beach Music” station on Pandora while we’re at the pool. It’s a bit like the Dirty Dancing soundtrack.

  8. Jill says:

    As part of the magic of tidying up digitally…I feel weighted by our family’s digital photos and videos. We are a mostly MAC house. I am interested in your recommendations? How have you (or maybe you haven’t :)tackled the challenge of organizing, storing, sharing your photos/video? I have found http://www.thislife.com (no affiliation), which was recently purchase by Shutterfly to be very helpful in uploading photos, adding a timeline and applying face-recognition filters, but then I wonder about backing up all of our photos and video – memory stick? Clouds? Thank you for considering this as a future post!

  9. Patti Cory says:

    I like light reading in the summer so after my vacation, I took another “vacation” by reading Jenny Colgan’s The loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris. I read the Little Beach Street Bakery earlier this summer from your reading list and really enjoyed that as well.

  10. Teresa Simmons says:

    Thank you for sharing the book lovers on Instagram vs. Reality link. I can’t stop laughing! So true, but gosh those beautifully crafted photos make me happy.

    We did a major road trip/cross country move this summer, so I’ve sadly not had as much time for reading as usual. I did manage to read the pretty Puffin in Bloom edition of Heidi, which I enjoyed — and which didn’t require much of me. I’m currently reading Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. It took me nearly 200 pages to get into it, but now that I’m in the final stretch it’s entertaining enough, though probably not a beach read. :-/

  11. Kathryn says:

    And all i want to know…love your blog. I books books books…
    However. The purse in the photo with the dtack of books. Exactly what i am looking for. Where did you find it? Thank you!!

  12. Rebecca Jo says:

    Being a photographer, my June was swamped with babies – not brides. Though they have all been previous brides 🙂

    Oh, puppies aren’t for the faint of heart. They are a lot of work.. .but worth it all.

  13. Lee Ann says:

    73% on the Anne of Green Gables quiz. I think my score would have been lower except that I’m currently reading The Fault in Our Stars, so I recognized some of the John Green quotes.

    I got about halfway through The Book Thief before I had to return it to the library, and I’m conflicted about whether or not to finish it. It’s…I don’t know, just not grabbing me the way I thought it would.

  14. Jennifer says:

    I’m heading out tomorrow with my man for my 20th(!) anniversary vacation to the Dominican Republic and I have searched all summer for something new to read on the beach. I finally settled on the first two Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling) mysteries. I read a couple of chapters to make sure I liked them and so we will see! I’m hoping for page-turners but will settle with enjoyable. Has anyone out there read these and what did you think?

    • Jeanne says:

      Congratulations on 20 years! I loved the first book and just started the second, but so far it hasn’t grabbed me. The writing is a bit slow and quite detailed, but I’m only a couple of chapters in. Enjoy the holiday, we’re at the tail end of winter, and I’ve had enough!

  15. MelissaJoy says:

    Your music suggestions sound right up my alley. We are really (really!!!) into Josh Garrels right now (Love, War and the Sea in Between album). This album pairs well with hosting, thinking and winding down. Our six year old daughter is humming along now 🙂 Ingrid Michaelson is a fave with her too. We listen to WXPN kids show as well as the adult stuff. I adore this station and you can stream live. Okee Dokee Brothers are always a hit, too. Enjoy building your playlist! Perhaps you could share some of the kids faves after the trip.

  16. Erica says:

    My favorite books so far this summer (you might have already read them I tend to be the last one to read things) were The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro and orphan train. Both were easy reads that hooked me right away. For pop music in the car I th you can never go wrong with the Beatles, the beach boys, or other Classic 50s 60s stuff. In my classroom I some go with Taylor swift because it’s got a fun beat and tends to be pretty clean lyrics wise. Hope that helps, love your blog!

  17. Taylor Irby says:

    Please pick up a copy of Meeting Miss Irby by Josh Irby (yes, that’s my husband!) I have to say, even though I’m bias, it’s really really good. It was originally released here in Bosnia (where we live) and was on the top 10 list for 8 months. (not bad for his first book!) It’s a beautiful true story that will move you deeply. It was released in America the year after here, so you can find it on Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Meeting-Miss-Irby-Joshua/dp/0985295317
    Happy reading! And that puppy is adorable!

  18. Leigh Kramer says:

    I want to hear more about Crazy Talk! Have you read any Jennifer E. Smith? I read This Is What Happy Looks Like a couple of weeks ago and thought it would be a great beach read. Regardless, you absolutely must read The Word Search. I flew through it last weekend and it’s definitely one of my new favorites.

    • Anne says:

      I’ve read Jennifer Smith, but haven’t read This Is What Happy Looks Like. It sounds like a great beach read so I ordered it from the library immediately. And I’ve never heard of The Word Search! Will remedy, pronto.

  19. Sarah k says:

    I got 67% on the quiz, too! As excuse I plead that I have never read a word of John Green. But as a life-long Anneite I expected myself to do better. 😉 I feel better being in company with you, though!

  20. Karen says:

    For a beach book, I really liked Enchanted August, by Brenda Bowen–particularly if you’ve read/watched Enchanted April and liked that. And thank you for recommending The September Issue! Don’t know how I missed that, and my daughter and I both really enjoyed it.

  21. Bev says:

    Have read a number of books you mentioned – Book Thief, 84 Charing Cros, Magic of Tidying Up -and enjoyed then all. But it was Louise Penny’s that I enjoyed the most. Waiting imaptiently for her latest the end of August!

  22. Jamie says:

    Your puppy has been killing me with his cuteness on Instagram. My friend played the Kidz Bop version of “Shake it Off” a while back, and we’ve been shaking it off ever since. And I was surprised how much I liked that Huff Post link on 10 five-minute habits. Now to floss…

  23. s says:

    Not a beach read or bouncy music, but we all love Bill Harley’s story ads for road trips. We love Blah Blah Blah – they are such funny and engaging stories that have us cracking up n minutes!

  24. I just read a fun, light, beachy read recently–Twenties Girl. It’s by the author of the Shopaholic series (which I haven’t read). I had been reading a lot of nonfiction recently, so it was a nice change of pace!

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