What’s On My Bookshelf Tag

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I was tagged by Grace at Delightful Narratives. If you haven’t read her blog, make sure to check it out!  It’s great 🙂

RULES:

  • Link back to me so I can see everyone’s answers! (Book Coffee Happy)
  • Also link back to the person who tagged you!
  • Name one book for each category; try not to repeat books to make this more fun!
  • Tag at least 5 people

This post contains Amazon affiliate links.  Click the image below to order the book through my Amazon affiliate link.  When you order through this link, I receive a tiny commission. Thank you for your support, Xo

A LIBRARY BOOK

So I’ve checked this book out of the library THREE SEPARATE TIMES now…and I still haven’t read it.  I keep checking it out but other books always seem to come first for me to read and then I return it!  Does this happen to anyone else?  One day I will read this book, I think it looks great!  Have any of you actually read it???

A BOOK I GOT AS A GIFT

Check out this photo and caption that I posted on Instagram last week!

A CHILDHOOD BOOK

I LOVED this book when I was younger!  So, so good.

A MAGICAL BOOK

If you haven’t read this book, you absolutely must.  It’s such a beautiful and magical story.

A ROMANTIC BOOK

Oh this book.  It’s WONDERFUL.  In every way.

A STEAMY BOOK

YESSSS. Read my review of this book here.

AN OLD BOOK

I read this book about a million years ago.  I loved it so much that I actually read it twice!

A BOOK THAT MAKES ME HAPPY/LAUGH

Check out my review on this post!

A BOOK THAT MADE ME EMOTIONAL

I read this on an airplane years ago.  As soon as I pulled it out of my carry on bag, the lady sitting next to me handed me a tissue!  She told me that I would be needing it.  Sure enough by the end of the flight…I was SOBBING.  Like…weeping.  Make up everywhere.  Hiccups.  The lady just looked at me, nodded once, and said, “Told you.”

A BOOK WITH AN ENDING I DISLIKE

Check out my review on this post!

A BOOK I WISH HAD ILLUSTRATIONS

Let me make this very clear: I do NOT wish that the actual childbirth section was illustrated (absolutely no need to see stuff like that when you’re pregnant…you will experience the reality of what childbirth truly looks like soon enough.  Spoiler:  it’s messy.)

However, illustrations throughout the rest of the book would have been great!  This book is HILARIOUS and a must read for any pregnant women.  If you or someone you know is pregnant and can handle allllllll the details of pregnancy in a truly funny/graphic/no topic too personal way, this book is awesome.  Jenny McCarthy is hilarious!

A BOOK OR GENRE I LOVE TO READ WHEN IT’S RAINING

Absolutely anything.  The sound of rain is one of my favorite things in the world and reading while listening to it is perfection.  Add in a delicious candle, a cup of coffee, and a sleeping child on my chest…and you have my definition of pure heaven.

NOMINATIONS

I nominate:

A Fondness for Reading

Book Serendipity

Jenniely

Never Enough Books

Keeping Up With MJ

What’s on YOUR bookshelf?  Have you read any of the books that I discussed today?

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3 Interesting Nonfiction Books

Happy Friday!

I hope you are doing something fun this weekend.  We have 2 Hanukkah parties (one rescheduled from last weekend) and another one with more family!  We are so fortunate to have so many people to celebrate with…we get to extend the holiday for another weekend even though it technically ended last week.

My 2.5 year old son has his first soccer class this morning!  He keeps saying that he “doesn’t want to kick a ball” so this should be fun for everyone. 🙂  Good luck to his coach!

As many of you saw on Facebook, a few weeks ago I was invited to attend the Midwest Writers Association joint meeting with the Windy City Historians.  I had such a nice time!

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I left with new friends, new knowledge, and 3 wonderful new books.

Full disclosure: I was given copies of these 3 books to feature on my blog.  All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.

Mollie’s War: The Letters of a World War II WAC in Europe

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Synoposis:

The 150,000 women who served in the Women’s Army Corps are now seen as the undersung heroes of the Second World War. This memoir describes the life of a WAC enlistee who would serve in England when it came under attack, France immediately after the Allied invasion, and Germany after VE Day. From her experience in basic training in Daytona Beach to the climactic moment when she saw the Statue of Liberty as her ship approached American shores upon her return home, this work provides a glimpse into the life of a woman in uniform during this crucial time in American history.

My Thoughts:

The discussion topic of the meeting that I attended was “expressing your passion” and how a writer discovers and applies that passion into his/her writing.  Listening to Cyndee Schaffer describe how this book came to fruition was the definition of how a writer discovers and applies her passion into her writing.

This book is made up of her mother’s stories and contains actual pictures and letters throughout.  I love how she tells the stories through these avenues, it makes for a very interesting read.

It’s a beautiful, fascinating book written by a lovely mother daughter team.

Redlined: A Memoir of Race, Change, and Fractured Community in 1960s Chicago

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Synoposis:

Set against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement, Redlined exposes the racist lending rules that refuse mortgages to anyone in areas with even one black resident. As blacks move deeper into Chicago’s West Side during the 1960s, whites flee by the thousands. But Linda Gartz’s parents, Fred and Lil choose to stay in their integrating neighborhood, overcoming previous prejudices as they meet and form friendships with their African American neighbors. The community sinks into increasing poverty and crime after two race riots destroy its once vibrant business district, but Fred and Lil continue to nurture their three apartment buildings and tenants for the next twenty years in a devastated landscape―even as their own relationship cracks and withers.

After her parents’ deaths, Gartz discovers long-hidden letters, diaries, documents, and photos stashed in the attic of her former home. Determined to learn what forces shattered her parents’ marriage andundermined her community, she searches through the family archives and immerses herself in books on racial change in American neighborhoods. Told through the lens of Gartz’s discoveries of the personal and political, Redlined delivers a riveting story of a community fractured by racial turmoil, an unraveling and conflicted marriage, a daughter’s fight for sexual independence, and an up-close, intimate view of the racial and social upheavals of the 1960s.

During the meeting that I attended, we discussed our passions.  I explained that reading has always been a huge passion of mine, and writing this blog has given me a creative outlet to take my passion to a whole new level.  After the meeting, Linda Gartz gave me a copy of her book and when I opened the cover later, I discovered this:

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Love.

My Thoughts:

The biggest lesson that I learned during that meeting was to always let your passion drive your writing…and Linda Gartz did exactly that while creating this interesting book.

Filled with actual photos and relics, this book was especially interesting to me as I am from and currently reside in a suburb of Chicago.  I loved reading about the history of my city and I learned a great deal.  The personal stories she told about herself and her family were interesting and added such personality to the factual information told throughout the book.

This book would make a fantastic present for anyone who was growing up in Chicago during this time period!

Heart and Soul (Second Edition) A Psychological and Spiritual Guide to Preventing and Healing Heart Disease

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Synoposis:

A medical doctor argues for the importance of spiritual and psychological well-being in the battle against heart disease and outlines his five keys to healthy living and seven keys to a healthy heart.

My Thoughts:

Who among us can’t use helpful tips on managing our health?  This book outlines basic techniques you can do to improve your overall health.

It is written in 2 parts.  Part 1 (You and Your Heart) describes the basic relationships that we all need to have with ourselves and our doctors.  It goes into detail on the various components of heart health including identifying and handling stress.  Part 2 (The Spiritual Heart) discusses spirituality, God, and death.

Personally, I am always looking for ways to improve my health and find the topic of self care to be so important for anyone at any age.  This book gives simplistic, easy to follow advice that anyone would find to be beneficial.

Thank you, Midwest Writer’s Association, for inviting me to your meeting!  I had such a lovely time.

It would really help me if you could follow/subscribe to my blog.  Also, please “like” my Facebook page ,  follow me on Twitter, and follow me on Instagram!

Click the image below to order the book through my Amazon affiliate link.  When you order through this link, I receive a tiny commission. Thank you for your support, Xo


(Note: The above link of Heart and Soul is for the 1st edition)

A Book Blogger’s Instagram in an Instant

Do you follow Book Coffee Happy on Instagram?

I joined Instagram last month and I am LOVING it. So much.

I’ve always adored taking pictures and am loving being able to now share them with others.  I’ve met lovely people, joined a December “Bookmas” photo challenge, and have added about a million books to my TBR list thanks to posts by other book bloggers.

And the stories! I love doing stories! Once my very patient cousin Jessica showed me what to do, I’ve been having such fun with it. I’ve made videos of myself, made polls, asked questions, etc. It’s so much fun and definitely addicting.  My “highlights”  section has videos of my book recommendations, giveaways, etc. Check it out!

Here are a handful of photos that I’ve taken over the past month and posted to my Instagram account (see my account for photo explanations, lol).  Just like my blog, it has lots of posts about books with bits of my personal life sprinkled in. 🙂

These are just a handful of my photos but you can get the idea 🙂

Are you on Instagram? If so…head over there, follow me, and join the fun!

Xo,

Jenny

It would really help me if you could follow/subscribe to my blog.  Also, please “like” my Facebook page ,  follow me on Twitter, and follow me on Instagram!

4 Books I Started but Didn’t Care to Finish {Part 1}

Hi Friends!

How was your weekend?  Remember on Friday when I was excited that we had 3 Hanukkah parties to attend this past weekend???  2 words: sick toddler.  1 party got rescheduled for next week (it was supposed to be at our house), 1 party was attended by my daughter and I, and the last party was attended by my husband and my daughter.  Not at all how I envisioned our fun family weekend to be but sometimes that’s life, right?  My little boy seems to be feeling much better today!  I hated seeing him like that.  Poor thing.

I posted a photo on Instagram from the 1 party I actually went to:

My best friend’s mom has this beautiful tradition where everyone who attends her party brings their own menorah and we all light them together.  There’s something so magical about watching the menorah candles glow and seeing so many at once is absolutely one of my favorite holiday traditions every year.  This year was extra interesting because one of the menorahs next to me fell over with all of it’s lit candles and I grabbed it just in time before anything or anyone got burned!  #hanukkahherojenny

After I wrote this post Let’s Chat: How Long Until You Officially Abandon A Book? I received so many responses and it got me thinking…There are SO many books that I have abandoned before finishing.  I hate doing that but sometimes it’s just necessary.  As I’ve said before, there are way too many amazing books out there to be stuck reading something you don’t love!

Welcome to the first installment of a new series I will be doing from time to time called “4 Books I Started but Didn’t Care to Finish”!

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This post contains affiliate links. I receive a small commission if you purchase through these links. I obviously wouldn’t recommend buying ANY of these books but if you do…I would be thankful if you could do it through my links, lol 😉

Let’s dive right in…

Where’d You Go, Bernadette: A Novel

People RAVE about this book.  All the time.  I was so excited to read it!  I made it about 50 pages in before I called it quits.  Why do people love this one so much?  I absolutely hated the writing style.

One Day (Vintage Contemporaries)

I LOVE the synopsis of this book. I tried…so hard…hated it.  Everything about it.  From page 1.  Broke my heart because I so wanted to love it.  I even went back and tried again!  Still couldn’t get into it. Ugh.

Twilight (The Twilight Saga, Book 1)

I liked it.  It was fine.  I didn’t LOVE it…and about a quarter of the way through, I called it quits.  Would it have gotten better?  I’m sure it would have!  I just was a bit too bored to stick around to find out.  Eh.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium Series)

Oh dear lord did I DESPISE this book from the very first sentence on the very first page.  Again, see this post for details: Let’s Chat: How Long Until You Officially Abandon A Book?  I’m going to go ahead and call this my LEAST favorite book I’ve ever read.  Of all time. In my entire life. And I have read A LOT of books.  I was so sure I would love it that I bought all 3 books in the series before I even opened the cover of the first one. I sold all 3 the following summer for $1 each at my garage sale. I will gladly take $3.00 over owning these 3 books any day!

I would love to hear your thoughts.  What books have you started but didn’t care to finish?  Have you read any of the above books?  Did you like them?  Let’s discuss in the comments!

It would really help me if you could follow/subscribe to my blog.  Also, please “like” my Facebook page ,  follow me on Twitter, and follow me on Instagram!

 

Book Review: Pretty Baby {Mary Kubica}

Hey Everyone!

Happy Friday 🙂  I hope you all have some fun plans for this weekend.

We have 3 Hanukkah parties to attend!  Our weekend will be filled with latkes, presents, dreidels, menorahs, and lots of family and friends.  Happy 6th night of Hanukkah to all who are celebrating!  So far, my daughter’s favorite gifts have included her hamster and a gigantic Hatchimal (turns out I am just as excited about this toy as she is.  Do any of your kids have one???  It’s awesome!)  My son’s favorite gifts so far have included an Elmo lift the flap potty book (he received it 2 nights ago and we’ve easily read it 10 times already) and dinosaur figurines.  My husband bought me an online blogging course!  I’m so excited, hopefully I will learn all kinds of blogging tips to help Book Coffee Happy GROW!

I Am Brave and Unafraid Giveaway Winners

Congratulations to:

Debbie (I would donate this book to the Roy School library. I have been working in this library for 13 years. The students are always very excited to see new books that I display. This book would be a great addition to our library. Thank you 😃📚)

and

Becca V. (This sounds like a wonderful book to join my classroom library. As a first grade teacher I’d love to have the opportunity to share the important message of this book.
This year I’m really trying to focus on social emotional skills with my students and mentor text are a great way to start the conversation and understanding of these important topics and issues.
It would also be terrific to be able to donate a copy of this book in our school library so that the whole school can have the chance to read the book. Often times the books I read in class are the ones my students like to check out so having a copy in the library would be fantastic and then my students can share it with their families. 🙂! )

Ladies, please email me at bookcoffeehappy@gmail.com and we will arrange all of the details!  Congratulations!

If you didn’t win this one, no worries…I have some AWESOME giveaways coming your way soon!  Stay tuned 🙂

And now…A book review!  I read this book years ago and LOVED it so much.

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

She sees the teenage girl on the train platform, standing in the pouring rain, clutching an infant in her arms. She boards a train and is whisked away. But she can’t get the girl out of her head…

Heidi Wood has always been a charitable woman: she works for a nonprofit, takes in stray cats. Still, her husband and daughter are horrified when Heidi returns home one day with a young woman named Willow and her four-month-old baby in tow. Disheveled and apparently homeless, this girl could be a criminal—or worse. But despite her family’s objections, Heidi invites Willow and the baby to take refuge in their home.

Heidi spends the next few days helping Willow get back on her feet, but as clues into Willow’s past begin to surface, Heidi is forced to decide how far she’s willing to go to help a stranger. What starts as an act of kindness quickly spirals into a story far more twisted than anyone could have anticipated.

My Thoughts:

(Disclaimer: I will never post spoilers in my reviews HOWEVER the comment section is completely fair game to discuss any and all specifics including spoilers)

5 Stars

I absolutely love Mary Kubica and this book is what started it all for me.  It’s AWESOME.  Full of suspenseful twists and a great plot.  I truly couldn’t put this book down and  absolutely loved it from page 1.   Once you start reading this book you will not be able to stop until you get some answers…

The characters, the PLOT TWISTS, the story lines…everything was just awesome.  I don’t want to give too much away so I’ll just say this:  Read this.  It’s fantastic.

For my local readers, Mary Kubica is from Chicago and this is the setting for her books!  I would love these books regardless but actually knowing the places she refers to makes her books that much better for me.  I definitely do not love all of her books but overall I think she’s so amazing.  She has written more since this one but this book is by far her best!  Highly recommend.

Bottom Line:

This was the very first psychological thriller I ever read and I instantly fell in love with the entire genre based upon this one awesome book.

Have you read this book?  What did you think?

It would really help me if you could follow/subscribe to my blog.  Also, please “like” my Facebook page ,  follow me on Twitter, and follow me on Instagram!

Click the image below to order the book through my Amazon affiliate link.  When you order through this link, I receive a tiny commission. Thank you for your support, Xo

***Children’s Book GIVEAWAY (4 books)*** I Am Brave and Unafraid {Arielle Turover Cohen}

This is a very unique and special giveaway!

There will be 2 separate winners.  Each winner will receive 2 copies of the book…1 hardcover copy for them AND will also receive an additional hardcover copy of the book to donate to a classroom or library of their choice!  Both books will be dedicated and autographed.

What a perfect time of year to be able to donate and share something so special with others.  Any classroom or library would be lucky to receive a copy of this adorable book…and you can make it happen along with receiving a copy for your own family at the same time!

Synoposis from Amazon:

A big boy falls asleep and enters the magical world of dreamland. Soon his exciting adventure turns into a bad dream. Deep in sleep he uses his POWER OF THOUGHT to create a change. As he repeats the words “I Am Brave and Unafraid” his confidence grows, he faces his nightmare, and discovers what happens!

My Thoughts

I really love this book. It teaches such an important coping strategy in very child friendly terms. Having fears is such a common and real issue for children…this book does a great job of acknowledging those fears and teaching how to handle them in a straightforward and simplistic way. The illustrations are absolutely adorable! Ascetically it’s such a beautiful book. I love everything about this book and can easily see myself using the words “I am brave and unafraid” to help my children work through their fears should they arise in the future.

As a teacher, I would have loved having this book in my classroom! It would have been so helpful on numerous occasions. I can think of specific students from my years of teaching who really would have benefited from reading this.

This is definitely a book any parent, teacher, grandparent, or librarian should have.

My 6.5 Year Old Daughter’s Thoughts:

“I liked when he sang.  This book taught me that even if we’re afraid of something we can still go and do it.  I liked when the animals were sticking out their tongues!  I want to read this book again.”

A Conversation with Arielle Turover Cohen, In Her Own Words:

Briefly give a description of your book:

A young boy falls asleep and enters the magical world of dreamland. Soon his happy dream turns into a scary nightmare. By using his power of thought he gains self-confidence and becomes brave, thereby transforming his nightmare back into a pleasant dream.

How did you create the idea for your book?

In the same night our two children complained of nightmares.  Our daughter, who was 5 at the time, said the only way she knew how to deal with them was to come and snuggle with me in bed.  Although I love snuggling with her, I wanted her to learn other ways to handle her nightmares.  

“My love, do you know you can change your nightmare?” 

“No.” 

“The next time you see that scary lion change him into a birthday cake and blow out the candles.” 

“But how can I do that Mama?”  

“With the power of your thought.  You control your thoughts. You choose what you dream about.  If you don’t like your dream use your power of thought to change your dream. If you like your dream, use your power of thought to keep the dream going.  Try it tonight”. 

“I will Mama, goodnight.” 

I then headed off to my son’s room.  Even though the lights were out, he wanted me to read him another story.  I said I would tell him a story instead.  Together, we laid on his bedroom floor, covers on top, and the story of The Boy and The Bear began.  He wanted it again. And again. The next day he wanted it before nap, and then again before bedtime. After about the 7th time of telling the story I thought to myself, “This is pretty good, I better write it down.”  And so I did.  

What audience would be most interested in your book?

2-8 year olds are most interested in reading the book. The audience most interested in buying the book are parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles to give as a long lasting confidence building book to their loved ones. This book is also very popular to give as a gift to pregnant mothers.

Where can your book be purchased?

Books can be purchased on:

My website: www.iambraveandunafraid.com

Amazon (affiliate link here: I Am Brave and Unafraid)

Andersons Bookshop

Use 3 adjectives to describe your book:

Exciting, Engaging, Empowering

Any additional information that you would like to provide about you or your book:

I am a mother of 3 incredible children who inspire me daily. I receive great enjoyment in knowing my book inspires others.

***GIVEAWAY***

Would you like a chance to win a copy of this adorable book AND an additional copy to donate to the classroom or library of your choice?

There will be 2 separate winners.  Each winner will receive 1 hardcover copy of the book AND will also receive an additional hardcover copy of the book to donate to a classroom or library of their choice! Both books will be dedicated and autographed.

The books will be mailed directly to the winners (US only for this giveaway).  To be entered, please complete these 2 simple steps:

1. Follow and/or subscribe to my blog

2. Leave a comment below telling me about the classroom or library you would plan on donating the second book to if you are chosen

**You must complete both of these steps to be eligible for the giveaway**

Giveaway will end Friday morning at 6:00 CDT and the 2 winners will be randomly chosen and announced in Friday morning’s blog post.

Make sure you check back on Friday to see if you’ve won (you will have 48 hours from the time I post the winners to email me your mailing address.  If I don’t hear from you, I will pick a new winner).

If you already follow and/or subscribe to my blog, you are still eligible…just leave a comment below to be entered 🙂

Good luck!  Can’t wait to read your comments!

It would really help me if you could follow/subscribe to my blog.  Also, please “like” my Facebook page (www.fb.com/bookcoffeehappy),  follow me on Twitter@bookcoffeehappy, and follow me on Instagram (@bookcoffeehappy)!  

Click the image below to order the book through my Amazon affiliate link.  When you order through this link, I receive a tiny commission. Thank you for your support, Xo

Birthday of a Book Blogger

My birthday was yesterday and the entire perfect weekend was filled with fun, love, and joy.

Friday was spent with my favorite shopping partner, my mom!  We had our annual visit to our favorite craft and gift fair and it was glorious as always. It happens over my birthday weekend every year and it’s such a fun way to start off the weekend.

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I came home with such treasurers!  4 unicorn hair bows for my daughter, 3 bags of beef jerky for my husband, a new set of fancy sheets for our bed, and a new scarf for me because I can’t ever go shopping without buying myself at least 1 new scarf.  Scarves are  favorite accessory of all time although by this point I own way too many and I really need to stop buying more. Can’t. Stop. See this post for more details on the background of my obsession: The Ultimate Throwback to my 20’s and Early 30’s Book Series

I bought my son a custom Mickey Mouse CD where the characters sing each song using my son’s name.  The man at the booth told me that the characters will say or sing his name for a total of 70 times throughout the songs on the CD!  I wish I had taken a video of the look on my son’s face when we were driving yesterday afternoon and he heard the CD.  “MOMMY!  Mickey knows my name!” “MOMMY!  Goofy knows it too!”  Best $22.00 I have spent in a very long time.

Another booth had these gorgeous handmade wooden boxes, hand painted mason jars, and different types of flowers.  So many colors, so many sizes, so many sayings.  I spent a LONG time choosing the perfect combination and I could not love it more:

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We came home from the craft fair and soon were off to the biggest event of the day…my daughter’s school talent show!  She was one of the youngest in the show and while she was up there dancing, I watched in awe through the blurred vision from my tears.  Her confidence amazes me.  She did a solo act!  She nailed it, she looked beautiful, and the best part…she had so much fun.  There are those special moments as a parent where you can literally feel your heart bursting with pride and love and Friday night was a perfect example of that for me.  Aaaaand now I’m crying as I type this.  I love being a mom so much.

How sweet are my in-laws?!?

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Saturday proved yet again that nobody has better friends than I do. It was pouring outside, it was freezing outside, and there was traffic. And yet…my girls were determined to take me downtown so the 4 of us could have a city day in honor of ME! I offered numerous times to change our plans but they simply wouldn’t hear of it. So they picked me up and downtown we went (over an hour drive) into the most gorgeous city in the world. I lived in downtown Chicago for 8 years before I got married and a piece of my heart still lives there. My favorite city in the world. It’s gorgeous all year round but during the holidays the whole city absolutely sparkles. It’s just so magical down there. We shopped, we laughed, we ate. A perfect day.

Rain didn’t stop us:

4 Jewish girls with 1 stunning tree:

Grand Lux Cafe for dinner:

I came home after the kids were in bed and noticed this note on my daughter’s door (apparently she hid my presents under her bed):

Sunday morning on my actual birthday my husband and I were woken up quite early by 2 very excited children singing “happy birthday”. They climbed into our bed as I was still half asleep and my birthday began with homemade cards, balloons, gifts, and a unicorn cake. Perfection.

My daughter’s gift blew me away as it does every year. She is the most thoughtful little girl I have ever met. She had Jon take her to a bookstore, went to the new release table, and picked out the book with what she thought had the prettiest cover. As surprised as I was to receive this gift, she was even more surprised when I told her that Liane Moriarty is one of my favorite authors and I’ve been DYING to read her new release!!! In fact, I commented on that just last night when my friends and I were at a bookstore in the city! How did she know???  Mothers and daughters just have that special connection 🙂 Have any of you read this yet? She also bought a Junie B. Jones box set for her and I to read together. She told me that she wanted me to have some new books to put on my blog 🙂 Sweetest girl! A perfect gift. Truly touched my heart.

Aaaaaand my 2.5 year old son’s gift for me. He picked it out all by himself:

I don’t particularly care for trucks but guess who does…

Amazing.

And the balloon he bought for me. We’re Jewish, lol.

My sweet little boy.  LOVE!

My husband’s gift was exactly what I ask for every year: something fun for us to do together as a family. So in a few weeks, the 4 of us will be spending the night at Great Wolf Lodge in a suite and we all can’t wait! Perfect.

I’m over wanting fancy purses or expensive jewelry for my birthday. Quality time with just the 4 of us is EXACTLY what I always want and that’s exactly what yesterday consisted of.

The 4 of us went out for breakfast (my favorite thing. I always LOVE going out for breakfast and we try to do it at least once per weekend). I ate lox, drank coffee, and watched my daughter get the hiccups from laughing at my son who was shoving banana slices directly into my mouth with his sticky syrup fingers.

Our next adventure was Legoland! We spent hours riding rides, building with Legos, watching 4D movies, and so much more. It’s so amazing there and a perfect way to spend the day.

There was one point where the kids were playing together on the climbing structure and they were laughing so loudly. I turned to my husband with tears in my eyes and told him what a perfect day it was.

Rainforest Cafe for lunch. We sat by the gorillas, bought toys in the gift shop, and my kids loved every second.

Home for a unicorn cake and singing happy birthday with 2 excited kids on my lap the whole time.

How gorgeous is this cake???

It was so delicious.

And then…the day switched. My birthday was over and suddenly HANUKKAH was here!

Our menorahs. Jon and my daughter made hers when she was 1 and him and my son made his last night while I was downtown! Both were Hanukkah presents for me. I cried when my daughter gave me hers and all of these years later I cried when my son gave me his. So, so special.

My daughter’s has melted wax all over it from it’s many years of use and with each new bit of wax, I love it even more because of it’s memories. The year that Jon and I got married, I bought us a gorgeous silver traditional menorah that we used for a few years. Once my daughter made this one, it’s the only one we’ve used since. And now we have 2! One parent holds 1 kid while they light the candles while the other parent holds the other kid while they light the candles. And to the kids, picking out the candle colors is always part of the fun. I love Hanukkah so, so much.  Always have.

When I was a little girl, my parents used to wrap all of my presents and put them out for me on the first day. Each night for the eight nights, I was allowed to choose one gift to open. I remember making charts and obsessively thinking about which gift I would open that night during the school day. Should I open the big silver one tonight or save that one for tomorrow night and open the tiny pink one tonight? Thoughts such as this would consume me for the entire eight days and it was so much fun. I always knew that it when I had my own kids, I would absolutely continue this tradition. Jon and I have done this for kids since my daughter was born. Whichever gift she would put her hand on when she was a baby was the one she “chose” for that night! Now her choices are a little bit more strategic. My son absolutely loves opening gifts but doesn’t quite understand why he is only allowed to open one each night, LOL.

This year, things were a bit different. My daughter has been begging us for years for a hamster and this was the year that my husband and I decided to make her dreams come true! She’s been telling us for months that she has this vision where she would come downstairs to all of her gifts and one of them would have holes poked in it… and she would open that one right away because her hamster would be waiting to meet her! So we did exactly that. See video below (make sure your sound is up). ***the hamster was wrapped up like this for only about 2 minutes before the box was opened***

 

I’m trying hard to keep my kids and their names off of my blog for privacy reasons so I’m not going to share the video of when she came downstairs. Just know that it was amazing and a moment that none of us will ever forget.

Welcome to our family, Fluffy Rose!

Birthdays in my 20s were filled with alcohol, body glitter, dancing, leather pants, bars, and hangovers. Birthdays in my 30s were filled with learning to celebrate while holding new roles in my life…first as a new fiancee, and then as a new wife and finally (twice!) as a new mom. Birthdays in my 40’s are now filled with the 3 most important parts of my life: love, family, and friends. It’s about surrounding myself with the people that I love the most and who love me right back. It’s about taking the time to reflect upon my life and how much I truly am able to celebrate all of the day to day beauty it contains. If you would’ve asked me 10 years ago where I saw myself today…I’m exactly where I have always wanted to be. Married to the love of my life and a stay at home mom to my 2 beautiful children. Admittingly I never envisioned the hamster in this scenario but I’m welcoming the new addition 🙂

The very best part of the entire weekend? As I was about to make a wish and blow out my candles, I was struck with the realization that there was truly nothing I wanted to wish for.

I already have everything I could ever want.

Xo,

Jenny

A very Happy Hanukkah to all who celebrate!

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