Friday, July 29, 2022

Parenting Alone

I don't mean 'single' parenting, so don't misunderstand me. I have a very hardworking husband who supports our family and we are happily married. I could write a post on the hardships of single parenting: my mother and my sister are both single parents, though my mother is remarried now. I have seen it and lived it; and I do not seek to compare 'parenting alone' to single parenting.

Herein, I am speaking of parenting with little to no breaks. Parenting without extended family nearby to help. I and a host of other women are today parenting with no tribe and minimal community. 

And it is hard.

I don't have family who is around to help for various reasons that are quite complicated to go into in this post. I wish I did. Oh, how I wish I did. Maybe one day I will. It sounds like a dream.

For a long time I wanted to write a blog about how I cope with parenting alone. (I have actually written this post at least three times in my head while falling asleep!)

There are many ways to help alleviate the pressure of being an alone-in-a-bubble parent. Maybe your husband is a truck driver and your parents live out of state. Maybe your husband, like mine, is an engineer whose hours tally up to 10, 12 a day while you wait patiently (er, impatiently) for him to arrive home. No matter what, parenting alone is exhausting. 

We used to do dates by hiring a babysitter twice a month. This was in 2019, before covid. Now we cannot afford it because of the rate increase in the sitter service we used, and also inflation. I can't even afford to buy chocolate right now, seriously! I can't! That fact is also for another blog is through the roof.

But that's not new news, everyone can think of that! Hire a babysitter sometimes, or find a mothers helper... But many people cannot afford it. Or if they can afford it, can't even find someone! Sitters are scarce. 

Here is what I do to try and keep my head above water as a parenting alone parent. 

  1. Alone time with God. And by alone time I mean sometimes my kids are running around screaming and it's only five minutes. But it is important to at least try. It really makes a difference to me if I center myself in some way on Christ. 
  2. Learn easy meals and also make freezer meals. I try to make one freezer meal a week. This summer I tried to make as many as I could. They will come in handy, especially since eating out is not an option with the high prices, and our dietary restrictions. 
  3. Find friends. I know, I know. Your friends are also exhausted moms. But sometimes they can help. Last year my friend Megan from church watched our kids so hubby and I had a two hour date. It was our only date that year and it was amazing. We still have not had one this year and that's okay. It meant a lot to me. I offered to return the favor but Megan has solid help at home and didn't need it, but you can always start a babysitting swap with a friend that you trust! 
The biggest thing you deal with as a 'parenting alone' parent is burn out. I am sure if you have a ton of help you also get burnt out, but parenting in a vacuum of loneliness makes me burn out quicker. There is no mothers helper or grandmother to look out for, coming with crafts and snacks to watch your littles for two or three hours while you go to the dentist or grocery shop. 

I also deal with getting touched out. 

I also deal with needing a break from being needed/wanted. I love my kids, but sometimes I just want to not be the only one with all the answers! For just five minutes! I am sure this one will change as my kids grow and can figure out everything on their own...but for now, I am teaching them that mommy doesn't always have an answer right when they ask a question. Mommy is her own person and also needs space sometimes, and space doesn't mean mommy doesn't love you. It just means mommy needs a few minutes to think. 

I don't have any answers to burn out. It's really hard. Sometimes we have toast with jam for dinner and everyone is cranky, but we all wake up the next day and try again. Sometimes the kitchen doesn't get very clean or the laundry doesn't get put away or we cancel school for the day and just lay outside on the hammocks or read books all day... some of these things help but often they don't. Sometimes I try homeopathy and CBD oil and sometimes I cry. 

When I get really touched out I will put on an audio book in the kids room--they stay in there to listen and I flatten myself into my favorite couch and read a book, knit, or have an anxiety attack. You know, my three favorite hobbies.

I don't know how to fix the being needed all the time.

One of these days, if I am allowed to grow old, I will find a few lonely moms and be an adopted grandmother to their kids. I will. It is on my heart as I look at all the elderly ladies in my church with longing and confusion. They have their own families, but I wish they had some time for me.

The thing I will say: don't be bitter. Don't look at the grass in someone else's yard. Last week my friend was sick and her mother in law took her kids and her mother ran her errands and made food and I was jealous for a whole five minutes. Everyone is blessed in some ways, I am sure I am too. I'm blessed to be on this earth with my two happy children and my amazing husband. I am blessed to be loved by God, and able to eat things I haven't eaten in 8+ years and with a body that can do yoga and move and a beautiful blue sky that is not raining bombs down in a war. I am blessed, and I won't waste it with bitterness or anger pining for things I can't have. It won't help.

the two best blessings God ever gave me

God is good and I will get through it, my kids will grow up and if I'm lucky I'll be alone again and what do you know, I'll probably miss all the crazy little years. 

I'd love any advice on 'parenting alone' if you have it: what should I try to make this easier on myself? What things do you do? 

I'm still here and I am not giving up. But a day to myself does sound quite nice and unachievable. Such is life.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

More (small) misadventures

This week we started back into our school routine. It has been going okay. I implemented two new ideas: I am showering at night, and I am making our dinner before lunch. I love having the food cooked for the day and not having much to do in the evening besides read to the kids, garden, and perhaps see a friend. Brian's summer hours have him working late every day and it has been really hard in the evening for me. He's doing 4 tens, and has Friday "off" but having all of his hours squished into four days is quite the adjustment. Especially since he works around 11-12 hours some days, and one time worked from around 8:30am to 9pm! At least he works from home and his amazing loving wonderful wife can bring him lunch and dinner plates. Hah! The life is an engineer is long, but I have learned to be grateful for what I have: a hardworking husband who is pouring his life out for me, and a house and food and a God who loves me. I am getting through it, and learning a lot in the process.

I have also been waking up at 6am and doing my yoga first thing. I have stopped trying to do yoga 5 days a week and am only setting a goal of 3 days a week. I don't want to expect the impossible. 

Monady I woke up with an incredibly sore/stiff upper back, especially on the right side. I took some homeopathics (rhus tox) and arnica 200, used an arnica gel--but it wasn't helping much. I was in serious pain. On our first day of school. I gritted my teeth (okay so I wasn't the most easygoing teacher that day, pain makes me snappy and I had to apologize a lot) and taught, made lunch and dinner...we got through it. I laid down the second half of the day and asked everyone to pray. By nightfall my neck was a lot better. It went from a 9/10 on the pain scale to a 6/10. 10 being my pain threshold, you know, the point before you give up and die or ask for an epidural. 

Anyway. I went to Taproots, a local homeopathic store, and took some symphytum for my back pain. That mixed with the rhus tox seemed to really help. 

Tuesday we went for a bike ride before school and I went for a walk. On our walk we found wild raspberries and also very mature polkweed! We ate some raspberries and I told the kids that polkweed is very poisonous and never to touch it after Reuben picked a berry.   

We finished our school after our bike ride and park playtime, and went to violin practice and picked too many tomatoes and ate amazing homemade enchilada casserole that still makes my mouth water to think about. I ate way too much. YUM. 

Wednesday (today) I planned to take the kids rock climbing downtown but Becky woke up with the stomach bug and threw up everywhere. I gave her A. Alburm in a 200c and she seems fine now after a little nap and some orange juice. I was worried she had the full blown stomach bug. Poor Becky! Hopefully no one else gets sick and we can all resume our regularly scheduled activities tomorrow. Reuben also discovered that he left his violin shoulder rest at violin lessons. Then he proceeded to break a string. Then he cried for 30 minutes. Maybe he is fighting Becky's illness too, or perhaps he is having a bad day. I wasn't mad about the string; but I was seriously annoyed about the missing shoulder rest. UGH. I should have checked. Sigh. 

It's not his fault. Everyone forgets things. It's just so annoying. We will have to go back and pick it up, and now take his violin for a string repair at the violin shop.

It's not even lunch and my attitude and heart are not in the right place! I am praying that I can roll with God's grace and mercy at what life throws at me and see the joy in all the trials, however small the hardships are. 

Here's to tomorrow! I need to go make lunch.   

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Reuben Turns 7

Reuben is one year older! We had an amazing year with our boy and he had a wonderful rock climbing birthday party. I can't wait to see what 7 holds for him and I and all the ways he will grow and be challenged. I love you Reuben. Happy 7! 

You are amazing and I am so glad I get to see you grow up and be your mama.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

an embarrassing miscalulation

Remember Reuben's dentist? We had found him a holistic dentist about an hour away from our home, to help him with his breathing issues. The short story is he can't breathe through his nose! He is a mouth breather, and there are all sorts of health issues associated with mouth breathing...and thus we found a dentist who claims he can help.

The dentist was closed for covid at our last appointment, a turn of events that I blogged about here. This was still an hilarious and awkward adventure, but we DID make it to the appointment. Anyway, as I said the dentist is an hour away, but their main branch is 3.5 hours away near Washington DC. You only visit the main branch for the first appointment for scans, and this is how I drove over 7 hours in one day for a thirty minute appointment, getting stuck in rush hour traffic and enjoying tasty Indian food. 

Anyway. Our dentist is called Bronson Family Dentist. They are a perfect mesh of holistic dentist with mainstream. I love how they are a family dentistry (a father and his daughter and son run the practice together) and I like how they address the whole person. 

So, our dentist appointment is at 4:30 in Mclean, VA, about 7 miles from Washington DC. Three and a half hours from our home without traffic issues. The day of I left around 10am and drove an hour and a half to Charlottesville. We stopped at our favorite Indian restaurant and had delicious authentic Indian food which Reuben and I both love, along with mango drinks. YUM. Two hours left. We used the bathroom, I started an audiobook and we drove. I wanted to get there early to visit Tysons Mall and take Reuben to the lego store--and I am so glad we left early because it took an extra hour to get to Tysons due to traffic. I do not envy anyone their DC commute.

We visited the lego store (its amazing) got bubble tea and cinnamon pretzel bites, and then headed to the appointment. I am completely glossing over the fact that I lost my wallet in this store and was wondering how I was going to illegally drive home with no license or pay for his appointment for about 15 minutes before I realized I left my wallet in the car. Facepalm.

I am glad I left early for the appointment because I could not find the office. It turns out the office is in the bottom of a set of high rise apartments. It looks like apartments, not offices. Just the offices are on the ground floor (there were a ton of little offices of many businesses. I had to ask where to find Bronson Family Dentist squeezed in the corner on the left) But, small town me was confused. This type of set up does not exist where I live. Anyway, to find them I had to call them, but I was put on hold. So while I waited I frantically texted my friend Emily who also goes to this dentist and she helped me out! I got there 10 minutes early.

I thought it would be the office building on the right, but its
the apartments on the left!

I was immediately handed a bunch of paperwork. Now, I must mention that they sent all the files and everything they wanted to do for Reuben via an encrypted email. I could not open the email and told them this. They tried to resend the email and I still could not open it. This email included the pricing and all the information on the procedure for Reuben. I asked the receptionist the price and she informed me that the base price for scans, impressions and consultation was around $800, and that they expected a downpayment for the device as well that day. She didn't say how much the downpayment would be, but since I assumed it would be some type of payment plan I didn't think it would be much. Before I left I had checked with my husband and told him I assumed it wouldn't be more than 1k, but since I wasn't totally sure I budged 2k just to be safe and give myself wiggle room.

You can laugh with me later.

Anyway, I was the last patient of the day. The receptionist was kind but seemed tired (I would be too after a long day of work) and I am Chatty McChatterson so...I am sure I didn't help. Reuben and I were hot and tired from being in the car forever and I bemoaned our long 4ish hour drive only to have her tell me that people travel from all over the world to visit this dentist and that she and the three dentists who work in the office personally drive from DC to Charlottesville at least once a week. I then responded well, they probably don't have small children with them. To which she said actually Mrs Bronson and Mr. Bronson (brother and sister) both have kids. Mr. Bronson has three year old twins at home. And Mrs. Bronson regularly brings her 4 month old to the office since she is still breastfeeding.

I can't win, people. All I was looking for was some sympathy. Seriously! 

I didn't know what to say to all that, but luckily it was our turn so we went back, was told about The Plan to widen the top of Reuben's mouth. It sounds good! They told me it should take around two years and my heart was full of dreams of Reuben's breathing and snoring issues resolving and some other behavior issues that I think are linked to mouth breathing... I was so excited! We had a scan (you can see one of the many screens below) and the doctor pointed out that Reuben has one side of his nose almost completely full, and his adenoids and tonsils are huge. He recommended Reuben be put on a no sugar, gluten and dairy free diet. I don't know what to think about that yet--I am tabling that in the back of my mind to pick apart later. Reuben had impressions of his teeth taken for them to build the device with, and then we left to go check out. 

The wonderful receptionist (who previously had zero sympathy to give to our four hour drive) was on the phone as we waited to check out. I played three games of "can you stand on one food longer then mommy" and "how many times can you jump up and down" as quietly as possible while we waited to check out. Then we went to the bathroom because I didn't want to forget THAT step since we had a 3.5 hour drive back (hah it took almost 5 hours DC traffic is awful) and when we walked back I saw she had the number $4,285 on the little payment screen. I looked at it in confusion. That was the last persons payment, obviously. I sat there wondering what that person had done to their teeth to pay such an exorbitant amount as I waited for the receptionist to be finished with her phone call.

It was our payment.

At first I thought it was a joke. Then while I was trying not to have a panic attack I was trying to figure out how to pay. It turns out that the device for Reuben is around 6k. The 4,285 constituted a downpayment. I had no idea how much money we actually had in our HSA account, I had only asked my husband if it had at least 2k. How could I have said yes to a device that costs 6k without knowing it? Why was this not explained to me? What was I going to do? Also, by this point it was 5:20, twenty minutes after the dentist was supposed to close and there I was standing there in utter shock staring at the screen.

I stammered something crazy as she explained that the rest of the payment would be due at our next appointment when the device is installed. She must have seen my deer in the headlights look because she went though the prices step by step while I tried to breathe.

I handed her the HSA card and thankfully we DID have enough to cover that payment but I have never been more nervous in my life! WHAT a miscommunication! I should have asked how much the device was or she should have told me! I guess since this dentist does this sort of thing all the time they must think people know?! Or maybe in DC dropping 4k on dentistry is normal??! She knew I had missed all the emails! 

I left trying not to cry and wondering how we are going to pay the reminder of the payment in six weeks at our next appointment. I had planned to use the leftover money if it was less then 2k to get myself new glasses since it has been 2 years since my last eye appointment. Well, that wasn't going to happen. I didn't even know if we had enough money in the HSA account for me to go to the chiropractor. 

Well. I loaded Reuben into the car and had to call my husband and tell him I just spent $4,285. I thought he would be mad, but he actually handled it far better than I did. He reminded me that if this works and Reuben can breathe it will be so worth it, and he's right! I was just having a lot of sticker shock and anxiety. What a crazy surprise. 

Then we drove home. I will spare you that rendition.

Luckily, we put the max amount allowed in our HSA account so we should have enough to cover the last payment at the next appointment. I checked this morning as soon as I woke up. And we have enough to go to the chiropractor at least one more time.

I have learned my lesson to ask more detailed questions.

I cannot believe it was that expensive. 

I think I am still in shock. 

And now it is Tuesday and somehow I am supposed to resume normalcy! 

Oh, they said if Reuben breaks his device it is around 2k to get him a new one.

He's seven. And he inherited his mothers clumsiness. 

Also there is absolutely no way we can afford any replacements.

Pray! I know I will be.

What a crazy day.

Thursday, July 7, 2022

the post I shouldn't write about my mother in law

I've been in some kind of funk lately. There is a lot going on; my husband is working long hours (he's doing four 10s, so he gets Friday off which is awesome but I'm doing bedtime all by myself four days a week). I did not receive a series of texts from my mother inviting me to lunch causing her and I much confusion. I have to start homeschooling again and I don't know how I am going to fit it in. How did I fit that in? 

I have felt lonely. Probably everyone struggles with loneliness at some point in their life, we are ghosts in a shell to steal that term, and humans are fickle and selfish. Loneliness can be selfish too. All my friends are busy moms! I'm a busy mom! It's HARD. I am alone most of the day, alone with my children which can be a special kind of endurance exercise. Just as there are amazing moments of reading books, seeing them wonder and explore nature, there are also days full of tantrums (I have my own kind of tantrum lets be honest here I am not solely blaming the toddler) and sickness, days with stress and over-the-top feelings and just days where I am done by 8am but its raining so we are all stuck inside. I wouldn't trade this for the world, but that doesn't mean I love it 24/7. I mean, I chose this! I chose to be a stay at home mom. My husband and I chose these roles for ourselves and it is good. But is is also hard, like I said above.

I have talked about my mother in law here a lot on my blog early in my marriage. I didn't understand her. I tried to please her in every way I could. I still don't understand her! I have tried to be courteous but also stand up for myself. I have tried to be firm on my boundaries but also be a person she could be human around. After 7 or so years of trying to please her, I decided to quit. I stopped letting her come over. I stopped letting her come between me and my children and between me and my husband. I wish I had prayed more (I did pray some) and I do have regrets, but I honestly tried as hard as I could to be someone who she could love. 

But I have always felt guilty over shutting her out. I didn't know what to do; it was a last resort decision my husband and I made. What else could we do? We do see her at church since she attends the same church as us. I see her more than I do my own mother (who works) even with cutting her out of our lives due to...a list of things I could make! She has disrespected ourselves and our children and always tried to undermine our parenting and our pasts. She and her husband did not attend our wedding and even after marriage asked my husband to divorce me. She became only interested in my children when I birthed them, and always seeks to make herself the center of attention. She lies, and slanders my name to her family, and is always giving me unsolicited advice. She contradicts my parenting in front of my children. It is baffling. 

Since those times, almost three years have passed. I have had a lot of time to think. And ponder and try to understand. I do understand a lot better now. I hope I can take what I have learned and be a good mother in law if my children ever marry, due to what I have seen and learned. I don't feel guilty for cutting off mother in law visitation anymore. I now realize she is a bitter, sad person who has chosen this path. I can't change her, but I can choose who I allow and don't allow around my children.

I think Ruth says it best in Ruth Hall "your grandmother is an unhappy, miserable old woman. She has punished herself worse than anybody else could punish her. She is more miserable than ever now...she might have made us all love her and help to make her old age cheerful but now unless she repents, she will live miserably and die forsaken for nobody can love her with such a temper."

For a long time I struggled to forgive my mother in law for all the pain and contention she brought to my marriage, instead of joy, love, honor and trust. I forgive her. She chose not to have dinner with us. She has chosen not to watch my children so my husband and I can have a date. She chose bitterness, strife, envy, anger and resentment as bridal gifts for me, and I will only return them with love and peace.

The thing I have been laughing about the most is something she said recently in bible study. She said her own mother (who is 94 and still alive) stayed with her for 6 weeks when she had her first child (who is now my husband) and she cried when her mother left because she didn't know how she was going to do it on her own.

It stuck deep. I would have given anything to have her there to help me when I was struggling so much during the first 6 weeks of postpartum when I had Reuben. My own mother was working, and my younger sister had just had a baby as well, and my mother was busy helping my sister when she could between work (my sister is a single mom). My husband had only one week off when I gave birth. I had no idea what I was doing and I really needed help. 

I don't think my mother in law even brought us a meal. She came over once and was so upset that I was breastfeeding, she said it was too sexual and gross. I cried when she left. All I was trying to do was feed my baby in the privacy of my own home, exhausted and sore from birth. I'm sure she didn't know what her words meant, but maybe she did. Maybe it was bitter words from her heart because she was not able to breastfeed, even though I have never shamed her. 

She never asks how I am doing. I have asked her out to coffee several times, desiring to get to know her better, and she has declined each time. 

The circumstances don't matter. I want freedom from this.

Every six months or so she makes me feel sorry for her so I try to do something...and it always backfires. Never again. I am free. And so is she.

Friday, July 1, 2022

What I Read (June 2022)

I read a lot this month! Every evening I would climb into bed and read until I was too tired. It was great, refreshing and wonderful (and yes I stayed up too late...) I also read in the afternoons some, but my kids would bother me often. Enjoy these spoiler free reviews!

Tree by Leaf (6/10 stars)

This was as book I picked up in our local book shop just by reading the blurb on the back and looking at the amazing cover art. It is an historical fiction, written after the First World War, and follows Clothide's coming of age. The writing style is amazing and the narration is fluid. What did I like? The setting, the nature scenes and the real issues that pre-world-war-two peoples might have dealt with. I liked the story, it is well done and kept me turning pages as fast as I could! I enjoyed the nuances; the fact that people were not always as Clothide thought they were. She grew, she learned. 

What did I not like? The voice, for one. I won't give spoilers, but it ruined a perfectly good novel for me. It was wholly unnecessary! The mother. I couldn't get a firm understanding or grasp on Clothide's mother. Perhaps I wasn't meant too, but her mother didn't behave rationally and it bothered me. She was one way in one situation and a few moments later, another way! I felt the continuity of her character was maligned. 

But it was a good book. I want to check out more by this author.

The Way of Kings (8/10 stars)

Yes, I finally read it. I honestly don't know what to think. Sometimes I love the book, other times I am annoyed at how many characters and how much depth there is to this novel. SO MUCH DEPTH. This book, rather than "events" is more characterized by people. Take Shallan, for example.  I think about Shallan a lot, especially with how this first novel ended! AlsoI don't like her. Maybe I will later, but she just seems part manipulative and part snooty, part naive and part helpless and ALL annoying. If I have to hear her internal dialogue one more time about why she will/or won't steal a certain fabrial I will roll my eyes. Shallan, you are unimaginative and dull, but I'll keep reading. I like Jasnah better...

On to Kaladin. The classic wounded boy. I rooted for him (because who can't root for an underdog!) and I hope more of his story is revealed, and the mysteries about who he is and what he can do is answered. I want to know!! I like him, and I like how he helps others. I like how he cares. But he wasn't my favorite character, even though I did like him a lot more than Shallown. 

My favorite character is Dalinar. He's strong, but also sensitive (and what is up with Shshsh??!) he has amazing sons, is clever and most of all, he's moral. I like a good moral backbone in a character and Dalinar doesn't disappoint. Also I am 35 so I relate more to an over-the-hill man than teenage Shallan and her angsty inner sqabbles over theft and falsehoods, or Kaladin's Job-like experience. (maybe Kaladin is more like Joseph than Job, but you get what I mean) 

SO. Book, good. I have already ordered the next two books from thrift books and we shall see how long it takes me to read it. By the end of Way of Kings I couldn't put it down and for 12 or so hours my family was ignored and meals were something prepackaged. Oh well. We all survived and I read the book. 

Also, what/who is Whit? I am intrigued. 

I can't wait to read more. Hope Brandon Sanderson publishes another book before I get done with all four...

The Story of Doctor Dolittle (5/10)

This is something I read to the kids, as it is on Reuben's Year 2 free read list for Ambleside Online. It was weird. And nothing like the movie I saw in the 90s? The kids seemed to like it okay, and it was MUCH BETTER than Mary Poppins. My kids have never seen the movie, so they had no idea. I love how he was an actual doctor who decided to become an animal doctor because he loved animals too much. I liked his little laminations about money. The animals themselves were annoying and too varied and the situations not realistic. Reuben says he loved it, so this is just my review...he's asleep right now. Maybe I will ask him what he really thought tomorrow and write up that. Hmmm. All I really remember is one time we were all sitting for a tea party and Becky and Reuben had a whole discussion about how the Pushme-Pullu uses the bathroom. LOL. Because he doesn't have a bottom. How does the Pushme-Pullu potty? Becky said probably out of his nose, which sounds messy and uncomfortable. 

Fortress of Ice (3/10 stars)

(Includes minor spoilers for Fortress in the Eye of Time

I have read Fortress in the Eye of Time at least three times in my life, but I have never read the sequels. Last month (May) I re-read FitEOT and the three sequels. (I give those books at least a 7/10 stars!) I love Tristan and Cefwyn. They remind me of David and Jonathan. BFFs. That whole series was spellbinding, and I had high hopes for this last installment that is set 16 years after Fortress of Dragons. It was okay...(think "meh") and I feel like it was start of a new arc, one that Cherryh subsequently abandoned for some reason. There must be more!! We never learn what happens to the shadows in the Quinaltine! We never learn what happens to the witches!! We never see the boys grow up. And Tristan, ever amazing Tristan, is flat and one dimensional in this novel. I feel like the author didn't know what to do with him, and should have left him largely out of the book! It was a good book though. Was it the end of the arc? No, it raised more questions than it answered! Why does Nervis and Cefwyn have only two children after sixteen years together?  I would think they would have more, or the book would address why they do not. Miscarriages? Something is missing from their story and it is left completely unexplained. Anyway, I finished the book slightly annoyed there were no more left to read and with a lot of questions I thought would be answered...

The Wheel on the School (9/10 stars)

Another DeJong book! I love him! Such prose, such understanding of children, such simplicity yet so much emotion. I absolutely have loved every DeJong I have read so far. This was my second but we also read Good Luck Duck this month. I just didn't include that one here because it's basically a picture book where this is a chapter book (And I read Good Luck Duck to the kids but this one I read just for myself, though I will add it to the read pile for the kiddos!) This guy is a master storyteller and his tales are timeless and vibrant. (the first book I read of his was called Along Came the Dog and I gave it 10/10 stars. EVERYONE loved it. Me, the kids, everyone. I now want a little red hen.)

What are you guys reading? Today marks the beginning of July and a new month of books. And a vacation weekend to start me off strong! Happy 4th of JULY friends!