Friday, March 25, 2022

5 Book Deals for Spring

Week 2 and I'm already breaking my own rules. The books I have to share with you today are not under $5, but they are totally worth it. I felt really inspired to pull some springy books together to share the spring vibes with you, and I did my best to find the place with the best deal on each.

I'll give you a couple links to some of them so you can poke around - keep an eye on the cheapest prices: they might be used. Which may or may not matter to you. :)

Here are five affordable Springy books I think you might love:



A Book That Takes Its Time

A Book That Takes Its Time by Irene Smit & Astrid van der Hulst
I got this book a handful of years ago, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I'd often read it on my backyard patio or on my hammock under my favorite tree. It's the perfect book to do exactly what the title suggests - take your time! It's full of inspirational quotes, ideas, illustrations, and even recipes. It's a great resource for getting the creative juices flowing and getting into some outdoorsy springy vibes.

Find it here: Book Outlet (cheapest) | Amazon



Nature Anatomy

Nature Anatomy by Julia Rothman
I homeschooled my kids for the first half of the school year, and I'd originally found this book as a resource to use for science. It's wonderful for that, but I also just enjoyed reading through it. I learned so many little facts about nature throughout this book, and loved Julia's illustrations. It's light, quick, and beautiful, and will for sure get you excited for more time outdoors.

Find it here: Biblio (cheapest) | AbeBooks | Amazon



The Hidden Life of Trees

The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohllenben
I love trees - like, a lot. I adore them and am fascinated by them, so I really enjoyed learning more about them with this book. If you've ever wondered about trees at all - how they grow, how they get so tall and sturdy, how something so large grows from something so tiny - you'll love learning about all of that plus a lot more you might never have realized trees are capable of. It's incredible! Bonus points if you read this one outside with the trees.

Find it here: AbeBooks (cheapest) | Amazon



A Poem for Every Spring Day

A Poem for Every Spring Day, Edited by Allie Esiri
I actually haven't read this one, but I have the Autumn version and love it! I love to sit with my morning coffee and read the day's poems. Not to mention the covers on these poetry collections are gorgeous! This is on the pricier side of everything else on the list, but I love them and couldn't pass on sharing - this book is such a vibe for spring!

Find it here: AbeBooks (cheapest) | Amazon



The Nature Fix

The Nature Fix by Florence Williams
I really enjoyed learning about the importance of spending time outdoors in this book. Learning about things like forest bathing and noise pollution was really interesting and helpful, and got me to think about being among all the green and growing things in a new way. This is a great read if you're looking to fit more outdoors time in your life or you have an interest in the physical and mental benefits of being outside. Everyone should know this stuff!!

Find it here: Biblio (cheapest) | Amazon


And, a bonus, because this looks gorgeous. It might also be the most affordable coffee table book I've ever seen? So you can get your ultra-good deal fix with this one.



New York in Bloom

New York in Bloom by Georgianna Lane
I haven't read this, but it seems like it would be gorgeous to flip through. It's full of photos from plants and flowers blooming around NYC. It sounds like a really pretty contrast, though I love flowers anywhere you put them. :)

Find it here: Book Outlet


Don't forget: if you make a purchase at Book Outlet for the first time, you can get $5 off a $25 order with my link. Click here to grab that deal!


Wishing you breezy, blooming, gorgeous reading days! 


This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you! This means that if you click through and make a purchase, I may make a small commission or earn credits towards books. I appreciate every little bit that helps me support my blog. Grateful for you! xx

Friday, March 18, 2022

5 Books for Less than $5

You don't have to know me for very long to know that I love shopping, I love books, and I love a good deal. And when it comes to books specifically, if you like to own books or you have dreams of building your own beautiful library, it gets pricey. I own too many books, for sure, but I would never be able to without bargain shopping.

I'm not sure that everyone is aware of how inexpensively you can find books? My favorite methods are: shopping the library's book sales, garage sales, using Book Outlet, and sometimes the buy 2 get 1 deals that Target or Amazon host from time to time. Book of the Month is not as much of a bargain, but if you want brand new releases and the most current reads you can get your hands on, that's for sure the most affordable way to do it. 

Now that I've given you all of my secrets...let me share a few specific deals with you? I'm thinking...every week. Because let us not forget how inexpensive it can be to love books, and love collecting them even more!


5 for less than $5


Here's the thing, though: not everyone is my kinda reader. I like to share happy, lighthearted, often YA, almost always romance-flavored books. Sometimes psychological based nonfiction. Occasionally a really well written contemporary. So if you're looking for thrillers, I'm not ya girl. Howeverrr...you can still find great deals on those in the places where I find my deals, so if you still want $5 off a $25 purchase at Book Outlet, here ya go. :)

Here are 5 books under $5 right now that I think are worth the read!
(Keep in mind that if you're reading this after March 2022, prices and availability may have changed!)



Summer Days Summer Nights Book


Summer Days and Summer Nights (edited by Stephanie Perkins)
If you only grab one, make it this! I read this adorable anthology on a beach a handful of summers ago, and it was THE BEST relaxing summer reading experience. This book has a collection of 12 short stories written by bestselling YA authors, and there is something for everyone! There is a great collection of couples and scenarios in here - I think there's even a weird one involving a sea monster? They are so fun to read, and every time I see this book I wish there were more like it so I could have the same reading experience again! There's a wintery/holiday one out there, too, but the world for sure needs another collection of summery stories.



Open Road Summer


Open Road Summer by Emery Lord
Do I have Summer on the brain? Hmmm maybe. We've got a little fake spring going here in Buffalo this week, and it's got me thinking about warm, lazy days of reading on my backyard patio. Great time to stock up on books to get ready for that! This one was so fun and indulgent because it brings you on tour with a pair of high school age best friends (one of them is a famous singer) and gives you a glimpse into their angsty love lives. When I was their age, I wanted to BE Britney Spears and I loved any backstage glimpse of her life that MTV put out there (ya I know, yikes), so this was super indulgent for early-teens me. Perfect one for something light-ish and fun.



Just a Boy and a Girl


Just a Boy and a Girl in a Little Canoe by Sarah Mlynowski
Not exactly hitting you with a literary masterpiece here, but if you're still feeling the summery vibes, like to visit summer camp with some angsty teens, and enjoy getting whisked away in the drama of other people trying to figure out their dating lives...here's an affordable one for you. I read this last summer and it was quick and indulgent, though maybe the dancing around cheating was a liiittle on the cringe side. You decide if it's your cup of tea!



Only a Breath Apart


Only a Breath Apart by Katie McGarry
Here's one that's angsty for totally different reasons - childhood boy/girl best friends that went their separate ways in high school are then tasked with smoothing things over as a condition of a will. They both have a tumultuous past with their families, and it makes for a very emotional and invested experience. There's some woo-woo stuff going on surrounding a curse, and I love that sort of thing so I appreciated what it added to the story. While possibly triggering for some, I loved this book and could not put it down. The characters and their strained relationship stuck with me long after I finished it!



Virtually Yours


Virtually Yours by Sarvenaz Tash
And finally, this book is unlike most YA and romance that I've read. It's so unique! A college freshman at NYU decides to give virtual dating a shot. The program allows you to design your own avatar, so when she meets with her matches and one of them happens to be her ex-boyfriend, he can't tell that it's her. He's not her only match, though, and one of the others becomes her in-real-life friend. It's really fun and exciting to watch what unfolds!


Okay, so - before you add any of these to your cart, let me hook you up with a coupon. THIS link will get you $5 off a $25 order at Book Outlet if you've never shopped there before. They sell overstock books, and at times, scratch and dent copies that have little flaws like, a dog eared front cover, or a slash on the back from someone cutting open a box too enthusiastically (still totally readable, though, and those copies are even cheaper than the overstock ones!)

They get new books all the time, so it's always fun to explore, AND - you can earn points each time you order and take their monthly survey, which will eventually add up to a gift card you can use to buy even more books. It's ridiculous, really. I'm so sorry for hooking you on them. ;)



This post contains affiliate links! In this posts' case, I will not make any money off your clicks or purchases, but I may earn rewards (points at Book Outlet, a free book at BOTM, for example). I appreciate every little bookish bit, and I hope you love your new affordable books, too! xx

Friday, March 11, 2022

When the Inevitable Finds You.

It's been a long, weird two years. 

Most of it filled with anxiety and grief. Sure, there were long lazy mornings spent on Animal Crossing islands, more outdoor minutes than ever before, and for a beat - a sourdough starter to be fascinated by. 

But it was lonely, and divisive, and confusing. And as we approached evidence that a return to normal-ish was finally possible, I assumed that the good, bad, and all the in-between of the pandemic experience was coming to a close. 

I don't know, maybe it still is.

But not for me and my house.

Tissues for covidBecause last Tuesday morning, my eight year old walked into school and caught covid. I mean - I can't say that for sure. There are other avenues of exposure he went down last week. But based on his Thursday symptoms and omicron's 48 hour incubation, it's a safe bet.

What was really fun, was following in his footsteps about 10 hours later.

The pinnacle of our enjoyment was when the other three members of our household had to pack up their things and rush out of the house lest those spike proteins dug themselves into their A2 receptors as well.

(Very grateful that covid did not disintegrate the sarcasm center of my brain.)

Last weekend was a flaming heap of garbage. Both my little guy and I have been sicker in the past, for certain, but not being able to freely breathe through your own nose is never a good time. Not to mention, knowing that you're carrying a novel virus that will wreak unknown havoc on your body for who knows how long makes it the scariest stuffy nose of your life.

So. We did our best to remain calm, but it wasn't easy. My mental health was in the shitter on day 4.

Turns out, the resulting sob fest was the key to my recovery. Tears, in enough quantity, act like a natural neti pot. (Follow me for more covid recovery tips!) My sinuses were never more grateful for my fragile emotional state. I've been on the up ever since. So, don't let anyone ever tell you that sitting on the floor crying and chanting "this is too hard" is pathetic. You're practicing medicine, babe.

For six days, I spent every waking moment with a sick eight year old, three high-maintenance cats, and a dog with separation anxiety that couldn't understand why half her pack was missing and spent 23 hours a day longingly looking out the window for them.

Here's what we did:

  • Blew through three boxes of tissues. They filled a whole garbage bag.

  • Watched the first two seasons of The Good Place together. It's really adorable to watch a kid make very, very incorrect predictions for what will happen next. Cutie doesn't know the sitcom patterns yet! Adorbs.

  • Had UberEats drop us some soup from Panera. Five stars for Shawn.

  • Rarely put in the effort to shift from one set of pajamas to another.

  • Shared a sick bed, but upside down. My dude was afraid to be in his room alone (he shares with his brother normally), but I didn't love the idea of us breathing covid back and forth all night. So I set him up head-to-feet, and he got a kick out of it. I also got a kick out of it - from his giant beyond his years flippers that he calls feet.

And, in the middle of the night, when I couldn't sleep and sniffled over cups of tea and cough drops, I decided that it was high time to keep up with the Kardashians. I went two damn decades not giving a rat's ass about what the hell they did in front of cameras for the past twenty years, and suddenly, at 3am, I needed to know. I've now watched hours of that garbage, and Kourtney still hasn't even given birth, Khloe is still using her weird baby voice, and Kim hasn't been married for 72 hours yet.

So.

Has this been the weirdest week of my life? You bet. 

This morning, there was a very chunky one-legged goose on my roof and I'm not sure what kind of sign that is, but I think I'm in the upside down? None of this feels real. I mean, in what world does a mom work her ass off to protect her family from a pandemic for two years, and then she gets it the very week "it's over"? The moment everyone is unmasking? What kind of plot is that? Who wrote this??

shirtballs

Am I in The Bad Place?


Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Back To School...in January.

I just got back from dropping my oldest two off at middle school.

It's a first for the younger one. He's never been. He hasn't seen the inside of a classroom since March 13, 2020 and back then he was a third grader. All snuggled up in his one cozy classroom with a teacher we knew well and trusted. Today was a much different feeling. A firm shove out of the nest - I struggle with those every time.

And I just can't settle on how I feel.

My youngest had his first day of in-school second grade on Monday. He said it was the best first day he'd ever had. His teacher did an amazing job of talking him up to the class and getting them involved in welcoming him, and the way he described the experience was like he was a low-key celebrity. They all wanted to sit next to him or stand in line next to him. One little girl made him a card. He's in excellent hands, and I couldn't have asked for a better return to help him adjust.

I'm grateful that I don't have to worry about that part of things. His teacher even managed to get his reading assessment done yesterday and said he's right on track. He's got this - academically and socially. My little firecracker youngest is incredibly likeable and friendly. My sparkly Scorpio.

My oldest, all routine and regimen, can figure out just about anything. (Albeit with a nervous gut, which already kicked in this morning.) He'll be back to topping the honor roll and navigating that school like the back of his hand before Friday. My predictable Capricorn.

My middle worries me the most. He's all emotion and overwhelm. He's frazzled in the face of organization and schedules, and doubts himself until the moment something is mastered (which he always fails to realize he's done until he's had it mastered for a while). He's all smiles and silliness and snuggles at home, and clawing to get back to me when he's not. My tender-hearted Cancer.

Unfortunately, their individual struggles are not the only things I have to consider. What I wouldn't give to go back to 2019 motherhood - when I only had to look out for them and their unique struggles.

Now, I'm also stressed about them getting sick. I always had to worry about that to some degree with my oldest and that finicky gut of his. And how every little sniffle became a big, lasting thing thanks to his struggling immune system. In a way, I'm used to this. But it's never been to this scale. 

I know we'll all be fine. But it's been a long, long two years of keeping everyone as safe as I possibly could, just to jump into a community that has more transmission than ever before. It seems like bizarre timing - especially if you know me in any personal capacity. Maybe you have questions.

It basically boiled down to this.

August and September were two of the most mentally difficult months of my life. I was having daily panic attacks and crying fits. I went back to therapy. I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Inattentive type ADHD. I lost my Grandpa. If I wasn't overwhelmed with grief, I was overwhelmed with curriculum and lesson planning and scheduling. Despite weeks of settling into homeschooling, my kids were very unwilling students in general. It was hard to get them to take me seriously as their teacher (it's just a different relationship when you're not used to it), and I had nothing in the tank. 

My daily life consisted of: hours of teaching unwilling students, hours of lesson planning and school prep, dishes, laundry, cleaning up the mess of 5 people never ever leaving the same 1200 square feet, ordering groceries, and constantly cooking. There was no time for anything else - other than the occasional shower and 20 minutes to read. I felt like a shell of a human. I felt like a mindless caretaker with no worth other than to make everyone else's lives happen. And I'm always happy to take care of my family - but it was ALL I did. It became the ONLY thing I consisted of. And to have that become my reality after nearly two years of already feeling stretched thin? I wasn't doing well.

So I made the decision to send my kids back after the holidays, once they were fully vaccinated. At the time of the decision (early November), it made perfect sense. I put my head down and finished all of our plans and units for the rest of 2021. I focused my energy on cultivating a fun and memorable holiday season. My boys got their shots and Matt and I got our boosters. But then...omicron. 

And yeah...I've questioned my sanity over going through with it about 700 times.

But at the end of the day, the transition was perfect academically and socially right now. They're returning at the same time everyone else needs to get used to being back at school again. And, they have a 3 week buffer before the second semester begins. Which means their grades won't be held against them while they readjust to school. They will get a "not enough data" grade on their report card that gets adjusted for their late start. Not to mention, there are several other kids (according to their counselors) who either started right before the break or are also starting this week because of their vaccine status. They're in good company.

So I decided to trust their vaccines and masks and hope for the best. And yes, I spend basically every moment wondering if I'll regret that. But what I think is right for them and what I know society will someday require of them are different things, and sometimes I have to make decisions that don't feel fully right to me in order to set them up for success. (And also, our society is stupid - the fact that we sometimes have to ignore mother's intuition to help our kids succeed is a red flag - but that's a chat for another day.)

Anyway, that's where we're at. KTU has closed it's operations for now. I'm thankful to at least get my dining room back. The rest is yet to be determined.

Monday, January 3, 2022

22 for 2022 (with skepticism).

 

I really don't know what to say about 2022 just yet.

Does anyone not have trust issues at this point? Since late 2019, every time my life has felt like it needed a little push or nudge or decluttering and I get my ducks in a row, something steps in the way to destroy it. Usually another variant. So for nearly two years now, I've been on a roller coaster. 

It usually looks like this.

1. Okay, we can ride this out and follow the suggestions.
2. Wait, why are we the only ones doing it?
3. Oh cool, here's an actual date on the calendar when things will be in better shape, we're good.
4. Just a hint of normalcy - almost there!
5. NEW VARIANT (or, schools don't want to help anymore, or, CDC says 'you're on your own!')
6. Panic, over-think, cry.
7. Okay, I think we've settled on a new solution.

Repeat steps 1-7. And again. (Probably again.)

Around and around it's gone. I want off this ride...bad.

There is so much that's entirely uncontrollable right now that is creating all of this chaos. And it makes me incredibly hesitant to plan anything, because my biggest takeaway so far is...plans are pointless. Laughable. Wildly fragile. But at the same time, I've got stuff to do! I've got things to go after and an identity beyond just making my family's lives possible. There was an actual ME before this stupid situation, and I am so tired of telling her to just wait. (Please have extra grace for your family and friends that have had school-age kids and younger through this pandemic, we're super not okay.)

My 22 goals for 2022 list (and why I'm not coming in hot this time). | www.jennrych.com

Every time I think about my goals and how I want to spend my time this year, I get this burning sense of guilt in my stomach. My kids are going back to school this week. One of them starts today, the others start tomorrow. They're as safe as they can be at this point and the timing is a contradictory mess of perfect and the worst. I haven't had an empty house and time to myself in 22 months. TWENTY TWO MONTHS. (Interesting number, considering what I'm about to share.)

So half of my mind is excited for the space and possibilities, and the other half wants to throw up knowing that I'm getting those things because I'm putting my kids into the most dangerous situation they've been in in the past two years. I just want to cry.

Sigh, this really isn't how a new year's goals post is supposed to go.

But welcome to my brain these days. I haven't tidied up. This is what it's like in here full-time. Contradictory back and forth on a constant loop, occasionally spiraling into a panic attack and an SOS call to my therapist. And I'm leaving it here...because my most fervent hope is that next year, my new year posts look nothing like this.

(I hope I hope I hope.)

I don't trust you, 2022. But there's a chance - a sliver of possibility - that you won't suck quite as badly as your preceding years. I'm not going in with gusto...you've got to prove it to me this time.

Instead of an energized, sparkling list of dreams and productivity, I give you...my tissue-paper thin collection of things I'd like to get to if life decides to stop taking a giant dump on all of us.


1. Share a freebie once a month.
2. Read the ACOTAR series.
3. Do Yoga with Adriene's Move series.
4. Read 55 books.
5. Track a moon month (or two).
6. Have a monthly embroidery project.
7. Finish my book draft.
8. Work out 12x a month.
9. Finally read and study a course in miracles.
10. Make a birthday card list and don't miss anyone.
11. Complete the BOTM reading challenge.
12. Make a kitchen update design and plan.
13. Make an embrace winter list.
14. Declutter 22 items a month.
15. Self-publish something new.
16. Focus on my TBR (read at least 20 books I already own).
17. Plan a date night once a month.
18. Stamp all my books with my library stamp.
19. Sell some stuff on ebay - try to make $500.
20. Keep a grimoire journal.
21. Say yes to outdoor activities I don't want to do once a month.
22. Do Gretchen Rubin's #Rest22in22 (because I freaking deserve it).


If I even do two of these, it'll be a win.