I wanted two things from our family vacation. TWO THINGS. I wanted a family photo and a Christmas ornament. Which I got. But I should have specified, it seems, because what I really wanted was a GOOD family photo where all four of us are looking at the camera and smiling and a beautiful and/or unique ornament that represented our week’s journey together.


I got an ornament – a cheesy one with bears and the words, “South” and “Dakota.” And I got family photos. Lots of ’em. Just not many with all four of us (there are two) – and certainly not one where none of us look constipated, angry or confused.

SIGH. Oh well, at least I have these end-of-summer beauties as consolation:

first day of school

pasta baby

Yep, that’s my life these days! Constant chaos and sometimes pure exhaustion, days filled with tears and tantrums and hugs and giggles and silly faces. So many silly faces. It was a good summer and a hard summer, a fun one and a long one. In short? We were all ready for the school year to begin a couple weeks ago!

I realize it’s not quite the end of the month (when I typically publish What I’m Into posts and link up with my friend Leigh), but next week my blog will go dark as it goes under construction for a redesign. And I haven’t written a What I’m Into post since May. So – an early, end-of-summer version it is!


What I’m Reading

This was another eclectic collection of books. Here’s the best of what I’ve read this summer:

  • The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan: For about five minutes earlier this summer, I caught a touch of royal fever. After using a photo of William and Kate in this post, I decided to watch the Lifetime movie about them. IT WAS ADORABLE, so I figured I’d read the book next. The book – which, as it turns out, was basically well-written fan fiction – was much longer and a little edgier than the TV movie. I liked it anyway – and really wish I knew how much of it was true to the actual William and Kate story!
  • On the Fence and The Distance Between Us by Kasie West: These books were two of the best contemporary YA novels I’ve read. Realistic, moving, funny – and great dialogue. I’m not-so-patiently waiting for West’s third book to be available at the library.
  • Sabotaged by Dani Pettrey: I put off reading this for quite a while after getting it. It was the last of the five-book series about siblings in Alaska, and I didn’t want to say goodbye. The last book was a solid finish to the series, and thankfully, Goodreads tells me that Pettrey is working on a new series.

Plus I have the latest books by Brad Meltzer, David Baldacci, Catherine Coulter and Janet Evanovich waiting beside my bed, along with Longing for Paris, Wild in the Hollow and Simply Tuesday by my friends Sarah Mae, Amber Haines and Emily Freeman. And while I can’t technically call Amy Poehler my friend, I am about halfway through her surprising, entertaining and enlightening memoir, Yes Please.

Oh, and I just got Jen Hatmaker’s new book, For the Love, last week and I’m dying to crack it open and dive in.

I told you guys: I have a book problem!


What I’m Watching

Last week I finally caught up on So You Think You Can Dance. Would you believe I’d let half a dozen episodes stack up on my DVR? And that doesn’t even count the audition episodes I simply deleted. WHo AM I? I don’t know, but please don’t tell Cat Deeley. I couldn’t handle it if she were disappointed in me and my fandom!

So what HAVE I been watching? Plenty. (I know. Shocker.) Here’s what’s taken the place of America’s favorite dancers, at least for a couple months:

  • Stitchers: A young adult sci-fi procedural on ABC Family. Creative and pretty and snarky. Basically, all my favorite things.
  • UnREAL: Ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes of The Bachelor? No, me either, but that didn’t stop me from watching this well-written, less-than-family-friendly drama on Lifetime.
  • Suits: So much anger and drama! Revenge! Secrets! And so many sharp suits! I love this show, season after season – and this one is just as good as previous ones.
  • Blue Bloods: This is the show Mark and I have decided to watch together on Netflix. It’s no Friday Night Lights, but we like it better than Heroes or West Wing (the other shows we tried together). (Don’t yell at me, West Wing fans. I’m going to watch it on my own!)
  • The Musketeers: The only thing this BBC show is missing are the lovely harmonies of Bryan Adams, Rod Stewart and Sting. Otherwise, it’s got all the Musketeer adventure, humor and dashing heroes and heroines you could ask for.
  • Miranda: My friend Amber said it, nonchalantly, “You know Miranda, of course, Mary…?” NO, I said. WHAT IS THIS SHOW OF WHICH YOU SPEAK? HOW HAVE I NEVER HEARD OF IT? Well, there’s no explanation for the latter, but I can tell you more about it now that I’ve watched nearly the entire series. It’s about a tall, awkward, delightful British woman and her awkward, delightful friends and family. It’s a half-hour sitcom in which the main character breaks out in song nearly as often as she addresses the camera. It’s hilarious and sweet and such fun – and you should watch it right away. (It’s on Hulu.)
  • Veep: I just watched the first season, and unless something changes dramatically I probably won’t see the rest of it for a while. (It’s on HBO, a station we don’t have, which limits options for streaming or online viewing.) Anyway. This show about a female vice president and her staff is irreverent and smart and biting and funny. Watch it if you like that sort of thing (but beware of a whole lot of HBO-rated language).

I’ve also had the uncommon [to me] fortune to see four movies in the theater this summer. Four! Of course, that hasn’t kept me from whining [at least to myself] about not seeing the new Mission Impossible movie (or the entertaining-looking Man from UNCLE) yet, but it has kept me from having the nerve to complain out loud.

You know. Until now.

WOMAN IN GOLD - 2015 FILM STILL - (L-R) RYAN REYNOLDS, HELEN MIRREN, and DANIEL BRUHL - Photo Credit: Robert Viglasky  © 2014 The Weinstein Company. All Rights Reserved.

Anyway. A few words about the movies I did see:

  • Jurassic World: I laughed so much, you guys – but I’m just not sure it was supposed to be funny…
  • Inside Out: Fascinating, touching, intricate and highly entertaining to both my daughter and me. I can’t wait to watch it again!
  • Woman in Gold: A little slow (read: no car chases or superheroes, IF YOU CAN IMAGINE) but very, very good. Based on a true story, it was about a woman trying to reclaim her family’s property that was stolen by Nazis during the war. As usual, Helen Mirren was lovely. And I remembered how much I really like Ryan Reynolds.
  • Ant-Man: I hate to be punny, but this was a much smaller move than the other Marvel films. And yet it was funny and sweet and still reasonably exciting. I liked it a lot.

I love the beginning of the school year more even than January when it comes to fresh starts. So I’ve been trying harder than ever to get my stuff together and organize this family. It’s going…so-so. I’m sure we’ll get it all figured out by May. Heh.

So that’s some of the fun stuff I was into this summer. In case you missed it, here are some of my favorite posts:


On this blog:

At other places

Now, tell me: What were YOU into this summer?

Read more What I’m Into posts at Leigh Kramer’s blog!

What should you watch next?


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