Year of Books: What We Read In January

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We are feeling good, folks! Did you read about our Year of Books?! Go ahead, click over. We'll wait.

Okay! Now that you are all caught up, I wanted to give you the run down of what was read in the House of Mami! OH and big ups to my girl Jennifer over at Baby Making Machine who is not only doing this challenge with us but, they're looking to clock a full 365 books this year. Go, go, go!!!!

What She Read:

Books we read to her:

I haven't finished any grown up books BUT, this is what I'm working on:

I've been so impressed by her enthusiasm. And I almost cried when she read the first Amelia Bedelia because it's a first chapter book and ohemgee! She's doing it, y'all!!!!

Want a pack of Dolch's 1st grade sight words? Sign up here and you'll get a downloadable file that you can print and cut! 

The January count is 18 books. Not too shabby considering we didn't start this until the 18th of the month. So...are you joining us?! You don't have to have 200 books on your list! Just read! And then share your books with us. Use the hashtag #YearofBooks. Mmmkay?!

*this post includes affiliate links. Cuz Mami needs more books!

Reading Between the Lines

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The Beginning

I am an avid reader. Anyone who knows me is aware of this little fact. I am also a great big advocate to instill the love of reading in children. I have a shirt somewhere that states that I help turn children into lifelong learners. It's the thing I took the most pride in while working at Scholastic Book Fairs.

Last year, I started noticing some issues with the Frog Princess as she learned to read. She started plateauing in the fall of her kindergarten year and I noted this to the teacher. I realized during that fall and winter that the teacher wasn't necessarily qualified to help me when my child had an issue (she suggested that I "get help for that" and I was so confused because wasn't that a school? Couldn't she help me?).

Enniweighs, last spring, I recalled a co-worker at Book Fairs having a similar issue with her child and it turned out to be something going on with his eyesight. He had an issue tracking and got physical therapy for it. That knowledge led me to the eye doctor and sure enough, the Frog Princess needed glasses.

[Tweet "We must learn to advocate for our kids! Without feeling like we failed."]

By this time, though, I noticed that her confidence was waning a bit. My frustration didn't help, I'm sure. Since then I had her assessed by a teacher who assured me she was actually ahead for her age and all has been well. She's on the honor roll for the 2nd time already and I'm super proud of the way she has tackled school.

Her reading grade is now an A. AN. A!

The Middle

I try my best to figure out how she learns. In the fall semester I felt like I was putting too much of my expectation on my kid. And even though I wasn't consciously doing this, I wondered if some of my frustration was because of other people's assumptions of her learning/reading level simply based on my current and ongoing love affair with books.

Shefali Tsabary sums it up beautifully: “When you parent, it’s crucial you realize you aren’t raising a “mini me,” but a spirit throbbing with its own signature. For this reason, it’s important to separate who you are from who each of your children is. Children aren’t ours to possess or own in any way. When we know this in the depths of our soul, we tailor our raising of them to their needs, rather than molding them to fit our needs.”

Dude, I have an amazing kid who happens to read slightly above her grade level. No, she's not reading novels. Not yet ready to finish up a Junie B. Jones book on her own. But she is compassionate and kind to others without prompting. She has a deep understanding of empathy and integrity. Her sense of direction is off the chain and her sense of humor trumps her cuteness.

The End

Not that I need to qualify anything that I am saying about my kid. The Frog Princess is learning. As her parents, so are we. The other night, I explained that learning is a treasure map for us. Her dad and I are searching with her to help her figure out the treasure. It's important for her to know that just as it was important for us to say that, sometimes, we might get frustrated not because of anything she's doing wrong but because we don't know if what we are doing is right.

The thing I am proud of is that I've managed to help her find her confidence. That I've sparked curiosity in her by the books I bring into the home. We listened to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone this past Fall and she enjoyed it. Then we watched the movie. Now she's hoping to be sorted into Gryffindor.

If you follow me on Insta, you know we made a pact to get through 200 books this year. Some I will read to her and some, she will read to me. Last night, she read me Amelia Bedelia Makes a Friend. All 38 pages of it. I was so happy I could burst.

We have an Amazon wishlist and I'm trying to fill it up even though we have more than a few books around the house.

I'm also tracking our reading in Good Reads and because I have a list problem, I have a list of books she reads and a list of books I read to her. These will add up to 200 by the time December 31st rolls in. Follow the convo on social and share your books using #YearofBooks and #SheReads.

This kid is not a mini-me and I am not my parents. Don't get me wrong, Mami was all the things but if I parented just like her, I would've missed the point. Because I have different resources at my disposal and the one thing I could say about Mami was that she did the best she could with the tools that she had. So I have to do the same for the Frog Princess. Unapologetically. Because I'm at a point in my life when I feel the most attuned with myself and the most whole, I find that this helps me see her separate from me and brings me closer to her all at the same time. As I think of all of this, I am reminded of this quote:

“It’s no surprise we fail to tune into our children’s essence. How can we listen to them, when so many of us barely listen to ourselves? How can we feel their spirit and hear the beat of their heart if we can’t do this in our own life?” - Shefali Tsabary

By listening to my own beat, I can teach her to follow hers. By understanding that there's so much more to life right now than her reading level, I become aware of the many gifts my child brings into this world. For me, this realization makes me even more excited to center myself and my purpose because I know that when I do that, I'm giving her a road map toward hers.

Mami Reads: I'm Judging You

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Disclosure: I love Luvvie. I love LuvvNation. These are my thoughts on her new book. How did I ever make the connection? I can't remember. It doesn't much matter but I am a writer and Mercury is in retrograde so I am only slightly in my feelings as I think back to how I first came upon the words that Luvvie pens on her blog, Awesomely Luvvie.

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I've had the GRAND pleasure of connecting with Luvvie via social media over the last few years.

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If you do not know who this is, please read this and this and this and then understand that I am filled with judgement over your lack of knowledge.

This is me. Judging you. Yes, that's Judgey Pop in my hair. She likes hanging out there.

Luvvie is all things perfection. A humorist, an activist, a fellow side-eyer. A purveyor of petty. A shaman of shenanigans. And so it would stand to reason that I love everything she writes. Especially her first book, I'm Judging You.

I'm Judging You

I'm supposed to review this but I don't want to. I want to read it to you. I want you to call me on the phone so I can either whisper or yell out these words to you, depending on the chapter. I want to spoon feed you the timely humor and in a separate bowl I want to provide you with the broth of truth from the wet ink with which she penned her words so that you can recover from the societal sicknesses that ail us all. This is how much I love this book.

This is how important this book is.

The book is segmented into 4 parts: Life, Culture, Social Media and Fame. In these sections, you will find the humor that we know and love as well as the conviction and truths that we have come to expect from Luvvie on social media. It truly is a Do-Better Manual, folks.

She tackles it all. What happens when women get caught around a bad man with a good peen (yes, it's what you think it is). 

"She owns her own apartment and she enjoys long strokes in the sheets." - Luvvie Ajayi

To the things that would happen if she had a body like J. Lo or Serena Williams...

"I'd be so ridiculous that people would be able to pick my labia out of a lineup." - Luvvie Ajayi

But you see, Luvvie also tackles racism...

"Black people actually have to PROVE their humanity, instead of having it accepted as a given." - Luvvie Ajayi

And rape culture...

"Men feel entitled to the attention of women, and they have been programmed to expect that they have some sort of ownership over us." - Luvvie Ajayi

It has it all!

It's truly a manual to make us better. It's not about making fun of others or cutting anyone down. She judges herself, first and foremost and then hands the rest of us a mirror so that we can catch a glimpse of the proverbial plank in our very own eye. Yassss! This book giveth and it taketh away.

Mostly, it took my breath away from laughter. And then it took my eyeroll as I agreed with so many of the points on the previous subjects talked about as well as weight, privilege and homophobia, to name a few.

"LGBT does not stand for let's get busy tonight..." - Luvvie Ajayi

I have a confession to make. I've been hoarding her words. I couldn't wait to get my hands on this book and though I've been known to finish a book in a matter of hours, I kept setting this one down gently so as not to run out of words.

Thing is...Luvvie is always funny but what sets her apart is her ability to weave funny things into the epicenter of real and still make it count in a powerful way.

Her words are connecting with me in a way that makes me want to savor the moment. This book is not a shot of Tequila. It's a honey bourbon on ice best enjoyed on a porch swing while fireflies flutter nearby reminding you that you are real and this is magic.

This. Book. Is. Magic. And if you don't get it, it's not so much that you'll miss out on the laughter, it's that you'll miss out on the lessons. The many lessons that this beautiful, insightful, caring, compassionate, hilarious, powerful individual has gifted us.

All that to say...BUY THE BOOK. You will not regret it.

"This book is not a shot of Tequila. It’s a honey bourbon on ice best enjoyed on a porch swing while fireflies flutter nearby reminding you that you are real and this is magic." - Sili Recio

***this post contains an affiliate link***

5 Things I'm Judging: Back-To-School

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I know we are only 2 days into the school year but I already have things I'm judging. Life is short, people and I have no damn time to wait. BlackFrame

Also, I am missing my Judgey Pop and suspect someone might've eaten it. I don't know how I feel about this other than it's making me extra judgey. Let's get right to it.

1. Alarm Clocks

So I know we don't have "alarm clocks" per se. Though I will say I have one but I refuse to actually set it. How can I judge an alarm clock I haven't yet set? Well 2 things: 1. it's 2016, it should know what time I need to get up and set itself for me and b. I continuously sleep through my phone alarm because obviously technology is failing me. Okay so technically, I've slept through 3 alarms before. What am I supposed to do? They do not work! I mean, I'm a light sleeper so I don't understand the problem.

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My subconscious is all "forget you and your responsibilities! We are going to turn this off instead of hitting snooze!" What can I do? Well, I can judge it, that's what!

2. Lunches

For the very first time, I don't have to pack lunch because my daughter's school now offers it (shout out to that!). The thing is, she's still all "why don't you pack me a lunch anyway AND pay for lunch and then I'll figure out what I feel like having when I get there?" Really, chick? You're not going to let me live sans lunch prep? Well, if I have to keep packing food, I'm judging it ALL!

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3. School Buses

My child doesn't ride the school bus. So first and foremost, I'm judging this school for allowing all of us outside of the school zone to sign our kids up thereby rendering us bus-free. But mostly, I'm judging these school buses for being in these streets when I am obviously on my way to school!

So, not only are you NOT picking up my kid but you're all up on this road blocking my obvious bee line to this crazy ass carpool line? I'm especially judging school buses because it leads to...

4. Carpool Lines

You guise! If you follow my FB page, you may or may not have heard my rants last year about folks doing the least to follow car pick up rules. Well, this year I am here to tell you that we are at a bigger school. I had a semi coronary when I saw TWO lines today. TWO! I read the car pickup rules, it said nothing of two lines. But let the record show that I also did not get the diagram that was listed so, there's that. Yes, I take carpool seriously.

I don't get road rage but I get carpool rage. I judge it all. Like, the person that used to park their car, walk. across. cars. in. pickup. line. and then pick up their kid. Where deydoo that at?! This is the equivalent of you sashaying yo ass up to the drive thru in your sassiest Converses. It should not be done!

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5. Coffee

I love coffee, you know that. I have a very special relationship with Cafe Bustelo. But, I'm judging all matters of caffeine because, like these alarm clocks, there's no mind-reading capabilities currently in the works. I use a percolator. Why can't things just magically happen so that I can get caffeinated before I leave here to drop my kid off?

Do better, coffee! Do better!

Speaking of doing better, Ima need y'all to go grab this book if you'd like to getcho life right in the judging category. Or, getchu the audiobook read by the side eye sorceress herself, Ms. Luvvie Ajayi.

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I'll be doing a separate book review but rest assured, I'm Judging You: The Do-Better Manual is the one damn book you should NOT miss this fall. Hurry up and get it before you make my next judgment list. What'd I miss on this back-to-school judgment? Holla at ya girl!

UPDATE: listen to a book excerpt here!

Disclosure: I love Luvvie and I'm not afraid to tell you. I am not being paid nor rewarded with jollof rice (though seriously, would it kill her?!). All thoughts, opinions and judgments are purely my own. Also: there's an affiliate link up in here. Why, you ask? Because I need the coins to buy the kid more knee socks. Judge that!

10 Books For Your Summer Reading List

Disclosure: this is a sponsored post. All thoughts, opinions and possible 3 figure spend buying books are purely my own. I lied. I'm not going to tell you about reads. I'm going to tell you about summer listens. But first, this is my story (insert Law & Order thumps).

I used to hate audiobooks. With a passion. Back in those days (ugh, I can't even believe I just typed that), they were "books on tape". TAPE! But, I digress.

I was the category manager (read: book buyer) for adult fiction and non-fiction titles at a book fair company. And one of the things we took great pride in was that everything that was being put out got read. Everything! So, if my small selection included 30 books for the fall, it meant that I had to read at least 40-50 books. That's not counting the galleys and advance reader copies that hit my desk which also had to be culled through and read.

Currently, there's a battle in my head as to which was the FIRST book I ever listened to on tape. The battle is between Midnight In the Garden of Good and Evil and Memoirs of a Geisha. They were definitely the first 2 I listened to at the insistence of an co-worker.

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It. Changed. My. Life.

No longer did I fret in making my way through the piles of books. I could cull catalogs (Lawd! How old am I?) and request books be sent to me on tape. Later on, it was on CD. This meant that I could read one book and listen to one book in a week's time. Yassss!

After having the kid, my reading slowed down substantially. In the last year, I have made concerted efforts to keep to the "at least 12 books a year" rule. And I couldn't do it without Audible.

It's the thing I listen to when I am home cleaning and getting the house together on those days when the Frog Princess is with her dad. It's my delight and treasure when I travel as I am reminded of the piles of books I used to get through month after month.

Yes, I still buy books. Sometimes, I buy the book AND the audio. Currently, the Frog Princess and I are making our way through Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. It's her very first time being exposed to the series and Jim Dale is the absolute BEST at narrating. Needless to say, she's asking to stay up late to listen to Harry Potter and what do you think I say?

There are 2 things I learned while I was a book buyer: 1. books are definitely judged by their covers and 2. audiobooks are judged by the narrator. If you've tried audiobooks before and they just didn't work, try it again! It's like a book. Sometimes you're not ready for that one in particular and at other times you just have to pick up something else.

Without further ado, here's a list of audiobooks that have either won my heart or are winning my attention this summer. 

10 (or 12) Books For Your Summer Reading List

  1. The Opposite of Everyone by Joshilyn Jackson - I told y'all about her first book, Gods In Alabama. I believe the second time I read this it was a listen. I can't wait to get into this one. I love the title and I don't think Joshilyn will let me down.
  2. Son by Lois Lowry - Don't sleep on YA titles, people! I cannot tell you how many amazing stories I've read that I see others pass by. If you've read Lois Lowry then this one is a must. I have had this in my audible account for a minute! Looking forward to getting into it this summer, though. 
  3. Seriously...I'm Kidding by Ellen DeGeneres - I've had this for a few months but haven't gotten around to it (Big Magic & Eat, Pray, Love bumped it, I'm afraid). I'm always up for a little humor and I think Ellen will give me the giggles necessary to make it through hot summer days.
  4. This Too Shall Pass by Milena Busquets - because Andrea said so. I mean, don't you just blindly go with another bookworm's recommendation? I sure do!
  5. The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom - I still recall having to sign a non-disclosure agreement to read some of his books. It's serious in the book world, people. Mitch hasn't let me down yet and I cannot wait to get into this one.
  6. Let's Pretend This Never Happened and Furiously Funny make this list because holy shit, Jenny Lawson is hilarious. I thought I might be carted off an airplane while listening to these books because I was laughing semi-hysterically with tears in my eyes. I mean you can read the book but, you HAVE to listen to Jenny reading it. Nothing else will do.
  7. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates I'm excited and scared to read this one. I know it's going to be emotionally charged but it's one of those "must reads" in my mind.
  8. The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson I was drawn to this title when I saw it on a list before knowing who wrote it or what it was about. Books get judged by titles too. But I have a feeling that this story, chronicling the racist bondage under which African-Americans lived, years after being legally emancipated will bring it home and deliver knowledge into this gray matter.
  9. Concious Parent by Dr. Shefali Tsabary - does this need an explanation? Y'all, I'm trying to woosaah my way through parenting and I saw Dr. Tsabary on OWN and I think she can help me. Full disclosure: I bought this book because I figured I'd want to highlight some thangs. I haven't seen it since December. This is why audiobooks work for me these days.
  10. Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes - I told you guys about this one a few months ago and if you haven't already read it, I guarantee that it will change your entire summer and probably the rest of the year. 
  11. I said 10 but as with my saying read instead of listen, I LIED (have you been counting because the answer is not 11 either)! My very personal favorite and the book that I am officially taking the day off for? I'm Judging You by Luvvie Ajayi. If you read her blog you know the hilarity that can ensue. Anyone who has a glossary of terms on her site is not only after my very own heart (I started one of these as a book buyer) but the shenanigans that ensue on her Facebook page guarantee that this will not only be a best seller but will have you laughing, cackling and most likely...thinking. I placed my pre-order already, folks. Getchu some!

So...are you ready? If you're not hype after reading this, we cannot be friends! But if you are, you can head on over to Audible and get your very own 1-month FREE trial. Y'all. Seriously. Why would you NOT do that?!

Tell me, what will you listen to first?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Audible. The opinions and text are all mine.