What We Do When We’re Not Scooting

It’s hard to believe but Scoot a Doot has been in existence since 2013! When we aren’t Scooting our Doots, we can be found putting our time and effort toward other notable endeavors. Like what, you ask? Well…

A few years ago I got involved with the Bullock Children’s Garden at my younger son’s school. We have since moved to a different school district but remain involved with the Bullock Garden, as it’s something that is near and dear to my heart.

Therefore when my friend and gardening mentor, Sonya Harris started the Bullock Garden Project, Inc., a non-profit that assists in bringing gardens to schools, I was 100% on board. In fact, we just helped the new school my son is in with their Reimagination Garden. I absolutely love being on the board of the BGP and helping with the social media/marketing aspects. It’s not only personally enjoyable, it’s also rewarding to see the kids getting so much from the gardens that they help create.

My children during the recent garden build. At this point they’re just like – what has mom signed us up for now? Ha!

I’ve been asked (by more than one person) if I’m a teacher. Maybe it’s because many of my friends are teachers? Anyway, no, I’m not.

At least, not in the traditional sense. I used to teach Stroller Strides, which was a workout class for moms with kiddos in strollers. These days, I’m the coordinator for the non-profit Healthy Kids Running Series – Mullica Hill/Mantua.

It’s perfect because it combines two things that I love: running and kids. Oh, and being in charge. The Healthy Kids Running Series is something I’d heard about over the years (my location started in 2015 with different coordinators).

When I took over as coordinator for this spring, it became a family affair. It is not a one-person show and I have no delusions that I could do it alone. My support system consists of my family and an awesome group of volunteers and sponsors – and that’s important when you have over 250 kids to manage!

Planning for the fall has already begun and I’m looking forward to introducing more kids to the love of running!

I started a personal blog when I turned thirty. I wrote about life, teaching, books, and my new found running obsession. When I started writing for Scoot, I turned it into a blog about teaching. There’s always plenty to say about the best job ever. My feelings are all over thisgirlashteaches.blospot.com.

I also grew from that blog been writing and rambling about books for about three years. I’ve always loved to read and I also love to talk about books. I could talk about books all day. Of course, not everyone wants to hear me wax poetic about what I’m reading, so I started typing is all up. You can find my randomness at www.thisgirlashreadsstuff.com. As you can see, I’m really serious about it.

For my birthday this month, I decided to fundraise for Planned Parenthood. PP is doing work that so many women (and men) in our country depend on for their overall health. They provide safe access to abortion services as well as birth control, STI/STD screenings, cancer screenings, pregnancy tests, and treatment for a number of other health issues.


The Trump Administration is working hard to take access to this healthcare away from us. With a new gag rule, he and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar are now trying to make it official government policy. The gag rule is an attempt to take away women’s basic rights. Period. The new gag-rule announced this week would block patients from care at Planned Parenthood, and it would prohibit medical providers across the country from being able to refer their patients for safe, legal abortion.Women must be able to have agency over their bodies and be able to control their own health. We don’t live in Gilead… yet. Let’s keep fighting to make sure we never do.
Parkland. Santa Fe. Las Vegas. Newtown. Columbine. Virginia Tech. Thurston. 
This list goes on and on and on. Add these to the growing number of black men and women that have been unlawfully killed by police? It’s evident we have a gun violence problem in our country. I’m ready to change that. Don’t at me. 
For years, my main hobby was showing dogs and educating folks about responsible dog ownership and ethical breeding. It was a fun ride, but as my dogs aged and my hubby and I got sick and tired of the politics of showing, we retired and stepped away from our officer roles with the Rocky Mountain Pug Dog Club. It was time to try new things.

Me and my Archie, CH Palace’s Brocade in Blue, raking in the points!

Honestly, 97% of my time these days is dedicated to finishing my house. The other three percent is reserved for pursuing my dream of becoming a published author, and leading the writing critique group I co-founded, Tall Pines Fiction Writers. We meet every other Wednesday to support, commiserate, and provide feedback on one another’s work. I didn’t always know I wanted to be a writer. I love reading and excelled in English and literature classes in school but never tried to write fiction. My boyfriend (now husband) kept telling me I should write because I love to read. He didn’t really get that the two are not the same thing at all.

In 2009, I decided to write a short story for a contest online. I sent it off, nervous because I knew my technical skills needed a lot of work.  With the help of a great editor who became one of my best friends, I won the canon category of the contest! Yes, it was a Twilight fan fiction story. Judge me all you want, I regret nothing. It sounds silly, but winning that contest changed my life. It taught me that maybe I had what it took to really be a writer. Since then, I’ve published two short stories!

There is nothing quite so special as seeing your name in print in a real book that wasn’t published by your friend’s indie publishing house.

Right now, I’m focused on finishing the first draft of my young adult paranormal sci-fi novel, and trying to learn about the publishing business. I launched a website earlier this year,  Author J.L. Perez, where you can follow along on my crazy writing adventure, and I’m on Twitter at @Author_JLPerez. I’d love to see you over there!
That’s what we’ve got going on these days! We’d love to hear about what you are up to so please, leave links for us in the comments and we’ll swing by. 

#Read2018 Check In

Somehow, it’s March, Team. I don’t know how we got here, but we did and this month is nearly halfway over. The Ides Of March are upon us.

In the spirit of a little Shakespeare, I thought I’d check in on my reading list so far this year. You may remember that one of my goals was to read at least 15 books in 2018. As of March 11, I have finished nine books and have started my 10th!

My list so far has been a mix of memoir and make believe. Historical fiction and fantasy. I thought id give you a peak at what I’ve finished in 2018:

 

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher
Even at 19, she was already a better writer than just about everyone else. I’m grateful we have her words left to us.

Promise Me, Dad by Joe Biden
It’s rare to find a book – by a politician, no less – that manages to eat at every corner of your heart. Joe Biden’s memoir of the last years of his son’s life, juxtaposed against the responsibilities and pressures of the vice presidency reveals a man who’s most important duty in life is to care for people around him. It’s vulnerable, it’s genuine, and no matter your opinion of him politically, it’s hard to deny the honesty with which he addresses tragedy and loss. Grief is a universal language and it knows no political affiliation. “Promise Me, Dad” is a meditation for those in mourning and a vision for a brighter future.

Thank you, Joe, for sharing your grief in such a beautiful way and for reminding us that we all have something to work and hope for.

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly
If you enjoy historical fiction, the WWII-era, and the complex emotions woven throughout our collective memory.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
Can Celeste Ng just write all the things? Please? This was such a beautiful story to read. (Go read it and “Little Fires Everywhere” now.)

Fierce by Aly Raisman
I’m a sucker for sports memoirs, and Aly’s Fierce met all my expectations. I’m so proud to see the voice she’s found and the courage she’s shown, not only in the last few months surrounding the Larry Nassar trial, but also in her career. She’s an impressive young woman.

Girl at War by Sara Novic
Sara Nović’s Girl at War is an incredibly vivid account of the Balkan Wars of the early 90s. I’ll admit, I know shamefully little about this period of history, and this story gave me some incredible perspective. For as much literature as there is about the Holocaust, it’s easy for us to say “but that was so long ago…” – the same types of things were happening in Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, and the other nations that made up Yugoslavia not even 30 years ago. The same things are happening now in Syria. In Myanmar. We still have so much to learn.

Macbeth by William Shakespeare
I decided I wanted to read some Shakespeare that I haven’t read before, and somehow I graduated with an English degree without having finished Macbeth. Done and done. I enjoyed this one, though not as much as King Lear, if we’re picking favorites.

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
This book made my heart happy and sad at the same time. It takes place in Alaska and reading it felt like home. But the characters’ experience made my heart ache. It’s a beautiful story about the wilderness and the wildness of Alaska and humanity.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
Again, not sure how I have an English degree because I only just read this book. I loved it. A young female protagonist saves her family? Yes please. I so badly want to see the movie now, too.

Number 10 is Leading with the Heart by Mike Kryzewski – one of my favorite coaches and sports minds. I figure March is the perfect time to crack this one open.

I’m well on my way to meeting my goal, but I could always use more suggestions! What books are you currently reading?

Goals on Goals on Goals

Here we are again. Somehow, the end of the year is here and a new one is upon us – I’m not sure where 2017 went. In some ways, this year has been the BEST and in other ways, 2017 can go die in a fire. Probably right up there with 2016 in the realm of “eff you”. Here’s hoping 2018 has its shit together. Fingers crossed.

A few weeks ago, I reviewed my 2017 goals and checked in on my progress on each one. I was doing pretty well on some and needed to keep working on others. Consequently, my 2018 goals will probably seem pretty similar.

1. Make Sleep a Priority

While I’ve gotten more sleep over the past year, I’m still not great at prioritizing sleep the way I should. As I get older, I notice more acutely how much slower my body is to recover – and I think sleep plays a big part in that. If I’m not sleeping well, I stay fatigued and sore much longer, and I’m just not motivated to do much of anything. Sometimes, making sleep a priority means that I don’t stay up late to watch football, or go out on the weekends very often – both of these go hand in hand with drinking a LOT less alcohol. Drinking less (I rarely drink at all anymore) also helps me sleep. Wine doesn’t put me to bed the way it used to… it mostly just makes me feel like butt when I wake up. So, in 2018, I shall sleep more and drink less!

2. Weekend Water

Karen Walker is generally #goalz, but swap the vodka for water

Generally, I’m very good at drinking water throughout the day. I keep a water bottle on my desk at work and I’m constantly getting up to fill it during the day. At home, we drink lots of sparkling water, but on the weekends, when I’m not working, I don’t drink nearly enough. I did get a fancy new water bottle for Christmas, though, so I’ve tried to be more diligent about using it throughout the evenings and the hours when I’m not working. I’m along with Jenn for the ride of upping water intake.

3. Read *At Least* 15 Books

Last year, I said I wanted to read 30 books. HAHAHAHA. I got through 12 books this year – which is significantly more than I read in 2016, but not even halfway to my goal of 30. So, for 2018, I want to hit the 15 book mark, and if I can go beyond it, then great! I’m always looking for recommendations, too, so hit me up. I got Hillary Clinton’s “What Happened,” Joe Biden’s “Promise Me, Dad,” and Carrie Fisher’s “The Princess Diarist” for Christmas, so I’ll be starting with those. I’ll probably cry through two of the three. Whatever.

4. Practice CrossFit Skills More Regularly

Since starting CrossFit this summer, I’ve learned so many new skills and have improved my movements in a lot of other areas. I can do double-unders now, I can snatch, I can clean almost 200 pounds… but there are many movements I am not proficient in. In 2018, I’d like to work on my ring work (dips, muscle ups), bar work (chest to bar pull-ups, muscle ups), and handstands. Basically all of the gymnastics things. Strength-wise, I’d love to hit new PRs on all of my lifts – which just means lots of reps. I want to try to make it to open gym to work on this skills and hopefully improve as an athlete.

5. Move More – Scroll Less

I spend a lot of time on social media. Like, a lot. Between work (I manage social media there) and home (my evenings often involve Netflix and Instagram scrolling), it’s kind of an all day thing. Now, I’m not here to be all “social media is a poison and it’s rotting our brains” because I think that’s patently untrue. I think social media is great. It offers an incredible platform for people to connect and engage all over the world. It allows us to meet new people and stay in touch with family and friends. But, if we’re not careful, it can be a trap – whether that be politics or body image or otherwise. Mostly, this goal is just to be more cognizant of how many times I’m picking my phone up or sitting and scrolling instead of going out for  walk or finding something to do around the house. Just trying to be more aware and bring more balance  and presence to this area of my life.

Obviously, these goals aren’t time-stamped, and they certainly don’t have an expiration date. My next steps are just to keep on trucking and make a little bit of progress every day. I would like to keep a small journal, just to help keep track of some of the measurable items and to help remind myself of these goals throughout the year.

How do you set goals for yourself? Do you buy in to New Year’s resolutions?

 

Chick Chat: Warm Fuzzies

Recently we were discussing things that make us happy. Of course there are the classics, the tried and true favorites that we return to continually. And then there are the newer things that we’ve recently stumbled upon that we can’t stop thinking about and make us forget about the craziness of the world for a short while.

We wanted to share our lists with you and would love to hear what you’re loving right now, too!

I honestly don’t know how I would cope right now without cute animal photos and videos on the internet. Here are my current faves:

I’m big on escapism when I have time for it. My husband and I like to watch old sitcoms on Netflix and Hulu. Comfort TV, we call it. I Love LucyWings, and Married With Children all get airtime, and when my husband isn’t home I binge watch the BBC 1995 Pride & Prejudice miniseries

I’m a fan of video games but since my TV and PS3 are in storage, I had to take a break from Skyrim. Now I’m playing Texas Hold’em poker and Forge of Empires on my phone.

I haven’t had much time for reading lately, but audiobooks have been my jam when I’m driving or in the background at work. Although, Hillbilly Elegy and How the Right Went Wrong aren’t exactly stress-free listening, both were worth my time and aggravation; I recommend them.

Books

One of my goals for 2017 was to read more. I said I wanted to read 30 books… but I’ve gotten through six. Granted, four of those have been Game of Thrones books, and those suckers are long. But still. I just finished Chasing Excellence by Ben Bergeron and it was really eye-opening. Bergeron is the coach for two elite Crossfit athletes and throughout the book he discusses competitive mindset. Highly recommend. (I’ll be doing a full review of this next week!)

Podcasts

I think I’m subscribed to three or four podcasts that I listen to regularly. Here are my top two:

Girls Gone WODJoy and Claire make you feel like you’re one of their best friends. I started listening to this podcast last year, though at the time I wasn’t doing Crossfit. It didn’t matter though, because their subject matter and conversation goes so far beyond the sport of fitness. They talk about fun things, like Mean Girls, and hard things, like body image, and are always working to educate themselves and their listeners along the way. I cannot recommend them highly enough.

Pursuing Health with Julie FoucherThis is another Crossfit-related podcast that goes beyond Crossfit. Julie Foucher is a multi-year Crossfit Games athlete, and two-time podium finisher. She is also a recent medical school graduate and a doctor at the Cleveland Clinic. This podcast captures Julie’s passion in taking what she’s learned from Crossfit and in the field of medicine, and using it to empower others to live healthier lives. Her perspective as an athlete and a healthcare profession is unique and really welcome. Two thumbs up.

TV Shows

I’m just gonna give you a list of stuff you need to watch. Stat.

  • Game of Thrones. Duh. You have at least a year, if not a year and a half to get caught up before the last season starts. There’s no better time to visit Westeros!
  • Big Little Lies. DUDE. I hadn’t read the book before I sat down to watch this mini-series, so I didn’t know what to expect. What I got was amazing performances from Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon and Shailene Woodley. Holy wow. So. Good.
  • Parks and Recreation. Whenever I’m down or need a good laugh, I sit down with Leslie Knope and the good people of Pawnee (First in Friendship, Fourth in Obesity). The first season is a little slow, but hang in there and you’ll thank me later.
  • West Wing. I’ll be honest, I watch this primarily because it’s one of the best shows in television history, and it helps me ignore the shitstorm currently in the White House. Bartlet 2020, anyone?

Movie

Singin’ In The Rain – recently my son asked if we could watch together. Naturally, I said YES. Then I tried to reenact this scene by myself. It went as well as you might expect.

I’ll leave the dancing to the professionals. Even still, this movie just makes me very happy.

Tying into movies, let’s talk about my current favorite music!

Music

The soundtrack from the movie: Sing! It is so good. My kids love it. My parents love it. My husband (who is a little cranky at times) loves it. And, of course it goes without saying because it’s made my list, I love it.

So me.

It’s the perfect music to cook dinner to, to drive to, to run to, it’s a brilliant mixture that fits so many different occasions. Good, good stuff.

Podcasts

I’ve been listening to podcasts mostly when I clean/do the laundry. Those two things don’t make me happy but the podcasts makes the chores bearable. I save a lot of my tedious tasks for Friday because that’s when both are published.

BibRave Podcast – The BibRave podcast has been in existence for just over a year now and while it was at first hosted by BibRave founders, Julia and Tim, it has since expanded to include more hosts (Andy and Jessica). It’s not a secret that I’m a BibRave Pro so one might think I have a vested interest in listening. Honestly, I’d listen no matter what.

They host interesting guests and touch on all aspects of running and cross-training, as well as taking care of yourself and body. Even though I’m not at the running 100 mile race level (and probably never will be) the most recent episode from Tim’s Leadville 100 was relatable and unlike other podcasts I’ve listened to.

Team Shenanigans Podcast – This is hosted by a fun bunch of folks from all over the place. Usually spanning an hour, the Team Shenanigans crew talks a lot about runDisney events (which I haven’t actually run since 2015) but also discusses other races and events. The dynamic between this group is great and they remind me of friends that I’d hang out at a bar(becue because I don’t really hang out at bars much these days).

One of my favorite recent episodes from earlier this summer was when Caryn became a Queen of Connecticut by completing a race in every town of CT (that’s 169 towns, btw).

We’d love to hear some of your favorites! Please share in the comments.

New Year’s Resolutions? More Like Life Resolutions.

Now that we’re a month into 2017, those resolutions we made a few short weeks ago might have already fallen to the wayside. Or, you could have been like me and not made any resolutions at all, in which case you might still be trying to figure out what you want to do in 2017 and how you’re going to accomplish it.

We hear so much talk about #newyearnewme that is almost seems like a requirement that we all resolve to be skinnier or stronger or whatever. I have a hard time with that, because 1. The me that I am right now seems pretty okay, and 2. Shouldn’t we focus more on being a better human being and making meaningful changes in our lives than just the superficial?

Similarly, I don’t think the beginning of the year has cornered the market on when we’re allowed to set goals. Who says you can’t make resolutions at the end of January, or in May or in August? No one, that’s who.

Given that, I’ve spent the last couple of weeks really evaluating some *life* things and have made pledges to myself and to others. Some of these pledges are fitness related, others are more broadly applicable in my life. All are aimed at growing into a better person and maybe bettering the word around me, too.

1. Get more sleep.
This is a fitness goal if I’ve ever seen one. Having a history of troubled sleep or simply not getting enough has meant that I haven’t allowed my body the appropriate recovery time. In the last month and a half, Clay and I have prioritized early bedtimes in favor of getting the most sleep possible. Consequently, we’ve been feeling a lot better physically and been more successful in the gym.

2. Read more books.
This seems like a gimme, but it’s ones that I’m really excited about! I used to be voracious reader as a kid, but since graduating college, the time I’ve dedicated to reading has dwindled. However, now that getting to bed early is a reality, so is making time to read a little before falling asleep. My goal is to finish at least 30 books this year – I’m already two in (one of those being Game of Thrones. Go big or go home amirite?)
3. Balance my workouts.
Weightlifting has been front and center for more than a year, but I want to make sure I’m balancing that with cardio as well – I feel better physically when I make time for a run or a Kaza class or two during the week. I want to stick to this, especially while Clay travels for work and my gym partner is gone.

4. Get more involved in my community.
This is a goal that has grown out of the atmosphere of the past few weeks – I feel that to best do my small part to fix what is so broken, I first need to get to know my neighbors and our community. To better understand what challenges we all face and what our priorities are.

5. Adjust my five year plan.
Following the last goal, this one is broader. My new five year plan includes going back to school and getting my law degree, so that I can really make bigger moves in advocacy and political action. But, in order to make that happen, I need to make some other adjustments and allowances. I’m grateful to have a partner who supports and encourages these dreams – and who understands that they may take time to achieve, but they are still possible.

More than new year’s resolutions, these goals aren’t time-stamped, and they certainly don’t have an expiration date. My next steps are just to keep on trucking and make a little bit of progress every day.

How do you set goals for yourself? Do you buy into New Year’s resolutions?

Wild Thing

I’ve been going through some things lately.  Mostly difficult things.  Mentally, I’m drained.  I’m sure you parents and educators out there are feeling the Common Core crunch right about now.  I sure am!  I’m in a new grade level at a new school in a new district with new standards.  I’ve been teaching for 10 years and every day I’m hit with the realization that I might not know what I’m doing.  I am not amused.

Have you hugged a teacher today?

Have you hugged a teacher today?

I’ve been completely sucking at my food plan.  As such, my energy levels have been nilch.  I’ve had some issues in my personal relationship so as you might imagine, I’ve been feeling just plain shitty.  I feel like I spend so much energy trying to control so many things in my life; work, love, my children, food, exercise, weight…that there’s nothing left in the gas tank for actually enjoying my life.

I read this book “Go Wild” by John J. Ratey, MD.  It’s all about getting back to basics, and I mean the evolutionary basics, when it comes to food, exercise, sleep, and socializing.  It promotes a natural, hunter/gatherer diet, very paleo in nature, but the huge parts I remember are the bits about grains and sugars.  And how they’re the devil.

2014-09-12 13.06.10

I’m a sugar fiend.  I love cake.  I run just so I can have Laffy Taffy.  I’m completely and totally addicted and in love with sugar.  To hear that sugar is basically toxic to my body was heartbreaking.  I wanted to deny it!  But there’s just so much damn proof.

The book offers so many reasons why humans suffer now from all these afflictions which were virtually non-existent generations and generations ago.  Some of these afflictions are completely absent even today in aboriginal and native cultures.  The book argues that modern civilization is causing the demise of our species.  And I’m on board, ladies and gents.  Yes, I realize I just condemned modern civilization in a blog, for crying in the mud.  But there’s something wrong with our world, with our species.  Everytime I turn on NPR, I’m reminded of it.  Heart disease, cancer, childhood obesity, mental illness…I’m ready to simplify.  And I’m especially ready to change the habits I’ve forced on my children.  Processed foods, say hello to my little friend…Relax, it’s just a trash can.

I’m also attending the Wild Feminine retreat in North Carolina.  Click here to check it out on facebook.  Yep, I’ve signed myself up for some naked forest dancing (or so I hope), looking to find that goddess within that I’ve lost touch with.  I’m so very excited for this opportunity to just spend some time with myself, and get back to my wild nature.  I want to feel comfortable in my body and at ease with my role on this huge planet.  I want to experience something far more important than my silly insecurities and issues.  Are you ready for Wild Cam? Because I am.

 

I Like Good Books and I Cannot Lie

“She had always wanted words, she loved them; grew up on them. Words gave her clarity, brought reason, shape.” 

The above quote is from The English Patient, but I’m convinced Michael Ondaatje wrote it about me.

This is, perhaps, the most important thing you should know about me: I love words. I always have. As soon as I grasped language and  reading, as soon as I understood the enchantment of books, I was lost to them. I read voraciously as soon as I was able: Dr. Seuss books (all of which Bug now has in his room. Vintage!), Shel Silverstein, Lois Lowry and C.S. Lewis and the list goes on and on and on. I loved diving into different worlds. How cool was it that one minute I was me, a super-cool kid with kickin’ style, and then the next I was a girl in search of dragons? That is the absolute magic of  books: that through the power of words and imagination, you can be whoever you want to be.

To this day, you’re more likely to find me with my nose in a book (or a Kindle, despite my fervent belief that it takes away from the purity of reading. Where’s the book smell?!) than glued to the television. Being in a library or book store borders on a religious experience for me. Growing up, I spent many a weekend curled up in the corner of either. Ain’t no party like a library party, ’cause a library party won’t STOP.

You’re probably starting to understand just how cool I am. But that’s what being surrounded by books does to me. I’m taken in by the smell of bound paper, by row after row after row of books, all of them teeming with their own lives, with unique worlds that are just waiting to be discovered.

All the books hanging out at the famous City Lights Bookstore. This place is magic.

All the books hanging out at the famous City Lights Bookstore. This place is magic.

THE SHELVES ARE ALIIIIIVE, WITH THE SOUND OF WOOOORLDS (I tried).

THE SHELVES ARE ALIIIIIVE, WITH THE SOUND OF WOOOORLDS (I tried).

The community bulletin board, where people shout out their favorite poets. I loved this one.

The community bulletin board, where people shout out their favorite poets. I loved this one.

The past couple of weeks, I’ve been caught up in the voracious kind of reading that I used to do pre-Bug. The kind where I’m sneaking off during my lunch break and hiding in bathrooms just so I can get through a few more pages. The kind where I’m staying up late just to finish this page – well, the chapter’s almost over, can’t stop, won’t stop – oh, this is an odd-numbered page and I hate odd numbers, gotta keep going – wait, how is it MIDNIGHT? That kind of reading. The swept-up-into-a-world kind of reading. The BEST kind of reading.

Meri, Brooke, Bec and I have been texting constantly on this subject lately. And the bonus to all of this reading? It inspires my writing. It gets me daydreaming while I’m running, which is an awesome distraction on those brutal hills (there, now this isn’t completely off topic).

I might not be naughty by nature, but I’m a sharer by nature, so for all of you fellow bookworms, these are the books I gobbled up recently. Note: I have book boyfriends in each of these.

Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor

This is the second book in the series – the first is Daughter of Smoke & Bone. Let me tell you: this is one of the most gorgeously written, inspired and creatively told series I’ve ever read. The world Laini Taylor built, the sheer magic of it, is just beyond. I’m not usually into fantasy, but this is the stuff right here. It transcends genre preferences due to sheer perfection.

Book boyfriend: Akiva

Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor

The third and final book in the Smoke & Bone series. My heart! Seriously, READ THIS SERIES. And then let’s talk about it.

Book boyfriend: Akiva (again and forever)

We Were Liars by e. lockhart

This was a recommendation from Brooke. I blazed through this one in a few hours. It reads effortlessly and is super brilliantly written. I can’t say too much about it without giving things away, but read it. Read it. Read it.

Book boyfriend: Gat

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

This is the first in a three-part series and, again, sort of in the fantasy realm. Also again, a very engrossing and beautifully written start to the series. The second book, called The Dream Thieves (book boyfriend: Ronan), is also top-notch.

Book boyfriend: Gansey

Lola & The Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins (a re-read)

It’s set in San Francisco, so I had no choice but to like it. The reasons for loving this book were A) Cricket Bell (book boyfriend) and B) Lola’s dads, whom Stephanie Perkins wrote as beautifully well-rounded people rather than a rubber-band ball of stereotypes.

There were some fluffy romance novels mixed in there, too, but these have been the ones to stick with me recently.

And now I’m left yearning for more words to gobble.

So! Recommendations for what to read next (I promise I read books that aren’t young adult, too)? Have you read any of these books and want to discuss? My part of the discussion will probably involves ALL CAPS. Let’s talk in the comments!

A little ‘Chick on Chick’ action – Part 3

Ready for the third installment of Chick-on-Chick interviews? Join us as we ask questions and sing “Getting To Know You” – but not at the same time. Missed the first two interviews? Just click here and here to get to know Meri and Bec!

Jess on Brooke

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Brooke and I met a few years ago and hit it off right away. We have a ton in common: we are mega girly-girls, huge readers, love to shop, and our adorable boys were born within weeks of each other. Needless to say, it’s probably a good thing that we are on separate coasts or I’d be at her house every day wanting to hang out! She is sweet, funny, has a killer smile and is basically just all-around fabulous.

Want to get to know her better? Of course you do. Read on!

Jess: You’ve got some of the cutest kids in the world. What’s your favorite thing to do with them?

Brooke: Awww, thanks! I think they’re pretty cool too. I love to do art projects with them. We have an art cart that is loaded with paints, pencils, crayons, markers, oil pastels-you name it, we’ve got it. They love to draw and paint, and it’s neat to see what they create when they have free art time. Of course, I organize projects for them too. A friend and I co-hosted “Messy Art Mondays” this summer, and we had a lot of fun with that. 

Jess: And what’s your favorite thing to do when you have that oh-so-coveted “me time”?

Brooke: Sleep! Go to yoga (which I get to do this weekend). Read. It’s hard with the baby- he’s still nursing frequently and sleeping on me. We do attachment parenting, so I don’t get a lot of alone time, and if I do, it isn’t a very long amount of time! That’s why hot yoga is difficult to schedule; the class itself is 80 minutes long, plus a 35 minute drive there, and then home, at which point I have to shower because I’m literally drenched. 

Jess: Ah yes, I love trying to time activities between nursing sessions and/or naps! It’s the ultimate ticking clock.

Jess: Do you have a favorite tradition from childhood? Is it something you’ve implemented with your own kiddos, or have you made new traditions as a family?

Brooke: My childhood traditions were centered around holidays. We always went to sunrise service on Easter, which we started doing two years ago (before that it was way too hard to make a 6am church service). We watched “A Christmas Story” on Christmas Eve, which we don’t do yet because the kids are a little young. My husband’s family always had an Easter egg hunt, and we do that still, with my in-laws (and we grown-ups hunt for eggs with money in them!). 

One of our new traditions is a holiday party the day before Christmas Eve; we have a group of friends and family who come over for tacos and margaritas. 

Jess: Christmas Eve would be one of the times you’d find me on your doorstep. Tacos and margaritas are two of my favorite things.

Jess: We’re both big shoppers. It’s one of the first thing we did together when we hung out, and I adore your style! What do you have your eye on these days (so I can add it to my own list)?

Brooke: I love your style! That was before we had talked a lot online, and we clicked right away, over shoes and make-up at Nordstrom. I can’t wait to go back to SF so I can see you again. 

I really want these boots: http://www.anthropologie.com/anthro/product/search/28752921.jsp?cm_vc=SEARCH_RESULTS. Anthro has some pretty shoes this season! 

Jess: You need to come back soon! My wallet would disagree, but what does it know? I love those boots, by the way. I always think of you when I go to Anthro.

Jess: You can only watch one movie for the rest of your life. What is it?

Brooke: Oh geez, that’s a tough question. Probably Sleepless in Seattle or maybe Clueless or Mean Girls. Those are movies I’ve watched over and over again and they never get old. 

Jess: Tell me about your best date ever.

Brooke: Ever?! Hmmm. You know, I dated a very romantic boy in high school who took me for a picnic on the beach. He came up with the idea all on his own, and that was the first time I felt really wooed, you know? Of course, my first date with Josh would have to be labeled the “best ever” since he became my husband and my best friend and the love of my life. We met to hear some live music at a local bar- ten years ago this month, actually. 

Jess: Awww. You two are adorable. A beach picnic in high school is pretty romantic, too, especially for high school!

Jess: When it comes to fitness, what’s something you’ve achieved that you’re really proud of?

Brooke: My PR half, definitely. (1:57:52) I hope I have a faster time in me but if not, I know I worked really hard to achieve that time. 

Jess: You are a rock star, B!

Jess: This interview wouldn’t be complete without a book-related question. It’s how most of us Scoot chicks met, after all! So, tell me: what’s a book you could read over and over again?

Brooke: Any of the Pigeon books by Mo Willems, haha. I do read those over and over already. Probably Pride and Prejudice. I adore Mr. Darcy!

There you have it, the fabulosity that is Chick Brooke! Did I miss any questions? Anything you want to know for future Chick interviews? If so, let us know in the comments!

A little ‘Chick on Chick’ action- Part 2

We told you last week that we’d be conducting Chick-on-Chick interviews on Fridays, so that you could get to know us better. Here’s our second installment!

Brooke on Bec

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Bec and I have known each other for about two years and while we haven’t met in person- YET- we’ve read books together (she was “with” me when I finished The Fault in Our Stars and had to hide in the pantry for a cry), planned Thanksgiving desserts together and encouraged one another in reaching our fitness goals. I think she’s pretty rad, and I know you will too.

Brooke: I know you enjoy shaking it at a good zumba class. Do you prefer group fitness or solo exercise?

Bec: Definitely not solo! I don’t need a big group, although for Zumba, a large enthusiastic group makes for an awesome class. But I don’t like to be alone, especially when I’m running. It allows me to be in my own head too much. I find it much more enjoyable with someone to chat with (especially my running partner, Sara) and the time/miles fly by so much faster. 

Brooke: I’m going through a phase where I haaaaate to run alone. And my running partner is named Sara too.

Brooke: We’ve chatted a lot about our mutual love of baking- especially pies! What is your best pie? And what’s your favorite to eat?

Bec: I love that you are my baking buddy! Can we open a bake shop? Call it B&B? Pie is a personal favorite of mine. To make, I’m a traditionalist. Apple. It tastes like fall, and I love that whether you tweak it with funky ingredients (ginger, cranberries, etc) or go strictly traditional, it always turns out wonderfully. To eat, definitely my great aunt’s Walnut Pie. Think Pecan, but darker and richer in the filling. It’s absolutely sinful. Every year, that and a big cup of coffee are my day-after-Thanksgiving breakfast. 

Brooke: I would like to try Walnut Pie. We’d definitely serve it at B&B!

Brooke: You and I read books in a similar fashion, in that we like to be completely consumed by them or it almost isn’t worth it. What makes a book good, in that can’t-do-anything-until-I-finish-this way, in your view?

Bec:
This is such a hard question, seriously. Sometimes, I read a book and it’s fine and good and whatever. And then I read a book and it’s MAGIC and I’m ruined for other books for a while. What makes that magic? I wish I knew. Because then I’d only read books that have it. Or write my own. But, what it comes down to, is I want a book that will make me – make me cry, make me laugh, make me think, make me feel. Those things can’t be optional for me to consider a book great. I don’t want to feel like I might cry. I want to cry because I can’t stop myself. I want the characters to feel like my friends, my family. And I want to be left wanting more, without there actually being more coming. Does any of that make sense? Probably not, but I think you know what I mean. Also, kissing. Lots of kissing. 

Brooke: I know exactly what you mean. It’s weird because you crave that experience with every book and it doesn’t always happen. Which doesn’t mean you wouldn’t enjoy it anyway, but for me, it’s hard to keep reading. And kissing! I know I’ve sent you texts complaining about the lack of kissing in a book, haha. It’s a dealbreaker for me!

Brooke: What did you do for your birthday last year?

Bec: We usually keep my birthday pretty low key. It’s three weeks before Christmas so everyone is always super busy. This past year, I took the day off, went and had a facial, bummed around the house for a while, went and grabbed lunch and an AMAZING coconut cupcake with my mom and then had dinner with my family. It was pretty awesome. 

Brooke:
That sounds like a perfect day.

Brooke: You’re an accessories girl, like me. Tell me about your current handbag.

Bec: OH. It’s so pretty. It’s the Coach that I hardly ever use, because the colors don’t go with that much. But I switched to it a few weeks ago and I don’t want to switch back because I’m loving the pink! My standby is my pewter Kate Spade. I love bags. And shoes. This is just one of the many reasons we’re friends. 

Brooke:
You’re an awesome mom to an elementary age kid and a teenager. How do you find time for yourself between their activities? (Help me, please!)

Bec: It ain’t easy, I can tell you that much. I thought once they were older, time would be easier to come by, but with my teenage daughter being a three season high school athlete who also takes modeling classes and my son’s swimming lessons and homework and doctors and dentist and time with friends, I’m in my car a lot. What helps? I’ve got an amazing husband who helps me a lot. If they’ve both got an activity, we can split the difference, and I’ve come to love the hour we spend sitting together on a soccer field watching a game together. When I want truly ‘alone’ time, I usually take a weekday off from work and just chill or spend it with my bffl. 

Brooke: I’m tired just hearing about it. Yay for amazing husbands and best friends!

Brooke: What’s your favorite thing to do on a Friday night?

Bec: Takeout and movie night. It’s almost every Friday and it’s the perfect way to end a week. 

Brooke: If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be? (yes, I stole your question to Meri. It’s a good one!)

Bec: It’s funny, when Meri said ice cream, I was like YES. But then I thought about it some more, and while I love ice cream, that’s not my pick. Cheese. Definitely cheese. 

Brooke:
I totally thought you would say cheese! My husband would pick cheese too.

Brooke: Who is your book boyfriend and why?

Bec: B, these book questions are HARD. I have a few. I read a lot of Young Adult fiction (although I’ve branched out into contemporary adult fiction some recently). There are a lot of swoony boys in YA. Four (Divergent trilogy) because he’s smart and strong and a badass who is also sensitive. Alex (Delirium trilogy) because he’s the kind of boy you fall in love with, even when love is forbidden. Adam Wilde (If I Stay/Where She Went) because “Please Mia, don’t make me write a song.” Adam (Shatter Me), Cricket (Lola and the Boy Next Door). And at the moment, I’m falling hard in love with Jase in My Life Next Door (which you should totally read with me, B!)

Brooke: Can Gayle Forman write an amazing guy, or what? And you know I love Four. And I’ve read My Life Next Door! Those characters are great.

See? I told you she was cool. Next week, we’ll have another interview. In the meantime, if you have any questions for Bec, or any of us, please let us know in the comments. We’re a chatty bunch.

Chick Chat: Whatcha Reading?

We’ve mentioned before that we chicks love reading. In fact, most of our friendships were formed while chatting about our favorite writers, words, phrases and fictional characters. (And in a plot twist, we started a fitness blog. Crazy, huh?)

We share books with each other all the time, and today, we’re sharing some of our favorites with you.
BEC

What was the last book you read?

I haven’t had much time to read lately, but I did manage to finish Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan. It was good, although I think part of the reason I enjoyed it so much is that it takes place in my local area so I knew a lot of the locations in the book.

Name one book that you wish all of your friends would read.

Such a Pretty Fat by Jen Lancaster. Really, anything by Jen Lancaster, but this one is my favorite. The author is frank, and funny, and basically my spirit animal.

Top books on your summer reading list?

Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham and From Notting Hill with Love… Actually by Ali McNamara. Both of these fall into my chick lit wheelhouse, and I think they’ll be fab while lounging by the pool. After an energetic swim, bien sur.

The Nonrunner’s Marathon Guide for Women: Get Off Your Butt and On with Your Training by Dawn Dais. This was recommended to me for the laughs, and considering that I’m supposed to be training for my first half, I’m hoping it will have good tips. I may follow this up with Triathalon for the Every Woman: You Can Be a Triathlete. Yes. You. by Meredith Atwood, Bree Wee and Chrissie Wellington because I really want to do a triathalon within the next few years. Stop laughing.

The Last Summer of You and Me by Ann Brashares. I’ve been reading this for over a year. It pick it up, read some, put it down, forget all about it, find it under a pile of laundry, read some more. I really like it, so I’m not exactly sure why I’m not motivated to keep reading, but I am bound and determined to finish it this summer. Which I said last summer. So there’s that.

CAM

What was the last book you read?

I’m currently reading Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert, the 2nd book in the Dune series. It’s the kind of book you need to sit down for a week and read all the way through, ignoring every other obligation. Which is why I’m still reading it. I just haven’t had one of those weeks yet!

Name one book that you wish all of your friends would read.

The Four Agreements. This book changed my life. I listen to parts of it every day, especially the part about not taking things personally. (I’m a huge fan of audio books.)


Top books on your summer reading list?

The Gunslinger by Stephen King
Watchmen Graphic Novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
Siege and Storm by Leigh Barduga

And so many more!!! You can check out my whole freaking list on Goodreads!

Cam's nightstand, covered in books.

Cam’s nightstand, covered in books.


JESS


What was the last book you read?

Lovely, Dark and Deep by Amy McNamara. It’s a young adult novel and, as the title indicates, quite lovely. Mister Jess always says, “do you think it’s weird that you read the same books as 12-year-old girls?”

No. No, I don’t.


Name one book that you wish all of your friends would read.

In theory I would say The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. However, I don’t think I have a friend who hasn’t read it and loved it and cried over it. It is one of my favorite books of all time and worthy of everyone’s time.

Top books on your summer reading list?

I just started NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children, which so far is a pretty fascinating read about child development and how modern strategies for nurturing kids might not be so nurturing after all.

I also have The Book Thief and Me Talk Pretty One Day on my list, but I’ll probably end up reading a number of fluffy YA books!

Jess loves to read in this big, cozy chair.

Jess loves to read in this big, cozy chair.

MER

What was the last book you read?

The last book I read in its entirety was Let The Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger. I started reading Deathless (Catherynne M. Valente) at the recommendation of a friend and the writing was incredibly rich and vivid. But at the time I began reading, I couldn’t totally immerse myself so I plan to pick it up again when I have a few days to throw myself into it. When I read a good book, I become totally engaged, where things like laundry and dishes sort of fall to the wayside. So I need a situation where that’s ideal. (Basically, I need a mom. Or at least for my kids to be at camp.)


Name one book that you wish all of your friends would read.

Just one? Within the past couple of months I read Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, which I thought was pretty brilliant. The characters weren’t characters, they were people; as a reader, I really appreciate when authors are able to give their characters so much dimension that I’m worried about their well being after the book is over and I’m out of their world.

I tend to lean toward reading Young Adult books. Not necessarily because that was the best time in my life; it was not. But I suppose it’s when the feelings run rampant and characters are more likely to do things that they wouldn’t as adults. There’s such a fine line between believability and taking it a step too far so when an author is able to find that very delicate balance on the line, I notice and respect it.

Top books on your summer reading list?

Currently I’m reading The History of Love by Nicole Krauss (thanks to Kyle for that rec!). I’m hoping to return to Deathless. And just today, we had to stop at Barnes and Noble for a potty break for Littleberry. Since we were there, I bought Dad Is Fat by Jim Gaffigan.

No e-reader for Mer! (Just kidding, she has one of those too.)

No e-reader for Mer! (Just kidding, she has one of those too.)

VIC

What was the last book you read?

Dead Ever After, the final book in the Sookie Stackhouse series, by Charlaine Harris
(I just mailed a pic of this – why? Because I borrowed it from the library a few weeks back and was the FIRST person to borrow/read that copy) that’s never happened to me before… was really excited about it. Book was meh.

Name one book that you wish all of your friends would read.

The Fault in our Stars by John Green (Brooke loaned this to me! Thanks B!)

Top books on your summer reading list?

Inferno by Dan Brown
Revenge Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger

I just started reading J.K. Rowling’s latest, The Casual Vacancy. So far so good. I borrowed this one from the library too because I love not having to buy new books to enjoy them!

Vic was the first reader to borrow this book from her local library.

Vic was the first reader to borrow this book from her local library.

BROOKE

What was the last book you read?

Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan, which made me laugh so hard. I kept taking screen shots of passages to text to my husband until I finally told him he just had to read the entire thing.

Name one book that you wish all of your friends would read.

This is a tough question because I always want my friends to read everything I read. It’s one of the reasons I still buy actual books; so I can loan them. Wonder by R.J. Palacio is a beautiful book that made me want to hug all of the characters by the end. And I’m always bugging people to read the Divergent series because FOUR. The final book will be out this year and the movie is coming and FOUR.

Top books on your summer reading list?

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak and David Sedaris’s new one; Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls. I also picked up the first Harry Potter on audio book so maybe I’ll finally get around to those. (I know. I knowwwwww. We can still be friends, right?)

Some of Brooke's summer reading.

Some of Brooke’s summer reading.


What’s your favorite book? Tell us what’s on your summer reading list! Or you know, flail over Four with Brooke. (or lecture her about reading Harry Potter)