Remember last year I talked about how much I missed my job? And then last fall a teeny tiny part-time job fell into my lap? It was going so well. I loved being back at the office, I refreshed my skills and reconnected with some attorneys and judges, but it's all over now.

At this point in my life, my first focus is my family and my boss knew that before she hired me. She insisted my crazy schedule wasn't going to be a problem. But so many things were coming up at home (lots of illness, Nolan in OT, winter break at school, two vacations, etc) and I hadn't been able work much during the day. I was getting everything done on time and I enjoyed doing it, but I'd been working nights and weekends for the past two months, which is not what I was looking for. I seriously considered quitting last month because I was tired of going in to the office after the kids went to bed.

In December, with the addition of some new contracts, the office hired a new full-time receptionist so the paralegal who had been answering phones all day could actually get some work done. The newby is so nice and a hard worker, but doesn't have a background in law, so she was bored during the day. My boss was giving her things to do to keep her busy, since I'm not around during office hours. She was doing more and more and because it doesn't make sense for my boss to pay two assistants, I got the boot.

My boss said she felt horrible and didn't have one single complaint about my work. She told me that everything she ever needed was always right in front of her and I organized the messes her last assistant left. The problem is, I'm just not there. I can't fax things over to other attorneys, run up to the Clerk's office to file pleadings, or put together packets for the investigator on the spot. I totally get it and sort of wondered when she'd realize she needed someone with a more consistent schedule. I also wasn't sure what I was going to do when summer rolled around and couldn't work during the day for fourteen weeks. I'm not about to pay for day camp with the wages from my part-time job. That's just ridiculous. 

It's sort of a bummer, but I can't say I'm actually sad about it, and because I was only working about eight hours a week it doesn't have any impact on us financially. My boss told me to call her as soon as I was ready to reenter the work force. As much as I like her, it was a step back in my career, so I don't know if that's something I'll do, but it's nice to know I have that option and an up-to-date reference. It was a good six months, but I started working the week after school started, so I'm excited to have a few minutes to myself when Milo is in preschool!


NetGalley For Kids?

Why haven't I ever thought about requesting children's books from NetGalley before?! While loading up our Kindle, Nook, and iPods for vacation last week, I downloaded a bunch of books from the library then checked in on my NetGalley shelf to grab something for myself. Right on the front page of the site I noticed a children's book category and started requesting like crazy. After I explained what an ARC is to my kids, Nolan (age 7) said it was so cool to test out books before the rest of the world gets to read them. I agree, kid. I agree. Milo (age 4) was just happy to listen to tons of new stories. We ended up reading all of them before we even left! None of us can resist new books. Here are our reviews. My kids love a star rating system (seriously, they rate everything from my meals to my driving), so I included theirs too.

Bears Make the Best Reading Buddies by Carmen Oliver, Jean Claude Super cute, calm story about how bears make good reading partners all while expressing how fun and important it is to read. I loved the illustrations, but wish the ending was a little longer. 

Nolan: I loved everything about it! 
Milo: Good pictures! I liked when the teacher screamed when she saw the bear at school. 

Too Many Carrots by Katy Hudson Rabbit is a carrot hoarder. When he doesn't have any more room in his burrow, his friends offer him a place to stay. The watercolor pictures were adorable and I like that it taught about different animal habitats, but the text was a little boring. 

Nolan: I didn't like that he kept bringing his carrots and destroying his friends' homes. 
Milo: I loved it. It was funny. 

Harry and Walter by Kathy Stinson, Qin Leng This is a super sweet story about Harry (age 4) and his neighbor/best friend Walter, who is 92. I love that my kids didn't notice anything odd about this pairing! My sensitive seven-year-old got a little sad in the middle, when Harry has to move, so it was nice to talk with him about how things are constantly changing. 

Nolan: I liked the happy ending. They were still friends! 
Milo: I liked that they got to stay friends. 

How to Draw Sharks by Arkady Roytman This step-by-step guide of over thirty different species of sharks was perfect for my first grader. We spent an hour drawing, then coloring all sorts of marine predators (some we had never heard of). My four-year-old had trouble following the instructions and got frustrated. 

Nolan: There were so many sharks to draw! 
Milo: It's too hard. 

The Midnight Visitors by Juliet David, Jo Parry This is the story of a cow in a barn who gets some unexpected animal and human (Mary and Joseph) visitors in the middle of a cold winter's night.  The illustrations were soft and sweet and I loved the different POV. 

Nolan: It was a Christmas story! 
Milo: The animals were so, so, so cute. 

My Stinky New School by Rebecca Elliott Toby's siblings love their schools, but he is nervous to go, thinks it smells bad, and is worried about making friends. My boys loved the silly words used to describe the school and the many adventures Toby went on with new friends. Very cute. 

Nolan: I loved the dinosaur part. 
Milo: I liked how stinky his school was. 

You Look Yummy! by Tatsuya Miyanishi An ankylosaurus hatches and thinks a nearby tyrannosaurus is his daddy. The little bugger (who thinks his name is Yummy) is so sweet, the T.rex doesn't eat him and they have a sort of father-son relationship. It had an abrupt and kind of sad ending though. 

Nolan: It was kind of odd. 
Milo: Too sad. 

Little Red by Bethan Woollvin I really loved the illustrations! They are simple, but fun in black, white and red. The story is a simple retelling of the classic Little Red Riding Hood story, but with a a focus on bravery and a twist ending that my kids didn't understand. (Little red goes into grandma's with an ax and comes out wearing a fur coat. Whoa.) 

Nolan: That was weird. 
Milo: I don't like that the grandma got eaten. 

Joseph's Big Ride by Terry Farish, Illustrated by Ken Daley Joseph came to America from a refugee camp and all he wants to do is ride a bike. He sees one in his new neighborhood that belongs to a girl at school. He gives her gifts so that he may have a chance to ride it, but she tells him that it broke. Joseph helps rebuild it and finally gets a ride. It's a sweet story that reminded my kids about how good they have it. I absolutely loved the illustrations. 

Nolan: I would give him my old bike. 
Milo: He was so nice. 

Rosie the Raven by Helga Bansch Rosie the human is hatched from an egg in a raven's nest and notices she is much different than her four bird siblings. After tackling a few obstacles, she realizes she is fine just the way she is. It was a nice story about acceptance and teaches about how families can be made up of different types. The artwork was a little gloomy, but I liked it. 

Nolan: She was different but also helpful to her family! 
Milo: That was weird. 

Animachines by Debora Pearson This books shows pictures of animals and vehicles that do the same thing: squirt, dive, roar, carry, etc. It's definitely a book for preschoolers, as there is only one word per page, but the illustrations are so cute, my four-year-old spent a lot of time with it. 

Nolan: Kinda boring. 
Milo: I love trucks and animals!  

Don't Touch This Book! by Bill Cotter My kids love any book that they can interact with and we all thought this one was colorful and fun! It is a sequel to Don't Push the Button (which we've never read), and also reminded us of Press Here. It was a hit in our house! 

Nolan: That was a magical book. 
Milo: So silly! 

Snap! by Hazel Hutchins, Dusan Petricic Such a cute, colorful book about a boy whose brand new crayon breaks, but instead of getting frustrated or angry, he gets creative. The illustrations were delightful and the story was ideal for my boys, who can be perfectionists sometimes. 

Nolan: I liked everything, especially the ending. 
Milo: The end was the best part! 

Calling All Cars by Sue Fliess This is another book perfect for young preschoolers. My car-loving four-year-old was really into it. We especially loved the pictures of animals driving different types of cars and I thought the text was fun. 

Nolan: Kinda funny. 
Milo: Five stars cause I love cars! 

Two Long Ears by Jacob A. Boehne I really loved this simple counting book that showed different types of body art on different types of people. We all know how blunt kids can be when they see someone who looks different so this is an awesome tool to use when talking about tattoos, piercings and other forms of self-expression. 

Nolan: I didn't know people could stretch their ears! 
Milo: I liked the tattoos. 

Noni Speaks Up by Heather Hartt-Sussman Noni is a sweet girl who always tries to do the right thing, but when she sees a boy being bullied at school she's afraid to speak out against her friends. I loved this! My first graders is already noticing kids being picked on at school. He's very sensitive, so Noni's dilemma really resonated with him. 

Nolan: I'm so glad Noni spoke up. It was a good ending. 
Milo: I liked the whole book. 

If I Had a Gryphon by Vikki VanSickle When her new hamster is too boring, Sam dreams about all kinds of mythical creatures (unicorn, dragon, chimera, chupacabra, etc) she could try to keep as a pet. This was perfect for Nolan, who is really interested in mythology right now. 

Nolan: I loved learning about all the mythological creatures. 
Milo: I liked the end when she liked her hamster best. 

Over-Scheduled Andrew by Ashley Spires Andrew loves drama club so he starts joining other activities (debate, dance, sports) to help him with his craft. He soon finds it's all too much to keep up with. My kids are only in one to two activities at a time for fear of over-scheduling and over-working them. This book is perfect for families trying to do it all. The art is so cute too. 

Nolan: I liked learning about all his activities, but I want to make my own club. 
Milo: It's not good to be over-scheduled. I like drama club though. 

An Armadillo in New York by Julie Kraulis I love NYC and so do my kids, because of my influence, so it was fun to take a trip to the Big Apple through this book that highlights tourist attractions. The artwork is amazing, but I thought the text was sometimes redundant. 

Nolan: I like learning about different places to visit. 
Milo: I love that city! 

Stay tuned for some chapter book review from me and Nolan.


Sundance Film Festival

It's that time of year again! I always follow the coverage from Sundance because I love little independent movies, especially when they go on to make a huge splash. (Check out my past posts from 2013, 2014, 2015 to see if any movies became your favorites.) There are always a few Oscar nominees mixed in with some real duds, but that's part of the fun, right? Here are the films I can't wait to see.

As You Are (Mary Stuart Masterson, Scott Cohen, John Scurti, Amandla Stenberg, Charlie Heaton, Owen Campbell) This coming-of-age romance set in the early '90s is a retelling of a relationship between three teenagers as it traces the course of their friendship through a construction of disparate memories prompted by a police investigation.

Captain Fantastic (Ann Dowd, Steve Zahn, Kathryn Hahn, George MacKay, Frank Langella, Viggo Mortensen) In the forests of the Pacific Northwest, a father devoted to raising his six kids with a rigorous physical and intellectual education is forced to leave his paradise and enter the world, challenging his idea of what it means to be a parent.

Certain Women (Lily Gladstone, Jared Harris, James Le Gros, Michelle Williams, Kristen Stewart, Laura Dern) The lives of three women intersect in small-town America, where each is imperfectly blazing a trail. A lawyer tries to diffuse a hostage situation and calm her disgruntled client, a married couple breaks ground on a new home but exposes marital fissures, and a ranch hand forms an attachment to a young lawyer.

Christine (J. Smith-Cameron, Tracy Letts, Maria Dizzia, Michael C. Hall, Rebecca Hall) Based on the true story of Christine Chubbuck, the ambitious but depressed Florida newscaster who infamously shot herself on live television in 1974.

*Complete Unknown (Michael Chernus, Danny Glover, Kathy Bates, Michael Shannon, Rachel Weisz) As a man contemplates moving to a new state with his wife for her graduate program, an old flame - a woman who often changes identities - reenters his life at a birthday dinner party.

Dark Night (Documentary) The story of the 2012 mass shooting in an Aurora, Colorado unfolds over the course of a lazy summer day, as it traces the events leading up to the events in the movie theater. It's told through fragmented moments from the lives of several people, whose fates are tragically intertwined.

*Equity (Alysia Reiner, Sarah Megan Thomas, James Purefoy, Anna Gunn) This first female-driven Wall Street film follows a senior investment banker who is threatened by a financial scandal and must untangle a web of corruption.

First Girl I Loved (Pamela Adlon, Tim Heidecker, Jennifer Prediger, Mateo Arias, Brianna Hildebrand, Dylan Gelula) Seventeen-year-old Anne just fell in love with Sasha, the most popular girl at her LA public high school. But when Anne tells her best friend Clifton - who has always harbored a secret crush - he does his best to get in the way.

Goat (Austin Lyon, Danny Flaherty, Virginia Gardner, Ben Schnetzer, Nick Jonas) Reeling from a terrifying assault, a 19 year-old boy enrolls into college with his brother and pledges the same fraternity. What happens there, in the name of "brotherhood" tests the boy and his loyalty to his brother in brutal ways.

Holy Hell (Documentary) After graduating from college, filmmaker Will Allen joined a cult in the heart of West Hollywood, and spent the next 20 years documenting his life there as a kind of annual offering to the cult’s central leader. After escaping, he turned footage and interviews with ex-members into this documentary.

Hunt for Wilderpeople (Oscar Kightley, Rachel House, Rima Te Wiata, Sam Neill, Julian Dennison) A national manhunt is ordered for a rebellious kid and his foster uncle who go missing in the wild New Zealand bush.

Indignation (Ben Rosenfield, Danny Burstein, Linda Emond, Tracy Letts, Sarah Gadon, Logan Lerman) In 1951, Marcus, a working-class Jewish student from New Jersey, attends a small Ohio college, where he struggles with anti-Semitism, sexual repression, and the ongoing Korean War. Based on Philip Roth's 2008 novel of the same name.

Jacqueline (Argentine) (Enrique Dura, Sarah Willis, Martin Anderson, James Benson, Wyatt Cenac, Camille Rutherford) In this fake documentary, the filmmaker goes deep into a possible political conspiracy. Jacqueline, the woman who convinces the filmmaker of her theories, draws him (and some interns) to a retreat in Argentina.

*Jim: The James Foley Story (Documentary) The beheading of American photojournalist James Foley was, for many, the first time ISIS came into sharp focus as a major new terrorist threat. Director Brian Oakes — a longtime friend of Foley and his family — tells the story of why Foley went to Syria, what it was like for him as a hostage, and how his family dealt with his kidnapping.

Joshy (Jenny Slate, Brett Gelman, Nick Kroll, Alex Ross Perry, Adam Pally, Thomas Middleditch) After his broken engagement, Josh treats what would have been his bachelor party as an opportunity to reconnect with his friends.

Kate Plays Christine (Documentary) In 1974, television host Christine Chubbuck committed suicide on air at a Sarasota, Florida, news station. Though it was the inspiration for the 1976 Best Picture nominee Network, the story and facts remain mostly unknown. Now in the present, actress Kate Lyn Sheil is cast in a “stylized cheap ‘70s soap opera” version of Christine’s story, and to prepare for the role, Kate travels to Sarasota to investigate the tragedy.

Little Men (Michael Barbieri, Theo Taplitz, Paulina Garcia, Jennifer Ehle, Greg Kinnear) Taking place in gentrified Brooklyn, two middle school kids, one from old Brooklyn, the other from new, yuppie Brooklyn, become friends — until a rent dispute between their parents threatens their friendship.

Lo and Behold Reveries of the Connected World (Documentary) From the brilliant mind of Werner Herzog comes his newest vehicle for exploration, a playful yet chilling examination of our rapidly interconnecting online lives.

Maggie's Plan (Greta Gerwig, Ethan Hawke, Julianne Moore, Bill Hader, Maya Rudolph, Travis Fimmel) Maggie's plan to have a baby on her own is derailed when she falls in love with John, a married man, destroying his volatile marriage to the brilliant Georgette.

*Manchester by the Sea (Kyle Chandler, Lucas Hedges, Michelle Williams, Casey Affleck) Lee, a brooding loner handyman, is suddenly named guardian to his late brother's 16-year-old son. Going back to his hometown, Lee is forced to deal with an unspeakable tragedy from his past.

*Michael Jackson's Journey From Motown to Off the Wall (Documentary) Director Spike Lee assembles a wealth of archival footage, interviews with contemporary talents and family members, and Michael’s own words and image to create this insightful chronicle of the star’s early rise to fame.

*Morris from America (Levin Henning, Jakub Gierszał, Lina Keller, Carla Juri, Craig Robinson, Markees Christmas) The coming-of-age misadventures of a 13-year-old black American who has to move to Heidleberg, Germany with his father, where he falls in love with a local girl.

Newtown (Documentary) In Kim A. Snyder’s searing new film, we are given exclusive access into the homes of those who lost loved ones during the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. They speak candidly about their grief, anger, and disbelief over what occurred and how nothing has changed in regards to our legal response to gun violence.

*Nothing Left Unsaid: Gloria Vanderbilt & Anderson Cooper (Documentary) Gloria Vanderbilt — heiress, artist, designer, and socialite — sits down for an interview with her son Anderson Cooper, where they discuss privilege, love, loss and survival.

*O.J. Made In America (Documentary) It's the story of one of the most polarizing people in American history, O.J. Simpson. The filmmakers explore how Simpson's rise and fall was centered around two of America's greatest fixations — race and celebrity.

Operation Avalanche (Ray James, Josh Boles, Owen Williams, Matt Johnson) In 1967, four undercover CIA agents were sent to NASA posing as a documentary film crew, looking for a Soviet mole. What they discovered led to one of the biggest conspiracies in American history.

Other People (June Squibb, Zach Woods, Maude Apatow, Bradley Whitford, Molly Shannon, Jesse Plemons) A struggling comedy writer, fresh off a breakup and in the midst of the worst year of his life, returns home to Sacramento to care for his dying mother.

*Tallulah (Uzo Aduba, Evan Jonigkeit, Tammy Blanchard, Allison Janney, Ellen Page) Desperate to be rid of her toddler, a dissatisfied Beverly Hills housewife hires a stranger to babysit and ends up getting much more than she bargained for.

The Bad Kids (Documentary) On a remote patch of the Mojave Desert sits a high school where educators believe empathy, life skills, and the constancy of a caring adult are the differences that will give at-risk students command of their fates.

*The Birth of a Nation (Gabrielle Union, Penelope Ann Miller, Jackie Earle Haley, Aja Naomi King, Armie Hammer, Nate Parker) Nat Turner, a former slave in America, leads a liberation movement in 1831 to free African-Americans in Virgina that results in a violent retaliation from whites.

The Eyes of My Mother (Diana Agostini, Clara Wong, Flora Diaz, Paul Nazak, Will Brill, Kika Magalhães) A former surgeon teaches her daughter, Francisca, about human bodies and anatomy — but then something bad and violent happens and Francisca has only her father left alive.

The Free World (Waleed Zuaiter, Sung Kang, Octavia Spencer, Elisabeth Moss, Boyd Holbrook) After spending a long time in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, Mo tries to assimilate back into life after release. He works with abused animals, meets Doris and ends up in a dilemma that might cost him his liberty.

*The Fundamentals of Caring (Frederick Weller, Megan Ferguson, Jennifer Ehle, Selena Gomez, Craig Roberts, Paul Rudd) Ben is a paid caregiver to Trevor, an 18-year-old with muscular dystrophy. The two go on a road trip, during which they grow as people and as friends and encounter a bunch of strangers along the way.

The Hollars (Charlie Day, Sharlto Copley, Richard Jenkins, Margo Martindale, Anna Kendrick, John Krasinski) John Hollar takes his pregnant girlfriend to his small hometown after learning his mother is about to undergo surgery for a brain tumor.

The Intervention (Ben Schwartz, Natasha Lyonne, Clea DuVall, Alia Shawkat, Cobie Smulders, Melanie Lynskey) A weekend getaway for four couples takes a sharp turn when one of the couples discovers the entire trip was orchestrated to host an intervention on their marriage.

Under the Gun (Documentary) A look at the aftermath of the Sandy Hook massacre where twenty children were murdered at school by a crazed gunman, but lead to no changes in American gun laws.

*Weiner (Documentary) With unprecedented access to Anthony Weiner, his family, and his campaign team as they mount his New York City mayoral campaign, the film documents the impending political meltdown of epic proportions.

Wiener-Dog (Zosia Mamet, Julie Delpy, Ellen Burstyn, Danny DeVito, Kieran Culkin, Greta Gerwig) This film revolves around the life of a dachshund as it travels around the country, spreading comfort and joy and changing people's lives for the better.

*Yoga Hosers (Tyler Posey, Austin Butler, Justin Long, Johnny Depp, Harley Quinn Smith, Lily-Rose Depp) From writer/director Kevin Smith, two teenage yoga enthusiasts team up with a legendary man-hunter to battle with an ancient evil presence that is threatening their major party plans.

Does anything look good to you?

*Picked up by a distributor