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November 4, 2022

Dear Friday!

You are here, and I am not even the slightest bit mad about it. I am not one to wish a week away or time in general, but this week was a DOOZY! I traveled for a wedding this past glorious weekend. Even though I felt refreshed from the alone time spent with my hubby away from the kids, I started the week with a significant sleep deficit. Throw in a sick kiddo home ALL week and a few abandoned (and much-needed) routines, and my week was a bit off-centered. Instead of focusing on the things that frazzled me, I am cherishing the beautiful things that kept me grounded and put a smile on my face (AKA…spending more time with my youngest). And in case it slipped your mind, FALL BACK this weekend and set the clocks back one hour. The plus side to daylight savings is that we gain one magnificent hour of much-needed sleep. This dark and cold season is the perfect excuse to cuddle up by the fire, sip something warm, and get lost in a cozy tale.

Cheers, Friday!




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It’s officially November and a new month equals a new #DEARBASICBUDDYREADS selection. For Non-fiction November, Katie and I chose Stolen by Elizabeth Gilpin. This memoir sounds absolutely harrowing, and I can’t wait to dive in. Some early feedback from readers in our group is that the audio version (read by the author) is very good. At this point, I am leaning toward listening, but will keep you posted when I get started. Our private group chat is held over on Instagram, so be sure to DM me at @dearmrhemingway over there to join us. If you want to watch Katie and I reveal this month’s pick LIVE, CLICK HERE! Be sure to check out the synopsis and READ WITH US!


“At fifteen, Elizabeth Gilpin was an honor student, a state-ranked swimmer and a rising soccer star, but behind closed doors her undiagnosed depression was wreaking havoc on her life. Growing angrier by the day, she began skipping practices and drinking to excess. At a loss, her parents turned to an educational consultant who suggested Elizabeth be enrolled in a behavioral modification program. That recommendation would change her life forever.⁣
The nightmare began when she was abducted from her bed in the middle of the night by hired professionals and dropped off deep in the woods of Appalachia. Living with no real shelter was only the beginning of her ordeal: she was strip-searched, force-fed, her name was changed to a number and every moment was a test of physical survival.⁣
After three brutal months, Elizabeth was transferred to a boarding school in Southern Virginia that in reality functioned more like a prison. Its curriculum revolved around a perverse form of group therapy where students were psychologically abused and humiliated. Finally, at seventeen, Elizabeth convinced them she was rehabilitated enough to “graduate” and was released.⁣
In this eye-opening and unflinching book, Elizabeth recalls the horrors she endured, the friends she lost to suicide and addiction, and–years later–how she was finally able to pick up the pieces of her life and reclaim her identity.”



I am not typically one to “drink the cool aid,” but I decided to take a sip of Taylor Swift’s latest album, and I am OBSESSED! I’ve had MIDNIGHTS playing in the background since it came out, and I LOVE IT. It’s fun, moody, has a bit of an edge, and works for me 100%. MAROON and YOU’RE ON YOUR OWN, KID, have been my favorites, but I adore all the songs. The best news is that she is going on tour again, and I hope to see her because she makes me feel oh so YOUNG again, and that’s a good thing!


I am in between shows, so my hubby and I are re-watching VEEP…a political comedy starring Julia Louise-Dreyfus. This is pee-in-your-pants-my-stomach-hurts-from-laughing kind of funny, and it’s perfect for unwinding at the end of the day. It is WILDLY inappropriate, so consider yourself forwarned. Click here to check it out.


My answer to that question is NOT MUCH! My enthusiasm for cooking this week was lower than low. I kept it simple by making a few go-to meals such as pot roast and burritos and added in a pizza night to keep things exciting. Tonight my plan is for the five of us to go out for dinner and catch up as a family—all in one place with no phones or places to escape. Now, I may not have executed an epic weeknight meal plan this week, but I did make fresh bread, and that is literally the GREATEST. Not only was it a cinch to make, but it made my house smell homey and like someone baked in it for hours. The best part of this bread is that it is delicious and only has FIVE INGREDIENTS! Because of this, I would advise using the beer you love and high-quality honey for this recipe. It will make a difference. Also, be sure to grease your pan EXTRA EXTRA. I did not, and the bread was hard to get out. I think I will use parchment paper next time. HERE IS THE RECIPE! Happy Baking!


Still no songs…sorry. As I mentioned earlier, this week didn’t “flow” well for me. Hiding away and reading is my number one way to re-center myself. But a close second is writing and creating. The past few weeks, I’ve spent some time with Before You Knew My Name by Jacqueline Bublitz and The Parent Compass by Cynthia Clumeck Muchnick, MA & Jenn Curtis, MSW. I have always been very selective about what books I write about for my blog. Not only do I put my heart and soul into what I am writing, but also A LOT of time. These two books still linger in my mind and could not be any more different. Be sure to click the links above and read what I said.


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YUP!!!!!! This is happening! For the love of GOD, I CAN NOT believe that I have entered this new-to-me arena of parenting. I just picked up this book from various parenting sites after reading about how wonderful it is. This is Fiske’s 39th Edition, so it’s safe to say it’s a good one. If you are beginning this process with your kiddo or will be in the next year or so, keep this book in mind. It has a 2-3 page write-up on almost every college in the United States. The information provided is the perfect combination of stats (acceptance rate, cost, financial aid, etc.), the primary focus of studies, student life, campus offerings, and more. I find this book easy to navigate, with digestible information that does not overwhelm me. It is also great for your college-bound kid to poke through. Because it is one “chunky monster,” it can be used as a doorstop once your teen gets into college!


Have you noticed an increase in junk mail lately? I am baffled at the waste whenever I grab the mail from our box. Junky advertisements, random papers, and piles of catalogs fill my poor mailbox to its breaking point. This, of course, does not include the essential pieces of mail, such as bills and cards—things I want to be able to find. As I thumbed through last night’s pile of crap, a few noteworthy catalogs caught my eye. Even though I’ve seen these stores and ordered from them occasionally, I usually don’t give them a second glance before sending them to the recycling bin. However, Halloween is officially behind us (PRAISE BE), and I am dreaming of the holiday season. So when I spied candy canes, ornaments, and whimsical garland on a glossy page out of the corner of my eye, my heart skipped a beat. I quickly nestled those magical-looking catalogs under my arm, grabbed a cozy glass of red, and beelined over to the couch. I flipped through every one of these catalogs reading through each description as if it was a holiday romance novel while allowing the sparkling images to occupy my mind. I sat cuddled on my couch dreaming about reindeer sheets and a poinsettia quilt draped on my bed, holiday lights dangling from every window, cozy fires created from perfectly stacked wood piles next to the fireplace (meanwhile, I have an electric fireplace), and Christmas trees decked out in various themes in EVERY room of my house (even the bathroom). Do I want to buy everything in these catalogs? YES! Will I buy anything from these catalogs? NO! Here is the thing— these catalogs provided me with 20 minutes of pure joy. And yes, after I finished swooning over the plaid blankets lined with faux fur and stockings hung with care on overdressed mantels, I delivered these bad boys straight to the recycling bin—but not without thanking them first!

Smells Like Teen Spirit

The Parent Compass: Navigating Your Teen’s Wellness and Academic Journey in Today’s Competitive World
By Cynthia Clumeck Muchnick, MA & Jenn Curtis, MSW

October 27, 2022

Dear Beautiful Readers,

Today I am presenting the MOST WONDERFUL book for parents of teens.  We all know that the book What To Expect When You Are Expecting is THE go-to book for new parents.  Unfortunately, this book and the one after do not cover the teen years.  And let me tell you this…if there was ever a time for a parent manual, it is during this period. This is where today’s book comes into play.  The Parent Compass by Cynthia Clumeck Muchnick, MA & Jenn Curtis, MSW could not be more timely.  I am literally in the throws of TEENAGEHOOD, and this book is my new GPS.  

My teenage years were in the 80s & early 90s…the olden days.  We played outside until it was dark, there were no cell phones, and playing on multiple soccer teams at age 7 WAS NOT A THING.  I studied for the SATs from a ginormous yellow paperback text that resemble the phonebook (remember those?), I had weekly chores, a part-time job in high school, and a full-time job in the summer. I went to college with an electric typewriter with a mini screen, and email was just a distant rumor.

You can see where I am going with this.  THINGS ARE DIFFERENT now. I never realized how competitive the world was until I became a parent. Academics, sports, extracurricular, social-emotional behaviors, and parenting styles are all vying to make the podium these days. This is why The Parent Compass is my new best friend during my latest season of parenting.  Muchnick and Curtis help parents peel back the layers of what teens are up against. They explore fostering independence, managing screen time, and understanding social media. They take on social and emotional issues, homework, sleep, family time, getting ready to look at colleges, and more.  With over 30 combined years of working with teens, these two ladies have a decent handle on “all the things” going on with this magnificent and frequently mindboggling group of individuals. Because they have also been through it themselves with their teens, they understand why our parental brains feel like they are on fire most of the time.  They 100% get it and are here to offer guidance every step of the way.   

If you have a teen or tween, this is your new handbook.  

Make it happen!



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*Book links provided in today’s post are affiliate links. Dear Mr. Hemingway makes a tiny commission through books purchased in our storefront. Even better, 20% of purchases made through the Dear Mr. Hemingway storefront go towards an independent bookstore. Thank you so much for all of your support!

#boymom #boydad

Decoding Boys Beauty Shot

Decoding Boys: New Science Behind the Subtle Art of Raising Sons

By Cara Natterson, M.D.

(Ballantine Books)

April 20, 2020

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

As you may know, I am a mom to three boys, ages 10, 12, and 14. I grew up with all sisters, so having a group of boys living in my house is quite foreign to me. As I adapt to the newfound smells in my house, the pee on my toilet seats, and the overall surge of testosterone all around me, I am constantly trying to figure out how to raise these boys in a world much different than when I was their age. Dr. Cara Natterson’s latest book, Decoding Boys, has been an incredible resource. She is a pediatrician, speaker, consultant,  New York Times best-selling author of several health and parenting books, and most of all….a boy mom.  Dr. Natterson takes her readers on a journey into the world of boys. It turns out, there is actually a method to their madness.  Let’s get to it.

To start off, Dr. Natterson’s book tackles puberty, brain development and the importance of communicating with our sons.  It is the perfect read for parents with boys about to enter this wild world of change (8 years old and up) and for those in the throws of it as well.  To begin, Dr. Natterson explains the physiology of puberty and the timeline of maturation. She discusses how brain development is not directly related to puberty and that even though our boys may look older, their brains are many steps behind (that actually makes sense to me as I say the same thing over and over again to my boys).  On top of all the science behind a boy’s brain and development, Dr. Natterson debunks the notion of leaving a quiet boy alone. So many boys appear to be “men of few words”, especially when compared to girls. However, prompting and engaging in conversations with our boys is absolutely critical during this adolescent journey.

“Ultimately, I have come to believe that in order to parent our boys best, we must get over the notion that silence is golden.  We wouldn’t – we don’t – tolerate our girls shutting their doors and shutting us out, because she needs to know.  Well, it’s time to start raising our boys more like we raise our girls.  If there’s one thing you will realize while reading this book, I hope it’s that he needs to know, too.”

Dr. Natterson does an excellent job of presenting the physical process of growing boys.  She also makes it very clear that the consequences of parents not talking to their sons is growing more severe each day.  She then jumps right into the nitty gritty of what is to come for so many of us parents. She goes into great detail about the importance of talking to boys about sex.  She offers tips and strategies on how to get the conversations started in an organic way. Now if this makes you uncomfortable, then buckle up quickly. Dr. Natterson dives right into the pool of the 97 billion dollar online industry called PORN.  Yes, you may actually sweat reading this section. It is hard to imagine our sweet boys anywhere near this stuff. But guess what, 97% of boys will see porn before they are twenty. The birds and the bees “talk” is no longer a one and done conversation anymore. It now involves ongoing dialogue about  porn, “sexting”, consent, and so much more. They definitely did not warn us parents of this in the What to Expect While Expecting pregnancy books.  Who would have thought that all of this was a part of having a cute little baby boy?

Brain development, puberty and sex is what we expected, right (ok…not the porn part though)?  However, parenting boys in the 21st century is HARD! In addition to all of the above, we now have to be on top of our game when it comes to body image (not just a girl issue), addiction, gaming and gun violence.  Is your heart rate up yet? Mine surely is! This is why I love this book. Dr. Natterson ties in all of these current issues with what is going on with our developing boys. Her facts and trends are coupled with strategies that will put your mind at ease.   You can now exhale!!!  

Through the years, I have read and thumbed through numerous books on raising boys. None of them came close to offering me insight into this unfamiliar gender than Decoding Boys.  Dr. Natterson’s book is based on science, facts and experience.   What sets this book apart is its contemporary information and relevant game plans for navigating these uncharted waters.  Raising “masculine” boys that do not need to talk about things because it isn’t considered “manly” is a thing of the past. Raising boys who are encouraged to communicate their feelings and talk about uncomfortable issues is what is going to help keep them safe and guide them in future decision making.  It is NEVER too early to start talking to your boys. I highly recommend that all parents of boys have this book on their bookshelves. Let the convos begin!

Happy talking!

Your Biggest Fan,


P.S. “A boy’s story is the best that is ever told.”

Charles Dickens

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