Posted in Life, Movies

Movie Review: Beauty and the Beast

A big shout out to my husband, who dutifully went to see this with me – without complaint – even though this is so not his thing!

I so desperately wanted to love this movie.

I tried really, really hard.

To embrace Hermione as Belle.

To feel the true beauty of the Beast despite his overly CGI-d beastliness.

But in the end, it left me …  meh.

There is a fine line between remaking a movie in a new a fresh way while still holding on to what made the original so amazing and attempting to copy the original unsuccessfully. This movie does not toe that line at all.

The tipping point – Ewan McGregor’s horribly failed attempt at a French accent.

Singing in a French accent no less. Blech.

I do love that they stuck to the original story but did not appreciate some of the additions – let’s not try to remove fantasy from a fairy tale. Puh-lease.

I love that they included all the songs from the original and they did a spectacular job here.

I sang. I tapped. If I were inclined, I might even have stood up and got my jam on.

The new songs were full of melancholy and angst and felt a lot like something from Les Mis.

I found myself singing the songs over and over for the next week, inspiring a great desire to watch the original again.

And again.

And again.

The story of Beauty and the Beast has a special place for me – I’ve even read the original in French.

But this movie just didn’t do it. The original is just better.

You just can’t improve upon perfection.

Posted in Automattic, Life

Being A Happiness Engineer

This post is part of a series describing what Happiness Engineers at Automattic do each day. Read more like it by checking #a8cday on and Twitter.

I am extremely fortunate to be a newly minted Happiness Engineer at Automattic, the parent company of, Jeptack, WooCommerce and a potpourri of other fantastic products. As part of my decision process to apply, I stalked thoroughly reviewed all of the posts in this tag stream, so it’s time to pay it forward and share a day in my life now…

Wednesday, February 22, 2017 

6:15AM – The “alarm” (loving the new iPhone Bedtime feature as it doesn’t feel so much like an alarm). I get up, throw on some comfy clothes, pull up my hair/throw on a hat/actually style it if I’m feeling fancy, and make the 20-second commute to my desk. (This amount of time is only in the morning; I can make it much quicker when I’m fully alert.)

I’m testing out a slightly earlier waking time, but not being a morning person, we’ll see how it goes. I like the quiet before the boys get up and it’s nice to start my day with a little work-time.

But I’m still not a morning person.

6:30AM – I check Slack for all of the fun things that all of our “overnight” team accomplished. Because we’re distributed, these aren’t really people working overnight, rather the EU team members who start their day while I’m still catching my zzzzzs. After Slack, I head to my work email to catch up on all of the P2s (our internal blogs and the primary means by which we communicate) that I follow.

7:00ishAM: Break to say good morning to the middle-schooler (who still says good morning and gives me a hug goodbye – yay for the little things 🙂 ). Also time for breakfast.

7:30AM: Wake the not-so-littles, make their breakfast and assist with whatever they need in the way of lunch-making help. It’s amazing how calm and peaceful that seems when it’s in that tidy sentence.

!@##$%$^^&! is more like it.

Wednesdays are usually coffee shop days. It’s my day to take the kids to school, so I like to take advantage of already being out and get some time out around other humans. I have a favorite local coffee shop that has great wifi, a fabulous owner, and delicious – and bottomless (bonus!) – coffee.

But this particular Wednesday, we’ve got this new little fella going on:

Our newest arrival … Flash. (Like the comic – for those in the viewing audience who don’t have a gaggle of boys to keep you abreast of all the cool comic book characters.)

I’m staying in today so that he doesn’t have to be alone for too long yet.

8:45AM: I’ve found that it takes me a bit to find my rhythm so I like to start the day looking through others replies or digging into something that confused me or in which I’m still not super confident. Because I’m still new this is a very deep bucket from which to draw!

9:30AM: Time to crank up the tunes and dig in to some tickets! I’m still new to troubleshooting VaultPress (our backups and security solution – soon to be part of Jetpack), so I start my day there.

10:00AM: The puppy wakes and needs to burn some serious energy. Short break to take him out and to enjoy the sunshine. It’s beautifully warm (although dismal to those who would prefer a traditional, frigid winter) so I take some time to really soak it in.

10:30AM: After trying unsuccessfully to work with my laptop on the front porch (thanks to wonky wifi), I head back inside to bang out some Jetpack user questions. This is a complicated plugin and so inspires a wide variety of problems, ranging from installation and connection issues to Publicize (everybody’s favorite) to problems with stats to … the possibilities are endless.

That’s part of what makes this job so awesome. Never boring!

12:30PM: My husband comes home for lunch and puppy duty. We’re fortunate that he works only 5 minutes away so we spend everyday (mostly) lunching together. Sometimes I’ll run to the grocery store or we’ll meet for a lunch date at a local place, but usually it’s leftovers from the fridge.

1:30PM: Back to the queues. If the incoming volume is manageable, I use this time to check on any replies to the responses I sent in the morning. I find that following a ticket all the way to its resolution to be incredibly helpful for learning; if someone else grabs it and replies, I’m not always privy to the outcome. If I come across a particularly tricky ticket and know that I won’t be around to see it through, I try to bookmark it so that I can understand how it worked out.

1:57PM: Ping! Time for my weekly check-in with my rockstar lead. We chat about how things are going, the puppy, any questions that I may have, suggestions that she has for moving forward, goals and progress. As a new hire, it’s nice to have this weekly one-on-one time as a checkpoint for me so that I can be sure that I’m on the right track.

3:00PM: Quick break for the puppy. (Full disclosure: at this point, he’s starting to get a little needy and I’m starting to get a little $%&*#)

3:15PM: Finish up a last few tickets and then head into the training course for Polldaddy. By the end of the day, my brain starts to get a little overheated, so it’s harder for me to compose my thoughts. Since I’ve still got a lot to learn, I like to spend a few minutes working on the training for a new product. I’m really better in learning through experience, though, so these are more cursory for me than anything.

3:45PM: Middle schooler arrives and comes in for his daily chat. I stop what I’m doing for this everyday because I get a huge data dump of everything that happened during his day. I’ve found that if I miss this opportunity, he moves on with his free time and it never comes back around. At this age, I’ll take every moment like this that I can get 🙂

4:00PM: To the bus stop! It’s really only just up the street, and they truthfully don’t need me to come greet them, but it gets me out of the house for a bit and I get to hang out with my best-neighbors-ever. Plus, the littlest still has that excited-to-see-me look on his face when he gets off the bus, and I’m not giving that one up until it follows it’s natural path to extinction. One of those small moments that makes all the rest so worth it.

4:15PM: Finish up the last of my tickets, following up on replies where I can, and get set for tomorrow.

5:15ishPM: Sign off for the day.

My days vary in length and work, but for now, this is mostly how they go. I’ve started to work Sundays on a fairly regular basis because it gives me freedom to do other things during the weekday when everyone is gone: workouts, errands, long lunch, coffee dates, PTA meetings, volunteering at the kids’ school … whatever!

Every Happiness Engineer works differently and in their own way, so check out these #a8cday posts to read about how others do it 🙂

So much flexibility. I dig it.

If you dig it too, We’re hiring! 


Posted in growing up, Life

And So It Begins…

High school.

How did we get here so fast?

Parent orientation …. sigh.

Feeling all of the feels.

A little bit of yay us!

A big ole batch of tears (keeping those contained).

And a overwhelming amount of holy shit.

The beginning of the end.

Or at least the beginning of the end of this chapter.

Please fasten your seat belts kids. Remain seated with arms, hands, legs and feet inside the vehicle at all times.

Enjoy the ride!

Posted in Books

When’s the last time you mewled? [Spy School Series Review]

Because I still read to two of my kids every night, and we’re way past Goodnight, Goodnight Constuction Site, it can sometimes be a challenge to find a quality book that is worth a read aloud but that isn’t something they might prefer to read on their own.

We have several gems in our history that I’ll share in a soon-to-be-created-and-will-forever-be-growing list.

For now, Spy School.

We discovered this amazing book series when the littlest fella plucked it off the shelf on a whim and begged to read it. Before we made it through the first chapter, it was obvious that this is too far above his level.

Because the vocabulary words are …

Dreamy.  For dorky girls who like big words anyway.

They had me with mewled.


In a book for kids!


While the story is also fairly complex for a younger audience to follow, these are fantastic for a 4th grader.

And for the mom reading it too.

Ripley. Ben Ripley. He’s a young, nerdy, wanna-be but yet is lacking-in-mostly-all-necessary-skills James Bond.

There’s action. And intrigue. A twerpy evil nemesis that you just want to hug.

There’s even a cute little love story.

Full disclosure: If you don’t dig the occasional borderline curse word, then these books aren’t likely the best choice. My kids go to public school so, ya know. It’s out there.

One of the best parts about this series is that there are 4 dense books.


Gold mine.

We found ours at the library, but everybody’s favorite online book retailer has them too.

You can thank me in the comments 😉

Posted in Life, Teenagers

Small Victories

It started with a small bowl of potato chips.

But it quickly became a knock down drag it out with the teenager.

Of course, as with everything else in life with a teenager, it was about so much more than that. And so much less.

The boy was unyielding. Relentless in his defiance, defending and excuses.

He was utterly disrespectful and bordering on rude. Henry talked to him. I talked to him.

The boy didn’t budge.

We even went to bed frustrated and without any pleasantries. It was truly one of those fine mom moments.


And then this morning, like a miracle, he got up and I happened to be in the laundry room right outside his door. Without hesitation, he came and gave me a hug, apologized for being so terrible, and told me he loves me.

Say what?!?

Let me restate that – he apologized for being terrible. And he gave me a hug!

This from the child who, in the course of his life, has rarely apologized for anything. Ever.

And unsolicited displays of affection? Let me reiterate that he is a teenager. And a he.


via dfiles

We are not the worst parents ever. (Yet.)

Maybe we are doing something right.

I won’t get ahead of myself, but it is nice to know that as he seemingly grows inches every day, his voice continues to sound more goose-like and less little-boy-like, and the hair on his face thickens, he is maturing in other ways too.

And maybe, just maybe we’re doing something right.

There is hope for us all yet.


I think I’ll reward myself with a bowl of potato chips 🙂