Well that was a bit of a break

And by bit of a break, I guess like seven months?  Ooft. Yeah, that's a lot.

Part of it comes down to the fact that I'm lazy, and have been using my phone as my main device more and more. Turns out, when I'm not actually sitting at my computer every day from nine to five, I don't actually procrastinate by posting nearly as much. 

Also, in those seven months, the country has turned into a shitshow of a post-apocalyptic novel, one that I would critique as "far-fetched and way too unrealistic. Tone it down," only it's REALITY.  And lest I pass from a series of rage strokes brought on by the events of the world around me or start throwing shit at the tv, I need to practice a little more self-centeredness and focus on what I can control.  Some of what I can control is political activism and sending money to good causes!  And some of what I can control is my own actions, writing, making stuff, etc.  #resist

Now I just need to think of things to write about.  I have some ideas, I've been working on a number of projects, including weavings, as those who follow me on instagram may already know. 

Look for more here shortly, hopefully.  And in the meantime, I will continue my crafting procrastination by busting out as many www.pussyhatproject.com p*ssy hats as I possibly can before the Women's March in DC on the 21st.  I'm on hat #10 right now.  Who all is going? 

P*ssy hat #9.  Also, more to come on that wall hanging behind me.

Swim bag

Yeah, maybe soon I'll actually be on a better-than-not-even-once-a-month posting schedule. Theoretically yes, since work stuff has eased up a bit, and we've finished moving. . . But on the other hand it's about to be summer and really, who am I kidding?

But in the meantime, speaking of summer, it's gorgeous here today, and I am already thinking of the pool. The problem with going to the pool is that's getting ready for the pool is effing torture.


Unless you have a ready packed swim bag with all your crap in it, ready to go at a moment's notice.

a fully packed swim bag, complete with mulch stain from last year

Here's the thing: I am fundamentally lazy. So I'd much rather put 30 minutes of effort into something once a season to prevent the inevitable "goddamnit, where are the towels?!?!" that would happen EVERY DAY otherwise. 

This way, I never search for sunscreen--it's in the bag. Goggles--in the bag. Towels--in the bag. Snacks--in the bag. My rash guard and suit--in the bag.

What exactly do I pack? Well I'll tell you. And show you! Because who does not love a good "What's in your bag" piece?

fully unpacked. It all goes in the tote.

Back row: tote and towels.

Second row: wet bags, sunscreen on top; mesh duffel with piles of toys on top; big kid's swimsuit, rash guard, and hat.

Third row: my swim coverup, above goggles and sunglasses; my swimsuit and rash guard; diaper clutch with uno, soap case and brush on top, sitting above the prescription goggle case; little one's oldey timey bathing suit and swim dipe.

The bag:

Lands End's XL tote, with the embroidery so everyone knows exactly which bag is what. We have some L.L. Bean totes, which i like for the stiffness of the canvas, but I need the pockets and the attached key fob. (This was purchased before LE stuck their foot in it by retracting the Gloria Steinem interview after right wing nutjobs bitched about feminism. As such, I wrote them and told them that until they got a goddamned spine they'd lost all my business. Which was considerable. And now I'm without a go-to tote and swimwear place. Assholes. Also why I'm not linking to them.)


The biggest little has a specific pool-branded towel he likes, but the rest are Turkish foutas, or peshtemal. I am OBSESSED. They absorb a ton, dry out quickly, are cute, and I got them off of eBay (from this shop--the thick ones are the best) for way cheaper than the fancy places sell them. 

Wet bags:

Two of them. Because inevitably one will not get put back. And tell me why I never knew these were a thing until I had kids? Cause they are AWESOME. The Skip Hop one has a mesh outside pocket which is where I stash my swimsuit and rash guard.

Packing cube:

That's the black mesh bag. Holds the boys' swimsuits and rash guards.  Please to note the little one's oldey-timey one-piece striped job. Last season The Gap had a similar suit that I am kicking myself for not buying in all the sizes, so I hunted one down from Etsy this year (do you die? I die. That is some cute ass shit right there). I need to find him a toddler-sized straw boater, a handle bar mustache, and teach him some barber shop harmonies before fourth of July.

Packing cubes are the shit by the way. I got a bunch in multiple colors from ebags a few years ago. So now when we travel, the boys and I have our stuff color coded. Biggest little is red, littlest little is orange, I am green. It makes packing all those tiny little socks so much easier. JBB is on his own, cause he's a grown ass man and can pack his own stuff.  

Diaper clutch:

That's the crazy patterned zip bag (it's a Ju-Ju-Be wristlet; I have a couple because they are the perfect size and I cannot resist an obnoxious pattern), which is also waterproof so can function as a wet bag just in case. This one holds a tiny wet brush, a spare barrette for me, soap, and all the other little toiletries that we'll seem to collect randomly over the season.

Toy bag:

That's the blue mesh duffle, which is new this season. I straight up copied another parent at the pool who had all their water toys and dive sticks in a big mesh nylon bag. Genius. It fits in the main bag to go to the pool and can just hang out separately on the way back. 


Two pairs for the littles and a prescription pair for JBB (in that fancy stripey case) get tucked into one of the side pockets. I am neither blind nor a delicate dainty flower about opening my eyes underwater so I skip 'em.


Side pocket, alongside extra swim dipes. I have sunscreen in every car as well. Because, preparation! I should buy stock in Banana Boat, Coola, and Supergoop, because despite trying seriously every brand under the sun, those are the only ones that are easy to put on (no ghostly cast or impossible to rub in craziness), smell nice, last a while, and actually work. 


Kid ones go into that little drawstring bag. Mine are either on my head or in the car (I have no joke 6 pairs stashed in there. Again, preparation).  I've had good success with picking up kids sunglasses cheap at The Gap.  I have zero faith in either kid's ability to not break things or lose things, so I get multiple pairs when they have their massive sales.


Uno--a pool STAPLE--goes into a little pocket. Not shown but thrown on top will be a skip hop diaper clutch (also have spares on both cars, because, preparation) with wipes. I generally just throw my wallet and phone on top; my wallet is one of the cute ones from Mochithings hat will hold my phone as well. As I'm sure you can tell, I am a big proponent of the "little bags inside the big bag" method of organization and that site is the best source for all kinds of pouches and wee things. Keys get clipped to tote's attached fob. I usually throw a magazine or book along the side edge, and a water bottle and Cheez-its for the hangries. 

Swim bag, organized and packed, with the toy bag in front.

It is amazing how much crap I can pack in this bag. All that stuff, turns into this...

Swim bag, packed! All but the toy bag which gets thrown on top.

Oh, and this is just for me and the kiddos. Any other grown ups are on their own with their stuff because THEY ARE GROWN UPS and can handle their own shit. Except for the goggles. I got tired of the misplacing of the goggles. 

the big change ahead: going freelance

So the big changes that were afoot?  Are that after sixteen years at my current job, and eighteen years in publishing, I quit my job. My last day is this coming Wednesday. And I'll be doing freelancing (come check it out at jenbonnell.com!)

A blurry sun setting over Jersey, from my office window.

There is no reading between the lines to be done here (publishing people, I know how this works, yo), it was my decision to leave Puffin, the imprint I've called home--in the truest sense of the word--for the last sixteen years of my life.  And it was one of the hardest decisions I've had to make.

I love books, I love publishing, and at Puffin (and Penguin!) I've worked with some of the most insanely talented, generous, kind, smart, and loving people. I am honored to know them, and to see the creative things they can do.  And I am honored to call them my friends.  They have seen me through so many major stages of my life--when I started at Penguin, I was 23 and single living in an apartment.  I'm leaving at 39, married with two kids and owning a house.  They saw me through everything from my first date with JBB through getting hitched, three miscarriages, two successful pregnancies, buying two houses, renovations, and everything in between. I am going to miss going to hang out with my friends everyday. 

the Today Show

And I got to do some pretty cool shit: meet Paula Danziger--hell, sit NEXT TO PAULA EFFING DANZIGER at my very first sales conference and try not to shake while meeting my childhood favorites; act as line bouncer for a bunch of rowdy teachers and librarians waiting to meet Henry Winkler;  have (many) drinks with Tomie dePaola and hear a master storyteller at work; visit an animation studio; make someone's dream come true by acquiring her young adult novel, and in the process make a lifelong friend (with excellent taste in shoes and pink barns); write several books (one even credited!); go to the Today show with Jeff Probst for a book that hit the Times list; pitch an idea and put together a project that becomes a New York Times bestseller, year after year; participate in a book-themed-cake-off to celebrate an author visiting the office (I lost.  I knew I should have gone chocolate and played to the judges); watch authors go from a regular anonymous person folks to superstars; and most of all read and work on a shit ton of amazing books with talented folks. 

Cake Off!

It was awesome.  It IS awesome. But I'm just done with the stress of it all.  The lack of balance in my life was killing me. I was constantly running--running to the train, to work, running to relieve the sitter, running running running.  And those who know me know how much I HATE running. I was lucky enough to be working at a company with excellent parental policies, and for two working mothers who knew EXACTLY what I was going through and doing.  Thank god for that, because otherwise I would have melted down years ago. 

Train sunset. 

But no matter how much I loved the people, and working with authors and creating books, I needed the balance back. I've never been one of those people where my entire world is one thing, it's never been just children's publishing--as this blog shows, I have a ton of things I want to do.  I want to make things and hang out with my kids and read not-for-work again and edit cool stuff.  And I am in a privileged enough position to be able to gain the freedom to do the ton of things I want to do by doing something terrifying and scary like quitting my job and going freelance.

Freedom Tower, on the rise. Statue of Liberty in the background.

The thing is, I am the WORST with change. The absolute worst.  My entire family--including my kids--can testify to that.  And don't think that I'm not second guessing my decision every day, wondering if I made the right choice.  But for once in my life, I think I'm actually ok with this change.  (I say this now.  Talk to me after my last day and the many many ugly cries.)

So, if you're in the market for some editorial consulting, go check me out at jenbonnell.com!

And meanwhile I'll try to get better about posting more regularly, now that I have no good excuse not to. 


big changes afoot

There are some big changes afoot for me (some of you, aka the only people I know who read the blog, probably know to what I am referring).  More to come shortly once things are settled.  

All of this, ironically, when I am not good with change, never have been.  I may be a Sagittarius, and supposedly up for adventure, but I like my routines, I like knowing what's coming, and what to expect. And I am terrified of heights.  

And here I am, about to throw a giant monkey wrench into all of that.  Voluntarily, even! 

More to come soon...