Given that conversation and ideas at Book Club earlier this week was what finally pushed me to start something that has been on my mind for 5 years- I think it’s only fitting that my second post be about my book club!
Did you know that Peter and I were the first to have kids of our friends? Unless you are also the first to have kids in your group of friends, you don’t know how hard this is. I know we have SO MUCH to be thankful for BUT nothing will make you feel more like your friends suddenly live on another planet like having a kid while they’re still living that single life and you’ve suddenly graduated to parenthood. I’ll never forget one of my best friends calling me up at 7PM when Natalia was an infant like ‘Hey! let’s go out to dinner!’. Well- I have an actual little human being to take care of. It’s not like a dog I can put in a crate and just head out to dinner!
It may seem silly but I’ll admit it was actually a major source of stress for me. I love my husband and I love my kids as well as our friends but sometimes you need someone your age in your situation to connect with. Many people with more experience in my life would tell me that the friends that lived in our world would come once we put our kids in activities and in school but at the time- that seemed so very far away! That’s crazy to think about now given that I feel my kids are growing too fast but back then- Natalia starting school was light years away!
Well- guess what? Those more experienced people in my life… they were right! I’ll never forget my first breakthrough where I felt like I had finally connected with MY TRIBE. I had met MY PEOPLE! It was a dance rehearsal party for Natalia’s first dance recital. To this day I still consider some of these women some of my best friends- in fact Kelly Edwards Photography takes any kind of professional looking photo you will see on this site!
Life goes on and we put Natalia in a small Catholic school, but Peter still wasn’t old enough to attend. It’s funny how God works though. Natalia is an April Baby and Peter is a September baby. Despite being only 17 months apart in age, they are actually two grades apart. Well, Peter is a bright kid and I had wanted to see if the school would allow him to come in the year after Natalia rather than two years later. Having kids in two separate schools is tough and at the time the goal was just to have my two kids in the same school. I didn’t pursue this too much because deep down I knew that especially him being a boy, and how strict schools are about the age requirements these days, it just wasn’t going to be allowed but at the time- this was what I thought would be best for our family.
I didn’t know that some of the friends that I had prayed so hard for, those people who live on our planet, those connections we were craving- they were the parents of the kids in that class that I wanted Peter to skip over. Early 2020 I attended one of the many birthday parties that filled our calendar because as any parent knows- your kid’s social calendar will be way more packed than yours. You will no longer have a social calendar. Kidding….sorta! haha Anyway- At one of these parties for Peter’s class- some how a conversation about books came up and similar to this blog- a book club was always something I wanted to do! it was like a bucket list thing! Remember- while this may be new to some who only know me Jennifer Estefan Casais, CPA- I loved to write and I have always LOVED to read! I felt I didn’t have the time for it (until Audio books came into my life but that will get it’s own post eventually) it has always been something I love.
I thought it was one of those things you talk about but it doesn’t happen. We all make those plans of- let’s get together! Let’s have a drink! Let’s have a coffee! Let’s do a play date! But it never happens. We dont even have time to get together for a coffee but let’s start a book club? It won’t happen. You can imagine my surprise when I was suddenly added to WhatsApp group ‘Book Club?’. FYI- to this day our group still has the question mark on it! haha! At any rate- my dreams of being in a book club and an excuse for girls night were happening! In the meantime- our school had their first annual Swine and Dine event and while sipping on some Islamorada Beer book club was truly born! We had a couple more moms interested and BOOM! We scheduled a dinner to discuss how this would all work, we chose our first book- and proceeded to be told the restaurant was closing and we needed to leave the premises because we were there that late. It was a good night!
I was so excited! I was in a book club! I had a group of moms to meet with once a month to talk about books with and drink wine! Well- 2020 had other plans. Before our first official meeting COVID happened and I thought it was fun while it lasted but it was over (side note- I do realize I need to work on my negative attitude). We scheduled a zoom meeting for our first meeting to discuss our book which was ‘The Last Mrs. Parrish’ (loved this book!). To be honest- I hadn’t done social zoom meetings much and didn’t expect much. IT WAS A BLAST! For the times anyway- don’t invite me to a zoom social setting now! Hahah
Once things started to re-open in Miami and as soon as everyone was comfortable, we met again in person! We chose another book and well- BOOK CLUB survived COVID and came back STONG! In the meantime we have added more wonderful women to the group! I can honestly say this has been one of the biggest blessings in my life especially after having kids. It may be a short amount of time but we have been through so much together- the fun times, the COVID times, the hard times like watching Leo, the son of one of the ladies in our group the best friend of all of our kids beat cancer. It’s been a ride and I think if my little book club has survived so much, it’s here to stay!
On that note- while I won’t go into crazy detail in this post, I do want to share the books we’ve read and some of the things we’ve done. I’m sure anything in the future will be better documented!
The Last Mrs. Parrish
The Devil in the White City
Next year in Havana
When I Left Cuba
Last Train to Key West
The Royal We
The Paris Architect
The Dutch House
The Last Flight
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue
We also had some that weren’t ‘official book club’ choices but which we’ve read the side. ‘Bella Figura’ by Kamin Mohammadi is one of them and likely the first book I will review on here when I have the chance because it was one of my favorite books last year! Others include ‘Firefly Lane’ and ‘Pretty Things’.
We’ve also done many things together- usually involving food and drinks! haha The original meeting pre-Covid was at Brio in the falls. The first meeting during COVID was at Chef Adrianne to check out her new location. Amongst other things we have done a wine tasting of Scout and Cellar wines with Carolina Palahach, play dates with our kids at the zoo, parks or at our houses, visited the restaurant Ghee, Chef Adrianne’s newest endeavor Forte, and we’ve done some themes as well! When it was time to discuss Pachinko we ordered from Jason Sushi. If you are in Miami and like Sushi- he is a must! When we met to discuss Bella Figura- although not sure that was an ‘official pick’ but most of us read it, we dined at Osteria Vecchio Piemonte.
That’s just a summary of some of the things that we have done thus far and I am sure there are things I am forgetting. Now that I have this blog set up I look forward to sharing more.
Most importantly- I want to share with any parents, especially new parents that I do think it’s important to make connections with people you feel you can relate to. If you haven’t met them yet though, God will send them to you when it’s right. I also think it’s important to make that time for yourself. Have the girls night! You’ll be a better parent the next day! For what it’s worth- our husband’s had their poker night the following night. Take turns and find that balance.
Thanks for visiting!