Books of 2016!

I set a lofty goal for 2016 – to finish 25 books.

I didn’t make it.

But I DID read 20 books. Over 8,000 pages. Not too shabby!  (I track my reading using Goodreads which syncs to my Kindle).

Here are my 20 books of 2016:

books

 

My least favorites of the bunch?

  • The Paying Guests (too long, not particularly compelling, and I just didn’t care about the characters very much)
  • Shrill (I wanted to like it, but I felt like it was billed as something new, brash and fresh, and it just wasn’t)

My favorites of the bunch?

Goals for 2017?

  • Read 25 books (I just finished my first book of 2017 – The Muse)
  • Finish the Harry Potter series (I am planning to read these to my children, and wanted to read them all myself, first)
  • Finally read The Goldfinch (it has been on my nightstand for 2 years)
  • Read at least 3 non-fiction titles. I’m thinking Between the World and Me, When Breath Becomes Air and Born to Run will make the cut. Speaking of…
  • Listen to Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography Born To Run on audio book (an awesome Christmas present from my dad!) I was going to read it in hardcover, but Bruce reads the audio book version himself. I’m a big fan (I’ve been to 50 shows!) and the book is poetry, so I’m going to dedicate my commute to listening. And yes, I’m counting it in my 2017 total.

Do you have any reading goals for 2017? Suggestions for books you think I’d love? Books to avoid?  Please let me know!  And connect with me on Goodreads, too!

Happy reading!

You Get What You Need

I want a cup of tea.

Not herbal. The real stuff. With milk and sugar.

And I want someone to make me popovers.

Which I will eat warm with a little butter and cinnamon sugar.

 

I want someone to wash my duvet cover and then put it back on my comforter. Because if we’re honest with each other, that is a four-person job.

 

I want a week to declutter, shuffle and reshuffle, purge (stuff, not vomit – though both usually make you feel better), think about writing something, nap.

 

I want dinner to be done, meals planned. But really, I want to do that stuff myself.

I want a bedside clock for my husband that isn’t the brightest clock on the planet.

I want the socks paired.

Oh the socks.

 

I want not to worry about the four RSVPs, camps, birthday party to plan.

I want to be grateful that I have parties, camps, birthday parties to worry about.

I want new work shoes that I don’t have to break in.

I want to use the hours between 8:30pm and 10:30pm wisely at least once a week.

I want to figure out how on earth to spend more time being and less time doing.

 

I want to cook every day. Walk every day. Sleep more. Pick up less. Read to my kids more. Explore more. Love more. Give more.  Fight more for the things I think are worth fighting for. And sit on a blanket on the grass in the sun.

 

I want to spend more time doing silly and creative things, and less time wondering what could have possibly spilled on the floor to make it that sticky.  I want more time with my kids. I want more time with my husband. I want more time by myself.

I want more time having grown-up conversations. With wine. I want more music in my house. I want less dust. I want my kids to eat less yogurt.

 

I want more dancing in my life.

 

And I want the thank you notes to write themselves.

 

Admissions of a Tired Mom – Part Five

1. My kids wear their shoes on the wrong feet ALL OF THE TIME.  I always tell them, but I don’t usually make them switch them if they don’t want to.

2. I dislike the word “cray” (meaning crazy).  The Brits and Aussies (Kiwis, too) are really good at slang. “Bro, this Chrimbo, I’m going to slap some shrimp on the barbie for brekkie before we open prezzies, s’truth!” (Okay, I probably butchered that a bit, but a basic translation would be “This Christmas I’m going to grill shrimp for breakfast before we open gifts.”) Cockney slang takes things to a whole amazing other level.  Americans?  We’re just not as good at slang.

3. I could eat Russell Stover pectin jellybeans until my tongue bled.  I’m not proud of this.

Nom nom nom.  Image from Russell Stover.

Nom nom nom. Image from Russell Stover.

4. I thought my brie and Juicy Juice dinner was awful.  Then I got sick, for quite some time. I lost my appetite and most of my sense of taste. So dinner a few weeks ago was croutons.  Out of the bag.  Because I couldn’t taste much.  We needed to go food shopping.  And they were crunchy.  And there. And I was tired. And I wanted to go to sleep, but I was supposed to eat something with my meds, and stay upright for at least 10 minutes (weird, instruction, right?).

Crunch.  Image from Pepperidge Farm.

Crunch. Image from Pepperidge Farm.

5. Rare moment of parenting genius? Buying my 4-year-old son a DUSTBUSTER for Christmas.  He and his sister love it.  They can carry it, it is noisy, and exciting.  They cruise around the house, dustbuster at the ready, looking for “yuckies” to suck up into its whirling vortex.  And when they suck up something they shouldn’t (there was a dollar bill on the floor?) we can simply open the DB up, and retrieve the item. And I never have to yell “Shut that thing off already!” because it is rechargeable, and needs to be plugged back in after 30 minutes of hunting yuckies. $40 very well spent.  Thanks, Santa.

Vrooooom.  Image from Amazon.

Vrooooom. Image from Amazon.

Happy Friday, and happy Spring!  Bring on the mud and daffodils!

PS – Not affiliate links, just for your convenience.

Poke Me

My mother has been bugging me to try acupuncture. She has a lovely acupuncturist down the street from her house, and she has found the practice and the treatment both beneficial and relaxing. She offered to gift me acupuncture at Christmas. It was a kind offer, but the office she frequents is a 20-minute drive from my house, and frankly, if I have two or three free hours, I’d rather take a nap.

But a few weeks ago I went to a sandwich shop down the street from my office and noticed that an acupuncture practice was right next door. A quick peek at the website confirmed it was convenient (open every day!) and inexpensive (sliding scale pay-what-you-want!) so I decided to give it a try.

Recline!

I did have some trouble with the new patient paperwork. On the “Reason for Your Visit” line I wanted to write, “I have a full-time job, three small children and I really need a nap. Twelve needles and $15 is a small amount to pay!” but that wouldn’t fit (and I didn’t want to sound crazy), so I just wrote “Health Maintenance.”

The office receptionist, Norm, was a soft-spoken man sitting with a crocheted orange, yellow and green afghan on his lap. The practice owner looked exactly like Louis C.K., which was excellent and weird all at the same time. A rush of white noise met me when I walked into the big, dimly lit treatment room of 20 blanket-covered recliners. About five of the recliners held peacefully napping patrons. A brief consult, chair choice, pulse check, tap tap tap of 11 needles and away I went to slumberland. Only I didn’t.

My brain:

Am I tired? I don’t feel tired. But this chair is comfortable.

That needle in my hand still stings a little. I think. Does it sting a little? I don’t know. He said to make purposeful eye contact if it hurt. Does it hurt?

I’ll give it a minute.

I wonder how many white noise machines he has.

Probably eight. Sounds like eight.

Shouldn’t I be drowsy by now?

My head itches. 

I can’t even remember where he put the needles.

I’m hungry.

I should get a tuna sandwich next door after I’m done here.

I think I’ll be here about 20 minutes, but I don’t know exactly how long 20 minutes is and I’m sitting here with needles in me and I can’t check so I might as well relax.

Relax already.

You only have 18 minutes left to nap. So nap already.

I suppose if I can’t nap I can at least meditate. This room is dark and warm and cozy and apparently I forgot all about that needle in my hand.

Or did I?

Right. Back to the meditation.

Each thought is a maple leaf floating down a bubbling woodland brook. Look a leaf! And another leaf and…

I think I’ll put pickles on my sandwich.

Dammit.

A leaf, I’m thinking about floating leaves.

I should have eaten lunch before my appointment.

Hear the bubbling brook, let the thoughts flow away from me. Like leaves in a brook. Goodbye thoughts.

It must be 78 degrees in here. That’s a nice warm, nappy temperature.

My head still itches.

How long have I been here?

Am I actually paying to nap in a room full of strangers? I guess I am. Except I’m not napping.

I’m going to write about this.

But I should probably be sleeping, not writing blog posts in my head and pretending to nap.

Leaves. I’m thinking about leaves.

fall-folliage-tree-leaves

Mr. Louis C.K. Acupuncture must have to fold 150 blankets a day. 

At least they’re squares.

Alright, the leaf thing clearly isn’t happening.

Has it been enough time? Is it time to make purposeful eye contact?

Did someone just shuffle by me? I think they did. Oh God, was I mouth-breathing? I might have been mouth-breathing.

Oh well. They don’t know me.

Maybe I’ll get a salad for lunch. Is my head ever going to stop itching?

I wonder how much money this place makes.

Do you think he bought the recliners off of craigslist? Maybe he did. I should count the recliners. There are probably 20.

I’ll half-open my eyes and count the ones on the other side of the room.

11.

I should be sleeping. I’ve probably been here about 10 minutes, but I really have no idea.

It is pretty cozy though.

And it is peaceful.

And it is better than eating a sad desk lunch.

I’m definitely going to get tuna. I haven’t had tuna in eons.

Is it time? It must be time. My head still itches. Why does my head itch? If I get lice from these fleecy blankets I’m going to be annoyed. Okay. Time for purposeful eye contact I think.

I’ll open my eyes slowly, pretend to look rested, get the needles removed and go get a tuna fish sandwich.

Does anyone say “tuna fish” anymore? Is that redundant? Does that make me sound 80? I used the word “hamburg” – as in ground beef, not the city – the other week and my sister asked me when I turned 75 years old. Is “tuna fish” like that?

Oh, I was going to open my eyes.

And like that it was over. Purposeful eye contact was made, Louis C.K. Acupuncturist pulled out the needles, told me to take my time and stretch, and laid a comforting hand on my ankle.

And I felt?

Fine. Hungry. Pretty relaxed, actually. The crick in my neck felt better; at least I think it felt better.

So I decided I’m going to go back. Once a week. For a nap, or not. The cozy stillness is good for me, and I bet the acupuncture is, too.

But I’ll remember to eat lunch first.

Health maintenance, indeed!

Things I Like Thursdays

Happy Summer! Sun, fun, more sun! Hooray!

But one thing I dislike about summer? My big kids need a bath every night.  It goes like this…

Me: No fighting! No splashing! No spitting! No hitting! Don’t even pretend to splash! Don’t get the floor wet! Don’t even look at each other! Don’t bug each other! Yes, Pickle, growling in your sister’s general direction is considered “bugging” her! Plum, while I didn’t specifically state that pouring a huge tub of water over your brother’s head wasn’t allowed, it is, indeed, not allowed!!!

Them: WAAAH!  SCREEEEEAM!  SPLASH!!!

But then, when it is over, and they are cozy in their PJs with combed hair that doesn’t smell like sand, sunscreen and pretzels (pretzels?) I love bath time.

I cursed the purchase of those Crayola bath crayons with the swirly colors, because they dyed my tub, and then got stuck in the drain. Ugh.  But the Crayola color Bath Dropz for the bath? MAGIC.  They are awesome.  And so far, I haven’t let the kids see me drop them in, so they actually think that I am magical and have the power to change the color of the bath water with my mind.  Just another mommy super power, yessir.  Word to the wise?  Red is a little shocking to see spreading through the water, and yellow, well yes, it looks like a big tub o’ pee.  But the kids don’t care.

dropz it like itz hot

 

I don’t get any kickbacks for writing about these products. I just like them. I should look into that kickback thing though…

A porcupine in my throat…

This Mama was down for the count.

Strep visited 3 of the 4 family members and I was the third. When I felt a strange burning on my tongue I hoped for the best. But I was up at 2:30 that night, pretty miserable, and making calls to my doctor’s office (did you know that the answering service can make appointments?! Most excellent!).

The doctor’s office swabbed me to confirm (rapid strep tests, also most excellent) and sent me packing with a prescription and directions to lay low for a day while those antibiotics started working. Kids at school, I called work, told them I was in quarantine, had them send me some work, picked up my prescription and went home to change into my pajamas.

Here’s the thing about being home sick.  It is hard not to look around my house and see things that need doing. In my mind, I had laid out my plan for the day.  The plan consisted of mostly work, with just a few “I’m-sick-but-not-on-my-deathbed” housekeeping tasks thrown in.  Work 3 hours, change sheets, put away laundry, change diaper genie, take out trash, return library book, start dinner, work three more hours, get kiddos. Sounded good to me.

But you know what?  My plan was dumb.

I was tired.  I was sick. And I was (am!) 6 months pregnant.

Mamas, self care is too often sacrificed for the sake of laundry. Aren’t we smarter than that?

Laundry is never going to go away.  But hopefully, with rest, fluids, and Amoxicillin, strep throat will.

So I amended the plan.  Housekeeping triage.  I removed the stinky things from the house (trash and diaper genie), made some tea, did some work (but not enough) while sitting on the couch in pajamas, and took an hour-long nap.  Much better.

The laundry will still be there tomorrow – and yes, there will be more of it – but I’ll be feeling better.

Sick.

Friday Confessions

I’m coming clean.  Admissions and deep thoughts for a Friday afternoon…

1. I dislike Sandra Boynton books.  Intensely. I’m sure I could write them myself in 6 minutes. Maybe 4. The artwork is another story – that is something I cannot do.  But the words? Do you realize that the woman has a degree in English from Yale? Sometimes, for fun (which probably speaks volumes about me and my marriage?) my husband and I have Sandra Boynton Slams, kind of like Poetry Slams, where we speak in Sandra Boynton-esque prose.  It cracks us up every single time.*

Boynton's Super Cute Hippo from her website. Click the photo to go there.

Boynton’s Super Cute Hippo from her website. Click the photo to go there.

2. I don’t really get the amber teething necklaces. I’m not against home remedies or alternative therapies, but I just think they look and seem a little silly.  Then again, I tend to not accessorize my children. But somehow these necklaces seem a bit like those Magical! Therapeutic! Magnetic! Bracelets! you see at the mall.  I’m not buying it.

3. I once mommy-judged a woman feeding her child a pop tart for breakfast. I then realized that my child was eating a doughnut at the time.  Lesson learned.

Donut with Sprinkles

4. My son’s 3rd birthday is approaching.  Sure, I’ve scoped out Pinterest and Garnish for cute ideas. I’ve considered paper straws, jute, twine, mason jars, personalized labels, buntings, colors and themes.  But you know what? Ain’t nobody got time for that. I believe that kid birthdays should include three things: running around, pizza and cake.  Because that is what kids like – at least mine.  Maybe someday we’ll add a pinata, because he also likes candy and hitting things with sticks.  Sandwiches shaped like dinosaurs? Personalized juice boxes?  He’ll be too busy running around, jacked up on sugary frosting to give a damn.

Whack me!

5. We got a wonderful new kitten.  The kids adore her. When she meows, Pickle gets down on his hands and knees and asks her, in all seriousness, “What is wrong, kitty?” and then tries to comfort her, yelling, “It’s okay, kitty, I’m right here!  I’m right here, Honey!” Sweet exchanges between kittens and small children? Cuteness overload. Plum tries to catch her so she can “pet” her – which mostly means giggling and attempting to whack her with an open hand. Luckily kitty is fast.

She is a positive and cuddly addition to the household for sure.  However, I have had a few moments (like this morning, collecting and dropping off her stool sample at the vet – fun!) where I have realized that there is yet another little creature in the house I will have to feed, and cuddle, keep well, and wake up worrying about.  Sigh.

Fast friends

Fast friends

* In all fairness, I have to admit that Boynton’s website motto, “Trying to Think of a Motto Since 1973” has knocked my dislike down a few rungs. Damn you, SB!

 

Resolute. NYE 2013.

Rabbits! Rabbits! Rabbits!

Hunny Bunny

 

The whole parenting/working/being an adult thing is tough enough.  I feel like I work hard every day to be a good person, a good parent, with an intact sense of humor and some semblance of sanity.  Then, New Year’s Eve comes along and I’m supposed to set some goals for self-improvement.  But heck, I’m not going to strive for things like enlightenment, marathons, vegetarianism, volunteer work, or travel until I can succeed at some smaller things, like peeing solo, making my bed (weekly counts), eating breakfast, and/or going to bed at a reasonable hour.  I need some successes, so I’m setting the bar low this year.

Resolutions for 2013

  1. No face or neck tattoos. Not even temporary ones.
  2. Avoid Diet Coke, monkfish liver and Pitbull concerts.
  3. Learn to play an instrument (maracas, kazoo and tambourine count)
  4. Shower most days.
  5. Read one book, and see one movie in a theater.
  6. Figure out how to listen to my podcasts in my car.
  7. Avoid reality shows about the Amish, and/or large tumors.
  8. Sleep. At least some.
  9. Remember every family member’s name, every day.
  10. Organize the hall closet by April.

I’ll report back.  The Amish reality show one is going to be tough.

Resolve! The August Edition!

I made some resolutions in January.  (Since even the word “resolutions” makes me turn and run the other way, I’ve decided to call them “Fluffies” – sounds much less daunting, eh?)

I revisited my Fluffies in July. The report card result?  NEEDS IMPROVEMENT.

So here’s a list of my (slightly later than) midyear Fluffies.

1. Read something

This one is sticking around.  I’m going to lighten up a bit though.  I’m not going to count catalogs  but I am going to count all other print media.  Because really, sometimes it takes the same amount of time to get through a dang New Yorker article as it does to get through a fluffy novel.  And since I tend to prefer my books to be of the fiction variety, a little nonfiction in the form of magazine or newspaper articles would do me some good.  I’m not going to count People though.

2. Date my husband.

I really like the guy.  He’s pretty fabulous.  But, as some wise woman once told me, when you have kids your relationship with your spouse can slide towards co-worker status.  And it does, because it kind of has to.  Heck, meeting the daily deadline of getting the family out the door in the morning takes coordination, collaboration, luck and managerial talent!  While I’m happy to have a great partner in this full-time endeavor, I don’t want to lose sight of who he is as a man, a husband and a person.  And I don’t want him to lose sight of me as a woman, a wife and a person.  Besides, if I call it “dating,” I might be motivated to put on some heels and a little perfume from my huge collection of tiny perfume bottles.

3.  Turn up the stereo.

I love music.  It is so very important to me for so many reasons.  It speaks to me.  It punctuates my life.  Most songs remind me of a place, a time, a person or all three.  Sometimes I’m happy to bop along with pop in the background, but sometimes I really want to listen to the music – to hear it.  I’m not sure how I’m going to make this happen with “Wee Sing Silly Songs” on repeat in my mom mobile – the main place I have the opportunity to listen to music – but I’m going to try to find a way to make it happen.

4. Move more

This one is hard for me.  Kudos to you mamas (and dads!) who figure out how to fit this in.  I have a lot of great excuses, and a busy life, but the movement is good for me, and good for my family if it means I will be more active, more fun, have more energy, and live longer.  I’m going to start very small.  I’m aiming for one good walk per week.  By myself.  I may have to get up at 5am to do it.  Can you already hear me whining?

I’m thinking I can knock out those four birds with one stone if I take my husband to the Y and we work out while reading and listening to music?  WIN! Okay, maybe a little overly-ambitious…

Don’t Be a Boob.

Here we go again… the breastfeeding in public debate has hit the news again, this time in my little state.

Let’s agree on some things, shall we?

  1. Breastfeeding is a really good thing for those who can and want to. (Though I found this article “The Case Against Breast-Feeding” from The Atlantic really interesting and well-researched.)
  2. Some people are prudes.  Or to put it another way, there is a huge range in the types of things that make people uncomfortable.
  3. Breastfeeding in public is legal in my state (as well it should be!)

Now that we’ve agreed on those three points…

Here’s the story: a woman breastfed her 10-month old at a restaurant.  The hostess did not ask her to stop, but asked her (on behalf of some restaurant patrons) to cover up a bit.

COMMENCE PROTESTS!

While dining out, I would probably find the presence of a loud talker, or a terrible toupee far more distracting and offensive than some boobage.  But I’m not everyone.

Should the sight of some boobage, or even a little bit of a *gasp!* nipple, while you’re trying to eat your crabcakes offend?  Nope.  Boobs are good.  Lots of men like them.  Lots of women don’t give ’em a second thought.  Some men don’t give them a second thought. Some women like them.  I don’t think I know anyone who actively hates breasts. They are breasts.  Everyone has them and half the population have ones with the capability of providing baby sustenance.  Which is pretty cool.

Should a breast-feeding mama be publicly shunned and shamed for doing something as basic as feeding her child?  Especially when she has every right to do so under the law?  Absolutely not.

Now that we’ve agreed on those points…

We’re having the wrong conversation.

I believe the key to good relationships, good communication, and good people-ness is consideration.    I do not need to bend to the whims of others, do as they say, or do as they do, but it is good for the universe if I, at least, consider their points of view, feelings and perspectives.

Yes, in this instance, according to the mom, her baby’s needs trump those of fellow diners.  And it is her right to breastfeed.  But given the fact that other diners had the time to beckon waitstaff, make their complaint, have their complaint passed on to the hostess, and have the hostess request some discretion, I kind of get the feeling there was a lot of boob out, for a lot of time.  Some people – even people who like boobs quite a lot – are made uncomfortable by the sight of breasts (for many reasons including age, temperament, religion, prudidity – I made that up). Perhaps the mama should have considered these other folks, too.    No need to wrap yourself in a shawl, and smother your nursing baby.  All it would have taken is a tug of the shirt, a small shift in her seat, some consideration for how other people feel to make this whole situation a non-issue.

Call me naive, but a little consideration for others isn’t hard.  And it infringes on your rights and desires very little.  I am pretty far from prudish, but there are a lot of natural bodily processes that are amazing, and interesting, but that I’d rather not see.  Or not see much of.

I know it can be a slippery slope.  What’s acceptable? Nudity? Piercings? Vulgar t-shirts? Racist bumper stickers?  For everyone, the threshhold of vulgarity is different.  I think for the vast majority, breastfeeding isn’t seen as vulgar at all.  Because it isn’t.  But I say, when you can be cognizant and respectful of the feelings of others you increase the likelihood that they will be cognizant and respectful of yours.  You may not agree with the boob-prudes at the next table, but you can at least consider them when making your choices.

I’d argue that “the pursuit of happiness” that we’re guaranteed was not meant to be “the pursuit of happiness at all costs with no regard for others!” We’re all on the same little planet here, people. You can make your baby’s life better by breast-feeding, and you can make your neighbor’s life better by shifting a little to the left.  Everybody wins.