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.

 

A happy home. ❤️

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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!