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!

Things I Love Thursdays – Baby Shower Edition

Baby Showers!  I’m nearing 40 so, alas, my baby shower attendance has dropped off a bit in the last few years. Sadness.  Hopefully I have a few left to attend.  Here is a list of a few of my favorite baby shower gifts to give (and get!).

L.L. Bean Boat and Tote

This is one of my very favorite gifts to give.  They are made in the good ol’ U.S. of A and last forever.  Know baby’s name?  Add a monogram!  Or perhaps add just the last initial.  I have a large collection of these bags and use them for everything.  They have served as diaper bags, luggage, and grocery bags.  I use them daily.  My favorite is the large tote with long handles (to go over shoulders when arms are full of baby and baby things).  I do have a zippered version, which works well for travel.

112636_2253_41

 

Nightlights

I always get an inexpensive pack of nightlights for new moms and dads.  These are really helpful when you are groggily nursing at 4am, and they are usually an afterthought.  Middle of the night diaper changes are jarring enough, low light makes it a little easier.

Nightlights

 

Books

Now that my littlest is in size 3T (sniff!) I am certainly drawn towards those adorable tiny clothes.  But new parents get lots of clothes at showers, so I usually try to give them something else – books.  Also, I am a nerd.  I pretty much think books are the coolest.  I usually try to give a small collection of the titles that were kid tested and kid approved at my house.  So many are available inexpensively on Amazon.  And many come in a variety of formats – board books for younger children, hard cover for keepsakes, and soft cover for when they are a little older.

Engine

 

Zoo

 

words

 

jack

 

bear

 

Clothes

Yes, I know I said I tend to avoid giving clothes, but I love these Hanna Andersson sleepers so much I sometimes just have to gift them.  They are a bit pricey, but the quality is always excellent, and the cotton really is the softest.  We own a lot of Hanna Andersson at my house and not one piece has ever worn out – even items that have been handed down three times.  So pick up one of these adorable sleepers in a gender neutral pattern, and know that it will last through kid after kid after kid and wash after wash after wash.  I like the footed ones for babies, and the footless ones for toddlers.

Sleeper 1

 

village

 

After the shower…

Anything personalized makes a great new baby gift.  Sweet gifts include personalized blankets, birthday blocks, and framed birth info (check Etsy for tons of choices).  And of course, gift certificates to local restaurants are great, too.  With a new baby, sometimes take out is a life saver!

Chamois Stroller Blankets from Pottery Barn are lovely, useful and not too expensive.

Chamois Stroller Blankets from Pottery Barn are lovely, useful and not too expensive.

 

Keepsake Birth Blocks by Smiling Tree Toys

Keepsake Birth Blocks by Smiling Tree Toys

 

As always, no affiliate links.  I have linked these items for your convenience. 

 

Things I Love Thursdays

A few of my recent favorites…

1. This post from Like Real Life, one of my favorite mommy blogs (though dangitall, there has to be a less condescending term for a blog that is mostly about parenting and written by a mother).

“It is not all a pleasure, although there are many moments of pleasure. It is not all fun even though there are plenty of fun moments. It’s that all those moments, whether a pleasure or a pain add up to something. It’s an exhausted, messy kind of happiness, like finally crawling up the stairs to bed at night and seeing them sleeping, breathing slowly, their soft little fingers twitching in a dream.”

This speaks to me as a parent, and just as a person.  All our moments add up to something.  They add up to a life.

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2. This Side Table. I have no idea why I love this, but I do.  It won’t go with anything in my house, but I don’t think I care.  (There is a good chance I just used my husband’s credit card to order it. It was on sale!  Merry Christmas to me!)

Sterling Lighting Hexagon Frame Side Table image from Houzz (click on photo to go there).

Sterling Lighting Hexagon Frame Side Table image from Houzz (click on photo to go there).

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3. These customized library totes for kids by SixpencePress.  Because I am a big dork.  I’m contemplating getting these for my 3 dumplings for Christmas.  We love books.  And we love our library.  They’ll be psyched about getting a personalized tote bag instead of a My Little Pony, or 2.5 foot tall Imaginext Ultra T-Rex, right? Who needs toys when you’ve got totes?!

Little Boy Explorer Library Tote by SixpencePress. Click on image for link.

Little Boy Explorer Library Tote by SixpencePress. (You can choose the hair color you want!)

 

Little Reader Bookworm Library Tote by SixpencePress.

Little Reader Bookworm Library Tote by SixpencePress.

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4. My final favorite is this quote by Charlie Chaplin:

You need power only when you want to do something harmful. Otherwise, love is enough to get everything done.

You tell ’em, Charlie.

Image from Charlie Chaplin Official Website

Image from Charlie Chaplin Official Website

 

(As always, links are for your convenience.  None of them are affiliate links.)

Things I Like Thursday

We’ve found some new favorite children’s books at our house.  Thank you Chris Van Dusen!

Fun, bright illustrations, interesting stories, fantastic rhymes my tongue doesn’t stumble over and big, lovely words – no dumbed down stuff here!  – words like kismet, unforeseen, rivulet, and adoration!

The three we’re loving right now are: If I Built a Car, King Hugo’s Huge Ego and Randy Riley’s Really Big Hit.  Boys are probably the intended audience for these books, since they are the main characters, but themes like humility, the value of intelligence, and creativity are gender-less, for sure.

This is one annoying king, that's for sure.  But he is shown the error of his ways in a most terrific way.  Critiques?  The ending kind of rubs me the wrong way - girl falls for former jerk after one apology and promise to mend his ways. But it is a fairy tale after all, and we try to talk out that part of the story.

This is one annoying king, that’s for sure. But he is shown the error of his ways in a most terrific way. Critiques? The ending kind of rubs me the wrong way – girl falls for former jerk after one apology and promise to mend his ways. But it is a fairy tale after all, and we try to talk out that part of the story.

This book showcases imagination, and fun.  Critique?  There isn't much of a narrative - it is mostly just a cool list of the features the main character would include in a car if he got to design one.  But the book encourages kids and adults to think about all the neat features they'd put in their cars or houses if they were not limited by cost or the laws of physics.

This book showcases imagination, and fun. Critique? There isn’t much of a narrative – it is mostly just a cool list of the features the main character would include in a car if he got to design one. But the book encourages kids and adults to think about all the neat features they’d put in their cars or houses if they were not limited by cost or the laws of physics.

Celebrating the value of different talents and abilities!  Randy is terrible at baseball, but really good at other stuff.  The guy with the brains saves the day!

Celebrating the value of different talents and abilities! Randy is terrible at baseball, but really good at other stuff. The guy with the brains saves the day!

Images are the book covers, and are from Chris Van Dusen’s site.  Please click on a cover to link to his site and purchase the books through his Amazon links.

Extra Ordinary.

Today was the best day ever.
It was really that good.

After a much-anticipated 35th birthday celebration dinner cut short by vomit (not mine), and a night woefully short on sleep, my expectations weren’t high.

 

Snooze Cat

Today we did nothing. And a few things.

We puttered.

We played.

We ate.

We avoided the tummy bug we were sure would sweep the 3 members of the family yet unbugged.

My husband broke out the vacuum. I shifted kid clothes. We had pasta for dinner. We wore our PJs far too late into the afternoon (and I am neither going to confirm nor deny whether some of us are still wearing them). We got some of Christmas put away, and didn’t worry about the rest. We read books. We laughed a lot. My husband and son played in the fresh snow in the dark – Pickle coming back inside with a chapped face and blazing ears “Mama, feel this ear! Now Mama, feel this ear!” Plum, feeling better, graced us with toothy grins and some belly laughs at dinner, and invented a new game of “peekaboo” with her brother. Pickle was helpful, sweet and affectionate, often struck by the need to hug and kiss any family member who was in a different room. He woke up from a luxuriously long nap, good-humored and generous and sat to play with Plum, exclaiming unprompted, “I love my sister.”

We had a few firsts, too.  Plum switched from her quick army-style crawl to an all-fours method.  Pickle started referring to me as his “mom” instead of “Mama.”

Everybody napped.

I read a book, uninterrupted, for over an hour.

I read a book, uninterrupted, for over an hour.

We were not in a rush to go anywhere. We were together, happily together. We accomplished enough to feel like the day wasn’t wasted, but were able to overlook the long to-do list of weekends – cleaning, straightening, cooking, shopping, going, doing.

Today was extra ordinary, and extraordinary. And when so many days with young children feel harried, half done, challenging and tiring, I am so grateful for this day.

Tomorrow I will go to work, and will worry about money, time, and whether we will get that tummy bug after all. But tonight, I will climb into my warm bed, read a bit more, and go to sleep with a grateful, rested heart, thankful.