Wednesday, February 15, 2017

What I've Been Reading Lately

We experienced the mother of all tragedies recently, my library account was suspended. One of my kids lost a book. After weeks of fruitless searching, it was discovered in our own home. How this is possible, I can not even begin to tell you. Nonetheless, reading was light while tempers (mine) flared high. 

Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between) by [Graham, Lauren]

Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between), Lauren Graham
I came late to the Gilmore Girls and Parenthood scene, but I eagerly awaited the Gilmore Girls A Year in a Life. And I really enjoy Lauren Graham. I listened to this on audio (she reads it herself). It's certainly not heavy reading but it was enjoyable. Apparently my knowledge of Hollywood trivia is extremely lacking because I found out that she was in a relationship with Peter Krause (her brother, Adam, on Parenthood) since the show. What??

The Martian: A Novel by [Weir, Andy]

Anything even a little bit sci-fi like is not my usual genre. But I flew through this book about an astronaut left on Mars. All of the science/math stuff made this book even more enjoyable (even if I didn't understand it). I haven't seen the movie (and am not sure that I will), so I have no thoughts on that, but the book is truly excellent.  

West with the Night by [Markham, Beryl]

Due to the above-mentioned library card saga, I bought this on Kindle when it was less than 20 cents thanks to the Modern Mrs. Darcy Kindle deals (it no longer is, I'm very sorry to report). I'm still reading it, but, man, what a story. It's a memoir about a British-born woman who goes on to become a bush pilot in Kenya. 

It's lovely, like nothing else I've ever read, and, to boot, the words dance like music across the page. 

Friday, February 10, 2017

A Life Lesson on Perspective

I kind of hate the word perspective. People mostly use it to tell you that you should be doing something differently than you already are. My first reaction is to want to tell people to take their perspective and shove it. At an angle, of course, so that it has, wait for it, perspective. 

Perspective is often explained in terms of a glass half empty/half full. But that's so over-simplified. 

I prefer Mary Oliver's words, even if they are hard to swallow and even tougher to chew: "Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. I took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift."

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Teaching Children to Appreciate Quiet in A Noisy World

Little girl running in the field

A teacher recently told me that she had several students in her class that hum. All day long. "Can you imagine?" she asked. 

I can not. I really, really can not. 

I like quiet. A lot. I want my children to like quiet. A lot. 

I write about teaching children to appreciate quiet here.  

Monday, February 6, 2017

The Wisdom of Mothers (and Grandmothers)

To find the wisdom of the ages, you need look no further than my grandmother. My Nana was wise... and quirky. She liked frugality and a good saying. I inherited the phrase, "A little dab will do" from her. 

More rememberings of my Nana here

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Things Saving My Life Right Now

This winter has been cold and wet - and wet and cold. I'm ready for the sun and (despite the above picture) I live in a fairly temperate climate!

Modern Mrs. Darcy does a yearly What's Saving My Life Right Now post. I linked up last year and am glad to be doing so again this year.

Here are the things making me smile even when Old Man Weather doesn't.

1. Cordless Bluetooth Earbuds - I used to think that these were for athletes. Then I got a pair. I don't use them for working out or other sports-related activities (except walking). But I do use them to wash dishes and other household tasks, and I love not getting tangled up in the cords or worse the phone falling out of my pocket.  Bonus: These do a better job of blocking outside noise than the corded ones.

Image result for pink panther

2. Transition Music - For me, the hardest part of going anywhere with kids is getting out the door.  I've tried giving 2-minute warnings, setting timers, etc. and while these can be effective, for us they weren't effective enough.

So, I decided to take a page from the teachers playbook. Now I play our "We're Leaving" song every time we need to get out the door. It's wonderful - I don't even have to say anything. As soon as the opening notes come on,  everyone knows to get up and go! I chose the Pink Panther song because it's music only and long enough for everyone to get coats, book bags, etc. We use another song for bath time.

Natural Vitality Natural Calm Magnesium Anti Stress, Organic, Raspberry Lemon, 16 oz

3. Natural Calm -  Even though this was previously on my radar, I had associated it with anxiety, which I don't suffer from. But recently I heard someone raving about it, so I took a closer look. It's actually marketed as an "anti-stress drink and magnesium supplement." I've been using it and when I'm feeling overwhelmed, it really takes the edge off.

I bought mine at the local health food store. If you just want to try it and don't want to spring for the big container, look at the displays in the checkout lines. I found  single-serve sizes there.

4. My Electric Blanket - I got one from Costco a few months back and I've used it almost every day. It has a three-hour shut off, but I stay cozy all night long.

Friday, January 20, 2017

A Sports Book For Non-Sports Lovers

I don't like sports. Not even a little bit. But I married someone who loves sports and I now have children who think the highlight of the week is Sunday Night Football. The only reason I like football is because if they're all watching it, I have more time to read uninterrupted.

But while I don't like sports, I also don't want to be excluded from my kids' interests. And one of my children is very interested in sports. He plays. He watches. He reads books about sports. He checks the stats and scores daily (even when he's not supposed to). He asks me to shoot hoops and throw the football with him,  nonstop. Although I trip over my feet just getting out of bed, I do these things with him.

I say "no" a lot. I'm not good at basketball. I don't genuinely enjoy playing football. But I DO enjoy my son and I DO enjoy getting to spend time with him. Even though he laughs at my skills, I know he appreciates my willingness and my effort.  And I appreciate his innocence when he asks me questions like, "Mommy, can you dunk?"

No, baby. This book nerd who almost wiped out in a courtroom by tripping over the strap of her own briefcase (twice), can not dunk. If you need someone who can at least come close to the net, go ask your father. 

Still, I like it when my and my son's interests intersect - and they recently did. We listened to Kwame Alexander's The Crossover on audio and loved it. As the cover suggests, it's a book about basketball. (You can also glean that from the title if you know what a crossover is. I didn't until I listened to the book.) But while basketball is the primary theme, it's also a book about fathers and sons and life.

I liked that the junior high boys in the book could be a little mouthy. As a mother to two sons, not only did I find it true to life, but I appreciated hearing how other parents handled big-mouthed kids. Even if they are fictional parents.

If you have a young sports enthusiast in your life and you're looking for common ground, check out The Crossover. It'll be a crowdpleaser.

Because it's written in verse, it's especially great to listen to. The cadence is truly wonderful. (I have a real thing for cadence.) But, a word of advice, if you choose the audio and keep listening after you drop your kids off at school, make sure you accurately note the group's stopping point. Otherwise, you'll get busted for listening ahead.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Do You Have a Clean Desk?

Do you have a clean desk? I don't. No matter how hard I try, my desk always ends up piled high. But my mess is organized chaos. I know what each pile represents, and, more importantly, what's in it. 

I admire people who don't consider their work finished for the day until they have a cleared-off work space. But I've come to accept that I'm just not one of those people - I operate successfully with paperwork piles.  (I'm also an email hoarder. The idea of a zero inbox chills my very soul; I can't tell you the number of times I've needed a years-old email.)

My tolerance for a messy desk is a bit of a puzzler given that clutter in other parts of my life drives me batty. In particular, kitchen clutter puts me in a very bad mood. And an unhappy cook is rarely a good cook. 

Whenever I feel a bit embarrassed about the state of my work space, I thank Einstein for his messy desk blessing. 

“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?
-- Einstein