Nugget: Eleven Months


Trust me, Nugget, I can’t believe it either.  I can’t believe that in just one month (from yesterday!) I will have another one year old.  The past eleven months have been the sweetest of my life.  Falling in love with this precious boy, watching him with his sister, and getting to know everything about his sweet little spirit – he is such a joy and such a gift and he has made us feel so complete.  These past eleven months have also been the fastest of my life.  I know I say it every month, but I really don’t know where the time is going.  I feel like he just got here, and yet here I am making calls to book his first birthday party.  How is that possible?


This month, more than any other month, Nugget has really been into everything.  He’s officially crawling now (sniff – my baby!) and he is using his newfound mobility and skill to explore every inch of the house.  With a particular emphasis on anything he should not have, of course.  If it lights up, he pokes it.  If it seems electronic, he bites it.  If it’s battery powered or seems likely to make a big noise, he throws it across the room.  This is new territory for me, because aside from floor vents, Peanut wasn’t interested in getting into much of anything at this age.  She was happy to sit with a book and a stuffed bear, looking like the world’s most perfect princess.  Not so Nugget; the man is on the move.


If you asked Nugget what the biggest milestone of the month would be, I’m pretty sure this would be his answer – riding in the cart at Target and Wegmans!  Until recently I have either worn him in the Ergo or plopped him, still in the car seat, into the basket of the cart.  But lately the Ergo has seemed like too much effort for a quick run into the stores, and the car seat just plain takes up all the room.  So I tried Nugget in the seat and he loves it.  He shouts and giggles and claps and checks out all of the faces and colors around him, and he has an absolute ball.  He also likes to turn around and try to climb over the back rest, and because he’s so small, he can usually wiggle himself into all kinds of precarious shopping cart positions.  It has certainly made Target runs an adventure.


Other milestones this month have been less fun – Nugget’s first house move, for one.  See all those boxes behind him?  That’s his new reality.  Not that he minds.  Boxes are just more things to climb on and explore!  It’s been tougher on Mom than on baby – as much as I knew the house wasn’t a good fit for us, and that we needed the change, bidding goodbye to his nursery was tough.  I poured so much love into that room, and I miss it – the happy green walls, the friendly woodland creatures gathered along the wall above the crib, the bright sunlight flooding the picture window, and the cozy Berber carpet…  I know the move was the right thing to do, and that eventually we’ll find our perfect situation and it’ll involve an even better room for him.  But that one was his first – it was the room where I rocked him and fed him as a newborn, where he laughed at his sister spinning around, where I hung pictures and decals that I had carefully chosen even before I met him.


Sniff.  It’s not weird that I don’t miss the house, but I do miss his room… is it?


Another challenging milestone – Mom’s first night away from baby.  And a week later, second.  I had some travel this month that took me away for two nights (separated by about six days) and while I knew that he was in good hands with Dad, I was a mess.  I missed the little guy so much.  When Peanut was a baby I was working a job that required a lot of business travel, and I got used to it.  But this was the first time in eleven months that I have spent a night away from Nugget, and we both needed some extra cuddles when I got home.

Nugget at 11 Months:

Weight: 18 lbs, 4 oz (this is an approximation, guys – there was a LOT of playing when I weighed him this month).

Height:  28.5 inches – does that sound right? What was he last month? I can’t remember and he never really cooperates.

Clothing Size: I think I have to bite the bullet and admit to myself that he’s in twelve months now.  His nine month clothes are looking short in the torso, the legs, the sleeves – all around.


Sleep: This has been a rough one, this month.  Nugget has never been a great sleeper (the proof is in the archives) and between teething, the ten month sleep regression, and a new environment, he’s become a complete maniac at night.  He goes to bed relatively easily most nights (touch wood) but he’s killing me with wakeups.  A few nights before his birthday, he woke up four times.  I don’t remember him waking up that much even in the newborn days.  Part of the problem is that he is able to get himself into all kinds of situations – involuntary tummy time, sitting up in the crib, kneeling on his knees and holding the bars, or leg through the slats – but he doesn’t yet have the skills to get himself out of them, so he has to call for a rescue.  Every ninety minutes.  You’re killin’ me, Smalls!


Likes: The stairs, anything he’s not supposed to play with, anything dangerous.  Rubber duckies.  Perfectly smooth purees.  (No chunks, please, Mom.  And who do you think you’re going to feed those quartered blueberries to?  Maybe Peanut will eat them.)  And speaking of Peanut – Peanut!  Especially at bedtime, first thing in the morning, and all day long – she’s the coolest!


Dislikes: When Mommy leaves the room, anytime, but especially at bedtime.  He has a particular cry for disappearing Mommy, and it can only be described as indignant.  He’s always been very attached to me, which I love.  But sometimes I have to put him down (for instance, it’s hard to get dressed while holding him… I’ve done it, but it’s a challenge).  And he lets me know that he is not happy about that.    Sometimes Mommy’s arms are the only place you can be, amirite?  Oh, another thing we learned this month that Nugget dislikes: having Valentine’s Day photos taken.  Oof.


Favorite Toys: When it comes to actual toys, this hasn’t changed.  He still loves cars and trucks and things that go, and anything hard – like Mega Bloks (basically, Legos for babies).  Still has no use for soft friends or cuddly toys.  But even more than his beloved fleet, Nugget’s favorite toys this month were… not-toys.  Dad’s xBox controller!  The remote!  An envelope!  Newsprint!  Empty diaper wipe containers!  The cable box!  If he wasn’t supposed to play with it, he was ALL ABOUT IT.  And that extends to anything that belongs to his sister.  Nugget especially loves to grab and shake her fairy tale puzzle box, which – of course – fills her with rage.  But when she takes her nap… par-TAY.

Milestones: See above – so many!  Crawling, and beginning to pull up.  More teeth – he has four now.  And his first house move.  It was quite a month.

Quirks: I’ve said this in the past, but it bears repeating.  Nugget is a kisser.  He has started to restrain himself a little bit, but sometimes the love and enthusiasm know no bounds.  Until recently he has reserved all his toothy, slobbery love for me (I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit gleeful at being the favorite – Peanut is such a Daddy’s girl that I was feeling a bit the third wheel, until Nugget came along loving only ME) but lately he has become more of an equal opportunity affection giver.  Steve walked in on Nugget having a moment with the student teacher’s face in his classroom (haha! poor girl) and the next day I asked her about it when I picked him up.  “Oh, yes,” she told me, “He kisses everyone!  Me, the other teachers, the kids!  If any of his friends get too close he grabs them and kisses them!  We joke that he’s little, but he’s dangerous!”  Who would have thought that I would have a baby Casanova on my hands?  Don Juan of the Daycare.


Happy eleven months, my sweet boy!  I can’t believe you’re almost one.  You’ve made life so sweet and so joyful.  Thanks for choosing us.


Day-ummmmm, you guys!  I’m sitting down to write a disgustingly overdue post showing you my ten favorite books read in 2015, and I honestly don’t know how I’m going to choose.  As usual, my first instinct was to look at my Goodreads stats and see which books I’d rated the highest – five stars.  Usually that gives me a pretty good indication of my top ten list… but not for 2015.  In 2015, I had so many five-star books, that I honestly don’t know, sitting here and writing this introductory paragraph, how I’m going to narrow it down to just ten favorites.  If you’d asked me last year at this time – in the throes of a reading slump – if I thought I’d be in this position at the end of 2015 (or – cough – beginning of 2016) I’d have said you were nuts.  Yet here we are, 2015 was a ridiculously good reading year, and I’m actually having a hard time deciding which were the best of the best.

In any event, somehow I’ve got the list whittled down to ten (-ish; I’ve cheated a bit, as you’ll see below, but I know my friends will forgive me).  Again, these are books read in 2015.  Some of them were also published in 2015, but not all.  So here, in no specific order, are my top ten, best of the best, ultimate favorites from a really, really great year in books:

crossing to safety Crossing to Safety, by Wallace Stegner – I’d been meaning to read Stegner since at least 2007 (when a friend with great taste told me she loved his books) and now I just wish it hadn’t taken me so long.  Crossing to Safety was a quiet but deceptively dramatic novel about friendship, and how it ebbs and flows through life’s changing seasons, and the mark that really deep friendship leaves on all of us.  I was astounded.

overwhelmed Overwhelmed: Work, Play and Love When No One Has the Time, by Brigid Schulte – Seems like an odd pick, but Overwhelmed is the book that I can’t stop thinking about.  Schulte writes about that delicate balance we’re all trying to strike, between work, love, and leisure – how we fall short, how to do it better, and how the odds are stacked against us.  She’s an incredible writer – she brought me to tears describing the causes and consequences of America’s broken child care system – but the real reason that this book resonated with me so powerfully was that every.single.word seemed to speak directly to my life.  Schulte is a working mom, like me – but if that’s not you, it doesn’t matter and you should still read Overwhelmed.  Anyone who is busy, and that’s everybody I know, will find useful information in here.

dead wake Dead Wake, by Erik Larson – Dead Wake was the book that busted me out of my reading slump in early 2015.  Larson’s history of the last crossing of the Lusitania was absolutely masterful.  He sets the stage with foreboding – as I told Steve, the image of the Lusitania chugging out of New York Harbor with smoke pouring out of only three smokestacks was one of the most chilling images of my entire 2015 in books.  And the crescendo toward which he builds is fierce, dramatic, and heart-pounding.  It’s history at its best, and it kept me feverishly turning pages even with a newborn in the house.

lumberjanes Lumberjanes, Vol. 1 and 2, by Noelle Stevenson – Until I picked up Lumberjanes, I swore I would never read comics, that the medium just wasn’t for me.  Jo, April, Mal, Molly, Ripley, Jen and Rosie changed all that.  I loooooooooved their adventures – mythical monsters! anagrams! math! dinosaurs! three-eyed foxes! weird old ladies! creepy boy scouts!  These comics were fun, hilarious, and so smart.  I can’t wait for the third volume.  Ripley is my favorite – “I was a fastball!”  Lumberjanes is fun TO THE MAX.

the elephant whisperer The Elephant Whisperer, by Lawrence Anthony – My mom recommended The Elephant Whisperer after her entire book club loved it, and I can see why – Lawrence Anthony’s memoir of his time gaining the trust of a “rogue” elephant herd was moving and powerful.  Anthony agrees to take the herd onto his game reserve after it becomes clear that he’s their last hope.  He has to throw out the book and learn to relate to the herd on their own terms, and it’s absolutely riveting.

the royal we The Royal We, by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan – This is Will and Kate fanfiction, and it is AMAZING.  Another one that kept me turning pages instead of napping when my newborn napped, so you know it was good.  The Royal We is the story of Nick, second in line to the British throne, and Bex, his American fiancee.  The best part?  When the future King of England signs off a conversation with his soon-to-be girlfriend’s dad by solemnly telling him, “Go Cubs.”  It’s fun and fabulous and, as my friend Katie mused, unexpectedly moving.  There are few books I’ve wanted as badly as I want a sequel to The Royal We.

in the unlikely event In the Unlikely Event, by Judy Blume – Blume’s first adult novel in some 17 years, In the Unlikely Event is a fictionalized account of real events that happened when Blume was a teenager and a series of planes crashed in her hometown of Elizabeth, New Jersey, in the span of just a few months.  Because this is Judy Blume, the cast of characters is massive – but you’ll get everyone sorted out quickly, and you’ll come to care about all of them.  I rooted for Miri and her friends, I got a sickening feeling when I could tell they were about to get bad news (Judy Blume does foreshadowing as well as Erik Larson does it) and I cried as the whole town grieved tragedy after tragedy.  It sounds like an insanely depressing book, and parts of it were, but it was uplifting and fascinating too, and I couldn’t stop turning the pages.

persepolis The Complete Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi – Satrapi’s graphic memoir of her time growing up in Iran was moving, horrifying in parts, and completely illuminating.  I’ve always been intrigued by stories of growing up in foreign countries, and Iran is one of the most closed societies, hard for Americans to picture.  Enter Satrapi.  Her black and white illustrations perfectly conveyed the story, and I was completely riveted by her life story.

brown girl dreaming Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson – Gorgeous.  Gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous memoir in poetry by an insanely talented young adult writer.  Woodson writes of growing up as a person of color in both the North and the South, feeling like she didn’t belong in either world, and finally finding a home in Harlem.  I read Brown Girl Dreaming on vacation this summer and finished it in a day – but it took up prime real estate in my brain for much longer than that.  I loved every one of Woodson’s poems, but the one about her grandfather’s garden was my very favorite.  I could feel the sun-baked soil and taste the warm products of Daddy’s labor and it was so beautiful.

sorcerer to the crown Sorcerer to the Crown, by Zen Cho – I first heard of Cho’s debut novel on the All the Books! podcast, when Rebecca Schinsky raved about it.  My taste doesn’t always collide with Rebecca’s, but it did here – I devoured it.  Cho has built an alternate Victorian England that is awash in color and teeming with magic, and her diverse cast moves through the world gracefully.  I recommended the book to my BFF (another Rebecca!) and she’s loving it on audio right now.  Everyone should read Sorcerer to the Crown!

So there you have it – my best of the best in 2015!  I started off a bit slow, but in the end I had a great reading year.  As you can see, I cheated a little – including both trade volumes of Lumberjanes that are currently out, but I think that’s okay because the first story arc covers both volumes, so there.  Really, it was a marvelous year, I read so many wonderful books, and the best part was that I got to turn hundreds of pages right here…


How about you – what were some of the best books you read in 2015?


Annnnnnnnd… exhale.  We’re moved.  It’s not the end of this crazy moving journey – there are at least one, maybe two more moves ahead of us before we finally find our forever home, and I’m hoping that we won’t be in our current situation for long.  But we’ve earned a brief respite and a sigh of relief.  After some last-minute histrionics by our buyers (that ended in us insisting that they sign a general release, because the trust on our side was absolutely gone) we made it through the closing and we’re officially free of a house that, while it is a lovely house, had proven to just not be right for us.  And now we’re back to living in a sea of boxes again – but it feels like we’ve cleared a major hurdle.

I’m still swamped with work and running around, so haven’t had much time for reading.  But what I have read has been good – really good.

the immortal life of henrietta lacks  welcome to braggsville

Last week I finally got around to reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.  I’ve been meaning to read it forever and had made more mental notes than I can count of the fact that my in-laws had it on their bookshelf.  So after months and months of thinking, “I really want to read that; I should borrow it from Dad and Lynn,” I grabbed it off their shelf while we were staying with them for a few nights mid-move.  And WOW – I could not put it down.  I read it in a few days and would have finished it faster were it not for pesky adulting constantly getting in the way of my reading time.  Henrietta Lacks should be required reading for all humans.  I knew the basic backstory, so I knew I would be horrified and astonished, and I was.  After I finished Henrietta Lacks I had a major book hangover for a day or so, then picked up Welcome to Braggsville.  (My Black History Month reading is on point, you guys.)  I’m about sixty pages in now and just starting to pick up steam – the writing is excellent but the style is a little different from my usual reads, so it took some getting used to, but I’m in it now.

Reading plans for this week – more Braggsville, and pushing Henrietta Lacks onto Steve if I can.  After I finish Braggsville I think I’m going to pick up the first volume of March, by Representative John Lewis, for more Black History Month reading.  And then it’ll be back to We That Are Left, which I have out from the library, and The High Mountains of Portugal, the new Yann Martel (!!!) which I have on hold.  I’m all library, all the time for the foreseeable future, since pretty much all of my books are in storage and I’m trying not to buy myself new books if I can restrain myself – it’s just more to move, and I know we’re going to be moving again in less than a year.  But I discovered as I was looking for my new grocery store that our townhouse is less than a mile from a Barnes & Noble, so there’s that.  So far I’ve managed to stay away, but it’s only been a week.

On the blog this week: the long-overdue Part II of my bookish 2015 recaps (top ten books read last year; just bookish superlatives left to do after that) on Wednesday and Nugget’s penultimate monthly recap on Friday.  Can you believe he’s turning eleven months old?!  Because I can’t.

What have you been reading lately?


We squeezed in our last and final hike of 2015 on Boxing Day at Tifft Nature Preserve!  It felt good to get outside into the fresh air, move our feet, and just decompress, breathe and be together after all the holiday craziness and oh-no-we-forgot and can-you-believe-she, etc.  I actually felt that hiking on Boxing Day was the most Christmassy part of our Christmas.  We cut through the insanity and the sugar and just focused on each other.  It was so nice.


As you can see, Peanut was promoted to full big-kid hiker on this outing!  No backpack – she’s all grown up.  We’ll probably still use it for longer or more technically challenging hikes, but it was good to know that we were able to let her hike on her own and still get a good walk in.  Following directions isn’t her strong suit right now (hey, she’s three) but she did surprisingly well.  I was proud of her.


Nugget was bundled up in his snowsuit and hanging out in his customary spot – the Ergo.


Knowing that we had a small hiker on foot, we decided to cut to the chase, hit our favorite spots and then get going.  Better to keep it short and sweet than to drag out a hike past Peanut’s tolerance and end up negotiating a tantrum on the trail.


Obviously, the boardwalk is the most essential spot to visit!  I love wetlands and this spot reminds me of some boardwalk hiking that we used to do in a few favorite spots in Virginia.


Such a serene spot!  I love Tifft.


We got a special treat on our walk back toward the car – sightings of a few friends!  Some deer:


And a whole flock of black-capped chickadees!


(I wish I’d gotten a better picture.  I will really miss having Nugget in the Ergo when the time comes to transition him to the backpack, but one consolation will be that I’ll be able to use my big camera and my zoom lens again on our walks!  Expect lots of bird pictures when that day comes.)


We had such a fun time walking in Tifft on Boxing Day.  We’ve spent so much time there and it’s grown to be one of my favorite Buffalo spots.  (Funny coincidence – a few weeks ago we attended a birthday party at Tifft and Nugget wore the same little foxy pajamas he’s got on in these pictures!  I guess that’s his Tifft uniform.)

Full circle!  Part of me can’t believe that we actually found a way to hit the trails at least once in every month, in a different spot, all year long.  It was definitely a commitment.  But having made that goal really helped when we occasionally got to the last weekend in a month – we knew we had to get out there, and we were never sorry that we did.  As for whether I’m going to repeat the goal this year and try to hike in twelve different spots, the answer is – nope.  Sadly, I think we’ve pretty much exhausted most of the reasonable family-friendly hikes in our area.  There might be a few places we haven’t been yet, but not enough to support another year of trying to hike in a different place every month.  Of course that doesn’t mean we’re quitting hiking – on the contrary!  It’s our favorite way to relax and be active together as a family, so you can expect lots more hiking talk and pictures of our outdoor adventures to come, just not in quite such a structured way.  And as for our project to hike in one park in all four seasons, I think we are going to try to do that again, and we’re thinking of Sprague Brook Park.  So stay tuned!


Here’s to adventure!  Happy trails, my friends.


Reading Round-Up Header

Reading is my oldest and favorite hobby.  I literally can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t love to curl up with a good book.  Here are my reads for January, 2016

The Hundred Year House, by Rebecca Makkai – A story told in reverse, The Hundred Year House begins around present day, where Doug and Zee Grant are living in the guest house just a few hundred feet from Laurelfield, Zee’s ancestral residence, which used to be an arts colony.  The house has all sorts of secrets, which are gradually revealed to the characters in subsequent acts that move progressively back through time.  I enjoyed many things about The Hundred Year House – the structure was novel (pun intended) and the writing atmospheric – but felt that it was a bit sluggish in parts.  Still a good read, and a good start to 2016.

When I Was a Child I Read Books, by Marilynne Robinson – More Robinson essays to start the year off on a cerebral note!  Robinson’s mind is a truly awe-inspiring wonder.  These essays – like those in The Givenness of Things, which I read in December – blend theology, culture, and American history and politics into a fascinating meditation on the United States and all its complexities.  I found When I Was a Child to be a bit easier to follow than The Givenness of Things, but it was still a wonderfully challenging read.

Fables, Vol. 4: March of the Wooden Soldiers, by Bill Willingham – In this fourth volume, Fabletown is under attacks both internal and external.  A refugee turns up from the Homelands – for the first time in more than a century – claiming to be Red Riding Hood.  But is she?  Meanwhile, the Adversary has sent an army of soldiers into the Mundy world to attack Fabletown, and they’re… different.  And Prince Charming, devious and scheming as usual, is running for Mayor.  Will he oust King Cole, and with him Snow White and Bigby Wolf?  Lots of drama and excitement in the fourth installment – I loved it.

The Color of Magic (Discworld, #1), by Terry Pratchett – I wanted to pick up the Discworld novels after Andy Weir raved about them on the “Reading Lives” podcast.  The Color of Magic was wildly inventive and absolutely hilarious, and I enjoyed it.  My one complaint was that I found the world-building to be quite convoluted and really difficult to follow.  At times, I would be almost convinced that I understood who was who and what was what, and then the scene would shift, months would have gone by (in the story, that is) and I’d be back at square one.  I think if I continue with the series, it will probably become clearer to me.

Saga, Vol. 1, by Brian K. Vaughan – For as long as anyone can remember, the planet Landfall has been at war with its moon, Wreath.  Because destroying one celestial body will destroy the other, the factions have taken their conflict to other planets and moons around the galaxy, and the war has been long and violent.  Marko, a conscientious objector from Wreath, and Alana, a Landfallian prison guard, have fallen in love and deserted their respective forces.  Now they’re married, and the comic opens as Alana is about to give birth to their daughter, Hazel.  Their joy is short-lived, however, as the authorities on both Landfall and Wreath discover their marriage.  Both sides are determined to seize Hazel and kill her parents.  So, I put off reading this comic for a long time, even though I kept hearing that it was incredible, for a simple reason: the Landfallians have wings.  All kinds of wings – bird wings, bat wings, angel wings… and butterfly and moth wings.  And if you have known me for awhile, you probably know that I hate butterflies and moths.  Like, really loathe them.  Just thinking about them makes me shudder.  So I wasn’t sure I could get past that.  But I hate it when everyone is talking about something and I’m out of the loop, so I tried Saga, with great trepidation.  So far, I can say, the wings haven’t freaked me out too much – Alana’s wings are more akin to dragonfly wings, which don’t bother me – and the one or two pictures involving lepidopter wings have been small enough and unrealistic enough that I’ve been able to ignore them.  And as for the story – it’s incredible.  Some of the art (and I’m not just talking about the wings here) is really disturbing and not for the faint of heart.  But I’m hooked now and I’ve got the second, third and fourth volumes out from the library.  I just hope there aren’t many butterfly wings in those…

Fables, Vol. 5: The Mean Seasons, by Bill Willingham – Well, the votes are in and Prince Charming has ousted King Cole in a landslide.  I’m sure he won’t last, but in the meantime, he’s taken over Fabletown’s government and replaced Snow and Bigby with Beauty and the Beast.  Snow has given birth to her cubs, only one of whom can pass as human, and none of whom can stay in Fabletown – so she and the babies have left the city and moved to the Farm, Fabletown’s upstate annex where all of the Fables who can’t appear human live in varying degrees of peace.  The Farm is the one place where Bigby is not allowed, which means he can’t see his cubs – and he’s not happy about that.  Meanwhile, a mysterious force is attacking Fables, and a new visitor arrives from the Homelands.  There was a lot of transition in this volume, and it’s really fun to see where Willingham is taking these characters.  I do hope that Snow gets those babies under control…

Boxers (Boxers & Saints, #1), by Gene Luen Yang – Yang’s two-part graphic novel tells the story of the Boxer Rebellion from two different perspectives.  Boxers, the first volume, shares the story of Little Bao, who learns kung fu and leads a group of boxers after witnessing the cruelty of the “foreign devils” toward his village and his father.  Little Bao is consumed by hatred for the “foreign devils” and “secondary devils” – Chinese Christians – and although his rebellion starts with a desire to protect the culture of China, it quickly gets out of hand.  Beautifully written and illustrated, but disturbing in parts.

Saints (Boxers & Saints, #2), by Gene Luen Yang – I started this second installment immediately after finishing the first volume, and I read it in one sitting.  Saints focuses on the other side of the Boxer Rebellion – the Chinese Christians who were caught between the foreign missionaries and their fellow countrymen.  This is primarily the story of Vibiana, one of the Chinese Christians, who made a brief cameo in Boxers.  Saints traces Vibiana’s journey from unloved child to Christian convert – her early lessons in the faith, where she sits in the living room of a local acupuncturist who terrifies her, listening to Bible stories merely to get the cookies his wife bakes (and I snorted out loud when Vibiana refers to Jesus as “an acupuncture victim”) to taking refuge with a foreign missionary, holding long conversations with a vision of Joan of Arc, and finally finding herself caught in a Boxer battle.  The ending made me cry – twice.

Saga, Vols. 2, 3 & 4, by Brian K. Vaughan – Lumping these all together for efficiency’s sake.  Toward the end of the month I went on a Saga bender and read three volumes in about 24 hours.  A lot happens as the series continues to unfold – Marko, Alana and their family take refuge on the planet Quietus for a brief time, but they are still being hunted by Prince Robot IV (on behalf of the Landfallians) and Gwendolyn and The Will, along with the slave girl The Will has rescued and named Sophie (on behalf of the Wreaths).  This is a really interesting, strange, disturbing, and often funny space opera.  IV and The Will are clearly the antagonists, but you sympathize with them – IV wants to finish this mission so he can get home to his pregnant wife, and The Will is surprisingly tender – for a feared bounty hunter – at least when it comes to Sophie and his pet, Lying Cat.  (Lying Cat is SO awesome.)  Of course you’re still rooting against IV and The Will, and rooting for Marko and Alana, but it’s complicated. At the end of Volume 4, Marko and Alana have split up – temporarily, I’m sure – and Marko has made an alliance with an enemy to try to get his family back.  I can’t wait to see what happens in Volume 5 (looks like Sophie gets glasses! can she be any cuter?) and I won’t have to wait long, because I’ve got it out from the library now.

January was a really busy month on the work and home fronts.  We spent most of our spare time packing up for our move at the end of the month, and we’re just now coming up for air.  We close on the house in a few days and I am crossing my fingers that it goes off without a hitch (or without any more hitches than we’ve already had, at least).  Steve and I have been like ships in the night – mostly me holding down the fort with the kids while he pulls double shifts between his regular job and getting the house completely cleaned out and ready for closing.  We are living in a sea of boxes in our little townhouse and I’m trying to unpack little by little, while hoping, at the same time, that we won’t be here long, and that something more permanent will come our way soon.  But that might explain why this was such a graphic novel-heavy month of reading.  Four volumes of Saga, two volumes of Fables, and the complete Boxers & Saints – yep, the comics definitely dominated this month.  And only two books – Boxers & Saints – by a person of color.  So not the best percentage to start the year off, but I’m keeping track and focusing on that goal and I’m sure I will get caught up.  

What did you read in January?


Happy February!  It’s the month of love!  I try to find something good in each month and in February I’m all about L-O-V-E and sharing it with my family – especially my sweet babies – and friends.  I’m already plotting adorable crafts for Nugget to do for his first Valentine’s Day.

Anyway, I’m doing something a little different today.  Usually I share a few reflections on the week that’s just passed and talk about what I’ve been reading and what I’m planning to read next, but today I’m going to link up with Anne over at Modern Mrs. Darcy and share what’s saving my life.  As Anne explains, most of us know what’s killing us, but how often do we take time to reflect on (and feel grateful for) what’s saving our lives?  Not often enough.  You already know what’s killing me – another move, an overloaded calendar on both the work and personal fronts, toddler defiance and newborn exhaustion.  I’m hoping that at least some of that is about to change.  We’re basically though the move, although we’re now living in a sea of partially unpacked boxes that I don’t have time to tackle, and I’m crossing my fingers for a slightly lighter schedule after about mid-February.  (Not too light, mind you – it’s always better to be busy when you work in a law firm – but at least more manageable.)  But with all that’s killing me, here’s what’s saving my life:

  • Cuddles with my sweet baby.  I am hyper-aware of the passage of time (it’s one of my less attractive characteristics) and it makes me want to maximize every moment, because there’s always a voice in the back of my head saying “He’ll never be this little again!”  Nugget speaks directly to my heart in ways all his own, and I am soaking up every second of his babyhood.
  • Peanut’s sweet, spontaneous “I love you, Mama!”s.  There’s a chance she is playing me, but I don’t care.  I love it.  Play me like a violin, Peanut.  Play me like a violin.
  • Related: Laughing at the hilarious things Peanut says.  Recently, while dropping her off at school, I noticed that her classroom had a board titled “Helping Hands” on which they were displaying tracings of each of the kids’ hands and a quote from that kid about what he or she could do to help someone else.  Peanut’s quote?  “I can help Baby N stop crying by putting on a fashion show.”  So hilarious, and so Peanut!  I laughed at that one all day long.
  • Rotating through my favorite scarves.  I have more filmy shawls, woven wraps, and infinity scarves than one person really needs, most of them bought from Lou Lou, a boutique in DC that my friend Nancy and I used to visit regularly on our lunch breaks.  I’ve been wearing them more than usual lately – staying cozy while I have fun mixing patterns and stripes (something I rarely do).
  • My friend Zan.  Last week I mentioned that she came over and spent her entire Saturday helping kid-wrangle and pack.  She was so incredibly generous with her time, but that’s Zan.  I don’t always make friends easily, and I’m so grateful I’ve gotten to know her since we moved here.  She has made a tough transition a lot easier.
  • The ladies who work in the cafeteria in my office basement.  I go down there for coffee every morning, and hit the salad bar or grab a cup of soup almost every day for lunch.  (I want to get back to bringing my own lunch to save money, but it’s just one of those things that has fallen by the wayside while life has been so crazy.) I joke that even if I did pack my lunch I’d still have to go downstairs to check in, because they would worry if I didn’t come down!  We chat, they ask about the kids, and they dole out hugs along with sandwiches and breakfast scrambles.  If I tell them I’m under the weather, I inevitably get a peanut butter sandwich and a “Here, honey, I hope it does you good.”  It always does.
  • Fresh flowers from the Wegmans flower department.
  • Scrolling through iPhone pictures and videos I’ve taken of the kids.  I can’t get enough of their sweet faces, and looking at them is my favorite quick reward during the day before I move from one task to the next.
  • Podcasts!  I have been loving listening on my car rides to and from work each day.  I really enjoy the podcasts from Book Riot – the Book Riot podcast, All the Books!, Reading Lives, Dear Book Nerd and Oh, Comics! – and others like Bookrageous and Tosche Station Radio, but can’t listen in front of the kids, because occasionally they say words like “sucks” or “crap,” which I don’t want Peanut repeating at school.  So I’ve found a few family-friendly podcasts to mix in, including Sorta Awesome, Read Aloud Revival, and Travel with Rick Steves, and the kids and I listen to those, and then I squeeze in my grownup podcasts when I’m alone in the car.  (I’m particularly obsessed with Tosche Station Radio.  An entire podcast about Star Wars?  Come ON!  I want to be friends with Brian and Nanci.)
  • My other car listening – definitely not when the kids are in the car – is the “Hamilton” soundtrack.  It’s pretty much playing on repeat in my head at all times these days.  (“The man is non-STOP!”)  And the show is now on my bucket list, right up there with “Book of Mormon,” which I still have not seen.  I’m following Lin-Manuel Miranda on Twitter and loving all the cool tidbits he shares about the show.
  • Supergirl.  I’m not a big TV watcher, but every so often a show comes along that Steve and I both fall immediately head-over-heels for, and Supergirl is one.  In a season in which we’ve been like ships passing in the night a lot of the time, at least we can count on a weekly hour curled up on the couch together watching Kara and James and Creepster McFriendZone and Alex and Hank and Cat.  (Who else kind of loves Cat the most?  After Kara, of course.  I just can’t help it – I adore her.  She’s so snarky and fabulous.  I mean… “That handsome little hobbit who has more cardigans than you do.”  Dead.)
  • Revisiting my summer pictures.  I recently pressed “order” on our 2016 family yearbook (after several evenings creating and editing it when I should have been doing other things) and looking back over our summer pictures made me so happy.  We had such a great one.    There are a few pictures in particular that I can’t stop going back to over and over.  A picture of the ocean I snapped on vacation in Hatteras.  Peanut picking blueberries (kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk).  Nugget asleep in the Ergo at East Aurora Food Trucks ‘n Fire Trucks, his little “happy” hat turned backwards on his head.  I look at those pictures, and I feel warm all over.
  • Good books, as always.  Disappearing between the pages – there’s nothing like it.

What’s saving your life these days?

diverse kidlit

Last year I loved having a project to follow all through the year – checking in each month with details of our family hikes was so much fun – and I’ve decided that 2016 calls for another long-term blogging project.  Since this is the year that I’m working on expanding my reading horizons and reading more diverse books, I thought it would be a natural fit to talk about some of the diverse books I’m also reading with my kids.  I believe that no age is too young to talk about the wonderful differences between all the people that make our world so magnificent.  So each month, I plan to feature a different children’s book celebrating diversity in its many forms.  I’ll showcase books that talk about racial diversity, religious and cultural differences, feminism and more.  I hope that my readers like this feature.  Comments and book recommendations are welcome, of course, but – as always! – let’s keep the chat respectful.  Now, enough chatter – January’s diverse kidlit title is…


Two Friends, by Dean Robbins

Based on a true story of the friendship between Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass, Two Friends imagines these two pioneers of justice sitting down together for tea in Susan’s parlor on a snowy evening in Rochester, New York.  The book begins by describing the obstacles that both Anthony and Douglass faced – in Anthony’s case, because of her sex, and in Douglass’s case, because of the color of his skin.


Young Susan grows up wanting to learn everything that boys can learn, but she is not allowed to – because she’s a girl.


Young Frederick, born into slavery, teaches himself to read and begins to question why he should be denied rights that others enjoy.

Frederick and Susan grow up and begin to speak out, exposing the fallacies of a system that suborns people based on their sex or race.  While some people liked hearing what Susan and Frederick had to say, as Two Friends (simply and starkly) puts it, “others didn’t.”


Two Friends pictures Susan and Frederick – who really were friends – sitting down together to discuss their plans to change minds and raise awareness of issues of inequality and injustice…


As soon as they finish their tea.

Two Friends is a gorgeous book.  The illustrations are eye-catching and beautiful, and the text provides a wonderful introduction to important debates we have had throughout our history – while it does not sugar-coat the issues of injustice, it is simple enough for very young children to understand.  Older children will almost certainly have some questions about the text – why couldn’t Susan learn what boys learned? why couldn’t Frederick vote? – and those questions will open the door for parents to begin explaining important issues in ways that children can understand.

What books do you use to introduce your children to difficult concepts?


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