It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (July 6, 2020)

Morning, friends.  How were your holiday weekends?  We were pretty low-key around here.  Steve was tied up last week in depositions and was actually out of town for a few days – don’t worry, he was a very good boy, he wore his mask and was careful to socially distance – so by the weekend, I was pretty fried from spending most of the week on solo parenting duty while working.  He’s still super-busy; I’m in a lull for the moment, but my workload is set to come roaring back after this week, so basically, we’re just swimming as frantically as we can to try to keep from going completely underwater.

Anyway, the weekend was pretty nice.  There was some social time, which was a treat after being starved for human interaction for so long.  On Thursday the kids and I drove back to Alexandria and hung out at my dear Zoya’s house for awhile.  The kids played JENGA while Zoya and I talked as hard as we could about the neighborhood birds, Sir Smokes-a-lot (the most reviled resident of Zoya’s street), my new garden, her family – every subject we could squeeze into an hour-long visit.  She fed the kids Persian crackers and sparkling water, and then Nugget smashed an object that turned out to be an ancient fertilized chicken egg that Zoya found while digging by the side of the road and – as I said to Steve, of course she brought it home and put it on her windowsill, because Zoya’s gotta Zoy.  And then on Friday we had a fun family outing to Great Falls Park to visit with Peanut’s bestie and her dad.  They brought a picnic blanket, snacks and a big purple kickball; we contributed blueberry cornmeal mini-muffins fresh out of the oven.  I missed BFF’s mom (my pal Rachel), who had to work – boo.  But the girls had a grand time throwing the kickball to each other and “gossiping” – seriously, are they seven or twenty-seven? – while the dads compared “quarantine hair” from a safe distance of six feet away from each other and Nugget and I spotted a hawk, a Great Blue heron, and a bunch of vultures.

On Saturday, we headed out for a family hike at Seneca Regional Park.  We tried a different trail this time and hiked down to the Potomac – there were a lot of cars in the parking lot, but we barely saw a soul on the trails, since this is such a big park.  No owls this time; I guess they were scared away by the kids’ constant loud bickering.  (I feel ya, owls.)  We had a grilled dinner, of course, and that was it – pretty laid-back Independence Day.  Sunday was an around-the-house kind of day.  I made a run to Target to pick up a few more things that have popped up on the “buy for the house” list, fiddled with my bird feeder setup, and did a few organizing projects around the house.  I was tired and droopy all day – it’s been hard to fall asleep and stay asleep lately and I’m a little ragged.  Not looking forward to another full workweek of juggling my job and my feral lockdown children.

Reading.  Are you tired of seeing these Lumberjanes covers yet?  I’ll probably read something else this week, now that my books are unpacked (if not organized).  But I figured that I’ve come this far so I may as well get through all of the comics.  I finished volume 13, Indoor Recess, midweek, and volume 14, X Marks the Spot, over the weekend, then started on some of the bonus material – Campfire Songs.  Still so much fun, although I miss the sharp art and even sharper wit of Noelle Stevenson.

Watching.  Hamilton, of course!  Like everyone else in America, or almost.  And! It! Was! So! AMAZING!  We’ve been waiting for months for the film to be released and it exceeded every expectation.  So incredible.  I have no words that haven’t already been said, so I’ll stop there.  Nugget fell asleep during Helpless but Peanut made it all the way to Your Obedient Servant (and, I guiltily admit, Steve and I finished it after she went to bed).  On Saturday night we watched the 2004 version of The Phantom of the Opera.  Nugget conked out early again – during The Music of the Night – but Peanut watched the whole thing and then was so hype that she didn’t fall asleep until midnight.  Whoops.  Other than our musical theatre bender, watching was limited this week.  Since Steve was out of town, we didn’t watch Continent 7 at all, and as a family we only squeezed in one episode of Rock the Park.

Listening.  Lots of music this week.  The kids are binging the soundtrack to The Phantom of the Opera, which I think is cool.  (It’s been my favorite musical since middle school, because I’m basic like that, and I’ve seen it performed onstage five times – three times on Broadway, once at the Kennedy Center, and once at Shea’s in Buffalo.)  Steve and I have gotten into a heated debate over the Phantom – I say that he’s complicated, Steve says he’s a sociopathic murderer.  Maybe we’re both kind of right?

Moving.  Oof.  It was not a good week for movement.  Other than gardening and unpacking and general life stuff, I didn’t get out for a run or do any barre or even yoga.  Blah.  Perhaps that’s why I feel so grumpy and out of sorts.

Making.  I am feeling pretty pleased with myself: while Steve was out of town on business I spent one evening setting up the kids’ playroom.  They didn’t deserve all that work, since they had both been giant jerks all day, but it ended up buying me some peace and good behavior the next day, so #worthit.  But the best part: I had a Charley Harper playhouse that I bought from Crate & Kids ages ago – back when it was still The Land of Nod – and had been hauling around in a box, unassembled, from house to house for years.  Obviously, since it was 10:00 p.m. and Steve was away on business, I decided the time was right to tackle that beast.  So I ripped into the box, pulled out the instructions, and read: “This playhouse requires two adults to safely put together.”  I said: “Eff that, how do single moms do it then?” and rolled up my sleeves – and an hour later, I had a playhouse.  I had to stand on a few of the connectors to get enough force on them, but I DID IT.  And the kids have been playing in there all week, so – success!

Blogging.  I have some thoughts about Fourth of July 2020 for you on Wednesday, and then – I don’t know what, on Friday.  I don’t have anything planned, let alone drafted.  So I guess we will all be surprised, or maybe I’ll take Friday off.  Who knows!

Loving.  This is so ridiculously sad, you guys, but – I am seriously loving my master bath right now.  First of all, it has been years – since January 2016 – that I have had a connected en suite bath.  So that alone: game changer.  But on Sunday I took about thirty minutes and organized all of the bath and body stuff that I had thrown across the counter while I was unpacking, and now it’s all clean and fresh, and all of my products are within reach.  You guys?  It’s seriously amazing what one organized, clean, kid-free space does for my mental health.  I want to hide in there all day, just looking happily at the sparkling countertop and the little basket of skincare products.  In fact, I think I’m going to go hide in there now.

Asking.  What are you reading this week?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (June 29, 2020)

Gooooooood Monday morning, friends.  I’ll be honest – I’m kind of dreading this week.  Last week was a doozy at work – I had a huge brief to finalize and file, which always takes longer than you expect it to (seriously, how am I still surprised by that, after thirteen years of practicing law?) and as a result, I’m behind on everything else.  Plus Steve is largely out of commission with a big work project of his own, meaning that I’m on the spot for parenting this week.  (Only fair, since he ran interference for me last week when I was underwater – but it does mean that my usual post-brief-catchup-week is not going to happen, at least not the way it would under normal office circumstances.)

Anyway, the weekend was well-earned and mostly, really good.  After last weekend was devoted to moving, unpacking, and cleaning up around our old place, we felt that we’d earned some trail time.  So on Saturday morning we drove out to Riverbend Park, a nearby regional park, and checked out a new-to-us trail.  We’d been to Riverbend Park before, but not to this part, and it was fun to explore something new.  It was a roller coaster of a hike, though.  The major highlight was seeing a roosting barred owl.  As we were hiking along, I spotted the tiniest movement out of the corner of my eye.  I looked up into the trees and, as luck would have it, my eye immediately fell on an absolutely stunning owl.  I quickly pointed it out to Steve and the kids and we all watched in awe as it took off from its perch and sailed silently overhead and down toward the Potomac.  Wildlife highlight of the year!  But lest you think the hike was too amazing, Peanut got a rock in her shoe and had a massive meltdown that culminated in her cracking me hard across the elbow with her hiking pole.  I will tell you, it hurt.  I wasn’t happy with her, and she knew it, because she acted like a giant jerk for the rest of the day.  Not cool, Peanut.  Not cool.

Anyway, I tried to focus on the awesome owl sighting and not on my throbbing elbow.  The rest of the day was pretty low-key, I guess, although it felt adventurous.  In the afternoon, I headed out to the garden center, followed by Home Depot and – can you handle it? – Target.  I had a long list of house and garden purchases to make, and I checked most of them off my list.  The Target run wasn’t cheap, but it didn’t hurt too badly when I considered the fact that this was my first Target trip in over four months.  We spent the rest of Saturday working around the house – me on unpacking and Steve on yardwork.

On Sunday I was out the door early, to run another virtual race on a local rail trail.  I had sneakers on the pavement by 8:30 and it was only in the mid-seventies, but it was muggy and by the time I was finished, I was dripping with sweat. Then as I drove home, a red-tailed hawk swept across the road right in front of my car and settled in a tree – seriously incredible.  Seriously, the birds out here. Who knew?  I spent the rest of the day at home, gardening with Nugget and doing more unpacking, while Steve worked and Peanut colored and watched a Cinderella marathon on Disney+.  Pretty chill day at home, resting up for another busy workweek.

Reading.  Another light week around here, and still all-Lumberjanes.  My attention even for comics is at an all-time low, and it took most of the week to get through Volume 11, Time After Crime.  I finally finished it on Sunday evening and turned to the next volume, Jackalope Springs Eternal.  (I did read a lot of FiveThirtyEight, so there’s that.  I rarely give it a mention, but I’m addicted and have been reading it daily for years.)  Hoping that my reading mojo will come back once I have my bookshelves set up and looking pretty – progress has been made, but I still have a ways to go.

Watching.  Lots of the usual, but it’s the usual because I like it, so I enjoyed myself.  The kids have been banned from Floor is Lava after Steve caught Peanut saying a rude word that she confessed to learning on the show, so I had a refreshingly lava-less week.  Instead, we watched all of our family favorites – Blue Planet IIRock the Park, and Continent 7 (I started it over so that Steve could watch with me and now we’re both hooked).  Nugget is on a Wild Kratts jag, so I have seen a lot of creature-venturing out of the corner of my eye, too.

Listening.  Same – the usual.  Podcasts, podcasts, podcasts.  Mostly the Another Mother Runner podcast right now, since I’m on a bender.  (The episode on “pandemic endurance techniques” was great!)  Also listened to a few other favorites – finished up an episode of The Mom Hour on quarantine cooking, listened to Dr. Scarlet Smash and Dr. Cracken McCrack wax drunkenly rhapsodic about plankton on The Marine Conservation Happy Hour, and – the highlight – did my virtual race on Sunday to the tune of an episode of The Marine Mammal Science Podcast about living and working in Antarctica.  (Ultimate dream!  I don’t think they allow lawyers at Scott Base, but maybe McMurdo would take me?)

Moving.  Not the best week, but not the worst.  Crazy work deadlines had my butt glued to my dining room chair most of the week, but I made it out for a fun hike – see above – on Saturday, and a virtual 5K on Sunday.  Plus a decent amount of gardening over the weekend.  I need to get back in a rhythm, but this was a good start.

Making.  About the same as last week – I made progress on unpacking; still not done but getting closer every day.  And lots and lots and lots of work product – it was a busy week.  Nothing too exciting in the kitchen – except that I did make “foil dinners” on Sunday night; anyone else eat those at summer camp?  That was my favorite camp meal.  Steve and the kids were highly skeptical.  They came out okay, but with room for improvement.  I will continue to refine my foil dinner technique and report back.

Blogging.  June’s reading recap on Wednesday (spoiler alert: it is all Lumberjanes) and a garden post (!!!) on Friday.  I’m going to show you some glimpses of the jungle I have taken over, and you’ll all break out into hives, it’s going to be great.  Check in with me then.

Loving.  So, as many of you already know, I am a huge bird nerd – and so is Nugget.  We maintained a feeder in our little front yard in Old Town Alexandria, but I have big dreams (Steve would say they are delusions of grandeur) about seriously upping my feeder game now that we’re living in the exurbs.  Nugget and I are working on creating a welcoming paradise for our neighborhood birds (including the owl that I heard hooting in my side yard a few days ago!) and I’ve recently discovered my new favorite bird-feeding and bird-watching resource: Bird Watching HQ.  You guys.  It’s a fabulous site.  Not going to replace the Cornell Bird ID or the Audubon app for identifications, but it’s the best resource I’ve found for getting started feeding backyard birds.  Everything you want to know about squirrel-proofing, starling-proofing, bird baths, attracting songbirds, seasonal changes – and more – is right there.  I love how thoughtful the articles are, and especially that they’re written by an amateur birder, who just geeks out about feeders.  I can’t wait to start applying all of Scott’s knowledge and attracting more visitors to my new yard.

Asking.  What are you reading this week?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (June 22, 2020)

Good Monday morning, friends.  Happy (belated) Juneteenth and (belated) Midsummer.  We’re heading into my favorite part of the year – summer and fall.  Last week was a doozy, as moving week always is.  I was slammed at work, trying to finish drafting a brief for a client while our packing crew ran around the house packing up on Wednesday, and then our moving truck rolled out of Alexandria on Thursday.  (Worth saying: the goddess is clearly looking out for me, because this move would have been impossible if the kids were also underfoot, but last weekend our beloved babysitter, “Telly” – Nugget’s former nanny – texted me to say that the family she currently works for was going to be on vacation, and would I like her to watch the kids?  So while Steve and I were running around all week, the kids were over in Fairfax enjoying some Telly time.  It was one less thing on our plates and it made such a difference.)  Anywoot!  The rest of the weekend was devoted to unpacking on the back end.  We had Friday off for Juneteenth, of which I was vaguely aware as an important date for the Black community, and I spent the day reading up on the origins of the holiday while unpacking.  The rest of the weekend we were unpacking machines.  Steve made a few trips over to the old place to clean up, move the rest of our food, and do some touch-ups.  Father’s Day was pretty blah this year – sorry, Steve.  We did get takeout sushi, so that was a fun treat to celebrate an all-star dad who sacrificed the rest of his day to unpacking and yardwork.

Reading.  Very slow reading week, and still all Lumberjanes, all the time.  Between a full week of work, and moving, I didn’t have the energy for a book – or this week, it turns out, even a comic.  Just one of those weeks.  Hopefully when I get my books unpacked and my shelves all filled, I’ll feel more inspired to get back to my book devouring habits.

Watching.  It was an interrupted week of watching, because we didn’t have internet for a few days.  But once we got Netflix back, the kids discovered a new-to-them Netflix game show, the absolutely ridiculous Floor Is Lava.  If you haven’t watched it, it’s an obstacle course show in which teams of three have to try to make their way through a series of elements without falling into a field of “lava” (actually what appears to be water with reddish food coloring).  They’re obsessed, and all day they’re either playing “Floor is Lava” – jumping like squirrels around the furniture – watching the show, or chanting “FIL! FIL!” until we turn it on.  They also watch the same episodes over and over even though they know who wins, which drives Steve crazy.  So I’ve seen a lot of Floor Is Lava over the past few days, as you can imagine.  Other than that, the only watching this crazy week was one episode of Blue Planet II and an old Rock the Park.  Pretty standard stuff.

Listening.  Just a little bit of listening time – I could really use a pair of wireless earbuds for unpacking – a few episodes of the Another Mother Runner podcast while driving back and forth between our old place and the new house on Thursday.  The episode on “Race and Running” was really thoughtfully and sensitively prepared and presented, and I was so impressed by the conversation, so that was the highlight.

Making.  Lots and lots and lots of empty boxes.  And some work product.  But mostly, the empty boxes.  I decided to try out rental reusable boxes for this move – to save money, create a little less waste, and motivate myself to unpack (because the box rental company is coming at 10:00 this morning to pick them up, so they HAD to be empty).  I tornadoed through 65 reusable boxes over the weekend and am pleased to report that they are all empty and waiting for pickup.  (We do have some cardboard, but much less than we would have otherwise.)

Moving.   No formal exercise last week, sadly.  It was just one of those weeks, for obvious reasons.  Any time I wasn’t working, I was running around doing moving tasks – either hauling things or unpacking and organizing.  The good news is, I was super active.  The bad news is, I was supposed to run a virtual 10K on this coming weekend and there’s no way I’m ready – I’ll have to do the 5K option instead.

Blogging.  I have a post celebrating the change of seasons on Wednesday, and then I’m talking about running during quarantine on Friday.  Check in with me then!

Loving.  I wrote about this up above, so I won’t spend too many words, but I am so stoked about the reusable boxes I rented for this move.  I used Bungo Box, but I expect there are different companies offering the same service in pretty much any location.  The “green” aspect of reusable boxes was what initially attracted me, but when I started looking into it I realized we’d also save a good chunk of cash, too.  And knowing that I had a deadline to unpack them meant there was no chance the boxes would sit in my house for months without me finding the time to unpack them.  It just wasn’t an option to avoid them.  On the flip side, I can tell you that it’s been a great experience.  They were dropped off – fully sanitized, which is key these days – on our doorstep a couple of days before the move, and will be picked up from our new house this morning.  Super convenient, planet- and wallet-friendly – what’s not to love?  This is not our last move (hopefully it’s our second to last, and the next move will be into our dream house) and I will definitely, definitely rent reusable boxes again.

Asking.  What are you reading this week?

It’s Moving Week! What Are You Reading? (June 15, 2020)

This is the last “Monday reading post” (as I think of them) I will write from my little row house in Alexandria – sniffle.  Our moving truck rolls in on Thursday and we are headed for Fairfax County, the land of cheaper rent, bigger yards, and awesome public schools.  I know that, on balance, this is going to be a good move for us, and that we’re only moving 20 minutes away and will be hanging around here all the time – but I’m still a little sad.  Living in Old Town for the past four years has been a total dream come true, and while not every moment has been perfect, a lot of them have been.  That said – it’s time to go.  There’s no pretending the house is even remotely livable right now.  I’m sitting at the dining room table (which doubles as Steve’s office) – and on my left hand side is a cooler, which is not normally here, plus my bike and the kids’ bikes, which are.  On the right is a wall of boxes.  From where I sit, I can see Nugget’s t-ball tee, my cello, and a stack of baby gifts ready to be mailed before we go.  There’s a potholder in my bedroom and a pile of headbands in the kitchen.  It’s all very weird.

This weekend, we were all business.  It’s down to the wire and Steve and I were both going nonstop, getting ready for the move.  Steve made two trips over to the new house to bring valuables that we didn’t want on a moving truck – like the kids’ toys, our family photo albums, and my collection of L.M. Montgomery first editions.  (Shall I show those to you, once we unpack on the flip side?)  I stayed home and ran interference with the kids, folded laundry, put together the “do not move” boxes, packed up clothes for donation and hand-me-downs, and ran a baby gift and a load of baby and toddler clothes over to my friend Vanessa’s house.  It was exhausting, and it’s only just beginning – this is going to be a hectic week at work and at home.  Thankfully, we have a babysitter for Tuesday through Friday, which is going to be huge.  But still – I’ll have a big sigh of relief this time next week, on the other side.

Reading.  Light on the reading this week, and it’s still all Lumberjanes, all the time around here.  (Although, amazingly, I am starting to – not burn out, but – feel ready for something different for a little while.)  But it was a good reading week.  There was more Greek mythology, and the return of camper Diane – if you’ve read volumes one and two you’ll know who I mean.  I’m enjoying them a lot, but starting to fizzle out on reading again.  So we’ll see how long this lumberphase lasts.

Watching.  So, not much reading, but lots of watching.  I’ve been working my way through Continent 7: Antarctica on Disney+ and totally loving it.  (I think Steve would like it too, so will probably re-watch it at least one time.)  With the family, we’re almost through Blue Planet II – the “Big Blue” episode was a highlight, although surprisingly light on cetaceans.  I think the “Green Seas” episode was actually my highlight of the week, because: sea otters!  And Steve and I also found time to watch Where’d You Go, Bernadette on Saturday and another episode of The Crown on Sunday evening after the kids went to bed.  Tootle pip!

Listening.  Not too much this week.  More R.E.M. in the car to and from the grocery store.  (It’s not a Monday night if I don’t belt out “Electrolite” and “I’ve Been High” on my way home from Wegmans.)  And a couple of episodes of Another Mother Runner and The Marine Mammal Science Podcast, while running and doing laundry respectively.

Making.  Lots of food prep on Sunday.  In the morning I baked blueberry muffins in order to use up some fruit that was starting to approach the “past its prime” point.  I only made half a batch, and thanks to two voracious shorties, they were gone before lunch.  In the afternoon, I planned out the week’s meals, pulled the ingredients together, and spent some time making hard-boiled eggs, sliced cucumbers and segmented grapefruit, and a roasted green bean salad with miso-tahini dressing.  There’s nothing stopping us from loading up all of our food into a cooler and bags and driving it over to the new place – the benefits of a local move, we don’t feel pressured to eat the entire fridge before we go – but I’d still like to get through as much of the perishables as I can and start fresh in the new house.

Moving.  Not too much this week; it was a hectic workweek and super humid outside, so I wasn’t especially motivated to step away from the computer and into the murky soup outside and only got out for a couple of runs.  I did think about running.  Does that count?

Blogging.  I’ll have another moving-related post on Wednesday – a farewell to my kitchen, which I will miss – and then some book talk on Friday.  Check in with me then!

Loving.  Okay, this is going to sound weird, but go with it: I am recently obsessed with Weight Watchers light smoked mozzarella string cheese.  I didn’t realize it was a Weight Watchers product – I saw the “WW” logo and though it was some sort of fancy Wegmans string cheese for grownups.  (I am book smart, but maybe not street smart!)  It took me a week to realize that it was Weight Watchers cheese and you know what, guys?  It’s delicious.  I love a smoked mozzarella – I will literally choose pizza joints based on who puts smoked mozz in their cheese mix – and it’s GUILT FREE STRING CHEESE.  If you’re on Weight Watchers, it’s one point (I don’t know what that means, but I think it means go nuts?) and on Noom it’s a green food.  (I do use Noom periodically, so you can take it from me that a string cheese that falls within the green foods definition is a big deal.)  And the kids like it, which is good or bad depending on how much I feel like sharing.  (They have their own full fat colby jack cheese sticks, but they are forever taking my stuff.)  And I think this is probably the most words that I’ve ever written about string cheese on this blog, so I’ll stop here, except to say: go get you some.  It’s so good.

Asking.  What are you reading this week?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

Gooooooooood morning, friends.  How are you holding up in week one million of global pandemic?  I’m basically done with all of it.  Last week was busy and stressful at work, and this week promises more of the same.  I needed a relaxing, stress-free weekend, but that wasn’t to be either – the kids were in rare form and driving me crazy most of the time.  They’re usually extremely sweet, but they have their moments when they can also be total jerks, and that was most of this weekend.  (I know they’re stressed out by this whole situation – believe me, I get it – but so am I, and I just need them to get in line and on board.)  Anyway, we mostly hung around the house on Saturday.  Steve took a carload of stuff over to the new house, and the kids and I knocked around our current place and got under each other’s skin.  On Sunday, we needed a nature release badly; I wanted to stay in Alexandria – we’re moving close to some of the best hiking in NoVA, but we’ll have plenty of time to explore every inch of those trails in the coming years and I’m trying to soak up my current area before the move.  So we stuck with a trail nearby and had a pretty nice walk.  The kids were generally cooperative; there was only one incident of “let’s pretend our trekking poles are giant tweezers!” and I only had to carry Nugget’s poles for about a quarter of the hike, so, success.  The rest of the day, we just knocked around the house.  Steve went back to the new place with another carload, and I made flatbread with sourdough discard starter (came out okay).  Nugget and I spent the afternoon building a village out of Magna-Tiles while Peanut napped.  So – quiet, but pretty peaceful.  At least until I had the nerve to ask Nugget to clean up a bunch of art supplies he’d dumped on the stairs.  All good things must come to an end.

Reading.  So, last week I warned you that this was going to be a Lumberjanes-heavy space for awhile.  I’ve been struggling with a reading slump, pandemic-induced and exacerbated by all the worries of the world in 2020, and Lumberjanes was the first thing in weeks that I was actually excited to pick up and read.  I’m sticking with it as long as it’s working for me (or until I run out of Lumberjanes to read, which could take some time, since I have fourteen trade paperback collections of the comics, two graphic novels, two bonus trade paperbacks, and four YA novels).  Expect to see more Lumberjanes in this spot for the foreseeable future, or at least until I lose interest.

Watching.  Lots of watching again, last week, which is as to be expected mid-reading slump.  We’re still really enjoying TV time as a family – this past week, we finished up our unwatched episodes of Rock the Park and the season finale of Be Our Chef.  Since we were going to need something new to watch, Steve took the initiative and downloaded Blue Planet II, and we watched the first episode together as a family on Sunday night.  SO good!  The best part, of course, was the orcas and humpback whales eating herring.  Naturally!  Without the kids, I had another couple of evenings of zoning out to the Pure Adirondacks YouTube channel and I’m astonished to report I’ve reached the end.  Anyone else have an outdoor adventurey YouTube channel they like?  Hit me with your recommendations, please.

Listening.  Since I didn’t do much running last week – it was a big work week, whoops – I didn’t do much listening, either.  Just a couple of episodes, or maybe even less than that, of Another Mother Runner.  And weighted towards the beginning of the week, so now I can’t even tell you the highlights.

Making.  Work product aside, there was just a bit of puttering in the kitchen.  A loaf of sourdough sandwich bread, earlier in the week.  And on Sunday, a batch of homemade applesauce (the kids love it; the parents do too) and a first attempt at flatbreads made with discard sourdough starter.  They came out pretty well and were gobbled up, but I think I can do better.  Outside the kitchen, some plans were (tentatively) made.  Wanderlust is hitting hard the longer we’re in quarantine (or quarantine-lite) and Steve and I had a long discussion about making one of our ultimate dream trips happen in the not-too-distant (about 18 months from now) future.  Since we decided to go for it, it’s been on my mind constantly and I’ve spent hours this week adding to my (already considerable) pile of research.  Details to come when (!) we finally book the trip, but I’m excited.  It’s a destination I’ve been dreaming about since I was a little girl.

Moving.  Oof, not much this week.  A couple of runs, or maybe even just one?  And that hike on Sunday – that’s it.  I seem to be in a pattern: one great week, one blah week, repeat ad nauseum.  I’m always happier, more patient, more peaceful and more content when I get that movement time in, so I really need to learn to insist upon it and guard my workout time against threats foreign (work) and domestic (kids).

Blogging.  So, I promised you quarantine silver lines last week, but I felt compelled to write something else instead, and gave you my anti-racist reading list.  That was my way of processing some of the awfulness that is in this country right now, so I’m glad I wrote it.  But I’ll give you those silver lines this week instead – how about on Wednesday?  And then on Friday, a post about moving (soon) and all the mixed feelings.

Loving.  My cousin got married on Saturday!  Sweet Jocelyn and her extremely lucky new husband Jason (I’m sure he knows he scored) have been planning their June wedding for a year and a half.  It definitely wasn’t what they had in mind when they first got engaged, thanks for nothing COVID-19.  But they decided that instead of postponing their wedding and risking it getting postponed again and again, they would tie the knot on their original date, with just a handful of family, and throw their reception in September.  They livestreamed the ceremony for those of us who couldn’t make it to upstate New York, and our family gathered on the couch to watch the bride and groom say their vows.  I was a little sad – I wanted to be there in person; Peanut and Nugget were supposed to be in the wedding along with Jocelyn’s new niece and nephew.  But I was thankful that through the miracle of technology, we were able to watch over Facebook Live.  And I’m still hoping for that big reception in September.

Asking.  What are you reading this week?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (June 1, 2020)

Morning, friends.  Another new week – it has to be better than last week, right?  These are awful times that we are living through right now, and I am privileged enough that for me the awfulness is just in the watching, and not in the living.  The senseless murder – because it was murder – of George Floyd is sitting heavily on my heart, as it is on many hearts.  Reading about his cry of “Mama!” brought me to tears, as someone who answers to that name.  And coming so soon after my running community mourned Ahmaud Arbery, I just don’t know what to say anymore.  I often find myself without words after these horrible crimes – not because I don’t care, but because I worry that my voice won’t add anything to the conversation and will ring hollow to people who are actually suffering, or that posting to a hashtag will come across as lip service and nothing more.  But that’s clearly not good enough, so I am trying to come up with words.  I’ve checked in on my friends who are people of color and let them know that I am here if they ever need me.  I’ve arranged another FaceTime play date for Peanut and her BFF, who is biracial.  And I’ve downloaded anti-racist reading lists, which include quite a few books I’ve already read but plenty more ideas, and donated to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.  (Here’s the donation page, in case you want to make a contribution too.)

Anyway, with that – I do try to keep politics and justice issues out of my writing here, not because it’s not important to me but because I like having this space as an escape.  So.  The hideousness of the world last week aside, how are you all holding up in week eleventy-seven bajillion of the age of corona?  We had kind of a rough week, even setting the state of the world aside, last week.  Nugget had not one, but two spills on the bike path: one when he and his sister were clowning around and she ended up plowing into him and knocking him over during a morning walk, and one when our bikes got tangled up together on Saturday morning.  (I took the brunt of that one, of course, and my hands look pretty bad right now.)  And the kids were sort of at cross-purposes all week; a lot of bickering between the two of them, and defiance directed at Steve and me if we had the audacity to say things like “Turn off the TV” or “Wash your hands, it’s dinnertime.”  At least the weather is good?

Reading.  Most of the week was pretty slow, at least as far as books were concerned.  (I read a lot of news coverage and opinion pieces, though.)  After finishing Austentatious, I tried to pick up The Heat of the Day, by Elizabeth Bowen – the last book off my library stack.  I got about a chapter and a half into it, and I can tell that it’s beautifully written and is going to be wonderful, but I also can’t seem to motivate myself to pick it up.  Instead of reading, I spent most of the week puttering around the house and scrolling on my phone – not at all satisfying, but my brain just didn’t want a book.  On Sunday, I had a sudden desire to dive back into the Lumberjanes world.  (A bunch of hardcore lady types solving anagrams, battling mythical monsters, and shouting out exclamations like “Holy Mae Jemison!” seemed like exactly what I needed.)  I ended up spending a chunk of the day with my face buried in the first three volumes, and I feel more excited to read than I have in weeks.  So that’s something.

Watching.  As with any light reading week, it was a heavy watching week.  We did a lot of family TV watching – including several episodes of Rock the Park, the penultimate Be Our Chef, and Ratatouille (twice).  Steve and I also watched two episodes of The Crown (we’re way behind, so no one tell me what happens in season three, okay?) and I spent an evening zoning out to the Pure Adirondacks channel on YouTube.

Listening.  Back on podcasts while running – I listened to two-and-a-half episodes of Another Mother Runner (on the future of races in the age of corona, tips for trail running, and long run routines).  The episode on the changes that are coming to racing was especially interesting, since I’m hoping to stick my toe back in the local race scene starting in the fall.

Making.  Not much this week, in keeping with a week in which I felt paralyzed by the state of the world and out of sorts by the state of my house.  I stayed up late baking bread on Saturday night, but I think that’s the only thing I really made this week – a few dinners aside.  Not much creativity around here at the moment.

Moving.  On the other hand, it was a pretty good week on the moving front.  I got in three runs during the week and a hike on the Patowmack Trail at Great Falls Park on Sunday.  Skipped a few workouts toward the end of the week, because I had another virtual 5K and I wanted to take some time off my last one, so I needed fresh legs.  I did skim off about a minute – not as much as I wanted to, but every step counts.  Aside from running, I didn’t do much; this week my goal is to get in at least two strength training sessions in addition to running.  I’m beginning to cautiously think about some goals for the fall and beyond, which feels good.

Blogging.  Going to be a fun week around here!  I have my May book list for you on Wednesday (sadly, it’s on the shorter side – especially for such a long month – since most of the month was a full-blown reading slump) and a post about quarantine silver lines on Friday.  Check in with me then!

Loving.  As the weather has gotten better and it’s turning into full summer here, I’ve been enjoying my outdoor spaces.  I hate going inside when it’s nice out, but with social distancing we are trying not to leave the house more than once a day.  So I’ve been spending a lot of time on my back patio and my front porch.  The chairs on my porch were pretty grimy after the winter, and I spent some time cleaning them up thoroughly – and now they’re my favorites (again).  I’ve been sitting out there with a bottle of water and (sometimes) a book, breathing the outside air, watching the birds and waving to my neighbors, and it’s been so refreshing.

Asking.  What are you reading this week?

It’s Memorial Day! What Are You Reading? (May 25, 2020)

Happy Memorial Day to my American friends – wherever you are, I hope you’re getting some fresh air, some time to connect with family (even virtually) and the chance to let off a little steam.  And of course, a huge THANK YOU to our military families for all of their sacrifices.  This is the home of the free, because of the brave, as we all know so well.  We appreciate you!

Memorial Day weekend is also the unofficial start to summer, of course.  Every year, I waffle between summer and fall as my favorite season.  I love them both, and this is the kickoff to the best half of the year for me.  Allergies are winding down, the heat is cranking up – bring it all on, I say.  I usually like to do something fun to ring in the season, but this year we’re sticking close to home for obvious reasons.  (Although my neighbors heard that I-95 was basically a parking lot, choked with people driving to the beach for the long weekend.)  It was a pretty low-key start to the season for us, and we’re mostly treating today as just another workday (although I think I’m going to take the day mostly off and take the kids off of Steve’s hands – he ran interference for me a lot last week, because I was busy with a court submission, so I’d like to make it up to him).  Anyway!  Saturday was HOT, at least in comparison to the few weeks prior – in the 80s.  We walked down to the waterfront and Steve and the kids played tag in Founders Park for a little while, and then the kids and I spent the afternoon on the patio.  I hate going indoors when it’s nice out!  Sunday was our hiking day.  We stopped off at our new house first, to drop off another trunkload of stuff (seems silly to go empty-handed!) and then explored some of the trails at Lake Fairfax Park.  I spent the rest of the day puttering around the house and got basically nothing done, so I guess that’s a winning Sunday?

Reading.  Another slow reading week, although the three books above make it look like it was a normal-paced stretch.  I finished Merry Hall midweek, then spent the latter half of the week and most of the weekend with The Boy Who Lost Fairyland.  Just one more book to go in the Fairyland series, although I’m reading it so slowly that I’ve mostly forgotten what’s happened so far.  Whoops.  Anyway, finished the weekend with Austentatious: The Evolving World of Jane Austen Fans, a loaner from my friend Susan.

Watching.  Same family watching streak – we’ve finished all of the available episodes of Be Our Chef, and are now waiting for the final two episodes of the season to drop, and we’ve also made our way through all of season six of Rock the Park.  The highlight this week was definitely watching Jack and Colton snorkel with manatees – and now I have a new bucket list item.  (Steve said: “You realize there would be other fish there too, right?”  I told him to shush his face.)

Listening.  A lot of this, for obvious reasons, on repeat:

Moving.  Not much moving this week, either.  (Not much of anything, huh?)  It was a superbusy week on the work front – I had a court submission to file on Friday, and that’s always a bit of a circus.  Most of the planned runs on my training schedule didn’t happen for that reason, which makes me sad.  I am always happier and more energetic and just have more to give when I take that time for myself and get some fresh air via my running shoes.  So I’m going to try to remember that for next week.

Making.  Well, there was a lot of work product!  That’s definitely making something.  And I was proud of what I did at work this week, so that is something.  I also FINISHED the last incomplete family yearbook – 2019.  Look at me go!  Something about dragging pictures around on Shutterfly is very soothing.  And I have big plans for reading through the whole series of my creations as soon as the last two arrive on my doorstep.  So the making was more keyboard-oriented this week, and less kitchen-oriented, although Nugget and I did whip up a strawberry yogurt cake on Saturday morning.  It came out tasting good, but the texture was way off – super dense and unappealing, in my opinion.  The kids disagreed, and they ate it ALL.  So at least it didn’t go to waste!

Blogging.  Got to make sure I get all my May content in, so I’m loading you up this week.  Themed reads on Wednesday – all about gardening life – and then a hiking recap on Friday.  Stop by!

Loving.  On Friday night, I called up my BFF, Rebecca, to chat and catch up since it had been a minute.  I asked her what she was up to, and her response, in a nutshell, was: “Drinking mashed up mango with rum, reading declassified military documents from 1948, and trying to get to the end of TikTok.”  I’m not saying that my bestie is cooler than your bestie, but, well, do the math.

Asking.  What are you reading this week?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (May 18, 2020)

And so begins another week in quarantine.  What week is this?  Nine?  Nine thousand?  I don’t even know anymore.  I know there are some areas that are cautiously beginning to explore the idea of opening back up, but that’s not really us yet.  The Virginia stay-at-home order goes through June 10, summer camp is officially cancelled, and this interminable time is continuing to stretch on with no end in sight.  This week was kind of rough.  I had a lot to do at work and it felt like my to-do list just kept getting longer and longer.  Every time I would check an item off, three more tasks would find their way onto the list.  The kids were at cross-purposes all week long and all weekend too, and I have neither the energy nor the patience to deal with their shenanigans.  I’m just… tired.

Not that there weren’t bright spots in the weekend.  Saturday was a particularly nice day.  I shirked the work that I knew I should be doing, and we escaped for a hike at another park near our new house.  When we decided to move, I figured we would spend our last few months glued to our current neighborhood, wanting to experience it in full before we left (not that we’re going far, just to the neighboring county – the better public schools are the motivation for the move, plus we’ve outgrown our place).  But it hasn’t worked out that way, and we’ve found ourselves driving over to the new house three times in the past month – checking on the place, making lists of things to do, wandering around and discussing where to put the furniture – and then heading out for a nearby hike.  Even though I know we’re going to have years in which to learn every inch of our soon-to-be new community, there’s not much going on in our current city neighborhood right now and we just find ourselves piling into the car and driving west more often than not.  Anyway, this time we hit up Seneca Regional Park, which has a huge network of trails that I can’t wait to explore.  We hiked down to the Potomac, just a bubbling brook way up here.  And even though the parking lot was packed, we barely saw another soul – perfect.  When we got home, Peanut asked to bake cookies, and we whipped up a batch of Dorie Greenpsan’s “perfect chocolate chip cookies,” which we shared with the neighbors during a 6:00 p.m. porch party.  Neighbors from all up and down the street were wandering around, holding glasses of wine, sharing some connection and conversation from a responsible distance away from one another.  We enjoyed talking to a few different neighbors (although only our beloved Zoya and Robert, next door, got cookies).  So that was Saturday.  Sunday was… kind of the anti-Saturday.  It was grey and windy, we all felt lazy, and the kids stayed in their pajamas, watching TV and bickering all day.  I escaped for a 5K run – the second in my Another Mother Runner virtual race series.  But that was the only time I got out of the house.  Once again I did no work, and felt guilty – today is going to hit hard.

Reading.  Another slowwwwww reading week.  Trying to stay on top of everything else that I have to do is leaving me with next to no energy and certainly no concentration to spare for a book.  I finished Jane Austen at Home early in the week – after twelve days reading a book that would normally take me about three.  And I spent the rest of the week plodding through Merry Hall.  I thought I’d knock off the entire trilogy in a week – ha.  Both good reads, but nothing is going quickly for me right now.

Watching.  With that reading being limited, watching is definitely taking more of a front seat right now.  We’re trying to keep the kids up later, in the (probably vain) hope that they will sleep later in the morning.  Part of the strategy has been to find a couple of shows to watch together as a family in the evenings.  We’ve settled into a routine of one episode of Be Our Chef on Disney+, followed by one (or more) episode(s) of Rock the Park.  I am especially tickled that Peanut is getting into Rock the Park.  I figured Nugget would, since he loves both non-fiction (shows and books) and nature, especially national parks.  But Peanut has also fallen for the show, and both kids had me laughing the entire time we were exploring the trails at Seneca Regional Park on Saturday, as they hiked along chirping “This is how we rock the park!” and “If we can do it, so can you!”  (If you watch the show, you’ll get it.)

Listening.  No podcasts this week, actually!  I waded through my iTunes library and re-made my old running playlist – it’s a very weird, eclectic mix but it totally works for me.  It opens with “I Gotta Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas, transitions into a live concert version of R.E.M.’s “Living Well’s the Best Revenge” and then meanders through some eighties music (“1,000,000” by R.E.M. and “99 Luftballons” by Nena) some Glee soundtrack standbys, and a lot of bass-pumping rock, and finishes with “Eye of the Tiger.”  I’ve run through it more times than I can count this week.

Making.  In addition to the aforementioned chocolate chip cookies that Peanut and I baked on Saturday afternoon, I am pleased to report that I’ve finished my 1,000 piece Cornell puzzle!  (Quarantine so hard…)  Pic above for you to admire; sorry about the glare.  It was the best I could do.  I also finished up another family yearbook – that much closer to having our complete history as a family captured, all the way back to our wedding in 2005.  I started making family yearbooks in 2014 and have made one every year since, although 2019 is still in progress.  We’ve enjoyed them so much that I went back and created yearbooks covering 2005-07 and 2008-10; this weekend, I finished 2011-13, so once I wrap up 2019 I will be up to date!  This is huge, friends.  I didn’t actually order the 2011-13 yearbook; they’re so expensive that I always wait for a 50% off deal, and right now the best deal is 40% off, which is not enough of a discount.  Soon, hopefully!

Moving.  Once again, another week in which I missed my scheduled cross-training day, but got all of my runs in – including a 5K on Sunday.  This was the second in a series of four virtual races from the Train Like a Mother Club; each race includes a medal with one letter (L, O, V, and E, and they will make one big interlocking medal at the end of the series) and this was race “O.”  I ran down to the river trail and took in the views and the breezes coming off the Potomac during my run.  Saturday’s hike was the other workout of the week; we hiked down and then UP a big hill, so I definitely felt it.

Blogging.  Another Classics Club review coming atcha on Wednesday, and then a day in the life post on Friday, showing you some of what we are up to in this very weird and anxious time.  Check in with me then!

Loving.  Our porch party was so much fun!  We mostly talked to Zoya and Robert, our favorite neighbors, over the two porch railings separating our space from theirs.  But we chatted with a few other neighbors, too – comparing notes on upcoming moves (our street is breaking up, y’all – sob) and complaining about our shared least favorite neighbor, who smokes a cigar on his front porch every night, causing windows to slam down all up and down the block.  (We call him Sir Smokes-a-lot, and he is definitely a notch in the not going to miss this column.)  Peanut wore her cheetah ears, I hung over the railing and drank boxed wine (or “cardboardeaux” as my coworkers and I call it) out of a Yeti wine tumbler, and we all toasted Robert’s son, who recently graduated from a very prestigious university up north.  I have been feeling very isolated, and it was good to get outside and do some socializing over the porch railing.

Asking.  What are you reading this week?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (May 11, 2020)

Morning, friends!  How were your weekends?  Happy Mother’s Day, to my American friends who were celebrating – if you are a mom, I hope that you felt cherished, and if you were celebrating the other moms in your life, I hope that you had some good connection.  And for those of you who find Mother’s Day hard for any reason – I’ve been there – I see you, and I celebrate you, too.

I had a nice weekend.  My Mother’s Day wish was to spend as much time outside as possible.  I’m getting very stir-crazy, cooped up in my townhouse day in and day out, and all I wanted for Mother’s Day was fresh air.  Well, fresh air and as little bickering and back-talk as possible, getting greedy now.  Saturday was a little grey and cool, so we stayed in the neighborhood and took a walk down to the waterfront – pretty standard stuff these days.  Nugget has gotten very into birds in the last few months – for Christmas, all he asked Santa for was “a book about birds,” and also, isn’t he the sweetest?  So he was stoked to see the waterfowl down at the river; he climbed down over the rocks and stood in the sand at the water’s edge and pointed excitedly.  At one point, I saw him struggling with his pocket, then realized that he had quietly stuffed his little blue camera in there before we left, without saying anything to anyone.  He got the camera out, turned it on, and studiously pointed it at a duck while I died of the cuteness.  (Also, it was a good reminder for me: I find geese obnoxious and I tend to overlook ducks; seeing him get so excited about these birds that I usually overlook was a lesson.  Stop, take it all in, and enjoy.)

On Sunday, Steve made my wish for a Mother’s Day hike come true!  As I wrote last week, hiking has been challenging lately because either the parks are closed or the trails are too crowded.  But I wanted a hike, and I got a hike.  We drove out to our new place to check on the work that we are having done before we move in, then headed over to a lesser-known local park in the area.  The trailhead was only five minutes from our new house, and I could barely contain my excitement at the idea of living close to so many great hiking trails once we move!  I’m going to miss my current neighborhood a lot, for many reasons, but there are definite trade-offs and the proximity to hiking is a huge notch in the plus column for the new house.  When we got home, we continued the fresh air fun with my other wish – a family bike ride.  Or, kind of.  Nugget and I rode ahead on our bikes, and Steve walked alongside Peanut on hers.  This is the closest we’re getting to a family bike ride right now, and I’ll take it.  It was a day of bluebird skies, muddy hiking boots, and a SeaQuench at the end – not bad at all.

Reading.  One thing I did not do much of this week: read.  The slow reading pace continues – I am just finding it hard to sit down and concentrate on a book.  Most evenings, I end up mindlessly scrolling my phone, which is very unusual for me.  At the beginning of last week I had just started Jane Austen at Home, and at the beginning of this week I’m only about 2/3 of the way through.  Like I said, very unusual for me.  I’m not too worried about it, because I know this situation is temporary, I’ll get my reading mojo back, and the books will still be there when I do.  And in a way, it’s not the worst time to have a reading slump – pretty soon I’ll be starting to pack up my house, and at least I won’t be tempted to hide away with a book when I should be packing things up into boxes.  That said, I would really like to finish up my stack of books borrowed from my friend Susan before we move.  My plan was to bring them to my office and keep them on my bookshelf there so they didn’t get lost in the shuffle during the move, but I don’t know if I’m going to be in my office between now and moving day, so I may have to come up with a backup plan.  I know one thing, though: I cannot lose any of Susan’s books.

Watching.  Some good watching this week!  We finished up The Mandalorian, and loved it.  (“Hey!  Baby!  Do the magic hands!”)  I can’t wait for Season 2.  Other than The Mandalorian, there were several episodes of Rock the Park, which are getting me excited for summer adventures – not that we’re going anywhere in particular, at least we have nothing currently in the works.

Listening.  The usual – more podcast episodes while running.  I’ve been enjoying checking in with The Mom Hour ladies, and they’re becoming my pandemic gurus.  The Sorta Awesome episode “How Are You Doing, Really?” was also really good and validating and so, so needed.  Currently in the earbuds: a bit of escape, with Simon and Rachel of Tea or Books? – also so, so, needed.

Moving.  It was a good week!  I got in all of my planned runs – including swapping my Saturday run with my cross-training day to take part in #IRunWithMaud on Friday.  2.23 miles for Maud, because running while black should not be a death sentence.  As for the rest of exercise, I didn’t end up doing my planned cross-training (I had my eye on a Barre3 online studio workout) but did get in several long neighborhood walks and two bike rides with little Nugget, plus that hike on Sunday.  I’m pleasantly tired and have definitely gotten my fill of fresh air, which feels good.

Making.  So, there’s the usual stuff – a couple of loaves of sourdough sandwich bread and other dinners for the family.  And quarantine edition making: progress on this awesome 1,000 piece puzzle, which I picked up from the Cornell Store at Reunion in 2018 and have been apparently saving for a global pandemic?  Well, I’m getting to it now.  (Also, I do like that it is suddenly cool to do puzzles and I no longer have to hide.)  I said to Steve that I feel like there are stages to a big puzzle like this.  First, you get the outline put together and you feel pretty good.  Then you realize how much you have left to do and it starts to be daunting and overwhelming and you think you’re never going to be able to do it.  Then there comes a point, after days of puttering, when it suddenly clicks and you can see how it all fits together, and then it goes fast.  I’ll probably be done by this time next week and on to the next puzzle.  Finally, making: I don’t know how this is going to go yet, but I brought my film camera (my dad’s old Minolta from the 1970s, which I had cleaned up and refurbished last fall) out on our hike on Sunday and snapped about a third of a roll.  I’ll have to wait until I finish the roll and get it developed to see how it went, but I’m excited to play around with film photography.

Blogging.  I have a fun week coming up for you!  First, on Wednesday, a Classics Club review of the third book in the Mapp and Lucia series, because we could all use some interwar British humor in our lives!  And then on Friday, a fun post (at least, I had fun writing it) about an unexpected way the kids are connecting to our family culture these days.

Loving.  Thanks go to this guy, for pulling out all the stops to give me an “only slightly sucky” – his words, not mine – Mother’s Day.  It was definitely a weird one, with the whole quarantine thing and all.  But everything I said I wanted – hike, fresh air, sushi, bike ride, wine and adult conversation on the couch – he made happen for me.  Yes, there’s a pandemic and the kids ripped the couch apart and fought with each other all weekend, but those things are not his fault, and everything that was in his power to give me, he gave me.  He’s the best hiking buddy.

Asking.  What are you reading this week?

It’s Star Wars Day! What Are You Reading? (May 4, 2020)

Happy Star Wars Day, fellow geeks!  May the Fourth be with you!  Beware, if we are friends on Facebook, I will be re-posting Drunk Austen’s Colin-Firth-with-a-lightsaber mashup pic.  Every year.

So, how were your weekends?  For a quarantine weekend, ours was pretty nice.  It got started early – on Friday afternoon we took a ride over to our new house to meet with the realtor, do a walk-through and pick up the keys.  There are a few small maintenance items that we’re asking the landlord to take care of before we move in, and the place needs a good cleaning.  But it was fun to see it again and to be able to really start planning how we’re going to use the space.  While I’m going to miss our sweet row house in Old Town, the new place is an upgrade in pretty much every way (the only exceptions being walkability and the kitchen).  Anyway – after the house appointment, we headed home for leftovers and The Mandalorian.

Saturday was absolutely gorgeous outside, and we took advantage of it by spending almost the entire day outdoors.  First up was a family walk – our goal was the waterfront, but Peanut asked to stop by the library (which is closed; she just wanted to gaze at the building, and yes she is definitely my daughter) and the kids ended up having so much fun running around the courtyard there that we never made it any further.  We just hung out at the library running sprints and playing tag and “What Time Is It, Mr. Fox?”.  (There’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.)  After lunch we were back outdoors – or at least, Nugget and I were.  This is very exciting: we rode together on the bike path!  Up to now I’ve been taking both kids out and walking alongside them as they ride.  Nugget can get to a decent clip but Peanut is a glacier and I couldn’t ride with them and also keep track of two kids with very different paces.  But I determined that Nugget is fast enough to allow me to ride with him without falling off from going too slow, and I decided that this was the weekend.  Dream come true, you guys!  I definitely still rode the brakes and stopped a lot; he’s fast for a five-year-old but he’s not faster than a carbon-framed road bike.  I’m going to have to break him of the habit of looking behind him to make sure I’m still there; I assured him repeatedly that he could go as fast as he wanted and I’d have no problem keeping up.  Anyway – this was so much fun.  I love cycling; longtime readers might remember when I had more spare time and rode in a few distance events, like the Skyride in Buffalo and the Five Boro Bike Tour in New York City.  And I grew up cruising the bike paths with my parents and my brother.  So I’ve been looking forward to riding as a family for ages now.  It’s not possible yet – I need to build Peanut’s confidence and get Steve a bike of his own.  But this was a good start.  We spent the rest of the day on our back patio; I cleaned up a bunch of weeds and dead plants and started getting the garden ready to move, and the kids messed around in the sandbox.  I think the only time I went indoors all day was to bake bread.  Definitely a good day.

Whew!  And that was just Saturday.  Sunday was more low-key, for sure.  I got out for a run in the morning and got in some good patio time in the afternoon, but it rained in between.  And we had three – count ’em – FaceTime dates on the schedule for Sunday.  Social at a distance FTW.  First Peanut spent about an hour and a half gabbing and giggling with her bestie, S, who lives one county away – over in Arlington.  It had been too long since they got to talk, and I’m so glad we made this happen.  And I even got the phone away from her for a few minutes at the end, so I had a very quick catch-up session with S’s mom, Rachel.  Just a brief check-in and planning for the next FaceTime play date and real-life hugs as soon as possible.  In the afternoon, we had two more FaceTime appointments – Steve’s mom, followed immediately by my brother and sister-in-law.  It was good to see all of their faces.  And that was Sunday.  I am beat, and also so content.

Reading.  It was another slow reading week, but I’m glad to report that things picked up near the end.  I spent most of the week half-heartedly plodding my way through The Vegetable Gardener’s Handbook, which is an absolutely wonderful book that I’ll use to great effect as a reference volume, but isn’t especially well-suited for reading cover to cover.  I think it broke through my slump, though, so it’s a winner.  On Friday evening I picked up Where Angels Fear to Tread, another title from my Classics Club Challenge list, and read it in a few big gulps between Friday night and Sunday morning.  Finally, wanting another non-fiction title, I picked up Jane Austen at Home.  I borrowed it from my friend Susan ages ago, and it has been sitting on my shelf making me feel guilty ever since.  I’ve only got one unread library book left on my stack, and I’d love to get through the small pile I borrowed from Susan before I move.  Steve would tell you there is literally no length to which I will not go in order to avoid reading my own books, but that’s not it at all.  It’s just that these shiny new borrowed books are everywhere I look.  I can’t help myself.

Watching.  So much great watching this week!  (I never say that.)  Several episodes of The Mandalorian – even Peanut is into it now, and Steve, Nugget and I are ob. sessed.  We’re six episodes in now and my only complaint is: not enough Cara Dune!  The people want more Cara Dune!  (Also, do I love Cara more than Jyn Urso?  Possibly.  Evidently I like a strong female character with a chip on her shoulder and a healthy disrespect for authority.)  Other great watching of the week: the Parks and Recreation special reunion episode, which was everything I wanted it to be and more, and Miranda Mills’ tour of the bookshelves in her home office, via YouTube, on Tuesday (my designated TV night, apparently).  Although I did get a touch of the motion sickness when Miranda tried to hold the camera while simultaneously extracting a book from her packed – and fabulous – shelves.  And lastly – you’ll have to read my “loving” section.

Listening.  Not as much listening, because I didn’t do great with my running this week.  Only got out a few times, listening to episodes of The Mom Hour each time.  And I tried to put on R.E.M. while we were hanging out at the patio, but was promptly smacked down by Peanut, who asked in a voice absolutely dripping with scorn, “Mom.  What is this?  It sounds like moaning.”  Two things: she is seven going on seventeen, you guys, and that sound you heard was my nineties-kid heart shattering into a million pieces.  WHO DOES NOT LIKE R.E.M.???  I cannot.

Moving.  Didn’t do as well as I wanted to, but I got out for a couple of runs, and several morning walks, and had the aforementioned amazingly wonderfully happy joyful bike riding afternoon with my little buddy.  The good news, other than HAPPY JOYFUL BIKE SATURDAY, was that my run on Sunday felt great.  I felt strong, breathing was easy, and I had a huge smile on my face the whole time.  The AMR training plan is definitely doing something.

Making.  The usual.  Sourdough bread, requested by Steve.  And progress on a couple of back family yearbooks that I want to finish before the next Shutterfly sale.  A lot of clean dishes and wiped-down counters, and a growing pile of homeschool work product.  I’m trying so hard not to let the kids see that I am stressed, and to make this a happy and memorable time for them.  Some days, I do this better than other days.  This weekend was good.

Blogging.  I have a Classics Club Challenge review post for you on Wednesday – I’m way behind on reviews, but still trotting along with the books themselves.  And then some real talk about quarantine on Friday.  All stuff I think everyone is feeling at this stage.

Loving.  I can’t stop watching this, you guys – the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s FeederWatch Live Cam at the Treman Bird Feeding Garden.  Between the breeze in the leaves, the sparkling water just behind the feeder, and the winged visitors, it might be the most peaceful thing I’ve ever seen.  I sat and stared at it for chunks of time all weekend, and saw red-winged blackbirds, American goldfinches, mourning doves, cardinals, common grackles, blue jays downy and red-belled woodpeckers, and more, visit for a snack.  Literally.  Can’t.  Get.  Enough.

Asking.  What are you reading this week?