Archive for the ‘Reading Life’ Category

From the moment I found out that I was expecting Peanut, one of the things that I was most looking forward to doing with her – and any future sibling that came along, as Nugget later did – was sharing books.  I couldn’t wait to introduce her to the classic children’s books that I remembered listening to and thumbing through with my mom – books like Blueberries for SalMake Way for DucklingsGo Dog GoAngelina Ballerina and so many more.  But more than that, even, I was looking forward to sharing my favorite books for older readers.  Especially, of course, my beloved L.M. Montgomery.  As it turned out, I read Montgomery to her sooner than I expected – when she was only a few weeks old.  Perched on a chair next to her isolette, as lights flashed and alarms beeped all around us in the NICU at Fairfax Children’s Hospital, I read Emily of New Moon to her.  Together we journeyed to Blair Water and New Moon Farm, sitting in the garden with Emily, Ilse and Teddy and listening to Cousin Jimmy recite his poetry over a crackling campfire while the Wind Woman darted through the trees.

After she finally came home from the hospital, I read to her from my own books – Miss Read, mostly, but sometimes whatever I had checked out from the Fairfax County Library – and from Winnie-the-Pooh.  I knew that hearing my voice was good for her, and reading aloud was less awkward for me than pretending to make conversation with a baby.

It comes as no surprise, I’m sure, that as she got older she was rarely far from a book.  My mission to make a reader has been going very well indeed.

Now we find ourselves poised at two crossroads.  Peanut is on the cusp of a major breakthrough in her own reading abilities – she can sound out simple words, recognize sight words, and read very easy beginning readers on her own (when she wants to).  Getting to this point has been something of a battle, because while she loves books and would like nothing more than to be able to read on her own, she also is hard-wired to resist anything an adult appears to want her to do (don’t get me started on potty training; you don’t want to know how long it took) and she has stagnated a bit over her final year of pre-kindergarten, since she’s pretty much mastered the skills but the curriculum doesn’t have her moving to the next level yet.  I’m trying to work with her at home, but I have to pick my moments – if she’s hungry, tired, or interested in doing something else I just won’t be able to sell an easy reader to her.  (And who could blame her?  Reading A blue car.  A yellow car.  A red car.  A green car. and so forth… well, it’s not the most absorbing text.)

The second crossroads is – in our read-aloud time, we’re moving on to chapter books, more and more.  Peanut still asks for favorite picture books, and I’m glad to read them.  But she’s always had a long attention span for listening to stories (for instance, she has more tolerance for some of the epically long Robert McCloskey books – like One Morning in Maine and Time of Wonder – than her dad, who groans when she requests them, which happens quite often as both are favorites).  So little by little, we have been adding chapter books to the reading diet.

We started with Freckle Juice, by Judy Blume.  I had fond memories of it, and it was so short – it seemed like a good place to begin.  Most of the story went over Peanut’s head; she doesn’t have any freckles and the classroom storyline was a bit out of her experience.  But she felt like such a proud big kid with her book that was mostly words (and just a few pictures) and she started carrying it with her to school, coming home pleased as punch one day when a few of the older kids told her it was one of their favorite books, too.  It was easy to sell her on more chapter books after that, and I made a conscious effort to choose short ones with lots of pictures, to keep it fun and on her level.  The Princess in Black books have been a big hit, and so have some of the American Girl chapter books.  I took a leap of faith and pulled out Mr. Popper’s Penguins to read before we saw the show at the Kennedy Center in December, and we worked our way through it, a chapter at a time, as our bedtime reading for weeks.

Her most recent request – well, recurring request really, she begged for months – was for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.  I was a little unsure about that one.  The chapters are longer than what she’s been used to, and the end of the story (even the first book) is a little intense.  But I have the gorgeous illustrated edition, and she asked and asked and asked, so we jumped in.  Reactions have been a bit of a mixed bag.  Some of the chapters – especially at the beginning – have tested even Peanut’s superhuman patience for long stories.  And she waited, and waited, and waitedAND WAITED for Hermione to finally become friends with Harry and Ron.  (We’re there at last.)  I’m still not entirely sure if we will be able to actually get through the whole book – snuffing out her budding love for Harry Potter is the last thing I want to do.

But she’s taken to carrying her chapter books around and flipping through them, intently studying even the pages with no pictures.  (She says she likes looking at the words.)  And I told her that when she learned to read, she could read anything from the bookshelves at home – nothing will be off limits – and she threw her arms around my neck and screamed with joy.  And I think that’s half the battle.  The skills will come with time and patience.  The desire to read and the love of books – that’s already there, so I feel like 99% of the battle is already won.

Now is the part where I hit you up for recommendations.  What are your best tips for making the leap to chapter books?  And what are your favorite chapter books for budding readers and pre-readers with a long attention span?



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Reflections on Project 24

Last December, I thought it would be a good idea to sign on to Simon‘s Project 24 – a commitment to buy only twenty-four books for myself all year.  (Books gifted to someone else are exempt, and books that I receive as gifts are also exempt.)  Since I try to only buy two books per month anyway, I thought this shouldn’t be too terribly difficult.  I just wouldn’t utilize any of my exceptions.  And it seemed like a good idea, since my shelves were already looking… well, there was space, but not a ton, and my little urban townhouse is a pretty good size for my neighborhood but still not exactly what you’d call spacious.  At some point, I’ll run out of room for books – especially when you consider that the kids have a considerable library of their own now, and it competes with mine for shelf space.  (This both delights and horrifies me.  I love that they’re into books.  But I’m territorial about my shelves.)

So – long story short – I went for it.  And I did it!  I only bought, for myself, twenty-four books this year.  They were:

  1. The Red House Mystery, by A.A. Milne
  2. The Little White Horse, by Elizabeth Goudge
  3. Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery
  4. Anne of Avonlea, by L.M. Montgomery
  5. Envelope Poems, by Emily Dickinson
  6. Mary Barton, by Elizabeth Gaskell
  7. Wives and Daughters, by Elizabeth Gaskell
  8. North and South, by Elizabeth Gaskell
  9. Anderby Wold, by Winifred Holtby
  10. The Land of Green Ginger, by Winifred Holtby
  11. Three Men in a Boat, by Jerome K. Jerome
  12. Before Lunch, by Angela Thirkell
  13. A Memoir of Jane Austen, by Edward Austen-Leigh
  14. The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien
  15. Father Brown Stories: Volume 1, by G.K. Chesterton
  16. Father Brown Stories: Volume 2, by G.K. Chesterton
  17. After Many Years, by L.M. Montgomery
  18. Sylvia’s Lovers, by Elizabeth Gaskell
  19. Ruth, by Elizabeth Gaskell
  20. 60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Washington, D.C., by Renee Sklarew & Rachel Cooper
  21. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: Illustrated Edition, by J.K. Rowling
  22. The Blue Castle, by L.M. Montgomery
  23. Portrait of Elmbury, by John Moore
  24. Brensham Village, by John Moore

And that’s it!  Kind of – read on.

Reflections on the experience, and a confession or two:

  • I didn’t cheat!  I didn’t use any of my exceptions, and I was scrupulously honest about… well… some things.  For instance?  Father Brown Stories came as a two-volume box set.  The volumes are packaged together and have an illustration that spans both spines.  I could maybe have gotten away with calling it one book purchase.  But I didn’t.  And the hiking book – well, that is a book for the whole family.  I could have argued it wasn’t “for myself” and exempted it from Project 24.  But – again! – I didn’t.
  • I cheated a little.  While I abided by the letter of the rules, if I’m being completely honest I’ll have to admit that I didn’t always abide by the spirit.  I bought kindle books that were featured on the Modern Mrs. Darcy daily ebook deals emails.  (Never more than $2.99!)  I used my feminine wiles to get Steve to buy a copy of A Gentleman in Moscow for me when it became clear I wasn’t going to be able to finish my library copy by the deadline.  And in the run-up to Christmas, I ordered several out of print books, including a boxed set of five Jeeves books (as my friend Susan said in support of this bending of the rules: “Baby, this is Jeeves.  You do what you have to do.”) and handed them to Steve with instructions to wrap them up and put them under the tree.  This is probably against Simon’s rules.  But the thing is – when you come across a rare and out-of-print book, what are you supposed to do?  Clearly, there’s only one right answer.

  • Goddess bless the library.  I wouldn’t have gotten through this year without the library.  (That’s true of every year, of course.)  It’s a lot easier to keep to a strict book-buying budget/diet when you have more books than you could ever read just a few short blocks away, all neatly shelved in the neighborhood library.  Also, who are these people who claim libraries are irrelevant and no adult uses them?  I’d go broke without the library.
  • It’s a good thing the kids’ books were exempt.  Since buying gifts for other people doesn’t count toward Project 24, I made liberal use of the allowance to buy even more books for the kids.  I buy them tons of books – all the time – anyway, but I’d be less than honest if I told you that I didn’t enjoy their books, too.  I love a beautifully-worded, sumptuously illustrated picture book just as much as the next preschooler.  Quite a few of my “ooooooh! pretty!” book purchases this year ended up being children’s books.  After all, as C.S. Lewis said: “A children’s book that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s book at all.”
  • I don’t think I saved money.  Here’s the problem with a strict book-buying diet.  When you’re only buying a very limited, very small number of books for yourself over an entire year, it’s way too easy to justify those books being big, expensive Folio Society books.  If I only shopped at used bookstores and thrift shops, maybe I could have massively trimmed my book-buying budget.  But I fell into the deep, deep trap of rationalization: “I haven’t bought any books in almost two months!  I DESERVE this $70 out-of-print Folio edition of Wives and Daughters!”  If I hadn’t been restricting myself, I probably would have bought more $8.00 BL Crime Classics paperbacks and fewer hefty Folio editions of Gaskell.  Just saying.  And on that rationale, I’m off to eat some chocolate and cruise Amazon.

Have you ever put yourself on a book-buying diet?  Did you cheat?

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Sigh.  Does it have to be Monday?  Can we have another weekend first?  Ours was easygoing and low-key, matching the rainy weather outside.  I really want a do-over of Saturday – we had a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese, which is never my first choice of activities.  (Being honest.)  I think the birthday honoree had a fabulous time, which is of course all that matters, but is there an adult on the planet who doesn’t leave that place with a headache?  On Sunday we mostly bummed around the house, but Peanut and I escaped during a break in the rain and headed to a friend’s house for a Wellie Wishers playdate.  The other mom and I had a lovely time chatting while the girls ignored their Wellie Wishers (which were just a convenient excuse, really) and spent their time emptying the dress-up drawers, filling the sink with bubbles and emptying a tube of toothpaste over Peanut’s head.  Good times.


Reading.  Such a good reading week, you guys.  I finished Thrush Green midweek and it was so delightful.  The last time I read it, I think I was too fresh from finishing Fairacre, and nothing else was going to live up to it.  On this read, I was able to approach Thrush Green anew and take it on its own merits and it was a joy.  Then I checked one off the longstanding TBR – I am Malala.  It was really powerful and just such a breathtaking reading experience.  Now I’m approaching midway through Portrait of Elmbury, my first Slightly Foxed Edition, and loving it.  There are a couple of sentences that are very jarring to the modern reader (isn’t that always the case? so frustrating) but overall, it’s lovely.

Watching.  The Olympics, of course!  I was ready – even had bibimbap for lunch on Friday.  We loved the opening ceremonies; we always do.  (Although, I have to ask, Ralph Lauren – WHY?  WHY with the work gloves, and the fringe, and just… oh, Hecate.  So, so bad.)  We were really excited to see an ADK boy take home a silver medal in luge.  Go ‘dacks!

Listening.  For about the first half of the week, I was flipping back and forth between Harry Potter and the Sacred Text and other podcasts, but midweek I switched to Audible and started listening to the first season of Home Front from BBC Radio.  So good!  I’d like to listen to it with a cup of tea in my hand while gathered around an old-timey radio in my living room.  But – well – it’s mostly Metro listening.  I suppose I could have a cup of tea if I listened to Audible at home, which I don’t.

Reminiscing.  Watching the winter Olympics always takes me back to 1998.  When the Nagano games were airing, I was an exchange student in Germany, and I watched most of the coverage with my host family auf Deutsch.  I always get a particular laugh out of my memories of watching some of the Games in a sports bar on top of the local hockey rink (after banging drums, stamping my feet and shouting my support for Adendorfer Eishockey) and giggling helplessly as my host sister’s friend Per-Ole climbed on top of the bar, raised his bier and shouted indignantly “Curling ist ein Frauensport!  Frauensport!”  Heh.

Blogging.  Bookish week coming up for you!  On Wednesday, I have some final thoughts on Project 24 (spoiler: it neither saved me any money nor taught me better habits) and on Friday, I’m chatting about starting to read chapter books with my budding bookworm.  Check in with me then!

Loving.  I mentioned it above, but just about ninety minutes into the first season I’m kind of obsessed with Home Front.  It’s a radio drama – full cast, of course – featuring several characters holding down the fort on the home front in a Kentish village during World War I.  Just a few episodes in and there’s a secret engagement, an even more secret pregnancy, an adulterous vicar, and two missing kids.  Gulp!  And the soldiers haven’t even left for the front yet.  Obsessed, I tell you.  The production is fabulous and I’m already hooked on the story.

Asking.  What are you reading this week?

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Happy day-after-Superbowl-Sunday, friends!  (Or, as I like to think of it, No More Football For Months Day!)  We hosted a very small Superbowl party – just us, Zan and Paul, and Rebecca.  We all had a fabulous time eating yummy snacks (Zan brought veggies and hummus; Rebecca brought vegan queso, chips and guac, and a healthy chocolate chip cookie cake – made from chickpea flour and sweetened with dates; and I contributed tempeh chili, seitan Buffalo wings, jalapeno-cheddar cornbread, and a raw corn, tomato and avocado salad) and not really watching the game.  Well, the boys watched the game.  The girls watched the commercials and chased the kids around.  Nugget was excited to throw his (stuffed) football with Uncle Paul, and we all ended up tossing it around the living room and screaming with laughter.  It was just what the doctor ordered.  Well, until Nugget got overtired and started screaming with not-laughter.  The rest of the weekend was pretty low key.  On Saturday, Nugget and I went to Falls Church to check out Rebecca’s farmers market while Steve took Peanut to a friend’s birthday party.  I squeezed in an hour of work on Saturday morning, which felt like nothing at all, and Nugget and I did a big grocery run and a diaper bank drop on Sunday morning.  It was a good combination of errands and friend time, and I’m not ready for it to be Monday.  But at least we have the Olympics to look forward to!


Reading.  It was another fairly slow week on the book front.  Between working another 50+ hour week (which is becoming the norm) and then spending most of the weekend either socializing or running errands, book time was limited.  I finished Salt Houses mid-week, on the very last day of January.  As I mentioned in my reading round-up, it didn’t really do it for me.  It was a lovely book, but neither multigenerational family sagas nor linked short stories are my cup of tea, and this was both.  Next I turned my attention to Salvage the Bones, since it was due back to the library on Saturday and not returnable.  It was very hard to read.  The chapters on Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath were breathlessly enthralling and well-done, but the rest of the book was tough.  Part of it focuses on dog-fighting, and I had to skip those sections.  It was one I felt like I should read, so I did, but I didn’t enjoy the reading experience.  So it was good to turn, after that, to something warm and comforting – Thrush Green, which is actually a re-read for me.  I am trying to participate in the year-long #MissReadalong on Instagram, but am behind – Thrush Green was January’s book.  I enjoyed it last time I read it, but am loving it even more now that I’m a couple of years removed from finishing the Fairacre books and am not constantly comparing it and missing the characters from that series.

Watching.  The Superbowl!  Haha, just kidding.  I barely even looked at the commercials – I watched a few of them, but I was mostly engaged in getting the food ready or parenting during the party, so it wasn’t a big night in front of the TV.  Earlier in the week, when I was feeling fried, Steve and I watched the Bears Ears National Monument episode of Rock the Park, which was sad – it looks like such a special place, and it’s heartbreaking that our government has stripped it of federal protection.  Then on Saturday, looking for some comedy, we checked out the first two episodes of The Good Place, which was as funny and delightful as my friend Susan promised it would be, and we will definitely be watching more.

Listening.  I hopped around all over the place on my earbuds last week.  A couple of podcasts – The Book Riot Podcast, to stay current; the final episode of the first season of Annotated, which I had been saving; and several chapters of Harry Potter and the Sacred Text.  Some Forlorn Strangers, some Decemberists, and a few movements of Holst’s The Planets performed by the London Symphony Orchestra.  See?  I told you I was all over the place.

Moving.  Should I take this category out?  Other than some walking on the weekend, nothing.  Working these crazy hours is hard.  My beloved yoga and barre3 classes have fallen by the wayside, and forget about running.  I have some events I want to do this spring and summer, so I need to get back in the habit lest I find myself completely out of it when it comes time to start training.

Blogging.  Some bookish musing coming to you on Wednesday, and a quick (mostly pictures) recap of all the hikes from my monthly hiking project from 2017 on Friday.  Check back!

Loving.  Dates with Steve!  We have been wanting to add to our roster of babysitters, and we tried a new one out last week.  She fed the kids dinner, played with them and put them to bed, while we enjoyed a five-course Japanese dinner and then wandered over to a wine bar we’d not yet tried and split two flights of wine.  She did a great job, the kids had a wonderful time, and it was so refreshing to get a mid-week night out as just grownups.  Related: I love living in a walkable neighborhood!  Dinner was two blocks from my house and the wine bar was one block, and it really helped curb my new-babysitter anxiety to know that we were a two minute sprint from home if anything happened.  I don’t know if we’ll stay in our current neighborhood forever, but it sure does have some major points in the plus column.

Asking.  What are you reading this week?

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Yawwwwwwwn.  Monday already?  This weekend FLEW.  Last week was insanely hectic – I ended up working 65 hours, and while it was a great (and helpful) boost for me, it was also exhausting.  Work was life – waking up early, churning it out all day, rushing home to make it just in time to tuck the babies in, and then right back onto the computer.  In law firm life, weeks like that are a double-edged sword.  On the one hand, a few weeks of hours like that can make a big dent in billables for the year, and that’s definitely a plus.  On the other hand – I am wiped out.  At the end of the week, all I wanted to do was hang out and pal around with the little ones, so that’s what I did.  Saturday was the nicer weather day, and the kids had been begging for the zoo, so that’s what we did.  We weren’t able to see the elephants, because they were off wandering somewhere, but the cheetah habitat was finally open again, so that was a highlight.  In the afternoon, I squeezed in more work while the kids slept, but once Nugget rolled out of bed we headed over to his second-favorite playground (he felt like mixing it up) and both worked off our excess energy climbing on stuff, racing up and down the basketball court, and kicking a playground ball around.  Sunday was dreary and rainy.  I didn’t work, which felt weird after putting in at least a few hours for the past three weekends.  But I did get about five loads of laundry folded, and cleaned up my room and the family room.  Having those spaces neat and orderly feels like such a relief.  And now it’s back at it for another week.  Hoping for balance this week – I’d like to keep the hours going, but maybe with a little more sleep too.


Reading.  A slower week, which is very much as expected, given how much I was working.  I spent most of the week reading Jane Austen: The Secret Radical – pretty much just on my commutes and a tiny bit before bed each night, and I eventually got through it.  The best part was discussing it with my friend Susan, who was reading at the same time (and was a few chapters ahead of me).  We ended up chatting up a storm about it in the office cafeteria on Friday morning while the rest of our coworkers looked on, confused.  After saying goodbye to Jane, I picked up Salt Houses, which is due back to the library next Saturday and has holds, so it can’t be renewed.  I’m enjoying it, but finding it hard to get into given the way it jumps around in time.  It’s beautifully written, though.

Watching.  Very little watching this week – the theme is going to be “I was so busy working that I hadn’t time for anything else.”  But on Saturday night, Steve and I reinstituted our movie night tradition and finally watched Hidden Figures, which was as wonderful and powerful as expected.  I usually only watch TV about one night per week, but my brain has been so fried that I ended up watching TV on Sunday, too – Steve suggested an episode of Victoria, and it was just what the doctor ordered.  Albert’s note-taking on how to please a lady!  Victoria’s Bo-Peep bonnet!  Royal wedding hijinks!

Listening.  I’ve switched back over to Harry Potter and the Sacred Text.  I took a break for a few weeks after finishing Season 1, but the time seemed right to pop back in for Season 2.  I listened to the first episode during a commute and the second while folding laundry on Sunday.  Still totally obsessed with the Forlorn Strangers, too, and I’m also rotating through my favorite Decemberists albums because THEY’RE COMING TO D.C. IN APRIL and I HAVE TICKETS.  And the Andalusian tribes setting the lay of Nebraska alight, ’til all that remains is the arms of the angels…

Moving.  The only moving I did this week was running laps around the basketball court with Nugget.  Literally I think we probably ran about a mile that way.  But other than that – nothing.  See above: 65-hour work week.  I am hoping for better next week.  I need yoga back in my life.

Blogging.  January hike coming to you on Wednesday!  I can’t tell you how excited I am to start another year-long hiking commitment.  Spoiler alert: we walked under a bridge and I have had the Red Hot Chili Peppers in my head for a week as a result.  And then on Friday, my January reading round-up.  I am currently eight books ahead of the pace I need for my goal to read 52, so things are clearly going well.

Loving.  So, I got the iPhone x last week.  Steve has been bugging me to get a new phone since October (when Nugget knocked my old one out of my hands on Halloween and shattered the screen on the OTX cobblestones) but I wanted to wait until I was actually due for an upgrade.  The day finally came and I took myself down to the Verizon store and picked out a new phone.  But what I’m more excited about than the phone, is the case.  I got one of those Lifeproof cases!  Since I am notorious for shattering iPhones (Halloween was the third shattered screen I’ve had, and it already had a couple of cracks in it even before the trick-or-treating incident) I figured this was a good investment.  It’s shockproof, shatterproof, dustproof and waterproof.  The question is – is it toddler-proof?  We’ll find out.  But this week I am loving having a whole, non-cracked phone with actual battery life and an intact case.  It’s the little things, right friends?

Asking.  What are you reading this week?

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Well, another week – here we go, I guess.  It doesn’t feel like much of a change to me, because I worked basically full days on both Saturday and Sunday.  Which is good, because I needed the hours – in law firm life, staying billable is a constant and mentally exhausting struggle – but I could have really used the brain break.  Maybe next weekend.  Maybe not.  Anyway, in between all the work – even getting up at 5:15 on Sunday to sit down in front of my legal research, gahhhh – I managed to squeeze in some reading – finishing a book I needed to get done – and the first two hikes of my 52 hike challenge for 2018.  We looped Theodore Roosevelt Island, an NPS-managed site that was open, if not staffed, despite the government shutdown, then hopped in the car and drove another ten minutes up the parkway to Scott’s Run Nature Preserve, a Fairfax County park with a cool waterfall.  Pics on Instagram, if we’re friends there, and I’ll be recapping the first of the two hikes for 12 Months of Trails in the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned.  Other than that – not much to report about the weekend.  We’re delighted that the weather has warmed up a little bit, and we got in a good stroll down to the waterfront on Saturday afternoon in preparation for two hikes on Sunday, and let the kids run around on the grass to burn off some of that winter energy.  We all needed to burn off some energy, actually.  There’s been a lot of sitting at desks and huddling indoors recently.

Reading.  As you can see, my resolution to read fewer books in 2018 is going AWESOME.  /sarcasm.  Seriously, that was one that I made pretty loosely, just to create space for the chunkier classics that I want to read, so if I end up reading more than 52 (and let’s be realistic, I will end up reading more than 52) that’s okay.  Anyway, last week was quite the banner week for reading, and especially for diverse books.  I finished the Nafisi book and the Adichie book on Monday, then blew through Exit West on President Obama’s recommendation (of course, he was totally right, and it was wonderful).  The Witches of New York took me a bit longer – read on Rebecca’s recommendation, I liked it better than the last book she recommended to me (Beautiful Creatures, which I couldn’t stand – at one point I found myself folding laundry in order to avoid it); this one, I enjoyed but wouldn’t call a favorite.  Finally, I turned to Amina’s Voice, YA about a young Muslim girl who overcomes her shyness to speak out for her community.  I just sunk into it on Sunday night, but I’m loving it so far.

Watching.  Very little.  I’m still screened out from last weekend’s epic marathon of Cars and Star Wars (Nugget is feeling much better) and didn’t want to watch anything at all over the week.  On Saturday I requested Rock the Park, thinking we should have at least five episodes queued up in our DVR, only to discover that the DVR hasn’t been recording those episodes – even though I swear we have set it to record them about three times.  Womp womp.  So instead we watched the BBC/Smithsonian documentary The Coronation, which was fascinating (and, as British TV tends to do, made me want to book a plane ticket to London immediately).

Listening.  It was all podcasts this week.  I’ve been craving my book podcasts and I keep cleaning those out of my podcatcher, which means I have a huge pile of backlog parenting podcasts – my other favored podcast topic.  Highlight: I caught up on The Book Riot Podcast, and hearing their take on Fire and Fury was very interesting.

Moving.  Some walking this weekend, in the fresh air – yay!  We took a nice long ramble around the neighborhood on Saturday afternoon, and two hikes on Sunday.  One of the two – Scott’s Run – involved walking down and then up a huge hill, which would have been challenging even without forty-ish pounds strapped to my back and whining in my ear.  Need to get back to formal exercise, though – I miss my yoga and barre classes!

Blogging.  It’s a reading-heavy week – on Wednesday I’ll share Part II of my 2017 reading retrospective, and Friday will wrap up the look-back with Part III.  I’ve also gone over my calendar and plotted out a bunch of posts coming up over the next few months, and they’re going to be quite book-heavy.  I’m always mulling over where I want to take my blog, and I am thinking that in 2018 and onward, I’d like to veer more toward books (with liberal helpings of hiking and travel) and away from kid-focused posts.  The kids will still make appearances, naturally, and I’ll write their birthday posts and similar things, but as they’re getting older and I am looking to reclaim some of my own interests, it feels right to take a step back from parenting content and toward other (less personal) topics.  Hope that’s cool with my friends.

Loving.  I hardly ever talk about food in this spot, but I have a food item – a treat, really – to share with you today.  As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I listened to the 50th episode of my favorite podcast, Tea or Books?, which was a Q&A.  One of the listener questions was about the hosts’ tea-drinking habits, and after some rather heated banter about tea itself, they buried the hatchet and agreed that their favorite snack to enjoy with their tea was dark chocolate digestives.  Well, I love digestives, and after I heard Simon and Rachel vouch for the dark chocolate variety, I couldn’t stop thinking about them.  Thanks to the magic of Amazon (although the Wegmans international aisle sometimes has digestives, so I suppose I could have checked there) I had a four-pack of dark chocolate digestive packages on my doorstep in two days, and I have indeed been enjoying one or two with my tea.  Podcasts!  They really do make the world better!

Asking.  What are you reading this week?  Do you like digestives?

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Hello to all of my friends – who is enjoying a three-day weekend?  I have the day off today (although I have some work I need to do, so hopefully I am able to make that happen at some point) but Steve has to work.  So we are going about our business, mostly, except with two littles underfoot.  This was a rough weekend – more for poor Nugget than for the rest of us, unfortunately.  On Saturday, we had a fun play date planned with Peanut’s BFF and her mom at a local indoor play spot.  Unfortunately, Saturday morning is the busiest time of the week for the play spot, and Peanut ended up crying because she was overwhelmed, which led to her BFF crying because Peanut wouldn’t play.  Sigh.  BFF’s mom and I agreed that the next play date should be something a little more low-key.  Nugget had a fantastic time climbing in the two-story play mat area, kicking a soccer ball with Steve, and playing “pit crew” with a race car made out of play mats.  Unfortunately, it seems he also brought a souvenir home with him – in the form of a tummy bug.  On Sunday he greeted Steve by declaring he was going to climb out of his crib, actually climbing out of his crib, and then confessing that his tummy hurt.  And it was downhill from there.  Steve and I were both vomited on (him once, me twice) – keeping it real, folks – and poor Nugget was trying so hard to be perky all day but couldn’t keep anything down.  He seems to be feeling a little better today, but we’ll be having a cozy day to make sure of that.


Reading.  Pretty good reading week.  On Monday I finished Letters to a Young Muslim, which was thoughtful and lovely.  Over the next couple of days I finally finished up the second issue of Slightly Foxed Quarterly (I’m working my way through the back issues) and for the rest of the week, I’ve been slowly reading through The Republic of Imagination, Azar Nafisi’s exploration of “America in three books.”  Her writing, as with Reading Lolita in Tehran, is gorgeous – but I’m not loving this book quite as much.  Reading about her immigrant experience is fascinating, but I don’t know that I agree with her choices for three books that are representative of America (which is fine – she’s the author; she gets to choose) and I also felt like some of the connections were a bit tenuous.  Still a lovely reading experience, though.  I’ll probably finish today (I’ve been promising myself for three days now that I’d finish “today”) and next up, I think, will be Exit West, which I am reading because President Obama said it was good, and that is reason enough.

Watching.  Lots of watching this week, which I suppose accords with a slower reading week – but it all took place over the weekend.  On Friday night, Steve and I reinstituted “movie night” and watched the first episode of Victoria – and then proceeded to watch three more episodes over the course of the weekend.  I also spent most of Sunday watching movies with a sick little boy.  Since the patient gets to choose the movie/subject matter, we watched CarsCars Toons: Mater’s Tall Tales (four times), and The Empire Strikes Back.  I’m pretty screened out, but I see more TV in my future, at least today.  Anything to make the puppy feel better.

Listening.  Well, the New Year’s episode of The Home Hour was hilarious – Kirsten and Graham talking about fashion is really something.  (In 2018, “utility jumpsuits” will be a trend, which is “a jumpsuit that, like, you’d wear if you work for the telephone company, and it has pockets for your tape measure.”)  Also, am I the last person on earth to find out about the Forlorn Strangers?  I downloaded their album and can’t stop listening.

Moving.  Not.  Enough said.  Maybe if it warms up I’ll get out for a run?  I was hoping for a hike over the weekend, but with a sick toddler, that went by the wayside.  Poor little guy.

Blogging.  Sharing my 2018 goals on Wednesday (and as of press time, I still haven’t fixed on a word for the year) and the first part of my three-part 2017 reading retrospective on Friday.  Check back!

Loving.  I am really loving my music player on my iPhone lately.  I’m not a huge music person and usually choose to listen to a podcast or audiobook, but I have lately rediscovered the music player and I’m alternating between show tunes (The Book of Mormon), new folk/alternative (Forlorn Strangers – my genre of choice) and classical (Charlotte Church, Holst’s The Planets, etc.).  Of course it’s wreaking havoc on my podcast-and-audiobook progress, but I’m really enjoying having music in my ears again – something that I haven’t regularly had since law school.

Asking.  What are you reading this week?

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