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Archive for the ‘Reading Life’ Category

Well – here we go again.  Another round.  I always feel like it’s only been a second since I sat down to write the last Monday post, and another one is upon me.  Last week was busy, and the weekend was busy, and next week will be busy – and I’m burnt out.  I’m hoping that all this running around will mean I can actually take a real break between Christmas and New Year’s.  We’ll see.  Anyway – not much to report about the weekend.  Both Saturday and Sunday I got up early – before 5:00 a.m. – to work, and I still didn’t get through everything I needed to do.  I probably should have bit the bullet and gone into the office all weekend, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it.  So instead, I watched the kids’ swim lessons on Saturday, then took Nugget out to run errands (our usual library and market circuit).  On Sunday, I snuck off for brunch with my friend Vanessa, then came home to plug away at more work in the afternoon.  Probably because I am really burnt out and exhausted after my marathon October – and because stress over one of the cases that had me working so many hours in October still has not let up – I was slower than usual.  Really should have kept working on Sunday evening, but I was just too tired, and wound up on the couch with my book.  I’ll be up against it this week, that’s for sure, but I’m only human.

Reading.  The fact that I only read one book all week – and didn’t even finish it – should tell you all you need to know about where my expected November reprieve has gone.  Granted, Wives and Daughters is a Victorian chunkster; they’re not exactly quick reads.  And I got through almost the entire 650-odd pages over the course of the week, reading fifty pages here, eighty pages there of an evening.  (My copy is a big Folio Society hardcover – gorgeous, but not exactly Metro material, both because it’s too heavy and because I don’t want it to get dirty or nicked, as tends to happen to the books I commute with.)  I am absolutely loving it – so far, I’ve really enjoyed everything I’ve read by Elizabeth Gaskell, but Wives and Daughters is my favorite.  And I expect I’ll finish it tonight, and be on to my next read, which will be The Shadow King, since I’m contending with a library deadline.  Even with my diligence, that’s probably going to be overdue when I return it – I have book club this week and am, fingers crossed, wrapping up a major project at work.  But at least I’ll be toting The Shadow King on the Metro, which does wonders for reading progress during the week.

Watching.  It feels weird to not be watching baseball playoffs, but I got quite a bit of time back this week.  Steve and I watched one episode of The Great British Bake-Off (I refuse to say “Baking Show”) but we’re still well behind.  It’s kind of nice to watch them slowly and savor them, though.  And on Sunday, we had a family movie night and watched Rogue One – Nugget’s choice.  I thought it was a little dark for him (although I confess to loving it and to finding Jyn Erso alarmingly relatable) but he had a grand time.

Listening.  I’m pleased to report that I made good use of my commuting time, even if it wasn’t for reading, and finished up The Great Courses: History of Medieval England from the Romans to the Wars of the Roses (or something, I can’t remember the exact title, but that’s the time period it covers).  All nineteen hours, done!  And it’s a mark of how good the series was, that I was sad when it ended.  Since wrapping up my audiobook, I’ve just listened to a podcast here and a podcast there.  My co-worker Anne insisted that I listen to an episode of The Daily on the Kentucky governor’s race and how the possible impeachment of the Orange Pretender factored into the result, so that we could discuss it.  I listened obligingly, reported to her office, and we proceeded to get really depressed together.  Good times.

Making.  While I’m still busy and burnt out and pretty unhappy about it all, things must be looking up, because I did actually make a couple of things this week – beyond work product, that is.  On Sunday, I had a sudden urge to bake what I call a “family cake” – just a quick, tossed together, informal and rustic-looking tea cake.  I started with a Dorie Greenspan recipe and added ground almonds, coconut, and dried sour cherries, and it came out pretty well.  I thought it was a little too sweet (despite cutting the sugar in the recipe by nearly half) but Steve disagreed and polished off half the cake by himself.  I’m leaving him one more slice and taking the rest to the office today.  And for Sunday dinner I made one of my favorite meals – bolognese.  Impossible burger ground and six dollar Sangiovese for the win!  (I know, I know, you should never cook with wine you wouldn’t drink.  Don’t worry, friends.  I also had two glasses of the six dollar Sangiovese and it was completely decent.)  Photographic evidence above.

Blogging.  I have a treat in store for you this week – a new blog series that I’ve decided to make a regular thing.  I’m introducing it on Wednesday, and the first official post will be Friday.  Check in with me then!

Loving.  Important announcement, you guys!  It is CRANBERRY GINGER SHANDY season again!  I really like Leinenkugel shandies – the summer shandy is absolutely respectably, the grapefruit shandy is superior, but the seasonal cranberry ginger shandy is the BEST.  (Do not talk to me about pumpkin spice shandy.  Rebecca.  Do NOT.)  I only have it between November and the end of January – sometimes it’s in stores into February, but at that point I think it’s only right to move on to grapefruit shandy.  I’ve been on a big sour beer kick for a year now, but I will never abandon the beloved cranberry ginger shandy.

Asking.  What are you reading this week?

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Well, here we go – another new week.  These weekends are just flying by, and before I’ve even gotten to relax, another Monday is dawning.  Last week wrapped up my horrible busy October at work – I’m still busy, but it’s a tiny bit more manageable.  I celebrated the end of the worst work month ever with a fun Halloween last Thursday; my parents were in town from upstate New York to witness the fun in Old Town.  Our witch and bat had a grand time trick-or-treating and showing off the festive fun to their grandparents, and we even managed to get everyone shuffled off to bed after a minimum of chocolate.  My parents stayed through the kids’ swim lesson on Saturday, then were back off home, because my dad had a meeting that he couldn’t miss on Sunday.  Their visit was too short, but we’ll see them again for Thanksgiving in a few weeks.  After they left, we put on our red and headed to downtown D.C. to celebrate the Nationals and their championship!  I’d never seen a sports championship parade before – it was certainly a sight to behold.  Nugget and I snuck through the crowd and were lucky enough to find a tiny unoccupied spot right at the front, and we had a fantastic view of the players and the World Series trophy.  What a fun experience!  (And, as I said to Steve, now that I’ve seen one – I can watch the next championship parade on TV.)  Sunday was a pretty laid-back day.  The kids were up at the crack of dawn (thank you, Daylight Savings Time) but they played relatively well and didn’t wake Mom and Dad up before new 6:30, so that was a win.  Nugget was my Sunday buddy, as usual – I took him to the playground to run off his energy, and then out for a birthday party in the afternoon.  He ran around and bodyslammed his buddies, and I ate pizza with the moms and discussed all the new curse words the kids have recently learned.  Never a dull moment.

Reading.  Pretty average reading week.  I spent most of the week over Plague Land, which I liked, but didn’t love.  I may continue with the series, but I need a break.  Over the course of Sunday morning (during cartoon time and at the playground) I read a back issue of Slightly Foxed, and it was clearly a good one, because several of the featured titles found their way into my Abebooks cart.  Ended the weekend re-committing to Wives and Daughters, which I am enjoying, but which is hard to tote around town and to work with me – Folio Society hardcovers are beautiful, but not especially portable.

Watching.  One last week of baseball!  I stayed up until midnight on Tuesday and Wednesday, watching the final two games of the World Series – long after Steve had gone to bed.  And of course the best thing I watched was the Commissioner’s Trophy making its way down Constitution Avenue atop a Big Bus.  Go Nats!

Listening.  A little of this, a little of that.  Some music – show tunes, probably – and some more of my Audible Great Courses “History of Medieval England” audiobook course.  I’ve got a little over six hours left.  Home stretch!

Making.  Nothing, much.  Lots of work product, as usual.  Chatter with the other moms at the playground and this weekend’s birthday party.  Plans for baking bread and cooking up veggie stew – but no actual bread and no actual stew.  A lot of complaints about the disaster zone that the house has become (So! Many! Toys! Everywhere!) but very little progress in actually cleaning it up.  I’m just so exhausted.

Blogging.  I need a turn and more balance in November, so Wednesday’s post contains some musings about how I’m hoping to focus on self-care this month.  On Friday, I’ve got October’s reading recap for you – lots of highlights from a good month of reading.  (At least October was good for something.)  Check in with me then!

Loving.  One more time – I have loved the journey the Nationals took us all on this baseball season and postseason.  As I’ve mentioned a couple of times recently, I’ve been following the Nats – mostly casually, but always enthusiastically – since they returned to D.C. in 2005, when I was in law school.  I have fond memories of watching them lose spectacularly at the old RFK Stadium, beers in hand, with college friends.  I’m definitely not going to multiple games every season – who has the time, let alone the spare babysitter cash? – but I do love the team, and this team has had something special about them all season.  It was a joy to watch them catch fire this summer, and the ride through the postseason was so much fun.  As they say – bumpy roads lead to beautiful places, and the Nats definitely wound up in a beautiful place.  It’s been fun to cheer along this summer and fall.  Now re-sign Rendon, please!  Let’s go Nats!

Asking.  What are you reading this month?

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I’m exhaling – just a little, and cautiously, because you never know.  But I think the worst of October is behind me.  I spent last week on a business trip to Dallas – a stressful one with long hours and a lot of pressure.  I can’t talk about it for obvious reasons, but I’m glad it’s behind me, and glad to have had supportive colleagues that stood ready to help, a boss who took my calls at any hour of the day and into the night, and the chance to go out for Tex-Mex a couple of times.  (Alone each time, just me and my book – which was exactly what I needed after days on end of meetings.)  I got home at 1:00 a.m. on Saturday, collapsed into bed, and was up bright and early to greet two little pairs of feet running down the hall to welcome me home.  After such a long, charged workweek, I really needed a restful weekend to recharge.  Two days were not enough, but they were better than nothing.  On Saturday, Peanut was complaining of an earache, so she stayed home with Daddy while I shuttled Nugget to swimming lessons and then to a new-to-us roadside produce stand to pick out our family pumpkins.  Our next-door neighbor was delighted when we told her where we were going, and begged to be remembered to the chickens – she said they would come running if they heard her name.  We did see chickens, but none of them responded to Nugget’s and my shouts of “HEY CHICKENS!  CHICKENS!  ZOYA SAYS HELLO, CHICKENS!” and we got more than a few strange/alarmed looks from fellow pumpkin shoppers.  We left with a wagonload of pumpkins and inspiration to create a pumpkin in honor of the Washington Nationals (who need all the encouragement they can get right now).  Sunday was another laid-back neighborhood day.  I took Nugget out for a haircut in the morning – he needed it; his hair had grown into a shaggy mop that I loved but that was making Steve crazy – and we got caught in a torrential rainstorm.  Eventually the rain stopped and we wandered over to the playground for an hour – and that’s about it.  Just a simple, at-home weekend, which was what I needed.  I could use another day or seven, but it’s back to the grind for a few days, and then a true exhale at Halloween.

Reading.  Slow reading week, but a good weekend.  I spent the workweek over The Secrets We Kept – started it on the plane to Dallas on Sunday night (if you heard about the tornado, yes – it was an exciting flight) and read it in bits and pieces all week; a few chapters over breakfast here, dinner there, until I finally finished it in the airport on Friday afternoon, while waiting for my plane to arrive.  Rather pessimistically, but on the off chance I did actually get through an entire book over the course of the week, I’d packed Sula in my suitcase, so I swapped them out and started my first Toni Morrison novel (I’ve read a book of her essays, but never read her fiction).  Read for a little while on the plane, before spending most of the flight frustrating myself trying unsuccessfully to stream the World Series, then finished it up on Saturday evening.  At first I thought I’d go back to Wives and Daughters, but remembering that my book club is reading The Blue Castle (my selection) this month, I pulled Valancy off my shelf, sunk in and immediately remembered how much I loved this book the first time I read it (at Sarah and Naomi‘s behest).

Watching.  Lots of baseball highs and lows.  I ecstatically jumped on my bed in my Dallas hotel room as my Nats got off to a roaring start in the World Series, but missed all but the first two innings of Friday’s game, and those I watched at a bar in the Dallas airport, shoulder-to-shoulder with a bunch of new friends.  Anytime someone tried to sit with us, we made them swear allegiance to the Nationals.  It occurred to me that we could have made for a very funny, banter-y start to a sitcom or romantic comedy movie.  The game didn’t turn out well despite our pilot’s helpfully announcing the score periodically over the comm (obviously, a plane full of people going to D.C. were going to be interested).  And Saturday night was – yeesh.  Come on, guys!  We need this!  I’ve been a Nats fan since they rebooted the franchise while I was in law school – I remember going to games with my friend Amy back at the old RFK Stadium, when the Nats were so bad that it felt like watching a Little League game.  (And y’all: I have a younger brother.  I have watched several people’s shares of Little League games.)  I’ve cheersed with beers with college friends at Nationals Park, paddled the Anacostia just below the stadium, and pointed out the racing Presidents to the kids.  This team feels like they have something really special and we’re in sort of a dark place as a city right now.  We could all use something to believe in.

Listening.  I’ve been in a music mood all week, and the fact that my earbuds were blasting a rotating playlist of Eye of the Tiger – Hasa Diga Eebowai – Down in the Trenches Could We Start Again, Please – Landslide should tell you everything you need to know about my week.

Making.  Bolognese!  Saturday night!  Because Impossible Ground is now at Wegmans!  And that calls for a celebration!  Steve, Nugget and I loved it.  Peanut was unimpressed.  Story of my life.

Blogging.  You all know what’s killing me – work, these days, especially the contentious case that brought me to Dallas all of last week.  So on Wednesday I have done my best to come up with a “saving my life” list, a la Katie.  And on Friday, a few snaps from Halloween.  Stay tuned!

Loving.  Honestly, my first inclination was to say “nothing.”  It was a long, miserable week.  But I try to end on something positive every week, so – think, think, think, as Pooh would say.  One thing that I have really enjoyed this weekend is Miyoko’s vegan roadhouse cheddar – I’m slowly working my way through their product lineup and I am super impressed.  It’s a cashew base with nutritional yeast and a pleasantly tangy flavor, and I have been dipping pretzels in it and starting to think that I need to plan a trip to Bavaria.

Asking.  What are you reading this week?

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It’s Monday.  Monday is here.  The weekend was, and it is no more, and now it’s Monday.  So.  Here we go.  I’m feeling excessively blah these days – probably as a result of the busiest month I’ve had at work in I-can’t-remember-how-long.  I knew it was going to be miserable, but I didn’t know just how miserable it would be.  Last week, I billed – billed – sixty hours, and that’s with taking Monday off.  I missed bedtime on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and I was getting up at 4:00 a.m. to work and working until 10:00 or 11:00 p.m. with almost no breaks.  And that includes the weekend.  On Saturday, I got up at zero-dark-hundred (4:00 again) and started working, and I’d billed more than three hours before anyone woke up.  Kept the work going more or less steadily all day, minus the kiddos’ swim lessons, a much-needed nap, and a trip to Carter’s to pick up school pants for a certain young man who tears through knees on almost a weekly basis.  On Sunday, I probably should have worked again, but I was exhausted and staring down the barrel of a weeklong business trip to Dallas (and it’s going to be a stressful, high-stakes, high-tension one) so I just bummed around the house with the kids.  It rained all day, so we knocked around doing rainy day activities, including playing catch in the bedroom (don’t tell Steve).  Ended the weekend not in the usual way – on a plane, Dallas-bound.  Wish me luck, guys.

Reading.  As you can probably guess from the 60-hour billing week, it was a sloooooooow reading week.  I only had a few minutes each night to read before crashing, and I was usually too tired to do more than just mindlessly scroll through Instagram, so very little reading happened.  I made incremental progress in Wives and Daughters and feel like I’ve barely started.  The only thing I was actually able to finish this week was the latest issue of Slightly Foxed – an escape into a saner, more literary world and very much needed.  On Sunday night, setting Wives and Daughters aside in favor of a library book with a deadline, I started The Secrets We Kept on the plane to Dallas.  Too soon to tell, but Reese’s book club tends to be pretty reliable.

Listening.  Pretty much the only thing that gave me joy this week was listening to The Great Courses “History of Medieval England” lecture series on Audible.  I looked forward to zoning out with my coffee and the wreck of the White Ship on the Metro, and I don’t care who knows it.  The only downside?  My co-workers now think I’m a total dork, just because I said “This witness is going to collapse like an Anglo-Saxon shield wall at the Battle of Hastings.”  What?

Watching.  Not much.  Jurassic Park (a classic) on the couch with Nugget.  That’s about it.  Mostly, I watched my favorite month slip away into a haze of billable hours and heated exchanges with opposing counsel.

Making.  Nothing at all, unless you count lots and lots and lots of work product.  And the to-do list never gets shorter, either.

Blogging.  Another Classics Club review for you on Wednesday, and the final PNW travel recap on Friday.  I’m always sad to wrap up recaps of a great trip, but it’s time.  And time to start thinking about the inevitable question: where to next?  There’s something in the works, but I don’t know yet.

Loving.  My tomato plant, after struggling along and doing basically nothing all summer, has suddenly exploded with little ruby-red tomatoes.  How?  It is challenging everything I thought I knew about tomatoes.  For instance, it’s been chilly and rainy this week, and yet – there they are, those little heat-loving gems.  Nugget and I grab one every time we walk out the back door, and it’s been such a treat to see them winking at me from among the inexplicably green and vibrant leaves.  (I had two tomato plants.  The other one is a dried-up husk.  Mystery.)

Asking.  What are you reading this week?

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Good morning, happy new week, and happy three-day weekend if you’re having one!  My firm doesn’t give Columbus/Indigenous Peoples Day off, but I am taking it off anyway, because the kids’ school is closed and because I billed almost 60 hours last week and need the extra day.  (Not that I’m expecting a day of being outnumbered by kiddos to be any kind of relaxing.)  The weekend was wonderful.  Steve and the kids gave me a fabulous birthday celebration and I smiled the whole time.  On Saturday morning I took the kids to their swim lessons while Steve stayed home and got a little work done, then we ate a quick lunch at home and walked down to the waterfront to check out the Portside Festival.  (Went via the library, where Peanut got her very first library card!)  We had a lot of fun – hugged some friends, watched a canoe paddle being made by hand, Nugget made a little boat to sail in the bathtub, and Peanut made up a dance routine that she forced Steve to perform over and over in any non-crowded space they were able to find – but I could also see it being a fun adults-only event.  There was live music, beer and chili, and some beautiful handmade wooden boats I’d have loved to look at more closely if I wasn’t trying to soothe a tantrum because Nugget missed out on watching the “anything that floats” race.  We meandered home slowly, stopping by Old Town Books for books (naturally) and Hank’s Oyster Bar for dinner.

Sunday was my actual birthday and we were out the door early and headed for the mountains – Shenandoah River State Park, this time.  I was waffling between the state park and the bigger Shenandoah National Park (which y’all know I love) but the state park won out because we’d not been there yet.  We checked out Culler’s Overlook, explored the network of trails, then headed home – via a stop in Front Royal for lunch – to hit up Nugget’s fall class get-together.  Spent a little more than an hour standing around in the home of one of Nugget’s classmates, chatting with various moms and dads and trying not to stare too obviously at the host family’s gorgeous new kitchen.  Had to leave a little early to get home and intercept my cousin Jaime, who drove all the way from New York to pick up my crib for her expected (in April) new addition.  Now that Nugget is in a big boy bed, we’ve been needing to clear the crib out, but I really wanted to give it to a family member – I was ready to get it out of my basement, but not out of my family.  Jaime’s announcement was timed perfectly, and she happily drove off with the crib, mattress, a video monitor, and a bunch of baby bed linens.  Ended the weekend with delicious eggplant parm at Mia’s Italian Kitchen, FaceTime with my parents, and then a good hour with my book before I crashed.  It was a good day.  The kind of good you can feel in your bones.

Reading.  In addition to a good birthday weekend, it was a good reading week – four classics, all of which I enjoyed immensely.  I finished The Eagle of the Ninth on Tuesday, and loved every moment; I think it might be in my top ten for the year.  Wanting to get a library book off the stack – and tick off another Classics Club entry, I read Washington Square over the next few days.  My first Henry James, and I really enjoyed it.  Over the weekend, I decided to read something bulky that I wouldn’t want to tote to the Metro and back, so I spent two days happily engrossed in The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady.  (I also didn’t want my beautiful copy getting damaged in my work bag – the joke was on me there, because when I put it into my tote bag to take in the car on the way to the mountains on Sunday, Nugget’s lunch box nicked the cover anyway.  Oh, well.  Books were made to be read, so now the Edwardian Lady can claim a battle scar.)  I finished up Country Diary on Sunday night and because I can’t go to bed “between” books – I always have to be actively reading something – I started Wives and Daughters.  Another bulky one (I have a Folio Society hardcover edition) that I can’t really tote on the Metro, but we’ll cross that bridge tomorrow.

Watching.  The Nats, going up 2-0 in their series against the Arizona Cardinals before heading home to Washington for the next game.  Some exciting runs and catches in the game – and now!  Just two wins away from the World Series!  Not counting out the Cards, certainly, but as my former boss commented on Facebook, rather to be up 2-0 than down 0-2.  Steve, Nugget and I were alternating between fist-pumping and covering our eyes during the ninth inning.  Even Peanut was mildly interested.

Listening. Still working my way through The History of Medieval Britain and alternating with Decemberists.  Feels fitting somehow.

Making.  My blue seed stitch scarf, which Nugget has claimed for himself (we’ll see) – I’m going to have to start on the kids’ Christmas gifts that they want, sooner than later.  Also making: progress in the basement, thanks to my cousin taking my crib off my hands.

Blogging.  A book review coming for you on Wednesday, and those Seattle pictures I promised – for real this time – on Friday.  It’s going to be another busy week at work, but I’ve just got to get that post done.  I’ve just got to.

Loving.  Steve, for making my birthday weekend so wonderful.  Everything from the mountain hike to the yummy Italian food to the kids leaping out from under a blanket with my new rollaboard (I’ve been wanting one for years) was just what I wanted.  He said he had a great weekend too, which made me so happy.  I’m glad that the things I wanted to do were fun for more than just me!

Asking.  What are you reading this week?

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So begins a new week, and I’m going into four straight weeks of extreme overload at work – wish me luck, friends, because I’m going to need it.  I tried to rest up for the week as best I could this weekend, because I’ve got a hectic one ahead and they’re going to get worse before they get better.  So it was the usual bumping around town.  On Saturday morning we lazed around in jammies until it was time to hit the pool for week two of the kiddos’ swim lessons.  Nugget wasn’t especially enthusiastic, but we struck a deal – I would tell the instructor to keep him in two feet or less, and he would participate – and he ended up having a super time.  Peanut, of course, loved every minute.  The rest of Saturday was kind of a blur.  I know I went to the library, and to Target to pick out sheets and a quilt for Nugget’s new big boy bed (the poor guy had been sleeping on a pair of scratchy purple Queen Elsa sheets) but I don’t remember much else – other than that Steve and I watched our Sabres kick some @$$ after the kids went to bed, and it was like old times.  Sunday brought another lazy morning, then Nugget and I headed out to Herndon for his best buddy’s birthday party – on a farm!  There were tractor rides, goats to pet, and a huge cake from Costco.  What more could you want?  And that’s it – I ended the weekend curled up with a book, per usual, and I’m hoping that a simple weekend, filled with family time and hugs from friends, will carry me through the next phase of this absurdly busy month.

Reading.  It was a good reading week – slow to start, but all so enjoyable.  I spent most of the week over Toil and Trouble: 15 Tales of Women and Witchcraft.  As with any short story collection, some were winners for me and others less so, but Jessica Spotswood and Tess Sharpe continue to knock these girl-focused short story collections out of the park.  I set Toil and Trouble aside briefly when I realized that I was about to bump up against a library deadline for Pumpkinheads – which I read over the course of one day’s commuting.  It’s already back at the library, and I wish I’d spent more time over it instead of blazing through to see if Deja would get her snacks and Josiah would talk to the Fudge Shoppe girl.  I was back at Toil and Trouble the same evening, and finished it up.  Also wrapped up The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe during our family read-aloud time last week (and we’ve moved on to Prince Caspian after the boys outvoted Peanut; I abstained).  Since library deadlines aren’t too pressing at the moment, I was able to turn to my own shelves and grab a relatively new acquisition that I’ve been excited about – The Eagle of the Ninth, the first book in Rosemary Sutcliff’s classic Roman Britain series.  About halfway through after the weekend, and loving it.

Watching.  The best thing I watched this week was the Sabres dominating the New Jersey Devils on home ice on Saturday night.  I knit, Steve and I high-fived every goal, and it felt like 2006.  (I even lamented the fact that my nickname for Brian Campbell’s spin-o-rama move – “The Can Opener” – never caught on.  I used to complain about this on a nightly basis.)  Other than hockey – a little of this and a little of that.  Mostly, I watched what the kids were watching, which – this week – was The Empire Strikes Back and several episodes of Carmen Sandiego.

Listening.  Nerd alert: I started listening to The Great Courses lectures on the history of Medieval England from the Romans through the War of the Roses.  Other than that – a little of this and a little of that.  Some Indigo Girls, some Decemberists, some podcasts.

Making.  It’s been awhile since I took my knitting needles out, but I finally finished up a hat that had been lingering for about two years and started a new seed stitch scarf.  Both kids requested hand knits for Christmas this year, so I might be busy.

Blogging.  I flaked on you last Friday, didn’t I?  Sorry about that.  Blame October – this month is already crazy and getting busier all the time.  It’s going to get worse before it gets better, as I said above, but I can promise I won’t flake on you this week.  On Wednesday I’ll have my fall list – always a fun post to write, because this is my favorite season, just edging out summer – and on Friday some musings on birthdays.  Seattle next week (hopefully, provided I don’t get so overwhelmed I stop functioning as a human, which is possible).

Loving.  It’s the mooooooooost wonderful tiiiiiiiiiiiiime of the yeeeeeeeeeeeear!  ASIAN PEAR SEASON!  Nobody understands me, but Asian pears are my very favorite fruit, and I wait all year long for them to hit the markets for just a few short weeks.  I know you all think I’m wrong, but actually you are the ones who are wrong, because Asian pears are the pinnacle of produce deliciousness.  Fight me.

Asking.  What are you reading this week?

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Hello, new week.  I need another day – anyone else?  I feel like that’s a recurring theme.  I was a ball of stress all last week, for reasons that are not important enough to get into here – just your run of the mill “overwhelmed at work” stuff.  Since I worked all last weekend (traveling for my firm’s all-attorney retreat) I didn’t get to do any of the things that I usually do to set myself up for a good week ahead – things like cleaning the fridge, prepping food for the week, dividing up the kids’ lunch snacks, packing my gym bag… Anyway, that’s all to say that when the weekend did come, I was totally drained.

On Saturday we were out the door early for our new activity – swim lessons.  I’ve been wanting to sign the kids up for swim classes for years now, and it’s really gotten to the point that they need to be able to swim, for safety’s sake.  They get lessons at summer camp, but we don’t keep it up during the school year – until now.  I signed them up for an eight week class at one of the local rec centers.  They were both nervous to start; Peanut shook the jitters off quickly and ended up having a great time, but Nugget just sat by the side of the pool and cried the entire time.  (And if you’re wondering: don’t the instructors have strategies to deal with a scared kid? – I was wondering the same thing.)  Hoping for a better lesson next week.  He actually loves the water and can dunk, kick, swim underwater – just for whatever reason, he was terrified this time.  On Saturday afternoon, Steve had to work, so I took the kids out to a nature center birthday party for one of Peanut’s friends.  Sunday was Peanut’s day.  We put her birthday party off until September, so that school friends could join us, since whenever we try to celebrate around her actual birthday – in August – someone is invariably on vacation.  Peanut requested Pump It Up, so that’s what we did.  There was bouncing, sliding, ball pit shenanigans, and dancing to “Old Town Road.”  (It’s in your head now!)  She had so much fun, and got so sugar-high, that she acted like a wild animal at home and got sent to bed early.  Ah, good times.

Reading.  Slow, but good, reading week.  I finished both Washington Black and Slightly Foxed No. 7 on Monday, then spent the rest of the workweek over Home Fires: The Story of the Women’s Institute in World War II.  (Published in the U.K. as Jambusters, if you have trouble finding one or the other at your library – or on Goodreads.)  It was slow going, but very interesting.  I finished Home Fires up on Sunday morning (and am now looking forward to watching the adaptation on Masterpiece) and switched gears completely – to Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women and Witchcraft.  I love the girl-forward short story anthologies that Jessica Spotswood and Tess Sharpe edit (this is the third one I’ve read) and I am ALWAYS here for witchcraft, so this was a clear winner for me from page one.  I’m trying to resist the temptation to tear through it in a day.

Listening.  Podcasts, per usual.  At the moment, I am on a parenting podcast jag and have been listening to back-to-back episodes of The Mom Hour.  Thinking a lot about Meagan and Sarah’s advice in the “Finding Time and Making Time” episode – especially Meagan’s sage comment that “If you’re not happy with your job, or with how your home looks, or with your health, you don’t have filler time.”  That is tough love, and to be honest I’m not sure I’m totally ready for it.  Because I have places where I’d like to make progress on the career, home and health fronts – all three – but I also need that time to decompress with a book; it’s essential self-care for me.  But after that episode I am considering more carefully how I am using my time.  There was a lot to think about in there.

Watching.  So much watching, guys!  Lots of Harry Potter, as the kids have fallen way down a rabbit hole and I am loving it.  I may have fallen, too.  Rumors that I was browsing “adult Luna Lovegood costumes” for Halloween are not exaggerated.  But most exciting of all, Steve and I had a date night on Thursday and went to see Downton Abbey.  LOVED.  IT.  Loved every moment!  I didn’t know much about the story line, other than the basic “King and Queen are coming to Downton!” overarching plot.  But I had read something – no spoilers – to the effect of that this movie wrapped up each character’s story arc with just the ending you would want for them – and I think that was true, although each of the characters was left with more journey to complete and their stories will live on.  It’s rare that a movie actually makes me cry with joy, but Downton Abbey did.

Moving.  Not as much as I would like, unfortunately.  I got in one run, an 86 degree scorcher on Wednesday.  Was hoping to squeeze in another quick run on Friday after court, but ended up having too much to do, and found myself glued to my laptop all afternoon.  Blah.  Hoping to get in some good sessions on the elliptical and with the weights at the gym this week.  I really need to loosen up and de-stress.

Blogging.  September reading round-up on Wednesday (so many good books last month!) and Seattle snaps on Friday.  I’m not sure if I’ll be sharing our entire weekend in Seattle in one big omnibus blog post or breaking it into two posts, so we’ll all be surprised together!

Loving.  My neighborhood!  I know I say this all the time, but – I have found such a loving, uplifting, positive little community here.  A couple of weeks ago, we had a scare with our house – smoke in the basement.  Because it originated near the natural gas line, the fire department took it very seriously and dispatched five fire trucks and an ambulance to our house.  (We were all outside and fine.)  At the end of the day, the house was fine – but when I posted a snap on Instagram of my four-year-old looking incredibly satisfied to see a fire truck AT! HIS! HOUSE!, my community jumped into action.  I got multiple messages from local friends asking if we needed anything, asking how they could help.  We didn’t need anything at all, but if it had been worse?  I know the community would have rallied around us, because that is what they’re like.  On the other end of the spectrum – last week, my friend Adrienne posted an “ask” on our neighborhood Facebook group, for 12- and 18-month boy clothes, which I have in spades.  I told her to come on over, and she stopped by on Friday afternoon and left with a bulging bag.  I was working from home and having an especially stressful day, and it was balm to the spirit to sit on the floor in Nugget’s room for half an hour, going through baby clothes and chatting with a friend.  For so long in Buffalo, I missed that sense of belonging to a place and to people, and now that I have it, it feels better than I could have imagined.  What started as a decluttering project – leading me to join a Buy Nothing group in my neighborhood – has turned into walking and coffee dates, a book club, friends to commute with on the Metro, and a bustling little gifting economy where people jump to fulfill one another’s needs.

Asking.  What are you reading this week?

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