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Happy new week, my friends!  I hope everyone had a relaxing and restful weekend.  I didn’t, since I never do, but I hope you did!  We are deep into the festive season around here, but Steve is also still not feeling well, so we have cut down on our holiday activities, since there’s only so much I want to wrangle both kids for.  Peanut is (finally) growing out of the loooooong running-away phase, but she still tears around like a maniac and then falls down and gets hurt, and Nugget is a constant flight risk.  Playing a man-to-man defense is pretty much the only way to do anything in public with them and have it be enjoyable, and when the defense is down a man – well.  On Saturday, we had plans to attend the Scottish Walk (which is the big holiday parade in our town) with some friends, but Steve didn’t feel well enough to go.  I didn’t want to disappoint our friends, or Peanut – who knew that she had plans with her BFF, S – so I decided to take the kids myself.  S’s family parked at our house and we walked to the parade together (I love living in a walkable neighborhood!) and we had a great time.  The parade, obviously, has a Scottish theme, so there were lots of kilts and bagpipes.  There were also vintage cars, Miss Virginia, the local high school ROTC, and even our Congressman walking with his wife and wearing a red sash that said “CONGRESSMAN.”  (I’d have recognized him without the sash.  I spend a lot of time thanking his office for his sane and sensible votes, especially on climate issues.  My Congressman is THE ACTUAL BEST.)  Anyway, the best part of the parade was Clan Ramsey, which dressed up as characters from Star Wars.  There were stormtroopers and Imperial officers in kilts (!!!), R2-D2 in a kilt (!!!!!!!!) and even Darth Vader in a Santa hat.  (Nugget, predictably, shouted “HEY, IT’S MY BUDDY!” at Lord Vader.)  After the parade, our friends came back to our house for cocoa, and then headed off for their afternoon plans – and that was pretty much the end of the excitement for our weekend.  I spent both Saturday’s and Sunday’s naptimes working, and Sunday morning at the grocery store.  We ended the weekend as we almost always do – making our library/playground/firehouse circuit – but just me and the kids.  Actually, that was kind of exciting.  I picked up the new Andy Weir book, Artemis, from the library, and the firefighters have a brand new truck.

Reading.  Another busy week!  Last week, I finished Crazy Rich Asians, the second in Kevin Kwan’s hilarious Crazy Rich Asians trilogy.  Looking to balance library deadlines, I didn’t jump right to Rich People Problems (the third) but picked up What Happened instead, and finished it on Sunday evening.  This is going to sound weird, but What Happened was delightful.  Yes, it was super sad – of course – and maddening, because Secretary Clinton would have been such a fantastic President.  I’d have loved to see that massive infrastructure and jobs initiative she was planning come to fruition – but instead we are stuck with a destructive misogynistic megalomaniac that 3 million fewer people voted for.  But the book was still delightful, because Hillary’s writing voice is so frank and friendly (I remember that from Living History too) and now that she can say anything she wants, she’s also kind of salty, which I love.  Her writing about her family – especially Chelsea and the grandkids – brought tears to my eyes.  Anyway, I knew I was going to need to take a breath after What Happened, so I started two books on Sunday – Christmas at Thrush Green, for the #MissReadalong that just started up on Instagram – on my kindle app, and Rich People Problems from my library stack.  I am only about 30 pages in and already there has been a familial kidnapping from an elite private school, and a Singapore Airlines jet with 440 passengers has been rerouted by the Secret Service so that a passenger can be whisked off the plane to attend to a VVIP patient.  And Nick and Rachel have ordered dinner.

Watching.  Last night, I said (breathlessly, in between spasms of laughing) to Steve that I think Parks & Recreation might be even more fun on re-runs.  I think that’s true.  Knowing as much as I now know about the characters and what lies in store for them, I was laughing even harder at Ron and Leslie’s battles with the library (“The library is the worst group of people ever assembled in history. They’re mean, conniving, rude, and extremely well-read, which makes them dangerous.”) and at the team’s “camel” entry to the City Hall mural contest.  We have an ongoing joke that Peanut is going to turn into April Ludgate – the film footage of knee surgeries attached to April’s mural entry is totally something Peanut would do.

Listening.  After finishing the first season of Harry Potter and the Sacred Text I decided to take a little break and try to catch up with the rest of the podworld.  My podcatcher is still looking out of control, but I’ve made some headway and listened to all of the holiday gift guides on there – the Read-Aloud Revival gift guide for young readers was particularly good, and I also got some good ideas from The Mom Hour‘s episode on gifting for babies and toddlers.  I’m looking forward to The Home Hour on favorite Christmas traditions next.

Moving.  Well, last week wasn’t a very good week for movement.  I had a super busy week at work, and exercise classes kind of fell off the agenda.  I’ve got another busy week coming up this week, but I need to figure out a way to cement workouts in the routine.  Often, between the day-to-day of a busy job and parenting (especially when Steve is not feeling up for much kid-wrangling) workouts are the first thing to go, but that’s not really fair to me.

Blogging.  Lists galore this week!  I will have the wrap-up post for my fall list on Wednesday, and my winter list coming on Friday – check in with me then, and do let me know what’s on your winter lists, so I can borrow your ideas.  Haha!

Loving.  I sat down with my calendar the other day and tried to map out all of the holiday activities I want to do and there are SO MANY.  We live in one of the top holiday towns in the country (no joke, US News ranks holiday towns, and last year we were in the top ten) with multiple parades, beautiful classic decorations, and activities almost every weekend.  It’s not actually possible to do everything I’m planning, but it’s so much fun to try – and in January, I know I’ll be glad I made the effort.  I just love the holiday spirit around here, and I love experiencing all the delights of the season – not just Christmas morning – through Peanut’s and Nugget’s little eyes.

Asking.  What are you reading this week?

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Happy Monday… evening… to you, my friends!  Sorry this post is coming so late in the day.  I usually try to have it up in the morning, but things have been moving at a whirlwind pace over here.  So – let’s catch up!  For my American friends – did you have a lovely Thanksgiving?  I hope so!  We sure did.  My parents arrived on Tuesday and just left this morning, and I was hardly at my computer (other than for work, of course) between then and now.  I put in a full day at the office on Wednesday, but came home ready to have a wonderful weekend full of family time.  As you already know, we had a fabulous Thanksgiving.  On Friday, we hung around, enjoyed family time and decorated the house for Christmas.  The kids loved decorating the Christmas tree – maybe a little too much.  Nugget is completely obsessed with his vintage fire truck ornament, and I’m sort of afraid he’s going to snap it (it’s the 2016 White House ornament, so not exactly replaceable – much like the 2016 occupant of the White House… please come back, President Obama!).  I also found some of my prized (breakable) ornaments hung near the bottom of the tree, and fortunately was able to rescue and move them before anything too destructive happened.

On Saturday, we all loaded up and drove out to Little Washington – for non-locals, that’s Washington, Virginia, a tiny town nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains near the entrance to Shenandoah National Park, which also happens to house one of the most acclaimed restaurants in the world, the Inn at Little Washington.  Steve’s mom had very generously given us a gift certificate to the Inn last Christmas, and we finally got the opportunity to use it.  The meal was just as splendid as we expected, and will definitely rank among the top dining experiences of our lives.  After dinner, we even got the special treat of being escorted back to the kitchen, and having the privilege of meeting Chef Patrick O’Connell, the famous chef-owner of the Inn.  Chef was a gracious and kind host, and the kitchen – every inch of which was hand-sourced by Chef himself, on his travels around the world – was amazing to see.  We worked off the incredible meal on Sunday, hiking with my parents and the kids to one of the highest overlook points in Shenandoah National Park – more on that to come on Wednesday.  It was a wonderful weekend!  And now I’m back to reality.  I can already tell this week is going to be off-the-charts in terms of the stress level.  Well – at least I have the memories of an amazing meal and a gorgeous hike.

  

Reading.  It’s been a bit of a slow reading week around my parts.  That’s to be expected with all of the socializing and family time I’ve been enjoying for the past few days.  But I did manage to finish The Stone Sky – which was good, but I was confused throughout most of the book.  It would’ve helped to read the trilogy in closer succession, I think; reading the books as they were released, I’d pretty much forgotten everything that happened in the first two books and spent way too much time puzzling over questions like wait, who is Ykka again? and what the heck did Nassun do to Jija?  Anyway.  Next I picked up The Shell Seekers and I am loving it, but also wanting to take my time and savor it – which is fine, because I discovered that I have to leapfrog China Rich Girlfriend due to library deadlines.  So I’ll be starting that as soon as I press “publish” on this post.

Watching.  The usual.  Lots and lots of Curious George – especially A Very Monkey Christmas – and Star Wars.  George and Vader are the big celebrities in my house.  I tried to get the kids to watch my favorite Christmas movie of all time – A Muppet Family Christmas – but it was a non-starter.  Booooooo.

Listening.  Not as much earbud time as I usually get in over the course of a week, because I had two fewer days of commuting (<–no complaints).  But I’m almost done with the first “book” of Harry Potter and the Sacred Text – just eight minutes to go in the final regular chapter episode, plus the wrap-up episode!  I am still loving, loving, LOVING this podcast.

Moving.  Not a bad week of movement.  It was lacking on the yoga front, but I was really craving some cardio, and I squeezed that in with a five-mile turkey trot on Thanksgiving Day, and a 1.6 mile hike up and down Stony Man Mountain on Sunday.  Moving my legs felt good.  Must keep it up.

Blogging.  I have a great week of content for you!  On Wednesday I’ll be sharing pictures from Stony Man Mountain, which will count for our November hike, and on Friday, I’ve got my November reading round-up post coming to you.  Check in with me then!

Loving.  Waking up to this morning’s news that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are engaged was such a delight!  They look so happy and in love, and I was smiling all day thinking about the royal wedding (Peanut is excited!) and – whenever I got a break – reading news coverage.  The proposal?  LOVE.  Prince Harry dropped to one knee as Meghan was “attempting to” roast a chicken.  Can we get a collective awwwww?  And Harry saying that Meghan and Princess Diana would have been “best friends” and “thick as thieves” brought a tear to my eye.  I love the British royal family and I DON’T CARE WHO KNOWS IT.

Asking.  What are you reading?

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Hello.  I would like to share with you the most amazing book!

I have been itching to see The Book of Mormon ever since it opened to such acclaim on Broadway, but I was never able to make it happen.  The touring cast appeared in Buffalo three times while I lived there, and I could never get a babysitter!  We finally saw the show on Friday night at the Kennedy Center, and it was everything I expected, and more.  Wildly inappropriate, of course, but also absolutely hilarious.  As you know if you’ve been reading these Monday posts for a hot second, I’ve been listening to the soundtrack on repeat since we got back from our trip to see Hamilton on Broadway, but – once again – seeing the show in person was ten times better than listening to the soundtrack.  Elder McKinley – sequined-vest-wearing, tap-dancing Elder McKinley – was my favorite part of the show.  Well – second favorite.  Seeing Steve laughing helplessly was my favorite part.  (He had not listened to the soundtrack, and said afterwards that while he loved the show, he thinks he would have enjoyed it even more if he had known the music in advance – more than just the standards “Hello” and “I Believe.”  We’ll make a theatre geek of him yet, kids!)  The rest of the weekend was pretty low key.  It was Steve’s birthday weekend – the big 4-0, you guys! – and what he wanted was a laid-back weekend at home, so that’s what he got.  On Saturday we walked out to the library and the playground, but that was the extent of the activity.  And Sunday was even more low-key – Nugget and I made a grocery run, but other than that, we just hung around the house.  I read like a maniac, Steve watched football, and the kids played and watched cartoons to their hearts’ content.  I gifted Steve with a camping growler and a cozy down blanket from REI – hoping we get some use out of both of his presents this summer!  (He also is getting a very extravagant experience gift as a combination birthday/Christmas present – racing three supercars around Dominion Racetrack – but that’s not until July.)  All in all, I think he had a great weekend – the perfect balance of fun and relaxation, and even a date night to a musical with all the swears.

  

Reading.  I had a great reading week.  I began the week with We Were Eight Years in Power, the new collection of essays by Ta-Nehisi Coates.  The essays had all been published in The Atlantic, so I’d actually read a few of them, but it was a privilege to revisit them.  Coates is an extraordinary writer, and he never fails to make me think and question.  Once I finished the Coates, I turned my attention – finally! – to The Blue Castle, which I am reading for the #ReadingValancy readalong.  It was an absolute joy, and I read like a fiend all weekend, then was terribly sad when it ended – the mark of a great book.  I ended the weekend on the couch with The Stone Sky, the final volume in N.K. Jemisin’s The Broken Earth trilogy.  The first two books were so well-done; I’ve been eagerly anticipating the third – but dreading it a little, too, because Essun’s journey through motherhood is absolutely searing.  Anyway, I’m just a very little way in, so too soon to say how it’s going.

Watching.  Another great week, because I watched live musical theatre again!  Before this year, it had been so long since Steve and I went to see a show, that seeing both Hamilton and The Book of Mormon in the same year feels decadent in the extreme.  We had a fun date night on Friday and spent the evening at the Kennedy Center with Elder Price, Elder Cunningham, Elder McKinley, Nabalungi and the gang.  It was everything I could have hoped for.  Pink sequined vests!  If you can see it – do.  We just loved every minute.

Listening.  So, a few weeks ago, my friend Susan and I attended an “Austen in Autumn” happy hour, put on by our local JASNA chapter.  (That’s “Jane Austen Society of North America,” for the uninitiated, and yes, it’s a terrible name.)  At the happy hour, we discussed everything from our “favorite Austen rogue” – I named John Thorpe as my favorite, because we’ve all dated John Thorpe, amirite ladies? – to medieval IT support.  Susan and I left high-fiving each other for being social and making new friends, and I also had with me a podcast recommendation – for “Harry Potter and the Sacred Text.”  The premise, in a nutshell, is this – hosts Casper ter Kaile and Vanessa Zoltan, both Harvard Divinity School graduates, discuss and analyze a chapter of the Harry Potter books in each episode as they would analyze the Bible, Torah or Q’uran.  First they talk about the chapter of the week through the lens of a broad theme such as “friendship” or “commitment” or “white privilege.”  Then they move on to a spiritual practice such as lectio divina (sacred reading) or spiritual imagination.  And finally, they each choose one character who appeared in the chapter, and they give that character a personal blessing.  You guys.  I am binging it.  I cannot stop listening.  I am kicking myself that I didn’t know about this podcast back in September, when they did a live episode in D.C.  Because I seriously – seriously! – can’t get enough.  They are a few chapters into the fourth book now, and I predict that both my podcatcher and my Audible account are going to be seriously neglected until I catch up.

Moving.  So – as full of activity as this week has been in other areas (see above) there wasn’t much moving.  I skipped yoga and barre on Tuesday and Wednesday, because Steve was still under the weather from last weekend (actually, he kind of still is even now) and I didn’t want to leave him alone to start the kids’ mornings.  I did make it to power yoga on Friday, because it was my last class with my favorite instructor before she heads off to Africa and the Peace Corps.  But other than that – it was a slow week.  I am feeling the effects, too – I need more movement next week.

Blogging.  Coming up this week, I have a loooooooooong post with my musings on The Blue Castle on Wednesday, and on Friday I plan to tell you about our Thanksgiving celebrations.  Check in with me then!

Loving.  There is so much I could talk about this week.  Renewing my old love for musical theatre!  The upcoming Thanksgiving holiday!  But more than anything else, I am loving Steve on his birthday weekend.  We have been together for a really long time – we started dating when I was 19 and he was 23 – and it’s hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that he’s 40.  I feel so honored to be the person by his side as he journeys through life.  He’s everything I dreamed of in a husband – kind, caring, loving, a wonderful hands-on father, and a true adventure buddy.  Happy birthday, Prince Charming!  Here’s to many, many, MANY more.

Asking.  What are you reading this week?

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Hi, friends.  No fun weekend report for you today.  Steve was under the weather all weekend, so it was just me and the kids from sun up to sun down, and we were in survival mode in a big way.  On Friday afternoon, I took them to the library, both to get them out of Dad’s hair and also so I could return a book that was due back and get more that were on hold – and that was the best thing that we did all weekend.  They played in the children’s section for awhile, and we read a bunch of books and then picked a few for them to check out.  And then it was all downhill from there.  I spent the rest of the weekend arbitrating disputes over toys, pulling them off each other, putting them in time-out, and running errands.  Seriously, running errands seemed like a really relaxing thing to do because any time they spent strapped into their car seats was time that Nugget wasn’t pulling out fistfuls of Peanut’s hair, and Peanut wasn’t trying to gouge out Nugget’s eyes.  You think I’m kidding, but I’m not.  The best thing we did all weekend was drop off a donation to the D.C. Diaper Bank, which made me disproportionately excited because it had been sitting in my dining room for way too long.  They were pretty decent on Sunday (see above: car seats), so I took them to the playground and it was a total disaster – tackling, hair-pulling, face-grabbing, the works.  So, yeah.  That was my weekend.

  
  

Reading.  One good thing I can tell you is – I did a lot of reading this weekend.  This week, too, but mostly this weekend.  Since the kids had to be separated a lot of the time (or it would mean the start of another round of the Hunger Games) Peanut spent a good amount of time playing in her room while Nugget played in his room and I sat in his chair and read as best I could while Nugget drove his trucks over my face.  It was for my sanity, really, but I justified  it by reminding myself that it is important for me to model reading for enjoyment so that the kids can see that.  (I do think that’s true.)  Anyway, over the week I burned through Little Fires Everywhere (which was incredible), Coronation Summer (really, really funny!) and The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou (powerful and breathtaking).  Late in the week I started The Flight of the Maidens, which wasn’t long but sort of felt like a slog to me.  (It is beautifully written, so I suspect that the reason it felt like a slog was that I had a pending library deadline, so read it over other things I wanted to read more, and that always makes a book feel like work a little more than it otherwise would.)  I put it aside to read the very slim and absolutely stunning The Origin of Others, which I finished in just a couple of hours on Saturday morning (I just couldn’t wait), then went back to The Flight of the Maidens.  Finally finished that on Sunday evening, and I’m now about a quarter of the way through We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy, the new collection of essays about the Obama presidency by Ta-Nehisi Coates.  I’ve actually read a few of the essays already, because I read The Atlantic, where they were published, but I am re-reading them in the book and Coates’ writing is, as always, uncomfortable, thought-provoking and necessary.  (It was a very Coates weekend for me.  He also contributed the introduction to The Origin of Others.)  Anyway, I’ll continue with the new Coates over the next couple of days, and then I plan to pick up The Blue Castle for Naomi and Sarah’s readalong – I’ll have thoughts about it coming soon!  (Sorry no links to their blogs – something is going on with my WordPress and my link function is not working.)

Watching.  We had a family movie date on Saturday afternoon – starring Darth Vader, of course.  Nugget is starting to realize that Darth Vader is a “bad guy,” and I think he’s having some questions as a result.  He still asks to skip to the “Darth Vader parts,” but he also seems to be contemplating switching his allegiance to his new buddy, Yoda.  We’ll see!  Other than Star Wars, we have been watching a lot of Doc McStuffins lately, which I tolerate because Peanut says she wants to be a doctor and I think Doc McStuffins is the reason.  (Doc herself seems like a cool kid, but her toys set my teeth on edge – especially Lambie and Stuffie, both of whom make me want to bang my head against the wall.)  The kids have been alternating Doc with Curious George: A Very Monkey Christmas, because I’ve decided that it’s not too early for Christmas shows.  Especially George, who I can actually stand to watch on repeat.

Listening.  All podcasts, all the time this week.  Of particular note were the one-year birthday episode of Tea and Tattle, which had me searching for Chalet School books on Abebooks, and the latest episode of Sorta Awesome, all about boundary-setting for the holidays (always a good topic to revisit around this time of year, and something I’ve struggled with in the past – although I’m getting better at it).  I have to complain about my podcatcher, though.  I listen to podcasts on iTunes, and it got swept up in the latest iPhone iOS update, and – I HATE the changes.  It is so much less user-friendly now and I’m having a really hard time figuring out a new system for listening.  I might have to switch to a new podcast app – any suggestions?

Moving.  Pretty slow week and very slow weekend, although keeping Peanut and Nugget from killing each other is quite a workout.  I made it to power yoga on Tuesday and Friday, and that’s it – no Barre3 and no Saturday vinyasa.  With Steve being under the weather, it was just all I could do.  Hoping for a more active week next week.  Definitely need to get some more runs in as the Turkey Trot approaches.

Blogging.  I have a recap of the Marine Corps Marathon 10K coming up for you on Wednesday (belated, but there it is) and a day-in-the-life post, inspired/facilitated by #OneDayHH, on Friday.  Check in with me then!

Loving.  I know I have complained a lot about them in this post, but I have to tell you about one cute thing – Nugget has started calling Peanut “sweetie.”  It’s the cutest, funniest, darlingest thing.  I’m sure he’s heard us call her that, but it’s sooooooo much more adorable coming from him.  In the mornings, he’s usually the first one up, and she will come looking for people once she wakes up – and when she joins us, either in the kitchen or in Nugget’s room, he greets her in his squeaky little toddler voice: “Hiiiiiiiiii, sweetie!”  IT IS SO ADORABLE.  I die, you guys, I actually die.

Asking.  What are you reading this week?

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A Project 24 Update

As my friends may recall, I’ve committed to Simon’s Project 24 for the year – meaning that I’m restricting myself to only buying twenty-four books All. Year.  Long.  This may seem easy, but I assure you it is not.  Anyway, it’s been awhile, so I owe y’all a quick update.  I’m pretty sure I’m still on track with Project 24, although I have gotten slightly disorganized about it and there’s a chance I might have forgotten a book purchase or four.  Here’s what I’ve purchased through today:

January

  • The Red House Mystery, by A.A. Milne (Folio Society)
  • The Little White Horse, by Elizabeth Goudge (Folio Society)
  • Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery (Folio Society)
  • Anne of Avonlea, by L.M. Montgomery (Folio Society)

February

No books!

March

  • Envelope Poems, by Emily Dickinson (The Gorgeous Nothings)
  • Mary Barton, by Elizabeth Gaskell (Folio Society) – out of print; purchased from Abebooks

April

  • Wives and Daughters, by Elizabeth Gaskell (Folio Society) – out of print; purchased from Abebooks
  • North and South, by Elizabeth Gaskell (Folio Society) – out of print; purchased from Abebooks

May

  • Anderby Wold, by Winifred Holtby (Virago)
  • The Land of Green Ginger, by Winifred Holtby (Virago)

June

  • Three Men in a Boat, by Jerome K. Jerome (Folio Society)

July

  • Before Lunch, by Angela Thirkell (Virago)
  • A Memoir of Jane Austen, by Edward Austen-Leigh (Folio Society)
  • The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien (Folio Society)

August

  • Father Brown Stories, Vols. I and II, by G.K. Chesterton (Folio Society) – out of print; purchased from Abebooks

September

  • After Many Years: Twenty-One Long Lost Stories, by L.M. Montgomery (Nimbus)
  • Sylvia’s Lovers, by Elizabeth Gaskell (Folio Society) – out of print, purchased from Abebooks
  • Ruth, by Elizabeth Gaskell (Folio Society) – out of print, purchased from Abebooks
  • 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Washington, D.C., by Renee Sklarew and Rachel Cooper (Menasha Ridge Press)

October

  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: Illustrated Edition, by J.K. Rowling (Arthur A. Levine)

November

  • The Blue Castle, by L.M. Montgomery (Sourcebooks)

By that count, I’m at twenty-two books for the year.  (The Chesterton stories are in two volumes, so even though they’re together in one slipcase, I’m counting them as two books.  And I’m counting the hiking guide, even though I really purchased it for the family.  I’m trying hard to be upstanding here!)  That leaves me with two books left for the year – I’ll probably purchase one more this month and one in December, since I don’t usually spend money on myself in December anyway and often find books under the Christmas tree.  It’s been an interesting exercise, and I’ll reflect more on it after the conclusion of the project, in a few months.  In the meantime, I’m off to peruse my wish lists and try to decide what to order next…

Have you ever done Project 24?  Did you survive?

 

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Fall-back weekend before children: hmmmmm.  How should I spend this extra time?  I think I’ll sleep in and then go have a leisurely brunch.

Fall-back weekend with children: Please sleep past 4:00 a.m.  Please sleep past 4:00 a.m.  Please sleep past – dammit.

Happy Monday, friends.  How were your weekends?  We had a lazy weekend around the neighborhood, which was exactly what I wanted.  With all the excitement of Halloween happening last weekend and into the week, and with the busiest season of the year directly ahead of us, I really, really needed a weekend or two in a row with no plans and no commitments – and that’s exactly what we got this weekend.  On Saturday, we walked out to the library and farmers’ market, then stopped by the playground – the leaves are finally out! – and the fire station on the way home.  So – our usual circuit.  The furthest afield I ventured was a fifteen minute walk to yoga while the kids napped in the afternoon.  Added in a family movie night with pizza and Star Wars (Nugget’s first viewing! he shouted “THERE’S MY BUDDY!” every time Darth Vader was onscreen), and it was a pretty perfect day.  Sunday was even lazier – I don’t think I got out of my pajamas all day.  We did lots of playing, made paper plate turkeys with feathers listing what we are grateful for, some reading, and a bit of laundry and work so we felt like we’d been at least a little bit productive.  I felt a little under the weather on Saturday and worse on Sunday – I have a vicious cold in my throat and head, and I basically sound like Sexy Phoebe singing “Smelly Cat” all the time.  So a lazy Sunday at home was just what the doctor ordered.

  

Reading.  It was a good, productive reading week.  I finished Poems Bewitched and Haunted on Halloween – perfect timing!  It was loads of fun, a perfect Fright Night read, and made me want to read more poetry soon.  Then I turned back to Dark Money, which I had been plodding through slowly.  It’s one of those incredibly interesting and informative nonfiction reads that I think are very important – but it was also sort of dense and I don’t seem to have the wherewithal to keep track of all these shadowy foundations that are one step away from money laundering… in thinking about it, though, perhaps that’s exactly the point.  Yeah, food for thought.  Anyway, Dark Money was due back to the library on Saturday, and I was still fifty pages from the end, so I flew through the final couple of chapters while the kids played, and then dropped it in the overnight return box.  On Saturday evening, I turned to Little Fires Everywhere, the new Celeste Ng.  I’m about a third of the way through it and really enjoying it, so more next week, I’m sure.

Watching.  It seems we are straight-up re-watching Parks and Recreation, which is fine with me.  Duke Silver just made his first appearance!  On Friday evening, we ate takeout Indian food while watching Ann break Leslie of her fear of first dates through “bad date immersion therapy.”  Parks and Rec is definitely helping us hold it together as we wait for the next season of The Crown to drop on Netflix – not too long now!

Listening.  I’m back to podcasts as I take a little break from audiobooks.  At the moment, the “Read Aloud Revival” episode on the Scholastic Kids and Family Reading Report is in my earbuds, and it’s very interesting and informative.  (Further down, I’ll share the best thing I listened to all week – it’s my “loving” for this week, so read on.)  In addition to podcasts, I’m still playing the Book of Mormon soundtrack on repeat.  Less than two weeks to go until we will be saying “Hello!” to Elder Price and Elder Cunningham at the Kennedy Center!

Moving.  Sort of a slow week.  Sleeping has been really bad lately – it seems like the whole house is conspiring to keep me awake some nights, and this lousy cold hasn’t helped matters.  That’s making it hard to get up and out of the house for early morning workouts.  I made it to power yoga on Tuesday, but missed Friday, because Nugget was clinging to my neck from 4:30 onwards.  That made me sad, because the Friday classes are taught by my favorite instructor, who is moving to Africa in two weeks, and I’m trying to soak up as many of her fabulous vinyasa classes as I can before she leaves.  She also teaches on Saturday afternoon, though, so I made a point of going to that class, at least, and – I got into crow pose for the first time in years!  This is a big deal!  Jaimie – the instructor – came over to my mat and gave me Muppet arms.  Wahooooo!

Blogging.  I have a Project 24 update coming to you on Wednesday (spoiler – I’m on track, I think?) and on Friday, a fun photography post about a surprising thing I learned while doing the black and white challenge on Facebook last week.  Check in with me then!

Loving.  Best thing this week was a podcast episode!  As I’ve been working my way through my ever-neglected podcatcher, I listened to a pretty recent episode of The Mom Hour, all about things you can do to get ready for the holidays NOW, instead of waiting until December and making yourself miserable.  There were a ton of great tips – lots of common sense, but sometimes you need that, right ladies?  The Moms suggested writing thank-you notes and putting together your kids’ teachers’ gifts in October (this is revolutionary, and I will definitely be getting that task done early); scheduling out as much of your holiday calendar as you can in advance, down to the last trash pick-up day before Christmas so you will know when you need the garbage guys’ bonus checks ready; and making your Shutterfly projects ahead of time so you’ll be able to take advantage of Cyber Monday sales without spending that whole day making photo books (which I try to do anyway, but the reminder is good).  I was so inspired that I jumped right onto Shutterfly and started making Nana’s Brag Book 2017 – hi, Mom!  (Don’t worry; this is a gift she gets every year, so I’m not ruining a surprise – she knows it’s coming.)  The Mom Hour is my favorite parenting podcast, and I think this was one of their best episodes yet.  No one else can get me more inspired to be on top of my parenting game while simultaneously reassuring me that everyone feels like a flake at the end of the school semester.

Asking.  What are you reading this week?

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Happy Mischief Night, my little ghouls and goblins!  How were your Hallo-weekends?  Ours was – as usual – packed full of activity.  On Friday afternoon/evening, Steve and I took the kids trick-or-treating at Mount Vernon.  If you follow me on Instagram, or we’re friends on Facebook, you already know their Halloween costumes – but for the blog, I’m going to keep them under my hat for a few more days.  (Sorry… I promise they’re amazing.)  But I will say that their costumes made quite the splash at Mount Vernon.  And that’s all I’ll say.  On Saturday, I squeezed in a Barre3 class in the morning and then was home in time to shove the kids back into their costumes for a children’s pumpkin hunt and Halloween party at the Lee-Fendall House, one of the historic homes that is now a museum; our neighborhood is lousy with historic house-museums.  We met up with Peanut’s BFF from school and her mom, and none of the kids seemed to be that into the festivities this year.  Nugget just wanted to run away; Peanut spent half the party “camouflaged” in the bushes, and her BFF was very upset that she didn’t win the costume contest.  BFF’s mom and I agreed that we like doing a Halloween activity together, but next year we might look for a different option.  Lee-Fendall House throws a great party, but our kids were all attitude.  Anyway, after the party we had a quick lunch and then headed out to Loudoun County to pick pumpkins at Wegmeyer Farms.  We came home with a trunkload ranging in size from small decorative gourds to big jack-o-lanterns-to-be.  We had to get all the outdoor fun in on Saturday, because the weather on Sunday was gross – chilly and rainy.  A good day for football, chili, and baking – which is exactly what we did.  Our dear friends the Dumanskys came over, and the guys watched their beloved Buffalo Bills while the ladies chatted and cooked up a storm in the kitchen.  Zan brought red lentil chili and I provided toppings and pumpkin cornbread, and then together we made Thai-inspired vegetable soup (my lunches for the week!) and delicious pumpkin muffins with Peanut.  The only thing we didn’t get around to doing was carving our pumpkins and roasting the seeds, so that’ll be this evening’s activity.

Reading.  It’s been a good week.  On Monday, I finished up the latest Lady Georgianna mystery, On Her Majesty’s Frightfully Secret Service.  It was a blast, as usual, and I have the same complaint as I always do – it went too fast!  These books keep getting better and better and I would like to spend much more time with Georgie.  Still wanting fun, I read the (unpictured) Collected Plays 2010-2015 by Portland Preschoolers, which I have decided is the greatest book ever written.  I bought it to fulfill a Book Riot Challenge task – read a book that is published by a micropress – and it was the best thing EVER.  (I can’t decide what play was my favorite.  I’m torn between “The Hamster’s Adventure With the Baby Show” and “Paris When it Sizzles,” honorable mention to “The 3 Little Deer, the 3 Little Ponies, and the Big Bad Volcano.”)  Clearly, I was having too much fun, so next I picked up Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, on the recommendation of a co-worker.  It’s very interesting, but I’m reading slowly; I want to pay attention.  I also finished Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe on Friday, and really enjoyed it – helpful that Lin-Manuel Miranda read the audiobook.  Finally, for the Book Riot Challenge – and also Halloween! – I started reading Poems Bewitched and Haunted, which I’m hoping to finish my tomorrow.

Watching.  We’ve been sprinkling episodes of Parks and Recreation – my favorite show – into our evenings here and there, and it’s been so much fun.  I forgot what a delight the first season is.  (Mouserat playing “The Pit” for the first time!  Police Officer Dave describing Leslie as belligerent!  April entering the Miss Pawnee beauty pageant!  Wendy Haverford!)  No movie night this week, but next week, hopefully – it will be my turn to pick.

Listening.  I did a lot of listening this week, because I was getting tantalizingly close to Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe and I wanted to get through it.  It took pretty much the whole book, but I was invested – and misty – by the end.  Dammit, Lin, stop making me cry.

Moving.  Y’all, I am DEVASTATED.  My favorite yoga instructor joined the Peace Corps!  I finally find a studio I like and she’s leeeeeeeeeaving!  (And clearly, it’s all about ME.  /sarcasm).  Anyway, I have another month until she leaves, so I am going to try to squeeze in as many of her awesome flow classes as I can.  Only one last week, because I found out this terrible news on Friday.  But I also fit in two Barre3 classes on Wednesday and Saturday.  I like the instructor a lot, and the class is very challenging – in a great way – but the music and atmosphere are a bit overwhelming for this introverted HSP.  Challenging myself to go, because it’s good to get outside of my comfort zone, and Barre3 definitely does that on multiple levels.

Blogging.  Fun week coming up!  I have my October reads for you on Wednesday, and on Friday I’ll be recapping Halloween.  As always, we have been doing a lot – and the holiday itself hasn’t even happened yet, so I’m sure I will have even more fun to share with you.  Check in with me then!

Loving.  There are certain fall treats that I look forward to all year, and cider donuts are one of them.  (Others include apple cider, both hot and cold, and roasted pumpkin seeds.)  Over the weekend, while the kids were running wild at the pumpkin patch, Steve bought a dozen cider donuts and – yummmmm.  Totally worth waiting 51 weeks for them.  Do you have a favorite fall food?

Asking.  What are you reading this week?

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