A Day in the Life as a Stay at Home Mom

August 26, 2014 Life, Mommyhood 28

day in the life

I’ve done a few “A Day in the Life” rounds on Instagram over the years but it always felt a bit self-indulgent to record an entire day and then blog it. The more I thought about it, though, I realized that this is the perfect place to record a day in my life as one day I’ll be able to look back and see how our days were (as will my girls). Below is a snapshot of a Day in the Life as a Stay at Home Mom. I plan to do another post with A Day in the Life as a Working Mom since in a week or two I’ll be back in the swing of things…at least part time.

These days I feel like we’re a bit in limbo. Over the summer Elle was home with me 2-3 days a week and the other 2-3 days I dropped both girls off at school and worked for a few hours before picking up Evie for the afternoon at home. You know that I’m a big fan of routine, and below is fairly typical of our days at home. This was last Monday and on Wednesday we went to the mall to play instead of running errands and on Friday we went to my mom’s to swim during lunch. But otherwise the majority of the day is pretty similar. Except the 2 am wakeups that bookended this day…

2:15 – Evie is fussing so I go rock her for a few minutes. She’s really congested and can’t suck her thumb, but she goes back to sleep. I don’t fall back asleep quite as quickly.

7:30 – Elle comes down and crawls into bed with me. Thankfully she slept in a little later than normal as my sleep was broken up. We cuddle for a few minutes and then I give her my phone so she can listen to Let It Go (I’m not even kidding) on YouTube while I take a shower. Afterwards I turn on a show for her while I head upstairs to wake up Evie.

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8:15 – I get Evie up and nurse her. This is a few minutes later than I would like, but I knew if I didn’t shower before she woke up then it might not happen at all.

8:30 - After nursing Evie I start singing and Elle can hear me on the baby monitor in the master bedroom. She comes upstairs and climbs into Evie’s crib. I resort to mild bribery (going on a walk later) to get her to go to the bathroom so we can head downstairs for breakfast.

8:54 – Finally sit down to breakfast (cereal). Had to change Evie’s diaper again. Elle wants my cereal (Vanilla Special K with Almonds) except she doesn’t really. Evie likes cheerios soaked in a bit of milk. I start My Fitness Pal today. Groan.

breakfast with the girls

9:17 – While the girls finish eating, I got the double stroller out of the garage. This was a workout itself. We go for a walk through the neighborhood. It’s 78 degrees. Humid. Gross. Picture of me below courtesy of Elle. This was the only one of a dozen she took where I’m actually in the shot.

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9:45 – I let Elle navigate our walk and she holds my phone as we listen to Toddler Radio on Pandora. Then it’s Home!

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10:05 – Put Evie down. I’m trying not to nurse her before naps anymore since I’m trying to be in the process of weaning, but I figure it’ll just be quicker this way. Elle is downstairs watching a Dora movie. Evie is awake when I put her down but she rolls onto her tummy and knees and acts like she’ll sleep. Go downstairs and make my bed, tidy up the kitchen.

10:25 – Elle throws a fit because she wants my yogurt instead of her own. On the ground crying over it. Evie is still up.

10:30 - I remember I haven’t brushed my teeth yet and by the time I’m done brushing I can tell Evie is fast asleep. I tidy the kitchen, start the dishwasher, and pour myself my first cup of coffee. Elle and I work on puzzles. She loves jigsaw puzzles and I enjoy working on them with her.

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11:15 – Evie up. 45 minutes is short for her naps lately. I’m afraid that she’s growing out of two naps a day (but she still needs a morning refresher), but on the bright side an early wake-up means they are more likely to nap at the same time in the afternoon. Which I neeeeeeed. Elle wants to  help get Evie dressed. Evie is mostly very patient with Elle’s attempts.

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11:40 - Errand time! Bed Bath and Beyond first. By 12 we are at Sam’s Club to pick up berries for Scott’s jam. We don’t buy very much, for the first time in forever, but we we roam the aisles for almost an hour. And of course since it’s lunch-time we are sample-bugs.

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1:10 – Home. I nurse Evie really quickly,  put away the groceries, and then feed the girls–Elle gets a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and Evie gets turkey and cheese. Actually I can’t remember what they had that day. Probably also some fruit. Evie loves her fruit more than Elle does.

1:35 – finally sit down to eat my lunch–I had leftover lamb chops from dinner out the night before.

1:45 – finish lunch and make sure Elle is finishing hers. She’s not. I rally and cheerlead Elle to eat and clean Evie up and let her loose. Evie and I head to the playroom while I pay some bills on the computer. Elle joins us after she’s done with her lunch. Notice how in most of these pictures Evie is a blur? Girl doesn’t stay still!

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2:25 – naptime! I always put Elle down first so that I can nurse Evie without interruption. Evie won’t nurse if Elle is around (which is why I put on the movie for Elle earlier in the day).

2:45 – Walk out of Evie’s room. She’s not asleep. Check monitor and Elle is playing in her room. Sigh. Make coffee and fire up the laptop.

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2:50 – Evie curled up, Elle still playing around.

2:53 – Evie starts fussing.

2:55 – Evie is lying down but awake; Elle is rolling around in her bed.

3:00 – Evie is asleep. Elle isn’t in bed. I decide I don’t care and pour a cup of coffee. I know I must prioritize naptime so I decide to spend 30 minutes reading blogs, then draft up my post for the next day, then read.

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3:15 - Pretty sure Elle fell asleep under her pillow in the middle of her bed (see two pictures up).

3:25 – My mom calls to talk about dropping her dog off for me to watch the next day. We chitchat for a few minutes. I made it to about 12 blogs? Maybe less. Sigh.

3:30 – Start working on my post for the next day. I’d say it usually takes me at least an hour to write a post these days. More if it’s picture heavy like this one.

3:50 – Evie up and crying. 50 minutes after a 45 minute nap this morning is incredibly short (I learned a few days after that she is getting two teeth up top).

3:54 – Swig the remains of my coffee and head upstairs. It’s always a bit frustrating when Evie wakes up before Elle because I can’t control the volume level in the house. Elle can play quietly (mostly) but Evie not so much. We hang out in her bedroom a bit and then I remember the laundry in the dryer (from the day before).

4:30 – Fold laundry.

5:05 – Elle up. I didn’t want her sleeping too late so Evie and I went and encouraged her to wake up.

5:11 – I get the most dreaded “I’ll be home late” text from Scott. The hours between 4 and 6 are the longest part of the day for me. Everyone is restless and I’m eager to get dinner started. It’s hard to get dinner going with the two littles in the kitchen, especially the dish I have planned for today.

5:20 – Make cookies! While Evie destroys the pantry. She destroys the pantry at least once a day. It keeps her happy so I mostly don’t care. I rather this than her taking cups out of the cabinet that I’ll later have to wash.

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5:50 – Scott’s home! He takes girls upstairs to play while I make dinner.

6:25 – Dinner is ready–Spinach Artichoke Tortellini from Rachael Ray. Elle isn’t a fan of dinner (the sausage in the tortellini has a bit of a bite) so I make her something else. I don’t usually do this but I took a gamble with dinner and didn’t feel like fighting with her. While everyone is finishing up I do some tidying in the kitchen. I don’t like getting up before everyone is done with dinner but I also hate having to come downstairs to a dirty kitchen after we’ve put the girls to bed. I keep hoping that one day we’ll get this part figured out.

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7:00 – The girls are still finishing up dinner so I run upstairs and steal some quilting time. For all of you who ask how I find the time…usually 10 minutes of it here and there. Today I’m trying to figure out the pesky scant 1/4″ seam on my machine and then I piece together a little square for the quilt I’m starting.

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7:30 - Scott starts the bath for the girls and I come in and finish up. Below, Evie loves climbing onto this horse in Elle’s room. As you can tell by her blurred face, she’s not having any fun at all.

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8:00 – After getting both girls ready, Scott reads Elle a story in bed while I nurse Evie.

8:15 - I go into Elle’s room and she throws an EPIC FIT because she wants to watch Olaf on YouTube. Usually she wants to listen to Let it Go (yes, freaking again), and I’m not even sure what she means by Olaf but I can’t find the song he sings on YouTube and my patience is running thin. Obviously the picture below was taken before the fit. Scott saves me so I can bake the cookies from earlier.

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8:30 – First batch of cookies is in the oven.

9:00 – The cookies are baked; Elle is still awake and Scott is still with her working through the fit. Sadly it isn’t uncommon for her to be up so late these days. She’s become very difficult to put down to bed. Some days are better than others, but this is a particularly hard one. I go up a few times to help but mostly stay downstairs and tidy up the kitchen and get ready for tomorrow (prep Elle’s lunch and get the naptime gear ready for both girls).

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9:30 – I finally sit down with wine to finish my post for tomorrow.

9:50 – Email myself my notes on today so I can paste it into a draft post. I won’t publish this post until next week but I want to make sure I can remember the details! Edit half the post before signing off.

10:10 – Take off my nail polish and collapse into bed with The Time Machine.

10:25 – After wasting too much time on social media, I give up on reading and turn off the light. Chit chat with Scott for a few minutes.

2:55 – Elle up. Seriously?

Minus the really really terrible nighttime tantrum, it was a pretty good day. Of course it’s always nice when the girls nap for the same amount of time in the afternoon, but it’s a crapshoot. I’ve learned that naptime is for mommy to recharge, too. But even with the hard times, we still had lots of laughs throughout the day. And funnily enough, the rest of the week was a really great week–Elle went to bed easily on Tuesday and Wednesday nights and Evie napped longer once I knew to give her a bit of orajel on her gums.

But so it goes.

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A Diverse Reading Universe – Sunday Salon 93

August 24, 2014 Reading Nook, Sunday Salon 14

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Happy Sunday y’all! If you’re looking for me this week I might be holed up because my baby turns one next Sunday. How did this happen? *cries in grief*

In happier and more bookish news, A More Diverse Universe is coming up soon!

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Mark your calendars for A More Diverse Universe  the last two weeks in September. This event is hosted by Aarti from Booklust, and in it’s third installment it’s easier than ever to participate. In the past Aarti urged participants to read science-fiction/speculative fiction written by persons of color. This year any book written by a person of color counts for this challenge of diverse reading.

To participate: Read and review one book written by a person of color during the last two weeks of September. I hope you’ll sign up!

This will be my third year participating in A More Diverse Universe and I’m thrilled about the simplified criteria–while my reading rarely delves into the science-fiction/speculative fiction realm, I now feel like my shelves runneth over with the possibilities. Below are five books from my shelves that I would love to read for this challenge (if I had oodles of reading time) as well as five books that I’ve read that I recommend you add to your list.

Books I would love to read for #Diversiverse

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Kindred by Octavia Butler – This was recently a B&N daily deal and I couldn’t pass it up. I have heard nothing but amazing things about Butler. Plus science-fiction is always a stretcher for me.

House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday – I’ve read bits and pieces of The House Made of Dawn but look forward to reading more from one of the more well-known Native American authors.

Woman Hollering Creek by Sandra Cisneros – This collection of short stories by the Mexican-American author is set in my proverbial backyard.

Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolpho Anaya – Because this book has been on my shelf for years and I’m wondering why I haven’t read it yet. Have you read it?

The Inheritance of Loss by Kirian Desai – I know “Man Booker Winner” shouldn’t be a reason, but it’s what first brought Desai to my attention. Many of you have told me you’ve loved this book so I added it to my shelf.

Oh my gosh so many others on my shelf! Louise Erdrich who is part Native American, Toni Morrison whom I haven’t read in years, Julia Alvarez, Zadie Smith, James Baldwin, Jhumpa Lahiri, Tamari Jones, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Sherman Alexie, Isabel Allende, Banana Yoshimoto. Whew. How does one even choose where to start?

Books I’d recommend to you for #Diversiverse

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Borderlands/La Frontera by Gloria E. Anzaldúa – A collection of prose/poems about being on the border of any kind of divided group-Latin versus white, homosexual versus heterosexual, male versus female. Anzaldúa’s is a power autobiographical work and a good introduction into Chicana studies.

Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie – About the birth of India in 1949. Plus magic realism. Just read it. It’s fantastic.

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy – Another set in India but it is too beautiful a story to not include here. Roy takes a look at East versus West and who deserves to be loved. One of my favorite books. More thoughts on The God of Small Things.

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami – Again, magic realism, an unusual cast of characters, a story that will get under your ribs and stick.  More thoughts on Kafka on the Shore.

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston – A beautiful story about love and loss. A must read (though I’m dying to listen to this one to catch all of Hurston’s beautiful language and the dialect of the characters). More thoughts on Their Eyes Were Watching God.

 What books would you add to the list? Which are you looking forward to reading for A More Diverse Universe?

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Good Chinese Wife – Susan Blumberg-Kason

August 21, 2014 Reading Nook, Review 15

Good Chinese Wife

 

Title: Good Chinese Wife
Author: Susan Blumberg-Kason
Published: 2014; Pages: 337
Genre: Memoir
Rating: Sigh. We’ll get to that.

In Short: While studying in Hong Kong as a young woman, Susan fell in love with Cai, a Chinese National, and after a short courtship they married.

Why I Read it: A Sourcebooks publicist contacted me to see if I would be interested. I saw “intercultural” and “memoir” and agreed.

Why I Almost Didn’t Finish Good Chinese Wife: You know that I don’t accept many books for review these days and when I do I am always fair and honest in my post. In fact, I would say that more often than not I am not absolutely bowled over by books I receive.  About halfway through GCW I was ready to jump ship. I emailed the publicist to explain the situation but she’s out of the office until September. Go figure. What’s a reader to do?

But why didn’t I almost finish? I found myself irritated by the author and the predicament that she put herself into with her marriage to Cai. I felt judgmental, something I am rarely ever when reading a book, and I began to feel so negatively. This makes me feel like a terrible person, but I just didn’t care when the trainwreck of a marriage was heading. I think that my issues with the book stemmed from the writing style.

The memoir is obviously written with hindsight but it was so heavily input into the dialogue that I was constantly distracted by Susan’s questions about what might have been going on. Mostly, though, I wanted Susan to stand up for herself against her husband and for them to communicate more. It was when I wanted to reach into the pages of the book and start yelling at her that I knew I needed to just walk away. Again, I don’t usually react quite this strongly but it was a rather unsettling feeling.

Why I Did Finish Good Chinese Wife: In the end, curiosity got the better of me. And a little bit of guilt. I flipped through the next couple of chapters and some things of interest happened so I skimmed. And skimmed. And skipped stuff and read stuff until I finally got to the end. I’m glad that I “finished” the book as some of the things that bothered me in the first half were recognized by Blumberg-Kason. There are a lot of lessons to be learned from Susan’s story; I’m glad that she eventually learned those lessons herself and shared them with others..

Bottom Line: Good Chinese Wife wasn’t what I had hoped it would be, but the feedback on Goodreads is very strong. If you want my copy, holler and I’ll send it to you.

How quick are you to abandon a book? What about when that book is for a publicity tour?

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A Visit to Toronto

August 19, 2014 Life, Travel 24

Haliburton Highlands

Toronto! Ontario! Several months ago my dad told my sisters and me that my grandparents would be celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary this summer at my uncle’s lake house in Ontario, Canada. I knew it would be quite the undertaking to take the girls up there for a week but I also realize that it might be the last chance we get to visit as we average a visit every 5-7 years. In case you don’t know, I’m half Canadian and lived in a Toronto suburb when I was a child. It’s always such a breath of fresh air to return.

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And this trip we were lucky enough to not only stay at my grandparent’s fantastic farm just north of Toronto but also stay the weekend at my uncle’s lakehouse in the Haliburton Highlands.

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It was stunning.

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Absolutely breathtaking. And peaceful. And relaxing. And with all the eager helping hands of my family, Scott and I were able to escape on kayaks twice during the weekend. I told Scott that the only thing that could have made it better is if I had brought my Nook with me. Of course he gave me an exaggerated eyeroll.

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It was so much fun to see my grandparents (the cutest Swiss couple you ever did see…below right with Evie who isn’t thrilled). And of course time with my dad and stepmom (and sister and fiance from California) plus aunts and uncles was such a treat. Elle even caught a fish with her poppop (my dad). Nevermind that she left him with the pole to get a treat and 2 seconds after she left he caught the fish…

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Back in the Toronto “suburbs” we spent most of the rest of our time cruising around my grandparent’s farm on ATVs. They have acres of gorgeous gorgeous landscape (my grandpa has the greenest green thumb), and we ate raspberries off the bushes, snapped off peas, pulled carrots, and had fun scaring the Canadian Geese.

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Evie loooooved driving the gator and golf cart. And I love how Elle is laughing so hard that she’s a blur.

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A tiny snapshot of my grandpa’s gardens. Sadly I waited until the morning we left to take my pictures and it was too soggy to take a tour of the grounds. Next time.

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On our final full day in Canada we decided to take the girls to downtown Toronto to take the ferry to Centre Island and a little amusement park called Centreville. It was amazingly perfect. Minus the hotter than expected weather.

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The park is aimed at younger kids and there was only one ride that Elle wasn’t tall enough to go on. Evie could only ride a few of the rides but she was content hanging out in her stroller, snoozing in the Ergo carrier, or crawling around on the grass and eating dirt. You know, the usual.

Elle had a blast.

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Maybe that’s an understatement…

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And the great thing about the park is that it was free to roam–we only had to pay for the ferry over to the Islands and then the price to ride the rides. Perfect.

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And as you can see, no sugar at all was consumed…

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Ahhhh Toronto. I’m so glad I was able to take my children to my childhood city. I know they won’t remember this trip and I certainly hope that we’ll be back. My only regret is that I didn’t have extra time to meet some of the awesome Toronto/Canadian bloggers I know.

 

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The Sparrow Readalong – Sunday Post 92

August 17, 2014 Readalong, Reading Nook, Sunday Salon 34

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Happy Sunday! We are back from Toronto and I’m feeling quite refreshed after a little social media/blogging break. I haven’t yet opened Feedly to check it out but all those posts will be marked as read (with a bit of scanning because I’m compulsive). I keep wondering why I don’t delete that little Facebook app on my phone. I really should. But that’s neither here nor there today. For almost a week it was nice to be absolutely unconnected.

Ahem, speaking of connections…

You know what I haven’t had in a long time? A good readalong!

Lately The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell has been getting a lot of buzz around the book blogosphere (I love when that happens with older books…this one published in 1996). Here’s what I know about the book: Sci-Fi and Religion. Two areas where I don’t typically dive into with my reading (I’ll do sci-fi before religion, though). I’m intimidated to pieces by The Sparrow but too many of my favorite bloggers have raved enough that I can’t ignore the chantings anymore.

So who wants to join me of a little readalong of The Sparrow?

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The details:

When: Begin September 1st (I’ll put up an introductory linky post), Halfway (through ch 19, pg 201 of my copy) on Monday September 15th, Finish Tuesday, September 30th.

Synopsis from Goodreads (if you can believe it, I copied and pasted this without reading a word):
In 2019, humanity finally finds proof of extraterrestrial life when a listening post in Puerto Rico picks up exquisite singing from a planet which will come to be known as Rakhat. While United Nations diplomats endlessly debate a possible first contact mission, the Society of Jesus quietly organizes an eight-person scientific expedition of its own. What the Jesuits find is a world so beyond comprehension that it will lead them to question the meaning of being “human.” Words like “provocative” and “compelling” will come to mind as you read this shocking novel about first contact with a race that creates music akin to both poetry and prayer.

So…what do you think? Join me! Join me! Let me know in the comments below. I’ll use #SparrowRAL as the hashtag on Twitter.

In related news, I’ve been thinking of starting a monthly readalong here on the blog–thinking that those who are interested can suggest books and then we can put it up to a vote. I’ve been really missing readalongs lately. Would you be interested? I’m thinking low pressure and backlist (ie not new) books.

 

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And some bookish news…linking up to Kimba’s Caffeinated Book Reviewer and Sheila’s Book Journey

Books Recently Finished: I did finish The Buddha in the Attic and it’s saving grace was the short length of the book (125 pages or something). The subject of women coming over from Japan to marry and their subsequent lives in America was very fascinating and the chapters dealing with the internment camps during WWII were heartbreaking, but I would have preferred to read a more character driven story. I also finished Austenland while on my trip. It was cute.

New Books in the House: None. Yay me! Though in the airport I discovered a cute little storybook called 101 Things to do With Baby. I passed it up but it’ll go on my wishlist.

New Books on my E-Reader: Kindred by Octavia Butler. I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while so as soon as it popped up on Nook Daily Deal I snatched it up!

Books on the Nightstand: I’m reading Good Chinese Wife for a book tour this week but I’m about to abandon ship. It is a memoir of an American who married a Chinese man while she was living/studying as an expat in Hong Kong. Interesting story but the author’s voice is terribly irritating to me. I’m curious to see where her story goes but I’m not sure I can stand to finish. We’ll see. Soon I’ll be reading Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand for book club.

 What’s going on with your Sunday today? Bookish and otherwise?

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Back Soon…

August 13, 2014 Life 11

Girl Reading

 

Isn’t she beautiful? My grandparents have the most beautiful gardens at their farm in Toronto. We flew home to Dallas last night and had a wonderful trip to visit family in Toronto (mostly further north in cottage country). I’ve uploaded all 450 pictures, run one load of laundry, and crashed like a zombie in my own bed. I had some posts drafted for while I was gone/this week, but pictures didn’t get uploaded in time so I’m going to go ahead and continue the break until this weekend.

What did I read on the trip? Austenland by Shannon Hale. It was cute. Perfect vacation fare. Tell me what you’ve been reading!!

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Ten Gateway Graphic Novels

August 5, 2014 Reading Nook 22

Gateway Graphic Novels

image of/by Alison Bechdel from cartoonstudies.org

 

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday topic from The Broke and the Bookish is “ten books I’d give to readers who have never read X.” While my first instinct would be for audiobooks, I’ve already written about Gateway Audiobooks. Next best? Graphic Novels.

Graphic novels have been on my mind a lot lately. I was telling my dad about several of the graphics I read earlier this year and he was so puzzled how I found these books to be satisfying reads. After months of internal debate, I finally loaned him my copy of The Complete Maus. Less than two days later he sent me a text telling me that it was one of the most moving and affecting reading experiences he has had in a long time. I refrained from saying “I told you so,” but I did have a little spark of pleasure.

Graphic Novels is one of my favorite blogging discoveries. I remember skepticism I felt before picking up my first graphic novel (I’m using this term loosely as many of the below are actually memoirs). Would it be weird reading a book of comics? Would I be able to get into the story or would I constantly be distracted? I went to Barnes and Noble one night and sat on the floor with Persepolis. After reading the first several pages I knew that I needed to read more. I brought it home with me that night and have since been seeking out other graphics to devour.

Every time I pick up a graphic novel, I am surprised at how I am sucked into a story through pictures and little bits of text. Being a word gal I forget how emotionally powerful images can be. Below is a list of ten graphic novels that I would recommend to someone who is wanting to get started reading this format. Most of these are stand-alone editions or books that I read in a single volume (such as Persepolis and Maus). Because I don’t gravitate towards series books, I’ve been missing out on a lot of comics but eventually I will remedy that. If you’d like to know more about the graphic novel format itself, Beth Fish Reads has recently written a great series called Graphically Reading and I recommend her recent Buying, Reading, and Reviewing post.

Top Ten Gateway Graphic Novels

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Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi – a memoir of a young girl’s upbringing during the revolution in Iran. The drawings are beautifully done in black and white and the content is informative, personal, and moving. (more thoughts on Persepolis)

The Complete Maus by Art Speigelman – a biography of Speigelman’s father as a Jewish prisoner during the Holocaust. Haunting, affecting, gut-wrenching. An absolute must read. (more thoughts on Maus)

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang – Through three unique storylines, Yang explores the challenges of fitting in with a culturally diverse (or not so diverse) setting. Yang intertwines Chinese myth, American stereotypes, and a little bit of humor and seriousness in his colorful comic. (more thoughts on American Born Chinese)

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel – Bechdel draws emotion like no other graphic artist I’ve encountered. Fun Home is a memoir about her relationship with her father throughout her youth and it is so good. So good. It isn’t lighthearted reading but it is one of my favorites.

Relish by Lucy Knisley - Foodie memoir. Colorful, fun, lots of recipes and personality. While I didn’t love her well-known French Milk, I adore Relish and it’s a great one for first graphic experience. (more thoughts on Relish)

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Castle Waiting by Linda Medley – Black and white drawings are the only part of Castle Waiting that isn’t colorful. The only fantasy title on this list but the story and the characters (and the fantastic illustrations) are all too good to miss. (more thoughts on Castle Waiting)

A Game for Swallows by Zeina Abirached – another black and white memoir about growing up in a time of war, A Game for Swallows looks at Beirut through Abirached’s childhood eyes. I’ve heard excellent things about her new book I Remember Beirut. (more thoughts on A Game for Swallows)

Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang – two books in one, Boxers and Saints is a magical realistic take on the Boxer Rebellion in China. This piece of history seems to be widely forgotten and the dual perspective and the colorful illustrations provide a rich introduction. (more thoughts on Boxers and Saints)

Watchmen by Alan Moore – Currently my lone foray into superhero comics (if the Watchmen can be considered superheroes). There’s a lot going on in this novel and it’s certain to keep you on your toes throughout! And also, the book is better than the movie. Just saying. (more thoughts on Watchmen)

Saga by Brian K. Vaughan – Ok, you caught me. I haven’t read the Saga series yet, but I’m dying to!

What graphic novels do you recommend to folks who have never ventured into the format? What graphic novels are among your favorites?

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Books vs. Movies – Sunday Post 91

August 3, 2014 Reading Nook, Sunday Salon 27

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Sunday Funday! Not really. We don’t have anything planned for today, except dinner tonight with my mom, but the weather isn’t treacherous so maybe a walk to the park with the kiddos will be in order. This summer’s weather has been highly unusual for us–much cooler and with quite a bit more rain. We only broke 100 twice in July–usually almost every day in July and August are over 100 degrees. Both yesterday and Friday I went running and was able to take one of the girls with me each day as it wasn’t even into the 80s. I’m not sure whether to be glad or worried. Right now I’m glad.

Books vs. Movies.

This isn’t going where you think it’s going–the book is always better than the movie. Like 99.5% of the time anyway. Over the past couple of years, though, I’ve noticed very different preferences in my books and my movies. After finding myself saying “I would love this in a movie, but not really in a book” or “I love the book but it doesn’t translate into film,” I started keeping a mental list. I haven’t put much thought into why I like some things better on paper and some things better on screen, but I’m sure it would make for a very interesting theory which I don’t currently have the brain power for. In fact, I would love to see my likes and dislikes in a fancy little Venn Diagram (I’m thinking about you Laura!), but alas.

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I adore romantic comedy movies–I consider these to be comfort movies (here are my top ten favorite comfort movies) and I’ll watch them over and over and over and…   I do not like romance books. It’s the happily ever after that gets me. In some sick and twisted way, I just don’t want my books to be neatly wrapped up. I want to cry. Though I do love a good crying movie, too (Armageddon always did the trick and Steel Magnolias is another favorite). I don’t mind a love story in my books (The Time Traveler’s Wife), but no neat bows, please.

Weird, Unusual, Zany fits into the “overlap” category for movies and books. I find these easier to find in movies, though, than in books. Tom Robbins writes a great weird/unusual/zany novel and the Coen Brothers and Wes Anderson movies are ones that I can usually count on. These are also the ones that I likely have to see alone as the hub does not “get” them.

You can give me a fair amount of creepiness in books but I won’t even consider it on film. Too prone to nightmares!

I fail at series books but I adore Law and Order: SVU which has been on for too many years.

Dysfunction works for me on paper but I hate this in TV shows–if someone has an affair on a show and this becomes a focal point, I’ll likely stop watching (as an example). Maybe because books provide much better character studies whereas many shows are more plot based? I’m not really sure.

Chase scenes, especially involving cars and wreckage, are never ever ok–in print or in action. I get so bored with them that I zone out. I think this is why The Knife of Never Letting Go did not work for me as a book. Though I might be more interested in seeing it on the screen.

There is so much more, but I’m curious about you…

do you like the same types of books and movies/TV shows? Or have you noticed big differences in what you enjoy between the two types of media.

Sunday Post

 

(Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer)

Books Recently Finished: East of Eden by John Steinbeck. You guys–it was so good and the perfect summer epic. I can’t believe I was so intimidated by it. If you’re feeling the same, don’t be scared. Pick it up and get lost.

New Books in the House: Quickbooks for Dummies. Yes really. Nothing else fun and new. We were walking into Half Price Books a few days ago so I could browse, but a certain someone started throwing a tantrum, so we immediately left. Sigh.

New Books on my E-Reader: The Attachments by Rainbow Rowell, Batman: Hush, Batman: Year One, Batman: The Dark Night Returns. Because, you know, it was Batman’s 75th birthday.

Books on the Nightstand: I started The Buddha in the Attic this weekend because it’s short but after 30 pages it may become a DNF. Right now it feels like a bad knock-off of The Things They Carried but I’m hoping it picks up. I also have Austenland on my Nook/phone, and I’m listening to Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking. It’s fascinating stuff.

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Happy Sunday Funday to you!

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Cook It Up! The Big Book of BBQ

August 2, 2014 In the Kitchen, Review, Weekend Cooking 16

Cook It Up Challenge

 Welcome to the first edition of Cook It Up: A Cookbook Challenge. If you missed the introduction post, the idea of the challenge is to dust off your cookbooks and put them to use. You make the rules work for you–some folks said they wanted to cook X amount of recipes a week or Y recipes a month and others said they wanted to focus on a specific book for the month. Anything goes! Feel free to join in anytime–I’ll be posting a link-up the first Saturdays of each month if you choose to blog about your progress.

The Big Book of BBQ

Since July was Operation Use The Grill at our house, I decided to focus mainly on The Big Book of BBQ from Southern Living. I bought this cookbook for Scott a few Christmases ago but it was never used and collected some major dust. Part of the reason why this cookbook collected so much dust is because it is BIG and a bit overwhelming. At first when I flipped through the book I couldn’t find any rhyme or reason to the organization of the recipes and there was so much information. Once I slowed down and started the book from the beginning, I was able to see that the recipes are in fact organized by cooking method (mostly) and that the information sprinkled throughout the book is incredibly informative and valuable.

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The contents of The Big Book of BBQ begins the history of BBQ and how BBQ varies in the different states. I learned that there are different BBQ sauces other than the sweet red that I know and love and that while brisket is the main BBQ staple in Texas, pork and chicken reign supreme in other states. I noticed when we were driving through Pennsylvania and Maryland last week that in those states chicken seems to be the main BBQ fare. Even the spelling of BBQ varies (do you spell it with a que or a cue?).

The next section of The Big Book of BBQ deals with the different types of cooking meats and finally the book begins the massive array of recipes–first the slow cooked meals and then the quicker grilled entrees. Finally the book includes sauces, rubs, marinades, and sides, drinks, and desserts. This book has it all–and more. You can see why I was so overwhelmed at the start! In addition to the recipes and the tips and the information included in the book, The Big Book of BBQ is a picture book of photos–of the actual food, of BBQ competitions and participants, of BBQ restaurants, or menus and signs. Every single page has bright color photos. While I love seeing pictures of the food I’m about to cook (to see what it is supposed to look like), sometimes the images were overwhelming.

So what did we cook? And how did the recipes stack up? I dogearred about 20 things (at least) in the book and we managed to make eight recipes. While there were some recipes were we made minor adjustments and others where we will make minor adjustments next-time, all of the recipes were winners and ones we would make again. It’s rare for me to cook eight recipes from one cookbook and love all of them. It is clear that The Big Book of BBQ is a resource that I’ll be turning to again and again.

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Top Left to Bottom Right: Cream-Filled Grilled Pound Cake, Roasted Camp Corn, Molasses-Glazed Chicken Thighs, Grilled Potato Salad, Mesquite-Smoked Cornish Hens, Bacon-Wrapped Barbecue Burgers, Grilled Herbed Chicken Drumsticks with White Barbecue Sauce, and Beef Fajitas.

Our favorite from The Big Book of BBQ? The Grilled Pound Cake (which I’ve already posted about). Seriously, so good. Ok, Scott would say the Cornish Hens (which we mostly smoked and then grilled to finish up). But the recipe that I think will be added into our regular rotation will be the molasses-glazed chicken thighs. I’ve never been a fan of barbecued chicken but these were delicious!

Your Turn!! Link-up any posts you have related to the Cook It Up Cookbook Challenge:

 

The next Cook it Up Link-up will be Saturday September 6th. Hope to see you then!

 

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weekend cookingEvery weekend, Beth Fish Reads hosts Weekend Cooking.  “Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs.”  Hope you’ll join the fun!

 

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Lake Powell | Roadtrip Pictures

July 31, 2014 Road Trip, Travel 16

Camping Lake Powell

 

Yup, still going through the couple hundred pictures I took on The Most Epic Roadtrip in June. Because we went to so many different places, I’ve been thinking I’d share the highlights of where we went and then do a single post on the actual camping (with kids) aspect. Best laid plans, right? Though hopefully you had a chance to check out our side trip to Arches National Park, which was the stop right before Lake Powell.

Lake Powell has long been a bucket list destination for me–though the bucket list item is to stay on an actual houseboat on the lake rather than in a camper. Even though we didn’t rent a houseboat this trip, I’m so glad that we were able to visit and take a cruise around the Wahweap Marina and even a bit of the lake. Lake Powell sits in the very southeastern part of Utah and dips down into Arizona (even though most of the lake is in Utah, our actual campground was in Page, Arizona. Looking at the picture above of our camper, the view in the back (literally all of it) is Utah while the camper sits in Arizona.

Lake Powell is the second largest man-made reservoir in the United States (behind Mead) and the length is about 185 miles long! The surroundings are quite sparse–like it was incredibly deserty driving up to the lake, but the sandstone around the lake makes for a stunning backdrop. Visitors are welcome to boat around the lake and throw up a tent onshore, sleep on the boat, or camp with facilities in various marinas.

Anyway, Lake Powell was a bit of a hike away from the rest of our camping spots, but it was worth the trip and I hope that we’ll be back again. And next time to rent one of those houseboats!

The weather was HOT and dry and we headed to the beach to swim in the water, which was nice and cool. Despite the sour faces, everyone was having a great time. Ha! One day my girls will smile for the camera, right? Pills.

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After naps and such, we took a boat tour of Antelope Canyon. We almost didn’t take the tour because the girls were tired and I wasn’t sure how they would do, but I’m glad we did. Below you can see pictures from the trip as far as the boat could take us in the water. Seeing the erosion of the water and the wind was incredible and next time I’d love to do the actual hike through Antelope Canyon.

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That’s pretty much it! We had a lovely campsite which was incredibly clean and surprisingly they allowed us to burn fires (several of the campsites we went to did not allow open flames). I put up my hammock and read for a little after the girls went to bed and of course indulged in some s’mores.

Fun in the sun for sure!

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