books + reading

OMG What To Read

This morning, I spent 45 minutes on Goodreads, and it wasn’t until I was done that I felt like all was right with the world. Like I could move on with my day in peace.

I often have mornings like this – when I can’t decide which book I want to read next. At the end of my Goodreads session, I had identified 40 books that were vying for “Next Book To Read” in my life currently. FORTY!

It was too much.

So I retreated, and I embraced the joy of rereading for the moment. I rediscovered two of my all-time favorite books – Carry On Warrior by Glennon Doyle and Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed. These women are incredible. They’re my role models. Their writing lives cause me to become envious and inspired; my hope is that I linger on the latter.

It’s been challenging to find time for blogging recently. For the next month, in addition to working and mommying, I am college-ing for the first time in 8 years. My job requires my to take one grad school course; I’m taking it online, and it started on March 25th and runs until May 18th. The timing is unfortunate – job + infant + toddler + beginning of farming season + limited amount of time for self-care is about to get smaller = blech. 

But, it is what it is.

Maybe that’s part of the reason why it feels hard to find a book to devour at the moment. Every book requires too much focus and energy. Maybe I only have enough energy right now to cozy up with two old favorites that I’ve read a dozen times. And it helps that these two rereads are delightful and inspiring and hopeful in a way that I find unattainable as a tired chubby mama with limited time to exercise, write, or just be. 

So I’ll allow myself to delight in the comfort of books that are old friends, and I’ll allow myself to publish a brief blog post that is more of a mind wandering than a profound essay examining life intelligently.

And I’ll enjoy today.

books + reading · parenting

Edgar’s Faves (Best Books For Two-Year-Olds)

Sometimes, I’ll be sitting on the couch, and Edgar will pick up a book and bring it over to me. “Read,” he’ll say.

So I open the book and wait for him to climb on the couch to snuggle beside me. But then, he walks back over to his bookshelf, and he selects another book. Then he sits down, opens that book, and begins to look through it.  Because the first book he brought me – that was for ME to read.

Does he want me to practice reading Go Dog Go so my articulation improves?  Does he want me to work on my animal sounds for Mr. Brown Can Moo Can You? I have no idea. I like to think that Edgar has internalized a family trait: In our family, our books are comforts, coping strategies, stress relievers, and pure joy providers.

Here are some of the books that have been giving two-year-old Edgar comfort and joy

Recommended reading from two-year-old Edgar:

Special Delivery by Philip C. Stead. Just a sweet and silky book about a little girl traveling to visit her great-aunt Josephine to bring her an elephant.

The Napping House by Audrey Wood. This book has a repetitive text that builds as the story progresses. It’s one of the first longer stories Edgar liked.

All Eyes On The Pond by Michael J. Rosen. Love this book. Each page focuses on a different creature in the pond, showing the world from their viewpoint and then zooming out to see the big picture. Very sweet and nature-y.

Trucks Go by Steve Light. I mean – basically a bunch of drawings of trucks with awesome sound effects. Amazing.

Sheep In A Shop by Nancy Shaw. We’re still loving Nancy Shaw’s sheep series! This one Edgar loves mostly because there’s a train in the shop. And then the sheep get all goofy, and the caboose falls over. It’s pretty awesome if you’re a two-year-old.

I Love You Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt. This book is so stinking cute. A mom putting her child to bed, and the kid asking lots of “what if” questions – like, what if I were a one-eyed monster, would you still love me then? (Spoiler alert – she will. Mom always will.)

 

 

books + reading · snapshots

All The Things (September 2018)

Wow, wow, wow.

This month, the biggest THING is this: We have a new baby boy, a new adoptive child. He is sweet and wonderful and perfect and we are overjoyed.

We’ve been on the adoption wait list for a while, but we haven’t been waiting nearly as long as long as we waited for our oldest child, Edgar. So we were blown away when we got the call from the adoption agency and brought our new son home two days later.

So, there are things this month – but the biggest thing is the tiny baby boy asleep in my arms as I write this.  As for the other things –

Things I’ve Been Reading: The latest Cormoran Strike novel from Robert Galbraith, also known as the alias for J.K. Rowling. Also read this month: How To Be A Happier Parent, I’d Know You Anywhere, and Buddhism Is Not What You Think.

Things I’m Contemplating: How to read the books I want to have read. Like, I want to read books about adoption, mindfulness, and parenting – but they are often way less appealing to me than a good novel. I have no answers; it’s just something I’m thinking about.

Things I’ve Been Listening To: Lots of audiobooks! (Possible solution to the thing I’m contemplating?  We’ll see.)

Things I’m Enjoying; The sweet babyhood of our new baby boy.

Things I’m Struggling With: Making sure my two-year-old is getting all the love and attention and activity and care he needs at a chaotic and tiring family time.

Things I’m Watching: Way more TV than usual!  I started the month bingeing on reruns of The Office and Friends. Moved on to falling in love with This Is Us (always two years behind any pop culture craze) and keeping up to date on The Good Place (very much enjoyed the premiere episode of season 3).

I’m sure I’ll write more about our adoption journey at some point – but for now, these are the things.  14203324_1271024389583870_1636348107344372373_n

books + reading · parenting

Edgar’s Faves (Best Books List For 22-Months-Olds)

I love these books posts, but I am mostly writing this one today because there’s a lot going on and I want to keep the blog consistent! Keep it simple – that’s one of my mantras this week.

Edgar had a sleepover at his cousins’ house recently, and we sent some of his current favorite books with him as a comfort. I love that – the fact that books are a comfort. They certainly are for me. We had a last-minute overnight trip recently and I packed ten books. TEN! And I needed every single one of them.

Recommended reading from 22-month-old Edgar:

Caps For Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina. Edgar loves the silly monkeys who mimic the cap seller in this book. It’s a winner with me, too.

Hug Machine by Scott Campbell. Edgar loved this book, eventually, but it started out as an obsession of mine. I purchased it as a gift for many of the toddlers I know, and reading it is such fun. Plus you get to give lots of hugs while you tell the story!

The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear by Audrey Wood. Oh, my goodness – cutest book ever! We first read this at Tamara’s parents’ house. This might be one of my absolute favorites. It has an adorable plot, but Edgar loved it even before he understood the plot. (Honestly? He still might not get it. Go read it – it’s kinda meta!)

Baby Present by Rachel Neumann. I can’t remember how we stumbled upon this book. It actually reads like a short meditation. The text starts like this: “Breathe in, baby. Breathe out. You are perfect just as you are, sitting in the here and now.” When I read it to Edgar, I feel like I am taking a moment for myself, a moment of meditation and quiet mind. Those moments are few and far between when you’re caught up in the chaos of parenting young children, so I have appreciated this book oh-so-much.

Bringing The Outside In by Mary McKenna Siddals. A nature lover’s dream book!  So sweet and lyrical. It follows a group of kids playing outside throughout the seasons, and uses rhyme and repetition beautifully.

If You Give A Mouse A Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff. A classic! I love this book and its counterparts, If You Give A Pig A Pancake and If You Give A Moose A Muffin. 

Hairs by Sandra Cisneros. A children’s book by the author of The House On Mango Street! This is a beautiful and poetic book. I was actually surprised when Edgar started to love it so much! There are few trucks. The moon doesn’t make an appearance. For some reason, he just loved it.

Edgar and I hope you enjoy!

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books + reading · parenting

Edgar’s Faves (Best Books List For 18-Month-Olds)

Edgar’s new favorite thing to do at bedtime is ask about what he’s going to dream about that night.

I know. It’s too cute.

I’m not even sure how it started. But now, his routine is three books, a song, and his dream telling. Whenever I mention bedtime, he says “Dream!” Then we talk about what he’s going to dream about – usually something connected to his day – and then I lay him down to sleep.

These posts about Edgar’s books fall into a different category than most of my other blog posts. They are sort of becoming a scrapbook of little moments and memories from Edgar’s babyhood and toddlerhood, and I think blogs are great for that. They can be a way to capture these little magical moments in time. And for a non-scrapbooking mom like me, that is extremely valuable.

Recommended reading from 18-month-old Edgar:

Good Night Good Night Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker. Really, anything and everything trucks worked for 18-month-old Edgar.

Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems. HOW CUTE IS THIS BOOK? I love it. If we’re going to read a plot-based children’s book, I want the plot the be simple and sweet. This one is. Edgar loves it so much.

All The World by Liz Garton Scanlon. Tamara is really good at finding awesome children’s books by just browsing around a bookstore. She found this one at Main Street Books in Davidson, NC. We didn’t buy it there, just glanced through it and then requested it from the library, then bought it online later when we realized how much we loved it. (Now that I’m reflecting, I really wished we’d bought it at Main Street Books!)

Corduroy by Don Freeman. This was one of the first plot-based books that Edgar liked. I loved it at this age because it had a plot, but wasn’t really long and verbose, so it suited his attention span well.

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. Edgar’s favorite part – and mine – is when the show drops on Peter’s head, PLOP!

From Head To Toe by Eric Carle. It is so cute how much Edgar likes this book. It prompts kids, asking them to raise their shoulders, bend their neck, kick their legs, stomp their feet. I only wish I liked it, even a little bit. To this day, I will agree to read this book exactly one time before referring Edgar to his other mother for a second or third or twentieth reading.

Edgar and I hope you enjoy!  🙂

 

 

 

books + reading · mindfulness

Happiness Is An Inside Job

This summer, I crossed a few books off of my Slow Jams Syllabus. This was a list of books that were in my To Be Read pile for a long while. They survived many episodes of thinning out my book pile, and I can be pretty ruthless about getting rid of books that I know I’m not going to read. The thing was that I knew I wanted to read these books someday.

I set an intention of making these Slow Jams a priority during my Summer Sabbatical. I mostly accomplished this by downloading the books via Audible and listening to them during my many road trips. I often listen to podcasts (or, let’s be honest, toddler jams) on road trips, but I realized that one of the books – Happiness Is An Inside Job by Sylvia Boorstein – was only six hours long, audiobook-style. That’s one round trip to my mom’s house in New York. I’ve crossed only two books off of the list so far, but I’m planning to use my commute to work on many of the others.

Here are my takeaways from Happiness Is An Inside Job:

-This book is based largely on the Buddhist concepts of Wise Mind, Wise Effort, and Wise Concentration. I’ve really enjoyed reading more about Buddhism; one of my favorite books of all time is Buddhism Plain And Simple, by Steve Hagen. I’m going to read another book by Hagen to follow this one up since I am back in this groove.

-Radical acceptance. The idea of saying, “This isn’t what I wanted, but it’s what I got.”

-Boorstein writes about signs that people have attained some enlightenment. One of the things she talks about is the difference between people who say, “A terrible thing happened. Why me?”, and the people who say, “A terrible thing happened.Why not me? These things happen.”

-That lofty word, equanimity. The definition, according to my internet search, is “mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation.” There’s not supposed to be a goal when it comes to Buddhism and meditation, I don’t think – I think you’re just supposed to be, and accept your circumstances. But if the stillness, the meditation, and the acceptance bring equanimity – well, that sounds pretty great.

This wasn’t my favorite book – I enjoyed one of Boorstein’s other books, It’s Easier Than You Think, much more. But it was a good read for me in this moment, when I am setting the intention of being more present. (More on that to come.)

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books + reading · parenting

Edgar’s Faves (Best Books List For 12-Month-Olds)

Edgar loves books. This morning, as soon as I’d lifted him from his crib and set him on the floor of his bedroom, he wandered over to the pile of books on his nightstand. He selected A Traffic Jam Of Trucks (a long-time favorite), and asked “Read?” in his tiny toddler voice. Then he plopped down in my lap and we read the book together.

It doesn’t surprise me much that Edgar loves to read. I think kids often end up loving what their parents love, and I am definitely a reader. Tamara is, too, though she has a lot less time to read during the farming season. (Which is about 75% of the calendar year, at least!)

Sometimes, Edgar will occupy himself, playing with cars or a guitar or his dollhouse, and I’ll be able to steal some time reading a novel on the couch nearby. And sometimes – THIS IS MY FAVORITE – Edgar will bring two children’s books over to me, and he’ll hand one to me and then sit down to look at the other one all by himself. Once I have him trained to bring me a novel instead of Corduroy, we will be all set.

Here are some of Edgar’s favorites from when he was around a year old. Enjoy!

Recommended reading from 12-month-old Edgar:

Quick As A Cricket by Audrey Wood. I first read this book at Tamara’s parents’ home in North Carolina. I think of children’s books as either lyrical or plot-based. This one is lyrical and is so sweet and lullaby-ish.

City Block by Christopher Franceschelli. This is a fold-out book about New York, featuring lots of transportation (an Edgar fave) and lots of city sights (a Kerriann fave).

Cars And Trucks From A To Z by Richard Scarry. This tiny book full of cars and trucks (duh) and is really cute.

Mr. Brown Can Moo, How About You? by Dr. Seuss. We first heard about this book from a friend, and Tamara loved it. It’s super fun.

Where Is The Green Sheep? by Mem Fox. I really like Mem Fox’s books a lot. We’ve read a bunch and they have all been well-received by Edgar.

Reading Makes You Feel Good by Todd Parr. ALL TODD PARR BOOKS. I have no idea why kids love them so much. Edgar has loved every single one. Maybe the bright colors? Maybe the simple words? In this particular book, there’s a page with a bookmobile on it, so Edgar would eagerly turn the pages until we arrived at the bus of books, the ultimate payoff.

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