Random Thoughts: Short and Bittersweet

I had my crankypants on last night for no good reason — oh, I had reasons, primarily too much to do in too little time, the perpetual problem — and so I really struggled with something to post.

But I got a wake-up call at the news that someone I know knows parents whose two sons have Batten Disease. I didn’t fully succeed in getting uncranky, but I sure got a cold dash of perspective.

In lieu of the struggle to write anything relevant, I’ll send you over to Slate for two (funny, I promise) articles regarding a unique parenting perspective. The upshot of the first is that saying yes to your kids is a good thing because they will learn that they can depend on you, and as a result they will leave you alone to do your own thing. The upshot of the second is that staying home is okay — forced fun is no fun.

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I haven’t gotten to the library in ages, which is why I haven’t had anything new for What I Am. I just reread Inkheart from my personal library, and I discovered I liked it far more this time around. I am rereading for the 150th time The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. And I’m currently enjoying the beats of M.I.A.’s Arular, but I don’t have a critic’s perspective on it.

I need some book ideas: send your favorite five my way, and I’ll put them on my library list!

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Cook Forest Countdown: Two Days. So not ready.

What I Am: Reading this Week

The very funny blokette at Angliophile Football Fanatic made a shocking discovery earlier this year, and set out to remedy the situation in true AFF style. She started a book club, but not just any book club. An online book club that would meet once a month and hereby be known as PMS: People Masquerading as Scholars.

The first book was About the Author by John Colapinto. I read it — and liked it, quite a lot — but I did not get to join the discussion due to the fact that it took place around the same time as my (pathetically early) bedtime. I hope to do better next month. (I’m still figuring out if you can view the chat.)

I love to read. I come from a family that loves to read. I hope to instill my love of reading in my girls.

Growing up, I read all the time, and I mean ALL THE TIME. My parents had to forbid me from bringing a book to the dinner table. In family movies, you can always find me: I’m the girl sitting at the picnic table reading a book while all my cousins are running around like nutters. My parents didn’t ground me by sending me to my room — where I just would have curled up with a good book — they made me go out and play with other kids.

I was a strange and solitary child.

Anyhoo, the point being: I like to read.

So in addition to all the other themes poking their heads up around here (hadn’t you noticed? No, I guess not. This is my third theme, with Meatless Monday and Lost Day) I am going to make Wednesday What I Am day. It will pertain to books and music, including kids’ music and/or books.

This week, I am reading two books. This happens very infrequently, for obvious reasons. And one of the reasons that I am reading two is that one of them I have read before.

I am on my third or fifth (probably the latter) time through Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkein. I got turned onto them by (surprise) DearDR when we were dating. He reads these books religiously. No, seriously: religiously. He quotes from them. He can tell you all of the differences between the movies and the books (we own several copies of the books, and all of the Peter Jackson-directed LOTR DVDs.) He knows all the themes and all kinds of stuff. In his other life, he is DearDR, Tolkein scholar.

I think it’s a problem, actually. I’m trying to get him to read the Harry Potter books for a change of pace. Or even the Narnia saga.

The other book I am tackling is The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. I have heard lots and lots (and lots) about this book, and I finally had to read it for myself. I am very interested in it; I think I would actually be enjoying it a lot more if I got to read it in more than 5-minute stretches. So far, no go. I persevere, though, because, truly, I am interested in the subject. And the writing is pretty decent.

What are you reading this week?

Random Thoughts: Frustration

I have mentioned that I have been “working on” a book-related post. But I think I’m going to scrap the idea.

I have been striving, since I gave up reading novels for Lent, to work more non-fiction into my book-reading repetoire.

On a recent trip to Joseph-Beth Booksellers to spend a gift card I had received for my last birthday, I picked up Barack Obama’s The Audacity of Hope. And while I admire him greatly, and think he will be a fantastic president, and he’s a good writer, and I appreciated the arguments in this book that let me know his policy ideas… I got utterly bogged down. Around chapter 10, I was lured away by a Michael Connelly novel called A Darkness More Than Night. That one moved right along.

I did eventually (kind of) finish Obama’s book. (Okay, I completely skipped chapter 10. But I did read most of the chapter on family. And some of the afterword.)

While I was attempting to finish Obama’s book (and thoroughly engrossed in Connelly’s), I was anticipating reading The Maternal is Political. It is a library book, and I had waited a long, long time to get it, and I had read good things about it at one of my favorite sites.

But I don’t know if it was the overload of political reading/coverage/emails at work (another story entirely) or what, but I just didn’t get into it. The essays were very short, and I didn’t feel they were communicating to me or about me. Maybe it’s because I don’t have an illegal alien as a nanny, or am not even close to being speaker of the house, but all I felt was disconnect. I am all for teaching my kids to vote responsibly, and bringing them up as vegetarians, and being environmentally friendly, and so on. Some of the passion in the essays came off as shrill to me.

I didn’t finish it. I don’t think I even managed half of the essays. I tried to renew it, but it was on hold, which considering how long I had waited for it, I was not surprised.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t disappointed either.

As these reviews show, I am clearly missing something. If Obama wins the election (here’s hoping!), maybe I’ll try it again.

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Another product about which I had read rave reviews was this DVD, Mom and Toddler Fitness. I have been trying to find a way to get structured exercise into my life. I thought this would be a good place to start.

Turns out for me, not so much. The problem is that I have TWO toddlers to “exercise with” instead of just one like the parents on the DVD. Also, when I get down to floor level, this is clearly a sign. It says: “Jump on Mommy!”

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Bun has been pooping in the bathtub. Regularly. It’s as if she waits until she’s in the tub.

Bun is quite the pooper, in any case. I think she goes around five times a day. Usually, even after pooping in the tub (which just leads to a giant waste of water), she deposits a sizable load in her diaper before bedtime. Anyway to train her to go between dinner and bath time?

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And: On mandatory overtime again, next week, at work. An extra hour a day. Crap.

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On a slightly different note, I have added an a-ha station to my Pandora. You remember a-ha don’t you? (Allison, you may be excused from this discussion.) Along with a-ha (still waiting to hear “Blue Skies”), I have gotten a good dose of Depeche Mode, Pet Shop Boys, Duran Duran, New Order, and a bunch of other artists that take me back to my high school days. And while it is a little fun to remember some of the stuff going on while these songs were “hot off the press” so to speak, it is reminding me to please listen to what my teenage daughters will be listening to. Because why all of a sudden does Dave Gahan, singing Martin Gore’s lyrics, sound like a freaky crazed stalker?

Because I am the mother of girls, that’s why.

The Utter Unself-Consciousness of Toddlerhood

One of the things I love about Monkey is her utter lack of self-consciousness. She unrepentantly picks food out of her teeth (usually out of her “triangle teeth” i.e. molars) with her finger at the table. She runs around pulling up her pants (who decided that toddler pants should be low-cut should be cursed to an existence of wearing very-low-riding jeans with granny underpants). She talks to her silverware, her stuffed animals; she decides she is going to be Gusk the dog at the slightest whim.

And I was reminded of these things Sunday, at the very low-key (but not low-riding) picnic at Kim’s house yesterday. Where I also got to see her again, and meet her family, and meet her and her family. It was a nice two hours out of a stressful weekend. And the cupcakes were a big hit.

On the way home, we were listening to the classical music cassette tape that has been DearDr’s choice of late (the CD player is broken). Monkey loves music, and she seems especially attracted to classical. She came in the house the other day to tell me about the nut crack music she liked. As we were driving home yesterday, I was thinking about all the stuff still facing me at home, and Monkey started yammering at me from the back seat.

“The crack nut music, Mommy! This is it. The crack nut, the crack nut!”

I finally realized she was talking about what was playing in the car.

A couple of tracks from the Nutcracker Suite are on the tape. We listened to them four times on the way home. I am thinking there is a matinee ballet in my near future.

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Even though she wasn’t there, I have to link to her site. Because I really like stuff, and this contest looks too good to pass up.

Tickle Me Funny Bone

This just cracked me up. I love Andrea Bocelli’s voice.

Bocelli’s duet with… gulp, Celine Dion… “The Prayer” was the song DearDR and I danced to at our wedding reception. (I’m sure admitting that I danced to a Celine song is going to cost me cool points. But it’s still a gorgeous song, and perfectly fitting for DearDR and me on our wedding day.)

Had to share. I am working on a post about books I am reading or gearing up to read, and it’s taking me much longer than I thought.