Saturday, July 08, 2017

splash

Despite taking the boys to the indoor pool at the Y at least once a week since Nico was about 6 months old, I rarely take them to outdoor pools. The hassle of getting everyone coated in sunscreen plus the general hassle of wet suits and changing clothes and washing hair has never seemed worth it. But last weekend and then again today I took them to a really nice local pool to meet up with friends, and we have all loved it. The pool is in a part of town typically considered kind of iffy, so it isn't very crowded, even on Saturday afternoons. It costs $4 for the three of us to get in, there are plenty of chairs in the shade where we can stash our stuff, it has a big waterslide and a little kid splash / slide thing, and the deep end is just big enough for my kids to have fun but not big enough for me to worry about them.

Judging by today, I think we have suddenly arrived at the sweet spot of near-independent pool children. Nico spent most of his time going on the big waterslide over and over, and he's finally a confident enough swimmer that I was happy to let him go on his own to the deep side. As soon as we arrived, Elliott strapped on his puddle jumper, put on his goggles, and flung himself into the 6' end to paddle across with his brother, so I guess he's got this. Alas, he was less than half an inch too short to go on the big slide. Maybe next year, my son! We're swimming there again tomorrow, and I think I will have to take them at least once more before school starts. (Though just now I realized how few weekends are left before school starts and I OBJECT. MORE SUMMER WITH MY WATER BABIES, PLEASE.)





















Reading:  Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Playing:  Remember Us to Life by Regina Spektor, especially these two tracks.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

media

After not managing to read a single book in May (dammit, May), I powered through three in quick succession this past week:

1. The Boy on the Bridge by M.R. Carey. This is what I guess would be considered a companion novel to The Girl With All the Gifts, which I loved. Because the cause of the hungries is already known / revealed in this book it was a little less suspenseful, but it was still really good. It made me want to go back and read the other one again for details I'd forgotten.

2. Still Life With Tornado by A.S. King. The book discussion group I attend has read several books by A.S. King, and I've read a few on my own. So far I have liked them all, and this one was another strong showing. Glory O'Brien's History of the Future is still my favorite, followed by Everybody Sees the Ants.

3. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. Couldn't put this one down.

Now I'm going to attempt Thank You for Being Late by Thomas L. Friedman, because the local secular humanist group is trying to start up a book club, and this is their pick for July. It looks a little thinkpiecey for my tastes, but I'll give it a shot.

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I went to see Wonder Woman last night and it was really great. It took a while to win me over, because World War movies aren't really my jam, but by the time it got to Diana's first real battle scene, I was all in. I'm already excited about the boys watching it someday and seeing a badass female superhero. Their first Star Wars movie was The Force Awakens, so we're making a good effort with the female hero examples.

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I ponied up the $8.99 a month for the Starz app so I could watch American Gods and it's been well worth it. They've gone off-book a little more than I expected in the last few episodes, but overall it's been great. The casting is pretty perfect. I'm sad they've already finished the first season...I guess got spoiled watching Supernatural, which has 20+ episodes per season.

Friday, May 26, 2017

The days are just packed.







































(I have worked a lot also and I've done lots of laundry and I even went to a short conference, but those things aren't as photogenic as the kids.)

Monday, March 13, 2017

five by five

1. Nico had his first school science fair, and it was fun doing a project with him. My mom and I never got the hang of science fairs when I was a kid, and I just love teaching kids scientific method, so this was my jam on so many levels.

His school is also doing a two-week read-a-thon fundraiser right now, which gives us an excuse to let him read lots, and it's great.

I have no idea when or how he learned, but Elliott can write all his letters now, and that is also fabulous. Yesterday he decided to write each member of the family's name on a strip of paper and then tape them up on the fireplace. As much as I sometimes pine for my babies, I adore seeing these new skills blossom in my getting-big boys.











2. One of my favorite signs from the Women's March rings very true lately.



Since February, I've been to three rallies in support of Planned Parenthood, a women's march huddle, and two meetings of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. At the second meeting of the latter, I volunteered to be a presenter of the Be SMART program. I barely even know me anymore. I only decided to offer because the instructor said that a local kids' playgroup / services organization that I've been entwined with personally and professionally since Nico's babyhood has asked for the program, but hasn't had any luck finding anyone to give it. I figure I can give it for them and see how it goes, and decide from there if I want to keep going. I've also committed myself to one year of helping the local Sierra Club chapter try to gain some momentum, and to that end I'm doing online training to become approved as an outings leader. In early May when I'm working 50 hours a week and crying in my Cheerios over my poor life choices, please feel free to remind me that I brought this on myself. Everything seems manageable in early March.

I've also volunteered to be PTA secretary at Nico's school next year. The PTA meetings typically consist of the president, the treasurer, and me, and we're at a point where if no one steps up to take over officer positions, we will have to disband at the end of this school year. I really don't want to see that happen, but I also have the sense to recognize that I have no business offering to be president.

Recently someone on Twitter asked everyone to weigh in on the question if you suddenly didn't need to work for financial reasons, would you keep working? My initial instinct was that I would because I'm really good at my job and I enjoy it and I believe it's important work. But then I started thinking about all the things I could do with my time if I didn't work - lead the PTA or volunteer more or start another troop of Navigator scouts...so now I don't know. It's just an academic exercise anyway, but for the first time I don't know if I'd keep working or not if I won the Powerball.

3. I got my hair cut a few weeks ago, and it took about four days to decide, but I like the new look. The upkeep is going to be a pain in the ass, however, because my hair grows so fast.



4. My friend Jennie recently recommended the podcast Presidential and I seriously love it. I only ever had the basic bare-bones American history as required by my high school curriculum, and I have always had a bit of a crap memory for names and dates. I'm up to the Ulysses S Grant episode, and now I kind of want to read his memoir. Other podcasts I really like, after years of thinking I wouldn't like podcasts at all since I don't like listening to talk radio: 99% Invisible and Criminal.

5. I just finished Order of the Phoenix and I have Thoughts. If you haven't read it and you don't want spoilers, best stop here.







It's the first of the series that I've only read once before, and I went into it expecting not to like it very much. I recalled being really offended by the Umbridge plot and all the unfairness and Harry's teen angst, and by all the things that could've been avoided if characters just freaking talked to each other. But whether I've been tempered by age or just was in a different mood, I felt much better about it this time around. JKR's writing is pretty stellar in this one, and the deepening of the characters of Dumbledore and McGonagall is just aces. I really like that she chose to shatter the image of James as perfectly heroic. The villains are so well-written, and the heroes are pretty heartbreakingly human. I'm still a little pissed over Sirius dying, and especially the almost throwaway scene in which it happened. I don't remember much from my one read of the final two books, so I'm looking forward to rediscovering how the series is all tied up.

Reading: tomorrow I start Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Playing: Hamilton, my old friend

Sunday, March 05, 2017

I've been down a time or two.

On my 17th birthday, my dad took me to a Clint Black concert. I grew up listening to country music with my dad, so even though I had mostly moved on to rock and metal by then, I was thrilled to go. This past Friday night, we went to see Clint Black again, and I was deeply stunned to do the math and figure out it had been nearly 19 years since our first concert. This has always been my favorite Clint Black song, and I've always agreed with the basic thesis of the song:



Indeed, listening to his old songs in the week before the concert really did bring up a lot of old memory-feelings. The concert was really fantastic, and even ended with the same song as the last one. It occurs to me this is the one downside of mostly listening to really old rock music with my kids - we'll never be able to go to Zeppelin concerts together. Maybe I can start them on Clint Black...surely he'll still be touring in another ten years or so when Nico is 17.



Playing:  Clint Black mixes on youtube, of course

Reading:  Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Monday, February 27, 2017

Four.

My sweet second baby is four, and I can hardly believe it. Three was an education with this child, who is full of big emotions and big energy. At just-four he is sweet, stubborn, sassy, wild, loving, and funny. He has a quick temper, but gets over it fast. He likes to run, kick and throw balls, and jump off of things. He still tries to drink water out of pools and splash pads and the shower. His favorite color is green, just like his older brother. At preschool today he declared he wants to be a ranger when he grows up. He and I are alike in many ways, and he challenges me so much. But he's also fantastic and I'm so very grateful that I get to be his mama.








Tuesday, January 31, 2017

bullet with butterfly wings

2017 is turning out to be an even ranker dumpster fire than 2016, no? Jesus Christ on a bike, everything is horrific. I'm going to try not to talk about it too much because it's exhausting. I've made more calls to elected officials in the past eleven days than in my entire life preceding this disaster. In the interest of giving my brain something else to do, here are some things that have happened that aren't governmental apocalypse-adjacent. I'm re-reading Harry Potter for the first time since the last book came out. I used to re-read all the prior books each time a new one came out, but I didn't have time after Order of the Phoenix, so I haven't read any of the early ones since then. I'm almost through Azkaban, which I suspect will remain my favorite. It's nice because now I hear all the actors' voices in my head doing the characters' lines. After this I might try to re-read the Lord of the Rings trilogy since it also feels like it would be extremely timely. I'm also thinking about a re-read of Watership Down in remembrance of the author, who died at the end of the 2016 celebrity massacre. When I read it back in 2010 I loved it, so it would be nice to revisit it.

Nico has blossomed into a confident reader, and it completes me. He recently got started on the Magic Treehouse books and can read one to himself in about twenty minutes. He likes the companion research guides as much as (if not more than) the stories and has apparently been reading the Tonight on the Titanic research guide over and over in his free time at school. This has led to a barrage of questions, such as why weren't there enough lifeboats? Why did they say women and children first? Why did the Titanic break in half? It's all making me wonder how in the world the author managed to spin this as an amusing adventure for Jack and Annie while avoiding all mentions of horrible death. I guess I should read the book for myself.

I heard about bullet journals when they first became a thing, watched a few videos, and decided I was too much of a perfectionist to attempt one. Then all last year I was dissatisfied with my planner choices and lack of organization. In December as I looked at planner after planner that didn't meet my specifications, I found myself thinking, if only I could find a planner with daily pages plus pages for all my to-do lists, all in one book. Then I realized, hello, this is exactly what bullet journals are for. So I spent an evening looking at pictures and videos online and browsing Pinterest, decided on a few hybridized layouts that I thought would work well for me, and gave it a shot for the month of January. So far it's working out fantastically well for me, so below are some photos. I do wish I'd left myself six pages for Navigators to-do lists, because I filled my one allotted page by the third week of January and it annoys me to have to add another list section on a non-sequential page. Turns out perhaps bullet journaling is also going to be good therapy for my relentless Type-A tendencies. I only use it for personal life stuff, since I have an Outlook calendar and a separate daily planner at work. I also did not include a full monthly calendar page or spread because I use my iPhone calendar for all of that. I only list important or oddball events on my monthly page. I used a journal I've had lying around since before I got pregnant with Nico, because I didn't want to put any money into this project and then end up abandoning it. So far this journal has been perfect for my needs. Also, because this seems to be a thing people want to know, I am using a black Uniball Jetstream pen and a red Pilot gel pen right now. But I found out last night that Jetstreams come in red, and I plan to get one this weekend.



















For fun, an update on Nico's hair situation, for lo, it is fabulous:



Reading:  Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Playing:  The Crane Wife by the Decemberists. I forgot how much I love it, and I bonded with some Twitter friends over our shared appreciation of it the other night, which is one of my favorite internet things.




I participated in a local rally and march on Inauguration Day. This was my sign.