Friday, March 23, 2018

Reading on a Plane

I recently had to take a trip across the country.  For the first time in my 13 years as a mom, I flew with my four kids, solo.  It was intimidating. 

imagine this + dragging four kids and three suitcases with you.  #fun

Traveling is stressful.  Security lines, figuring out meals, and keeping track of everyone makes me haggard.  But, there is one part of gearing up for a flight that I look forward to...

The kids are buckled in and holding their respective security objects, blankies and well-worn stuffed animals.  We've taken off and the flight attendants have cleared the use of electronic devices.  Air is rushing in my ears and the lights in the aircraft dim a bit.  And I lean forward and pull my book out of the seatback pocket.  We are surrounded by clouds.

In this moment I breathe deeply and feel a strong sense of gratitude.  For the next 3 hours, the kids' issues will be minimal, there will be no pressing distractions (laundry, I'm looking at you).  There's nowhere to go and the children are occupied.  

As I looked around the plane on my recent flight, though, I was surprised by how few of my fellow passengers were reading.  Most people were watching movies, many were napping, and there were a couple anxiously flipping through the in-flight magazines.  

I began to wonder...Am I the only one who reads on planes?  Surely this can't be true.  

On that trip, I logged some quality, uninterrupted reading time and managed to crush 178 pages of a new book (Pachinko, it's sooooo good, I can't wait to tell you about it).  I got into the storyline in a way I can't when I'm reading at home and thinking about a million other things.  When do I need to pick up the kids, why is the dog being so quiet in the other room, did I switch the laundry?  

On the plane, it was just me and a Korean family saga and I only had to surface to give my drink order.  

how are they always so happy??? 

The plane landed and my husband met us at the airport.  We went on with the rest of our trip but I'm still thinking about reading on that plane.  Am I weird?  

Would you read on a plane?  In the rain?  In a box?  With a fox?  

The answer for me is: YES!   

On a side note...I always bring three books so I have options and can pick the one that strikes my fancy at the moment.  After further consideration, yes, I am weird.  

getting off the plane like a boss...because I read my book, dummies!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Spring! Yay!

Spring is here!  

The kids are home because of a snowstorm!  

It's actually still snowing and I'm kind of terrified that school will be canceled tomorrow too.  Maybe the time they are spending in the snow will mean a nap or an early bedtime.  That's wishful thinking.

Speaking of wishful thinking...let's talk about how happy I get at the start of something new.  New year, new season, new outfit, any of these things can lead me down a path of blind optimism.  Well, we're heading into a new season, even if there are 6 inches of snow on the ground, and I am feeling hopeful.  

This shows great growth as I just had part one of a root canal, my kids have not gone to school for a solid week in months, and the snow, the dumb snow.  

One way my hopeful outlook is manifesting itself is in my recent Old Navy purchase.  I literally snagged four pairs of sunglasses, including a rose-colored pair, and really cute ankle jeans.  

Cute, right?
Another way I get springy is in my reading list.  I have two more winter reads and then my book list is getting fresh.  I am a completely seasonal reader.  I love it when the books I'm reading match up with my seasonal mood.  I usually grab a classic and maybe a good middle grade or YA. 

Spring means walking outside with the dog on the regular.  No freezing wind and 30-degree temperatures.  Yay!

We pull out Easter decorations and I institute new chore charts and read-alouds.  The windows stay open and baseball season begins.  

It sounds glorious.  It is glorious.  

Until Spring drags on...rainy, sore shoulders because of the dog pulling the leash, no time for dinner because of baseball practices, and allergies.  

But for now, I'm going to enjoy my cheerfulness and ride it out as long as I can.  

Do you change things up for spring?  

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Date Nights are Great Nights

About a year ago, our pastor spoke about ways to have a healthy marriage.  One of the more actionable tips was to go on a weekly date night.  He knew this was not feasible for many and offered the usual alternate idea: after the kids go to bed be intentional about spending time together, watching a movie, eating dessert, etc.

I don't stay up very late and this never really worked for us.  In the midst of a messy table, I couldn't think deep thoughts with my husband.  This type of date only made me feel like I should really be tidying up.

Our kitchen island is always covered in books, art supplies, homework, papers, food, and stuffed animals.  There is always something to clean.
Finding a babysitter has always been more challenging than I would like.  Teens have busy schedules and when they could come, they would spend the evening doing homework or texting friends.  Paying for a sitter and dinner made the evening feel like a major splurge, so we settled on going out once a month at most.  

Then our oldest child turned 13.  

It was summer and I had mixed feelings about being the parent of a teen.  In the fall, I remembered that suggestion about regular date nights and decided maybe if we don't have to pay a sitter or sit in our living room looking at a mess we could actually make it work.  

Since then we have been going out on regular date nights weekly or biweekly, depending on how hectic our evenings are.  They are awesome!  

We feel much more connected.  We can have conversations that don't get interrupted or derailed.  Sometimes we talk about deep, meaningful things and sometimes we just sit across from each other and smile.  

Dinner is waaaay cheaper going out with 2 instead of 6.  We get a nice meal while our daughter makes pasta or nuggets for the kids.  Everyone is happy!  

A benefit of these date nights that I hadn't anticipated is the way the kids get along.  Yes, we have been called a few times ("Mom, she called me a big fat jerk!") but for the most part, they are happy together and the experience bonds them.  The little kids view their sister as a helper and she has to help them.  We pay her a small hourly rate so she takes the job seriously and she almost always makes the extra effort to keep her siblings happy and having fun.  On more than one occasion we've come home to the four of them laughing together while they watch a movie or play a game.  And I'm like: 😳😊🙌

In a world full of things that stress me out and make me crazy, this is a ray of sunshine.  Maybe you should go on a date, too!  #dateyourmate

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Reading Recap: February Edition

February was interesting...a short month, with very weird weather.  I got a little bored with one book and a little frustrated with another so I wasn't sure how many I would actually finish.  

It really doesn't matter how many books you finish in a month.  I would shamelessly post one if that was what I felt up to reading.  One of the things I love about reading is that I can control how many books I read in any given season.  And believe me, there were seasons with 0...I'm looking at you, newborn mom years.  Please don't feel pressured to read more--that is when the magic of reading is dimmed.  

My number this month is 5 and that seems like a lot.  But it's also kind of cheating because two of them were audiobooks that I had started months ago.  

Here are the books I read this month:

This was the frustrating one.  I did not enjoy this.  I was outright annoyed by some of the characters and plotlines.  With each word of dialogue I kept thinking, "No one talks like this!"  

It was the story of a neighborhood drama.  For me, there was a lot of predictability and typical characters: the wild friend, the uptight friend, the jerk husband, the cool husband.  There were a few times that the author actually spelled out the obvious themes by making the characters talk directly about them.  That riled me.  

But, you may love this book.  Some of my friends love this book.  It's got 4.5 stars on Goodreads.  It just wasn't for me.

I listened to this on audible and it was a grind.  The narration was good.  I just didn't like the story.

"People in love feel that way all the time like they don't know what they've done to deserve each other."  

Another audiobook, but I liked this one.  

It was a nice take on what is required to be a novelist.  There were some actionable steps and a lot of encouragement.  The tone and narration were perfect: not too stuffy, but still instructive.  

"The best way in the world for breaking up a writer's block is to write a lot." 

Louise Penny shows up on my list again.  I'm sorry, but I love these novels and I don't care who knows!  Her writing improves with each mystery and even though I read the end before I started, I was gripped.  The characters are interesting and the town is a delight.  

Also, points to Penny for using the word "nonplussed" correctly.  Another book I read this month used it incorrectly and that is a pet peeve of mine. 

"So far in their investigation, they'd found more questions than clues.  But that's where answers came from.  Questions.  Gamache was perplexed, but not dissatisfied."  

I posted about my book club in February and this is the March book club pick.  I've seen this around but never even read the back cover.  Now I'm kicking myself.  It was awesome.

Short chapters are something I could wax poetic about.  They propel me through a book in record time.  I keep reading because I'm like, "This is such a short chapter, I've got to read to the end," and then I get to the end and I'm like, "I can totally read one more, these chapters are so short!"  And then, boom, I've read 150 pages.  

The story is about an autistic teen who has recently been adopted by her foster parents.  She is a complex character with a story that makes you feel every emotion.  I also found myself considering the reactions of each character and wondering how I would have behaved.  

"I like that my Forever Dad helps me know when we'll do things.  He makes me feel calm and safe.  Almost like Michael Jackson."

My husband got this book for me for Christmas and I was determined to read it.  It's a collection of vignettes by a well-known blogger.  It was hilarious.  

I couldn't read it for long periods of time.  When I tried, I would get bored.  There wasn't much of a unifying story so it made more sense to me to pick it up and read a chapter and then wait a day or two and pick it up again.  

The author, Jenny Lawson, deals with big stuff with a great sense of humor and sarcasm.  I've never been around a taxidermy animal but she had me identifying with her and loosening up about my own issues.  

This was the book with the misuse of "nonplussed."  I even got confirmation from my grammar nerd husband.  

Another thing about this book is:  there are so many swears.  Swears and inappropriate situations.  I had to keep it away from my kids because I didn't want to field any questions.  I personally didn't mind it and just viewed the constant cursing as the author's voice.  

I might not be giving this as a gift to many people, but I enjoyed it.

"Because I can finally see that all the terrible parts of my life, the embarrassing parts, the incidents I wanted to pretend never happened, and the things that make me 'weird' and 'different,' were actually the most important parts of my life.  They were the parts that made me me."

So that's what I read this month...what did you read?  Anything you'd recommend?  What's on your tbr list for March?