Monday, February 28, 2011

Wonders never cease

One of my very best friends told me a week or so ago that if I trained for a 5K with her that she'd quit smoking.  Less than a week later, I bought my first pair of running shoes.

Now, I am one who is fond of saying that the only times I run are either to chase down my children from imminent peril or if I'm being chased so the idea that I would run for fun or health is mildly absurd.  However, as a former smoker myself I know it can be difficult to find the motivation and the will power to quit, and that support is key, so if me running a 5K with my friend  is what she needs to make the quitting happen, I decided that I could run 3 or so miles.

I walked/ran a little over 3 miles with my friend on Saturday, and I think that was too much for me out of the gate.  I'm going to start the Couch to 5K program this week, and I think it will better suit my completely nonathletic, borderline sedentary self's new fitness regime.

To say that I am nonathletic is an understatement.  Even when I was my thinnest and regularly attended a gym, I'd never have called my self fit or an exercise enthusiast.  I took years of dance classes, played softball in middle school, and there is still not an athletic or graceful bone in my body.  

Here's the truth: I'm clumsy, I'm uncoordinated, and, to be perfectly honest, I'm lazy and I hate to sweat.  If I'm to believe the hype, running regularly can actually help me to become more coordinated and it will certainly make me stronger.  I not going to kid myself into thinking that running is going make me less lazy or love sweating, but I am nothing if not a creature of habit and I do believe if I start running regularly, I think I'll keep running regularly.  And I do enjoy challenging myself.

Anyway, I'll let you know how this whole running thing goes.  

Friday, February 25, 2011

It's not all bad

I had a rough day yesterday.  Nothing exceptional, just basic parent rough day stuff - Miles's diaper leaked on me first thing in the morning; Oscar had a tantrum on school grounds (including falling on the ground); the boys ran from me in the school and I had to chase them (with Benji strapped to me in the Ergo); I forgot Oscar's school bag and lunch and had to go home and bring them back; Miles refused to nap; Oscar picking on Miles; Miles picking on Benji; lots of whining all around (from the picking, of course); Miles clinging to my legs and begging to be held while I fixed dinner; Oscar repeatedly demanding snacks just before dinner when he knows they are not allowed, and inciting Miles to to the same; the boys refusing to go to bed; changing a total of six poopy diapers in one day.

I don't find any of those things particularly irritating, but all together in one day they are just short of maddening.  And, really, if it hadn't been for the school antics the day would have been fine.  Typical, even.  But I found it hard to come back from that morning.

So, last night I was reading a post by Becky where she shared some of the small things in life that she's enjoying right now, and asked readers to do the same.  At first I thought, "I got nothing.  This day destroyed me." And then, I decided to think about it, and I did have stuff that made me pleased - my too tight jeans no longer being too tight; quiet mornings; my new book light; my dark chocolate stash in my freezer.  These things make me happy even if I'm having a hard day.

It actually reminded me of something my mom once told me, several years ago.  It is one of the best pieces of life advice I have ever received.  She said to me, "When people wake  up in the morning, they can decide if they want be happy or if they want to be miserable.  I choose to be happy."

This was a real eyeopener for me, because for some reason, I'd never realized that my own happiness was so much in my control.  I always felt like my happiness, or lack thereof, was a result of things that were going on around me and happening to me.  I would let the sum of small annoyances ruin my day.  Why would I do that?  Why did I do that yesterday?

Today, I choose to be happy.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

My recent ON purchases: Let's review

For me, nothing says spring like shopping.  All it takes is the first warm snap for me to start refueling my spring/summer wardrobe, even though by the time those spring/summer clothes arrive in the mail, it will likely be too cold again to wear them.

So!  Ol.d Na.vy (ON) is one of my favorite places to shop online because they have good variety and cheap shipping and the clothing is pretty inexpensive.  It does not last long, but my kids basically ruin all of my clothes so I hate to spend very much on them.  (This one is for you, Amy, since I know you miss ON so much.)

So *brisk clap*, lets begin.

I'll start, with this ruffly top:

I LOVE this shirt.  The ruffles are in cotton and gauze in alternating layers, and the shirt is fitted, but not too fitted, and it hits just below the hip, which is EXACTLY where I need a shirt to hit.  The ruffles cover any lumps and it is so soft an comfortable.  I actually bought the same shirt in black a few weeks ago and got mad compliments.  The only complaint is that the sleeves are a little slippy and the scoop is pretty low, so you need to be careful that your goods are not exposed.

I got this next shirt in as part of my ongoing effort to wear more prints: 

It also hits right below the hip and is loose fitting, but not so loose that I look shapeless.  And I love 3/4 sleeves.  I'm a plus-size girl, and here's the thing - it's really important for larger women to wear clothing that actually fits.  Trying to hid your body in clothing that is too large makes you look larger.  This actually goes for everyone, large or small.  Anyways, I usually don't do buttons because I'm pretty busty and buttons almost always pull and if they don't pull, then the shirt is gigantic on me.  Surprise, surprise, the buttons pull, but only just slightly and almost not at all if I wear a minimizer bra, and it's pretty hard to detect because of the print.  I was going to return it, but then I decided to keep it.  I'm wearing it today and while I don't LOVE it, I do enjoy it quite a bit. *Edited to add: I just noticed that they also sell this top in plus sizes. I think the 1X would have fit perfectly with no button pulling and on minimizing bra.  Damn it!

This next shirt is so cute:

I had visions of pairing it with my white pants this summer and it was going to be so fun and carefree.  Unfortunately, this shirt looks terrible on me. And I should have known it because peasant tops ALWAYS look terrible on me.  I'm just too curvy up top so they hang on me like a sack.  That's exactly what it looked like on me - an embroidered potato sack.  I though about trying a smaller size, but I already know a smaller size will be too short and then I'll be wearing a potato sack half shirt.  This one is going back.

This next top was also purchased in my quest for more prints:


Now, I know it looks kind of farm girl, can I just tell you how amazing this top looks on me?  The sleeves are long enough not to exaggerated the size of my arms, the scoop is the perfect depth, the buttons do not pull (at all!), it hits just below the hip, AND the fit is flattering.  And on, it's not so much farm girl as it is farm girl chic.  I can't wait to wear this one.

Another purchase in my quest for more prints:

I love to wear dresses and skirts in the summer - so easy!  And I love little more than a cotton dress.  This dress cinches just below the bosom which is really important to me, because I have a very high waist.  Dresses with a traditional waist make me look frumpy, and while I may be plus-sized, my figure is anything but frumpy.  This dress shows off my curves, hides my lumps, and will be cool and refreshing in the 95 degree DC summers.  The only issue for me is the sleeves, so I got a very cute marshmallow white, short sleeved, bolero sweater (with sequins!!) to pair with this dress.  The sweater is a really loose gage so I can absolutely get away with wearing it in the summer.  It was sold out so I can't link you to it, sorry.

So, that's what I've been spending my money on.  What do you think?  And how about you?  Any spring shopping?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

When annoying things are not all that annoying

I'm pretty decent at housekeeping - beds get made, dishes washed, counters wiped, tables and TVs dusted, floors vacuumed. But I'm constantly battling clutter.  Living with small children means living with clutter, but my husband is a clutter bug by nature.  He leaves shoes lying and clothing lying around; piles of papers everywhere; bags propped on radiators for weeks; things stuffed nonsensically into shelves and vases and bowls.  He must have three bowls of loose change spread throughout the house.  That just seems to me like an excessive number of loose change receptacles.

I like things in their place.  Coats hung up on the coat rack; shoes in the shoe cubby or the closet; clothing in the hamper; papers filed; bags stowed away in closets; junk mail shredded and bills filed; DVDs in cases.  We are so opposite in this way it is almost comical.  Surprisingly, this is not a huge source of consternation in our marriage.  We accept that we are different in this way.

I supposed it could pretty easily drive me crazy that my husband leaves his bathrobe on the radiator of the kitchen instead of hanging it on the back of our bedroom door upstairs, or that he leaves his work shirts draped over the arm of the living room couch instead of putting them in the hamper.  The same way it could drive him crazy that his shoes are never where he leaves them and I'm constantly putting his stuff away in the wrong places and what the heck did I do with his keys (hung them on the key hook, you're welcome.)

But, as I said, we both accept that this is a way in which we are different.  Neither of us is going to change.  He likes stuff lying about, easy to locate with a glance; and I like things organized and put away.  If I were to say to him, "Nelson, I really wish you'd hang your coat up on the coat rack," he'd say, "Yes, you're right, I know I should do that." This statement, however does not mean is is going  to hang is coat on the coat rack.  It just means he acknowledges that understands that coat racks are the right place for unworn coats.

I realize that it may sound like in reality I am annoyed by Nelson's errant shoes and coats and bathrobes, and okay, when I trip on the shoes that does annoy me, but really I feel like this silly stuff is just part of the collage of our marriage.  They are the background noise of our life together.  You know, those little bits and pieces of life together that add up to your relationship. There is a rhythm to it that I find immensely pleasing and I have to say that this feeling, while welcome, is somewhat unexpected.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

I think I might be in trouble

So Nelson and I just finished watching this movie called City Island.  Netflix suspected I would like it and they were correct.  Well done, Netflix!  That movie choosing matrix is really working out well for you.

Anyways, we watch this movie and it's about this family and all of their secrets, but it's funny secrets, not dark creepy secrets, because the movie is a comedy.  Stuff like both parents still secretly smoke even though they promised each other they quit; their teenage son is a food fetishist; college daughter has secret breast implants.

The character of the teenage boy is played by Ezra Miller (he's like the next big thing or something) and he does a fantastic job.  The whole cast does, really.  The dad is played by Andy Garcia and the mom is played by Juliana Margulies.  It is a really well acted movie.

The teenage boy, you guys, Ezra Miller?  So funny.  He has this great sub plot that's very cute.  He's irreverent and obnoxious and thinks he's smarter than his parents and that he knows everything and just the stuff he says.  Such a ballsy little snot, you know?  And really, really funny.  He was definitely the funniest character in the movie.  I mean he'd intentionally say stuff that he knew was going to piss of his parents, just for the joy of pissing them off.  He knew just how to push their buttons.

It would have actually been funnier, had Nelson and I not be exchanging nervous glances and giggles every time this kid was in a scene because he was so a teenage boy.  I mean, we all know what a teenage boy is like.  They are cocky little know-it-all jerks with tempers that can flare at any minute.  All those hormones, man.  And it's funny because as adults we know how tragically misguided they are and that they will eventually come around, but eventually is not until sometime in their 20s, so, there are some years in there of teenage insanity.

The reason for the nervous glances was that Nelson and I both just realized that we are going to have a couple of those jerks living here, at the same time, in about ten years.  Two teenage boys.  TWO.  Mouthing off and telling us they don't care what we say and that we don't know anything and that we can't tell them what to do and strutting all over the place, trying to be men and flying into hormone induced rages over nothing, like missing T-shirts and who's turn it is to feed the dog.

Just thinking about it, my god.  It is not going to be cute.  I hope these next few years pass slowly.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Fifteen things you should never say to a stay-at-home parent

People say the dumbest things.  I know that they (usually? sometimes?) have the best of intentions, but those intentions often manifest as condescending and hurtful statements, in my case particularly when discussing my life as a stay-at-home-parent.

I have been on the receiving end of every single one of these questions or statements at least once; most of them, multiple times. Snotty answers in italics

1. Wow, I don't know how you'd do it; I'd get so board at home with my kids all day.
Lucky for me my kids aren't boring.

2. Oh, I could never be a stay-at-home-parent; I need intellectual stimulation.
Well, good thing my kids are smart and I get to help them learn new things every day.

3. When are you going to go back to work?
This is my work.  I am at work 24 hours a day 7 days a week.  So, never.

4. That must be so much easier than juggling a full-time job with home life.
Yeah, thank goodness this parenting gig is only part-time.

5. You must have tons of time to do laundry.
Oh, yeah, child care takes up like zero hours of my day.  They pretty much take care of themselves.

6. If I were home full-time my house would be spotless.
I actually strap swiffers on the baby's knees and let my toddler mop the floor with his cereal milk.  The house shines and smells amazing!

7. Don't you miss your career?
Do you want me to punch you in the face?

8. Didn't you go to college?
I did, but I prefer to waste my education on my raising my children instead of being a contributing member of society.

9. Staying home full time is a luxury our family can't afford.
Yeah, it is pretty luxurious with all the snot wiping and no vacations and the smell of poop I can seem to get off my hands. 

10. It's must be much less stressful to be home with your kids than working full time.
Oh my god, it's like no stress at all.  Keeping my children alive and occupied all day is so easy and relaxing.  Excuse me, I'm just going to go grab a nap.

11. Don't you miss having adult conversations during the day?
Yes, but not with assholes like you.

12. It must be hard to keep track of the days of the week; I bet they all blur together.
It's like every day is the weekend!

13. It is so noble/self-sacrificing/Jesus-like for you to give up your career/personal identity to stay at home full time with your children.
I'm not a martyr, I'm a mom.  And I still am a real person with real interests in things not child related like books and politics and movies and wine and evenings out with my husband and friends.  

14. Do you have any life outside of your children?
Believe or not, yes.  I have a book club and a wine club and a large circle of friends both with and without children, who's company I enjoy on a regular basis.  REAL PERSON.

15. But what do you do all day long?
Lets see...I fix three full meals and two snacks every day; wash, dry, fold, and put away laundry; I make beds; I clean up constantly - toys, dust, vacuuming, dishes, wiping spills; I wipe noses; I wipe bottoms; I toilet train; I teach manners; I chase my kids; I play cars and trucks and robots and trains; I read to my children; I do crafts with my children; I tickle my children; I mange my household's budget; I run errands; I schedule home and car maintenance and repairs; I go on play dates; preschool drop off and pick up; I volunteer at Oscar's school; like a million other small things that fill up every single second of my day.  So basically, I do nothing.

So, let me hear it SAHPs, what other thoughtless, idiotic things have people said to you about your choice to stay home with your kids?  How about you working parents?  I've no doubt you receive more than your fair share of "But how can you leave your kids all day?" and "Daycare is letting someone else raise your kids" type asshole-ish comments.  Give me your worst.


Friday, February 11, 2011

Cutecakes

I made these cupcakes for Oscar's Valentine's Day party, which is happening today:


They are chocolate cupcakes with strawberry cream cheese frosting and a jelly candy heart on top.  They are pretty much the most amazing cupcakes anyone has or will ever eat in the history of the universe.  These cupcakes are so good, I want to be buried with them.  If there were a way to marry food, these cupcakes and I would be wed.  They are good, oh so good.

So, anyways, since these bad boys (girls?) are the best thing to eat on or off of this planet, I though I'd share the recipe so you can go forth and make these amazing cupcakes and be forever revered by your families/co-workers/child's preschool classmates.  

Best Chocolate Cake in the History of the Universe
from the back of the Hersey's Cocoa container

2 cups sugar (I know)
1-3/4 cups unbleached, all purpose flour
3/4 cups powdered cocoa 
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil 
2 teaspoons good quality vanilla
1 cup boiling water

Heat your oven to 350.  You should get an over thermometer so you can make sure the temperature is correct because if you over cook these cupcakes, they will be crumbly and get a crust on the edges and not be very moist.

Line muffin tins with papers and spray papers with non-stick spray (to prevent sticking, duh) or grease and flour two 9-inch cake rounds.

Mix together all of the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla and mix on medium for about two minutes. 

Once batter is well blended, stir in boiling water.  The batter will be thin.

Pour batter into papered, greased, cupcake tins.  Fill each cup about 3/4 full.  

Bake cupcakes for 22-25 minutes (22 minutes, really, no more that that) or for 30-35 minutes for the cake rounds (NO MORE THAN 30, seriously).

Cool completely and frost.

Makes about 30 cupcakes or one double-layer cake.

Now, I usually use chocolate frosting as I'm a big fan of chocolate on chocolate when it comes to my desserts, but because these were for Valentine's Day I decided to do something pink, hence the strawberry cream cheese frosting.

Strawberry Cream Cheesing Frosting

8 ounces cold cream cheese
1-1/4 cups butter, at room temperature
4 tablespoons of reduced sugar strawberry jam
3 or more cups of confectioner's sugar
1/2 teaspoon good quality vanilla.

Cream together the cream cheese and butter until well blended.  Add the jam and mix until well blended.  Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time, mixing after each cup.  After the third cup, add more as desired for consistency. Stir in vanilla.

After frosting cupcakes, add jelly hearts, sprinkles, or nothing.  Enjoy.  

Try not to eat more than five in one day.  

Lets look at them one more time:

Now, stop drooling and get baking.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I wonder how long this is going to work for me. If you can even call it working.

Dude.  The sleeping situation in casa de Oscarelli has gotten grim.  Every night, at least one, sometimes both, of the children join us in our bed.  And every night, at least on of  the children curls his body around my head, causing my body to contort into the most uncomfortable of positions, making sleep impossible.  To say nothing of the fact that all this contorting has made my already jacked up neck every more jacked up because they are causing me to position myself in a way that is exactly wrong for my neck problems and is exacerbating said neck problems.

So, in short, boys coming into bed, boys fashioning themselves into child-hats on mom's head, mom not sleeping, jacked up neck becoming even more jacked up.

It sucks.

Yesterday, I told Nelson it had to stop.  We just can't have them in our bed anymore.  I'm not sleeping and my neck, shoulder, and entire left arm are killing me as a result.

I had talked to Oscar and asked how he felt about maybe sharing a bed with Miles and Oscar said he felt good. I also asked him if he had Miles in the bed if he'd be able to fall asleep by himself (with no parent in the bed with him) and if he woke up in the night, he'd feel safe enough to stay in his own bed.  Oscar said he would be fine with just Miles and not need a grown up or need to come to mom and dad's bed.

Now, we've done this a few times; let the boys share a bed.  Miles loves, loves, loves it and has been demanding it more than more.  Usually we have a parent in the bed referring until they fall asleep, but it takes the FOREVER to fall asleep when they are together.  Lots of giggling and kicking, and that does not bode well for them going it alone.  We decided to give it a shot anyways.

We all read books in the big bed as usual, then we tucked them both into Oscar's bed and told them I'd be remaining upstairs if they needed anything.  There was lots of giggling, some shrieking, wall kicking, and Oscar came into my room twice because Miles was kicking him.

Oscar: Mom, Miles is kicking me.

Jenni: Well, ask him to stop.

Oscar: Okay!

Thirty seconds later...

Oscar: Mom, Miles doesn't want me to ask him to stop kicking me.

Jenni: Ask him anyways, and if he won't stop kicking you then move to the other end of the bed, or I'll put him in his crib,.

Oscar: No, no crib!  Okay!

Two minutes later, they both ran in to the room in gales of laughter.  This happened three times before I shut the door, which is old and sticks so they can't open it themselves.  That stopped them from coming out of the room.

They were pretty loud for about 20 minutes.  Then it got quiet.  Not sleeping quiet, but like quiet murmurs.

I went in to check on them and they had turned on the light and were quietly playing cars.  Playing better than I've ever seen them play together.  It was sweet, but also nearly 9PM.

Jenni: What on Earth are you two doing?

Oscar: Uhhh, nothing.

Miles: Playing cars!

Jenni: I can see that.  But what are you supposed to be doing?

Oscar: Going to bed?

Jenni: Yes! YES!  Get in the bed.  NOW.

They scurried into the bed, I turned off the light and I promised them that if they did not quiet down, I was pulling the plug.  The next time I had to come in there, Miles was going in the crib and Oscar was staying in his bed.  Alone.

Then I went back to my room.  There was some wall kicking, some murmuring, but they were asleep in 15 minutes.  All told it took them around an hour to fall asleep.  BUT.  They both slept all night and stayed in Oscar's bed.

It was not wildly successful, but I woke up with a significantly less sore shoulder, so we're going to give it a go again.  I'm hoping the nighttime giggles will wear off but to be honest, I don't even care that much if they are actually sleeping all night and not in my bed.

I'm pretty sure this is going to end badly, but in the meantime, I'm going to get some sleep.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Jerks

I had to bring Oscar in for a sick visit yesterday afternoon.  He has this swollen lump on his face and I noticed it Monday was unconcerned, but then he started complaining that it hurt so I got a little worried. (He's fine.)

So, I brought him in and we were about 10 minutes late.  I pointed out that our insurance card was new, and I mentioned that I had to fill out paper work for Miles when I brought him in for his well child the previous Friday. I had contemplated filling out a form for Oscar then, but decided I'd just wait until I brought him in for his well child in June.

So, the receptionist makes a photocopy of his new card and writes the new co-pay down on the receipt; runs my debit card and gives me my receipt; validates my parking and we get taken back right away, before we even sit down or take our coats off.  I remember thinking, as Oscar and I followed the nurse back, how nice it was having a bigger kid, because all I had to bring in was my wristlet (like a wallet) and Oscar and that was it.  No diaper bag.  It was a cinch.

We go back; wait for the doctor; see a doctor; receive diagnosis of swollen mandibular lymph node, and are sent on our merry way.

This morning, I get a call from the pediatrician's office.  The conversation went like this, where CMG is the pediatrician's office:

CMG: Hello, is this Mrs. Oscarelli?

Jenni: Yes.

CMG: You brought Oscar in for a sick visit yesterday?

Jenni: Yes.

CMG: Well, you never returned the white form with his updated insurance information.  You took it home with you.

Jenni: No, I didn't.  I never received the form to update our insurance information.

CMG: Well, I'm standing here with the receptionist and she's telling me she gave you the form.

Jenni:  Well then she is mistaken.  She did not give me the form.

CMG:  Well can I fax you a form that you can fill out and mail in?

Jenni: No, I don't have a fax machine, but you can drop it in the mail and I can fill it out and fax it back.

CMG: No, we need an original signed copy so I'll have to mail it to you and you'll have to mail it back.

Jenni: Okay, or you could just look at the copy I filled out for my other son on Friday.  The insurance information is identical.  As is the information on the card you copied.

CMG: No, we need a separate form for Oscar, so I'm going to put you down as a self-pay until we get your form back.

Jenni: So you can't even look at the form for billing purposes?

CMG: No.

Jenni: Okay, mail me the form, thanks.

CMG: [Sighs audibly] Fine, bye.

Okay, so WTF was her problem man?  I mean, first of all, why was she all confrontational and accusatory about me having the form and having taken the form home?  Did she think I stole there fucking clipboard and attached pen or something?  Why the hell would I do that?  And why would I lie about it?  I mean, I appreciate her support of her colleague's statement, but who has more to lose here, the woman who forgot to give a patient an important form, or a clipboard-stealing patient?  And WHY WOULD I STEAL A CLIPBOARD??

And second of all the receptionist did not give me the form.  I'd have noticed it; all I had was my wristlet and Oscar.  I'd have had to carry the clipboard/pen combo in my opposite hand, and I'd have been filling it out while we waited for the pediatrician.  And I even mentioned the for to her.  She forgot.  No biggie, but it was her bad here, not mine.

Third, why can't they just look at Miles' form for billing purposes?  Or get the information off the copy of the insurance card?  It is that difficult?  She could have just done that in the time it took her to call me and be a jerk about the whole deal.  I realize they need a form, and I'm coming back there next month for a flu shot booster for Miles, so I could have filled out and signed the form at that time.

Fourth, what does she mean she's going to put me down as a self-pay?  Are they actually going to bill me and not my insurance company?  Wouldn't that just be waisting their time and resources since the KNOW I have insurance and just need a stupid signed form and there is no way I'm paying them when my insurance covers the visit?

Fifth, what's with the sigh?  Is it so hard to mail a form?  They are the ones who made the mistake, not me!  I'll tell you what's with that sigh; that lady is a jerk.  Plain and simple.  And I bet she likes being a jerk and making peoples lives difficult by billing them necessarily and acting all superior and snotty about the whole thing.

Whatever, jerk.  Keep jerking it up.  We'll see how far that gets you.  Know what flies prefer to vinegar?  Honey, that's what.  Honey.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Books and such

I think I told you guy that I got a Kindle for Christmas?  Well, it has fast become my favorite way to read.  I'm a very avid reader, and I though I would miss physical books; the weight of them, the smell of them, the sound of a page turning.  All of those things are definitely parts of reading that I enjoy.

But, it turns out I don't.  I love my Kindle.  If you've never seen a digital reader, they are not back lit like a computer, so they don't hurt your eyes (you need a book light for reading in bed) (do not even talk to me if you are not nerdy enough to own a book light); they have a little bit of weight but are far from being heavy; my Kindle is the perfect size for my hand; they are much more transportable than a traditional book because of their slim design and light weight; you can have multiple books on your Kindle for say, vacation, instead of packing three or four novels so it frees up luggage space.  It's a really nice reading experience.

I'm a pretty committed library goer and I was a little worried that I wouldn't use the library as much, but that has not held true either.  While there are a lot of free books for the Kindle (anything published before 1923, I think, so hello Jane Austen), you still have to pay for most books and some are as expensive or even more expensive than a traditional book.  So, even though I really enjoy reading on my Kindle, I'm not going to buy a book just for the sake of buying a book.  If it's not a book I would have purchased in traditional form, I don't buy it for my Kindle either.

Example: I just finished reading The Last Child by John Heart.  It's kind of a mystery/suspense type book and while I really liked it, mystery/suspense is not typically my favorite genre of book and it's certainly not a book I'd ever read again (I already know who done it, so where's the fun in that?), so I borrowed it from the library and returned it when I was finished.  That was very satisfying to me.  Using the library always makes me feel like good people.

I've read a bunch of books on my Kindle so far that I've really enjoyed.  I re-read the Hunger Games Trilogy and actually found I liked it EVEN MORE the second time through.  I also read A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan and I thought it was fantastic.  Each chapter is narrated by a different character at a different period in time, and all the characters and stories are interconnected.  It goes from the past to the near future.  I read another novel on my Kindle, The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman that is told in a similar style, and I liked that one even more, probably because it's kind of about the newspaper business and I was a journalism major.

Here's the rub though; I really liked the Egan and Rachman novels and I think my friend Becky would like them too, but I can't lend them to her because the publisher does not allowed these books to be lent.  That's annoying, because I do lend out my books all the time and I don't like this restriction.  Plenty of books are lendable (the Hunger Games trilogy, for example), but I want them ALL to be lendable.  Get on that for me, okay?

So, I really realized how much I liked my Kindle this past week. I've been reading Jonathan Franzen's new novel, Freedom, which I received from my mother-in-law for Christmas in traditional book form.  I was equal parts excited and intimidated by this book (if you read The Corrections you can understand why).  It is a tomb, a 576 page hardcover novel.  Huge, in both physical and literary terms.  It took me an entire month of looking at it to psych myself up to begin reading.

It took me a little over a week to get through, which is a long time for me, even for a novel of that length.  In general, it is not nearly as tough as The Corrections; there are actual likable characters (or at least noble characters) which were completely lacking in The Corrections.  I think you need someone to root for in a story, right? The story in Freedom, while sad, is not nearly as disturbing as the one the The Corrections.  The tone is less despairing and I'd say the ending is even happy.   I realize if you've not read The Corrections this is not a very apt description for you, but I don't want to give the book away, and I want those of you that HAVE read The Corrections to give Freedom a chance, because it is better.  Really.

Anyways, while reading this massive book, I must have thought 10 times, "I really wish this was on my Kindle." The book is just so big and heavy and hard to mark a page in and I was tired of lugging it up and down the stairs every day.  I know this just makes me sound terribly lazy, but  my Kindle is just so compact and I love that.

Right now I'm reading Just Kids by Patti Smith and liking it quite a bit, though I almost always like autobiographies and biographies.  I got it from the library and I was wait listed forever and I nearly forgot about it until I got an email on Saturday that they were holding it for me.  I like it so much I'm a little sad that I did not actually buy it, and I'm a bit curious as to how the photographs would appear on the Kindle.

I also checked out Skippy Dies by Paul Murray and am a little concerned it will be too dense, and it's quite long (672 pages) so perhaps I'll wish I'd bought this one for my Kindle as well?  I think if I start to feel like it's too much I'll buy it for the Kindle and save it for later.  No, I probably won't.  I'm the type of person that has to finished a book once I've started; I feel like I OWE it to the book or something.  I think I've only ever put down two books in my life and not fished them.

So, that's what occupying my nightstand these days.  Tell me what your reading, and if you have a digital reader and what you think of it; or what you think of the idea of digital readers.  Just tell me something.

Disclosure: All books linked to in this post come from my Amazon Associates account and I will receive monetary compensation for your clicks and/or book purchases.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

When mama ain't happy, nobody's happy

I started out this morning angry at my husband.  No, not angry.  Frustrated.  Exasperated?  Something not good, and it's been ruining my whole day.

The reason for my frustration?  Last night, Nelson picked up the living room (yeah!) and proceeded to put the day's sippy cups and afternoon snack bowls on the counter over top of the dishwasher. Instead of just PUTTING THEM IN THE DISHWASHER.  WHO DOES HE THINK IS GOING TO PUT THEM IN THE DISHWASHER?  ME!  AM I THE ONLY PERSON IN MY HOME CAPABLE OF OPERATING THE DISHWASHER? HE CANNOT OPEN THE DISHWASHER?  HE CAN GET THE CUPS ALL THE WAY TO THE DISHWASHER BUT IS UNABLE TO FLIP IT OPEN AND PLACE SOME CUPS IN THE TOP RACK? So, before I went up to bed to read, I calmly asked him to please put the cups in the dishwasher and then run the dishwasher.

When I got up (first, of course) this morning and came downstairs, the cups were still sitting on the kitchen counter FOR THE LOVE OF GOD AND ALL THINGS HOLY IS IT REALLY THAT DIFFICULT?  So, I took a deep breath, loaded them up, ran the dishwasher, and proceeded about my morning because, really, it is not that difficult to load a few things in the dishwasher.  For me.  So I just did it and stewed about it because I guess I should have just done it in the first place and not expected him to show me the courtesy of doing a menial chore like moving cups four inches in to the dishwasher when that is MY WORK and then I put on my crown of thorns and bled and bled and bled.

So, Nelson gets up and I try to put on my best non-martyr face and see him off to work and I carefully do not mention the cups and am nice and loving and trying to move on.  And after he leaves I go into the kitchen to refill my coffee and I trip on the trashcan, which belongs under the sink but, Nelson leaves it in the middle of our very tiny kitchen so he does not forget to take the trash out in the mornings.  He rarely puts the trashcan back BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT I DO and, you know, the sink is like four feet from the middle of the kitchen and way too far to walk, and wait, why is this empty trash can so heavy?

That would be because it was NOT EMPTY AT ALL.  It was completely and totally full.  And so I called Nelson to bitch at him for not taking out the trash, which he regularly forgets to do, and he forgets so often that I think I can put the word "forget" in quotes here if you know what I mean.  I threw in some bitching about the dishwasher while I was at it and then some more bitching about some trip he was supposed to have told me about last night and forgot to tell me about and he doesn't even know WHEN this trip is only that is it out of country and some time "next month" and then I just hauled out my cross and carried it on my back for miles and miles and miles.

And then I did some online browsing and filled my cart at Old Navy and bagged up the trash and put it on the porch to take to the trashcan when I took Oscar to school.  And then I proceeded to be snappish and short with my children all morning and incite bad tempers in both boys.  And Oscar cried at preschool drop off and I came home and put Benji down for his nap and baked a chocolate cake and started to feel really silly about my terrible behavior towards my husband and kind of exhausted from all my crankiness and feeling sorry for myself and damn, that cross is heavy, you know?

I sent him a text not long ago apologizing and promising not to bitch about the trash or dishwasher anymore.  I remind myself of sleep-in Sundays and of battles better fought by not fighting.  I remind myself that I love my husband and hate fighting with him and that when I argue with him no one wins, not me, not him, not our kids.  I remind myself that I don't have to wait until tomorrow to start fresh.  I can start fresh right now.

Deep breaths.  Deep breaths.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Rain nor sleet nor snow can stop

randomtuesday

*Nelson has shingles.  He's had a rash on his side for about a week.  He showed it to me last week and I suspected it was an infection.  He was sure it was something more sinister.  I think I was closer to right.  He went to the doctor yesterday and he feels really vindicated that he has an honest to goodness illness and not one of his I-need-to-go-to-Urgent-Care-I'm-so-sick-only-to-find-out-it's-just-a-cold illnesses.

*Boy are playing quietly upstairs.  Trouble.

*I cleaned my refrigerator from top to bottom yesterday.  I took out the selves and scrubbed them and everything.  The life of a housewife is exciting.

*Oscar was off school for two of three days last week.  I'm hoping for a full week.  It's looking promising thus far.

*Now that I've got some good toy organization, my next project is going to be decorating the living room.  I have two blank walls.  On one of them, I'm going to do a kiddie art gallery.  Ikea has these really cheap multi-colored frames for like $2 each or something and I've been putting aside Oscar's choicest work over the school year.  And then on the other wall I'm going to do framed family photographs, college style.  I have this whole vision of how neat it will look; lots of different sized and colored frames; portraits mixed with candids.  I'm kind of hoping by talking about these projects I'll be motivated to DO these projects.  We'll see about that.

*Did you know that the IRS is not accepting tax returns until February 14 because the tax laws were signed so late last year?  And I was so on top of that this year.

*We switched to cheaper coffee this week.  It is not as delicious.

*Nelson and I both bit the bullet and got iPhones this weekend.  Neither one of us has ever purchased a phone; we've either gotten free phones or hand-me-down phones, so this is a huge move for us.  Now we are total iPhone converts and are unsure how we lived so long without them.  Hopefully the money we are saving on coffee will cover the increase in our phone bill.  Heh.

More Random Thoughts at the Un-Mom, check it!