An Update on My Reading Goal: The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

The most recent book I have read off NPR’s list of the 10 best books of 2016 is The Wonder by Emma Donoghue.

I really wanted to love this book because I loved Room, also by Donoghue. However, it fell a little flat for me. The book centers around the relationship between a young girl believed to be a miracle because she has been fasting for several months, and her nurse caretaker. The plot drags and I found it difficult to engage with the characters.

The concept behind the story is fascinating. “Fasting girls” were really a thing in the 1700s and 1800s in northern Europe. Some people viewed them as miraculous. Some viewed them as suffering from an eating disorder. The story does cause us to explore people might do or accept certain behaviors in the name of religion.

The writing just never grasped me. Maybe I was distracted, but I never felt fully engaged in this book. I’m not saying don’t pick this book up at all. It’s not terrible, but it’s not the riveting tale I was hoping it would be.

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(Image from amazon.com)

Here is the updated list:

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone by Olivia Laing

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Here I Am by Jonathan Safran Foer

Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters

Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen

Eleanor Roosevelt: The War Years and After, 1939-1962 by Blanche Wiesen Cook

Eyes on the Street: The Life of Jane Jacobs by Robert Kanigel

Valentine’s Day Through the Years

Last night as I was packing up my daughter’s Valentine supplies for the party at daycare today I started reminiscing about how my feelings about this holiday have changed over the years. Now, helping my daughter look through the Valentines she received at school while we make homemade pizza together for Daddy is the best way I can imagine spending the holiday.

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Some of my most fun Valentine’s Day memories are from college when my other single gal pals and I would go out to dinner together and make inappropriate jokes about the sickening day of love. Somehow boycotting the holiday turned out to be more fun than celebrating it would have been.

One of my most annoying Valentine’s Day memories was when I lost a contact lens in the sink at school during eighth grade. I was so debilitatingly blind without them that I had to have the janitor take apart the pipe to obtain the lens. This is a disgusting story that I have never even shared with my optometrist (irony, anyone?) husband. I’m sure he will be horrified when he reads this.

My dear grandmother has sent me flowers to school or my office for as long as I can remember. She even carried on that tradition with my daughter this year, sending flowers to her daycare center. This is a reminder that Valentine’s Day can be about celebrating all kinds of love, not just the romantic kind.

Now, my dear hubby always comes through with flowers and candy, and I try to guy-up the holiday a little for him with gifts like beef jerky and brewery gift certificates.

However you choose to celebrate or boycott Valentine’s Day this year, I hope you have a good one. The world can use a little more love.

 

Pantone 2017 Color of the Year: Greenery

Anyone who knows me knows I despise winter and love when spring finally arrives. This year I am even more excited because we have a spring baby on the way. I love Pantone’s 2017 Color of the Year, Greenery, because it pays homage to that wonderful time of year. Here are some items in that hue to get you excited for spring!

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1. This tea kettle is far more cheerful than my stainless steel one. (Kate Spade) 2. This nail polish is actually even called Pantone Greenery. (Ulta) 3. A green dress would transition from season to season beautifully. (H&M) 4. I need these sandals even though there is still snow and ice as far as the eye can see. (Coach) 5. Green ankle pants are so much more fun than black. (Banana Republic) 6. Yankee Candle enthusiasts will remember the Green Grass fragrance, a cult classic. Meadow Showers offers up a similar fresh scent. (Yankee Candle)

Parenting: Requirements of the Girl Dad

Within three months my husband will be officially out-numbered by girls. I can’t imagine a better guy for the job of parenting daughters. He’s patient, level-headed, and kind, and expects that behavior out of others. There are certain duties required of a Girl Dad that I did not realize existed until watching my husband’s relationship with our daughter unfold. I love observing their relationship and can’t wait to see how great he is with two little girls.

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(Photo by Alyssa Crawford Photography)

Here are a few pointers for the Girl Dad:

Respond with “pretty!” at least a dozen times a day in response to everything from hairstyles to artwork to temporary tattoos.

Spend hours searching for tiny Barbie and Calico Critters accessories. Just this morning, my husband spend at least 15 minutes looking for a miniature corn-on-the-cob at my daughter’s request.

Be silly. There’s a certain silliness dads can have with their daughters that is different from the relationship they have with sons. I love to observe just how goofy my usually pretty serious hubby will get when he is caught up in the moment with our two-year-old girl.

Use the birth of your daughter to justify the purchase of a high-dollar rifle.

Teach your girls your hobbies. There is no reason not to involve your girls in whatever you like to do. My oldest daughter can’t wait to test out her new golf clubs with her dad this summer.

Give in to the hugs, kisses, piggy-back rides, and general abundance of affection. My husband, always a bit shy about public displays of affection, has realized it is futile to keep our daughter from smothering him with kisses or hanging on his back in restaurants or at the grocery store.

Hold your daughters to a high standard. A girl never wants to disappoint her daddy. The desire to make my dad proud is probably responsible for at least 75 percent of the success I have had in life. When a dad believes in his daughter, she believes in herself.

What I Want for My Daughters

This isn’t a political post. Those of you who know me know where I stand politically, and those who don’t probably don’t care. Still, in the midst of so much political discourse on social media, I have spent a lot of time thinking about what is important and what doesn’t really matter so much.

In about three months we’ll bring our second daughter into the world. There is so much I want for them. To quote Marmee from Little Women, “I so wish I could give my girls a more just world. But I know they’ll make it a better place.”

So here are some of the hopes I have for these two girls that I love more than anything in the world.

I want my daughters to respect themselves and others. I want them to have the confidence to know they can pursue any dreams they have.

I want them to shake off criticism.

I want them to know it is more important to be kind and clever than to be pretty.

I want them to avoid growing up too quickly and I want them to play with dolls too long.

I want them to embrace being girly, but not be afraid to get their hands dirty be it on the farm, at the fishing hole, or on the golf course.

I want them to never lose site of the importance of being kind to all people and to animals.

I want them to know it’s OK to be a feminist and the negative connotations that term gets are from people who necessitate the existence of feminism.

I want them to learn how to tune out negative energy.

I want them to find something they enjoy doing and give it their all.

I want them to find happiness, whatever form that takes in their lives.

At the end of the day, even if we differ on our political stances, we are probably not that different when it comes to what we want for our children.

 

 

The Cookies I Can’t Stop Making

I love these cookies. They’re healthy because of the oatmeal, right? I didn’t photograph a play-by-play on this one, but I have made these a couple of times in the last few weeks. They’re easy and will disappear quickly!

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I found the recipe in a Land-O-Lakes ad. Fancy, right? Make these and you won’t be sad you did.

Recipe:

  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 3/4 cup uncooked old-fashioned or quick oats
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup M&Ms
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

 

  • Heat the over to 375 degrees.
  • Combine the brown sugar, butter, egg, and vanilla and beat at medium speed until creamy.
  • Add the oats, flour, baking soda, and salt. Beat at low speed until well mixed.
  • Stir in the M&Ms and chocolate chips.
  • Drop dough by heaping teaspoons, a couple of inches apart, on a lightly greased cookie sheet.
  • Bake approximately 11 minutes and allow to cool on the baking sheet for a minute before removing to a cooling rack.

 

 

10 Recent Pregnancy Thoughts: 26 Weeks

I’m 26 weeks along now. Some people say they feel like this pregnancy is going quickly. Those are the people who are not carrying the baby. However, I’m sure April will be here before I know it!

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10: I have been experiencing a heightened desire to correct people’s grammar. So far I have been able to restrain myself because I don’t want to be that person, but if I see one more misplaced apostrophe on Facebook or hear someone say “ain’t” again in the next three months, I might come unglued.

9: However, if grammatically sound, people’s comments regarding my pregnancy aren’t bothering me as much as they did with my first pregnancy. The other day a woman with whom I am acquainted said “wow, that baby bump is really getting big.” I just let it roll off. Maybe it is just that I am more confident in my ability to deliver, raise a baby, and return my body to a state of relative fitness despite the extra pounds and Cesarean scar.

8: How does an OCD gal know if she’s actually nesting? I believe I’m in a permanent state of nesting, so I don’t know how much of my desire to organize my sock drawer or dust the entertainment stand a dozen times a day is pregnancy-related or just my usual personality.

7: I haven’t told my husband this yet, but I’m pretty sure I’ll emerge from the Stevie Nicks/Pretenders concert in February with a new list of baby girl names to include: Stevie, Chrissie, Nicky, Gypsy, Rhiannon, and Gold Dust Woman.

6: Take down your Christmas decorations or I’m going to puke. I had intense morning (all day) sickness with my first pregnancy that reached its pinnacle around Christmas and with this pregnancy, also experienced a great deal of nausea around the holidays. Every time I drive by a lingering plastic snowman or holiday wreath I feel as if I could be sick.

5: My ribs hurt. That’s where the pain seems to be concentrated this time around. I remember my hips and legs hurting with the first pregnancy, but this time it’s all ribs and my upcoming massage cannot come soon enough!

4: I’m not cool anymore. Maybe I never was, but being pregnant is a blatant daily reminder of this fact. It makes me think of what my Connecticut friend Tracee said she thinks when she drops her toddler off at her mother’s for a few hours. She said: “I just feel free and cool again. I don’t even smoke, but I just want to go buy a pack of cigarettes and roll the window down and crank up the music.”

3: Will I be able to love this baby as much as I love my first daughter? I realize the answer is most likely yes, but it is hard to imagine being able to love someone else as much as I love her.

2: I hope my older daughter is still excited when the baby actually arrives. Lately, her elation at her soon-to-be big sister status has compelled her to approach strangers in stores to let them know she has a baby sister in Mommy’s tummy. It’s her favorite topic of conversation.

1: Fewer than 100 days! My doctor won’t let me surpass my due date because of complications with my first pregnancy so we officially are within the 100-day mark! That is worth celebrating.