My Ranking: NPR’s Top Books of 2016

I recently finished the books off NPR’s list of the 10 best books of 2016. This reading list definitely didn’t wow me as much as this list of books I read last year. When Breath Becomes Air and The Underground Railroad were absolutely amazing so definitely make time to read those.

Now I’m going to take a little break from reading from lists and treat myself to some mindless crime fiction. Any recommendations?

Do you ever read from lists? If so, what are your favorites?

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(Image from amazon.com)

Here are my rankings, with number one being my favorite.

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

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

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

7. Here I Am by Jonathan Safran Foer

6. Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen

5. The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

4. Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters

3. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

2. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

1. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

When’s The Babysitters Club Opening in My Town?

Ready to feel old? Today in 1986 Ann M. Martin’s The Baby-Sitters Club was first published. If you’re like me, your bookshelf contained several of these iconic novels, which tell the tales of Kristy, Mary Anne, Dawn, Stacey, Claudia, Jessi, and Mallory, seven friends running a club of highly qualified babysitters, just chomping at the bit to watch the children of Stoneybrook, and for a reasonable fee!

Each of the club members had a specific personality. I identified as a Claudia because I liked doing art projects, but was Kristy during softball season, except that she was good at softball. Although, looking back I was really more of a Mary Anne. Jessi was really the most level-headed of the group, but Mallory was super responsible (the oldest of eight kids.) Dawn was the health-food nut and Stacey was the sophisticated city girl with diabetes.

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Now that I’m a mom of two little ones and have a husband I still enjoy dating, I wish Kristy and her pals existed in my town. How amazing would it be to call one number (Claudia’s private line if you’re a fellow BSC enthusiast) and reach all these babysitters? We are fortunate to have a couple of fantastic young women in town that we occasionally hire to watch the girls so we can go to dinner or a play, so I’m not complaining, but I think most moms and former BSC readers would be dialing that number frequently if we lived in Stoneybrook, Connecticut circa 1986.

 

 

An Update on My Reading Goal: Eleanor Roosevelt: The War Years and After, 1939-1962

I have finished all the books on NPR’s list of the 10 best books of 2016. The final book I read from the list was Eleanor Roosevelt: The War Years and After, 1939-1962 by Blanche Wiesen Cook.

I started this book the morning of my scheduled C-section with my second daughter. I was in the mood to read about strong women and I have long-respected Eleanor Roosevelt. I have not read the first two volumes of this biography, which were published in 1992 and 1999, but the author does a great job of bringing us up to speed prior to diving into what is probably the most influential period in Eleanor Roosevelt’s life.

Three months later, I finally finished the book. It’s good, but it’s nearly 700 pages long. It’s well-written and details much of the amazing work Eleanor Roosevelt did. Stay tuned for my ranking of the 10 books on this list.

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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

Here I Am by Jonathan Safran Foer

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen

Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters

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

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

 

Three!

It really does feel like it was just a few weeks ago that we were celebrating my oldest daughter’s first birthday and second birthday. How can it be that this past weekend we celebrated her turning three?

Amelia is three cake

Her pals from daycare, cousins, and some other friends showed up to celebrate, and my mom made these adorable Elsa and Anna cakes.

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I might say this about every age, but three is my favorite so far.

Amelia is three

She has her “threenager” moments of course, but overall she is a kind, sweet, inquisitive little girl. She continues to amaze us and make us laugh every day.

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Lessons from Three-Year-Old Girls

Three-year-old girls have it figured out. They can perfectly balance being glitter-covered, spider-hating princesses with being tree-climbing, nose-picking tomboys. The other day my nearly three-year-old daughter, fully dressed in Elsa of Arendelle princess attire, announced loudly and proudly “I have to go poop!” and ran to the bathroom.

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While I am gently helping her work on discretion when it comes to bathroom issues, I love that she embraces her femininity while being oh so real. When do we as women lose this ability? It seems somewhere between three and 30 we start to pigeon-hole ourselves. Can I be feminine and still be assertive? Can I enjoy shoes and clothes and still be practical and grounded? Can I be kind and still be a strong business leader? Can I love my career and still be a great mom?

I have recently been trying to encourage this balance with my daughter. She enjoys being feminine and that’s OK, but when she wants to try on my lipstick I apply it while reminding her that she doesn’t need makeup to be pretty. I encourage her to play with her trucks as well as her dolls, and she’s never discouraged from getting dirty.

While I’m glad we all eventually grow out of the nose-picking thing, I think we can learn from the unapologetic, do-it-all attitude of our younger counterparts. Be who you are. Wear that crown. Climb that mountain. May our little ones keep that fire inside them.

 

The Blue Tub

Something about the blue tub seemed to offer a glimpse of the future. We were planning our wedding and house-hunting. I fell in love with the quirky character of the 1940s cottage. The archways, the brick fireplace, and the original hardwood floors felt so inviting. I could imagine bathing our future babies in the blue metal tub, original to the home. The babies would be boys so blue would be appropriate.

It is hard to believe four years have gone by and now I bathe our baby girls in this blue tub. I don’t know why I had always thought if I had children they would be boys, but I had that feeling often growing up. I’m not a tomboy. I love being a girl and doing girl things. Still, I imagined mothering boys. But it’s true that God knows what is best for us.

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Having girls is amazing. They are kind, sweet, emotional, and head-strong. They make our lives better every day. The blue tub is a piece of our home’s character that I would never want to change. It serves as a reminder that life doesn’t always turn out exactly as we think it will. Sometimes it turns out so much better.

 

The First Day Back is the Hardest

I left a piece of my heart in the daycare center last Thursday. After a blissful 12-week maternity leave it was time to return to budgets, workflows, and managing my fantastic team. Returning to work was good, hard, painful, liberating, exciting, exhausting, and strange all at the same time.

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(Photo by Alyssa Crawford Photography)

I think all moms feel this pain at some point. Eventually we must leave our children, whether it be to return to the office after maternity leave, dropping them off at their first day of kindergarten, or leaving them in a dorm room at a university. We all must endure that feeling of our heart being down in our stomach.

I got through that first day with a lot of support from friends and coworkers, and especially from my aunt who is a working mom with two kids herself. And you know what? The next day was easier. Now, after just completing my third day, I’m feeling a bit more in the swing of things. I will spend a lot of time trying to balance my roles as mother, wife, friend, employee, and supervisor in the coming months. I know it won’t be easy, but, as with a lot of things, it’s the first day that’s the hardest.