I just finished Brown Girl Dreaming in print and the new Mindy Kaling on audio.
What are you reading?
Dinner is over. It’s not yet bedtime. I can’t put Kai down. It’s dark and cold (well, Florida cold) outside. Ben is teaching. I am standing up at my kitchen island, bouncing an unhappily teething baby in the ergo, while the preschooler watches an episode of Mickey in the living room, typing this post.
My free time is almost nonexistent. By the time the kids are asleep, the bottle dishes are done, the lunches and bottles are prepared for tomorrow, and the diapers are in the wash, it’s 9pm. We go to bed at 10pm, knowing at least one kid will wake us up in the small hours and that they will be up for good before it’s light out. I get that one hour of free time (and maybe an extra hour on the weekend if – big if – the boys both nap simultaneously). Sometimes I read. Mostly I watch television. But I definitely don’t blog. Nope. I cannot bring myself to use my one hour of free time to “work” on what was once my primary hobby. So I don’t. And this blog stays silent for weeks on end.
Yet I don’t give us all closure and pack up and move on from this space. While I can’t bring myself to spend my free time writing book reviews, I don’t want to give up this space that I made my own – this tiny, minuscule piece of the internet that is all mine.
When I think of officially declaring an end to this blog, I start to get nostalgic. I think about how much life has changed since I began blogging in 2007. I was a law student, with more free time than I thought I had. I read for fun and I chatted about it online. I met other readers and developed deep friendships. I began officially reviewing books at some point and I eventually made it my goal to review every book I read.
But the law student became a lawyer and then a mother and then a mother again. And slowly through all of this change, this blog became less of a hobby and more of a chore. A chore I did not want to do. I read less. I reviewed less.
So now, here I am. 32 years old. A mother. A lawyer. A wife. And yet…still a reader beneath it all. And still wanting to hold on to this little corner of the internet that I create.
So I am going to hold on. But I am not going to be a “book blogger” anymore. I promise no more official book reviews. To be honest, I have come to loathe writing book reviews. I am not clever or patient or thoughtful enough to stand out among all of the other book reviewers. I don’t think my reviews add anything meaningful to the conversation about a particular book. And I generally don’t end up having a conversation at all, but just shouting at the world my generic thoughts about a book.
When I first started “blogging,” I was on vox and I had maybe 15 readers. I posted about what I’d just read, with maybe a few sentences about how I liked it. And those 15 people replied and posted on their own vox pages. I posted about what I was going to read next. I also posted about my travels or school or dance or whatever was going on in my life, but mostly I had small conversations about books.
So I am going to go back to this. I am hoping for more of a “real time” blog again (which is why I am hitting “post” now and not “schedule”). Posting what I’ve just finished reading, what I’m about to start, what I’m listening to at the moment. I am hoping this will be less of a job to me but still allow me to keep this blog going in some form. I hope to also post about my kids and any adventures we go on.
I hope this brings back some of the joy I had in writing.
And now the baby is asleep. Mickey is over. It’s time to play pirates for 10 minutes and then go put these boys to bed. In the words of Evan’s favorite mouse, see ya real soon.
I haven’t been around much. I know. It is taking me about 6-8 weeks to read a book and I don’t have much motivation to review any of them.
These posts were well-received in the past so I thought I’d do a new day in the life of post to show you what I am doing instead.
My new normal:
5:45 – awaken to the sound of a baby pooping, bask in the amazing amount (6 hours) of uninterrupted sleep I just got, realize Ben is still home, request baby changing services, sleep for two more minutes.
5:47 – nurse baby, say goodbye to Ben, check Facebook/Twitter/email while nursing
6:15 – put Kai back down, go back to bed
6:40 – awaken to the sound of Evan wondering where Ben is despite the fact that Ben is never here when he wakes up, snuggle with Evan for a few minutes
6:45 – put Jake and the Neverland Pirates on for Evan, go back to sleep for 10 more minutes
6:55 – get in the shower
7:05 – Kai wakes up, prop him on the bed next to E
7:10 – ask E to go to the potty, my assistance is requested, help him and then get him dressed
7:15 – get Evan settled in on the couch with another show (PJ Masks – his newest obsession) and a frozen waffle, go back upstairs to finish getting ready
7:25 – get diapers out of dryer, get Kai dressed
7:30 – nurse Kai
7:45 – gather bottles, diapers, lunch, snacks, etc and load the car up with our numerous bags
7:58 – get shoes and socks on Evan
8:02 – get the boys in the car and leave
8:03 – put on Let It Go at Evan’s request, sing along with him really loudly
8:08 – drop Evan off at preschool
8:35 – drop Kai off at daycare
8:50 – arrive at work, make tea, start working
9 – work on a brief that is due at 5pm (court just requested it the day before)
10:00 – pump
10:20 – keep working on the brief, discuss details about refinancing our house with Ben via gchat, and email with law school about student loans
11:45 – hand brief over to boss for his review/edits
12 – go to lunch at local pizza place
1 – back to the office to pump
1:15 – work on a few other matters
2:00 – review another motion that needs to be filed today and email with co-counsel
3:30 – get brief back from boss to review, pump for the last time
3:45 – realize none of boss’ changes were saved, spend 10 minutes unsuccessfully trying to find his file
4:00 – leave boss in his office to recreate the work he did all afternoon, fend off anyone who tries to interrupt him
4:35 – review final draft of brief and send it on the assistant to file
4:55 – brief is filed with 5 minutes to spare
5:10 – leave the office
5:11 – receive the other side’s brief (which was also due at 5)
5:20 – pick up Kai, learn that he was given a bottle just before 5 which is kind of annoying but manageable
5:50 – get home and find Ben and E playing outside, go in and change
6:00 – sit down to dinner (lasagna that Ben cooked)
6:30 – change Kai, take E to the potty, head back outside with the boys while Ben goes to teach his college class, email with boss, go for a walk with Kai in the ergo and Evan on his scooter, meet a gorgeous German Shepherd puppy named Zelda along the way
7:00 – head inside to nurse Kai, read books with E while nursing, email a bit more
7:17 – give E the option of getting ready for bed or reading books by himself while I put Kai to bed. He reads. Put Kai to bed.
7:30 – get E ready for bed (potty, pajamas, brush teeth, wash face), read books with E, say goodnight
7:50 – head downstairs, scald pumped milk, put dishes away, do bottle dishes, load dishwasher
8:30 – chat with Ben when he gets home
8:40 – take a shower while Ben finishes the dishes and cleans the kitchen
8:55 – read the brief the other side filed and explain the ridiculous of this case to Ben
9:00 – put on The Walking Dead and eat ice cream, pause it in the middle to discuss refinance numbers again because I guess that’s what adults do
10:00 – head upstairs and get ready for bed
10:10 – climb into bed and nurse Kai while watching The Office
10:35 – put Kai down, climb into bed, watch more of The Office, switch to The Vampire Diaries when Ben falls asleep
11ish – go to sleep, hope I don’t get woken up by Kai until at least 3
It turns out that having a nursing babe and a preschooler and a job is a bit of work. But I’ve figured out my routines and Ben has figured out his and we’re managing quite well, I think. But, I can’t figure out when to fit in reading and exercise. It’s all audiobooks and weekend runs for the foreseeable future. I’m told it gets easier. I like to believe people when they tell me that.
Title: A Dangerous Place
Author: Jacqueline Winspear
Narrator: Orlagh Cassidy
Genre: Mystery; Historical Fiction
Audio: 9.7 hours
Publisher: Harper Audio
Source: Public Library
Book Rating: 4/5
Audio Rating: 5/5
Spring 1937. In the four years since she left England, Maisie Dobbs has experienced love, contentment, stability—and the deepest tragedy a woman can endure. Now, all she wants is the peace she believes she might find by returning to India. But her sojourn in the hills of Darjeeling is cut short when her stepmother summons her home to England; her aging father Frankie Dobbs is not getting any younger.
But on a ship bound for England, Maisie realizes she isn’t ready to return. Against the wishes of the captain who warns her, “You will be alone in a most dangerous place,” she disembarks in Gibraltar. Though she is on her own, Maisie is far from alone: the British garrison town is teeming with refugees fleeing a brutal civil war across the border in Spain.
Yet the danger is very real. Days after Maisie’s arrival, a photographer and member of Gibraltar’s Sephardic Jewish community, Sebastian Babayoff, is murdered, and Maisie becomes entangled in the case, drawing the attention of the British Secret Service. Under the suspicious eye of a British agent, Maisie is pulled deeper into political intrigue on “the Rock”—arguably Britain’s most important strategic territory—and renews an uneasy acquaintance in the process. At a crossroads between her past and her future, Maisie must choose a direction, knowing that England is, for her, an equally dangerous place, but in quite a different way.
This book starts much differently than any other Maisie Dobbs book. There is a big time jump and we are given a quick timeline in correspondence form. I felt a little cheated that I didn’t get to experience all of these things, but I understand why it was done this way.
I enjoyed the change in scenery. This story takes place in Gibraltar (and Spain). But I missed some of the familiar people and I am hoping that the next book takes us back to England and familiar characters.
One thing I love about Maisie Dobbs novels is how much I learn about that time and place. This book was no exception. I even found myself doing extra research on the side.
I almost wish I weren’t caught up on this series. I hate waiting for the next one.
Orlagh Cassidy is excellent as always. I wouldn’t think about reading Maisie Dobbs any other way.
We all know my TBR is where most books go to linger for a very long time. But if I WERE to read some books this fall, this is what I would be reading. (Sorry for the lack of book covers – time is escaping me more than ever).
1. A Window Opens | Elisabeth Egans
This is on my hold list at the library, so presumably I want to read it, although I can’t remember actually requesting it. It’s a book about a working mom’s attempt to have it all. Apparently.
2. Carry On | Rainbow Rowell
In Fangirl, the main character write Harry Potter-esque fan fiction. This is that fan fiction. Of course I’m reading it.
3. Armada | Ernest Cline
I had a three week old when this book was released, so I hope I can be forgiven for totally missing its release. I haven’t read any reviews but I’ll definitely be listening to the audio version narrated by Wil Wheaton.
4. Why Not Me? | Mindy Kaling
What Mindy Kaling writes, I read.
5. Winter | Marissa Meyer
The final installment in the Lunar Chronicles. Maybe I should get on the wait list now?
6. Need | Joelle Charbonneau
I’m hoping this one is as enjoyable as The Testing.
7. Who Do You Love | Jennifer Weiner
I don’t even know what this one is about, but I love Jennifer Weiner.
8. Geraldine Brooks | The Secret Chord
I am pretty sure that I will be singing Leonard Cohen the entire time I read this one, but that’s a risk I’ll take.
9. My Life on the Road | Gloria Steinem
I can’t imagine this is not a fascinating memoir.
10. Furiously Happy | Jenny Lawson
I mostly want to read this because of the crazy racoon on the cover. True story.
What books are you looking forward to reading this fall?
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Source: Public Library
Georgie McCool (yes, that is her name), a television comedy writer, is about to get her biggest career break yet, but her personal life is falling apart. Her husband, Neil, has taken their daughters to Omaha for Christmas, leaving Georgie home alone in Los Angeles to work. When she plugs in her old telephone at her mother’s house to call her husband, she finds Neil – in 1998 – on the other end.
So, I love Rainbow Rowell. But what I love about her is the way her books feel so real and this concept is so ridiculous and unrealistic that it just didn’t work for me. And, aside from the magic phone concept, how is it possible that Neil wouldn’t call his wife for an entire week DURING CHRISTMAS? And, why wouldn’t the plan be for her to fly in for Christmas day?
On top of all of that, the characters were not very likable. I didn’t really like Georgie. I wanted to shake her, tell her to stop whining, put on some of her own clothes, and DO SOMETHING. And Neil needed to stop being a martyr and DO SOMETHING. Basically, I just wanted someone to do something and it took a really long time for that to happen.
But I’m still giving this three stars because even subpar Rainbow Rowell is better than most anyone else. I will not hesitate to read more of her novels in the future.
And she NAILS parenting with these two quotes:
“Having kids sent a tornado through your marriage, then made you happy for the devastation. Even if you could rebuild everything just the way it was before, you’d never want to.”
“Kids took a fathomless amount of time and energy…And they took it first. They had right of first refusal on everything you had to offer.”
The way she captures parenting in Landline is truly fantastic.
It’s about time for me to check in here and give a quick update and promise to be back someday, right?
Well, no promises of being back are going to be found in this post. I am back to work in a few days and I think I’ll be lucky to find time to brush my teeth, let alone blog. But we’ll see.
So…yeah. Back to work. Can you believe it? I blinked and 12 weeks went by. Kai is an awesome little baby. He rarely cries, he smiles and coos whenever he is awake, and he sleeps from 10-7 with only one wakeup in between most nights. I’m not ready to leave him, but I’ve grown accustomed to food and shelter, so back to work I go (I actually like the work I do, I just wish I could do it AND be with Kai – have it all, right?).
I didn’t read as much during this maternity leave. There was a three-year-old to parent and netflix to watch, so the books took a backseat. Since I last talked about what I was reading in August, I finished Everything Leads to You and A Dangerous Place. I also finished The Woman Who Died a Lot and Landline. Maybe I’ll post my thoughts on them someday. I am currently reading Belzhar and pondering my next audio (maybe the new Judy Blume?).
PS – Excuse the large images. This is the smallest I can get them. If anyone would like to let me in on resizing images in WordPress. I’ve been lost since an update changed things awhile back.
The time has come. I am 10 weeks postpartum and I am officially trying to lose this baby weight.
I am up about 11 pounds from my pre-Kai weight (closer to 20 pounds from my pre-Evan weight but I assume those days are gone forever). I feel great and I think I look much better at this point than I did with Evan. But I still want to get rid of the excess pounds. After Evan, I assumed breastfeeding would take care of it, but when he weaned at 18 months, I was still at least 15 pounds heavier. So I counted calories and exercised and I lost most of it within a few months.
So what am I doing? The same thing that worked for me last time. I’m using MyFitnessPal (@themichelleerin) to count calories and Runkeeper (@michelleerin) and FitBit to track my exercise. Technological motivation works for me. I also have a friend who coincidentally started doing the same thing on the same day so we’ve been motivating each other (or, at least, she’s been motivating me).
Since I’m breastfeeding, I get to add an extra 500 calories to what MFP gives me, and I have it set to only lose a half-pound a week because I’m terrified of ruining my supply. Because of this, it’s not actually that painful. I can still eat a ton each day as long as I make smart-ish choices.
I’m also exercising regularly. I assume this won’t happen when I go back to work later this month, but for now I am trying to run a few times a week, do a little yoga once or twice a week, and walk most days.
I am hopeful that I can lose the weight in a healthy way without negatively affecting my milk supply. Feeding Kai is, of course, the priority, but moving again and eating better feels great after nearly a year of pregnancy/postpartum lethargy.
What have you been doing lately to get/stay healthy?
Getting some laptop time in has proved difficult this summer. I thought I would be able to catch up on some blogging but I’ve only managed to get further behind. So here is a catch-up Sunday Salon.
I’ve been reading a little on my maternity leave, but not nearly as much as I planned on reading. It’s not that I lack the time, really. I just lack the energy and focus. I spend most of my time sitting on the couch, watching Pretty Little Liars, and messing around on my phone. Seriously, someone needs to take my phone away if I am ever going to get back into reading.
I am currently reading Everything Leads to You for the book club I cannot attend and listening to the newest Maisie Dobbs. I finished I’ll Give You the Sun, A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty, Fairest, and started and stopped a few others, but that’s it. I’ve got quite a few audiobooks on deck, assuming that is the more likely format for me these days. But I’ll probably just continue to catch up on the latest mystery in Rosewood.
I started running a little. I haven’t really run regularly since last April (3 months off for my foot followed by the crazy heat and travel of summer followed by 9 months of pregnancy), so I am starting slowly. My last run was only 15 minutes long. But it feels good to be out there again. I’ve got at least 15 pounds to lose, but I won’t really try too hard to lose it for awhile for fear of messing with my supply.
Life is good. Ben is back at work, Evan starts school tomorrow, and, aside from visitors, Kai and I are on our own for a month before I go back to work and he starts daycare. I am very thankful for this maternity leave and even more thankful that it has been pretty low key and relaxing (so different from my leave with Evan). Plus I’ve been keeping up with what’s going on at work enough that I think returning won’t be too shocking. I just need to figure out how on Earth I’ll manage to get two kids and myself up and ready, get to two different daycare drop-offs, and get myself to work at a reasonable hour. This seems like an impossible feat from where I am sitting. But it might make for an interesting “day in the life of” post.
How have you all been? Reading anything interesting? Ready for the back to school hustle?
Last fall, I shared my debt free plans with you. I explained why I was getting out of debt and how I was doing it. We are now at the one-year mark and still going strong. I can now fully attest that this plan is working and it is helping us achieve our original goals.
We’ve paid off 20% of our non-mortgage debt. My 5-year calculations appear to be quite accurate (the addition of Kai addd a year to my original 4-year plan). In the past year, we threw around 1/3 of our income at debt. And this is while we still lived life and cash-flowed a new baby.
We paid off 3 store cards, 3 student loans, 2 credit cards, and my car. We have 2 credit cards left to pay off and we will be consumer debt free. Only student loans (and our mortgage) will remain.
We brought our monthly minimum payment obligations down by $800. EIGHT HUNDRED DOLLARS.
And, most importantly, we accumulated NO new debt.
Well, for starters, we can cash flow every day life. And it doesn’t make us cry. Last summer, we realized we were living life a little bit in the red each month. We wanted to have another baby but we knew we couldn’t afford daycare at the rate we were going (maybe because of that $800+ in minimum payments?). Fast-forward to today. We have that baby we wanted and when he starts daycare next month, we can write that (not insignificant) check without breaking a sweat. And we still have (a little) extra to throw at debt.
We budget. Every single dollar that comes our way gets assigned a task.
We use cash for things like groceries and eating out, so we know exactly what we are spending and we know how much is left to spend. When that money runs out, it’s out.
We get very limited “fun” money but we still enjoy life. When we spend it, it’s more likely to be on an experience than stuff.
We drive paid-for cars. We don’t have cable. We clean our own house. We don’t go to the gym. We travel less.
We use sinking funds. Man, this was a game changer. We throw about $800 each month into an account that will eventually pay for things like car repairs, home maitenance, haircuts, clothes, pest control, cleaning supplies. These are things that we don’t need to buy every month but that will eventually require money. There is a few thousand dollars just sitting there in that account waiting to be spent. Ben likes it because he feels less guilty spending the money when it’s already earmarked. I like it because it gives us a hard limit when considering a purchase and prevents us from overspending. When I see a $50 dress but I only have $40 left in my clothing fund, I know it’s time to move on (or save up).
Simply put, we live well below our means now.
We are hoping to pay off the last two cards by early 2016. At that point, we will beef up our savings and retirement contributions a bit before heading right back into the ring and tackling Ben’s student loans.
When we can afford it, we will add in some luxuries, like a gym membership, a housecleaner, and a real vacation. For now, we will keep living this simpler lifestyle. Our money has a more important job for the time being.