Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Reading List

Here it is, my 2009 reading list. I've put the books I'd recommend in bold, though some with reservations that I mention in my brief review. Jump to the end of the post if you just want to see my summary for the year!

  • 13 Things That Don't Make Sense by Michael Brooks (This book examines 13 areas where science doesn't yet have answers, such as life, death, placebos, dark matter, and homeopathy. The book starts slow, which is a shame as it becomes much more interesting. Some of it really made me think and challenged assumptions I had, or opened my eyes to things I never thought about. I recommend it with reservations as it is really a science book, spending a lot of time discussing different studies. I did find it a bit of a slog at times, but still worth reading.)
  • Peter and Max: A Fables Novel by Bill Willingham (I must admit I didn't have great hopes for this one. It's set in the universe of the Fables comics, and is about Peter Piper and the Pied Piper and Bo Peep. It turned out to be really engaging! The ending was a bit rushed in my opinion, but otherwise, it was great! I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoyed don't have to have read the Fables graphic novels. For the record, I thought Wicked was better than this, but Peter and Max was better than any of the other books by Maguire.)
  • Fables: Homelands (Fables, Volume 6) by Bill Willingham (I'm really enjoying this comic book series, though since having the boys I've only been reading it in graphic novel form, and I'm kind of behind. This volume opened with a so-so story about Jack going to Hollywood. However, the main part of the volume collected the story of Boy Blue fighting his way back to the homelands. Awesome story!)
  • The Hedge Knight (graphic novel) by George R. R. Martin (This is the graphic novel version of a short story I'd read many years ago in a Legends anthology. A Song of Ice and Fire is probably my favorite in-progress fantasy series, so it's no surprise I love this story set in the same world. I thought this worked very well as a graphic novel...thoroughly enjoyable! Now I just can't wait for the next novel in the series!)
  • Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson (I read this since I loved A Short History of Nearly Everything. This book was about Bryson traveling around England after living there for 20 years, right before moving back to America. I didn't find it that engaging. Some of the prose was wonderful, but in general, I found the book kind of whiny. But if you want to read endless descriptions of how bad architecture ruined England, knock yourself out)
  • Divine Misdemeanors by Laurell K. Hamilton (yet another book I'm embarrassed to admit I've read...)
  • Evolution by Stephen Baxter (Wow, this is a book I should have abandoned. BORING! DEPRESSING! Yikes. May just have snuck in under the wire for "worst book I've read in 2009".)
  • Vegetable Gardening for Dummies by Charlie Nardozzi (I haven't tried to use any of this advice yet, so I can't really comment on how useful it is. But the book was clearly written...just the right level for a vegetable gardening dummy like me! I recommend with the reservation that I haven't tried to use any of the information in this book yet.)
  • A Model World and Other Stories by Michael Chabon (This was just okay. I love Kavalier and Clay so much that I think I have too high expectations. These stories were kind of blah. Trying to hard to be "literature" if you ask me! Not totally a waste of time, just nothing I'd recommend or reread.)
  • Fool by Christopher Moore (Very funny story told from the POV of King Lear's jester. Definitely up there with my favorite books by Moore!)
  • The Killing of Worlds (Succession #2) by Scott Westerfeld (Great conclusion to the story. Things started to become a little unbelievable that Zai's warship just kept surviving, but I was willing to suspend disbelief. Great series!)
  • The Risen Empire (Succession #1) by Scott Westerfeld (I wish that I could have read Westerfeld when I was in middle school. I've enjoyed pretty much all his books, and this was no exception. This is the kind of Sci-fi I usually don't like: set in outer space, in the distant future, with war as a main storyline, but I still loved this. This very well may be my favorite series by Westerfeld!)
  • Have You Found Her: A Memoir by Janice Erlbaum (This book tells the story of when the author volunteered at the homeless shelter where she had previously lived. She meets a young woman and becomes very attached and tries to help her improve her situation. The writing was pretty good, but I found myself not really liking any of the characters. And the end didn't really wrap it all up...darn that "true story" getting in the way--a novel would never have left me hanging!)
  • Couplehood by Paul Reiser (I forgot to bring a book to my inlaws, so was glad when I saw this on their book shelf. I had read Parenthood a few years back, and found it to be an amusing diversion. Unfortunately, I didn't find Couplehood nearly as funny. Not terrible, but I wouldn't recommend it).
  • Baby 411 by Denise Fields and Ari Brown (The only baby book I'm rereading so far. I love this book for practical, general baby advice written in an engaging manner. My favorite of all the baby-advice books, of which I read approximately 1 zillion before B-man and N-man were born!)
  • Gentlemen of the Road: A Tale of Adventure by Michael Chabon (Hmmm, hitting a slump with some of my favorite authors. Chabon made an interesting choice here to cash in all his 50 cent words. It was interesting stylistically, but sometimes was overly stilted (plus way too many words I had to look up! And I consider my vocabulary fairly robust!). The actual plot was fairly engaging, he just lost me with the style choices. So I'm giving this one a mixed review.)
  • You Suck by Christopher Moore (Didn't love this one, but when I mentioned it to a friend, she pointed out that it's a sequel to a book I haven't read. Oops! And since my biggest complaint was that it seemed to pick up mid-story, without adequate character development, perhaps the main problem is with me not reading Bloodsucking Fiends first. They should really put some kind of note somewhere on the cover that tells you it's a sequel! Even after I knew, I scoured the whole book...front cover, back cover, inner flaps, title page, etc, and couldn't find any mention that it's a sequel!)
  • So Yesterday by Scott Westerfeld (I really enjoy his books for the most part, and this was no exception. For a change, this wasn't a dystopian story. It was set in the present, and dealt with consumerism and how things are deemed "cool". Really enjoyed this!)
  • Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (I've read this book a million times already and will probably read it a million more. I just love it! It was my "relax" book at the hospital when I was there having lil' Z-Man. One of my very favorite books ever!)
  • My Custom Van by Michael Ian Black (a collection of very short humor essays. Some were laugh-out-loud funny (i.e., "Hey David Sedaris--Why Don't You Just Go Ahead and Suck It", "When I Finally Get Around to Building My Robot, This is What It Will be Like", and the title story to name a few), but others fell flat. As a whole, the book was slightly uneven, but still worth a read.)
  • Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith (The idea is hilarious; I appreciate that. Some parts were really cleverly done. Overall, though, I thimk the story would have been improved if he stayed more true to the characters.)
  • Prince of Stories: The Many Worlds of Neil Gaiman by Hank Wagner, Christopher Golden, and Stephen R. Bissette (First, I think this book is primarly aimed at people who are far bigger Gaiman fans than me. I mean, I love his work, but don't have a ton of interest in minutia of his life/work. Having said that, there were some really interesting parts of this book, and some I just skimmed. While I'm not sure I would have read this if all my other books hadn't been packed, I'm glad I spotted it on the "new non-fiction" shelf at the library!)
  • Fluke, Or, I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings by Christopher Moore. (I LOVED this one! A great mix of sci-fi and environmentalism, with plenty of unexpected twists and turns. Awesome!)
  • Tomorrowland: 10 Stories About the Future, edited by Michael Cart (I have a soft spot for books about the future written 10+ years ago, and some of my favorite children's/YA authors are represented in this volume. I found a few stories great, especially The Last Dog by Katherine Paterson. Some stories were forgettable, and a few were "I wish I could forget them". So a somewhat uneven collection, but still worth reading in my opinion since it is YA and not a big time investment!)
  • Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner (I loved this book...not sure why it took me so many years to pick it up! Perfect blend of fun/interesting/thought-provoking in an easy-to-read bundle.)
  • Harry Potter, books 1-7 by J. K. Rowling (We've packed most of our books, and I'm not buying anything new until after we move, so I grabbed these to reread. They're still great! I read book 7 right before the boys were born, so I thought it was fitting to reread the series right before this new baby is due!)
  • Olive Ktteridge: A novel in stories by Elizabeth Strout (Outstanding! Truly loved this. Found the connect short story structure to work very well here.)
  • Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth by Margaret Atwood (This is a non-fiction book. Normally, I'm SOOO in love with her writing, and I must say I wasn't so struck with the prose here. But, it was still an interesting book, and I loved the last chapter that dealt with a lot of environmental issues of debt. Not what I expected, but interesting!)
  • Finger Lickin' Fifteen by Janet Evanovich (Not great literature, but I'm still really enjoying this series! I don't care that it's formulaic. I still find it fun!)
  • Snuff by Chuck Palahniuk (I enjoyed this more than some of his other more recent books, but the ending was pretty disgusting, and the rest of the book wasn't *that* great. Too much shock, not enough greatness to make it worthwhile.)
  • Skin Trade by Laurell K. Hamilton (Anita Blake #17. Not horrid, but I'm not sure why I can't just give this series up.)
  • The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut (a reread for me. Enjoyable book, though not my absolute favorite by him. Still a good book by Vonnegut is better than a great book by most other authors!)
  • The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (Amazing! Loved this novel! It was so incredibly structured, and the story unfolded so beautifully. I was the teeniest, tiniest bit disappointed in the end (felt it was a bit of a quickie neat wrap-up), but it's still one of the best books I've read this year!)
  • The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives by Leonard Mlodinow (Some parts of this were amazing, some were boring. Overall, though, it made me think and is there really any higher praise? Reviewed by me here on The Book Nook.)
  • The Shaktra (Alosha book 3) by Christopher Pike (The best of the series, and the most annoying as it didn't finish the story! It was published a few years ago, and the next book still hasn't come out. Annoying!)
  • The Yanti (Alosha book 2) by Christopher Pike (Better than the first book in the series. I started getting more into the story in this novel.)
  • Alosha by Christopher Pike (Alosha book 1) (Not bad. YA about a girl who discovers creatures from a hidden world. Characters were somewhat unlikable, but the story was good).
  • Outwitting History: The Amazing Adventures of a Man Who Rescued a Million Yiddish Books by Aaron Lansky (A non-fiction book about preserving Yiddish books. Not quite as "Amazing" as the title claims, but still interesting).
  • Coyote Blue by Christopher Moore (Very good. Not quite as wonderful as Lamb, but still entertaining.)
  • Moon Called (Mercedes Thompson book 1) by Patricia Briggs (A book about werewolves. Again, not the most shining example of prose, but a fun light quick read. I'll definitely look for the other books in the series. Recommended only for fans of the genre).
  • Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale by Holly Black (I've been woefully behind in reading YA fiction recently, so I spent some time in the YA section of the used book store and this is what I walked out with. I'm not going to claim it was incredible, but it was a quick read and enjoyable throughout. Not great, but good enough that I'd keep my eyes out for other books by this author!)
  • Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire (I loved Wicked. Let me just get that out of the way. But I've been disappointed by every other one of his books I've read. This was no exception...not terrible, but still disappointing. Not great, many slow sections, annoying unfinished ending. Eh.)
  • In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan (Well, it was no Omnivore's Dilemma, but interesting nonetheless. I'm glad I read it, but I think my expectations were too high.)
  • Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris (the 9th volume in the Southern Vampire series. Better than the last book, but still not quite as strong as the earlier books. I felt like this was a bit of a "clean up" book, getting rid of extraneous characters and plot points. We'll see where book 10 goes!)
  • What is the What by Dave Eggers (very interesting novel based on the true story of one of the Lost Boys of Sudan. Touching and truthful.)
  • A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson (Loved, loved, loved! Reviewed on The Book Nook by me here)
  • Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore (Loved it! Funny, well-written, engaging, amusing! Here's my review on The Book Nook.)
  • Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon (Hmm, I'm admittedly in love with Chabon, but I must say that this was my least favorite of his books. Still readable, but not WOW like some of his others.)
  • Other People's Weddings by Noah Hawley (Wow, terrible editing in this many typos! That aside, it was an okay book. I don't feel it really captured the voice of a woman, but what do I know? It was a quick enough read. Not terrible.)
  • Gig: Americans Talk About Their Jobs edited by John Bowe, Marisa Bowe, and Sabin Streeter (Very interesting. Some of the interviews were depressing, some were uplifting. The only thing I would have liked was some kind of summing up or conclusion to the book. I wrote a review on the Book Nook.)
  • The Host by Stephanie Meyer (I've publicly criticized the Twilight series quite frequently, so let me give credit where credit is due: The Host is surprisingly readable and enjoyable. It isn't my favorite book ever, but I really enjoyed it!)
  • The Fourth Bear by Jasper Fforde (I don't know why, but I find this series kind of annoying. While I loved his Thursday Next series, this one is lackluster).
  • Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six MIT Students Who Took Vegas for Millions by Ben Mezrich (Okay, so it's probably more "based on a true story" than actual non-fiction. And it had some of the most ridiculously and unintentionally hilariously bad metaphors. But still a very interesting read, despite (and sometimes because of) those weaknesses.)
  • Saving Fish from Drowning by Amy Tan (Not her best, but certainly not bad. Slightly slow read, though, but I'm glad I read it.)
  • Talk Talk by T. C. Boyle (kind of dull for a thriller, but not terrible. He uses language wonderfully, which is all that saves this book for me. The book just wasn't great, though. The most lovingly crafted, engaging character was the "villian", while the "good guys" were pretty annoying. Maybe that was the intent, but I just didn't love it.)
  • The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (I started this book a few times and couldn't get into it because I was so turned off by the narrator, Amir. However, after about 80 pages, I was hooked and so enjoyed the rest of the novel! Very glad I finally got through the beginning!)
  • An Ice Cold Grave (Harper Connelly Mystery, Book 3) by Charlaine Harris. (I wasn't crazy about the turn this book took with Harper's love life. But it wasn't terrible. However, as with some other series, I'm already feeling the "why does everything go wrong with her life" feeling. I'll check out the next book, but might drop this series eventually.)
  • Grave Surprise (Harper Connelly Mystery, Book 2) by Charlaine Harris. (I am enjoying this series so far, about a woman who was struck by lightening and can now sense dead bodies. However, I'm just not finding Harper as engaging as Sookie. I'm not sure if it's fair to compare an author's series, but what can I do?)
  • Grave Sight (Harper Connelly Mystery, Book 1) by Charlaine Harris. (I've loved Harris's other series, Southern Vampires, so I picked these up. This was pretty good, though not quite as great as the other series.)
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (I didn't dislike this book, but I did find it slow. I didn't feel very captured by any of the characters or the story, so it was never pressing for me to pick it up. I'm glad I read it, though, but honestly didn't love it.)
  • The Alienist by Caleb Carr (A murder mystery set in the late 1800's. Very interesting and entertaining. I'd definitely recommend!)
  • The Bitch in the House: 26 Women Tell the Truth About Sex, Solitude, Work, Motherhood, and Marriage, ed. by Cathi Hanauer (There were a few really interesting essays, and a number of okay ones, and too many far too annoying/whiny/obnoxious ones. I'd pass on this book.)
  • Personal Demon (Women of Otherworld, Book 8) by Kelley Armstrong (Another enjoyable installment in the series. This one focused on an undercover half-demon. There were some good twists and it was fun through and through).
  • Sister of the Dead (Noble Dead Book 3) by Barb Hendee and J. C. Hendee (Okay. Enjoyable, but just somehow not totally grabbing me)
  • Thief of Lives (Noble Dead Book 2) by Barb Hendee and J. C. Hendee (Pretty good series so far, though I'm not exactly compelled to read it. I'll continue to keep an eye out at used bookstores, though).
  • Twinkie, Deconstructed: My Journey to Discover How the Ingredients Found in Processed Foods are Grown, Mined (Yes, Mined), and Manipulated Into What America Eats by Steve Ettlinger (Not terrible, but kind of a slog to get through.)
  • Invasive Procedures by Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston (What a disappointment! Just a standard sci-fi-ish medical thriller. The writing was lackluster, the plot far less intriguing than the original short story. Eh).
  • No Humans Involved by Kelley Armstrong (Women of Otherworld book 7. This is one of my favorites to date. I really enjoyed Jaime as the narrator. She's a fake TV spiritualist and real necromancer. Kind of dippy and fun.)
  • Anathem by Neal Stephenson (This book ping-ponged between totally awesome and snooze-inducing boring. Way, way, WAY too long. Far too much philosophy and talking for my taste. If you're going to read something by Stephenson, try Cryptonomicon, one of the greatest books ever, or even Snow Crash for more silly fun sci-fi. This was just eh. I reviewed it on the Book Nook.)
  • Can You Keep A Secret? by Sophie Kinsella (Okay. I reviewed on the Book Nook site. Two-dimensional characters, a disappointing lack of plot beyond "Emma gets a guy", very little redeeming about this book. And yet surprisingly readable. In my opinion, this is a true guilty pleasure book. Read it fast and don't think too much about it and you'll like it just fine! I'd recommend skipping it, though.)
  • Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally by Alisa Smith and J.B. Mackinnon (I found it an odd combination of interesting and off-putting. Loved the eat local stuff: some of the challenges, the successes, the stories, the failures. But there were odd sections where they interspersed things about their own failing relationship. It ranged from boring to disturbing to unlikable. So in the end, I'm lukewarm about this one.)
  • The Book of Lies by Brad Meltzer (A thriller. It held my attention and had an interesting premise (a search for the "book" of lies, related to the Mark of Cain). The end, as with the end of most thriller, was vaguely disappointing, and some of the characters felt forced or poorly developed, but overall, it was very readable.)
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Wolves at the Gate (Season 8, Volume 3. I'm totally loving this. Love, love, love. I have to pull out my Buffy DVDs. This did have one major plot twist that took me by surprise, and I'm not sure yet what I think, but I still LOVED it! Boy, I'm geeking out hard this year with the books I'm reading!)
  • The Tent by Margaret Atwood (She is simply the most beautiful writer, and this collection of short stories is a perfect example of why. Each story is a little gem, only a page or two long, but so full. Stunning!)
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: No Future for You (Season 8, Volume 2. Again, quite enjoyable, though I wish it was on TV rather than a graphic novel!)
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Long Way Home (Season 8, Volume 1. I'm a huge Buffy fan, and I love graphic novels. I don't know what took me so long to read this! It was good, though it made me sad there was no Season 8 on TV.)
  • Shakespeare's Kitchen by Lore Segal (I'm of two minds about this book. Some was wonderful, most...wasn't. 1st: it's a series of interconnected short stories. But it reads more like a lazy author who couldn't connect a full novel. In the intro, she explains that it's more like real life, but no. It's not. It's a cop out, and the explanation sounds like an apology. It's an interesting premise, about how Ilka, the main character, builds a new life in a new town. As someone who has relocated, it is an interesting experience. But I just didn't love this one.)
  • Broken by Kelley Armstrong (Book 6 in the Women of Otherworld series. This went back to the narrator from books 1 and 2, Elena, the only female werewolf. In this book, she's pregnant and in danger from Jack the Ripper, who arrived via a time portal. Kind of a stretch, and my least favorite so far of the series. But still readable.)
  • Haunted by Kelley Armstrong (Book 5 in the Women of Otherworld series. Okay, I was very thrown by the narrator, Eve, who is a witch who has been dead for the entire series. This is about her afterlife! But once I accepted the premise and went with it, I really enjoyed it.)
  • Industrial Magic by Kelley Armstrong (Book 4 in the Women of Otherworld series. Very good. This book was narrated by the witch Paige, same as book 3. This is probably my favorite in the series so far.)
  • Dime Store Magic by Kelley Armstrong (Book 3 in the Women of Otherworld series. I'm really enjoying this series. I was a bit hesitant about this one...she changes the 1st person narrator to another minor character from the second book. But I got used to it, and enjoyed the story!)
  • World War Z by Max Brooks (Okay. I have this thing about novels with's a NOVEL. You've written it BADLY if it needs footnotes! But it kind of made sense in the structure of this book (told as vignettes of many different people's experiences). All in all, it was okay. Not my favorite post-apocalyptic book. Heck, not even my favorite zombie apocalypse book. But okay.)
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, illustrations by Dave McKean (Great! Really enjoyable YA book!)

In summary, total books read this year: 89
Total number of books I enjoyed and would recommend: 48. A little more than half. Not too shabby.

Favorite books of the year: The Tent by Margaret Atwood, Lamb by Christopher Moore, A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson, and Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner.

Least favorite, avoid at all costs, books I read this year: Invasive Procedures by Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston (and if you know just how huge an Orson Scott Card fan I am, you'll know how much it pains me to say this!) and Evolution by Stephen Baxter.

Most exciting authors I've just started reading this year: Christopher Moore and Kelley Armstrong (okay, fine, I read the first two novels in her series last December, but I'm still counting it as 2009 since that's when I read the bulk of her work). How did I miss them before?

Like last year, I was struck once again by just how much non-fiction I read. Two of my four favorite books this year were non-fiction, and there were many others I really enjoyed. I think I may have to start listing non-fiction, especially science or math based, as one of my favorite genres!

So, what were your favorite or least favorite books of 2009? Post a link to your own "year in review" if you keep a book list!

And of course, my eternal request: any books to recommend to me? Happy 2009, happy 2010!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Have yourself a very geeky Christmas

N-man was looking at the ornaments on our tree and said, "Mommy! This is DARK Vader!"

I told him, "Yep, but it's DARTH Vader. He's a bad guy."

N-man's answer, "I know that Mommy. I've known that since before I was born."

Proof that geekiness is part nature, part nurture.


So, N-man calls Darth Vader "Dark Vader", which makes me giggle. But even funnier is that B-man call Yoda "Yoga". I can't wait until they're old enough to watch Star Wars!


Green tip for the day: Add one more vegetarian meal to your week. Veggies are generally better for the environment than meat: use fewer resources to produce, create less waste, etc. This is especially true if you choose local and/or organic vegetables. Alternately, if you have a really committed carnivore in the house, start moving toward meals where meat is used sparingly. For example, I make bean and chicken quesadillas that only use 1 chicken breast for the whole family. Or a homemade pasta sauce that uses about 1/4 lb of ground meat. Or pumpkin waffles with one slice of bacon each on the side.

As an added plus, this is another green tip that should save you some money!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Cookies! Cookies! Cookies!

I made a cookie tray for TK's work holiday party. I tried a lot of new recipes this was awesome to use my new stand mixer. I'm in love :)

If anyone is interested, I posted the recipes over on See MoMmy Cook. The brown sugar-brown butter shorties especially stand out as a new favorite for me! For anyone who likes to cook, See MoMmy Cook is a recipe blog put together by a couple of parents of twins from my local twins club to share our go-to recipes. I've been getting a lot of new meal ideas there!

So what cookies have you made this year?


Green tip for the day: Turn off the heat dry setting on the dishwasher. It only takes me an extra minute or two to run a dish towel along the tops of the glasses before I unload the dishwasher.

Monday, December 7, 2009

A grand year

So, today it's my birthday. I'm one of those people who are pretty neutral about birthdays--I certainly don't dread them, and I've never understood people who get depressed that it's their birthday. But I don't need a huge celebration, either. It is a good time to reflect, though, and my 34th year was a pretty good one:
* A few weeks after my birthday last year, I found out I was pregnant
*Lil' baby Z-man was born this summer
*We moved into our forever-home (or at least our "we have no plans to move out of home")

Add in the incredible N-man and B-man, and the amazing TK, and 34 treated me pretty well!

This year also marked an interesting milestone for TK and me. We started dating when I was 17 years old, so I've now officially been with him for more than half my life. That's kind of crazy! I'm so lucky to have met my perfect match.

TK and the boys got me a stand mixer for my birthday. Yippee! I've wanted one for years and I'm really excited. So if any of you have any nut-free cookie recipes you'd like to share, bring them on! Or any other recipes I can use my stand mixer for. I'm just in a holiday cookie making mood :)


Green tip for the day: Use a travel container for your soap in the shower. Make sure you dump all the water out before you put the top back on and the soap will dry out between showers. Your soap will last MUCH longer this way, and therefore you won't need to buy as much soap.

In general, I'm a fan of bar soap over liquid soap since liquid soap comes in plastic bottles. But it's getting easier and easier to find natural, plant-based soap, both bars and liquids. I'm a big fan of the Method liquid soap, which is much easier for potty-training-kids to use to wash their hands well than a bar soap would be. I like Method since it's affordable, easy to find in regular grocery stores, and the refills are also relatively easy to find as well (I get them at Bed Bath and Beyond). Anyone have a favorite eco-friendly bar soap to recommend? I'm still searching...

Friday, December 4, 2009

What they're thankful for

We just got from preschool a cute project the kids did before Thanksgiving. They made handprint turkeys, and the teacher asked each of them what they're thankful for. Here's what my kiddos said:

B-man: Mommy lets me make lunch and breakfast and dinner, too!

Isn't that sweet? It sounds like I have him working as a short-order cook! Really, I think it is sweet. Frequent readers of my blog know I spend a lot of time cooking with the kids (mwah ha ha!!), so it's heartening to see that B-man is growing to love cooking just like me!

N-man: Winter! Make snowman! I can put a nose in it! Throw snowballs and sometiems I get it in my face, in my eye so I can't see!

Yes, the teacher really did transcribe it with all those exclamation points. I'm sure that's exactly how N-man said it. He loves winter, again, just like mommy. Though he really does get pissed if any snow gets in his face. Yikes! Sledding is right out with him.

On a related note, at the beginning of the school year, the teachers helped the kids make a class book about families. One of the questions was "Why do you love your family?" Here are their answers:

B-man: cuddling and TV

Hmmm, really? TV? Ah well...

N-man: because mommy is soft and daddy has lots of hair.


These kids crack me up!


Okay, another green tip. Here are some green tips about laundry, starting slow and working your way up. As always, take what works for you, make your own small steps...

1) Watch out for the packaging of the detergent. Ditch the plastic bottles, or at the very least buy the largest size you can instead of lots of little plastic bottles.

2) Choose eco-friendly, plant based detergent. Currently, I'm using the Trader Joe's powdered laundry detergent. It comes in a big box, that even with 3 kids (and diaper laundry!) seems to last forever. The smell isn't weird like some of the perfume/dye free detergents tend to have, and it adequately cleans clothes. I'm not 100% in love with it, though, and may shop around a bit more once this box runs out. Besides being environmentally-friendly, the TJ's detergent is actually LESS expensive than what I was paying for All before I made the switch. Now that's a win!

3) Set your washer to use cold water. Sure, sometimes the boys' clothes don't get perfectly stain-free, but who cares? Those become play shirts, and really, pretty much all they do is play so those clothes are just fine to jump in leaf piles and paint and run around. For the most part, our laundry comes out stain-free even using cold water. My only exception is the sanitize cycle I use for way am I washing those in cold water :)

4) Ditch the dryer sheets. Oh yeah, I'm going there even though it's coming into static-season. Besides being bad for the environment, there are some compelling claims that they're bad for your health. I know they're an asthma-trigger for me! If you must, get eco-friendly dryer sheets, or google around for other static reducing techniques. My best advice: wear a lot of cotton (doesn't get as staticky in my experience), and don't over-dry clothes.

5) Consider upgrading to a high efficiency front loader washer. It uses far less water than a top loader. If you're paying for water, it will eventually pay for itself in water savings. It also spins more of the water out of the clothes, so you're using less energy to dry them. You only need to use half as much detergent as a top loader, so that's another savings. A front loader dryer is less important, though I love the sensor-dry feature on ours that turns off the dryer as soon as it senses the clothes are dry. Sometimes it takes only 30 minutes to dry a load! But if I had to pick just one, I'd definitely go with the washer.

6) Don't use a dryer at all--hang clothes to dry. I haven't been able to commit to's really a lot more work. We don't have a good spot indoors to dry clothes, our basement is very damp, and it's too cold out now to do it outside. But I'm just throwing it out there. It sure would be more eco-friendly. Maybe I'll give it a go this coming summer. If anyone has successfully ditched the dryer, let me know how you find it!

So what other laundry tips do you have to share?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

He's got my sense of humor

Here's the joke B-man told me today:

B-man: Knock knock
Me: Who's there?
B-man: Knock knock
Me: Who's there?
B-man: NO! You say, knock knock who.
Me: Oh. Knock Knock who?
B-man: Knock Knock
Me: Knock knock who?
B-man: NO NO NO! That's the joke! I just say knock knock.

Then he laughed for ten minutes.

Yep, definitely my sense of humor.


Green tip: ditch the veggie bags. I find I don't really need them as I buy veggies on a need-to-use basis for the most part so I'm not really buying huge quantities of the same thing. Do I really need a bag for 2 lemons or a rubber banded bunch of asparagus? And for those times when I do need a bag (loose berries, anyone??), I throw it in my purse when I'm done with it to reuse next time I need a vegetable bag at the grocery store.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

How I finally broke the coffee habit

So, over the past few years I've developed this bad habit: going out for coffee. It seems so innocuous at first, a good cheap pick-me-up treat. But here's why it was bothering me:
1) It's expensive. Sure, it's just a few bucks here and there, but it adds up, especially if I'd go three or four times a week.

2) It's not healthy seeing as I'd get sugary drinks or add a thousand sugars to regular coffee. Too many empty calories wasn't doing anything to help me drop the baby weight.

3) It's bad for the environment. Idling in drive-thrus, forgetting reusable cups, using straws and coffee stirrers and individual packets of sugar.

I knew all this, but I was still having trouble breaking the habit of going out for coffee. So I linked it to something else I wanted to do: switch to organic milk. As anyone who reads my blog knows, I'm a big fan of organic and locally grown food. However, I'm a bigger fan of not living beyond our means. In other cases, I've been able to make choices. For example, humanely raised meat is far more expensive than regular meat, so I control costs by eating a lot less meat. I buy in-season fruits and veggies, which tend to be less expensive than out-of-season. But we drink a lot of milk. Switching to organic milk adds about $40-$50 a month to our grocery bill. I love milk, the kids love milk, and I use a lot of milk for cooking and baking. Cutting back on our milk consumption wasn't really a valid option for us.

So I linked the two in my head (and budget!). Cutting out all the coffee stops easily freed up an extra $50 a month. I've been doing it for almost two months now, so I think it'll stick. I feel good...we switched to organic milk, I broke the out-for-coffee habit, and I kept our budget in line! Win-win-win!

And I should admit, it's not that I'll NEVER get coffee out again. I mean, I still pop out occasionally with a friend, or grab a coffee with TK on a weekend while we're out and about. But now it's a special treat, something I do once every couple weeks rather than nearly every day.


I'm thinking of including related or unrelated "green tips" at the end of my posts from time to time. Who knows if I'll keep it up or not, but it's just something that I've been thinking of. As I've mentioned numerous times before, I'm a fan of small steps. I make little changes, because it's relatively easy and eventually, enough little changes add up to big changes. Anyway, feel free to use 'em or not...I'm pretty non-judgmental about it all. What works for me and my family might not work for y'all. I'm just getting them out there! And please, share the green tips that have worked for your family, too!

Okay, here's my first tip: when we make coffee at home, there's usually some left in the pot. Instead of just dumping it down the drain, we've started freezing it into ice cubes. Then I can use them to make DELICIOUS homemade frappuccinos! Just add some coffee ice cubes, milk (or half and half if you're feeling wild), and a few teaspoons of sugar to a blender, and blend until the ice is well-crushed. To make it extra special, drizzle some chocolate syrup down the sides of a clear glass, then pour in the frappuccino. Looks pretty, tastes yummy! You could also use the cubes to cool down hot coffee without watering it down. I bet it would also make an interesting Baileys or Kahlua on the coffee-rocks :) I can't verify that until I've weaned Z-man, but you better believe I'm going to be trying it next fall!

See, pretty painless, right? Just finding a use for a common leftover in our house and getting into the habit of being aware of food waste. Plus, making these coffee frappuccinos once every week or two keeps me from missing my coffees out too much!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Of dragons and dreams

The big boys and I were sitting around, playing with a "magic wand", pretending to turn each other into things. N-man said, "I don't need a magic wand. I don't want to be anything but what I am. And I'm a dragon."

He said it with such confidence and matter-of-factness. He's totally happy to be himself, which today happens to be a dragon.


This reminds me of the very first time I got on the internet (I mean the kind of internet kids today would find recognizable). It was 1995 or early 1996. That school year TK and I lived a thousand miles away from each other while he was in his first year of grad school and I was finishing up my senior year of college.

Let's be clear...I'd used the internet before that. Email was already a favored form of communication, and TK and I kept our phone bills down by chatting online. I'd browsed around text-based discussion groups, joining conversations on a whole slew of insane (and inane) topics. My roommate in college was actually one of the very early trolls, posting inflammatory comments and reveling in the attention it brought. And yes, in real life she was just like you'd expect from someone who trolls, though that's a story for a different day.

I'm talking about my first time browsing websites. It was a much different web back then. Many websites were cobbled together by techies and geeks with various degrees of proficiency. The results were often intentionally, or better yet unintentionally, hilarious. I went down to visit TK, and while he had class, I played around on his computer, taking advantage of the ethernet connection in his dorm room. In a very first glimpse of the time-suck the internet would become, I killed an hour and a half surfing the web.

One website I came across has stuck with me all this time. It was a loving tribute to dragons, put up by some guy who really, really liked dragons. The highlight of the page was a fairly long essay this person wrote about how awesome dragons are. The conclusion really sold it, though. I still remember it: "Do I want to be a dragon? Stupid question. Of course I do."

I love it. The way it completely misses the reason why it's a stupid question. Though to be honest, I suspect that if I ever met this guy, we'd get on great. And more and more often, I'm beginning to suspect this is how N-man is going to be. No, I don't mean a colossal dragon-loving nerd, but someone whose brain works a little off-kilter of everyone else's, but he remains blissfully unaware of it.

It's so amazing to watch the kids grow and develop their different personalities. B-man is also growing into an amazing little person, though in a completely different way. That'll have to be a topic for a different day if I ever hope to get this posted.

For now, though, I'm done feeding the baby and off to play with the big kids. For today, am I a dragon? Stupid question. Of course I am.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The parenting book of superlatives

Forget an instruction manual, new parents should be given a book of superlatives to study up for when they have preschoolers!

Here's how my day goes:
Kiddo 1 or 2: "Mommy, what is the biggest animal?"
Me: "The Blue Whale".
Kiddo 1 or 2: "Mommy, what's the biggest animal that isn't in the ocean?"
Me: "An elephant"
Kiddo 1 or 2: "What about dinosaurs?"
Me: "Well, dinosaurs are extinct. There are none that live on Earth anymore. But the biggest dinosaur was the Argentinosaurus."
Kiddo 1 or 2: "Was it bigger than a blue whale?"
Me: "Nope! The blue whale is the biggest ever!"
Kiddo 1 or 2: "What's the biggest fish in the ocean?"
Me: "The Whale Shark"
Kiddo 1 or 2: "It eats tiny food!"
Me: "Yep!" [Don't think we haven't read a number of books about whale sharks!]
Kiddo 1 or 2: "What's the biggest bird?"
Me: "An Ostrich"
Kiddo 1 or 2: "No, no, I mean a bird that can *fly*!"
Me: "Google to the rescue!" [Appears to be some type of albatross, if we're not including extinct birds]

Seriously, I'm going to know the "biggest" of everything! And I'm sure soon they'll be asking "smallest", too. I think I need to bust out a nature section of a Guinness Book of World Records...

Monday, November 9, 2009

Unintentional Best New Insult

Today N-man waved his magic wand and said to TK, "I turned you into a pink monkey ball".

Now, N-man was definitely thinking of a bouncy ball, but I don't care. This is my newest're a pink monkey ball! It works as an expletive, too: Pink Monkey Balls!

I'm ridiculously easily amused.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Dratted Time Change!

N-man came into our bedroom at 5:30 this morning. He happily exclaimed, "It's MORNING!" I, who had just gotten into bed 15 minutes earlier after being up with Z-man for well over an hour replied grumpily, "No it's not. Go back to bed."

N-man went over to TK and said just as happily, "Daddy, It's MORNING. Mommy says it isn't but she's wrong. I see the sun."

Daylight savings time, I say, shaking my fist in the air.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Consumerism finally strikes

I don't know how we did it, but N-man and B-man have never been big into the "I want it"'s. Besides the occasional whine of "MOOOOOOOOM!!!! I want a LOLLIPOP!" they rarely get the gimmies.

If I knew how we did it, I'm sure I could patent it. But I'm pretty sure we just got lucky with two kids who just don't have a big yen for material possessions.

Until now.

We got one of those catalogs filled with crazy junk. As an aside, one of the worst things about moving is getting back on the mailing lists for every catalog in existence. And this catalog was extra annoying because you can only call during the day to cancel it. So, I left it open sitting on the kitchen table to call the next day during business hours.

On the facing page was apparently the most enticing product ever. Here is the conversation that ensued when B-man saw it:

B-man: Mom! Look! There's a piggy bank shaped like pants!

Me: Oh yeah.

B-man: With a BUM hanging out!

Me: Oh yeah.

B-man: That is SO funny. You put money in the BUM!

[By now N-man has come over, too, and I realize that I'm not getting out of this conversation about a crazy plastic piggy bank that looks like someone's butt]

Me: Isn't that silly? And do you know what it does when you put the money in?

B-man and N-man: What?

Me: It TOOTS! Look, it say here "Drop some loot and hear me toot"

B-man and N-man: [dissolve into gales of laughter, punctuated by occasional exclamations of "It TOOTS!"]

B-man, with much seriousness: Mom, we *HAVE* to get this.


For the record, I'm not getting them a farting piggy bank. I'm pretty sure we already got all the possible amusement out of this. But how funny is it that one of the first times B-man asks for a toy, this is what he chooses? I suspect there will be many fart jokes in our future!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

An interview with N-man and B-man

I grabbed this from a friend on Facebook. It would have been fun if I'd asked the kids the questions separately, but we were all hanging out while I was feeding Z-man, so I asked them together. Here are their answers to a variety of questions about me!

1. What is something Mommy always says to you?
I love you (N-man) I can't think of anything (B-man)

2. What makes mommy happy?
Clean up (B-man) Not clean up! (N-man, with lots of giggles)

3. What makes mommy sad?
Not cleaning up (said in tandem!)

4. How does mommy make you laugh?
Saying silly words (B-man) Eating your thumb (??? N-man)

5. What was mommy like as a child?
I do NOT know! (B-man) My yellow blanket (N-man...he's talking about a blanket that was mine when I was little that is now his)

6. How old is mommy?
I do NOT know! (B-man) Me, either. You have to tell us (N-man) We still have to learn that (B-man). I'm 34 (Me) Wow, that's a lot (B-man). That's bigger than a giant (N-man)

7. How tall is mommy?
I do NOT know. We still have to learn that, Mommy! (B-man) 100 (N-man)

8. What is mommy's favorite thing to do?
Ooo! Play with us! (B-man) Getting hugs (N-man)

9. What does mommy do when you're not around?
Work and go to places (N-man) You are with Z-man (B-man)

10. If mommy becomes famous, what would it be for?
I don't know. (B-man) Kisses (N-man)

11. What is mommy really good at?
Playing Bejeweled Blitz (B-man) Feeding Baby Z-man (N-man)

12. What is mommy not very good at?
Reading books (N-man, with a laugh) You are good at that, mom! (B-man) Setting a movie up (N-man) Picking flowers (, who knew he had such a long list of things I can't do!) Raking the leaves (B-man) Daddy's MUCH better at raking the leaves! He doesn't have to stop to feed Z-man. (B-man)

13. What does mommy do for a job?
Go to a book club (B-man). Go to the library (N-man) (Wow...I'd love to get paid for either of those :)

14. What is mommy's favorite food?
A lot of stuff (B-man) Everything! (N-man) Not everything! Mommy doesn't like mustard! (B-man)

15. What makes you proud of mommy?
Because you make food, the stuff we like and that's good for us (B-man) When you do the stuff I want (N-man)

16. If mommy was a cartoon character, who would she be?
What's a cartoon character? (B-man) (I explained) I would not know. Would you? (B-man)

17. What do you and mommy do together?
Play games (B-man) Play (N-man)

18. How are you and your mommy the same?
You cook and I cook (N-man). I think N-man's talking about PLAY food! (B-man) Because we both like cuddling! (B-man)

19. How are you and your mommy different?
You cook and I DON'T cook (N-man). cook and I do not. (B-man)

20. How do you know your mommy loves you?
Because you say "I love you" (B-man). Because you do good stuff (N-man)

21. What does mommy like most about daddy?
I do NOT know. Why? (B-man) Me either (N-man)

22. Where is your mommy's favorite place to go?
Uhhhhhh....where ever her legs can go (B-man) Everywhere! (N-man)

Friday, October 16, 2009


Big kids at school.
Little guy asleep.
A nice cup of coffee,
and a cookie.

And a big pile of bills to pay.

So close to perfection...
and yet so far away.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Telling me the hard truths

I was running around with B-man and N-man outside the other day, and they kept hiding behind trees and bushes. So I jokingly hid behind a lamp post and said, "You can't see me!"

B-man answered, "Mommy, you have to hide behind something MUCH bigger and wider!"


Thursday, October 8, 2009

It must be morning!

Okay, sleep experts. I appreciate your years of schooling and experience. However, you can't just randomly define "sleeping through the night" as 6 continuous hours of sleep*. I am happy Z-man is sleeping from 8:30 to 2:30 most nights. However, I don't think any rational person would call that "sleeping through the night". It's not morning now. It's nighttime still. I'm not sleeping through the night. I'm up in the middle of the night.

Which is fine. I mean, Z-man is only 6 weeks old. This is a-okay with me. Just don't patronize me and try to convince me that I'm now officially sleeping through the night.

*Note for non-parents or non-obsessive readers of sleep related books: I think I should clarify this. Every time you read something by one of these supposed infant sleep experts, you'll see all over the place something along the lines of "sleeping through the night is defined as 6 continuous hours of sleep". Which, I must admit, makes me sorely doubt the sanity of said authors, let alone the validity of their advice. Did you really think you could pass this off? Did you really think sleep deprived parents would somehow be convinced they were magically sleeping through the night just because you said so? I mean, I can make definitive statements, too. That doesn't make them true. Here, let me try:

A "good blog entry" is defined as this one.

Did I fool anyone into thinking this wasn't rambling and obviously the byproduct of someone who is not particularly well-rested since she is NOT, no matter what anyone says, sleeping through the night?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Matter of Perspective

N-man was moving very slowly, so I jokingly said to him, "You're being a gigantic slowpoke!"

He answered, "only when I'm close to you. When I'm far away, I'm a tiny slowpoke. But really, I'm always my own size."

For the record, we were talking about perspective when drawing recently. He just chose to expand it to slowpoke-ness.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Zero-Waste lunches

Have you checked out the Reduce Footprints blog? Every Wednesday is "Change the World Wednesday". Though I don't often participate, I love the idea of it as I'm big into making small changes. It's too much to try to be "perfect" or to change everything about the way I live. It's too overwhelming to expect that, and then it's too easy to give up entirely. So I've been trying to make small changes to the way we live our lives, in the hopes that over time, it will add up to big changes.

Anyway, enough about why I love the idea of "Change the World Wednesday". Let's get on to this week's challenge:

This week we're all about kids ... after all, they will take the "green torch" and become environmental "Olympians". So this week, your challenge is to do an environmentally friendly activity with your kids (or grand kids or neighbor kids or nieces/nephews, cousins, etc). Get them involved. Need some ideas? Here you go:

Awesome Activities


Kids Links (Teaching Green)

Gardening for Kids

Once you've done the activity, we want to know about it ... so come back here and leave a comment (either with the activity or a link to a post) ... or if they did something fun during the summer like an Eco-Camp, tell us about that. We'd also be interested in little Eco-Stars ... kids who have taken it upon themselves to come up with green living ideas.

Or ...

If you don't have any accessible kids to have "green" fun with, then write an article about ways that we can get kids involved in an Eco-friendly lifestyle.


So that's the challenge for the week, and it dovetailed perfectly to something I was already working on with N-man and B-man: zero-waste lunches. Friday was their very first day that they were eating lunch at school. Working in schools in the past, it was kind of appalling to see the vast amount of garbage generated at lunch time. And I'm not talking about the food thrown out (that's a separate topic, though I did briefly sub at a school that had the kids compost all their compost-able food so it is possible!). I'm talking about the juice boxes, single-serve packets, water bottles, ziplock baggies, paper bags, aluminum foil, disposable silverware and napkins, etc, etc, etc. Kids' lunches just seem to generate huge amounts of trash, and most of it can't be recycled, or just plain doesn't get to a recycling bin.

That's where a zero-waste lunch comes in. The idea is to pack the lunch in reusable containers, with reusable silverware and napkins. If all goes well, the child shouldn't have anything to throw away after lunch (besides those pesky sandwich crusts!).

The boys and I brainstormed some ideas of things that would be good to include in the lunch, and things that wouldn't be good. That was a bigger hit for the boys...they were very good at listing things that come in single-serve packaging (i.e., nutrigrain bars, yogurt tubes, etc...things I get for treats but have been trying to wean myself off even in our own house!)

You can get official bento boxes, but I just used a regular lunch box with tupperware I had around the house. And the Rubbermaid Litterless Juice Boxes that some readers recommended last year are still going strong (love these!).

Here's what the boys had for their first school lunch:

Apple cider for a drink

Cream cheese and jelly sandwiches (cut into the shape of dinosaurs! I have a cool sandwich cutter that cuts one sandwich into two dinosaurs with only a little crust waste.)

Cut up strawberries and kiwi

A scoop of hummus and some bagel chips

And for dessert, a soybean butter and honey oatmeal ball. I (kind of) followed this recipe, but with some changes to make it nut-safe:


1/2 cup soybean butter
1/2 cup honey
1 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup chocolate chips (if you're not dealing with allergies, I'd use mini-chips. I just can't find any nut-safe mini-chips. Though heck, if you're not dealing with allergies, I'd go to the original recipe and use peanut butter and nuts in these!)
1/2 cup raisins


Mix soybean butter and honey until blended. Add all the other ingredients and stir until mixed and thoroughly coated.

Roll into balls (I made them from about 1 heaping tablespoon each). Freeze or refrigerate until firm.

N-man ate almost everything in his lunch! B-man didn't do quite as well, but said he liked everything.


So here's why I like the idea of zero-waste lunches:

  • The obvious, of no trash for the kids at school
  • More economical in that I can buy large containers and apportion them into smaller servings.
  • The packaging from the products can be recycled at home, while there might not be recycling available at school (or the kids may forget to use it).
  • Buying large containers means less packaging than the single-serving packets.
  • Any leftover lunch comes home, and if appropriate, can become an afternoon snack so there's less food waste. B-man ate his leftover bagel chips and hummus yesterday after school!
  • Gets kids involved in reducing the amount of garbage they generate.
  • Opportunity to make healthier lunches by not relying on prepackaged individual serving (and often highly processed) "convenience" foods.
And as I said, this is a small step. There's always room for are some future "small steps" I may try to take to make this idea even more effective.
  • I'm not sure what kind of non-plastic options there are for containers, but as the tupperware becomes lost or worn out, I'd prefer to replace it with something that isn't made of plastic.
  • Okay, my zero-waste lunch wasn't ZERO-waste, because I had to include a disposable napkin. I have fabric to make into cloth napkins...I just need to do it!
  • I could do a much better job making local choices for their lunches. For example, I got them strawberries and kiwi, their favorite fruits, as a special treat for their first school lunch. But come on! It's apple (and peach) season here. That would be a much better choice for future lunches this fall.
  • What other ideas do you have for me?

Overall, a very fun, and easy activity. As I said, this was my boys' first school lunch, so we're not in the habit of relying on convenience packaging. Hopefully it will remain just as easy to continue with zero (or very little) waste lunches!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Discrimination against new moms

I love the new town we've moved to, but they are guilty of the most heinous act of discrimination against new moms. They don't allow drive-thrus. None. Really.

So that means if I'm out running errands and I want a cup of coffee, a doughnut, a bagel, an egg mcmuffin, a COFFEE, I have to park the car, get all three kids out, hike into the restaurant, order, hike back out to the car, now carrying food, too, strap all three kids back into their seat, then finally get going again. It turns what should be a 5 minute stop into a 20 minute expedition.

Too much work. So I skip it, then get grumpier as my blood sugar level (and caffeine level) get lower and lower.

I'd plan ahead and have food and coffee with me, except, you know, I lack the ability or energy to plan ahead. Severe sleep deprivation will do that to you. Plus, half the time my errand is to the grocery store because we're out of food anyway.

And the town has a perfect set up here. I'd organize a group of new moms to protest this obvious discrimination against the people who most need a drive-thru, except we're all too tired and need coffee...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

She Giveth, He Taketh Away

I took Z-man out grocery shopping yesterday, and the cashier was talking to me as she rung up my purchases. She asked if Z-man was my first, and when I told her he was my third, she looked shocked and said, "Wow, you look so young to have three!"

I'm not. I'm 34. But it was nice of her to say!

So I came home and told TK. He asked, "how old was she?" I told him she was a grandmother herself, so probably around 60. He said, "yeah, well you know how once you're older, you can't judge younger people's ages anymore."

Oh. I guess that was TK's way of saying that I *do* look my age. Good thing I'm not overly vain or worried about looking young!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

One vs Two

So, my regular readers probably know by now that I don't write much about twins. I mean, I write about *my* twins, but not about the general experience of having twins. I very much take the "making lasagna" view of having twins: if you're going to go to all the work of making a lasagna, you may as well make two trays. Sure, it's more work, but if you're already doing it anyway...

I've always said that I don't think having twins is *that* much more difficult than having a singleton. In fact, I think it's easier in some ways! But now I have a singleton as well, and can compare the two experiences. So here goes:


Twins: You get enormous much earlier, and end up completely gigantic, leading ob's (or at least Dr. Tact) to famously comment "you're HUGE!". Far more stretch marks. Entirely too many people feel the need to tell you horror stories that go something like, "my friend was pregnant with twins and then she lost them. Then she died. Then everyone in the whole town died. All because of her twin pregnancy." Seriously, folks, it's not a good idea to tell any pregnant lady horror stories, but it seems especially cruel to tell someone who already has a high-risk pregnancy.

Singleton: Far less sympathy/thinking you're a superstar. People treat you just like you're some normal pregnant woman! Getting comments from strangers that go something like, "You MUST be pregnant with twins" is far less amusing when you are in fact NOT pregnant with twins.

Advantage: Singleton. You know, so long as you don't end up having Braxton-Hicks contractions 9 zillion times a day for the last two months of your singleton pregnancy. And so long as you don't move 4 days before your due date. And so long as you're not kept busy chasing active 4 year old twins. Aw heck, let's call this one a draw.


Twins: They give you the big room at the hospital. All kinds of special treatment and people cooing over your twins. They loaded us up with freebies when we left: 4 diaper bags filled with formula samples, bottles, diaper rash ointments, baby shampoos, tons of diapers, etc.

Singleton: They do NOT give you the big room. No freebies.

Advantage: Twins, by a long shot!

Going out in public post-birth:

Twins: Requires ridiculous amounts of planning. Creates a scene everywhere you go. People constantly stopping you to ask "are they twins?" Must use large twin stroller pretty much everywhere since it's not easy carrying two babies (let alone doing anything else like shopping at the same time!)

Singleton: Must constantly remind self to do any planning before going out, though have found that as long as we throw a few diapers, wipes and an extra outfit or two in a bag, we're golden for a whole day out. Still garners some attention, though not on such an epic scale as with twins.

Advantage: Singleton, all the way. Though I suspect a good portion of this is really "third child" rather than singleton. I'm sure if our singleton came first, we wouldn't be quite so cavalier about toting him around everywhere!

Stupid comments from the general public:

Twins: "Are they twins?" "God bless you" (okay, it's not the comment so much as the tone of "poor you" that normally accompanies this one!) "Better you than me!" "My grandmother's best friend's cousin's neighbor had twins" (or something equally insane...I don't need to know about every person you've ever met who had twins!) "Do you watch Jon and Kate plus Eight?" "Two boys? Too bad one wasn't a girl, then you'd be done" "Double trouble!" "Do twins run in your family?" Etc, etc, etc (Moms of twins, feel free to add your favorites! There are so many!)

Singleton: Almost none! People don't stop you nearly as often, and usually they just say something like "how cute" or "how old is he?"

Advantage: Singleton.

However, as a mom of three boys, I have some bonus stupid comments: "My three sons!" "Three boys? God bless you!" (Once again, it's the tone of "poor you" that is troubling). "You'll have to try again for the girl" "Too bad number three wasn't a girl" "My grandmother's best friend's cousin's neighbor had three boys, tried one more time for a girl, and had a fourth boy" (or something equally insane, though sometimes they'll switch it up and the person will finally get their coveted girl after x number of boys).

Okay, to be honest, thus far a singleton has been easier than twins. But, I suspect that has a lot more to do with us being experienced parents than one baby vs. two. So I'm still sticking by my belief that twins aren't *that* much more work than a singleton!

Monday, September 7, 2009

A Champion Worrier, plus a bonus Who's On First story

B-man is, shall we say, able to imagine potential negative future events. I mean, I wouldn't call him a worry-wart. At least not to his face! Today reached epic proportions, though. Here is an actual conversation we had today.

B-man: We shouldn't go camping in Africa.

Me: Okay. [pause] Why not?

B-man: It would be silly. Elephants might come and step on your tent, and then you'd be squashed.

I should note that this came COMPLETELY out of nowhere. We were in no way, at any point in the recent past, discussing Africa, camping, or elephants, let alone the potential to be trampled to death by combining these three elements. B-man continued this conversation of death-via-camping-related-elephant-mishaps for another few minutes.

Then N-man joined the conversation. "We'd need a blow-upper." Long pause as we all stare blankly at him. "To unsquish everything the elephants stepped on."

Which leads me to believe those Tom and Jerry cartoons we let them watch a few weeks ago were probably a bad idea.


Now here's a bonus N-man story from earlier today.

TK was making lunch for the boys. "Do you want a pear?" he asked.

"YES!" N-man answered excitedly. He paused, then asked, "a pair of what?"

"No, not a PAIR," TK said. "A piece of fruit. You know, a pear."

"A pair of what kind of fruit?" N-man asked. This was throwing TK (and me, on the sidelines) for a loop since it's not like a pear is some exotic fruit they've never had before. In fact, pears are one of N-man's favorite fruits, and he picked it at the grocery store just yesterday.

TK took the pear out of the fridge and showed it to N-man, which did clear up the confusion. But sometimes I just have to wonder if N-man doesn't have a far more highly developed sense of humor than we give him credit for. I can imagine N-man going into his room and cracking up, saying "OOO boy! Did you see me fool mom and dad into thinking I didn't know what a PEAR is? Those dopes!"

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Perhaps this explains why they are so impatient...

Little Z-man was fussing as I was getting ready to feed him. B-man walked over and said, "Z-man, patience is a hurt-you".

VIRTUE, darlin'! Virtue! Though from your perspective, I'd guess being asked to be patient does sometimes seem to hurt you :)

It was kind of funny how B-man exactly matched my inflection. I guess I do tell them fairly frequently when they are being demanding that patience is a virtue...

Oh great, N-man jut streaked by, completely nekkid. I suspect they're going to take advantage of these times when I'm tied to the breastfeeding chair! Of course, what they don't know is that this is so easy with one baby instead of two that before long, I'll probably be wandering around during feedings (and forcing children to wear clothing!)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

I'm back!

Did you miss me?

As suspected, I didn't have much computer time. But, I'm pleased to announce that not only did we move, baby 3 stayed safely inside through the move. Quite honestly, I'm shocked he wasn't born during all the flurry of activity that surrounds moving. But he kept on cooking, right up to my scheduled c-section this past Monday.

Oh yeah, that's the big news: Mr. Z-Man made his grand entrance on Monday! Everything went as planned, he's a big (8 lb!) healthy baby boy, and I'm recovering just fine, when I remember to take my pain medicine. Which I forgot today, and then was totally flummoxed by the fact that I was hurting. Duh! And I can't even blame it on pregnancy brain anymore...

That's it. My wonderful parents have been here all week, taking care of N-man and B-man (and TK and I!!). They're leaving tomorrow...I suspect it'll be a LOT more work starting then :) But it's all good. We're unpacking and getting used to the new little guy. The big boys are such great brothers...they seem to really like the Z-man.

I'll be back to my regularly scheduled totally random intermittent posting any day now. And looking forward to catching up with reading blogs, too! It was weird to be offline for so long!

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Today I'm 37 weeks, 6 days pregnant. That's exactly how long I gestated the boys. I have two things to say for myself:

1) Damn, that's frickin' amazing that I didn't just camp out at the doctor's office and demand he remove those two children immediately. I've considered setting up camp already this time, and the only thing holding me back is the realization that I'm being a gigantic baby and to just suck it up because I only have half as many extra people inside me this time.

2) Thank goodness I made it this far. I would have been a little embarrassed if my now-OLD body couldn't make it at least as far with a singleton as it did with twins.

I'm actually getting worried that this little guy will make his appearance early. What were we thinking, moving 4 short days before the baby is due? How is this a good idea? Yes, I love our new house. Yes, in the long run it'll all be worth it. Yes, it doesn't even *really* matter if I have the baby now and miss all the move-related stuff. Well, that will make life much more interesting for TK (hmmm, honey? Do you mind handling two children, selling a house, buying a house, packing/moving/unpacking, a new baby and a wife in the hospital? That's not too much, is it?)

We're in the final crunch now, moving out of our current house in four days, moving into our new house in five days. We've done the vast majority of packing, and I use "we" very liberally, as I've done about five, maybe six boxes total. Mostly I sit on the couch having Braxton-hicks contractions while TK packs, packs, packs. Guess what's on the agenda today? Yep, more packing! (Though we should be mostly done by the end of today...microwaved food on paper plates or restaurants for the rest of the week as we only have the bare necessities out now!)

I'm not sure if I'll be updating my blog or not before the move/baby arrival. Funny to think that next time I blog, it might be from our new house and as a family of five! I should probably try to update, though, as I'm sure it will be hilarious to look back and see a record of the insanity :)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Another perfect summing up of the problem

N-man, on why he had a pee-pee accident one inch away from the potty:

"Mommy, my pee-holder-inner just stopped working!"

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

An odd twin moment

I've never seen much evidence of my boys being psychically linked. No crying when the other bumps his head, or completing each other's sentences.

But then we went to the doctor's office yesterday, and I learned you gotta watch out for these two!

Their doctor asked them, "what is your little brother going to be named?"

There was a pause, and then they both said in unison, with much certainty, "ZINK-O!"

We've never mentioned this name. They've never called the baby Zink-o before to me...they always just call him "Baby".

The doctor looked at me and said, "Really?" She did a great job keeping her voice neutral, with no sign of disapproval for what would obviously be a crazy name. But they'd clearly convinced her with their certainty, not to mention the fact that they BOTH said it at the same time.

I just couldn't stop laughing!

And for the record, while we're still struggling with a name, we did let the boys know there's zero chance of a little brother Zink-o.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Dragon Problems

N-man, on blowing out the pretend candles on the pretend birthday cake he made out of legos for his pretend birthday: "Mommy! I can't blow out the candles! I'm a dragon, and I just blow out more fire!"


On a totally unrelated note, but also something hilarious that N-man does, if His food is too hot to eat, he tells me, "Mommy, blow on it! I need you to make my food warmer!"

So I say, "Okay, but I think you need me to make it cooler."

His answer: "No, I don't want it cool! I want my food warm."

We had this conversation many times, about food, and about when he's too hot. Finally, I came to understand that when he says he wants something "warmer", he doesn't mean add more heat. He means make it warm temperature, rather than hot. So to him, to cool something off from too hot is to make something warmer, in contrast to hotter or cooler or colder.

It actually makes a lot of sense when you think about it. If it doesn't break your brain. I love how his mind works. Clearly he's never heard anyone else ask for their food to be "warmer" when they mean "cooler". He's thought of this one all on his own!


So I'm still on the freecycling kick. It's so funny what goes and what doesn't. I listed 11 mis-matched a ton of requests. But a rather nice glass bowl...completely ignored!

Anyway, after my post the other day about freecycling junk, I ran across a hilarious site: Item Not As Described. Basically, it's a site that collects listings where people try to give away things that are clearly garbage. Like our old grill! See, I should have posted it on freecycle, then I could have submitted my own post to the blog as a perfect example of someone trying to give away their trash!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dr. Tact strikes again

When I was pregnant with the boys, my OB earned the nickname of "Dr. Tact". I know Ms. Goddess in Progress met him, and has some wonderful stories of her own about how he completely lacks any tact at all!

Anyway, that actually doesn't bother me, so I stuck with him for this pregnancy. And I've been surprised that he's not been overly un-tactful this time around. I was wondering if he took some kind of "be polite to patients" class in the past 4 years.

Until today.

We were scheduling my appointment for next week, and I said, "The nurse told me I'd need to come in for a non-stress test."

His response: "Oh yeah, because you're SO old."

Thanks. Thanks a lot.

So this elderly mom refrained from punching him in the nose. See, age brings restraint, so it's not all bad!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

One Man's Trash

I'm a big fan of freecycle and donating used stuff to charities, and otherwise passing along functional items we no longer need instead of trashing them.

But sometimes we have something that is so beat up, so disgusting, that I'd be embarrassed to even offer it to someone for free. Basically, it's trash.

I thought we had a piece of trash the other day. It was a grill that the previous owners had annoyingly left when we bought our house. SEVEN years ago. It was beat up and disgusting when we moved in, and we've just had it sitting outside, partially under our deck (though not really protected from the elements) for the past seven years. Time hasn't improved it. It was rusty, and dirty, and all around gross. So we put it out for the trash this week.

Thirty minutes later, someone took it! Honestly, I was so glad. I'm glad that someone thinks they can find a use for it, and I hope they're able to fix it up, or repurpose it, or melt it down for scrap, or turn it into art, or whatever. I hope they don't leave it under their deck for the next seven years, like some kind of barbecue cicada.

So what's your view on attempting to freecycling things that you clearly think are trash? Do you think it's okay as long as you're VERY clear in your description? I mean, I'd hate to drag someone out to my house for the promise of a free grill, only to have them get here and find out it's the most disgusting, rusted out piece of unusable junk ever!

I think from now on I'll try to freecycle big items like this, even if I think it's junk. You just never know what someone else is looking for!


I should add that I rarely see things that sound really junky on our local freecycle. Though I do have to say that someone once listed opened and partially used cosmetics...I was pretty grossed out at the thought of using someone else's eye makeup and face creams! But sure enough, next time I got a freecycle update, it was listed as TAKEN. So who knows!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Preschool logic

Here's a conversation I just had with B-man:

B-man was talking about how reindeer fly without any wings.

Me: But that's just pretend. (Yeah, I forgot about the whole Santa thing. It's July, sue me!)

B-man, after thinking about it: Well, I just don't see any other way Santa could get presents here if his reindeer didn't fly.

He said it with such certainty, sure that Mommy must be mistaken!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

That Kind of Day

I was having THAT kind of day yesterday. You know the one. Where nothing goes right, though luckily, nothing is terrible. Just kind of blah.

TK was out for the evening at band practice, so I knew I was on solo kid duty through bed time. We had a zillion issues with the lawyers/house sale (STILL unresolved), so I was trapped all day at home waiting on phone calls and dealing with things. By the time dinner rolled around, I decided we needed some fun, so I took the kids for a walk to the Au Bon Pain about 1/4 mile away.

We got there, ordered, sat down. Everything's fine. We're having fun. Both boys wanted to sit next to me, so we were cuddled all on one side of a booth. It was pretty cute, and I was starting to relax. We wait for a while, the buzzer goes off, and I go get the food. Or I should say the boys' food. Turns out they're out of the chicken rice bowl I ordered. Again. How come every time I go there they're out of what I want to eat? And why can't they tell me when I order, or at least before I've waited with the boys for 10 minutes? It's not like they're busy in the evenings. There were only 2 or 3 other customers in the whole place while we were there!

Fine. I get something different (which for the record ended up being delicious!) I ate about half of it, but by then the boys had finished their drinks and were both complaining they were thirsty. Okay, easy enough to solve. I went up to the counter, got some little glasses, and got them some water.

I get back to the booth, and ask B-man to scoot out so that I can get back in between them. He puts his little hands on the table to push himself up to standing and....the whole booth tips over!

On to B-man and N-man.

And all our food falls off onto the seat.

Can you believe the entire table fell over because of my tiny little B-man? He wasn't doing anything crazy at all...I can't believe the table doesn't get knocked over ten times a day!

I picked the table up, and both boys were crying but seemed to be without serious injury. Both of them were more concerned about their food than anything else! Luckily, they had mac and cheese, and amazingly, both cups landed right side up and didn't spill a bit. So I moved them over to another table and that, combined with the awesome cups of water with ICE (their favorite!) in it calmed the boys right down.

But the tragedy is that my meal, my substitute dinner that ended up being delicious and that I'd only gotten to eat half of, had entirely spilled out of the bowl, all over the seat and floor.

Don't worry, I salvaged the situation. I went up and bought myself a huge chocolate pastry. Do I know how to solve a problem or what?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Planning breakdown

Me, in my mind: Oh, I have a good idea! I'll head to the farmstand after our CSA pickup!

Me, in my mind: I'd go to the farmstand first, but I need to buy perishables like milk and cheese. Better go to the CSA first.

Me, in my mind: It's kind of on the way home, anyway!

Me, in my mind: I'm always trying to find ways to combine errands to drive less, this'll be perfect!


Me, in reality: Wow, the farm is really muddy.

Me, in reality: I don't know why I'm surprised. It's the first day in 10 weeks it hasn't rained.

Me, in reality: I even thought to bring their rain boots. I must have known it'd be muddy.

Me, in reality: Wow, the boys are getting really, really dirty. And wet.

N-man, in reality: Mommy, those kids just splashed through the puddle by me! I'm all covered in mud!

Me, in reality: Holy moly, he's got mud splashed EVERYWHERE on his body!

B-man, in reality: Mommy, my boot got stuck in the mud!

Me, in reality: And you stepped right in the puddle in only your sock, I see.

Me, in reality: I have to strip you guys before we get in the car.

Me, in reality: And I only have one extra outfit in the car.

Me, in reality: I can't go to the farmstand with naked kids, can I? It's really more like a small grocery store. Shoot, and their boots are really unwearable, since they got mud inside and out.

Me, in reality: Probably should have just gone to the farmstand this morning, huh.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Terrible taste in books

I missed my last book group meeting, so I got no say in what book we're reading this month.

Olive Kitteridge. That's what they chose. It's an annoying choice, because it's ridiculously popular. There were nearly 400 holds on it at the library, but I gamely added my name to the long list.

Of course it hasn't come in yet. 400 other people want to read it first. So now it's just a few days before book group and I'm forced to, gasp, BUY a book that I'm not too keen on reading.

Lest anyone mistakenly think I have highbrow taste in books, let me dispel that misconception immediately: I saw on the cover that it won the Pulitzer Prize, and I was even more depressed. Yuck, I have to read something that won the Pulitzer? I'm *sure* not to like it!

Then comes the complete kiss of death for me: a quote from O Magazine on the front cover. Ugh. If there's one thing I can count on Oprah for, it's picking books I'll hate. I've come to really appreciate this about her, as someone with exactly the opposite taste as you is just as useful as someone with exactly the same taste.

I plunked down my $12 for the book, cringing the whole time.

And I started it with much reservation this afternoon, while the kids were watching The Backyardigans so I could FINALLY have some lunch at 2pm.

You know what? It's pretty good. Depressing as all get out so far, but not bad. I'm only about 30 pages in, but it's already captured me enough that I'm definitely looking forward to having time to read after the kids go to sleep tonight.

This is why I love a book group. I NEVER would have picked this book up. Sure, who knows what I'll ultimately think of this book, but I'm glad I'm giving it a go! And I'm glad I didn't get a vote this month, as I'm sure I would have picked something different. When I get involved, we end up with something like Snuff by Chuck Palahniuk, which is what we read last month. I'm pretty sure there was never any risk of that novel winning the Pulitzer!

If you're in a book group, are there any books like this, where you didn't want to read it and then was pleasantly surprised?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

So THAT'S my problem with the giant burning ball of horror in the sky!

I think I've avoided mentioning on my blog one of the many, many things that I know are crazy about me.

I don't like the sun.

I mean, I'm pro-sun in general. You know, life-giving energy and all. I don't want to build a giant underground complex or anything.

It's just, given a choice, I prefer overcast fall days to just about anything else. Grey, cloudy, 55 degrees is my idea of weather-perfection.

Anyone living in New England knows that this has been an ideal summer for me. How's the weather been? Cool. Rainy. WONDERFUL!

Though I must admit, I was feeling bad for the boys. Kids need summers to run around and play in the sandbox and go in the kiddie pool. We weren't getting to do any of that, so I'm glad the weather has finally improved.

We took them yesterday to a 4th of July carnival in a neighboring town (our lame town doesn't do anything for the Fourth!) Being a solar-phobic, I of course made sure we were all coated in sunscreen. And we were only out for about two and a half hours before my poor pregnant body just needed some air conditioning time to recoup.

We got home and you know what? I got a slight sunburn! I mean, not bad. In fact, it's already faded today to some new freckles on my arms. The stinging has subsided and the redness is gone. But still! I was hardly out very long! And I was wearing sunscreen! I wasn't in the water, and it wasn't so hot that I was sweating excessively. There was no reason my sunscreen should have given up the fight in less than 3 hours.

So I said to TK, "It's because the sunscreen is only SPF 30*".

He answered, "Really? I think it's because you almost entirely lack melanin in your skin."

Yeah, he's probably right.


* Sunscreen issue of the day: We've been using Baby Lizard sunscreen. I love it! It's chemical- and fragrance-free, goes on smoothly and evenly, and doesn't leave you feeling sticky. My only issue is that it's only available as 30 SPF. Oh, it's pretty darn expensive, too, but I feel it's worth the added cost so I'm not going to complain about that.

But clearly, as yesterday proved, it's not quite as effective as I might desire. Does anyone have a sunscreen they love (preferably one not filled with chemicals)?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

House update, again

For once I finally have an update! Our house finally got an offer! We managed to talk them up to the lowest possible amount we could afford to accept. Are we awesome negotiators or what?

Today is the home inspection. Wish us luck! I'm a little worried that there'll be something that ruins the deal. It could all still fall apart!

Though we found out yesterday that ANOTHER couple wants to put in an offer on our house. Our agent had warned their agent that she thought an offer would be coming in, and they were just too late and we'd already signed the offer agreement with the first couple. But if this current offer falls apart for some reason, the other couple will probably put in an offer (of course, who knows if it'll be a good offer or not, but after so long of nothing it's kind of amazing!)

The only bad part of the current offer is that this couple wants to close while I'm scheduled to be in the hospital delivering baby boy #3. Really? That's crazy! Our agent said not to worry about it, that she'd talk to them today at the home inspection. But the reality is that we'll probably be closing and the new baby will be born right about at the same time. I'm just desperately trying to make sure it's not on the same day, though I guess what will be will be. There's only so much I can control! I was hoping we could wait until after the baby arrives to close, but this couple really wants to close before the end of August, so now we're trying to push up the closing so we can be moved before the baby comes. Who knows, though. I do have a scheduled delivery date, but I think we all know that just means I know the last possible day the baby will come...he could decide to make an early entrance, though! Once more, proof that I can't control everything. Not for lack of trying, though.

So that's it. My kind of update. We'll see if anything actually happens...


As a related question, has anyone ever had a lag between selling a house and buying a new house? Because in theory, we could close on our current house before the baby arrives, then close on the new house after the baby arrives. We'd have two options: move all our stuff out at closing, and have the moving company store it in their van while we live in an extended stay hotel*. Or, alternately, we could sell the house, then "rent" it back from the new owners for a week or two until we close on the new house.

*Actually, this would probably be if things really overlapped with us being in the hospital. In that case, my parents are already planning to be here, so we'd probably send them and the kids down to my grandparents' house about an hour away, and then TK and I would stay at the hospital the majority of the time, with a hotel for any time that didn't overlap with our hospital stay.

I'm hoping it won't come to this, but just wondering if anyone has ever done something like this where they couldn't get closing dates perfectly aligned. It's amazing house buy/sell transactions ever work out!