Thursday, December 31, 2015


I hiked Pinnacle Mountain a lot in the first part of the year.

I mostly quit drinking Mtn. Dew.

We looked at schools for Evelyn.

Cody got permanent work.

We read that book on the love languages and I rolled my eyes at a lot of it, and I don't think either one of us finished it.  But we did get enough of it to realize we'd been throwing our 'I love yous' right past each other.  Whoops.  If Cody cleans the kitchen a bit better and gets the coffee maker ready for the next day every night and I say nice things about him (especially in front of Evelyn), we're a much happier dynamic duo.

I went to therapy for a while.  We mostly talked about work and parenting.  The parenting stuff, I can adapt to.  The work stuff will probably always be hard for me.  I'm still trying to figure out how to enjoy the good parts, and to really get the most out of the weeks/months when I'm not completely physically and emotionally drained so that I can enjoy life outside the office.

We found a school for Evelyn.  The roughest part of transition, in my opinion, was brought on by the fact that Evelyn really got into baby dolls a month or two before school started.  And you can't take your baby to school.  It was a contentious time for all of us.  That being said, Cody and I went to the first PTO meeting of the year (less than a month after school started) and Evelyn wanted to bring her beloved baby.  I can't tell you how many people--from teachers to parent volunteers--said "This must be Hildegard!" because she told them all about her baby, and they listened.  We really, really like Evelyn's school.

Now would be a good time to say that we love our library as well.  I love all libraries, really, but our little local library has been an important factor in helping Evelyn love learning.  The lovely people there are also a big part of why she's so at ease with asking questions of people in charge and why she feels so confident that they'll answer her seriously. 

She asks a lot of questions, and this year I started pointing her in the direction of people who could answer them even if we weren't in a library.  Park interpreters, the nice guy at the Capitol visitors desk, or anyone else got an earful.  Often.

We went to a few museums, and the Historic Arkansas Museum was probably my favorite.  We went there a lot.

Evelyn also really likes my work.  I get a lot of stress from it.  But I also work with some very lovely people, and many of them hold Evelyn in high regard.  She feels welcome there, and she is.  I'm incredibly glad.

Evelyn can kind of read a bit.

We went to the beach this summer.  We sunburned horribly and ate too much and the house was way too full of people who were way too loud and on conflicting sleep schedules.  It was fantastic.  The three of us swam in the ocean together a few times and it was all I wanted out of life maybe.  Evelyn got to enjoy a lot of swimming and I get irrationally excited about driving places in the middle of the day.

We did not go to the state fair, a pumpkin patch, or to look at Christmas lights.  We did meet Santa 3 times and go to a classmate's birthday party.

There was a lot of time to play with cousins.  And there were plenty of grandparent sleepovers.

There was also a trip or two to my old allergist. Evelyn is on maintenance medication, and it's working awfully well.  She likes her inhaler, and I like that we can treat the cough that pops up every time she gets a stuffy nose or an ear infection or the temperature shifts twenty degrees in a day.  Glorious!

Cody's getting into meal planning.  I keep making the same knitting patterns over and over because it's what makes me happy.

We didn't do as much as I'd hoped or planned in 2015, but we had a lot of fun.  I'm not really sure what we have going on in 2016.  I'm hoping we get to see friends and family more.  I keep swearing up and down that we'll go camping some day.  It could happen.  Whatever we do, I think we'll have a good time.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Book list for October 2015

Drift. Rachel Maddow*
Between the World and Me. Ta-Nehasi Coates* 
Death of a Naturalist. Seamus Heaney*
Fieldwork. Seamus Heaney*

Two thoughtful pieces about very different aspects of America, and a couple of small poetry volumes by Heaney.  It was a good month for reading.  Library books marked with asterisks. 

I guess it was a good book for library books, too.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Book list for September 2015

Hark! A Vagrant. Kate Beaton.* I saw this on the shelf and snatched it up before anyone else could. I've enjoyed the comics online and was so convinced that everyone in the world would want to check this out from the library as soon as they saw it.  What's not to love about comics that are history jokes!?

The Sweet Potato Queens' Book of Love. Jill Conner Browne. I hadn't read this in years, and noticed it after it somehow wound up in a spot on the self with our Bibles. Evelyn liked the colors.  It was just like a fun chat with a total stranger you relate to.  And it's funny.  It's just good silly fun, and I liked it a lot. 

Teach Your Children Well. Madeline Levine.* I checked this out during Evelyn's first week of school.  I knew she would be fine and so did every other adult in her life, but it was hard to know how the transition would go--especially when she kept insisting she didn't like school (but only when we were trying to get her to go to bed earlier or stop playing so she could put on her shoes to leave for school).  Her fantastic coloring skills went downhill, her handwriting became nearly illegible, and if I didn't know better I think she completely forgot how to count.  I knew it was normal since her mind was so full of learning all the new routines and rules at school, but it freaked me out a little.  Evelyn does everything in her own time and she doubles down if she thinks you're going to try to rush her or slow her down.  I wanted a reminder about focusing on the important parts of parenting and this seemed like a good book for it.

And it was.  Levine talks a lot about realistic expectations, understanding your kid's personality and learning style, emphasizing values like a love of learning and kindness.  And calming down (that part's for the parents).  A lot of it is stuff that people already somewhat know, but it's hard to remind yourself when other people are talking about their kids' accomplishments and asking you about yours.  It's always well-intentioned, and genuine, but I'm quick to feel defensive because well, raising her is a big deal and I always worry that we're not doing as great a job as she deserves. But Evelyn's loved and supported, which is really the best foundation we can give her, educationally or otherwise.

And: I read some bound volumes of some comics. They were okay.  I don't even remember the titles, but they were about Batwoman and Captain Marvel.  Every now and then I read comics and then I remember that I don't want to read comics for another couple of months or years.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Book list for July 2015

Ready Player One. Ernest Cline

Throw Out 50 Things: Clear the Clutter, Find Your Life. Gail Blanke*

I borrowed Ready Player One from Casey when we were at the beach and read it over the course of a few days.  It was a good beach read with a bunch of cliffhanger chapters and a generic dude protagonist.  I was really into it, wooden dialogue and all, as I was reading for most of it but started questioning things about three-quarters of the way through.  Sorry if this gets spoilery.

Are we not supposed to care that the great and powerful Woz character (I'm really proud of that pun) doesn't even notice or seem to care that that one character dies?  Does this author know any person from any kind of Asian culture ever and that's why he thinks it's okay to slap 'san' on the back of any ol' word?  Does he know any lesbians or did he just figure 'hey, I bet they're just like guys in lady bodies'?  Most importantly, has he ever seen a mobile home?  I get that this is a fantasy novel set in the near future where everyone's super poor and there's not enough fuel (even though some people can use solar panels and apparently the sun is still shining soooooooo.....????) and everyone's addicted to virtual reality (ha) and education is still funded by video game programming philanthropists (okay) but there's no way in any iteration of any poverty-stricken universe in which mobile homes can be stacked on top of each other twenty units high and the folks living in the bottom, uh, eighteen won't get smashed flatter than pancakes.  There's just no way.

I read that this will get turned into a movie, which I think was the Cline's real goal all along. 

As for Throw Out 50 Things, I liked parts of it and wasn't crazy about some parts.  But it's fine if I don't completely love the advice I get from a library book.  What I really appreciated was Blanke's acknowledgement that most of us don't have the means to throw out every article of clothing in our wardrobe and start over, and that most of us aren't the type of people who want to throw out every knick knack because some things just make us happy and it's nice to keep certain things around.  Like I mentioned in my last post, this was a good jumpstart to the big home overhaul I've been working on for the past week or so.  The thing with the '50 things' challenge is that your big pile of t-shirts counts as one thing.  Clothes = one thing.  Books = one thing.  I think I'm halfway to 50 large containers at this point, so I'm not keeping track of everything.  She has a workbook for that if you're interested, but I'm not.  Once something's gone, I'm usually glad it's gone.  It's been nice to let go of some things that had bad feelings attached to them and I only need a pretty general record of what I donated for tax purposes.  The rest of it is super gone and I don't even want it sticking around as a line on a list. Still, I would recommend this if I were telling you to check it out from the library. 

As for clearing out things, I have so far regretted donating exactly one skein of sock yarn because I think it would have been nice to make my very favorite nephew some tube socks while his feet are still small enough that I'll want to knit him socks.  I have more sock yarn, and if I want to go out and buy that particular skein of sock yarn, it will cost around $5.  Considering that I don't even know if his mom wants to keep up with handknit socks for a sweaty little guy who gets a bit obsessive about his footwear, this is a pretty small regret.  Ta da.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Books read in June 2015

Beowulf. Seamus Heaney, translator.

A Room of One's Own. Virginia Woolf.

I'm really glad I own both of these books.  Cody gave me Beowulf for this past Christmas, and I finally finished this!  I love it.  I know both of the books I finished seem like sophomore-level reading assignments, but that's just what I wound up being into lately and I really enjoyed reading a few pages every night before bed. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Book list for April 2015

Tiny Beautiful Things. Cheryl Strayed.*

I finished a book!!  It was a collection of essays/advice columns, which made it easy to pick up and put down at will.  I'm not sure I was quite ready for all that sadness and radical empathy, but I read it and liked it.  So there you go.

Currently reading: Beowulf.  I'm getting close to the end and it's bumming me out.  Beowulf is dead.  The dragon is dead.  It's the end of an era.  I may read it again.