I Did the Bad Mom Thing

This morning, as Husband and Little Brother were preparing to leave, Middle Brother was using me as a horse. So naturally, when it was time to say goodbye, he said, “Goodbye, Horses!” Except, in the way toddlers do, it didn’t come out quite right. Instead, it sounded like, “Goodbye, Whores!” And while I have enough parenting experience to know that the appropriate response to this is none at all, that is not what I did. What I did was dissolve into hysterical laughter. Middle Brother spent the rest of the morning happily saying, “Goodbye, Whores!” over and over, while I giggled nonstop, knowing it was the wrong thing with every repetition. I cannot wait to hear the report from daycare this afternoon.

Review: The Christmas Dare by Lori Wilde

I want to start with the fact that I have not read a lot of Christmas-themed romances, so there may be quirks to this subgenre that I’m not familiar with. I have a few on my TBR this year, so if my opinion of this one changes once I’ve read more, I’ll let you guys know.

I listened to The Christmas Dare as an audiobook. The narrator is good. There’s a slight Texas twang for the dialogue, but it’s not that overexaggerated drawl you’re always afraid of if you’re from Texas.

Overall, I liked this book, so I’m going to start with the positives so as not to give the wrong impression. The romance is great. It’s a reconnected lovers story, which I’m a fan of, if done right. This one is. The hero and heroine both have flaws they have to overcome, but are essentially good people. The heroine’s mother, however, has some serious issues, and causes her own problems. The author actually takes the opportunity to delve into a mental health issue, and I appreciate that, though I would have liked the explanation a little earlier. I spent most of the book wondering what the heck was wrong with that woman and hating her.

There’s also a background romance with the heroine’s best friend, and I hope there’s at least a novella that goes into it, because I’m interested about what was happening off page.

What I didn’t like: There were two overriding themes that just got beat to death, and they’re both in the title. Obviously, there was going to be Christmas and at least one dare. But by the end, every time I heard “Christmas” or “dare”, I wanted to puncture my eardrums. This may just be a thing in cutesy Christmas romances, but it’s a thing I don’t love.

If repetition of phrases won’t make you bonkers, though, I do recommend this book for your holiday reading.

Review: How to Suffer… in 10 Easy Steps by William Arntz

So, I thought this was going to be a humor book. I wasn’t entirely wrong. It is pretty funny. But it actually is an in-depth look at what suffering is, why it happens, and what we can do about it.

I am a spiritual seeker, which you may know if you’re not new to my blog. Part of that for me has always been about looking at myself and getting into alignment with the universe. So, obviously, this book is perfect for me. I love that the beginning is written from the perspective of how best to stay in suffering, because I find I’m often doing those things even when I think I don’t want to suffer anymore. It is incredibly effective.

I definitely recommend this book for anyone interested in finding more serenity in their life, but that needs to be eased into it with a little humor.

Review: Wide-Awake Bear by Pam Zietlow Miller

Middle Brother is affectionately called Bear in our house, which maybe explains all the roaring, and has never slept as much as he’s “supposed to” at any given age. So when I saw this book, I had to get it for him.

Wide-Awake Bear is so cute! Middle Brother went and got his bear to snuggle with while we read. A bear cub is supposed to be hibernating, but no matter what he does, he is still wide awake. While the story hits a little close to home as the mother of a toddler, the illustrations are adorable, and Middle Brother actually sat through the whole story.

If you’re looking for a good snuggly story with an opportunity to teach about hibernation, this one’s for you.

Review: Fair Play by Eve Rodsky

Fair Play feels like a game changer. I don’t generally follow celebrity book clubs, because I’m in book clubs in real life and have three billion not book club books to read, but I looked into Reese’s since I felt so informed by this book. I’m going to at least consider the titles going forward.

Eve Rodsky specializes in organizational management, and she’s applied those principles to making a system to create equity in household labor. That sentence sounds really dry, but the book isn’t. She uses her own marriage as an example as she illustrates how the Fair Play system works. She walks us through the ways we may be contributing to the problem without realizing it (I personally am incredibly guilty of the frustrated “I’ve got it” approach), the types of husbands we might be dealing with and how best to approach each, and then (get this, ladies) a solution.

The solution is a process, but it’s a process meant to be easily individualized for each family. I am really excited to try it. I spend a lot of time venting with my girlfriends about the amount of household work we still take on as fulltime working mothers, and I would love just that time back, not to mention the time I’m actually doing the household work.

Obviously, since I just read the book, I can’t personally attest to the results, yet. I have set up a date with Husband, though, to work out the system for our family, and I’m really excited about it.

Tech Shabbat

We did our first tech shabbat this weekend. Overall, I’d call it a success. We elected to try 7 PM Friday through 7 PM Saturday, so we turned off screens just in time to eat dinner and do the bedtime routine last night, so no one noticed but me. Big Brother was intentionally elsewhere this weekend so he wouldn’t have to participate.

This morning, we ate breakfast with no requests for cartoons. Our first hiccup came when we left to hunt for a Pokemon Halloween costume for Little Brother. I purchased a minivan when we decided we wanted to be a family of five, and got the built-in TV system since I’m a huge fan of road trips. As soon as we started driving, Middle Brother asked for “my TB.” I explained we weren’t going far, but it was still touch-and-go for a minute. After the first store, he was so animatedly telling me about the animatronic dragons and things that he didn’t ask again. We didn’t find the costume we wanted, but after a while we gave up and went to the park, because it was gorgeous out today. Both littler brothers had a great time, and I made no one pause for pictures.

We did take one picture today. We drove by what I still hope will be our future home. We’ve gotten a couple of extensions on our option period as we hammer out some pretty major repairs that need to be done. That’s the only news on that front, for those of you wondering.

We came home for lunch, and hoped for naps, but no luck in the sleep department. Middle Brother helped get dinner in the slow cooker, and then we played more than I can remember playing on a Saturday in a long time. Middle Brother asked for Pokemon once, but was easily distracted. What surprised me was that as we got into evening, he kept trying to hand me my phone. Evidently, I’m on it when I’m with the littles more than I realized.

I ended up turning on the television a half hour early because Middle Brother was tired, and therefore a terror, while I was finishing dinner. We’re going to have to work through the kinks of no naptime in the future.

I absolutely intend to keep this up. It felt really refreshing, and I felt really present with my boys the whole time. Thanks so much to Tiffany Shlain and 24/6 for giving me a kick in the pants.

Review: Cursed by Thomas Wheeler

Thing I’m not proud of as a parent: We listened to Cursed as a bedtime story for my toddler. Hear me out. I was listening to it at 1.5 times, so it was too fast for him to catch most of it, and he doesn’t know a lot of these words yet, anyway. But the narrator’s British accent is very soothing, and it was effective. I’m counting it as a win.

The storyline is not very soothing. I downloaded the ALC of this book in my job as a bookseller because it promised a King Arthur tale. King Arthur is by nature not a happy story for anyone. This isn’t really one of those, anyway. It’s a pre-King Arthur narrative that’s more twisted than any other I’ve read in that world. I loved every minute of it.

We follow Nimue, future Lady of the Lake, as she inherits the sword of power and tries to figure out what to do with it. We meet all the characters we expect to meet, although not always in the form we expect. There is so much violence, but also tenderness and familial ties and love. Nimue is truly confused and conflicted, and I love that the story centered around her.

I know this is an upcoming Netflix show, but I hope there’s a full series of books coming, too. I want more.

Review: Elizabeth Webster and the Court of Uncommon Pleas by William Lashner

I listened to Elizabeth Webster and the Court of Uncommon Pleas as an audiobook. The narrator is awesome!

This book is kind of a mix of Goosebumps and Theodore Boone. It’s a middle grade mystery with ghosts and demons. It’s not incredibly scary, but maybe not a good read for nervous children.

I really enjoyed it. I did not want to stop listening. There’s an interesting cast of characters, a good mystery, and some real legal information. The main character is also kind of a math nerd, which I would have loved in my own middle grade years. Also, it’s a great read for children in blended families, as it deals with some of that without being preachy.

I read this book as an ALC in my job as a bookseller. It releases October 15th.

Review: 24/6 by Tiffany Shlain

I listened to this as an audiobook ALC in my job as a bookseller. A note on the narrator: This book is narrated by the author. She’s good, and when she talks about things like her father passing, you can hear her choke up a bit. It adds some weight to the reading.

I think all the parents I know struggle with the use of devices in families. While we have chosen so far to not have any apps on phones or tablets for the toddler and don’t allow devices at family dinners for the teen or us parents, we do rely heavily on the television to entertain. Husband and I do disagree about how much the TV should be on. He thinks of it as background noise, but the toddler clearly doesn’t. He wants Pokemon all the time.

I like the idea of a day of tech rest. 24/6 makes some compelling arguments, though I’m not sure I needed any. It also has some actionable ideas for how to make it work, which is incredibly valuable. I think we’re going to institute it. I am taking some prep time to figure out when works best for our family, especially given that Husband and I work opposite days. A full tech shabbat may not work for us, or at least not at the same time. The kids and I may have to do it alone on a traditional weekend day. Once I start it, though, I will let you guys know how it goes.

Review: Where’s Buddha by Marisa Aragon Ware

You guys, I’m a bookseller, and that means I’m picking up books all the time: new books I happen to check in at my store, used books I see on the shelf, ARCs and finished copies at conferences. I’m also a book tourist, so I stop by independent bookstores whenever I travel and buy at least one book every time. All this is to say, tonight I was looking through the picture book department of my home’s bookshelves for something we haven’t read at bedtime the last 600 consecutive nights, and I saw this little picture book and thought, “Where the heck did I even get that? How long has it been here? How have I not noticed it in the last 600 nights of trying to not read the same book over and over?” I can answer none of these questions.

Thing you should know about my household: Husband is staunchly Methodist, I am spiritual but not religious, and we did not discuss at all before having children how we were going to raise them, religiously. We are now over two years into raising our shared boys, and we still haven’t discussed it. Since I don’t really need a discussion, as I’m all for getting them familiar and comfortable with all faiths, I just haven’t broached it.

Where’s Buddha? is not a particularly Buddhist book. It’s very simple text that just implies that the spiritual is in everything. It just so happens to do so with Buddha. Since I am not terribly familiar with the specifics of Buddhism, I like it as an entry-level picture book that as my children get older may bring up some questions we can look into together. The illustrations are gorgeous, with eye-drawing color and just enough details to keep my toddler engaged. We will definitely add it to our bedtime rotation, now that I know it’s there.