My sister-in-law officially joined the family last night in a beautiful service. We love her and we’re so glad to have her and her two amazing children. Middle Brother in particular adores the kids.

I have only been to a few weddings in my life that were not my own, and none of them with small children. My eldest cousin got married when Big Brother was two, but children were not allowed so we found a babysitter. I have certainly never been to a wedding with two small children and a husband in the wedding party. I may have bitten off more than I could chew.

Big Brother ended up skipping the service so that Little Brother didn’t get too hot. I nursed Little Brother behind a room divider and hoped Middle Brother didn’t seriously harm his new cousin while they wrestled in the middle of the dance floor. I constantly felt like I was failing at least one child and making more work for other family.

But now that I’m not in the middle of it, here’s the beautiful thing: my children were all happy and got to be present for an important event in the life of our family. Any photos from the reception will show us all having a fantastic time. We got to bond as a family, even if I didn’t get to be fully present for everyone for every part of the wedding. I have a beautiful life and an amazing family to share it with. Plus, check out those little boys in their tiny dress clothes!

My Precioussaurus

Middle brother is two, which is an incredibly fun, incredibly weird age. He’s just starting to use his imagination, he’s learning new words every day, and he’s excited when he pees without a diaper on, even if there’s not a toilet anywhere in the vicinity. My toddler, and I know this is not true of all of them, loves to share. He loves it so much he will shove a goldfish cracker forcefully in your mouth when you would prefer he not share with you.

The newest and most glaring quirk of his toddlerhood is his obsession with his dinosaur gummy vitamins. This is one area where sharing is out of the question. All things considered, I don’t really want him sharing vitamins, so that’s okay. But there is now a weird ritual around the gummies.

He’s currently taking a regimen of medications for his latest eczema outbreak. (For you crunchy moms, I know there are ten thousand homeopathic remedies for eczema. If you find one that works for your child, good on you. We didn’t, and our child was suffering.) Because he loves his vitamin like dessert, it is always the last thing we give him before teeth brushing. Then, the ritual begins.

First, he must show the tiny dinosaur to everyone in the house at least three times, announcing “‘Edicine!” Next, he must pass the vitamin from hand to hand several times, noting the stickiness on the fingers not currently holding it. Then, he must cradle the gummy to his chest for what feels like forever, and in actuality ranges from ten to fifteen minutes, muttering “Mine,” in an increasingly growly voice any time someone looks at him. If someone tries to take the ‘edicine to place it in his mouth, the process begins anew. If you are wise enough to wait it out, eventually he places it in his mouth, chews, swallows, and announces “Num, num!” in a satiated tone.

Every night, I get the unmitigated glee of watching my otherwise cheerful, friendly toddler slowly turn into Gollum. Toddlers are a trip.

Momming’s Hard, but the Reading’s Easy

I was wise enough to expect that becoming a mom to littles again would change my reading life. I just thought it only meant there would be less of it for a while. What I’ve found instead, is that it has dramatically changed how I read.

When we started our partnership with Kobo at my day job, to provide eBooks competitively to indie bookstore lovers, I diligently purchased a Kobo Mini. I discovered a lot of ARCs were available in eBook that you would never see in print, and tried really hard to get into it, but just couldn’t embrace reading on a screen.

Later, when we started our partnership with, to provide digital audiobooks to our customers, I started immediately taking advantage of their bookseller ALC program. What that looked like for me, though, was that I just downloaded one of their available advanced titles if I was really interested, and I often took longer to get through them than if I had read a physical book, because I only have a ten minute commute. When I had reading time at home, I read “real books”.

When it was just me and Big Brother, I had time to sit and devour three to five books in physical form a week. This will always be my preferred method of reading. I just love a physical book. But with the addition of two more boys in the span of two years, I was lucky to get through my book club pick in a month.

Audiobooks are great for all the shuttling boys around I’m currently doing. The Kobo is perfect for while I’m nursing, because holding a behemoth of a book like Voyager is just not happening while hanging onto a baby. Now that Little Brother is sometimes going to bed at a reasonable hour and sleeping long stretches, I can pick up that physical book for a while when the boys are all asleep. What this means for me is that, for the first time in my life, I’m reading multiple books at a time.

I’m currently reading the aforementioned Voyager in paperback, Beyond Piggy Banks and Lemonade Stands in eBook, and What We Talk about When We Talk about Books on audio. What I’ve found in the admittedly rather short time that I’ve been doing this is that as long as I’m reading in three very separate genres, I can keep up with all three well.

So, yes, I’m still reading a little less than I used to. But overall, it’s a lot easier to maintain the kind of reading life I want for me personally while raising three boys. I’m so grateful to get to keep this part of myself alive while still being present for my little men.

Review: The Warehouse by Rob Hart

I listened to The Warehouse as a audiobook. A note on the narrator: She. Is. Flawless.

Now about the actual book: It made me very angry. I promise, that’s a compliment. In the near future, a corporation, Cloud, has basically taken over the United States, claiming the market decided. We follow two characters. The first was the CEO of his own company that was forced out of business by Cloud demanding cheaper and cheaper prices. The second is a corporate spy hired to find out how Cloud actually produces their energy.

There’s a lot I want to say about this book that I can’t without spoilers. What I can say is that an independent bookseller and a person in the world, I dug the correlation between the thinly-veiled Amazon business model and the dystopian novels I grew up with, like Fahrenheit 451. I loved the investigation into how much the market really decides when you’re actively eliminating their choices while they try to make that decision. So, there’s all that great thinky dystopian stuff.

On top of that, it’s a pretty great thriller. It’s not all moral philosophizing here. Trying to figure out what’s behind the scenes of Cloud is a wild ride, from both characters’ perspectives. The farther I got in the book, the harder it was for me to pause. And there were a couple of really big surprises.

All in all, this is a pretty remarkable book, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Review: Nancy’s Genius Plan by Olivia Jaimes

It’s possible that not all parents will appreciate Nancy’s Genius Plan. It probably depends largely on your child. Nancy’s plan is to sneak past everyone and eat her aunt’s cornbread. If you have a child predisposed to sneaking, this book may not be for you.

However, it’s an incredibly cute interactive board book. You have to shake the book and turn it upside down for the story to work. I don’t know about other children, but Middle Brother loves books like this. Also, he’s only a theatrical sneaker, so I’m not that worried about the storyline influencing him. If he’s sneaking, he wants us to see him do it.

Overall, I definitely recommend this book. It’s got simple, eye-catching illustrations and just the right amount of words for toddlers. It’s due to publish October 1st.

I was provided with an eARC free of charge by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review of this book.

In My Next Life, I’m Coming Back as a Dad

My husband and I, for our entire marriage, have worked different shifts. I work a traditional Monday through Friday, whereas he works Friday through Monday. This keeps us from needing fulltime daycare for our boys, but it means there are only three evenings a week we’re both home and awake. In general, this works well for our family.

Friday night, however, Husband comes home from work with some kind of stomach illness. The littler boys are already in bed, so we don’t have to worry about them getting exposed, which is nice. Saturday morning, Husband attempts to go in to work, but returns before the rest of the house has even awoken. He’s still sick to his stomach, and now he feels feverish. He stays locked in the bedroom, sleeping most of the day, protecting our boys from the illness. I grab wonton soup from the Chinese place (trust me, it’s perfect for a recovering stomach), ginger ale from the grocery store, I check on him throughout the day and generally let him rest. When he emerges, feeling better, I wash the sheets.

The following is not a criticism of my husband. It is a general vent about the way the world works.

I wake up in the middle of the night Saturday with the stomach illness. Shortly after the first bout, Little Brother needs to nurse. All in all, I get a few hours of interrupted sleep that night. Sunday morning, Husband wakes up, starts getting ready for work, asks in passing how I am. I tell him I’ve caught his illness. He says something like, “Hope you feel better,” then leaves for work. I have promised the boys donuts, so we go to the donut shop, upset tummy and all. The boys are exposed to all my germs, but what choice do I have? I nurse, play with the toddler, and talk to the teenager, all on very little sleep and feeling like hammered crap. No one runs to the store for me, no one brings me comfort food, and no one lets me sleep all day, although, thankfully, Middle Brother and Little Brother napped at the same time, allowing me a couple hours. Thanks to the nap, however, Middle Brother does not want to sleep at bedtime, and I end up falling in to bed not long before Husband gets home from work. He wakes me to ask what there is to eat.

From talking to married girlfriends, I know this is not at all uncommon. As women, we are much more likely to be the caretakers of our families, which leaves no one to take care of us when we need it. So, it is what it is. But in my next life, I’m definitely coming back as a dad.

Review: My First Yoga ABC by Teresa Anne Power

You haven’t really gotten to know me as a mom yet, so you may not know that I’m a scrunchy one. I’m all for natural childbirth if you can do it. I didn’t have time to choose for my last two, but big brother had to be induced and there was definitely an epidural. I like cloth diapers in theory, but as a working mom, don’t have time to deal with all that. I did baby-led weaning, rather than buying prepackaged baby foods.

I absolutely believe in teaching mindfulness and meditation from a young age, so that they’re always learning how to deal with tough emotions.

We read My First Yoga ABC for storytime last night. There is an illustration of a simple pose for each letter of the alphabet. We did the ones middle brother seemed particularly interested in, like butterfly. He’s obsessed with butterflies right now. His favorite, though, was zero. We got to the end of the book, and he kept doing it, then expecting me to do it, then doing it again, expecting me to, on and on. Let me tell you, zero really does elongate your spine. I needed it.

This is a cute, incredibly simple introduction to a meditation practice for little ones. There are all ethnicities represented in the illustrations, so every child will see themselves in there. We will definitely be adding it to our bedtime rotation.

Review: The Babysitter from Another Planet by Stephen Savage

Middle brother has been weird about storytime, lately. He says he wants to do stories, he spends a great deal of time picking out the book he wants, and then after the first page, he announces “The end,” and forcibly closes the book on me. He’s an active toddler, so this isn’t totally unexpected. I just keep offering.

Last night, however, we picked The Babysitter from Another Planet, and for the first time in weeks, he sat for a whole story. The illustrations are simple, but the juxtaposition of colors really draws the eye. The story is fun. Middle brother thought the alien looked like a robot, so I read the whole thing in my robot voice, which maybe helped hold his attention.

In addition to just the right amount of words for a smaller child’s attention span, the story also makes babysitters sound fun. We haven’t run into an issue with the younger boys not wanting to be left, yet, mostly because we leave them with family most of the time that we leave them at all, but I remember this being an issue for big brother when he was about 4. I like that this story plants the seed of the idea that even “scary” babysitters can be great if you give them a chance.

In mommy reading news, I have started Voyager, so expect only audiobook reviews of adult books in the near future. This 1,100 page monster is going to take me a while.

Review: The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

When I started hearing about all these “rom-coms”, I had mixed feelings. I love my romantic comedy films, so obviously I’m excited about those plots showing up in books again. My misgivings are based on the fact that these books used to be called “chick lit” and were mocked. I kind of hate any category title that invites people to pigeonhole another person’s reading and judge them for it. I don’t hate the category itself.

The Hating Game came to me by recommendation of Sophie Jordan (If you haven’t read her, you’re missing out. Check out her titles here.). Sophie has never steered me wrong on a book recommendation, so I picked it up, but then it sat on my shelf forever like so many books end up doing because I am always finding more books I want to read, working in a bookstore and all.

I wish I had read this book sooner. It was so much fun! I love the enemies-to-lovers trope (except in cases where they’re enemies because of some type of abuse done by one party to the other, but that’s another blog), and this book does it deliciously well. There’s a lot of heat, but not a ton of actual sex scenes. I particularly enjoy the build in my romance novels more than the actual event, so I loved this. It’s fun and funny, but the two main characters have real issues they have to work through to get to their HEA, and they are definitely not the problems you expect them to have. More than anything, I loved being surprised by the internal conflict in a romance novel. Congratulations to Sally Thorne for not going with stereotypes!

It felt good to get back into a contemporary romance novel, and I’m glad it was one so spectacular.

Review: How to Be a Family by Dan Kois

I am usually not much of a nonfiction reader, but how can a mom of three not read a book called How to Be a Family? Especially when the subtitle indicates world travel.

I wasn’t sure I’d love this one. I’ve read my fair share of parenting books with all their “shoulds” and been unimpressed, or worse, overwhelmed with mom guilt. This is not really a parenting book in the way we think of them.

Dan Kois’ family is unsatisfied for various reasons with how they are together. So he and his wife decide to take a leap, travel to four different locations around the world over the course of a year with very different approaches to family life, and try each respective approach on for size. This goes better in some places than others.

The audiobook is narrated by the author, which means you get all his intended inflections in the reading. He is funny. Maybe I just dig his particular humor personally, but I’d say it’s worth reading just for that.

I love that this is not a preachy, here’s-what-you’re-doing-wrong kind of book. The author, in fact, talks a lot about what he did wrong, with the benefit of retrospect. He discusses in detail the things he likes and dislikes about each location’s approach to parenting, but never suggests any of it is “wrong”. It’s a very not judgy sort of book.

I enjoyed this one from beginning to end, and was actually kind of sad when it was over. Will it greatly change the way I parent? Probably not. The most important message, for me, was to pay attention to how your family works and doesn’t, and be willing to change the “doesn’t” parts. It sure was a lot of fun getting to that message, though.