Review: Grown and Flown by Lisa Heffernan and Mary Dell Harrington

Big Brother is a sophomore in high school this year, and I think this is the perfect time to be reading Grown and Flown. If your child is older than that already, it’s still incredibly informative.

This book breaks down common issues we face as our children are preparing for and then leaving our homes. I like that it is segmented by issue, and not necessarily by timeline. I appreciate that they interview and reference a lot of experts, and don’t just claim to be experts themselves. I particularly enjoy that they discuss mental health through every aspect of the book, since as you know if your family has dealt with mental health, it comes up in everything.

What I liked most about this book is that all the chapters have lists of actionable items. There are personal stories and statistics, sure, but as a busy parent, having those lists of things to do is going to be invaluable as we start to face all these issues in our own home.

The one thing that kind of put me off is that while they mention the military, trade schools, and going straight to work as viable possibilities for young people, a lot of the book focused on what to do as a parent when your young adult goes to college. That’s fine; I know that’s the route most young people are taking now. But there weren’t even short chapters on what to do as a parent of a young person opting for one of the other routes. My teen (and I know this could change in the next couple of years) says he has no interest in college, and given his scholastic history, I believe him. He does not love school like I did, and even I ended up not going away to college. It would have been nice to see a short chapter on what we do as parents in those situations. On the other hand, there’s a whole Facebook group where I’m sure those things are discussed, so I guess I can get feedback there.

Overall, I enjoyed it, and I definitely feel more prepared for this fast-approaching stage. If you have a teen getting ready to fly the nest, this book is for you.

An ARC of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Mom Pride

Little Brother thus far has gotten something neither of his elder brothers did: a purely breastmilk diet. Due to circumstances beyond my control with each of them, they were given formula bottles in the hospital. Big Brother never learned to latch properly, so I pumped what I could and he got formula for the rest. Middle Brother moved to exclusively breastmilk within the first week, but then my supply lessened and we had to supplement again around six months.

I am completely supportive of any feeding choice any mother makes for any reason. As long as your baby is thriving, you’re doing great, Mama! This is not a “breast is best” post.

However, because of the plethora of posts and articles and random unsolicited opinions of strangers of the “breast is best” variety, I did have some mom guilt with my first two sons. I was shocked to realize that with the success of breastfeeding so far with this one, I am feeling a weird amount of mom pride, a thing we hear much less about.

When we talk about proud moms, we’re usually talking about them being proud of their children. We hear “mom guilt” and “mom shaming” constantly, in real life and on the internet, but not a whole lot about “mom pride”. In fact, this realization while nursing this morning that I’m proud I’ve been able to single-handedly provide the complete diet of a rapidly growing human for three and a half months was the first time in sixteen years as a mother I was aware of being proud of myself as a mom.

I feel like, for me, if I can focus more on what I’m proud of myself for, and less on what I feel guilty about, as a mom, I will be a better mother for my boys. I will be happier with myself, and that will reflect in every interaction with them. They won’t grow up hearing me mutter to myself about all the things I’ve messed up today. They’ll learn from modeling that it’s appropriate to tell yourself you’re doing a good job. I’d love to see a cultural shift towards this idea that as moms we generally have way more to be proud of than feel guilty for, and we should live as if that’s true.

What brings out your mom pride?

Random Thoughts of an Admittedly Sleep-Deprived Mom

This is not a sleeping baby. This is a baby that should be sleeping but is enjoying tummy time, instead. While my not sleeping baby was on his tummy, I got to looking at his head. Why is it that the hair grows long in some places and almost not at all in others? When does this even out? And, more importantly, when do I stop noticing these things, so it evens out like it has in Middle Brother, and certainly Big Brother, without remark?

Big Brother is a teen and, as such, seems to enjoy less attention being paid. Middle Brother is still giving us firsts every day, so I do notice those. But I don’t sit in rapt attention to either of the elder brothers the way I was just now with Little Brother, and now that I’m aware of it, it makes me sad.

I am going to make an effort going forward to really look at all my boys. I want all three of them to feel as they grow into men that I really see them. I want to have really seen them become who they will be. Because, one day, my life will be mostly the three billion books and not so much the three boys, and I don’t want to feel like I missed out on any of it.

Review: What We Talk About When We Talk About Books by Leah Price

Like most crazy book people, I love a good book on books. I love cozy mysteries set in the book world, like Buried in Books. I love books about book clubs, like The Dirty Book Club. I even like literary fiction with outright and so hidden you might not have noticed them if the author hadn’t pointed them out to you allusions to Ulysses, like The Sixteenth of June. So, of course, when given the opportunity to listen to an ALC of What We Talk About When We Talk About Books, I jumped at it.

I’d love to say that I recommend this book for everyone, because I feel so informed by it, but I can’t. Not everyone will enjoy this book. I didn’t really enjoy this book. But, as this book talks about, not all books are for enjoying. Who I do recommend this book for are other crazy book people. Also, anyone who wants an incredibly thorough response next time someone tells them books are dying.

I listened to this as an audiobook. I wish I’d gotten a print version. Given that much of this title is about how changing forms are still “books”, I see the irony. But given the massive amount of information it contains, it might have been nice to be able to highlight and make notes. (Yes, I am that kind of book-defacing monster.) The narrator is good, though.

I don’t know what I expected from this. I don’t usually read synopses of my advanced copies. What I got, though, was a lot of knowledge about book history and literary criticism. I learned a lot of things I didn’t know about when and why reading was considered dangerous, and the reasons some people claim one form of book is better than another. Given my recent reading in three forms, it was certainly timely.

I am glad I read this. It’s incredibly thorough and informative. If you are obsessed with books, this one’s for you.

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.