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Reading, February/March 2017

This year has me wanting to consume all the media, all the podcasts, all the blogs and books and news and music and theater and audiobooks – looking for… answers, comfort, solutions, hope, the silver lining.

And at this point a lot of that media and art consumption is half-finished. But the best of it is worth passing along. And instead of a bunch of social media posts, here are some links all in one place:

50 Things We Learned About Feeding Kids in the Past Six Years  (by a couple of my favorite food writers)

Hands Free Mama This book and blog are helping me along my journey of less time looking at my phone, more time being a present parent. I hate how much time my phone steals from me, and it’s a hard habit to break. The tips and worldview of this book are practical and helpful. What moments are you missing when you’re looking at a screen?

The Pushcart War – this is one of my husband’s childhood favorites, but I’d never read it. I’m reading along now as he reads it to our kindergartner – it is the perfect thing to read for this moment of resistance, persistence, and sticking up for each other.

Dear Warren – The Gates Foundation’s Annual Letter  – Read this to feel better about the world and the progress being made. The Gates Foundation has had an incredible impact on advances in medicine and public health around the world.

Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls – I’ve been recommending this book to everyone. Our dear friend Julia gave this book to Evelyn for Christmas and we all love it. Accessible, one-page stories about all types of women from all periods of history in all different fields, accompanied by dynamic illustrations.

The Four Tendencies quiz – I’ve mentioned before that I’m a big fan of Gretchen Rubin’s writing (and podcast) on happiness. She put together a short but helpful quiz to help you figure out your tendency when it comes to habits and life. Learning about my tendency has been really helpful when I think about setting up habits and goals (I’m an Obliger).

The most charming Instagram account there ever was.

 

 

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To Start the Year

Here are some things I’m reading, listening to, and doing to start the year – and to prepare for what’s ahead:

The Tail End. If you need a reminder that time is precious, this is it. I plan to reread it every few months. (via Maggie Mason.)

Happier With Gretchen Rubin. I really like this podcast, and Rubin’s books. Small, concrete ways to hone in on the things that make for a happier life. Learning about “The 4 Tendencies” and how your tendency shapes your habit-forming is a game-changer.

The Good Mother Myth.  I’m finally getting around to reading this on my kindle. This is the perfect read for this moment in my life when I’m really trying to figure out what makes me and my family happy, rather than what the blogs/Pinterest/Instagram/magazines say I should be doing. The essays on motherhood here are honest and real – it’s a refreshing read.

Design Mom – the book. I reread this all the time. I love Gabrielle Blair’s approach to setting up family spaces, thinking about your home, and making your home work for your family.

Resolved: Be Good…Most of the Time (This post is a good January reminder. You should also read Jenny’s books. Her approach to food and family is excellent.)

Top Mighty Girl Books on:

Raising Race Conscious Children I want to do more and better on this front.

 

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2017. Resolved.

I abandoned this space in 2016, but I’m reclaiming it in 2017.

And, in 2017:

Presence.

I will use screens for creating, not just staring and scrolling and wasting time. And I’ll create in other ways. Overall, I will be more prolific.

I will enjoy my home as it is now, and use it for things I enjoy doing: reading, playing with my kids, spending time with my husband, yoga, writing, gathering friends and family. More looking out the window. More sitting by the fire. More cozying up to read. It’s fun to plan out projects and decorate, and there’s a time for organizing and cleaning and decluttering, but I miss simply *being* in my home. I get so focused on making my home into the space I want it to be that I rarely just stop and enjoy it as it is. In 2017, that is changing.

More of the things that make me a happier/more alive person: More sleep. More movement (and make sure it’s the kind I enjoy). More real food. More fun.

Be the change, and do that as a family.

Here’s to a beautiful year of being here. Of showing our children what’s important and how we’re going to raise them in a 2017 world. Here’s to a year of showing up.

 

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elsewhere

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted here, but you can check out some things I’ve written recently for All Over Albany and ZLiving:

18518445234_feba39d9fe_oOn Zliving:

Podcasts for Kids: Learning, Imagination, and Quiet Time Magic

Real Food Without Fuss: Easy Daycare Lunch Ideas

How To Create Outdoor Play Spaces For Healthy Kids

On All Over Albany:

Apartment Living in Downtown Albany

Erica and Christian’s Albany Sears Kit Home

Living with kids in a Center Square row house

Checking out Huck Finn’s Playland

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To Evelyn, Who is Three

These are the kinds of posts that I both love writing, and have been avoiding sharing in this space. But I’ve decided that  I’m going to share what’s in my brain right now, and that happens to be a lot of stuff about this child, the child on the way, life right now and all the changes on the horizon.  

rainywondergirl

You are three. You are spunky. Funny. Smart. Thoughtful. Bold. Stubborn. Laughing. Screaming. Running. Concentrating.

You make me better, you frustrate me, you make me laugh, you inspire me, you drive me bonkers, you fill me with love.

Your favorite things to do: sing, play in the dirt, read books, draw, paint, talk, dance. You are very serious about and committed to your favorite color, which has been blue since you knew what a favorite color was. (I admit: I enjoy the times when we have to correct someone who assumes you want the pink version of whatever they’re offering.)

You could listen to Fleetwood Mac’s Secondhand News on repeat all day. You tell people that your favorite songs are Fleetwood Mac, Lucius, and Hey Lolly (yes, two of those are bands and not songs. You’re figuring it out.).

You are fiercely independent when you want to be. And other times, you just need mommy or daddy.

This morning you told me that when you are a grown up you want to be a mommy. And a doctor. And maybe a lion (because you already have a lion costume).

You are full of love. You already love your new sibling, and talk about how you’ll take care of the baby, and tell us how the baby is part of our nightly family hug. Today you told me that there are four people in our family: mommy, daddy, Evy, and the new baby. You may reject that notion at some point, but right now I’m pretty amazed at your open heart.

You are happiest when you are around people, watching people, hugging people.  Earlier this spring we tried to take you to a planetarium show. When the lights started to go down you got upset- not because you were afraid of the dark, but because “I can’t see the people! When it’s dark I can’t see the people!”  When we took the train to New York City in November your favorite part wasn’t watching the Hudson River as we traveled south, it was watching everyone else on the train. You want to embrace the world in a giant bear hug (and we’ve been working on asking people before doling out hugs – not everyone is ready for your affection just yet).

paintA few months ago you moved from the toddler room to the preschool class at daycare, where you have soaked up everything. We love your teacher, who focuses on creating a community of “peace, love, and friendship.”  You have learned how to write your name and you love to sign it on everything you can. At school you have grown flowers, watched caterpillars become butterflies, and helped take care of the class frogs and turtle. You are the littlest one right now, and that can be tough. But your teachers help you and the others, and you’ve made new friends and found your place, all while marching to the beat of your own drum.

You are so grown up and still so little.  Sometimes we forget that you are still so little, and expect too much. But you remind us. You are three. You will be a messy eater, you will cry and throw tantrums, you will beg for dessert, you will take an hour to get dressed, you will not be rushed, you will experience everything in a big way.

I love watching you play, and seeing the places your imagination takes you. In the morning, we turn on the television while I brush your hair, and that 15 minutes of Daniel Tiger or Super Why is usually the only TV time of the day.  Your imagination is so much better than anything you’d stare at on the screen. You play doctor, mommy, daycare, work, mail, superhero and restaurant. You put on shows. You take trips to Florida, you ride the train and the bus around town. You make cakes and dinners in the sandbox. You have a class of imaginary children that you are oh so in charge of.

My wish for you is that you always have the sense of self that you have right now. Hold on to your creativity, your independence, your spark. Your eyes actually shine with that Evy energy.  I promise you, Daddy and I will do everything we can to protect that spunky spark that lights you up.

As with every stage and every age, I try to soak up every bit of You at Three. It feels even more amplified right now, though. Because soon my attention will be divided between you and your sibling. Our family is growing, our love will grow, there will be even more life and energy and chaos in our house.  So, right now, I am doing my best to be present with you, to focus on what you’re like right now, to spend time being together. Things are going to change, and it will be both awesome and hard. But I know that both of our hearts will grow, that we both have so much love to give to our family.

swinging

 

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the questions we ask our daughters

snowWe go to the dentist office, and she’s asked who her favorite princess is.

At a visit to the pediatrician, the doctor looks in her ear and asks if Cinderella is in there.

At another appointment, a doctor tells her that all of the stickers left are “boy stickers” and that she’ll go get “some princess and Barbie stickers.” (Both of these doctors were women.)

She’s asked if her favorite color is pink, they are sure she must love pink.  (“No, blue. Blue is my favorite!” she says.)

It’s not that I think princesses or pink are bad, and I know that plenty of little girls love them – there’s a good chance she will one of these days, too.

It’s just that my daughter is so much more.

She loves being read to – Madeline, Harold & the Purple Crayon, The Snowy Day,  Pete the Cat, Olivia, Lowly Worm.

She loves painting and drawing and building tall towers out of blocks and Legos.

She loves playing with her dolls, taking care of her “teeny tiny babies”  and “cooking” in her play kitchen.

She loves dancing, throwing balls, playing train, helping me bake, telling stories, and dancing.

But not many people ask her about what she likes. (And believe me, she’d tell them. She has so much to talk about.) They just take a guess -and that guess usually has to do with princesses or Barbie.  What message is she hearing?

I know that it can be hard and weird to make conversation with a toddler.

But I think we can all ask the children around us better questions, boys and girls. When you do, you’ll hear all kinds of awesome things come out of their mouths.

Ask them what books they like.

What do they like to play with at home? What do they play with at school?

What do they like to do in the snow?

Have they drawn any pictures lately? What colors did they use?

Our children are people, and they all like different things. They have stories to tell, things to share. I would never assume I know what an adult likes just because of their gender – our kids deserve the same respect.

(And, for the record, she took a Spiderman sticker that day at the doctor’s office, and wouldn’t take it off all day. She thinks spider man catches spiders…)

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here & now….. and in about 5 months

It would be funny if I followed up that last post  – about enjoying the moment we’re in  – with a post about a big change coming to our family, wouldn’t it?

We’re expecting baby #2 in late July.

I thought a change like this would throw me into a spin about things we need and don’t have. But I’ve managed to stay firmly in this spot, this here and now. I’m happy to enjoy the time and place we’re in, to make space for a new member of our family within the home and life that we have. 

I know that, just like the first time around, things will change in ways we can’t anticipate- in hard ways and awesome ways.

And, while we wait, we get the pleasure of our almost-3-year-old’s commentary on the whole “baby in mommy’s belly” business. Some recent gems:

  • “Is that lump right there the baby?” (pointing to my expanding midsection)
  • “I can help with a lot of things, but I can’t help get that baby out of you.”
  • “I’ll take care of the baby when mommy and daddy go out. I’ll give her a bottle and put her to bed.”

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