Shorts and Scrolling

I was doing ok when this pandemic started.  I love nature, and I live in a part of the country where it is accessible.  I am creative at coming up with activities for my 2.5 y/o daughter.  I was embracing the crazy. But after 90+ days of this shutdown/quarantine/social-distancing whatever you want to call it I’m realizing that I’m not doing that well.  In the past week or so, the time I spend mindlessly scrolling through social media has increased exponentially.  Facebook is extremely effective at providing ads that interest me, so I have also done quite a bit of online shopping, or rather, browsing.  I haven’t actually bought very much, but I have spent HOURS looking at funny punny t-shirts (snorg tees), looking for the best Anti-Racist/Black Lives matter themed t-shirt design that would work on a purple background (because I want a purple t-shirt) (teepublic), and shopping for the best pair of shorts that isn’t made in a sweatshop because I want to be a responsible consumer lately.

This morning I became aware that I was taking notes and doing research on how to make instant ramen in a jar after watching an episode of Naidya Hussein’s “Time to Eat” last night on Netflix.  Why oh why can’t I just pick one recipe and make it?  Why do I have to look through several and then come up with my own that uses ingredients that make sense for me and my family and won’t be a pain to prepare and won’t require cooking tools that I don’t have? Why do I have to optimize the experience of everything?  The THREE PLUS hours I spent shopping for shorts for example.  In three hours I could have done a lot – invested in continuing ed related to my profession, organized several shelves and boxes of accumulated stuff, written a letter, watched a documentary or a comedy, or simply read a good book.  But no no no, I was researching clothing companies in detail.  Some appear to be (according to my findings) completely sweatshop free and environmentally friendly (Pact and Everlane for example) but they don’t seem to have a style I like or are all sold out.  Others provide high quality clothing (athleta) or have styles that I like (amazon) but probably pollute or take advantage of their workers.  In the end I settled on Prana, because although all their clothes aren’t technically “free trade certified” they are conscious of their factories and where and how the clothes are being made, AND they have a great selection of styles that seem like they will work for my life.  I also like LLBean for similar reasons but I was turned off after I received 2 shirts from them – size small—but so billowy and unflattering for me.

Long story short (PUN INTENDED) the shorts are ordered and I’m not even sure they are the right size so I emailed to ask them to change the order to a bigger size (because what’s worse than flashing unsuspecting toddler moms/having shorts ride up your crotch?).  I also, while quadruple checking the sizing, found a different style and was like, shoot, I should have ordered those.  But I’m gonna stick with it.  STOOOPPPP looking at shorts, self!!

This morning, after almost an hour of mindless scrolling, I was off on a new track – the Instant Ramen in a jar!  I watched the video! I took notes! Like it was a school project!

GAAAAAH. STOP.

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I wrote this last week because when I stopped taking notes on the different types of flavorings I could add to my jar of noodles, I realized, this is hilarious.  So I wrote this post.

I mean, is anyone really doing ok right now?  I doubt it. Is anyone out there “living their best life” despite the circumstances?  I like to keep these posts positive, so I’ll say, hey, I hope you are.  But maybe you, like me, are grieving, are procrastinating, are so drained by filling your days and entertaining your absolutely beautiful and sweet child, that every time you get a minute, you can’t bring yourself to do much more than scroll.  If you are wondering, how do we move forward from here? Just know that you are not alone.

And if you want to talk about sustainable clothing, please feel free to hit me up.

Quarantine Rant #1: Pants with a Belt

hi Everyone.

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Living her best quarantine life.

This has been a rough week. I am sick of all this, and so are you. I mean, actually, I am, fortunately, NOT sick.  Just sick-n-tired.

So today, I said, F-you, COVID-19.  Yeah.  Sometimes the F-bomb is therapeutic.  Sorry, parental units.  I’m still going to abbreviate it here, to keep this all PG.

On clothing:

I am wearing pants with a belt right now because I can.  These pants were hanging in my closet to preserve their post-dryer, low-wrinkle state so I could wear them to work.  I haven’t been to work since March 16.  It’s April 10th.  These are my favorite pants and I’m F-ing wearing them. I don’t care what anyone thinks.

I’m also really glad that they still fit.

On Exercise:

Yoga

The first few weeks I was like, “hey, this isn’t too bad, I really like my ashtanga yoga practice right now, and this will force me to do it at home, and then by the time this quarantine is over, I’ll be so freekin’ disciplined!!!!!!”  During the 2nd week, my backbends were bangin’ and I could get myself up from my version of kapotasana without doing a weird collapse-y thingy.  Beginning of week 3, my back was feeling really tight on the left.  Today my left glut hurt… oh shoot…. Textbook sciatica!  NOOOOOOO I don’t want to mess up my back, especially not right now!  So I’ve done a bunch of foam rolling and some lying on the floor doing core exercises while watching The Daily [Social Distancing] Show, and, just as expected, my core is weak as F.

Today my alarm went off for Ashtanga time, and I was like, “ugh.  This again?!?!”  The novelty has worn off.  I’m reading the Eddie Stern “One Simple Thing” book for yoga book club, and he mentions that there should be some level of joy in every yoga pose.  I’ve felt all sorts of joy in all sorts of weird-ass postures, but today, as I climbed out of bed, I felt no joy.  Not even a little bit.  And I just didn’t have the strength to walk downstairs joylessly and do my practice joylessly.

Days off are fine.  I usually don’t do Ashtanga every day anyway, because it wears out my wrists and I don’t want to F them up either.  So instead, I joyfully went back to bed and slept until 9:30am.  I woke up and did the things that felt good and right.  Made a smoothie with Maia.  Made muffins with Maia.  Wished Brian’s mom a virtual happy birthday.  Drank 2 cups of green tea – how healthy and yoga-ish is that!?!?  And I found I wasn’t that tired during Maia’s nap, and since lying on the couch and reading is likely contributing to my back issues, I skipped it and did a workout video instead.  Swiss ball core exercises, from my days of yore favorite, Tania Djelevic.  Now I’m eating an F-ing salad.  Wearing my pants, belt, and favorite T-shirt.  So, COVID-19 can suck it.

So, people of the world, as my favorite podcast hosts say often, its good do something every day that makes you feel like a self.  Even on the craziest of mom-life days, I like to put on my favorite necklace, and drink some tea, and at least chew some gum.  So, do whatever that is for you.  Today, I put on pants and a belt.  (Take THAT, COVID!).

 

 

Interview with Mini-Me

Found this interview on Facebook and decided it would be fun to do during this time of serious news.  Please do it with your kids and share it with me!  It also seems like a great way to summarize their current “phase” of life.  I’ve never been able to sit down an write those “Dear Child, today you are X years old” posts.  So here’s this.

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At Claude Moore Park. It’s hard to pee in the woods in this outfit…

Ask your child these questions and write their EXACT response.

  1. What’s your name? “Maia”
  2. How old are you? “Two”
  3. How old is your mommy? Maia: “How old are you?” Me: “Thirty-eight… six… thirty-six!” (Seems she has an easier time remembering her age than I do).
  4. What’s your favorite color? “Pink”
  5. What’s your favourite food? “Carrots.” (She thinks she’s a bunny and actually only eats carrots sometimes).
  6. Who’s your best friend? “Nolan.” (We usually see Nolan multiple times a week. We miss him, and his family so so so much. Parenting isn’t nearly as fun without them.).
  7. What’s your favorite song? “Let it Go.” (WHAT is it about this song? She was HOOKED after watching the youtube video of it with her friend Nolan’s Dad after two slightly older little girls were singing it at the park. Now she tells our Alexa to play it during her nap, and sings it in the middle of the night).
  8. What would you like to watch on TV? “Super Wings.” (An easy show on netflix featuring talking planes.  The episodes are about 12 minutes).
  9. What’s your favourite animal? “Bunnies.” (We have been making lots of “bunny houses” for her 7 stuffed bunnies. She is all about bunnies. I guess this means that at some point in our future, we may have to own a pet rabbit. I’d love to have one because they are super soft and cute, but I’ve also heard that they poop constantly. Tips welcome).
  10. What makes you happy? I had to clarify this question: What do you like to do? “Build a tent.” (We have been… one in her bedroom, one in the living room).
  11. Where’s your favorite place to go? “Claude Moore Park.” We have attempted to replace our friends with nature, and now go to parks several times a week.
  12. What do you want to be when you grow up? I had to clarify again, What do you want to do when you are big like mommy and daddy? “Sit on the potty!” (We finally received her “big girl undies” from Amazon yesterday.  She made me take her picture with them.  She is very proud, and so are we.  People always talk about first steps and first words, and those things are great, but first poop on the potty?  Huge milestone, in my opinion… Literally).
  13. What does mom do all day? “Pee in the woods.” (Like I said… we go to parks several times a week now).
  14. what are you scared of? (“What did you say? What am I scared of?” She is confused by the question and doesn’t know what fear is, although today at the park she learned that I am scared of aggressive geese.)
  15. Where does money come from? “The bank” (I have no idea how she knows this).
  16. Where did you come from? “From Mommy’s belly.” (You speak the truth, child).

Bluebells, 2020

Yesterday morning was cloudy and damp, but I managed to get myself and my toddler out the door and drove to Bull Run Park to see the bluebells.  I went the wrong way once. Maia enjoyed watching construction vehicles at the 28/66 interchange. We reached the parking lot (with few cars, thankfully) and I loaded her in the ergo so we could make it to the bluebells before she asked to explore.  Carrying a 2.5 yr old in an ergo is a lot different from carrying a baby. I walked gingerly over bridges and tree roots. My hips felt the compression but I forged on, telling Maia, “hmmm, this is further than I thought.” (It wasn’t far).  Finally, we made it to the waters edge and were surrounded by bluebells, several in bloom, several still budding, not yet at their peak, but so, so beautiful.  I released the toddler and felt a weight lift.

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I have visited the bluebells along the Bull Run-Occoquan trail every year since 2015. A few days ago, in the midst of this national crisis, I realized that it was about time for the bluebells to bloom.  I’ve been enjoying the signs of early spring: flowering trees, several of which are already starting to transition to green, the tiny buds on our maple trees in the front yard, the shoots of old-faithful perennial lilies and irises, again stepping into service in our back garden.  All these things that are beautiful without requiring any tending.

I don’t usually plan my bluebell trip, I just see the signs around me and I suddenly remember, Its TIME, and I go.  I often gather up someone I love to go with me, and this year, I shared it with my daughter.  Almost every day lately we have been playing in the woods, in the spring mud.  She always says she doesn’t want to go, but I come up with something to motivate her (yesterday I included her in the process of choosing snacks and a story to read during snack time in the woods).  Usually she turns out to be quite the little hiker, though her pace varies as she admires puddles, finds a “fishing stick,” and inspects footprints of all types.  We’ve been doing well at “social distancing” along trails lately, and we only saw a handful of people there.  We waved as we passed each other from a safe distance, and exchanged pleasantries about how nice it was to be outside (even on a rather damp, cool, and cloudy day).

Though I love so many things about spring, the bluebells have had a special significance to me since 2015 when I stumbled upon their peak bloom by accident.  More than any of the other signs of spring, the bluebells have come to symbolize joy and hope.  They keep on going, keep on being beautiful in their own simple way, no matter the circumstance.

Embrace the Crazy

Plans have been cancelled.  School is cancelled.  Life, as we know it, has been cancelled.  I am certainly feeling a little bit crazy.  Since Super Tuesday, when I lost hope for politics, I have been feeling down, not because of anything going on in MY life, but because of what is going on in the world.  Obviously, the situation is unprecedented, and we are all feeling it.  I’m bummed.  I love my life, and our activities and community are a huge part of it.  After having some social anxiety in the past, being around people  and connecting with others sustains me.  But now, it is time for social distancing.  This goes against everything I’ve been working for.

What to do?  I am not sick, but I sure do worry that I could be carrying the virus, since I have close contact with people due to my work, and due to having a 2 year old.  It’s time to embrace the craziness.  Today, instead of going to my usual yoga class, I’m going to take advantage of an opportunity to practice from my home with a live-streamed class.  Several yoga instructors are offering opportunities to do this.  This, honestly, may not seem like a big deal, but at a time when there isn’t a lot to bring us together, this is something I’m happy I can be a part of.  I’ve been reaching out to people via phone and text, and though that is no substitute, it is something. I do have hope that this craziness is temporary, and that in a few months we will all come back together, and maybe appreciate it even more.

One Book You Don’t Want to Miss

The Loudoun County Public Library has become one of my favorite places since Maia was a baby.  Sterling library is a social hub for stay at home parents –  we have made the majority of our new mom/kid friends through library story time and the librarians know us by sight. We used to go several times a week, and though our frequency has decreased since Maia started her mini-preschool, it is still one of our favorite places to be.  We check out books for Maia and books for me.  Books are a vital part of both of our lives, as I can hardly fall asleep without reading first, and Maia would pick reading over pretty much any other activity.

The Loudoun library offers a 1book 1community program yearly (and gives out free copies of a book), but this is the first time I’ve taken advantage.  I just read this year’s book: Jarrett Krosoczka’s graphic memoir, Hey, Kiddo.  I love to read memoirs and I especially love graphic memoirs. In this book, Jarrett goes in depth regarding his childhood with an unorthodox family situation and his relationship with his mother who was addicted to heroin.  Jarrett is an excellent story teller through both his words and pictures, and he is bravely vulnerable, in a way that Brene Brown would approve.  I can relate deeply to his story, as could anyone who survived a loss during their upbringing.  Be warned though, this book may inspire you to write your own graphic memoir about your childhood memories (and I hope it does so I can read it!). I really really want to do that now, however, I can’t draw.  So that’s a minor problem.

I am so so thankful that he shared his story, and I want to share the book with all the teens I know, especially the artistic ones.  He reminds me how precious our memories are, especially when they are memories of people we have lost.

I just did some online digging on Jarrett, viewed his TED Talk, and put copies of 4 of his children’s books on hold at the library so Maia and I can enjoy them together.  Thank you Jarrett, and thank you Loudoun County Public Library!

I Tried and I’m Tired

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“Tried” becomes “Tired”

I never hesitate to praise the value of napping.  I napped excessively during pregnancy.  Even recently, I usually nap at the same time as my 2 year old – around 2-4pm EVERY DAY.  After a morning of toddler life, I recline on the couch with a book and read until I fall asleep.  If I have an hour and a half, I can enjoy a luscious nap and a bit of reading.  My kitty, Amber, comes and naps with me.  Then I wake up, often to an alarm, and, 3x a week, go to work for the evening.

If you know me, you also might know that I haven’t slept well at night for quite some time.  Since Maia started sleeping through the night when she was 5 months old, I just kept waking up, even though my services were no longer needed.  I was often hungry, so I would get a snack; ideally one I could eat while in a supine position, and read in bed.  Brian would turn on his side away from the light and often put the covers over his head.  I’d be up for about an hour, sometimes more.

So, about a year ago, I asked my doctor about sleep meds, and she proscribed one.  I was nervous about taking it while nursing, and then I was worried about being too groggy to practice yoga in the morning, so I often just took half a pill, or took a full pill when I knew I needed to get up for something in particular, like a quarterly Saturday morning when I had to work.  Nights when I went without, I was up even longer than an hour.  My nightly wake-up wasn’t particularly distressing.  I was reading books and enjoying them, not worrying at night, and then I recouped my sleep hours with my daily nap.  It wasn’t ideal, but I didn’t have a lot of motivation or energy to try to change anything.  It was not ideal, but it was functional.  It was “working.”

Last week, though, I decided I was done with it. My motivation?  My yoga practice.  Days when I could get up in the morning to practice were great days.  I was doing postures in the Ashtanga primary series that I never imagined would be accessible to me, and actually enjoying them.  I felt good about myself because I was exercising.  I wanted to feel that way every day, or at least several times a week.  I had tried having a half cup of coffee in the morning, and a full Starbucks Grande Vanilla Latte of deliciousness; even when caffeinated, I still wanted, and took the nap.

Last week I made a plan: Meditate before bed to calm down.  Meditation is supposed to help, right? I did it for a few days, just for about 10 minutes.  It was a nice was to wind down, but I would still wake up in the middle of the night.  I had never had a problem falling asleep, my problem was staying asleep.  So I started taking a whole pill.

UGH.  Sleep medication. I didn’t want to take it.  I do yoga.  I have a great life. I thought I should be able to crack this on my own.  But the truth was, I had tried, I had been trying for so long, and I was TIRED, quite literally.  In a late series episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (a show which Brian and I enjoy) the main character finally starts taking medication to manage her borderline personality disorder.  Her shrink said something like, “You’ve been doing so much work on your own, you’ve been trying, but you are tired, and this will help you.” Actually, I’m not sure who said it, but that was the general theme of the episode.  While watching it, I was like, “WHAT?!?! She’s not on medication yet?!?!  She hasn’t been on medication this whole time?!?!”

Then, I looked at myself.  I take antidepressant medication, and have been doing so for the past 3 years. If you have questions about my journey with depression and anxiety, I will gladly answer them.  I am a walking advertisement for Zoloft, and I should probably see if the company who makes it will sponsor this blog.  Before I started medication, I had done therapy many times, including several months of weekly therapy with an excellent therapist in 2015-16.  I had made progress, but it took a lot of work, every single day.  Once I started the Zoloft in 2016, everything fell into place finally, in a way that I couldn’t activate without the medication.  Now, my current issue was sleep.  I had been trying on my own for almost 2 years.  It wasn’t working.  I couldn’t do it.  I had tried essential oils, no caffeine, some caffeine, getting exercise during the day.  It wasn’t working.  Sure, there was probably more I could do, but really, I couldn’t do more.  It just was not going to happen.  What can happen, I realized, is that I can start taking the medication as directed (which is actually “Take 1-2 pills nightly at bedtime.”)

So, I’ve started taking one pill nightly.  I take it about ½ hour before I want to be in bed, and continue to fall asleep without any problem. The first night, I still woke up at 4am and took an hour to fall back to sleep, so I turned off my yoga alarm and slept until 8:30.  This was last Friday. I took Maia to her forest play group in the morning, we ate lunch at the park, and I put her down for her nap by 2pm.  My nap couch beckoned.  Amber the cat jumped on the coffee table, and looked at me expectantly.  Outside the sun was shining gently, and my deck had a nice shade cover.  I said, “I’m sorry kitty,” and I went outside and practiced, managing to complete the full Ashtanga primary series.  That day the fresh air, the view of the trees, and the mindful movement did me good, as it always does, and I had no problem staying awake for the rest of the day.

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Afternoon outdoor practice.

I decided then to continue taking a full pill and do my best to avoid my afternoon nap.  I am also following typical advice regarding sleep, which is outlined in this excellent article (scroll down the page for nice bullet points). I’m trying to wake and go to bed at the same time every day, get exposure to natural light, avoid caffeine after lunch, and avoid alcohol right before bed.

After the success of the first day, I slept through the night and on the second day, I practiced in the morning. During “naptime” I sat outside on the deck and read, which was relaxing and lovely, but I found myself quite sleepy.  I was guessing that Maia would wake soon, so I went upstairs, but ended up falling asleep on the floor of Brian’s office for about 30 luxurious minutes.  Oops. The third day, I decided I needed to move during nap time instead of just sitting, so I tinkered in the yard, “harvesting” some compost, adding some soil to my plants and picking some tomatoes.  And the 4th day, yesterday, I dropped off several boxes of donations (the result of my January “Marie Kondo-ing”) , went to the grocery store, and prepped a meal for dinner.  Then, around 5pm, I cooked this dinner for my family, AND THEY ATE IT, and mostly liked it (even though I used store-bought teriyaki sauce and it was salty as f#$&).

I can’t even remember the last time I cooked dinner for my family.  Or did the grocery shopping. Or, frankly, felt like a productive member of the household.  Usually I do my part to take care of Maia, take care of myself, try not to make disgusting messes, and manage to go to work and complete my notes 3 days a week.  Brian keeps the house clean, does the majority of the laundry (though I do manage to help occasionally), shopping, and cooking.

But now??  You know how everyone wishes for 2 more hours in the day?  Well, I ACTUALLY HAVE 2 MORE HOURS in my day now!  And, I have managed to practice in the morning for the past 3 days!!  I feel pretty amazing. I am drinking a caffeinated tea or about 4 oz of coffee in the morning.  Today, I actually felt a little tired so I drank both.  Today is the test – I have to work this evening, so I will have to be productive.  But based on the last 2 days, when I was very productive without having to be, I can’t imagine it will be a problem. It’s naptime now, and here I sit, publishing this post.

It’s a work in progress.  Yes, of course, I don’t want to take sleep meds forever. I am already temped to stop and see how it goes, but I’m going to give it a bit longer, get my mojo back, and then consider weaning off after a few weeks or more of success – depending on how I feel.  I’ll also probably ask my doctor what she thinks.  But I just wanted to report this recent struggle and tenuous success, to share it with you so you know that even though I might look like I have my s&^# together most of the time, I look that way because my husband does like, everything at home. So there.

How about you?  What are you working on?

By the way, have you seen my interview post on yoginikeys.com?  When you stop by, check out her other amazing posts about yoga-ing, mom-ing, and living.

Easy Homemade Granola

Since last December I have been making homemade granola. My food-savvy friend Jessika gave me the idea and showed me how easy it was! I gave some away as Christmas gifts and got lots of positive feedback. With a few basic guidelines from Jessika and after consulting a few online recipes, (and baking many, many batches) I have developed this recipe. Homemade granola has become a staple of my diet and I now make it almost every week. I used to eat lots of Life cereal as a dessert/snack before bed (breast feeding really kicks up your appetite) but now I just eat this and have stopped buying the cereal. It’s delicious and I have the satisfaction of knowing exactly what the ingredients are. And those ingredients are all natural, real food, which gives me yogi-hipster-y satisfaction.

Easy Homemade Granola

1. Whisk together in bottom of large mixing bowl:

1/2 cup coconut oil (I usually heat it for a few seconds in the microwave to liquefy it before trying to mix it in)

1/2 cup honey or maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4-1/3 tsp salt

After whisking the above, I pre-heat our oven to 300 degrees.

Also cover a cookie sheet (one with sides, not a completely flat one) with parchment paper.

2. Add to mixing bowl:

3 cups oats

1 cup desiccated or shredded dried unsweetened coconut

Raw/unsweetened chopped nuts. I use:

1 cup walnuts, chopped (we buy whole walnuts from Costco so I measure out a cup and then chop them. If you buy the walnuts already chopped you might use slightly less than 1 cup)

1 cup pre-sliced almonds

Mix all ingredients together. I can usually get away with just using a large metal spoon and not getting my hands all sticky.

 

Spread mixture evenly across the cookie sheet.

Bake in pre-heated oven for about 12-15 mins or until the edges and maybe a bit of the top are starting to look slightly browned and toasty. Your kitchen may also begin to smell delicious.

Remove from oven and stir, trying to rotate the parts that were on the edge into the middle of the cookie sheet and vice versa.

Return cookie sheet to oven and Bake another 12-15 minutes or slightly longer until mixture is getting lightly brown and toasty looking and smells fantastic.

Remove from oven and allow to cool completely on cookie sheet. If you don’t want chunks of granola, you can stir it now.

I usually store mine in an airtight Container in the pantry and I can tell you that it keeps for over a week (but it has never taken me more than 1-2 weeks to eat/give away all of it!).

You could change up the nuts if you like. I have stuck with these because I always have walnuts on hand (they are a cornerstone of my daily oatmeal breakfast) and because pecans seemed really expensive (but I bet they would be delicious).

Also, I have used both honey and maple syrup (and a combination of the 2 when I ran out of maple syrup). I don’t know what is “healthier” or better for the planet, but I like the maple syrup better. The resulting granola is less sticky/chunky and I guess I just love the maple flavor. If you like your granola chunky, the honey works well and if you really pack down/flatten the mixture with a spoon prior to the second round in the oven, you are likely to get some good, big chucks. I have read briefly online about making granola bars. Definitely sounds doable but involves more steps. If you figure out an easy way to do it that you like, let me know.

Ooooh and I almost forgot! If you really want the “granola as a cookie replacement” experience, you can mix in chocolate chips and/or butterscotch chips either after the granola is fully cooled or after it has come out of the oven and slightly cooled (if you stir in a few chocolate chips when the granola is still warm they will melt and the results are pretty delicious). I like both but prefer the butterscotch. Actually… it was a problem that I liked the butterscotch so much. I kept eating them on their own, so I stopped buying them. Really the granola is already sweet enough for me on its own. I just pour milk over it, like a bowl of cereal, and feel like I’m having a special treat every time.

“Ok, Rebecca/Becky,” you’re thinking, “This all sounds pretty easy and everything but HOW, pray-tell, do you manage to bake or do ANYTHING with a one and a half year old around?” Well… I have a really amazing small child. While I’m bustling around the kitchen she likes to pull out pots and pans and spoons and make soup on the floor with all her animal magnets. Or she climbs up on the step stool next to me – close enough that she can see what I’m doing but not close enough to physically interfere- and she plays in the sink with a large bowl and a little water, some measuring cups and spoons. She’s a little imitator, what can I say? I’m pretty confident that we will enjoy many baking experiments together in the future.

Library Book Recall/Roll-Call

I’m still doing lots of reading, and I try to remember to take a quick photo of each book before I return it to the library.  Here are a few of my relatively recent reads. Now available at a Loudoun County Library near you!

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The Seven Good Years by Etgar Keret

I quickly grabbed this book (and the one next to it) off the memoir shelf at Sterling library while I was also watching Maia, so I didn’t look at it much before I took it home.  I got home and realized that Keret is Israeli and the book is translated from Hebrew.  I usually avoid any books that would force me to learn anything (i.e. about other cultures, world events) instead preferring to keep my mind narrow and just read about people who do drugs and stuff.  But the book, focused on the years between his son’s birth and his father’s death, is written and translated beautifully.  Keret doesn’t TRY to teach us, but I did learn just a little bit about what it is like to live in Israel and be Jewish without getting at all annoyed.  I enjoyed his writing style so much that I picked up his book of short stories (which I’m currently reading).

An Extraordinary Theory of Objects by Stephanie LaCava

I also checked out this book, a memoir about the author’s turbulent adolescence as an American in Paris, without realizing that its many footnotes are a huge part of it.  The footnotes explain the history behind many of her collected objects, which provide a backdrop for the story.  I skipped most of them.  I don’t like footnotes, because I feel they pull me out of the story, and I don’t like to multitask (see also The Brief and Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao).  Also, as I previously mentioned, I try to avoid learning anything historical while reading for pleasure.  But I enjoyed LaCava’s personal story and it stands alone as an honest and unique memoir even without the factoids (and it won’t take you more than a few days to read if you skip the footnotes). 🙂

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The Possibilities by Kaui Hart Hemmings

Just like her other novel, How to Party with An Infant, I had a hard time ever putting down this novel, set in and around Breckenridge, Colorado.  The narrator, Sarah, has just lost her young adult son, Cully, and begins to learn more about him through Kit, a young woman who knew him.  As I expected, Hemmings eloquently and honestly writes about grief and imperfect relationships with a bit of levity and irreverance.  On a road trip to a memorial for Cully we get to know Sarah, Kit, Lyle (Sarah’s father), and Billy (Cully’s father), all memorable and enjoyable characters.  Two Thumbs up from me.

Calling Dr. Laura: A Graphic Memoir by Nicole J. Georges

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I love graphic memoirs and discovered this one while I was trying to find a memoir written by a doctor.  I’m so glad I found it and enjoyed every second of reading it.  Great illustrations, beautiful, painful story with enough humor and quirkiness mixed in to keep you from being miserable.  Nicole deals with uncovering her father’s true identity, as well as coming out to her mother, and negotiating a challenging relationship.  She is brave and admirable for writing this!  I found joy in the portions of the book where she writes and illustrates her dogs and pet chickens. Ticks all the boxes.

Let me know if you have any recommendations for me!  I still have to review a few other books which aren’t library books — I’ll try to get to those soon!

 

Why I Love Lake Anne: and a little Name Dropping for My Favorite Reston Small Businesses

Maia and I met Car at Lake Anne this morning.  I took Brian’s car so I could use our new little stroller which has a more subtle profile for smaller outings. I couldn’t figure out how to open it at first, so I called tech support (i.e. Brian), and Car found us in the parking lot and came to help.  We were greeted at the coffee house with a “hi! I haven’t seen you guys in forever!”  from the Barista, and I ordered my usual – a gratuitously large fancy latte.  It has become my practice to make up for the falling frequency of my coffee shop visits by getting gigantic drinks every chance I get.  I also got a Nordic Knot Pretzel, my guilty pleasure addiction since I discovered them at The Bike Lane Coffee Shop after my Sunday morning class at Beloved Yoga. We ordered our breakfasts and found a table. Maia eagerly sat in a high chair and ate a lot of the pretzel and not nearly as much of the egg and black beans from my breakfast tacos. She’s getting to be a much pickier eater lately; while I used to be able to shove most any food into her mouth, now she shows a clear preference for carbs.  I suspect this is normal toddler behavior, and I’m mostly just happy she eats.  Then she wanders around the coffee house, which was ok to do today because it wasn’t nearly as busy as it often is when the farmers market is running and the weather is warmer, so I didn’t have to worry about her being trampled. She made fast friends with a little dachshund who was tied to a chair just outside the window, and I chatted with his dad, who I recognized from yoga.

We then decided to head outside so Maia could continue walking around.  She strolled out into the plaza just like she owned it, and in the distance, by the dormant water fountain, I saw that a man had fallen and 2 people were helping him.  I approached with alacrity to see if my CPR/First aid skills were required, but by the time I got there I could see that a lady from the cycling studio was calling the paramedics and a handful of other people were approaching to help.  The man was responsive, but shaken, was helped to a sitting position and was urged to stay seated. Situation was under control, and tons of people were being helpful. I handed him his hat and helped him get his shoe back on, and then left him in the capable hands of his friends and neighbors who knew him by name (no need for more of a crowd). During the commotion Maia was unfazed, enchanted by the smooth moves of two older kids on scooters. We continued our leisurely stroll around the plaza, off toward the concrete boat and wooden horse on the corner.  With Maia leading the way, we caught up to our dachshund doggy and yogi friend.  I could see that the firetruck and paramedics had arrived and parked.  Car soon departed to go meet up with knitting friends, and Maia and I continued walking.  She lead me all the way across the arched bridge, up the sidewalk toward the townhouses, and up several small stairs like a true explorer. She would have gone further, but I suggested she not walk in the street, and she agreed to turn around. Continuing to refuse my efforts to put on her gloves (By the way, some other time let’s talk about gloves for a baby and how ridiculous they are!), she agreed to hold my gloved hand as we walked back down the steep hill.  I imagined what would happen if she fell and I let go of the stroller to catch her.  “And that’s how our stroller ended up in Lake Anne!” I would tell people at parties.  But that didn’t happen – we maintained our footing, all the way back to the concrete boat play area.  It was cold, but quiet and peaceful, besides the constant honking of geese. I very slowly herded her back toward the plaza – the longest walk ever—because I know that soon I would have to pee.  On the way we chatted with two young boys who were using walking sticks and waved to a couple sitting beside a fire pit at the brewery.  Maia pointed at the water and honked like a goose.  I knew we were right where we were meant to be.

By the time we were FINALLY in front of the community center, the couple from the brewery was walking by with their small fluffy dog that we got to pat and exclaim over.  Finally we made it through the community center, into the bathroom and back out.  We quickly looked in the Cat clinic window, meowed, and made our way back to the car.

It wasn’t magical, but I feel peaceful after our temporary sojourn to our local utopia, after feeling the warmth of those around us on a cold and cloudy February day.  Thanks, Universe.

Also, you’d think Maia would be ready for a nice nap after THE LONGEST WALK EVER but she is still lying awake in her crib chatting to herself, no doubt about dachshunds, geese, and yummy, yummy pretzels.