Wednesday, September 19, 2018

A Wednesday list...

1. My landscaping philosophy tends toward practical (herbs, fruits and vegetables, etc), native, and natural (as opposed to overly pruned and prim). HOWEVER. There is also something immensely satisfying about a simple, freshly mowed lawn.

2. Earlier this year I toyed with the idea of training for the Houston Half Marathon. The race is in January, which is the ideal time to run a long race in Houston because it allows one to train when it's not one million degrees outside. It's also local, so no travel expenses or time required. When I'm running regularly, I've grown to enjoy running a half marathon occasionally because it forces me to push myself and break up the day-to -day running routine a little bit. Of course...I just realized that if I'm going to run the Houston Half Marathon, I'll need to start training next month. So I guess it's time to dust off the training plans.

3. J and I are planning a trip to London, England next summer with a some friends here in Houston. Just saying it seems surreal, and I am so excited! Like...I can't hardly talk about it so excited. I'm the only one who has been before, which adds a whole other layer on my excitement because I can't wait to share one of my favorite places in the world with other people. It also adds a tiny layer of nervousness, because I'm not a tour guide by any stretch of the imagination and don't want anyone to have unrealistic expectations of me. We started actual planning this week (making lists of what we want to do and what our individual priorities are), and the early planning will help with clear communication and help me not to forget things like planning ahead of time how to get from the airport to our hotel/AirBnB.

4. Last week I finished season 2 of Sneaky Pete on Amazon Prime (to the detriment of my sleep habits). Such a good show! The characters, the actors, the pacing, the emotional heart, the cons and twists and turns. I loved it all.

5.I finished The Golem and the Jinni this week. It's been a while since I've finished a book and been so sad to see it end. It has a a vivid, atmospheric setting; and flawed, interesting, complex characters. The tone reminded me a little bit of The Night Circus. I think it would make a great book club book -- at least, it made me wish I had a book club to talk about it with! Also on the reading front: Grumpy Cat, my most recent favorite library find. This children's picture book is basically about a grumpy cat who meets a few cheerful and happy animals that ask her to play. She keeps saying no, and finally they ask if she wants to race. The cat pretends she's going to race, but when they say "go!" the other animals run off leaving Grumpy Cat alone -- exactly how she wanted to be. I love it so much. Odd children's books with no happy or predictable ending are the best.

Happy Wednesday!

Friday, September 14, 2018

What Toddlers and Allergies Taught me About Simple Eating

Y'all. I'm trying to keep my cool over here today, but it's mostly impossible.

Have you ever been to The Art of Simple? It's a pretty cool web site with resources, articles, and community built around living a purposeful, simple, joyful life -- and what that means for each individual. It's also the home of the podcast Simple, hosted by author Tsh Oxenreider.

Earlier this year, they began accepting guest submissions, and I sent over a short blog post for consideration. Well what do you know...they accepted it! It's up on the site today, and I'd love it if you went and checked it out! Here's the link: What Toddlers and Allergies Taught me About Simple Eating.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

A Wednesday list...

1. I came across an article -- "How I am Learning to Listen to Myself" -- this morning, and it was like the author had read my mind. It's a short read, but a good reminder to be conscious and discerning of the voices we're listening to and seeking out -- not everyone with a platform is an expert, and even if someone is an expert, that doesn't mean you have to listen to what they say. And if music speaks as much to you as it does to me, check out "Listen to Your Life" by Nichole Nordeman.

2. Last week the kids started back to Mother's Day Out, and I'd given myself to permission to celebrate with one "fun" day. So Thursday I went to see a movie! A romantic comedy even! I love going to the theater, but don't do it much these days. I splurged on a popcorn and a Dr. Pepper, and only had to share the theater with two other people. It was pretty fantastic. I saw Crazy, Rich Asians, which was a delightful, fun, light-hearted movie. It was a great adaptation of the novel, and a solid movie on its own (so if you never read the book you can still enjoy the movie).

3. I don't know about you, but I occasionally find myself on quests for the Goldilocks version of a specific item of clothing: the perfect pair of jeans, the perfect pair of black pants, the perfect cozy sweater. Lately, I've been searching for the perfect basic t-shirt. Not too sloppy, not too tight. Not too thin, not too thick. Good quality, but not too expensive. Cotton or a cotton-blend preferred. After a lot of searching, I'm trying out a new brand: Everlane. So far, it's meeting the fit and fabric qualifications. It's more expensive than some plain t-shirts -- but if it lasts at least two years, it will be a good value.

4. I finished Sing, Unburied, Sing, and it was beautiful, gut wrenching, sad, and thoughtful. The characters and setting were vivid. I love a book that shows multiple perspectives to the same story, especially when one side of the story initially seems very straightforward. My next read is The Golem and the Jinni, which has been on my to-read list for years.

5. Like a lot of people, the biggest thing on my mind this week (literally and figuratively) is Hurricane Florence. It's headed toward my one-time home of Wilmington, NC, and toward a lot of people I love. If you think of it this week, say a prayer that the God of the wind and the rain will be merciful on the people in the path of this huge, powerful, and soggy storm.

Monday, September 3, 2018

A Monday list...

1. It's rainy today, and honestly it's the perfect day to be rainy. My kids woke up way too early this morning (a bed wetting accident), and desperately needed an actual nap today. And we all know a rainy day is much more conducive to day-sleeping.

2. Speaking of cranky kids...originally I was going to go to the grocery store today, but that is NOT happening. Thank goodness for the invention of online ordering and grocery pick up! My only complaint with grocery pick up -- and it's very, very minor -- is that I can't use my reusable grocery bags, and I end up with way more plastic grocery sacks than I need for garbage can liners. At least most grocery stores and Walmart has a bin to recycle plastic bags, but I wish there was a way to use reusable bags for grocery pick up.

3. There are a few home office tasks that I am WAY behind on, and as I try to get caught up before the end of the year I'm reminded about why it's superior to just stay as caught up as possible. Oy.

4. I think back-to-school-almost-fall season has me in a sort and organize and purge kind of mood. Almost like spring cleaning, except instead of cleaning I want to go through our book shelves and get rid of stuff we don't need anymore, go through our file cabinets and shred documents we don't need anymore, and organize all my photographs. We'll see how much I get done before the feeling passes and life gets in the way.

5. I've started watching the show Sneaky Pete on Amazon Prime, and am really enjoying it so far. It's about a con man who gets out of prison and has to go into hiding from a former mark. Giovanni Ribisi stars, and he's one of my under the radar favorite actors. The show's interesting, smart, snarky, and has a bit of a mystery element. And as far as reading goes, I just picked up the book Sing, Unburied, Sing, which is critically acclaimed and award-winning....and I actually don't know what it's about yet! It's been around long enough I forgot the summary, but I know everyone says it's good so...finally giving it a try. I like going into a book fresh like that though.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, August 23, 2018

A Thursday list...

1. I've recently decided I'm picky enough to buy the good lunch meat from the deli instead of whatever is cheapest in the pre-packaged section.

2. It's so hot, y'all.

3. I got a treadmill earlier in the summer and am so, so grateful to have more flexibility in my running. But I've GOT to get over the 20-25 minute rut I'm currently in. To be fair, if I'm running while the kids are up, then that's about how long I have while they watch a show or before someone things they need something. But sometimes I run after they go to bed, and I still can't make myself break those 20 minutes. It's better than nothing, but I'm really feeling the need to up my game a little. Especially since I really want to do a fall/winter local 5k, and I've had the Houston Half Marathon in January on my radar. (still plenty of time to get ready for both, but still.)

4. I'm all caught up on season 2 of Anne with an E, and I watched To All the Boys I Loved Before. As with season 1 of Anne with an E, I've got mixed emotions. Very few of the storylines in season 2 had anything to do with storylines in the books, but this turned out to be a really good thing. I also thought the tone of season 2 was much more similar to the tone of the book, which I liked. The characterization continued to be a bit of a mixed bag: Anne, Diana, Gilbert, Ruby, and the newly introduced Miss Stacy were just a delight and spot on in my opinion. I had mixed opinions about the portrayal of Marilla, Mrs. Lynde, Matthew, and the Barrys. And I CAN NOT STAND how the show has changed Billy Andrews' character (turning boring, hardly ever mentioned person into an awful bully). The biggest down side to me with season 2, is that this particular adaption continues to be very heavy handed in some of the themes and modern interpretations in a way I just think is unnecessary and takes away from the beauty of L.M. Montgomery's subtlety.

Now, To All the boys I Loved Before was a fantastic book to film adaption, and an absolute delight from beginning to end. It's the kind of funny, heartfelt, sweet, yet also thoughtful teen rom-com that I know I will watch again.

5. I'm currently reading a book for review that's partly interesting and partly boring, but not long so that's good. And I'm in the middle of a really fascinating, interesting book called The Orchard, by Yochi Brandes. I stumbled across it on the New Books shelf of the library. It's an translation from Hebrew -- Brandes is a bestselling Israeli author  -- which is not what I usually gravitate toward, but this book has sucked me in. It's historical fiction, set in Israel shortly after the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. It's realistic fiction, but the storytelling has a touch of fairy tale quality that I really dig.

Stay cool, everyone!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

A Tuesday list...

1. I've been checking out the band Johnnyswim this week. They are on tour right now with Needtobreathe, and in what's becoming an early-autumn tradition, we've got tickets to their Houston show at the end of September. I'm not real familiar with Johnnyswim yet, but it's always nice to be acquainted with a band when you go see them in concert. Well....I've only listened to one album plus their collaboration EP with Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors, but can I just say....I. Am. Hooked. Check out this song to get a taste: Let it Matter

2. I've got some shows and movies to catch up on soon: Anne with an E (I'm cautiously optimistic  after the first season, but they'll need to do a little character damage control with Matthew if I'm going to really enjoy it) To All the Boys I've Loved Before, and the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (a friend said she cried buckets while watching this one, so I'll need to be ready). Funny -- all three of these are based on or adapted from books.

3. The kids enjoyed their first camping trip last week, although they were definitely done after the two days. Heat, humidity, and a couple of very late (for them) nights and early (up with the sun!) mornings wore them out. Me too. It was fun though, and I made sure to take notes for future family camping adventures. Such as: 1. the hammock is a must 2. munchkin-friendly card games are perfect for a little bit of down time 3. bring all the snacks 4. if there's room for bikes, bring 'em.

4. It's the time of summer when I'm itching to get back in the yard and do some work and damage control, but also it's miserably hot. The problem I always run into is that our mid-July trip to camp and after-camp recovery tends to derail what I got started in the late spring/early summer. Plants get puny and wilted...weeds start to take over. We keep the lawn mowed, but that's about it. At this point, I need to either suck it up (and do some yard work in the early morning or early evening when it's slightly cooler), or be content to wait until the hot weather breaks in a few (several) weeks.

Monday, August 6, 2018

A Monday list....

1. We went to the library today for the first time in a couple of months. What's funny about that is that last night I'd added "return library books" to my to-do list for the week, then this morning Christina said "we haven't been to the library in a long time." So off we went to my favorite indoor activity! It's the first time in a long time we've been on a day with no story time, and while I am a committed fan of library story time, it was kind of nice to have a more low key visit. We went early -- so the library was delightfully uncrowded -- and leisurely looked for books, made a librarian-provided craft, played a little with the toys, and then headed home. We also had two poop-in-the-pants incidents, but I'm trying to block those out in favor of the more fun stuff. 

2. We're going on a little two-night, mid-week camping trip with the cousins this week, and I feel a little unprepared but oddly unconcerned about that. I made the food plan for us all, and just need to go shopping which I'll do tomorrow. Then I have a general idea of what I'll pack when the time comes. So really I guess I"m about as prepared as I need to be, because there's no sense in actually packing until the night before or even the morning of. Anyway...it'll be an interesting adventure since the last time we went camping with Christina she was five months old. Hopefully it'll be a fun adventure too. 

3.  We've watched a couple of movies recently that I really enjoyed. The first was Logan Lucky, a heist movie set in West Virginia and North Carolina starring Channing Tatum, Daniel Craig, Adam Driver, and Danielle Riley Keough. I'd heard great things about the movie, but was still surprised at how much I enjoyed it. The heist itself was well-plotted and creative; the characters were interesting, unique, and quirky; the acting was top notch; and the tone of the movie was my favorite blend of witty and heartfelt. The second movie we saw was during a rare trip to the theaters for Ant Man and the Wasp, Marvel's latest superhero sequel. I actually enjoyed it more than the first Ant Man movie. I love Paul Rudd, and have a weakness for self-deprecating and light-hearted super hero movies. 

4. I listened to a podcast today that echoed a thought I'd had a few days ago -- August can be a weird month. It's still summer, but for a variety of reasons it feels like the beginning of back-to-school time. Sometimes that feeling is legitimate -- if you are a teacher who has to go back to work within the first or second week of the month. Or if your school district starts school the first week of August like my friend Lesley's. But if you're like me and preschool doesn't start until the last week of August or first of September, it's sanity-saving to keep a summer-time attitude in the midst of back-to-school displays and sales and commercials. And what do I mean by summer-time attitude? For me, it means slow days, creative hot-weather activities, being okay when sometimes "creative hot weather activities" turns into "let's turn off the lights and watch a movie," and going easy on my personal to-do list because there's not as much alone time in the summer. 

Here's to a few more weeks of ice cream, sprinklers, and summer-break schedules!
Happy Monday!