Read, Watched, Listened

I love reading just about everything (okay, you won't see any mystery or sci-fi picks on here), watching things that make me think and especially if they make me laugh, and wholeheartedly embrace the podcast. I also enjoy hearing about what other people are reading, watching, and listening. Here's my two cents worth.

We're doing it quick and dirty this time around - I've been an even bigger bookworm than usual!!

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READ

Girl, Wash Your Face
Loved it. For some reason I thought it wasn't going to be applicable to me (I somehow got it in my head that it was geared toward professional, working women) but it's super practical advice and relatable to everyone.

One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of this Will Matter
Funny yet poignant essay collection from the daughter of Indian immigrants in Canada. Honestly could take it or leave it. Three stars.

How to Walk Away
Meh. I felt like I should have cared about the main character more than I actually did. It went from serious to overly predictable. The last third was pure rom-com in book form.

The Girl Who Smiled Beads
Fascinating memoir of a Rwandan refugee - her memories of the war and what comes after. Read it and then try telling me we should lock our borders.

A Man Called Ove
Read it. Read it now. And then do what I did and immediately read it again.

Us Against You
The second in the Beartown trilogy. Not quite as good as the first but that didn't stop me from devouring it in two days. 

Love Lives Here
I adore the Goffs. This book is written in a very similar style to her husband's (personal life story with reflection on how it applies to our lives as Christians) that is so real, readable, and beautiful.

The New Jim Crow
This book will (and should) break you. 

Plan B
I think this might have been a re-read for me. I needed a dose of Anne Lamott to help me get through The New Jim Crow without completely losing my mind.

Rumors of Water
Not my favorite style of writing. It read like a lot of high and mighty rambling to me. I enjoyed a glimpse into another's creative process but ultimately found it hard to get through.

Tears We Cannot Stop (A Sermon to White America)
Are you white? Read this. Another one that is hard to read at times (in the very best of ways).

The Very Worst Missionary
I practically underlined this entire book. Though I'm not a missionary, she details so many of my thoughts with the personal faith-wrestle I am going through right now. Hilarious and full of truth. (Also saw a 1-star review where the reviewer bemoaned a Christian book dropping the f-bomb and other four-letter words and how could a Christian publisher let this happen? My thought: great! This is exactly the kind of book for me. Instant purchase. Thanks, 1-star, clutching-your-pearls reviewer.)

WATCHED

Ugly Delicious
I love David Chang and this documentary series about food is fascinating. He takes a deep-dive approach to everything from pizza to crawfish. My favorite episode so far has been Episode 2 about tacos. Not only did it make me crave tacos for the next two weeks but it unexpectedly advocated for immigrants in an interesting way. Who knew a show about food would be so relevant to our political climate right now?

John Mulaney: Kid Gorgeous at Rado City
SO FUNNY. We watched it for a date night in and it was just perfect. Absolutely hilarious without being overly vulgar or dirty. It was interesting, funny, and refreshing to hear a comedian do a bit without reverting to sex jokes the entire time.

Queer Eye: More Than A Makeover
Watch it. Watch the first episode and fall in love with Mama Tammye. Then just keep going and binge-watch it all. When the news feels like a bit much or you've had a long day, this is the show to turn to.

LISTENED

This American Life
I know, I know. I'm a late-comer to this one. My favorite so far has been episode 649: It's My Party and I'll Try If I Want To, which is a fascinating look into the Democratic Party and what one progressive candidate in New York is going through just to get on the ballot to potentially become elected.

Otherwise keeping up with my regular shows. I highly recommend keeping up with Pantsuit Politics' deep-dive into 9/11 and what it means for our post-September 11th world. You can find the first episode of this series here. Yes, it's hard to listen to. Do it anyway. I think it is so, so necessary. Especially if you're like me. It's been helping me to process something that I remember and was alive for, but at all of 14-years old never reflected on or really understood.

Note: any links to Amazon in this post are affiliate links.

The No Thank You Bite

Our twins had just turned four when it began. I set their green and pink plastic plates in front of them and that was their cue:

“I don’t like this.”
“This looks yucky.”
“I don’t want to eat any of this.”
“I’m done.”
And, my personal favorite, “Guys don’t eat this or it will make you sick.”

I’m sure it goes without saying that despite how they may have behaved that day, I was actually not trying to poison them. This was all said before they had taken a single bite. Also, these were often foods they had eaten the previous day, week, or even hour.

*insert all the eyeroll emojis here*

Maybe this sounds a little like your house. A blanket rejection of the meal you’ve spent hours (erm, minutes) to lovingly prepare (*ahem* just heat up in the microwave). Kids can’t survive on Cheerios and Goldfish forever, right? What’s a mom to do?

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Read all about the No Thank You Bite and our favorite questions to ask around the dinner table over on the Twin Cities Moms Blog!

The Summer of Batman

Last summer was the summer of Moana. We watched at least part of the movie pretty much every day. Rainy days we usually watched the whole thing. Playing the soundtrack was a given at our house. I’d say it was in the background except it was really at the forefront, since the kids acted out the entire thing and everyone belted out the lyrics (including me) all the way from the breakfast table to dinner clean-up .

Their small plastic pool was Moana’s boat. Brooklyn was Moana and Caden embraced the role of Maui. I’m not really sure who Nolan was. Maybe Te Ká since they sure seemed to fight a lot. The shovels from their sandbox became paddles and I yelled at them more often than not for flinging all the water out of the pool as they “paddled”. (“I’m only refilling the pool ONE MORE TIME!”)

That was our entire summer. I completely forgot about it until Caden brought one of his plastic shovels into the pool the other day. I sat up expectantly in my lawn chair, waiting for the Moana reenactment to begin. Except it didn’t. Instead he went on and on about how it was some sort of Batman thing. Batrope, Batarang, Batshovel. I don’t even know.

Wait! I wanted to say, What about Moana? Aren’t you going to paddle across the ocean and battle Te Ká and Tamatoa? What about Te Fiti? Don’t you remember all that?

Nope. I guess we’ve moved on. Now it’s Batman or bust.

+++++

I didn’t realize I was supposed to hold on to all of that from last summer. Twelve months later and we’re back outside. Here I thought we were going to settle right back into the same routine. I’m still sitting in my same little lounge chair, wearing the same old sandals, drinking either iced coffee or sparkling water out of the same clear tumbler, depending on the time of day. (Though not with the same plastic straw. Nolan bites through those like it’s his job. And apparently I’m supposed to stop using plastic now? Ugh. But I digress.)

Of course it’s not all the same. The clothes they’re wearing are mostly new, a size bigger, besides the hand-me-downs for Nolan. They ride bigger bikes, faster, and race around on new scooters like I’m running a neighborhood scooter gang. The swing set is getting small for them, probably too small. We’ll for sure need a new one next summer. Even the pool is different. A bigger, better, upgraded version complete with seats and cup holders. (Maybe the grown-ups need to get in on this pool action, too.)

+++++

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Batman has taken over. The level of obsession has been kicked up a notch. While I don’t think we owned a scrap of clothing with Moana’s face on it last year, now I have to pry Batman pajamas off of Caden’s body, plead with him to let me wash them after three days of dirt, yogurt smears, and general preschooler grossness. We’ve leveled up to the Batman Lego movie and all three chime in to chant Batman’s password to the Batcave, “Ironman sucks!” (Yup. Guess I’ve got other mountains to die on than the language one.) Caden schemes to own every Batman Lego set in existence and has conned Nana and Papa out of more money than they’d probably like to admit to fuel his addiction.

They race around with capes and masks, mastered the art of superhero poses, and have been plotting their Halloween costumes since February. Batman, Batgirl, and Robin. I told them they had nine months to wait. An eternity.

+++++

Do I need to bottle this up, too? Should I be taking pictures, video, snapshots of all things Batman? Will I settle in next summer (same lawn chair, sandals, tumbler) just to have everything else change again?

+++++

Batman whooshes past me. “Pew! Pew! Pew!” he cries with his stick-turned-gun. (I don’t know what it is with four-year olds, but we hit that age and now everything is a gun.) Robin follows behind, “Pew! Pew!” He doesn’t really know what he’s doing, but he’ll follow along with whatever Batman does. “Come on, Batgirl!” Batman cries, and she rushes off to join them in a chorus of more pew-pew-pew-ing, rolling around in the grass, and some impressively large jumps off the slide. It may look like regular old toddler play, but I know they’re fighting off bad guys.

(Fight scenes. Always blurry.)

“I Robitt!” Nolan growls as he runs up to me. He hasn’t quite mastered the “n” in Robin yet. Then he runs off again.

“Batman talks like this,” Caden says in a gravelly voice as he marches up to me with his hands on his hips. It makes me laugh every time, this low voice he takes on to portray his hero such a funny contrast to his regular, high-pitched one. His stick arms and legs and lack of a butt to hold up the shorts that are forever falling down his bottom are the antithesis to Batman’s ripped physique.

I watch them play, scream, tumble. I take pictures and store up memories.

Because next summer, things will change.

+++++

Ahem. It should be noted that I wrote this post off and on over the course of two weeks. Yesterday afternoon, as I was thinking it over in my head knowing I was going to hit "publish" at night, they played Moana in the pool all. freaking. afternoon. So there's that. Really, what do I know, anyway?

Days of the Angry Red Chest Bump

It was a day. Nothing special, nothing overly traumatic. Just another day in a long series of similar days, the mundaneness in and of itself more notable than anything.

An ordinary day, yet one that also hadn’t been that great. There were tears and tantrums, struggles over tooth brushing, three different kids with three different ideas for activities that were not compatible with one another. (Play in the driveway! Play in the backyard! Walk down the street to the park!) There were toys strewn everywhere inside and a floor that needed to be swept three days ago.

Of the three, the 18-month old was the crankiest. He acted frustrated and didn’t seem quite sure what it was he wanted. Except he clearly told me that he wanted more scrambled eggs with his lunch. (“Egg. Mo’.”) I filled up his plate, set it on the tray.

He looked at the plate. He looked at me. And in less than a half second, he threw it all on the floor.

I had a moment. (Just another day in a long series of similar days…) The cleaning-up of the scattered-everywhere scrambled eggs was now my job. My teeth clenched. I have a college degree! I wanted to scream, I graduated with honors and now here I am about to clean up this disaster of scrambled eggs at 11:18 in the morning? I have ideas, dang it! What gives?!?

Toddlers throw their food. I get it. It’s not that it overly surprised me exactly. I’ve been through this with two of them before. It’s more that as this all happened, in the span of a few seconds, I had another moment. I thought of all the “you’re going to miss this” phrases tossed out by sweet little old ladies (always sweet and old) as they reflect on this stage of life. They seem to forget the part about bending over for the umpteenth time to clean scrambled eggs off the floor. Cuddles are something to miss. Cleaning up what had previously been a (sort of) clean floor? Not so much. This day was not one to look back on fondly.

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Read the rest over on the Twin Cities Moms Blog.

These Children are Insane and Other Thoughts at 3 pm on a Rainy Wednesday

I stand in the kitchen and look around as Nolan gallops in circles with a fist full of bright orange crackers. He stole them from the pantry, and is now leaving a trail on a floor that’s already more food scraps than floor. Caden jumps from piece of furniture to piece of furniture, complete with blanket cape and Lego Batman clenched in hand. Brooklyn walks by wearing only underwear for reasons I don't really know.

It’s three o’ freaking clock in the afternoon.

That’s it?! That can’t be right. I blink at the digital clocks on both the stove and the microwave. Could they possibly both be wrong? After the day I’ve had, surely it must be tomorrow by now.

We’ve already done all the things today and I’m not really sure what else I’m supposed to do with these children. I have plenty to do, of course. The checklist in my mind is full of everything from appointments to schedule to straightening the black hole that is our mudroom to actually cleaning up our crumb-ridden floor. But not with these things around picking fights, stealing food, and embracing their inner nudists.

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This morning we attempted to go to the library. Our favorite library. I had to put the kibosh on that after a pathetic half hour spent chasing a shrieking Nolan back to the children’s section about twelve times too many. We drove home and walked to the park to get that energy out but were driven home all too soon by some raindrops and my own overly full bladder. The clock finally signaled lunchtime which was a relief (something to do!) until the four-year old crowd chugged from their water bottles and spit it right back out onto the floor. So then the two-year old copied them. Y’know, just for fun. (Side note: you’d think my floor would look a whole lot cleaner than it does right now.) The confiscation of said water bottles led to tears and screaming. So many tears and so much screaming. The neighbors would have thought I’d ripped someone’s arm off if our windows had been open. Maybe it’s a good thing it’s raining. The twenty minutes on the clock before I deemed it late enough to enforce quiet time dragged and of course quiet time ended far too soon.

I sink to the floor in exhaustion and try to come up with something fun for us all. I hear cushions being ripped off the couch in the living room and spy little feet out the corner of my eye, pitter-pattering to the pantry for another fistfull of forbidden crackers. Another trail of crumbs. I pretend not to see or I’ll have to enforce a consequence. At least it keeps him occupied.

What to do? Play Doh is too messy and doesn’t interest the two-year old for long, we’ve already had our fair share of screen time this afternoon, and I’d prefer the house to not be destroyed more than it already has been today. Two more hours...two more hours…two more hours...

My mind wanders as I think of how I’d really like to enjoy a rainy afternoon. To lose myself completely in a book. To Netflix binge in the full sense of the word, not the two maaayyybe three episodes if we’re feeling daring that make up our parents-of-young-children version of binge-watching now. I’d love to sit in the quiet and listen to the rain outside and really do a whole lot of not much at all.

My thoughts are broken by another shriek, a wail, tears in a couple sets of eyes from an incident my own eyes didn’t see. These kids sure have a different agenda than “quiet” and “nothing at all”. I dole out hugs, try to temper harsh words and arguments with my own attempt at calm ones.

I look outside to see the rain has lightened up. Caden and Brooklyn settle into some sort of pretend play together so I take the opportunity to scoop Nolan up and walk with him in my arms to the end of the driveway to check the mail. (Junk. All of it. So not worth it.) I realize that not only has the rain lightened, but it’s stopped completely. We drop the mail off in the mudroom and velcro sandals on his little feet. He grabs his new blue scooter. Brother and sister somehow sense we are having fun without them and appear at the door behind us.

Nolan abandons his scooter completely and takes off at a run down the sidewalk. Speed is his preferred mode of transportation and he can still get nowhere the fastest by running. I take off after him as Caden and Brooklyn pass us by in a blue and pink blur, speed demons on their own scooters.

“Hey!” a neighbor calls out and raises her hand in a wave. She’s sitting in her garage, her own three year old boy next to her. I breathe in relief as we make our way towards her. A grown up! She must have noticed the rain lightened up and needed the escape, too. We wander over and she asks how I’m doing.

“Uggghhhhh,” I reply. I’m beyond words at this point. We lived through six months of winter but apparently this rainy day is the thing that’s going to do us all in.

She laughs and invites us inside. “Sounds like our day yesterday.”

We kick off wet shoes in their mudroom. Their own shoes and miscellaneous stuff that make up life with their own three kids are strewn around. The kids immediately find the playroom. I find a chair. I look around to see dishes on the counter, toys scattered across the floor, child locks on the cabinets. Feels like home.

We chat. I sink in the couch. Our conversation is interrupted more often than not. Kids run around. They scream. They steal apple slices from the counter and walk around the house crunching them.

I realize that her children are as insane as mine on a rainy afternoon. Good.