Archive for the ‘Reading’ Category

7 Things I Would Rather Be Doing

November 2nd, 2009 by Jane

I was sick last week and my children the week before, so today is a catch-up day. I need to sort piles of paper, laundry, socks (yes, this is separate from the laundry) as well as do some writing and marketing work for my paying jobs. After being prostrate for the better part of a week, I seem to have lost my motivation. I realize it will return, but not without some deep digging on my part.

Here is a list of things I would rather be doing-maybe I will reward myself after I finish sorting through piles!

1. Getting a Massage
It has been waaaayyyyyy too long!

2. Going to a Movie
Maybe Good Hair or Coco Before Chanel. The Men Who Stare at Goats releases on Friday and I can’t wait to see it. I laughed so hard during the trailer that I embarrassed my friend who was with me. Besides, two hours with George Clooney is never a waste. Or Jeff Bridges.

3. Getting My Hair Cut
I desperately need a hair cut and possibly an overhaul. I am considering a new style, but I am lazy when it comes to styling my hair, so my options are limited. My hair tends toward the Roseanne Roseannadanna style and I just don’t have the facial shape to pull off that look.

4. Reading and Lingering at a Bookstore
Although, I did manage to finish a book while I had the crud last week. I am now hooked on the dark thrillers from Sweden by Steig Larsson. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played with Fire were great reading, in large part because of the compelling title character. There is only one more book in this series (to be released in May 2010 ) because the author passed away after turning in the three manuscripts.

5. Chillaxing at a Yoga Class
Chillaxing is my 9 year old daughter’s new favorite word. My regular yoga class is 45 minutes away, so it is not an activity to be done on impulse.

6. Eating Yogurt
We have a new frozen yogurt place in our area and it is fabulous, if a little pricey. The raspberry is the best I have ever tasted. They don’t have a website, or I would tell you more!

7. Nothing
We all get so caught up in making sure that every minute is productive that we forget the intrinsic value in doing nothing. Go ahead, give your brain a rest for fifteen minutes! Watch the clouds or trees move with the wind. Put your head back on your chair and listen to your breath. Stretch. There, isn’t that better?

7 of My Favorite Blogs

September 16th, 2009 by Jane

I do not have much time to read other blogs, but I try to make a few minutes every day to visit at least one of my favorites. The following seven (in no particular order) are a mix of humor, inspiration, creativity and information-four of my top interests!

1. Ink on My fingers
This blog is new to me and I am pouring through the archives of Susannah Conway’s blog as fast as I can. She has had a tragic past and I am fascinated. She writes about grief and art and life in a poignant, breathtaking way. Cathartic and refreshing.

2. Soul of the Garden
Tom Spencer hosts a local gardening show on PBS called Texas Gardener. His blog, Soul of the Garden, is where he talks about gardening, spirituality, travel, good books, his cats and much more. If you need something beautiful to look at, click here!

3. Ordinary Courage
I had the pleasure of hearing Brene’ Brown speak in Houston this past March and many of her words resounded so much with me that I found myself wishing I could be friends with her. After reading her blog regularly, I feel that I am. She writes about perfectionism, shame, addiction and gratitude with intelligence, humor and insight.

4. Katherine Center
Katherine Center writes books about mamahood that are funny, full of truth and love, with interesting characters. Her blog is just a continuation of  her fiction, but it is about her life. You will love getting to know her.

5. Orangette
Molly Wizenberg is a great cook, but she is also charming and sweet and thoughtful. Read her blog for delicious recipes, the chronicles of becoming a new restaurant owner and a love story. Her new book will bring tears.

6.  SF Girl by the Bay
Does your house lack style? Well get a screenful of ideas on this lovely design blog. You will be inspired to rearrange  your furniture, at the very least. We share a crush on the fictional character of Don Draper on Mad Men, so we know she has great taste!

7. Art Biz Blog
Alyson Stanfield’s blog is a self-help tool for artists. She offers marketing advice, support and inspiration for visual artists. She aims to make the term “starving artist” a thing of the past!

7 Summer Plans

June 1st, 2009 by Jane

Summer vacation has officially started for two of my children and my 3rd grader will be out of school on Tuesday. We don’t have much planned yet for the summer, but I made a little list of things we are looking forward to doing. Or not doing!

1. Art Work
We have  a stockpile of art projects for the girls that we are going to work on, like a paint-your-own tea set. I am always overly ambitious the first week of summer break, so it is not surprising that I have considered doing a papier mache project with my kids and their friends. I am going to read up on the process on this site before we start. I’ll let you know how it turns out!

2. Clean Up, Clear Out and Straighten Up!
I am looking forward to some time to clean out the play room and girls’ bedrooms, and they are now old enough to help. I am starting a new game: Pick Up What You Want to Keep! What they are not willing to put away goes in a trash sack for Goodwill. Guerrilla Mommy Tactics: harsh, but effective.

3. Cooking Experiments
I bought this great book at a garage sale: Science Experiments You Can Eat and I am looking forward to working in the lah-borrrrr-ah-tory, uh, kitchen,  with the children. 

4. Exercise
It is brutally hot here in the summers, so we have joined our local recreation center so we can exercise as a family even on the doggiest days of summer.

5. Friendship Bread
Our sweet neighbor, Monica, brought over an Amish Friendship Bread starter last night. The girls have agreed to smush it every day until we can bake it in ten days. If you are not familiar with this yummy goodness, it is a sourdough “starter” for a sweet bread. The starter grows for ten days and then you split it and make bread with some of it and give the rest away to friends. Every ten days you get two loaves of bread and more starter to share. Good thing we are upping our fitness routine! 

6. Nothing
My favorite part of summer is knowing I do not have to get three pokey children somewhere everyday. I am a big believer in scheduled boredom for children. Boredom is a useful tool inteaching children to entertain themselves and to learn how to be alone. The time I have spent alone in my life is a rich source of my creativity. Admittedly, it is brutal to be in the same house with bored children, but I strongly believe in the practice and think of it as a gift to my children that they will appreciate later. I hope.

7. Water Park
We have three fountain parks within a 30 minute drive from where we live and I have made dates with several other families to meet there during the summer. Check out this one, the fountain is named after one of my favorite Texas dames, the smart and sassy Liz Carpenter

7 Books About Charming Mice

May 27th, 2009 by Amy

Is it just me or are mice some of the cutest protagonists ever?


1.  A Cricket In Times Square
(by George Selden)

Tucker Mouse falls for the music maker in Times Square.


2.  The Mouse And The Motorcycle (by Beverly Cleary)

A boy and a mouse join imaginations to bring a sputtering toy motorcycle roaring to life.


3.  Mrs. Frisby And The Rats of Nimh (by Robert C. O’Brien)

This widowed mouse heroine’s love for her child knows no bounds.


4.  Poppy (by Avi)

Fall in love this series about Poppy, the tiny deer mouse who dared to dance in the moonlight.


5.  Redwall (by Brian Jacques)

Magic swords, evil rat warlords, brave mice, and plenty of fighting make this series a rollicking adventure.


6.  Stuart Little (by EB White)

Born into a human family, Stuart sets out to find folks a little more mousey.


7.  The Tale Of Despereaux (by Kate DiCamillo)

The triumphant tale of a plucky little mouse looking for love.

7 Items on My Bedside Table

May 26th, 2009 by Jane

My children live like squirrels. All three girls, but especially the twins, like to have their “stuff” all around them in their beds. On any random day you may find 25 stuffed animals, drawings, pens and paper, books, snacks and money in their beds or under their pillows. One of the twins slept with a Dora sprinkler in her bed for a year and a half. If you tried to move it, she turned into a howler monkey until you dropped it.

While my bedside is much neater and compartmentalized, I recently came to the conclusion that my little apples did not fall far from their maternal tree. Here is a list of  what I have next to my bed.

1. Books
I always read myself to sleep; I have ever since I learned to read. Right now, I am reading Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace by Ayelet Waldman. She says many things in this book that I have been thinking for years. I highly recommend it if you are a mother or are someone tring to understand mothers.

2. Ear Plugs
For the last decade, ear plugs have kept me married to my husband. He snores, loudly. And for the low, low price of $3.99, the cost of a package of 10 pair of ear plugs, I have been able to sleep in the same bed with him and wake up still loving him.

3. Lotion, Cuticle Cream and Lip Balm

I like to be hydrated while I am sleeping.

4. Love Notes
I keep the most special love notes from my children in my bedside table drawer.

5. Pen and Paper
I started keeping pen and a cute pad in my drawer several years ago. I must tell you it helps me get to sleep faster if I write down the things that are on my mind. Sometimes it is the start of the grocery list, or it is a plan for the next day, and other times I write down ideas for this blog.

6. Tennis Ball
I keep several sizes of rubber balls in my drawer as suggested by the myofascial massage therapist I saw last summer. If you have a pain in your back or elsewhere, lie on a ball for two minutes and see if it goes away. Works for me every time.

7. Wadded Tissues
I confess: I keep balls of tissue under my pillow. I am an allergist’s dream and sometimes I need a tissue during the night. Keep ‘em under your pillow and you don’t have to search in the dark! Follow this link to customize your own tissue box.

7 Entirely Random Thoughts From Erma Bombeck

May 20th, 2009 by Amy

Browsing through the public library recently I came across some well-worn Erma Bombeck books and vividly remembered being a kid and wishing I could grow up to have her job … living life, laughing a lot, and writing about it. Brilliant.


1.  Christmas Shopping: Wouldn’t it be wonderful to find one gift that you didn’t have to dust, that had to be used right away, that was practical, fit everyone, was personal and would be remembered for a long time? I penciled in “Gift certificate for a flu shot.”


2.  Once you get a spice in your home, you have it forever. Women never throw out spices. The Egyptians were buried with their spices. I know which one I’m taking with me when I go.


3.  People shop for a bathing suit with more care than they do a husband or wife. The rules are the same. Look for something you’ll feel comfortable wearing. Allow for room to grow.


4.  Before you try to keep up with the Joneses, be sure they’re not trying to keep up with you.


5.  Did you ever notice that the first piece of luggage on the carousel never belongs to anyone?


6.  It is not until you become a mother that your judgment slowly turns to compassion and understanding.


7.  When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, “I used everything you gave me”.

7 Things to Do When You Have a Sick Kiddo at Home

May 13th, 2009 by Jane

One of the twins has been home for a few days with a little cold. My week has gotten completely derailed and while it is tempting to count all of things I am NOT getting done, I am trying to make the most of it. Here are some things we are doing:

1. Cartoon-watching
We have been catching up on some shows we do not watch while she is at school. Did you know there is now an “Olivia” cartoon?

2. Cuddling
Sometimes, I do not have enough lap for 3 girls. But when I get to spend the day with just one child, we can cuddle to our heart’s content without hurting someone else’s feelings. 

3. Make Something Yummy
Yesterday we made chocolate-covered strawberries. Very good for a cold: vitamin C and anti-oxidants, you  know.  

4. Napping
Dozing off with a tiny warm body in your lap, completely guilt-free. The decadence! 

5. Piddling
Being house-bound for a few days opens your eyes to a few things that need to be done that you never seem to get around to addressing. Like cleaning out your magazine basket or junk drawer or the top of the washing machine.

6. Projects
We painted the fairy house she got for her birthday and decorated her new Crocs.

7. Reading
We have read some children’s books together and I have even been able to read some of the books from my bedside pile. Aaahhhhhh.

7 Vocabulary Words

April 30th, 2009 by Amy

A friend of mine turned me on to A true wordsmith, she has been using their word-of-the-day in her Facebook posts with admirable frequency – growing her own vocabulary and, by extension, mine.


Here are a few of my favorites:


1.  Chimerical \ky-MER-ih-kuhl; -MIR-; kih-\, adjective:
1. Merely imaginary; produced by or as if by a wildly fanciful imagination; fantastic; improbable or unrealistic.
2. Given to or indulging in unrealistic fantasies or fantastic schemes.


In the chimerical atmosphere of the Museum of Jurassic Technology, it is far from clear where fact ends and fiction begins–or vice versa. - Margaret Wertheim, “The Museum of Jurassic Technology”, Omni, November 1, 1994


2. Frisson \free-SOHN\, noun:
A moment of intense excitement; a shudder; an emotional thrill.


As every parent knows, children have a love-hate relationship with stories about monsters. They love the frisson of hearing about such terrifying creatures as the Cyclops — but hate to think about what they might do if they bumped into one.- “Strange but true: One in the eye for all those Homer-phobes”, Daily Telegraph, June 21, 1998


3.  Jape \JAYP\, noun, verb:
1. A joke or jest.
2. A trick or prank.


He tried to defuse each petty crisis with a merry jape and spend each day with a life-affirming and reasonably up tempo country song in his heart.- Chris Priestley, “Payne’s grey”, New Statesman, November 29, 2004


4.  Ken \KEN\, noun:
1. Perception; understanding; knowledge.
2. The range of vision.
3. View; sight.


Totally unprepared are you
To face a world of men
Timid and shy and scared are you
Of things beyond your ken

- From “You Are Sixteen Going On Seventeen” from The Sound Of Music.


5.  Outré \oo-TRAY\, adjective:
Unconventional; eccentric; bizarre.


This seven-year-old house of outré culture is the kind of place you can shop for a sculpture made out of working flamethrowers, videocassettes of underground movies, computer-generated art or a cute robot - David Sturm, “Berlin’s Green Man, Running for Life”, Washington Post, June 14, 1998


6.  Peccadillo \peck-uh-DIL-oh\, noun:
A slight offense; a petty fault.


And besides “what do they say? ‘Don’t judge lest you be judged.’ Everybody has their peccadilloes.” - “Tyson has a friend in his corner”, Irish Times, October 21, 1999


7.  Stormy Petrel \STOR-mee-PET-ruhl\, noun:
1. Any of various small sea birds of the family Hydrobatidae, having dark plumage with paler underparts; also called storm petrel.
2. One who brings discord or strife, or appears at the onset of trouble.


. . .restless and indomitable, scouring like a stormy petrel the angry ocean of debate. - Lytton Strachey, Eminent Victorians

7 Retro Words to Bring Back

April 23rd, 2009 by Jane

I am not sure why some words fall out of favor, but here are a few that I want to see come back! Send us some of yours!

1. Apoplectic
This word means “greatly excited.” As in “She was absolutely apoplectic about winning the lottery.”

2. Cloche
Did you know that this word is the name for the dome-shaped covering for a plate of food?  Or a very stylish hat? 

3. Foxy
No, I do not like this term as a reference to a person, but using this word to refer to a fabulous inanimate object is just fun. My friend Kelly said my leopard print shoes were “foxy.” And they are. 

4. Ghastly
Shockingly repellant.” You need to add this to your personal lexicon, I just know it. 

5. Kicky
As far as I know, David Sedaris and I are the only people to have used this term for “excitingly fashionable” in the last 50 years or so. Maybe he’ll start a movement with me.

6. Porte-cochere
This word is a very fancy term for carport, but I bet your car will look better under a porte-cochere!

7. Veranda 
This word is so much more elegant-sounding than porch. Use it when you want to feel a little uppity. It is also a very nice magazine.

7 Audio Clips Of David Sedaris

April 8th, 2009 by Amy

David Sedaris makes you want to pee your pants (which, it turns out is an indignity you no longer need to suffer … watch Mr. Sedaris’ review of Stadium Pal.)


Perhaps the only thing better than reading David Sedaris is listening to David Sedaris and I am grateful to NPR for neatly arranging exactly seven hysterical clips here.



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