preparing kid #1 for kid #2

As an only child in my 20s, I had definite ideas about how I envisioned my future family. Most importantly, it involved more than one child (and Matt. Duh). I never really minded being an only child when I was a kid. I had cousins to play with, tons of friends who thought their siblings were sooooo annoying, and I was always very close with my parents. Once I became an adult and I started noticing the relationships my friends now had with their sisters and brothers, that’s when it started bothering me. Seeing my parents and husband’s parents care for aging and ailing parents also reminded me that I don’t have siblings with whom I can share that job. (Thankfully, my parents are two fresh-faced crazy kids themselves, so I don’t have to worry about that for a while. Hi Mom and Dad! Thanks for letting us live in your house!!)

So back to having more than one child. After Nolan was born, I made up my mind: I am DONE. No more kids. I had a difficult delivery, and he wasn’t the easiest baby. By the time his first birthday rolled around, I turned a blind eye to all that and remembered all the reasons I don’t want just one. Fast forward a few years and here we are, expecting baby #2!

Nolan, like most toddlers, tends to be, let’s call it…persistent. He doesn’t forget anything and he loves nothing more than to repeat himself. For that reason and a few others, we decided to wait about 4.5 months before we told him. The conversation was pretty amusing:

Me: Have you noticed that my belly looks kind of big and round?

Nolan: No, I don’t think your belly looks big.

Me: Oh, well it is. What could be in there that’s making it so big?

Nolan: Ummmm… food? Milk? Yogurt?

Needless to say, he never guessed correctly and we just came out and told him.

That was about a month ago and he hasn’t been too curious since then. He sometimes talks about teaching his baby brother to play hockey and baseball. He periodically rubs my belly and says, “There’s a baby in there?” And tonight he told me we should name the baby Moonaganna.  I think the two books we put into the bedtime rotation have helped quell his curiosity.

The first is a classic that I loved as a child, The Berenstain Bears’ New Baby.

I remembered very little about this book other than Brother Bear outgrowing his bed just in time. Upon rereading it, I was surprised to find that (spoiler alert!) Mama Bear delivers the baby alone in her home while Papa and Brother are out building a new bed. I’m still not sure if I feel empowered or degraded by that.

The next book I bought after seeing it recommended on Rebecca Woolf’s blog. It’s Sophie Blackall’s The Baby Tree.

The Baby Tree is narrated by a little boy who finds out his parents are expecting a new baby, and he doesn’t understand where the baby will come from. He asks people in his family and neighborhood and gets all sorts of backwards and roundabout answers until he asks his parents who finally explain it. At first I was worried that the book was too old for Nolan; not in the sense that it’s inappropriate in any way, but I wasn’t sure he would be interested in the story or understand enough of it. Well, I was wrong and he loves it. The illustrations are beautiful and there is even a page after the story with more specific answers to kids’ questions about conceiving and delivering babies.

How did you prepare your children for new siblings? Did you find that they were excited or did the jealousy begin before the baby even arrived?

I’ve Stopped Buying Books and I Don’t Care Who Knows It

No, this is not a post about e-books and why they’re better than hard copies (because they’re not, duh).  This is more about me trying to have less stuff. I have too much stuff. Matt has a ton of stuff (like notebooks and textbooks from college!), and Nolan accumulates more stuff by the minute.

Books were always something that I thought were worth buying. I figured that even if I never planned to read it again, I could lend it to a friend or let it live on a bookshelf at home. I cut out pictures from magazines and pinned images of huge libraries on Pinterest. Like these:

Who wouldn’t want that in your house?

Well apparently me because I just did a major book purge. We donated 50+ books to the library a few weeks ago, and we probably have a bunch more that could have gone.

Matt pulls our books (and Nolan) to the library

With the exception of a book I need for work, I now get everything from the library. It’s free, people!  Well, actually you’re paying for it in your taxes, but that’s even more of a reason to use it. If you live in Nassau County you can get materials from any library in the county by showing up at another branch or just clickity clack on the internet and the library will send the stuff to your local one.  I feel kind of guilty when I request books from other libraries because it’s so lazy-person friendly. Yes, there are due dates, but having a deadline makes me read more, and when I am late and have to pay a fine, I feel like I’m donating to charity so really it’s win-win.

Is it totally sacrilegious for an English teacher to quit buying books, or am I being eco-friendly (and thrifty!)? And while I’m at it, what else can I start getting rid of…

Alive and Reading

I’m still here! And I’ve been reading! And I have 2.5 recommendations for you. In the past week I read a funny feel-good book, an entertaining, inspiring and honest book and a total downer that was still a good book.

First, Tina Fey’s Bossypants. HILARIOUS. It probably helps that I’m a huge Tina Fey and 30 Rock fan, but I think most people would find this entertaining, as long as you don’t have an aversion to some crude humor (you stick-in-the-mud!).

Next, Josh Kilmer-Purcell’s memoir The Bucolic Plague. Josh is part of the team who started Beekman 1802 and stars in the reality-documentary show The Fabulous Beekman Boys. Love the show, love the book, love the love. His memoir was a very interesting look at how he and his boyfriend went from city professionals to farming entrepreneurs (with goats). Inspiring and surprising, my only complaint was that sometimes the chapter endings were a little too heavy-handed with the dramatic phrasing. I’m being picky.

My half recommendation is for Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge. I say read it because it’s well-written and kept me hooked, but I say don’t read it because it’s damn depressing. It’s Strout’s talent for understanding people and our deepest fears and thoughts that makes it so depressing, but still, it’s a downer nonetheless. The format was very clever; the book is several short stories with a few overlapping characters, namely Olive Kitteridge, and the stories all take place in a small coastal town in Maine. Perhaps read this and then read Bossypants to cheer yourself up?

What I’m Reading / What I’ve Read

Ok, so I just finished the third installment in the Millennium series, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. Oy. I have very mixed feelings. Before I describe my feelings, I will give my rating: 3 out of 5.

I know the author tragically died before the books were published, so I feel a little guilty saying this, but he is probably the worst judge of women’s thoughts and behaviors I’ve ever encountered. While the books purport themselves to be feminist, they’re not. Just because several men are vilified, doesn’t make the books feminist. Any heroines in the book are either bisexual or swingers. Now, I love bisexuals! Swingers are lovely! But I found it insulting that the only way a woman could be deemed strong or independent was to fit into one of those categories. He pretty much implied that monogamy means you’re weak and submissive.  And the way every single woman fawns over the leading male? ENOUGH!

I also found that I was actually skipping past pages that were just so unnecessary and dry. Ugh. If I hadn’t been so invested in the characters from the previous two books, I probably would have rated it a 2. So there.

Next up is Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s The Angel’s Game. It was decent, I’ll give it 3.5 out of 5. One thing is for sure, I definitely want to visit Barcelona. The book makes it sound beautiful and mysterious and wonderful. There were some interesting twists and turns, a few gasps, and several dozen eye rolls, but I enjoyed it.

The book club at my job is discussing it in September so I may have more to say then. I’m very curious to see what my coworkers thought about it.

Now onto what I’m reading. I just started Kathryn Stockett’s The Help. So far, so good!

Kathryn Stockett

From the publisher:

Be prepared to meet three unforgettable women:

Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.

Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody’s business, but she can’t mind her tongue, so she’s lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.

Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.

What I’m Reading

With hopes that I’ll be a diligent book clubber this year, I’ve started our summer read, The Angel’s Game. Written by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, it’s a supernatural-ish mystery set in Barcelona in the early 20th century. Zafon also wrote The Shadow of the Wind, which I’ve heard wonderful things about but have not yet read.

Image: Barnes and Noble

From the publisher:

From the author of the international phenomenon The Shadow of the Wind, comes a riveting new masterpiece about love, literature, and betrayal.

In this powerful, labyrinthian thriller, David Martín is a pulp fiction writer struggling to stay afloat. Holed up in a haunting abandoned mansion in the heart of Barcelona, he furiously taps out story after story, becoming increasingly desperate and frustrated. Thus, when he is approached by a mysterious publisher offering a book deal that seems almost too good to be real, David leaps at the chance. But as he begins the work, and after a visit to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, he realizes that there is a connection between his book and the shadows that surround his dilapidated home and that the publisher may be hiding a few troubling secrets of his own. Once again, Ruiz Zafón takes us into a dark, gothic Barcelona and creates a breathtaking tale of intrigue, romance, and tragedy.

I’m 170 pages in and it was a little drawn out in the beginning, but it’s starting to get good. Only 300 pages to go…

What I’m Reading/What I’ve Read

I’m a little behind in my book reviews!

I finished The Book Thief in a matter of days. It looks imposing (560 pages) but it’s technically a young adult book so it goes very quickly. Overall, I liked it. I guess I should really start giving star ratings to these books / restaurants / shows / movies / other things I judge. I did find the book to be a little gimmicky. It’s narrated by Death and I thought that was sort of unnecessary and distracting, but it was really interesting to read a “Holocaust book” that followed non-Jewish people. I guess I never really considered how much the Germans who were not Nazi-supporters also suffered under Hitler.

Oh, and I hated the ending.

Image: Barnes and Noble

So for The Book Thief … 3.5 out of 5

Oh geez, this is why I don’t rate things. I’m already feeling guilty. Should I have given it a 4? No. I need to be firm.

Moving on. The Girl Who Played with Fire. Again, liked it a lot, didn’t LOVE it. I found it a bit stressful (I’m also the person who used to turn off Saved by the Bell and Full House before the main characters got in trouble because I felt like I was getting in trouble), but I couldn’t put it down.

The book is very exciting and I’ve been recommending the series to a lot of people. An issue I had with this second book had to do with the narration. Much of the book follows a female character, Lisbeth, and it became OVERWHELMINGLY obvious that it was a male author writing from the female perspective. It kind of seemed like the author just wrote out all his female and lesbian fantasies and tried to pass it off as how women really think and behave. For that reason, I would say I enjoyed the first in the series, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, more.

Image: Barnes and Noble

So again, 3.5 out of 5

I reread Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants this week and I’ll write that up later. For now, if you’re not in the middle of a summer read, get your butt out there!

Cool Website

Need some inspiration before you head to the bookstore? Check out and get some recommendations! Each time you visit the site, you’ll receive a slightly different greeting and empty fields to fill with a book and author you like.

Then it spits back some recommendations. For example, when I entered The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, it suggested:

Fun, right?

What I’m Reading

The first 40 pages of Girl with the Dragon Tattoo were “eh.” Then I couldn’t put it down. 400 pages later I’m done and very excited to read the second part of the trilogy, Girl who Played with Fire. For some reason I was under the impression that the books in this series were geared toward teens but I was wrong with a capital W. There is some sick stuff in there and some very naughty $ex. (The dollar sign is so I don’t get bombarded with spam …because I would).

The story takes place in Sweden and the names of people and places are a little tough to deal with at first. I had no idea that so many consonants could be arranged together but apparently in Sweden they can. Hammarbyhamnen. Allhelgonagatan. Sodermanannagatan. Those are actual cities and streets. A Swedish movie was made and an English film is supposedly in the works. The title character is a real badass and very fun to read about.

For now though, I need a break from the characters so I’m about to start The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

From the publisher:

It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.

This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.

I’ve heard very mixed reviews of this one so I’m looking forward to getting started. Have you read it?

What I’m Reading (and something I just read)

I am proud to announce that I finished my book club’s book in time for this month’s meeting! Ok, so it was only 120 pages…

Michael Chabon’s The Final Solution was entertaining. It’s chock full of SAT words and some vintage language (that’s not really something; I just made it up). Although it’s short, it takes a bit to get through because of the density and all the characters, but it was unique and I was definitely curious to see how (and if) the mystery unfolded in the end. Another of Chabon’s books, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, is supposed to be … amazing, so perhaps I’ll give that a try over the summer.

For now, I’m joining the party rather late by starting Eat, Pray, Love. Yeah I know everyone was reading it four years ago when it came out, but I procrastinate so here I am. Have you read it? Thoughts?

What I’m Reading: UPDATE

Remember when I said The 19th Wife was good? I was wrong. I finished it over the weekend and not only felt disappointed, but also a little insulted. I really had a problem with the author’s portrayal of one of the main characters, a gay man – it was one big clichéd stereotype.

And the ending SUCKED.

This month’s book club pick is Michael Chabon’s The Final Solution. It seems quirky and different so I’m looking forward to starting it.

Image: Book Cover Archive

From Barnes and Noble:

In The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, prose magician Michael Chabon conjured the golden age of comic books, interwining history, legend and story-telling verve. In The Final Solution, he has condensed his boundless vision to create a short, suspenseful tale of compassion and wit that re-imagines the classic 19th-century detective story.

In deep retirement in the English countryside, an 89-year old man, vaguely recollected by the locals as a once-famous detective, is more concerned with his bookkeeping than his fellow man. Into his life wanders Linus Steinman, nine years old and mute, who has escaped from Nazi Germany with his sole companion: an African grey parrot. What is the meaning of the mysterious strings of German numbers the bird spews out-a top-secret SS code? The keys to a series of Swiss bank accounts? Or do they hold a significance at once more prosaic and far more sinister?

Though the solution to this last case may be beyond even the reach of the once famed sleuth, the true story of the boy and his parrot is subtly revealed to the reader in a wrenching resolution to this brilliant homage. The Final Solution is a work from a master story-teller at the height of his powers.