Everyday Life

Violet Grace

It’s been quiet on the blog lately, but not so quiet at our house.

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Violet Grace arrived on July 17th, a healthy 7 lbs. 11 oz. and 20.25 inches long. She shocked the world with her shock of dark hair, which makes me laugh because my sisters and I all had hair like that and my other babies had dark hair, too, though not as much. Apparently Violet’s lovely locks overshadow the memory of Isaac’s and Ella’s heads of hair.

Violet has lots of love from her family.

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How can anyone help but love these cheeks?

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So that’s what’s been going on around here lately. How’s your summer going?

 

Reading, Reviews

A Reading Worm Hole

Claimer: There are a lot of links in this post, but none of them are affiliates. I’m linking to them for your convenience.

I’ve unintentionally fallen into a worm hole in my reading in the past few weeks. Apparently, it’s a  worm hole that leads directly into 1930s Britain. I don’t know why I enjoy this setting so much, because I’m pretty sure I’d hate to live in it. The food, the weather, the drafty homes, the Great Depression, it all sounds pretty bleak when looked at as a whole. But for whatever reason, judging by the books I’ve randomly selected over the past two weeks, I really enjoy books set in 1930s Britain.

The Young ClementinaThe worm hole opened with D. E. Stevenson’s book The Young Clementina. Stevenson is one of my new old favorites, as I’ve mentioned before. This one popped up on my Riffle book email last week for only $2.99. Clementina was just what I would have expected of Stevenson, though not much like the cover. I enjoyed it thoroughly. With the misunderstood love plot and the resigned spinster theme, it was actually kind of reminiscent of Montgomery’s The Blue Castle, one of my favorite books ever.

Diary Of A Provincial LadyThen Diary of A Provincial Lady finally came available through my library. E.M. Delafield is always on my list of recommendations on Goodreads.com, but her work is hard to come by around here. Rachel over at Book Snob often mentions Delafield and I usually enjoy her recommendations, so I was excited to finally get my hands on this one. On the surface, it seemed kind of boring to read about the everyday housewife details of a British woman in the 1930s, but it was actually witty and sometimes hilarious. Think Bridget Jones’s Diary tones but on totally different subject matters. I thought it was amusing and fun to read. Today I downloaded a free copy of The Provincial Lady in Russia, so we’ll see if The Provincial Lady remains amusing or if one book by her is enough.

Her Royal Spyness (Her Royal Spyness Mysteries, #1)Though the book I read next isn’t written in the 1930s, it is set in that time. Her Royal Spyness is about Lady Georgiana, 34th in line for the throne, penniless, and skill-less. She decides to provide for herself by being an undercover house cleaner, but finds herself an undercover spy. Written by Rhys Bowen, it is a fast paced mystery with some pretty likable characters. I thought the plot was a bit too easy to figure out. I knew who had committed the crime by about 1/4 through the book. But it was still a good, light read, without any of the gory details I’m not too fond of in mystery novels. I could have done without all the “you’re still a virgin, what’s wrong with you?” talk included between Lady Georgie and her best friend, but I guess that’s par for the course in a modern novel. This is the first book in a long series. I may give one more a try, but I wouldn’t say that I’m hooked. I’m much more likely to go for something actually written in the 1930s, as I’ve mentioned before in a post about Downton Abbey Look Alikes.

The Daisy ChainNow, I’m climbing out (or falling further in?) the worm hole and reading The Daisy Chain, a book written in the 1850s that was very popular in its day but is neglected now in lists of classics. I hope I can get into it and write a review when I’m done, but the fact that the author apologizes for its length before the first chapter has me a little worried. =)

 

 

Everyday Life, Parenting

The Tenth of July

I’ve officially reached that point–the one where you’ve been pregnant for so long, you’re sure the baby is just not going to come out. It’s true, I’m not due for four more days. For some reason, I have had it in my head that July 10th would be a great day to have a baby. July 10th just has this nice ring to it. But it’s not looking like that’s going to happen. I don’t know why I feel much more in a hurry for this baby to be here than I was with my second child. I think I may have been wiser three years ago than I am now. In those days of waiting for Isaac, I was only two years removed from the newborn stage of mothering and I remembered how hard it was. I valued my sleep. I valued my time without having to constantly hold a fussy baby. Maybe because Isaac was such a happy baby or maybe because it’s been three years, but this time I can’t seem to keep the “I’m fine waiting patiently” perspective I had when Isaac was ten days late. I cherished the golden days of normalcy with my two-year-old daughter and simply enjoyed the waiting.

But this time, my ankles are swollen, my legs are jumpy with RLS all the time, my back hurts, and I don’t sleep much. This time, I’m just plain uncomfortable. This time, I so badly want to stop the maddening weight gain! Just end it! I want my husband to be able to take some time off work now. And I want to meet my little baby girl! But I can’t make it happen. My timing isn’t so much the thing here. (Why am I surprised?) I know God’s timing is perfect. I remember how great Isaac’s labor was compared to Ella’s, when I was induced on her due date because of a complication. I know I need to trust.

So today, I will do my best to enjoy the waiting. I will enjoy the MOPS play date I crossed off my mental list weeks ago. I will relish the twenty games of Uno I will inevitably play with a five-year-old who just learned how yesterday. I will cook dinner without a baby crying in the background. Hey, maybe I’ll even get around to buying a baby book for this baby. (Sorry, dear third child, it just slipped my mind…). Maybe I’ll finish the painting project I started two weeks ago. I’ll be thankful for the fact that I have time to clean the bathrooms, wash the sheets, vacuum the carpet. I will be thankful that I can hold Isaac and Ella in my arms with no distractions. Today, I will rest in the happy and hard moments of now, even as I excitedly hope for the joy of the new baby to come.

Reading, Reviews

Blackberry Winter, by Sarah Jio

Blackberry WinterA few nights ago I looked up from a book and said to my husband, “Remind me to never read sad books about children when I’m pregnant.” He looked at me in exasperation and said, “Gah! When is it ever a good time for you to read sad books about children?” That’s a fair question. But I chose to read Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio because I loved her writing and story telling style in The Violets of March. Somehow, I trusted Jio not to plunge me too deeply into the depths of despair. Yes, it was a mostly blind decision, but it turned out to be a good one in the end.

Here’s the synopsis of the book:

Seattle, 1933. Single mother Vera Ray kisses her three-year-old son, Daniel, goodnight and departs to work the night-shift at a local hotel. She emerges to discover that a May-Day snow has blanketed the city, and that her son has vanished. Outside, she finds his beloved teddy bear lying face-down on an icy street, the snow covering up any trace of his tracks, or the perpetrator’s.
Seattle, 2010. Seattle Herald reporter Claire Aldridge, assigned to cover the May 1 “blackberry winter” storm and its twin, learns of the unsolved abduction and vows to unearth the truth. In the process, she finds that she and Vera may be linked in unexpected ways. -Goodreads.com

If you’ve read many of my posts, you know I’m not a big fan of the back-and-forth between history and present day narrative. However, I think there are some writers who do a good job with it and Sarah Jio is one of them. The difference maker is Jio’s ability to make both times and all characters involved come to life. Each character in the two books I’ve read by her faces circumstances that are really, really, hard. Jio brings in the everyday tragedies of the human experience – miscarriages, losing a parent, unhappy marriages- the things that are always happening to someone, somewhere, into her writing and still manages to leave readers with a brightened outlook on life. I also appreciate how Jio can deal with some messy, true-to-life themes in her writing without feeling the need to drag readers through the muck of every detail. In other words, there is no hint of erotica or violence in her writing. That’s something I really appreciate.

When I finished Blackberry Winter, I wanted it to keep going. That odd friendship between a reader and book characters formed that only really good books can create. I’m eagerly awaiting Jio’s latest book, Goodnight June, to become available at my library. Until then, you might find me at the library in the J Fiction section, because apparently I’ve missed quite a few Jio novels in the last few years. Perfect for summer reading!

So whatchya’ reading this summer?

Everyday Life, Parenting

Why Nesting Needs To Be About You

I’m two weeks away from my due date, looking bigger than a house, and getting a lot of questions about my preparedness for our third baby’s arrival.

“Are you feeling ready?”

“Got the nursery all set?”

The answer is “yes” to both questions. We are really ready to meet our new little one, and there is a space in our house for her to sleep, eat, and be dressed. However, her nursery will never be on Pinterest. This is about as good as it’s going to get:

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The whole nesting thing has changed for me since my first child. It used to be about the baby, but now it’s all about me.

If you don’t know what nesting is, or you’re rolling your eyes, let me tell you, it’s a very real thing. It’s this strong feeling in a pregnant woman’s body and soul that if what-have-you does not get done, she will not be able to enjoy her baby’s birth or her first few days of life as a mother. It’s powerful force that can be used for good, and sometimes, for craziness.

With the first child, nesting is predictable. It’s all about the nursery. Even I, with zero interior decorating tendencies, had specific ideas about what I wanted my first baby’s room to look like. I went to every fabric store in town, looking for the perfect material so I could sew bumpers and quilts for my little bundle of joy. Do I usually sew things for my home? No. I have made curtains, and they have been mostly dreadful. But I was optimistic. However, I couldn’t settle on any of the fabric I was finding, even online (I was craaaazy), so I registered for a bedding set that was close to perfection from Babies R Us. From handmade with love to Babies R Us? Yes. But I am happy to report that I still love that bedding. And that I found the perfect paint color for the walls to go with the bedding. I’m sorry to report  I nearly had an internal melt down when my husband and I found a solid oak crib for sale for $30 and bought it instead of the white furniture I had set my heart on. I knew that crib was solid and would last forever (and it has) but it didn’t fit into my ideal nursery. Nesting is real, and it’s a bunch of weirdness.

But things change. When I was about to have our second child, we decided to downsize. The housing market wasn’t great, but we put our house up for sale anyway, knowing we were doing the right thing for our family. I was fully prepared to wait months for someone to buy our house. It took just a few weeks. So nesting for my second child didn’t look like it did with my first; it looked like a pile of boxes surrounding a pack-n-play with a cute blue blanket on it.

Now we’re on our third child, and what did I spend last week doing? Painting the trim and the walls in my own bedroom. What kind of selfish mother am I? Yes, maybe I’ve grown selfish in my nesting all of a sudden. Or maybe I’ve come to grips with the fact that nesting is all about the mother anyway. What all moms know, deep down inside, is nesting is really for us. We know our babies don’t care if their rooms are pink or blue or beige. We know they don’t know the difference between a blanket needle pointed by hand or machine monogrammed or from a pack of six bought at Target.  Our babies care about this: sleeping, eating, and feeling comfortable. What I didn’t realize is how much just providing those three requirements for my baby would take out of me. Sleeping sounds like the easy part, but my first child seemed to get the hiccups every single night. How do you get a baby to sleep with hiccups? And babies don’t need you to cook complex food, but they do need a lot of food all day and all night and if it isn’t just right, they can be in a world of hurt in their little tummies. “What did I eat today that is causing you so much pain?” was a question I agonized over for the first few months of my daughter’s life.

When you’re heading into the newborn phase of motherhood for the first time, you don’t realize how exhausting and emotionally draining it will be. Wonderful and joyful, yes, but also a very trying time. And that is why nesting needs to be about you. Because while our babies can’t even begin to know whether the Winnie the Pooh wall paper is from the classic Winnie the Pooh or the Disney Winnie the Pooh (this is such an important distinction), they can tell when our voices reach a new level of stress. They can sense the frazzled-ness of our arm motions as we try to hold the baby and stir the oatmeal and tell the five-year-old “No, I haven’t washed that dress, please just pick another one.  Please.” Your baby hears all that and doesn’t know what it means, but will probably cry a little harder. This is not scientific fact, just my experience. Babies are most comfortable when their mamas are comfortable. And mama’s comfort can get pretty low on the list. At some times in life, comfort translates into a spa day. For a new mom, comfort translates into a five-minute shower and three hours of uninterrupted sleep.

So when you’re about to have a baby, go ahead and enjoy the decorating of the nursery, if that’s what brings you comfort. Or, do what I did last week and stop ignoring the fact that your bedroom still only has primer on the wall and make it into a place where you feel relaxed and calm. Put away some meals in the freezer or pantry that will make life easier in three months. Hide a few new puzzles or books for the children you already have. Organize your laundry area so that your kind friend who offers to help will be able to find the detergent. Do not, I repeat, do not worry if there is nothing hanging on the walls of your baby’s room. But do consider buying extra sets of sheets for every family member’s bed, including your own, because laundry every day is not always going to be a given and middle of the night messes are. Give yourself lots of time to be way less than perfect, but also give yourself a chance to succeed in making your home a comfortable place for everyone, not just the new baby. It may seem a little counter intuitive, but I think our babies will thank us if we make nesting more about what will sustain us as moms as we care for our babies and our families. Whether what will sustain you in the newborn days is a beautiful nursery, a pot of flowers on the back porch, really clean baseboards and ceiling fans, a well stocked pantry, or a subscription to Netflix is entirely up to you.

More thoughts on having a third child here!