Friday, May 26, 2017

Life lately

Summer has begun in earnest for our family. We got back from the beach on Tuesday, and the kids and I head out on a road trip to Oregon with my mom on Monday. Phew! This year it just worked out that all of our travel is crammed together across a few weeks instead of spread out.

Speaking of road trips with kids, I welcome any and all tips, specifically any audio stories, books, or podcasts an almost five year old would enjoy. We already love Sparkle Stories and on our last trip we discovered But Why? and Brains On! Please share your favorites--it's going to be a loooong trip to the West Coast and we'll have plenty of listening hours to fill.

I decided our trips would be the perfect place to start another reread of the Harry Potter series. I wanted to read it this summer in preparation for a very special all-things-Harry-Potter episode of Friendlier that will come out in early August. The first two books are not my favorite in the series, but in rereading them I found them funnier and wittier than I remembered. I am currently a few chapters into Book Four and enjoying the ride.

Preschool has ended for HP (forever!) and we are now in summer mode. Once we get back from Oregon we have a couple of camps lined up for both kids, swim lessons for HP, and generally trying to soak up these laid-back weeks before HP goes off to kindergarten.

This may seem crazy, but we are considering canceling our home internet. Our one year promotional period is ending and the price will more than double starting in June. I know it would be inconvenient at times, but there would also be benefits--like eliminating the temptation to look up “just one thing” and then falling into the rabbit hole of the online world. I may expand more on my thoughts and what we decide in a future post.

We have a new roof! As in, I just wrote the final check and the roofers drove off a few minutes ago. When we bought the house we knew the roof wasn’t going to last much longer and used that to negotiate a lower price. This spring we finally did the necessary research and got quotes. We decided to get a standing seam metal roof, which should last for decades to come. It feels good to cross “get new roof” off the never-ending list of house projects.

I hope this finds you all ready to enjoy the holiday weekend and kick-off summer!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Making time to read

Reading books is a favorite pastime of mine. Over the years I have read with varying degrees of frequency, but it has been part of my life since the days of of Sweet Valley Kids.

I distinctly remember a time my freshman year of college when I took a break from studying and read The Secret Life of Bees. I hungrily devoured the pages in my dorm room and thought, I've missed this. Reading got me through lonely times abroad, kept me sane through graduate school, and gives me an anchor in these days of parenting young children.

I read because I love it, but there are side benefits as well. I firmly believe that if I want my kids to grow up to be readers, then they need to see me and Neil reading for fun--which basically translates into an excuse for me to read during the day under the guise of good parenting. #winning

I fit in reading whenever I can, but usually in the mornings if I manage to get up before the kids, during rest time if I am not writing or working on a podcast (rest time = what happens when your kids stop napping but everyone still needs down time), and post-bedtime. If I've had a hard day, then I often sneak off to read a few pages after dinner while Neil is with the kids.

Here are my tips to fitting in more reading into the busy lives we lead:

(1) Figure out what you can cut out. For me it has been television and social media. I still use Instagram and watch shows with Neil some evenings, but quitting Facebook last year eliminated a major time-suck.

(2) Always have multiple books to read. I like to read more than one at once so that whether I am in the mood for fiction or non-fiction I have something ready to read. I have also taken on the responsibility of getting books at the library I know Neil will enjoy too as I have discovered that if one of us doesn't have something to read, we are more likely to watch a show after the kids are bed, but if we both have something, we happily read instead.

(3) Don't be a book snob. Some books I read are more high-brow, while others are decidedly not. I read young adult fiction, fantasy, and even romance if the mood strikes. I also read Pultizer-winners and my fair share of cerebral non-fiction. But not all the time. Because sometimes, I just want to get lost in a story and turn my brain off.

(4) Have a reading goal. I was surprised to find how much I enjoy setting a reading goal for the year on Goodreads and then regularly checking in to see how I'm doing. It is not that I wouldn't read otherwise, but it makes me take note when I am in a reading slump and get back to it.

(5) Join a book club. I am a part of two book clubs and I love how they challenge me to read something I wouldn't pick up otherwise. They also make me to think about the books differently. I love how often my opinion on a book changes after discussing it at book club.

(6) Have a podcast that requires you to talk about books every two weeks. Oh wait, does this not apply to everyone? Knowing that I need to have a book to discuss on Friendlier has helped me prioritize reading when I otherwise might scroll through social media.

I would love to hear what you're reading and how you find the time to fit it in.