A book, or four

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

I know I'm a little late to the party, but I picked up The Girl on the Train from the library the other day, and now I'm in the thick of it. I have the same sort of feeling I had when I read Gone Girl: a bit of dread, knowing it likely won't end well, and the desire for at least one character to make a good choice.

The Boston Girl would make a good beach read. Migratory Animals is gloomier but so well-written. And as a break from my usual fiction, I just read Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids, mainly because I liked the title and was intrigued. I'm glad I did.

Meanwhile, some of us around here are ready for summer. The other night when I was saying goodnight to Livvy, she said she didn't think she could go to school the next morning because her lips hurt.

Just 31 more days.

(Photo: Conde Nast Traveler)


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

In the latest Dove campaign, the company put up two signs - one saying "Average" and the other "Beautiful" - above the entryways of shopping centers around the world. The women approaching the doors have to choose which one to go through. Most walk through the average door. Some make a different choice. Watch above, if you'd like.

"It was my choice. And now I will question myself for the next few weeks, maybe months."

"I went through the average door. I didn't even hesitate."

"Am I choosing because of what I'm being told I should accept? Or am I choosing what I really believe?"

"I wanted to go through the average door, but my Mum pulled me over to the beautiful door."

"Given another chance, I would choose beautiful."

"It was quite triumphant really. It was like telling the world I'm beautiful."

"Beautiful is a great word. So why not see what's on the other side of that?"

Bits and pieces

Friday, February 6, 2015

Some favorites from the week:

This hand lotion, which has changed my life (or at least made my horribly dry hands more comfortable.) It's not perfect - it's pricey and the scent is a little strong - but after many winters of searching, I've finally found something that's not greasy and really works. (And I don't have a humidifier, but if I were to buy one, it would be this little one.)

This quote, which I try to keep in mind whenever I listen to the news.

This lesson from a 10-year-old. Livvy stayed after school to help make Valentine bags for a group of homeless children. When she got home, I asked how it was. "Guess where they live?" she said. I couldn't guess. "At the hotel where there was a fire!" (Once, when we drove to a store in a nearby town, the parking lot of an adjoining motel was filled with fire trucks.) "The children live in the motel?" I asked, with what must have sounded like concern in my voice. "But, Mom, they're lucky," she said. "They've got someplace good to stay."

Have a happy weekend.

Hello and goodbye

Monday, February 2, 2015

When Kate and Holt and Livvy were little, no matter what they were doing, they would jump up and shout with happiness when Web walked in the door. It was as though they hadn't seen their dad in weeks and he had finally come back to them. It was the reaction rock stars get when they walk on stage, and all he had to do was walk through the door.

Web (and even I) still get a pretty good greeting from Livvy, but the older two are more subdued now, as you might imagine. Which has made me think quite a lot about the act of saying hello. I make sure to say hello to each of them first thing when I (or they) come in the door, and I make sure they say it back. To be honest, I'm not sure they always would, without a little prodding.

But now I'm also thinking more about goodbye, thanks to a lovely photo essay I came across on the blog Sho & Tell. I say goodbye when Kate, Holt, or Livvy leave, but it's sometimes from another room, or called down the stairs. Sometimes it's just a wave if I'm on the phone. I love how photographer Angelo Merendino says, "There was never an 'I'll just let myself out,' it was always, 'We'll walk you to the door.' " Since his father died, he says, his mother stands alone by the door and waves. You can see the photos here, if you'd like. Meanwhile, I'm going to try to do better with goodbye.

Just a quick shout-out to the New England Patriots from a fan who tunes in only on Superbowl Sunday. It was an exciting game, to be sure, with some good commercials. My favorites, unsurprisingly, were Dove's #realstrength ad and Proctor & Gamble's "Like a Girl." Here's a full-length version, which makes me cry every time I watch.

(Photo by Angelo Merendino.)

Bits and pieces

Friday, January 30, 2015

Some favorites from the week:

This book. I couldn't put it down, and I now I can't stop thinking about it.

I skipped the final season (and season finale) of Parenthood so I'd be able to watch it in one fell swoop. It ranks up there as one of my all-time favorite series, and I will miss the Bravermans terribly.

Remember Felicity? As I waited for the end of Parenthood, I began to spend a few late nights re-watching this other favorite, which ran from 1998 to 2002. Back then, it reminded me of my own time in college. Now, it makes me think of my children, and what's just around the corner. Eek.

Hometown pride.

So it's been a little snowy around here. There were two days off from school, much shoveling and blowing, and a dog in snow heaven, but now we're getting back to normal. As I was driving Holt, who's 12, to school yesterday for his first day back, he reminisced about his unexpected vacation. "I needed that," he said. I had to agree.

(Photo: My 24/7 Media).

Bundle up

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Until this past weekend, when a storm blew through, and tomorrow, when a blizzard (!) is expected, it's been a winter of almost no snow, and that's been a beautiful thing. I like snow, I really do, but I also love the ease of no-snow (with apologies to the ski resorts). Even the cold hasn't been too bad, with just a few stretches of bone-chilling temperatures.

It was during one of these stretches recently that my daughter Livvy had an early-morning hockey game in a rink I'd never been to before. There were large gaps in the siding of the barn-like structure, with birds flying in and out, to say nothing of the howling wind. We saw little of the game because the plexiglass surrounding the rink was iced over. The only thing left to do was to try not to freeze.

Which leads me to blankets. The smartest hockey parents come bundled up in down coats, mittens, and hats, of course, but they also bring armfuls of blankets, which they wrap around themselves or cover the benches with, or both. They carry all kinds of blankets, but the ones I love best (and look at most longingly) are the wool camp blankets - the kind that used to be in my attic. There was a blue one, a pink one, and an olive-drab one, all a little scratchy but dense and very warm. My sister and I brought these blankets to camp, but my own children protested when it was their turn to go and begged for softer, fluffier fleece. And then, in a moment of needing to clear out, I got rid of them (the old blankets, not the fleece and not the children). I'm horrified and wish I could take it back.

I also wish I knew what happened to another childhood blanket - plaid, the wool not as scratchy, with fringe on either end. On days I stayed home from school not feeling well, I would lie on the couch under that blanket and braid the fringe. Hour after hour of braiding between naps, reading, and whatever was on television. That blanket is gone, too.

So the other day I went on ebay and found a blanket to keep in my car and take to the rinks. The wool isn't as thick as the ones from the attic, but I think it will do the trick. I bought another one to cover the bench or throw over the couch at home. It has fringe on either end like the one I remember, just in case anyone needs practice braiding.

(Ebay is a good source for wool blankets at low prices. For more of a splurge, I like this, and this, and this. And now Target has gotten on the warm-wool-blanket bandwagon with its collaboration with Faribault.)

Photo from curiosities.tumbler.com.

Bits and pieces

Monday, November 24, 2014

I'm going to just jump right in and pretend my last blog post was yesterday - not June 3. Good lord. My early New Year's resolution is to do much, much better.

In my long time away, I kept a list of thing I could - and wanted to - write about, i.e. books read, products found, articles loved. So here are a couple of those thing to kick off the start of a new commitment to blogging.

It feels like a million years ago now, but over the summer I read, among other things, Big Little Lies, The Arsonist, and, most recently, And the Dark Sacred Night by Julia Glass. I hated for this last one to end, so I'm now rereading Three Junes and plan to go back to I See You Everywhere, two earlier Glass books I loved. Quick tip: And the Dark Sacred Night revisits characters from Three Junes, so if you read Three Junes first, it helps (but isn't necessary).

I was chatting with a friend on the playground not long ago about the death of Boston Mayor Tom Menino, which led us to how we keep up (or don't keep up) with the news, and she told me about the skimm. Have you heard of it? It's a daily email highlighting the news stories of the day (or, really, the previous day) and - more important - explaining those stories in simple terms. Whoever writes the skimm is funny and smart and keeps things brief, and I love it.

I'm also loving a new-to-me blog that has nothing to do with the daily news. It's called The Mom Edit, and it's a fashion blog, but a kind of everyday, mom-ish fashion (in the best sense of the word), with articles such as "Seven Ways to Style a Basic Grey Sweater Dress," "How to Tie Your Scarf Like the November J. Crew Model," and "That Time I Wore My Mom's Dress to New York Fashion Week." "The Mom Edit" is really for new mothers trying to get back to their more stylish selves, but Shana Draugelis writes in such a down-to-earth, fun way that it works even for those of us whose babies aren't babies but who still need help getting dressed each morning.

My youngest daughter, Livvy, who is nine, asked the other day if iPhones were invented when I was little, and she was shocked when I told her there were no iPhones when she was born. Imagine. It reminded me of this fabulous article in The New York Times Style Magazine about how - despite what we might tell our children - life wasn't really better in the old days, when we didn't carry our phones with us and there was no Internet to keep us connected 24/7. "We can't become hostages to the romantic notion that the past is always a better country," Andrew O'Hagan writes. "There's a few million girls with flatirons who will happily tell you the opposite."

Photo: Free People

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