Friday, May 25, 2012

Reading Obsessions

I starting using the social reading site, Goodreads, a year ago today.  Since then, I have been pretty faithful in recording the books I have read.  Since I have so obsessively kept track of them, I thought it would be fun to tally up the statistics for this year of reading.  I know I've probably missed a few books, and miscounted a few of these categories, but my underutilized librarian brain had such fun counting and categorizing.

Warning: this is full of dry statistics and will bore most people.  Feel free to click away and come back soon for pictures of my kids from the month of April.  Soon, I promise.

So here we are.

In the last year, I have read 118 books (about a quarter of the books I probably read annually in my heyday as a nursing mother).  Of those, 26 were children's chapter books, 34 young adult novels, 43 adult fiction, 10 non-fiction, 4 comic books (probably lots more, but I started recording the Tintin ones-- it's been a while since I read them all 16 times as a kid), and 1 book of poetry (Caroline Kennedy's anthology, She Walks in Beauty; her criticism was pedestrian at best, but the poems were awesome.)   I gave 31 books 5 stars (the highest rating), and 2 books 1 star.  The most frequent rating was four stars, with 49 books in that category.  There were probably about 4 books that I didn't even finish, because they were so terrible.

The book I read May 25, 2011 was The Five Minute Marriage by Joan Aiken.  I had read her children's books, like the incredibly awesome Wolves of Willoughby Chase), but this was the first one of her adult books I had read.  It was a deliciously gothic, yet different, sort of novel.  And the last book I recorded was The Girl in Blue by P. G. Wodehouse-- a perfectly wonderful example of Wodehouse that Evan and I read aloud together.

I went weeks at a stretch without reading a whole book, most notably in February when we were heading up to Vaughans' for sugaring every weekend.  Of course, not reading and finishing a book didn't mean I wasn't reading.  I read the entire newspaper, the Syracuse Post-Standard, daily, and we subscribe to four magazines that I read in entirety: This Old House, Fine Homebuilding, Smithsonian, and National Geographic.  I read the picture books the kids get out to the library, both by myself and to the kids.  (Some popular read-aloud choices with Lincoln lately are Good Night Moon and The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton).  I have narrowed my criteria for what I will read lately-- I really don't want to read books about infidelity, or books that use profanity a ton, or books that just aren't well written.

I was surprised at the breakout of categories-- I would have thought I would have read more YA than adult fiction.  I probably chose about 1/3 of my books by browsing library shelves, the rest by requesting books I had seen mentioned by other people, or read about in my daily Shelf Awareness e-mail.

I realize this a fairly tedious posting, I just wanted to record these statistics for my future biographers.  Now I feel compelled to go read an actual book.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

March 2012 Miscellaneous Pictures

Okay, this is getting a bit ridiculous. I uploaded these pictures 18 days ago, but haven't managed the writing portion of this post since then?  I have been busy, just with life and housework and small kids and minor obsessions and the usual things, but I probably could have managed the half hour to knock this out before then.  I am now ignoring the mountains of work piled around me and am going to finish this post.

Even if this post wasn't untimely, it's still a bit of a mess.  It's all pictures from March-- the leftover pictures from when we weren't sugaring or visiting.  Our at-home time.

My African Violet is on one of its "up" mood swings.  I think it's bi-polar-- it's either sitting there lifeless and dull, pouting, or it's blooming extravagantly.  I love how the petals look like they're coated in sugar crystals.

Little boy in in his Carrhart coat.

Taking a walk, one weekend when the Vaughans were down.

Livie had my camera, and Mom and I were strolling along behind the bouncy kids.

Cheyenne will actually smile for someone who isn't her mother.  I love this picture of my messy red-head.

Rilla running back to check on us.

The kids ahead of us.

Running girl.

I think a dog had been spotted, or else Elliott was just taking advantage of Tori's obliging nature, by climbing up in her arms.

This was one of those crazy warm March days, and we even saw flowers!

And a purse in the middle of the road.  It turned out to be our neighbor's purse.

Rilla, getting maximum mileage out of birthday presents by wearing her barrette and drawing with the things from The Box. 

Two months later, The Box is still popular.  I am always having to say, "Rilla, go put Your Box on your bureau!"

Elliott likes Daddy relaxing by playing a computer game.

Lincoln has to put an apron on anytime anyone else does.

Cheyenne, the chef.  She's getting pretty competent in the kitchen.  I'll have to get her on meal duty soon.

Skype-ing with Grandma and Grandpa White.  The kids love when they hear the computer make the little doodle-e-doo noise that means someone is calling them on Skype.

In the throes of March Madness here in Syracuse.  I finally caved and bought them shirts.

Cheyenne wanted to take a picture.  I'm in my post-shower, yet pre-contacts and hairdo phase.  Lincoln is unsure of what's going on.

Yup, Tintin is still huge around here.

Elliott is a very careful colorer.

Sweet little Rilla feet, one hot afternoon nap.

Like most naps, books sprawled all over the bed.

Completely lovely.

One night we walked up the road to retrieve Cheyenne from her friends' house.

Little power walker/runner in her skirt and sneakers!

And a little boy who likes to walk backwards.

I love this little stroller boy.

And his curls.

It was one of those beautiful evenings, and then Elliott noticed how the light was making the airplane trail pretty next to the flag.

Some spring flowers, just because.  I bought them when Evan was in RI for a couple of days for a builder's show.  8 days AFTER he came home, he noticed the flowers, which had been sitting on the dining room table the whole time.

Evan getting an involuntary back massage from Lincoln.

Silly little kids.

We got a free bunkbed from a customer of Evan's.  The kids are over the moon about it, so I had to overcome my dislike of bunk beds (safety, difficulty in changing sheets, etc.) and put it up.  Cheyenne sleeps on the top bunk, and spends most of her spare time up there, reading.  Since then, Evan has made a railing and a ladder for it, but at this time they just stepped from the bottom bunk to Elliott's bureau to the top bunk.  It's kind of funny that three of the kids now sleep in the smallest bedroom (about 7'x9').

See?  I even changed to the "Spring" decorations on the first day of spring.  Mostly because I was sick of the "Autumn" decorations taunting me that I'd never managed to get the winter ones up.

Lincoln's crib, with the indispensable green blankie.

One of the great things about the bunk bed is that we now have a twin bed again, so Cheyenne can use the quilt Grandma Marilyn made for her.

One of the NOT great things about the bunk bed.  When Rilla was "helping" Lincoln get down one day, they both fell to the floor, and Lincoln broke/sprained the pointer finger on his left hand.  This picture doesn't do it justice-- it was a violently awful color, and swollen to at least twice it's normal size.  It was quite the evening when it happened-- I was calmly making supper when I heard an awful thump and knew something horrible had happened.  I was in the bedroom before they were able to catch their breath to cry.  I took Lincoln downstairs to cuddle him.  Rilla, who survived the fall relatively unscathed, ran back up the stairs to get Lincoln's blanket, to make him happier.  She tripped coming down the stairs, and got an enormous goose egg right beside her eye.  Evan, hearing all the crying, came running in the house from outside, with Elliott hot on his heels.  Elliott misjudged the door closing and mashed three of his fingers in the outside door.  So, in the space of about 3 minutes, all three kids received painful injuries.  The dangers of suburbia!

Since I'm such a Scrooge about limiting the kids' computer time, they have to resort to being excited about the play computer.

Rilla, "getting married" by putting the white tiara on her head.  Elliott is not respecting the sanctity of the union-- he's busy running into her bike.

Phew!  I still have pictures from April to put up, as well as lots of May pictures!  Maybe I'll do better about posting if I drop the pretense that I'll be able to do it after the kids go to bed, and start doing it in the morning.  Once the evening rolls around, if I have energy left enough to read someone else's blog, I'm doing good.  Doing it in the morning or afternoon, though, requires successfully fending off lap urchins while ignoring screaming piles of wash and toys and bills and spilled cereal.

Not that I would trade with anyone and their sparkling, quiet office.  I like lap urchins.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Unpopular Decisions I Have Made Today

It is only 9:30 in the morning, and already I have made my name a hissing and a byword among several segments of the population.  Mostly the four young children at my mercy.

Decision #1:  Put Lincoln's blanket away when he's not sleeping.  Lincoln is quite attached to his soft blanket, which is quite fine with me in the context of snuggling to sleep.  However, when he drags it around with him all day long, I think it's excessive.  When I am sweeping the floor, and I have to stop a little monarch from dragging his cloak through the accumulated dust 15 times, it's annoying.  When I have to pick soggy Cheerios off the blanket after breakfast, it's off-putting.  And when I have to buckle a car seat around the blanket, it's too much.  So, blanket, enjoy your rest time in the top shelf of the bedroom closet.  And I'll enjoy Lincoln crying and clinging to my knee saying "Bain!" for the rest of the day.

Decision #2:  Take Marilla's Band-Aid off before 11 years have lapsed.  After listening to 15 minutes about how we were NOT going to take the Band-Aid off in the bath tonight, or this morning, or anytime, because it would hurt, I wrestled Marilla down and took the Band-Aid off.  Surprisingly, I didn't even draw blood.  It was quite encouraging, actually, because the strength with which she fought me off makes me think no one will ever be able to kidnap her against her will.  That skinny little girl has the strength and determination of an ox.

Decision #3:  Stop letting Cheyenne read stupid books.  I have never let Cheyenne read books that were out-right profane or inappropriate for a child, but I have fallen into the habit of letting her pick out her own library books.  However, when Evan and I realized that 90% of the books she picked last time were Goosebumps (kid horror), Sponge Bob Squarepants (from a TV show), Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and Captain Underpants, we got thinking.  We don't let our kids watch television because it is full of stupidity, why let her gorge on a diet of books filled with stupidity?   I've really been conflicted about her reading the Wimpy Kid series for a while now.  It didn't sound bad at first (wimpy kid writes a diary about his life), but when I read some over her shoulder, I couldn't stand the main character.  He is self-centered, mean in a passive way, and utterly unredeemed by nice qualities, as far as I could see.  So I bagged up all the books in the aforementioned series to take back to the library, which Cheyenne found out this morning as she was browsing for a book to read at breakfast.  This decision was definitely NOT a popular one.  There was much stomping around, ameliorated only by one popular decision, to let her wear the high-heeled sandals Aunt Bet had bought for her at the thrift store to school today.

Decision #4:  Writing a pointless blog post before cleaning my house.  At least I'm assuming this will be unpopular with the adults in the house, me included, when I get to the end of the day and still have 13 bins of random stuff strewn about my bedroom, right where I plopped them in my mad cleaning-for-meeting rush yesterday.

Decision #5:  Writing a blog post that includes zero pictures of cute children.  Sorry, far-flung relatives!  I will get to that soonish!

Now, I'm off to evict widows and orphans, since I'm on a roll already...