What I Want For My Daughter

stuffed rabbit
                                     
My daughter made a nest in the middle of the living room.  It consists of lots of pillows, tons of blankets, and a few big pieces of foam my husband brought home from work for her.  (He knew she would find something to do with them.)  She sits in the middle of it all with her stuffed animals and her books and her cat and plays.  She plays, because she is ten.   It makes me happy.  The nest has been there for days and I think she hopes to leave it for the whole winter and I might never get my living room back again, but it makes me happy.  Because she is still a little girl and she is acting like a little girl.

Sometimes I think we live in a strange world.  A world that overprotects kids and hovers over them and doesn't want them to walk down the street by themselves.  But it is also a world that dresses little girls like mini adults and expects them to be done with dolls and toys before they need to be.  Where is the balance in that?

What do I want for my daughter?  Of course I want happiness, that goes without saying.  But I also want her to be strong and independent.  I don't want her to turn to me all the time.  She needs to stand on her own two feet.  If that means she trips over them a few times in the process of learning, that is fine.  You can't learn if you don't fail a little bit.  I want her to keep getting up again.  I want her to walk down the street by herself.  I am not always going to be there to hold her hand.

I want her to be herself. I want her to have the strength to do what she wants. Sometimes the world tries to squeeze you into a mold.  Even little girls can feel that.  You should dress a certain way and talk a certain way and like certain things.  I want to teach her that being different is fine.  Being different can be great.  

I don't want her to be in a hurry to grow up.  There are plenty of years ahead for makeup and boys and cellphones and worrying about what she look like.  (I don't ever want her to worry about what she looks like, but let's face it, she will.)  I want her to be a kid because being a kid is awesome.

I want her to make nests in the living room and run around outside and get grass stains on her knees.  I want her to go to sleep hugging her stuffed bunny and I want her to wake up without worrying about what her hair looks like.

I want balance for her.  I want to teach her to grow up without forcing her to before she is ready.  I want to be there to comfort her when she falls but I want to have the strength to let her fall.  I want confidence for her, the confidence that someone is there to help her if she needs it but that same someone is sure she can handle it on her own.  Security.  I want security for her.

I want wisdom.  The wisdom to let her be a kid while teaching her how to be an adult.

I want nests on my living room floor for just a little while longer.





Books I Bought

I mentioned recently that I went on a bit of a book buying spree.  I ordered them online and they have slowly been trickling in.  It makes getting the mail much more exciting.  I miss the days of real letters, when you never knew what was going to be in your mailbox and sometimes it was something nice, not just bills.  Ordering books recreates that feeling.  Maybe I should find a pen pal, it would be cheaper.  But then I wouldn't have the books.  You can't have everything.  On that insightful thought let's see what I got.

book stack


To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis.  I mentioned this book in a recent post. It had just come in the mail which is what made me think of it.  It is such a fun read.  Time travel always gets me.

Wartime Women A Mass-Observation Anthology 1937-45. Edited by Dorothy Sheridan. I have mentioned before that I am very interested in Britain during WWII.  I have been fascinated by the other Mass-Observation diaries I have read.

Ancestral Voices by James Lees-Milne.  His diaries of the war years.  Of Course.  He was involved with the National Trust.  Apparently it  has a lot about country houses.  I read a review of it somewhere and have been keeping my eye out for it ever since. It was described as one of the great diaries, comparable to Pepys. I think his diaries are in multiple volumes but this is what I found first.

The Country of the Pointed Firs and Other Stories by Sarah Orne Jewett.  A collection of stories about life in a seaport on the Maine coast as told through the eyes of a summer visitor.  The preface is by Willa Cather which leads me to expect good things.

The Makioka Sisters by Junchiro Tanizaki.  This was recommended by areaderofliterature. I said I wanted to learn more about Japanese or Indonesian literature.  She gave me some suggestions and this is what I am starting with.  She compared it to Jane Austen.  I am sold right there.

The Land of Green Ginger by Winifred Holtby.  I really enjoyed South Riding when I read it a few years ago.  I thought I would try another of her novels.  Besides, I put this on my Classics Club list so I am going to need a copy eventually.

To the North by Elizabeth Bowen.  I really enjoy her writing and I haven't read this one yet.

Keep Smiling Through. The Home Front 1939-45 by Susan Briggs.  Self-explanatory at this point.  It's England during the war, I am going to read it.

The Children's War by Juliet Gardiner.  Another book about WWII but from the perspective of the children.

On looking over this list I think it is possible that my interest in Britain during the war years is getting a little out of hand.  I think I have one more book coming.  Oh, and I just realized one got left out of the picture because I am reading it.  It is The Green and the Gray by Timothy Zahn.  It is science fiction.  My son loves Timothy Zahn's Star Wars books and I read this years ago.  I thought he might like it but he is going to have to wait for me to read it first.

Have you read any of these?

Here is one more picture from my walk today, just because it makes me happy.  I love fall. It is possible I have mentioned that before.



Blue skies, crisp leaves to stomp on, gorgeous color, and new books.  What more can you ask for out of life?

This and That

book



Blue skies and colorful leaves make me happy.  It is a pity autumn is so short.  I love the cool, crisp days, the smell of the leaves, the sound they make as they crunch underfoot, and the fact that a cup of tea always sounds like a good idea.  Of course, a cup of tea sounds good to me even when it is 95 out but it definitely more comfortable to drink it in the fall!

Unfortunately, this weekend was gloomy and occasionally rainy plus my husband had a nasty cold so we didn't go for the hike I wanted to take, but it was still pleasant.  I made cream of potato soup, buffalo chicken pizza, and cheese pizza.  My son has been told by the doctor that he has to gain at least 10 pounds and he will always eat pizza so I make it a lot.  I also fed him an ice cream sundae.  I need to remember that he is the one that needs to gain weight, not me.  Let's just forget that I ate an ice cream sundae too....

We have a free one month trial of Amazon Prime.  I think I like it. The free two-day shipping is nice, but what I am really enjoying are the movies. Last night I started watching the BBC Pride and Prejudice again.  I haven't seen it in a long time and Netflix doesn't have it so I was thrilled when I found it on Amazon.  It is definitely my favorite version of Pride and Prejudice.  So many movies based on books just annoy me because they change the story too much but this one is very similar to the Pride and Prejudice in my head.  And I can swoon over Mr Darcy.

I really haven't read anything amazingly good lately.  I have been in the mood to read fluff.  You know, the books you read just so you can race through and enjoy the story.  I frequently want character driven books where you read them slowly and enjoy the language and development but sometimes I just want the literary equivalent of chips and candy...and ice cream sundaes.  This was a junk food weekend literally and book wise.

I have been thinking of getting one of those fitness band thingies.  (I am sure you can see the segue from junk food to fitness bands.)  I am just not sure how useful it really is.  Will it be interesting for a week or so and then I forget about it or will it be a good motivator to walk more?  Does anyone have one and what do you think?  I feel better and have fewer migraines when I exercise a lot.  I got out of the habit over the summer because it was just so hot and I hate gyms.  I am not enough of a people person and I prefer to sweat in solitary loneliness.  So now I just need to motivate myself to start exercising again.  Don't worry, this is not suddenly going to become a fitness blog, I just thought maybe if I announced my need to exercise to the whole internet I would be shamed into doing it.

On reading this over it does seem to be a post without a purpose.  I am sorry about that...kind of.  I occasionally worry that the people who read this for the book blog things are going to be annoyed with posts like this but then I think that this blog is supposed to be a reflection of me, or at least that is what I thought when I started it, and I am not completely books.  Almost completely, but not quite.  Is it bad that I am already thinking about what a great library my son's room will make when he moves out?  Remember, he is only 15.  The poor child.  Though in my defense, he thinks he is going to move out as soon as he turns 18.  I think we both have a rude awakening coming.  He is going to have to wait to move out and I am going to have to wait for my library.  He does say he is going to come home for his favorite foods and I say I am going to stalk him and drag him home if he doesn't visit so I think we have our priorities straight.

So, how was your weekend?  Full of junk food and junk books like mine?












Yesterday, When I Was Young


maple leaf and acorns

I looked in the mirror yesterday and saw my mother looking back at me.  It was horrifying.  Not because I hate my mother, I hasten to add, but because my mother is older and I am young. Or so I thought until I looked in the mirror last night.  I turned 45 this month (anyone who thought they were reading a blog written by someone young and cool, I am sorry.)  and I think the problem is that in my head I am still in my mid-twenties.  Sometimes I find myself talking to people in that age group and I feel like I fit in until I look around and realize...I could be their mother.  It is a weird feeling to perceive yourself one way and  then realize that others perceive you completely differently.  I assume it only gets stranger as you get older.  My 90-year-old grandmother says she feels about 45 inside.

My grandmother isn't one to let age defeat her.  I hope I take after her.  She had a stroke a little over a year ago which left her in a wheelchair and basically paralyzed on her right side.  You would think she would have enough to do keeping up with physical therapy and relearning how to perform basic life skills but she has done so much more.  She had started writing poetry a few years ago and was determined to continue even though she couldn't hold a pen anymore.  She got herself a tablet and learned how to use it.  She can type with her left hand.  It is time consuming but she does it.  But the thing that really amazes me is that she has taught herself how to paint with her left hand.  She now has a whole wall of her artwork. Her enthusiasm for life has not diminished as she has gotten older.

I guess what I am trying to say is that I know that life isn't over at 45 but I think I need to figure out what it means to me to age gracefully.  That is different for everyone.  For me, it has little to do with whether I have gray hair (I have some and I don't care) and everything to do with attitude and a zest for life. Is it too trite to say I want to be young at heart?  My grandmother is young at heart and because of that, people see past the 90-year-old body and see the person inside.  I think too often, once you reach a certain age, people just see the age and not the personality.

I also think we live in a crazy world where men become distinguished as they get older and women just get old, or at least that is the common viewpoint.  Where is the fairness in that?  And if I think about it, maybe some of my concern about getting older is because of the emphasis the society we live in puts on appearance.  I know that in stores I frequently reach for clothes I like and then hesitate.  I don't want to look like mutton dressed as lamb. (that expression makes me laugh.  I was hoping I could work it in.)  But then, why should women dress like an old ewe just because they are no longer 22?  I think I refuse to do that.  Wear what looks good on you and on your (current) body and leave it at that.  That is part of aging gracefully.

I wouldn't really want to go back to being 22 anyway.  I like the me I am now.  I am more confident, less concerned with fitting in, happier in my own skin even though that skin has a few stretch marks and scars.

I am still going to be startled when I realize I am old enough to be the mother of a 25-year-old.  I still will fall back in shock when I see my mother's face reflected at me in the mirror. But really, I am 45, I have gray hair, and I don't care.

In Case of Emergency



I was lying in bed the other night wondering what five books I would take with me if I was stranded on a deserted island.  As you do. Of course, this led me to wonder how I ended up on the island.

Was my ship captured by pirates and after I spurned the captain's advances, I was put ashore where I stood gallantly waving farewell with my trunk by my side?  (the trunk has to be there to contain the books.)

Was my ship broken apart on the rocks after a day and night of a storm such as was never known in that latitude before?  I made it ashore by clinging to a spar, washing up half-drowned, possibly with my trunk half-buried in the sand beside me.  (again, the books.)

Maybe I was making a valiant effort to circumnavigate the globe in my own airplane and crash landed on the shore.  I am now using the pieces of the plane to build a shelter and make tools (I am handy that way) but I can't bring myself to burn the books to cook my food.  

Maybe I am a detective investigating a ring of drug smugglers that operate on a cruise line.  Unfortunately they have seen through my disguise and cast me adrift in a lifeboat to perish on the open sea.  Instead I (and my books) after days of agony and near death (for me, not the books. Obviously.) manage to navigate to the island.  Probably by using a compass made from the debris in the bottom of the lifeboat.  

I am leaning toward the airplane story line.  It gives me so much to work with once I am on the island.  Supplies, food, first-aid, fresh water, all of it right there in the airplane.  

I think I might be getting sidetracked here.  So, if I crash land on an island, what books would I not mind rereading?  Oh, and just assume that for some reason I have a handy dandy survival handbook.  That is not one of my five books.  Thinking it over, I think if I was adventurous enough to fly around the world, I would also be smart enough to plan ahead and have survival supplies, including a handbook.  Here are the other books I would have packed in my airplane.

The complete works of Jane Austen.  Is that cheating?  Possibly, but I can make the rules and her works are available in one volume, so there you go.  I can read Jane Austen, flip to the front and start all over again.  She is eminently rereadable. 

Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers.  Because, Peter Wimsey.  I've always been a bit in love with him.  

One Fine Day by Mollie Panter-Downes.  A beautifully written novel about one day in the life of a couple living in a small English village just after WWII.  I have read it several times and wouldn't mind reading it several more. And English village life would be a welcome respite after hacking my way through jungles and catching my dinner with a makeshift hook.  

The Diary of a Provincial Lady by E.M. Delafield.  Because it is funny and witty and being stranded on an island isn't all fun and games.  This would cheer me up on even the worst day.

To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis.  It is so much I love, references to British literature including and obviously Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome, time travel, humor, nonsense.  It bears repeated reading because each time you catch a reference or a joke you missed the time before.  In fact, I want to reread it right now.  And I want to reread Three Men in a Boat.  If I could have a sixth book maybe that would be it.  

Ask me tomorrow and this list would probably be completely different but for right now, there you go.  My list for when stranded on a deserted island. Which on some days doesn't sound too bad.  What would you pick?  




So you want to have a teenager

teenager playing cards


What is that? You didn't say you wanted a teenager, you said you wanted a baby? Well, I hate to break it to you but babies turn into teenagers. I know, that is a scary thought but don't worry, babies and teenagers actually have a lot in common.

First of all, they both need a lot of sleep but neither babies nor teenagers ever want to go to bed.  With both of them you will find yourself pacing the floor begging them to please go to bed because morning comes really early.  The benefit to teenagers is that they also do not like to get up so they won't appear at your bedside at 5:45 dragging a teddy bear and suggesting you play cars with them.  That is a joy solely reserved for you with your two-year-old.

Both babies and teenagers also want to eat.  All the time.  Both of them are picky.  Babies want food with no discernible color such as cheerios, fries, and nuggets. Teenagers, on the other hand, want pizza with a side of buffalo chicken, at least that is my experience. They also both leave a trail of food debris behind them.  Babies leave goldfish and cheerios in your couch, teenagers leave chip bags on the floor and empty orange juice cartons on the counter.

Both of them are convinced they know best and they don't want anyone to tell them what to do.  We will leave it at that.

Can you imagine how excited you will be the first time your baby speaks?  How happy you will be and how you will try to get them to say more words?  You will be just as pleased when your teenager communicates with you. In case you think you are destined to a life where you are always trying to get your child to talk, let me assure you that in the middle years children never stop talking.  They are more than happy to endlessly discuss the ramifications of their favorite TV show or debate which Lego set is best.  In fact, they will probably still be talking as you tuck them into bed.  If you have kids like mine, they will talk in their sleep. Teenagers and babies make you work for it. I think they don't talk just because they know you want them to.

Babies and teenagers can both destroy a room in ten seconds flat.  Just take a two minute shower and see what your toddler has done to your living room in that time.  Or watch what happens to your house when your teenager walks in the door from school.  A backpack left here, a sweatshirt there, shoes the size of boats kicked off in the middle of the room.  If you are fortunate enough to have a teenager and a baby at the same time then just go ahead and buy a bulldozer.  You are going to need it.

With both of them, you will see the charm below the annoying brattiness.  That two-year-old who is whiny and difficult?  You will know it is because he needs a nap.  That sixteen-year-old who is kind of mouthy?  You will know it is because she is feeling shy.  With both you will feel a little annoyed with the people who can't see below the surface.

Teenagers and babies are both funny.  Not always intentionally and they are not always pleased with you for finding them amusing but they are funny.  It is their saving grace.

Both of them are clumsy.  Babies because they are just learning how to do basic things like walk and hold things, teenagers because they are trying to learn how to do the same basic things with a body that has grown so big that it feels like it doesn't belong to them.

Both of them find inappropriate humor amusing.

Both of them bring more joy into your life than you thought possible.  And more work and worry.

So you want to have a teenager.

I have one you can borrow....





Goodbye, Mr Chips



This short novel by James Hilton packs quite the sentimental and nostalgic punch within its few pages.  Mr Chipping is a teacher at Brookfield Academy.  He is not an especially skilled or motivating teacher but he eventually becomes a beloved institution at the school.  The book follows his life in a series of reminiscences from his early years as an unsure teacher, his brief marriage, through the war years where he carried on for the school, until he is an old man still living for and through the school.

The Time We Found a Snake in the Family Room

My husband walked into the kitchen yesterday and said "look who I found downstairs."  I turned around and he was holding a snake.

I'll stop for a moment and let that sink in.

He was holding a snake.  In the house. And no, we don't have a pet snake.  I hope you are as horrified as I was.

 At first I thought it was one of my daughter's toys but then I realized its tail was waving around in the air.  Now, before you are too amazed by this story I have to admit that it was just a little garter snake but still, a snake is a snake and it does not belong in my house.  I have spent the last twenty-four hours thinking I see things moving out of the corner of  my eye.  It is a good thing my husband was home and caught the snake.  If it was just me I might have had to resort to burning the house down as the only feasible means of ridding the house of a snake because there is no way on earth I would ever touch it.

My kids, on the other hand, wanted to keep it.

On a more pleasant note, I stopped in at the library last week and found a whole bunch of books on their free book rack.

book stack


The top three are familiar to me but the rest I just grabbed because they were older looking books and who knows, there might be a gem among them.  I think I will start with The Lady and the Deep Blue Sea.  Somehow the title leads me to expect something so bad it is good.

After I went to the library I went for a walk by the river that is across the road.  It is a good walk to do by myself because there is a road right by it so I feel safe and if I keep looking towards the river I can pretend I am in the country.  The country that is filled with the sound of traffic, but the country still.

river and trees

It was a beautiful day, warm and sunny.  I loved the way the light was dancing off the water.  Most of the leaves haven't changed yet but there was just enough color to make it look like fall.

I just looked up The Lady and the Deep Blue Sea.  I think it might live up to my expectations.  It has two reviews on goodreads, both of them five stars.  The story involves clipper ships, a race, and a red haired captain's wife. Here is a quote from the description on goodreads.  "Yet not even Jenny knew just how supreme a challenge the race was to be for also aboard was George Cartwright, owner of the Indian Commercial Line, keeping an eye on his ship, his captain -- and his captain's wife."  If you can resist a description like that you are a stronger person than I am.  Oh, the potential for drama!

The Law and the Lady by Wilkie Collins



The Law and the Lady by Wilkie Collins is Victorian melodrama pure and simple.  We have a man harboring a secret, poison, deformity, insanity, a murder trial, a faithful family retainer, a near fatal illness, and the list just goes on and on.

Valeria marries Eustace against the wishes of both their families.  On their honeymoon she discovers he is harboring a dark secret.  Eustace leaves because he can't face her knowing the truth which is that  he had been married before and his wife died of poison.  Eustace was tried for her murder and a verdict of Not Proven was brought in.  This meant there was not enough evidence to convict him but, at the same time, he was not totally cleared.  Valeria has a blind faith in  her husband and decides to clear his name.

Little Things #4

book necklaces

Aren't these the sweetest necklaces?  My son gave me the Pride and Prejudice one and the bookworm is from my daughter.  They make me happy every time I look at them. ( I was talking about the necklaces but I suppose you can apply that to the kids as well.)

More About Me


Because, let's face it, I blog because I want a place to talk about me.  Well, I am kind of joking but not really. This is my place to be me, to write my thoughts, and to ramble on aimlessly when I feel like it, but a little more information about me might be nice.  I think all you know about me so far is that I love books, I have a husband and children, and I am going to London in April.  (Hurray!  I will mention that at every opportunity. Sorry.) That doesn't really tell you much though, does it?  So here are the first few facts about me that pop into my head.

I am an introvert and shy.  No, those are not the same things.  And yes, I knew I was an introvert before the internet made it popular.  The whole introvert thing is a blog post in and of itself.  I have a lot of thoughts meandering through my head about the subject.  I'll save them for later.  The shy thing is probably why I have a blog.  I just find it easier to write than talk unless I know you well. I came across a quote I like in The Ginger Griffin.  The heroine was described as being "caught, as usual, between the flood of her ideas and the lack of words in which to clothe them."  If I know you I talk too much but strangers think I am quiet.  My husband can't understand how they could ever think that.  Poor man. Apparently the flood of ideas and the words in which to clothe them come together when I am around him.

I grew up in Connecticut, moved to Illinois when I got married, and then moved back to Connecticut about eight years later.  Illinois was fine, we lived outside Chicago, but it is just so flat and treeless.  I felt exposed all the time.  The east coast is so cozy and hilly and full of trees.  My husband says it can be claustrophobic.  He likes wide open spaces.  Funny how we are affected by where we are raised.

Old Furnace state park

I like to bake. I especially like to bake if I am stressed.  If my family comes home and finds the kitchen counters covered with various baked goods they know to watch out. That is a sure sign I am having a bad day. Oh, I also express  my affection through baked goods.  If you have never received cookies from me then maybe I really am not too fond of you.

To go along with that, I am gluten intolerant.  I know it is faddish now but my doctor suggested giving up gluten in an attempt to control horrible migraines.  It helped though it isn't a cure.  So I bake but can't eat it.  Life isn't fair.

When I was a child I wanted to be a travel writer.  I couldn't believe people were paid to travel the world and then write about it.  It still sounds like a dream job to me.

I met my husband in Germany.  We were both on vacation. We got married a year after we met.

I am the most uncoordinated person I know.  Organized sports are a nightmare, I can't dance to save my life, and exercise videos are a...challenge.

Cheesecake is my favorite dessert. I also like to bake cheesecake.  I rarely give that away.  If you are given cheesecake by me you must be one of my favorite people in the world.

I have always wanted to live in Europe.  I think I need to be a travel writer based in Europe.  Could life get any better?  And then I could learn another language which would be fantastic.

I must be boring because I have had trouble coming up with these facts.  Or else I just over analyze.  I kept thinking "Do you really want to tell everyone that?"  Though really, I should spill all my secrets now when there aren't too many of you reading.






Books Beside My Bed

It probably should be "books on my nightstand" but I broke the leg off my nightstand and haven't managed to repair it so we will go with this.  Though honestly something like 'books strewn around my house so I can't find them when I want them" would be more accurate.

I tend to read multiple books at once and right now I think I have four going.  What I read depends so much on my mood so I like to have choices at all times.  I must admit that once in a while I get confused, especially when I am using my Kindle and don't have the cover to remind me of what I am reading.  Currently I am reading:

The Blitz by Juliet Gardiner.  I am really fascinated by the social history of WWII particularly in relation to England.  I am really not sure how or why this interest began.  I have been sitting here trying to remember and I just can't.  I am sure it began with a book at some point but this interest is so long-standing I can't remember the source.  Possibly my mother reading An Episode of Sparrows by Rumer Godden aloud when I was a child.  That book made a big impression on me.  Anyway, I am finding The Blitz fascinating and horrifying all at the same time. I only started it yesterday so I haven't gotten that far.
book--The Blitz