For old time’s sake

Yesterday morning, I sat in front of my computer waiting for more bad news to appear in my Twitter feed. Some part of me felt it was critical to remain constantly informed, regardless of my inability to actually do anything with most the news I’m reading.

Out of the blue, it dawned on me: This is not healthy behavior! So I stepped away from the computer with the twin intentions to (1) do something kinder to myself now and (2) check news only intermittently and briefly throughout the day.

But what was there to do?

My eyes landed on a couple of journals on a dining room curio cabinet. Continue reading “For old time’s sake”

Plenty

In about an hour, my kids will wrap up their second week of school-at-home. Their teachers are providing virtual instruction and managing schoolwork, so it’s not really homeschool. It’s just regular(ish) school, from a distance.

The first couple of days last week were challenging for one reason. While my littler one already knew exactly what to do and got to work doing it, my older one had heaps of work to navigate based only on an email or two. Fortunately, he’d found his footing by the end of the week. Continue reading “Plenty”

Balm for my heart

This morning, I chatted with a friend on the phone for fifteen minutes. I had to fumble for the right words after many days largely homebound, but just hearing her voice was balm for my heart.

After I got off the phone, I realized I wanted needed more real voice-to-voice connection with people I love. I tried video-calling my sister Rache, but couldn’t reach her.

My family and I scrunched into frame to wish one family friend a belated happy birthday. She was out looking at adopting a puppy, so our call was short, but the loving connection very real. Continue reading “Balm for my heart”

When I Try

Last Sunday morning, I saw Brené Brown’s Instagram sticky note announcing a 15-minute streamed service that evening. I told my kids that we’d all be “attending” together.

On Sunday afternoon, my boys and I crowded around my husband’s cell phone to watch. Surprisingly, even my husband stopped what he was doing and listened in.

My heart felt so light as I listened to the service, singing along when music played. I felt both invigorated and inspired. Come what may, I’d be overflowing with empathy and kindness, having had such a wonderful opportunity to perspective!

I then watched the Democratic presidential primary debate between Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden.

All that gratitude flowing through my heart seemed to evaporate from the premises. I went from compassionate to combative in a matter of moments, ultimately ending the two-hour debate feeling as if I were being pursued by a sabertooth tiger. Continue reading “When I Try”

Ground rules for our new normal

Late last Friday morning, my husband and I received notice that our kids’ school would be closed for “at least” the next two weeks. We’d known it was coming and prepared for we figured would probably end up being more than two weeks at home.

One of our key preparations had to do with laying down hoe ground rules. As best as we could imagine it, what rules could we set to make these weeks less stressful and more bearable for us all?

The conversation itself made me grateful for a recommendation my primary care provider made middle of last year. She told me to check out Brené Brown’s Netflix special. I won’t say much about that here, having already written several posts describing how the special and then Brown’s books transformed me. What I will say is that one takeaway from all my Brown-reading was this:

Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind.

Before reading Brown, I’d misunderstood Boundaries as Really Big Things to be set in Really Big Situations. Thanks to read Brown, I understood that boundaries are best set small and early, which inspired this ground-rules discussion. Continue reading “Ground rules for our new normal”

Our Son

My kids do not enjoy bedtime. This is putting it lightly.

My husband and I have a handful of tools we use on our kids at bedtime only. One of the  bedtime-only tools I use after especially exhausting days is Reading My Books: “Oh, you’re not ready for your own stories? Cool! I’ll read to you from mine!”

Over the last couple of years, my kids have heard Neil Postman, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Naomi Klein, Rebecca Solnit, and a handful of other non-kidlit authors. Typically, my kids don’t have to listen to any author too long before hollering, “Stop! Stop! Please read one of our books!”

Something funny happened a couple nights ago, though. Continue reading “Our Son”

In The Forecast: Lots of Reading

Last month, I wrote about my kids and I getting Los Angeles Public Library cards. We were all enthusiastic then, but we’re even more enthusiastic now. 

The kids’ school and our favorite physical world destinations–including, as of the day before yesterday, the LAPL!–will be closed for at least the next two weeks. While there will be chores and some schoolwork to do here, we’ll also have a lot more time to read. 

Many of the books we’ll read here will come off of our own shelves. Others will come from the library via Overdrive, an app that grants LAPL patrons access to a couple million electronic resources–books and magazines and videos, oh my!*

A smaller handful of books will be paper books my kids and I checked out from our LAPL branch library.

On our last trip to the library, my five-year-old checked out books 2-4 of Kallie George’s Heartwood Hotel series. After ignoring the first book, half-finished, for months, he recently fell head over heels for the tiny critters who fill this tree-forest hotel in the woods. 

This morning, I snuggled up with him and read him the last chapter ofThe Greatest Gift (Heartwood Hotel #2). I said a quiet thanks that, due to the library closure, we’ll have this book on hand to read and reread for an extra few weeks.

Even as my littler one and I read that book, my older son was off reading My Hero Academia Vol. 22. Having never heard of this manga just two or three weeks ago, he’s since plowed through almost all of them the way he’d eat pizza: with gusto, not to mention the keenest of focus! 

I’d recently contemplated checking out some new manga for him. I wish I had! And yet, there’s plenty of manga available on Overdrive. If my son has a will to find more, there’s certainly a way!

* Residents of the City of L.A. can check out LAPL electronic resources even without a physical card. You can find more info here. If you’re outside the City of L.A. and have an LAPL library card, you can use your physical card to register for access. 

Outside that zone, please check your own local library for their electronic resources! Alternatively, you can search Overdrive for your library, or libraries; I’ve added more than one via the app.

As I pointed out to a family member in rural Oregon a few weeks back, even their library has tons of online resources available to check out. Yours might, too!

Four decades of libraries

My siblings and I practically grew up at our local library. Apart from having so many more books than even we bibliovores could ever hope to read, it had heating in the winter and air conditioning in the summer. What wasn’t to love?!

I grew up loving–and arguably surviving thanks to–both books and libraries. It was thus inevitable that my own children would visit their local library frequently, and each have their own local library cards.

We all enjoy our local library, and how we can have books delivered from one branch to another within a day or two.

Recently, we got another delightful library surprise: Continue reading “Four decades of libraries”