Tuesday, December 27, 2011

What's on my Nightstand -- December 2011

Forgive the lack of formatting or pictures or anything. I've been visting family, and have forgone computer time for real-time interactions with real-life breathing people. Crazy, right? I've also interacted with my new Kindle Fire< and some real books too. On my Nightstand this month, I have some books that will help me reach my new goal for 2012 (find out more about that in the On Reading column this Sunday at 5 Minutes for Books). I also have review titles, of course.
You can find out what other bloggers are reading each month on the 4th Tuesday of each month at What's on Your Nightstand at 5 Minutes for Books.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Gone too Soon

My aunt's husband, my husband's grandfather, my grandfather.
My friend's best friend, my friend's father,
and most recently -- Just a few weeks ago --
My friend's husband, my contemporary.

They all were gone too soon.
Their lives shortened by cancer.
It's too late for them, but there are so many who it's not:
A friend who just got the dreaded diagnosis,
A friend in remission, who holds her breath at every checkup.

We've all been touched by cancer.
We've seen victory and we've seen defeat.
Here's to more victory, more birthdays, less defeat.


This post is sponsored by American Cancer Society, but my opinions, and the poem, are my own.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Unexpected Reading Choices

My Kids' Picks post this month revolves around some very unexpected choices (see more at 5 Minutes for Books)

The first is the fact that my chatty and self-control challenged son has now been grounded from books!

Specifically, he's been grounded from Calvin and Hobbes. A year ago, I was concerned that though Kyle could read well, he never wanted to. Now, after a wonderful summer of reading, and specifically a found obsession love of Calvin and Hobbes cartoon books this fall, it's something SO dear to him, that I'm leveraging it against him.

That's what I call unexpected.

He's already lost computer privileges and been disciplined in other ways, but after a bad report last week, I told him that if he got another note on his conduct chart before Christmas, he'd be grounded from Calvin and Hobbes. He came home yesterday with a somber look and the news that he had gotten a note. I asked if he knew what that meant, and he did, and boy was there some sadness at that punishment being put into place!

For the past few months, I'd say he easily logs 5 or more hours of week of comic reading. When he gets up in the morning, he spends a few minutes reading, then takes the current anthology to the table to read while he eats his Pop Tart (Do you allow reading at the table???). He always takes a collection in the car with him when we are driving anywhere, even for the 10 minute ride to church.

A punishment should be felt, and this one will be. I've made my point, and I hope that I have confirmation that his behavior has improved, and I'll lift the ban for the weekend. I don't allow him to count the comics towards his school 20-minute a night reading homework, so he does still read -- and enjoy -- other books. He's currently reading his longest book ever, at 209 pages (since long books are still intimidating to him even if they are on his level), Melonhead by Katy Kelly. He's also enjoyed checking out the Franny K. Stein: Mad Scientist books at school, as recommended by his 2nd grade classmates.

Amanda (13) has let her curiosity (and her friends' badgering) get the best of her. She's now on book two of Twilight Series. She's been trying to get her friend to read The Hunger Games, and they made a deal to swap favorites. Her friend loves romance (and apparently sparkly vampires), and sure enough after getting into the Hunger Games, the romantic triangle is appealing to her.

When Amanda started Twilight, she said the writing was bad (That's my girl!!), but then I saw a post on her Facebook page once she had gotten 100 or so pages into it: "That awkward moment when you actually like Twilight..."

She says Bella annoys her (yay!), but she likes the plot, which I've heard from my adult friends who have been sucked in as well (no pun intended, but it's pretty punny, no?). Two years ago I posted about young girls wanting to read Twilight. I was quite sure that I was right in not letting her read them then, but it's fine now. And looking back at that post, I look forward to discussing it with her when I read it. I don't know if the whole series will suck me in or not, but I am going to read the first one, maybe even over Christmas.

Have your kids surprised you with any reading choices? I invite you to follow me on twitter @jenndon or subscribe to my feed

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Under 35? Listen up! Over 35? Commiserate!

This is not really the season to be discussing this, but I feel I must. In spite of the fact that all of you are going around guzzling eggnog* and eating fudge and pie and hor d'oerves, there's something that must be said.

It's all uphill after 35.

If you have 5 (or 10 or 20) pounds to lose and you are lucky to have the metabolism of someone in her early 30's, buckle down and shed those pounds now, because if your body is anything like mine, the pounds will come on more easily and they will not come off.

I had Kyle when I was 33. A couple of months after he was born, I buckled down and lost the weight. In fact, I think that at some point after I was as small as I've ever been. But something happened a few years later. Pounds crept back on and the scale inched towards its all-time high.  I would have a week or two of concerted good eating and exercise -- and . . . .

That's right -- nothing.  Or very little anyway. It's frustrating.

Last spring was the worst. Those of you older than me can tell me if I can expect it to keep on getting worse, but I was 40 years old, I was doing a very intense workout and was dedicated to doing it 4 times a week. I did it for two months straight. I also watched what I ate, but I wasn't majorly cutting calories. However, the net loss was approximately nothing. Talk about discouraging!!

This is a public service announcement. If you are under 35, it's not too late, but it might be soon!!  Lose weight now while you can!! The alternative is that you can just buy some bigger jeans and bras and learn to live with the new you.

I'm not giving up yet, and when I started tracking my eating last month, I realized that my "occasional" splurges were probably more regular, so that could be more at fault than I reckoned last Spring.

*Kyle loves the stuff, and at Thanksgiving I bought him some pumpkin eggnog, but I happened to look at the calories for a 4 ounce serving -- yes half a cup -- and my first sip was my last.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

An Empty Square

I really love my BusyBodyBook Planner. I use those little squares to fill in my regular weekly activities, like Bible study and school volunteering, and then I use the space/squares to the right of that first column to just scrawl, as you can see.

This morning I noticed I have an empty square -- blessedly free of any commitment, any place to be, and even anything that doesn't usually end up in that square like a trip to the grocery store (but sometimes ends up somewhere in the scrawl to the right). I'm wearing my big oversized hoodie sweatshirt and jeans and I probably won't even put on makeup.

When I was getting Amanda off to school, she reminded me of something that is not on there. On Tuesday, she told me she was staying after school all this week to work on a mural with her art class, so I will be going to pick her up later, but honestly I don't even have to put on shoes if I don't want to, and because this is the last day, she's staying until 5:00pm or so, so that's a long way away.

There are other things that are swirling through my head this morning. There are Cybils books that need to be read, there are reviews to be written, and posts covering my recent press junket that have to be finished (Chipwrecked and We Bought a Zoo). Closets need to be culled and presents need to be wrapped. There are a couple of friends on my mind who I'd love to call. My dog is whining at the front door for her morning doggie playdate walk that will occur after the kids get on the bus this morning.

There's never a truly empty square, but even though there's much to be done, I'm thankful that I get to stay home and do it all.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Decking the Halls -- I Finally Did It!!

You may wonder why the word "finally" is in the title. After all, it's only December 6, though Thanksgiving weekend is when many people decorate especially here in the South (I did notice that in New England, many people waited a week or two longer). The "finally" refers to the fact that unlike recent years where I've been a little Grinchy about decorating, I've done it up right. I even got out my Christmas dishes and coffee mugs. It's been years and YEARS since I did that. Christmas cards? Well, that's another story. Sigh. Where does the time go??
More on the "A" sweatshirts that they both LOVE coming soon!
We picked out our Christmas tree Texas-style. Instead of trudging through the cold and chopping down a tree off a family lot as we did when we lived in Connecticut (that is, when we actually got a tree, which might just have been 4 or 5 out of 7 Christmases -- shame!!), we visited our local home improvement warehouse. For less than $30, we got a lovely 6 - 7 foot tree. However, with our high ceilings, it looks a little tiny, so we definitely need to go with the 9 foot next year. Baby steps. And it was so cute watching Kyle help Terry set it up (and much better than the marital disharmony that results when I try to help).

You can read all about it, and see even more pictures over at 5 Minutes for Mom. Please click over there now.