In the great green room…

there was a telephone, and a red balloon…

Goodnight Moon has become The Baby’s very favorite book. In fact, it was the first book he took any interest in beyond chewing. One day when he was about 4 or 5 months old, he was looking at it on the floor and we had to leave, and he cried as I put him in his car seat until I handed him back his book, and he babbled the whole way to the grocery store, reading to himself (I like to think.)

We ended up being given three copies as gifts before his arrival, and I’m glad we didn’t give any away because I can see we’re going to need them.

Somehow this most classic book wasn’t a part of my own childhood, and honestly the garish colors and lack of punctuation made me wonder what all the fuss was about. (not to mention the third painting on the wall — not the cow jumping over the moon, nor the three little bears sitting on chairs, but the rabbit fly fishing in a river for another rabbit… wth?)

But seeing The Baby’s delight all there is to look at, and hearing the words lilting like a prayer (“Please, God, let my baby go to sleep?”) have cemented this story in my brain for the rest of eternity.

We don’t read it every night. In fact, this is the book that marks that it’s time to go to sleep. But Goodnight Moon will always hold a place in my memories of The Baby’s early days.

Speaking of books, we are nearly, nearly there with fully babyproofing The Baby’s bedroom. (Though I think I’ll keep saying “nearly done babyproofing” until he’s got his learner’s permit… He seems to have a real knack for beating me to the punch in this particular battle.)

I will take pictures of the rest once I’ve tied up a few loose ends, but here is a sneak peak of a new reading corner. We ditched the regular old bookshelf for these book ledges I built, and The Baby loves being able to see (and pull down) all his books. (Yes, we also have two copies of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. One board book and one paperback for when The Baby decides to quit chomping on his books.)

DIY book ledge for baby's room
The Baby’s book nook… a great place to take in Goodnight Moon.

I was having a little writer’s block after a work-heavy week or two that kept me from blogging, so I decided to participate in the¬†Daily Prompt: Moon. Further proof that parents can take any word and turn it into a way to talk about their kids! ūüôā

Tune in tomorrow for some real, actual, interesting content… so excited to share some wisdom from a mom friend!

In the great green room…

A love letter to my library

summer reading
The summer reading saga continues!

What better way to rebound from a somewhat belligerent (though I would still argue justified) rant about a place that made me feel like crap as a mom than to talk about a place that makes me feel wonderful every time I set foot in it?

I am, of course, referring to my local library.

The library was one of the first places I ventured with The Baby during maternity leave. Ever since then, it has become a routine destination for my attempts to leave the house on a daily basis.

Of course, perk No. 1 of the library is that it’s free (or, really, really, cheap, if you tend to have overdue books here and there…) Now that I’m no longer in a super walkable neighborhood (frown), I can’t just throw the baby in a carrier and take a walk around the block to count as my outing. Generally, I have to run an errand, which almost always means going into a store of some sort and spending money.¬†And as a post-Great-Recession, one-and-some-change-income family, we don’t go shopping just to shop.

The Baby isn’t quite big enough that places specifically made for kids (children’s museum, playground) are a worthwhile trip. Right now he’s basically just psyched by anything that isn’t our house. But I know when he does start to get more interested in play and exploration, my library’s children’s section is a great place to spend some time!

Another great thing about the library is the great sense of possibility I feel every time I step inside. Thinking about raising goats? Pick up a how-to book. Itching for a good conspiracy? Read about the JFK assassination. Etc. ad nauseam. While the Internet is a vast resource to learn about anything I could possibly imagine,¬†you can’t beat the feeling of wandering the aisles and coming across something you weren’t looking for that piques your interest.

I find myself unintentionally choosing books around a theme almost every trip.¬†My last library haul centered around ghost stories and, more practically speaking, raising goats. (That’s still in the works, though slow-going.) In the ghost story genre, I read The Ghost in the Electric Blue Suit by Graham Joyce and I Remember You by¬†Yrsa Sigur√įard√≥ttir. I love a good ghost story, and while neither of these was life-changingly good, they satisfied the part of me that gets a thrill from a few chills down my spine.

(For those of you following along, I haven’t finished Cannery Row yet. I returned Doubter’s Almanac unfinished because I always read too many books at once, it was due back at the library and it didn’t hook me in the first three¬†chapters.)

I’ll spare you the review on the goat raising book.

Today’s haul was exclusively nonfiction. (I have another randomly chosen novel I renewed from the last trip, resting unread under by bed still.) Anyway, I picked up two books on writing fiction, something I did obsessively as a child and teenager but haven’t touched since then but have been daydreaming about. I’m hoping that reading about writing will give me the little nudge to try it out again (though I will keep those exercises to myself and stick with the real-life navel gazing for this particular outlet.)

I also got¬†Baby Knows Best, a parenting book about the “RIE way,” which I’ve never heard of. But I like reading about child development and don’t know that much about it, so it’s always interesting to broaden my horizons on that front. I’ll either learn some knew ways to help The Baby grow into an awesome Kid and Adult, or I’ll find something else to call bullshit on and get sanctimonious about. Win-win.

Finally, I got¬†On the Move, A Life by Oliver Sacks, whom you’ll recognize if you’re a Radiolab fan, as he was a beloved neuroscientist who explored some amazing facets of the human brain and struggled with his identity and love and human mortality and who was a beautiful storyteller on top of being a brilliant scientist. He died not too long ago and Radiolab gave him a beautiful tribute, and I can’t wait to read this book.

So there’s an update on what’s on my nightstand, and a reminder to my fellow new moms to go feed your soul at the library!

One more parting tip:¬†Libraries usually have a shelf of used books for sale for CHEAP (a “Friends of the Library” fundraiser type deal), and it’s a great place to pick up children’s books, especially board books because you can clean off the pages before you hand them over to your baby. I picked up a few gems today for a buck!

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A love letter to my library

A New Mom’s Summer Reading List

summer reading

I was one of those kids who wiled away a lot of my summers at the library or with my nose in a book in any number of beautiful summer settings – treehouses, porches, tents. (To be perfectly honest, I also squandered much of my summer days in front of the TV. I grew up in the ’90s, after all.)

Anyway, one positive change I’ve been able to adopt somehow during the process of moving to a jungle-like old farm with a baby is reading more. I credit most of this to the fact that The Baby is still sleeping in our bed at night (shut. up.) and I can get about two 40 minute stretches of staying awake time before he really can’t go back to sleep without me. With daylight pressing through the curtains at 9 p.m., I’ve got some time to kill before I can fall asleep, and reading feels more soul-nourishing than endlessly scrolling through my phone. Plus, writing more (blogging) makes me want to read more, and reading motivates me to write more.

While I love reading, I’ve never been very good at keeping track of what I’ve read, the authors I I like, or what I want to read next. So to propel me to a more successful next library trip, I thought I’d do a rundown of what I’ve read over the past few months.

Before I get to the list, a small item of blogkeeping: I made a Facebook page for TLMB! I figure there’s no quicker way to lose Facebook friends (especially the dude variety) than incessant posting about things like childbirth and baby poop. So instead, people who¬†like reading about childbirth and baby poop (ya weirdos) can follow me here. If you’re a regular reader and on Facebook, won’t you do me a solid and like my page? Leave me a comment below if you are a fellow mommy blogger with a Facebook page and I’ll happily return the favor. Thanks, friend.

Okay, onto the book list.

TLMB Moms Summer Reading List

What I’ve loved, and what to skip

The Dog Stars by Peter Heller

This was my first foray back into reading after the birth of The Baby. Nothing like reading about post-apocalyptic, gut-wrenching loneliness to cure the baby blues, am I right? Really, though, I loved this book, and if one can find hope after the apocalypse, can’t one find hope that breastfeeding will eventually stop feeling like nursing a baby crocodile? The writing was beautiful, and while I did wake up The Husband because I was sobbing during one particularly sad scene, I woke him up because I was reading¬†really late into the night because I could not put it down.

5 stars.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Have you heard of this book? Of course you have. No, I haven’t seen the movie yet. Yes, I know I am way behind on Oprah’s book list. Honestly I finally decided to read this book because I binge-listened to Cheryl’s podcast (along with Steve Almond, whom I’ve also never read) Dear Sugar, and while it is¬†way more earnest, almost uncomfortably so, than any other podcast I listen to, they do have a seductive way with words and I decided I finally needed to read for myself about Cheryl’s heroin binge. This is another tearjerker, and while sometimes I find myself resisting the urge to eyeroll when Cheryl describes how she got a tattoo with her ex-husband to commemorate their marriage/divorce or how she chooses her new last name (come¬†on), the earnestness I caught on her podcast is the same earnestness and committed jumping-in-head-first approach to life that makes her story so compelling. If you’re like me and haven’t read this yet, it’s worth crawling out from under your rock to check it out.

4 stars.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

Okay. I’m starting to sense a pattern I didn’t notice before. I have been bellying up to books that are seemingly way too sad. Books I actively avoided because of their obvious ties to loss. After my pregnancy loss and throughout my pregnancy I couldn’t think about sad things because I didn’t think I was strong enough to handle them, and I didn’t want to even acknowledge that sad things happen. I guess I’m stronger now. Anyway, this has been my¬†favorite book of the summer so far, in spite of the fact that the shortest description I can offer you is, “Kid’s dad died in 9/11. His grandma was a¬†survivor¬†of the WWII Dresden fire bombing. Adventure!” I really loved this book, though. And I only cried a little.

5 stars.

Girl Walks Into a Bar by Rachel Dratch

I love Rachel Dratch. Most recently I’ve loved her small part in Broad City. And yes, like the rest of America, I wondered with some chagrin at what happened to her after SNL. The beginning parts of this book felt very similar to Amy Poehler’s¬†Yes, Please!¬†(which I am just now remembering I also read… I love Amy, but this book didn’t hold a candle to¬†Bossypants and is best reserved for an easy beach read… uh, 3 stars). Anyway, lots of “this is how my early comedy career went down” stuff, but when she gets into trying to date in her late 30s, the book gets better. I’m really glad I didn’t do any research on her or this book before I picked it up, because it was a really fun surprise (sorry, spoiler, but it’s in the GoodReads synopsis) that she became unexpectedly pregnant and had a baby! Yay, surprise mom book! Anyway, Rachel and Amy both fall short of Tina in their ability to move me or feel particularly insightful, but they are funny and charming and I will always root for them.

3.5 stars

It Sucked and then I Cried by Heather Armstrong

I picked this book up at the library because it sounded familiar, then I remembered I have been a sporadic reader of Heather’s blog, dooce.com, for awhile. I decided to read it with the embarrassingly aspirational perspective of a new and not particularly successful blogger who (though I will deny it to my ever-encouraging mother) will not die happy unless I publish a book. I like Heather’s blog. I think she’s really funny. Her book felt…like a bunch of blog posts. Like it could have used a lot more tightening up and thoughtful editing. Um, I didn’t even bother finishing it. I’m not trying to be a jerk, and yes, she’s the published blogger, but it made me feel reassured that I could write a book someday if she pulled it off. God, I’m a jerk. But meh.

2.5 stars

On that sour-grapesy sounding note, I will close for now. But I plan to do this every few weeks so you can keep up with my literary escapades. On my nightstand now:¬†Baby Led Weaning¬†(of course),¬†The No-Cry Sleep Solution (also of course),¬†Cannery Row (took a stack of my high school summer reading books from my childhood bedroom) and¬†A Doubter’s Almanac, another random library pick-up that sounded pretty good.

What are you reading this summer? Anything I should pick up during my next library trip? (Parenting books, really sad novels (I guess), memoirs and classics I likely never picked up are all welcome suggestions.)

One last quick reminder to find me on Facebook and click the little pink picture below if you’re picking up what I’m putting down.

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A New Mom’s Summer Reading List