Curated Tweets [Volume 13]

March 27, 2017

More re-tweets @katejbaer

Book Review: Fates and Furies + Perfect Little World

March 26, 2017

Hello readers! Two book reviews for you today. One was fine, the other was one of the best books I’ve ever read. Surprise!

Their reviews below. As always, they are spoiler free.

Sidebar: I also recently started All The Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood and loved it so much (gripping story, great writing), but couldn’t finish it because the content was making it hard for me to sleep at night (child abuse). But if you can stomach it (or don’t have young children the same ages), I definitely recommend. I still keeping wondering what happened!

Happy reading! And thank you to those who recommended these books! Suggestions always welcome.

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1. Fates and Furies.

If You’re Looking For: Literary fiction

If You Like: I don’t know what to compare this to. It’s like a mix of Gone Girl, Margaret Atwood, and a long, beautiful poem.

My Review:  I stopped and started this book over a dozen times until a friend encouraged me to keep going as the perspective shifts from one character to another halfway through the book (think: Gone Girl, but then stop thinking Gone Girl). And so I pushed through, partly because I trust this friend and her taste in books, and partly because I did enjoy the first part. I was simply unsure of where it was going and how it could possibly keep up the rhythm and tone without becoming boring. And I’m so glad I did. This novel unfolds and reveals itself slowly, making it all worth the wait in the second half. Even more striking is the language itself. Lauren has a way with words that may be hard to accept (at first), but soon becomes so perfect and real and right. (And if you are a writer yourself–will make you want to throw your whole manuscript in the garbage). The subjects of this novel are well worn; marriage, career, broken childhoods–but Lauren Groff makes them new and compelling. Here’s my advice if you start this book: keep going, keep going, keep going. This is one of the best books I’ve ever read. 5/5. No wait, 6/5. Outstanding.

Their Review: “[Fates and Furies] is a stunning 360-degree view of a complex relationship… There’s almost nothing that [Groff is] not interested in and her skill set is breathtaking…It’s an incredibly ambitious work, she writes like her hands are on fire.” Richard Russo, NPR’s Morning Edition

Quoted: She was so tired of the old way of telling stories, all those too-worn narrative paths, the familiar plot thickets, the fat social novels. She needed something messier, something sharper, something like a bomb going off.

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2. Perfect Little World.

If You’re Looking For: Fiction

If You Like: Utopian novels

My Review: I was very excited about the premise and first few chapters of this book, but ultimately found it less than thrilling by the end without understanding why. Fortunately the internet has blessed us with lots of opinions on Goodreads, and I found Joshua R.’s review a great summation of my exact feelings (see below). I understand this is a cop out, sharing someone else’s review of a book you’re supposed to be reviewing yourself, but I am very tired and grouchy and have little desire to discuss this book in any other fashion. As an aside, if I ever publish a book that ends up on Goodreads, I will never, ever read the reviews. How horrifying! I will say this about Perfect Little World: Anytime I finish a book instead of tossing it into the “return to library” pile, I know it deserves at least three stars for holding my attention over sleep, snacking, or Netflix. And really this book had all the makings of a great read. Utopian millennial cult premise with a Wes Anderson writing vibe? Sign me up! But then see Joshua’s review below. 3.5/5 stars.

Their Review:  “A perfect little premise with a cursory, yet at times enjoyable, execution. I was excited about this book, a crazy experiment where 10 children are raised by 19 adults in a communal-like home. The book’s first pages outlines the complicated tree of adults and children. This should have been the first clue that this book would have to embrace brevity over depth, given that it is just over 300 pages.

The book starts out the first 150 pages following “Izzy” and sometimes Doctor Preston Grind who is in charge of the family experiment. While the background is nice, it left only 150 pages to discuss 18 other characters and the actual premise of the book, which is the family experiment.

Once you get into the family experiment, there are twists and turns that are enjoyable. However, I was confused which character was what, and nor did I care because they are introduced with very little detail. Maybe the idea is that all the characters get muddled together to make it feel more like a community to the reader. That’s a positive outlook anyway. From my perspective though, by the time I got to the climax(es) that takes place during the experiment, I felt like I neither knew most of the characters nor cared too much what was happening to them.

Overall, it’s a decent, but perhaps overly simplistic, read. Expect to get to know two characters in some detail. But don’t expand a grand adventure into the premise of the book.” – Joshua R. on Goodreads

“Charming. . . . Wilson pulls off his sweet-and-tart tone. . . . The novel delights in the project’s Willy Wonkaesque sense of antic chaos.” – Washington Post

Quoted: It amazed Izzy the way the children rushed through so many complicated emotions without space between each one. Everything rose so quickly to the surface and then subsided, like firecrackers, and what had originally been so jarring to her, their unguarded emotion, now filled her with great comfort, that anything, no matter what it was, would eventually give way to something else.

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Favorite Books

All Book Reviews

Nov’s Nook: 10 Things For A Corner Nursery

March 23, 2017

A few years ago we made an office space in the guest room to give Austin a place to study and me a place to work but didn’t end up using it once due to the logistics of our house. Which made it that much easier to get rid of and replace with a tiny sleeping space for Nov. I’ve never had a nursery for any of my babies, so everyone be cool and pretend he’s still in utero while I “nest” and “eat for two.” Here’s the before picture. 

The first thing I did was sell the desk for 50 bucks (we got it free on the side of the road!) and use that money to buy a new in-the-box convertible crib on Facebook Marketplace for the same price (he was in a co-sleeper or a pack and play before). Next I pinned 17 complicated DIY mobiles and kind of sat around for awhile because honestly I don’t really know what an embroidery hoop is.

Then a few things started coming together and I realized I don’t need much, just a few things to make it cozy and, more importantly, satisfy some unflattering yet very primal need to make at least one nice space for one of my babies before I turn into a mother of sweaty teenagers who definitely do not want my help decorating their room. And so began what I like to call: Dads Hanging Things. A new Netflix documentary series featuring dads who absolutely do not want to hang things on a Sunday afternoon but do it anyway (may contain mild swears).

I really enjoyed gathering things for Novi’s fake newborn nursery. I was like a mother bird building her nest. Except instead of twigs, it’s a lot of Amazon boxes and instead of flying, I was just sitting around eating a sandwich and asking Austin if he was measuring right. It was a really beautiful experience for everyone.

Thank you to all the shops who generously sent your beautiful items (marked with a *). The rest I found on Amazon or from places like the free pile of the faculty lounge at my mom’s school (thanks mom!). This was fun.

1. Baby Jives Cloud Mobile.* (gorgeous)

2. Fox Wall Hanging.* (perfect)

3. Minted Map Print.* (cute)

4. Rookie Humans Crib Sheet.* (obsessed) 

5. Floating Bookshelf.

6. Target Faux Succulents.

7. Memory Foam Mattress Topper.

8. 3 Sprouts Fox Storage Bin.

9. Iviebaby Winter Cloud Blanket.

10. Fox & Bear Summer Blanket.

Extras: Fox pacifier holder, this amazing white noise machine, five dollar gold mirror from Target, Ikea faux sheepskin rug, & a handmade knit creatures from my mom.

 

Checking In + Blog Update

March 7, 2017

Hello friends! Thanks so much for all the kind and thoughtful things you posted a few weeks ago here and on social media in response to the overly sentimental and weepy essay on last babies. I’m not sure what the future holds, but I do know that at some point I’ll move on from this phase of life and have FEELINGS about it. Please feel free to block me in advance.

Some of you have asked how it is going writing a book and when you can purchase it for $29.99 at Barnes and Nobles. Just kidding, no one asked me that and I’m pretty sure Barnes and Nobles no longer exists (fake news!). I will say that progress is being made and I’ll keep you updated when I can. I hope to be finished with the first draft by this summer.

In other news, I have recently partnered with favorite bloggers Grace Patton, Bridget Hunt, and Fran Dorsey and created a private facebook group to post reviews and sale items I find on the Internet. A group dedicated to finding great deals and brands for women, moms, and kids so you don’t have to. It’s an idea I’ve been tossing around for a few months now. Here’s why I finally did it:

  1. I do 99% of my shopping online and spend a lot of time researching the best deals on groceries, car-seats, leggings, etc. so I might as well make it a separate side job.
  2. As a consumer, I prefer to find out camelbak water bottles are on sale on Amazon via a facebook group I joined on purpose rather than a blog I subscribe to for other reasons.
  3. I enjoy the side of blogging that involves product research and reviews but do not enjoy dedicating whole posts to it.
  4. These types of facebook groups better allow for posting time sensitive deals.
  5. While Facebook is my least favorite social media for the social part of it, I do enjoy it for the private groups feature.
  6. I personally utilize these groups weekly and wanted to start my own.
  7. It’s fun.

This blog will still serve to occasionally review motherhood related products, but for the most part when I find something I love that’s also on sale–you can find it in this facebook group very uncreatively named the Sale Rack. Check it out or don’t! Here’s the link one more time. Opt in or opt out anytime. Make the notifications what you want. It’s a private group (for your benefit) so no one except others in the group can see if you comment or like something.

As far as the future of this blog goes, the only things on the horizon are a little round-up of the fake corner nursery I’ve been putting together for Novi, book reviews, funny tweets, and the occasional essay.

Finally, there are one million pockets of the Internet with bigger, smaller, better, weirder, funnier, wiser, or more interesting followings featuring things like windsurfing and indoor plants. I do want to say that I am thankful for this space and the encouragement and love you bring to me. Thank you for following along and supporting this blog, both in my work as a writer and my side job as a lazy blogger who occasionally finds things for 60% off on Amazon.

See you again soon, one way or another.

Sitting With Her

February 16, 2017

A few months ago I gave birth to my last baby. In predictable fashion, the time has gone remarkably fast. One minute he was emerging through a ring of fire, and now he’s growing out of small white onesies and requesting beer with dinner instead of breastmilk (just kidding, he prefers wine).

It is easy to panic about this passing of time, especially when everyone tells you to soak in every minute before it’s gone. It’s like if someone told you to really enjoy your ice cream cone now so that next week when you’re craving one, all you’ll have to do is remember today and you’ll be satisfied.

I wish that’s how it worked. I wish that three or five or seventeen years from now when I’m craving that newborn smell and the weight of a baby on my chest, all I’ll have to do is close my eyes to experience it again.

Instead I’ll only feel the familiar ache.

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A few months ago a friend was crying over her daughter’s loose tooth. “Something is wrong with me,” she said. “There is nothing sad about a loose tooth.”

No, we said shaking our heads. Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

This past fall, I took my first baby to Kindergarten. He was ready, I was ready, but when the time came to leave him at the door–he clung to my arm and asked me not to go.

“Stay with me,” he said, tears in his eyes. “I don’t want you to leave.”

“You’re going to be so brave,” I said to both of us.

Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

Yesterday a friend wrote to me and said she was failing as a mother. It’s so overwhelming. I can’t be everything to everyone. I’m doing something wrong.

No, no, not at all. Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

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For a long time I looked for some sort of cure for saying goodbye to this phase of life, hoping that when the time came, I’d be ready. Equipped with all the tools to manage and cope and not drive everyone crazy with my inability to let go. Mostly I hoped to simply feel ready to move on; happy to say goodbye to the stained highchair, tall stack of diapers, and bulky pack-and-play that never folds down quite right. Instead I am so relieved to learn the truth. That just because it is hard to say goodbye to these baby stages doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

I am and will be so many different kinds of mother in this life. A mother of babies, a mother of toddlers, a mother of pre-teens and teenagers and 30-year-old men. And when I look back at the mother I was to these small children and feel that familiar ache, I hope I sit with her. Let myself grieve what she lost in late night feedings and celebrate what she has become. Just as there is room for joy and gratitude and exhaustion in parenthood, there is also room for what comes with saying goodbye. And for me, that is a lot of sadness and emotions.

Please keep Austin in your thoughts.

The door is not closed, but it will close someday one way or another. And when I find my heart heavy, I know what to do. I will look to that mother, rocking her baby in that well worn chair, and I will sit with her.

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