Saturday, March 31, 2007

Simple Pleasures

Yesterday, I finished reading a little book from the JC book sale called Simple Pleasures. The subtitle is "soothing suggestions and small comforts for living well year round." It was a quick, pleasant little read with lots of different suggestions--from recipes to projects to quotes to meditations. The book is organized into four sections--one for each season--and each section contains suggestions, quotes, thoughts, things to do, etc. in four categories: Home; Garden & the Great Outdoors; Body & Soul; and Friends & Family. I did find it a little confusing that many of the suggestions were from different contributors, but none were acknowledged in the text (they were in the introduction), so some segments confusingly switched genders, names, etc. from the sections before. I think it would have been more sensible to have each contributor's name and location off to the side or something like that, because it was odd to read it the way it was laid out.

A good quote (quoted in the introduction):

"When we lack proper time for the simple pleasures of life, for the enjoyment of eating, drinking, playing, creating, visiting friends, and watching children at play, then we have missed the purpose of life. Not on bread alone do we live, but on all these human and heart-hungry luxuries." (Ed Hayes)

I need to stick this to my forehead!

Friday, March 30, 2007

New Beginnings

Speaking of LLL and New Beginnings (in my previous post), in the November/December issue of New Beginnings I was thrilled to have an essay I wrote published in the "Mother's Stories" section. They also published the picture I sent of me lying down nursing L. The essay was about the challenges we went through with oversupply. I keep thinking of additional essays to contribute, but getting around to writing them is the tricky part. I was also excited to continue my "fame" by having my "Mother's Response" to an oversupply question published in the January/February issue (two publications in a row, yay!). The most current issue had my donation and tribute in the donation section and also acknowledgment of a donation made to LLLI in my honor by my mom :-) That was fun too, but not as fun as items I actually submitted for publication!

Midwifery Today (Primal Health), plus other magazine musings...

I got my second issue of Midwifery Today a few days ago and finished reading it last night. I wanted to try to make it last a while this time, since I'll have to wait 3 more months for another one. It had a great article in it called Foreskins for Keeps (the end of circumcision by January 1, 2007) and another good one about "The Midwife's Grandchild" (becoming a grandmother when you are an expert on birth and babies and the struggles therein...). I got the spring issue of Brain, Child a couple of weeks ago and just gobbled it up in like an hour--what a bummer, because I love it so and now I have to wait for a LONG time to get another one. I've been loaning my old issues to a friend in playgroup and I've discovered the joys of re-reading them, instead of lamenting the lack of a new one for the next three months...

Almost everything I subscribe to or receive as a membership perk is released on a seasonal schedule, which means I have a large bounty of fresh, good stuff in the early part of each of Winter, Spring, Summer, & Autumn, but then I gorge on it and have to wait for everything to come again (wouldn't it make sense to stagger it a little?! ;-) For example, I've also just read New Beginnings (the magazine of LLLI), Attachment Parenting (the journal of API I also downloaded some old issues from their website and read those too!!), Forum (the newsletter of Mothers & More), The Wise Mom (HMN's e-newsletter), Imagine magazine (girls' publication from American Girl), and Mothering magazine (this issue wasn't as engaging as Mothering usually is to me and I don't even have anything to share about the issue). I also got a free sample copy of Pathways (the ICPA member publication) and read it right away too.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

And Never Stop Dancing!

I sold a book from the JC sale today and glanced through it as I was packing it up, only to discover that I actually wanted to read it! Oops! So, I sat down with it and read it as quickly as possible and did end up finishing it, though probably with less retention than usual. It was called And Never Stop Dancing! It was a bit on the "downer" side, really, despite it's uplifting jacket copy. He had kind of a pessimistic outlook, which is different than what I've come to expect from self-help style books (technically, this wasn't really self-help--just a "lessons I've learned from living" type of deal). His final thought (the book has "30 True Things") is "most people die with their music still in them." This is one of my major fears! I've lamented more than once that I'm worried about dying with my music still in me. I do not feel like I'm currently expressing my "music" (and I do know the feeling of being "on purpose" and sharing my music, so it is challenging to not be feeling the flow now--I know what I'm missing, but not quite sure how to get it back :(

The person who bought it lives in St. Louis, so it should get to her quickly, even with the delay in my having quickly read it first!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Simple Life

This morning I finished reading The Simple Life. It was a collection of essays by various simple living/frugality writers--"thoughts on simplicity, frugality, and living well. It is kind of on the "old" side and so some of the essays are by authors that I'm not familiar with now--also, many of their newsletters and such (which sound great and interesting!) don't seem to be in print any more, which is too bad because I want to subscribe to some of them. Maybe it is time for one of my own...

The book is an interesting collection ranging in topic from Dumpster Diving to vegetarian cooking/animal rights to investing to financial independence (with Your Money or Your Life excerpt) to living cheaply in college to coupon clipping strategies. So, things to appeal to various tastes and interests, but kind of lacking unification--so, you get into the whole Dumpster Diving thing and then are abruptly shifted to an investment approach.

Monday, March 26, 2007

The Bodacious Book of Succulence

Also from the JC book sale, last week I read in about one hour The Bodacious Book of Succulence
by SARK. I've seen SARK books and posters before, but this was first book of hers I've actually read. It was interesting, inspiring, cute, and creative. I want to live a Succulent Wild Life! Of course, after I finished reading it, I then move right on to the next book and forget to pause and try to implement what I've recently learned. Recently, I have been pondering my attraction to self-help books--I think I honestly think that if I just read the right book and did the RIGHT thing, I would finally be PERFECT!!!! I also wonder if all the reading I do mutes my own intuition--how can I know what I truly feel and believe, if the words of 5 dozen self-help authors are chasing around inside my brain and each making the "most sense"? (I feel similarly about parenting books--I try so hard to parent the "right" way and wonder if I've lost touch with my own sense of what the right way is, by always reading and trying to incorporate other people's right ways...?)

I like the way this book emphasizes that you are succulent right NOW--you don't have to do anything (of course, I still get the "do something and you'll finally be wonderful" message anyway!). Near the end, she says, "We are succulent with our shredded fantasies, our unread books, our misguided perfectionism, our hiding in bed eating rows of cookies, or neurotically running to and away from things. We are succulent just like this. Just the way we are NOW!...." Of course, this is all in her delightful, handwritten prose that does not jump off the computer screen and way it does off of her pages.

Hey! Who's Having This Baby Anyway?

Yesterday, I finished reading Hey! Who's Having This Baby Anyway? by Breck Hawk. I was not very engaged by the book (maybe because it is geared toward a "clueless" audience and so it all felt super elementary??) and I don't think I'm going to keep it. I thought it might have elements that I could pull into my childbirth education classes to help people "get" things, but it doesn't really have much to offer me in that way. I am undecided about whether to keep it in my personal library as a loaner for people who need the more basic information it offers.

So, not much more to say about it, I'm not really a fan of the style in which it was presented and I didn't find it particularly helpful or engaging.

Real Moms

Another recent arrival from Bookins, Real Moms: Exploding the Myths of Motherhood. It is published by MOPS & so has associated Christian underpinnings/Bible verses, etc. Anyway, even though it isn't a book I expected to identify with that much, I actually really enjoyed it quite a lot. It explored a series of mothering myths & I identified with a LOT of them & it was reassuring and helpful to have a dose of, "I'm not the only one." I needed it and the book came at just the right time. I also found the book to be overall positive in tone (not whiny!), while also acknowledging the less-rosy elements of mothering (but not getting bogged down in negativity, while still addressing the "darker" side, still leaving you with a positive outlook). It was also fairly funny, which is a bonus--not angsty at all (also, commensurately, not v. deep or intellectual either!)

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Unholy Ghost

This weekend, I finished reading Unholy Ghost: Writers on Depression. I bought it at the JC library book sale and I think I read it to see if any of it sounded familiar ;-) Luckily, it didn't really. Though I have my ups and downs and sometimes my downs feel more extreme than "normal," I am no where even close to incapacitated by melancholy, as are some of the writers in this anthology. I did identify with a few comments some made about a sense of depersonalization--sort of like I don't feel real sometimes. I notice this feeling most often when I've been home alone all day with the kids--maybe it is because there is no peer to "reflect" off of? I never feel that way when I'm alone (which is so rarely nowadays!) or when I'm with M *and* the kids. Well, maybe I do occasionally have a disembodied sort of feeling--like I'm outside myself looking at our family--when we're together, but I always feel like a real person when there is another adult person around....

Okay, it is late and I sound a little nuts....

Friday, March 16, 2007

Book Sale!

Spent 3 hours at a book sale in Jefferson City last night. It was huge and really busy. We spent $240, which is about $200 more than we usually spend at a sale (they raised their prices pretty significantly this year and I didn't want to have traveled all that way for nothing!) We got 163 books, so the average was $1.47 per book, which isn't awful, but isn't eleven cents either (which is what we averaged last year at box day). There was a lots of competition from other book sellers (most with little scanners--I felt at a definite disadvantage because we don't have one of those yet!). I've only gotten part way through one of the boxes and not hitting a lot of good resale books yet :-( I hope we didn't waste our money! At least we found a LOT of books that we want to read personally (or, want to read if we can't sell them, that is!). I also found several books that I want to keep just because I actually want them--I found two from my Amazon wish list, a couple of old birth books, and a couple of old breastfeeding books (I kind of have an inadvertent collection of old birth and breastfeeding books going on...)

Circle of Stones

A couple of weeks ago, I read Circle of Stones but it has been sitting in my to-blog-about pile for quite some time (I'd started a post, but didn't get beyond the title, LOL!) My mom had an earlier version of this book when I was a little girl and it always had a certain allure for me. So, I saw it on Bookins and couldn't resist adding it to my list. Basically, it is a weirdly written book--way too Jungian analyst for my taste. The subtitle is "woman's journey to herself" and it sort of (theoretically) guides you through a life journey imagining "a place for you" in a circle of women during each of your transitions.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Barbara Kingsolver

Last week, I got into a "fiction" mood and read High Tide in Tuscon by Barbara Kingsolver. The book isn't actually fiction, but is a series of essays from her life experiences. She is one of my all time favorite fiction writers though, which is why my mood led me to her book. Reading it then led me to read another one of her books that I had my shelf, Animal Dreams. I've read it before, but it has been like 6 years, so it was fun to read again. She is such a talented writer. The book is about two sisters (one is the narrator and the other one is never really "in" the book, just talked about by the narrator sister) who were born and raised in a tiny town in Arizona. The second sister goes to Nicaragua (following the 1979 revolution) to help them rebuild/restructure and rehabilitate their cropland. The narrator sister returns to hometown to sort of re-find herself (she has been "floating" sort of, through her life without a sense of roots or direction). The book is an interesting blend of flashback (told in present tense), dreams/hallucinations, and present time, with little distinction between them--you eventually figure out as you are reading, "oh, this isn't actually happening right 'now.'"

A quote I liked from Animal Dreams--"people worry a lot more about the eternity after their deaths than the eternity that happened before they were born. But it's the same amount of infinity, rolling out in all directions from where we stand." (Of course, technically speaking the eternity before we were born isn't infinite, really, because at some actual point in history humans as we know them showed up, but it might as well be infinite as far as our individual lifespans are concerned!) The quote appeals to me, because of my obsession with meaning and what really matters in life, etc.

More another time...I have SO much more time to read than I actually have to write about what I read. I have all these thoughts while I'm reading that I'm desperate to share about. Then, time passes--another day, another book and those thoughts become lost before I get a chance to write (or, I have such a backlog of things/thoughts I want to write about, that I have to let go of the things that came before. Maybe a good life lesson?)

(added finally on 3/26) In a discussion in High Tide regarding preparations for war:

"Any talk of closing down a military base raises defensive and reverent ire, no matter how wasteful an installment it might be. And yet, public debate dickers and rages over our obligation to fund the welfare system--a contributions of about $25 from each taxpayer on average, for keeping the poorest among us alive. How can we haggle over the size of this meager life preserver, while shiploads of money for death sail by unchallenged?" So true! One more reason to reduce our income to below taxable level (federally)--taxes are one of our largest annual expenses.

Later in the book upon reflecting on Thoreau and the intensity of study he engaged in:

"What a life it must have been, to seize time for this much wonder. If only we could recover faith in a seed--and in all the other complicated marvels that can't fit in a sound bite. Then we humans might truly know the glory of knowing our place."

What Mothers Do

Last night I finished reading, What Mothers Do. This was the second time I've read it and I enjoyed it as much the second time. I felt like I was reading it with a different "eye" this time--I read it the first time when my first son was 2 and so I read it with more of a retrospective feeling. Now, my second baby is 9 months old. So, reading it now I noticed all kinds of different things and the book took on new relevance now that I'm mothering an infant again.

Speaking of infants, he needs me. I'll have to try to post more later!

Monday, March 12, 2007

The Home Based Bookstore

This morning while I was waiting for the boys to wake up (they slept until 10:00 this morning due to the time change and I stayed in the bed with them, because if I get up, Z pops awake too), I read The Home Based Bookstore by Steve Weber. It is a great book! It inspired me to plan to go to the book sale in Jefferson City this week after all (I was considering simplifying my life by NOT going, but it is back on my calendar). I do enjoy selling books online. It is a simple, reliable, and profitable secondary source of income.