For the last two Black Fridays, REI has closed and encouraged their staff, members and customers, to #optoutside and avoid the frenzy of Black Friday. You can check out some pictures from others who also opted out here.
Last year, we went down to Clear Creek Metro Park for a good long hike as you can put together a nearly 10 mile loop and M was eager to try out some trail lunch ideas. It was a great day.
This year, we had baby C in tow but have decided that going to Clear Creak is now our Black Friday tradition. We did a different loop, one that was only 4 miles long, since it was a little chilly for the wee one. It is such a beautiful park and I’m glad this land is protected.
We are trying to say ‘no more’ to the destruction unbridled capitalism is doing to our planet, our wallets, and our relationships by opting out. We still buy – and make – presents for those in our lives for this holiday season but we do not need to do it on Black Friday. There is no crock pot deal on the planet that is worth bypassing family time – for myself and for the employees of the stores that are open on Thanksgiving or Black Friday.
Likes: songs, peek-a-boo, repetitive play, your keys
Dislikes: playing alone, being in your highchair
Who You Saw: Nana and Grampy’s neighbors – as a dragon! You did pretty great for the first hour of trick or treat but definitely didn’t make it the whole evening! You were your aunt’s date at our first hockey game of the season; can’t wait to take you to the rest of the games this season.
Places We Traveled: You and I flew to Chicago for work and to see some good friends. You did SO WELL on the flights. I can’t wait to fly with you again! J and her son drove down from Madison to meet you (& bring Mama all sorts of necessary baby gear I didn’t bring thru the airport) and we stayed with G in her brand new house. It was a very fast trip but so filled with love.
Milestones: You are rolling over like a champ now! You’ll roll across the living room to get to a toy or Kitten. You’re also working super duper hard on sitting up unassisted, although you can totally sit if someone is nearby to hold you if you become unsteady. You’ve also started to push off like you want to start crawling – which this Mama would love to put off a while yet, kiddo!
H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald: While incredibly well written, I read this over the week preceding and following the election. It was nice to be reading a downer so I could escape into someone else’s melancholy for a bit but it didn’t leave me with too much of a great recommendation for this book, which frankly, it doesn’t deserve. Following Helen, an accomplished falconer, as she grieves the loss of her father by training a goshawk, one of the most fierce hawks.
Walk into Silence by Susan McBride: Jenny Dielman vanished from small town Texas and Detective Jo Larson wonders if it is a simple case of a bored housewife running away. As she digs deeper into this mystery, she discovers a controlling husband, a tragic past with its callous ex-husband. I really enjoyed this novel and found it to be a quick read but think the ending would not surprise regular mystery readers.
Adulthood Rites (Xenogenesis #2) by Octavia Butler: I ADORED the first book in this trilogy and this book follows one of Lilith’s children, Akin, who is taken by resisters as a youngster. I loved this book and flew thru it.
Imago (Xenogenesis #3) by Octavia Butler: The final book in the Xenogenesis trilogy follows another of Lilith’s children, Jodahs, who grows up to be ooloi – something that isn’t supposed to happen. I thoroughly enjoyed this trilogy and highly recommend it. We are so lucky to have her words and ideas with us.
What I Watched: A Muppet Christmas Carol, Elf, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life,
I bought this pattern almost a year ago (yikes!) and when my favorite fabric store, Sew to Speak, was moving I picked up some super fun pineapple fabric on sale. Lucky for me, they still have the pattern in store so I could purchase the length I needed (plus an extra yard, oops!) and bring home fabric that had a project already picked out.
I cut this out in an afternoon and was able to work on it in fits and spurts in the last two weeks of my maternity leave. I’m really excited with how this turned out – even if I did pick the wrong size. The pattern was straightforward and challenging enough that I learned a few new things but not too difficult I couldn’t stop and start over the course of a few afternoons. I worked mostly off the Gallery tunic view but added the pockets and collar from the dress view. I would definitely make this again, probably in a more drape-y fabric.
Dawn (Xenogenesis #1) by Octavia E Bulter: I LOVED this book. Lilith Iyapo lost her husband and son before the atomic war and wakes up to find herself on a massive alien spacecraft – after the Oankali have kept her asleep for hundreds of years. The Oankali survive by genetic trading – whether humans like it or not. I was really swept up by this book and love that the hero of this science fiction story was a woman of color. I already have the next two books in the series on hold.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl: M read this to me and the baby and we really enjoyed it.
Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan: Another Read Harder book, this was a middle grade novel. Otto finds himself lost in the forest where he meets three sisters and finds himself engulfed in a quest involving a harmonica. Decades later, Friedrich in Germany, Mike in Pennsylvania, and Ivy in California each become interwoven by the same harmonica. I really enjoyed this one and found it to be an uplifting and fast read.
The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan (audiobook): I finally read this one! It was informative, as it to be expected of Pollan, and incredibly convicting.
Lumberjanes #1 by Noelle Stevenson: I only picked this one up because of Read Harder and I have to say, even non-superhero graphic novels are not for me.
The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids who are Ground, Generous and Smart about Money by Ron Lieber: Filled with practical advice about teaching kids about money, this book assumes a certain upper middle class reality that I don’t see most families having. I think we’ll consider of his ideas ourselves.
Hello, Cruel World by Kate Bornstein: My last Read Harder book! Bornstein bravely and wittily shares personal and unorthodox methods of survival in an often cruel world.
Likes: playing airplane, your toes, smiles and songs, long naps
Dislikes: getting too tired, 4 month vaccines, distractions while eating
Who You Saw: Mama’s friend C, came into town again to meet you! We had a great, fun filled but relaxed weekend and then a few weeks later, our friends L & B drove down from Chicago to meet you. We also had a super fun weekend full of great meals and beautiful fall weather. I’m not sure how we got so lucky with so many amazing friends in our lives, but I’m so thankful we did.
Places We Traveled: Kind of a stretch but this month you started daycare! You’re thriving there!
Milestones: You are working on rolling over so hard! You’ve done it a few times from tummy to back and from back to tummy but nothing is predictable just yet. You are still laughing up a storm and cooing all the time.
For the back half of 2015, I watched as some of my internet friends work on finishing the first Read Harder challenge, essentially writhing from the jealously. I was clearly in a reading rut and painfully missing my feminist book club from Chicago. They are still going strong despite the utter lack of my ramblings on the greater need for intersectional feminism.
But when this year’s list was announced, I was worried about finishing. I mean, it’s not like we haven’t had anything going on here. It’s encouraged me to branch out, to try books I would have NEVER picked up before. Like Dawn by Octavia Butler, like The Things We Wish Were True by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen, and The Witches: 1692 by Stacy Schiff. It’s had me trying audiobooks and graphic novels.
More it’s also, made space for me. We have a banging library system so it’s free to read on my Kindle, it requires the right amount of effort – a few minute of energy to load up on titles – and then not too much. I could read at 3AM when the baby just wanted to sit on my chest, it takes 5 minutes or it takes an hour. And it’s just been mine, deliciously mine.
When you sleep train babies, everyone says ‘sleep begets sleep’ and what this year has showed me is that reading begets reading. I cannot wait to see what 2017 brings. But for now, I have the rest of the Xenogenesis series headed my way.
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde: I picked this as it’s a classic I haven’t read yet and to be quite honest, I hated it. What a vapid, silly man and so much privilege crammed into one book. I’m sure that if I’d read it in high school or college and discussed it more in depth with others, I’d feel differently.
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (audiobook): I enjoyed this audiobook as having the different narrators helped tell the story. I’m not sure it is the ‘next Gone Girl’ like it was built up to be but it was a good solid thriller and I enjoyed the twist at the end.
Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan: This has been on my to-read list for ages and I finally just put it on my eBook wait list from the library. I took a class at DePaul on the Life of the Historical Jesus, so I really enjoyed revisiting this topic. I found that Aslan focused very heavily on contextualizing the historical Jesus within the geopolitical era of first century, Roman occupied Palestine. This contextualized his teachings for me and I found his description of how the following movement changed his message as their audience changed to be fascinating and enlightening.