Small Fry by Lisa Brennan-Jobs
At first I wasn't interested in reading Small Fry, because I felt like it was someone talking smack about their famous dead dad just for a paycheck. Then I watched some sort of movie about a snippet of Steve's life a few months ago and so when this book came up on Modern Mrs. Darcy's daily Kindle deals, I decided to give it a shot.
The book is really a grouping of chronological snapshots that volley around between her mom doing or saying something crappy or inappropriate or weirdly loving and her dad doing or saying something crappy or inappropriate or weirdly loving but I admit that she pulls them together surprisingly well, avoiding choppiness and showing the reader the good, the bad, and the ugly of her parents and herself.
I admit I really liked it and even did a little googling to see what everyone looked like. If you give a hoot at all about the Jobs family, or memoirs, or odd paternal relationships, or navigating weird and separate parental relationships, pick it up.
My Own Miraculous by Joshilyn Jackson
Jackson writes southern novels with kooky characters. Plus, she shares my birthday. So I like her by default and have been slowly making my way through her collections. This is a novella, so it's a great trial run or a good choice if you just want a little something to enjoy for an hour or two.
In short, it's a story of a young mother who realizes that her three year old son has a special gift. So is he Jesus or is he just super smart?
Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton
I almost gave up on this one early on, because it can be a little raw. If you're a baby like me, be prepared to quickly skim two scenes due to some graphic imagery. But it's okay! You'll get the idea and this is an AMAZING book. Five star read for me, all the way.
The lengthy book is about two adolescent Australian teens and their crazy heroin dealer parents and their escaped convict friends. It's full of adventure, violence, drugs, brotherly love, revenge, dreams, artificial limbs, and it's awesome! I'm still kind of like, what WAS that? I think in a future year I'm going to re-read all of my very favorites and this will be included, hands down.
Dumplin' by Julie Murphy (today - 99 cents on Kindle)
Oh my gosh, I just realized I hadn't yet reviewed Dumplin'! I'll make it quick. EXCELLENT YA NOVEL. I loved it with my whole 16 year old and 39 year old heart. You will think you know what's going to happen, but it doesn't shake out that way. Yes, there is a sassy Texan low income plus size protagonist, and yes she joins a pageant. So I tell you that and you are like okay well I can guess how this is going to go. But it doesn't. So read it and see how it goes. When Veronica gets a little older I'm going to shove it in her hands (not yet, because of language and sexual themes) and I'll remind her that I had kids so that they could read the BOOKS I LIKE!!!
What have you been reading?
I almost formatted this blog as a listicle - as in, here's what sucks but here's what's good! Well, that wouldn't make sense. The overall situation sucks. A pandemic sucks, the resulting illness and death super sucks, and not getting to hug our parents or have friends over also sucks. That's not anything I need to tell you - you know it as well as I do.
So instead, I'll share with you what is helping my life in particular suck less and provide some silver linings. With four kids and a full time job I'm still trying to do, I need whatever I can get!
Limited Social Media
Oh Facebook, I can't quit you.
Among all of the nonsense (people spouting off about things they don't know or people they don't know - everyone is an expert, I hadn't realized) are the gems about good deeds, reasons for hope, and very importantly, local take-out specials!
Plus, everyone is "bored" (they haven't found books yet? or even Netflix?) so there is a definitely uptick of just really - just some garbage, if I'm honest. Tell me about an actual thought that you had in your actual head rather than posting the results of your 15th "test" this hour that verifies that your boyfriend is 137% IN LOVE with you. (I wish I could say that was an example I made up.)
Anyway! My solution is closing social media the minute I feel myself getting annoyed. So - wow. Way less social media.
Gifts and deliveries!
Amazon is taking their time right now, but Target drops that junk at your door practically before you're done ordering it. Gifts and care packages and cards and all sorts of fun have been coming and going these last few weeks, and it's been glorious. Veronica is feeling like a big deal right now with all of the fanfare in the form of deliveries with her name on them (she's 14 tomorrow).
As soon as the last whatever of the last thing I baked is gone, I bake something else. I really like to bake, and I still don't necessarily have *time* for it, but it gives us something to get excited about. Plus all that bowl licking is giving me tons of immunity.
Sunshine and exercise
Can't be baking every other day without moving my butt around at least a little bit. I don't mind walking behind Jeff when he's going warp speed, but Vinnie is good about sauntering along with me now and then. Getting out makes me feel less trapped.
Lowering expectations of accomplishment
When the shelter in place first started, I really burned myself out. I tried to knock out a huge to-do list every day while still working from home and caring for the kiddos. It's just not possible. So I've scaled back my expectations for myself considerably. Work, kids, get a jump on dinner. Maybe bake something. Afternoon walk if it's nice. Everything else mostly waits until the evening just like normal. Or until the next day, or the next. These are unprecedented times, okay? Folding laundry during a pandemic is uncharted territory and I'm just navigating it the best I can.
Actually, forget it, folding laundry is canceled.
Good communication and grace
Jeff and I have gotten into the habit of being very forthcoming with what we want to accomplish any given day, because we rely on each other to help make that happen. For example, "Okay, I'm going to go to IGA so you watch the kids. Then I'll come home and you can run and I'll watch the kids. Then I've gotta get dinner started and hop on a Zoom call with my book club. So that's when you'll watch the kids..." Over and over until we die. But this has actually been super helpful because now we're not aimlessly pushing through our days hoping that our parents drop through the ceiling and offer to watch the kids so we can actually just go get a mojito and forget the running and grocery-getting.
Also, one of the non-nonsense pieces I read recently on social media was that 47 page long manifesto from a psychologist about how to deal with all THIS and my favorite part was the pointing out that this is all nuts and of course it is going to at some point or at multiple points bring out the worst in people. We're all going to act like fussy toddlers at some point so we need to just remember that this is messing with all of us. We're not ACTUALLY fussy toddlers (yikes, glad I'm not quarantined with an actual fussy toddler!). So that's been helpful to keep in mind.
Books are in my toolkit, obvs. Also: espresso, puzzles, headache pills, red wine, chocolate, cashews, pajama pants, sheet masks, Food Network, and Jaxon's soft belly for kissing.
How about YOU!?!?
Mom of four, wife of one. By day I fund-raise with coffee, by night I read with wine and chocolate.