This Is Not the Atticus You’re Looking For

Or, my thoughts on Go Set a Watchman.

Before we get into the book, a brief personal history: To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my favorite books of all time. Between the number of times I’ve taught it and read it myself, I know the book really well. And I love it.

A brief history of how this book came to be: Harper Lee wrote Go Set a Watchman and sent it to her editor. He said that he liked the childhood stories of Scout better than the adult stories and maybe she should write a book of just those stories. This book became Mockingbird and the manuscript for Watchman was shelved and eventually put into a safe deposit box.

Fast forward to 2015, and the manuscript was discovered and it was decided that Watchman would be published. There’s been some controversy over how all of this went down (some saying that it’s a money-grubbing move by Lee’s caretaker). Lee is nearly ninety years old and some question whether or not she really knew what she was doing when she gave her blessing for the book to be published.

All of that being said, I wanted to read this book because I was most curious about where Lee’s journey of writing Mockingbird began. If the two books are really so different (and they are), how does the one connect to the other? What are the similarities? Was Lee’s voice the same in Watchman?

After reading it, taking notes (hi, teacher), and really letting the whole experience sink in, I have the following thoughts:

1) It’s not a sequel. 

It seems like there were many people who were hoping that since the events of this novel take place after Mockingbird this book would pick up a few years later and we’d get to see what the old gang is up to now. This is not the case.

It’s integral to remember that Watchman was written first, but Mockingbird is ultimately the book Lee wanted everyone to read. This is going to be really important to remember for point three.

2) It’s rough. 

Let’s bear in mind that this is a manuscript. It went through almost no editing (the publisher has said that they did some basic copy editing, but that’s it) and Lee’s smooth voice is most clear in the stories of Scout as a child. There’s a chapter devoted to Scout (now called Jean Louise by nearly everyone) and Uncle Jack. It’s one of the more confusing, convoluted things I’ve ever read. It seems as though Lee is making a point through Uncle Jack but it takes her forever to get there and you’re still not quite sure you’ve gotten it when you get to the end of the chapter.

If you can keep in mind that it’s not meant to be a polished novel, but rather the raw manuscript that it is, you’ll be okay.

3) Atticus is very different, but also the same. 

SPOILER ALERT (unless you’ve read anything in the news about Watchman and then it’s not a spoiler at all):
I think one of the things that has upset people the most about this book is the way that Atticus is portrayed as a racist. I mean, people who have named their children after this character are all set to head down to the courthouse and change their child’s name.

Yes, in Watchman he is a racist. We come to find out the only reason that he defended Tom Robinson (Lee doesn’t mention his name, but she does reference the case) is because Atticus is so loyal to the law that he defended Tom the way he did because it was his job and duty to do so.

BUT, let’s keep in mind that this is where Lee started with Atticus, not where she finished. She wanted to world to see the Atticus that defended Tom Robinson because it was the right thing to do and who told Scout she needed to stand up for what’s right in the world. Even in Watchman, he’s encouraging Scout to stand up for what she believes in — even if that means standing up to Atticus himself.

4) Jean Louise is exactly who she should be. 

Scout is clearly upset by the crumbling of her view of her father. Her whole childhood (and her adulthood up to this point), she idolized Atticus and finding out of his racist views shakes her to her very core. The fact that she is so shaken and knows what he believes is wrong shows us she is, indeed, her father’s daughter in the best way possible.

5) It relates to us now. 

Many have commented on how the race relations of the 1950s can relate to the state of our country today. But, I think the bigger issue we can connect with is the way the idea of states’ rights is handled in the novel. Even Jean Louise comments on how she was upset when blacks were given the right to vote. Not because they don’t deserve it (as Atticus and many others in the South see it), but because the rights were taken away from the states to make the decision themselves.

In addition, Uncle Jack tries to convince Jean Louise to come home. When she wants to know why she should surround herself by people who think things so different from her, he says:

“What does a bigot do when he meets someone who challenges his opinions? He doesn’t give. He stays rigid. Doesn’t even try to listen, just lashes out.

You’ve no doubt heard some pretty offensive talk since you’ve been home, but instead of getting on your charger and blindly striking it down, you turned and ran. You said, in effect, ‘I don’t like the way these people do, so I have no time for them.’ You’d better take time for ’em, honey, otherwise you’ll never grow.

… the time your friends need you is when they’re wrong, Jean Louise. They don’t need you when they’re right –“

This made me think of how many of us have Facebook newsfeeds that are a little homogeneous and how many people we’ve “unfriended” (or who have “unfriended” us) because of the differing of our views. [Off of soapbox.]

6) There are several parallels to Mockingbird

One of the things I thought was most interesting were the clear literary parallels between the two novels. For example, there were several chapters with paragraphs that were almost verbatim what I’d read before in Mockingbird. There were also a few scenes that Lee seemed to have reworked for Mockingbird. For example, there’s a “coffee” that’s thrown in honor of Jean Louise (by Aunt Alexandra, of course), and it’s pretty clear that this scene turned into the chapter with the missionary tea in Mockingbird. If you don’t remember much of Mockingbird, I don’t know how significant these parallels will be to you, but anyone who’s a fan of Mockingbird will find them interesting.

So, the question  is… should you read it?

If you can keep all of the above things in mind and you can look at it from a literary perspective, it should be a good read. If you’re madly in love with all of the characters from Mockingbird and you’re SUPER EXCITED to see Scout all grown up… put the book down and walk away slowly.

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Molly’s graduation (or: Photo Dump 1 of 2)

If you don’t like photos, these next two posts are just SO NOT for you. 🙂 I’ve finally managed to carve out a few minutes without the Tiny Person wanting me all the time (seriously, I love holding her, but my arms do need a break every so often!) and I’ve had a chance to look at, cull through, and work on some photos from the last couple of months.

Today’s post is all about… Molly and her graduation from college! My youngest sister graduated from the University of the Best City Ever (that’s their tagline, not mine) at the end of May. We took all four of us on a plane down to see her graduate and have lots of fun with family and friends.

Without further ado… the photos!

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We’re pretty proud of her!

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T
he whole family. 🙂

 

 

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Because I totally challenge you to find something cuter at a graduation than a toddler in a cap.
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We hug because we can.
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One of the many benefits of this trip was getting to introduce Katherine (at the ripe age of two weeks!) to so many of my family members. This is Katherine with my mom’s cousin Katy and her boys, Evan and Rowan.

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Evan and Rowan liked Katherine, but they were REALLY excited to play with Mark!
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Mark got his very first taste of Giorgio’s pizza.
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We stayed in this GREAT house not far from the apartment I lived in when I was a baby in San Francisco. We got to take Mark to the park that my dad used to take me to when I was a toddler; even better, Mark’s godfather Mike (who lives in San Francisco) came with us!
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This kid could swing for ever and ever Amen.

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I used to climb and play in these EXACT trees when I was Mark’s age. Much of the rest of the park has changed, but these trees are still there. Okay, no one but me cares about the park. Moving on…
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The graduate and her niece!
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My grandpa and my brother talking about something very deep and important.
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Katherine and her Great Aunt Jane. IMG_9612
I love my grandpa! 🙂IMG_9561
My grandpa and his great-granddaughter!
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Everyone toasting Molly!IMG_9576
Mark loves being scared (is he really my child?) and Nathaniel was only too happy to oblige by jumping out rom behind the door over and over again. IMG_9690

One of the other really cool things about the weekend was getting to celebrate three birthdays! Molly’s and my birthdays are a day apart and Laura’s is about two weeks later. I don’t get to celebrate my birthday with my family very often, so getting to see everyone and celebrate their birthdays too was great! 🙂

Okay, photo dump #2 (Katherine’s Baptism!) is coming soon, I promise!

On Family Leave

You may have seen this video circulating all over social media the last few days. It’s from John Oliver’s show, “Last Week Tonight” (it airs on HBO, so fair warning there are a few off-color jokes).

Oliver (mostly) hits the nail on the head. We can’t say that we love mothers and that they deserve all kinds of gratitude and respect when we, as a culture, make it so difficult to carry out the vocation of motherhood.

But, I would take it a step further and say that paid Family Leave is just as important as paid Maternity Leave. I’m writing this post while snuggling a newborn and watching my two-year-old pretend to cook me some eggs using a skillet, a wooden spoon, and some goldfish. Where did he get the idea to cook? From my husband who’s currently making dinner in the kitchen. How does he have time to make dinner? Family Leave.

Now, Ryan doesn’t get paid leave, per se. He’s cleaning out his sick days so he can be home with us. Good thing, too, because I go back to my online teaching job later this week after three weeks off. I don’t accrue sick days with my current job, so my leave is mostly unpaid (I did get some pay for doing my lesson plans ahead of time, and for that I am very grateful). If Ryan didn’t have the time off, I’d been sending Katherine to the babysitter with Mark two times per week at the ripe age of three weeks. So, Ryan’s doing a lot of diaper changes, cooking, and playing with Mark; he’ll be taking over even more stuff once I start teaching again. It’s a lot of work, and it’s also one of the reasons it gets my goat when people say he’s “on vacation now!”. Um, no. Work for your family at home is *the* real work — ask any stay-at-home-parent. 🙂

Yes, it is my choice to work (and, it should be noted, to go back to work; my employer was obviously very willing to give me all 12 weeks unpaid if I wanted it), but I work because we like our budget to balance — not because I buy expensive clothes or we go on vacations. It would be nice, though, if I didn’t *have* to work during this time with our newborn. It would be nice if American society valued parents and showed it through legislation.

So, until a law gets passed, I’m going to enjoy smelling this little baby head, eating scrambled goldfish from the hands of my two-year old, and being thankful for Ryan’s leave time.

And I’ll leave you with this face:

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And the twos are almost here

Don’t get me wrong. I love the age that Mark is right now. I can honestly say that I’ve enjoyed every age he’s been so far. But this one is getting to be a little trying.

Like most kids of this age (from what my friends have said), he’s started with “Mine!”, which is just perfect timing with Little Girl coming along soon. Yay. In addition, he’s started “play” hitting us sometimes. It’s really more like tapping than hitting, but it’s not a far cry from hitting, so we’re working on getting him to stop. Sometimes it’s just because, but sometimes it’s because he’s angry. So far, we’ve had good success with the “you can hit a pillow or the couch when you’re angry, but not people” and that usually works.

“No!” is also becoming more common, but that’s to be expected as well. I try and give him choices when I can (I always make sure I’m okay with either outcome!) to make him feel like he has control sometimes, and that’s proven to be helpful. I’m also on a crusade to make sure that no one asks him, “Okay?” at the end of a sentence unless they really want his opinion. Because he will give it. At top volume, often.

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What, this isn’t the most effective way to help out on Switch Out the Clothes Day?

 

 

 

 

So that I’m not a total Negative Nan, I’ll tell you that there are some super fun things about his current age.

Today, Mark started saying “Yes” to things. Before that it was “Yeah” and before that it was “Please”. So, we’re moving closer to the “right” responses. 🙂

He is so, so sweet when he wants to “see” the baby in my tummy and when we talk about his baby sister. It’s really touching. I’m hoping it keeps up for when she actually gets here and is actually being all up in his business. 🙂

Mark loves to play outside and loves digging in the dirt.  He’s also a lot more into playing pretend than he used to be and it’s fun to watch him be in his own world with his trucks and tractors.

Overall… almost-two isn’t too bad. It has it’s moments, but overall, I love interacting with my little guy like the person he is.

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First Slurpee taste… it was “cold!”. 

Mark and Mama Monday #6

It’s hard to believe this is our sixth Mark and Mama Monday! The time has really flown and I’m all kinds of nervous-pants about the next couple of months.

This week’s edition is pretty low-key. We went to the Columbia outlet store to get Ryan a new jacket (thrilling!), but we went to the park nearby afterwards.

Mark, as usual, wasted no time in finding some sticks.

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He didn’t let all those sticks hold him back from climbing the play structure, though.

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He also wanted to swing on the swings FOREVER. He loves the swing and always wants “more! please!”

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The obligatory selfie. Could my hair take up more space? Doubtful.

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We went home for lunch, but we had leftover cupcakes to eat, so that made it extra fun!

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Also, Mark took a nap and woke up with this hair. It’s too phenomenal not to share.

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Finally, my youngest sister, Molly, pointed out to me that since she lives far away that she has no idea what I look like pregnant this time around. So, here’s a photo a few days short of 32 weeks. Craziness that we’ve come this far, I tell you!

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I promise I’ll post other updates too sometime in the near future, but I’m trying to get ALL THE THINGS done before Little Girl gets here. 8 weeks. Yipes.

 

7 Quick Takes: Pregnancy Differences

It’s not the most original post title, I know, but it’s the most obvious. And my brain is… so… dang slippery these days. I’ll try and get through these Quick Takes while I still remember why I’m typing.

Without further ado, How Your Second Pregnancy Is Different From Your First

1) You’ve now been there are done that.

Then: I vividly recall being 8 weeks pregnant with Mark and calling the nurse help line because I had a stretching feeling on the left side of my abdomen. I was on the phone with them for probably close to half an hour (bless that nurse) who finally said, “You know, I think it might just be your ligaments stretching.”

Now: Any stretching or aches are more annoying than anything else. Which is kind of nice.

2) You are exhausted… all the time.

Then: You worked a full day and walked around all over the place. When you got home, you’d take a nice hour long nap so you could function for the rest of the evening.

Now: You spend your day playing with and chasing after a tiny person who runs your life (and it’s not the one in your womb) and there is no, no time for napping. Oh, and also? The tiny person gets up freakishly early. Even on the weekends. <facepalm>

3) Remember that whole “Feeling like a sacred vessel thing?” Yeah… about that.

Then: You basked in the glow of pregnancy and how people were so nice talking to you about being pregnant and asking you questions about your growing belly.

Now: You still like talking to people about being pregnant, but instead of glowing your face is kind of… reddish and splotchy in spots. Not to mention, you’ve got some nice bags under your eyes (see #2 above). So, squishy, tired, sagging vessel? A *little* more likely.

4) You already have the clothes...

Then: Buying maternity clothes, which are either comfortable or cute, but never both and WHYYYY?

Now: Did I wear these sweatpants yesterday? I don’t remember.

5) … but that doesn’t stop you from saying “Hmm… leggings.”

Then: Maternity jeans are about as casual and comfy as you can get!

Now: Wait, leggings are like sweatpants that you can wear out in public and still be super comfy? You say they don’t fit my body type? Whatever, I can wear them out of the house!

6) Sometimes, you kind of forget you’re pregnant.

Then: Has the baby moved in the last five minutes? Oh, there he is! Ok, whew. Can I eat that cheese? It looks soft? But maybe it’s just in small pieces? Hmmm.

Now: [While doing the dishes.] Why is my abdomen wet? Oh, yeah.

7) You get to share the joy of a baby with your kid

Then: You get to share the joy of welcome a new baby into your family with your husband.

Now: You get to share the joy of welcome a new baby into your family with your husband and your first baby.

It’s definitely not the same, but the results are just as exciting. 🙂

Do you like reading quick blurbs of other people’s lives? Head on over here to read more!

7 Quick Takes: Some toddler stuff and some videos (of not toddlers)

Every once in awhile I’m tempted to post some stuff that isn’t related to the kiddo. Today, I’m doing a (little) of that, so hooray? Also, it’s in video form which means… no reading on a Friday! Woot.

1) Toddler yoga

Mark and I went to a storytime/toddler yoga thing today with some friends at one of the libraries in the area. If ever you wondered whether or not Mark likes to dive right in and play with kids he doesn’t know, well, this is essentially the look he had on his face the whole time:

Not to say that he didn’t like it (Lauren and Ensley)! He liked listening to the stories and singing the songs, but I think he was a little lost as to why all of the other kids were standing on their heads and stretching out in funny ways. 🙂

It’s okay because…

2) There were dirt and sticks later on!

Yes, I had that unfortunate moment with an unknown mom when Mark kept yelling “Stick!” over and over and over again as he banged them on the play structure (that’s what those poles are there for, right?), when “stick” doesn’t sound like “stick” every single time.

But, man, that kid loves his dirt, sticks, and rocks. Takes after his Mama wanting to carry sticks all over the place. 🙂

3) Less he seem uncultured…

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We went to the mall to walk around (and look at the fish in the pond) and found ourselves in the children’s section of Barnes and Noble where Mark got to spend a good twenty minutes playing with Thomas and his friends and Mama got to rest and stare into space for a few minutes. We might have even looked as some books, too!

4) I don’t think you understand how much he likes waffles. 

Hint: It’s this much:

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Yes, our Christmas decorations are down now, but they were still up circa January 9th — we like to keep them up until the weekend after Epiphany in these parts.

5) Being pregnant the second time makes it seem like forever. 

I don’t know why this is and I promise not to whine about it anymore, but sheesh.

6) Video 1: What I Would Love To Do If I Was Famous

I can’t stop watching this video, for realz. The grooms new about it, but no one else did. It’s just awesome. The song is whatever and the band is meh, but the video is great.

7) Video 2: Probably because I’m pregnant, but this made my cry. 

If that doesn’t sell watching this, I don’t know what will. But, seriously. I had no idea that is is what “Closing Time” was really about. He does some showmanship blah-blah in the beginning, so if you’re pressed for time, skip ahead a little. If you have the time, watch the whole dang thing.

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Then, if you want more Quick Takes, head on over here.

Some of the cute things

Being a Mama is sometimes really fun and sometimes not as much fun. For example, Mark loved all the lights and cool kid-centered things about Christmas this year (fun!), but also wasn’t feeling super good all the time and managed to cover most of my shirt in snot and then ask “What’s that?” (not as much fun).

Sometimes, though, I find it easy to remember the trying times of the day: when Mark threw his cup on the floor after I asked him a billion times to put it on the table, or when he made the devilish grin at me as he snuck around the corner when I was trying to capture him for a diaper change, or when he yelled “No!” when I asked him for a hug.

I think a lot of people do this.\ I know when I was a classroom teacher I always remembered the failures and tough moments of the day, but forget when a student said, “Thank You!” after class.

In light of this, here are some of the cute things Mark has done in the last couple of weeks that were cute and/or fun:

1) When I get him out of the bath and take him to his changing table to put his pajamas on him, he reaches for my face and says, “More! More!” until I lean down, he grabs my head, and gives me wet kisses on my face and I plant dry ones on his cheek. He does this about five or six times in a row.

2) He’s started singing nonsense songs to himself when he’s playing by himself or when we’re in the car. Sometimes the songs contains words he knows (he was singing “Happy Day” over and over the other day), and other times they’re just baby babble.

3) Sometimes, Mark stops moving for a few minutes and just wants to snuggle. A week or so ago, he was playing on his own and I was sitting on the couch. He came over, wanted “up!” and then snuggled with me, pulling on my earlobe (his comfort move). Nothing had happened; he just needed a little Mama time.  🙂

4) He kind of know that Mama has a baby in her tummy (but, he also thinks everyone has a baby in their tummy, so we’re working on it), and he likes to sit on my lap facing me, pull my shirt up so he can see my belly and kiss/say hi to the baby. Then, he pulls my shirt back down and says, “bye-bye, baby!”.

5) Lately, Mark has been into spinning (do all toddlers do this?). Once or twice a day, he decides to stop what he’s doing and spin around in circles for about thirty seconds or so. Today, it wasn’t enough that he was spinning, Mama and Dada had to spin to (“Mama! Spinning!”). He laughed and laughed at Ryan and I spinning in circles around his room.

Okay, enough of the mother-gushing for now. Just storing these away for a day in the future where his free will decides to wield its ugly head. 🙂

A bunch of questions answered.

My long-time friend Mary over at The Domestic Apologist nominated me for something?  Maybe?  I don’t know.  There was this icon

and the usual wit and banter that Mary bequeaths upon the Internet not nearly often enough (sorry, Mary, I know you’re all pregnant and busy and whatever, but I love you and I love your writing).   She was kind of enough to tag me and ask a bunch of random questions.

Here they are!

1. Are you hosting Thanksgiving this year?  Taking a dish to another home?
No, thankfully, we are not hosting Thanksgiving.  I’m just not, not ready for that.  🙂  But, yes, I imagine I will be bringing something to the gathering at Ryan’s aunt’s house.  Pecan pie tends to be my staple, so I’ll probably do that (it’s really simple and I get to make piiiiiie!)

2. Are your kids sufficiently revved up for Halloween, AND when do you buy your Halloween candy?
Mark has no idea that Halloween is a thing, but he LOVES pumpkins.  So, really, any season with pumpkins would be a win for him.  I don’t buy the candy until about the week before because if it’s around, I WILL eat it.

3. Costumes of Saint getups for your kids this year?
Costume.  He’s going as a monkey (I made the costume last year, but bought it this year.  Maybe it will be an every other year thing).

4. Everyone loves fall. Is there anything about autumn that bugs you?
Yes.  The beginning of fall here is, quoting Lewis Black, like malaria.  It’s hot, it’s cold, it’s 50, it’s 80, and no one knows how to dress.  Give me 50s and 60s consistently and I’m a happy camper.  (P.S. Warmer is fine too, but I like the consistency.)

5. Stealing this from a previous Liebster list I saw, but what recent meme really cracked you up?
I’m completely ripping off Mary here, but this one made me laugh so, so hard.  It’s my life.  Completely.

(I don’t have the image source, and for that my English teacher license might be revoked.)

6. With what kind of intensity are you following the Synod?
Sadly, not nearly enough intensity.  I figure once documents are finalized, then I’ll really pay attention.  Before that, I just don’t have the energy.

7. On weekend mornings, do you cook a special breakfast at your house?
I try to do something.  Usually, it’s pancakes or eggs.

8.  Pick one current pop song. Expound upon your love or hate of it.
I know everyone kind of hates it by now, but I’ll say I still like it (mostly because I don’t listen to pop radio too much): “Shake it Off” by Taylor Swift.  Mark and I dance to it, which is really the reason I like it.  🙂  We haven’t reached this level yet, but we’re getting there:

9. If you had one for eternity: kettle corn or movie theatre popcorn? 
Kettle corn.  Movie theatre popcorn has WAY too much butter and is much MUCH too salty.

10. Predict the Superbowl champion. Or, recount your man’s elation or misery at the outcome of last year’s Bowl. 
I strongly dislike all Seattle sports teams, so there was not good times at our house.  I don’t really remember much more than that.  😦

Whew!  Okay, since Mary took most of the people  would tag, I’ll just add Maggie at Ten Thousand Places and Grace over at Camp Patton who has no idea who I am, but whom I stalk on the Internet regularly.

Now, for the questions for you fine ladies!

1. What’s the most recent book you’ve read that you would actually recommend?
2. What’s up next on you Netflix cue?
3. Favorite season and why?
4. If there was one professional sport you could banish from all the land, what would it be?  Elaborate.
5. You go to your mom’s house.  She says she’ll make you anything for dinner.  What do you ask for?
6. What game did you play the most as a child (this could be an imaginary play game, board or card game, or outside game).
7. What’s your worst Internet habit?
8. Chore that you wold happily pass along to someone else given the chance?
9. Fall is the season of the scary movie.  Are you for scary-scary or not?
10. You have a Saturday available to you with no responsibilities (work, children, etc.) and all to yourself.  What do you do?

Good luck!

Seven Quick Takes (of the last week-ish)

Hi hi.

It’s been pretty busy over here.  There’s been much stuff going on and it’s been HOT out friends.  It’s usually not that hot here in the PNW, but we have about a month of really hot weather (over 90) sprinkled throughout the summer, and some of this last week was in that category.  Before I use up all of my material before I even get to the quick takes, here you go!

1. Last Saturday — Ice Cream!  And beer!

Ryan and I try to go to as many brew fests as we can during the summer.  We homebrew (we’ve talked about this), and we are always excited to try some new brews.

The summer usually starts off with an organic brew fest (because, hi, PNW).  It’s pretty family-friendly and we took Mark last year when he was a babe.  This year, we brought him as a toddler, and it was still pretty fun.

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No, there’s nothing in the glass. 🙂

On our way out, I had to get some ice cream.  I love, love ice cream and I love even more trying out new places and new flavors.  I decided on the apricot hefeweizen (which was AMAZING) and we decided to give Mark his first taste of an ice cream cone.

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What?  You have to SHOW them what to do… right?

He’s not too sure about cold things and, as you can see, he still needs to work a little bit on sticking his tongue out, but we’re making progress.

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He can stick his tongue out, I swear.  

2. “Is it hot enough for you?  Is it hot?—” on Tuesday

So.  Hot.  100 degrees.  Ugh.

We busted out with this sprinkler thing that Mark got from some friends for his birthday.  You’re supposed to turn it on really high and then run through it while the little spouts go all crazy and get you all kinds of wet.

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Getting wet is really serious business.  

He did not care for that idea.  What he did want to do was sit (squat) in the grass and point the hose at both us and himself.

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Also, please ignore the brown grass.  That’s what happens in the summer when you have a lawn with no sprinkler system.

3. A boy and his perch

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We’ve been keeping the front door open, but the screen door locked, the last week or so to get the air circulating.  Mark has decided that this is the best place to checkout the outside world.

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Also, bonus, he likes to lead Ryan around the house like this.  It has nothing to do with this Take, but I had to include this somewhere.

4. Hiking in nature on Wednesday

It was going to be warm on Wednesday, but we decided to go hiking in the middle of the day when it wasn’t too bad.  There was lots of shade, we enjoyed a picnic lunch, and Mark had a great time in the backpack.  As I mentioned in my previous post, he LOVES saying “wha’s at?” to everything.  So, on the hike, that’s what we heard over and over and over again.  “Wha’s at?” “A leaf, buddy.”  “Wha’s at?” “A tree.”  “Wha’s at?” “Another leaf, sweetie.”

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Also, carrying a 23lb toddler in a backpack up steep switchbacks makes you feel like you’re on the episode of Biggest Loser where they have the contestants strap on a vest of all the weight they’ve lost and make them run a 5K or something.  Hard.  Work.

5. Fourth of July Friday!

We went over to Ryan’s parents’ house on Friday and had a barbeque.  Mark, as always, loved being outside.

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We didn’t do fireworks with Mark this year.  He LOST IT at about 7:20 and was super tired.  We put him to bed, and he was out like a light.  Don’t worry though!  There were LOTS of fireworks in our neighborhood at about 11:30pm (BECAUSE THAT MAKES SENSE) and the poor guy woke up a bunch of times.  But it was great because I LOVE losing sleep.  Uuuuuggggghh.

6. Mama thing: Books

I’ve been tearing through the novels I’m going to be teaching next year, and spending a couple of hours each day reading.  It feels a little bit like college again when my roommates would walk through the living room and think I’d been relaxing for the last couple of hours with a nice beachy read, when really I’d been slogging through chapters about dorsal fins in Moby Dick.

There’s no picture of this because… boring.

7. Mama thing: Baking

The best BEST thing about it being summer is that I actually have some time to bake.  I’ve made ALL of these things in the last week or so and every single one of them is delicious and going to live in my baking rotation forever and ever and ever.

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Triple Berry Cinnamon Swirl Bread from Joy the Baker

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Pink Lemonade Bars from Smitten Kitchen

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Peanut Butter Banana Bon Bons from Joy the Baker

Mark likes the bon bons:

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That’s it for me this week, friends.  I hope you have a good week and if you’re up to looking up some other Quick Takes, check out the link-up over at Jen’s.