Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What a Boob!

I try to keep things on this blog light-hearted and non political but after reading about the "breastfeeding initiative" that New York City's Mayor Bloomberg is trying to push, I can't shy away from something controversial this morning.

It's been weighing on my heart because my journey with breastfeeding was wrought with frustration, guilt, depression, anger and completely intertwined with my Postpartum Depression.  It's something deeply personal to not only myself but to every mother because at the core of the issue it comes down to wanting and doing the best for our children.

First of all - the science is definitely out there that breastfeeding for any length of time is beneficial to the development of infants.  There is a whole host of yummy, healthy stuff that is contained in breastmilk that you just can't quite recreate in formula.

BUT.  Life is not Star Wars.  Things are not divided into good and evil.  If breastmilk is good, that does not equate formula to being evil or poison.  For many women it is a viable and lifesaving option for their infants due to an inability (which could be for several reasons, none of which are up for judgment) to breastfeed long-term or even at all.  Choosing to breast or formula feed a child does not determine the "greatness" of a mother.  For many mothers, myself included, the decision to quit breastfeeding and instead give Natalie formula was actually the BEST thing for her because that moment of decision was the moment I began to climb out of a dark hole and back into the sunlight.  Giving up breastfeeding allowed me to become the present mother I needed to be so that I could bond with my child and be nurturing, patient, kind and loving.

Bloomberg's initiative states that formula in NYC hospitals will be locked up in a cabinet much like the strong pain medications that some women require after delivery.  All mothers in NYC hospitals will be encouraged to breastfeed.  THIS is the good part.  Encouragement is supportive, compassionate and genuine.  But what happens next is where I have a problem.  If a woman would like to either supplement or 100% feed their child formula, that mother will be "talked to" by the nurses about why they should not "opt out" of breastfeeding and then the mother will be forced to sign a paper in order for them to receive the formula for their children.

Excuse me?

I am almost 29 years old.  I am an educated woman.  I do not need to be "talked to" by a nurse or any other person about my choices and decisions.  If my principal has an issue with my performance at work, we have a private dialogue in his office.  If I inadvertently hurt a friend's feelings, we meet for coffee and have a heart-to-heart about the issue at hand.  Maybe it's the phrasing, but "talked to" invokes images of being a young child sitting in a desk with a stern teacher standing over me, her face taut with anger, wagging her finger in my face as she tells me what exactly I've done wrong.  Not the experience most women want to have in those emotional hours after the delivery of their child.

Mayor Bloomberg, have faith in the women of your city.  Have faith in mothers in general.  We know ourselves and our bodies far better than you.  We instinctively know what is best for our children and for our families.  Breastfeeding, for some, is not the best option and those women should not be lectured in the first crucial days after birth as to how they are already not up to par on the course of motherhood.

The supporters of Bloomberg's initiative are crying out that this is not a judgment against formula feeding mothers but instead a plan to keep the mass marketing of formula to mothers in the hospital at a minimum.  Now this is just anecdotal evidence based on my own personal experience, but I didn't really notice any big push by the pharmaceutical companies to get my baby hooked on a certain brand of formula while we were in the hospital.  If anything, when I mentioned the slightest frustration with breastfeeding, I was quickly shut down and reminded of all the benefits of breastmilk compared to formula.  Sure there was formula floating around and stashed in the bassinet cart but quite frankly, I couldn't tell you what brand and whether or not Natalie liked the little bit that she received when getting her to latch on.  My whole experience in the hospital was so foggy and full of information, long nights and visitors that I couldn't tell you the color of the walls, the food I ate or the formula they stocked.

I've also found that in life, whether it is with friends, family or in my professional career, you will attract far more bees with honey than you will with vinegar.  Approach women about the topic of breastfeeding with concern, respect, and most of all - caution.  You don't know where in life that woman has traveled.  You don't know what type of pain and suffering she has experienced that might have changed her world view on breastfeeding.  Putting women on the defensive who are in a vulnerable state, such as right after the birth of their child, will do nothing to promote the cause of breastfeeding.  Making women feel judged, less than, or a failure for not complying to the supposed "gold standard" of motherhood will only alienate those who you are trying to persuade.

Personally, Craig and I have tossed out the possibility of me not breastfeeding any future children based on the fact that it played such a large role in my PPD after Natalie was born.  Our first priority with a new child will be keeping me focused and present with my family and my infant.  A sane mother is much more effective than one stuck in a fog.  If I were to be in a hospital where this was the practice and I had to be lectured and then sign a waiver of some sort before my child was allowed to have nutrition, both Craig and myself would be livid........and I would be embarrassed and humiliated.  And most likely, an experience like what Mayor Bloomberg is proposing would most definitely be a huge trigger for someone who suffered as I did after the birth of my first child.

Is this how new mothers need to be treated?  Absolutely not.

Hand new mothers a pamphlet and offer compassion, encouragement and respect.  Then live and let live.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Brothers and Sisters

Natalie is hurtling towards her second birthday at the speed of light.  Yeah, she's only 17 months old right now but by the time the rest of summer flies by and we're starting school at the end of August she will be halfway to two.  I am assuming that this is the time in a young child's life when their parents are beginning to field questions regarding a sibling.  I have friends whose children are months younger than Natalie and are either already expecting or beginning the "trying" process all over again in the next few months.

And Craig and I just aren't there yet.

There have been conversations about a second child.  Craig and I have discussed it.  I've talked with friends.  I even blogged about the birth experience I'd like to have with any forthcoming children.  For awhile I couldn't even fathom the thought of going through another pregnancy, delivery and God forbid......I couldn't handle putting my family and friends through another bout of PPD.  I spoke with my friend Jill about second children at length awhile back - she too having been through the torture of PPD, she understood my hesitancy (and flat out refusal at times) but she reassured me that there would be a time where it would all seem managable and even exciting.  I expressed to my friend Emily about how I feel like I just got Natalie and how I just wasn't ready to add another to the mix - I feel like I need more time with just me and her.  But then Emily pointed out how, in a way, I DID just get her because I wasn't really present for much of her infancy.  Huh.  I hadn't thought about it that way but I understand her point.  It's only been in the past eight months that I have truly begun to enjoy being a mother to Natalie and I'm not ready to jump off the cliff and take the risk of being pulled away emotionally from her.  I'm perfectly happy and content being very present and available to her right now.  I am loving being her source of comfort, joy, entertainment and at times, sheer frustration.  I'm not ready to have to share and divide my attention.  

For right now, we are content as a family of three.

But I do worry that the nagging fear in the back of my mind won't ever go away.  I won't ever take that jump or that plunge off the cliff and have another child.  I have this vision of Natalie sitting alone in our home after Craig and I pass away and she has no one to share her tears with.  No one to help her unpack and unload all the junk we have accumulated.  No one to laugh with about how mom would dance around the kitchen while she cooked and the creative language dad would come up with while trying to fix the pool.  

My mother has one living brother and one deceased sister and after my grandmother passed away there was a houseful of wonderful family treasures that she and my uncle had to divide up between the two of them.  Both of them left their spouses at home and met in College Station to go through the home and my mother recounted to me what a lovely experience it was despite the sadness of burying their mother.  They were able to take their time and truly recall childhood memories and funny family stories - things that would have been frustrating for their two impatient spouses.  For some reason, that image of two siblings bonding over a shared history stuck with me.

My husband and I both have siblings and although at times our relationships have been tenuous and volatile, we have an understanding. For good or for bad, we know what makes each other tick and why we are the way we are. In a sense, my brothers sometimes know me better than my husband because they understand the family from which I was created and molded.  They know why I make certain decisions, react in a particular way or have a unique quirk.  Especially when starting a home, my brothers understand the necessity of having the same color hanger in our closet with all the clothes facing the same way where Craig was perfectly content with his mess of wire hangers and completely unorganized closet.  *Shudder*  Even genetically, I am closer to them than I am to any other person on this planet - including my parents.  If something terrible were to happen to me, they could literally be my lifesavers.  

I want Natalie to have that feeling of closeness, of kinship and of deep understanding.  Besides, Craig and I won't provide the most perfect of childhoods (who does?) and she'll need someone to commiserate over margaritas someday.

But for right now, I am enjoying being able to stop what I'm doing at any particular moment because a curly headed, giggling little girl has wrapped her skinny arms around my leg desperate for a hug from Momma.  

Summer Catch Up

I have done a TERRIBLE job documenting our summer adventures!  Half the time I either forget to take pictures when we're out and about or have left my camera at home.  And then there's the whole uploading-pictures-to-the-computer thing which for whatever reason is the slowest, most laborious procedure EVER.  But I put it on my "to-do" list for today and here is what I've taken over the course of the summer.  Enjoy!

For a Memorial Day celebration, my side of the family (my parents, two brothers and their families) got together at my parent's home for swimming and a cook-out.  Natalie certainly is a little fish - she loved not only being in the big pool paddling around but splashing with her baby cousin Ian in the play pool as well.

PLAYING AROUND - One of her favorite things to do is get into the drawers in the kitchen, pull out my oven mitts and wander around the house with "robot" hands.  Hilarious.  I don't have the heart to lock that drawer because A) it isn't hurting anything, B) it keeps her entertained while I cook and C) it is absolutely a riot to watch. 

Natalie's Aunt Sis is the head basketball coach at the local high school and it has become a tradition that Natalie attends the first day of camp and "registers" as a camper.  

Craig and Natalie about to head out the door.

Even though she's at basketball camp a girl still has to coordinate her outfit!

Following around the big girls - certainly one of her favorite activities.

Headed out into the melee - no fear in the gym whatsoever.

Little ball hog - every ball is her ball.

A team player - gotta help clean up the balls!

NAPTIME - We've gotten her on a great napping schedule this summer.  We play all morning, eat a quick lunch around 11:00 or 12:00 and then she usually passes out for a two hour nap in the early afternoon.  Usually.  

One day Craig got her up out of bed when she cried after taking a nap, but apparently she wasn't REALLY ready to be up for the rest of the day.  

When I lived on my own in the apartment, my living room furniture consisted mostly of IKEA tables and an entertainment center.  Before Natalie was mobile I had a pretty coffee table set up in front of the television but since the rug in the living room is where she spreads out her toys and plays.....the coffee table was pushed into the corner.  This summer Natalie has really gotten into scribbling coloring and needed a space in the living room where she could sit, eat snack and color.  Craig and I headed up to IKEA in search of cheap kids chairs that matched our existing furniture and our trip was an absolute success!

So excited to sit at her own table and color!

Of course, no coloring session is complete without a buddy present.

Pigtails.  I repeat.  PIG......TAILS.  Oh the cuteness.  Since her hair was getting so long, I tested out some piggies on the Fourth of July and I venture to say that they were a resounding success, no?

This picture just kills me.  What a face.

We live in Texas.  It is hot here.  Duh.  From the hours of 11:00 to 4:00 it is pretty much unbearable outside - especially for a sweet sixteen month old little girl.  One Saturday afternoon Craig and I were antsy to get out of the house and do something so we Goggled some kid friendly places around Dallas and off we went to the aquarium.  We chose the smaller (and cheaper) Dallas Children's Aquarium over the Dallas World Aquarium and it ended up being an AWESOME decision.  Not only was the place smaller and geared more towards younger children and their short attention span, but it wasn't crowded and Natalie had the freedom to walk from tank to tank at her own leisure.  And right now?  She is craving independence so she was a happy camper.

Pointing and jabbering at the fish.

One of my favorite photos of the two of us.

She was in awe of the fish - she would run back and forth from tank to tank just shrieking, jabbering and waving her arms around.

She would wave and give kisses to all the fish.

 Not too interested in the albino alligator.

Heading over to pet the sting rays with Daddy.

Look at that face!  She is so expressive.  I love the shark lurking in the background.

Wrapped up in the octopus' tentacles.

We have to eat which means I have to cook.  Over the years I've actually grown to enjoy the challenge of taking a recipe and making it edible for my family.  My mother is a wonderful cook who absolutely detests the process of cooking.  Strange.  Her specialties include all kinds of Italian dishes, best of which is her lasagna.  There is cream cheese involved.  Lots of it.  Mmm.  Craig was scheduled to have knee surgery last week.......during volleyball camp........during his big NCAA basketball tournament.  Yikes.  I anticipated being exhausted from taking care of four children (one on crutches, one almost three feet tall and two with fur and four legs) after a long morning at camp so I invited my mom over one Saturday morning to put together some frozen casseroles for me to heat up during our crazy week.  We had a lovely time hanging out in the kitchen, listening to the iPod and chatting with the three generations of women.  Natalie loves to pull a chair up to the island and "help" cook meals so she was rewarded with her first Baci - an Italian chocolate that is by far my mother's favorite sweet treat.

Natalie was a flower girl this past weekend in Craig's cousin's wedding and a hair cut was definitely in order before her big debut down the aisle.  I didn't want to do anything drastic (for fear the curls would disappear) BUT something had to be done about the baby mullet that was starting to form at the base of her neck.

Trying to get her to look at the camera these days is mildly impossible.

See those wispies at the bottom and on the sides?  Mullet.

Such a big girl sitting so sweetly in the pink Cadillac.

Big girl bangs and layers in the back to enhance her curls.

All done!

This past weekend Craig, Natalie and I loaded up in my car and made the four hour trek down to the Texas Hill Country for Craig's cousin's wedding on the lake.  It was a small, family affair but every wedding still needs an adorable little girl in a pretty dress throwing flowers, right?  I was a little nervous about what exactly she would DO while walking down the aisle but she was WONDERFUL.  Craig and I tag-teamed and were able to get her going in the right direction AND throwing the flowers.  Of course, being my child she felt the need to pick up the flowers that she had thrown, but that just added to her adorableness.  I was afraid that she would see all the people and get a little scared but this is where she and I differ.  I shrink from all that attention and she thrives on it - once she saw everyone looking at her, she walked faster and more confidently and the small smile on her face grew into a gigantic grin.  

Such a big girl.

After her flower girl duties were over, she was rewarded with a stuffed dog, goldfish and water.

Being a cute flower girl is obviously exhausting - she fell asleep on Craig's shoulder at the reception and then slept for two more hours in the hotel room!  

Summer vacation is winding down but we still have a few exciting things lined up - my friend Emily's 40th birthday celebration this week, my birthday is next Tuesday and then we're heading down to San Antonio and Sea World for three days before we go back to school!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Simple Life

I've been "deactivated" from Facebook and Twitter for about a month now.

And for the most part, I absolutely love it.

Life feels much more simple without the static and buzz that came from the constant news feed of desperately-trying-to-be-witty status updates or the one-upmanship of weddings, vacations, children and home photographs.  

I've never really been comfortable with clutter in my life.  Whether it's too many clothes in my closet or tchotchkes across the mantle, for whatever reason, it makes my brain go fuzzy and haywire.  I just can't think straight when things are out of order.

I started out the year focusing on the word "PRESENT" for this year.  After spending so much time in the fog last year I wanted to make sure that I was physically, emotionally and spiritually present for my daughter, my husband and all our friends and family.  But now that we're halfway through the year and I feel like I've pretty much mastered that word, I feel myself gravitating towards a new goal........SIMPLICITY.


Life is simply more simple without the chatter of Facebook and Twitter.

And so that's where I'm focusing my energy for the rest of 2012 - with Natalie growing bigger, smarter and more independent every day and with school starting at the end of August, life is about to get more hectic and chaotic.  So far this summer I have cleaned out my closets, drawers and cabinets in an effort to get rid of the excess junk that gets in the way and creates clutter.  I'm hoping that physical and digital simplicity will lead to emotional and spiritual simplicity for my family.  The less stuff we have coming into our lives, the easier it will be for us to focus on what is most important - the relationships we have with each other and how we can serve God and those around us.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

My Seattle Getaway

Even though my trip didn't start off on exactly the right foot (I forgot both my camera AND straightener at home) it ended up being absolutely lovely, wonderful and yet bittersweet.......all at the same time.  Bittersweet that I was leaving my darling little girl at home when her Aunt Amy would have loved to smother her with tons of kisses and hugs......but at the same time so full of excitement and comfort in being with one of my oldest and dearest friends.

Amy and I first met in the middle of 6th grade when her father retired from the Army and settled her family in my corner of the world when he took a civilian job at the local helicopter plant.  I believe that our friendship was most certainly God sent.  For as anal retentive, uptight and controlled as I tend to be, Amy is free spirited, light hearted and spontaneous.  I've known her for so long that I actually forget sometimes that we're not REALLY blood relatives.  There is such comfort in her friendship.  In certain conversations and stories, there is so much unsaid but not unnoticed.  She doesn't have to tell me how she reacted to a situation - I already know.

I wish I had words to truly express how much she and her friendship means to me.  She is my Ya Ya Sister and if something were ever to happen to me.......she would be the woman I choose to be Natalie's mother.

Okay.  Full confession.  I've had a glass of wine, I'm listening to Adele, I'm missing my bestie and now I'm crying.



Okay.  On with the trip.

I relished in having ample time on the flights to read, drink coffee and listen to my iPod.  I not only finished Sarah's Key (dark, historical, but highly enjoyable and powerful) but started AND finished The Great Gatsby as well (it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it was in high school).  I also bought and started reading Warrior Girls which delves into the topic of girls in sports since the passing of Title IX as well as the accompanying outrageous amount of knee (and other) injuries that plague many elite level female athletes.  Sociology, feminism AND sports?  This book is RIGHT up my alley.

I met some interesting people on all four of my flights: Bobby the ASU college student from Maryland returning home from a trip to Kansas to visit his girlfriend, an older lady whose name I cannot remember but whose husband died five years ago and she has spent these years traveling the world with a good friend, and Michael the Marine fresh out of boot camp who was surprising his pregnant girlfriend at home with a ring and a deployment to Afghanistan.

But the most interesting person that I met?  Former Dallas Maverick, Steve motha effin Nash.  This picture was taken in the Phoenix airport on July 10th as he was presumably departing for Los Angeles where he signed a contract to play for the Lakers.  "Bobby" and I were walking out of the Phoenix airport, him to his ride and me to another terminal for my flight to Seattle when he caught me and said "do you know who you just walked by?"  By this time we were outside in the oppressive Phoenix sun so as I searched desperately for my sunglasses in my purse, I shook my head in response.  "Steve Nash.  I know you follow basketball.  Steve effing Nash!"  Now Bobby was practically hyperventilating and vibrating all at the same time.  I peeked my head back through the airport entrance and sure enough, there he was, hugging his wife (girlfriend?) good-bye.  Bobby and I stared at each other.  "What do we do?  We've got to go get a picture!" I kind of yelled at him excitedly.  "Can we do that?" Bobby answered.....still shaking.  "When else are you going to run into Steve Nash?  Seriously!  I'm from DALLAS!  My husband is going to be SO jealous!  Come on!" That's all it took and Bobby was following me back into the airport.  I ran after Steve calling out "Mr. Nash!  Mr. Nash!"  He turned around with an "oh shit, they found me" look on his face, but I put on my best excited but apologetic smile and stuck out my hand.  The first words out of my mouth?  Not the greatest - it was one of those Dirty Dancing "I carried a watermelon" moments.  "Hi, I'm from Dallas.  We love you.  My husband's family named their dog after you."  Face palm.  Yikes.  Not my smoothest moment, but I had adopted Bobby's nervous shaking for my own and I hadn't really thought my plan out past calling his name and getting a picture.  The picture on my iPhone that Bobby took is a little blurry because he was shaking so bad and I'm sure the one that I took was pretty similar.  And as we walked away, Bobby and I did the requisite fist bump of accomplishment and quickly got on our phones to call our important people to completely brag about our experience in the Phoenix airport.  Steve Nash ended up being very personable despite the fact that he looked a little exhausted.  He wasn't as tall as I expected (only a few inches above my six foot frame) and he looked very thin.......and old.

Upon arrival in Seattle, I met up with Amy and her three (almost four) year old son Jake in the airport and we set off for some adventures around the city.  We visited the famous Pike's Public Market which was amazing but also totally crowded and overwhelming for me.  There was so much to look at and take in!  Amy ended up buying some fresh raspberries for cupcakes she was making later in the week and I purchased two gorgeous professional black and white photographs of the city.  

Oh.  And our first stop of course was the first ever Starbucks.  Yum.

I had only two requests from Amy as to our itinerary in Washington, one being pedicures and the other a viewing of Magic Mike.  I'm not even ashamed to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed the movie - although I think the best part was the four little old ladies in front of us who were incredibly invested in the plot line, characters and the abs of Matthew McConaughey.

Here's Amy getting her toes done!

The weather was remarkably wonderful while I was there.  We only had one day of rain and the rest of the week was warm in the low 70s which is pretty rare for Washington state, particularly Whidbey Island where Amy lives.  For most of the week we tooled around town in Amy's super cute "Cinderella blue" Volkswagen Beetle convertible while we listened to Mumford & Sons, Madonna and a little bit of Texas country.

I love this girl.  

A very high (and apparently famous) bridge that stretches from the mainland of Washington state to Amy's island.  Amy's husband Michael tried to get me way out in the middle of the bridge for a picture with the mountain behind us but I could hardly do it.  I walked timidly out there, smiled so incredibly fake and turned on my heel and marched back to safety.  I don't mind heights where I'm protected from falling (tall buildings, airplanes, etc.). but I didn't like the fact that the only thing protecting me from plummeting to an untimely death was a single metal rail that barely grazed my hip.  One swift gust of wind and I was positive that my tall frame would be pushed over the railing and I would be a goner.

I've always been known to have a pretty active imagination.  

A view of the land from the side of the bridge where my feet were firmly planted on solid ground.  Although Amy's little town is pretty far away from the comforts of home (namely, Target) if you're going to be stranded out in the middle of nowhere living on a Naval base, at least there is some pretty scenery to look at.

On Friday night before I was put on a shuttle back to Seattle and the airport, Amy and I headed to the nearest mall (40 minutes away) for an early showing of Magic Mike.  I'm not even ashamed to admit that I really enjoyed it.  And not just because of the eye candy - Channing Tatum is pretty hilarious and a great dancer.  We had wonderful time giggling, eating popcorn and listening to movie commentary coming from the four old ladies in front of us.  On the way home we started to get hungry so we picked up a real classy dinner for ourselves - pizza and a six pack of Mike's Hard Pink Lemonade.  Just like when we were in high school.

All in all it was a great week away visiting my dearest friend but never in my life have I had such a hard time getting adjusted back home!  Finally......a full WEEK after I returned home, do I feel put together, on top of things and in control.  Luckily it's just in time for the week from hell - volleyball camp, Craig's big NCAA basketball tournament, a knee surgery and a trip to Austin this weekend.  Yikes.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Seattle Bound

On Tuesday morning I will be boarding a plane all alone, finding my seat in first class and jetting off to the Pacific Northwest to visit my nearest and dearest best friend Amy.  Craig surprised me with tickets near the end of June and since then I've been anxiously awaiting this little getaway.  In preparation I had to go out and purchase some new clothes of course - especially since, you know....it's about 30 degrees COOLER up there and I just don't have that many CUTE cold weather clothes.  

And then there's been that whole "hate my body and size so I'm not going shopping thing" this past year.

But that post that I wrote the other day - the one about the pants? - it was a purge of emotions and I think now that those fancy pants are out of my closet I actually feel better about shopping and dressing the size I am now.......instead of having a constant reminder of what size I used to wear and the life that went along with it.  So Craig and I were able to go out a few weeks ago and pick up just a couple of things for me without any kind of emotional distress or frustration.

And so without further ado.........

I found these two tops at Old Navy and they're loose, billowy and totally comfortable.  The best part is that I can just slip a cami underneath and they can go with different pants, shorts and jewelry - totally versatile AND good for the "winters" we get here in Texas.

I actually tossed out a jacket almost exactly like this when I did my closet purge and surprisingly, it was one of the items that made my heart hurt the most.  I wore this style of jacket tromping all through Europe when I went with a friend of mine from high school in 2007.  It's great for layering and looks fantastic with dark denim jeans - it can also dress up a pretty otherwise dull outfit.

Being a middle school teacher I saw kids coming in and out of the locker room in Toms every single day of the year.  I liked the concept of a soft and cushy shoe but I hated the fact that it kind of looked like a slipper.  But knowing that Amy swears by her numerous pairs of Toms, I had to give them a shot and once I slipped my foot into the plain light blue style I liked best.......I was hooked.  I think they'll be a wonderful travelling shoe - easy to slip on and off through security - but also great for the three months a year in Texas when it's too cold for flip-flops.

I seriously stepped out of my comfort zone with this pair of jeans.  I finally broke down, got with the times and bought my first pair of skinny jeans.  I don't know what my problem has been in refusing to even thry these on.  Maybe the fact that I see them primarily on teenagers or maybe I thought I was too "hippy" for them?  Not sure.  But regardless of why I never bought them before, they look great on me now.

I didn't buy this book recently but I am taking it on the trip.  My mother gave it to me a very long time ago but it's been sitting on my bookshelf waiting to be read because I've been coaching and chasing after a small child for the past year.  I finally settled down to read it and boy.  What.  A.  Bummer.  The story intertwines the tales of two people (a young girl and a mid-forties woman) during the month of July in Paris and both focus around the round-up of several thousand Jews during the Holocaust.  It's beautifully written and an incredibly compelling story but it is so depressing and heavy and I can only read it in short spurts or my heart begins to ache too badly.

While we were out shopping I also stopped by the bookstore to pick up a few new things to read on the plane since I will have several peaceful and uninterrupted hours to myself.  I figured I might as well get started on another item on my Dirty Thirty list and I picked up The Great Gatsby.  Plus the movie is coming out in December with Leonardo DiCaprio and I'm a firm believer in reading the book before seeing the movie.  I know my patient high school English teacher assigned my class this book but it's a fair bet that I cliff noted my way through........if I even did that much.  

Okay.  To clarify - I'm not dumb.  I didn't read the Cliff Notes in high school because I was a lazy do-nothing (okay, I was a little lazy).  I was in all honors classes, the gifted and talented program, played varsity basketball and was involved in numerous clubs and organizations.  Maybe I just didn't have the time?  Or maybe my talents and enjoyment didn't reside in English class but instead in my math and social studies courses.

I've also joined a book club starting in the fall, which of course is my busiest time of the year.  BUT this book club ONLY meets once a month so I think I can fit that into my schedule.  I try to keep one or two things on my calendar that are strictly time for me (Bible Study and volleyball) but in the fall during the season (especially now with Natalie) it's just too difficult.  But once a month?  I can definitely commit to that.  Our first book club "assignment" is any book written by John Irving and since I like to take the road less traveled, I skipped past his most famous work of literature (Cider House Rules) and went with something a little less known.

Amy doesn't actually live IN Seattle but instead on an island about two hours from the city but after she picks me up from the airport we are going to hang around downtown Seattle for just a little while.  Our first stop is definitely to my Mecca.........the original Starbucks.  Sigh.  I'm super excited.

We honestly don't have very much planned - we're going to get pedicures together and have a movie date to see Magic Mike since both our husbands vehemently vetoed seeing it with either of us.  Other than those two things I think we're just going to hang out and relax which will be just what both of us need.