New month, new list. August tends to inspire a lot of “summer’s almost over” laments (or cheers, depending on perspective), though around here, that’s not true. School starts after Labor Day. There are a good 5 weeks to go. The kids have only been out of school for a little over 6 weeks, so we’re just past the halfway mark. I am hoping to enjoy the month. We’ve got a week of vacation coming up, which will not require an 11-hour car trip, so there’s that. Although it still will be with the 2-year-old, who is continuing in a bit of a difficult phase. He’s been waking up in the middle of the night, and if he makes it through the night, he’s up at 5 a.m. again. It had been getting better, and then it got worse. It is frustrating. He can be so sweet and loving, and his vocabulary and thought processes are pretty astounding. We were in the car and he was trying to wriggle out of his seat belt. I told him he had to stay in. He said “I could fly out of the car?” Yes, that could happen in an accident. “I’d wear a jet-pack!” Then, next thing you know he might be deliberately pouring out water on the floor, throwing food, and biting his siblings. I have been attempting to go a bit Dale Carnegie on this issue, trying to “arouse in the other person an eager want,” pointing out that no one wants to play with you when you bite them, and he loves when his siblings play with him, but I guess he is still two.
Anyway, in the midst of that, here’s a short list of things that I am enjoying right now.
Oui yogurt. Reminiscent of a continental breakfast on a vacation to Europe. I always love peeling off the foil tops on those little glass containers. Now I just need a baguette and a big hunk of cheese.
The evening bike/run. My 7-year-old likes to take his bike out for a loop down our street and on the paths that circle a nearby retirement community. We sometimes go — him biking, me running/walking — around 7 p.m. It’s a better way to spend that post dinner time than random email checking, and I know in another 2 months it will be getting dark too early to do it (!) So a fun summer treat.
Box Office Mojo. My 10-year-old is obsessed with the highest grossing movies. This website updates the box office tallies — and the rankings — daily. I cannot believe that daily earnings of movies in theaters are available without any subscription required, but sometimes the Internet gives so much for all it takes.
Shutterfly. I made a photo book for my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. Shutterfly makes scrapbooking possible for those of us with absolutely no skills in this area. Look at these people!! Pro-tip: Always look for coupon codes at RetailMeNot (or even posted on Shutterfly). The photo books I created would have run around $35-40 apiece with shipping, and I got it down to $15/each. Shutterfly must make all their money on the handful of people who don’t know to look for coupon codes.
Podcasts. As part of my goal to listen to something other than Andy Grammer songs on Sirius XM radio in my car (where I average an hour a day) I’ve been listening to more of them. They really are a fun way to spend the time, and you feel like you’re listening in on a conversation with the host(s). As with video, I know platform building is about people feeling like they know you. So, more on this later, although I really do not like the way many do ads and sponsors, with the hosts talking about the product. I think I find the format of TV or radio commercials much less objectionable. I know that may sound odd given that I just recommended commercial products and websites in the previous few paragraphs, but the idea of money changing hands for me to do that goes against the journalist lurking inside whatever you’d call my profession now. Much to ponder with the new media landscape.
Instagram. Speaking of me discovering something about 5 years after everyone else. It’s the part I like of Facebook (baby photos!) without all the other stuff.
Team of Rivals. I really enjoyed reading Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals last month. I’ve been pondering much after reading it. First, how little time in history we are removed from death being much more a part of daily family life. Abraham and Mary Lincoln lost three of their four sons as children or young people (one died after Pres. Lincoln but the other two before). Edward Bates, Lincoln’s Attorney General, had 17 children with his wife Julia; only half made it to adulthood. Salmon Chase, the Secretary of the Treasury and later Chief Justice, lost 3 wives to illness in 11 years. That time period isn’t ancient history, but medically it may as well be. Thank goodness. Another topic: I’m really curious about what life was like in the Confederacy, and what the thought process was there at the time. Most people in the South didn’t own slaves, and before the war it appeared that the compromise on the table was simply whether some of the new territories would allow slavery and some would not. Why was this not acceptable to the powers that existed then, to the point where they entered a war that within a few years would result in the abolition of slavery and the destruction of big chunks of the south? So I picked up James McPherson’s Embattled Rebel, which was billed as a biography of Jefferson Davis, to learn more about what people were thinking. Unfortunately, it’s proving to be just an account of the various infighting among generals in the south, and not much about the lead-up. I welcome other suggestions.
Running goals. Still going with the streak. I did a 7:34 mile on the treadmill the other day. After a short warm up, I put the ‘mill at 8.0 mph, kept it there for 5-and-a-half minutes, lowered it to 7.5 mph for about a minute, and then cranked it back up to 8.0 for the last minute. Maybe in another few weeks I’ll try for a few seconds lower.
Quickie swim lessons. Yesterday I gave the 7-year-old and the 5-year-old half hour swim lessons. They can both swim, but need to learn the strokes if they’re going to swim competitively. I hadn’t really thought about how to break down the arm and leg motions of everything, but it came back to me, literally from when I was on summer swim teams when I was about their ages. I guess it’s like riding a bicycle. (Well, not butterfly. I am useless on that).
This speech on time and memory. I saw Lila Davachi give this speech at TEDWomen last fall, and some of the material wound up influencing a chapter in Off the Clock.