Friday miscellany: Cutting the kids’ hair, plus books read in April

On today’s homeschooling checklist, I wished everyone a happy 9 weeks of homeschooling. We’ve definitely settled into a rhythm at this point. I assign everyone an hour of reading, plus some extra math or enrichment practice, language or instrument practice as the case may be, and something physical (often “run 1 mile”). We note any special classes beyond the morning meeting — I haven’t been doing too many of these, but band and a poetry writing group are happening. My 10-year-old and 8-year-old start a coding class next week. The 5-year-old does his circle time usually sitting on my lap (the only way he will stay still for it). He is on the cusp of reading, which is very exciting for many reasons. One, that he will be able to read (and reading is wonderful!) Second, it will give him something to do during quiet time in his room and increase the chances that he actually stays in there.

We’ve come up with a system for rationing his YouTube time. He can have a turn in the morning if he has gone to bed nicely the night before. This has worked surprisingly well — knock on wood, but since that has been an option he has not fought bed at all. And then during the day he can earn three stars for various good behaviors: getting dressed/brushing teeth by himself, staying in his room during quiet time, trying a new food at dinner. If he earns three stars, he can have a computer turn again after 7 p.m. There is screen time during the day– group Minecraft is encouraged! — but the YouTube videos tend to provoke the worst behavior, so hence that’s the subject of rationing.

The baby has had a few better nights on the sleep front. The issue now is that I am transitioning into what I think of as “summer sleep.” If the baby wakes to eat at 5 a.m. (a fairly frequent occurrence if I get him down for the night around 9:30 p.m.) then by the time he is fed and back in his SNOO it is 5:30 a.m…. and the room is getting light.   I find it hard to sleep in the morning when it’s light. Some mornings I get up and work (see the post from earlier this week). Some nights I go to bed later though. Last night my husband and I enjoyed a glass of wine together on the back porch from 10-10:30. The kids were all in their rooms, it was nice. We opened a really good bottle since we have zero other occasions to do so. I was asleep around 11, so getting up at 5 wasn’t going to make me feel rested. I lay in bed for a while trying to sleep, just being patient with myself, telling myself this was all good. If I slept, great. If not, I was getting some rest, and I’d get extra time to work. But eventually I fell asleep and got another hour in so yay.

Major happenings: I cut the kids’ hair this week. We have a set of clippers and hair scissors that my husband must have had for…decades. I don’t know. But I watched some videos, then put in the longer length comb, and started with the youngest boy with hair (the 5-year-old) who I figured would be less likely to complain about a botched job. I did the sides with the clippers and then did the top with the scissors and he looked good enough that the 10-year-old and 12-year-old (almost 13-year-old!) willingly sat themselves down on the stool to go next. I notice a little tuft here and there I didn’t get but I was fairly satisfied with the job. Yes, a pro would have done it better, but it also turns out that cutting little boys’ hair isn’t rocket science. I cut my daughter’s hair too with the scissors. I don’t think I got it entirely even, but she had refused to let anyone cut her hair for like a year so it looks better and bouncier now with all the dead weight gone. A quarantine victory. I was somewhat surprised how compliant my kids were with this. I announced I would be cutting their hair and they were basically like “OK.”

I turned in the first round of edits on my New Corner Office book. The current pub date is July 21. I welcome ideas for promotion.

Now, my belated Books Read in April round-up:

The Sixth Extinction, by Elizabeth Kolbert

Kolbert tackles the extinction of various species through history, looking at what caused them, and how humans are causing them now. The most fascinating part of this is that human-caused extinction isn’t new — ancient humans caused extinctions of mega-fauna and human-like species such as the Neanderthals. Kolbert goes all over the world in pursuit of her story, and generally manages to keep the narrative going with her dry humor, so this makes for a good read.

In Other Words, by Jhumpa Lahiri

In this slim book, Lahiri writes about learning to speak and write in Italian. This multi-decade quest finally takes her family to Italy so she can be fully immersed. She is straightforward about her limitations; I enjoyed her discussions of how it feels to write in a language learned as an adult. The concept of the book though — half in English, half in Italian (and she refused for reasons she writes about to be her own translator) struck me as a little strange, though this was partly because I read it as an ebook and couldn’t see that this was the format. I sensed she was taking a victory lap, and I was perplexed because my Kindle said I was only 50% through the book…and then I realized the rest of the book was in Italian. I’ve been told her fiction is good so I should probably check that out.

Of Mess and Moxie, by Jen Hatmaker

Hatmaker was a guest on Best of Both Worlds (talking about Fierce, Free, and Full of Fire), and I was looking for some laughs, so I picked up her previous book. The comic parts are great (I enjoyed the instructions of what to do if your toddler son decides to pee in inappropriate places). The religious discussions are fairly similar to the current book — she has her format — but it’s generally an appealing one.

The Boys of Summer, by Roger Kahn

I was racing against my Libby deadline on this one, but I made it. Kahn got a job in his early 20s covering the Brooklyn Dodgers for the New York Herald-Tribune. It was a dream job — he was a Brooklyn boy and a Brooklyn fan — and this was when the Dodgers were at their best, with Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese, Roy Campanella, and the rest. He knew he was lucky, but like many young people, didn’t know how lucky until he began to reflect. Decades later he came back to visit all these boys of summer, now in middle age. This is a book of loss and asking the question of how you live life when the biggest thing you will ever do is in the past. (Long time readers may recall this is a theme of The Cortlandt Boys!) Though it drags toward the end, this is mostly a good read, definitely good for baseball fans (particularly those missing the start of the season right now!).



14 thoughts on “Friday miscellany: Cutting the kids’ hair, plus books read in April

  1. I love Jhumpa Lahiri (she’s in my top five of favorite authors, next to Jane Austen and Miss Ngozi Adichie) but didn’t really like In Other Words. You should try one of her other books. My favorite one is Unaccustomed Earth.

  2. I had the same experience with In Other Words since I was reading it from the Kindle app on my phone. I really liked her novel “The Namesake.” Her fiction is very different from the voice of In Other Words, which might be due to the translation.

    1. I also like The Namesake (the movie is well done!). Just finished The Lowland… it was a bit slow but nicely written.

      1. Jhumpa Lahiri is great! I think her short stories, especially those in The Interpreter of Maladies and Unaccustomed Earth, are even better than her novels.

  3. I’ve never commented – but feel I must just to encourage more Jhumpa Lahiri reading! 🙂 Her novels the Namesake and the Lowland are excellent and I credit her two short story collections for convincing me I actually love short stories. A fun fact is that Mindy Kaling named her character in Mindy Project after Jhumpa Lahiri.

  4. I wear an inexpensive, but lovely, silk eye mask I picked up at the drugstore years ago.

    The down-side; I cannot sleep without it. If it happens to fall off in the middle of the night, I do tend to wake up. BUT 95% of the time it stays in place, which means 95/100 nights, light does not bother me.

    I read a book by Arianna Huffington about her sleep revolution; I think it was in this book she mentioned taking tape to hotel rooms and covering up any sources of artificial light (the power light on the TV, for instance). I found a shocking number of light sources in our room at night and it was just too overwhelming to cover them all…

    Cue the eye mask. I love it and really do think it helps me sleep more soundly (though, admittedly, it is harder to wake up in the morning without the natural light slowing rousing me).

    1. This is a genius idea! I find myself waking in the middle of the night sometimes unable to sleep until I finally get up and turn off my computer’s power strip. The flashing router lights still annoy me and I was looking to find a solution. (computer came into bedroom with COVID). I like this one!!!

    2. I use a Bucky 40 Blinks eye mask; it has molded foam so it doesn’t touch my eyelashes. This masks have made sleeping after night shifts so easy.

  5. I love how you always seem to read such a great variety of genres and books that are so different from each other. One of my goals this year was to read at least 5 books of different genres I normally don’t read (I made a list). I tend to read a lot of non-fiction of similar styles but would like to mix it up more.

  6. In awe of all that you do!
    For the new book I think LinkedIn and HR s are your best bet, apart from your faithful followers across blogs, podcasts etc. I would go about it this way- find companies that are putting in significant efforts to make this wfh reality productive- and reach out to their HRs/ CEO. If they recommend, everyone reads it !

  7. Someone mentioned it above, but get an eye mask! I am the same way and used to put a pillow over my head. I hope it works for you!

  8. I had this same problem recently morning waking in summer for YEARS. Finally discovered blackout linings that I hang behind my existing curtains and can easily be removed when no longer needed when the nights get darker again. This small change has been life-changing for me in terms of sleeping in brighter seasons.

  9. To beat the Libby Deadline, if you use a kindle or other ereader, try turning off the wifi or putting it in airplane mode. The book won’t go away until you turn it back on, I do this all the time when I put a bunch of books on hold and they are all delivered at the same time. Thankfully, now you can delay delivery too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *