It’s a rainy fall morning here. I put two kids on the bus this morning for hybrid elementary school (they go mornings, Mon-Thurs). That means that the 8th grader is the only school-aged child left in the house during the day. I celebrated by going to the dentist to replace my temporary filling (the aftermath of my double root canal). Because the tooth has zero soft tissue left, they were able to drill with no novocaine. Silver linings! (Ha ha, a little dentistry joke).
We had a nice weekend. A highlight: our first bike trip as a family of seven. It’s a lot of bother to load five bikes, a tag-along, and a Burley onto two cars, but everyone had so much fun, and the weather and fall leaves were gorgeous. I can now cross this off my fall fun list, but I think we’ll do it again! The kids got their flu shots, I ordered Halloween costumes, my husband and I both got to work out, and we watched Texas A&M win their football game (my husband went there so the season tends to define our fall). I spent a lot of time reading a new book called Kindred, which is about the Neanderthals. This is one of my strange obsessions, but I find the idea of a human-like species living before and concurrently with homo sapiens so fascinating.
A few notes: First, if you have been thinking about writing a novel, NaNoWriMo is coming up! Thousands of people take part in National Novel Writing Month, cranking out a 50,000 word novel draft during the 30 days of November. That’s 1667 words a day (or 2500 a day, if you only clock the 20 workdays). Sometimes it’s fun to have accountability, and you have the next 19 days to work on an outline.
Another challenge: Jeremy Anderberg runs a book review newsletter that I’ve touted here before. He’s doing a project called “The Big Read” in 2021 that will tackle…War and Peace! The book has something like 320 very short chapters, so it’s ideal to read over the course of a year, in literally 10-15 minutes a day. I signed up; the subscription includes various accountability events and content with insight into Tolstoy, etc. I enjoyed the book the first time, so I think it will be interesting to tackle it again.
Speaking of books…We’ve been reading a few “spooky” (not really) children’s books at night. I can recommend The Dark, by Lemony Snicket (illustrated by Jon Klassen), which is about a little boy named Laszlo, who is afraid of the dark until the Dark comes to visit him. The prose is smooth and cool as a window pane. We also enjoy Creepy Carrots and Creepy Pair of Underwear by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Peter Brown. Done in black and white with a single glowing color (orange for the carrots, green for the underpants) these books feature a tale of young Jasper Rabbit who wants to be brave, but is challenged by the sinister twists from these everyday objects. I’m in the process of collecting Christmas-themed books as we head into that season.
I am utterly fascinated by a new working paper claiming that the rising ages of car seat mandates discourage families from having a third child. It’s hard to fit three seats in a back seat, and so the theory is that people think they’ll have to buy another car and therefore… I imagine there are some complicating issues (and correlation/causation stuff) but…hmm… In other news, I’m still in the market for a new car, though not really. We’ll likely replace the family van first. I’m kind of taken with the 2021 Sienna.
Finally, I’m happy to announce that I’m starting work on another book! Tranquility by Tuesday will look at how people’s use of time changes when they implement some of my favorite time management rules. Yep, I’m doing a study to find out if self-help is helpful! The book will also feature narrative makeovers, profiles, etc., and most likely be published around summer 2022.