Monday miscellany

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.

15 thoughts on “Monday miscellany

  1. Isn’t it interesting, what kids (and grown-ups, for that matter) will find creepy or not? My older son did not like Dr Seuss’ “What Was I Scared Of?”, the one about the pale green pants with nobody inside them. Also the Siamese cat song in Lady and the Tramp, and the floating-up-to-the-ceiling scene in Mary Poppins. He found all of them just too eerie.
    Of course, later he became a reader of dystopian literature and recently was a finalist in a play festival, for his play about a cadaver. So I guess he got over that creepy fear.

    1. @Jess- thanks! theoretically the strategies should work for anyone, they’re not dependent on having a certain family situation or income. That said, I imagine that, as usual, my core readers will be professional women, ages 30-50, with kids at home. That tends to be who is most drawn to my work!

  2. Looking forward to the new book! As someone who struggled to get in 1-2 workouts per week before tracking time in 2016, and now routine manages to get in 4-5 workouts per week, I’d say self-help, helps…interested to see if I’m the only one.

      1. It’s a small tip I learned from you but so helpful: Templates. I don’t write the same email reply a hundred times anymore. Saves me a lot of time and energy!

  3. Congrats on the book!

    I’m tempted by The Big Read. I’ve attempted War and Peace only once and just could not get into it, but I would also really like to say I’ve read it. Something to consider for 2021 resolutions!

    1. @Amy – this struck me as a fairly painless way to do it, and one chapter a day is really nothing. They are so short! I’m not sure why Tolstoy wrote that way, but it does make the reading process far more manageable.

  4. I think if you are on the fence about a third kid, the car/car seat thing can definitely tilt the balance. Or in our case, we put off deciding on a third kid, in part because of the car thing, and now we are decided “no”. Three kids already feels daunting but the idea of needing a bigger car or more hassle with car seats only increases that feeling. My kids also hated car seats and there was a 6 month period where the worst part of my whole day was wrestling the 2 year old into the car seat, both in the morning and after daycare. I had never thought of getting narrower car seats/busters until Sarah talked about it on Best of Both Worlds. No one I knew got smaller car seats – they all just got bigger cars.

  5. Huh. The car seat thing is surprising to me, but another commenter said it came into play in their decision. Honestly, that’s pretty low on the list of things I’d take into consideration when adding to our family. We are definitely done at 2 as I’ll be almost 40 when our 2nd is born in December and pregnancies are incredibly difficult for me. But the car/car seat thing is just not something we would be all that focused on… I mean, I get that it’s a consideration as that would likely bump you to a 3 row SUV or a minimum instead of a sedan/smaller SUV. But I don’t think that’d be the tipping point for us… I’d think things like having room for a 3rd in your house, the increased costs of daycare, etc would be top of mind and the car thing is just another hassle to deal with.

    1. @Lisa- I am sure all these costs factor in, but while kids can share rooms, they can’t share carseats, so I think getting bumped up to a larger car would play in. Not for people who definitely wanted a third, but if people were on the margin… Of course there are some thinner carseats, and we used them for a while!

  6. I’m so excited for the book! You did a Tranquility by Tuesday makeover with me last year and it was so helpful. I appreciated it so much and you had some great tips that we continue to implement to this day. We plan our weekends out Wednesday/Thursday to make sure they are filled with both family time and personal time. In the beginning of the pandemic we weren’t doing it, but it is crucial!! Even if you can’t leave the house, having a game plan is so important.
    I made a workout everyday I am not at work rule (you had mentioned if I can workout both weekend days I just really need to fit it in one more day a week). Well now with COVID I work 1-2 days a week from home so I am working out more than ever!
    Thank you Laura, your work has been such a help in my life!

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