March/April 2015 Book Reviews

In an effort to not end up with a huge long post of books like this one from last year, I am doing book reviews every 2 months on the blog this year. Check out January/February here.

And now for the books I finished in March and April:

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The Secrets of Midwives – This was a great novel! It fed my love of childbirth stuff with my love of story. Well written, kept my interest, quick read. It really had everything. Birth, love story, family relationships. Loved it.

Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers – I really like the premise of this research. Such a good look at the way our culture puts peer interaction on a pedestal while forgetting the importance of adult attachment. It was recommended by some attachment parent friends, and I definitely jive with the principles. The actual writing was a tad repetitive.

Body of Work: Finding the Thread That Ties Your Story Together – Listened to the audible of this short book. I really like how this author talks about ALL of our experiences, jobs, careers, hobbies as “ingredients” for our body of work and how experience from seemingly very different backgrounds can dovetail nicely into a career or path. Coming from someone who has a very Eclectic ‘ingredients’ that resonates with me a lot.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
– Since pretty much the whole internet seems to be reading this book, I figured I’d give it a shot. I was skeptical, mainly because I’d heard so much about it from blogs and podcasts, I wondered if there was more to learn. Turns out yes, there was! And I also wondered if it’d be similar to Joy of Less that I’ve also been reading, but they definitely have had different ideas.

My main takeaways –

-Only keep items that spark joy
-You will find a clickpoint where you have just the right amount of items
-Let unread books GO. They have served their purpose. Same with half finished books. Gave me the freedom to do that!
-Loungewear – don’t downgrade your regular clothes to loungewear (i totally do this) and some people have more loungewear than regular clothes and that’s okay. (I.e. work from home mamas!)
-Don’t leave your shampoos and stuff in the shower indefinitely. Only bring them in when you are using them. Helps with the slime factor.

All in all, great book, makes you really think about your relationship with your stuff and was a quick read.

Still Alice – This was a very vivid portrayal of what it’s like to be someone living with early onset Alzheimer’s. Now that I’ve finished the book, I’m looking forward to seeing the movie version that Julianne Moore won the Oscar for.

Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination – This is a very short book form of JK Rowling’s 2008 Harvard Commencement Speech. Eloquent as always, I love how she is always fighting to help those less fortunate.

As of this writing I just finished Buddhism for Mothers, am working on Raising Your Spirited Child, am almost done with Better Than Before and have a whole slew of books on deck for vacation next week.

What have you read lately?

**This post contains amazon affiliate links, if you chose to buy a book from amazon based on my recommendation, Clare’s diaper fund gets a few cents.  Thank you for supporting my creative endeavors!

**If you want to try out Audible, please support my podcast by going to http://www.audibletrial.com/postpartum  where you can get a free audiobook and 30 day trial.

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Progress > Perfection

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I’m pretty sure this has been my all out mantra for everything lately.

Life with a high needs “spirited” one year old for this goal-oriented, anxious perfectionist is HARD. Any other mamas with kids as intense as Clare, I know you feel me. I just started reading this book and I find myself highlighting EVERYTHING.

As you probably saw, my 2015 goals were pretty lofty this year…but slowly and steadily I do feel that I’m making progress on them. And PROGRESS is what’s important. As we’ve just finished the first quarter of the year (what?!), I thought it good to do a check in on goals and how things are going so far.

 

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Meditation: I think I’m doing pretty good at this one! I’ve only missed a handful of days, mostly due to the rampant illnesses that seem to be plaguing our house, and I’ve consciously made an effort to never miss more than one day in a row. Sessions vary between 3 and 15 minutes depending on the day, and I do feel like I get more out of the practice if I do it for at least 10. Finding the time that works best has been tricky. When Chris is home, I try and do it first thing in the morning as a part of my morning routine. If he isn’t, I try and kind of do a ‘do over’ of my morning when Clare goes down for a nap. I find it’s a LOT harder if I save it to the evening. My brain is spent, and I am barely able to stay focused on a short one. Apps that I use are Calm, Buddify, Mindful and Headspace. Do you know of any other good meditation apps? Please share.

Five Minute Journal: I’ve also been really good about this one. I like that it includes gratitude, planning and reflecting on the day. I also try to always remember to write in my Mom’s One Line a Day Journal, but sometimes I find myself catching up on a couple days of that one.

Blogging: So far so good on the one post per week. I’ve only missed a week or two, and some weeks I included my post for Girls on the Grid in my count. Once per week is a much more doable goal than writing goals I’ve tried to make previously.

Recipes: We definitely haven’t really been trying out a new recipe per period. We have made a few things out of the baby led weaning cookbook. This green bean recipe is also awesome. And we’ve been making our own corn tortillas. Honestly between Chris’s schedule, Clare challenges and all of the sickness that has been plaguing us, food has dropped on the priority list. Cheese and crackers and hummus and bread have been regular meal staples for me. It’s bad. (Okay it could be a lot worse) But we’ve gotta get a bit better in this area.

Date Nights: This one has been a big fat fail. One of my best friends who was our neighbor and would sometimes watch Clare recently moved away. And when my parents have been up here, Chris has been gone or we’ve all been SICK. Have I mentioned we’ve all been sick?? So we just haven’t really made it happen. We did have a breakfast out at the end of March, but that’s about it. Here’s hoping in the later part of the year when my parents MOVE up here, we’ll get back on track with this one.

Read 25 Books – Totally on track. 6 down, 19 to go. Reviews of my first 4 here. Books and Podcasts are totally saving my sanity. (Though I am a bit ridiculous in that I am currently reading 5 books at once!)

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Learn to Sew a Quilt: Again, maybe this summer once my parents are up here, and I can plan on someone to watch Clare.

Podcast: This is going really well. Yesterday, episode 8 launched, and I’ve got some AWESOME guests lined up in the coming weeks. More at www.postpartumpodcast.com

Childbirth Educator Work: It’s SLOW going, but I’m starting to get on a better track. They re-did the program, and I like the new structure better, but it’s still very daunting the amount of work I need to get done. But, I do have a mentor, and some childbirth class observations lined up. I’ve joined a support group for other ICEA students in training on FB. Hopefully again, once my parents are here I can get into a more regular study routine, I can observe some births, and get on track to finish it all up in early 2016. I know that sounds so far away…but with the amount of work I need to get done, it sounds scary that it’s even that close.

Couch-to-5K: So I got about six weeks into the program. Now I think it’s an awesome program, and it made me not hate running, once they got to the part where you’re running straight for 20-25 minutes they lost me. But by running in intervals I ran the Girls on the Go 5k in 32 minutes at the end of March. Not too shabby for my first time running a 5K. And I’m going to chalk it up to, I can do running for cardio in a pinch, but it’s not really my ‘thing’. Zumba is. And I’m going to hopefully be teaching 3 zumba classes this summer! Hooray!

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In a perfect world, I’d dedicate several uninterrupted hours per week on my childbirth work and podcast and writing and working on a new project that I’m really excited about. But our world is far from perfect these days. So instead I’m having to make progress in the cracks and crevices of the days. On the fringe.   And that’s okay. Because Progress > Perfection. And DONE is > than perfection.

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My episode as a guest on the wonderful Sarah R. Bagley’s podcast today discusses just that! Please check it out, and the rest of her episodes. Her guests always resonate with me!

 

And remember:

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Book Reviews Jan/Feb 2015

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Instead of a massive Book Review post like I did at the end of 2014, I’m going to try and do them every few months instead. Here are the four books I read in January and February and corresponding reviews. Please, if you are a fellow book lover, add me on Goodreads!

I am always looking for new books to read, and it always causes me a little bit of anxiety when it comes time to pick the next one to read, because there are just so many good ones! I have over 150 on my Goodreads “To Read” list. Yikes.

January/February 2015 Books:

Birth Matters: A Midwife’s Manifesta By Ina May Gaskin – This is Ina May’s most recent book, and it really is different than her Guide to Childbirth or other books. It’s more a call to action of what we need to do to change our maternity care system. I found myself getting simultaneously angry and feeling empowered by it. Some of the ludicrous policies and procedures in our healthcare and insurance systems still boggle my mind. While talking about elective surgery, it doesn’t only discuss elective c-sections, but also breast enlargement and reduction and the dangers. I always joked that when I was done having kids that I would get a reduction, but this definitely opened my eyes to the dangers of those procedures.

The Girl on the Train: A Novel By Paula Hawkins – Look at me, reading Fiction! This was a great novel. I heard it described as Gone Girl crossed with Rear Window and that’s definitely an accurate representation of it. This was a debut novel for Hawkins and she’s a great author. I would definitely read more by her. Being that Chris drives trains, the whole concept of someone seeing something from a train window that drastically alters things really resonated with me. Because who hasn’t wondered about the families living in the houses that you see the back of while passing on a train. Definitely recommend!

Big Little Lies By Liane Moriarty – I really like Moriarty’s style. This is her most recent novel, though she has several. Her writing is ever readable and yet descriptive and you really feel entwined with the character’s lives. This one is told from the viewpoints of three different women and how their lives intersect. I guess I’d call it a contemporary mystery? It’s not a “who done it” but full of twists. Just like the Husband’s Secret.

The Husband’s Secret By Liane Moriarty – After I read Big Little Lies, I decided to tackle her book from last year which I already had on my kindle but had never gotten around to reading. I have heard mixed reviews on this one, but I personally liked it. Sure, there were things that the characters did that may not have been believable. And I especially liked the epilogue because I’m always a fan of the idea that everything happens for a reason, and thinking about paths that “could have been.”

I am currently reading: The Secrets of Midwives, The Joy of Less, and Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers. I tend to always have one going on kindle (on my phone so I can read while rocking Clare to sleep) one in hard copy and one on audio. I have a problem, I know.

What are you reading? Please share your recommendations!