Friday, December 30, 2016

Eight Crazy Nights: Night 4, 5, and 6

It's not like a busy schedule has gotten in the way of my blog.  It's the opposite, really.  I have nothing on my agenda, so I am doing NOTHING. I sort of like it, but doing nothing makes me really stressed, which is why I can't have fun like a normal person.

But!  Fun is exactly what we have been having.

Tuesday (Hanukkah night 4), we saw Sing, and it is ADORABLE.  Also our theater now serves pizza, so we could just order one when we got our other snacks, and it was hot and ready at our seats by the time the previews were over.  Total win.

The kids LOVED it.

 And we have been listening to the soundtrack nonstop in the car-- it's infectious in a good way, which is not something I say very often about the kids.

Next up was a totally wholesome trip to the library for a late night story time.  the 3 little kids dropped off stuffed animals for a sleepover.  Harry was too cool for that, but he did participate in the story time songs and dances, which was awesome.

 The next morning, he also made ridiculous chocolate milks for himself and Cooper.
 I took Jack shopping with me for the turkey tetrazzini the kids wanted for dinner, and his Cooper-induced head injury was shocking in the deli's harsh light (Cooper threw a Nintendo DS at Jack's head, and we actually sent Jack to his room for screaming at us until we noticed he was bleeding from the temple.  Oopsie).
 Then it was back to the library to pick up our animals, see a slideshow of their hijinks, and watch Finding Dory (even better the second time).

 It was way cozier and more pleasant to lie on the floor of the library community room with a bunch of strangers than I thought it was going to be,
 And I got to practice my Dutch braid skillz.
 The kids used some Christmas ice cream gift cards after
 And then they all opened board games for the 5th night of Hanukkah.
 And we played them until Dorothy kept ruining Yeti in my Spaghetti on purpose and we had to stop.

 But Jack and I played more after the little kids went to bed and Ben took Harry to urgent care for what we thought was extreme overreaction but turned out to be a double ear infection, the worst one the doc on call had ever seen.  Oopsie again.
 Um.  That's from story time.  No idea why it slipped in so late.  Also, Cooper is 100% duck face in every picture lately.
 Yesterday, Cooper and Dorothy spent a couple of Toys R Us gift cards
 And we went to Chuck E. Cheese for Hanukkah night 6.
 Cooper is having his third fountain drink of the week because MOTY.
 Everybody loves ski ball.
 Dorothy dressed herself and did her own hair CAN YOU TELL?
 He parlayed his tickets into 27 Tootsie Rolls.  That he ate in one sitting.  #MOTY again.
 This game!  It's Cards Against Humanity for kids, and it's HILARIOUS.  I thought Jack was going to actually die laughing and he and Ben played almost the same cards every round.  It was uncanny.  Also, Harry has a way more sophisticated and subversive sense of humor than I realized.  Seriously, GET THIS GAME.

What I Read: Top 10 of 2016

2016 sucked in a lot of ways, but my reading list didn't take a hit.

You can, of course, check out my previous years in review for comparison:  2013, 2014, and 2015.

I read 117 books this year, not as much as last year's 135, and you know what?  I wouldn't have even made it that high were it not for audio books.  No audiobook made my list, though, except for parts of some of the Ferrante books.  This is not a fault of the medium, but it does have to do with the library service I use-- it is SO HARD to get new books.

Ok.  So.  The TOP TEN ( there are actually more than 10 books on this list, so sue me).  And!  These are all books from 2016 (or, if we are talking about two books or even 4 books in a series-- shut up, I told you were were dealing with more than 10 books here-- then the LAST BOOK was published this (terrible, terrible) year or at the very end of 2015-- see?  Everything I say is a LIE, but that's because we live in a POST TRUTH WORLD).

10.  Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee and Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye:  Ok, so, these books have NOTHING to do with each other except that they are period novels with amazingly badass women lead characters and lots of gore.  More than that, they both create complete, perfect other worlds for readers, and this is something I really, really, really love.  I couldn't decide which one I liked better, so they tie for 10th.

9.  End of Watch by Stephen King:  I love this book as the last one in the Bill Hodges trilogy, and you should go ahead and read the other 2, although this one is the best.  It's everything King does well, the plotting, the characters, the dialogue.  His leading men have gotten SO MUCH BETTER as he has gotten older, and Bill Hodges is my very favorite King character, which is saying a lot because I have been with King since the Carrie days when I started reading him in 5th grade and loved almost every book since, minus The Tommyknockers.

8.  You/Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes:  These are both so good and so, so, so creepy.  I think there are going to be more?  I mean, I hope no more murders in soundproof chambers because HOW OFTEN DO THOSE COME ALONG? But more books about my favorite psychopath.

7.  Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue: This story of immigrants is even more poignant in the face of Muslim registries and walls and the politics of hate.  Read it and weep.  Literally.

6.  Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond:  Another book made more tragic by Trump's goon squad.  This book is brilliant, and so is its author-- a fascinating and important read about poverty and policy and humanity.

5.  Commonwealth by Ann Patchett:  Reading a new Patchett novel is a singular pleasure, and this one does not disappoint.  I loved it and was hooked from the very first paragraph.

4.  Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan Quartet:  My Brilliant Friend came out in 2012.  Next came The Story of a New Name in 2013, followed by Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay in 2014 and 2015's The Story of the Lost Child.  I almost didn't include these books on my list because they are not 2016 books, but I spent a huge part of my 2016 reading or listening to them, and they're really good, so here they are.  Indulge yourself with them in 2017 and STOP WATCHING THE NEWS.  Also, HRC read them, making them awesomer.

3.  When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi:  I mean.  This book.  READ IT.

2.  A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara:  Gah.  I can cry just thinking about this book-- which, you should know, has been roundly trounced by critics and by own smart friends.  There.  I warned you.

1.  Everybody's Fool by Richard Russo:  Everything I like about every Russo book in one.  It's no Straight Man (my favorite book ever written ever), but it's pretty darn close.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Eight Crazy Nights: Night 3

To celebrate night 3 of Hanukkah, we took the kids to Build a Bear.  But only Dorothy and Jack wanted to actually go to Build a Bear, so Ben took Harry and Jack to a mall toy store where they bought football and pac man games respectively, and the rest of us built bears (Dorothy) and purchased accessories for existing bears (Jack).  I took no pictures because my half of the experience was an expensive line-standing exercise in frustration.  But the kids really liked it.  Also, I have PMS, if you couldn't tell.

Dorothy asked for my help giving all of her American Girl dolls a change of clothes, and it was just about the funnest thing I did yesterday.  We couldn't change Lanie, the girl in the muumuu and mismatched flats because Dorothy says she needs to wear that outfit until Valentine's Day, so there. Also we searched the whole house for Julie who is not pictured (FOUND HER) and Ashlyn, the Wellie Wisher that Santa brought for Dorothy changed her clothes on Christmas morning and already looked perfect.  I HAVE BEEN WAITING YEARS FOR THIS.

 BEATRIX!  Finally go brave enough to try her new bed.  And she looooooves it.
 After we put the little kids to bed last night, Ben and I played Risk with Harry-- it was amazing, and now I kind of want to play right now, but with all the little pieces and all the little screamy people, that's probably not going to happen. Still. sometime soon, world domination will be mine.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Eight Crazy Nights: Night 2

 Ok, first of all, Santa had no idea that the above castle was Jack-sized.  He thought it was more like THE SIZE OF THE BOX and when Jack pulled it out of the box in a billion pieces today, Santa was seriously bummed because he totes would have spent some kid-free time putting it together one night last week instead of doing it in a gift-strewn room with a ton of little people screaming at him.

But I am getting ahead of myself.

Let's go back to yesterday when Toofy our Elf dropped off a pajamagram on his way back to the NP.  Cooper gave the whole scenario a serious side eye.
 Harry loved his jams, mainly because he picked them out at Target now that he knows we're Santa.
 Then we headed to Ben's parents house for snacks, pictures and presents.

 And then we went to Ben's grandma's house for more of the same.
 Plus people Dorothy's age to play games with
 And also cake.
 We didn't get home until 11, and the kids were super super super late to bed-- the babies didn't even care about milk and cookies for Santa and no one wanted to read the Night Before Christmas.  Ben and I were up after 1 stuffing stockings and exchanging our own gifts. So!  We told everyone they had to wait until 7 to get up, and Santa delivered stockings to their bedrooms to buy us extra sleepy time, which was GENIUS.
 Also genius, sneaking Hillary Clinton in with the other stocking stuffer dollies and taking all the crap out of its package so it could be played with right away.
 Present-opening was fun, as usual.

 Harry has really wanted a phone, and we have been telling him he was getting a flip phone or a Galaxy.  But he was sure we might give him an iPhone 4 or something like that. He told me the other day he planned to open the phone-shaped box first, so OF COURSE I wrapped it inside a Zappos box.
 He was beyond delighted to find an iPhone6s, meaning he has a nicer phone than I do.
 THIS IS MY DAD'S SCREEN SAVER.  I just can't even.
 Ben spent the rest of his day assembling large toys and wondering where the hell we're going to put them.
 Everyone was stoked to light the menorah
 And play Giggle Wiggle, which Dorothy said was way creepier than the commercial.
 Before the chaos this morning.
 A few new friends!  The first thing she did was rip off Samantha's pretty pink dress and stick her in a skanky ice skating dress because three-year-olds.
 Harry read them the Night Before Christmas tonight because they remembered missing it yesterday.
 And Beatrix!  Is happily sleeping on Jack's sweatshirt
 Because she's scared of her new bed.  Dogs, man,