Friday, July 02, 2010

Rainy Day Updates

This has been a busy week. I'm feeling a little short on brainpower this afternoon, so I'll just outline it all boring-like.

Saturday - We rearranged the girls' room. I loved the way the girls' room was arranged before, and I'm really trying to buck up and deal with the fact that they want to change it and it's their room, so the arrangement that makes them happy is going to be more important than me thinking it looks good. We got all the big stuff where we wanted it, including leaving a space for a new desk, and left piles of their crap all over the hallway. And went to bed.

Sunday - Escape to visit friends. Yay!

Monday - IKEA in the morning for the desk, and then met with friends at the park; they came to our house afterwards and left around 8:30pm. Nothing of any consequence was accomplished.

Tuesday - Pacific Science Center! Yay! We'd already been to the Circus exhibit, but got to spend more time with it this time. The girls both waited an excruciatingly long time in line to use the trapeze bungee thing. BittyPrincess *just barely* weighed enough to use it, but managed to bounce herself around pretty well. Girliness outdid everyone else there, pulling off at one point 8 forward flips in a row. It was pretty awesome.

Wednesday - Nana day. We got home around 8pm and I did manage to assemble the desk for the girls' room before we went to bed, so there was some headway made on the mess.

Thursday - Friends over. We also chose this day to sort through all the girls' clothing, getting rid of or packing away outgrown items and pulling stuff from storage that would fit BittyPrincess. This was actually a BIG SUCCESS, which is a little surprising given the level of chaos in the house with 3 extra kids running around. The 10yo girls had established a mint - yes, they printed money - and then had the other kids turn in stuffed animals and puppets for money. By the end of the afternoon the artificial economy was thriving.

Friday - Well, that would be today, wouldn't it? The weather STINKS. We went to the library and got the kids signed up for the summer reading incentive program. We went to Goodwill and got a desk chair for the girls. We went to the transfer station and threw all our glass recycling into the bins. And we went to Costco, where (you know it) we spent an appalling amount of money on food - I suppose since we almost never throw any food out, though, it's not like it's wasted. It just hurts to fork over that much in one go.

In the in-between: A million and a half nursing sessions. Feeding the kids, and then doing it again. Minor-league cleaning and laundry. All that fluff-and-nonsense that takes up 80% of the day.

Our week has felt really busy and really satisfying.

I also read Mixed Blood: A Thriller by Roger Smith. I'm still sorting through whether I liked it or not. I enjoyed the writing. The characters were interesting and complex. This book got pretty incredible reviews, but I found I was quite able to put it down at any point, which makes it not such a compelling read as a thriller. What I found interesting was that it wasn't formulaic at all. I'm usually a happy-endings type of reader, but was satisfied with the not-entirely-happy-for-everyone ending here. If you like these kinds of slightly-gritty novels that do have an element of suspense - albeit one that is (surprisingly satisfyingly) not played up too much - you'll like this book.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Drive and Kite Runner

I was going to pack up the kids and go to the farmers' market in Tacoma today, but alas, the day semi-dawned crappy and we're staying home.

Just three posts in and I'm already running out of steam on this book thing, because I don't really want to write comprehensive reviews, I just want to like-it-or-not-and-why and get back in the habit of posting things every now and again. But halfway through this week I've finished a couple of books already so I thought I'd better buck up and post about them.

So...Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink is a work of non-fiction. I try to throw a few non-fiction books into the mix from time to time, even though I'm usually less than enthusiastic about them. The premise of the book is that reward/penalty systems don't work; that they, in fact, screw everything up. This is supposedly a whole new approach to motivating people, but it's essentially something any parent could have told you - if you pay a kid for something once, they will expect to be paid from there on out. The book gives a shout-out to the interest-based way we school, but is primarily about motivating employees with a little bit of aside for self-motivation and kid-motivation. There are echoes of Alfie Kohn, the hero of wussy parents everywhere, for whom I harbor an irrational hatred mainly because his ideas make no practical sense. Drive spends all of 6 pages talking about how to avoid extinguishing kids' love of all things new and learn-y and yet manages to impart more actual attainable advice than Kohn puts out in several hundred pages of "whaaaa my parents sucked *hurt hurt*". People are born loving to learn for no other reason than that it is satisfying to learn. The really interesting thing about this book is how much research went behind proving that we don't stop loving to learn, we just get fucked up by the way parenting and schooling typically work. The other great thing about this book is that the author doesn't go as far as Kohn goes; he says that when something is boring and can't be made more interesting, it is appropriate to have a reward/punishment system. This TOTALLY makes sense to me, and it takes parents off of Kohn's overly permissive wishy-washy never-tell-your-kids-what-to-do (entirely impractical) hook. I got pretty caught up in how this book applies to parenting and schooling, but that wasn't the main focus of the book. Overall impression: if you manage people, even little obnoxious underaged ones, you should probably read this book.

Kite Runner by Khaled Husseini has been sitting on my bookshelf for at least three years. I don't really like reading deep real-life personal-memoir books, because my deep personal real life has enough deep personal thoughts already. About 80% of my reading is escapism and the other 20% is practical application. I can see how this is a good book and why this book had such a following when it was first written. The writing was good, the story felt very real, and I really have nothing negative to say about it except that I wasn't really excited about it. I much prefer A Thousand Splendid Suns, by the same author, because I connected better with that book. Overall impression: worth reading but not on the top of my list.

This week we did lots of things other than reading, so I'll have to post again.