I have a vivid memory of my first day of Kindergarten. We were all led into the classroom and instructed to find our name and sit down. Well, Jesus I nearly had a heart attack at the age of 5. I had no idea how to read my own name. I couldn’t read anything. I walked around pretending to read the name tags (apparently I was an early subscriber to the fake it til you make it philosophy) until my teacher finally pointed it out to me and I sat down with relief.
This memory is the driving force behind teaching Charlotte to read at an early age. And thankfully she is just dying to learn. Both John and I have been working on her letters at home and they’ve been working on letters at school too. It appears to be sinking in much faster than I expected. She recognizes her name immediately. She can read many of the letters and the names of the other children in her class (her teacher tells me she is advanced - shut up, yes I’m bragging).
The Endless ABC app is a perfect supplement for teaching her to read. John stumbled across it a few days ago. Highly recommend it.
A really long and difficult word will show up on the screen, then all the letters will move out around the word and it’s up the child to move the letters back to the correct spot. When she starts to drag the letter it makes the noise of the letter and once she gets it in the right spot it tells you what the letter is. The letters kind of dance around on the page too - it’s super cute. Once she is finished, they explain what the word means. We had to literally rip it out of her hands last night.
A Day Off
John and I were recently reminiscing about life before children.
Remember when we used to sit on the couch on a Saturday afternoon with absolutely nothing to do.
Oh, it’s hard to even imagine at this point.
So you know what I did last week? I gave myself the day off. No work. No children. And tried my very best not to feel guilty about it.
How did I spend my day off?
I started out doing a SoulCycle class. Not just any ol’ 45 minute SoulCycle class. It was a Turkey Burn - 90 minutes of hard core exercise. This was the day after a lot of wine was consumed so……Jen and I were not feeling our best. I spent the first 20 minutes wondering how I could escape and berating myself for signing up for this god forsaken class. But then something clicked and I pretty much loved the rest of class. Jen and I could see each other from our bikes so we made multiple oh my god I’m dying faces at each other.
We headed home and showered.
I sat on the couch and did some online window shopping of the Black Friday sales.
Then Jen and I headed over to Tarrytown for lunch at Seagrass. There was Mac & Cheese on the menu. It was an obvious choice for both of us. We earned those calories.
Then we stopped in at Flying Fingers knitting store. It is an adorable shop stocked from ceiling to floor with yarn. I sidled up to the owner and announced I’m a beginner - help! We decided on a hat, she got me sorted with needles and wool.
Next stop: Greenwich and the most adorable family-owned book store where Jen and I basically fought with each other about who would buy Charlotte the various books we picked out for her. We then wandered up Greenwich Avenue stopping in at a few shops. My town is so pretty and I love wandering up and down the high street.
We got home and I gave my au pair a couple of hours off because as much as I was enjoying my day off I missed my babies. So I hung out in the play room with Charlotte and Alex for the rest of the afternoon.
Finally we headed out for dinner at Le Penguin, a new-ish French restaurant in Greenwich. Loved it.
John had surgery this morning to remove the plate on his collar bone
John:: I got a bunch of stitches
Charlotte:: So I have to be very nice to you.
Iceland | November 2012
When I saw Danielle’s photos of Iceland back in 2012 I decided right then and there that I MUST visit Iceland one day.
I get a lot of blank looks when I tell people I’m going on vacation to Iceland. If you happen to be on tumblr, just type Iceland into the search bar and then you’ll understand why we are going. Seriously, do it. You will be astounded at its beauty.
Fast forward one year and we are ready to go!! Jen and I will be going for a long weekend in April. We discussed a tentative plan of what we want to see and then booked our hotel earlier this week (which we then shortened due to the amazing house below). Fingers crossed I see these adorable Icelandic horses.
If you have been to Iceland I would love any and all tips!
My FAVORITE BOOKS OF 2013
2013 was a time of great binge-watching and great binge-reading. Here are some of the books I couldn’t put down this year. All are highly recommended.
THE ONE THAT DESTROYED ME (IN A GOOD WAY)
Meet Reno, the most intriguing heroine of the year: she’s a motorcycle thrill seeker, an interloper in the downtown New York art scene of the mid-1970s, part-time model, a naive American who gets embroiled in radical Italian politics. She also has terrible taste in men. The Flamethrowers weaves together these interconnecting threads of Reno’s life, the excitement and glamour, but also Reno’s vulnerability, her abject unworldliness. Page by page, sentence by sentence, word by word, the best book of 2013.
TWO SHORT STORY COLLECTIONS YOU SHOULDN’T MISS
With all respect to George Saunders, Tenth of December doesn’t need a plug from me. Here are two collections from 2013 that didn’t get as much love as they should have. Let’s change that.
I’m gonna use the word “experimental” now. Shhh. Don’t be scared. Trust that I’m using the word to describe a style of writing that feels exciting and new and different, not pretentious or unnecessarily complicated. The linked stories in Spectacle feel like they’re breaking new ground even as they zero in on universal emotions.
I would like to live inside the title story in this collection, in which a dinner party gets all kinds of awkward. All of the stories in Bobcat contain worlds that feel perfectly self-contained and satisfying, and yet each and every one could be expanded into a novel that I would hungrily read.
MOST ANTI-YOLO NOVEL
Life After Life explores the biggest of Big Questions: What would you do if you could live your life over and over again until you get it right? What does “right” even mean? Does it mean avoiding heartache, defying death, meeting a soulmate, having a family? Maybe not! Probably not! It takes a writer of great vision and discipline to create a story that has so many disparate threads, but feels so compact and elegant. Get through the first 50 pages and you’ll be hooked—I promise.
MOST LITERARY TAKE ON DATING JERKS, BROOKLYN-STYLE
AKA The One That Hits Too Close To Home. Adelle Waldman’s title character is a nice, smart, sensitive writer-type who happens to have no emotional intelligence whatsoever. What happens when the kinda-nerdy guy your parents would positively adore turns out to be kinda a dick? The fact that Waldman can make Nate P.’s personal life both so relatable and so deplorable is a testament to her critical eye.
My resolution for 2013 was to savor more of what I read, rather than racing through in a panic to get to the next one. Necessary Errors was a novel that forced me to take it slow—to get caught up in all of the wonderfully imagined details of Caleb Crain’s debut about a recent college grad who travels to Prague in 1990, just as Czechoslovakia bid adieu to socialism. Hard not to see parallels between the nation’s attempt to find itself and a young man’s attempt to find himself, but the novel is so much bigger—world-expanding—than that.
From the very first pages of At Night We Walk in Circles, we know that something terrible is going to happen. We learn about a young, ambitious actor who tours through a nameless Latin American country with an experimental theater group, and we know that he meets some sort of tragic end. Despite the outcome, it’s a joy to take the journey with him, to ponder what it means to be a performer and what kinds of roles we play even when we aren’t on stage.
THE LITERARY THRILLER YOU SHOULD BE TALKING ABOUT
I argued that Cartwheel should be the new Gone Girl (I even used GIFs!) and I stand by it—if you’re looking for a totally addictive and thought-provoking thriller that’s both masterfully written and fun to read, look no further.
Read the first few pages of The Woman Upstairs and revel in the anger of Claire Messud’s protagonist, an elementary school teacher in her late 30s who is still waiting for her life to begin. Love her or think she’s lacking in likability, the woman upstairs vents a level of frustration with daily life with which I couldn’t help but sympathize, even as she grapples with the distinction between how much of life is real, as opposed to the stories we tell ourselves.
Most of the time when I read a mystery, I don’t really care too much about descriptions of where it’s set—I just want a fast-paced plot to push the narrative along. The Facades is the exception, a novel in which a decrepit Midwestern city is as much a moody, complicated character as it is the setting. When a beloved opera singer goes missing, her hapless husband attempts to track her down through the crumbling streets of Trude, a city that feels bizarre and surreal and also more than a little familiar.
BOOK I WISH I’D READ WHEN I WAS 20
OK, so the Literary Review’s Bad Sex Award of 2013 will be awarded within hours, and I happened to have fallen in love with one of the shortlist contestants. I am not ashamed. Don’t let the dubious nomination fool you—My Education is hot as hell 99% of the time. Susan Choi’s novel about the complicated love life of a graduate student details all the shit we have to learn about in life that doesn’t take place in a classroom or lecture hall.
Note: If you haven’t yet read The Secret History, you should probably do that before you read The Goldfinch. But if you already have, then call in sick to work and prepare to get swept away in a narrative that more than one critic has called “Dickensian.”
Thanks to Meaty I was the deranged lady on the subway who couldn’t stop giggling. Samantha Irby, of Bitches Gotta Eat fame, just keeps on telling it like it is, essay by essay, rapid-fire blogger-style. A joyous mixture of bad language, bad behavior, and bad relationships.
MOST HORRIFYING (AND FUNNY!) NONFICTION
I had to stop underlining the sentences in Going Clear that made me gasp in horror because I would’ve ended up underlining the whole book. Lawrence Wright’s clear-eyed, phenomenally researched takedown of Scientology is straight-up terrifying. And also undeniably funny. I made a list of some of the most astounding/awful/hilarious quotes from the book, presented by Wright with very little editorializing. The bat-shitness of the whole enterprise speaks for itself.
Adding every single one to my ‘must-read’ list!
Sisters / Best Friends
Me:: Charlotte, do you think Alex will be your best friend when you grow up?
Charlotte:: But Alex is already my best friend.