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- I got actually, officially, medically diagnosed with ADHD-Inattentive Type, which in retrospect is so obvious I keep being amazed no one thought of it years ago. Indeed, it's been sort of comforting to realize how many weird and/or stupid things I do are actually extremely common among women with ADD. I have noticed I've been a lot less depressed this year, too, and I suspect a lot of it is that the voices in my head who used to put me down all the time, "You never learn from your mistakes, you're a wash-up, how can you be so smart and fail so bad at life?"-- well, now there's a voice going, "oh, that's totally ADHD, there. You know what you're doing."
- I took the plunge and did Weight Watchers, and annoyingly enough I totally felt better. Turns out this may only partially have to do with the loss of excess weight, but as an added bonus, cutting simple carbs back is, it turns out, really important for making an ADHD brain work better, too. So I'm not on Weight Watchers anymore, but I've been trying to keep in mind many of the things I learned through the experience. Also I lost about 35 pounds.
- ...which has its drawbacks. Apparently being overweight and then suddenly losing a lot of weight can make ones gallbladder FREAK OUT. So round about June I got violently ill and it turned out to be a wonky gallbladder. So in July I had surgery-- my first major surgery ever-- to get the nasty thing removed. The doctors messed up my expectations by calling the outpatient procedure a "band-aid surgery," because it then took a lot longer for me to recover than I expected it to. Like, a month. At least. But by now, I am indeed feeling much better all around. Thank you for leaving, gallbladder.
- In September the kids and I went to see Dav Pilkey at the Carnegie Library, which is officially the first time I've ever met one of my "celebrity" crushes in person, and got to shake his hand. He was so sweet and awesome, and is also a huge spokesperson for ADHD so the year has a theme, here.
- In the fall we made a new furry friend. A Neighborhood Cat, who we took to calling Marshmallow, adopted us. We are at this point 99.9% sure that Marshmallow has an actual home with someone else in the neighborhood, but when she goes out roaming, it's us she visits right away. After I wrote this follow-up piece, mourning that we hadn't seen her for a month, she showed up again! Looking even fatter and healthier than usual, so, yeah, definitely not a stray.
Hi, I'm all drugged up and still really sore but all went well and I'm home in bed with a much healthier digestive system. pic.twitter.com/1wF80beg6q— Amy W (@rockinlibrarian) July 14, 2017
Guess who came back for a visit!! pic.twitter.com/1x1OY7iTCG— Amy W (@rockinlibrarian) December 1, 2017
- Messy Art: I made this the last Family Night of Spring, in late May when it was not likely to be raining, because we HAD to do it outside. We had Alka-Seltzer paint bombs, watercolor-filled squirt gun target practice, turkey baster Jackson-Pollock-esque painting, and the cross between the three that happens when small children get paint everywhere and just try to take advantage of it. To make the evening even more nuts, about three times my usual crowd turned up for it. It was chaos, and it was fun. I read Edward Gets Messy by Rita "Screwy Decimal" Meade, and probably something else but I can't remember what.
- Visual Music: More controlled, indoor fun with paint. I made a playlist of a variety of instrumental pieces-- one of the moms there knew all of them except my cousin Ian's acid-rock guitar ramble, which I would have been super impressed if she did-- there was John Williams, Scott Joplin, the Beatles and Pink Floyd, Mozart and some Romantic-era composer I can't remember now because it was kind of boring but made for variety. Anyway, I put it on and we painted to it and it was a delight. I read The Noisy Paintbox, which I loved, see review below, and also probably something else I can't remember. Oh, Say Zoop! by Herve Tullet. That was fun.
- Underpants: I was kind of excited about our Dav Pilkey visit (see above), so I threw this topic in, even though I didn't actually read any Captain Underpants. We read Creepy Pair of Underwear! by Aaron Reynolds-- which to be honest, actually is pretty creepy-- and The Underwear Book by Todd Parr, which is always a hit at Outreach. Our project was simple-- they just designed a pair of underwear on a plain line drawing of a pair-- but they were so pleased with it, they unanimously demanded I display their designs on the front desk. So I did, to the additional delight of everyone who came up to the desk for the next couple of weeks. That little program brought a lot of smiles!
- Solar Power: It was the Build a Better World Collaborative Summer Reading Theme and a couple weeks before the solar eclipse, so here we go. I read Sun Bread by Elisa Kleven and The Day My Dogs Became Guys by Merrill Markoe (which is about the WEIRD POWERS of a solar eclipse). I had built some pizza box solar ovens, but it was too cloudy for them to work, but luckily that's why I'd decided to make s'mores in them-- so the results were still edible. There WAS just the right amount of sun for photo-sensitive paper art with found objects, though, and the gasps when we rinsed the paper in cold water were totally worth the failed solar ovens.
- See The World: I set up stations around the room for each continent (actually I split Asia into West and East and combined Australia/Oceania and Antarctica into one), with books and flags for each. I WAS going to set up a laptop at each station with bookmarks on various interesting sites on Google Streetview, but it turned out most of the library's laptop collection had vanished. So I had to improvise: West and East Asia had to share a computer after all, and I used my Nook and the library's iPad, but the latter two were annoying because it turns out the mobile versions of Google Maps don't HAVE Streetview, so I kept having to "request desktop site." BUT I saw so many awesome places on Streetview while prepping for this program that I wrote this article. I can't remotely remember what I read for it, though.
- 50 Cities of the U.S.A, by Gabrielle Balkan: This is more of a thin coffee table book than a proper picture book, to be honest, but it's so awesome I have to put it here. Two different GeekMoms had reviewed it favorably, and I saw it had Pittsburgh and I'm always looking for more local history for the library's children's collection, so I put it on the library's Amazon wishlist. Yes, I gave the library its own Amazon wishlist. A few weeks ago I looked at the list and noticed the book had gone on deep discount, like 5 dollars (while MSRP is 30?), and I have Prime, so I was like, hey, Merry Christmas, library, I'm getting this for you. When it came I turned right to the Pittsburgh page so I could give it a knowledgeable evaluation, and was totally impressed at the variety of cool trivia they included. I especially loved how, for each city, they also spotlighted several contemporary children's authors (not even superstar names!) from the area. For Pittsburgh they picked Megan McDonald ("got her start at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh" AHEM she spent most of her library career at Adams Memorial in Latrobe, thanks!) and Sharon G. Flake!
- The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse, by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen. What, I can't possibly put one of these lists together without it including at LEAST one Barnett and/or Klassen, and this year gave me two. I will rank this one first because I can really see reading it at a story time, once I find a good excuse to.
- Triangle: As much as I adore Mac Barnett, I have to admit Klassen's brilliance impresses me the most. The things he can do with simple eye position! Mac's work is a little more the highlight of the first book, but Jon's work is definitely the highlight of this one. I'm apparently on first name bases with them now.
- Hilda and the Runaway Baby, by Daisy Hirst: In the "notes" column of my possible-books-to-get list spreadsheet I just wrote "the pictures are hilarious." Indeed, when this eventually came through Junior Library Guild, I just sat there beaming at each page. It's not so much laugh-out-loud funny as just delightful-funny.
- Accident! by Andrea Tsurumi: I already know I do not yet appreciate this book enough. These pictures require extended study, which I have not partaken of yet. But already it's fun and everyone wants to go to the library in it, so good.
- A Face Like Glass, Frances Hardinge: Technically this book came out something like five years ago in the UK, but only made it across the pond this year, and it's just so...creative? I'm not sure of a better word to describe reading Frances Hardinge. She's a word-weaver, threading her books with magic like the craftspeople in this book thread magic into their wares. This is the only book in this list I did not get out to read to my kids-- it's just good enough to motivate me to read it anyway. When I was writing it up for GeekMom, one of the GeekDads spotted the cover in the image library and started freaking out with excitement that someone else was reading it!
- Princess Cora and the Crocodile, by Laura Amy Schlitz: (That's a Betsy Bird review there. It was just one of the first results of the search, and I was probably highly influenced by this review when I put it on the library's to-buy list, so hey, it'll be my link)...But it had actually been in the library several months before I was like, "Oh wait, that's a perfect Maddie book [humorous fantasy, strong-willed princess, third-grade reading level], I need to bring it home." Then we fought over who actually got to read it first.
- Real Friends, by Shannon Hale: I love Shannon Hale so stupid much. Anyway, this book I actually bought for us at home, because it pretty much WAS written for Maddie right where she was-- a graphic "novel" (actually memoir) about the ups-and-downs of elementary school friendship? So Maddie. And so everyone else who remembers how traumatic the elementary school social scene actually was.
- The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart, by Stephanie Burgis: I confess I bought this for the library just because it sounded perfect for our family read-alouds, though it's more in the style of the books we were reading earlier in the year than when we finally got around to it after Series of Unfortunate Events (see below). Still, middle grade fantasy about CHOCOLATE. It was hard not to crave chocolate while reading this.
- Funny Girl: Funniest. Stories. Ever., edited by Betsy Bird, speaking of me being highly influenced by her literary opinions. She called together a diverse group of truly funny women (the aforementioned Shannon Hale? My Imaginary-big-sister Libba Bray? The mentioned-right-after-this Ursula Vernon?) to contribute to this book. Being an anthology of this nature, the results are mixed, but there are definitely some pretty hilarious stories in here, and the bests were actually from women I knew very little of. As I mentioned in this Between the Bookends review, which also includes more about Real Friends, the funniest story is "Dear Grandpa: Give Me Money,” by Allison DeCamp, but the all around best story is Carmen Agra Deedy’s “One Hot Mess” —which stuck with me so much I watched a TED talk by her the other day. Turns out she's a professional storyteller. Obviously.
Top 5 Older-than-2017 Picture Books I Read For the First Time:
- Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellis: I was a guest reader for Maddie's second grade classroom and wanted to do a "lesson" on how reading pictures was just as important (if not more so) to reading a picture book as reading the words is, so I brought in one of my favorites from last year, They All Saw a Cat, and then I thought of this one we had just gotten, and this one turned out to be the favorite. I asked the class if any of them knew how to speak bug, and insisted that by the end of the book they'd be able to, and they dove in to decoding bug language with relish. It ended up becoming Maddie's teacher's new favorite book, too!
- The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art, by Barb Rosenstock: I got the idea for the Visual Music Family Night (see above) without having any particular read-alouds in mind, but this picture book biography of an artist with synesthesia seemed perfect, subject-wise. So I read it and, word-wise, fell in love. It's a perfect length for a read-aloud (not always easy to do with biographies), and I kept thinking, "I would have understood abstract art SO MUCH BETTER if I had had this book as a child." Indeed, synesthesia makes abstract art make more sense, and this picture book makes synesthesia make sense, and it's all a lovely tribute to art in any form.
- We Are Growing, by Laurie Keller: I wanted to do a mock Geisel in addition to a mock Caldecott this year, so I pulled out all the 2016 easy readers, and this one made me laugh so much I might have biased our results with my enthusiasm when the group showed up and I was all, "Listen to this one!" So when the votes were totaled, this was our clear winner, but that was all right, because when the actual Geisel committee's votes were totaled this was their clear winner as well, so I guess our taste is pretty good.
- Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, by Javaka Steptoe: Speaking of Youth Media Award Medalists and of picture book biographies of artists I'd never heard of, it took me a long time to overcome my doubts and give this one a try. I didn't bother ordering it all last year even though it kept getting rave reviews, because bio of a little-known artist? Who's going to check that out? Then it won the Caldecott so I figured I'd better get it, but I still never bothered to open it up until I did a "Family Night At the Museum" Family Night this fall, and-- well, it didn't win the Caldecott for nothing. My jaw literally dropped several times at the gorgeousness of these illustrations. And it's also a picture book biography that's a decent length and flow for a read-aloud, so yay!
- Katie Meets the Impressionists, by James Mayhew: This is a book that was made for child-me. Impressionism has always been my favorite visual art style, and this is a story about a girl who walks into great Impressionistic paintings and explores them, so like gah, that is Amy's dream. It's another one I only bothered to pick up while prepping "Family Night at the Museum," and was so glad I had.
- The Inquisitor's Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog, by Adam Gidwitz: I'm pretty sure Adam Gidwitz is a kindred spirit and am mildly disappointed we're both married. Gotta love me a folklore geek with a sense of humor. I also wrote up this one for Between the Bookends on GeekMom, too.
- The Girl Who Drank the Moon, by Kelly Barnhill: As did I with this one. It really makes me feel like I need to write less here. Sorry about that. Go, click on my longer reviews and read them.
- Island of the Aunts, by Eva Ibbotson: While trying to tide my kids over on humorous British fantasy after I insisted they weren't yet ready for Goblet of Fire (see below), I pulled out my copy of The Secret of Platform 13, which incidentally also has Island of the Aunts in the flip side, two books in one. So we read the first, and then I keep squinting at the second: you know, I've seen this around for forever, obviously, but why do I get the feeling I've never actually read it? Indeed, we started that one next, and I hadn't read it before. But I loved it. And dang, she's funny, and English wasn't even her native language.
- The Girl Who Could Not Dream, by Sarah Beth Durst: Also, already reviewed for Between the Bookends. Sophie (the GeekMom in charge of Between the Bookends, not the main character of this book, although they are both named Sophie) wrote it up in the post summary using the term "the dream economy" and I'm just kind of taken by it. It feels like it must really exist somehow, with a name like that. The Dream Economy.
- So You Want to Be a Jedi? by Adam Gidwitz, again: There's another Between the Bookends review in the same link as the Face Like Glass note above. But seriously, Adam, buddy, fellow student of Joseph Campbell, we really gotta talk shop, here. Turn one of my favorite movies into a second-person monk-training manual and, well, you have made me your best friend forever. So nerdy. So much fun.
- Yes, I have finally introduced the kids to Harry Potter this year and now I have fellow fans. (Oh, and the kids and I are all Hufflepuffs, or more accurately Sam and I are Huffleclaw and Maddie is Huffledor, so the Sorting Hat might have debated a bit. Jason's just straight up Gryffindor, no question). Just the first three books, as they still weren't ready for the end of Goblet of Fire (as it was Chamber of Secrets thoroughly freaked Maddie out). Since then we've read some pretty intense books so they might be ready now, but then they'll want to rush straight through to the end once we pick it up again, and I don't know, then it will be over... but I just have so much I want to share with them in Order of the Phoenix!
- A Series of Unfortunate Events was our major read of the year, being that it's thirteen books long. That took us from the end of June to sometime in November, actually. That was an example of some pretty intense content, even though it's presented so tongue-in-cheek. But rereading gave me new appreciation of the cleverness and the ways clues were woven in. Look, I kept forgetting the kids wouldn't learn who Beatrice actually was until the last word of the last book, because my whole understanding of the series was shaped by my knowing that fact now, and I had to stop myself from letting it slip a few times.
- Alice's Adventures In Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass: Maddie's a fan of Ever After High, and her favorite character is, naturally, Madeleine Hatter. And Sam's definitely clever enough to get most of the wordplay. So I was like, GOOD, you guys are finally ready for one of my favorite books ever. And indeed? That is just a really friggin' good book(s), and it's even more fun to read out loud (I had read it out loud to my brother decades ago so that wasn't entirely a new experience); and it's just SO NICE to be able to make references to it and have them know what I'm talking about.
- Speaking of which, that's why I decided to read them Holes. Sam was complaining something was too hard because he wasn't strong enough, and I shot back, "Then you just need to practice, like carrying a pig up the mountain," and then I was like, whoa, you don't get that reference, but you totally will now let's read this! I realized it had both the complicated mystery-building and over-the-top tongue-in-cheek unfortunateness of Series of Unfortunate Events so they'd probably like it, and indeed, they loved it. And I again got to read what is probably a perfect book, so hey. It also contains one of the Other Fictional Sams I Love, though granted one that dies quickly and violently. Oh, we also got to discuss the history of race relations, so, yay?
- The Polar Express: It's a Christmas classic, yes? But I'd never got into it much. But I'd somehow run short on Christmas outreach books the other week, and I was bringing this one class a bag of books about trains, and we have three copies of this in the main library proper, so I was like, what the heck, I'll throw that in. But I totally had my doubts, because it's long, and these were four-year-olds, but what the heck. I started to read, and THEY. WERE. MESMERIZED. No other way to describe it. If somebody had rung any jingle bells in that room at that moment, everyone's hair would have stood on end. So, okay, I get the Christmas classic thing, now.
- Legion: Holy cow. Combine an X-Men storyline with Noah Hawley's storytelling chops and how can you make a show any more up my alley? You make it friggin' psychedelic. It's number one on the list even though there were times I wasn't even sure I really liked it-- I just loved it-- which is something psychedelia does, makes occasionally unpleasant experiences awesome. Ahem. And the characters are all so great. It's so. weird. and I know that makes it therefore not for everybody, but I WANT everybody to see it anyway just so I can talk about it.
- Edgar Allan Poe’s Murder Mystery Dinner Party: This was a small webseries-- basically a feature-length film broken into twelve episodes that I referred to above-- that was strongly influenced by the Clue Movie in all the best ways. It's a mystery-farce starring a variety of famous 19th-century...ish authors (the anachronisms are part of the fun), it's utterly ridiculous, and for some reason I felt the need to watch it over and over and over. I even rented it through their site (I mean, it's free on YouTube) so I could watch it with commentary (and yes, support their good work monetarily in retrospect because they're awesome). And I'm kind of addicted to the music. I want everyone to watch this, too, just so we can quote it to each other. The team behind it just released a new mini-movie--a mocku-noir this time-- but I haven't watched it yet for fear it will mess up my carefully curated end of the year list here.
- Agents of SHIELD: Still my favorite currently-running TV show-- we're only five episodes in to Season 5 and I only LOVED the most recent one (which may say something about the necessity of Fitz?), but the back half of Season 4, in the first part of the year, was some of the finest TV I've ever seen, thanks. It continued to upend expectations and show off fantastically scene-stealing villains (Mallory Jenson where's your Emmy dangit) while growing the characters we already loved. Why is it not universally hailed as the best not-cancelled comic book show on TV? Oh yeah, because Legion exists. But besides that.
- Moana: Great, another future classic Disney movie. I just genuinely enjoyed it, though, even on rewatches (THAT STUPID CHICKEN cracks me up so hard). And that dang crab makes me go to my kids, "Look, this show is rated TV-MA and there's no way I'm letting you watch the rest of it but YOU SHOULD WATCH the first scene of Legion episode 4 because that crab is playing the BEST CHARACTER" and perhaps lucky for them Legion isn't on demand anymore, darnit, you see what I mean about me and Legion, anyway. And for some reason I was super-attuned to all the mythological tropes while watching and that made it even more fun because I'm a dork that way, or more likely because I was watching "Crash Course Mythology" and they even did a whole episode on Maui soon after I saw the movie, you're welcome. OH WAIT I FORGOT: ---4a. Crash Course World Mythology: I've seen individual Crash Course videos before, but I'm such a Comparative Mythology junkie that I've been outright following this one. If I was going to be an academic I'd do Comparative Mythology. Where's the current writing on that, anyway? I know Joseph Campbell isn't considered completely "correct" by current academics but is anyone supplanting him? Besides Adam Gidwitz (see above), I mean an Academic. I WANT TO READ COMPARATIVE MYTHOLOGY THEORIES LIKE A DORK.
- The Defenders: We got Netflix back this fall, and rather than try to watch all the Marvel shows Netflix had put out in that time, particularly since the reviews were mixed, I figured I'd catch up with them all at once just by watching this one. And indeed, I enjoyed it so much that now I'm going to have to go back and watch some of the individual shows anyway. At least Jessica Jones because I love her. And probably Daredevil if only because Matt Murdock is super-cute. Which is totally creepy for me to say because J's super-paranoid Survivalist buddy goes by the name "Matt Murdock" online, and I'm absolutely not by any means talking about him.
- Doctor Strange: The extent of my review to Jason after we watched this: "I liked it, it's trippy" (See review of Legion, above).
- Lego Batman: Pretty sure this was the first (and so far only) movie we all four together went to see at the theater as a family. And we all four enjoyed it lots, too.
- A Series of Unfortunate Events, Netflix Series Version: See book rereads section, above. We saw the first one or two episodes at my parents' house, then after we got Netflix, catching up was the first thing we did. I can't wait to see how season 2 goes and where the background stories go from here. (Is Jacqueline Snicket a cross between Jacques and Kit or is Kit yet to appear as well? How long will the show draw out the full nature of Beatrice's identity?) It might have gone higher on this list but the theme song really bugs me. Sorry, Neil Patrick Harris.
- Sherlock: This might also be higher on the list if I didn't rather hate the first episode of the season. Well, "hate" is a strong word, but I just didn't ENJOY it like I have pretty much every other episode, even the not-so-good ones. It depressed me. But that's counteracted by the second episode being absolutely fabulous, by which I mean Martin was so fabulous I spent the next week like, "Yep, that's MY Imaginary Husband, he's awesome." And the third episode was equivalent of watching any other episode of the show, so the grand average works out okay.
- -(tie) Sing/Trolls: Both of these are cases of me being pleasantly surprised, after having to listen to my daughter play the (unimpressive to annoying) trailers on YouTube over and over for months, only to discover the movies themselves were both well-written and enjoyable, with actually-pretty-good soundtracks. So okay, Maddie, thanks for making me watch with you.
Okay, 3 P.S.es I watched while I was writing this, so I'm not going to try to fit them into the countdown and mess up my nice lists. I actually watched a lot of things that didn't make the list at all, but these three were all so good that they probably WOULD have made the top ten but I'm not going to attempt to figure out where:
- Like I said, The Case of the Gilded Lily: you GUYS, I couldn't just have that link open above and seriously expect myself to wait until after the new year just so I wouldn't mess up this LIST, when I had a spare 40 minutes and it was CALLING to me. This is the mocku-noir the Poe Party team made, and it is further full of hilarity. These folks are geniuses, somebody make them famous beyond the internet already.
- Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2: we watched on Netflix Friday night while the kids were at their grandparents. I, naturally, most appreciated the on-point use of classic rock music-- even that UGHHHH "Brandy" I hate that song so friggin' much, but I have to admit it was USED excellently (and actually sort of highlights some of what makes the song so disgusting). Did I mention the on-point use of music was one of the things I loved so much about Legion, too? Okay, enough.
- Then, as promised, we finally squeezed in a matinee of The Last Jedi Saturday afternoon, and the theme of on-point music cues continues, because I'm pretty sure John Williams was the main reason I cried for the whole last like twenty minutes or something. When the moment, I'll avoid spoilers but I'll just say, my favorite original trilogy theme to play on the piano started up, I couldn't hold back the eye water, and more original trilogy themes from that point on kept me suitably moved. Not to mention a moment in the credits, likewise. WHAT WILL WE DO WITHOUT CARRIE, PEOPLE. It's been a year and I still cry when I think about her. Ahem anyway, the movie was absurdly long and could probably have done with some trimming up, but that's the only negative I have to say about it. I thoroughly enjoyed it. EDIT FOR POSTERITY: This happened:
THE CHRISTMAS LOOT ROUNDUP:
- Homemade Blankie Tails: I've wanted to do something with all my scrap fleece for ages, and I saw those Mermaid Tail Blankets and was like, yeah, Maddie has a mermaid thing, and both kids love to cocoon themselves in blankets to the point they wear their sleeping bags out. Sam's not so much of a mermaid dude, and I'd seen a lot of "boys' versions" that made it look like a shark was eating you instead, but that didn't seem very Sam, either. Then I remembered the inflatable blue orca they liked to take to the pool, and thought Sam would love to be TOTALLY INSIDE an orca, with the head as like a hood? Both of these took longer to make than I thought they would, but the kids assure me it was totally worth it. Here is them sleeping snuggly:
- This Freakin' Rainbow Alpaca Maddie had an excessive Amazon wishlist, and on it was this "rainbow alpaca" that was one of those one-cent-plus-shipping-from-someplace-
in-China things, and I was like what the heck, we'll throw that in, and I was expecting it to be like Beanie Boo size but it's like a foot and a half tall, and it came after the other things, so I wasn't sure how to wrap it, so I just set it under the tree looking cute. Then Christmas morning I hear Maddie squealing "OMIGODOMIGODOMIGOD" and I'm like, what on earth is causing THAT reaction. And it was this alpaca! She apparently did not even know how badly she wanted it until she saw it live, and now it's her best friend and lover and goes with her wherever she goes. WHO KNEW.
- The MP3 Player: Maddie has been stealing my phone to look up videos of songs she likes, and I'm thinking, when I was her age I had a boom box and cassette tapes of my favorite songs. What would be the equivalent nowadays? Now, earlier in the year I had bought myself a cheap mp3 player, but I kept forgetting it existed, so I thought, maybe that would be better for Maddie for her own music collection. I started that collection by going through my own collection for songs I knew she loved or thought she would like at least, then I added some more I never would have added for myself, mostly through Freegal, things like the soundtracks to Trolls and the My Little Pony Movie. I also borrowed some old Disney soundtracks from my parents to add, and purchased the soundtracks to Frozen and Moana. Speaking of music by Lin-Manuel Miranda, I even left "The Room Where It Happens" on there just to be obnoxious (she thinks Hamilton is annoying), and she STILL thinks Santa Claus was the one who curated that mix, not her former deejay mom. ;) According to Maddie, her favorite gifts from Santa are this and the alpaca, and her favorite gifts from ME are the mermaid tail and the doughnut sweatshirt I made her.
- A New Mattress: Sam sleeps in Jason's childhood bed-- his whole childhood bed, including 40-year-old mattress. So Sam has actually been asking, quite awhile, for a new mattress to help him sleep better, and hey, I'm all for that, since he's always a nicer kid when he gets enough sleep. I thought it would be kind of fun to see a gift as big as a mattress under the tree Christmas morning, but as it is, mattresses actually get delivered super-vacuum-packed. Though that's still a pretty big package: As not-a-toy as that present is, he was very happy with it:
- Matching Reindeer Sweatshirts: I wasn't sure what to get my Dad or brother, then I wondered if there were any cute Christmas fleeces at JoAnn's that I could turn into festive sweatshirts. I found a pre-cut "blanket" swatch with reindeer and snowflakes, that was "2.5 yds" long but I don't even know how wide. When I cut it out I realized I had a lot of extra fabric, so I also made a festive sweatshirt for Jason and Sam, and STILL had enough scraps left for a slightly different style of sweatshirt for Maddie. You know what we forgot to do, though? Get a picture on Christmas Eve with EVERYONE wearing their reindeer sweatshirts. Here's my dad though:
Top 5 Presents I Got:
- A Storage Cabinet: I have a large pile of fabric in the corner of my bedroom. I'd love an easy way to access/organize it and yet keep it out of the way, so I put a random storage thing that would do the job on my Amazon list. But my mother-in-law found a proper cherry-wood-looking-at-least cabinet with shelves inside. It is currently still unassembled on the floor of their living room, because it won't fit in our car to transport it, so we need to wait until J's dad can use his truck to bring it. But it WILL definitely come in useful.
- Jo-Ann Gift Cards, obvs: So I can buy more fabric to no longer leave in a pile in the corner.
- ...in a cute little BB-8 tin: My sister gave me her JoAnn card in this very cute little tin (I think that's the one, though the size listed seems small). There was also candy in the tin, so bonus.
- Pretty wrap cardigan: Quick selfie: It's from my parents and it exactly matched the skirt I was wearing Christmas Eve, except the shirt I was wearing was too bulky for me to put this on top of it.
- Books: Got the aforementioned Betsy Bird's scandalous history of children's lit; the two illustrated Harry Potter editions I didn't yet have, a Muppet coloring book and... I think that's it, in the way of books.
Top Presents Other People Gave Other People:
- Thomas: We're trying to convince Sam to part with his huge Thomas Trackmaster collection, if only because he never plays with it anymore and it takes up a lot of space. The BEST way of course is if he gives it to his little cousin, who has just started getting into trains-- that way it's still in the family, and if someday the cousin no longer wants it, he can give it back to Sam. It was hard, but he started with one box that he filled with some tracks, a tunnel, and one Thomas engine with cars. The little cousin LOVED it, and Sam felt a little better about giving it.
- Switch: Sam, meanwhile, wanted one thing for Christmas: a Nintendo Switch. We were NOT going to freaking get him a Nintendo Switch. But his Grammy said, That's all right, I'LL get it for him, so, well then. He was definitely... pleased puts it mildly.
- VR headset: This was sort of for me in that it was for the whole family. My parents must have found a deal somewhere. We had some trouble finding an app that would work with my phone, but the kids are getting the knack of it a lot faster than I am.
- Karaoke machine: This might also be a terrible gift, depending how you look at it. But it's a really cool little karaoke machine, with colored lights and everything. It was from my parents to my kids.
- Doughnut mold: My sister had these on her wishlist, silicone doughnut baking molds. I nearly got them for her myself, but I'd found too much else for her. So my brother got them for her, instead. Maddie is totally jealous.
OTHER POSTS I WROTE THAT YOU MIGHT WANT TO REVISIT:
I linked to a lot of the posts I wrote this year throughout this roundup. You're encouraged to click through and read them to enhance your understanding of what I've written in this post! But here are the top ones I HAVEN'T mentioned:
Technically the Top Five Other Posts I Wrote On This Blog, But That's Nearly ALL The Other Posts I Wrote On This Blog, Because I've Been Busy Writing a GeekMom Article Every Week:
- "Mission Statement of an Information Scientist": Librarians are rebels, yo.
- "Truth vs. the Stories We Tell Ourselves": me kind of working up to that later post
- "A Note About Invisible Racism (for Fellow White People)": painful observations I made of a library patron and her family. BTW, the little girl now goes to the same daycare I read The Polar Express to the other week, see above. She's really tickled that I come to her school but she already knows me from coming to the library.
- "Political/Fictional Parallels": in which I notice that a piece of writing I've mostly given up on still has a lot of very relevant things to say about real life.
- "More on Racism and Fascism": Because I've got something to SAY, thanks.
Top 5 Other Posts on GeekMom This Year, I Think. I think they're the Top 5, I mean. I KNOW they were on GeekMom this year.
- "Am I Different? On Claiming Identities": I did a lot of writing on labels and identity this year, but this is the post that kind of sums everything up.
- "How We Did Our Minecraft Birthday Party": Sam's birthday didn't make my list of notable real life events above, but it probably could have.
- "What Are Your Movie Adaptation Non-Negotiables?": The Wrinkle In Time trailer had the nerve to come out the day after my gallbladder surgery. I had so much to say but I couldn't sit at my computer to type it! Somehow over the next week I managed to pull this together!
- "A Beginner's Guide to Grocery Store Gifting": "Hey," somebody suggested on the GeekMom Slack, "how about instead of trying to put together typical gift guides, everyone picks a specialized topic to do a gift guide on instead?" What specialized topic could I offer, books? Heh. But suddenly I thought of this thing I do almost without thinking, and I put my name down for doing it before I could stop myself, and I kept writing it in my head, though while I was typing it on the computer I was like, "This is so obvious, why would anyone care?" On the contrary, it seemed to really resonate with a lot of people.
- "How Deep Is Your Geek?" Another one that really seemed to resonate with people.