Curated: Also known as “addicted to the ‘net”

January 25th, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The shoulds in my life are many. I should join the gym in my office building, I should eat fewer baked goods, I should finish reading that Haruki Murakami book on my nightstand. But one thing I never have trouble making time for is reading online. You can see where my priorities lie. Here’s the latest stuff I’m digging.

1. “You can be influenced by a book you haven’t read, by the idea of something you’ve merely heard of.”

Julian Barnes interviewed in The Paris Review

2. Subscribe:

I’ve been experimenting with different e-newsletters, and so far two have made the cut for longterm reading: 1. the Ann Friedman Weekly for great reads and thoughtful links and 2. Now I Know for daily weird trivia and interesting factoids.

3. Have you read…?

4. Eat!

It’s got to be some kind of sign that my daily reading feed had Orange-Glazed Polenta Cake (drool) right next to a recipe for Burnt Orange Salty Caramel Sauce. (The sign is saying, “OMG, eat me, where’s the vanilla ice cream?”)

PS – But then again, maybe I should go for these no-bake cookie bars?

Top photo via NASA, because space is awesome

 

 

Curated: Some reading for your New Year

December 31st, 2014

I read a lot, and I’m trying to find a way to share the best of those reads with my friends. (I guess I’m saying, I have good taste! You would like to see these things!) So as a New Year’s gift, I’m putting a bunch of things together that you should read/laugh at/view/enjoy.

1. “Just find the thing you enjoy doing more than anything else, your one true passion, and do it for the rest of your life on nights and weekends when you’re exhausted and cranky and just want to go to bed.”

An oldie but a goodie from The Onion, and one I like to consult as I think about “resolutions” for the year.

2. Follow the New York Public Library on Instagram.

The library is sharing handwritten, retro reference questions on the account, telling Gothamist, “we were Google before Google existed.”

3. Have you read…?

I’m taking this advice from Austin Kleon via Twitter:

With all the year-end, best-of lists coming out lately, my Amazon wishlist is out of control.  This round-up of 2014′s best books (from Brainpickings) is a good one.

But let’s note: we should have some non-electronic reading in the mix. That is to say: Stop reading on a screen before bed! It’s killing us.

Other things to read this weekend:

4. Drink!

For a cozy New Year’s Eve, drink this Irish hot chocolate.

For your  post-holiday, less-sugar, resolution purposes, drink this detox spa water.

Top photo via HuffPo’s “The 52 Best Photos from Around the World in 2014.” Reuters also has a round-up too, though it’s a lot heavier, violent and graphic

 

Motherhood update: One year of parenting

December 29th, 2014

A photo posted by Suzanne Wilder (@thewilder) on

My baby boy arrived more than a year ago. It was 4:19 a.m. on a Saturday morning, to be precise. He was a strong little beastie, right from the start.

He has chubby legs and squishy arms, dimpled elbows and a jiggly belly. He has soft skin and sharp teeth. He has red hair that is growing asymmetrically from that swirly-point at the top of his skull.  I can tell you about my baby, and most other babies are similar. (But let the record show, they are not THE BEST BABY (TM).) When he giggles, I do whatever it takes to repeat the sound. Popping bubble wrap, making weird noises, crawling under blankets, being smothered by a chubby babe who is trying to say, “Tickle tickle!”

He walks on two feet now. Sometime around 9 months, he started standing regularly next to furniture and taking a step or two. By 11 months, he was getting braver and taking a few steps away from furniture and away from guiding hands. By 12 months, he was toddling around fearlessly and falling occasionally on his bum with a gentle, diaper-padded thud.

And yet, even after a year, the permanence of motherhood is still occasionally unnerving. Gone are the days of leisurely reading on the sofa, strolling around a grocery store aimlessly with two free hands, and leaving steaming hot beverages on low tables.

Also, holy moly, the vigilance required for these early years. The electrical sockets, the books he might destroy, the breakable things you didn’t even realize a baby would grab-and-smash. (For example, a stoneware dog food bowl.) Every item in your home is a candidate for eating, climbing, carrying, opening, poking, or drumming.

Some people call it “the longest shortest time.” And other people call it “the hardest job you’ll ever have.” Cashiers ask how old he is, and I say A YEAR now. “Enjoy him while you can! They’re so fun at that age,” the sales clerks cheer at me. Already, I look at new parents with fresh-from-the-womb infants and think, “How much has changed! How big my boy has gotten!” Photos of pregnant me seem like an alternate universe. The girth of that belly! The quiet of baby-free life!

I’m not going to lie. I miss sleep. Other things I miss: Nights out with no babysitting plan. Drinking more than two beers (or wine) at a sitting. Wearing sweaters without fear of getting covered in baby crust. (Baby crust is usually food, but occasionally slobber, boogies, and other mystery substances of parenthood.)

My dog suffers. Her walks are short and efficient, though she is getting older. She tolerates baby pokes and pets, squeals and squeaks, and being walked indoors by a toddling goofball. On the flipside, she eats more table food than ever. Someone keeps dropping food from his chair, and the floor is an endless source of doggy snacks at meal times.

Things that multiply mysteriously: Toys. Clothes. Crumbs. I blink and new plastic objects appear in my living room. Each season brings, essentially, a new wardrobe of sizes and layers. Socks are paired successfully twice, at the most. The boy despises wearing all socks and shoes, and he disposes of these torture devices as quickly as you can say boo.

He says “mama” in many ways, meaning different things. He mimics noises and teases new words often now. Something like “dada,” as well as variations of “George” (for Curious George), “fish” (when eating Goldfish crackers), and “tickle” (when tickling people).

Motherhood is enormous joy and frequent naps. Motherhood is MOAR COFFEE. Motherhood is diapers. Burp rags. Neck bites. Food-crusted onesies. A bizarre satisfaction when baby boy cries at my morning departure. Guilt about diaper rash. But the LOVE. It’s tough to beat. It’s everything I hoped and more.

But send coffee. Please.

 

Ideas and Old Married Ladies

October 20th, 2014

Image by Florian Klauer via Unsplash.com

This summer was  an unsettled one. We moved to Ohio, traveled for a slew of weddings, helped family members move, house-hunted and started new jobs. We’ve been living a rather bohemian life in a loft-style apartment, in a neighborhood that is more down-and-out than up-and-coming. Our tiny nerd is stumbling around on two feet sometimes, constantly showing us all the ways that we’ve failed to baby-proof the apartment. There are big changes that have happened (new state! new house soon! new job!) but lots of small things that keep us distracted every day. It’s boring but all-consuming, this business of settling in a new place.

In the midst of all this life, I’m trying to find and maintain a few creative outlets. My college roommate/BFF and I started a new blog called Old Married Ladies. My dad and I are working on a new issue of Positive365. And after years of stewing on a novel idea, I’ve kickstarted my writing and research. (No link for that, though. It’s in very early draft mode, mostly sketches and ideas and verbal doodles.)

So I haven’t been here, but you can find me in lots of other places. I try to update Instagram from time to time (warning: lots of baby pics), and I occasionally pop on Twitter to find interesting links and bon mots. I’m around! Say hi to me any time, and I’ll be back when I have something to say.

 

A photo posted by Suzanne Wilder (@thewilder) on

7 Ways to Make a Blog Post Go Viral

July 16th, 2014

  1. Have opinions and declare those opinions to be absolute truth. It doesn’t matter that you’re just some schmo who isn’t an expert and you’re not even that good of a writer.
  2. It should be a list. Always, always make a list. If it’s a slideshow, you get double bonus points. If you include a .gif for every item in your list, triple-super-duper bonus points.
  3. Use an odd number for your list and headline. I recommend a number bigger than 3 but smaller than 15, because we want to feel like we’re learning something, but we don’t want to read too much.
  4. Don’t forget to be funny, too! Because OMG, my kid poops his pants, and that’s like, hilarious. POOP. IN HIS PANTS.
  5. Make sure to point out how human and flawed your experiences have been. Nobody likes Little Miss Perfect. Did I mention the poop in my kid’s pants?
  6. Throw in a heartwarming clincher. My mom is a nurse, y’all, and she saves lives, and she saved MY life by giving birth to me and giving me hugs. A lot of hugs. Sometimes she cries. IT IS BEAUTIFUL.
  7. Don’t forget a call to action so that people will share it. Also, you guys? Tell your mom how much you love her today.

Why we moved to Ohio

July 3rd, 2014

I was working on a long “Farewell, Chicago” post, as well as a “Hello, Ohio” entry, but I realized there’s a much easier way to sum up why we moved to Ohio.

A picture (or three) worth a thousand words:

Family 2014
The Tiny Nerd with Pappy and a piggy

 

Family 2014
Nana and the Tiny Nerd

 

Family 2014
The Tiny Nerd with his cousin, enjoying a tiny pool

 

We have to talk about the hard things

March 1st, 2014


Does it matter if we talk about global affairs? Or sexual violence? Or human rights?

It’s easier to say, “That doesn’t affect me. That is far away. Those people are different from me.”

It’s easier not to talk about these things at all. Not to click a headline. Not to watch a news story that is violent or heartbreaking or controversial.

It’s easier to say, “I am one tiny voice, and it won’t matter what I think or say.”

I am one tiny voice. We have to speak together, even if quietly and gently. But sometimes loudly and forcefully.

We make decisions that speak loudly, too. Where we spend our money. What we click on. What news we watch and read and listen to. What art and pop culture we absorb. How we spend our time speaks volumes.

It matters if I say:

What do we do?

  • Click and read news stories about substance, rather than about reality shows or celebrity gossip.
  • Sign an online petition.
  • Tweet!
  • Send a form email (or an original one, if you’re feeling verbose) to your state representative, senator, the White House, your city councilor, or whoever may be able to speak in an official way. They work for us, after all!
  • Share news stories on Facebook.
  • Spend your time and money thoughtfully.

Related confessions:

  1. As a  journalism school graduate, it’s tough for me to put opinions out into the world. Shouldn’t I stay unbiased and neutral about everything? I haven’t worked in the news business for seven years, but I still have this nagging feeling that I should hide my opinions. But this is about journalism, because so few people read these meaty international stories that news organizations don’t want to pay for reporters to work on them.
  2. I read a lot of things: news, blogs, books, magazines. And I enjoy a lot of pop culture, lately science fiction shows, spy dramas, old cooking shows, and folksy modern rock. I’m not proposing that everyone put down their favorite form of entertainment, but I do think we should be conscious and vocal about the world around us.
  3. I’m not interested in political debate about Republican versus Democrat versus Libertarian versus Tea Party versus Green versus whatever. I want us to talk about issues that affect real people like me (and you). I want to talk about the mother in North Korea who is wondering if her kids will get enough to eat tonight. Or the young women in Russia who wanted to make punk rock music and instead were whipped in public by a government-endorsed militia.
  4. Is this futile? Hopelessly optimistic? Bleeding-heart naïveté? Or is it a plea for more public dialogue about terrible events that shatter the lives of real people in the world?

Here is my tiny voice. I am saying something I believe. Will you join me?

PS: Motherhood compels me to raise my voice. I want this tiny nerd to grow up in a world that is thoughtful, compassionate, well-informed and getting better every day.

 

They’re Coming launch party

February 15th, 2014

A few months ago, I wrote about the Hubbs’ zombie card game. And now They’re Coming is here.

We launched the game with a small party at one of our “safe houses,” the Star Lounge Coffee Bar. We had a small art raffle, a cake by Drizzle Bakery and a group of loyal survivors at our sides.

The Hubbs is relieved that the game has come to life. He used a company called The Game Crafter to print and ship the games to our Kickstarter backers, though a few Chicagoans will get hand-delivered copies from us this week. (And a few Ohioans will receive deliveries in a few weeks.)

I’ve also stashed a deck or two for myself. Since the littlest nerd has arrived, I’ve been thinking about all the amazing bits of creativity we’ll share with him once he’s a little older: this card game that the Hubbs created, a beautiful handmade quilt from Nana (my mom), several books and paintings from Pappy (my dad), and magazines that I edited. (Maybe in a few years I can add books that I write to the mix, too.)  When I think about the things I leave behind in this world, the first and most awesome will always be my boy. But there will also be little bits of creativity that leave our mark, too.  I hope we teach the littlest nerd that there’s a pure joy in creating something from scratch, or seeing someone you love do so, just for the fun of it.

You can find the game on Facebook, Twitter or the Interwebz. If you missed the Kickstarter, send us a message on Facebook and we’ll pass along order information.

 

What you do on maternity leave

January 5th, 2014

People without kids may find themselves asking the question, “What do you DO on maternity leave?” Maybe you think new parents get to LIVE IT UP and PARTY ALL DAY, because new babies do a lot of sleeping?

If you think that, you are correct. By “live it up,” I mean, “watch Netflix in 30-minute increments, between changing diapers and breastfeeding and checking whether your tiny creature is breathing.” And by “party all day,” I mean, “sleep in 2-3 hour bursts, in between baby-cries.”

But for my own records, here’s a tiny look into what I did on my maternity leave.

 

I spent the holidays in Ohio with my family, so I could experience moments of bliss not limited to watching the Hubbs read a pop-up book with my niece and encouraging my parents to snuggle their new grandson. I took approximately 5,624 photos of my niece and her new cousin (“BABY!”) in order to get one or two where they are not moving, pooping or crying. Also: I coordinated matching outfits for my family.

My lovely friends visited in gentle, much-appreciated waves, beginning in the hospital and continuing through New Year’s week. Some came from New York and New Jersey, and others met me for snacks at cafes. My sister left her own sweet baby for a weekend to come cook and grocery shop for us, and my mom visited and granted us a very romantic morning date at Target.

I made peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, because I was curious about baked cookies that didn’t have flour. The Hubbs gave them a rating of “No, we can’t share these with other people. We need to keep them all here.”

Mostly, though, I spent my time exclaiming, “OH MY GOODNESS, you are so cute!” or “What a good, sweet boy!” or “A-gooooo!” A few minutes were devoted to discovering elbow dimples, and several minutes over thunder thighs. Many hours were lost to translating cries. You learn over a few weeks that “Change my diaper” sounds different from “I’m about to spit up all over you” and from “FEED ME.”

This week I go back to my 9-to-5, and daddy daycare begins. We proceed into a brave new world of parenting. Onward!

 

Motherhood

December 3rd, 2013

miles for blog

1.

A month ago, I became a mom. Four weeks and two days filled with baby grunts and wails, middle-of-the-night diaper changes, laundry loads of pee-soaked onesies, meals half-eaten and interrupted by squeaky cries, and countless snuggle sessions.  The time has passed in a blur. And we’re just getting started.

Sometimes, the tiny nerd is taking a nap in his room, and I get lost in the midst of a book or a movie. Then I’ll hear a cry from the other side of the door, and it hits me: That is my little person in that room, and I have to take care of him!

I’d like to blame hormones for another common scene, but I don’t think they’re entirely at fault. When the tiny nerd is sleeping on my chest, I  look down at his squishy cheeks and his quivering mouth, and my eyes tear up. The Hubbs and I made this! We get to raise this little beast forever! We get to go on this crazy adventure together! It is overwhelming.

2.

Yesterday was my grandmother Velma’s 80th birthday. She is Mom to seven children, Mammaw to 18 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. The roots of her family tree are deep, and the branches stretch wide. The photo below is her with a handful of those grandkids (me included).

velma and grandkids

When the Hubbs saw it, he said, “Just think, in 30 years, you could be surrounded by a bunch of grandkids like that!”

Celebrating her birthday is bittersweet. My grandmother lives in a nursing home in southern Ohio, where she is a skeleton of a woman, more infantile than senile. She doesn’t speak, and she eats pureed food that is spoon-fed by nurses or visitors.

I hate that my son will never hear her talk about trips to Alaska, cross-country RV journeys to visit family, or stories about her life growing up in southern Ohio. He’ll never arrive at her house to be smothered in hugs and kisses, then stuffed full of homemade noodles or pots full of garden-fresh corn or dried apples. I hate that my husband only knows her as a forgetful, then frail, then silent figure.

But there’s joy in knowing that because of my grandmother, my son will grow up surrounded with family that loves and adores him. He’ll meet cousins, aunts, uncles and all the variations of family that we can throw at him, and they’ll smother him with snuggles and kisses and kind words.

The family has rich memories of time with their mother and grandmother, and those memories will infuse our time with each other.

3.

You have nine months of pregnancy to prepare for being a parent. In my case, I also had a few years of infertility treatments. The idea that I might not get to raise a child, to see my husband become a father, to watch in wonder as an infant became a toddler became a person… That was the hardest part of infertility. I wanted to experience that joy firsthand.

Despite those months of pregnancy, the baby seems to arrive suddenly. You knew there was a tiny human incubating inside your belly, but now there’s a baby in your arms. You are forever the mother to a creature that needs you in a primal way. He needs your warmth, your sustenance and your protection. He needs your voice to comfort him and teach him language. He needs your hands to wrap him in dry diapers and soft clothes.

My days have become an endless stream of mundane, repetitive moments that add up to something profound and deeply personal.

4.

I’m fussing over the baby’s socks. His feet will get cold if they fall off.

“You’re being such a mom,” the Hubbs says.

Exactly.