As a family, we have eclectic tastes and love trying new things. We’re always reading, (binge) watching shows and movies, and listening to podcasts and webinars. The amount of content we consume each month is staggering. Our daughter is also a voracious “reader” and as she enters toddlerhood, her interests are becoming more pronounced. She will tells you exactly what she wants and when she wants it – “String cheese now!”
At the end of each month, I’ll share a list of things that we were into over the past ~30 days.
This month it was all about food and audio experiences. I’ve spent a lot of time listening to music while working, driving, and doing errands around the house. Norah loves to dance and watching her spin in circles makes me happy. My birthday was this month and my husband and I had a great day going to the natural history museum and having my favorite food – sushi! I’ve always been a low-key person, but since I became a mother, I just want to spend quality time together making memories as a family.
Surf and Turf sushi
This may be the happiest mistake we’ve ever made. During a sushi run, my husband tried to order an entree of Surf and Turf for himself, but instead brought home the most delicious sushi roll I’ve ever had. The restaurant’s website says the roll is marinated steak and crab fried in tempura. There’s also some sort of delicious brown sauce on top. This roll dethroned our previous favorite, The Godzilla.
Music that sounds like it’s from another era
I have a few dozen Pandora stations that I cycle through, but right now, I’m really digging alternative music that sounds like it’s from a different era. Most of these recommendations came from my Young the Giant station. The first one is Fleet Foxes, who have a ‘70s sound. My favorite songs are He Doesn’t Know Why and Mykonos. I also like Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats; they have a funky mid ‘60s vibe. I’m loving S.O.B. and I Need Never Get Old. My last great find is Rocky Votolato who’s channeling ‘90s emo godfather, Elliott Smith, in his song White Daisy Passing.
Sometimes I’m very task oriented and other times I can’t stay on one webpage for more than five minutes. When I need to focus on something, I use Brain.fm. The ambients sounds are created to improve concentration and focus. I liked it so much, I bought a full year membership. I use it for at least 30 minutes every single day and it continues to work wonders. If you’re interested in buying the service, here’s my referral link.
My husband, Michael writes a blog about solving problems, productivity and ideas. You can read more at Your Fool Laureate.
February is always a weird month for me. I can sense winter coming to an end, and we’re getting closer to one of my favorite times of the year—March Madness (more on that later). However, it’s still bone-chillingly cold here in the Midwest, and 9 times out of 10, there’s snow, so there’s still that winter malaise hanging around one’s shoulders like a long and heavy existential shawl. So more than ever during this time of year, I turn my attention to welcome diversions—those creature comforts that help resuscitate some of that warm feeling from spring and summer that I know is just on the horizon. I read, I listen to things, and I eat and drink.
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
This book was just recently published in January, 10 months after the death of its author. Dr. Kalanithi was a neurosurgeon at Stanford, but was steeped in all the things I hold dear: philosophy, classics, religious studies, art, etc. This book is a memoir about his life as a thinker, a doctor, a husband, and a father, up until his death from stage IV cancer. It’s a really great read—filled with great musings on the bigger questions in life, but also warm accounts of lessons learned by being there as people died. While Kalanithi’s account of his own journey toward death is moving on its own, my usually stone cold heart was nearly melted by the epilogue, which his wife, Lucy, wrote after his death. The epilogue is an account of Paul’s death, and how Lucy experienced it. It is gripping, but told in such a way that you really feel what it must feel like to be in your final moments. It’s a fantastic book.
I have been into whiskey for a couple of years now, and I’ve tried to sample new bourbons, ryes, and scotches whenever I get the chance. Recently, I found myself far away from the home base—in exotic Woonsocket, Rhode Island, on business. After a long day of work, a few higher-ups from the customer I was visiting accompanied me to dinner. When I expressed my preference for ordering a bourbon with dinner, and that it just might be Blanton’s, one of them exclaimed that it was his absolute favorite. Apparently, there are seven different variations of the stopper for the Blanton’s bottle, which is a jockey riding a horse. Each variation represents the different stages of a race. The recommendation was a solid one. Blanton’s is a damn good bourbon, and may have usurped my favorite bourbon, Four Roses Single Barrel. I plan to pick up a bottle soon, but probably nearer to the warm part of spring. Bourbon (at least to me) is a warm weather drink, one to sip as the sun sets over the green (or greening) trees.
Back To Work Podcast
I have been listening to podcasts since waaay back in 2006, before they began booming. It’s really the only thing that I got in on before it blew up, so I’ll sing that song to anyone who will listen (lucky you, dear reader!) Since that time, I’ve cycled a lot of podcasts in and out of my regular rotation, with some being long-standing ones, and others being flashes in the pan. Back to Work has proven to be the podcast that once in my stack, never left—and for good reason. The hosts, Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin, have a great rapport. But what really makes the show is the sincerity and candor with which Merlin works through problems that nearly all of us face. While the show is nominally about productivity, it runs the gamut, touching on a wide variety of topics, and handles them all with a wonderful touch of humor. The podcast was good from the start, so if you are inclined to check it out, begin with episode 1, and enjoy a really good ramp-up to episode 7. Also very worth checking out is the three-part series on David Allen’s Getting Things Done, beginning with episode 95 – “She’s Five for a Living”
Norah (21 months old)
Almost every morning, the first request Norah has is “milk,” the second is “Ugga Mugga”. We try to limit her TV consumption, but she watches 1-2 episodes on most weekdays. She loves the show, interacts with the characters, and tries to sing the songs. She has four Daniel Tiger stuffed characters that accompany her on most of her adventures. Some children’s shows can be annoying, but I find this one sweet and nostalgic, the characters are all descendents of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood puppets.
We got out to eat more than we should, but we’re working on adding a budget and meal plan into our repertoire. When we ask Norah where she wants to eat, she almost always says “Potbelly’s!” She loves the chicken and cheddar melt with avocado and the sugar cookies. She can be a bit of a picky eater, but she always finishes her half of the Big size.
Prior to this month, Norah had only been on one play date, but this month she had three. As she nears two years old, she’s much more interested in being around other kids. This month we went to the natural history museum, the children’s museum and an indoor playground. Her favorite activity was splashing in the giant water table at the children’s museum. Her least favorite activity was getting stuck in a tube at the indoor playground. We’re looking into signing her up for gymnastics and swimming lessons in the summer. It’s so fun to watch her personality blossom.