Monday, January 9, 2017

How I Read More in 2016

As I mentioned in my favorite books of 2016 post, I read more this year than I probably have in any other given year of my adult life.  There were a few lessons I learned this year that contributed to this bump in reading.  I thought they might be worth sharing…

Keep a list of books to read…
This year, in the back of my planner I used one of those precious few pages for notes to keep a list of books that I want to read.  Anytime I heard someone mention a book that sounded interesting, or I stumbled across a “best books” list I’d add to the list.  And when I finished something from the list I crossed it off.  Previously I’d had random notes on my phone or in my email with books that I might want to read, but I’ve never had them in one concise place.  My planner goes with my pretty much everywhere so whenever I was at a bookstore or the library I always knew what I might be looking for.

Keep a list of books that I did read…
Next to my list of books to read I also kept track of what I’d finished.  There was something so satisfying about seeing that list grow and I think it kept me reading.  In 2017 I want to include the dates of when I finished the book because I think that would be interesting to track.

Utilize the library and its book reserve system…
I started using the library more this year.  I think because I had that ever growing list of books to read at my fingertips, each trip to the library for kids books also included a trip upstairs to get some books for me.  And for the first time ever I found myself putting books on hold that were currently unavailable (rather than just trying again another time).  This meant I was constantly getting emails about books that were waiting for me.  And in a lot of ways it motivated me to read them more quickly, partly because a book with holds on it can’t be renewed, and partly because I knew that there were other people waiting and I felt bad taking my sweet time.  As a result I would fly through books.  There were times I had to let go of books I was dying to read because all the books I’d put on hold came up at once, but they’re still on my “To Read” list so I’ll get back to them eventually.

Audiobooks for the win…
I’ve always been a fan of audiobooks but have fallen out of it in recent years because they’re expensive to buy and a pain to try and take out from the library.  This year only 7 or 8 of my read titles were audiobooks, but interestingly, I found that audiobooks are really great for titles that I may have a hard time getting into, but ultimately really enjoyed reading.  If I could listen while I washed dishes or worked out, I was less likely to put the book down and before I knew it I was into it.  This was how I managed to read the 800 pages of “A Little Life” and how I discovered that I loved the Robert Galbraith series.

And finally, reading begets reading…
That old adage we throw around when our kids are babies, sleep begets sleep, also applies to reading, I’ve found.  When I’m in the practice of reading books I read more.  I realized this about a month ago when I wasn’t reading.  I’d run out of books coming through from my hold list, there wasn’t anything screaming to be read on my “To Read” list and I realized it had been a week or two since I’d picked up a book.  I was in a reading rut.  On a library run for my kids I took a tour of the new fiction section and grabbed three books that I’d heard nothing about but based on my knowledge of the authors, or, frankly, the covers, I figured I might like.  These were easy books, the reality t.v. of literature, but they were quick reads and entertaining stories and within a week or so they had helped break my rut and I was moving on to other literary endeavors.  The more you read, the more you read.

So those are my tips.  Or at least what helped me be a better reader in 2016.  I’ve got my lists going for 2017 and a goal to read 50 books this year.  I’m also going to try and finally figure out my library’s digital selection and try to check out books directly to my kindle or phone.  I don’t always love reading on the kindle, but for certain books it works, and if I can figure out the library audiobook app that could be pretty awesome.

Happy Reading in 2017!

Friday, January 6, 2017

My Best Books of 2016

I read forty-five books this year, which is probably the most I’ve read in a given year since I was ten and tearing through a Baby-Sitters Club book every other day.  I thought I’d share my favorites from the list.

The Best Books I read in 2016:

The Colors of Goodbye by September Vaudrey
I read this book on my i-phone in about 36 hours.  I am not exaggerating when I said I couldn’t put it down.  Vaudrey shares her family’s story of the unexpected death of her nineteen year old daughter Katie and the traumatic aftermath.  It is beautiful, hopeful, honest, raw, vulnerable and everything else you would hope a book about grief would be.  It is the book I now give to people in the midst of painful grief and it is one I will probably return to again.  

Columbine by Dave Cullen
There was so much I didn’t realize that I didn’t know about the Columbine shootings and Cullen’s detailed and researched account sheds so much light on what happened and how it was reported at the time.  It is incredible well written and eye-opening and I learned so much, particularly about the media and the ways stories can take on a life of their own, regardless of the truth.  It also gave me a tremendous amount of compassion for the families of the shooters.
Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes
I wasn’t prepared to be so struck by this book, but man did it land with me.  This is one that may become an annual read for me; the encouragement and motivation it gave me was so great.  It’s about the year Rhimes decides to say yes to everything that scares her.  The writing is delightful and entertaining, but the story is riveting.  I was a big fan.

A Little Life by Tanya Yanagihara
Content wise this was the most difficult book I’ve ever read.  This book reveals the very ugliest of humanity.  But I haven’t been that invested in a group of characters in a long time.  I found myself thinking about them when I wasn’t reading, wondering if they were ok.  It is a book that is made for discussion, so I was thankful to find a book group meeting about it at my local book store.  It is a book I recommend with hesitation, not because it’s a bad book, but because its content is not for everyone.   But man, is it a beautifully written story.

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
This should be required reading for the 21st century.  Stevenson writes about his work for the Equal Justice Initiative which is concerned about inequality and injustice in the criminal justice system particularly against the poor and minorities.  The book goes back and forth between a particularly moving case Stevenson worked on in his career and other cases/issues he continues to work on today.  It is an eye-opening and powerful read and I just found out it’s going to be a movie (starring my favorite, Michael B Jordan!).  More of us need to be talking about what’s really going on in our prison systems and how we can change it.

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
This is not my typical read, science fiction/thriller, but it had been recommended by more than one person as just that, a science fiction/thriller for people who don’t usually read them.  It was kind of mind trippy and I couldn’t think to much about the science behind some of it or I’d get way too confused, but it was an incredibly interesting story that left me thinking about the choices we make and the lives that those choices lead to.  It was really good.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by Jack Thorne and JK Rowling
This is a play that went up in West London sometime in the last year, I think.  It’s set where the very end of the last Harry Potter book leaves off, with Harry and his crew grown adults who have children attending Hogwarts.  It was a little weird reading a play and I couldn’t wrap my brain around how they did this live with the magic and what not, but all in all it felt like a few hours with some old friends and that was lovely.

Honorable Mentions:  Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton, Very Married by Katherine Willis Pershey, The Light of the World by Elizabeth Alexander, The Girls by Emma Cline and Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

Three authors I got into this year.

I discovered a few new authors this year and went deep into the rabbit hole of their books and/or series, all of which were so good, it felt redundant to add them to my best of list.  I found Rainbow Rowell and read five of her books this year (Fan Girl, Carry On, Eleanor and Park, Attachments and Landline).  I started and finished the Robert Galbraith (which is actually just J.K. Rowling writing under a pen name) Cormoran Strike series which was excellent.  (Those three books are A Cuckoo’s Calling, The Silkworm and Career of Evil)  And while I discovered Liane Moriarty last year, my deep dive of her stuff continued into 2016.  I’ve read everything she’s written and thoroughly enjoyed all of it, but my favorites would probably include The Hypnotist’s Love Story, Big Little Lies and What Alice Forgot.

I read a lot of really great stuff this year and so while this list may just be my very favorite, there were a bunch of others that I would enthusiastically recommend as well.  In fact, of my list of 45 books there were maybe only two or three that I didn’t like.  I just finished my first book of 2017, Hatching Twitter by Nick Bolton, a super fascinating look at the birth and growth of Twitter.

What are you reading??

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Happy New Year

A terribly cute/terrible toddler with some current sleep issues kept Tommy and I from ringing in the New Year together this year.  He took the big three kids to the Farm while I stayed home with the youngest.  My NYE consisted of sushi with my mom, and binge watching New Girl alone in bed, all of which had me asleep well before midnight.  NYE looks a little different these days and that is fine by me.

As a result, however, nothing about the last few days felt like any sort of “holiday” and I kind of forgot that there was any real significance to the day, other than the fact that I got to bust out my brand new Paper Source Art Grid calendar.  Instagram reminded me quickly though and I watched as many people posted their joy that the dumpster fire of a year that was 2016 was finally put to bed.

2016 was a crazy making year and unfortunately much of what made me crazy will be coming with us into the new year.  For me, when I look at our country and our world, the things that produced anxiety and hopelessness in me this past year are still very much in play.  And I don’t really know what to do with that as I look ahead to 2017.  The scary things feel too much outside of my control and out of my ability to produce any kind of change.

I really haven’t written much since the election.  I haven’t known how to start or finish anything.  When I write I’m looking for grace and hope and redemption and, well, that’s been harder for me to find.

But it’s a new year and I want to get back to old practices. I want to look at life a bit more like a camera lens this year.  My resolve in 2017 is to zoom that lens in and out this year.  I want to remember to zoom out, to look at the big picture and to care about what’s going on in the whole world.  For me this will look like paying attention, getting involved in whatever is resisting bigotry and hatred and injustice, and using whatever cards I have to speak up when necessary.  I’m going to read and listen and learn.  I’m going to be extra aware of what’s going on when I zoom that lens out and see the big picture.

But, that big picture can be overwhelming at times and I can seem powerless.  There is a lot I can’t fix or do.  And so I’m going to remember to zoom that lens in real close too and pay attention to my people, my kids and my husband, my family and the friends that have become family.  I’m going to focus the lens on them and their needs and how I can be of service.  I will make my world very small and settle into it, because this is where I can do the most good, this is where my actions produce the strongest ripples.

There will be a time for zooming the lens out and pulling it back in close and I need to do both.  My job this year is to pay attention and respond accordingly.  I can’t forget that there is a greater world out there that is hurting, that there are real injustices and abuses of power that need attention and resistance.  And I must remember that first and foremost I am called to the people in my home and in my community.  That making dinner, or reading stories or listening with full, undivided attention to my four-year-old as she rambles on about a weird dream she had last night about a unicorn, wonder woman and her best friend is often my most important ministry for the moment.

So this year I’m attempting to zoom in and out with my lens, to remember both views and forget neither.  

Happy 2017, friends.  

Thursday, October 20, 2016

A Few Good Books: October

Hellooooooo!  I’m linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy again to share a few good books I’ve read in the last month or so.  This month is actually pretty stacked!  I’ve read eight books and six of them were share-worthy (and the other two probably would have been if it had been a different month)!  Yea for good books!

Here’s my two cents:

The Girls by Emma Cline
This was the book everyone was talking about this summer.  It’s a fictional story about a young girl in the sixties and her experience with a Charles Manson like cult.  I’d been warned by more than one person that the content matter was a little R rated.  I think maybe I’d been over-warned so that it was worse in my imagination.  I didn’t think it was that bad, but others might, so be aware.  Otherwise I thought it was a really intriguing story (which made me more interested in the real case that inspired it) and an overall good read.

Eligible by Curtis Sittinfeld
This modern day retelling of Pride and Prejudice came out this summer with a bit of fanfare.  I’ll admit that I’m not actually a huge Jane Austen fan (I know, I know, terrible).  But I LOVED this retelling.  It takes place in Cincinnati, involved a “Bachelor-esque” reality show and the Lizzy and Darcy of this story are just as endearing and delightful as Austen’s.  I loved this so much I sent it to a friend for her birthday.

Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton

I had been looking forward to this book for years, from when I first heard Glennon was writing a memoir about her marriage- the falling apart of it and the putting back together.  Melton is a writer I follow on social media and through her blog so I was interested in the full story behind the bits she’d shared in the past few years.  Plus, she’s one of my favorite teachers and so her wisdom on the topic of marriage seemed like a home run.  I was nervous when I found out, shortly before the book’s release, that her marriage had ended and she and Craig were separating.  I wondered if it would make whatever she shared in the book seem false, or not quite truthful.  Once I read the book though, the outcome of her marriage, a year or so after she finished writing, wasn’t actually relevant.  Melton goes there in this book- she’s more honest than she’s ever been- and this is a book about marriage and intimacy, porn, addiction and what happens when two really unhealthy people get married and then really deal with their unhealthiness.  I’m still thinking about this one and will be for quite a while.  It’s a book about marriage, but it’s really a book about what happens when you really and truly face your deepest junk and save yourself from it.  (Also, this is an Oprah book club pick, so it will be everywhere)

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
This needs to be required reading friends.  Stevenson is the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative and works with people on death row.  This book is about a case Bryan worked with early on in his career, a man who had been wrongfully convicted of murder and subsequently placed on death row.  The injustice in this case caused my blood to boil and more than once I wondered how Bryan managed to keep his cool and continue to fight against what seemed like bold and outright injustice.  In between chapters on this case Bryan shares different aspects of injustice in our prison systems.  The section on mandatory life sentences for minors will have you outraged.  I can’t recommend it enough.  The writing is beautiful, Stevenson is so descriptive I kept thinking, this needs to be a screen play, someone has to turn this into a movie.  (Someone is and Michael B. Jordan is playing Stevenson.  Score.)

Very Married by Katherine Willis Pershey
I wasn’t trying to read a lot of books on marriage, it just sort of happened.  I’d heard some buzz about this book for a while now.  Pershey was on my radar as she’s a pastor of a church in the same town I once worked (in a church).  If Melton’s book is about the individual work that happens within a marriage, Pershey’s is much more a celebration about the work of togetherness that happens there.  I loved this memoir, deeply appreciated Pershey’s honestly and her voice.  I want very much to read more from her.

Honorable mentions this month: The Forgetting Time, Landline, and The Silkworm.  All were great, but this post has gotten too long for recaps of everything :).  I'm in the middle of the third book in the Cormoran Strike series, Career of Evil and I've got Hatching Twitter on deck.  What are you reading??

Friday, October 7, 2016

Lessons in Autumn

I wrote this essay two years ago now, the first fall after my dad's death.  For a variety of reasons I never published it.  Each year, as the season start to to change I think back on this essay and the little scraps of hope that came with it.  Today I noticed for the first time that the leaves on the parkway of our street were starting to turn yellow and red and I thought now might be the right time to share a lesson I learned a few years ago.  

I’m not a fall person.  I’m a summer girl.  I love everything about it.  The flip flops, the sundresses, the warmth, the sun, the general happiness in the air.  If I could live in summer year round I would do in a heart beat.  I don’t really get people who need seasons.  I’d be perfectly happy in San Diego.  Except that all my people are in the Midwest.

And in the Midwest we have fall.  And people here love fall for some reason.  I don’t get it, but without fail the Tuesday after Labor day brings out The Autumns.  The Autumns love fall, love Pumpkin Spice Lattes and boots, and most of all love reveling in the end of summer because it means fall is coming. 

And I don’t get it.

Once at a dinner party one of The Autumns started on about his excitement for fall and I kind of lost it.  “How can you like fall????  Fall is death.  Everyone goes on and on about how beautiful fall is but all those leaves are changing colors because they are dying!  Fall is just one slow death!” 

Later, he confessed to me that all fall he couldn’t look at the beautiful trees without thinking about death.

I felt kind of bad about that one.  I mean, I pretty much ruined an entire season for him.  It was not my finest moment.

This year, on this side of death, I anticipated feeling extra scroogey towards fall.  I’ve lived in the thick of winter for close to a year now and I didn’t need all those leaves changing color and reminding me of dying.  I have enough reminders.

But something funny happened this year.  I don’t know if it was because we had a particularly beautiful fall, or if it was precisely because I am on this side of death, having experienced it so intimately this year, but I found myself marveling at the beauty of fall these past few months.  I couldn’t help myself.  I’d be out walking with the kids and a tree would literally take my breath away.  Drives around town were fraught with  beautiful colors and trees in full bloom.  

I felt guilty at first.  I tried to shove down this acknowledgement of fall’s beauty.  But it kept coming.  I couldn’t stop marveling.   There was something about those beautiful trees.  It was like death wasn’t going down without a fight.  Yes, the leaves were dying and falling away, but they were going to die beautifully, damnit.  They weren’t going quietly.  They weren’t about to leave without bringing a final bit of beauty into the world.

Which of course made me think of my dad’s death.  When I looked, I saw the beauty in it.  His death was traumatic and shocking and so very painful.  But there was beauty, damnit.  There was beauty in the community of people who showed up and loved us immediately after his death and continued to care for us throughout this year.  There was beauty in the way it knit us closer.  And there was so much beauty in the tributes made to my dad.  For weeks after his death people told his stories, the stories of his beautiful life, the things that they loved about him and the ways that he had lived a good story.  It was death that wasn’t going down without a fight.  The beauty of his life wasn’t going away untold. 

And it’s in our love for him.  Our love for him and the ways we carry him with us and try to keep him alive bears witness to this notion of death not going down without a fight.  We speak his name and tell his stories so that in his death, his life still blooms boldly.  His legacy and his love is so deeply embedded in our hearts that he will not die quietly.  There is beauty and color in remembering him and what was so wonderful about his life.

And so maybe I’m changing my mind about fall.  Maybe I’m finding some beauty in the dying.  Or rather I respect the beauty in the dying.  We all die right?  But our legacies, our life’s work.  That’s not going down without a fight, without a final bloom of beautiful.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Great Closet Clean Out

A few weeks ago after the kids were all in bed my friend Charity came over to help me with a project.  My wardrobe needed a complete, top to bottom rehab. 

Since I got pregnant with Lou in August of 2013 my body has gone through the ringer.  It’s been three years straight of growing with pregnancy, shrinking much more slowly than I’d like, growing again and shrinking again (even more slowly, of course).  All while breastfeeding, the needs of which do not lend themselves to all clothes equally.  For the last three years I’ve worn whatever was comfortable, whatever fit in my in-between sizing states, and whatever allowed me to whip a boob out at a moment’s notice.  This mostly looked like wearing yoga leggings and oversized tops.

I’m pretty much done with breastfeeding and I’ve come to terms with the fact that as much “baby weight” that’s going to come off post Rory has departed; this is my body now.  As I mentioned before, my closet was a weird combination of clothes I wish would fit me, clothes I bought right after I had babies that were weird fitting, and clothes that I never wear because I don’t know how or what to wear them with.  I’m tired of feeling frumpy at school pick up, tired of wearing stained, hole-y clothes because nothing else fits and this is the only white tee shirt I have left.  So it was time to go through each article of clothing and make a decision: keep or toss.  

Prior to Charity’s arrival I’d spent a few days pre-purging.  I got rid of everything that I was stained or had holes and the things that I knew just really didn’t fit/look good. By the time she arrived that evening I was ready to blow up my whole closet and start from scratch, so I was surprised with how much I ended up keeping when it was all said and done.  But of course that is the genius of my friend Charity-she has a keen eye for how to wear things and the most encouraging spirit in the world.  

Here are the things I learned in The Great Closet Clean Out:

Often just adding a different shoe changed a whole outfit from tosser to keeper.  
There were so many things I assumed would end up in the “donate” pile that wound up in my closet purely because of the shoes Charity told me to try them with.  I have a pair of loose, printed summery pants I didn’t wear all summer.  Charity paired them with my wedge booties and they will now live to see the fall.  The fall!  These were unflattering summer pants only in my mind and suddenly with a heel they are chic and awesome printed pants that will be making an appearance all fall.  I had a pair of old pumas that I was certain were on their way out that are now going to be worn with a number of different outfits in coming weeks.  I don’t think much about shoes when I buy clothes or plan outfits but this experience taught me that shoes can make our break an outfit.

You need good basics. 
We discovered in The Great Closet Clean Out that I was long on funky or “interesting” pieces but very short on basics which was preventing me from wearing all those interesting pieces.  This is ironic because I told Charity when she arrived that I’d been living in the suburbs for too long and my wardrobe was boring.  Back in my NYC days I’d been a little bolder when it came to wearing clothes.  Everyone was a walking canvas in New York when it came to fashion-you would stick out if you didn’t try a few funky pieces from time to time.  I missed wearing clothes that were a little unique.  I felt like I was wearing the same combination of yoga pants and cotton tops, and everything else in my closet was unwearable or weird.  Charity helped me realize I had all the unique pieces, but they needed some basics to make them wearable.

It’s ok to hang on to clothes for sentimental reasons.
There were a few pieces in my closet that carried a story.  The green skirt I bought at a flea market the summer I worked in NYC during college and was wearing when Tommy knew he wanted to date me, a white skirt with embroidered flowers I purchased in Ireland during my study abroad year, a pair of pants Tommy had bought me when we were first dating.  Some of these things had been ill-fitting over the years, or wavered between fashionable or not, but I held on to them because they carried a beloved story.  I was pretty sure my time with Charity was going to be the push I needed to finally say good-bye, but instead she was a champion in encouraging me to put them in the keep pile.  She helped me find ways to wear some of them, convincing me that the clothes looked good and not, as some of them were, almost 12 years old.  She championed the notion that clothing with history is important.  Since then I’ve worn an orange skirt with beautiful embroidered flowers and delicate beadwork twice, each time remembering my favorite little boutique in New York and my early days dating Tommy.  And I put aside a few pieces that no longer fit great to hand down to the girls.  Maybe someday they’ll love the blue, velvety flair pants that their dad picked out when we were first dating.  Or maybe I’ll just love telling the story.   Either way I’m thankful she persuaded me to save a few pieces for sentimental reasons and helped me freshen them up.

Be ruthless about what comes and goes
I had to get real strict when it came to getting rid of stuff.  My favorite shirt with the hole?  Time to say good bye.  Those pants I spent too much on, but look terrible on me?  Sorry you’re gone.  Anything that fits weird? Out.  I’m learning that I’m super picky about how clothes feel on my body.  If I find myself thinking about my clothes all day, adjusting them or pulling on them because I can feel them on me I’m less likely to wear them again.  I got rid of a lot of great clothes that weren’t great for me.  And from now on I’m going to be equally ruthless about what I buy.  No more shopping online at stores that are difficult to make returns.  No more clothes that I only sorta like but bought because they were cheap.  I want to build my wardrobe with good quality necessities from now on.  

It’s not just about getting dressed to get dressed.
Thanks to the great closet clean out I’m excited about getting dressed again.  There’s a creative element to it for me and I really do feel more confident when I walk out the door.  I’m learning that it’s not shallow to care about what you wear because it really does do something inside of you.  I have a different energy and a different “I got this” attitude.  I don’t know why exactly, but I know that by clearing out all the things I owned that didn’t make me feel confident to wear and reworking what was left, getting dressed is easier in the morning and I feel better all day.  

And lastly…. At the end of the day, who cares?  Just try something bold

I bought overalls.  Yeah I did.  I have long loved overalls and when they started coming back around in the last few years I wanted desperately to try them out again.  I found a pair for $12 at Von Maur that actually looked cute on me and I knew I had to try it.  For $12 I could take that fashion risk.  And friends I love them.  It makes an average Friday chasing around my kids so much more fun.  What’s fashion risk are you secretly dying to try?  Just do it.  I don’t think you’ll regret it!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Parenting for the Long Game

I’ve been thinking a lot about parenting for the long game lately.  I have a few friends with boys who turned 5 this summer.  All of them chose to wait until next year to send their boys to kindergarten.  I was chatting with one of my friends, marveling about how articulate her son was, how well he was writing his letters.  I asked if she thought about sending him straight to first grade if he did really well in pre-K.

“Ugh,” she replied. “It’s so hard.  I’m not worried about his readiness for school this year.  It’s in a few years, when he’s eight and the work gets harder, or middle school when he’s not as developed as the other kids, and high school when he’s seventeen and trying to decide on colleges, or even going to college when he’s still seventeen.  In the short term he’d probably be fine, but I’m trying to make this decision with the long game in mind.”

I was so struck by the wisdom of that.  Because the short game- start school now!- is pretty tempting.  Who doesn’t want to get their kids in kindergarten?  But to think about the effects of this decision twelve years from now?  That’s not necessarily something I do every day.  I’m not saying all kids with August birthdays should be kept back a year; every kid is different and every parent’s decision is personal.  I was more struck by the long term thinking involved in her decision, the fact that she was thinking about the long game.

I wonder what other decisions I am making now that have long term consequences I’m not considering?  Or what things I need to deal with now so that they aren’t bigger problems later?  I’ve long maintained that when it comes to parenting I can pay now, or I can pay later and the cost is usually greater further down the road.  The older kids get the more set in their ways and issues in general are easiest when I deal with them early on.

So much of parenting has more to do with the long game than the short.  It’s tempting to do what is easiest for the short what makes things better in the moment.  And somedays all you can do is think in terms of the short game- the long run can get overwhelming when you just want to survive the moment without murdering anyone.

But I’m trying to parent more with the long game in mind.  I’m thinking about what values I want to instill in my kids now that will come in handy later.  What character traits do I hope they have when they are fifteen?  What temperament things are going to be important when they are driving or making crucial life decisions?  What decisions do I need to make with my eye on life ten years from now?  

It’s just something to keep in the back of my mind, an awareness of what’s down the road, how my decisions will play out for my tween and teen-aged kids.  I’m paying attention to my friend’s wisdom about the long game and our kids.