Tag Archives: Reading

Into it.

Morning, chickens!

I’m a couple weeks into it now, and I’m you know, getting after it.

My greatest accomplishment every day is getting my kids safely and on-time (ish) to daycare every day, where A does magical things like teach Boo what Saturn is and get Ellie on a schedule after only two days.

If ever there was a woman with a calling, it is her.

Meanwhile, I’m fumbling around trying to figure out how to get through all the Mom-ing and the working and trying to have one conversation with JW a day that doesn’t involve Fireman Sam, but it is still a funny, beautiful stage of life and I don’t mind too much that my little baby likes to eat four times a night when I would like to be sleeping.

Last night, JW and I had a conversation (not about Fireman Sam!) about the corner desk in our living room that we’re thinking of moving because the expensive, unnecessary computer that we bought when we were 24 and couldn’t afford it is broken.

I’m glad we’re moving it before Christmas, I said. Because we would have had a fight over where to put the Christmas tree, since the desk is in its spot.

Jon looked at me, puzzled, which unfortunately is the way I think he’s gotten used to sizing up his wife’s next move, but I can’t help it.

The fight would have gone like this. I would have said, where should I put the Christmas tree, and you would have said, Nik, I don’t know, the desk is there. I then would have looked at you and said, well we need to put up the Christmas tree, and you would have said, I don’t know what you want me to do. And then I would have just looked at you.

By this point he was at least laughing.

Then you would have moved the desk. But I’m glad we get to avoid that fight.

It’s the little things you guys.

Also up this week: Cubs, Cubs Cubs! (Sorry, Bears, I just can’t right now), wondering if it’s ever going to cool down into fall weather (and knowing I’ll regret wishing it so when it finally does) and giving up on all my current library books, returning them, and starting over with The NestBabies do me a lot of good, chicks, but they also make me momentarily illiterate and I’m over it. I’ll report back, and sorry, pile of books that never got read this summer. It’s not you, it’s me (it’s Ellie).


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Filed under Chicago, Did I really do that?, Weather

racking up wins and good advice

You guys, I am so sick of the cold and the rain hanging around in Chicago this week.

Can we please, please move on to summer, right now please?

Thank you for your consideration, weather gods.

This week I’ve had the following parenting wins: I reasoned with Boo to eat one more bite of dinner in exchange for dessert and it worked, I think I have almost taught him to excuse himself from the table instead of just shouting “THEO DONE!” and launching himself from his chair whilst covered in crumbs, and while we were accidentally co-sleeping the other night, he asked me for a pillow while still mostly asleep and mumbled thank you mama when I gave it to him.

He also has screamed into my belly (I imagine trying to rile up his sister), insisted on reading the same book 87 times in a row, and demanded to use very specific cutlery in order to eat his dinner, but you guys, it’s all give and take, I think.


In other news, I’m reading Cory Booker’s United: Thoughts on Finding Common Ground and Advancing the Common Good and obviously I love it because I love him and his attitude and his dedication to service and that he really is always helping people, but my favorite parts so far are when he passes on advice from his dad.

Thanks for sharing your dad, Senator.

My very favorite quote so far is this one:

“No matter what the circumstances, you exercise your power, you demonstrate your worth when you decide how to react, how to act in the face of it all. If the world punches you in the gut that doesn’t define you; what you do next, that speaks your truth.”

Man, I could use that one to fall back on about 37 times a day.

Good thing I’ve got it now.

Enjoy this one chickens- let’s all hope for a little sunshine!



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Filed under Chicago, Good Reads, Reflections

reading into it.

Ok, so it looks like I’m not getting that much better about making time for this little corner of my world, but you guys, I do the best I can.

Luckily, I get a new shot at it every day, and so today, I win.

I’m blogging over at GMS today (about pork chops, so please, check it out- they’re delicious).

Other things I need to talk to you about:

I’m on a big fat reading streak right now, and I love it. Did you guys ever join the library summer reading clubs (says the girl who last week admitted to her coworkers that she once attended math camp. Let’s talk about that another time, though.)?

I did, obviously, until I was too old and they likely kicked me out, but I loved nothing more than the paper cut outs with my book count that were taped to the walls of the library.

So this summer, since Theo’s over one, and so I’m feeling like a normal human again (I am warning you chickens, you are crazy the first year of your child’s life, and I mean that in the best possible way), I’m picking up SO MANY BOOKS and I’m loving every second. It feels nostalgic, and so I’m sharing with all of you. Here’s what I’ve got, in scatterbrained categories that likely don’t make sense.

France and WWII (Otherwise known as great stories that depress me)

All the Light We Cannot See- This was excellent, and despite being rather long, I got through it in about a week. It’s about a blind girl and her family, and how she tries to navigate a dark time in history despite all the despair surrounding her. This one was very, very hard on me, but the writing was beautiful and there is something very interesting about trying to picture the world through the eyes of a blind girl.

The Paris Architect- This one made me feel slightly better about humanity, but was still a little rough. I mean, it’s occupied France in WWII, and so you just have to roll with what happened. Spoiler Alert: It wasn’t good. This one’s about an architect who finds himself entangled in a dangerous plot to save Jews. He’s no hero- far from it. Instead, he’s thinking only of the business he’ll bring in from the Germans and the money he stands to make as a result of his risk. Unsurprisingly, things get complicated and he gets involved emotionally. This one’s a thriller, and it was also a page turner.

The Nightingale- I’m only a hundred pages into this one, but it’s about two sisters and their attempt to survive in their French village during WWII. Their relationship is tenuous at best, and they struggle to see eye to eye about the best way to keep themselves and their family safe during the war. I like this one because the writing’s easy (it’s summer, remember?) and I like when seemingly simple situations present themselves as grayer upon inspection. I’ll be finished with this by Friday, I know it.

The Neapolitan Novels

There are three of these (with one on the way), and I’m only through two, but I love them. Set in the 50s and 60s in Naples, they’re basically well written soap operas about a girl named Elena, her friend Lina, and their various adventures in and out of “the neighborhood.” These books cover love, fighting (nothing like a fist fight to solve some problems), scandals, pride, and coming of age, all in the best possible way. They’re glimpses into what it was like to live in poor Southern Italy during the post WWII era, which was very different from most of the depictions of the time I’ve read about (probably because mine have been mostly shiny and Eisenhower-y). My dear friend CM recommended them, seconded by my pal MC, and now I’m on a campaign to get everyone to read them. They’ll hold you, I promise.

My Brilliant Friend

The Story of a New Name

Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay

Other Things I’m Sniffing Out

Not into them yet, but here are some other highly recommended things I have on my nightstand: The Boys in the Boat, Dead Wake, Greatand The House of the Spirits.

Find a corner and curl up, chickens, there’s a lot of reading to do. Anyone else have something I should get on my list?

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Filed under Good Reads

running loops and turning pages.

What’s up, chickadillos?

I’m still on the running circuit. Yesterday I had to run twenty minutes IN A ROW which is a very long time for me at the moment. It was very difficult but I completed it with only minimal treadmill grasping and heavy breathing. I would like to thank Carly Rae Jepson for that. Throughout my jog, I kept hearing 24-year old NP giving me shit, until finally it became clear to me that she was really kind of an over achieving bitch (I mean, I don’t blame her: we all get a little bitchy sometimes) and then nearly-31-year old Nikki was able to finish up and call it a victory simply because I was still standing.

So there’s that.

Other things going on around these parts: Boo is standing on every single thing, which is making life very interesting and also very dangerous, but we’re working through that.


I’m also deep into a very long list of books I’d like to read. I’m currently sort of towards the end of Yes Please by Amy Poehler, which is making me laugh on the train: a success. One of my favorite little nuggets so far is on careers (a topic I think people my age just get stuck thinking about maybe more than they’d like): Your career won’t take care of you. It won’t call you back or introduce you to its parents. Your career will openly flirt with other people while you are around. It will forget your birthday and wreck your car. Your career will blow you off if you call it to much. It’s never going to leave its wife.

So weird, and yet, I totally get it.

Next up: This is Where I Leave You, of which I’ve heard mixed things but need to check out myself anyway.


I’ll keep you posted. Keep it easy, chickens.

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Filed under Good Reads, Running

and the circle, it goes round and round

Morning, chickens.

And again, my apologies for being flaky lately.

There are so many things I want to share with you, such as:

1. Theo’s five months old today. I can’t decide if I’m all like “time flies” or like “I can’t believe you’ve only been part of our lives for five months.” Instead, let us simply look at the evidence of this adorable little guy who we’re lucky to call our son.



2. This past weekend we celebrated: Jennie’s wedding, Theo’s baptism (my best friends J&C served as godparents, which means they’re officially in our little family even though who cares about being official when you love people that much), my grandparents’ anniversary, and my nephew Sam’s first birthday.

It was a whirlwind celebration that reminds me how grateful I should be every single day just for waking up, breathing, and existing in the life I’ve got. Here are the oldest and the youngest people in my family, since I can’t fit all the people I loved this weekend in one little frame.


At Theo’s christening, there were five little kids receiving the sacrament, and when it was our turn, I walked up to the font and looked down and man, there were a lot of people there to celebrate my baby (almost embarrassing, but you know me. No sense of shame). And you know what, no matter what I do or don’t think about the Catholic church, that was a lesson in what an amazing tribe T has. That’s the picture I would have liked to take from that day.

3. I’m in Denver this week (one night only) for my first work trip away from Theo. And it’s not so terrible, except that nothing is as fun as hanging out with him and I wish I was doing that instead.

Also, I packed lightly, which means my only extra shirt of course has some kind of weird coffee stain on it I didn’t notice before I left.

My outfit is questionable. I’m hoping people are kind (but not caring too much if they’re not).

4. I’m a reading machine this summer. After T was born, I was exhausted and nervous about taking care of a baby, so I filled any empty moments with episodes of I Love Lucy instead of reading (I do not regret this decision, for the record), and I worried that I would never love reading again.

Said the girl who once devoted a diary entry to the injustice of a canceled book fair.

Anyway, I’m back at it now, thanks to a new mobile app from the library and one million titles I’d like to read. My most recent accomplishments: Delicious by Ruth Reichl (into it, even if it was a little cheesy), My Name is Memory (my cousin Shelly recommended it to me, and it’s by the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants lady, and it was a good love and life story),  Salt, Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us (this made me want to forage for nuts and seeds, but in a good way), and Eleanor and Park (a YA book about the 80s and tough families and love, and I adored it).

This is just a sampling, but man, you guys, I’m overwhelmed by all the things I want to read. WHAT ELSE should be on my list?

5. I’m going to do better at writing. So many hysterical nuggets have been happening around here, and I better capture them now, I think.

And with that, I’m off to dry my hair and compose myself as someone who’s not headed to meetings in a questionable outfit.

Something things never change, chickadees.

Enjoy this one!



Filed under Uncategorized

summer pages.

Chickens, I admit that I fell asleep watching The West Wing at 8:15 last night.

To be fair, Theo set the tone of the evening by passing out at 6:30, so it was just an early one for us.

I also admit to you that I’m listening to Raffi sing about bath time making him feel like a baby whale louder than I should be this morning.

It’s a new life I live in, chickadees.

I don’t hate it.

Theo’s currently gumming a whale rattle in his crib, so basically, everything’s right in the world.


So I’ve dug into my pile of summer reading on the train, and I’ve already finished The Good Daughters by Joyce Maynard.

I started in on Maynard’s Labor Day and have making my way through all of her books. I’m in this weird place (or have been, for a couple of years) where I start in on a topic obsessively, like Theodore Roosevelt or the last Russian Tsar, and when I finally come up for breath I’m exhausted.

So this summer, I’m trying to take a few pauses for fiction in between. I like the way Maynard writes, good and fiction-y without complicated sentence structure or plots that are too chick-lit-ish for me. The characters are messed up, but you can relate.

I mean, I can relate.

They only take me a couple of days to race through though, so by mid-week, I’m onto my next venture, which is Sugar, Salt, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us. I have a feeling I know what’s coming, since it’s about the industrialization of food in America and how the major food companies are woven tightly into it and we can all guess how this ends, but it’s a good reminder to stay away from the processed options even though I’m busy and have to be in bed by 8:30.

I’ll keep you posted, chicks.

What’s everyone else got on their list this summer? I’m looking to round out my “to read” shelf on Goodreads!

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Filed under Good Reads

everything’s rising to the top

Morning, chickens!

I’m eagerly awake this morning, awaiting the temperature climb that everyone’s been promising me for days.

T and I have some serious time to spend outside, should this weather actually show its face.

Yesterday was a good sign, which meant a long walk to the library with my mom and the baby in the sunshine.

Also, Theo attended his first session of book club at our pal MC’s, which involved snacks, white wine, wedding chat, baby questions, life updates, and not really one single sentence about books.

This happens sometimes, and does not make me love book club one smidge less.

Plus, I’ve got a pretty significant pile-up of books right now, so literary recommendations can wait until next month.

Things really have a way of working themselves out.

Up today: warm weather, T meets the woman at daycare who will be hanging with him while I’m at work (the fact that I love her and that she’s Tobin-approved is really making this all much easier), and I hunker down with a stack of thank you cards and dive right back into The Bully Pulpitbecause I have promised myself I’ll finish this latest T. Roosevelt volume before I go back to the world of work and public transit (note: 700 page books on the El are considered obnoxious…and heavy).

Also- waiting for my sleepy infant to wake up from his new favorite spot to snooze in the morning (in my bed, with a blanket, on his side: all the things he’s not allowed to do, the kid’s a rebel):

photo (23)

This is going to be a good one chickens, I can feel it.

Enjoy the sunshine if you’ve got it.

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Filed under Chicago, Good Reads, Good times

turning new pages.

Morning, chickens!

T and I are relaxing on this thunder-ish morning, which means Raffi Pandora until Theo fell asleep for an early morning nap.

You guys, I’m pretty excited that I now have a good excuse to listen to as many children’s folk songs as I want to without feeling weird about it.

Not that I really felt bad about it before.


Today, aside from one more good day of visiting with my grandma, it’s book club night.

As previously mentioned, my friends and I abandoned the idea of actually making everyone read the same book, because it turns out that we were pretty bad at that.

Instead, we gather at someone’s apartment, open up bottles of wine and boxes of crackers, and tell each other what we’ve been reading over the last month and why we did or didn’t like it.

Kind of like a live Goodreads.

With wine and without the Internet, so, better.

This month, I’m affirming a couple of things that were recommended to me, but I’m also mentioning the latest book I read, which has made me feel some feelings, but admittedly, I liked it. I submit to you, tiny beautiful things Advice on love and life from Dear Sugar.


This book suggestion was actually given to me by my pal AB when I ran into her on the el right before T came along. She said it might be good at this point in my life because it’s essentially a book of advice columns, so it’s broken into short, sweet little bursts.

She was totally right. Dear Sugar is an advice columnist from The Rumpus, an online publication, and this book is a collection of her thoughts on readers’ love and life issues. She deals with heavy things and light ones, and her writing style makes it feel like you’re chatting with a friend (an intense, sage friend, but a friend nonetheless). This one, which I found online, was one of my favorites (note: it’s explicit, and might make you feel uncomfortable).

Dear Sugar,

WTF, WTF, WTF? I’m asking this question as it applies to everything every day.


In any case, if you’re looking for something that’s not-a-novel and also not-Russian-revolution-history (which is where I was), this is a good pick.

And with that, I’m off to get this one started.

Enjoy the sunshine if you’ve got it, chickadees, and send some my way while you’re at it.


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Filed under Good Reads

tearing through titles one day at a time

So yesterday was the first of many Theo-NP days home alone, and chickens, I am here to say that the piglet (nicknamed for his inability to eat without snorting) and I survived the day.

I still don’t know how to take a nap.

One thing at a time.

I spent the day watching Roseanne (you know, for tips on how to be hilarious and in poverty, now that we have a kid- a field study, if we want to be formal about it), making lists, organizing spreadsheets, reading, and running around doing errands when Theo gave me a break by doing this:



We also took a walk to meet JW after work- might as well get our steps in before the snow starts up again (note: I am hoping that the snow is not actually starting up again).

Up today: making a dent in my library books (on my shelf: Labor Day, After Her, and Tiny beautiful things : advice on love and life from Dear Sugar), holding Theo as long as he lets me, and trying to figure out what other pieces of our life that I can organize into a Google document.

Spring can’t come fast enough for us over here, chickadees.


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Filed under Good Reads, Reflections

thumbing through pages

Morning, chickens!

Over here at Casa Palluzzi-Wagenschutz, we’re catching up on sleep and binge-watching How I Met Your Mother, since I have somehow gone the last several years without watching any of it.

Don’t judge me, just be glad I’m catching up.

Aside from staring at our baby (really, you can’t help it), entertaining Theo’s admirers, and eating our bounty of delicious food sent from our friends and family, I’ve been furiously trying to finish a book before it’s due at the library.

My friends all told me that I should pick up The Goldfinchwhich everyone keeps talking about. The library finally delivered it into my paws a couple days before my due date, and despite no one being able to really tell me what it was about, I was assured that I would love it, and so I spent a few hours, including my first night of contractions, reading a book about a teenager who loses his mother tragically and ends up on all sorts of (fairly terrible but also exciting) adventures.


Bonus points because the main character of the book is named Theo.

However, I hope my Theo keeps himself out of these kinds of adventures in his teenage years.

He’s focused on the storybook genre for now, anyway.


In any case, if length doesn’t scare you (this one is about eight hundred pages, but it moves, fast, even for a sleep-deprived new mom), I’d suggest picking it up. It’s a good story, it changes pace quickly, and it’s very well-written.

Enjoy this sunshine, chickens, Spring is on its way, I know it.


Filed under Good Reads