Diary from an uncertain time

Friends, I’m not sure I have anything new to offer that hasn’t already been said. Everyone I know is worried about something – aging parents, incomes or sudden lack of incomes, those working in health care or grocery stores, isolation, parenting, you name it.

I have found some spots of humor. Who knew I would be talking to my parents about how many rolls of toilet paper they have?

I’m working from home, Eddie’s business is closed, the kids are home. Our new cat, Freddy, is loving the family time. (It’s a good time to have a new pet.) Sweet highs and hard lows give the day a rhythm.


One of the highlights of our week: Freddy got on the bed! He’s on the left, Lion is in the middle, Max is on the right. 🙂 

Technology – the thing I’m usually fighting about with my kids – has been helpful. Max and Calvin had a Zoom chat with their bell choir yesterday – they loved reconnecting with these friends.

I let Max FaceTime and play a game with another friend. Listening to their conversation while I was working was hilarious.

“Should we make these two horses have a baby?” I head Max say.

Our neighborhood kids are doing a daily LEGO challenge and texting the images to each other through the parents. I connected with two friends on a Zoom chat. It’s all helping.

I’m posting more on my Instagram channel @DistractedbyFashionCincy for a fun…distraction.

Now for the books

The day our libraries closed, Calvin and I went to our branch in its last hour. Was this smart? I don’t know. I wiped off all the books with Clorox wipes. They were already not accepting returns as that point.


Our last library hall. Lint Boy is one of our favorites. 

Reading has always soothed me. Since things shut down, I’ve read The Dutch House by Ann Patchett. (My book club met her once, yes we did.) I’m currently reading and liking This Will Only Hurt A Little by Busy Phillips. It’s one of the books I picked up on our library dash – it’s fun, a good distraction, and has serious moments.

My kids are making their way through their own books again. Calvin is revisiting favorites like Be Prepared by Vera Brogsol and Smile by Raina Telgemeier (Calvin and saw her in the fall.) Max is rereading the Wimpy Kids series by Jeff Kinney.

What are you reading?

If you’re up to it, send me your thoughts. I’d love to share in this space. Trashy novels, kids books, magazines, let me know.

Buying books?

If you are in the market for books right now, Downbound Books (a lovely new store) is closed but selling. Read the owner’s statement, Bummer Camp.

 Joseph-Beth and Carmichael’s are both shipping books.


Another kid on my pink bed. This one is reading Big Nate’s Greatest Hits. And his sweatshirt is coordinating with the decor. 





Graphic novels are real books

My friend Michael says Raina Telgemeier’s books grow with age. He’s referring to the spines that crack and pages that expand with each reading.

Her graphic novels are reread because they are that good! She shares stories of her own childhood/teen years that are relatable and entertaining. Challenges with siblings, friends, dentists…it’s all there.

Calvin and agree that Ghosts, is our favorite. It  deals with moving, ancestors and a delicious Day of the Dead story.

We recently saw Raina when Joseph-Beth Booksellers brought her to town to discuss her new book Guts. Calvin had been anticipating the release of this book for months.


Calvin and our friend, Iris. (Her dad is Michael and he introduced Raina at the event.)

Hearing her talk about her journey and books was a treat ­– for me. I think Calvin liked it. He had his head in the new book most of the time. I would nudge him from time to time but since he was content, I mostly left him alone. He was too busy devouring the book.

I loved what Raina had to say to her young fans (and old) about books.

“Graphic novels are real reading,” Raina said. “They have all the elements of a book.”

She also mentioned that reading makes you feel less alone – so true!


We went to the event with our friend, Stella! She’s a connoisseur of graphic novels and told us about Raina’s visit.

A few weeks later, my niece Margot and I had a great discussion about Guts and Raina’s other books. It was like an aunt-niece book club!

It’s not the first time Calvin and Margot have enjoyed the same books – revisit one of my old blog posts, Kissing cousins and being weird is cool.

And check out Raina Telgemeier!


Batman serves barbeque out of a truck

I’ve been craving art projects since the boys arrived. When they were about 20 months old, I loaded them up in their wagon, wheeled them down to CVS and bought crayons and paper. We got home, set up shop on the front porch, and they chewed on the crayons.

Mark Todd's Bubba Q truck in Food Trucks!

Mark Todd’s Bubba Q truck in Food Trucks!

Now they like art and crafts but not always when I suggest/demand/beg to do it. You know when you daydream about something but the reality is different? That’s parenting. In my fantasy life, it was making pancakes on the weekends, cuddling, reading books, and making art. These things do happen but in between a lot of crying, whining, gross things having to do with the bathroom, and fights. And I’m just talking about myself.

You can imagine my delight when Food Trucks! by Mark Todd inspired an art project. My boys got it at the library, finding it an awesome combination of transportation, food, and signs.

We talked about the food trucks we visited during our Michigan vacation. (Petoskey/Walloon Lake/Paradise) Then we discussed how Dada loved barbeque. This evolved into a lovely Saturday morning, “let’s make a craft in our PJs” event. Using a superhero shoebox, we made a barbeque truck. Calvin was in charge of the signs – open, order, cash only, pick up – Max got out the superheroes for workers. Check it out – Batman is working it.

Batman gets to work.

Batman gets to work.

Each page of the book focuses on a different truck and includes trivia about food. The crazy facts appeal to my boys. They like being amazed by the size of things, for example, “the biggest falafel in the world was over 155 pounds.”

Of course they fought over the ownership of the truck later. And there was a skirmish among the workers. Superheroes and Lego people can’t work together. I guess it’s a different union.


This customer is getting impatient.

This customer is getting impatient.

Where to find the book and other info
We got our copy at the Clifton Branch of The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. Cincinnati bookseller Joseph-Beth sells it. Powell’s City of Books sells it.  Mark Todd sells it and other cool books on his website. Try Cincinnati bookseller Blue Manatee Children’s books and decafe.

This is my first post. Find out more about me in the About section of this blog.