The Winter (and a Little Spring) of My Discontent: Brief Thoughts on 16 Books

Inspired to serve as a model for my older daughters, whom I have urged to keep a reading log, and perhaps feeling beholden to correct my own hypocrisy, below are my brief and very informal thoughts on the books I have read from January to April 2017. Intensely painful back and hip problems have limited my activity the past four months, especially the last month, and I found reading to be even more of a pleasure than usual, so the books added up quickly. The insights of other writers have helped me to select books, beyond just goodreads, so that was another reason to try to record my own, for myself if not maybe for others, and not linger too much as I usually do on the editing part.

The books I read in this period are varied in length and genre and tone – from historical fiction to contemporary fiction to biographies to memoir/novel hybrids, with settings as varied as 17th century Ghana and present day La Jolla, California. Continue reading


We lost our beloved Estelle Lana Pastarnack – Stelly or Nana to many – on July 6, 2016.IMG_0889

She was an outspoken and strong woman who loved red lipstick that left a telltale mark when she kissed your cheek. She loved designer shoes – especially if they were discounted at Loehmanns. She adored “making parties” and fur coats. She also could not resist a good hot dog, no matter what diet she was on.

Most of all she loved her four children, ten grandchildren, four great grandchildren, her nieces and nephews and her friends.
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They Still Believe

I wrote the below three Christmases ago for “Parentlode” at the Huffington Post.  My twins were on the cusp of Kringledoubt.  I expected, when I wrote this, that by now, at ten years old, the Santa expiration date I talk about would have long past.  It has not.  I post their Christmas lists at the end.


Santa Claus has an expiration date. Every parent who has introduced Santa Claus to their kids knows this. You get a few good years and then the doubts start creeping in. Other kids at school are usually the catalysts in this process, which seeps through school lunchrooms with the first signs of frost every year. Usually it’s the hand-me-down scoffings of older siblings. Sometimes, however, it’s an axiom discovered through a child’s deduction alone. Continue reading

The Long View of Working Parenthood

Last week I had the fortune of being interviewed by Dr. Portia Jackson of for her podcast.  We  had a lot of fun talking about challenges and successes.  I talked about treating each child as an individual, which can be a challenge with twins.  (This article in Time about twins and gifted programs resonated with me as we submit our applications for public middle school this week – yes, applications because we have no zoned school.) Continue reading