April Reviews

The best thing about April ending is that now summer seems very real.... and awesome. So awesome. In the meantime, I'll keep reading. April was a very productive month on the literary front- I cranked out six books and over 1,500 pages. It wasn't a slow month at work or home, either, so I'm not sure how this miracle happened. I've been trying to waste less time on my phone lately (partly because the battery is going bad) and have been reading for the first ten or fifteen minutes of my lunch break, too, so that probably has helped. And, to be honest, I didn't read the most challenging books this month. And there's been quite a bit of non-fiction in there too, so perhaps I read that faster-? Whatever the reason, here we go:

Gulp by Mary Roach
327 pages
I reviewed this already here.

Antigone by Sophocles
50 pages
This was a reread for work. You know the story: Antigone, daughter of Oedipus, decides to give her brother a proper burial, all the while defying her Uncle Creon. My students were wondering why she and her siblings weren't a little, like deformed, since their mom was their grandma. I hope they took away more form the play than just that...

Verdict: It was better than I remembered!

In the Best Interest of Students by Kelly Gallagher
210 pages
I reviewed this earlier here.

Phenomenal by Leigh Ann Henion
275 pages
Been there, done that.

Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham
362 pages 
This is what happens when I read a lot of non-fiction. Read my thoughts here.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
336 pages
Rachel is an infertile alcoholic that has lost her husband, job, and dignity. As part of the weak facade she attempts to maintain, she heads into London every day on the train, where she used to work. While doing so, she passes by her old house (where her ex, his new wife, and their baby live) and a home down the road that she has made up an idealistic fantasy about the inhabitants. The woman goes missing one day, and the case ends up bringing everyone together... for the worst.

Verdict: This was good... for a mystery. I believe that it's really hard to write a mystery novel- it's so easy to fall prey to formulas. I figured out who "dunnit" about half way through, so there is a predictably factor that brings down my overall opinion. But still better than a lot of the pulpy mass-market paperback mysteries out there. 

total: 1,560 pages

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

It's that time again. Link up, link back. I may actually have time to come visit blogs and *gasp* comment on them this weekend.

1. Let's add Mother's Circus Animal Cookies (you know, the pink and white ones) to the list of things I have no control over eating. I've stopped buying "snacky junk food" but these were on sale at Target, plus on Cartwheel. Oh, and Mini Nilla Wafers. They make an excellent cereal, in case you need options. And I think both would make excellent add-ins for homemade ice cream.

2. I'm taking Sawyer to our annual IB Celebration tonight, which is pretty much asking for a total clusterfuck, pardon my language. I really want to go, but I don't want to have to deal with having someone watch him (seriously, I'd rather actually go out to like a kid-free dinner and movie or something equally as crazy if I'm going to have someone take the time to babysit), so armed with a disgusting amount of Cheerios and Goldfish we're trying to get in an hour.

3. I'm currently reading The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. The story is pretty entertaining and the writing is good, for a mystery, anyway. After reading a ton of non-fiction lately and being occupied with other things, it's a good fit.

4. I hope there's no such thing as reincarnation. 

5. I want this:

[to lazy to crop]

6. I hate it when you text or email someone this big huge diatribe and they respond back with like five words. NO. UNACCEPTABLE. I just gave you all these thoughts and you are barely giving my one in return. Rude. 

7. Sawyer's birthday party went well. The biggest snafu was me forgetting to give the party favors (huge, soft, delicious, homemade chocolate chip cookies) out to everyone, which just meant the last people there got to take home a few. I always reflect way too much on these things after people leave- did anyone notice the dog hair under the coffee table? Did anyone feel left out and like they had no one to talk to? Did people mistake my rushing around as bitchiness? And yet for some reason I love planning these sorts of things. 

8. I need July first to arrive so I can upgrade my phone and not have to constantly delete things.

9. I am such a sucker for limited edition things, and for s'mores, so obviously this is happening on Friday:


10. For a rare opportunity to earn extra credit, I'm letting my students create a ten-song mixtape for Antigone, along with explanations. I'm hoping this is a good idea.

Nonfiction Nagging: Lena Dunham is a Piece of Work

Lena Dunham is not someone I'd like to be friends with, have as a daughter, have as a sister, or know as an acquaintance. And maybe this is because I have no patience and am not an empathetic person. Or maybe it's because I don't like drama, narcissism, or people who act like they are bigger feminists than they are. 

I do have to admit to loving Girls, and I will continue to love it. I did not realize it was quite as autobiographical as it is, but I can accept that and continue to watch it. 

I've been interested in Lena Dunham's Not That Kind of Girl ever since I heard of the $3.5 million dollar advance it received. That's a solid chunk of change. Plus, as I aforementioned, I love her show Girls, and I consider myself a feminist, although not the stereotypical type that doesn't shave her legs, hates men, and constantly bitches and moans about the salary gap. So obviously it was pretty inevitable that I'd read her collection of essays. 

Some (mean-ish) things I thought while reading:
- Is she for real? Is she a real person? Please tell me she is embellishing her ridiculousness.
- Why are people putting condoms in house-trees? Is this a thing I'm just not cool enough to know about? Is this something that only artistic Oberlin people do?
- Oh. This is what people keep talking about when they say things like "white privilege." I get it now.
- You are not a feminist if you are that hung up on men and their validation of you. Just because you are too lazy to stay on a diet, shave, and develop a fashion sense doesn't mean you can wave around the feminist card. Or maybe this is just a new brand of feminism, for the millenials, or whatever it's called.
- Entitlement x 5325347584994
- There are some gross things that you should just keep to yourself. Fine, tell your friends if that's what you guys talk about, but do you really need to share private, weird, things about, say, YOUR VAGINA, with the whole damn world?
- I hope she doesn't reproduce. She struggles to care about anyone but herself.
- Ummm, where is Jessa? Marnia? Shoshanna? 
- *Pause* let's define rape, shall we?
- Your dad seems cool, but your mom seems sort of... difficult
- You are a slut, Lena Dunham
- Now I feel like less of a feminist for calling someone a slut, since everyone should get to explore their sexuality as they see fit, as long as everyone is safe and consenting. But still, she had sex with a lot of people that she didn't really know. 
- People who write memoirs before they're at least middle-aged have some serious narcissism problems going on. 
- There are some sections in the end that aren't as infuriating as the beginning, like on work, therapy, etc... But still. 

This book was really irritating, but it was also really fun to hate read. I think this would be an excellent book club selection, actually, since I'd anticipate some really strong feelings. She's not a bad writer, in fact I'd actually say that's she has a decent voice and style. She's just a serious pain in the ass. 

Sawyer at One Year

Today I have a one-year-old (and a party to host)! And this is also the last of the nostalgic baby posts.

I remember the time leading up to Sawyer's birth a lot more clearly than the day after it, which is probably normal. I thought the whole thing was a lot easier than I imagined, including the recovery- either I was lucky or I just had really low expectations. Nonetheless, I was left with a tiny, squirming, helpless baby. 

Fast-forward a year. He's even more squirmy, but not exactly tiny and not quite as helpless. Some of our more recent milestones and things of note:

This kid knows how to grow chompers- he has eight! Two on the bottom, four in the front on top, and he's been cutting his two top molars this week. These ones are obviously bothering him the most, since he's constantly chewing on his hands (and Sophie).

Sawyer does things when Sawyer sees fit. He's accomplished the mobility milestones on the later end of normal so far and I think we're going to hold steady with that pattern for walking. He has started pulling himself up, though, but only when it's worth his while. Why bother? Crawling is so much faster (and he refuses to get up off his elbows- if he did that he wouldn't be able to carry around his balls and Little People).

He pretty much eats whatever now, which is whole new territory. He adores cheese, loves chicken nuggets, and is incredibly enthusiastic about oranges. He's warming up to refried beans, tolerates some vegetables, and has become a pro at the sippy cup. He detests scrambled eggs and has learned to toss stuff to the dogs.

Oh, sleep. He's in his own bedroom, and has been for about two months, so that's a huge victory. He is in the Pack-n-Play, rather than his crib, but I'm going to file that under "Things I Don't Give a Shit About." We tried the crib and he hated it, so I'm not pushing it again for while. Right now he sleeps from about 8:15 to anywhere from 4-5. Since I have to get up at 5 to get ready to work I usually just bring him back to bed to sleep with us for a bit so I can get a few more minutes of rest. If he wakes up before 4 I attempt (sometimes successfully) to get him back to sleep. He also seems to be weaning himself off his (shameful) bedtime feeding, so that's encouraging as well.

Hobbies and Interests
Sawyer enjoys singing, dancing, tormenting the dogs, playing with balls, swinging at the park, cruising the neighborhood in his wagon, playing the guitar with his dad, opening drawers he's not supposed to, and pushing around his Little People Bus. Obviously quite the Renaissance Man.

He's starting to mimic us, which is hilarious... and frightening. He says "mama, "dada" and has made sounds that resemble "dog" and "ball." He chatters constantly and sings when there is music (or when there isn't music and he feels like dancing). He points at things now and I can tell he's starting to get frustrated that he can't actually talk. He'll pause and you can almost see his little brain desperately trying to convey what he wants. My mom said that I was pretty verbal by the time I was about a year and a half, so we'll see what the next few months bring. 

He's pretty cool. 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

Link up, link back.

1. I have such respect for women that can pull off cool hats. I was in Starbucks the other day and an older woman walked in wearing a fedora or something and it looked so perfect. The only hat besides a baseball cap that could wear was a cute overized one that blew off in the middle of the Caribbean Ocean.

[seriously, how many people can pull that off? source]

2. I'm reading Lena Dunham's Not That Kind of Girl and all I can say after fifty pages is that she's a huge, narcissistic, annoying pain in the ass. But I keep reading. 

3. I'm actually committing some uncharacteristic literary polygamy; earlier today I was reading Dunham's book, Ulysses, and Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye (which I just finished). I'm generally a one book kind of girl, so this is definitely not my norm (nor do I intend on it becoming so.

4. Ulysses. Wow. I need a professor and a class to go to.

5. I went to Target on Sunday morning to get the basics, as I always do, admittedly knowing that the Lilly Pulitzer line was coming out. I snatched up a dress that I had spotted online and wanted just before the crazy women who intended to hoard the merchandise to sell on eBay came in. The cashier told me that one woman planned on going to Hawaii with her profits. 


6. This is my second week running and my second week in a FitBit weekly challenge. Yesterday I hit the illustrious 20,000 steps (about ten miles) in a day mark for the first time (I'm a little embarrassed about that, actually). Next week I'm going to scale down the cardio so I can fit in a few more PiYo sessions. You know, because I'm sure everyone is DYING to know my workout regimen. 

7. Why do nacho recipes need to exist?

[nothing that I make at home beats these, though; source]

8. I'm also confused about the Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge. 

9. Is there an app or program that you can get to scrub your Twitter? I went private last year when some students found it and would like to turn it back public again, but as a clean slate that I can totally confident is appropriate. Not that I have any glaring violations, but I don't have time to go back through and read thousands of tweets. Help!

10. Ready to be shocked? On multiple levels? We always get Sawyer a book for holidays and I knew that we'd include one in his birthday present. I'm a little short on time right now, so I let my husband handle it. Yup. I gave up an opportunity to pick out a book. And control. He ordered BJ Novak's The Book With No Pictures, so he passed the test.

The Last Year By Threes

Instead of doing long drawn out posts on some of these, I thought I'd just give a few snapshots:

Three People I Get Advice From
- My mom
- My good friend at work
- The internet

Three Ways I've Changed for the Good
- I've become more patient (although I'm sure some would argue)
- I've learned to prioritize better
- I have more fun

Three Ways I've Changed for the... not so Good
- I consume way too much caffeeine
- I am perpetually behind at laundry and housework
- I leave work at the end of the contract day; I take stuff home but it makes it hard for kids to make tests and things up

Three Places We Buy Kids Things From
- Target
- Amazon
- Babies-R-Us

Three Things I'll Miss About the Baby Years
- Fat chubby rolls 
- Footie pajamas
- Baby cuddles

Three Things I Won't Miss About the Baby Years
- Sleep issues (am I jinxing myself?)
- Baby food (purees are so boring and gross)
- Physical therapy and frequent pediatrician check ups

Three Things I Look Forward to in the Next Year
- Seeing him walk
- Hearing him talk (what the heck is he thinking?)
- Watching him eat fun things like ice cream and cupcakes

Three Things I'm Proud Of
- Not rushing him to the doctor for every little thing 
- Sticking out breastfeeding
- Keeping my shit together when things got rough (...at least in front of people)

Three Things I Wished I Had Done Differently
- Been less worrisome about him rolling over as a newborn and not let him sleep in his swing
- Not have worried obsessively about my supply- formula is fine
- Used the Baby Ergo more

Three Things He Does That Crack Me Up
- He now mimics me when I shake my hand and say "no barking in the house" at the dogs; now it's our "thing" and we do it whenever they bark
- Sings and dances (like when he did in the middle of Party City today and made everyone else laugh)
- When he puts his head down and pretends to sleep when we say "night night" 

Nonfiction Nagging- Double Shot

I've unintentionally been reading a lot of nonfiction this month and have two more quick reviews.

The first is education-guru Kelly Gallagher's In the Best Interest of Students, a look at the new strengths and weaknesses of the new secondary
ELA Common Core Standards. Like I told my colleagues in an email I sent them recommending it, I generally loathe "teacher" books, but I can't say enough good things about this quick, helpful read. There are many misconceptions about the news standards, partially in thanks to those outside of education weighing in on a system they don't understand (including those stupid articles you see on Facebook that link to difficult math problems that of course show CCS is the devil). Gallagher breaks down the positives and the negatives, helping teachers understand how to take what they've been doing so that they're in compliance and so that the kids' needs are being met. I picked up a ton of great strategies that I hope to implement this year and next. And what I love about Gallagher is that his ideas can be adapted to fit any sort of level.

The second book I just finished is an ARC I received from Penguin. Leigh Ann Henion's Phenomenal is her story about a quest she embarked on to take in
different "phenomenal" experiences around the globe, hoping to sort of experience a rebirth of her own, after becoming a mother. Her book is divided into section that detail her adventures in Puerto Rico swimming in the bioluminescent waters, in Venezuela seeing the Catatumbo Lightening, in Sweden watching the Northern Lights and in Australia experiencing a total solar eclipse. I appreciated this written voyage- many of the places I had no idea existed. What did get old was her actual writing; her self-realization process often felt that it was being too explicitly spelled out in a spelled out poignant quotes from people she encountered and frequent moments of clarity while out of her element. In a word: forced. 


My First Year of Motherhood: The Best Parts

I'm back again to recap on the first year of being a parent in light of Sawyer's birthday here in a little over a week. The other day it was the not-as-fun stuff; today we're going to look at the opposite. 

I knew that motherhood wasn't going to be easy and that there would be some really hard parts; what I wasn't as prepared for was how happy it makes me. Right now, for example, Sawyer is gleefully shredding  Kleenex all over the floor and I'm finding the whole thing fairly amusing. He's learned to throw things behind his head and turn around to retrieve whatever it is (right now, tissue)- object permanence and the coordination to throw something. Kind of a big deal. It would be better if he could read, but I'll settle for this... for now. 

Here's what a snippet of what I've loved the last year:

He's Really Cute and Cuddly
I know this is very trivial, but having a baby is sort of like having a high-maintenance puppy around all the time. I'm well aware that I am biologically wired to think my child is adorable- it's nature's way of ensuring that I'll provide the proper care. And it works. Even when he's crying he's still cute. The cuddles are pretty sweet too, except when they're at 2 am. That is my absolute least favorite time to cuddle with anyone. Nonetheless, there's something that kicks in that makes these two things very enjoyable. Picking up a smiling baby ready to throw his fat little arms around me up from daycare everyday is sometimes the highlight of my afternoon.

The Little Things are Fun Again
I'll be the first to admit that I'm jaded and cynical; not as bad as some, but far worse than others. Having a little guy around has taken some of the edge off, though, and I find myself getting excited over small things like taking him to see ducks or the first time he tried solid food. Going to get his first pair of Chucks was even more fun that buying myself shoes and we could play peekaboo or with his Little People for hours (well, maybe like a solid twenty minutes). The holidays were infinitely better this year and hearing him laugh is enough to cheer me up instantly.

The Little Science Experiment
A kid really is a science experiment; he's this little research subject that can be manipulated and altered by changing a variety of variables. In theory, anyway, and after accounting for genetics. I enjoy reading about the cognitive, motor, and behavioral changes that he goes through and looking back at how much he changes month to month. 

My Little Buddy
Like all moms, I do love the occasional break. But the older Sawyer gets, the more fun we have together. Minus grocery shopping on Sunday mornings, work, and the occasional appointment, he's pretty much always within the vicinity during waking hours (and sometimes during sleeping). He has a pretty easy demeanor and I already see a sense of humor starting to creep through the baby personality (there's some stubbornness in there too). I can't wait until the days when I (hopefully) have someone as enthusiastic about ice cream runs as I am. I'm also pretty psyched to eventually take him to see the space shuttle, the tide pools, and his first big sporting event.

Someone to Love
I loathed all the corny Hallmark-esque things that people tell you pre-baby about how much mothers love their babies and whatnot. But it really is true. The love you feel for your kid is both exhilarating and downright frightening. I'm not saying it's better, but it's definitely different than the feelings I've had towards family members, my husband, friends, pets, or even Diet Coke. It's the kind of love that sustains you when you feel tired, overwhelmed, frustrated, and alone. It's the kind of love that makes you put on a happy face during the worst of times and the kind of love that helps you reset your priorities.

It's a tough job, but someone's gotta do it. Seriously. If there weren't any moms the population would die out. 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

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1. My husband and I sometimes exchange small gifts for Easter and this year he got my the ice cream maker attachment for my Kitchenaid mixer. I tried out this weekend and the first batch of vanilla with Peanut Butter Oreos was a success. If the process didn't take so long this would be very dangerous. I'm excited about all the possibilities, though.

2. I subscribe to Audible and am having trouble selecting books; each time I hesitate, thinking that I'd prefer to read the book instead. I tend to gravitate towards more nonfiction when it comes to listening, so if anyone has some suggestions I'll take them (I just finished Go Wild by John Ratey and David Perlmutter and just downloaded Brain Rules for Baby by John Medina).

3. Today we did SAT testing on site, as opposed to the normal Saturday option. I had the same group of kids, my first period, in my classroom from 7:30-12:30 and MAN were they troopers. The complaining didn't start until eleven and even then it was minimal. I also had perfect attendance- probably the only room.

4. I'm confused about where my makeup goes during the day. I even where primer. Like seriously- does it, like, evaporate? Do I rub my face THAT much? I'm not sweating. So where is it?

5. I finally got my glasses from Warby Parker and I lam very pleased. The process from ordering to receiving was exactly two weeks, and that included a slight delay that was caused by my doctor not including a measurement (I had to do it at home with a credit card, my webcam, and email; I felt like the McGyver of optometry there for a second). Pretty much all their styles are $95 and you can get five shipped, for free, ahead of time to try on at home. Glasses shopping for lazy people. I love them so much I took a picture (I hate the "s" word almost as much as I hate putting pictures of myself on the blog... but I really do love these glasses):

[I seriously took this picture on and off three times]

6. Next week, going back to the whole testing students thing, I'm doing SBAC Common Core testing in my room all day, every day. I know the first two days I'll be psyched to get things done, but by Thursday or Friday I'll be dying.

7. How many helium-filled balloons can you fit in a Honda CRV? Anyone? Guesses? This isn't a trick question, by the way.

8. I'm reading a review copy of  Phenomenal by Leigh Ann Henion right now and I'm a little disappointed. The premise, a woman that has all these awesome adventures to sort of reclaim her identity after having a kid, is something I can identify with, but the execution (at least so far; I'm about half way through) is falling a little short. I hate when that happens.

9. I'm running again! Sort of, anyway. For the first time in a few years I've started genuinely feeling like pounding the -errr- treadmill. I'd love to be the type of mom that loads the kid into the jogging stroller and takes on the neighborhood, but my area is super hilly and the weather has been a bit windy  lately. Plus, I really do prefer the ease of the treadmill. Sawyer will play in the room with me from 30-45 minutes, which is a good amount of time to get in a workout.

10. I met with three students today about their IB Extended Essays (4,000 word papers on whatever the want). I have "homework" now too- I'm rereading Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye and Beloved, and then reading Home for the first time. For another student I'm reread Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann  and then reading James Joyce' Ulysses. For the third student we're still ironing things out, but I'm sure I'll have a book or two there. This is all over the span of a few months, but I'm excited to read with a new purpose. We created a reading schedule so that we can read at the same time and then talk about the sections. Hopefully everyone, myself included, can keep up! 


My First Year of Motherhood: The Worst Parts

In light of Sawyer's birthday in a week and a half I'll be writing a few posts on this whole mothering thing in the midst of the norm. As always, I'll be super honest, probably to the point that I may at times scare people away from having children and/or convince them that I'm crazy.

There are a lot of really awesome things about having a baby. A ton. The joy I get on a daily basis from my child is so much more than I ever thought possible. But that's not what we're going to talk about today. Another day, yes. There's already a draft, actually, but today I'm going to write about what's been really hard. None of this is unique, but since I'm being reflective, I'm going to put it out there.

The Exhaustion
The first week or so after having Sawyer I was seriously sleep-deprived, but the elation of having this super cute little guy, and the worries over things like breastfeeding and SIDS and why I was still FAT, trumped everything. And then I got tired. And I stayed tired for a few months afterwards. 

Eventually, I decided to ignore the pediatrician's advice about waking him up for feedings and started getting 6 or so straight hours of sleep- my new "the amount I need to function properly." Granted he was sleeping in his swing, but that's neither here nor there right now. 

We changed bedtime routines and locations a few times over the next few months, and things stayed relatively copacetic in the sleep department. Then at seven months he got a killer cold and moved right into teething. So basically everything went to shit and I was lucky to get stretches of 3-4 hours a night and had to constantly decide if it was worth it to allow "bad habits" and let him come to our bed.

These days it's hit or miss. We've had a few good nights, so right now I'm going to remain superstitious and not elaborate on the happy details.

Being tired day in and day out with no reprieve takes a toll on you. You get forgetful. You get cranky. You get a little weepy. You get really dependent on coffee. Luckily, I guess, Sawyer he likes to screw with me and when he notices, after a week or so of torture, that I'm a hop skip and a jump away from losing it he sleeps through the night. And lucky for me, I've acclimated, and as long as I get 6 or so hours, even if broken, I can still function fairly pleasantly.

Feeling Like a Failure (Part 1)
Since having a baby I've felt like I've half-assed or have been failing at every area of my life: parts of work, in my marriage, taking care of my house, exercise, friendships, and my intellectual well-being. I know that's all part of the whole parenting thing, but it's still tough sometimes. I am not a failure; I'm not a type-A annoying perfectionist, but I do have standards for how I like to live my life. I have to work really hard to make sure that I'm still social and that I'm still getting out into the world and doing things, even if it's just driving to the beach or a new park. 

And there's give and take; one day I'll feel like I'm doing a great job at work, but I'll realize that the only thing I've talked to my husband about that day is our kid. Or I'll be excited because I've seen friends three weekends in a row but notice there's a fine layer of dust covering every surface in my house. 

Most of this is completely and totally my fault, and I've talked about it before. I put a great deal of pressure on myself to "be productive" pretty much every waking hour of the day. Even during my "down time," which is usually at night after Sawyer is in bed I'm multitasking. I just can't stop.

Feeling Like a Failure Part 2
I know I'm a pretty good mom, but I have hang ups in just a few areas, some that have gone (his torticollis) and some that are still alive and kicking (his bedtime issues... he falls asleep with a bottle- I feel like this is a huge parenting sin). He's super happy, very vocal, and is meeting the developmental milestones, but I get hung up on little things that I think are going to screw him in the long run (is he going to be forty and still need someone to hold him and feed him to sleep? He will never find a wife!). See also: is he eating too many carbs? At what age will he start repeating my swear words? Should he understand the word "no" better than he does?

Being Needed... All the Time
Being needed is actually a plus, since there is something that makes me all warm and fuzzy when I can quickly shush my crying baby or when he snuggles into my neck. But sometimes it's just too much. Sometimes I have a crappy day at work and I want to come home and decompress in quiet or go to a yoga class to take the edge off. But because I have this little creature that I have to take care of all the time I have to put on a smile and take care of his needs first.

The other day I told my husband that every once in awhile I just don't feel like feeding Sawyer dinner. Not that I want him to go hungry, and he wouldn't since he nurses still, I just don't feel like going through the lengthy process that ends up in a huge mess. But not feeding your kid isn't something you can skip, nor is bath time, playing, bedtime, teeth brushing, and whatever else comes up. You can't just quit your kid. Well, I guess you can, but that's  when CPS gets involved. 

So, that's what's been the hardest for me this year. The good things outweigh the bad and I wouldn't change being a mom for a second, but it's not all rainbows and butterflies. 


Nonfiction Nagging- Gulp

These past few weeks I have been slowly, yet enthusiastically, reading science writer Mary Roach's book Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal. Yup. I just willingly read an entire book on the digestive system, and I loved it.

Roach's book is broken up into seventeen sections, each tackling one of the oddities of food intake. For example, there's a chapter dedicated to how pet food is created to be pleasing to animals. There's another on a man who had a hole in his stomach, which allowed his physician to study what happened internally. You can learn about what exactly you can stuff up your -ahem- butt, just in case you ever find yourself in prison (and want to smuggle in cell phones! That's all I meant, I promise) or forced into becoming an international drug mule (yet have we learned nothing from Orange in the New Black?). You will also learn about the noses of professional sniffers, including those that make up those wonderful descriptions of wine (you know, the ones that compare a Chardonnay to "a fresh cut lawn strewn with strawberries in March of 2011, just after a raccoon with wet paws has walked across it"). Constipation is discussed. So is saliva. All the gross stuff. 

Yet, none of it really seems gross, or boring, for that matter. And Lord knows there's potential, on both ends (badumdumdum). Roach is incredibly skilled, though, both in constructing her actual prose, but also in determining how far to take her subject. She's humorous, intelligent, and has a quick, biting wit. Basically, I'd like to be best friends with her.

I am resisting the urge to order the rest of her books, but I've added to my collection lately, so I'm trying to resist. 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

Link up, link back!

1. The Passion Pit has a new album coming out soon! Excellent news for my music rut.

2. Sawyer's birthday party is robot-themed, so I've been collecting "random shit" to make a few robots out of. We're not having a big party, but I still want a few cool things to make it special. I have this vision that I'm just going to duct tape everything together, spray it all silver and then glue some brightly colored odds and ends to things. Does spray paint work on plastic? I foresee a mess.

3. Coming from California's Central Valley, the drought is literally hitting home. I try not to think about it too much, but enough so that I'm cognizent of our household's water use. I think so often our solution, as a "people," involves throwing money at things- you can't pay the clouds to rain and snow! That being said, substantial funds do need to go towards working on desalinization plants (or getting them back on line) and more efficient ways of working agriculture. Strictly cutting off farmers, as some are quickly to suggest, is a terrible idea in terms of our nation's economy, the livelihood of many, and also our global food supply. 

4. Over spring break our friends, who are expecting their first baby in a few months, came over for dinner and it was funny to attempt to offer them advice. Ha! Please. But honestly, I think the bottom line for anyone is that they'll be fine. There have been plenty of stupid, inept people that have gone through labor and have survived infants, so if you have a few brains and, a heart, you can totally do it.

5. I cashed in a gift card and got three new books: TC Boyle's The Harder They Come, The New York Times' By the Book, and the Lonely Planet's An Innocent Abroad. Because I don't have enough to read.

6. Sawyer also got some new books for Easter from my in-laws, one of which being the hysterical Peanut Butter and Cupcake. It's ridiculous. If you have little ones you have to buy it.

7. Over half of my FitBit friends suck are innactive. Do you want to be my friend? Leave your email in the comments or PM on Twitter. Motivation, guys!

8. Speaking of motivation, I ate a bazillion rice krispy treats (my special recipe: make a batch, sprinkle cut up Reese's Peanut Butter Cups on top, then cover with another batch) today, so I just did a quick PiYo arms work out (thanks to Amazon for their super empty, super interesting box that kept my kid busy) and am about to go outside to attempt so easy interval running with the jogging stroller. God help me. Why I waited to try this until now, when my kid is 21 pounds, is beyond me. If I die, it's been swell.

9. I was with a friend the other day and we were talking about someone that bothers me and she brought up an EXCELLENT point- we all have "that" person that can "do  nothing right." This is so, so true. My mom has someone like this and one time I said, "Mom, you'd pick on the way she breaths if you could. You'd probably call me and go "You won't believe it. So-and-so took way too many breaths in the last ten minutes and is using up so much air."" Why do we do this? Where does this passive aggressive need to harp on some unaware person come from? My unknowing person is totally not innocent, but harboring this animosity is completely unhealthy and I need to stop even though it's borderline fun sometimes.

10.  I just finished listening to John Ratey's Go Wild, which as really motivating. Basically, we're supposed to exercise in nature, stop eating refined sugar, and stay away from grains. I know I don't have it in my to devote my life to that lifestyle, but it was a good wake up call to clean up shop. Or at least I will once the Easter candy is gone... 

Spring Break- Topless in Cabo

Or not. 
Today was the first day back to work after a 9 days off for spring break. Ouch. There was something about the 5 am alarm or parting with my happy baby at the sitter this morning that made things a little tough. Also hard was the fact that I'm still not completely sure about where the time went. What have I been up to, exactly? There were no papers graded, no books finished, and a house only slightly more clean (or maybe just not made more dirty?). Sawyer's birthday party remains fairly unplanned, no documentaries or TED Talks were viewed, and the fans still have a thick layer of dust on them.

But it wasn't a waste. We just.... hung out. We visited with a few friends, I got some boring appointments out of the way, the two of us napped often, and we got in a lot of time playing and being outside in the awesome weather. It's not often I don't overextend myself, and while it was a little unsettling at times, it was also really nice. It also made me even more anxious for summer. 

[I finally went back to yoga, at the studio one morning when I took Sawyer to the sitter. I was very sloppy, but it was great. I also got in some PiYo]

[I found a new place to keep my kid while getting ready. He found my pajamas and a new love for the lint roller. I'm hoping this lasts longer than he did in the Exersaucer]
[We got new patio furniture and had friends over for a BBQ. I love eating outside and it was nice keeping some of the highchair mess outside ]

[We went on at least one walk a day, and even saw the Yellow Brick Road. I even learned that Sawyer will keep on his hat for extended periods of time with Cheerios. Cheerios solve most Sawyer crises]

[There were lots of errands ran. Including this little guy's new favorite stop. In all honestly, though, errands with an eleven-month-old are a huge pain in the ass. ]

[Sawyer had decided to show some interest in pulling himself up... on everything he shouldn't. See also: stairs, crib, bath tub.]

[We did the Easter thing; a pretty uneventful day at home, with just the three of us and then my brother for a bit.]

So yes, part of me does wish I had been able to take an exciting vacation or that I was ridiculously productive, I did really, really appreciate all the time I had with my kid (in my yoga pants, with my hair piled on top of my head, drinking Diet Coke like there was no tomorrow). 

March Reviews: Butterflies and Monkeys


So, this was apparently a low month, in terms of reading, although it didn't really feel like it. If I only read 2 books a month for the next five years that would mean I'd only read 120 books, or twice my current TBR pile. Fun facts, friends. 

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
320 pages
This story if about a girl named Rose who was raised for the first few years of hr life with her sister, who also happened to be a chimp. Her father was a researcher and their lives were basically an experiment, until things went wrong. The novel is told from Rose's perspective as a young college student coming to terms with her past.

Verdict: I thought this was a great, entertaining, quick, yet poignant read that I think many readers would enjoy. It deals with memory, unique family bonds, and animal activism. 

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver
464 pages
This is my first Kingsolver fiction that I have read and I thought this one was well-written, albeit having some flaws here and there. Dellarobia is the main character, a young mother and wife who is frustrated with her life of poverty in the Appalachian Mountains. While on her way towards meeting a man to have an affair she encounters a huge pocket of butterflies in the family woods. What ensues is a story about environmentalism, faith, family, and making a life for oneself.

Verdict: The writing is good, the story is interesting, and I appreciate the overall message of the text. I did find some serious cliches, some issues with pacing, and then a slightly predictable ending, though. 

total: 784 pages 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

Link up, link back! For those that are new, this feature allows bloggers to share thoughts related to books and life that may not be a post themselves.

1. We were out to dinner over the weekend with Sawyer and an elderly couple stopped us on the way out to tell us how well-behaved our child was in a restaurant. I thought it was such a nice thing to do, since people tend to be more likely to point out the negative sides of little foodie patrons. We totally lucked out, though. We've only had to leave with him once (we refuse to be that couple with the crying kid), but that was when he was six weeks old. He really loves to look around and I come pretty well-stocked with finger foods and toys. Hopefully it lasts!

2. So, I had a basic yearly checkup at the Ob-Gyn (not one that you have when you're pregnant... I don't want those rumors to start! Just no. No way) yesterday and an old student was working there... still. She gave me my post-partum inventory when I went in for my six week check and there she was, once again privy to my chart and data. She also called me "Christine" like five times, just to show me that she could. 

3. I feel like understanding Facebook's privacy controls are really way too complicated for some people, despite explaining it to them fifty-seven times before.

4. Tomorrow will be my first yoga class back in a studio since, I think, January of last year. I'm taking an hour class instead of a 90-minute class, since it's what works while I have childcare, but still. We'll see how it goes.

5. Speaking of working out, my routine has been pretty simple lately- get in a 30-60 minute walk with the stroller in our neighborhood hills after work, or in the  morning, and then do PiYo at night after Sawyer is bed three nights a week. The nightly workouts are killing me, in terms of motivation. By the end of the day, once he's in bed the last thing I really want to do is put on my workout clothes and begin. But, walking isn't going to fix everything, so I don't see any other options (my husband doesn't get home until 7:30ish on week nights, so before hand is tough now that Sawyer is so mobile).

6. I was proud of this:

7. I want these, like in a bad way:

8. I have a meeting with a financial adviser tomorrow to look into setting up a college fund for Sawyer and life insurance for Scott and I. I also want to ask her how I can invest my money with no risk but make a ton in return. Can that happen? Super conservative, high-yield investments? 

9. I'm listening  to John Ratey's Wild and had no choice but to suffer through the section on the evils of simple carbs/sugar. Honestly, I know those things are bad for us but I've never put in the effort to listen to the biological explanation because I know it will make me feel guilty. And it did. After the Reese's PB Eggs are gone we'll talk. Just don't make me give those up, John. Oh, and the part about not drinking "sugar water" doesn't apply to the Chocolate Chip Cookie creamer I put in my iced coffee every morning, right?

10. We have new patio furniture! And a BBQ!  Friends are coming over Saturday for dinner and then we're going to do something on Sunday for just us and my brother for Easter. I love having people over and now that it can be done outside makes it that much easier.