Five on Friday

  1. I finally got around to putting batteries in the Rock ‘n Play, and have discovered that if Baby E is freaking out, she will almost instantly calm down if I turn the vibration on. She’s sleeping peacefully in it now as I type this (although for how long, no one knows). It’s still not the miracle product everyone makes it out to be, but she will catnap in it and will sometimes even just calmly sit in it while I get things done around the house (i.e., pee, scarf down a sandwich, etc.).
  2. I’m thinking of starting The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo as my next read, as soon as I can find some time. Right now any spare time I have is usually spent sleeping, and by “sleeping” I generally mean closing my eyes and praying that the baby doesn’t wake up. And then the baby wakes up. I swear there is an alarm in her head that goes off anytime hubby or I are about to relax.
  3. Usually I would have started decorating for Fall already, but I haven’t been able to this year. I was going to skip the Fall/Halloween/Thanksgiving decorations and just save up all my energy for Christmas decorating, but now I’m having second thoughts. Hubby stopped at Target the other day to pick up Baby E’s Halloween outfit and he surprised me with these really cute kitty Halloween towels. I think I’ll take some time this weekend and pull some stuff down from the attic. I’m not going to go all out, but I really do need SOME stuff around the house to make it feel festive.
  4. I had my first pumpkin muffin of the season last night and it was glorious! Again, if I can find the time, I think I’ll make a quick batch of my own to have on hand.
  5. Every day I tell myself that we are going to get outside and go for a walk, and every single day I fail. Either she is too fussy, it’s too hot/sunny, or the day just gets away from me. I really need to start getting outside, though, while I still can. Before I know it, it’s going to be winter and we’re going to be trapped in the house day after day. Not only does she need the fresh air and stimulation, but I could use the exercise. I only gained 30 pounds during my pregnancy, and 20 of those came off instantly after birth, but I’ve still got 10 extra pounds of flab hanging around that I’d like to get rid of. My diet right now consists of anything I can eat one-handed and/or quickly during the day, and whatever is fastest at night for dinner (this usually means pizza or some kind of takeout now that my mother-in-law is away and not cooking for us anymore).
Advertisements

What I’m Reading

Honestly, I finally finished reading Prep the other night while hubby had the baby. I was able to lie on the couch with a snuggly blanket and read just like I used to. It was fabulous. However, I don’t have the time or energy to form the correct words to write a proper review. Suffice it to say that I really enjoyed it. Also, it took me being more than halfway through it before I realized the author is a woman. I was so impressed with how well Curtis was able to write from a teenaged girl’s perspective. Haha.

These days, I’m doing a lot of much lighter reading…

Baby E’s Godmother got her this book for her Baptism a couple of weeks ago. We read it together for the first time the other day and I’m pretty sure she enjoyed it as much as I did. I managed to get a couple smiles out of her when I showed her the pictures of the bears.

The baby bear asks mama where he came from, so mama explains how they asked God for a baby and they got him. She tells him how her stomach got bigger, how they went to doctor’s appointments, and how they prepared the nursery. Obviously Baby E has no idea what any of this means, but I think this will be a good book for when she’s a little older and starts asking the same questions as baby bear.

I liked it so much that I immediately went on Amazon and ordered every other “God Gave Us…” book by these authors.

Go, Dog, Go was one of my favorites when I was little. I especially liked the big dog party in the tree at the end. However, I didn’t realize how ridiculous the story is until I’ve started reading it to Baby E recently. There is one particular subplot of two dogs that keep running into each other. The female dog asks the male dog if he likes her hat. He is extremely rude and keeps telling her that he does not like her hat and then he leaves. I still love it – all of the dogs are adorable and I enjoy the drawings – but it’s definitely a weird one.

Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? was a gift. I had never heard of it before, but we’ve read it several times and it’s cute enough. I’m guessing it teaches sounds? I kind of feel like an idiot when I’m reading it to her because of all the weird noises, so this is one that we read when we are home alone during the day.

Five on Friday

I attempted to write a blog post last week, but Baby E just wasn’t having it. I am currently sitting in the dark in her nursery listening to her Sleep Sheep play water sounds while she fights sleep in her crib. She is just over six weeks now and thinks it’s her job to not nap during the day anymore. It’s like she’s afraid she will miss out on something awesome.

Anyway.

  1. I realize I haven’t posted anything book-related in quite some time. I am actually currently reading Prep, and by “currently reading” I mean that I haven’t touched it since just before she was born. In fact, that is the book I was reading the night I went into labor. That was almost 7 weeks ago. Oops. I bring it down to the living room every morning with the intention of finishing it as soon as the baby falls asleep, but then I realize I would rather be napping.
  2. Baby E has been congested since birth, and the doctor keeps saying that we need to get the boogers out of her nose. Problem is, the nasal aspirators don’t work all that well. I read really good things about the NoseFrida online, but the idea of sucking her snot out with my own mouth kind of grossed me out. I asked a friend about it and she said it is the greatest thing ever. She ended up buying me one so I had no excuse not to try it. Oh my goodness. It is a lifesaver! I will be buying one of these for every expectant mom that I know. It’s so much less gross once you actually try it, and it gets EVERYTHING out with a little saline spray beforehand. Baby can breathe much easier now.
  3. I tried hard during my pregnancy not to made any bold “I’ll never…” statements. One thing I was very iffy about was baby wearing. I thought it was for hippies. I’ve never seen anyone wear their baby around here and I didn’t know if any of my friends did it. I registered for a basic wrap (K’tan) anyway and my coworkers ended up buying it for me. I finally tried it one day when I really needed to get off the couch but Baby E couldn’t stand not to be touching me. She screamed for a couple of minutes at first and then promptly fell asleep. FOR HOURS. The K’tan is good because there is no wrapping involved – just put it over your head and go. But, the downside to that is that you can’t adjust it to fit either more snugly or more loosely. Also, it’s REALLY hot. I keep the baby in a onesie and I wear a tank top and we still both sweat like crazy. A friend let me borrow her Boba wrap and I like it a LOT better. Yes, you have to tie it, but it’s so easy. I can do it by myself without any problems. It’s also a little more breathable so we don’t get as swampy when we use it.
  4. Apparently my company is having a BBQ tomorrow for everyone and I wasn’t invited. One of my coworkers texted me to ask if I was going and I told her I never received an invitation. My boss then emailed me and told me he forgot to include me. Thanks a lot, that makes me feel great. I know I’ve been out since May, but I’m still an employee.
  5. Last week was the baby’s baptism. I was really nervous that she would cry during the whole thing and cause a scene, but she was a perfect angel and slept for most of it. She only cried when the priest dumped water on her head and then went right back to sleep. Whew!

Book #25 of 2014: Divergent

I was a little resistant to read Divergent, only because everyone has had such high praise for it and I was afraid of being let down. People have likened it to The Hunger Games, and after reading it I have to say that I agree. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I have obviously seen the reviews so I had a hard time not picturing the actors in my head as I went along through the story.

In the author’s imagined world, society is broken down into five groups: Abnegation, Candor, Dauntless, Erudite, and Amity. On one day each year, all sixteen year olds must take a test which determines their rightful place in the world and then they have to decide whether to follow the test results or break away into a group of their choosing. Beatrice was born into a Abnegation family and has lived by their rules for the past sixteen years, but she can’t help but feel that maybe she truly belongs elsewhere. Her choice will affect not only her, but her family, and even society as a whole.

This was definitely a page-turner. I had a hard time finding stopping points late at night when I knew I had to go to sleep if I had any hope of functioning at work the next day. Often I had to just force myself to stop, and then I would pick it up at lunch the next day or as soon as I got home from work. I thought the premise was original and the storyline unfolded at a good pace. There were a lot of cliffhangers and surprises, some of which were easy to figure out in advance, but that didn’t detract from the overall story. The characters were well written and likable — for the most part.

I enjoyed this book so much that instead of borrowing the sequels from the library, I’m just going to purchase the set. I have been told by various people that the last book is disappointing, but I’m ok with that. This is definitely a series to own.

Book #24 of 2014: Looking for Alaska

Looking for Alaska is basically the exact same book as Paper Towns, except in a different setting and the characters have different names. That being said, I actually enjoyed this book – until the very end and John Green’s need to ruin a good thing with lots of forced depth and introspection. Also, did we have to read such detailed accounts of the kids smoking every couple of pages? Lame.

Miles “Pudge” Halter decides that he wants to go away to boarding school to find the Great Perhaps. What he actually finds are a roommate nicknamed The Colonel and the completely-unattainable-yet-tragically-flawed girl down the hall, Alaska Young. Of course she has a boyfriend, and of course Pudge falls for her and thinks he may actually have a chance with her. All of the characters are unrealistic in that super-intellectual-beyond-their-years Dawson’s Creek way, except less charming and less likable. Long story short, Alaska dies and Pudge and his friends spend the rest of the book playing detective to try and figure out whether it was an accident or a suicide.

The saving grace was that I felt like I could relate to Alaska – not that I am anything like her, aside from the fact that I understood her guilt and anger and emptiness. That part of her character was very well-written and believable. The rest of her was annoying and snotty and entitled, which I suppose was the author’s attempt to make her more true to life. Sure, she’s gorgeous and everyone likes her, but she’s not perfect. She’s mean and uses people and doesn’t really care about anyone except for herself.

 

Book #23 of 2014: Paper Towns

It has become painfully obvious that I need to post reviews immediately after I read something, because I have already forgotten the entire plot of this book. I had to read a bunch of reviews on Goodreads and BN.com to jog my memory, and even now I am having difficulty separating this one from Looking for Alaska which is the first point I want to make: All John Green novels appear to be exactly the same, except the characters have different names and they take place in different settings. Other than that, the formula appears to be identical: quirky, awkward boy is in love with out-of-his-league girl, characters speak in painfully forced “hip” language, and everyone tries to much too hard to be deep and introspective.

Quentin is in love with Margo Roth Spiegelman (if I never have to read that name again, it will be too soon). Margo couldn’t care less about Q, but still shows up in his bedroom one night and drags him on a night-long adventure so she can get revenge on all of her “friends” who have wronged her at some point. She then disappears and the rest of the book is Q pining for her and setting out on a completely unbelievable road trip to find and rescue her.

I’ve now read all of Green’s work and I still don’t get it. Maybe I’m too old? The kids seem to love him and use words like “life changing” to describe his stories, but I just don’t buy them.

Book #22 of 2014: Where She Went

I read If I Stay by Gayle Forman a few years ago when it came out, and it was OK. I enjoyed the general story, but there was a lot of rambling about music that I just couldn’t get into. I actually forgot most of the story, so I skimmed through the whole book as a refresher before I started Where She Went.

Where She Went continues the story after Mia’s accident and explains the relationship afterward from Adam’s perspective. It’s a few years later and they have completely lost touch. Adam is a famous rock star traveling the world, and Mia is an accomplished cello player. He runs into her one night when he is out wandering around NYC trying to avoid panic attacks related to his upcoming world tour, and they spend the evening into the wee hours reconnecting.

I liked this book slightly more than the first in the series. It was fun to see things from Adam’s point of view, as he is much less whiny and annoying than Mia. Once again there was WAY too much music talk for my taste, so I found myself skimming those parts if they started to drag on too much. I don’t really understand the superfans of these two books, but I suppose everyone is different and has different likes when it comes to books and writing styles. If you read If I Stay, I would recommend reading this one if only to finish the story and get some closure.

Book #21 of 2014: Memoirs of a Geisha

A few weeks ago I ran out of books to read on a Saturday night. I scanned our bookshelf for something new, and I found myself looking at a few of the many books that Christina left to me. The only one that caught my eye was Memoirs of a Geisha – I had heard it was good, and I’ve seen it on many of the “Books You Need to Read in Your Lifetime” lists, so I figured it was worth a shot. Christina loved all things related to Japanese culture, and had even invited me to join her on her trip to Japan back in 2005, but then she had her accident and the trip obviously never happened. I don’t know if she ever read the book, but I know that she would have enjoyed it.

This may be incredibly naive of me, but I genuinely thought this was a non-fiction book. For whatever reason, I assumed it was a true story, and the writing style really didn’t do anything to make me think differently. It’s written as if the geisha is telling the story to the author – she recounts everything from the time she was a small child until the present day. Only when I was about halfway finished did I realize that it was fiction, and to be honest, it did detract a little bit from the overall effect.

Chiyo and her sister were sold when they were very young. Their mother was dying and it seemed as if their father didn’t know what else to do. Maybe he didn’t even realize what he was doing. Chiyo ended up at a geisha house where she worked as a maid and was destined to eventually train to be a geisha. Her sister was even less fortunate, as she was sold to work as a prostitute. They did see each other once or twice, when they planned to run away together. Unfortunately, Chiyo didn’t make it to meet her sister that night.

Even though the story is completely fictional, it’s clear that the author did a huge amount of research into the geisha culture, and it was fascinating to read about. I had always assumed incorrectly that geisha were essentially prostitutes, but that isn’t the case at all. While they do make money by entertaining rich men, and some of them do act as mistresses, sex is not even close to being a primary job responsibility.

I really enjoyed reading about all of the intricacies of not only geisha life, but of the Japanese culture and traditions as well. The story takes place right before, during, and after World War II, and those parts of the book did drag for me a bit. This may make me sound incredibly uneducated, but I am just not into history AT ALL. I found myself skimming through the last third of the book, only because the focus had switched from Chiyo (who at that point was known as Sayuri, since she was a full-fledged geisha) to more of a political/historical slant.

Overall, this was a good book and has definitely earned its place on all of the “must read” lists. It was a mix of light, easy reading with some parts that required a little more concentration and focus. It was full of drama and romance, in a setting entirely different from what I am used to. Highly recommended.

Book #20 of 2014: Have a Little Faith

I picked up this book mostly because I enjoy Mitch Albom’s writing and it was slim pickin’s at the library. I’m definitely more of a fiction fan and I don’t read much non-fiction at all, but as I’m in the middle of a crisis of faith, this book seemed appropriate.

This is a story of two different, but similar, men: Rabbi Albert Lewis and Pastor Henry Covington. The Rabbi asks Mitch Albom to write his eulogy, which prompts many visits and interviews so that Mitch can acquire enough firsthand knowledge to deliver a heartfelt and personal speech when the time comes. The Rabbi shares stories about his past, his marriage, his congregation, and his beliefs about life and death.

Henry Covington had a rough time growing up, and led a life full of violence, drugs, and alcohol. He finally hit rock-bottom and was prompted to clean himself up and do good, which leads him to be the pastor of a small, but faithful, Christian congregation in Detroit. Their church has holes in the roof, no heat, and should probably be knocked down and rebuilt, but none of the churchgoers mind because they are there for the community and the worship rather than the surroundings.

This was a quick read since it’s a pretty short book, and it was enjoyable to read about everyone’s transformations. It wasn’t my favorite, and it didn’t inspire any grand spiritual breakthroughs on my part, but it was a warm and fuzzy story that made me feel good.

 

Book #19 of 2014: Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

Bee Fox is a 15-year-old living in Seattle with her Microsoft genius father and her more than slightly unstable former-architect mother. Bee just received her report card and because she got all As at her prestigious prep school, she’s ready to claim the reward her parents promised her: a cruise to Antarctica. Only days before the trip, Bee’s mother, Bernadette, goes missing and no one even knows where to begin looking for her.

The writing style in this book is unlike any I’ve ever come across before. It’s told from past to present in the form of emails, random notes, letters, and articles all written by various characters. I wasn’t expecting this, and at first it took some getting used to until I was really able to follow the plot, but WOW. Once it gets going, it’s such a fun read!

Bernadette is quite a character and she only gets more and more interesting as the story develops. I saw a lot of myself in her, which is kind of unnerving because she has a huge amount of mental issues. Of course, she’s anti-social and eccentric to the extreme of endangering other people’s lives, and I am obviously not nearly that insane.

The whole Antarctic cruise thing really threw me at first because it seemed so random and out there, but after awhile I got used to it and it really seemed to fit in with the rest of the book. I really cannot recommend this one highly enough. It’s a nice, quick read, although it does take a bit of focus to keep all of the characters and plot lines straight. If you can manage that (I was on the verge of making a cheat sheet), you’ll be rewarded with a really original and well-thought out story.