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Reading Roundup: December 2009

The first few books here are ones that I forgot to write down in November for some reason.

A Death in Brazil by Peter Robb

This book caught my eye on the library shelf so I picked it up without knowing anything about it. It turned out to be a strange combination of memoir and history book; the style is rambling and sometime it's hard to tell what happened when, and to whom. It took me a while to get through it, and in the end I mostly enjoyed it although it wasn't necessarily my favorite book.

The Midwife's Tale by Gretchen Moran LaskasThis was a quick and interesting read, but in the end I did not feel fully satisfied. Though it is well-written and I was drawn into the story and the characters, it ultimately felt just like many other books I've read that are set in Appalachia. I liked it but did not like the derivative feeling.Fire Lover by Joseph WambaughI don't read very many 'true crime' books, but this one caught my eye because it was about arson (rather…

Christmas Wrap-Up

Mr. Fob and I both agree: this year was a good Christmas. It was nice to not go anywhere and to just enjoy some time with family and friends. We've also been overwhelmed with generous gifts and I'm excited because the kids really like everything they got from everyone. Yesterday we spent the day making and decorating gingerbread cookies, and then we drove around delivering them to friends and caroling. We had meant to get out earlier in the day, but we were lazy and didn't finish up until evening. Thankfully we still caught a few people at home and were able to sing to them.

This morning the kids slept until about 7:30 and then got us up to unwrap presents. They got quite a lot of nice things this year. We got S-Boogie a Barbie house and Little Dude a firetruck and some racing cars. They also got some books from us and from Grandma and Grandpa (my parents). Their books from my mom included matching stuffed animals, plus she got them some fun puzzle games from the 'teach…

The Letter B

We only did three countries that start with B; we did Barbados because we have a family connection there, so I suppose if we do this another time we could try Belgium, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Botswana, or any of the other "B" countries we left out.

Barbados: We just read a few books that we could find at the library, colored the flag, and ate some fish with macaroni pie. They eat a lot of fish there; I 'cheated' and baked some pre-breaded fish fillets from Costco. I did make a fresh mango salsa for the grownups that was tasty, and I used a very yummy family recipe for the macaroni pie (it's kind of like baked macaroni and cheese).

Bolivia: We also just read a few books and colored the flag. I tried a recipe for 'picante de pollo', which is basically a stewed chicken dish, but I must have bought the wrong peppers because it wasn't very spicy at all. We served it with some boiled potatoes and quinoa.

Brazil: The library had a lot of interesting books about Bra…

Follow Up

I had my first meeting with my new therapist today and it went really well. I think that this time it might actually work, and I hope so because I'm sick of not feeling like myself. Obviously part of the problem is the pregnancy, but I haven't been coping well with things for a few years. It felt really good to have someone say "your life is stressful and has been for several years and I'm impressed that you're coping as well as you are." I was really worried about going in and worried that the diagnostic sheet would show that there was nothing wrong with me. I'll admit that I'm pretty good at deflecting help and pretending that things are fine (just call me 'stiff upper lip'). Thankfully my brain really is under stress and there are reasons why I'm acting so crazy; that means that we can do something to fix them. He said he'd rather hold off on medication for a while, and preferably until after I have the baby because we'd end up …

Trying to Stay on the Bright Side

I haven't posted since Wednesday night, and that was a downer of a post. The reason why I haven't been posting is because I don't want to keep writing things like that. And I know part of the problem is simply the fact that I'm 32 weeks pregnant, tired, and hormonal. Today I finally sat down and emailed a therapist that a friend recommended; I don't want this blog to degenerate into what it was a few years ago. Even more importantly, I don't want to get that crazy again without recognizing it and getting help. This time around I think Mr. Fob is a lot less patient with my alternating bouts of anger and crying meltdowns. The truth is, I'm not so patient with them either.

This has been a rough week for all of us. Last weekend the kids both came down with pinkeye, though I'm pretty sure it was not the viral kind and just a bad coincidence. Little Dude spent most of the week battling a bad sinus infection, including complications like the pinkeye and bloody …

The weather forecast makes me want to cry

18 degrees should not be a high temperature. It really shouldn't. And children should not get conjunctivitis, even though we're trapped in the house due to the snow. They really shouldn't develop stomach pain and a fever along with their pinkeye that mean Mommy has to take them to after-hours at the pediatrician at eight o'clock at night. Because that means driving around while various signs say it's either 11 degrees, 5 degrees, or 8 degrees. That's just wrong. Hopefully today my vow to never leave the house will be fulfilled. Especially since I couldn't sleep last night because it was too cold.

Time for a bribe?

I'm realizing that one reason to have more than one child is to keep yourself humble. Everything that worked well with the first one will inevitably fail miserably with the second. We're having that problem with potty training. S-Boogie was, frankly, a breeze to potty train. We put it off until she was a little older than three, then one day announced we were switching to underwear. After a few days she really got it and after that we were more or less accident-free. The end.

We tried to use the same approach for Little Dude. A few months ago we bought him some underwear (he'd been wearing pull-ups for a while and we'd been talking about potty training, so he decided it was time for underwear). I could tell that physically he wasn't quite ready since it took longer for him to figure out when he needed to go and to get to the potty in time. After two months, though, I'm realizing that the problem is no longer physical but psychological. Today we were discussing u…

All I want for Christmas

...is to be in our new house! Well, and a million dollars. Seriously, though, I'm only writing a post with my Christmas list for the benefit of the few readers out there who are already thinking of buying me a present. Didn't know where else to put it, so I apologize to everyone else for my self-indulgent post.

Chocolate--I always like chocolate, preferably dark. I like Sees chocolates, Ghiradelli squares, or basically anything tasty and good quality. Or Ritter Sport bars with cookie in them.

Gift cards for Target or Ikea--I've got bad nesting urges going right now, plus we're moving into a new home.
A sewing machine--speaking of crafty urges, I'd love to get back into sewing again.Subscription for Irreantum or the New Yorker

Money for a massage, pedicure, or a new haircut

Diapers (not for me, for the occupant of my uterus who will be exiting soon)

I've also been thinking about family gifts and I think money for S-Boogie to take dance classes, a swimming pool pass fo…

Like a box of chocolates

Yesterday morning I decided it was time for another trip to DI with Little Dude. I love thrift store shopping and have done it for years; some days it's a total bust and other days it's a gold mine. Thankfully yesterday was a good day and I got a lot of useful things: two new maternity shirts for me (warm ones, thank goodness), pants for Little Dude, a crib bumper, size 6 snow pants that are black so they can be passed down through several kids of either gender, and a bunch of books to give the kids for Christmas. I got a big pile of Magic School Bus books for S-Boogie. Personally I hate reading those out loud, but she loves them and is just starting to figure out reading on her own so I'm hoping they'll help her practice. That means our Christmas shopping is almost done since we're keeping things fairly simple this year for the sake of our budget.

One of the main reasons I went to DI yesterday was to buy myself some new pajama pants. Mine have developed a big hole …

Almost made it!

Today is the last day of NaBloPoMo, and I almost made it except for totally forgetting yesterday. Oops. I'm sure no one minded; it's been a long month and it will probably be nice to get a little break from my ranting and raving. By the way, if anyone knows of a good therapist in Utah County and would like to recommend someone, write a comment or shoot me an email. I'm starting to feel a little pre-partum craziness and think I should get on board before baby gets here and I'm too paralyzed by hormones to fix myself.

I also think part of the problem I'm having is sleep deprivation. Every time I sit down on my couch I fall asleep. And then my children go nuts and I wake up grouchy and disoriented. Not fun. I feel much more fatigued this pregnancy than I did with the other two; thankfully I haven't had quite so much hip pain this time around.

The good news for today is that I am now 30 weeks pregnant. I like this because I'm not going to make it to 40, so it'…

Reading Roundup: November 2009

Bright Earth: Art and the Invention of Color by Philip Ball

I have long been interested in art and so I found this book to be quite interesting. It was a bit difficult to read at times because it got very technical, so if you have more exposure to science it would probably be more readable for you. It is also a book that requires a lot of close attention and I don't have that opportunity much these days. Nevertheless, it was a good read and full of fun tidbits about paints and painting.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, it is very well-written and I can see why it is generating so much buzz. I had a hard time putting it down once I started reading it, and the three main characters that tell the story are all well-written and very compelling. On the other hand, I always feel a little discomfort reading black dialect written by contemporary white women. I felt the same way about The Secret Life of Bees; it was a good story but a little…

Not So Black Friday

Despite the fact that we spent most of the summer travelling, I will admit to feeling a bit of the urge to go somewhere else for Thanksgiving this year. My aunt was hosting my extended family at her home in Wyoming, and my parents happen to live somewhere warmer than here--both good candidates for a road trip. But other people's illnesses, as well as 30 weeks of pregnancy, convinced me to stay home this year. Thankfully it's still been a fun holiday. Yesterday we had a small (but yummy) dinner with Mr. Fob's sister and her family. Then this morning we drove up to see some old friends who are here in Utah for the week; we had a fun few hours visiting with them while the kids played. After that we drove back to my sister-in-law's house for more leftovers. On the way we decided to stop at Ikea because we wanted lunch and because I was hoping to pick up a few things. We generally try to avoid stores on "Black Friday" but they didn't seem excessively busy and …

Thankful for:

Cranberry Sauce

Turkey and gravy

Rolls

Pecan pie

Antacid

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Letter A

Here's a rundown on what we did this last month for countries starting with the letter A. I discovered that the main Crayola site has a coloring page with the flag of each country, so I've been printing them off for the kids and they love coloring them.

Afghanistan: We looked at a book from the library about the country and I printed off a few coloring pages from here. The kids especially liked the rug one. We ate kabobs with rice, naan, and some vegetables. The kids thought the kabobs were 'spicy' but Mr. Fob and I both liked them a lot; next time I would bake them in the oven or grill them because frying on the stove was messy and made them shrink a lot.

Armenia: We also looked through a book from the library (they only had one), colored the flag, and found it on the globe. Mr. Fob and I really liked the food and would make it again: yogurt chicken, pilaf, Greek salad, and stewed apricots (dried apricots cooked in water with a cinnamon stick until plump).

Australia: W…

The Crib Thing

We have a decent crib that we've used for two kids now. Ever since I found out I was pregnant, though, I've been debating replacing it. That's mostly due to this particular problem. We did end up putting some contact paper over the damaged parts, but Little Dude either chewed through it or pulled a lot of it off. So it doesn't look so hot anymore. For the last few months I've had an internal debate between my aesthetic sense and my frugal sense. I made up my mind to go ahead and sand down the crib and refinish it. That is the best thing to do, really, and probably won't be that hard. Especially once we end up in our new house with a garage. The baby will sleep in a bassinet for the first few months anyways so we have leeway. But then I've been reading stories about this recall, and even though that is not the brand of our crib, the stupid picture of the baby doll with his head trapped in the broken side will not get out of my paranoid pregnant brain. Our cr…

Memes are fun!

i borrowed this one from Blue

1. What time did you get up this morning?

A little after 7; that's the usual time around here, at least for another 10 weeks. After that I don't want to think about it....

2. Diamonds or pearls?

I prefer pearls, but I don't really wear jewelry.

3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema?

Um, probably the latest Harry Potter. I only make it out to the movies about once or twice a year.

4. What is your favorite TV show?

I always say Jeopardy! although I haven't watched it for a while because it isn't on at a good time. Lately I've been enjoying 30 Rock quite a bit as well, and the new season of Heroes has been pretty good so far.

5. What do you usually have for breakfast?

Cereal; sometimes oatmeal or Cream of Wheat, usually something low-sugar and high fiber

6. What is your middle name?

Wouldn't you like to know? It's my paternal grandmother's name.

7. What food do you dislike?

Any kinds of strong cheese. And seaweed; theref…

The never-ending dinner appointment

Tonight Mr. Fob and I watched a fun, sweet little movie called The Errand of Angels. It's about a sister missionary serving in Austria (we checked it out because we did Austria this week). I enjoyed it quite a bit more than I expected too; the plot is a little sparse but I thought the understatement was certainly better than overstatement could have been. We also laughed quite a bit as we recognized things that were familiar from our mission: falling asleep while saying prayers, 'companionship inventories' that are really passive-aggressive (or aggressive) disagreements, people who enthusiastically invite you in only to kick you out after realizing who you are, tracting an entire apartment building with every door slammed in your face, eating meals in small apartments crowded with stuffed animals and weird knick-knacks, and of course the odd food. Not just the food, but the enthusiastic members who seem to assume that missionaries have massive appetites. There was a brief …

We should do this more often

Mr. Fob and I celebrated our anniversary today with a real, live date. I think we should do that more often (well, not quite as expensive as today's, but something where we actually leave the house). I guess I need to be more proactive about making some sort of regular babysitting arrangements. In California we worked out a nice exchange with two other couples and had a regular date night for a while; it was great.

Today we went to see the musical Children of Eden at BYU. I'd never heard of it before, but it was written by Stephen Schwartz, who is more famous for Godspell and Wicked. I was pleasantly surprised by the production; the story and music were great and I thought the performers did a fantastic job. The costuming and staging were really cool too; I can see how it could be a big show, but they took a more minimalist approach that worked well. After that we decided to try out our trendiness by eating at Pizzeria 712 here in Orem. I like food quite a bit, but confess to …

The Real Sexiest Man Alive

Image
Eight years, six moves, five degrees, two (and a half) kids, and countless containers of ice cream later--still sexy! Happy Anniversary!

Hospitality

This evening I vacuumed my living room for the first time in about two weeks. I did it partly because the clutter on the floor was bothering me, and partly because my visiting teachers were supposed to come (they ended up cancelling due to illness). As I was vacuuming, I thought about the fact that they would probably come in and tell me that my home looks nice, and that I would probably be embarrassed and deflect the complement. This got me thinking about the fact that I (and other women I know) tend to have a conflicted relationship with keeping nice homes. On the one hand, you don't want to be terribly messy, but on the other hand there seems to be something wrong in taking too much time to have your home look nice. I realized tonight that I shouldn't feel embarrassed if people realize that I took time to clean for them. They are my guests. On my mission I visited with many people from many different countries in their homes. Most other cultures have fairly elaborate protoc…

I agree!

I think People magazine is right on the money with this year's pick for Sexiest Man Alive. I've had a crush on him ever since my mom gave us some money and dropped us off at the theater one afternoon to watch Edward Scissorhands. I don't know what's wierder: that I think Edward Scissorhands is sexy or that Johnny Depp is 46.

28 Weeks

For the record, today was slightly better than yesterday. I managed to keep my positive attitude despite not receiving the anticipated phone call from the bank. If we're not in our bigger house with a dishwasher before Thanksgiving we might just go ahead and have pizza for dinner that day. With paper plates. Anyways, today only had a few rough spots. I'm sure that part of the problem with Little Dude lately is his lack of sleep; he woke up again freaking out in the middle of the night. Tonight he confided in me that he doesn't like his bed and he wants to sleep in mommy and daddy's room all night (yeah right!). It's weird because last week when we were talking about what we're thankful for he specifically mentioned his fire truck bed. He talks about it all the time, but apparently sleeping in it is not OK.

Today I had another checkup at the doctor's office. The good news is that baby is growing well, my blood pressure is nice and low, and I've gained les…

At least the ending was good

Today was not a great day. I was determined to have a good day and woke up with a positive attitude (I'm trying the 'power of positive thinking' approach on the people at the bank). This morning I even cleaned out the fridge and tidied up the kitchen. Then I had to run errands with Little Dude; stopping at three different places means getting in and out of the car six different times. Each of those times involves a struggle over adjusting the car seat, buckling the car seat, reminding him once again that he should not get in the car and lock his door, or play around, and so on. Shopping with him is exhausting because he won't ride in the cart anymore, and he's really too big for me to put in there anyways. Generally he's fairly well-behaved, but my brain gets so tired of keeping track of him, maneuvering the cart, following my list, calculating prices on things, and so on. Plus it was cold outside and my coat won't zip up anymore. I don't like Mondays b…

Steadfast and Immovable: Today's Talk

Today I gave a talk in sacrament meeting; it was an interesting experience. I have not given a talk for a few years and I actually didn't really feel like it. Pregnancy hormones also leave me feeling kind of vulnerable and insecure and so I just didn't feel like public speaking. But I'm glad I did it because I learned a lot while writing and researching the talk. I was third on the program after two other women from the ward, both in the 'young mother' category like me. The first one immediately burst into tears and proceeded to cry off and on throughout the rest of her talk, the second one was also quite emotional during hers. I actually felt pretty self-conscious because not only did I not cry during my talk (yes pregnancy makes me weepy, but I try really hard not to be weepy in public because I get embarrassed by it), but I also took a more analytical, scripture-based approach to the topic. That's just the way I do things. I don't usually write out my en…

What do you do all day?

I'm feeling a little cynical tonight (it was a long day with tired children and a bored mommy), but I ask the question genuinely. For those of you who are stay-at-home moms, and those of you who aren't, what kinds of things fill your time? I've been feeling a little bored lately, and after reading three books in three days I'm trying to figure out what else I could be doing with myself. Most mornings I wake up, help the kids get ready and get myself ready, and get S-Boogie off to school. Then I usually spend about an hour washing dishes and cleaning the kitchen and most days start some laundry. After that, I tend to spend the next five or six hours until S-Boogie gets home reading a book and trying to keep Little Dude from driving us both crazy. Sometimes he'll play with toys; lately he really likes to do art projects, play with Play Doh, or do puzzles. After S-Boogie gets home from school we have some snacks, sometimes she has homework, and I cook dinner while the…

I can't stop laughing

I was going to post this on the kids' blog, but I figure that I need a post for today. It also made me realize that I don't spend enough time just laughing and enjoying myself. I used to do it a lot and now I have a hard time relaxing. Little Dude has been particularly difficult lately, but thankfully he made us laugh at least two times. I still laugh thinking about the one from lunch.

Lunchtime:

LD: "Daddy, can I watch Mission to Mars after lunch?" [it's a Backyardigans DVD that he loves]

Daddy: "Sorry, but I took it back to the library."

Mr. Fob to me: "Featuring the voice of Alicia Keys" [quoting the annoying preview we've seen a billion times]

LD: "What! I don't even like Alicia Keys! I don't like broccoli, or carrots, or tomatoes either. Or salad!"

Dinnertime:

LD: "Knock, knock"

Me: "Who's there?"

LD: "Children with glue in their eyes"

Me: "Children with glue in their eyes, who?"

LD: …

Exhibit A: Irrational Obsession

Remember how I asked if pregnancy makes you crazy? I'm glad so many other people understand where I'm coming from; for the record, PMS tends to do the same thing to me too. I generally have a few days each month where I cry over everything and get frustrated easily by little things. Like some of my irrational obsessions that take hold of me now and then.

This morning I headed over to Target to get a few things that we need. Yesterday I found a coupon online to try new gingerbread Pop Tarts. I'm not usually a big fan of Pop Tarts, but I love gingerbread and though they'd be a fun treat. Sadly, Target had no gingerbread ones anywhere. I ended up in a bad mood because they were also clean out of several other things that I had planned on buying. I really hate it when I go to a store and they don't have what I'm looking for in stock. It's been happening way too much to me lately. Even though I had Little Dude with me I decided to go to Walgreens since I needed …

Remembrance Day

During the summer before my senior year of high school my family moved to Maryland. Shortly after we arrived, the stake had youth conference. Our service project took us to Arlington National Cemetery to clean areas that were covered in leaves and dead branches. The area I was in had acres of graves from soldiers that had died in the Civil War. Many of them didn't even have a name, just "unknown" and sometimes an indication of which state they came from. The experience was sobering, knowing that in just one day thousands of people died at one time. Many of their families never saw them again and never knew what happened to them. The same thing has happened in countless wars since. Even though technology has changed and many more soldiers who now die are accounted for, every death is still a tragedy. Though I truly believe that those who die are never lost to God and will see their families again some day, I also look forward to a day when no one will have to die in war a…

Home Sweet Home (Almost?) (Maybe?)

This afternoon Mr. Fob and I spent several hours hanging around our new home (we hope) with the home inspector and the real estate agent. The inspection went well, and though the home is a bit old it doesn't have any major problems. It gave me some time to really get a feel for the place and I noticed that it's easier to notice flaws when you're spending more time than a quick walk-through with an agent. For the first little while I did feel a little worried about the things I didn't like; we've moved so much during the last few years that I'll admit I've developed a habit of focusing on all the negative aspects of our homes in an effort to not repeat those mistakes. After a while of hanging around and visualizing where everything will go in my new kitchen I realized that I do like the place even if it isn't perfect. Not only that, but it will be ours and we can change some of the little things we don't like. Now we just have to get the bank to get …

I am thankful for the library

Tonight for Family Home Evening we talked about Thanksgiving and made a little 'gratitude turkey' where we wrote on the feathers which things we were thankful for. Little Dude even did his feathers without any help by drawing his fire truck bed, his special rock box, and his family. He also mentioned that he was thankful for the library. Then while we were brushing teeth S-Boogie told us that at school today she wrote that when she grows up she wants to be a librarian because she loves books and she loves the library. I'm sure part of this was prompted by the fact that Monday is library day for the kids, and their dad is a librarian (even though he's not working there full-time right now). But I'm glad my children love the library even though neither of them can read on their own yet. I can't wait until they start picking out their own books to read all by themselves.

I can also say that I'm truly grateful for libraries. I've spent countless hours there …

Uninspired

I didn't realize how difficult it would be to post every day here on the blog. Hopefully next week I'll start thinking of interesting things to say. Part of the problem is that Little Dude has been having sleep issues. He keeps waking up in the middle of the night completely freaked out and screaming. It takes forever to get him back to sleep. Not fun. And I'm just tired of being pregnant right now. Hosting Mr. Fob's big birthday bash was a lot of fun, but it really wiped me out. I'm still exhausted today and my hands keep swelling (if I'm still feeling weird tomorrow then I'll go into the doc and have them check things out; swelling is not something that usually happens when I'm pregnant).

So hopefully tomorrow I'll have more interesting things to say. Next Sunday I have to give a talk about being 'steadfast and immovable', so if anyone has good ideas I could use some inspiration. For right now I'm just going to get myself to bed.

Three Realizations For Today

1. I really like hosting parties and cooking for people, even when it does take me all day. I'm really looking forward to having a home with a better kitchen that is more equipped for entertaining.

2. Hosting a party when you're almost 7 months pregnant isn't really the best idea. I kept going through the day, but now I'm exhausted and my hands and feet are swelling up. Looks like I might have to put off some of my bigger holiday plans until next year.

3. My brain is divided into two parts: irrational and rational. The rational part believes my doctor and the ultrasounds and trusts that chances of something bad happening again are slim. The irrational part freaks out about every little twinge and pain. It could be a long twelve weeks from here on out.