Tuesday, June 29, 2010
"Mom, why does it say 'get swimsuit ready' on the cereal box?"
"Um, well, some people want to get skinnier so their swimming suits fit better."
"And it says that you can lose inches off your waist in weeks. Why would you want to do that?"
"Some people want to get healthier, I guess."
"Mom, I think your swimming suit looks just right! You don't have to worry about that."
I'm grateful my children don't notice that I have a rather bulgy tummy sticking out of the top of my pants. I really do need to start exercising again because I feel uncomfortable and flabby, but I'm glad my kids are a little weirded out by the idea of dieting. They don't need to do that and I hope it will be a long time before they think they do.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
One of the reasons they came this weekend was for my mom and I to attend the Segullah writing retreat yesterday. The day was lovely: good company, good food, and excellent instruction and guidance about the writing process. I've never considered myself much of a writer. I'm married to a writer and have many friends who write; my innate talent is much smaller than theirs, however. The conference gave me many great ideas and I feel energized to try other creative writing beyond blogging. I have two essay ideas tumbling around in my head right now that I hope to solidify enough to put on paper soon. I brought the baby with me, but she has apparently grown too old to sleep well in public so I had Mr. Fob stop by in the afternoon to take her home. We all survived and I particularly enjoyed the last session of the conference without any interruptions.
Then today I discovered that I have an email asking me to come interview for a position as an adjunct instructor of first-year writing for this fall. I submitted an application with the writing department because I wanted to try something different, and because writing classes meet for fewer days a week than Spanish classes. I will be interviewing this coming week and I need some time to figure out why I want to teach writing and what my philosophy is for doing it. That scares me a little. I know I have to impress them because my teaching experience is actually pretty sparse and is all in Spanish, which is an entirely different thing to teach all together. Now I'm glad I went to a writing conference so I at least I can claim that.
Monday, June 21, 2010
Thanks to everyone else for commenting; keep an eye out for future prize giveaways and maybe some day you can get in on the action too.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
About two years ago I tried to change things around and didn't get anywhere. So the blog has been kind of ugly for two years. Thankfully Blogger just made it easier to make changes to your template so I prettied it up a bit. I'm still not totally satisfied so I'll probably tweak things a bit.
And finally I wanted to give back to my readers by giving them a gift. No, it's not a version of this blog in book form. I don't have any writing of my own to give away. But I will give away a copy of the FOB Bible, since FOB began meeting in my living room long before this blog even came into being. I'm not an official member, but I'm definitely the original FOB and I have supported much of the writing in the book through donations of baked goods. Seriously, I love the book and the people who wrote it. Many of them began blogging at the same time I did and I count them among my dearest friends. If you already have a copy of the book, go ahead and enter and we can negotiate an alternate prize. (Cookies?) Just leave me a comment telling me how you found my blog, why you like it, why you hate it, what you want me to talk about or not talk about--whatever you want. The giveaway will end Sunday night.
Monday, June 14, 2010
1. Plan your shopping trips well in advance. Using coupons isn't usually a great deal unless you strategically pair them with a sale. Organize your coupons and then look over the sale fliers to get a good idea of what you want to buy and how much you want to get. This is actually becoming trickier for me since we have so many grocery stores here right now. There are many good 'couponing' websites out there that will give you a heads up on the best deals. This one is the one I like most, but you can look around and find one that fits you the best.
2. Don't go with your kids. When I'm with my kids, I can't think straight. Unless I have a very specific list it usually doesn't work. I've learned to do my big shopping trips when my husband or a friend can watch the kids. I actually enjoy shopping this way!
3. Coupons won't save you money if you buy what you don't like or won't use. I actually don't use very many of the available coupons out there. I mostly use those for cereal, pasta, yogurt, diapers, and some toiletries. I don't eat a lot of processed foods, even if I can get them cheap (we did have hot dogs last week when WinCo was giving them away free). I'm also picky about toiletry brands so I don't always get the cheapest deals on those things.
4. Don't buy anything without looking for a deal on it. The internet is a great resource for comparing prices, finding coupons, and researching products. I have a 'junk' email address that I use to sign up for offers and newsletters. If you have favorite products, go to their website and see if they have a newsletter. Most companies do these days and they will send you free samples and coupons. I love getting free samples because it lets me have some variety in my life and I get to try things before I buy them. For big-ticket items I've learned to always look at craigslist, E-Bay, or other online sellers before I buy them in the store.
I just thought I'd share a few of my new shopping tips with everyone. Mr. Fob keeps teasing me for bring home bags full of cereal boxes (we have a nice supply in our storage room), but I love getting good deals. During the last few weeks I've been stocking up on diapers at Rite-Aid and it feels great to know that I not only have a three-month supply (at least), but that I got them for a very low price. One other small bonus of having a stocked pantry: when there are donation drives for the food pantry or homeless shelter I always have enough to share.
Friday, June 11, 2010
I typed up a "summer schedule" for us to follow and I think it is helping all of us to stay sane. S-Boogie likes rules and having something to keep track of, and it's really helped with the TV issue because they know that TV time is not until 2:00 in the afternoon. Things are still pretty flexible and we don't follow it to the letter, but it has been nice to have a bit of structure in our day. We start with getting dressed and doing some cleaning up. Then we have an hour for scripture study and 'learning time'. I've started reading the Book of Mormon with the kids and so far it's going well; they both can read a bit and are still excited about doing it. I'm proud of the fact that we've kept it up every day so far. We haven't done a lot for 'learning time' so far this week, mostly just some reading out loud and things like that. On Thursday we colored a worksheet about musical instruments that I found online and then we watched a few You Tube videos about the orchestra (and Peter and the Wolf). I'm trying to keep it low-key.
After getting ready for the day and doing a little bit of reading or studying, we have time for an 'activity'. We go to the library at least once a week, and on Wednesdays our ward has a play-date at the park. We also met a friend at the park this morning too (even though it was cold). Our other activity for the week was a trip to the Bean museum on BYU campus combined with a picnic at the park. This summer our finances are pretty limited and we have a small baby to work with, so we aren't planning too many big excursions. Hopefully we'll get some fun coupons from the summer reading program so we can do some fun things.
In the afternoon I've started requiring an hour of quiet time after lunch while the baby naps. I've been enjoying the break and the kids generally have been too. Today S-Boogie sat on the couch and read a book for nearly an hour. Little Dude has been a bit resistant to the idea some days, but generally doesn't mind the opportunity to play quietly in his room or look at books. Then they get some TV time and we just have 'free time' for the last few hours of the day. For the next two weeks they will be doing swim lessons in the afternoons, so that will fill some of our time.
I think this summer might feel a bit long for me, but I hope it will be fun for the kids. I'm trying to balance a good amount of unstructured time with a bit of fun activities and good memory-making. I've also learned to reach out to friends and spend more time playing together because that makes life more fun. Hopefully by the end of the summer we'll be sad to see it go.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
This book was interesting to read; on the one hand, the writing is beautiful and the story is rich and compelling. On the other hand, the main character is really difficult to relate to and not emotionally mature. Thankfully, towards the end of the book she has an epiphany--I just wish we could see her life from her new perspective after reading an entire book of her narration from the self-centered perspective of a child.
Walking in the Sand: A History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Ghana by Emmanuel Kissi
I found this book at the library when I was researching stuff about Ghana for the kids and I thought it looked interesting. As the introduction points out, it's not written by a professional writer or historian so some aspects of the style are a little unusual. I found some parts a little harder to read than others. It was still an engaging read and I found myself inspired by the story of the Church in a country I didn't know much about before now.
Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day GeorgeI really liked the last fairy tale retelling by this author but wasn't quite so impressed with this one. It was a fast, fun read and the romance was sweet, but it just didn't feel as compelling or rich.
Nothing Was the Same by Kay Redfield JamisonI know the phrase 'achingly beautiful' is such a cliche when describing a book, but it really fits this one. Books rarely make me cry, but this one did. Jamison's description of her relationship with her husband, and the depth of her loss at his death, is amazingly done.
How to Behave So Your Children Will Too by Sal SevereI like to read a variety of parenting books and take ideas from each one to incorporate into my life. I liked some aspects of this book, particularly his focus on consistency and calmness by parents. However, I thought it felt a little too focused on simple behavioral manipulation and I felt some of his ideas were too harsh.
Another book I picked up at the library while researching stuff for the kids. I didn't know much about the contemporary history of Guatemala, and now that I do I understand better many things about the challenges faced by the people there.
The Blessing Way by Tony HillermanI've never read any Hillerman before, but my mom got me this book for my birthday. It was a quick little read and I might read some more during my summer vacation. I'm not usually a big fan of mysteries/thrillers but I liked this.
The Road by Cormac McCarthyI'm not sure if I like this book or not; the writing is good, but for me it didn't quite live up to the hype. And even though I feel like I have a fairly high tolerance as far as content goes, there were a few scenes in this book that really tested my limits.
These is My Words by Nancy Turner
This is another book that I resisted reading for quite a while simply because I didn't like the title. I still don't like the title, but I love the book. It was one that I didn't want to put down after it finished because the characters were so real and their lives were so fascinating. I am definitely going to read the sequels and hope I'm just not too disappointed by them.
The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi Durrow
Books that switch viewpoints between a variety of characters don't often work, but in this one the switching points of view do seem to flesh out the story and provide perspectives that the main character often is not aware of. Despite that positive aspect of the book I still didn't like it very much. It felt a little too much like it was trying to put in every characteristic of typical contemporary fiction (family tragedy, social issues, coming-of-age) without really resonating with the reader.
I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells
Midway through this book I realized that I had started it with completely wrong ideas of its content. For some reason I had thought it was more on the funny side, but it actually veers towards fantasy and horror. I don't usually read horror. But I still finished the book quickly and liked it a lot. The author clearly has a gift for writing.
The Tiger Next Door
This was an interesting documentary about a segment of our culture that I had no idea existed. It seemed a bit slow at times, but I thought the director did a good job of staying relatively objective and being sympathetic to everyone involved in the story.
The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus
Both Mr. Fob and I agree that this movie was just plain weird, but not really in a good way. When it ended we still weren't very sure of what had happened.
One review I read of this movie compared it to a novel, unlike most movies that are more like short stories. It's six hours long, and I feel the comparison is apt. It is difficult to explain how good this movie is because it is understated. The story is not particularly flashy and the length may seem intimidating, but I found myself pulled into it and wanting to watch more after it ended. Watching this is like immersing yourself in a long, beautiful family saga.
Saturday, June 05, 2010
The baby and I ended up spending Thursday and Friday morning at BYU doing a variety of things in the lab. On Thursday morning I filled out some forms and they hooked me up to a portable blood pressure cuff that squeezed my arm several times an hour. I had to wear it for the entire day, and every time it went off I had to fill out a little form with the time and what sorts of things I was doing. Needless to say, that was a bit annoying and I was so glad to take it off at the end of the day. They also gave me a large jug and informed me that I had to collect all my urine for twenty-four hours. Surprisingly, that didn't bother me very much. After having three babies I've become a pro at peeing in a cup. That morning we also did a few tests with the baby. They did a cognitive assessment to see what she can do, and tried to do an EEG with a special electrode hat. Unfortunately by the time they got her hooked up she completely fell asleep and we couldn't wake up her. They did take a very cute picture of her, though.
Friday morning I loaded up the baby and my jug of pee in the car and drove back to campus. We then spent a few hours in the lab performing various tasks while hooked up to blood pressure and heart rate monitors (just the heart rate one for baby). I also got to donate some blood, some more pee, and some saliva samples. I did things like feed the baby, play with the baby, ignore the baby, and talk about stress in my life. It was interesting. At one point the assistants took her into the other room to do a few more tests and to try the EEG again (this time she stayed awake and cooperated). I felt bad because when they brought her back she had just had a massively explosive diaper and was covered in poop. After they told me it had happened to them before I felt less embarrassed about it. While it ended up being a little more difficult than I had anticipated, I still thought it was an interesting experience and would do it again. Except maybe not wearing the blood pressure monitor--that was even more annoying than saving up all that pee!
Thursday, June 03, 2010
It was a nice weekend. Both my flight up and my flight back were uncrowded, so I was able to bring the carseat onto the plane and enjoy a whole row to myself. That's the best way to travel with a baby. She hardly complained at all on either flight. And she was generally pretty happy most of the time we were there, although I know she got a little overtired most days from the lack of consistent nap schedule. And I think she ate a fair amount of cat hair in my sister's apartment. I guess it's good for her immune system.
I mostly enjoyed doing things that are not fun with bigger children. We walked around the Rose Garden admiring the amazing blossoms. We also visited a lovely Chinese garden as well. My sister and I attended a bachelorette party for one of her friends and I enjoyed some interesting entertainment at a drag show (it was more fun and slightly less raunchy than I had anticipated). And we ate a lot. Two times at Burgerville just so we could enjoy their seasonal fried asparagus. We also ate tasty, tasty pizza at Dove Vivi. As weird as it sounds, my favorite pizza is the one with mozzarella, sweet corn, and caramelized onions. I think I gained about five pounds over the weekend.
Food, fun, and family, who could ask for a better weekend? A bit more sun would have been nice, but it is Portland after all.