Monday, July 14, 2014

Twitterature--July 2014

Some recent reads:

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In a Ship of Her Own Making, by Catherynne M. Valente.

This reminded me a lot of The Wizard of Oz, or maybe Narnia, or The Hobbit. Omniscient narrator who addresses the reader, child on a magical adventure, that sort of thing. It was fun and sweet and I think I finished it in less than a day.

The Walking Dead, by Robert Kirkman

I think I'm up to Volume 7 or 8 in the comic that inspired the TV show (which we watch religiously). Frankly, I'm not really a fan of the comic book/graphic novel format. I'm sure I'm somehow missing out on the subtleties of the art form, or whatever, but I feel like I'm reading the Cliff's Notes version of the story--sort of a sketchy summary of the depth of story you get in a book or a TV show. Also, I'm terrible at facial identification, so I'm always getting characters mixed up (this happens in TV and movies, too). It's interesting to see the differences between the comics and the show, and I know it's a classic. I'm not sure how long I'll keep up with it, though. Also: even darker than the show. Also: no Darryl. Worth a try if you need a zombie fix during the show's hiatus.

Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal, by Mary Roach.

I read Roach's Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers last year and liked it, and thoroughly enjoyed Gulp as well. I probably have a high tolerance for grossness in my reading material, but honestly Roach's exploration of her topics (in Stiff, dead bodies; in Gulp, digestion) is so fascinating that you forget it's supposed to be gross. Also, she's a great lover of puns. Perfect pick for armchair scientists and people who like to pick up random trivia tidbits to try out at cocktail parties.

The Nesting Place, by Myquillyn Smith.

I read this book and a week and a half later moved every piece of furniture in our two living rooms and painted a wall that I have hated for six years. Partially this is because her start-where-you-are, it-doesn't-have-to-be-perfect philosophy is inspiring, and partially it's because there was a picture in the book of a room with blue walls and oak trim. (The wall I hated was hunter green, hideous and dark. Unfortunately, the DDH a) likes hunter green and b) insisted he couldn't think of another color that would go well with the oak trim. And since the oak trim is a MAJOR part of the WHOLE HOUSE, I am not allowed to paint it. The picture proved to him that a blue-gray color also looks good with oak trim. He still thinks the old wall was fine. Everyone else agrees the new one is better.)

A Place of Greater Safety, by Hilary Mantel.

Mantel's later novel Wolf Hall is better (and still one of the best books I've read, ever). She's still finding her groove with style and pacing in this early novel, but it still works. I had a hard time finishing it, but I think this has to do with how depressing the events are. I knew very little about the French Revolution, and though of course this is a narrowly focused, fictional account, it's pretty horrifying. This would be a great book club pick; I wish I had someone around with whom to discuss some of the ideas it brings up.

Linking up with Twitterature at Modern Mrs. Darcy, if I remember to come back and link up since I'm a day early. But if you're looking for more suggestions on what to read (or avoid reading) this summer, check it out!

28 years and 19 months and 30 weeks

I know I never post anymore. I've been busy. And lazy.

T-Rex is 19 months now. So far, I have to say that I love the toddler stage. He is such a happy, curious, lovely little human. He plays independently. He cuddles and listens to me read books. HE SLEEPS THROUGH THE NIGHT (most of the time). He goes places and does things. He's learning words but not is not yet at the exhausting chatterbox preschooler stage. It's lovely.

He likes cars, dogs, bunnies, birds, and water. He adores fruit, especially bananas and blueberries, and will eat it all day long. He also really loves corn on the cob, but he dislikes avocado, lettuces, and blackberries. He loves to dance, and has recently started "playing" his piano and xylophone and "singing" along. He gives the dogs hugs, pets the bunny, and runs around like crazy all the time.

My brother was in town last week and we took him to the aquarium. He shrieked with excitement about the beavers and otters, which he called "big bunnies" and "water bunny dogs," respectively. He also liked the various fish, but was slightly scared of the shark tunnel until Uncle Michael picked him up and carried him.

We've taken him berry picking twice, which is how we discovered he dislikes blackberries. I was trying to pick blackberries, and after picking a few and spitting them out, he ran away from me, straight for a blueberry bush, where he happily stayed for a good thirty minutes, munching away on blueberries.

He feeds the dogs every day (puts their pre-measured cups of food in their respective bowls), retrieves his plate or bowl for me from the shelf when it's time to eat, puts his dishes in the dishwasher afterward, and cleans up the living room each evening. He loves to help put things away in the kitchen, cook, and carry things for me. He's really quite helpful.

I'm also just about thirty weeks pregnant with boy number two. I'm worried, because I'm in such a nice groove with T-Rex and because frankly, I dislike infants (have I mentioned I don't do well with sleep deprivation? Also, babies are boring), but we're excited, too. T-Rex has no idea what he's in for, poor little guy. But the pregnancy is going smoothly and I hope the brothers will be friends.

I turned 28 last week. I also found my first gray hair. I'm busy with things other than the toddler and the pregnancy, but those do take up most of my energy. And they're the easiest to talk about. I've been reading a good bit, and doing stuff in the kitchen, and working, and volunteering with church things. The usual.

So there you go. Twenty-eight years and nineteen months and thirty weeks. That's where we are right now.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

What I'm Into--November 2013

More like what I've been into since April--has it really been so long since I posted one of these?

Birthday boy.


T-Rex turned one last month. The DDH turned thirty. We celebrated five years of marriage. It was a milestone month for everyone.

And our one-year nursiversary!

We had a little dinosaur (of course) themed party for T-Rex, which was fun, and the next weekend he stayed with Grandma and Grandpa while the DDH and I stayed two nights in a hotel and had a spa afternoon with massages and the works. It was awesome.

T-Rex cake made by my MIL.

Read and Reading

Oh gosh. I've been working my way through Jane Lindskold's Firekeeper series, which just keeps getting better and better. Definitely a must read for fantasy fans. Lindskold is from Albuquerque and I've met her several times; she is just the nicest person, and these books prove she's a good author, as well.

Carrying things in his mouth is a trick he learned from the dogs.

As T-Rex gets older, tv viewing gets pushed more and more firmly back to after his bedtime. We are way behind on all our shows, with a queue on Hulu a mile long.

Favorite new shows this season? Agents of SHIELD and Sleepy Hollow. Of the two, Sleepy Hollow is actually my favorite--the characters are excellent, though the premise is ridiculous.  

Once Upon a Time is having a better season than last, IMHO. We're so far behind that I'm not sure I've watched enough of the spinoff, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, to evaluate it properly, but it was growing on me.

I've also been slowly working my way through a rewatch of Firefly, which leads me to two conclusions: one, why did they ever cancel this show??? so good. and two, comparing Firefly to Castle makes me realize Nathan Fillion is getting old, which is sadface. Also three: WHY DID THEY CANCEL THIS SHOW?

Ride 'em, cowboy.

In Theaters

I have been waiting for an Ender's Game movie since the eighth grade, which was more years ago than I care to admit (umm, thirteen. or fourteen. ack). It did not disappoint my tempered expectations, but it wasn't the book, either.

I know we went to the movies at least one other time in the last six months, and certainly we've rented movies to watch, but I don't remember anything particular. Except--Man of Steel was surprisingly boring, and T-Rex loved The Sound of Music.

Birthday boys.
 In the Kitchen

We did about two weeks of a semi-Whole 30 in October. It was a disaster. For one, we simply cannot afford that much meat. Our diet relies heavily on legumes and grains and streeeeetching out the meat as much as possible. We did each lose about ten pounds, which was nice, and it did break me of what was getting to be an out-of-control candy habit. I guess it wasn't a total disaster. But it was very stressful, having to plan out every single bit of food that went into out mouths. That is just not healthy for me psychologically AT ALL.

I'm looking at getting raw milk come January. If the weather isn't too disastrous, we plan to visit the farm this weekend. So looking at the weather forecast...maybe next weekend.

I made some grain-free pumpkin chocolate chip muffins that were to DIE for. Eventually I'll get around to updating the food blog. Probably in another six or seven months. ;-)

Green chile stew at his birthday party.

First time tasting yogurt.


It's FINALLY Christmas music time! My Pandora list knows pretty well what I like--but what's your favorite Christmas tune?

Rex and Meg.

Pat the bunny.

Linking up with Leigh at Hopefulleigh, like I used to before I fell off the face of the blogging earth. Check out what everyone else has been into this month.

What are you up to, friends?

Goodbye, November!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

What's On My Bookshelf?

Last week, Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy asked us if we snuck peeks of other people's bookshelves when we visited their houses. Of course we did! And so this week, we're linking up pictures of our bookshelves for others to ogle.

I have a lot of books, y'all. So here we go!

The first bookshelf you see when you enter the house is this one:

Until recently, it held very few books; I had only recently consolidated the APO memorabilia to one shelf instead of two. But then T-Rex started walking and pulling books off shelves, so I had to clear the lower shelves of another bookcase, and those books got jammed in here willy nilly.

Most obviously, the stack of German textbooks on the very top of the bookcase:

Then more German books, shoved in around the original contents of the shelf: parenting and baby books. That Having a Baby book is the one my mom read when pregnant with me in the eighties. You may recognize The Chronicles of Narnia in the middle there--but auf Deutsch. I wrote my senior thesis on Thomas Mann's Doktor Faustus, which is why I have that one in both English and German.

Next, the rest of the German books, my Latin stuff, and a few political/sociological books joined the original Gardening and Animals/Nature shelf.

A shelf in the cabinet at the bottom of this bookcase holds the rest of the rescued books: politics/sociology/finance, mostly, though you might spy a few more linguistics/language books--including Cat in the Hat in Latin.

Since Anne mentioned her own little yellow German books, I decided to gather all mine up and take a picture just of them, all two dozen of them:

I don't know why Goethe's Faust is green and not yellow. Because it's so special, I suppose.

The family room holds the majority of our books in five different bookcases.

First up, the little bookcase I had to clear to save from the toddler:

The top shelf is nothing but Bibles. Well, and a concordance:

Also? Not even all the Bibles we own.

The next shelf is about a third hymnals and songbooks, one third random religion/theology books, and one third the beginning of my German collection:

 Recognize this little volume, Anne? Jane Austen's Stolz und Vorurteil.

The two built-ins hold mostly Fancy Law Books and movies:


 But there are some random reference books, Spanish textbooks, and modern fiction scattered in:


Also some board games and middle school social studies textbooks:


The other built-in really is just Fancy Law Books:


The final two bookcases hold most of my history and English books from college:


From which you can clearly deduce that my history concentration was Asian history:

That Mao biography is heavy stuff. Anyway. Some random war histories, the Crusades, and one of my two books on the sinking of the Titanic--not sure what happened to the first.

Then, a bit of a mix:

Various nonfiction titles, classic fiction, Bullfinch's Mythology, the one volume of Harry Potter I own (the British edition of book seven. Wait, I also own book three auf Deutsch), some other Harry Potter stuff (Looking for God in Harry Potter is a good one for literary types) and, for some reason, two-thirds of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, as well as a combo edition. Whatevs.

Next shelf: where English books go to die:

Can you tell my advisor was a Faulkner scholar? All those gold books in the middle are Faulkner. I think this shelf is arranged novels/short stories and then plays.

More, including the much-loved Norton anthologies:

The random Grisham novel is the DDH's; because he's a lawyer, people keep giving him Grisham books. The book on top of it, To Set Before a Queen is a tell-all cookbook written by a former chief chef to Queen Elizabeth II. I found it hidden away in a used bookstore while looking for something else, which is where all the best books come from.

Next up, the kitchen:

The three books on top are usually displayed elsewhere: Die echte deutsche Kueche, a Schwabisch cookbook, and the Lindt Book of Chocolate. Yum.

I refer most often to Joy of Cooking and How to Cook Everything, which is why they're on the end where they're less likely to set off a destructive domino chain of cookery books. The binders are Kitchen Stewardship eBooks that I printed out because I use them pretty often. There's a healthy collection of church cookbooks from around the country in the middle there.

Ok! On to the less public rooms and their books.

The children's/young adult books live in the guest room:

Oh, Animorphs. I still think you're awesome, even though I'm no longer in middle school:

The white books are the Billabong series, an Australian series of novels about a girl growing up on a sheep station in the Australian bush in the 1910s (spanning WWI). My aunt sent them to me two a time for every birthday and Christmas when she lived in Australia, where I guess they're a classic akin to Little House on the Prairie here. I love them so. much.

Here's my Redwall collection; I was a little obsessed with those mice for awhile in elementary school:

Here you can see a bunch of the books left over from my childhood horse obsession, including a really beautiful edition of Black Beauty. Also, dinosaur books:

Some more random children's books, including a children's cookbook I got for my seventh birthday and a few German storybooks:

A few of the children's books live in the nursery:

Notably, our How Do Dinosaurs...? collection and some Bible storybooks, including one that is fuzzy like a lion. Also, The Great Big Treasury of Beatrix Potter from my own childhood.

There are a few more children's books around the house. His Indestructible books (paperlike, but unrippable) and a few other board books were on the bottom of that shelf I cleared off for him in the living room. His current favorite is Die liebste Mama der Welt. He also has a German My First Dictionary that contains pictures of things very important to German children, like public transportation ticket vending machines, that do not translate well at all to the American Midwest.

Here are the books in the office:

They're mostly the DDH's law and psychology books.

Last but certainly not least, the books in our bedroom. First, the stack by my bed:


I haven't gotten around to putting What to Expect When You're Expecting away yet. The DDH gave me the first Game of Thrones book to read, but I haven't yet started it. I love the Then Sings My Soul devotional, which looks at the origins of hymns. The Lutheran Study Bible because Lutherans decided they needed their own Bible. Here I Stand, the excellent biography of Martin Luther that I have been two chapters away from finishing for more than a year now.

Then there's the built-in shelf, where I keep the sci-fi/fantasy novels:

Theoretically they're in alphabetical order by author. At one time they were, anyway. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy starts us off. Watership Down is one of my absolute favorite books. The Ender books and some other Orson Scott Card novels, which I've loved since we first read Ender's Game in eighth grade. I Capture the Castle is a charming little novel, written by the author of 101 Dalmations. Stephen Gould, the author of Jumper, lives in Albuquerque and those are all signed.

Let's see. Some Wizard of Oz books that need to move downstairs to the guest room. L'Engle, of course. Jane Lindskold is another Albuquerque author and her books are also signed; we're apparently both Tigers in the Chinese zodiac. I was obsessed with Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern novels for the entirety of middle school.

And I stole that The Atlas of Pern from my dad--the other place all the best books come from. Robin McKinley--love her books. Deerskin is beautiful and sad.

More Lindskold because they wouldn't fit on the top shelf. More McKinley; more McCaffrey. A penguin ice cream scoop.

And there we go! Longest post ever, but I have a lot of books!

What do you think? Do you check out other people's bookshelves when you come to visit? What do your own bookshelves say about you? Be sure to check out the linkup to snoop on more awesome reading collections.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Twitterature: August 2013

twitterature monthly reading linkup short reviews

I haven't been writing much lately, but I have been doing a lot of reading! Here are some of my favorite reads from the last few months, Twitterature style:

Literature with a Capital L

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

A engrossing, clever account of Catherine's fall and Anne's rise (Henry VIII wives 1 and 2) from the POV of Thomas Cromwell. Best book I've read this year so far. The #sequel Bring Up the Bodies is almost as good.

A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea by Dina Nayeri

A story about loves lost--but in this case, the loves are a sister, a mother, and pre-revolution Iran. Well-plotted and poignant.

Murder, Mayhem: Mysteries!

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

The first in the Flavia de Luce series about a precocious, chemistry-loving eleven-year-old in rural 1950 Britain. Charming unreliable narrator. Sometimes a bit cutesy but overall delightful; the mysteries improve as the series progresses. Check out the #audiobook for an excellent reading by Jayne Entwistle.

The Midwife's Tale by Samuel Thomas

Seventeenth-century midwife at the center of a web of mysteries. Written by a history teacher, it's a fascinating look at the rituals of birth and death in the 1640s and the role of the midwife. #firstnovel #waitingformore

The Truth Is Out There: Fantasy and Science Fiction

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

First book in the Lunar Chronicles, dystopian futuristic re-tellings of your favorite fairy tales. Kind of. Book two, Scarlet, introduces new characters and expands the universe, but Cinder's still my favorite. Fast, fun, #isthethirdbookoutyet?

Earth Unaware: The First Formic War by Orson Scott Card

Did you know Card was writing a trilogy of prequels to Ender's Game? Somehow I missed that. This and the second (Earth Afire) are out and must-reads for #Ender fans.

Watchmen by Alan Moore

If you've only ever seen the movie, you owe it to yourself to read the original and get the full scope of the storyline. Masterfully plotted with gritty artwork by Dave Gibbons.

Just the Facts, Ma'am: Non-Fiction

LEGO: A Love Story by Jonathan Bender

A peek behind the scenes of LEGO and its devoted adult fandom. Wanders at times but still fascinating to anyone with a fondness for those nifty little bricks.

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

Fascinating, but not for the weak-stomached.

Be sure to click over to Modern Mrs. Darcy to see what others have been reading.
And then put a nice long list of books on hold at the library. ;-)

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Where do they all come from?

Leigh wrote an important series on finding community recently (first post here), inspired by her feelings of loneliness in Nashville.

I could second most of that first post, except for the part about having any friends in the first place--something my husband and I have long lamented (I think I've mentioned before that we're both shy introverts, so making friends is not exactly easy for us).

But Jennifer left a comment that made me stop and think about my own situation a bit more:
You mentioned that you wouldn't notice it as much if your calendar was more full, and that's just the thing. People don't know they are lonely cause they've made themselves so busy. But the deep ache for community doesn't diminish with a full schedule. I make a living (as a yoga teacher) of asking people to lay on the floor and just be present with themselves and their thoughts. I hear, time and time again from people that this agitates them. To which I lovingly reply, "no - it just forces you to see the agitation that is already there, that you have perfected the art of ignoring."
Well. The DDH and I have long semi-joked about how we don't have any friends we can do things with, but it's always been as much joke as problem. Lately, however, I've been realizing just how deeply lonely I really am.

Something has forced me to "see that agitation" that I had "perfected the art of ignoring," and I think I've figured out what.

As an introvert, I lose energy quickly when around other people. As an extreme introvert (100% I and 0% E on the MBTI), I lose energy extremely quickly, and it doesn't take many people to do it. Telephone calls tire me out.

The office where I worked was one big room where the three of us had our desks. The CEO had his own office but was in and out of ours (and we of his), and other people were always coming through--contractors, clients, the IT guy, the UPS men. Though it was a small office, with few people, there was no getting away from them.

I came home completely drained every day. My dealing-with-other-people energy bucket was bone dry by every evening. I usually got home an hour or two before the DDH, which gave me enough time (most days) to build up just enough energy to deal with him, and no more.

I was lonely, I had no friends--but I also had zero energy to deal with any if I had them. The fact that my interaction-with-others quota was being exceeded every day masked the loneliness.


Then I started staying home with T-Rex. Most days, the only person I see is the baby, with the DDH for a few hours in the evening and the occasional encounter with a cashier. While there are some days when T-Rex's demands still manage to drain me (even the dogs take their share from that energy bucket, I've discovered), my dealing-with-other-people energy bucket rarely runs dry anymore.

While I was working, I thought I had friends via the internet. See, introverts also hate small talk--it's a big waste of our limited energy stores. And you don't need to small talk the internet. You can read blogs and leave comments and discuss the sorts of deep issues you might get into over an evening coffee date with a good friend, without all the hi-how-are-yous-nice-weather-we're-having-isn't-its.

So with my energy bucket empty and my discussion bucket at least somewhat full, I thought I was doing okay.

At first while staying home I spent even more time on the internet, until finally I realized--these people weren't my friends. I read their words and I wrote mine in the comments, but I didn't really know them and they didn't really know me. You. I don't really know you, and you don't really know me, and as much as we might enjoy our conversations, I can't call any of you up for a picnic in the park or a baby-free evening at a coffee shop. (Which doesn't mean I don't enjoy reading and commenting. You know what I mean, I think.)

I stopped reading a lot of the blogs. Or I would read them, but not comment. It just seemed pointless. And now I'm to the point where I have dozens of people liking my cute pictures of T-Rex on Facebook, but no one who will come to my house for a dinner party, even when I offer to provide all the food. There's no one I can talk to about my frustrations or work out a problem with.


This week I learned that New Mexico does not reciprocate with any other states for bar passage. In other words, the only way the DDH could ever work there is if a) he got a federal law job (unlikely, but always possible. maybe.) or b) he takes the bar exam again, which at this point he has sworn he will never do (and he's really bad at standardized tests, so that's probably a good plan on his part).

In other words, we will never move back to my hometown. We will never live near my parents or the friends who live there, who are still friends, or would be, if we lived close and our lives could better include each other.

I don't really know what to do about it. I've tried for five years to make friends here, but the one I succeeded in making moved away last month. It's hopeless, I guess. As an INTJ who's not that into Feelings, I don't really know how I feel about that.

But I think it's sad. I think how I'm feeling is sad.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Red white and blue like the fourth of July

Dressed for the day. ;-)
July is my favorite month.

Of course it is. It's my birth month. I was due June twentieth, and I was born next week. Well, next week twenty-seven years ago.

Clearly baby-me knew that July was the best of months and desired to firmly declare it as my own.

Watching firecrackers.
T-Rex is still not back to sleeping all through the night but he's doing a little better and I'm trying to just roll with it. The DDH does not take quite as relaxed a view, but then, the DDH has to get up and go to work every morning.

Yesterday we spent the day at my in-laws' lounging around, eating hamburgers and setting off fireworks. T-Rex took these completely in stride. You could practically see him saying, "Ok, this is a thing that happens in the world" and adding it to his little mental Encyclopedia of Life.

My mother-in-law's sister and her husband are in town, and I do love them. It's nice to see out-of-town family.

I cannot believe this weather. Last night, while watching fireworks, I kind of felt like a sweater wouldn't have gone amiss, when the breeze rose. I needed a blanket while nursing T-Rex in the hammock. We ate lunch out on the porch. This is usually impossible in Oklahoma in July. But yesterday was beautiful.


My stepfather-in-law's father (got that?) and I share a birthday, so we celebrated that yesterday as well. We have 110 years between us. I love sharing a birthday with him.

Next week and the week after, T-Rex has swimming lessons! Because he is the first child and I'm already preparing reasons for subsequent children to declare he's my favorite. Also because he loves baths so I think he might like pools.

Family portrait.
The DDH's brother is supposed to visit sometime this month, and then my dad and brother are coming at the end of the month. T-Rex and I plan to take off with them to help move my brother to his new home (he's entering a doctorate of music program in Mississippi), and Dad and I plan to swing up and visit family in Austin on the way back. Then my sister and her boyfriend are coming to visit.

Some of that will be in August, but still. July is always a good month, and I'm hoping this year will not disappoint.

Stop! Hammock time.