Monday, May 27, 2013

A few book reviews

So, I just finished reading Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich.  Writer Barbara Ehrenreich and her editor conceive of a sociological experiment wherein Barbara tries to earn a living wage working in minimum wage situations.
It made me super grateful for the advantages I've had and the changes that have come down since she wrote it in 2001.  But it also left sort of a bad taste in my mouth.  I can't tell whether I think that she's a wimp (although some of the jobs she does sound like absolute hell) or it's that I agree with her.  It's a complicated feeling.  She's very pro-Union, which doesn't bother me most of the time and annoys me the rest of the time.  I am ambivalent.
At the same time I was reading Nickel and Dimed, I was reading The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University by Kevin Roose.  Kevin Roose is a student at Brown.  While working for journalist A.J. Jacobs (whose excellent book A Year of Living Biblically actually pointed me to The Unlikely Disciple), Roose gets the idea to spend a semester at Liberty University, an evagelical Christian school founded by televangelist Jerry Falwell.
Overall, I enjoyed the book but it felt a little like Roose didn't know what he wanted to include or leave out.  There are some threads that he picks up and that don't really go anywhere.  A certain number of those are bound to end up in a project like this, but one can't help but wondering if they shouldn't have been edited out.  For example, the story he starts the book with doesn't really ever resolve.  But it's a solid read for anyone who is interested in how evangelical christians are socialized in an institutional setting.
This book did depress me, though, and for no reason actually related to the text.  Roose talks about the Virginia Tech in his semester and it made me realize we are the same age.  Didn't I want to be a writer at some point?  But I don't have a book and this guy does.  Damn it all.  I better get off my butt.
In side news, the house is still wet, and sort of is getting a musty smell.  We're doing what we can, but it is much slower going than we would like.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

What a frickin' day

Mom, my brother and I spent the morning putting in the garden.  Lala was reasonably interested and behaved alright.  She started kicking off a little after lunch.  Between allergies kicking my ass, how uncertain everything's been and how unsettled my day off was shaping up to be, I was pretty annoyed.  I decided to throw another load of laundry in and try to nurse her to sleep.
I stepped into Bard and I's bedroom into a standing puddle of water on the carpet.  It was spreading slowly, running like a tiny creek throughout the room.  I freaked out.  I burst into hysterical tears.  It was just too much.  The mess of clothes, papers, electronics (!) that were all across the floor waiting to be tidied later today were sitting on top of an inch of water.
So Bard and Mom and my brother jumped into action while I freaked out in the living room for a little bit.  The water was in Mom's room and the bathroom as well.  The landlord came, as did my stepdad, and everyone began the tedious task of unburying the source of the problem and cleaning up the ridiculous mess. Somewhere in the line between the bedroom and the hose on the side of the house, a pipe had cracked.  So when we turned on the hose to water the garden, water essentially gushed in the house.
I took the baby out of the house, since our things and shop vacs were suddenly taking over all the space in our little house.  We wandered around Big Box for a while, visiting with the old ladies until we could go home.  The house needed time to dry out so Bard and I ended up taking Lala out into the world for a while.  When we got back, it still wasn't dry but moreso, so we took a really long walk around the neighborhood.
By the time we got home, I was totally done.  I just wanted to go and be in my room for a little while.  But everything was still pretty wet.
All in all, a pretty crappy day.  I'm just grateful nothing too valuable was totally destroyed and that it's a mess we can clean up in time.  Bleeeeehhh.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Lala has decided that she doesn't want to sleep for the second day in a row.  I'm really starting to feel the effects of not getting any sleep.
Not that she was a great sleeper in the first place.  Most sleep advice out there is aimed at parents of newborns or involves the cry it out method.  I just can't do that right now.  Part of it is that it hurts me too bad.  I can't stand to listen to her cry and not do anything about it.  I have trouble thinking of soothing my baby as indulgent.  I have trouble with the thought that even though she's shaking and blotchy and red from crying that she didn't need me in the first place.  But an even bigger obstacle to cry it out is that she lives in our room.  Her crib is at the foot of our bed.  How cruel would it be to be within her sight and not respond to her?  How much sleep would we get if she was crying away in the same room?  No thanks.
She hasn't been a terrible sleeper in the past couple of months.  She got into a good pattern where she only woke up a handful of time throughout the night to nurse (and usually I'm the only one that she woke and not for long) and would sleep, consistently, until about nine-thirty or ten.
But about a week ago that all fell apart.
A lot of parenting advice warned me that this shift in sleep was coming-but it wasn't supposed to be for another month or so.  She does things on her own schedule.  She's cutting teeth, which is uncomfortable and makes her feel icky, causing her to wake screaming bloody murder in the wee hours of the morning.  But otherwise, it just seems that there's been a shift in her sleep.  She stays up later (which is ridiculous because in my opinion she already stayed up way too late.  A part of me is grateful since I'm stuck working nights at Big Box; it's nice to be able to see her and snuggle her.) and she gets up earlier.  But she's not in any sort of pattern yet.
I sort of wish I could stick to a schedule with her.  She needs her rest and I definitely need  my rest.  But with Big Box randomness it is currently sort of impossible.
It's probably not helping that I've been feeling an adrenaline rush since I started this graduate school process.  The crazies have set in, filling up my notebook with list after list of things I need to do, plan, get, etc.
What I wouldn't give for a decent night of sleep.

Monday, May 20, 2013

New Look!

Hey, just a quick note.  I'm starting a new blog.  It's going to be focused on my professional development and reading and my graduate studies work. (If you're interested:  I feel a little like I'll be tempted to bog it down here, and I'm not so into that.  So I gave this blog a little template change so they're sufficiently different.  That's all.  Love!


I am procrastinating.  I need to get that under control.  Maybe this isn't the best place to talk about this.  Rather, this isn't the right time.
I am doing things that need to be done: I am starting to craft a budget to go back to school, I'm making a list of projects that need to be completed to move, I'm doing laundry and contemplating leaving the computer for a bit to get a workout in.  But I'm not doing what I should be doing, what currently tops the priority chart.  Namely, I am not writing my letter of intent for my grad application.
I find this type of writing incredibly daunting.  I don't like to write to praise myself.  I sort of find talking about why I want things difficult.  This is probably especially difficult since it was such a last minute decision on my part.  I had been mulling it over but I realize that I haven't really thought about it.
I need help!  I don't really know who to ask.  Perhaps I just need to really muscle through it.  Turn off my internet for a while and just write it.
I need to learn from this experience.  I need lead time.  I don't work well under pressure.  At least, I distract myself constantly when under pressure.  I will learn this lesson.  I will take this lesson to grad school and try to never get in this spot with assignments.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Internet Clicks

Everyone seems to be all over Pinterest these days.  Even the most techno-illiterate people on my Facebook feed (they still hunt-and-peck!) are on Pinterest.  But for whatever reason, I missed the wave.  What's weird is I typically love aggregators like that.  I would like to give it another fair shake, but I'm a little preoccupied with with graduate school stuff.  So let me share a couple of my current go-to clicks.

Let me start with Goodreads.  It is precisely what it sound like, a site to find good books to check out.  You can rate and review books that you've read and receive recommendations for further reading.  You can organize books that you have read, are reading or would like to read on your profile.  There are also book lists, made by site members and moderators, centered around certain themes.  When I was first introduced to the site, I went a little crazy on it.  I rated about four hundred books, and put about a hundred more on my "to-read" shelf.  I haven't had much of a chance to get involved in the community aspects of the site.  It has been interesting to read reviews.  Unlike a site like Amazon, where you get reviews more from a customer angle, Goodreads reviewers usually style themselves a lot like critics.  It's a lot more like reading an editorial review.  I could go on and on but I'll stop except to say that I recently went on a used books shopping spree and bought  mostly books on my "to-read" shelf.

Next is Houzz, which is sort of like a bevy of home magazines with all the articles cut out.  It is tons and tons of pictures of home spaces (and home products like sofas and beds and whatnot).  On the site you can create ideabooks, where you can collect images that inspire you.  The site also has the capability to point you towards local professionals that could help you in remodeling-contractors, furniture stores, etc.  Since I am currently poor as dirt, I haven't used this service so I can't speak to its usefulness.  You can browse others' ideabooks or search the images for a specific feature, such as small kitchens or English garden.  There are also a number of useful and just humorous articles on home-related topics.

So those two are my current internet obsessions.  I'm sure when Pinterest gets a fair shake, I'll be super addicted just like everyone else I know.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Dream House

I don't live in a beautiful place.
I've always wanted to live in a place that looked intentional, designed, right down to the bathroom and maybe even the closets.  Like a magazine.  But not really like a magazine, because I would actually like to live there.  And not really exactly like a magazine in that I would like it to be my design and my intention in the space.  Or perhaps mine and someone else's.
I used to think that that was crazy, because I never really knew anyone that lived that way.  But with the increased popularity of design shows and blogs, better design for everyday living seems more in reach than ever before.  Although right now most of my things are inherited, I believe that I'll be able to turn that around someday.
The whole picture is a little overwhelming.  Over the years I have started vaguely collecting things that I like the look of and sort of trying to get a picture in my head.  And so, I've decided to make a list of these things and update it as I discover things I like or refine what I'm after.  I am a list person, so you should probably expect more in the future.

I should probably learn to tidy up better, too, though....

Designs "cues" that I enjoy

  • Light.  I love tons of light.  Pretty standard desire.  It's complicated a little by the fact that my main design partner-Bard-likes things dim.  Dim has its place, and I want it as an option, but tons of diffuse white light is really what I crave.
  • Minimalism.  I prefer things to look clean and relatively uncluttered.  With one glaring exception
  • Books!  Books literally everywhere.  Kids' books, grown-up books, textbooks, cookbooks.  I think as far as clutter goes this is my greatest weakness.  As I type, there are eight new acquisitions on the coffee table/bench in the living room.  I would love to have a room to call the library.
  •  Visual warmth and some softness.  Style I am attracted to can be a little harsh.  It needs to be softened up with textiles or warm colors or sweet touches.
  • Buddha.  A little dash of Buddha is always nice.  There is something exotic, peaceful and human about them.  Although I don't understand the glitter Buddhas I've seen.
  • Quirky details.  By which I mean tchotchkes, I think.  I like spaces that one can explore and discover new things every time.  Or maybe just things to play with.
  • Framed art.  My preferred art is probably photography.  I like black and white photography because it's classic and goes with pretty much anything at all.  Black and white can make even a mediocre photo better.  But I also like quirky colorful pieces.
  • Hardwood floors.  I think because I hate to vacuum and love to sock skate.  Still thinking  on this.
  • Circles.  So round.  So perfect.
  • Contrast.  I love the classic black and white look, but anything with a lot of contrast is really pleasing to my eye.
That's it for now, I suppose.  This was fun.  :)

Thursday, May 16, 2013


I wish I wasn't so socially awkward.  I need to scrounge up some recommendations for grad school but I'm nervous about asking people.  Especially since I need at least one focusing on my teaching performance and I did not keep up relationships with the people I worked with on my student teaching.  I honestly don't know how to keep in touch with people.  Grah.  I've had a message to my old boss open for a while that I'm not sure how to word or how to send.
Why am I so awkward?
I get physically twitchy trying to do this type of thing.  I'm super bent out of shape.  I need to relax.
Or eat a lot of cake.
Relaxing's probably better for me....

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

School: Grad-u-it, eventually grad-u-ate

I'm being trepidatious about applying to grad school.  (So much so that I distracted myself with an interesting defense of trepidatious as a word here. I vote yeah.  Or is it yay?)  I am applying to my alma mater.  I went on the website to see what I would have to do and discovered that the application deadline had been extended from April 1.  I should take it as a sign!  I need to get on this.  But I'm so nervous.
1! I hate rejection.  Who doesn't?  I am so scared that they're going to say no after I get my hopes up.  That my heart will be broken.
2!  I don't know if I can afford it.  Going back to school means moving and trying to negotiate a new living situation, a new work situation, books, childcare, food, tuition.  I can barely afford my life right now.  Let me add in school, the job that you pay.  I don't know if we can carry it.
3!  I don't know if I'm ready.  My brain feels totally dead lately.  I am having trouble just balancing some recreational reading and writing with my everyday life with Lala and Bard.  Can I really carry a course-load?   I want school to be successful.  Can I truly devote the time I need to do this correctly?
4!  A biggie!  I don't know that I know what I want to do.  When I apply it will be for literacy education.  I don't know if that's wise.  I like parts of teaching.  I love to write lesson plans (well, come up with the ideas for lessons).  I love working with kids, I love having a job that I can take home and mull over (and have that actually work out for me).  I love the hours and the kid-friendliness of the profession.  But I'm intimidated by parents, other teachers and staff, socially awkward in a way that hinders my progress.  Should I spend the money and time and effort to get this Master's if I'm not sure I want to pursue this profession?  Should I leave this profession behind when I haven't gotten a chance to really experience it, and what I have experienced I have loved?
The window for the application is open.
I am going to do it.  I can do it.
In other news, I am making fettuccine alfredo for dinner.  I'll post the recipe later.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Buddy Cops!

An idea for a d20 game hit me like a bolt in the blue!
For the uninitiated, when I say d20 game, I mean any number of pen-and-paper role-playing games that utilize a 20 sided die in their main mechanics.  In college, Bard and I game with great regularity, and I would love to get back into it.  However, it's a tough sell for people who've never played them before, especially non-nerds, and I have no friends here in the big OH.
Oh, college.  It was so easy to meet people there.  At Big Box, most of the people I work with are old enough to be my grandmother.
Anyway!  Since Bard and I mostly on our own for nerd stuff unless we manage to get online (and both of us online for any sort of uninterrupted time with an infant to care for would have to be some kind of ridiculous miracle) games that we can play by ourselves are great.  The downside is that many genres don't necessarily work with that diminished force.  In fantasy, the four man party is really the ideal.
Enter the buddy-cop scenario!  Two man groups are really best for this type of investigative dynamic, and outside characters can be episodic.  I can think of countless examples across multiple genres from Scully and Mulder to Shawn and Gus  Further, we could take turns making adventures for the other to take the lead in discovering, allowing the writer of the adventure to act in a more supportive role.
I'm thinking either present day or some sort of sci-fi future type of setting.  I'll have to present the idea to Bard when he gets home today.  Perhaps we can talk preliminaries on our walk.

Holy Rainstorm, Batman

The rain has been super heavy this week.  Thunderstorms have rolled into the area last night with thunder so loud that it shook the house.  It is crazy and kind of awesome.  The rain comes down in sheets as though someone has just overturned a bucket on the world.
The unfortunate side effect is that family walks are on hold all week.  (My working at night hasn't helped, either, though.)   Bard's momentum has ground to a halt and I feel his inertia affecting us both.  I need rainy days activities for him.  I'm happy to do an exercise DVD (even on nice days) but him, not so much.
I worry that I'm pushing too much on him.  He has these goals but doesn't seem too enthusiastic.  I feel like he's afraid of failure.  It's hard to draw him into that conversation.
My two favorite people
I read a magazine article once in high school.  Less an article and more a fashion photo spread.  I was getting front highlights (like Rogue from X-Men; I carried that look for years.  Embarrassing.) and the only magazine within arm's reach was Vogue or something like that.  Anyway, this "article" was called "Homme Improvement."  The phrase stuck with me.  The meaning for the article was something like dress your man like a boho hipster (or whatever was cool at the time).  For me, it struck something of a sour note.  I was dating someone at the time who could definitely use some "Homme Improvement" but it seemed dishonest at a level.  Aren't you supposed to like people for who they are?  Don't we pity women who try to change their man?
But I want to help Bard with change that he wants.  Something about this time feels different to me.  Like I'm finally ready.  If I follow my plan, I'll be to my goal weight by the time Lala is two.  But I don't know if Bard is ready.
Grah!  I'm probably thinking too much.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Am I hungry?

Quite seriously, at this moment I do not know if I'm hungry.  How can I tell?  I ate at about eleven thirty.  Pizza, which wasn't my first choice.  Bard is acting reticent, but things have been stressful, so I pulled back a little.  I don't want to push him too hard.  I had a handful of strawberries about twenty minutes ago.
Am I hungry?  Bored?  Tired?  Bleeeeeeeh.

Workout DVDs

Now that I have Lala, I have realized how much time I used to fritter away on randomness.  In my quest to get healthy, I need to find solid blocks of time to workout.  If I work nights (as I, unfortunately, have been of late thanks to Big Box), I can usually fit in a short workout between the time I wake up and the time she wakes up.  So I'm trying out various workout DVDs to see what works the best.
The first I got my hands on was Yoga for Weight Loss.  I really love yoga.  I feel so good when I'm doing it. That said, I'm still pretty much a beginner.  This DVD was a little advanced for me and it was a little over an hour long.  The music was nice and the routine was easy to follow.  The instructor made it look easy (it isn't!) so that's a pro or a con, depending on your personality.  Maybe as I get in better shape and Lala gets older, this will work better.  But for now, it's a no-go.  I'll revisit it later.
Today I tried out Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition the Workout.  It has three leveled workouts at fifteen, twenty and thirty minutes.  It ramps up the intensity appropriately between the levels.  I did the Level 1 workout and found it mostly too easy, so I'll be trying Level 2 tomorrow. Chris Powell, the instructor, is as motivating as he is hunky.  The first level is probably good for people just starting who are significantly out of shape.  My biggest complaint is that it's a little sedate and from time to time the camera work throws off the rhythm to follow Chris while he speaks rather than the people working out.
I need to track down my other DVDs.  Moving forward!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Long time, no see....

Time!  I haven't gotten to write in a while, and that sucks!  I am sorry, me, for not taking this time.  I am sorry, you, for promising things and then disappearing.  Not cool.
Lala sleeps like her mother sometimes...
Between working, looking for better work, taking care of Lala and taking care of my marriage and my health I have had very little time to myself that I have not used either napping or just vegging.  But I'm trying to be more active in all ways, so back to this!
Actually, I missed writing in my blog immensely.  It is a place where I can work out the threads going through my head. Part of the issue is that I started a blog post that was really too emotional to write at the time and I got blocked.  I still want to write that post, about the process of having my daughter, but for now it can rest. I'm still processing the thoughts and emotions and events, even though it's seven months later.  It's a complex post.  I'll let it stew a while longer.
Updates!  The breastfeeding is going very well.  I'll devote a whole post to it, but Lala is now just over seven months old and we've only supplemented with formula probably twice.  Lala started on homemade purees (also a likely post) and baby cereal.  She loves peas, hooray! We're actually looking at using formula now to mix into Lala's cereal since her schedule is a little wonky thanks to my wonky Big Box schedule.  The pumping is going well on and off.
My emotions have been raging over the past several months.  Lala is not exactly an easy baby.  I love her with every atom of my being and I wouldn't trade anything for her.  But she's particular and very sensitive.  Bard and I have had to seriously work on our relationship.  We're in a better place where we try to communicate more but there are still challenges.  We both feel a little stuck and that can be a real strain on us.  Things are unstable in our home life otherwise, as well, though going into that opens up and entirely different can of worms.  I've been trying to be more mentally and socially healthy but it has been a struggle.
The weight struggle continues.  I hate to be uncomfortable, but I have a renewed fervor in the last weeks.  Bard has started looking at joining the military.  I feel like it would be a good move for our financial stability and that work in that vein will give him the satisfaction he wants out of a career.  To do that, though, he needs to get into better shape and lose a significant amount of weight.  So I'm trying to be part coach, part cheerleader, part drill sergeant.  Bard is hard to push.  He shuts down after too much.  So I'm trying a lighter touch and to be enthusiastic and active myself.  Today I had a minor victory at the market.  I bought only healthy snacks!  I'm sure we'll be able to do it if we push/support one another.
Yesterday, I had a conversation with someone at work who had written a book.  A few friends of mine have written books and gotten them published.  Selling on Amazon!  What the hell am I waiting for?  I can't tell you; I don't know.  I don't feel as though I'm that good.  I am definitely not that disciplined.  But with all this other disciplining I'm trying to do, maybe I should reconsider.
I feel uninspired.  I was telling Bard that I feel as though my brain has atrophied.  I don't feel as clever or as intelligent or as creative as I used to.  I want to get back there.  Maybe if I try writing again it will help.  I got a burst of energy on our RPG Maker project the other day and my brain felt pretty good for a while.  Maybe it, just like my body, just needs a more strenuous workout than Big Box can provide.
I just got an idea for a d20 Modern or maybe d20 Future game I could play with my husband.  End navel-gazing stream of consciousness!  Begin possible game notes!