Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Harry Potter Day

Today is Harry Potter's birthday!  As per tradition, we celebrated by having a full English breakfast for dinner.  

As per new tradition, we dressed Babyface up and took a lot of pictures.  Why wait for Halloween?  Not that he'll be Harry Potter for Halloween.  I mean, he might be...I don't know!  Except I do.  Ahem.  This is the picture I posted on Facebook...

...and here are some of the other cute ones.  (The onesie is another iron-on--which I have decided is the easiest way to make something awesome.)

Story: We took all these pictures and then I remembered the pair of black shorts I meant to put on him.  So I drew that scar on again and we took more! 


Happy birthday, Harry!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A Curse Dark as Gold (Book Review)

Author: Elizabeth C. Bunce
Year: 2008
Genre: Fairy Tale

Reading Level: Young Adult

Literary Awards:
Cybils Award (2008), William C. Morris YA Debut Award (2009), Smithsonian Notable Book, ALA Best Books for Young Adults. for Young Adults (2009), Oprah's Book Club Kids' Reading List Teen Selection (2009) Kansas Notable Book Medal (2009), 150 Best Books/150 Years - Kansas Sesquicentennial List (2011), Tennessee Volunteer State Book Award Finalist (2011), Pacific Northwest Library Association Young Reader's Choice Award Finalist (2011), Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books Blue Ribbon Book (2009), Iowa High School Battle of the Books Selection (2010), Arkansas Teen Book Award (2009), Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Books List (2009), Amelia Bloomer Book List (2009) 

Plot Summary: When Charlotte Miller inherits her family's mill, everyone expects her to quickly fail at running it.  It doesn't help that the mill is haunted by perpetual bad luck--or is it something more sinister?  Charlotte, determined to save her mill at all costs, has to delve into the mill's shadowy past if it's to have a future.

(That was a cheesy line.)
Red Flags: Witchcrafty folklore magic, ghosts, general supernaturalness

My Rating: B+
I wanted to love this book--it is a fairy tale retelling after all!  And, well, I didn't love it.  But I did like it (Sarah!).  I like the story and the characters were good (Rosie was my favorite), though there were a few too many townsfolk for me to keep track of.  The book suffered a bit from my taking a really long time to read it* and I got a little frustrated at how long it took for the fairy tale element to come in.  What I liked best about the story were the supernatural/ghostly/fairy tale elements, but the author focused more the historical aspects.  I think, in theory, that is a good tactic for a fairy tale rewrite, but this one was a little heavy on the mill stuff and history.  But at the same time, I can see that being a real selling point for other readers.

Overall, it was an interesting take on the Rumpelstiltskin story, but I wish that element had come into play sooner.  Also I wish there had been a diagram of a mill to refer to because I couldn't picture a bloomin' thing. 

*I had two books come in on hold that I had to read before they were due.

Memorable lines:


"Do other mothers behold their newborn sons as I did?  Do they all find themselves stopped, breathless, in what they were doing to merely stare, in wonder, at the tiny life before them?  Do they hold fast to their hungry babes and think fierce thoughts about their futures?  Do they draw out a wide circle and say, 'Nothing will intrude upon this sacred space?'  I do not know; I think they must--but I must also admit I felt as thought I had brought forth the only child in the universe, that I had performed the greatest  miracle in the history of creation, and that nothing since time began was blessed with quite the brilliance and perfection of my son William."

Monday, July 22, 2013

Dipping Toes and Growing

When you're a baby, pretty much everything is new.  This is no exception for my own Babycakes, who has been doing all kinds of new things this summer.  This past Saturday we went up to Bear Lake with the rest of Drew's family.  It was his longest car ride so far and he did great, save for about 15 minutes before we got to Logan (and it still wasn't that bad).  

Once we arrived, he got into his super cute swimsuit, preparatory to, um, sitting and being held while we went out on the water trampoline (exactly what it sounds like).  Then we took him out to the water because I was determined that he should put some part of his body in the lake. 

He did not care for the sun:

But he looked so fetching in his little hat that he's borrowed from one of his baby friends (thanks, Hales!):

The big moment!

This is as far as he went:

Maybe next summer?

He liked it better than pool water!  A little bit...:

After the beach it seemed very appropriate to put him in this lil beach buddy outfit for lounging:

This picture is so cute it makes my eyes fall out!  Look at that face!  So bright-eyed!  So...concerned!

After some hot dogs and smores, we headed home again at bedtime.  He slept the whole way and I had a wee nap myself.  It was a fun, long day and a success all around.

The next day was his two month mark!  Isn't that wild?  We celebrated by taking some pictures with his old hat from the hospital.  It's super stretchy so it still fits but it doesn't look quite the same.  Here's what he looked like two months ago:

Oh that tiny face!  Here is what he looks like now (or yesterday, if you want to be particular):

Oh my double-chinned baby.  Then he decided to be all cute and smiley and the bigger he smiled the more his hat fell off:

And if that weren't enough celebration, we took him to the doctor today for his check up.  All of his hard work at growing was rewarded by multiple pokes of the needle, which made him very sad.  But then he was rewarded with a nap and Snoopy band-aids (appropriate for his name, yes?) and got happy again.  

For those interested parties (Mom), here are his stats!  He's 12 pounds, 11.5 ounces (73%) and 24 inches long (85%), with a perfectly round head and all the developmental abilities he's expected to have.  Judging by how the pediatrician went on (and on) about tummy time, he is way ahead of the curve on holding his head up.  Way to excel, baby!  Now let's work on shaking that cradle cap, hmmmmmm?

Saturday, July 20, 2013


Several years ago, I got a job.  It was a good job all around--it sent me to London and gave me all kinds of bonuses and perks and promotions.  Of course, it was also sometimes dull and frustrating because that's what jobs do at times.  But overall, it was a good experience and I've been happy and lucky to have a steady job the last 3+ years.  Now that I have a new job, Drewbles and I decided it was time to retire from cataloging and work from home instead.  Even though my co-worker is lazy and sometimes yells at me, I like this new job. 

So last Friday morning I went to collect all my trinkets and doodads.  Here is what I came home with:

It's actually a pretty good summary of my work experience.  Let's examine!  

For the sake of my timecard, I had to keep track of all the records I did in a day and I used post-its to do it.  For some reason I kept them all:

I also wound up with a whole lot of papers, thanks to various trainings and paperwork for a whole lot of contracts I worked on.  For some reason I kept all of them also:

Everything else I brought home used to live on my desk, like a lot of figures:





And some random things, like stickers from clementines:

So, now begin the days of being at home and clipping coupons and folding laundry!  I am happy to be at home with my little bird, but I won't deny that I would like to do something, at some point, to make a little moolah of my own.  Drew thinks I should start an etsy shop with Care Bear tummies and mobiles.  We'll see about the meantime I have to figure out what the heck to do with all this stuff.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


This baby is less than a week away from his 2 month mark!  I am recognizing the occasion by looking at a lot of old pictures and being amazed at how little he used to be.  He'll never be that tiny again!  Well, let's not get mushy.  Here is what life is like for the Speck these days:
  • He smiles a lot, sometimes at us and sometimes at the wall (there's one wall he REALLY likes).  
  • He's not quite laughing yet, but he giggles in his sleep daily.  When awake he'll smile really big and make a gagging sort of sound so...he's getting close!
  • He likes bathtime and will sit in the tub perfectly quiet and wide-eyed.  Naked babies are funny.
  • He is always pleasant and funny.  The only time he really cries is in the night when he's impatiently hungry and I insist on changing his diaper first.  O, the insolence of me.
  • He is in 0-3 months clothes, but some are already snug lengthwise, though roomy widthwise.  I know--a baby that doesn't fit into baby clothes sizing perfectly?  Absurd!
He's not on a firm schedule, but I am nudging him into a nice pattern of eating, playing and then napping.  It is hard to not have him sleep so cuddly on me at all times, but I am trying to get him used to falling asleep on his own (not by crying--I just put him in his bed when he's drowsy but still awake and he falls asleep within three minutes).  But we're still nap buddies pretty often because, come on, he'll spend 99% of his life sleeping in his own bed.

The only sort of schedule I try to stick with is his newish bed routine.  He goes to bed between 8:30 and 9 and then he gets fed again between 10:30-11 while he's still asleep (the "dream feed" if you want to get mommyspeak about it).  This is pretty new and the first few nights he woke up at 2:30 and 5, before starting his day at 7.  The last few he's slept until 4 and then got up at 7.  Hopefully he sticks more to the 4 o'clock so I can watch Smallville reruns.  

Anyhoo, he is a very good baby and nearly always happy.  And he's ALWAYS cute which means it's picture time!  

This picture cracks me up.  He looks so tiny and impish.  And those jammies don't fit him anymore.  *weeps*

He is an expert at planking.  (When he is a teenager, please pretend you never saw him in a diaper.)

Matchy matchy!  We got these shirts last year and it seemed a shame to not get him one.  Rather than buy one for $25, I made him an iron on (like my Care Bears shirt).  Sadly, I later dripped chocolate ice cream on it.

 We bought him these overalls in, like, February and he fits them now!  He wears them often, for obvious reasons.

I love those nighties but sometimes they defeat me.

 Look at those hands!  So delicate!  Oh you, baby.
(Every time I wash that darn Boppy cover it gets spit up on five minutes later.)

 Most of his clothes are used/hand me downs, but when I saw this swimsuit (on sale!) at Old Navy I said "YES, THIS."
(He does not care for pool water.)

Happy almost-two-months birthday, baby!  I like you.  Thanks for liking me!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Revenge Wears Prada (Book Review)

Author: Lauren Weisberger
Year: 2013
Genre: Chick lit

Reading Level: Adult

Plot Summary: Ten years after quitting her job at Runway and escaping the nightmare that was working for Miranda Priestly, Andrea Sachs has found job satisfaction and is about to marry the man of her dreams.  Her happiness is short lived, as her personal life takes a turn for the unexpected.  When Miranda Priestly enters her life again, Andrea isn't sure her career--or sanity--can survive another tenure under Miranda's thumb.
Red Flags: Language, some canoodling, an overabundance of descriptions

My Rating: C
I have this weird thing for Lauren Weisberger's books, in that I have to read all of them but I think they are almost all terribleWell, her latest does not break this trend.  The Devil Wears Prada was decent (and spawned a fun movie), but this follow-up is as disappointing as it is unnecessary.  For one thing, Miranda is hardly in it and there is no revenge on anyone.   In fact, I'm pretty sure the word "revenge" isn't even used in this book.  It's really just an update on Andy's life and most of her life is not super interesting--at least not interesting enough to warrant nearly 400 pages.  She spends most of her time mentally freaking out about things that happened ten years earlier.

It's not that Lauren Weisberger is the worst writer, but she's just not very good either.  While I get that these books involve trendy fashion things, these books are going to be so painfully dated in just a few years.  Along those lines, she is obsessed with useless details.  Not just clothes (which makes sense), but even things like the types of food at a dinner and the unending name dropping.  Must we list every item of food at a clam bake that happened years before the book's timeline?  Must we mention that Andy gets weekly e-mails from Babycenter?  Must we mention that her fiance has his own espresso machine?  Must we??  I expected a certain amount of name dropping and fashion description from this book (and that does not bother me), but if you took out all of that it would be a slim book indeed.

I'm not against a fluffy book by any means, and honestly, I have never read any good chick lit.  But still, I exercise my right to think this book is lame!  

(I should say that I did kind of enjoy the last 50 pages or so, when things happened.)

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Things I've Learned from Pushing Daisies

We just started watching Pushing Daisies, and it's fun and stuff.  Here are some conclusions I've come to, here at the end of season 1:
  • I get the Lee Pace thing.  Now I can shake my head at his unfortunate involvement in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part Two: Breaking Dawnier with everyone else.
  • Ned and Chuck are just delightful.  There should be more TV relationships like this.
  • My cheesebox needs so much more cheese in it!
  • I want everything Chuck wears.
  • I'm pretty sure Zooey Deschanel thinks she is Chuck.
So...that's all.

(Okay, okay, bonus CAG:

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Fault in Our Stars (Book Review)

Author: John Green
Year: 2012
Genre: Novel

Reading Level: Young Adult

Literary Awards:  
Odyssey Award (2013), Goodreads Choice Award for Best Young Adult Fiction (2012), ALA Teens' Top Ten Nominee (2012), Indies Choice Book Award for Young Adult (2013), Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis Nominee for Preis der Jugendjury (2013) Dioraphte Jongerenliteratuurprijs (2013), The Inky Awards for Silver Inky (2012), Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (2014)

Plot Summary: Hazel's life is destined to be a short one, thanks to cancer.  She spends her days at community classes and being optimistic for the sake of her parents.  At a support group meeting, Hazel meets the good-looking, one-legged, fascinating Augustus Waters, and her life expands far beyond community college and cancer.  

Red Flags: Language (mostly PG-13), some teenage drinking, very mild teenage canoodling, heavy thematic content

My Rating: A
I loved this book.  It's engrossing, it's well written, it's memorable.  When I start reading a super popular book I'm always a bit wary, since popular opinion and I often disagree. In this case, popular opinion got it right because this book actually is good.  Here are some reasons why: The characters are good.  The story is good.  The writing is good.  I liked it.  I am very articulate.

The story felt real and the characters felt like real people, with quirks and mannerisms that didn't sound written (like so often happens).  I couldn't predict the story, and I liked the bittersweetness of the ending.  It's sad but not depressingly so and it's not consumed with its own tragedy.  There's perspective and understanding.  

I liked the development of the relationships.  I liked that there were parents who cared about their kids and kids who cared about their parents.  I liked that Augustus called her Hazel Grace.  I'm sure some people get giggly over the dreamy guy and girl-meets-boy elements, but I think that cheapens their relationship and the book as a whole.  

Two small complaints: I felt like there was a vague kind of anti-religion sentiment.  Maybe I imagined it?  And second, some of the teen dialogue reminded of Juno--which I do not really like.  I thought that less as it went on but there you go.

Overall, I think John Green has a great talent for words and this is a book worth reading.  It was lovely to read, even when it wasn't lovely, and I was sad when it was over.  I read the last 100 pages or so in one sitting, with my little reading buddy and when I finished it, I felt compelled to take this picture: 

(I think the cover is hideous.) 

(But that baby is super cute.)

Memorable lines:
"I was a bit of a Victorian Lady, fainting-wise."--ch. 2

"My favorite book, by a wide margin, was An Imperial Affliction, but I didn't like to tell people about it.  Sometimes you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.  And then there are books like An Imperial Affliction, which you can't tell people about, books so special and rare and yours that advertising your affection feels like a betrayal."--ch. 2

"I missed the future...I felt robbed.  I would probably never again see the ocean from thirty thousand feet above, so far up that you can't make out the waves or any boats, so that the ocean is a great and endless monolith.  I could imagine it.  I could remember it.  But I couldn't see it again, and it occurred to me that the voracious ambition of humans is never sated by dreams coming true, because there is always the thought that everything might be done better and again."--ch. 25

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Dreamland (Book Review)

Author: Sarah Dessen
Year: 2004
Genre: Novel

Reading Level: Young Adult

Literary Awards:
An ALA Best Book for Young Adults, An Editors Choice for (2000), New York Library Book for the Teen Age 

Plot Summary: Caitlin has spent her life so far as an also-ran, always in her sister's shadow.  When her sister abruptly runs away, Caitlin looks for her own direction in life and finds it in Rogerson Briscoe.  While Rogerson is (SUPPOSEDLY) good looking, smart and exciting, he pulls Caitlin's life in a direction she never wanted to go and she may not be able to escape before it's too late.

Red Flags: Language, teenage drinking/drug use/canoodling, abusive relationships

My Rating: B
This is a hard one to rate because even though I think it's a good book and well written in the way I expect from Sarah Dessen, I didn't really enjoy reading it at all.  Partly that's because of the subject matter, which is pretty dark and not really ever enjoyable.  Also because I had no idea that's what this book was about (my library often has no Dessen books on the shelf so I just grab them when I see them), and I think it's something one has to be in the mood for.  I was not so much in the mood. 

Anyway, like I said, it's well written and I was invested in Caitlin, even though I also wanted to shake her more than once.  Rogerson, however, was not appealing at all, even at the beginning.  Maybe he's not supposed to be, even then, but I thought he actually sounded terribly unattractive.  

So, not my favorite of her books, but that doesn't mean it's not a story worth telling.  Just not the best pick when one wants something with lighter teenage angst.