Friday, August 28, 2015

Edge of Eternity

Last night I finished the third book in Ken Follett's Century Trilogy.  It was a trek.

I wrote about the first book of the series Fall of Giants back in 2013 and I was very positive about it.  I really enjoyed it.  I read the second one in the series, Winter of the World and it was good, but not quite as good as the first.  The third started out okay but really derailed for me in the last third of the book and this book is big so the last third was almost 400 pages.  

Fall of Giants focused on WWI and covered a span of thirteen years, Winter of the World covered WWII and looked at sixteen years of history, but Edge of Eternity covered the Cold War and spanned almost thirty years.  That kind of time frame was just too much to effectively fit into one cohesive narrative.  Some parts of the history were great, like the section on the Cuban Missile Crisis that I knew next to nothing about.  Follett was able to write it in a way that kept all the urgency and heighten tensions even though you knew as a reader that no nuclear bombs were ever dropped on Russia.  Some parts really suffered for it though, such as the incredibly brief and unnecessary look at the Black Panthers and second wave feminism.  These were both big and significant movements of their day, but were given such flippant time in the book that it would have been better to leave them out entirely than have a sentence about a man not understanding why a woman wanted a career and a child and that she was mad when he suggested she quit work.  It's too complex an issue to deal with that tritely.

Another part of the problem with this book that had been building throughout the series was the shear number of characters.  Each book followed subsequent generations of the characters introduced in the first book.  I lay in bed one night when I couldn't sleep and couldn't the number of characters you needed to know that included extended family members and complicated intermarrying and came up with thirty-five "important" characters, eight major historical figures, and 30-60 minor characters.  That's a lot.  It's just too much to be effective.

The final problem was that the 60s through the mid 70s were covered in fantastic detail.  By the time you got to the late 70s and into the 80s, however, Follett was running out of time and space and so things that should have had more weight were glossed over and major events got a brief nod. This was especially true if those events were at all positive to conservatives who took a beating in this book.  I understand the author was liberal and can write whatever, but his opinions on conservatives in politics and even in the public were handled with all the subtlety of a massive elephant tromping across the pages.  The squish-everything-in policy led to a couple of storylines that had been going on for hundreds of pages never being wrapped up, which is more than a little frustrating when you're waiting for that payoff.

All in all, I finished.  I loved the first, liked the second, and completed the third in this trilogy.  Now on to a very "fluffy" book to give my brain a break! 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

How to Make Seventeen Choices for the Low Price of $1.25

I have a mini rant today.  Here it is:

Can you tell from the picture?  There are SIXTEEN different types of teethers here.  Sixteen.  Cordie used to have a key teether but it got poop on it.  Yes, poop, on a teether.  There is poop everywhere in my life right now.  Anyway, I tried to boil the teether to sanitize it, but I was still a little icked out by the possibility of giving her a previously poopy object back to stick in her mouth.  So I wasn't really sad when the gel in the keys expanded too much and burst.  I wasn't sad until I stood in front of this section and went "are you kidding me??"  Parenting is filled with a plethora of decisions of various weights that you have to make every single day.  This should be a priority level one, but all of these options suddenly make it more complicated than it should be.  Should I get a vibrating teether?  Should I get the three pack with different shapes for different teeth?  Should I get the cheapest thing because we may need to buy a few of these over the course of all the teething?  Then, once you decide that, you're faced with the constant question of should I buy a gender specific or gender neutral color?  That question alone has gender political connotations that get brought up in the Mommy Wars all the time.  It's just too much.

You know what else is too much?  The number of car seat choices and the price of these things!  Cordie is 27.5 inches tall and her infant carrier goes up to 30 inches, so it's time to start looking for a next level car seat.  Hold me, I'm scared.  

I started with a fairly broad search on the Babies 'R' Us website and had forty-seven different convertible car seats to choose from.  Even when I narrowed it down I had twenty-seven.  I don't need that many options!  I want five, five choices with easily distinguishable characteristics.  Instead I have almost thirty that look incredibly similar and yet some cost almost $400.  That's the brilliance of this though, from the manufacturer's perspective, you HAVE to have a car seat if you ever want to leave the house and what price would you put on your kid's safety?  There isn't one and they know that, so they can charge hefty amounts and you'll pony up the cash because you have no choice.  Well, you have choices, twenty-seven choices plus the color choices of each seat.

By the way, I went with the cheap teether in pink.  Judge me if you must.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Outtakes 2

 Today Cordie is ten months old.  Siiiigh.  I'm so not on board with this whole growing up thing.  Eight and nine months old have been my favorite ages so far.  She seems to learn something new every day and is so loving and active and happy and all these great things.  Don't try to tempt me with tales about how great it will be when she can talk to me or when she's potty trained.  I'm standing my ground that this is the best age.

All that said, getting the monthly photo was once again a challenge, so I thought I'd so some of the extras.  Someone remind me with baby #2 not to do very specific clothes, because you might not always have bright pink pants that fit or even white onesies.  I should have done nothing but a diaper. First time mom problems.
"Mom, why is my dress tucked into these pants?  Why are you mooing?  Why are you losing your mind over these pictures?"

 Her app causes temporary, but instant stillness.  It's magical. 

 "Sigh, yes I see you.  Can I get back to my game?" 

 Love that these pants are now capris.  Still fit in the waist though!

 This hair, guys.  This hair is out of control.  She needs to see Einstein's stylist.

Monday, August 10, 2015

French Kids Eat Everything

In June Cordie had three weeks of sickness, a cold and two viruses.  Because her throat was sore she couldn't eat a lot and feeding was difficult.  After she got well she had developed some very picky attitudes about food.  Bananas, sweet potatoes, and Cheerios-that was the list of acceptable foods on her new "menu".  Big sigh.  Oh goody.  So I borrowed the book French Kids Eat Everything.  I wasn't expecting much, but I needed some practical advice and I was very pleasantly surprised!

The book details the journey of the author, Karen Le Billon, family's one year in France and how she used that time to break old habits and instill a new love of food in her two girls.  The books is focused around ten food rules that define the French way of eating.

Some rules I recognized from my own childhood like #6 "You don't have to LIKE it, but you do have to TASTE it".  Some were fairly revolutionary to the way I think about feeding kids, like #7 "No snacking".  Some of the things that weren't rules made the biggest impact on me.  For instance, research that Le Billon cited said that children need to try foods an average of seven times before they really form an opinion on them, and some kids need to try them 10-15 times.  Cordie didn't like peaches.  Of all things, peaches?  Peaches are great!  After maybe two or three tries, I gave up on them even though I had a huge bag of frozen cubes ready to feed her.  After reading that I tried peaches again-same reaction.  And again-hostile, but better.  And again-success!  Cordie eats peaches now!  There's no fight or fuss and she especially likes them mixed with yogurt, as much as any other fruit (besides blueberries which are a stand out favorite).

For the last chapter or two Le Billon talks about her family's move back to Canada and how the rules had to be modified some because of the cultural differences.  I really appreciated those pages because I found myself saying "yeah that works where EVERYONE is following these rules, but it won't work here."  The snacking rule was the one I saw the toughest time implementing here.  While I am all for not having to pack Cheerios, puffs, and yogurt melts for every outing, I would hate for Cordie to not have goldfish if the rest of nursery class is.  So the rules can and should be modified to your family and cultural situation.  I like that since I don't feel bad if the rules get broken sometimes!

I can say that the book has changed some things at our house.  I make a point to sit down with Cordie for breakfast and lunch (rule #4).  She already ate with us at supper already.  This way we are eating as a family for each meal (albeit without Josh).  It also serves to get her more diversity in her food while I act as example.  So if I'm having cheese on a sandwich, she gets cheese and some bread and I'm yum and ooh over how good it is and how Cordie is eating the same thing as Mommy (rule #3).  I still pack snacks in case of emergency when we go out, but I try not to give them out and we don't snack when we're at home (rule #7).  If Cordie doesn't like something, I put it away, but only temporarily (rule #6).  We will taste the same thing again later that week.  I'm also being more careful about what I eat.  Having her watch me eat makes me more aware of bad food choices that I wouldn't want her to mimic.  Plus I'm looking for things she can eat "just like Mommy" which is always fruits and veggies or yogurts and cheeses.  Sitting down is good for me (and her) because it makes an actual meal, not just picking at whatever catches my eye in the pantry.  

The hardest rules for me to follow are the slow food rule because I have becoming a very fast eater since meeting Josh and the no emotional eating.  Ugh, that one sucks.  I had a quarter of a bag of egg noodles this weekend in one emotional sitting.  I know in my head that is a great rule, but carbs call to me in times of stress or happiness or sadness or celebration or anytime I have an emotion. 

If you made it through this post:  congrats!  I had a lot to say on this subject and it's taken me awhile to even sit down to write this post because I knew it would be long. If you have a picky eater, I definitely suggest giving the book a try.  It may not revolutionize what you're doing, but it's a good, quick read that might give you a helpful hint.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

"So What Brings You Here Today?"

It's soapbox time!!!  Hands in the air!  Woo hoo!

We live an information age.  Technology pervades our existence practically every waking moment.  And yet every time I go to a new doctor I am presented with a ream of paperwork, each page of which asks the same information again and again and again.  How many times do I really need to fill out my name, DOB, address, phone number, and the date??  Can you please refer to the previous fifteen pages where I wrote all that down?  Or, here's a wild and crazy thought, use a computer system that allows you to access this when I'm in the same healthcare group!  Save a tree, save my time.

It all just becomes so much more fun when I'm filling out the paperwork in Cordie's name instead of my own.  It's like all the questions take on an air of confusion that I find difficult to push through.  Least of which is the fact that we still don't have a SSN for Cordie.  Dear heavens.  Have you ever tried to exist without a SSN?  You don't.  You are a ghost, invisible to the great governmental eye.  People look at you like you are a baby snatcher when you try to explain that you don't know your own child's SSN.  I seriously take her adoption paperwork to new doctors to prove she's ours.

At each doctor you are given the list of possible symptoms of interest to the doctor and by "of interest to the doctor" I mean everything that could possibly ever hurt.  Do I have testicular torsion?  Not today, but this paperwork feels like you're busting my balls.  "At last," I mistakenly think, "something worth filling out."

I'm wrong.  I'm wrong because I've already told the receptionist why I needed an appointment when I scheduled, now I'm filling out this interminable questionnaire, and then I will be asked by a very upbeat nurse who will, once again, write down why I'm visiting this doctor.  And yet!  And yet when the doctor comes in he/she will ask again. I would put this down to polite conversation except the doctor ALWAYS ALWAYS says "oh yes, I see that noted here" after I've given the five minute spiel about why I'm there.  ARGHH!!!  Of course it's noted!  It's noted in three separate places!  I've been in this waiting room and sitting on this cold table for half of my life, you couldn't possibly have taken two more minutes of my time and read what your upbeat nurse wrote???  Do you know you employ her?  She does work here right, she isn't just wearing those scrubs and using this job as a front to steal my identity?  Listen to her!  Read the form I filled out!

I think from here on out I'll just pass out in the waiting room, then Josh will rush to my side and I'll weakly open my eyes and say "You know what would make me feel better?  If you filled out this form."