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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Something Blue: A Book Review

I love reading "girlie novels" every once in a while. It's like cleansing my pallet between heavier subjects. And, really, who doesn't love some fun reading sometimes?

My most recent "chick lit" novel was Something Blue by Emily Giffin. This is complimentary book to her Something Borrowed. The story picked up where the first left off, but was told from the perspective of the antagonist, Darcy.

Something Borrowed was about how the protagonist, Rachel (the good girl), ended up stealing Darcy's fiance (Dex)...all while Darcy was cheating on Dex with his friend Marcus. Something Blue picked up at the very last scene of the first book, where Darcy finds out about Rachel and Dex, and tells them that she is pregnant with Marcus's baby.

We are all supposed to hate Darcy, because she is self-centered, materialistic, and completely bases any judgement of others on looks, what they wear, and how much money is in their bank account. It works. I hated her in the first book, and I was a bit wary of reading the second because I didn't really want to hear her story.

Of course, in Something Blue, Darcy goes through some trials and tribulations, moves to another country to start over, and in the process becomes a completely different woman and meets the man of her dreams (who was right under her nose the whole time). Believable? Hell, no! Enjoyable to read? Yes! I was addicted to this book and read it in just a few evenings.

For what it is - a light, fun, heart-warming read - I give this book a 4/5.

Monday, November 28, 2011

"Hi"

Last night, during bath time, Evan looked at me, waved, and said "hi". Twice.

It actually took a while for me to clue into what happened. Then, of course, I tried to get him to do it again to no avail. That is, until DH and I were getting him into his PJs, and he did it again. I asked DH "did you see that?". He said he did and it was quite obvious that's what Evan said AND meant, since he looked right at me, waved his hand, and said "hi".

Now that I've had more time to digest it, I'm realizing what an amazing moment that was. That was the first time in Evan's life that he communicated with us using English language in context (he's been saying Dada and Mama for a month or so, but most of the time it's not to either of us, so that doesn't really count). I'm sure his brain has been working on this for a long time, and it just finally all came together last night. He will now never forget how to wave and say "hi".

This is both a huge milestone and a turning point. He has started to communicate with us in a way we can understand, and his vocabulary will just get bigger and bigger. The beauty of the brain makes me want to cry sometimes!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Room: A Book Review

Room by Emma Donoghue was our most recent book club choice. This is a story told from the perspective of a five-year-old boy, Jack, who only knows an 11x11-foot room. It's his entire world. That is, until his Mom tells him the truth about the "Outside".

**Spoiler alert**

About a quarter of the way through, I was starting to get a bit tired of things. There isn't a lot to do in such a small space, and it was getting annoyingly repetitive. But, then the pace of the book changed quite rapidly when the mom started talking about trying to escape. At that point, I figured the rest of the book would be about that. So, imagine my surprise when they escaped about half-way through the book!

The second half was all about how they dealt with being in the real world - from the mother's depression and fears, to Jack missing things about Room (after all, it was all he ever knew). One of the most frustrating scenes in the book was when Jack went to the mall with his uncle, aunt, and cousin. It really put it into perspective what kinds of things Jack would just not understand, such as paying for things.

Even though I thought the middle of the book should have really been the end, it was kind of like finding out what happened AFTER. I can't count the number of times I've read a book and wished I could find out what happened. This was a fun treat to actually find out!

I give this book a 4/5.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Date Night!

Monday night, DH and I had our first date night since Evan was born (over a year ago). We went to an annual dinner that DH's work hosts for a rather prestigious award in his general field of research.

It was not a typical date night, but it was wonderful none-the-less. One of the staff members at Evan's daycare volunteered to babysit him, so she took him directly home with her. It was strange having both of us at home and not having him at our feet, reaching up to be picked up or crawl-running around the house.

We got to the venue of the dinner, ran into some of DH's co-workers, and got a glass of wine. We ate hors d'oeuvres and chatted about our day and the people he knew there. We went into the beautifully decorated dining room and ate a four-course meal over a span of almost three hours.

The highlight of the evening was listening to Michael J. Fox speak about his childhood, his acting career, and his fight with Parkinson's. It was funny, touching and inspirational.

At about 9:30, we headed out and picked up Evan (who did really well and was sleeping like an angel). It was a great night, and we can't wait to do it again!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Discipline for a 1-Year-Old?

Evan is doing things that we'd rather him not do, like pulling my hair, rocking the TV stand, and putting things down the heating vents, among others.

I know he's too young for time-outs (though we do put him in his playpen for a while if he's really getting into things) or any real sort of discipline, and that's not really what we want to do at this stage anyway. We'd rather be able to teach him that certain behaviors are unacceptable.

We do tell him "No, Evan" firmly, but he just looks at us, smiles, then goes back to doing what he was doing. Distraction tends to work most of the time, but sometimes we're not able to for some reason or another.

So, any other tips from the peanut gallery? Anything that really worked for you with kids of this age? Anything that really didn't?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

13 Months

Feel free to ignore these monthly posts - they're more for my record!

Evan is 1 year, 1 month old today! What has he been up too?

- At his last appointment (12.5 months), he was 21 lbs 9 oz (35th percentile - up 1o percentile points from last time), and 80.5 cm tall (92 percentile). Tall and lean still.

- He has six teeth now (four on top, two on the bottom)

- He's been down to one nap for about a month now.

- He goes to sleep for the night usually around 7:30pm and wakes up between 6-7am.

- He's completely off of formula. The transition to whole milk was very smooth. He's also down to 4 bottles a day, and we're working on transitioning to sippy cups (he takes water from a sippy cup).

- He is very good at cruising now (walking around furniture, etc.)

- He is starting to stand on his own. He'll pull himself up to standing on something, then slowly let go and stand there for a few seconds. He finds this very exciting (so do we though!).

- He LOVES to point at things.

- He's very into reading lately. He will bring us books and give them to us to read. His favorite right now is Brown Bear, Brown Bear. He will search through his pile of books for it and bring it over to us. If we don't start reading it, he gets very annoyed!

- He can definitely understand what we're saying to him and can follow directions. I can ask him to go get me something and bring it back, or to get me a different book to read, and he will.

- He sticks his tongue out when he's concentrating. It's so cute!

- He loves eating whole versions of food instead of cut up pieces. This is especially true for fruit like apples and pears. If we cut them up, he throws them on the ground.

- His favorite toys are the shape sorters, blocks, and Lego. Oh, and the cat beds :P

- He has formed a special bond with one of the ladies in his daycare room: she rushes to greet him in the mornings, and they call her his surrogate mom!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Rippers

A couple days ago, a new local baseball team unveiled their name and logo:

Fig. 1: The London Rippers logo (London Community News).

That's right. They're called the London Rippers and the logo is a creepy looking guy in a top hat and black cloak. Their tag line? "Lurking in Labatt Park* this spring".

Now, that in general probably wouldn't garner much support. I mean, who gives props to a serial killer? But what has enraged the public even more is the timing: this month is Women Abuse Awareness and Prevention month in the province of Ontario, and there have been many highly publicized events for it in our city.

The Rippers organization is defending their choice, saying that "rip" is a common term used in baseball (as in hitting a baseball so hard to rip the cover off). They even have a video on their Facebook page, telling the story of Diamond Jack (the mascot):
"...Diamond Jack, a frustrated hockey player who found he could “rip” the cover off baseballs. Despite his talent, teams grew weary of the expense of replacing balls so Diamond Jack decided to form his own team in London, Ontario." (London Free Press).
It should be noted that, in the video, it tells of how Diamond Jack would sneak into the stadiums at night to practice his hitting (um, of baseballs), and ends with him promising to give opponents a "great scare" as he erupts in evil laughter (CBC).

Some supporters say the name is right in line with teams like the Pittsburgh Pirates and Nashville Predators. I don't know...are those on the same level?

In any case...if you saw JACK + TOP HAT + BLACK COAT + LONDON + RIPPER anywhere, what would that add up to in your mind?

What do you think? Is the name/logo/tag line offensive, or are people overreacting?

*The local baseball stadium

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

DH is a Unicorn

Cloud, over at Wandering Scientist, wrote yesterday about how a woman can in fact be a feminist and be married with children. She writes about how she is married to a mythical creature, a unicorn (men who take on equal workloads at home), and goes on to list how her and her husband separate their home duties. I think it's a great post and, from the comments, there are a lot of good unicorns out there.

DH is a unicorn. Here's how our duties play out, in no particular order:

- We both work full-time. DH typically works 8:30-5pm, while I do 9-4:30pm. He makes more money. Again, like Cloud said, this really has no impact on how our household duties are split (especially since, in our case, we share our finances).

- I cook dinner 95% of the time. DH cleans the kitchen 95% of the time. I love cooking dinner so this works out for me. I probably come ahead in this deal because it's not like he loves cleaning.

- We are pretty even on the diaper changes and bottle feeding.

- DH does the vast majority of the yard work.

- Last year, DH did the vast majority of the snow removal, since someone had to stay inside the house with Evan. Not sure how this will play out this year, since the snow will have to be removed before we both leave for work in the morning, so Evan will still be in the house.

- I take care of all the bills and finances.

- I act as PR for our household. This includes calling people, extending and accepting invitations, sending out birthday and Christmas cards, making appointments, etc..

- DH drops Evan off at daycare, I pick him up.

- DH takes out the garbage (including putting it and the recycling out on the sidewalk each week for pick-up) and scoops the cat box.

- I put together the grocery list and plan our meals each week.

- I do the laundry.

- We have a cleaning service that comes every two weeks. This is an amazing way to buy some free time (another great post by Cloud) and we don't have to fight about who had to clean the toilets.

- We both do bath time with Evan.

- We both put Evan to bed at night (we both lie down with him in our bed until he falls asleep, then we move him to his crib). I actually really love this time, and I think DH does too.

- If Evan wakes up at night, we try to alternate who soothes him.

- If Evan is sick, he wants his Daddy, and DH is much better at dealing with vomit (I have a bit of a phobia about it). I generally administer the medicine (but DH has to "secure" Evan), and am on clean-up duty.

- If Evan needs to stay home from daycare, we try to split it as fairly as possible - sometimes we'll alternate days, other times one might take the morning shift while the other gets the afternoon. Thankfully, both our schedules are fairly flexible.

- I keep track of things we'd like to buy, DH keeps track of projects around the house.

That's all I can think of. I think we split things relatively equally, but it's not like we have a spread sheet that records who does what and when. We just fell into these roles and it's working for us at the moment.

I'll ask the same question as Cloud did at the end of her post: am I oppressed and just don't see it? Am I really married to a unicorn? What's it like in your house?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Ahh...

...it's so nice to come home! I don't go away often these days, but when I do I miss home much more than I used too. I just love the happiness, comfort, and sheer peace I feel when I walk through that door.

When I got home on Saturday afternoon from the STAO conference, Evan was sitting on his big car. He saw me, got so excited he started bouncing up and down and giggling, and threw his arms into the air to reach up for me to pick him up. How could I not love coming home to that?

That night, we took Evan to his first ever Santa Claus parade (a bit early in the year, right? Apparently, they moved the date because people were complaining of the snow and cold in previous years. Um, yeah, that's what Christmas season is like in Canada!). He was enthralled with the floats, cars, and bands. He didn't really get what all the fuss was about when Santa passed by, but I'm guessing he'll figure it out next year.

It's good to be home.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Conferencing

Today I head to my first conference since 1) becoming a mother, and 2) starting my new job. It's a conference for K-12 teachers, and we will be hosting an information booth about our education and outreach programs, as well as hosting a workshop about one of our activities.

I'm excited! I really enjoy interacting with teachers, especially the gung-ho ones who want to try new things in their classrooms (who this conference is designed for). I'm also excited to find out what other places are doing in terms of outreach and finding resources for our own activities.

In addition to the job-side excitement, there is also some on the personal side: tonight I will get a whole hotel room all to myself. I will have all evening, from about 5pm onward, to do whatever I please. I have brought knitting, my Kindle, and my swimsuit. There's no telling what tonight may hold (though I have a feeling there will be some serious vegging and/or sleeping).

Tomorrow and Friday night I will be sharing the room, but it's not like I have to worry about changing someone's diaper, giving them a bath without them crying, or trying to get them to sleep before 8pm. At least I hope not. It will be glorious.

Of course, I'll probably miss Evan and DH terribly by the second day, but I plan to squash those feelings as much as possible so I can enjoy my "me" time.

If you're going to be at the STAO conference, email me!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Apple Pie

Contrary to what my blog title suggests, I have never baked an apple pie. Shocking, I know. I'm honestly not a huge fan. There are many other cakes, pies, and other deserts that I'd rather have.

However, one of my fall bucket list items was to bake my first ever apple pie, so that's what I did on Sunday afternoon. I used a recipe called Best Apple Pie Ever from the The Complete Canadian Living Cookbook, and it did not disappoint.

Fig. 1: Don't judge this apple pie by the way it looks...trust me, it was amazing.

I often find apple pie too sweet, so using Granny Smith apples kept that at bay. I'm very happy with the result, and might do it again sometime!

As for the rest of the bucket list, we've done the family portraits, had an awesome Thanksgiving dinner (which DH made this year), celebrated Evan's birthday with a cake and small party, dressed up Evan for Halloween and attended a local street party/parade, went to a pumpkin patch, have taken walks, and played in the leaves. I'm not sure if DH and I will be able to take a day or two off together, and I have not cast-on for a sweater for Evan.

How is your fall going?

Friday, November 4, 2011

December Scientiae - Call for Posts

Here we go - the last Scientiae of the year! This quarter's theme is:

The Ultimate Goal

Sometimes we lose track of why we got into science. But, at some point, I'm sure we all had grandiose dreams of all the things we were going to accomplish as scientists. Sure, those goals may have changed as we evolved from naive and idealistic undergraduate students to where we are now, but surely there's some big idea that's pushing us, even in the distant background.

So, what is your ultimate career goal? Do you want to win the Nobel Prize? Cure cancer? Build a better mouse trap? What is it that you want to be remembered for career-wise?

Feel free to submit variations on the theme or anything else you find appropriate. Please e-mail a permalink to your submission to scientiaecarnival [at] gmail [dt] com by 5pm Eastern Time on December 15th, so the carnival can be posted in time for the holidays!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Reverse Sexism

Is it sexist to have a women's only college or university?

Is there such a thing as reverse sexism?

Discuss.