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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Book Reviews: Chic Lit Cleansers

My year in reading didn't start off well. I was disappointed with both Angela's Ashes and Cannery Row (you know these books didn't have a lasting impression on me when I had to look up what I actually read). To cleanse my reading pallet, I like to read 1-2 easy, light, and/or fun books.

This time, I went with Emily Giffin's Heart of the Matter. I have enjoyed her other books (Something Borrowed, Something Blue, and Baby Proof), so I figured this was a safe bet. Heart of the Matter is about infidelity, motherhood, and what some do to "fit in" (and how that might cause issues in other areas of life). It was told from two points of view: the wife and the other women, both of whom are mothers. I found it interesting that the cheating husband wasn't given a voice, so the reader has to draw their own conclusions about him by what the two women say. I won't give away the ending, but I still don't know if I'm happy with it - but I guess the fact that decisions are not black and white. I gave this book a 4/5.

I wanted to continue my streak of decent books, so I picked up Jennifer Wiener's Then Came You. Again, I had read several of her books, and enjoyed them, so I figured another safe bet. This story is about all the women involved in a surrogate pregnancy: the egg-donor, the surrogate, the mother-to-be, and the step-daughter of the mother-to-be (yeah, that last one threw me for a loop too). The problem I found with this book is it was told using too many characters, which sometimes got confusing and seemed to leave holes in the story. How all the loose ends were tidied up into a nice perfect package at the end didn't resonate with me either. So, though the book was a decent read, I gave it a 3/5.

Now I'm on to a book of short stories by Alice Munro (Dear Life). I've heard so many amazing things about this author, and my mother-in-law gave me this book for Christmas, so I thought I'd give it a try. So far, I've enjoyed about 75% of the stories. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Am I an artist now?

The second local Awesome Foundation project to get funded was Caring Between the Lines. The idea is that people can submit a photo, about 20 would be chosen to be printed in large format in high-contrast black and white, and then put on display for others to color with crayons. After being on display for a week, the pieces would be auctioned off, and the money would go toward a charity of the photographer's choice.

I thought this was literally an awesome idea, so to show my support I submitted a photo.

 Fig. 1: My submitted photograph, titled "Mmm...candy apples", taken at a local chocolate shop.

Well, mine was chosen to be part of the exhibit! I'm pretty excited, and we're definitely going to take part in the coloring in early May, and the subsequent auction. Wouldn't it be cool to have a giant, crayon-colored version of my own photograph?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Limits

Warning: navel-gazing bitch-fest coming up.
 
Don't get me wrong, I'm very happy to be pregnant...but I'm not a happy pregnant lady. It's hard, people! The thing that gets me the most is the limits it puts on me.

I have to worry about eating certain things (no soft cheeses! careful with deli meats! I'm sure many others that I just ignore!), and there's the whole no alcohol thing. Not that I'm a huge drinker, but I like to relax with a glass of wine if I want, or have a beer on a warm summer day with a burger.

My cardio ability also goes to crap. This upsets me more this time because before I got pregnant, I was doing really well with working out. I had all sorts of goals in mind for this summer like running a 5K, or doing a long bike ride for charity. In the first trimester, I felt so horrible and tired that there was no way I was going to exercise. At this point, I get winded walking up a flight of stairs, so I'll need to start up again slowly. I am registered for a yoga class starting in a couple of weeks, so hopefully that, coupled with the warmer weather (so more walking/biking opportunities), will get things rolling.

The toughest part for me is the no Advil rule. Given that my shoulders/neck/back seem even worse when pregnant, means I'm dealing with fairly constant pain. Sure, it goes away for a couple hours here and there, or I might even have a full good day, but then it's back and Tylenol doesn't do crap. I'm doing a lot more stretching and I think I've killed my hot bean bag (I swear it's losing it's heat capacity -- is that possible?), but there's only so much that can do. 

Needless to say that I'm excited for the baby to be born...not only because it'll be amazing to have a new baby in my arms, but so I can start getting my body back again. 


Sunday, April 14, 2013

On The Needles

I haven't posted much about my knitting recently (and by recently, I mean in the last two years). That's because I've been working on the same project (Penrose afghan) since early 2011. It has 8 sections, and I'm done 5...almost 6. Clearly it's slow going, and I don't dedicate a ton of my time to knitting these days.

But, with the arrival of Jelly Bean in about six months, I need to get cracking. So, as with Evan, I chose a simple baby blanket pattern.

Fig. 1: Four rows done already!

Let's pull out some knit-math: This blanket has about 250 rows. With approximately 180 days until my due date, that means I should knit 1.39 rows a day. Given that Evan came 5 weeks early though, I'd like to have it finished by September. So, that means 154 days...1.62 rows a day. It takes me about 15 minutes to do a row, so that should be entirely doable, even if I skip on knitting days or even weeks at a time. Right?


I'm hoping (as with using fun/easy books as pallet cleansers) this will renew my joy of knitting!


Sunday, April 7, 2013

Link Round-Up

I am really starting to like the idea of doing a weekly round-up of some of the more interesting things I come across. There are so many things I'd like to share, but don't want to do an individual post for each thing (I do on Facebook/Twitter, but not all my wonderful readers are on them). Not sure if this will be a regular thing, but we'll see.

Here is what caught my eye this week:

On Thursday, I went to a psychology lecture at the local library, and it was all about how our brains develop in relation to our experiences and environment. The speaker was asked a question about those "brain workouts" we see advertised on TV, and he highly suggested reading up on Adrian Owen's work on the subject, which was published in Nature last year. (Short answer: no, they don't work.)
 
How do you feel about a Somoa airline charging passengers by weight? Though this seems like a "logical" thing to do (this is what's done for mission to space, for example), the idea clearly has some downfalls.

If you've been following what's going on with government-funded scientists here in Canada, you'll be interested to know that there will be a formal probe into the muzzling of government scientists. Let's hope this pours some light on the subject!

Here's a great post about how to put together a better conference talk by Emily Lakdawalla. It helped me have an epiphany this week: if I feel stupid during your talk (and I have a relatively decent background in the topic), it's not because of my lack of knowledge, it's because of your lack of explanation.
 
PBS's NOVA did a great special about the recent meteor strike in Russia. Two researchers from my university are interviewed throughout the piece. Beware of some sensationalism though (like "Death rocks from space!!!"). Those outside the USA might not be able to view the above video, so here it is on YouTube.

Finally, a really cool DYI project for your kids!

What are your "must reads" of the week?

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Most Wonderful Sound

This.*

If you can't hear that, I bet you can guess what it is by this picture:

Fig. 1: Our Jelly Bean, at 7 weeks, 5 days.

Everything looks good for a brother/sister to arrive for Evan in mid-October...perhaps just in time for his birthday, which is on the 19th!

*sorry, can't figure out how to embed an MP3 in a blogger post :P

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

What's your favorite ice cream flavor?

Bubblegum.

Your turn.

Good God, my blogable life is so uninteresting right now.