Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Wheel of Time

If I were going to review Towers of Midnight - which I'm not - this is what I'd say:
  • Sanderson continues to do a very good job with the imposing task he was given.
  • It's a good book, a compelling read, a solid installment in the series.
  • It's nice to see the characters finally maturing, accomplishing things, working together, and getting along.
  • However, there's perhaps a bit too much of that. I like it, but it seems a bit too pat to me.  Jordan didn't write characters standing around camp fires singing Lean On Me very often. His characters were frequently unreasonable.  And these are still his characters . . . still, we had to work toward the ending eventually and this is satisfying.
  • Sanderson is working very quickly and effectively, keeping up with his own projects while making deadlines on The Wheel of Time stuff too.  But . . . his prose lacks a little something that Jordan's had.  I like the way Sanderson brings pieces together, ties up loose ends, and gets things done.  I don't mind an occasional typo.  But the split infinitives and unglamorous grammar wore on me in this book, especially when an educated person was speaking in an otherwise rather highbrow fashion.  Minor complaint but not insignificant, to me.
  • Finally, I'd rather laugh with Mat than at him, wish the author had dialed that back a bit.
But all that's if I were going to review the book.  And I'm not going to do that.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Room for Girls

makes room for a (very temporary) office for me. After all, if Ada's room becomes Mama's work space before it becomes the baby's nursery, she can't be quite as jealous, right? Here's hoping.

(At any rate, they both love the new arrangement.)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

One at a Time, Please!

Ada and I just returned from a few days visiting my sister, her husband, and their newborn twins.

I asked Ada to take a picture of me as I walked around the house holding the babies (my sister was getting a rare moment of sleep). Ada took pictures of nearly everything else in the house before snapping one of the least flattering pictures ever taken of me. Alas. But despite my collection of chins, I trust the sheer joy I felt while snuggling my newest niece and nephew shines through.

Other highlights of the trip (for Ada) included the giant hotel bed and a trip out for ice cream.

The babies are doing great. And I keep reassuring my sister that they will start to sleep eventually. One of them has already broken the 6 pound barrier, and once they get a little bigger they'll be able to go longer between feedings!

Monday, November 15, 2010


Ellie has a couple of friends who are two years older than she (nine). Their mothers have been talking about bras lately. Bras! I'm still talking about overnight pull-ups! So not there yet.

But apparently we are somewhere else. We've never made much of the whole boy/girl thing. We don't watch a lot of princess movies, we don't ever talk about our friends' sons as "boyfriends," we don't tease the girls about "flirting" or otherwise try to sexualize them and their young relationships.

Nonetheless, they live in the world and Ellie definitely has her first crush.

Fortunately, she has it in perfectly appropriate 7-year-old style. She pokes MJ, her dance teacher's son and an assistant teacher in her ballet/tap/tumbling class, to show her interest. He's a good sport about this. She talks about MJ a lot. When I woke her up for school last Tuesday Ellie sat bolt upright in bed and said,

"It's Tuesday! I have dance today! I'm going to see MJ!"


But my favorite is the bit that happens outside of dance class. "Wait, Mommy, I have to go back to my room to get Pretend MJ." Pretend MJ comes with us much of the time, and always needs to be led by the hand. I like Pretend MJ quite well.

Pictured: Ada, Ellie, MJ (and a couple of teachers)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Ten Years

I neglected to mention it on the blog, but a couple of weeks ago Paul and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary. Ten years is a long time!



Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Writers Write

Here is the sentence I worked on - in my head - for an hour last night while awake with a sick child.

"As it turned out, Tuesday morning’s breakfast buffet at the Sugar Maple B&B was far more deadly than usual, though it took quite a while for anyone to notice."

I'm still waffling about the first bit and keep taking it out then putting it back in. They're unnecessary words. So they should go. But I like the tone and voice they suggest.

Obviously I tend toward verbosity.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Financial Planning

On television commercials, the kids settle in to watch a movie while mom steps into the kitchen to procure snacks. As the popcorn pops merrily in the microwave, she pays bills with a couple clicks of the mouse and is ready to rejoin the family before the opening credits.

This is not my experience.

Paul does most of the online bill paying, but it seems that due dates fluctuate, banks fail to notify of new bills or error messages, scheduled payments are delayed due to technical glitches, some accounts refuse to participate with online bill pay, etc. I'm not suggesting that we go back to the dark ages of mailing checks around town, nor yet the stone ages of hand delivering bills (well do I remember driving around town with my mother, doing just this).

But certainly things could be a whole lot easier than they are.

For example, budgeting software. Quicken and Money are costly, PC-based, and don't do quite everything I want them to do.

Mint is free and fabulous. Paul and I sit down for budget meetings on opposite sides of the dining room table, each of us with a laptop. One of us has the bank account open, the other has Mint, and we zip through the month's expenses, categorizing and reconciling as we go. (Actually, we each have both windows open so that we're both following along, but one of us takes point with each application.) We can do this anytime, from anywhere, because Mint is online (rather than stored on one of our hard drives). It automatically downloads information from our checking and savings accounts, our credit cards, our student loans, our retirement plans, etc.

Weekly emails tell us our net worth and it's fun to watch this number fluctuate as we pay down debt, increase savings, and our investments go up and down. As you can imagine, it was a real hoot when the real estate bubble popped and we watched the value of our house plummet sixty thousand dollars. Whew.

But we were really unhappy with our bank so we switched to a local credit union that's absolutely fabulous in every way . . . except that they won't work with Mint. So our choices are:
  1. Move to Quicken and pay a not-insignificant-amount for decreased capabilities (i.e. we have to sit near the PC and only one of us can manage the data at a time) and the lower-end models don't track investments as well as budget stuff.
  2. Stay with Mint but manually enter dozens of transactions each month from our checking and savings accounts. Shudder.

Neither option sounds ideal to me. How do you manage your household budget?

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Less Globe Trotting, More Home Making

I didn't have the weekend I planned for. My youngest sister had twins a couple of weeks ago and I've been longing to meet them. So I washed the car and filled it with gas. I sorted baby clothes into two stacks: "Ellie and Ada's clothes their little brother could wear," and "This really might be better for my new niece." Paul washed the clothes and I stacked them up with a few other "gifts" and books to return.

I checked the weather forecasts and put together a list of fun things to do with kids in my sister's hometown. I selected a bag of "trip food" and prepped the girls on new baby etiquette. Surely we were all ready to go!

Then Ada threw up. And Paul's cold didn't go away as expected. In fact, Ellie started smearing snot around her own face, too, dadgummit. And my sister - new mom to not-quite-5-pound-babies - worried (naturally!) that I might be incubating something less than wholesome myself.

As it turns out, I'm still well. But it's good that we didn't make the trip anyway, even though I'm finding it nearly physically painful that I haven't been there yet!

Since no one but me was 100% well and we had already cleared our schedule, we had a wide open weekend ahead of us. We did leave the house a few times - no one was sick enough for quarantine once the magical 24 hours had passed from Ada's digestive distress - but mostly we stayed home.

I ruthlessly culled the girls' rooms of large and non-essential toys, relegating most of their stuff to the basement playroom. I already replaced the usual residents of my drawers, shelves, and hangers with seasonally appropriate (if too large) maternity gear. Now I just need need to dust everywhere and then it's time to have the carpet cleaners over for a long overdue visit.

And after that - bunk bed time! Fortunately, the girls are excited about becoming roommates soon.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Yes, I Voted

Or, at least I "row-voted."  Apparently my explanations about the merits of a representative democracy leave something to be desired.  I thought Ada was pretty clear - up to and even including the spelling of the word "vote" - until she hopped out of the Cool Cool Car and asked, "We're going to get in a boat, now?"

Sadly, voting's not quite that cool.

I take Ada with me everywhere, but apparently it's been a while since I last took her with me to my polling place.  Thinking back, my mom was here in August, she was in preschool during the primaries and probably last November, too.  I don't remember the last time I voted with assistance.  Certainly it was before the current era of Many Questions Ada.

In November 2008 I must have taken her with me.  But at that point she was only 1 year old and had a slightly embarrassing habit of screaming "Daddy!" whenever she saw a picture of Senator Obama.

She really wanted to help me press my selections on the touch screen today.  I did not let her physically participate, though I did hold her up so she could see what I was doing and I explained the process as we went along.

We both found the judges bit rather boring.  And now we wait with bated breath. 

Monday, November 01, 2010

My Costume

I already posted pictures of the girls in costume from last week's Boo at the Zoo, so today I'll share my own Halloween costume. Many thanks to Paul who handled the rather tricky iron-on portion of construction.

Ada is fond of putting her hand on the baby skeleton and introducing her little brother to all we meet. Ellie prefers pointing to individual bones and naming them. "And this is the collar bone . . . "