Monday, January 26, 2009

Ojibwe, Demon Hunters, and Socialites

This month's book club book was The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich. I loved it to bits. I was honestly shocked to find that most of the ladies at book club didn't feel the same. It's Young Adult and the protagonist is a young Objiwe girl. It follows a year in the life of her family, Lake Superior band Ojibwe, in 1847. I was thoroughly engrossed by the descriptions of life during that time frame, even the harsh reality of a smallpox epidemic, especially with the knowledge of what was to come. Minnesota would achieve statehood in just a few short years. That band would move west. But even more than that, I loved the familiarity. I've discussed already the familiarity of a book set in Minneapolis and a book written by someone I know. This was yet another kind: the familiarity of language. The terms used for family members, household items, everyday objects, so many words and phrases have made their way into our common language as Minnesotans. I had no idea that Nokomis meant grandmother. To me it's always just been one of the lakes on the south side of town. And because of my background in archaeology, I had familiarity with the material culture. Going to school in Minnesota meant knowing Ojibwe kids from elementary school on up but once I started college at the U of M then I actually took Indian Studies. I actually went through the collections in the basement of the Anthropology building to follow NAGPRA mandates. And so perhaps all of these elements are what made me enjoy the book so much when the ladies found it too academic and wished the focus had been on the adults instead of the girl.

I read California Demon by Julie Kenner after the recommendation of a friend. It's billed as a sort of what if: What if Buffy grew up and retired from slaying and had a family and then got pulled back into the fight? The protagonist, Kate, hunted demons as a child and didn't have a high school experience and wasn't the only hunter and married one of her co-fighters and worked for a secret arm of the Vatican but honestly, that What If shorthand is pretty spot on. And it was a really great take on both "chick lit" and the sort of gothic fantasy I seem to gravitate towards these days. There were a few plot twists that I saw coming from afar but it was a quick, fluffy read and thoroughly enjoyable. I especially appreciated all the mommy details and wonder if that would be as interesting to a non-mom? The only thing that perplexed me was the constant references to events that took place 3 or 4 months prior to the action of the book. I thought perhaps it was a way to get around the rote requirements of an origin story but I wasn't sure. Once I finished it I found out: yep, this was book 2. Oops! Frankly, I don't think I missed anything by skipping the first book, Carpe Demon. I mean, most everybody read The Da Vinci Code before reading Angels and Demons and it didn't affect our enjoyment or ability to follow what was going on! I don't think I'll go back and read the first one. I would much rather continue on and find out what happens with Kate and her family next.

Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz was another recommendation by the same friend. She described it as "Gossip Girl" with vampires. Not watching that show I only have Entertainment Weekly's reviews to go by but it seems pretty accurate. You see, all the Old Money in New England is actually families of vampires that came over on the Mayflower. That makes total sense to me! HA! This was hands down the most original take on vampire mythology I've ever read. I don't want to go into detail because it's slowly explained throughout the course of the book and it was fun putting it all together. It's obviously Teen Fiction but I blasted through it in a single weekend because I was completely caught up in the action. It takes place in an elite prep school and the characters are learning about their true heritage while romancing and angsting and shopping and club hopping and making out and partying and oh yeah, being hunted by Something Bad. The only frustrating thing is that the ending was so abrupt! The mystery remained unsolved! I had oh so many theories about the potential bad guys and it just ended. Then again, if I had had the next book out from the library, I would have just kept on reading and not gotten any sleep last night at all.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Temporal Mechanics

Two nights in a row now I've had beginning-of-labor dreams. They're nothing particularly special, in the first my water broke and in both I knew that the, ahem, butt issues were yet another classic symptom. I was very conscious of the fact that this was It, though I wasn't actually experiencing contractions in the dreams. Of course after I woke up from the first one I was then kept awake by more Braxton Hicks. Figures.

This goes along with my increasing suspicion that I'm going to be going early again. I don't have anything to base this on other than crazy mama psychic vibes. New Doctor and I were joking at my make-up appointment Thursday morning (Tuesday afternoon got canceled due to him having to deliver a baby) that there's not exactly a lot of sample data yet. We'll know better after this one if that's a common thing for me or not. Heh.

My weight gain went back to my more usual 2 pounds per month so I was pleased to hear that. So far no return of the weird armpit bumps that have come and gone throughout this entire pregnancy. And the doctor figured that the weak spells I was experiencing were more likely blood sugar related, though he didn't rule out blood pressure as apparently that can drop due to the increased body area that needs to be supplied (ie my big belly) or possibly even simple dehydration when amniotic fluid is being produced.

However, he also then measured my belly. All through this pregnancy I've been right on the money for the magic centimeters to gestation comparison. I was at 30 weeks but 32 cm. I seem to remember something similar with Kirk, though I can't recall exactly when my belly moved ahead. Now, New Doc confirmed that the measurements can vary 2 cm either side of the week you're on but since I've always been exact, that stood out to me. We shall see. Like I said, I've got nothing solid to base this on other than a gut feeling. Lord knows I don't need to have a premie. But I'm also trying to step up the remaining preparations I wanted to deal with. I found the bin of Kirk's earliest, babiest clothes and I'm going to pull out whatever looks non-gender specific for starters.

  • Make eye appointment for Kirk

  • Make interview appointment for preschool for Kirk

  • Research daycare options if same location won’t also take infants

  • Talk to HR about maternity leave bureaucracy

  • Fill out and mail pre-admission form for hospital

  • Make 32, 34, and 36 week ob appointments

  • Make Kindergarten pre-screening appointment for Kirk

  • Register for baby crap (We're constantly being asked by out-of-state friends, relatives, and people that didn't know us when we had Kirk if there's anything we need)
  • Tuesday, January 20, 2009

    Belly of the Beast

    So this morning I couldn’t get out of the car. I literally couldn’t fit. Now, the spaces in that section of the ramp are incredibly tight and the car on the right was over the line but still. I couldn’t manage to squeeze out. Mr. b had to climb back in to the car, back it up, let me get out, and then re-park. Theoretically there’s enough room for me to get in when I leave for my doctor’s appointment this afternoon. But still. That was a helluva thing.

    I’ve definitely moved past the point where fetal movements are charming and only occasionally annoying. They now are nearly always uncomfortable, if not downright hurty. But one good thing is that the girl hasn’t had the hiccups. I remember that was a pretty frequent occurrence for Kirk. However, after taking some time off, the Braxton Hicks returned in the wee hours this morning, keeping me awake.

    We’ve also gotten to the point where sex is becoming extremely complicated. I just can’t figure out what tricks we learned last time. Or else maybe they don’t work this time? Of course then we didn’t have to also contend with shouts of “I’ve gotta go poop!” from down the hall to thoroughly break the mood.

    I’ve noticed that when I change my weight between sitting and standing or get up from laying down that I suddenly feel like I have to pee. So there’s definite pressure happening on the ol’ bladder. And my stomach continues to be squeezed into a tinier space, making me fuller quicker but then ready to snack soon afterwards. That’s got to be why I put on 6 pounds last time.

    I’m sort of shocked to realize that there’s really only about 2 months left. That’s gonna go faster than we notice. I’ll be switching to every-two-weeks for appointments after today. Hopefully my weight gain is in check. I’ve only been to the gym once in the past 3 weeks. I still have so many Responsible Adult things to get done before the baby comes. And if she decides to be nearly a month early like her brother, well, then I’m fraked.

  • Make eye appointment for Kirk (My dad always starts a list with something that’s already done.)

  • Make interview appointment for preschool for Kirk

  • Research daycare options if same location won’t also take infants

  • Talk to HR about maternity leave bureaucracy

  • Fill out and mail pre-admission form for hospital
  • Tuesday, January 13, 2009

    Tales of Beedle the Sushi Chef

    I’m a big reader of comic books (obviously). I’ve seen a fair amount of anime. But for some reason I never really have delved into the world of manga. It’s not because they’re “backwards”; I think that’s kind of fun. I honestly don’t know why. But then I found out that a friend of mine was working on the English adaptation of one and I decided I needed to read it. Mixed Vegetables was fantastic! I really liked it. OK, frankly it took me a little while to really get into it. Damn I forgot how hyper it can be! But then I found myself thoroughly caught up in the story of Hana’s quest to be a female sushi chef via dating the extremely dreamy (seriously, he’s drawn sooooo dreamy) Hayato and I was hooked. My library only has the first volume but I need to read more. I’ll have to put in a purchase request or do an inter-library loan.

    I got The Tales of Beedle the Bard for Christmas and read it extremely slowly. It was as though I was purposely trying to make the Potterverse last, knowing this was it. I’m a fan of folk tales anyway, especially those from cultures I didn’t grow up within, so I was predisposed to love these. But I think I liked Dumbledore’s commentary even more than the stories themselves! It gave just the briefest glimpses into Wizarding politics, particularly around Hogwarts, with a sprinkling of history. The best part was when he would discuss the attempts to sanitize the often descriptive tales, to make them more palatable for children. Hilarious! And all too prevalent in the Muggle world as well. We’ve got a lame toddler version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears which Mr. b just loathes. We both change it when reading it to Kirk so that it’s apparent that Goldilocks is a) breaking and entering and b) gets eaten in the end for being naughty.

    Monday, January 12, 2009


    Kirk is starting to make his own plans. It’s different from making his own decisions and certainly different from making his own choices when presented with The Thing We Want Him To Do and Something Else That Clearly Sucks to choose between. I had told him about Sunday dinner at Nana and Papa’s house back on Friday night or so. He knew it was coming up and was looking forward to it. When he woke up from his Quiet Time on Saturday afternoon, he was ready to go. NOW. Waiting for Sunday morning was not an option. Knowing that my sister was going to head up at some point that night with her girls, I asked him if he wanted me to call Auntie and see if he could go with her. It was all his own idea from there. He spoke to Auntie on the phone and I helped him pack his backpack and pull out his sleeping bag and his daddy helped him pick out toys and then he was chompin’ at the bit. Every five minutes he wanted to know where Auntie was. “When you finish your breakfast [supper] then Auntie will be here?” He was completely unfazed by leaving us for the night.

    And of course since we suddenly had a childfree night we didn’t know what to do with ourselves. It’s not like it was planned out and we were heading to a gig or a movie or hell even dinner.

    The strangest part of Kirk’s event planning is how quickly he makes up his mind, especially when he changes it. Sunday dinner was delicious, Kirk spent huge amounts of time out playing in the snow with his cousins, everybody got plenty of time to visit. My sister assumed that Kirk would end up spending last night up there, too, since his cousins were going to spend another night there. We arranged everything so that she would drop him off at daycare today and thought that settled it. Mr. b and I hung out later than we normally would, figuring that we’d go home when the kids went to bed. And that’s when it all changed. Kirk announced that he wanted to sleep at home, in his own bed, and started packing up his stuff. We had to go into overdrive – it was already past bedtime at that point! But it was all worth the rush because when Mr. b put a sleeping Kirkie into his bed, Kirk snuggled into his pillow as we tucked his blankets around him and got the happiest little smile on his face. Ah, that’s the stuff.

    Friday, January 09, 2009


    It’s time for another catch-all post. I keep a mental list of topics I want to write about but then the day gets away from me and I don’t have time to write at home and suddenly it seems out of date and a full dissertation no longer makes sense to me.

    Mr. b has Kirk convinced that his sister is going to be named “Strawberry”. You know, Strawberry Hill. Like the Boone’s Farm flavor.

    As I was trying to fall asleep the other night it suddenly felt strangely cool at the front of my shirt. I looked down and my boob was leaking! Isn’t it still a bit early for milk action?

    I think Kirk is officially done with naps. He’s definitely been transitioning out of them for a while but now it’s just not even worth fighting to get him to lay down. He has quiet time at daycare and we’re trying to continue that at home on the weekends (when I, however, still take naps). I guess I knew this was coming but it definitely seems early to me. I can remember having nap time at preschool. But I can also remember not actually *sleeping* during nap time in preschool… Now we just need to figure out how to adjust his bedtime to account for the lack of naps.

    I think I’m starting to have light Braxton Hicks. I guess this would be the right timing since I’m into the third trimester. I can’t remember when they began last time. I don’t really notice except for when I’m laying down at night. Then the front of my stomach will seem really tense for a little while before relaxing. They don’t hurt at all, which is why it could also just be baby pressure on one side and pillow pressure on the other.

    Friday, January 02, 2009

    2008 Reading List

    Well. I’m not sure how this happened. Did I really pull off 59 titles this year? I never would have believed I could have topped last year’s list. I suppose the fact that I read so many graphic novels helped; trade paperback collections of individual issues really is a godsend for the ol’ wallet. And I also really didn’t read anything “hard” or “thinky” unless it was assigned for book club. This was the year my brain took off. Most definitely. Blasting through nearly all of Christopher Moore’s works, blasting through the entire Twilight saga, blasting through the main part of the Anne of Green Gable series, clearly I was only choosing titles that could be completed in a week or less.

    Excluding anything mentioned above, I think the best books I read were Water for Elephants, Sunshine, and The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place. They are very different from each other and yet all three were fully realized worlds. I found them all completely believable stories (yes, even the one with vampires) with compelling protagonists and a sense that I could have kept going once I finally got to the end. I have already recommended each of these three to various folks and I stand by that; they are wonderful tales, well-written and evocative and thoroughly enjoyable. On the other end of the spectrum, however, there’s The Inheritance of Loss, which I didn’t *hate* but it wasn’t exactly enjoyable. Breaking Dawn nearly ruined my enjoyment of the rest of the series by opening my eyes to the flaws that had been there all along, yet I had been miraculously able to ignore since I was so caught up in it. Everything else I’d have to say I had a more positive reaction than negative, or at least I could find something to like in it.

    I did a completely crap job at keeping up with book reviews. I should do better. At least until the girl is born and then my reading will dwindle. So until then, I’m going to try to stick to easy reading and squeeze in as much as I can! Yay!

    BOOKS READ IN 2008

    1. Star Wars Tales, Vol. 2 Edited by Dave Land
    2. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Volume I Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill
    3. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Volume II Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill
    4. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill
    5. For the Time Being Annie Dillard
    6. Island of the Sequined Love Nun Christopher Moore
    7. Wide Sargasso Sea Jean Rhys
    8. Monstrous Regiment Terry Pratchett
    9. The Vampire Armand Anne Rice
    10. I Am Legend Richard Matheson
    11. B.P.R.D.: Garden of Souls Mike Mignola
    12. Breath, Eyes, Memory Edwidge Danticat
    13. Bone: Out From Boneville Jeff Smith
    14. Night Watch Terry Pratchett
    15. Bone: The Great Cow Race Jeff Smith
    16. Early Candlelight Maude Hart Lovelace
    17. The Cat Who Walks Through Walls Robert A. Heinlein
    18. Bone: The Eyes of the Storm Jeff Smith
    19. The Light Fantastic Terry Pratchett
    20. Bloodsucking Fiends Christopher Moore
    21. Blue Shoe Anne Lamott
    22. Bone: The Dragonslayer Jeff Smith
    23. Twilight Stephenie Meyer
    24. Bone: Rock Jaw Master of the Eastern Border Jeff Smith
    25. Soul Music Terry Pratchett
    26. Sunshine Robin McKinley
    27. Bone: Old Man’s Cave Jeff Smith
    28. Bone: Ghost Circles Jeff Smith
    29. Bone: Treasure Hunters Jeff Smith
    30. Bone: Crown of Horns Jeff Smith
    31. New Moon Stephenie Meyer
    32. Eclipse Stephenie Meyer
    33. The Woman in White Wilkie Collins
    34. Guilty Pleasures Laurell K. Hamilton
    35. Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter: Guilty Pleasures Volume 1 Laurell K. Hamilton
    36. Anne of Green Gables L.M. Montgomery
    37. Breaking Dawn Stephenie Meyer
    38. The Inheritance of Loss Kiran Desai
    39. Anne of Avonlea L.M. Montgomery
    40. Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter: The First Death Laurell K. Hamilton
    41. Emma Jane Austen
    42. The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove Christopher Moore
    43. Anne of the Island L.M. Montgomery
    44. You Suck: A Love Story Christopher Moore
    45. The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place E.L. Konigsburg
    46. Coyote Blue Christopher Moore
    47. Anne of Windy Poplars L. M. Montgomery
    48. Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter: Guilty Pleasures Volume 2 Laurell K. Hamilton
    49. Brisingr Christopher Paolini
    50. Enchanted, Inc. Shanna Swendson
    51. Anne’s House of Dreams L.M. Montgomery
    52. Water for Elephants Sara Gruen
    53. Fool Moon Jim Butcher
    54. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Mark Twain
    55. A Dirty Job Christopher Moore
    56. Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 Volume 1 The Long Way Home Joss Whedon
    57. Anne of Ingleside L.M. Montgomery
    58. The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror Christopher Moore
    59. Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 Volume 2 No Future For You Joss Whedon