Thursday, January 30, 2014

Books for January

One of my New Year's Resolutions was to try to read more. I thought it might be fun to keep track of the books I read on here. I read three books in January and two of them came from the library! Technically I read three and a half books, but you'll have to wait to hear about the fourth one once I finish it in February.

1. Fire by Kristin Cashore: Graceling was my absolute favorite book I read in 2013, and I think I liked this companion just as much, if not more! The world of Katsa and Fire is a very interesting and well put together one, and the characters are fascinating. I found Fire to be slightly too perfect, as her only flaw was arguably a strength (finding it in herself to defeat her father and thus save countless others from his cruelty). The monsters were a fascinating and very creative concept, and I enjoyed both of the male characters that made up the requisite love triangle to be very engaging and three-dimensional. My only real issue with the book was the author's need to shoehorn Leck, the villain from Graceling, into this book as well. I don't think he was needed and it took away from the main story for me. The ghost of Fire's father was plenty villain enough. Looking forward to reading the third installment next month!

2. Son by Lois Lowry: The final piece to The Giver universe series of books. The Giver is my #1 young adult novel of all time, and sadly, the subsequent novels have never come close to measuring up to that one. But I think I liked this one best of the other three (Gathering Blue and The Messenger being the other two). Part of that was because a good portion of the book took place in the original community from The Giver. I liked getting some alternative perspective to The Giver story. I also felt a strong connection to the main character because the plot hinged on her undeniable and enduring love for her son, a subject I am obviously invested in. I was a bit annoyed by the ending, but Lowry ended The Giver on a similarly vague and dissatisfying note so I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised.

3. The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling): I'm not usually a fan of mystery or crime novels, but Rowling is a great author (obviously) and this novel kept my attention fairly well. I didn't guess the murderer until right up until the end, and I enjoyed the interaction between the detective and his assistant. I get a bit bored with all the investigation and clue-discovering, but that's all a part of crime novels, so I can't hold it against the story. Crime novels still aren't really my cup of tea, but I'd probably read another Strike novel once one appears.

Sigh, only three books in a month? A decade ago, I would have been very disappointed in myself, but I'll take it. I'm also pleased that two of these came from the library! I've also got the online reservation system figured out now, so I'm hoping to get some really good stuff next month, as opposed to just the closest book I can grab that looks somewhat interesting while I am trying to keep Hurricane Lucas from disrupting the entire library.

Updates and Pictures

Oh, hey, a blog! I've been having trouble feeling inspired enough to blog lately. Being home with a toddler has some great aspects to it, but it's tough to come up with material for a blog entry that's more than just a catalog of our daily routine.

Lucas is still picking up new words at a fairly steady pace. I haven't been keeping a complete list but I'd say he's up between 20-30 words now? He figured out that the stove/oven is hot earlier this month so he'll walk up to it, hold up his hand like a stop sign, and say "Hot! Hot! Hot!" over and over. He also used his first phrase by asking me for "More Ice!" We're still working on please and thank you, he occasionally will sign 'please' when prompted but I haven't gotten any successful 'thank you' signs yet. He can't say his name yet but he'll poke at his tummy and smile when you ask him "Whose name is Lucas?" He says "Ohhh" in this deep angry voice -- I think he's trying to say "No," maybe? Usually he just shakes his head. "Yes" is still a "Haha!" plus a grin.

He's also attached to a lovey, his little stuffed Clifford that my mom found him for Christmas. He doesn't want to carry it around all day or anything, but it's so cute to watch him snuggle it up under his chin when he's getting ready to sleep.

We're definitely still struggling with tantrums, although I can tell it's easier when he can communicate what he wants. Mostly we get tantrums when he's being asked to transition in some way. I'm not exactly sure how to deal with it, but I am giving verbal warnings of impending transition since he seems to understand a lot more than he expresses. "Five minutes until we go home, Lucas!" He likes to hit when he's mad, and last week he tried to kick me for the first time.

Size wise, we're just about to bump him up to 3T clothing. He's somewhere in the vicinity of 33-34 pounds, about 35 inches tall right now, and currently wearing 8wide shoes.

I've been having a lot of fun taking him to the zoo, since my mom's group seems to meet exclusively when he's napping these days. He takes one 1-2 hour nap daily around 11:30, which puts us at odds to most other kids his age, but I try to get him to hang out with other toddlers whenever we can. He has a really sweet little heart most of the time when he's interacting with other kids. He loves to share his toys, and will actually clap and smile if another kid comes up and steals toys from him. Lol! My gentle giant. I'm aware he could grow out of this, but it makes my heart happy to see him being so kind.

Brandon and I are doing well. Brandon recently transitioned to a wholly administrative position at work, without any direct reports, which we are hoping will lessen the stress of his workload. I recently made the decision to switch from active to inactive with the California State Bar, which means I can no longer practice law. I'm content with the decision; the pro bono cases I took last year were fine, but it's next to impossible to get any significant amount of work done with Lucas around, and I was unwilling to give up my break during the day while Lucas is napping to do volunteer work. Call me selfish if you will.

Here are a few more photos! Hoping to blog next with a few short reviews of the books I read in January!

He's so snuggly after his nap, we love it!

He's really digging dried leaves right now.

Trying out the Car Museum; mostly a bust. Turns out they don't want toddlers crawling inside priceless cars.

Got to watch some cool polar bear antics this week at the zoo.

Being gentle with Carmen the goat. He loved feeding her hay!

Friday, January 3, 2014

New Year's Resolutions!

These are always fun to make, even if I rarely follow through. I think it's nice to want to be your best self and make a new start, even when that proves hard to do. Here are a few things I'm hoping to improve on this year.

1. Eat cleaner and better: I owe it to myself and my family to plan, purchase, and create healthy and tasty meals. Since I am in charge over about 90% of our food choices (I do all meal planning, grocery shopping, and most of the cooking), it really falls to me to make sure the family makes healthy choices. We aren't as bad as we used to be, but there's a lot of room for improvement. I'm hoping to significantly increase our intake of fresh produce (Lucas does okay here, but I need to work at hiding more vegetables in his meals since he'll rarely eat any if they're served to him straight). This one is also challenging because I'm working within a budget so I can't just go to town on whatever sounds good, particularly with meat. This is my main goal for the coming year!

2. Sign up for and run at least one race, and maybe more. I really miss races as a hobby. While I'd love to train for a half marathon again someday, it's more realistic for me to stick to shorter 5Ks and 10Ks for the time being. I've already picked out my first one, Finish Chelsea's Run 5K on March 1. I'm signing up next week! Brandon and Lucas may tag along on this one too.

3. Read more! Sometimes I go weeks without cracking open a book, which is terrible to me. I need to do better at utilizing the library system so I don't spend too much on new books, though. I'm going to try to keep track of all the books I read this year to see how many I can finish. I used to read well over 100 books a year. I doubt if I read much more than a couple dozen this past year. 100 is probably too ambitious with Hurricane Lucas around, but more is always better when it comes to books!

Three is probably a good start with resolutions. It's good to start small and add more things later if I am successful.