Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Easter Photos

I was just about to write a quick blog about my birthday but realized I never put all of our Easter photos in one place so I wanted to do so now.

We had a nice holiday this year and were even able to do a few of the fun kid-centric Easter activities. The day before Easter, after a highly successful attempt with my moms' club, we did a little Easter egg dying at home with the hardboiled eggs slated to be deviled for the following day's dinner at our friends' house. He took it all very seriously and kept transferring each egg from one dye color to the other, so many of them turned out to be a sort of greenish-brown color.

Easter morning was actually quite hectic for me and Brandon, as we had to fill in for missing church volunteers and so both of us worked for two services instead of attending any. I was a little bummed to miss out on Easter church but tried to have a good attitude that I was allowing other parents that opportunity. I worked in my usual location, the infant room, for first service with my friend's son, a super-chill one-year-old.

Second service I worked in the toddler room for the first time, with the idea being that I would be with Lucas so he would hopefully get through the whole service without a meltdown - the usual result whenever we try to stay for a second service. That part actually worked out well, despite my having to carry him on my hip for the last 45 minutes. The part I wasn't prepared for was wrangling seven 1-2 year olds with only one other mom to help me! We barely survived, and there was no thought of organized snack and craft time -- I have no idea how the usual teachers manage it! The rest of the day and into Monday, I felt like I'd finished running a half-marathon. Remind me not work in a daycare any time soon.

At church in our Easter best!

After church and some rest/naps for everyone, we attempted an Easter egg hunt in the backyard and Lucas got a small Easter basket with a few toys in it. I had a lot of fun and Lucas did too, especially after he figured out that the eggs were filled with fruit snacks, graham bunnies, and Reese's Pieces! 

In the afternoon/evening, we hung out with our friends at their house and were so grateful to join their delicious Easter dinner of ham, potatoes, and all the fixings. It was a wonderful holiday as a family!

Playing in the sand with his bestie!

One more book to end a long day!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Books for March and April

Never fear, I have still been reading away these past two months. I admit that I skipped March's update semi-deliberately because I was embarrassed that I only read two books that month. BUT I got back on track and read four books in April so now I am ready to post more reviews. It's a couple days early but there's no way I'm going to finish the current behemoth I'm in the middle of before Thursday so I'm posting while I have the chance!

7. Red Rising by Pierce Brown: This book was great! It's a pretty new release, I think it was published in January, but it's definitely going to be a big hit in the future. It's YA sci-fi dystopia, but written by a man and with a more male-friendly protagonist and storyline. Not that I don't love some angsty teen love triangles, but it was refreshing to read a more action-centered sci-fi since this isn't my usual type of book. The world was detailed and well-built, and the storyline was action-packed and thrilling, if a tad more graphically violent than I prefer. The main character is interesting and likable without being too perfect, and I'm really looking forward to the next installment. Highly recommended. Also, the author is a fellow Pepperdine alumnus so he has that going for him too!

8. Runner by Patrick Lee: My dad passed this one on, and though it's definitely outside my usual genre as a general adult action thriller, I found it very easy to read and enjoyable. It's a page-turner, perfect for reading on vacation or on an airplane, and it went by very quickly. The characters are fairly shallow, but I don't need a lot of depth for this kind of book. The action was fun and unpredictable and the plot has some fun twists and a satisfying ending. Perfect for what it is trying to be.

8.5. Letter 44, issues 1-5: I don't think these count as a full book, but I'm throwing them in here because they do count as reading material! I rarely read comic books; not because I don't find them enjoyable, but because they cost around $4 an issue but only take me between 5-10 minutes to read. I'm a girl on a budget, so I can't really make that kind of financial commitment. But my parents passed these on and have both been reading them (as has my sister) so I gave them a try. Like I said, I know next to nothing about comics, but I'm liking the storyline! Even if I only get it in drips and drabs. If you like comics and sci-fi, I recommend them for sure.

9. Walking in circles before lying down by Merrill Markoe: This is your basic chick lit like I used to devour all the time in college. This one's "hook" is that the girl can hear what dogs say; this was funny but was basically the only worthwhile part of the book. The main character is grating and does that stupid chick lit girl thing where she refuses to see what a giant douche monkey her boyfriend is until the very end when she finally ends up with a nice guy instead. I don't think I would recommend this one, but it was harmless enough.

10. A Crown of Embers by Rae Carson: This is the second book of the trilogy I started in February, and I loved it even more than the first one! Elise, the main character, has really grown a backbone since the first book, which made her more interesting and likable. The romance here was sweeter and more believable, and the male romantic interest was well written and interesting in his own right. It ends on a cliffhanger but since I had the other book already in my possession, I didn't mind too much. Otherwise, you might be annoyed that this book does not stand on its own -- you definitely need the first and the third for it to make sense.

11. The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson: The third and final book in the trilogy. I found the very end to be a tiny bit of a letdown, but not aggravatingly so. The first two-thirds are good and exciting in wrapping up the storyline from the second book, even if it felt a bit like we were just moving from one exciting action scene to the next. Overall, I really enjoyed this trilogy and appreciated that the third book was not total horseshit, as seems to be the norm with YA sci-fi/fantasy trilogies.

12. Legend by Marie Lu: Technically, this was a re-read. I read this book a couple years ago and was not that impressed so I never bothered to read the rest. But recently, and on my sister's recommendation, I decided I wanted to read the full trilogy so I checked this out from the library as a reminder of the story before I move on to the next two. I still found the story to be pretty predictable and the romance to be completely uninspiring, but in general the world it takes place in is an interesting one. We'll see if the next two impress me more, as I'm not totally sold yet.

That's it for April! Hopefully I finish this giant book before the end of May or next month's update will be MIA as well.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Weekend in San Jose

We just got back from a wonderful weekend to visit my parents in San Jose. The last time we went to them, Lucas was only five months old. That trip had its moments too, but Lucas and I slept about 3-4 hours per night on average while we were there, so I mostly remembered feeling so exhausted and stressed out. This trip went, for the most part, much more smoothly!

As long as you discount the airplane trips, of course. Lucas is not what you'd call a happy traveler. He thrives on routine and familiarity; airports provide none of those things. So he's very on edge the entire time we're in the airport and on the plane, which means for him that he's liable to tantrum at any moment. On the way there, we attempted to have him ride in his car seat. That didn't work at all; about five minutes after takeoff he started violently kicking the (occupied) seat in front of him. He spent the rest of the flight on Brandon's lap as we desperately tried to find something to entertain him. I swear I brought a ton of options, but when he's already in a bad mood, nothing would please him. My poor dad met us at the airport with an exhausted shrieking toddler and two extremely cranky adults. The trip was all uphill from here!

My mom was brilliant and rented a full-size crib for us to use instead of a cramped Pack'n'Play, so Lucas slept through the night all three nights we were there and took about an hour long nap each day. So much better! He didn't eat that well, but the dogs and grandparents provided too much distraction to focus on unimportant things like food. Luckily, the Tank can afford to skip a couple meals. But Brandon and I didn't have to! My parents made delicious meals for us to eat all weekend, which was wonderful!

A lot of the trip we spent just chilling in my parents beautiful, toddler-safe backyard. My mom found a Radio Flyer wagon on Craigslist that was probably Lucas's favorite thing ever, so we pulled him around the yard in that about a thousand times. There were also plenty of new trucks to investigate, plus the all-consuming excitement of splashing his hands into their bird bath. He was a little indifferent to their two Basset Hounds, Kaylee and Charlie, at first and never really liked being licked in the face. He did love getting Kaylee to chase him back and forth across the yard, which was really cute, as was his lifting up his shirt and giggling when the dogs sniffed and licked his tummy. The best part of the backyard was the comfy lounges for Brandon and I to lie on while Lucas ran his grandparents ragged, and also playing with Lucas under the fan sprinkler. Don't tell him, but I just bought him one for his birthday for us to use in the backyard this summer. He had so much fun running through it! It was really cute.

We did a couple very Lucas-friendly outings as well. Our first full day there, we went to visit Lucas's great-grandma, Grandma T., at her house. Then we all walked down to the nearby park for a little playtime -- well, some of us walked, some of us rode in a wheelchair, and some were carried by their dad and grandpa. The park was really nice and Lucas had a lot of fun, although his favorite part was when Grandma T sat on a bench so Grandpa could push him around in her wheelchair while he ate Goldfish crackers out of the cupholder.

Showing off his cuteness to Grandma T.
The second fun outing was to a ritzy park in the rich neighborhood nearby. This park featured a working miniature steam train and a carousel! We got to ride both, and it made my heart burst with happiness to see how much fun Lucas had on the train and carousel. It was a little rough getting off the carousel because he wanted "More? More?" and didn't understand why we couldn't go again. It's such a joy to see your kid experience things you love for the first time. Taking him to Disneyworld this summer may well kill me.

The trip home was a hundred times better than the trip out. This time we gate-checked the car seat and just had him on our laps; the extra space seemed to keep everyone a lot calmer and happier. Although the good feelings were mostly ruined by the epic meltdown he threw in the car while we were waiting for Brandon to reinstall the carseat, we all came home feeling like we'd had a great, relaxing weekend.

Happy boy on the train
Selfie on the train! I swear I don't look this pregnant yet.

The ritzy park had a real fire engine to play in.

Fun at the park!
Carousel Excitement!