Saturday, February 28, 2015

Kitchen Progress

February wasn't a great month for Operation Get My Shit Together. I had good intentions but they didn't get me far. I don't have high hopes for March since it will be a busy month, but we'll see.

The one project I did complete was for Week 3 of the 40 Weeks 1 Whole House challenge; I reorganized our kitchen cart. We bought it not long after I moved in with DH since the kitchen is pretty small. The extra storage and counter space is really helpful. Not so helpful when it's covered with clutter, though, as it has been for way too long. I'm really happy with the changes I made.

Here's what I started with:
I created a lunch/snack section on the left, moved the bottles out of Baby A's reach, created a space for baby feeding stuff, and created a better space for the containers. So far, it's been pretty easy to maintain.

I'm pretty proud of my handiwork! 

My goal for March is to complete the next two weeks of the challenge: create a donation/sales staging area and organize the laundry room. I'm using this challenge as motivation to deep clean these areas and tackle jobs that I've been putting off, which means the laundry room could take a while. There is a lot of unfinished crap down there! 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Review: Rocketeers

Rocketeers, Michael Belfiore

I don't think I've mentioned my background on the blog before, though I have talked about teaching science. I actually have a degree in Planetary Science which I completed in 2006, so I was immersed in all things space during the time period covered by Rocketeers. I remember the excitement surrounding the X-Prize and the new possibilities represented by the success of SpaceShipOne. Reading this book brought me back to that time and made me miss it.

Belfiore discusses the big names in the Ansari X-Prize competition and describes those early years of the private space industry. It was interesting to see what motivated the different teams and the various approaches to their designs. Belfiore does a good job of conveying their optimism and the tension during the test firings. It was easy to get swept up in those parts of the book. Ultimately, however, I came away with mixed feelings. The book prompted me to look up a lot of the companies and people mentioned to see their progress and it was depressing to learn how many have failed or simply stopped. Most ran out of money, some just couldn't make it work. It's not surprising but it is disappointing.

My biggest take-away from Rocketeers actually had nothing to do with the science or space aspects. As I was reading, I found myself envious of the way these guys followed their passions. John Carmack of Armadillo Aerospace, for instance, would get together with a group on Tuesday nights and Saturdays to tinker with their designs. It occurred to me that I haven't had anything really and truly excite me like that in a long time. I started thinking about what my Tuesday Night Thing might be; what am I that passionate about, what fuels my creative fire? I am not sure anymore.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Inside Out

Yesterday was Baby A's inside out day! At 39 weeks, she's been an outside baby for just as long as she was inside. On Sunday, she'll be turning nine months old. Since I never did get around to sharing any belly photos, here's the comparison:

The 38 week shot is the last one I took since my water broke on the morning I turned 39 weeks. What a difference (almost) nine months makes! I'm still not sure where the time went, I just know that it's gone by way too fast.

What she's up to these days:

  • Tooth #3 just cut through and #4 is not far behind. 
  • Lots of smiles and giggles. She can be so playful and I live for the sound of her laughter.
  • Just started waving and pointing. 
  • She can babble like a champ! She's been saying "mamama,""dadada," and various other sounds for a few months now. Lately, she's been stringing together different syllables but no real words yet. 
  • She does understand some words! This has been so much fun to see. During meals, if I ask her if she'd like some water, she'll either get excited and say "ba!" if she wants to drink or look away if she doesn't. 
  • She knows what to do when we get a camera out. 
  • Loves to look at her reflection in mirrors or screens. 
  • Can sit up, though she hasn't totally mastered pulling herself up to sitting yet.
  • She can stand with support and wants to be on her feet all the time. 
  • She can lift her butt in the air but that's as close as we get to crawling attempts. Why bother when we can stand, right?
There's a HuffPo piece making its way around the internet right now and even though it's a little early, so much of it rings true for me. This part especially, every day:

Sometimes, when we're looking at each other laughing, I also feel the urge to cry, because you must be too good to be true. I never want any of this to end.

This little girl makes my heart so happy, it hurts. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Review: Ender's Game

Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card
Fiction, Young Adult, Science Fiction

My YA kick continues! Ender's Game is the first book in the Ender Quintet and tells the story of Andrew "Ender" Wiggin, a child with a brilliant mind for military strategy who is called upon (and used/manipulated) to save the Earth from an alien attack.

That premise may sound ridiculous but it was actually pretty interesting and the book was easy to get into. The parts that focus on Ender and his training were very good. Some interesting themes were brought up, like the nature of free will:

Human beings are free except when humanity needs them. Maybe humanity needs you. To do something. Maybe humanity needs me -- to find out what you're good for. We might both do despicable things, Ender, but if humankind survives, then we were good tools.

The portions that focused on Ender's siblings and the political situation on Earth were my least favourite parts. It was never entirely clear what exactly was going on and neither sibling was particularly likeable.

Throughout the book, I had a very hard time reconciling many of the conversations and situations with the fact that the characters were supposed to be children. When we meet Ender, he's only six and by the final battle, he's eleven. His siblings and the other students in the Battle School are not much older. I get that these kids are supposed to be geniuses but it was still strange.

Last but not least, the way Ender's siblings were characterized was annoying. His older brother, Peter, is basically a psychopath and his sister has a heart of gold. There are a couple of examples of these things but mostly, Card just tells us this over and over again assuming that repeating it is enough to convince us. There was a lot of repetition. Maybe this bothered me more because I'm not the target demographic but, but I always prefer authors who show rather than tell.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and I'm glad I read since it's supposed to be a YA classic. But I'm not sure that I liked it enough to keep going with the series. I was satisfied enough with how it ended and am not really curious to follow it any further.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Getting It Together

This year, I didn't bother making any new year's resolutions. They rarely get kept anyway! Instead, I went with Alyssa's idea over at Apple Pie and the Universe and chose a theme. Between pregnancy and a newborn, then a not-so-newborn who wouldn't sleep, last year was chaos. Now that things have settled down, I've decided that 2015 is going to be the year of Getting My Shit Together.

One month in, I'm making some decent progress. We've figured out some much needed new routines and are doing fairly well with sticking to them. I've caught up with a couple of friends and am planning to continue making that a priority. I'm also working on getting the house in order, which is the big thing I'd really hoped to accomplish before returning to work.

While browsing Pinterest last fall, I discovered the 40 Weeks 1 Whole House challenge and have been using that as a guide. Week 1 involves sorting through all "kitchen papers" and creating a system to contain and manage it. That took me all of January since I had, no kidding, two years' worth of crap piled up! Week 2 is about setting up a family calendar, which we already have so that one's a breeze. I'm now embarking on Week 3: organizing lunches. The meal planning aspect will be simple, I've been doing that for years. The major task here will be reorganizing our kitchen cart, where we keep containers and other supplies, to make it more functional.

Aside from the 40 Weeks challenge, my goal for this month is to deal with work-related stuff that I've been blissfully ignoring since maternity leave began. That ends in May, but I'd like to extend through the rest of the school year and start looking for non-teaching job. I also need to update my resume and portfolio, and maybe, if I'm feeling really ambitious, I might even clean out my work emails.

So, when I'm not reading or hanging out with Baby A, this is what I'm up to these days!