Sunday, April 26, 2015

11 Months

This past week, Baby A turned 11 months old. I'm still trying to figure out where the time went! Now, the countdown is now on to her first birthday.

Here's what she's been up to over the last couple of months:
  • Tooth #6 finally broke through this week. It was a rough time so I'm hoping we'll get a bit of a break from the teething now. 
  • She can stick out her tongue, clap, and imitate my fingers doing the "Itsy Bitsy Spider"actions.
  • She loves to imitate sounds, though she hasn't said anything with real purpose yet. DH always says "Tickle, tickle, tickle!" to her while he tickles her, so she likes to roll on to her side and say "tickatickaticka!" to get us to play. It's very cute...except when she does it during diaper changes. 
  • She will try to play Peekaboo with random objects and thinks it's hilarious when we act surprised. 
  • She's entered the food tossing phase. More ends up on the floor or on the wall than in her mouth these days. Can't wait for this one to pass! She loves fruit, though, especially bananas and oranges. 
  • Her current favourite toy is anything she can get her hands on that is not actually a toy. She loves to pull things off of tables or shelves, and out of cupboards.
  • She scoots backwards. We seem to be stalled here when it comes to crawling. I'm starting to think she may just skip it altogether.
  • She pulls herself up to stand and walks all over the place while holding on to our hands or furniture. She just started letting go to stand on her own for a few seconds at a time. 
  • She's finally decided that she likes music. Uptown Funk is a current favourite. She dances, which cracks us up because her "dancing" looks a lot like this:

These last few months have been so much fun. She's really developing her sense of humour and personality. The increased mobility and independence is bringing on the boundary testing, though, and she is starting to get whiny. She can be very quick to express her displeasure. Guess it's time to start bracing myself for the toddler life!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Review: Such a Long Journey

Such a Long Journey, Rohinton Mistry
Historical fiction

There's a mall downtown that my parents used to take me to when I was younger. We'd usually go during the holidays to see all the decorations. On the second level, there was a walkway lined with windows that connected two parts of the mall above the street. My parents would get cappuccinos from the Second Cup that used to be there and we'd sit by the windows watching the traffic go by while I spooned the cinnamon dusted foam off my mom's coffee. That mall still exists but is mostly office space now and has since been renamed. It's one of several places that has changed names over the years but that I still call by its old name. The mall was what came to mind when I read this passage in Such a Long Journey:

"Names are so important. I grew up on Lamington Road. But it has disappeared, in its place is Dadasaheb Bhadkhamkar Marg. My school was on Carnac Road. Now suddenly it's on Lokmanya Tilak Marg. I live at Sleater Road. Soon that will also disappear. My whole life I have come to work at Flora Fountain. And one fine day the name changes. So what happens to the life I have lived? Was I living the wrong life, with all the wrong names? Will I get a second chance to live it all again, with these new names? Tell me what happens to my life. Rubbed out, just like that? Tell me!"

Using the old names is way of hanging on to that life and those memories. It's a way of clinging to the past, like Gustad, the novel's main character, tends to do. There are many journeys in the book, both literal and figurative, that serve to push Gustad toward letting go of the past and start moving forward.

The novel takes place in 1971, when war is brewing between India and Pakistan. This is a time in India's history I was not familiar with since most books I gravitate to are set during Partition (1947). That made it interesting. The story itself was interesting as well, with a good mix of characters and a bit of mystery. The different personalities and goings on of the residents of Khodadad Building were entertaining.

As much as I enjoyed the book, I have to admit that when I finished, I felt like I'd missed something or maybe some of it went over my head. It might have been that my expectations were off; the blurb implied that Roshan's (Gustad's daughter) illness and Gustad's conflict with his eldest son were going to be a really big deal but they were more background issues that just kind of fizzled out. Then again, I have found myself thinking about the book since finishing it so maybe it's one of those books that you appreciate more after reading it, as it sits with you?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Spring At Last

It's here! After record cold temperatures this winter, spring is finally, mercifully here! Can you tell I'm just a little excited about it? This week has been filled with sunshine, trips to the park, and landscaping plans. And the best part: no boots or jackets required. Amazing.

Before we put the stroller away in the fall, walks around the neighbourhood were sanity breaks for me. Besides the car seat, it was the only way Baby A would nap without being held. She'd fall asleep by the time we got home and I'd sit out on the porch with her until she woke up. Now, she can sit upright and enjoy the view while we walk to the park. Even better, she can enjoy the swing once we're there. We tried it for the first time this past weekend and I think it's safe to say she loves it!

It's been wonderful being able to open the windows and get fresh air into the house again. Our yard and garden were woefully neglected last year so I can't wait to start getting those in order soon, too.

I didn't realize how much of a drag winter had been on my mood until things warmed up last week and I felt 1000x times better. Right now, life is good!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Review: The Bean Trees

The Bean Trees, Barbara Kingsolver

The Bean Trees is Barbara Kingsolver's debut novel. Kingsolver is one of my favourite authors and The Poisonwood Bible is one of my favourite books so my expectations were high. Like The Poisonwood Bible, there are memorable characters here. And like Prodigal Summer, there are vivid descriptions of the landscape. The Bean Trees, however, doesn't quite have the lasting impact of either.

The novel follows Taylor Greer as she sets out to leave her small-town Kentucky life behind and start fresh in Arizona. Along the way, she ends up with a baby that someone leaves in the passenger seat of her car. As ridiculous as that might sound, it is actually a good story that touches on a lot of social issues. Kingsolver doesn't really unpack those issues, so it was a little unsatisfying when I was expecting something meatier. At the same time, the book probably would have been depressing if she had.

I liked Taylor a lot and wanted her to succeed. I also enjoyed her humour. She actually reminded me of Sookie Stackhouse, maybe with more street smarts. The one thing I did have a hard time getting my head around was how quickly and easily she decided to keep the baby. She prides herself on making it through high school without getting pregnant and looks down on the other girls in her small town who weren't so lucky, or who got married and pregnant right after graduating. So, she leaves to make something of herself in a better place and the first thing she does is...pick up a baby? That contradiction is never addressed.

Overall, this was an enjoyable and well written debut novel. If you're a Kingsolver fan, it's worth reading. If you haven't read any of her novels yet, I'd suggest starting with The Poisonwood Bible or Prodigal Summer instead.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Settling Down Again

March really got away from me, didn't it? It was a busy month but things have settled down now that Easter is done. Over the next little while, I'll be catching up here. My review of The Bean Trees is coming soon and I'm nearly done the audio version of Kitchen Confidential.

For now, I'll leave you with this Vanity Fair piece on Virgin Galactic. It's an appropriate follow-up to Rocketeers and provides some extra information that Belfiore didn't include in the book. The VF article is optimistic about Virgin Galactic finally getting SpaceShipTwo underway in the next year or so. I wish I could say the same!