Weekend Update

When I was on maternity leave I [halfheartedly] considered going back to work early for a practice day just to work with nothing on the line.  I didn’t want the pressure of being short-staffed with a full waiting room, but I was never worried enough to come back early.  That sweet baby took up every second, and before I knew it I was back at work for real.

I can’t believe how lucky I was! I worked with two great nurses and we had a nice shift (“slow” is a swear word in the E.R.)  For twelve hours, I barely spoke of babies or breastfeeding.  I’d forgotten how much I liked the people I work with–they are such go-getters.  They do crossfit, they take Japanese lessons, they collect exotic sea creatures from secret beach locations.  I love hearing about their adventures.  Meanwhile, my sweet husband had volunteered to take the baby for the day so the transition was that much easier.  No dropping her off with strangers–instead I got text updates and dad got a run for his money.

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I got my practice day after all.

After just the one shift, it was back to the weekend!  Carl and I met up with another family of go-getters who were brave enough to take their six day old to the beach. We loaded up the fans and shade creating devices to keep that baby cool while the boys and I took turns snorkeling.  We joked that the bravest one was the mama who showed off in a bathing suit just six days after having a baby.  What a champ!

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This snuggle sesh didn’t last long–my chunky babe was cuddling little Teddy a little too hard!

Can you believe those baby blues?  The water was perfectly warm, and filled with colorful fish–a snorkeler’s paradise.  Our afternoon was capped off with Matthew spearing what we think was a parrot fish.  We had such a great day with this little family!35406160414_b99850d67e_o (1).jpg

Today is what we call a “rest and regroup” day.  Groceries, cleaning, Neflix.  I have absolutely no faith that this next week will be as smooth as the last, but I am so grateful.

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Literary Drinking Buddies

I’ve always wanted to hang out with J.K. Rowling.  As a kid I assumed that she was an exiled witch who knew everything about the wizarding world and chose to present it to us Muggles as fiction.  As an adult, I think she’s hilarious.

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She would definitely be that girl you instantly bond with in line for the bathroom.  You’d make fun of the boys who think they’re impressive and she’d be weirdly amazing at the mechanical bull.  J.K. Rowling would definitely hold her liquor, and when you couldn’t hold yours, she wouldn’t judge.

I don’t think I’d like drinking with Hemingway.  He’d be the guy at rating girls on a 0-10 numerical scale, all the while neglecting to notice that they were all out of his league.

Emily Dickinson?  The weird girl who tells you about the personalities of her various cats and can’t quite take a hint that you just don’t care.

Edgar Allen Poe would show up somehow plastered before sunset and would have conveniently forgotten his wallet.  Rude.

Yep, I’m definitely sticking with J.K. Rowling.

Who would be your literary drinking buddy?

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Things I Did on Maternity Leave

This week, I have to go back to work.  Womp, womp.

I always knew I’d want to work while raising kids.  Stay-at-home moms are superheroes, and I respect the hell out of them, but that’s just not me.  Going back to work feels like eating my veggies–it’s something that I want to do, but also really, really don’t because my baby is the best baby in the world (sorry, other babies) and I love her and I’m pretty sure that I will have a meltdown every five seconds that I’m at work.

When I was first getting used to having a plethora of time and a dearth of free hands, I frantically googled “things to do on maternity leave”, “what to do while breastfeeding”, and “how to work out with baby”.  The search turnout was less than satisfying, and I quickly found my own answers (respectively: whatever you want, Netflix, and stationary bike).  I’d like to think this list might help some busybody mom like me, but if nothing else I will have a list of my teeny accomplishments.

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WHAT I DID DURING MATERNITY LEAVE

(in order of least to most significant)

  1. Watched all of The Office, Riverdale, and Friends
  2. Went to brunch a LOT
  3. Drank a lot of delicious coffee
  4. Savored the occasional afternoon nap
  5. Cleaned my house.  Thanks, Roomba!
  6. Took the babe on numerous stroller walks to the beach and the convenience store
  7. Pumped enough breastmilk to fill my freezer
  8. Figured out how to accomplish everyday tasks with one or no hands
  9. Explored Okinawa again
  10. Survived our first mini-deployment
  11. Travelled to California and Tokyo
  12. Attempted to get back in shape, not an easy task as a temporarily single mom
  13. Caught up with so many old friends
  14. Introduced T to her grandparents, her aunt, great-grandma, great-uncle
  15. Cuddled this babe for approximately 12 weeks straight.  Loved her more than I ever knew was possible.

 

Weekend Update: Carl’s home! (hopefully)

I’m writing this post ahead of time, and I have no idea if Carl will be home when he thinks he will.  Our timelines are flexible and change often, generally stretching and delaying.   Being dual active duty means that we are doubly flexible.

Listen, I love and support the USMC, but this baby is ready to see her dad and I am ready to see my husband.  If he’s here when he says he’ll be, rest assured I won’t have time to update this post.  We’ll be too busy catching up on lost time and seeing the whole island!

Fingers crossed.

happy reading

Big-lostworld.jpgCurrently reading: The Lost World, Michael Crichton

“What makes you think human beings are sentient and aware? There’s no evidence for it. Human beings never think for themselves, they find it too uncomfortable. For the most part, members of our species simply repeat what they are told-and become upset if they are exposed to any different view. The characteristic human trait is not awareness but conformity, and the characteristic result is religious warfare. Other animals fight for territory or food; but, uniquely in the animal kingdom, human beings fight for their ‘beliefs.’ The reason is that beliefs guide behavior which has evolutionary importance among human beings. But at a time when our behavior may well lead us to extinction, I see no reason to assume we have any awareness at all. We are stubborn, self-destructive conformists. Any other view of our species is just a self-congratulatory delusion. Next question.”

 

My Book Reviews: Rules of Civility

When it’s my month to choose the book for book club, the pressure is on.  I want everyone to love it, to transfer that love to me (Hayley, you have the best taste in books, you are just the best person, etc. etc.)  I’ve had several flops (Hayley, this book was too weird but we still mostly like you), and now I research before suggesting anything.  One of my favorite websites in my search is The Modern Mrs. Darcy, a blog about books that was recommended to me years ago by the famous Lauren Honeycutt.

I picked three recommendations from her blog, and my book club voted for Rules of Civility.

Do you ever read books and sink deep into the given mood?  I’ve read books that were cozy like pumpkin spice and sweaters, some that were beachy and easy, but this book was like re-living a long night in D.C.  I remember being on night shift, unable to sleep at two in the morning, and watching snow fall onto an empty street.

This book was that mood exactly.

Katya (aka Katie, Kate, Katherine) is a smart, capable 20something who meets “Tinker” Grey on a night out with her best friend, Eve.  The two girls engage in some competition over the rich and fabulous gentleman, but Eve eventually wins after she is seriously injured in a car accident–the ultimate pity move.  In her attempts to move on, Kate meets glamorous young friends (think The Great Gatsby) and drinks a lot of champagne.

“Anyone who has ridden the subway twice a day to earn their bread knows how it goes: When you board, you exhibit the same persona you use with your colleagues and acquaintances. You’ve carried it through the turnstile and past the sliding doors, so that your fellow passengers can tell who you are – cocky or cautious, amorous or indifferent, loaded or on the dole. But you find yourself a seat and the train gets under way; it comes to one station and then another; people get off and others get on. And under the influence of the cradlelike rocking of the train, your carefully crafted persona begins to slip away. The super-ego dissolves as your mind begins to wander aimlessly over your cares and your dreams; or better yet, it drifts into ambient hypnosis, where even cares and dreams recede and the peaceful silence of the cosmos pervades.”

Woven throughout are themes from George Washington’s Rules of Civility, hence the title.  My good friend Maureen read this book and raved about the symbolism and imagery in the book.   Listen, I don’t know about all that, but this book was good.  Like cold pizza for breakfast good.

You can thank me later for my magic words.

On a side note, it is about 45 kazillion degrees here.  Thank god the library has the best air conditioning!

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Should I finish this book?

This summer, I’ve created a Kindle graveyard of half-finished books.

Part of it is the fact that I have pretty much no attention span.  I read in thirty second intervals between naps, feedings, and diaper changes–whatever book I choose had better be seriously gripping.  The next book is always shinier, more exciting.

My newest thing is the free shelf at the library. I’ll clear out my shelves and donate a bag of books, only to replace them with new ones.  I guess there are worse hobbies.  I could be addicted to online poker or something.

Truly, life is too short to finish a book you’re not enjoying.  If you love to read, chances are that there is a book out there you could currently be enjoying except you’re stubbornly sticking to this dud.  There are plenty of fish in the literary sea.

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What do you think? Is disciplined reading worthwhile for its own sake?

happy reading

Weekend Update: My Tokyo Trip

I’ve been to Tokyo before, but this trip was different.  For one thing, I was staying in one city for five whole days–unheard of!  I rarely get that much time off.  I was also serving as a pretty unofficial tourguide to my dad, who’d never been to Japan before.  Probably the biggest difference, though, was that this time I’d be traveling with a two month old baby girl.  Let me just hit some of the highlights:

Meiji Ji

I love that this lush forest is smack dab in the middle of a bustling city.  It’s always my first stop in Tokyo as one of the best ways to clear my head after busy travel days.

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Warayakiya

I’d never been here before–it was a recommendation from the hotel’s amazing travel desk.  They grilled tuna over huge blazing flames of burning wheat grass (the traditional style of Shikoku).  After what felt like five hundred years of pregnancy, this partially raw fish totally hit the spot.  Yum!

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Dominique Adams Bakery

I’ll admit, I came here purely to take a photo of my ice cream.  Worth it.

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Tsukiji Fish Market

Everything I’d read about this place made it sound like if you couldn’t make it in time for the 3:00 AM auctions, you shouldn’t even bother existing anymore.  I was glad to have a reason to go; my dad suggested it and it was AMAZING.  Streets of vendors with delicious looking fish, giant clams, soda flavored ice cream, ultra-sharp knives.  Breakfast was the best sushi I’ve ever tasted.  I say that I travel on my stomach, that is to say that I plan my trips around delicious foods and remember my travels by the the snacks I’ve tasted along the way.  Tsukiji was an experience I will never forget.

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Book Clubs

As someone who has lived in three cities in the last four years, I value a good book club.

It’s like this: you show up in a new town, ready and willing to make new friends–but where to find them?  I’ve had a few manufactured friendships; someone I know happens to know someone in the place I’m moving to.  The key to conjuring a friendship out of thin air is to have an activity act as a buffer, bonus points if it’s a group activity.  Church groups and bar trivia teams have provided me with plenty of acquaintances.

The best results have come from book clubs.  It makes sense; friends generally have common interests.  At book club, we are generally all into reading, food, and wine.  In every book club I’ve been a part of, that’s been about all that we had in common.

I love it! The variety of tastes and differences in personality are so exciting.  One person is into Austen, one into mystery/thrillers, and I’m the nerd reading Jurassic Park again.  I never thought I’d like the ultra-feminine classics, but my book club has convinced me.

Today, I’m headed into Tokyo with my dad and my baby to explore some more.  We’ll write more soon!

happy reading

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Weekend Update–Dad’s here!

It’s been nonstop family time for this baby.

This week, my dad is visiting from San Diego.  T is having a blast getting to know her family, and I am taking full advantage of the situation.  Oh, you want to hold her? Mind if I use the bathroom, eat breakfast, go to the gym, do my hair, take a nap?  With an extra person around to help, at times I feel like I have restless arms–they’re used to attempting to do it all.

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The only downside to visiting Okinawa this time of year is the debilitating heat.  If you’re outside for more than fifteen minutes, you start to melt like a human candle.  It feels like drowning inside a microwaveable steam bag of veggies.  It feels horrible.

I read something called “Mommy Milestones”; similar to baby milestones (I can hold my head up! I can roll over! I can sleep through the night!), Mommy milestones are a way to celebrate your new abilities a mom.  During all of the visiting, I’ve been able to hit so many milestones.  First gym visit without baby, first gym visit with baby, first successful car ride without a screaming baby, first international travel.

With my dad here, I’m exploring parts of the island and doing all kinds of things I wouldn’t normally do alone.  More on our adventures soon! Right now I have to take advantage of the fact that my kid is sleeping.  Time to use the bathroom, eat breakfast, go to the gym, do my hair, take a nap.

Hope your weekend is half as fun as ours has been so far, and half as hot!

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My Book Reviews: You Will Know Me

You Will Know Me follows Devon, an ultra competitive high school gymnast and her family.  As a toddler, Devon had a toe traumatically severed by a lawn mower, and used gymnastics to recuperate.  Even then she was described as a natural, a protege.  Her parents can’t help but sacrifice everything to her talent: they take out a second mortgage on the home, they all but neglect Devon’s younger brother.  Every spare minute is dedicated to practicing, and soon talks of the Olympics arise.  In the midst of this cutthroat atmosphere, the boyfriend of one of the coaches is murdered.

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Cabot weaves a dark and complex world of gymnastics worship, with Devon as its idol.

I meant to dip my toe in the world of competitive gymnastics, but Meg Cabot pushed me into the deep end–in a few pages, I was totally immersed.

I didn’t want to like this book; I am totally burnt out of murder stories.  I’m tired of everything being “the next Gone Girl”, or “the next big thriller”.  Often, I am left wanting.  I’m not thrilled by thrillers, not intrigued by mysteries.  I’m bored by all of it.

You Will Know Me was different enough to hold my interest.  The death of the boyfriend was an undercurrent; the over-the-top parenting drove the true plot.  Devon was a weird (in a good way), dark, troubled high schooler.  I loved how fleshed-out each character was.  Overall, this was a fast-paced summer mystery/thriller that I fully enjoyed.

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For more about You Will Know Me, check out these links:

Interview with Megan Abbott

Megan Abbott discusses her writing process

Buy on Amazon

I’m having a great vacation and loving California.  I hope you all are having a great time, too!

happy reading