Saturday, December 8, 2012

Books: Diary of a Mad Fat Girl

Diary of a Mad Fat Girl
Stephanie McAfee

Diary of a Mad Fat Girl is the story of Graciela "Ace" Jones. Ace is in fact a fat girl (although the descriptions of her in the book sound more like chubby) who has a lot to be mad about - she recently broke up with her fiance, her friend dumped her right before a planned vacation, another friend is being abused by her husband, and she hates the principal at her school (she's an art teacher).

The main plot of the book is dealing with the abusive husband situation, although there are plenty of subplots. I was surpsied to learn that the book is not part of a series, since that's certainly how it reads (per the InterWebs, it's apparently a super-popular self-published e-book that was later made into a dead-tree version). There's nothing that happens in the last 20 pages that you don't predict in the first 10, but it's a good ride. Ace and her friends are funny, and the misadventures are wacky without being over-the-top. Then, of course, the good and bad guys get what they deserve and everyone lives happily ever after.

Does it pass the Bechdel test: Yes. Ace and her friends spend A LOT of time talking about men, but they do also discuss other things - fat, work, money, and Ace's chiweenie, Buster Loo.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Books: Defending Jacob

I'm trying something new here ... I hope it sticks, so bear with me.

Defending Jacob
William Landay
Hardcover, 421 pages

I picked up this book on the recommendation of my mother. She described it as a good story with a twist, similar to Gone Girl.

I found it to be more of a legal thriller, as it's told from the point of view of Jacob's father - a lawyer. No spoilers here: Jacob is accused of a crime, and he needs defense. In the beginning of the story the narrator believes nothing but his son's innocence, though some evidence that causes doubt appears throughout the course of the book. Lots of the plot focuses on nature vs nurture -- genetics, daycare, parenting style, what parents don't know about their teens. As a new mom, I admit it freaked me out a bit to think about still more things that can go wrong with my child. Some of the plot points I found a bit unbelieveable.

As for the twist: I won't spoil it. I did think I had it figured out about halfway through the book (and it was kind of obvious that there would be some sort of twist), but I was pleasantly surprised to be wrong. (On the right track, but wrong.)

Does this book pass the Bechdel test: Yes. The narrator's wife and a court-appointed psychologist have a conversation that's not about men. Lots of it is about the son, but that's to be expected. Not a lot of named female characters in the book, but it's a pretty small cast and a male narrator.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Frugal Fran

It's not an exaggeration to say we're not rich people. And now that there are three of us, money is not going to get looser (Side note: do people say that? Or do they just say that money is tight?). So here's a list of things we do to save money, along with helpful links where appropriate.
  • Make our own laundry detergent. We're powdered detergent people, so it's actually remarkably easy. We've been doing this for a few months now, and I don't notice our clothes being more or less dirty. The are without scent, which I think is a good thing. And since we have borax handy, I use that to pre-treat special stains. 
  • Line-dry our clothes. Although there was an initial investment ($60ish) to put up the clothesline, I'm convinced this will be a money-saver in the long run. Caveats: We don't line dry our towels or jeans (because they get too stiff), and as we live in Minnesota this is strictly weather-permitting. 
  • Make our own baby wipes. We priced these out at about 1 cent apiece, which is about half the price of store-bought wipes. It's not a huge saving per wipe, but as we will go through many wipes over the years it will add up. And these are made with things we always have around the house. 
  • Ride a scooter. Nick was lucky enough to be gifted a motorized scooter (like a Vespa) from my parents. It gets about 75 mpg, and it's handy for going on short trips (like his work) on nice days. 
  • Eating at home. Enough said. We've always done this, and it's a good idea for many reasons. Last night I made a pizza. Usually when we eat out we go for something cheap, use a coupon or do a mystery shop. 
  • Stay out of the store. No temptation. 
  • Coupons. 
I'm sure there are more ... I will share as I think of them. Next I will share areas where we splurge. 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

One Month


You turned one month old yesterday. To celebrate, you slept for six straight hours overnight. It was amazing! I don't know if you enjoyed it, but I sure did. You're such a good sleeper - even on nights you do wake up, you tend to eat and then fall right back asleep. I am a spoiled mommy.

You've already changed so much this month. Today is the last day you'll wear newborn size diapers. You've gained a pound since you were born - including 10 ounces in one week! Your eyelashes and hair are getting thicker (though you're still a ginger baby). You can track movement with your eyes, and you're obviously focusing more. I think you even recognize me and Daddy! You still like to be held as much as possible (you're snuggling with Daddy right now), but you continue to love your vibrating seat (which is home of the six-hour nights). We've started reading you stories - though I sometimes just read out loud from a magazine. You HATE taking baths, having your diaper changed or being naked in general.

I did have one incident of mommy paranoia. You have a lump on your head that appeared a few weeks ago. We took you to see Dr. Lee, who recommended an ultrasound to rule out something serious. You slept right through the ultrasound (they gave you a heated blanket). Fortunately, it turned out to be nothing - just a benign cyst. It may go down with time, and I think it will be completely covered when your hair gets thicker.

And, sadly, if someone ever asks if you've been dropped on your head, you can say yes. In my worst mom moment, I fell asleep while holding you against my chest, and you fell off the bed onto the wooden floor. I immediately freaked out, but fortunately you were and are fine. And now I am very careful about holding you when I am tired.

Basically, Hailey, you're still a perfect little girl. You have perfect people skills. You are amazingly easy to care for. And you're beautiful and smart. I love you.


Monday, May 21, 2012

On the Street Where You Live


You were due yesterday. But apparently you've decided to wait a few more days to arrive (please just a few more days). So in the meantime, I'm thinking about what will happen when you are born. And really, I don't know. And there are plenty of other things I don't know, as well as plenty of things your daddy doesn't know. So, here's a list of things you won't be learning from your parents, which you'll have to learn on the streets - or go through life not knowing, which is fine too (trust me). 
  • Pretty much everything about sports - how to play them, things fans say, pretty much anything beyond the basic concept. 
  • How to eat without making a mess (seriously, I don't know why we consistently fail at this). 
  • Spontaneity (we have our moments, but basically we are planners). 
  • Hipster music - we are largely stuck in the musical past (where it is awesome). 
  • Advanced fashion sense (but, please, if you emulate one of us make it me instead of your father and his affection for Canadian tuxedos). 
  • Exactly what night people do (it's fine if you are one, but beware we like to be up and eating cereal by about 7:00). 
And there's probably more, but this is what comes to mind most quickly. And if you never learn these things, I assure you, you'll be fine. There are plenty of other things you can learn at home, and we'll do our best to make sure you learn them all and enter the world fully equipped for whatever is thrown at you. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

April 2012 - Month -1

To my baby:

It's one month before your/my/our due date. Your room is stocked with baby toys, baby clothes and all manner of baby stuff. Earlier this week, your daddy painted a caterpillar on your wall. We feel prepared - we still need a car seat, but we've done the classes and gotten the stuff, and we're prepared. We may never be ready.

It's getting awkward for me to move around and do everyday things, and I have to pee an obscene number of times per day, but fortunately I've had a pretty easy pregnancy. Right now I'm not really letting myself think about delivery ... I more or less have a birth plan, but mostly I'm willing to go with the flow. Your flow.

We haven't decided your name yet. We've talked about it, and there are definite favorites, but we'll wait to see you before we make the final decision. In fact, we don't know a lot about you. And besides our voices and the fact that I have an incredible sweet tooth, you don't know about us. But we'll be a family in one month. Starting from day one, we'll be your parents. And some days we'll be great at it, and some days we'll probably suck at it. But we'll try. Every day. And we'll love you. Every day. And we'll probably never be able to give you everything you want, but we'll give you everything we can. Every day. And we'll remember that, and with any luck you'll remember that, and we'll be a close, loving family. Every day.

Love you,

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Why Are People Poor?

I'm filling out a job application this weekend. One of the essay-style questions is "Why Are People Poor?" (The job is providing pre-employment counseling ... I'm barely qualified, but I apply nonetheless.)

And it's a hard question. Answers that obviously disqualify me: laziness, they waste money, addictions, etc.

But there's also: past mistakes, sick kids, disabilities, low skill level, lack of access to jobs, lack of knowing how to keep a job, etc.

But really it's more complicated than that. Sometimes it's a combination of factors. Sometimes it is a past mistake that has lingering consequences or need for money.

And I don't know how to answer the question. I want the job. I don't want to disqualify myself with the essay (which has to be hand-written). Thoughts?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

In the Kitchen: Popovers

So tasty ... light, airy, ready for seasonings or of course honey butter. And surprisingly simple to make.

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups milk (whole)
4 eggs
1/4 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. butter.

Combine all ingredients until only a few lumps remain (seriously - no need to overmix). Pour into 12 well-greased muffin or popover tins. Bake at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes until browned (no peeking). Serve hot.