Swimming–well, splashing–around!

Our new pool! Thanks, Meijer!

Today the kids were out in the pool again. I think that we’ve used it at least once every day since we bought it. Maybe with the exception of one day when it rained. It’s been a lot of fun. We’ve been going through a lot of sunblock and swim diapers (for Josie). Today I finally convinced Beth that it is *not* necessary to wear underpants under her swimsuit. I don’t know if that will last. It doesn’t really *matter*, but it’s a little silly to get so many pairs of underwear wet for no reason. Today the girls had a little friend come to play. Her name is Liza, and she lives in our little block of townhouses. She’s Josie’s age, although she’s a lot taller and bigger. She was a bit nervous about the water at first, but after a while she was happily filling cups of water and dumping them out with Josie. I had to rein Beth in a bit so that she didn’t splash the little ones. But overall I think it went well. I really need to find a little girl Beth’s age who likes “playing princesses” all the time, though. Before I go crazy and burn all the princess books/DVDs just so that I don’t have to act out/recite the stories one more time.

Finally got the “quiet time room” cleaned and vacuumed today so that I could set up the new air mattress and make sure it works. I think we’re going to try sleeping on it tonight to see how well it holds air. I want to make sure it’s in perfect condition before my parents arrive for a visit in less than two weeks, otherwise they’ll bring theirs. It looks nice, and it’s a double-high one so it sits much higher than usual air mattresses. I hope it works!

I’ve been fantasizing about swingsets. I’ve been planning to look into a swingset for the girls when we get back to New England. Where to get the swingset and how nice it should be are the main considerations. You can get a lot of good deals on swingsets through craigslist. You can also get swingset parts, so you can add different kinds of swings, slides, or climbing pieces to a swingset if it’s compatible. I like the rope nets, we had a rope ladder on our treehouse when we were kids and we spent *hours* just climbing up and down, racing, etc. I guess the fact that we don’t know whether we’ll be there for 9 months, or for years, makes it hard to plan. I don’t know whether it’s worth waiting until the following spring, when we should have an idea of whether we’re there for two more years or not, or whether it’s better just to get something sooner. Might depend on what kind of deals are available. But I figure probably a lot of people will be getting rid of their swingsets in the fall, figuring that the kids didn’t use it this year so they might as well get rid of it.

I’ve also been eyeing Ebay for a “Miracle Blanket.” I’m trying to find one used, as it doesn’t really matter to me and the used ones go for a lot cheaper. I’ve had success with Kiddopotamus Swaddlemes, and I do already have one of those, but I’ve heard such good things about the Miracle Blanket that I wanted to try it. I always considered it to be out of my price range, but used ones do go for a lot cheaper. So it might make it worth it.

I finished reading “The Wide Awake Princess,” which I think is definitely the best book from E.D. Baker to date. It’s much more mature than her Frog Princess books, and by mature I don’t mean “intended for older children” but rather that there’s more depth and interest to it. Quite a fun read. I loved the books I read by Jessica Day George, and I’m eager to start the dragon series, except that I accidentally got books 2 and 3, so I need to get book 1 to read them in order.


New words, new pool, same old blog

I haven’t been very good at updating recently.  For a while there I was updating every evening, as sort of part of my evening ritual–put kids to bed, update blog, do whatever else for the evening.  I’m not sure when exactly that fell off, but part of it was feeling that I was just sort of saying what was going on without any sort of interesting commentary or funny quotes.

So, I don’t really have anything in particular to write about, but I’m updating anyway, because people won’t read if there’s nothing to read, right?

Seth likes to pretend to “eat” the girls.  He’ll say that their noses are carrots and that he’s going to eat them, or that their ears are broccoli, etc.  So you’ll frequently hear Beth exclaiming, “I’m not vegetables!”  Today, she added the line, “I’m a people!”  Nice to know she’s picking up complicated concepts like “people” even if not quite the grammatically correct way to use such words.

Josie is learning new words by the minute, it seems!  I love this stage.  It takes so long for their first word, and months more (at least for my girls) to get a few words beyond that… and then they hit the language explosion.  Not only is she learning to say a lot of new words (and she loves to find excuses to say them, like when she noticed that her shampoo/conditioner are apple-scented with little pictures of apples on them so now she spends her bath exclaiming “apple!  apple!” while pointing from one to the other), but it’s amazing what she understands.  Pretty cool stuff.

I got the kids a baby pool.  Not one of the kind that you blow up, one of the solid plastic thing little pools.  It’s the perfect size for the two of them and maybe a friend, especially as they spend more time jumping in and out than actually sitting in it.  So far I can’t figure out how to work the outside water spigot (possibly needs a hose, which I don’t have), so I’ve been filling buckets in the sink.  I have a nice big bucket, though, so it takes about 5 trips to get the pool nicely full.  Not as tedious as it sounds.  I got them each a swim toy (a little fairy mermaid doll that comes with a winged seahorse).  Usually Beth ends up with the dolls and Josie with the seahorses.  But Josie mostly likes pouring water from cup to pitcher, anyway, or sometimes putting the seahorses in a cup, so it doesn’t really matter as long as Beth lets her use her doll when she wants to.  Aside from a few horrible incidents of sunblock in the eyes (hopefully remedied by my, today, buying new and expensive “tear free” sunblock), they’ve been having a fantastic time.  We’ve gone “swimming” (“splashing” might be a better term) every day since we got the pool.

Had another OB visit today.  I’m on the 2-week schedule now, for the next month or two I think.  It was quick, which was nice!  I keep forgetting to ask if there are any more regular ultrasounds or if I’m done with those.  Doesn’t matter, just would be nice to know.  I need to get glucose testing ASAP, but I’m having trouble fitting that in, since I can’t bring the kids.  <sigh>  I was crossing my fingers that my weight wouldn’t have gone up *too* much.  I was at 146 last time, which was pretty average weight gain for 26 weeks (17 pounds), but since in both previous pregnancies my weight gain stayed just below the “average” range until the last few weeks, then I gained a lot, I’m trying not to gain too much too soon in case I have that final month increase again.  Lucked out, I hadn’t gained any weight this time, which puts me about on target for where I want to be.  Need to slow down on the Nestle Drumsticks, but those things are awesome!  🙂  One slightly weird thing, when the doctor came in, he took one look at me and asked my height.  I told him, but I was a bit curious whether he thought I was tall (he was much taller, and without anybody to compare me to I’m surprised he noticed) or why he asked.  It wasn’t in reference to my weight gain, as far as I know, unless he’d glanced at my chart right before walking in the door.  The girls behaved fairly well this time.  Josie didn’t throw any fits thinking that she was gonna get shots.  Of course, I do need to take her for shots, so next time might be a pain.

And that’s about all!  No deep musings this time!

Sick and whiny

So, I’ve been sick for the past few days. Nothing serious, just a cold, but it’s so annoying. Really hard to, you know, actually want to do anything. Girls have been watching Sesame Street *and* Dora the past two days (usually they just watch one show a day at most). On the plus side, I’ve discovered that they both really like Dora. Since Beth is mostly ready to move on from Sesame Street, this could be a nice alternative. Although, while Dora is supposedly educational, it doesn’t really teach the things I’m most interested in.

Beth has been doing pretty good with letters. She’s become very interested in the letter “H” lately. Draws it with sidewalk chalk, makes it with her legs and an arm, etc. She likes to draw it “on TV” by making a box with legs as the TV, then drawing an “H” on the screen. It’s cute. She’s working on “A” as well, which she has a bit more trouble with because of the angle… she tends to make it too wide and then get stuck. She recognizes it easily, just has trouble writing it. She tries to write “E” but often does too many cross-lines so that it turns into a colored box.

Josie has been learning to say a lot of new words, to the point where I think I’d have trouble counting the words she says. She recognizes far more than she says, of course. Her latest favorite word is “apple,” which basically means “round fruit.” She points to nectarines and oranges and says “app-oo.” She sure loves talking about them, though.

Josie is also making some physical leaps–literally. She has started two-foot jumping. As in, actually getting a few inches into the air. Impressive. I think it took Beth a bit longer, she “jumped” by bending and straightening her knees but didn’t actually get into the air. Josie is also getting good at climbing. At the park today she headed halfway up a ladder. That was a bit of an “eep!” Fortunately, she can’t get higher than she can safely get down/fall down. So far.

Beth has been getting up, getting herself dressed, and then reading on her bed until Josie gets loud enough to wake me up. This is nice, for the most part. I get to sleep in a bit later. However, there was at least one morning in which I found a trail of Hershey Kiss wrappers…

Josie is starting to really want to help with chores, which is cool. Beth is *so* over that stage. When I open the dishwasher, Josie comes running, and I don’t even have to tell her what to do. She knows to get the kid spoons/forks first, then I hand her the plastic cups/bowls. I make sure that as soon as I open the dishwasher I grab the sharp knives and as many pieces of regular silverware as I can, starting with butter knives and forks, before she gets there. She also loves to help put clothes from the washer into the dryer, put in the dryer sheet, and then close the dryer. I think that’s her favorite. Of course, you have to watch her! If you’re trying to take clothes *out* of the dryer, she’ll try to put them back in. And if you’re trying to load the dishwasher, she might start to unload it while you’re at it. But it’s a great start.

Yeah. So, not a lot of humor. I’m not particularly funny when I’m sick. But I’m starting to feel a bit better, so maybe next time. Also, tomorrow I’m taking Beth to a children’s play of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella, which I think she’ll love, so that will give me something to write about.

Book recommendation: Enchanted, Inc.

Well, I finished reading “Enchanted, Inc.” And almost immediately started its sequel, so that tells you something!

That was an awesome book! I’ll admit that I’m not generally a fan of fantasy mixed with modern life, like the Chromeborn series by Mercedes Lackey. I generally prefer my fantasy novels to take place in nice little vaguely historical fantasy worlds, a la Narnia, Bayern, Valdemar, Middleearth, Xanth, or generic “once upon a time” fairytale land. At the very least I prefer them to be historic. Harry Potter, to date, has been one of very few exceptions in which I like a fantasy world that is part of our real modern one. But Enchanted, Inc. has just shot to the top of the list.

I like the main character, Katie. She has enough down-to-earth sense that, even though she’s living in New York, she’s not one of those high-living-but-inaccessible types, like in the Shopaholic series, Bridget Jones, etc. form of chick lit. She does have female friends, which I sort of envy, as for some reason I tend to make friends with guys more easily than girls. The two closest female friends I have live in other states, so there’s not a lot of girly stuff that we do (not that we would even if we lived nearer!). So, yeah, I found the main character easy to relate to.

And the novel is intriguing, plot-wise. It made it hard to put down.

Not to mention, the writer (Shanna Swendson) does a nice climax, too! I get tired of novels (especially fantasies) that try to overdo their climax to make it world-changing, shocking, dramatic, etc., to the point where it doesn’t fit the book, it’s hard to follow, and it’s just… silly. Robin McKinley does this in a huge way. I *love* her books, right up until the climax, then she loses me in descriptions of awesomely weird magic and really strange stuff. Then there’s no denouement in which things are resolved… in fact, often more questions raised or weirdness happens that changes the entire book, invalidates anything we’ve come to believe, and destroys the characters’ hopes for a happy ending. I’m tempted to just rip off the last few chapters and write my own, sometimes. Can’t possibly be worse.

So, that was a bit of a tangent. But this is a *fervent* recommendation of Enchanted, Inc. There are at least 3 others in the series that I know of, and I have high hopes for them all! Can’t wait to read them.

In other news… thanks to Ellen’s help, I figured out how to deal with the few problem spots I had in my story outline and have a new, tight outline of the entire novel. I’m really looking forward to getting some good writing time in now! So I should probably get crackin’!

Fun contest

All right, so I’ll admit, I *love* being asked to, say, write a story that includes a candlestick, a violin, and somebody who is dreadfully ill with an unpronounceable disease. Somehow having boundaries makes writing so very interesting.

So I was really excited when a recent post on a blog I read mentioned this contest: http://stiryourtea.blogspot.com/2010/05/contest-that-imploded-your-brains.html

You don’t *have* to use the words listed, but it’s rather fun to try. I’m always looking for new, interesting blogs to read, so it’s always exciting to find a new one.

Check it out! And if you enter, let me know, I want to read your entry. 🙂

It’s done!

Okay, so my novel isn’t written. In fact, I didn’t write a word on it today. But, I ironed out a ton of the plot problems and came up with a complete, detailed plot summary through the end of the story. Up to and including the denouement. Lots of detail, all plot problems solved, and very little left undefined. Awesome! I don’t think I’ve ever had quite so tight a plot outline. I wish I could find some ideas or samples of how to organize it, though. Right now it’s just basically a typed list, not numbered, no spaces between, etc. Not sure if that’s a great structure. It’s hard to skim. But they aren’t really organized by most or least important, so I don’t know how else to do it. I suppose I could go through and group stuff into scenes, then label each. Anyway, now that I know where I’m going and I don’t have any “how am I going to work this?” bits hanging over my head, I can’t wait to get writing. But not at the moment, I’m finishing this blog entry and going to bed. I have an OB appointment tomorrow at 9am.

I’m reading a fun book, “Enchanted, Inc.” by Shanna Swendson. I ran into her blog a few weeks ago and have been really enjoying reading it, so I thought I’d give her books a try. I got four of them, so I hope I like them! So far I’m loving this one. It’s well-written, clever, and great fun. I’m not usually a big fan of fantasy elements mixed in with the real world, but at least in this case it works well. I haven’t finished it, so I’ll let you know whether the ending fulfills the promise it shows so far, but I think it will!

Perspective and the Giant Baby

Beth is a big fan of what we call “Cinderella” dolls. They’re little dolls sort of like the modern Polly Pockets, with little rubbery clothes that go on and off, and they come in different princess sets with clothes that match those worn in the movies and sometimes with princes and other peripheral characters included. She plays with these dolls for a great deal of the day.

So, her dolls will often have adventures involving climbing mountains (stacks of pillows, couches, etc.), or falling into the water (blankets, things like that). There is much calling of “help, help!” from the dolls as they battle extreme weather conditions and natural disasters, requiring princess friends or sometimes princes to come to the rescue, at which point they immediately fall back into the water or off the mountain again.

Giant babies also feature frequently in the misadventures the dolls have.

“Help, help, Ariel fell in the water, and a giant baby is trying to get her!”

“Help, help, Aurora is stuck on a mountain and she sees a giant baby!”

Josie, of course, plays the role of the giant baby.

I love what it says about Beth’s comprehension of perspective, though. It means that she’s looking at the world through the dolls’ eyes and getting that, to them, a baby the size of Josie is a “giant baby.” Like King Kong, only less gentle.