Saturday, June 25, 2011

Two Month Update - 6.25.2011

Another month. Flown by. To the wayside. Wahhhhhhhh. Actually, I won't say out loud that I'm glad for the developmental progression and all of the new tricks that my non-newborn baby is starting to show off. Ok, I will say it out loud.

Month Two has been a huge month and I'm guessing that each month will be more jam-packed as the time goes on. My darling two-year old niece is proof of that--every day something new. This month was also filled with a little less tears (though still some) and a lot more laughs and smiles--from both mama and babe. So, in the same fashion as last month's update, all of the things that I want to remember but am afraid that I'll forget--like all the things that I've already forgotten. If nothing else, I'm reminded all too frequently how quickly time passes and how once that time is gone, it's gone. It seriously breaks my heart...but...

For the most part we've settled into a nice daily routine. Get up in the morning, go for a walk, I grab a shower and every other day Elle gets a bath. She seems to really enjoy her baths and is usually calm as a cucumber. I'll be glad, though, when she can sit up and I don't have to figure out how to rinse her off when we're finished (usually hold her like a turkey under the sink faucet!). The rest of the day just depends on the day. Hopefully two naps (will get to that in a bit), play on the playmat, read some books, and maybe go on an excursion to the store so I can get out of the house.

At around five weeks Elle started cooing here and there and giving off random smiles. The smiles were only rewarded after a lot of work on my part, but now they're easier to come by. She now talks quite a bit and loves when I talk back to her (usually cooing as well). This week she's started laughing a little bit but it's still pretty random. I've only been able to partially capture a smile once--below in the last collage. The second picture is of her cooing, which I've tried to get on video but she's a stubborn one.

When I change Elle's diaper she gives me the funniest little "what the heck are you doing" face (kind of like the bath picture but more intense). She scrunches up her eyebrows and purses her lips. I give her back the same look and then she breaks into a smile. It's become a bit of a game between us now. She's quite the flirt!

I try to do a bit of tummy time every day on her playmat. She usually lasts only a few minutes (probably not even that long), but she's gotten to the part where she loves looking at the music playing light on the mat. Today she kept shaking her head back and forth on the mat and I realized that one of the dangling items was blocking her view of the light. As soon as I moved her she started smiling and laughing. Smart little chickpea.

She isn't grabbing at things yet and will only hold onto things briefly if I put them in her hand but sometimes when she's napping she'll pull her own hair.

Last weekend (just shy of 8 weeks), we moved Elle out of our bedroom and into her own crib. She had been taking all of her naps and sleeping over night in her swing (see collage below) and I was afraid she'd continue to be more addicted to the swing (even though it didn't need to be on for her to fall asleep). And I needed her out of the bedroom. So, we prepared to be up all night with her screaming (as experienced when I've tried to get her to nap in crib), but she only woke every three hours. The next night she slept for six! Most nights she does sleep for a five to six hours stretch--sometimes close to seven! She fights and fights before we put her down to bed, though!

Naps in her crib are still tough (hence my lack of blogging this week). She'll fall asleep but gas usually wakes her up after 30-45 minutes and she can't seem to fall back asleep even though she has the ability to at night. As I type this she's fast asleep in the swing. Don't tell Scott...  ;)

I'm still exclusively nursing and it seems to be going great. She's definitely got a bit of chunk to pinch on her little legs! I've been trying to pump when I can to start a stock in the freezer as I'd like to go for six months and fear my supply won't be enough once I go back to work and begin pumping throughout the day.

She still has all her hair! It's a bit broken in the back but no bald spot. Her roots are starting to come in blondish and I can tell it's thinned out a bit, but goodness that girl has a lot of hair! Her eyebrows have shaped up nicely and her eyelashes are so long. Her eyes will definitely stay blue as Scott and I are both blue, but how light I'm not sure. Right now they're simply gorgeous.

Elle has discovered her tongue and clicks it against the top of her mouth and sticks it out a lot. When she was born the doctor noted she was tongue-tied, but that doesn't seem to be a problem anymore! She's also discovered her hands and frequently tries to suck on her fist. I think she prefers this to her pacifier but I'm not sure I prefer it! You can take away the paci but not the fingers...

What else? She loves being outdoors and even likes the wind. She still is fairly fussy in the evenings, but I think this is partly because she gets bored so easily. She's pretty good when we take her out of the house and when other family members are holding her. She definitely gets her fair share of loud with my family and she does great getting passed around to friends and family.

Her stomach has settled down a bit but I've figured out no ice cream, chocolate, or spaghetti sauce. Still not sure on the spicy--sometimes it seems fine but sometimes not. I don't think she has reflux--she rarely spits up and has only thrown up on me once.

She's just beautiful--I wish I could capture her true beauty on the camera. But what I find so interesting is how different she looks at different times. The pictures below kind of capture that. Is that how we all are?

Whew, think that's about it. We go to the doctor on Monday so I'll add in her weight/height stats then.

So now the pictures...

And monthly photo idea borrowed from my cousin Elise who found it somewhere on the internet.

Off to snuggle with that baby before this day runs out, too.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I've Got My Hands Full

Surprising how a 9 pound butterball can keep you so busy. Doing what, people ask me. I have no idea.

I confess that many of my recent posts (minus this one) have been pre-written and then scheduled to post. Without the opportunity to make it to the computer over the past week, it's been difficult to draft up posts or respond to last week's comments. So far my review of The Help is just...Title: The Help. ;)

We've moved Elle out of our bedroom and into her own room. So far this has been going well during the nighttime (other than a few little hiccups here and there), but it hasn't been boding well for naptime during the day. This makes for a tired and fussy baby but a downright exhausted mama.

So, I'm giving myself a break from blogging--which means that all 300+ posts in my Google Reader will have to get marked as read without any attempts on my part to comment. Hate that but... Hopefully we'll find our rhythm over the next few days and I'll be back next week. Though, only three more weeks of maternity leave and then I fear this blog will start collecting some major cobwebs!

Off to...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Elle's Baby Quilt FINISHED!

Yesterday I lovingly stitched the finally stitches of Elle's baby quilt. I have to admit I'm a little sad that this project is over but hope that Elle find lots of love in her blanket one day.

The log cabin and square-within-a-square quilt design is totally inspired by a quilt Rita from Red Pepper Quilts created--in fact I even used her pattern (lol--and color scheme). I fell in love with this quilt months and months ago and knew I had to sew it as soon as I found out I was expecting a girl. I don't typically sew from patterns, but halfway through my pregnancy I decided to let someone else do the math for me. Well worth it. If you have a love for quilting, please check out Rita's blog. Her work is simply gorgeous. And what more fun than my sister also making this quilt with me?

This is my second machine-quilted quilt (see here for disappearing nine-patch) and I still have so much to learn about the craft. While my piecing is spot-on, the quilting part needs a bit of work. The nine patch I sewed in straight lines so this time I wrangled the quilt around the machine to sew squares around the boxes. I had lots of problem with tension and the maroon thread popping up onto the top of the quilt; add in a fussy newborn baby and it was the recipe for lots of frustration. I finally managed to finish and just keep telling myself that this quilt is absolutely made with love. The imperfections will most likely only be noticed by me.

So, from start to finish...

17 different pinks for the top and two more for the backing and binding. Didn't pay attention to the designers of the fabric--all picked up at my local quilt shop, Quilt Asylum. The final dimensions are 60x60--perfect for a playmat or a picnic or a fort or whatever her heart desires.

Now...on to Scott's quilt! All the squares are cut, just need to piece them together. I'm going to try to work up the courage to free motion quilt his. [holding breath in fear].

Lots of Love,

See more craftiness at the Sew Darn Crafty Party!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Eyes are the Window...

Seven weeks.

I could just squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeze her. 

[Or just nibble those cheeks]

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Painted Veil - W. Somerset Maugham

Title: The Painted Veil
Author: W. Somerset Maugham
Published: 1925; Pages: 246
Genre: Literary Fiction/Classic
Rating: 4/5

The Painted Veil in Short: A foreign country and a forbidden affair; Self-discovery and search for forgiveness and redemption. Old beginnings and new starts. Again, why do I bother... ;) Would you care if I just didn't do a summary at all?

Why I Read this book: The Painted Veil is one of those that I kept hearing about and was vaguely aware of the movie with Naomi Watts and Edward Norton. In usual Trish fashion, I had no idea what the book was about when I started reading it--I bought it a few years ago secondhand and decided to read it before I had Elle because it was short. And so many bloggers list it as one of their favorites or one they would highly recommend.

Thoughts in General:
It had been a while since I'd read anything that could be considered a classic and so it took me a little while to get into the writing style. The writing reminded me of some of F. Scott Fitzgerald's works and once I found my rhythm I quickly fell in love with Maugham's style (see below). It always seemed as though Maugham was speaking of a greater truth--focusing on human nature as a whole; read this book made me yearn for more classical works where I can just drink in the language and be fully sated.

The Painted Veil is a very introspective work and in many ways I felt I was intruding upon the main character, Kitty, and her most personal thoughts. Throughout the novel she struggles with her love affair to a married man and her failing relationship with her own husband and it was almost painful to watch the paths she took that eventually forced her to take a look at her own life. I was often annoyed by her foolishness and was even more bothered by the actions of her lover Charlie and husband Walter, but I think there is something to be said about books that leave you feeling a little uncomfortable. Because what is comfortable about an affair, lies, deceit, not knowing oneself, uncertainty and insecurity.

Bottom Line: My mom asked me shortly after I finished this one if I would recommend it to her friend. I hesitated because the book isn't terribly action-packed and in all honesty it's pretty depressing. Because most of the novel follows Kitty and her internal struggles, it takes a bit of patience to work through the novel, but Maugham's writing struck a very strong chord with me. The Painted Veil is haunting and beautiful and tragic. If you're looking for a quieter novel with strong character development and a focus on writing, I would highly recommend this book. It really is literary fiction at its finest.

A Taste of the Writing:

"She was silent. Vaguely, as when you are studying a foreign language and read a page which at first you can make nothing of, till a word or a sentence gives you a clue; and on a sudden a suspicion, as it were, of the sense flashes across your troubled wits, vaguely she gained an inkling into the workings of Walter's mind. It was like a dark and ominous landscape seen by a flash of lightning and in a moment hidden again by the night. She shuddered at what she saw" (82).

"It seemed to Kitty that they were all, the human race, like the drops of water in that river and they flowed on, each so close to the other and yet so far apart, a nameless flood, to the sea. When all things lasted so short a time and nothing mattered very much, it seemed pitiful that men, attaching an absurd importance to trivial objects, should make themselves and one another so unhappy" (150).

Have you read this one? What did you think?

Have you seen the movie? Is it worth watching?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sunday Salon 47: Recommendations for Teenage Boy

Gooooood Morning Saloners!! Hope this Sunday finds you all well. Perhaps with a good book? Or do you have something else planned for the day?

I'm guessing it's summertime where you are (unless you're somewhere down south where it's not...). If you have kiddos they're probably out of school and driving you crazy with their boredom. Sound familiar? Huh huh?

Well, meet Nick. Nick is my fifteen year old brother and--as I always tell him--my favorite brother. I've gushed about Nick in the past, but he really is the coolest teenager I know. A little moody at times but I'm so proud to call him my brother.  My mom might argue with me on this, but I think I'm Nick's biggest cheerleader.

Buttttttttttt, Nick is a fifteen-year-old reluctant reader. I always die a little inside when someone tells me they don't like to read. Really I shouldn't take it so personally but I do. I'm guessing you're probably the same. So when someone tells me they don't like to read, I immediately get to work on thinking of books that I can recommend to them that will change their minds and turn them onto the world of books.

This is tough with a teenager who is forced to read for school and therefore doesn't see reading as fun but rather as work. I know, I was there. I even felt that way in grad school--when I was getting my degree in literature. There's nothing worse than reading feeling like a chore. But if I could just open his eyes...

This is where you come in!

1. How do you encourage a reluctant reader to read?

2. What books would you recommend to a reluctant teenage male reader?

And I hate to make that gender distinction so please don't bash me about it, but I think it's fair to say Nick probably wouldn't like the Sarah Dessen books I have on my shelf. In fact, much of the YA I read about on the blogosphere seems to be targeted towards girls. And as a starting point, I've thought that The Hunger Games and Chaos Walking trilogies would be great, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, maybe The Book Thief?? Of course the titles don't need to be YA either--I was a big Grisham fan when I was his age--just something engaging and not frustrating.

So help a big sister out? Mom definitely wants Nick reading this summer so I'd love to provide some kickass selections and suggestions to get him reading.


On another note, I want to say thank you thank you thank you to everyone who commented on last week's Fourth Bloggiversary post. Your comments made me laugh and they made me cry. I was embarrassed by your generous words of kindness and sometimes even a big baffled. Words can't express how much your words meant to me. 

Only a handful of you entered the giveaway, but the winner....

SHELLEY FROM Book Clutter!! She picked Half of a Yellow Sun.

Hope you're all having a lovely Sunday! What's on your agenda for the day?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The History of Love - Nicole Krauss

Title: The History of Love
Author: Nicole Krauss
Published: 2005; Pages: 252
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5

An aging recluse rethinking his life, a young girl easing her mother's heartache, and a forgotten author whose book brings them all together. The History of Love is a poignant story of discovery, love, redemption, and the threads that bind us together. [ya, I don't know why I bother telling you anything at all]

Why I Read It: The History of Love is one of those books that I saw a million trillion places on the blogosphere. Of course I never really knew what it was about and since I often found it in the clearance section of Half Price Books I didn't think much about it (you know those books that frequent the clearance section...). But then my friend Laura read it and told me I needed to read it. And then I read Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close and you all told me I needed to read this one. So, I went to Half Price Books and paid non-clearance price (why does that always happen?).

Some [Uncoherent] Thoughts: Can I just bullet point this post? Oh wait, my blog...
  • Three separate narrations/storylines which made the beginning of the book a little confusing. It took me about a 100 pages before I was able to start piecing things together and since I was only reading 10 pages at a time I did have to go back and reread some bits. This was a big source of frustration but I'm blaming it on the 10 pages at a time, not the book (though others mentioned the same).
  • The History of Love is quite complicated with all of the intricate puzzle pieces but once things finally came together...*sigh*
  • Leo Gursky (see aging recluse above) is so sad and tragic it just hurts my heart
  • And Alma? I love her tenacity and cleverness and desire to cure her mother and help her brother Bird
  • Krauss's writing is beautiful and each of the narrations are distinct in tone and voice. She perfectly portrays Gursky and Alma and the third "matter of fact" narration. I felt I really knew the characters and sympathized with the various emotions they were experiencing.
  • This book is very reminiscent of Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. The authors are married and it makes me wonder how much they influenced each other in the writing of these books. I've heard that they can be somewhat companion books, which I'm not sure I agree with, but they did feel eerily similar.
  • Any book that can make me cry automatically goes into the "favorites" pile. I was nearing the end of the book and Elle was upset and wouldn't go down for a nap. I decided to read the end of the book out loud to her. In many ways this was a wretched mistake because hearing the truths spoken aloud seriously broke my heart. I cried and cried. And while Elle finally slept I finished reading the remainder of the book (out loud) while still crying. And then I closed the book and just cried some more.
  • I was tempted to start the book over again from the beginning, but I'm leaving it for another day down the road. Instead I just hugged the book. A lot.
Bottom Line: Care says it best in her pre-review, so I urge you to go read her gushings. But bottom line is this is a beautiful and moving book that I think you should all go read right now. Well, if you haven't read Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, read that first, then read this, and then we'll all meet for coffee and collectively gush over both books. Just like with EL&IC, this isn't a book for everyone--it can be a bit confusing and even at times plodding--but in the end I found it to be well worth the small amount of frustration I experienced.

So tell me, where do I go from here?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

NewBees Quilting Bee Blocks 1 and 2

Soooooo, a few months ago my cousin contacted me and my sister Brooke to see if we would be interested in participating in a virtual quilting bee. Um, YES!! (At 9 months pregnant I think I was a bit crazy...).

What is a virtual quilting bee, you ask? Well, with 12 members, each month we are responsible for creating a block for one of the members. Said member cuts the fabric of their choice, writes up instructions, and sends the fabric to the other participants. Then we sew like crazy to create a block and then mail it back.

The group I joined is called the NewBees since we are all relatively new to quilting and quilting bees. Feel free to check out the blocks that have been created so far on the Flickr Group!

Block One: Dutchman's Puzzle

For the first block (April) we were instructed to create a Dutchman's Puzzle (or something inspired by).  Below is the fabric provided and I didn't have enough for what I wanted to do, so I supplemented the block with the blue and orange spotted fabrics in the square below. (All images can be enlarged by clicking)

To create the Dutchman's Puzzle with the pinwheel within the pinwheel, I used a tutorial from Trading Pieces.   I hadn't planned for the other orange pinwheel in the center, but I really like how the block ended up turning out.

Block Two: Wonky Stars

The second block (May) called for wonky stars using Anna Maria Horner's Good Folks fabric line. I can't say that I was crazy about the fabric swatches I was provided (except the top and bottom, which I wish I had more of), but in the end I think the blocks turned out OK. The bottom one didn't turn out how I thought it would but for some reason I had a tough time with the wonky stars. Don't think the tutorial we were provided (from The Silly Boodilly) was the best...or I'm just...something. ;)


I'm thisclose to finishing Elle's baby quilt. In fact, I hope to finish it this week and post about it next week. Just working on the hand binding. And I'm slowly chipping away at Scott's quilt. I have most of the squares cut, just need to cut the sashing and then sew that puppy together. Maybe by Christmas. ;)

So...this is what I work on many afternoons while Elle naps. Honestly I find the tedium very relaxing!

What creative projects have you been working on lately?

Find more crafty ideas at the Sew Darn Crafty Link Party

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sunday Salon 46: Fourth Bloggiversary

Nah nah nah nah nah nah, they say it's your bloggiversary! Nah nah nah nah nah nah, it's my bloggiversary too, ya!

Has it really been four years? That just doesn't seem right, but sure enough my first post was on June 5th, 2007. Ok, pretty sure I just counted the years on my hand about ten times just to be certain. Seems like less than four years. But in a way I can't remember the time before blogging.

I feel like you've all heard me talk about my blogging journey a million trillion times, but to catch up the new guys I started blogging at Trish's Reading Nook four years ago and last year I decided to make life easier and consolidate my personal blogging with my book blogging. You can read more at the post I wrote during last year's BBAW. So even though Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity is just over a year old, I'm counting back to the day when it all started. [See my first Sunday Salon: Introducing Trish for more ramblings on how I stumbled upon blogging].

Guys, the past four years have been amazing. I've written about 200 book reviews. I've shared with you the crazy trips I've taken with my husband and family. I've introduced you to my beautiful daughter. I've participated in six 24-hour readathons and done crazy things like a cheerleading vlog. I hosted a few years of The Classics Challenge and the Non-Fiction Five Challenge as well as a few rounds of the 100 Mile Fitness Challenge. Remember the cake decorating? And quilting and funsies posts like how I wish my life were a musical. And of course my favorites...the Sunday Salon posts where you've been so great to humor me with fantastic comments week after week. Really when it comes down to it I've shared a big fat sliver of my life with you all.

And oh how you've been good to me! Even though I sometimes feel like I'm cheating you all by posting more non-bookish things lately than bookish things, I'm secretly (or not so secretly) glad to have you all as my audience. It just wouldn't be as fun if I were talking to myself (though I probably still would). I can't thank you enough for the support and encouragement you've provided me over the past four years. I've been blogging with many many of you for that long or almost that long and I want to give you a big fat virtual hug (or real hug) for sticking with me. Sometimes I'm not sure why--I can be a bit moody and whiny--but I'm grateful. ;)  I know I haven't been around as much lately on your blogs (I still laugh about being shortlisted for Best Commenter for BBAW a few years ago), and I don't always respond to comments here in a timely fashion, but oh my gosh do I appreciate you all. much.

To celebrate today's Fourth Bloggiversary, I'd like to offer a small giveaway. I'd love to giveaway a book (new) that I've reviewed over the past four years. Most of the reviews are listed in the Review by Title directory but there's also the handful that I've reviewed in the past several months that haven't been updated so if you remember something that's not listed...  To be entered you just need to tell me which book. Oh and an email address if I don't already have.  Not requiring you to subscribe/follow or tweet or blah blah blah but I would honestly love it if you did... #pleaseandthankyou

Now your gift to me? What!?! you say...   Yes, silly gooses, you didn't think you'd get off without a Sunday Salon question did you??  YOUR gift to ME:

1. If you've never commented here before, tell me hi. If you don't know what to say, tell me your favorite ice cream flavor. I'm really friendly, I promise...

2. Remember how you stumbled upon my blog or me? I'd love to hear how! Or if you don't remember that, is there a memorable post I've written in the past several years?

3. Or if you've commented here before and you don't have any recollection as to how you "met" me or any memorable posts, how about you tell me your dream vacation? #haveseriouscaseofwanderlust

Ok, enough rambling.  Oh, and I'll probably announce the giveaway next Sunday so you have until June 11th to enter.


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