Thursday, September 29, 2011

Hallelujah - The Soul Soother

Every so often a song comes along that speaks to my soul. A song that I can listen to whether I'm happy or sad, one that I listen to on repeat.

Hallelujah is that song for me.

I first discovered the Rufus Wainwright version of the song when I saw Shrek many years ago. Shortly after I bought a new car and the previous owner had left her soundtrack to the movie in the CD player. I returned the CD to her but not until I had listened to Hallelujah approximately 50 million times.

[Hallelujah sung by Rufus Wainwright]

Hallelujah has become a song of comfort to me. The song I go to when my heart needs consoling. My personal lullaby. When I was pregnant I read somewhere that when babies are born they recognize songs they have heard over and over while in the womb. It became practice for me to sing Hallelujah quite frequently. It was around this time when I discovered that Jeff Buckley had a version of the song. I adore Jeff Buckley and his rendition is a little more raw than Rufus Wainwright's. It instantly became my favorite.

[Hallelujah sung by Jeff Buckley]

When Elle was born, I started singing Hallelujah to her when she was going through fussy stages. It might be my imagination, but it seemed to soothe her. At night when I was rocking her, or after I had put her in her crib, in the car while we were driving, or during the day when she was inconsolable.

The other day I was listening to Pandora Radio and kd lang's version of Hallelujah started playing. I was immediately enraptured. I tweeted about her gorrrrrrrrrrrrgeous version and @SuziQOregon turned me onto the below video with a warning that I should grab the box of tissues before watching.

I didn't have a chance to listen to kd lang singing Hallelujah until I was in my car driving through Dallas rush hour traffic (don't worry--had plugged into stereo, so no watching). When she started singing about the secret chord--the fourth, the fifth, the minor fall, the major lift--my body became covered in goosebumps. By the time she got to Deliliah drawing the Hallelujah from Samson's lips, I was in tears. The cold and the broken Hallelujah had me sobbing. Heaving Uncontrollable Sobbing.

It is the most beautiful thing I have EVER heard.

A haunting that pierces deep within. I love it so hard it hurts.

[Hallelujah sung by kd lang]

[Hallelujah sung by the original artist Leonard Cohen]

And there are so many more renditions of this beautiful song. I'm not a fan of Leonard Cohen's version, but I appreciate it.

What song speaks to your soul?


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Five Month Update: 9.25.2011

Eeeeeeeee!! I'm trying not to think about the fact that in another month this little Chickpea Banana will be six months old. How did time move this quickly?  To put it in perspective, I've been back and work for as long as I was off on maternity leave. 24 weeks!? Goodness gracious.

This month has been a really fun month. Elle is changing so quickly and it is such a joy to see her grow. Those squishy thighs--it's like she's developing rolls in the middle of the night! I know these posts get to be terribly long, so I'm going to try organizing by category this month. And I don't try to fool myself that most of you just care about the pictures anyway. Because I don't often have the time to stop and my memory often tricks me, my hope is that these capturing all of these details here will be a blessing in the future.

Sleep - As I type this, Elle has been napping for a little over an hour! It was quite the fight for her to go down for her nap, but what an improvement from last month. Long gone is the swing and I've sworn that I will never use the swing with the next baby. So I say now...  I don't know the ins and outs of her days, but I think she typically takes two naps a day and maybe another cat nap. Most weekends we've been able to count on one good nap and another short nap. The trick, I learned from her day care provider, is that she loves sleeping on her tummy.

Wish I could say that night sleeping is going better than it was last month. We've hardly made any improvement--still an average of 5.5 to 6 hours for her first stretch and 3-4 hours for her second stretch. I've been battling with insomnia and know that we need to start sleep training with her soon. In fact, we were supposed to start last night but daddy slept upstairs to take the first leg so mommy could sleep and daddy gave in with a bottle after a little bit of fussing. What a sucker!  She still goes down around 7:30-8 in the evenings and is getting better about going to sleep faster without a ton of intervention. Not every night, but progress...

Eating - Complicating the sleep issue is her eating. Over the past few weeks Elle has decided that she'd rather do most of her eating between six pm and six am rather than the other way around. I stopped nursing about two weeks ago and am no longer pumping at work, so she's completely on formula (minus a little bit of breastmilk surplus in the freezer). She follows this eating pattern during the weekend so I don't think it's a matter of who she's taking the bottle from, and we don't take her out of her crib at night unless she needs her diaper changed, so I don't think it's a cuddling issue. Doctor said that the only way to correct is to sleep train. What I have to keep reminding myself is that the lack of sleep isn't forever and most parents go through this at some point or another.

We did start her on a bit of cereal in the evenings right after she turned four months. She takes it very well and is getting better and better eating from the spoon. The doctor said we could start her on other foods but because of Scott's allergies I'd like to hold off until next month before we start introducing vegetables and fruits. It's a lot of fun to feed her cereal but I can't believe she's big enough to be sitting on her own in the bumbo or highchair!

Routine - I've been thinking about doing a separate post for our daily routine, but in brief Scott wakes her up most mornings and gets her ready for the day and takes her to daycare. I pick her up in the evenings and when we get home I prepare her cereal and she eats. Every other day she gets a bath. She doesn't love her baths like she used to and I can't wait until she can sit up a little better and we can ditch the baby bath tub. She doesn't like lying down in the water so baths are very fast these days. When it's time for bed we put her in her jammies, give her a little bit of milk, and hope for the best. I've started to read her a bedtime story some nights and am pleased that she allows me to get through the whole book. My current favorites are Barnyard Dance (though not at bed), Goodnight Moon, and You Are My I Love You. Any other suggestions?

Development - After reading through Elle's four month update again, I think the biggest change from last month is her attention span and ability to entertain herself. She still loves her playmats and enjoys grabbing onto the hanging toys and putting them in her mouth if she can. Her toes also go in her mouth. And her thumb. Elle no longer likes her pacifiers and I can't decide if this is a good thing or bad thing. She is a thumbsucker but she isn't very good at yet. I think this is a frustration for both of us.

Elle is quite strong and likes being upright. When I'm in the kitchen I put her in her little car walker and she'll just hang out and babble to herself or to me. We've been trying to work on the rolling over but we're still not there yet. She's rolled over a handful of times but I don't think she's quite figured out how she's able to roll over. She's so close but not quite there yet.

Personality - I LOVE watching Elle's personality develop. She is talkative, laughs, screams, giggles, and is sweet. What is striking to me is how observant she is--always watching and taking everything in. Sometimes she seems a bit shy--hopefully she didn't get my shyness.  She is a daddy's girl through and through. The bond between them is absolutely adorable and I love love love watching Scott as a father. He isn't an overly affectionate person, so it melts my heart when I'm in the other room and I hear him whispering words of adoration to Elle. And Elle loves her daddy. He can make her laugh with so much delight and it's a pleasure to watch him be so goofy with her.

Well, that baby has now been napping for almost two hours so I better go get her up! We're off to buy her some 6-9 month sleepers because her other ones are too short for her. When I took her for her four month check up, Elle was in the 42% for weight and 74% for height!!

So, a month in pictures...

If you missed them...

One Month Update * Two Month Update * Three Month Update * Four Month Update

Much love,

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sunday Salon 49: Readathon Rah Rah Sis Boom Bah

So, have you heard the news that Dewey's 24-hour readathon is scheduled for October 22nd? I know I was doing backflips when I saw the sign-ups go up. This will be my first readathon in a year that I won't be pregnant, and Scott and my mom have promised to help with Elle during the day so that I can participate.

What I'm REALLY excited about this go-around is that Erin [from Erin Reads] and I are going to be your Readathon Cheer Captains. WAHOO!!

Sign-ups are now open for you to volunteer to be a cheerleader during the readathon. Most of the information is laid out on the post, but here are ten reasons why it's awesome to be a readathon cheerleader:

1. You'll make a reader smile with your encouragement
2. Cheering makes this event about community
3. Great way to meet a plethora of new-to-you bloggers
4. Cheering gives your eyes a break from the tiny print of your book
5. You'll probably be on Twitter anyway--why not cheer for a bit?
6. You can cheer here and there throughout the readathon
7. Cheerleaders spread the contagious excitement of the day
8. Perfect excuse to work on your rhyming skills
9. Cheerleaders have the most fun--seriously
10. Did I mention all the exclamation points you get to use?!?!!!!

Ask any participant of past readathons and they'll tell you how valued cheerleaders are to the event. But the readers will also tell you that we can always use more cheerleaders. If you're participating overseas, you can help fill the cheerleading void when many of the cheerleaders in these timezones are sleeping. If you're going to be busy the day of the readathon but still want to feel the spirit, take some time out in the evening or early morning to help spread the cheer.

And in my experience? Cheering ends up being the most exciting part of the readathon. The spirit of the day is contagious and so energizing. But we can't do it alone!

Have I convinced you to grab your pompoms and Rah Rah Rah?

I sincerely hope that you'll sign up to cheer, even if just for an hour during the event. And while you're at it, sign up to do a bit of reading as well. Dewey's Readathon is my favorite blogging event--one that I encourage everyone to participate in if you're able.

And...if you have any suggestions for the cheerleaders, I'd love to hear them in the comments below. Erin and I are committed to making the cheering as best we can, but we need your help!

Rah Rah Sis Boom Bah!!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Blogger Embedded Comment Form PSA

Google Blogger has the worst commenting system. Ok, I don't know if it's the worst, but it's frustrating. How I long for the threaded comments of WP or even the ability for people to only receive follow-up comments on the comment they leave. But that's neither here nor there for this post.

This post is a public service annoucement on the Blogger Embedded Comment form--I'm writing this post after seeing so many people say they cannot leave comments on these types of forms and after my poor cousin wrote a post saying that people mentioned they couldn't leave her comments and she didn't know why.

There's a trick to these forms (and why Blogger hasn't fixed the bug is way beyond me).

So, when you try to leave a comment on an embedded comment form (see picture 1 below) and you are not already logged into Google, it will tell you that you do not have access to comment and must re-sign in.

Prompt to logout and change accounts...

The TRICK is to UNCHECK the box that says "Stay Signed In" (see below) otherwise it will take you back to the comment screen as an anonymous user. SO frustrating!! Especially as once you uncheck that box, you will have to re-sign in to all of your Google Accounts.

I hope this helps alleviate MUCH commenting frustration.

Now, I don't want to tell anyone how to format his/her blog, especially when I don't allow anonymous comments which unfortunately means no Name/URL. BUT, this embedded commenting form is a pain in the ass for commenters. It is the Blogger default, which I don't understand, but you can change to either do a pop-up screen or a completely different screen. Again, don't want to tell anyone how to format his/her blog, but I do think there is a big consensus that the embedded form sucks.
Ok, Public Service Annoucement over...


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Almost Wordless Wednesday: iPhone Edition 2

[Mostly Wordless...and many of these are olllllllllld...  A follow-up post to my first iPhone Edition Wordless Wednesday]

2010 Snowstorm - Crepe Myrtle in backyard


Happy twin nephews

Proof blueberry cheesecake ice cream exists

Sister and niece Emma Bear (10 months)

Scotty's 29th?

Maggie and Trish during readathon

Sweet Manna

Not an unusual sight at work

First signs of spring


Baby Elle in Moby at Grocery

What random pictures have you taken with your phone lately?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Winners, Readalongs, and Readathon

I want to thank everyone who visited last week and to those who entered the Puffin Children's Classics giveaway. There were 69 entrants so I drew two names.  These books are so delicious that I think I'll keep them in mind for future giveaways!

The winners are Rebecca from Rebecca Reads (number 9) and Erin from Erin Reads (number 33).

Did y'all see the Dueling Monsters readalong annoucement???  The rockin' Jill and Heather are at it again and this October it'll be Dr. Moreau versus Cthulhu. So, I'm not sure what kind of dueling weapons you'll need to battle these beasts, or whatever that Cthulhu is (sounds like coughing up phlem), but I'm feeling overly ambitious so I'm going to attempt to slay both.  This from the gal who hasn't finished a paper book since...July??

To join Jill and Cthulhu....
To join Heather and Dr. Moreau...

Mark your calendars for October 22nd for Dewey's 24-hour readathon. The event that I look forward to 95% of the year. Sign-ups aren't available yet, but head over to the site if you'd like to volunteer. Edited: Sign up now!!  You bet your patootey that I've signed up for the Cheerleading Committee. My mom and Scott will be helping with Elle that day, but I'm guessing I'll be spending most of my time cheering rather than reading. It's more fun anyway...  More about the readathon later, I'm sure.

What upcoming events are you looking forward to?

Hope you are having a great weekend! You doing anything exciting? I'm off to go buy a highchair for Elle. How is that possible?? Sheesh!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

BBAW - Reader of...Audiobooks!

[Book Blogger Appreciation Week or BBAW is the brainchild of My Friend Amy. This year marks the fourth year of the event and it continues to grow by leaps and bounds. This week is all about showering book bloggers with appreciation--it's a blogging event I always look forward to each year.]

Today's Topic: Book bloggers blog because we love reading. Has book blogging changed the way you read? YES! Have you discovered books you never would have apart from book blogging? YES! How has book blogging affected your book acquisition habits? YES! Have you made new connections with other readers because of book blogging? YES! Choose any one of these topics and share your thoughts today!

I've always talked about how book blogging has influenced my reading, but most recently it has influenced my listening!


Many of you know I had a baby almost five months ago. If not, well, yes, I am a new mommy. New mothers who say they have tons of time to read definitely lead a very different life than I do because I can't seem to find a second during the day (or night). Well, I could, but those seconds are usually spent staring blankly at the TV screen in a half-asleep stupor. Rambling.

Point is, I'm not getting much reading done these days. And while I've had a bit of a struggle with audiobooks the past few years, I realized when I was on maternity leave how much I missed listening to books on my commute to work. I'm not sure how many books I've read/listened to this year, but I have a feeling that the listening has now surpassed the reading!

And can I confess that lately I sometimes prefer listening to the book than reading? And think of books in terms of--"oooh, that would be a great one to listen to!" And recently signed up for Audible thanks to your suggestions and accidentally purchased three books on sale even though it takes me at least a week or two to listen to a moderately long book so now I have a TBL (to be listened) list in addition to a TBR (to be read) list ohmygoshimamess! That reminds me, I need to download Unbroken from my library before my hold is released. Whew!

If you're like me and are interested in audiobooks but have found that they're difficult to listen to, here are some things that have helped me (many thanks to suggestions I've picked up from you!):

* Try listening to books you've already read and enjoyed.
* Choose a book that is more straightforward in plot. Non-fiction works very well for me.
* Young Adult also seems to work well.
* Be patient with listening. If you have to rewind here and there, think about how often you have to re-read a paragraph or sentence. Same thing!
* Check your library to see if you can download audiobooks from their website. Easy Peasy!
* Ask around for suggestions on good audiobooks. Audiobook Jukebox is a great resource!

Do you listen to audiobooks? Do you have any suggestions for the timid listener?

So you guys...Thank you for giving me the push towards audiobooks--my reading is forever enhanced!

Happy Read...erm... Listening!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

BBAW - Community (part the second)

[Book Blogger Appreciation Week or BBAW is the brainchild of My Friend Amy. This year marks the fourth year of the event and it continues to grow by leaps and bounds. This week is all about showering book bloggers with appreciation--it's a blogging event I always look forward to each year.]

Today's topic is all about Finding and Keeping Community

I'll be the first to admit that book blogging and its evergrowing community has become quite overwhelming and intimidating over the past year or two. I'm constantly amazed at the emergence of new bloggers and their ability to gain a massive following seemingly overnight. Once upon a time I felt like my original book blog, Trish's Reading Nook, was a fairly well-known place in the community, but these days I'm more like a little bitty fish in a big giant ocean.

And you know what? I'm OK with that. I'm afraid I can't offer much in the way of becoming the most popular blogger in the blogosphere, and it's hard not to see blogging as a kind of popularity contest. It's easy to get caught up in statistics and follower numbers and I sometimes have to remind myself that these things don't really matter in the larger picture. Some people are naturally better at branding themselves or even marketing themselves. I've never been successful at either.

But, the community of bloggers that I have found since I started blogging is tremendous. They are supportive and caring, many of the blogging relationships have moved beyond that into friendships that would last even if the blogs did not. Seriously, guys, I feel like a broken record sometimes, but I'm honored and blessed to be in such wonderful company!

During Armchair BEA I wrote a post about fostering and nurturing relationships and so I don't want to completely repeat myself here. In short I talked about the importance of commenting, listening to your audience, getting involved in community events, and being yourself. There are many ways of keeping community, but those four points have really worked for me.

On Finding Community...

Finding a community is a little more difficult and I can't imagine being a new blogger these days. And honestly, my suggestions are ones that I'm really bad at these days. Who are we kidding--blogging takes a ton of time! And with a little baby, I'm short on time these days.

But, some ways to find community:

Interact on Twitter. There's always something going on on Twitter and it's a great way to connect with other bloggers.

Comment hop. See who's commenting on your favorite blogs and hop on over to their blogs. I've found some great like-minded bloggers this way.

Take an interest in the blogs you read. Don't just leave comments to leave comments--really listen to others and get to know people through their written word. It's amazing what you can learn about a person through what they write!

And now, maybe YOU can help ME with some advice! We're all busy, but tell me your secrets on how you keep up with the blogs that you love as well as new discoveries. Given my limited time I feel like I do a good job of keeping up (somewhat) with blogs that I've been reading for years, but I really struggle with new visitors and commenters. How to you find the time to give back and get to know new visitors and bloggers? In a way I'm asking you guys for the answer to today's question! But I'm curious on your input on how you manage with the wealth of blogs out there!

If only there was more time to go around, huh?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

BBAW 2011 Giveaway!! Puffin Children's Classics

On the second day of BBAW, my true love gave to me...

You've all seen those gorgeous clothbound Penguin Classics, right? Well, did you know that there are equally lovely Puffin Children's Classics?

I know, I died when I first saw them, too.

The Choices:

Anne of Green Gables - L.M. Montgomery
Peter Pan - J.M. Barrie
Black Beauty - Anna Sewell
The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Adventures of Robin Hood - Richard Green
The Call of the Wild - Jack London

How to Enter:

Leave a comment below and let me know your favorite book as a child or adolescent.

You must have a blog and at least occasionally write about books. ;) Please leave your email address if it isn't easily found on your blog.

Giveaway is international will close at 11:59 pm on September 16th, 2011 (Dallas time). I'll draw one winner (or two depending on interest) TWO winners who will receive his/her choice from those listed above.

Happy Book Blogger Appreciation Week!!

Monday, September 12, 2011

BBAW - Community (part the first)

[Book Blogger Appreciation Week or BBAW is the brainchild of My Friend Amy. This year marks the fourth year of the event and it continues to grow by leaps and bounds. This week is all about showering book bloggers with appreciation--it's a blogging event I always look forward to each year.]

Today's topic is Community: "you are encouraged to highlight a couple of bloggers that have made book blogging a unique experience for you."

After blogging for four years, it's natural to develop relationships with others and I've been doubly lucky to have met some wonderful wonderful people over the years. I've highlighted bloggers over past BBAWs and these all of those people are still so dear to my heart. Today I'd like to recognize three bloggers I haven't mentioned before.

First I'd like to make special mention of the one who introduced me to the world of book blogging. Wendy of Caribousmom is a huge influence in the community. Her blog is adored and highly recognized for the caliber of her reviews, and she has continued to build the community through her work with A Novel Challenge and Weekly Geeks. In the summer of 2007 I joined several Yahoo Book Clubs and noticed that Wendy was linking to her blog each month. The I am!  A very special thank you to Wendy for opening up this world.

Jill from Fizzy Thoughts is one of those bloggers that I always wanted to get to know better but was a bit intimidated by her. It wasn't until the 100 Mile Fitness Challenge that I finally got to know her more and since then it's been one painful readalong after the next. ;) Jill's posts always make me smile and she's a wonderful advocate for the blogging community--constantly bringing cheer.

Unfinished Person has been blogging for quite a while and we both followed one another at our old blogs. During last year's BBAW we reconnected with one another and he's been a strong champion for blogging how you want to blog with little pressure. Like me he doesn't define himself as an exclusive book blogger and his posts provide an entertaining perspective on everything with a big bite of snark.

While I love highlighting those who have touched my own blogging at one time or another, I'm always reminded of how many people there are who I truly admire and how it is hard to give proper mention to everyone. I've written several times how lucky I feel for having such a wonderful and loving following here at Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity. I can't express adequately how much I appreciate the continual comments and emails and support and encouragement.

I can't recognize everyone and I know I'll accidentally leave a name off the list, but I wanted to give a special thank you to the below for your thoughtful comments and your own wonderful blogs. If you're looking to join a great community of book bloggers, below certainly a welcoming bunch.

* Melody's Reading Corner * Amanda's Ramblings * Vivienne of Serendipity * CJ of My Years of Reading Seriously * Musings of a Bookish Kitty * Trisha of eclectic/eccentric * Erin Reads * Joanna of It's All About Me * Kristi Loves Books *JoAnn Lake Side Musing * Lisa of Lit and Life * Sam's Book Blog * Chris of Stuff As Dreams are Made * Lisa of Books.Lists.Life * Paxton of Cavalcade of AwesomeLeeswammes' Blog *BermudaOnion's Weblog * Iliana of bookgirl's nightstand * Jenny Loves to Read * Christina of Reading Thru the Night * Jill of Rhapsody in Books * Care's Online Book Club * Kay of Random Acts of Reading * Jenn of Picky Girl * Ready When You Are, CB * Reviews by Lola * Lu of Regular Rumination * Kim of Sophisticated Dorkiness * Stacy's Books * Kailana of The Written World *

Thank you. Thank you for making this community such a special one to me.

Please please know that as I embark in my new journey of motherhood which has slowed down my blogging considerably that I appreciate you all so much. I'm slow to respond to comments here--a lot of times I'm not able to respond at all. I'm slow to comment on your blogs. And I recognize that I've been bad about visiting newer visitors. If you've known me for a while you realize that this is hard for me as this community is so important to me. Especially as you've continued to welcome me even when I've become less of a book blogger.

From the bottom of my heart--I am so appreciative.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

So Pinteresting

In my early months of maternity leave I could always be found with my cell phone in hand. This was mostly to keep track of feedings and naps etcetera, but it also kept me in a state of connection with the real world. All day long I would scan twitter and facebook. Sometimes even browsing blogs--though I found it difficult to do much commenting or typing on the phone, especially when one handed.

Talk about isolation. Nothing like spending all day alone with a newborn to make you feel utterly unconnected.

Thank goodness for smart phones and friends who were eager to share new time sucks with Pinterest. (Lisa gets full blame credit for this one).

So Pinterest.

Clever little time suck--how I love you.

Admittedly I still haven't really gotten into Pinterest on the computer--perhaps because I rarely make it to the computer these days--but on the iPhone? Love.

What is Pinterest? For those of you who haven't jumped on board yet, Pinterest is basically a virtual bulletin board of...things. Style/fashion, and crafts, and recipes, and notions, and and and. It solves the organizational problems of bookmarking a website to revisit later or starring posts in Google Reader because all of those bookmarks can be stored in specific boards on Pinterest, thus organizing all of these websites together in one place.

Why didn't someone think about this earlier?

I don't think I exaggerate when I say that Pinterest truly is awesome possum.

So what do I pin? Pinterest gives you basic pin boards when you create your account but they're customizable and you can create as many boards as you'd like. I tend to pin recipes, quilting and crafting ideas, photography tips, idea for Elle, organizational ideas, bucket list items, holiday crafts/treats, home decor, bookshelves I drool over, and the occasional odd pin.

Now, just need to find the time to utilize some of these pins! But until then, I'll just keep collecting. you Pinterest? If not...what are you waiting for??  And while you're at it, follow me!

Happy pinning!
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