31 March 2015

Books!...and other stuff

wow! its been a while. i was in a real reading slump. it was pretty depressing, but then it just got started again and kept going. yay! i think it began when daves mom gifted me the 'gone girl' book. so thank you!

books:
-gone girl. the read was WAY more enjoyable than the movie. the movie was perfectly cast, i'll give them that, but the book was much more engrossing. as usual i suppose. i found the treasure hunt part of the plot the most intriguing aspect of the story. i didnt really enjoy any of the personalities of the characters in the book, so i barely cared what happened to them at the end, however, i did feel the ending was especially lame. i did like taking the ride though.

-the rosie project. romantic comedy book narrated by a genetic researcher/professor with aspergers. he attempts to find a wife in a logical, unemotional way but ends up getting lost along the path and finds out so much more about himself and other people. having read a bit about aspergers i feel that the language, thoughts and struggles of the narrator were fairly accurate. the tangles of his life and the story sometimes got a tad bit silly, but what book doesnt. it was a fun new twist on the average love story.

-the fault in our stars. i had put it off, but then got an urge to read it. it was good. i love stories with smart teens, its nice not always hearing of teenagers in a negative way. and a love story, even with a sad ending, is always welcome, i didnt cry though (does that make me a monster?). im not sure when i will voluntarily read another cancer or holocaust book, they are always a bit too much for me. but, im off to read more by the author, and to watch the movie (spoiler alert: i thought it was poop compared to the book, well, honestly i stopped in the middle of the movie).

-paper towns. i love adventure-type books that use treasure hunts/clues to unravel the story (as i said, best part of the book 'gone girl'). this book was written by the 'the fault in our stars' guy. another story with teens as main characters, these guys were equally witty but perhaps not so smart as the 'fault in our stars' main characters. however, the things they were dealing with and thinking about were discussed on both universal/adult and adolescent levels. and i really love books that anchor themselves in english literature staples (here it leaned heavily on walt whitmans 'song of myself' poem), i felt like i was taking a mini 'great works' course. this one has also been made into a movie (which i am eager to see as always), coming this summer.

-call the midwife. this is now a popular BBC series. the nonfiction book was kind of all over the place but it related stories of a nurse-midwife in training (through a program at a convent), including various dramatic births (these were my favorite chapters) as well as snippets of the horrible and varied poverty of the people they served in londons east end (these were really interesting and thought-provoking). her chapters on the additional people she encountered in her training were rather dull in my opinion, and the author herself had a fairly irritating personality, so i sometimes wished she would stay out of the story and just tell it how it was. but im now interested to read more memoir-style books on midwifery and id like to read more about the workhouses in early 1900s london. gruesome stuff.

-daughter of smoke and bone. awesome beginning to a trilogy. this has love at the core of the story but it is also about trust and community and above all hope. its the kind of book you would feel good about pressing into the hands of any 'young adult' you come across. while being entertaining and youthful its also thoughtful and important. im hopeful for the other two books to come.

-days of blood and starlight. second in the 'smoke and bone' trilogy. this was actually decent, as much as second books irritate me. it started out annoying but thankfully didnt take too many unnecessary twists and turns while still being fast-paced and a real page turner. im hopeful that the final book will wrap the books ideas up nicely.

-dreams of gods and monsters. final book in the 'smoke and bone' trilogy. it was a good effort, i read it quickly, but i didnt think the bow that tied it up was all that tight at the end. im fine with it being left a bit open and bittersweet. no need for constant fairy tale endings, but after all the twists and turns i guess i just wasnt that overjoyed with the final 100 pages, even if the final 4 were nice.

-the reason i jump. this is a book orginially written by a severly autistic 13 year old japanese boy and translated into english by a japanese-irish family. wow. so great that they did the translation to share his insights and feelings with the world. you cant look at or think about autism the same anymore. ive worked with these kinds of kids before and knew there was more to them than people could see, but i didnt know the depths. i had read one of temple grandins books too and was blown away by what is trapped inside their minds, but reading it from a child with such powerful challenges...amazing. in general i think its a helpful read for any parent or educator.

tv:
-true detective, season 1. what amazing performances (by the lead males, i was not a fan of the female characters) and such beautiful direction (the same guy did the 'jane eyre' adaptation i love). the miniseries had lots of character development, i cant remember the last time i saw something go so deep and present so many facets of a person. i didnt care too much about the crime they were investigating, but the way their case unfolded was riveting. im looking forward to seeing what the guy writes for the next installation, maybe the rachel mcadams character can be respectable and fascinating.

movies:
-love rosie. i read this beach read fiction a few years ago and really enjoyed it. turns out they made it into a movie while i wasnt looking last year. very nice casting, good chemistry. another lovely romantic comedy to add to the books. check it out.

26 March 2015

The mr. Y grows - 8 months old - The boy inside is emerging

after all the eating this caterpillar did (and is still doing), the butterfly is finally starting to emerge, and it is beautiful. he is a very balanced guy: sweet and strong, quiet and loud, serious and silly. we look forward to seeing more of his colors as he takes flight into this world.

(guy things: his bucket of vehicles and a UM football gifted to us. it was his first favorite toy, i think this is because of the lovely high contrast school colors. laces are out, good boy.)
(working on his stink face and his standing)
(more serious staring)
(serious eater. indoors and outdoors)
(focused sister-love)
(sweet faces)

life:
-ultrasound. done at the childrens hospital just to make sure things were okay. his head/brain looks fine.

-nurse appt (8 month). he weighed 22 lbs (10 kg) and was 29.5 inches tall (75 cm).

-dr appt (8 month). everything is normal.

-colds. he got his second cold in life which came back around as his third, and then again as his fourth (im done counting these by the way). they brought congestion at night, runny nose during the day, with clinginess off and on. overall, id say he was rather patient with it. my sleep was crap though.

-teeth. got his 3 top-front teeth (#3, 4, 5) at 7.5 months.

-sleep. he averages about 2 hours of naps per day, 8.5-10.5 hours of sleep at night. the amount of times ive been woken up at 4a and had to be awake playing for 1-3 hours is now too numerous to count. :(

-socializing. ive started taking him to the neighborhood 'family breakfast' cafe on wednesday mornings. he likes looking at the kids and there are a few boys his size that are fun to mimic.

personality:
-reading. this has been harder than with X. well, i mean, he doesnt enjoy it in the same way and so im having to be patient, which is the hard part. he likes to touch books, bang on them, run his fingers down the pages and make squeaky noises, its just that the stories barely register. he does seem to like 'eight silly monkeys' though. and another good one from the library was 'animal noises' (flintham).

-food. he loves it. he bounces up and down when we sit at the table and food comes his way. he also mostly just eats it and never throws it, rarely drops it, although he does sometimes test it for use as hair gel...

-he loves things with wheels. he digs out cars/trucks from his toy bin and can spend 15 minutes spinning the wheels back and forth with his thumb.

-it seems like he will wean earlier than X did. he can go to sleep for naps without nursing sometimes. i can (sometimes) lay him in his bed, calm, and he can get himself to sleep. and sometimes he stirs awake at night but just wants to be held a bit to get back to sleep, no nursing.

-noise. he likes to bang on things and clap and splash water and shake rattles.

-X. he loves her so much and is very infatuated with her. he stares at her for long periods of time and likes to reach out and touch her face. when she is gone if i show him a picture he says 'gah gah' (which we have determined is his word for her, seriously, its a very clear two syllable sound he makes just for her name).

skills:
-he pulled up to standing at 6.5 months

-he throws his body around to get at things he wants. he really seems to want to move.

-he seems very right-handed already

-he 'talks' a lot

-he likes to stick out his tongue

-he probes things with his forefinger

19 March 2015

March 19 - minna canth flag day

this is also finlands 'equality' day.

minna was born in 1844 to a working class family. she went to college to be a teacher but ended up marrying her professor and leaving school. in the beginning of her marriage she felt it was necessary to become her husbands servant and give up all her ambitions. he was a good man though and minna evolved to change her opinion and behavior, husband and wife even edited a local newspaper together. when her husband died, she moved their 7 children to kuopio and took over her fathers business. in her spare time she wrote plays and stories that shaped the future of finnish society. she ended up being a feminist who wrote about womens rights and other social issues, including poverty. pretty cool lady.

so, in honor of her, i actually got my act together early and read two of her writings:

1. short story - the nursemaid (lapsenpiika). this is a very short story with what i would say is a very bitter tone. its definitely written to shame the upper class into changing their ways. possibly it did that, but it wasnt terribly moving to read.

2. play - anna-liisa (one of her more famous). i cant remember the last time i read a play, i suppose senior year of high school. this was not a very complex or challenging one thank goodness. it was straight forward and i thought rather dull (in the sense that the characters didnt have any memorable lines or thought provoking things to share). it relayed a powerful message in its day though, it helped to shift public opinion and gave a human face to some difficult events in a womans life. however, i cant say it holds the same power today.

its about a young woman who secretly had a relationship out of wedlock at age 15 which produced a baby. she was terrified at the repercussions her life would have due to the bastard child so in a fit of panic she killed and buried it. later she was blackmailed by the babys father. what i find most interesting about the whole idea is that the author herself nearly had a similar (infanticide) experience. a couple months after her husbands died she gave birth to their seventh child. she was overwhelmed no doubt, and she expressed to her children that they needed to keep an eye on her and the child because she felt she was in danger of harming it. she really was an amazing woman. the day certainly belongs to her and what she helped do for equality in society.

End of winter in the city - 2015

weather:
the season was gloomier than normal but we managed. at least the temperatures stayed around freezing most of the time and was stable enough to keep snow when it came. i found it to be much better than last winter, which was much too wet.

(we had enough snow for some fun this year)

kid-friendly:
-virka gallery exhibit. this exhibit was called a story garden. there were a few specific items/scenes from famous finnish childrens stories as well as lots of books and encouragement to explore. the show area was small but inviting. just the right size to maintain interest.

(favorite moomin characters: the groke and the hattifatteners)
(reading a book in the collection together)

-sledding to daycare. there were several days this winter where i was able to sled or at least pull the sled to daycare to drop X off. i cant think of anything more fun, some of my most favorite days. and there were even some rides that Y took with X. she really enjoyed that.


food:
-jaal. they deliver (or did). a mix of pizza, kebabs, and indian food offerings. the indian food is decent enough, the price is right, and the delivery is a real life saver on the occasional night when we just dont have it in us to organize dinner. plus, you can order the food on-line!

-ciao! caffe & wine bar. this is just around the corner from senate square on the second floor. they have decent gelato and smoothies. nothing impressive, but a good stop-in if we are hungry for a quick snack.

-mambo. the indian/pizza/whatever-else takeout in our neighborhood shopping center. this place is new so we tried it out. food for a good price and the flavors are pretty good. we ordered the indian dishes and X got the pizza. nice to have a place in quick walking distance to grab dinner.

finn notables:
-kirppis. our neighbors were organizing a kirppis (aka indoor yard sale or flea market) and i decided to join in. if nothing else, i figured i would get to be a part of something very finnish. it was certainly interesting, seeing the things people were trying to sell, how they valued them, what people bought, how they acted. they are definitely big on reselling kids clothes here (this makes a lot of sense to me) and womens clothes seem pretty popular too. this was kind of confusing to me because its not like these were cool vintage pieces, just things that people didnt fit in or want anymore. i would have to think its hard to find the right size, style, fit of other peoples clothes to make it worth your while to sift through the stuff, but then again, maybe you get good at shopping like that. its too overwhelming for me. as for the kirppis itself, i ended up breaking even i think, bought some boy clothes from people and sold a few things myself.

-norwegians. im realizing i know almost nothing about them. i cant figure out why. they seem as mystical and secretive as forest gnomes. i thought that was supposed to be the finns. although, i mean, we live here, and not norway, so its hard to judge that. but the swedes and danes do a good job of being visible and marketing themselves and their products, authors, style, etc. i cant pick out norwegian anything: clothing brands, books, design, names/words or even stereotypes. who are those people? we must get there one day to investigate. for now they are just over there on their gorgeous coastal land being rich and mysterious...

09 March 2015

Dave is 35

he's 35 people. 35.

this is the kind of birthday that worries me much more than 30 ever did. we are nearing 40 now! body deterioration age (to hear anyone over said age tell it). this is frightful! but i digress.

i collected a few beers dave hadnt yet discovered as his gift. X suggested a cinnamon cake for dear ol dad, so i found a recipe that fulfilled that requirement. X donated her artwork as an additional gift. and the universe sprinkled on an un-healthy dose of death resistant germs. the aforementioned germs later got passed on to the male infant and father and son went into a 2 month long cough and congestion spiral that made me want to tear my hair out. it kept fading and resurging, fading, resurging. not cool. thankfully Y was pretty patient about his condition, father...not so much. this does not bode well for the years when i become this mans caregiver. but i digress yet again. happy thoughts. um...happy birthday dave!!! and many more!

(his health was already fading when this picture was taken)

01 March 2015

March = Maaliskuu

welcome to march (maaliskuu in finnish)!

for this month there is actually no direct translation of 'maalis' , but the word 'maa' means earth or ground. in march the snow first starts to melt and the dirt/earth peeks out again. and as with the other two months this year, march is aptly named. we have been melting around here and the moss is pretty vibrant against the remaining snow and grey boulders. spring is in the air... :)