Books and more books

I need suggestions. New books to read. I’m in a rut.

Does that ever happen to you? The problem is that I’ve recently started three or four, but none of them have really held my attention, so I’ve just gone back to re-read some of my favorites. Which is wonderful! They’re my favorites for a reason, but I also want to read something fresh.

I’ve recently discovered the fallacy of the free books on Kindle. As a friend of mine says, there’s a reason they’re free. Wah wah. I have yet to find a free book that’s really captured my attention. Either the writing is terrible and choppy or the characters are bland or the story is crawling at a snail’s pace. I do enjoy my Kindle a lot, I just haven’t found a lot of great books through their Kindle promotions. Guess I’ll have to pony up a few bucks for some new books.

Of course, if I ask for recommendations from the other members of my household, Luffy is likely to recommend that latest business biography (how John Smith built his company from the ground up) and the dumpling is likely to recommend the latest Sandra Boynton book (his current favorite is Are You a Cow? but he’s a big fan of Doggies too). Excellent recommendations, but not really my cup of tea.

I just finished re-reading Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell; it’s one of my favorites. I actually have the sort of (kind of?) sequel, Carry On, Simon, on hold at the library right now, but it won’t be available for a few weeks. The latest Kindle book I put down was The Girl in the Ice, by Robert Bryndza. I just couldn’t get into it. The story seems interesting, but the main character is a drag and oddly antagonistic (which I suppose is to make her “more interesting” but it just makes me uncomfortable). It has a ton of great reviews on Goodreads, but eh, just not seeing it.


So I just got lost in Goodreads recommendations – sorry about that. I mean, I know you don’t know that I did, since this isn’t real-time or anything, but I still feel bad about it, like I’ve been ignoring you. We’re taking a quick trip to my hometown this weekend, so I’m looking for books to read. (Ha! Like I’m really going to have time to read anything between wrangling my seven-month-old (!!!!!!!) and chatting with my mom. A girl can dream!)

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A challenge

Me to myself when I look over recent blog posts…. hmmmm… you know, I haven’t talked about anything non-baby-related in…. a while. And, tbh, that was a weird post that really didn’t turn out how I had it in my mind. So let’s see if I can come up with something non-baby-related to talk about… it’s time… now, what to write, what to write?


You guys probably know I’m an accountant. I feel sure I’ve mentioned it before. I used to be an auditor, working for one of the Big Four accounting firms. With that in mind, I can absolutely fathom the mortification that the partners at PWC must be feeling over this flub:

Ouch.

I really don’t know who to blame/pity the most. I mean, if it were me handing the envelope to the presenters, I’d be checking that envelope a half dozen times to make sure it was the correct one. So, no bueno for the PWC partner handing over those envelopes. (And it is a partner, by the way, not some lowly staff 1). On the other hand, the presenters looked at a card that didn’t line up with the category they were presenting and announced it anyway. If I were presenting, I probably would have made some light joke but asked for the envelope to be checked before announcing the pinnacle of the awards to the wrong group. So, no bueno for the presenters either, even though they technically weren’t at fault (unlike the Steve Harvey fiasco).


Speaking of award shows, I’m not really into them. I know several people who LOVE the Oscars and go all out, hosting black tie parties and fun watch parties. Meh. Just not my cup of tea. However, I stumbled across this incredible opening performance from the insanely talented Neil Patrick Harris and I just… holy moly.

I could watch this a hundred more times.


So that’s about all I have for today. One last thing though: if you’re ever bored and looking at some time to kill, go look up the “feud” between Jimmy Kimmel and Matt Damon. Hilarious.

Naming Your Child 101: An Introduction

I, along with probably most other pregnant women, have a couple of apps for pregnancy. One is awesome and is an extension of my old fertility app. It lets me track symptoms, medications, diet, exercise, milestones, doctor appointments, and more. It also, of course, tells me exactly what fruit or veggie Little Dumpling is currently measuring up to (an eggplant this week!). The second app I have is one from Baby Center. They have some really good articles and videos related to pregnancy and childbirth, as well as some handy tools (like a bumpie feature and a kick counter). They also let me know which fruit or veggie Little Dumpling is measuring up to (a rutabaga this week! I get the feeling that your produce may vary). They also have a robust community feature, which, I believe we’ve chatted about the community features before.

Unlike before, I am able to keep a cool head when reading through these threads. I’m part of an October birth group, so the topic trends amuse me, especially since I’m due late October and am thus on the back end of timing. For instance, the current topic du jour is the gestational diabetes screening test – easily five threads a day on this topic. Last month it was the anatomy scan. Baby names, though, is a topic that has been trending for a couple of months. These threads range from “what are you naming your child” all the way to “what names do you hate,” but regardless of the exact question, this topic always brings out a few types of people:

The Yoonique Speller: Perhaps it’s the grammar enthusiast in me or perhaps I’m just too traditional to appreciate it, but I cringe every time I see this person. You know the one. She’s naming her child Breatanny or Jaxonne or Eleaurea (it’s pronounced “Laura” – duh). I mean, seriously. Being a creative speller does not make your child’s name unique. At the end of the day, he/she is still a Brittany or a Jackson or a Laura. The only thing being a creative speller accomplishes is making your child’s name a pain in the ass for her. I can only imagine 20 years in the future, your poor Olivia Alyviah on the phone saying “that’s spelled A as in Annie, L – Y – V as in victor – I – A – H” and then repeating herself a dozen times because the person at the other end of the line is completely confused.

The Unique Name Extreme Competitor: This woman doesn’t seem to grasp the concept that there really isn’t such a thing as a completely unique name and becomes hyper competitive about keeping her name a secret, lest someone try to steal it. I mean, I understand maybe not mentioning your perfect chosen name to your pregnant cousin or acquaintance. You do you. However, this particular woman gets antsy about announcing her name to a bunch of internet strangers. Does she realize that there are approximately 323 million people, just in the US? And that it is highly likely that her chosen name has already been chosen by someone else? The most extreme case I’ve seen of this so far was the woman who proudly stated (after chiding the rest of us for sharing our names) that she doesn’t even call her children by their names in the grocery store for fear that some pregnant woman in the next aisle might overhear her and use her precious names – NAME STEALER!! ALL PREGNANT WOMEN ARE OUT TO STEAL MY NAMES!!

The Name Hippy: This is a more recent phenomenon, brought about by the trendy Apple’s and Rain’s of the worlds. All Name Hippy wants is peace on Earth and to end poverty and for you to meet her children: Peace, Earth, and Poverty. Blessings to you.

The Trend Unaware Woman: This woman has no idea that name trends can be regional or periodic. She will fight you to the death over the fact that Paisley is a super popular name, because it is. Duh. She’s from Texas and she works in a daycare and she’s seen a hundred Paisley’s in the past month! She seems to have no idea that the name’s not all that popular outside of the Southern states. Same goes for the woman that seems to think trendy names from the 70’s (think Rebecca) or 80’s (think Daniel) are still “trendy” names for 2016.

The Trendy Name Hater: Just like it sounds. This woman hates trendy names with a burning passion. She will mock you endlessly for your Emma or your Charlotte or your Noah and never let you forget that you followed a trend. Now the interesting part of the Trendy Name Hater is what she’s actually about – does she prefer timeless classics like Henry or Mary? Is she into biblical names like Isaac or Nathaniel? Or is she into finding the cool, but not too popular names like Phoenix or Kade? So many facets to the Trendy Name Hater.

The Name Creator: This woman seems to think that she was the very first to create a name and that all others who use it must have stolen it directly from her. As an example (a real life example, mind you, I could not make this craziness up), one woman was so upset when someone stole her first born’s name (changing the spelling) after they announced it while she was pregnant. Just because you change the spelling, Yoonique Speller, doesn’t mean you didn’t steal MY name!!! With her second child, they decided to be super cautious and never, ever announced the name. Anywhere! And yet! Alack and alas, she had already mentioned her love for that particular name on (I kid you not people) MSN Groups about 14 years ago and WOULD YOU BELIEVE that there’s now a child in her child’s daycare with that exact same name! OUTRAGE! She really regrets mentioning the name online a decade and a half ago because someone clearly remembered and stole it. Sigh. Please note, this type can go hand in hand with the Unique Name Extreme Competitor woman, but not always.

The Meaningful One: This woman always tacks on the meaning of her chosen names and I often wonder where exactly she’s getting her information. She seems to only be happy when a name means something significant like happy or chosen or golden (Abigail or Joshua or Carmella, apparently). I always wonder how reliable these meanings are and am dubious that most names (according to popular name searcher websites) mean positive things. I for one would love to see someone be like, yes, we named him Owen, meaning destruction.

The Head Scratcher: So beyond the Yoonique Speller and the Name Hippy and the Trendy Name Hater and the Meaningful One, occasionally you find yourself truly stumped by another woman’s name choice. What is she thinking???? you ask yourself as you reread and reread her choice, gauging the likelihood of a typo. Sometimes the name seems truly bizarre (Windsor, but only for a girl – because that makes it better). Other times you know what they were shooting for (merging both grandmother’s names, for instance) and yet you can’t help but wonder if they are crazy for liking the outcome (Brylynn, which apparently is pronounced “Bry-lynn” but that hasn’t help me much). And sometimes, you’re just truly lost (Vaeda has had me scratching my head all morning).


Now don’t get me wrong. You can name your child whatever you please. We all have different priorities, as evidenced by this list. I will not judge you for naming your child Amillion or Nitrous, if that’s what you’re into. If you’re more the Jennifer and Brian type, also have at it.

What I find the most interesting is the name trends themselves. One of my favorite sites, Wait But Why, has a great piece on naming children and he also pointed me to an awesome tool: The Name Voyager. You just type in a name (or the beginning letters) and you can see how the name (or variations) has trended over time for both males and females. For example, you can see that some current trendy names are simply a bunch of people naming their 2015 babies after their great-grandmothers (Emma, is a great example, like he mentions). Another fun thing to find is when one sex takes over another sex’s name (like Lynn).

Anyway, I’m still on the hunt for Little Dumpling’s name. I think I’ve decided, but every time I try to firm up my commitment to the name, I always back down a bit. (I’ve got plenty time right?!) In the meantime, I’ll keep combing through these naming threads in hopes of finding the perfect name to steal borrow.

A comment on that CDC article

Have you seen it? The one from yesterday? Advising that all women who are not on birth control abstain from drinking alcohol. Women who are trying to get pregnant or who are pregnant should also refrain from drinking alcohol.

Bold words. I get the message: no birth control should equal no alcohol. And I get why the message needs to be blunt. There are teens and college kids out there drinking and having unprotected sex. They should know the risks and, more importantly, they should take steps to have safer sex. That’s truly the answer to that problem.

But I digress. The main statement was that if there’s even the slightest chance (and don’t even get me started on the fact that every contraception has a failure percentage) that you could get pregnant, you should absolutely not be drinking. The moment you stop taking/practicing birth control is the moment you should discontinue drinking. Full stop.

And this wounds me a bit. I love wine and champagne. A nice glass of red helps me unwind and relax after a long, stressful day. But, I know that we are ultimately trying to get pregnant and I monitor my (few) signs of fertility. When I ovulated, back in December, I didn’t have anything to drink after ovulation (even though it actually does take five to seven days for the fertilized egg to implant – up to that point it’s completely separate from your body/blood stream). But the day my period returned? You bet I poured a glass for myself. I’ve been off birth control for 16 months. They already felt long and arduous, I can’t even imagine what they would have been like if I couldn’t have indulged in one of my favorite vices.

Rather than the all or nothing approach the CDC takes, they should promote awareness and knowledge. True, if you’re not going to pay attention and you don’t care about your cycle, you have no business having unprotected sex (for so many more reasons than just fetal alcohol syndrome). But if I’m aware of my cycle and my body, then I should be able to reasonably indulge.

Can we talk about makeup??

So I have never been a girly-girl when it comes to hair and makeup. Shoes? Check, yes, many, many shoes in ridiculous, non-sensible fashions. Dresses? Check. Shiny things? Duh, of course, check. But hair and makeup? Not at all. I’m really not sure what happened along the line that got me here. I don’t have thick, long, “play-able” hair so I’m sure that has something to do with it. My hair is baby fine and thin, and has never done well at long lengths so has remained fairly short my entire life. I’m generally ok with this and get by on the same style pretty much every day (with my short bob this means blow dry and straightener – except when it was a little bit longer, in which case I did absolutely nothing and let it air dry and OMG I am so lazy).

Makeup though, I just don’t get. I danced throughout grade school and college, so I can do stage makeup, but every day makeup? Nope. I have two different eye shadow pallets, one magenta and one neutral. I have mascara. I have a tinted moisturizer. Oh, and I have a blush…… and that’s it. I don’t have foundation or veils or concealers or brow gels or blenders or angled brushes. I don’t contour or mask in any way. Now, I know this sounds kind of braggy, like, “oh I don’t do that, but clearly I’m not pelted with stones to excuse my heathen self from the room so I must be just fine without it!!” but hear me out.

One of my Facebook friends sells makeup and her feed’s pretty much been reduced to advertisements and how-to videos. I just watched one where she started with a clean face and applied a lot of different products (the video was over four minutes, even at a time-lapse) and ended with her “every day” face. My first reaction was a bit of repulsion because, seriously, I don’t even spend that long applying my own makeup, at a full speed version. But then, I thought to myself, she does look pretty good now. Some red splotches on her cheeks had been covered and she had concealed bags under her eye. Some contouring tricks had smoothed out her face and her lipstick looked amazing. Would I look better like that?

I always wonder, how little effort is too little effort? I’m still young, turning 28 in a few weeks, but at what point do my previous half-assed attempts not cover it anymore? At what point am I going to legitimately need more makeup? And will I recognize it? Or will I wander around at 30 or 40 or 50 with a mostly bare face and an extremely inflated opinion of said face?

Luffy’s no help because he is wonderfully and woefully unconcerned with physical appearance and what other people think. Which is great when I look like crap and he still thinks I look beautiful, but not so great when he suggests that a fancy restaurant will surely be ok with athletic shoes and a pony tail. Or when he opts for a nap in lieu of getting his hair cut before our wedding, true story.

For the past nine years, I had been comforted with the thought that I lucked into pretty great skin. I never had breakouts or even acne really, only an occasional small blemish that went away quickly. When I went off birth control last year, I found that the pill was helping my skin along more than I realized. It’s still nothing terrible, but, as I sit here today, I have four or five active blemishes and numerous marks from old ones that are still clearing up. So… is that a sign? An answer to one of my questions above? Have I passed that point? I hardly notice them, but do other people? And does that even bother me to begin with?

Honestly, it really doesn’t. I suppose the moral of this story is that I probably won’t change – even at 30 or 40 or 50. I’ll probably always be that woman who thinks a dash of mascara is getting myself all fancified. And even if that means I won’t be the loveliest 64-year-old in the room, I think I’m ok with that. Hey, at least I get to save those extra 30 minutes every morning, so I suppose there’s an upside.

Taking a break

So!

Work!

Is busy. So busy. But!

I carved out a few hours this week to read Wait But Why‘s much anticipated post on SpaceX (Elon Musk’s space travel company) and now I’m inordinately excited by it. It’s thrilling to think that we could be alive when humans take their first step towards being a multi-planet species. And that made me start thinking about what I would do, if I were ever given the opportunity to help start a civilization on Mars.

First off, as an accountant, I doubt my skillz would be highly sought after in the quest to create a civilization from scratch. Anyone need help keeping track of your livestock or plants? I’m your girl. Otherwise I suppose I could take up knitting, that’s useful right? So let’s assume I do have some sort of necessary skill set. Let’s say I’m a world class botanist capable of making Mars hospitable – would I go?

The dull answer is no, I wouldn’t. I don’t have that adventurer’s spirit to head off into the unknown and the dangerous. Especially while space travel is so new and relatively untested. Right now, it seems silly to think about space travel, much in the same way I’m sure airplanes seemed needlessly risky when they first came about. Won’t it be incredible when we become as blase to space travel as we are to air travel? And this could start to happen in my lifetime! So crazy!

Anyway, if you have several hours to kill or want to thumb through the article, I highly recommend it.

Although, confession time, after I was done reading Tim’s fantastic article, all I could think about was Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century and that kind of made me laugh.