Sunday, September 25, 2011

a crazy semester so far

UT's first week of class was half a week.
Thomas spent the second week in Bulgaria.
During the third week, he had to drive to Nashville to pick me and Jamie up from the airport.
The next week he had a day off for Labor Day.
The weekend after that we went to New Orleans, and he missed that Monday too.
This past week, Thomas finally had his first full week of class where he didn't miss any days.

And this coming weekend is fall break.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

pleasure reading

The main thing I remember from my summers growing up is going to the library and checking out huge stacks of books. I have always loved reading. That love was one of my main motivations for becoming an English major in college, and I spent 6 straight years studying the subject. This had an unfortunate consequence: I basically stopped reading for fun. Not entirely, I did find some time for pleasure reading, particularly on breaks, but most of the time, when I finally finished all the assigned reading I had to do for my classes, the last thing I wanted to do was pick up yet another book. 

So when I, a book lover whose professed favorite hobby was reading, finally finished school, I discovered that I had not in fact read much of my own choosing since I was about 18. 

The absolute best thing about not being in school anymore has been being able to read whatever I want, whenever I want. If I start a book and don't like it, I don't have to finish it. I can read books from all different  genres and for all different age groups and reread my favorites as often as I want. Just for fun, I decided to keep track of how many books I read this year. So far in 2011, I have finished 57 books. I wouldn't be surprised if that was twice as many as I read for fun in all of undergrad and grad school combined. Now, that 57 does include some rereads of children's books like The Westing Game and the Little House books, but there is a much broader spectrum than that, including everything from The Lord of the Rings to Wuthering Heights to The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (that's right, it even includes some (gasp) non-fiction), and in any case I'm pretty sure that the last time I read 57 books for fun in 9 months, two-thirds of them were from The Baby-Sitters Club

By far my favorite new book I've read this year is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Others I have really loved include 84, Charing Cross Road, The Glass Castle, The Hand That First Held Mine (though I don't know if I would have liked it quite so much had I not just had a baby myself), and The Year of Living Biblically. Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project has probably had the greatest effect on me and been the one I've thought the most about. I reread Harry Potter once again and was happy as a clam doing so (happier, probably). I'm currently reading Angela's Ashes, and A Tale of Two Cities is next on the list. [Somehow, despite having been an English major with a British Literature concentration and having taken 4 classes dealing with the Victorian period, the one and only Dickens book I was ever assigned to read was A Christmas Carol. I intend to fix that.] 

I love finding new books to enjoy. I love rereading, reliving, and discovering new things in the ones I love best. I love that no one is telling me what to read anymore, and I love that I don't have to try and find potential paper topics in the books I do read. I love that places as amazing as libraries exist. Most of all, I just really, really love books.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

15 months

Our little monkey is 15 months old today!

At 15 months, Jamie can:
  • say several words: momma, dadda, no no, banana (sounds a lot like no no), yuck. He also has said "dart" and possibly "grandma" when we were staying in Kirksville.
  • sign many more words! These include milk, more, food, all done, rabbit, dog, mouse, bath, ball, rain, book, swing, please, tree, glasses, momma (he doesn't do that one anymore but he used to), bear, swim, fan, light, baby, butterfly, phone, walk, pig, fish, brushing teeth, wash, shoe, hat, car, and key. There are probably more that I'm not thinking of right now. Some are his own version that doesn't really match the ASL one, but I know what he means. And some look very similar when he does them (like walk, rain, all done, and car, or ball, more, and shoe) but I can usually tell which one he means. 
  • identify numerous body parts: nose, ears, mouth, tongue, teeth, eyes, hair, head, hands, feet, toes, fingers, tummy, belly button (but usually only on other people), etc. Some of them he points to, and others he uses (he'll click his tongue if you ask where it is). There are others he's still a little shaky on -- if you ask him where his chin is, he'll point to his neck. We have a few to work on :)
  • make animal noises: elephant, monkey, lion, cat, dog (he thinks they make a panting noise), snake, sheep, cow. He also has funny bird and horse sounds that don't actually sound much like a bird or horse, but I know that's what he's trying to do! He refers to animals by their sound. When we were in New Orleans, the people we stayed with had 2 cats, and he was constantly pointing to them and saying "mow!" 
  • hold up 1 finger if you ask him how old he is.
  • "sing" along if you ask him to. He just makes a lot of noise. Except if you're singing John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt, in which case he will actually say "na na na" along with the chorus. 
  • "count." Okay, not really, but if we're reading a book and I ask him to count something, he will poke the page over and over the way I do if we're actually counting something. It's one of my favorite things he does right now.
Jamie's current favorite activities include
  • stories! He loves stories. He has favorite books and wants to hear them over and over. If you start saying the words to a book, he'll go find that particular one. He also has favorite pages in some of the books, which is too cute. One of his favorite books, The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear, has a page with the words "Boom! Boom! Boom!" that is his favorite. He will bring the book to me and say "boom boom." He is adorable.
  • pointing out trash and saying "yuck" over and over everywhere we go (it sounds more like "uck"). He will also throw something out if you tell him it goes in the trash.
  • going to the park to swing, go down the slide, play in the rocks, pull bark off trees, etc. There's also a little playground at our apartment complex that has sand, and he LOVES using a stick to write in the sand.
  • watching ants. He notices so many tiny things!
  • helping with laundry. He will grab clothes out of the basket and have me hold him up to throw them in the washer, or he'll stand by the dryer and I'll hand him clothes to put in. He sometimes gets tired of it before we're all the way done, but it's really cute while it lasts! He also loves putting clothes in laundry baskets, which is sometimes a problem because he does not discriminate between dirty and clean clothes.
  • coloring, but sometimes he gets too distracted by the prospect of taking all of the crayons out of the box and putting them back in over and over. He does better if he only has a couple to choose from. He also has a problem with wanting to eat the crayons.
  • playing with fridge magnets and pots and pans and anything else he can get his hands on in the kitchen.
  • going to story time at the library. If it's not too crowded, he'll go over and stand right in front of the story lady, but if it's too busy (last week there were probably 40 some kids there. It was a zoo!), he gets a little shy and comes and sits on my lap the whole time. But he still gets very excited about the stories, particularly if they involve animal noises. 
  • tickles. Usually when I stop tickling him, he asks for more. 
  • playing on our bed and getting flopped down onto the pillows.
  • smelling things. If I ask him what you do with a flower, he'll start sniffing, and he'll also start sniffing if he sees the spice jars in the kitchen because he knows that they're fun to smell.
  • anything involving shoes! He is obsessed. He loves to try and put shoes on himself and other people. If he notices other people not wearing shoes, he will bring them some to put on. For some reason, he really likes trying on my rain boots, even though they go all the way up his leg!
I could go on forever about all the cute things Jamie does, but these are some of our favorites right now. In the past 3 or 4 months, he has just gotten more and more fun! Though he is also more stubborn now and more capable of getting into mischief, I couldn't be happier with him overall. We think he's the best boy in the whole world (and we're pretty sure we're right!) :)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

a weekend in New Orleans

This weekend we were in New Orleans. We went down for the wedding of one of Thomas's Tulane friends. The wedding was really fun and nothing like any other wedding I've been to. It was a Jewish wedding and included a lot of Jewish wedding traditions, but it was also not traditional at all in that the rabbi seriously started the wedding with the "Mawidge. Mawidge is what bwings us togevah today..." speech from The Princess Bride and the ceremony also included references to Voodoo Fest, the Green Lantern, and Netflix. I barely know the couple, but Thomas said it was perfect for his friend Marisa.
Thomas (in blue) participates in the Hora. Too bad his
yarmulke fell off - it  covered up his thinning hair!
Jamie got to try on Thomas's yarmulke the next day. 
We spent the next morning in the French Quarter. We ate beignets at Cafe du Monde, and Jamie made a HUGE mess with the excess powdered sugar. He's not allowed to eat very much sugar, so it was a big treat for him. And for us. Because beignets are delicious.
Jamie in Jackson Square
at Cafe du Monde
In the afternoon, we went to a place called Story Land at City Park with some friends. They have life size versions of lots of stories and nurseries rhymes, and it was really fun.
Jamie's favorite part was the fire truck. Not sure that
had anything to do with any stories.
Monday morning before we headed back, we went to Tulane and walked around campus. Jamie was being extra cute while we were there.
And then we had another long day of traveling, which included the scariest moment I've ever had on a plane. The plane was going through some rough air and suddenly dropped quite dramatically. It was over in a few seconds and we were totally fine, but a couple people who hadn't had their seat belts on were thrown up into the overhead bins and got hurt. No fun, but at least Jamie didn't seem to notice anything happened.

It was a great trip, but we are glad to be home and not traveling again for a while!

Friday, September 9, 2011

we love FALL

I love fall.

I love crunchy leaves, wearing sweaters, not running the AC anymore, making soup and chili for dinner, eating pumpkin bread (really, pumpkin everything!), burrowing under warm blankets on crisp nights, and of course celebrating my birthday, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and starting the Christmas season. So a year ago, our first September in Knoxville, I was really disappointed. The high stayed in the 90s for over half the month, and it was hot on my birthday. We didn't get very fall-like weather until close to Thanksgiving. Super lame.

But not this year! Thanks to Tropical Storm Lee, we went from a record high of 98 degrees on Saturday, to a high of about 68 on Monday. We had heavy rain all day on Monday, and all week it has been cloudy and the high has been hovering around 70 degrees. I have been in HEAVEN. I know this isn't going to last (in fact, the high tomorrow is back in the 80s), so I have tried to make the most of it. This week we have had both chili and potato soup for dinner, and I have baked 2 loaves of pumpkin bread, homemade french bread, and a loaf of banana bread. Jamie and I have gone out to play and enjoyed the weather every day except for that crazy rainy day. Actually, that's no different from normal, but the weather has made it even more pleasant.
Jamie out enjoying the weather

I just hope it doesn't get too hot again before we have fall for good. I definitely want to end up living somewhere with seasons!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

pictures from Kirksville

Thomas spent a week at a conference in Bulgaria last month, and Jamie and I headed back to Kirksville while he was gone. He was a LOT trickier to fly with this time! Jamie absolutely loved playing with his grandparents; I'm pretty sure by the end of the trip he liked them better than me. I'm also pretty sure he completely wore them out. That boy has more energy than I know what to do with! We had a really fun trip.
Grandmas let you do things that Momma wouldn't
first time with the sprinkler - he did
not know what to think
practicing piano with Uncle Johnny
sometimes Peter Rabbit ends up in unexpected places
playing with Grammy