Thursday, February 21, 2013

Book Review: A Good American

A Good American by Alex George is the story of a family becoming American. It is a long, detailed family history of Jette and Frederick Meisenheimer coming to America from Germany, told through the eyes of their grandson. It traces the family through three generations, and manages to be funny, sad and so realistic you'll forget you're reading fiction and shake your head at how long it must have taken to piece this together from the family albums. 

I'll be honest. It's not what you'd call a "page turner." I wasn't racing through this like a thriller, desperate for answers. Instead, I found myself reading very slowly, and taking the time to savor the minutiae. If you have the time to sit and fall in love with a few characters, then this is the book for you. You will be transported through time and believe you've been there, visiting this family, and sharing their triumphs and tragedies.

If you'd like to join the conversation at the BlogHer Book Club, click HERE.

I was provided a copy of this book and compensated for this review, but the opinions are my own.

Monday, February 18, 2013


Well, it looks like the million-hour nap was a harbinger of things ... dark things ... to come. Shit.

My little bean woke up with a fever ("Are you hot, honey?" "No! Not hot at all! My feel great!" "Hmmmmm.") and shortly thereafter the fever spiked dramatically, she got those glassy red eyes, and she began hanging her mouth open in order to breathe ("Do you feel sick, honey?" "No! Not sick! My not sick, mama!!" "Hmmmm.").

Basically, she is sick. Apparently she is also not to be trusted. I wonder why she is telling me she feels fine? She has it pretty good when she's sick. I mean, come on. Bed on the floor in front of Thomas on repeat? What's not to like?

This cozy little scene lasted until the ibuprofen brought the fever down and she saw the monkeys on blanket, realized she was in a bed, started singing "No More Monkeys Jumping on the Bed," and then ... you know where this is going, right? Jumping. On the bed.

Come on, Josie. What did the doctor say?

At least she is taking a nap as we speak. And she drank a lot of water! That's ... excellent nursing on my part, right? Just nod.

Anyway, my sinus infection/upper respiratory infection combo (TWO! For the price of one!) is getting steadily worse, and although Genevieve struggled with a fever all night she woke up in high spirits. So high, in fact, that she thought all those pesky "naps" I kept talking about today were optional.

Ten minutes in the crib and I feel GREAT! Refreshing!

Anyway, plague house, blah blah blah. Thankfully I made a fantastic pot of chicken noodle soup last night, because the leftovers served as my breakfast and lunch. 

What else is new? 

Oh! Jeremy and I got iPhones on Saturday (they were free, so we couldn't very well say NO, now could we?), so if you have any app recommendations (I used to have an Android, so I know the basics, but most awesome apps aren't available on the Android), let me know, post haste. I would like to geek out as quickly as possible. I will also need some educational/kid app recommendations once I settle on a case and screen cover and will let Josie within 20 feet of the thing (Made of GLASS? Really? Just say it out loud. Sounds pretty stupid, now doesn't it?). I think my favorite part of this whole thing is the fact that Jeremy SWORE up and down that he would never own a smart phone. Unnecessary! he shouted. Silly! he exclaimed. Heh.

Genevieve is scooting like you wouldn't believe. She was just below me as I began typing this, and now she's across the room, flinging clean diapers every which way. She's happy, so I'm leaving her to it while I type and listed to Soapdish in the background (Yes! It's on Netflix! I love this movie eversomuch and haven't seen it for years! And bonus -- baby Robert Downey Jr.!)

(Drat. I just went and fetched her from the corner of the room and discovered a runny nose suspiciously similar to the one Josie had a few days ago. Blankity-blank germs. Grumble grumble.)

So summing up -- sick house, need iPhone tips and recommendations, want to hear your favorite part of Soapdish or illicit a promise from you that you will watch it ASAP and then come back here and tell me how right I was and it's the best movie you've seen in years. Now chop, chop, people! Get to your tasks!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

What the ... What?

That pesky virus. Josephine gave it to me, and then Genevieve found herself virus-y as well in the past few days. Based on Josephine's symptoms and then my own, which follow the same pattern, I know what to expect from Genevieve, so I guess that's a bonus.


Things got a little crazy last night. 

Since Friday, I was having very bad feelings regarding my symptoms. I was pretty sure that I had something in addition to the virus, but was afraid to express these feelings aloud to Jeremy. When I woke up Saturday with a migraine, sinuses full of gunk, and my sore throat worse than ever, I had to admit that bad times were coming. But it was just me, so as long as the girls didn't get sick, we were fine.

Josephine acted fine all day, and then dilly-dallyed around, fighting her nap (big surprise), and didn't fall asleep until 3 PM. Not ideal, but it's been happening here lately, with no ill effects. In fact, when I was having my most recent big "Josephine won't take naps anymore!" panic, I realized she just wasn't tired enough to go to sleep at normal naptime (12:45), but a few hours later she was dead tired. I decided to risk moving naptime back to when she was actually tired instead of letting her play around in her room for two hours and get herself all worked up, and therefore already over being in her room by the time she was tired. It worked like a freaking charm and I have no idea how it did, but she would take a nap from 2-5 PM (!!), get up, eat dinner, play with dad, then bath time at 7:15 sharp, in bed asleep by 8 PM, up in the morning between 7 and 8. Seriously, it shouldn't work, but it was.

Anyway, lost myself in the details there, but late naps are no biggie, and even when she resists for an hour, it has still been working out fine -- either she takes a short nap and is up by 5 PM or she takes her full 3-hour nap, gets up at 6 PM and still goes to bed by 8. Strange, but true. Last night ... she ... didn't wake up. 

By 8, we were freaking. By 10, Jeremy suggested we sneak in to make sure she was still alive. By 11, my stomach was really churning. When will she wake up and how miserable will our night be? By that time, I had added horrible hacking and aches and chills to my repertoire  and Genevieve was also restless and congested, totally unable to sleep anywhere but laying on my chest. 

She woke up at midnight. Jeremy looked panicked, but I said, "I've got this."

I went in there, changed her diaper, and asked if she wanted me to sing her a song so she could get back to sleep. She obliged.

Then she woke up at 1 AM. I told Jeremy to tell her it was night time and sing her a song. He did. She fell back asleep -- and slept until 7 AM on the nose.

Now ... what the FRESH HELL was that? She slept from 3 PM to 7 AM with only two five-minute wake-ups???? She has absolutely no other symptoms anymore -- no rash, no fever, no runny nose. Is she still sick? I am stunned over here. As you can imagine, that has never ever happened, and I am still freaked out today. I have been analyzing her every move all day. If it were you, would you just be glad it happened or nervous and ready to call the doctor?

In the meantime, I need to rest my pretty head, as it appears I have my body's favorite combination -- the old sinus infection/upper respiratory infection combo I get a few times a year. I'm gonna go cry in my bed until Genevieve wakes up from what will surely be a 20-minute or shorter nap.

But seriously. 3 PM to 7 AM. I await your tales of similar strangeness or further recommendations. 

Monday, February 11, 2013


A very happy half birthday ... to BOTH of my girls! I still forget every now and then and am startled to realize they have the SAME BIRTHDAY. Good lord. The SAME EXACT BIRTHDAY. I just started hyperventilating a bit when I wrote it. Remember how crazy I got before Josephine's first birthday? Now I have to find a way for them to share a birthday and have it be special. Yes, I am thinking about all this on their half birthday. Only six months left to figure it out! LA DEE DA!

Anyway, look! This past Saturday we had a 2-year-and-six-month-old girl and a six-month-old girl! And they have half a cake each! And their cakes say "2 1/2" and "1/2," respectively. And J has 2 1/2 candles and G has a half a candle! (heh.) (I wanted to try to cut it in half longwise, but thought better of it in the end).

Josephine was over the moon to have us sing to her and to get to blow out not only her candles, but her sister's as well. 

She's a giver.

She even offered to eat her sister's cake! What a helper!

We let Genevieve play with a little piece, and she had a blast. She didn't get any in her mouth (whew), but she had fun. I'm glad I loosened up my sugar rules long enough to let her smear it all over her face.

So, you want to hear about the famous girls of the house? Let's start with the oldest:

Josephine weighs 34 pounds and is 37 inches tall! I'm no mathematician, but that's roughly 6 feet tall, by my best estimation. She also talks non-stop (in huge, long sentences), she picks up on things very quickly, sings all the time, and is so funny. For example, she started saying "Wait, wait, wait ... that's SO WEIRD!" to me and Jeremy. We have no idea where that phrase came from, and she really draws out that pause in the middle, and we are hanging on her every word to see what she says. Then she laughs and laughs at how funny she is.

She still loves to read and is getting really good at memorizing her books (quickly! after only a few readings!). The first book she memorized was Corduroy, and now she has moved on to Gerald and Piggie books (by Mo Willems). If you've read I Love My New Toy, you'll understand what I mean when I say she acts out the entire story:
"I love my new toy!" 
"What does it do?"
"I have no idea!"
"Maybe it's a throwing toy! I love throwing toys!"
"Here, try it!"

The "I have no idea!" is the best part, because it sounds so great in her little voice. She has taken to saying it all the time. 
"Josephine, what's that in your hands?"
"I have no idea!"

She is also more creative than ever. She is always "being" something or somebody, and without any coaching, she "puts on" the costume for the animal or person. For example, out of the blue, she will come over, "put on" paws, use her fingers to draw stripes all over her torso, draw whiskers on her face, then get on all fours and say "My* a tiger!" and she's a tiger for ... well, at least an hour, sometimes days. Her favorite things to be are a tiger, dinosaur, bunny, and birdie. In fact, on Saturday she told us she was a birdie, then Sunday (still a birdie), informed us she was a black birdie, and this morning, the first thing she shouted was "DADDDDDDDY! Come down the stairs and open the door for black birdie!" She will ONLY answer to "black birdie," and will correct you if you call her anything else. She will also say "NO! My a black birdie!" if you just say something to her without specifically calling her a black birdie. She is so smart and cute and creative, but if I hear that phrase one more time ... never mind, she just told me again. Sigh. "My a black birdie," indeed!

*I have had a few people ask me about the pronoun confusions, and honestly, I'm not worried. She used to use I, my, and me appropriately, but all of a sudden she is using "my" in place of "I," but she is also WAY ahead in other areas of language, so I figure it's no biggie. The pediatrician isn't worried either, so either am I. It's this new thing I'm trying: not worrying.

Now the little one:

Genevieve was 18 pounds and 4 ounces the other day! Lordy be! No wonder my back is all jacked up from carrying her around in that carseat! She is also moving around like a champ. She has mastered the scoot and the army crawl, and even does some hands-and-knees crawling in little bursts. She also started leaning on one arm in a model-esque pose (Yes, I wish I had a picture of it, too. You will just have to use your impressive imagination.), Frankly, she's too cute for words, these days. Wildly adorable. Her smile is like a beacon in a storm. 

She has also started eating some food. I didn't really want to (I have no idea why), and I definitely didn't want to start before six months, and then I wanted to skip over the rice and oatmeal that messed up Josephine's gut right after we got it all fixed (grr!) and was going to go straight for veggies, and then the pediatrician thought some of Genevieve's poop problems might be helped with some oatmeal, so we started last week. She was such a champ that I have given her a few finger foods to let her play around and enjoy food time. The other night I gave her some steamed sweet potato chunks, and she had a blast playing with them, putting them in her mouth, and just experimenting. She even got a tiny chunk, mashed it and swallowed it. Like a real person! I'm not going to go whole-hog on the baby-led solids train, but I like the idea of giving her some chunks to let her experiment/stay busy while we eat and then toss a few spoonfuls of something into her after that.

Her favorite person is still Josephine, but now Jeremy and I come in a very close tie for second, so that's good news. She's still very alert and observant and brilliant as all get out (of course). She's a doll. She still sucks at sleeping, but she has her good days. We're working on it.

And look! Look at the passage of time! (This works even better if you hum/sing "Sunrise, Sunset" while you look at the pictures)

I had to show you the whole lot of them because it's exactly halfway through 52 weeks and all. 

Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers / blossoming even as we gaze. (I realize that might not make sense to some of you. Watch Fiddler on the Roof. LOVE that flick.)

There they are. My little love bugs. My big, grown girls. Love them so much. Next time: less schmaltz. (Well ... maybe. No promises.)

Friday, February 8, 2013

Heaping It On

You guys. You guys, you guys, you guys. 


Where to begin? 

Well, this week was more jam-packed schedule-wise than any other week in quite a long time. Christmas, in fact. I was prepared. We were going to do it ALL, and in style (or, just do it all). Then ...


I've done this before (unfortunately), and honestly, I didn't see this one coming at all. Josephine, with her constant gut problems from the day she was born, started pooping blood at about two months, and that is what sent us to the hospital. When we got past the three-month mark with Genevieve (even though she has had gut problems this whole time), I was sure we would be okay.

While visiting my parents this week, I found blood in her diaper, and whoosh to the pediatrician as fast as my SUV could safely carry us.

When this happened with Josephine, we were at one of our bi-weekly "discuss Josephine's mystery illness and check her weight to make sure she is still gaining" appointments and were sent straight to the hospital. I didn't see it coming. This time, I saw the blood, and was mentally making a checklist in my head of what I would need to take to the hospital and what I would need to assemble for the Josie-tender. I was ready. 

I think you see where this is going.

Nope, no hospital. I am trying something the doctor advised and have a GI appointment lined up. At this point, I'm not sure which approach I like better: "Blood! Go to the hospital and have your baby tortured with 24 hours of no food then 24 hours of only pedialite and millions of needles jabs!" seems like too much and "Try this. Probably not a big deal" seems too relaxed, because BLOOD! BLOOD!

Sigh. So, we are dealing with that, and I am trying not to panic, and now I am seeing why the little biscuit could not stay asleep, because there must have been a whole hell of a lot going on in her gut for her to start pooping blood. I'd be looking for comfort, too. So, yes, to answer your question, she is still being coddled and held while sleeping and all that because what else can we do at this point? 

Then, THEN, on Thursday, about 15 minutes before we had to leave to get to playgroup (she went for the first time last week and LOVED it. It's a little mini-preschool set-up basically, and I had to drag her away, kicking and screaming, a half an hour after everyone else had left, so OBVIOUSLY we were headed back this week), I pulled off her pj top to find ... a mystery rash.

Well, hot damn. Playgroup cancelled. I called the pediatrician and they said if it was still there half an hour after giving her antihistamine, it probably wasn't and allergic reaction and she needed to be seen. Of course, I didn't have any in the house. I called my Mother-in-law to watch girls while I asked a friendly pharmacist which antihistamine I should try to give my angel baby if I am allergic to Benadryl (I KNOW) and am afraid of the girls being allergic as well (Here's a fun feeling: having the pharmacist cock his head to one side and say, "Hmmm ... that's a good question" when you ask what you can give your kid that won't kill her).

Half an hour after antihistamine dose (she didn't die!), rash remained. Off to pediatrician again! To be squeezed in! For the second time this week! Yeah, I'm pretty sure they hate me now.

Apparently the rash is presenting as viral and she likely is contagious (excellent!), and G's gut is still wonky.

Plus, there were a bunch of errands I intended to run today, including picking up Mockingjay from the library (I grossly underestimated how much I would like The Hunger Games trilogy once I finally got to start it and raced through the first two), sending out two packages I was supposed to send out before Christmas (I KNOW. I hate me, too), and grocery shopping (I started writing a grocery list, then got frustrated and wrote "EVERYTHING" and huffed about it), but Mystery illnesses! Fifteen (fifteen!) inches of snow that fell last night! Weird chuggy thing that the SUV is doing! (Sorry, Jeremy, I know you thought you fixed that, but ... um, nope). So, we sat inside today and I assembled eleventy billion cardboard blocks my mom got Josephine for Christmas.

That, my friends, is a lot of assembly.

Oh! I remember one of the things I set out to tell you at the beginning of this fun little adventure we just took together! Even though this was a heavily-scheduled week and we had two illnesses, somehow Josephine managed to see and fall in love with the two children's shows that I have forbidden in this home. Well, the first was forbidden, and I was just really hoping she wouldn't get into the second. 

First (forbidden): Caillou.  Seriously? A cartoon child with the whiniest voice ever in the history of children? THIS sounds like a good thing to put on TV? You think I want my child to hear and imitate that brat? NO THANK YOU.

Second (in an ideal world, Josie would not watch): Thomas and Friends. I know I'm gonna take some slack for that one, but my reasons are two-fold. 1) The theme song. ANNOYING. EARWORM. 2) Now we don't just need trains (which we have, thanks), we need THOMAS! TRAINS! which cost much more than a perfectly good train without a face upon it. Guess what she's already chanting?



In other news, I have not lost my talent for rambling narratives, excessive caps, and overuse of parentheses. Also, Jeremy suggested we have a CLEANING! ALL! THE! THINGS! WEEKEND, and YAY! but also ... blarg. 

Now someone come rock my baby so I can attend to all these baskets of clean, unfolded laundry.

Just kidding. I know you all have your own laundry to fold. Happy Friday! Don't spoil the end of The Hunger Games trilogy for me!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Book Review: Touch and Go by Lisa Gardner

Touch and Go by Lisa Gardner is fantastic, fast-paced, and thrilling. It manages to read as both plot-driven and character-driven, and holds readers in suspense for nearly 400 pages without a break. 

I've been thinking for days about how to tell you what this book is about without also including spoilers, and these days, almost anything about the plot is a spoiler to me, so all I will tell you is this is a story of a family on the brink of destruction, of cops chasing criminals and trying to save the family, and it will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Alternating back and forth between the family in distress and the large group of police, sheriff, and FBI agents trying to save them, this is nearly impossible to put down. 

But seriously, this book was so fantastic that I took it with me into the baby's room at night while I rocked her, and strained to see by the very dim light of the hallway coming in through the crack in her door. For real. Thankfully, Lisa Gardner has published quite a few books, because I am putting them at the top of my library list.

If you'd like to hear what others in the BlogHer Book Club are saying about the book, click HERE, but my advice? Read it.

Lisa Gardner is also on Twitter and facebook.

I was provided a copy of this book and compensated for my review, but the opinions are my own.
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