Friday, April 19, 2013

Malcolm's 9 months old!

Wow. Malcolm has managed to survive 9 months of my parenting, which I often fear is too inept and inexpert. Obviously, Benjamin and I must be doing something right, since he is happy, healthy and, if you will forgive a parent's partiality, pretty much the best baby ever. (Except when he won't sleep, and then he becomes Malcolm the miscreant).

The dog and cats are remarkably patient with him, now that he has discovered they exist and are fun to chase.

I am so eager to see where he takes us as he learns to walk and explore this world (now, if I could just keep him from putting everything into his mouth...)

Saturday, April 13, 2013

I just ran a 5K!

About a month and a half ago, I went to the gym and instead of "running" on an elliptical machine, I decided to run around the track. This was not an unusual occurrence a couple of years ago, when I had minor aspirations to becoming a runner, but I stopped running and switched exclusively to the elliptical when I was pregnant because I was just too uncomfortable with the impact and bouncing. Since Malcolm arrived, I have run on a treadmill a few times and the elliptical a few times, but mostly I stuck to daily walks with Malcolm and Miikka as my regular exercise. Anyway, this time when I ran around the track, I managed 3 miles with only about 1/2 a mile of walking. I was somewhat surprised, although I probably shouldn't have been - walking up and down all our hills with 10 to 15 pounds of baby strapped to your chest is a pretty good workout - and began to think about signing up for a local charity 5K organized by my former trainer. So I started making an effort to go to the track more often, timed my miles, and decided that I could definitely do the 5K. Then about two weeks ago I go a miserable cold and didn't do anything more strenuous than stroll for almost a week. The 5K started to look like a bad idea. But I made myself take Malcolm out for a run in the stroller at the end of last week, and when I didn't collapse in a wheezing heap after 2 miles, I started to feel a bit better about my chances. I did a couple more practice runs around a local park - one with Malcolm and one without (which was much easier) - and decided that I might actually have a chance to run the entire course.

And I did! The weather this morning was almost perfect - cool but not too cold (although I could have used a pair of gloves), sunny, but not too sunny - the birds were chirping, and I was happy to be outside. Much better than the only other 5K I ran a couple of years ago, when it was about 80 with 80% humidity at 7 AM. This time, I had a pretty good idea of what I was getting into, I knew the route and my abilities, so I didn't start too fast or too slow, and I just kept chugging along. I didn't walk at all, actually managed to speed up a bit at the end, and finished in 32:02. Nowhere near a winning time, of course, but I am pretty pleased with myself. If you had told me, when I was on the junior high track team suffering when I had to run any race longer than 100 meters, that I would be running a 5K for fun, I would have rolled my eyes at you (I was very good at that). Now, I think I might want to try a 10K one of these days.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

April Flowers

Spring is, finally, in full bloom around here. The daffodils finished up a couple of weeks ago, but everything else is taking its time. The jessamine is fully covered in fragrant yellow blooms, and bees.

There are three iris in the front garden, doing their best to add some color. I am still waiting for the other iris planted in the same bed to show some spirit. Maybe next year.

My favorite, the lilac. I checked my blog for the last couple of years in an informal bloom date survey - they are at least two weeks behind last year. The vegetable garden is also getting a slower start this year. I read somewhere that last year the temperatures for March were around 10 degrees above normal, while this year they were 10 degrees below normal. Seems about right. We've had an awful lot of cold, wet weather this year - I thought I was just noticing it more since I am at home all the time, but it was actually colder.

We've had some lovely sunrises lately. And since the trees are still mostly bare, we get a great view from our deck.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Book Review: Shades of Milk and Honey

Shades of Milk and Honey (Glamourist Histories, #1)Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The jacket copy calls this a mix of Pride and Prejudice and Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, and I would have to agree. Since I am a fan of both of those novels, I am right in the target audience for Shades of Milk and Honey. The magic system is unique and well-integrated into the world of the novel, and perhaps most interesting, primarily the province of women.

While I did enjoy this book - so much so that I read it in one afternoon - there are a couple things that distracted me and occasionally dimmed my enjoyment. The first is the extremely close resemblance to Jane Austen's novels. I think that it is intended in part as an homage, and it works well as a short-cut to help the reader understand the world without too much exposition. It also, however, means that the plot is pretty clear right from the beginning, since it adheres closely to Jane Austen's patterns. There was never a doubt in my mind about which character was the eventual love interest and which was the villain. Some of the characters seemed lifted whole-cloth from P and P. The second distraction is that several of the characters overuse the same word or phrase whenever they talk. Beth, for example, describes everything as "droll," while Melody says "la" in almost every conversation. It happened just enough that it caught my attention, instead of remaining in the background as a personality quirk.

I look forward to reading the sequels and seeing how Kowal broadens the world and magic, since I presume they will move farther from Jane Austen. The highest compliment I can provide for Shades of Milk and Honey is that I continued thinking about the story - its details, the implications of the magical system and so forth - long after I finished reading.

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