29 July 2010

Three Years of Benny

1. Hiking, May 2010.

2. 2nd birthday, July 25, 2009.

3. Two best buds: Bear and Bob, January 2009.

4. Last bottle EVER, October 2008.

5. Thunder thighs, May 2008.

6. First born, July 25, 2007.

25 July 2010


When Benny says it, it sounds more like "freee!" It all means the same thing: my little bear is three. It's fun to have a little boy who now understands birthdays and what they mean (cake and presents). My mom made a caterpillar cake for Benny and he has been enjoying his birthday loot immensely. His friends gave him Cars stuff - Lightning McQueen, Chick Hicks, and Mac. Benny is now in heaven. Other friends gave him books and games. Nana and Papa gave him an assortment of stuff - clothes, a silly sprinkler, and TRACTORS. Benny actually squealed when he opened the tractors. He had to sleep with his tractors and cars last night.

My parents made the drive from Brule on Saturday (with a pit stop in Sterling on Friday night - see more about that here). They are, as always, quite entertaining. We had a wonderful time. Benny does love his grandparents very, very much.

Today we spent the day with Benny. When I asked him what he wanted to do for his birthday, he said he wanted to go to Spinelli's, our neighborhood grocery store, and get a pop. So, that's what we did. I have a feeling we won't get off that easy next year. Benny gave us a third birthday present too: He's peeing AND pooping in the potty. He started last week and hasn't stopped. I'd love to put away the changing table and all of the diapers for awhile, but it seems silly since we'll have to start that all over in about two months :).

Happy birthday, my little bear.

Book Review: The Bean Trees

I was excited to pick up a work of fiction by Barbara Kingsolver after reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. The only other book I've read by her is The Poisonwood Bible. I loved both of them. The Bean Trees, however, was supremely disappointing.

It's about a girl, Taylor, from Virginia who wants to get out of her small town so she buys a junker car and drives across the country. There's really no rhyme or reason to her travels. When she stops in Cherokee Country for car repairs, a random Indian woman puts a baby in Taylor's car. Taylor keeps the kid and ends up in Tuscon. What follows is a bunch of weird, unexplained events that lead Taylor to adopt the little girl.

Nothing about the book spoke to me. In fact, I thought it was a thin story and the writing wasn't anything I would expect from Kingsolver. From now on, I'm sticking to recommended books.

18 July 2010

Potty Talk Revisited

Apparently the secret to successful potty training is to push and push and push and just about give up. Then, bam! Your kid decides to surprise you and start requesting the potty. After my cyber meltdown last week, Nate and I struggled with what our next step would be. Nate advocated for maintaining the status quo - keep Benny in big boy pants until he decided to start going in the potty. I was convinced this route result in 1) a UTI since Benny was holding it for so long and 2) urine puddles all over our house, his school, and anywhere we visited.

On Thursday I picked Benny up from school and he was wearing the SAME pants he was wearing when I dropped him off. Could this be? Did he go the whole day without wetting his pants? It's true, he did. On Friday, I decided to keep him in underpants. Why not? Before we left the house for the day, he performed the potty dance. I thought we were in for a big accident. Then he told me he needed to use the potty and went both pee AND poop. We were both elated. We attended his first play that day: Rapunzel. He asked to go potty when we first got there and asked to go again during the play. I couldn't believe it!

The rest of the weekend has been a breeze. He asks to go to the potty and we go. The pooping isn't going so smoothly, but we're on our way!

15 July 2010

Published. Again.

I've been published again, with the help of my disseration adviser. We collaborated on an article about the coverage of Lynndie England in news and political magazines. Check out the abstract:

Hall (1980) argued that the media articulate non-necessary connections between messages and socially acceptable ideas. This research analyzes the process through which news magazines made a strong connection between Lynndie England and the Abu Ghraib prison scandal and how gender affected these articulations. By making England the symbol of the scandal, the media diverted attention away from broad issues and focused on an individual while reifying dichotomous images of women.

Check out the full article.

14 July 2010

Book Review: Oryx and Crake

I am a woman on a mission! I am devouring books as though I have been starved for words and stories. I received my gift card to Barnes & Noble last Tuesday. By Thursday it had burned a hole in my pocket, so I picked Benny up from school and we headed straight to the B&N. Side story: Benny wanted to play at the book store, so he kept repeating, I want to play, I want to play, I want to play, at the top of his lungs. Then he proceeded to grab my skirt and lift it above his head, thereby flashing the entire store my polka dot underware. It's bad enough to flash in public. But to flash in public while pregnant, well, my life hit a whole new low.

Long story short, I found a Thomas the Train track and Benny was in heaven. I told him he could pick out a book. He wanted to get a talking Cars the Movie book. I used my parental veto on that one. My one rule about toys and books: They cannot make electronic sounds. I opted for Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Benny was not all too happy with my veto or my choice. However, he now asks for Cloudy at night. I guess that means he's forgiven me.

Luckily, I had come up with a list of books I wanted because by the time I flashed the store, played with Thomas, and argued with Benny about his book selection, his patience and my patience were running thin. I picked up The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver and Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood (of The Handmaid's Tale fame). I immediately started reading Oryx and Crake and didn't put it down until Sunday night when I finished it.

Last fall, I had the opportunity to see Margaret Atwood speak about The Year of the Flood. Little did I know that she was in the process of writing a trilogy of sorts. The Year of the Flood was the second book in the trilogy. Her presentation was amazing. She was amazing. I decided that I could not read the second book until I read the first: Oryx and Crake.

For a quick synopsis, Oryx and Crake is about the world after humans have literally destroyed it through genetic modification. Atwood tells the story backwards. We first learn about Snowman (aka Jimmy) one of the only surviving humans. He is struggling to survive on the wasted Earth while watching over the Crakers. The Crakers are a new species of humans developed through genetic modification by Crake. He has to deal with all sorts other genetically modified beings - some benign, some not so benign. Snowman tells the story through a series of flashes backwards - to his childhood when humans were just starting to experiment with genetic modification in animals, to the beginning of his friendship with Crake, to his college years, to his professional years when he worked with Crake as Crake was simultaneously developing the Crakers as well as a plague so disasterous that it would kill all of humankind.

As I love all things Atwood, I loved this book. I can't wait to start on The Year of the Flood. It comes out in paperback on July 27. In the meantime, I am looking forward to delving into The Bean Trees to satiate my hunger for more stories.

12 July 2010

Potty Talk

I feel like I've been writing about our adventures in potty training for years on this site. We've had a love/hate relationship with potty training for what is going on 18 months.

Benny started telling me that he pooped when he was 18 months. Nate and I got a little excited about this development and bought a little potty for Benny. We talked a lot about going on the potty and even put Benny on the potty a few times in those first few months. One morning he peed on the potty, so I rushed to Target and bought Benny some big boy underwear. That must have been before Benny's 2nd birthday.

Fast forward nearly a year. Benny still isn't potty trained. Our delays have come in a variety of forms: I started working full time, Benny started daycare. We tore apart our kitchen starting in December and it remained that way for a good long time. We travelled a lot in May. Nate and I never really thought we could devote a lot of time to the potty training ordeal, especially because Benny has been very opposed to sitting on the potty.

This kid has a will of steel - and, as it turns out, a bladder that's even stronger. This winter I attempted a pants-free weekend. I read somewhere that most kids do better at potty training when they aren't wearing any pants. You just need to pump them full of liquids and remind to sit on the potty. Benny and I did a potty dance for an entire day. I gave him all sorts of things to drink and sat him on the potty every 30 minutes or so. He ended up going to the bathroom on the carpet. And then proceeded to tell everyone who visited that he peed there. The expirement lasted all of two days before I gave up. Benny would hold out going to the bathroom until 1) I put a diaper on at nap time, or 2) I put pants on when someone came to the house.

I felt as though he was sending me a pretty clear message: He was not ready to sit on the potty. So, we continued to talk about the potty and tried to bribe the little booger to sit on the potty. After a couple of days, the bribes didn't even work. We would ask if he wanted to sit on the potty. He would answer, NO! We would remind him that he would get a treat (sucker, small cookie, whatever). H would answer, I don't want a sucker/small cookie/whatever. Now the message was crystal clear: He was not ready to sit on the potty. We gave it a rest.

As Benny's third birthday approaches, however, Nate and I decided that we need to do something to encourage him to sit on the potty. So, about two months ago, Nate told Benny that when he is three, he'll have to sit on the potty. Benny, being the bright little whipper snapper that he is, reminded us that he's not three, he's two. He will sit on the potty when he's three.

As of late, we've revisited the pantless tactics. Benny has gone in the potty a few times, but mostly just holds it. And holds it. And holds it. One day he held it for SEVEN hours before I had to put a diaper on him for a nap. Then he peed to his heart's content. Last night, he was running around, doing the pee pee dance for about 30 minutes. Every time I tried to sit him on the potty he screamed and got up. Eventually, I took my eyes off of him for two seconds and he peed on the floor.

We're at a loss here. We feel like we can't go back to full-time diapering because that sends the wrong message. But, I'm still not sure that he's mentally ready for this next step. His teachers at daycare said that he's a smart kid and smart kids tend to hold out. I'm not sure whether or not that's what's going on here. At this rate, he'll be 10 before he goes pee in the potty! And we haven't even started addressing the poop factor!

08 July 2010

Name Game

After posting my "Things I Want" bit yesterday, I ended up purchasing a lovely necklace with two letter charms. I've been waiting to buy a charm necklace for awhile. When I saw this, it spoke to me, so to speak.

Here's a photo:
Here's the game: I ordered a "B" charm for Benny and an "L" charm for Baby Girl. It's a clue for you. Feel free to guess the name!

07 July 2010

Things I Love/Want

Since birthday season is upon us and Nate occassionally reads this blog, I thought I might help him out with gift ideas. This post is more appropriately titled just "Things I Want." But, I'm very certain that I would LOVE anything on this list. Plus, there's some interesting great spectacular stuff out there on the internet. Here's a sampling:

Cool bottles, coffee tumblers, etc., at Vessel Drinkware.

Great stationary at Satsuma Press.

Beautiful jewelry at Stone & Honey and Lauren Haupt. LOVE LOVE LOVE

Back-saving baby carriers at Ergo Baby.

Just about anything from Raygun.

More cool stuff to come.

06 July 2010

Mini-Book Reviews: Reading Lolita in Tehran and Comfort Me with Apples

I finished two books over the weekend: Reading Lolita in Tehran and Comfort Me with Apples. I call these mini-reviews because they aren't really reviews at all. I don't have time :). They are both good in different ways (and, interestingly, they are both memoirs). Reading Lolita provides a good description of modern-day Iran - based on one woman's experience. Comfort Me with Apples is a fast read (I always like those), but it's too "oh-my-life-is-so-difficult-even-though-I'm-a-well-paid-restaurant-critic" for me.

01 July 2010

No Internet = More Time to Read

Shocking observation, I know. Our modem putzed out about a week ago. We've been meaning to buy a new modem, but haven't been moving very fast. So, without internet, I'm finding that I have much more free time in the evenings. As a result, I'm nealy finished with Reading Lolita in Tehran. My rediscovered love of reading has made me realize that I need to consume as many books as possible before this baby comes. Because after she's born I may not have much time for awhile.

This realization is rather serendipitous. I'll be celebrating my one-year anniversary at work next week. I get to choose gift cards to mark the momentous occasion. I have chosen Barnes & Noble. On the short list to buy:

The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver
The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
Oryx & Crake by Margaret Atwood
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
The Passage by Justin Cronin
History of Love by Kraus

Any recommendations? I'm running out of time, people. And I need some good reads!