Wives and Daughters, by Elizabeth Gaskell

I was prepping in my mind a glowing review of Wives and Daughters, but alas, it is not to be. I got to the end to realize that there was no end at all.

But let me back up.

I borrowed the movie Wives and Daughters from a good friend, and having seen, loved, read, and loved North and South by the same author, and based on the rave reviews of friends, I was excited to watch the movie. It is an A&E five-ish hour excellent film, which I highly recommend (if you like that kind of thing). I then put the book on hold at the library, and have been thoroughly enjoying it for the past week.

Until today. I thought the movie wound things up a too little quickly for my liking, but if it was based on the book, I could hardly blame the filmmakers unless it varied significantly from the book. And it did. But the movie ended better.

Now, before you go disparaging the author, I'm sure she did not intend to die before finishing the book, but alas, that is what she did.

So the book doesn't end. You don't get to read and revel in the happily ever after. Of course there is an editor's note that details briefly Gaskell's known plans for the ending, but "and they would have done such-and-such and then so-and-so did thus" is not nearly as satisfying as watching it play out scene by scene. I can't say too much, or it would give a way the entire plot to the movie as well as the book, but you get the idea.

I'm a little disappointed, but overall, I'm not sorry I read the book. I just wish I would have known beforehand that it was unfinished. I guess that's what I get for not doing my homework.

Moniker Monday: Baby Names

When it comes to naming babies, parents fall into a couple of categories. First, they are either deciders or wait-and-see-ers. Then, they are either tellers or keep-it-a-secret-ers. (Don't you like my technical titles there?)

Some decide early on the name that their offspring will have. Whether it's a family name or just a name they like, they speak of their yet-unborn child using his/her name. This can backfire; if, for some reason the name doesn't fit the child, the gender was unknown/wrong, or for various other reasons. But the majority I know who choose beforehand, follow through.

My sister is one of these.

Then there are those like me, who cannot, for the life of them, decide on a name without seeing the baby. While Tom and I talk about potential names beforehand, and even bring it down to a list of 5-10, we don't make the final decision till post-birth. And with Rico it wasn't even till the next day (though he was born at 2 in the afternoon). But even though we make a list, neither Rico's nor Louie's names were on our lists going in, so we're not very good at it.

Some people broadcast their chosen name (or names, if they aren't quite sure) to the world and let all in their acquaintance weigh in on the choice. Some with a "here's the name, think what you will" approach, and others in the attitude of "here's what we're thinking, what do you think?". But whether or not they are looking for opinions, they get them.

Again, my sister falls into this category.

Then, some keep it intentionally or subconsciously a secret. I have met people who have decided on a name, but choose to keep it under wraps until the infant arrives. Personally, though we have names under discussion, I tend to tell people those names on the bottom of the list when they (inevitably) ask what we're thinking.

Both Ella and her given name were fairly high on our list of possibilities, but no one knew we were considering them, because when they asked, I would tell them we liked Olivia, Anne, Grace, and other names that we had talked about, and not ruled out, but were not what I might consider highly likely.

When I was pregnant with Rico, I was fairly sure that we would end up naming him Wayne. But when people asked, I mentioned names like Peter, William, and Thomas II, but knowing that those options were lower on our list.

Same with Louie. Our top name for most of the pregnancy was Katherine, and we considered Marseille, (like the city in France: "Mar-say,") but I don't think I told anyone that, except Sarah, and only because she grilled me.

If you have kids, what is your m-o? If you don't, what method do you think you will adopt? Do you think one is better than the other?



Louie was by far my biggest baby.

At birth, that is.

But at two months, she was my smallest.

Ella jumped from a birthweight of 7 lbs 6 oz to 12 lbs 8 oz at her two month appointment. That's five pounds two ounces for those unwilling to do the math.

Henry leaped from 8 lbs 4 oz to 13 lbs 11 oz in two months. That's five pounds, seven ounces. He would have to beat Ella not only in weight but in amount gained.

And Lou, sweet little Lou, stepped from a whopping 9 lbs 12 oz, to a measly 11 lbs 14 oz, only two pounds, two ounces in two months.

I guess it's a good thing that she started out so big. Though I feed her the same straight cream that I fed her siblings, her heart is eating up all her extra calories, instead of packing on the chub.

We found out a couple of weeks ago that our little darling has Ventricular Septal Defect, or VSD. This means that she has a hole in the septum between her right and left ventricles, causing oxygenated blood to flow from the left ventricle through the hole to the right ventricle and back to her lungs, making the whole process less efficient.

According to the doctor there are lots of things going for her. She is still reasonably healthy, and gaining weight (though not as quickly as she might otherwise). These holes frequently close on their own. For now there is not much to do, but watch and wait.

And pray.

I've been doing a lot of that.


Sandwich peels

I know I've heard that much of the nutrients in fruits and vegetables are in the skins--or peels, if you will. I've even heard a story of a kind father who, during a famine, generously ate all the potato skins so his family could have the more desirable inner flesh. Unfortunately, he lived while his entire family died of malnutrition.

Now whether this is a true story or an exaggerated old-wives tale is not my point. The point is that the outermost parts of many foods are the most nutritious. I can only hope that the same is not true with bread, since this is what it looks like when my children are done eating:


So far, not so good

I woke up at 5 this morning to pouring rain and aching shins and decided to go back to sleep. The C25K program recommends a day between runs, so I'll try again tomorrow. I did enjoy my run yesterday, once my ears decided the cold wasn't so bad. I'll be praying for no rain.

PS-does anyone know any good stretches to prevent shin splints?


Moniker Monday

{I've been thinking a lot about names recently. Baby names, sibling names, name meanings, reasons behind names, family names, famous names. But I can't boil it all down to one post. So I think I'll end up doing several, but I'll space them out so I don't drive you all crazy.}

Some names go together. Sonny and Cher. David and Jonathan. Bert and Ernie. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. If you have one, you need the other(s). There is a story that goes along with each set.

Other names go well together. Anna and Ethan. Blake and Brady. Linda and Lisa. The names sound good together, but don't have any significance (unless you know the twins I named).

But some otherwise great names should not go together. Evan and Elle. Say it out loud if you don't see what I mean.

Can you think of any others?

I'm not sure why

I think it is time to bring back the insanity.

Louie is all but sleeping through the night. I highly doubt it is likely to snow again. Spring is officially here. It is time to dust off my running shoes after almost a year.

As you may or may not remember, I stopped just shy of my C25K goal when I got pregnant (and exhausted) with Lou. Now that she's almost three months old, I'm ready to give it another try. I know that 5am will be as early as ever, but 5 it is.

Ideally, I would have started today, because I'm a MWF kind of person, but for this week it will be TWF.

Wish me luck.


'Tis the season

My kids have not quite gotten over Christmas. Tonight (and every night) I sang "Picture a Christmas" to Ella, and "Angels we have heard on high" to Rico-boy. He loves the


Happy Green Day

I mean, St. Patrick's day.

Dyeing everything green is about as far as I go. No corned beef and cabbage. No leprechauns. And I'm not Irish.

Breakfast was green pancakes with green milk.

For lunch the kids are munching on apples, (red, unfortunately) and green tuna sandwiches, also with green milk.

For dinner, I think we'll have cream of broccoli soup in green bread bowls. With salad--green, of course!

A little green food coloring goes a long way.


Give said the little stream

I've seen this several times, and you probably have too, but I finally decided to play.

The first five people to respond to this post will get something made by me! My choice. For you. This offer does have some restrictions and limitations:

1. I make no guarantees that you will like what I make!

2. What I create will be just for you.

3. It'll be done this year.

4. You have no clue what it's going to be. It may be a song. It may be a self portrait or maybe even some creation I haven't yet dreamed up. I may draw. I may bake you something and mail it to you. It may not be big or impressive. Who knows? Not you, that's for sure! But let's be honest here. This is me and I will likely do something amazing. ;) So come on, sign up!

5. I reserve the right to do something extremely strange.

The catch? Oh, the catch is that you must re-post this on your blog and offer the same to the first 5 people who do the same on your blog. The first 5 people to do so and leave a comment telling me they did win a FAB-U-LOUS homemade gift by me!

It doesn't matter to me if I know you, or if you are a friend-of-a-friend, or a totally random blog-stalker. Sign up!

One... two... three... GO!


Story of my life

It has been said that the loudest noises a mother can make is to pick up a fork, or lay her head on a pillow.

I'd like to add taking a shower to that list.

After getting the kids situated at the table--Rico coloring; Ella eating breakfast--I retired to the bathroom to take a quick shower. No sooner had I removed my shirt than

{Recording} "Hello, this is Penny from the Senior Advisory Comm..."

So I continued undressing

{Recording} "Hello, this is Dave (or something) from the Debt Consolidation Something-or-other to help you get out of..."

As soon as I hung up on him I hear

"MOOOOM! Rico's getting into MIS-CHIEF!"

I put on my robe and reminded the little man to be good and quickly got in the shower. Running water does a nice job of drowning out noise, because as soon as I turned off the water

"MOOOOM! Rico's eating the crayons!"

I was not about to streak through the house buck-naked and dripping, so I quickly toweled off and put on my robe, but not before

"MOOOOM! Rico's dumping the crayons out!"

For the love! Can a girl not take a shower? And have a moment of peace?

Apparently not, for as soon as I sat down at the computer to write this post

"MOOOOM!  Rico's taking my book!"


Do you hear what I hear?

I just finished my first audiobook in, I think, ever. We upgraded our insanely slow dial-up to significantly faster DSL, and I checked out an e-audiobook from the library. I downloaded it to my computer, transferred it to my MP3 player and went merrily on my way.

Overall, I enjoyed listening to Cranford, but I did miss a couple of things from the reading experience.

First, books are easy to pick up at put down at a moment's notice. I don't mind reading while the kids are playing nicely, because I can always hear what is going on and intervene as necessary. I didn't feel like I could do that with the audiobook, because I was always paying more attention to one or the other. Plus, if I needed to intervene I was stuck trying to pause it, then having to rewind (so to speak) to catch what I missed.

I ended up listening to most of it in the evenings while Tom was working on homework, and the kids were already in bed, but more often than not, Tom would try to talk to me, and I would have to fish the player out of my pocket, pause it, pull the earbuds out, ask him to repeat his comment, then reassemble myself and skip back to find out what I missed when I was trying to catch what Tom was saying.

This, of course, means that it took me much longer to get through (adding to the fact that I read silently much more quickly than one can read aloud). Conveniently, this book was not one that I felt the compulsive need to finish as quickly as possible, like I usually do. That's not to say I didn't enjoy it, but the plot was not so enthralling and fast-paced as to banish all other thoughts from my mind.

Next, this particular book had endnotes, which I like looking up and reading to improve my understanding of the book and the time period. I don't always catch (or understand) the allusions to period cultural events and expectations to which the author made reference.

Finally, since the book was read by someone with an English accent, (which I loved,) I spent the whole book thinking this guy's name was "Jim," but when I looked in the book, it's actually "Jem." Now, I know that's not critical, but I like to have their names right nonetheless.

What are your thoughts on audiobooks? Which have you enjoyed/hated listening to?


I would like to lodge a complaint with Star Command

Okay, this is a girlie post in two parts, so all you male readers can just ignore it. Dad, Grant....um, any other guys who read this blog, that means you.

Part one:

For starters, let me just be clear. When I was a teenager, I used pads ONCE. After the first time, I hated them so much that I swore I would never use them again.

And I didn't.

Until I had kids.

I told Tom after Louie was born that I think the worst part of having babies is having to wear pads for w e e k s after. Seriously. I would be much happier if that was not the case.

I mean, labor hurts and all, but it's over in hours, plus there are drugs galore that can take the pain away. But the annoyance, uncomfortableness, stinkiness, and all around diaperness of pads is unavoidable for weeks. Ugh.

Part two:

One upside of having babies is not having to mess with periods for several months. There are some women (one of which I am most unfortunately NOT,) who don't have them for as long as they are nursing. I got about six months off with my first two (though I nursed each of them for a year).

Um, hi. I'm already on my second one since Caroline was born, and she's barely two months old.


What happened to time off? What happened to six months? Four even! Anything!


I don't even know who to complain to.

Hence this post.

Okay, I'm done ranting. Sorry for the oversharing, and too much information.


I need professional help

Making cookies, that is.

I don't think my cookies have always turned out like this, but recently, this seems to be the best I can do. I use the same recipe as my mother in law, but hers turn out like this:

{not an actual photo of her cookies}

What am I doing wrong?

If you have any tips, or a favorite recipe, please share!