Saturday, December 29

Good Reads

This past year was the first in a long time that I got in some quality time for myself by reading some good books. Most of this "reading" happened listening to audiobooks from as I spent 2.5-3 hours commuting to Malibu from Redondo Beach everyday for work, and was my way of redeeming what otherwise might be considered lost time. I still do a lot of reading the old-fashioned way, of course, but even since September I find myself listening to audiobooks frequently while doing chores or taking walks with Liam around the neighborhood. So, what books made my 2012 reading list? Here they are, in no particular order:

11-22-63: A Novel (Stephen King)

I am no fan of Stephen King, but the time travel premise of this book combined with the historical angle of President Kennedy's assassination convinced me to give this book a try. I did not regret it.

A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast For Crows (George R. R. Martin)

In 2011 I started the Game of Thrones fantasy series, and this year I nearly made it through all of them--I have just one more left...

No Higher Honor (Condoleezza Rice)

This choice revealed the hardcore historian in me. Anyone who is not into history and politics would not enjoy this (very long) read, so if you're not a history lover and you don't want to sleep, I recommend leaving this one alone.

Drift (Rachel Maddow)

Again, more hardcore history and politics. Although Maddow is a far more engaging and entertaining writer than Rice, this is not a causal read for the uninitiated.

Big Leagues, Curveball (Jen Estes)

These two cozy mysteries about a young female sportswriter were on my list because the author is from my hometown. A little baseball mixed with malice domestic--fun, quick reads, even for a busy working mom.

Calculating God (Robert J. Sawyer)

Like 11-22-63 this book provided an intriguing combination of two subjects I am very interested in--space exploration and museums. The premise of the book is that an alien lands at the Royal Ontario Museum in Canada in order to consult with a paleontologist and learn about the history and development of life on earth. The twist? The alien civilization has studied the universe through science and has concluded that science points to a Creator--i.e. God. The story is told from the point of view of the ROM paleontologist who, as an earthly scientist, has studied science and reached the exact opposite conclusion. This book was one of the most enjoyable sci-fi reads I've had in a long time, and if you like sci-fi I highly recommend it.

The Bone Bed (Patricia Cornwell)

I've been reading Patricia Cornwell's books since I was a teenager, and as a long-time fan of the Kay Scarpetta series, I wouldn't miss out on a new release. The series is as strong as ever, and if you like forensic thrillers, you can't go wrong with Scarpetta.

Friday, December 28

Christmas 2012

Watching Christmas specials on Christmas Eve with Daddy.
All told Christmas 2012 was a fine holiday, and a fun and restful time was had by all. This was the first Christmas we truly played Santa Claus, waiting until Liam was dreaming of sugar plums before assembling his present in front of the tree. Santa brought him an awesome play kitchen this year, and let me tell you, his elves broke a sweat getting it together. The assembly required metal screws, but the plastic pieces of the kitchen had no holes drilled in them. Then there were all of the little sticker decals to stick in their proper places... Let's just say it was a relief when the kitchen was finally assembled just before midnight.

Santa brought Liam a play kitchen this year.
Liam is still a little young to really understand Christmas and all it encompasses, so he slept fitfully until 9 a.m. He never sleeps in, but of course he chose to do so on the one morning of the year mom and dad are looking forward to him waking up! When he did finally wake up and saw his new kitchen, it was love at first sight--he jumped in immediately and started "cooking." He also got a toy Dirt Devil vacuum because for a long time now one of his favorite pretend play activities has been to "ba-bong." That's Liam-speak for "vacuum." For months now, every toy he played with became a ba-bong, so we decided to get him an actual toy vacuum. He loved it, and once he fired it up, there was no stopping him all morning.

It was a fun day of presents, play, and eating, but we were all tired by evening and ready to call it a day. The only problem I'm left with is trying to figure out where to put the new play kitchen in our limited living space. I've already put old toys intended for younger ages in storage, but a little creativity will still be needed to organize those toys that remain in such a way not to clutter up the place and thus annoy me. With a November birthday followed by Christmas, Liam tends to get a huge influx of toys at the end of the year. Since we aren't done having kids, we aren't giving old toys away yet, so this annual toy juggling routine is here to stay for a few more years.
Liam "ba-bonged" for hours on Christmas Day.
Oh, and one last, encouraging note:  Christmas Eve brought an early Christmas present--Liam used his potty for the first time. Huzzah! He's since used it several times, but we still have a long journey ahead of us. For now he sees the potty as a kind of novelty thing he uses when he feels like it, not necessarily a way to leave diapers behind. So, he's not going to be wearing underoos any time soon, but we have taken a solid step in that direction. 

A bonus Christmas present for mommy--
Liam used his potty for the first time!

Monday, December 17

Illinois Photo Shoot

I was sadly disappointed in the portraits we had taken at the department store for Liam's two-year portraits this year, so when we visited Illinois in early December my sister and I held another impromptu photo shoot with Liam at my parents' house. As you can see from the results below, we got a handful of cute shots. Even though these photos were taken about a month after his birthday, these are the pictures I'll file as his two-year portraits. To see more snapshots from our session, click here.