Review: All the Light We Cannot See

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Originally posted at Guys Lit Wire. Not the review this book deserves — I could write a paper about the use of symbolism in AtLWCS alone, and I’m sure plenty of English majors will — but I’m fighting off a head cold so it’s the review that it gets. Y’all should read this book.

Boise, ID doesn’t have too many major league celebrities, so it made some pretty big waves when our resident author Anthony Doerr hit the bestseller lists and then proceeded to win the Pulitzer for his second novel, All the Light We Cannot See.

Me, I’m a skeptic. The more hype something gets, the more reluctant I become to jump on the bandwagon. Not only that, but I’ve long betrayed my English major roots by doubting the readability and enjoyability of books that earn major awards. Consequently, I had no immediate plans to pick up the prize-winning WWII novel that everyone in town claimed to be reading until my book club named it as the choice of the month. Even then, I put it off until almost too late, and then began reading immediately to try to beat the clock.

Except… I couldn’t put it down.

All the Light We Cannot See takes place in France as it is occupied by the Nazis, and follows the lives of two children as they grow to young adulthood. The first is Marie-Laure, the French daughter of a locksmith, and the victim of severe cataracts that rob her of her eyesight by the time she is six years old. The second is Werner Pfennig, a German orphan with an uncanny ability to understand machines, which develops into a talent for radio repair that propels him into an exclusive military school for the Nazi elite. Marie-Laure flees Paris with her father, who hides a dangerous secret; Werner becomes a soldier for a cause he doesn’t embrace but lacks the wherewithal to resist. Her fascination with a clandestine radio transmitter, and his obsession with broadcast, tease at intersection.

Finally, inevitably, their paths cross in a French port town in 1944.

This is not a romance, except perhaps in a classical sense. Rather, it is a beautifully-crafted and engrossing window into two aspects of WWII life that most Americans don’t even know that they don’t know. Understanding how the war affected those who were neither Nazi oppressors nor Holocaust victims is priceless, but the truly great thing about this novel is how it lets the reader glimpse the humanity of some of WWII’s monsters. Doerr is no apologist, and in fact the majority of the Nazis he portrays are truly beastly — but Werner’s path toward becoming a Nazi soldier is a tragic and illuminating example of how nice, normal young men got swept up in an inexorable movement.

World War II continues to be a subject of great attraction to young American men, and a much-studied era of history in the schools. Anyone with an interest in this time or this war should take this skeptic’s word for it and run, not walk, to the nearest available copy of All the Light We Cannot See. And that goes for scholars of literature and composition, too — you’d almost think this guy won awards for his writing ability or something.

H’s Sunday, with Xylophone Goodness

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This morning H went to church and spent the first 35 minutes being extremely interested in the vocalists and organ, then went down to the nursery for the sermon because he’s two and hasn’t yet gained the patience to listen to a sermon. They had a plush Elmo down there which made him pretty happy.

Oh, and he took my hymnal away and loudly said, “B! book!” His Auntie M took his picture after he speed-read the entire thing a few times.

Afterward we went over to his Auntie M and Uncle A’s house to see M’s latest art installation (so cool!). Uncle A, who is a music teacher, had been working on a school xylophone and wheeled it out for H… Hope this video link works.

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When he wheeled it out, H looked at it and declared, “X! Xylophone!” Because he’s freaking adorable.

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He loved playing it.

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At one point I got one of the mallets away from him and picked out the tune to “Row Row Row Your Boat” upside down, which is a little harder than I thought it would be. He lost his poo — so excited. He’s an absolute sponge when it comes to music and learned [some of] the words to that song after I sang it twice in a parking lot. This is his version:

“Row row the boat
Down the stream
Nummy nummy nummy
It’s a dream!”

I recorded him on my phone tonight but can’t seem to get it onto my computer, so I’ll work on that. It’s pretty cute.

Later we went to Costco and found ourselves next to a sample-distributor who said that he was beautiful and looked like a movie star baby because of his eyelashes. It was pretty funny. Then she gave him a second sample (because he loved it — tomato basil lentil crisps) and I bought a bag of them.

Oh, and at Costco we were waiting for a parking spot, with our turn signal on. When we went to take it, another car blasted its horn at us and tried to push their way in, but we were already halfway there. The driver gesticulated angrily and glared at us when they walked past a moment later — because there was another parking spot literally two past that one. I’m like, Lady, I’m 4.5 months pregnant with a 2-year-old; I was waiting there for several minutes with my turn signal on and was almost CERTAINLY there first, and you and your husband are able-bodied. Get over it!

After that we had to go to the grocery store and he yanked his foot out the proper leg hole and got it stuck between the cart and the handle and yelled. It took me a few minutes to get him out, and later in his bath tonight I saw that he’d bruised his ankle. Poor buddy.

He dumped water all over himself and then passed out on the way home.

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Tomorrow we are back to work full time and he goes to a new day care for Mondays. I hope he likes it better than the last place. I sure do love my little friend.

Another One Gone

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When I was in high school, our student body experienced a string of suicides. Within a matter of months, several students attempted or completed suicide. This was before the age of the internet or cell phones, so word-of-mouth was the only avenue for students to learn about and mourn these deaths. Consequently, rumors sparked and took off. The administration was totally silent. At the end of the school day following each death, there would be a quick, fill-in-the-blank announcement that a student had died and that counseling was available. No information, not even the basics to quell the most absurd stories. I know now that schools are in tricky positions with situations like this, and it’s possible that they didn’t even have the authority to deviate from their one-sentence script. But at the time, it not only seemed counterproductive but cruel, heartless.

So I wrote an editorial for the school newspaper. In it, I criticized the school’s policy of silence and made the argument that by allowing the rumor mill to run wild, they were actually causing the suicides to be romanticized and possibly worsening the problem. It was carefully written, not offensive, not especially inflammatory — I wanted to inspire change, but I’ve never been very good at throwing caution to the wind. I submitted it to the editor of the school paper and heard that it was slated to run…

…and then the administration put on their censor hats, vetoed it, and had it pulled from the paper.

I guess I had a few different options at that point, but this is the one I went with: I submitted it to the state newspaper. Like, the real newspaper. And they didn’t reject it. The next week, my editorial ran in the paper complete with my headshot and byline, and was distributed throughout the entire state.

I don’t recollect there being any real effect at school, beyond a few people congratulating me on getting published. So I went on with the business of being a high school student, graduated, and went to Boise State.

And at Boise State, a communications professor named Peter Wollheim tracked me down after reading my editorial. He was working with the Idaho legislature to try to get funding for a suicide prevention hotline and asked me to come down to the Capitol to listen to the arguments and possibly testify. I didn’t end up testifying, but a local public radio reporter interviewed me afterward. Then Peter asked me if I’d like to work for the college newspaper. It seemed like a great opportunity, so I applied and got hired.

My experience with the college newspaper was mixed. I recognize now that I was being lightly hazed by the more veteran reporters and columnists, but I was ultimately given a great deal of freedom to choose how I wanted to contribute to the paper, and I ended up doing some work I was proud of and some that was merely being thrown together to meet the deadline. After about a year I concluded that journalism wasn’t for me and became an academic advisor instead. But in the meantime, I came to know and like Peter and his sad-eyed smile. Even though it wasn’t the right door for me, I appreciate that he had opened big doors for me in the university. And as time went on and our paths went separate ways, I still paid attention to his crusade to curb suicide, especially teen suicides, in our state.

Peter Wollheim was a nice man with a big, worthy mission.

And yesterday I learned that he had died. The beast he’d fought, ostentatiously on others’ behalf, finally turned the tables and devoured him.

I wasn’t close to Peter in the same way that I was close to Dave, Tom, or Mary Ellen, but he definitely falls into the category of “professors who had a big impact on my undergraduate career,” and now he also falls into the category of “people who died too soon.” It sucks. He was doing good work in the world, and now he’s gone.

Peter Wollheim read the newspaper one day, sixteen years ago, and saw that some idealistic kid was angry about the same thing that angered him. He remembered her name, and did who knows what kind of detective work to track her down so that he could give her a platform, give her opportunities. He didn’t know that kid, didn’t have any reason to help her, but he did, because he saw something in her that made him think that she might make a difference in a world that needed differences made.

I didn’t end up using his tools. I may be a writer but I’m no journalist; I may be passionate, but I’m no lobbyist.

Instead I became a teacher. I’d like to believe that teachers, if they can keep their hearts on their sleeves and their eyes and ears open, can make a difference to young people who are struggling with depression… and certainly to those left behind when the worst happens.

I’m grateful to Peter for hunting me down and giving me a shot. I’m grateful to him for his years of fighting to make Idaho a better place for those fighting suicide and depression. And I’m very, very sorry that he is gone.

Review: Monster Hunter International by Larry Correia

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Former underground fighter Owen Z. Pitt thought he had turned his life around, thought he’d finally found a way to have a perfectly boring, respectable life. After all, what’s more boring and respectable than being an accountant, right? But when his boss turns out to be an out-of-control werewolf, those less-respectable skills at buttkicking allow Owen to survive a vicious attack. Of course, the whole werewolf thing comes as a bit of a shock, but it all begins to come into focus when Owen is recruited by a mercenary bounty-hunting organization called Monster Hunter International, devoted to hunting and exterminating paranormal threats to the planet, and making big bucks in the process.

Monster Hunter International (and the other books in the series) is the paperback equivalent of a “movie for guys who like movies”: explosions, big guns, tough wisecracking men and women, helicopters, fight scenes, and surface-level relationships that give the characters some depth without distracting from the explosions, guns, and fight scenes. In short, it’s a total testosterone-fest, but one without sex scenes or gratuitous profanity, making it potentially appropriate for younger readers.

The bad guys are werewolves, vampires, trolls, zombies, wights, fey, and Lovecraftian “Old Ones” who weave evil just beyond human sight. The good guys are primarily survivors of attacks by these creatures, whose physical and mental tenacity deemed them worthy of Special Forces-style training and, if they don’t wash out, lucrative careers (and often short lives) in the monster-killing industry. The other bad guys, who are also good guys, are a MIB-esque secret governmental agency committed to covering up the existence of monsters at any cost. And then there’s a super-duper secret group called Special Task Force Unicorn (STFU — yes, really)…..

MHI stays true to the time-honored tradition of making its protagonist “the chosen one,” but avoids getting bogged down in weighty musings about fate and responsibility to humankind and whatnot. Nope; this series is pure science fiction/horror fun. It’s Vin Diesel with a rocket launcher against a swarm of zombies with heavy metal playing in the background: loud, awesome, violent entertainment.

The level of violence, scary situations, and occasional technical detail about weaponry probably means this book is a better fit for older teens and adults, but I can absolutely think of many middle school aged boys who would love every page of it.

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Sidenote for those who pay attention to such things: The author, Larry Correia, has been embroiled in the recent “Sad Puppies” brouhaha surrounding the 2015 Hugo Awards, and his politics may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but there’s little sign of anything especially controversial in this series. The characters, like their author, are major gun nuts (his term) and skew libertarian, but there’s no discernible sense of an agenda or any particular prejudice.

Cross-posted on the Guys Lit Wire website.

Baker Addition FAQ

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Wait… you’re pregnant?

So they tell me. I hope they’re right; I’d hate to think my current physique is entirely the result of ill-advised quantities of pizza. It’s possible, though.

When are you due?

According to Arbitrary Birth Calendar, we’re looking at January 15. Did you know that 40 weeks is merely the average length of gestation, not the “correct” length? Apparently a lot of OBs don’t know that, hence a ton of unnecessary inductions. Big Brother was a good eleven days past his ETA so I’m figuring “mid to late January” is a pretty good answer. [Read a bit about the 40-week myth here or many other places.]

How have you been feeling?

The first trimester was a little rough (in comparison to not-pregnant me, not in comparison to people who get well and truly miserably ill during pregnancy). I was exhausted and nauseated pretty much all day, although I could manage it fairly well with snacking. I actually had worse evening sickness than morning sickness. As with Henry, I didn’t actually vomit until the start of my second trimester. At almost exactly the second trimester mark, the nausea shut most of the way off and was replaced with my old maternity friend, Crushing Heartburn and Indigestion. My midwife suggested chewable papaya tablets and I was shocked to find that they actually work better than Tums. I feel stronger and healthier now, although when the exhaustion hits it really hits, and the stomach upset is often worse, although for shorter periods of time. And since I started the “waking up all night to use the bathroom” routine waaaay earlier this time around, there’s a little bit of sleep loss in there too — although after having a newborn, I’ll never complain about four hours of sleep at a stretch again!

Wait… in that answer, did you say “midwife”?

I did! The OB who I saw with Henry left the practice, and his erstwhile partner replaced him with an awesome Certified Nurse Midwife. So not only do I have the benefit of a care provider who better fits what I want in my pregnancy and delivery, but she’s got an in-house OB right there in case of complications. Best of both worlds! [If you watch this video, you can “meet” my midwife at about the 2 minute mark.]

So other than papaya tablets, any other weird cravings or aversions?

Let’s be clear: I don’t exactly like the papaya tablets. But they taste better than Tums.

The main thing I’ve been experiencing, food-wise, is trouble finding anything that tastes very good. As with Henry, I’m gravitating toward really flavorful (read “spicy”) food. Most recently, Sonic’s Cheddar Peppers have been a pretty reliable source of calories. (So good for my heartburn, too. Haha.)

I completely lost my taste for coffee, which is a tragedy, and I can’t stomach soda unless it’s a fountain drink on ice. Seltzer/soda water with lime (or other) juice has been an absolute lifesaver. I’ve enjoyed Dasani Sparkling, Schweppe’s flavored seltzers, and Canada Dry flavored seltzer, but the very best is plain soda water from a fountain drink dispenser with the juice of about five lime slices squeezed in.

What I really want to eat is Jimmy John’s. Boooo, listeria. That, and a really good margarita. Oh well. Worth it.

You called Henry “Kermie” until his name was official; what’s this one’s nickname?

Gotham.

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So do you know it’s a boy?

As of right now, all we really know is that he or she might be an alien.

Yes, that's actually him/her. Bad enough before I rotated it and made it green, huh, Ryan? :)

Yes, that’s actually him/her. Bad enough before I rotated it and made it green, huh, Ryan? :)

How far apart will Henry and Gotham be?

Rarely more than fifty feet, I’d guess… oh, you mean age-wise? My bad. Henry will be a little more than three months shy of being 3 years old when Gotham makes his/her grand entrance.

Are you hoping for a girl this time?

Gotham would make an excellent name for a little girl, don’t you think?

Do you have any real names picked out yet?

I’m still pulling for a Xerxes or a Hurricane.

What’s the best thing about being pregnant?

Getting to wear stretchy pants and snugger shirts that show off my belly without feeling like I seriously need to go on a diet or something. I love the way I look when I am pregnant!

What’s the worst thing about being pregnant?

Unexpected sneezes. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, count yourself lucky.

How is the second pregnancy different than the first?

Lord have mercy on all pregnant women who have toddlers. I’ve been at home with Henry this summer while Ryan teaches summer school, and Henry is a very willful and high-energy kid, and that can be tough to wrangle when you’re exhausted, overheated, and nauseated. Some days I count it as a triumph if I actually put in my contacts, much less getting dressed!

The flip side of that is, I don’t have as much time, etc., to dwell on this pregnancy. When I was pregnant with Henry, there wasn’t a single second of the day that I wasn’t on some level thinking about the baby-to-be. I would talk to him (usually in my head, because gestating babies are telepathic, doncha know) all day. This time, every so often I remember that there’s a baby in there! Which means I had to have forgotten! I’m unendingly conscious of my own bodily changes and discomforts, but their root cause gets pushed to the background by all the Henryness. (Should that be Henriness? Possibly…)

Are you excited?

Sooooo excited.

Is Henry excited?

Henry is excited by Sesame Street characters, Thomas the Tank Engine, unsupervised cell phones, and peanut butter treats. He is, as far as I can grok, utterly oblivious to future threats arrivals.

What questions — serious or silly — didn’t get addressed? Ask them and I’ll add them!

 

 

Henry Update, July 2015 Edition :)

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I am always thinking that I ought to be “journaling” about Henry’s growing-up, and then when I actually finally sit down at a computer I never know exactly what to say! This is probably going to be a slightly boring and inane post unless you are just curious about what is going on in the life of my kidlet, but it is what it is.

Henry turned 2 this May but is tall enough, and has a look to him, that people tend to assume that he is 3. Since he’s still VERY two in his behavior and speech, that can make for some awkward “judgmental stranger” moments! It can be hard for me to remember that he’s really just a baby, sometimes — a long-legged, willful, faster-every-day baby. He’s in a bit of a snuggly phase right now, which is so nice. He loves to back up across the room and then run as fast as he can at Ryan or me, crashing into us with a huge smile and saying “Boom!” If we put on Sesame Street or one of hugglemonster chairhis other shows, he’ll often come sit in our lap to watch, if he’s not playing with something or sitting in his Hugglemonster chair. He loves the “finger spider” game and will take my hand and put it on him so that I’ll tickle him.

In the past couple of weeks, Henry’s imagination has blazed into life. I think it was triggered by me bringing home a lightly pre-loved Cookie Monster Count N Crunch toy. The only stuffed animals Henry had ever paid attention to were the ones who moved and sang/played music, and this one was his favorite Sesame Street character. You open his mouth and put in a plastic cookie, and Cookie Monster wiggles and says something in response. Henry LOVED it and soon progressed from feeding it the approved plastic cookies to sharing his own food — and drinks, yikes! — and ultimately anything he could get to fit in its mouth. Including my big hairclip that turned him into Cookie Cthulhu.

Cookie Monster

And from there, it just took off. Out of nowhere, he noticed his non-electronic stuffed animals. He danced with a plush Superman doll, had conversations with an oversized dinosaur, hugged his Hugglemonster — and went, almost overnight, from liking Scout because of all the different buttons and songs, to cuddling, toting around, and really being attached to Scout even when Scout wasn’t doing anything.

And then the LEGOs! (Technically Mega Blox or Duplo or whatever, I suppose.) Henry had always just thought they were excellent things to throw across the room. Then one day I turned my back for thirty seconds at my parents’ house, and when I turned around he had pulled out a bucket of blocks and built a tower. I didn’t know he even knew how to fit them together! Now he’s a budding LEGO maniac, and it’s so fun to watch him work with them. For a few days he would be utterly devastated when a tower fell down or broke — I’m talking full-on meltdown with enormous tears — but it wasn’t long before he was anticipating structural issues, holding a hand behind a wobbly bit to catch it before it fell, gently readjusting unstable bits until they caught their balance.

lego 1The entire time he plays with LEGOs, he has the most serious look on his face. He carefully picks out which block he wants next (his favorites are the 2x1s), adds it to the tower, steps back, examines his work, and then often circles the tower to check it out from every angle. He’ll get down on his hands and knees or even his stomach and look up at the tower from below. Then he’ll carefully pick another piece and do it again.

One time, his grandpa built a tower. We started to take it down later so Henry could have the blocks, and he pitched a fit — so we put it back the way it was, and he spent several minutes examining it as he built his own tower next to it, copying some elements… I am not going to say that Henry is going to grow up to be an engineer, because I was very block-oriented like this as a kid too and look how I turned out, but right now he is definitely being a junior engineer.

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Speaking of engineers, he’s very fond of Thomas the Tank Engine. Whenever he sees one of the engines he lights up and says, “It’s a Thomas!” His grandmommy has several of them from garage sales and whatnot, and he likes to line them up in neat little rows and, again, examine them. Woe be to anyone who disturbs those neat little rows, too! (The picture below is one of his earliest lines and is less fastidiously perfect than his current ones. I tried to turn the first Thomas around to match the others and he absolutely wailed.) Are all toddlers this OCD?

lining up thomas

Unfortunately, his current favorite game is to find a piece of furniture that he can get behind — say, a coffee table or a sofa in the middle of a room — and throw everything he can find over said object. I’ve given up at home, and by the time Ryan gets home from summer school the loveseat is generally completely covered with blocks, toy instruments, stuffed animals, sippie cups, my stuff, you name it. Nothing I’ve tried has put any brakes on this behavior, so I’m just waiting it out. Surely the novelty will wear off eventually, right?

Henry’s speech is much better but there are still some issues. He has a LOT of words and phrases but doesn’t use them to communicate needs, which is probably more frustrating for him than anyone else. He just loses his poo when he wants something, and we have to calm him down before we can get him to think logically about it, and the only way to calm him down is to give him the thing that he wants, so he never ends up actually asking for it. I’m not sure what to think or do about that. Speech therapy was frustrating and pretty useless for us, I think. We were going to completely cancel it but now I’m wondering if we should just request a different therapist? Ours seemed very knowledgeable but she was patronizing to us, rarely available due to medical issues, and never really interacted with Henry in any way that seemed to have any purpose. And the “homework” she gave us had zero impact on him — the progress he made just happened, and even when we reported all of the exciting bounds he’d made, she just poo-poohed them and said it wasn’t the right progress. Pretty disheartening. I really don’t think we got anything valuable from the process, and I sorta believe that everything is going to sort itself out at this point, but I WOULD like him to be able to tell me “eat” or “drink” BEFORE the meltdown.

He is, however, very good at telling me (or anyone else, or inanimate objects) “Stop it!” when something happens that he doesn’t like, or doesn’t happen that he would have liked. The other day he bopped his head on a table, turned to it, and admonished it to “Stop it!” That was pretty funny. Oh, and this morning he decided that Paisley was not a “dog” or a “doggy” but a “fuck.” What in the world. I promise we haven’t been using that word to describe our pets, even though they might deserve it!

I gotta say, I’m not worried about his intelligence — and related to the whole “not convinced he’ll be an engineer” thing, his musical intelligence blows me away. He knows the hand movements to “Popcorn Popping on the Apricot Tree” and “Patty Cake,” as well as “I’m Bringing Home a Baby Bumblebee” (he knows all of the words to that one, too). He also knows the ABC song, and can identify all of the letters out of context, including on signs and stuff. He knows “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” AND recognizes that it has the same tune as the ABCs, sometimes mashing the two into one song. He knows “How Much is that Doggy in the Window” although he generally only does the barking part — in rhythm, and at a perfectly tuned fifth interval every time — and “Chattanooga Choo Choo.” There are others, too, that I’m forgetting right this moment. He likes to play the piano, and when he does there is a certain musicality to it that might almost be a little frightening. He doesn’t bang on it just to enjoy the noise; he picks out notes and moves up and down the keyboard, rarely dissonant, and when he plays more than one note and once they’re often at pleasant intervals. I’m not a string player so I have a hard time getting my mind around the idea that you can start kids on violin at 3 — will Henry possibly have the self-control to not destroy a violin when he’s 3??? — but I’m eager to see how his musical abilities develop as he gets bigger.

He’s, uh, very not good at staying still. So many kids his age stick right with their parents, and if he’s not physically restrained he’s GONE. He’s very energetic and investigative and playful, and any hallway or open space screams “racetrack” to him. It’s a little exhausting for his geriatric parents, and we’re working to improve this behavior, but it’s hard. Did I mention how willful he is? I don’t know what the best way to teach a semi-verbal kid about boundaries and prohibited activities is. I know a swat on the bottom might get a message through but we’ve not done that and I’d prefer not to. So it’s kind of a constant thing. I’m definitely learning that there are vastly different personality types in little toddlers. Some kids are clingers and some are runners. Some will follow the line of kids marching in a circle to the music, and some will sit in the middle of the circle until the music stops and then do their own dance. Some want to sit in your lap during storytime and some want to go take the book away from the librarian.

Ryan is teaching summer school for two months and I’m taking this opportunity to realize that I’m probably glad I’m not a SAHM because it is SERIOUSLY HARD WORK to take care of a 2-year-old all day by yourself! Wow! Part of the trouble, of course, is that it has been so hot (and I’ve been under the weather) that we’ve had to spend more time indoors than is probably strictly good for an energetic little boy. This may be related to the throwing-toys game — someone just needs to go outside and run some laps! And someone ELSE needs to come and follow him, because I can’t keep him up with the little munchkin! :)

I can’t even begin to articulate how much respect I have for full-time parents who don’t work outside of the home, especially those who are well and truly on their own. I’ve got it pretty good; it’s only 2 months, I’ve got full contingents of grandparents and aunts/uncle on call, and my reinforcements come home every evening and weekend. Full-time parents are definitely superheroes!

He drove the boat quite a ways on Lucky Peak a few weeks ago. He’s a real waterbaby!

boating

It’s impossible to know where to stop so I guess I’ll just stop here for now. :)

If You’d Been Born in a Different Decade…

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This is pointless and, as many pointless things are, pretty entertaining. And it tickles all my most ticklish geek-bones…. yay!

Time has taken the updated Social Security Administration’s list of popular baby names and created a most elucidating widget. You plug in your name, birth year, and gender. It figures out what rank your name had in that year (for example, my name was the 35th most popular girl’s name given in the year I was born). Then it references the popularity lists for all available decades and tells you what your name would have been, if you had been born then, and if your parents had chosen the name in the same rank spot. Because, obviously, parents pick baby names based on which “place” they’re in, not the way they look or sound or what they mean or who else has them. :)

That doesn’t make a lot of sense when I write it out, does it. I should just show you.

So basically, my name was the 35th most popular girl’s name in 1980. If I were born today, and my parents gave me the 35th most popular girl’s name, my name would be Leah.

Applying similar standards to the entire decade, going back a century:

  • If I had been born in the 2000s, my name would have been Bailey (haha; that was my grandmother’s male doggy’s name)
  • If I had been born in the 1990s, my name would have been Christine
  • If I had been born in the 1980s, my name would have been Susan (really? I don’t know anyone my age named Susan…)
  • If I had been born in the 1970s, my name would have been Renee
  • If I had been born in the 1960s, my name would have been Lynn
  • If I had been born in the 1950s, my name would have been Elaine
  • If I had been born in the 1940s, my name would have been Ruby (and how cute would that have been, with red hair?)
  • If I had been born in the 1930s, my name would have been Bernice
  • If I had been born in the 1920s, my name would have been Eva
  • If I had been born in the 1910s, my name would have been Marion
  • If I had been born in the 1900s, my name would have been Jennie (interesting; I don’t think of this as being a “vintage” name)
  • If I had been born in the 1890s, my name would have been Nora

I decided to do the same trick to Ryan. Turns out his name was the 14th most popular name in his birth year. If he were born today, his name would be Aiden and I would have never dated him based on that alone. :)

  • 2000s: Christian
  • 1990s: Kyle
  • 1980s: Kevin
  • 1970s: Paul
  • 1960s: Ronald
  • 1950s: Stephen
  • 1940s: Gerald
  • 1930s: Raymond
  • 1920s: Arthur
  • 1910s: Fred
  • 1900s: Arthur
  • 1890s: Albert

So if you like names as much as I do, you should go find out what your other names would be, and share your favorite (and its decade) in the comments. I think if I had to choose one of my alternative names, I’d throw way back to the 1890s (Nora, which is an increasingly popular name right now on its own) or possibly try Elaine (1950s) on for size. Not sure why but those are the two that are appealing to me right this moment. And obviously Ryan would have to be Arthur.