Sunday, November 11

Nablopomo: Day Eleven

Teeth! Finally!

Matilda is what they (and by "they" I mean whoever it is that sets these standards) call a "late teether." This is one possible explanation for her being such an exceptionally well-behaved baby. As of her first birthday she had only one little bottom tooth poking out. As of today she has five--both bottom center, both top center, and one top side, with a little bubble already forming for the other top side. Just as I'd feared--because she waited so long, they are all coming in at one time. It doesn't seem to bother her much, though. In fact, she is having lots of fun with her new chompers. She likes biting things--crackers, books, Mama--and she especially likes making the world's most horrible noise by grinding her teeth together. I'm not sure if she's suffering from severe baby stress or what, but it is a horrible habit, and I'm not really sure what, if anything, to do about it.

Has anyone else out there in the blogosphere had this problem? Is my baby going to grind her new teeth down into little nubs?

We've also started a dental health regimen--that is, we're teaching M. to brush her teeth.

Agh! GRANDMA TONNA! What are you doing!

Oh, okay GRANDMA TONNA, I think I got this now.

Tooth brushing pro!

This post dedicated to GRANDMA TONNA. If you do not understand why GRANDMA TONNA is in all caps, then you are not GRANDMA TONNA.

Saturday, November 10

Nablopomo: Day Ten

So far, so good!

For today's post, a fun game. Go here. The game is easy. When you see one of the differences between the two pictures, click it. I recommend playing in full screen mode. Very addicting.

Happy Weekend!

Friday, November 9

Nablopomo: Day Nine

Another rewind...

Last month we made our annual trip to Apple Hill near Placerville. Last year Matilda was just a teeny little thing, but this year she was big enough to have some real fun! We started out at High Hill Ranch to get some apple cider milkshakes. M. shared our milkshakes with us (if grunting in a way that says "Hand over the milkshakes and nobody gets hurt" constitutes sharing).

After sucking down everone's milkshake, she was full of enough strength and energy to wrangle a bear.

(Ignore the red-headed woman behind the bear.)

Then she took a pony ride...

"Faster, pony! Faster!"

But most of all, she developed a deep and abiding love for pumpkins...

Big pumpkins...
Little pumpkins...Fake pumpkins...And medium pumpkins.
"Pumpkin! Get in my belly!"

My daughter, the gourdophile.

Thursday, November 8

Nablopomo: Day Eight

This is Count Strahd Von Zarovich, Terrorizer of Barovia, Dark Lord of Castle Ravenloft.

And he is dead. We killed him last night at my dining room table. It took us a year of Wednesday nights, but he is turned to dust, the castle is cleansed, and Barovia is saved.

Just one step closer to winning the War on Terror.

You're welcome.


Wednesday, November 7

Nablopomo: Day Seven

The nice thing about not having blogged in two months is that I have so many pictures to catch up on! So far I am not at a loss for things to post about for Nablopomo. (We'll see if that holds true twenty days from now.) Here is our trip to the San Diego Zoo back in October after our trip to Mexico.

Matilda rides a tortuga. (I know, it's so REAL, right?)

Here she makes friends with an orangutan...

...and some fish.

And of course we must pet all the bronze animals.

M. gets some tips from a baby monkey on how best to cling to Mama.

Tuesday, November 6

Nablopomo: Day Six

My Dad lives in Mexico. He and my uncles and my cousin Darrin all went in together a couple years back to buy this little house as a vacation getaway.

After his retirement became official, Dad decided to live down there full time. Many people ask where in Mexico my Dad lives, but it's hard to explain because he doesn't really live by any major city. Dad lives in Campo del Prado. Here is the turnoff:

In case that doesn't pinpoint it for you, how about this?

No? Okay, let's just say that my Dad lives in Eastern Baja, near the armpit of where baja connects to the rest of Mexico, in the Colorado River delta, or rather, where the Colorado River delta would be if the Colorado still ran free but which is now miles and miles of mud flats and irrigation canals. He lives on the Rio Hardy, a tributary of the Colorado. Here is the Rio Hardy as seen from my Dad's back porch:

Lovely, no?

This is my Dad and his girlfriend Delia, who, as you can see, Matilda became quite enamored with on our trip down there in October.

Delia does not have a travel visa, so this was the first time we got to meet her. My cousin Darrin came down for the weekend, too, and I got to spend quality time with him in the cantina down the river:
At first we fought a heated ping pong battle between us, but then we realized that we were, in fact, family, and that our powers were better utilized as a united team rather than as individual adversaries. Here Darrin intimidates the opponents of Team Sangster, the all-powerful pong alliance.

During our visit, Dad took us to San Felipe to enjoy the beach. He bought Matilda a couple of little Mexican dresses. Here she models one of them:

I know, I know, she looks like a tiny little Mexican, right? I better keep an eye out for the INS now that I've posted this on the internet, as they are sure to be breaking down my door to drag M. back to Mexico.

Monday, November 5

Nablopomo: Day Five

Some of you may have noticed that the first five days of Nablopomo got posted at once. Yes, I cheated. But only because I was reading a book SO GOOD that I could not possibly put it down to blog. One of my favorite books in the world is Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth, and this month a sequel was released! Twenty years later! World Without End was so delicious that I just wanted to lick it up and down until the pages were soggy...all 1014 of them. I highly recommend it. If medieval historical fiction involving lots of evil noblemen, corrupt priests, and horny nuns is your thing, you should definitely pick it up. In the spirit of this recommendation, I thought I would use today's post to present you with a list of my top ten favorite books of all time. In no particular order:

The Lord of the Rings: Obviously. I read The Hobbit for the first time when I was in the third grade, and it totally rocked my world. The Lord of the Rings followed in the fourth grade, and I am not exaggerating when I say that it influenced my life. It could be argued that these books are why I became a literature major. If you haven't read these books, well, you are incomplete.

The Stand: Not only Stephen King's best work, but also a great work of literature. I know such things should not be said about King, especially by a scholar like myself, but I think this book will stand the test of time as one of the 20th century's great books.

The Pillars of the Earth: This book centers around the building of a cathedral in medieval England. Sounds boring, I know, but it is so addicting you'll want to liquify it and inject it into your veins directly. Warning, this book contains lots of graphic violence and sex...not for the queasy.

Prince of Tides: If you have only ever seen the piece-of-crap movie starring the ridiculously mis-cast Barbara Streisand, you must read this book. It is SO much better than the movie! If you haven't seen the movie--don't. You'll only waste time you could have spent reading the book. I made my mom read this book last year, and she said, "I love this book so much I wish it would just go on forever and I would never have to read another book."

Ahab's Wife: A gorgeous novel that tells the story of Ahab's mysterious wife who is only given one paragraph in the whole of Moby Dick. Not an easy read, but a worthwhile one. So passionate!

Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass: This book probably began my obsession with British culture and my obsession with fantasy. I have loved it for as long as I can remember, and it is one of those rare books that is just as great when you read it as an adult.

Into Thin Air: Sometimes truth is better than fiction. This book is so exciting and tragic that it reads like a novel, and then the fact that what you're reading is a true story sinks in and takes your breath away.

The Belgariad: Kind of like Lord of the Rings Jr., this series of books is the story about a boy who finds he is descended from great wizards. (What do they say about there being no original stories?) These books are just a lot of fun.

Anne of Green Gables: On the required reading list for every girl, and still one of my favorite books. Anne is one of literature's great heroines.

Mists of Avalon: This Arthurian epic wakes up the feminist in you and feeds it well. An intriguing book about the women of the legends of King Arthur. I adore anything Arthurian, anyways, but this book is my favorite.

I'm sure there are many books I have missed--I kind of threw this list together with the first ten books that sprang to mind. The astute amongst you may notice that most of my favorite books fall under the "bestseller" category rather than the "classics" category. I'm sure that a literature scholar should come up with a far more sophisticated range of favorite books, but the truth is, the books I love the most are the ones I can lose myself in, not the ones that make me think. There are lots of classics I adore, though, such as Moby Dick, Beowulf, Lady Chatterley's Lover, The Fountainhead, To Kill a Mockingbird, Heart of Darkness, Fahrenheit 451, and Love in the Time of Cholera. Damnit, let's just say that I can't possibly narrow it down to ten, or that I should have several different lists...but all the above books are really, REALLY good!

Sunday, November 4

Nablopomo: Day Four

Now for something a little lighter...

Rewind to late September and Matilda's first visit to a farm. We took a trip out to Fallon with the Atamians to visit Lattin Farms, a cool place to do Autumn-y type things.

Matilda made friends with some goats, although she wasn't allowed to handle any goat food because she found it so tasty herself...

...and where we got lost for a ridiculously long time trying to navigate this deceptively difficult corn maze. I found it suprising that they didn't send us in there with some flairs.

It was also at Lattin Farms where Matilda tried for the first time and became immediately addicted to...

Saturday, November 3

Nablopomo: Day Three

In case Nablopomo hasn't been depressing enough so far, here's another one:

July 1996-October 2007

Good Boy

Friday, November 2

Nablopomo: Day Two

In the interest of full disclosure, I feel that I should let everybody know that I quit my Ph.D. program. This happened a few months ago, but it is one of those things that one really has to come to terms with oneself before announcing it to the world. I don't know if I have really come to terms with it, but I am least ready to let people know. Here are my reasons for this decision:

  1. I was so far behind in my studies. I don't feel badly about this because I have lots of good reasons for not being right on track with my program. Getting engaged, getting married, going through infertility treatments, and having a baby are all little snags that slowed me other words, life happened to me while I was trying to pursue a Ph.D., and I was not willing to put life on hold until after my doctorate came through.
  2. I lost my fellowship. Well, I didn't lose it, it just expired (see number one). It's a lot harder to go to school when you actually have to pay for it. Especially when you just had a baby and your husband is supporting the whole family. Plus, without a fellowship I am no longer teaching, and teaching is my one big motivation to do this job. Without it, I have completely lost my passion for my studies.
  3. I already have the degree that I need to do the job I want to do. I have always wanted to teach at the community college level. My passion is for teaching, not for scholarship, and if I got a job at the university level my teaching would be considered secondary. I have only ever wanted to teach at a CC where I don't have the pressure of being published and can put all of my energy into being the best teacher I can be. I only need an M.A. for that. I only ever went into the Ph.D. program to make myself more marketable and to raise my earning potential. At this point, I just want to get hired and start teaching full time. I'm sick of being a student.
  4. I am pessimistic about the job market. My experience with going on the job market last year was pretty miserable, and I hear the same sort of stories from folks who HAVE their Ph.D. If someone could guarantee that if I finished up my doctorate I would have a job waiting for me, I would absolutely do it. However, I would feel doubly miserable if I put all that time and energy and money into completing my program and then be no better off than I am now.
  5. There are many women who can raise a baby and complete a dissertation at the same time. I am not one of those women. Shit, I can't even keep this damn blog up to date.
Although all of the above reasons are pretty good ones, and my advisor agrees with me and feels I'm making the right decision, I still feel pretty miserable about it. Obviously, I feel like a HUGE failure, and that the fact that I am half a doctor will hang over my head for the rest of my life, not to mention a fuckload of student loan debt. Also, I feel so stupid for ever leaving Southern California--the only reason we moved to Reno is so that I could get this degree, and now we're kind of stuck here. It's times like this that you just have to believe that things happen for a reason. I really do miss my teaching terribly, though, and would give anything to be back in the classroom again.

Thursday, November 1

Nablopomo: Day One

So because I did such a great job of it last year, I have signed up to do Nablopomo again. I dunno, I guess I like to set myself up for failure. This is especially apparent because I have not posted anything in nearly two months and now I think I can start posting every day. Uh huh.

So today is day one. I will start with an apology for my extended absence. There are many reasons, but it all boils down to: I have just not felt like blogging. Plus, I have this huge post that I have been working on to commemorate Matilda's first birthday (back in September), and it's still not finished. One of my greatest character flaws is my inability to move on when I have been unable to perfectly complete some other huge task I have set for myself. Because I had not perfected the first birthday post, I was incapable of writing anything else. This has always been a problem. I remember in the sixth grade we were all assigned to draw pictures of dragons. (For the life of me, I cannot remember why we were assigned this particular task.) Everyone else in the class finished their drawings in a couple of days and all of the results were tacked up around the room. I, on the other hand, had to create this intricate portrait of a warrior princess fighting a serpentine water dragon--a fantastic and complex undertaking that would have been the greatest dragon in the class if I had ever finished it. As it was, I was never able to get it JUST RIGHT and so it sat in the bottom of my desk for the rest of the school year, never to be admired on the classroom wall.

I get a lot of compliments on those things in life that I do manage to complete to my strict standards--compliments about how everything I bother doing is done so well. This is nice to hear, but people don't understand that for everything they see that looks so good are a dozen other projects frustrating the hell out of me because I cannot get them JUST RIGHT. These failures haunt me to the point of incapacitation. I go two months without posting a blog entry because I cannot get that last one to be perfect. This is the mixed blessing of being OCD...the things that you manage to finish are exquisite, but the things that are less than exquisite sit in the bottom of your desk mocking you and undermining your joy about those other accomplishments. There is a very fine line between meticulous and neurotic.