Minecraft, Kids and Imaginations

I wore myself out today! I have been making a point to take Noah out for an hour a day, at least, so he can work off some of this energy that’s been making him an annoying – but still cute – pain in the butt. I love him, but four year olds have so much energy and if they get too pent up, they start to bounce off of the walls… possibly literally.

My brother and his friend were nice enough to come over and play with us so we went outside and ended up playing tag, in a sense, with a Minecraft spin. All of us, including Noah, play Minecraft. It’s pretty fun, especially if you like Legos, so Noah and I were “super humans” with our hands held and we chased the “zombie” and the “skeleton” (Gregory and Alex). The boys fashioned swords out of tree branches (to my motherly unease, but kids will be kids) and Alex made a bow from some greener branches he found on the ground. It was pretty creative, honestly! I loved seeing them use their imaginations and working together to bring a fun game from the computer to life.

Here’s Noah, after tackling his uncle, the zombie:

I’m not used to running around any more, though, which I’m honestly sad to say. I need to work on that, but hopefully swimming this summer will restore some of my endurance. I couldn’t swim much last summer because I was too nauseated with morning sickness. Fun stuff, that. Blech.

I did have a lot of fun playing with my imagination. I live in my mind quite a bit, as someone who likes to read and daydream, but I don’t often share my imagination with others. I don’t know if it’s too awkward or that I’m just shy – I’m definitely introverted – but breaking out of my shell to play was fun. There’s nothing quite like kids to make you think out of the box and seeing the world through Noah’s eyes has been an adventure in exactly that.

I wonder what it will be like, looking through Olivia’s?

First Playdate and GCDC

We have had a busy week! For others, it probably seemed pretty low key but for homebodies like us, we like being with each other at home.

Still, every now and then I like to get out with friends, so Liv had her first playdate last Sunday. Liv is three months old now (really??) and Avery is 8 months old so there is a bit of an age difference but in a few months, it won’t matter as much.

However, as soon as Pam (Avery’s mom) and I got to talking, Olivia found her favorite two fingers and fell asleep. Avery wanted to play, but she seemed content playing with the wall puzzle (?) while we watched her. Such a cute little girl!

 

It’s nice to have friends, isn’t it? ;) It’s so funny to me to see the side-by-side picture, though. Olivia is huge! She weighed 14 pounds last week and she’s about 22″ long. Mind you, she was born at just under 7 pounds, so evidently my kids just do not want to be small. Ah well; as long as they’re healthy.

Afterwards, it was my aunt’s birthday so I went by there and Liv was played with by most of my extended family. I didn’t get as many pictures as I would have liked, but here are two with her aunt Alexa.

WordPress cannot decide if it’s going to rotate pictures properly or not. Sorry about the random orientation issues.

Anyway, as I’m already doing a picture post, since I haven’t had much leftover brain power this week to write anything (just one of those weeks, really), I’ll go ahead and share the ones from The Great Cloth Diaper Change too.

The GCDC is an event intended to bring awareness to the world about modern cloth diapers. Most people, when they think about cloth diapers, they picture flats (the very big flat blanket that you fold up), pins, and plastic pants. They don’t know about pockets, which are pretty much like a disposable except without the chemicals and you can adjust absorbency. (Meaning one type of absorbency for a couple of hours during the day and a totally different type of absorbency for overnight.) They don’t know about All-in-Ones that don’t even require stuffing. They might know about prefolds, but not that they have super easy Snappis and very cute covers (like Thirsties or Blueberries).

So this event was started last year and it’s now an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records. Adult/baby teams all over the world get prepared and change diapers at exactly the same time. That can mean 11:30 AM in Texas or 12:30 PM in New York. It meant 5:30 PM in London and even later in other participating countries! But we did it; we joined up in groups of 25 or more (the minimum for a location to count towards the record) and had chats and changed diapers. The location I went to today, Rite of Passage in Pearland, had 44 pairs! There were swag bags (mine was pink, woohoo!) and raffles and vendors with really cute stuff. My mother even bought Olivia a couple of bows that she modeled as soon as she got home:

These bows are by Cute, Cuter! Bows and Clippies and they seem really well made. I’m looking forward to getting a few more. They’re put on alligator clips so they can be attached to a headband for smaller babies. I never thought I’d be a “hair bow mom” but they’re just so cute. I’m a sucker for cute. ;)

Cute stuff aside, I had fun today. My mother went with me, so she was able to help me wrangle Olivia and the bags and see all kinds of cute diapers with even cuter babies in them. We saw all kinds of baby carriers, nursing moms…if it’s natural-parenting related, it was probably there! It was really nice to feel “normal” for once, among other cloth diapering, breastfeeding, babywearing moms. Usually I get some flack for cloth diapering (even from Liv’s [old] doctor) or for nursing but that wasn’t an issue today. I met some great ladies and the event hostesses obviously worked very hard. I’m looking forward to next year and I can’t wait to see the results from this year.

I’ll leave you with a picture of Olivia right before the change:

Bittersweet Purging

There is always a sense of accomplishment when I get rid of stuff we no longer need. I feel a little more free and a lot less cluttered in my mind.

Unfortunately, sometimes it is a little bittersweet. One of the hardest things for me to declutter are my kids’ clothes. Noah’s aren’t so bad any more…he outgrows stuff about every year now, and it’s not a huge jump when he does (or it is, depending on how you look at it, I guess). Olivia’s are harder. She turned 3 months old this past Thursday and she’s transitioning into 6 month clothing. Yes, my little newborn barely-a-7-pounder is now 14 pounds and long and huge. Still itty bitty to hold compared to her brother at three months old, but huge.

However, as bittersweet as it is, it must be done. Thankfully, I can give a lot of it to my cousin, Michelle, who is expecting this June, because many things were “gender neutral” or “boyish” hand-me-downs from Noah. I saved some favorites, of course, but for the most part, there is a pretty big haul headed her way and most of it is in pristine condition because Noah wore it once and Liv wore it once or not at all. So there is a positive, definitely, in knowing that these clothes are going to my little nephew (technicalities aside).

Then there is the benefit of having more space, of course. I re-organized her drawers and hanging clothes and there is a lot more room for everything, which is nice. There is a whole range of sizes (newborn to 3 months) that I am no longer holding onto. There are a bunch of clothes that fit her but aren’t the nicest (like heavy staining) that I could get rid of, because we are blessed to have a good bit of clothes for her 6 month size to add to the “nice” 3 month stuff. My mom, grandmother, aunt and cousin Alexa have been especially sweet in picking out goodies for Olivia and then I found a good deal on Carter’s onesies.

So, yeah, I suppose there is an upside, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t going to shed a few tears over her rapidly disappearing newborn days. Three months is kind of a big one. Ah, babies. At least there is so much to look forward to.

Oh! And speaking of babies and gifts and clothes… a couple of weeks ago, I went to Michelle’s baby shower and got to feel her baby bump. Woohoo! I’m so excited for her and her husband. I mean, I felt that baby bump and I started to cry! Anyway, I bring this up because I forgot to post pictures at the time and my mom is probably reading this and thinking “Finally! She takes forever.” I love you, Mom. Now here are those pictures. =P

(Click to enlarge.)

And just for fun:

Easter Baby

Olivia spent her first Easter being cute all day:

She liked the egg hunt, too, but I’ll share those pictures later. Noah hammed it up, of course. As if I’m really surprised.

Review: The Hunger Games Trilogy

I started writing a review about The Hunger Games trilogy as soon as I finished reading them but I decided to sit on it for a little bit. I’ve been thinking about the books for a few days now, which says a lot, actually, because many books pass through your life and then they’re gone. I don’t think that will ever be the case for these, even if I’m not really a huge fan.

Suzanne Collins writes very well. Her writing is descriptive and full of emotion. It was easy to identify with Katniss and subtle word choices made it clear how characters were feeling or what they wanted others to think they were feeling. The plot was clear but there were enough twists and turns to get to the end that I wasn’t bored; in fact, I couldn’t put The Hunger Games down unless I absolutely had to. And, as a mother of two, I did have to. The upside is that the book was very easy to slip back into each time I picked it back up.

The Hunger Games would actually make a fantastic stand alone novel and in some ways, I feel like it should have been left as one, perhaps with a wrap up chapter. I would have wanted a sequel but I would rather be left wanting with a book than left wishing for better.

There ARE spoilers ahead.

I was completely absorbed within the first page. I rooted for Katniss and Peeta and Gale. I couldn’t decide who was better for Katniss. Gale was her long time friend and companion. He shared an interest in hunting and understood where she came from. On the other hand, Gale is full of an almost irresponsible anger at The Capitol and Peeta has a romantic streak that almost made Romeo and Juliet look like child’s play… and he skillfully uses this streak towards survival for both him and Katniss.

During the Games, I wanted to root for Katniss as the protagonist of the book but Peeta really caught my eye. Collins sets it up for the reader to root for both tributes (players in the Games) and I was eagerly turning the pages so I could see what happened. I couldn’t wait to find out if both of them could survive. I knew the other books featured Katniss and figured she would live, but I didn’t know anything about Peeta.

Basically, the first book…very good. I loved it. I looked forward to Catching Fire and Mockingjay (Mockingjays are a creature I absolutely adore, by the way) but unfortunately… I was disappointed.

Catching Fire started off strong. The reaping of the Quarter Quell (75th anniversary of the Hunger Games) had an excellent plot twist, though not a surprising one. Most of the new characters were fleshed out and given a history, though some did fall a little flat. Understandable, but still noticeable. I really liked some of the new characters introduced and I fell even more in love with previously introduced characters. I was intrigued by the description of the Arena and with the horrors contained within. I sympathized with the characters as they went through their emotional journeys (Spoiler: Finnick choosing Peeta over Mags, for example).

Somewhere around the 3/4th marker of the book, when they left the arena, I started to question the direction the book was taking. This is where Collins started to just pluck Katniss out of the line of fire and “fix” her situation, repeatedly. I was still happy by the end of Catching Fire, and eagerly looking forward to Mockingjay, but it was mostly because I was curious about Peeta’s situation, to be entirely honest with you. At this point, Katniss was somewhat on my nerves, even if her instinct for self-preservation was completely normal and understandable.

Once I settled into Mockingjay, I found myself waiting for word of Peeta, mostly. I kept reading because I always finish trilogies if I can, and because I usually love books. I should tell you: I’m not a very harsh critic when it comes to books. Good writing and a decent plot with interesting characters is all I need. Mockingjay, however… it seemed like most of it was spent with Katniss in some sort of mental breakdown or another. She was introduced as a strong – if a bit wild – character and she broke down mentally three times in Mockingjay. She pretty much became a pretty icon for the rebel’s cause instead of an actual leader, which is not what I expected. Why set up such a strong, enterprising character just to have her be reduced to a mentally unstable figurehead? I get that no one would be able to go through everything Katniss went through without scars but it seemed strange, to me. She spent most of Mockingjay as an angsty, irritable teenager who cared mostly about her best friend and the guy who loved her.

The plot was a little weak by this point too. The hubs (arena-like traps) were interesting and the characters that worked with Katniss really drew me into their lives but every time something went wrong, Katniss was “saved”. At the very end, after a long build up towards a battle with The Capitol and President Snow (where Katniss and her team spent a lot of time dodging traps or hiding out instead of fighting), there is an anti-climactic show down where Katniss wakes up, yet again, in a drug-induced daze.

I could actually deal with that part, because I felt for her pain, but when they pretty much closeted her up for months during a trial after an unexpected (but much welcomed) assassination, I was done being patient with the book. I got to read about what she ate, her withdrawal from painkillers (a morphine equivalent) and her thoughts, but nothing about her trial or why she was pardoned or anything of the sort. Then she’s sent home, where Peeta eventually shows up for a happily ever after with kids. The most honest part of the last 20 or so pages of that book was when it was mentioned that Katniss and Peeta both lived with what could almost be called PTSD.

If I seem a little harsh about Mockingjay, it’s only because I had such high hopes after reading The Hunger Games and enjoying most of Catching Fire. I’m not trying to be unnecessarily tough on the books and I will definitely watch the movies when they come out on DVD (plus, I like Jennifer Lawrence) but I can’t honestly say I’m a huge fan, even though these books are right up my alley.

I would still, however, recommend them to anyone interested. Most people I know happen to love all three books, and I understand why. I just feel that there are a lot of loose ends and “too convenient” wrap-ups to say that it finished strong.

And that is my long-winded opinion of The Hunger Games trilogy.