Please Don't Report Us to Child Services

We've managed to more or less get Jason on a sleep schedule. It seems to be working pretty well--he gets a bath at 7:30 every night, then Juliette reads to him and puts him in his pajamas, then she puts him down at 8. He usually falls asleep in less time than it takes her to walk from his room to the living room. It's great because we get some time in the evenings to catch up on chores and spend some time together, and he sleeps right through the night. He does wake up earlier than we'd like most days--usually around 5:30--but Juliette is up by then on the weekdays anyway and he actually sleeps later than that often enough that I'm hoping the early rising is something he'll grow out of.

The one problem, though, is that it's often hard to get him to wait until 7:30 to start his bedtime routine. Especially if he hasn't had a late nap, or if the nap he did have was short, Jason starts getting tired around 6:30. Usually that means he's fussy, though lately we have been able to keep him entertained enough to distract him. If he's really tired, though, sometimes we get a scene like this:

I'm pretty sure that the fact that we're laughing in the video means we are terrible people.

King's Shield

By Sherwood Smith

As you may know from my previous reviews, I loved the first two books in this series, Inda and The Fox. As luck would have it, my copy of King's Shield arrived in the mail the very same day that I finished The Fox, and I was very excited to dive into the next book. Unfortunately, something changed between the two books and I found myself not liking this one quite as much. Don't get me wrong, King's Shield is still pretty good. But I just wasn't captivated by it in the same way that I was by the first two installments.

I'm not sure exactly what it was about this one that didn't do it for me. The characters are still complex and they've grown in ways that make sense. The writing hasn't changed, and the pacing is still good, with action happening in all the right places. Maybe it was the change in focus. The first two books are very much about the principal characters growing up. This one is much more about political intrigue and war. I guess I also didn't really like the way the character Sponge changed--the changes are plausible, but I found that I didn't really care for the adult he became.

Whatever it was that rubbed me the wrong way about book three, I'm still very much looking forward to Treason's Shore, the fourth and, I believe, final episode of the series.

Started: 1/31/2009 | Finished: 2/11/2009

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Still Getting the Hang of It

A couple of weeks ago Jason finally started showing interest in solid foods, and we got some video of one of his first really good meals. These days he's up to three meals a day, and he often gets through an entire container of baby food.

On a mostly unrelated note, Jason's second tooth showed up today. Hopefully they'll be visible in pictures before too long.

A Tooth!

Jason has been extra fussy for the past few nights, for no reason that we could quite figure out. He would continue to fuss even after being changed and fed, but unlike before, he didn't have a fever or a particularly stuffy nose, and nothing else seemed to be wrong. But he has been extra-drooly lately, so Juliette and I thought that perhaps he might have a tooth coming in.


Last night started off a little rough as Jason had a poop escape his diaper in a massive way--it ran all down his legs and up his back, got all over his clothes and onto his Exersaucer. A little bit even got into his hair, I think. This is mainly our fault for leaving him in his Exersaucer without any pants. I have no idea why, but being in that thing makes him poop. It's incredibly reliable. Any time we need him to poop, we just stick him in there and a couple of minutes later, it's done. Maybe he thinks it's a toilet or something. Last night he was certainly grunting like it was.

But back to the story at hand. We eventually got him cleaned up (and the Exersaucer) and managed to sit down for dinner. Lately, we've been starting to put him in the high chair while we eat, giving him a toy or pacifier or a piece of fruit in his safe feeder. When it works, it's great, because we finally get a chance to both eat at the same time, rather than trading off holding Jason and rushing through our meal. But, the past couple of nights, as I mentioned, he's been too fussy. Juliette managed to hold him on her lap while we ate last night, which of course meant that Jason spent most of his time trying to get her hand into his mouth. I was just starting to clean up when she exclaimed, "I think you've got a tooth in there!" I rushed over and felt around and, sure enough, there was the beginning of a tooth poking through his gum--the bottom left front tooth, to be more precise. I tried to get a look, but between the tooth being so small and Jason being uncooperative I could barely see it.

It's all moving so fast, it's hard to keep up. This week, a tooth. Next week, I'm betting he'll be asking for the car keys.

Slumdog Millionaire

This year, our best friends gave me and Juliette gift certificates for a night at the movies for Christmas, along with a promise to babysit while we were out. As you might have guessed from the steep drop-off in movie reviews over the last six months, this was a real treat for us. What with the Oscars coming up and all of the attendant buzz, the choice of what to see was a little daunting, but we were able to narrow it down pretty quickly to either The Curious Case of Benjamin Button or Slumdog Millionaire. Benjamin Button being over two and a half hours long, we opted for Slumdog. Well, I don't know how Benjamin Button would have been, but this was a fantastic choice for our night out.

On the off chance you haven't heard of this one--it won four Golden Globes and got ten Oscar nominations, so people have been talking about it a lot--Slumdog Millionaire is the story of a young man, Jamal, who makes it onto the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? At the opening of the film Jamal is one question shy of winning the top prize of twenty million rupees but has been arrested on suspicion of cheating because of the incredulity of an uneducated kid from the Mumbai slums being able to correctly answer so many trivia questions. Much of the rest of the story is told in flashback, showing scenes from Jamal's life that explain how he knew the answers to the specific questions he was asked.

I have to say, I loved this movie. The look it gave into life in the Mumbai slums was gut-wrenching, but there were also laughs and love. None of the performances really stood out as particularly amazing--though I did appreciate Irfan Khan's turn as the police inspector who interrogates Jamal--but everyone was competent, and the story was so compelling, and both Juliette and I left the theater feeling good.

A final note: Slumdog won the Golden Globe for best score, and is nominated for the Oscar in the same category, and I heartily agree with both. The music in this film was just great, and I plan on getting the soundtrack as soon as I have some spare cash.

Viewed: 1/31/2009 | Released: 11/12/2008 | Score: A

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The Fox

By Sherwood Smith

Whew. Seven hundred seventy-four pages in four days should tell you something about how much I liked this book. Picking up right where the first book left off, The Fox had everything I liked about Inda but moreso.

The first book gave us a glimpse at a very rich and interesting world, but most of the major characters are all from the same country, and even when we later get introduced to the wider world through Inda's sea travels, most of his time is spent aboard ship, so all we get of the rest of the world is through bits of dialogue here and there. By contrast, in The Fox, Smith brings us to all kinds of new places, each one with a strongly developed history and flavor, each with plausible national interests and goals. Smith presents them in such a way that you get an idea of the individual culture of each place, but she does it without resorting to the kind of flat stereotyping you so often see in big fantasy worlds.  (You know, where everybody from this country is a greedy merchant and everybody from that country is a strong, savage warrior.) The characters and personal relationships introduced at every new place seem genuine and relatable.

The strong character development in the first novel continues in the second, especially in the protagonist. His transition to adulthood is handled very skillfully--you recognize both the child you first met and the ways in which his life has shaped him in the man he becomes. And, as before, you get to see so much of the inner workings of even relatively minor characters that they all come to life in a really compelling way.

Further, for a relatively long book, it's very well paced. Events are neither drawn out nor rushed, but everything seems to happen right when it should. I was certainly never bored--I could hardly put the book down!

In fact, the only problem I had was that I was so into this book that I had trouble keeping up with the other stuff I wanted to do--the hard drive on my Tivo, for example, is getting pretty full. I thought I might get a little break after this book, but, to both my delight and chagrin, the Amazon shipment containing the next installment, King's Shield, arrived on the same day I finished The Fox. So, it looks like I'm going to stay busy for a while. The fourth book isn't scheduled to come out until August, so on the one hand I'll have a little time to catch up on the rest of my life, but on the other hand I know the waiting is going to bug me.

Started: 1/26/2009 | Finished: 1/30/2009

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