What’s Up These Days

Not writing about TTC is difficult because it’s majorly what’s going on in my life these days. So, I thought I’d share a few tidbits that aren’t terribly personal or filled with too much whining or reason for complaint, yet also allow me to give you a glimpse into my head right now. In other words, so I’m not feeling like a lying liar who lies about everything being peachy keen when it’s good, bad, and otherwise more complicated than that.


(I also cut my own hair. I’ll write more about that soon.)

// 1: I’m researching doctors/etc. around the area because I don’t jibe with my new midwife. I have only been to see her a handful of times, but she makes me feel like I’m crazy, whereas my old midwife used to listen with warm concern. (She moved to Oklahoma, so — frown face.) For example, I brought up my irritable uterus and she just flatly told me “Well, it will probably be worse. Sorry!” And maybe that’s true, BUT!  I don’t doubt her abilities, but I’d really like someone I’m comfortable with. I’m hearing wonderful things about an OB, but he delivers at the other hospital in town that I’m not at all familiar with. Decisions, decisions.

(Also: I’ve never had a male GYN or a doctor. Not that I’m opposed, I just hadn’t realized it until I started my search!)

// 2: My cycle remains totally weirdly off track. I know my body will take time to return to “normal” after the chemical (if it ever does), but holy heck I cannot believe how unpredictable things have gotten. I used to be almost textbook each month. So, thank goodness for digital OPKs, however expensive they may be. If you’ve never tried them, I’ve had good success the last two cycles with pinpointing ovulation when my fertile signs have otherwise disappeared (UGH!). I now have a good system figured out, and think I can ease up from using them for a while.

// 3: I have gained 10 pounds since September, which I only know because I had a doctor appointment and didn’t look away in time. (OK. I was curious — there are few things that fit me these days.) I mean, I know gaining weight during pregnancy is part of the deal, I just didn’t realize it’d happen before conception. I think part of it is that my hormones are out of whack (see above). Part of it is change in intensity/duration of physical activity (which I’m working on finding good balance — we can’t all be beasts in the gym + get pregnant, so much as major headlines might lead you to believe).

Part of it is just stupid stress eating and I should know better. I bought new pants at the thrift shop so I’d stop feeling so annoyed when nothing fit. (I actually scored a cool pair of green J. Crew corduroys for $5! I’m wearing them now…) I’m trying to do better. I run more intensely during the time preceding O. I’m attempting to keep my diet low glycemic most of the day. And I’ve moved on.

// 4: I’m starting to relax more and more about the whole situation. (No, really. I am!) Some of you called me on being melodramatic thus far, and I don’t completely disagree with you — though I think that’s a bit insensitive. TTC is really emotional no matter what stage you’re in. It’s difficult to toss into the mix of an already busy life, especially if you already deal with some minor generalized anxiety. I’ve resigned myself to not having much control over the major aspects at this point and will continue doing the best I can do to up our chances.

Oh, I’ve also stopped living my life in a bubble. It sucked never drinking and being so careful, so I drink and feel merry and just keep everything in moderation. Otherwise, if stuff isn’t happening and I continue having weird symptoms, I’m going back to the doctor to see what’s up.

// 5: I’ve connected more closely with some amazing real life friends and online folks who have rocked my world. People are so darned nice and caring . . . and the support network has been invaluable to me. Those of you who are reading this know who you are. Thank you. We’ll get through it all somehow!

Thanks, sharing. I feel better now! I think I’ll continue to pop in with a quick, not-TMI update now and again simply because it’s my LIFE right now. I felt like a fraud not writing about it and posting more pictures of Christmas trees and stockings.

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That being said, if you’d like a really inexpensive + delicious Homemade Drinking Chocolate recipe that’s great to gift your friends + family, check out (never)homemaker. I’m slowly but surely working on a way to combine these two blogs of mine, and I appreciate your support!

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Sep 13, Grand Remembrances

Today is Grandparents Day in the United States. Being a Grand is a special honor. I feel very blessed that my wife and I have two grandchildren. We were able to visit them today. Yes, we are still being cautious with the coronavirus, but we also find it very difficult to not see them when they live so close. So today we did drop by to visit Jacob (age 10) and Sophia (age 7) along with their parents. We brought donuts and caught up with them. Our grandchildren are still pretty young and this is a precious time in their lives – and ours!

I wish I had known my grandparents better. We never lived in the same place. Dad was a career Air Force pilot, so we moved around a lot. But we did get to see them once in a while when they would visit us, or we them.

A Plague of Giants

There are five known magical ‘kennings’ or types: air, water, fire, earth, and plants. Each nation specializes in of these kennings, and the magic influences the society. There’s a big pitfall with this diversity of ability and locale–not everyone gets along.

Enter the Hathrim giants, or ‘lavaborn’ whose kenning is fire. Where they live the trees that fuel their fire are long gone, but the giants are definitely not welcome anywhere else. They’re big, they’re violent, and they’re ruthless. When a volcano erupts and they are forced to evacuate, they take the opportunity to relocate. They don’t care that it’s in a place where they aren’t wanted.

I first read Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid books and loved them (also the quirky The Tales of Pell), so was curious about this new venture, starting with A PLAGUE OF GIANTS. Think Avatar: The Last Airbender meets Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series. Elemental magic, a variety of races, different lands. And it’s all thrown at you from page one.

But this story is told a little differently. It starts at the end of the war, after a difficult victory, and a bard with earth kenning uses his magic to re-tell the story of the war to a city of refugees. And it’s this movement back and forth in time and between key players in this war that we get a singularly grand view of the war as a whole. Hearne uses this method to great effect.

There are so many interesting characters in this book that I can’t cover them all here. Often in books like this such a large cast of ‘main’ character can make the storytelling suffer, especially since they don’t have a lot of interaction with each other for the first 3/4 of the book–but it doesn’t suffer, thankfully. And the characterization is good enough, despite these short bursts, that by the end we understand these people and care about what happens to them.

If there were a main character it would be Dervan, a historian who is assigned to record (also spy on?) the bard’s stories. He finds himself caught up in machinations he feels unfit to survive. Fintan is the bard from another country, who at first is rather mysterious and his true personality is hidden by the stories he tells; it takes a while to understand him. Gorin Mogen is the leader of the Hathrim giants who decide to find a new land to settle. He’s hard to like, but as far as villains go, you understand his motivations and he can be even a little convincing. There’s Abhi, the son of hunters, who decides hunting isn’t the life for him–and unexpectedly finds himself on a quest for the sixth kenning. And Gondel Vedd, a scholar of linguistics who finds himself tasked with finding a way to communicate with a race of giants never seen before (definitely not Hathrim) and stumbles onto a mystery no one could have guessed: there may be a seventh kenning.

There are other characters, but what makes them all interesting is that they’re regular people (well, maybe not Gorin Mogen or the viceroy–he’s a piece of work) who become heroes in their own little ways, whether it’s the teenage girl who isn’t afraid to share vital information, to the scholars who suddenly find how crucial their minds are to the survival of a nation, to the humble public servants who find bravery when they need it most. This is a story of loss, love, redemption, courage, unity, and overcoming despair to not give up. All very human experiences by simple people who do extraordinary things.

Hearne’s worldbuilding is engaging. He doesn’t bottle feed you, at first it feels like drinking from a hydrant, but then you settle in and pick up things along the way. Then he shows you stuff with a punch to the gut. This is no fluffy world with simple magic without price. All the magic has a price, and more often than not it leads you straight to death’s door. For most people just the seeking of the magic will kill you. I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Ahbi and his discovery of the sixth kenning and everything associated with it. But giants? I mean, really? It isn’t bad enough fighting people who can control fire that you have to add that they’re twice the size of normal people? For Hearne if it’s war, the stakes are pretty high, and it gets ugly.

The benefit of the storytelling style is that the book, despite its length, moves along steadily (Hearne is no novice, here). The bits of story lead you along without annoying cliffhangers (mostly), and I never got bored with the switch between characters. It was easy to move between them, and they were recognizable enough that I got lost or confused. The end of the novel felt a little abrupt, but I guess that has more to do with I was ready for the story to continue, despite the exiting climax.

If you’re looking for epic fantasy with fun storytelling and clever worldbuilding, check out A PLAGUE OF GIANTS.

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The Artwork Of Gary Choo

Gary Choo is a concept artist/illustrator based in Singapore. I’ve know Gary for a good many years ( 17, actually ), working together in animation studios in Singapore like Silicon Illusions and Lucasfilm. Gary currently runs an art team at Mighty Bear Games, but when time allows he also draws covers for Marvel comics, and they’re amazing –

The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo

To see more of Gary’s work or to engage him for freelance work, head down to his ArtStation.

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