Once A Fangirl Always A Fangirl

Excuse me, I’m just going to do a little bit of fangirling here.

These last few weeks have been exhausting, what with DD* going through a difficult phase–she is either sick or throwing a tantrum–and DH* kept having stomach problems, so I’m just muddling along here, wondering when is it my turn to be taken care of.

Long story short, I’m burnt.

Thank goodness for fictional boys. God knows how unbearable life is without them. Of all swoonworthy characters to warm my cold heart, two stand out: Kaz Brekker from Six of Crows series, and the one I’m going to talk about here: Anthony J. Lockwood from Lockwood & Co. series.

Around two years ago, I read The Screaming Staircase. It was good, but too scary for my taste so I wasn’t sure I’d read the next book. Too bad I already had a crush on Lockwood.

BUT. The Whispering Skull (#2) is SO GOOD, my harmless crush on Lockwood escalated. I just finished The Creeping Shadow (#4) and NOW I CAN’T CONTAIN MY FEELINGS. People, this series is awesome, I’m serious. It’s packed with intense action, has believable world-building, typical Stroud humor, and THE CHARACTERS OMG I LOVE THEM ALL.

The fourth book fulfills my every expectations. I love seeing friendship grow between Lucy and Holly. The Skull is as sarcastic and hilarious as ever. We see a badass side of George and unexpected turn of events with Quill Kipps. 

The Skull and Lucy reunited:

The ghost grinned as I hoisted the backpack over my shoulders. “Ah, two firm friends, reunited at last! There should be sweet violin music playing for us, but I’ll settle for the screams of the dying.”

And of course Lockwood! With his slim figure, too tight suit, and reckless action, my heart bursts whenever his name appears.

Lockwood didn’t say much. He was distracted, deep in thought. I knew the signs; the thrill of the chase was on him. Me, I was just happy for us to stroll together, side by side.

Me too, Lucy, me too.

If you’re familiar with Stroud, then you probably know there’s never much (or any) romance in his books. But here we have just enough of Lucy & Lockwood sweetness to brighten my deep, dark, emo heart.

I don’t know how many books to come out after this, but  there are talks about Lockwood’s ‘untimely end’ and I. JUST. CAN’T. Is it too much to ask for a fictional happy ending?

So yeah, life isn’t great right now. But with Lockwood to shine a light on my sad, lonely heart, I guess I’ll survive.

On our way home, I sat opposite Lockwood. He seemed pale and tired. In the days since our visit to the institute, we hadn’t spoken privately of what had happened to us. Occasionally, when our eyes met, we shared something that couldn’t be expressed in words.

* If you’re not familiar with these terms, try spending more time on parenting forums.

Weaning: We Finally Did It

​It’s been one whole week since Amel last had her breast milk. At 2 years and 2 months, it’s about time. There were some moments, though, where I thought I’d still be breastfeeding her until kindergarten.

I first tried to gradually wean her around two months before her second birthday. I cut off her morning feeding, told her she’s a big girl now, and distracted her with toys. It was a failure; she didn’t understand why she could keep nursing at some times but not at other times, and I gave in too easily. After all, nursing was an easy escape. I could play with my phone while she latched on my breast, watching fish documentary.

Shortly before her second birthday, I tried to wean cold turkey. Some say weaning cold turkey is unfair for the child, but after two years, I was so ready to have my sleep and my body back. So I put a band-aid on my nipples and told myself to just tell her no. As it turned out, I didn’t even have to bother refusing her. The moment she saw the band-aid, she pulled down my shirt and did not even ask to nurse.

I was worried the whole time, though; does she drink enough? Does she produce enough wet diapers? The problem, however, was with sleep. She just wouldn’t fall asleep without nursing. We read books, sang songs, watched videos, and she screamed non-stop. I ended up rocking her to sleep like when she was a baby. Night time was an absolute hell. She woke up frequently, and refused to be comforted in any way. She went from having a total of 14 hours sleep a day to just 8.

After two days, she started coughing. The next day, I too started coughing. Due to exhaustion and lack of sleep, we both fell sick. What’s a mother to do? Not long after, we were back to breastfeeding.

I kind of put away the idea of weaning for a while, knowing bruised nipples are better than sleep deprivation. I never refused nursing her, but just kept telling her breastfeeding is for babies and she’s not a baby anymore.

Then, last week when she was about to nurse, she pulled my shirt back down and said, “Big girl.”

It was all the encouragement I needed.

A Bribery

My daughter loves water. She loves beaches and ocean and swimming pools. Heck, she even loves watching me wash the dishes because of the water coming from the tap.

She’s been driving us nuts lately with her persistent request to go swimming. She even put on her swim vest when she went playing outside. We did take her to the swimming pool in the end. Was she satisfied? Of course not. She wanted to go back in the water even before we left the parking lot.

A perfectly normal everyday outfit

So, knowing the power of a bribe, I said we can go swimming again on Friday, but that means no more breast milk. The next time she asked to nurse, I reminded her, “Sure, we can nurse now, but then we won’t go swimming on Friday. Is that okay with you?” She went silent, then, “I want to go swimming,” and stopped asking for boobs.

I don’t know if bribery is the right approach to weaning, and honestly I don’t really care. Because it works.

Being a strong-headed little girl that she is, she did make it to Friday without any more drop of breast milk. That morning I put her in the car seat and drove to the swimming pool.

Happy faces

It was just the two of us, but we had so much fun!

After-swimming snack

I packed snack for us in my new Lunchbots Trio container: chocolate banana muffins, hard-boiled eggs, and some oranges, and we finished them all. She fell asleep on our way home.

Dealing with Engorgement

Since I abruptly stopped breastfeeding, my breasts became engorged. It was very much like the early days of breastfeeding, when your breasts are rock-hard and painful.

I decided not to pump for a reason called laziness. I just hand-expressed a little during shower and did cold compress at other times to relieve the pain.

The internet told me cabbage leaves work wonders to treat engorgement, so I froze some and put them between my skin and bra. Yeah, all the gross things parents to do survive. But it works! It still feels uncomfortable but nothing extremely painful.

Frozen cabbage leaves

A Big Girl

I almost can’t believe how well she is taking this whole weaning process. We did stop cold turkey, but not once in these last 7 days did she scream for breasts. She eats well and drinks plenty and sleeps better. That’s the most amazing thing, I think: we both sleep better.

I can’t even begin to describe the joy of going to bed at 10 and found that it’s already 4 when I wake up. It’s been ages since I last have six hours uninterrupted sleep. There are still times when she wakes up early morning and I have to rock her. If I’m lucky, she’ll go back to sleep. If not, well it’s an early day for us.

But by and large she seems to be doing well. I hope we can keep this up!

[REVIEW] Thermos Foogo Food Jar

Waktu masih sekolah dulu, saya bukan tipe anak yang suka membawa bekal. Pasalnya, saya picky eater banget. Bukan cuma soal jenis makanannya, tapi suhunya juga. Nasi harus langsung dari rice cooker/magic jar, lauk di meja makan harus mampir ke microwave dulu sebelum masuk mulut, sup harus dipanasin sampe mendidih. Kalo bawa bekal dari pagi, pas jam makan siang kan udah dingin dan soggy ya. Terus saya juga kurang suka makan di kantin. Jadi seharian di sekolah paling cuma jajan Beng-beng, lol.

Pernah dulu di kelas 6 SD menjelang ujian, saya harus makan siang di sekolah karena ada pelajaran tambahan sampe sore. Temen-temen saya pada bawa bekal. Saya? Minta anterin makanan panas dari rumah. Sekolah saya dulu termasuk deket dari rumah, jadi tiap jam istirahat siang biasanya pembantu saya udah nungguin di halaman sekolah, bawain makanan panas. Bahaha, songong banget ya.

Repot ga sih tiap makan harus panas? Belom serepot ibu-ibu kekinian yang makanannya harus organik, gluten-free, dan dagingnya harus dari sapi yang grass-fed.

Anyway, ternyata kelakuan ini juga menurun ke Amel. Waktu MPASI dulu kalo lagi pergi yang lumayan lama, saya sering harus bawain makanan. Dia ga pernah tuh mau makan bubur yang keburu dingin ditaro di kontainer plastik. Baru sesuap langsung hoek. Ujung-ujungnya saya lebih sering bawain sereal bubuk instan + air panas di termos.

Akhirnya saya mulai mencari opsi tempat makan yang bisa menjaga suhu makanan. Maka dimulailah obsesi saya terhadap stainless steel food container, bahaha.

Pilihan saya jatuh ke Thermos Foogo food jar ini.

IDR 300.000an, lupa persisnya.

300 ml

Stainless steel

Klaimnya, double wall vacuum insulationnya bisa menjaga makanan hangat tetap hangat selama 5 jam dan makanan dingin tetap dingin selama 7 jam.

Setelah beberapa kali nyoba masukin pure panas meletup-letup ke food jar ini, hasilnya: 3 jam masih hangat dan edible, 4 jam udah berkurang jauh hangatnya, 5 jam kurang lebih sudah sama dengan suhu ruangan.

Untuk makanan dingin, tahannya lebih lama. Saya biasa bikin popsicle buah + yogurt buat cemilan Amel. Setelah 6 jam, sebagian masih beku.

Selain itu, food jar ini juga bebas heat/cold transfer. Jadi meski menyimpan makanan panas/dingin, dinding luarnya tetap aman dipegang dan ga mengembun.

Ukurannya ga begitu besar, jadi gampang dicemplungin di tas ibu-ibu. Tutupnya rapat dan gampang dibuka. Untuk durability, food jar ini awet sekali. Umurnya sudah lebih dari setahun tapi kondisinya masih seperti baru.

Yang pasti, food jar ini kepake setiap hari buat makanan Amel atau snack buah papanya.

11 Kesan Setelah Membaca Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

​Jadi ya, saya sama sekali ga aware bahwa play script Harry Potter and The Cursed Child ini diterbitin dalam format buku. Baru tau pas buka Buzzfeed; kok banyak artikel mencaci maki buku kedelapan ini. Akhirnya saya putuskan untuk coba ikutan baca, dengan ekspektasi yang rendah sekali. Lagian lumayan kan bisa caci maki buku orang lain; bikin lupa masalah di buku sendiri, lol.

Inilah 11 kesan yang saya dapatkan setelah membaca buku ini.

1. Is it a book? Is it a script? Is it a book of script?
Selayaknya play script, buku ini isinya dialog semua. Siap-siap buat lompat dari satu dialog ke dialog lain tanpa basa-basi buat transisi. Meskipun memang seperti inilah format play script, I WAS EXPECTING A BOOK.

2. The plot moves so fast.
Dalam satu halaman, Albus udah bertambah tua dua tahun. Kthxbye.

3. Gampang banget nyolong Time-Turner dari Hermione.
Minum Polyjuice Potion buat menyamar jadi Harry Potter (HARRY POTTER CUY!) dan Hermione Granger (Minister of Magic sendiri), lalu menyusup ke kantor Hermione, dan mencuri Time-Turner? Easy as pie.

4. Character depth-nya perlu dipertanyakan. 
Saya ga nangkep motivasi dan tujuan karakter-karakternya. Ngapain amat Albus mau mengubah nasib Cedric? Kenal juga engga. Lalu kok bisa langsung percaya sama Delphi? Lagian si Delphi ini wtf sih maunya?

5. Harry ikutan diet rendah gula?
Kthxbye. That’s not the Harry I knew.

6. Voldemort dan Bellatrix punya anak? EW.
Meskipun Bellatrix memandang Voldemort kaya tuhan–mematuhi segala perintahnya, menjauhi segala larangannya–saya ga bisa ngebayangin Voldemort tahan bersentuhan dengan manusia biasa. Lagipula, keberadaan offspring ini jadi defeats the purpose of Horcruxes.

7. Tapi yang paling mengejutkan setelah semua poin di atas adalah … THIS BOOK IS SO FUN TO READ.
Begitu sudah terbiasa dengan formatnya, dan kalau bacanya juga ga terlalu kritis dengan plot hole dan inconsistency dengan buku-buku sebelumnya, seru juga lho time-travelling dan melihat dunia alternatif yang terjadi gara-gara kelakuan Albus dan Scorpius.

8. Saya suka interaksi antara Snape dan Hermione di salah satu alternate reality.
Hermione: I was an excellent student.
Snape: You were moderate to average.

9. Sampai sekarang saya masih belum ngerti JKR ikut nulis buku ini apa engga.
Kalau di Goodreads, dia termasuk salah satu penulisnya. Tapi ada juga yang bilang dia cuma menyetujui hasil kolaborasi dua penulis lainnya. Saya personally sih–melihat banyaknya pembunuhan karakter di buku ini–lebih memilih untuk percaya yang kedua.

10. Harus banget ya ini diiklankan sebagai buku kedelapan?
Cuy ini kualitas fanfiction cuy. Ga selevel sama tujuh buku sebelumnya.

11. That said, this is a good fanfiction.
Kalau ada lanjutannya saya mau dong baca hahaha.

Final score: 3/5.


​Judul: Rooftoppers
Penulis: Katherine Rundell
Tahun: 2013
Jumlah halaman: 278
Rating: 5/5

Udah lama ya saya ga nulis review buku. Sekali ini saya bela-belain deh bangkit dari males demi berbagi bacaan middle grade yang sangat memuaskan ini.

Ketika kapal Queen Mary karam, Sophie yang berusia satu tahun adalah satu-satunya penumpang wanita yang selamat. Seorang pria bernama Charles Maxim menemukannya tengah mengapung di atas kotak selo. 

Think of nighttime with a speaking voice. Or think how moonlight might talk, or think of ink, if ink had vocal cords. Give those things a narrow aristocratic face with hooked eyebrows, and long arms and legs, and that is what the baby saw as she was lifted out of her cello case and up into safety.

Aaak. Love at first chapter.

Charles lalu memutuskan untuk membesarkan Sophie sendirian. Namun Miss Elliot dari Welfare Agency tidak suka dengan cara Charles membesarkan Sophie. Menurutnya anak perempuan tidak seharusnya memakai celana, atau menulis di dinding, atau menggunakan atlas sebagai alas makan. Ketika Sophie berusia dua belas tahun, agensi itu mencabut hak perwalian Charles atas Sophie.

Terancam dimasukkan ke panti asuhan, Sophie memutuskan untuk mencari ibu kandungnya hanya dengan berbekal alamat si pembuat selo. Bersama Charles, dia kabur dari London ke Paris. Di sana dia bertemu dengan Matteo dan para Rooftoppers, sekumpulan anak yang hidup di atap-atap bangunan Paris, yang membantunya melaksanakan misinya.

Oke pertama-tama saya ngefans berat sama Charles Maxim yang bookish dan figur ayah idaman banget. Dan seperti Charles, Sophie juga tumbuh jadi karakter dengan kepribadian kuat.

“But . . . they told me that she was dead, and I didn’t believe them. Why did she believe it? Why didn’t she keep looking?”
“My darling, because she is an adult.”
“That’s not a reason.”
“It is, my love. Adults are taught not to believe anything unless it is boring or ugly.”
“That’s stupid of them,” she said.
“Sad, child, but not stupid. It is difficult to believe extraordinary things. It’s a talent you have, Sophie. Don’t lose it.”

Lalu settingnya ya ampun. Deskripsi Paris di sini cakeeep banget. Lebih cakep daripada kota aslinya menurut saya, haha. Ngebayangin Matteo berkeliaran di atap bangunan dan jalan di atas tali sambil ngasih makan burung kesannya sangat magical.

Pas nutup buku ini, hati rasanya hangat. Lol. Setelah sekian lama ga nemu bacaan yang memuaskan, this book is such a gem.

“Only people murmur. Sea roars. Wind blows.”
“No. Sometimes the sea and the wind murmur. The two are old friends.”
“When they sound together,” he said, “it means luck. A murmuration. A good omen.”

Keseharian Amel

Sebentar lagi Amel bakal ulang tahun yang kedua. Ga terasa ya, cepet banget waktu berlalu. Kata tetangga sebelah, mungkin. Pastinya bukan kata saya, lol.

Di tahun kedua ini, Amel udah bisa lari, ngoceh, manjat-manjat, ngamuk … Capek tentu ngurusinnya, tapi ga ada apa-apanya dibanding capek di tahun pertama. Emang sih sampe sekarang pun Amel belum bisa sleep through the night, tapi gone were the days di mana saya harus gendong dia di teras jam 3 pagi sambil nyanyiin Brahm’s Lullaby. Tahun pertama itu absolute hell lah. Kthxbye.

Sekarang Amel sudah tumbuh menjadi anak dengan kepribadian sendiri, and I found that I actually like spending time with her. Dulu tiap ditinggal suami ke kantor, saya galau mikirin harus ngabisin hari yang panjang berdua aja sama Amel. Mau ngapain aja? Kalo saya kehilangan kesabaran gimana? Kalo saya jatoh di tangga terus ga ada yang nemuin sampe malem gimana?

Sekarang kami sudah punya rutinitas. Lega deh. Memang saya orangnya sangat patuh mengikuti rutinitas. Kalo ada hal-hal tak terduga yang terjadi di luar rutinitas, duh bete banget lah. Bahkan saat liburan pun saya masih berusaha sebisa mungkin ngikutin rutinitas, minimal untuk jam tidur dan makan.

Untuk urusan mainnya Amel, saya bersyukur banget tinggal di komplek dengan jalanan lega di mana ga banyak kendaraan lalu lalang. Waktu tinggal di Jakarta, tiap sebentar motor lewat. Baru jalan kaki dikit aja udah diklaksonin. Di sini kami bisa bebas jalan kaki sampe pegel.

Tiduran di jalan? Fine.


Tiduran di teras? Silakan.


Tiduran di gubuk? Go ahead.


Di komplek saya juga ada lapangan bermain dengan konsep minimalis, alias lapangan tanah dengan ayunan dan jungkat-jungkit seadanya. Amel seneeeeeng banget main di sini. Mungkin karena banyak anak-anak. Dia asal gabung aja meskipun yang lain udah gede-gede dan (quite understandably) ogah main sama dia, lol.

Main ayunan

Enaknya lagi, sekarang Amel udah bisa diajak ngerjain kerjaan rumah. Dulu begitu Amel tidur langsung deh saya terbirit-birit cuci piring dan masak, berusaha supaya semua selesai sebelum dia bangun.

Sekarang kalau mau masak, Amel tinggal saya dudukin di kursi makan, kasih daun bawang atau wortel buat mainan. Lalu saya jelasin saya lagi ngapain, misalnya, “Ini namanya bawang. Kita kupas dulu ya.” Biasanya sih dia asyik ngoceh niruin, “Bawan(g)!”

Cuci piring pun begitu. Dia berdiri di samping saya sambil ngeliatin dan terkadang “bantu-bantu”. Pernah dia ngotot banget pengen ikut nyuci piring sampe ada gelas yang pecah.

Karena kerjaan rumah tangga dikerjakan bareng Amel, jadinya pas dia tidur saya bisa nulis atau jahit. Tapi lebih sering saya ikutan tidur juga sih, haha.

Bagian ga enaknya: I’m so done breastfeeding, tapi ga tau gimana cara menyapihnya. Sejak beberapa bulan yang lalu saya mulai mengurangi frekuensi nenen sampe sekali aja di siang hari (malem sih masih). Terus suatu hari badan Amel anget. Makannya dikit, maunya nenen. Ya udah kasih deh daripada sakit. Lalu we’re back to zero. Bahaha. Ga ngerti ah.

When It’s Over, It’s Over

After the release of Teka-Teki Terakhir two years ago, I decided to read my work in printed book format, from cover to cover. The first thing I found, of course, was a typo. An author–it could be Neil Gaiman, but I’m not sure–once said it was the rule, that as the author, the first page you open will contain a typo.

But typos were not the only thing that bothered me. Some dialogues sounded awkward, some parts made me cringe, and in the end I came to a conclusion: I could have written this better. So when I set off to write my second novel, I swore I would revise, revise, and revise and would not submit it until I was fully satisfied with every sentence.

It didn’t work, of course.

The thing about writing a book is that basically you are forming a relationship with your manuscript. You need to have a commitment to show up and write, you have to invest time and energy to fix things that don’t work out, and finally you have to be able to tell when it’s over.

I spent almost a year revising my second novel. Then there came a point when I realized: I’ve worked as hard as I could. This is where I leave you. So I closed the document and sent it to my editor.

A writer–again, I forgot who–once said, “A book never gets finished. It just gets published.” In the final version of A untuk Amanda, there were still parts that I considered raw and unpolished. It could be better. Then again, it could always be better. I could work on it until the end of my life and it could always be better.

But I have said what I wanted to say and decided to be happy about it and move on to the next project.

And then it got published and some people liked the parts that I considered cringeworthy, while others cringed at the passages I was so proud to have written. And they get to know Amanda and it’s not the same Amanda I have in my head. It’s not right or wrong. Just different. I think it’s true that no two people ever read the same book.

When your book is published, it’s no longer yours. It’s up to the readers to read between the lines, to interpret it in their own ways, to fill every cliffhanger with their own endings. You do not get to say, “You’re missing the point. That’s not what I meant at all.” This is why I believe in readers’ right to write bad reviews.

And then, whether the work was good or bad, whether it did what you hoped or it failed, as a writer you shrug, and you go on to the next thing, whatever the next thing is.
– Neil Gaiman

This is the lesson I carry as I’m starting my third novel now. I’m still struggling with the beginning that I can’t even imagine finishing the story. But when (when? If? Am I going to finish it at all?) the time comes, I’ll have to remember that when it’s over, it’s over.