Friday, February 27, 2009


I just wanted to reassure all my loyal blog readers that the kitchen shears have been located. They were right where they were expected to be: in W.'s backpack. Oh wait; that's not where they belong? Huh! He doesn't know how they got there either. Of course, his backpack is full enough to contain hidden scissors, every sock the dryer has ever eaten, enough missing rolls of tape to reattach all parts of the Titanic, half his wardrobe, both his missing winter coats (don't I wish!), as well as the kitchen sink. So I guess I shouldn't be too surprised that that was where the scissors were located. And now I'm off to buy that retractable leash thingie to make sure the shears don't go on anymore unscheduled walkabouts.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Dance rant

Would it be completely and totally superficial for me to pull my daughter from her current dance studio simply because the costumes are quite the ugliest things I've ever seen? Probably. But this is really only a flippant answer to why I'm considering it given everything else that bothers me about the studio. I've already whined on here that I think the parents are unfriendly. This is about me, not about my daughter, of course, and should also probably be taken off the list of things over which I am dissatisfied.

So how about this: the cost of this studio is ridiculous. The monthly tuition isn't terrible but the additional competition fees are ludicrous and out of proportion. They are also stupidly insane in a struggling economy where people are losing their jobs right and left. In addition to competition entry fees, which I fully expect to have to pay for, we have to pay for each and every extra rehearsal our child must attend. That is $10 each and every time. Perhaps this doesn't sound like a lot but she has extra rehearsals almost every weekend from now until July, at which point she has *14* extra rehearsals. Yes, July alone will cost me $140 in rehearsal fees because apparently they must rent out a gym somewhere instead of using the studio rooms they already own. Now, multiply that amount of money by more than 60 kids (I don't know the exact number of competition kids but 60 is in the ballpark). What a stellar use of money, don't you think?

I've already had to fork over money for the team leotard, team warm-up suit, team make-up set (from Avon), barrette, earrings, necklace, and bracelet, all of which must be purchased through the studio so that they can take their cut of it. I have to pay more for each of four costumes (three of which are for competition) than I do on my own clothing.

We also had to pay to buy tickets to the debut show this past weekend. Now while that doesn't necessarily sound terrible, how about this: we were all *obligated* to purchase 10 tickets to the tune of $50. Now maybe others are comfortable with asking friends and neighbors to pay for tickets to a dance show put on by 4 year olds through 18 year olds, but I'm not. Quite honestly, I would never be willing to go to a show my child wasn't in so I don't want to put others in the position to admit to me that they agree that such a premise is one of Dante's circles of hell. And we have very little family in the area so I had to eat the tickets, of which we used a whopping 4. Not that I'm bitter about writing checks for nonsensical crap, mind you.

Now the kicker in my mind was the costume snafu we had. As mentioned before, these are quite the ugliest dance costumes I've seen, and given how bad dance costumes generally are, this is going some. And they are rangingly expensive, of course, but I expect that. Above and beyond that though, R. was given her three costumes before the show and two of the three fit fine. They were a child's large. The third, however, was a child's medium. Now she's a fairly tall kid and she really needs the large. The medium looked like it was absolutely painted on her body. It will never last until nationals in July as it already leaves red gouge marks on her shoulders. So I e-mailed the studio owner and asked her if there could possibly have been a mix-up in the sizes, especially since it didn't match her other two and the fact that she is without a doubt the tallest kid in the number. I also might have mentioned that R. could barely get the belt that should velcro closed around the middle to close and that someone was in danger of having an eye put out it popped as the three threadlike velcro closures straining to keep it together gave up when she danced around in it. (Too flippant, you think?) Miss M. agreed that she'd check things out that night at the dress rehearsal. Do you think one thing was said that night? Nope. So I asked, rather loudly, in the dressing room if the other moms would please look at theirs and see if anyone had a large that shouldn't. That bastion of friendliness looked over at me in horror and continued dressing their children without even a token glance at the tag in the costumes. So we still have a painted on costume with ruffles that barely cover her rear (everyone else's comes half way down their thighs) but on the plus side, R. did swap belts with a child whose belt was so droopy that it wouldn't stay up while they were standing backstage. I do believe I paid a cool $100 for this charming costume that should last her as long as she doesn't ever grow again or even eat a tummy-bloating dinner at Taco Bell. You'd think for the amount of money I keep forking over to these people that they would at least look into the costume thing ($600 last month and $400 more this coming month just to give you a taste of the amount I am whining about--not exactly pocket change).

Each and every day I get more disenchanted. And while R. says she doesn't want to switch studios, I may not give her a choice. Of course, if she doesn't bring her grades up it will be immaterial because she will be doing no extracurricular stuff anyway. If there's a silver lining to poor grades, I guess it's that it would solve my dance concerns easily. :-P

Oh and I should say a small bit about the actual dancing since it's not really about the money, right? (OK, it is about the money, but...) I'm also not sold on the dance choreography and the dress rehearsal I saw showcased rather sloppy dancing. Now I heard it was cleaned up the following night for the show but I stayed in the back so I can't speak to that. What I can say, having watched the routines the day before though, is that this studio is overly obsessed with flexibility and simply moves dancers from Gumby-like position to Gumby-like position, sacrificing much of the grace and fluidity that makes dance interesting to watch. Do I care if some nine-year old can get her foot behind her ear while the other set of toes picks her nose? Nope. Now I probably have no idea what I am talking about here, not having been a dancer myself, but I am left less than impressed with the constant contortions. Where's the beauty? If my wallet must be empty, feed my soul, will you? And so I'll now have to wrestle with whether or not to force a change on R. who likes it here, despite her complete handicap as concerns flexibility.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

More bullying

Am I proud of my child for handling this himself or disturbed that the assistant principal calling to tell me she'd had a peer mediation session with my son and another child was the (almost) first time I've heard about it?

Little background here. A couple of weeks ago my neighbor's 8th grade daughter told her mom that another child kicked W. on the bus but she didn't want her mom to tell me. Obviously we moms don't honor silly requests like this and T. told me what her daughter had told her. Apparently my generally oblivious and oftentimes cantankerous (what a combination, eh?) 6th grader sat in a bus seat this particular boy seemed to think was his and so he told W. not to sit there the next day. Cut to the following morning when W., in all his obstreperous glory, sits in the same seat. Well, apparently no 6th grader can just ignore this 8th grader's dictum and so he hauled off and kicked W. The bus driver did not see this but my neighbor's daughter thought W. should report this other kid and get him kicked off the bus. He did not. Nor did she say anything, explaining to her mom that she didn't want to make it worse for W. When I asked about the incident, I was casually told that this kid was a bit of a bully and that it was fine. (Apparently my child is also becoming more stoic because he not only ignored the kick, he didn't cry--and he's generally a big crier.) Stupid mom thought that was the end of it since W. never said another word about it.

So this morning we get a call from the 6th grade assistant principal who clues in the completely clueless parents. Apparently other children had told their parents and those parents had contacted the school about this ongoing bullying. (No indication to us from W. that he was living with this daily either.) The assistant principal confronted W., who admitted the reports were true. The 8th grader has been disciplined in school and his parents were contacted yesterday. Yay school for getting right on this!!! Then today there was a peer mediation between W. and a 6th grader who is apparently "sort-of" a friend of W.'s who has watched this situation, never stuck up for W. during it, and even picked on him some at the egging on of the older kid. Will this change anything? The cynic in me thinks no but at least the school will keep an eye on it. As to the rest, I do worry (it is my job, after all) that W. will be the neighborhood pariah as a result of the whole thing since all the kids involved live here too. I specifically asked if it was made clear that W. hadn't been the one to report it since I wanted the bully and the follower to know that other people were watching them too. I did restrain myself from asking the names of the kids but I might see if W. will cough them up when I ask him about it later today. Of course, if I find out, I'll never ever be able to like either of those kids ever, even if they were to become the nicest, most pleasant boys around so perhaps I should leave it unknown.

But I am also wondering why W. didn't bother to tell us (not that he told anyone until directly questioned) and that worries me too (see how good I am at the worrying job?). This parenting thing, it's gonna be the death of me! Oh, and a rhetorical question here (well, if you have an answer for me, feel free to share it but I suspect it's one of those unanswerable things): Why the heck is my child such a bully magnet? What about him screams out to be abused? And somebody please promise me that we'll all make it through this in one piece.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Mailbox Monday

I got books in the mail this week. I got books in the mail this week. Nanny-nanny-boo-boo. ::happy dance:: I know, I know. Completely out of proportion with the very small number of books I received but I do so love to get them that I just can't restrain myself. Last week's haul consisted of two review books (both of which I've already read and enjoyed and now just need to get working on the reviews) and today brought a wonderful surprise bookcrossing book (I do so love surprises!). They were:

That Went Well by Terrell Harris Dougan
Losing My Religion by William Lobdell
Tuesday Night at the Kasbah by Patricia Kitchin

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page and you can find out what came in other peoples' mailboxes there.

Anyone else want to send me something to bring me joy at the mailbox and keep me occupied during my long evenings sitting at kiddie sports?

Just For the Love of It Challenge

The Just For the Love of It Challenge is one of the choose your own books kind of challenges that sound like such a good, easy idea and yet when you sit down to compile the actual list, you are surprisingly stumped. Perhaps part of my problem is that one of the rules is that you should only read books you just can't wait to read. Every book in my house falls under that category at some point and time and heaven knows that there's no hope for me to read all of them sometime between now and the end of April! But, because I love compiling lists and fondling my books debating whether to put them on the list or not is always an enjoyable exercise for me, I'm signing up for this one anyway. I decided not to make the list retroactive to January 1 so it'll be a much shorter version of what I would have written then. Here's the tentative list:

1. Fork It Over by Alan Richman
2. Spies by Michael Frayn
3. The Lost Years of Jane Austen by Barbara Ker Wilson
4. Merry Hall by Beverley Nichols
5. The Tale of Desperaux by Kate DiCamillo
6. Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliott
7. Cordelia Underwood by Van Reid

I'm sure I'll be adding more as the next two months roll along!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Not very wifely of me, I admit

I have never liked blood and guts. I don't want it in my books, I don't want it in my movies, and I certainly don't want it in my life. I am also the sort of person who likes to be left alone if I am sick or in pain. Combine these two things and I think its fair to say that I am not the most sympathetic person to have around before/during/after a surgery. So it was D.'s misfortune to need hernia surgery this past Friday.

I think he was a little worried by the prospect beforehand but I don't have much patience for fretting over the inevitable so I just ignored the fussing. This did not endear me to him, I'm sure. Then he was horrified to learn that I had no intention of sitting in the waiting room for the several hours it would take between when he was taken back to be prepped for surgery (no one allowed to accompany adult patients to this, incidentally) until he was ready for release. I just told him I'd be happy to pick him up when he was ready to come home and headed merrily on with my errand-packed day. Not 10 minutes later I got a phone call from a nurse to confirm that I was indeed intending to come and collect him when he was ready to go. Ummm. No, I'd rather you send my seriously drugged post-op husband out on the road to walk home (it was *only* outpatient surgery after all). I reassured her I would pick him up when he was a rambling, drooling mess even though I was clearly a negligent wife who wouldn't even stay for the mere 5 hours he'd be in the hospital.

Once he got home, I was all for sending him to bed and ignoring him until he felt better. This is how I'd prefer to be treated and how he did treat me after my foot surgery several years ago when I wasn't even ambulatory. Again, I probably got marked down in the compassionate wife category for this.

The following day, since he seemed to be feeling rather decent, he got to go to T.'s baseball tryout and to R.'s dbeut dance show. Apparently the latter caused him some pain (the hard chairs, not the dancing) but because I am all about ignoring frailty, I just nodded and let the whining go in one ear and out the other. I then proceded to miss the fact that he was out of bed at least twice last night getting pain killers. I can't say I truly ignored this as I didn't even wake up at all. Miss Sensitivity, that's me.

And apparently my good wife score hit an all time low today when he asked me to check and make sure he'd gotten all of the dressing he was supposed to remove off. Before he even got halfway across the room, my eyes were closed and I was doing the visual equivalent of stuffing your fingers in your ears and chanting "Nah nah nah nah nah." I think he was a little offended I wasn't going to look at his battle wound but I felt compelled to point out that he had known me over half his life and he should know by now that I do not do yucky things. I didn't even look at my own foot after surgery, the scar still makes me wince, and he thought I was getting up close and personal with his incision? He must still be taking more pain killers than I realized!

So whoever out there is judging the Wife of the Year awards, just give me a shout about where to pick up my award, as long as it's nowhere near anything that will require me to act compassionate or sensitive or just to plain old look at yucky stuff.

Sunday Salon: lists and challenges

Do you love lists? I know I do. I am an inveterate list maker. And I not only like to make lists, I love to cross things off of them, only to then turn around and write out a pristine copy of the newly revised list. Many trees have sacrificed for this weird quirk of mine as I go through reams of paper writing and re-writing things as different as "Errands to Accomplish" and "To Be Read Books I Already Own." I won't bore you with the former list and the latter is too long to publish here. But they give you some idea of how far and wide my lists range. Perhaps this love is why I thrive on the book challenges you find all over the blogging world. Each challenge requires a list of books to be read for the challenge (although the ones I like best allow you to change your mind at any time and substitute other books). I love to find books that will work for multiple challenges. Because in addition to lists, I like the small thrill I get when I accomplish everything I've laid out on a list. I'm certain I've mentioned what a dork I am before this, haven't I? So I've spent my week making up lists not only of my challenges but also a list of which books I'll need to read each month in order to fulfill each and every challenge I've decided to join. Looking at my lists, I'm not certain I'm going to be able to sleep until after December (at which point I'm certain to have joined new challenges and generated new lists so sleep will probably still be out of the question). In any case, my March is slated to look like this:

Fork It Over by Alan Richman
Johanna by Claire Cooperstein
Kristin Lavrensdatter II by Sigrid Undset
Spies by Michael Frayn
Bunnicula by Deborah Howe
The Lost Years of Jane Austen by Barbara Ker Wilson
One Hundred Million Hearts by Kerri Sakamoto
A Pigeon and a Boy by Meir Shalev
Merry Hall by Beverley Nichols
Anne’s Perfect Husband by Gayle Wilson
Slam by Nick Hornby
The Alphabetical Hook-up List by Phoebe McPhee

We'll see how it goes. Heaven knows this is all subject to change, of course!

To see other Sunday Salon posts, go to:

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Compass Points Challenge 2009

Guess I should get around to signing up for my own challenge, eh? Of course I will be doing this as I am also hosting it. The rules are to read four books between March 1 and August 31 that contain the names of the four major compass points (North, South, East, and West) in the title. My list as it stands right now will be:

1. North of Ithaka by Eleni Gage
2. Bound South by Susan Rebecca White
3. East of the Mountains by David Guterson
4. A Strong West Wind by Gail Caldwell

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Unpleasant things

Apparently today is my day to see yucky stuff. First, a guy in my cycle class clearly wet himself. This was not sweat, folks. This was weak bladder control. Now I do feel some sympathy for this since I have wet myself while working out too but I have to say that it can be chalked up to several excuses that come close to making it acceptable. I have a weaker bladder than I used to thanks to 3 full term pregnancies resulting in quite large babies. It happened before I got into reasonably decent shape. *And* I was outdoors with no bathroom nearby. There's just no reason to pee in your pants when you are at the Y with locker rooms every two feet. Get off your bike and avail yourself of the facilities! Now I'm skeeved out by wondering which bike he peed on and which he probably didn't clean well enough to make up for the accident. Yucko.

Then, after my workout and a quick dash home to change, I was scooting along to my Weight Watchers meeting [and incidentally, their scale must be broken because I weighed more naked at home than I did fully-clothed (big sigh of relief from all readers not wanting that scary mental picture!) at the meeting) and trying to push the speed limit as much as I could since I was running late. Well, Murphy's law means that there was a very slow moving truck from the highway department two cars in front of me. And I wondered why they were keeping such a distance when it didn't look like he was throwing anything from the back of his truck. It wasn't long before I didn't have to wonder anymore as the cars in front of me turned and I was stuck at a stoplight behind what was obviously the road-kill cadaver truck. Yes, three deer legs poked out of the back at strange angles for me to watch as we bumped slowly over speed humps going through the little downtown by my house. On the plus side, the sight made me less interested in getting lunch once the meeting was over. I do think it'll be a while before that one leaves my retinas though.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Lost and Unfound

Do you ever wish that you could put certain items you own on a retractable tether like the pens at banks or grocery stores? Boy I sure do. We are going on an entire week here without my kitchen shears. Now this might not be a big deal given that I have no fewer than three other pairs of scissors in my handy-dandy organizer in the pantry, but I can't tell you how frequently I reach for the scissoes right there in the knife block beside my sink only to find them *still* missing. I suspect that if I went through and did a complete and thorough cleaning of the rooms of the tribe of "Not Me" peoples who seem to inhabit this house that I would find them but the thought of such a task just overwhelms me. I'm sure I'll eventually get desperate enough to do it (and I'll start in the room of the "Not Me" who recently gave all of her Bratz dolls crew cuts--yes, just imagine how ugly these troll-like dolls are without hair!!!). Tape is another thing that frequently goes on walk-about around here. Of course, tape never returns, which perhaps bodes ill for the scissors, although I like to hope that scissors being an unconsumable item, unlike tape, will mean there is a fighting chance at re-appearance. Actually, the tape disappearance can often be left at D.'s door, rather than the "Not Me" crew's.

Of course, we also have the problem that everyone has with the amazing disappearing socks compliments of the drier monster. I have an entire bag of unmatched socks at the moment. Every now and then a match miraculously shows up but I should probably declare some of them permanently mateless and just turn them into cat toys for my friends' cats.

And lastly, shame on those of you who started this post wondering if I was going to talk about my sanity. There's no hope for a return of that so there's no point in even bringing it up. ;-) I just hope my misplaced sanity hasn't gotten a hold of my scissors!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sunday Salon: Review: Lucky Girl by Mei-Ling Hopgood

Lucky Girl is a a memoir by Mei-Ling Hopgood, a Tawain born girl child who was given up to be adopted by an American couple living just outside of Detroit. This might not seem like such an unusual story but given that Hopgood was adopted in 1974, it is a story from the infancy of international adoptions. Not only was Hopgood among the first children adopted from outside the country, but her circumstances were incredibly unusual as well. As an adult, she was given the unique experience of not only reconnecting with her birth family, but being embraced as the lucky daughter adopted out and embraced again with open arms. The memoir itself talks of Hopgood's growing up as the oldest child (her parents later adopted two younger brothers from Korea as well) in the blue-collar Detroit suburb of Dearborn. She mentions but doesn't focus much on the fact that she and her parents were so obviously of different races and perhaps she didn't experience much racism at all, although she speaks of her desire to distance herself from anything Asian. As she scrolls through her memories of childhood and adolescence, she also writes of her almost unintentional discovery of the family she left behind, a family who didn't quite match her imaginings. Over time, and with the blessing of her parents, she visits and comes to know her birth family: the sisters who were not given away, the brother adopted in when no boy was born and lived, and the other sister who was given away as well. Hopgood was very blessed in the parents who adopted her, especially when she was coming to terms with being the "discarded" child trying to understand how her birth family could possibly make that decision. She must wrestle with not only trying to understand a decision that was decades old, but also with the understanding of who these biological family members were and are now. There has certainly been enough in her life that could make her uncomfortable in her own skin, but with the loving grounding of her atill somewhat awkwardly integrated family, it would seem, in the end that Hopgood has come to forgiveness and a peace about the lucky path her life traveled.

I thoroughly enjoyed this memoir and the look at what an adopted child must feel when faced with the large and boisterous family Hopgood found. Having lived outside of Detroit myself, I was familiar with the landscape of her childhood and found the common ground there to give me just that extra bit of joy at the recognition of schools and places. I'm certain that Hopgood censored some of her feelings a bit out of courtesy towards family members but overall this was an interesting look into a very complicated situation that is probably going to become more common as today's international adoptees grow older. Recommended. My thanks to the lovely folks at Algonquin Books for the chance to read the Advanced Reader's Copy.

Go play outside

Did you get into predicaments when you were small after your mom told you to go play outside? I send my crew outside at every possible moment, wanting them to have something beyond an encyclopedic knowledge of tv shows when they think of their childhoods (not that they don't already have that encyclopedic knowledge, mind you). Somehow though, they seem to find more trouble than I ever thought about when they were outside. Of course, I just went outside and sat on a rock to read my book while they are a bit more active. Today's entertaining result of outdoor play is that our neighbor's trees look like they've been toilet papered with colorful streamers intstead of boring old bathroom tissue white. What actually happened is that my children, who really are bright, not that this would prove it to anyone, put together a kite and decided to fly it in our wooded front yards. Yep, the multi-tailed kite's strings (they did manage to rip the kite out of the tree but the streamers unfortunately didn't come with it) are now lodged high enough in the trees next door that D. doesn't even think he can free it on a ladder using a broom (and he's reasonably tall). Too bad it wasn't a purple and green kite so I could try and convince said neighbors that we were helping them decorate for Mardi Gras. ;-)

All dolled up

D. and I went to a Valentine's Ball last night. Black tie. I am not a black tie kind of girl. Actually, I'd probably be more at home in a tuxedo than in a floor length gown. I am most at home in jeans and a t-shirt though. Dressing up does not make me giddy. Make-up for an evening out doesn't excite me. I am a home body and a casual dresser. I was going to say I was shabby-chic but that's really just fancy talk for sloppy so I went for the more acceptable adjective casual. In any case, in addition to all of this, I am also an extreme introvert. This seems to surprise many of my closest friends so let me assure you that I am indeed a huge introvert. Just ask my family, who know that I'm more inclined to hide away from them for hours than to seek them out for interaction. So clearly a fancy ball is not my element but going and not complaining too hardily was my Valentine's present to D. yesterday. See the difference between us? He doesn't make a peep about me wanting to run a race and I reluctantly go to a ball that makes good business sense for him to attend. They do say opposites attract after all.

I managed to find a dress that still fits and didn't make me look too much like stuffed sausage (yes, I am such an accomodating--HA!--spouse I do have a few formal dresses in my closet from which to choose). I hadn't worn this particular dress before because it had been bought for our India trip before we were told that modesty was the name of the game there. Let's just say that this dress greatly highlighted twin assets and was therefore deemed (by me) inappropriate. I know this begs the question of why I bought it since I am uncomfortable with cleavage at the best of times (this is why I love sports bras: they mush down the overly generous chest area nicely, thank-you). In all honesty, I bought it because it was a loose and flowy lycra. Even better, it was cheap. As in less than $50 cheap and I refuse to spent scads of money on something I don't really want to be wearing anyway. But the loose and flowy came in mighty handy last night since the foundation garment has yet to be made that can conquer the bulges around my middle. I dragged out some black patent leather shoes I last wore for a friend's wedding (and she's been married for almost 11 years now) and a black pashmina to cover the exposed-by-the-dress bits and called my outfit done. Now I do love jewelry so that accessorizing was less problematic than actually dressing.

But the major stress was yet to come. I had to wear make-up. *Gasp* Given that I still have make-up left over from my wedding (and we have a child who is almost 12 and was not a honeymoon baby so you do the math), I am obviously not much of a make-up wearer. As I stood in the bathroom applying it, R. wandered in and said in sheer amazement, "Mom, you're wearing make-up?!" and proceded to ask when the last time I wore make-up was. D. answered, "When we got married." Strike two D.! (Strike one was telling me he needed me to go to this function in the first place.) Then T. wandered in and asked, "Mom, since you never wear make-up, how come you're so good at putting it on?" (Is it any wonder that he's a 6 year old Casanova with girls vying for his attention?!) I told him that since I had to do R.'s make-up for dance every year, I had learned a few things. W. is still in the ignoring girls phase and apparently mom is no exception but he did say I looked nice when his father questioned him directly. Of course, he also mocked D. for the tux and said that he didn't look at all like James Bond so I guess I got off easily. Make-up done, hair finished (how sad is it that the barrette in my hair was R.'s fake diamonte thing from last year's dance competitions?), and dressed to kill (especially if a breast popped out and impaled someone), we headed out the door. The neighbors caught sight of us and came over to get a good look. Their 14 year old daughter took one look at me and said, "Are you actually wearing make-up?" Apparently me in make-up is going to be a seven-day wonder around here but it shows you how unlikely it is for me to have it on. LOL!

We got to the ball and headed to the one couple I had met before. We stayed with them the entire evening. The ball was put on by the same folks who did the most ghastly Christmas party I had ever been to and while this was a better event, it was still dead boring. We timed our arrival to hit the end of the champagne cocktail hour and didn't have to wait too long until we were allowed into dinner. we're sitting at the table and steak dinners are being placed at almost everyone's place. Given that D. had asked me what meal he should RSVP for, I knew that I would be getting one too. Au contraire! Apparently someone had decided that the couple we were sitting with and I should get the vegetarian option--not that there had been a vegetarian option on the list D. read to me before replying. For the health and safety of all food servers out there, let me let you in on a special bit of advice: when a woman has already been coerced into a function she really wanted no part of, do not screw up her dinner order. We protested our dinners (and the pasta dish they gave us was not only unappetizing looking, it smelled badly) and our server headed off to get someone else to deal with us. I don't know if we ended up speaking to the manager or not but he said there were no more steak dinners as the group had ordered only a certain amount. Normally I am a shrinking violet about confrontation but I was not on my best game plan last night. I told him that that was completely unacceptable as we had RSVP'd for steak. He reiterated that there were no more steak dinners and that he could give us chicken instead if that would be okay. I told him that it wouldn't. And furthermore, I wondered why there were spare chicken entrees but no spare steak entrees. I must have looked increasingly belligerent (and I'd had nothing stronger to drink than water) because he said he'd find us steak but that it would take 20 minutes. I said that would be fine. After he left I looked at D., who knew I was hopping mad and said, "Maybe I should have told him 20 minutes is unacceptable as well because I don't like my steak well done." I think he cracked a sickly sort of smile at this, mentally calculating how many years he'll be paying for this. ;-) They found us steak meals in about 5 minutes so obviously someone was lying to me, which I still don't appreciate this morning. And I am unimpressed with the service given that I believe what should have been said when the mistake was discovered was, "I'm sorry. We'll make it right." Then they could take up the discrepancy with the group hosting after the fact. Instead, they got my hackles up and made me less likely to go to the event next year (okay, there was already no way in the world I'd be going next year anyway) or to ever eat at the resort again despite the fact that the steak was very good.

Dinner over, we sat through the dancing because D. not only has 2 left feet, but he can't march to a beat on either one of them. We did wander over to have our picture taken but I suspect that it will be rather frightening given the southward creep of and chill affecting the twin assests. Don't think I want a souvenir of the evening anyway! It was finally late enough to escape the ball and we headed home. I was grateful that all anatomical bits stayed mostly where they belonged in the dress and that the whole thing was over. D. was grateful that I didn't throw a full on tantrum over the dinner snafu. All in all, as successful as any fancy evening ever gets for us!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Cupid's Cup 5K

Have you all missed my crazy running updates? Well, in an effort to save you from misplaced nostalgia, here's one just for the intrepid runners among you who will understand why D. not complaining that I wanted to run a race instead of making (or receiving) breakfast in bed for Valentine's Day was about the nicest thing he could do for me today.

I originally didn't sign up for this race for several reasons. The one I gave my running friends was that I was going to be out of town (and I really did plan on heading north to my very favorite place in the world) but an even bigger pair of reasons were my weight--I'm 20 lbs. heavier than I was last summer--and my fitness level--which is appallingly poor since I'm only managing runs once or twice a week. The latter shouldn't have been a big concern since walking during a race is always an option but even fat and out of shape, I am still the same competitive me I've always been and I didn't want to really have a lousy run for my own mental health.

Well, the ticket north fell through ($500 to UP Michigan in February? Are they kidding? Nobody wants to be up there in negative a billion degrees. They should have happily handed me the ticket for free or paid me to take it. I mean, seriously!!!) so my best excuse, or the one least likely to earn me raspberries and rotten eggs, disappeared. So on the spur of the moment yesterday, after talking to my friend C., I decided to sign up if there was still room. In talking to C. about the race while I was deciding whether or not to subject myself to the race, she gave me a goal that would be doable and that would not take a chunk out of my pride. She was running for a PR (personal record for you non-runners) and wanted me to help her. She very much wanted to break 30 minutes and I knew I could do that so I promised I'd get her to the finish under 30. This took a bit of the pressure off going for my own PR off since there's no way I could have done that in my current fitness state.

So off I went to register. And again with the signs from the universe: there was room, at least until I got home from registering, at which point the race was full and closed. When you register late, you aren't guaranteed a race t-shirt. In some cases this would be a blessing (like the Turkey Trot t-shirt that is so creepy ugly) but I kind of wanted one from this race since I knew it would be marginally girlie with hearts and stuff both for Valentine's Day and because the run benefitted cardiovascular research. I had my fingers crossed that the only size left wouldn't be small (have I mentioned the extra 20 lbs. I'm carrying right now--nevermind that busty girls like me never get to dream of small t-shirts no matter how tiny the rest of the body gets) and it wasn't! Miracle of miracles, all they had left were mediums. But I can do medium--usually. I will day it was a little unkind of the barely post-pubescent man-boy handing out the shirts to look at me and say, "We only have mediums left. Will that be okay?" with such a concerned look on his face. For just one day I'd like to be built like a runner (ripped abs and minimal chest and all--although my legs are pretty decent even now and I definitely have runner's feet since I am still sporting a grand total of 4 toenails amongst my 10 piggie toes) so I don't have to face questions like this! I just said, "Perfect" and handed over my entry fee.

Cut to this morning. I had told my parents what time I needed to leave to get to C.'s house since we were carpooling to the race but either they misunderstood or I inherited my inability to read a clock from them as mom got in the shower 2 minutes before I needed to pull out and dad was still in bed. So D. gallantly offered to move their car (it was behind mine) so I could head out. I don't know if he did this because he loves me (it was early and I know *I* wouldn't love me that much) or if he knew how keyed up I was since I'd already had to hit the bathroom 3 times in a mere 20 minutes. Amazing that a small race caused me so much more intestinal distress and anxiety than the marathon did. I can only guess that I realized just how incredibly out of shape I am and as a result was worried I had been overly cocky in promising C. I'd help her get a PR. I mean, I had her goal riding on my running. A bit nerve-wracking, I tell you.

We got to the race and had to park way out in East Bumble but at least our brisk walk (in the chilly rain) to collect our chips and find the start served to warm us up a bit. Entertainingly, there was no definitive starting line so we all kind of mashed together close to a telephone pole that seemed close to the traffic cones that narrowed traffic for the race. C. gamely went along with my claustrophobia needs and we stayed to the outside of the pack both while standing at the start and once the strobe light went off sending us on our way. I had laid down my coaching rules before we took off and she mostly followed them (chief among them was that she could start her watch when we took off but that she wasn't allowed to look at it again until the end). My watch was set to beep at each mile so I could tell her how much farther without looking either. It was also set to let me know if we were faster than a 10 minute mile pace but I didn't tell her that!

C. and I have run together ever since I got down here and we ran the same marathon so I know what she's capable of and how she normally runs. I knew I was being a bit of a slave driver when she said she couldn't talk and run at the same time since she normally chats steadily throughout an entire run. But I also knew we needed to keep up a pretty quick pace to reach her goal. As we started off, we headed up a long, slow uphill that had looked rather difficult when we had driven down it before the race. Amazingly, it was far easier than I expected although it was the point that quickly made C. admit she couldn't talk at our pace. Once we leveled out, we turned the corner and headed down and around a park. At one point, we saw a bit of a hill in front of us and some woman running close to us half wailed, "Big hill." I restrained myself admirably. Not only did I not make a snarky comment (I try to only be bitchy to my family since they are stuck with me forever whether they want to be or not), but I didn't even turn to C. and roll my eyes. We did both mention it later after the run though because it was so ridiculous to get in a snort about. Not only was it not on a par with the nasty hills we ran in SF, but it wasn't even a patch on the hills we run every Saturday with the Team in Training folks around here. So we kept on trucking, even up the "big hill" that a toddler on a tricycle could have tackled without breaking a sweat (okay, I am also bitchy here on my blog as well as with my family), and made the final turn back onto the main drag. The lovely thing about this run was that the entire final bit was downhill--that same long, slow hill we'd already run up on the way out. Gotta love it when gravity does the work for you! As we headed into the finish line, I wasn't paying attention to the official time (especially since there were no mats at the start so no way of getting an exact time) btu I was hoping like crazy that we'd pulled off C.'s goal. We both hit our watches as we crossed the end mats and I told C. to look at her watch then. We ran in it 27:05 according to our watches (and the official chip time was 27:14 so we were about 10 seconds back from the start). Much faster than I thought we'd do and C. is still riding high, as she should be. She claims that she never would have gone that fast without me but I'm quite confident that she always had a sub-thirty 5K in her and just needed the tiniest mental push to get there.

I had expected the race to have lots of people dressed outrageously but was disappointed that people didn't really do it up. There was one guy dressed as cupid and a woman in heart print pajama bottoms but that was really it. Both of these folks beat us, needless to say. Wouldn't it be cool to be a fast enough runner to be able to dress goofy and appropriately themed and still smoke most of the other folks?

So official time was 27:14, which was almost 1 full minute slower than my PR but I was quite pleased with the run. I even ended up 15th in my age group. There are definite benefits to getting older. Even non-speed demon times rank pretty high. LOL! Someday I might feel like I can attempt my own PR again and this definitely inspires me to try and haul myself out on the roads more than just twice a week again. Funny how something like this highlights the things you enjoy--maybe not in the moment but certainly in the glow of accomplishment afterwards. And perhaps, just perhaps, I might be a decent coach. :-)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Steep learning curve

I got a nasty paper cut yesterday. As if it didn't hurt like a demon all on its own, I foolishly decided to squeeze the lemon on the side of my diet Coke into my drink at dinner. Yeeee---ouch! Now granted I did this yesterday, but you'd have thought the memory of the pain would have stuck with me for longer than say, 12 hours, right? You'd be wrong. I blithely went about making the marinade for the yogurt-marinated chicken today and instead of using one of those handy, plastic, squeezy lemon containers to get my lemon juice, I have to be all snotty and use the real stuff. And no I don't have a juicer. So four juiced lemons later, I was in agony. At least the marinade is made. This stuff better taste like gold given the nerve ending torture it took to make it!

Here's tonight's dinner menu: Yogurt-marinated chicken, mint and garlic orzo, sauteed leeks, and salad. Tasty sounding, no? Don't all rush over though because there won't be enough and I'm not juicing any more dad-gummed lemons. I have learned my lesson. When life gives you lemons, don't make lemonade unless you have a kitchen tool specifically for this purpose which will save any open wounds on your hands from intense pain. What do you think? Too long for a bumper sticker?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The demise of courtesy

Should I stop teaching my children that when they are in a seat and an elderly person/pregnant woman/adult of any description comes along, they should remove their kiddie rears from the seat and allow said grown-up to take it instead? I mean, I seem to be the only person on the planet who still thinks this is a courtesy that should be extended. I walked into R.'s dance today and sat down in an unoccupied seat on one of the two small couches (the extent of the seating for parents who sit and wait for their child to come out of class). The woman next to me actually turned to me and asked me to move because her daughter (who was all of 7 years old) had been sitting there and gotten up to go to the bathroom. Are you kidding me? I'd have made my child remove him or herself if s/he was actually physically in the seat when an adult came in to wait but I had to move for a kid with a small bladder?! I bit my tongue because I think that making a snarky comment would have been as rude as her request but, really! Oh, and said child did come back, flop herself down, and remain in the seat as more adults came in who were forced to stand around waiting for a seat to open up or to sit on the floor until said child went into her class and left her seat. If you think this is curmudgeonly and old-fashioned of me to get myself into a lather about this, you are probably correct. But I want to know what is wrong with old-fashioned manners and courtesies? I am raising three children. Just imagine how obnoxious the world could be if none of us instilled courtesy in our children but instead taught them only to think of themselves first. Grumble, grumble, grumble.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Review: The Viscount's Bride by Ann Elizabeth Cree

A Regency-set historical romance, this book is fairly substantially different than the back cover copy describes. I only mention this because I think other readers, like me, expect books to have more than a passing resemblance to their jacket copy and this one comes perilously close to nto doing so. It is also a sequel, although that is not noted on the book and a lack of knowledge of the previous story did leave me at a bit of a disadvantage, although as is the case with most romances written today, it stood alone well enough aside from a few references to backstory. This is the story of Chloe, who is visiting her late brother's wife and her new husband at teh same time Brandt, Lord Salcombe, her chief nemesis. She spends much of her time during the visit either sparring a little peevishly with Brandt or trying to determine if the local lord, who is a safe and friendly sort, is the man for her. When Chloe's guardian writes to tell her of his plans to marry her off to a disgusting, old reprobate, Chloe decides that the time has come to force Sir Preston's hand and she manages to find herself in a compromising situation with him, not that any sparks fly or that anything untoward happens. At this point a whole comedy of errors ensues, leading to Chloe's engagement not to Sir Preston but to Brandt, Lord Salcombe, who might turn out to be the perfect man for her in the end. The story is a light and fluffy bit of fleeting entertainment that didn't turn out to be terribly memorable as I had to flip back through the book in order to write this review. I didn't love the immature heroine who went from self-involved to consciously caring of others' feelings in the space of a paragraph and I wondered at the chemistry between the main characters. Not the best romance I've read but not the worst either.

Two shorts

Driving R. to dance on Monday, I saw a sign that said "Slow Funeral" on it. I noted the lack of appropriate punctuation and went on my way. Driving R. to dance on Tuesday, the sign was still up. So perhaps I should stand corrected. If it spanned two days, it was indeed a slow funeral.

I'm still working on organizing the basement (only 4 more boxes left to deal with in total!) and decided to move the seven thousand cans of paint from the corner the previous homeowners stashed them in. As I was moving them, I found several I can get rid of which inspired joy out of all proportion. Then I noticed one I thought I should probably be keeping based on the color smeared down the can. It's labelled "Prison White." Hmmmmm. We've always called it "Re-sale White" and given our penchant for moving hither, thither, and yon, we've generally left the walls this color because of unimaginative buyers. Might have to re-think or maybe make the kids touch-up paint with it as a part of their work-release programs when they are in trouble!

Monday, February 9, 2009

I'm so proud

None of my kids brought home report cards that come anywhere close to showing the brains that God gave them so I've been left with very little to be proud of scholastically this past quarter. Enter T. who came home proudly flourishing a perfect attendance ribbon. Too bad his brain didn't appear to attend school daily like his body did!

Mailbox Monday

I did get some books in the mail this past week (and one today) so I thought I'd mention the goodies. I had ordered a birthday present for a friend from amazon and to make up the free shipping amount, I tucked a book in for myself as well. Shocker, I know! I am contemplating doing a triathlon so I was pleased to see a sparkly new copy of Slow Fat Triathlete by Jayne Williams come through my mailbox. I don't know if I should just do one without reading the book or if it would have information that didn't scare the pants off of me and that would make me even more eager to try one. We'll see. Might put the whole thing off 'til next year anyway so I have a chance of being a slow, less fat triathlete. :-) The other book I got arrived today and was a book I won from Luanne. It's Love and Other Natural Disasters by Holly Shumas and I could have a hard time not jumping into it right away but I should really hold off until I leave Russia during the Napoleanic Wars (War and Peace, which is giving me no peace right now). We'll see how long I manage to stay submerged in Tolstoy's world before I simply must have a break! If you are curious about what others in the book blogging world have gotten in the mail, check out The Printed Page for links.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sunday Salon: Review: The Red Queen by Margaret Drabble

I like Margaret Drabble's work. I know next to nothing about Korean history. And I have a ridiculous fascination with royalty. So Drabble's The Red Queen easily caught my interest with only the barest minimum of jacket copy. Taking a fairly unknown, at least in the West, account written by a Crown Princess in eighteenth century Korea and weaving it into a novel, Drabble has written a completely engrossing story in three sections. The first section, narrated by the Crown Princess' ghost, tells the outline of her life. She married the Crown Prince as a child, long before his later mental illness became not only evident but increasingly dangerous and uncontrollable. She tells of her everyday life, sequestered in the palace, surrounded by political enemies and a few friends. Her account of a priviledged woman's life would be interesting enough without her marriage to the Crown Prince but the manueverings that his illness caused the court and his father the King to emply were also terribly interesting. The second section of the book, once the Western reader is conversant in the Crown Princess' life, focuses on Barbara Halliwell, an English academic travelling to South Korea for a conference, and the chosen "emissary" for the Crown Princess' story. Babs reads the princess' diary on her way to the conference and her interest is so piqued that she spends much of her down time (and a bit of the conference time as well) exploring the places connected to the princess. She is accompanied by a Korean doctor she meets and the pre-eminent speaker from her conference, with whom she embarks on a brief affair. The third section shows Babs after the conference is over and all the momentous events of it are long concluded and it details how the Crown Princess' story will be passed along into the future because it is a story that deserves to be told. There is a neat convention that strikes me as particularly Drabble-esque in this last part of the book but you'll have to read it yourself to see what it is. As always in Drabble's novels, the writing is precise and tight and very well done. The links between the three sections are strong and pull the reader along happily. I am thoroughly glad I took the time to read this one last month and recommend it to others who like depth and thoughtful reading in their lives.


I wish I could come up with an effective punishment for my children that didn't involve punishing me. Two of the three are currently grounded for lying, which I cannot and will not abide. Why is lying to me so much easier than the truth, especailly when they know how ballistic I get when I find out they've lied? And nothing punishment-wise seems to affect them besides being denied time with friends. However, this also means that I am trapped at home with grouchy, crabby children 24/7. This is not a happy time for any of us. ::sigh:: Someday I'm going to look back and think this was an easy time in their lives, aren't I? Right now it sure doesn't feel that way though.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Review: Cordero's Forced Bride by Kate Walker

Last review today, I promise!

I have to say it's been a long time since I read a series romance book but for some reason, I felt compelled to pick one up at the store and read it. I should have remembered why it had been so long. The only good thing I can say about this book is that it didn't suck up too much of my valuable reading time since it was so short and such a quick read. The premise is that Alexa's sister leaves her groom (and her father's business partner), Santos Cordero, at the altar. This is a terrible thing since it turns out that Alexa's father has embezzled money from his future son-in-law and the wedding present was for Cordero not to press charges, nevermind that the bride herself was a wedding present of sorts to Cordero (ie not a love match). Alexa, of course, doesn't know these circumstance and is horrified by Cordero's seeming lack of devastation by his unceremonious jilting. He, on the other hand, thinks she knows and vows she will be the one to pay her father's debts, in his bed. The two tumble into bed on after the mock reception. Hello, your sister was supposed to marry this man only a few short hours ago and you are so overcome with passion that you can't keep away? Obviously this plot twist bothered me but as ridiculous as the instantaneous lust storyline was, the writing in this was appalling. I've already posted my favorite line but rest assured there are other equally laughable bits in here. I also wonder at the lack of an editor. When Alexa flees Cordero and he ultimately follows her, he ends up leaving her home in a raging storm, bad enough to bring down a massive tree that crushes his car. And yet after the two of them traipse off in this fury of nature to prove to Alexa that he wasn't lying about not being able to leave, they are overcome by passion so dire that they must again immediately jump into the sack so Cordero carries her into her room, which is illuminated by the light of the moon. A storm so fierce trees are toppled has a moon shining brightly through it? Really? England's storms (and specifically Yorkshire) must be far different than those I've seen here in the US. Where, oh where, was Walker's editor and why was this not somehow altered or completely struck from the manuscript? ::sigh:: Obviously I won't be heading back into series romance again any time soon since this has cured me of the desire for quick, easy happy endings in the near future (not that I'll eschew all romance but the short serials will not darken my door again too soon).

God bless kids

Anyone contemplating having children should try mine out before making that life-changing, forever-after commitment. Things they've done recently that could make me cheerfully wring their necks:

Mom's towel is somehow better than their own towels so when I came home from my run looking forward to my shower, my towel was already cold and soggy from use.

The beasties love nuts and despite asking them nicely to crack the dratted things (I buy them shelled but the ones we have now were a gift and therefore still in their shells) over the garbage, I still had sharp shells all over the floor and counter. This is particularly not nice to discover in bare feet.

Children numbers 2 and 3 went through their closets this weekend as requested. I had loads of clothes to fold and put into a box for my sister's munchkins. I did not also expect to find a mountainous pile of shirts that still fit sprawled across child #3's floor instead of in the closet where he originally discovered them.

As if the wet towel wasn't enough, when I came home from my run, I also discovered a frying pan coated with egg left on the stove for the kitchen fairy to clean-up. The kitchen fairy also found raw egg dripped down the front of the cabinents. Gack!

The basement, aside from the one day *I* worked very hard and made it immaculate, is and has remained a landfill for Toys R Us since we moved in.

Because sneaking things seems to be standard procedure for the K. kids, I also discovered an old receipt wrapped around something that had been chewed up and spit out on the (carpeted) floor of the basement closet. Yes, it was all glued to the carpet and no, I still haven't figured out what it was originally although chocolate seems to be the prime candidate right now.

This is all just what I've discovered so far in the past two days. I swear pets are easier! So if you are thinking about having kids, get a puppy. You'll thank me for it.

Review: Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

What a cool concept for a book: nesting stories like Russian babushka dolls. I read a later book of Mitchell's and thoroughly enjoyed it but was still leary of this one given that I already knew that Mitchell pushed the time period of at least one (turns out it was two) of his stories into the realm of the future and I am not often happy to follow where speculative fiction leads. But this was a marvelous book that managed to keep me engaged even through the sections about which I initially worried. Mitchell takes us through the centuries and around the world in his amazingly inter-linked story novel. We start in the 1850's in the tropics reading the diary of an upstanding American notary traveling home from an assignment. The diary ends abruptly mid-sentence as we jump to letters written to a friend by a penniless English composer in the Netherlands. We leave our composer mid-story to detail a young female detective in California looking into the suspicious deaths of several people in connection with a power plant funding corporate greed and carelessness. Our detective in mortal peril, we move onto a disheartening modern day England where a small publisher fleeing the thug brothers of his most famous author is committed to an assisted living home by his brother. Onward to a Korea set in the future where bio-engineering and corporate dissimulation have reached new terrifying highs. And thence to an island in the Pacific where the remnants of civilization, starting over after an unnamed catastrophic event has almost completely decimated the human race, we come to the apex of the story. Each story ties into the previous story in inventive ways and the arc of the story, especially as it gains momentum, running back through the earlier stories and telling the tales originally left untold, is masterful. This was well worth the time I spent and once I understood and accepted the form, it moved along swimmingly.

Review: The Garden of the Finzi-Continis by Giorgio Bassani

I ran across this book on one of my book group lists on the internet a couple of years ago but like so many books, I bought it and promptly stashed it into the masses to be read at some vague and later date. It can be quite hard to be rescued from this indignity as I forget about these books but this one is apparently a classic of Italian literature and appears on the list of books that could be read for the 1% Well Read Challenge so I headed to my stacks and pulled it out. The story, told from the perspective of a man looking back in time, tells of the Finzi-Contini family, a rich and somewhat reclusive Jewish family in Italy in the years leading up to World War II. The narrator is a young man, a Jew, who comes to be included in the inner sanctum of the Finzi-Continis, first befriending Alberto and Micol Finzi-Contini and then falling in love with the beautiful Micol. The story is an intricate one that balances the growing menace throughout Europe with the insular nature of the Finzi-Contini estate. The novel starts when the narrator is traveling with friends to Etruscan tombs. Their young daughter innocently sends him on a journey through memory to the time that he knew Alberto and Micol and their intriguing, eccentric family. This is not a lighthearted book, even though it details the narrator's growing love for Micol. The future looms too darkly over the Ferrarese Jews, including the Finzi-Contini family for all their seeming unconcern for Hitler and the suddenly enforced racial laws. There is a definite feeling of melancholy and dirge about the book and whether this is original or a function of the translation, it suits the storyline quite well. I won't say this is an easy book; it would be difficult if for no other reason than that we as readers know what inescapable fate is in store for these people but it is also a slow and ponderous book to read. There is much to appreciate but it has to be done slowly and with great deliberation.

Review: Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

I've been sitting and stewing about this review for several weeks now because I have had a hard time deciding how to review a book that has so many plot twists that it resembles nothign so much as a DNA double helix. Obviously plot summary of any length would ruin the reading experience for the three people in the world yet to read this fascinating story of two Victorian era women who prove that appearances and even perceptions can be completely deceiving. I'm sure some other reviewer before me has labelled this a tour de force and it really is so I'll just echo their rather trite sentiment. I was happily accepting of the story that our first narrator, Sue, an abandonned child whose mother was hanged for thieving and who was subsequently raised and protected from the more sordid aspects of her situation by a loose gang of petty criminals, tells us. But this is a Rashomon of novels and nothing is as it seems, with each narrator building on previous accounts, and in some cases completely and totally turning what the reader knows to be true on its head. This could have been disconcerting except that Waters handles it well and never makes the reader think that she has thrown a twist in out of the blue. We are as surprised as some of the characters as they find out the truth of their lives and who they are, different in so many ways from their original perceptions of themselves. I wouldn't call this a thriller but it is definitely suspenseful, if only because you can't wait to see what's around the next bend or laying in wait for you on the next page. This will keep you up at night, racing to finish and find out all of it, even if you are generally an early to bed person.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

New way to handle anger

W. has a new way to handle his anger at us. D. got up this morning to get ready for work and couldn't find his shaving cream, razor, toothbrush, toothpaste, etc. Conveniently, W. had just appeared at our bedside gleeful with the news that today was a snow day. So he was actually there to hear D. explode after looking in more drawers that I think our bathroom contains. Amazingly for a child who claims not to have touched any of it, W. knew immediately where to look for all of dad's toiletries. They were in the most obvious of all places: under this bedside table. I had to roll the other way in bed to hide the chuckles and he handed things over to a steaming mad D. Apparently W. was madder at D. last night than he was at me since I haven't noticed anything of mine missing--yet.

Facebook: immortalizing the past

Have I mentioned my ridiculous obsession with Facebook here yet? I must admit it is fascinating to "see" people from my past, people I haven't kept in touch with or seen in years, as well as what all the folks in my daily life now are doing as we all go through our days. I particularly love doing status updates. I'm sure there are people who wish I wouldn't do them so frequently or are bored by what I write (Bored by me? How could that be, I ask you?) but I enjoy it so a big fat raspberry to them anyway. Generally when I get a friend request, there's no personal note attached although some people will write on your wall once you've accepted their request. I am equally guilty of requesting and writing nothing, just doing a quick scan of their wall and cheerfully going about my business tossing possums or parking cars (for those of you not on facebook, just ignore this strangeness). So when my husband forwarded me a friend request he'd gotten because of the personal note on it, I was surprised. Apparently I'd met this guy once or twice in total (he's a fraternity brother of D.'s but he was enough younger that I'd graduated before he got to our college) and I really honestly don't remember him at all. So it was a bit of a surprise that he remembers me. What he wrote was: "So which one of these three was K. [he misspelled my name] pregnant with when she whooped me shotgunning a beer?". Ok, aside from the period all out of place and lonely outside of the quotation marks, which was the way he wrote it, not the way I typed it in, gentle reader, I want to go down on record saying that I am 100% certain I was not shot-gunning beers while I was pregnant. But I did crack a bit of a smile to hear that this is how I am remembered (and he said in a later comment to D. that I was the only one to beat him in his four years at school--go me!!!). The funniest bit of all of this is that I have not been this girl for so long, it took facebook to remind me that I did party a bit once upon a time because I had completely forgotten. Maybe I should try to recapture a bit of the carefree spirit of the girl who could outshotgun the entire fraternity, not that I think I'd do it in the same way these days but it probably wouldn't hurt to let it all hang out a bit more often than I do now (provided we don't let our kids get facebook accounts and see what we're upt to any time soon!).

Monday, February 2, 2009

Mailbox Monday

It's so very exciting when I actually have something to report for Mailbox Monday. And this past week, I did get a book in the mail. Even better, it was a totally unexpected goodie. The kind folks at Algonquin Books sent me a copy of Mei-Ling Hopgood's memoir Lucky Girl. Since it arrived on Saturday, I have been making my way through it, annoyed at the interruptions that have taken me away from it (Super Bowl? Who really cares about the Super Bowl?) so I'll be finished and have a review for it soon. Maybe I'll be lucky again this week and find more unexpected good reads in the mailbox. I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Sunday Salon: Reading month in review

January was a pretty good month for me reading-wise. I read 11 books in their entirety: Amy's Answering Machine by Amy Borkowsky, I Wanna Be Sedated edited by Faith Conlon and Gail Hudson, The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley, How Not to Live Abroad but Shaun Briley, Firmin by Sam Savage, Fingersmith by Sarah Waters, The Garden of the Finzi-Continis by Giorgio Bassani, Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, Cordero's Forced Bride by Kate Walker, The Red Queen by Margaret Drabble, and The Viscount's Bride by Ann Elizabeth Cree. I didn't manage to finish any of the books I've carried over from 2008 but that'll come. My favorite book of the month was probably The Red Queen. It was a really engrossing read. My least favorite would be either Amy's Answering Machine or Cordero's Forced Bride. I finished three challenges this month and am now in spitting distance of finishing several more. It was a pretty good reading month full of satisfying reads that kept me up way past my bedtime.

Looking forward to February, I have 3 review books I need to tackle. The good news is that I am already half way through one of them. I also have 6 reviews from the January books to write and post so I need to get on that and not fall so far behind. I have one challenge that finishes up in February but it'll definitely challenge me to complete it since it calls for me to finally get back to and finish War and Peace. In general, it's looking like it'll be a pretty good month. And if I actually finish W&P in a timely manner, I will probably gloat at book club, so that'll make the read worth it too!

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