31 December 2008

What I Loved, 2008

I keep a little notebook on my nightstand. In it I write down the books I read over the course of a year. In addition to the book's title and author, I usually jot a little note regarding my overall impression about that particular title.

A couple people asked for my favorites of the year. I narrowed it down to the top five in fiction and non-fiction.

Top 5 Fiction of 2008 (it was really, really hard to narrow it down to five):
1. Wintersmith - Sir Terry Pratchett (he was recently knighted by Queen Elizabeth)
2. The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman
3. An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England - Brock Clarke
4. The Pale Blue Eye - Louis Bayard
5. I Love You, Beth Cooper - Larry Doyle

Top 5 Young Adult Fiction of 2008:
1. Redwall - Brian Jacques
2. The Percy Jackson and The Olympians books (The Lightning Thief, et. al.) - Rick Riordan
3. Soon I Will Be Invincable - Austin Grossman
4. Zel - Donna Jo Napoli
5. The Twilight series - Stephanie Meyer

Top 5 Non-Fiction of 2008:
1. The Areas of My Expertise - John Hodgman
2. The Shock Doctrine - Naomi Klein
3. The $64 Tomato - William Alexander
4. Blood Brothers - Michael Weisskopf
5. The Amazing Mackerel Pudding Plan - Wendy McClure

Top 5 Comic Books of 2008:
1. One Hundred Demons - Lynda Barry
2. Owly: A Time To Be Brave - Andy Runton
3. The Mouse Gaurds - David Peterson
4. Too Cool To Be Forgotten - Alex Robinson
5. Funhome - Alison Bechtel

With the good, you get the bad and I read some stinkers this year. Stay far away from the following books, the worst I read in 2008, if you know what's good for you:
1. Footsucker - Geoff Nicholson
2. Alligator - Lisa Moore (I have no recollection of reading this book, other than the fact that there are no alligators in it.)
3. Eye Contact - Cammie McGovern (my note for this says it all: "meh.")
4. Generation Ecstasy - Simon Reynolds
5. The Monstrous Memoirs of a Mighty McFearless - Ahmet Zappa (which is too bad because I love the title)

Leeanthro wondered what book I'd like to hear on audio. My choice is Terry Pratchett's bloody fantastic Wintersmith, mainly because I'd love to hear the Feegles (they have Scottish accents and are hilarious).

So there you go. Here's to a 2009 filled with great books, comics, poetry: beautiful, beautiful words.

30 December 2008

A Year In Books or Take That, 90.

I know, I know.

I've been M.I.A. for about two weeks now - the longest I've gone without writing here while I've been at home (though I did spend four days in Chicago away from a computer). I've been busy what with Christmas and all (more to come later, especially a picture of Flynn and her new doll, Kit with their matching dresses).


It's that time of year when I list all of the books I read over the course of 2008 (I'm a day early but I'll finish my current book tonight).

(Deep breath in) Here goes:

1. The Thief Lord - Cornelia Funke
2. Toast - Nigel Slater
3. It's Not About The Tapas - Polly Evans
4. The Devil Wears Prada - Lauren Weisberger
5. Saturday - Ian McEwan
6. The Solace of Leaving Early - Haven Kimmel
7. Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony - Eoin Colfer
8. Alligator - Lisa Moore
9. The Idiot Girls' Action-Adventure Club - Laurie Notaro
10. Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro
11. Holy Cow - Sarah MacDonald
12. My Life As A Fake - Peter Carey
13. The City of Ember - Jeanne DuPrau
14. Mr. Timothy - Louis Bayard
15. Stephen Fry's Incomplete and Utter History of Classical Music - Stephen Fry
16. March - Geraldine Brooks
17. The Pale Blue Eye - Louis Bayard
18. The Book of Ralph - John McNally
19. Into The Wild - Jon Krakauer
20. Tabloid Love - Bridget Harrison
21. The Death of Ivan Illyich - Leo Tolstoy
22. Soon I Will Be Invincible - Austin Grossman
23. The Meaning of Night - Michael Cox
24. Nature Noir - Jordan Fisher Smith
25. The Magic Circle - Donna Jo Napoli
26. Sirens - Donna Jo Napoli
27. Zel - Donna Jo Napoli
28. Spinners - Donna Jo Napoli
29. The Prince of The Pond - Donna Jo Napoli
30. Stones In Water - Donna Jo Napoli
31. Beast - Donna Jo Napoli
32. Disgrace - J.M. Coetzee
33. History Lessons for Girls - Aurelie Sheehan
34. Everything Here Is Mine - Nicole Hollander
35. My Cat's Not Fat, He's Just Big Boned - Nicole Hollander
36. Assassination Vacation - Sarah Vowell
37. The Dead Beat - Marilyn Johnson
38. Girl - Blake Nelson
39. I Love You, Beth Cooper - Larry Doyle
40. The Areas of My Expertise - John Hodgman
41. What Did I Do Last Night? - Tom Sykes
42. The White Mountains - John Christopher
43. Interworld - Neil Gaiman & Michael Reaves
44. M Is For Magic - Neil Gaiman
45. Exile - Blake Nelson
46. Take The Canoli - Sarah Vowell
47. Footsucker - Geoff Nicholson
48. Paula Spencer - Roddy Doyle
49. The Uncommon Reader - Alan Bennett
50. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian - Sherman Alexie
51. Eye Contact - Cammie McGovern
52. The Autobiography of Joseph Stalin - Richard Lourie
53. I Capture The Castle - Dodie Smith
54. Finbar's Hotel - Dermot Bolger, ed.
55. Peony In Love - Lisa See
56. Him Her Him Again The End of Him - Patricia Marx
57. After Dachau - Daniel Quinn
58. Candyfloss - Jaqueline Wilson
59. The Apprentice - Jacques Pepin
60. The Mouse Guards - David Peterson
61. Flying Dutch - Tom Holt
62. One Hundred Demons - Lynda Barry
63. Owly: A Time To Be Brave - Andy Runton
64. Too Cool To Be Forgotten - Alex Robinson
65. I Am Legend - Richard Matheson
66. Cat Getting Out Of A Paper Bag - Jeffrey Brown
67. The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency - Alexander MacColl Smith
68. Everything Is Illuminated - Jonathan Safran Foer
69. Bighead - Jeffrey Brown
70. Clumsy - Jeffrey Brown
71. The Yiddish Policemen's Union - Michael Chabon
72. The Amazing Mackerel Pudding Plan - Wendy McClure
73. Ishmael - Daniel Quinn
74. Happiness Sold Separately - Lolly Winston
75. The Italian Secretary - Caleb Carr
76. Complications - Atul Gawande
77. Pigtopia - Kitty Fitzgerald
78. Eat This Not That! For Kids - David Zinczenko
79. The Places In Between - Rory Stewart
80. A Zoo In My Luggage - Gerald Durell
81. We Need To Talk About Kevin - Lionel Shriver
82. Georgie - Malachy Doyle
83. Now Is The Hour - Tom Spanbauer
84. Eat This Not That! - David Zinczenko
85. The Great God Pan - Donna Jo Napoli
86. Three Cups of Tea - Greg Mortenson and D.O. Relin
87. Don't Try This At Home - Kimberly Witherspoon & Andrew Friedman, eds.
88. Mixed-Up Max - Dick King-Smith
89. Generation Ecstasy - Simon Reynolds
90. Twilight - Stephanie Meyer
91. New Moon - Stephanie Meyer
92. Eclipse - Stephanie Meyer
93. Breaking Dawn - Stephanie Meyer
94. Funhome - Alison Bechdel
95. The Shock Doctrine - Naomi Kelin
96. Nation - Terry Pratchett
97. The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman
98. Mississippi Sissy - Kevin Sessums
99. Snakes and Earrings - Hitomi Kanehara
100. Half-Moon Investigations - Eoin Colfer
101. The Amulet - Kazu Kibuishi
102. Absurdistan - Gary Shteyngart
103. The $64 Tomato - William Alexander
104. Beautiful Stranger - Hope Donahue
105. S/He - Minnie Bruce Pratt
106. Wish I Could Be There - Allen Shawn
107. The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao - Junot Diaz
108. The Kiss and Other Stories -Kate Chopin
109. Undead and Unemployed - Mary Janice Davidson
110. Blood Brothers - Michael Weisskopf
111. Speak - Laurie Halse Anderson
112. An Arsonist's Guide To Writers' Homes In New England - Brock Clarke
113. Twelve - Nick McDonell
114. Wintersmith - Terry Pratchett
115. Dragonslippers - Rosalind Penfold
116. The Monstrous Memoirs of a Mighty McFearless - Ahmet Zappa
117. The Lightning Thief - Rick Riordan
118. The Sea of Monsters - Rick Riordan
119. The Titan's Curse - Rick Riordan
120. Redwall - Brian Jacques

whew.

Yeah, one hundred and twenty. That's a lot of books.

17 December 2008

Gingerbread House

Flynn and her fellow kindergartners made "gingerbread" houses today in class. The house is constructed with graham crackers and a milk carton. They had a blast and could hardly wait to take it home.

Flynn shared hers with Evan and they dove in almost as soon as we walked in the door.

They're so sugared up right now I believe they're vibrating.

I think I'll send them outside to play in the snow.

Lykke Li with "Little Bit"



This song, Little Bit by Swedish singer Lykke Li, hypnotizes me every time and I've been grooving to it for a couple of weeks now. It just crawls inside my brain and makes me want to move, if not like the dancers getting their freak on in this video, then something very similar.

Anyway, hope you like it as well.

12 December 2008

Flynnie's New Quilt

Yesterday I got on the stick and finished Flynn's "Kit" quilt. Since she's become obsessed with Kit Kitteridge, an American Girl doll, she's a)wanted to look like Kit and b)possess all of Kit's stuff, including Kit. The day she had her hair cut to look like Kit we stopped by the fabric store, a dangerous thing for my mother and I to do but patterns were on sale for $1.

I'd been planning on making Flynn a quilt for a while but couldn't pin down what fabrics to use. The Kit obsession gave me an idea: Kit's stories take place during the 1930's so I decided to use Depression-era reproduction cottons. Flynn, my mom and I started pulling bolts of fabric left and right but settled on five (I already had the small print cherry fabric at home, which Flynn insisted on using); later I would purchase two yards of '30's reproduction prints from a fabric store in Urbana.

I have to say that Flynn has a good eye for color and pattern since she's the one who picked out the majority of the fabrics.The quilt is composed of 12" blocks alternating with 4-patch blocks (4, 6" squares sewn together). I found the backing at Hancock's on their clearance table for 60% off. Flynn loves the peachy-pink color and the white flowers pair nicely with the rest of the floral patterns in the quilt top. Flynn chose the threads I quilted with; red, light blue, yellow, lavender, and baby pink. The binding is also a reproduction fabric but is not used in the quilt top at all, but I think it looks nice.
Most importantly, Flynn loves it. She wrapped herself up in it as soon as she laid eyes on it.Now she wants matching quilts for each of her dolls (she calls them her sisters): Maria, Sophie, Jessie and Katherine. I'll need to make two extra as the Fat Man is bringing her Kit and Kit's best friend, Ruthie.

I better get sewing.

11 December 2008

Tea and Cookies

I made six dozen of these deliciously crispy sesame cookies this morning; five dozen for a church fundraiser and some for our letter carrier (I'm eating what's left). The cookies are *this* close to being vegan; no butter or milk and I'm sure there's some substitute for the egg.

Now if you'll excuse me I have some cookies to devour...

10 December 2008

Ray of Light

Here's a little meme I stole from Facebook. It's fun and possibly a bit revealing.

1. Put your iPod or whatever music player you have on shuffle. (I don't own an iPod, so I'm using my Sansa miniclip).
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.
3. YOU MUST WRITE THAT SONG NAME DOWN NO MATTER HOW SILLY IT SOUNDS!
4. Tag 5 friends who might enjoy doing this as well as the person you got this from. Let them know they've been tagged.

OK, I'm using my miniclip and there aren't a lot of deep meaningful songs on here - I use this when I'm working out and it's heavily stacked with fast-moving techno and punk. I'm just sayin'.

IF SOMEONE SAYS "IS THIS OKAY" YOU SAY?
Poprocks & Coke by Green Day

WHAT WOULD BEST DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONALITY?
Times Like These by Foo Fighters

WHAT DO YOU LIKE IN A GUY/GIRL?
Hyperactive! by Thomas Dolby (strange considering my husband can sleep like a hibernating bear anywhere anytime)

WHAT IS YOUR LIFE'S PURPOSE?
Spitfire by Prodigy

WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO?
Here It Goes Again by OK Go

WHAT DO YOUR FRIENDS THINK OF YOU?
Volcano Girls by Veruca Salt

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT VERY OFTEN?
Blitzkrieg Bop by The Ramones

WHAT IS 2+2?
Ana Ng by They Might Be Giants

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR BEST FRIEND?
Preparedness by The Bird and The Bee

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE PERSON YOU LIKE?
The One Thing by INXS

WHAT IS YOUR LIFE STORY?
Hell by Squirrel Nut Zippers

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP?
Never Miss a Beat by The Kaiser Chiefs

WHAT DO YOU THINK WHEN YOU SEE THE PERSON YOU LIKE?
Philosophofee by Ima Robot

WHAT DO YOUR PARENTS THINK OF YOU?
Jimmy Neutron Theme by Bowling For Soup

WHAT WILL YOU DANCE TO AT YOUR WEDDING?
So What'cha Want by The Beastie Boys

WHAT WILL THEY PLAY AT YOUR FUNERAL?
Disco Infiltrator by LCD Soundsystem

WHAT IS YOUR HOBBY/INTEREST?
2 Atoms In A Molecule by Noah and The Whale

WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST SECRET?
Supermodel by Jill Sobule

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR FRIENDS?
Move Any Mountain by The Shamen

WHAT'S THE WORST THING THAT COULD HAPPEN?
I Was Dancing In The Lesbian Bar by Jonathan Richman (But that's where they play all the good music!)

HOW WILL YOU DIE?
Take Your Mama by Scissor Sisters

WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU REGRET?
Meltdown! by The Aquabats

WHAT MAKES YOU LAUGH?
Happy Rap by Junior Senior

WHAT MAKES YOU CRY?
Town Called Malice by The Jam

WILL YOU EVER GET MARRIED?
Moving by Supergrass

WHAT SCARES YOU THE MOST?
Tron by Foals

DOES ANYONE LIKE YOU?
Troubled Times by The Merrymakers

IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE?
Shut Up and Let Me Go by The Ting Tings

WHAT HURTS RIGHT NOW?
True Faith by New Order

WHAT WILL YOU POST THIS AS?
Ray of Light by Madonna

I tag:
Looseyfur
Quigs
Mrs. Chicken
Leeanthro
Belle Noelle

09 December 2008

This Ain't No Party, This Ain't No Disco



Lately, I've been listening to a lot of Talking Heads (a band I've loved for what seems like forever) and adore this live version of "Life During Wartime" from their excellent concert film, Stop Making Sense. I can't help but dance when I hear this song.

Jeez, I wish I had David Byrne's aerobic capacity. He does not stop moving. And Tina Weymouth jumping around with her bass just makes me want to lie down.

05 December 2008

The Crazy Mommy Plan by A Certain 5-Year-Old Girl

Hey, kids! Are you tired of the same old, boring, work-a-day, even-keeled mom? Do you long for some excitement? Follow my technique, perfected over the course of five years, and you too will have your very own Crazy Mommy and you will certainly spice things up at your house!

Step 1: Be 5.

Step 2: While your mom is preparing a meal, claim to be the "starvingest child in the whole world". (I've found that this works best at dinner time.) It is important that you wait until she is actually in the act of cooking before you tell her you're hungry. Crawling around on the floor helps.

Step 3: Ask for a piece of candy. Repeatedly.

Example:
You:"Mom? Can I have a piece of candy?"

Mom: "No. I'm making dinner."
You: "Please? Just one little piece of candy?"
Mom: "No."
You: "How about now?"
Mom: "I said no."
You: "Now?"

Keep this up until your mom starts to count to 3. It is important that you stop asking at count 2 or else you'll wind up in Time Out on the stairs, which is no fun for everybody involved (especially you).


Step 4: At this point your mom may offer you a variety of healthy snack options. Turn them all down no matter how much you like these foods. Carrots? No. Yogurt? No. Apple slices? No. Piece of string cheese? No way. Cracker? Uh-uh. Counter the offer with a request for either candy or a fruit snack.

You should notice that your mom is starting to act a little funny; closing drawers a little more forcefully than normal, not being able to find a utensil (it helps if you took whatever it is she's looking for and put it in your own play kitchen), and she might be a little red in the face.

Step 5: Mom will offer you a slice of bread and butter. Take it. You have two ways to go here. One way is to take a single tiny, measly bite out of the slice of bread, claim you are full and throw it in the trash. The other way is to sit down at the table with your bread and butter and proceed to eat only the butter, not the bread (This is important: DO NOT EAT THE BREAD).

Step 6: Once your family is sitting at the table and eating the meal your mother just prepared, take one look at it and proclaim it to be "yuck." If you have dramatic tendencies, turn it up to 11; push away from the table and make a sick face, claim your tummy hurts and you can't eat dinner, cry. Also state, "I'm not eating that." It does not matter what's in front of you. It could be your favorite meal in the world (like plain spaghetti noodles with butter and Parmesan cheese). Do not eat it.

Step 6a: Another little trick I've come up with is to tell your mom that your dinner is dirty and needs to be washed off. I just did this the other night and the result was spectacular (my mom developed this cool twitching near her eye). The meal consisted of ham and peas (I call them "green drops"; it makes them sound nicer.). After following steps 1-6 of my Crazy Mommy plan I added this twist: I picked up the pieces of ham off my plate, carried them to the bathroom, rinsed them off with some water from the sink, and returned to the table. I also told my mom that I couldn't eat the peas because they "had cracks in them." Mommy's face turned a lovely shade of purple.

Step 7: Only after you've been threatened with no books before bed do you succumb to eating your dinner and then eat only the requisite number of bites (I have to eat 5 full bites of everything on my plate). Make sure you eat as slowly as possible and with great exaggeration.

Step 8: Ask for a piece of candy.

If you follow my 8 Steps to success you, too, will have a fun Crazy Mommy!

03 December 2008

Flight of The Conchords



I've only recently discovered Flight of The Conchords (we don't have HBO) and this song, Foux du Fafa, makes me laugh out loud.

02 December 2008

The Wish List

My children have been working feverishly on their Christmas Wish lists for Santa for months. This year, Flynn wrote out hers by herself and has been adding to it almost daily. It consists mainly of items from the American Girl catalog and Star Wars action figures. Evan's list is easy: he would like the Lego catalog. In its entirety. When the Lego catalog arrived I mentioned to Frank, "Evan's Christmas list came in the mail today."

My list is also short and sweet. It consists of 3 items:

1. Sharp knives. Frank and I were given a nice set of knives as a wedding gift and we have used them almost every day for over a dozen years. They're more than a little dull and the wooden handles are cracking.

2. A few sessions with a personal trainer. I'd like to work with a trainer to make sure my strength training form is good so I don't continue to injure myself.

3. Photoshop, Illustrator or at the very least Publisher. My new computer does not have any sort of imaging software and I could really use some, mainly for CD case liners.

What's on your wish list?

You know, aside from world peace, an end to poverty and hunger and war and all that good stuff.

30 November 2008

First Snow

This is what Frank and I awoke to this morning; both children virtually screaming with excitement, "It's snowing! It's snowing! It's almost Christmas! Can we go outside? Can we? Can we build a snowman? Get up! It's snowing!"

Flynn added, "It's almost God's birthday!"

29 November 2008

13 Years Or So And Counting

This morning at my mother-in-law's home my daughter responded with the following when asked what she'd like for breakfast, "One of these," as she pointed to a chocolate covered graham cracker, "with whip cream on top."

Me: Uh, no, try again. No cookies for breakfast.

Flynn: That's NOT a cookie. Cookies are round.

Me: Cookies can be pretty much any shape. I know Oma will let you have cookies with whip cream for breakfast, but I'm not Oma. No cookies.

(There was no getting by me on this one; Oma had left at 5 a.m. for Branson, Missouri of all places.)

She looked at me, put her hands on her little hips and replied with anger in her voice, "When I'm a grown up, I'm going to live all. by. my. self."

Me: OK, then you can have cookies for breakfast any time you want.

Flynn: Yeah, that's what I was thinking.

26 November 2008

Giving Thanks

Even though I'm feeling under the weather (curse those 6th graders and their coughing), I'm feeling decidedly thankful for the following:

1. My husband and children. I honestly have no idea what my life would be like without them, but I'm certain it wouldn't be nearly as full of love and laughter.

2. That even after 6 and a half years of his being gone, I can still hear my Dad's voice in my head. I can still hear his laugh and I pray to God that I never forget it.

3. That, almost 3 years after his death, I can still hear my father-in-law's cheery "Hallo, everybody!" when I cross the threshold of my mother-in-law's house. Even as cancer was ravaging his body, he was in terrible, almost inconceivable pain and confined to the couch, he would still call out to us as we entered the house. I miss him almost as much as I miss my own dad.

4. I am eternally grateful for my family, those related by blood or marriage and those people to whom I'm close enough to consider family. To have them in my life makes everything better and brighter.

5. My friends. Those of you I know in and outside the realm of the Internet have been there to commiserate with me, lift my spirits, make me laugh, offer advice, inspire me creatively. Thank you. You are each a treasure to me.

6. Books and magazines.

7. Great music.

8. Coffee and tea.

9. Excellent chocolate.

10. My sister-in-law's baking. I will consume many, many more calories than normal over the next few days due mainly in part to Karin's cheesecake.

I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving.

24 November 2008

Back On The Job

I submitted my substitute teacher application at my children's school way back in August at the beginning of the school year.

Until today I'd been in the school in a professional capacity for a whopping grand total of a little over an hour.

This morning I rose earlier than I normally do - well before Frank (and the sun) was up in order to shower, make myself presentable, prepare 3 lunches instead of 2, have breakfast and my requisite 2 cups of coffee, get the children up, dressed, fed and out the door before 7:30. I wanted to be a little early to school so I could go over any sub plans the teacher I was filling in for left.

I was with sixth graders today, an age group I have not spent this much time with since I was part of it (a very long time ago). All in all, the day went well in spite of the fact that I had to teach two sections of math (pre-algebra no less). The kids and I muddled our way through some basic equations. I hope I didn't confuse them too much. I'm thankful that over lunch the 8th grade English teacher confided that she, too, has an uneasy relationship with numbers.

My homeroom group consisted of 28 11-year-olds. 28 mostly very talkative and highly charged 11-year-olds. They. never. shut. up. Even when they were supposed to be quiet, some of them were muttering. The kids were, on the whole, very good and helped me with their daily routine. Most of them have siblings that are in either Evan's or Flynn's classes. And I learned something else today: 11-year-old boys cannot keep their collective bottoms in their chairs to save their lives. I don't mind kids getting up and sitting down, but the constant fidgeting was something I found wearing and it was compounded by the fact that they did not have P.E. today.

But I'm a veteran mom and a veteran teacher. I've been there, done that.

And it felt sooooooo good to be in the classroom again.

23 November 2008

The Decision

This was what Flynn wore to the Daddy-Daughter Dance on Friday. She was so excited to have dress shoes that had a little heel on them and she kept wanting to put stuff in her little purse, even though I told her all she really needed was a lip balm (her lips are really dry). I let her wear a little bit of lip stain and a very,very light eye shadow which thrilled her to no end.

She and her Daddy had a fun time at the dance. It is the highlight of Flynn's social calendar and she cannot wait for next year's dance.

This is what I finally decided on wearing to the Jr. League's Festival of Trees Gala: a dress from Old Navy (that I bought Friday afternoon), purple faux-suede shoes from Payless (purchased Saturday morning and they hurt like hell after a few hours of wearing - that's what I get for choosing style over comfort).

Frank and I had a good time chatting with some of his co-workers, we heard an incredibly moving speech from Amy, mom of the adorable Larkin and a sustaining member of Junior League. Her speech almost made me want to join JL it was that inspiring. Dinner was ok - no great shakes (hotel catering has failed to wow me on numerous occasions, this one included) and dessert was underwhelming (a pass-around plate of petit fours & cut up defrosted eclairs) but the company was excellent (Leeanthro, your shoes looked so comfortable and stylish). Frank and I will most likely attend next year and I'll try to remember not to stress out about what to wear.

After the disappointing dessert, Frank said he could go for a slice of cake and wondered if any place was open (it was 10:30). We headed downtown and ended up at Cafe Kopi. They were bereft of cake, but did have cookies and other dessert-type stuffs; I had a couple really yummy coconut macaroons and Frank had an apricot bar then we headed for home so I could take off my shoes.

All in all a good night in spite of my being hobbled by my shoes.

21 November 2008

Pretty Friday Music



A dear friend introduced me to The Bird and The Bee a while back and I've fallen in love with their music. I love Inara George's voice - so pretty. The band describes their music as "A futuristic 1960's American film set in Brazil" and I think that's spot on. This song, Again and Again, from their self-titled album has been floating through my brain for a couple of days and I'm fairly certain you'll find it fluttering through your head, too.

Except for maybe Freak, who will find this too slow for her tastes.

20 November 2008

Good Idea/Bad Idea

Good Idea: Going to the gym.
Bad Idea: Not listening to my body when it said, "Please stop that. You're hurting me."

Good Idea: Continuing the search for something to wear to Saturday night's shindig.
Bad Idea: Walking into Forever 21 and Charlotte Russe. I've never been in either store before and am unlikely to return. Nobody working there greeted me or even acknowledged my presence. I have no idea what Forever 21's sizing is: I tried on a little black dress in a small, which was too tight across the back, so I tried a medium, which was too big. I guess I wear a "smedium". I did find a cute top I could wear to a New Year's party but, again, the sizing was wonky. The same goes for Charlotte Russe. Plus, I think I'm way beyond their demographic. The music, though a nice selection of modern Christmas tunes, was way too loud and hurt my ears. Banana Republic didn't help either as they don't carry petite-sized clothing in their Market Place store. I bought nothing. Looks like I'll resort to my closet and see what I can come up with.

Good Idea: Grocery shopping.
Bad Idea: Grocery shopping when I haven't had lunch.

Good Idea: Just saying "no" to the donut and choosing Emerald's Cocoa Roast almonds.
Bad Idea: Inhaling approximately 3/4 of the container in the car. Those things are crazy addictive.

17 November 2008

My American Girl

A month or so ago I mentioned to Flynn that I thought she'd look very cute with her hair cut short. I told her a chin-length bob would look great on her.

She looked at me like I'd just killed the cat.

So.

Saturday night as she's putting her toothbrush in her mouth, Flynn says, "I want a haircut. I want to look like Kit.*"

* For those of you not in the know, Kit is Kit Kittredge an American Girl doll, and Flynn's favorite.

"Really?" came my surprised reply.

"Yes! Let's do it before I go to school!"

"Um, ok."

Yesterday afternoon we drove over to JC Penney's with my mom to get Flynn a new 'do. Here she is waiting her turn.I gasped audibly as the first 10-inch lock of hair hit the ground. Flynn, as always, watched her stylist like a hawk making sure the haircut went exactly as she wanted. Flynn's so little that her stylist had her stand up so she could get the cut just right (I still had to trim a little when we got home). Then she styled Flynn's new hairdo just right.

Here's Flynn posing with the picture of Kit she brought to show the stylist.
Doesn't she look cute? Flynn LOVES her new haircut and so do I.

Though it did give me pause when one of the first things out of her mouth after "I look just like Kit!" was, "When I get to school K is going to look at me and say 'You look good.'" K is a boy in her class who is in love with her (as are all the boys in her class, but she likes K the best).

15 November 2008

They're Gettin' Progressive Down At The Mall

I'm on a mission to find something to wear to the Jr. League Gala next Saturday so I went to the mall this morning. I failed to find anything interesting or Gala-ish, but did score a button-down shirt, a skirt and a couple of cardigans.

As I was exiting Macy's, I momentarily stopped dead in my tracks because I heard this song over the PA: Why by 80's group The Communards, a band I loved way back in the day (I played the cassette tape I had of this this album until it fell apart and I still have my vinyl copies of extended dance mixes and singles).



I haven't heard this song in ages and certainly never heard it outside my house or circle of friends. It makes me wonder if the person in charge of putting together the music for the mall was being a tad subversive since The Communards were openly gay.

I must have looked quite the idiot as I quietly sung along to this song and tried-not-to-dance-walk my way through the mall with a goofy smile on my face . Other shoppers did give me a wide berth.

14 November 2008

The First Degree

Last night Evan received his first degree black belt.

This is something he's been working towards for a little over three years and required not only the commitment to attending classes two times a week, but in order to pass his test he needed to know his entire form (all 48 moves), half of a past form (23 moves), 2 self-defense moves, create and choreograph a demo set to music (he chose a dance mix of the Star Wars theme and performed it with his friend J, a classmate and fellow black belt), break 2 boards (they're plastic and graduate in difficulty according to a child's age), remember and perform forms for 2 weapons, AND write a one page paper on what he learned on the way to becoming a black belt.

Oh yeah, and keep up with his regular school work.

But Evan rose to the occasion and kicked ass, if I may say so. I think I was more nervous than he was - my hands were shaking during his musical form.He showed off his flying side kicks and broke his boards on the first try. He was so fast, I didn't even get a picture of him breaking the board with a flying side kick. Thankfully, another mom took pictures and is going to e-mail them to me.

Here's my boy with his brand spanking new black belt and his friend. His instructor liked their routine so much she wants them to polish it and perform it in front of their class at school. Evan and J are stoked.

On a side note, as a reward for sticking with Tae Kwondo when there were times he wanted to quit and for earning his black belt, Frank and I gave Evan a Nintendo DS (he's been saving his money to buy one for two years, I think). He was very surprised at first when he saw the box then he started jumping up and down.

And now I can't tell which makes him happier; the black belt or the gaming system.

12 November 2008

Another Theology Question

Before settling down to sleep last night Flynn asked how many days until Christmas. When I told her she exclaimed, "45 days until God's birthday!" Then she ruefully added, "How many will He be?"

As in, how old is God.


I told her I didn't know the answer and that was a good question to ask one of our parish priests next time they came to her classroom.

I wonder what his reply will be and if our priests will start cringing every time my children want to ask them a question. Evan still hasn't gotten an answer regarding his query.

(I happen to like these questions. I want my kids to be able to inquire and educate themselves, even if those questions may seem weird or silly. It shows me that Evan and Flynn are using their brains and not just following blindly; that they are creative thinkers. I don't want that individualism quashed. I encourage it.)

My Black Belt Boy

10 November 2008

Last Night

How to sing like a 5-year-old:

1. Expand your song repertoire of Hannah Montana and Jonas Brothers to include old standards like "Take Me Out To The Ball Game".

2. Sing the following lyrics:
Take me out to the ball game
Take me out with the crowd
Take me out to the ball game
Take me out to the ball game
Take me out to the ball game
'Cause it's 1,2,3 strike you're out
At the old ball game!

3. If at all possible, stand on the second floor landing in your house to sing. It offers better acoustics.

4. Sing as loud as you can. This is important.

5. Repeat steps 1-4 over and over and over.

*********
Before my son drifted off to sleep last night, he looked at me and asked, "Mom, is there a cure for the plague?" then without skipping a beat made an "OK" sign with his fingers, put them up to his eye and asked, "Can you see my fingers?"

Yeah, I don't know where that came from either.

*********
My husband and I take turns getting the kids to sleep. Sunday is traditionally his day to take Flynn to bed. We sit with our children until they fall asleep (don't judge and don't tell me we made a bad parenting choice - it works for us so back off).

Flynn fell asleep pretty quickly and I saw Frank leave her room (Evan and I were reading an Eoin Colfer book). Not too many minutes later, Flynn came in and somewhat demanded "Where's Daddy?" I escorted her back across the hall and told her Daddy was in the shower. As we entered her room she gestured to the spot on her bed where Frank had been sitting and said, "See? No Daddy! I was not all the way asleep when he left my room." She was kind of p.o.'d that her father dared leave her awake but settled down and was soon fast asleep.

*******
I'll just say that watching Death Proof has confirmed my belief that Quentin Tarantino is one strange bird who would probably benefit from some therapy.

Frank's review? "Well, that was disturbing."

And I think it was about an hour too long but Kurt Russell does a good creepy.

07 November 2008

"La La La Can Only Take You So Far"

Sarah posted this today and I thought I, too, would share this kooky amazingly cool song by The Bedroom Philosopher. It made me smile and I hope it makes you smile as well. Please enjoy.

05 November 2008

I Don't Have The Words

Words are evading me right now. I'm a jumble of giddy excitement.

Yesterday the people of this country made history; history we can be proud of.

My friend Denise forwarded me the following message from Michael Moore, so I'm going to reproduce it here:


Friends,

Who among us is not at a loss for words? Tears pour out. Tears of joy. Tears of relief. A stunning, whopping landslide of hope in a time of deep despair.

In a nation that was founded on genocide and then built on the backs of slaves, it was an unexpected moment, shocking in its simplicity: Barack Obama, a good man, a black man, said he would bring change to Washington, and the majority of the country liked that idea. The racists were present throughout the campaign and in the voting booth. But they are no longer the majority, and we will see their flame of hate fizzle out in our lifetime.

There was another important "first" last night. Never before in our history has an avowed anti-war candidate been elected president during a time of war. I hope President-elect Obama remembers that as he considers expanding the war in Afghanistan. The faith we now have will be lost if he forgets the main issue on which he beat his fellow Dems in the primaries and then a great war hero in the general election: The people of America are tired of war. Sick and tired. And their voice was loud and clear yesterday.

It's been an inexcusable 44 years since a Democrat running for president has received even just 51% of the vote. That's because most Americans haven't really liked the Democrats. They see them as rarely having the guts to get the job done or stand up for the working people they say they support. Well, here's their chance. It has been handed to them, via the voting public, in the form of a man who is not a party hack, not a set-for-life Beltway bureaucrat. Will he now become one of them, or will he force them to be more like him? We pray for the latter.

But today we celebrate this triumph of decency over personal attack, of peace over war, of intelligence over a belief that Adam and Eve rode around on dinosaurs just 6,000 years ago. What will it be like to have a smart president? Science, banished for eight years, will return. Imagine supporting our country's greatest minds as they seek to cure illness, discover new forms of energy, and work to save the planet. I know, pinch me.

We may, just possibly, also see a time of refreshing openness, enlightenment and creativity. The arts and the artists will not be seen as the enemy. Perhaps art will be explored in order to discover the greater truths. When FDR was ushered in with his landslide in 1932, what followed was Frank Capra and Preston Sturgis, Woody Guthrie and John Steinbeck, Dorothea Lange and Orson Welles. All week long I have been inundated with media asking me, "gee, Mike, what will you do now that Bush is gone?" Are they kidding? What will it be like to work and create in an environment that nurtures and supports film and the arts, science and invention, and the freedom to be whatever you want to be? Watch a thousand flowers bloom! We've entered a new era, and if I could sum up our collective first thought of this new era, it is this: Anything Is Possible.

An African American has been elected President of the United States! Anything is possible! We can wrestle our economy out of the hands of the reckless rich and return it to the people. Anything is possible! Every citizen can be guaranteed health care. Anything is possible! We can stop melting the polar ice caps. Anything is possible! Those who have committed war crimes will be brought to justice. Anything is possible.

We really don't have much time. There is big work to do. But this is the week for all of us to revel in this great moment. Be humble about it. Do not treat the Republicans in your life the way they have treated you the past eight years. Show them the grace and goodness that Barack Obama exuded throughout the campaign. Though called every name in the book, he refused to lower himself to the gutter and sling the mud back. Can we follow his example? I know, it will be hard.

I want to thank everyone who gave of their time and resources to make this victory happen. It's been a long road, and huge damage has been done to this great country, not to mention to many of you who have lost your jobs, gone bankrupt from medical bills, or suffered through a loved one being shipped off to Iraq. We will now work to repair this damage, and it won't be easy.

But what a way to start! Barack Hussein Obama, the 44th President of the United States. Wow. Seriously, wow.

29 October 2008

She's The Best

This was taken in 1973. The old man is my dad's old man, my Grandpa Fred. The curly-headed toddler is my cousin Amy and the cute baby in the picture is my sister, Katy (I'm above her rocking my crooked haircut by mom). We're on the stairs of my grandparents' house in Cincinnati sharing a box of raisins but the back of the photo claims it's Christmas.

Looking at this picture reminds me of how much I adore my sister. We've been through the shit together and no body knows me better than she does. Of course we've had our disagreements over the years, what siblings don't? But I can't recall any argument of note past 1985 when she yelled at me not to stretch out her shoes.

My sister is an amazing mother, wife, teacher and friend. Katy is one of the most thoughtful people I know. She's beautiful and vivacious and bubbly and can talk to anybody about pretty much anything - something I'm not good at at all. I honestly don't know who I'd be without her presence in my life, but I can hazard a guess that I wouldn't be very much fun to be around.

I love her with all my heart.

And I wish her the happiest of birthdays today.

26 October 2008

Soup's On!

It's a bright, sunny, yet blustery day today. I love it. Fall is my favorite season and what's not to love? Mulled apple cider, that crisp fresh smell in the air, cooler weather necessitating the wearing of jackets and sweaters (though Flynn is still trying to convince me it's not too cold to wear sandals and halter dresses), piling blankets on beds and breaking out the down comforters in anticipation of even colder nights, hot filling meals.

Today was perfect for heading to our beloved, out-of-the-way pumpkin patch. Frank had ideas of making a Death Star pumpkin this year in addition to the traditional kitty cat and bat. It's a good thing I decided to call my sister to chat before we left because she told me, "Don't go. They're out of pumpkins. They had a lousy crop this year and were short something like 20 truckloads."

What? How could the pumpkin patch be out of pumpkins? So with spirits deflated we decided to get our pumpkins at our local grocery. Not exactly the fun I had envisioned today. But it did give me the opportunity to pick up the ingredients I needed for tonight's dinner: veggie soup.

So this afternoon while Frank took the kids out to hawk Boy Scout popcorn, I made my favorite veggie soup from a recipe out of my head involving carrots, white onions, crushed tomatoes, garlic, cabbage, lots of low sodium V-8 juice as the basis for the broth and canned chick peas thrown in at the last minute.I usually play around with the amount of ingredients until I get the consistency I like. Today I used a purple cabbage just because I thought it would be fun. I really like the way it colored the broth - making it a deeper, richer red than it is normally - and the onions, which turned a pretty lavender.

Of course when it was finished I could not wait to have a wee taste.So, so good! Especially with a dash of hot sauce.

Just the thing to hit the spot on this, or any, chilly day.

24 October 2008

The Great Compromiser

The ride home from school today was filled with discussion on who I had voted for and why.

That's right, I voted today to beat the rush. Mine was the 689th ballot cast in my ballot-holding-machine-thingy at the County Clerk's office.

Anyhoo, the school my children attend is holding a mock election on Nov. 4th. Evan says he's voting for "Barry O'Vama." Flynn immediately took a contrary position until she found out that I'd also voted for "Barry".

Trying to put my reasoning for voting for the person I voted for into words and concepts my 7- and 5-year-old could understand without sounding jaded, cynical and (more than) slightly bitter was a daunting task. I told them that most of the ideas that Senator McCain has are ideas and beliefs I don't share and I'm more in harmony with Senator Obama's ideas. And while my kids tried to paint McCain as a bad person, I tried to tell them that Sen. McCain is not actually bad, he's a good man but he's just not the right choice to be president.

I couldn't tell them how disgusted I am with our current president and that Sen. McCain's presidency would mean more of the same; that the United States is currently a corporate state thanks very much to Mr. Bush and his greedy cronies. I also didn't mention McCain's running mate.

I did tell them that Senator Obama would change things for the better; that the thought of his presidency makes me hopeful for a better future for them; that Sen. Obama is fired up and his energy is infectious.

After this, Evan was silent for a bit then said, "Why don't they just work together?"

I couldn't answer him. Who knows? Maybe they will. Maybe they'll think like a 7-year-old.