Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Reading Review 2009

Wow... So I've been seeing these little reviews everywhere for books you have read in 2009. I'm not entirely sure that I can remember every book I've read in the last year and I didn't exactly keep track.

This year found me without a whole lot of new books to read, very little cash to spend on new books, and little time to go browse at the library... which means that this year I did A LOT of re-reading books I already own and have read as well as borrowing books from friends.

I re-read:

1-7. The entire Harry Potter Series from book 1-7
8-11. The entire Twilight series
12. The Secret Life of Bees (twice) (Sue Monk Kidd)
13. Poision Study (Maria V. Snider)
14. Magic Study (MVS)
15. Fire Study (MVS)
16. The India Fan (Victoria Holt)
17. The Thirteenth Tale (Dianne Setterfield)
18. The Sharing Knife (Lois McMaster Bujold)
19-21. Diary of a Whimpy Kid books 1-3 (Jeff Kiney)

Other Books I can remember reading are:

22-24. The Immortal Instrument Series (City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass) by Cassandra Clare
25. Sea Glass (MVS)
26-28. The Legend of Drizzt series by R.A. Salvatore books 1-3
29. Will Storr Vs. The Supernatural
30. Phantom of the Opera
31. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
32. Baby Proof (Emily Griffin)
33. Little Earthquakes (Jennifer Wiener)
34. My Sisters Keeper (Jodi Picoult)
35. Salem Falls (JP)
36. Keeping Faith (JP)
37. Cinderella Rules (Donna Kaufman)
38. The Host by Stephanie Meyer

I'm not entirely sure if that's every book I've read this year or not. I would like to think that I've read more... but in any case, these are the ones I'm certain I read. 38 isn't really a bad number, but I'll keep better track this year. Anyway, I'm going to steal Daphne's little book survey thingy.
Best Book Overall
That's really a tough one. I really, really, really like Keeping Faith. But the fact that I re-read both The Secret Life of Bees and The India Fan (AGAIN) speaks volumes about how good both are. I was assigned Secret Life of Bees as part of my orientation class my first year of college and I've read at least once a year ever since. I first read the India Fan when I was about 15 and it gets read about once a year too. In fact, I had to buy a new copy this year because my old one disentegrated.

Best Young Adult
This one is easy. I'm going to go with the Immortal Instruments Series. The series was aimed at the same age group as Twilight but was infinitely better written and the story line had much more to offer. Plus there is word that a prequal series will be coming out too and I'm super excited about it. I thought these books had way better characters. But that's just me. Please don't kill me Twilight Fans!!!!

Best Chunkster (450 +)
Is it sad that I didn't read very many books that fall in this category this year??? Anyway, staying within those guidelines I'd have to say The India Fan, hands down. It really is a wonderful story.

Best Unexpected Delight
Definitely Will Storr Vs. The Supernatural. It was entirely different from what I had expected when I picked it up but it was AWESOME. I can't reccomend it enough.

Best Non-Fiction
Again, not many books fell into this category... in fact only one that I can re-call so Will Storr wins by default.

Best Horror
I thought Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was hilarious. And it's one of the only books I read this year that can really justify that genre.

Biggest Dissappointment
Definitely Cinderella Rules. I thought it might actually have a cute plot, even for a fluffy book... but I was wrong. It has some horribly botched together and entirely unbelievable "plot" that the writer uses to fill in the gaps between the love scenes which start taking place almost immediately. It's seriously like two strangers meet in the back of a limo, exchange names and are making out by the time they reach their destination. Boo! Boo I say! Not intellectually stimulating in the least. There isn't even any good banter going on. Boo.

Best Re-Read
The Secret Life of Bees or again, The India Fan.

Best Guilty Pleasure
I don't feel guilty for reading! LOL I read a lot of fantasy, fiction, and young adult books, and kid books... and I enjoy them all!

That Being Said, here is a list of my goals for the New year:

1. Make a concious effort to Pay for what I NEED before spending money on what I WANT

2. Keep Track of the books that I read

That's it! Real ambitious, I know. But I've never actually made "resolutions" before, so I have to take baby steps.

Happy Up-coming New Year!

What?! It's a NEW YEAR ALREADY?! .

So, um... yeah... I haven't blogged in so long that my computer no longer automatically remembers my password for Blogger, and I had to go on a 15 minute hunt through piles of tiny slips of paper and index cards just to log on. I guess that's the holidays for you. I am always so excited in the months leading up to them, starting with Halloween. I always enjoy the whirl wind of changing decor, the excuse to bake things that are very bad for my waist line, the thrill of picking out and hiding presents and the excitement of seeing people open and enjoy them.... but honestly...

As soon as the living room floor is buried in wrapping paper and ribbon and tiny bits of toys are strewn EVERYWHERE... I'm just glad it's over and done with. I immediately begin itching to take down the tree, put every thing away and put everything back in it's place.

Our holiday was over all, pretty wonderful. Tim never had a clue what he was getting until he opened them and then was surprised that he had gotten every thing he had asked for that I had told him I wouldn't be able to afford this year. I am very sneaky. Very sneaky indeed. His favorite was probably his brand new cell phone with the full keyboard so that he can keep up with his sister in the text messaging department. He always gets so frustrated when he's in the middle of trying to text her back and she keeps sending him new ones because his old phone would automatically switch to her message and he'd have to start all over. I don't care so much for the electronics and cell phones and such... but he was very excited.

My favorite gift is going to be hard to pin down. I got a new coffee pot and I have to say... it's pretty awesome. And it's black, which is wonderful for my OCD because the old one was white and I had to attack it more than once with a tooth brush. So that was awesome, but then the hubs also got me some White Diamonds. Not the hard sparkly kind, the perfume kind and I love that too. I also got a few new books including the first in the Sookie Stackhouse series and I love books. Mom and Papa got me a new sewing machine and that made it a REALLY close call, but I have to say, my sister Allie's gift takes the cake: She bought me the first season of the Carol Burnette show on DVD. I literally squealed. I never squeal... but come on... Carol Burnette???!!!!! My all-time favorite variety show. EVER. HANDS DOWN. Nothing has ever been funnier or even come close to being as enjoyable to me as the Carol Burnette Show. It's going to be hard to top that... unless you know.. you get me season 2. *laughs*

The B got several really awesome things this year, including a new nick name. My niece, who is 2, has a hard time pronouncing people's names and so has taken to calling her "Ya-Ya-Bey-Bet." This is because whenever I fuss at Nadia I always say, "Nadia, Baby!" And I guess Anita has heard it and picked up on it. But I have to say, it's extremely cute and I crack up whenever she says it because Nadia is a Ya-Ya in every sense of the word. Other than that though, she got a new bike and some new barbies and play doh and all of the wonderful things that little 4 year old girls like. Although she isn't nearly as excitable about Santa coming as I thought she would be. After all of her constant pestering about WHEN Santa was coming, on Christmas morning she actually asked Tim if he would go check and see if the presents were there in favor of more sleep.

As for the baby, Allie took the cake again with the best gift (in my opinion). She got him a stuffed character from the Wild Things movie. His movie name was Bull. He is SOOOOOO adorable. Calvin loves him. Currently, Bull is very close in size to the baby and if you sit them in front of each other, the baby will "growl" at him and screech in joy and make other wild thing happy baby noises. Then he grabs Bull and tries to gum him to death, nose first. This was my favorite of the kids' gifts because I LOVE the Wild Things book and so does Ya-Ya. We read it ALL THE TIME, and even though I thought the movie was way different, I still really loved it too.

Anyway, the holidays, while wonderful, were hectic and everything was going a mile a minute. Then when they were over I spent 3 days taking down all of the decorations, organizing them and sending them up into the attic crawl space via Tim. Then I had to go through all the kids' stuff and get rid of old and broken and grown out of things to make room for all of the new things and I had to organize all of the toys and clothes and such because they are currently sharing a room. The rest was just a matter of cleaning up the aftermath and putting everything back where it belonged. And now that it's all done and put away, we can all finally relax and enjoy our new things and a little bit of quiet time. Whew!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Holiday/Christmas Meme

I saw this little Meme over on No Whey Momma, and thought I'd go ahead and fill it out too.

Eggnog or Hot Chocolate?
I'd choose Hot Chocolate if I'm choosing between the two.

Does Santa wrap the presents or leave them open under the tree?
Hrm... if they are big gifts like the scooter Santa got the B this year for christmas, it is left unwrapped with a big bow under the tree. All other presents are wrapped. P.S.- In my case Santa still wraps my presents and leaves them under my parents' tree and then my Papa drives them over on Christmas morning and says, "Look what Santa left at OUR HOUSE!" Yep... there is absolutely NO, and I mean NO disbelieving or discussing the possible non-existence of Santa Clause in my parents house... otherwise "Santa" gets all cranky and threatens to not bring any presents next year. Serious.

Colored lights on a tree or white?
I have to do the white lights. I can't do the colored ones. I'm extremely OCD about my tree.. it is very hard for me to give up my creative dictatorship and allow the hubs and B to help decorate. For the record, my father in law uses colored lights that both blink and play music and it's just as obnoxious as you're thinking it is. ZOMG... I cringe every time we have to go over there for christmas.

Do you hang mistletoe?
no... mostly because I never think to.

When do you put your decorations up?
After Thanksgiving... and after that it just depends on what I get done and when. For example... I only got my outside decorations up last week. I only got them plugged in like... 2 days ago????

What is your favorite holiday dish?
Papa makes gumbo every year around this time.... mmmmmmmmmmmmm.... gumboooooo.

Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
Growing up- NEVER. Remember the thing about Santa? Yeah... there were no presents to be seen or found (not for lack of trying) until Christmas morning. Now that I'm older and we have to juggle our visits between the two families, we occasionally will do christmas presents on christmas eve with my parents or with Tim's family. However, in the case of my family if we have to christmas eve all presents are address from "Mom and Papa" and then he still brings Santa's presents on christmas morning.

How do you decorate your Christmas tree?
Remember my OCD? Yeah... I decorate it the way I like it. Which is fairly traditional. Reds, greens, whites, and golds. You will never see purple, blue, pink, or other spring related colors on my tree. Most of my ornaments follow the woodland type theme with lots of pine cones and red berries and such like. Also, all ornaments are shatter proof. This is because when my cousin was a baby she bit into one of those shiny glass christmas balls and had to have stitches and now that i have my own babies, I'm terrified of living that experience with front row seats.

Snow. Love it or hate it?
How bout... Snow- only seen it ONE time in my entire life. I live in South Alabama... it doesn't snow here except the one off the wall time we had a freak snow storm in the middle of march and we all got to miss school for a day so we could hurry up and play in the snow before it melted.

Can you ice skate?
Sometimes... certainly not well by any means.

What is your favorite holiday dessert?
Two Words: DIVINITY FUDGE. Nom nom nom nom... My grandmother used to make it every year. LOVE IT. CRAVE IT!

What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Picking out a Tree. Growing up, Momma and Papa never did the fake tree thing. It was always a big trip out into one of the local tree farms to pick out the "perfect" tree. But first there was the week before when Papa would tease about how we weren't going to get a tree this year, or that he was just going to Charlie Brown it and chop down some sad looking specimen from the woods behind our house.

Then when he'd finally decide to go get the tree, he'd load us all up in the back of his truck and off we'd go to the tree farm, where we would then spend hours in the cold picking out the tree. Why? Because I come by OCD honest. The tree had to look just right from every angle, even though no one ever came over to the house and bent over sideways at the waist and cocked their head up to the side and looked at the tree that way... it still needed to look okay from that angle. No holes or gaps, no twisty trunks, etc. Then when he'd fine one, he would station one of us kids to stand next to the tree and "save" it while he looked around some more.

The trip usually ended up with you standing by a tree by yourself throwing sticks in the air until the rest of the family found you. It was AWESOME! EVERY YEAR! Then we'd bring the tree home and it would never fit in the stand and it was always leaning and we'd have to wait for three hours while Papa fussed and wrestled with the tree and the stand to get the tree right and when it was finally up... low and behold there'd be a hole in it. Which is why Mom and papa's tree is always in the corner. Then there was the decorating.... but that's another story all on it's own.

Candy Canes. Yum or yuck?
I love candy canes. But only the peppermint kind. I don't like all the fruity sour kind they have now although the hubs loves em.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Answer is 2 1/2 Hours:

The question is: How long does it take for 4 women to do approximately 25 loads of laundry, not counting the 5 or so bed comforters that also got washed?

So, last evening some of my lady friends and I, were sitting around complaining about how much we all hate to do laundry. We each had our own "laundry list" of reasons for disliking it:

My drier takes twice as long, if not more, to dry clothes as it takes to wash them

I hate folding it.

I hate putting it away

I hate folding it and putting it away because it's boring and lonely

No matter how much laundry you do, there is always more.... so it feels helpless and hopeless.... a lost cause....

This conversation led to one where we began comparing how much we were each behind on our laundry, approximating how many loads we had to do all together. Words like "mountain" and "sea" were used a lot. (P.S.- yes, my lady friends and I consider it a good time to sit around drinking wine complaining about laundry... why.... don't you?)

Somehow during all of this, we had this amazing idea to gather up every single stitch of laundry we each had, pile it into the car and meet up at The Soap Opera and just GET IT DONE. For once and for all. I can only imagine what we looked like as we barged in there, carrying in load upon load upon load of laundry: jeans, sweaters, sheets, comforters, pillows, blankets, onesies, socks, towels.... just EVERYTHING. I know that I myself washed 4 loads of colors, 1 load of whites, and 3 loads of towels. That's 8 loads... and I ended up having to do two more at home. My girls had just as much a piece if not more. But we got it done. 2 and 1/2 hours later, every bit of it was washed, dried, and folded. That's the wonder of being able to use 8 washing machines at once rather than just the one I have at home.

Did I mention that the entire time we were carrying out our mission impossible that it was RAINING BUCKETS?! Because it was RAINING BUCKETS ALL DAY. It is STILL raining. Oh my goodness at the FLOODS of RAIN!!!

Everyone gathered over here for dinner afterwards. My COMPLETELY AMAZING hubby watched all four kids (2-4 yr old girls, a 3 yr old boy, and the baby), cooked dinner, and tidied up the house while all of us ladies were doing laundry. Now my entire house is cleaned, the baby is finally moved into the kids room rather than our bedroom, and ALL the laundry is DONE.

The ending of the story?

I'm completely exhausted.


Friday, December 11, 2009

Hello Darkness My Old Friend

I know I haven't blogged here in ages. Lame... I know... but recently I just have been tuned to a more inward station than outwards.

I've posted it several times before, but this time of year seems to always draw me inwards, calls me to hibernate and hide out and reflect and review. It's also the time when I can most easily slip into depression. I tend to withdraw deeper and deeper until I am completely removed and people start to wonder where I've got off to and what my problem is and so forth.

Last year was particularly bad. Everything went to shit, as they say and I slipped farther than I had in a long time. It finally got to the point where my mom came knocking on the door demanding to know why I had quit answering my phone all together, much less going anywhere or doing anything.

I don't know if this year is different because Tim and I are just in a much better place than we were last year. No worrying if he's going to get to stay at work all day. In fact he's working OVERTIME today at CHRISTMAS time. Wow. I don't know if it's because I have grown so much, been through so much in the last year that I'm just stronger, more mature, less dramatic..... I'm not sure where the difference lies, where it comes from. It is just simply different.

I'm still tuned inward. Still reflecting. Still reviewing, but somehow this year I've managed to be able to do it without turning off the phone and closing the blinds and hiding from friends and loved ones. I still go out and spend time with people I care about. I hang out with my friends, I spend time with my family, I answer the phone when people call me and talk until the battery dies. I get up in the morning and get things accomplished. The only thing I've neglected lately is blogging, which is usually something I really enjoy. I don't know if it's been neglected because I've been keeping my fingers busy elsewhere with sewing and wrapping and the piano, or tickling the kids and feeding bottles and fixing snacks... or if it's because for awhile... I've just simply had nothing to say.

I have sat down with actual MINUTES of spare time in which to blog, when the kids are quiet or napping and just stared at that big blank box only to think: Not now. I don't know what to say to you. I don't have anything to share.... YET. And then gotten up to do something else: make a crayon roll, a purse for a little girl, bake something. I've just been busy with life. Too busy to think of how to put my mundane doings into words that are interesting.

Even though I've maintained an outward front, and even though I've been sincerely HAPPY, there is still a little touch of darkness inside... like a cloud brushing across the sun, dimming the whole world for just a moment.... and then it is gone and seconds later is forgotten. That little cloud has long been my companion, though usually it is formidable and dark and full of anger, hurt, depression, worry, anxiety.... I wish I knew why it is so different this time. I hardly recognize it, but it hardly seems worth puzzling over.

Calvin laughed for the very first time this morning and I was the only one who heard. It will take far more than a tiny cloud to cover all those rays of sunshine he gave to me. I'm fairly certain that thousands of Fairies were born in that brief, beautiful moment.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Book Review: Keeping Faith

Mariah White is the sort of woman who likes for life to be organized and precise with all of the tiny details kept in their places, much like the intricate doll houses she makes for a living. On a particularly bad day when things have been frustratingly straying from her schedule, Mariah returns home to find her husband Colin home early from a business trip. Thinking he is there to surprise her, she embraces him only to discover that he isn't alone when the woman he has decided to leave her for comes out of the shower. The worst part is that Mariah and Colin's seven year old daughter, Faith witnesses the whole ordeal.

Unable to cope with her husband's infidelity (again), Mariah lapses into clinical depression and Faith stops speaking. As they both struggle to bring themselves back together after the ugly divorce, Faith seeks solace in the comfort of a friend whom she refers to simply as "her Guard." When Faith begins quoting biblical verses despite having been raised nonreligious, Mariah takes her to see a child psychologist.

After several sessions and an unsuccessful run on anti-psychotic drugs, the psychiatrist makes a startling discovery: Faith is talking not to just any guard, but to God. Mariah is disturbed, wondering why God would choose to reveal Himself to a nonreligious, Jewish child who up until recently has never heard of Him.

Oh wait.. .did I say Him? That's right, not only does Faith profess to be seeing and speaking to God, but that God is indeed a SHE not a HE. As Mariah and Faith's lives get tossed into a whirlwind of press coverage, skeptics, and believers Faith develops Stigmata and begins to perform miraculous healings including bringing her own grandmother back from the dead. As if their lives aren't hectic and invaded enough what with continuous visits from priests and rabbi's alike, Colin decides Mariah must be to blame for Faith's wounds and sues for custody of Faith.

The story is well written and well researched. I have to say that I have a lot of respect for Picoult for writing about God from this angle. Not only does she address the issue of God being female but when the grandmother returns from being clinically dead for 1 hour, she reveals to her daughter that God wore the face of her own mother.

My favorite quote from the book is during the conversation between Mariah and her mother:

"I always wondered why God was supposed to be a father," Millie whispers. "Fathers always want you to measure up to something. Mothers are the ones who love you unconditionally, don't you think?"

While I can certainly see how that is true generally speaking, I also happen to know of several examples of Fathers that DO love unconditionally as well. But I understand what she MEANS. There is just something so fierce and beautiful and even a little scary about the way a mother loves her children. It is an entirely different breed of love all together. Incomparable to any other form.

I found it interesting that while researching the book Picoult ran into a lot of people who were so uncomfortable entertaining the notion of God as female even for a fiction novel, that she was shooed out of offices. I suppose technically speaking, God is neither male nor female and also both but for (in my opinion) social and political reasons has always been referred to as a male or Father by the Church.

I once heard a speaker that opened her speech with: "If man is made in God's image... than woman says, What about me?" That phrase really kind of struck a chord with me. I am just not sure that I entirely jive with the whole Genesis thing. I would like to think that God put a little more thought into creating woman than simply grabbing the nearest rib and throwing together woman as an after thought. After all, God had created male and female in every other creature, even plants have both male and female anatomy. And even if you interpret "man" to mean "mankind" in the whole creation bit, then that still leaves an open door for questioning. If both man and woman are made in God's image, than God must also posses some amount of femininity.

What it comes down to, for me at any rate, though I may end up being attacked for it: is that God is much more spiritual than physical and that it matters very little if you envision God with a man's face or a woman's or even both depending on your need at the time. Isn't there a verse somewhere that reads you cannot see the true face of God and live? That it is THAT incomprehensible. Personally I think that when it comes to envisioning the face of God, that it matters little what you see, so long as you can relate it to how God makes you feel. I personally have no problem with a female God. Heck, sometimes I need a more matronly figure to pray to.

But I digress. In any respect, the story in this book was a GOOD story. I read it in about two days and ended up staying up to nearly one in the morning trying to finish it. If you are interested, even just a little bit, it's well worth the read... unless of course you are a very conservative Jew or Catholic... in which case you *might* walk away offended. You might not though. The priests and rabbi characters in the book are really awesome.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

My Silly Husband

Drives me crazy with this kind of thing. Pay close attention to the search box.

He typed it in just before he left for work and when I was cleaning the computer desk (my OCD is STILL acting out A LOT), I bumped the mouse and it popped up. He left it open knowing one way or another I would be at the computer before bed and knowing I hate when he has to work night shifts. We've been together five years, have two kids, bills, worries, responsibilities... and yet we are still the kind of couple who does this kind of thing. The kind of thing that makes other couples gag (they are secretly jealous *winks*). Sometimes I tease him about it, but deep down and all sarcasms aside, I love that he still puts notes in my pockets and occasionally in my search boxes.

I might also add that he was searching how to make a blogger account just so he can read my blog since I don't post much on myspace anymore (over it!), and he knows how much I enjoy this site. Yeah, so sorry if this post made anyone queasy... but sometimes I just have to show this sort of stuff to other people just to make sure it's all real.