Friday, December 31, 2010

Year in Review


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New year, new books, and a 30 before 30 plan

I don't so much do the New Year's resolution thing, but I figure my 30 before 30 list kind of covers it for me this year.

My dad gave me a rack of books I haven't read after seeing my previous posts on books. So. With those in mind, in addition to suggestions from others, my SIX books to read over the next 14 months are:
  1. A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines (thanks, Char!)
  2. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens (thanks, Pop!)
  3. Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali (thanks, Nicole!)
  4. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (thanks, Pop!)
  5. How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez (thanks, Leslie!)
  6. The Inferno by Dante (thanks, Pop!)
I'll post review of the book after I've finished each one.

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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Holiday Recap: The one in which I refer to a few Awkward Family Moments

References to AFM = Awkward Family Moment.

12/23
Drive to Richmond takes 3:35 hrs, can't see out the back window since we've used every inch of space in the wagon. Standing in the kitchen, Alivia comes running out from wherever she is, stops right in front of me, grins and puts her arms up for a hug. Luvz!

12/24
Present day in my family. Lance and I make Oreo Brownie Bites... YUM! (umm, I can't remember which blog I saw this on... basically, you take Oreos (we used mint) and dip them in brownie mix, then cook them for 10 minutes in muffin tins... wow!) Delicious ham dinner, do the dishes, then to the living room where dad reads his story about Mrs. Claus saving Christmas (she does it again!). Alivia decides to put a basket on her head.


Can we start?


Presents!




She likes to help.


Aww.


12/25
Hanging out and playing with the new toys. Singing about Santa and the Beatles with Lance at the piano and Eric at guitar. Alivia gets naked and eats cheese.


Chinese takeout for dinner. Too many calories today! Snow starts to fall. Vicki (family dog) can't stop bothering Ramona.

AFM.

12/26
Take time waking up. Discuss going home and waiting till morning to drive to NY. Decide to just drive. Richmond to Baltimore takes less than 3 hours. Switch drivers, fall asleep, wake up in New Jersey to snow. And snow. And snow. On the 60-mile stretch of the NJ Turnpike for 6 hours. STRESS. Ramona does great. I couldn't find a decent video or picture of the turnpike that evening, but this maybe gives you an idea?


Give up fighting and decide to call it a night. First hotel won't take dogs but sends us to one that will. Collapse into bed at 12:30am.

12/27
Wake up to find that Ramona made herself comfortable.


Free buffet breakfast, pay the bill, then head to Woodstock. Arrive around 2pm and relax before more present time. Spend the evening playing with my new NOOKcolor. Yay!


12/28
Ramona decides she needs cuddles and crawls into bed with us. How could I kick her out? We're on vacation, so I let it slide :) Ignore Eric's big bum. It's the angle, I swear :)


It's cold.


Stop taking pictures of me and get me inside!


Some organic shopping in Kingston. Pick up some amazing tea blends. Lose a brother for a bit.

AFM.

Fancy Italian for dinner.

AFM.

Home late, then bed.

12/29
Pack up the car. Reassure Ramona that we won't leave her behind. Confusion and miscommunication ensues re: travel plans.

MAJOR AFM.

We skedaddle to avoid more drama. Traffic on the NJ Turnpike (go figure). Let me out of this goddamn state! Into Delaware at last. A couple of rest stops and 7 hours later, we're home. Unload the car. Pooped.


Hope you're enjoying plenty of your own AFMs!! Luvs to you as the year closes out :)

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Friday, December 24, 2010

On this Night Before Christmas...

From 39 Degrees North, a Beijing motion graphics studio, the sad, dark tale of Christmas, by Neil Gaiman. The text (excerpted from Smoke & Mirrors by Neil Gaiman) appears below the video. Enjoy...........

Nicholas Was...


older than sin, and his beard could grow no whiter. He wanted to die.


The dwarfish natives of the Arctic caverns did not speak his language, but conversed in their own, twittering tongue, conducted incomprehensible rituals, when they were not actually working in the factories.


Once every year they forced him, sobbing and protesting, into Endless Night. During the journey he would stand near every child in the world, leave one of the dwarves' invisible gifts by its bedside. The children slept, frozen into time.


He envied Prometheus and Loki, Sisyphus and Judas. His punishment was harsher.


Ho.


Ho.


Ho. 

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy Festivus!!

And you know what that means!! Time for the annual "Airing of the Grievances."

  1. Most of my kids this year SUCK and have rocks for brains.
  2. My greyhound eats anything that is left out in the open, even if we're only gone for a few minutes.
  3. We got our security system installed by some other company, even though I thought it was ADT and we're serviced by ADT, and that was a bad choice.
  4. The American people have such a short memory that they already restocked Congress with Repubs.
  5. My meds aren't quite working right.
  6. My husband had three major car incidents this year.
  7. Most of my clothes are too big for me (I had to sneak in something good!)
  8. Winter break is only a week and a half long.
  9. I didn't go to the beach once.
  10. Nor did I vacation anywhere.
  11. Delicious foods are not good for me.
  12. My porch is messy.
  13. Snow has to be shoveled.
  14. We're still working on paying off all of our wedding bills.
You?


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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Lunar Eclipse

I def did not stay up to watch the lunar eclipse... plus, it turns out it was super cloudy, anyway.

But that doesn't mean that about a gazillion other people with video cameras and lots-o-time didn't! Here's a pretty good time-lapse of the eclipse... fascinating!


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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Goats

I fantasize about someday living in a small, liberal, new England town with my husband, my greyhounds, and some goats.


Why goats? I don't know. I just think they're really cute. And they make delicious cheese! Plus, I hear they're super-affectionate and lovey.


Maybe just indulge me with a share of a goat?

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Winter edition

We had our first snow on Thursday. Not enough to cancel school (or even give us a two-hour delay!), but fun, nonetheless. It inspired me to resurrect this hilarious video of Ramona's first ever experience with snow last winter:



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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Thinking on death

Yesterday, my husband and I attended a funeral for the wife of a childhood friend of his. She's younger than me... she's younger than my younger sister. They have a 4-mo-old baby. She had a difficult pregnancy and was afraid to be left alone with the baby. She killed herself.

This alone raises all kinds of emotions in me. How much anger Eric's friend must be feeling. The fear, the shock, and anguish. And the child... how do you teach your son why he doesn't know his mother?

But the funeral.

It was held at a small town church that's probably been there for a hundred years. There was no viewing or graveside service, just the eulogies and sermons, hymns, prayers, and Bible passages.

Now, this is where my mind starts to go in twelve different directions, so excuse the ramblings that may ensue.

It's been over seven years since I left religion behind me. I haven't had to deal with a lot of death in my life. I went to a total of two funerals growing up and three since I met Eric. The first two were parents of friends of mine; the last were a premature baby, Eric's great-aunt, and this man's wife. I had no opportunity to attend funerals for the two deaths that mattered the most to me - my college friend Shane and my Dutch grandfather. Maybe this would feel different if more people I loved were gone?

The hymns, and the prayers, and the verse, and the talk of heaven and happiness and till we meet again, I mean.

It just feels like you're not dealing with the death. It's like a sad denial. And it doesn't seem healthy or fair to me. How do I explain? I need closure, I need to grieve, to be angry and hurt and broken. Otherwise, I just don't think I'd be able to ever really put myself back together. I understand that people like to think that death isn't really the end, that you'll see your loved ones again, that they're up in heaven hugging Jesus right now. I get that it's comforting to people. I just don't get why. You have to allow yourself to grieve!

See, to me, being told these lines about someone I care about doesn't feel fair. Ugh, I feel all tangled up right now, like I'm not doing a very good job of explaining myself.

To me, these thoughts about an afterlife aren't reassuring, they just make me feel worse. Hopeful... setting myself up for disappointment, unable to really let go and heal... depressing... wondering why you are happily in heaven dancing with angels while I am here, going through so much pain. So much suffering. Without a comforting word from you. Because you're not there anymore, but then they say maybe you are, so why are you doing this to me, this torture? Why don't you care enough to make me feel better?

Yes?

I feel that the finality of separation is ultimately easier to deal with. Agony, yes. Wanting to see you again but knowing I never will. I can work through that, I can be okay again. But this hope that we'll be together again... doesn't that just make life harder?

I don't want to be remembered with a funeral. I don't want my lifeless corpse put on display and then buried underground. Cremate me and share me with the wind. Celebrate our memories and dance out your pain. Scream and laugh and cry. FEEL SOMETHING. And then let me go. Live.
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Monday, December 06, 2010

Now that you mention books

I've been working on continuing my 30 before 30 list. I have 20 on there now, and only one actually completed! It's okay, I still have 15 months....

So, after all this talk of books, I got to thinking. I wanted to add a book goal to my list, but I couldn't think of any book/genre/etc. I wanted to focus on.

THEREFORE. I decided that I want to read SIX books recommended to me by other people. Even if that book is completely out of my normal repertoire or reading material. Why six? Well, that's the first number that came to me, so, why not?

OK. I want to know what YOU think is the absolute, bestest, most recommendable book I should read before I turn 30.

Ready, set, GO!
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Sunday, December 05, 2010

Presents!



In Holland, Sinterklaas Eve is celebrated on December 5. I grew up always getting a little present in my shoes from him, so Eric and I continue the tradition, albeit generally sans shoes.

We had the same thoughts this time! I gave him a cute "Life is Greyt" mug,

and he gave me a photo book called Greyhounds big and small: iggies & greyts.


Wow!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Books, books, books

I recently joined this website called BookMooch. It's a book sharing site where you pay to ship your unwanted books to people who "mooch" them, while in return earning points to mooch your own books from others. I've gotten some good ones recently, and have been able to get rid of a bunch that were collecting dust.

I'm stealing this idea direct from Carla, but hey, why not? I've bolded the books I've already read and put an * next to those I'd like to read.

"Have you read more than 6 of these books? The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here."

Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen

2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien

Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte


4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling

5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee

The Bible - G.O.D. (ha! just kidding about the god part!!)

Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte

8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell

9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman

10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott

12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy*

13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (some, but DEF not all!)

15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier

16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien

17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk*

18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger

19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger

20 Middlemarch - George Eliot

21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell

22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald

24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy

25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams

27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck

29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll

30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame

31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy

32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens

33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis

34 Emma -Jane Austen

35 Persuasion - Jane Austen

36 The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - CS Lewis (well yes, I suppose this is the first in the Chronicles, but I guess its giving the quitters a chance?)

37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres

39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden*

40 Winnie the Pooh - A.A. Milne

41 Animal Farm - George Orwell

42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown

43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez*

44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving

45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins

46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery 

47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy

48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood 

49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding

50 Atonement - Ian McEwan

51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel

52 Dune - Frank Herbert

53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons

54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen

55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth

56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens

58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon

60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck 

62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov*

63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt

64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold

65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas

66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac*

67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy

68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding

69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie*

70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville

71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens

72 Dracula - Bram Stoker

73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett

74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson

75 Ulysses - James Joyce

76 The Inferno - Dante*

77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome*

78 Germinal - Emile Zola

79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray

80 Possession - AS Byatt

81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens

82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell

83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker

84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro

85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert*

86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry

87 Charlotte’s Web - E.B. White

88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton

91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad*

92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery

93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks

94 Watership Down - Richard Adams

95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole*

96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute

97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas

98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl

100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo


Um, only 6?? Didn't these people go to SCHOOL?

If my counting is correct, I've read 45 of them. Come on people, catch up!

And yes, I'm totally putting my asterisk'ed books on my BookMooch list, lolz.
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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Livi fix

Yesterday, Eric, Ramona and I went to visit my family. I missed Alivia too much! On the way down, Eric mentioned something about me getting my baby fever on. Not to worry, dear, it's just Livi fever! She's such a fun girl - how does she just keep getting cuter?

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Friday, November 26, 2010

Turkey lurkey


Eric and I made our first turkey together for his family yesterday. Not only did it look delicious, it tasted divine! I might actually go have a couple of pieces of leftovers right now. YUM!
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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I talk a lot more after I've had a glass of wine

I've been drinking wine and browsing the blogs I follow. And commenting a lot. My fingers (and my mouth) tend to akdakcc ncvjknjfakdfklmmc m cdnkj vomit words (in a fun way!) with a bit of wine. Good times, good times.

My dishwasher is coming tomorrow. They said they would give me a 2-hour window for the delivery. They called tonight. The window is 9:00-1:00. Ummmmm....

Good thing I don't have to work tomorrow!

Speaking of. My 2nd period had a test today. There are 25 students in that class (of which 15 are officially identified as special ed). My co-teacher and I had a plan -- he would go to the library to help the kids who hadn't yet finished their study guides.

Turns out, only FOUR out of TWENTY-FIVE students did their study guide. UGH. So, I went with those four to review; he stayed with the 21 to complete the study guide. My four aced their test. SURPRISE. The rest....

Sigh. So discouraging. I don't know what more I can do.

I went to World Market today and wanted to buy EVERYTHING but restrained myself.

Also, I need some dinner. And I miss Miss Alivia. So, I'm taking my dog and my husband and we're going to go visit her on Friday. I wonder how little Bert will be when he comes in March. Bert is my sister's boy-foetus. Fetus? My blogger editor is telling me that fetus is misspelled. But, it's also telling me that blogger is misspelled. I bought him some cute xmas presents, even though he won't be alive, yet :)

signatureSoo..... I wasn't joking in the title of this post :)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Yesterday I made cookies from a brownie mix

O.M.G.

If you have never tried this, then you MUST.

Take a box of brownie mix and stir in 1 egg, 2 T water, and 1/3 cup vegetable oil. Roll it up in balls... any size will do. Bake at 375 for 8 minutes. HEAVEN!!

I added freshly cracked walnuts to mine, which just enhances their deliciousness, but I know not everyone loves walnuts like I do :)  Cracking nuts is one of my favorite things about winter! I like to remind Eric of that pretty much every time I dig into a bowl, lolz.

PS. You can also make yum, yum, yummy cookies from cake mix. Mix a box of cake mix with 1/2 cup oil and 2 eggs. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. It's even more divine if you have matching frosting to add to the top.

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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Dropping in to say hi with a few quick takes

one
I have recently discovered Google Sites, and I LOVE it. Well, I already knew about it, but I had never explored it or tried it out. But then I did. And I can't stop! I have a course website already for my high school class which the school pays to host. For the last four years, I was just using Macromedia Dreamweaver to create a VERY basic-looking site. I'm sure Dreamweaver can do amazing things for websites, but I don't know how to use it well. SO. After discovering how awesome I can make a site look through Google, I made one and set my original site to forward to the new site. The kids love it and think I'm extra awesome now :) I'm even using it for some upcoming projects, like this one. Holla!

two
My brother turned 18 last week. Being nearly 11 years older than him and (surprisingly?) insanely maternal, I spent a lot of time taking care of him when he was a baby. In fact, his crib was in my bedroom, and I remember waking up with him often during the night to rock him back to sleep. I have so many fun memories of him growing up. I love you, kid.

three
Our dishwasher died. Now we have a new dishwasher. Me. We're going to look around today and HOPEFULLY one of the stores will let us take the dishwasher home with us, instead of having to wait for delivery. OR, if we have to wait, please please please deliver before Wednesday!! See take four.

four
We are hosting Eric's family for Thanksgiving this year. I'm actually happy about it because we don't have to go anywhere and Eric and his brother will be taking care of most of it. We have a lot of cleaning and organizing to do this weekend, but that's okay because we've been putting it off for awhile and this will force us to finally get it done. I'm in charge of making the turkey, which I've done before, so that's no problem. We just have to go buy one, since this decision was just made about two days ago. Oh. And the dishwasher issue... see take three.

five
I started writing this post around 8:40 this morning. Then, I got distracted and forgot about it. It's now nearly 6:00 pm. Whoops! So, we bought a new dishwasher. It's getting delivered on Wednesday, so that's double-good, since it's before Thanksgiving and I have that day off. Hooray! It's not super fancy, but we liked it.

six
Also, since we were out, I decided to pick up some paint. I've been wanting to spruce up the dining room for awhile now, and I thought this would be as good a time as any. The room was already painted Burnished Clay, and I taped off the bottom portion and painted it Fig. I think it looks great! Now, I definitely need something to put on that wall and some drapes.

seven
I'm all tuckered out.
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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Family pics

I recently realized that Eric and I have about 2 photos together from 2010. So, on our walk with Ramona today, we took some family pictures. Here are a couple. Aww, cute fams :)



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Thursday, November 11, 2010

A funny haiku I read about a dog

squirrels can run up the side of trees
cats can run up the side of trees too
i'm not allowed on the couch
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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Need a release

This school year has already been rather demoralizing. In my *extensive* experience (of five years), this is the most horrific class of freshmen I've ever seen. They are SO immature. They CAN.NOT.STOP.TALKING. Ever. All day long, I have a constant, running commentary of every inane thought that pops into their heads. I'm going to struggle to get through the next 8 months.

On top of that, the county is planning to implement changes that I feel will be detrimental to our students. And as a teacher, I'm just expected to do more and more and more with NOTHING in return. Literally. We basically got a pay CUT this year because with no raise or COLA and increasing property taxes, prices, etc, plus the fact that they've raised our health insurance premiums... I'm making less than I did last year. While at the same time, my husband, who has the same education as me and LESS experience in his career field makes double what I make. And I could easily get a job in the same field as his.

It's like they're TRYING to run the teachers off.

I'm struggling.

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Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The one where I say nothing at all

Sometimes, I think to myself about how I would like to write another blog post. But then I can't think of anything to write about. So, I just don't write anything at all.

Kind of like this one right now.

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I love this

picture from our wedding. Wow, that was little Livi over a year ago!!

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