Monthly Archives: December 2010

2010 A-Z Challenge Wrap-Up

It’s been fun doing the 2010 A-Z Challenge, but since I’m currently reading another book that starts with S, and tomorrow is the last day of 2010, I think it’s time to wrap things up and give some love to the last books I read and didn’t post “reviews” on.

I got through 21 of the 26 letters of the alphabet. Not bad, considering the 4/5 I missed were Q, X, Y and Z. I read far more than 21 books this year (Heck, the Animorphs alone had 54!), but I’ve noticed I read a lot of books of the same letter over and over. I had a lot of Ss. Surprisingly, a lot of Bs. Lots of Ps, too. But evidently no Ks. Weird.

There are 3 series that contributed my list that I have yet to write about. So, without further ado, my (brief) thoughts on them:

The Homecoming Saga by Orson Scott Card

Card has long been one of my favorite, go-to authors. He wrote Ender’s Game, a fantastic introduction to sci-fi writing that is widely admired and known by sci-fi readers and normal people alike. His books are typically solid and enjoyable, with well-developed characters and a well-thought-out plot. The Homecoming Saga was no exception. I reread the whole series this year, including The Call of Earth and The Memory of Earth, which were added to my list. The books are about another world, Harmony, where humans have lived and developed a new society after basically destroying Earth. The Oversoul watches over the people and has become a kind of god, keeping them safe and answering their prayers. Then, the main character’s family is called out into the desert to begin a pilgrimage, leaving all they’ve known. We watch the characters grow and develop, and by the fifth book watch their children take over. The society on Harmony (in the main character’s hometown) is fascinating, if for no other reason than that it’s matriarchal. If you want another reason, their marriage structure is completely unlike anything I’ve ever heard of. It’s not a super-challenging series, but it does bring up great questions, as I feel any good book should. I definitely recommend it to people looking for a good read that’s not too heavy but more than just fluff.

PS Yes, I am aware many claim this is basically a re-telling of the story of The Book of Mormon (Card is LDS). I. Don’t. Care. I don’t know how true it is. It doesn’t matter. Even if the over-arching plot is similar, the details are unique and the characters are fabulous. Plus, couldn’t the same criticism be made of most of the Bible? It’s still popular.

The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher

OK, this is a series I was led to kicking and screaming. I promised my friend I’d read the first four books if she’s read the Twilight saga (which come to think of it, I don’t think she ever completed…hey!) Of course, once I was that far in, I was too stubborn not to read all 11 books that are currently out. Death Masks, Fool Moon, and Grave Peril all made it on my list. The books are about Harry Dresden, a private investigator operating out of Chicago who will look into magical happenings for you. Oh, and he’ll also use magic to solve some cases, like to find missing objects. Because, you see, he’s a wizard. Butcher has created a parallel world in our modern-day existence in which magic is happening all around us, and magical creatures regularly visit. We follow Dresden, the protaganist, through many cases, battles, and personal struggles throughout the course of the series. It is very slow to get started, and at first while I found Dresden endearing the books just didn’t pull me in. By the end, though, I’m definitely hooked and intrigued by the world that was (slowly) created, and I would recommend the books to anyone who has the patience to get into them. The continuity is great, and the depth of thought given to the world is really fascinating and makes me enjoy exploring it more. I can’t wait for the next book to be released!

The Animorphs by K.A. Applegate

Oh, Animorphs. This is a children’s series. A children’s series that is 54 books long. And it’s great. I mean, OK, you’re clearly reading kids books. They’re about 160 pages long, and each took me only about an hour to read. But they’re good at exploring a lot of questions about right and wrong, relationships, how to fight an enemy without becoming them, and at raising awareness and empathy for all kinds of animals.

The Animorphs is about 5 junior-high-school kids who come across a dying alien whose ship has crashed in an abandoned construction site they were cutting through. He was shot down in a battle over earth, defending humanity from a race of parasites who wanted to take over. The parasites won the battle, and the good guys aren’t coming any time soon. To give earth a chance, the alien gives the 5 kids the power to morph into any animal they can touch for 2 hours at a time. The series is about the kids’ battle for earth against a secret invasion being carried out by these parasites, who crawl into your brain and completely take over. The people they control are indistinguishable from normal humans, and the kids try to slow the infiltration until the good aliens can come back and save the day.

The stories are fun, fast-paced, and will suck you in. The characters are believable, and every book it rotates who is telling the story. You get to know all the kids very well, and each has their own way of viewing the fight. Over the 54 books they each develop tremendously, and you see it from all angles. I can’t wait until I have kids I can share these books with, and kid or adult I think these books are an enjoyable read.

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Stickler for Symmetry

Sorry for the radio silence this last week.

OK, not really.

See, I’ve been enjoying a week off. A week of freedom and laziness and the freedom to do nothing but be lazy! With my hubby! It’s been heavenly.

Unfortunately, it also means I’ve been neglecting y’all. I was thinkig about doing RTT…until I realized it was Thursday. Oops!

I have nothing coherant to say about current events, and they’ve been pretty boring anyway, so I’ll share this amusing anectode (anyone else think of Weird Al in Albequerque when they hear that phrase?). I’ve been meaning to write up this story since it happened several weeks ago..just hadn’t sat down and done it. So, without futher ado:

I am anal retentive. And shameless about it. I’m not anal retentive about everything. But about certain things. Like symmetry. And patterns. A wee bit Obsessively OCD.

You know the opening scene of Monk? Around 39 seconds where he walks out the front door? First time I saw that it drove me up the freaking wall because clearly the umbrellas weren’t symmetrical. In the single second before he turns around and comes back in and fixes it, I’d run through several possible configurations that would work better. I actually slumped with the release of tension when he turned the damn rogue umbrella around.

So.

Yes.

The other night I’m getting ready for bed. Walking across the room in my panties to get to the restroom and brush my teeth and stuff. My hubby is blocking the path doing his own thing, fully clothed, and, as he so often does, doesn’t realize me standing in his personal space looking expectantly at him is a cue for him to get out of the darn way!

*ahem*

So I stand there for a long minute, making eye contact, waiting for him to step aside so I can get through. Without breaking eye contact and with no precursor to his movement his hand suddenly flashes up, lightening quick, out of nowhere, and squeezes my right breast.

I let out a little squeal, jump back, and stare at him in shock, with my mouth literally hanging open, my hands covering the poor, offended boobie.

He grins.

Male!

I stare at him for another minute, mouth catching flies, until the internal war in me between shock and order is suddenly resolved. My expression goes to normal, I drop my hands, step back up and say, “OK, now do the other one.”

Because, you see, they were uneven. And I cannot, cannot, live with uneven sensations like that!

He starts laughing and (happily) complies.

All being right with the world, I start to walk past…and his hand flashes out an grabs my right breast again. He grins at me expectantly.

I look at him in annoyance, and turn back so he can make things even.

He looks at me, big grin still on his face, and says thoughtfully, “You know, all I have to do is not touch the other one, and it’ll bother you all night. You’ll wake up in the morning desperate for me!”

I glared at him, shock battling fury, inwardly horrified at the idea that he might leave me, *cough,* hanging all night.

I’m happy to report he did even things out for me. Before bed.

(Probably because he knew I’d keep him up all night whining if he didn’t.)

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Camera Question

Any amateur or semi-pro photographers out there who know cameras? The hubby and I are looking at getting an upgraded camera, since we both love photos. But we have no clue what we’re doing.

We’re trying to decide between a superzoom camera, basically an upgraded point-and-shoot with amazing zoom capabilities, and a DSLR.

We’re not professional. Neither of us has ever taken a photography class. But we both love photographs and photographing.

Because of our level, we don’t want to spend $1,000 on a medium-quality DSLR camera (that we wouldn’t even really know how to use). So if we go DSLR, it’ll be entry level-ish. What’s most important to us is that it can take good low-light/indoor shots (good ISO), that it has a relatively fast shutter speed, and that it’s relatively intuitive (since we’ve never used DSLR before). We also want it to have a good sensor so the photos look good :-)

At Best Buy the salesman recommended this camera to us, even though it’s Sony:

 

Sony NEX-3

 

It’s an SLR but it seems intended more for beginners in the field. Great low-light photos, great, intuitive features like a nice panorama setting and very good burst mode, and the ability to quickly and easily change aperture (how blurry the background is), just generally good quality stuff with a lot of the benefits of DSLR minus the large amount of complexities and giant size.

On the downside, there is no physical viewfinder (which I’m used to, but isn’t standard on SLR), the lens is proprietary and there are only three possible, which means they’re expensive (you can get an adapter, but then there’s no auto-focus on the lenses, which defeats the purpose for my skill level), and evidently the colors aren’t quite as true to life as some other cameras’ settings allow for.

I think I like it. It seems to me that, as one reviewer said, it takes great photos, and while you probably could often get a better photo with a higher-level DSLR  you’d have to put a lot of work in to be able to do so (and I just don’t know how!).

But I have no photography experience outside point-and-shoot mini-cameras.

So.

Thoughts? Opinions? Anyone who knows more about this than me willing to share their experience and point out any pitfalls I may have looked over?

Thanks! And merry ex-mas to all!

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RTT: Back to Babies

OK, I’m a bit late, but it’s still Tuesday here!

 

Two nights ago, I had a nightmare about babies. It was long and involved and I woke up remembering it…and still do, but don’t feel like sharing. In summary, I had a baby, was told she would die ASAP, and we took her home and basically didn’t care for her assuming she”d die in hours. Because, you know, that makes sense. *scratches head* A week later I went to check (hubby had been looking in) and she was alive and thriving and happy..somehow. So we started taking better care of her and accepting her as ours, while being consumed with guilt for trusting the doctors and ignoring her.  Very weird. Like any dream, I guess.

But what’s weirder?

It reignited my baby fever.

Oh my head, as Corey would say, what on earth prompted that? How does a nightmare about a dying baby and then guilt for neglecting a baby make me want a freaking baby??

Baby fever, please go into remission for about 6 months. Then you can contemplate coming back. But definitely not before.

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Christmas is almost here! I <3 Christmas. One of my two love languages is gift-giving. I am a total gift-giver. I take pride in thinking and coming up with just the right gift for people. And I love receiving well-considered gifts. Like when my hubby bought me a book I never asked for, but he knew was by an author I loved and didn’t think I’d realized was out. One of the best presents ever, sweet hubby :-D

But you know what I don’t love? Stressing out trying to figure out what Amazon boxes addressed to me were actually purchased by me, and which I shouldn’t open! I got four boxes addressed to me today. One I opened and shouldn’t have (oops!). One is a present for my hubby, bought by me. One is from my MIL, who warned me it would be coming and to not open it (and thankfully sent me a tracking number when I told her I didn’t know which one it was). And the other is……? Who knows! Ugh, I hate the guessing and trying not to ruin presents! But I also don’t want to just leave them and then have the wrong person open it on Christmas!

It doesn’t seem that complex to me: If you don’t want me opening it, don’t address it to me!

And don’t tell me it’s not a big deal. To me it is a big deal. Gift-giving is my major love-language. Ruining a gift is a big disappointment. So take that Facebook friends who are telling me to get drunk and relax when I posted a perfectly calm comment on the situation.

PS I don’t drink, so clearly said FB friend doesn’t know me well enough to tell me how I should feel, anyway.

PPS No, I am not over-reacting to his stupid (string of) comment(s). Well…OK…maybe a little :-P

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I woke up this morning with a puppy draped across my chest and a kitty sitting on my hips. Is there a better way to wake up? I didn’t think so.

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I had so.much.fun with Erica here last week! I miss her something terrible, but it was so good to see her. Worth the missing, now :-)

Oh, and sending three engineers to the Science Museum? Um..yeah. I’m sure the other patrons had fun laughing at avoiding watching us!

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In-laws, don’t read this. I’m not sure if you read my blog, but if you do, skip to the next ***. Thanks :-)

I just found one of those great gifts for Christmas. I donated money to help support the adoption of a Down Syndrome child in Eastern Europe. In honor of my in-laws, who have two adopted children and one child gotten the “old-fashioned way” with DS.

The blogger sponsoring the fund-raising for this child has rallied people who have donated over $6,000 so far towards the adoption of this infant. Go check her out. At least go look at the pic of the adorable baby.

Oh, and want to know what life is like for kids with DS in EE orphanages? Read this first-hand account of an adoptive mama visiting her DS daughters in their orphanage. Here’s an exerpt:

The children there cannot function.  They sleep most of their lives away.  They are so sedated that they can barely keep their eyes open, even when they are awake. They merely exist from day to day.

I cried like I have never wept.  Looking at their sweet faces just about killed me.  I was not allowed to pick the children up out of the cribs.  But each day I walked around to each one of those precious souls lying there and gently stroked their faces and rubbed their frail, malnourished bodies.  I longed for them to know the joy of a tender touch.  It was something they knew absolutely nothing about.  Not once in all my weeks of visiting did I see any of these children picked up and loved. Never! Even crying children, longing for arms to hold them, never got picked up and loved. They were taken out of the crib ONLY to be fed and changed.

And this is the good place. The baby house. Around age 4-5, these kids are sent to mental institutions where they live out the rest of their lives. So horribly sad. So if you can, consider making it easier for them to come home. Anytime, year-round, but around the holidays we tend to be more open to ways to help. Just something to consider.

There is a lot needing to be done in the world. Find something that moves you, and help make it better!

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Last night I slept 11.5 hours. Which is good. I was making up for the previous night. When I only slept 11 hours.

S.i.g.h.

So tired of being tired!

But so grateful it’s a holiday where I get more downtime :-D

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OK, I should probably go wrap gifts before my hubby gets home.

Happy Tuesday to all, and to all a good night!

 

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Filed under Invisible Illnesses, Life, Random Thoughts Tuesday

And the winner is…

Elle!

Her name was drawn by my hubby a few minutes ago (so don’t get mad at me if you didn’t win…get mad at him! ;-)

Because she also tweeted the give-away she had a 1-in-4 chance of winning, which was pretty good odds, and it paid off for her!

So congrats to Elle! Send me your address in the next 24 hours and I’ll send you your prize.

If you didn’t win, don’t worry there are still lots of great dime earrings you can buy for only $12. Like these!

or these!

Good times :-D

Have a great day, y’all!

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Friday Fun-I’m baaaack!

Hey, all! Back when I was working full-time I did a TON of memes every Friday! I’ve let that slip since quitting, since I usually work all day Friday at a job w/no computer but let’s try some Friday memes again!

First up, some letters!

Dear Erica,

It has been so, so super awesome having you visiting this week. I hope you had fun, ’cause I know I sure did! I only have one Christmas wish: Please move up here so I can hang out with you regularly! :-D

-your totally not desperate friend

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Dear aminals,

I’m sorry, but when Erica leaves you are going to be back to sporadic pets, instead of the constant love-fest she has showered on you. I hope you can adjust without too much whining. That’d be great. Brace yourselves.

-momma

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Dear readers,

Have I mentioned I have a give-away going? And there are very few entries, so the odds of winning are VERY high? Go for it!

-hopeful blogger

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Dear hubby,

Munchkin was the best Christmas present ever! You have already succeeded this Christmas, even if I get no other presents. Now if you and Erica could just both lose at the same time so I could win, that’d be awesome! I was so close last night! Tonight, it’s on.

-your conquering wifey

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Dear Parker,

I promise you, I will feed you every day. Twice. There is no need to act like you have never been fed before in your life. Or to cry at me all morning until you are fed. Or to break into any food not locked in a cabinet. I promise, promise, that I will always, always feed you. So shhhhh!

-momma

PS I know I’m feeding you enough, because you are gaining weight. The lying isn’t gonna keep working!

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OK, moving on! Sadly it seems there is no more Friday Happy Hour (at least that I found) so I’ll move right along to…

My question for y’all: Christmas trees, dead (fake) or alive?

I personally am a fan of the live ones. They smell so good! But, you know, not when I forget to water them and they die a quick, agonizing death of it’s-completely-dried-up-and-will-leave-every-needle-behind-when-we-try-to-move-it-3-feet-to-outside-after-Christmas. Not that that happened. *cough*

And let’s wrap it up with some…

1. Do you regift…and if so, do you have a regifting horror story?
I do not regift…not because I have a problem with it, but because typically my presents are either awesome enough I want to keep them, or crappy enough I just throw them away. I don’t do work secret santas or anything like that which typically results in the re-gifting items.

2. Do you know what you are getting for Christmas this year?
Well, I already got Munchkin, which is AWESOME. Other than that, no idea..but excited! :-D

3. Who brings the most gifts in your family, you or Santa?
Me, definitely. We don’t do Santa. When we have children we probably will, but he will do far less than us. In my family, Santa did stockings, and they were full of exciting gifts like candy and toothbrushes. Kids were allowed to open stockings before the parents came down, and then play quietly with whatever we found until our parents woke up naturally. Brilliant!

4. What store do you love to by jeans from?
Are you kidding me? Who the heck loves to buy jeans?? I have this thing called a butt, which evidently jean makers are unfamiliar with, so buying jeans is like a 4 hour process to end up with one pair that is meh.

5. Christmas meal: Big, All Out Meal or Snacks and Apps?
The hubby and I have started a tradition of making a Connolly sub and munching on it all day. A Connolly sub is basically a giant sub full of deliciousness made on an entire loaf of French bread. Very healthy. *cough* Very delicious.
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OK, that’s it! Anyone stopping by, welcome, and feel free to join in the giveaway goodness!

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Filed under Aloha Friday, Dear So and So..., Five Question Friday

WTHW:Giveaway Edition

It’s time for: What the Hell Wednesday!

I really only have one WTH this week, since my bestest bud Erica is in town and all is happy. But still…WHAT THE HELL is wrong with all the people visiting my blog and not entering my giveaway?! Come on, people! I mean, you’ve got to at least know someone who would like some super-cute earrings! I love my coin earrings from Annette, have only worn them one day but still got lots of complements. And really, it takes two seconds to click the link, visit her Etsy site, pick a random piece of jewelry, and tell me you like it. Right now you’d have a 1 in 5 chance of winning, them’s some good odds! Thank goodness for the Blue Monkey Butt Sisters (by which I of course mean Elle, since Stacy hasn’t joined in the fun yet (let’s see if I can get some sibling rivalry going ;-)) who currently have half my entries.

So yes. Some fun freeness going out the door soon. And it’d be more fun if people entered :-) Pretty please?

Sorry, one more WTH, as in, WHAT THE HELL is wrong with me? Elle was awesome enough to tweet the giveaway..and I noticed that the shortened link I put up in the suggested tweet wasn’t even the link to the actual give-away! Oops! Sent them to the Etsy shop. Guess I should check WHAT THE HELL I put up before hitting publish! :-P

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