Thursday, December 16, 2010

Photo Overload

Tonight, we went to see Santa.

Let's remember how last year went.

Lovely, right? We went to the mall after the Jingle Bell Run. He smiled. We bought the CD with the photos so we could print as many copies as we wanted. I used this picture in our Christmas card last year.

So how do you think this year went?


He was fine and dandy until we walked up to Santa and then it was a full on MELTDOWN. We showed our concern for him by laughing hysterically. (Parents of the year!) Fortunately, we went to Bass Pro Shops, as you can tell from the logo in the corner, and they offer you a print FOR FREE. So we took our awesomely free awesome picture and skeedaddled. Better luck next year, Santa!

Let's look at some more flattering picture of my child, shall we? I mentioned last week that we were doing a photo shoot with my friend. And it was AWESOME. Jack wasn't in the best mood ever, but I was pretty sure we got a few good shots. I was supposed to get 15-ish edited pictures as part of the deal. Well. She just couldn't decide and gave me 58. Boo yah! Do not worry, I will not force you to look at all 58. I only uploaded 8 for you to see. But man, I love, love, love them. Snapfish was running a deal for 50% off their photobooks this week, so I took advantage of it since I had some beautiful shots of my beautiful baby. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Book Reviews, pt. 2

More! Books!

Little Bee by Chris Cleave - I had heard that this was really sad before I even picked it up and I figured I could handle it. A sad book can be a good book, ya know? But I feel as though sad isn't the right descriptor for this book. Devastating, maybe. Depressing, definitely. It's not just sad. It's morbid and sorrowful and not uplifting in any way, shape, or form. I can't recommend it in good conscious. It is definitely well written and the plot is very tight. But my goodness, this book HAUNTED me for days and days afterwards and all I wanted was for it to get OUT of my brain.

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion - This book, on the other hand, is incredibly sad but also incredibly amazing. It's a non fiction book chronicling the author's survival of the first year after her husband death. It's so well written and honest, like a guide to her grief. I am hesitant to recommend it because it IS incredibly sad. About halfway through the book, I woke up Alex crying and whimpering, "I'm so glad you're not dead!" But while it IS sad, it is also serves as such a great reminder to keep your loved ones close. To appreciate them. To talk to them. To make good memories with them. Because you don't know how much longer you have with them.

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen - I was a little hesitant to read this book once I found out it was set in a circus. I'm not sure why since I haven't been to a circus since I was, I don't know, 6? But my fear of clowns knows no bounds and circus = clowns in my head. So imagine my joy when I realized there are no clowns in this book. There is, however, an elephant. And since I'm partial to elephants, that helped a lot. I liked this book quite a bit. It was sweet and romantic. (Also, I kept picturing Robert Pattinson as the dude since he's playing him in the movie adaptation. Which is a bummer...I like to make up the character's face in my head.)

Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding - I don't know. I didn't really have much of an opinion on it. I started reading this in 2008 and never finished it. But I was determined to finally finish it this year. And I did....that's about it. I guess I didn't care because I'd already seen the movie and I knew what happened? Or maybe because the whole thing feels really dated now. Maybe it's because I'm not single anymore. It is funny and it's a fun, quick read read. Whatever. I can't work up enough excitement to write more about it.

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler - Hoo boy. What can I say about this book? I wanted to like it. I really did. I felt like I SHOULD like it. But...I didn't. I felt like I was plowing through a school assignment with this one. It's quick and easy to read, so that's nice. But the language and characterization are SO dated. I had a hard time with the overt racism towards African Americans AND Jewish people, not to mention the REALLY sexist view of women. It was just so weird because none of the characters were really developed. I had trouble envisioning the world and the action. Not a fan. But I feel bad NOT recommending it since it's Raymond Chandler. So...yeah.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Book Reviews, pt. 1

So! Let's talk about books! I thought I'd do a series of posts on the ones I've read this year. I always like to see what people have read and why, so I'm hoping some of you enjoy these kind of posts as well. I will be very general on my opinions, so you can read this without fear of spoilers. Also, I've actually kept up the list of books I've read on the sidebar. So if you want individual links to Amazon for any books I talk about, there's a handy guide right there. So helpful, I am!

I've read 41 books this year. I was really proud of that number until I read a post on NPR yesterday by a guy who has read 104 books this year. 104! My word. He must not have small children. And not like television. And get paid to read books. (He does get paid to read books, actually.) He also picked Freedom as his favorite book of the year and I HEARTILY disagree with that assessment, but we'll get to that another time.

Let's start with the series books, shall we?

Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz - This is a 5 book (so far) series of Young Adult vampire novels. They're entertaining, easy to read, and a nice distraction. But! They aren't particularly well written and the latest book in the series was a disappointment. There is a 6th book coming out at the end of this year which I've already pre-ordered for my Kindle. I'm interested to see if de la Cruz gets back on track with the plot in that one. However, if you enjoy silly vampire books, then I highly recommend these. It's a different take on the mythos of vampires, so it's a nice change of pace. Incidentally, that last book was the one Alex read when he was supposed to be reading The Hunger Games. Speaking of which....

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins - I believe I've mentioned these, oh a million times on this here blog. I love them. LOVE. THEM. They're well written, easy to read, extremely entertaining, and so, so, so well plotted. They're intense but not too stressful. Now, some people have criticized the third book, Mockingjay, for not ending the series well. Personally, I was pleased with the ending, but some parts of it were a let down. (It wasn't as crazy town as Breaking Dawn, but not as satisfying as The Deathly Hallows either.) With that said, do not let a potential bummer in the third book stop you from reading The Hunger Games. It's an excellent book all on its own.

The Millenium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson - See? I'm capable of reading non YA books as well! Probably everyone you know has read these books, and with good reason. They're fairly well written, interesting, and entertaining. It can be a little confusing at first because of all the Swedish names and locations. I found myself just making up my own pronunciations in order to get through the words I had no idea how to say. I also had a hard time getting into the first novel because there's a looooooooong exposition about some boring business fraud type thing. So don't let that stop you. Once you get past that, the mystery and intrigue really kicks in and it's hard to put the book down. They also eat a lot of sandwiches and drink a lot of coffee in these books. Like, it's INSANE. Lisbeth and Mikael exist on coffee and sandwiches alone. If you've read the first book, I highly recommend this parody video about the books. It mentions the coffee and sandwich thing too. But, uh, anyway, back to the actual books. I really enjoyed them and wish Larsson was still around to write more books about these characters. I found myself really invested in their welfare by the end of the first book and was sad to see them go in the last book.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan - There are 5 books in this series. I just read them over the Thanksgiving in Ohio family extravaganza. And they are great! They're written for the 5th to 9th grade set, so they're extremely easy to read and so much fun. Riordan does a really good job of getting the tone and voice right for the 12 year old characters. I enjoyed all the Greek mythology references, although I realized I had forgotten quite a bit from my English major nerd days. Again, I was sad to see these characters go when I finished the last books. Riordan has published the first book in a new series set in the same world, but with the focus on different characters. I have that book on my "to read" list because I loved these books so much. And! Some of the main characters from this series are in those books so I'm hoping I'll get my Percy Jackson fix from them. On a side note, Alex and I watched the movie, "The Lightning Thief" last week and it was HORRIBLE. Such a disappointment. So if you saw the movie, don't judge the books by it. The books are much, much, much better.

Friday, December 10, 2010

7 Quick Takes - 12/10/10

1. Living in a tiny apartment has its challenges. Particularly during Christmas time. Our tree BARELY fits in our "dining" area. I wrapped a bunch of presents last night and it was like a game of Tetris trying to fit them under the tree.

2. I am obsessed with Peppermint Mochas this time of year. My wallet, however, is not so pleased. So imagine my joy when I found that Coffeemate makes a Peppermint Mocha creamer! But be ye warned, buy the liquid and not powdered version. I don't care how much more it costs. It's WORTH it. Don't make my same mistake, dear reader!

3. I am having trouble sleeping lately. I'm attributing it to Christmas insomnia. I get all excited with presents and travel plans and decorations and then my mind will not turn off. At the rate I'm going, I'll be staying up all night by Saturday.

4. I'm taking Jack to get some professional pictures today. I have a friend who is a photographer on the side and she has her hands on a fancy professional camera and lens this weekend. I'm hoping to get a good shot for our Christmas card. I'm excited to share the results with you!

5. If you're looking for some free Christmas music, Amazon is doing 25 Days of Free again this year. And if you look around the site, they have a TON of free Holiday music samplers.

6. Jack got up at 5:15 this morning. Which means he went down for a nap at 10 am. That's going to make our photo session at 4 go really well!

7. Have you been watching The Sing Off? I really enjoyed both episodes last week. I'm sad that the kids from Kettering Fairmont were eliminated since I drove by their school every day when I lived in our old house. But there's still lots of good groups left and it's just such a fun show. You should check it out!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Christmas Deals

I just started typing one of the most boring posts of all time. And as I kept going, I realized it sounded stupid and lame and BLAH, WHO CARES ABOUT THE DETAILS.

So here is the short version:

I did a lot of Christmas shopping today.

Here are some good deals I found.

I got this nativity set for 25 bucks at Toys R Us. Which is the cheapest I have EVER seen it.

I also got a good deal at Toys R Us on this basketball hoop, which Santa will be bringing for Jack. (Seriously, I got it for cheaper than it is on AMAZON.) Curiously, it was cheaper at the smaller store I went to first, than at the GIANT Babies R Us/Toys R Us mega store I visited later in the day.

The best deal of the day was the Little People Racin' Ramps Garage. It was 40 bucks at Toys R Us and I had never seen it for less than 30 anywhere before. (It's currently 44.98 on Amazon.) I scored it at Target for 24 dollars! OH. YEAH. I was so excited I told the check out lady about it. She...didn't really care.

I also got 9 piece bath toy set for 5 bucks at Big Lots. Which doesn't sound like much, but considering bath toys are ridiculously expensive and it's IMPOSSIBLE to find a simple, floating BOAT for a BATHTUB for less than TWENTY DOLLARS, I was pretty excited. And Big Lots was my THIRD stop after failed attempts at the 99 cent store AND The Dollar Tree. I was SEEING boats everywhere by the time I got to Big Lots. Like, how hard is it to make a cheap bath toy for a stocking stuffer, people?

(And for those of you who might have a Wonder Pets fan in your family, Big Lots had a Fly Boat with Tuck for 10 bucks. I realize that sentence made NO sense to you if you've never watched The Wonder Pets before. And for that, my friend, you should be thankful. For those pets will HAUNT YOUR DREAMS.)

And I found a cute Christmas-y sweater for Santa pictures for a whopping 4.50 at Once Upon a Child.

As I told Alex in a breathless e-mail, I am a Christmas Shopping Ninja.

See? Boring! But exciting for me because I love a good deal. And I really wanted to share. Thank you.

You should watch this because it's pretty cool:

North Point's iBand from North Point Web on Vimeo.

Monday, December 06, 2010


In general, I try not to blog about my family because they don't read this website. It seems unfair to post about someone and then not have the courtesy to let them know they're being talked about on the internet. But I have some thoughts that I need to get out. I promise to keep them general and you can promise not tell tell on me. Cool?

I have a family member who is not doing well. She seems to be giving up and I don't know how to deal with it. I'm feeling a wide array of emotions. Anger, sadness, and guilt, to name a few. What do you do when someone stops wanting to live? My initial reaction is to think that person is selfish. But then I think that maybe I am being the selfish one. After all, she's lived a long life. Her husband, mother, father, and most of her siblings have all died. Her oldest son is gone too. She buried a still born baby over 60 years ago. She's lost plenty of people in her life. Maybe she's just tired. Maybe she's ready to move on.

But man, I am NOT ready for her to leave. I have a son. I want more babies. I want her to know them. I want them to remember her. I consider it a great honor that I got to know my great grandfather who lived to be 102. She'll be 90 next year, so by my count, we've got a good 12 years left, ya know? And maybe when I'm 42 I can deal with her death better. But not now. Not now.

I feel guilty that I've let her down. I'm not delusional enough to think her life revolves around me, but maybe if I hadn't left. Maybe if I lived closer. Maybe if I had visited more. Maybe if I brought Jack to see her more often. Maybe she'd fight harder. Maybe she'd want to TRY to get better.

Maybe, maybe, maybe. I don't know how to talk to her about it. I don't know if I can. She's always been a fighter. This new "I don't want to" attitude is really throwing me off.

I need her to stay. I need her to stick around.


Friday, December 03, 2010

Seven Quick Takes - 12/3/10

1. Wait, it's been 2 1/2 weeks since I've blogged. What happened? Ah yes, that's right. A funeral, a baptism, Thanksgiving and an early Christmas. You know, the usual. And all of that happened in Ohio. Far far away from Texas.

2. Today, Jack turns 20 months old. I'm not really sure how that's possible since I gave birth to him just a few days ago. Seriously. 20 months! We're barreling into 2 years at a ridiculously fast rate.

3. I can't be the only person who hates Natalie Portman, right? These previews and commercials for Black Swan are driving me CRAZY. Go. Away. Natalie.

4. I wore a t-shirt and flip flops yesterday. I know a lot of people in the south resent the lack of cold weather and "real winter" during December, but I am not one of them. I really, really, really like not needing a winter coat. Really.

5. I am concerned about what to get Jack for Christmas. I have spent HOURS scouring the internet looking for gifts. I now have a giant spreadsheet FILLED with links to various toys. And I...don't feel any better prepared. It just means I have a ton of links to confuse me even more. Ack!

6. I seem to have lost my Kindle charger. And my Kindle is out of battery. Help!

7. I've been sitting here, staring at the screen for at least an hour trying to think of a 7th item. And I've got nothing. Nothing! I leave for 2 weeks and I can't even think of a 7th quick take. Loser.