December 14, 2011
November 17, 2011
#28: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - Is a 576 page tome about an orphan, her foster family, and the Jew hidden in their basement in Nazi Germany during World War II. It’s horribly depressing, mainly because everyone is starving and then dies. Okay, not everyone. But geez, did I need a fluffy romance novel to recover from this one. Liesel, the 11 year-old heroine learns to read over the course of the book and also begins accumulating a collection of stolen books. I didn’t love this story. I could see how it was skillfully written, but by the end, it was very hard to find something good to take away from it. Due to the sucking of the joy out of the world. And I hated the narrator. [book club selection]
#30: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor – This YA fantasy has some insane world building and fascinating secondary characters. The heroine Karou, is a blue-haired, tattooed art student in Prague, with a very unusual part time job. She's kickass and incredibly vivid. The Prague setting is wonderfully drawn and has me dying to visit and have a bowl of goulash in a hidden cafe. I would never have chosen this novel for myself, but actually really enjoyed it and look forward to a sequel. [book club selection]
October 26, 2011
In the first season, and on the surface, it’s very Twilight-esque. A hundred-something year-old vampire falls in love with a human teenager. But right away, the story expands, and it’s not just about the two star-crossed lovers anymore. It’s really funny, and genuine, and action-packed. It’s about love and loss, and betrayal and forgiveness, and trying to be strong in the face of overwhelming odds. And the epic bromance between a vampire and a vampire hunter. But at its core, The Vampire Diaries is about characters. Amazing, flawed, three-dimensional, evolving characters.
The two very different brothers who’ve fallen in love with the same woman… twice. The brooding vampire who’s been betrayed by his brother a hundred times, but hasn’t become jaded or forgotten how to smile. The anti-Bella who loves a vampire, but hasn’t lost her self, who values family and friends above everything, and never wants to become a vampire. The most reckless, manipulative, and self-destructive vampire ever, who loves his brother… and his brother’s girlfriend. The human history teacher who’s lost the two women he’s loved but is trying to be there for two teenagers who’ve lost everyone. The cheerleader turned Vampire Barbie who’s acquired depth and compassion but never lost her enthusiasm for life. The young witch who’s willing to sacrifice herself for the ones she loves. The sullen teenager who’s faced overwhelming loss but is growing up and trying to be there for his family.
Oh, and every actor on this show is mind-blowingly talented and insanely good-looking. The first two seasons are on dvd and Netflix Instant and if you don’t start watching them immediately, I don’t even want to know you.
October 12, 2011
#27: Succubus Revealed by Richelle Mead - They finally get the cover art right and it's the last damn book in the series. Succubus Georgina Kincaid finally finds what she's been looking for - a loophole in her contract with hell. But hell doesn't really like losing employees so this could turn out really bad for her. But of course she gets her (mostly) happy ending and the man of her dreams. Unfortunately, it's not the one I wanted her to end up with. Carter 4-eva!
#23: Treachery in Death by J.D. Robb - This is the eleventieth million in the In Death Series. Or, number 32. This series has been getting pretty stale and formulaic, which is probably what happens after you’ve written 30 books about the same characters. I was skeptical this one would be any better since it was also about corrupt cops within the force, which has been covered in this series before. But the approach felt fresher and the character’s reactions were much more emotional. I think kick-ass homicide detective Eve Dallas is finally allowing her soft side to show.
#25: Succubus Heat by Richelle Mead – This fourth book in the Georgina Kincaid series sees Regina’s boss, the arch-demon of Seattle disappear from the city, which renders the lesser immortals under him temporarily mortal. This allows Georgina and Seth to give into their long denied desires, even though he’s now with someone else. But of course Georgina can’t leave anything alone and feels the need to rescue her boss, even if it means she goes back to being a succubus.
September 28, 2011
September 12, 2011
I am a third-wave feminist. I was raised Unitarian, by a single mother, and I majored in Anthropology. And I chose to take my husband’s last name when I got married.
In my defense, I got married at 22. I think it’s downright miraculous that I’ve stuck with any decision I made at 22, including my choice in husband. I often think about all the things I’d do differently if I had my wedding to do over again. I’d pick a different dress, possibly a different venue, and there’s no way in hell I’d do that damned garter toss again. But strangely enough, taking my husband’s name isn’t one of those things.
Given my background, I grew up knowing that taking my husband’s name when marrying was my choice to make. Since I was one of the first to get married among my friends, I didn’t even have a peer sample to compare. My mother, who’s been married three times (don’t tell her I told you that), has taken his name, been a hyphenate, and is now sporting her maiden name for good.
I don’t think Rob cared either way if I took his name. To be honest, I don’t recall ever asking him. If he’d had a definite opinion, I hope I would have at least listened politely. But even at 22, his opinion on this wouldn’t have carried much weight. It was always my decision to make.
Many factors went into my decision.
- My parents divorced when I was a baby and I’ve never had a relationship with my father or his family, yet I carried his name for 22 years.
- Maybe because of that, I was never particularly attached to the name. It wasn’t anything special, nor anything especially horrid.
- It wasn't a difficult name to pronounce, yet people always seemed to stumble over it.
- I am alive and vital and so very easy to find on the internet, regardless of what name you know me by.
- There’s one benefit to getting married at 22: Before I became the internet sensation I am today, I was too young to have done anything especially noteworthy to give that name any added cache.
- Having a uniquely spelled first name (silly as it is) was always my more memorable quality and I’ve always identified more with that.
- Maybe if I’d had my last name changed to my mother’s family name when I was a kid, I would have felt differently.
- I had and have a far stronger relationship with the family I married into, than the one who’s name I was born with.
I still worry sometimes (when I forget there are so many more important things to worry about) that some people will make incorrect assumptions about me and my values and background because of the fact that I carry my husband’s name. But never fear ladies, I didn’t lose my chance to fight the patriarchy. I just fought my own.
September 08, 2011
#15: Tracking the Tempest by Nicole Peeler – The second book in the Jane True series takes adorable Jane out of her small coastal Maine town and into the big city to visit her vampire boyfriend and fight big bad evil. (While cracking jokes and sporting Converse of course.)
#16: Tempest’s Legacy by Nicole Peeler – The third book in the Jane True series and my favorite one so far. Jane’s world is turned upside-down when she finds out the fate of her long-lost mother. She makes some big decisions about her relationships and also starts really coming into her own power. I adore Jane, but also really love all of the secondary characters in this series.
#17: Red-Headed Stepchild by Jaye Wells – The first in the Sabina Kane series. Sabina is a vampire half-breed assassin in L.A. with a ginormous chip on her shoulder. She’s pretty rough around the edges but has fascinating adventures and a joins forces with a hot wizard.
#18: The Mage in Black by Jaye Wells – The second book in the Sabina Kane series sees Sabina relocating to New York to meet the magical half of her family. Things turn violent pretty quickly, which is pretty much just how Sabina rolls. I want to like Sabina, but she makes such dumb decisions sometimes that I kind of want to thump her on the head.
#19: Succubus Blues by Richelle Mead – The first book in the Georgina Kincaid series introduces the succubus with the heart of gold, who works in a bookstore in Seattle, when she’s not stealing the life force from people. Georgina is full of all kinds of idiosyncrasies for a demon from hell. She also finds herself torn between two men that she really can’t have.
#20: Succubus on Top by Richelle Mead – In the second book from this series, Georgina is trying to make a go of it with her human boyfriend Seth, while also trying please her bosses in hell. There are going to be a LOT of obstacles in between Georgina and her happily ever after.
#21: Green-Eyed Demon by Jaye Wells – The third book in the Sabina Kane series sees Sabina and her motley crue (hot mage Adam and her demon familiar Giguhl) heading to New Orleans to rescue her sister and go to war with her evil grandmother once and for all. The New Orleans setting is the perfect background for a paranormal adventure.
July 21, 2011
Take a photography class
Meet John Prine
Eat an In-N-Out burger
Have dinner in Little Italy
Go shopping at the Alight store in NYC
Have a Nathan’s hot dog on Coney Island
Visit Bremerton, Washington
Go on a cruise
Pay off all of our credit cards
Have my kitchen remodeled
Buy a Volkswagen Beetle
Have a swimming pool
Write a novel
Drive across the U.S. in an RV
Go to San Diego Comic Con
See a Broadway show
Take Cooper to Disney World (Planned! June 2013!)
Have a picture taken of Rob, Cooper and me that I really love
See the sunflowers in Tuscany
Open my own or work in a book store
Find a job I can do from home
Take the Jack the Ripper tour in London
Go on a trip with my mother and sister
Have an elfa closet
Become a professional organizer
Visit the M&M store in Las Vegas
Buy something at the Tiffany store in NYC
Go whale watching
Visit Deadwood South Dakota
Quit my job
Take Cooper to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
Open my own summer camp
Resurect Jello Pudding Pops
Get a passport
Keep a plant alive
Find the perfect little black dress
Go to my high school reunion
Read 100 new books in a year
Be a vegetarian for a month
Go on a dinosaur dig
Adopt from foster care
Read the complete works of Zelda Fitzgerald
Go on an Etsy shopping spree
Spend a week by myself with no obligations
Take a road trip to Dollywood
Spend a month in the French quarter
Pose for boudoir portraits
Eat bread in Paris
Finish my college degree
Ride a mechanical bull
Inspire someone to do something new
Sunbathe in the Italian Riviera
Attend the Highland Games in North Carolina
Watch everything in my Netflix queue
Rent a beach house with my family
Take Cooper camping
Have Butterbeer at Universal Studio’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Planned! June 2013!)
Learn to pack light
Host a dinner party
Perform a karaoke solo
Write my will
See the Fall leaves in New England
Teach my sister to apply makeup
Throw a Halloween party
Have a pint in an Irish pub
Have a professional photographer take my twitter avatar photo
Make homemade ice cream
Have dinner at the Commander's Palace in New Orleans
Watch AFI's Top 100 Films of All Time (seen 28 so far)
Have a movie marathon weekend
Take a second honeymoon
Live in Central Austin
Rock pink hair
Wear a bikini, without having a "bikini body"
Make a living working less than 40 hours a week
Get to name an OPI nail polish color
Become a more mindful consumer
Spend more time with my grandmother
Take a vacation every Summer
Own every color of Converse
Get a sleeve tattoo of my favorite desserts
Take a pottery class
Have a big window-seat for reading and daydreaming
Be an extra in a movie or TV show
Send Cooper to college
Spend a weekend at a spa
Overcome my low-level OCD
July 05, 2011
The Flapper awoke from her lethargy of sub-deb-ism, bobbed her hair, put on her choicest pair of earrings and a great deal of audacity and rouge and went into the battle. She flirted because it was fun to flirt and wore a one-piece bathing suit because she had a good figure ... she was conscious that the things she did were the things she had always wanted to do. Mothers disapproved of their sons taking the Flapper to dances, to teas, to swim and most of all to heart.
June 15, 2011
#11: Indulgence in Death by J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts) - This is the 31st novel of the In Death series. Honest to God. 31 books. And the main character, Eve Dallas, who is mostly a kick-ass homicide cop in futuristic New York City, is finally learning how to deal with her interpersonal relationships. She's 32, so it's kind of about time. The case wasn't particularly emotionally involving, so the fact that Eve is trying to focus on her relationships more (with a sprawling cast of main and secondary characters), helps to make the story move along.
May 05, 2011
April 29, 2011
April 18, 2011
The Malm dressing table from Ikea (not currently listed on the website) is larger, sleeker, and fits in with the modern (and also birch colored) furniture in our bedroom. The drawer was a bear to assemble and I'm not positive I got it in right, but it holds about three times what the previous vanity could. As you can see, I still have too much stuff and have the storage cube underneath (from Target's Itso line). But overall I think the effect is more attractive and more streamlined.
Don't you just love Spring cleaning?
April 04, 2011
March 24, 2011
We’re starting with the master bathroom out of necessity. While bracing my hand against the shower wall, the tiles collapsed under my hand. Unbeknownst to us, we had some water leaking through the grout and now have water damage in the walls. This is what we currently live with.
So while a new shower was definitely an unplanned expense, I’m looking forward to the nicer and larger one we’re going with. Since we’ll have a new shower, I’m taking the opportunity to spruce up that bathroom. Since we’re the only ones who ever see that bathroom, I’ve never really taken the trouble to add an pretty touches (other than a shower curtain and mats). It’s been a fairly utilitarian room except for the massive lack of organization. The counters are covered with hair products, prescriptions, and assorted ugliness. I’m posting the before picture in an effort to shame myself into fixing this space. Don’t judge!
Additionally we’ll be adding a new shelf and bringing in some decorative baskets to store some of that unsightly mess in, some fresh new rugs, and some pretty decorations. Yes, no guests see that room, but Rob and I see it on a daily basis. And I think we deserve to have a fresh and serene bathroom to enjoy.
Bathroom after photos coming in May.
Other projects I’m currently planning: new vanity and makeup organization, and the great closet cleanout part 2. You may remember the great closet cleanout of 2008.
March 22, 2011
Luckily, awesome blogger extraordinaire Lesley Kinzel of Two Whole Cakes has re-worked that article into something useful: Helpful Tips: How not to be a boorish body-policing jerk.
Trust me, you will never lie on your deathbed thinking, “I wish I’d berated
myself more for not looking like a photoshopped-to-perfection model in a
March 04, 2011
It’s very common for toddlers to stutter as they’re learning to speak. They often get so excited over new discoveries that their mouths can barely catch up with their brains. We read up on it and talked to his pediatrician and then didn’t worry about it. Early childhood stuttering usually disappears within six months.
In Cooper’s case, it’s been going on for over a year. So we made an appointment for him to be evaluated by a speech pathologist. She was very impressed by his vocabulary, but even I could see that he became reluctant to identify items on her flash cards, once he realized that we were focused on his speech. And for days afterward, his stammering became much more pronounced and he would refuse to say words that he’d said a hundred times before, as if afraid of stuttering over them. It was heartbreaking.
Then the diagnosis came: moderate fluency impairment. It’s very hard to not think “wow, we screwed him up fast”. The King’s Speech aside, most experts don’t seem to think that parents actually cause stammering. But what if it is our fault? Was it our repeated insistence to “use your words”? Or the many times we’ve tried to instill better manners by having him repeat himself so as to ask for snacks and TV shows instead of demanding? Was it the genetic combination of my mild OCD and Rob’s anxiety?
And here we are now. Paying $75 a week (which insurance doesn’t cover, since his impairment is not the result of a birth defect - see? The insurance company thinks it’s our fault too!) for Cooper to meet with a speech therapist. She’s made suggestions for behavior modification we can try at home. She thinks we should speak more slowly, pausing for 1-2 seconds before responding to a question or a comment from him, and decrease the amount of questions that we ask (instead of directly asking questions like "Which color do you want?", she suggests rephrasing them as a statement like "I wonder what color you want.") The idea is that these modifications will help to create a more relaxed conversation environment, and decrease time pressure to communicate. This is a very difficult challenge for people who choose to speak in 140 characters or less.
So my precious, beautiful child, who is pretty much perfect in every way (except for the occasional epic toddler meltdown) is learning that it’s okay to communicate more slowly. And mommy and daddy are endeavoring to do the same.
March 03, 2011
#1 - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Book 4) by JK Rowling - Didn't really miss the lack of Quidditch matches in this one. Could NOT help picturing Robert Pattinson as Cedric Diggory despite not having seen any of the movies.
#2 - Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix (Book 5) by JK Rowling - This was the beginning of the series turning much darker. The Umbridge character was truly horrifying and there's an overwhelming helplessness about the entire story.
#3 - Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner - I was attracted to this book due to the plus size heroine (though repelled by the $9.99 Kindle price point for a 10 year-old book). It went the usual chick-lit path and then veered off in a direction I hadn't anticipated. Fairly long for the genre, but enjoyable.
#4 - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Book 6) by JK Rowling - Reviewers claim this to be when the series turned dark, but I disagree of course (see above). It's without a doubt building on the darkness, with a truly traumatizing ending.
#5 - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7) by JK Rowling - The series came full circle and yet it's a fitting adult end. And war is hell.
#6 - For a Few Demons More (The Hollows, Book 5) by Kim Harrison - I was becoming apathetic about this series (the main character has never really clicked with me) and then Harrison blew the whole thing apart and everything has changed. I feel re-invested in the series.
I really haven't even come close to reading 100 books a year. So I've decided 50 new books a year is a more realistic goal. I definitely read more than 50 books a year, but I love to re-read favorites all the time, and that cuts down on time left for new books. Like right now, I'm re-reading Charlaine Harris' An Ice Cold Grave (Harper Connelly #3) while simultaneously reading Brenda Joyce's brand new Deadly Vows (Francesca Cahill novels, #9). So in order to be more practical, I'll be resetting my annual goal to 50 new books.
Below is a wrap-up of 2010 books read. You'll notice it's heavy on the urban fantasy series and YA books. I guess that's my new thing. Can't recommend Stacia's Kane's Downside Ghosts series enough. She's built a fascinating world and created a compelling and yet deeply flawed heroine. I'm breaking up with the Anita Blake series. She's gone off the rails and I've taken it as far as I can, which is further than most people would. Most advice I've read online is to stop at Obsidian Butterfly. Wish I'd stopped before then. Oh, and if you haven't read The Hunger Games series, you must.
#12 - Narcissus in Chains (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, Book 10) by Laurell K. Hamilton
#13 - The Vampire and the Virgin (Love at Stake, Book 8) by Kerrelyn Sparks
#14 - Incubus Dreams (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, Book 12) by Laurell K. Hamilton
#15 - Every Which Way But Dead (The Hollows, Book 3) by Kim Harrison
#16 - Cerulean Sins (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, Book 11) by Laurell K. Hamilton
#17 - Micah (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, Book 13) by Laurell K. Hamilton
#18 - Unholy Ghosts (Downside Ghosts, Book 1) by Stacia Kane
#19 - City of Ghosts (Downside Ghosts, Book 3) by Stacia Kane
#20 - Unholy Magic (Downside Ghosts, Book 2) by Stacia Kane
#21 - Danse Macabre (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, Book 14) by Laurell K. Hamilton
#22 - Fantasy in Death (In Death series, book 31) by J.D. Robb
#23 - Personal Demons (Megan Chase, Book 1) by Stacia Kane
#24 - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Book 1) by J.K. Rowling
#25 - Demon Inside (Megan Chase, Book 2) by Stacia Kane
#26 - A Fistful of Charms (The Hollows, Book 4) by Kim Harrison
#27 - Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Book 2) by J.K. Rowling
#28 - Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Book 3) by J.K. Rowling
#29 - Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games) by Suzanne Collins
#30 - Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games) by Suzanne Collins
March 02, 2011
See, Texas is on the verge of an economic crisis. Many would argue that we're already there, but really, it can get worse. The state is broke, and there are budget shortfalls in every branch of government. The state will likely have to lay off 9,000 employees. And many teachers are going to lose their jobs (1,500 in Austin Independent School District alone). They may even have to close schools. And it's not because we don't need the teachers and the schools. Even though Texas is like 49th in Education in the country, we can't even afford to maintain that level of abysmal quality.
We have a despotic governor that has been driving the economy into the ground for years because he refuses to consider raising taxes, for fear of alienating his donor base. We're a diverse state, but less than half of the population votes, and the ones who do vote tend to be conservative. And we have no term limits in Texas.
I'm not pretending to know how to fix this problem, but it seems like common sense that when you're out of money, and you have no way to pay for the necessities in life, that you need to do whatever is necessary to raise money.
Dear Senator Deuell-
I wanted to thank you for your stance on raising taxes in order to address our current economic crisis. It's time to spend the Rainy Day Fund and it's time to raise taxes. These are hard times, and cutting education and firing teachers and state employees wouldn't have to happen if we were willing to pay a little more in taxes. As a parent who can only afford public education, I'd like my child to get a better one that what's being offerred in this state right now.
My mother is a state employee and my step-father is a teacher and neither of them is ready to retire. It's shameful that they could both be unemployed, due to no fault of their own, by Summer.
Your constituents expect you to defend education and public service and to be realistic about how it needs to be done. I hope you'll continue to support raising taxes and I hope the Democrats I voted for will stand with you on this issue.