Saturday, December 19, 2015

Two Book Series I've Really Enjoyed this Year - Lunar Chronicles and the Reckless Series

Have you noticed that I stopped keeping track of the books I was reading.  When we were getting ready to move I just didn't have time and then by the time I did I had forgotten what I'd been reading.  It got me so stressed out I finally just decided to stop keeping track.  Sometimes I feel a little guilty, especially when I think about the beautiful book review Bridget puts together at the end of the year but I also feel free.  I can just read my books and enjoy them and don't have to worry about remember the titles or taking pictures are summarizing it up.  I also don't have to worry about continuing to read books I hate.  Because I set a yearly goal of books I wanted to read each month I found myself continuing to read books I hated just to get the number.  Now I have the freedom to say forget it.  That being said I really should mention and keep track of books I've really enjoyed.  There are two series I've read this year that I've just loved.

The first is the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer 
The first book was Cinder, I read it back in September of 2014 and I felt so so on it.  It was a futuristic version of Cinderella where Cinderella was a cyborg.  It was interesting but I didn't think it was that special.  When I found out it was going to be a multi book series I didn't really plan on reading any of the others but then January I was looking for something new to read so I picked up the next book Scarlet.  I loved Scarlet so much.  Scarlet added a new heroine, a French farm girl who represented little red riding hood.  She came with her own love interest, a soldier with spliced in wolf genes who happens to be called Wolf.  Wolf was delicious.  Please, please, please tell me that when they turn these books into movies that Liam Hemsworth plays Wolf. Yum!  At this point I was hooked on the books.  A few months later I got my hands on Cress.  Cress follows a new character, a hacker locked up in a satellite around the moon.  She is Rapunzel. Her job is to find the Cinder and Scarlet for the evil lunar queen but she soon becomes irrelevant to her master and is dropped to earth with her love interest, Carswell Thorne, a fugitive republic "Captain" who escaped from prison with Cinder.  He is a rake and equally Wolf delicious.  Think Orlando bloom in pretty much anything he has ever been in.  Good grief I wish he wasn't so old (and by old I mean my age) because he would have been perfect to play Carswell in the movie....or young Leonardo DiCaprio in Catch Me If You Can or Titanic.  But since age is catching up with us, maybe Ansel Elgort.  By this point I was just hooked.  Two delicious romantic interest, (there are actually three, Prince Kaito as well but he is just always so indecisive, he just isn't my type), three heroins, it was fun.  The next book in the series was Fairest.  It was at this point that Meyer won me over forever.  Fairest is actually a prequel and tells the story of Queen Levana the antagonist of the whole series, the evil Lunar Queen.  It is still perfect to read right after Cress.  The story explains what makes Levana so evil, what drives her madness, and explains some of the antagonism toward Cinder.  I'm not going to say it justifies all her behavior but it gives you another perspective and it definitely left me torn.  It is one of the saddest stories in a series of sad stories and I really loved that Meyer included it, she didn't have to but for me it really elevated the whole series.  Now the final book Winter is out.  It is actually sitting on my dresser right now.  I immediately ordered it but I ordered it for the kids to give me for Christmas and so I've kept my hands off of it.  It is killing me but I promise I will have it finished by the end of the year.  This is a great series and if you like young adult lit I highly recommend it.  There is a lot of girl power, there is this quirky futuristic fairy-tale angle and there is a lot of love interest.  It is sort of the perfect teen girl book or grown up lady who enjoys teen girl books.  It feels a lot to me like the Hunger Games appeal but I need to see if I can get J to read one so I can see if it is cross gender interesting.

Another series I've devoured this month is the Reckless Series by Cornelia Funke.  The first book is Reckless and follows two brothers after their father disappears from their lives.  The older one is Jacob Reckless who has been entering a mirror world in his father's study since he was twelve years old.  The Mirrorworld is sort of a Grimm based fairy-tale land.  The land is being overrun by Goyl, a humanoid race from underground who are made of stone.  The king of this group has a fairy mistress who has made a way for his soldiers to turn humans into Goyl.  After years Jacob's brother Will finally follows him through the mirror and is turned into a Goyl, but he is a Jade Goyl, one who has been prophesied to be the savior the the King of the Goyl.  Jacob makes it his mission to heal Will.  The second book was Fearless.  In this story Jacob has to save himself from a curse he had to take on to save Will.  I'm now in the middle of the third book which came out this week, The Golden Yarn.  I'm loving this one as well.  These books have romance, political intrigue, magic, familial love, fairy-tale references.  I have really enjoyed them.  Supposedly this is suppose to be a five book series.  I don't know if it is actually going to make it to five and it doesn't help that Funke writes them German and I have to wait for them to be translated but I'm really hoping she finishes them.  This series is better than the Inkheart trilogy in my opinion!

A Few Christmas Traditions

No fancy Residency Christmas Parties to attend this year, boy those pediatricians knew how to party, but we did have a grown up Christmas dinner last night with some of the doctors and staff J works with.  We didn't come together.  J was at work and even though they had another doctor come in to cover the floor they had a baby born at over ten pounds who was having some trouble getting his sugar regulated so J was late.  All the doctors were teasing about how he is always like, "I just have one more thing to get done," and I was like "Guys this has been the last fourteen years of my life.  Let me tell you about how he was late to my endowment session."  It was still great though.  I hired a babysitter so we were without kids and it was just nice to sit and talk to other adults and enjoy eating without having to worry about kids spilling things or spitting out green beans or such.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy kids parties as well but J's boss is a German woman a few years older than us whose partner is a German botanist, they have no kids and their very beautiful, very expensive home on the lake is full of things like 500 year old bibles so it was nice not to have to worry.  We had dinner, then the docs had a quick team meeting while the botanist and the wife of the medical officer, the head guy, washed dishes.  I spent my time listening to the dish washers discuss a son out on a mission and the team meeting.  I learned that my husband's other day guy was actually a national swimmer for Kenya which explains why we all chipped in on a baby swimsuit in December.  I also learned that in Germany the game Sorry (which by the way is the worst game ever, because no one ever likes hearing that condescending sorry) is called Don't Make Me Angry.  I kind of like that better.  Then everyone came back to the tables and we ate desert.  Chocolate covered cheese cake, yes please!

At dinner two of the five other guys at the party shared a name with my husband.  It apparently was very popular in the 70s when their parents gave it to them although my husband's mom claims she knew no one with that name.  Go figure.  We were sitting at the same table they were and there was an awkward moment when one of the wives asked a J to pass the butter and all three reached for it.  

Yesterday was a day full of Christmas things for us.  I also was the room mom for Peach's class Christmas Party.  Did I ever mention how crazy the Halloween one was.  I had split my time between the two classrooms.  I started in Gigi's class.  There were like 12 parent helpers, six stations, two parents at each.  I was helping kids make monster magnets until I had to leave for Peach's classroom.  When I got to Peach's party it was just her teacher and his wife.  The kids were running around screaming and throwing candy everywhere.  I had sent in little things like play-dough, bubbles, and monster magnets.  He had given them to Peach to pass out.  She asked who wanted them and then just handed over the whole unwrapped packaged thing to one or two kids.  When I tried to separate out the bubbles and playdough a few kids threw a fit.   I was seriously so annoyed.  I mean sometimes I think the highly structured parties are a little much but this was just too crazy.  I came home and thought about it for a day.  I've always managed to avoid being the room mom because there has always been someone nicer and more talented who would do it but this I just could not take, so I sent an e-mail to her teacher and offered to take over all of his parties for him and he'd like.

He of course said yes.  So Friday morning I was hauling a huge suit case full of my griddle, a bowl, spatulas, pretty much half my kitchen.  Apparently it is tradition at the school to do a pancake breakfast so that is what we did.  We also made a Christmas ornament and played bingo.  I had a couple parent helpers and for the most part we kept things smooth.  It was nice to not have a million little kids at home any more so that I could help in this way.  I've helped at most of G and E's parties but I always had a little one or two or three in hand so I just couldn't run it.  Now that I'm almost without little ones I finally felt I could give it my full attention.  The kids had a great time.  The teacher was especially grateful and Peach said the kids said it was the best party ever.  I guess you can't ask for more than that.  It made me so grateful to the other moms and dads who have been doing this for years!  I got zero pictures because I was seriously go, go, go the whole time but I know her teacher got some so maybe I will be able to get my hands on those.  Her teacher has been teaching in downtown LA for the last 12 years and this is the first time he has had a parent helper so I hope he was able to enjoy it.  I have a soft spot for teachers, blame it on my elementary school teaching mom.  

Today J is working so we ran some errands alone.  If you don't have to leave your house don't.  Traffic was crawling for 5 miles before we even reached the mall because people all wanted to use one turn lane even though there were two and there were three other places they could turn after that.  But yesterday E asked me if I could take him to the Dollar Store so he could buy something for all his sister and I agreed so we had to go.  The Dollar Store was seriously so crowded.  I mean really I've never seen that many people in there before.  I'm so glad I have all of my Christmas shopping already done and everything wrapped.  There were no carts left at all but we managed to grab four hand baskets and we walked every aisle in that store three or four times.  Each kid carefully considered the options and then on our second and third rounds started slipping items quietly into their baskets.  After they'd gathered a gift for each family member, switching out a few items we went and paid.  When we got home I had each kid come up to my room individually and I helped them cut out wrapping paper so that they could wrap their gifts.  Then I sang here comes (Peach, E, Gigi, or Cheetah) Claus as they took their presents downstairs.  It was so great.  Without exception each one told me that wrapping gifts was the best, their favorite part of Christmas.  They also were so thoughtful as they considered each gift.  Sure now I own a bunch of crazy stuff from the dollar store but it was seriously the perfect place to take them because the items were all a dollar, everything in the store was something they could buy and I didn't have to steer them at all against items that were too expensive or for the cost not worth bringing home.  Plus they were just overtaken with the joy of giving.  It was probably the best $24 I spent all season.  We will definitely be adding it to our annual Christmas traditions!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Pink Eye

So one of the harder parts of Dr. J's new job is that he works three out of every four weekends.  That means I'm at church alone three out of four weekends.  At some point it probably won't be such a big deal but while my kids are still a little restless it is hard to sit on a bench with them when there is only one of me to separate them. Yesterday I sat between Captain E and Peach, Cheetah was on my lap and Gigi sat beside Peach.  For the most part Gigi just read although during the actual passing of the sacrament I made her put her book away.  Peach kept begging me to cuddle her and tickle her arm and face.  Captain E was mostly quiet but would occasionally do stuff like lick Cheetah's arm to make her angry.  Cheetah was like trying to hold a bag of cats.  That girl was all over the place.

Which explains why when I went to primary during second hour and she asked to sit on my lap I was particularly frustrated.  One of my little girls came in a little late and started to cry.  She only likes to sit by the girls in the class (I teach five year olds) and the only seat available was down by all the boys.  Had I not be arguing with Cheetah at the time I could have rearranged them but I was in a pretty heated whisper conversation with Cheetah.  I'm sure Madison's mom thinks I'm nuts or mean or both but I just wasn't looking forward to another hour of holding Cheetah while she struggled to get away.

Finally she sat on my church bag beside me and was relatively happy for the first five minutes at least.  It was then that I looked down the row and realized that two of the boys in the row had a very pink eye.  My friend Ashley was sitting in front of me (she was subbing the sunbeams).  He son happens to be in my class.  I leaned forward and tapped her on the shoulder.  "Ashley, Ashley," She turned and looked at me.  "Look at R and T," I mouthed, "Pink eye."  I wish you could have seen her eyes.  "Oh my gosh," she said, "This is all my fault.  I took Meela to R's house on Thursday and she was just getting over pink eye."

Oh man it was funny but also a terror fest.  I hate pink eye so much.  We haven't had to deal with it in years and boy has that been a relief.  There is nothing worse than trying to put eye drops in a screaming, writhing, kicking child's eyes.  I had those kids wash their hands a million times.  I'd brought play dough as part of my lesson, the homemade kind.  I separated out a piece for every kid and then said, "That now belongs to you. Take it home."  Mainly just because my other choices was to just throw it out.  When I got home I made all my kids change their clothes and wash their hands before they touched anything :)  Sure it probably was overkill but then I'm pretty sure R got pink eye from an adult who was "getting over it".  Yikes!

Friday, December 4, 2015

FF - The Time I Broke My Arm

I've had three broken bones in my life.  The first one happened when I was probably ten.  My sister Jo and I were latch key kids.  We'd walk home the two blocks from school, let ourselves into the house, eat a snack and then start homework.  Our mom was a teacher and so she'd usually be home about an hour after we were but that hour in between could be a little dicey.  The first time I ever had to get us home from school alone I got completely disoriented.  I walked out of the school and went left instead of going right.  We walked that side of the neighborhood for probably an hour completely confused as to where we were.  At one point Jo was walking on the edging of some guys lawn and he stopped playing his drums to yell at us.  We ran.  Eventually I figured out I needed to go back to school and start over.  That's when I finally realized I'd gone the wrong way and got us home safely.  The problem was I was always forgetting my house key in my desk.  I have no idea why I would take it out of my backpack.  Gigi has a house key in case for some reason I didn't make it home in time to pick her up from school (this has never happened, it is a just in case) and she just keeps it hooked in her backpack.  Maybe I had no hook, maybe I had no backpack but more than once I left it in my desk and didn't realize my mistake until we got home.  It wasn't that big of a deal.  We grew up in Arizona and so it wasn't like I was ever freezing out.  We would just go play in our back yard with our dog Sandy and if it got too hot sit in lawn chairs in our laundry room (it was at the back of the house connected by a porch but had no way into the house.  When our mom got home she'd come and let us in and everything was fine but one day I was running around in the back yard with Sandy and I tripped.  I'm not entirely sure if I tripped over Sandy or the little seeds that came off our eucalyptus tree or just my clumsy big feet but I went down right on my elbow.  I remember crying quite hard and maybe yelling at Sandy a little.  Jo helped me into the laundry room where I promptly sat in a lawn chair and fell asleep. I have no idea why we didn't just go across the street.  Our neighbor would babysit our baby sisters and our mom would pick them up right before she came home.  I'm sure the babysitter would have let us sit at the house while she called her mom but we were young and freaked out and we just decided to take care of it on our own.  When my mom got there, Jo was white as a sheet and told her she thought I was dying.  I wasn't of course but my mom did take me to ER to have X-rays.  The nurse kept trying to force my arm opened and I kept crying and crying.  Finally she just took an x-ray with my arm partially closed.  The doctor looked at the x-ray and sent me home because my ulna and radius looked fine.  The next day they called my mom back.  I had a fracture in the humerus at the elbow.  I wore a splint from fingers to arm pit that was held on with white gauze for a good six weeks.  I remember when I went to the ortho guy to have my cast done they brought a kid in on a stretcher who had been kicked during a soccer game and had a shattered fibula.  That poor kid was sobbing.  I felt especially bad for that kid and felt lucky that I just had to have the only partial splint although that first one I wasn't allowed to take off and boy when he cut it off after six weeks that thing stunk something really awful.  Then for four weeks after that I wore a slightly smaller splint held on with an ace bandage.  The nice thing about it was that I could itch the inside of my elbow and could take it off to shower something my skin was desperate for.  Thank goodness because it was so itchy.  It was actually a great two months for me.  I got out of PE for over two months and typing practice.  Does it seem terrible that I hated PE as a kid.  I'm just terribly clumsy and if balls are involved a total klutz.  That broken arm got me out of a softball chapter which was a miracle.  There is nothing worse than seeing me try to play softball.  It also got me out of typing in computer class and I just got to spend my time playing Oregon Trail which might be why I was so amazing at that game.  I recently asked Dr. J if he thought the Dales and the Columbia River were the river you traveled down in the Oregon Trail right before you won and he told me he'd never actually made it to the river he always starved to death or died of disease.  I actually found this pretty funny because I always tease him that if there was some kind of natural disaster where being fast wasn't important I could last for four months without eating and he'd be gone in three days.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Gigi's Baptism

 One of the things we did while home was baptize Gigi.  I had sort of mixed feelings about the whole thing.  I am totally devoted to being Christian.  I love it.  The idea of Jesus Christ, the teachings, even if you just believed it was a myth it speaks to me on a deeply personal level.  The way I was introduced to Christ though was through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  It is the church I've attended my whole life.  There is lots of stuff I like about it, even love, but there are things in its past and present that I don't agree with.  I have wrestled with this a lot lately.  What matters in life?  Is a perfect church necessary or even needed or even possible?  What is the best choice for me and my family?  There have been times when I've thought maybe I should just leave the church but the church is how I came to know Christ and it is a deep part of my history both personal and familial (my father pointed out that Gigi was 6th generation).  It is hard to leave that kind of security, especially if a lot of the good parts in your life have revolved around church.  My sister also likes to point out that I'm a church going kind of person.  It is just something that brings me comfort.  I probably would have made a great Catholic, Lutheran, Baptist, or Buddhist, but I was born Mormon and so I make a goodish (I'm probably a little too liberal to be great) Mormon even if I'm not always a totally satisfied one and so that is where I go but this last few years, this month in particular, I've been especially frustrated.  So even up until the day of her baptism I said to my husband, "Are we making the right choice?  Is this something that we will later regret or that she will regret?"  I don't know the answer but I do know that even with all my swirling self doubt and with the fact that who knows what the future holds when I got to the church I was filled with such warmth, with peace, and with calm.  When she was baptized I felt nothing but good and so I'm going with that.  We were lucky to have family to join us.  Grandpa Wid and Grandma Jane were there.  Nana Elizabeth and Papa Rhys were there.  Grandma Linda and Grandpa Bob were there.  Grandpa Bryant and Grandma Deb were there. Leslie my sister in law and her husband Cole and her two little ones were there.  Leslie was kind enough to play the piano.  My cousin Sami, her husband Steve and her kids were there along with my cousin Sam's son Sam.  Uncle Taylor came.  Aunt Toni came and then my friend Nancy's mother in-law came.  I was so grateful that she had taken the time.  I feel like I've created this little family of blogging friends who I can share my frustrations, my hopes, and my dreams with and I've been lucky to be able to include some of their families and friends into our little family.  Karen said when she came up to give me a hug after and give Gigi a necklace that we have to stick together.  That meant a lot to me.  I put together a really cute program but it has everyone's full names on it so I think I'll just save that.  I also did a voice recording of Grandpa Wid's talk.  If I can figure out how to download it I will try and link it up. It was a great day.  She was happy, we were happy, and I'm so grateful to everyone who came out to support Gigi. 


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