Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Journal Moment

It was warm and sunny this past weekend. (No worries though, the fifty degree weather and drippy rain will be back soon.) Jay worked most of the weekend so I used the time to hang out with the kids and just enjoy being home doing 'home stuff.' I made cake rice krispie treats, steam cleaned the carpets, read to the girl more than usual, and played around on Pinterest way more than usual.

Saturday, on my way to pick the boy up from a friend's, I was so excited to see a pile of new to me items by the side of the road. Garage sale season really is only one season around these parts and roadside piles are a rarity. One of the items in the pile was this easel:
I love the sunlight in that photo and the hand to hip action.

We're growing butterflies around these parts.
 Well, technically they're caterpillars, but hopefully soon they'll make the transformation.
I wanted to share an up close photo of my new vase:
I bought it from Catherine Reece's etsy shop and I'm predicting it will be the first of many. I'm absolutely in love with it all.

Today I was on Facebook and I fell down the proverbial rabbit hole when I clicked on the profile of someone I know now, who lead me to many people I knew then, and so on and so forth and I came to a guy I knew in middle school and high school and he was nothing like I had imagined he would grow up to be. I find this happens a lot when I'm on FB and it always kind of bums me out. I need to stay off of there.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Book Review: The Gates



Eleven year old Samuel Johnson thought he'd get a head start on Halloween by trick-or-treating three days early. This is the same night that the Abernathys, a somewhat dull, middle aged couple (and also, conveniently enough, the residents of 666 Crowley Road) and their friends the Renfields attempt to bring some excitement in their lives by dabbling in the occult. Unfortunately for them, they manage to open a gateway to hell, some low-level demons come through, take over the bodies of the Abernathys and Renfields, and set a plan in motion to prepare for the coming of "The Great Malevolent One" or Satan.

Samuel and his little dachshund Boswell witness all this and now they must find a way to stop earth from turning, quite literally, into Hell.

I wanted to love this. I had read Connolly's The Book of Lost Things and absolutely adored it so when Jay saw this at Goodwill, I snatched it out of his hands, threw it into the basket, and couldn't wait to get to reading.

But The Gates is no Book of Lost Things. That's not to say that it's bad or that I hated it-it just wasn't what I wanted it to be. Most of what I loved about Lost Things was missing from The Gates. Both books have juvenile main characters but The Book of Lost Things was definitely an adult book. The problems were intense and the drama was suspenseful and, at times, very frightening. The Gates, on the other hand, was missing the suspense and almost felt like a children's book. But yet it wasn't, because it was about demons who want to do horrible things to people and take over the world. Then again, the demons are kinda goofy looking and easily defeated by small children.

Another thing I didn't like about The Gates is that Connolly employed the use of footnotes at the bottom of a lot of the pages. Most of the time I felt as if these footnotes were unnecessary and added nothing to the story. For instance, when Samuel's babysitter threatens to flush him to China, the footnote reads:

"It is not possible to flush someone to China. Or Australia. Well, not unless they're already there. It is not a good idea, though, to point this out to someone who is threatening to flush you to China or Australia, as there is a good chance that they will try it anyway just to prove you wrong."

Eventually I just stopped reading the footnotes altogether, but a little bit of dread would overtake me when I'd turn a page and see the italicized print at the bottom.*

All of that being said, I still love John Connolly's writing. He's cheeky and very clever without being obnoxious. His writing style is probably what kept me reading the book to the end, because the story itself was somewhat predictable. I think this excerpt from the last chapter sums it all up nicely:

"It took a long time for [the town of] Biddlecombe to return to normal. People had died, or like the Abernathys and the Renfields, simply disappeared."   ......."Oh, everyone accepted that something had happened in Biddlecombe, but, officially, nobody seemed entirely sure of what that something might have been...."

Oddly enough, that's exactly how I feel about this book.


* Note to Mr. Connolly: If I want to read footnotes, I'll read a textbook. 





Sunday, April 15, 2012

Rachel Maddow

So, today was Rachel Maddow. And of course I showed up at the event with a mostly dead camera battery.

I was able to get these two shots before my battery fizzled out and died for good:

Notes on the day:

*Alcohol! I love any kind of event where it's socially acceptable to drink liquor mid-morning. Jay had a bloody mary which in his mind is the same as a smoothie and constitutes breakfast. I had a whiskey sour which really isn't acceptable at all for breakfast but there was a cherry in it.

*Rachel read a short excerpt from her book and then answered questions and told a few stories. She's totally likable and entertaining.

*Afterwards, Rachel hung out to sign books but we didn't wait around for that. Jay and I decided that as much as we love certain celebrities, we're far too lazy to ever be celebrity stalkers. Even when we're in the same room as celebrities we love, we always choose to leave rather than wait in line to speak to them. (Why talk to an interesting famous person when you can go home and have lunch/play video games/watch TV?)

*Rachel is much tinier in person than I had imagined. Like a Barbie doll after you've chopped off all it's hair. So yeah, one of my Barbie dolls.


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Random Thoughts

* I've already read 13 books this year. Of course, six of those were graphic novels about zombies. That still counts, right? Actually, I think I'm going to take a break from the post apocalyptic/dystopian/zombie genre for a while. It's starting to bum me out and I think I need something a little lighter. Our next book club book is Full Moon Bride (anyone read it?). While it doesn't look like a light read, at least no ones guts are going to get eaten out. Hopefully.

*One aspect of my job is to, twice a month, write the e-newsletters that go out to all the customers on our mailing list. It's a lot of fun and I love doing it because, hey, I get to write and people read what I write. But it's also the most stressful part of my job because it's just me. After the owner tells me what the subject is to be, it's all on me. I agonize over every word and sentence because, unlike what I do here, these aren't just blog stats. They're actual customers who we want to not only keep reading the newsletter, but then come in the store and spend money so I can keep my job. Anyway, I have a newsletter due on Monday and it just isn't coming together the way I want and I'm finding myself avoiding it. I need to just sit down and finish it so that it's not hanging over my head all weekend.

*Tomorrow Jay and I go see Rachel Maddow! I'm disappointed that I wasn't able to finish her book before the event. Jay's only a few pages away from being done with it and he keeps joking that everything Rachel says will be over my head since I didn't read the book. I may stab him in the face.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

New Dessert Plates

Every time we're at a Goodwill Jay and I spend at least 15 minutes on the dishes and glassware aisles mainly in the hopes of stumbling upon another rare Moomin mug. Sometimes we find inexpensive little treasures but we mostly leave empty handed.

Last week we were on one such aisle when I spotted these:
Originally from Pottery Barn, I bought them for $1.99 per plate. I'll admit that when I realized there was a full set of 6, I may have squealed with delight, and you know that I'm not much of a squealer.

I had no idea what Delespaul-Havez was so I did a bit of research (thank you Wikipedia) and apparently it's one of the oldest chocolate companies in France and the vintage image on the plates is a popular one that can be found on posters and prints.

I brought the plates home with the intention of selling them on ebay but decided I love them too much to part with them.

I predict many delicious desserts will be served on them.
Perhaps even a slice of CherPumple?


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

More of Washington Park

Just a few more photos from Easter Sunday.

I have to admit that spring is not my favorite season. It's arrival marks the official end of cooler weather which just makes me sad. Plus, once spring arrives I know that summer, my most definite least favorite season, isn't too far behind. These are the months that I muddle through, trying to remain cheery until fall. I can do this.

I wanted to talk a bit about the book in my new header. It was nestled under a tree, alongside the hiking path we were on and I could tell that despite the fact that it was severely water logged, it was at one time very, very pretty. I opened it up to see if there was any contact information in it but it appeared to have never been written in.
Did someone leave the journal here as a gift for the next visitor but then it got rained on? It was such an odd thing to stumble upon. I didn't take it with me though. I closed it back up and left it for someone else to find.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Sunday

This morning we had our little around-the-house Easter egg hunt. I thought it would be kind of lame but the kids loved it so I guess it may be a tradition now. I'm trying to see Easter the way you all mentioned, just as a time to celebrate the season and hang with the family.

The weather was beautiful today so we decided to head over to Washington Park. We weren't going to make the boy go with us but at the last minute he decided he wanted to spend time with his family. No one fought, no one argued. In general, no one was in a pissy mood. Could these people sense that earlier in the week I was at the end of my tether and they decided to grant me a day of peace?

Here's a rare decent picture of me:
I had no idea Jay was taking it, which explains why I look half human for a change. I'm not sure how I didn't know Jay was taking it since he was obviously right in front of us. I was probably people watching, which is what I do when I wear my big sunglasses. The freaks and helicopter moms don't know I'm checking them out when my face is half covered. I also love the girl's hair in this picture. We're growing it out and it almost always looks wild, but it was exceptional today.

This next photo was taken mid-hike.
I love everything about this picture because it's so indicative of the way my children are right now. The way Lucy is dressed, the robot helmet, Monty's skinny jeans and Bieber hair. And of course I can't fail to mention the fact that he pulled his come out of his back pocket and proceeded to style his hair in the middle of nature. I'm irritated by his constant vanity but I take solace in the fact that in a few years he's going to look back on this current hairstyle and be very, very embarrassed.

At the end of our hike we came to the ball field and Lucy asked if she could go run around in it. Um, of course.
She's a total free spirit.

After the park we came home, had lunch, and then Jay and I walked to the comic book store so that I could get my later zombie comic. It seemed as if everyone in town was outside walking, biking, skateboarding, or just otherwise enjoying the pleasant weather. One thing I've learned about Oregonians is that when the sun does come out, people take advantage of it because it may be a great long while before it returns again.

I have more pictures to post from the park but I wanted to get these few out while the day was still fresh in my memory. It was great in so many ways and exactly what I needed.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Saturday April 7

I just picked up my camera hoping to find that I had taken some random lovely photo that could go with this blog post, but sadly there was nothing. I haven't been taking many photos lately. Actually, I haven't been doing much of anything creative lately. I'm finding that at the end of the day I don't have much energy left over. Truth be told, I'm having trouble finding balance and I don't know why. I don't work any harder or longer than anyone else, I don't parent any better than anyone else parents, but it feels as if I'm not doing anything exceptional. It seems like I spend all day attempting to keep the proverbial plates spinning only to have them come crashing down and shattering by nightfall. Then, the following morning, I pick up all the pieces and attempt to try it again. By the end of the day, nothing is how I want it. The apartment isn't clean enough, we've been eating too much garbage, I haven't exercised as much as I would like, and we're all at each others throats. Something is just off and I don't know what it is. Maybe just a rut? Does anyone else's family ever get this way?

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Last night I watched The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. What a movie! It's a few years old so I'm sure many of you have seen it but if not, it's definitely one to catch. It's the true story of Jean-Dominique Bauby who was left totally paralyzed by a massive stroke. He couldn't move anything but his left eye. The only form of communication he had was blinking. He eventually composed a book which he would dictate to his assistant one letter at a time. She would recite the alphabet and he would blink when she said the letter he wanted to use. I cannot imagine the kind of patience that took. I definitely want to read the book that the movie is based on.

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The girl starts gymnastics this week. If you know anything about me then you know that I'm never first in line to be signing my child up for any and every after school activity. ( Those types of things just don't fit in with my Lazy Parenting philosophy.) But I've been on the look out for something for her for a while now. I didn't want anything too expensive or high pressure, or anything that would involve a great deal of effort from me (sounds awful, but it's the truth) just something fun to keep her moving for a bit longer in the day. When I got the notice that the school was offering an after school gymnastics class, one day a week for eight weeks, I pounced on it. It was exactly what I was looking for. I'm excited to see if the girl will enjoy it.

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All week long people have been asking me if we (the family and I) are doing anything special for Easter. This seems so odd to me because I consider Easter to be a straight up religious holiday and these folks know that I'm not religious. I had no idea that non religious people loved it too, but I guess they do. Initially I had nothing planned but then I caved to all the peer pressure, bought some cheap plastic eggs, and halfheartedly filled them with candy and money. Tonight after the kids go to sleep, I guess I'll be hiding them. I had hoped to make a special Easter brunch or something but never got around to it so it's looking as if that's not going to happen. I don't know if I'll be doing this next year. Since none of it has any meaning to me, it just seems weird and pointless.

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As I sit here typing this, I'm watching my daughter play outside. She and about 6 friends all have sticks or Nerf guns. They're gathering together and then running in all directions. As I watch them, I can't help but wonder if they're playing The Hunger Games. I hope not.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Thievery

The store I work at is in a very wealthy community so we don't have a huge theft problem, but it does happen. (Yep, upper class white people steal too.) There's one teenage gal who comes in a lot who was able to swipe about $40 of merchandise while I was on duty. I had known what she was up to and was following her around, keeping my eye on her, but the store was hectic and when I turned away to help another customer, she ran out the door. The police were called but they never caught her. (Shocking!)

She messed with the wrong person though because as she was running out the door, clutching our precious toys under her grungy plaid shirt, I yelled to her from the doorway of the store, "Don't think I'm going to forget what you look like!"

And I haven't.

That first incident was way back before last Christmas and she's since come back in the store a few more times. Usually she walks through, sees I'm working, and doesn't stay too long. But this past Monday she returned with two friends in tow. Now here's the thing, we can refuse service to anyone. I have the right and the power to ban her from the store, but I choose not to do that for two reasons:

1. I really like to give people the benefit of the doubt, especially teenagers. (My son has been treated very rudely by store employees for no other reason than that he's a teenage boy and it's totally okay to discriminate against teenage boys. I get it, teenagers can be rude and are a pain in the ass, but you know what, so are a lot of old people and we still have to be nice to them. So unless they directly interfere with business, I do my best to treat teenagers with kindness and the respect I would show any other customer.)

2. Actually banning the girl from the store would involve direct confrontation of the most negative kind, and I really try to avoid that at work. People in all types of jobs have gotten shot over less.

Back to this past Monday. She must have felt empowered with her friends by her side because she hung out in the store a long time. They rode around on our demo scooters and played with our pretend food, with me standing next to them and looking over their shoulders like an annoying child. Then they sat at the construction table and proceeded to build with blocks for at least 15 minutes. There were no other customers in the store so I stood leaning against the counter so that I could see nothing else but them.

But that got so boring and I still had other work I needed to complete before I left for the night. I walked over to construction and said, "Okay kids, I'm going to have to ask you to leave now." They looked up at me and asked why.

To which I wearily replied, "Because at least one of you has stolen from us before and honestly I just don't have the time to stand here and make sure it doesn't happen again."

There was a collective, "Oh, okay" amongst the trio and they left without incident. The weird thing is, I know this gal will be back. She has got to be the nerviest high schooler I have ever met.


(Because I think it needs to be said: Teenagers aren't the only ones who steal. A lot of our thievery issues are with mothers. Mothers with strollers, mothers with teenagers, mothers with a lot of kids, mothers with only one. Thieving assholes come in all shapes, sizes, and ages.)