Sunday, November 27, 2011

Book Review - One Second After by William Forstchen

One Second After by William Forstchen
I love when other people suggest books to me.  A co-worker and I have similar tastes in books so she thought I'd enjoy this one. 

The story opens one second after the US is hit with an EMP wave. It is a story of how one little town, in the Black Hills, survives, battles, and learns to rebuild after this catostrophic event. Little things like medication become a matter of life or death, relationships between neighbors are tested as they fight to defend their town, and young men and women leave their childhood behind.   

This book isn't a heavy read but it is a thought provoking one. 
How would we survive an event like this one and how likely or realistic is an EMP attack?

Could we live a year, or more, without power, phone, radio, etc?  Do we have enough survival gear to survive a winter?   Do we have the skills needed to feed our family, once we ran out of food?    Do we have the skills to survive with the basic necessities of food, shelter, and clothing? 
 Could we protect ourselves from looting and stealing?

It is a fascinating story about survival.
And it made me want to go to Costco to buy food and propane to last a year.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

apple cup

Happy Saturday!  I'm loving the long weekend and I hope you are, too!  It's SO nice to spend time at home, just kicking it with my boys.  I did a load of online Christmas shopping yesterday, Eric and I helped my parents put their tree up (which I'm dying to do at our place but can't until after Eric's birthday), and watched a lot of mindless TV.  While I thought the weekend would include sleeping in, I should have realized that a certain 4 year old would want his mama up to play with him.  So, I'm up early.  Drinking coffee, working on a puzzle, and finishing laundry.  And soon, I'll drag myself to the store to buy a few things for the party, party we're going to tonight.

Because, people, today is APPLE CUP!
Can I hear a WHOOT!  WHOOT!!

Today's the day one of these teams will earn bragging rights for a full year.  Admittedly, neither team is very good but that won't matter come game time.  Somehow, the season always seems to start fresh when it's time for kickoff.  It's going to be a great day...even if I have to spend it surrounded with the dreaded Purple and Gold!


Friday, November 25, 2011

black friday? no thank you!

I had every intent of waking early and shopping Black Friday sales.

And then I remembered how much I hate crowds.

Instead, I'm going to pour myself a cup of coffee, cuddle up on the couch with my laptop, and surf a few websites like these

I've never been disappointed with pricing of toys.  I love to find a good deal on ebay and know I saved money, too!

 Most members in my family create holiday wish lists with Amazon, which makes Christmas shopping SO easy!  Just remember to delete items as you purchase!  Not that I'd mind ending up with two pairs of these bad boys.

For the big guys in your life, I found this sweeet website.  I haven't ordered from here before but I found a few great items that I couldn't pass up for my daddio!

I ran across this website and thought instantly of my darling nieces!  Another sight-unseen purchase but the hairbands are so cute, I don't know if I can resist!

Every holiday season, I'm drawn to this last website.   Maybe you can find the perfect someone who would love one of these necklaces!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Every single day.

Monday, November 21, 2011

i'm still here

things haven't been easy at work lately.

I need...






The long weekend couldn't have come at a better time.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Book Review - Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

I often forget how long it takes me to read a book during the school year.  Mostly because I fall asleep after reading three pages.  However, I ALWAYS trudge through a book to the end.  I can't leave things undone.

In August, a co-worker suggested I read this book.  She's an english teacher, uber-smart, and always spot on with her recommendations.

She didn't let me down.
Meet Oskar Schell. He is nine years old, living in New York in the aftermath of losing his father on September 11th. 


As you can imagine, the book tugges at my heartstrings as this orphaned boy searches for meaning of his life, without his dad.  What makes this book outstanding is the author's writing.  It is all about the voices of the characters.  It is powerful.  It is moving.  It is GOOD.

Admittedly, you have to follow the book closely because it does bounce around.  I can see where some might not enjoy this book, due to how strange and wild the ride can be with Oskar.  Not everyone in my booclub will like this but secretly, that is why I suggested it!  I liked it and the ending was so sweet that everyone should stick it out to the very last page.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

i told you i met a seahawk

Sometimes, there are perks to being the one in charge!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

not everyone is as freaky organized as me

Part of my job this year is working with select students on their planning and organizing skills so they can be more efficient with turning in assignments, writing in their planners, and learning routines that can help them be successful.  It's a long story how this job fell into my lap but truthfully, I like working with kids one-on-one to help them make good choices.  Making a difference is kinda why I got into this job in the first place!

I spend about 20 minutes every other day, with three different students, helping them stay on top of things.  The current plan is to work for a full month, set goals, and re-assess what is/isn't working at the end of the month.  Truthfully, it isn't a ton of work and I'm blown away by the progress and confidence these students are making every time we meet.

I was telling Eric about this facet of my job today and how much I enjoy it.  He listened and then said, "you do realize not everyone is as freaky organized as you, right?" 

WHAT?  Not everyone loves to write down to-do lists?  Not everyone loves to write in a planner?  Not everyone loves binders, dividers, and how pretty an organized notebook looks? 

I'm flabbergasted.

Actually, I jest.  I know all to well not everyone has these skills.  Once upon a time, I worked closely with one young man for two full middle school years on these skills.  Last year, he sent me an email telling me that he was graduating from college, with a 3.8 GPA, and going into business.  When I first met him, I don't know that anyone thought he would have graduated from high school and without learning those skills, he might not have. 

That's the key...

ANYONE can LEARN them.  It is a long road and change doesn't come overnight.   It takes hard work, diligence and patience.  However, change will come and students will start to feel confident and realize the importance of the skills.  In the past week, all three students are caught up in missing assignments AND have turned in all current assignments.  All have written in their planners every day and all have a to-do list.  One told me today that this is the best he has felt all year because he turned in every single assignment.  They know it will take time for grades to improve.  It's a whole lot easier to dig the hole than to climb out of it.  But at least they are moving in the right direction.  All I do is sit across from them, ask what needs to be done, sit there while they do it, and then follow up the next time we meet.  They have to do the hard work.  So far, so good!

So, I know this is a lengthy post and I'll wrap it up.  I'm not writing this to say "oh, look what a great person I am".  I'm writing it because I love when students learn.  I love teaching others.  When it comes to these skills, all I know is they come naturally to me.  It comes from the years when my parents sat all three of us down, starting in middle school, and we had study hour, from 6-8PM at the dinner table.  We had to be organized.  We had to be prepared.  And we had to work.  My brother struggled the most and I watched my mother show infinite patience with him.  I remind myself of that patience when I work with these students.  It doesn't come naturally to them but they can learn.

Thanks, Mom and Dad.  I'm paying it forward.  Just like you taught me.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

time to de-clutter

I pride myself on not being much of a packrat. Yes, I do admit to owning a hope chest, full of high school and college momentos.  Yes, I do admit to owning three plastic bins, filled with Alexander's clothing.  Yes, I do admit to owning five bins filled with Christmas decorations.
But there are times when enough is enough!

Lately, the disaster known as Alexander's closet has been bugging me.  It all started when I came across this lovely item in a catalog.

I decided right then and there, I had to have it.  I knew it would be perfect for organizing my mess!  

This is one of THREE boxes that had gotten out of control.  A few weeks ago, Eric moved Alexander's clothing to a lower rack so Alexander can pick out his own shirts.  We love the independence this gives our little man.  However, it also meant that I could now see more and more of the crap items.

So, this morning I went to task.  I pulled the boxes out and started sorting the items into piles.  I knew most of the stuff was old cards and Holiday pictures.  I had just never taken the time to sort it all out.
Time to sort!

The recycling pile kept growing by the minute!
Turns out I'm a holiday card junkie.  I just love them.  And it seems I have kept everyone of them, along with baby announcements, since 2005.  Once I had all of those sorted out, I put them into piles.

With each pile, I added our Christmas card from the year, too.  Apparently, there is a small part of me that thinks I'll actually scrapbook again.  I sure hope that small part of me figures out when I'm going to find the time!

Finally, after I had looked through every card, sorted way too many piles, and put together my cute little organizer box, I had a final product!
The bag is filled with cards from my baby showers and cards sent after Alexander was born.  For some reason, I can't part with these cards so I'm going to buy another organizational box for THAT crap stuff and put them in my hope chest...if I can make room for it.

Finally, the closet was put back together.  It looks just a little bit better if you ask me! 

In case you are wondering, the Pull Ups box is filled with gift bags.  Unless someone has a better suggestion, I think I'm going to buy a skinny plastic bin (the kind you use for wrapping paper) and put them in there, along with the rolls of wrapping paper that are behind it.  I had a skinny bin for that crap stuff but that is being filled with Alexander's projects from school. 
No, I don't keep every project.
Just my favorites.
For the hope chest.

Book Review - State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

I have to admit, I was not very excited to read this book.  Since I hadn't enjoyed the first book by Ann Patchett (Bel Canto), I couldn't imagine how I would be able to like a second book by her.  However, I kept my opinion to myself and went along with the book club decision to read this one.

I had a hard time convincing myself to open the book.  If I knew I wasn't going to enjoy it, why bother reading it?  I would read a few pages, fall asleep, put it down for a few days, pick it back up again and repeat the pattern.  It is only because I didn't want to let my book club crew down that I kept going (even though only a few of us ended up reading it!)

But then came the day when I could read more than a few pages at a time and I fell in love with the story.  So, if you find yourself wanting to put it down, kept at it.  It's worth it. 

A young woman experiences the adventure of a lifetime in the Amazon jungle, searching for the answers to the death of her co-worker and scientific research for the pharmacutical company she works for.  This is a captivating book that meshes personal with professional responsibilities. I really enjoyed how the author placed the main character into situations simply to see what she is made of.   I believe in pushing people so they learn resilience and grit so finding that theme interwoven into a book was fantastic. 

It's a good book that is worth reading.  Not a summer vacation book but more of a long weekend type of book.  If you have the chance, pick it up. 

P.S.  Mari, from now on, I'll post my reviews before book club just for you! 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

jo-jo's big news

 Sometimes, my kid says some funny stuff.  And that funny stuff becomes blog worthy.  For example:

Alexander: "Mommy, do you think Jo-Jo and Zak wrote their letters to Santa, yet?"
Mommy: "I don't know.  Why do they need to do that, Alexander?"
Alexander:  "Well, Mommy.  Last year, Santa didn't know where to send their presents so they didn't have as many presents as me to open up.  This year, they should tell him REALLY early so they get their presents at our house."
Mommy:  "What if Zak and Jo-Jo don't stay with us on Christmas Eve this year?
Alexander:  "Don't be ridiculous, Mommy.  They love me.  They will."

Naturally, this story made me laugh.  And made me think of Jo-Jo.  My favorite.

And THEN I realized I hadn't written about Jo-Jo and Zak's BIG NEWS!


Zak proposed the night Jodie arrived home from our Vegas extravaganza. Oh boy!  Oh boy!  Oh boy!!

The wedding is in August.  And you can bet these faces will be grinning and taking a WHOLE lot of photos!
It's kinda what we do.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

15 things you don't know about me

I admittedly stole this post idea from Heather over at Live.Love.Laugh.  Check it out. 

15 things you don't know about me...or maybe you do.

1.  I don't eat anything that has a pit in the middle of it.  *shudder*

2.  At the end of every work day, all papers on my desk have to be in a pile and the pile has to be as straight as the edge of the desk.

3.  When I need to de-stress, I clean.  Everything.

4.  I love to play music REALLY loud when I drive. 

5.  When I want something immediately like a new skirt or a Halloween costume, I will obsess and drive to as many stores as it takes to find it THAT day.

6.  I used to be thousands of dollars in debt until Eric told me he wouldn't marry me until I cleared it.  Took me less than a year to clear it.

7.  After a summer of working in Alaska, I came home, weighing as much as a polar bear.  Well, not really.  More like a teen polar bear.

8.  I changed my major in college 7 times.

9.  I have recieved three tickets - one for blowing through a stop sign, two for speeding.  All three occurred when my mind was pre-occupied by a tragedy or worry.  I didn't fight any of the tickets.  Nor do I think I should have gotten them but that's another story...

10.  I knew the night of our first date that I would marry and spend the rest of my life with Eric. 

11.  I once had a total breakdown watching Battlestar Galactica.  The cyborg could get pregnant but I couldn't.  Needless to say, I was a little emotional during the infertility phase of life.

12.  Seven years ago, I joined a pregnancy forum and became close friends with six women.  I have only met two of them, have never been in the same place with all of them, but love them as dearly as my friends who I see and talk to all the time.  They were my lifeline during that somewhat emotional infertile time in my life.

13.  I often make fun of people when I shouldn't.  It isn't nice.  It doesn't make me a better person.  But I love to do it, even if the thoughts stay in my head.

14.  I don't like to miss out on a social event, knowing others are having fun without me.

15.  I'm 7 lbs over my pre-pregnancy weight and most days, I don't care if I lose them or not.