Friday, July 31, 2009

need to dry out

The storm arrived as predicted last night just after supper. The middle kid and I whipped up a meal, her special shrimp dish, as fast as we could just in case the power went out. Best to face a storm on a full stomach.

The rain came, the thunder rolled, the lightening struck. I unplugged my laptop from the wall and ran on batteries as miraculously, the cable/internet was still working. I looked up and out my kitchen window and realized that either I was having serious vision problems or a lake was forming in my back yard. We have a huge storm water drain in the corner of our yard as our subdivision was built in a low area. Water wants to return to its former stomping, or in this case, puddling grounds. Yes, a lake had formed and was creeping closer and closer to the patio. It was over ankle deep in spots. Soccer balls and other toys floated around the yard. The water actually was deep enough to ripple in the wind. Scary.

But not as bad as what caused the water to collect in my yard. You see, the drainage creek that runs behind a row of houses along one of the main streets in our subdivision had burst its banks and was pouring in a flood between homes, into the street and was mid-calf deep in short order. Folks were out taking photos. Long time residents shook their heads and remarked they'd never seen it this bad. A few houses had the creek water come inside....I expect to see repair trucks over the weekend.

After a week of rain almost every day, this last storm was just more than the drains could handle. I guess the Wolf River had risen over the big bridge and was a foot deep on top of the pavement. The storm did tornado damage northwest of us and tore off part of a Kohl's dept store as well as damaging other businesses and homes.

We were lucky it was just water and not worse.

I've never seen a flash flood in person, but the mini one I witnessed last night was enough to give me the real good idea of how fast and dangerous they are.

The sun is peaking out today and I hope we have a chance to dry out now.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

way too early to hear voices

I'm sitting in my kitchen and can already hear the two little boys upstairs chatting away. It isn't even 6:00 yet!!

Ahhh, the summer sleepover. The girls went next door to hang out with their friend for the night; popcorn, hot cocoa and a movie were on their agenda. I'm treasuring these summer nights when they are close at hand and not driving around town and out of our line of vision. In the meantime, the youngest had his friend from next door over for the night. They watched TV and played Wii. Luckily they didn't restart their Rockband competition as neither boy can sing and listening to them all afternoon was quite enough.

Looks like another rainy day and I may try and postpone my big grocery shop. Need to look at the radar and see if we will get a break at all today.

Speaking of voices, I will be off to the library this morning for the book sort and then off to the coffee shop to chat about the book sorting process. A bit of mediation is going to be required as we are the victims of our own success. We have some problems and while they are good problems to have, nothing is ever simple when it comes to dealing with the library of late. Cool heads and calm logic need to be employed; I hope we are all up to the task. All parties need to be involved in the discussion so that all parties have a stake in the process and ownership of the solution.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

banana bread

Yesterday on my facebook page, I posted a comment about banana bread. I've been cleaning out the freezer and cooking with what we have on hand this week. I noticed I'd frozen five, over-ripe bananas a while back and decided to bake some bread. The middle kid and I worked together as I doubled the recipe; I mixed and she measured. When we got to the baking powder, we didn't have enough. So, I sent her over to the neighbors to 'borrow' some. Shortly there after the phone rang as my neighbor, quite an amazing baker, realized there was no way I needed 4 teaspoons of baking soda as the kid was requesting. I confirmed, I didn't want soda I wanted powder.

Kid made it back with the right stuff and the two loaves turned out beautifully and tasted even better. Of course, they weren't all gone by yesterday morning, even though we tried our best to devour them fresh out of the oven and slathered with butter!

Back to facebook......banana bread must be a comfort food for many and my banana bread has apparently made quite an impression on the twin sons of a friend. I took them two loaves one time when I flew out to California to see them and they've never forgotten. I gave their mom the recipe, but she's not a baker and said she is doomed when she attempts to produce the recipe. It really isn't a hard recipe, but perhaps like many thing, you get good at what you observe growing up. I saw lots of baking at my house and my grandmothers' homes. I don't bake as nearly as much as they did, but I guess I still have the knack.

Banana Bread
1 3/4 c flour
2 t. baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/3 c shortening
2/3 c sugar
2 eggs, well beaten
1 c bananas mashed

Cream shortening, sugar and eggs. Beat Well. Add dry ingredients alternately with banana. Bake at 350 in greased loaf pan for approx. 1 hour or until done. You can mix into the batter choc. chips or chopped nuts if you wish.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

creature of habit

I'm such a creature of habit and somedays it just isn't a comforting thought. I don't think my routines rise to the level of OCD, but at times I wonder if they have a "pre, almost there, one catastrophe away-OCD" diagnosis.

I like everyone and everything in its place. When I get up in the morning, I make the coffee first then go to see if the paper has arrived. The dog even knows the drill. If it isn't there, he knows to go to the back door to be let outside. I like the paper delivered no later than 6:00 am and if it isn't, I start to feel a bit out of sorts. I do my computer stuff first, then read the paper, then back to the computer. If someone else dares to fall out of bed and occupy the early morning hours with me, well, let's just say, that isn't always welcome. I enjoy that hour of solitude and guard it with a scowl, growl or well aimed stare suggesting they return to bed and try again later.

Now that being said, I'm really not looking forward to the routine involved with the beginning of school. I will have two heading off to high school in a few days. Not sure if any of us are ready for the battle of the bathroom. I think I might have to encourage a summit of the two teenagers where they can hash out a schedule for using the shower, the flat iron etc.

Hilary Clinton has nothing on me when it comes to negotiations with foreign countries or as I call them, teenaged girls. In fact, she might have the easier job, because you see, I've mothered one daughter who isn't a creature of habit and one who is worse than I am. The later one is already stressing about what to wear the first day of school. Her grand debut into high school life must provide a fashion high note for all around her.

Perhaps I've met my match.

Monday, July 27, 2009

reading away

At some point in most of the mega authors writing lives, they pen the 'breakout book' which propels them into super-stardom. This means that their backlist titles will eventually become republished now that their name equates big dollars for the publisher. I read two of Janet Evanovich's backlist titles last week. These light romances, "Thanksgiving" and "Naughty Neighbor" were first published by Loveswept in her pre-Plum days. Both were very fun reads and you can witness the creation of the 'voice' which reached full development in the Plum series and propelled Evanovich into a huge best selling author. Yes, they all started somewhere and an amazing amout of female authors started in what is called category romance.

Currently I'm reading a YA book, "The Geek Girl's Guide to Cheerleading." When I picked it out of the donation pile and read the back cover, I knew I'd come across this story before. I have a very strong suspicion that I judged an incarnation of this story while I was a contest coordinator with a RWA group in Memphis. Very fun for me to enjoy this novel now and to remember the first 30 pages that were submitted to the contest years ago. Wish I still had copies of the score sheets to confirm my suspicion and to see how I scored it! I think it was a finalist.

Rain in the forecast all week long. Lighter soccer week ahead as the friendly scrimmages planned for the evenings have now been called off due to TSSAA regulations. The oldest two need to complete their summer English work and the youngest has to finish his online math camp work. As for me, well, my to be read pile is finally almost cleared out, so I guess I will need to find something to keep myself entertained.

Friday, July 24, 2009

school looms dead ahead

I spent a good portion of my day and a good portion of my checkbook balance yesterday at Wal Mart and Target purchasing school supplies for the three kiddoes. Ugh.

I truly think the back to school supply lists have become a sneaky torture device created by school administrators in conjunction with the paper industry and the big box retailers. I mean, come on folks, black dual pocket prong folders just don't grow on trees, or at least not in my fair town. And that is not to mention wide rule, 70 count purple notebooks.

In the aisles of Target yesterday, you could almost cut the frustration with a knife as moms, some with kids in tow (I leave mine at home), try and find the elusive pink marble composition books. Seriously, one year I didn't buy enough marble covered composition books and had to have my parents, all the way on the other side of our state, buy them and ship them to me!

Then of course, once all listed items are hunted down, purchased and hauled to school, the kids will come home with a list of extra things they 'must' have and return things that were itemized on the original list that they now don't need.

Want to know what I went to my K-8 Catholic grade school with? One trapper keeper, a few black pens and a few pencils. Yep, that was it. No bandaids, no Purell, no paper towels, no low odor dry erase markers, no oil pastels, no rainbow inspired selection of notebooks and folders.

Apparently my education suffered because I didn't have three varieties of markers, plus crayons plus colored pencils. Never realized I was so disadvantaged. That must be why I didn't turn out to be a great 'arteeeest.'

Stepping off the soapbox now and taking the dog for a walk.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

the wide variety in YA fiction

I've read three YA books over the past ten days and have been treated to a total smorgasboard of plots, themes and characters.

The 'Nightworld' mega book featured paranormal stories about a variety of teens. The "Princess Ben" novel was a fairy tale featuring teens. "Gossip Girl" is a soap opera, oops, novel featuring rich upper east side New York teens.

The only thing they had in common was the fact teenaged characters populated the pages.

Now, that being stated, I also have to state that YA books cover the grades from 6 through 12 and these books represent that very wide spread in ages and maturity levels. "Gossip Girl" with its drinking, sex, profanity and drug use is most definitely not a book for the vast majority of 6th graders. The back cover actually has an age recommendation of 15 and older. "Nightworld" tackles tough topics, but was a more tame read. "Princess Ben" could be read and enjoyed by the whole YA audience range.

Of course the quality of the writing is a whole other topic well beyond content. Don't think I will be wasting my time with any more Gossip Girl books, but I will eagerly search out more by Nightworld writer L.J. Smith. I still admire the skill of "Princess Ben" author Catherine Gilbert Murdock and her book "The Dairy Queen" is an excellent read.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

why the big three networks stink

Okay, would you rather spend a rainy summer evening watching some schlocky reality TV show or would you rather watch a 'real' TV show which has paid writers and actors to perform their creative miracles for the small screen?

I vote for the later. I realized yesterday afternoon, after I returned from all of our errands and the final 3 hour soccer practice was called due to torrential rain, that all of the dramas I enjoy watching are not on ABC, NBC or CBS. I'm so over the whole CSI thing. I'm way beyond the Law & Order thing. So when I couldn't read another word in a book....bit of a headache due to the weather I'm guessing, I turned on the TV and snuggled into the comfy chair.

Bring on HBO. Bring on USA. Bring on BBC America. Bring on the newly renamed SyFy. I was such a happy girl using the OnDemand service to catch up on the excellent one hour dramas they offer. I watched Royal Pains, Burn Notice, Torchwood, Warehouse 13 and of course True Blood. Earlier in the week I discovered Lifetime's new series Drop Dead Diva. Fun show with an actual solid message about body image and society.

Thank goodness for cable TV on a rainy afternoon. Guess I will stop complaining about the Comcast bill, it was worth every penny yesterday.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

and these are the days of our lives

It is a good thing I like driving my Honda Odyssey. I made so many trips around town yesterday, I felt odd when I finally stayed home for the day at 2:15. But, I managed to get the girls where they needed to be and to keep all the 'plates' spinning. Nothing dropped, as far as I know. Today and tomorrow bring more of the same, lots of back and forth to the high school.

I finished the Lauren Willig book. Not sure if it was me being a bit distracted with soccer or if it was the book, but I skimmed a good portion of it and just wasn't mesmerized by the tale. So, I'm not going to 'review' it as I so enjoyed the other titles in this series and I have a strong feeling the problem lies with me and not the novel.

I also read a jumbo version of L.J. Smith's Nightworld novels. These three titles in one huge book were very interesting to read as they were first published in the 80's and bore striking similarities to the Meyer books. Hmmmmm. L.J. Smith has written for the YA audience for a while and her Vampire Diaries books are being made into a TV series, much like the Gossip Girl books have been brought to the small screen. I wish her much success. She is clearly one of the early YA writers who paved the way for so many others to follow.

Now I'm reading the YA title "Princess Ben" by Catherine Gilbert Murdock. Murdock wrote the "Dairy Queen" and "The Off Season." I adored both of those books and am finding Princess Ben a good read. This novel focuses on body image, perhaps more than is necessary, but Murdock does write strong female characters in a very refreshing way.

Speaking of strong female characters, the middle kid opted out of giving high school soccer a whirl and was planning on sitting for the fall season. That all changed yesterday. She got an email from a coach looking to roster a few more girls on his co-ed team. Yep, she will be playing with the boys this fall....

So, that is it. See ya on the road.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Harry, Harry, Harry

The whole family made it to the 8:00 showing of "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince." By now, as we are all treated to film number six, these movies have become a bit of 'comfort food' for the brain and eyes when they hit the screen. Hogwarts etc. is such a part of our pop culture that as the opening scene unfolded, it was a bit like going home after being away for an extended period of time.

This movie is a linking piece and a set-up device for the grand finale. Rumors are already swirling that the final book will be made into two movies to allow for a more faithful adaptation to the big screen. They don't want to leave anything out...and hey, two movies means more money.

I purposefully don't reread the book until after I've seen the movie. That way I can forget key things and be surprised and likewise I won't be disappointed if some favored plot point is discarded in the film adaptation.

Everyone left the theater with a smile and the car ride home was filled with chatter about the movie and what is to come. A friend posted to me on facebook that the film left you wanting more...she was right.

In other news.....the oldest made her high school soccer team. We were thrilled and elated and then realized that her good friend and fellow keeper was cut. Bittersweet and as there is more history/drama with these young ladies and their club teams, a very interesting turn of events. The oldest knows she has her work cut out for her and that every time she puts on those gloves she has to give everything she has and then find a little more.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

thank goodness

I finally finished that rather lengthy book I was reading....what a relief. "Brisingr" isn't a book for the faint of heart to read. I feel like I scaled a mountain. I'm not even going to bother posting a review because it just isn't worth the effort.

Finishing allowed me to start the latest Lauren Willig novel, which I'm already enjoying and looking forward to reading more of today.

Orthodontist appointment early today for the middle kid. No soccer for the oldest kid as the fields are too wet from the rain we had yesterday. The youngest kid is doing daily science experiments....when he and his dad cleaned his bedroom on Sunday, he found all of these science kits he'd 'lost' in the clutter. Now I have bacteria specimens growing in petri dishes in my pantry.

Never a dull moment in this house.

Monday, July 13, 2009

come on already

I kept hearing thunder off and on during the wee hours this morning and it is now darker outside than it was 45 minutes ago when I first got out of bed.

Hey, Mother Nature, if you are going unleash the rain, let's get on with it!

On other fronts, no I didn't finish "Brisingr" even though I skipped over huge sections in the pages I did manage to read yesterday. Ugh. Will this book ever end??

The girls and I all went to the salon and had haircuts on Saturday morning. Hefty bill to pay, but we all look good. On Sunday hubby asked us to take the gifts to the altar as he was the usher in charge of finding a family to do that...he said all he could think about was how nice our hair cuts looked as we walked down the center aisle! Funny:)

Soccer and reading up for the girls this week. I really need to make a trip to the store and get more than just a couple of things to tide us over. The big shopping trip needs to happen this week as well...Aldi's and Costco. I can't wait until we have our own Aldi's here in town and they are also making excellent progress on our new Big Lots. nirvana, retail therapy...whatever you want to call it.

Mother Nature didn't like my snarky attitude and impatience, she is all about the rolling thunder right now...I better duck and cover.

Friday, July 10, 2009

friday recap

This week flew! Sort of like the baby mockingbirds we've enjoyed watching. The two who were lingering around the patio seemed to have made it into the tree tops at this point, only coming back 'home' at night.

Still reading "Brisingr" but I have high hopes of finally finishing the book either today or tomorrow.

Didn't make it to the concert on the Square last night as the oldest needed to go and talk with her soccer club coach. Her last day of high school conditioning is today...tryouts next week and then the real fun begins!

Going to be a hot one today, I think the paper said a high of 98. Whew.

We will have an extra four legged beastie staying with us for the next 10 days. He is a good boy and the two doggies enjoy each other's company.

Enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, July 9, 2009


The oldest finished her conditioning session yesterday morning, climbed in the van and proceeded to yack away. I have to say those two hour workouts have provided some unexpected entertainment. She relays stories about the various girls she is conditioning with...all I can say is those poor freshman! Although if she is even half correct, it sounds like some of those 9th grade girls needed their tiaras knocked off a bit. Perfect job for the upper classman....

It is hard to go from top of the heap to the bottom of the pile.

Got an email from a Friend letting me know that yet another one of the stalwart library workers is leaving for greener pastures. Ugh. Their turnover rate is bordering on the embarrassing. They now have 5 job openings. FIVE! I blame it on a combination of things. Low pay. Weekend work required. Ever changing job requirements. In a down economy I'm sure they will fill the jobs, but I doubt those five new folks will see their one year anniversary. It just doesn't happen there. Sad.

I'm still trudging through "Brisingr." The moments of good story telling are sporadic, but I am determined to see it through. I checked out some new books from the library yesterday to serve as my reward for finishing the Paolini novel.

Also checked out a couple of movies.....the third Underworld flick and 21, about the card counting MIT kids. Better get some popcorn!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

outside my window

The flower bed outside my kitchen windows has been sorely neglected over the past couple of weeks. I had a vigilant mama mockingbird nesting in the crepe myrtle tree that stands in the middle of the flower bed. She'd raise a real fuss if I lingered under her home for more than a minute.

Her eggs hatched and three babies made it out of the nest. One baby high tailed it for the back fence and we've not seen it since. I hope it hopped through to the neighbors yard, but I fear that maybe the circle of life claimed the small fuzzy hatchling. The other two have decided to stick closer to home and have been living in the flower beds that frame the back porch area. Mama bird keeps flying in to check on them. I'm not sure if she is still feeding them, but she is still keeping tabs on these two babies.

Our dog was quite intrigued by one who didn't dart back into the monkey grass quick enough. Luckily I was watching and realized what was going on so I was able to call him off and he came over right away with a very confused look on his face! "Mom, what was that thing?" I can hear one chirping right now.

Monday, July 6, 2009

new week

Summer is officially half over now. After the 4th of July, it is the downward slope to that first week of school. Bummer.

I didn't do any reading over the weekend except the newspaper. Just couldn't get back into "Brisingr"....the house was too busy for me to concentrate and focus. This just isn't a very good book, but I'm so stubborn that I will plod along with it until I finish.

The oldest begins her soccer season at 8:30 this morning; so that means I get to begin the twice daily drives to the fields. Next year she can drive herself...and that is unbelievably scary to me.

Happy Monday.

Friday, July 3, 2009

friday recap

Oops, didn't even realize I didn't blog yesterday until this morning. Things happen when you are out of the normal routine!

Swimming lessons are almost finished for the week, the big finale showcase is today.
Pre-pre-soccer season conditioning is over.
Went to our first ever town farmer's market yesterday and brought home some delicious veggies and fruit.
Had a good time doing our Thursday morning sorting, stocking at the bookstore.
Read a little more in "Brinsingr" and have decided I will finish the book.
Ready for the big three day weekend.

Happy 4th of July!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

small world

The wonder of the Internet was brought home to me again yesterday. I sat down for a moment while cooking supper and looked at my emails. I had a facebook notice from a young lady asking whether or not I was the "liz" who was pen pals with her mum.

Back in the 70's there was a TV show called "Big Blue Marble." You could write into the show, yes, write on paper and then post the letter via the USPS, to obtain the name of a potential pen pal from overseas. I requested a pal in England and that is how my correspondence with Donna began. We wrote letters back and forth for years until, when I graduated from college, I was able to afford a trip to England. I hopped a train in London and traveled out to Hertsfordshire and met her and her two daughters, toddlers at the time. While I was there we spent a wonderful couple of days together, chatting and drinking LOTS of tea. Her parents and sisters came over one night and picked my brain about all things American.

Once I came back, we exchanged a few more letters and I learned she was engaged. She was divorced and a single mum when we met in person on my trip. She was now expecting a third child. The letters came further apart until they stopped all intervenes at times.

So, having Donna's daughter, the youngest of her three, contact me was sort of a miracle. Donna had been thinking of me too and had tried to find me several times. On a lark she had her daughter look for me on facebook and voila....Twenty years have melted away thanks to technology.

We've exchanged lengthy emails already and I hope that we can resume our long distance friendship.