Monday, August 31, 2009

lots of everything week

This week is going to be jam packed with bookstore and Friends obligations, soccer games and practices, pantry restocking trips and a few other things.

Good thing "Dreamfever" arrived at the library the day after I put a hold on it. Knowing this is the latest book in the series and I will have to wait a whole year for the 5th and final book, I stretched reading it to over two days. Loved. Every. Word. And what a cliffhanger ending. Wowsa! Karen Marie Moning keeps getting better and better.

Watched the second to the final episode for this season of True Blood. Okay, so I wasn't thrilled with how Alan Ball brought Sophie Anne to the screen...the actress looks a bit too old and while she is clearly powerful and knowledgeable, she almost seems to be too flighty to be the Queen of Louisiana. I think I like the book version much better than the TV version. Of course, now we have to wait two whole weeks for the season finale. Bummer!

Soccer game for tonight was called off, but the oldest has games Tuesday and Wednesday. Middle kid has a game Wednesday. Throw in a few practices here and there and it adds up to lots of field time for all of us.

Plus, the beginning of the month is always busy with the Friends, the bookstore and the Library.

Better get my running shoes on!

Friday, August 28, 2009


I read two books yesterday. Yes, two of them. Once we finished stocking the store and dealing with the donations from this past week, I scanned the shelves and the online catalog for the next two Karen Marie Moning titles in her Fever series. I came away with "Bloodfever" and "Faefever." The later one I had to dig for in the work room as it was waiting to be shelved in the stacks. But, I found it!!

I devoured those books. Nothing else got done. Good thing I had planned on sandwiches for dinner and those are self serve, no cooking required by me. Good thing I cleaned earlier in the week.

I read from 11:00 until 8:00 last night......had a few interruptions, but mainly I immersed myself in Mac's world and loved every minute of it.

What a great escape. Can't wait to get my hands on the next title "Dreamfever"....I put a hold on it at the library, should be mine within the next ten days. Not sure if I can wait that long!

My folks arrived in Florida and I will get my mom's take on my grandma's condition at some point today. My uncle had arrived earlier and had already seen her, he felt the nurses didn't quite explain just how bad off she is. But, he saw her just a few weeks ago after she had the car accident and her current condition compared to then sounds to be drastically changed.

Glad the weekend is ahead.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

seeing things in a different way

It is human nature. When we get close to a person, a project, a situation we can lose our objectivity and see things through a very narrow lens that filters reality based upon our experiences and opinions.

As I'm winding down my time with the bookstore. Meetings are starting to happen between the new gals and all of the 'interested' parties. Change is in the air and people sense it and start to get a tad bit nervous. I'll be glad when things are finalized and I can truly step out of the picture. It is difficult to be in charge and begin to let go all at the same time.

We all want a smooth transition and I believe we will have one amongst the three of is all the other players that need coaxing along. My way will not always be their way and that does not mean either way is correct or incorrect. It only means that it is different.

I read another one of Shirley Damsgaard's Abby and Ophelia mysteries yesterday. I needed a major diversion from reality and the book served that purpose. I didn't get much of anything done other than making phone calls, reading and watching some very mindless daytime television.

My parents are now on their way to Florida to be with my mom's mother. My grandma is in ICU right now and seems to have suffered a stroke. I was able to speak with her yesterday afternoon, much to my relief. With the loss of my dad's mom this past January and now the rapidly declining health of my other grandma, I spent a lot of time yesterday thinking back on my relationships with these two women and their lives and the impact their lives had on me. I see things in a different way now than I did even ten years ago. Aging does that. It tinkers with those lenses and filters and sometimes brings things into a sharper image while blurring other pictures and memories.

I'm anxious for my parents to arrive there and to be on hand for her. We don't know what the next few days will bring, but our realities will shift and some things will become clear and others more muddied. It will be different and change is hard.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

open house nite

Hubby and I navigated the high school open house last night. He learned the freshman class is the biggest with over 540 students. The total enrollment is the smallest they've recently had at 1980 students.

I learned I wouldn't be able to survive those hallways between classes. I also learned that some teachers, have really nice, spacious classrooms and others have broom closets masquerading as classrooms.

We think our daughters are in great hands. The majority of both sets of teachers are very experienced. The Honors Alg II gal has been teaching for 26 years, dept. head for 24. She has an Einstein action figure doll in her classroom! I think that between both kids, only one teacher is a brand new, fresh out of college professional....and she seemed to be extremely prepared.

Both kids will take the ACT this fall, the first time for one and the second time for the other. We need a baseline number to start with so they can take advantage of all the tutoring classes available to get the best score they can possibly get. Thirty is the magic number for admissions and scholarship money.

It was a good night. I know I wouldn't want to be back in high school, but it seems like the kids have good teachers this year and that can make all the difference.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

what is old is new again

Several years back when I first began to dabble with fiction writing, I submitted an essay to a now defunct newsletter/magazine published by Mary Englebreit. It was published, I was paid (whee) and all was well in my world. Around that same time I was working on writing a time-travel romance novel. Part of learning how to craft a book is reading all of the books you can in the same genre. I picked up a romance by Karen Marie Moning and dove into her "Highlander" series. I loved it. I emailed her....and she wrote back. We exchanged several notes and she was very sweet and helpful to this novice would-be novelist....even if she graduated from Purdue and I graduated from IU.

Since then she has gone on to publish several more books. I've read all of her Highlander series, but for some reason never picked up her "Fever" books when they first came out. Last week, I found the first one in that series and brought it home. Awesome read and I will be hunting down the other titles in this series.

I found her website; wow, money and credentials sure can jazz up an online presences, neat site. She now has an assistant to answer her email....yep, she's a MAJOR author now with the "Fever" books even being optioned by Hollywood.

I'd love to send her a note, but in the eight years since we first emailed, I'm sure she's had a gazillion fans write to her and what is a special memory for me may be long forgotten by her. She was one of the first to congratulate me on my essay's publication and shared with me how when her first book was published she actually licked the cover!

I'm so happy she has done so well and obviously has the staying power that some authors never achieve.

Well done, Karen...from your fellow Hoosier.

Monday, August 24, 2009

what a cool breeze can do

We had a very busy weekend with the girls refereeing a slew of tournament games at our local parks. Then hubby and I had to put in four hours each of volunteer time for the girls' competitive soccer club. We knocked that out early on Sunday morning by selling tee shirts at one of the venues.

I've never seen so many smiling faces and just plain, happy looks on people. The weather this weekend was perfect, sunny, breezy and comfortable. The mornings have been cool with little humidity. The evenings are comfortable as well. We are having perfect patio weather and hubby and I looked at each other and remarked, this is mid August in the midsouth, right?!

It is just easier to get things done when the weather is this pleasant. Even if the thing getting done is sitting in a comfy lawn chair and reading a book!

Friday, August 21, 2009

uh huh, that's right, who's the girl?!

Woot. Whee. Wahooo.

Had my second 'soccer' article appear in a local paper. The editor patched together three press releases and made one huge article and ran that along with two photos. It turned out well and looked good.

So that is two articles I've managed to place and the season hasn't even started yet. I'm happy. Nothing quite like a byline to get my feet dancing in the kitchen.

It has been a good week. Had a great meeting with the gals who will be taking on the bookstore when my time is up on October 1. Had a good time sorting donations and putting together a sale cart for the store, which then resulted in booming sales for the store and many happy readers. The happy readers makes me smile, it is a good thing to keep readers reading.

Today I think I will just go out and bum around town; we have a brand new Big Lots store to explore and I may treat myself to a fancy coffee drink and cookie down at our town square.

We have a busy soccer filled weekend ahead, so today is going to serve as my Saturday and Sunday; a day for rest, relaxation and fun.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

my disappearing tbr pile

TBR pile: to be read pile

Now that we have that out of the way, I cut through Lilith Saintcrow's "Redemption Alley" like the proverbial hot knife through butter. Saintcrow's writing style is best described as, take no prisoners. She isn't afraid of getting her characters dirty, gritty, bloody and puts you on the edge of your seat with rollercoaster plots. Jill Kismet is the heroine of this series and she is a Hunter....which means she is a Church and Law Enforcement sanctioned killer of all the monsters that roam the streets. She is very effective and due to a deal she made with a denizen of Hell, she heals up from every amazing injury she endures in her efforts to keep the Nightside from taking over her town. Not for the faint of heart, Saintcrow's books are fine urban fantasy/horror/sci-fi reads.

On a totally different note, I finished the last Miss Julia book I had stashed away. "Miss Julia Hits the Road" was a delightful read and if picturing a 60 something Southern Lady on the back of a Harley doesn't bring a grin to your face, not much will. I've enjoyed the first four books in this series and plan on reading the rest of the Miss Julia stories.

I now need to finish "Face Down Beside St. Anne's Well," by Kathy Lynn Emerson. These historical mysteries about Lady Susanna Appleton are fun to read; good plot, good characters and I always learn something about Elizabethan times.

Once I finish the Emerson book, my TBR pile will be wiped out.....but, never fear, I'm off to the library again today to see what came in as donations and to scan the shelves for my next 'victims.'

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

the most important lessons in high school

I don't know why I find it so amazing to see my oldest two learn the true lessons of high school. Maybe because they are becoming so much more aware of the impact of their decisions and their choices.

But all those lessons and choices really come down to one word: Balance.

The happiest people I know are the ones who have balance in their lives. They devote time to work and to play, to family and to friends, to responsibilities and to slacking off. If you procrastinate on a project or studying, the stress levels rise dramatically as your deadline looms.
It is far better to work on little bits of any subject each day than to try and cram weeks worth of new material in your brain the night before a test. Sure, it is fun to laze around on the couch all weekend, but then come Monday morning school begins again and that Chemistry test on Tuesday seems like a request to climb Mt. Everest. If only a few moments had been spent over the weekend reviewing that periodic chart....hmmmm.

Sometimes we have to dictate to them: GO AND STUDY.
Other times I ask them what they have going on over the next couple of days and point out how doing half the vocabulary today will lesson their load so they can do X, Y and Z tomorrow.

Time management skills are priceless and I hope they can get a grasp on that over the next couple of years. Of course, it ties back into the concept of balance.

The most important lessons in high school may not be found between the covers of a text book.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

we interrupt our regularly scheduled....

I ventured into Wally-world yesterday to buy the dog a bag of food. His Iams has been getting steadily more expensive at Target and Schnucks, so when I learned that 'the store that shall not be named' carried it, I bit the bullet and hauled myself over there.

Of course, being the efficient person I am, I decided I would be a big girl and get the few other things I needed beyond the dog food. I could do it, I had the will and the brains to outsmart 'the store.'

I managed to find all the items on my list; nothing worse than shopping for groceries in an unfamiliar layout. Sometimes things just aren't where they should be and you wonder at the logic abilities of those folks who make a living deciding where products should be placed. For example, why wasn't the Velveeta by the other cheeses and dairy products? Who would put it in the middle of an aisle filled with non dairy things? Ugh.

Once I got the last thing on my list, I headed back across the store to find an open cashier, grumble, grumble, grumble...I had already had my morning walk and it seemed like I was going to be treated to another one in order to pay for my purchases and exit the building. Along the way I passed the book aisle.

Evil book aisle. Lo and behold they actually stock some decent sci-fi, urban fantasy titles. I found the latest release by Lilith Saintcrow, "Redemption Alley." Of course, the price was such that I tossed it into the cart. I deserved a reward for successfully navigating 'the store' and tried to ignore the fact that the money I saved on the dog food was now going to pay for the paperback book I had to buy.

I guess those folks who decide where products go may know something about human nature after all. Because after you spend a chunk of time trying to get all the groceries on your list, you feel you deserve a reward and a shiny new paperback book priced at under $6 was just the thing to put a smile back on my face.

So, after I wrote all of my press releases, outlined the store manager's job for the bookstore, did a load of laundry and got dinner ready, I stopped reading Miss Julia and started reading all about Jill Kismet and her latest adventures keeping the streets of Santa Luz clean of hellbreed, scurf and other creatures from the nightside.

Go figure.

Monday, August 17, 2009

week two

The second week of school gets underway this morning. The fun of last week now needs to give way to some serious studying for the kids and some serious work for me.

I put off working on the job list for the bookstore and now have to knock that out today. I also need to write up and distribute all the publicity for the soccer team's first ever golf outing. The outing itself is less than a month away, and I wish I would have received the info a few weeks ago.

I read a book by Patricia Briggs over the last few days. I picked it up at the library, a hardcover novel called "Bone Crossed." I think this may be her first Mercy Thompson book to be issued in hardcover, although it is the fourth book in the series. I've not read her other books in this series, but this one was crafted so that you could jump right into the ongoing storyline and not feel too lost. I'd like to go back and read the previous novels now.

The fourth Miss Julia book is now up next.

Friday, August 14, 2009


Grabbed this pic off of a friends blog....neat graphic! I was at our local library yesterday and enjoyed stocking the bookstore and visiting with friends.
The first week of school is almost complete. Seems like everyone is adjusted to the new schedules, teachers and classes. It also seems like we never had a break!
One of the moms who was at soccer last night pointed out to me when the last day of school will be in May! Guess she is ready for the year to be over.
Busy weekend of soccer for us between a practice for the middle kid and a 'friendly' tournament game for the older kid. Guess the younger kid will either choose to hang out on the sidelines with us or stay home and stay cool.
Happy Friday!

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Ever heard of a back to school bribe? Okay, this is how it goes. Little boy or girl makes it to the first day of school with no problem. The excitement level is running high. New sneakers, new clothes maybe, new school supplies (my personal favorite is the new box of crayolas, nothing better than new crayons) are all purchased and either worn or carried through the freshly painted doors of the school. Kids are smiling. Moms are smiling.

Then the other shoe drops, so to speak. The second day comes along. The third day comes along. And the tears come along as the excitement wears off.

My neighbor's youngest turned on the water works and kept them going for a good portion of the second day. First grade can be sort of scary, so I totally understand. The teacher gave the appropriate amount of comfort and let mom know what was happening. Mom whipped out the 'big' bribe, if you stay tear free for the week, a new Barbie is yours!

Worked like a charm although mom felt a bit guilty about bribing in order to get good behavior, even though she framed it in more of a 'goal' type plan of action. You do 'X' and you will earn 'Y.'

Mom's guilt evaporated when she was walking home and became part of a conversation about that separation anxiety, first week of school jitters with some other moms. You see, they bribed their elementary aged kids not with a new doll, but with a new LAPTOP!

Are you kidding me? When the mom next door told me this, I about fell off my sandals. Stunned yes, surprised that two neighborhood moms would do this, no.

So, what do the 'bribes' become as they get older? Where do you go from there?

We do reward our kids for good report cards with a nice, family dinner out once a quarter. I don't consider it a bribe as we'd probably go out to dinner anyway, it is more of a label. We go out and we say, "Gosh, you worked hard the past nine weeks, enjoy those ribs and fries!"

I truly can't remember being bribed as a kid in order to encourage me to turn off the tears. I do remember walking to school and crying/sobbing because I didn't want to go. I was in second grade and we had moved to a new house which meant a new school. I went from a Mary Poppins teacher to the troll who lived under the bridge teacher. Now, that was something to cry about! I had no friends and had a mean, unattractive and ancient teacher.

Maybe a new laptop would have helped.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

mid week happenings

Getting the house cleaned after a summer of 'make-do' cleaning took up five hours yesterday and will run over into today. Ugh. But, the result is nice to enjoy and worth the effort.

After I do that, I'm going to sit and watch a movie then try and finish the next Miss Julia book so I can begin the two books I requested from a neighboring library. Those books are by Kathy Emerson and are set in Elizabethan England.

The kids seem to have settled into their new school routines for the most part. The middle kid has quickly adopted a new 'high school' attitude, which, I have to tell you is humorous on one hand and irritating on the other! The older one fell immediately into the 'been there done that' mode; she has soooooo much experience with high school and such. The youngest keeps coming home with more things he 'needs' for class. I hope we have provided him with all the necessary essentials for 5th grade now after I made a run to Target last night.

Looks to be a good day!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

special olympics

In 1987 I was a fresh college graduate, employed by a bank and enjoying a steady paycheck. One of the perks of working for this bank was their connection to Notre Dame. So, when Special Olympics came to town to hold their annual competitions on campus, employees were encouraged to volunteer. Through some friends I snagged a role as a 'celebrity' ambassador and was able to spend the better portion of the week on campus, attending events and ceremonies and meeting lots of and lots of people. My official role was to be the escort of Mark Shriver, one of Eunice Kennedy Shriver's sons. Never met him, he didn't need an escort...but I did meet several of the Kennedy clan, other Kennedy relatives and a variety of professional athletes and TV/movie celebrities.

But the neatest experience was watching the participants. The pride and joy those athletes had in their abilities and in the Special Olympics experience was wonderful to witness.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver passed away yesterday, but the Special Olympics will live on and what an amazing tribute and legacy to this woman who never forgot her older sister and went on to bring such hope and joy to so many families.

Monday, August 10, 2009

the reading fiend

I've been reading like a fiend over the last few days. I checked out every book our library had in one series and am plowing through another series my mom had loaned to me a few years back and I'd never finished.

First off, the Ophelia and Abby Mysteries by Shirley Damsgaard, are wonderfully told stories about a small town librarian, Ophelia, who just happens to be a psychic as well as a witch. She has the unfortunate 'ability' of stumbling over dead bodies and then the stubbornness that requires she solves the murder. Abby is her grandmother, a very wise and experienced witch descended from the 'granny' women of the Appalachia region. I devoured the first four of these books in two days.

Next up, Ann B. Ross is the author of the beloved Miss Julia series. Miss Julia goes through life with such style and grace, of course, those around her don't always seem to appreciate the 'code' by which she was raised or has lived her life...hilarity ensues. I'm into the third book in this series.

Both series provide a nice mystery that needs solving, plenty of well drawn characters and snappy dialogue.

Well, my oldest two are hustling around trying to get ready for their first day of school. Better go and provide traffic control.

Friday, August 7, 2009

john hughes

We all have favorite movie lines and if you lived your teen years during the 80's, the lines spoken in John Hughes' movies tend to stick with you. John Hughes passed away yesterday. He had a heart attack while he was walking in NYC; he was only 59. His movies are so embedded in my memories of high school, as are the lines he wrote.

"Life moves pretty fast. You don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

"The key to faking out the parents is the clammy hands. It's a good non-specific symptom; I'm a big believer in it. A lot of people will tell you that a good phony fever is a dead lock, but, uh... you get a nervous mother, you could wind up in a doctor's office. That's worse than school. You fake a stomach cramp, and when you're bent over, moaning and wailing, you lick your palms. It's a little childish and stupid, but then, so is high school." Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Jim Baker: "Why do you think you're a dork? I don't think you're a dork. I don't think Mom thinks you're a dork.
Samantha: Mike thinks I'm a dork.
Jim Baker: Mike *is* a dork." Sixteen Candles

Brian Johnson: "Dear Mr. Vernon, we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. But we think you're crazy to make an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us... In the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain... ..and an athlete... and a basket case... .a princess... .and a criminal... Does that answer your question?... Sincerely yours, the Breakfast Club." The Breakfast Club

The 80's may be long gone, but thanks to the movies John Hughes wrote and directed, a bit of my teenage experience lives on and what fun it is to share it with my own teens. I sense a movie marathon weekend in our future.....

Thursday, August 6, 2009

the new normal

"The new normal" is a catch phrase I've heard in reference to the economy and just today in regards to a health situation. People may not like change, but we are hardwired to adapt, cope and adjust.

We find a way to absorb the changes that life throws at us and either live with those changes or live around them. Not that we don't like to complain about having to change and adapt, because boy do we like to let everyone know that we are doing just that.

I was pretty worn out by the time I got home yesterday after three meetings in a row. But, on the good side, the meetings went smoothly and the exchanges were even keeled. Today the information will be given out to more people and hopefully the 'new normal' will be absorbed without much complaint. For some reason, even small changes can kick up a many ways larger storms than big changes induce.

Even though I was at the library for a significant chunk of time yesterday, I neglected to get a book to read. Last night I scanned my bookshelf thinking I would reread an old favorite and instead realized I had the first four books in the Ann B. Ross "Miss Julia" series, but had never read them. They are stacked on my nightstand now and will most likely fall like dominoes as we enjoy the few last days of summer before the 'new normal' of the school year begins.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

the good, the bad and the schedule

The high school schedules are out and while one child is thrilled, the other isn't quite as happy. The oldest has benefited from her honors heavy class load in that she is with the a majority of her friends for every class. The youngest has at least one person she knows in every class, but none of her BFF's. She was one unhappy student after we left the school for her soccer practice.

She will get over it, meet new people and thrive. It was good to see the few teachers that the oldest had last year and now the middle one will have this year...the big three: Honors Geometry, Honors English and Honors Biology. Of course they've all heard about her from her sister. Should be an interesting year for her! They've never followed on each other's heels like this in their academic careers.

Rain moved in last night. Ugh.

Not sure if I'm in the right frame of mind for the meetings I have today, but maybe with more coffee in me, I will turn the corner.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

what is on the calendar

I need to start making my lists. Now that the start of a new school year is just days away, I need to get back to work on my big 'fall' event; handing over the reins of the bookstore to the two ladies who will step into the manager's role.

It can be a delicate thing to hand something like that off. I've been so tied into the whole endeavor and now I will attempt to step back, be of assistance when asked, but let them bring their vision and ideas to the project.

I have a meeting planned with them for this month and then a general 'all store volunteer' meeting planned for September.

In the meantime, there is always the regular work to do. I have two meetings tomorrow; one to discuss space issues and constraints involving the donation process. The other is our regular monthly meeting for the Friends. I hope the warmer temps predicted for tomorrow don't impact our discussions.

The bookstore has thrived over the summer months, so much so that we are in desperate need for donations, specifically paperback romances. I put a call out on facebook for that genre of book, so hopefully we will see a few trickle into the library.

I know spring is Mother Nature's time of renewal, but Fall seems to be the renewal time for me this year. Ending and beginnings in store for the weeks ahead.

Monday, August 3, 2009

what to do

This is the final week of summer vacation. Other than three rounds of back to school registration on Tuesday and a meeting on Wednesday, the week is wide open. All the immediate school supplies and back to school clothes/shoes have been purchased.

I'd like to do something 'special' each day with the kids. Small treats to break up the day, put smiles on our faces and celebrate summer.

Hubby worked on our 'pool' yesterday as the rain we received last week messed up the water quality quite a bit. It is all cleaned out and chemically balanced now, even if the water still looks a bit cloudy it is safe for swimming.

Swimming, walks, picnics, ice cream treats etc.....sounds like a plan for the week before Summer '09 fades away.