Thursday, March 31, 2011

the end of march brings april

March is ending. The first quarter of 2011 is almost over. Already.

I've read some good books. I've planted some vegetables in what used to be a flower bed. The kids are all doing well in school. Soccer is going well. Band is going well. We are all healthy. In many ways, things in our lives are in a good place.

So, we enter the second quarter of the new year with high hopes. April will bring my 20th wedding anniversary. It will bring my Dad's birthday. It will bring Easter. I hope it brings some signed contracts for hubby's business. I hope it brings my return to the paying workforce.

April is a 'bring' month and I hope what is brought to us is just what we need.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

ordering school pictures

I bypassed ordering the youngest kid's fall school picture and hoped the one taken in the spring would be better. That envelope arrived home via backpack yesterday, the photo was a vast improvement over the one taken earlier in the year, so I went ahead and ordered a few copies to distribute to the family. The fall pictures are taken so the shots can be used in the yearbook, but the spring ones have a fake outdoor backdrop and a more casual pose. His hair looked better, his outfit looked better and although he didn't smile, he didn't grimace either. When the older two kids saw the proof of the youngest one's photo, they first question they had was, "Why did you leave your sweatshirt on?"

The youngest wears, not quite daily, but on a regular basis, a black hooded, zippered sweatshirt to school over a variety of tee shirts. Most of his garments come from Old Navy and he always looks presentable. He was quick to inform them that the sweatshirt is part of his signature look.

Signature look? What? Hahahahahaha.  I sputtered, snorted and then laughed as did his sisters. He stood there not quite believing why we found this so humorous. I guess we've forced him to watch too many programs about models, style, self improvement etc. on the occasions when we wrest the TV controller away from his father and whatever sports program is on during the weekend.

Ahhhh. The joys of children. They are always good for a few laughs now and then.

But, speaking of school pictures, the oldest came home making noises about senior pictures. I again sputtered and snorted, but I want to cry not laugh.  Senior pictures? Really? When did you get to be a senior? Oh my. Oh my.

I've ordered the middle school pictures and I guess I will be making arrangement to order some senior pictures soon. Laughter, is all good.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

that switch in my head

We all have them. Switches in our heads that allow us to transition from one role to another. Wife. Mother. Volunteer. Housekeeper. Cook. Writer. Reader.  This list  goes on and on. We move from one role to another to another throughout the day as circumstances and interactions require.

I usually get into trouble when I'm multitasking. For example, yesterday I was making dinner in the afternoon, just putting together a simple meatloaf. But, while I was doing this I also had the laptop open and was perusing some sites regarding the spring book sale. Voila. The meatloaf was out of the mixer and into the pan without any tomatoes included in the mixture. Yes, I put a few diced tomatoes in my meatloaf, but totally forgot to add them as I was mulling over volunteer/work related things.

It happens. The switch gets tired from toggling back and forth and epic failure happened. It is sort of like getting a blue screen of death on your computer. Sometimes the mother board just says, "Enough! I'm outta here."

Seems to be happening to me a lot of late.

I did manage to finish, just in the nick of time, the book I was reading. The library called on Sunday to let me know two books I'd placed on hold were now available. I finished "Midsummer's Night" by Freda Warrington. I enjoyed this take on the Dubh Sidhe and would read more from this author. The book had a lovely mix of family drama, mystery, interesting characters, magic and otherworldliness.

Up next are "Madame Tussaud" by the lovely and talented Michelle Moran and "River Marked" by Patricia Briggs. Now that I have these two in my clutches, I can go into the library's hold system and put requests in for "Pale Demon" by Kim Harrison and "The Land of the Painted Caves" by Jean Auel. Woot!!!!!!

Looks like some good reading ahead, and no switches are required when I'm immersed in a book. That is a wonderful thing.

Monday, March 28, 2011

thunder and lightning, very, very frightening

I woke this morning, for the first time at 2:00, roused hubby from the couch, let the dog out and back in, then stumbled back to bed. Hubby had stayed awake as we had major storms roll through the area. They were strong enough that he passed out the battery operated lanterns, just in case morning came and the power was still off. The power came back on and the storms rolled through without leaving much damage behind.

Needless to say, we are both a bit 'peepy-eyed' this morning. The oldest was actually up and at the breakfast table before we managed to crawl out of bed. Not that she is moving fast. Her body is aching from the soccer tournament this weekend. Her knees look like someone has worked her over and she happily took an extra strength ibuprofen after she ate her cheerios this morning.

Happy Monday.....not exactly a smooth acceleration into the week, but the engines are running and most of the pistons are moving.

Friday, March 25, 2011

jennifer lawrence as katniss everdeen

I've blogged about Suzanne Collin's dystopian trilogy that started with "The Hunger Games" before, but now that the book is being made into a movie and now that the lead role has been filled, it is time to comment.

First, I'm always anxious when a movie is made from one of my favorite books. Sometimes the choice of actor is okay, sometimes it is great and sometimes it falls far short of the mark. Case in point, "Interview with the Vampire." I was devastated when Tom Cruise was cast as Lestat and vindicated when I learned that Anne Rice wasn't happy either.  On the other hand, I've enjoyed seeing folks like Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law bring Holmes and Watson to life on the screen. No on can replace Basil Rathbone as the amazing Sherlock, but the latest incarnation works for me in some way.

Casting drama can consume the tabloid-movie magazines and everyone was guessing who would be tapped to play Katniss.  Several facebook pages I frequent asked for opinions and I offered a few names I thought would work. Several young actresses kept popping up, Saoirse Ronin, Hailee Steinfeld, Jennifer Lawrence. I'd seen both Ronin and Lawrence work their acting magic in movies, but I've not managed to see Steinfeld's performance in "True Grit." Yet, I liked the way she looked and thought of the three, she might be the best choice.

That being said, I was very, very impressed with Lawrence's performance in "Winter's Bone." She did a great job. That ability must have knocked the socks off the movie's folk as well as Collins. She was tapped for the role.

I will plunk down my money to see this movie and most likely will take the kiddoes with me. I'm eager to see Lawrence take on this part and to see the book brought to life on the big screen.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

nora roberts with a side of jd robb

It seems like I've read Nora Roberts' books all my life. She's been writing a long time and she writes lots of books, so I guess that feeling is somewhat natural. Years ago she began a series using the pseudonym JD Robb and branched off into a futuristic-romance-police procedural-mystery direction. The " Death" books star Eve Dallas, her hubby Roarke and an assortment of interesting characters and murders.

You know what you are going to get when you open a book from this author. It is sort of like opening a bag from the drive through window at Micky D's. It may not be good for you, but done right, it is pretty tasty. Or, it will at least fill your tummy for a reasonable price.

Formulaic. Consistent.

I've heard both words used to describe her books. I don't think that is necessarily a bad thing and obviously the reading public doesn't think it is a bad thing either. Her books sell and they sell all over the world. So, kick back and dive into that greasy goodness, don't worry about the empty calories, and get your exercise for your mind with other brain food.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


I enjoyed two lovely conversations yesterday with two gals I don't get to see very often. In the morning I received a phone call from one of the very first people I met after we moved here. I was paired with her to teach a first grade PRE class and we hit it off right away. She is a hoot and mothers a brood of five kids. When the older boys went off to high school she took part time work in nursing and has a crazy work schedule to juggle on top of her family schedule. They have also stopped going to our parish and now attend another one, so our days of running into each other after Mass are over. But, we have a good 'catch up' at least a few times a year. That sounds sort of sad, but it isn't as I do keep tabs on her through her hubby who is our pharmacist. I see him when I'm at our grocery store. We talked for 90 minutes about everything and shared lots of laughs.

Then last night at the soccer field I ran into a couple whose daughter used to play with both my girls. She is now in a different club, one that practices a bit closer to their home, so we only see them when we are playing that new team.  We were able to visit for the whole game and enjoyed talking about all sorts of things. It was fun!

Not sure what sort of conversations are in store for me today as I take my minivan in for some recall work to be done at the dealership, but it is always interesting to people watch in such places. I plan on taking two books with me as I am nearing the end of one and expect I will need a back up book to keep me occupied while I wait.

Yep, it is Wednesday.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

plants with purpose or how does your garden grow

I'm in the process of 'repurposing' my flower beds into vegetable beds. I have lost several ornamental shrubs due to a variety of reasons and am going to rework those beds into spaces where we can grow things to eat. The few perennial flowers in those beds have been moved or thinned to make room. This is an experiment for me, but I'm sort of excited about it. I've always wanted an herb garden and one area will be converted for that. I'm also planning on planting a few tomatoes, green peppers and zucchini.

I'd love to build a raised bed in the back yard and do a proper garden, but this is not the year to tackle that project. So, I will use the space I have that is easily converted for a different purpose. On Sunday I priced plants at Lowe's and will check at Wally World today to see how they compare in price and plant quality. I hope to have the herbs and veggies in the ground so they can benefit from the rain we are expecting to fall on Wednesday night.

In other news, I'm reading the latest installment in JD Robb's (Nora Roberts) saga featuring Eve Dallas. These books have become a bit too formulaic for me. You can't deny Roberts' success as a writer and a major force in publishing, but I'm finding more enjoyment in reading new, debut and midlist authors now.

Monday, March 21, 2011

passing along the love of reading

My oldest daughter went to the library yesterday for a soccer ref meeting, but she also left on a  mission to checkout the last Sookie book. She plowed through the series this year and as I loaned out the last book to my mom (at least I think I did as I don't have it) she needed to borrow a copy to get it read before the next installment comes out in May.

This is the child who was my reluctant reader. Yeah!!

The youngest child loves to read also, but he enjoys nonfiction much more than novels and the middle kid is rereading Harry Potter when she isn't reading assigned books for school.

I think I've successfully passed along my love of reading. That is a good habit to pass off to the next generation.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Off to see Rango and other lovely distractions

The oldest and I had the pleasure of spending some quality time at the license branch yesterday so she could obtain her next driver's license. Everything is done by degrees now. I'm not so sure this is about safety, seems to be more about revenue and over reaching laws. But, regardless of why kids need multiple licenses before they reach age 21, she obtained her new one in only two hours.

We arrived home to find hubby here having lunch and offering to take us all to the movies. I ate some lunch, took a pain pill, waited for it to kick in a bit and away we went. The movie was "Rango." We all loved it. Some great one liners, good animation, interesting story line, but most definitely not for the younger kid set. More of a tween and teen cartoon with lots of fun stuff thrown in for the parents. The "Spirit of the West" is alive in well in all of us. After the movie we used a gift certificate for a local restaurant and treated ourselves to a dinner out.

That was our big spring break for the year.  Up next is yard work. Hubby informed the kids of their duties and that I will be serving as foreman for the annual clean up. He checked into borrowing a pickup truck so we can go and get mulch at the local place and save some money.

All in all, some lovely distractions to keep us all occupied and happy.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

foggy, fuzzy, funk

I had a very difficult time hauling myself out of bed this morning. I kept dozing back off to sleep and didn't put on my glasses until hubby's alarm began to beep.  After two cups of coffee, a banana and reading the paper, I still feel foggy, fuzzy and in a funk.  The weather is going to be lovely today and if I'm going to be muddled, I can do so on the back patio with a book in hand.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

the snooki approach

In the trashy world of reality TV, a young woman named "Snooki" seems to have cornered the market on overexposure. She almost makes me long for the days of Paris Hilton dominating the TV screen. Reality TV has come a long way from the first few episodes of Survivor, Real World etc. It appears, from the few minutes I allowed myself to watch Jersey Shore, that putting 'it' all out there just isn't enough. Now you invent stuff to put out there and the more outrageous you can act or react, the more your ratings go up and the longer that 15 minutes of fame can last.

It is a less bloody version of the Roman arena.

Just how much do you share with people? I'm a fairly open person. Ask and you shall receive. I don't withhold information. I do however, tailor answers depending on the audience. Sometimes blatant honesty is called for and other times the response can be a bit less detailed.  I took the blatant approach yesterday during a few phone calls regarding the 'bird in hand' I discussed in yesterday's blog. As a reward I was told to call back when my situation is resolved and I was back to 100%.  The same spot might not be available, but other spots would be and I would be a candidate.

That is a good thing. Did I take a 'Snooki' approach? Hmmm, not really, but I didn't fib, lie, exaggerate or string anyone along. I shared exactly how I felt, my fears and my concerns and received encouragement in return.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

the birds in the bush

Due to circumstances beyond my control, I'm letting the bird I have in my hand go and hoping that the birds in the bush will arrive in my life at a better time. Timing is everything. Things happen for a reason. All in good time.

Blah, blah, blah, wah, wah, wah.

I feel like my mid 40's are in danger of becoming a huge cliche. Could it be I am this month's poster child for menopausal, plumbing dysfunctional women? It sure feels that way. The cosmos needs to stop raining on my parade, but in the meantime, first things first. Hubby and I had a long talk and my thoughts of soldiering on and trying to ignore my symptoms in order to capitalize on the 'bird' in hand were shot down like a mallard on the first day of duck season.

Something else will turn up. When I'm functioning at more than 50-60% effectiveness and not on prescription pain medicine. Right? Right?

Hey cosmos? I'm talking to you? You listening up there? Do you really want to mess with this woman?

I need more coffee. I think I just heard a chuckle.

Monday, March 14, 2011

kicking it this spring...on the pitch and at home

Big news from the weekend is that the middle kid's team won the big medal on Sunday at the big spring soccer tourney. After four tough games, two of which ended in PK shoot-outs, they marched away with championship medals. The only thing bigger than those awards were their smiles.

Older kid's team started off well with a big win and then lost their next two. She played really well, but you have to score to win, and the team didn't manage to do that.

Now we will all be kicking back to enjoy spring break. The rain should move out today and the sun should arrive to dry us out and warm us up for the rest of the vacation. Not sure what we will be doing, but I may know more on that after today. I do know lots of sleeping and eating will be on the kid's agendas in addition to helping me with some at home projects.

Happy Monday, rainy day and all.

Friday, March 11, 2011

funerals, baptisms and the breaking of spring

While the hubby and two girls were off to a local 'mega' nondenominational church for a funeral, I stayed home with the boy. He is left to his own devices too often when soccer season is underway and I opted to stay home with him and send my condolences along with the rest of our family. The father of one of the middle kid's teammates died, unexpectedly, of a heart attack at age 48.

This event has hit our girls hard. There comes the moment in all our lives when we begin to realize that we aren't invincible and that those around us aren't either. We all will die. Some after a long illness, others when we least expect it.

Seeing their peer deal with the death of her father has made them feel vulnerable. If it can happen to her, it can happen to me. Tears have been shed. Kisses doled out. Hugs are lasting a bit longer. This is a tough one.

While they were gone, the little neighbor girl brought over an invitation to her baptism. This family is LDS and we have attended the baptisms for two of their three other children. I showed my family the invite when they returned home and we discussed if we could make it. We have a big soccer tournament this weekend and will be dividing and going in several different directions. But, no matter what church you may put your faith in, baptism is an affirmation of life and rebirth and a few of us will be attending this little girl's special day.

Funerals. Baptisms. Spring Break right around the corner. March.

Perhaps this month's label is very fitting this year. I do feel like we are on a 'march' of some sort. Where we are headed is very unclear, but we are marching, each and every day.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Turning: a place of a change of direction.

A lot of things have been turning in my life. Perhaps churning and turning would be a more complete description.  The fact that Ash Wednesday happened during the middle of all of this and that the homily was about 'turning' and the words spoken as we all received our ashes included the word 'turn,' forms some sort of cosmic-weird-freaky trinity in my life.

I'm turning alright, like a pig on a spit it seems.

The good thing about turning is that the opportunity is there for the turning to stop in a new and good place. The journey to that destination, the place that lies at the end of the directional change, isn't usually smooth or easy. But, if you take each day as it comes and put one foot in front of the other, and move with a purpose, you will, at some point, reach that destination. Then all the turning and churning will be behind you and a moment can be taken for a deep breath and the realization of the 'here' and the 'now.'

And then, most likely, the turning will begin again. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ash Wednesday

Not only is it Ash Wednesday today, but it is also my brother's birthday. Happy Birthday!! 

Up for today: a meeting with our Main Street group about the big conference coming to town next month. I also have assorted other fun activities planned for today. Read that last sentence with a lot of sarcasm, please.

But, not to dwell on my less than stellar day, the newspaper awaits me. Today's edition is filled with all sorts of stories regarding the historic vote in our 'big' city to surrender their school district charter and force consolidation on the county. A whopping 17% of the eligible voters deemed the education of the city's children important enough to vote. Hmmmm. Perhaps this apathy at the polls mirrors the apathy in the schools and explains the reason why our 'big' city schools are failing. I wonder if the rest of the county residents were allowed to vote, what the turnout would have been outside the city limits?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Just what does a Friends of the Library president do?

When I took on the presidency for the Friends, I was handed a bag full of files and given a hug. I think the next president might need a little more than that. I've started the process of putting together a manual to exactly outline what the president does and when. The manual will also contain information on what the other officers do, as well as what the book sale and book store managers duties are.

At some point in the future, I will be able to hand off this manual along with a jump drive containing pertinent files and walk away with a very clean conscience. I will have provided a starting point for the next president and that board of officers.

I began to make a list yesterday and started to see a format for the manual take shape. This is not going to be a day long project. It most likely will take me a week as I need to provide examples as well as guidelines and instructions for multiple endeavors. I have the time right now and I hope to have the project completed by the middle of next week.

Monday, March 7, 2011

aldi: budget cooking made fun

You just never know what you are going to find when you walk into an Aldi. It is almost like a treasure hunt. I've found awesome cheese, imported from Ireland. They always carry amazing German chocolate. Last week I picked up four packages of gnocchi for what one package costs at the 'regular' grocery store. They have their staples, but those oddball, seasonal items make cooking on a budget fun. Yesterday we had a very tasty mushroom risotto with our roasted chicken and Italian spinach. Yum.

Up for today is scalloped potatoes and ham. Not my favorite meal, but the kids and hubby enjoy it.

Friday, March 4, 2011

impending gloom

The sky is turning more and more gloomy as I look outside my kitchen window. The rain is coming and bringing cooler temps with it. Impending gloom awaits.

But, it is Friday and we have a weekend of no soccer ahead.

Happy Weekend.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

the one where I lose my cool.....

Mission Statements. Non profits. Libraries. Books. Volunteerism.

Yesterday we had our monthly Friends meeting and one topic for discussion was a review of the bookstore pricing structure. The prices in the store were set almost four years ago and I felt it was time to review what we charge for each item. As the executive board talked about the issue, several of the gals offered to take time out of their days and make trips to several used bookstores in our area and see how those items were priced.

What they discovered was not unexpected. We charge less than everyone, and are closely aligned with what our fellow Friends group in Gtown charges on some items, but on others we are priced lower.  That group, however, pays their store manager to do the job I did for free for two years.

We brought this information back to our group. Interestingly enough, we actually had a few faces show up to discuss the topic who do not bother to attend meetings any other time. Hmmmm. One of those faces borrows books from the store, sees if she can sell them online, and if so, does that and then pays for the book. She is a regular volunteer at the store and the sales.

The discussion ensued yesterday and several folks brought up the purpose of the store. They feel, strongly, that we need to keep prices where they are as this is more than an effort to raise money, it is also a community resource and outreach service with the money generated being an added bonus.

Now, if these folks were not active participants in the store, I wouldn't take their comments as seriously as I do. I view the store in a different way. The money generated is our PURPOSE. That the store is a community resource is a byproduct.

The store has generated over 100K in revenue for our group to donate to the library. That is a lot of money and we work very, very hard to make that money. Yes, it is a nice thing to have this as a service. Who doesn't love finding a great book at a great price, but we aren't talking about raising prices to equal what the stand-alone store-front stores charge. Those places charge half the cover price on most items.

We are talking about going from $1 to $1.50 and increases of that nature.

I guess I have a different philosophy about our purpose and mission and goal. I volunteer with the Friends to help them raise money for the Library. I don't volunteer with them to give books away. We help buy the books and programs that the Library can allow to be checked out or attended for free. We exist to support the library.

So, when the topic of giving books away was broached and viewed as the 'ideal', I got a bit steamed. My tone changed. I counted to ten. I sucked in some big lungfuls of air. I wrapped up the meeting.

The topic will be presented again next month for a motion, second and further discussion. I expect that will be an interesting meeting as well.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

I've already blogged about my excitement regarding this book. I finished the story yesterday and it is going to be too long a wait until the second installment hits the shelves. I'm ready to read the rest, now, please!

Pretty easy to understand why the title has received so much buzz. Interesting characters, plenty of mystery, lots of history and science and a wonderful combination of vampires, witches and daemons (not the hellish kind).

Up next is a new book on St. Margaret of Scotland and her husband Malcolm Canmore. "Queen Hereafter" by Susan Fraser King really caught my eye because Lady MacBeth is a supporting character in it and I've always been very intrigued with her. King wrote a wonderful book on Lady MacBeth as well.  Should be good stuff.

Soccer from last night.......younger daughter's team dominated 4-0, they could have scored more, but the coach called them off and made them work on passes.  Older daughter was the 'sub' keeper on another team, a rec/competitive team, and they lost 2-1. She had some interesting stories to tell.....when she called for an 'away' ball on a cross, the players, not use to such talk, stepped away. She said it was like the parting of the Red Sea! Hahahaha. She had to explain to them, on the next stoppage, that when a keeper calls "away" that means kick the ball out!! She also, in another play, called for the ball...a nice loud "Keeper" shout, but her own player got in her way and was still trying to kick it. Said player almost kicked her own goalie!! Again, seasoned keeper playing with inexperienced players.

Now for the clincher, younger daughter's team is going to play this team the older daughter is helping, next week.  Luckily, another keeper will be in the goal. Whew. That could have been ugly.

And here it is Wednesday. Already.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

one lonely egg

My pantry and fridge are looking a bit empty. The egg carton has one last egg in it, so as I type, I'm also making pancakes for breakfast. So, please excuse me when it is time to flip or pour more batter.

I'm almost finished with "A Discovery of Witches."  What a wonderful read. I knew before I started the book, that this title was kicking off a series. If the next novels are as wonderful as this one, Deborah Harkness has secured her place on the bestsellers list.

The job interview yesterday was interesting. I'm still digesting my thoughts and feelings on this. My brain is clogged with all the random bits of 'stuff' and the 'noise' of it all made its way into my dreams. Not a restful night.  I'm a bit tired this morning and hoping that the sun shines today to give me a boost of much needed energy.

Tuesday, dead ahead.