Note:

This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Six Great Things about Brenna (the "first" dog)

MiMi told me this yesterday, on our way to school. It was random. As usual.

1. She is a good dog.
2. She plays a little bit with the puppies.
3. She gives us a good reason to keep the puppies.
4. She is good friends with Sunkist (the cat).
5. She is good friends with the puppies.
6. She does not bite.

Monday, August 30, 2010

UnMosque

If you know me well enough then you can predict how I feel about the Mosque being built *near* Ground Zero. It's not *at* or *in* Ground Zero. It's two blocks away. And as Bloomberg states to Jon Stewart, there's another mosque four blocks away.

I care not about whether a mosque is built there anymore than I care if a church of another denomination was built there. But I do care that people feel that it is wrong.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that Islam is not about terrorism. Oh wait. Maybe it does. Maybe we need to go to school to educate ourselves about what it is do be muslim in the free world.

Why do I not care? It is certainly not because I am insensitive to the symbolic nature of it. But I just think that it is out of pure ignorance and hate to target the religion by the actions of a group of terrorists, who were founded somewhere in the 1980s, and have taken their beliefs to an extreme interpretation that is *not* shared by other muslims. Muslims who were muslims before al-qaeda was ever formed.

That would be pretty similar to saying all germans were nazis, or that all Christians want to murder abortion doctors.

I wondered why this was all so controversial so 'suddenly'. In a city like New York, in which all people, race and creed, seem to somehow thrive together, would react in a very non-stereotypical way (IMO) to this. I blamed the media, trying to spark some controversy. But Bloomberg nailed it, I believe, on his little talk on the Jon Stewart show: it's an election year, so someone, somewhere is trying to make this an issue to come in and try to "shine" for votes.

Here is Bloomberg's speech about supporting the building of the mosque:

Here's the transcript if you don't want to watch/listen to it.

And an even better interview from the Jon Stewart show, because it is short and simple and right to the point:
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Michael Bloomberg
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Volleyball Tryouts Day One

Today CJ had her first day of tryouts for 7th grade volleyball. This is what she told me they had to do:

[paraphrasing]
First, I had PE right before tryouts, so I had to do double the warm-up. Next we had to run one mile in the gym. After that, he made us do *sprints* up and down the stairs over and over and over. Then we came back in and did wall squats, then we had to sprint from one end of the gym to the other, then do wall squats *again*. Afterwards we had to do that thing where we lay on our back and hold our legs up about six inches off the ground. After that, we did, like 10 minutes of bumping. That was all we did that was related to volleyball.

This was *so* funny to me because, as I told her, I _voluntarily_ do this at least twice a week!! And some people would pay money to do this!!!

Aw, the irony...

Live, Laugh, Love (AKA Cancer Sucks)

Some things just catch a person off guard. That happened to me last night, as I read through my Facebook friends' status updates.

I noticed a "friend", Holly Mohajer, changed her profile picture. An innocuous event but it caught my eye, so I clicked her profile to see how she was doing. And then I saw a post of sympathy, then sadly, the obituary for her husband.

And then I cried.

I cried for a man I didn't know, a woman I briefly met, and yet had been touched by so many years ago. I also cried because I knew that her husband had recently been diagnosed with cancer and they were struggling to pay his medical bills. There were numerous events to help them, all by local restaurants who were coming together to support them.

Holly and Hamid own Mo's Diner, an intimate little place in Moore Square. If you don't look for it, you may miss it, as it sits on the corner, all on its own, on the opposite side of where all the activity occurs.

I took Tim there years ago. I wrote about it, then on a local newsgroup, since it was 2004 and blogging wasn't a "word" that was used then...so my posts ended up on a newsgroup (or in my friends' inboxes).

Holly wrote me back after reading it with such praise and enthusiasm. Over the years, I would get an occasional email responding to another post I would add to the newsgroup, or I would read her own posts/replies.

When I found her on facebook, I added her and kept up occasionally until I found out, earlier in the year, about her husband.

FriendsforHamid outlined their struggle with his cancer.

This news was on the heels of news of another friend, who I had read earlier yesterday morning, is not doing well with his cancer. Reading about Hamid's death just made me so sad - again - for my young friend and his wife. They keep active and I see him at work, always with a hearty hello for me. He shows no sign of anything horrible happening within his body. He and his wife seem so happy in their pictures, their writings. And yet, the truth, as little as they need to indicate, is that the cancer is taking over his body. The last sentence of my friend's CaringBridge page had this:
The news doesn't get any better when talking about scans and cancer but enjoying life and the moments that we can share together, have been priceless.

I noticed Holly "liked" a quote that had: I wish cancer would get cancer and die so we could keep our loved ones a lot longer on. And while I understood her reason to "like" this, I didn't find it that appealing since the whole 'get cancer and die' part of the line is so fucked up.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

So Far, So Good

MiMi decided earlier this month that she would be a vegetarian. The month is almost over and she has been quite successful thus far.

It helps that we support her. :)

She is having issues with determining what counts as not being meat. Or she just likes to keep asking if something is OK.

"Can I have bread?"

"Is cheese OK?"

"Is peanut butter a meat?"

Then again, shortly after announcing her vegetarianism, she was at Subway ordering a Turkey and Cheese sub. Our babysitter managed to avert the order by telling her that turkey is meat. She chose to go without turkey.

She hasn't appeared to miss anything 'meaty'. I did let her have fish nuggets, to which she questioned me over and over if it was OK, although some vegetarians do not eat fish.

But bacon? Nope.

Chicken? Nope.

Hot dogs? Nope.

I have incorporated more veggie main dishes in our menus. Tim made us meatless tacos, using meatless crumbles. He hated it. MiMi loved it. I was influenced by Tim's hatred; it tasted fine but I decided I couldn't eat anymore of it after he blasted it.

Tonight I made a potato filling for tacos. It was quite good. Will be better in the morning in a breakfast burrito! But MiMi liked it so we have a better alternative to taco night, which is one of our favorite meals.

I made a meatless lasagna the other night, using a meat lasagna recipe I've made before. The meatless crumbles, within this recipes, worked 100%. The big lasagna dish is nearly gone from Tim and MiMi alone. This will definitely be a regular item on our menu too.

I am pretty proud of her. She made a choice, based on whatever reasons she has: animal lover, a vegan influence from her babysitter (who is awesome), and her "no-love" for steak.

Now, I need to find a recipe for her one favorite meat dish: meatloaf. Ironic that the little girl who doesn't even like me to say the word "meat" would adore a food with the word in its name.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

What MTV Should Be Showing

I was a Real World fan for the first few years. The first season was fricking amazing. It truly was ground breaking and I thought, an excellent model for young people to shine.

Over the years, however, it's just become a piece of shit. The show and the channel. It's a shame because MTV actually had a great influence in politics, modern society, music, and in the music/tv/movie industry.

They were the "60 minutes" for the younger generation. They "got" "us" (I was young once) and they addressed issues that "we" cared about.

Then at some point, they decided to get away from it. Did I get old? Or did they sell out?

I have to think it's the latter, due to what they show now:
* Real World now is all about who parties hardest, who gets into fights, and who bangs the most women or men. An entry in wikipedia sums up my feelings on the show:
The series was hailed in its early years for depicting issues of contemporary young-adulthood relevant to its core audience, such as sexuality, prejudice and substance abuse, but later garnered a reputation as a showcase for immature and irresponsible behavior.[

* Jersey Shore, um, is this the Real World with a different name?

* Parental Control is a dating show where mom and dad can pick a REPLACEMENT date for their daughter or son's current shitty girl/boyfriend. If you haven't seen it, you must watch ONE episode to find out how appalling it is. I have an inkling that some of it is a bit scripted for the show, but even to script such crude behavior? APPALLING to say the least.

* Cribs likes to display the opulence of being a celebrity and showcases homes of the filthy rich and narcissistic wealthy. "I want to be like that shithead" is what this teaches young people.

So you get the point. Just crap with no redeeming qualities, IMO.

Recently, MTV started another series that has a bit of its old school personality: If You Really Knew Me. This is a decent series that follows Challenge Day at various high schools in the US. Challenge Day being a day dedicated to breaking down stereotypes and finding characteristics that all of us (mainly teens) have in common, and to find empathy or sympathy for others.

I first learned about Challenge Day during a summer series for tweens/teens at my job. Yes. My workplace rocks. Last summer, there were four, weekly sessions for tweens and teens to come and watch a video about Tobacco, Drugs, Alcohol, High School Life. It was High School life that we (CJ, me and MiMi) learned about Challenge Day, which was to alleviate bullying and social cliques in school. It was pretty amazing.

So to have this as a series has been interesting to watch. The old woman in me finds it appealing but not hitting me as it probably would have if I were in high school. CJ and I watch it; it's definitely something I am glad is on this mucked up channel that is putting a positive spin on life for young folks.

Another show that we have been watching is Blood, Sweat and T-Shirts. Tim actually saw this and decided to record it for the girls to watch. We picked up the series and it is another show that I think young people should see. And old people. And rich people. And ignorant people. Anyone that will buy a $100 pair of jeans should watch this show.

This was a BBC series that brought about six young fashionistas to India, to see what it takes to make the clothes that they are obsessed with.

These folks end up working in the cotton field, where cotton is grown for production. Then they work in the sweatshop, making clothes that get sold by the big name brands across the world. They earn the same amount of money that the locals do, which at some point, they state is $10 a week. They have to pay rent, buy food, groceries, etc.

It is, as expected, very sobering to see. One: to see flashbacks of the young folks in their "previous" life, before coming to India. It's sobering to see them whine and complain about the work they have to do. But most of all, it's sobering to see what the working class people do in this country to survive.

This is what MTV should broadcast, not how some social debutante lives, shops, or who she has sex with, or how little she cares about doing every day work that the rest of the nation has to do.

Social awareness? Sadly, despite the "fad" to be green, it doesn't make ratings nor money.

First and Second Day Jitters

Wednesday was the first day of school for CJ and MiMi. As I have blogged about in the past, CJ has bad first day jitters - as I did - the night before school.

MiMi and CJ were all packed, ready to just sleep and start Wednesday morning to a great start. I made no mention of anything stressful, treating Tuesday evening (AKA First-Day-of-School eve) as any other day we've had all summer long. I knew it would, but hoped it wouldn't, be a stressful evening.

The girls promptly went to their rooms at 8:30, excited and anxious about their first days. I hear doors opening and shutting upstairs but Tim and I were planted firmly in the living room. When it was time to turn in for the night, I went up to check on CJ and in there, I saw CJ crying...and MiMi sitting at the edge of CJ's bed crying too.

MiMi cried "We can't get to sleep."

Awwww...I couldn't help but smile sympathetically at their dilemma. I told CJ to roll out the trundle, I was going to sleep in her room. MiMi would join me and I told them not to worry, it's the jitters before school, and to try and relax.

I have an assumption that MiMi wasn't really sad on her own...that she felt truly bad about CJ's turmoil and sympathized with her enough to make it an issue for her. It was genuine, mind you, but IMO, would not have happened on her own.

First day of school seemed to go off without a hitch. But the evening hours came and more tears from CJ. She hates school. I hug her and tell her to relax, I'll come stay in the room with her later. This seems to work and when I go to her room about an hour later, she's fast asleep.

Today, Thursday morning, day two of school, CJ is unusually affectionate. She gives me several hugs (she's not a hugger) and I give extra caring ones back. Then Tim takes her off to school as I wander aimlessly, enjoying my lackadaisical morning routine.

Thirty minutes after drop-off, I receive text message: CJ is not feeling well. When I get a hold of her on the phone, she is in tears. Not only will her not feeling well make her feel bad, but being at school, and missing school, adds more to her emotional distress.

I come to the rescue and get her back home, which is where we are now...watching Julie and Julia...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Meet the Teacher #2

Yesterday was CJ's turn to meet the teacherS.

Middle school is a leap and bound from elementary school. This is 7th grade for CJ, and while she will still have some anxiety, it is a whole lot better than starting 6th grade.

But the transition, if I dare say there is one, is distinct: gone is one teacher to deal with, or prizes on Friday for getting homework done, walking a short distance to the library, cafeteria or other rooms.

At least in our case, it's a three story building where the gym is on one end and sixth grade is clear on the other side, and on the opposite floor.

And they are left to fend for themselves. Sure, there are teachers to help them get started but overall, it's an immediate introduction to being independent. Probably one of the most sobering transition I knew would happen to her...and her personality.

So that is what to expect when entering sixth grade, so seventh should be a little better, right?

Right for the most part.

But when CJ received her schedule in the mail, there were near-tears. First: she was in Chorus. She didn't sign up for chorus (pretend I'm using my 'imitating my daughter voice'). And she was supposed to be in *advanced* language arts. And she doesn't want to start the year with gym!!!

So I had to settle her nerves and did what other yuppie, crazed moms do: I emailed the counselor. So Meet the TeacherS day involved a 20 minute wait to see the counselor to change her schedule.

We did find out that her Language Arts class is, in fact, advanced, although the schedule didn't label it correctly. The irony is that it won't be long before she's complaining about why did she have to be in *advanced* language arts.

We also met the volleyball coach. She's going big her seventh grade year and will try out for the girls volleyball team. I am so excited for her but of course, I have to play it cool.

We peeked into the gym several times looking for the volleyball coach, who I also emailed and he asked that we introduce ourselves to him at Meet the TeacherS day. Finally, we just walked in to meet with the gym teacher, who surprisingly remembered CJ and her name!, and asked about it, to which he pointed to the man I was supposed to talk to. I looked over, didn't see anyone, re-scanned and found that the one guy that looked like an 8th grader was the volleyball coach.

Once we did all that had to be done, seen all that had to be seen, I was ready to go. But CJ wasn't ready: What about these other electives? I told her 'those aren't until second semester...next year...surely by then you'll know where they are?' In her best panicked, whiney voice: "but I won't know where to go!" Really? Really. You'll be attending classes for four months before you have to go to the other classes and you won't know how to get to them?

Of course. I said that on the INSIDE so as not to upset my fragile daughter's emotional stability and we went to search out the remaining classes for NEXT semester.

All in all it was very successful. Of course, she's still extremely nervous about tomorrow, worrying that she won't find her classes...when her team area is right down the hall from the gym (which is the drop off zone) *and* there are numbers to direct her to where she needs to go. I'm trying to show her on the map how to get there and I've only been in that building a half a dozen times!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Don't NAACP Me!

Wow.

During my run this morning, I listened to KATG episode #1236 Be Nice. In this episode, they play Laura Schlessinger's "racist" rant.

I put "racist" in quotes only because the media is focused on Schlessinger's use of the "n" word. This, IMO, is nowhere close to the racist rant that this piece covers.

I don't listen to this bitch. I know a little bit about how conservative she is. I have no desire to listen to a conservative. I don't listen to Rush. I don't watch Fox. I know Glenn Beck from the clips on The Daily Show. The little that I hear/see on any of this makes me sick. Sick that any one in the fucking universe gives these people any credo. It's shocking, quite honestly. These over-dramatic, overly sensitive, conspiracy-theory fools.

I listened to the clip on the podcast, the "n" word clip.

Wow.

I was blown away.

This bitch is a douche.

And completely ignorant about racism.

Which made her sound racist.

The jury is out for me on whether she is a racist, or just stupid, or even worse, so out of touch with racism that she is even more stupid.

It is shameful. What the fuck has she said in all the years that she's been doing her show?

The transcript and video are here.

I 'love' how she writes off the caller as hypersensitive, cuts her off, and makes assumptions on her and stereotypes.

Or her blatant statements of "facts" as black americans voting for Obama only because he's black. No other reason than the mere fact that he is black. Where is the data to support this? I am sure that may have been the case for someone but it had to be the support of the other races (white and asians and all the above) to actually elect him into office.

So her fucking statements are amazingly ignorant and asinine. I thank god every day that I don't feel the same way...and no, I'm not religious but you get the point.

The Ice Princess by Camilla Läckberg

Wow. That was fast.

I added this book to my library list when I read a blurb about it on USAToday (great iPhone app, BTW). It didn't take long for me to snag it so I decided to read it after I finished The Sorcerer's Stone.

I started Thursday evening and finished it yesterday. All ~400 pages.

It was soooo good. This fits the category of "page turner". I could not stop, nor did I want to stop, reading this book. I have found yet another author that I will find time to read the rest of her books.

This is another import from Sweden, an "Agatha Christie" type (ala Stieg Larsson), also set in Sweden. The description of the area is "spot on"...not spot on as in "Wow, I remember it just as she described" but spot on as in I have a very detailed vision of the countryside based on her amazing description in her novel.

[spoiler alert; stop here if you want to enjoy the book as I did, with very little knowledge of it]
The first page captured me right away: a first-person account of seeing a beautiful woman, an obsession, dead and half-frozen in a bathtub. These first-person accounts pepper most of the intros to each chapter (which are far and few between).

We soon meet several characters, the main being Erica. I love Erica. Erica is the second person who finds the beautiful frozen princess. She also happens to be the ex best childhood friend of the dead girl, Alex.

Erica is an author of biographies. She's a small town celebrity in her seaside town of Fjällbacka. But her home base is Stockholm and had to come back to Fjällbacka to settle the estate of her parents, who were killed in a car crash. She becomes, inadvertently, involved in the entire murder case...and meets an old classmate, Patrik, who is the lead investigator of the investigation.

The mystery, for me, is never really figured out until a bit towards the end. I don't know if it was because I was that dense, or because it is so rich in character development. She has sections on several people in the first-person and nearly every one of them is interesting to the core.

She also injects great humor in the story lines, that seem a bit unusual due to the nature of the story...but it absolutely worked 1000% (that's for you, Tim).

The end? It was excellent. While it almost wrapped everything up with a big bow, it still worked in a non-cheesy way. The best thing, to me, was that most, if not all, mysteries were solved and explained.

I am loving the Swedes. I have Girl with the Dragon Tattoo waiting for me (Tim's reading it now, so it may be awhile before I get to it) and my favorite movie of last year (that I can't stop telling people to watch) is Swedish.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Not a Pretty Run

Today's run was decent. I tweeted something about it not being pretty (to which my philosopher $Bill responded with "pretty is for models, runners prefer dirty") but I got the mileage in.

I got a late start because I love sleep, I love my bed, and I love to "be idle"...I like to check my mail, see facebook, look at my Words with Friends, read the news, yadda yadda yadda. I like to take my sweeeeeet time, especially before going to work or running. FYI: this drives my husband BATTY!

I decided to start near Shenck Forest and take the path into Umstead from there. This was a pretty good choice as I ran upwards for most of the route, except the wonderful downward trail towards the spillway. But that would be on the way back so that's another "person" and another "time". I'll let my other persona - person running the last 3.5 back - deal with that later. Anyway, going back would be less hilly. The bad thing that I didn't consider beforehand is: the trail back to Shenck Forest is not shaded so I was in the blazing late morning sun. That's my bad for starting out so late...

I did something I haven't done in years: I ran with my sports bra. I figured the morning tummy is a little flatter than the afternoon tummy and my water belt could shield a few things to passerbys. BTW, you men do it all the time, no matter what shape you are in, or how much hair you have hanging off your back, so why not? WHY THE FUCK NOT?! :)

I kept my pace slower than usual and started to feel bad about it until I became focused on my heart rate. I was running in the 160s initially and I couldn't believe it. I thought "I need to speed up that's too low of a heart rate!" but it really isn't. It is for me, on average, but I thought: why don't I try running at a lower heart rate? In fact, I just read about a young guy who died when trying out for track...they believe it was due to an elevated heart rate.

However, it is hard to run Umstead (the hills) and seven miles (for me, who is on a rapid training plan to up my mileage before my half in October) without elevating the heart rate. Throw in sunshine, heat and humidity and you can just be screwed. I did pretty good, kicking my heels up the S hill (I knew I would be running back down it :)) and inching at only 191. That may seem high to a lot of you but for me, that is usually my heart rate during an entire long run. I top 200s quite often.

Heading back for the last half I felt pretty weary. I think runners always question themselves: is my body weary or is it all mental? Either way, I took a few walk breaks. I decided to take on the long hill after passing the turn to the spillway and was in the zone when I heard an unusual amount of noise outside of my zone. I looked over and my BFFs Salman, Niki and Mark were there. I stopped to chat, where they are like "no, no no no! don't let us interrupt your run!" (they are runners too...we all know the spiel). I'm thinking to myself: are you fucking crazy? Do you see this stinking hill??? But instead I greeted them because it was indeed wonderful to see them...and their beautiful girls, Clare and Sofie.

It was a nice break. I found my second wind to finish off my seven miles...job well done, if I may say so myself.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Meet the Teacher #1

Today was MiMi's Meet the Teacher Day. Can you believe she starts second grade next week? SECOND GRADE.

There was a bit of drama before heading over to the school but we made it over in one piece. The promise of shopping for candy afterwards seemed to be the right medicine to healing.

The biggest concern for MiMi, at the end of last school year, was the fact that second grade is on the second floor and MiMi's not a big proponent of stairs and heights.

And of course, not only was her class on the second floor, but down a hall that is sort of a 'breezeway': open on both sides to see views of the gym and the library on the first floor. This is even more daunting for her, which gives me more ammo to worry about her.

But amazingly, she ended up having the teacher that she told me last school year that she wanted to have for second grade. BTW, CJ also got the 7th grade team she wanted to get on...how amazing is that?

Anyway, while we were at the school, CJ got to go back to see her previous teachers for 3rd grade and on. It is so fricking surreal to think about going to that school the first day for CJ, 3rd grade, and seeing the same teacher nearly four years later. How can this be?

We'll see how the next Meet the Teacher day goes; this one for CJ. But it's humbling for me with elementary school, since both my kids have memories set (and on-going) here.

"Human" ness

I heard about a friend of mine who got canned at work. It really made me very very sad.

And truly, anytime I hear about someone, even if I don't know them, and they are known to someone I know, it makes me sad.

I don't even need to know the circumstances. All I can think about is how the fired person's life is changed, in a bad way, forever. And for the moment, it will be one of the lowest point of their life for a little while.

This makes me feel sick.

I don't ever, ever, ever want to be in a position in which I decide someone's fate. Let's not make it too deep and go Krevorkian, but on the subject of work.

How does a firer sleep well at night? At least in the realm of work I, and people like me do, we aren't saving the world, curing cancer, or fighting the enemy. We're just regular joes in a regular job.

Yes, there are situations that I believe warrant firing: violence, threatening behavior, stealing, embezzeling, you know, those that are some of the 'deadly sins' of work 101.

BUT, overall, why do people fire people? When do you draw the line between being a good human and finding ways to solve an issue vs. throwing your hands up in the air because you don't like someone?

I am a person that believes in fixing things. That things *are* fixable in about 80% of the situations. I care for people. I empathize to the nth degree that I sometimes can't sleep at night, because I let someone else's pain - pain that I perceive - invade my brain. And I am a person that gets an empty, pit of pain in my stomach and in my heart, when I hear of someone being fired.

I won't sleep well tonight. Or for the next few days. And it will haunt me for awhile. But will the firers sleep well at night? My perception is yes. And that makes me more sad.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling

I decided, after seeing the trailer for the final Harry Potter movie: Harry Potter and the Deathly Gallows (in two parts, BTW), that I wanted to read the entire series before the movie.

That means reading all seven books by November, when part one comes out. This may not sound like a lot to my avid reader pals, but it does to me. Many of these books grew to be tomes!

I did read the first one, partially, when CJ was about two or thee years old. The HP phenomena was in full swing and I was curious as to what it was all about. A series of books that really, truly had children *and* adults excited about reading? This was too good to be true.

So I read, out loud, about half of the book to CJ. Reading out loud is not that easy, at least to me. I don't know how the audio book folks do it. I read it to myself to about the 3/4 mark and I put it away. Not because I didn't like it, in fact, I found it extraordinary. I was in disbelief that an author could be so imaginative and creative! But having a small child, at that time, was a bit overwhelming and I gave up reading books all together. Shocking to think that now, but that was a different person then. :)

I loved loved loved the reaction of my friend Ann when I told her about my HP book challenge. We were going to lunch and I saw puzzlement in her eyes, as she looked at me in the rear view mirror of her car..."How have you not read any of those?" It wasn't sarcastic or facetious. It was a legitimate statement of 'dumbfoundedness'. I laughed and just said 'i don't know'. Because the book is amazing.

So I decided to re-read it from the beginning. I knew the story pretty well from my last reading, and mostly, from the movie. I didn't get the "awe" feeling I got when I first read it but I am thoroughly excited about starting the second one, because I know it will be a new adventure to me. I don't remember the movies as well, just parts of it, and at some point, I didn't watch any of the movies because I just became "lost" in what was happening.

As most know, Harry Potter is an orphaned boy, relegated to living with his Aunt and her family. Aunt Petunia has pretty much disowned Harry's mom as her sister and she and her family are none too happy to have Harry live with them.

For years, he his mistreated and left to sleep in a closet under the staircase. Upon Harry's 11th birthday, the magic begins as he nears the age of attendance to the great Wizardry School, Hogwarts. However, Harry knows zero about his parent and their past, his past. We learn how Harry learns about who he is and what his parents did, and what the "he-who-should-not-be-named" Voldemort means in his life.

The other main characters we meet once Harry makes it to Hogwarts: Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. I looked up how to pronounce her name and J.K. (we are on a first name basis) states it is: Her - my - o - nee. I was soooo happy to read it correctly because I could never figure it out at my first reading of it, and never could understand what they called her in the movies.

I am not a fantasy-wizard type of reader. It just doesn't appeal to me. But HP is an amazing character, as well as the others in this novel. I am astounded at the talent that Rowling has to create the world, the people, the muggles :)...truly classic that will be read and re-read 100 years from now.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Maroon 5

CJ mentioned this past Thursday that Maroon 5 was coming to Raleigh and asked if we could go see them.

"When are they coming?"

"Next Tuesday."

What? Talk about being spontaneous.

I knew MiMi LOVED Maroon 5. I can't tell you how many times I hear it played on youtube (she plays the video over and over), or her singing it over and over (this I like). I've heard Misery so many times that I can't believe the album hasn't even been _released_ yet. I thought this song came out a year ago.

But now CJ claimed that this is one of her favorite bands. We own zero songs by them.

What the heck, I tell Tim, why not? We've seen bands we don't even like (i.e. Backstreet Boys). Finding cheap tickets would be the answer "not" answer.

Tickets from ticketmaster came up to ~$300 for four. I considered bowing out and letting Tim take CJ, but that left MiMi out, who I knew loved them just as much, if not more.

I looked at craigslist and they were being sold about 65 a pair; still too much for this concert, IMO. I looked at my work bulletin board...nothing.

So about 4PM this past Monday, I looked at the bulletin board one more time and lo and behold, four tickets for $15 each came up. I called, then emailed, and the person said I could have them and would I like to have her spare parking pass, she lives in a condo two blocks from the amphitheater.

Wow. I felt a little overwhelmed at her generosity. A total stranger offering a freebie for no reason other than the sense of community we have in our big little company.

So we did it and made it to the extremely humid concert, outdoor arena. Opening act was V.B. Brown. I had a free song from her that I got off iTunes "Shark in the Water". She was pretty good live. I didn't like the song but she sings well. Tim became suspicious of whether she was lip-syncing, she was that good.

Next up?

Kris Allen.

Who you ask?

Kris Allen. The dude that won last year's American Idol competition.

The guy I wasn't rooting for.

He sucked. If he has an album out, it's an album of cover tunes because that's what he played. The girls couldn't stand him either.

One of my babysitter extraordinaire, Crystal, found us and gave us a warm hello, with her equally beautiful sister Heather. They hadn't even heard of the dude. :)

Finally, Maroon 5 makes it on stage. The girls scream crazy for Adam Levine. Tim and I get into a debate on how tall he is (I win :)).

I knew a handful of their songs based on radio airplay, as well as MiMi airplay. They are pretty catchy but nothing I would run to. I liked Adam from a stint he did on Saturday Night Live. He doesn't look like a "fun" guy...just a serious front man for a popular band.

But I was wrong.

He was pretty funny and he did an excellent job of keeping the crowd alive and engaged. A very good user experience :).

They sounded amazing. For not knowing any of their songs, I loved every thing I heard. I did a lot of boogey-oogey-oogeying.

Overall, a great big two thumbs up. I wouldn't say I was a fan, but I will: I'm a fan. The music is fine; the sportsmanship a 10++.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Lily Dale

Ever heard of Lily Dale?

Me neither.

But it's an interesting little community in New York State. I learned a bit about it in HBO's documentary No One Dies in Lily Dale.

It's a fun little documentary to watch: a township known for it's large population of mediums. Yes, mediums as in spiritualists, seers, psychics...those that communicate with the dead.

For the most part, I didn't get a lot of "wow" moments, with the scenes of those who were trying to communicate with their loved ones on "the other side". As usual, there were a lot of vague comments that surprisingly, the visitors would say "that was spot on".

Things like 'she was in pain and anguish over what she did'; 'she doesn't blame you'; 'he wants you to know he's happy', 'he wants you to know he loves you'. And the people would be like "wow! she is spot on!" All heard things that gave a happy ending.

There were a couple of almost "wow's". One scene has the pink lady (forgot her name, but she loves pink) telling a father -- who lost his young son in a gang shooting...his son was an innocent bystander -- that the son was telling her about all the trinkets they left in the coffin. The father said this was a ritual that he and his family did, back from the Egyptian days, of leaving trinkets in the coffin. That was pretty good.

The same woman told a fellow medium about her messages about 'Jeffrey' or 'Jeff', which was the names of her ex-boyfriend and her son (btw, both living).

But nothing else in the documentary comes close to those specifics. In fact, at least two different women felt that there was no validity behind their readings (from the same medium too).

It was still amazing to see this little township. It was beautiful, to say the least. It looked, to me, like a sleepy little township by the beach of NC or SC...not even close to any place I could imagine existing in New York State.

Most of the mediums in the town are much older, like a retirement community. They love their animals, and they roll around in golf carts, but apparently, this is the mecca for anyone who is aware of Lily Dale's reputation for being the 'vortex of spirituality'.

I somewhat believe that this stuff can happen: communicating with the dead (remember, I'm not an atheist; Tim is). It's hard to grow up in the Philippines, in the heart of Catholic spirituality and superstitious beliefs, and not believe that there is _something_.

But I tend to be more skeptic as to who could really do this...as well as pretty freaked out about it. I have been spooked by any type of fortune telling of any kind since the 5th grade, when an odd girl in my class read my palm. She freaked me out and I have never forgotten what she said to me...it haunts me today. She was probably making the shit up, but she was one of those freaky girls and at the time, I didn't believe it until she read my palm. So to this day, I have zero desire to have any kind of reading, tarot, palm, crystal ball, blah blah.

But the skeptic in me is that the readings tend to always be the same. I watched a few episodes of Crossing Over with John Edward and he said the same things as the folks in Lily Dale did...and they are always very upbeat and positive. The happy ending to a fairy tale. It's a good thing, I think, for the people who seek some sort of closure. I don't believe it's that harmful...fork over $60 buck for someone to tell you that your loved one is not just dust in the wind, but someone who now is happy and follows you around in spirit.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

What a Circus

Yesterday I decided to give Circus Family Restaurant a try with the girls.

It's one of those places that everyone knows about as a landmark...like "where's this place?" 'Oh, it's right next to the Circus place', or 'it's right across the street from that Circus place...' So I decided to finally give it a try.

It's a very small place and is generally a grill: burgers and hot dogs and french fries. They also included milkshakes and floats but alas, no vegetarian options.

The atmosphere is a throwback in time and place. The people behind the counter didn't look like the typical "Cary" folk, nor did the patrons. There were a few older folks who reminded me of people I knew in the mid-West. It was such a surreal experience, in one regard: I walked into the restaurant and I was no longer in Cary.

I enjoyed an old fashioned hot dog (spicy) "all the way". I never knew old fashioned hot dogs were spicy.

CJ had a burger. MiMi had french fries. The fries were pretty good; just the shoestring variety that I remember eating as a teenager.

The best was my root beer float in a big styrofoam cup; the girls enjoyed milkshakes each.

It was cramped, eating there and of course, I felt a little like we stood out. Then to top off my strange 'twilight zone' feeling, in walks two teens and a slightly older guy.

The teen boy was in a wife-beater (I love this word...) with a cigarette tucked behind his ears, and a crude tattoo glaringly displayed on his arm.

The teen girl was in basketball shorts, tank and flip-flops. I noticed later that she held a ziploc bag of ice on her arm.

The 'normal' dude was in golf-like gear but despite his guise, they all were very suspicious. I thought I was in an episode of Cops in a trailer park.

The girl was very loud: "babe...I used to come here as a kid. Hey babe...did you hear me? Babe?"

The older person would be babe. I assumed the wife-beater wearing teen was her brother?

Babe would pay very little mind to flip-flop girl.

But she continued to talk loudly. "They have great burgers. I remember that." Now she reminds me of an episode of Intervention.

She continues to babble and eats her corn dog when the phone rings and suddenly, normal dude leaves the table, toting his food. He comes back in for the ketchup.

Then wife-beater leaves after normal dude and flip-flop girl is left all alone, eating her corn dog, looking extremely sad...shifting the bag of ice on her arm...which I am trying to see what happened.

I'm not comfortable *at all* with these people. The owner of the restaurant looks like he could take on normal dude. I'm trying to figure out how I can take her out and protect the older ladies in one corner, and my girls in the other corner.

Finally, she finishes her dog and leaves. She gives a loud but earnest "Thank you" to the owners and is gone.

Whew. I didn't have to take off my shoes and earrings and start pulling hair. All is safe.

Until...we leave and get outside. I immediately hear her screaming at normal dude. I can't see her. I see him in one car, and I assume she must be in the other car next to his. And she is just screaming "Quit talking about me!!! I KNOW YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT ME!!!" I mean SCREAMING.

I hurry the kids in the car and drive off. Glad to be out of that situation. I have no idea what the situation was but man, it was suspect from the get-go.

And I'm still in awe that any of that every occurred. A step back in time...would I dare give it another try? Another bite at Circus?

Which, BTW, was pretty good grill food. And the people working there were pleasant. The owner, after flip-flop girl asked him how long they'd been there, said they've owned the restaurant since 1968 but the building was there at least two years before he bought it.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Last American Cowboy

Don't ask how I find these shows.

I read a lot.

Not just books but web articles.

And somewhere in a web article, I read about this show "Last American Cowboy". When i read something positive about a show, I just go right to the web and through UVerse, add it to my DVR queue.

Last American Cowboy is a very somber and amazing reality show. It's not a reality show like Survivor, but more like a documentary.

The show follows three Montana cattle farms and the way the owners make their lifestyle work. One family is young, a husband-father, who is the son of the man who owns the farm, trying to take care of the farm *on his own* with two young children to be a father for.

On the other side, there is one family where the owner can follow it by his own *helicopter*. You would think ths man would be an asshole, having enough money to own his own fricking helicopter, yet this is the man who brings "interns" to work on his farm...and came up with a quote that I will never forget, and becomes part of my own philosophy:
You can be tough, but you don't have to be mean.

The third family suffers from a tragic accident, that leaves the son of the cattle owner in critical condition...and they follow the challenge that family goes through to get through their work and their days.

It is a great show for people in my field to see: that there are people who work much harder than us office folk, with more at risk, and expect pay once, maybe twice a year.

Amazingly, as Tim and I watch this together...the more I see the difference in our outlooks. I see the young cattle rancher's wife as "what the fuck did I get in to?" where Tim sees this as "wow. if i were younger, I would do this".

My Chick Bad

I am really bummed that the YouTube videos for So You Think You Can Dance will no longer allow me to embed the videos into my blog posts. tsk. tsk.

But this season has been full of amazing dances, especially from Lauren. One of the ones that blew me away is this one, with Lauren and Twitch. Wish I could embed it, but all I can provide is a link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6XJVyn9x5BI&feature=related

It's Our Anniversary

The title is based on a song by Tony Toni Tone that I heard years ago...and I think of it every year my anniversary comes around. It's so not me, in music, but I do like it. I don't know why because it isn't a great song but it does something for me.

So yesterday Tim and I celebrated our wedding anniversary. Do you know what year we celebrated? Guess? Twenty-two. You heard me right: 22. Actually, twenty-two doesn't sound so bad to me...but when we celebrate "20", it sounded bad. Not bad, in like 'OMG. I can't stand him. Couldn't for 20 years.' But more like "20 fucking years, really?" where did time go? I've been with him for that long??

Anyhoo - the best part of celebrating that many years is celebrating with kids.

I got three cards from my kids: two from my natural born; the third from one of my best "other" daughters, Kierra (CJ's BFF).

I tried to scan these in but because of 'technical issues', I haven't been able to...so here is a summarized version of my wonderful cards:
You are the greatest "other" parents I have! You've been together long, and I hope you're together for-ever! I love you guys & hope your anniversary is very special.

CJ's:
Happy Anniversary Mother and Father!
Hope this one is the bestest of your 22 years!
I know the last 12 years have been miserable because of me but...
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY. YOU GUYS!

And then there's MiMi's, that makes me laugh adoringly:
You are a great Mom! I hope u and Daddy never Devorse!! :) You work very hard.

Roses r red
Violets are blue
I hope u guys
have a great Afternoon!

And for your information, MiMi is in love with Joaquin Phoenix, since watching The Village and then, Signs. She told me "when you and Daddy divorce, will you marry Joaquin Phoenix?"

Yes, MiMi. I will marry Joaquin Phoenix.

The things I will do for my kids. :)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I Got Nothin'

There are a couple of books that I have read in the past that I wanted to remember.

The first is Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. It is now a major motion picture that is getting a lot of buzz and will open the BFI London Film Festival.

I didn't much care for the book. I remember that much. Well, and I remember what it was about , which basically was: the raising of children-to-adulthood mainly for the purpose of organ donation.

But I wanted to find out what about the book I didn't like and as I re-read my book review, I thought: WTF? I wrote _nothing_. Not one single thing about my "book review" is a review. I write "I am purposely being vague because I really don't want to ruin it for anyone..." Well, that was dumb. I was insanely vague and now, have no means to figure out why the movie bombed for me. Well, fortunately, I have enough memory to remember the overall gist of it and why it didn't work for me. But details after the moment I read it would have been nice.

Then I read a synopsis of Laura Lippman's new book I'd Know You Anywhere. This sounds chilling, where a woman is re-connected with the death row inmate who brutally assaulted and kidnapped her when she was a young child. I knew I had read one of her books before and it was in the same genre: something bad happening in childhood.

So I found that book review, What the Dead Know. This review is even worse than the Never Let Me Go! I write that I like 90% of it and the end threw me off but there was a twist and the mystery was revealed. WHAT MYSTERY? WHAT TWIST? I CAN'T REMEMBER AND NOW I WANT TO KNOW!!

I knew I was a bad book reviewer. I knew I was changing my format shortly after these shitty reviews and providing more information. I definitely will keep this in mind for the future. Spoilers abound. I need more information.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Big Foot

The past few runs, I have noticed that my feet have swelled beyond capacity in my running shoes.

I couldn't figure out what had happened to them. The horrid heat managed to make my feet as big as big fat kielbasas? It was extremely uncomfortable to have my big fat sausages stuffed into two thimbles that were my sneakers.

So this past weekend, I decided to take out my orthotics and just run without the inserts. As I took out what I thought was my orthotic, I realized it was the insert to the shoe. Apparently, CJ, who had borrowed my shoes recently, had put the inserts into the shoe...*on top* of the orthotics. Whew. I was beginning to wonder if I was pregnant or retaining *a lot* of water, the former being really disturbing as Tim has been, you know, neutered.

Now I have a nail digging into my toe. The middle toe nail apparently is too long and is being shoved into the fourth toe while running.

Today I did Interval Training with a lot of jumping and all I could feel was the damn toenail digging into my poor toe. Lauren kept yelling at us to go fast, jump high, work hard, and I kept thinking about my poor little toe...well, not thinking, but feeling the pain! I was a trooper though...and worked out despite my pain. :)

Monday, August 09, 2010

The Kids Are All Right

It ended up that I had our babysitter set up for this past Saturday night. I had asked her some time ago if she could be available for a night when I wanted to go to the comedy club but instead of asking for the "28th", I asked her for the 8th...which we then decided I meant the 7th, since that was a Saturday.

It was only when I was reminded by her that she would be over this past Saturday that I figured out my mistake. So Tim and I decided we would take advantage of it and have a "spontaneous" night out.

We had no real plans so the evening turned out so much better than anticipated, as we really did just do things on a whim.

First stop was, can you guess? Hayes Barton Cafe. I looked for something else, as Tim said he was willing to try something different, but I couldn't pass up an evening out our favorite place. It is still amazing and it seems that our cute waitress at the "bar" is with child. A beautiful mom-to-be, if I may say so...

Next? Movie at The Rialto. How coincidental after my rant on blockbuster movie stars.

The Rialto in Raleigh, for those not familiar with our little "township", is a locally owned theater built in 1942 that showcases foreign and independent movies. It is an amazing theater, in an area called "Five Points", which is right across the street from Hayes Barton. It's pretty cool to eat at a 40s themed restaurant, then head over to The Rialto for a movie. They serve beer and wine, so it's an even more extraordinary place to watch a great movie.

We decided to check out its showing of The Kids Are Alright. The premise, of course, was 'politically correct' matter: a lesbian couple raising two children meet their sperm donor.

I had expectations that it would be a good movie to watch...perhaps some political motivations. And I'm OK with those political motivations, FWIW. I support gay marriage, gay lifestyle and gay people (single or married) raising children. I LOVE GAY PEOPLE!

But instead of getting what I expected, I got an amazingly warm, funny and unpredictable story line. It was quite funny. And even with megastars Annette Bening and Julianne Moore, I was overwhelmed with emotion.

BTW, FWIW, I see these two megastars as more indie, and *quality*, than in the realm of Julia Roberts and her signature-overblown laugh (which is in Eat Pray Love...Pretty Woman...Ocean's 11...etc. etc. Are you watching a character or are you just watching Julia Roberts pretending to be a character?)

I have, as I did last year, been very emotional about acquaintances, or my friends kids, going off to college. They are so excited (the kids) about this new adventure in their life...much sought independence...being on their own...and I think that those parent are thinking the same, except the opposite emotion: sadness.

Of course, they could be very much excited, but for me, relating to my own children, even my own life (leaving home when I was 19), I feel so sad.

And in the movie, with all the other story lines going on, one major story line was their daughter leaving for college. The movie ends with them dropping her off and I just boo-hoo'd like crazy.

I had brought CJ's jacket with me, in case I got cold, and instead, it became the biggest hanky I ever had. And I needed every bit of it to collect the tears that shed from my eyes.

I loved this movie. So fun. So warm. So charming. I didn't much care for the amount of emotion it brought to me...mainly because that kind of emotion just hurts my soul. But if you are not as emotionally vulnerable as I am, you may not have the same effect. :)

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Mad World

On a song kick for blog posts...

Mad World by Tears for Fears is another fricking amazing song. The lyrics are chilling and it was after Donnie Darko (a great movie, BTW) that I really listened to the words in this song. It's one of my all time favorites and it gave me a new found respect for a pop 80s band that I didn't really like or hate.

It's hard to believe that this "pop 80s" song, originally released by Tears for Fears in 1982 (thank you wikipedia):


is the same song as this, which, IMO - and no disrespect to Tears for Fears, because this song would not be one of the best ever without these lyrics - makes it so fucking lusciously hauntingly dark:


I am sure if I go through my iTunes library, I will find a happy song to blog about...

Kids Text the Darnest Things...

My little MiMi loves to text me while I am at work. Sometimes she'll call but I have told them before that I am in meetings a lot, so text me first to find out if I am.

So Thursday, this is how my "conversation" went with MiMi (MM) in the morning:

MM: hows u goin
Me: I am fine hows it going for you?
MM: Good, watchin corline
Me: woohoo!
MM: Yeh

MM: Mommy ur about to get the special massage
Me: Wow! I feel so special!!!
MM: Yeh cj was mean but we got to see how nice dad is
Me: Hahaha
MM: R u bout go in u now what
Me: What do u mean?
MM: MEETING!¡¡ (I don't know how she gets the spanish exclamations in her text.)
Me: No i dont have anything until 2PM
MM: Kay good :)

MM: Hi girl, Hows r u?¿¿ (again with the spanish punctuation!)
Me: U r funny
MM: I want to be vegitairian
Me: Cool u almost are u dont like steak but u have to give up bacon and chicken not so hard to do for you i think
MM: I actually dont like those either
me: Wow! Well i will do my best to make sure we have a veggie alternative for u when i make dinner!! i support you!
MM: I'M A VEGGIE TARIAN!!!¡¡¡¿¿¿¿?????
Me: Cool

The above was my morning conversation. This became my afternoon conversation:

Me: On my way (home)
MM: Kay

MM: Where r u

me: In my car
MM: I mean what dr

Me: I am on edwards mill road near the laurel hills park

MM: Is that really close
Me: Yes but now i am by the mall so i am closer


And that was pretty much the end of that conversation. For the most part, this one had more substance than they usually do.

But she seems to be pretty happy about labeling herself a "veggie tarian". She proclaimed herself that several times that evening.

She even told me that she was giving up chicken McNuggets from McDonald's, which is one of her favorite meals. I said "Oh yeah. What will you get now from McDonald's? You could still get french fries." She responded quite confidently "They have veggie burgers."

So we'll see where the vegetarianism goes. It could be successful for her, since she does not tend to like much meat. I think tacos and McNuggets are the only meaty things she eats but she has never liked steak and I tend to make something else for her when we have our steak dinners.

The only caveat is that CJ *is* a meat eater and declares she has "steak senses". One of her BFFs is a vegetarian and I remember her questioning her one day, asking her "You don't miss bacon??" It's a concept she can't fathom right now. :)

I am pretty thrilled for her.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Not With the "In" Crowd

I loved this article from USA Today, which outlines where movie story lines are attracting more movie goers this summer, vs. A-list actors.

This is exactly how I have felt for some time. Probably a little before Ocean's 11 came out, I was already getting sick of the overblown, overly star studded movies with all the A-listers. But Ocean's 11 and the subsequent overblown production of its sequels and the overblown egos of the actors just simply pissed me off.

Seeing the posters and previews for Ocean 11 (12 and 13) just raised my ruffles. They all look so glib: Look at us! You love us! And we make a lot of money! And we are so popular that you'll watch us in anything! We are sooooo cool!

Ugh.

So, similar to my Anti-Starbuck's sentiment, I am anti-superstar. I like the no-name to low-name folks in movies.

I also prefer a story line, which overblown productions, like Avatar, Titanic, and its like, do not have. I prefer "indies" but I hate to say that because that became 'vogue'. In essence, I would rather see a movie showing at The Rialto or The Colony because the major theaters don't spend their money on these movies.

The hoopla over the release of Eat, Pray Love makes my skin crawl. A decent book, not one of my favorites, mind you, but not bad...but once I learned Julia Roberts would be starring in it? I give a big "fuck you" to them.

I still haven't seen Up in the Air because I can't stand George Clooney.

And while I did watch, and enjoy, Inglorious Basterds, I did it more for Tim than wanting to see Brad Pitt overact in yet another overblown story (it didn't fall into my overblown category as much as it falls into my quirk Quentin Tarantino category).

I'm strange. I find passion in some of the strangest things. This is one of them. I don't like you A-listers. But fortunately for them, there's enough people in the world who don't think like me.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

I'm a Creep

I love this song, written and first sung by Radiohead.

It's on one of our Guitar Hero games and I have it on my iPod. The song and the lyrics are one of the most amazing of all time. Much like the lyric in the song "Your skin makes me cry", this song makes me 'cry', it's so haunting. I remember watching one of those VH1 specials about the best songs ever and Flea (from Red Hot Chile Peppers) talked about the first time he heard it, with that single guitar chord strummed before Thom Yorke proclaims "I'm a creep...I'm a werido..." I knew exactly what he was talking about...

And now, there is the upcoming movie The Social Network that uses this song in an amazing way:


I looked it up and the song from the movie is sung by the Swedish Vega Choir. I love their rendition just as much as Radiohead, which includes the original f-bomb :):


And I want to see the movie now, all because of the song and how they used it in their trailer.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer

I decided to pick this one up after having lunch with a couple of my book club friends who decided we read this and meet up for lunch to discuss...a tangent book club, you could say. Despite being on the library waiting list at a fairly large number, I managed to get it quickly.

This novel covers the story of Bree Tanner, a young 15 year old "newborn" vampire that is introduced to Twilight fans in Eclipse.

If you haven't read the Twilight series, or this novella, and you don't want to know anything about it, then don't read on as I will spoil it for you.

In Eclipse, Bree Turner is the vampire that Bella looks at as herself in the future. Bella knows she wants to be turned (as a vampire) and she understands that newborns are unrestrained and for the most part, uncontrollable. So Bree appears this way to Bella and she is anxious.

But also, the Cullens want to help Bree because she is so young; they want to nurture her and "adopt" her to live with them. But the Volturi show up and show no sympathy for her and kill her.

So this novella is extremely interesting - and innovative, IMO - because we know what happens to Bree in the end. But instead, Meyer shows us Bree as a "person" and we know how she thinks, how she reacts to things, and how she is dealing with her newborn status. The really cool part is when we go back to the time we meet her in Eclipse, when Bella and the Cullens meet her. It's almost like being "behind the scenes", and seeing the whole story in a whole different light.

A very nice, enjoyable novella that still makes me think Meyer can give her fans books that are so "outside of the box". The very opposite of my last book, Little Earthquakes.

Little Earthquakes by Jennifer Weiner

This book was my book club's second choice after dumping The Devil in the White City. While I read it and loved it, I do admit that it's not an easy read.

The story eventually surprised me, as I expected "fluff" books to be more about romance. There were elements of romance that were very brief but the overall story is about four women and their lives as new moms. But it was an engaging story that I looked forward to reading.

The stories the women had about their babies and their husbands were hilarious and maddening. It reminded me of my own life as a new mom (for both of my children) and how tired I was; how exhausting taking care of a newborn is. When they say it gets easy, it really does. Reading about these women with their newborns made me *so* thankful that I was out of that phase. Sure, my kids give me hardship in other ways but no way close to the hardship of a newborn.

The husband stories were funny too. The fact that men seemed to ding out as fathers reminded me of my own situation, although in all fairness, mothers tend to set dads up for failure. We deem ourselves as doing EVERYTHING and do everything anyway without ever asking for help...or asking for help at the wrong time. It's just so easy to get pissed at the husband vs. the child.

And while I enjoyed 90% of the book, the end left me with "eh". It ended with a nicely tied bow: happily ever after. The worst mother-in-laws were now tolerable; a cheating husband forgiven. Life goes one merrily after all.

I'm not sure if I'd read another Weiner book because of that end but I did enjoy this one.