Thursday, July 31, 2008

Can't Blog... Reading...


as some of you may know, I am a tiny bit... shall we say... obsessive when I read - so there will be no laundry done or food prepared on Saturday because Stephenie Meyer's new book is being released...  it is my guilty pleasure and I'm not going to hide it anymore.  For crying out loud, Mitt Romney will be reading it too!  Just in case you aren't DYING to read it, here are a few of the quotes coming in the new book:
(Oh S - you didn't want to see these...  yeah, just ignore my blog today!)

"I've seen vampire venom work miracles, but there are conditions that even venom cannot overcome"  (Carlisle)  What's with this one... who's in a "condition", and is it what we (I) expect?

"Over my pile of ashes"  (Rosalie)  That one just cracked me up... doesn't reveal much, but it was too funny to leave out.

"Ah, Edward.  I've missed you." (Tanya)  No way... I don't much like this girl (despite her nearly cool name) so I'm not looking forward to her being in the story.

"You're awfully small to be so hugely irritating."  (Edward) ...I think I've actually heard this one before... more than once in my life :)

Okay, there are lots more posted at stepheniemeyer.com if you need more reasons to join me in NOT getting any real work done Saturday!  
"saturday is a special day, it's the day we get ready for... oh, whoops...  I guess I'll be getting ready Friday instead!"

UPDATE:  Okay, bought the book at 10:30 this morning and just finished...  and for those of you who haven't finished I will keep my opinion to myself for now... I just have to say one thing...  Renesmee?  really...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Need I say more?

Okay, so best as I can figure some unwritten rule exists about some person named Nell who "ozed"?  Maybe they should have just picked up a "Keep Out" sign at WalMart.

I feel bad for the poor sap who had this sign printed - but I feel worse for the pathetic guy who actually printed it!  Even the most archaic word processing programs have some sort of spell check - and really... Unauthorozed?  ugh, and me with no marker on hand... okay, I might not have tried to fix this one since two lifeguards were stationed within two feet of it... I do have my pride even if they don't.

FYI - in case you were wondering - it's the skyline pool.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Everyone has a book in them...

As I was reading a book yesterday one of the characters mentioned the cliche that "everyone has a book in them" - the character wasn't so sure it was true... personally I'm sure everyone has a STORY in them, but a book... well, frankly the thought of reading a book written by some people I can think of just scares me to death!  

So here's the deal - if you had a book in you - what would it be about?  What would the title be... or hey, if some author already stole the book in you before you had a chance to write it yourself, what book was it?

Myself, I'm pretty sure my book is a bunch of short stories with promising beginnings - I'm never very good at sticking with a story to the end.  I'd probably have a good mix of teen angst (but no romance) and parental idiocy... Kind of a Roald Dahl and Jerry Spinelli blend (though they would both groan if they read that!)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Things They Don't Teach You in School

According to the shirts the boys got for the new school year:

Recycling one glass jar saves enough energy to watch TV for 3 hours
During your lifetime, you'll eat about 60,000 pounds of food
No piece of square dry paper can be folded in half more than 7 times
Over 2,500 left-handed people a year are killed using products made for right-handed people
There are more than 10 million bricks in the Empire State Building
Chewing gum while peeling onions will keep you from crying
Camels have three eyelids to protect them from blowing sand
A quarter has 119 grooves on its edge, a dime has one less groove
The Earth weighs around 6,600,000,000,000,000,000,000 tons
Owls are one of the only birds that can see the color blue
A lump of pure gold the size of a matchbox can be flattened into a sheet the size of a tennis court
You're born with 300 bones, but only have 206 when you are an adult
A giraffe can clean its ears and eyes with its 18-inch tongue 
A sneeze travels out your mouth at over 100 m.p.h.
Your heart beats over 100,000 times a day
Bats always turn left when exiting a cave
The world's termites outweigh the world's humans 10 to 1
Rice paper has no rice in it
A "jiffy" is an actual unit of time for 1/100th of a second
If you counted 24 hours a day, it would take 31,688 years to reach one trillion
It is impossible to lick your elbows
Girls blink almost twice as much as boys
"The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" uses every letter of the alphabet
There are more chickens than people in the world
"Sixth sick sheik's sixth sheep's sick" is said to be the hardest tongue twister
No words rhyme with month, orange, or purple
Tigers have striped skin, not just striped fur
It's impossible to sneeze with your eyes open
The average chocolate bar has 8 insect legs in it
A sheet of newspaper can't be folded in half more than 9 times

That's it, don't you feel more educated now?  I will certainly never say "be with you in a jiffy" with the same laissez faire attitude again!

Monday, July 21, 2008

We are Family...

As most of my readers already know (because they were there), the last few days were spent at a family reunion.  Before anyone groans you should know that this was actually a lot of fun and a chance for the 41 (soon to be 42) cousins to hang out and get to know one-another!

Here they are getting to know which one of them can successfully fold and fly a paper airplane... turns out that none of us are future aerospace engineers.  The masses also engaged in many other fun and entertaining activities - and many yummy meals!  All in all it was a very successful, mildly fattening, and slightly tiring weekend which we would happily repeat (in about a years' time!)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Comparison Shopping...

I am feeling a little flummoxed (hmmm... that may be the first time I've written that word in my entire life) here - I was off shopping yesterday for some cotton balls and pom-pons (you'll see why at the reunion, unless you're the other side of the family, then you'll just have to ask) and while browsing the shelves for things on my "wouldn't it be nice" list I noticed a few glaring price differences between the stores I was at.  
Example one - the Fairy Alphabet Set (it's all scrapbook stuff here guys - if you don't care, just scroll on down) that I thought my girls would enjoy making stuff with - at Robert's it's listed at $44 - yikes, even with a 50% off coupon I don't want to pay that!  So, 1/2 an hour later at Michael's I check the same product - $15, and so using a 40% coupon I happily bought the girls a reading prize that will buy me some free time!  (I checked online, it's around $15 at the reasonable places... and it's one of those things I don't trust getting used on e-bay)

next up: the Hippie Chick Alphabet (yes, it's the entire alphabet - I just figured you could use your imagination to see how utterly cool these letters could look in my scrapbook).  First look was at Robert's - $44... go figure, because these dies are way more durable and much bigger than the little kids ones... but there it is, the same price.  Then we're off to Michael's - $75 bucks?  Online - $56...   I picked it up at Robert's with a 50% off coupon for $22 and was happy.
Lesson I will be taking away from all of this - well, first off, I NEED to learn the difference between Needs and Wants obviously because this is sounding way too worldly of me - but secondly I will certainly be doing more comparison shopping before getting burned - is everything out there priced so wacky?  I never buy anything that's more than $10 at Robert's or Michael's without using a 40 or 50% off coupon...  I am obviously not their favorite customer :)

And WHY may I ask are such obvious chick-magnets like craft stores named after guys?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A lot of hype... ?

We decided that for FHE we would enjoy the newest pool in the area - it looks fun doesn't it?  Because we are inherently cheap, err... "frugal" - we waited for the $2 off discount entry that occurs after 7:00.  I was still annoyed about paying the Non-Resident price since that particular town in a stone's throw from our back porch (literally).  The pool has been much discussed around town and everyone seems to love it.  Myself - well, I think the lifeguards are a little whistle happy... Really guys - the kids are RIGHT in front of you and aren't in danger, they just need to move out of the slide splash down area and frankly - they keep ignoring your whistle, they have no idea that it's being blown for their benefit and hey, you're going to have to talk to them anyway, so just talk and let the other 7 whistles per minute be responsible for my earache.  I was quite grateful for the fact that all of my children are now potty-trained - even if that did mean running M into the ladies room - this 3 layers of protection thing seems a little over the top.  Speaking of our run to the ladies' locker room... I'm all for modesty in locker rooms and all that, but there is a downside.  Being that every shower stall and changing stall has the exact same door on it as the toilet stalls - it took a few minutes and some quick thinking to get to the stall that had the necessary equipment for our needs.  I felt a little foolish pushing open so many doors (none of which had people behind them thank goodness).   The splash features were an awful lot of fun for the little ones - even though the amount of water that poured down on us at one point was quite surprising - and kept them entertained for the entire hour and a half.  The older ones had less to do than at other pools - but seemed to enjoy themselves nonetheless - the slide was a little claustrophobic I hear (not my thing).  I'm sure we'll go back on occasion, but as for getting a years' pass... not gonna happen!

Monday, July 14, 2008

All the other things we did...

Okay - it was a little bit of a crazy week - so you just get a general re-cap (because otherwise I'd never get around to all these TAGs flying around)
Last Sunday I had a weird moment at church - this lady sat behind our family and I spent the whole meeting (at least when I wasn't wholly focussed on testimonies) wondering where on earth I knew her from...  3 hours and some later when at home I got a phone call that put that question to rest - she's a master of the scrapbook and a personal guru (Lisa Bearnson) and I felt a little silly that I didn't recognize her - though maybe that was good because I would have felt even more silly introducing myself to her and asking her to autograph my CTR 7 manual :).  I did however go and visit her blog and apologize for my children who I'm sure kept her from paying much attention to the meeting - her response was very gracious and restored my faith in humanity (or at least my faith that my children will someday be human)
Monday was a lot of fun - well, parts of it were.  I attended my first PTA meeting for the new school year (too early!), this one was for the Intermediate School and actually turned out to be an enjoyable meeting, despite the fact that it took way too long.  I think I will like the new principal and W will do well at the school - I suggested a new fund-raiser that we are going to be doing... I won't give it all away but it involves over a thousand rubber duckies :)  
That night for Family Night we had a pie-eating contest... the .58 variety at WalMart worked for most of the family, but there are a few that stuck with moon pies even though they took longer to eat (all that marshmallowey goodness)!

Tuesday we mostly stayed home during the day - M was of course only interested in playing with her friends and I enjoyed watching them writing their names, their siblings' names, and then arguing about their parents' names... "hey, M O M spells MY mom!"
Tuesday night was also pack meeting, new scouts, boy scouts, and EQ meeting - so while Q dealt with the oldest two and their transportation needs - I packed up the younger ones and their swim gear and headed back to the water park where I got nicely crisp earlier in the summer.  Luckily we spent less than two hours and were home in time for... whatever it was the kids were watching while I zoned.

Wednesday was a Luncheon for the Treehouse Museum Committee - it was encouraging and stressful at the same time... after Monday's Pie Eating contest I was TRYING to eat only healthful foods - luckily someone had supplied a fruit plate while I single-handedly demolished :)  After that meeting was over (and a quick library visit) I read my night away.  Oh - which brings me to mention something from Tuesday...  I had received a few e-mails regarding my book review and I was talked into a whole new blog experience - so check it out if you want, the link is on the side bar somewhere.  I'm open to guest reviews if anyone has anything!!

Thursday was all about insurance - well, at least the first few hours were - a home health nurse came by to give Q and I quick once overs for our new life insurance... and hopefully we'd been good enough to our bodies that we won't be turned down!

Friday - that began the camping...
getting everything ready wasn't too terrible, H wasn't too keen on going, but she was a trooper about it and we got there and set up with nary a worry... Just as we were thinking about starting a fire to cook up the tin-foil dinners we notice a cloud moving in...  Po predicted we had 40 minutes, and he was pretty close after all, but we ate ham and cheese sandwiches in the safety of the tent.  The brand new tent mind you that hadn't been rain tested yet and had a few seam issues...  so while it wasn't disastrous, I would beg of you to please use seam sealant PRIOR to putting 7 people in a tent for the night!

Saturday we woke up and did a little fishing... although I think the fish would have called it Fish Observing...  they were there, they were swimming right in front of us, but they had no interest in rubber caterpillars, fake grasshoppers, or even the many real dragonflies that were sacrificed to the cause.  We then did a little hiking (very little) and headed for home - despite the protests of M, who wanted to keep going.

Once we were home Q found out that he was going to have to take over and speak in 2 wards on Sunday...  Being the supportive wife that I am I said that once we got the kids all bathed I would help him write the talk... and promptly fell asleep.  I don't even remember H getting done with her shower...  maybe I helped most by staying out of the way because Q did a great job.

Sunday - Okay, church is only 3 hours right... sometimes it feels like 6.  I answered an amazing number of silly questions from 6 and 7 year olds - and somewhere in there I'm sure someone learned something.  I learned that constant entertainment while desirable to the average child is virtually impossible.  I also learned that my children DO have the capacity to sit still for more than 3 minutes if their father is speaking from the pulpit!

Today... well folks, I'm still wearing my Tinkerbell pajamas and I'm on laundry load #4 - making sure that tonight's swimming adventures will go off without a hitch - and updating all of this blog stuff... isn't that enough - remember that constant entertainment is not really possible!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

And The Winner Is....

Okay - first off - everyone should know that this was done with the utmost of fairness!  

The names were all transferred to identical 3X5 cards... See, there's your name, right there.














Neatly folded in 1/2 and placed in a large play drum (the only hat we could find was too small for all these big cards)














An innocent bystander (still waking up) who can't read well yet was chosen to draw out the name, which she did too quickly for photographic evidence that her arm went in, swished the papers around - and selected one...














This one.














Zanbabe will have to e-mail me with a preferred mailing address - since I know she's soon to be on the move.
And before there are complaints of nepotism - I'll have you know that there is only one name in the whole drum that I don't personally know and love - and I'm sure if I had the opportunity that I would think the world of them as well :)
So there it is - I will sincerely hope that there are no disappointed mopes at the family reunion next week...   
Enjoy your day, and check back soon... so much happened in our lives this week that I didn't dare blog about for fear of displacing the book review :)

Monday, July 7, 2008

FarWorld - Water Keep - The Long Awaited Review


Firstly, I would like to mention that this was a cool experience... knowing that I was among the first to read a book - there's a little bit of a rush in that experience.  Not like a bungee-jumping rush maybe, but a rush all the same - and for this non-death-defying-stay-at-home mom... that was just perfect.
Second I must mention that even though the book was delivered with an "uncorrected proof" disclaimer (meaning that there were bound to be typos) there were surprisingly few!  I actually hesitated to participate because I have some serious pet peeves regarding bad editing but there were fewer errors in this pre-edited edition than in some nicely bound hardcovers that I've paid top dollar for!  As some of you may know I really have issues and have been known to correct signs in a grocery store with my own pen (no, I'm not kidding).
Third... I've broken my own rule on this book. Some of you may have heard me mention my stipulation on reading new books by new authors (especially in the sci-fi or fantasy genre), it has something to do with unpronounceable names... my first foray into the fantasy genre (many MANY years ago) was a huge disappointment where the author had spent far more time coming up with colorful and bizarre names for their characters than they had spent fleshing out the actual story line... big bust.  Gladly - this is not the case with this book (but there are a few weird names).

The Big Question: Did I enjoy the book?  Yes!  I had a lot of fun reading this one - it was refreshing to have a truly new kind of Hero to begin with... one that made me stop and think about quick judgments that we so often make... does a Hero have to be handsome?  Does he have to be strong?  Does he have to be funny?  Does he have to be popular?  Does he have to have a love interest?  Does he have to be a HE?  I enjoy this new Hero (Marcus) and have great hopes for him in the coming novels... hoping that he'll retain some of his imperfections (not necessarily the obvious ones - but maybe his skewed sense of humor) that make him so unique.  I also enjoyed our Heroine (Kyja - see, I told you there were some weird names) because I think she fills in the gaps that exist in Marcus's personality... she "completes" him - in a totally non-romantic sense of the word.  Each has their own disabilities and strengths, and they are not defined by their disabilities nearly as much as they are defined by their strengths.
There is a lot of promise in this Farworld place - more areas to explore... more connections to our world I hope?  I'm anxious to meet some of the other elementals (for this to be explained you will just have to read this book) and see about their own limitations, as the denizens of the Water Keep seem to  have learned a great lesson from a few mere mortals.
The book does follow a little formula that you'll probably recognize - Slightly weird orphan discovers something new about themselves, it changes the course of their lives, they meet with extreme dangers and make good friends, they succeed but still have more to do (because where else would the series go?).  Whether that brought to mind Star Wars, Harry Potter, Wizard of Oz or whatever - there it is...  I don't say this as a criticism however because - hey, it's worked and it isn't all the same -- I don't know anybody who just skipped reading HP7 because "hey, I saw StarWars already.".
One of the things I enjoyed the most is that although there is a lot of back-story and exposition necessary to get the reader up to speed, it is done without the traditional boredom which makes me want to do a quick speed read and get back to the action... the back story is all about action!
Do I recommend it to you?  To the kids?  Yes, to both - I don't hesitate to have the kiddies reading it because the bad guys are bad... and the good guys are good - and there is a wonderful lesson to be learned about those people who sit back and claim to be neutral all the while furthering the cause of the bad...  there is no Switzerland in Farworld anymore than there can be in our own lives - a choice must be made.
I went ahead and let my 13 year old read it already - and in typical teenager fashion he shrugs a lot, refuses to add any wonderful questions to my author Q&A... but I did get out of him that he will be planning to read any further installments of this series.  For the record, my 11 year old wants to read it but would like to wait for the series to be finished first... He nearly got an ulcer waiting on Harry/Gregor/Percy and others...

So that's it - other reviews are out there on this blog tour with more information about the plot - I chose not to give you a detailed synopsis because hey, you're supposed to read it right?  be sure to put a nice wordy comment at the post below if you want a chance at the free Advance Copy - I'll post next week about our winner!

The Contest!!!!!

COMMENT HERE TO ENTER - ONE READER WILL BE CHOSEN AT RANDOM TO RECEIVE THE ADVANCE READER'S EDITION OF FARWORLD - WATERKEEP!  -  Drawing to Be Held Saturday Night!!!
(this is where all that legal mumbo-jumbo should go, but hey, we're all friends here right?)

Author Q&A


T - Since I get to choose the location we're going to meet for breakfast smack dab in the middle of the Australian Outback - I'm having an egg white omelet stuffed with so many sauteed mushrooms you fear badly for the fungi populations' demise - served in an air-conditioned tent by fully clothed bushmen - and you?

JSS - Wow, this is great! When you invited me to the Australian outback I was totally expecting to be sweating like a wallaby, (have you ever smelled a wallaby close up? Not good.) But here we are in an air-conditioned tent.  I could have used one of these back in scouts. I think I'm going to have eggs Benedict.  I was recently in Canada so I even have some fresh Canadian bacon to go on it.  I'm also going to have a stack of pancakes with blueberry syrup.  Gotta admit those mushrooms look pretty good.  I figure I better eat while I have the chance.  This globe-trotting is a dicey business when it comes to meals.  Go ahead and ask away, and I'll try not to talk with my mouth full.

T - Those pancakes are looking really tempting...  are those fresh blueberries?  Okay, was I crazy and flashing back on a decimated farm on Tatooine, or was that somewhere in the back of your head when the Goodnuff''s farm was wiped out?  (and no, I've never been to a StarWars convention or dressed up as Princess Leia)

JSS - That's a shame. I could totally see you with the whole Cinnabon things on the side of the head going on. The scene you are talking about wasn't actually in the first draft, although it was in my head. I was afraid that it might be a little too intense for younger readers. But as I discussed it with my editors, we realized it was an important scene in that it serves the same purpose as Tatooine in Star Wars. It not only removes a fallback position for Kyja-there is no home to go home to-it also shows how bad the bad guys are and gives Kyja a reason to hate them from the beginning. I think we actually discussed the Star Wars scene when we were talking about it. I really liked how it came out, and I don't think it is too traumatic, even for younger readers. It was a good call by my editors.

T - Another weird movie flash... following a golden Toad?  Maybe we watch too much Wizard of Oz around  here... my 4 year old is really a Dorothy fanatic right now.

JSS - Yeah.  I like to throw in little nods to other books and movies I like.  As a side note, try Googling the name of the toad.

T - I'll do that as soon as I can get an internet connection - I've got no bars out here... they should try one of those "can you hear me now" commercials out here!  Since Farworld is connected to our world - each location here having a comparable location there, tell me where you would be in Farworld if you got sucked over there right now?  Hmmm... from home or from Australia... both maybe.

JSS - Well if I jumped from home, I'd be about a day's horseback ride from the Unmaker's cavern.  From here, who knows? Lots of uncharted territory.

T - I don't think I'd want to hang out that close to the Unmaker's cavern... that's probably the creepiest part of the story for me.  So... This Monk that saved and helped to raise Marcus... is he really from earth?  Is that asking too much?  (this is why I have a love/hate relationship with book series, I'm not good at waiting)

JSS - Hey did you see those Kangaroos outside? How is your omelet? Hmm, now I can't remember your last question. I will tell you that there actually is a Greek Orthodox monastery on the edge of the Sonoran Desert in Arizona. But they weren't real excited about me writing a fantasy book when I called them for facts and information. So I didn't use their name.


T - Okay, I know when to back off... It seems that Marcus got hit with a triple whammy being orphaned, disabled and a tad on the weird side... Personally I loved seeing the strengths he had being of more value than those disabilities that were holding him back, but I have to wonder if you have personal experience with those physical disabilities.  It's not too often that a book character has a disability that is so seamlessly a part of the character and NOT constantly paraded out as their shortomings that they are held back by.

JSS - There were many parts of Farworld that I either discovered on the fly or added later. But the part I knew from the beginning was Marcus's disability. That was the very first glimpse I got of Farworld. In many ways it made writing the book hard, and I've heard it could even possibly have an effect on if it is made into a movie. But it had to be there for far too many reasons to list. At the same time, Marcus is not his disability any more than Kyja is her lack of magic. Neither of them let their issues keep them from reaching their goals. They may be slowed down, or have to take another path. But they will not be ruled by their weaknesses. I haven't had personal experience with those disabilites, (as far as me or my family.) But I got great feedback from a wonder person and great writer by the name of Kerry Blair, who has had personal experience. I also based a lot of Marcus's spunk on a friend of my younger brother, who was born without legs. He constantly rode a skateboard around the neighborhood, lying on his stomach. The kid was a blur. Nothing slowed him down.

T - Thanks for your time, are you going to finish those pancakes?




Friday, July 4, 2008

more fun online

www.maylin.net/Fireworks.html & www.maylin.net/Fireworks2.html

both a lot of fun, though the kids seemed a little upset when I suggested we enjoy them this evening from the comfort of our air-conditioned house and skip the festivities...  hey, if the city chooses to host a country music competition in conjunction with their fireworks, they can count on me opting out!

Another way to entertain the kids...

I think sometimes we've used up all the good ideas I can come up with - and then out of the blue I run across something new (and cheap).  I was beside myself Monday night because the kids were bored and just wanted something a little more interesting to do than read and play board games during the hottest part of the day.  Luckily I ran across some fun things online... the first at paperboxworld.com... I think


All it takes is a pair of scissors and some glue, and M had her very own kitty which entertained her for hours - and which doesn't shed, leave unwelcome surprises, or make me sneeze... and which can be replaced quickly if someone accidentally runs over it with a car!

The older kids needed more challenge - so we ended up at another site (cubeecraft.com?) where we found printables for Indiana Jones and other exciting figures...  

So now our entertainment center is crawling with Indy, the Marshmallow Man, Kirby, a lizard and a cat...  and the floor is littered with little scraps of paper (okay, they've actually been vacuumed by now).

So now it's sharing time - has anyone found anything recently that is good healthy indoor fun for children?  We're getting a little tired of baking day and game day (and I really need M to not become attached to a computer screen!)