Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Toddler Tales

It was an eventful weekend in Toddlerville, both good and bad. On Saturday, we went to the 40th birthday party for M's brother-in-law. It was at his aunt's house, and she has this wonderful in-ground pool that's heated. It was heaven, especially since the air was kind of cool Saturday evening. Surprisingly, both H's bathing suit and baby inner tube from last summer still fit, so we were able to get a little more mileage out of them so far this year. H. loved the pool! We stayed in for about an hour, with H. kicking her legs and putting her face in the water and blowing bubbles. I needed a break, so we got out for a little while, then M. got back in with her and I was able to take some pictures.

When she wasn't in the pool, H. spent the rest of the party chasing after the dogs that were there, yelling, "Doggie, doggie," at the top of her lungs. We didn't leave the party until 9pm and H. was out like a light. I let her sleep in her clothes once we got home and she slept until 7:30am Sunday morning.

Also, before we went to the party, we went and ordered a big wooden swing set, the likes of which you have never seen before. M. talked me into getting the "deluxe" model, which is pretty cool. I'm glad we ordered it now, because it takes 4-5 weeks to come in, so we'll have it well before her birthday party.

(This could almost be our backyard, with the cornfield in the background, but it's really just the picture from the brochure.)

Saturday was the good day. Sunday, not so good. Around noon, I put H. down for her nap. After awhile, I could hear her in her room, not yelling or fussing, just making noise, so I went in to check on her. She was standing up in her crib, pointing at a piece of paper on the floor. When I picked it up, I realized it was a piece of wallpaper border from the wall next to her crib. She had ripped off two pieces of border and pulled down the corner of another! So Sunday became the first day that H. was punished. I scolded her (I had written "yelled" but it sounded really mean) for ripping the wallpaper and explained that it was very, very bad. She wanted to get out of her crib, but I told her she had to stay in her crib and take her nap, no matter what. I pulled the crib away from the wall and left her alone. She was crying, but I stuck to my guns and eventually she fell asleep. When she woke up an hour or so later, she remembered that she had done something wrong. She was looking at the wall and saying "Uh, oh!" How can you stay mad at someone so cute! I fixed the piece that was just pulled down, but I don't know what to do about the other piece that was torn.

Since she liked the pool so much, I set up the blow-up pool early Sunday morning so the water would have a chance to warm up by the afternoon. After her nap and lunch, I covered H. with sunscreen and put on a swim diaper and her bathing suit. Before we had a chance to go outside, she was sitting on the chair in the living room and peed. Well, apparently those swim diapers don't work very well outside the pool. My chair cushion was soaked! So I changed her and into the pool we went. Even sitting in the sun, the water didn't warm up very much. "Cold, cold," she kept saying. Hayley spent most of the time outside the pool, putting her plastic fish in to swim. Then she pooped and back inside we went to change the swim diaper yet again. This was hardly worth all the effort! After about an hour, I gave up and got her dressed, then we went up the street to visit her friend Jenna. By the time M. got home from racing, I was exhausted.

On the subject of racing, M. did really well on Sunday, going four rounds before losing with a red light. He did win back his money, which was pretty good. He didn't get home until about 9:30pm, which is late. Both his brother and friend Tim each called about three times to see if he was home yet, saying, "That must mean he's doing well." Of course, I'm always thinking the opposite, that there's been a big wreck or something, but everything was fine. However, my worst fears were confirmed that night when we were watching the professional NHRA dragracers on ESPN. One of the top-fuel dragster drivers, Darrell Russell, was killed in a crash during the event in St. Louis. He was only 35 years old and had just won an NHRA event in Columbus a few weeks ago. I realize that these guys race at a completely different level than M., but there's always that thought in the back of your head about the element of danger involved with this sport/hobby.

PS - Happy B-Day to BFF Na. I left her a funny message on her answering machine tonight to make sure her family didn't forget her birthday, a la Sixteen Candles. Her sister is getting married on Sunday and it's going to be quite the bash, with people coming from out of town and events running from Friday through Monday.

Monday, June 28, 2004

I love Sarah Weinman and "Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind!" I'm sorry I've only just discovered her this month. I killed a good two hours this morning reading all the links to this past weekend's coverage of mystery and crime books. I added four new books to my "To Read" list and found a new series to check out - Lynne Heitman's "Alex Shanahan" series.

One of these days, I'll write a long post about all the mystery/crime/thriller series I'm addicted to, but for now, I need to make up for lost time from this morning. It's the end of our fiscal year and actually quite busy. A longer post about the weekend (many delightful and not-so-delightful toddler stories to share) to come as well.

Friday, June 25, 2004

National Park Soapbox

I've been receiving this e-mail newsletter from the National Park Trust for the past few weeks and it is very informative. If you are interested in learning what is happening in our national parks, sign up!

The New York Times article on how both political parties are using the parks in this election year was eye-opening. It also discusses the current crisis in the parks related to lack of funding from the current administration and potential budget cuts that could cause parks to be closed one or two days a week this summer - during the height of visitation.

"It's sort of like going to the grocery store and having only one checkout line open," Mr. Laitner said in an interview.

If the current and future state of our national parks is an important issue to you, TAKE ACTION! Other ways to stay informed include the National Parks Conservation Association, which offers easy-to-use e-mail action alerts for notifying your elected officials of issues, and the NPS's own Morning Report.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Classic Books

Passing along this meme from Tiny Little Librarian. The titles in bold are the ones I have read. I'll let you come to your own conclusions about what this says regarding my public school education and very expensive, small, private liberal arts college degree. And this is coming from someone who loves to read and took extra literature classes in college as my electives. However, I do remember that some of the other English classes in high school having to read The Great Gatsby and The Grapes of Wrath, so these books were taught in the Baltimore County public school system, just not in the classes I was taking.

Achebe, Chinua - Things Fall Apart
Agee, James - A Death in the Family
Austen, Jane - Pride and Prejudice (No, but Emma. This is actually next on my Project Gutenberg reading list.)
Baldwin, James - Go Tell It on the Mountain
Beckett, Samuel - Waiting for Godot
Bellow, Saul - The Adventures of Augie March
Brontë, Charlotte - Jane Eyre (I wrote my high school senior English term paper on this)
Brontë, Emily - Wuthering Heights
Camus, Albert - The Stranger
Cather, Willa - Death Comes for the Archbishop
Chaucer, Geoffrey - The Canterbury Tales
Chekhov, Anton - The Cherry Orchard
Chopin, Kate - The Awakening
Conrad, Joseph - Heart of Darkness
Cooper, James Fenimore - The Last of the Mohicans
Crane, Stephen - The Red Badge of Courage
Dante - Inferno (I vaguely remember reading sections of this for a unit in H.S.)
de Cervantes, Miguel - Don Quixote
Defoe, Daniel - Robinson Crusoe
Dickens, Charles - A Tale of Two Cities (H.S. required reading was Great Expectations instead.)
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - Crime and Punishment
Douglass, Frederick - Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
Dreiser, Theodore - An American Tragedy
Dumas, Alexandre - The Three Musketeers
Eliot, George - The Mill on the Floss
Ellison, Ralph - Invisible Man
Emerson, Ralph Waldo - Selected Essays (college)
Faulkner, William - As I Lay Dying
Faulkner, William - The Sound and the Fury
Fielding, Henry - Tom Jones
Fitzgerald, F. Scott - The Great Gatsby
Flaubert, Gustave - Madame Bovary
Ford, Ford Madox - The Good Soldier
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von - Faust
Golding, William - Lord of the Flies (H.S. and college. We were reading this in H.S. when the version of the movie starring Balthazar Getty came out.)
Hardy, Thomas - Tess of the d’Urbervilles
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - The Scarlet Letter
Heller, Joseph - Catch 22
Hemingway, Ernest - A Farewell to Arms
Homer - The Iliad
Homer - The Odyssey
(I seem to remember spending a lot of time on both of these in H.S.)
Hugo, Victor - The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Hurston, Zora Neale - Their Eyes Were Watching God
Huxley, Aldous - Brave New World
Ibsen, Henrik - A Doll’s House
James, Henry - The Portrait of a Lady
James, Henry - The Turn of the Screw
Joyce, James - A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Kafka, Franz - The Metamorphosis (college)
Kingston, Maxine Hong - The Woman Warrior
Lee, Harper - To Kill a Mockingbird (H.S.)
Lewis, Sinclair - Babbitt
London, Jack - The Call of the Wild (H.S.)
Mann, Thomas - The Magic Mountain
Marquez, Gabriel García - One Hundred Years of Solitude
Melville, Herman - Bartleby the Scrivener (Actually reading this is questionable, however, I do distinctly remember watching the movie of this, featuring a v. young Barry "Greg Brady" Williams as one of the office assistants. I would prefer not to.)
Melville, Herman - Moby Dick (No, but I had to read Billy Budd in both H.S. and college)
Miller, Arthur - The Crucible (H.S.)
Morrison, Toni - Beloved
O’Connor, Flannery - A Good Man is Hard to Find (Another H.S. term paper topic)
O’Neill, Eugene - Long Day’s Journey into Night
Orwell, George - Animal Farm (H.S. and college)
Pasternak, Boris - Doctor Zhivago
Plath, Sylvia - The Bell Jar (read on my own while in college)
Poe, Edgar Allan - Selected Tales (Poe was big in Maryland schools. We read different stories every year.)
Proust, Marcel - Swann’s Way
Pynchon, Thomas - The Crying of Lot 49
Remarque, Erich Maria - All Quiet on the Western Front (H.S.)
Rostand, Edmond - Cyrano de Bergerac
Roth, Henry - Call It Sleep
Salinger, J.D. - The Catcher in the Rye (also read on my own in college)
Shakespeare, William - Hamlet
Shakespeare, William - Macbeth
Shakespeare, William - A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Shakespeare, William - Romeo and Juliet (As well as Julius Caesar for us in H.S.)
Shaw, George Bernard - Pygmalion
Shelley, Mary – Frankenstein (college)
Silko, Leslie Marmon - Ceremony
Solzhenitsyn, Alexander - One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
Sophocles - Antigone
Sophocles - Oedipus Rex (H.S.)
Steinbeck, John - The Grapes of Wrath (No, but The Red Pony and The Pearl. And I read East of Eden on my own pre-Oprah.)
Stevenson, Robert Louis - Treasure Island
Stowe, Harriet Beecher - Uncle Tom’s Cabin (just read this on my own last year)
Swift, Jonathan - Gulliver’s Travels (college)
Thackeray, William - Vanity Fair
Thoreau, Henry David – Walden (college)
Tolstoy, Leo - War and Peace
Turgenev, Ivan - Fathers and Sons
Twain, Mark - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (H.S. and college. And Tom Sawyer, too.)
Voltaire - Candide
Vonnegut, Kurt Jr. - Slaughterhouse-Five (No, but I read Cat’s Cradle in college.)
Walker, Alice - The Color Purple
Wharton, Edith - The House of Mirth
Welty, Eudora - Collected Stories (No, but I have read Delta Wedding.)
Whitman, Walt - Leaves of Grass (college)
Wilde, Oscar - The Picture of Dorian Gray
Williams, Tennessee - The Glass Menagerie
Woolf, Virginia - To the Lighthouse
Wright, Richard - Native Son

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Walmart Update

In the interest of fair reporting, I feel I must mention this news story from yesterday, since I ranted about it back in December. However, yesterday's announcement was much more low-key than the build-up to the Feb. 1 debit-card cut-off. I'll let you know if I run into any problems when I try to use my card there later this week.

Top Celebrities

My random comments on the Forbes Celebrity 100 list:

It's awesome that the three women from the cast of FRIENDS - Jennifer Aniston (17), Courteney Cox (65) and Lisa Kudrow (74) - all made the Top 100, with nary a mention of the three men. You go, girls!

How did Johnny Depp (10) sneak into the Top 10? He must have had a good royalty arrangement for PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN.

I'm sure Phil Mickelson (62) loves being ranked just below "one-year wonder" Jessica Simpson (61) and miles behind Tiger (2).

Is being a magician really such a lucrative profession? It must be, for David Copperfield (35), Siegfried & Roy (58) and David Blaine (89) to all make the list.

Authors in the Top 100: J.K. Rowling (6) - of course, Nora Roberts (43); Dan Brown (44) - hopefully another "one-year wonder"; James Patterson (47); and John Grisham (73).

Only one NASCAR driver in the Top 100? - Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (59).

Even though he didn't make the list, I thought the accompanying article on Tony Hawk was very interesting.

Noticably missing from this year's list after making it into the Top 10 of 2003's list - Eminem & Dr. Dre (2), Jennifer Lopez (5) and Ben Affleck (7).

Monday, June 21, 2004

Happy Father's Day

We had a great Father's Day this year. First, we celebrated with my side of the family on Saturday, since we were all getting together for K&K's ballet recital (which was absolutely adorable). We had hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill and enjoyed the wonderful weather. We also celebrated my mother's birthday, which is Tuesday, so there were lots of presents to open and cake, too! And I think my dad received the best Father's Day present of all - a whole day to himself to sit and watch the last round of the U.S. Open without anyone running in front of the TV or asking to watch a movie in the middle of golf. My sister and her family were leaving for Myrtle Beach early Sunday morning, so it's peace and quiet for the whole week.

With the early get-together on Saturday, M. and H. and I were free to have our own little family celebration on Sunday. H. and I went along to watch Mark race his car at the drag strip. I hadn't been to watch him for a couple of summers, since it's not exactly my favorite activity, but it was his day and the whole thing was actually my idea. We all had a great time! The weather was spectacular - warm and sunny, but no humidity, not a cloud in the sky. So we tailgated in the new van, which was perfect, and put M's Father's Day gift - a thermo-electric cooler - immediately to good use. H. really seemed to enjoy herself and watching her Daddy race his car, and there were even some other kids there her age that she could play with during the down time. I think we'll probably end up going a couple of more times this year as a family, as long as it isn't 95 degrees and 100% humidity!

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Library "Bestsellers"

This is such a great idea, I can't believe someone didn't think of it sooner! I'm usually about six months to a year behind what's tops on the bestseller list (just take a look at the sidebar), since I rarely buy new hardbacks, instead placing holds at the library. I originally found out about the list from an article in today's USA Today.

Speaking of libraries, my local library is closed for two weeks as they prepare to move into a brand new building. The current library is in a very small, two-story building that used to be a bank and there are only about five street parking spaces available. I'm sorry if it sounds incredibly geekly, but I'm very excited about the opening of the new library on June 26th. In the meantime, I'm visiting another local branch in the area which is also in a fairly new building and it's saving me on books I normally would have ordered (for a $1 each with the new fee system) via ILL, so I don't mind the wait until the 26th.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004


Somehow, I can't quite picture this.

I updated my cross-stitch gallery with a Work In Progress - a Christmas stocking for Big H. that I hope to have finished by December.

You'll notice a new banner ad on the site over on the right. Pay Sticker Planet a visit. They have lots of cool stuff for scrapbooking and I get a $10 gift certificate for placing the ad.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

"Cow in the Road, Swerve to the Left..."

I hit a duck on my way home from work yesterday. It was awful. I saw it in the road up ahead and thought it was a bird and kept waiting for it to fly away. By the time I was close enough to see it was a small duck (not a duckling) instead of a bird, and that it wasn't flying away, it was too late to swerve. I've never felt so awful in my entire life. I saw it on the road in my rearview mirror and wanted to cry. I've learned my lesson the hard way now - I have to slow down when driving on the windy part of the road near the pond. I already drive slow on part of one road near our house where people let their pet rabbits hop free around the yard and into the street. These are not small, brown, fast wild rabbits, but giant, fat white and black Cadbury-bunny type pet rabbits that are set free at various times of the day, usually early in the morning.

And this coming a week after Mark grazed a deer with the car in the dark. The only damage was to the passenger-side parking light and he never saw the deer before or after it happened. We're going to have to up our care and feeding of the squirrels and birds in our backyard to reverse this bad animal karma.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Monday Morning Blogging

Via Throwing Things, I learned that June 4 marked the 20th anniversary of the release of Bruce Springsteen's Born in the U.S.A. album. In the continuing effort to expose my geekdom here on this site, I will admit that at the tender age of 12, this was one of the very first cassettes I ever bought with my own money (I had bought "albums" previously, then moved onto cassettes and a boombox of my own). I distinctly remember a trip to Kmart with my parents (my older sister was a cashier there at the time, her very first job) and along with Born in the U.S.A., I also purchased Huey Lewis and the News' "Sports" and Lionel Richie's "Can't Slow Down." [Insert laugher and/or your own joke here.] In the interest of full disclosure, all of these cassettes are still in my possession.

I didn't realize it until this morning, but June 4 was also the first anniversary of this online journal/blog, so Happy Anniversary to me! It's been quite a fascinating experience so far and I think just in the past few months I've really started to get the hang of it - posting more often, on a variety of topics, with a little more depth. It's been hard to gauge how much to reveal and how much to keep private. Just the other day, I posted a short little link to my bank's website with a comment about the picture on the home page, then that night, while trying to fall asleep, I thought, "Now anyone reading this knows where I do my banking! What if I'm the victim of identity theft?" So I took the entry down the next day. For the start of year #2, I've taken advantage of the new comments feature Blogger now offers, so please feel free to share your thoughts with me. You can also e-mail me at anytime. And I hope you continue to enjoy this as much as I have!

Anyhoo, I was pleasantly surprised not to see mention of the term "chick lit" in this article {RegReq}, even though The Second Assistant clearly falls into this "category."

After faltering Memorial Day weekend, I moved forward with my movie watching this past week, checking THE RUNAWAY JURY, UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN and MONSTER off my list. I was pleasantly surprised by JURY, especially since a major premise of the book was changed (gun manufacturer liability vs. tobacco company liability), but it worked well. TUSCAN SUN was warm and funny (I watched this one by myself) and MONSTER was pretty much what I expected. Of course, I knew how it ended, but in the various specials I've seen about Aileen Wuornos on A&E, I don't remember much about her relationship with Selby. I think Christina Ricci deserved an Oscar nom as well for Best Supporting Actress.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Amazon World Redux

Since Amazon World is out of commission, I'll post this user review that I stumbled across today for the children's book Dorrie and the Blue Witch.

Books that Pagan parents can feel good about giving to their children are few and far between. The Dorrie books are definitely among these few, portaying a community of witches (largely female, but with some fine male witches too) in a refreshingly positive way. The bad Blue Witch in this particular book is an anomaly and is defeated by Dorrie's ingenuity and Dorrie's mother's magic. These were my favorite books when I was a goofy little witch, and my daughter loves them as much as I once did. Amazon only offers two of the books, but I'm sure if you harass them enough they can find the rest. Wiccan parents will find the effort well worth their time.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Contest is running an intriguing Summer Reading contest. I could only answer four right off the bat. Five others I found very easily on Amazon, and for the last three, I had to do a little searching. I'm off to submit my answers. I would love to win the just-released Lisa Scottoline book.