Tuesday, September 28, 2004


I updated the Birthday Party and Ocean City entries with pictures, if you care to take a look.

Sesame Street Live: Elmo's Coloring Book was fun on Saturday. H. really enjoyed it - clapping along and dancing at all the right parts. I think she had just as much fun looking at all the other little kids who were there. She got a little antsy during the last 15 minutes or so, which was fine. That just means she's not ready to go to the movies yet. But now I'll have to consider whether or not to take her to see Nemo on Ice.

Sunday was very relaxing, as I promised myself it would be. We went and finished our grocery shopping early in the morning, then while H. was taking her nap, I made homemade spaghetti sauce. The house smelled wonderful all day! I watched football and the Brady Bunch, and we spent some time outside, since it was such a beautiful day weather-wise. More than I can say for today. We're experiencing the remnants of Hurricane Jeanne and it's been pouring all day and it just started to get very windy.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Brady Bunch Marathon

At 2:36pm this afternoon, I e-mailed this link to Nadine. At 2:37pm, I received the very same e-mail link from Sheila. Yeah, I know, we're really big nerds, but we don't care.

So I'll be watching this most of the weekend instead of anything else I might have had planned.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Reading Update

I read three books since I last updated my "Currently Reading" link. Maybe I should list more than one book there along the lines of current and just finished, but I'm definitely a read-one-book-at-a-time kind of person.

Anyhoo, I read Bloodstream by Tess Gerritsen, a paperback I picked up at the used book sale this summer for 25 cents, mostly as filler in between trips to the library. It's classified as a "medical thriller," but I would categorize it more as horror. All I have to say is, don't read this book if you ever want to eat pork again.

Then I read Carrie Pilby by Caren Lissner, which has been on my to-be-read list every since I started reading her blog. It was a quirky, funny book that I really enjoyed, and more than worth the $1 I had to spend to get it via inter-library loan from another library branch. I'm already looking forward to reading Starting from Square Two.

Finally, I plowed through Journal of the Dead by Jason Kersten in one day. I started it during lunch at work, then stayed up until 11:30 that night to finish it, even though I knew most of the story. I can't remember the last book that made me stay up that late! Journal of the Dead is the true crime account of Raffi Kodikian (who is from Philadelphia) and David Coughlin, friends who got lost in the desert in Carlsbad Caverns National Park in 1999 and one of the friends ended up dead. It's not a black and white case of murder and Kersten fairly presents the facts from both sides of the story. [One note: There was an annoying error in the book that's tough to overlook when you're reading non-fiction because it makes you question what other facts might be incorrect. Kersten is comparing the hometowns of Coughlin and Kodikian - Boston to Philly - and compares the Charles River to the Potomac River. I'm assuming he meant to reference the Schuylkill River, since the Potomac runs through Maryland and DC, not Philly.]

Birthday Party Hangover

I'm still recovering from the birthday party on Sunday, or the house is any way. The weather cooperated and we were able to have the party outside in the yard, complete with a bouncing house.

It was a little windy, but at least the sun was out. All of the kids seemed to have a good time and the "Pin the Cookie on Cookie Monster" game went over pretty well.

The only bad part of the day was right before we were going to sing "Happy Birthday" and cut the cake. H. got stung by a bee right in the center of her thumb. It took us awhile to figure out what was wrong. I had never, ever heard her cry like that before. Her poor little thumb was swollen and red and hard as a rock. We held up the party for a half hour trying to get her calmed down, which wasn't helped by the fact that she hadn't had a nap that day. But she recovered enough for us to sing and open presents, of which she received a wonderfully varied assortment - clothes, toys, baby dolls, computer games, DVDs, etc. We have wonderful family and friends who are very generous! (H's thumb was much better the next morning, no longer swollen and just a little sore by the way she was bending it.)

So now I'm still trying to clean up the house. There are presents or boxes in every room and dishes that need to be put away. Our trash day is Fridays, so we've been stuck with party trash all week, including a big box that one of the presents came in that is still sitting in the middle of the living room. And I need to get started on thank you notes, too. We're picking up H's photos from Sears tomorrow night, so I'll be able to include those with the thank you notes, which is good timing. But I don't know when I'll have the time to start those since the rest of the week is booked solid. Tumbling class tonight, Sears tomorrow night, Fall Fest in Westminster Friday night and Sesame Street Live Saturday afternoon. My plan for Sunday is to lay in front of the television and watch football for nine or ten hours (and maybe write a few thank you notes).

Friday, September 17, 2004

Happy Birthday!

Happy 2nd Birthday to H! When she woke up this morning, she was already two, since she was born at 4:30am.

I forgot to mention that we went for her two-year check-up last Friday morning. She weighed 27 lbs., 13 oz., and measured 34 1/2 inches. I asked the doctor about how she seems so much taller than most of the other two-year olds we know, but she said her height, weight and head circumference were all plotting correctly on the growth chart and everything was normal. I guess we can blame me for her big bones.

The weather outlook for Sunday has improved as of this morning. Rain ending by mid-day on Saturday, with Sunday cool and sunny. Let's hope the forecast is correct!

Thursday, September 16, 2004

The O.C.

I figured I better post about last weekend, since the coming weekend is descending quickly. That's the only problem with going away for the weekend - you spend the rest of the week catching up on all the stuff you didn't get done around the house.

The girls weekend in Ocean City was terrific. We had a great time and the weather was fairly cooperative. We arrived late Friday, so we didn't get to do anything but get the kids into bed, but we squeezed in a lot of activities on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday, we went shopping at the outlets, where I got H. the cutest outfit to wear for her birthday party. Then we went swimming in the afternoon, even though it was somewhat overcast and the water was freezing! The evening included dinner (shrimp for me, since I never get to cook it anymore now that M. is allergic), then the boardwalk. Meghan and H. got on some rides and we walked around a little bit.

On Sunday, we went to the beach in the morning, which I always think is more work than it's worth. I know, I'm not a beach person. I wish I could be, because in theory, it sounds fun, but when your almost two-year old poops while she's wet and covered with sand and you only brought a diaper (no wipes), it's just not that fun. (I stripped H. down and rinsed her off in the ocean as my solution.)

But the girls enjoyed playing in the sand and got to use the new sand toys I bought them. We left around 1:30 in the afternoon, so it was a wonderful but short trip. W.'s condo is awesome and it's in a great location; we're already planning another girls only trip (without the kids this time). I only hope W. and I didn't scare Na off from ever having kids. Spending the whole weekend with a three-and-a-half-year old and an almost two-year old can be a lot to take.

So I've spent the rest of the week catching up - laundry, going to the grocery store, plus party preparations for Sunday. I'm not holding out much hope for the weather. I'm sure the remnants of Ivan will be here by Sunday and I'll be stuck with 15 kids inside the house with only one measly game of "Pin the Cookie on Cookie Monster" to keep them occupied. Atleast I shouldn't have any trouble sticking to my "three-hours max" rule for kiddie parties.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Photo Session

Okay, I couldn't link to the online photos from Sears (you could only send out a mass e-mail for access), so here are two from the photo session. I know, too cute for words. I'll let you come up with your own.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

I'm a Woman and I Read Crime Fiction (plus, a mini-book review)

I've had this entry rumbling around in my head for a few days, then I read Sarah Weinman's post about gender and crime fiction and decided to expand, so please bear with me.

A few books ago, I finished Murder on Ice by Alina Adams, after finding out about her when she guest blogged on Sarah's site. Reading this mystery made me remember why I prefer thrillers (legal, medical, psychological, etc.), police procedurals and even P.I. novels to mysteries that feature "amateur sleuths." The whole premise of an amateur sleuth who is forced into an improbable mystery-solving scenario during the course of their day job is annoying to me. In the case of Murder on Ice, TV researcher Bex is asked by her producer boss to find out who killed a figure skating judge involved in a scoring scandal. And of course, she does. But this just isn't realistic enough for me. There were so many problems with this scenario, I don't even know where to begin (the police were convinced the murder was really an accident, etc.). On top of that, the plot of the book just wasn't very well written. On atleast three separate occasions, the main character Bex paused to reflect on the "clues" by doing the following:
  • Chapter 5, p. 89 - "So. It was time to review."
  • Chapter 5 (still), p. 94 - "Again, it was time for Bex to summarize what she knew." Did that much really happen in five pages?
  • Chapter 11 - "It was time to review."

If the plot is so convoluted (and it wasn't, just lame) that the character needs to actually state that she needs to review everything, than maybe it's time to go back to the drawing board.

Also, this probably would have been a much better book if it had been written in the first person instead of the third. There were lots of conversations taking place inside the main character's head that would have come across better in her own words. But, I'll just chalk this up to a reminder that I don't like cozy or amateur sleuth mysteries and will try not to get sucked into another one again.

All that being said, let's get back to Sarah's thoughts on gender and crime fiction. Most women probably do read cozy and amateur sleuth mysteries more so than other types of crime fiction and may be more drawn to female writers than male writers. Regarding Murder on Ice, there are probably very few men who would be interested in a murder mystery about women's figure skating. I, myself, am often more drawn to female authors such as Nevada Barr, Barbara Parker, Dana Stabenow, Patricia Cornwell, Linda Fairstein, Margaret Maron, Minette Walters, Lisa Scottoline, Kathy Reichs, Val McDermid and others. But I also love James Lee Burke, Harlan Coben, C.J. Box, Richard North Patterson, James Patterson and John Grisham. Take Dana Stabenow for instance. She writes two series, one with a female main character and one with a male. I like them both. I love the dark side of James Lee Burke's books and the fact that Dave Robicheaux is a flawed hero.

But I think the key thing about why I choose to read these types of books is that most of them are much more believable and therefore, more real, to me. It's much more plausible that a police or other type of law enforcement officer (obviously), private detective, lawyer or medical examiner would be involved in solving a crime/murder than a chef who comes across dead bodies every time she leaves her house. Since these seem more real to me, the drama and the character development offer something more as well. I think that's why I also prefer series, which most of the above are, because the characters grow and develop over time and the reader gets to know them. But I'll save my thoughts on all the different series I read for another day!

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Holiday Weekend

A fairly quiet holiday weekend (the calm before the storm of being away this coming weekend, followed by H's birthday party on the 19th). M. raced on both Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, H. and I just hung out together, cleaning and going shopping. While H. napped Saturday afternoon, I relaxed in the hammock, reading my book in the comfortable, breezy weather (insted of cleaning the bathroom). And I did something I swore I would never do - I got H's hair cut at Walmart. Atleast I didn't get my hair cut there! And I was desperate, since my hair salon was closed on Saturday and I wanted to get her two-year picture taken this weekend.

On Sunday, we went to my sister's marina for swimming and a cookout. The pool water was freezing, of course, since the evenings have been so cool lately, but still fun. It's amazing to see how much H's swimming has improved since the beginning of the summer. She really moves her arms and legs and hardly tips over anymore. She'll have an opportunity to practice some more this weekend when we go to Ocean City with the girls.

The only bad part of the day on Sunday was an accident that occurred out on the water. An older man who was sailing with two other people was hit in the head by his sailboat boom, knocked unconscious, then fell in the water and drowned. There was a little bit of news coverage about it Sunday evening, just one of several Labor Day weekend boating accidents in Maryland.

And on Monday, we did go to Sears and have her two-year portrait taken. It takes 48 hours for the proofs to be posted on the Sears website, so check back late Wednesday or Thursday for the link to see her in all her adorableness.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004


Here are some links I've been hording, if you're interested.

A few about the Grand Canyon, one of my most favorite places, which is why this first story was completely annoying. Here's a link to an article by a guy who was thoroughly unimpressed by the Grand Canyon. He must have a heart and mind made of stone. Luckily, there were others besides me who disagreed with him. (Need a password for the LA Times? Try idahogolfer and mustang or go to BugMeNot, a wonderful resource!) Also from the LA Times, a sad story about being unprepared and not knowing your limits. Definitely worth reading! And finally, sad in another way, an article about how all of the new plans for the Grand Canyon, after the opening of the new visitor's center, have been backburnered, mostly due to lack of funding.

In the late 1990s, after years of debate, the feds agreed on a long-term plan: have people park farther from the rim and build a light-rail system to bring them in, at a cost of something like $170 million. Meanwhile, the Park Service and the foundation would together raise money and build a $31-million "greenway" — more than 70 miles of trails on the South and North rims for walkers, bicyclists, wheelchair users and a few bits for equestrians.

But then, in 2000, came the big detour. Look, said Rep. Ralph Regula (R-Ohio), chairman of the House Appropriations Interior Subcommittee, this is too bold and costly for a park whose visitor figures have gone nearly flat. So, just a few days after Alston arrived as superintendent, Regula's subcommittee gathered at the park and pulled the plug on the light-rail plan.

The bit about visitors is true; from 1994 to 1999, visitor numbers climbed less than 1% per year, and the numbers have since slumped further. But let me tell you, outdoorists, it's a uniquely educational moment to stand amid these fumes and idling engines and consider that, by the reckoning of Congress, this place and its parking lots just aren't crowded enough.

Oh, the irony, when every news story about the national parks for the last five years has been about overcrowding. The Grand Canyon was the 10th most visited National Park Service Unit and the 2nd most visited National Park overall in 2003.

Finally, one more National Park article. I didn't read this article until Monday morning, but the first thing that immediately came to mind was Dick Cheney's speech and political rally at Ellis Island on Sunday. Last time I checked, Ellis Island is still a unit of the Park Service and therefore a federal facility. Once again, the Bush administration is living by its own set of rules.

Busy, Busy, Busy

Work has actually been very busy lately, which is cutting into my time to update! And there's hardly any time at home to update. So here's a quick review of our weekend:
  • My mom spent the night on Thursday, then she and H. and I went to Philadelphia on Friday to visit family, with cousins who are the same age as H. We hadn't seen them all in over a year, so it was great to see how much everyone had grown and changed. All the kids played really well together and we had a good visit.
  • On Saturday, we were supposed to go to a wedding for M's niece. We drove over an hour for a wedding that was supposed to start at 2pm. (Are you catching on to use of the word supposed?) We arrived at the church at about 1:45 and the parking lot was completely empty. I didn't think too much of it because M's family is usually late for everything, so we waited a few more minutes. Still, no one else had showed up, so we got out of the car and went into the church. It was completely empty, too. We tried calling M's brother's house, but there was no answer, so then we tried his mom. She answered the phone, much to my surprise, and I asked her, "Aren't you on your way to the wedding yet?" Her answer was, "No, it doesn't start until 4pm." Well, the invitation I'm holding in my hand says 2pm. Apparently, M's niece had called her about a week ago and said they were changing the time from 2pm to 4pm. Well, no one ever called us! M. talks to his brother just about every day and had talked to him that morning. Not that it was his responsibility to tell us the time had changed. That would be the bride's. So we left and stopped by my parents' house, since we were nearby. M. was so pissed. He didn't want to go to the wedding in the first place and now we had wasted our entire afternoon. We could have waited at my parents for an hour and a half, then gone back to the church, but M. was so mad that no one had bothered to call us that he refused to go back. I was in complete agreement. So we drove back home and that was that. He talked to both his mom and his brother the next day and the wedding was fine, but we have yet to receive a phone call from the bride with an apology, which I think we're owed. We'll probably never get it, but I just might hold on to my gift until we do.
  • More driving on Sunday to a baby shower in Reading. M. watched H. so it didn't feel like she was in the car the whole weekend, taking her swimming at his mom's instead.

Then it was back to work on Monday. I feel like I didn't even have a weekend. I'm looking forward to the long holiday weekend already. H. and I start our "Mom and Me" tumbling class tonight, which will be for the next eight Wednesdays. No, I won't be doing any tumbling, but in this class, the parents are out on the floor with the kids to try and keep them focused, then, when she eventually moves to the 2 1/2 year old class, she'll be out there on her own.