Thursday, January 29, 2009

Vicodin Dreams

Never in my life have I been high (well, on anything except life *gag* *cheeeeese* LOL), but I imagine it's a lot like Vicodin dreams.

They're scattered, flashes of unrelated images, each set lasting only a mili-second. For the first few nights, the images came in sets of three. All night long, three snapshots.

Click. Click. Click.

Then I'd try to focus on something, anything, and another set of three flashes paraded through.

the blue eyes of a horse, shoelaces, bleach
potatoes, the shapes of certain letters, a plant pot
a dark lipstick tub, a small box, a white chair with a purple pad

I know! Totally random! I have to say that it was all pretty cool. It was like I was a spectator in my own dreams. I knew I was dreaming and was awake enough to think, "Hey! This is cool! I should take notes!"

But after the first few days, I could barely sleep at all. Between the pain that the Vicodin didn't alleviate and the desperate and indelible thirst another med inflicted, I was a zombie.

Did you notice my Books Read in 2009 list in the right column? Yup, three weeks into the year and I've read nine - 9! - books. And I'm most of of the way through the tenth.

We'll see how sleep tonight happens -- or doesn't happen. I haven't take any Vicodin since 11am and most of the weirdness and pain relieving properties have ceased. But since I'm struggling with its intestinal side effects (you really don't want to know the details), I'm not so sure sleep is in my immediate future.

Thank the good Lord that I have an amazing husband who will get the kids ready for school in the morning if I do fall asleep!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Deliciously Reviewed: The Lucky One

Thumbs DOWN!

Nicholas Sparks has Lost. His. Touch.

Reading The Lucky One was akin to reading a dumbed down romance novel for tweens. His writing was forced, lacked any sort of style and worst of all, was void of imagination.

Apparently out of fresh ideas, Sparks simply reworked Message in a Bottle. Now that was a fantastic book. Well written, strong characters and a gripping story line, it had all the elements of a truly memorable piece of fiction.

The Lucky One
is a sad, sad copy. Same basic story line... Character finds something intensely personal to a stranger and decides to seek out said stranger. Falls in love with stranger, but won't tell them about the found belonging. Truth finally comes out, stranger is angry, sends character away, then forgives character.

A major story flaw in The Lucky One is that it really wouldn't have been a big deal to tell the girl that he found a photo of her half buried in the sand in Kuwait. It really wouldn't have! There is no good reason for not telling her. He just feels weird about telling the truth.

*Thunk*

That was my head hitting the table in frustration. Not telling the girl was just a b-a-d decision. I don't think it's at all believable and in this sort of fiction, if the reader can't believe it could really happen, the story fails. Period.

****SPOILER ALERT****

I can honestly say that if the book had Sparks' typical heartbreaking conclusion, I would have thrown it against the wall. Fortunately, it ended well and I was saved the library fines for damage.

Disappointed though I may be about the book, I am more disappointed in Sparks for writing this poorly. He can do so much better.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Vicodin is currently my best friend...

I had my kidney stone surgery today. I wasn't nervous or anything, just kind of annoyed that I had to do it all.

I went into surgery right on schedule and I guess I was in there for a two/two and a half hours. My dr. told Scott that is was rock hard (get it? kidney stone? rock hard? hahahahaha!) and really large so it evidently has been growing for a very long time. He was surprised it hasn't tried to pass before. (I'm just relieved that it didn't even try. That's an immediate trip to the ER and the OR.) The dr. lasered the stone into itty bitty pieces then used a teeny tiny net to get most of them out. What's left in there (and causing the excruciating pain) is just the dust-sized fragments passing through. The utherial tubes must be seriously tiny that such a minute thing hurts so much.

Scott was at the hospital with me the whole time. What a comfort to have him there ready to do anything for me. He's been so worried that past couple days, poor thing. And he's so sympathetic to me now. Grimacing with me when the pain is horrible.

Which it is. You always hear kidney stones equated to child birth. I wouldn't put it that bad, but it's bad. Two tablets of Vicodin bad. But it's not constant pain. Just when I pee and for about five minutes afterward. A heating pad helps a ton. Emma just loves putting my herbal/rice heating thingie in the microwave for me.

Both the girls have been such a help today. No problems while I was at the hospital. And when I got home, they had my pillow and a blanket on the couch and had set up a little table with water, Snapple (yum!), chocolate, crackers, cards and my pj's. They even had my Anne of Green Gables cd in the cd player ready to be played! Are they not the most amazing kids ever??

Now I'm on the couch for several days. Ok by me. :) I went to the library on Friday and checked out nine books. Scott's pretty much home for the week, but does have to go in for a couple hours here and there. He'll still be working even at home, but at least he's here if I need him.

It's taken me forever to type this post since my vision is a little blurry and my fingers shaky and numb. Sorry for any typos or glaring errors of word ommissions and the like!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Emma Got Glasses!


Look at my little librarian! She's so darned cute!

She has been playing "librarian" for the past several days -- ever since she got her glasses. I told her that librarians don't have to wear glasses! She agreed, but informed me that most of them do. (I haven't done any surveys, so I'll just take her word for it.)

A question for my readers...

As I work diligently on writing my book, I find myself stumped on different words to call "senior citizens". Everything I come up with sounds so pejorative.

I want to indicate respect and humor and I can only use the word "senior" so many times without it going completely stale.

So what would you call a senior citizen? I know several of my readers are seniors, so please, please, please chime in here! (You can comment by clicking where it says "comments" right below this text.)

I did a quick google (don't you find it amusing when brands become verbs?) on euphemisms for older people. I found one humorous forum discussion where several names were tossed about, but the only one I really liked was "recycled teenagers". That made me laugh!

Another I term I found amusing was from a poster in England: "twirlies". This stems from when seniors try to board the buses with their senior pass before it's time. The drivers always say, "It's too early." Say that fast! Sounds like "twirly", doesn't it? I'm not sure that name would fly over here in the States, though.

Help me out, readers! How do you respectfully refer to senior citizens?

(As an added incentive, if you comment with a suggestion, I'll put you in the acknowledgements of my book!)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Something so funny that Emma and I were both in tears!

Scott was heading out the door to work this morning. He kissed me, kissed Emma on the head, then started walking towards the front door. He came back to stand next to Emma and he asked, "Do you know what Emma makes my heart do?" We said, "What?" Very slowly he replied, "Emma makes my heart... sing!" At the exact same moment he sang the word "sing", his cell phone turned on playing its funny tune.

I had already figured out what he was doing, but Emma hadn't. She thought it was coincidence and she busted out laughing. The funniest part, though, was that her mouth was full of cereal and she was trying not to spit it out. She was laughing so hard -- it was one of those deep, unexpected belly laughs -- and the expressions on her face were so comical and priceless!

Her laughter was infectious. I started laughing and she laughed harder and pretty soon we were both wiping tears from our eyes.

You probably had to be there. But suffice it to say, I won't forget this one for a very long time!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Time to make a new bottle of all-purpose cleaner...

Early December, I bought a bottle of castille soap (future note to self -- it's $5 less expensive at Trader Joe's than at Target) and some tea tree oil and went to town making my very first bottle of homemade cleanser/disinfectant.

It took some mental convincing to actually forego my much beloved bottle of 409. I finally decided to that I had nothing to lose except a few dollars and hopefully, some grime.

I had just finished reading "Gorgeously Green" by Sophie Uliano, so I decided to use her formula for kitchen cleaner. It was fantastic!

Here's the recipe. I give full credit to Sophia Uliano and her wonderful "Gorgeously Green".


32 oz. spray bottle

2 cups of water (I used filtered)











3/4 cup hydrogen peroxide










1/2 cup distilled white vinegar











1 tsp. pure castile soap












20 drops tea tree oil





Shake well and there you have it! The vinegar smell doesn't take long to dissipate, so don't worry about that.

The purpose of the peroxide and tea tree oil is their fantastic disinfectant properties. That makes me feel better than using just straight vinegar, which any number of people do with great success. I'm just kind of fussy about those kitchen germs. Eeew!

So give Sophie's recipe a try and see what you think of it. Check out her website, too... www.gorgeouslygreen.com. She's got some great information there!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Three-thirds makes a manicotti

Isn't that a great title? I should write a children's book based on that. Hhhmmm... The fraction teaching market has been covered by Goldfish, M&M's and Hershey's, so I'll have to go another route.

Emma actually said "Three-thirds makes a manicotti" last night. I thought it was such a great line that I wrote in down in my ever-present notebook immediately. She and I had the unexpected opportunity to go out to dinner alone together. Scott was at a church function; Hayley was out with a friend.

Em chose to go to Olive Garden, but when we got there at 5:45, there was a half hour wait. I looked at her and said, "It's up to you, kiddo." She looked agonized for a few seconds before saying, "Breadsticks are worth it!"

We shared an order of manicotti, so the kitchen put one, cut into thirds, on each of our plates. I ate one third of mine. Emma ate two-thirds of hers. We asked for a box and while we were waiting, she looked at what was left and said, "Three-thirds make a manicotti."

Too bad for us that we left those three-thirds of manicotti sitting on the table when we left the restaurant. But what an unexpected joy to have some time to spend with my funny little girl!

Monday, January 5, 2009

I am so stalling here...

With the start of a new year comes the internal pressure to organize! exercise! revamp financial details! fulfill those resolutions! And so much more.

This weekend I made a list of everything I'd like to accomplish this week. Hahaha. It's now up to 32 things. And I keep thinking of others.

To be fair, it is 11 am on Monday and I have been able to cross out 8 lines. That's 1/4 of the list. Not bad, right? I could be so much more productive, though, if I'd quit sitting at my desk and staring at the list. Just reading it is not going to get anything done.

But I don't want to do any of it. I've had so much fun over the past two and a half weeks relaxing and playing and reading that being organized and focused again does not sound appealing. I'd much rather crawl into bed, read for a little bit, then snooze for a while.

But wouldn't we all.

Actually, it just occurred to me that I'm hungry. Maybe my general malaise is really just hunger. I have a chicken salad sandwich on molasses bread waiting for me in the fridge, so I'll go enjoy that and see what happens.

Better luck to you all in getting back into focus!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Finally some pre-holiday photos!

Sorry it took so long to get these up. First I lost my camera and by the time I had found it, Scott was doing something to our computer and I couldn't get on for any length of time.

Here's our Hayley-Bear getting ready for her very first piano recital! She was a little nervous, but much less so than we thought she'd be. Although she's been in plenty of choral and band concerts, she's never done an individual recital before. She did fabulously, of course, and we are soooo proud of her!








video

The very same day, Emma had her orchestra concert! Unlike Hayley, she had never played with more than one person before so performing with a group was a bit different for her. These things don't seem to phase her too much, thank goodness. (There were about 30 kids all playing violins and cellos.)


I took videos of the seven different songs they played, but I think this one turned out the best. It was hard to film because she wasn't in front and her instructor kept walking between her and my camera! Emma is wearing a red dress and is standing right in the center...



video

Now off I go to hunt down Hayley's camera (our retired digital) and transfer all the photos I took on that one when mine was missing. So more photos to come!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Deliciously Reviewed: The Great Gatsby

Required reading for high school students across America, but I somehow managed to never read F. Scott's Fitzgerald's most famous novel. I did buy a copy a couple summers ago from one of Borders' clearance bins, but it sat on a bookshelf just waiting for my attention.

And finally.... I picked it up...


The story was.... well... strange. The plot revolves around the misshapen ideology and unreachability of the American Dream. Set outside NYC during the '20's, the main character is merely a window through which to watch three specific people -- his neighbor (Gatsby), his cousin (Daisy) and her husband (Tom). (I think this is the first book I've ever read in which the main character is completely extraneous.)

The three have everything that the wealthy seem to require as necessity, but they are, of course, completely unhappy and disillusioned with life. Through metaphor and symbolism, Fitzgerald opens up the stereotypical "American Dream" to criticism.

What impressed me most about the novel was the absolutely amazing descriptions. I have never read such fresh, unequivocal portrayals. Here's what I'm talking about... It's a section of paragraph from chapter one. Nick, our convenient window, is telling us about the area he is moving into...

"Twenty miles from the city a pair of enormous eggs, identical in contour and separated only by a courtesy bay, jut out into the most domesticated body of salt water in the Western Hemisphere, the great wet barnyard of Long Island Sound. They are not perfect ovals ... but their physical resemblance must be a source of perpetual confusion to the gulls that fly overhead."

Seriously, people, is that not phenomenal writing??? That, right there, is what I aspire to... fresh and eye-opening narration.

Ahhh... the soul-satisfying comfort of enjoying a truly talented writer...

The total number of books I read in 2008 was...

68!




I would have like to get up to 69, which has been my average for the years I've been keeping track, but I kept falling asleep yesterday while trying to finish that last book! I guess I just wasn't too engrossed in "The Explosive Child". Very helpful book, but still, not something to be rushed.


I don't have a clear favorite for the year but one that sticks out from the extensive list is Dream Country by Luann Rice. A fantastic story, Rice writes about a couple living in the wilds of Wyoming with their twin toddlers. One of the toddlers, Jake, disappears and the ensuing thirteen years bring broken hearts, divorce, misplaced anger, hope, courage and a very surprising ending.



Last spring, I was sprawled on the couch deeply engrossed in Dream Country late one night. All of a sudden, I was sitting up saying, "Nuh uh! No way! I did NOT see that coming! I can NOT believe it!" Then I had to recount the entire plot to Scott so he could understand my shock!


So if you want a great, pull-you-in, keep-your-mind-off-other-things novel, this is it!


Elizabeth Berg is an amazing author I discovered this past year. I immediately read four of her novels and was impressed by her witty and clever twists, but most of all, I adore her descriptions! I was constantly stopping to think about how appropo a metaphor was or how aptly and uniquely she described things. The stories themselves were really good, but none of them had the strength to pull to the top of my list.


Definitely read her novels, though. She was one of Oprah's picks a few years ago -- I'm so glad I didn't hold that against her! She's a truly valuable author to study and learn from.

Our New Year's "Revolutions"...

I explained to Emma yesterday what "resolutions" are. For the rest of the day, she kept calling them "revolutions"!



As we chowed on our Banana Splits last night, we discussed what each one of us would like to accomplish in 2009. I thought you, my Delicious Readers, would like to know what the D____ family's resolutions are...



Hayley:

1. Play both pieces in her next piano recital. (She only played one of the two at her last one.)

2. Become less anxious so she feels comfortable participating in things.

3. Become more accomplished at sewing and crocheting.

4. Learn to budget.



Emma:

1. Make every recipe in "The Usborne Little Book of Christmas Cooking". (We started today!)

2. Join a swim team.

3. Read the entire Rainbow Magic series.

4. Learn to sew.

5. Finish her Suzuki 2 violin book and start #3.

6. Play in the school talent show in June.



Scott:

1. Be more like Kate -- live like Jesus and not be cynical and judgemental.

2. Practice the trumpet more often.

3. Learn basic piano.

4. Stop spending so much time with the computer.

5. Exercise and strengthen back.

6. Create a cookbook of recipes he can actually eat from.



Kate:

1. Finish writing my book.

2. Invest my green fund (now up to about $300!)

3. Finish my second book (already started) and start a third.

4. Learn to knit.

5. Start (and stick with) the cash/envelope money system and not get pissed off with Dave Ramsey in the process.



And a family resolution...

A "Word of the Week" -- All of us will learn a new word (chosen by Kate) each week and use it as often as we are able to do so correctly.



Look to the sidebar on the right for a new segment... "Delicious Resolutions". I'll keep you updated on our progress!