30 August 2007

The First Day!

Today was the big day -- Zoë's first day of kindergarten. She got on the bus no problem and looked back only to get her picture taken. She got to her classroom (we followed the bus to school), and sat right now in a circle with everyone else. And then there she was this afternoon getting off the bus like she had been doing it for years. When she got off the bus she said her day was "fantastic!"

I only shed a few tears.

Pictures to come soon...

27 August 2007

What are you reading right now?

I've beenn tagged for another book meme by Becky.

What are you reading right now?
I started it about a week ago and am almopst halfway through. It is for bookclub and is the follow-up read to last month's Gone With the Wind. In this case it could be called "The Other Side of the Story."

I am also reading the latest New Yorker magazine (haven't gotten past Talk of the Town yet) and the latest edition of Tin House to which I received a gift subscription for my birthday. It is an interesting publication that contains excellent work along with some stuff that looks like it was pulled from the local high school's "literary" magazine.

Do you have any idea what you’ll read when you’re done with that?
My shelves of unread books overflows, but I'm leaning toward "The Evil B. B. Chow and other Stories" by Steve Almond. I haven't read a short story collection in a while and the few Steve Almond pieces I've read have me intrigued. Of course a trip to the bookstore could quickly derail that plan. It will be something to look forward to after completing all 888 grueling pages of Roots.

What magazines do you have in your bathroom right now?
The New Yorker, Wired, Marie Claire, Outside and something I would not have believed existed until my husband brought it home called Primitive Archer. Seriously. Clearly my husband has never gotten over Y2K.

What’s the worst thing you were ever forced to read?
The Silent Cry is the worst thing in recent memory. I wasn't exactly forced because it was for my book club so no grades or money depended on it, but it was torturous for me. Farther back to my school days I would have to say some of the plays I was forced to read in my theater classes were among the worst including Ioneesco's Rhinoceros. I just didn't "get" the greatness of that one. (Sorry J. Fred.)

What’s the one book you always recommend to just about everyone?

I tend to always recommend the last book I really, really loved. Right now that book is Special Topics in Calamity Physics. I just really enjoyed and was completely taken by surprise by that book and I have mentioned it to just about everyone I know that reads. There are certainly things I think everyone should read, but I generally don't go around making recommendations like that.

Admit it, the librarians at your library know you on a first name basis, don’t they?
Definitely not. Don't tell the people I work with, but I don't even have a library card of my own. (Yes, Zoe has one.) I like to own my books. Lend them out if I choose too. Let them sit on my shelf for months unread like delicious fruits ripe for picking at any moment. I love books and I am rarely satisfied with borrowing them. (My own copy of Special Topics is on its way to be me as I type.)

Is there a book you absolutely love, but for some reason, people never think it sounds interesting, or maybe they read it and don’t like it at all?
I think The Secret History by Donna Tartt falls squarely in that category. I don't even know why, but I just really enjoyed that book (both times I read it), but I have never met anyone else who would list it among their favorites.

Do you read books while you eat? While you bathe? While you watch movies or TV? While you listen to music? While you’re on the computer? While you’re having sex? While you’re driving?

While eating: Whenever I get the chance. I especially love leisurely breakfasts with a good book or magazine. Reading while eating is one of the best parts of eating alone.

While bathing: Nah. Not a bath taker and books and showers just don't go well together. If they did, I would probably try it.

While watching movies or TV: Definitely while watching TV and especially when the TV show is something aimed at my daughter or that my hsuband has chosen. Never while watching a movie. I love movies so I pay attention to them.

While you listen to music: Not usually because I just don't put music on that much if I am not at my desk at work or in the car and I think driving, listening to music and reading would be a bit hazardous.

While on the computer: No. I mean a lot of being at the computer is reading, but I don't read something else while I am doing something on the computer.

While having sex: No. Reading material is usually cast aside at that time.

While you're driving: No. See "While you listen to music" above.

When you were little, did other children tease you about your reading habits?

No, but it used to drive my Dad crazy. He used to say that my brother and I were the only two kids who had to be told to put the book down and go outside to play. I can't remember a time in my life when I wasn't reading something, but I think my true obsession with books hit me right after I quit graduate school and I had a job, but was overwhelmed with the free time on my hands even after working 40 hours a week. It was then that I discovered Half Price Book Store and truly fell in love with reading just for the enjoyment of it.

What’s the last thing you stayed up half the night reading because it was so good you couldn’t put it down?
I don't know. Since I had Zoe I haven't been able to force myself to stay awake to read like I used to. I can remember reading Jurassic Park all in one night as well as a few Jane Green novels, but I have no idea what the last book was.

26 August 2007

Becoming Pride and Prejudice

By some miracle (thanks again Mom!) I was able to slip out to a movie last night. I had to make a quick decision of what to see. The choices have been pretty bleak all summer (Bourne Redundancy, anyone?), but there was actually a few options last night so my decision, after ruling out "The Nanny Diaries," which I really want to see with a friend, was based on time. "Becoming Jane" was playing at 9PM and therefore declared the movie of choice.

I went in with low expectations due to a few cool reviews I'd read. Frankly, I was just pleased to be sitting in the theater with my popcorn and the fact that the film I was about to see had nothing to do with Pixar. I was quite pleasantly surprised and thoroughly entertained. Although I am a big fan of Jane Austen's novels I know very little about her actual life so the fantastical story didn't bother me even though I am sure it didn't have much to do with reality. The entire movie was basically a reflection of the plot of "Pride and Prejudice", but this time with a different sort of happy ending. The idea was that you could see where Jane Austen got inspiration for each character and plot twist in her famous book. That aspect was quite enjoyable and the fact that she doesn't end up with the man of her dreams is also satisfying. Her desire to be a writer trumps all other desires in her life. Anyone who has read and re-read "Pride and Prejudice" will likely enjoy this movie as well.

My only complaint with the movie is the fact that Anne Hathaway is (in the tradition of Keira Knieghtly playing Elizabeth Bennet, perhaps) downright skeletal. Her British accent was not perfect, but better than expected, but she looked like a stiff wind would blow her over at any moment and her collar bones were so spiky that I would be afraid to hug her. She was really so much prettier with a few more pounds on her in "The Devil Wears Prada."

Speaking of the actors, newcomer James McAvoy was both handsome and excellent as Ms. Austen's love, Tom LeFroy. I look forward to seeing him in the upcoming film version of "Atonement."

24 August 2007

Last Day of Babyhood

Today is Zoë's last day at Pumpkin Preschool.

Pumpkin Preschool is the daycare she has been attending since she was 6 months old. It is both a relief and a sadness to be done with the place. My little baby has grown up there and now she will embark on a whole new chapter of her life (kindergarten!). One that I am sure will be exciting and wonderful and that I know she is ready as can be for, but she'll never be a baby again. I have to say, she was the cutest baby EVER. Seriously. Look at this picture of her at about 6 months:

Starting next week I lose her a little more to the world. But you know, when it comes right down to it, she will always be my baby.

22 August 2007

Green is the New Black

Yes, I mean green as in eco-friendly, recycling, bottled water is bad. Yawn, right? Everyone from Oprah to Tom Friedman have been spouting off on the need to "go green." However, I've been on the recyclying and conservation band wagon since my college days in Ithaca so I have to say it is good to see the rest of the country getting on board. The more the better when it comes to saving the Earth.

All of this increased awareness in the media and otherwise has led me to think about what more I can do to get even "greener." (For the record, in clothing I am really drawn to blue these days and not green.) I have felt the need to do more than the standard recycling of newspapers and soda cans. (Further for the record I am not, never have been, and probably never will be someone you would consider "granola" or "crunchy.") So far I've come up with a few fairly simple things and as I think of more I'll post about them. Here's what I've got so far:

  • I buy the largest size available of products that come in plastic bottles like shampoo and other cosmetics, soda, and cleaning supplies.
  • I've conquered my addiction to Olay Daily Facials Express. While these make face washing incredibly easy, it does mean throwing away the little cloth every time.
  • I take at least one less napkin at fast food/to-go style restaurants.
  • I used to use two paper towels to wipe down the cardio equipment I've been using at the gym and I now only use one.
  • I bought re-usable grocery bags. To aviod any financial impact on the grocery bill, I did this one bag at a time for several weeks and I now have enough for the weekly shop.

Those are the highlights. More to come and I am definitely open to suggestions.

14 August 2007

Tom Chapin

Anyone who's ever had satellite radio can tell you exactly why it is aptly nick-named "Crack Radio." I am lucky enough to have Sirius Satellite radio in my car and even though I also have AM/FM radio and a 6-CD player, I listen to my satellite radio exclusively. And for those of you who immediately think of Howard Stern, I have never listened to him once.

However, I have discovered a number of artists I might not other wise have heard of. Especially in kids' music. Sirius channel 116, Kids Stuff, is all kids music all the time and Zoe just loves it. While I think the station name should be changed to Laurie Berkner and friends radio, I am so pleased that we discovered Tom Chapin through this station.

Tom Chapin is the brother of the late Harry Chapin and as it turns out he is a fairly prolific musician. His songs are really great and have wonderful lyrics that are just right for younger kids, but enjoyable for grown-ups too. Of course the brother of the man who wrote 30,000 Pounds of Bananas should have the same talent for lyrics. (Yes, we have no bananas in Scranton, PA...)

One of my favorites songs of his is called "Questions" The chorus goes like this: "I want to know why and how and which and what and where and when so I am gonna ask and ask and ask and ask and ask again." Then he goes on to pose a long list of questions. The funniest part is that when the song comes on Zoe will provide an answer to each one of the questions.

Some examples:

How does an iPod play?
You turn it on.

Who puts the stuff in stores?
Trucks bring the stuff.

When did your hair turn gray?
When you got old.

Why do we still have wars?
Because boys are mean.

Where do you go when you die?

And my favorite is...

How does the tooth fairy know?

09 August 2007

Plan ahead to do NOTHING

Did you know that tomorrow (August 10) is National Lazy Day? It's true!

And as luck would have it National Lazy Day just happens to coincide with National S'mores Day!

Of course, neither of these holidays are, as of yet, officially recognized, but look out for your local Hallmark store to start selling "Happy S'mores Day" cards any minute now.

By the way, today just happens to be one of my favorites -- Book Lovers Day. I think I'll go celebrate at my local B&N.

08 August 2007

Ask and ask and ask and still no tell

On Monday morning Zoë seemed to not be feeling her best. She was unusually lethargic and coughing and I got the feeling she was acting, but I knew she was also exhausted from the very busy weekend we'd had so I decided to keep her home. She was on and off cranky and spent a good part of the day watching TV and by midday she seemed to be perked up and feeling better. I kept asking her how she felt and I couldn't get a real answer.

Tuesday morning I brought Zoë to school and 2 hours after I dropped her off I got a call from her teacher telling me that Zoe wasn't feeling well, but it was unclear exactly what was wrong. She was cranky -- very cranky. Her throat hurt, her stomach hurt, it kept changing. Lucky for both Zoë and me my mother was able to pick her up and take her home for the day. Again she seemed to be feeling better by the afternoon. And again I kept asking her how she felt or what was bothering her and I got no answer.

This morning (Wednesday morning) on the way to school Zoë told me her ear hurt. Finally! It all fell into place. Since she was a baby, Zoë has behaved pretty much this exact same way when she has an ear infection. It is a cranky, whiny thing combined with bursts of energy to throw you off the scent of the problem. Since she has had about 2 dozen ear infections I can't believe I didn't figure it out by Tuesday morning. I was distracted by about a hundred other things otherwise I am sure I would have recognized it immediately.

This afternoon a quick trip to the pediatrician confirmed my diagnosis. Of course when the doctor asked what was wrong, she told him immediately. At least the antibiotics work faster than Zoë answers a question.