31 January 2008

2008: The Year of More

I've finally decided on my New Year's resolutions. 2008 is the year of more for me. I want to be doing more of the things that are important to me so in no particular order...

  1. Read more -- I've joined the LibraryThing 50 Book Challenge Group. 50 books would be a stretch for me, but I'm going to try to come as close as I can. I've never tracked how many books I've read in a particular year so it will be interesting in any case.
  2. Take more photos -- This year I want to plan some photo-taking excursions so I can focus on taking better pictures and try different things. I have an awesome camera, but I am only using about 15% of its functionality.
  3. Run more -- I trained for and ran a 5K in October and that has inspired me to keep running. My goal for last year was simply to be able to run the 5k -- this year I want to do it faster, better, stronger.
  4. Blog more (reading, writing, commenting) -- I want to up my total number of posts, up the quality of the posts and up the reading of other blogs and commenting that I do.
  5. Hire babysitters more -- How else am I going to do all this stuff? Actually, I just need a little more help so that when Zoe and I are together, I am not a complete grouch -- especially in the summer when my husband will be married to work. I've proven I can do it all myself, but I don't really want to.

You Make My Day!

Chris at The Reading Nook made my day by giving me a “You Make My Day” Award! Bloggers who receive the award are then supposed to name other blogs that make their day. Here are my awards...

I must start with a reciprocal award for Chris at the Reading Nook. Her blog is relatively new, but she's clearly a natural and I look forward to much more good stuff coming from the Nook.

Musings from the Sofa for her insightful, well-written, and truly unique posts. She definitely motivates the reader and the writer in me. On top of that, reading her blog has been a great way to get to know her that much better.

traciedesigns* for her love of design, obsession with fonts, and eye for the "what's up with that?" Anyone I can have a 2 hour lunch with that felt like 15 minutes is definitely someone who makes my day!

mental_floss for the daily fix of nerd-ness. They touch on a little bit of everything that nerds like me just love. Special shout-out to my favorite mental_floss blogger, David, because his posts are always my favorites.

Manic Monday
for the weekly meme fix of really good questions. I look forward to that every week.

Karen's Comments who I am awarding in hopes that it will motivate her to start posting about this year's American Idol ASAP. I could use a few of her comments on Project Runway too.

Telecommuter Talk for her passion for books, love of memes, and other thoughtful commentary. She's the coolest "pastor's wife" I ever met. (I have met a few others.)

Thanks to all of you for making my day regularly. You are all essential parts of the blogging world for me.


Last night I went out to dinner with some friends. It was a really nice evening -- good conversation, good food, good complaining about husbands snoring, good prosecco, but for the first part of dinner something kept niggling at me. Worry.

I didn't go home after work, but instead went out for a pre-dinner manicure. (An excellent way to start an evening!) I emailed Rob right before I left work and I was hoping to hear from him to confirm that he had picked up Zoë and everything was OK. He never emailed me back. (We both take our Crackberries everywhere and communicate largely via email rather than actually talking on the phone.) I kept checking my phone, but no message to reassure me that all was well. I started to get concerned. At 7:23 PM when I checked for any messages for the 10th time, I realized that at that point, if something had been wrong -- if Rob didn't get Zoë for some reason, if she was sick, if who knows... -- barring immense disaster I would have heard about it by now from someone.

And then I got annoyed. Rob works late 9 nights out of 10 and almost never checks to see if Zoë and I made it home safely because he doesn't worry about it. He already knows he would hear if something was wrong. As much as I hate to admit it, he's got the right idea in this one. I'm sure I can't be alone in the worrying, but I could surely save myself some angst if I could adopt a little more of his attitude.

And yes, I know I could have just called, but I didn't -- probably because I didn't want Rob to think I was checking up on him or something. I don't know really, but it made sense at the time. Once I had my realization I was able to relax and enjoy the rest of the evening without most of the worry I had built up and when I got home everything was just fine -- Zoë was well into dreamland and my husband was snoring away.

29 January 2008

Reading Meme

Tagged again by Musings from the Sofa for Eva's Reading Meme.

Which book do you irrationally cringe away from reading, despite seeing only positive reviews?

Anything on Oprah's book club that I've never read. That is a complete turn off for me. I don't even mind Oprah, but there is something about that book club. I am so glad I read Middlesex before it made her list!

If you could bring three characters to life for a social event (afternoon tea, a night of clubbing, perhaps a world cruise), who would they be and what would the event be?
Elizabeth Bennet, Scarlett O'Hara, and Jessica Wakefield (the bad twin from Sweet Valley High) for a girls' night out. I would expect a lot of drinking, using and abusing men, maybe some stolen cars and other kinds of trouble-making. I would be depending on Elizabeth to help me reign in Scarlett and Jessica when they get too crazy.

(Borrowing shamelessly from the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde): you are told you can’t die until you read the most boring novel on the planet. While this immortality is great for awhile, eventually you realise it’s past time to die. Which book would you expect to get you a nice grave?
Moby Dick. I am sure I would live a long, long time. I know it is beautiful writing, but I just don't care.

Come on, we’ve all been there. Which book have you pretended, or at least hinted, that you’ve read, when in fact you’ve been nowhere near it?
Crime and Punishment. Never cracked it, even when I was supposed to for my high school "Great Books" class.

As an addition to the last question, has there been a book that you really thought you had read, only to realise when you read a review about it/go to ‘reread’ it that you haven’t? Which book?
To the best of my recollection, that has never happened to me.

You’re interviewing for the post of Official Book Advisor to some VIP (who’s not a big reader). What’s the first book you’d recommend and why? (If you feel like you’d have to know the person, go ahead and personalise the VIP)
Pride and Prejudice. Everyone should read it at least once and it is as good a place to start as any. If the given VIP hates it then I know I've got trouble and if VIP loves it then my job would be a lot easier.

A good fairy comes and grants you one wish: you will have perfect reading comprehension in the foreign language of your choice. Which language do you go with?
French. I'd start with Moliere. I would also revel in opportunities to drop the fact of my ability into conversation.

A mischievious fairy comes and says that you must choose one book that you will reread once a year for the rest of your life (you can read other books as well). Which book would you pick?
Too easy -- Pride and Prejudice. I already do reread it once a year and I can easily foresee keeping up the tradition.

I know that the book blogging community, and its various challenges, have pushed my reading borders. What’s one bookish thing you ‘discovered’ from book blogging (maybe a new genre, or author, or new appreciation for cover art-anything)?
I have gotten a lot from the book blogging community, but the best thing has to be the inspiration to read more -- much more. As a kid and really until I had a kid of my own, I was a big reader. I read constantly. When Zoë was born my reading really dropped off and it feels really good to be getting back to reading voraciously.

That good fairy is back for one final visit. Now, she’s granting you your dream library! Describe it. Is everything leatherbound? Is it full of first edition hardcovers? Pristine trade paperbacks? Perhaps a few favourite authors have inscribed their works? Go ahead-let your imagination run free.
My dream library has a couple of walls of floor to ceiling built-in bookshelves and some double shelves too (the kind that slide along in front.) There would be a lot of natural light, a chair and a half plus ottoman as comfortable as the one in Zoë's room, a large desk with enough space for my laptop and my drawing paper. There would have to be plenty of drawers in the desk for storing stationery and art supplies. Above desk would be some excellent modern art. The books would be mostly paperback shelved alphabetically by type (novels, short stories, plays, etc.). One more important element is a door that closes.

Now I am supposed to tag 4 people, but everyone I know who would do this meme already has.

28 January 2008

Manic Monday

Just another Manic Monday...

If you could have a servant come to your house every day for one hour, what would you have them do?
Cook a really good dinner. I would like it to be served and then the servant can leave as we start eating. I hate cooking and none of the members of my household have time for it anyway -- with the exception of Zoë. Unfortunately, her culinary skills are not exactly up to par and she is not yet allowed to use knives.

Has your life ever been changed by an apparently random occurrence?
Yes. Who's hasn't? I can think of two occasions alone where random conversations have led me to new jobs.

You're having dinner with several friends and acquaintances. They all criticize a close friend of yours (not knowing he/she is a friend). The criticism is unjustified. What would you do?
Almost all the answers I've read have said that they would stand up in defense of the friend and I can't help feeling that is definitely what we all hope we would do, but not necessarily what would happen in reality. I am not criticizing anyone because I agree that is the right response. I know I hope that for myself, but it is a little difficult to say until you are in the situation. What if these acquaintances are influential in some way that is important to your job? What if the unjustified criticism is relatively harmless? I think the specific circumstances would be important in this "what if."

27 January 2008

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

Confidence buoyed by some supportive friends, I am making an attempt at writing better (and more) book reviews. I thought it fitting that I should start with the first book I've gotten as an Early Reviewer through Library Thing.

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

I have to say I enjoyed this book despite myself. I couldn't put it down even though it read just like a Lifetime made for TV movie.

The story itself is one that has been told many, many times and I guess that is what makes this book good and bad. It is a classic kind of story, but very little new life has been brought to it. It is the story of best friends and the progression of their friendship as they grow, mature, go their own ways in the world and as they fall apart. You do come to know the characters quite well and the story is not always predictable. The male characters are unsurprisingly one-dimensional and all the women are strong and talented in their own way. And at the end, I found myself welling up with tears as my heartstrings were tugged.

Overall, I would say this is a perfect vacation read. It sucks you in, but doesn't make you think too hard.

24 January 2008

Book reviews

I love to read. I read mostly fiction, but I am open to non-fiction occasionally. I love books, I love book stores, I love book-related accessories like journals and bookmarks. I love talking about books with friends, with book club, with anyone.

So, it perplexes me that I find myself largely unable to write more than a 2 to 4 sentences about a book -- even one that I've really enjoyed. I rarely have posted book reviews here or on LibraryThing or amazon or anywhere else I go to obsess about books. I really enjoy reading reviews -- especially when they are written by people I know. People like Becky on the sofa, Chris in the Nook, and Emily the Telecommuter all impress me with their abilities in book reviews. I find my own paltry sentences to be stilted and kind of pointless. Maybe it has been too long since I had to do any real critical thinking/writing and I have lost that part of my mind? I don't know.

I would like to be able to write some more thoughtful and interesting reviews so I am going to add that to my as yet unpublished list of New Year's resolutions. (I think you have the whole month of January to finalize your list of resolutions so I am not publishing my list until 1/31.)

22 January 2008

You spin me right round, baby

1, originally uploaded by Marcyjill.

I took a series of photos like this one on Christmas day and I forgot they were on the camera until tonight.

Check out the whole slide show -- I think it is kind of fun.

If men...

There is a great post by Erica Jong on Huffington Post today called: "If Men Could Get Pregnant, Abortion Would be a Sacrament."

It is a good, short opinion piece about abortion rights. Maybe not something everyone agrees with, but it does echo how I feel.

That title is actually a quote from Florynce Kennedy and it kind of reminded me of my sentiment from a few posts back that if men menstruated tampons would be free. Another quote that I love also from Florynce Kennedy is:

"There are very few jobs that actually require a penis or vagina. All other jobs should be open to everybody."

Manic Monday

Today's questions are:

If you had to be named after one of the 50 states, which would it be?
I'd go for Georgia. For some unknown reason, I've always like that name. I like the way it is spelled, I like the images of peach trees and plantations it evokes and I even named my last car Georgia. I also like the idea that the nickname for Georgia sounds like a boy's name -- George.

Where do you go for advice?
That really depends on what kind of advice I need. For the most part I either go to my friends, my mother or to Google.

What is the sickest you've ever been?
When I was 3 or 4 I had a terrible bout with pneumonia. I was sick for weeks. In my memory it feels like I was sick for a year. On top of that, part of the "cure" for this was going to the doctor for gamma globulin shots which were quite painful. I lived in fear of those shots and put on quite a screaming show every single time I had to go get one. I know it was a nightmare for my mother -- the shots and the whole thing.

21 January 2008

Late night observation

It never ceases to amaze me how a kid can be so great and so awful all in a matter of hours. There is no in between. A lot of days I would settle for something in between.

I don't remember it well, but I am sure there are parts of being 5 that aren't easy, but sometimes it just seems like Zoë makes it harder than it has to be.

17 January 2008

Feeling Loved

On Tuesday I celebrated my 37th birthday -- or as I prefer to think about it, the 10th anniversary of my 27th birthday. 37 sounds awfully close to 40...but that's not what I wanted to write about.

I had a really great birthday this year that included wishes from near and far, some truly thoughtful prezzies, flowers delivered to my office and some cake. I felt well loved and truly lucky to have such great people remember me -- including my friend Heather who called from the hospital just hours from giving birth to her second son (Congratulations Heather and the D's!).

Among all this great love and stuff, one thing really stood out for me and that was something pretty simple -- it was the card I got from my Mom. It is a beautiful card and in it she wrote that she has loved me since I first moved in her. It feels so good to hear that I've been loved my entire life. And even after 37 years, it still feels so good to have my Mom tell me she thinks I'm great.

Mom, thank you for that wonderful gift.

I want to remember this feeling and be sure to pass the same kind of love along to Zoë as she grows.

14 January 2008

Manic Monday

This week's questions:

Which sex do you think has it easier in our culture? Have you ever wished you were the opposite sex?
Men. Absolutely no question about it. Gender is never, ever remarkable when a man accomplishes something, but a a woman is always noted. I could write a lot about this issue -- especially since I work in Corporate America where the glass ceiling is alive and well, but I will refrain and just leave off by saying that if men menstruated, tampons would be free.

What books from your childhood would you like to share with your children?
There are many, but just to start off with I cannot wait for Zoe to be old enough for the following books: The Ralph Mouse books, The Little House on the Prairie series, Bridge to Terabithia, Island of the Blue Dolphins, and last but certainly not least, all the Judy Blume books.

What is one talent or skill you don't possess but always wanted?
To sing. I love to sing, but my voice is not so great. I was in chorus all through middle and high school so it is not as bad as it could be, but no one ever asked me to sing solo -- rightfully so. I would love to be able to really, truly sing. Then I could maybe fulfill my secret fantasy of being a rock star. Instead, I will settle for singing in the car -- my personal stage.

09 January 2008

Overly angry

Last night I was, in retrospect, overly angry with Zoë. Almost as it was happening I knew I was blowing things out of proportion and yet I couldn't really help myself. It had been a crappy day and she had, in fact, done something to warrant getting in trouble. Even so, I think I over-reacted.

The problem then becomes how do you express to your 5 year old that you realize you over-reacted without completely undermining your own authority? On the one hand, I don't want Zoë to think she can get away with what she had done, but on the other, I don't want her to think I am completely unreasonable or to be afraid of me. (Well, maybe just not too afraid -- a little afraid is good.)

Sigh. This parenting thing is so hard sometimes!

This morning I woke up thinking about the whole thing and still feeling badly. I told her I was sorry that I got so upset, but emphasized that what she did was not O.K. She said O.K., kissed me and then asked for her milk. I guess it couldn't have been too traumatic -- either that or she is used to my particular brand of crazy.

07 January 2008

Manic Monday

Just getting it in under the wire tonight.

What was the last thing you regret buying?
My current car. It is a Jeep Grand Cherokee and technically I didn't buy it, I leased it, but either way I'm stuck with it right now and I really don't like it. The only good thing about it is the satellite radio. I had the same car before, but they change the body in 2007 and the changes have not been good for me. In general I find the car difficult to drive and sometimes uncomfortable. Not to mention the fact that I hate what a gas guzzler it it. Oh how I long for a Prius! Just 2 long years to go...

If you had a crystal ball that could tell you the truth about any one thing you wished to know about yourself, life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?
Wow, that is a tough question. Honestly, besides the Powerball numbers I think I'd rather it all be a surprise. To know about something good happening takes away the joy and to know about something bad just makes it worse. So, give me the numbers for the next 300 million Powerball and I'd be thrilled.

How do you know when you're in love?
Another toughie. In the beginning I think it is when that person is the last thing you think of at night before falling asleep and the first thing you think of when waking. Same goes when you're suffering a broken heart. After that point, love changes and I think it is different for everyone.

05 January 2008

She can read!

The other night at bedtime when I asked Zoe to pick out a story for me to read to her I jokingly added "Unless you want to read to me this time."

"OK," Zoe said, "I'll read to you!" She then ran off to her room and when I came in she was sitting on the chair where we read stories with a book in her hand. She had one of the books from her set of Bob books. She's made some progress with these before in sounding out the words, but she never got past the first one or two books which are very simple without giving up in frustration. This time she had the hardest of the set.

She read the whole thing!

She did a fantastic job too. I was really surprised and happy and so proud. After that book, she read another! And she did it again last night. She has finally cracked the code. If she could only understand how the world will be opened up for her now. I am forcing myself to hold back, but I can't wait to see her reading all kinds of books. There are so many I just know she will love. I have been dying to share some of my favorite books with her.

I guess I really should write a note of thanks to her kindergarten teacher!