Today's Grateful List/31 December 2015

  • Going to get answers no matter what

Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Old Willis Place

Knocking out yet one more book on my wishlist, I picked up The Old Willis Place by Mary Downing Hahn from our school library recently and finished it off this weekend. While definitely children's lit, it was a very satisfying ghosty read! I liked how the author managed to reveal the layers of the book in tiny increments so that you were wondering along with Lissa just what was going on. Anyone with a child who likes ghost stories would like this one! Here's the link to the Amazon review:

Beyond that, we had Katherine's birthday dinner at the Spaghetti Factory tonight. Yum! Hard to believe she's turning 11 tomorrow. Where did my baby go? It's a good thing I'm not getting any older, right?


Friday, April 27, 2007

Prom...24 Years Later

Well, Hannah is officially at the prom tonight. Of course she looks beautiful in her pink gown. I took her to get her hair done, feeling like a proud mama. I'm not normally big-time sentimental, at least not overtly so, and I'd promised her I wouldn't gush (unless it was to annoy her on purpose). Jeff's mom came over to see her and behaved well, too, something that had really been bugging Hannah who is absolutely her parents' daughter: No mushy, gushy, touchy-feely moments and we're all good.

But now that she's gone, I have to admit I'm a tad verklempt. Jeff and I went to three proms together, the last one in 1983. Now our beautiful daughter is off to her own prom. If I dwell on it, I could start to wonder where the time raced off to...but I'm trying to beat it back because well, that's how I am. I want to celebrate, not wallow. Plus Hannah would kill me if she knew I was being sentimental. But still...I suppose this is what I was thinking in the back of my mind when Jeff and I were first together all those years ago: Will we one day have a daughter who we'll watch go to her prom just as our parents watched us? Yes, we will, and she is wonderful. See for yourself.


Review of Cold in Summer

I finished Tracy Barrett's Cold in Summer last night. It's definitely for younger readers, perhaps eleven and under. But it'd been on my wishlist for a while, and I like that Barrett is a local writer--she teaches at Vanderbilt University. This is a pretty good ghost story overall. Here's the link to my amazon review:

Now I've got another library book to finish that has also been on my wishlist for a while: The Old Willis Place. Yep, I'm on a creepy kick. Must be the end of the school year.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Wedding Photos

As promised, I'm posting a few photos from Amanda's wedding this past weekend. What a blast!~taminator40

Jeff and his sisters at the rehearsal dinner (the best pizza ever!)

Hannah, Katherine, and me

Katherine, Isabel, Grandma, and Hannah

My new niece and nephews: Jordan, Ariana, and Nico!

Jenny, Amanda, Molly, and Jeff

Monday, April 23, 2007

Nineteen Minutes Review

I finished Jodi Picoult's Nineteen Minutes over the weekend. It was serendipitous that I picked it up last Sunday; the following day, the massacre at Virginia Tech occurred. This book, which deals with a high school bullying victim who has had enough, gives insight into how he might have felt, and how his decision to go into his school with guns blazing for revenge affected so many people. Picoult has a gift for making her characters seem real; as a teacher, I can easily see boys (and girls) like Peter who skulk down the halls, hoping to be left alone as they move through their days. While I might have quibbled with the ending to this one (why on earth throw in the whole Josie bit?), I think this book is well done and enlightening.

Here's a link to my review on

Read it for yourself and see if your opinions and insights change. I think it's going to haunt me for a very, very long time...and possibly, it may make me reach out more readily for those kids who seem so alone. At least I can make the effort.


Sunday, April 22, 2007

Back from Chicago

Not time for a very long post, but I had to update everyone...Amanda and Ashley are officially married! We made to and from Chicago and everything went very well. The weather was darned near perfect (mid-70s and sunny after snow last weekend in Chicago), and our friends and family were there. It was so great to see everyone! I adore Jeff's family--his aunts and uncles are so wonderful and I truly enjoyed myself with my brother-in-law Scott and our "adopted" family member Iggy. The best part? I've got two new nephews and a new niece! I'm so excited to welcome Ashley's three kids into our family. They are great, great kids. I will try to post more tomorrow, along with some pictures of the big event.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Terrible Tragedy

I feel as though I would be remiss in not mentioning the heinous tragedy that occurred at Virginia Tech on Monday, though I don't want to dwell on it. I feel badly for the school; how could they have predicted if/when this guy would go off? I feel badly for the shooter; what in his life went so wrong that it came to one moment of utter destruction for not only himself but lots of innocent people? I feel badly for the shooter's parents; how on earth do you not blame yourselves--and should you? But mostly, of course, I feel badly for the victims, many of whom were young people just beginning their lives and who did not deserve to die like rats at the hands of a man they didn't even know. If you haven't taken a moment to go through their photos, you should. You can see life and hope and love and what might have been. It's heart wrenching.

Oddly enough, I'm reading Jodi Picoult's Nineteen Minutes, a story of the aftermath of a massacre at a high school. I almost couldn't pick the book back up Monday night because it was too real. So far it's basically a "victim" book, meaning that a lot of print has been typed about how mistreated the shooter was. I understand that, but I don't think it excuses his actions. Perhaps as I read on I'll come to a different conclusion. The thing with Picoult's books, for me at least, is that she manages to get those characters, for better or for ill, right up under my skin. I feel physically ill when I read what happened to Peter in that book, and it's hard to separate my common sense from my emotions as I read. Which honestly, isn't all that different from the way I feel about what occurred at Virginia Tech.

Sometimes I see children at school who are outsiders or loners, and sadly, I don't always reach out to them like I should. More often, though, teachers can tell which children will be the ones to be violent or "go off" or something along those lines...and there's not a damned thing we can do about it. The legal red tape is astounding, and with NCLB, it's much, much harder to get through those hoops to get a child what he/she needs (because we're all alike and nobody is special ed; it's just we teachers who are lazy about meeting every single need, etc.). So what to do for these kids? Tell someone? Who will listen? Who will help? You're damned if you do, and damned if you don't. You just have to pray that something will get through to the kid and that you won't be in the line of fire someday.

Matter of fact, maybe I should just pray...just pray for hope, guidance, and maybe a bit of understanding, and that the good in this situation will eventually be seen.


Saturday, April 14, 2007

And then there were three...

We went to view the kitten we'd wanted as a little sister for Angus, and came home with a matched set...two little sisters that we could not separate! Fiona and Athena (pre-named and we decided to keep them) arrived home and have been pouncing and playing all afternoon. Angus isn't sure what to think yet; we've been making sure he knows he's still king of the house by paying him a lot of attention. I can't believe we've got three cats now...Jeff tried to act hacked off about it but before you knew it, he had the babies up in his arms cooing over them. I'd forgotten kittens were so small! Especially next to the Sexy Beast, Angus. The girls are ecstatic over our new additions, and I'm hoping we all learn to be one big cat family.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

A Parent's Pride

There are moments in a parent's life when you're just proud, such as when your child makes an A, earns an award, or graduates from school. But today I realized that even the somewhat smaller things are often the moments when your pride just swells and you realize that your child is turning into someone special, someone you are proud to know. Today was such a day.

Hannah's taking AP World History this year, and she's struggled with it, not because she's not smart, but because it's taken quite a bit of learning to adapt to the teacher's style and expectations. What she's always done well just wasn't going to work on this guy this year, and she's been frustrated. This is a child who wants to be a journalist, who has always written stories and had an active imagination; now she second guesses what she writes, though she has learned to adapt for a specific audience. I suppose it's all been a learning experience, though she's still bemoaning her 3.9 average in lieu of a 4.0. Anyway, she has put a lot of time and effort into this class, really trying and stretching herself. So when she got an essay back today and had earned only a 1/5, she'd finally had enough. All year she's worked and wondered when essays were graded capriciously, and she hasn't had the courage to confront the teacher to find out what she should do differently or to ask why she earned the grade. (She does not get this from me, obviously). But today was the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back; her best friend earned a 5/5 and even two friends who consistently do worse in the class than she does earned 2/5. So she stayed after school and talked with the teacher, asking him specific questions and pointing out that he'd only given her two lines of ambiguous feedback. He read over the assignment and agreed that he probably should have given her more credit than he did, and he raised the grade to a 3/5 (which she still thinks is too low, but hey, it's definitely improved!). --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------My point in all this is I'm just so proud of her for recognizing that she'd worked hard and deserved to know what she'd done wrong. As it turned out, she hadn't done as much wrong as she'd thought, and her grade improved. She approached it perfectly, simply asking him what she could have done to improve, and from that, her grade rose. I am just full to bursting with motherly pride...My baby's learning to stand up for herself. Really, could a mother hope for or ask for more? I don't think so. ~taminator40

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Review Time!

I just finished Allison DuBois's first book, Don't Kiss Them Goodbye. I read her books out of order, and I think it affected my enjoyment of this one. I really liked the second one with all its actual stories of Allison's readings; this one was actually quite a bit of "advice" for both psychics and those who live with them, neither of which applies to me. So.... while I would read another by this author, it would have to have many more readings than this one did. And yes, I still wish I had this ability!

Here's the link to my review:

Next up, I believe I will give Jodi Picoult's Nineteen Minutes a go. I've heard great things about it on several booklists, and I do enjoy her writing. I wish I could make more time for reading---come on, summer, and the porch swing time!


Monday, April 09, 2007

A Couple of Photos

Not that I'm by any stretch of the imagination a photographer, but this afternoon when I left school, the sky was just so interesting that I grabbed the digital camera which I'd had in my purse and snapped a couple of pictures. Not sure how they'll look on here, but I thought it was pretty cool.


Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter and Finished Reading

It's Easter Sunday and we spent the day first at church, then at Mom's for lunch (yum!), and finally at Jeff's parents' for a bit before heading home. I have to say it was gratifying seeing our church almost full on Easter, and I'm especially grateful to have seen the Guss family after their devastating loss. God offers them the assurance of seeing their son again someday, and that's heartening. I love our church family and I'm so grateful for all of them!

The girls had their usual Easter baskets full of stuff, though we do try to cut back a bit on all the sugary things. Hannah wanted two CDs, and Katherine wanted two movies, which was good. We had a very early Easter egg hunt around the house, then took off. Now I've got about 20 things I need to do online but of course blogging comes first!

I FINALLY finished The Limits of Enchantment by Graham Joyce. My friend Stephanie had recommended it to me and I felt honorbound to try it since I've foisted so many books on her. All I can say is, What a Disappointment! Suffice it to say that I found it less than enchanting on many levels. Arrgh. Here's the link to my Amazon review:

I'm now reading Allison DuBois's first book, Don't Kiss Them Goodbye. I'm enjoying it immensely so far. I want to become a psychic! Think there's a school for that? LOL

Happy Easter!


Friday, April 06, 2007

When a Friend Recommends...

I am currently reading a book recommended to me by a friend entitled The Limits of Enchantment by Graham Joyce. It's okay, but for a book I began last weekend and that is less than 300 pages, it should be moving much more quickly than it is. When I do pick it up to read, it's pretty good, but I do find my mind wandering occasionally. I wonder why some books that are such hits with people I know well just seem to fall flat when I pick them up? Is it mood? Is it some subtle shifting of the universe? I don't know what it is. The truth of the matter is, I am very good at foisting books off on people I think will really enjoy them, but I don't necessarily enjoy having books foisted off on me. And for some reason, I'm usually proved right when I do pick up a book a friend has recommended, unfortunately. This particular friend has read several books I've told her about, and she always loves them. She was so excited when she found this one and wanted me to read it. It's taken me a while to pick it up, and I even put it on my tbr_challenge list. I don't seem to have this problem with books recommended to me from my online friends. Maybe that's because we're all such book nuts and we know each other's styles so well? Or maybe it's my oppositional/defiant disorder...I want to be in control! All I know is that this particular book is dragging for me, and not for any special reason I can ascertain.


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Did I mention...

Did I mention that I just love my new cat? I have to say that there were twinges in my heart when we first brought him home---I felt like perhaps I was being a bit disloyal to the late, great Rudi. But Angus has just stolen his way into my heart with his cute kitty ways, attacking his mouse (something that apparently must be done every half hour or the mouse will attack him), and showing his selling point (that humongous belly!). I think I might be in love!


Sunday, April 01, 2007


Yesterday we visited a local shelter/animal hospital and came home with....Angus! He was actually named Vashi but we decided immediately that he needed a new name. He stole our hearts when he rolled over in his cage and showed us his tummy (and there's quite a bit of it). He's almost a year old, already neutered, and a sweetheart. He's spent much of his time here so far hiding under the bed, which we understand is normal behavior, though this afternoon he's really warmed up and came out to play. And he's going to have a sister! In a week or so, we'll be getting an 8 week old all black sister for him. The vet says they should get along because a) Angus is very laid back and 2) opposite sexes get along better. We are so excited to be a cat family again! ~taminator40