Sunday, August 31, 2008

Do You Know Who This Is?



She's a clue as to which book will probably win this month's Smart Remarks book club election by garnering only two votes. But it's not over yet! Please let your voice be heard. Rock the Vote! Remember when all the celebs shoved the whole "get out there and Rock the Vote" campaign down our throats and it totally backfired and G.W. Bush was reelected by a landslide? That was hilarious. We showed them. The look on Meryl Streep's face...

Anyway, to those of you who have voted, I haven't seen this much waffling since I was a cook at IHop.

Please. Please. Please just pick a book. Even if you you don't care which one we read, even if you can't decide between two or three, just pick a book. Please. And then say "that's my final answer" and then your vote is locked in.

Reason for my hissy-fit:

I'm pretty sure if the book is chosen by only two votes, only two people will play Smart Remarks book club meeting with me (and Cristin).

Everyone else will use the old "didn't have time" excuse.
Do you realized you're saying that to the busiest person in America, btw?

The post below details the six book choices... isn't this fun? ::Hiss::

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Er, for those of you who didn't watch TV in the late 80s/early 90s (I was only like 5) and don't know Wanda--click here

Saturday, August 30, 2008

And the Nominees are...

So we need to chose a new book for our Smart Remarks book club. Amy's getting antsy.


From roaming the blogs, I'm guessing we have two nominees so far, but if anyone wants to add a book to our vote, please do so ASAP.

Amy suggested we read Stephenie Meyer's viral leaked, partial unedited manuscript, Midnight Sun.



It's Twilight told from Edward's POV.
S. Meyer was very upset about the leak, but decided to go ahead and post the unfinished half-manuscript online since it is already out there, so her fans wouldn't have to delve into the dark underbelly of dishonest copyright infringement to asuge (made that word up) their curiosity. Go here to read her own words.

Here are my smart thoughts on the matter: I read the first chapter of Midnight Sun that she posted by design right after I read Twilight many centuries ago. I thought I would be bored with the retelling of the same story, but I wasn't. Actually reading what Edward was thinking all along was very... interesting (I want to say sexy, but that's a bit much. ahem.). As you know, Edward can also read other people's thoughts (except Bella's), so we got to hear what every character was thinking. As I demonstrated above, people think things they normally wouldn't say aloud. Yum.

Having said that, I'm actually guilt-tripped into NOT reading the unfinished draft of Midnight Sun. S. Meyer's reverse psychology worked on me, but I'm also not a fan of copyright infringement. Yes, I know I downloaded pirated copies of Radiohead songs in the early century, but I've since seen the light and traded *me* eye patch and woodenleg for pieces of eight.

S. Meyer claims she's dumping the project and won't be publishing Midnight Sun, but time heals all wounds. I think she'll eventually finish and publish it.

After reading my smart thoughts, if you still vote to read Midnight Sun, I will fold to peer pressure and play along. (pause) Actually, no I won't. I'm not reading it. Sorry to be a Debbie Downer. Waa Waa. So you'll all have to go on without me. I won't judge you, just crouch and hiss at you. I'm sure critiquing an unedited manuscript would be fun. Man, I'm a $#@&%!* saint!

Our second nominated book is Lord of the Hissy-Fit by Elizabeth Mayne.



After a quick Amazon search, I discovered that Tom had duped us. The title is made up, but the book does exist. It's really called Lord of the Isle. (<--see link) It's no longer in print, but there are over 100 used copies for sale on Amazon, starting at $0.01 + shipping. One amazon reviewer said: "I found this book to be a bit overdramatic and in some parts totally unrealistic."

Sounds promising.

The second amazon reviewer said:
"This book has everything! Humor, romance, battles, ghosts, castles, the works."

You had me at "romance." Turn out the ligshts Charlesh...

Anyway, if you have any other suggestions, get them out there fast, or you'll be stuck with these two options. I'm talking to you, Mark.

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Oooo, Landeelu gave us two additional nominations:

The Host by Stephenie Meyer

I started reading this very detailed *snoozer* right when it came out, but set it aside to read anything else that caught my eye. I actually want to give it a second try, so I'd totally go for this one.

And

The Princess Academy by Shannon Hale



Ooo, Newbery Honor. Ella Enchanted meets Lord of Hissy-Fit?
I could go for that as well.

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Eek! Another nom. from Memzy.

Austenland by Shannon Hale



This 'un sounds good! Some of these nominations might have to roll over into next month. It's getting hard to decide.

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Mark added a slew of classic novvvvvvvvvvvveeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeelllllllzzzzzzzzzzz

huh? where am I? sorry, I must have dozed off on my keyboard for a minute. Where was I? Oh yeah, Mark added a slew of classic novels to the nomination. I think the one he was really singling out was this one:


Honestly, it sounds like a good one, too. Like Pollyanna on steroids. Especially if GB backs it up with a recommendation. Maybe we should roll over all the losers to the next month, as Mark suggested?

So many to choose from! You gize better get to votin'!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Dear Scott (AKA Amanda),

This is my dad's old fireproof box from when he was in Vietnam. He gave it to me when I was a kid because I needed a fireproof box.



The box is stuffed full of *flammable* letters from my cousin Amanda.



And there's a few other things in there that I did not want to burn, like my Dukes of Hazard coloring book.



When we were kids, me, Amanda, and my sister Sara were especially close--the bestest cousins that ever lived! I have so many fond childhood memories of the three of us. We didn't live in the same town, but around 8 years old, we started keeping excellent correspondence with each other through these things called letters (similar to email). Sometimes we'd get letters three or four days in a row from Amanda. They were always rather brief, but very profound.

I took out a couple at random and found a few gems. (click and enlarge if they're hard to read)



This one was addressed to Sam and Sahar Morgan (new names we had decided to go by). Amanda later requested that we call her Scott (thus the title of my post).





We would always close our letters by writing out our secret "123, 123, 123" clap that we made up.



We each vowed to never perform our secret clap with anyone other than the three of us. One day, my evil sister Erin convinced Amanda to break the vow and do the clap with her, by telling Amanda that Sara and I do the clap with her all the time at home. Of course, that wasn't true, but Amanda believed her and broke the vow. I walked up on the scene of Amanda and Erin preforming the clap just as they were doing the final spin, and I was like, "Nooooooooo." And then Erin started jumping around and cheering and saying, "Woohoo, Amanda did the clap with me, Woohoo!" That's when Amanda realized she'd been duped. It was a dark day indeed.

Anyway, Amanda just turned 30 (old, huh?) and I wanted to share these letters with her and all the internet pervs, so she can remember the days when she was young and her biggest concern was breaking the 123, 123, 123 clap vow.

Hope you had a happy birthday, Amanda!

123, 123, 123, OWE!
I FEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEL
GOOD!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Special Breakfast

I made cinnamon rolls for breakfast yesterday.



I don't make them very often.
We're more cereal-type people.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Adventure

Ah, a new school year. I figure that qualifies as an adventure. I was so unprepared, I bought no new school clothes--happy with that decision--and sent the kids with only half of the *annoyingly specific* supplies on their list--happy with that decision.

They walk to school (we live ridiculously close to the school) and they used to cut a more direct path to school by hopping over our neighborhood wall. Alas, the HOA fortified our neighborhood over the summer by adding deadly spikes to the top of the wall--not so much to keep the bad guys out, but to keep the good guys in. They only added the spikes to the section of wall where the kids would hop over. Ah well.



They walk to school with their BFF, Micheal, who lives right across the street. He is the most well-behaved boy, a pleasure to have around. He's super patient with Homer--he has a little sister Homer's age, Madeleline, who is also Homer's BFF. Plus, he's Cord's age, but he's BFF with both Cord and Gus. How convenient is that? (Isn't it annoying when one of your kid's friends doesn't get along with your other kids?)

Cord and Gus totally remind me of me and my little sister, Sara. We did everything together growing up, including sharing our BFFs.

Homer and I have been walking with the boys for fun. It's kinda hot, but not too bad that early in the morning. Our neighborhood is swarmed with families walking to school because it's so close--it's a nice vibe in the morning.

The boys are never late to school, probably because they want to walk with their friends, but it seems like I've been late for everything else recently. I go through phases where I'm obsessively on-time, then I fall back into my usual pattern of lateness. Here's one of my problems, and it's driving me crazy:



Can someone please come organize my shoe closet? I'll give you a million dollhairs.

Last Sunday, we spent at least 30 minutes (yes, 30 minutes) looking for shoes to wear. This closet isn't the only place we keep our shoes. We have a stash in both of our garages, and a stash out by the tramp, and a few scattered upstairs.

My mom is obsessively punctual. When I was a kid, if I couldn't find my church shoes, my mom was fine making me wear two different shoes (same color, just different) so long as we were to church on time. I didn't mind wearing two different shoes, so long as I could stretch out on our pew and take a nap. One time, I was wearing two different shoes, both scruffy old hand-me-downs, and my Beehive adviser who was giving the lesson started by telling this story of a very poor and needy family, so needy that the oldest girl had to wear two different shoes to church. I just remember slowly slipping off my mismatched shoes and sliding them beneath my chair. Is it more embarrassing to be poor and needy, or to have such a messy room that you can't find a pair of matching shoes?

Anyway, back to last Sunday, as we were walking up to the building, I tell my kids, "Hurry up, we're late." I hear Gus quietly ask Cord, "How late are we?" and Cord answers, "We're so late, that we shouldn't have bothered to even show up."

Yeah, church was more than half over, but at least we all had matching pairs of shoes.

This post started out on one topic, and ended with another. Like an adventure!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

My Other Laughter Problem:

Spontaneous Bursts of Body-Wracking Laughter in the Middle of the Night, or Aftershock Laughter.

First, I can't express how much I enjoyed our Smart Remarks book club meeting last night (And it could keep going if you decide you want to play along and post something). I laughed so hard, it quickly went from enjoyable laughter, to painful, uncontrolled, can't breathe laughter. (This is my secret to rock-hard abs.) I know Amy had the same problem, because she called late last night and there was a good three or four minutes of us just trying to catch our breath, our voices all high and squeaky from trying to talk through it.

So, after that, I settled into bed kinda late, Anthony turned off his Nintendo DS and then rolled over and flung his arm around me, nestling me close in his embrace (yes, I used the word nestling and embrace, and we always sleep like that). Then out of the blue, a few smart remarks from last night's meeting started to pop into my head and I began to burst out laughing in regular 15-20 second intervals. It was an accumulation of all the comments, but mainly Landeelu's comments on Cristin's blog, that made me lose sleep laughing. (Don't read them if you haven't read the book because they contain huge spoilers--plus, you wouldn't get it). But once I got going on that, everything was super hilarious, and I started to think about Tom's hilarious post yesterday and my subsequent hilarious comment (again, you have to really know Tom to grasp the hilarity of it), and I could Not Stop Laughing.

Anthony endured my laughter in silence for a good twenty minutes, never bothering to ask why I was laughing, knowing he wouldn't get it, too tired to care, before he sighed and rolled over to his side of the bed. I curled up in my own little fetal position and tried to prevent my body-wracking laughter from shaking his side of the bed. I don't know how late I stayed up laughing, I didn't want to look at the clock, but I swear it was starting to get light outside by the time I fell asleep.

Now that's a problem.

PS--I seem to recall Mark having the same problem on a public bus. Lemme find that old post... here it is. See, I'm not the only weirdo.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Smart Remarks: Breaking Dawn



Where do I even start?

First, if you haven't read Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer yet and plan to do so, please refrain from reading my long-winded review--though I know that's easier said than done. I will be including some big spoilers in here, cuz how could I not--the spoilers are so freaking freaky.

As you all know, Breaking Dawn is the fourth book in the Edward & Jacob series.

The big questioning leading into this fourth book was "Is Jenny gonna choose Edward or Jacob?" but lets be real people, did anyone not know the answer to that question? Both. (Wait, did I just type Jenny instead of Bella. And my backspace is jammed again! Great. Ah well.)

I have to say, Eclipse (#3) was my favorite book in the series by far. Bella actually started to grow on me by then (remember my review of Twilight?), though I think her character changed a lot after the first book. What I loved so much about Eclipse was that it was so angst ridden--what with poor Jacob Black being the odd boyfriend out. After reading Eclipse, I booked my flight to Forks, WA so Jacob could see me and imprint on me and I could heal his broken heart.



Alas, Breaking Dawn ripped my tragic ending from my soul like one of those special, thick envelopes with the little tab things you pull to rip to open. I canceled my trip to Forks, the airline refused to refund me my money because they said I never bought the tickets to begin with, so I just had to take the loss.

As you've probably guessed, I love an ending with a bit of painful tragedy, so long as there's some happiness to redeem it. Eclipse accomplished that, in my humble opinion.

I kind of wish I could go back and unread Breaking Dawn and keep my tragic ending, though I wouldn't have wanted to miss the freaky stuff Stephenie Meyer came up with. It's like that Garth Brooks' song The Dance:

OohOoh I, I'm glad I didn't know, the way it all would end, the way it all would go, our lives, are better left to chance, I would have missed the pain, but Ida have to miss, the freaking stuff that happened in Breaking Dawn.



Now, on to the specifics of Breaking Dawn.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. I'm not 100% pleased with the direction it went (as I've already explained) but in the end, after careful thought, I decided that I am satisfied with the ending. I kinda think Stephenie Meyer is ingenious, and kinda think she's sick. I am in awe of her.

It had a totally different feel than the previous books, much more Sci-Fi, probably because there was no longer any human main characters to ground us in reality. I was a little depressed that Ed and Bella became teenaged parents. Being a mom myself, I happen to know that being pregnant and having a baby kinda puts a damper on all the romance. Especially if you had as rough a delivery as Bella. I'm pretty sure she tore. What a downer, having to be all responsible and stuff. Especially since the baby was so creepy.

Get your creepy little hand off my neck, Nessie.

Now, about the freakiest part of the book: Jacob imprinting on Renesme. First, take a look at the evidence below. It is a scanned page of my book, page 153, over two hundred pages before Jacob imprinted. Because I am a arrogant, full-of-myself, know-it-all book snob, I sometimes scribble notes in the margins of about where I think the book is going. In case you can't read my writing, it says, "Er, is Jacob gonna imprint on Bella's baby? Cuz that's gross."



It's confirmed. I'm brilliant. I was like, "why is Steph writing this whole 'out-of-place' scene of Quil playing with is two-year-old girlfriend? Is she trying to get us used to the idea of imprinting on babies?" Cuz that's how Stephenie works her magic. She indocternates us all into thinking weird things aren't weird at all.

So, by the time Jacob imprinted on Renesme, I was like, "Oh well." But I have to say, I was a bit disapointed by his "fickle" love for Bella, even though I get the whole imprinting thing. I was also disapointed that he ended up with a baby for a girlfriend because that's not romantic--thank goodness.

There were like 200 pages that could have been summed up by simply saying:

"The Volturi was coming for them, so they got prepared. Some things they did to prepare came in handy, some things were a waste of time. Bella spent a lot of time obtaining false documents for Nessie, but all that turned out to be unnecessary, so there's no point introducing new characters and going into minute detail about it all. Then there was a knock at the door. It was them."



Soon after Bella turned into a vampire, I found myself missing the days when she was human and imperfect. That conflict, between human and vampire, was the most appealing part of the book, and it was removed completely from the last book. The ending was a little perfect and happy. It left very little up to my imagination. Now I totally picture Bella and Edward like fighting over the remote control and whose turn it is to watch Nessie and stuff like that. Normal boring old married folk junk. I kinda think the story arc was extended a little too far to satisfy the crazed Twilight fans, if that makes sense.

Here's my anticlimactic ending to my post (kinda like the book).

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In case you missed it, Amy and Cristin wrote some pretty hilarious reviews for our Smart Remarks book club book on their blogs, so be sure to read them and add to the discussion!

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Eeek! Landeelu posted a hilarious/insightful review as well! Is this book club taking off or what?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Oops

I totally procrastinated preparing for the first day of school and I've been scrabbling all night to get school supplies, laundry, lunches, etc ready for tomorrow, so I didn't write my Smart Remarks post for Breaking Dawn. I see that you had the same problem, cuz you didn't do it either. Hmm.

I'll post mine tomorrow. You will too, right? Amy might even have time to finish the book and participate.



In the mean time, enjoy the new song on my playlist. It's by a teenaged Twilight tribute band called The Bella Cullen Project. Listen carefully to the words. This is their best song on Project Playlist, but look them up on iTunes, cuz they have other wunderbar songs, including but not limited to Vampwolf. I'm a sucker for homemade rock bands. The cheesier the better. See here if you can't figure out why.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

You Don't Know What You Don't Know

We got back from Arizona late last night. We had a great time despite the heat. All you Arizona haters out there, you don't know what you don't know. Phoenix and the surrounding areas were really nice. It was very clean and well manicured--even the older "ghetto" parts that we drove through were relatively clean.

It's a really pretty part of the country (keep in mind that I'm used to seeing flat gray land void of vegetation). I love the cartoonishness of the Saguaro cacti. Arizonians are really protective of them too. Many of the more elderly cacti had little braces propping them up.



I had my eye out for Dick's. Mark promised I'd see Dick's all over the place, but I spied nary a Dick. I did see a Jo-ann's Fabrics.

We ignored everyone's advice and went to the zoo. We're tough Las Vegans, our bodies are used to the heat. We can handle it. But I didn't take into account that I NEVER leave my air-conditioned house and walk around Las Vegas, doing all the touristy junk.

The Phoenix Zoo


(Notice that I'm listening to my iPod to drown out the sounds of children's laughter, birds chirping, animals groaning in the sweltering sun, etc.)




We got there very early, when the heat wasn't so bad, and we pretty much had the entire zoo to ourselves. When the pavement started to sizzle, we went back to our hotel and went swimming. Our hotel was a really big spa/golf resort type hotel. They had 8 pools, and 8 hot tubs. One really nice area had five neat pools and hot tubs, and a huge water slide. It felt like a water park, but without the crowd.

View from our hotel balcony:


It was really nice when the sun went down. I love warm summer nights. I sat out on the balcony and read for hours, while Anthony played board games with the boys and watched the Olympics.


Homer in his chrysalis:


The next day, we got up early and I took the boys swimming while Anthony packed up our car. We didn't bring much with us, in fact, we forgot to bring tons of stuff, including Homer's swim suit and enough clothes to last us through Friday. Homer had to swim in his pajama shorts, I had to re-wear the same shirt I had sweated in the day before, and the kids had to re-wear their dirty shorts. Ah well.

Then we took Michele Bailey's advice (yes, I got your comment just before we left--thanks!) and took the boys to the Arizona Science center. It was really fun! We loved it! They have a Chronicles of Narnia exhibition there right now, that had tons of real props from the movie (we weren't allowed to take pictures of any of it, though). The boys loved it. We didn't have time to see everything we wanted to see, so we'll definitly go back.
(And if you're reading this Emperor Ryan, we'll for sure give you a call and drag you and Sue along with us next time. Although your comment came suspiciously--perhaps conveniently--late. Hmm.)



Here I am, kicking Cord's butt at a wheelchair race.


After the museum, we met Emily (my cousin) and Rob Matson and family for dinner at the Rain Forest Cafe. It was really loud in there, but we still managed a good visit. Her kids are super cute! Ren and Kennedy actually argued over the privilege of sitting next to their mom. Um, why don't my kids ever do that? Her baby Rachel was terrified of all the jungle sounds and growls, and spent the entire time cowered against her dad. It was really cute. Emily is about to have her sixth baby and she looked SO good! How is that fair?
Thanks for meeting us Emily, and answering our neverending string of AZ questions!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Gus

It's the middle child's birthday!

Gus Gregory Esplin
08-20-08



Gus was named after one of my favorite people on this planet, my dad. I'm so proud of my dad, and love that they share a name. Maybe that's why it's my favorite name of the three (shh). His middle name comes from one of Anthony's favorite people (and another one of mine), his dad, Gregory Esplin.

Gus loves being named after his grandpas. He once complained, "How come you didn't name me Grandpa Gus?" I told him that when he's as ancient as my dad, his name will become Grandpa Gus, and that seemed to satisfy him.

Gus was my sweetest baby. In fact, I'm gonna take a shot in the dark and say that he was the sweetest baby that ever existed. He spoiled me and Anthony rotten. He rarely, if EVER, cried, slept all the time, and would eat anything we shoved in his mouth. He was the "strong silent type" as a baby, and he's still that way today. He chooses his words carefully. If I, for example, ask him to run upstairs and tell his brothers it's dinner time, I'll hear him quietly practice it on the way up, placing emphasis on different words..
"Cord, Homer, it's dinner time. Cord, Homer, it's dinner time. Cord, Homer, it's dinner time."

Don't be offended if you ask him a question and he just stares back at you. Sometimes he thinks his answer instead of saying it aloud.

Gus does open up more around his brothers, cousins, or friends, but the larger the group, the more he prefers to blend in with the crowd. This helps him make friends easily, because he just kind of goes with the flow.

He is a pleasure to raise--practically raises himself!

Humor me while I take a humorous trip down memory lane...

Gus's "baby word" was zetteh, said with a French accent and lots of drool. Each of my kids had a different unintelligible word that they would repeat when they were a baby, and Gus was especially fond of his word. Once, I was typing on the computer, and he toddled over to me repeating his baby word over and over and I guess I wasn't paying enough attention, cuz he reached up and pounded his little drool-soaked hand on my keyboard. I looked up at the screen and saw that he he typed his word, "zetteh." Brilliant!

When Gus was about 2, we were at the grocery store, and Gus wanted to help me unload the cart. (Keep in mind that he was going through his "stuffed animal phase" at the time.) So I gave him a loaf of bread because it was light, and then turned around and continued to unload my cart. Then I heard this quiet squeal of laughter. Gus was hugging the crap out of my bread. It was a ball of dough by the time I got it out of his grip, and of course I had to buy it.

Last story, and Gus is gonna kill me if he finds out I posted this, but it's my favorite one. When he was about 3, he and I were driving somewhere together, his car seat was directly behind my driver seat, and I broke wind (the "silent but deadly" variety). A few seconds later, I hear Gus quietly musing to himself, "It smells good in here." Oh, I couldn't have agreed more! Now I always tease him that he loves my toots, and he turns red and tries to deny that ever happened. Whatever, Gus. That's real love.

Here's a long string of pictures of Gus through the years, so we can all reminisce about how darn stinking cute he was/is. He might even be the CUTEST baby that ever existed. Right, moms? Don't you agree? Look at those cheeks!















Happy Birthday Gus! We love you!