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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Another Christmas Come and Gone...

I'm taking a trip down memory lane this evening.  As I sit in my living room (that has puked Disney princesses, mind you), I think back to Christmas last year, and the year before.  It's very true when they say having a baby will change your life, but even more so when you go from just the two of you on Christmas morning, to three of you.
Caris' Third Christmas 2011

This was the first time Caris actually ripped open presents and became excited when she saw what her present was.  It's a little bittersweet; she's growing up so very fast!  This year, we had to get out of her way!  After a brief misunderstanding that Santa was not coming to take her princesses away, but rather, to bring her some more, everything was as it should be.  How she came up with the notion that Santa was coming to take them away, I have no idea.  There's no photo with Santa this year...mostly because whenever she came within 10 feet of him, she became terrified and burst into tears.  Ah...the drama of being 2 1/2 and having to deal with Santa Claus!  

Caris' First Christmas 2009
Her very first Christmas was completely different.  She couldn't even crawl, let alone rip open any presents.  I think she knew something was up, however.  Her smile said it all.  That year, Santa was just someone whose lap she sat on and pulled fiercely on the long white beard.  The tree was just something bright and shiny to stare at for hours on end, and the presents were more interesting for the boxes that held them, rather than the object inside.

Caris' Second Christmas 2010
Last year, she was finally getting the meaning of Christmas (well, the meaning a 1 1/2 year old can understand, anyway) and understood that all that stuff sitting out on Christmas morning was hers.  She looks so tiny in this picture!  She still wasn't sure about opening presents, or why everyone was at her house on Christmas Eve, with even more presents.  

So I hope you've enjoyed my little trip down memory lane.  Princess Caris has just finished watching Sleeping Beauty for the millionth time and counting.  I wonder what the big thing will be next year?


Saturday, December 17, 2011

I'm back....sorta.

Okay, so yeah...it's been a while since I've posted. I know that.  Don't hold it against me.  :)

Caris has a new obsession.  That's right...it's Disney Princesses.  I just started Cinderella for the second time today, and since 9am, we've watched Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, and Tangled.   I didn't realize how easy it was to memorize songs from these movies, but I guess after watching them over and over, it's bound to sink in at some point.

While I watch Cinderella, the current favorite, for about the millionth time, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the last few months.  They've been hectic; full of happiness, sorrow, anger, anxiety, and mounds of stress.

Last month, I watched as many of my fellow co-workers lost their jobs in a lay off at my firm.  Over time, we've gotten somewhat back to normal, but I will always miss those I worked with who no longer have jobs.  I will continue to worry for them in this horrible economy.

This semester was perhaps my hardest yet, and the most rewarding.  I struggled to write a play, and to make it through a literature class with my sanity intact, and I believe I've made it...though some might say otherwise.  I pulled an A out of statistics with the help of my fellow classmates, and I managed to not tear my hair out.  I still have some revisions to do in my play, but for the most part, this semester is done.  All that's left now is my senior thesis, and a general education sociology class.  My thesis is on Jane Austen and her heroines, and their similarities to dear Jane.  There's a survey in progress to determine the most popular heroine, and the least popular...and I'm interested to see what the Jane Austen community has to say.

And now it's Christmas!  I'm still not finished shopping, and have resolved to do it all online this evening.  I've been looking forward to Christmas all year, because I can't wait to watch Caris rip open presents Christmas morning.  For Christmas, she's getting the My First Princess dolls, and the Carriage Play set.  There's some other little princess tidbits, but those are the main things.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A distraction...

Why am I blogging instead of working on homework?  Well, I'll tell you why...

- It's almost 10:30, and I can't look at another page that was written by Henry James.
- I've decided I don't like Henry James.
- While I'm on this not liking kick, I'm not fond of Madame Bovary either.
- I don't like my literature class.
- I'd rather work on my Drama assignments, but I can't because I'm behind in the literature class.
- I do not have enough hours in the day.
- I really want to go to bed, but I feel guilty because I've not finished by assignment.

And...that's it.  Back to the nonsensical language of Henry James trying to review a French novel.  He. Makes.No. Sense. Whatsoever.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

JDRF Walk!

Yesterday, myself, Dave and Caris walked in the JDRF walk in downtown Indianapolis.  Juvenile diabetes is an awful thing for a child to have to go through.  We walked for my friend Sara's little boy, Ryan, who was diagnosed at 2 years.  Thinking about Caris being diagnosed with something like this just makes me shudder.  Diabetes at any age is a horrible disease, of which insulin is not a cure.  More research needs done to discover a cure for this awful ailment.  I have an uncle with an insulin pump.  My grandfather had, and my mother has type II diabetes, and it's a daily struggle to keep blood sugar levels regulated, while living a normal life.  One my hidden fears is being diagnosed myself, since it seems to run in the family.  I was more than happy to hold a bake sale, and to walk for Ryan, and for the others kids who suffer from juvenile diabetes.  If you can, and care, please donate.  Ryan's Super Crew team page is here, or if you would like to just donate to the JDRF, you may do so here.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Time to Catch Up!

So I've been AWOL for a few months.  Oopsie!  My goal of posting at least once a month have fizzled away in a sea of literature homework and a toddler.  Life happens, so to speak.  So here's what I've been up to since my last post in July.

Since July, we have decided to raise goats in 2012.  That decision was made about 10 seconds after I saw a Nigerian Dwarf goat.  Check them out here and you'll see why: http://www.ndga.org/

I started back to school at the end of August.  Taking only 9 hours, I thought this semester would be much easier and I would have more free time to write, etc.  Oh, how wrong I was!  These 3 classes are kicking my butt in all sorts of ways.  If you follow me on Facebook, you've seen my check-ins at SMWC, and my utter joy at being on campus for stats class.  Not.  My literature class is HARD, and the drama class, while fun, is very challenging.  I'm learning lots, when I get over being overwhelmed.  I am once again the Managing Editor for Aurora, which is very exciting, and thankfully not too much work!  I'm also, when I find some time, doing research for my senior thesis.  At this very moment, I'm considering changing books, so we'll see where that goes.

Did I mention being overwhelmed?  Oh, right, sorry.

Our chickens are doing so well!  We're up to almost 6 eggs a day right now, out of 13 hens.  Still a few left to go, but they'll get there.  Our rooster, Heathcliff, has made himself known as the cock of the walk, and crows at any time of day.  Literally.  Who knew roosters would crow at 9:30 at night?  But, I recently made 4 quiches to take on a trip, and every one was made with our own eggs.  Speaking of trips....

I recently returned from a trip to Gatlinburg!  If you get the chance, you should definitely rent a cabin for a weekend.  Gorgeous!  This was a much needed trip, for many reasons.  For one, I needed to see all my lovely friends that I only see sometimes every other year, and for two, I needed to recharge my batteries.  It was a lovely trip with the exception of the drive down.  Believe it or not, I never left the area of our cabin.  It was very relaxing.

Currently, we're gearing up for our first ever Halloween party.  The family Halloween party has been a long tradition, but within the past few years, it's not been held mostly because of scheduling, etc.  Well, I volunteered to have it this year, and it is Saturday.  It's Thursday, and nothing is done.  Organization my name is not.  However, ignoring the fact that I should have taken tomorrow off, we will get it done.

Caris has been growing like crazy.  We moved her to a new daycare a few months ago for various, and we've noticed a definite improvement in language skills.  Whether or not that is from the change, who knows, I just know that you have to watch what you say around her.  She's repeated some rather off color words we've said.  Oops.  But, she's speaking in sentences and is soaking up knowledge like a sponge.  She loves her toddler princesses, and her favorite movie is Tangled, hands down.  The Disney castle brings shrieks of joy, and she is as I'm writing this, giggling as Rapunzel uses her frying pan on Eugene.

So I'll try not to go AWOL for this length of time again.  School isn't letting up at all, but hopefully I can get some posts in here and there.  Oh, and I have a new obsession that I must thank friends Sarah, Rachel, and Jill.  The Pioneer Woman.  Check her out.  Join the obsession!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Day at the Fair...

If you follow my blog, and have the most recent Flickr photo stream pictures, you'll discover we went to our county fair today.  I entered three photos into the open class amateur category, and came home with a 3rd place.  Not bad for a first go!  We wandered aimlessly with my parents through the poultry barn, the goat barn, the sheep barn, the swine barn, and the cattle barn.  Caris pet a baby goat, a mule, and I think she got her little hands inside a sheep pen to touch their wool.  Of course, the fair can't go on unless it's literally 95 degrees in the shade, and we were sweltering.  Luckily, Caris is too young to understand that at 5pm, the carnival rides start.  The day will come, however, when our little farm girl decrees she wants to ride the rides.  Until then, we'll stick to animals and open class competitions.

And besides, I hate carnies.  Very small hands.  Smell of cabbage.  ;)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

An attempt to be responsible...

I have a rant ahead, and before I get going, let me preface what I am about to rant about.  For about a year now, we've been making an effort to more environmentally friendly.  No, we're not as good at this as we'd like, but it's a slow process and we keep plugging away.  We have plans to do more, but require the time to put such practices into place.  We're getting there, however.

One of the things I've been trying really hard to do is stop using plastic grocery sacks in favor of the fabric ones. I have nothing against anyone who uses them, of course.  They are handy to have around and last a long time.  However, when you get to where you have 2 cabinets full of them, then it's time to rethink the plastic grocery sack.  Yes, we can take them to recycled (another stage in our process), but why not use something reusable?  I have multiple fabric bags from many, many different places: CVS, Kroger, Walmart, the bookstore, one from my dear friend Kristin that came from Half Price books with the lines from the constitution regarding free speech...stuff like that.  I take them grocery shopping with me.  People hate that.  You'd be surprised just how many people in line behind you cannot hide their annoyance as the cashier puts your stuff in fabric bags.  What's worse, most of the time the cashiers are usually clueless when I hand them over.  Twice at Walmart I've had issues.  The first time, I needed to buy a few more and use them right then.  The cashier (again...clueless) had nothing to cut them open with after she'd rang them up, so another cashier took them over to the service desk to cut them open.  Almost 10 minutes later, after having several chatty conversations with others, she comes back with them.  I had already paid and was on my way out the door.  Then today, the cashier looked at me as if I had grown two heads when I handed her my bags.  She was completely baffled, and had no idea how to sack anything.  Really?  I handed her an insulated bag for the cold stuff, and she put the meat in, then proceeded to pile all my boxed foods on top.  *sigh*

This does not deter me, however.  Yes, people behind me sigh audibly when they see I'm not going with the norm and using the plastic bags, but what do I care?  At least I am safe in the knowledge that I am attempting to do my part.  What are they doing?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Like any good mistress....

....I am keeping chickens.  The history of keeping chickens for eggs, meat, and feathers goes way, way back, and I won't bore you with a lecture.  Needless to say, we're doing something many have done before us.  I resisted at first, thinking about the smell, the poo, and the general overall ick that would come along with them.  Then I visited a friend and her flock.  I was hooked.  Hers free range and actually greeted me as I stepped out of the truck.  As I watched them crowd around the feed, I thought "I can do this!"  Next, I set out learning about breed, because yes, there are many, many breeds of chickens!  Not all chickens lay white eggs, the majority lay brown, and then there are those that lay blue ones.  I agonized for weeks over what breed I wanted, then I realized I could order multiple breeds at once!  Happy thought indeed!  I decided to narrow it down to 4 breeds, and 12 chickens to start with.  I didn't want to get in over my head!  I studied breed charts, the number of eggs each breed is said lay each week, and with all that swimming around in my head, I chose.  4 Buff Orpingtons, 3 Silver-Laced Wyandottes, 3 Barred Rocks, and 2 Easter Eggers, for Maddie and Caris.  The Buff's and the Barred Rocks are old breeds that are common in many backyards, and the Wyandottes, while old as well, are simply just gorgeous.  Yes, chickens can be gorgeous as well as cute when they are fuzzy.

And so, the day came!  14 little fuzzy butts were carefully placed in the brooder, heat lamp on so they don't catch a chill.  I didn't realize that having baby chicks is almost like having infants, they need almost constant attention to make sure they are not too hot, or too cold.  The first week is the worst, and knowing this I walked with baited breath out to the coop to check on the little ladies, hoping that all were alive and peeping.  After the disaster with the meat birds, I didn't hold much hope.  But, I can safely sat that as of today, they are 4 weeks old, and still going strong.  We have a few weeks before we'll know who is a he, and who is a she, despite having ordered all females.  Chick sexing is 90% accurate, but if we have a rooster, I won't mind.  It will be a few months before we have any eggs, so while we wait, we'll get to know our girls and discover their personalities.  Some are already very friendly and curious of us, coming up to us and even jumping up on my shoulder. (amazing that chick didn't have a heart attack when I shrieked!)

So, this is one way I will be spending my summer...keeping chickens.  Let the adventure begin!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

On this day, two years ago....

...my baby girl Caris was born.  Many of you know the struggles we went through to have a baby.  I was practically into my seventh month of pregnancy before I dared to buy anything for her for fear of jinxing everything.  Her birth is a blur for me, as I was very sick and sadly don’t remember much from that time.  The prominent memories are those of worry because she was so tiny, and that she wasn’t warm enough, or eating enough.  I was worried about the heart murmur that kept her from being immediately released, and most of all, I was scared to death that I wouldn't know what to do when we got her home.  That notion was tested a few times in the middle of the next several nights, but lo and behold, she has made it to two years without too many issues. 

Experienced moms will tell you all those thoughts are normal and will never cease, and indeed today I am still worried about those same things.  However, now I’ve added her falling down the basement stairs, getting stung by bees on the way to the chicken coop, or simply getting hurt in any fashion whatsoever.  But, with the worry, comes the happiness.  Caris is very talkative and insists that water is called bubbles, and that our dog’s name is dog-dog, and not Blitzen.  Bears are dog-dogs, chickens are chickieeeessss, and that the rocking chair on the porch of our cabin in Gatlinburg is most definitely “her chair”. 

So, in light of Caris making the transition from babyhood to toddler hood, I’m taking the rocking chair out of her room before she attempts to climb on it, and the baby toys that she has outgrown will be put away for another baby, or given away at some point.  Oh, and like any good mom, I’m making cupcakes for daycare tomorrow, and throwing a Hello Kitty birthday party on Saturday with party favors in abundance. 

I can’t even begin to describe where the time went, or how I am feeling today.  The last I knew, she was crawling around the living room and had very little hair.  Now she’s running around, chattering, laughing, and chasing cats with little curls bouncing at the back of her head.  I certainly hope the next years are just as fun-filled and exciting as these last two have been!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I'm back, chickens!!!

Last night at 9:30pm, I uploaded my last assignment for the semester!  I am now a free chickie until the end of August.  I can't even describe the feeling of freedom I have.

I have a to-do list a mile long, but I have a reprieve until after Caris' 2nd birthday party on June 4th.  This list includes plans for to turn Caris' nursery into a toddler room, the purging of my closet (*shudders*), the purging of my kitchen, redecorating both bathrooms, taking care of flower beds, and at some point, read and review as many books as possible.  You never realize the simple joy of reading a book of your choosing, until you are made to read uninteresting textbooks for a class that has nothing to do with your major.  *sigh*

I also hope to get some writing done, and a certain story finished.  We'll see how that goes.  My writing bug hasn't kicked in yet, but I'm hoping it will soon.

We're off to Gatlinburg, TN this weekend for a family vacation. Yep, that's right, us, the in laws, and the brother and sister-in-law plus kiddos.  I plan to take a massive amount of pictures, so be ready for picspams in the near future!

So now, all there is to do is pack for the mountains, clean up my house, and plan a birthday party for a 2 year old.  Hello Kitty, anyone?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

It's a bright, sunshiny day....

....and we've been everywhere today!  We started with breakfast at the Crackerbarrel, which is always a great place to take Caris.  Sadly, I forgot to take a picture of the blueberry muffin that was quite literally as big as her head.  There's always much fun to be had with crayons and the little toys they have on the tables.  She even ate yogurt with a normal sized spoon and didn't end up with it all over her,  which is a feat itself.  Then we went down to Lowe's to buy...well, I'm not sure what we originally went for, but we ended up with a VeggieTales herb garden starter set, and two sunflower and one pumpkin starter sets.  Then it was off to Sam's to find a wall mounted hand sanitizer thing, but of course, they don't have these. We ended up with diapers, some outfits for Caris, and a hugely huge back of oranges.  After this, I tried for Starbucks, but compromised for The Apple House instead.  We have some lovely greenhouses around this area, and The Apple House is one of them.  There weren't too many flowers out yet, but I did bring home two raspberry plants.  One is a golden raspberry, which I'm eager to try!


As soon as we got home, we just had to start Caris' herb garden!  She now has three little pots of parsley, and three of basil, along with her sunflower plants.  They are now sitting in a prime location in the green house, and we'll check on them daily to see if they sprout!  Then it was the planting marathon that I decided to partake in instead of doing homework.  Seeds needed planted, and I had missed Caris' inaugural visit to the greenhouse while in class yesterday.  Today, she helped put dirt in flats, and helped me plant some herbs.  She's a good little helper, and is going to be a country girl without a doubt...she was playing in the rocks and dirt, and was covered in dirt!  So now we're napping, well..she is, I'm not.  It's been a great day after a crap week.  I don't feel the slightest bit of guilt for not doing homework all day long.  I'd rather play in the dirt.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Piper

Tonight, around 8pm, we lost Piper.  I have to get this out, so please forgive me for the rambling.

Piper was 9 years old, but never acted like she was an older dog.  She was full of energy and life.  Piper was probably the sweetest dog I have ever had the privilege of having in my life.  She always wanted to be where you were, whether it be in the bedroom, or in the living room--she was there.

At the beginning of this month, I noticed she was breathing funny.  Her entire stomach was going in and out, along with her chest, and I knew something wasn't right.  She wasn't eating well, but we had just changed foods, so I thought she didn't like what we had bought.  We went back to the old food, and she still wouldn't eat.  She sounded like she had a cold, but I couldn't shake the feeling there was something else going on.  Our vet confirmed her diagnosis of blastomycosis, a fungal infection that coats the inside of the lungs with a thick yeast, making it difficult to breathe.  There was treatment, but like all things with animals, there was no guarantee it would help her.  We decided to treat her, because I couldn't give up without a fight.  At the time, she didn't seem to be suffering.

As treatment began, her breathing became worse, and I was told she would get worse before she got better.  About a week into the treatment, she stopped eating everything I offered.  She was still making the effort to drink water, but she wouldn't touch food.  We decided to take her to the vet after a few days of this, to see what they had to say about putting her down.  Piper walked into the vet's office under her own power, and laid there while we decided her fate.  I couldn't be at peace until I knew I had tried everything I could to fight for her.  We were given special food to feed through a syringe, and steroids to help her breathing, and stimulate her appetite.  Two cans of food later, and we noticed she threw up, and there was blood mixed in.  I know now that was a sign of things to come.

This morning, she was laying by her water bowl, spread eagle, but alert, and looking at me.  I tried to get her to stand, but she wouldn't.  I let her stay there, mostly because she was making the effort to drink water.  Dave kept watch over her all day, and fed her tiny portions at a time.  She never got up on her own.  When I got home, we carried her outside to do her business, and she couldn't stand on her own.  We brought her back inside and laid her down on a blanket in the kitchen.  I knew then she wouldn't be with us much longer, and I hated the thought of taking her a cold office, and having her put down.  I wished beyond hope she could have her last few hours with us at home.  Little did I know a mere hour later she would be gone.  I had fed her half of her food, and for ease put her antibiotic and steroid in the syringe so I didn't have to force anything more than I had to.  She took her food fairly easily, and then I gave her a dose of benadryl to maybe help her breathing a bit. Piper was gone less than an hour later.  I'm still questioning whether or not that dose of benadryl is what ended her life.

I can't even begin to relate how much I miss her.  When I was losing pregnancies, she was always there beside me, letting me cry in her fur when I was alone.  We buried her tonight in our side yard, under a tree, with her bones tucked in next to her.  I will miss you, my sweet girl.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Hanging in there...

I've not blogged recently, mostly because I've been busy with school.  Okay, overwhelmed with school.  But that came to a bit of a halt this past week.

One of our dogs, Piper, was diagnosed with blastomycosis, a deadly fungal infection.  She acquired this by breathing in a spore, which turned into an infection in her lungs.  My once powerful, and sweet German shepherd girlie is now a very sick, thin, baby.  It breaks my heart to have to tempt her with all sorts of foods to get some calories in her.  Today, nothing would induce her to eat but about five licks of gravy and meat.  Yesterday, she ate 4 eggs.  She still drinks, though.  Especially after I force peanut butter in her mouth and make her swallow.

I'm not naive enough to think she will come through this with flying colors.  If you followed the link above, and read the information, you know we're likely fighting a losing battle.  But, as long as she continues to make an effort to drink, and sometimes eat, and actually move throughout the house, come to the fence when I get home, and meet us at the door, I will continue to fight for her.  As a good and wise friend told me, she will let us know when it's time, and she can't fight anymore.

It's devastating, because when I was losing pregnancies, I had my dogs.  Piper would lay on the bed with me as I cried, or just slept.  She seemed to know I was hurting, and did what she could to ease my pain.  She's the sweetest dog I have ever had the privilege to have, and I hope beyond hope we get to have her around a little while longer.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Copyright, schmopyright....

I usually do not have any problems with Walmart.  I see them as a necessary evil, and so I do shop there for groceries, etc.  I'd rather have a Target, but I digress....

So today I went to Walmart to print out some pictures for Dave's Valentine's Day present.  My dear friend Sara, who is an excellent photographer, kindly took pictures of myself and Caris at my house a few weeks ago.  Today, I went to Walmart to have these printed, so I could frame them for Dave.  When I arrived, I was asked for a release to reprint the photos.  I was confused, as these prints were not taken at a professional studio, but in my living room.  When I explained this to her, I was told I could not have my pictures unless I had a written release from the photographer.  Umm...excuse me?  After explaining again that these were not from a studio (to which the guy standing next to her said "they're studio, they have to be") I became a little angry.  The girl waiting on me was rude from the beginning, and this other person accusing me of lying sent me over the edge.  In the nicest way possible, I explained again the situation, and was then asked if I had the memory stick.  As I handed this to her, she then told me that wasn't good enough.  Okay....I just gave you what you asked for, and you refused it?!  Having been pushed to my limit already, I contacted Sara to explain the situation, and she then spoke to the person at Walmart.  Finally, I was given my pictures, having been required to sign a release that would be good for one day only.  After all their threats about Fuji possibly fining me, I finally told them I would gladly speak to them if they had any questions.  The thing is, if they would have taken the memory stick they asked for, they would have seen the original pictures, and the evidence that the photos were clearly taken in my living room.

So, any photo you have printed at Walmart is subject to their judgement of it being studio or not.  They make they call, not you, and will refuse to hand over your prints if you do not have the proper releases for copyright purposes.  This means the amazing you shot you got in your kids' bedroom, that might have a white background, could be taken as studio, regardless of what you tell them.

Needless to say, I won't be utilizing their photo services again.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

One week in....

....and I'm already behind.  This is not my fault, however.  I have only one class that I can actually do homework in, and that would be my film class.  The textbook for my ethics class has not arrived, and my professor for Shakespeare has had a power outage due to the storm, and cannot send me the syllabus because it's on her desktop computer.

*sigh*

So technically I'm not behind.  It's still worrisome, however.

New look...

In defiance of the continuous winter weather we keep having, I have changed my blog look to something flowery and summery.

Take that, Old Man Winter!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Ice, ice, baby!

So the adventure began Monday night when it began to rain.  As night fell, that rain turned to freezing rain, and proceeded to cover everything in sight.  Tuesday was mostly uneventful, until the sleet began later in the evening. After making an emergency pot of chili, we spent the evening watching the electricity go off and on, waiting for the  moment it would go off and not come back on.  That happened at 10:55pm.  *sigh*  Power outages don't bother me too much, because when you chose to live in the country, you have to learn to deal with these things.  What I don't like is power outages during the winter, when the temperature outside drops into the single digits.  That's what we were facing today.  We emptied the contents of our fridge and put most of it outside in a sheltered place so it wouldn't spoil.  After the genius idea of using our ice-covered gas grill burner to heat up lunch, I kept adding wood to the upstairs fireplace, and checking the thermometer to see it never get above 60 degrees.

After checking up on the status of our power, and hearing it was going to be Friday before it came back on, I seriously considered braving the roads to head to my parents house, which had never lost power on the other side of the county.  Then, a ray of sunshine in the form of a Duke Energy truck could be seen in front of our house.  Those wonderful men told us it would be a few hours at the most.  It was less than 2 hours, and power was back!  I've never been so happy to have electricity in my entire life!  Power outages during the summer are easy to deal with if they're short in duration, but winter?  No thanks!

So now, here we are...power back on, it's all warm and toasty inside, I'm on my full charged laptop and not pecking away on my phone.  I can safely say in my 35 years of living in this area, I don't remember any winter storm being this bad, and I hope we don't have another one any time soon.  There are still so many people without power; our county was the hardest hit in Indiana.  The low tonight is 2 degrees, and I hope those still without power will be okay.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Diary of Colonel Brandon, by Amanda Grange

Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge 2011
The Diary of Colonel Brandon, by Amanda Grange

Colonel Brandon happens to be one of my favorite Jane Austen heroes, and Amanda Grange's look into his private thoughts makes him even more my favorite.  In this heartbreaking, yet amusing tale, we learn of his history with Eliza, his first love, and her daughter, seduced by Willoughby.  Grange portrays Brandon's heartache so well with so few words, exactly like the soft spoken Colonel Brandon we all imagine.  His quiet love for Marianne, and his generosity to Edward create the character we all know and love.  I was moved by his grief at losing Eliza, but shed tears as Marianne accepted him at long last.  His fellow soldiers in India and in England, and his insufferable family complete the story of Austen's quiet Colonel, and give us an idea why he is the man he is.  A wonderful read for any Jane Austen fan, but a particularly delightful one for lovers of Sense and Sensibility.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Here We Go Again...

So I went to the doctor today.  Who cares, you might think to yourself...people go to the doctor everyday.

For me, going to this doctor in particular, makes my blood pressure skyrocket.  My OB/Gyn is a wonderful doctor, and I have Caris because of him, but my blood pressure rises because of the anxiety I always get when he starts wanting to do tests on me.  My paternal side has a strong history of cancer, in particular a great aunt had uterine, ovarian, and cervical cancer.  You can appreciate my anxiety, yes?  I obviously have no symptoms of that deadly disease, but all it takes is a fleeting thought of it to send me reeling.  The last several times I was in his office, it was happy, baby on the ultrasound visits, and talk of bed rest and delivery.

My reasons for going today are not a secret...I want Caris to have a little sister or brother.  However, I've learned from the past that it's best if I pay a visit to the doctor and get the prescribed cocktail of glucophage, baby aspirin, and prenatal vitamins.  The more prep work I do, the better chance of the aforementioned brother or sister.  Now I am to undergo a simple procedure to get me ready, and then it's game on!

Monday, January 17, 2011

In Which I Am Annoyed...

So tonight I attended the first Aurora meeting of the semester.  I really enjoy these meetings, mostly for the discussion that I don't get being a distance student.  Well, tonight, the discussion turned interesting, and I had to bite my tongue at some remarks another student made. These remarks pegged her as young, and lacking knowledge of the literary world.  I'm not claiming I have extensive knowledge, but over time, I've learned a few things.

So it went like this- we critiqued a short story this evening and it was obvious to me that either this author did not have a good grasp of grammar, or English was not their first language.  I leaned towards the language, just because of the errors I saw.  It was a story about a woman having her forty-first birthday, and feeling like she was no longer pretty, and that her husband no longer felt attracted to her.  This woman tried many things to preserve her youth, and decided the night of her birthday to stop at a bar and have some drinks, and flirt with some men.  As she is leaving with one of these men, she walks past a jewelry store and sees that a pair of earrings she admired were gone.  She realizes her husband bought them for her, and she races home to enjoy her evening with, and dies in a car accident on the way there.

So, this student's first remark was that it was written like a cheesy romance novel.  Hrm...really?  Okay.  So I commented that perhaps this was the tone they were going for, and other than some syntax errors, it was decently written.  Her next reply was questioning whether any romance novel was well written.  Okay folks, you know where that took me.  I bit my tongue, but there was no point in arguing with a 19 year old that believes anything other than classical literature is good literature.  It turns out this author was international, and English was most definitely her second language, as I suspected.  Of course, they back peddled and said they felt horrible for saying such things, and that perhaps we should publish it because it would be an international writer.  WTF?!  I kindly pointed out it would be better to stick with quality as opposed to just having an international writer.  I really wanted to ask where HER submission was, or if she had been published.

This entire exchange just proved to me how snobbish people are about literature.  This girl is obviously a literary snob, and I don't really fault her for that, but I wish people would open their eyes and minds a bit, and look past the stereotype.  I was very irritated and said little throughout the rest of the meeting.  There was nothing to say, actually.  I had no desire to try and change her mind, but I'm still annoyed as I type this.  Is it an age thing?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Being a Jane Austen Mystery Challenge: Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor

Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor, by Stephanie Barron

Having never read any in this series of books, let me first say I was very excited to learn of a mystery series featuring Jane Austen.  Being a Nancy Drew lover, I was psyched to read the entire series.

And now after reading the first mystery, I am even more psyched!  I couldn't put it down!

Jane attends her great friend Isobel, the newly wed Countess of Scargrave, at a ball in honor of her marriage.  Being of humble circumstances, you immediately feel Jane's unease at being surrounded by the finery of the ton, but she deals with it well and enjoys herself.  This pattern is repeated throughout the book, as well as her self doubt in breaking off an engagement.  It is Jane's life, mixed in with the murders at Scargrave that make this book so enjoyable.  I think if it had just been the mystery, the book would not have been as well-rounded.  Jane's natural wit when put into practice in matters other than writing is enjoyable as is her natural curiosity that serves her well as the murder trial commences and she searches desperately for the real killers while her friend sits in prison.  Her tenacity and charm endear her to most everyone...except for those who want her out of their business.

Barron's writing is flawless; her characters are well-rounded and believable, as is the mystery.  There are no gaping plot holes, and in fact, I was guessing up until the very end.  There's nothing better than a mystery where you are taken by surprise by the identity of the villain, and in this mystery, the plot details are laid out with such subtlety that you are not sure until the very end.  An enjoyable read, and I can't wait to start the next one!

Friday, January 14, 2011

The New Semester is Upon Me!

So today I received the schedule for my school return coming up in a few weeks.  This break has been way too short, and yet, I am ready to get started again.  This semester I believe will prove to be interesting, for many reasons:

Shakespeare: while I am not opposed to an entire class on Shakespeare, I will admit I am a bit intimidated.  And I have the same professor (Sister) from my Women Writer's class who I had so many problems getting my grades back.  I've already heard from a past student of this class with this professor, and the problems she had.  I hope beyond hope there are no issues.

Film, Culture, and Creativity: I can't wait for this class!  I have the same professor as I did for my images class, who so graciously allowed me an extra week to get my assignments in without paying for an extension.  I'm psyched for this one and I hope it is just as awesome as I hope it is.

Christian Ethics: Okay, my professor for this class is Mr. Collins, LOL!  All kidding aside, this isn't a class I chose to take, but rather, it's a requirement.  I have some issues with the words "Christian" and "Ethics" put together, so we'll see what this class has in store for me.  I kinda wish this was a campus class, only for the discussion.

Algebra: I'm told I have the best professor for this class, and I'm taking it alternative format, meaning it will be every other Saturday in April, and one in May.  Surely I can last this long?

So that's my rundown for the semester.  I'm still Managing Editor of the Aurora, and am currently drafting acceptance and rejection letters for the magazine.  I'm taking 12 hours this semester, and I hope with the Math being only in April and a little bit of May, I can get my other assignments done in a good amount of time and not be in fear of falling behind like I was this past semester.  *shudder*  I think I have a good mix of classes this semester, even if I am intimidated by an entire class devoted the the Bard.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Snowmageddon!

Ah, so here we is go...the next big snow storm of the season is upon us.  This means the mass hordes will head to the grocery store to stock up on the staples of bread, milk, and eggs, as if that will save all of mankind from a snowstorm.  I only needed a few things of the non-staple variety, so with Caris strapped into the newly sanitized shopping cart, we headed into the mass of people frantic for food to ride out the storm.  There were moms trailing three or so kids, wondering around with carts so full not one more thing would fit inside; elderly women, their coats buttoned to their chins, Isotoner gloves on, picking through the jam to find their favorite; and elderly men, with mostly empty carts except for canned soup and frozen dinners.  There were people everywhere...no aisle was empty with one exception: the wine aisle.  Here I turned and stood for a moment, checking things off my list, out of the way of the mass mob vying for the last scraps of non-perishable food.  The wine aisle was a serene wonderland of bottles and wide open spaces.  An oasis of calm.  But alas, I could not stay there forever, and back into the foray I went to stand in line to check out.  Let's not talk about how long that took.

And then the fun begins in the morning, when I attempt to drive to work in all this mess.  I'm sure there will be another rant about 4-wheel drive drivers and their stupidity.  Stay tuned.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

What the hell is wrong with people? R Rated post ahead...

I am disgusted.  This will be no mild-mannered blog post, folks.  I'm pissed.  This is my opinion of the events of the day, and my opinion only. My thoughts are with everyone present at the meeting where this took place.  I cannot imagine the horror.

As I listen to the news media back track over announcing Rep. Giffords dead, and now indicating she is in surgery in critical condition, my thoughts go to the person who commit this crime.  This just proves that people cannot be adult about ANYTHING anymore, and have to act like a spoiled brat that doesn't get their way.  There's a reason America is a democracy, there's a reason so many died to preserve our freedom, and people like this have no sense of anything.  They are a waste of space.  What has happened to our country, that people think it's okay to do something like this?

And now to the shooter:

Who in the hell do you think you are?  I don't care what kind of life you had, or how bad it has been, that does not you, or anyone the right to take another person's life.  A child was killed for God's sake!  Who in the hell do you think you are, asshole?  What gives you the right to decide if one lives or dies?  Your gun?  I don't think so, asshole.  You are not fit to be a human, and I hope when the courts get through with you, you will spend the rest of your miserable life rotting in a prison somewhere (please don't let them sentenced to THFedPen!) and I hope when the bad asses in your cellblock learn what you did, they use you as their bitch.  I'm not for or against the death penalty, but someone like you deserves exactly what you dished out.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Getting an early start!

So I'm getting closer to graduation...next year in fact.  I'll know more about exactly when after I meet with my advisor in a few weeks.  My wish for a graduation gift is a trip to England and Wales.  It's been my wish for quite a while, actually, but I think it's a great graduation gift to myself.  Geesh, that sounds narcissistic!  Regardless, it's what I want for graduation, and after all these months of my nose in a book that's not of my choosing, I think it's a fair request! ;)

Really, we've been trying to go forever now.  I've lost count of how many time we've actually started to make plans, look at dates, etc., only for something to come up and completely wipe out the idea.  Needless to say I've not been amused at those turns of events.  

Until then, I've decided to start my England 2012 bank account.  Monday I will go to the bank and start an account.  I have no idea when I'll have any extra money to dump in there, but I'll do my best.  I figure if I give up some things during the week, I can slowly build until I at least have spending money! lol

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Why I read romance novels

I get this question a lot it seems, and I'm not sure why.  What is is about romance novels that make those who do not read them, question me as to why I read them?  Is it because they contain *gasp* sex? they whisper.  Am I trying to escape from something? they ask knowingly.  No, actually I'm not, thanks.  Are they serious?  These lovely people cannot fathom why I want to read "smut".  It's as if they don't consider it literature, and so I quickly tell them that many, if not most romance novels are very well written, and the stories are full of romance, angst, history, fabulous plot lines, and yes, sex.  That always gets an eyebrow raise!  Usually these conversations are funny, and it ends with me recommending an author for them to start out with if they're interesting in taking the plunge.  I have no idea if they actually read the book I recommend, but I've done my part for the good of the genre.

I remember when I first began getting into romance novels, and how I would browse the rows of books every time I went into the drug store, anxious to see if I had missed a book by a favorite author.  I could never walk out of a bookstore without at least four or five books.  And that was on my own!  The group book shopping expeditions are the best, of course.  I'll admit, some covers are embarrassing to tote through Barnes and Noble, unless you are in a group of fellow romance novel readers, and you've all got one tucked under your arm.  Nooks and Kindles give the most shy reader the means to read whatever she wishes without those covers announcing to everyone that you're reading an romance novel.  But...I don't mind the covers.  Some, I will give you are very cheesy, but there are some that are very tasteful.  I once had a lady tell me she could never read a book with such a scandalous cover.  (her words, not mine!)  Just think, this person is going to miss out on some seriously good books just because she is afraid of a cover!

So why do I read romance novels?  It's for the other world I am transported to, if only just for a few hours.  It's the amazing writing I find, the angst-ridden plots that pull at my heartstrings, and it's the love that these characters have for each other.  I'm a historical junkie, and part of the thrill for me is the setting in Regency England.  Being taken back to that era is an escape for me, and no, I'm not trying to escape anything in my life.  So the next time you're in the bookstore, don't pass by the romance aisle with a mere glance.  Take a moment to walk down the aisle and see what's there.  Pick up a book and read the synopsis on the back.  Have a seat and read a chapter.  Romance novels aren't "cheap literature" and they aren't insignificant by any means.  Sometimes, you just need to read some fluff at the end of the day.

Another challenge...

....and it's a good one!

Come on over to Bookishly and join in our Romance Reading Challenge!!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Do I dare?

I've just learned there is a Austen short story contest going on...and I'm seriously considering entering something!  Here is the link: http://austenprose.com/2010/12/14/announcing-the-jane-austen-made-me-do-it-short-story-contest/

I've missed writing so much, and this would be something that mean a short commitment.

Hrm...so do I dare?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Goals...not resolutions!

Alright, I've had nearly five people ask me what New Year's resolutions I've made, and they have all been surprised when I tell them none.  I just never do them because when I do, I never achieve them.  2010 wasn't a bad year, in fact, it was a good year.  I'm in a great new job, have a wonderful family, and am trucking away on getting my degree, with my ring being the big step back in March of 2010.  So, this year, I'm going to make some "goals" and post them here.  I am not calling these resolutions, because when I call them that, I set myself up for failure.  These are my "goals" for 2011.  They are completely random!

1. Keep up with homework, without sacrificing myself.
2. Don't let things stress me out so much (see #1)
3. Get out more...with husband, friends, me and baby...doesn't matter who.
4. Read more!  This may contradict #3, but the list of books read this year is pathetically small.
5. Strive to be positive, and avoid being negative, and avoid those around me who insist on negativity.
6. Take my lunch more.
7. Get to work earlier.
8. Post a blog at least three times a week when out of school, and once a week while in school.
9. Write more, and finish at least one started story this year.
10. Give more.

So that's it...my list of goals.  I'm sure I'll add more as the year goes on!  We'll see what I've achieved this time next year!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

So 2011 is here, and with that a new opportunity to broaden my horizons and move out of my comfort zone slightly to discover new literature.  Bring on the reading challenges!


Historical Fiction Challenge 2011:  Ha!  My favorite genre!  I think I can handle this!  This challenge can be overlapped with other challenges for 2011, which will be inevitable, it seems.  Here are the levels:  Severe Bookaholism: 20 books; Undoubtedly Obsessed: 15 books; Struggling the Addiction: 10 books; Daring & Curious: 5 books; Out of My Comfort Zone: 2 books.  I believe I shall be entering myself under the level of Struggling the Addiction.  Really, I have severe bookaholism, but time constraints do not allow my to read 20 books that will of course take me way from actually doing any homework this year.  My first semester of the year is a Shakespeare class, so I'm sure I'll have my fill of historical writings!


Jane Austen Mystery Reading Challenge 2011: I do love a mystery, and I've been wanting to get into some of the many Austen-inspired mysteries.  In fact, I'm fairly certain I have one floating around here somewhere!  Here are the reading levels: Neophyte: 1 – 4 novels, Disciple 5 – 8 novels, Aficionada 9 – 11 novels.  I shall be entering under disciple, just because I know I can't handle aficionada with school.  Boo!  Here is a list of the novels (Taken from austenrprose.com.  Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor (1996); Jane and the Man of the Cloth (1997) ;Jane and the Wandering Eye (1998); Jane and the Genius of the Place (1999); Jane and the Stillroom Maid (2000) ;Jane and the Prisoner of the Wool House (2001); Jane and the Ghosts of Netley (2003); Jane and His Lordship’s Legacy (2005); Jane and the Barque of Frailty (2006); Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron (2010); Jane and the Canterbury Tale (2011).  I can't wait!


The Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge 2011: One of my favorite Austen books (no, P&P is NOT my favorite).  This challenge is not only reading, but movies too!  Super excited about this one, especially since I've been in the Jane Austen Society but was unable to go to the annual meeting based on Northanger Abbey.  I'm hoping I can sneak out for the next one!


All information about the challenges can be found under the links posted.  I've reposted very little information from the sites, just to whet your appetite for reading and historical literature.  Come and join with me!