Tuesday, December 30, 2008


I've established that I have a crush on James McAvoy, yes? Good, ok.

We rented "Wanted."

I was excited to see this because....James.


We put it on and it's good. It's exciting and funny and ........wait. What?

A Loom.

A Magic Loom.

A Magic Loom of Fate.

It pretty much crashed and burned after that. That one piece killed it for David and me. It would have been really great without the Magic Loom o' Fate.

Really? That got pitched. It made it through, to a feature film? With Morgan Freeman, Angelina Jolie and James?

A Loom?

We're still cracking up.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Speaker for the Dead

Speaker for the Dead Pictures, Images and Photos

This is book two of Mr. Card's 'Ender' series, the first one being "Ender's Game." This book, to me, had a very different feel. The first book felt...isolated. We're all alone with Ender, enduring all the horrible trials he's being put through in the first book. "Speaker.." doesn't feel as "sci-fi" as the first. It has more characters fleshed out. We get get to meet and experience more of them.

"Speaker.." continues Ender's story. He is 35, but over 3,000 years have passed since the first book. (It has to do with space travel at light speed or something. You don't age as fast when you're in interstellar flight. Something like that).

Ender is on a quest to find a new home for the Hive Queen, while trying to make some kind of personal amend for what he was made to do to buggers (what the entire galaxy blames him for), by being a Speaker for the Dead (unbeknownst to the galaxy, the original Speaker. No one knows the original Ender and the original Speaker for the Dead are the same person, or that either one is alive after 3,000 years.)

We head to Lusitania, a newly populated world where a new species of intelligent being is found. The galaxy is so afraid they will do to this new species what they did 3,000 years ago to the buggers, what they blame Ender for, that they maintain a very hands-off approach to studying and interacting with them. Lusitania is extremely Catholic, which I found rather odd for a Sci-fi book. Odd just in that it mentions religion at all. The inhabitants are strictly Catholic and also Portuguese, so that threw another spin on the customs.

A series of events leads to the death of two "anthropologist" (I think they're called xenologists in the book) and to fears of this newly discovered life-form. Ender is called to Speak for the dead scientists and in the process heals a community and specifically a family torn apart by their deaths, as well as helping discover the true reason why the scientists were, in the eyes of the humans, tortured and murdered.

I enjoyed this one more than the first book and will continue on with Mr. Card's series.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

A Bibliophile's Dream, My Nightmare

Imagine having 9+ mostly-uninterrupted hours in a car, for reading. All those hours to read as much as you can. Heaven. Heavenly. Divine.

Unless you're me.

Unless you're me and you get pukey/nauseously sick if you even attempt to read a map, let alone a book, in the car. All those wasted hours! The torture! It's actually painful, irritating, upsetting. There's my book (one of 3 with me, actually), sitting in my lap, waiting, waiting for us to stop and fuel up so I can read one page before we drive off again.

That's my definition of an "awake" nightmare.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Birthday Jesus...and David!

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas.

Wishing my husband a Happy Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Digital Fortress

Digital Fortress Pictures, Images and Photos

Dan Brown's "Digital Fortress" was....a Dan Brown special. If you haven't read any Dan Brown, then you may not know what I mean. If you have ("Angels and Demons", "The DaVinci Code"), then you know that his books deal with intrigue and suspense. There are more twists and turns than the Tail of the Dragon highway. You know the bad guy's going to be someone you least (or if you're used to Mr. Brown, the most) suspect.

Detractors of this book cite all the math inconsistencies they find. This doesn't make sense, that doesn't make sense. I, not being a math person, do not care. There were several paragraphs describing scientific theorems, data, etc. I have no clue if they were right or wrong. They were informative, not boring at all, and I enjoyed them.

The U.S.'s top secret code-cracking division is being "held hostage" by an unbreakable code and have to find a way out of the mess before it puts US Intelligence, and the world's security, in crisis. Head code-breaker Susan is called in to help and has to figure out who is the good guy, who is the bad guy and how to stop the mess.

The book was fast-paced, a little "Dan Brown" formulaic, but I enjoy his work.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Our Prince is 15!

Someone give me some smelling salts already. Our beautiful boy is 15. *thunk*

We decided to psyche him out and take him to dinner last night instead. We went to Bahama Breeze, Chrissy!

Kelli Kelli got him a necklace from Death Note (anime tv show) which he loves.

We got him a State of Florida Learner's Permit Rules Book (Oh Em Gee), a drum kit t-shirt from ThinkGeek.com (awesome place for the geeks in your family) and Little Big Planet for PS3.

Isabel was all "Whatever, I'm eating pizza."

We headed for the mall in the same parking lot as Bahama Breeze, to walk off all the food, and then came home so they could test out the T-Shirt and play Little Big Planet.

So once again, Happy 15th Jake!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Dinner Party

Just wanted to post some pictures from dinner last night.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Fridge Drawing

Isabel loves to draw. Loves, loves loves. Recently, it's Mario characters, but before that, it was Disney characters.

So...name that 'toon.
(click it to make it bigger)

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Whole Famn Damily!

We were invited to Jacob's dad's side of the family's Christmas party, even David (he didn't go). Jake's paternal family is a flippin' riot. The Cleaver's they are not, which is probably why I love them so.

Take for instance his Grandpa, my ex-father-in-law. Ex Marine, take no bull Man. Hysterical, Loyal, 100% Republican, 0% P.C. We're at the formal dining table (the plethora of teens are outside on the pool deck eating and playing on the X-Box). Not sure what the conversation was about, but ex father-in-law ends a sentence with a remark about Hispanics. My eyes lock with his oldest son, my ex's big brother, (my ex was not there) and he drops his head, exclaiming "Dad!!" . Meanwhile, I'm trying not to spit out my wine laughing. Ex Father-in-law says something like "Ahhhh, she knows me" and I do.

Isabel playing in the back yard with 2 other kids (out of picture range)

My ex-sister-in-law even got Isabel a gift. A Play-Doh Craft Caddy. Denise, Play-Doh? Have I hurt your feelings in some way? You give the daughter of a neat freak Play-Doh? :)
Isabel loves it, by the way. Thank you do much for thinking of her. She's not even a blood relative of theirs and they get her gifts.

The night with Jake's family was a great time full of too much food, sweets, fun and gifts. Thanks all!

And so we come full circle to gifts and my not wanting to spend $$ on gifts this year. I told David I was not doing it. He could shop if he wanted to, but I was too stressed in my daily "wake up, commute, work 8 hours, commute home, cook dinner, bathe Isabel, clean dishes, work-out, take a shower, surf the web, go to bed at midnight" routine. I'm pretty sure my agenda is full. He tried. He hated it. I laughed. It's not easy and it is not fun.

I'm pretty sure the three wise men did not mean for us to be spending our hard earned money on useless gifts to "honor" Jesus.

I'm also pretty sure the Magi did not intend to have people say things...oh...like we should have planned better for Christmas (Um, we DID. It's called NOT buying anything.)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas Pageant and Lights at Disney

Saturday afternoon, Isabel took part in her school's Christmas Pageant. Going to a Christian school makes it so much easier to deal with Christmas. They don't have to be politically correct; it's a church. There were songs about Jesus and angels and wise men.

Unfortunately, the church does not have an elevated area at the front, and the kids....are midgets. So we could not see Isabel unless we popped up and down in our seats to catch a glimpse of her....along with every other parent popping up and down. Luckily, the school will be selling DVDs of the performance.

Saturday evening, we decided to jump in the car at the last minute and head down to Disney's Hollywood Studios to catch the Osborne Family Light display they have there.

I-4....was a nightmare. UGH. Good thing we weren't paying to get in! We walked through the gates at 7:30 p.m. and they closed at 8:00 p.m. Plenty of time to see the lights.

And man, were there lights!

Here's a video I took, too.

Since they were closing at 8, we left and headed towards Downtown Disney. We ate dinner at the Mickey D's there and walked around, looking in the shops, listening to the music and enjoying our visit there.

Little Miss was pooped and we came home to our own light show.

The Last of the High Kings

Last of the High Kings Book

I finished book # 2 of Kate Thompson's series. I'm not really sure what the series is called.

"The Last of the High King" takes place 20-some years after "The New Policeman." We see J.J. as an adult with 4 children and a wife. He's a famous musician still living in the old Liddy homestead. His wife is exassperated at having a wreckingball of a two year old and an 11 year old daughter, Jenny, who is too much to handle. The other two kids (a teen girl and 9 year old son) are pretty well-behaved.

Jenny could care less about anything. No responsibility, no thought for consequences, no thought for anyone's feelings at all. Her character really irritated me. I knew who/what she was before she did, but she still annoyed me. I could not be her mother and deal with her careless behavior.

Jenny meets J.J.'s puka from the first book and delves into the meaning or reason for ghost of the beacon. We find out more about Jenny, we find out that J.J. can actually be selfish (the wood for the violins and not thinking through the baby/time thing) and we understand what a High King is. I really can't give more away, especially for those reading the book in the bookclub. I teared up when Mickey finally made it up the mountain, and what he did there. His actions had me teary-eyed, but was also the "A-Ha!" moment of the book where it all finally made sense.

I was happy J.J. and his wife finally got what they were looking for, that Jenny figured out who she was and where she wanted to stay and that Mickey lived his happily ever after protecting all of us.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The New Policeman


This book is considered young adult fiction. I am in an on-line book club, and the book chosen for January was "The Last of the High Kings" by Kate Thompson. Upon researching, I found that "The Last of the High Kings" was book two in a series. Well, shoot, I want to read book one first!

"The New Policeman" is set in current time (Contemporary Fiction) Ireland and follows the Liddy family, who felt very extravagant to me; their family has a dark stain on their past that has never been solved. They are a music loving family. It's in their souls. They hold ceili's (dances) in their barn on Saturdays, where members of the Liddy family, along with others musicians play and people dance the night away.

The book deals a lot with lack of time. There's not enough time to get anything done. Everyone is rushed, everyone is exasperated, kids don't play because they have so many things to do. Everyone is exhausted trying to keep up. I very-much related to everyone feeling this way. Our protagonist is a young teen, J.J. Liddy, who is 14-15. When J.J. asks his mom what she wants for her birthday, she says "time."

Thus we enter a supernatural world with Irish Folklore, Gods, Talking Goats, Time Leaks and the explanation of the Liddy's past blemish to their name.

I enjoyed the Irish tale and am glad I read it before moving on to "The Last of High Kings."

Flex Spending - Just Do It!

It's amazing that it took me this long to get on the Flex Spending bandwagon. 2008 was the first year I actually signed up.

For those of you not in the know; You get money taken out of your paycheck, before taxes, that gets deposited into an account (in my case, a Master Card they mailed me). That $$ is only for medical expenses (they also do child care and transportation, but that's different. I am specifically just talking medical here). Those funds are then to be used to pay for your medical expenses during the year, basically tax free.

Here's how I explained it to a co-worker.

In 2008, We had 10 months left of braces payments; $203.00 a month. So, I had them take out $102 every paycheck before taxes. We get paid every two weeks. 26 paydays times $102 = $2652.00 that I will have had taken out in 2008, before taxes, to pay for braces.

Had I not done the flex spending thing, that $$ would have been taxed along with the rest of my pay. Let's say I get taxed 24% (I have absolutely no clue what I get taxed. I'm picking an average my boss told me.) I would have been taxed $636.48. That's what I saved in 2008!

Now of course there are drawbacks. If you don't use it, you lose it. I had that much taken out because I knew I had to make the payments anyway to the orthodontist. In 2009 I brought it down to something like $25 a paycheck.

This will pay for my $25 co-payments for doctor's visits, it will pay for contacts, it will pay my prescription deductible, dental deductibles, AND anything medical including buying Advil, Pepto, Bandaids (even $200 worth, huh Niki?), whatever medical I need, at Target and Wal-mart.

I sound like an ad for Flex Spending, but it really was a great benefit this year for me.

Monday, December 8, 2008

No One Here Gets Out Alive

no one here gets out alive ya'll Pictures, Images and Photos

This book is part of an on-line Postal Letterboxing Book Club I am in. It's the biography of Jim Morrison of The Doors.

Man. Had. Issues. Issues, ghosts, demons, something. I'm trying to wrap my head around him and can't. I wasn't part of that generation. I don't understand the sex, drugs and rock & roll mentality.

Maybe by today's standards we'd call him bi-polar? Did we have such a word back in the 60's? He was up, he was down, he was sideways. He treated everyone so poorly so many times, especially the women in his life. Again, not understanding the times, I don't get how the women in his life put up with it. He was an alcoholic. He was a drug addict. Mostly, an alcoholic though.

He was gifted with his music, lyrics and poetry, but he battled demons that no one will ever understand.

Friday, December 5, 2008

And the Winner is.....

Troy and his wife Jeannie!!

Oh, what did they win? Nothing. They were just the first people to send me a Christmas card. Tee hee. I received it Tuesday.

Second Place went to my sister Vicky, received Wednesday.

Third Place goes to my sister Brenda, received Thursday.

You WIN (nothing except my thanks. Heee Hee )

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister

confessions of an ugly stepsister Pictures, Images and Photos

Apparently, according to many reviews I have read for several of his books, you either like Gregory Maguire, or you don't. I'm in the "like" column. Having read and really liked "Wicked", and then having read "Son of a Witch," I did not hesitate to put this book on my Paperback Swap wish list. Wish granted and I received it.

I love how he takes a fairytale and turns it on its ear. There are no fairy god mothers, no talking mice, no evil step-sisters. There's the story of a girl and her slightly retarded big sister in Holland "back in the day," whose mom manipulates the man she's housekeeping for into marrying her. The man with a beautiful daughter who doesn't want to go out. Doesn't want to leave the house. The story is told through the eyes of the step-sister Iris, who is not wicked, who gets along with her new beautiful step-sister Clara and tends to her older, slower yet sweet sister. You see their lives, their daily struggles when finances turn sour, Iris' mom's conniving and planning to get her plain but witty daughter Iris hitched to the rich Prince who happens to be in town and having a ball planned in his honor.

It's a good story about 3 sisters, their lives, the mother who slowly goes mad, and all the people that surround them. I enjoyed it.