Monday, November 30, 2009

A Thankful Recap, The Tea Party

Saturday morning, my mother-in-law had planned a girls day out. We were to meet at a Tea House in Chattanooga for tea. We headed over to the English Rose Tea Room, run by several English people.

(click on the pictures to see them in more detail)

The table was set for our party of 9 ladies.

Tea pots covered in tea cozies, to keep them warm. CUTE!

The Royal Doulton Old Country Roses china was terrific.

The tea was poured, even for the little ones who really enjoyed their demitasse cups, brought out especially for them.

We enjoyed an assortment of finger sandwiches as well as scones, cookies, cheese and crackers.

Beautiful ladies at tea.

We also had a last-minute baby shower for one of my sister-in-laws, expecting her first baby next Spring. :) Yay. The staff hid the presents in the back until we were done eating.

It was SUCH A FUN THING TO DO!!! Thanks to my Mother-in-Law for the treat!!

P.S. She's going to kill me.

She leans over to me and shows me the receipt. She whispers quietly "Who ordered the ass? I'm not paying for that." and I BURST OUT LAUGHING!!! cause this is my MIL! I had to take a picture.

Click to make bigger.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Thankful Recap, part 1

We are back from a long weekend with the family near Chattanooga. The drive took longer than normal (holiday traffic) and we arrived Wednesday evening, ready for a later supper and bed.

Thursday morning was spent helping a little bit around the house, prepping for the dinner that evening, and waiting for my nieces and nephew to arrive, to help decorate a cake, and eat our Thanksgiving dinner.

(click on the pictures to make them bigger.)

Lunch on Thanksgiving day. We had Thanksgiving dinner at around 6 p.m., which I like. I don't get eating the Thanksgiving meal at lunch. Wouldn't you just call that "Thanksgiving lunch?"

Isabel and her grandpa dance some calories away.

My brother-in-law holding his puppy Ripley as if she were a baby. It's so funny - she doesn't complain. He's been doing it since she was a weeee pup and now she just sits there patiently.

The cousins arrive. Isabel looks like a hobo because I dressed her in clothes she could ruin, in case they got themselves dirty with the food coloring.

The girls first made tiaras. Then they helped decorate the cake with me, at which time I took zero pictures. These next two were taken by my sister-in-law Jennifer.

The girls and their matching aprons, made by great-grandma Arlene over a year ago.

Work it! I thought for a moment that the fondant was not going to work. It was so HOT in the kitchen from all the people, the oven, the stove, etc. that it was sticking. But we prevailed. The girls helped color the fondant and gumpaste, and they shaped peas, cherries, plates, silverware, pie pieces and...voila!

Our Thanksgiving Dinner cake! (which was dry cause it was 2 days old and I overbaked. LOL)

I have no pictures of the meal itself. Bad me. Isabel went to her first sleep-over ever at her cousins' house and had a great time.

Friday morning, my mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandmother-in-law and I went out to do some minor shopping. We did not leave at 4 a.m. like you crazy black Friday shopping people. We were out for maybe two hours and then went to get Isabel at her aunt's house.

That evening, after dinner with my brother-in-law at a Mexican joint, we headed to the water at downtown Chattanooga, where two of Isabel's cousins would be performing a dance at a holiday event being held by the city.

It was COLD and I did not pack us anything remotely warm enough! Isabel complained the entire time we were there that she was freezing and we ended up carrying her most of the time.

They had boats going up and down the river.

They had a Nativity scene.

We watched the girls do one number and then, not knowing how many more there would be, we skedaddled because we were freezing.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Buffy the Vampire Slaying Penguin

Don't mess with a vampire-slaying penguin. Edward, you've been warned.

Ornament # 2 from the Buffyfest ornament exchange was received from a crafty gal from PA late yesterday afternoon. Thanks!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My First Buffyfest Ornament!

Wh00t! Last night I received my first ornament from the Buffyfest Ornament Swap 2009.

It's a miniature of one of the Buffy Season 8 comics, by Michelle, one of the Buffyfest contributors. I should have taken a picture of the back cover. Drat, I'll need to remember. It has a few blank pages in it and I am almost tempted to stamp in it. LOL!


Monday, November 23, 2009

'Ormaments,' Whedon-Style

Yes, I know it's misspelled. It's how my kids both said the word ornaments as kids.

I joined an ornament exchange over at Buffyfest. You get put into a group of 6-7 people and make Whedon-related ornaments.

I decided to merge my stamp-carving skills from Letterboxing with my slight *cough* Whedon obsession and made stamp ornaments.

Here they are. The Grrr Arrgh Mutant Enemy Logo, the Angel Investigations logo, the Buffy logo, Captain Hammer's logo, a carve of Echo from 'Dollhouse' and the Blue Sun logo from Firefly. What you are seeing is one side of the ornaments, with the actual images that the recipients will get when they use the stamps on the back.

Here are the back of the ornaments with the actual stamps. Captain Hammer and Echo.

The Blue Sun logo.

The Mutant Enemy, Angel and Buffy carves.

I wrote a little letter to the recipients and then on the backs of each one, stamped all 6 images, so everyone can see what they all were.

I hope everyone enjoys them. I cannot WAIT to see what I get!!

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Our little girl was sick all day yesterday. It started after a breakfast of french toast. She complained about her stomach aching and 10 minutes after giving her a small dose of Pepto, she ran to the garbage can in the kitchen to throw up. I went to her and held her hair back, while she looked up at me with her beautiful, beautiful blue eyes, teary and large. It broke my heart.

She got sick two more time, once not making it wholly into the small garbage can I set next to the couch for her. She took a 2 hour nap and woke up hungry, so we fed her. A few hours later, in her pj's watching a movie in one of the guest rooms, she started throwing up, again looking at me with those imploring eyes, wanting her momma to make it better.

I slept with her in the guest room that night. Both her and my bed are way tall and to get to a garbage can from their heights is quite impossible for her. The bed in guest room # 2 is actually just the top mattress on the floor; easy reach to the can.

I lay with her and tried to sleep. I kept seeing those big eyes. Then, another image flashed in my mind. The same big, teary eyes, black this time, looking up at me.

Twelve years ago, my ex and I were having a fight in the kitchen of our rental duplex. My then 3-year-old son walks into the kitchen to ask something. His father SCREAMS at the top of his lungs for my son to GET OUT, and he opens the front door, shoves him out and slams it. I am in shock. I run to the door as I scream "What is WRONG with you?!?! He's THREE!"

I open the front door to find my baby boy trying to breathe, staring at the closed door. He's hiccuping and unable to cry from the shock. His big black eyes look up at me and his body shakes. I scoop him up and hug him so tight. I soothe his back and say "It's OK, mommy's here, mommy's here," and he starts to sob.

(Wow, I'm crying as I type.)

I left that place with my son a few months later.

They are so innocent, children. They look to us, with those big (black, blue) eyes, to be their guardian angels. Nothing can go wrong when mom and dad are around.

Her big blue imploring eyes reminded me of his big black imploring eyes, and I silently cried as I rubbed her back, praying for healing in her body and in my memory.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Shadow of the Wind / La Sombra del Viento


Get ready for a long post.

A friend read this book in English and thought it was really good. She wondered aloud (a-text? On her blog) if the translation was a good one. The original was written in Spanish by Spaniard Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I thought to myself "Self, I can read that in Spanish and let her know," so I ordered the Spanish version from Amazon and began to read it. Into the book by about 4 chapters, I realized something. How exactly would I know if the translation was good if I was only reading it in Spanish? DOH!

I put myself on the library's waiting list and set the Spanish copy aside until the English one was available. Upon receiving it, I caught up to chapter 4 and the read each chapter side by side. One chapter in English, the same chapter in Spanish.

I'm going to tell you something. This dual reading dragged me down. I was reading the same book twice. Chapter by chapter. Sometimes I would not pick it up for days because it was a literal redundancy.

I make it sound like it's a bad book. On the contrary. This book was a fantastic mystery novel full of colorful characters, suspense, twisting plots and beautiful prose. Mr. Zafon is a gifted author. His writing was descriptive, hysterical, creepy, mournful, exciting.

The book deals with a 10-year old boy named Daniel living in 1945 Barcelona, whose gentle father takes him to the Cemetery of Forgotten books, a library jealously and secretly guarded by a group of people who love books, who keep books from around the world guarded in the library's labyrinthine depths. Daniel gets to choose one, one that would be his to guard jealously. His choice was "The Shadow of the Wind," by a little-known author, Julian Carax. Daniel so loves this book that he begins to search for more books, more information, on Julian Carax, only to find road blocks. Someone has been scouring Europe and burning all of Carax's books.

The book takes us through the story of Daniel from age 10 through 19, his daily life as well as his on and off search for Carax. There are friends (Tomas), crushes (Clara), loves (Bea), nefarious murdering policemen (Fumero) and the nefarious man burning the books. Best of all, there is Fermin Romero de Torres.

Big-nosed, big-eared, skinny, hairy Fermin. He of the voracious appetite and silver tongue. Of all the characters in the book, Fermin was my favorite. We first meet him a a vagabond on the street who Daniel and his father decide to take in and help out. He is eccentric, extremely intelligent, and not just book smart but street smart. He knows people and how they tick. You want something done, Fermin can do it. A deposed spy of the fallen government, Fermin, if that's his real name, was living on the streets when the new government hunted down all the old regime. He has his ghosts and demons and yet he's a great man. I have not enjoyed such a character in a while. I laughed aloud and cried with and for Fermin. Zafon wrote him wonderfully.

Now, for the meat of the translating. This was an odd experiment, I tell you. Spanish was my first language, but after years of talking mostly English, Spanish is not my best language anymore. This book for me was an exercise in comprehension. I started hesitantly, hoping I was getting it, but hit my stride 1/3 of the way in. (I'm thinking about doing the Harry Potter series in Spanish now, to see if the translating to Spanish was good).

There were some differences that I could understand. Slang does not translate. Sayings and euphemisms don't translate well. Neither do the names of regional famous people.


1) In the original Spanish book, two characters are at the movies discussing Cary Grant and how handsome he is. The woman describes Cary Grant as her favorite, second only to Jose Antonio. Who? In the English version, the Jose Antonio comment is deleted. We wouldn't know who he was unless we were Spaniards.

2) In the Spanish book, someone mentions that book reading is an affliction, like Don Quixote had. In the English version, Don Q is replaced with Sancho Panza. This makes no sense. Don Quixote was the one with the brain muddled by his reading, not Sancho Panza. I don't understand why the English version would choose to change the name to Sancho.

3) In the Spanish version, a conversation is going on describing a person that looked like Carlos Gardel. We have no idea who that is, so in the English book the name is removed, replaced by
"a tango singer slick with brilliantine."

4) In English, protests fall on deaf ears. In Spanish, they fall through broken sacks.

5) In Spanish, a man looks at Daniel "as if I'd asked him about the quadrature of a circle." (the guy was dumbfounded.) In English, the man looked at Daniel "as if I had inquired about the sex of angels." What? Why the change? Are we too stupid to get the math reference?

Sometimes sentences are changed, for better or worse.

When asked why the music teacher was dismissed, Barcelo, who fired the teacher for having an affair with Barcelo's niece, replies in Spanish "I fired him. Abuse of his profession." In English he answers, "He got fired. Seems like there were not enough keys on the piano to keep him busy." I don't understand the change from Spanish to English, although the English one is wittier this time.

When Cemetery of Forgotten Books keeper Isaac discusses his broken heart, in Spanish saying his heart was "rotted by miseries." In English, it's translated as "broken by misfortune." Rotted by miseries seems a more compelling description to me.

Then there are the omissions that just don't make sense to me. Was the English publisher saving paper? I don't get the omissions.

1) Isaac's light, as he walks through the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, in Spanish is described as a flickering bubble of evanescent red light. Evanescent is removed from the English. I actually caught things like this, because in Spanish, it flowed and its absence, that one word, was felt when reading the English.

2) Fermin is describing his sister. He tells Daniel that her nickname was "Chicken Livers" because she had halitosis. The entire sentence is deleted in the English.

3) Chapter 34 has a complete paragraph missing! In the English version, Fermin is teasing Daniel while they were at work. Daniel tells him to piss off and thinks to himself that it was going to be a long day; end chapter. Not so in the Spanish. The chapter goes on to describe how the afternoon was slow and miserable. They had one customer, dressed all in gray who asked for a certain book, convinced that the book dealt with the life and times of a prostitute in Madrid. Daniel's father, a kind bookseller who does not deal in trash, does not know what to do, but Fermin steps in and says to the customer that he is confused about the book, but may he recommend "Don Juan" which deals with lots of skirts and the protagonist hooks up with a nun. The customer bought it. Now, I know that doesn't really move the story along at all, but it's funny. It shows how quick on his feet Fermin is and I got a chuckle out of it. Imagine my surprise reading the English and going"HUH? Where did the customer go?" Again, saving paper, oh American publisher??

4) Daniel is hoping to catch a glimpse of his best friend Tomas at Tomas' window. They've had a row and Daniel wants to wave at him. Tomas never shows up. "I waited almost five minutes hoping he would reappear, but he didn't." End Chapter. In Spanish, another sentence follows: "The rain ripped my tears, and I left in its company." Why delete that sentence? Can men not cry over lost friendship?

5) Daniel sees an "old man with long white hair, clad in a wonderful gray overcoat." In Spanish he sees "an old man, or possibly a deserting angel, clad in a wonderful grey overcoat." The reference to his being an angel is gone in the translation. In the same paragraph, the man looks at Daniel and "smiled gravely." In Spanish, he "smiled gravely, as if he could read my soul in one glance." I like the extra, and wonder why again the omission.

There are several others but this post has gone on long enough.

My final verdict: I enjoyed the Spanish more. It might sound hokey, but to me, Spanish reads more formal, more lyrical, more beautiful. In my head, I read the Spanish and feel it's like a song. I told you I was hokey.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

This Means YOU!

I have NO idea where she got this notion. Apparently she saw it in a book or tv show.

"NO! This Mids (Means) You"

That's me, David and Jacob. She means us.

We can't go in her room. Unless I'm tucking her in, she said. Or helping her dress. Or playing dolls. Or helping put laundry away, she explained. Other than that, NO!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Your Favorite Harry Potter Book

Here you go, folks. With 33 people voting, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" was the winner in this small poll. This is my favorite as well.

I do need to revisit HP & The Deathly Hallows. It's the only one I have only read twice. *snort* Only. I know. All the others I have read at least 3 times each and am currently on the audio book for the "Half-Blood Prince." I will soon "hear" "Deathly Hallows" read to me by Jim Dale.

I cannot wait for those two final movies of the one final book!

Thanks for Voting!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Being a Stronger Parent

Or better titled "I don't want to be a lazy parent anymore."

My daughter does not eat many things.

Oh, if I list them, they seem like a lot, but when you realize that there are three meals a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, the choices are minimal.

Up until 18 months of age, this little girl ate everything. Rice, chicken, chops, hamburger meat, peas, carrots, you name it.

Then at 24 months, she started saying no to things, and we would let her slide. "It's just this time," we would say. Things she loved, she refused to eat. Then her likes went in cycles. Currently, she won't eat yogurt, even though if we let her, she would eat a container for every snack about 6 months ago.

We let her slide. And slide. I'd prepare a separate meal for her, usually something not very healthy or good for her. "She'll grow out of it," we said to each other. Honestly, we're lazy. We don't want an argument or to "let her go hungry" so we'd fix her her own meal.

We would try to force her to eat things once in a while, and she would cry. Being invited to people's homes for meals caused me stress. What would we do when they served something Isabel would not eat? Like the party where all she ate was chips? *sigh*

She's 5 now. I stress about her eating habits. I give her vitamins, milk, juices with hidden veggies in it. I feel like I am the only one who stresses. She was 2 and now she is 5 and she still has not grown out of it.

This Tuesday night, I took a stand. I was not making her a separate meal.

We had carrots, chicken and rolls. I sat her down and explained to her that she was a big girl and like all the other big kids in her class, she had to eat what everyone else eats. She started to whine and cover her face with her hands. I told her that was not allowed. Before my son or I ate, I cut her some very small pieces of everything and fed her myself. A few whines for drink later, and she was done with her meal. The same meal we all ate.

I cook every other day, to give us time to eat the leftovers. The next meal was Thursday. Peppercorn-rubbed steak in marinade, cooked with carrots (I overbought, ok? lol), red potatoes, and crescent rolls. Again, I sat her down with the plate in front of her. Again she whined. Again I told her no, I would not have whining at the table. I fed her the first few bites. This time she asked if she could eat all the carrots first herself. I said yes and handed her the fork. She likes them. Then she ate the meat, coughing a couple of times as if she were gagging, but she ate all she was served. The potatoes were last (and I can't blame her; they were undercooked.)

I want my kids eating healthier. She loves fruits; apples, bananas, strawberries and grapes are always in the house. It's the veggies she would not do. So far, carrots are a hit. We're going to keep trying. Every time she's said she does not like anything this week, I tell her that's impossible, because she's never tried it. I've said that in the past, but I don't think she understood what I was saying. She's older and understands me more.

I don't want to be a lazy parent. I am feeling better and better every day about this.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Life is Too Short... deal with toxic people. It really is.

Nowhere does it say that just because a person requests you as a friend on Facebook or Myspace, you have to accept it. Nowhere. Afraid to hurt their feeling? Don't be. I have had random people who are distant relatives of my husband ask me. I am sorry. My husband does not know you and you're related. Why would I accept the request?

My friend's ex-husband?? Uh, no. NOT helping you spy on my friend. Declined.

Want to know the worst case? When you accept the request out of some familial responsibility or what-not, and they turn out to be toxic. Really, WHY ON THIS GREEN EARTH do I want to be a friend with someone who always has a snide comment about the things I post of importance to me? I don't find it funny. I'd poke fun, but really I find it all rather sad and pathetic of someone that age.

Or why do you believe anyone wants to see the chauvinistic pictures of women taken and posted?

Is it all because we're distantly related? I don't know you from Adam. (except Adam T. I know Adam T. *Waves at Adam T*)



Whether it's "Remove Connection," "Delete" or "Ignore Member," life is way too short to deal with toxic people.

Maybe it's time for a detox session of your own?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Harry Potter Audio Collection

I've been listening to the Harry Potter series on cd in my car for a few months. To & from work, I've been enjoying the heck out of Jim Dale's great voices.

I am currently on book 5; Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.


I'm not talking about a book being weakly written (*cough*HP & the Chamber of Secrets*cough*,) or small in length. I'm talking about disliking the book because of some of the threads/plots in it.

I really really really did not like this book in this series. The whole "Umbridge taking over the school thing," the whole "Harry lets her get away with the carving of the hand punishment?" thing, the whole "Harry's being a whiny git thing?" UGH. I was not a fan of this book.

This led me to think about which one is my HANDS-DOWN favorite. For me, it's book 4:

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

This book was fantastic fun. The Quidditch World Cup, the Tri-Wizard Tournament, Beauxbaton, Durmstrang, Mad Eye, Karkarov, Nagini, Lord Voldemort's return, Cedric Diggory (*sniff!!!*) This book made me laugh, squeal and cry.

Which one is your favorite?

Take the poll above and comment here as to why it's your favorite.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Squishy Squish! Get Checked!

My first mammogram...yay...all clear! Pictures, Images and Photos

A couple of months back, I had my first mammogram! I know, right? EEEEEEEEEEKKK!

It actually was not bad.

No, I'm not kidding, but let me say that I have a high pain threshold. (Two C-sections with two epidurals done wrong and having to be re-done on both pregnancies and I had better have a high threshold!)

I went to a really terrific place with a beautiful facility. Everything was completely clean, neat, and orderly. I was in and out in less than 45 minutes.

They take...let me remember.... was it 2 or 3 shots per breast? Dang, I cannot remember. I remember the up & down pancake squish (see above picture). That one was not bad at all on either side. I am pretty sure they took a vertical squish as well; those were fine too. The only one that gave me discomfort was an angular one. They kind-of come at you with the machine at an angle. The left shot was fine, the right? Hurt like a %$%$*% but it was only 5 seconds at most. If you can breathe deeply and tolerate discomfort for 5 seconds at a pop, you will do just fine.

I got the all-clear a few weeks ago!

Ladies, check the tatas! Save the tatas!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

In Concert

Thursday night was Jacob's first Choral concert. It was actually a concert showcasing all the arts at his school. There was the female choir, the male choir, the mixed choir, their version of the Glee club, dancers, singers, Jazz band, drum corps, the marching band, several dancing groups (ballet style, interpretive dancers, hip-hop dancers, Yoga dancers) and several soloists (flautists, guitar solos, tuba solos, etc.)

The audience stunk. There is no couth and manners anymore. The choir director specifically stated rules for the performance. 1) Turn your phones to mute. 2) Don't be messing with your phones (texting, updating Facebook etc.) during the performance. The light annoys your neighbors and the performers. 3) Do not leave the auditorium or come back in to the auditorium while a performance is going on. it distracts the performers. 4) Please be quiet during the performances.

Uh. Yea.

I understand this is a high school performance and a lot of the rabble-rousers were high school students, but not all of the noise was their doing. Along with the students in the crowd, several parents would yell out "LISAAAAA!! JOHNNYYYYYY!! WOOOOOOOO" when people would be on stage. People were constantly talking and moving. Young kids yelling and crying. Thank goodness Isabel was fantastic. I did have to shush her a few times when she tried talking to me during the performace, but she didn't want to run up and down the aisles or yell and scream

I felt so bad for the director. He's trying so hard to make this about the kids, their performance and professionalism. Too bad we are all a bunch of hillbillies and hoodlums to care, huh?

Below are 2 videos of the two performances Jacob took part in. His choir/piano teacher reminds me of the lead teacher on Fox's "Glee." Look at him, he's like 12. OK, not really. Jacob has him in 2 classes and he's one of his favorite teachers. He's in his mid 20's and Jake says he's super serious about music. You'll notice that not one boy is moving their hands or anything (well, I just noticed one did in the first video. Oooooh!) They are strictly told that if they move to scratch or touch their hair, etc., they're out.

There really were some great performances. Good job, students and teachers!