Friday, February 20, 2009

Another Book Down, Another Knitting Project Complete.

I just finished another book for the book clubs. This one, called On The Divinity of Second Chances by Kaya McLaren, was practically written to be a Lifetime Movie for Women. Great if you like that sort of thing, not so much my cup of tea. It's a dysfunctional family comes back together with the help of wacky outsider help-type of story.

Granted, I am partial to space battles and zombies and not so much the women's books, so I'm not the audience it was written for, but sometimes it came off as a bit TOO much. The youngest daughter is an Earth Mother-type, complete with bare feet and spirit guide/imaginary friend. But we discover there's more to it - she’s a reincarnated African-American preacher who died in a KKK-fueled church fire and was reborn into the body of a white girl; her constant canine companion was a dog who died in the church fire, and her spirit guide was a parishoner. The eldest daughter is the overachieving, power exec who lives with a loser slacker, only to dump him, discover she’s pregnant, and head off to live in a mud house she creates on her grandmother’s property. The brother is hiding a horrible secret, so he took off at the age of 14 to go live in a tree. In the woods. And then we have the tap-dancing troupe of elderly women – it’s the Red Hat Society in tights and taps. It just feels like it was constructed to have all the major elements of a ‘women’s book’ – it’s a good story that just tries a bit too hard to appeal to its audience. But like I said, I'm not the audience for this book, so I'm pretty sure I'm reading too harshly.

I've also finally finished a knitting project, after endless starts and pauses. Pictures to come, but it's a blanket for one of Heartbreaker's former teachers, who I always thought highly of and whose baby is due in a few short weeks. It was a pretty garter stitch (easy to work on while watching TV!) pattern that I put some color work into, and I think the end result was nice. I even tested by crochet mettle by putting a little border onto it.

Still trying to get an answer on the issue I've come up against with the Baby Boyd birthday gift - I e-mailed Interweave about it, but have yet to hear. Normally, when I've contacted a magazine about a problem with a pattern, I've heard right away - anyone have any experiences with Interweave?

My Ravelry queue/projects/stash is just a mess. I need to do a lot of updating. I've been spending entirely too much time on Facebook; need to get a lot of stuff buttoned down when the boys go back to school on Monday. I haven't even been spending much time on Ravelry, so I totally feel out of the loop.

Being home for this long is starting to weigh on me. Thankfully the weather's starting to perk up, because I find myself settling into this daze that takes up most of the day. I need to start moving around more, because I'm beginning to notice that it's all too easy for me to spend an entire day just zoning out at the computer. I need to give myself things to do and not tell myself they'll take too long - where am I gong?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

And Now, For Something Completely Different.

I'm pretty lucky. I've got the best family and friends in the world, I'm grooming my children for world domination, I've always got a good book and fresh yarn ready, and I've even managed to carve out my own little space on the Web. I'm thankful every day for that, no matter how grudgingly it may sound at times.

Recently, my friend Jen mentioned that a woman I went to high school with had been diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer. There were no symptoms, no signs, no warning. She was tired - she's got a 3 year old daughter, of course she's tired! But that was the only sign. She's had several abdominal surgeries and bouts with chemotherapy, and she's looking at another big fight coming up. This is someone I went through high school and college with, and although we moved in separate social circles, I always thought well of. The fact that anyone's got to go through this is awful. That I know her just makes it worse.

I may not be able to do much, but I can use my little corner of the Web to let you know about this. Jen and another friend from high school are putting together a "Celebrate Life" benefit to raise awareness about colon cancer, and to raise money not only to provide support to Alanna and her family but to the Colon Cancer Alliance (CCA). The Celebrate Life benefit will be taking place on March 21. For details on attending or perhaps donating a raffle prize, shoot an e-mail on over to I'll be getting some raffle tickets from Jen shortly, so if you're interested, leave me a comment and I'll contact you. I don't know yet what all the prizes are, but I do know one is a huge hi-def television. I've offered my knitting services for one of the auction prizes; hopefully, my project will be done in time!

There is also a Facebook group for the benefit, which you can check out here and learn more. I'll also have the link posted on my Facebook page.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

More on ComicCon

The boys even got some role-playing in at ComicCon, with a Wizards of the Coast booth where they had gaming tables set up to teach the basic Dungeons & Dragons game and Magic the Gathering card games. They've been playing D&D with Mike for a while now, so they thoroughly enjoyed that, and I have to say that despite all of us being a bit confused with Magic, we dug it. We got sample decks and will be trying to play. The guy running the game was really thorough and nice in explaining the game. He also told me that Cutie Pie is actually at a great age to start learning the game, which really surprised me; I guess I never thought of a CCD as a kids' kind of thing. But it incorporates reasoning, planning and math skills; not bad, when you think of it.

Heartbreaker and I also found a great booth, Lerner Publishing, where they publish Choose Your Own Adventure-type graphic novels. Heartbreaker loved it, and as I checked out the books and information they had there, so did I. The rep at the booth was really personable, too, which always helps. We ended up completing a scavenger hunt that took us to a few more cool publishers' booths, and he got a free book out of the deal. And I bought him one of the graphic novels.

We've been fans of the Sci Fi Channel show, Who Wants to be a Superhero? for the two seasons it's run so far (I've heard that Sci Fi only contracted to do two seasons of the show - come ON, we need a third season!). The first season runner up, Fat Momma, was always Heartbreaker's fave to win. And she was at ComicCon! We saw her table as we were on the way out, so we made sure to stop over and say hello.

She is the nicest person! She signed her comics, gave Cutie Pie and Heartbreaker each an autographed postcard, and took a picture with them. The boys loved it and I thought she was really great.

One of the main reasons for going to ComicCon this year was so Heartbreaker could meet Jeff Kinney, author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books - I've blogged about them here (and I just finished the third book, The Last Straw) and about how Heartbreaker's such a huge fan. We got on a surprisingly quick line, and he got to meet Mr. Kinney. Not much time for chat or even pictures, which explains why the line moved so quickly, but Mr. Kinney did notice that Heartbreaker's name was the same as his own son's, so Heartbreaker got a kick out of that. And now he has an autographed first edition of his own!

Cutie Pie and I got to sit in on another main reason for attending the Con this year - we got to hear Mo Willems, who writes the Elephant and Piggy, Knuffle Bunny, and my particular favorites, the Pigeon books. Aside from the genius who tried to get him to sign autographs in the middle of his presentation, it was a great time. He read Elephant and Piggy's Are You Ready to Play Outside?, Leonardo the Terrible Monster, and, to my joy, Pigeon Wants a Puppy. I told Mike that I'll never be able to live up to that kind of storytime; the guy is great.

I told you there was a Sleestack. I spent the latter part of the evening trying to call up videos on YouTube and illustrate to the kids how cool the Sleestacks are. Kids today. Harumph.

All in all, it was a pretty good day. The kids got lots of swag and Mike and I got to enjoy being immersed in geek culture again. And ate a lot of carb-filled crap. Convention food at its finest.
ComicCon is Teh Awesome

Where to begin? ComicCon was simply awesome this year. It's the first year I've gone to a Comic Con at Javits since Reed Exhibitions, the company that organizes BookExpo, took it over, and man - they really tidied up the house.

I didn't go on Saturday, where a lot of events were happening, but I went on Sunday - Kids' Day - and the kids' admission was FREE! There were a lot of kids' events set up, so it was a great day for the kids.

Oddly enough, my pictures have posted in the reverse order I'd wanted. Let's review.

Cutie Pie takes lessons in bad-assery from the best. And will one day go on to say, "When I left you, I was but the learner, now I am the master."

The order of the day was dress-up, and it was quite awesome to see people walking around in various stages of Jedi and stormtrooper dress. We also saw a Cobra Commander from G.I. Joe, several adorable little Boba Fetts, and a Mayor from The Nightmare Before Christmas. Cutie Pie pretty much took his picture with every stormtrooper he could get near; Heartbreaker, who's a 'tween now and eschews such childish foolishness, politely declined. Even when I embraced a Sleestack (more on that later).

Neither of the boys were too cool, however, for lightsaber lessons. It was a moment that would make any mother worth her geek label proud. The New York Jedi were kind enough to conduct lessons for the kids all day long, and were really wonderful in working with them.

No matter what new 'thing' Cutie Pie finds interest in, he always comes back to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He loves these guys. So when we saw all four of them walking around the convention floor, we made sure to get Cutie Pie in there. Look at that face. That's just sheer joy.

Jesus Christ, that's a lot of people.
More in the next post.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Still Reading, Still Knitting...

So the first semester's pretty much in the can for me, and I have to say, school is every bit as great as I hoped it would be. I know things will ratchet up a notch next semester once the papers and research kick in, but for now, it was a wonderful re-entry into the world of college. I've been checking out various webcasts the school has, learning about different areas of study, and have been interested and thrilled to find that library studies has so many great places for me to go. I've said all along that I'd likely go into public librarianship, specializing in children's library studies, and I'm still pretty married to that, but archival studies with an eye toward working in museums is also right up my alley. So for now, who knows? I may specialize in one field but skew my electives toward the backup field. I feel hopeful and excited, which is nice these days.

I'm still reading the Mary Todd Lincoln fictional autobio, which is very good; I do have to wonder how fictional this is - I can't imagine this is very close to the bone, but it's good reading and good fun. The author seems to have Lincoln's bouts of depression down pretty well (from what I've read about Lincoln in the past), and I may be tempted to read an actual biography of Mary Todd Lincoln down the line to see how well the author 'got her'.

I also finished a book for review a couple of weeks ago called The Wisdom Trail, which features profiles of women now ages 73-90. They've been there, done that, and blazed the trail while doing it – women who came of age during the ‘40s and ‘50s, when women’s roles were in transition from Rosie the Riveter back to Donna Reed, and they bucked the trend by getting a college education and using it. Most of them married and became the women who ‘had it all’ – eventually, the model we as women have today. Not a ‘how to’ book, but an important look at where we were and how we got here. The main age range of the women profiled in this book is 73-90, most college educated, all wanted to make a difference.

It's an inspiring book, and an interesting read but I had two glaring issues arise while reading it - first, where were the single women? Most of the women profiled were married, had children, and figured out how to work a career by working around their husbands or by waiting until their children started school. And second, most of the women profiled are Caucasian – where are the African-American voices? Where are the Asian-American women? There is a small handful in here, but I would have liked to see a little more diversity. Other than that, it's an interesting book that I think should open up a dialogue between generations of women.

Okay, I see a cool meme I'm going to pick up, so I'll pause this post for now.