Sunday, July 17, 2011

Birthday Celebrating!

Having just celebrated a birthday I’m feeling contemplative on the whole birthday thing….Especially the summer birthday thing.  Since my birthday falls in what I have always deemed “the exact middle of summer” it is both wonderful and crummy all at once. It is wonderful because it is summer –I’ve hardly ever worked on my birthday being that I chose education as a profession (maybe I did in college when I worked at the canning factory? I don’t recall.).   So there’s that and well, heck, it’s my birthday.  There’s usually some kind of cake or dessert and presents with ribbons.  That’s pretty good. 
While, yes, it’s true I hardly ever got the paper birthday crown in elementary school. ---Well, maybe once for a half birthday in January and I never got to bring treats in to celebrate--except for that one time when I had a crown?—Really, this lack of inclusion stopped bothering me at some point.  Let’s be realistic here, I looked on with bits of jealousy, but for the most part this lack of recognition fits my personality—the introvert in me finds no need to draw extra attention to myself.
Back to reality.  Being that my day is the 15th of July that means it’s the middle of summer.   The summer countdown begins and it’s over, this summer business, I mean and that means back to school or work or whatever it is. (Target and Staples had back to school supplies advertised last week!) Le sigh…
Usually, a nice quiet dinner and dessert with family has sufficed and I’ve been quite content.  But as I work my way through the decade of my, gulp, thirties, I think I’ve finally hit on something.   Here it is:  Let’s just make this virtually a whole week of celebrating and craziness and exhaustion!  What’s more, this year I documented the celebration with a photo blog story.   
Here goes:
Wednesday AM: Run around in the morning trying to get toddler to cooperate after she declares she doesn’t not want to go to storytime (one of her favorite activities).  Mom bribes child with cheerios to get her in the car and at least return books/movies to the bookdrop that cannot be renewed another day….
Wednesday early PM:  Uncle Dan arrives for his first solo babysitting adventure after sitting in traffic for an extra 45 minutes. We’re all a little flustered but said toddler is excited to play “pay-doh” with Unc Dan.  Score! (No photo available, photographer preoccupied with getting out the door.)

Wednesday evening:  Indigo Girls concert at the MN Zoo.  1. Yay that the zoo is open.  2. Yay for no rain during the outdoor concert. 3.Thank you to KC for the bleacher seat.  This pregnant lady would not have made it through the evening with out the back support!
We had a great time as per usual at the concert. Our seats this time ‘round weren’t the greatest we’ve ever had (last time was something like row 3 or 4 smack dead center!), but it’s not about seeing their faces as much as hearing the music.  Besides, their roadie/tuner gal was fun to watch as she chucked guitar picks at the Skippy the security guard.    
That all said, I have a small IG problem.  Later this week, my dad asked how many times I’d been to see them and the conversation went something like this:  “So, that was your second or third concert?”  “Um, no.”  I held up my hand and displayed all five fingers.  “Yes, I guess you really are a groupie.”  (And I’m making DH, dear hubbie, a groupie, too.  It was his third.) 
(Set List photo shamelessly yanked from the IG's FB page. They did not play Watershed and the question mark was an awesome rendition of Chickenman/Bitter Root mixed together.)  Thanks, ya’ll.  
Thursday AM:  Toddler dropped off at daycare.  Check.  Mini-cat nap on the couch.  (Have I mentioned I’m not sleeping very well right now?)  Check. 
Thursday Noon:  For my mom’s birthday, I’d said I’d take her out to lunch and shopping.  We did this on Thursday, which added to the birthday hoopla, we were celebrating someone’s birthday, right?  We had a delightful tea luncheon at the Mad Hatter in Anoka.  Unfortunately, the rain kept us from perusing the shops in downtown.
Thursday PM:  Pick toddler up from daycare and stop by the theatre on the way home for tickets.  Harry Potter tickets!
Friday AM:  Package on table with ribbons.  Wait wasn’t the concert my birthday present?  Guess not.  Teehee! Convinced toddler to hop in the car, despite the thunder to get Mom her ‘Bou Day Birthday Coffee.  Oh sweet decaf skinny almond cappuccino, it’s been a while! 
Friday AM cont.:  Matching Thomas and Friends with toddler.  Note that Mom’s spot is supposed to be RIGHT next to toddler and Little Nut Brown Hare on the floor.  Thank you thunderstorm!
Friday AM:  Grandma Sue and Grandpa Bruce arrive to spend part of the day with us.  We attempt the library musical program but it’s beyond packed.  Instead we do puzzles together at the library. 
Friday Noon:  Lunch at Chile’s.  DH joins us in the downpour.  Good food, albeit a bit slow in the service department.
Friday PM:  Naptime for toddler, birthday cake time for adults.  MMMMMM!  Say goodbye to parents, attempt to cat nap on couch.
Friday PM:  Papa Murphy’s pizza pickup (Ok, so it’s not Punch Pizza like last year, but this was pretty good stuff and what awaited was even better!)
Our church friends, Audrey and Al arrive to babysit.  They’ve offered to babysit pretty much since kiddo was born and it’s just never happened until now.  We show them the ropes, eat pizza together and head down the road several blocks to the theatre….
Friday PM:  Much Harry Potter Goodness.  And Crying.  And saying Goodbye to Dear Friends.  Sigh.  Gulp.  It was like finishing the last book for the first time—bittersweet.  It was awesome and even the small bits that were changed were perfect.  And can I just say what a pleasure it’s been to have all of the same actors and actresses play the same roles each time? 
The Star Tribune's review said this:  "For all the movies' dazzle and flash and Hippogriffs, the characters are more vivid than the special effects.  It is out emotional involvement with the three-dimensional heroes and villains, sidekicks and background players that draws us back time after time.  The final chapter ends with an epilogue that puts a lump in your throat and makes you want to watch them all again from the beginning.  That's the definition of a classic."  So true--as Albus Severus Potter found his seat on the Hogwart's Express, a chocolate frog jumped across the window of the train and I uttered, "Oh, a chocolate frog!"  Yep, time to start from number one again.
(See photo with Snape/Alan Rickman.  I Heart Alan Rickman.  Not that I think he's hot or anything but he's an awesome actor.  Love him!)
I’d also like to thank Baby Boy in utero for cooperating for a whopping 2.5 hours and allowing me not to have to get up to use the restroom.  Not even once.  Thank you, Son.  Much appreciated. 
Friday Later PM:  Birthday cake whilst watching the Thursday episode of “So You Think You Can Dance.” Who will be in the Top 10? One we pegged and one was a bit of a surprise. 
Saturday:  Recovery Mode. We’ve all slept a lot.  For the first time in 2.5 years, the child slept until almost 8 AM.  What a blissful summer schedule!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Only Mr. Darcy Will Do

Only Mr. Darcy Will Do by Kara Louise
Sourcebooks Landmark, 2011. 353 pgs.

Ahem, I have realized that I have another book to add to the mix of lost time.  I could have sworn I did a blog entry on this book, but alas, I did not. Let me clarify, it was not because this book was forgettable that I forgot to write about it....Darn pregnancy brain.  Let me also acknowledge that I read this sometime mid-winter and some of the minor plot details have started to escape me. Forgive me if I miss something or get something incorrect.

Kara Louise takes us on the "what if Mr. Bennet died before Elizabeth and Darcy could get things figured out" plotline in this lovely novel.  Mr. Bennet dies, Elizabeth becomes a governess for the Willstones and much to her surprise discovers that they are acquaintances of the Bingleys and Darcys.  Long story short, they are invited to Pemberley for a visit (Elizabeth included) and Darcy does what he can to catch Elizabeth's fancy despite Mrs. Willstones sister's (Rosalyn) obvious interest in Darcy and Mrs. Willstones obvious objections when she notices the attention that Darcy pays a simple governess.

I enjoyed this novel because it showed Darcy putting to use the second chance he receives in becoming (re)acquainted with Elizabeth.  He is persistent in regards to Elizabeth and oblivious to the fact that Rosalyn admires him.  Elizabeth being invited to Pemberley as a governess was a nice twist to the P&P plot.  It is not far fetched and the feelings of the characters realistic.  The Willstones were a bit cold to Elizabeth but it was due to their recognition that Elizabeth and Rosalyn were rivals for Darcy's attentions.  This story worked for me and was another quick light read.

4 Bonnets.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Jane Goes Batty

Jane Goes Batty by Micheal Thomas Ford
Ballantine, 2011. 295 pgs.

We're moving on into the time when I was coming out of hardly awake stage here.  I am pretty sure I read Jane Goes Batty sometime in May (Or was it June?).  Well, either way, it was a true delight.  Really. For someone NOT particularly enamored with Twilight or the whole vampire thing, I can say that these books are just great.  Sure, they might not be "high" literature, but they contain a wit and sparkle that I, personally, think other Vampire fiction lacks (and other mash-ups for that matter as well).

To pick up where Jane Bites Back left off, Jane Goes Batty, starts with well, Jane going a bit batty!  Jane Fairfax's (aka Jane Austen) world is topsy turvy and out of control.  Her best-selling novel, Constance, is being made into a movie right in her hometown, she's still getting 'How To Be a Vampire" lessons from Lord Byron, and she keeps dodging her boyfriend Walter's hints at getting married.  Add that Walter's Jewish mother arrives in town, there's a camera crew following Jane around for DVD extras and that "Our Gloomy Friend" (aka vampire Charlotte Bronte) is still out there and Jane can hardly keep her fangs in check.

Hilarity ensues and laugh out loud moments populate this book.  Really and truly.  Micheal Thomas Ford's talent at witty storytelling shines through in this series.  He's creative and here's what I love--I didn't get bored at all!

Again 5 out of 5 bonnets!  Bravo!  (And did I mention that a 3rd in the series comes out Feb. 2011?  Jane Vows Vengeance!)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Jane Austen Ruined My Life

Jane Austen Ruined My Life by Beth Pattillo
Guideposts, 2009. 270 pgs.

Here's yet another piece of JA Fanfic that I read during that "I just lost 3 months of my life" timespan.  Hmmm....Here goes:

Emma Douglas' life is falling apart:  her husband cheated on her and then helped create a scandal at the college where she taught.  Needless to say, her tenure track, let alone is position, at the college is gone.  She escapes to Britain to find some inspiration in Austen's England and to find some of Austen's missing letters.  A recluse named Mrs. Parrot claims to have some of these letters and sets Emma on a quest to find more of them.  Add an old friend and love interest, Adam, to Emma's time in England and she truly starts to believe that Jane Austen really did ruin her life.

This book fell sort for me.  I was kind of bored with it and I can't quite put my finger on it.  This is the author's earlier book (I'd already read Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart) and I think that might be the problem.  Or rather that the two books are very similar, not connected per se, but similar in terms of the secret society of ladies protecting Jane's letters and/or manuscripts.  I think that the plots blended together too much for me and I was hoping for more.  Had I read this novel first, I think I would have liked it more, but then would have not like Mr. Darcy as much.  At least that's my hunch.  It also might be that the main character, Emma, was a bit of a whiner, complainer, "whoa is me" type and it just got downright old for me.  I simply wanted something new and fresh.

2 Bonnets.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

An Homage to Anne Shirley

I know I posted this on Facebook for some of my friends, but I feel that this link needs to be shared here since Anne of Green Gables is on my Ultimate Top 10 Book List.  Again, Fug or Fab makes me Gafaw, Chortle and any other form of laughing you can figure.... I've posted it below,  but it does cut off Kate's ensemble, so clicking on the picture will take you to the original.  LOVE IT!

The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy

The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy by Mary Lydon Simonsen
Sourcebooks Landmark, 2011.  381 pgs.

First, let me take a breath and pause and be honest.  I, ahem, read this book sometime this winter/spring.  I'm not sure quite when it was.  Ahem.  It was sometime during the "Oh, sweet goodness, I keep falling asleep trying to read just one page before I go to bed." phase of the 1st trimester.  (That is, when I actually attempted reading and didn't just fall asleep at 7pm.)

So, the details are a bit fuzzy.  I'm sorry.  That's just how it is right now.  Either way, let's give this a go...

In The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth makes friends with Cousin Anne De Burgh during her visit to Rosings.  Anne, being the clever one that she is, gets that Darcy and Elizabeth are 1. attracted to one another and 2. that something has happened to be Darcy out of spirits.  Insert a little matchmaking (Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match.  Find me a find.  Catch me a catch....) with Georgiana's wild imagination and a bit of cleverness, mixed with Bingley's older brothers and the book is a fun romp into another what might have been in Darcy and Elizabeth's courtship.

Overall, an enjoyable read.  There was a bit about Darcy helping out an old mistress of his get reestablished after returning from the continent, that felt a bit forced to me.  Like it was just thrown in there for the sake of another plotline, but overall it was some quality Austen Fanfic.

4 Bonnets.