Hi – I’m still here

March 27, 2010 Categories: All About Me | Comments Off  

So, let’s see, what’s going on?

~ Still going to the “new” church – and enjoying it. The kids like it, and I like being in a women’s group again – a small women’s group that includes real, authentic women who love God – no fake “everything’s peachy because we have Jesus” types.

~ My grandma is here visiting from Vancouver, staying with my folks. We’re hoping she will stay, as it doesn’t seem she’s getting the best of care with the relatives she’s currently staying with. It’s hard to see how much she has aged since the last time I saw her.

~ We’re on spring break from homeschooling for the next week – a break that is greatly needed by all of us, but mostly me.

~ The Extreme Health Makeover I embarked on last fall turned out to be major on the extreme, minor on the makeover – but still had a major effect on me, mostly on my mental health and helping to dig up the reasons why I eat compulsively. I’m in counseling with a lady at church. I’ll write a longer post about this later when things are more sorted in my head.

Lots going on at Books and Movies, as usual:

~ Movie meme
~ Book Review: The Last Town on Earth by Thomas Mullen
~ Book Review: Stealing Athena by Karen Essex
~ Book Review: Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
~ Help me prioritize my “I have to read this now!” books
~ Deep bookish questions meme
~ Book Review: An Irish Country Girl by Patrick Taylor
~ March Shelf-Cleaning Giveaway
~ Book Review: We Are the Children: Keepers of the School, Book 1 by Andrew Clements
~ Movie Review: The Princess and the Frog

If you’re on Facebook, I have set up a page for Books and Movies – feel free to “become a fan.” :)

Links for Friday, July 10, 209

How did it get to be Friday again already? This week just whizzed by!

We had a great Independence Day: mid-day at the lake, home to watch – what else? – Independence Day – then fireworks when it got dark. Stayed up way too late.

Stayed up way too late Sunday night, too, since I took the kids to the drive-in to see Up and The Hannah Montana Movie. Loved Up (I don’t think there is a single Pixar movie I haven’t loved) and was surprised that the second feature was actually pretty good – and had some catchy music that I can’t get out of my head, because my daughter has been singing it ever since.

Went to the gym three times this week and walked on the treadmill. Increased my speed and duration each time. My butt and thighs hurt.

Got a haircut today for the first time in ages – my hair had grown out fairly long, now it’s a little longer than chin-length and layered again. Much cooler for summer.

Tonight, Natalie and I are going to a mother-daughter campout. I will stay for hot dogs and campfire songs and the scavenger hunt, but come home to sleep in my bed so a dozen tween-aged girls don’t keep me awake until o-dark-thirty.

Five days until my sister Debra gets here for a quick two-day visit. Haven’t been able to hug her in real life since her divorce. Can’t wait to get all caught up.

We have two members of our extended family undergoing treatment for cancer. My aunt is having radiation treatments to follow up on a lumpectomy for breast cancer. Kevin’s sister will undergo surgery and then chemotherapy for liver cancer. Prayers would be greatly appreciated.

Well, I’m off to run errands in 20 minutes, so I better get on with the links:

~ This comic is funny, and sadly, true. We love our public library!

~ The Best Books of the Year So Far.

~ ABC is holding a contest for budding song-writers: write a mock theme song for LOST.

~ This video is amazing: A choir uses their hands to simulate a rainstorm – and then they sing Africa.

At Books and Movies recently:

~ My favorite YA fiction, part one
~ Book review: Songs of the Humpback Whale by Jodi Picoult
~ Book review: The Book of Unholy Mischief by Elle Newmark

Have a great weekend!

Links for Friday, July 3, 2009

July 3, 2009 Categories: All About Me , Books , Kid Stuff , Videos | 3 Comments  

It’s late, but it’s still Friday in our time zone. Here’s what’s been going on in our house:

~ Natalie sang at the Relay for Life last Saturday. The organizers set up live acts to entertain the people walking for cancer research. It was her first public performance on her own, and she did beautifully.

~ We met friends at the park Monday afternoon, friends that we don’t see very often during the school year, as her children attend a very structured classical education Christian school with tons of homework. It’s been nice catching up during the summer – and I get my baby fix by interacting with her adorable 1-year-old daughter. :)

~ Tuesday, we met my mom at the park in her town, where there is a creek – the kids had a blast playing on the equipment and in the water while Mom and I visited.

~ Wednesday morning, Noah and Jonathan each had a tooth pulled at the dentist. Jonathan was extremely nervous, and so the dentist had prescribed Valium for him to take an hour before his appointment. Let me just say that Jonathan on Valium is about the funniest thing I’ve seen in ages.

~ Thursday afternoon was spent at the pool. I got some lesson planning done while the kids played. It’s been very, very hot here this week – in the high 90s – so the pool was a good place to be.

~ Today, we had Michelle and her boys over for a play date this afternoon. I really need to invent some boy-addicting Pokemon/Yugioh/Bakugan-style game that involves collecting cards so I can make a bundle! It’s funny to watch how intense they can get over these battles.

~ Tonight, I had an appointment with a trainer at the local fitness center to learn how to use some of the machines. I am determined to get there every weekday morning to use the treadmill and work on strength training.

We will be celebrating Independence Day tomorrow by heading to the lake during the hottest part of the day, and then shooting off some fireworks tomorrow night. How will you be celebrating the 4th?

Here are the links I saved to share with you all:

~ Harry Potter, the Musical – This musical was written and produced by college students. Only one video is up so far, but more are to come – and it’s a lot of fun.

~ Renae has a great post at Heart of the Matter Online: Raising Children to Live a Normal Life.

At Books and Movies this week:

~ Favorite children’s novels, part two
~ Book Review: The Actor and the Housewife by Shannon Hale
~ June Reading Wrap-Up
~ DVD Giveaway: Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience
~ Book Review: Life of Pi by Yann Martel

25 Random Things About Me

January 13, 2009 Categories: All About Me | 19 Comments  

My sister Andrea tagged me to do this on Facebook (it’s not the devil, Andrea (the other one), I promise!) and then I saw Carol post hers, and thought it would be fun to post here. Especially since I have nothing more productive to write.

1. I am a book-a-holic. Not just reading, but buying, collecting, holding, sorting, cataloging, listing, listening to audiobooks, talking about…

2. I have been married for almost fourteen years to Kevin. We met in the spring of ’94, had our first date on Oct.1, 1994, got engaged over Christmas, and got married March 31, 1995. Other than my youngest sister, Marni, we have a thing for short engagements in our family!

3. I have three sisters and no brothers, but have only one daughter and three sons. I didn’t “get” my sons for a while, not having been around boys growing up – all the wrestling and rowdiness. Took my husband and Dobson’s book Bringing Up Boys to show me they’re just normal, healthy boys.

4. I’m a grammar geek. I hate to see poor grammar, and want to correct it, no matter what. If it wasn’t against the law to take a Sharpie to signs in public, I’d edit every mistake I see.

5. I won 2nd place in our state’s regional Spelling Bee when I was in 6th grade. I lost on the word spoliation. I watched the documentary “Spellbound,” and I’m convinced the words have gotten much harder since I was studying them!

6. I am two classes away from a Bachelor’s degree in Theater Arts. This drives many people crazy. It doesn’t bother me at all.

7. I will have been blogging for four years in January. There are several people I’ve met through blogging who I consider to be dear friends, even though I’ve never met them in real life.

8. I homeschool my kids – have since the very beginning, when Natalie was in kindergarten. We’re now in our 7th year of homeschooling.

9. I hate to have my picture taken. Notice my profile pic is of my kids, not me.

10. I am a dedicated Seattle Seahawks fan. I watch every game by myself, since my husband isn’t a football fan. I’ve even used an early game as an excuse to skip church. (Don’t tell my mom.)

11. I am a movie fanatic. I love to go to the movies, watch trailers for upcoming movies, and watch movies on DVD. I come by it naturally – my dad has a movie collection so big he could open his own rental store.

12. I am an Anglophile, and love all things British, Irish, and Scottish. Monarch of the Glen and the BBC’s Robin Hood are two of my favorite television series.

13. I love BBC costume dramas – but have to watch them by myself. Kevin takes one look at the costumes, hears the British accents, and says, “no way.”

14. I cry all the time. Something happened when I had kids, and I now cry at the drop of a hat. For instance, my kids are re-watching “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” right now, and when the scene where Harry beats the dragon came on, and Hermione cheers for him, I immediately teared up. Pathetic, I know. My kids think I’m crazy. They especially hate it when I tear up during our read-aloud time.

15. I’m a registered Republican who voted for Barack Obama. I blogged about my decision. You wouldn’t believe how many online “friends” and blog readers this cost me. Almost as many as the homeschooling friends I’ve lost because we love Harry Potter.

16. I talk on instant messenger to my sisters Andrea and Debra almost every day.

17. I was blessed enough to marry a man who likes to talk. We never run out of things to talk about.

18. The kids and I are learning Latin together. We can now say four prayers in Latin.

19. I love history. I used to hate science, until I started teaching it to my kids. Then I realized that I just had really boring teachers – science is fascinating, and I have a lot of fun learning alongside my kids.

20. Kevin likes to watch TV on DVD, so we don’t have to sit through commercials. I like watching it when it airs; that way I can read during the commercials.

21. I have been working as a freelance writer for almost three years now. I’ve written articles as varied as “How the Pope is chosen,” “The history of coffee,” “Science supplies for homeschoolers,” and “Going back to work while nursing.”

22. I have extremely eclectic musical taste. Just a sampling: John Denver, Taylor Swfit, Josh Groban, Andrea Bocelli, Kate Rusby, Paul Simon, Mercy Me, Bee Gees, Billy Joel, An Dochas, Elton John, Carrie Underwood, George Winston, Roger Whittaker, etc.

23. I’m going to steal this one from Andrea: I love spring and autumn and couuld live without summer and winter.

24. I love buying books for my kids, and get totally excited when they find a book they love.

25. I do not iron. I purposely only buy clothes for my family that don’t require ironing.

Anyone out there who hasn’t already done this one or a variation of it? Consider yourself tagged.

Links for Friday – and an update

December 19, 2008 Categories: All About Me , Books , Funnies , Holidays , Movies , Reviews , Videos , Writing | 4 Comments  

Thanks so much for all the kind thoughts and prayers. After a full day of doing nothing but icing my back and taking meds, I am doing better. It’s still sore, and I’m still moving slowly, but I don’t feel like I want to cry every time I stand up, which is a huge improvement. I’m going to lay low again today, and am cautiousy optimistic about rehearsal tomorrow and the Christmas program Sunday night.

My mom also received some tentatively good news – they may be able to fit her surgery in on the 30th, which would just squeak it in on this year’s deductible. Fingers crossed.

She took all my Christmas gifts home with her, and is going to do my wrapping – isn’t she great? I actually got my Christmas letter written yesterday, since I can’t do much but sit. I love my laptop. So, it looks like I’ll be ready for Christmas, in spite of this little setback.

We’ve been enjoying our break from homeschooling -well, the kids and I have, anyway. Poor Kevin spent at least two hours shoveling yesterday – once in the morning, and again in the evening. That and a lovely confrontation with our neighbors from you-know-where made for an unpleasant evening for him.

The snowfall has been in record proportions – I think there’s about two feet out there right now, with more forecasted for this afternoon. The city of Spokane, which is 60 miles south of us, has completely shut down – the snow ploughs just can’t keep up. Some areas have received 30 inches! Looks like we’ll definitely have a white Christmas.

And now for some links:

~ Six to Eight Black Men: a hilarious holiday essay by David Sedaris. I listened to this on audiobook, but I found it online at Esquire – just don’t click on any of their links, or who knows what you’ll get.

~ The Advent Conspiracy – Hat tip: Donna.

~ The Krusty Sage: Quite Buying Crap You Can’t Afford Just Because It’s Christmas.

~ Author Shannon Hale: Write What You Don’t Know

~ Communication skills course – very funny, and pertinent to those of us who do most of our business correspondence through e-mail.

~ Great list of children’s books that teach truths about God and theology. Hat tip: Tim Challies.

At Books and Movies recently:

~ My review of Twilight, the film version.

~ Join me for the 2009 Essay Reading Challenge.

~ My review of The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister.

~ My review of The Passion of Artemisia by Susan Vreeland.

~ My review of Blindspot by Jane Kamensky and Jiill Lepore.

So, are you all ready for Christmas?

The election, my birthday, links, and nine winners

November 7, 2008 Categories: All About Me , Books , Contests , Politics | 11 Comments  

I don’t have many links to share this week – I’ve been too busy to do much surfing. I will say that we watched the election returns and speeches on Tuesday night. The kids and I watched Schoolhouse Rock, particularly the song “I’m Going to Send Your Vote to College” and talked about how the electoral college works. We tracked the votes on our map, with red and blue stickers. Since we live on the West, they were able to stay up long enough to see almost all of president-elect Obama’s speech, but Noah was nodding off toward the end.

(more…)

A to Z Meme

July 10, 2008 Categories: All About Me , Memes & Quizzes | 8 Comments  

Saw this at Meg’s and decided to play along.

Accent: Growing up in Washington State, I don’t have one. Pretty generic American, I guess. Though I pick up accents, especially when I’ve been watching a lot of BBC. Noah could always tell when I’d been watching Monarch of the Glen – he said I talked like Lexie. :)

Breakfast or no breakfast: Definitely – and I must have protein. I like the low-fat breakfast Lean Pockets with eggs and sausage. Or toast with peanut butter. And coffee, though I’m not supposed to have it because of my GERD.

Chore I don’t care for: I’m with Meg – any type of housework is low on my list of favorite things to do.

Dog or Cat: Neither – I’m not much of an animal person. And, we have a small house and four kids…

Essential Electronics: Laptop, MP3 player, and PDA.

Favorite Cologne: I used to wear Nokomis, but I don’t wear any perfume any more. On men, I like Cool Water – but my hubby doesn’t wear cologne, either.

Gold or Silver: Silver.

Handbag I carry most often: Burgundy purse. Usually accompanied by a tote full of books.

Insomnia: Occasionally – usually hormone related.

Job Title: Just one? Homeschooling mom, freelance writer, chief cook and bottle washer.

Kids: One daughter: Natalie, 11. Three sons: Noah, 10; Jonathan 8; and Josiah, 6.

Living Arrangements: A very small house that we’re trying to sell so we can move into something bigger.

Most Admirable Trait: Compassion. I’m also a good listener, I think.

Naughtiest Childhood Behavior: Most of my naughtiness occurred after I was no longer a child, at least technically. I did skip school once, but I got caught. Oh, and once I got my driver’s license, I used to sneak the car out at night for junk food runs with my sisters. My parents slept through just about anything. Oh, and I got drunk on champagne at a wedding at which I sang – but it wasn’t my fault. That’s enough true confessions for now.

Overnight hospital stays: Five days for Natalie’s birth, but I was only considered a patient for two. I stayed three more nights in a “parent room,” because Natalie was in the NICU. I can’t remember if I stayed for one night or two with Noah’s birth. Four nights with Jonathan’s birth – an emergency cesarean. One night with Noah when he was 17 months old and had croup. Three nights with Josiah’s birth – a repeat c-section and tubal. One night for gall bladder surgery.

Phobias: Spiders, crossing old bridges in the car. Oh, and I’m not so hot about heights, either.

Quote: My favorite, or something I say? One of my favorites is on the header image above. I say “crap” more often than I should.

Reason to smile: My kids can always make me smile.

Siblings: Three younger sisters: Andrea, Debra, and Marni.

Time I wake up: On a weekday, 6:30 or 7. On weekends, I like to sleep in until 9.

Unusual Talent or Skill: Unusual? Hmmm… I can alphabetize words really fast.

Vegetable I Refuse to Eat: Peas. Shudder.

Worst Habit: Procrastination.

X-rays: My ankle twice, but it was just sprained both times.

Yummy Stuff: I’ll go with Meg’s answers: Chocolate, Cheesecake….

Zoo Animal I Like Most: Like I said, not much of an animal person. :)

I tag Sheila at Dodging Raindrops, Eileen at Books and Hooks, Karen at Praise the Lord and Pass the Prozac, Lisa at The Funny Farm, and Lawanda at Lovin’ Life.

Tired, but happy – oh, and a tag

April 26, 2008 Categories: All About Me , Memes & Quizzes | 3 Comments  

Today was just what I needed. Kevin and I and the boys drove up to Trail, B.C. to swim and play at the Aquatic Center. (Natalie is spending the weekend with Grandmama and Papa.) We stayed for about three hours. I swam for an hour and a half, showered, and then sat and read until Kevin and the boys were worn out and starving. We went out to eat where I had some very yummy stuffed mushrooms (so not on Weight Watchers :( ). A quick stop at Tim Horton’s for coffee and then the ride home, during which I managed to doze off in spite of drinking a large Tim Horton’s with two creams and two sugars.

The kids are now getting some game time in, Kevin is dozing since he had to stay awake to drive us home, and I’m going to watch the second half of Anna Karenina. I bought the version with Sophie Marceau and Sean Bean (!) a while ago, but have been saving it until I had finished the book. I watched the first half last night while Kevin was gaming, and it’s just okay. But it is Sean Bean, so I will force myself to finish it. ;)

Karen tagged me to do the Seven Random Facts Meme, so here goes:

~ I love the beach, but hate the ocean – the underwater part of it, anyway. I hate movies that feature underwater scenes – Finding Nemo is about the only exception. Those underwater aquariums – where the water is all around you and you can see all those fish and sharks swimming around – make me freak out, which Kevin discovered on our honeymoon. Guess I’ll never go snorkeling.

~ I have only lived in one state – Washington. I’ve lived in the northwest corner, southwest corner, and we now reside in the northeast corner.

~ My daughter and I are planning to participate in NaNoWriMo this year.

~ I was a theater major in college and acted and/or sang in several plays, including A Comedy of Errors, Love’s Labours Lost, The Water Engine, Once Upon a Mattress, The Hostage, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Steel Magnolias.

~ I am a very light sleeper, which is why Kevin has spent the last several weeks sleeping on an air mattress in the living room while he gets over a sinus infection that makes him snore louder and more continuously than usual.

~ I can read anywhere, anytime, no matter how noisy or busy things are around me.

~ I have a really bad habit of interrupting people – especially my husband. He hates it.

Not quite a meme

February 21, 2008 Categories: All About Me , Memes & Quizzes | 6 Comments  

I saw this at Quoth the Maven, and thought it would be a good way to continue my week of meaningless posts.

Full name: Carrie Eileen Kitzmiller.
What are you most afraid of?: Biggie: losing a child. Not-so-biggie: Spiders.
What is the most recent movie that you have seen on bootlet?: I don’t know what bootlet is. If they mean “bootleg” – I don’t.
Place of birth: Bellingham, Washington
Favorite food: Pizza.
Natural hair color: Brown. With more and more grey every day.
Ever been a Neat Freak?: I can hear my mom laughing all the way from her house. Um, no.
Ever been skinny dipping?: Mom, close your eyes – yes.
Love someone so much it made you cry?: Yes.
Ever been in a car accident?: Yes – and it was completely my fault. Thank God, no one was hurt. Except me – but only minor bruises and sore muscles.
Croutons or bacon bits?: Can I have both, please?
Favorite day of the week?: Friday.
Favorite restaurant?: Stefani’s Oak Street Grill. After years of only mediocre restaurants in our little town, we now have a restaurant with delicious food and wonderful atmosphere.
Favorite flower?: Dutch Iris.
Favorite sport to watch?: Football.
Favorite drink?: Non-alcoholic: Pepsi. Alcoholic: Colorado Bulldog.
Favorite ice cream?: Cherry Garcia or Chubby Hubby.
Warner Bros. or Disney?: Either – I love movies.
Ever been on a ship?: Does a ferry count?
What color is your bedroom carpet?: Don’t have a carpet in the bedroom – hardwood floors.
How many times did you fail your driver’s test?: None.
Before this one, from whom did you get your last e-mail?: Andrea, who’s working on a little secret project for me. ;)
What do you do when you’re bored?: Read.
Bedtime?: 10:30 or 11:00.
Favorite TV shows?: House, Bones, Lost, Heroes, Jericho, and Life. If there are any other TV shows with one-word titles, chances are, I’ll like them.
Last person you went to dinner with?: Kevin – last Wednesday as an early Valentine’s Day celebration.
Park or zoo?: Parks are better for sitting in the sun and reading while the kids play – and I’ve never been much of an animal person.
Favorite colors?: Purple and dark green.
How many tattoos do you have:? None.
How many pets do you have?: None.
Which came first, the chicken or the egg?: The chicken, of course.
What do you want to do before you die?: Visit Ireland. Write a book.
Have you ever been to Hawaii?: No.
Have you been to countries outside the U.S.?: Canada and Mexico.

Let me know if you play along.

Kindred spirits

January 3, 2008 Categories: All About Me , Books , Memories | 8 Comments  

I am re-watching You’ve Got Mail. Close to a perfect film: Meg Ryan, Tom Hanks, witty dialogue, and books. Early on in the film, Meg Ryan’s character, Kathleen, talks about what her mother did when she started her bookstore. That she wasn’t just helping children find books, but she was helping to shape who they would become, because the books we read as children have a direct effect on the kind of people we become.

I started thinking about the people who helped me find the books that shaped who I have become. And wishing that I had a way to thank them, to tell them what a profound impact they made on my life.

Teresa Johnson was one of the librarians at the Sedro Woolley Public Library. My sisters and I spent hours and hours there. This was back in the day when we could holler to Mom, “heading to the library,” hop on our bikes and go. Teresa was a personal friend of the family, and so we had “behind the counter” privileges: we got to stamp books and cards (this was before the computerized age, of course) and help re-shelve books. We also got first look at the new books, before they even hit the shelves! I have Teresa to thank for many of my favorite books, like From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, the Trixie Belden series, and Anne of Green Gables. There was also this one book from the non-fiction section, but I can’t remember the title. It was a book about a rich man who built a beautiful dollhouse mansion – for his wife or daughters, maybe? The pictures of the dollhouse’s opulent rooms, with absolutely exquisite details – they must have been falling apart by the time my sisters and I were too old to check it out anymore. Our last name, Shannon, nearly filled the check-out card. (Anyone remember the book?)

Teresa didn’t just open my mind to the world of books, however. When my parents went away for a weekend, Teresa would come stay with us, and she would bring her dress-up trunk. A trunk full of old prom and bridesmaid dresses that were the inspiration for hours of imaginative play. I’m sure my future theater major originated in that trunk. Teresa also brought videos of musicals, ballets, and operas. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, The Pirates of Penzance, The Scarlet Pimpernel.

She didn’t stop with videos, however. She spent her hard-earned money to take my sisters and I to the ballet and to the theater. Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliet, and The Nutcracker as danced by the company of the Pacific Norhtwest Ballet. Symphonies, operettas, and ice skating. A huge part of my taste in music and literature and the arts can be directly traced back to those trips to Seattle. Dick’s Drive-In burgers before the performance, mud pie at Red Robin afterward. What memories.

I got a Christmas card from Teresa – I do every year. She’s still single, still works at the library. And, knowing her heart, there is another generation of girls who are learning to love books, the theater, and the ballet.

Miss Jane Dooling was my eighth grade teacher. That was the only year I spent in Christian school – the tuition paid for because my mom was the church secretary. I have many memories of that year. My first boyfriend. My first kiss. I remember walking to Miss Dooling’s house when news reached us of the Challenger disaster. We sat in her living room in stunned silence, watching the news, not fully able to comprehend what we were witnessing.

And her books. She would bring stacks for me to take home, and as soon as I finished, there was another stack. I don’t remember all the books that I borrowed from her, but one series in particular stands out in my mind – the Betsy Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace, with the wonderful line drawings by Lois Lenski. More than the books, though, I remember her unbridled generosity and willingness to share. I was an awkward 8th-grade girl – braces, glasses, the whole bit. But Miss Dooling valued my opinion about the books she loaned me! When I returned a book, she would ask me questions: What was your favorite part? Which character did you like best? Did he or she make the right decision? I learned how to think about my reading from her – more than from any book report I ever wrote during the rest of my school years.

I’m not sure what happened to Miss Jane Dooling. I don’t know if she ever married, if she’s still teaching. But I’m fairly sure of one thing – she is still a book-lover and a book-sharer.

As I now share these books with my own daughter, I am grateful to these two women for opening new worlds to me.