Quick update – and some links

November 5, 2009 Categories: Books , Movies , This and That , Writing | 2 Comments  

So, it’s day 5 of NaNoWriMo. I’m at 8,853 words – a bit over where I need to be, which is good, since I didn’t get to write yesterday at all. Michelle and I met at a local internet cafe, and against all odds, actually got some writing done! (Kevin was convinced the writing was just an excuse to get together and gab.)

Saturday is my birthday, so I’m looking forward to Mom and Dad coming over for dinner – Mom’s making lasagne, Dad’s making cheesecake. Yum!

Here’s the latest at Books and Movies:

~ Book Review: The Dead of Night by John Marsden
~ Book Review: Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
~ Book Review: Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
~ Movie Review: Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
~ Movie Review: Aliens in the Attic
~ Book Review: Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr
~ Book Review: The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walter
~ Book Review: Dear Fatty by Dawn French
~ Book Review: The Watsons by Jane Austen
~ Lines you’ll only read/hear in a Stephanie Plum mystery
~ Movie Review: Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
~ Recommendations from a non-blogger: Jonathan
~ Book Review: Lean Mean Thirteen by Janet Evanovich
~ Book Review: Fire by Kristin Cashore
~ Movie Review: Cheri
~ Recommendations from a non-blogger: Noah
~ Two perfect books for curious kids and their parents
~ TV on DVD Review: Legend of the Seeker: The Complete First Season
~ Book Review: The Deep End of the Ocean by Jacquelyn Mitchard

Bullet points

October 30, 2009 Categories: Blogging , Curriculum , Holidays , Homeschooling , Writing | 2 Comments  

~ There is so much going on – I haven’t had much time to post here at Mommy Brain. I feel bad, but Books and Movies has to be more of a priority, because I’m getting free books to review in the mail every week.

~ No improvement on the financial front – enough said. Oh, and my van – which is our most reliable vehicle and the only one with a fully functioning heater – is in the shop today. Praying very hard that it is something easy and cheap to fix.

~ I switched Natalie to The History of US by Joy Hakim for her US history. She’s liking it much better. I’m dealing with the lack of review exercises/exams by having her write a summary paragraph after reading each chapter. So far, so good.

~ Kevin and the kids carved pumpkins last week, but two of them have already had to be thrown away. We had a very early freeze in our neck of the woods, and the result was mushy pumpkins.

~ Our butterflies have completed their life cycle, and the butterfly habitat will be put away until spring. This has been one of Jonathan’s most favorite birthday presents ever!

~ The kids are extremely excited to attend the Harvest Party at Grandmamma and Papa’s church tomorrow night. They always bring home bags and bags of candy.

~ And now, in the “here’s my excuse for not blogging hardly at all next month” category: I’m doing NaNoWriMo. For those of you unfamiliar with the acronym, it stands for National Novel Writing Month. The idea is to write a 50,000 word novel. In a month. That amounts to 1667 words a day. So, needless to say, blogging will be at a minimum until November is over. I’m excited but terrified, too. But at least I’ll be able to say I tried, right? Michelle did it last year, and it didn’t kill her. :) Natalie is doing it, too – but her goal is 7,000 words. Michelle and her kids are doing it, too, so at least we’ll have company.

I guess that catches everyone up. Anyone else out there doing NaNoWriMo? Please let me know – and tell me your user name – so I can add you to my writing buddies list.

Have a great Halloween!

Links for Friday – July 31, 2009

July 30, 2009 Categories: Homeschooling , Movies , This and That , Videos , Writing | 2 Comments  

Can you believe that it’s the last day of July already? We start our homeschool year on the 24th of August – it’s going to be here before we know it. Natalie’s science books came in the mail this week. These are completely new to me, so I was very happy to finally get my hands on them. I’ve gotten the year scheduled out, and just need to do some reading to make sure I understand what she’ll be learning! 7th grade science looks much harder than I remembered it.

This weekend is busy – tomorrow (I’m posting this Thursday night) Natalie is singing at a local arts festival called Rendezvous. She is very nervous, but I know she’ll do fine. We plan to spend Saturday at the lake, and then if we’re not too beat, we will be heading back to Rendezvous to hear An Dochas, a local band who has hit it big in Gaelic music circles. Their CDs are often played in our house and van.

Sunday, we hope to visit a friends’ church – if we’re not completely wiped out from the rest of the weekend!

Do you have any big weekend plans?

~ If you’re longing to do a re-read of the Harry Potter series, or if (~gasp~) you haven’t read it yet, sign up for the Harry Potter Reading Challenge.

~ Ever get angry over poor customer service? This guy had a creative way to get back at United Airlines.

~ The new Tim Burton film Alice in Wonderland looks really amazing.

~ I love this new take on a wedding processional.

~ Writing advice from Stephen King and Jerry Jenkins. (Who’d have thought that King and the writer of the Left Behind series would be friends?)

~ The upcoming New Moon film now has an official site.

Alice Hoffman take note…

July 8, 2009 Categories: Videos , Writing | 2 Comments  

…this is a much more gracious – and humorous – way to deal with bad reviews.

Links for Friday, March 6, 2009

March 6, 2009 Categories: Books , Contests , Faith , Movies , Music , This and That , Writing | 1 Comment  

Whew, this week has just whizzed by! We’re all feeling better, mostly over the creeping crud, thank goodness. I don’t have a lot planned for my weekend, but on Monday I (finally) have my appointment with the neurologist about my headaches. His office is called The Headache Clinic, so he should be able to help, right? I’m optimistic. I’m going to take Natalie with me so the day isn’t completely a drag – we might even stop at Barnes & Noble on the way home, though mostly just to browse and pick up the third 39 Clues book for Noah.

If your weekend includes time for surfing, here are some links to check out:

~ Trish at Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin’? has compiled a list of the books book bloggers considered their best read of 2008. Lots of good titles there.

~ Take Your Vitamin Z posted about how Mark Driscoll handles family devotions at dinner time. This actually seems like a relatively painless approach – we may give it a try.

~ Ever wanted to find out what book bloggers think about a particular book? Fyrefly has created a custom Google search of book blogs.

~ Are you jonesing for a Harry Potter fix? The Leaky Cauldron has a First Look video with highlights from the upcoming Half Blood Prince film.

~ There’s still time to enter my giveaway for Good Egg.

~ For you writerly types, here’s a great article on procrastination by Janet from Quoth the Maven.

~ The Sacred Sandwich imagines the reaction if the book of Galatians was published in Christianity Today.

~ This is one comeback I could do without.

At Books and Movies lately:

~ A list of our favorite read-alouds in the past couple of years.

~ If you read this before midnight Pacific Standard Time, there’s still time to enter my giveaway of Interred With Their Bones, Capote in Kansas: A Ghost Story, and The Read-Aloud Handbook.

~ I’ve joined The Classics Challenge 2009.

from “In Praise of the Humble Comma”

February 20, 2009 Categories: Commonplace Book , Writing | Comments Off  


“Punctuation is the notation in the sheet music of our words, telling us where to rest, or when to raise our voices; it acknowledges that the meaning of our discourse, as of any symphonic composition, lies not in the units but in the pauses, the pacing and the phrasing. Punctuation is the way one bats one’s eyes, lowers one’s voice, or blushes demurely. Punctuation adjusts the tone and color and volume till the feeling comes into perfect focus, not disgust exactly, but distaste; not lust, or like, but love….

….Sometimes, of course, our markings may be simply a matter of aesthetics. Popping in a comma can be like slipping on the necklace that gives an outift quiet elegance, or like catching the sound of running water that complements, as it completes, the silence of a Japanese landscape….

….Thus all these tiny scratches give us breadth and heft and depth. A world that has only periods is a world without inflections. It is a world without shade. It has a music without sharps and flats. It is a martial music. It has a jackboot rhythm. Words cannot bend and curve. A comma, by comparison, catches the gentle drift of the mind in thought, turning in on itself and back on itself, reversing, redoubling and returning along the course of its own sweet river music; while the semicolon brings clauses and thoughts together with all the silent discretion of a hostess arranging guests around her dinner table.”

~ from “In Praise of the Humble Comma,” as published in In Short: A Collection of Brief Creative Nonfiction edited by Judith Kitchen and Mary Paumier Jones

Links for Friday

January 15, 2009 Categories: Books , Movies , Videos , Writing | 2 Comments  

The snow has given us a break this week, and I am so extremely grateful. There was one day that I clicked on the weather and saw “Severe Weather Alert” and freaked, but it was only to let us know that the air wasn’t going to move for a while and to watch out for pollution. Which isn’t really a problem for our teeny, rural community. :) Of course, if the snow continues to hold off, I may not win my bet with Kevin and then I won’t get to collect my foot rub.

This was our week of appointments. Natalie had her 12yo well-child and tetanus booster on Tuesday morning. Wednesday she had her braces tightened. Today, I had my chiropractor appointment – finally! I felt my sacral ileac (I have no idea if that is spelled correctly and I’m too lazy to look it up.) joint pop into place, and he also pushed me around in a bunch of different places. I currently feel like I’ve been mowed over by a steamroller, but my hip doesn’t hurt – yay! – and my mom assures me I’ll feel better by tomorrow. I go back for another adjustment Tuesday – and hopefully that will fix it once and for all, since we’re paying out of pocket.

Tomorrow, Natalie takes her yearly assessment in the morning. Our afternoon looks to be boring, since Michelle’s kids are either just getting or getting over either a bad cold or minor flu, but oh, well, ’tis the season. Saturday, I’m taking the kids to see The Tale of Despereaux, and hoping the film-makers didn’t totally screw it up.

Some links for your weekend:

~ The estate of A.A. Milne has authorized a Pooh sequel. Hmmmm….. Not sure how I feel about this. I guess I’ll reserve judgment until I see the finished product.

~ Writing in the Age of Distraction: a column by Cory Doctorow, author of Little Brother.

~ Author Shannon Hale on the value of picture books – and graphic novels – even when we think our kids should have outgrown them.

~ How’d you like $105,000 to be caretaker of a tropical island off the coast of Australia? Apparently, a lot of people really wanted the job.

~ Some cool Coraline wallpaper. The kids and I are really looking forward to the film version.

~ My brother-in-law Hans, who is currently taking Biblical Greek in seminary, sent me this hilarious video: All Things Are Better in Koine.

~ The inability of people to recognize satire and sarcasm really scares me. Remember the Where the Hell is Matt video is on YouTube? The one with the adorably dorky guy dancing with people all over the world? Well, apparently, some people thought it was Photoshopped or in some way faked. Which means they really have no idea how Photoshop works, but whatever. Well, Matt made a tongue-in-cheek video “explaining” how it really was an elaborate hoax, everything was done on green screen. That the scene where he dances in weightlessness was accomplished by hollowing out a Boeing 727 and submerging it in an Olympic-sized swimming pool. That the other dancers weren’t really world citizens, but they were an army of animatronic puppets. And you know what? People thought he was serious. They completely missed how ludicrous his presentation was – puppets, people? – and were shocked that the video was a hoax. This satirical “confession” was posted on Digg by someone, and then picked up by a writer on Associated Content and posted as a legitimate news story. Matt then appeared at MacWorld to set the record straight and explain that it really wasn’t a hoax, that he did travel and dance around the world. The fact that he had to explain his false confession because people don’t understand satire just astounds me.

Links for Friday

December 26, 2008 Categories: Holidays , Movies , Writing | Comments Off  

Happy Boxing Day! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. We did – it was simple and lovely, in spite of the sore back and tummy bug and Dad’s hand.

My back is doing much better, although I still can’t sleep laying down. The first day I had the spasms, they were calming down by bed time, so I slept in bed. When I woke up in the morning, my back seized up again, so I’ve been sleeping sitting up on the couch with a pillow behind my back. Last night, I tried bed again, and ended up moving to the couch at 2 am – just too painful. I have a follow-up appointment on Tuesday to talk about the back, as well as the headaches and dizziness. Hopefully, the doctor will be able to find some answers.

We’re being lazy today. The boys are playing on the PS2 games they got for Christmas; Natalie’s playing Nancy Drew and the Curse of Blackmoor Manor on her computer, with frequent help from me. It’s a lot of fun – I’ve installed it on my laptop! I’ve been browsing Barnes & Noble’s list of bargain books. I will have to do some laundry later, but I’m not planning on anything else productive today.

Here are some links to enable you in wasting a bunch of time today, as well:

~ Moviefone’s 50 Best (and 10 Worst) Movies of 2008

~ 2008 Pop Culture IQ Quiz – How well did you pay attention to the truly unimportant things this year? I scored 10 out of 15.

~ Disney has backed out of financing Walden Media’s The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Wlden is now shopping it around to other studios – I sure hope they find one.

~ One author shares her timeline for getting a novel published.

~ This woman’s pencil drawings are amazing.

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?

Congratulations, Michelle!

November 30, 2008 Categories: Writing | 1 Comment  

She will be totally embarrassed that I’m doing this – but I wanted to congratulate my best friend, Michelle, for completing NaNoWriMo. During the month of November, she wrote a 50,000 word (actually, a couple hundred over) novel. Woo hoo!