Tuesday, March 30, 2010

"This looks better than I thought it would."

Gee, honey, thanks for the vote of confidence

Okay, so she thinks the armscye needs to be scooped out more. And I have no idea how we ended up with 3 different lengths in the hemline. And in real life I don't see a fold line from the corner of the neckline to the armscye, but in the picture it looks like there's one. Then again, she was messing around seeing how it looked with her arms straight up in the air, so maybe the folds WERE there.

BUT, I think we're ready to refine the pattern pieces, then start cutting into the fashion fabric. Then figure out what needle to use for that fabric, and whether I have a press cloth around here somewhere.

This just might work out.

Tuesday's To-Do List

- Haircut

- Clean rat cage. We now have 3 rats. I need to write about.

- Stop by city hall to get some stuff I should've gotten last week.

- Grocery.

- Follow up on phone message someone left on St. Patrick's Day when I was too focussed on Irish Dance to deal with the real world. Oh, hey -- the woman called me back this morning, and it's already done! So, check that one off!

- Laundry.

"Did you bring someone else's socks home from camp accidentally?"

"No. Those are mine."

"I don't remember you having any tan socks like this."

"Those are white socks."

Long pause


- Homeschool stuff.

- Stop by Hancock's for a button, Kona cotton, Vogue patterns on sale. Do this while kids are at dance.

- Also stop by Target for printer ink, taco sauce, and other stuff I can't remember right now. Should probably make a list.

- Thalia needs shoes to go with her Easter outfit. Also, I need to put together Easter baskets sometime soon. Do we have any eggs for an egg hunt? Will I have a chance to deal with any of this today? Maybe we could look at shoes after I pick Thalia up from her science class this afternoon.

- Work on AnnaBeth's Easter dress. We couldn't find a pattern for what she wanted, so I'm making it up, sort of morphing a Burda and a Kwiksew. Trying it out in scrap fabric first:

So far it reminds me of uniforms from fastfood places in the late 70s/early 80s.

- Also, make Easter dress for me sometime ... fabric is washed, pattern located, but will wait until AnnaBeth's is done.

- Deal with vague feeling that I'm forgetting something really important that needs to be done today.

Monday, March 29, 2010

What We Did This Weekend

AnnaBeth left for a camping trip Friday afternoon. Rick went to the NCAA basketball tournament directly after work. That left Thalia and I to spend the evening however we chose. We decided to select food that a) Rick can't eat due to food sensitivities, and b) AnnaBeth doesn't like ... so we got Chinese. We also got a movie we figured neither Rick nor AnnaBeth would enjoy -- Julie and Julia. It was a nice evening.

Saturday was spent looking at carpet for the family room. We brought several samples home, which the cats enjoyed clawing. I sort of hoped Black Cat would throw up on the one sample, since Ms. Snooty Salesperson from Snooty Carpet Place assured us that anything like that would clean up easily with water. So far, though, it has been at least 72 hours since a hairball. Drat.

I also made the muslin for Thalia's Easter skirt on Saturday.

Sunday we went to early church, then Sunday School. Home early, quick lunch, and then Rick took off for the Sunday NCAA game. I ran some errands, then went to pick up AnnaBeth from camping. She looked so pale -- I wondered if something had gone horribly wrong or if she was starting to get sick. She said she had fun; I think the main issue was that she doesn't do well with crowds of people and had just spent 48 hours with a large group. We skipped all of our usually Sunday afternoon/evening stuff, and hung out at home. I worked on Thalia's skirt, we watched Bob Newhart reruns, and had another quiet evening.

Must go now -- Black Cat seems to be contemplating a hairball regurgitation, and I must contemplate whether to move her to the carpet sample.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Weekly Report 3/26/10


Thalia is working in fractions (chapter 11) in Jacob's Algebra.

AnnaBeth is still working on decimals in RightStart Level E. Yesterday were problems using retail gasoline prices ... the examples in the book were around .99 and 9/10s. "Isn't that pretty cheap for gas, Mommy?" Um, yeah.


Thalia's co-op class is studying light, which she says is extremely boring.

AnnaBeth has been working on various Junior Girl Scout badges. Aside from finishing up the Science Discovery badge, she's also working on the Oil Up badge, and has started the Earth Connections badge's plant identification activities (learning 10 trees and learning about 5 native plants along with their traditional uses).


Thalia wrote a persuasive paper guided by her Jump In writing program. When I cautioned her about overuse of exclamation points (one is plenty for a short paper) she made a caustic comment about the writing in Apologia Physical Science, which she linked to a further caustic comment about a popular fiction author. Ahem. Life with a middle schooler is so fun.

AnnaBeth studied poetry in Writing With Ease 3, which uses Lewis Carroll and Jack Prelutsky as examples.


Thalia is working with pronoun antecedents in Analytical Grammar. By the way, as of last week she has finished the punctuation sections of Analytical Grammar, scoring quite high. So why was there a big fat comma splice in the first paragraph of that persuasive paper? Are we planning on applying any of this swanky grammar-stuff?

AnnaBeth is on lesson 65 of First Language Lessons 4. The week started with a poetry review in which she recited from memory "Afternoon on a Hill" by Edna St. Vincent Millay, "Ozymandias" by Percy Bysse Shelley, "How Doth..." by Lewis Carroll, "Learning to Read" by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, and "The Lake Isle of Innisfree" by William Butler Yeats. The rest of the week has been spent on types of sentences and direct quotations.


Thalia continues Mango Spanish.

AnnaBeth has completed the "basic" level of Mango French and is now trying the "complete" level. Although she's learned how to say de rein, but A Femme d'un Certain Age says to use je vous en prie. But perhaps that's for older women, and not 10 year olds. Or perhaps for the upper class, and not we peasants. Ah, the subtleties! If we move to France I shall be paralyzed with indecision over which to use.


We should've studied the opening of Suez Canal, but we didn't. But, it will still be there next week. That's the great thing about history -- it sticks around. We should get to it next week, so stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Work in Progress Wednesday

What's going on here:

1. Sneezing. When the maples start to bloom I start to sneeze.

2. Hairballs. Another sign of spring -- the cats shed, and Black Cat starts hocking up hairballs all over the place. Good times.

3. Sewing. Thalia wants a hot pink pencil skirt for Easter. I found a pinstripe gabardine in the clearance section of JoAnn Fabrics -- $3 per yard.

I started laying out the muslin yesterday (making a muslin because, let's face it, pencil skirts never fit correctly right off the bat). And it's still sort of laying there

while I sneeze.

4. Finally delivered the Girl Scout cookies to the homeless shelter. They count towards the Feinstein Challenge tally for the shelter, so they also get $61 to spend on other food. Cool.

5. Getting AnnaBeth ready for camping this weekend. Highlight: needed boots with 1 inch heel for horseback riding (a Girl Scout Council rule around here -- no clue if other Councils have this rule); found a pair at Goodwill for $2. Woosh! Lowlight: she's apparently bent on destroying herself before she goes -- so far she's had a spectacularly huge bug bite on her leg (we think she sat on a spider), and as soon as that started to heal she fell off of her scooter and banged up knees and feet. Amazingly, no broken bones from the scooter incident. But each time something happens she panics about the camping trip. I'll be glad when this is over.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Junior Girl Scout Science Discovery Badge -- Homeschool-style

AnnaBeth missed most of the meetings in which her troop worked on the Science Discovery badge, so we've been working on it here at home ... and counting it as homeschool science. I love the Junior Girls Scout science badges -- they're so wonderfully open-ended -- so this hasn't been a hardship at all.

Activity 1. Chemical Appearing Act.

As written in the Junior Badge book, you're supposed to combine 4 Tblsp of cornstarch with 1 cup of warm water for the "magic ink", then paint or write with it on paper. Next, put a Tblsp of iodine tincture in 1 cup of rubbing alcohol and paint the iodine solution over the paper to see your secret picture or message magically appear.

But I had a hazy memory that you don't need rubbing alcohol for this. So I looked up and used these directions instead.

What neither the website nor the badge book mentions is that you need to test your paper with the iodine solution before you even begin this project. Some paper has a sort of starchiness to it that develops the iodine solution whether there's cornstarch on it or not. Our printer paper came out purple even without cornstarch, but our art sketchbook paper worked beautifully.

2. Light and Reflection.

The badge book has a rather lame set of directions for making a kaleidoscope. I really like these directions better. Although I'd see about getting some plastic mirrors to cut up and put inside -- so much more reflective, and probably about as easy to find as the heavy plastic they're calling for.

In any event, we totally by-passed all of this and bought a kit. It really IS easy to put together. We didn't discover the directions inside the box lid until we had it all done -- we had just lined it up according to the diagram on the bottom of the box.

3. Water Tricks.

Make a needle float on water. The badge book didn't suggest using a tissue to lower the needle into the water (which is sort of a standard suggestion for this particular experiment), so we tried it without the tissue. Some needles sank, but some floated.

View from the bottom of the dish. The needle in the hazy distance is the one currently floating on top.

Also, find out how many drops of water you can put on a penny (this experiment always bugs me because drop sizes are going to vary). Then put a dab of soap on your finger and touch the water to see what happens.

I had found some nice kid-friendly explanations of surface tension online, but, alas, didn't bookmark them.

4. Can't Live Without It -- make a collage about sciency stuff, and 5. Act Like a Scientist -- draw/identify/classify some stuff -- we skipped these.

6. Become a Scientist. AnnaBeth made it to the meeting where a scientist was interviewed.

7. It's a Hands-On and Happening Place. Visit a science museum. Ummm, yeah, maybe we'll have time for that ... we haven't been all year, although we used to go once a month.

8. Environmental Observer. We copied off the Stream Health Checklist in the badge book and took it with us to a local stream. The checklist asks you to rate the cleanliness, water flow, clearness of the water, amount of wildlife, odor, etc. etc. as simply Good, Fair, or Poor. It was a nice way for a kid to begin thinking about these things.

9. See What? Optical illusions. AnnaBeth had fun with this site.

10. Here's the Rub. These are friction experiments that AnnaBeth did in a meeting. And Thalia did in Apologia Physical Science. You know, send something down a ramp that's been made slick or sticky or gritty, then compare speeds. If we'd done it at home I would've used the slide on our playset.

So, more than 6 activities completed, and we're done with the badge!

Making Bloomers

In hopes that the next time that I need to make bloomers I don't sit around wondering how I did it before, I'm writing it down here where I can find it.

Thalia needed new bloomers for her school outfit. She needed bloomers once before, and when I asked about getting a pair I was given the (strong) suggestion to make some. Someone (the teacher maybe) said that it's basically a matter of making shorts and sticking elastic in the legs (which isn't true, which is why I think maybe it was the teacher who said that, since she doesn't sew). And the school dressmaker gave me a bunch of the fabric that's used for lining the skirts of the school dresses, which is a heavy acetate satin, dry clean only, ravels like crazy (a few weeks ago we saw her in a fabric store contemplating a different fabric which was washable and looked easier to work with, so she might have switched by now).

Anyway, this is how I did the latest bloomer iteration, having learned from past mistakes.

First, I went to JoAnn Fabrics and selected a stretch satin -- lighter weight, washable, not as prone to raveling. Also more expensive, but I had a coupon.

Next, find a pattern. Sheesh, we have a lot of patterns in our house for elastic waist shorts. I chose one with side seams, since that would give me more options in re-sizing as I made them. I came up with an out-of-print pattern, McCall's 2101, which is for drawstring pants and shorts.

I knew that the pattern would be too big around at the "correct" size because it would have way more ease than we need for bloomers. I also knew that the waist would be way to high. I decided to make up a test pair in some cheap remnant fabric I found in our basement in order to see what else I wanted to change. (This is what people mean when they say they're making a muslin -- it's a test garment that is then taken apart and used as a pattern.)

While cutting out the muslin I lowered the upper edge to the natural waistline, figuring that it would end up even lower when I folded it over to insert elastic. I also shortened the crotch length to about 2", plus seam allowance and hem allowance. I'd probably go smaller here for a smaller girl.

I sewed them up using machine basting, then figured out what to do with the legs. What we really want with this is something that's more akin to a baggy bathing suit bottom, which means that the front of the leg should come up higher than the back of the leg.

I cut off what I thought would be appropriate, then insert elastic in the waist and in a leg to see how it fit Thalia. It looked okay, so I took it back apart.

Here's how it compares to the original shorts pattern:



And I simply laid the muslin pieces on the actual bloomer fabric to begin cutting out.

Sewed up the seams, serged the raw edges of the seams (even though this fabric doesn't ravel as much as the acetate, it still needs some sort of finishing). Serged the raw edges of the waist and legs. Turn down 1 inch at the waist, 3/4 inch at the legs.

The leg hem needed to be eased to accommodate the curves. It was fairly simple to do since the fabric was stretchy and fairly light weight. I didn't care if it looked a bit wonky since it's going to be gathered with elastic.

Insert elastic. I used 1/2 inch for the waist, 3/8 for the legs, but narrower would've worked. I left an opening in each elastic casing so we can adjust the elastic later if needed. When I started sewing I tended to put too long of elastic in items, not realizing that it needs to be TIGHTER than, say, the natural waist, so now I like to leave an easy way to mess with the elastic later. I left the opening for the leg elastic at the side seams -- that way if we need to do an emergency pin-job during a show we're putting the safety pins at a more comfortable spot.

And, finished! SImple, as long as you know what you're doing. I stuck the muslin in the pattern envelope in case I need to make another pair. And then zipped off another pair in a smaller size for someone else.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

In the Thick of It

What St. Patrick's Day week looks like for an Irish Dance family:

Up early this morning so we could leave for a show at 8:30. At about 8:27 Thalia discovered she couldn't find the green bloomers that are part of the "official" dance outfit. I think they're probably at the location of the second show we did Saturday OR in someone else's dress bag. Who knows. We also lost a camisole Saturday, so it was a tough clothing day. In any event, she wore a black leotard and tights under her dress, which then looked as though she was prepared for River Dance or Treble Reel.

Anyway, first show at a retirement community/nursing home. From there, load up and zip to a business to do a show for the employees during their lunch hour. Many of the employees were Taiwanese, and SOMEONE had a lunch that involved shrimp, rice, and soy sauce ... yum, it smelled soooo good, and we all were having visions of some sort of asian food for lunch. So, after the show (which was lots of fun, plus they gave the kids treat bags and cookies) we headed to Sansei for a late lunch.

And then, after that I headed to the fabric store in search of green satin for new bloomers. One of the moms of another dancer was asking where she could get a new pair of bloomers for her daughter, who needed a bigger pair. So I said I'd make a pair for her while I was at it. The fabric store took FOREVER. Home in time to eat a snack, stick a wig on a kid's head, and go to another show.

The 3rd show ended up starting a half hour late. Thalia and AnnaBeth were absolutely goony with tiredness. AnnaBeth commented that it was a really fun show; I said it was fun because she had stopped caring what happened. I remembered to take my camera, but forgot to take any pictures.

Stopped at Schnucks on the way home for a couple of frozen pizzas.It's after 9pm, we're all tired, the cats are running around outside, the rats are running around the family room, the pizza is baking in the oven.

And tomorrow we get to do it AGAIN!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Things Going on Here: Other Stuff

Approximately 250 boxes of Girl Scout cookies have been delivered. This was pretty much all we did for 2 weekends in a row. I would rant about the local council's position on not collecting money until delivery (which is stupid, and makes the delivery so much tougher), but I don't feel like giving that much energy to thoughts about Scouts right now.

Also, AnnaBeth worked at a cookie booth. She'd never done that before, and was pretty excited about it. They had a great spot -- a popular grocery store on a Friday night during the post-work rush hour. And the weather wasn't too awful, which was nice since it was an outdoor spot (yeah, it was a Dierberg's).

Irish Dance show Friday morning at an elementary school. Small show -- maybe 10 dancers, about half an hour long. During which my cell phone rang -- a friend wanted to go ice-skating. So we zoomed home, dumped off the dancing stuff, grabbed skating stuff and random food stuffs (Girl Scout cookies, corn chips, cheese, crackers) and headed to the ice rink.

Saturday we skipped the parade (but don't tell anyone, okay?) Thalia had been asked to dance on the float, which was quite an honor and she really, really wanted to do it; but the rest of us were mightily opposed to spending the afternoon slogging around downtown for the entertainment of a bunch of drunks (sorry, I don't have a great impression of the crowds at this parade).

We drove to St. Peter's for a show in the early evening -- when we got out of the car the smell of boiled cabbage nearly flattened us, and the place was wicked smoky, but the people were nice, and very appreciative. It was reasonably fun -- well, as much fun as you can have dancing in a room full of boiled cabbage and cigarette smoke. They did River Dance (that's the one in the green skirts), 3-hands, reels, St. Patrick's Day ceili, Lord of the Dance (that's the one in the fluttery multi-colored outfits), jigs, slip jigs, hornpipes, Traditional Sets, treble jig, treble reel (that's the one at the end in the black outfits). Lots of costume changes in a closet behind the "stage" area, plus one of the zippers on a dress had popped so we had to continuously safety pin/unpin that girl in her dress (okay, true confession -- I broke the zipper last week at a show when she was literally stuck in her dress and needed to rip it off quickly for a costume change at the end to switch over to the Treble Reel costume, after which we all forgot about it so it never got repaired).

From there we drove to Ellisville (somehow ended up being the first ones there -- I guess I'm a more aggressive driver than most of the dance crowd -- who knew?) to put on virtually the same show, but with even more people, and the girls could wear their solo dresses for the hard shoe dances. Somehow it didn't occur to me until this weekend how many World Qualifiers (that is, dancers who are qualified to compete in the World Championships in Glasgow during Holy Week) are on Thalia's team. It's really pretty cool, although fairly meaningless outside of the Irish Dance community. Anyway, another fun show; plus the guy who set it up gave each dancer a green carnation as they took their bow, and also handed out pizza to everyone, which was nice considering we'd been running around to dance shows for 5 hours straight at that point (one family hadn't eaten since before the parade -- yikes!). We'd wanted to do this show last year but ended up assigned to the one at the Cathedral (which is also a nice place to dance, but no free pizza and flowers!).

We skipped Sunday's show since we wanted to spend Time Change Sunday being slugs (also skipping rant about stupidity of changing the clocks). I worked on sewing up a Vogue pant pattern V7881, Claire Shaeffer's Custom Couture Collection -- seeing if it could kinda sorta maybe fit decently with some alterations -- it turned out wearable, much to my surprise. I hadn't even bothered to purchase buttons for it, since I thought I wasn't really making pants I'd ever wear. So I took a couple of buttons off of a pair of Docker's Rick was throwing out -- they don't match, but considering the pants are made out of super-cheapo twill and have some fitting problems still to be resolved, they're good enough.

Anyway, that's most of what we've been occupied with. Today we'll go get Fang from either the library or the bookstore (Thalia was hold #4 out of 170 holds, but the library got 100 copies of the book, so not a big deal). Tomorrow we have 3 more dance shows, then more on St. Patrick's Day.

Things Going on Here: School-related Stuff

Okay, we've been too busy lately to post a Weekly Report, so here's a summary of some of the stuff we've been up to school-wise for the past couple of weeks:


Thalia is zooming through the final season of Analytical Grammar, which bears an amazing resemblance to various pages of First Language Lessons -- many pages of plural vs. possessive vs. plural possessive, many pages of capitalization rules. The other evening she was reading one of the Maximum Ride novels (prepatory to the U.S. release of Fang this morning) and was going on and on about the phrase "on the Earth" since the use of "the" made "Earth" a locus and therefor not suitable for capitalization. When I was her age I wouldn't have had a clue -- locus? really? -- although I could've reasoned it out by realizing that you wouldn't say "the Mars" or "the Jupiter". Of course, we often make fun of James Patterson's writing ability, although I sort of put the blame for that particular blooper on his editors.

And AnnaBeth is zipping through First Language Lessons 4, diagramming compound sentences, memorizing "The Lake Isle of Innisfree" (appropriate for St. Patrick's Day, yes?). I think today in Writing with Ease 3 we'll start working on "Jabberwocky". So far she likes WWE3, but we're only 4 weeks into it.

Thalia and I are reading War of the Worlds and discussing. For example, we had checked Transformers out of the library, and it struck me that the beginning was sort of like a modern-day rehash of WotW. Swanky literary commentary, eh? Are you impressed with how clued in to cultural literacy we are here?

Thalia has also started working more diligently on the Jump In writing assignments, thanks to which she realized that Anne of Greene Gables is later referred to as "Anne Blythe" -- not much of a spoiler, but still fun to make the association.


Thalia is working on fractions, and AnnaBeth is working on decimals. Yawn.


Thalia continues Apologia Physical Science in a co-op setting. Last week they stood out in the rain pounding rocks together to see how quickly the sound travelled.

AnnaBeth and I are working on various Junior Girl Scout science badges. I keep meaning to post about these separately, but that would require actually writing blog posts, so who knows when that will happen.


As hinted above, we continue to read Anne of Green Gables at lunch time. AnnaBeth and I read Twenty One Balloons -- Thalia had recently read it, so declined sitting in on the read aloud. And AnnaBeth and I also recently read Mr. Revere and I, excerpts of which were used in WWE3, which piqued my interest in the book.


Zooming through Story of the World 4. We've read about Krakatoa (which is why we were reading Twenty One Balloons), about the war between Chile, Bolivia and Peru (both kids claim no memory of reading Secret of the Andes back when we were doing Sonlight, so we might drag that back out), about the Second Reich, Japan's Meije restoration (and no, reading 43 Naruto books doesn't count as a literary tie-in). And whatever else SOTW4 covers in this time frame -- it's all starting to blur. The other day AnnaBeth was mixing up Bulgaria and Bolivia, which is probably a sign that we're moving through this too quickly.


Mango French and Mango Spanish continue to be popular. Drama classes have honed the kids' ability to tell wild stories with sincerity, which probably isn't a good thing. Piano recital pieces have been assigned.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


More iterations of the "Neat Beat" pants, which was item #17 from Ottobre 6/2009:

AnnaBeth is going to be in a musical theatre production in April, and is supposed to wear black jazz pants. Since I knew without stepping foot in a store that it would be tough to find a pair that fit her (if they're long enough, then they're too big around the waist), I ordered some of the black doubleknit Sophia fabric from Fabric.com, thinking it would be soft enough to be acceptable. I made these up as shown in Ottobre, with the wide front yoke.

And pair number 5 of our "Neat Beat" pants is in khaki, since AnnaBeth is supposed to wear khaki pants as part of the "official" Girl Scout uniform. Also, khaki pants are just a handy thing to have. I got some of the Wrinkle-Ease twill from JoAnn Fabrics -- more expensive than their regular twill, but also much softer (used the ubiquitous 40%-off coupon). I added an extra centimeter to the waist-to-crotch length, and an extra centimeter to the leg length of these. Also, raised the waistband and added side pockets.

And used Hello Kitty for the facings.

I think we are now DONE with this pattern. Soon the weather will be turning warmer (today was over 70F!) and she'll be in capris, shorts, and skirts for the next few months. But I feel pretty good about making 5 items off of one pattern.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

February Books

In February I managed to read books that weren't free downloads on the Kindle.

For one thing, I returned to my favorite type of reading -- non-fiction. And I've decided that I really prefer non-fiction to be in a real book with real pages. Also, to be blunt, sometimes the formatting on the Kindle sucks, and the diagrams accompanying a text end up in really odd places.

I tried the free sample download of Why Don't Students Like School by Dan Willingham, and it was an annoying mess on the Kindle. So I got the actual hardback, and discovered true love ... which you already know if you've been around me in real life this past month, since I've probably been waving it in your face and gushing about it like a televangelist, even quoting passages as though they're scripture. Really, I can't distill my enthusiasm into a few sentences. So let's just say I LIKE THIS BOOK. And maybe you should read it, too.

Then, while reading the 180 Degree Health blog (one of my favorite blogs), I noticed a list of books down the sidebar. Scrolling through, I discovered that Dr. Schwarzbein has written a new book, entitled The Schwarzbein Principle II. I'd read The Schwarzbein Principle a couple of years ago (got it from the library, and later put it on my Paperbackswap.com list). So I was eager to read this new, improved version. Fascinating stuff. Although I didn't actually read every word of the book (there are lots of books I browse through -- particularly gardening books like Gayla Trail's Grow Great Grub, or the piles of cookbooks I get from the library -- nice books, but I don't actually READ them). I disagree with some of what Schwarzbein says, but the vast majority of it is sensible.

Reading 2 non-fiction books was enough for my brain to absorb for the month, so I filled in the rest of the time with fiction. On the Kindle.

First up, I downloaded Tiger's Curse for 99 cents. What a fun book! Okay, at times the writing is clunky, and she could've benefitted from a good editing (do we really need an essay on the history of aviation plopped in the middle of a conversation?). But I kept reading through the less well-written bits simply because I wanted to see where the book was headed. I sort of want to read the next book, except that I'm concerned that a) I won't like it as well because the male leads are spending more time as men than as tigers, and the whole thing could slip into a sappy mess (a la Twilight) because of that, and b) the 3rd book isn't written yet, so if I do enjoy book 2 I'll have to wait until who-knows-when to see how things turn out.

Next, a free download, Off the Record by Elizabeth White. Christian romance. Really dippy. If I'd seen this book in the library I wouldn't have checked it out; if I'd seen this book in a "free book" bin I wouldn't have picked it up. So why did I download it and waste my time reading it? I guess because I kept thinking that it would get better, and I couldn't fan through the pages to see where it was heading. I have no problem throwing out crummy paperbacks partially unread; I need to learn to delete crummy downloads without wasting more time finishing them.

Another free download was The Almost True Story of Ryan Fisher by Rob Stennett. The book is Christian satire. Sometimes it struck me as absolutely hilarious, sometimes as downright creepy. The writing seemed choppy at times, although that might have been a function of the formatting on the Kindle -- I had the impression that some parts would've read better if there had been more white space on the page, or the elements had somehow been arranged differently. In any event, I loved the premise -- a non-Christian decides to be "Christian" simply in order to make money off of Christians (I've met those people before, notably that plumber with the flashy cross and the flashy ichthus on his paperwork who turned out to be as incompetent and creepy as I thought he would basis those very symbols). If you read it, expect to see passages along the lines of:

"But she decided to push those feelings away, she decided to side with Jesus and forget about her past mistakes even though siding with Jesus probably wasn't the Christian thing to do," and

"...in his den he had a large collection of unwrapped Star Wars action figures organized alphabetically by home planet," and

"'But I'm what Christians need. I'm their new voice. And I can think so much more clearly than other pastors. I can be articulate and politically correct because I'm not encumbered by things like the Bible and Jesus.' "

And, finally, I just finished my free download of My Name is Russell Fink by Michael Snyder, which is apparently "Lad Lit" (I didn't know this was a genre). Very quirky, very well-written. I laughed, I cried, I was a little peeved that it ended when it did, although I understand why it did. I didn't mark any favorite passages because I was too busy reading. Overall, the best fiction I've read in a long time.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Weekend

-- A slumber party after the Percy Jackson movie.

-- AnnaBeth sorted her Girl Scout cookies so they're ready for delivery. Thalia's weren't ready for us to pick up and start sorting until later on Sunday. Or else they're still not ready because they involve a run to the Cookie Pantry (the rules this year said you couldn't round up your order, so the cookie mom had to round down all the boxes and make up for it via the Pantry -- drove the cookie mom nuts, and was generally an annoying way to set things up).

-- Spent all day Saturday shopping for toilets.

-- Except for the part where Thalia went to her final archery class. Not a great shoot. But she'll be back next year.

-- Spent Sunday installing toilet

so we finally have a working bathroom after however many weeks it's been since the bathroom-remodel-guy decided he didn't want to do it (oh, if only he'd realized he didn't want to do this bathroom BEFORE he ripped it all out ...). Also, put the old pedestal sink back in, even though we don't particularly like it. But it works, so until we find something else we'll use it.

-- Also spent part of Sunday afternoon delivering AnnaBeth's Girl Scout cookies -- at least, the ones that aren't shared orders with Thalia. Because getting Thalia's order late really gums up AnnaBeth's.

-- AnnaBeth started working on the God and Family award for Scouts. One of her friends is doing it, and the mom said she'd lead it if the girls wanted to do it.

-- Watched some of the Olympic closing. I didn't finish my knitting be the end of the Olympics, or by the end of February. Somehow the toilet situation seemed more of a priority than completing a knitting project. Thus we once again see that I'm not such a rabid knitting fan as those who are more recent converts.

-- DIscovered Dan BLogs Twilight late last night, thus ruining any chance of finishing the knitting after the toilet was installed but before the stroke of midnight. Absolutely addicting.