Sunday, February 26, 2012

A to Z Challenge for April 2012

Click here to be taken to the official site
Ok, so I love that the more I blog and blog surf and tweet and FB, the more I meet people and those people show me so many wonderful post and challenges.

A challenge I found today via Twitter or perhaps Facebook...was this lovely A to Z (is it weird that I'm American and I automatically think 'zed' for Z?) Challenge for April 2012.

From The A to Z blog:

The brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenges to post the letter of the alphabet every day during the month of April, with Sundays off for good behavior. Since April 1 falls on a Sunday, that will be the day we start with A. Whether you go with a theme or freestyle, your post must match the letter of the alphabet for that day. Add your name to the list, grab the badge in the right sidebar, and when the Challenge begins, start by visiting the blog immediately after your own. Set a goal – we recommend five blogs a day, more if you are able.


I look forward to challenging myself to write 26 blog post for the month of April. I don't know what I'll be writing about (will it be a theme? will it be a certain genre?) but I know it will be fun!

I'm #743

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Six Word Saturday #35

My life in six words
Great way to spend Winter Days




The CENTRE offers something for the entire family. In designing the Aquatic Center, the goal was to provide quality, family-oriented, leisure opportunities that promote a healthy lifestyle and encourage intergenerational participation. The 14,000 square foot Natatorium is a multi-purpose facility everyone can enjoy with features such as:
  • Zero-depth, beach-like entry
  • Interactive play features
  • A vortex and lazy river
  • Four 25-yard lap lanes
  • 150 ft. water slide with splashdown pool
  • Warm water therapy pool
Lifeguard staff is certified by the American Red Cross. Each staff member has received extensive training in Water Rescues, First Aid, Rescue Breathing, CPR, Automated External Defibrillator, Oxygen Administration and Blood Borne Pathogens. The high standard is maintained by a contract with the American Red Cross for unannounced lifeguard audits to ensure staff is meeting the stringent requirements of maintaining certification.
________________________________

We're leaving in about 5 hours, gotta go find the swimsuits and the Beach towels.

How do you get away from the Winter blahs? (granted where I live we haven't had much of a Winter...just two lame snow days!)



Want to play along? All that's necessary to participate is to describe your life (or something) in a phrase using just six words. For more information, try clicking here. Feel free to explain or not explain. Add an image, a video, a song, nothing. The full list and linky can be found here. And, here's where I found it.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Six Word Saturday #34

My life in six words
Would've been here sooner, but I...





Want to play along? All that's necessary to participate is to describe your life (or something) in a phrase using just six words. For more information, try clicking here. Feel free to explain or not explain. Add an image, a video, a song, nothing. The full list and linky can be found here. And, here's where I found it.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day after a snow day is R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.

First, we made Valentine's Day cards for Lila's preschool class by taking lots of pictures with a PVC pipe!

The big one is the one we chose for the project,
although I like several of the others.
Can you tell she enjoyed wielding the PVC pipe around like a little Jedi?
I then spent a couple of minutes finding a way to cut-out the picture, I found directions here and then spent the next hour cutting it out using MS Paint. Yes, Paint! Who knew!? I love that you don't have to use Photoshop to do that. Here is the end result.



I love this! And, Chris does too!
Expect one in the mail all you relatives! 
Lila helped me make the Devils on Horseback...


Prunes wrapped in bacon...
who knew they  would be so tasty?
Here's the little helper putting toothpicks in a bowl of water to soak.
And, here's the little Devils, so no pics of the finished product...I don't know why I forgot to do that!
Then we decorated her Valentine's Day Box!




And, finally...
VDay poetry love from The Guardian
Perfect Couple movies

Golly, WOW! What a productive snow day!!!

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!!!

Monday, February 13, 2012

55 Books in a Year: Book #8 The Fox

The only DH Lawrence I ever read before tackling this book was "The Rocking-horse Winner", an odd little story about love that borders on the Oedipal and luck that borders on insanity. While I could write a paper about it, I'm still not sure I get it. When I tell people that they just say, "That's Lawrence for you."


When I started The Fox I had "The Rocking-horse Winner" in mind, however, I wasn't really ready for the whole story and these plot synopses gave no indication as to what I was getting into.


Here's the breakdown from Wikipedia:
The Fox is a novella by D. H. Lawrence published in 1923. Set in Berkshire, England during World War I, The Fox, like many of D. H. Lawrence’s other major works, treats the psychological relationships of three protagonists in a triangle of love and hatred. Without the help of any male laborers, Nellie March and Jill Banford struggle to maintain a marginal livelihood at the Bailey Farm. A fox has raged through the poultry, and although the women—particularly the more masculine Nellie—have tried to shoot the intruder, he seems always to elude traps or gunshot.
and Goodreads:
The Fox (1923) is a short novella by D.H. Lawrence that is set in the Berkshire district of England in 1918, just after the First World War. Two women, Branford and March, both in their thirties and unmarried, live together on an isolated farm. One day, like a fox, a man enters their farm and lives. Lawrence uses the fox as a symbol of masculinity and through it explores male sexuality.
The Fox is down right sexy. I hear from those of you that know Lawrence that in his misogyny he can be pretty sexual. I read about March and Banford and thought, "Well, are they? Aren't they? Will they?" I was drawn to March and her battle with the fox in the hen house. And, then I was drawn to the fox, in the form of Henry, in the hen house. Every description left him more attractive than the next. Every description of March, though his eyes, makes her more beautiful and, dare I say, more feminine. The more the narrator refers to her trousers and her eyes and her neck and her boots and her legs in a dress, the more Banford shrinks and became a tiny, shriveled screw. The more the reader sees March as sexy too. Even the barren farm with its chickens and lack of cow seems inviting and sensual.


And, the whole entire triangle is reminiscent of the triangle in Ethan Frome and I can't decide which character I feel more sympathy towards. Heck, I can't tell if the women are supposed to be lovers supplanted by the boy, I can't tell if things had ended differently if March would have felt differently, I can't tell if March loves the boy, I can't tell if the boy really loves March and while there isn't out and out sex, there's this neck kiss that left me a little breathless and there's this confrontation between Banford, March and Henry that was just one step shy of a full sex encounter, although no one took off their clothes and everyone was very angry. In the end I can't tell if Henry is still the fox or if March is still the strong one. I can't tell if this book is pro love, or anti-feminist.


But, hey, that's Lawrence for you.


4 Stars   
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I was entranced by this book and the story and Lawrence's writing style, but when it ended and I caught my breath I felt a little let-down, I'm not really sure by what.


You can read the whole novella here.


Read the novella and feeling frustrated? Check out these lovely reviews.
The Reading Life
Tony Crisp

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Whitney


It's really hard to write about someone you didn't know at all, but whose death has affected you. I feel that way about Whitney Houston (heck, I feel that way about Heath Ledger and Michael Jackson and Jonathan Brandis, but I didn't have a blog during those times, so I was left to my own resources of catharsis).

Whitney Houston was the first woman that my sister's and I emulated. "I Wanna Dance (With Somebody)" was the first 45rpm record that I bought with my own money (she won out against Debbie Gibson's "Out of the Blue"). We would sing all of the songs from Whitney, belting out "The Greatest Love of All", really off-key while jumping, not to hard because we didn't want the record to skip, on the bed, using hairbrushes as microphones, taking turns being the background, Solid Gold-like, dancers and the lead.

I'm sure that I am not the only woman of color who found, in Whitney Houston, a powerful role-model, in my tiny home town there seemed to be so few that I could have direct access to and I recognized in Whitney Houston strength and power.

I gotta tell you that I watched "The Bodyguard", just as much for her as Kevin Costner and, sorry Kevin, the soundtrack became a background to the last couple of years of my high school career, and it is the soundtrack that I took with me to college and it is the soundtrack that I still listen to over and over and over. 

For the record, I never saw the realty show that really made her kind of a household joke and I never saw her in concert. So, the memories I have of her are from the 80s and 90s through the lenses of my teen and pre-teen brain...I kind of like it that way.

I miss the person she was and the person she had the potential to become, as we all have room to change and grow.

I am sorry that she had whatever demons she had.

To me it doesn't matter the cause of death (of course, it's sadder when it is at their own hand or because of their own addictions), I am sorry that another one of my childhood heroes is gone. 

My heart goes out to her family and friends.

AMA's 2009


Saturday, February 11, 2012

Six Word Saturday #33

My life in six words
Please bring on the retro appetizers!

Devils On Horseback... put oyster's in the middle, they're
Angels On Horseback, I'd do that,
but we aren't that kind of group.

I'm one of the people in charge of bringing appetizers for our all day professional development day. I'm going retro and leaning towards Devils on Horseback, but I also found several other good ideas...



What do you think? Which one should I bring?




Want to play along? All that's necessary to participate is to describe your life (or something) in a phrase using just six words. For more information, try clicking here. Feel free to explain or not explain. Add an image, a video, a song, nothing. The full list and linky can be found here. And, here's where I found it.

Friday, February 10, 2012

55 Books in a Year: Book #7 Mary Poppins

"Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down" and Mary Poppins by PL Travers is a delightful spoonful of sugar in movie and in book form.

When I say things like what I'm about say I feel like I spent my childhood in a dark cavern, but I'm going to say it anyway. I did not read this book as a little kid, this book was never read to me, I did not even know this book was a series until I decided to download it to read on my Nook.

This book is just as delightful and enchanting as the movie (without the singing, of course). However, it is a bit different. There's a chapter where Michael wakes up on the wrong side of the bed and is given a compass which Poppins and the children use to visit every corner of the Earth. My favorite chapter that I didn't already know the story to involves the littlest Banks children (they are twins John and Barbara), they talk to Poppins, each other and the bird that lives outside their window and refuse to acknowledge that when they turn one not only will they not be able to talk to the bird and others anymore, but they will also forget they ever could. It is an excellent example of the bittersweetness of growing up.

I can't wait to read this book to Lila Jane, we've already seen the movie.

I have found out that if I want to read about all the things in the movie that I must read all of the books. There are eight and they are titled:

from Wikipedia

Mary Poppins, published 1934

The first book introduces the Banks family, consisting of Mr. Banks and Mrs. Banks and their children Jane, Michael, and baby twins John and Barbara. When the children's nanny, Katie Nana, storms out in a huff, Mary Poppins arrives at their home, complete with her traveling carpetbag, blown in by a very strong wind. She accepts the job, and the children soon learn that their nanny, though she is stern, vain, and usually cross, has a magical touch that makes her wonderful. 

Mary Poppins Comes Back, published 1935

Nothing has been right since Mary Poppins left Number Seventeen Cherry Tree Lane. One day, when Mrs. Banks sends the children out to the park, Michael flies his kite up into the clouds. Everyone is surprised when it comes down bringing Mary Poppins as a passenger, who returns to the Banks home and takes charge of the children once again. 

Mary Poppins Opens the Door, published 1943

When Mary last left the Banks children in Cherry Tree Lane, she took a "return ticket, just in case." In the third book, she returns to the park in front of Cherry Tree Lane the way she came, falling with fireworks. Once again she takes up nanny duties in the Banks household and leads Jane, Michael, John, and Barbara on various adventures. 

Mary Poppins in the Park, published 1952

This fourth book contains six adventures of the Banks children with Mary Poppins during their outings into the park along Cherry Tree Lane. Chronologically the events in this book occurred during the second or third book (Mary Poppins Comes Back and Mary Poppins Opens the Door respectively). 

Mary Poppins From A to Z, published 1962

Twenty-six vignettes — one for each letter of the alphabet — weave unexpected tales of Mary Poppins, the Banks children, and other characters from Travers's previous novels. Each vignette is filled with fun and unusual words that start with the featured letter.

Mary Poppins in the Kitchen, published 1975

Mary Poppins comes to the rescue when the Banks' family cook has to go on an unexpected leave, teaching the young Banks children the basics of cooking in the process. The book includes recipes.

Mary Poppins in Cherry Tree Lane, published 1982

Mary Poppins takes the Banks children on yet another memorable adventure, this time on the magical Midsummer's Eve. 

Mary Poppins and the House Next Door, published 1988

The residents of Cherry Tree Lane are distressed to learn that their beloved Number Eighteen, an empty house for which each tenant has created an imaginary, wished-for tenant, is about to be occupied by Mr. Banks's childhood governess, Miss Andrew — otherwise known as the Holy Terror. Her dreaded arrival brings a pleasant surprise as well, for Luti, a boy from the South Seas, has accompanied her as both servant and student. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

55 Books in a Year: Book #6 Between the Land and the Sea

Through Twitter and the lovely Anna Banks (who's book I can't wait to read) I found MerBooks: The Group For All Things Mermaid.

Information about the Group
In this group you can talk about all things Mermaid! We'll also keep the group updated on new Merbooks coming out!
Twitter handle
@SeaOfMerBooks
The Blog
The MerBlog: The Blog For All Things Mermaid
What I've learned?

  • I'm definitely behind in the mermaid book reading thing...where have I been? I now have a list about a mile long.
  • There are grown-ups who are as obsessed about mermaids as I am.
  • I can easily find 10 mermaid books to read this year.
  • If you buy a book on Smashwords the author gets more profits than if you buy it somewhere else.
  • Authors don't really need agents or money to sell books anymore.


I started my MerChallenge with The Little Mermaid and quickly followed up with Derrolyn Anderson's book Between the Land and the Sea, as she is giving it away to group members who email her.

This book is adorable and delightful. Marina doesn't know she's from the sea as her mother died giving birth to her and her father just doesn't talk about it. They live in the city where her neighbor lavishes her with designer clothes and hand bags and fancy cars, and, kind of like a wealthy benefactor from an Austen novel, is always there when Marina needs to dress or drive to impress. While her scientist father spends a year in Afghanstian, she is sent to live with her eccentric tofu eating aunt and her goth designer son. As Marina learns about herself and her past, she helps those around her find their true selves. This is especially true of her relationship with her cousin Cruz and his friend Megan. Through Marina they both learn that outside their small town they are normal and wonderful.

I enjoyed that this book is set in a real town (that I would love to visit someday), you can see pictures on Anderson's official blog.

I also enjoy how Anderson writes a story where the main issue isn't the fact that Marina is part mermaid, but the fact that she was never told. I also like that her relationship with Ethan, a delicious blonde surfer boy, is forged through the water and a mutual secret.

This book has a cliffhanger and happy ending at the same time with everyone wrapped up in self assurance and coupledom.

You know come to think of it, if Jane Austen were a modern woman who wrote about mermaids (fun to think about right!?) I bet she would have written a book like this one, or at least she would have been inspired by it.

I look forward to reading the rest. I hope there are only four.

4 Stars   
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There are a handful of issues that bug me (for instance, Marina's father, who is not existent throughout the book, wins the Nobel Prize and I'm supposed to care and how many times can we have hospital stays, really), but they do not, in any way, harm the story.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Modern Bildungsroman

[Source]
Several months ago a post on Goodreads got me to thinking. It was a simple enough post. The person was asking for a list of coming of age books for boys. I mentioned A Separate Peace as I loved that book as a teenager, I love it still and we teach it to our Sophomores. Sure it's a Classic, but it's a good Classic, one that I can get into and I can get the kids into. I mean really who doesn't have a best friend who they are also jealous of? Who hasn't wanted physical harm to come to someone, but regretted it when it actually does? Who hasn't realized, at least once, that they're the bad guy and they deserve to lose? This book is also set during war with main characters that are too young to fight, but who really want to, with main characters who see their friends going of to war and realize that maybe war isn't really all it's cracked up to be. This was especially poignant in 2002 and is still poignant if I have a student whose older brother or sister or friend has been or is in Iraq or Afghanistan. They get it.

Anyway, so I mentioned A Separate Peace and someone replied that kids don't read that anymore, they find it boring and can't relate. I wanted to know why students could no longer relate, I mean I was/am teaching it to students and they seem to be interested enough (seriously, I find that anything that's assigned will not agree with everyone, but if I can get one kid in my class to hop on the band-wagon, several others follow). I began to wonder what modern coming of age novel appealed to teens today. To be clear, on my search for these books I didn't want trendy books, I wanted genuine Bildungsroman novels that for some reason or another would stand the test of time, and sure, that's going to be slightly subjective. I also feel that no matter what age of a teen book, if you can find the hook, it can relate to any teen. The themes found in any Bildungroman are universal to the teen experience.

At first, I found this article from NPR that seemed to play into what the Goodreads post was saying. Sure, for those of you who don't want to click to read it, The Catcher in the Rye is still be assigned and still on banned book lists, but really it seems to be out of touch with young people today. This article at least points out that Holden Caulfield may not relate to teens today because the majority of teens are not WASP-y (my words not theirs), and those that weren't when the book came out didn't really have a voice to say otherwise.

Nowadays there are tons of voices (GLBT, white, black, Hispanic, Asian, Christian, Muslim, inner-city, male, female, tween, rural and I could go on and on and on) and I'm sure each of these voices have different ideas of what might classify as a coming of age novel for the modern teen.

Major traits of a Bildungsroman or Coming of Age Novel (for this I'm using the word interchangeably)

  1. "focuses on the psychological and moral growth of the protagonist from youth to adulthood and in which character change is thus extremely important"*
  2. the protagonist is looking for answers and experience 
  3. a journey to maturity through a major event in the character's life
  4. because the above books were both written in the 50s and I'm looking for books for modern teens written, all of the books below were written after the 1950s. I suppose that makes them post-modern, but anyway...
25 Modern Bildungsroman (alphabetized by authors last name)
  1. Alexie, Sherman The Absolute True Diary of a Part-time Indian
  2. Andersen, Laura Halse Speak
  3. Blume, Judy Forever
  4. Brashares, Ann Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (Books 1)
  5. Chbosky, Stephen The Perks of Being A Wallflower
  6. Childress, Alice A Hero Ain't Nothin But A Sandwich
  7. Cisneros, Sandra The House on Mango Street
  8. Crutcher, Chris Chinese Handcuffs
  9. Danizger, Paula The Cat Ate My Gymsuit
  10. Diaz, Juno Drown
  11. Eugenides, Jeffrey The Virgin Suicides
  12. Gough, Julian Juno and Juliet
  13. Green, John An Abundance of Katherines
  14. Guest, Judith Ordinary People
  15. Haddon, Mark The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime
  16. Murakami, Haruki Norwegian Wood
  17. Myracle, Lauren Kissing Kate
  18. Hinton, SE The Outsiders
  19. Ockler, Sarah Twenty Boy Summer
  20. Picoult, Jodi My Sister's Keeper
  21. Potok, Chaim Chosen
  22. Sebold, Alice The Lovely Bones
  23. Vizzini, Ned It's Kind of a Funny Story
  24. Woodson, Jacqueline The House You Pass on the Way
  25. Zindel, Paul The Amazing and Death-Defying of Eugene Dingman


My knee jerk votes can be found here.





Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Time to Say Good-bye...

So, there are/were three books that I started in 2011...three books that keep on staring at me every time I open up my Goodreads account...three books that I'm not going to try to finish...three books that I'm letting go.

They are *sad bugle notes, please*



The Mists of Avalon
Amount read: 94%...no, don't ask, I can't make myself finish it, I've tried...
Why I wanted to read this book to begin with?
I enjoy a good piece of feminist literature and I read an essay about this book that intrigued me, so when they needed a moderator for it. I volunteered. Nothing motivates you like others.

Why I'm not going to finish this book?
I didn't finish this book in 2011 and don't plan on doing so in 2012. I probably wouldn't have read as much as I did had I not been moderating it for a book group I am in. I love the premise, I love the first 150ish pages and then...well, it felt more like an anti-religious, feminist agenda than a retelling of the Arthurian legend; a legend I love deeply by the way. And, maybe that's the problem, I didn't realize I loved the story as much as I do until reading a book that turns it on it's head. I do like books about female power and don't mind anti-religious feeling and thought, I just don't like it disguised in a work of fiction...oh, unless it's by Ayn Rand than sign me up!

Home
Amount read: 50%
Why I wanted to read this book to begin with?
Marilynne Robinson's prose is so beautiful and the story really is compelling. The torment that each of the main characters feel I felt as I was reading. It was really quite draining and made me sad as Jack (I believe his name is Jack, I'm not going to look it up to find out) reminds me so much of my prodigal uncle it's weird. I like how the sisters' faith is tested and she knows that the love she feels for her brother is right, and he has is own demons. I also enjoy the minister father and his unconditional love for his children.

Why I'm not going to finish this book?
It's a sequel. I didn't know. And, while I have read that each book can stand alone, I can tell you that I've felt at a disadvantage through-out this book and couldn't figure out why. I felt that everyone knew the secret and since I was new to town I wasn't let in on it. I got that he had a child, I got that he had a girl that left him or he left behind...I didn't get all the secrets until I found out about and read details about the other book.

The Scarecrow of Oz
Amount read: 9%
Why I wanted to read this book to begin with?
It's on The Gilmore Girls reading challenge. I thought it would be fun to read. I've read the books before this one and figured I'd remember enough to read this.

Why I'm not going to finish this book?
OK, this one I may finish someday, but I think I need to reread the ones that come before it...maybe I'll have a summer of L. Frank Baum.

There! I feel so much lighter!


Let it out...what books have you put down recently?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Superbowl XLVI with the Ladies!

For the record the game was on. I know that the Giants won. I loved the Clint Eastwood commerical as I am a sucker for good All-American sentiment, I did not love any of the GoDaddy.com commericals...just felt dirty afterwards.

However, here's what I really did Superbowl 2012.

Bought the ingredients for some Bittersweet inspired cupcakes.  The recipe is from the beginning of Chapter 16
Lights, Camera, Cupcakes. I switched out chocolate coca-cola cupcakes for yellow made with Mtn. Dew instead of water and chocolate frosting...semi-homemade like Sandra Lee and I like it. Below is what they looked like afterwards...popcorn and peanuts and M&Ms and Raisinets, OH MY!

My besties came over (Chris left to watch the game with the guys) and we had enough dips to feed an Army. The recipes for all three dips can be found here; the other two are from Wallie World. We also had Guac with extra cilantro, Gushers (for the kiddo), and a meat and cheese tray. Yes, that was enough food to feed the four of us ladies, the kidlet and that army from 300.
We graded, read books, sorta watched the game (I think we saw all the major catches and that strange touchdown at the end), watched Madonna and Matthew Broderick (boy, I'm getting old), you know all the important parts were not missed. Lila Jane helped clean up afterwards (yes, she was still awake, frankly, she was still awake 2 hours after the Superbowl...maybe it was all those Gushers and cupcakes and cookies and dip).
BEST SUPERBOWL EVER!!! 
Hope we do it again next year, ladies!!!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Six Word Saturday #32

My life in six words
Who's a WBN giver? It's Me!


About World Book Night (WBN)

What is World Book Night?

World Book Night is an annual celebration designed to spread a love of reading and books. To be held in the U.S. as well as the U.K. and Ireland on April 23, 2012. It will see tens of thousands of people go out into their communities to spread the joy and love of reading by giving out free World Book Night paperbacks.
World Book Night, through social media and traditional publicity, will also promote the value of reading, of printed books, and of bookstores and libraries to everyone year-round.
Successfully launched in the U.K. in 2011, World Book Night will also be celebrated in the U.S. in 2012, with news of more countries to come in future years. Please join our mailing list for regular World Book Night U.S. news. And thank you to our U.K. friends for such a wonderful idea!
Additionally, April 23 is UNESCO’s World Book Day, chosen due to the anniversary of Cervantes’ death, as well as Shakespeare’s birth and death.

If this sounds interesting or you want to learn more go here for US, here for UK and Ireland

I'm soooo excited!!!




Want to play along? All that's necessary to participate is to describe your life (or something) in a phrase using just six words. For more information, try clicking here. Feel free to explain or not explain. Add an image, a video, a song, nothing. The full list and linky can be found here. And, here's where I found it.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend!

"Oh, thanks ever so."
I love diamonds. Those of you that know me are either shaking your head in furious affirmation or you've got your head cocked to one side thinking, "Hmm...she doesn't seem like the diamond type as she will wear the same pair of jeans all week without washing them and will eat food that's been sitting out for hours like she's a college student, I've seen her do it!" I suppose stereotypically I'm really not the diamond type. To that I would say that there really shouldn't be a type...everyone should love diamonds. I don't think this makes me, or anyone who feels this way, shallow.

I realized that I loved diamonds when I was a little kid. I would say it started with those fake jewelry pieces that you could get in plastic from Wal-Mart. My favorite set came from like my 4th birthday party...it had a red wallet with a diamond clasp, a bracelet, earrings and a lovely ring. I had that set for years. The bracelet was my favorite part. I loved the weight of it on my wrist and the way it sparkled when I would hold it underneath the lamplight. My love of this gem progressed further after watching Marilyn Monroe, as a 10 year old I remember thinking that she, with her curvy body and sensual grace, was the most exquisite of all human beings. Her characters aren't flawless, they dress to kill and they, especially to my younger self, are independent and feminine. My favorite combination in any female. She makes women in the limelight nowadays look cheap or like little girls...don't believe me, just put her next to the likes of Kim K., Kiera Knightly and Natalie Portman. Why do people think Angelina Jolie is so amazing? It's because she exudes all the awesomeness of Marilyn.

"The Sparkling Diamond" ~ Moulin Rouge! [Source]
Here's how I picture the two extremes of the 'diamond lover'...either you're a Lady Beekman or you're a Lorelei Lee. If you don't know who these people are go watch Gentlemen Prefer Blondes...then come back...I'll wait.

Lady Beekman
Rich enough to buy all the diamonds that you see/want/need. The Lady Beekman types are covered in diamonds even when they are wearing jeans and gardening (I have an actual story about a woman who lost her diamond tennis bracelet while gardening).
Positives: sparkles...literally, knows her diamonds inside and out, generous to a point.
Not So Positives: May actually be wearing conflict diamonds...may not care that they are conflict diamonds, will take that diamond tiara right off your head, even if she knows that her husband gave it to you.

Lorelei Lee
Yearn for diamonds, but can't afford them on her own.
Positives: sweet and cheerful, how could she not be when there are so many diamonds in the world, the life of the party...if you are friend to or married to or dating a Lorelei there is NEVER a dull moment.
Negatives: May marry for money first, love second...is blinded by the sparkle.

And, where do I see myself...as a Lorelei Beekman; somewhere in the middle of course.

Lorelei Beekman
Has diamonds, ask for diamonds on special occasions, loves diamonds...will wait years to get the one she wants.
Positives: researches her diamonds before she buys them, doesn't wear her diamonds around (you will never see me gardening in my diamond tennis bracelet), understands that diamonds are more than just the sparkle. They are commitment (normal people have to save to buy diamonds) which means you should think about who you are giving them to and why you are doing that, and they symbolized solidarity (diamonds can cut glass) and trust; a diamond on your finger says that you trust that the person who gave it to you is yours forever.
Negatives: Knows just enough about diamonds to be deadly...just ask Chris to tell you all about looking for an engagement ring.

Of the 4Cs (clarity, cut, color and carat) I'm all about the cut. The proper cut can hide the biggest flaw and can give the most sparkle. Favorite cut; princess. Favorite diamonds, please look below...


And, frankly, it's the stories of the above diamonds that interest me far more than their beauty. Feel free to look them up...the most interesting...The Hope Diamond.

The stories in a nutshell...
The Hope Diamond
Those that have owned it have been cursed and died horrible deaths having been thrown from cliffs or eaten by wild dogs or killed by their own hand, usually with a knife.

Tiffany's Bird On A Rock
A 287 karat yellow diamond that was studied a year before it was cut down to a little under 150 karats. It has 90 facets and was worn by Audrey Hepburn.

Great Star of Africa
Part of the Sceptre with the Cross, which holds all the British crowned jewels.
Why all this talk about diamonds?
It all started on our one and only (so far) snow day and we were at the truck stop. We'd already spent a couple of hours eating breakfast and rehashing snow days of old and, as usually happens when there's a large amount of girls and only one boy, we began talking about girlie things. Cat fights and clothes gave way to Bath and Body Works lotion (another topic I can talk about for hours) which always leads to diamonds. The only guy said, "I don't understand the big deal about diamonds." And, here we are...

How does my love of diamonds play into my everyday life?
I suppose my attitude about diamonds plays into my every day life in the sense that I don't really settle for less than what I know to be perfect, exemplary and perfectly shiny. Everything in my life sparkles.

So, I ask, do you have a love of diamonds or something similar? What's the history of your glittery love?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

55 Books in a Year: Book #5 Paranormalcy


Mermaids and werewolves and vampires and faeries and hags and shape-shifters and waterspirits, if you can name a paranormal, I'm sure they are at least mentioned in Paranormalcy by Kiersten White.

This book rocked my socks off! It's soooo very awesome! It's so awesome, in fact, that I'm sorry it took me two years to read it, so awesome in fact that I'm sorry I don't have the second book right now!

This is one of those cool books that on the surface seems like a cute romp into paranormal land, but is actually a commentary on discrimination, service and relationships.

Evie is seriously that perfect female heroine that I've been looking for when I read teen SF books. She's so girly (pink and animal print are incorporated into everything she wears), but she can also kick major butt using her pink rhinestone encrusted taser, nicknamed Tasy, of course. She falls for a shape-shifter and has doubts, but not the whiny (sorry, I'm about to compare her to two teen girls who annoy the dickens out of me) "I can't live without you" doubts of Bella Swan or "the too tough too touch me blocked-headedness" of Katniss Everdeen. Evie is the rock-star of these girls.

While the plot of this book is not new, the approach is. And, don't let the cover fool you, this book isn't at all fluffy and girly (unless you want to count Evie's pink heeled boots). In the world of Paranormalcy there are humans who know that paranormals exist these humans have taken it upon themselves to defend the world against these creatures and have created an agency to do this. Evie is part of this agency. After she meets a shape-shifting teenage boy, much like herself, she begins to wonder where she fits into the whole thing. Is she trapped? Is she a pawn? Is she an asset? And, most importantly, what does she want?

This book is told with enough humor and seriousness that I found myself laughing seconds after a sad event and I found myself sharing bits of this book to my student in the hallways and at lunch.

It's another one of those books that makes me wish I could have read it when I was 14 and it's another one of those books that I can't wait for my daughter to find.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Book Winner Announced!!!

Kasey wants...


Congratulations Kasey!!! Thanks for playing everyone!!!

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