Friday, February 27, 2015

Book Review #11

I haven't read a whole book for awhile.  We were so busy over vacation that I didn't have a chance to read like I thought I would.

BUT - I finally finished book number 11 on my list.

This book was called Creed.

It was on my category:  "Book that Scares You"

I don't read many scary books, so I reached out to my friends to see what they recommended.  I got a huge list of books to pick from (and added quite a few to my reading list for after the challenge) but decided to go with Creed.  It sounded creepy, and - I admit - it was a bit shorter than a lot of the others.

The story was of three teenagers who were on their way to a concert in NYC and ran out of gas.  They come across a creepy town to get gas and find no one available in the town.  Everything goes downhill after that - crazy people, blood, know - your typical scary story. really wasn't.  I wanted to like it.  I kept waiting for it to get "I need to put this book in the freezer" scary, but it never did.  It was actually kind of dumb.  I found myself rolling my eyes several times at the silliness of it all.  I was disappointed because I was looking forward to reading it.  It did sound good.

Ah well.  It happens.  Was it creepy?  Sure.  But not in the way I was expecting.  It was more crazy than creepy.

I give it 2 1/2 stars.  And that is probably being generous.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Winter Break Fun

We tried to do a few fun things during the week at Pennsylvania.  It proved to be a little difficult because we brought the bad weather with us from Boston.  We had cold temperatures, and snow, but we still squeezed in some fun.

On Monday we went to the Natural History Museum in Pittsburgh.  We had never taken the kids there before, so I am glad we went.  They LOVED it.  We were able to meet my sister in law, Tricia, and my nephews and that added to the fun.

We spent the whole afternoon there, and then went to dinner all together before heading home for the evening.

Here are a few pictures:

Finley in front of her favorite dinosaur:
 Grammy and Papa with their granchildren:
 Arlington in front of her favorite dinosaur:
 Cainan in front of his favorite dinosaur:
 My nephew, Jack, digging for bones:
 Finley helping Jack:
 Cainan and Ethan digging:

Tuesday we went to the Connellsville High School because the Junior ROTC club had been raising money for Finley and our foundation.  Since Christmas these kids have raised $360.  Amazing!  We were so excited to get to meet some of them, introduce them to Finley and talk to them about Finley's condition and our foundation's mission.  It is always great to see young kids getting involved with a cause.  They were passionate and determined, and they are going to be AMAZING adults.  I am so glad we got to meet them.

Tuesday night my mom and I went to a Penguins Hockey game.  My parents have season tickets and I love getting to see a game or two a year.  They lost, but we had a great time, so it didn't matter.

Wednesday we did our annual shopping trip to get our winter clothes for next year.  BEST time of the year to do it.  SO cheap.  Love it.  Arlington, my mom and I went and my dad took Finley and Cainan to see Sponge Bob and to Chuck E Cheese.  He earns the Papa of the year for that.

Thursday we went to an indoor Trampoline park with the kids.  They had a really great time and I am definitely going to look for one around us to take them to.  What a great idea it is - and they were TIRED.  It was perfect.

Thursday night my parents took Arlington to a hockey game and I took Finley and Cainan to see Paddington.  Arlington had a great time and the game, and the movie was really cute.

Friday we went to my in-laws house and spent the day with them.  It is great to have my sister in law, Teen, and her family living in PA now.  We haven't seen them for awhile, and it was my first time meeting my nephew, Rex.  We had a really fun day, and Arlington was our hero and entertained the kids so I could catch up with my in-laws.

This was our ride to my in-laws.  These trees are covered in ice - not snow - ice.

 5 of the 7 grandkids there that day doing crafts

Saturday we went to my Grammy's house to pick up all the furniture and household items I am inheriting from her.  It was bitter sweet, as always.  I am very excited to have things in my home that will remind me daily of her (especially her Grandmother clock that chimes every 15 minutes and reminds me of her each time it does) but it was hard to say goodbye to the house.  I took one last look around, reliving the memories I have made with her over the last 40 years in that house.  I took a picture of the house before I left, but Mat accidentally left our camera in PA, so I don't have that to share today.

After the move, Mat took the kids to his parent's house to visit (he flew in that morning so that we could drive the Uhaul back to MA), and I went home with my parents to wrap up a few things and pack to go home.

Sunday we headed home.  It was a great week!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Arlington turns 12

How in the world do I have a 12 year old.  Wasn't she just a little baby?

On February 15th, Arlington turned 12 years old.  She has become an amazing young lady.  The pre-teen years have been rough.  She has her days, don't get me wrong.  But she is a great kid.  She is kind and caring.  She loves her brother and sister and is still willing to entertain them to help me out.  She is conscientious and a great student.  She works hard, has a close group of friends, and has a fun spirit.  I watch her care for other people even when she doesn't know someone is watching.  She is the first to give a helping hand.  We are lucky to have her as our first born.

We were in Pennsylvania for her birthday this year, so we had a family party.  We had a great turnout and she had a great time.  This year she really wanted a charm bracelet, so her relatives all went together and picked charms that meant something to Arlington and we put together the bracelet.  Hopefully it is something she will treasure for years to come.

Here are a few pictures from the day:

The Birthday girl:
 With her sister:
 Getting ready to sing.  We are so glad that Mat's sister, Teen,and her kids have moved to PA so we can see them for birthdays:

 The Orlando's and Littels joined us as well:

 Opening her presents:

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Winter Break

Whew!  I have been gone awhile, but the kids and I were on Winter Break all last week.  They have this break (that I really hate because I think it is unnecessary) around President's day each year.  We usually go to Pennsylvania to visit family, so we did that again this year.

We left Friday the 13th (ooooooh, spooky) and drove about 6 hours and then stopped in a hotel for the night.  I am not quite ready to travel the whole 9-10 hours alone without a second driver.  Mat couldn't come because of work.  The kids did great, and we were at our hotel by 8:30 and settled in.

Saturday morning we got up and headed to my parent's house.  My cousin, Alissa, was having her baby shower that afternoon, and the girls and I were glad we were able to go to that.  We dropped everything at the house - including Cainan - and headed to the shower.

We had a great time.  Here are some pictures from the day.

They had a onesie decorating station - the girls loved that.

 My cousin opening her presents.  She doesn't know if she is having a boy or a girl:
 Present form us - we got her the rub and her changing pad, and a whole bunch of other goodies off of her wish list:

Tomorrow I will share pictures of Arlington's birthday, and the rest of our week after that!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Book review #10

Another one down.  This book took awhile because it was 686 pages.

The book I just finished was called NOS4A2.

It fell under my Reading Challenge Category of A book with a number in the title.

This book was actually really good.  I wasn't sure if I would like it.  Joe Hill is Steven King's son, and that family has a history of strange - and scary - books.  I read "Horns" by Joe Hill and found it quite disturbing, but mildly humorous, so I decided to give him another go.

I wasn't disappointed.  I thought the book was well written and ended well.  (A problem that his dad has with his books).  The book is about a vampire names Charles Manx (although the vamp never really admits it) who kidnaps children who he thinks have an unhappy life and takes them to a place called "Christmas Land".  He usually kills their parents, whom he thinks are unfit to be parents.  He is, of course, a wacko and a serial killer.  NOS4A2 is his license plate and it stands for Nosferatu, which is Romania for Vampire.

Along comes the main character, Vic.  Her story starts when she is a young girl and she finds that when something is lost, a bridge appears, and she can cross it and find what is missing.  The bridge will take her anywhere in the country the "lost" object is.  And this is how she comes to cross paths with Charles Manx.  Charles spends he life trying to track her down, and Vic spends her life trying to run from what she believes was a terrible hallucination (the bridge and the man).

Vic falls in love, has a child, and the story comes full circle.  I do recommend it, if you can stand the books length.  I don't think it was long winded.  It truly needed all 686 pages to tell the story.  Check it out.

Star rating 4 1/2.

Saturday, February 7, 2015


Today is Mat's 41st birthday.  He has crossed the line into old manhood.  ha ha.  I am sure he would appreciate that statement.

Today we spent the day watching it snow and running Arlington to two basketball games.  This evening we left the kids with the babysitter and went to a movie (although it was an awful one, it was worth going out).

Mat is a wonderful man.  He is kind and caring.  He is a great dad.  He is the hardest worker I know.  I don't think he has ever told a lie in his entire life.  We are lucky to have him as the head of our family.

And, as always, this day with so much joy brings a wave of sadness.  The loss of my other Matt - my Godbrother - 12 years ago to a senseless accident is never far from our minds.  He is in my mind every day.  I always wonder what he would have been like now.  Would he have a wife and kids?  Would he be a famous conductor?  What I do know is that he would still be the wonderful person he always was.

Now he is in heaven and I know he was there to greet my Gram this past November.  She always called him "her little boyfriend" and they had a great bond.  And now they are up there together.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

You Win Some, You Lose Some

Today Finley had her Vision Field test. This is one of my favorite appointments only because it gives us the most knowledge about HOW she sees. That is so valuable when it comes to her accommodations at school. We like to have it before her IEP each year so that it helps with planning the next year.

 I would love to say that after last week's high of stable acuity that this appointment went just as well, but it did not. We found out that she has lost a significant amount more of her central vision. Last year, where her lost was kind of a crescent shape, this year it is a full circle and that circle has gotten large. The doctor was pretty sure it has happened gradually over this last year which is why Finley hasn't really noticed (and neither have we). 

She has lost a good deal of her color identification ability. The doctor said she wasn't surprised. Being able to tell the difference between colors is starting to go as well. Like when she sees a blue she isn't sure if it is blue or black or brown. Kind of all looks the same. BUT - the more light she has, the better she sees, of course. 

The doctor didn't really believe that her acuity stayed stable because of what she found, but she didn't push it because Finley is still able to compensate and isn't complaining. Small potatoes compared to the rest. 

The GOOD news was that her peripheral fields haven't shrunk much more - they stayed pretty stable. So....that is that. Up, down, up, down. LCA sucks pine sap. Now we just wait for the written report from her and her recommendations for school. Next year she goes to a new school (3rd grade here is in a different building) which means all new staff who don't know her. Sigh. 

This summer we have to go back to the retinal specialist to see what is happenings with her night vision loss and also her retinas in general. And we are going to see a Low Vision specialist to help make some recommendations on equipment. I am grateful that we have Perkins School for the blind and their Low Vision Clinic to help us with everything. Onward!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Book Review #9

I have read 9 books since the year started.  That seems a bit crazy, does it not?  I admit I love to read, and I would rather do that than anything else in the winter, but even this is a bit extreme for me.

The weather is terrible again.  Today was the Super Bowl, and yes I live in New England, and yes the Patriots were in (and won) the Super Bowl.  But we are Steeler Fans through and through.  Today was all about the snacks and the Puppy Bowl.

I sat with Arlington while she worked on her science project, and read.  I sat on the couch with the kids and during commercials for the Puppy Bowl, I read.  During the Super  Bowl, I read.  And before I knew it, I finished the book I was reading.

It was a short one at only 172 pages, so it took only the last two days to read.

Today's book was "A  Room With A View"

It fell under the category: A book set somewhere you have always wanted to visit

This book was set in Italy.  At least for most of the book  So I went with it.

It was an old book, considered a classic.  It was written in 1908, and if you watch Downton Abbey, you will like this book.  The language is old, and stuffy, but if you can get past all of that, there is a true love story that made me want to keep turning the page to find out what was going to happen.

The main character is a young lady named Lucy who goes on holiday in Italy and meets a man named George.  He falls for her immediately, but she goes home and becomes engaged to a man named Cecil.  But all along, you know she is supposed to be with George.  George reappears shortly after she returns from her holiday, and he professes his love for her and begs her not to marry Cecil.  It is touch and go and......well - I won't spoil it for you.

It was dry at times, and I found myself rolling my eyes, but then remembering when the book was written.  I would think of Downton Abbey, and then it would make more sense and I would move on.

I give it 3 1/2 stars.  It is a sweet story if you can get past the writing a bit.