Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Blood Moon

We are lucky to live in an area where we could see the moon so brightly the other night.  Arlington stayed up to watch the the eclipse.  Since it won't be back until 2033 - and she will be 30 (30!) years old by then, it was wonderful to watch together.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Picture Day and other happenings

Today was picture day for Finley and Cainan.  I felt that since I haven't posted pictures on the blog for a little while, I should probably do that so the grandparents see that they are still alive.

Things are going pretty well with the start of school.  Activities and homework are in full swing.  We are busy every day now.  Gone are the slow days of summer where we could decide when and where to go and be.  Now we are in the thick of schedules and homework.

Arlington is in the 7th grade and the homework has ramped up.  She has quite a bit each night, but she is managing it just fine.  She is participating in the school musical again this year (it is Suessical the Musical) and even scored a little bit part.  That takes up her Monday and Thursday afternoons and is keeping her busy.  She is enjoying all of her teachers this year and seems to have a nice mix of kids in her classes, so we are off to a good start.

Cainan is in 3rd grade and has been enjoying it so far.  Cainan is all about routine, and he has a terrific teacher this year that is uber organized.  She is a perfect fit.  There is quite a bit more work in 3rd grade, but he is handling it well.  He has gotten used to using a school planner to write his homework in so that he doesn't miss anything each night.  We have a nice system set up and he is thriving.

He recently got a purple belt in Karate and is so excited.  He was quite nervous for this step, but he did the test and passed.  We are very proud of him.  He is in karate class two times a week and is also participating in a sparring class this year.  It will keep him plenty busy.

Finley is our busiest child as usual.  3rd grade is off to a good start this year.  She had a good couple of weeks, with only one hiccup.  She was feeling a little under the weather so she fought me on going to school.  I had visions of all of those days during her first year of 2nd grade where she fought us at least once a week on going to school.  Hopefully she will stay steady and confident and will have a good year.  We are dealing with a new teacher and a new school, so I know that gives her some anxiety.  We are going to meet with the teacher this Friday to see how she feels the first bit of school has gone and answer any questions she may have.  She has braille 4 times a week at school, an orientation and movement class one time a week (cane training) and physical therapy 1 time a week.  Lots of stuff going on during the school day.

Finley is in a dance class (ballet, tap, jazz), an acro class and is taking horse back riding this fall.  So she is very busy.  She has some low tone issues with her diagnosis, so these types of activities really help strengthen her muscles.  She loves the horse back the most, and is enjoying the different dance classes.  The horse back will be year round because they have an indoor rink, so I will be anxious to see what she thinks of it once we get to next summer.

A little catch up!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Book Review #33

The book I am reviewing today is

A Child Called "It"

This was in the category:  A Book that will Make You Cry

This is a true story book about the author, David, who was severely abused as a child from about age 6 to age 11.  It tells the story of a child that spent most days starving, living in a cold basement, working chores until he couldn't stand, and not even being called by his name.  This became the 3rd worst case of child abuse in CA history.

I had a hard time with this book.  I was so angry reading it.  I could not even imagine how this could go on for 5 years and he couldn't get away.  He was in public school.  He was forced to wear basically the same outfit everyday.  He stole food.  He was covered with bruises.  His mother burned him and stabbed him.  And yet, it took 5 years for him to be rescued.

The "happy ending" is - David Pelzer is a full functioning adult with a family and children.  He has spoken all over the country about the abuse and promoting reporting child abuse.  But this book.  I just could not get over how awful it was.  I have been extra kind to my own kiddos because I would never want them to feel anything but love from me.  He didn't deserve what happened to him.  No kid deserves that.

Star rating:  4

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Book Review #32

Okay - back to book reviews.  You know you love it.  I am keeping a record of my hard work, darn it!

This book was:

The Martian

This book is in the category:  A book based or turned into a TV show or movie.

This movie is coming out in October and I am very excited.

This book is about a group of 6 astronauts that are sent on a mission to Mars.  A dust storm throws one astronaut off, away from the others.  They hunt for him, but can't find him.  The dust storm is so bad that the mission is aborted, and they have to leave the astronaut - our main character, Mark Watney - behind.

What happens next is that the astronaut spends the next 18 months on Mars trying to survive, hoping to be rescued.  He is a mechanical engineer and a botanist, so he has the skills to survive - if he can grow food. And figure out how to get word to NASA that he is alive.

This book was amazing.  I thought I was going to hate it because Mat raved about it.  And most books Mat raves about and I read - well they are awful.  Or so above my brain level, I can't get through them.  But after he mentioned it 8 billion times, I caved and read it.  I am so glad I did.  The main character is hilarious.  (Matt Damon is playing him in the movie and he is a perfect fit).  It is a little techy and "sciencey", but not enough to make me want to stop reading.  Actually, I found it all pretty fascinating.  The book is written with this video logs that he is keeping each night, and I laughed out loud several times at what the main character was saying.  

I really encourage this book.  If you are a mostly romance novel reader - skip it.  Otherwise - read this and then go and see the movie.

Stars:  4 1/2

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Newest Purple Karate Belt

We take a break from book reviewing to bring you the newest Karate Purple Belt - Cainan!

He was so excited that he passed his test today.  He was really nervous.  We crammed for about a week to make sure he knew exactly everything that would be expected of him.  By this morning he was ready.  But nervous.

He was so happy.  I love to see him push himself to do these tests.  (you don't have to).  His Sensei was very proud of him.  I think Cainan has found his sport.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Book Review #31

Found it!  A book I missed reviewing.  So this should be the end for a little while because I will read a few more before I torture you will more reviews.  I thought I had done this one, so if I have, please let me know.  I can't seem to find it on the blog.


This Book was

The Giver

This was in the category: A Book that became a movie

A short blurb from Amazon says

The Giver, the 1994 Newbery Medal winner, has become one of the most influential novels of our time. The haunting story centers on twelve-year-old Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community.

I enjoyed this book.  Until the ending.  It is short and takes place in a Utopian future that is mainly happy and content.  No one has pain, or sadness, or conflict.  Of course there is no love or differences or opinions......  But folks didn't know what they were missing.

Then there was the ending.  Lois what are you doing to your readers?  You ended basically mid sentence and I felt very unfulfilled.  I wanted more!  I wanted to know what happened to our beloved hero, and yet I never found out.  I understand there are companion books to this one, but what most people tell me - it isn't really a continuation of the story.  Forget that.

I did see the movie and it did follow the book well.  Mat watched it with me and didn't read the book but felt the same about the ending.  When the credits rolled, he said "wait, what?"

So - take the book for what it is.  A book with 8500 customer reviews - most of them positive.  

Stars: 3 1/2

Monday, September 21, 2015

Book Review #30

Number 30 of the 50 book challenge!!  I am getting there.  I have some doubts that I will finish the 50 before the year ends, but I am holding out hope.  I have one more books to review that I have missed somewhere, so I will have to figure that out.  Stay tuned.

The next book I am going to review is Leaving Time

Category for this one:  Book on the bottom of my to read list

Here is what Amazon had to say:

 "For more than a decade, Jenna Metcalf has never stopped thinking about her mother, Alice, who mysteriously disappeared in the wake of a tragic accident. Refusing to believe she was abandoned, Jenna searches for her mother regularly online and pores over the pages of Alice’s old journals. A scientist who studied grief among elephants, Alice wrote mostly of her research among the animals she loved, yet Jenna hopes the entries will provide a clue to her mother’s whereabouts.

Desperate to find the truth, Jenna enlists two unlikely allies in her quest: Serenity Jones, a psychic who rose to fame finding missing persons, only to later doubt her gifts, and Virgil Stanhope, the jaded private detective who’d originally investigated Alice’s case along with the strange, possibly linked death of one of her colleagues. As the three work together to uncover what happened to Alice, they realize that in asking hard questions, they’ll have to face even harder answers.

As Jenna’s memories dovetail with the events in her mother’s journals, the story races to a mesmerizing finish."

Jodi Picoult is not normally at the bottom of my to read list, but I wasn't very excited about this book.  Maybe it is because I have read so many and her M Night Shamalanadingdong endings were getting tiring.  And of course - this one did not disappoint with that kind of ending, so get ready for there being a twist and you not liking what it is.

But I did find this book enjoyable up until that point.  Jenna's mother was a researcher at an elephant santuary (which exists in real life, just not where it takes place in the book) and I found the information about elephants fascinating.  The little girl's search for her mother and determination to find her was heart warming.

If you are a sap for Picoult, then put this book on your list.  But just know she ends her books like she always does - by surprising you.  Sometimes I like the direction she takes, and sometimes I don't.

Stars: 3 1/2

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Book Review #29

The book I am going to review today is

Brain on Fire - My Month of Madness

Category of this book was: A Non-fiction Book

This book is a true story of the author who was a perfectly normal writer for the New York Post one day and completely paranoid and not in control of her body the next.  The oddest part is that she doesn't remember the month at all.  She had to put together the pieces from stories from her parents, boyfriend, hospital staff, videos from her hospital stay, and friends.  

This book was fantastic.  It is amazing how an autoimmune disease attacked her and what the result of that attack was.  Worst of all - it took the doctors a very long time to figure out what was wrong with her.  Up until her "lost" month, she had been having unusual symptoms and paranoia and most doctors decided she was becoming mentally ill.  The truth was - she was sick.   It begs the question - how many other children and adults have been mis-diagnosed with a mental illness when in fact they may have a rare autoimmune disease that attacks the brain and mimicks widely known mental disabilities?

I encourage you to read this book.  It was a little more "sciencey" than I thought necessary at times, but other than that - an excellent read.

Stars: 4 1/2

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Book Review #28

The next book I read was

Olive Kitteridge

This book fit in the category: A Pulitzer Prize Winning Book

According to Amazon this book was about:

"At times stern, at other times patient, at times perceptive, at other times in sad denial, Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher, deplores the changes in her little town of Crosby, Maine, and in the world at large, but she doesn’t always recognize the changes in those around her: a lounge musician haunted by a past romance; a former student who has lost the will to live; Olive’s own adult child, who feels tyrannized by her irrational sensitivities; and her husband, Henry, who finds his loyalty to his marriage both a blessing and a curse. 

As the townspeople grapple with their problems, mild and dire, Olive is brought to a deeper understanding of herself and her life–sometimes painfully, but always with ruthless honesty. Olive Kitteridge offers profound insights into the human condition–its conflicts, its tragedies and joys, and the endurance it requires."

I used Amazon's review because I was not in love with this book.  It had a crazy amount of good reviews but the main character, Olive, was not likable.  Not even a little bit.  I hated her even minute in this book.  And then I watched the miniseries on HBO and she was equally awful on there.  She wasn't nice to her husband (she cheated on him), she was terrible to her son, she didn't have any friends, she never wanted to be touched or hugged.....she was just a weirdo.

The story was long and drawn out over most of Olive's adult life.  The book weaves in and out of her story and others and how she fits into their stories.  You really had to pay attention.

There were good points to this book.  Parts I really liked - especially if Olive wasn't the main focus.  So you might like this book if you can get over Olive.  Maybe you will view her differently.  Feel for her in some way.  I just couldn't bring myself to like her.

Stars: 2 1/2-3 maybe.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Book Review #27

I am getting there, but it is SLOW.  A friend of mine who took the 50 book challenge with me is already done.  And she read War and Peace.

Show off.

The next book I am going to review is

Gregor the Overlander

The category of this one was: A Popular Authors First Book.

And that author was Suzanne Collins - who wrote the Hunger Games.

Oh Suzanne.  You have proved to me with this book that anyone can be a writer if they put in the commitment.  This book was pretty horrible.

Okay - yes it is a YA book.  But it was pushing even that.  I like the idea of the book - this young boy from New York falls into the "Underland" through a shoot in his laundry room and ends up in this play where the animals speak and bats, cochroaches (yuk) and rats are as big as Elephants.  There are "humans" there but because they don't receive sunlight, they are pale and skinny.  

The point of the book is to get Gregor back home.  And to keep him alive while that is being done. 

If I was 7, I probably would like this book because I wouldn't have known any better.  And Suzanne - you became a Bazillionaire so.....touche.

Stars 1 1/2

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Finley's Horseback Riding

Finley decided about a year ago that she wanted to go back to horseback riding.  We have been putting it off because it is pricey and she was already in many things.

We finally caved this year, and found a really great place for her to take year round lessons.  It will be great for her low tone/back issues as well.

She started a few weeks ago and loves it.  Beyond just riding she is responsible for caring for the horse, tacking up, and cooling the horse down after her lesson.  It is a great learning experience.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Cape Cod Weekend

Over our 4 day Labor Day weekend, Mat and I took the kids - and my parents - to Cape Cod for the weekend.  A friend of mine has a house there and graciously let us borrow it for our long weekend.

We had a fabulous time.  We slept in, spent long days on the beach, visited Provincetown, saw the oldest lighthouse on Cape Cod, and ate delicious food.  It was a great time.

Enjoy the pictures:  (there are a lot of them)

I could sit here every day.  Well.....until it snows on me:
 Kids on the beach.  The weather was beautiful every day we were there:
 My mom discovering how cold the water was:
 Lots of seagulls every day.  I even saw one take a sandwich right out of a guy's hand:
 Digging in the sand:

 This one tried to get in our foodbag
 Finley loved the boogie board:
 Relaxing in the Hammock at the house after the ocean:
 Cainan in the kid's house:

 Dinner our first night there was at a really cute Hot Dog Stand:
 Followed by ice cream:
 Followed by board games and a movie:
 Second day there we went to Provincetown to look at the shops and spend the day:

 This is the Provincetown Library.  It is beautiful and it has a surprise on the Kid's books floor:
 The surprise was a giant boat!

 Finley on the beach in Provincetown:

 Pilgrim tower:
 On our way home we stopped at the Highlands Lighthouse - the oldest one on Cape Cod

 A Little hammock time after our day in Provincetown:
 Followed by Smores:

 Third day and fourth days was all about the beach.  We were there for 5 hours on Sunday and 4 hours on Monday:

Then we went out for dinner.  Lobster dinner:

 Followed by ice cream: