Friday, August 29, 2008

Sage Turns 13

Baby Sagie.

It seems so long ago!

Family pictures--the day before she had her appendix taken out at age 3. And then in the hospital for a whole week!

Master of the dirty look.

Our Sagie is a talented girl.

And a beautiful girl.

A girl who loves her family.

Happy 13th birthday, Sage! We love you.

A Good Old-Fashioned Murder Mystery

Murder of Roger Ackroyd Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I can't now remember what made me want to read this book except that I know it was mentioned in another book. But I do like a good Agatha Christie now and again. This is probably my favorite, so far. I do like Poirot (I've seen most of the television series), but I have always avoided reading Christie's books with him as the main character. Why? I don't know. He was good fun in this one and "knew everything."

This was a good, quick, and surprising read. You suspect everyone at some point. I even suspected the actual murderer periodically during the book but always managed to become convinced that it was this or that other person. And during the last few pages before the final unveiling when I was finally cluing in to who it must be, I was still shocked.

Have you ever read a book where "clue" is spelled "clew?" I cannot believe I have never encountered this.

View all my reviews.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

4th of July Weekend Part 1

oEvery 4th of July (which we almost always spend in Utah) we wander to downtown Provo to see what is up at the Art's Festival. Nowadays they just have a lot of booths set up selling all kinds of stuff--usually the same stuff every year. And then there are the food booths, the performance stage (where my sister-in-law usually performs with her dance group), and the highlight--shaved ice. When I was a kid it was a full blown carnival that closed off streets and wasn't to be missed. And I usually didn't. But now we usually meet my dad there for lunch or dinner and walk around with the kids for a while. We usually end up buying them some "souvenir." In our house "souvenir" usually translates as "some piece of crap we MUST buy because we somehow have it in our heads that we have to buy something everywhere we go while on vacation whether we really want it or not."

What a great time it was when we came home with some beauties like these. The strings had completely tangled by the time we got home and there was red and yellow furry stuff shedding all over everything.

As I said, it's pretty typical to find the same things there every year. The hair bows are updated or they have the very latest in scrapbooking supplies, but other than that, it's more of the same. This year I tried some food from a little Peruvian booth. It was pretty yummy. I usually go with the Navajo taco because, when else can you eat a Navajo taco? And of course I love a shaved ice. I usually get Tiger's Blood because it's good--but why is it called Tiger's Blood? I don't get it. It's kind of nice, though, these days the shaved ice places let you put on your own flavoring. I like that because it's more about the ice for me than the flavor. I want mostly ice with just a little flavor. I hate it when they soak those things! And while I'm on the subject, why don't we have any shaved ice places here in Vegas? It's so bizarre. It seems like they would do well at least 10 months of the year. I remember going to a frozen yogurt place years ago here in town. When we went in I noticed that they had shaved ice on the menu. Of course that is what I wanted to order. When I told the girl what I wanted she said, "Oh. We don't have shaved ice right now." I asked, "Why?" She replied--rather rudely, "Umm. It's like the middle of the winter. It's way too cold for shaved ice." Now, granted, it was January and might have been a chilly 50 degrees or something, but we were in a FROZEN yogurt store! I just couldn't quite follow that logic.

This year, however, my dad pointed out a new booth to us. The company is called Haven Empire and they sell t-shirts and hats and stuff. All of which say HAVEN on them. They are really cool shirts so we all got one (yeah! for once our souvenirs were nice and practical). Eric's is my favorite and he gets compliments on it every time he wears it. You can check them out here. Pictured are samples of what we bought. Haven and Bentley also got a shirt but I can't find any pictures of the children's t-shirts on their web site.
Eric's t-shirt.

How about a picture of Eric actually modeling the shirt? And Savannah in her Larsen's Frostop t-shirt (she loves it when I take her picture).

Sage's shirt.
Savannah's shirt.

If you're up for it stay tuned for some more 4th of July fun as I back-track (in no particular order) to catch up on family fun about which I haven't yet posted.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

My First Giveaway

Haven couldn't resist poking her cute little head in the picture.

Well, here it goes. My first giveaway. My readership is far from huge so, whoever you are, you have a pretty good chance. The goodies come from one of my very favorite stores: Fruits and Passions. Their stuff is fabulous. How about a picture of the fun stuff you could win?!

Included are: a set of Orange Cantaloup (their spelling--not mine) Cream Hand Soap and Rich Hand Cream; Green Tea and Orchid Fabric and Room Deodorizer (my favorite); and a gift set of some other goodies (Protection Brillance--again, not my spelling--Shampoo and Conditioner, Monoi Nourishing Milk, Manoi Nourishing Hair Mask, Manoi Nourishing Lip Butter, Energizing Leg Gel, and Manoi Gold Body Shimmer). I haven't tried everything--yet--but the Manoi scent is amazing.

I have praised Fruits and Passions in blogs past (here) and, as a result, have a fun story to share. While visiting the store in June, my kids and I browsed and bought a few things. We had a good time visiting with the employees and learning about some of the new stuff. The next day I received a phone call. It was the manager of Fruits and Passions. Oddly enough she wanted to know if I had a blog. I said, yes, of course, and she proceeded to explain herself. She said that she had recently attended an international Fruits and Passions meeting and that my blog had been part of a presentation of some sort. Knowing that it was her store I had visited, she was curious to see the blog for herself and had requested that their corporate office give her my site address. She received it the morning after we had been in the store and immediately recognized the pictures of my kids on my blog as the same kids who had been in the previous night. We had a very nice chat and she told me that she was honored that I loved their store and had posted about it. She also sent me a box of some free stuff (another HUGE reason I continue to love Fruits and Passions). Thanks again!

The only embarrassing part of the conversation (and, knowing me, there had to be one of those) came when she asked me if I knew who had helped me on the day I blogged about. It was then that I realized that I had written about an employee who--although very nice--stumbled a bit in the customer service department. (Again, read here for the full story.) I had completely forgotten about that portion of the post and felt more than a little embarrassed. I assured her, however, that it didn't diminish my love of the store in any way.

Back to the giveaway part of this post. It's great stuff--some of my favorites. All you have to do is leave a comment--any comment--before midnight on Monday, September 15. The winner will be picked RANDOMLY and I will announce who it is September 16. Good luck! I wish I could win!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Seriously So Cool

Be sure to get yourselves one of these AWESOME t-shirts from Seriously, So Blessed. I am definitely ordering the diet coke shirt. I will save it for that sad day in my near future when I go off the stuff for real.

The t-shirts are available here.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Here I am on the first day of first grade with my best friend Jodi Fait. Love the knee highs.

It's no secret that I always look forward to this time of year. There are many reasons: fall is coming, I can start burning pumpkin scented candles, my children's birthdays are all right around the corner, a firmer schedule to follow, my job as "cruise director" coming to an end for 9 months, the weather cooling off (I don't hold my breath for this one), and--oh yeah--my kids are in school. There are negatives as well: no more sleeping in, spending the majority of my days in the car, asking about and helping with homework, and trying to find the time to get everything done. The positives outweigh the negatives.

This year is a little different because Savannah is now in high school. High school. I remember when I was a teenager hearing adults say that someday I would wish I could go back to high school. Most likely this was said as I was lamenting the fact that high school was where I spent my days. Now that I am an adult I can tell you that I wouldn't go back to high school for a million dollars. There are things I regret and things I would love to do over and times that I remember fondly. But to go back and relive the day to day highs and lows would not be worth it. That said, there is something to the high school experience. I think, more than any other time in our lives, high school is when there is a higher concentration of "firsts" that you can look back on fondly (or maybe not).

One thing I always wish for my kids when it comes to starting a new school year is that they will be nice. I actually wish this for them all the time but for some reason I feel a twinge when I let them go at the first of the school year just hoping that they will be kind and hopefully find some kindness in return. I think that they are very good and nice people in general; I guess I just hope that any shyness or uneasiness won't prevent them from treating others well. I have actually always been impressed with the way my big girls try to avoid the drama that sometimes goes hand in hand with being a teenage girl. They have often been mediators when their friends have troubles (not always the best spot to be in either). I know that they are not perfect, but I have been proud of how they have handled themselves so far and wish that I had been more like them when I was young. Was I nice in junior high and high school? I think I was. I don't think I was mean. I was never never miss popularity but I had a lot of really great friends. My memory is incomplete and I just hope that I was never cruel to anyone. I realize I should take this to heart more in my daily life, but I just think that the least we can do in our dealings with others is just to be nice.

I have delayed this post for a day in hopes that I could get a picture of Savannah before school.. She has unfortunately inherited my dislike for pictures of myself. So until I can pin her down, I will include a picture of what she looked like after school and--what the hay--one of Sage too.

Sage on the first day of 8th grade.

Savannah after school.

Sage after school.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Good Read

In Cold Blood In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
Let me start off by saying that I listened to the audio version narrated by Scott Brick. I found him to be an amazing narrator. He gave each of the main characters their own voice without being overly dramatic or cheesy. There was a subtle uniqueness to each voice that only added to my enjoyment of the book. He is the first narrator that I can picture myself listening to based on his presence and not necessarily based on the book.

Should we invest in literature based on true stories that focus mainly on the perpetrators? Is it wrong that Perry Smith and Dick Hickock are as memorable to me than the Clutters--probably even more so? That may be true for a lesser book than In Cold Blood, but reading this book is completely worth while. It's a book that I've always been curious about but never read. I am, overall, a fan of the "murder mystery" genre, but I tend towards fiction rather than stories based in truth partly because I hate the fact that the victims might be exploited and the criminals glorified. But the sheer genius of the writing style in this book place it in a unique genre of its own.

I don't think that I have fully digested this book. It may take me a while. As a result of reading it I had a wide range of feelings. Some include: sorrow for the family and friends of the Clutters; a desire to understand why it happened; anguish for Dick's parents and, to a lesser degree, Perry's family; amazement at the evil there is in the world; and a deeper realization that there is very little in the world that is black and white.

And after reading this on the heels of Camus' The Stranger, I feel an essay coming on. How interesting to read two very different accounts of two similar characters. And by similar I am speaking of Perry Smith and Meursault, who both commit senseless murders without remorse. The similarities, to me, are astounding!

This was a fascinating read. I don't know that it is ever possible to document an event and the people involved in it in a completely unbiased way. But realizing that, this book is a very well-written and worthy attempt.

View all my reviews.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I'm Going to Start Crying

Not my floor--we've had similar spills on floors and counter tops!

Please explain Costco's new milk jugs to me. I want to be open-minded. I want to adapt to new things. What I don't want, however, is milk spilled all over. I love buying my milk at Costco. I have been known to go to Costco for milk alone (whether or not I leave with only milk is another story). And we do go through milk at our house. I typically buy four gallons of skim milk per week and two gallons of whole milk (for Haven and Ryder--this will often last a little longer than one week).

Let me just go back and say that a few months ago I was more than a little irritated with the new little cap that had to be peeled off the milk jugs. They never came off easily and I usually ended up stabbing through it to get to the milk. So when I saw the new jugs I thought, "perhaps they won't have that annoying little tab." Wrong! Not only are the new jugs awkward, but they still have a tab! Granted, this tab is easier to remove, but how many layers of protection do I need to go through before I can pour some milk?

If you know this answer to this puzzle, please let me know. Are they friendlier on the environment (I am glad that they no longer have to package them in cardboard)? Do they keep the milk fresher longer? Does it stay colder? Do they want to aggravate me on purpose? I love you, Costco! We spend bucket loads of money at your store! I just need to know that this added annoyance has a higher purpose. And if not, change back!

In order to be fair, here is what Costco has to say (along with my comments):

Improved Features:
  • New Tilt & Pour Jugs - Yes, they are new!
  • Easy to pour - just tilt without lifting jug off counter - NOT easy
  • Stays fresh longer - inner foil seal locks in freshness and taste - possible, but no notable difference
  • Easy to store - new shape fits better in your refrigerator - similar enough not to make a big difference
  • Reduces waste - Recyclable jug eliminates corrugated shipper boxes - I agree
I don't mean to complain, but when my kids are no longer the only ones spilling milk, something has to change.

One Down, Two to Go

Today was Haven's first day of preschool for the year. Initially she was really excited to go back to school. In fact, she's been asking about when she could go back all summer long. But lately she's taken on the big girls' negative school attitude. I think that she started thinking that it's not cool to like school. So she would say things like, "School's dumb," or, "school is too long." We chatted last night and I told her that school is cool and it's her sisters who are dumb. (Okay, I didn't really say that they are dumb.) She woke up this morning eager to go and she had a great time. She will be going three days per week this year instead of two. The teachers all remarked on how much she had grown. And she has. Although I still had to pin her new shorts in the back so they wouldn't fall down. (Why doesn't everyone do those little adjustable waist things? Those are great!) I was shocked that Haven chose shorts to wear on the first day and not a dress. It was a first day of school miracle!

Haven posing in our usual "first day of school" picture spot.

And another.

On her way into Miss Marsha's Mini School.

She was slightly irritated that I made her turn around for a picture.

And while I'm on the subject of the Havester, how about a little Haven randomness:

I don't know.

The Barbie throne that Haven built.

Another Haven creation.

All gussied up.

Just cute.