FFI ~ School Delays and Cancellations SUCK!

And…here we go!

fridayfillin.gif

1. You have a chance to _run away and join the circus, but the kids won’t allow it_.

2. _I wish my kids would STOP FIGHTING_ right now!

3. There is a _paddle somewhere, but the kids keep hiding it from me_.

4. _Hire the Supernanny now_ and pay later.

5. It’s time to _go to the bus stop now, right?  Ist it time yet?  Please, God, can it be time now!  Two-hour delays and school cancellations suck_.

6. _I’d get a rope, take each child to a different room, and suspend them_ up in the air but _that’s just too much work_.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to _watching some Stargate with Mags and working out what Sam wants for her birthday dinner_, tomorrow my plans include _lunch out with the kids, a trip to the library (it’s book sale weekend, WOOT!), and celebrating Sammi’s birthday_ and Sunday, I want to _have a good Sunday at church, the read a little and relax with the kids_!

Ah, peace and quiet.  If only it would last!

check out more FFI’s here!

BTT ~ I’m a Gwen Cooper Disciple

btt button

Who’s your favorite author that other people are NOT reading? The one you want to evangelize for, the one you would run popularity campaigns for? The author that, so far as you’re concerned, everyone should be reading–but that nobody seems to have heard of. You know, not JK Rowling, not Jane Austen, not Hemingway–everybody’s heard of them. The author that you think should be that famous and can’t understand why they’re not…

Well, I suppose Neil Gaiman doesn’t count on the list of “unknowns”, lol, but he’s probably my favorite author.  I love his writing style, he sings the stories into being and paints the canvas of my mind with words.  Fragile Things was my first Gaiman book, and I’ve never been the same since.  But do I campaign for him?  Hmm… not really.

I think the best author to fit into the category of “unknown favorites” who I evangelize and believe in would be Gwen Cooper.  I told absolutely everyone I met that I thought might read something more than the funny papers that Homer’s Odyssey was a wonderful book and that the author, Gwen Cooper, is an amazing person with a big heart.

Well, the kids are home from school today.  Apparently buses don’t run well on sheets of ice, and outside it looks like a giant donut maker drizzled glaze all over.  My attempts to write something intelligent is greatly inhibited by the blaring yellow sponge on the TV, and Gwen and Maggie fighting about the latter writing something about the former’s Meez character ON her character.  I think they need to do some extra chores.

You can find more answers to this week’s Booking Through Thursday here

Motherhood From the Frontline

This was my “rainy day” post from BethFishRead’s Bloggiesta mini-challenge… Enjoy :-)

When it comes to children… especially when they’re your own and you can’t drive them out to the country and dump them because they know their addresses and how to get home… sometimes SANITY is a battle ground, and I feel like I’m battling them for it.  AND, I’m losing.

First off, the odds aren’t in my favor.  There are THREE of them and ONE of me.  Then you gotta add the 3 cats and the dog to that number, because they tease each other with the pets… “Look Maggie, your cat loves me more than you” wait for it “MOOOOOOOM!!!!  Maggie hit me!”  Well, the math adds up to 374 of them to the half-wit ME. 

Seriously, I used to have brains.  I did.  I once took the Mensa test and was well above the entry number.  My IQ, last I checked, is 168.  But see, that was before kids.  Nowadays, I’d be shocked if I could beat out a bunch of Broccoli in a game of Boggle.  My mom always said, “Insanity is hereditary… you get it from your kids!”  And the older they get, the more I realize she’s RIGHT.

I watched a program on PBS about negative emotions the other day… okay, I just watched a segment of the show while COPS was on commercial break, but still… and they said that negative emotions like stress and fear burn memories deeply into your psyche.  That’s why everyone remembers where they were on the morning of September 11, 2001, but few remember what they were doing on September 10th, the day before.  It is ALSO why my mom STILL remembers EVERYTHING I EVER did as a kid, and points out that “Paybacks are a BITCH!” whenever I’m word-vomitting what dastardly deeds the girls have been up to lately. 

Really, I began to understand what my actual role as a parent was when Sam and Gwen were about 7 and 8.  We had went to the mall and had stopped into the store where a friend worked.  Because I was engaged in adult conversation, and because I had taken longer than the generous minute and a half they allowed for such foolishness, the girls began to get antsy and started running around the store.  After a few loud rounds of “THWACK!  Mom!  She hit me!”, I made them sit in time out and confined each of them to their own tile square on the floor.  That I hadn’t set them far enough apart soon became evident when their arguing and tattling reached my ears.  And what were they fighting over now?  A piece of tracked in DIRT.  DIRT!  My darling dimpled dears were debating the ownership of a clod of DIRT!

So what role did I discover I was truly filling?

Wild animal handler.  I’m just here to make sure they don’t get loose and annoy the public.  I feed them, clean their cage and try to learn ‘em some manners, but mostly, I’m crowd control.

OH, and I used to hear or read the statistics that some parents only spend about 3 minutes of quality time conversing with their children and I’d think “How horrible!  What terrible and selfish parents can’t make time for their kids?!”  THEN I got teenagers and NOW I think, “GOOD GAWD!  3 minutes?!  They deserve an award!  At least a medal for bravery!”

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne

Title:  The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

Author:  John Boyne

Paperback:  215 pages

ISBN:  9780552773805

Book Challenges:  War Through the Generations World War II Reading Challenge

‘I’m Shmuel,’ said the little boy.

Bruno scrunched up his face, not sure that he had heard the little boy right.  ‘What did you say your name was?’ he asked.

‘Shmuel,’ said the little boy as if it was the most natural thing in the world.  ‘What did you say your name was?’

‘Bruno,’ said Bruno.

‘I’ve never heard of that name,’ said Shmuel.

‘And I’ve never heard of your name,’ said Bruno.  ‘Shmuel.’  He thought about it.  ‘Shmuel,’ he repeated.  ‘I like the way it sounds when I say it.  Shmuel.  It sounds like the wind blowing.’

‘Bruno,’ said Shmuel, nodding his head happily.  ‘Yes, I think I like your name too.  It sounds like someone who’s rubbing their arms to keep warm…  I’m nine,’ he said.  ‘My birthday is April the fifteenth nineteen thirty-four.’

Bruno’s eyes opened wide and his mouth made the shape of an O.  ‘I don’t believe it,’ he said… ‘my birthday is april the fifteenth too.  And I was born in nineteen thirty-four.  We were born on the same day… We’re like twins,’ said Bruno.

-The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne, pages 109-110

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne is a story of friendship told through the eyes of Bruno, the nine-year-old son of a concentration camp Commandant.  Uprooted from friends and the only home he’s ever known, Bruno hates his new home in “Out-With,” his mispronunciation of Auschwitz, and makes sure everyone knows it.  But one day, when he goes out exploring the area around his house, he meets a boy his own age on the other side of the fence where everyone wears striped pyjamas all day.  The two quickly become friends, and meet as often as possible at the same time and spot everyday from then on.

One of the things I like about this book is Boyne’s layered subtleties.  Bruno, the naive and sheltered innocent, passes along clues of his mother’s infidelity, drinking and depression, as well as the competition that goes on between Gretel, his twelve-turning-thirteen year-old sister, and his mother for the attention of the young Lieutenant Koltor.  Bruno witnesses but can’t quite grasp the difference between him and his family and the people on the other side of the fence, asking different people about it with varying degrees of failure to get a satisfactory answer.  His father tells him the others aren’t people -not really, not in the way we think of.  The Lieutenant calls them a derogatory name that is never passed along in the book.  Gretel comes the closest to answering him, failing only because she herself doesn’t understand it, either, telling him that the people on the other side were Jews and they were The Opposite, and The Opposite hate the Jews.

There are a few things that just got under my skin with this book, however.  For instance, if these people are German, then I assume they speak German in their thoughts as well as conversations with one another.  I found it mildly irritating that Bruno would think “Auschwitz” would sound like “Aus mit” (the direct translation “Out-with”).  Or that he would hear “Der Führer” and think people were calling Hitler “Das Wut”.  Also, there are a lot of repetition in the book.  Okay, I get it… Father’s office is “Out of bounds at all times with no exceptions.”  I got that the first time.  And I caught it on page 1 that Bruno had some stuff that belonged to him and were nobody else’s business.  Another thing I really wish Boyne had added to the book was how Bruno and Shmuel would have spent their birthday.  No doubt Bruno would have had a party with cake and a big dinner, but how would he have shared the special day with his “twin”?

Boyne’s storytelling in The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is reminiscent of Scout’s recounting in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, though not as well-done nor is Bruno as developed as a character as Scout was.  In Boyne’s attempt to reach as broad an audience as possible, the story is a bit like thin gruel.  Everyone can digest it, but it hasn’t got very much flavor.  If you are looking for a good book that glimpses the lives of the people during Nazi Germany, I’d recommend The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.  The writing is magical, the storytelling point-of-view is unique, and the depth of even the tertiary characters are better than Bruno’s.

Still, I’m passing this book on to my kids.  I think it’s a good book to introduce young and reluctant readers to the subjects:  The Holocaust, racism, hate, friendship, loyalty, love.  I think 4th and 5th graders, particularly boys of that age, would enjoy this book the most.  For me, a mom with a children the same ages as Bruno and Gretel (not to mention the same relationship as the bickering siblings, as well), I found Bruno to be an exasperatingly annoying little whiner at times. 

I give The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne 3 out of 5 stars.  It’s an acceptable read, but for me, as forgettable as Bruno found his three best friends for life.   In a year, I doubt I’ll even remember their names.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In 2008, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas was made into a movie.  I’ll have to put it on the top of my Netflix Queue, it looks fairly good.  Maybe they’ll address the birthday issue for me in it.

Silas Marner by George Eliot

Title:  Silas Marner

Author:  George Eliot

Paperback:  218 pages

Publisher:  Watermill Press

Publish Date:  1983

ISBN:  0893759961

Miscellaneous:  Mary Ann Evans was born in Warwickshire, England on November 22, 1819.  Under the name of George Eliot, she wrote several novels including Adam Bede, The Mill on the Floss, and  Middlemarch.  George Eliot died in London on December 22, 1880.

Unlike the gold which needed nothing and must be worshiped in close-locked solitude – which was hidden away from the daylight, was deaf to the song of birds, and started to no human tones – Eppie was a creature of endless claims and ever-growing desires, seeking and loving sunshine, and living sounds, and living movements; making trial of everything, with trust in new joy, and stirring the human kindness in all eyes that looked on her.  The gold had kept his thoughts in an ever-repeated circle, leading to nothing beyond itself, but Eppie was an object compacted of changes and hopes that forced his thoughts onward, and carried them far away from their old eager pacing towards the same blank limit…  The gold had asked that he should sit weaving longer and longer, deafened and blinded more and more to all things except the monotony of his loom and the repetition of his web; but Eppie called him away from his weaving, and made him think all its pauses a holiday, reawakening his senses with her fresh life, even to the old winterflies that came crawling forth in the early spring sunshine, and warming him into joy because she had joy.

And when the sunshine grew strong and lasting, so that the buttercups were thick in the meadows, Silas might be seen in the sunny mid-day, or in the later afternoon when the shadows were lengthening under the hedgerows, strolling out with uncovered head to carry Eppie beyond the Stone Pits to where the flowers grew, till they reached some favorite  bank where he could sit down, while Eppie toddled to pluck the flowers, and make remarks to the winged things that murmured happily above the bright petals, calling “Dad-dad’s” attention continually by bringing him the flowers.  Then she would turn her ear to some sudden bird-note, and Silas learned to please her by making signs of hushed stillness, that they might listen for the note to come again:  so that when it came, she set up her small back and laughed with gurgling triumph.  Sitting on the banks in this way, Silas began to look for the once familiar herbs again; and as the leaves, with their unchanged outline and markings, lay on his palm, there was a sense of crowding remembrances from which he turned away timidly, taking refuge in Eppie’s little world that lay lightly on his enfeebled spirit.

As the child’s mind was growing into knowledge, his mind was growing into memory:  as her life unfolded, his soul, long stupefied in a cold narrow prison, was unfolding too, and trembling gradually into full consciousness.

-Silas Marner by George Eliot, pages 149-151

Silas Marner by George Eliot tells the story of the socially withdrawn weaver.  Once in love and a vibrantmember of society, Silas was betrayed by his best friend, who framed him as a thief who stole church money in order to steal Marner’s fiance.  Silas leaves the land where he has always lived and moves to the southern English country communtity of Raveloe, a town that is far out of the way of the main roads and therefore has retained its simpler, pastoral beliefs and ways.

For fifteen years Silas works at his loom, usually sixteen hours a day, seven days a week, in pursuit of his only companion,  the gold guineas he receives as pay for his work, and shuns all society.  However, when he falls victim to a robbery that separates him from his 270 pounds that he had hoarded over the years, he begins a journey of reclamation and healing.  The arrival of Eppie, the gold-haired girl he, at first, mistakes as his returned gold, slowly reawakens feelings of faith, trust and love within him.

 But… can it be meant to last?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I vaguely remember reading Silas Marner in high school as part of the advanced English Honors program.  As I read through this a second time, I remembered why.  Eliot’s language is slow and thick, at times mind-numbingly so, and some of the descriptions of the society of a bygone era drug on and on with the inane details of gowns and cows and ghosts and blah blah blah.  I found myself wishing for a good Austen novel.  And now I’m not nearly as convinced I want to crack open Middlemarch, a book at least three times the length also by Eliot.

I did, however, love the story itself.  I felt such sympathy and excitement for Silas as I followed him through all his heartaches and then as rejoiced with him as Eppie, the orphaned child who came into his life by chance, becomes the salvation of his humanity and restores all that he once lost.

A few years ago, Hollywood modernized this story in a movie starring Steve Martin as Silas.  The movie is “A Simple Twist of Fate,” and I recommend it to anyone interested in the story (don’t post hate comments for this, but I’d rather watch the movie than read the book any day!).  Of course, the movie is not a substitute for the book as an assignment for school, but could be watched AFTER you’ve read it. ;-)

Obviously, Silas Marner by George Eliot is a literary classic and therefore has merit, but it’s definitely not my favorite classic.  I give Silas Marner 3 out of 5 stars.

Friday Fill-Ins ~ Bury the Chihauhau in the Backyard, Silas

 

1. Picking up a cardboard box that had blown into the street was my last random act of kindness.

2. Another place is needed for the bodies as the crawl space and backyard are full.

3. The victim of a road-rage shooting, the inside of Ed’s car was covered in matters of the heart.

4. Coffee, tea or IV drip of high-octane caffeinated glucose water.

5. I made it home safely while Ed suffered an agonizing death because we took separate paths. (I just read Dexter in the Dark, a book about the irascible, charming, serial killing forensics officer Dexter Morgan)

6. Our house rings with the sounds of bickering and tattling which reminds me that there is three teenage sisters living here.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to finishing Silas Marner by George Eliot (it’s a reread), tomorrow my plans include going to the library to watch “Beverly Hills Chihauahau” with my daughters (we have been wanting to see that movie for almost a year now, ever since seeing the first trailer, but our small town theater didnt’ have it)  and Sunday, I want to have finished Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson and to have managed a Sunday Salon post, as well!

TSS – Why Did I Go Into Labor Day?!

Today is one of those days all parents go through:  What the hell was I thinking when I said I wanted kids?  Yesterday was a humdinger with them, as well.  I figured it was because I was twenty pages from the end of Confessions of a Contractor that they wouldn’t let me have a moment of peace.  But today tells me they’re really just switched on in extreme fight mode right now.  Anything and everything to get each other to squeal. 

Gwen’s whining and crying because Maggie’s not happy with anything she does.  She tries to make “that little brat” (her words) happy, but she doesn’t like anything.  In Gwen’s defense, Maggie does have a problem with graciousness.  Try as I might to get her to understand tact and good manners, she prefers brutal honesty and refuses to even show gratitude for the other person’s effort.

HOWEVER… Gwen has a problem poking, teasing, irritating, and in general being an ass to as many people she can at the same time.  Don’t get me wrong, she’s a very loving and sweet child, but she has an obnoxious streak she likes to tap into, as well.  And, sadly… she comes by it honestly.  My mom loved singing a little nursery rhyme to me:

There was a little girl,
Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good,
She was very good indeed,
But when she was bad she was horrid.

– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

So why am I complaining that I’m getting paybacks?  We all know what paybacks are…  My mom reminds me of that, too.

Sammi, my oldest… She’s being descent… I guess.  She’s finally cleaning her room -I’ve only been telling her for a week now- and ran over something with the vacuum cleaner -the NEW vacuum cleaner- and now it’s smoking.  Thank God I chose the 3 year warranty.  She doesn’t want to take her meds (she’s possibly schizophrenic and too young to diagnose) , so that’s one battle.  She’s fifteen -I’m convince “teenager” is a mental illness- and very good at it.  If teenage-hood was an Olympic sport, she’d take the Gold for her signature Eye roll, tongue click, sigh, thigh slap, shocked face look with a whining “Oh My GOSH!”

Multiply the girl in the following video by three, then make them all actively irritating the hell out of each other, and you’ll have what my house has been like for the last couple days:

ANYWAY… that’s my venting rant…

I’m horrible at getting back into a habit… I know this and yet I let myself slip out of the habit of reading. I finally managed to finish Confessions of a Contractor, which I had started a couple weeks ago before my grandma died. My mom’s visit was a week without books… and gladly so. I didn’t want to miss a minute with her, and the books will be on the shelves and desk after she went home. But then the next week I drug my feet getting back into it. Contractor was a great book, and perfect for what was going on, it was just me being lazy. I need a personal assistant and planner… and maybe a task master to crack the whip when I get off task.

It doesn’t help that I signed up on Second Life. It’s an absolutely, stupidly, waste of time. And yet I go back. It’s addictive. The out-of-body sensation of exploring in other rooms and other floors is wicked! AND the avatar flies around in a 3-D world… admittedly, I can see how people get caught up in it. BUT I can quit whenever I want :-D

Last night I took the heathens to the movies. I finished and reviewed Contractor, and wanted to get away from the house. The choices are slim here in Loganland: Babylon AD and Step Brothers. I have a 9, 14, and 15 year old, so Step Brother wasn’t even a consideration… after watching Dewey Cox, I don’t think anything John C Reilly does is appropriate for my daughters. So… we trekked off to Babylon.

Here’s a trailer of the movie:

If you haven’t seen the movie, let me give you a quick summary. Toorop (Vin Diesel) is living in a post-nuclear Russia, unable to return to the US because he’s on a terrorist list. He’s hired by a Russian mob-type character named Gorsky (Gérard Depardieu) to pick up Aurora (Mélanie Thierry), who is not-quite-right in the head, and deliver her to Gorsky’s contact in New York City. Michelle Yeoh plays Sister Rebecca of the Noelites, who is Aurora’s guardian, joins them in the trip. Along the way, they are shot at, blown up, and Toorop dies… but it doesn’t end there.

To be honest, I wanted to see the movie for one and a half reasons: Vin Diesel is hot, and I like Michelle Yeoh’s acting and martial arts moves. Yes, the action was a BIG incentive, but the movie reminded me of this weeks Booking Through Thursday question: The story is the most important part of any tale, book or movie. Babylon A.D. was sooo weak on story. The first fifty minutes or so was really cool, and I was visually blown away by the action, the future-world concepts, the “What’ll happen next,” and the mystery of what’s up with Aurora. BUT… then it fell to crap. The story was weak and seriously lacking. All of us, except Sammi, walked away from the theater shaking our heads and trying to figure out WTF?! happened in the story.

POSSIBLE SPOILERS:
Wait, she was grown in an artificial uterus with a computer as the momma? and where the hell did the twins come from? and WHY oh WHY? is one white and one black? HUH? If I’d have gotten up in the middle of the movie, I would have been convinced all my questions had been answered during those minutes.

Has anyone read the book, Babylon A. D. ? Can you answer these missing chunks of story? Even Vin Diesel wasn’t worth sitting through this movie. :-p

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 494 other followers