Friday, April 24, 2009

Addition by Toni Jordan

Addition Addition by Toni Jordan

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
Do you count things? Unconsciously (perhaps) number the stairs you're walking up, or the amount of ravioli on your plate? We all count and measure things to a certain extent: 30 even minutes on the exercise bike, 2 cups of flour in this bread recipe, a 72" x 80" space for an entertainment center... For Grace, absolutely EVERYTHING must be counted, numbered and organized. In groups of 10: 30 books per shelf, 10 almonds for a snack, and the number of poppy seeds on her daily coffee at the cafe determine the number of even bites she must take to consume it. But this is normal right? Just as taking an exact 1000 steps to the supermarket to buy 10 bananas and 10 pieces of chicken and 100 beans for a meal that will cook in exactly 30 minutes so she can eat, read 10 pages, brush her teeth and hair with 100 strokes and be in bed by 10:00 is, right? Unless she has a panic attack and has to count each bristle in her toothbrush before she can use it, and every dish in the kitchen counted and recorded (-1 when in use of course!)... But these are issues everyone deals with, right? RIGHT? Only Seamus is her grip on reality, who has attached himself to her even though she stole 1 banana from him in the check out line to complete her bunch of 10 (disaster avoided!), and with whom she can forget her numbers briefly during beautiful sex~

An Obsessive Compulsive Counting Disorder of this type can become disabling when it becomes too dangerous to drive because you can't look away from the speedometer in fear of not going EXACTLY the speed limit. This book was very thought-provoking, and hit a little too close to home for me- I'm giving it a 5 because I count. Who doesn't?

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

"Heroes of the Valley" by Jonathan Stroud

Heroes of the Valley Heroes of the Valley by Jonathan Stroud

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
I was excited to pick up a copy of this book because Jonathan Stroud's Bartimaeus trilogy is one of my favorites! While some of his subtle humor shines through in 'Heroes of the Valley," his writing style in this novel is quite different. He picks an unseemingly protagonist- a short stocky boy of Svein's House with an unwise tongue that often gets him into trouble, and sends him on a quest to avenge his uncle's murder on his own- a week's journey across the valley to Hork Hakonsson's castle where he discovers he doesn't have the courage to do what he set out to do. But destruction follows in his wake- with the help of Aud of the House of Arnesson, a tall fair-haired and strong minded maid, can Halli Sveinsson build the courage to protect his House fromn the Hakonssons and the monster Trows beyond the cairn wall protected by the Founders, and heroes of all the Houses of the Valley...?

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Morning Run With Gretchen

Yay!!! My back has healed enough to let me do some longer distances- this morning I made the beautiful drive up to Donner to run with ultra-runner Gretchen. She is as nice as she is fast, and this morning's run was well matched since she was sore from the Diablo Marathon, and I am still working on my endurance (and being careful with my achy back). (Not to mention that I'm slow anyway.) We mostly chatted around the lake, and it was the perfect day for a nice easy run-about 6.5 to 7 miles around. It was beautiful out! Here is a picture of... well, of a tree, but I meant to get the road shoulder that we set out on.

We also ran on a nice stretch of trail on the east side of the lake by the park too, and it made me wish I had brought my camera on the run. There was a little bit of snow that we had to walk over, but for the most part, can I just say how lovely it was to run on pine needles? So soft and cushion-y, and fragrant! Here is a quick picture when we got back to the car, thirsty, but not too sweaty:

I meant to take a picture of the mountains on the the west side of Donner, but forgot. Instead I took a picture on the way back out the front of my windshield just to give a taste of how beautiful it was today~

Thanks Gretchen for the invite! Hope your soreness is all gone now, and that we can run together again soon~ :)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Scheels 5K Hop-A-Long

Yep, back to the races! Finally my back is healing enough to do some short runs (not always in the morning because it takes a while to loosen up), and today was one such day! I forgot my camera, so no pictures of me in my bunny suit today. Darn. ;) Scheels hosted it's second ever 5K this morning benefiting the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Northern Nevada, the Hop-A-Long, and lucky for me, there were not many in attendance. I didn't set any PRs (I did on their 5K course in November, but this one was different- more of an out and back instead of a loop around the Marina, and shorter?)- actually I was over a minute slower because I was being conservative since I was running mostly on concrete, and because I haven't been able to train like I was last year. But that's okay! I ran with my friend Ben who plays trumpet with me in the UNR Alumni Wind Symphony (who totally smoked me in the sprint to the finish!). But I got second place in my age group again! My time was 26:03, but the woman who beat me actually was the fastest female of the day and came in at 17:17. No chances there for a gold. But I am happy, and along with my medal, I got a $10 gift card to Scheels! Yay! I wonder if I can buy anything with that? Socks maybe? Yeah- more running socks!

I'll post more here when the official results come out.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Climbing with Uncle Scotty

Today I took the boys to Rock Sport for a little rock climbing time since my mom was there anyway with some of her students. Sean is a great climber, full of enthusiasm and gusto, but Ashton is afraid of the rope. Not of climbing (he went higher than he should without a rope on!), just of the rope, and it moving. I spent quite a while explaining and showing him how it works, and that it is his friend since it keeps him from falling. It took him most of the 2 hours we were there to warm up to the rope- I think bouldering without a rope helped him warm up to climbing, and then he didn't do so bad top-roping. I got some good pictures and some great videos of our day.

Here is Sean on top-rope (this was about as far up as he would go):

And Ashton:

They have a "balance rope" for you to practice on- Scott is leading Ashton across:

And my mom and Sean take a turn (Scott looks a little glazed here, eh? :)

I also did a little belaying for Scott. I should mention that he works at the climbing gym in Berkeley, and is both a regional and national route setter. He sets more routes himself then some other gyms change their routes in a year. He climbs everyday, and is one talented (and ripped!) man.

We spent quite a bit of time in the bouldering room since the boys didn't like being tied down nearly as much as getting to climb up a short route and jumping on to the crash pad as much as they wanted. I like this succession of Scott and Ashton climbing at the same time, and Scott traversing right over him without so much as a pause.

And on to the videos! The boys always BEG to be swung. This means clipping them in, and then actually getting them off the ground. Basically this means that I have to tighten the rope as much as possible, sit down on the floor to raise up the kid on the other end, and as I stand up, I have to keep the rope (and kid) in place with my left hand as I yank the slack in with my right hand. This used to not be such a big deal, but with an almost 60 lb. child it takes a bit of effort. After doing this once with each of them, I just had Scott lift them up for me instead. :) Thanks Scotty! Here is Sean on the end of the rope- sorry about the shaking. This isn't always the safest thing to do, but how can I deny them when they enjoy it so much?

And Ashton's turn:

Back to the bouldering room. Here is Ashton climbing (quick like a monkey!)

And one final one of Scott. :)

I wish we could go more often- it's addicting, but expensive.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter with my Boys

This year is the very first year in the past six that I got to put together the boys' Easter baskets, their egg hunt, and dye eggs with them. :) Their grandparents have always been so eager to prepare these celebrations for them, and I've always been more than happy to let them do all the planning. (Yes, this means a double Easter for them, and they loved every minute of it! And the double sets of candy baskets.) But with both sets of grandparents out of town this weekend, I got to prepare a special day for just the three of us. (Kevin played in two lovely Easter services, one of which we attended. I was also supposed to play, but I had just as much fun playing the Easter Bunny. :) So! To the photos! First thing after church, the boys ran around the house searching every nook and cranny for their baskets. Took them awhile because the E.B. was pretty clever. Here is Sean with his find, and a play Blackberry! Made Kevin jealous, that's for sure.

It took Ashton several more minutes to find his, because I hid the second room they generally aren't allow to play in (the music room), and so he didn't think he could look in there. After I finally took him through each room, he found it.

Notice the edible grass? It reminds me of a slightly sweetened stringy version of the Eucharist they give you during communion. I let them have some candy after eating a large healthy breakfast, and of course the first thing Sean asked me was if he could eat his chocolate bunny.
Me: "I don't know if you should eat the whole thing, Sean. It might give you a tummy ache."
Sean: "Well, I'll just try a little bit at first. Just his ears. Then I'll see how I feel."
Me, 5 minutes later: "... ..." Jaw slack; I don't know why it surprised me that he'd finish it that quickly, or the amount of chocolate he was wearing all over his face. Good thing it was hollow!

After distracting them with Spongebob on the tube, I managed to hide some eggs in the front yard (they had Jelly Bellies in them instead of chocolate so they wouldn't get all melty and gross) since they'd be able to see me if I hid them in the back. Here is a successful Sean after pawing through my lilys:

And Ashton in one of the bushes (aren't I a stinker?):

I hid quite a few in this area since it has the most vegetation. I know the grass isn't very green yet, but we keep getting bouts of winter! (If you look really close at the White Ash on the left, you can see a cream colored egg in its branches- these were the tricky ones, because they never think to lift their eyes from the ground!)

They found all but one egg. Yeah. I don't know WHAT happened to that last one. Maybe the Easter Bunny stole it when I went in the house to tell the boys he'd paid them a visit...

Then, on to decorating the eggs! This is the first year they are really old enough to dye eggs on their own (not that I didn't hover, mind you). First, they wrote on the eggs and drew pictures, and then they lined up the eggs, one in each color.

Careful turning, now...

And finally, the finished product! We painted sparkle paint over stencils, as well as drew flowers and smiley faces with glitter pens. Aren't they pretty?

A very satisfying day, and plenty of time outside. Couldn't have asked for a more beautiful sunny day to celebrate Easter! (Could've used a little more sunscreen though-oops!) Happy Easter everyone!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Beautiful Rainy Nevada

I HAD to stop on my way home from work to take a few pictures. (The 3rd to last time I'll BE driving home from the South Valleys Library!) Here are a few I took, down the long lonely looking road... I love the texture of the clouds in this one~

If I cropped this next dark photo, (and taken it in B&W) it could almost be an Ansel Adams, yeah? :)

The sun was just going down, and its brilliance was shining through the bottom fringes of cloud.

(It's worth it to click on each and make it bigger, I promise!)