Kiddo is turning 5 this month and my best friend won’t be here the day of, so Mommy, Tia, and the Nugget did a birthday Girls Night Out a tad bit early.
We started with reservations at Bucco di Beppo, at the kitchen table. I thought the kiddo would be riveted by the concept of hanging out in the kitchen and watching food get made and processed through the expo line. In the future, she informed me, she wants to sit in the real restaurant. She ate pepperoni pizza, toured the whole restaurant, and inspected the restrooms, with no idea that this adventure was not the main event of the evening.
We took an after dinner stroll through Party City where she declined a new Tinker Bell costume because she was fully satisfied with her old one. Practical and not-as-indulgent-as-I-thought kid I’ve got.
Finally, in the parking lot of Peter Pan 360 – the plan was revealed.
“So, because I’m not going to be here for your birthday, I wanted to give you your present early? Do you want it.” (I’m definitely paraphrasing my best friend. This quote should not hold up in court.
She nodded profusely, despite the fact that she had been insisting to me all morning that birthday surprises could NOT happen on a day that was not her birthday. “YOU HAVE TO DO SURPRISES FOR ME ON MY BIRTHDAY IF IT’S FOR MY BIRTHDAY.” That is a direct quote, screaming caps and all, from my daughter just hours before. And should hold up in court. It also included some foot stomping. I’ve never seen someone so upset at the very idea of getting a present too early.
“Do you want to wear your Tinker Bell costume?” One of us asked.
She shook her head no, but as it dawned on her that I had packed it in the bag that was sitting in the car to her left she quickly changed her mind.
I do not have pictures of my adorable child donned in a bright green fairy costume as we attended Peter Pan because she was too cool for school and uninterested in photography last night. But I’m ok with that, we actually managed to be the people who were completely IN the moment all night, and I love that.
So what’s this magical Peter Pan performance surprise we took her to?
[T]he theater is the world’s first fully 360-degree projected backdrop for a live, theatrical performance with the largest surround CGI (computer-generated imagery) venue in the world. There are 12 projectors that deliver 10 million pixels on 15,000 square feet. 400 square miles of virtual London were rendered and it took 100 computers four weeks to create the Hi Resolution images. If a single computer had been used, it would have taken 8 years to render the images. – http://www.theblondeblogger.com
And it’s in a circus style pop-up tent!
My precocious darling spent the first 15 minutes of the show asking me how they got the pictures on the ceiling. I tried to explain the concept of a projector but – thankfully – the show was too loud for us to communicate effectively (which also meant we weren’t disturbing the rest of the audience). I was able to pull up videos online when we got home and tell her about it then.
Once understanding the mechanics of the show was put off for later, she really got into the magic of it all. Her great critique is that Tinker Bell wears pink instead of green and this bothered her. She insisted they needed her to play Tink and asked to go on stage – a lot – because, after all, Peter Pan needed her. (I thought the performing Tink was pretty darn cool.)
There’s a 20 minute intermission about an hour into the show. Popcorn and drinks were purchased, restrooms were visited I was pleased to discover the portable restrooms were real flushies and a thousand times cleaner than I anticipated. A little disappointed that they ran out of coffee.
After the show, there was a line for a meet and greet with a few of the actors, but being that little girl is still not quite five and it was getting late, we skipped that bit of fun.
Should it come to town again, we would do a repeat adventure in a heartbeat.
Title: Casey of Cranberry CoveAuthor: Susan Kotch
Genre: Teen Fiction
Publisher: Hibernian Publishing
Length: 207 pages
Ice Cream Parlours, boogie boarding, kayaking, sail boat racing, pizza, high school parties, and hunky life guards… mix some teen angsty romance in and you’ve got a cute beach read that is perfect for summer. Susan Kotch delivers the perfect one with surfer girl Casey Whitman playing the role of Gidget.
Casey of Cranberry Cove is a fun read and my only regret while reading is that I wasn’t doing it in the sand, baking on the beach. I love reading on the beach and Casey is a girl after my own heart – a sun-baking reader and go-getter who isn’t afraid to get dirty.
I’m looking forward to future adventures of Casey’s, but I’m hoping she keeps her head on straight and doesn’t turn into a ninny. I’m also hoping she doesn’t leave her beach life behind in all the excitement of growing up. Casey reminds me a bit of the Robin Jones Gunn Christy Miller series my older sister had on her shelf growing up, I think girls that like one series would enjoy the other.
I needed a vacation. I’ve been needing one for quite sometime, but it took a bit of time, planning, impromptu not planning, and selfishness to make it happen.
I went to Dallas for a few days, with the nervous approval of my husband, left my daughter with my mother; where I ate, drank, and was merry. And got a tattoo.
The tattoo occurred toward the end, but was the plan from the beginning.
It went a bit like this…
We didn’t book a hotel. It’s Dallas. It was Tuesday. We thought we’d find one. And we did. About ten hotels later. Note to self, book a hotel no matter how silly your destination. I truly never believed this until this trip. I very much enjoyed the fact that in the last ten years, if I wanted a hotel and was somewhere, I just arrived and walked in. Then again, I haven’t gotten out much in the last ten years.
Post Hotel Finding: My old college chums and my best friend since high school all crashed into one group and found ourselves at Goodfriend, a bar and grill with amazing fried pickles and ghost ranch, on the first evening. There I discovered what I shall now always call fancy whiskey, although it’s actually a Classic Whiskey Sour. This is not your Chili’s or dive bar Whiskey with sweet and sour – this involves egg whites and shaking and frothy latte like smoothness and basically heaven in a cup of whiskey. This is also where we discovered that there was whiskey in the water. Not literally, we just found it very easy to become happily plastered there. Props to Matt, the owner, who is amazing. And to the bartender who got me hooked on those Classic Whiskey Sours.
Moving on… The Double Wide. Yes, that is the name of a bar. Complete with toilet bowls serving as planters that provide extra seating. I laughed, I cried, I was in a ridiculous bar with an appropriately fitting name, and strange men trying to talk to my friends who handled them much better than I would. My response would have been “Go AWAY.” But my friends are way more classy than I am and found themselves saying, “It’s been nice talking to you, but you’re crashing girls night.”
Wednesday, we got pedicures and ate Mexican food. Margaritas, bookstores (The Lucky Dog), lots of coffee, a Ton’s Mongolian Grill Reunion dinner at 7:30 with even more college chums. More bars – Bowen House (way overpriced but I got some more whiskey in) and The Ginger Man (fun beer). It was good to see old friends.
Thursday morning involved Cultivar Coffee and the most delicious vanilla latte I ever had. There was a little hole in the wall taco joint across from it on Peavy called El Ranchito. If I lived in that neighborhood, that’s where all my money would be going… to $1.50 homemade breakfast tacos.
And finally, some shopping, lunch and coffee, another bar visit (The Libertine) where I refrained because I was about to get inked, I found myself at Death and Glory Tattoo. Where a very personable guy named Cole Alexander Davis was able to put Jane Austen’s words and handwriting on my arm forever.
“I am half agony, half hope.”
It was a shockingly cozy experience. My last tattoo happened in a place that felt very clinical to me. The guy was nice, but I don’t remember his name. Here, I realized why people find the practice so addicting. It’s like finding a bar you love, or a coffeehouse you can’t live without. It’s not just about the finished product, or the drinks being made properly, it is very much about ambiance and whether or not you have managed to find a place that seems like home away from home. They have a delightful front porch and a cat that lurked but didn’t touch me. I could have stayed there for hours after, but we had more drinking to do.
One of the guys there said that people tend to tell them their whole life story. They know everyone’s business because they are sort of treated like bartenders and shrinks. I can see that. I was too awkward to take advantage of that ambiance, but I definitely loved it.
My lovely JJ got a tattoo with me. It is also a literary reference to a poem that was read at her wedding. “And then this moment…” This is us, back at Goodfriend, being incandescently happy.
Friday… we had more tacos and Cultivar. We visited the Black Forest Cafe and the Flagship Half Price Books. We drove the many miles home, mostly listening to oldies.
Thanks for my trip, Danielle. I know it was stressful, but it was also lovely.
I used to do a Weekly Low Down on Kids Books. Well, I used to pretend to do them, and really they were haphazard and sporadic at best, but sort of happened a few times a month at least.
I’m back. I’m back with a mission to share all the marvelous books we’ve been reading. Because, well, we have been reading more than we’ve let on. I know, our silence is stifling.
Title: The Snail and the Whale
Illustrator: Axel Scheffler
I bought The Snail and the Whale on impulse. I’ve been trying to do less of that lately, but it was too darn cute and the kiddo had been working on a snail painting. Plus, I was feeling a little bit guilty over keeping Christmas as sparse as I was.
A few new picture books seemed a good addition to a Jake and the Neverland Pirate lego set (the third set to polish off the Jake collection); but we purposely are trying to keep Christmas gifting simple… “What you want, what you need, what you’ll wear, and what you’ll read.” Accumulatively, we’d like for her to get no more than 4 presents from each category once all the grandparents have pitched in. Ideally I’d keep it to four items total, but I’m practical and I know the family members won’t let that fly.
So she got the rest of her desired lego collection, a Frozen tiara and tambourine, socks, new boots, and a handful of new picture books. There were some stocking stuffers and some other odds and ends – a geode science project for her school work, new paints, a painting apron, some canvases – and they were given to her in waves, not all at once on Christmas day. It gave her time to enjoy each gift before getting overwhelmed with another. We enjoyed it. She was spoiled without being spoiled. It felt like a nice simple holiday, yet kiddo managed to get everything she’d asked for.
Although The Snail and the Whale feels like a summer book – crossing oceans, travelling the world, visiting islands – we were excited to read it while cozied up in blankets and pjs. I can’t wait to read it to her at the beach once it warms up, though.
After reading this book for the second or third time, I finally asked kiddo, “So what are your thoughts?”
Kiddo, age four, says, “Other kids should read it, that’s my thought! But how about we put it where people can’t find it. So no one can tear it up.”
I think she was missing the point of the conversation. We started talking about the illustrations and what she thought. She likes the pictures, but thinks they got the font “mixed up.” I think the font is appropriately cute, but she’s learning to read and I think some of the swirly snail words were hard for her to recognize.
The book, however, is wonderful. The rhymes are fun, the pictures are fun. It’s all about adventure, having courage, and taking care of your friends. It’s definitely a great gift book for any little one, no matter what season.
The Glorian Legacy Series by A.L. Raine is about to begin.
Not long before it’s in print for you to read and enjoy! For now, here’s the cover!
Cover art by Gershom Wetzel of Aoristos.
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Genre: Defies Genres, but most commonly found in Historical or Romance sections, sometimes Fantasy
Length: 1059 pages
Seriously, the first thing I exclaimed when I was done reading via illness induced three day marathon was “Holy Crap on a Cracker!” Clearly I need to find new expletives. That particular one was not worthy of the book it came on the heels of.
As always, Diana Gabaldon is fabulous and a wonderful storyteller. Where I’ve usually plucked my way through her books, reading a little here and a little there as a fairy tale adventure before bed – this time I just plowed right through until I was done.
I picked up the third installment of Gabaldon’s book – a first edition mass market paperback from November 1994 that life threw in my lap somewhere along the way – after watching the new Starz series to date. Putting Gabaldon’s story to film has been a long time coming, but it was worth the way. I watched 6 episodes in a row, tucked neatly in my bed with a bag of jalapeno chips and lots of hot tea. Don’t let me fool you, I’d been planning my all-day cave viewing for nearly two weeks, and it would have happened whether I’d been sick that day or not, but being sick definitely helped me get away with it.
See, I planned on writing a review for the show to accompany my other Diana Gabaldon related posts. But the show doesn’t really need one. They’ve done so well, in my opinion, and followed the story hook, line, and sinker. Although I find my fairly prude self fast forwarding through the sex scenes, I think the show is wonderful.
Especially awesome was seeing the author – Diana Gabaldon – pop up in The Gathering episode. She has such a lovely and obvious face, I was so excited for her to be IN her own creation in that manner.
Naturally, when I ran out of episodes I sought out the next installment of the book – having started reading the series ages ago, but never finished. (I can’t finish it all at once, I have to savor it.)
You can imagine my squeals of joy when this happened:
Just thought I’d share and send two of my favorite people to promote some online love.
Title: Fairy Bell Sisters: Sylva and the Fairy Ball
Author: Margaret McNamara
Illustrator: Julia Denos
Kiddo is on a Peter Pan kick. We’re reading bits of Peter Pan every night before bed. She’s watching the Disney movie as I type this. A few months back she watched the ballet.
Not just Peter Pan, though. She loves ALL things Neverland. Jake & the Neverland Pirates is a huge favorite and she’s dying for the lego set. I’m making her wait until her birthday. Speaking of birthdays, the child wants a Neverland themed party. She will dress as Tinker Bell, she says, someone must be Peter Pan. Everyone else has to be a lost boy. If we could get one of the grandfathers or uncles to be Captain Hook I think the girl might die of happiness on the spot. She loves Captain Hook. Also, she has an unusual amount of adoration for crocodiles and clocks.
So, naturally, when she saw a book at the library with a fairy she squealed, “Tinka Bell.” Her “er” sounds don’t always makes it all the way out of her mouth. She’s only three. I explained that the book was about Tinker Bell’s little sisters. She was blinded by fairy wings and shoved them in the library bag.
Warning to other Moms: THIS IS NOT A STORY ABOUT TINKER BELL.
My daughter had to remind me of this on nearly every page. I cannot express enough how disappointed she was…
Until the TROLLS arrived.
Apparently we are a troll-loving family. Both me and my daughter loved The Three Billy Goats Gruff (my grandmother read it to me when I spent the night at her house and kiddo has her own updated version we read all the time).
She is fascinated by The Hobbit. Mostly, I think, for the troll scene. She has seen the live action movie, but she relishes the 1970’s cartoon.
And of course – we adore Fizz & Peppers. I adore Fizz & Peppers and I think she loves it a bit because I do – but it is heaven. And full of trolls.
Ultimately, she enjoyed the book, but decided she didn’t want to read the rest of the series yet. At the end of the Fairy Bell ball story there is a blueberry birthday cake – and a blueberry fairy cake recipe. So, naturally, we baked. Oddly enough, we had freshly picked blueberries in our fridge… picked by M.G. King (the author of Fizz & Peppers!) and delivered to our house!
Another odd coincidence for this reading adventure… take a look at these chapters:
The books have nothing in common. And somehow managed to have everything in common. It was one of those reading experiences where we could not sit down and read one without thinking of the other. Note: Chapter three of the Fairy Bell Sisters book ends on that page. On the next page begins chapter four.
Til the next reading adventure…
1. the science that deals with the origins, physical and cultural development, biological characteristics, and social customs and beliefs of humankind.
2. the study of human beings’ similarity to and divergence from other animals.
3. the science of humans and their works.
4. Also called philosophical anthropology. the study of the nature and essence of humankind.
1585–95; anthropo- + -logy
1. the action or practice of a person who reads.
2. Speech. the oral interpretation of written language.
3. the interpretation given in the performance of a dramatic part, musical composition, etc.: an interesting reading of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony.
4. the extent to which a person has read; literary knowledge: a man of wide reading.
5. matter read or for reading: a novel that makes good reading.
This is a challenging post, in that I could talk for days and days, possibly write a whole website dedicated to the topic, so I’m going to do my best to remain concise and not chase too many rabbits.
The blogger of So Many Books wrote a post about the Anthropology of Read, which I reblogged (click the link and it will take you there). Follow that post even further and the blogger wrote another on Auden’s Eden Meme. Combining these two posts into one thought, this is my anthropological response concerning my reading habits.
“Though the pleasure which works of art give us must not be confused with other pleasures that we enjoy, it is related to all of them simply by being our pleasure and not someone else’s. All the judgments, aesthetic or moral, that we pass, however objective we try to make them, are in part a rationalization and in part a corrective discipline of our subjective wishes. So long as a man writes poetry or fiction, his dreams of Eden are his own business, but the moment he starts writing literary criticism, honesty demands that he describe it to his readers, so that they may be in the position to judge his judgments.” – from Auden’s “Reading”
So following Auden’s checklist, here is my Eden:
Mountains that butt up against a beach, with open fields in between. I like oceans that beat against cliffs, good soil to plant, large trees to climb, and somehow still manage to lay in the sand whenever I want. Take about 10 acres of the Rocky Mountains and stick them in the Florida Keys. If you manage to surround it all with Texas landscape that would be even better. Clearly, it’s a dream world.
70 year round, I’ll take an occasional hot summer in the 90’s to 100’s. After all, I’m a born and raised Texan.
Ethnic Origin of Inhabitants
I’m a big fan of melting pots.
“English will be the official language but all languages are encouraged (even Elvish and Klingon) and everyone should know more than one.” That’s a direct quote from the So Many Books response to Auden. I see no need to alter that statement in any way.
Weights and Measures
I’m not concerned with this. I’ll let someone who cares decide.
I’m a Christian hippie. I’ll take Jesus with a side of dirt & trees.
Size of Capital
Small indeed. Close, personal friends. If I want a break from this closeness, I’ll take a vacation out of Eden.
Form of Government
In very small governments, I’m ok with elected monarchies with limited terms. I like to call a spade a spade, and in my research I never see true democracy at work, it’s always bastardized into an oligarchy or some other nonsense.
Sources of Natural Power
Wind, water, solar… the idea that anything was ever anything but amazes me. Wind turbines, watermills, solar panels, this makes sense to me.
Farming, arts and humanities. Science would remain of the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang variety. I think science is cool, but a lack of tech would be such a nice reprieve from the rest of the world.
Means of Transport
Bicycles, boats, hiking and swimming. Of course, from the mountains to the beach and over some landscape… that requires at least one community zipline. Also, I love horses and would definitely encourage horseback riding.
Self-sustained, energy efficient estates. Design – To each their own. Although, I see a lot of bungalows, Victorian estates, farmhouses, and hobbit holes.
Domestic Furniture and Equipment
Again, to each their own, but made by hand is a marvelous thing. In the kitchen, all I need is an oven, a French press, and a coffee bean grinder. If someone slipped me a bread machine, though, I wouldn’t complain.
Simplicity makes me happy. But again, to each their own. If someone likes frills, I have no desire to stop them. There would probably be an abundance of denim and cotton in my Eden though.
Sources of Public Information
Newspapers, journals, and gatherings over food at a meeting house. My population is quite small, remember?
This would be up to the people. I see gnomes and literary-like shrines in public gardens.
Choirs, street theatre, and public readings of important books. Book clubs and bands… I come from a Baptist background, so weekly potlucks are sort of a must.
If this is my Eden… If this is end result of my reading… if 30 years of a life devouring books has brought me to this, where did I begin? How did I evolve?
Anthropology… archeology… the two go a bit hand in hand to me. I would like to go back to school and get a Baccalaureate in Anthropology & Archeology. I love that niche of history and science. I always thought the Indiana Joneses of the world were the most amazing. Amelia Peabody… As a child I was riveted by adventures, but was still very much a typical girl – no, correction, a typical tomboy with girlish tendencies.
I read an awful lot of Nancy Drew. I liked historical things like Little Women and Gentle Annie. Jo March, of course, my favorite of the sisters; Gentle Annie was a civil war nurse running out into the battlefield in the face of danger. I was, and still am, fascinated by doers.
Hatshepsut, Nefertiti, and Cleopatra intrigue me, but I have a literary foundation in all things Jane Austen – the fierce butting heads with the feminine.
My reading is much like my real life – a black belt, with hair usually down to her butt, who loves to get her toes done. I look for brave warriors who want to bask in the sun with some flowers. I desire the intelligence to drive to take care of people, protect them both in battle and emotionally by serving them foodstuffs and coffee. Because this is who I am, this is what I look for in my reading – in fiction, in history, in science, in all of it. I try to find people in all the thousands of years of literature, who are (as Anne Shirley would say) kindred spirits.
Title: Voltaire’s Calligrapher
Author: Pablo De Santis
Length: 149 pages
You know it’s been a rough week when you’ve managed to 1. worry your best friends 2. drive your husband batty 3. inadvertently offend your readers 4. write not one, but two overly pouty blog posts and 5. manage to take a whole week to read 149 pages.
Especially when those 149 pages are so delicious.
Not just delicious, witty and divine.
De Santis doesn’t just write about calligraphy and a master calligrapher. He manages to make his words sound like calligraphy. And his story is woven with the same sly craftiness as runaway ink.
Normally, I would recommend someone read this in one sitting over a cup of the best dark coffee blend they have. I didn’t do that. I spent a week sucking down a chapter at a time – and his chapters are only a page to three at best.
There are castles and print shops, automatons, and poisonous fish… dark corners and forbidden candlelight… Oh my! What terrifying fun! You won’t regret diving into the adventure.