Saturday, January 29, 2011

Happy 17th birthday Kendall!

Kendall is 17! Her birthday was last Thursday, the 27th. (Yeah, I know I'm late - you didn't have to mention it!)

Look at this cutie patutie! Kendall is just a doll. She's a sweetheart who gets along with everyone she meets. She has such a kind heart and a great sense of humor. She does have her occasional moods (in spite of me telling her to snap out of it because she's not a moody person) but all in all she is happy and pleasant and fun.

I am really enjoying her company as the last girl in the house and I'm especially enjoying her clean room! (That counts for a lot in the quest to be the favorite child!!) She is so helpful and considerate and just plain fun to have around. I just love this girl!

For her birthday, she and her "twin sister from another mother" (Chelsea) decided to spend their birthday shopping out of town. So the two of them headed to Tri-Cities armed only with a GPS and a credit card. They made it back alive! The credit cards were well worn but the car was in good shape so all is well.

Kendall thought that the shopping day was her only present but we had a surprise for her (and by we, I mean I! Although David does get the credit for saying yes and paying for it, so I guess that counts for something.)

Here is a picture of Loola Mae just before Kendall's family party. (This is for Kylie.)

We called Kendall in to open a plethora of presents wrapped in pink. Each present had something to do with the color pink. There was a coloring book, a cook book, socks, headphones, dominoes, an umbrella, a Barbie DVD, candy, etc. and it was all pink. It was so cute because she was thrilled with each little present. I thought for sure she would get a funny look on her face that meant, "What the hec is with all these weird pink presents." But she is our sweet little Kendall and seemed happy and grateful for each one.

The very last gift she opened up was tickets for her and a few friends (plus mom - yay!) to see "Legally Blonde the Musical" in Spokane in February!

Happy Birthday, Kendall! Thanks for filling our house with love and laughter. (It's a big house so that's a lot of love and laughter!)

We love you!!!

Friday, January 21, 2011


I think it's about time to publish my 3 years worth of blogging. (So much for the goal of doing it yearly!) Help! I don't know anything about it - who, what, where, how? Is it easy? hard? affordable? expensive? I need some expert advice and I know it's out there...

Thank you - in advance!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Mockingjay Rebuttal and Blogging Etiquette...

I am so glad that at least some people agreed with me and really surprised that more didn't. I was quite flabbergasted that most of my offspring disagreed with me! What the hec??? I guess everyone has a right to their opinion - even if it's wrong. Ha Ha!

As I was discussing it in person with a few people, I remembered that I liked the first book more than I admitted in my review. I remembered that there were quite a few moments when I was lost in Suzanne Collins' imaginary games. So I just want to be sure to give credit where credit is due. (I'm sure that will mean the world to her!)

I do have to wonder if some of my kids were "skimming?" Some of the missing details may not have been so apparent if one were skimming. I am not a good skimmer. I don't know why but I'm just sure I am going to miss vital information if I don't read every word. It's not a conscious choice, I just can't skim.

I loved all of your comments (except Kacey's - her opinion means more to me than most and she didn't even share it in detail so let's make her all feel bad about that.)

Kathy - no one has ever called me a supermodel before and I'm sure no one ever will again. You were already one of my favorite people but now you have been inducted into my personal Hall of Fame. (Sorry, there's no trophy or plaque... not even a t-shirt.) Congratulations!

Brenda - you called me adorable and that is so generous! It's not enough to get you into the Hall of Fame but... a few more comments like that and you can expect an invitation in the future.

Blogging etiquette:

Non-bloggers don't understand that comments mean a lot to a blogger. Not all readers realize that the comments are often more interesting than the blog. I'll often ask David what he thought of so-and-so's comments and he tells me, "I don't read the comments." I tell him that he is missing out and he needs to read the comments.

When Kacey first started her blog I would read it but I wouldn't comment because I didn't know how, but I didn't think it was a big deal. It became apparent that it meant something to Kacey so I figured out how to comment and tried to leave one when I read her entries which was an easy and fun thing to do once I understood it.

When I started my own blog, then I finally understood about the comments! It's so nice to know who is reading your blog even if someone just says "Hi!" Then some of the comments are so hilarious. Jared Bates' comments are a treat! He is so funny. So is Angie. It must run in the family! Comments are just plain fun to get.

I am thrilled that people actually take time to read my blog. That's not really why I do it. I do it mostly as a record for me of the things that are going on and I think that's why most people do it, but it's so fun to hear back from cyberspace. It is so nice to stay connected with friends and family and even nicer to find you have a connection with people you barely know and get to become better friends with them in this way. It cracks me up when people shamefully admit that they blogstalk me. No shame in that. Blogstalk away! You're all invited!!!

Now, even though I know how to comment, it doesn't always mean that I have time to comment and I think we can all appreciate that. So if you don't have time - that's okay. But let me say this on behalf of all bloggers out there...

If you are continually reading a person's blog, then please leave a comment from time to time! We have site meters. We know you are reading our blogs!! (We just don't know who you are - at least I don't. Maybe the CIA does.) I think most of us bloggers welcome readers, if not we would go private. But please... leave a comment... at least occasionally. Getting a google account is free and easy and it doesn't lead to any unwanted emails that I am aware of.

So to those of you who left your opinions of Mockingjay and dieting - thank you! I thoroughly enjoyed them. It's not too late. What is your opinion of the book? Or of dieting? Or of people not leaving comments on blogs? Now's your chance!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Random thoughts on dieting and Mockingjay


So you might be wondering how my Ideal Protein diet went? It went great! Ideal Protein works like a charm if you do it right and I rewarded myself with not one, but two pairs of jeans with sparkly pockets!! I went off IP and have been eating regularly through the holidays. Finding the right balance of exercise and regular food intake that still allows me to fit into my expensive jeans is proving challenging. Apparently my idea of how much I should be able to eat and still not gain weight is not the same as my body's. Ugh! I hate that!!!

It is so not fair that weight is so hard to lose and takes so long - yet so quick and so easy to gain back! Seriously! What sort of a system is that? It should be the same on both sides. If the weight took a long time and was hard to get off, then putting it back on should take at least the same amount of time and require some pretty intensive eating. Am I right? I'm right.

When it comes to my weight I feel like I have multiple personalities inside...

"Flo" is the happy, chubby housewife inside me who is almost 50 and who has birthed 7 kids so she has earned the right to have a poochy belly and eat what she wants. She knows that her husband loves her no matter what size she is and she also understands that nobody else in the world really cares if she is a size 8 or a size 14. Good food makes her so happy!

"Svetlana" is the supermodel inside me who thinks my extra pounds are absolutely disgusting. She is sure that if she just exhibits just a marginal amount of self-control and discipline that she can hang on to some semblance of the body type that she was born with. Svetlana does not live to eat, she eats to live.

And these two are constantly battling inside me. Who will win? Stay tuned...


So I finally finished Mockingjay. My kids all read it but I haven't allowed anyone to talk about it around me because I didn't want anyone to ruin it for me so I don't really know what anyone else thought of it. Well, if you haven't read it and plan to, then don't read any further. I won't spoil the plot or the ending for you but I am going to share my opinion - fair warning!

I hated it!!! I enjoyed Hunger Games. I didn't love the writing but I enjoyed the story and the symbolism behind it. I'm not really sure what it symbolized but I felt that there were political and religious lessons to be learned there if I was a deep enough thinker. The author didn't spell them out easily for me, like I would have preferred, but I felt that they were embedded within the plot for a smarter reader. I rarely feel that a movie can be better than a book but even as I read it, I was sure that Hunger Games - the movie was going to be way better than the book and I started looking forward to it along about Chapter 4. (I am hoping somebody does a PG version so they capture all of the adventure and only hint at the violence and gore. Too much to ask? Well, it's my dream so deal with it.)

Catching Fire was fine. I felt like it was "less than" Hunger Games in many ways. I guess I feel like the flaws in Hunger Games were magnified in Catching Fire, but I was still enjoying the story line and still convinced that the movie version of the sequel was going to be better than the book as well. For me, I didn't get lost in the books. I felt like I never forgot for a second that someone had written a story and I was reading it. Good books just take you away and it's as if no one wrote them, they just exist on their own because they happened. I feel the same way about actors in movies.

I'm no movie critic but I often judge an actor's ability on whether or not I forget who they are. Sometimes I watch a movie and think to myself, "There's Tom Cruise playing a German soldier" and I don't forget for one second that it's Tom Cruise. And then there's Meryl Streep who morphs from one life form to another and it's difficult to remember that it is the same person playing all those characters. In my opinion she is the quintessential actress. (Except for Mamma Mia! What were they thinking? And by "they" I am referring to producers, casting agents, managers, anyone involved in making that decision and Meryl herself. Oy vay! I wish I could erase that memory from my brain!! And don't even get me started on the casting of Pierce Brosnan in that movie. Seriously, what were "they" thinking? Personally, I think we were all punked! Ashton, you can reveal yourself now.)

So... back to Mockingjay! To tell you the truth, I think from the very beginning I just didn't enjoy the writing. I was intrigued by the story and impressed by its creative nature but nowhere near lost in it and that feeling got progressively worse with each book. I felt like a cat toy that was being batted back and forth. I was a pawn in a conspiracy to suck me in and get me involved in the story and the characters and then once they had me I was their prisoner to torture as they pleased. I was handcuffed so I couldn't get away and they knew it. They knew they had a captive audience so they didn't even bother to produce a quality literary product that would entice people to stay.

I felt like I was reading a 13-year-old's creative writing assignment and I could tell the 13-year-old was really proud of it. Most of the names in the book drove me crazy. I actually like the name Katniss but the majority I couldn't stand. I don't know - they just didn't flow for me. They didn't sound like they came out of the same civilization! There was a mixture of old and new and ethnic and sci-fi that just didn't gel for me. It was like a 3-year-old naming her dolls.

I thought much of the violence was gratuitous, without context and out of character. There was very little information that tied everything together. The story moved along so slowly and then bam, bam, bam - all sorts of things started happening with not nearly enough set up or history or reason for why they were happening and how it got to that point. I was ready for a giant overview of the trilogy and what it all meant and for all loose ends to be tied up and all relationships to be explained and an ending that put the world right again. You can imagine my disappointment! There were pivotal characters thrown into this third book which were never formally introduced. We knew nothing about them or where they came from or what made them who they were, yet they played a major role in the outcome.

I felt like I was reading a first draft of the third novel. I could picture the millions of corrections that were likely written in red in the margins like, "Who is this person?" "How did they get here?" "You're trying to make the song about The Hanging Tree very dramatic and purposeful when all it is is a really bad poem." "Brainwashing, fainting, sickness and extreme fatigue is not an acceptable out when you are stuck as to where to go with your characters." "You can't just introduce a random tiger-human/revolutionary/shop keeper without setting the ground work for it." (I change my mind. I am going to ruin it for you so... Spoiler alert!) "You can't just willy-nilly murder the beloved little sister in the hopes that it will make up for a crappy book!"

I felt like the ending was anti-climactic, devoid of any emotion, not in harmony with characters and plot lines, and just plain ridiculous. I am hoping beyond hope that some screenwriter fixes it and turns it into what it should have been. (I'm not sure what it should have been - but I know that wasn't it!)

I don't claim to have any expertise, I am just sharing my opinion as one who can read. I am sure that it is difficult to write a book and I am probably not giving the author the credit she deserves for almost writing a great book. I guess she is a best selling author and I am just a housewife who writes a fairly entertaining Christmas letter from time to time, so she's got that going for her! I really haven't read anything about her.

Maybe, like Twlight author - Stephenie Meyer, this author also claims not to be a great writer but just a good story teller. I like that Stephenie Meyer says that about herself. I have to admit that I rolled my eyes quite often reading the Twilight saga. I progressed to audible groans in the last book. It's been a while so I can't quite recall in detail the things that caused me literary pain. But it was different than reading Mockingjay. In Breaking Dawn, I felt like I was a willing prisoner of war. During Mockingjay, I felt like a straight up victim!

So I do agree that they are both good storytellers. And my hats are off to them! I wish that I was currently selling the movie rights to my best seller!! I have also not looked up any reviews on the book to see what anyone else thought. These are my opinions and mine alone. So if I am echoing anything that is already out there, know that I have not been influenced by any media sources. I have no idea if I am in the majority or minority here. The only person I've talked to about the book is my 16-year-old daughter, Kendall, and she enjoyed the book without being encumbered by the many aspects that made me want to rip my eyeballs out of their sockets.

That's just my opinion and in the words of my esteemed son, Brad, and Charles Barkley, "I could be wrong... but I doubt it." What did you think of the book?

P.S. - While I am in the process of criticizing people that I have no right to criticize... did anyone see the People's Choice awards? I only saw a small portion but during the parts that I saw Queen Latifah was not only not funny - it was uncomfortable to watch. Did anyone see the Twilight Stars accept their award in the end? My impression from just those speeches: Robert Pattinson - a good natured idiot, Kristen Stewart - just a plain idiot, and Taylor Lautner - the only semi-normal one of the bunch. He didn't have much to say either but at least he had the sense to plug his movie. Maybe I need to switch my alliance from Edward to Jacob? Hmmm... I'll get back to you on that one.