Tuesday, September 15, 2009

More sucking up to my favorite authors

Okay so if you've read this blog for more than one day you may have seen several mentions of books. My favorite authors tend toward the young adult section. On author whose work never disappoints is Shannon Hale. The writing style, no matter the genre, is always top quality. And her characters are some of my all time favorites.

I wish I could say I did the interview but I'm not seeing that happening any time soon. lol.

Publishers Weekly has an excellent interview they did recently with Shannon Hale about her latest young adult fiction novel, Forest Born. I can not wait to get my hands on this book. So any news about the novel is welcome here.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July!

Enjoy your Independence Day!

"That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

Check out the wikipedia entry for the US Declaration of Independence. Makes you wonder if some of the officials have even read it.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Actor and the Housewife: A non-spoilerish review

I'm a huge Shannon Hale fan. Let's just get that out in the open. It's shameful. Well not really shameful but obsessive. I've read every published work. Some multiple times. I'd like to say that I own them all as well but after my recent book buying kick I think I'm on a budget. I dragged my family 12 hours from Denver to Phoenix back in April to see Shannon Hale and Stephenie Meyer at the Project Book Babe event.

I follow Shannon's blog and when I heard a few months ago that she had a new non-YA novel coming out I was very happy. The last non-YA novel she published was Austenland. I waited for that book to be released. And then I devoured it in 4 hours. It must have taken months to write, edit, etc. And it took me almost no time to rip thru it and really want some more. It was good. I liked the idea alot. The plot drew me in. Good stuff.

The Actor and the Housewife was a good book. I really enjoyed it. I'm going to be as descriptive as possible without giving anything away. I hope. This book was a slow starter. By that I mean it didn't immediately draw me in. I knew the basic premise of the story from the blurbs I'd read and the discussion on Shannon Hale's blog.

There's an actor and a housewife obviously. They become friends. They have life. They have laughs. People think they are weird. They are weird. Things happen to them. Life events bring them together and apart. They made me laugh and cry.

NOTE: Thanks a lot by the way, Shannon. My husband had to come comfort me at the end of Act 2. I was a mess. But I continued reading anyways.

The story take some surprising twists and turns. I really didn't see some things coming. Others were more obvious to me. In the end, I can look back on this book and say I really enjoyed it. My favorite lines from the whole book (and it's hard to pick just one) are:

Felix: "I don't know how you persist in being so stubborn---"
Becky: "It's a superpower. I was bitten by a radioactive mule."

I woke my husband up about 15 minutes after he fell asleep last night to read that to him and he fell back to sleep with a laugh.

This book brought out emotions from me that I didn't want to experience. To me that says something about a story. That you experience emotions with the characters. It means you made a connection. It really did start kind of slow. However, like most good stories if you stick with it for the first couple of chapters you won't be sorry.

And by the way, if like me you've already devoured this yummy book there is a great "behind the scenes" of how this book came about. Here's the link: http://www.squeetus.com/stage/books_housewife.html

Saturday, May 23, 2009

There and Back again - Day Four


We were up early the next morning. We were ready to tackle the Rockies. All of them. So 450-ish miles back home and nothing to do but drive. We have comfy leather seats in our van. They start to not feel so comfy after 3-4 days of sitting in them. So we drove thru Utah. It's a really pretty place.

We saw some really neat places. We saw some of the famous Utah Arches from a distance. We drove through Moab, Utah. It was the oddest place. Lots of desert and then you drive around what seems likes a corner and you are in a valley surrounded by giant red cliffs. Further down the interstate we came across a strange site. It's called Hole"N the Rock. It's one of those Route 66 type places. It's a 5000 square foot home carved into a large rock. There's also a petting zoo and gift shop. It was a fun stop the kids really enjoyed it.

We got a drink and got back on the road. We still had quite a drive ahead of us. The landscape was amazing. Soon we got up into the Rockies. It was really pretty up there. Top of the world. And finally we were back in Colorado. We passed through some of the most beautiful ski towns. We saw Vail and Breckenridge. The whole area is a great site. It was a great weekend for skiing. We made one last pitstop in Idaho Springs.

If you are coming through Colorado, you have got to check out Idaho Springs. It's very popular with the skiing crowd when the weekend it coming to a close. Idaho Springs is a very cute little mining town. Our two family favorite places to visit are Beau Jo's Pizza and TommyKnockers Brewery. Beau Jo's has the best pizzas ever. They have pizzas named by how much they weigh. And TommyKnockers is just awesome. They have their own stills in the restaurant. The artwork on the walls is really something. This day we only stopped by for my DH to pick up TommyKnocker rootbeer.

Another 45 minutes and we were home. Looking back I think if we had thought about it we would have planned for one more day. We'd have been a lot less rushed. But we saw so much of the west. My husband got to see the desert he's always dreamed of seeing. We took our kids to the Grand Canyon. I saw my 2 favorite authors. So no regrets other than we didn't have more time. Oh and the driving thru Monument Valley in the middle of the night. That was not great also. But we know where it is now so we can always go back in the day time.

So I hope you enjoyed reading about it as much as we enjoyed the experience. And maybe you'll be inspired to go check out the Four Corners area.

The End.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

There and Back again - Day Three

Caption: Our little fam in front of the sign.


That's right, you guessed it. We were going to see the canyon. We spent a lovely night in Flagstaff. My adventurous husband spent the evening plotting our course while I spent the entire night worrying about my 3 kiddos throwing themselves into the Grand Canyon. It's one of those irrational things. I know that my kids aren't gonna take a flying leap but somehow my heart and my head where not on the same page. So we got up and at 'em. After a brief trip to the Target, to acquire a jacket for me, we headed out making our way north to the Grand Canyon. I have to say I was having mixed feelings. I mean it's the Grand Canyon for crying out loud. Who doesn't want to see it? That would be me. I really wanted to see it but within reason. If that makes any sense?

We had to drive thru this National Forest area. I'm sure I can find the name of it online somewhere. But right now it escapes me. The drive from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon park was interesting. As I said Flagstaff and the surrounding area is evergreen forest. The national forest area was very similar and then you come to the end of the forest and you are in the grassland with a great view of a snowcapped mountain in the background. Very panoramic. Worthy of a ton of photos which are still on the other camera.

Caption: The view of the mountain and grassland on the way from Flagstaff to Grand Canyon park.

So we arrive at the gates of the Grand Canyon park. I cannot imagine what the wait must be like during the summer. That is not something I ever want to experience. As it was we only had to wait for about 20 minutes to pay and drive thru the gate. The ticket we got was good for up to 7 days. Not that we needed it, just a little fyi. So now we come to it. The Canyon.

You can't describe it. And no matter how many photos/videos you see, you can not be prepared for the view. You just get out of the car, walk up a small sidewalk and BOOM! You are hit with the most awe-inspiringly beautiful scene. You can't imagine the size of it until you stand at the edge of it. Well not exactly the edge unless you are one of those crazy people who want to walk up to the edge. It is huge. And wide. And deep. And beautiful. And majestic. And all the other things people say about it. You just stand and stare because your jaw drops. You can't take it all in.

Caption: Those are people over on that rock. That's the first viewing area you come to.

The only thing it is not is railed. As in, the majority of the walkway around it is not lined with rails. It is wide open and the walkway is less than 5 feet wide and the near side of the walkway was, oh let's say, less than 5 feet from the edge of the canyon. We are talking shock and awe. Those were the emotions I was fighting with. We walked up part of the walkway. It was beautiful. There were some really strange plants there and more cactus. We drove further to the east. We drove the South Rim stopping at every viewing area.

Then we came to a really pretty area called Navajo Point. It's the highest point of the canyon right around 7000 feet. There was an old watchtower with a gift shop. It was a great view. And it was the last stop on our way through Grand Canyon park.

Caption: This is Navajo Point.

Some facts about the Grand Canyon:
- It is 277 miles (446 km) long, ranges in width from 4 to 18 miles (6.4 to 29 km) and attains a depth of over a mile (1.83 km) (6000 feet). - from wikipedia
- It can take 5 hours to drive around the whole canyon - from park literature
- The Pueblo people consider the Grand Canyon to be a holy site - from wikipedia

So with much ado, one small camera filled and dead, and the other camera not even close to filled we headed out of the park and into the desert. North toward Utah.

But the day wasn't even close to over. We drove through the Painted Desert. We went through a small but growing town called Tuba City. The town's first McDonald's had just opened that weekend and when we were there a busload of European tourists decided to check it out. They were trying to order and didn't speak English. It was right out of a movie. We grabbed our early dinner and headed on. The plan was to get as far as we could into Utah that night.

Yeah, about that. Google is a lovely thing. Google maps has issues I think. It's dark now. We are driving into Utah. We've never been there before and there is nothing but open range as far as you can see in the pitch black of night. We look forward to any small town that we catch glimpse of. We pass through a small town and Google maps tells us to take a left at the light. Okay, sounds good. We leave the town and all signs of civilization. There are few houses and they are way off the road. I say road because this no longer resembles an interstate. Still open range. A truck from time to time and then some rock formations in the moonlight.

Google maps decided that we needed to see or rather not see Monument Valley at night. You know Monument Valley. It's in every old western movie. The giant desert with the huge rock formations that take your breath away. Yeah, you remember the whole Agoraphobia thing? (see Day Two) So we drove through some of this country's most beautiful landscape at night. And there's nothing but desert out there. For miles. You should Google "Monument Valley". Go ahead, I'll wait. I'd post pics but I'm still a little freaked out by it.

And then we come to another small town. It's called Blanding, Utah. We stayed there that night. It was cheap, it had two beds, we didn't care that it was a big fake wood paneled box. We slept.

More tomorrow. Isn't this fun?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

There and Back again - Day Two


So where were we? Oh right. Grants, New Mexico. Okay, so Grants is probably a great place and all. But we had expected to get well into Arizona on day one and we had a time crunch. The Project Book Babe event was at 2pm.

Just a side note:
I had planned for us to eat fast food no more than once per day. We brought a 13 gallon storage container packed with bread, peanut butter, chips, pretzels, dry cereal, foam bowls, plastic silverware and plastic cups. Also a small cooler for sodas and water bottles. Many hotels have complementary breakfast so we weren't overly concerned about breakfast but dry cereal is good for munching anyways. My thought was that if we didn't end up at a place without breakfast would just need to get a small container of milk. I tried to make sure we had either bottled or Colorado water in the cooler. We've been known to not do well with "foreign" water. Better safe than sorry.

So back to the trip. We headed on thru New Mexico. It's a very beautiful place. The desert is amazing. We had never seen anything like it. I found that I have quite a big case of Agoraphobia (a.k.a.- I panic in wide open spaces. lovely.) That became more and more evident throughout the rest of the trip.

So we drove stopping from time to time to see the sites (potty breaks). We saw Route 66 on several occasions and we also saw THE rock formations from the movie Cars. It felt like we were driving thru Radiator Springs.

Caption: The white stuff is snow.

So the next really note-worthy place we went to was Flagstaff, Arizona. You drive for hours and hours thru nothing but desert and suddenly you are in a evergreen forest. We saw log cabins. Flagstaff was beautiful. The weather was nice. It was a breath of fresh air after almost a year of being without trees. (We moved to Colorado from the southeast about a year ago. The lack of trees is something that we have yet to get over.) There are lots of hotels, restaurants, Starbucks, department stores just in case you forgot to bring a jacket. But we continued on to Phoenix.

The drive from Flagstaff to Phoenix was really picturesque. Our second born, Monkey, has been studying animal habitats at our homeschool science program and he got lots of photos of the desert. I've never really seen a cactus. But we saw thousands. He was pointing out that certain species of cactus grow an "arm" every 50 years. Some of them had several "arms". We were quite amazed by the height of them. At one roadside store the cactus that was standing next to the building had to be almost 20 feet tall. Amazing.

We finally got to Phoenix! Yippee! It's like an oasis. There are palm trees everywhere. Not like the ones you see in Florida. These were very lush and bright. The ones I've come across in Florida are usually not bright green. These were really pretty. Swimming pools everywhere. And these really bright red bushes. I have no idea what they were but I'm sure the proud natives would know. Anyways, we took a wrong turn and there was a bit of construction. So I got there a little late. But I got a really good seat at the event. Hubby and the kiddos explored the neighborhood near the school where the event was held and found a really nice park and playground. Which I think the kids probably really appreciated after the long ride.

Here's a photo from the Project Book Babe event:

Caption: That's Stephenie Meyer and Shannon Hale, 2 of my favorite authors.

So after the event was over and we had a nice early dinner we drove back up to Flagstaff. We found another affordable hotel. I wish I could remember the name of it. But the cost ($60) was about the same as day one. I know we filled up the tank before we left Phoenix but I'm not sure if we got gas earlier that day. I think we grabbed breakfast sandwiches when we got into Arizona and we had Arby's after the event. Also on a side note we were really worried about the time crunch until we stopped just inside Arizona and found that there is a time change? We had no idea that we would go through a time zone. So that helped with our trip.

We spent the night in Flagstaff, which DH discovered is less than 2 hours from the Grand Canyon. So can you see where this is going?

More tomorrow and the pics are worth the wait.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Guest Blogger: DH's point of view

The DH is guest blogging his POV. If that ain’t a mouthful, I don’t know what is!

Well, the first thing I can say about a long road trip is that the driving takes about 15% longer than you think it will. If it weren’t for an unexpected shift into Pacific Time Zone, we would have been late to our event in Phoenix! (Er…later than we were. You know what I mean.)

No kidding. The 15% thing holds so true that I’m going to plan in a 15% “Reality Tax” on all future estimations of how long trips will take – I’m going to include my trips from upstairs down to the basement just to prove it works!

As for the trip…the sights along the way were just incredible. I kept looking out the window and saying “Wow! Look at that that!” and then the kids would go “wow…” without actually looking because they knew I couldn’t turn around backward to see them. You know, I never had a GameBoy, or a DVD player in the car when I was a kid on long, forced road trips. I’m not complaining about my kids, I’m bemoaning how
many cool things hadn’t been invented yet for me!

After we survived a blizzard in New Mexico, made the trip to beautiful Phoenix and back to Flagstaff, we realized that were about 2 hours from the Grand Canyon and would be fools not to go. (I could retire to Flagstaff, actually. It’s a mountain paradise in the middle of the desert.)

The kids went crazy when they saw the Grand Canyon. It was certainly the most amazing thing they had ever seen. I could show you pictures and talk about it, but I knew even as I snapped photos that they just wouldn’t turn out right. This is why people keep going there I think. Otherwise, you’d just go “Yeah, I saw pictures. I’m good.”

(And here I have to say it: HOW DO YOU CHARGE 25 BUCKS A CAR TO SEE SOMETHING YOU DIDN’T MAKE???? It’s madness! I know, I know – there are roads and potties and fences, but don’t we pay taxes? OK, I won’t rant anymore.)

I found that I loved the desert. It’s like I had always dreamed of going there, but somehow I never really thought I would…like it was “someday” I would. We saw rolling grasslands and mesas heading south on I-25, but after we left the Grand Canyon we decided not to go back that way, but to turn to the north instead. And THAT was some real desert. I have never felt so relaxed and connected with the outdoors.

This amazing land is breathtaking in its stark beauty and its sheer size. It’s like being on the ocean, but it’s all grass and sand and stone. The only thing I regret about it is that we hit Monument Valley at night and it was more terrifying than beautiful! All you can see at night is strange dark shapes outlined by the starlight.
The last leg of the trip was back over the Rockies. If you haven’t been up in the mountains, just get ready to have your mind blown! It’s always fun to drive friends up from Denver and they want to stop and take photos. You have to keep telling them to save batteries and wait. As you go higher and higher the view becomes more incredible than before!

Last up, let me give a shout-out to Idaho Springs. Great little mountain town and you can go to BeaJo’s and TommyKnocker’s restaurants which are just down the street from one another. If you want a great big pizza or a buffalo hamburger, be sure to stop at one or the other.

There and Back again - Weekend in 4 states

My husband heard me. I talked about Project Book Babe for weeks. Stephenie Meyer and Shannon Hale, my two favorite authors, at the same event in Arizona. So DH came home on Thursday and said okay. This is a big deal because he use to cringe and the thought of a 5 hour drive to see my parents. Maybe it wasn't the drive. lol.


So he left 2 hours early from work on Friday and we jumped in the minivan and headed south on I-25. Only 12.5 hours from Phoenix/Tempe. Coming out west has seriously brought out a part of our family we didn't know existed. Here's the map of our trip:

We never would have done this back east. The humidity would have killed us and our old minivan use to stall when we would get off an exit.

So I drove for the first 2.5 hours (the only driving I did the whole weekend). The winds thru southern Colorado were crazy but the temperature was fabulous. The closer we got to New Mexico we saw more and more of nothing. The desert started to sneak up on us and you could see forever in every direction. We still could see some of the Rockies. We got into New Mexico and I saw Santa Fe! I started singing Santa Fe from The Newsies. Love that movie.

All thru New Mexico the winds were crazy. It was really dark by this point but we wanted to try to get at least half way before we stopped for the night. We drove thru the dark for sometime and then we saw the most amazing light show. Albuquerque was an ocean of lights in the darkness. It was amazing and because it's so flat out there you could see the whole city. It was surreal. <--- (that word is gonna be used alot).

So about 40ish miles west of Albuquerque is a little town called Grants. We saw the exit. Tons of hotels and thought we could at least get to the Arizona border before we stopped for the night. The weather had different ideas. We got about 2 miles past the exit and the wind started blowing really hard. And something was blowing in the wind. What?!? Is that sand? NO! It's snow. That's right. We left Denver only to get stopped by a blizzard in the desert.

So we got off the next exit, the one with no hotels. And we waited for the snow to blow over. Nope. So we got back on the highway and very slowly with very little visibility drove (praying the whole way) about 5 miles back to Grants and got a hotel room for the night.

And that was day one. We started out in Denver (Southeast of Denver actually) on Friday and stopped in Grants, New Mexico at around midnight. We stayed at a Super 8 for about $62 taxes included. And we filled up the tank once that day.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

When characters grow up. . . alternate title: The new Dora

Have you seen the new Dora? Here she is:

There has been quite the uproar, mostly from moms. I think she's cute. And while I think they probably have a point that she looks older. She only looks maybe 2-3 years older and she's dressed very nicely.

I didn't hear any uproar over the newly madeover Strawberry Shortcake:

Or even the newly made over Holly Hobby:

I don't know maybe it's just me but I think people are quick to freak out. I mean the kids aren't gonna really care that much. When my daughter walked in and saw the new Dora she squealed and said, "Ohhh, she's so pretty!"

I think we worry to much about these things. I mean I got a little concerned when they changed Sesame Street but I will admit it was because it's what I was use to. They didn't mess anything up. They just brought it out of the 70's. I think we need to ask ourselves what we are concerned about. Is it well founded concern or are they changing for a good reason.

I have to say there is a huge gap in the children's entertainment industry. I worry that there aren't enough of this age level edu-tainment out there. What shows do you know of for a girl who is no longer interested in yelling "Map" at the screen but she's not ready for High School Musical? Not a lot, I'd wager. Girls need good role models at every age. Not just at age 3 when they still like to help Dora find her way home.

I think the idea has potential. What do you think?

Saturday, February 28, 2009

You gotta love these kids!

This first video is of Jonathan Krohn, 13 year old homeschooler. It's an excellent video and I'm going to go look for his book.

This video is of 12 year old giving the facts about abortion. Also, excellent. Not sure she's homeschooled but she could easily pass. lol.