Saturday, December 31, 2011

Leaving 2011 and On to 2012

The Best of?
A Look Back?
A Year of "New"?

Whatever I call it, it's how I'm spending New Year's Eve. Everyone else is off at parties and I am lucky enough to be able to spend the night here at the computer, remembering/recounting, listening to my Pandora greats, and simultaneously babysitting a sleeping little guy. This has all the makings of a great New Year's Eve!!!! Seriously.
In no particular order I give you 2011 in a nutshell.

Books -- I decided to record those books that I've really thought about, brought great discussion at Book Groups, or just came to mind tonight. It was fun to look back through posts this year and read some reviews. Lots of good reading memories, that's for sure.
le for this year were...
Left Neglected by Lis
a Genova
A Fierce Radiance by Lauren Belfer
One of Ours by Willa Cather
The Yearling by Marjorie Rawlings
Aunt Dimity by Na
ncy Atherton
Once a Spy by Keith
Major Pettigrew's Last S
tand by Helen Simonson
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel
Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Anne BarrowsArizona;100 Years Grand by Lisa Schnebly Heidinger
(The OneBook, One Arizona title of the year as we celebrate our centennial. Better yet, this is my High School BFF and our daughter and her husband
are on page 34!! No wonder it made it to the top of the list!! Truly it is a gorgeous book! Well done, Lis!)
Uglies by Scot
t Westerfeld
I was quite surprised that with all of the YA books I read that only Uglies made it onto my favorites/memorable books of the year list. I added it because it has swept through our family and it brings up lots of great discussion. Wh
at more could a book want?!?!

I'm so glad for Book Groups that prompted me to read and discuss some of these lovelies. Thank you, Jenn, for leading me to a few more
and tempting me with still more.

Favorite NEW Authors - - Lisa Genova and Hel
en Simonson were so much fun to hear at the Tucson Book Festival. Hearing them read and discuss their books was a treasure. As a matter of fact, it totally changed my opinion of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, I realized I had been reading it all wrong. Shame on me. I love meeting and hearing author's speak. I really enjoyed going to The Poisoned Pen several times to hear new-to-me authors. I also LOVE the Tucson Book Festival. It is a highlight every year. FAVORITE.

Favorite NEW Drink - - I call it 'Black Gold My style'. 1/2 Diet Dr. Pepper and 1/2 Diet Coke. Of course it is best at 7 am fresh from QT on my way to school. YUM!

NEW Book Group - - Classical Chicks, I love ya! What
a fun group of women. I love meeting with them. I love the conversation, stretching, and the stimulation. Thanks for letting me crash the group and join in. My 'other' neighborhood book group has been meeting for about 12 years now. I am blessed to be able to be involved with these 2 groups!! Wahoo!

NEW Cities Discovered - - San Antonio, Denver and Biloxi, Mississippi! Each trip was a highlight and we loved seeing new places. What an amaz
ing country we live in. Great foods, terrific people, gorgeous sites to see and history to share. Wow!~
NEW Job - - New grade, new school, new friends, new love of teaching!! Awesomeness.

NEW Clothes - - I exceeded my goal weight and now have lost 45 pounds and have NEW CLOTHES!! I love shopping. I can hardly be
lieve I am writing this, but it feels like such an accomplishment that I wanted to see it in writing. I love buying small things!

NEW Favorite Blogs - - Kittlingbooks and Pinterest
. Do you know you can find anything there?!?!

NEW TVs $$$$ - - TWO!! Not my favorite way to spend my $$ but I do love my sports on the BIG 55" screen!

So I guess this was the year of NEW....

It was actually my goal last year to "Be Happy"; to find happiness in all the small things. It was a resounding success! When the year started I was still reeling from the death of my dad, hard things at work and personal feelings. I ha
d my doubts about the goal I was setting, but "Happy" found me. It wasn't 'over the rainbow" but right where I was!!I just needed to become the child to find it.
"The mind of a child is fascinating, for it looks on old things with new eyes."
~F. Scott Fitzgerald

My kiddos are all employed and doing so well
!!! (Blessings) They have new careers and addresses. New houses. Good health. New opportunities that I could have never imagined or foreseen. I am so short-sighted. It's a good thing I'm NOT an author. I couldn't have written this happy ending to this year. Thank you 2011. I will miss you.

I am so excited to welcome you as well. Won't it be fun?!?!

Have a blessing-filled New Year!

Happy New Year from the Vater-staches 9/2011
(Drew & Beth in Mississippi send their 'mustachioed' greetings as well!)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Vacation or Where I Put off Any Kind of Work I Can

How do you spell relief??? I spell it V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N and Reading!! So in honor of this 'holy week' between Christmas and the New Year I am doing both~!~! Lest you think I am a total slug, I have limited my computer time to just under an hour and have actually unearthed the top of the side table and the island in the kitchen! I know, shocking, isn't it?? I can't spend all of my energy in one day, so I limit myself to one major chore a day. Tomorrow I might look at the floor downstairs or vacuum the stairs. Ack! I promise not to overdo it.

I did read another book and really enjoyed pretending I was a cat; curled up in the sunlight with my book in hand. I have also been exercising madly - drinking water and sodas is hard work. I know that lifting those cups is a vicious exercise workout.

A Library Lover's Mystery was the cozy answer for today: Books Can Be Deceiving by Jenn McKinlay. I don't know what it is about reading about reading. It pulls me in every time. Lindsey is a small town library director in Briar Creek when murder comes her way. So much for the usual library antics or overdue fees, this time someone is going to get the "book thrown at them." The book was no Proust, no though provoker, but it created a sense of place and diversion and it was an amusing way to spend the afternoon.

(Thanks to Lesa at Lesa's Book Critiques and Cathy at for the recommendation! You ladies rock!)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Cornelia and Christmas

Eleven year old Cornelia Street considers herself a wordsmith. She'd rather curl up with a good book than socialize with her classmates. Words and books become her castle-wall to hide behind and insulate herself. At the end of the school day, she heads home to her apartment building in Greenwich Village, where members of the household staff await her - but where her mother rarely stays.

Cornelia's parents are both world-famous pianists. Most people would envy that fame and that talent, but not Cornelia. She has no desire to play piano herself and wishes that her jet-setting mother were home more often. Her father is not in the picture; Cornelia has never known him. Though she has every (material) thing she could need, Cornelia is lonely.

That is, until new neighbors move in across the hall. Who would have thought that an elderly woman would become a little girl's best friend? The dazzling Virginia Somerset shares Cornelia's love for stories and big words. The self-proclaimed Scheherazade tells Cornelia amazing tales that star Virginia and her three sisters as they travel all over the world, meeting famous artists and leaders.

Cornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters by Lesley M.M. Blume is charming. Yet I am reading it through the lens of an adult and not the middle grade reader it is marketed to. As a 4th grade teacher I tried to imagine my students falling in love with this book in a sea of high adventure, fantasy or bubble gum books....think Diary of a Wimpy Kid! That might be a hard sell, unless it was to the right child at the right time!

The stories told by Virginia beg to be read aloud to a child, cuddled up next to someone, the language and vocabulary sucked on and dribbled down the chin!! A read aloud in class or a Literature Circle with some of my students would be a better fit as some of the 'escapades' seemed aimed at adults and not children both in 'tone and topic.' But...this was a book I think I would have loved as a child. I remember loving From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.J. Konigsberg as a child, which also featured an 11 year old girl who felt misunderstood by her parents and friends. (Don't get me wrong, I wasn't that child myself, I just enjoyed reading about them.) I was a bookworm through and through and this book would have appealed to that part of me right off the bat!!

Favorite passages...

"She watched Cornelia for a second. "When I first met you, many moths ago, you were sucha closed book, Cornelia," she said. "You wove yourself into a maze of longer and longer words so nobody could find you. And now you use words as bread crumbs through that maze. When I first met you, you used dictionaries as fortresses, Now you;re beginning to understand that the words in those heavy books are also about the stories those words compose. And, like I've always told you, stories exist to be retold and shared with others."
"Not that I', not impressed that you know such long words," Virginia continued. "But sometimes I think that the simplest language is the best language. Listen to this."
She pulled an old book out from under the sheets. Cornelia could not see it's cover.
"This is a conversation that takes place between two friends," Virginia explained. "One friend has just saved the others life. And the one who saved the other one is telling him why she helped him in the first place." She began to read:
" ' Why did you do all this for me?' (the first friend asked). 'I don't deserve it. I've never done anything for you.'
" ' You have been my friend.' replied (the second friend). 'That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what's a life anyway? We're born, we live a little while, we die...By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone's life can stand a little of that.' " pgs. 2

This is our book group read for January and I feel only a tad bit smug at being finished early!!! Wahoo!

On a Christmas note - -the holiday was spectacular, as usual!! We are so very blessed. Family, friends, great food, gifts of presents and presence!! Perfect!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Sunday Edition

Outside my window: It's a gorgeous Sunday morning. Sun, clouds, and recovery from a rainy start. I hope that it clouds up again and brings us more of the wet stuff!! Gotta love a rainy Sunday. Bring it on. EDIT - It DID!! It rained all afternoon and the clouds were awesome!!!!

I am listening to: Christmas music and Jenny Oakes Baker violin. Wow!

Favorite Things of the Week: An author visit by my wonderfully talented friend. Arizona 100 Years Grand is a terrific accomplishment and a beautiful book. So proud to see my daughter and her husband on page 34 as well!!!)Book Group fun, a Christmas ballet recital to see two of the cutest ballerinas ever, when my sweetie took care of making and ordering the Christmas cards all by himself - love that man, great lessons in class - I may get this stuff down yet, clouds, clouds, and more clouds, great PD day at work - I feel inspired!

I am thinking: about how much I love my family, miss playing and just relaxing and reading, and love the possibilities of the upcoming break. CAN'T wait.

I am grateful for: Inspiration. Good friends. New friends. Commonalities. Motivation. Accomplishments. Awesome kids. Family. Dropwords. Blogging friends. I could go on and on.

I am reading: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield and two or three others. Yum.

I am listing: Christmas to-do lists, grades, and errands

I am creating: A snow-globe with a grandson. Don't read this if you are his daddy.

Some of my favorite things: Football. Music. Popcorn. Eegee's fries with a side of ranch. Rain. Good books. When my grandson asked, "Does Jesus wear underwear?"

Plans for the week: Hot Cocoa with a friend, Christmas crafting with my class, cleaning the house, laundry, shopping, nesting, resting, sucking on cough drops, wrapping, Christmas-movie watching, doesn't it sound fantastic?!?!?!?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Why I'm not really ready

Look what my better half is up to.
He's creating a trailer in the garage...right in front of the cupboards that house "Christmas!"
Now....I'm putting it to the test.
Does Christmas require lights and decorations or will it come anyway?

So for the meantime ...
  • I am grading papers, working on school projects, report cards and the busy-ness of this school year
  • I have read two Christmas books to substitute for my lack of ambiance and preparedness
  • I have made a few Christmas lists, made a few Christmas trips and shopped for a few Christmas gifts
Yep, just like in Who-ville.
Christmas will come without boxes or bags, without decorated trees or lights...
Just hope I get ready sooner rather than later!