Thursday, February 28, 2013

More Changes

Last night I finally bit the bullet and got myself a new phone. Cell phone that is. For several months,  I had been unable to actually use my phone as a phone. It was dropping calls so bad that I gave up trying to talk on it. On the one hand, I liked having a legitimate excuse not to have to talk to people. No offense,  lol. On the other,  I couldn't make appointments for the kids as needed and whatever else. As my long time readers know,  I'm a gadget whore. That probably makes you wonder why I put off getting a new phone for several months. Well, it was because I couldn't decide what I wanted. I've had an iPhone for years and as much as I love it, I wanted something new, but did I *really* want to mess with new apps and moving my music around and blah blah.

Anyway, last night I girded my loins and went to Verizon with no idea what I was going to get. I got lucky with a really patient and funny Verizon guy. He introduced me to The Little Sister aka, the Galaxy S 3.

Day two, and I like it so far. There's definitely a period of adjustment that I'm going through. I can't make it do things that I want because I keep treating it like an iPhone. It's a little frustrating but I'm coming along. I like the finger drag typing. It's way fast. I also like the widgets. Since I'm still figuring it out, the iPhone seems easier to use with a more straightforward interface but I'm holding off my final opinion on that for a bit.

I typed up this entire post on my new phone which is a first for me in all my years of blogging. I have always used a computer for blogging. So score one for the new phone.

Anyone else ever transitioned from an iPhone to an Android phone or vice versa? 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Teenager Truism #2

Like I said last week, I've been through the baby, toddler, child, and tween years. Being firmly entrenched in the teenager years, I can tell you this:  The terrible twos were a piece of cake. For those of you with kids, you know when people tell you to enjoy them while they're young? Well, as parents, we don't listen to that advice as carefully as we should. I know that I didn't.

Teenager truism:  The first 12 years of raising a child are a walk at the beach compared to the next five or six.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Fall of Giants by Ken Follett

 From Barnes and Noble:

Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
Publication date: 9/4/2012
Series: Century Trilogy , #1

Ken Follett’s magnificent new historical epic begins, as five interrelated families move through the momentous dramas of the First World War, the Russian Revolution, and the struggle for women’s suffrage.
A thirteen-year-old Welsh boy enters a man’s world in the mining pits.…An American law student rejected in love finds a surprising new career in Woodrow Wilson’s White House.… A housekeeper for the aristocratic Fitzherberts takes a fateful step above her station, while Lady Maud Fitzherbert herself crosses deep into forbidden territory when she falls in love with a German spy.…And two orphaned Russian brothers embark on radically different paths when their plan to emigrate to America falls afoul of war, conscription, and revolution.
From the dirt and danger of a coal mine to the glittering chandeliers of a palace, from the corridors of power to the bedrooms of the mighty, Fall of Giants takes us into the inextricably entangled fates of five families—and into a century that we thought we knew, but that now will never seem the same again.…

I just finished this novel a couple days ago. It took me forever to get through it. Normally, the set of criteria I use to rate a book includes length of time it takes me to read it. I'm a fast reader, especially when I love a book. Still this book is 960 pages long and that should take anybody more than a day to read. But the reason why it took me so long is because I had to put it down at times. You know when you're watching the movie Titanic and you know it inevitably ends in tragedy but you still wish that they'd just make that stinking course correction a little sooner and a little faster? Well, that's how I felt reading this book. I know the course of events surrounding World War I and I hoped that they would find an alternative to war clear up until the fighting began. I stressed myself out reading this book and therefore, I had to give myself a break from it from time to time.

Follett is a strong story teller. He clearly cares about his subject matter and writes accurate history. I know because I looked up quite a few events in the book to see if they were actually true or not. I don't have a strong grasp of World War I, sadly enough. I know even less about the Russian Revolution and the various economies and politics of other countries. Where Follett lacks, in my opinion, is character development. It's obvious that telling the story, the actual events, is his focus and the characters are secondary. This is the only reason why I would not rate this book a five out of five. I also thought that when he was wrapping up the ending, he did it a little too neatly and he also did it quickly like it was a task to get through, something on a checklist. Overall, I found it to be a good read and would recommend it to history buff and Follett's fans, but Follett will never be one of my favorite authors.

I'm ambivalent about reading the rest of the series. I love the time period in which Fall of Giants takes place (Thank you Downton Abbey) but I'm not all that interested in modern history after 1930. If I cared more about Follett's characters and what happens to them and their future generations, I'd have Winter of the World lined up on my Nook app but instead, I'm rereading another series. I'll probably read the second and third book in this series eventually, when I'm stumped for something to read.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

So, I'm Not a Mommy Blogger

Both of my girls are teenagers. I write from the perspective of having been through the infant, toddler, child, and tween years. Here's what I know.

First of all, my girls were very different babies. The Oldest child was probably pretty close to perfect. She was tiny, pink, and beautiful. She never fussed a whole lot. She was never sick. When she was done using a pacifier, she threw it out of the car window. True story. When she was done with her bottle, she threw it out of her crib and refused to drink out of one ever again. She was not even a year and a half old at this point. Then, when I was close to giving birth to her younger sister, I decided that I didn't want two kids in diapers so I pushed her through speed potty training. I put a dress on her, a cloth diaper without a plastic outer pant thing and set her on the floor. She peed herself ONE time and that was all it took for her to use the potty consistently. Her sister, on the other hand, is a whole other story.

She had cholic, thrush, and baby acne when she was born. Do you know what it's like to breast feed a baby with thrush?? It's like white hot fire on a very delicate part of your anatomy that causes you to clench your fists and curl your toes in agony. 14 years later, and I still remember. There were nights when she and I would be downstairs on the couch in the middle of the night crying our heads off because she wouldn't stop crying and go to sleep and I was exhausted and at my wits end. Potty training was a freaking nightmare. The only thing she had going for her was that she was never sick.

Now as teens, they are the complete opposite again. The Youngest child is the easy one and the Oldest is causing me to lose sleep at night. The Youngest comes home from school, immediately sits down, and does her homework without being told. The Oldest, well, she consistently lies about doing her homework and that's when she's not up until 11 pm or later trying to get it finished. Why? She comes home from school and goes to sleep. Or she's on her phone. Or she's on her iPad. Or she's supposedly staying after school for extra help. Who knows. Sometimes she does her homework and then doesn't bother turning it in. Can someone please explain to my why someone would go through the trouble of doing the work and then taking a zero on it???

The Youngest child is going to look back on her teen years as endless days spent outside playing with her friends. The Oldest is going to look back at endless days of being grounded. She's currently grounded until next month, lol. I'm hoping that when we move, starting at a new school next year will help her turn a new leaf.

So, my first teenager truism:  Teens are not always capable of making good decisions. I read somewhere that this is a physiological thing at their age. Anyway, despite making bonehead decisions, this doesn't mean that they are bad kids.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Cafe Escapes

I mentioned a loooooong time ago that I'm a Bzz Agent. I have been an agent since 2006 and it has been, for the most part, a great experience. One of my absolute favorite things is trying out new products. I get to do this with Bzz and for free! What more can you ask for?

I thought I'd share my most recent campaign with them.

They sent me sampler boxes of new Cafe Escapes K-Cups for my Keurig brewer. In my box, I got the Cafe Caramel, Cafe Vanilla, Chai Latte, Cafe Mocha, and Milk and Dark Chocolate hot chocolate flavors. The Milk Chocolate hot chocolate wasn't new to us. I often buy them for the youngest child since she's the only one in the house that doesn't like coffee. It's always a big hit.

So far, I've tried the Cafe Caramel and Cafe Mocha, which are my favorites, and the Chai Latte which I thought was gross.

First of all, I am not a fan of artificial sweeteners. I occasionally use Truvia to sweeten my tea but I prefer honey. I also drink Coke Zero Vanilla and Pepsi Next which are artificially sweetened but tolerable. I do NOT like Sweet and Low or Equal. Big, giganto, YUCK!! Cafe Escapes sweeten their treats with a combination of sucralose which you may know as Splenda, sugar, and glucose syrup for about 60 calories per K-Cup.

The Cafe Caramel and Cafe Mocha are so yummy and rich in flavor, that the artificial sweetener taste dulls in comparison. I'm having the Cafe Mocha right now and I'm sad that I only got one of those in my sampler. I thought that the caramel and chocolate flavors in each drink was genuine and very tasty.

The Chai Latte was just not for me. It was probably a combination of it being a black tea and the overpowering sucralose flavor, but I took one sip and dumped the rest down the sink.

If you're looking for something new to try in your Keurig and don't have an aversion to artifical sweeteners for whatever reason, I'd totally recommend trying the Cafe Escapes. They even have lemonade and hot apple cider for something different other than coffee or chocolate flavors.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Choosing a Path

I've been reading back through my old blog posts to see if that would help me decide what I want to do with this blog. I'm in the middle of 2008 and I've been reading them in order. There is so much that I've forgotten. Wow. I had also forgotten how much of my blog I had deleted going through massive Vermont drama. Ahhh. Good times. Or something like that.

I've tried keeping traditional-type journals over the years. Even when I was a girl but I never keep up with them. I've tried audio journaling, picturing myself as someone from Star Trek making daily logs, lol. I think I did that about two times and I have no idea what happened to those files. The closest that I've ever come to keeping track of my life is on this blog.

And oh my gosh!! Reading back over old posts and comments (Yeah. I actually used to get comments on a pretty regular basis.) I had forgotten some of the ladies that used to blog the same time that I did. I miss them!! A lot. I wish I could go back to those "hey days" but as I said before, I really think personal blogs are in the past.

I'm going to keep going with mine, for myself if nobody else. I also miss talking about books. I used to blog about books that I was reading quite frequently and I stopped doing that. I don't have anyone to talk about books with anymore.

I really wish there was a way to get some of the "old timers" back to blogging with me. Jennifer, Pam, Liz, Dana, and many others along the way. Pretty wishful thinking on my part, I'm sure. Still, it'd be nice to have some familiar company. Maybe I'll happen along some new bloggers. We'll see. I hope that I have at least one reader out there who will continue my journey with me. ;)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The ABCs of Me

No decision has been made. In the meantime...
A. Age: 35. I'll be the old lady age of 36 in June. Does it mean anything that I don't feel that old??
B. Bed size: Queen but I wish it was a king.
C. Chore you dislike: It'd be a tie between cleaning the bathtub, putting away laundry, and mopping.
D. Dogs: Bailey is still plodding along at the ripe boxer age of eight.. She's too fat, has skin issues, and sore joints but she's still our Bailers.
E. Essential start to your day: I don't have a morning routine. Being scared awake by my alarm is enough to get me going.
F. Favorite colors: I like greens. Like sage green. And blues. Soft blues.
G. Gold or silver: Either.
H. Height: 5'4"
I. Instruments you play(ed): Regretfully, I've never played an instrument.
J. Job title: Stay at home mom.
K. Kids: Two girls ages 13 (14 in 10 days) and 16 (17 in July). Where does the time go?
L. Live: For 119 more days (yes, I'm counting down), we live in San Diego, California. In June, we'll be relocating to Pensacola, Florida.
M. Music group:  I dunno. I like the Foo Fighters as always. The Imagine Dragons. The Illumineers. The XX. Grouplove. Muse. ::shrug::
N. Nicknames: I don't have one.
O. Overnight hospital stays: Three: I had my appendix removed and then I had two kids removed. Ha.
P. Pet peeves:  Where would I begin? I have many. Bullies. Inconsiderate neighbors. Not replacing an empty toilet paper roll with a new one. And the list goes on.
Q. Quote from a movie: I can't think of one off the top of my head. Had this been "quote from a TV show" I would've had many.
R. Righty or lefty: Righty.
S. Siblings: I have one older brother and one younger sister.
T. Time you wake up: 7 am on weekdays and not that much later on the weekends and holidays.
U. Underwear: I prefer bikini cut underwear. I think I'm getting too old for thongs and besides that, I've never found them to be comfortable. I don't like low cut because they constantly feel like their coming off. And I would blush constantly if I went commando.
V. Vegetables you don’t like:  Celery. I hate celery unless it's chopped up in Thanksgiving stuffing. Celery is the ick. I'm not fond of artichokes. I only like asparagus if it comes with chicken marsala or on the side of filet mignon at a very nice restaurant.
W. What makes you run late: Unexpectedly finding ice on my windshield in the mornings. And the oldest child. She is ALWAYS running late for school in the mornings.
X. X-rays you’ve had: I've had a few. I broke my arm in the 8th grade. I had chest x-rays when I was sick with bronchitis and everything else lung related. And then when I temporarily lost my eyesight in my right eye, I had chest x-rays again. I forget why the doctors said it was the thing to do.
Y. Yummy food you make: I make an awesome lasagna, black bean chili, guacamole, and my mac n cheese is pretty good too. These are all dishes I make without a recipe. Give me a recipe and I can make anything good.
Z. Zoo animal you like: Giraffes. I think they are one of the most beautiful and unique animals on the planet. They have such soulful eyes.