Wednesday, December 26, 2007

I'm trying...

really hard to remain calm, cool, and collected, but it's getting really hard. "Why"? you ask. Because tomorrow....

I'm going to DISNEY!!!!!!!!!!

Yes, I know--I live in Florida, but still, my aunt and I are going and she's never really been there. We'll be there through New Years (part of our annual single girl's retreat somewhere fun so we don't mope about not having husbands)! I hope I can sleep tonight. I know my aunt is just as excited because we were talking on the phone earlier today and she was cleaning the house (same thing I was doing) to pass the time.

Have a wonderful New Year--and be careful with those fireworks!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!



God grant you the light in Christmas,

which is faith;

the warmth of Christmas,

which is love...

the all of Christmas,

which is Christ.


Monday, December 24, 2007

Fall Into Reading 2007 Wrap-Up

Yea! I actually finished all of the books on my list this time. Of course, I only put 15 titles on it, but still, life is busy at this time of year, so I wasn't sure if I would be able to complete the list or not. If you want to read a synopsis of the book, check out the FAME Florida Teens Read site.

In no particular order:

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

I saved this one to read last because it's actually part of a series. I wasn't sure what to expect at first because I've heard so many different and mixed reviews. I will say, it does start off a bit slow because you as a reader have to understand that this story takes place in the future, and this society is somewhat different from our own. Once you understand the basic premise of their society: everyone is born ugly, but at the magical age of 16, you become pretty for life... you can settle in for the rest of the story. The characters are likable and I can't wait to read the rest of the series to find out what happens next.

If I Have a Wicked Stepmother, Where's My Prince? by Melissa Kantor

If you're interested in fluff-this book is for you. It's the typical "Cinderella-esque" plot with a "wicked" stepmother and stepsisters. Told from a teenage point of view--lots of drama--there are some serious decisions that were made on the dating scene and the family front to build a bridge to better relationships. This book didn't require any thinking, which is great when you want a feel-good story with a cutesy ending...FLUFF.

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

A very quick read--the main character receives letters from her aunt to go on the trip of a lifetime. Boy do I wish my aunt would do this for me! I would love to grab a backpack and my passport to travel around Europe! Each of the letters reveals insight into the aunt's character and her life--including unexpected character surprises. Great book--with some cutesy parts.

Black and White by Frank Volponi

Guys and girls are grabbing this one off the shelves because it's such a wonderful read. Black and white are best friends--yes, one's black and one's white--they decide to rob people to get fast money when they need to pay their senior dues for school. One of the robberies goes wrong and the police come into play. Each chapter is told from either Black or White's point of view. While griping and somewhat predictable, the ending leaves the reader hanging with no hope for a sequel. Grrr....

Crossing the Wire by Will Hobbs

Oh boy...this book was extremely hard to focus and get through. I was hoping that its slowness was a part of the author's craft in showing how painstaking it is for immigrants to illegally cross the border from Mexico into the United States, but I don't really think that's the case. While the characters are likable enough, I had a hard time reading this book because I completely disagree with the whole illegal immigrant thing. So...while an okay storyline, good luck actually wading through it--especially if you're tired of hearing about the illegals gaining rights in our country without becoming citizens, etc....

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

When I first saw this book on our list, I did not want to read it--even after all of the wonderful reviews I read. As a librarian, I know that you're not supposed to judge a book by it's cover, but when I opened it up and saw the tiny text and very little white space on the page, my heart dropped and I knew this was one I'd have to trudge through. Fortunately, the author and I have a few similarities as far as life situations go, so I was able to read a bit each day until I finished it. It's a wonderful book and I'm still in awe at how the author was able to overcome her life's situations and remain on top of her sanity.

Hit the Road by Caroline B. Cooney

This is another cutesy story about a girl, her grandmother, and kidnapping her grandmother's friends for their college reunion. While laughable at times, this story does get to be somewhat tedious in all of the details that are shoved in at points. (Was the author trying to make a deadline?) If you don't mind the slow parts, the bottom line is about how important family and friendships are to our lives.

This book is absolutely hilarious! Told from a guy's perspective, I was able to relive my freshman year of high school through this character. From being stuffed into lockers and joining clubs and groups to try and get close to someone he likes, this character had me laughing out loud many times. (My poor neighbors probably think I went crazy.) This humorous book takes a look at friendships in high school and within our own families. A great read for everyone.

Sold by Patricia McCormick

Wow! I can't believe this is a true story and it's not brought to any one's attention. This has got to be stopped, and I have no idea what to do to help this situation come to an end. Imagine, living in your village wondering where your next meal is going to come from when your step-father sells you to someone else as a maid (you think) to get gambling money for himself. Imagine being thrust into a situation where your dignity and virginity are robbed from you with no one else to turn to for help. This is the reality that MANY young girls are facing daily--whether here at home, or abroad like this character's village. This book is graphic and if you plan to let your daughter or son read this, I would read it together and discuss your thoughts and feelings on this very real and horrifying situation. It's a remarkable book and I think everyone should read it so that they are aware of what's happening around us. Maybe then, someone who is smarter than I, or who has more resources than I could come up with a plan to help rescue these children.

Rash by Pete Hautman

A futuristic look at what the world would be like when our "protection for children" runs a muck and everyone must wear helmets when they run to help detect overheating and exertion (didn't I just hear about this on the news?) as well as a gazillion other laws on the books to help protect our society. When a strange rash breaks out among the high school students, it's linked back to our main character, which lands him in jail. The jail is owned by a corporation like McDonald's and uses the labor in the jail to make prepacked foods like pizza. Told from the male perspective, it's really a commentary on how our lives are going out of control by the silly lawsuits and laws that are being passed because voters are uninformed. While it has its highlights, they are few and far between. I'd skip this book, unless you just want to read about this crazy society.

Runner by Carl Deuker

This is probably one of my favorite books from this year's list. Since I've told a few people about it, I can't keep it on the shelves. With the books link to drug smuggling and possible terrorism--especially when another teenager is involved--make sit a high demand book. The ending has an unexpected twist that will leave you reeling. Definitely read this book!

I wasn't quite sure what to expect form this book because the text is huge and there are illustrations in it, but over-all it's a decent story. Basically, the seventh son of a seventh son becomes an apprentice to the Spook who roams from village to village getting rid of evil spirits, ghosts, goblins, and witches. It's a quick read and great for those who need an easier reading level. There's actually going to be a whole series tied around these two characters because the apprentice is "the last" one, which leaves the reader speculating what's going to happen next.

Becoming Chloe by Catherine Ryan Hyde

After reading this terribly slow book, I realized that I read this a few years ago when it first came out. The author wrote the wonderful book-Pay It Forward, which is the only reason why I picked up this book. The first paragraph has a rape scene in it and one of the characters is gay and has a few unscrupulous relationships--which thankfully were not expound upon. The two characters are trying to find their meaning in life and often wonder what the point i to their existence. Basically, after a country-wide expedition, they decide that they're around to appreciate the beauty in life--things they haven't sen much of until they begin their journey. It's an okay story, but VERY slow and sometimes painful to read.

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

I actually enjoyed this story--despite its slowness at times. The characters are all facing very difficult obstacles (eating disorders, attempted rape, loss of friends, etc.) and the storyline twists around each of their problems and weaves a wonderful tale about friendship and forgiveness.
I do have to tell you that someone is challenging this book in our district because of the very brief attempted rape scene at a party where everyone had been drinking. (Hello--does this person even know what their child does on the weekends? I don't think she wants to know, because then she wouldn't be challenging this book. ) Grrr.... just because you don't want your child to read a book, please don't tell other people what they can and can't read! Maybe this parents should sit down with her daughter and discuss the book with her and maybe discuss why this situation occurred--maybe then it could be more of a teaching experience and she and her child would have a closer bond.
I think this book is helpful to those naive students who are unaware of the dangers at parties and in life. I've had several teens tell me that they really liked this book because of the friendship that is forged between two of the characters, which ultimately blossoms into a possible romance. THOSE are the things teens are focusing on--not a minute part of the book that if it hadn't happened, these two characters would have never become friends. Grrrr..... (I think I'm done now...I'm putting my soap box away.)

Copper Sun by Sharon Draper

Another book that I really didn't feel like reading, but I'm glad I did. I thought it was going to be about how horrible slavery is and how the black people were wronged and how horrible white people were during this time. Thankfully I was way off base on my assumptions because I would have really missed out on a wonderful book. It starts off in Africa and shows the village life before the villagers were captured and made into slaves. We travel with them throug all of the steps from Africa until they are sold to their "owners" and thei new life in America. There's also an indentured servant girl who is kept with the slaves because she's must work for another 14 years to pay off her dead parents' debt. The characters really come alive and every injustice they suffered, I felt too. The ending is kind of contrite, but I did learn a little bit about Florida history and Fort Mose (which is now under water). It's a wonderful read!

Thank you for hosting this challenge Katrina! It was fun and I was able to complete the books I needed to read for my job!

Merry Christmas Eve!

It's hard to believe that Christmas is really tomorrow. The weather has turned yucky here, although, thankfully, not as horrible as it is in the Northern part of the country. I pray that everyone who is travelling arrives to their destinations safely.

Our hallway neighbor, Maggie, left presents for Madison and I the other day, so I put them under our tree. Madison was so excited that she decided to try and open hers early. It was a hoot! I wish now that I had videotaped it instead of taking pictures because I was laughing so hard. Thank you Maggie for Madison's presents (shaker balls and catnip)--she's been enjoying them immensely!

I hope each of you has a wonderful Christmas and are able to spend it with the ones you love!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Hellllooooo Vacation!

After completely keeling over yesterday from the exhaustion of the last couple of weeks, I'm finally up and at 'em to finalize everything for Christmas. Can you believe it's only a few days away?!

Today I'm meeting my friend Adrienne for lunch at our local hang-out. It feels like I haven't talked to her in years, so I'm really glad that we're able to get together before the craziness begins.

Tomorrow we celebrate Christmas after church with my grandparents, aunt, cousins and their children, my niece, sister, and her boyfriend. (I'm sure I've left someone out, but I think that's everyone.)

Then, on Christmas Eve, I'll go to my grandparent's house and hang out with them, my aunt, and my cousins until I can't keep my eyes open.

Christmas Day, I'll go back to my parent's house and celebrate with my parents, my step-brother and his fiance, my step-sister, and possibly my other set of grandparents.

Then, I have a day's rest before my aunt and I head to Disney through New Year's! (We are now owner's of annual passes, so we're going to scope everything out and then head back periodically throughout the year.)

After that, I'll have a couple of days to get everything in order at home before I return to w-o-r-k. But, after a couple of weeks, I'll be settling in at my new school (YIPPEE)!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

...and I'm interrupting your broadcast...

to let you know that I received a message this evening.....


God must be laughing hysterically since I moped around all evening yesterday. In fact, my moping continued on a bit today--especially since other teachers were asking me if I got the job or not. Boy do I have a lot of explaining to do tomorrow! Yet--it's happy explaining!! Yippee!!!

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Funny Story

I forgot to mention my funny story of the day:

I have a pair of brown corduroy pants that I love to death--even though they're starting to get holes in them. This morning, since someone decided that it needed to be 40 degrees in Florida, I decided to wear them to work. As students were working on their exams in the library, I was in the back working on getting paperwork and shelving finished before Christmas. As I was shelving some of the videos, I bent down, and...that's guessed pants split in two, right in the middle! Talk about being horrified! Thankfully there's a restroom in our back office, so I ran in there to check out the damage. Thankfully it wasn't as noticeable or as large as I imagined, but still...I was at work and couldn't go home! All I have to say is thank God for dark undies!

Happy Holidays?

I am SOOOOOOO glad that this is the last week of school for the students! I'm not sure who is more excited about the upcoming Christmas break--us or them--but I'll wager to say it's pretty close.

Today was the first day of exams and let me tell you--the natives were restless. Not to mention--there were a TON of kids sick. I had hall duty for about an hour and had to call for the nurse and the custodian to clean up. YUCK!

Thankfully, I had a dentist appointment this evening, so I was able to leave a little early to enjoy some time away. Although that means that tomorrow I have to stay late and help the teachers scan their exams on our crazy new scanning system. (At least I won't be bored.)

Well, the past week has been spent on getting my resume finalized to apply for a job that became available due to a Media Specialist retiring. I managed to fax my resume Friday afternoon and ended up with an appointment for yesterday morning! I have to say, I was really nervous, but was told later on that I interview really well. (Were they in the same interview I was?) In any case, I was told that it was between myself and another Media Specialist and that we would find out today. The only snafu in the system was that I could only do an energy transfer (closer to home) and my school secretary never changed my address (Grrrrrrr....) to the Tampa address, so I wasn't exactly eligible. I called personnel after I finished with the interview and supposedly they changed it, but it takes 24 hours to post. So, needless to say, I think it cost me this possible job--especially since I did not receive a phone call and the position is no longer posted. Oh well...I kept asking for God's will, not my own, so I guess there's something bigger and better waiting for me around the corner. (Now I just have to work up the nerve to go for it--whatever "IT" may be.) :)

In any case, I'm able to relax now and try to finish my Christmas shopping. Can you believe it's next week?!?! I'm not even sure who I still need to buy for because I'm in the middle of projects that I don't think are going to get finished. Oh well--it's the thought that counts--right?

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Sunday already?

It's been a semi-productive weekend. Friday night I FINALLY went out and bought more lights for the tree and finished putting them on. If I counted correctly, my tree is now the bearer of 1200 colored lights! My mom gave me an angel to put on top, so I managed to get her situated so that she wouldn't fall off--that was quite an adventure in itself. Nevertheless, I persevered. My only problem is, do I now hang my ornaments, or do I just leave it as a lighted tree? I kind of like the effect of lights only, but then I also keep thinking how this is my first year to put up a tree, so shouldn't I decorate it completely? (Of course then I have an even longer clean-up...) Let me know what you think. This picture isn't the greatest, but it does show the lights...

Saturday I had to take my car into the shop to get my tires rotated and balanced and to figure out why the check engine light is on. I don't even remember what all they did to the car, but it ended up costing me $400--again! No wonder I can't afford to make car payments! Just about the time I start getting some space cleared off my credit card, my car goes into the shop again and it's filled back up. I'm really frustrated right now--it's like the mechanics see me a mile away--and this is the cheap place! Maybe I should invest in a moped--at least then it wouldn't break down as much--hopefully!

After sitting at the mechanic's for half the day, I decided to brave the traffic and try to finish my Christmas shopping. I think I have just about everything now--with the exception of 3 people. It's going to be a slim Christmas this year. There are about 7 extra people that I had to buy for this year that I hadn't planned on, so instead of making all of my gift like I had planned, I'm now investing in gift cards. Thankfully our local grocery stores are now carrying gift cards for various places, which has made shopping MUCH easier! Now, I just have to figure out how to wrap everything--YUCK!

Today I am attending church services online. I actually enjoy this more because I can attend in my PJ's and no one but God and I (and now you) know about it. Well, services are about to start, I can here the music playing on the other screen. Have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

First Time

There's a first time for everything and this year it's the first time I've ever put up a Christmas tree on my own! Seriously! Usually I decide not to decorate because I'm never home for the holidays. (Since I'm single, I'm the one that has to drive to everyone else's house to celebrate, and by the time I'm home, it's time to go back to work, so I haven't bothered.)

It's a bit of a Charlie Brown tree, but I did manage to get it put together without too many mishaps.

In any case, Madison decided that she was going to help with the tree too. Of course her version of helping is completely different from mine...

I foresee a trip to the Emergency Vet Clinic in our future!

While Madison helped with the tree, I ended up using 2 full strands of 200 lights (400 all together), and I've only covered one-third of the tree! I guess another trip to Walmart is in store. (No pun intended.)

I'm really excited about the Christmas season this year. I have no idea what the change is, but I feel like a little kid--almost giddy because Christmas is coming!

Speaking of which..."Rudolph" just came on, so I'm going to say bye for now so I can snuggle with Madison and watch! (Actually, she's already started watching it and is fascinated by the "deer".)

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, December 3, 2007

I'm ba-aa-ck!

I spent Thanksgiving at my real Dad's house in Abilene, Texas, and it snowed! Yes-REALLY! While I lived there it never snowed (thank you Lord!), but over the three days I was there for vacation, it did. For those of you that live in the northern regions, you're probably wondering what the big deal is, but I moved to Florida when I was 12--and haven't seen snow since then, so this was a BIG deal!

My step-brothers were making fun of me because I kept looking outside to see if it was still there. After we ate, I went outside to play for a little bit. Let me tell you, after 10 minutes, the thrill was gone. Unfortunately, my brothers decided to lock me outside in the freezing cold! No, I'm not exaggerating--look at the temperature!

In any case, I made some snow bears. The snow wasn't wet enough to roll and make a proper snowman, but I was able to pack it and make the mommy and baby snow bears.

Thankfully, my Dad finally felt sorry for me and let me back in. He had the fireplace roaring, so it didn't take long for me to thaw out. Yippee!

Unfortunately I was only there for three days, so we didn't get a chance to do too much. I didn't even get a chance to see my friends, which was a bummer because there's only so much t.v. that I can watch at a time. We did venture out for a bit on Black Friday

and I was given my Christmas present early--a Zune!!!! (It's Microsoft's answer to the iPod.) Yea--I can finally listen to my music everywhere I go--especially at the airport when I had to leave on a 6:30 am flight. Yep--you read it correctly--that was A.M.--as in o'dark early! It was so early, that I was able to see the sunrise from the plane.

Now, I'm back in sunny Florida! Just look at the pictures I took from the plane!


In any case, I'm now back to the daily grind and I'm trying to get everything finished before Christmas. YIKES!

Prayer Request:

I'm in the process of looking for another job--whether it's still in the library profession or something completely different--I'm open. God and I have been discussing many things here recently and change is one of them. I've been holding some things very closely (computer time, job, finances, etc.), and He's telling me that I need to loosen my grip and trust Him to take care of me. (Kind of hard for someone that has to do everything for herself or it doesn't get done.) Just keep me in your prayers. Thank you!!!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

December FIRST

YIKES! Happy December FIRST--a day late! (I was spending family time with my niece yesterday and we were having so much fun that I forgot to send out the posting.) Mea Culpa!

It is December 1st, time for the FIRST Day Blog Tour! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and his/her latest book's FIRST chapter!

This month's feature author is:

and her book:

The Minor Protection Act
Musterion (December 1, 2005)


Jodi Cowles caught the travel bug when her parents took her on her first international flight at six months of age. Since then she’s been in over 30 countries. Along the way she’s gotten locked out of her cabin on an all night train to Kiev, helped deliver a baby in Indonesia, taught English in South Korea, gone spelunking in Guam, hiked the Golan Heights and laid bricks in Zimbabwe. Her interest in politics stems from hunting Easter eggs on the south lawn of the White House as a child. For her 30th birthday she ran the LA Marathon and promised to get serious about publishing. Jodi resides in Boise, Idaho and this is her first novel.


If the politically correct set was searching for a poster couple, they would need to look no further than Erik and Roselyn Jessup. In college they lit up doobies while attending passionate speeches about legalizing marijuana and freeing Tibet. Erik was even arrested once for helping break into an animal research center. Roselyn bailed him out. After five years of dating they decided to tie the knot. Seven years later, after Roselyn had enough time to get established in her career, she gave birth to their pride and joy, Jayla Lynn Jessup.

Both had satisfying full-time jobs that left them only enough time to pour themselves into Jayla. They attended every event at school, even if it meant working overtime and paying the after school program for a few extra hours. When Jayla made the principal's list or won a spelling bee, they were cheering, and filming, from the front row.

Jayla began junior high at a brand new school with a brand new curriculum. It was being called "progressive" in the papers; the first program of its kind implemented in California with plans for a nationwide rollout over the next 10 years. Praise poured in from around the country, applauding the straight talk about sexuality and focus on tolerance.

Erik and Roselyn were thrilled to have their daughter in this groundbreaking program. Granted, it took several phone calls to district authorities to accomplish the transfer and Roselyn had to drive an extra 30 minutes each morning to drop off Jayla, but it was quite a coup to brag about in their circle of friends.

Jayla turned 13 two years into junior high. For her birthday she told her parents she wanted to order pizza and hang around the house – there was something she needed to tell them. Over pepperoni and Coke, Jayla calmly informed them that she'd been discussing it with her friends and teachers and had decided she was gay.

Though she had never had a girlfriend, or a boyfriend for that matter, Erik and Roselyn were quick to affirm her decision and let her know she had their full support. Roselyn applauded her daughter's honest, courageous move and told Jayla how proud she was. Erik was also supportive and went so far as to tease Jayla about her best friend Sara.

There weren't too many lesbians in her junior high and Jayla had a pretty average experience, but she attracted attention when she entered high school wearing the rainbow buttons specially purchased by her mother. Soon she was 15 and seriously involved with Carla, the 17-year-old senior who was President of the Gay Pride Club. When Erik and Roselyn saw the relationship deepening they sat Jayla down and had a heart to heart "sex talk," encouraging her to be responsible and safe, and only to have sex if she was truly in love.

She was. However, when the year ended Carla left for college on the east coast and broke off the relationship in a letter.

Jayla was heartbroken. Erik and Roselyn were quick to comfort, as any loving parents of a shattered teenager, but their answers seemed hollow to Jayla, their comfort cold. At 16 she began dabbling in drugs - a first for her.

By the time her senior year began the family bond that was once so strong had disintegrated to the degree that she seldom spoke to her parents unless it was to strike out in anger. She had not entered into another dating relationship, as much as they encouraged her in that direction. Rather, she seemed withdrawn from the world and spent endless hours either locked in her room or suspiciously absent. Finally, Roselyn had enough and took her to a doctor who prescribed an anti-depressant for teenagers that had just been released on the market.

By Christmas the medication seemed to be working. Jayla was coming around, spending more time at home. She seemed calmer and more at peace. They were even beginning to talk about college. But New Year's morning they found her dead, her anti-depressant bottle and a quart of vodka laying empty in the trash and a mass of journals and letters scattered around her in the bed.

Erik and Roselyn were devastated. Jayla had been their whole life. They dove into the letters and journals, trying to make sense of it all. What they found only served to inflame their anger. Some boy named Nick had been telling their daughter that she was a sinner, quoting Bible verses that said her sexual preference was an abomination before God. Jayla's journal was full of self-loathing, page after page about her relationship with Carla, page after page of rambling, agonizing pain. Why was she made like this if homosexuality was a sin? Why would her parents have supported her if it were an abomination? Why had she listened to the seventh grade teacher who told her experimentation was the best way to determine her sexuality? What was wrong with her?

They could hardly stand to finish it but they read every word. In the end their grief found relief, as it so often does, in bitterness and hatred. The day after Jayla's funeral, attended by hundreds of students from Jayla’s school, Erik and Roselyn met with the District Attorney. A year later, bitterness not yet assuaged, they went to see a lawyer. In the culture of America, where there is rarely tragedy unaccompanied by litigation, they found a willing law firm. Someone would pay.

Dynamic Uno here: While I haven't had a chance to read Jodi's book yet, the first chapter is so intense that I know the whole book is going to be a great read. I was really excited when I first received The Minor Protection Act in the mail, but it wasn't until about a week ago that I actually sat down and "explored" the book a bit. It was then that I found Jodi's personal note inside about the hospitable Floridians that helped her out when her transmission blew out this past summer. All I have to say is: Thank you Lord, for those wonderful people who stopped to help her out! Run to your local bookstore and buy The Minor Protection Act by Jodi Cowles! We can read and discuss her book together!