Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

Changes Happening

And so.. with the new year (and a bit of crash-learning) I finally made up my mind to move away from the confining safety of wordpress.com and get my own domain name.  Thanks to Geof, I’m all set up and running (although still a bit rough while I learn my way around!)

Update your bookmarks to http://thelostentwife.net!  Hope to see you there.


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Several of my .net friends, Kari, Geof and Brandi, do this and I’ve been wanting to start it for a while.  I was tempted to start in January and do it as a resolution, but I have a feeling December will be filled with quite a few good things – so there’s no harm in a little early resolution!

1. Made gingerbread cookies for the first time – and tasted them for the first time.  They were delicious.

2.  I got to babysit my neighbors young ones.  They are Cole and Grace’s age and are so much fun to watch!

3. Cole’s school got out early due to a gas leak, so I got to spend the day with my buddy.

4. Cole and I watched Labyrinth.  The first time for him, the 100th for me (or thereabouts!)

5.  My Huskers played the Texas Longhorns.  While we didn’t win, we sure put up a good fight! Love watching that Suh play.

6. Grace and I went shopping and bought her the cutest Christmas dresses ever!

7. I got to see The Pioneer Woman today!

8. I met a great gal at Barnes and Noble today and we exchanged contact info!  She has the same taste in books that I do. Should be fun.

9. I made Malboro Man’s favorite sandwich from my new cookbook.  It was delicious!

10. I was blessed yet again today and got to babysit some kiddos that I hadn’t sat for before!

11. Cole’s school had an HVAC issue, so, as a surprise, I got to pick the kiddo up at 11.  We had some good Aunt/Nephew time.

12. I got to spend some time with Gracie when I took her along to play with a friend during a sitting job!

13. Cole, Grace and I had hot cocoa and watched movies together.

14. I read a really good book today.

15. I met Neil Gaiman today.. and he signed my copy of The Graveyard Book.  This was awesome.

16. I got a nap today. It was amazing.

17. Grace’s Christmas program was today.  Not much else good happened – but lots of bad things did so I’ll just hang onto the memory of her program.

18. Cole’s Christmas program was today.  He looked adorable and did such a great job.  And I may have cried during Happy Birthday, Jesus.

19. Cole had a half day of school.  And then we all had a great nap.

20. I actually got a lot of laundry done..and put away today! This was a good thing!

21. Arrived in Illinois to spend Christmas with the family.

22. Saw Avatar with Mom, Alec, Candace, Ethan and Evan.  We all loved it.

23. Got to spend time with Meggan.  It’s always a good day when I spend it with Meggan.

24. Christmas Eve with the family… I went to bed wearing Rubber Ducky Footie PJ’s!

25. Christmas!

26. Took my mom and dad to see Avatar again.  Dad loved it as well!

27. Spend the entire day inside while it snowed outside.  Read a lot. Relaxed.

28. Spent the day relaxing again!  Got woken up early by my brother, but he made me laugh so it was okay.

29. Introduced my youngest brother, Evan, to The Princess Bride (20th Anniversary Edition).

30. Totally lucked out and replaced my five year old, broken glasses with a pair of glasses + lenses for a cheap $69!

31. End of the year 2009 – spent with just my parents watching Charlie Wilson’s War.  Goodbye 2009!

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Neil Gaiman Booksigning

A week ago Monday I woke up and experienced one of those nagging feelings in the back of my mind.  I couldn’t quite figure out what it was I was needing to do and it wasn’t until about 10:30am that I figured it out.

In Decatur, GA there is a locally owned bookstore named Little Shop of Stories.  Little Shop of Stories held a “Graveyard Book” Halloween party this year for a competition and, along with a story in Winnipeg, they won!  The reward?  A Neil Gaiman book signing.  And last Monday they opened up their phone lines to give away 100 tickets – 1 per each phone call.

1 1/2 hours later (and one phone death just as I’d finally gotten through), I had myself a pair of tickets. Tina and I were going to see Neil Gaiman at Agnes Scott College.  I was thrilled!

So off I went, armed with my copy of The Graveyard Book. Now, I don’t know what made me think that there would only be about 200 people there (The shop had given out 100 tickets in person as well), but what  a silly thing to think.  The final count was 1050 (according to Gaiman).  And there were children, lots of them as well!

Neil started the evening off by reading from Odd and the Frost Giants.  He told us how this book came about.  Apparently, in Europe, there is a National Reading Month (I couldn’t hear very well, but I think this is right).  And for this celebration, the authors write a short novel, for free.  The publishers publish it, for free (it must be short because that’s how much “free paper” they said they have, quipped Gaiman).  The bookstores give the books out in exchange for tokens, which children get, for free.  What an incredible and awesome idea.

So Gaiman began to read and everyone went silent.  In his dry, “British-y” voice, the story came to life.  We all giggled and were enraptured by the story.

Gaiman then answered some questions.  We learned how the story of Coraline came about, and we learned of the background to The Graveyard Book.  We also learned that people in the movie business are.. not all that bright (Does the Graveyard Book movie need to be set in a Graveyard?).  He gave us his opinion of T.S. Eliot, he spoke on the meaning of life.  He entertained us greatly for about 30 minutes.

And then he read from The Graveyard Book.  And the experience was.. incredible.

Afterward, Tina and I waited with some new friends until midnight to get our books signed.  He personalized each signing with a drawn graphic or a word suited to just that book.  Tina’s copy of Coraline got a picture of a mouse creeping across her title page.  Odd and the Frost Giants received the word “Dream”.  And my copy of The Graveyard Book … well…

Some other photos from the event.  Our new friend, Venessa, took these (www.venessagiunta.com) and graciously shared them with us!

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Murder on the Eiffel Tower is written by Claude Izner, who  actually are two sisters who are French booksellers based in Paris and, as the jacket describes, “experts on 19th century Paris”.

This is the story of Victor, a bookseller in Paris during the early 19th century and the famous exhibition showcasing the Eiffel Tower. A series of “bee stings” prompts a local paper to start calling them murders and sets Victor off on a path to find out “who done it”. This is one of those old fashioned mysteries. There are no secrets pulled out of a hat at the last minute. Clues are dropped throughout the entire book and you can assist Victor if you pay enough attention.

That being said, however, I think much of the book was lost in translation. What should have been a charming mystery ended up somewhat labored, difficult to understand in parts and filled with so much history and names of places it was hard to follow. Perhaps if I was a Paris native the book would have meant more to me. I felt absolutely zero connection with the characters, but this really didn’t surprise me. It’s difficult to really get the “feel” of a character when the book is not in its native language, in my experience. There have been a few exceptions, The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon comes to mind, but most of the time I have a hard time really getting into the character of the players in these type of books.

Overall, the feel of the book was somewhat like the feel of watching a French movie. Very artsy, almost whimsical in parts, more light-hearted than a good Sherlock Holmes mystery. I wish I could give it more than 2 stars, but I really don’t think the English version deserves more. I had checked out the book following this one, but I don’t think will be able to manage keeping myself awake long enough to read it.

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The Child Thief: A Novel by Brom

This is not your typical Disney Peter Pan retelling. Brom’s The Child Thief is gritty, dark, horrifying, fantastic, engrossing and full of more “real life” then should be present in any fairy tale.

This is the darker side of Peter. In the author’s notes at the end of the book, he makes note of some phrases he read in Barrie’s Peter Pan that made him begin to see the darker undertone of the story. At one point, Barrie speaks of Peter “thinning out” his Lost Boys.. when they get to be too many. When you hear someone speak of “thinning out” a group of people, just where does your mind go?

Aside from Peter, this book focuses on a young boy named Nick and his experiences with the Devils (the Lost Boys). There are gruesome battles, no pirates in this story, but a very suitable substitute. There are pixies and witches and elves. And did I mention that it’s dark?

Now, I will warn you. The language is foul in parts. When writing about some of the most obscene circumstances a child would want to run away from, it’s nearly impossible to refrain from placing words in those children’s mouths that a more fortunate child would not even know. So yes, the child being threatened by the drug dealer is going to drop some nasty language. This is not my justification for this, but understanding where these boys were coming from and what was involved in the story, it made it easier for me to glance over and and ignore the words, but still get the gist of the harshness of their lives.

And finally, the books theme is something interesting. We all think of Peter Pan and his friend Tinkerbell and say cute things like, wouldn’t it be wonderful to always be a child.. but I think maybe Brom understood more. Peter is a child who sought out other children who were unhappy. I mean, after all, Peter himself went out to play with fairies and came back to find his window locked against him and his place in his mother’s arms taken by another child. And what does Peter do when he finds these children? He convinces them to follow him, to fight his battles and to die for him.

This is not a story about the wonders and joys of being a child forever and ever. In fact, the only place that played a part in this story was when Brom brought to light just how horrifying that could be. This is a story of how easily it is to be caught in a trap of worship over the idea of someone, or an image they’ve projected, and find yourself dying because of how much you have devoted yourself to them. And at the end of the book, you may just find yourself asking along with Nick, was it worth it?

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The Pioneer Woman

Ree Drummond (aka The Pioneer Woman) is one of those people I discovered a few years ago and since then have followed her religiously.  Between the beautiful photographs (scenery and her gorgeous family) and the food.. oh, the food.. it’s impossible not to fall in love with what she does.  As I learned last night, she’s an incredible person as well.

Last night I made the journey into Buckhead to wait with an estimated 850 people to get my The Pioneer Woman Cooks autographed.  As a bonus, Bakerella was also in attendance, as were Betsy and Hyacinth (Both with recipes in the book.  Betsy is Ree’s sister, and Hyacinth a good friend of hers).

She was originally supposed to speak, but there were just too many people.  The Borders staff were stressed and overwhelmed and this was painfully obvious.  But despite that, the faces of the women (and even men!) around me were cheerful, smiling and incredibly patient.  These people wanted the chance to meet her, because what she does is just that good.

Four hours after my arrival at Borders I shook Ree’s hand, she personalized my book and I got my photo taken with her.  All of the stress of driving in traffic in an unfamiliar place, in sitting on the floor for four hours (Although I met some great people, some of whom might even be reading this blog!) seemed to melt away and I am so glad I went.  I made it home at 12:15am.  Hungry, exhausted and with a “my car won’t start!” scare behind me.  I did not get lost, I did not get into a horrible accident or get mugged (I’m such a small town girl lol).

However, I don’t know that I could do it again anytime soon.  I am glad I picked this one!

Me with Hyacinth (my right) and Betsy (my left)

Me with The Pioneer Woman!

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One of my favorite authors is Neil Gaiman.  He wrote some of my favorites, including Coraline, The Graveyard Book and Neverwhere.  He writes a blog at http://journal.neilgaiman.com/ which I stumbled across today while reading another blog.  In scanning through a question, and the subsequent answer, caught my eye and gave me one of those pauses.

It was this:

Dear Neil,
If you could choose a quote – either by you or another author – to be inscribed on the wall of a public library children’s area, what would it be?


I’m not sure I’d put a quote up, if it was me, and I had a library wall to deface. I think I’d just remind people of the power of stories, of why they exist in the first place. I’d put up the four words that anyone telling a story wants to hear. The ones that show that it’s working, and that pages will be turned:

…and then what happened?


I love when a writer (or anyone with an incredible ability to use words) is able to so completely and simplistically sum up what both a storyteller and a story listener understand.  Some of my most precious memories, especially in these most recent years, are looking at the eyes of Cole and Grace as they watch me and I spin a story about a silly boy and girl, or whatever strikes my fancy at the time.

And it got me thinking.. especially as this time of year comes around and we’re caught up in the decorations and the present buying and the festivities and parties..how simple of a story it was, especially to a child.  I tell Cole and Grace about the donkey and Joseph and Mary and the baby born in a manger and their eyes light up with the wonder of it all.  I can see them thinking about the starlight, and the animals, and the precious little baby.

But my favorite part is at the end of the story.. when we discuss the baby being given the gifts by the wise men.  Nothing makes my heart swell more to hear them both ask me, “and then what happened?“.

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