Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Happy New Year!

Vicki has a friend at school this year who happens to be an Orthodox Jew. This friendship has been a great learning opportunity for our family, and especially for Vicki. Chris and I really want to encourage our children to respect all beliefs, no matter how different they are from our own. It's much easier to respect something when you understand it, so I'm excited to live in such a diverse place, where my children have friends from all kinds of backgrounds.
Today is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. It began last night at sundown, and Vicki and I, along with another friend and her mother, were invited to join her friend's family for their Rosh Hashanah meal. It was a great experience.
We got to see them light the candles and hear the traditional prayers, like kiddish on the wine (which was just sparkling grape juice because they don't drink either) and the blessing on the challah. The coolest thing was hearing Vicki's friend, who is 7, and her 3 year old brother sing the prayers in Hebrew. Their mom or their family friend would translate them into English for us so we knew what was being said. We ate apples dipped in honey for a sweet New Year, and golden carrots to wish us wealth in the New Year. We also had kugel, salmon, and macaroni and cheese (at the kids' request). There was apple challah, and for dessert we had honey cake, again for a sweet New Year, and spice cake, to liven things up for the New Year. Our friends informed us that Jewish holidays are always about one of two things, or a combination of them: remembering when people were trying to oppress the Jews, in which case they fast, or celebrating that they didn't all get killed, in which case they eat until they burst. This was definitely a holiday of rememberance, at least according to those stipulations. And when I said I was going to pass on another piece of challah because I was saving room for dessert, I got the "Jewish mother" treatment (jokingly, of course): "What, you don't like it? I made it for you, so how could you not like it? No, no, don't worry about me, then. I'll just sit here all alone. In the dark." Yes, Jewish people seem to have a great sense of humor about themselves.
After dinner we read some stories about Rosh Hashanah: Gershon's Monster and When the Chickens Went on Strike, both of which are great books about customs of the holiday (another great one is The White Ram, which we checked out from the library in anticipation of the event). The highlight of the evening, though, was getting to hear Vicki's friend blow her shofar, which is a ram's horn and is blown on Rosh Hashanah to call in the New Year. Then they gave toy shofars to Vicki and her friend. They sound like those party favor horns. (That was not the highlight of the evening.) We had a great time and learned a lot more about Jewish beliefs. I enjoyed seeing the similarities and differences between what they believe and what we do, and Vicki just said the whole thing was "really cool!"
Shanah Tovah, everyone!

Monday, September 22, 2008

And the grammar gods looked down on us and wept

I heard this poem on the radio today (yes, I listen to talk radio). I'm a confessed grammar vigilante, so this struck home. Enjoy.

Windows Is Shutting Down
by Clive James

Windows is shutting down, and grammar are
On their last leg. So what am we to do?
A letter of complaint go just so far,
Proving the only one in step are you.

Better, perhaps, to simply let it goes.
A sentence have to be screwed pretty bad
Before they gets to where you doesnt knows
The meaning what it must of meant to had.

The meteor have hit. Extinction spread,
But evolution do not stop for that.
A mutant languages rise from the dead
And all them rules is suddenly old hat.

Too bad for we, us what has had so long
The best seat from the only game in town.
But there it am, and whom can say its wrong?
Those are the break. Windows is shutting down.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Hi, my name is Allison and I'm an internet quiz addict

Okay, so we all know I'm not exactly what you'd call a Jane Austen fan. I'm not entirely sure what prompted me to take this quiz, except maybe the compulisive urge we all secretly harbor to take every quiz ever posted on the internet, just to see what the results might be. You know what I'm talking about, right? Right?

Anyway, I followed the link Shelly posted and took the "which Jane Austen heroine are you?" quiz, and here are my results:

Now, since I've never heard of this person (although I do know it's Emma Thompson in the picture - I get a point for that, right?), will someone please tell me what this means?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What a difference a year makes!

These two pictures were taken on the same path, standing on the same little tree stump, almost exactly a year apart. My baby is getting really big! (sniff)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Hallelujah! We're camping! We're camping!

We Eberts love to camp, no doubt about it. We just don't do it very often. The last time our entire family went camping together was July of 2005, pre-Ellie, at a ward campout. I was 7 months pregnant and we stayed one night. Vicki and Lexi went last summer with Grandma and Grandpa E., but Chris, Ellie, and I stayed home. The girls and I did the Brownie backyard campout a few weeks ago, and Vicki and I have been to Girl Scout camp each spring for the past two years (although it's debatable whether that realy counts as camping, since we slept in heated cabins with electricity and everything). But we have never, since Ellie was born, been camping as a family. It was time.

We loaded up the car (and I mean LOADED - who knew a family of five needed so much stuff for a three-day stop in the mountains? Sheeeeeees...) and took off first thing Thursday morning. We went to Trillium Lake because we've been there once before, to the day-use area, and loved it. you can't reserve anything after Labor Day, but we figured on a Thursday in September, how crowded could it possibly be? Sure enough, we had the pick of campsites, so we chose one that looked big enough for the girls to run around, far enough from other campers that we wouldn't drive them nuts with the girly screaming, and close enough to the potties to make emergency runs easy, but far enough to keep the smell away (Ellie dubbed them the "Icky blicky stinky potties").

We were immediately befriended by the local chipmunks, who we dubbed Chip and Charlie because we never saw more than two at a time, and a whole flock of bluejays, who all delighted in our abundant food supply.

Chip or Charlie

Over the course of the three days the girls helped cut firewood, learned to light a fire, hiked two miles around the lake, found numerous fairy houses, made their own "nature fairies", put on shows on a tree stump stage, swung on tree branches, drank gallons of cocoa, made s'mores (of course), found a lollipop tree, and just basically had a really good time. And Chris and I just chilled. It was relaxing, re-energizing, and delightful.

Following are pictures from some of my favorite moments of the trip. Enjoy!

Beautiful Mt. Hood reflected in equally beautiful Trillium lake.

Vicki and her fairy teepee. Before it fell down...
...and right after it fell down.
Lexi putting on a show for her sister
And sitting in the "chair tree". Look closely at this tree. I have no idea how it grew this way, but it was the coolest tree ever.
Mom in the chair tree. The really cool picture of me standing on it looking all tough didn't turn out, but you can see my awesome biker chick bandana. Super short hair is not conducive to camping.
Ellie pointing out the characters from her favorite movie, A Bug's Life. Right after she gleefully named them all, she cheefully stomped on them while Chris and I looked on in hysterical horror.
Ellie playing Hide & Seek. Notice all the great hiding spots surrounding her, and yet she goes for the toddler "if I can't see you, you can't see me" hiding spot. And she was shocked when Vicki spotted her so quickly.

Our Dutch oven alphabet scones. We decided that the Dutch oven fajitas are a definite do-again dish, but the scones and hamburgers...not so much. Well, we'll do the scones again, but over the camp stove instead of coals. But it made for a really cool (ha!) picture!
Vicki, ever the Scout, ran ahead on our hike around the lake and left trail markers for the rest of us to follow.
Here are the Nature Fairies. And their Nature Fairy creations, made exclusively from things found in...you guessed it...nature!
Ellie thoroughly enjoyed the fruit of the lollipop tree.
So, you ask, how do you truly know your kids had fun camping? Well...

Monday, September 8, 2008

How does your garden grow?

With peas...
Beautiful basil (and various other herbs)...
Really cool-looking cauliflower...
...in purple, too...
And little purple potatoes...
Can you tell we like purple?
Pumpkins that will hopefully store until Halloween...
And enough tomatoes...
To make salsa...
And the yummiest homemade, from scratch, tomato soup in the world!
We love our garden!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Breaking down Breaking Dawn

***This post contains many spoilers. If you haven't read the book yet and still plan to, you may want to skip this one!***
I loved Twilight. I enjoyed New Moon and Eclipse. I have always felt slightly embarrassed to admit that, but then I guess I shouldn’t, considering every other woman I know who’s remotely near my age has read them or is currently reading them. The books were exciting, the writing entertaining, the series full of potential. I waited anxiously for Breaking Dawn to come out, and re-read the first three books in anticipation. I even went so far as to cave in and buy it three days before my hold came up at the library because I couldn’t wait any longer.

And I feel terribly let down. Until I read Angie’s review, I thought I was the only one who felt this way. Everybody I know keeps talking about how much they loved it. Not me. Oh, I tried to love it, I really did. I tried to be all excited and bask in the happiness and perfection of Bella's vampiric self and family and all that, and it worked for a little while, but I just kept coming back to the disappointment. What happened to the story? The characters? Where did everyone go? Who on earth, in any world – with or without vampires and werewolves – names their child that??? The first half of the book was kind of exciting, in a bizarre, creepy (not good-creepy) sort of way. The second half was unbearably boring. I was so bewildered when I finished that I read the entire book again, just to see if I’d gone through too fast the first time (read it in two days the first time around - I will admit that I couldn't put it down). Sadly, no. It felt like the “climax” of the book was all the characters standing around in a field waiting for something exciting to happen. Wait, they were all standing around in a field waiting for something exciting to happen. Aha. Twilight had an intense ending, with the James chase and the ballet studio. New Moon had the rush to Italy and the encounter with the Volturi. Eclipse had the big Victoria/newborn battle, with everyone we loved involved. Breaking Dawn had…a bunch of people in a field, a creeping mist, and newborn vampire so completely in control of herself that she’s just plain boring – where’s the action and excitement? It was the most anticlimactic book I have read in a long time. Possibly ever. Such a disappointment.

Do I sound bitter? I am. I was all geared up to love it. I may consider myself too old for these books. I may be embarrassed to admit that I’ve read them and enjoyed them. But for crying out loud, I wanted to see how it all came together! I wanted Bella to sacrifice everything she had or could have had in order to get everything she desired. I wanted her to end up with Edward without losing her relationship with Jacob. Okay, so that part happened…sort of. But where was the sacrifice? What did Bella give up? Not a thing. She got everything she never even wanted, and everything she ever dreamed of. The Bella in this book seemed like a completely different person from the Bella we know and love (or at least love to roll our eyes at) from the first three books. And Edward…where was he? He went from a caricature of his beloved tortured self during the honeymoon and horrible pregnancy and birth to wallpaper in the rest of the book. He was there, but he was just a shell. And Alice! My favorite character, gone, for essentially the entire book. It was interesting to have Jacob’s perspective for a while, but even he became irritating – so angry and bitter all. the. time.

I have a theory. Stephenie Meyer has said that she wrote a book called Forever Dawn after Twilight as a gift to her sister. She also said that it would never need to be published because everything important that happens in it is in Breaking Dawn. I think Forever Dawn was written before the characters were fully formulated, and my theory is that she ran out of time for writing Breaking Dawn, so she just…borrowed. But never updated. I could be totally wrong, so please nobody quote me on this. But it feels like Breaking Dawn was never revised or edited from its original draft. Great idea, awful book.

So, since this is a blog and not simply a book review (and moreover, it’s my own personal blog and I can do what I want, darnit!), tell me what you thought. Did you love it or hate it? Or fall somewhere in between? The first meeting of the Breaking Dawn Rant book club will now come to order.


From the district-produced Student and Parent Handbook for the girls' school:

...A student with certain diseases is not allowed to come to school while
the disease is contagious. These diseases include chicken pox, diptheria,
measles, meningitis, mumps, lice infestations, whooping cough, plague, rubella,
scabies, staph infections, strep infections and tuberculosis. Parents with
questions should contact the school office.

Um...I have a question...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Back to School!

World's cutest 1st and 3rd graders!

Both girls were up at the crack of dawn, bouncing around in their new school clothes (brown is the color this year, apparently, at least for my children), wolfing down breakfast, repeatedly asking if it was time to go yet. It was actually probably a good thing they kept asking, because I had forgotten what time we have to leave if we're walking to school and had it in my mind that we needed to leave at 8:30, which is the driving time. When we walk we shoot for 8:15. We made it on time (barely), though, and both girls went straight to their lines and patiently let me kiss them goodbye before going inside. They didn't roll their eyes at me too much.

See, this year is no big deal for either of them. Vicki was in a 2nd/3rd grade split class last year and will have the same teacher again - she'll just be one of the "big kids" in the class this year. Lexi's teacher this year was Vicki's teacher for both kindergarten and 1st grade, and Lexi spent a considerable amount of time visiting the classroom with me over those two years. Plus I babysit her daughter, so she's even been to our house! So neither girl had a new teacher to be nervous about, they're both familiar with the classrooms, and they both have at least two good friends in their class. A breeze!

Monday, September 1, 2008

It's probably time for Mom to stop reading other people's blogs and start making dinner already...

...when the 2-year-old gets fed up with everyone's complaining and decides to take matters into her own hands: she marches up to Dad with a bag of hot dog buns in one hand and a plastic spoon in the other and proudly announces, "I'm making pizza!"
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