Showing posts from September, 2011

This and That

Part of the fun of attending the parent/teacher conference is just being at Maya's school. The classrooms are always so cheerful and overflowing with books and decorations. Right now, the hallway outside of her classroom door has the students' butterfly life cycle drawings on display, including the one by Maya above, because they actually observed the whole cycle for a class science project. Maya was a little sad the day they released the butterflies, but she loved the overall project.

The conference went well. I can tell Mrs. H. and Maya have a good rapport, and she looks forward to school every day. I'm relieved!

A few different mail-related bloggers I read pointed to the Send the Love campaign. I intend to follow the suggestion of drawing a heart with P.O. written inside on the back of personal mail in order to send the postal workers some appreciation.

Also, I added a "My Friends" link of blogs to the sidebar. If you want to be included (or want to be …

This and That

Maya's first meeting with her Brownies troop went well. Although she's the only new girl, she knew most of the other girls, and "social butterfly" could be her middle name. Since only one mom left during the meeting, I even had the chance to stay and observe. The girls obviously had a good time playing bingo, singing, eating a snack, etc., and the hour passed really quickly.

First parent-teacher conference of second grade to look forward to this evening. :)

Postal Service Workers Rally Against "Manufactured" Crisis contains this about the burden of prefunding postal workers' retirement system in a way that no other system is required to do:

According to testimony earlier this year from Ruth Goldway, chairman of the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC), the independent regulatory agency overseeing the postal service, "Without the [prefunding] requirement, the Postal Service would have broken even financially despite the large mail volume declines th…

Killer Elite

Movie poster taken from IMDb.

Herb and I went to see Killer Elite on Sunday because we really like Jason Statham, and we enjoyed the movie well enough. I liked the movie better, but how surprising is that when Clive Owen and Robert De Niro join Statham as serious eye candy?

Just as he's building a life for himself outside of his past as an assassin-for-hire, Danny (Statham) gets pulled back into the action to save his mentor, Hunter (De Niro), being held in Oman circa 1980. All Danny needs to do is kill some specific SAS, British special forces, targets in order to secure Hunter's release. . . .

Clive Owen adds to the complexity of the job in his role as Spike, ex-SAS and part of a secret society. [There's one pretty good fight scene between Owen and Statham.]

Overall, if you like action movies, this one is entertaining enough to justify the price of admission.

Has anyone else seen Killer Elite? What did you think?

I love Jason Statham. . . .

The Confession by John Grisham

Surprising admission--The Confession (2010) is my first John Grisham book, and the trigger to read this one came from my mom giving the book to me and saying, "I think you'll appreciate this one." Mom was right.

Travis Boyette kidnapped, raped, and murdered a high school cheerleader in 1998 in Texas, a state inextricably linked with the death penalty. Just released from prison in 2007 for another abduction, he confesses to a small-town Kansas minister. Sounds simple enough, but the twist is that Donte Drumm is four days away from being executed for the crime.

Grisham hits a lot of the problems with the death penalty in the United States in his work of fiction--the railroaded confession, the issue of race relations/racism (white victim, black "criminal"), social class, and vengeance clouding the issue (having someone punished can outweigh making certain the actual offender is in custody). Yes, this is an "agenda book," and I happen to agree with th…

Maya's First Fan Letter--The Answer

Miss Maya isn't in the mood to pose for photos at the moment, so pictures have to wait for a future post.

Here's the charming letter, typed, except for "Dear Maya" and "Yours sincerely [name]":

Balmoral Castle

12th September, 2011

Dear Maya,

The Queen wishes me to write and thank you for your letter.

Her Majesty thought it kind of you to tell her about yourself, and was pleased to hear that you too are fond of dogs and have two as pets.

I am enclosing some information sheets about the Royal Pets and Crown Jewels which I hope you will enjoy, and thank you again for your message of support for The Queen which was greatly appreciated.

Yours sincerely

Miss Maya Ford

This and That

Poor Allie, our Rottweiler, has a yeast infection in her right ear. Or, as the vet said, "multiple pockets of yeast in her ear." Lovely--NOT! Until the medicine starts working, she gets to wear this cone in order to stop her from scratching. She's moping a bit, and I swear Muffin, our Shih tzu, is laughing at her for being, as Maya and I call Allie with her cone, "a blue flower."

Maya has her first Brownie meeting on Friday evening. (Brownies are Girl Scouts in second and third grades.) The troop co-leader said in her e-mail message that I'm welcome to stay during meetings, and Maya is completely horrified by the idea. "Do the other moms stay?" Guess I'll be dropping her off and returning later, leaving her in independence for the twice-a-month meetings.

If you make a comment on this blog, you may notice a delay before your comment posts. Not too worry, I'm not actually censoring comments; I just had a recent series of "buy y…

What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell

The September selection for my work book club is What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell (2008).

Set in 1947 New York and Florida, fifteen-year-old Evie has a glamorous mother she wants to be and a war veteran stepfather she adores, and she's the perfect age for falling in love for the first time. When her stepfather's past returns to cause problems in the present, though, someone dies, and Evie is left in the difficult position of defining her own concepts of love and loyalty.

Besides the story, which is certainly interesting and heartbreaking enough, the writing style is also wonderful. A few examples of some of my favorite lines:

It's crazy how you can go from not being bored to being bored out of your mind in about the time it takes to ties your shoes.

I realized that there was something worse than not being asked to dance. It was being asked to dance by the wrong boy.

I didn't believe Peter meant what he said. I didn't wonder why a rich man's son would…


Two comments that would lead my family and close friends to immediately know how much I enjoyed watching the movie Drive yesterday--Ryan Gosling reminds me of James Dean, and Drive reminds me of a dark, dark version of The Sopranos.

Gosling plays a stunt car driver and mechanic who also serves as a wheelman/getaway driver. Carey Mulligan plays his neighbor--and his downfall. Strong message of "love ruins a man's life."

If you go to this movie, expect some graphic violence.

If you already saw Drive, what did you think of the movie?

This and That

Maya received a letter from Balmoral Castle. Yes, one of the Queen's ladies-in-waiting sent her a charming response to her fan letter. I'll share the text and some photos next week. I wish I could share Maya's scream of excitement when she saw the envelope with the Royal Mail postmark.

My mom's friend is spending some time in China. You can learn more about her experience on her site here.

My friend and pen pal Dana is quoted in a recent story about snail mail in the Boston Globe. Learn more on this post on her blog, Save Snail Mail. Some of my favorite posts from her fantastic blog include the ones on her trip to France and the one on mail delivery in rural West Virginia.

Since I managed to make this entire week about the Blue Angels on my blog, you might also want to stop by their site. They completely need to start a kids' fan club!

Have a great weekend!

It's a Small World

I sent my sister an e-mail message with a photo of Maya at the airshow, and I mentioned that she wanted to know if girls could be Blue Angels. My sister sent this photo in response. The woman in the Navy recruiting photo from 2010 happens to be my sister's business partner's niece and a former Blue Angels crew chief.

Maya has a new role model.

Photos from Guardians of Freedom Show--September 10, 2011

You should check the Guardians of Freedom Airshow Gallery from the Lincoln Journal-Star if you want to see some fantastic photos from an absolutely wonderful show.
Maya by the plane from Oregon where she bought the first coin in her new commemorative coin collection.
The pilot in this plane is from Lincoln.
Demonstrating some of what they do on missions.
The Blue Angels. Should I be worried that Maya asked if girls can be Blue Angels?

Guardians of Freedom Airshow--September 10 & 11, 2011

Maya and I are looking forward to the Guardians of Freedom Airshow this weekend at the old Lincoln Air Force base. This year's free show honors the tenth anniversary of 9/11 and 100 years of naval aviation.

Herb, his oldest brother, and Maya attended the airshow held here in September 2006. I can tell from the photos that I missed a really fun day. Maya still says, "I wanted to bring that plane home" about one of the display planes she's beside in one of the photos. Judging by the look on her face in the picture, I'm glad Daddy had to handle that "no." She's also looking forward to replacing her Blue Angels stuffed plane that quit making flight noises.

Hope you have a spectacular weekend planned.

This and That

The photo is of the library where I work. I'm taking a really interesting, fun online continuing education class called Evidence Based Medicine and the Medical Librarian through the University of North Carolina, and one of the discussion board sections involves adding a photo of where you work. There are computers in the library, too; this is my "old school library" photo.

I'm really enjoying this class, especially since the online format takes away from my usual (extreme) shyness in group settings. I *ahem* might, maybe have the most comments in the class on the discussion board at this point.

I definitely think I could be a professional student. I'm still waiting to hear back about the admissions decision for the program to get my teaching certification in consumer science. Except for the practice teaching, the program is all online. I'll keep you posted, as always.

How's your weather? We're currently having actual fall weather. I love th…

The Attack by Yasmina Khadra

My first blog post about a book in way too long is on the fictional The Attack by Yasmina Khadra, pen name for Algerian-born author Mohammed Moulessehoul, (2005 in the original French, translated to English by John Cullen in 2006).

Arab-Israeli surgeon Amin Jaafari, a prominent physician in Tel Aviv, is told his wife, Sihem, is responsible for a suicide bombing that killed seventeen people, including many children. He knows that can't be true, that Sihem is actually one of the victims.

Then Amin receives the letter Sihem sent to him the day before the attack.

On Amin's subsequent search for the truth about the wife he thought he knew, the reader sees a man's life completely unravel against the backdrop of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The ending, which I didn't see coming until it slammed into me, isn't ever going to leave me.

See this author interview on Blogcritics to learn more about Khadra.

My overall rating of The Attack is an A. I'm off to read Kha…

This and That

Hope everyone in the U.S. reading this had a great Labor Day weekend. We had the chance to attend two birthday parties, visit Barnes & Noble, have lunch with a friend, watch DVDs, and write lots of postcards and letters. I sent mail to The Netherlands, China, Russia, and Canada, in addition to North Carolina, California, Texas, New Mexico, Wisconsin, and Iowa. The perfect three-day weekend!

I also watched part of the first Nebraska football game of the season. They looked a little rough, but I know they can't share the whole set of skills in the season opener. I'm hoping to see more of this week's game, though that's a challenge with a seven-year-old!

I'm feeling a little more secure at work after my annual evaluation last Monday. I think there are some big changes coming in terms of my responsibilities, though that's a relief compared to job elimination. I'll share details when I can.

How's everything in your world?

Bloggers--Write a Post, Help a Dog!!

Copied from Books and Things:

Pedigree is resurrecting is insanely successful Write a Post, Help a Dog program. In 2010, 391 bloggers wrote about the program and with each post, Pedigree donated 20 pounds of its Healthy Longevity dog food to shelter animals. In all, 7,820 pounds of food was donated to two shelters renowned for their care of senior dogs: Muttville Senior Dog Rescue in San Francisco and Castaway Critters in Harrisburg, Pa.

How you can help in 2011

Simply spread the word about Write a Post, Help a Dog 2011 and once again Pedigree will donate 20 pounds of food for each blogger's post. Here's all you need to include in your post:

The Pedigree Foundation depends on charitable contributions from individuals to carry out its mission to help dogs find loving homes. In addition to writing a blog post, here's how you can help:

Donate online at

Apply for a shelter grant from the Pedigree Foundation by completing a form atwww…

Maya's First Fan Letter

Maya sent her first official fan letter this week. The recipient? Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

She sat at our kitchen table and discarded three drafts before being satisfied enough with her fourth draft for mailing purposes. I didn't think to take a picture of her lovely handwriting before putting the letter in the mail.

I do, however, remember my two favorite lines from the letter, which all came from Maya. She only consulted me on spelling for a couple of the longer words.

I would like to have a crown and as many dogs as you do.

You are my favorite famous person.

The Many Faces of Maya--August 27, 2011

Reaction to the hot soup.
"Are you taking my picture?"
"Come on!"
Cheesy grin pose.

Letter from Joel

[In my last letter to Joel, I sent a couple of photos from a trip to the zoo, along with asking if he started school this year.]

I like the penguins. I will go to school next year. I like dogs, lions, tigers, pigs, and cats. Thank you for the letter. Your friend, Joel
To learn more about House of Dreams, the orphanage in Bolivia where Joel lives, you can go to their blog here or their site here.

FAQs from the blog:
- how many Dreamers are there? 17
- girls? 7
- boys? 10
- the youngest? 3 years old
- the oldest? 10 years old
- total kids helped to date? 53
- founding year? 2006
- location? Cochabamba, Bolivia