Saturday, February 28, 2009

In Her Shoes

In Her Shoes, by Jennifer Weiner, 2002. (421 pp.)

I thought it was time to pick up a silly little chick lit book, so this is one that I grabbed at the library last week. I try not to expect too much from these books, since they're normally just entertaining fluff.

On my goodreads review, I said that I would give this book 2.5 stars if I could. (Goodreads only allows full stars to be I gave it 2 stars on there.) It was relatively entertaining, which is what I would looking for. However, the characters seemed rather unbelievable, and I couldn't really understand their reactions to some things that happened. I felt like the author spent a lot of time building up a certain problem (that had been going on for years in these characters' lives), and then it seemed to be solved with very little effort and in the matter of just a couple dozen pages. The two main characters are sisters who are very different from each other. Based on the title of the book, I figured that these girls would eventually learn to see her sister's life from the other perspective...walk "in her shoes" for a little while to gain greater understanding. But no...they literally wore each others' shoes on occasion, but that's about it.

So if you're looking for light, entertaining fluff, you could do worse than this book. But don't pick it up hoping to be enlightened in any way.


Total number of books read in 2009: 11

Total number of pages read in 2009: 5088

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Going Slowly might remember that before Christmas, I was crocheting. I had used a book and some online tutorials to teach myself how to crochet, and I managed to make a couple of scarves. Two of them are now sitting in my closet, and two of them were sent out as Christmas gifts. Unfortunately, that is the extent of my finished crochet projects.

However, I really do have good intentions of continuing to crochet! I think my current problem is that I chose a project that is going to take quite a long time, and I tend to do my crocheting in spurts. I might spend a few hours working on it one night, and then I won't pick it up again for a week. This week, I have been trying to do a little more crocheting and a little less reading. (What I really need, I think, is audiobooks that I could listen to while I'm crocheting...I need to think about that a little more.)

So what is this project I've been slowly working on since sometime in early January? It's a blanket. Here is what I have so far:
As you can see, it's a very simple blanket. Not really much of a pattern...just lots and lots of raspberry colored yarn. In case you can't get an idea of the scale, I could probably stop soon and have a decent-sized baby blanket. But I want to make it something that Shawn and I could actually use when we want to snuggle up on the couch and watch TV. As of right now, it's definitely still wider than it is long, so I still have quite a bit of work ahead of me. Once I finish with the raspberry color, it will get trimmed in a different color, using a different stitch.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Thursday Thirteen #5

Thursday Thirteen!
For today's Thursday Thirteen, I'm going to tell you 13 Facts about Rugby. This is a sport that I'd never seen until I met Shawn, and now I love to watch it. So here are some bits of information about the game itself...I'll save the "cultural" details for some other post. :)

1. History of the game: If you really want to learn a lot about the history of rugby, click here for the Wikipedia article. However, most ruggers (aka - rugby players) will tell you that it all started with William Webb Ellis. At Rugby School in England, there is a stone that "commemorates William Webb Ellis who, with a fine disregard for the rules of football as played in his time, first took the ball in his arms and ran with it, thus originating the distinctive feature of the rugby game." This supposedly happened in 1823.

2. "Varieties" of rugby: The "regular" game of rugby is actually Rugby Union. However, there is Rugby League, which has a slightly different set of rules. There is also 7's Rugby, which is a much shorter game (7 minute halves) played with fewer players (7 on each team). You will also occasionally find 10's rugby, although Shawn tells me that it's typically reserved for social tournaments. The rest of this list is referring to rugby union.

3. The playing field: First of all, in rugby, it's called a "pitch." (That's actually the same for soccer, too.) From goal line to goal line, the pitch must be no more than 100 meters. The width needs to be no more than 70 meters. The goal posts (similar to American football) are 5.6 meters wide, and the bar is 3 meters above the ground.

4. Scoring: Think of a touchdown in football. It's the same basic concept here, except that the player who is in control of the ball must literally touch it down in the "try zone" in order to score. This is called a "try," and it's worth 5 points.

5. Points After Try: When a try is scored, the team gets to kick for extra points. However, unlike football, the ball is not automatically placed in front of the goal posts. The ball placement is determined by the location of the try. If the kick is good, it is worth 2 points.

6. Penalty Kicks: Sometimes, when a team commits a penalty, the other team is awarded a penalty kick. This is basically like a field goal in American football, and it is worth 3 points if it's good.

7. Positions and Numbers: There are 15 players for each team on the field during play. Each player wears a jersey with a number that corresponds to the position that he is playing. #1 - Prop; #2 - Hooker; #3 - Prop; #4 and #5 - Lock; #6 and #7 - Flanker; #8 - Number 8 (brilliant, isn't it?); #9 - Scrum half; #10 - Fly half; #11 - Wing; #12 and #13 - Center; #14 - Wing; #15 - Fullback. This shows how the players typically line up for a scrum. 8. Game length: A typically game is played in two, 40-minute halves. The game clock really doesn't stop running, with the rare exception of a very serious injury that needs to be attended to. The play itself only stops when the ball goes out of bounds, or if a penalty is committed.

9. Scrum: When the play stops because of a penalty, a scrum usually takes place. This is where the "pack" (#1-#8) of each team creates a fairly solid huddle. The packs then crouch down and at the signal from the ref, the front row of each pack begins to use their head/neck/shoulders to push on the other team's pack. The ball is put into the scrum from the side, and the players use their feet to get possession of the ball and then pass it back towards the rest of their teammates. This explains why Shawn (who plays in the front row) has had stitches across his eyebrows more than once. This is a scrum.
10. Lineout: If the ball goes out of bounds, a scrum is not used to restart play. Instead, there is a lineout. It's complicated, but basically, the team who should get the ball has a player throw the ball back in bounds. However, either team can catch the ball and retain possession. So, the teams line up parrallel with each other. When the ball is thrown (ideally, rather high in the air), the teams will lift a player (or two, depending on strategy) so that he can catch it. This is a lineout.

11. Moving the ball forward: A player can hold the ball and run with it. A player can also choose to kick the ball forward. However, a player cannot pass the ball forward. At any time, he can choose to pass the ball to a teammate. This is perfectly legal, as long as the ball is thrown behind him. Oh, and if he drops the ball, he can pick it up again, as long as the ball didn't go forward when it bounced. If that happens, it's called a knock on, and there will be a scrum (with the other team putting the ball in).

12. Being tackled: If the player is tackled, the play does not stop. The other team, of course, would like to take the ball from him and run. However, the player is allowed one motion after being tackled, and if he's smart, he'll use that motion to place the ball behind him...close to his team, and away from the other team. This is when a ruck typically takes place...but frankly, it's hard to explain and this thing is too long already. :)

13. Uniforms and protection: A rugby player will wear his team's jersey, rugby shorts (typically rather short, frankly), socks pulled up to his knees (and usually tied to stay in place), and rugby cleats. For the most part, that's it. Unlike American football, ruggers don't wear pads. Occasionally, some of the players will wear very thin protective padding on their shoulders/chests. A few players (normally the locks) will wear a scrum cap, which has a slight bit of padding...but this is to protect their ears in a scrum. It's definitely not a helmet.

So there you go! Everything you need to know in order to watch and understand the game of rugby....or at least, it's enough to get you started. :)


Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon, 1991. (627 pp.)

I've been hearing lots of good things about this book for months now, so I finally decided to check it out from the library. The basic premise of the book is this: a woman visiting Scotland somehow "falls through" some kind of time warp and finds herself in mid-18th century Scotland. Adventure and romance ensues.

For the first 200 pages or so, I thought that the book was good but not outstanding. However, somewhere around the 200 page mark, I found myself getting completely drawn in to the story. The main character, Claire, has no time to figure out where (or when) she is before she is pretty much kidnapped by a bunch of Scottish Highlanders (who may have saved her life in the process). She obviously can't tell these people that she's from the future; however, her unwillingness to tell many details about her life make many of the people she meets suspect her of being a spy for the English. Fortunately, her previous life as a World War II field nurse has given her some unique talents that the MacKenzie clan finds valuable, so for the most part, she is welcomed and respected by the Scots. One of the first people she meets is the Highlander warrior, Jamie Fraser. Their lives quickly become inextricably entwined...which makes the story much more interesting. ;)

I thought that this book was wonderful. The sticker from the library has it labeled as "fantasy," but I think that historical fiction would be a much more appropriate label. The only "fantasy" element is the time travel. The author does an excellent job of describing the beautiful and dangerous way of life for the Highland clans in 1743. The book is at times educational, romantic, funny, heartwrenching, sexy, sad, and triumphant. I found myself truly engrossed in the situations and in the characters' lives. Although this is a story that can easily stand on its own, I'm glad that it is just the first book in the I'll have at least six more books to read about Claire and Jamie. (Book 7 comes out this fall.)


Total number of books read in 2009: 10

Total number of pages read in 2009: 4667

Monday, February 23, 2009


Not a whole lot has been going on in our household lately. On Friday, I did a lot of reading while Shawn was at work, and then we ate dinner at home and stayed up to watch Battlestar Galactica. I've never really watched it before this season, but Shawn's been helping me understand what's going on. Too bad this is the final season. We also played a game of Carcassonne, and Shawn beat me by so many points that we didn't even bother to finish adding all of them up.

On Saturday, Shawn had a rugby match. His team was playing against college kids (with some adults thrown in) from University of Washington. I lost track of the score when Shawn's team was up, 54-0, but I know they eventually won. The kids also did eventually score a couple tries. After the game, we decided to go out to dinner. We both ate way too much at dinner, and then we stopped by Coldstone Creamery and we both ate way too much ice cream. But it was really good. :)

On Sunday, after going to church, we pretty much just lazed around the apartment. ABC actually showed highlights from the USA Rugby 7s tournament that was held in San Diego over Valentine's weekend, so we watched that.

I'm excited to go to Colorado next weekend for the Romp to Stomp Out Breast Cancer! If you're interested in donating to this cause, you can click here to go to my fundraising page.

We also found out last night that our friends Jarid and Sarah may be coming to visit us for a few days in March! We're super excited to have them out here...we've been missing our friends, and it'll be really fun to show them around the area.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Plum Lucky

Plum Lucky, by Janet Evanovich, 2007 (166 pp.)

This is another one of the completely random books that I picked up at the library the other day. I've heard lots of good things about Janet Evanovich's books, and specifically I've heard good things about the Stephanie Plum books. Because this is a "Between-the-Numbers" novel, I figured it's not technically part of the "Numbers" series, so I thought it would be okay to read it.

It was okay. It was mildly entertaining for the two hours it took me to read the entire thing. Frankly, I thought the majority of the plot was entirely ridiculous, but whatever...I was looking for a book that wouldn't require heavy thinking, and this certainly fit the bill. There was basically no character development, but I'm willing to assume that the author is assuming the reader has read the other Stephanie Plum books and therefore already knows all the characters.

So...this isn't a book I'd recommend unless you've read the other Stephanie Plum books. I am planning on reading One For the Money one of these days, so it's not like this book has turned me off from Evanovich altogether.
Total number of books read in 2009: 9
Total number of pages read in 2009: 4040

Thursday Thirteen #4

(This image provided by Samulli.)
It's Thursday again! For today's Thursday Thirteen, I took my computer over to our overflowing bookshelf and chose 13 Random Books on my Shelf.
1. Literary Trips: Following the Footsteps of Fame, edited by Victoria Brooks
My brother gave this to me one year for Christmas. I should admit that I've never read the whole thing, but what I have read is interesting. It really is a travel book, with "touritst" information about the various places described, but all of the places in the book were important for one reason or another to a particular author.
2. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
I remember really loving this book when I first read it in high school, but I seriously could remember almost nothing about it. I was thrilled when it was the book chosen for my first book club meeting, and I'm glad this is one I bought instead of just borrowing it from the library.
3. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz
I bought this book over the summer based on rave reviews I had read. I did not enjoy this book. It won a Pulitzer Prize in 2008, so I'm guessing I missed something.
4. The Complete Plays of Sophocles
I'm pretty sure this is leftover from one of my college classes. So I know that I've read some of the plays, but probably not all of them.
5. The Confessions of St. Augustine, translated by Rex Warner
I did read this shortly after finishing college. I remember that I really struggled with understanding parts of it, but at that point, my goal was simply to be able to say that I'd finished it. I think I'll give it another read eventually.
6. Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella
Ah, from theology and philosophy to chick lit. :) This was actually the first "chick lit" book I think I ever read (at least, since I learned that it had more or less become its own genre). I actually really enjoyed it. Occasionally, it's very refreshing to read something that's just "fluff" and that I don't have to concentrate on to enjoy.
7. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
Since the "three" books were always intended to be read as one, I'm counting it as one book. I adore this book. The storyline is amazing, the themes are powerful, and the writing is beautiful. I loved the movies, and the book is 10 times better. I'm planning to reread it soon.
8. The Metamorphoses by Ovid
This is another leftover from a college class. However, I will say that I'm 95% sure that I actually did all of my assigned reading for that class ("Mythology" with Dr. Holmes, freshman year), so I'm pretty sure I've read the entire book.
9. The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot
I read this book for senior year AP English Lit. I fell in love with George Eliot, and I chose to write my "regular" senior English paper on the symbolism in this book. This is another one I need to reread.
10. Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi
I have to admit that I didn't love this book nearly as much as I was hoping I would. I wonder if it's at least partially because I hadn't read a lot of the books that she was using as references. Maybe I'll try it again someday...or at least maybe I'll read more of the books that were so powerful in her life.
11. Three by Flannery O'Connor (This is actually a collection that contains Everything That Rises Must Converge, The Violent Bear It Away, and Wise Blood.)
I first discovered O'Connor when I did a research paper on her life and works in 10th grade English. I was on a big "anything Irish is wonderful" kick, and when I saw the name on the list of authors to choose from, I assumed she was Irish (I also assumed she was a man...I learned a lot by writing that paper). This book was another from senior year AP Lit. I love O'Connor's writing.
12. Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton
This is another one that I read and struggled through and yet enjoyed. Again, I should read it again one of these days.
13. The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky
I read this a few years ago when I was on a summertime "must read difficult classics" kick. I did really like this book...I just wonder if I would've enjoyed it more if it hadn't been preceeded that summer by The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James and Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy. (And yes, this was also my way of getting two more books from my shelf on this list.) :)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Wrinkle in Time

A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle, 1962 (202 pp.)When I finished reading The Glass Castle yesterday, I realized that I've been reading a lot of heavy books lately. In fact, the last three I've read (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, The Book Thief, and The Glass Castle) all feature young girls who are struggling against poverty and their society in an effort grow, mature, and make meaning of their lives. So I decided to walk to the library and find a few books that would let my brain take a bit of a break.

A Wrinkle in Time is one of the books that I picked up. One reason is that it's one of the books that I decided to read for the LOST Books Challenge. I also have fond memories of the book from 7th grade, when our English teacher, Mrs. Wentzel, read it out loud to us.

Obviously, since I just started reading it last night, it's a fast read. It is considered a children's book (on a 5th grade reading level...and a Newberry Award winner, I might add), but it's beautiful. It's the story of three children who travel through space and time to find their father and fight against "the Black Thing." I'm surprised that I've never really heard this book referred to as a "Christian" book, and yet it does quote Scripture from time to time. It is the wisdom that the children are given from Mrs. Who to help them fight IT. In the end, this is a well-crafted scifi/fantasy book that shows the true power of love.

So what does it have to do with LOST? Well, for starters, "A Wrinkle in Time" is how time travel is explained to the children. When the characters "tesser," they create a wrinkle in time and space and are able to quickly get from one place and time to another. Considering all of the time travel that's been going on in LOST, it makes sense that the authors had this concept in mind when writing the show.

Also, take a look at this screen shot from Season 1, Episode 18. Sawyer is guessed it...A Wrinkle in Time. :)


Total number of books read in 2009: 8

Total number of pages read in 2009: 3874

My confession

I already admitted on here that we didn't take down most of our Christmas decorations until February 1st. What I didn't mention at that time was that the decorations were still in our living room. So my confession for today...they're still in our living room. This is the pile of boxes that has been sitting, full of decorations, next to our door for over two weeks now. I swear, I'm taking it all down to our storage unit this afternoon. Or maybe I'll wait until Shawn gets home (after work and the gym) and do it while we're waiting for the roast to finish cooking in the crock pot. But seriously...they're all being put away today. Really.

(I'm actually really hoping that posting this on the blog will somehow give me that extra little boost of motivation that I need. You can help keep me accountable, right?)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Glass Castle

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls is a memoir, which is a type of book that I don't often read. Walls tells her story of growing up in poverty with an alcoholic father and a neglectful mother. As a small child, she and her family lived mainly in various parts of the Southwest, but they never stayed anywhere very long. Eventually, the family moved to Welch, West Virginia, which is the town that the author's father grew up in.

Many of the author's childhood experiences are incredible, such as she and her siblings sleeping in cardboard boxes instead of a bed, sharing a stick of butter with her sister for dinner because it was the only edible thing in the house (and then discovering that their mother was eating a giant-sized Hershey bar), stepping through the floor of the living room because the floor boards were rotted out, or picking through the garbage at school to find lunch. If you aren't aware of the levels of poverty that exist in our own country even today, you will find this book to be eye-opening.

What really struck me, though, as I was reading the book was the author's parents. Most of the time, her father was drunk. However, during his sober moments, he seemed to be very intelligent. He would read books about physics for fun, and he had drawn up details plans and architectural sketches of the "Glass Castle" that he was going to build for the family "as soon as he got the money." He taught his children about geology and astronomy, and in his own way, he seemed to really love Jeannette, who he called "Mountain Goat." And yet he would steal the grocery money and spend it on alcohol while his children went hungry. The author's mother was actually a licensed teacher. However, despite the fact that she could apparently get a job anytime she looked for one, she normally refused to work. She felt that work was stifling her creativity, and she didn't like the fact that people wanted to hold her responsible for taking care of her children.

This is a very interesting story, and a quick read.

Total number of books read in 2009: 7
Total number of pages read in 2009: 3672

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Our V-Day Weekend

Shawn and I had a great Valentine's Day weekend. On Friday, Shawn started off by coming home from work with a pot full of tulips for me. They're beautiful! On Saturday, we decided to attempt to avoid Valentine's Day crowds, so instead of going out to dinner, we went out to brunch. On a recommendation from a couple friends, we went to the Coastal Kitchen in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle. It wasn't fancy (which we weren't looking for), but it was in a fun neighborhood, and the food was really good!

After brunch, we headed out to West Seattle. This is a part of the city that's on the other side of Eliot Bay from downtown Seattle. The main attraction of this neighborhood is Alki Beach. We got a little coffee and a snack (we split a cupcake and a cookie), and we spent some time walking along the beach. We got there at low tide, so we were able to wander out a little farther than normal, and we spent some time looking into the tide pools. We didn't see much, though, except for some tiny anemones and some empty clam shells. We took this picture of ourselves on the beach, and the other pic is the view of downtown Seattle from Alki Beach. See? It really is sunny in Seattle sometimes!

After our afternoon at the beach, we went to church. Then, after dropping off the car at home, we walked to a pub just down the street. We ate dinner in between rounds of pool. Shawn beat me, 3 games to 2.

Today, Shawn spent most of his day working, actually. He's hoping to take a day off later this week to make up for it. I, on the other hand, had a wonderful afternoon at book club! We were discussing A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, although we didn't actually start discussing the book until we'd been there more than two hours. It was really nice to spend a few hours with a bunch of other ladies and to make some new friends!

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Book Thief

I just finished reading The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak, last night. I had heard nothing but good things about this book. It's actually a "Young Adult" book, but that didn't bother me...I've read quite a few of those in the last few years. However, I have to admit...I really didn't know much else about the book until I got it from the library.

The narrator of the story is death. Yep, death. The "book thief" is a young girl named Leisel, and Death tells her story as she grows up in Nazi Germany. Unlike most books I've read (or movies I've seen) about Nazi Germany during WWII, this book isn't centered around Jews or concentration camps (although both are mentioned and are important in the plot). Instead, it focuses on the lives of innocent German citizens doing what they can simply to survive. As the quote from the book jacket says, "It's just a small story, really, about, among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist fighter, and quite a lot of thievery...."

I really enjoyed the author's writing style, and I thought that Death's persona was great...not so much the scary "grim reaper," but rather a compassionate lover of beauty. As an English teacher, I also greatly appreciated the focus on the beauty and importance of words throughout the story.

Although I know you can't always go by awards to find a good book (for example, I really didn't like The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, and it won the Pulitzer last year), The Book Thief has won quite a few awards. To name just a few, it was the winner of the ALA Best Books for Young Adults (2007), the Michael L. Prinz Honor Book (2007), and the School Library Journal Best Book of the Year (2006).

Total number of books read in 2009: 6
Total number of pages read in 2009: 3384

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Mt. Laundry

I don't normally post twice in one day, but I couldn't resist. I knew that I had laundry to do, but I just did the laundry a week ago. That's normal for me. So I was kinda floored when I started sorting all the clothes on the bed. This is what I ended up with.

Yep, that's one week of clothes. (The whites are in the basket.) I would like to point out that the vast majority of that pile does not belong to me. In Shawn's defense, he does work out and/or play rugby almost every day. But something tells me I should start doing laundry more than once a week.

Thursday Thirteen #3

(This image provided by Samulli.)
It's official!! In places like Goodyear, Arizona, and Winter Park, Florida, pitchers and catchers reported to spring training this morning, signalling the official start of Major League Baseball. So for this week's Thursday Thirteen, I give you:
13 Reasons I Love Baseball!
  1. Cleveland Indians: If you don't know by now that I love Cleveland Indians baseball, you obviously haven't been paying much attention to this blog. :)
  2. History of the game: My earliest memory of baseball is watching a game on TV with my grandpa and trying to figure out the concept of balls and strikes. I love the fact that when I watch a game, it's really not much different than what generations of Americans have been watching. There has been some form of organized, professional baseball in this country since 1857, and I think that's pretty cool. (For the record, the Cleveland Indians began in 1901, but there's been professional baseball in Cleveland since 1869.)
  3. Tradition: I love the tradition of the game...the ceremonial first pitch, the Seventh Inning stretch, and of course, singing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."
  4. Food: Of course, you can always get peanuts and cracker jacks at a game. But I love stadium hot dogs! And I often get nachos, peanut M&Ms, ice get the idea.
  5. Sounds: This might sound strange, but I love just listening to the sounds that fill a baseball stadium. There's music and cheering, of course, and the vendors hawking their wares. But I truly love the sound a ball makes when it slams into a player's glove. Or the crack of the bat when someone makes good contact with the ball. Even the calls from the umpire add something to the symphony at a stadium.
  6. Stadiums: I love the fact that every Major League baseball stadium is different. Sure, the infield is the same...90 feet from base to base, and 60 feet, 6 inches from home plate to the pitcher's mound. But the outfield is fair game. For example, did you know that Minute Maid Park (home of the Houston Astros) has both a 30 degree uphill slope and a flag pole within the field of play in center field? I'd love to some day see a game in every MLB stadium.
  7. Rivalries: This might sound strange, but there are just certain teams that I love to hate. I do hold grudges agains the Braves, the Marlins, and the Red Sox, but I really need one of those T-shirts that say "My two favorite teams are the Indians and whoever's playing the Yankees."
  8. Mascots and Entertainment: I love that a lot of the teams have fairly entertaining mascots. The Indians have Slider, the Phillies have the Phillie Fanatic, and the Rockies have Dinger the dinosaur. I'd also love to see the sausage race at a Brewers game someday.
  9. Heroes: Over the years, a number of baseball players have been given almost heroic status for things they accomplished. The best example is probably Pittsburgh Pirate Roberto Clemente, who was killed in a plane crash. The plane he was on was headed to Nicaragua, full of relief supplies for survivors of a terrible earthquake.
  10. Suspense: A lot of critics of baseball say that it's boring. I say that it's filled with suspense. With every single pitch, almost anything can happen, and that keeps me on the edge of my seat.
  11. Comebacks: On August 5, 2001, the Cleveland Indians trailed the Seattle Mariners, 14-2 in the 7th inning. The Indians ended up winning that game, 15-14, in 11 innings. I love watching a game when a team comes back from a deficit to win.
  12. Anything is possible: It ain't over till it's over. Ever. This might mean a single game, an entire season, or an entire franchise. In 2007, Tampa Bay was the worst team in baseball. In 2008, Tampa Bay was the 2nd best team in baseball and won the American League Championship. Anything is possible for any team, any time.
  13. Baseball is a survivor: I know...this sounds strange. But the sport of baseball is a survivor. Professional baseball in the U.S. has survived 2 World Wars. It has survived gambling controversies such as those surrounding Shoeless Joe Jackson and Pete Rose. It has survived the Barry Bonds/Roger Clemens/Mark McGwire/A-Rod drug scandals. I know it doesn't have quite the following that it used to have, but baseball has survived a lot. America's Pastime isn't going anywhere.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Saving Money!

When I was a kid, my parents always had an Entertainment Book lying around. I remember using it primarily for things like "Buy one whopper, get one free," although I'm sure we used it at other restaurants, too.

Over the last few years, I couldn't justify shelling out $25 to get a book. It really didn't make a lot of sense, considering that a lot of the coupons are of the "buy one, get one free" variety. When I was living alone, I really never needed to buy two whoppers at once. However, I decided a few weeks ago to buy one, and I'm really excited about it!

I was flipping through the book yesterday (since it just arrived), and I discovered coupons for quite a few restaurants that Shawn and I already go to, and most of those coupons are "buy one entree, get one free." There are also coupons for free pretzels at Auntie Anne's, a free small cone at Dairy Queen, 50% off a 6-pack of cupcakes at Cupcake Royale, and lots of other goodies. I'm also excited by a lot of the "entertainment" coupons in the book. There are "buy one, get one free admission" coupons for a lot of museums and activities around here...the Art Museum, the Aquarium, the Experience Music Project, the Science Fiction Museum, the Pacific Science Center, the Woodland Park Zoo, the Seattle Symphony, the Seattle Shakespeare Company. Those are going to be great to use, especially when we have friends and family come visit us (if you know us in real life...consider this a hint!!). One of the best things is the discounted movie tickets...$6.50 each at Regal Cinemas or $7.50 at AMC!

All of these are things that we would probably do with or without the Entertainment Book coupons. The "dangerous" coupons, though, are for activities that we may not have otherwise considered doing. For example, we can get discounted sailing lessons, or "buy one, get one free" 8-week tango lessons! I'm wondering if I can get Shawn to go for that..... :-)

Now the best part of all this...I only spent $2.25 for our book! If you're interested, here's what you can do.

Click the link to go to When you sign up (by simply giving your email address and choosing a password), you'll automatically receive $5 in your account. Then "shop by store" to find Entertainment Book. Cashbaq members can use a 35% off coupon to buy the book for $16.25 + $1 shipping. However, Cashbaq members also get a $10 rebate when buying the book. So basically, your credit card is charged $17.25 for the book, but $15 is put into your Cashbaq account. You'll receive this money later, in addition to any other "rewards" you earn.

In general, this is the way Cashbaq works. You log into before you do your online shopping. When you access the online stores through Cashbaq, the site keeps track of how much money you spend in these other online stores. Then a percentage of the money you spend is put into your Cashbaq account and given to you later (either through paypal or a check sent to you). Really, if you don't do a lot of online shopping, then there's probably not much point in setting up a account. However, if you do a lot of online shopping like I do, it definitely makes sense!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


I feel the need to blog, but frankly, I don't have much to say. :) This weekend was fairly low-key for us. We ended up going out to dinner on Friday night. We went to Boston's Gourmet Pizza, which has become one of our new favorite restaurants. Of course, we were home in time to watch Battlestar Galactica. :)

On Saturday, Shawn had rugby, so that took up most of the day. Sunday was very lazy. Shawn went for a run with the ruggers, but other than that, we stayed home most of the day. On Monday, Shawn decided to take the car to work, so I just stayed at home again. Today, I had a sub job at an "alternative" high school, and I treated myself to a Starbucks coffee on my way home. I realized that this was the first time since we've moved here that I've gotten Starbucks here! That's 4 months of living in the Seattle area with no Starbucks...I bet there are those of you who wouldn't have believed that was possible. :)

So...other little things that have been going on with us? I've been continuing with the Wii Fit and the 200 Sit Ups Program. I've let the 100 Push Ups fall by the way side, but I do have every intention of picking it up again in a few weeks. I've been doing a bit of work on a crocheted blanket (and I do intend to post pictures soon...I just have to find the camera).

I've also been reading McGee & Stuckey's Bountiful Container, which has given me some ideas for creating a small container garden on our porch this spring/summer. I'm thinking about attempting to grow peas, beans, tomatoes, and/or carrots. I'll probably throw in some herbs or some flowers while I'm at it. Wish me luck on this one...I pretty much have a black thumb. :)

Friday, February 6, 2009

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Have you read this book? I can't tell you how many times I've heard someone claim that this is their favorite book of all time. Unfortunately, I think this may have caused me to go into the book with expectations that were a bit too high.

Please don't get me wrong...I did enjoy the book. I liked Betty Smith's writing, and I think her character development was fantastic. I really love the Nolan family (especially Johnny) with all their imperfections. But I wasn't completely blown away by the book.

This is the story of Francie Nolan and her family. They are very poor, living in Brooklyn at the turn of the 20th century. It's a coming of age story for Francie, and it's also a poignant look at life in the tenements. The tree from the title is largely symbolic throughout the book, as Francie struggles to grow and make life better for herself (and for her family).

I'll admit that I'm questioning my judgement of this book. How is it possible that I don't LOVE this book that so many others do? Obviously, everyone has different tastes. However, I also think it's quite possible that this may be the kind of book that grows on me. Perhaps the more I think about it (and discuss it with other women at book club next weekend), the more I'll like it. I think I might even read it again some day (as in, maybe a few years from now). I often find that I get much more out of a book the second (or even third) time I read it.

Total number of books read in 2009: 5
Total number of pages read in 2009: 2834

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Almost Time!

As I'm writing this post, it's 6:40pm, Pacific Time. That means that it is currently

until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training!!!

The last time the Cleveland Indians won the World Series was in 1948. We've come close a few times (most recently in the 1997 World Series when we went to Game 7 against the Florida Marlins...and Jose Mesa blew the save and we lost), but no Championship title.

I think that 60 years is long enough, and I have a good feeling about 2009. I think this is our year. Let's Go, Tribe!!!

Thursday Thirteen #2

(This image provided by Samulli.)
I took a walk today around the lake by our apartment. I love these walks for a couple reasons. First of all, it's great to just get outside and enjoy the area while getting a little exercise. But it also provides me with about 45 minutes of uninterrupted thinking. Among other things, today I took the time to appreciate some of those simple little things in life that make me happy. These are things that don't take much (if any) effort on my part, and these are things that cost me nothing. So for today's Thursday Thirteen, I have a list of:
13 Simple Pleasures
  1. Seeing Shawn every day. After spending close to 3 years with him traveling back and forth between Seattle and Colorado, I can't help but smile every time he walks through the door after coming home from work.
  2. Drinking coffee while still in my pajamas. I know that having that relaxed, quiet time in the morning isn't going to last, but I'm going to enjoy it while I can!
  3. Reading my friends' status updates on Facebook. I love that a silly little website like Facebook allows me to feel connected to my friends who are spread out all over the country.
  4. Touching a rock and feeling the sun's warmth. This is especially true on a cool day. I completely understand why snakes like to sun themselves on rocks.
  5. Noticing very small flowers. Today, I noticed that some bushes near the apartment complex entrance have begun to bloom. They're tiny, but they're there. I also love the itty bitty alpine flowers that grow near the summit of the mountains where we hike in Colorado.
  6. The smell of pine trees. Ponderosa pines are my favorite, but most varieties smell pretty darn good. The smell is especially good after a rain.
  7. Breathing in cold air when I'm bundled up enough to stay warm. This is most noticeable on snowshoeing days!
  8. Appreciating unique scenery wherever I go. Shawn and I agree that we miss the beauty of Colorado. However, Washington is beautiful, too! It's just different...different landscape, different climate, different varieties of trees and bushes. We see things here that we'll never see in Colorado.
  9. The salty/fishy smell of Puget Sound. This might sound strange, but I love that smell. It lets me know that I'm close to the water, and I like to think about what's out there beyond what I can see.
  10. The familiar prayers of Mass. Part of what drew me to the Catholic Church is the ritual. I love knowing that it doesn't matter where I am, if I go to Mass, I'll know the prayers. They may even be in a different language, but they're there.
  11. Hearing from a friend. It doesn't matter if it's a phone call, an email, or a comment on my Facebook status (or this blog!)...I just love hearing from friends unexpectedly.
  12. Watching snow fall. Watching the snow flakes fall to the ground always gives me a feeling of calm and peace. Unless I know I have to drive in it soon...but let's focus on the positive, shall we?
  13. The sound of dirt and rocks under my feet when I'm walking outside. I'll admit that I wasn't a huge nature lover before I met Shawn. But I really, honestly do enjoy being outside. And there's something satisfying about this sound...whether I'm hiking up a mountain with Shawn or walking down the side of a street alone.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Art of Racing in the Rain

For months now, I've been hearing great things about this book. After requesting it from my library in October, I finally was able to pick it up last week. It was a very fast read, but it was very good!

Despite hearing rave reviews about The Art of Racing in the Rain, there were two important details that I'm surprised I didn't know until I started reading. #1 - The "racing" referred to in the title is car racing...not running. And #2 - The book is narrated by the dog.

I should say that I'm not a fan of car racing. I've never understood why people would want to watch a car race, especially not on TV. But I was intrigued by the parallels drawn by the author between car racing and the struggles of life. It actually made quite a bit of sense. And I loved the use of a dog as the narrator. Throughout the book, he was the "innocent bystander," watching as events unfolded. I could feel his frustration as he knew exactly the right words to say to give comfort to his person but was limited to a bark, a gesture, a nuzzle.

This is a book that was at times sad, heartwarming, heartwrenching, aggravating, and funny. Especially if you can believe that pets have personality and care about their humans, I recommend this book!
Total number of books read in 2009: 4
Total number of pages read in 2009: 2341

Monday, February 2, 2009

Teaching Update

This morning, I went to a nearby high school to talk with an Assistant Principal and a teacher about a potential long-term sub job. I knew that the teacher would be going on maternity leave in March and would be gone for pretty much the rest of the year. I also knew that she teaches Freshman English (which is a course that I've taught for the last five years).

Our meeting went well! I learned that I'll be teaching 5 sections, but there will only be one prep. Not only that, but this teacher has already done most of the lesson planning for March through June 1st! In that time, the students will be doing Animal Farm, a research unit on Shakespeare, and Romeo and Juliet. What's especially nice is that I've taught each of those things multiple times, and the teacher doesn't mind at all if I change or supplement her plans with lessons and activities of my own.

I've agreed to take the job, so it'll start whenever she has the baby (she's due March 17th). The teacher will be back on June 1st, so I won't have to completely finish out the school year. From what I was told today, it sounds like this school is very similar to my old school in Colorado, and it sounds like the English department gets along very well, too, which makes me very happy. I was also told that one of the English teachers will be retiring at the end of the school year, so there will be a full time opening for the fall!

Isn't it amazing what happens when we just trust God? I've been thinking lately that I really need to trust God to show me what to do to bring in a little income, and suddenly, I have a steady job for at least two and a half months, and there's apparently a possible opportunity to teach full time next year at a really good school. :-)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Weekend Update

This was a very lazy weekend for the Shannons. On Friday, I met up with a couple friends at Ivar's for a couple hours. The salmon cakes were really good. :) After coming home, we made dinner (Shawn grilled the chicken while I made the potatoes and veggies), and then we pretty much hung out on the couch and watched TV. Shawn's a big fan of Battlestar Galactica, so that was the main event for the night.

On Saturday, Shawn had rugby practice. We thought it was just going to be a morning practice, but it turns out that the coaches decided that the guys should have a three and a half hour practice followed by a game against the guys from University of Washington. I think it was really an effort at team bonding and recruiting (getting the guys from UW to be interested in coming to play with the Seattle team after they graduate college), which was fine. I just wasn't expecting Shawn to be gone until 4:45! While he was gone, though, I managed to finish reading The Stand, and I started reading The Art of Racing in the Rain. I also took a walk around the lake, did a little cleaning...that kind of thing. Then we went out to dinner last night (for Boston's pizza...very yummy!) and we got a really stupid movie from the Red Box at the grocery store. While "watching" the movie, I also beat Shawn twice at Carcassonne. :)

Today, we slept in and then went to church. We finally finished taking down our Christmas decorations this afternoon! Then we more or less watched the Super Bowl and ate a bunch of junk food. :) I also registered to take both of the tests that I need to pass in order to finish getting my WA teaching certification, so I was at least able to get through quite a few things from Thursday's To-Do List. So it was a pretty relaxing weekend, and yet we were able to get some things accomplished.