Wednesday, May 27, 2009

My Very First Giveaway

For the momentous occasion of my Very First Blog Giveaway, I couldn't decide what to give. I thought a few of my favorite books might be appropriate, but then my stack grew and I decided to spread the wealth around. Here's what I came up with:

Childhood Favorites:
Little House in the Big Woods, A Calvin and Hobbes Treasury, two Avon soap paints, and a pack of striped tissues, you know, just because.

The second set on offer is a little more grown-up:
This features the first book in The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith which I am always talking about, a little Ghirardelli chocolate, and a pack of tissues (why? Just because).

The final set is my personal favorite:
A brand new paperback copy of Pride and Prejudice (everyone needs at least one of these), my favorite type of Ghirardelli chocolate, and a small lined notebook, perfect for starting your first Commonplace Book.

Now for the rules (warning: I am a firstborn. I love rules.):

1. This giveaway is only available for residents of the lower-48. I'm paying shipping and I can't be spending the money I'm supposed to use to be using to get our tree trimmed (more on that later...).
2. You get one entry for leaving a comment - specify which prize you prefer, if you wish.
3. If you follow this blog, you can leave another comment and say so.
4. If you post about this on your blog, come back and leave another comment for another entry.
5. Winners will be done by random drawing (three prizes, three little girls to draw names from the hat = perfect).
6. This is open for the next week starting today and ending at midnight (Eastern time) on Wednesday, June 3.
7. If you win but I can't get in contact with you within a day or so, we'll draw again for a new winner.

And my favorite and final rule: if no one enters, I get to keep all this loot for myself.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Just Let Me Say

Happy Birthday to the Princess!

And, as I have no baby picture handy, I'll share this picture of our family's first set of three girls:
Hope you have a great day, Princess! And please, if you get the time, let me know what you want before your party.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Awesome Anniversary Trip - Part 7

Last installment here, if you need to catch up.

We were waiting just outside the gates of Buckingham Palace for the real guards (found out later that we were waiting on the Coldstream Guards). Eventually something began to happen. Unfortunately, I had no idea what because I am, ahem, like Zacchaeus in more than one way. (If you don't catch the reference you might want to go to Sunday School sometime.)

Prince Charming used the good old fashioned "hold the camera over your head and take a shot" technique. With mixed results: And he wasn't the only one trying to get a picture of something we couldn't see: But good things come to those who wait (and wait and wait...) This is one of my first glimpses of the guards:
Pretty impressive even when you're not sure what is going on! Getting there early had paid off. We couldn't have been closer to the guards unless we had been guards ourselves. They marched around a bit: And then there was some type of "meeting of the old guard leader and new guard leader" kind of thing: More marching in different formations was followed by the Coldstream Guards preparing to play us a tune (or two, or three, or more...):
They walked past us on their way to stand in front of the main gate: Where they set up and played several songs (And yes, I am usually pretty good at knowing songs by just a few snatches of melody and no, I have no idea what they played. They played several, none of which were known to me): After the Coldstream Guard played one song the bagpipers played a song. Then the Coldstream Guard band played again. Then the bagpipers. (You get the idea) The Coldstreamers played a third time and I waited for the bagpipes but they didn't play again. So then there was more marching and the bands began to march out of the palace grounds: Followed by the guards that had been there first: But it wasn't over yet...

Thursday, May 21, 2009

From My Commonplace Book

Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die. - Carrie Fisher
And because I am so annoyed by Blogger right now (had to remove the followers gadget in order to even open my blog -gah!):
He that can have patience can have what he will. - Benjamin Franklin
Let's hope ol' Ben is right. I have giveaways to post and a travel blog to continue.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Books of 2009 - April

Fair warning: this post is way overdue so I may not even remember anything about these books other than the title.

1. Romancing Your Child's Heart. Non-fiction by Monte Swan. I picked up this book at Half Price Books because it was a dollar. It turned out to be worth a lot more than that. Lots of food for thought here.

2. The People of Sparks. Fiction by Jeanne DuPrau. This is a fantasy series for young adults. I don't think I would let my young adult (if I had one yet) read them.

3. The Prophet of Yonwood. Fiction by Jeanne DuPrau. Third book in the above series. Completely unnecessary and easily skippable.

4. The Diamond of Darkhold. Fiction by Jeanne DuPrau. Finishes up the series. Interesting premise but a bit lacking in the pay off.

5. Silent on the Moor. Fiction by Deanna Raybourn. Yes, there are things I don't like about Ms. Raybourn's writing. Yes, the covers are terrible (well, the US covers. The Australian and UK covers are charming). But over all they are enjoyable reads and I devour them. Ms. Raybourn also has a quirky blog about writing and everything else. (That's how I categorize the world, I guess. "Writing, everything else that interests me, and everything that doesn't interest me."

6. Pemberley by the Sea. Fiction by Abigail Reynolds. A thousand times, NO! I already blogged about this disaster.

7. Rowan Farm. Fiction by Margot Benary-Isbert. Not as charming as the first book (The Ark). The fact that it covers a very interesting time and place (post WW-2 Germany) kept my attention.

8. Blue Shoes and Happiness. Series Fiction by Alexander McCall Smith. Yes, you guessed it, another Ladies' No. 1 Detective Agency story. Have I mentioned I love this series?

9. Raney. Fiction by Clyde Edgerton. Odd. Aggravating. Funny. Wish I could come up with more than one word sentences to describe it.

10. The Baby Fat Diet. Non-fiction by Monica Bearden & Shara Aaron. Um, no, I don't need a diet book or a book about baby fat. Why do you ask? Pay no attention to this listing and move along. (It was helpful, though. Not that I, you know, need it.)

11. The Laughter of Dead Kings. Fiction by Elizabeth Peters. I love the Amelia Peabody series by the same author (real name: Barbara Mertz) and this book is related. Lots of fun.

12. Search the Shadows. Fiction by Barbara Michaels (aka: Elizabeth Peters; aka: Barbara Mertz). As I said, I enjoy this author's Amelia Peabody series. Unfortunately I didn't really enjoy this (unrelated) book. And the ending was abrupt which always leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

13. A Thousand Miles Up The Nile. Non-fiction by Amelia Edwards. One of the real life inspirations for the Amelia Peabody character. This is the first classic travel book I've ever read. This book transports the reader to more than one time and place: not only are you reading about the ancient world and Egyptian culture, you are also reading about Victorian exploration and appreciation of that ancient world and culture. Well worth the effort (and it did take some effort to finish this book. I read it about 1/2 chapter at a time and it is long).

14. The Scarlet Pimpernel. Fiction by Baroness Orczy. One of my favorite books and this time it has the distinction of being the only book I finished reading while in England. I took my beloved (read: tattered) paperback copy. I think I managed to return with all the pages but there may be a few scattered on various trains around the UK.

15. Just in Case: How to be Self-Sufficient. Non-fiction by Kathy Harrison. A very useful book. Prince Charming and I have been discussing the need to be better prepared ever since that horrible wind storm last fall. This book helped me finalize a few concrete goals. A bit melodramatic for my taste (I'm not losing any sleep worrying about Global Warming, I can tell you that!) but still worthwhile.

Fiction: 11
Nonfiction: 4 (Ouch! Must work on that number for May...)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

From the Commonplace Book

Never fear, my travel blogging isn't over. I'm just trying to get back into "regular" blogging. And I'm getting ready to put up my giveaway. Actually, I've decided to give away three things, so check back soon to see what they are.

On to today's quote:
Successful parenting means: one, becoming what you should be. And two, staying close enough to the children for it to rub off. - Anne Ortlund
Is it just me or is the first step the hardest?

My children are close to me (at least at this stage of their lives) all.the.time. I know these days pass quickly, and I will one day be looking back wistfully, but just for now I'd like to, oh, I don't know, wash my face and brush my teeth without a small person following me to the bathroom door.

Becoming what I should be? Yep, that's the hardest part for me.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Most Recent Pictures of the Girls

We took these last week in an attempt to get something we could use for Mother's Day. We tried several different arrangements but it was hard work getting three girls to look one direction and smile.
We almost used this one:
But we settled for this one (Tigger was, obviously, in a serene mood and never smiled a genuine smile):
"Two out of three isn't bad" is becoming our photographing motto. These are the best four out of the fifty that we took. Yes, 50, fifty.

And yes, we are aware that Sweet Pea's sandals are on the wrong feet. Consider it a fashion statement from Sweet Pea.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Awesome Anniversary Trip - Part 6

Thursday evening we rode the train back from Bath to London. We couldn't really decide what we wanted to eat and we wandered around a bit before deciding. We ended up in the Piccadilly area (can you say, "Tourist Trap"?) There were a lot of people around, even more than we were used to seeing. We found out later that Miley Cyrus had been in that area opening her new Hannah Montana movie.

Such a missed opportunity for us...not. Although it did explain why some people were carrying around life size cardboard cut outs of Miley Cyrus, a question we had been too hungry to ponder.
We ended up at a British pub. No, not for drinks. Most of the pubs we encountered had very nice dining rooms (usually upstairs). This meal is representative of several we had during our trip: Yum! Prince Charming still marvels at how good the peas were. He is not normally a happy eater of peas but they were really good in the UK.
Yes, he liked my meal more than his own, but they were both good.

So after another wonderful night's sleep we got up early (again) to go to Buckingham Palace (again). We got there plenty early so we posed for a few pictures:
And explored the monument to Queen Victoria a bit more (and took another picture of both of us):

At this point we thought we'd better stake out a spot right in front of the bars, which we did. It was a good thing we did because it started getting crowded very quickly:
Now, standing as close as we could to Buckingham Palace, without being inside the gates, we...waited.

Prince Charming amused himself by taking many pictures of what was going on inside the gates (not much): After a long wait some mounted guards rode by but I (being the vertically challenged person that I am) couldn't see them very well.
Awhile after that, F Company Scots Guards (matching the guards already on duty)and their bag-pipers (band? detachment? I have no clue) marched in: We could hear the bagpipes well before we could see anyone. Actually, I heard them before Prince Charming. I felt kind of stupid telling him, "I think I hear bagpipes" but, then again, we were in Great Britain. Stranger things have happened. After they arrived, the company marched around, as the bagpipes played.
At this point Prince Charming and I were pressed against the bars by other foreign tourists. One girl rested her arm on Prince Charming's shoulder, occasionally knocking off his sunglasses. I can't even describe to you how close her boyfriend was to me. "Most uncomfortable" is all I'll say about that.

And the Coldstream Guards hadn't appeared yet...