On my To Be Reviewed Stack!

On My To Be Reviewed Pile!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Politics and children's welfare

I remember watching a story on Dateline a year or so ago that I can still remember vividly to this day. The sight of cribs next to each other, in long lines. Children who have disabilities that convince parents their children have no quality of life and they should turn them over to the state run institutions. These children were never allowed out of their cribs, it got the point these poor children couldn't even stand anymore from lack of use. There wasn't anyone who wanted these children. These poor babies. There's so many people from the United States that wanted these children. They had to go for years, jumping through all these hoops for years to adopt the children. And now in direct retaliation because the United States passed a bill in 2010 because of abuse inflicted on prisoners. Holding these small babies with disabilities as pawns in political games is unconscionable and Vladmir Putin and Russia should be ashamed of themselves.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Jack the Ripper

My husband and I have very different tastes.  Sometimes I wonder what even attracted us to each other.  

One of my obsessions is death.  Dying, Autopsies, Ghosts, etc.

The biggest obsession I've ever had, Jack the Ripper.  I love all things Jack the Ripper.   I've tried to look at every website I can with info on Jack the Ripper.  I've read books, including the Patricia Cornwell novel where she gave her theory on who the Ripper was.  

One of my guilty pleasures is the movie "From Hell," starring Johnny Depp as an Opium addicted detective on the murders.  It's a really good movie.  


This year, I went crazy on Amazon.  I added a bunch of books on Jack the Ripper to my wishlist.  My two sister-in-laws are so super great to me.  They feed my book addiction.   This year, one of the presents I received is "Jack the Ripper: The Casebook."  I just opened it this morning, so I have not had a chance to read the book, but I'm dying to start!!

This casebook isn't just a paperback book.  At first, my husband and I were impressed by the fact it sealed tight with magnets.  Then I opened it up to look at it a bit more. It looks like an actual casebook from the 1800s. It has tons of information written about the victims, the neighborhoods, night guards...what a detective on the case would have kept.   And the part that had me squealing like a child?  They have sections where there are wax paper "folders" where the copies of letters (in a copy of his hand, in paper made to look 130 years old) are kept.  

I'll be taking some pictures as I read, and will let you know about the book as I read it.  But if you are a Jack the Ripper nut like me, just from a cursory glance through it, makes me convinced you'd love it!

I'll be taking some pictures as I read, and will let you know about the book as I read it.  But if you are a Jack the Ripper nut like me, just from a cursory glance through it, makes me convinced you'd love it!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas 2012

We're all settled into our beds on this Christmas Eve, and can't help but think that this has been the best Christmas Eve we've had in years.

We have our little tradition down now.  My Dad and I go visit Mom's grave and wish her a Merry Christmas.  We then have lunch together.  The boys go out to lunch and then shopping with my step-mom.  Then we meet up back home.

We order something for delivery, the boys open their one gift, which is always new pajamas, and then baths and PJs.  We decorate gingerbread men, track Santa on Norad, waiting for him to visit our family in Scotland.  We then get our cookies for Santa and shuffle the boys down the hall to read.

This year we were more prepared, we had the presents wrapped already, the stockings filled up.

For a month now, I've been savoring this year as our last year with Santa.  The boys are seven.  It's a miracle that the older kids haven't ruined it for them yet.  But I don't hold out much hope for next year.  So, every little thing I wanted to hit on this year.  My husband and Jamie had a talk about Santa, and he's pretty much figured out that the Santas he's been seeing aren't really Santa.  That Santa is so busy and has so many children to see.

But he surprised us this year.  He wrote a letter he wanted to leave with Santa and his cookies. It said that he was so happy that Santa said he'd visit our house first in WV (from the Google phone call he got), and that he believes in him.

It made me want to cry.

Jamie is so excited about Santa.  And for an Aspie who deals in the black and white, I love that he's gung-ho in believing in Santa.  Iain totally believes, and I love that about the boys.

I hear this song during the holidays every year, and it makes me cry.  As the boys get older, and Santa takes a back burner, the tooth fairy fading into the shadows, Big Bird already a faint memory, Mickey & Company not to be far behind.

Tomorrow we'll awake to squealing children, so happy that Santa visited them, wanting us to come out and see.

And I will do it with a smile, because maybe next year I won't have the magic of Christmas anymore.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Has Society Changed, Or Just Me? Christmas Edition

Christmastime is here, along with all the obligatory airings of shows from our past, to indoctrinate a new generation.

Okay, that sounded harsh.

My husband and I have been laughing over this for the last few days, and I thought I'd pass the question onto you.  Have times/society changed, or have we just grown up?

Example 1:  Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.  This movie is blatantly intolerant.  Rudolph's own father doesn't like him because he doesn't look "normal."  Even Santa is a right bastard toward him.  And Hermie the dentist...  Now that I'm older, I know that dentist is just a euphemism for gay.  But he is berated and made fun of.  So Hermie and Rudolph can't take it anymore and run off.  They go to an island of misfit toys, and are nicely thrown off the island there.  It isn't until Donner goes missing looking for his son, and it inconveniences Santa, and they all return, do they notice that they just might have treated Rudolph and Hermie badly.  Just might no positives.  At and the very end, Santa is about to cancel Christmas because of the storm, and he just makes an announcement saying Rudolph is guiding the sleigh, THEN asks him.  What is Rudolph going to do, say no to the boss?

Example 2:  Rudolph's shiny new year.  Basically another version of Rudolph's make fun of someone because they don't look normal.  They run off because their feelings are hurt, and then when they realize they need him, everyone goes hunting to find them and bring them back.

Example 3:  Jack Frost.  The pretty girl in the village has a crush on the idea of Jack Frost.  He saves her and falls in love and asks to become human so he can be with her.  She takes him in, but keeps him friends only, while talking about how much she cares for him and so forth.  Because.... wait for it, she's in love with the handsome prince.

Example 4:  The Wizard Of Oz.  Glynda, pretty much summed it up by saying only bad witches are ugly.  Umm, I've known some pretty women who are downright ugly on the inside and people who aren't very attractive having the biggest hearts.

Example 5:  The Year Without A Santa Claus.  We are told, and teach our kids that Santa loves the children, and makes the yearly visit to reward good boys and girls.  In this movie, he decides no one appreciates him, so he'll just take a year off.  We're teaching our kids Santa isn't doing it for accolades and presents, and he's shown as wanting them.

Okay, I may have taken these a bit too far.   But I remember watching these movies as a child and loving them.  It's STILL a part of my Christmas tradition and I'm 38.  But things stick out to me now that never did before.

So is it that society has changed since the 60's when these movies were made, or that I'm just grown up and see it for the hypocracy it is?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Book Review: Mrs. Drew Plays her Hand by Carla Kelly

Title: Mrs. Drew plays her hand
Author: Carla Kelly
Publication Date: September 11, 2012

Book Description:
After her husband's death, Roxanna Drew is left with more beauty than fortune. Now, desperate to escape the perils of her past life, she must learn to trust the dashing Lord Winn---a broken man with a past of his own. This award-winning romance by bestselling author Carla Kelly is a moving and memorable book you won't be able to put down.

Review: 5 out of 5 stars
This book was a thoroughly enjoyable book from start to finish.  I can't believe I'd never heard of the author before, but I am definitely putting all her work on my TBR list!

This isn't like your typical romance novel.  It doesn't rely on characters being thrown together and descriptive sex scenes to draw you in.  Ms. Kelly is able to give you a full description, both physically and character-wise in her writing, and you immediately get drawn into the characters in the book.  This children are portrayed as children actually are, given the situation they are in.  They don't put on impish airs just to further the story line.  The characters behave as adults and how you would expect.

And in every novel, there is a "bad guy," and an obstacle the couple must face.  In this book, it is taken care of early in the novel, not thrown in there as an aside at the very end to give it a dramatic ending that makes the characters act contrary to the way they behaved throughout the novel.

This was an excellently written book, and found myself sitting in parking lots just so I could continue reading. It only took me a few days to read, and I must admit to being a bit disappointed when the book ended.

I would definitely recommend!!

 Disclosure: I received this book from a contest on the GoodReads website. I did not receive any compensation for my review, and this review is unsolicited.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Death, regrets

A few years ago, I lost my mother.  The sudden-ness, the regrets, the what-ifs I have been struggling with for years.  There are so many things that go through your mind.  The one big take-away from that event, is to never let an opportunity go by to tell the people in your life that you love them.  That you appreciate them.  That they're the most important people in your life.

I do this multiple times a day with the boys, and it's only increased since Friday.  I tell them over and over how much I love them, that they are the most important things in my life.  They smile, tell me they love me to, and probably think "gosh mom, give it a rest already."

Tonight I thought to myself, my mom always told me she loved me.  She always told me she loved me before she left.  When she died, I knew she loved me.  I'd give her the usual, I love you too, but it's always a reflex. Not that it's not true, it's just that it's said as a reflex and doesn't sound sincere.

I now get the "I Love you Too's," but one day it will be reflexive from the boys.  That's what I wrestle with almost daily since Mom's death.  Did she know that I really DID love her?  Did she think it was reflexive?

I think this is something we all wrestle with.  And I'm sure plenty of parents in CT are asking the question, "Do they really know how much I love them?"

I think they did.  I think my mom did.

But take this as a wake-up call.  Never pass up an opportunity to tell the people you love that you love them and they are the world to you.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Newtown massacre ... a mother's perspective

This morning, I was at Physical Therapy and saw a pop-up on the TV saying there had been a school shooting.  It was early into the story, so the cable channel just switched back to whatever they were talking about before.  I thought, "Jeeze, not another school shooting," and went on about my day.  It's so truly sad that it's gotten to the point that when you hear about a school shooting, you just go "not another," and just keep going about your life.

I've read so many posts today, so many thoughts, that I may be plagiarizing some of my thoughts, but I must get it out.

My children are 7.  They would have attended that school if we lived there.  The thought of parents going to the firehouse and not seeing their kids and not getting answers if their babies were okay, had to be agonizing.  I already know that if I had been a parent, I'd be in jail because I'd be forcing my way in the school to find my babies.

The majority of the children killed were in kindergarten. Five and six year olds.  Little babies with their whole lives ahead of them.  Little babies who were eagerly awaiting Santa to visit.  Little babies who had made their Christmas lists. Little babies excited that Winter Break was about to start.

Now there will be no Santa, no dreams of being a ballerina or fireman.  My son lost his tooth today, there will be no Tooth Fairy to visit them.

Think about your typical morning.  These were families that got up the same as every other morning.  Probably looked for their Elf on a Shelf.  Jumped around the house shouting, making a mess, arguing over what terrible thing their parents were packing for lunch.  Trying to decide what color shirt to wear.

There were probably irritated parents this morning.  Saying "c'mon, let's get moving!" while ushering them out the door. Listening to the petty daily squabbles between kids.  Trying to get teeth brushed, their homework in their book bags, planning what they were going to do for the weekend,   Maybe some parents had already left for work before the children woke up, didn't get to kiss them goodbye.

And in an instant, a moment, all of that is taken away.

I cannot imagine the pain the families are going through.  Cannot imagine the guilt (maybe their last words to their child were in anger).  Cannot imagine waiting for hours to learn about their child, and then having to take that long walk to the school to identify their babies.

I think the saddest part for me is that these little babies did not know the shooter.  They weren't making fun of him or bullying him, they were living their cute, fun little lives.  And some stranger came in and tore their world apart.  Did not really know what was happening.  How terrifying their last few moments on this earth were.  These babies were completely and totally innocent.

And the surviving children?

What they saw today is something no child should ever see.  What they heard, no child should ever hear. What they are feeling now upon learning their best friends are dead, they should never have to know that.

Tonight, I held my babies longer, gave them extra kisses, told them once again how much I love them.  We put Iain's tooth under his pillow for the Tooth Fairy.  Thinking that this could have easily have been my babies suddenly gone.

As far as the shooter, that's a whole new post.

Goodnight angels.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Another Day Older and Deeper in Debt...

Today is my 38th birthday.  The world still turns, life still goes on...

This is sort of my yearly look back at my life.  I've had a rough year this year.  Being unemployed since March hasn't been easy.  But in some ways, I think this time was much needed in my life.

I had a chance to finally decompress after the last three years.  Time to slow down, time to re-prioritize,  time to refocus myself.

Being the ambitious person I am, I always wanted to succeed, go further, do more.  In the last year I've learned that my children are my top priority in life.  I've realized that I have sacrificed alot of my time the last three years on my career, and not them.  When they needed me most, after losing their grandmother.

Spending the summer with them, we had a chance to reconnect.  We did fun things. We spent time together. I reminded them every day that I loved them more than anything. I think I was able to finally connect with them, without the specter of my mom being gone and feeling guilty that I abandoned them when she died by withdrawing into my safe area.

We had a fantastic time in Disney World.  Watching them still in awe of the characters, still believing in them, watching the excitement on their faces.

Spending the time needed to work on getting my sons the support they need in school, making people listen, learning the options available, becoming a better advocate for the boys.

And spending the time to work on me.  Doing physical therapy to try to eliminate these debilitating pains, taking to someone to get my head clearer.

The past year was about figuring myself out, fixing my priorities, working on myself.

Now what the coming year will hold, let's just see!