Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Sky Is Everywhere- Jandy Nelson

I really, really adored this book. It's a very real story about death, grief, love and truth that pulled at every sensitive bone in my body.

I have to start by saying that it's worth reading if for nothing more than to experience the style, flow and beauty of how the author writes. It's poetic and just incredibly well written. There were lines of this book that took my breath away (ex: the sky starts at your feet). Some were so simple and yet had a profound impact on the story, the characters or (as cheesy as this is going to sound) me. According to the book flap, Nelson is a published poet. I would like to find some of her work. This however is her first novel so I'm excited to see how she grows from here.

This story gave us some fascinating characters. I loved without exception. With Lennie, I was able to feel her pain, confusion and excitement right along with her. I genuinely liked her as a main character. Bailey, although we don't actually "know" her, is probably my favorite character in the book... spunky, happy, full of life and full of love. You can't really help but want to hang-out with her. The boys both had me swooning, but in very different ways. They both represented a different side of Lennie's emotions and I was kind of fascinated by it. Gram, Sarah and Big were great supporting characters with their constant love and concern for Lennie, as well as adding some quirkiness to the plot.

I think what I loved most about this book was its honesty. It really captured the tumult that a person goes through in the wake of a major loss. My heart broke for Lennie and the family at certain parts and yet I'd be snorting with laughter in the next paragraph. It's a true depiction of the confusion of death.

I truly enjoyed this book and will definitely be re-reading in the future to savor and appreciate the writing some more. I can't wait to see future work from Jandy Nelson. Please go pick up this book. You won't regret it.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Happy Birthday to my Furry Soulmate!

My little Lola Bean turns FIVE today! I seriously can't believe it.  Feels like just yesterday that I feel instantly in love with the 3lb ball of cuteness.

Lola - Christmas 2005- 3 Months Old

Lola- April 2010- 4.5 years old

Happy Birthday Beaner! We'll have snuggles and some peanut butter toast tonight to celebrate! (ya.... my dogs are easy to please)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Teen Read Awards and My First Book Signing

Since I live less than an hour north of Toronto, you would think that I'd get to attend some pretty cool book signings in the city.  Well... that couldn't be further from the truth.  For whatever reason, authors and their managers/publishers avoid Toronto like the plague (really people... it's only cold here in the WINTER).  So, when I heard about the Teen Read Awards I was so super excited I couldn't contain myself.  That is, until I found out that you had to be UNDER 18 to purchase tickets.  Yep, seriously.  I was going to miss my chance to rub shoulders with the likes of:
  • Becca Fitzpatrick
  • Alyson Noel
  • Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl 
  • Kelley Armstrong
  • Alexandra Bullen
  • Carrie Jones
  • James Dashner
  • Lesley Livingstone
  • Melissa de la Cruz
  • Tim Wynne-Jones
  • Ally Carter
::tears::  Honestly I was so disappointed.

BUT, I was perusing the Upcoming Events page on and saw that Becca Fitzpatrick will be doing a signing at a bookstore in Toronto at noon the day of the show! 

HOORAY!  I LOVED Hush, Hush (read my review here) and am anxiously awaiting the release of Crescendo, so I'm super pumped to have her sign my copy. We're actually going out of town on Saturday for the night (family thing) but have to drive through Toronto, so I'm hoping the timing works out and we can make a stop! I've never been to a book signing before, so I'm really happy that my first one will be with an author that I'm really genuinely excited to meet.

Then Sunday is the annual Word on the Street Book Fesitval downtown Toronto.  I'm not super impressed with the list of authors posted so far, but there are a few authors I'd like to meet... so I think we'll make a stop there on the way home.  I can only hope that some of the authors in town for the Teen Read Awards will make a stop at the book festival!?!?!  Fingers crossed!!!!!

Man! I'm so excited I can't even contain myself.  I'm such a nerd!

Friday, September 17, 2010

What have I gotten myself into?

With this new accelerated class, I have 4 classes per week until the first week of November.  This doesn't sound too bad until I remember that I work full-time, own a home, have a husband and 2 dogs and friends and family whom I rarely see to begin with.

So... with all the readings, classes, assignments, tests and exams coming up over the next 6 weeks, I had to do something to organize myself and stay on track.  I created a calendar detailing what school related tasks needs to be done each day from now until the end of the semester.  Luckily, after my accelerated class ends the first week of November, it doesn't look too bad at all.... but until then, it's friggin' scary!  I literally have something to do, and many days have more than one thing.  I've even broken it down to when to start studying for tests and which chapters to study which days.  I have even worked it out to include assigned readings for all of my classes, but usually by the end of the semester I have given up on that for the most part strictly due to the fact that a) it's the exact same content from the lectures because the professor is usually the author b) I don't actually absorb most of what I read because it's so dry.  You know... you finish the paragraph and have little clue as to what you just read?  Ya.  That's me with much of my school material.  However, I have good intentions this semester so we'll see.

Hopefully I can stick to this calendar.  I need to stick to this calendar or I will fall way behind and my schedule does not allow for playing catch-up.  Sometimes my OCD comes in handy.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Lament by Maggie Stiefvater

I have big love for Maggie Stiefvater, so I was really excited to learn that I had won a signed copy of this book from my awesome friend Tameka through a giveaway held on her blog.

I will start by saying that I enjoyed it.  I was drawn in and definitely intrigued from the beginning. I didn't love it like I did Linger, but in my opinion they are totally and completely different books. Even the style of writing feels different to me and therefore you can't really compare them. 

Where I struggled a little with this was in trying to follow along. I felt a little lost for the first 1/2 (possibly more) of the book. I understand that not knowing Luke's history and identity is part of the story, but it just felt like something was missing and that sort of stayed with me for the rest of the book because even when it all came together, it didn't totally... well.... come together for me. Everything seemed to happen very quickly with little explanation and by the end I felt like there were a lot of loose ends that were never really tied up (I don't want to get into spoilers).

I did love Luke and his back story. I love the idea behind his history. Dee was a little frustrating for me but I could sympathize with her by the end. James was a great best friend character. I think I've come to realize that where I usually hate female best friends, I have a big soft spot for male best friends. There's just something genuine about them.

I was drawn in to this book though, and I was eager to find out what happened. I just can't say that I really loved it when I was left feeling slightly lost by the end of the book. I may pick up Ballad in a little while to see if it can answer any of my remaining questions.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The "Fat Girl" Mentality.

Ummmmmmmmmm.... so I'm wearing a new pair of jeans today... in a size fricking SIX!!!!

WHAT?!?! I don't wear size 6, I wear size 18. I'm not the thin friend. I'm the overweight but loveable one.  I'm the big one in the bridal party. I'm the bulging bride. I'm the girl who's always tugging on her clothes never quite comfortable.

But wait.  None of that is true anymore.  60lbs and 12 dress sizes later I should be able to say with confidence that I am now officially thin.  I should be able to look in the mirror and see the skinny girl that I always dreamed of being.  But it doesn't always work that way.  I still cringe when I catch my reflection before getting in the shower.  I still see major flaws; stretch marks, jiggly arms and a flabby tummy (I'm not imagining these things either... they're still very much a problem).  I still don't wear a bikini or anything with spaghetti straps and I certainly don't think to call my other thin friends to borrow a dress or cute outfit when I'm in need.  In my head, although I've been successfully keeping the weight off for 2 years now, I'm still the fat girl.  It doesn't depress me the way it used to because I know, when I actually think about it, that I'm now a healthy weight and size, but sometimes I forget and it's more that I'm just conditioned to think like I used to... as an overweight, underconfident person. 

That's why, when my Mum says she picked me up a pair of jeans and I look at the tag and it says size 6, I scoff.  But then when I try them on and they zip right up I can't help give an audible squee.  There's part of me that wants to walk around with the tags still on so that people can see what size I am, or respond to "cute jeans" with "Thanks! There a six" and then happy dance out of the office. 

The fact is, my body is not perfect.  I did a lot of damage to it when I gained so much weight so quickly.  I'm covered in stretch marks that will never go away, I have pockets of jiggly leftover skin that will prevent me from ever having that killer stomach and I have the emotional scars that come from really hating my body and being uncomfortable in my own skin..... but I now consider them my battle wounds.  I worked really hard to lose that weight.  Over 60lbs came off because I walked, swam or ran daily. Because I changed my eating habits and took control over my addiction to food.  I never deprived myself, I never cut anything out, I didn't use any diets or pills or surgery... I just changed my lifestyle and worked my butt off. 

My body knows that it's thin now.  My body knows that I'm a size 6 (or 8 or 10.. depending which jean designer you ask).  I just wish that I could get my brain to catch-up.

Monday, September 13, 2010


Well.... to make a long story as short as possible, I've made quite a drastic change to my timetable.  I dropped my marketing class for this semester (Thursday lectures) because of a conflict with my schedule (it's all group work and presentations which would be horrific for me based on my distance from the campus as well as the fact that I work full-time.  I picked it up online for next semester and took an accelerated HR this semester online instead.  This means that the mid-term is in less than 3 weeks and the whole thing is wrapped up at the end of October, BUT..... I'll have to complete at least 2 lectures per week.  So... for the next 6-7 weeks I'll have to do 4 lectures per week after work.  It's gonna be crazy.

The nice part is that I now only have to drive down there once per week (Mondays) which saves a ton of $$ in gas and parking costs.  It also means that once I get through the initial craziness of the accelerated class, I'll only have to worry about 2 classes at the end of the term going into winter exams which will be nice.

I'm freaking out a little though.... because my registration just submitted for this class today, I can login to the website yet.  It may be the end of the week or the beginning of next week before I can... which is terrifying considering I'll have less than 2 weeks to do 1/2 of the course content and study for the exam.  YIKES!  I can do it though.  It's just going to be really rough and involve a lot of late nights.

Okay- you probably won't hear from me for the next little while (no book reviews, no random posts)... but I'll see you on the flip side!

As summer winds down...

It has certainly felt like fall lately.  We went from sticky blistering 40 degree days (that's 104 fahrenheit for all my lovely American friends) to relatively chilly 13-18 degree days almost overnight.  I can't say that I'm upset about it though.  I love the seasons and am ready for fall.  I wouldn't complain if summer hung around a little while longer.... but I'm not crying about the changing leaves either.  I love autumn for the crisp air, Thanksgiving, halloween and the gorgeous scenery.  It makes me think of yummy food and hiking and warm drinks.   I'm actually really looking forward to it.

photo credit: Huntsville Adventures

We had a good summer.  Around work and school we spent several weekends at the T-family cabin, we got to spend a week at the cottage with my Mum, we spent a weekend away for a beautiful wedding, we golfed, we swam we just hung-out.  It was crazy busy, but good. 

Since last year, fall also means back to school.  I've been off for 5 weeks since I wrote the final exam of my summer semester and it's been great.  It worked out as a fluke this summer that I got so much time, and I won't be getting it again so I really wanted to enjoy it.  I can't believe that time went by so quickly.  I am however looking forward to going back tonight (remind me that I said that in a couple of weeks okay?). 

What's in store for me this semester?

Mondays- Reasoning in Women and Sexism (my final gen-ed class!... but it goes all year)
Thursdays- Introduction to Marketing (apparently the prof is terrible, but I'll give her the benefit of the doubt)
Online- Quantitative Methods I (yep... that's a fancy way of saying STATS ::shudder::)

I head to my first lecture tonight.  I'm anxious to get wrapped up at the office a little early today so I can make the hour drive down there as early as possible.  I have to go to the library (I'm borrowing one of my textbooks until the one I ordered from The Book Depository arrives), then the bookstore, then the registrars office to drop off some paperwork.  Of course... I have to make sure to leave enough time to get a tea and to find my class which is in a building I've never even heard of before (for reelz... I go to the 2nd largest University in Canada so the campus is friggin' MASSIVE and therefore this could take a while).  The fact that each place I need to go before class is on a different part of the campus coupled with the inevitable lines at the bookstore on the first day of classes means I'll need as much time as possible.  *fingers crossed*

We've got lots going on this fall too. We're in final preparations for SILs wedding (10.10.10).  It's in less than 4 weeks and our dresses, along with the fabric for the guys ties, have not yet arrived.  It's going to be a mad scramble to get alterations done.  We're also getting ready for another wedding ceremony this Saturday (we're skipping the dinner/reception) and then I'm heading out with my girls for a friends birthday.  The following weekend we're off to Niagara Falls with the family for Bub's grandmothers 80th b-day celebrations. Should be fun (but expensive).  And then of course there's Thanksgiving and Halloween (we're throwing our first big bash) in October.  *sigh*.... I have to fit assignments and readings for school in there too.

Because of this crazy schedule, I wanted to get a ton done this weekend and I DID! I got the whole house cleaned as usual, the backyard and yard waste cleaned-up, filled in under the playset so we're not battling weeds all the time, trimmed the trees hanging over the fence, weeded and turned dirt in the gardens (front and back), painted our new door frame and the kitchen window frame, washed the bedding, reformatted our desktop, installed new OS, got internet working again and installed all the updates it needed (all 123 of them),took pics off my camera and stored on the computer as well as burnt to cd, and organized the spare bedroom closet.  Oh! and Bub cleaned the garage as well!  I also went out with my Mom to get some plants.  I came home with 2 mums, a snowball bush and a hydrangea bush.  LOVE! Can't wait to get them planted.  All the while I had Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban on audio to keep my company.

On top of all that I had time to read a little, watch a movie, play nursemaid to my dog (who caught a bee in her mouth and ended up getting stung), take a couple of baths and have dinner at FIL's.  It was a very satisfying weekend. 

Still left to do:
-organize basement/under stairs
-sort donate/toss/recycle/sell and then do dump/hazardous waste, e-waste and goodwill runs, and post kijiji listings
-scrape and paint the rest of the window/door frames
-take annuals out of the garden and turn the dirt over 1 more time (and of course, when the leaves begin to fall we'll be raking like crazy)

Hopefully I'll have time to fit all this stuff in around work and school and all the other crazy plans we have.... but I'm determined to enjoy the season, hopefully get some hiking in not get overwhelmed like I did last fall.

What about everyone else? Are you ready for summer to be over or are you dreading the leaves changing?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Locked Out

So, we got a new door about 2 months ago. Along with the new door came a new door knob and therefore new lock. Unfortunately, this new hardware can be opened from the inside even when it’s locked. The result? Locking myself out of my house several times this summer. As I smoker (I know, I know) who refuses to smoke inside, I frequently pop out onto my front porch from 5 minutes… in my pj’s, with no shoes on etc to have a cigarette. This is usually when I get locked out. But… I can usually walk around to the backyard and go in the sliding-glass door or ring the doorbell until my husband lets me in. I’m sure I look downright scary sometimes walking around my yard with bed head and no bra, but you have to do what you have to do.

However… last night was an entirely different story. We had locked the house up for the night and headed upstairs to bed. My husband was asleep almost instantly, but I decided to play around on my laptop for a little while. When I was done, I still hadn’t changed so I decided to have 1 last cigarette while I read my book before bed. You guessed it….. I locked myself out. It was dark out, I had no shoes on and I had to pee. I immediately rang the doorbell, causing my dogs (who were inside and asleep) to go crazy barking and howling. I knocked, the dogs barked, I rang the doorbell, the dogs howled, and so on for probably 15 minutes. No husband. I went around to the back yard (knowing that I had locked the backdoor for the night but hoping that I could get the kitchen window open… no luck. I knocked at the back door, the dogs barked, I tried to call my husband through the 2nd opened (but tiny) kitchen window, the dogs howled. No husband. I went back to the front door and repeated the same cycle.

I was starting to panic. I had no shoes on which meant I couldn’t even walk to the store to use the phone and call my husband (or my mother who has a spare key), and nothing was waking my husband up. I thought for sure that I was going to be spending the night in the garage. I felt like crying and laughing all at the same time.

Desperate at this point I had to come up with something. I’d been outside for 45 minutes by then. So… I opened the garage, grabbed the ladder, positioned it carefully on the porch (right at the edge I might add) and climbed up onto the roof of our garage where our bedroom windows are. Luckily, the one window that actually opens was in fact opened and I made my way over to it in the dark on my pitched roof and woke my husband up. He was totally confused at first, having no idea where my voice was coming from but eventually woke-up apologizing profusely and took the screen out so I could climb through (I wasn’t going back down the ladder in the dark).

So… I’m sure my neighbors think I’m totally nuts if they say what was happening, but at least I didn’t have to spend the night sleeping on a lawn chair in the garage.

Needless to say, I’m stopping on my way home from work to have a spare key cut that we can hide to prevent situations like this in the future.