reading is for awesome people

Books I've read in 2012 (28-36)

28.  The Serpent’s Shadow  Rick Riordan ****  This was a great conclusion to the series.  It had all the adventure and high tension of the other two books, while still keeping plenty of character and emotional depth.  I’m kind of said to say goodbye to all the characters, but I can’t help but wonder if there might be a spinoff series at some point, like there is for Percy Jackson.

29.  Prom  Laurie Halse Anderson ***  The thing I liked most about this book was watching Ashley change from a passive life participant (just kind of letting things happen to her) to someone who makes her own choices and take charge of her own life.  There were certain things I was really rooting for her to do and was so glad when she finally woke up and made those changes to her life. 
30.  Spell Bound  Rachel Hawkins ***  This was a good end to the trilogy.  It was nice to finally see what happened next after the cliffhanger in the previous book.  I liked the way both the problems and their solutions were so complex and of course, I enjoyed seeing the characters again.  My only real quibble with the book (well, that I can say w/o spoilers.  I have another one too, regarding a character I really liked, but to say more than that would give away too much, methinks) was that there were one or two scenes near the climax that I felt were a little rushed, but otherwise, I liked the way this trilogy ended.
31.  The Last Echo  Kimberly Derting ****  This is my favorite out of the three books in the series.  I was a little cautious when I started it because I hadn’t liked the second book as much as the first, but this one blew it out of the water for me.  The tension was very high and even though I had an insanely busy schedule, I couldn’t put the book down. 
32.  The Pledge  Kimberly Derting ****  I’ll admit, before I started reading this, I was expecting a medieval fantasy world, not a far-distant future dystopian.  So it took me slightly longer than usual to sink into the world because of that, but once I did, I really enjoyed the book.  The rules regarding language and Charlie’s ability to understand them all were unique.  I felt the way she reacted to every new revelation was realistic.  I also liked that she had the strength to make some pretty tough choices.  My only real quibble was that there were a few scenes that were skipped over that I wish I could have seen.  Instead, the jumps over those scenes were jarring, leaving me feeling like I’d missed something.  But there were only 2 or 3 of those, so it wasn’t enough to really affect how much I liked the book.
33.  Liar’s Moon  Elizabeth C. Bunce ***  The plot for this really impressed me.  It was so complex and tightly written.  And every time I thought for sure the characters were finally going to get a little bit of a break, something else went wrong.  I really like Digger’s resourcefulness and how many chances she had to shine throughout the story. 
34.  Darkfall  Janice Hardy ****  I thought this was a great end to the trilogy.  I really liked seeing how Nya responded to everything that was happening.  She was so reluctant to not only play her role, but also to accept the attention that came with it.  Even with all the heroic things she was doing, she didn’t feel like a hero.  Her emotions and reactions were so complex and felt very real.  And her strong desire to avoid the spotlight was definitely something I can relate to.  But even though she was so reluctant, she did what she had to because she knew it was the right thing to do, even though the consequences were high for her.  I really admired that about her.  The only thing… her decision on the very last page felt a little off to me in light of how she felt/responded to everything else that had happened.  Otherwise, I really enjoyed this book.
35.  A Farewell to Charms  Lindsey Leavitt *****  While I am sad to see this series end because it’s so fun and lighthearted, yet with plenty of depth, this was a great end to it.  In the previous books, I loved being able to see the different princesses Desi subbed for, this what I really enjoyed about this one, was seeing more of her home life and how her job affected it as well as more of Façade itself. 
36.  The Unquiet  Jeanine Garsee *****  It’s been a long time since I’ve read a ghost story that hasn’t completely disappointed me.  That is not the case with this.  I loved it.  The characters are very well developed.  The tension is strong all throughout.  The story was definitely creepy, and the ending was perfect.  The story kept me guessing.  Even though I had ideas on what was going on, I never knew exactly what it was until everything was revealed.  I especially loved how I could never tell if what was happening was real or if it was all in Rinn’s head. 

My Move to California, the Good Parts (With Pics)

It's taken me much longer to make this post than I'd anticipated.  Life got pretty busy again.  :P

After my last batch of posts, it probably sounded like we made a mistake moving out here.  But even though our move was quite the "adventure," and we continue to face different challenges, the positive experiences and and opportunities have been amazing and all three of us are really happy here.  The cats seem to like it here, too.

So without further ado, I present the good parts:

--  Our first weekend here (Easter weekend), we went to Monterey Bay and spent the day at the beach.  We saw tide pools and habor seals with their pups. 

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My Move to California, or, How Adventure Can Be Used As a Synonym for Nightmare: Part 3

I wish I could say that after Part 1 and Part 2 of my move to California, that settling into our new life went smoothly.  Alas, there were a few more "adventures" waiting for us.

Our First Day, or, Visa is Full of Fail
We slept most of our first morning away due to extreme exhaustion and severe jetlag.  For breakfast, we snacked on some of the fruit our realtor had left us while we made a list of everything we'd need to buy.  There were a few essentials that couldn't wait the two weeks before our furniture arrived and even though I had no kitchen stuff and thus no way to cook, we still wanted to get some food so we wouldn't have to eat out for *every* meal. 

We didn't have any shampoo, so we couldn't shower before we left.  I only mention this because it becomes important later. 

First, we went out for lunch.  But when we tried to pay for it with our credit card, it didn't work.  We've had problems before with Visa deciding that our credit card use is really something fradulent resulting in them shutting down our card before and had tried to prevent such problems by telling them about our move before it happened.  But it didn't appear to have worked.  Still, we wanted to give them the benefit of a doubt and assume that it was just a problem with the restaurant's credit card reader.  So after lunch, we went to Walmart and bought Chriss a new belt.  The credit card worked that time.  YAY.  So we grabbed a cart and finished buying all the rest of the things on our list (except the food because that Walmart's "grocery section" was a joke and I wanted organic food anyway).  We filled two carts (but only because we had to buy big things like pole lamps for the bedrooms and garbage cans) and headed up to the cashier.  

The cashier starts ringing us out and asks, "Do you have bags?"
Chriss:  Excuse me?
Cashier:  Do you have bags?
Chriss:  I haven't paid for my stuff yet.
Cashier:  I know.  Do you have bags?
Chriss, looking rather baffled:  I don't follow.
Cashier, finally realizing we have no clue what she means:  There's a city ordinance against plastic bags.  You have to supply your own.
Chriss:  Oh.  *pause*  Do you sell bags?

We decided we didn't want to pay twenty-five cents for each paper bag (for some reason the cashier didn't have any fabric bags) and just put our stuff in the cart Costco-style. 

The cashier gave us the total and Chriss swiped his card and...


Weird.  It worked when we bought the belt.  What's going on?

I tried my card.  It's all tied to the same account, but I have my own card number, so thought it would work.


By now, the cashier and the people behind us are getting a little impatient with us and my poor husband is getting more and more frustrated.  Fortunately, we'd made sure to carry some cash on us just in case we ran into problems during the move and we were able to pay for our things.

We took everything home and put it away and then called Visa.  They explained that the reason our card didn't work in the restaurant was because their servers had been down.  And the reason why it didn't work the second time in Walmart was because they were suspicious of two Walmart charges in the same day (because, who does that??) and because both charges had a 2 and a 1 in them.  (One was $12 and the other was $271.  I know.  Easy to get them confused, right?)  But they assured us that our card was now unlocked and we could continue our shopping without any further problems.

So we went to a grocery store to buy some food.  What do you think happened when we got to the cashier?  That's right.  More rejection.  This time Visa (a different rep than we talked to earlier) claimed that our card had never been unlocked because they were suspicious of the fact that charges were being make in CA.  When we told them that we had moved, the Visa rep said, "Oh, is that what this note on your account that says 'moving to CA in April' means?"   *headdesk* 

In the end, they finally unlocked our card and we were able to then go and get cat food.  But as soon as we have time to find a local bank, we are dropping Visa like the plague. 

On a happier note, due to everything we'd been through, I'd decided that we deserved cake so we bought a chocolate cake and invited our friends (the same ones who took us on a tour of NASA back in February) over to share it with us.  So at least the day ended with chocolate.

Day Two, or You Didn't Really Want a Shower, Did You?
The next day was Monday and even though we hadn't had a chance to recover from our adventures so far, Chriss had to make an appearance at work.  He got up early and went to take a shower.  Only, there was no hot water.  Funny, the power company swore they'd hooked up the gas so it should be working. 

Chriss went out back to check the hot water tank to see if it was set to vacation mode.  Instead, what he'd found was a huge puddle under the tank.  Also, we discovered a very large damp circle on the dining room and living room carpet.  The hot water tank had broken.  It just kept filling up and leaking out and filling up and leaking out.  Which meant neither of us could take a shower.  We were now four days without a shower. 

Chriss went to work anyway and I contacted our realtor who helped us get in touch with our landlords.  We are very fortunate that, unlike the last time we rented (when I was pregnant with T), our current landlords aren't evil.  In fact, they seem very friendly, reasonable, and willing to work with us.  As soon as I told them what had happened, they contacted a plumber and promised that, even if it meant replacing the hot water tank, the issue would be resolved that day. 

While I waited for the plumber to show up (they had a job on the coast they had to finish first), I made appointments at the DMV for Chriss and me to get our CA drivers' licenses.  (Other than me having to take the written test 3 times because I kept not passing by 1 point, that went pretty smoothly).  The plumber got here around 6 p.m. and by 9 p.m., we had a new hot water tank and I was finally able to get a shower.  Let me tell you, showering never felt so good!

A few days later, when our landlord came by with a shopvac because the carpet was still damp, he gave us a gift card to the restaurant he and his wife own and a few days later, UPS showed up bearing a gift basket our landlords had ordered for us to welcome us to CA and to apologize for the issues we dealt with our first few days here.  So at least that "adventure" had a happy ending. 

Getting the Cars Registered, or, How to Blow $3,000 Without Really Trying
Because my husband has been working a ton of overtime since pretty much day one out here, getting the cars registered was solely up to me.  I ended up having to make two trips to the DMV.  The first time, I was able to get my car partially registered, but had to wait until I got a smog inspection to finish it.  So I found the nearest Subaru dealership and over the course of two days, got both our cars inspected.  After that, I was able to finish registering both cars at the same time.  I was quite shocked at the price.  The smog inspections were $80 each and then the fee for registering my car was $163 and the fee for Chriss' car was $245.  It was way more than I expected to spend.  And it was only the tip of the iceburg.

The very next day, the check engine light came on in my car.  Chriss didn't want me to take it in until he could get a code reader and find out what the problem was.  Just in case it was something he could fix himself.  We couldn't find one locally, so he ordered one from the internet.  In the meantime, he told me to "drive at my own risk."  Now the roads here are very intimidating compared to the roads in Utica.  And while I did suck it up and jump right into driving here, unlike in NY where it took me a year to find the courage to drive, I certainly didn't want to "drive at my own risk" on these roads.  Which meant I had to magically make 1 week's worth of groceries stretch into 2 weeks because Chriss didn't get home from work early enough for me to go shopping.  (Everything here shuts down by 9 and 10:00). 

The code reader finally came and told us the catalytic converter needed to be replaced.  Ouch.  Not a cheap fix.  But at least it waited to die until *after* we'd passed the smog inspection and gotten the cars registered. 

So we took it in and got it fixed and the day I picked it up, the check engine light came back on.  The code reader said there was a wiring fault with three of the oxygen sensors.  So back to the shop it went where the mechanics went on and on about how horrible the rust on our car was and that surely was to blame for this new problem. 

Um... I know rust is unusual in CA, but honestly...  In NY, they said our car looked great for its age.  Here, they were trying to convince us to junk the thing.  It didn't exactly fill me with confidence.  And it didn't help that the day they replaced the sensors, they called to tell us that the ECM which regulates the emissions system had died.  To make a long story short:  After 3 weeks and 3 repairs, which left me without a car for 2 1/2 of those weeks, and $3,000, it appears my car is finally good to go.  Also, we will never go back to that dealership again. 

Everything Else
That's the end of our big stories, but to sum up the rest of our crazy first few weeks here:

  • Chriss has worked way too much overtime since we got here, leaving me to juggle Everything Else by myself
  • One night, just after midnight, Pumpkin opened up one of our cupboards and knocked down a glass jar of BBQ sauce and a jar of olive oil.  It took us 3 hours to clean up the mess.
  • I've been to over 16 stores and I *still* can't find a pair of sandals in my size.
  • Now I need a pair of walking shoes as well because my right shoe has a mysterious large hole in the side.  Shopping for those should be fun too.
  • Overall, it's been very overwhelming and a little more stressful than I'd anticipated.

Even though this move has been way more of an "adventure" than we'd bargained for, things are finally starting to settle down.  And in the midst of all this craziness, there have been some really great things too which I'll share in my next post. 
stormy ocean

My Move to California, or, How Adventure Can Be Used As a Synonym for Nightmare: Part 2

If you thought my adventure in Part 1 was bad enough, just you wait.  I haven't even gotten to my moving day yet.  But I will...

The rest of our final week in NY was relatively uneventful.  The movers loaded all our stuff up on the truck the next day and later that evening someone came to pick up our cars.  We spent the two days after that giving our house a deep clean so it'd be all nice and presentable for potential buyers.  My neighbor was even nice enough to watch T for us so Chriss and I could go see The Hunger Games (which I loved).  Before we knew it, we'd said goodbye to Chriss' family, our friends, and our house and it was Friday.  Moving day.

The plan was to spend the morning packing up all four of our suitcases and rounding up the cats so we could put them in their carriers.  Then we were going to head for the airport around 1p.m., return the rental car and check in and buy the cats' tickets (we took them in the cabin with us and kept them under our seats).  Our flight from Syracuse was supposed to leave at 4:15 and we were supposed to arrive in Detroit and hour later.  Then we'd make our connecting flight to San Francisco at 7:30 and get there at 9:00 CA time.  We'd pick up one of our rental cars at the airport and drive to our new home with plans to go shopping the next day and buy what we needed until our furniture and cars arrived two weeks later.  

But you know what they say about plans.  Especially the best laid ones.  

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oh man

My Move to California, or, How Adventure Can Be Used As a Synonym for Nightmare: Part 1

It's taken much longer than I'd prefer, but I finally have time to share the story of my move to California.  As glad as I am to be out here and as much I like the area we're in and as right as this move still feels, it definitely hasn't been without its share of, shall we say, adventures. 

Our first adventure happened on the day the movers arrived to pack up all our belongings.

Some dear friends of ours were on vacation at Disney World that week and had offered up their home and van to us so we'd have a place to stay once our house was empty as well as a way to pick up the rental car that the relo company allowed us.  We'd decided ahead of time that it'd be easiest if I dropped the cats off at our friends' house before the movers showed up so that we wouldn't have to worry about them getting out or have to keep them cooped up in their carriers all day.

I got up bright and early and drove the cats to our friends' house.  They have a ranch style house with a full (partially finished) basement.  They keep the litter box for their cat in the basement.  Since I know cats handle transitions better when restricted to a smaller area, I decided to lock them in the basement.  That way they'd have access to food, water, and the litter box.  Besides, the basement didn't have much in the way of hiding spaces, whereas upstairs there were all sorts of rooms and furniture they could hide in/under/behind.  When I left them that morning, they were cautiously exploring their new, temporary living quarters.

I arrived home about twenty minutes after the movers did.  They were already hard at work.  Now, when I was told they'd only scheduled two days to pack and load everything, I was skeptical.  After all, I had a 2,000 sq. ft. house full of stuff, plus a full basement, plus everything in the garage.  That would have taken me at least a month to pack up myself.  But these three guys kicked butt.  Not only were they really friendly, but they were fast and efficient.  By 5:00 that evening, all of our possessions, except the things we were taking on the plane with us, were packed up and ready to put on the truck the next morning. 

After the movers left for the day, we went out for dinner and ran a few errands.  Then we came home to make our rental car reservations (for our remaining time in NY as well as the two weeks in CA before our cars would arrive).  By the time we made it to our friends' house for the night, it was after midnight. 

We went down to the basement to check on the cats and feed them dinner.  We only found Chloe.

We figured Pumpkin and Stormy were probably hiding somehwere because they weren't happy about being left in a strange place.  But after searching for twenty minutes, we still couldn't find them.  They had to be somewhere in the basement.  After all, I'd blocked the exit to the main floor.  But where could they be? 

Then, in one of the partially finished side rooms, Chriss noticed an area where a thick pipe went through the drywall, leaving a cat-sized hole.  He climbed up on the workbench to get a better look.  The insulation right around the hole looked a little flattened.  He stuck his arm down the hole and discovered there was nothing beyond the insulation except a straight drop to the ground behind the wall. 

We just looked at each other.  We knew what had happened.  Pumpkin and Stormy had been exploring, wanted to see what was through the hole, and fell behind the wall.  And now they were stuck.  I had a horrible feeling of deja vu and started freaking out.

Why the deja vu?  Well, when I was twelve and living in Roosevelt, UT, I had two cats that we were keeping in the garage until they got used to us so they wouldn't run away once we let them outside.  Those two cats found a gap between the wall and the doorstep at the top of the stairs (there were stairs that led from inside the garage to the door for the upstairs apartment) and they fell down the gap behind the wall.  It took my mom and me forever to figure out what had happened to them.  Then my mom had to remove a panel of drywall so I could reach inside and get my cats out.  How did those cats repay us for that?  They ran away three weeks later. 

So here I was again, seventeen years later, facing similar circumstances.  Fortunately, since that room was only partially finished, the solution was the same as the one in the past.  Chriss found our friend's drill and used it to remove a panel of drywall.  Then he peeled back the vapor layer and moved the insulation out of the way.  Unfortunately, the gap he'd opened up was too small for him to squeeze through.  And the cats were half a wall's length away from us.  We were going to have to coax them out.

Pumpkin appeared almost immediately, but before Chriss could grab her, she ducked back inside.  I ran upstairs to grab some cat food in hopes that'd lure her out.  After about 5 minutes or so, she came within reach again and I was able to grab her and take her upstairs.  Stormy was another matter.

We tried everything we could think of to coax her out, but she wouldn't budge.  Half an hour later, Chriss had to resort to banging on the wall at the other end of the room, working his way closer to me, hoping it'd scare her in my direction.  It eventually worked and I finally got her out.  We decided that we'd keep them upstairs and away from the basement after that.  It'd be much easier to fish them out from under furniture than to get them out of the wall again.

By that point, it was 2 a.m., but Chriss still had to run to Walmart to get a lint brush so we could get all the fiberglass out of their fur.  My job was to keep them from bathing themselves so they wouldn't ingest it--or at least, any more than they might already have during their stint behind the wall.  By the time Chriss got back and I got the cats cleaned off so we could go to bed, it was 3 a.m. and we had to meet the movers back at our house by 7:30. 

It wasn't until three nights later--the night before we left NY for good--that we were able to put the wall back together.  We did our best to make it look like nothing had happened and decided not to tell our friends until we could show them the video Chriss made me take of the whole ordeal.  And until they finally check facebook and see the private video link of it that we sent them, they still have no idea what happened while they were away. 

Stay tuned for Part Two:  Moving Day.
reading is for awesome people

Books I've read in 2012 (12-27)

12. Delirium  Lauren Oliver ***  This started out a bit slow for me, but the good writing and intriguing premise kept me going and the pace/tension picked up more.  I enjoyed seeing Lena’s gradual change as she learned more about the truth of the world around her.  I also liked the way her relationship with Alex progressed.  The ending caught me by surprise and now I want to read the next book to find out what happens.
13. Glimmerglass  Jenna Black *** What I liked most about this book was Dana and how realistic her reactions to things were.  I also liked how smart she was and how much she thought through different choices before she made them.  And I liked how, even though there were definitely consequences to her choices, they weren’t because she doing stupid things just so there’d be some obstacle for her to overcome.  Her choices made sense.  I also enjoyed the story and look forward to seeing what happens in the next book.
14. The Line  Teri Hall *** (reread)  I reread this because I plan to read Away soon and I really couldn’t remember much from the last time I read this.  I did like it a little better this time around, but had a hard time connecting with any of the characters.  I think it’s because of the way the POV was written.  Don’t get me wrong, I love 3rd person, but only when it’s deep 3rd.  This was a really distant 3rd and there was so much pulled back narration that I never really felt like I got into Rachel’s head.  However, the world building is well done and the story is intriguing and I do plan to read the next book. 
15. Birth Marked  Caragh M. O’Brien ***  This had an interesting premise and a first chapter that really hooked me.  There were a few slow spots, but overall, it held my interest pretty well all throughout.  I noticed a couple of the events that happened toward the end were very similar to another book I read recently, which I found interesting.  I wonder if it’s a trend in dystopian or just a coincidence.  The main storyline for the book was wrapped up pretty well but definitely left open enough for another book.
16. Between the Plums  Janet Evanovich ***  As usual, Stephanie Plum books are my go-to when I need something light and quick to read.  And considering I read this during my moving week, it was just what I needed.  The stories were a bit more mystical than I’m used to with the rest of the series—not that they’ve ever been all that realistic to begin with—but they were still fun to read.
17. Plum Spooky  Janet Evanovich *** I also read this during my moving week—in fact I think it was during our flight out to CA—and it helped take my mind off how stressful that week was and give me something to laugh at. 
18. Turn Here  Jackson Pearce ****  This was a fun short story.  I liked the concept of following the scavenger hunt meant for someone else and I liked what Alex and her mom learned about themselves and their relationship with each other while on the hunt.
19. Bittersweet  Sarah Ockler  ****  This had beautiful writing and excellent character development.  I really liked Hudson’s relationship with her brother.  The scenes with them together always made me smile. 
20. Everybody See the Ants  A. S. King  ****  This book made me really angry, but I think it was supposed to.  It was so frustrating to see the adults in Lucky’s life just kind of stood by and didn’t really stand up for him when he was being bullied.  It took something pretty extreme just to get his mom to get him out of there.  Thankfully, Lucky found the inner strength to stand up for himself, but not everyone who gets bullied is able to do that.  And too much in real life, I see adults stand by either uselessly or helplessly and just let bullying happen.  Along with obviously striking a chord with me emotionally, this had A. S. King’s trademark awesome writing and character development.  I also liked the element with Lucky’s dreams about trying to rescue his grandfather from a Vietnam prison camp. 
21. Legend  Marie Lu **** I really enjoyed this one too.  Great writing, excellent world building and character development.  The pacing and tension were well done too.  The stakes for both Day and June were very high and I liked how well they intertwined.  And the story kept me guessing too.  There were many times where I just couldn’t see how they’d get out of different predicaments or how certain elements were going to work out and then I was surprised and pleased by the results.  I’m looking forward to the next book.
22. Ashfall  Mike Mullin ****  This reminded me a lot of Life As We Knew It.  Disaster stories like this both fascinate and scare the snot out of me.  I read this in a day and a half, in between trying to unpack my kitchen.  I just couldn’t put it down.  The tension was strong and I had to know what happened next.  I still need to know and can’t wait for the next book to come out.
23. Ashes  Ilsa J. Bick *** I had a really hard time getting through this book.  But the reason was more of a personal one.  Had I known before that Alex had a brain tumor, I never would have bought it.  In general, I have a hard time with books that have cancer in them, but I especially avoid ones where a character has a brain tumor.  It just hits too close to home.  Also, the dog’s name didn’t help matters either.  In order to push through it, I had to mentally change the dog’s name whenever I read it.  The premise of the story was interesting but toward the end, for me, it lost some steam.  Of course, that could just be because I found it such a hard book to read and toward the end, I just wanted it done so it seemed to move slower.  I’m not entirely sure though.  Even though the book ended on a cliffhanger, I honestly don’t know that I’ll read the sequel. 
24. How to Ruin a Summer Vacation  Simone Elkeles ***  This was a fun book to read, but it also had some emotional depth to it.  I like books that feel light and fun but still have plenty of depth.  At first, Amy got on my nerves because she can be pretty negative at times, but because I could understand the reason for her attitude and because she did work to change it, I got over it. 
25. How to Ruin My Teenage Life  Simone Elkeles ***  I think I like this one best out of the trilogy.  It was nice to see that Amy hadn’t regressed from the personal progress she’d made in the first book, but she still had plenty of growing to do in this one. 
26. How to Ruin Your Boyfriend’s Reputation  Simone Elkeles ***  While I did like this one, there were times when I found myself getting frustrated with Amy because I felt like even she should have known that some of her expectations were a bit ridiculous.  But I did like seeing her overcome more of her insecurities and take a leadership role.  I liked seeing her work so hard to be more positive and the changes that made in her and her relationships.  I thought it was a satisfying end to the trilogy.
27. Out of Sight, Out of Time  Ally Carter ****  I really like where this series is going and how the stakes keep getting raised with each book.  I felt so bad for Cammie as she struggled to regain her memory and dealt with the way her friends reacted after she returned from being missing for several months.  It made for some really good character development. 

My last post from NY

I should be packing the stuff we're bringing on the plane right now but I got overwhelmed and needed a break.  So I'm here instead.  I can't believe this is the last post I'll be making from NY.  Tomorrow morning, bright and early, the movers will arrive and pack up all our stuff.  Tuesday they'll load the truck and take our cars and our house will be empty.   Wednesday and Thursday we'll deep clean the house and Friday afternoon we fly out.  I can't believe how little time I have left here.  It feels so surreal. 

As excited as I am to get to California and start our new adventure, I really wish we could just skip over this week.  There's so much to do and I'm finding myself getting overwhelmed way too easily and too often.  It doesn't help that I'm exhuasted.  My last two weeks have been jampacked with moving preparations and farewells. 

Last week we said goodbye to my very first friends in NY.  That was HARD.   It was even harder watching T say goodbye to their son who has been his best friend since birth.  The next day, we said goodbye to Chriss' dad, sister, and her husband.  It was a fantastic visit, but sad to say goodbye.  This week was full of more goodbyes.  Yesterday, it was Chriss' grandparents and mom, Friday was a farewell party with many of our good friends from church, and the rest of the week was scattered get-togethers with other friends.  And today was my last day at church.  I was holding up pretty well as I said goodbye to everyone, but when it came time to tell my young women goodbye, I couldn't help it.  I cried.  I've loved working with the teen girls at church so much this past year and I'm really going to miss them.  They even surprised me with a binder full of letters from everyone that made me cry again.  Thank goodness for technology.  It sure makes it easy to keep in touch and makes the goodbyes feel less permanent.  Of course, I'm sure they'll all defriend me come winter when I post pictures of myself at the beach on Christmas while they're all buried in snow.  ;) 

Well, next time I post, it'll be from my new home in Cali.  I can't wait!

Moving update

It's been a crazy madhouse here the past few weeks.  Aside from the normal routine of home school, errands, church responsibilities, and (for my husband) work, we've been busy scheduling appointments, getting together with friends we'll miss when we're gone, going through and getting rid of the remainder of the stuff we didn't declutter when getting the house ready for market, and trying to sneak in a few moments to just rest. 

We had our initial household goods assessment done two weeks ago and last week we scheduled the movers.  They'll be packing up all our belongings on the 26th and loading them (and our cars) on the truck and shipping them out on the 27th.  They're estimated to arrive in San Jose by April 14.  This means we'll be living up to three weeks without any furniture.  All we'll have is what we can cram into 3 checked bags.  We won't even have carry-ons because we're bringing our three cats on the plane with us and they're considered carry-ons.  It's going to be interesting.  At least Bosch is providing us with two rental cars until ours arrive.  So T and I won't be stuck in an empty house (literally) the whole time. 

Last week, I took the cats to the vet to get their checkups and vaccines so we can take them on the plane.  Their reactions when we got home gave me a small-scale idea of how they'll probably react to being put on a plane and brought to a strange place and never seeing their home again.  Basically, Stormy (who is afraid of life) ran and hid under the bed, Chloe (who hates the world) ran around hissing at everything that moved and refused to eat for 2 days, and Pumpkin (who is just along for the ride) started whining for her dinner. 

Today, we scheduled our offical move date and booked our one-way flights to California for the 30th.  So this is it.  It's really happening.  (Not that we didn't reach the point of no return weeks ago....)  We've only got 18 more day left in New York.  I've got so many mixed feelings.  I'm so excited for the move and to start a new chapter in our lives and the adventures that await us, but I have spent the past 10 years of my life in New York and it's rather grown on me (except for the over abundance of evil white stuff, of course).  T has spent his entire life here.  He's lived in this house since he was 9 months old.  We have so many memories here.  It's sad to say goodbye to our house, to our friends, to Chriss' family.  I'm sad to leave my nature trail behind and Green Lake and the breathtakingly beatiful springs and autumns.  But I am thrilled to be only an hour from the ocean and so close to real mountains again.  And to be only a day's travel from my family... 

It's probably fortunate that I've been too busy to really think about it otherwise I'd have a much harder time leaving.  As it is, my last week here and having to say goodbye to all the people here that I've grown to really care about is going to be really tough.  So we're doing our best to make the most of our remaining days here and looking forward with hope for all the possibilities that await us. 
reading is for awesome people

Books I've read in 2012 (1-11)

  1. XVI  Julia Karr ***** (reread)  I reread this so I could have the characters and story fresh in my mind when I read Truth, the sequel.  I liked it even better the second time around.  I was able to connect with the characters even more and had a greater appreciation for the world building.  I’m really looking forward to reading Truth next.   
  2. Truth  Julia Karr ***** I liked this one even better than XVI.  It had a really fast pace with tons of tension that made it impossible to put down.  I loved seeing how much Nina has grown—and Dee too.  They’ve both become so strong.  I’m not quite sure how I feel about the end though.  It wasn’t at all what I thought it was going to be.  It’s definitely bittersweet.  I think it fits though and it feels like an end, though I wish I could read more about what happens next.
  3. A Tale Dark and Grimm  Adam Gidwitz ***  A very interesting retelling of Hansel and Gretel.  I enjoyed the author’s interjections a lot.  It reminded me of The Princess Bride.  It was fun and I found myself laughing often. 
  4. The Name of the Star  Maureen Johnson **** I read this right after watching the new season of BBC’s Sherlock (my new obsession!) and it fit my mood perfectly.  It had the right atmosphere, London, a cool mystery, great writing, a very interesting story.  Everything I was looking for to fill in that gap left behind from Sherlock.
  5. Magic Under Glass  Jaclyn Dolamore **** (reread) I liked this even better the second time around.  The world building is very well done and I like the character development.  I had an even greater appreciation for Nimira and Erris’ relationship and the challenges they faced. 
  6. Magic Under Stone  Jaclyn Dolamore **** I was so excited to receive an ARC for this so I wouldn’t have to wait until April to find out what happens next.  I wasn’t disappointed at all.  I liked the way the world building expanded beyond what we saw in Magic Under Glass.  I also liked how complex the relationship between Nimira and Erris became.  Given their circumstances, it felt very realistic.  I also liked having an extra POV character in this one.  I thought the two POV’s went very well together. 
  7. Between the Sea and Sky  Jaclyn Dolamore **** Really liked this one too.  I really connected with the characters and loved the world building.  I liked how the story had a very unique yet at the same time familiar and classic feel to it. 
  8. Divergent  Veronica Roth ****  I liked several things about this:  the world building, writing, pacing, tension, and most of all, the characters.  I adored Four and loved seeing how much Tris grew.  I especially liked how her growth was so evident all throughout the story rather than saved for the end.  I really can’t wait to see what happens next.
  9. Wildwing  Emily Whitman ***  I enjoyed this because it had some of my favorite things:  time travel, medieval world, and a love story.  I also liked how even though Addy kept managing to get herself into interesting predicaments, she was always able to come up with some very clever and creative solutions. 
  10. The Way We Fall  Megan Crewe *****  I loved this for many of the same reasons that I loved Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer.  I liked the journal format, the way the story and characters stuck with me long after reading the final page, and just how real it felt.   The pacing and tension are very well done and I didn’t want to put it down because I just had to find out what happened next.  I can’t wait for the next book.
  11. Wisdom’s Kiss  Catherine Gilbert Murdock ***  This was a fun story and I thought its structure was pretty creative.  It’d told through letters, journal entries, memoirs, encyclopedia entries, and even excerpts from a play.  While it was fun and original to read, the format did make it more difficult for me to connect with the characters as much as I’d have liked to.  But I still enjoyed reading it.  I read the kindle version which came with a ton of extras like author commentaries, deleted scenes, etc.  I found those pretty fascinating to read, especially since it gave me a peek inside the author’s head.  It was interesting to see why she made of the choices she made and what she was thinking at the time she wrote the book.