Sunday, January 25, 2009

Landen's 10th Birthday

Landen turned the big 1-0 and January 24th and we had a big party in the park to celebrate! My family, Ryan's family, and all of Landen's little friends had a blast playing football, smashing a pinata to pieces, and eating cupcakes. The weather was perfect and everyone enjoyed themselves. Everyone went all out on his presents and some of the highlights were a Tomlinson jersey from his mommy, Cardinal's gear from Grandma Suzy, and $30 of individually rolled bills in a big box from Aunt Carrie. Happy birthday Landen!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Water for Elephants

I just finished the most amazing book by Sara Gruen called Water for Elephants. At the beginning of Water for Elephants, Jacob Jankowski is living out his days in a nursing home, hating every second of it. His life wasn't always like this, however, because Jacob ran away and joined the circus when he was twenty-one. It wasn't a romantic, carefree decision, to be sure. His parents were killed in an auto accident one week before he was to sit for his veterinary medicine exams at Cornell. He buried his parents, learned that they left him nothing because they had mortgaged everything to pay his tuition, returned to school, went to the exams, and didn't write a single word. He walked out without completing the test and wound up on a circus train. The circus he joins, in Depression-era America, is second-rate at best. With Ringling Brothers as the standard, Benzini Brothers is far down the scale and pale by comparison.
Water for Elephants is the story of Jacob's life with this circus. Sara Gruen spares no detail in chronicling the squalid, filthy, brutish circumstances in which he finds himself. The animals are mangy, underfed or fed rotten food, and abused. Jacob, once it becomes known that he has veterinary skills, is put in charge of the "menagerie" and all its ills. Uncle Al, the circus impresario, is a self-serving, venal creep who slaps people around because he can. August, the animal trainer, is a certified paranoid schizophrenic whose occasional flights into madness and brutality often have Jacob as their object. Jacob is the only person in the book who has a handle on a moral compass and as his reward he spends most of the novel beaten, broken, concussed, bleeding, swollen and hungover. He is the self-appointed Protector of the Downtrodden, and... he falls in love with Marlena, crazy August's wife. Not his best idea.
The most interesting aspect of the book is all the circus lore that Gruen has so carefully researched. She has all the right vocabulary: grifters, roustabouts, workers, cooch tent, rubes, First of May, what the band plays when there's trouble, Jamaican ginger paralysis, life on a circus train, set-up and take-down, being run out of town by the "revenooers" or the cops, and losing all your hooch. There is one glorious passage about Marlena and Rosie, the bull elephant, that truly evokes the magic a circus can create. It is easy to see Marlena's and Rosie's pink sequins under the Big Top and to imagine their perfect choreography as they perform unbelievable stunts. The crowd loves it--and so will the reader. The ending is absolutely ludicrous and really beautiful.


6 Quirky Things About Me:

1. I carry around a tin of Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream with me wherever I go. I absolutely cannot stand when my cuticles get dry and scraggly. If I am without a tin of cuticle cream I will hunt down a store that carries it just so I have it available.
2. I reapply lipgloss and chapstick probably 50 times a day. My lips must be moist or I go crazy. My purse has exactly 17 tubes, sticks, and pots rolling around in the bottom. No wonder it's so heavy! My favorites are from Bath and Body Works, the mentha in the squeezy tube, any flavor.
3. I, like Haley and Carrie, must change out of my clothes and shoes and into my pajamas as soon as I get home. My hair also has to go up in a knot on my head. I can't stand having my hair in my face! All of my jewelry (except my ring) must also come off immediately.
4. I have a favorite pillow that I sleep with. It has the perfect amount of fluffiness and is perfect for snuggling with at night. I hate when my bony elbows rub together, so the pillow is used as a cushioning device to prevent this from happening. No one, I repeat no one, must touch the pillow except for me. Landen and Ryan get extreme pleasure out of "kidnapping" my pillow and pretending to fart on it or putting their stinky feet on it. Gross.
5. Everything on our bed must be washed at least once a week. Sheets, duvet, everything. We have two dogs and two cats who insist on sleeping with us each night. By the end of the week our bed is a disgusting "hairfest" and it must be cleaned. I have washed the duvet so much that it is starting to get holes in it.
6. My toenails must always be perfectly painted. I think feet are gross and if they're not in perfect condition they're doubly gross. I scrub my heels religiously with my "Pedi Egg," get weekly pedicures, and slather them with lotion each night. Bag Balm is the best product for keeping your feet in tip-top shape. It was originally made to keep cow's udders from cracking, but it also does the same for your feet. They sell it at Walgreen's and every night I slather on a thick layer and then sleep with socks on.

I tag: Kim

Saturday, January 17, 2009


I am scheduling appointments with florists to make my bouquet and my bridesmaids bouquet so I thought I should post come pictures of things I have in mind. We decided on the orange J. Crew dresses, so now I need to find flowers that won't clash with their dresses but still incorporate our colors (orange and brown). Above are some of my ideas so far. I like the white bouquet with orange accents for my bridesmaids and the first bouquet for mine.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Let the Wedding Planning Begin!!

So I've finally begun planning the wedding in earnest! It took me awhile to warm up to it with all of the stress going on at work (my advice- NEVER become a special ed teacher!!), but things have settled down and I'm ready for something to look forward to. I've ordered all of the paper for our save-the-dates and I'm making them myself, since I'm so picky and can't find anything that works for what I have in mind. I'm ordering the paper for the save-the-dates and invites from this great website that Carrie used for her own wedding called They have fabulous papers and envelopes! Our colors are brown and burnt orange and we ordered a shimmery bronze and coppery orange color for the save-the-dates. I'm not going to say how we're going to assemble them because I want it to be a surprise! The next order of business is finding bridesmaid dresses. I'm stuck between using the dresses we wore for Carrie's wedding (strapless shimmery brown, knee length) or getting new ones. I found a gorgeous orange chiffon dress on sale at J. Crew, but I hate to make people spend unnecessary money. My bridesmaids are going to be Carrie, Sarah, and my mom so we already have the dresses! Let me know what you think! Tomorrow Carrie and I are going to the giant Bridal Expo at the Phoenix Convention center to hunt down vendors. Hopefully it will take the stress out of some of my planning!!