Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The pic isn't as clear as I'd like it to be, but don't they just look cute? Thank goodness my grandkids love books! Wish they lived closer to help me review books as there is nothing that works better than the look on a child's face as to whether or not a book is working.

I've had new car envy all afternoon. Keep looking at the 2009 Santa Fe online as there are big incentives going on right now but basically they don't look any different than the 2007 model I already have. And, I'd just be adding more debt we don't need. So, I've opted to refinance mine at a lower rate with our KY credit union and get it paid off faster. We are waiting to see what is going to happen with Saab since GM isn't going to keep them in production and that's what Steve drives. I guess some small Swedish company made GM and offer that they turned down.

The sun has finally come out after days of dreary weather but it has pretty much melted all of our snow. The forecast is for possible snow on Christmas day. We are having a quiet Christmas at home this year. We didn't even put up the big tree, the lighted village, or any of my many other Holiday decorations. I just don't have the energy to do it all and Steve just isn’t into it. I found a cute little holographic tree that doesn't even need ornaments and it looks very cute in front of the fireplace. We did get the wreaths out, including the beautiful one Monica made for me a few years ago. It goes on the laundry room door so I can see it, rather than outside. Steve put the lighted garland on the mantle and I put out the Spode table cloth and napkins in the dining room. Also have carpets and dishtowels for the kitchen and we are set. I hope someday the grandkids will all be here for Christmas and I can decorate big time, but for now I'm good with what we have out.

I spent most of the day answering Christmas cards and finding the top of my desk, including a few books I wanted to blog. I have Nelson Mandela Long Walk to Freedom that is noted as "The Official Picture Book of His Bestselling Autobiography" abridged by Chris Van Wyk and illustrated by Paddy Bouma in front of me. http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Nelson-Mandela/Chris-van-Wyk/e/9781596435667/?itm=2&USRI=nelson+mandela+long+walk+to+freedom . Both author and illustrator were born in South Africa. Van Wyk shares incidents in Mandela’s life that children can relate to, such as wanting so much to be like his father than he rubbed ashes in his hair to make it gray. Short, easy to read sentences and lovely illustrations rich in soft blues and browns bring Mandela’s maturation from a village child, to a college student, to a demonstrator, to a political prisoner, to his election as the President of South Africa beautifully to life for even the youngest reader. As I read this book I could hear Mandela’s lilting soft voice in my head and I smiled. I’ve not seen the new movie, Invictus, http://www.filmofilia.com/2009/06/09/morgan-freeman-as-nelson-mandela-in-invictus-first-look/ with Morgan Freeman as Mandela, but if anyone can portray Mandela well it would be Freeman. He is one of my all time favorite actors as he feels like part of the family from his time on Sesame Street and The Electric Company when my kids were young and these shows were daily regulars.

Speaking of kids – Mary just called and I’m still teary eyed. We didn’t realize today’s Scholastic book delivery by UPS was actually from her and it was sitting next to my desk waiting for me to open it. She called as she knew it had been delivered so I found it and sure enough – it had her handwriting on the address. Inside were two folksy Santa figures (I collect Santas) – the wooden one is now on the mantle and the small tin ornament is hanging from the kitchen light.  What brought me to tears is the framed collage of pictures she created. Some have the kids with I and, oh my goodness, but do we all have “that Finn look” to us. I especially love the pic of Mary and I standing with our arms around each other as it is so evident how much taller she is than I. Pretty soon my grandkids will be affectionately calling me “Shrimp” as Mic did with my mom who he towered over at well over a foot taller than her.

In yesterday’s blog I mentioned Leo the Late Bloomer by Robert Kraus. http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Leo-the-Late-Bloomer/Robert-Kraus/e/9781435109919/?itm=1&USRI=leo+the+late+bloomer . I immediately thought of this book while reading Bartleby Speaks! by Robin Cruise and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes – the other picture book sitting on my desk impatiently waiting to be blogged. http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Bartleby-Speaks/Robin-Cruise/e/9780374305147/?itm=1&usri=bartleby+speaks . Bartleby, like Leo (but not a tiger cub), is a quiet, happy child. At age three he still had not said a single word but it is no wonder as the rest of the clan is so busy trying to get him to talk he can’t get a word in edgewise! And then Grampy came to visit for his birthday and instead of blowing out his candles when Bartleby drew in a breath, he said – “Listen!” And, they all did. For a change, Bartleby’s family is quiet enough to listen to all the wonderful sounds they’ve been missing. Finally, Grampy whispers a query to Bartleby, asking if he has anything else to say and he does! With a huge smile on his chocolate covered face, Bartleby says – “Good cake!” I adore this book as Mic was a quiet child while Mary was verbal from the moment she was born. So when Mic spoke I paid attention, and if I hadn’t, I would have missed his amazing comments in the clamor of a busy household had I not known he didn’t speak unless he truly had something to say. Mic would sit back with a calm smile on his face and listen and watch. If my son had lived to become a father I suspect his son would have also been a quiet soul like his father. My greatest wish, which can never come true, is to watch my children’s children play together, but God had another role in mind for Mic and with time I have come to accept that, not like it, but accept it.

Initially I picked up Bartleby Speaks! because I saw Kevin Hawkes name – he is one of my favorite picture book illustrators. Check out the many books he’s illustrated: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/results.asp?WRD=kevin+hawkes&box=kevin%20hawkes&pos=-1 . Library Lion comes up first and that is no surprise, but take a look at Chicken Cheeks http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Chicken-Cheeks/Michael-Ian-Black/e/9781416948643/?itm=3&usri=kevin+hawkes. If this book of animal bottoms by Michael Ian Black doesn’t have you chuckling aloud, nothing will!

That’s it for today. I hear Steve playing an Indiana Jones game on the Wii so I can sneak into the bedroom and wrap a few of his presents when he isn’t paying attention!