Tuesday, January 20, 2009

She still has a sense of humor

Well, they may be doing their utmost to torment her in the best of military boot camp style, but we have trained her well - my daughter still has her sense of humor!

When your kid heads off to Navy boot camp, you'll get a 30 second call when they arrive, a box full of their civilian clothes about a week later, and a form letter from the Department of the Navy in about another week.

The form letter expresses appreciation for your support of your recruit, gives you the official address for sending mail to your recruit (as well as letting you know what is and is not acceptable to mail), discusses telephone calls (you can't call 'em), emergency leave (strongly discouraged), visiting (not until PIR - Pass in Review, the official graduation ceremony), and various and sundry other form-letter-type stuff. There are also two lines available for your kid to write a message.

This didn't stop my daughter from cramming eight lines of writing in the "Recruit's Comments" area as well as little notes or a drawing on each of the other three pages of the letter.

Her illustration let us know that the bitter cold (boot camp is in Great Lakes, Illinois) was being compensated for by what she referred to as cold-weather Astronaut suit clothing. She drew an arrow to what she called "totally hot Navy-issue glasses I will soon receive" (apparently, the black-plastic rimmed glasses are referred to in Navy lingo as "BCG" or "birth control glasses" because they are not exactly stylin').

Her note indicated that the RDCs (Recruit Division Commanders) aren't as scary as she thought they would be because she hasn't "done anything completely moronic ... yet." And that one of the things that keeps her going is knowing "whatever comes after this canNOT POSSIBLY suck this bad. It's inconceivable."

And then she broke my heart by saying that she barely laughs for fear of getting yelled at. My daughter has an absolutely delightful, infectious laugh and it's one of the things I miss the most.

But if the kid who's going through the boot camp ordeal can tell me to "Be strong - I'm okay" - well, it's the least I can do.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


My name is Sharon and I'm a bookaholic.

I don't think there are any 12 step programs for my ailment.

But then, I doubt I'd deem myself in need of rehabilitation if there were any programs, so it's probably a good thing they're not available. Without rehab, there can be no interventions. So, I'm safe to read to my heart's content.

Even when that means I'm completely ignoring many other obligations - like sweeping, mopping, dusting, laundry, etc.

Yes, sometimes I get into a really good book and pretty much couch potato until I've finished it (betcha didn't know you could use "couch potato" as a verb, did you?).

Over the past six months, I've taken part in two reading log swaps on Swap-Bot. It's the first time I've ever actually kept track of my reading. I've always said that I read to escape and my logs sure showed that! I had a grand total of one nonfiction book during six months of reading!

For kicks, here's my log (sans all of the descriptions):



False Memory

Dean Koontz

Confessions of a Shopaholic

Sophie Kinsella

Shopaholic Ties the Knot

Sophie Kinsella

Cold Case

Stephen White

The Golden Compass

The Subtle Knife

The Amber Spyglass

(His Dark Materials Trilogy)

Phillip Pullman

Desperate Hours

(The Epic Rescue of the Andrea Doria)

Richard Goldstein

Murder Suicide

Keith Ablow

Breaking Dawn

Stephenie Meyer


Stephen King writing as Richard Bachman


Janet Evanovich

Everyone Worth Knowing

Laura Weisberger

Power Play

Joseph Finder

A TV Guide to Life (How I Leaned Everything I Needed to Know from Watching Television)

Jeff Alexander

Confessions of a Nervous Shiksa

Tracy McArdle

Murder in Volume

D.R. Meredith

Too Late for Angels

Mignon F. Ballard

Breach of Promise

Perri O’Shaughnessy

Unfit to Practice

Perri O’Shaughnessy


Anne Frasier

The Host

Stephenie Meyer


Natalie R. Collins

Then We Came to the End

Joshua Ferris

I Am Legend

Richard Matheson

The Woods

Harlan Coben


Dennis Lehane

Killer Instinct

Joseph Finder

Angela’s Ashes

Frank McCourt

Teacher Man

Frank McCourt

A Thousand Splendid Suns

Khaled Hosseini

Nobody’s Safe

Richard Steinberg

Daddy’s Girl

Lisa Scottoline

Brotherhood of the Rose

David Morrell


David Morrell

Saving Fish From Drowning

Amy Tan

Are you There, Vodka, It’s Me, Chelsea.

Chelsea Handler

Cold Sassy Tree

Olive Ann Burns

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister

Gregory Maguire

Ender’s Game

Speaker of the Dead


Children of the Mind

Orson Scott Card


Lisa Gardner


Frank McCourt

Every Boy’s Got One

Meg Cabot

After Sunset

Stephen King

Change of Heart

Jodi Picoult


Jilliane Hoffman

Veil of Roses

Laura Fitzgerald

The Hour I First Believed

Wally Lamb

I've decided to keep a log of everything I read this year. Maybe I'll try to sneak in more than one nonfiction!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Where's my heart? In Illinois, that's where

And it's cold, darn it!

Actually, only part of my heart is in Illinois. I do still have family here. But the lovely young lady who is my daughter headed off for Navy boot camp Tuesday, January 6, and it certainly felt like my heart was being ripped out at the time.

I knew it would be hard. She's left home before - for a semester at a prep school in Southern California, for a couple of weeks to attend Summer Seminars for both the Naval Academy and the Air Force Academy, for a week to attend Girls' State, three weeks in Europe, and various and sundry time spent with out-of-town friends and family.

But this time was different - this time I knew she wouldn't be coming back to live at home when she was finished. Plus, this time there would be 100% more yelling at her where she was going!

I started the waterworks a couple of weeks before she left - trying to restrict myself to crying when she was not around. In the shower, in bed, in the pantry huddled over the trash can ('cause it's a nice sized pantry, but it's not big enough to wallow in without huddling over the trash can). The day we took her to the hotel where she spent her last night in town before shipping out, I broke the no-crying-in-front-of-her rule. But she wiped away a tear or two herself, so that was okay.

I'm doing a little better than I expected. Sure, I was a hot mess for awhile, but I've bucked up and am doing the ol' stiff upper lip thing. When we got "the box" (they sent back all of her civilian clothes in a box right away), I didn't weep hysterically as I had assumed I would. Seeing the hurriedly scrawled "love you" inside the box was wonderful - we probably won't get any actual correspondence for another week or so.

She's a strong gal. And this is what she has wanted to do since middle school - serve her country in the U.S. Navy. So, holding it together and being cheerfully supportive is the least I can do for her. I know she can do anything for 8 weeks as long as she knows she's got love and support from her friends and family.

And I'm right - she called home today (I'm soooo jealous that my husband was home sick and that he was able to talk to her!). She needs information so the Navy can complete her security clearance (she'll be in an intelligence job when she finishes school after boot camp). She had enough time to tell him that she's doing great and everything is going fine with her basic training.

That's my gal!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I left a little bit less of my heart in San Francisco

But 100% more luggage.

As I’ve mentioned before, we are currently hosting our 5th exchange student. Now, when students first find out they’re placed with our family, they have to look up where exactly Idaho is in relation to the parts of the U.S. they’ve actually heard of. So while they’re here, we make every attempt to show them at least one thing their friends and family will be able to relate to. Over the years, we’ve made trips to Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas and, one of our favorite cities, San Francisco.

For some exchange students, there’s nothing quite like walking across the Golden Gate Bridge and riding a cable car. And the hilly streets - the scene of so very many exciting car chases in so very many movies - are always a hit!

This year’s trip was over the Christmas holidays. We piled in the car Christmas afternoon and headed for my sister-in-law’s house in Reno, and then on to California the next day. My father-in-law lives only a couple of hours from the City (as San Franciscans like to call it – never, ever “Frisco”), so we got up bright and early on the 28th and drove down to the City by the Bay.

We spent a couple of days doing all of the typical, touristy things: walking across the Golden Gate Bridge and back, having ice cream at the Ben & Jerry’s at the corner of Haight and Ashbury, letting the kids dip their toes in the Pacific Ocean, driving down the crooked part of Lombard Street, roving around Fisherman’s Wharf watching the street performers and buying postcards, and (of course) riding the famous cable cars. We got off of our cable car in Chinatown, wandered around and then headed back to the area where we always park our car when we’re in that end of town. My knees wimped out during the mile and a half walk (so very, very frustrating), so my husband and daughter left the boys and me in a park in Little Italy and jogged off to bring the car back.

Unfortunately, someone beat them to the car.

No, it wasn’t stolen. However, the rear driver’s side window had been smashed to bits, my purse was on the ground beside the car and both my suitcase and a backpack belonging to our exchange student were gone.

Coulda been worse, I guess. My suitcase had nothing but clothing in it (albeit clothing that I loved!) and the backpack contained only a few, inexpensive items. It looked as though the thieves had merely broken the window, grabbed the items closest to them, and run off (after rifling through my purse and abandoning it for its sheer boringness, I guess). They didn’t unlock the rest of the car, or even look closely at the rear seat area. My daughter’s purse was in the center section of seats and held her digital camera. We had nearly every CD we own in the front of the van. And, strangest of all, our exchange student’s iPod was in plain sight in the back of the car. So, we were thanking our lucky stars that it wasn’t worse.

It did, however, put a damper on what had been a nice little trip. And an unexpected dent in our pocketbook in the form of window replacement.

But I’ve got to wonder what the heck our incompetent thieves were thinking. I mean - breaking into a minivan with Idaho plates? A minivan belonging to folks who couldn’t even afford to fly to the City? What exactly did they think they’d be hauling out of that van? I have a feeling they were terribly disappointed with their haul!

I, for one, was glad to be back home when the trip was over.

Oh yeah, one great reason to live in Idaho? A headline in the Idaho Business Review: “Idaho energy czar Kjellander aims to harness cow pie power.”

Couldn’t get that anywhere else.