Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Belated Birthday Post

For those keeping score, SC turned one two Saturdays ago. You may also notice that date being within the blog blackout period I experienced, so no big celebratory post for the little girl. We actually had her birthday bash on Labor Day weekend to allow some out of town family members to attend more easily. But I had decided to wait and post everything on the actual day. I'm only 10 days late...what do you want?

Mr. D's parents came to town for the party and since we won't be making the trip up there any time soon (Mr. D has no vacation time with his new job), they decided to stay for a week. We relaxed a bunch and took a trip to the museum one day (we have one of the best dinosaur collections in the world) and fun was had by all. And I made it through the week with my sanity mostly intact, which is always a good thing. I actually like having my in-laws around. I just can't relax. My MIL won't sit still for two seconds, and I am not comfortable having my guest run around cleaning my house while I sit there. And my FIL likes to complain about everything. Oh, and he chews as though it is very important for deaf people in the next town to feel the vibrations of his mastication so that they, too, will know that he is chewing. I have mentioned before my feelings about loud chewing.

The party was great except that it was one of the hottest days of the summer, so people were melting a bit on the deck. But having a bunch of family and friends around when your little girls turns one is awesome. Especially when they bring really strange looking presents (it was a stuffed alligator). She got her first baby doll, and she just adores it. She'll drag the poor thing all over the house with her. Of course, because she still crawls, the doll gets slammed down on the ground with every motion. She's a loving mommy, I'll say...

We also had a party at her school (daycare). The kids "help" to make the cake, which is free from white sugar and is almost healthy. SC wasn't too keen on it, especially after the gastronomic delight she had at her home party, but then she started shoveling in a bunch of fruit. She does love to eat, and now that she has two bottom teeth, she shoves the food to the front of her mouth to take advantage of them. She looks like a little old lady trying to eat corn. She might not have the teeth for long, though, if she keeps instigating wrestling matches with her brother. But they do really love each other, which melts my heart completely.

Happy birthday sweetie!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Blog Review: Dangerous Days of Daniel X (Finally)

I am not quite certain why, but this is the first time I have been able to access my blog since, well, my last post. So, I first must send my apologies to MotherTalk because they asked me to review this book back on September 11. I had everything read, written, and ready. Luckily, I have not missed the entire tour...just my scheduled day.

On to the book!

I have been drawn in repeatedly to James Patterson's books aimed at adults. Titles like Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, and First to Die have had their moments on my bedside table. And each of those books has left me satisfied and anxious to see the next in the series. If you recall, however, I wasn't as happy with my first introduction to one of Patterson's books aimed at a younger audience. My main complaint with Maximum Ride III, besides a strong dislike for the main character's name, was the lack of detail to draw me into the story. The plot was an interesting concept. The story unfolded well. But I was left wanting a lot more because there was a considerable lack of detail.

Unfortunately, I was left with a similar impression after reading the The Dangerous Days of Daniel X. I loved the idea behind the story. In a nutshell (as so as not to spoil the book for potential readers), Daniel X is an alien hunter. As the book opens, his parents are killed by an alien, yet he survives (very Harry Potter-esque, no?). The book then jumps ahead to his life as a teen and some of his wondrous special abilities, like being able to recreate his entire family from nothing (an illusion but, as told, a terribly impressive illusion). The unfolding of the story, the underlying concepts, and even the general pace were good. But, again, I was left wanting a lot more detail. I realize that Patterson was aiming at an audience that isn't fond of reading. Perhaps kids that don't like reading hate to slog through lots of extra words in the form of plot detail. For those kids, this would be a great story told in a simple form. And, for them, it may hit the mark exactly. But I know that for me, even as a 10-year-old, I would have found the story lacking (but I also read voraciously).

One thing I wished I had been able to do with this book was share it with a 10-year-old and get his or her opinion. As I thought through the collection of families in my little circle, it dawned on me that the kids were all either way too young (five and younger) or were too old already (13+). I almost gave it to one of the 13-year-olds anyway, but she started reading the HP books in first grade, so this would probably garner a similar reaction from her.

But don't just take my word for the book. Here is a nice writeup from the New York Times. According to that piece, Patterson's heart is in the right place, so I give him credit for that. If I find a willing young reader, I do want to hear from someone in the target audience. And when that happens, I will definitely post an update to give you, as Paul Harvey would say, the rest of the story.

In the interest of full disclosure, I received a copy of the book in exchange for writing this blog review.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Pedestrian PSA

When walking on a street with no sidewalks, you should walk facing traffic. So, in the United States, that would be on the left. It is also best if you walk single file instead of spread out into the lane of traffic that you cannot see because it is behind you.

Seriously. Does no one teach this any more?