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Thursday, May 27, 2010

A job...and then there were none.

I had such a strange expereince today. I was offered a job, but not. See, I interviewed yesterday for a position with the city of Fort Worth. It was a position that essentially was the admin support and go to for the cities 19 summer camps. Those of you that know me know that I run a mean summer camp. This position would be a totally new experience for me and probably a really great chance to learn some new skills. The job would run through the summer--all the way to September. Knowing that this may be a problem IF, in fact, I get a full time teaching job, I went ahead and applied and interviewed. It went well, but I figured that wanting to be gone for a week, and not being able to promise that I would be available until September 1st would be a problem. It was!
I got a phone call today, and was offered the job--kind of with the requirement that I would agree to be there for the duration and cancel or shorten or reschedule our travel plans. Okay, maybe I am being unreasonable about the travel plans (except I have been very homesick and I haven't been to Denver since Kristie's baby shower in November--I miss my friends!), but if I get a job, I would have to start that in August. I don't think they are being unreasonable in their request to have someone who would be always available either. There is lots and lots to do, and the position already has a deskful of stuff to do. I hope they find someone who is right for what they need, and I will continue to search, search, search for a teaching job.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Book #19

The Help
By: Kathryn Stockett

I love this book. It is absolutely amazing! Here is a story about three ordinary, Southern women who join forces to create something extraordinary. The setting is perfect, 1960's Jackson,  Mississippi, where the lines between black and white are still very clear. The lines between women and men and upper and lower class are also very clear. The author writes from three different perspectives, and each character has a distinct and important part to play. I always feel that writing a novel from several perspectives is risky business because one character still stands above the rest. This is not the case with the characters in The Help. Skeeter is supposed to be the model of what a Southern lady should be, but she has returned home from Ole Miss with a degree and a desire to do something more than tricking a man into marrying her. She wants to write, and she is feeling restless. She applies for job with a prestigious publisher in New York, and while she is highly under-qualified for the position, she does get a phone call and an offer to look at some of her writing ideas. After her ideas get laughed at, she comes up with a brillant, but dangerous, plan. As Skeeter particiaptes with all her friends in their high society games, she becomes more and more discontent with what she sees, so she wants to tell the story of the maids of Jackson, Missippi. The colored women who clean their houses, raise their children, and sacrifice their lives for the comforts of the white families they serve.
Abileen has worked with the families of Jackson, Mississippi her whole life. She works for Miss Skeeter's friend, and she in very uncomfortable with the way that Miss Skeeter wants to talk to her. First the talk is about what happened to Skeeter's family's maid, Constantine, and then Miss Skeeter has a crazy idea for a book and wants to know Abileen's story. With a little coaxing from Skeeter, and a few instances of racial hate crimes, Abileen agrees to tell her story. She writes down everything, from all the children she raised to the day her son was killed and her world turned gray forever. The problem is that Skeeter needs at least a dozen maids to write her book, and Abileen can't convince anyone to participate. She works and works and works on her friend, Minny, who finally agrees. 
Minny is SASSY! She tends to get fired from her jobs for mouthing off too much. She is full of opinions and shares them without even thinking. She loses her job after playing a cruel joke on her employers daughter, Miss Hilly, who happens to be a powerful and influential woman since she is the President of the Junior League. Minny is able to find a job on the outskirts of town with a woman who is an outsider and therefore, not welcome in Jackson. As these women work together to tell their story, the tension in the town is building. Eventually, Skeeter gets enough women for her book, and the shock that it send through the town is outrageous. And, this is just the tip of the iceberg! There is lots that happens and lots to make a person think! It has been a long time since I have read a book to make me think like this one! I throughly enjoyed it from beginning to end. It would make a great Book Club book...if only I was in a Book Club.  

Friday, May 21, 2010

Uncle Nick

We are happy to report that Uncle Nick has officially been introduced to his niece! He is totally in awe of her and every little thing she does. Much like the rest of us. I am glad to be together again, and I am feeling those baby tugs when I watch him with her. He is really cute with her. Oh, happy days!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Book #18

The Titan's Curse
By: Rick Riordan

Let's be honest. I was totally hesitant to read these books. I was! First, because I really didn't understand what they were about; then, because I was afraid of what they would do to Mythology. Having had the absolute joy to teach a semester elective of Mythology for a few years, I sometimes feel like bringing those myths that I love so much into a present day setting is almost sacrilege! Obviously, I have gotten over that. I have now read through book four (this is book three--I am WAY behind on my postings), and I am a Percy Jackson fan! 

The Titan's Curse was a great adventure from beginning to end. I am so glad that I got into this series after all the books were written! This way I can run to the store and pick up the next one immediately. I am currently reeling from the fourth book having finished it not 20 minutes ago, so forgive me if this post is flighty and unfocused. 

Here, however, are the Top Five reasons why I love Percy Jackson:

1. He is absolutely adorable. He totally doesn't believe in himself, but he pulls through every time! This makes him absolutely adorable in my mind. I think that some of my favorite students were those kids who never really believed in their own abilities and genius! 
2. Percy loves his mom. Okay, so I know that in most YA Lit novels, the parental figures don't play a HUGE role. This is really no exception, but I love the way that Percy's mom quite simply loves and supports him unconditionally. She is a wonderful woman, and it is no wonder Poseidon fell for her. 
3. Annabeth. I know, I know. She isn't Percy, but he would not be who he is without her, and she needs him just as much. They are the best of friends, and even if they never become the couple it seems they are destined to be, they will always have each other. 
4. He is smart and resourceful. Not in a conventional way, but heroes hardly ever are. 
5. Percy Jackson is kind and generous, and I hope that his fatal flaw NEVER catches up with him. 

Just read this series. I promise there will be no disappointment.   


I realized that while I raved about Percy Jackson, I didn't really write about the book, so I will briefly do that here. The Titan's Curse introduced us to some really great new characters. I instantly loved Artemis and her huntresses. Not because I am a man hating lady, but because I loved the power and friendship they shared with one another. I also like the introduction of Bianca and Nico--Hades children. I kind of felt sorry for the guy, but I always feel sorry for Hades. I love him. He is a better god than anyone ever gives him credit for. The lessons they learn, and the prices that some of them pay broke my heart, but I loved the way in which the lives of those characters lost were honored. RIP Zoe and Bianca. You served your goddess well!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Oh, the places I have been

Apparently I have been no where. I found this link to create a map of all the states you have visited on a writers blog that I follow (Paperback Writer) and I was curious. We all know I have never left the United States--never even been to Mexico--but I don't think I even realized how little I have traveled. I am thirty, and I have only seen 36% of this great country in which we live. I have seen nothing of the world. Always wanted to, just never have. There just doesn't seem to be the time or the resources, and NOW...sigh! Let's just pray that I find a summer job.

18 states (36% of the US) Let's be honest--some of them, I only drove through or was in in airport. Sad!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Book #17

The Hunger Games
By: Suzanne Collins

Once again, I have read this book before. This time it was a special treat because I got to read it again with Nick. Okay, let's be real...I read it TO Nick. My hubby is not a reader, but he has always loved being read to. When he and I lived in different cities, I read to him over the phone. This time, I read to him before we turned out the light each night. I knew that Nick would love this book, and I would recommend it to just about ANYONE! As usual, from my teacher standpoint, it is a book that will draw in readers of all levels and genders. 

Ah-hem! Let me get on with it:

Katniss Everdeen lives in North America way in the future where we have all fought for the last of the resources, and managed to become a country full of a government and people that today, we despise. The Capitol is in control, and to remind the people who live in the outlying Districts that they are large and in charge, the Capitol hosts The Hunger Games every year. One boy and one girl from each of the 12 districts is selected to go and compete in a competition where each contestant tries to kill the others in an arena built by the Gamemakers that also challenges the survival skills of the contestants. It could be a desert or a frozen wasteland or woods or by the sea. One cannot escape it, however. The only way to get out is to either be killed or win. 
Katniss is from District 12. A poor, coal-mining, district, and the furthest from the Capitol. She hunts with her best friend, Gale, to support their families despite the fact that it is illegal. Her father died, and she takes care of her mother and her younger sister, Prim. Prim will be entered into the drawing for the first time this year because she is 12. Katniss' name is in several more times because she can enter her name once per family member every year in exchange for extra supplies. Gale's name is in there even more, and they are both nervous for the ceremony. 
Prim's name is in once, but against all odds, her name is drawn and without even thinking about it, Katniss volunteers to go in Prim's place. The boy going is Peeta Mellark, and they get on a train headed for the Capitol in what is sure to be a wild and frightening ride. all I am going to tell you. There is so much more that happens, and the Games are both bloody and touching, sad and loving. Just read it. I will post a picture later when I can take one with Nick in it. 

Read it! Seriously. 

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Let me explain...there is too much, let me just sum up!

Where do I start? Okay, a picture montage of the things I need to catch up on. It will be quick...again.

Nick's step-sister, Jessie, came to Dallas for work, so she stayed with us an extra day. It was SO nice to spend some time with her. We haven't seen her since November, and things were so crazy that there that we didn't get to spend too much time talking. So, it was nice to have her with us for a little while. We went to dinner at Joe T. Garcia's and shopped at the Stockyards. Loved having her here!!

I am now in Nashville, TN. Here is a picture of Stefanie and Matt at the hospital as we were getting settled. Stef's water broke around 4:30 on the day I arrived. Michaela waited for me to get here before she decided to make her appearance. We went to the hospital and tried to settle in for what we knew could be a long night. I don't think any of us were prepared for just how long the night would be though. Stef really wanted to have a natural birth and delivery. The doctor was totally okay with that, but she thought it best to put a time limit on it. So, if nothing had changed by 5am, then Stef agreed to begin petocin. After a long night, the drug was administered and then her contractions gained in strength and frequency. She was a trooper, but after sixteen hours of labor, she was tired and weak. She talked with her day nurse, Elaine, and they agreed that an epidural would be ideal at this point. Stef needed to rest before she had to push this little girl out of her body. It was the best decision she ever made! She was able to rest and relax a little before pushing.
Here is the result of all Stefanie's hard work. She is here, and we love her very much! She listened very intently to me today while I told her all about the family to which she now belongs. She is a lucky little lady to have the parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and great's that she has! A new era and a new generation of this family has begun, and I feel so blessed to be here and a part of her life. We have much to be thankful for!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I'm An Aunt!

She's here and she is GORGEOUS! More to come.

Monday, May 10, 2010


This is where I am right now. This is where I will be for a little while. I have lots and lots to catch up on as far as posting is concerned, but that will have to wait for another day. I have finished a book and almost finished another. We had more company, and now there is this whole Nashville, waiting for Michaela to arrive thing. We will have lots of fun stories to share, I am sure.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Mom Halasz Comes to Visit!

Nick's mom came to visit us in April, and I cannot believe I haven't blogged about it yet. She was here about a month ago, and she was in Texas for a week. She spent the first few days of her stay with J.B. and Savanna in Hamlin (I think) TX. We went and picked her up for the last leg and spent a few days just hanging out in DFW.

We went to the Galleria Mall to do a little shopping. It is a huge mall with a skaing rink at the lowest level. Nick has been saying for months that we need to go there, just to see it, and this was the perfect opportunity for him to do that and show part of the city off to his mom as well.

I think we took the majority of the pictures from that weekend while we were there, and I have to thank Cindy for sending these to me. Oddly, I didn't take a single picture the entire weekend! Not that I didn't have good intentions. We went to the movies. We went to downtown Fort Worth and spent some time roaming around Barnes and Noble. I love that place! I could live there.
This is what we spent the majority of the week doing though! We relaxed a lot and just enjoyed the time with family!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Our First Anniversary

What a whirlwind of a first anniversary we had! I am beginning to think that the first few days in May are not really good luck for us! Nick and I started to plan our anniversary weekend at least six weeks ago. We decided that it would be really nice if we could find a cabin to rent for the weekend, take the dogs with us, and just disappear into the wilderness! So, we talked to a guy who rents out his cabin, and made reservations. We were supposed to contact him a few days later with payment information, but for two, almost three, weeks we could not contact him via phone or email. Both really frustrated with this, we decided to scrap the idea and just go camping. Well, we have been talking about buying camping equipment for a long time, so with a gift for our anniversary, we went and got a tent and some sleeping bags and made a reservation at Eisenhower State Park on Lake Texoma near Denison, TX.

So, Saturday morning, May 1st, we woke up and started to pack up the Tribute. Note here that I was in a little bit of pain when I first woke up, but I didn't think anything of it. We were so busy that I just pushed my uncomfortable left side pain to the back of my mind. We headed out around ten, and after several stops along the way, we made it to our campsite and got all set up!
We took the dogs on a little hike. We played some games. We hung out and relaxed. And all the while, the pain in my side worsened and worsened. This picture is probably the last time I smiled the entire day. Nick made a killer dinner, and I built a fire. After dinner, we tried to relax, but I couldn't get comfortable or sit still. Nick kept asking me if I wanted to go home, and I really didn't. I just wanted to curl up in our tent with him and sleep. I finally gave in and told him that maybe I would be happier in my own bed. Then I lost my dinner in the bushes and Nick packed up our campsite in about ten minutes.
We made it to the Texoma Medical Center and checked in to the ER. After seeing the nurse and then a doctor, he decided that I had a gastrointestinal infection, gave me antibiotics, and sent me on my way. I hardly slept the entire night, and I threw up anything I put into my system.
Sunday was not much better, but by the end of the day, I thought I was getting better. I was wrong! Sleepless night #2 was just as miserable as the night before, so Monday morning, I asked Nick to come home after his morning meeting to take me back to the ER.
This time, we checked in and the nurse and the doctors were much more on top of things. They took blood, gave me some pain killers, and ordered a CAT scan. This was a totally new expereince for me, and the technician who did my scan thought he would have a little bit of fun at my expense. As he was adding iodine to my IV, he asked if I had ever had this done before. When I replied that this expereince was totally new for me, he laughed and said, "Well, you never forget your first time." Then I proceeded to look completely shocked and my face turned red as I tried to figure out whether I had actually peed my pants or not. Of course, I had not, but holy smokes! Why does it do that?
Anyway, I had a kidney stone. I was put on meds, and after another miserable day yesterday, I am much better today. This is good because today is a busy, busy day! Glad to be feeling better. I hope it continues!