Category Archives: My Little Kiki

Book Review ~ My thoughts on ‘The Hunger Games’ by Suzanne Collins

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The short review:  Did I like this book?  Meh.

                                             Will I let Kiki read it?  Yeah.

The long review:

So, I read the book. I tried really hard to read it with an open mind (because to be honest, I hated it before I ever started it. The whole premise of the story is just something I didn’t care to read.) I found that it was a good story in that it sucks you in… you find yourself interested in the characters, you want to know how it works out. So in that respect, I guess I can understand why it’s a popular book.

However. Technically speaking, I think it’s a very poorly written book. Did this author never take a grammar class?  Did she take one but fail miserably?? She doesn’t seem to be able to write a decent sentence; they are either 27 word run-on sentences, or mostly, they are fragments. Oh dear me the fragments!!  I would say they account for about 80% of the book, and that drove me absolutely crazy! Now, I don’t mind a fragment or two, heaven knows I use them a lot here in my blog… but, well, it’s a blog… not a novel. I wouldn’t even mind a few in a book,; sometimes they just work – but she takes it to ridiculous extremes. Urgh.

Then there is the main character, Katniss.  I don’t really like her.  She’s sort of – emotionless in a way, I guess. Clueless.  I can understand why I suppose, but that doesn’t make me like her any more. And tho none of the characters are really fully developed, she just seems really flat.

Another issue I have is that there is not nearly enough background to the story, and there are things that happen that don’t make sense – things that couldn’t happen. Things that simply wouldn’t work.  Like little silver parachutes falling at just the correct moment.  Uh-huh. Explanation, please, on the timing of those?

I suppose that much of what bothers me is completely overlooked by the young kids who read this, and after all, they are the target audience… not middle-aged moms. I asked my daughter, and the things that annoy me about this book, she didn’t even notice until I brought it up, and even after I pointed these out to my daughter, they don’t bother her. I also spoke to 3 teen girls who have read this book, and they all think the main character is this awesome, brave, strong girl. As I said, I am not the target audience, and I suppose Suzanne Collins must be quite thankful for that!

As for letting my daughter read it, I decided that it would be alright. Though it’s full of killing, it’s not gratuitous. There are lessons to be learned, like not letting governments get out of control… or that whole “when good people do nothing” business and all that. There’s no sex, and to a parent of a teen, that’s good! There really isn’t much of a love story even… very mild.

I don’t know if I will read the rest of the series. On one hand, I kind of want to see it through to the end. On the other hand I’m not sure it’s worth the time and effort – after all, there are so many good books out there to read!

Parenting is painful if you want to do it right

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I. Am. Going. Insane. 

Kiki wants to read “The Hunger Games”.  Any book she wants read, I read first, to make sure it’s acceptable and appropriate.  Generally, I don’t mind this.  I love reading, and usually we like the same… genre?… I guess.  I have had no desire at all to read this set of books (there are 3 in the series). One of my nieces read them, and I had checked into them a bit back then – the storyline is nothing I am interested in at all. 

In case you haven’t heard of this book – although how could you not, since it’s being turned into a movie as we speak! – the premise is some post-apocolyptic America where every year 20-some teens have to participate in a televised fight-to-the-death forced on them by the government because of some long past rebellion.  Yeah. Yee-haw for fun reading, right?!

Kiki’s never been one for doing something because everyone else is, (she didn’t get into Harry Potter or Twilight at all)  but for some reason she is really interested in this book series.  Well, today Alan went to the library for a book he wanted so he looked for the first book for me – yeah, there are like 200 people on the waiting list!  So, this afternoon I was at Target, and they had the paperback on sale so I bought it.  So far I have read just 9 pages and I hate this book.  Even if I look past the whole stupid storyline of the book, I really dislike the main character so far.  She’s…. heartless.   Despises her mother, tried to drown a cat, killed a lynx who befriended her (she “almost regretted it”). 

Here’s my deal:  Life is hard. Sometimes, life sucks. If I am going to invest my precious spare time reading a story, I want it to be NOT life -ie: uplifting, hopeful, happy. I am pretty sure this is not that kind of story!

I am going to read this book.  I really don’t want to.  But, I will. And then I will tell Kiki she can’t read them.  HA!!

I can do that, ’cause I’m the mom.

I’m about ready to throw in the homeschooling towel

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I am so not kidding.  Kiki and I have been traveling this road since 1st grade, and for the most part it’s been a good experience. 3rd grade was hard; there was more than one day that books sailed thru the air (that was Kiki – I didn’t throw books!!) I did think of throwing her out the window a time or twenty… then I found ‘bribery’ and school days took a big turn for the better!  Yep – I remembered her PreK and Kindergarten teachers had “prize boxes” for good behavior, and I thought “Hey!  Why can’t I make that work for me?!”  hehehe 

Well, now she’s in 8th grade.  Every day is a fight, and I am running out of steam.  She is totally non-self-starting, even though all the other moms and teachers tell me it’s time to make her do it mostly on her own… yeah.  Right.  She’d be getting straight F’s in that case.  I think I’ve written here that we don’t do a “normal” homeschool… we do a co-op where there are teachers who provide the curriculum and lesson plans, who teach it on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and we do school at home M-W-F.  That’s part of the problem, really.  When we started this group, it was more loosely organized, and we had most of the flexibility of regular homeschooling, plus the benefits of our kids spending some time in a school with other teachers and other kids.  Over the years, however, the school has morphed many times (we are on our 5th principal in the 8 years time we’ve been there) and now it’s really become “private-school-that-we-have-to-do-3-days-a-week-at-home.”  There is no real flexibility in what we as parents want to do or not do with the curriculum, we have to have pre-planned abscences and are only allowed a certain amount, on and on… you know, regular school stuff, but not really regular homeschool stuff. 

Kiki is also quite unhappy in school this year.  Sure, most of it is bad attitude because her best friends didn’t come back to the school this year and she doesn’t want to be there without them – even tho there are other kids she can hang with, and it’s only 2 days a week –  but on the other hand, she has one girl in particular who picks on her almost every day for how she’s dressed or how her hair is done or whatever pops into her head, I guess.  That isn’t cool.

The outcome is that each and every day we do school here at home, it’s a big fight.  She hates it, she doesn’t get it, she doesn’t want to go to school there…   And on classroom days, she cries and doesn’t want to go…. uhg.  I am so, so done with it all!

The problem is, I don’t really know where to go from here.  Public school?  Not in this lifetime.  Private school?  No way I can afford it. Regular homeschooling?  Yeah, we tried that in Virginia.  We basically didn’t do school for a year, so that won’t work.

 What I really need is a vacation.  All alone.  Somewhere warm and ocean-y.  With alchoholic beverages. For a long, long time.

 

If flute lessons don’t kill me, parenting a teen probably will

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Constant drama.  Lord, how tired of it I am! I am way too old to put up with this silliness, honestly.  A whole lot of it is just  ridiculous, you know?  The stuff that, at 50, you know doesn’t really matter.  However, the latest trauma happened just yesterday, and it’s a little harder to deal with – a school friend asked to hang out with her,  then later told Kiki that her mom said “no”  because the mom (a teacher at the school) doesn’t like her daughter to hang out with mine because mine is too “crazy” and she doesn’t like how her daughter behaves around mine.  Wow.  Wow.  How do you react to that?  Seriously?!  I mean, yeah, Kiki is crazy – in a fun, laughable way.  Yes, she’s goofy and somewhat annoying I suppose, if you’re not into fun.  She’s a great, sweet, reasonably well-behaved kid.  This just blows me away.  Or, not really, when I consider the source.  This mom – this teacher – is someone who seems about as un-fun as they come.  We have been in the same, tiny little school for the whole 8 years, and she still barely acknowledges me when I walk by.  She’s never been Kiki’s teacher (she teaches high school math) but still… my kid has never been in any kind of trouble at the school – or anywhere (besides home!).  I can’t believe she wouldn’t allow her kid to hang with mine.  Could the story have not been taken quite straight? I know kids have a way of misunderstanding – or not really listening – when we talk with them.  This friend of Kiki’s has gotten into a little trouble (very minor) hanging out with other kids at the school after hours… could that have been the intent?  Kiki swears her friend said this, word for word.  She’s upset, of course.  So what do I do?  Do I talk to the mom?  (Please say no.  I am kind of afraid of her!) Do we just let it go?

I really miss the toddler days, when I could fix any problem she had with a band-aid, a needle and thread, or a kiss.  sigh

Will flute lessons be the death of me?

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Urgh.  Today is Kiki’s first flute lesson.  The problem?  I forgot to buy her lesson book.  I have this really bad issue lately of not being able to plan ahead at all.  I am barely capable of taking one day at a time.  Now, “one day at a time” might be a good mantra for dealing with the emotional stress of life, but it doesn’t work very well for getting things done

The dang flute has already cost me the better part of an entire month’s pay.  Granted, I work 10 hours a week, so I don’t exactly rake in the big bucks, but still, it’s all I have for any extras.  As you can imagine, “extras” this month have been slim to none.  I am already going to have to ask my mom if she’ll pay the whole lesson fee this month because I can’t afford my agreed-upon half.  Then the teacher emailed me the name of the lesson book Kiki will need.  Crap.  Of course she’ll need a book; I would’ve known that if I’d thought about it… but I didn’t.  Think.  Well, the teacher said they carry them at the same place we had the flute repaired, so since I waited to the last minute I made this great plan – swing by the music store on the way to lessons, no big deal.  And it is almost “on the way”.  The wrench in this “well thought out” plan?   The music store is open Tuesday thru Saturday.  This is Monday.  Crap.  So I’m looking in the phone book for any other near-by music store, and I find one that is as close to “on the way” as the other – yay!  Except when I call, they don’t have the book I need.  Crap. I make other calls, and I finally find the book – all the way across town.  Well, all the way across the next town over…  and Alan has given me strict instructions not to drive any extra miles for the next week and a half because we are broke broke broke.  And my car is a gas hog. Crap.

She has to have the book.  I am going to have to drive across town to get it.  Across two towns.  If I was lucky – and clearly, I am not  – Scott would be at work and he’d be none the wiser.  But no.  Of course this is his day off.  I hope he doesn’t ask too many questions… I am not going to offer up any more explanations than he directly asks for!

Ah, dang…. did I blow it again?

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Yeah.  So, I did this fabulous thing.  I’ve really been wanting Kiki to learn to play an instrument.  One of the downsides to homeschooling is that you don’t have the stuff that public schools offer, like band, and choir, and drama… anything you want your kid to learn or be involved in you have to – A) find it & B) pay for it.  We did piano lessons for about 6 months, but her teacher was a college student and moved back to Colorado when school was out, so that was the end of that.  Besides, we were using a ‘borrowed’ piano and had to give it back when we moved.

Recently Kiki decided she’d like to try the flute.  Which I thought was a great idea because “YAY” we could get a free flute!  See, Alan’s brother played the flute in high school, and his mom still has his old flute, which is supposedly a good one – a “step up” from a student flute, all sterling silver, etc.  It came in the mail today, and we were soooo excited!  I have already contacted a teacher, asked my mom if she’d pay half the lesson costs, etc.  Awesome, right?  Well, maybe not so much. 

Here’s the problem. This flute is like, what, 35 years old?  So, it’s going to need some refurbishing, 0r whatever it is they do to flutes.  I have no clue – in fact, when I called the music shop (recommended by the teacher) to ask about getting it ‘up to snuff’ I couldn’t even answer his questions because I don’t know jack-diddly-squat about flutes.  Or music.  Or doing smart stuff.  Apparently. 

 I did a little research on the internet (after the fact, of course!) and found out that it can cost between $200.00 and $600.00 to get a flute all… I dunno,“whatever-ed”.  Not such a “free” flute.  Of course, the flute itself is supposedly worth more that that… but, I am poor which was the whole “yay” part of that free-flute-deal.

Sigh.  I am taking it in to let the repair guys see it tomorrow.  I’ll let you know if flute lessons are really going to happen or if I’m gonna have to get a second job first!

Getting ready for a pirate (of the Caribbean) party! Awesome pirate flag/jolly roger cake

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Kiki’s birthday is Sunday, and since her current obsession is Pirates of the Caribbean (or, more specifically, Jack Sparrow and Will Turner!) that is her party theme.

I really needed to not spend as much money on her party as I have in the past, (I tend to go a little crazy) so we scoured thrift stores and discount places for the things we needed… and did we luck out!  We found all kinds of stuff that looks like treasure and other piratey things.  Then we happened to have some other stuff in the storage unit (like dress-up jewelry) that we were actually able to find…  I am going to make a pirate sail, – a Black Pearl sail, of course!  – and if you can believe it, I actually found a black sheet at the thrift store!  How likely is that to happen??

So, the table is set…

(ignore the rubber bands on the top of the candleabra… I’m trying to ‘tweak’ it a bit…)

Then there is the cake.  It rocks!!  I did an amazing job, if I do say so myself. 🙂

I went the lazy route and used a (modified) cake mix, so of course it wanted to fall apart… unlike a good scratch-made cake… oh well. It worked.

Here was my inspiration ~

So I covered the cake first with buttercream icing:

Then fondant ~

added the details ~

put silver lustre dust on the coins ~

Pretty awesome, huh??!

Musings and mutterings… and fry sauce

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Having spent so much time sick and laying around, I’ve had a lot of time to think.  This isn’t always a good thing, depending on what sort of direction my thoughts take.  But I’ve had good and bad.  I’ve been thinking how weird it is that I am at the same time happy and content and yet depressed and stressed.  Okay, I’m not really depressed – been there, done that – this is more, uhm, feeling blue I guess.  A little down. 

Part of it is probably being sick.  It’s been more than a month and I am still just utterly exhausted.  I don’t feel up to doing much of anything (and haven’t been doing, at all). I did strip the paint off of a vintage vanity I am going to repaint and sell… but now it’s just sitting there… waiting…      Mostly I’ve been reading.  I am reading the “Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency” series.  I love them; light reading, fun, and gives a little insight to life in another country.  I feel guilty, though, since my parents are 80 now and do so much more than I do – especially my mom, who is like the energizer bunny.  My sister and I inherited absolutely NONE of that trait from her – how is that possible??

This week Kiki has been in theatre camp.  She got a pretty big part (the Wicked Witch; they are doing Wizard of Oz) and last night was the first show.  I was really proud of her, as she remembered all her lines and was one of the few who I thought really “acted” as opposed to just saying their lines… she was good!  The only part she needs to do better is her one solo song – she sings beautifully, but waaaay too quietly for “theater”….  couldn’t hardly hear her.  She has two more shows today; we will see if she can pull off a bit more volume.  In dress rehearsal, Dorothy hit her in the forehead with the heavy wooden bucket while she was pretending to douse her with water, so she has a big ol’ lump on her forehead.  At last night’s performance (not yet knowing about the bucket incident) I thought they’d given her a “wart” on her forehead, lol!  Kiki was not amused.  She’s pretty nervous today even though last night went so well.

I think – okay, I know – I am really stressed about my life.  We have now lived with my parents for a year.  (we had figured 3 months, 6 months tops) That is insanity waiting to happen, don’t you think?! I NEED my own home, and now. Yet I don’t see that happening for… ikes, I don’t know.  As I am tottering on the brink of becoming 50 years old, I wonder if I have ever accomplished anything in this life that counts. 

It seems strange to be on both sides of the fence at the same time…. how is that even possible?  Happy and sad?  Fine yet completely discontent?  Maybe I am just coming unhinged and don’t know if I’m coming or going… that is totally possible.

Then there is the weight loss.  I have now lost 50 pounds.  You’d think that’d be a good thing, and it is.  Yet, when you have as much to lose as I do, it’s a drop in the bucket… I mean, to lose that much poundage and still be obese is just wrong, y’ know?  I feel great that I’ve lost all that weight, yet I look at myself and think “crud….still fat”.  I am not exaggerating… I still can’t buy clothes in the regular section of a store – yesterday found me at Lane Bryant once again.  There is a list of reasons I hate having to shop there; not the least of which is that it is too freakin’ expensive.  A regular old shirt is like $50.!  Stupid. I bought 2 things off the super-marked-down rack, and only because I was told I have to wear nicer tops to work… boss doesn’t like my t-shirts, I guess.  Sheesh.  It’s hard to find fat-lady clothes that don’t scream “look at me, I’m fat”… “and old”.   In my opinion.  I have to keep telling myself “I am 1/3 of the way there”… and when I put on last summer’s shorts and they practically fell off… well, that was a happy moment!

I wish at some point in my life I had done something…. big.  Run off to Paris.  Had a wild fling.  Joined the foreign legion.  I don’t know.  Something… interesting.  I’m too much of a goody-goody girl.  It’s buried so deep in my DNA that I will probably never do anything like that.

Fry sauce.  I love fry sauce.  I’d nearly forgotten, being over in Virginia where they’ve never heard of it.  Then being on a diet where french fries are kind of a thing of the past.  But!  Yesterday after the play, Kiki wanted a milkshake.  We drove thru a little local joint we’d never been to before (the theater is on the opposite end of town from where we normally are) and not only did we get milkshakes (hers, Oreo; mine, chocolate-peanut butter; YUM!) but we decided we’d also share some fries, and the girl asked if we wanted fry sauce – heck yeah!!  SO-STINKIN’-GOOD!!  happy happy happy

It’s finally summer!

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Officially, it’s the second day of summer. To me, it was the first.  I actually left the house to DO something today, pneumonia or no.  Because I am tired of being in the house.  Okay, that and I had agreed weeks ago to take Kiki to meet a pack of other teenie-girls at the local … well, the local… huh.  I don’t know what you call it…. amusement emporium?  Play place?  Fun zone?   It’s a place with lazer tag, mini-golf, bumper cars, bumper boats, arcade… that sort of deal.  I would have put it off but she’s got a friend visiting from out of state who won’t be here much longer, and the get together was sort of for her, so it couldn’t be put off.  My big deal was to drive there (under 10 minutes from our house) and then I sat in a chair the whole time her pack ran feral and invaded the space.  Then I drove home.  And this is sooooo dumb – by the time we got back, I was absolutely exhausted and had to go to bed.  This pneumonia is really kicking my butt!  But I will prevail; yes, I will prevail.  You wait and see!

She might look like an angel…

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… but actually, she’s a teenager. 

 Good grief, what a morning we’ve had.  When she gets stressed, she yells – usually at me.  Because I am generally the one around, I suppose.  I’ll be glad when school is over for the season.  Then I think we’ll spend the summer teaching her to clean and do her laundry because I am tired of doing it all.  My own fault – I should have started making her do this stuff a long time ago, but I have a tendency to prefer to do it myself because 1) it gets done correctly and I’m picky 2) I don’t like arguing with her, and making her do stuff tends to cause arguements 3) I don’t do my “chores” often enough so I’m usually in a big hurry to get it done and don’t have the time to show her things.  Ugh.

She’s a pretty dang good kid for a teenager, honestly.  But, still.  There is just something about that time of life, huh?  The condition of her hair was making her life absolutely tragic this morning.  I never realized that as a parent you totally have to relive that stupidness.  sigh