Monday, December 31, 2012

Last Finish of 2012

Well, I finished the teapots.  Just needs a little sewing and it will be ready to hang!

I may be slightly addicted to free books on Kindle...

I don't have a Kindle but I DO have a Windows Phone and there is an app.  I downloaded the app so I could get this book that my ob/gyn wrote (it's quite good actually) but then I discovered this other app that tells you what the free commercial books are of the day.  I've read quite a few as it's easy to read because it's on my phone which is always on me.  I've discovered quite a few "gems."  And then there was the romance novel that I didn't realize was a romance novel until the sex scene showed up.  Eeek.  I normally don't read romances.  Not really into that.

TrailingTrailing by Kristin Louise Duncombe
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this book because it was free on Kindle.  I finished it in under two hours.  It's not my normal genre but it was very interesting and held my attention the whole way through.

The main character marries a doctor who goes over to Africa to work.  The book deals with her struggles with being isolated, the threats of violence, depression, having a child and trying to find work.  It is based on some of the experiences that the author had as a wife tons doctor in Africa which made all the events believable and real.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I really did like the storyline of this book.  It's the story of a couple with marital problems who takes in a group of three foster children right before Christmas.  We watch them dealing with the death their only child and the loss of their last foster child who was taken away by his mother.  We watch them getting attached to these new children, hoping that they won't be taken away but yet searching for the mother.

I didn't realize this was a romance novel until the first sex scene showed up halfway through the book.  Then I read excerpts from the next books in the series which I won't be reading because I really have no desire to see the grown up kids from this book having romances and sex scenes of their own.  However, all that aside, this is a very nice heartwarming story about healing and family.  You'll just have to ignore the sex scenes.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book reminded me a lot of Speak.  It's written in first person and the plot reveals itself through the character's thoughts.

Robin, the main character, wakes up to find that she has fallen off an amusement park ride and her friend who was with her, is also in a coma.  She struggles to cope with having a Traumatic Brain Injury, having issues with day to day tasks and trying to piece together what happened that fateful night.

I really did enjoy this book.  If you have read Speak and liked it, I would definitely recommend it.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was a rather wrenching story of Christi Paul and her abusive first relationship.  It really does help to open your eyes to why a woman would stay in a relationship like that.  It's very interesting at the end of the book where she works on healing herself and looking back at what went wrong.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is the story of Brynn.  Her father is killed at the very beginning and Brynn finds out that she's next so she removes her government-issues tracker and runs for it with her friend T.  As they run, Brynn learns more about herself and freedom.  In this book, I see elements of Brave New World, The Hunger Games, 1984 and The Giver.  I really enjoyed it. 

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I downloaded this for free off my Kindle app.

I don't read a lot of mysteries but this book has the feel of an old detective novel with its running monologue that often strays off topic.  There's also a list of interesting characters.  Cindy, his girlfriend, is a direct ancestor of Darwin.  Jack, a bum at McDonald's, claims to be God and does actually know some things that he shouldn't.  Sanchez, a cop, works out with Knighthorse.

Knighthorse is a private eye who used to be a fullback who missed out on the pros because of a bad leg injury.  He is hired to clean the name of a African American boy who is being charged with the murder of his girlfriend.  And then the adventure begins.

This is by far my favorite of the three books in the series although the other two are good reads as well.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is the second Jim Knighthorse book.  It has a lot of the same zany dialogue but I didn't like it quite as much.  He has a few simultaneous cases in this book but it's not difficult to follow.  Definitely worth the read though.

The main case surrounds a historian who was found dead in the desert trying to find information about a mummy that was found there many years back.  It was ruled an accident but the man who hired the historian isn't buying it.  At the same time, Cindy (Jim's girlfriend) is having issues with someone vandalizing her office and Sanchez (Jim's cop friend) is helping his son get revenge on some boys who beat him up.

And there's a surprise at the end.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This was my least favorite of the series but I still recommend it if you like the character.  It is a bit darker but it's understandable because of the revelation at the end of the last book.  Like the second book, there are several cases going on.  I think his old detective style monologue gets a bit muddled in this book.  We'll see if it comes back in book 4.

The main case is the disappearance of a man who is involved in trying to stop shark fining.  There's also a case of a flasher in a quiet, exclusive retirement community.  Finally, we have Jim looking into some recent developments on the cold case of his mother's death.  

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The description of the book that you'll read on Kindle doesn't really tell you much of anything that happens in this book.  The plot is actually quite involved.  It was a very interesting read and I'll definitely be looking for a sequel if there is one.

The book starts with the main character, Kira, going to a party and there is an explosion and all of her friends are killed.  Shortly after, she leaves to go to the "Second Chance Institute," a program for high school students that awards a full ride to the college of your choice in exchange for a year of service.  She arrives for training with Blake and discovers that this is not what she signed up for and that she is now tangled in a very bad situation.

I thought the author had a fresh concept and this definitely rides the scifi/fantasy line.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is the memoir of a mother who was forced to give up her child when she got pregnant as a teen but reconnects with her grown son.

It's really kind of heart wrenching because the son is kind of a jerk and her parents are as well but in connecting with her son, she also connects with other members of her family that she never knew.  It's well written and easy to read without becoming overbearing.

Right now, I have two that I'm working on:

Monday, December 24, 2012

2012 Year in Review

Even though it is only December 23rd, I thought I would do my year wrap up before I forget.

I had a lovely birthday yesterday (quiet and simple, but nice) but I didn't have time to blog.

We are excited as the stepdaughter is coming home for Christmas!  She was supposed to be with her mother but she has been growing apart from her mother for the past few years and really didn't want to spend the holidays there so her mother finally gave in and she won't have to be a "back and forth" child anymore. That was probably the best Christmas present her mother could have given her.

This year was a year of ups and downs, especially with the lay off in June and both of us not being able to find decent jobs.  I am still waiting on my official acceptance into the IMPACT/Masters program at UNT.

I only had four stitching goals for 2012 and I finished 3 so I have a 75% completion rating.

There was the ambitious Whitework Sampler for my in-law's 50th wedding anniversary:
And two stockings:

The one thing I didn't finish was the Pooh quilt.

I had a record number of finishes this year, probably due to the Chrismons.  Here were the cross stitch finishes:
Vino Rosso (Mill Hill Kit)
Amitea (original design)
Tree Frog Trio (Dimensions Kit)
Night Sky Sampler (original design)
Lily Pond Heirloom Quilt
Harvest Night (Mill Hill Kit)
Apple Picking (Mill Hill Kit)
Flora Frog (Mill Hill Kit)
Rip It Needlebook
And then I had some knitting finshes:
Chelsea's Hooded Scarf
Fingerless Mitt
Fingerless Glove
Oxford Mitered Scarf
Tea Cozy
Afghan Shawl
Christmas Tree
And I started designing my own stuff:

And I took my new sewing machine for a spin:

Next year, I don't think I will get much done because of grad school.  My goal is to at least finish one ornament.  We'll keep it simple.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Finally, some stitching

I finished up some loom knitting the other day just in time for Christmas.  I knitted this scarf for my stepdaughter.

I had just enough yarn.  And I mean JUST ENOUGH.  If I'd knit it any longer, I would have run out.  I think it's a couple of squares shorter than the original pattern calls for but I think it should be just long enough.  It's actually a delightful little pattern.  Once you get the gist of the pattern, you can do it with little to no counting.

In cross stitching, I've made it this far with Pooh:

I don't know how much stitching I'll get done this week.  Both girls are sick and it's made things difficult.  Zoé missed Polar Express day at school and will miss the Christmas party tomorrow.  Poor girl.  She threw up three times this morning.  Adèle actually got into the doctor today and we found out she has a sinus infection.  Zoé could not be squeezed in so she's going back tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

When Bad Christians Make Good Christians Look Bad

They're at it again.  Westboro Baptist Church has decided to picket the funerals for the children at Sandy Hook.  Don't believe me?  Here's the article.

These people aren't really "Christians" in the best sense of the word.  They believe all the deaths of our soldiers is caused by gay marriage.  Technically, all evil in the world is caused by sin but not the specific sin of gay marriage.  I believe that being gay is a sin but it's no different from any other sin that we all commit on a daily basis.  Plus, they actually like celebrate the deaths as "God's judgment."  Seriously?  That's just bad taste.  And not even in the Bible.

My husband and I shuddered to think what would have happened if Chris had been killed in Afghanistan because we would have had to deal with these "abominable Christians" yelling at how they were happy they were that he was dead.  No reference to his ultimate sacrifice.  Just us listening to those lunatics.  I wonder if the Texas police would have arrested us for assaulting them.

Sadly, we can't shut them up.  They are protected under the first amendment rights.  As are we all.   It's the price we pay sometime for freedom.

I'll say what I tweeted when I first heard about Sandy Hook:

Deliver Us From Evil

(and now I'll add "and Westboro")

Friday, December 14, 2012

Pencils, toddlers and cross stitch

Last night I decided to finally finish up "Mary's Lamb Sampler."  It was mounted and in its frame but I needed to put a backing on and a hanger for the wall.  I got that all finished and left it on the table because I couldn't find the nails to hang it on the wall.  This morning, she snuck out of the living room, grabbed a pencil and did this:

I'm totally gonna cry.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Government Handouts

I warn you, this post may get preachy so if you're not in the mood, stop reading now.

I was on Facebook the other day and I saw this letter from a doctor about a Medicaid patient who came into his ER who had lots of fancy things and smoked and he didn't think she deserved to be on Medicaid.  Snopes verifies it as true, and you can read the letter here.  Just now, I saw a thing on Facebook that talked about if you have a cell phone and cable tv and a computer and a $400 car payment and are on public assistance that you're a leech.

I think we really have to be careful about making broad generalizations and snap judgments.  There are definitely people who abuse the system but in this economy, there are plenty of people who work hard but are without a job due to lay offs.

I'm on public assistance I have a cell phone and a computer.  No cable tv but I do have internet.  No car payment either.  Does that make me a leech?  Well, I always feel slightly embarrassed if I'm holding my cell phone while I'm using my LoneStar cards.  What the people silently judging me in line don't know if that I worked for T-Mobile so I got a great price on my cell phone. When I switched off my employee rate plan, I picked the cheapest plan I could.  We don't even have data on our phones.  I run off wifi and if we're out, well, I have no data.  As for the computer, well it's a six year old Dell laptop that's had almost every single component replaced under it's 4 year extended warranty.  I'm not sure how much longer it will keep running.  Because I'll be taking online graduate courses, I'll need to get a new laptop come tax time.  But I'll probably settle for the $200 laptop I saw at Wal-Mart.  The internet is pretty much an necessity because almost everything requires that you apply online.  Plus I'll be taking online college courses here soon.

I was always taught that "if a man shall not work, neither shall he eat."  I got my first job at age 14, worked summers and breaks through high school and worked all the way through college  I'm coming up on the 6 month anniversary of my layoff on Dec 22 (which is also my birthday, happy birthday to me).  Trust me, I don't want to be on government handouts.  I would rather have a steady job with decent pay but there are none to be found.  I've been applying for teaching positions for 2 1/2 years now and haven't even received one phone call.  At the end of August, I started applying for non-teaching jobs but I haven't heard anything back on those either.  It's not that I'm not qualified.  I have over 10 years of varied work experience ranging from customer service to retail to food service and catering plus I have a college degree in education.  My husband is in the same boat but being older than me, he has it even tougher.  Wal-Mart won't even call him for an interview.

For those of you who think that governmental health care is the greatest thing since sliced bread, obviously, you've never been on it.  You're treated like scum.  Seriously.

When I first moved to TX after I got married, I got pregnant almost immediately.  I was between jobs so I went on Medicaid.  Since I had just moved here, I had no doctor.  I started calling doctors that said they took Medicaid and my conversation went something like this:
"Hi, are you taking new patients?"
"Yes, what insurance do you have?"
"Sorry, we're not taking new patients." click.

It took me a long time to find an OB/GYN and fortunately I found one that was Christian and he's a great doctor and I stayed with him even though his office was an hour drive after I got insurance.

Speaking of regular insurance vs. Medicaid, when I was having my second child, I was the only one in the maternity ward with private insurance.  How did we know?  Because my husband saw little signs that said "Medicaid" on them on the other rooms. I was also the only woman with a private room.

After I lost my job, T-Mobile was nice enough to pay two months of COBRA.  And nice that was because COBRA for my family was $1300 per month.  Definitely out of our budget.  So, we applied for Medicaid when the COBRA ran out.  The kids qualified.  We didn't.  Today, I have to take Zoé to the doctor.  I've never been to this pediatrician before.  You see, the place where I was taking her doesn't take Medicaid so I can't go to the pediatrician that we've been using for the past year and a half that we really like.  Even finding a pediatrician was a bit of an ordeal.  I'm having to do the same thing with dentists.

I should also add here that I could actually get on Medicaid.  All I have to do is get pregnant.  Kinda messed up, isn't it?

And don't even get me started on SNAP and WIC.  I only do it because I don't want my babies to starve.

The bottom line is I DON'T WANT TO BE ON PUBLIC ASSISTANCE!  I'm about to be handed a free masters degree because I'm TAA.  If I was offered a teaching job today, I would take it and walk away from the degree.  What Obama doesn't realize is that some of us DON'T WANT TO BE DEPENDENT ON THE GOVERNMENT!  I don't want bread and circuses.  It didn't work in Rome.  It won't work in the U.S.

There, I've spoken my peace.  For those of you reading this who are religious, please pray for my family.  Thanks.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

After 3 years of blogging, I finally won something...

It seems no matter what giveaway I enter, I never win anything.  Ok, I take that back.  I won a PIF like 2 years ago but never actually received the PIF.  I won and then that particular blogger dropped off the face of the earth.  Kinda disappointing.

However, this time, I actually won something.  You'll recall a few posts back, I posted about Mel's giveaway at Epic Stitching.  Well, I won it.  An HAED.  I've never stitched an HAED.  So, I went shopping yesterday.  I was originally after one of the House Mouse designs but my husband didn't like them and his opinion does count because if I'm going to work this hard on a piece, I will want to hang it on the wall and we jointly decorate the house.  So, I decided on this piece instead:

It's more appropriate to our decor anyway.  The only issue is I don't think I have any fabric that big.  Not a big deal because with graduate school looming, I don't see much stitching in the near future.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Stitchy Planning and WIPs

So, if you read my first guest blog post on Stitching the Night Away (if you didn't, you can read it here), you would know that the I proposed taking an inventory of all stitching supplies.  And then, I proposed making a list of all the pieces that you wanted to stitch.  Well, I am proud to say that I have finally finished my list.  I had to redo my fabric because I had used some and then got some new fabric and hadn't updated anything.

Longer followers of my blog might recall that I wanted to make ornaments for each year of my daughters' lives and also make a box and then they got the box and ornaments at age 18.  Well, I started planning that as well.  I also decided to do a box for my stepdaughter which will take a lot more time since I have to catch up on 15 years of Christmases.  She and her brothers are really a part of our family and they have pretty much disowned their biological mother so it was the least I could do.  I think I have picked out a variety of different kinds that she should like.

If I haven't mentioned it, I'm trying to go back to college next year.  My stitching and blogging time will be greatly depreciated as I will be taking 9 credits of graduate courses every term.  I figure the ornaments aren't such a bad thing to shoot for as they are smaller and only take a few hours to stitch most of the time.

I am almost done with the teapot sampler.  Just two squares to go.  I also started this ornament:
It's going to be Adèle's ornament for this year.

Tonight I'm going to be singing in the chorus for Part I of The Messiah!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Blog Hop #13 Stitchmas Wish

The holidays are right around the corner and gift exchanges are happening everywhere you look. If an amazingly magical Stitchmas Santa were to fly overhead and bring you one stitching wish, what would it be?

I'll be honest.  Christmas is going to be very lean this year.  With both of us unemployed, I have no extra money for Christmas gifts.  My little girls are going to have to go without presents from us.  If they get anything, it will be from relatives.  I don't expect to be stitching much next year anyway with me starting the masters program.  I would rather get something for them than for me.

The one piece I would really like to do is this piece:

I found this pattern at SCRAP and I really want to do it for the girls' room but I don't have the Balger threads or Marlitt.  I think there's some kind of ribbon floss too.  Actually, I'm not even sure what Marlitt is.  Plus, I would want to stitch it on White Monaco and I only have Antique White in my stash.  So, my wish would be to get the materials necessary to stitch it.

And after reading the pattern, I discovered that it was for 18 ct Aida and it was Medicis floss. Hence the correction.  Medicis is discontinued and can be substituted with DMC.  It still requires 9 colors of Balger and 2 colors of 1/16" metallic ribbon which I can't afford.

Visit all the blogs in this round of the Stitching the Night Away Stitching Blogger Blog Hop:
Find the instructions on how to participate in this round by clicking here.

Friday, November 30, 2012

My Baby Turned 3...

Today was Zoé's third birthday.  We spent the day watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (her favorite).  I decorated the cake like Tootles.  She liked her presents too.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Right to Celebrate Christmas, an essay

Today, I want to take a moment to talk about something that's been on my mind for awhile.  And that is the right to celebrate the holidays your way.

My thoughts on this subject go back to when I was working at T-Mobile.  We had a very nice lobby in the call center and they always put up a huge Christmas tree and also an electric menorah and the Kwanzaa candelabra thing (sorry, don't know the name).  I always thought it was nice until one day I was sitting there waiting for my husband to pick me up and I realized that all the ornaments on the tree were just generic colored balls.  At that moment, I realized that I really couldn't say that my religion (Christian) was being represented in this lobby.  The tree was clearly a secular Christmas tree, the menorah was Jewish and the Kwanzaa candelabra...well, I'll be honest that I don't know a lot about that holiday except that it's African American.  There were no crosses, no mangers, no nativities, no doves, no wise men....absolutely nothing that represented the actual Christian Christmas.  I thought about complaining to HR but I didn't.  Mostly because I didn't think they'd do anything anyway.

On Facebook and in emails this time of year, you'll see Ben Stein's Christmas confession.  Most of it is actually true.  You can read what he actually said here.  The gist of his confession is that even though he's Jewish, he doesn't feel threatened by Christmas trees or anything having to do with Christian Christmas.  I share his sentiment.  I think you should be able to celebrate "the holidays" any way that you want (as long as it's legal).  I have a blogging friend who's a Hellenistic pagan.  She celebrates Solstice.  That's perfectly fine.  That doesn't offend me.  She made a wonderful "countdown to Christmas" for her son.  Isabella on Phineas and Ferb being Jewish and celebrating Hanukkah doesn't offend me.  Being totally into Santa Claus doesn't offend me.

What really offends me is when I get the gist that I'm not allowed to display my faith and my views on Christmas.  Our Constitution gives us the right to "freedom of religion" and not "freedom from religion."  It's a wonderful thing.  We all have the right to worship however we choose.   We do not, however, have the right to force people to worship in a specific way or to impose our beliefs on others.

In the past fifteen or so years, I've noticed a trend of Christian beliefs getting stomped on.  It makes me mad.  I have the right to put a giant light up nativity in my front yard.  My neighbor has the same right to put up a giant David's star and menorah or a pentacle or fill the yard with Santas.  We can all celebrate the holidays our own way.  I can tell you to have a "Blessed Christmas" and you can tell me to have a "Happy Solstice."  I find it interesting that the same people who preach "tolerance" won't tolerate my beliefs.  Apparently, tolerance only applies when it's something that they believe in.  My beliefs don't count.

On a slightly related tangent, I think sometimes Christians go too far the other way and banish anything secular from their house.  I think there's a place for both.  I put only Christian ornaments on the tree but I didn't burn my secular ornaments.  Our plan is to get two smaller trees and when we have more room, to put them up and put the secular stuff on that.  I am making my daughters ornaments each year.  This year I'm making Zoé a Mickey Mouse and Adèle a Pooh.  I think you can have fun with the different ornaments as long as you don't lose sight of Jesus as the reason for the season.  I'm not pushing Santa Claus on them either.  It's a balancing act, just like everything else.

In conclusion, this is America.  Let's enjoy our freedom to celebrate the holidays whether you celebrate Christmas, Solstice, Hanukkah  Kwanzaa or nothing at all.  Let's just do it without stomping on other people.

Teapot progress

I stitched both the November and December teapots.

So here's what the banner looks like so far.  I just have to stitch the March teapot and the corner pieces.

We also hung up the stockings today.  We don't have a fireplace in this house (which is better because of the kids and it seems to help with the utility bill) so they're just on the wall.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

More Chrismons and a Christmas Tree

So, I'm mostly finished with my Chrismons.  Here they are:

Celtic Cross, the circle represents eternity

Baptism Shell

Four Corners Cross, representing the spread of the Gospel to the four corners of the world

IHS, the first three letters of Jesus

Noah's Ark, representing God's promise to never again flood the globe
Lamp, representing God's Word as a lamp (see Psalm 119)
Creator Star, representing the 6 days of creation, aka David's Star
Crown of Thorns, representing Jesus' suffering
I also put the tree up, and as promised, here are some pictures: