Friday, July 22, 2011

The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady

I am not really sure how to categorize this book. I guess it is realistic fiction although I don't think it would ever really happen.

Chris saw this book in the featured book section at the library and said it looked like a book I would read. I went back a few weeks later to get it and wasn't sure at all what to expect. I didn't even read the book cover.

Marylou is 77 years old and and in the fifties was given a radioactive cocktail while she was pregnant as part of a study. The cocktail was eventually blamed for the death of her daughter years later. Now it is 50 years later and Marylou is seeking revenge so she tracks down the doctor in charge of the study and moves into his neighborhood with the intent to kill him. But it doesn't exactly go as planned. The doctor now has a form of dementia and she wants he to know why she is killing him.

Each chapter is devoted to a different member of the doctor's family. I didn't quite expect that. But I ended up liking it. The family seemed like a typical family that looks perfect from the outside but had some big issues.

Adult topics are covered. Not RS book club recommended.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


The morning we visited Monticello we also visited James Madison's house Montpelier which is in Virginia. Because it has really only looked like this for three years, it is very sparse inside. They are still looking for some of Madison's furniture or similar things to fill the house with. And you can imagine that those things would be expensive. 

I find it interesting that Monticello actually has some art that was originally James Madison's while Montpelier actually has the copies. I think they should probably give those back, but I guess Monticello wouldn't like to lose it.

After Madison died, his stepson basically lost the house. It was went through a few hand before ending up in the DuPont family. They had several additions to the house and added some pink stucco. When the last DuPont died in 1983, she gave it to National Trust for Historic Preservation. The must have toured it like this for while before they decided they could take the stucco off and took off the additions. 

It almost doesn't look like the same house. I would love to go back in a few years to see what they have added. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

John Adams

This was my first installment of presidential biographies. I decided not to do them in order because 1) I was already reading this book when I made the decision 2) I don't want to be constrained by something as silly as chronology.

I don't have a very high opinion of politicians. I think most of them are liars and fakes. I tired to believe that there can be good politicians, but I don't feel like I have met one yet. (My sample size is very small.)

But I like John Adams. Maybe because during his time he wasn't so much a politician as he was a diplomat. But from what other people wrote about him, I don't get the feeling that he was fake. There were several people who wrote about his flaws, but praise him for his convictions and patriotism. They were aware he wasn't perfect and so was he.

As someone who has trouble reading non-fiction books, I thought this book was well-written. It was able to hold my attention and almost read like a story. I could have done with a more condensed biography of John Adams, but David McCullough is a good author.

I loved the letters between John and Abigail Adams. They spent so much apart and wrote hundreds of letters. He is also one of the Founding Fathers who never owned slaves. The only time John and Abigail had a slave working in their house was when Thomas Jefferson's daughter came to stay with them awhile and brought her own slave.

I marked two of my favorite quotes by John Adams.

Public business, my son, must always be done by somebody. It will be done by somebody or other. If wise men decline it, others will not; if honest men refuse it; others will not... Integrity should be preserved in all events, as essential to his happiness, though every stage of his existence... My advice to my children is to maintain an independent character.

And when he was praised for the accomplisments of his son John Quincy Adams, who was also elected president, he said, "My son had a mother!"

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Get Down On Tuesday

1. I am half way finished with summer school. With the students I was blessed with the last 6 days, I don't think I want to teach summer school next year.

2. I got told I looked like I was pregnant yesterday by a student. (Why wouldn't I want to teach summer school?) Needless to say, I made sure I worked out last night.

3. I don't look pregnant. I went to the bathroom and checked. I think he was just being rude. But I did let him know that he would need to learn how to charm women if he ever wanted a girlfriend.

4. I am going to read the biographies of the presidents. I already finished one, John Adams. It was 650 pages long. I told myself I would try to get shorter ones in the future. So I got FDR which is 630 pages.

5. I am going to groom one of our children (son or daughter) to be President of the United States. You can blame a combination of visiting DC, reading the John Adams biography, and re-watching The West Wing for that.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Rain Rain

One of my favorite things about Texas is the summer thunderstorms. For those living in Texas, you know that we haven't had those in a while. Well, one here and there. But not enough to make me happy. Or anyone else. 

This drought has taken its toll on some stuff. 

This is the pond in Chris's parent's backyard. From the picture you can't really tell, but it is probably about 10 feet deep. 

I saw this pond early this week. It has dried up so much that the fish don't have enough room to swim. Can you see the dead fish floating?

While I don't think this drought is very cool, I do find it interesting. And it is something I can use when we talk about ecosystems in science this year. For that I am excited to draw on something the kids have experience with.

There is supposed to be a rain in about a week. But I think the weather people just say that to make people feel better. It always gets pushed back.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Antietam Battlefield

We saw a few battlefields on the trip. This one is Antietam which is in Maryland. 

Side note: I love Maryland and the east coast. It is near the ocean, it is beautiful, and there are fireflies. Even this battle field is gorgeous. However, it wasn't always. 

The Battle of Antietam was the bloodiest day in the Civil War. There were 23,000 casualties. It is still the bloodiest day for Americans. 

This battle was almost a fluke. Lee's battle plans were found lying on the ground and found by a union soldier who passed it up to his supervisor and eventually it got to General McClellan. Who actually moved forward to fight! (There might be a post on him later. Not exactly the greatest guy in history.)

If I remember correctly, both the Confederate and Union lost five generals. The battle could not be declared a win on either side. 

So while this battlefield is gorgeous today, you have to try to imagine it covered with soldiers. Some still fighting and some wounded and dead on the ground. It was in September so the corn was high.

During the civil war, photography was a new technology. After the war, photographers took pictures of the battlefield. There were still soldiers on the battlefield who had died. Thankfully today that practice didn't stick around.

If you are at all interested in knowing more, check out wikipedia. There is much more on this battle then I remember.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Where Am I?

In line. For my first midnight showing of Harry Potter. Can you believe that? It is actually the first time I am watching a Harry Potter movie on opening night. I usually procrastinate buying the movie tickets and  miss out on it. But not tonight.

This is also my first midnight showing since X-Men 3. That was in college. I am not in college anymore. But I don't think I'll have a problem staying awake.

And I am not too old to like Harry Potter. He has been a part of me for more than 10 years.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


The saddest part of my trip, besides being apart from Chris, was only being in DC for one day. I've only ever been to DC for one day at a time and would really love to spend multiple days in a row there.

We hit some Smithsonian Museums. I loved the Museum of American History and the Museum of Natural History. A little something for the history and science teacher in me.

These are some pictures I took with my class still in mind. This would be my class from last year because I know they would have loved to see this stuff. And I can only hope that the incoming 4th graders aren't too much different and will also love it.

I've said before that my students were obsessed with how people in history died. And John Wilkes Booth.

This is the hat that Lincoln was wearing the night he went to Ford's theater the night he was assassinated.  The hat is cast in bronze, I believe. 

This is a reward poster for the capture of John Wilkes Booth. I wonder if I can find the actual poster replica. 

And the real Ford's theater. We walked by it after it was closed so I didn't get to see inside. (Next time, along with everything else I need to do there.) I would love to compare this to a photo taken closer to Lincoln's time. 

And finally, there was so much in the Museum of Natural History. I wish I had more time to explore it. I got lots of ideas for science this year. Can you find the bugs in this picture?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


I finished another non-fiction book. And I did it in less than a day! 

It was hilarious. I laughed out loud on several parts. I loved Tina Fey before and I love her even more now. It makes me want to re-watch all of 30 Rock. Which is what I am doing. 

Here are some good quotes from the book.

Why could I never remember? That feeling of “I’m pretty sure this next step is wrong, but I’m just gonna do it anyway” is part of the same set of instincts that makes me such a great cook.

I had definitely never heard of anyone peeing in a cup and leaving it in their own office on a bookshelf to evaporate and be absorbed back into their body through the pores on their face.

In September, my daughter was born. (For the record: epidural, vaginal delivery, did not poop on the table.)

(About 30 RockWe premiered on Wednesday, October 11, 2006, at 8:00 P.M. and we were an instant hit—like figs for dessert or bringing your guitar out at a party. We were New Coke! We were not a hit. But we barreled ahead knowing that we’d at least come out of this with DVDs to show our friends.

I need to take my pants off as soon as I get home. I didn’t used to have to do that. But now I do. (I am 25 and I totally do this.)

You'll have the read the rest of the book to get the other good stuff. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

It's Kind of a Funny Story

Chris and I went to the driving range on Friday night. We got there right at 7:30, which was when they stop filling buckets. We were the only ones there and they were closing soon. Although, I know that people are still on the golf course until at least 8:30 because I went golfing with my dad last week and we were there until 8:30.

Basically I wasn't too worried of getting shooed off the course.

Chris hasn't been golfing since Christmas. So I think he was having a great time. He said he was off a bit but then he found his game.

And then some sprinklers came on. It was before 8 and it kind of stunk. We were in their path but quickly moved down.

I looked for more sprinkler head things and made sure that I could run away if they turned on. Chris moved right in front of the sprinkler head thing. This is what I said.

"Chris, if that sprinkler turns on, it is going to get you." I don't remember his response.

Well, what do you think happened? Luckily for all of you, I have a picture.

Not a real one, Chris wouldn't let me take one. As a concerned, caring wife, I immediately started laughing. If you can't tell, that is the sprinkler turned in such a way that the water hits him in the middle of his body. So yes, I was laughing. He had 3 seconds to react from when the other sprinklers turned off and the new ones turned on.

To be fair, about 5 minutes before Chris had said he was done and I made him stay. So it is all my fault. But it was worth it.

I think Chris can laugh about it now. He was pretty unhappy.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Harry Potter Yo' Momma

Who isn't super excited for Harry Potter next week?

Chris/Megan showed me this a few weeks ago and it is hilarious.

Friday, July 8, 2011


Back to my trip. I have a stack of postcards over an inch high from all the places that we went. I think this was one of my favorite places we went. We had walked through a few historic houses before and some of them weren't so amazing; I kept my expectations low. But even if I had high expectations I would have loved it. Now get ready for a history lesson. 


Monticello is the house that Thomas Jefferson designed, built and lived in. It is on the top of a mountain that he visited often when he was a child. When he was married, he and his wife lived in little Monticello which was a small house while Thomas Jefferson built the real one. He said that he loved tearing things down and building up again. The house was constantly under construction. 

Jefferson never had formal architecture training. He learned it from books. And he had some unusual viewpoints. LIke he didn't think stairs should be the main point of the house. So this house has two very narrow and very steep stairs that seem to be hidden. 

The thing I like most about Thomas Jefferson is that he had so many interests and pursued all of them. The house is full of inventions by him. And the grounds are full of his hobbies. (Of course he had about 200 slaves to help him pursue all his interests.)

My favorite part of the grounds was the garden. It was huge. I would say at least 2 or 3 football fields long. The garden is still kept today and has every single type of vegetable and herb you can think of is planted there. 

Thomas Jefferson and most of his family is buried on the grounds. The cemetery is still used today and descendants can still be buried there. He wrote the words on the tombstone which shows us what he felt his most important accomplishments are. "Author of the Declaration of American Independence, of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom and the Father of University of Virginia."

You can see the University of Virginia from the top of Monticello. Jefferson wanted to be known as the "father" and not the "founder" because he was so involved and really put his all into the design and set up of the school. 

Jefferson and his wife were only married for 10 years before she died; he never remarried. And only one of his children lived to adulthood. He also only bought a handful of slaves in his lifetime. Most of them he inherited from his father and father-in-law. When he bought slaves it was to complete a family or because he needed a specific trade done at Monticello. It was a place that was mostly self-sufficient. However, Jefferson did eventually go into debt because he bought so many books.  

And finally, Jefferson argued for the elimination of slavery, but only freed a handful of slaves in his lifetime. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Chris and I

This is what Chris and I do.

Except we do it to the side of the bed and it is a two person gig. One person holds the hand of the other while we lean over the bed to get something just out of reach.

It does seem silly when the thing is literally 2 feet away.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Jasper Fforde and YAF

I love Jasper Fforde. I really wish that he would write more books. So, I loved this book. It is in the top 5 of the books I have read this year. I love all the different characters. And since it takes place inside BookWorld (where characters act out the books that real people read) there are lots of plays on words and literary terms. If you can handle witty writing, read this book. 

This is the 5th or 6th Thursday Next novel. I really want to name my daughter Thursday, but Chris would never allow it. 

Remember how I gave up Young Adult Fiction. Well, I went back on my word because I requested this book a long time ago and it was finally ready at the library. So, I made an exception. You might notice that this book is not in the "2011 Books Read" section. Because I didn't finish it. I had about 100 pages left and I just decided I didn't want to finish it. I would rather read something else.

This is a Dystopian book and I really did like the set up. This society decided that there are four qualities that are important. Honesty, Bravery, Selflessness and Brains. When a person turns 16, they take a test to tell them which quality fits him/her best. Then they choose which group they want to be a part of. If it is different than the one they were raised in, they basically are separated from their family forever.

Why didn't I like it? Because it is written for Young Adults. I want something more clever and witty and adult. Something like Jasper Fforde.