Monday, November 30, 2009

Oh Fake Christmas Tree!

I never thought I would have a fake tree. We live literally minutes away from 4 or 5 different Christmas tree farms and could easily find a lovely live (until we chop it down) tree for a great price. In fact, cutting down a Christmas tree used to be one of the fun things we looked forward to doing as a family each year.

Then it happened.

I don't think it helped that that was the year we deviated from our strict Noble-Fir-Only rule and got some ugly thing called a Scotch Pine. I hated it.

Also, unknown to us, there was a very small crack in our Christmas Tree stand. "Boy, this tree sure drinks a lot of water," we thought the entire 4 weeks we watered it faithfully. Then on Christmas Eve I sat the boys in front of the tree for a picture and felt the wet carpet.

Christmas morning all the presents under the tree were damp.

The tree came down almost as soon as we had finished present opening. The next week a water damage restoration company came out and replaced the sub-floor and dried out and cleaned the carpet, making that year's tree the most expensive ugly one we'd ever had.

The following year we looked for a fake tree. I have to admit, I felt like a Christmas traitor. I'd often thought it was sacrilege that any Christian Oregonian would have a fake tree. It just didn't seem right in Christmas Tree country. God's Country!!

At the same time, that ugly, water leaking mess from the year before was still an open wound on my Christmas spirit. So we got the fake tree.

Now after 4 years, I feel like the tree is part of the family. It goes up and down in a snap. The lights are already attached, there is no dripping sap, no colony of spiders waiting to migrate into every nook and cranny of my house, no watering schedule to keep to, no dropping needles to vacuum up. We don't have to spend an afternoon cutting it, strapping it to the top of the car and lugging it in the house and we don't have to pay the boy scouts to come and pick it up when everything is over.

The only drawback, of course, is the lack of fabulous pine scent. It's sad, but I can live with it.

So we decorated the tree last night. Actually, I let the kids do most of it. Which is why there is a heavy concentration of ornaments on the front, lower half of the tree. It looks very dorky. And I love it that way.

Friday, November 27, 2009

It's (fill in the blank) Friday!

It's Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year. The day the retailer's books finally go from the red, into the black. (I highly doubt that, but whatever.) But "black" is not the only way to define this Friday in November.

Today, was also Wet Friday. We stood in the rain from 4am to 5am, but thankfully were well prepared with lots of layered clothing, rain coats, rain boots and an umbrella. Thank goodness we only stayed in Target for 15 minutes. It was hot in there!

It became Score Friday when Ethan was able to get one of the few Polaroid Digital Video cameras Target offered for $39. But it soon turned into Sad Friday when the $19.99 4gb video mp3 players were sold out at Fred Meyer. However, Ethan went right into Happy Friday when we saw Fred Meyer's free donuts and juice and the $8.99 N-Strike Recon Nerf gun.

At 6am I was happy it was Go Back to Bed Friday and that Robert didn't mind my freezing feet warming up on his toasty legs.

Disappointment Friday happened when Ethan realized that his new digital video camera only had 12 seconds of recording time and that he had to purchase an SD card separately. Second Wake-up Friday was when Ethan came in at 7am to tell me to take him back to Fred Meyer right away.

Now it's about 9:30am and I'm enjoying Quiet House Friday as Robert has taken all 3 boys to Fred Meyer for Ethan's SD card and N-Strike Recon guns for Isaac and Jonah. But before I was able to sit down with a cup of hot chocolate and blog about my morning, I encountered Rip-Off-All-The-Packaging-From-Everything-You-Bought-And-Drop-It-In-Twenty-Different-Places-All-Over-The-House Friday. That did not make me very happy.

Later the kids will enjoy Build-a-Gingerbread-House-From-The-Twelve-Dollar-Kit-From-Costco Friday and I will indulge in Flavinol Antioxidant Friday and Read-a-Good-Book-All-Afternoon Friday.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

In Which My Mom Gives Me a Stack of Old Pictures

Here I am at 2 years old. I know because it's the only picture with anything written on the back. There is something very Mary Tyler Moorish about this picture. I look like I'm ready to take on the world. Either that or I just saw a pretty bird fly by.

The candles on the cake tell me I'm three. The poinsettia on the counter top tells me my mom hung on to Christmas decor a full month after Christmas.

Here I am on my 4th birthday in a fetching outfit. I can tell you the pink fabric was some kind of velour, and that the white lacy thing is a cravat, and that my mom made the whole ensemble.

I don't know where my early school pictures went. Let's just say they were so cute my mom gave them all out. I think this might be 3rd grade and I remember hating the picture intensely (because I thought the fold in my turtleneck, across the chest, made it look like I was getting boobies.)

Although this was probably a retake of my 3rd grade picture, I'm going to call it 4th grade. I have nothing more to say about it.

I call this 5th grade picture, "The Many Facets of Afton." I'm happy, I'm pensive, I'm cheerful, I'm thoughtful. Why don't they do school pictures like this anymore? It's a travesty.

In 6th grade several things became clear. I needed a better hairstyle and I needed braces. "You looked like a boy" was the comment Isaac made when he saw this picture. I remember I got that necklace at Fetch's in Lakeview, Oregon and loved it because it was the first personalized thing I'd ever had. (It had an 'A' on it.)

I do believe this picture makes a case for perms. This was 8th grade and I remember thinking this was one of the best school pictures I'd ever taken. You know when your friends would get their pictures back and be embarrassed to show anyone and act all put out like it was the worst picture ever? Well, I had a hard time pulling that act off this year. What can I say?

Freshman year I wanted to go for the preppy look and wear my collar up but my mom was convinced an upturned collar was the first step on the road to h - e - double toothpick. (I was her first child, you see). Although there were plenty of days I wore my collar down when I left the house but put it up when I got to school (total rebel) I could not wear it up in this picture because I knew the photographic evidence of my disobedience would be forever preserved.

My sophomore year I cut my own hair. Mullets are one of the easier styles to self cut.

Junior year I went with this lovely blue sweater vest ensemble by Esprit. I did not buy it at the outlet, but paid full price at Macy's. Also, I had finally gone to see a real hair stylist and gotten a super trendy short haircut. This is the haircut after it had spent 5 months growing out.

Ahh! The Senior picture. So much to say and so little space. The perm had to be perfectly timed so that it was neither too kinky or too relaxed. The make-up took an hour to apply. The tan (yes, that's me with a tan) could not show any lines. And then the excruciating decision between the white fur and the blue feathers. And finally, on the way to the photography studio, I backed into my grandparents new Cadillac and burst into a fit of tears.

This was my freshman year at BYU. I had the best roommate. Marina let me borrow her sweater and her earrings for this picture. I do believe she borrowed my clothes for her picture.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Better Place

Grandma Lillian at age 19

My first thought when I heard the news one week ago today that Grandma Lillian had died was that she had gone to a better place. Isn't that what everyone always says? "They're in a better place."

I could picture Grandma, free of her aged, useless body, reuniting with Grandpa, with her brother and sisters and parents, and with her two babies she lost shortly after birth, both who would have easily survived with the medical advances we have today. I knew she was happy. She'd lived the best life and deserved this blessed reunion. I know I'll see her again.

So yes, I believe Grandma is in a better place.

But you know what? This life, this world--whatever you want to call it--is a better place because of Grandma Lillian. She made it a better place for me. I respected her and loved her. I wanted to do the things she did, which is why I spend much of August canning peaches and pears and tomatoes and why I made a quilt and entered it in the County Fair.

I found out at Grandma's funeral that I was not the only one of her grandchildren who made moral decisions based on the maxim, "What would Grandma Think?" I did not want to disappoint Grandma.

I suppose if there is anything at all I can do to honor my Grandma's memory it would be to try and make this world "a better place" for my family. And that is what I plan on doing for the rest of my life.

My brother John was a pall bearer and wore Grandpa's tan shearling coat.

This poem, by Henry Scott Holland, appeared on the back of Grandma's memorial service program.

Death is Nothing At All

I have only slipped into the next room.
I am I, and you re you,
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.
Call me by the old familiar name.
Speak of me in the easy way which you always used.
Put not difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes
That we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without an effort,
Without the ghost of a shadow upon it.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was.
There is absolute and unbroken continuity.
What is this death but a negligible accident?
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight;
I am but waiting for you, for an interval,
Somewhere very near, just around the corner.
All is well.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Keep Calm

When people ask, I always find it difficult to explain how I know Erika.

I've never personally met Erika.

Her sister used attend church with my brother and his family in California. I think we might have met once.

Erika found my blog through a link on her sister's blog to my sister-in-law's blog. (Are you still with me?) From there she made a comment on one of my posts and asked me the golden question; the one question which I love to answer, on which I could, and have, written volumes.

"How do you like Oregon?"

Ever since finding out that Oregon was on Erika's radar as a possible future home, we've been communicating mostly via blog, but sometimes e-mail too.

We're friends on Goodreads and have common taste in books.

We both enjoy home canning and gardening. (Tomato jam? That was Erika!)

We both love being mothers and seeing our children grow and develop.

I think she has fabulous taste in home decor and when I saw this poster on her blog a while back, knew I had to have one.

"Stay Calm and Carry On" was a propaganda slogan and poster made for the British people, but never widely distributed, as World War II loomed on the horizon.

I'm not sure that this is where my "Stay Calm" poster will live forever. (See picture above.) This area of my house is currently under construction and I'm waiting further direction from another good friend on how to proceed. But I still wanted to show my great poster (a simple message that is quite profound) and establish its provenance (The British Government's Ministry of Information, Erika, Me), and most of all, I wanted to procrastinate a bit on writing my novel.

Too bad my book isn't about a 40 year old mom who blogs to avoid writing a novel.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Books I Will Not Be Reading...Yet

National Novel Writing Month has left me very little time for reading. Which is sad. Because I have a stack of books sitting here from the library that I'm dying to read, but whose due dates are quickly approaching.

Here are the books I will most likely not read this month:

I first heard about this book on Shannon Hale's blog where she interviewed fellow author and Utah resident, Sara Zarr. I really liked Sweethearts by Sara and after reading her interview with Shannon, knew I would like this book too. I also LOVE Sara's philosophy on photoshopping personal photos. Finally, Once Was Lost uses the word "xeriscaping" in like the first 3 pages, which I find bold and fantastic. Due November 30th.

I'm sad to have to return this book by Uglies Author Scott Westerfeld. The jacket flap says: "With the great war brewing, Alek's and Deryn's paths cross in the most unexpected way...taking them both aboard the Leviathan on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure. One that will change both their lives forever." Even though it says over on the right that I'm reading this book now, I'm not. Due November 20th.

I think I saw this book on a short list of books getting Newbery buzz. Looks to be set during the civil war. I know that's a bold assumption based on the front cover artwork and the excerpt on the back cover. Maybe I checked it out of the library because my favorite children's librarian, Betsy Bird, recommended it so highly? Here's her detailed review. Due on November 30th, (Angela's Birthday)

This book caught my attention at the school Book Fair. The cover looked interesting, and the back cover description mentioned two of my favorite book topics: Alaska and Oregon. The author of Schindler's List is quoted on the back saying, "The Sea Runners has all the grace, charm and spaciousness of his book This House of Sky, but combined with the drama of a great escape. The sea, wind, space, are palpable in this exquisitely worked book." Due December 5th.

Again, not sure why I chose this book, but I think it too was on a Newbery short list. Maybe there is another Betsy Bird review around here somewhere? Nope, but here's a great article about the author, Grace Lin, on School Library Journal's website. (It's long, but very interesting). Here is a link to her blog, and here is a link to her author site. Due November 20th.

Finally, judging a book by it's cover just happens sometimes and that's what lead me to pick up Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos. I love the cover with the family of rain boots. From the jacket flap, "A devoted city dweller, Cornelia Brown surprised no one more than herself when she was gripped by the sudden, inescapable desire to leave urban life behind and head for an idyllic suburb." Due November 23th.

So, I'm a bit sad because all these books will have to go back to the library soon. I might be able to renew a few, but since they are clearly such great books, I'm sure there will be a bit of a demand for them and I'll probably end up having to wait until Spring.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Design Challenge

Let me introduce you to our TV antenna. Robert made it with instructions from the Internet using a piece of wood and some hangers. Since we probably watch about 1 hour of television a day, I don't care that it's not fancy. However, I would prefer not to have to look at it.

As you can see in the picture below, the TV antenna currently rests on the fireplace mantle. My job will be to find a place to hide the antenna that still allows our TV to get reception or to find a way to integrate the antenna into our decor. (Don't worry, there is decor. It's just all over the floor.)

I love my do-it-yourself husband. Sometimes I wish he cared more about aesthetics.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Family

About a month ago, we had some pictures taken at a nearby park. It was kind of a crap shoot deciding what day to get them done. I chose one day I was fairly sure Robert would be off work because I figured it would be nice to have him in the family pictures. I really wanted a beautiful sunny fall day with some pretty fall colors and I got it!

In fact, this was just about the last nice fall Saturday in the whole month of October. We lucked out. The boys were semi-cooperative, which was great. It was helpful that I was not the one behind the camera giving the directions. I was very happy with the photographer.

I tried to coordinate the outfits so they would match and had clothes all picked out for Jonah and Isaac. In the end, Isaac chose his own shirt and Jonah flat out refused to wear the new Gap Kids outfit I bought for him and just pulled something out of his drawer.

I love Fall.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Furniture Throw Down

I'm not too sad about the fact that my family room furniture looks like we pulled it out of the dumpster. When I see my boys eating on it (against the rules), jumping on it (also against the rules), or wiping their runny noses or food-stained mouths on it (defies all rules of common sense and decency), I get upset.

But not as upset as I'd get if they were doing this to NEW family room furniture. Let's face it. If we had new family room furniture, I'm sure I'd never let the kids near it. So the old stuff is fine. For now. I can live with it because it allows our family to live and to make a few mistakes (Sharpie markers, muddy shoes) and to learn not to do those things again. Eventually. I hope.

Instead of new furniture, I've invested in several "throws" to cover up rips, worn spots with the stuffing coming out, grease spots, Sharpie artwork, etc. I started with one burgundy throw over the ottoman after the Gatorade incident of 2007. The second throw was also burgundy and covered the back of the couch where the fabric has worn away (which coincidentally happens to be where the boys place their hands for their regular couch vaulting competitions--against the rules). The third throw was green and covered a corner of the couch where there had originally been a very, very small tear which was now the size of the Grand Canyon and which produced 2 feet of fluff a year all over the family room floor.

I figured we were still months away from throw number four until I saw this gem in Target last night.

I loved the colors and the woven texture was sure to add dimension and diversity to my family room. And there was only one left! So I grabbed it and walked around the store "thinking about it" while I shopped some more. Then I noticed a small piece of yarn that was slightly snagged. That decided it for me. That small defect turned out to be 15% off at the register, thank you very much.

This is the first throw on our big chair and I would like to point out that the plum in the throw would have matched the plum in the chair just perfectly, if the chair hadn't faded from years of indirect sunlight.

I predict, by the time I get new family room furniture, all of the old stuff will be entirely covered in throws. My mom speculates that I have spent more on throws than I would have on new furniture.

She is either paying way too little for furniture or WAY too much for throws.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Confession

This time of year always brings out the cynic in me. I don't feel warm and fuzzy about Christmas music or Christmas decorations or Christmas sales, Christmas merchandise, Christmas travel, Christmas advertising, Christmas fabric, Christmas crowds, Christmas crafts or Christmas sweaters.

I know that is harsh, but it's how I feel.

I do like Christmas food. I like baking and sharing treats. I love Christmas cards and letters. I love spending time with Family. I love reflecting on the birth of the Savior. I know it's nice to have a variety, but give me these simple things plus "Angels We Have Heard on High" by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, "Silent Night," by my kids, and a few other Christ centered hymns and that's what I call a Merry Christmas.

Everything else I could do without. Everything else feels like a manipulation, a ploy, a scheme: like Madison Avenue's version of "Shock and Awe." (And this from a former advertising major!) It's the ever-present sentiment that you cannot possibly have an acceptable Christmas holiday without reaching some kind of unattainable, impractical, and Magazine-inspired standard.

I feel awful saying it--like a closet Scrooge who has just come out.

In my youth, I was not rebellious: I followed the rules and obeyed my parents. Now, however, I feel the need to rebel. Maybe I was saving it all up for now when I feel like saying, "NO! You can't make me buy something I don't need. No! The happiness of my family does NOT hinge on matching stocking holders and live boxwood garland. No! I don't have to have coordinated chargers and a table runner to make a lovely meal. No! I don't have to spend money to create memories."

(Phew! It felt kind of good getting that all out.)

This is not to say I don't purchase holiday themed items occasionally. I do. In fact, I have a lovely set of matching stocking holders. (This is how I know they don't bring happiness.) It's just that there is always more, more, more. And we are expected to buy it earlier and earlier and earlier in the year. The stores are loaded with useless things to buy because we "have" to buy things for other people. It's this tradition, so you have to do it. And gifts have become an obligation. An obligation is not a gift.

(Don't worry. My kids have plenty of presents to open on Christmas morning.)

When I try to incorporate too many commercially fabricated traditions into my Christmas season, I just end up feeling stress, frustration, fatigue, and sometimes even anger. Not what I want to feel as I celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

I have so far to go when it comes to personally celebrating the true reason for Christmas and teaching my children about our Savior and his infinite love for us. I can serve more, study more, love more. I can think about those in need in March or August, and not just December. I've got work to do. Personally, I don't feel like complicating it with lots of trappings. Or Chia Heads and Snuggies for that matter.

So, forgive me as I "bah-humbug" the 24 hour a day Christmas music radio station and the Christmas aisles at Target. Just ignore me as I solemnly pledge to not step foot in the mall until March. I'm just feeling a little bit under attack these days and need to lay low for a while.

And besides, I've decided I'm not a very good consumer. Which, as it turns out, was what this entire blog post was going to be about before I got sidetracked.

Maybe tomorrow I'll tell you why I should just stop trying to buy things.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Lovely Book Things

Been thinking about books lately. Mostly about writing a book, but also about all the books I'm not reading because I'm writing. I'm thinking about fun books to give as gifts and also books I might want to read after I'm done writing. And this morning, I've been thinking a lot about decorating with books.

This blog post will hopefully get the decorating-with-books out of my system so I can go back to writing a book. I can come back to this other stuff December 1st, right?

A book clock! And I know right where to put it, thanks to Jillyn. And here's where she found it with directions on how to make it.

This book page wreath costs $2 to make. Again, thanks Jillyn for showing it to me and again, pointing out the perfect place to put it. Here are detailed instructions for making it.

The rest of these items are from the Bas Bleu catalog. I loved the famous scenes from movies stick figure cards. I thought of Betsy when I saw these. Probably because of "Singing in the Rain." (See Thelma and Louise?!)

Oh how I want this book. I think I might just have to buy it! How cool is this? You turn off the lights and make shadow pictures on the wall while reading the words to a fun kids story about overcoming fears. There is also a Christmas story.
Finally, these brackets attach to the wall, then using your own books, make literal book shelves.

I was going to say that I would refrain from starting any of these projects or shopping for any of the supplies I will need to make them, but then before I finished this post, I went to Goodwill. I found all kinds of treasures, including the perfect book for the clock titled "Order and Chaos." I think the book is a weird sci fi, but I will be cutting it up so who cares. I thought it perfectly described the state of my family room on any given day.

Friday, November 6, 2009

4000 Words or Bust

I'm behind on my novel and I'm questioning my ability to write in the genre I've selected. I'd feel much more comfortable writing potty jokes and telling about boys who dig worms and shoot milk out their noses.

Instead, I'm writing a teen romance.

And everyone is dead.

What was I thinking?

I take comfort in the fact that this novel I'm writing is:
a) a rough draft
b) supposed to kind of suck to start out with
c) practice for something else I'll write that will be awesome
d) an opportunity to sit down and write every day, something that all successful writers say is the best thing you can do to become a writer.

I will catch up to my writing quota by writing 4000 words today because:
a) I just bought a 2 liter bottle of diet Dr. Pepper to help me power through and increase my typing speed.
b) I also just bought at 75% off, a bag of Brach's mellowcream Halloween pumpkins to shove in my mouth at regular intervals, and when I'm sick of them, I can throw them at things in desperate anger.
c) I'm really, definitely, this time for sure, not going to check Facebook or my e-mail, or write on my blog again until I've caught up with the daily required word count.



Thursday, November 5, 2009

Mozart, I Hardly Knew Ye

Have you heard of Gottfried "Götz" von Berlichingen? Maybe you've heard him referred to by his nickname, Götz of the Iron Hand. No?

Götz was the leader of 1500 Germany's very own A-Team. That's right, an ex-German Imperial Knight, working as a soldier of fortune with a group of ragtag fellow knights, running from the military for a crime he didn't commit. I am not making this up. Mostly.

I stumbled upon Götz while looking for information on prosthetic limbs as research for my novel. Götz, it turns out, had lovely prosthetic limb created for him after he lost his arm fighting for the Duke of Bavaria in the battle of Landshut. His close proximity to a cannon blast caused his own sword to be forced upon him. When he got back from war, he had the above mechanical hand made and continued to have a somewhat successful career as a mercenary and feud starter. The Iron Hand is on display today at Jagsthausan Castle. (So, next time you're in Baden-Württemberg...)

And then the story of Götz of the Iron Hand got really interesting.

Turns out about 200 years later a poet and writer named Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (yes, that Goethe) wrote a play based on Götz's life. In act III, the title character says, "Er aber, sags ihm, er kann mich im Arsche lecken!" in reply to the Bishop of Bamberg's demand for his surrender.

Translation: Lick me on my arse. (a.k.a. kiss my arse)

This is the first recorded use of this phrase that is still in popular use today. (Not by me, of course!)

So popular was this clever phrase, Mozart was inspired to write two cannons based on it in 1782. (Yes, that Mozart).

The first was titled Leck mich im Arsch (literally "Lick me in the arse").

The second was Leck mir den Arsch fein recht schön sauber (English: Lick me in the arse fine well and clean)

You can follow the links to see the words to these musical masterpieces (I'm just guessing it's a masterpiece because, you know, it's Mozart) but if you had any questions as to why fascinating stuff like this isn't taught in schools, the words to the cannons should clear that right up for you.

To be specific, the second one is quite possibly rated R. (Consider yourself warned)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

My Friend Trixie

I don't remember exactly how old I was; let's say...11. I'd found a dusty, musty copy of Trixie Belden and The Secret of the Mansion in a box of old books passed down from my aunt. The cover did not appeal to me, nor did the smell and so it stayed in an out-of-the-way drawer for a while.

It must have been extreme boredom that finally forced me to pick up Trixie. I wasn't a reader and had, up to that point read two books: The Secret Garden (only once because it was so stinking long) and No Flying in the House (like a million times because it's the best book ever).

I don't remember how quickly I raced through Trixie Belden. And I'm fairly certain there were no flashlight under the covers reading sessions. What I do remember is how I felt so connected with Trixie, Honey, Brian and Jim. It was the first time I was totally absorbed by a book and I loved it.

I remember sitting in front of the kindergarten playground at Parson's school in Castro Valley, no doubt "watching" a younger sibling while he or she played, and reading the last few pages of the book. I finished with satisfaction, but at the same time despair. It was confusing to be so sad about finishing a book. I felt like I'd just said goodbye to my best friend.

I seem to remember talking to my mom about my feelings. I was so sad.

A few days later, or maybe it was a month, I don't know, I found out that the mansion was not the only secret Trixie and the Bobwhite's uncovered. There was a whole series of books about Trixie and her friends.

I was thrilled. I received a stack of Trixie Belden's for Christmas that year and after reading those, saved my babysitting money and bought another whenever I could. I didn't read every single Trixie Belden book as any true devotee would have, but none of the books ever matched the excitement The Secret of the Mansion created in my mind or in my heart.

So, yesterday, when I went to the Hillsboro Library book sale, I thought to myself that it would be just great if I could find an old copy of that first Trixie Belden book. I knew my chances were slim. I saw loads of Babysitter's Club books and even more of those Olsen Twin books from the 80's.

And then...

I doubled back to a section I'd already scoured for book treasures, to make sure I hadn't missed anything and there it was! Trixie Belden and the Secret of the Mansion.

It didn't have the same cover as my old musty, dusty copy from Aunt Carla, but I didn't care. It was going to be mine, and for only 25 cents.

If I wasn't already behind in National Novel Writing Month (check out my progress here and read an excerpt from the first chapter) I would have sat down and read that whole book.

Trixie and Afton are back together again.