Camping with My Babies

Amy had planned a trip to NYC with her mom so it was just the three of us this weekend. One of my Xterra Clubs had a trip planned so I decided to brave a trip to the forest with my crew. This would be Lisey's first time camping, off roading, and being without a bathroom for a whole weekend, and it would be my first time taking both kids on an off road trip.

Friday after school, I jetted home, grabbed the gear and kids, and started off toward George Washington National Forest. We stopped at Arby's for dinner and the kids were surprisingly good during the 4 hour trip to the campground. We arrived at camp at about 11:00. Marc and Lisey were a big help holding the poles as I set up the tent and only shining the flashlight in my eyes about 15 times. We then headed down to the fire to say hi t the rest of the guys and sit by the fire. Twenty minutes later Lisey was asking to go to bed. (Lisey never asks to go to bed).

I took her out in the woods and helped her squat to pee (she's a natural) and then we got their pajamas on and crawled into bed. They were both out in 10 minutes.

Saturday we got up to a breakfast of donuts. Packed lunch and hit the trails.

I pulled the airbag fuse and let Lisey ride in the front seat off road. She was a bit scared before we got to the trail but once we started off, she was having a blast; cheering whenever we drove through the "chocolate milk" and yelling weeeooohhh like R2D2 as we drove over rock piles.

Marc has been off road a lot since he was 2 so this was pretty old hat for him. He spent most of the day in the back seat playing PSP but he had fun too.

Around 3:30 we came across a group of scouts, one of whom had fallen off his mountain bike and was hurt pretty bad. We called EMS and waited with the boy for them to arrive. since we were off road, they sent a decked out rescue hummer with a rescue team ahead of EMS. The ambulance took another 30 min or so to navigate the trail during which time Marc decided he had to poop. Now poor Marc can't go in less than 20 minutes to save his life.

We were on a shelf road so the only place to put him was in the middle of the trail in front of our line of trucks. So there's Marc, plopped down with is ass between two rocks on the side of the trail doing his business. About 10 minutes in, this jeep, dad, mom, and two young girls, comes rolling down the trail and drives right past poor Marc in all his glory. Marc took it well though, finished up, and was upset we had to go and he couldn't go make friends with the girls.

EMS took the kid, he seemed OK, and we were on our way. Lisey fell a sleep and it was off to the rock ledge.

The rock ledge is a 3 foot rock pile/wall that is the only difficult obstacle in GWNF. Last year I finally got the courage to drive down it. With good spotting and slow driving, it is not too bad but a little tippy.

After being one of the only ones in the group who would drive down it, I decided to give going up a shot. Basically I driving up a 3 ft ledge. After about 4 tries I was able to get the front tires up on the ledge. I was then able to muscle the back tires up with a prety good jar. Poor Lisey was banged awake and was a little unhappy but we were up and nothing was broken. On back to camp.

At camp the kids were incredibly well behaved. We made dinner, beef stew for them and foil meal for me. We then went down to spend the evening by the camp fire. Marc was being really funny and was excited to go get me a beer from the cooler every now and again. Lisey was being nice to everyone who had treats and was happy as coupld be chillin in her princess camp chair.

Around 11 we headed to bed. Again kids were out in minutes.

2:00 AM poor Lisey woke up having to poop. We got shoes on and headed out in the woods. Poor kid tried and tried but couldn't go. Eventually she just wanted to go back to sleep.

Next day we slept in late, packed up camp, and started the drive home. Lisey was feeling bad all day and tried to go several times but never could.

We stopped at the outlets to hit the Under Armour store. I let the kids each get a toy at KB too because they were so well behaved. Then on home. Lisey was miserable the rest of the day but that leads into my next blog.

It was nice to get home, see my cutie again, and have such great memories with the kids. When I asked the kids their favorite parts Lisey liked driving through the chocolate milk and Marc liked getting me beers, god I trained them well :P

The Walls Have Ears

I got home from school tonight pretty exhausted so I skipped the gym to take a nap. After the kids were in bed I asked Amy if she wanted love later. She being a bit tired too said "if you're too tired to go to the gym, you're too tired for sex!"

As if on cue from the Marc's bedroom, he yells, "do it, I want you guys to have another baby!"



Back to School

Remember that sick feeling you get in you stomach the last week of summer vacation. You have to go back to school, lazy days are over, back to being driven by a schedule, having to eat lunch in 20 minutes, peeing only at scheduled breaks, will the teachers like me?, will the kids me?

Yep, I still get it every year.

Home Improvement Project: Day 11

The final day!

Actually kind of anti climactic. Caulked around toilet, tub, and sink. Installed towel bars, light switch covers, toilet paper holder (yes, the paper goes over not under!). Brought in the last couple of items and my masterpiece is complete. 8 days late, tons of blood, sweat & tears, and $400+ dollars over budget but it's done. I rock! And hopefully bathroom #2 will go much smoother.

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Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

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Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Home Improvement Project: Day 10

Put up the medicine cabinet. Used the stud finder and after putting it on my chest to watch it go off several times, I put it on the wall and located the stud. Then I measured out where the cabinet should go, marked it, and held it in place. While holding it up with one hand, I drilled it to the wall with the other. Pretty impressive huh?

Next I put up the light bar and wired it in. Good to go.

Finally I brought most of the items back and organized them into the new drawers and cabinet. And the bathroom was 95% complete.

Home Improvement Project: Day 9

Home Depot with kids is something everyone should have to experience at least once. Definitely a character building experience.

Spent 15 minutes returning my 4 dollars worth of piping because he computer was down. Went to the plumbing aisle and experienced more humiliation from same plumbing clerk. What was worse is he's telling me I can't do what I'm trying to do even though the way I wanted to do it was perfectly logical. While talking with Mr Plumbing Genius, Lisey decides to stand up in the front seat of the cart. Plumbing guy is flipping out and from then on I'm trying to contain her while getting pipe. Then every time there is a new pipe added to the mix, both kids want to hold it and get into a huge fight over who get to hold it. I'll the while I'm trying to plumb the impossible out of the 400 elbows and threaded connectors and 1 1/4" pipes, and 1 1/2" pipes and traps, and plastic or metal, etc. So I leave Home Depot with my extension 1 1/4" pipe to an 1 1/4" trap to an elbow to a 1 1/4" inch to 1 1/2" adapter to my only comes in metal 2" extension with the 1 1/2" adapter rubber washer and two kids about to be sent off to boarding school.

That night I put it all together, tightened my connections and turned on the water to the sound of... nothing. No water. WTF!!! Called dad. He had no idea except to trouble shoot. Took the hoses off. Water comes out now. Put the hoses on not connected to the faucet. Still have water. So the problem is with the faucet. I was about to pack the damn thing up and make another trip. I tied taking the screan off. Wow, now it works. Found this plastic thing blocking the water behind the screen. Thought it was trash but evidently it is the aerator. Figured out the problem was it was in upside down. Nice! Turned it over sink works great.

Checked underneath. Drip, drip, drip all over. Locked like a freakin Mickey Mouse cartoon. Tightened the pipes a bit more. Stopped 3 of the for leaks. The one leak from the downspout of the sink was coming out between the threads. Put silicone on the seal and more plumbers tape on the threads. No leaks. I still f'n hate plumbing but I am also, the man. Me make toilet and sink work. Me fix leaks. Me lay ceramic tile. Me rebuild vanity. (*beats on chest)

Home Improvement Project: Day 8

On to the vanity. Remember when I thought I could make the out pipe go between the drawers since they were on the right. Great idea but the in pipes from behind hit the back of the drawers. Guess we're rebuilding the vanity.

Took the vanity out of the box and started pulling drawers and the cabinet door off. Pried the fake drawer front off. Unsrewed and pried the two slates between the drawers out. Hey this is going better than expected. Took the drawer tracks off. Moved the back of the cabinet from the right to the left. Reinstalled the slats and was able to screw them into the other side. Installed the slides. drawers work. Kick ass! This is going way to well.

Then I realized two small problems. #1 the hinges for the door have to be moved to the opposite side and the go onto a 1 1/2" wide X 3/4 deep circle #2 the handle knob is on the wrong side. After 1 1/2 hours of Dremmeling, I had created perfect replicas of the hinge holes. A hole on the other side of the door and some wood filler fixed the handle problem. Put it together and I'll be damned. Looks like it came this way.

Took the vanity into the bathroom. Wow, looks a little taller than the old one. Oh well, same width and depth.

Broke out the cutting tool to make a nice circle for the waste pipe, slid it in place and put on the sink. Nice. Screwed it to the wall.

Installed the faucet and downspout. Siliconed the sink to the vanity. And now for the plumbing... or not. First of all, Mr. High and mighty Home Depot Plumbing clerk sold me the wrong size pipes. Next my new vanity is 4 inches taller than the old so the whole thing is too high to hit the waste pipe. And the new sink has the spout a few inches forward. Back to Home Depot tomorrow.

Home Improvement Project: Day 7

Yes my 2-3 day project is now up to day 7 and we still have no toilet or sink. But we have a floor. Damn that floor looks nice if I do say so myself. I'm half tempted to leave it this way, the toilet and vanity will cover 1/3 of it.

Cleaned the toilet thoroughly. Scraped off old shitty wax ring. Installed new clean wax ring and bolts. Then was the fun part. You have to line the wax ring up with the hole while getting two bolts to go right into their holes on either side. You can't hold the toilet and look under it at the same time so it's pretty tricky. But alas, I am the master and it went right on. Tightened it down. Good so far.

Installed the tank. Hooked up the water. Turned it on. Drip, drip, drip. Damn! Pipe going to toilet leaking. Took apart and removed tank. The pipe had pushed a rubber washer up inside the toilet tank. Fixed washer. Reconnected. Turned on water. No drip, drip, drip. Nice.

Let tank fill. Flushed with fingers crossed. Drip, drip, drip. Double damn. Water leaking from between the tank and toilet. God do I hate plumbing. Another trip to Home f'n Depot. Bought new seal for between tank and toilet. Also took the pipes for under the sink so I don't have to make another trip. "Mr. How can you be so stupid as to not know the proper pipe size and vocabulary clerk" helps me find what I need while intentionally leading me astray when I use the wrong terminology. Head home.

Take tank off again. Install new seal. Reconnect. Fill. Flush. No leak! Who's the man!

Off to dinner.

Home Improvement Project: Day 6

Waited 24 hours for grout to dry. Sprayed on smelly sealer stuff. Accidentally locked the cat in with stinky sealer stuff. Drys in 24 hours but stopped stinking in 2 hrs.


Home Improvement Project: Day 5

Took the kids to the Science Center in the morning. It's the last week of summer and I've been neglecting them for the bathroom. Planned to be home at 1:30.

Amy called as I was going into the parking garage and asked if I wanted to go to the Raven's game with her friend Christi and my friend (her fiance'e) Mark. Awesome, only problem was we were leaving at 5:15 and I needed to grout the floor in the bathroom.

The kids had a great time at the Science Center. Unfortunately Lisey was bored in the iMax, then she got diarrhea so we had the pleasure of rushing out in front of everyone. I'm so glad she made it.

Marc wanted pizza for lunch so we walked around the harbor to Pizzeria Uno. The wait was fifteen minutes. Not to bad for 12:30 in the city. Once we sat though, it was 20 min before the waiter arrived. I was kind of pissed but tried to be nice because I forgot to get cash for the parking garage so I wanted to use the waiter as an ATM (brilliant, I know, I asked him to give me five dollars cash and I put an extra $5 on the tip; stickin it to the man and his ATM service charge). Anyway, pokemon the waiter took forever to bring drinks and food was another 40 minutes. The fun of keeping hungry kids occupied when lunch takes an hour.

By the time we ate, walked around the harbor to the car, and got home it was 4:00. In one hour I grouted the entire floor, took a shower, through on my jersey, and was out the door. And it even looked good!


Home Improvement Project: Day 4

Day 4: Got up, switched and folded laundry, ate breakfast, and then mixed up tile adhesive (basically concrete). Made kids lunch, and then began laying tile. About 2 1/2 hours later tile is done. Has to sit 24 hours. Finally a break. I realized I haven't even checked my e-mail for 3 days. This project is life consuming. Tomorrow is grout. Then 24 more hours. Tuesday I should be able to put the toilet and vanity back if all goes well (yeah right!)

Amy has been great about keeping the kids occupied this weekend which has been a big help. At the same time I miss them. I hate having to tell them I can't play Legos or games because I have a billion more hours of work. I'm not even sure what Amy looks like anymore.

Home Improvement Project: Day 3

Day three: Shopping and floor prep

Went to Lowes. Found out I had to buy sink and faucets separate. Also was told that they only make vanities with drawers on the right hand side. WTF? Evidently builders always bring the pipes in from th back or left. Left hand drawers are special order and twice as much. Fuck that, we'll improvise. Looked at the possibility of switching drawers to the left. Possible but requires removing wood slats and re gluing. Called Amy for pipe measurement. I figured out that I can probably send the pipe between the drawers and not hit them if I get the next model up (another $50, crap). We'll see which option we choose Tuesday. Had to pick from 30 different colors of sinks. Then on to tile, another 30 kinds and colors. Picked a almond colored ceramic tile, got a primer on how to lay ceramic tile from Lowes girl, picked up tools and materials, and headed home.

Began laying out tile and marking cuts that needed to be made. Straight cuts were very easy. Score the tile and snap it with cutting tool. Corners and cut outs are nearly impossible. By evening I had all the straight cuts made and all the cut outs marked. I took a break to go to dinner with the family, do the dishes, go to the Iron Birds fireworks with the family, and bathe the kids. I had ten pieces of tile to cut. They tile is cut with these nippers. They suck. Just when you about have your shape cut out your tile splits in half. Every time! I decided to try the Dremel. Cut off disks were wearing away, turning orange, and flying off it flaming pieces. Went to Home Depot and bought a Diamond Chip Dremel attachment. It kind of worked but after half an hour I had one tile cut and had worn down the bit. I was able to cut the rest over the next four hours using the Dremel to score a deep whole and only breaking every other tile with the nippers.

At 3:30 AM I had all the tile cut, 4 blisters on my hands, and 12 pieces of broken tile. I then leveled a warped section of the floor, and was in bed by 4:30.

Home Improvement Project: Day 2

Day two: Painting

I'm actually a pretty good painter. I did have to rebuild the wall behind the sink and toilet with spackle(old wallpaper didn't have a layer of paint under it so it pulled the paper right off the wallboard). After that dried, I whipped up two coats of paint with no problems. Again stopped to empty dishwasher, eat, get Lisey's glasses and get the kids off to swim lessons.

Hope Improvement Project: Day One

Day one: Removal of old stuff

Planned about an hour to pull the toilet, vanity, and carpet out of the bathroom. Wrong again. First I chose to remove the toilet. Turned off the water, flushed the toilet, and scooped out the remaining water. Then started on the bolts. The disgusting bolts that hold it to the floor were rusted. In addition, when the nuts get halfway up the threads, they just spin in place and the nuts won't move up anymore. After screwing with them for 20 min, got out the Dremel and cut them off. Burning hot piece of cut off disk landed on my bare foot. I now have a nice little half mood brand. Disconnected the water and pulled the toilet off the ground. Gross!!!

I won't go into too much detail but just a warning, DO NOT flush diaper wipes. The giant mass of wipes stuck in the trap can only be described as "poop fish." Removed poop fish with latex gloves, put toilet in bathtub. Cleaned the ring and moved onto the sink.

First I cut the silicone around the sink. I then went to turn off the water but both shut offs were stuck. Got some pliers, turned and shutoff spun in place. Shit! Was able to get the other one to move and turn off but now the first one is definitely shot. Had to shutoff the water main to the house in order to remove sink. Undid the rest of the plumbing. Gave the sink a tug. Stuck. Found 3 screws holding it to the wall. Removed screws. Pulled. Stuck. Found three more hidden screws at the bottom. Removed. Pulled. Stuck. Pulled sink up and was able to remove sink from vanity. Found two more super secret hidden screws. Removed. Pulled. Budging now but the outlet pipe goes through a hole cut in the side of the vanity that is smaller in diameter than the end of the pipe. How is this possible? Got out cut off tool. Spent 15 min cutting a larger hole without hitting the pipe. Removed vanity Woohoo!

Trip to Home Depot for shut off valve, solder (of course it wasn't one of the threaded kind that broke), toilet bolts, paint, etc. FIL was nice enough to come over and taught me to solder on a new valve. Had to stop for the day to cook dinner, take kids to swim lessons, etc. Pulled carpet that evening. My hour project had taken all day!

Home Improvement Project (from hell!) Overview

There are very few things in the world I find more repulsive than the smell of cat piss. My cats are usually good about using the liter box for some reason, every so often, they pee on the carpets in front of the tubs. This drives me bonkers. I've never been able to catch them in th act, luckily for them.

Since we bought our house, I've wanted to remove the wall to wall carpet in both bathrooms. I'm not a fan of carpeted bathrooms anyway, and the cat pee smell has never totally gone away, I'm pretty sure they'd be less likely to pee on tile and if they did, clean up is much easier from a non absorbent surface.

I decided since I'm pulling the carpet and putting down new floor, I should put in a nice new vanity with drawers and one of those medicine cabinets with the trifold mirror. And if I'm doing all that, I may as well paint while everything is out of the room. I priced it online: Vanity: $200, Medicine cabinet $140, Paint $30, Tile $100, so the whole project should be about $500 and take about 2-3 days right? Wrong!

The vanity in the nice picture from the Lowes website

doesn't actually come with the sink or the facet. It's another $120 for the sink and $50 for the cheapest matching faucet they had. Guess I need to read the fine print but they could have made that a bit more clear. Then there was another $100 or so in materials like rollers, grout, floor adhesive, diamond tipped dremel bits, etc. so my $500 project has now cost me about $800. Yikes! And I still have another bathroom to do after this one.


Addicted to the podcast

I was a little late jumping on the podcast bandwagon, but my newfound love of everything Mac made me want to check them out. I listened to my first one about 6 months ago and have 30 different podcasts in my iTunes and have listened to who knows how many total episodes. They are always playing on the iPod in the car, so much so that the kids have started singing the theme music to several of them.

For those of you, like the love of my life, who may not have ventured into podcast land, read on. The rest of you skip this paragraph. Podcasts are audio or video presentations. Most are like radio or talk TV shows but others are tutorials, comedy routines, etc. I thought podcasts would be difficult to get started with. Nope! It's so freaking simple. If you have iTunes set up to let you download from the iTunes store, that's it. Go to the iTunes store. Click on "podcasts" on the left hand side. Browse or search for ones you might like. They have descriptions, ratings, and they are all FREE! You just click "get episode" and they go right into your iTunes library. If you really like one you can click "subscribe" and all new episodes will automatically download when they become available. You can choose to have them go onto you iPod or uncheck them and they will only be available on your computer. If you only have an audio iPod like me, you can watch the video podcasts on the computer. They won't transfer to your iPod or clog up space. When your done listening you delete them from iTunes and that's it.

So anyway, some of my recommendations are as follows:


Smodcast- Kevin Smith (writer/director of Clerks and all the Silent Bob and Jay movies and Silent Bob) and his friend Scott Mosier (producer of those movies) do an audio show in which they just chat about whatever the hell they feel like. Just like his movies and interviews, the dialog is hilarious. Definitely my favorite podcast.

Don't Be That Guy- Video podcast of a sketch comedy team showing the ironic truth of all those guys you don't want to be. Surprisingly funny for being so clean.

Mr. Deity- I believe Adam originally introduced Amy to his clips on the net. Now they've become podcasts. A delightful show about how difficult it is to be God and run the universe.


Adobe Photoshop Elements Killer Tips- Name says it all.

Mac Tips Daily- see above.

French Maid TV- found this one tonight so I've only watched one episode. Sexy french maids teaching things like how to make a podcast and how to give CPR. What a concept!!!


Pokerwire Radio- Pros Gavin Smith and Joe Sebok and host Joe Stapleton bullshit about poker, prop bets, and everything else. Once in a while they even teach you something.

ESPN Radio: The Poker Edge- Pro Phil Gordon (who's books I highly recommend) shares news from the poker world and tips for playing.

Ex Mormon:

TheChurchIsNotTrue Former Mormon radio- The episodes with Tal Bachman are particularly good.

My next step is to actually try to do my own podcast. They are the up and coming thing in education and maybe it will give me an excuse to buy a couple of iPods for the library! :) Or I could just post more of my mindless ramblings to further clog up the cyberspace world.


Is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me? Is there anyone at home?


New Toy!

If you haven't figured out yet, I love my wife, I love my kids, and I love my toys. I'm very excited because my beautiful wife told me to go ahead and buy my newest toy on eBay tonight.

It started out as a too good to be true deal but ended up turning out OK. I have been keeping an eye on eBay for a paint ball gun like my brother has. His gun has wicked accuracy and it very frustrating to play against him with rental guns. Time and time again I've been taken out from a distance that my rental wouldn't even fire and after cryin about it for a while, I decided if you can't beat him, join him.

So I've been keeping an eye on eBay and at dick's sporting goods for a good deal on the gun. Tonight I found one for $75 "brand new." I knew that the gun came with a one year warranty and usually came with the accessories in the pic but this one was just the gun. It retails with the accessories for about $189 but Dick's had it on sale for $169. (In addition to loving toys, I'm one hell of a comparison shopper; thanks for raising me in the mall mom!) Anyway, $75 seemed like a steal so I told Amy about it and she said, go ahead and get it, that's a great deal. I had a dilemma though, the deal seemed to good to be true but I was afraid someone else would snatch it up first. I bid the Buy It Now and sent the guy a message asking about the warranty.

He quickly replied he had mislabeled the gun as new and that it was actually a factory refurbished model with a one month warranty so he would give me a $12 discount. I found much better deals online for refurbs so I was a bit worried. I let him know I'd need a much bigger discount and a 3 month warranty like the other eBay listings or I needed him to reverse the trasaction. Suprisingly he said he couldn't take my offer but would open a dispute to reverse it. Within 15 minutes the whole thing was taken care of with no negative consequence to either of us. Who says there aren't trustworthy people left in the world? And this was at 10:30 on a Monday night.

So anyway, I went ahead and ordered the much better refurb deal with the 3 month warranty and now I'm hoping my new toy arrives before we play next Sat.

So once again, a post I meant to be two sentences ends up as a novel. Oh well, I like to babble.


Gregor the Overlander

I finished the last Harry Potter last week. It was excellent but everybody is blogging about it so rather than be cliche, I want to blog about another children's fantasy book that was just as exciting to read. I do have to add though that I was telling everyone how great Harry Potter was before andyone had heard of him and long before there where plans for movies and midnight book premiers, so you might want to check this one out.

When we were in NYC we stopped by the overpriced Scholastic Store in SoHo. For teachers Scholastic is a resource of incredible affordable books and classroom materials but whether it was because it was in NYC or because they make up for their teacher savings by overcharging the public, I'm not sure. We bought a few things for the kids and I bought a Harry Potter tie which started a conversation between Amy and I and the two clerks. It came up that I'm an elementary school librarian, and they asked if I'd read Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins? They went on and on about how great it was, and since it was the best kind of book, a free book, I took it. In addition to giving me the secret teachers discount on my purchases, they were nice enough to provide me with a "complimentary teacher preview copy" of Gregor the Overlander.

I, like with most books I buy, had all intentions of reading it but got sidetracked by the 5 other books I was reading at the time. I finally picked it up tonight and read the entire book. It was outstanding. It definitely borrows themes from the big fantasies (Harry Potter, Chronicles of Narnia, Lord of the Rings, and Alice in Wonderland) but weaves them into an original, exciting, and moving story.

The story starts off with young Gregor living at home with his mom, elderly grandmother, and two younger sisters. Eleven year old Gregor lives in NYC and should be off at summer camp with his middle sister but has to stay home to take care of his two year old sister and his addled grandmother as the family can't afford childcare. Dad disappeared years ago which had a profound effect on Gregor and has caused significant hardships for the family including the shame and rumors associated.

While doing laundry, Gregor finds himself and his younger sister mysteriously falling into an underground land ala Alice in Wonderland/Being John Malchovich.

In this strange lands, he meets giant cockroaches, bats, rats, and spiders, all of which can talk. They have a delicate relationship which is falling apart and Gregor finds out to escape, he must decipher and fulfill an anceint prophecy. The themes Collins covers in this Underland and the way it all ties together in the end made it an outstanding and moving read. When I got to the end I couldn't wait to go out and buy book 2 (there are 5 in the series). It was also one of those books that made me feel the need to go kiss each of my kids on the forehead and give them a little hug before I went to sleep.