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Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

We'll share pictures soon, but in the meantime here's some recommended reading for your Christmas...

Hope everyone is having a merry Christmas! Look forward to catching up soon!

Merry Christmas!

We'll share pictures soon, but in the meantime here's some recommended reading for your Christmas...

Hope everyone is having a merry Christmas! Look forward to catching up soon!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas pictures are hard to take...

...when you are trying to incorporate a dog and you are a bit short on inspiration...

Merry Christmas from the Norrises anyway!

Some of the outtakes and ones we didn't use...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Nanny Diaries

My interview with Michael Estepa is still (hopefully) coming soon. Meanwhile, after a bit of a hectic review schedule, I've rewarded myself with some fun reading. First on the list...

I know I'm slightly behind, but I saw the movie a few months ago and finally got around to reading the book, too.

It's so so good. Poignant and funny, but a bit darker and more troubling than the movie. And it's not all wrapped with a big Hollywood bow at the end either. Book Mrs. X is not as sympathetic (probably thanks to the fabulous Laura Linney), but Grayer and Nanny are both more loveable in the book.

I know this is kind of a lick-and-a-promise type of review, but I wanted to get it up while I was thinking of it. More reviews coming soon, and I'm looking forward to making a couple of announcements about next year, too.

Didja like that little sneak peek there? ;)

On to favorite quotes...

Like the other women I've worked for, I'm sure she used all caps without thinking, threw the underline in as an afterthought, but, to me, she's screaming. It's as if, suddenly, her life depends on LAVENDER WATER or MILK or EDAMAME.

The bass beat from the house music is like aural rape.

It's OK to be sad. We'll just sit here and be sad for a little while.

Pink light spills in through the open window, illuminating the disarray, which looks as if librarians came over and partied very hard.

I wish I could call up and order a fill-in friend, like a guy orders a stripper. Some fabulous young woman would show up with Cool Ranch Doritos, margaritas and a copy of Heathers.

You made this family. And all you have to do is show up and like them.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Purged by Darkness

Purged by Darkness by Michael Estepa

Kai is nervous. He is about to make his first "big" hit and take out a disloyal member of the society, a job that will catapult him significantly higher into the ranks of professional gangsters in Australia.

But something doesn't feel right. One of his group--his closest friends who are unfailingly loyal to him--is killed the same night the hit is planned. There is now infighting and bickering in the group, higher-ups are maneuvering for their own positions, and Kai is struggling to hold his place and confidence as leader.

Michael Estepa tells a realistic story of young men who feel they have no other choice but to join a "society" and participate in the accompanying violent and tragic gang lifestyle. He speaks from personal experiences and observations but has centered the fictional novel around Kai, who is surprisingly thoughtful and intuitive.

Estepa writes in the introduction about his concerns for young men who are making these choices and says he wants to portray the lifestyle without glorifying it. He has done a great job striking this balance.

I look forward to posting an interview with Mr. Estepa tomorrow to hear more about the book and his background.

Jacqueline Klosek Interview

Sorry I didn't get this posted the day it was promised. I had some Internet issues over the weekend. Hope you enjoy the interview with Jacqueline Klosek, author of The War on Privacy!

I'm sure you were prompted to write the book by overall concerns about privacy rights and how the war on terror was impacting those. However, were there any more specific concerns or a particularly troubling occasion that really pushed you to get this information out to people?

As to your question, fortunately, there was not a single particularly troubling occasion that prompted me to write the book. I was just very interested in studying and understanding the effect that the “war on terror” was having on privacy rights worldwide. Ever since completing my studies, a significant part of my legal practice has focused on privacy rights. For the most part, I have worked to help companies meet their obligations for complying with laws concerning privacy and data security. After September 11th, I found that a lot of companies were finding themselves between a rock and a hard space, so to speak. Because of laws and consumer demands, many companies had been making strong commitments regarding data privacy. However, in an effort to reduce the incidence of terrorism, the government was calling upon companies to provide various data and information to the government. Companies were thus placed in a very difficult position, forced to consider whether they provide the information requested by the government or honor the privacy commitments they had made to their customers, for in many cases, they simply could not do both, as the duties were in conflict. At the same time, our government was initiating new and expanding existing information collection and use projects. Upon learning of these developments, I became interested in studying them further and also learning out how the issues were playing out around the world.

Are there times when people must sacrifice privacy for security? How can those boundaries and distinctions be correctly or objectively defined?

I feel that there is always a tension between privacy and security and a need to always work to ensure that the proper balance between these two competing interests is being achieved. It is also not surprising that in the aftermath of a horrible tragedy such as September 11th, the initial reaction was to clamp down on privacy and civil rights in an effort to improve security. It is, however, essential to be vigilant and work to ensure that we do not slide too far on the other side of the scale. I do not believe that it would be possible to establish the boundaries and distinctions in a clear way that will apply across all circumstances. Societies’ needs and interpretations of what is necessary and what is acceptable will change from time to time as the circumstances dictate. But, irrespective of the events impacting society, we must remain focused on ensuring that individual civil liberties, including privacy rights, continue to be protected.

It was interesting to see the differences (and similarities) between America and other countries when privacy rights are concerned. How can one country's "war on terror" impact another's (positively or negatively)? And are these countries intertwined on this issue, or are they more separate entities?

I would say that countries retain autonomy and make their own decisions about the extent to which they will or will not protect individual privacy rights. However, there are internal and external factors that can impact the direction that a given country will take. Consider for example, Europe’s main privacy directive (Directive 95/46/EC). This measure contains restrictions on transferring data from Europe to third countries that do not provide adequate protection to personal data. As a result of the enactment of this directive, a fair number of countries outside of Europe acted promptly to enact comprehensive privacy laws that might be considered to provide adequate protection to personal data. Likewise, after September 11th, it was quickly understood that the need to respond to the threat of terrorism was not only an American need but rather it was a global problem that required a global response. In perceiving a need for more in-depth data gathering as a valuable tool in the war on terror, many countries then acted to clamp down on privacy rights and enhance information-gathering capabilities.

The book is extensively footnoted and seems to be well researched. Can you tell me about your research process?

For me, it is extremely important to conduct thorough research. This is a practice that was ingrained into me during law school and graduate school and it continues to be an important part of my legal practice and my writing. This is a primary reason why writing the books is often very time-consuming. In terms of the process, I typically do a mix of Internet, online database and library research, combined with interviews and discussions.

Can you talk about what your next project will be?

I currently have a few projects underway. First, I am working on Your Health Privacy: A Guide to Protecting the Privacy and Security of your Medical Information. After teaching a course on HIPAA and health privacy at Seton Hall University law school, I became even more interested in the importance of privacy in medical information and wished to write a guide for citizens on this very important issue. This book, to be released in 2010 will explore the features and limitations of current legal mechanisms to protect the privacy and security of medical information. It also aims to empower individuals to take control of their own medical information.

I am also working on a second manuscript, tentatively titled, Why Healthcare Reform is Not Enough. This book will examine the important role that individual behaviors and lifestyles play in health and will advocate for the adoption of more widespread programs to motivate better health behavior. In this book, I will show how such programs can help to reduce healthcare costs and in turn, improve access to healthcare.

Finally, I have also been asked to do an updated study of privacy internationally. I am excited about this project as I feel it will be very interesting to revisit where things stand now in terms of global privacy rights as we head towards the tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks.

Is there anything else you'd like to say about the book or privacy rights I've not asked?

Regarding privacy rights, I think people must understand the role that they play in their own privacy. I recently attended Federal Trade Commission roundtable discussions on privacy. The session was extraordinarily interesting and extremely well attended. Among the many things I took away from this session was an understanding of the fact that there is so much misunderstanding among individuals about the scope of their privacy rights. Companies certainly have an obligation to secure the information that they collect and to provide clear and accurate information about their information collection and use practices. However, individuals also have a duty to learn about companies’ policies and practices and to be careful about what they disclose online.

Thanks, Ms. Klosek! You can find more information about Jacqueline Klosek on Facebook.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The War on Privacy

The War on Privacy by Jacqueline Klosek

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This phone call may be monitored for our records and to better serve you.

Which Disney princess {Peanuts character, color, or food} are you?

We've all seen and heard these phrases from institutions as reputable as our banks to those as seemingly innocuous as Facebook. But have you ever considered how much information these institutions, organizations and even applications are gathering about you? And have you ever wondered what's being done with that information?

Jacqueline Klosek pays attention to privacy rights and is concerned about the trends she's seen in the last few years. In The War on Privacy, she examines those trends--both domestic and international--and discusses the ever-present balance countries must maintain between the liberty and security of its citizens.

The essential challenge for finding a means to an end to the scourge of terrorism, while preserving the essential liberties and freedoms upon which modern democratic societies have been built.

Without downplaying the seriousness of terrorism or national security, Klosek raises concerns about the "war on terror" and how it has affected privacy rights.

The American public has previously demonstrated a relatively high level of tolerance for various governmental actions that infringed upon their privacy rights, provided that such actions appeared to be reasonably calculated toward preventing terrorism.

But she questions whether actions such as the PATRIOT Act and increased information sharing between private companies and the government have really done anything to prevent terrorism or better protect American citizens. You will likely be surprised by how much the government has been allowed to access your personal information, including phone calls, Internet surfing and shopping habits in the name of the "war on terror." This is troubling on a number of levels.

While it is true that operators of dive shops, resorts, and similar facilities will maintain data on individuals who come in for scuba lessons, they are not likely to obtain and maintain their data with the same level of accuracy that one would expect of a government agency. Once such data, which may very well have been recorded inaccurately, are shared with the government, the consequences become much more significant. Clearly, having your name misspelled on a scuba catalog or vacation literature is quite different from having inaccuracies in government files.

Things begin to look a bit more grim when considered globally. Klosek points to countries that have, on the surface, aligned themselves with the United States to fight terrorism. However, political leaders in some of these areas have instead capitalized on the somewhat vague definition of terrorism and labeled political rivals as terrorists both in order to advance their own careers and to effectively silence any opposition.

As alarming as these statistics and situations might seem, Klosek is anything but sensational. She is an attorney, and her book reads a bit like what I imagine a legal brief would. It is heavily footnoted, well-researched and informative, so you have to be an active (rather than passive) reader to keep up with her pace.

Klosek does not offer any easy answers but instead attempts to raise the national consciousness concerning these issues. I'm excited about posting an interview with her tomorrow, where we'll chat more about privacy rights and her writing in general.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Little Christmas

And I need a little angel...Sitting on my shoulder...We need a little Christmas now...

I love that song. And it fits right now.

We got a little snow in Texas last week...

And a little decorating done on the tree...

And a little bit of presents bought and wrapped...

Here's where we are with our holiday to-dos:
-Enjoyed a successful book club holiday meeting on Saturday
-Watched Alabama soundly defeat Tebow...I mean Florida on Saturday night
-Partied away at a fabulous office Christmas party on Tuesday
-Co-hosted a festive wedding shower Tuesday night
I feel as if I've been living in the kitchen lately as all of these to-dos also require to-brings. :) But it's been great fun so far.

Next up is Jason's school Christmas party tonight (he officially finished his semester last night--woohoo!) and our church Christmas party tomorrow night.

A little Christmas indeed.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Jesus Is For Everybody-Part Two

I was excited to chat with Sophia White, author of Jesus Is For Everybody and get her take on the book, her writing process and her faith.

Thanks, Ms. White!

The subtitle says the book is geared toward new believers. Do you think that is the best stage in a Christian walk for someone to read the book? What, if anything, do you hope it offers mature believers and/or those who are not Christians?

My primary goal is to help new believers, those who are not religious or may be somewhat uncomfortable with organized religion. Christianity was intended to be a subculture within the everyday secular world. God did not send His son to teach humanity about religion. Jesus came to fulfill religious prophesy. He came to separate the rituals of religious tradition from matters of the heart. This allows believers to embrace a more abundant life than what the world offers.

God has designed a path for believers to develop an ongoing relationship with Him that promises abundant life. We must first embrace ourselves to accept the truth about our nature. In short, humanity crucified of our Lord. God showed us that our human behavior will naturally reject His word and in the end, we actually crucified God’s word in the form of Jesus with human hands. That act establishes acceptance of the need for humanity to reconcile with God. The ultimate sacrifice is that God sent His son to communicate with us in the flesh and establish a final covenant with those who truly want to know Him.

When God sent His son to show us how things are and will be to come, humanity reacted as expected. God sacrificed His son to show us our natural state, which should lead to remorse and repentance. The basic nature of humanity is self preservation, the first law of nature. God wants us to repent of our ways by seeing that our nature rejected His son when He lived among us. His death was the ultimate sacrifice for believers. It is sad to know that human hands have the will to crucify our creator instead of embracing His teachings.

The church is in the people. As individuals, we are the church. The early church came together as one. They were supportive to one another in all walks of life. As I’ve recently drifted from visiting one church to another, my heart is aching about what I’m witnessing firsthand.

Our relationship with God is based in our acknowledgement of how Jesus was born to pay the ultimate price for our sins. I find the Holy Trinity as the spiritual basis for connecting the dots intellectually. God revealed His power to humanity through His son our Lord and Savior. After the Resurrection, Jesus left us a Comforter; the Holy Spirit empowered to guide us from the heavenly realm. Our existence is described in the Revelation of God’s plan unfolding. We are taught that Jesus is the word made man and the definition of the word is communication with God. Jesus is the man in which those words were given life. When we pray to God, we pray in the name of Jesus since He is our representative.

Based on the need to establish separate denominations, Christians as a whole are not representing Christ anymore. Non believers are critical of Christians for obvious reasons. This is not about attending church. Faith in Jesus Christ is about a whole new way of life. Organized religion was the basis for His crucifixion. The formula Jesus taught does not work with enormous spending budgets and elaborate operating expenses. Building massive structures to house fancy furnishing in the name of God has no correlation with faith in Jesus Christ. When God sent His son to teach us who we are and our need to repent, it was to give everyone an opportunity to assess our current state and be delivered from our sinful desires.

Why did you decide to organize the book in the way you did? Specifically, how did you choose the main sections (God, Faith, etc.)?

The first section is about God which lays the framework for understanding a higher power. The Holy Trinity defines God as three distinct entities: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This section also includes scriptures regarding Heaven to provide a vision of where the Bible indicates God resides.

The second section is about faith. I break down the basis for faith as our belief system and desire to know God. The chapters on prayer and love define how we practice faith in God according to the teachings of Jesus.

The third section is about church which allows a deeper understanding of ministry according to the scriptural verses what we witness in television evangelism. Jesus taught specific guidance for ministry and giving is the selfless act designed to demonstrate our concern for one another.

The fourth section on the world illustrates how humanity is governed. Once we understand governance as the definition of life, we can better understand the power of God’s intervention. What we see on the surface doesn’t explain how life transpires. We are given hope through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Governance, family, ways and money are primary components used to survive. Governance breaks down the different levels of authority, family is the origin of individuals and our ways demonstrate what we believe. In governance I also discuss the implications of abortions and other sensitive issues facing believers today. Money is described as our sophisticated bartering system designed to promote survival conducive to functioning in a civilized society.

The fifth section on Wisdom explains why the bible is our source of insight on matters of origin and future expectations. Knowledge is where wisdom is attained. True wisdom comes from God. The bible explains that the wisdom of man is foolish in God’s eyes. Understanding God starts with the knowledge of His existence and faith comes by hearing, not by reading. When a person hears the word of God, his/her desire to attain faith is empowered by God and God alone. The chapter about the Old Testament is to bridge a gap between biblical law and the teachings of Jesus. The chapter on last days is solely about recognizing the signs of our time and clearly explains the situations we face today with churches, relationships, children, sin and a host of others.

I conclude by providing insight on how to get to know God through accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. By the end of the book, the reader will be able to determine whether to believe Jesus was indeed born and crucified as our pathway to building a relationship with God.

Similarly, why did you offer commentary at the beginning of each chapter with several Bible passages following rather than commenting on and explaining the text per passage?

The format of this book is designed to make it usable as a biblical reference tool. Although I’ve written a commentary at the beginning of each chapter, it is framed to invoke the thought process of why we believe in God and the basis for that belief. The volume of scriptures should remove any doubt or questions about inconsistencies.

This is not about me or my commentary. This is about removing the confusion derived from the representation of churches today. Even mature believers have a difficult time understanding God based on what is being taught so this book contains a listing of scriptures organized for the reader to make an informed decision in conjunction to listening to a religious leaders. I’ve witnessed ministers preach an hour and only introduce two or three verses of scripture. Mega churches accumulate members and present the same information over and over again. How long until believers start to feel empty and unfulfilled? In some cases, the interpretation is used solely for selfish gain. God doesn’t need our money. He knows how to orchestrate His needs on earth without our permission. My goal is to provide insight into the way of life that leads to the Kingdom of God as illustrated through the resurrection of Jesus Christ after organized religion crucified Him. Many church leaders have become no more than motivational speakers. This book will place the sacrifice of Jesus Christ into its proper perspective.

You definitely seem well organized and detail-oriented--especially when looking through the Appendices. How do you hope these skills can help your readers?

Through the Holy Spirit, God is with us right now. The book is about connecting the dots. For new believers and people unfamiliar with the Bible, I wanted to layout a simple background and information for ongoing use. The Introduction also includes a reference to a magnificent website which contains the bible in many translations and languages. Deciding on the sections and associated chapters was finalized over an extended period of time. Initially I began to determine which categories would best align with teaching life according to scripture.

When I make the statement “This book is about life and not religion,” my intention is to set precedence about the content of the book as a way of life instead of a set of religious principles. Jesus came to deliver us from the burdens of life and show humanity the definition of righteousness in light of our flesh limitations. This book is about understanding how to build a personal relationship with God based on the teachings of Jesus Christ associated with common knowledge. The bible explains how the wisdom of man is foolishness in God’s eyes, and I believe God chose me to teach people how to comprehend this in everyday terms.

The references are listed in the appendix to allow the reader to verify the exact biblical location. The appendix also contains a description of each book of the New Testament to explain its origin and suspected author.

What are you working on next? Would you have any interest in finding Jesus in the Old Testament?

I’m definitely interested in writing about Jesus, the Messiah as illustrated in the Old Testament. In this book, I’ve included several scriptures to bridge teachings from the Old Testament to the New Covenant including signs of the last days. The New International Reader’s Version (NIrV) is the biblical translation used in the book. The NIrV includes a cross reference to the corresponding scripture in the Old Testament which facilitates a more universal understanding of the bible overall.

The teachings of Jesus and the early believers were from the Old Testament which outlines a covenant history which describes God’s redemptive action. He explains the work of God through the Hebrew people for their salvation and the salvation of the world. The Old Testament is the story of a covenant God had with a chosen group of people who would become a light to all creation. Our relationship with God begins with Abraham and his family. Abraham was a Hebrew. Sin and consequences for humanity were illustrated from the beginning of time so God chose a relationship with the Hebrews to be a blessing for all humanity. Jews are a group of Hebrews that were scattered far and wide throughout nations with their Law, Prophets and Writings intact.

My next project is related to helping women in the areas of relationships, family and spiritual awareness.

Is there anything else you'd like to say about the book or your ministry that I've not asked?

I was inspired to write this book to explain the simplicity of Christ to everyone, especially new believers. Some people accept faith and then find it hard to sustain based on various contradictions demonstrated by organized religion. Through illustrations and analogies, I want to help people comprehend the consistency of God’s message and be able to conclude for one’s self that the scriptural recordings are more a matter of fact than individual interpretation. My faith has always been based in the teachings of Jesus Christ, but as life progressed I started to intellectually comprehend our connection with God. It’s obvious that the world is governed by a force more dominant than basic behavior and establishing separate denominations is a blatant contradiction to faith in Jesus Christ. Believers are considered member of one body and for some strange reason, the church has separated itself, but the time has come to open up the dialogue and discuss the truth according to the gospels.

Writing this book was never a long term goal. The thought gradually became a reality as did the foundation for my belief in Jesus. On many occasions, I was encouraged by friends to write, but it never dawned upon me what I could offer. Then one day I began to focus on how people are suffering due to a basic lack of knowledge about God and our origin. It is impossible to have a relationship with God without communication, and Jesus is the facilitator. Some believers contribute to religious organizations that blatantly disregard the teaching of Jesus Christ. The scriptures explain clearly what’s going on today and I’m motivated to help people comprehend it more easily. The book is written to allow a person to make a more informed decision about faith in God and what it means to believe in Jesus Christ.

Some believers feel isolated in ministry as most churches are now primarily focused on the business which is more about fund raising instead of fellowship for God. Many Pastors practice various techniques including joking, funny stories, and demonstrations all designed to keep the congregation engaged. Church reputations are now based on good preaching and the music ministry. Throughout the sermon, congregations laugh and clap with the same emotions illustrated during secular events. The whole concept saddens me. In some churches, tithes and offerings are synonymous to a cover charge for admission.

I once viewed church as a refreshing get away and a chance to be surrounded by a different kind of people, but it’s not that simple anymore. After being a member of so many churches in various geographical locations and participating in various discussions, it has become obvious that some believers have derived their faith from bits and pieces of biblical text. Many believers go to church for mere status so by including the scriptural references by topic, I am hoping to help build an awareness whereby Christians are encouraged to recognize and address the status quo.

An Overdue Thank You

Dear Ishmael,

Thank you so much for your service through the City of Fort Worth's Waste Management Department. It would have been easy to ignore the call that came in on a chilly Saturday morning and stayed in your warm truck taking care of other business. It would also have been easy to make stereotypical jokes about the blonde girl who was jogging and dropped her iPod down a street drain (especially once you showed up, and she had a white fluffy dog in tow).
However, you not only retrieved said iPod, but you also did it with kindness and grace and no hint of snarkiness or judging whatsoever.
You are a good example for all of us, and your work is appreciated.

The iPod Girl

Monday, December 07, 2009

Jesus Is For Everybody

Jesus Is For Everybody by Sophia White

Sophia White's Jesus Is For Everybody is targeted toward new Christians, but believers at any stage of faith could benefit.

White examines broad issues within Christianity like God, faith and the church, beginning each chapter with a few pages of her personal commentary and finishing with many biblical passages.

It's edifying for me as a believer to read the scriptures she includes, and White's thoughts are interesting, albeit hard to follow at times. However, I think I would have preferred her to cite the scripture passages, then interact with and/or explain them rather than just citing--especially since she targets new believers who might not yet fully understand a lot of the context of some of the verses.

I plan to have an author interview with Sophia White tomorrow, so I hope to hear more about her process and why she organized the book the way she did. Check back in if you're curious!

Friday, December 04, 2009

Cows, Rock Stars and More on the Kindle

Ready for 2010? Not yet? Me neither. But the Chick-fil-A cows are...I really liked Steerlock Holmes.

Speaking of fun, how incredibly fun would this job be? I always thought it would be great to be a librarian for a newspaper or television network or something like that, but I apparently need to think more globally! Wonder if Coldplay or Doris Day or one of my other favorites might need some library services?

Meanwhile, any librarians using Second Life? My husband went to a church service on there once, but that's about the extent of my knowledge.

Moving on...Syracuse decides to keep the books...

While another school makes the opposite decision...

And an academic perspective on the Kindle...

And an article about teaching Book Arts

That's it for now, but I have a review and author interview coming up on Monday! Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving, and enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Thanksgiving Shmanksgiving

The day before Thanksgiving, I felt like this...

All sickly and puny and light-headed and such.

We were facing an 11-hour drive to Alabama. And I am the primary driver in our family. The secondary driver had two papers to finish over Thanksgiving break so would not be contributing to the driving whatsoever. (The tertiary driver being called upon only in emergencies because he has trouble seeing over the steering wheel.)

So we bailed on the Bama trip and stayed in Cowtown. This was our first year to spend Thanksgiving here in Fort Worth and the first time I haven't been home for Thanksgiving in five years.

We ate at Cracker Barrel, and it was tasty and warm (and gave us pretty views both inside and out).

But I still cried a little. OK, a lot. I don't think Jason knew what to do with me because I do.not.cry. It's one of my rules.

Then I remembered how much I have to be thankful for--including seeing the fam at Christmas. And so I relaxed and slept and slept and slept, then read a little and then slept some more. I'm not gonna was really, really nice.

But then Monday and real life returned. And oh sweet heaven, we have been going non-stop since then. I know everyone is busy this time of year, so I'm not trying to compete here. But I will take your sympathy. ;) We are just wiped! We started decorating for Christmas, and we have the around-the-house stuff up as well as the Christmas tree up and lights on it...but no ornaments. Don't even get me started on gifts.

Jason is working furiously on assignments and prepping for exams. I have book club this weekend, three book reviews due in the next two weeks...and guess who hasn't finished any of those four books? And we've been spared this week, but the after-work engagements are coming soon...starting Tuesday, I believe...the same day as our office Christmas party.

Any advice for enjoying the holidays amidst all the holiday craziness? Right now, I've just been trying to breathe deeply, but I think I need to take further action!

Read from the beginning...