Sunday, June 7, 2009

Hello, Dolly!

Before I launch into the next installment of Janel's fabulous (and rather neglected) blog, I would like everyone to congratulate my wonderful husband on passing his qualifying exams. (yay, Lee!) Now that that hurdle is behind him, he can regain a home life and we can regain a husband/father on a regular basis again. It is fabulous good fun, although life hasn't quite returned to "normal" yet. We're working on that. For now, we're just happy to have the worst over and Lee merely has to research and write his dissertation and he'll have a PhD.

OK, on to the blog...

I would like to announce we have added a new member to our family! No, I'm not pregnant, and no, I didn't pick up a free puppy from the grocery store parking lot. I have recently taken up doll-making. Yes, I know... I really should have at least 3 or 4 grandchildren before I head down THAT road, but what can I say? I have two daughters who have lots of dolly-playing years in front of them and I can't remember the last time I had so much fun on a craft project. So, a new hobby has been born. But back to our new arrival. She is a little 12 inch Waldorf doll named Mary Ann, and the girls love her.

What on earth is a Waldorf doll, you ask? They are soft dolls with molded faces and fairly neutral expressions so the child can imagine their doll to be happy, sad, sleeping, laughing, etc. They are made of natural materials and tend to fit children of certain ages and needs. Teething babies for infants, smaller sturdy dolls for toddlers, larger dolls with changes of clothing for little kids, heavy lavender-scented babies to sleep with, etc. They were developed as part of the Waldorf pedagogy, but to be honest I have no clue what that is beyond playing with these dolls.

So first off, I set out to gather materials. This was a lot more challenging than I originally anticipated. For most people it is easy as can be. Many sites such as,, and carry kits you can purchase that have all of your supplies assembled, you just have to pick your hair color and yarn type, skin tone, and eye color, and you will be sent a package with everything you need to create your doll, minus some basic supplies you can get anywhere. You can even pay for upgrades and have the wig pre-crocheted, the body pre-sewn, and the head pre-molded. With any crafting skill you should be able to finish your doll in a couple of days with all that work done for you!

Unfortunately for our family, one of the primary materials used in Waldorf dolls is wool. I am allergic to it and Ginny seems to be showing signs if it as well. Mohair yarn can be substituted, but I am only slightly more tolerant of that. So I began to collect supplies for a hypo-allergenic Waldorf doll. Amy Prentice at Dancing Rain Dolls recommended I work with bamboo as stuffing and cotton yarn for the hair. Thankfully Joann's and Hancock's Fabric both sell bamboo stuffing now as well as cotton and some bamboo yarns. I ordered a beautiful carmel skin tone fabric from Dancing Rain Dolls and stocked up on 5 new types of needles: 3 and 5" dollmaking needles, ball point pins, ball point sewing machine needles, and ball point embroidery needles, plus a thimble, a crochet hook, embroidery thread, some craft sand to weight the doll, some medical stockinette, and dental floss. I also purchased a pattern from Dancing Rain Dolls and would highly recommend it. It's simple to follow and is full of pictures and tips. Once your doll is done she also gives instructions and patterns for all sorts of clothes too. So with my mounds of new supplies in hand (that took over a month to gather after waiting for coupons, sales, and online orders), I finally got to crafting! Yay!

First off, the head. I sat down with my package of bamboo stuffing for a nice leisurely evening of head-crafting. No such luck. By the time I had a golf ball-sized wad of tightly-packed bamboo fiber I was sweating profusely and my hand was cramping up. One of my fingers kept locking in a most unnatural position for seconds at a time and I was sure I was giving myself arthritis. But I had read that first-timers always make their heads too soft and I was determined to get it right. My first mistake was using strips of bamboo that were too thin and would break instead of winding. I corrected that mistake about 3/4 of the way through and it was much smoother sailing from there. Finally, after 3 hrs of toiling over that ball of bamboo, I reached the right size and smoothness and shoved it in the stockinette. Phew. Then I just had to mold the face and I'd be set! Let's just say I did a good job packing that bamboo because I gave myself raw fingers trying to tie face-like dents in the ball with dental floss. When I finished I smelled vaguely of mint wax and was very proud of my little emerging face complete with chubby cheeks, chin and forehead. You would stitch on a nose at this point but mine didn't make it on for another couple of days.

Next up, crocheting the wig cap. Normally this would be put off until the end I guess, but I was waiting for my skin tone fabric to show up. I have crocheted a little in the past; just a simple chain stitch for hats and scarves. This time I got to learn a new stitch and caught on pretty fast. I had to frog it a few times (in other words, grab onto your yarn and pull hours of work out in seconds) because I kept making it too large for the doll's head. Also I used worsted weight at first, so it looked more like a Rastafarian beanie than hair. After about 6 hrs spent trying to get the worsted weight to work, I switched to boucle yarn and the cap was done in 45 minutes.

The skin finally showed up. Honestly, it was fast shipping, but I was anxious to see what she would look like with her skin on and start creating a body. I ran out to the store for some matching Gutermann thread and spent the evening tracing and cutting body parts. Then the fun part... discovering the stretch stitch! Who knew there was a stitch right on my (um... that is, my mom's) machine that you can just sew right across stretchy knit like normal! It takes way longer because the machine is actually doing some backward and forward pattern, and the tight turns at the thumb, foot, etc were tricky to handle, but I was pretty excited. Lee was good enough to not roll his eyes when I exclaimed "LOOK!! It's still STRETCHY!" I was surprised that the doll really requires very little machine sewing. Actually you can probably fore go it altogether, but that would be a lot more time consuming.

Next up, stuffing! It's relatively straight-forward but I added small pouches of craft sand to give her a little extra weight. I only added a half pound of sand total distributed between her legs, arms, and belly and it gave her a nice sturdy feel without putting stress on her limbs or making her difficult for Ginny to carry around. I still plan on making Ginny a "heavy baby" to sleep with, but I'm glad I took the trouble to weight Mary Ann a bit too, even if she's mainly for playtime. Once the legs were stuffed, I made sure they were straight and even and sewed them by hand onto her body.

Have I mentioned how fun it was to do something so hands-on? I will always love sewing on a machine and scrapbooking on Photoshop, but there's something therapeutic about plopping down on the couch with a mug of tea, watching a movie with the family, and see a project pull together at the same time. It would drive me crazy to take more than 30 seconds to machine sew the line of stitches that holds Mary Ann's legs to her body, let alone the hour it took by hand, but I enjoyed every minute of it!

I quickly realized as I attemped to stuff the body with my sand weights and plenty of bamboo fiber that my neck piece, while sturdy enough to support the head, was far too big to fit inside. At this point I remade the neck two more times and finished off a roll of dental floss in the process. To be honest, I was happy to be done with it because it smelled oddly of pickles when you flossed your teeth with it. Thankfully you can't detect it on the finished doll. Later that night, Lee pulled out a new unopened package of the same pickle-smelling floss from the cabinet. Sigh. I guess there will be lots of doll-making in the future. After much shifting and stuffing and shoving and grumbling, I managed to get the highly-reduced neck inside the body along with the sand and bamboo without the doll looking half-giraffe. I stitched up the head fabric, sewed the neck in place, and voila!... it looks like a doll! Sort of.

Next up, facial features! I was half dreading and half looking forward to this part. The dread came from so many sources saying that you really need lots of practice to make a good face. This theory was backed up by quite a few "first Waldorf doll" attempts I found online with crooked and mismatched features. But I was still looking forward to seeing her with eyes and a mouth and seeing if I could actually pull off a good face. I also had been itching to try out those 5" doll making needles. I used pins to mark her eyes and mouth, so she looked a little buck-toothed at first. I wouldn't want the word to get around to her dolly friends, but Mary Ann actually has about 7 or 8 eyes stitched on to the back of her head underneath her wig. I took the advice of Joy at Joy's Waldorf Dolls and practiced back there before I attempted the face, and I am very glad I did! I started getting the hang of it around eye five, but even for all that practice, her right eye is slightly smaller than the left. Thankfully, I am by no means a perfectionist, so it only bothered me for an hour or two.

Hannah had been fascinated with this dolly-making process since I first looked into getting supplies. She would sit in my lap at my computer and we would browse through the Steiner Doll pool on Flickr and decide what sort of hair, skin, clothes, face, etc, Ginny's new dolly would have. Hannah was particularly fond of the Waldorf dolls that were given mermaid tails instead of legs and thought Ginny should get an Ariel dolly. Other times she would just give me a running commentary on the photos. "Brown hair dolly, Mommy!" "oooh, pretty princess dolly!" "Blue eyes, Mommy!" After a couple of photo-browsing sessions, she decided this would be a daily game and would crawl into my lap, point at the computer screen, and demand to look at dollies. Seeing one come to life in her own house was just way too much fun. As soon as the head was sewn onto the body, Hannah started giving her hugs and kisses and frequent rides on the zebra bounce n' spin. We cannot seem to convince her that Mary Ann is Ginny's doll, so I guess I'll be making Hannah one soon too. Every morning this week she has found the doll to see what new improvement happened overnight while she slept. New eyes, pretty hair, or even "orms"!

This is the point when I finally gave up my worsted-weight yarn crocheted wig and switched to boucle. Despite the fact that you (or at least I) cannot see the holes due to the fluffy wispy yarn texture, it came together very easily. Maybe it's because I had been practicing the new stitch all week trying to get that darn beanie cap thing to work. In any case, I soon pinned the wig in place and started stitching it on. Hannah declared the doll to be a girl at this point, so I guess I must have been on the right track.

During Hannah's and my Flickr search, we had found a doll with the most amazing hair. It was made up of many different hand-spun and dyed yarns of various kinds and textures, made very thick and stylable. I decided to immitate the look, but had some problem finding hypo-allergetic yarns to substitute, so in addition to the cotton yarn in her hair, she does have a variety of acrylic/nylon boucle. I tested each boucle in the store to see if they would unravel and they all did. This one, however, kept its shaped after unraveling, so I decided to try it. Unfortunately, after I got home I realized that unraveled it was too fragile and broke. So I had no choice but to knot the ends of each boucle strand of hair to keep them intact. It took a while, but the effect was worth it. She has awesome hair!

Once Mary Ann had a nice wig to play with, Ginny got interested. Her favorite game in the world is giving people "love-bonks" to show affection, as proven by the lovely line of bruises across her forehead, and mine too come to think of it. Some days it's more of a gentle lean in the direction of someone else's head until they touch. Other days it's a WHAM!!!! right out of the blue. Sometimes Hannah gets into it and they sit next to each other saying "bonk bonk bonk" and "bah bah bah" respectively, and bonking each others heads and giggling in glee. I don't get it. So far, this love-bonking is Ginny's favorite way to play with poor Mary Ann, but I am thankful for everyone's sake that she's finally smacking her head on something soft that can't feel pain. It's hard to tell in this picture, but the dolly is missing both her arms and 2/3 of her wig. Her new mama doesn't seem to mind though.

I know it's a little strange to choose a brown skin tone since Ginny is a little Snow White, but I figured there will be plenty of white dollies added to the house soon enough. There will come a day when she'll want a dolly that looks just like her, but for now she doesn't know the difference and I absolutely loved every doll I saw in this mocha skin tone. Plus, around here Ginny only has a few baby friends that are completely white, so Mary Ann should fit right in play dates!

Finally, the poor dolly got some arms! It seemed cruel to leave her helpless for so long, but Amy's pattern was right... they would have just gotten in the way before now. But unfortunately, the hair got in the way of putting on the arms. I guess you just can't win! The last step was giving the cheeks a youthful blush. The primary method of doing this requires a red beeswax crayon, but I just pulled out a mineral blush and a buki brush and applied liberally. So cute!

Lastly, she needed a name (and some clothes!) so I searched my old list of baby names for ones I liked but would never use or got vetoed by Lee and picked three. Lee once again vetoed one (even for a doll! I guess he was serious about not liking it!) and I posed the other two to the girls for a reaction. Ginny obviously thought hard about it as she bounced around on her zebra, but never gave a definitive answer. Hannah, however, voted for Mary Ann immediately.

Total hours clocked: 39.5

Welcome to the family, Mary Ann!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Hannah's bird stories

Hannah has never really told us stories before, but this week she has told me three! I don't remember what the first one was about and it was mostly jibberish, but here's the gist of her second two:

Hannah: A bird! He uh fly! (She starts soaring around like a plane.)
Me: Where is he going?
Hannah: No, Mommy, he uh FLY!!!
Me: Ok, where is he flying?
Hannah: Uh work!
Me: Really? What will he do there?
Hannah: He uh yucky, bleh! (This is what she says when she pretends to eat something that isn't normal to eat... crayons, daddy, stuffed animals, etc.)
Me: They ate him? oh no!
Hannah: (jibberish)
Me: I don't think they ate him, maybe he flew away. What's the bird's name?
Hannah: He uh FLY!!
Me: Yes, but what's his name?
Hannah: (after some debate) Monkey George! He uh NUMMY!!!

This morning:
Me: Hannah, tell Daddy your bird story!
Hannah: Oh, birdy, he uh FLY!
Me: Where did he go?
Hannah: Go uh store! Uh owie hand.
Me: Oh, he went to the store this time? What did he buy?
Hannah: Bird uh BLUE! Owie uh foot.
Me: He hurt his foot? Maybe he's buying band-aids?
Hannah: Uh fly bird. (She waves her hand over her head) Crayon doors. He uh climb fence.
Me: Tell me more.
Hannah: Bird monkey. He uh bird monkey, uh white bird!
Me: What's a bird monkey?
Hannah: He uh yucky! (some jibberish) Hannah uh dinosaur! (Bursts into song) "We ah dinosaur..." (ie Laurie Berkner's We Are the Dinosaurs song)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

On pianos, hymns and goose eggs

Since Hannah was born we have always sung hymns to put her to sleep or calm her down, even to the point where she considers a few hymns "Hannah's song" and will get upset if we sing one of them to Ginny. She loves hearing them sung in church or recognizing the melodies elsewhere. Lee and I both adore hymns and are thrilled she is developing a love for them as well.

This week we were given a free Wurlitzer piano. It is currently in Hannah's room although she will be moving to the larger back room when we have time. For the time being she loves having it at her immediate disposal and sits down to play several times a day and usually insists everyone else join her. While Hannah seems to use her mother's quieter playing style, Ginny inherited her father's rather boisterous method and the neighbors are probably regretting our Craigslist find already.

Today Ginny decided to break in the new piano in an entirely different fashion. She was through testing the sound of the keys, so she proceeded to use her forehead to test the hardness of the bench leg. Her scrape immediately turned dark blue and by the time her daddy got home she was sporting a nasty goose egg. But in the middle of her wails, I heard a very sweet little voice start to sing "Be Still My Soul." Hannah could think of no better way to comfort her poor little sister than her old favorite hymn and sang it very well for a barely-three year old. I immediately recognized the tune and she knew quite a bit of the lyrics. It was definitely one of those moments that makes me love being a mom.

Photo is from last week when Hannah dumped 1/2 a box of cheerios on the floor for Ginny to play with and they both thought it was the most hilarious thing they had ever seen. Crazy kids.

Monday, March 2, 2009

A little bit of chaos

I'm on a blogging kick today... already posted a couple things on my scrapbooking blog -- -- it will not normally be useful for non-scrappers, but today I featured a font site that is amazing if you want to download some sweet free fonts for other purposes.

Anyhow, since I'm already on blogger, I thought I'd give you a glimpse into the clean, orderly, organized world I live in.

As a preface, Hannah's birthday money got split three ways this year... she needed a pair of shoes and I found some adorable black leather Osh Kosh shoes for her for $10, she got to pick out a My Little Pony (that turned out to be very sparkly, very purple, very big-haired and covered in way too many stars... does that surprise anyone?), and we bought fabric to make her another princess dress. Does any single girl really NEED more than one princess dress, you ask? Yes. Obviously. Hannah lives and breathes princess. She wears her Snow White dress so much I have forgotten what her normal clothes look like. She even wears it to her grandparents' house and to the grocery store. It may actually be an extention of herself, I am not sure. She also has four pairs of princess high heels and is already better at using heels at barely three years old than I am at 27. So yes, she does need another one even if its sole purpose is to give Hannah clothing while her first dress is in the laundry. After about 2 seconds of diliberation she chose the "pink one" from "Thleeping Booty". No problem... I already had the pattern and thanks to Grandma Kim she already has shoes to match!

Fast forward to last night. Sewing was going well... I had used the pattern a couple of times before. Lee was entertaining the girls for me so Ginny wouldn't press the sewing machine foot for me and put rows of stitches in random spots on the dress. I just needed to sew on the collar and the peplum (ie that spiky dress layer at the waist on the Sleeping Beauty dress or the fluffy round things on Cinderella's hips) and have Hannah model to get the shoulder straps in the right place. Suddenly I yell out "AAAACCKKKK!!! I RUINED IT!!!" .... apparently my iron was too hot and the collar fabric shrunk to about half its size. Poo.

OK now we get to the chaos... ready?

This morning I packed the girls up to go back to the fabric store. Hannah refused to be parted from her Snow White dress and Snow White shoes, so we struck a compromise... the dress over pants and her new black shoes. Fine... it was going to be a quick trip anyhow. Hannah had other plans though. She wanted to rearrange the entire Joann's store... swapping thread colors, putting spray cans on ladders, unrolling fabric... yes, she was one of "those kids" today. Finally I stuck her in the cart and strapped her in so I could get our fabric cut. It turns out I grabbed dry-clean only and had to wait for the lady to come back with washable stuff. Meanwhile, Hannah is livid in the cart and screaming at the top of her lungs. Fabulous. My normal tricks don't work so we book it through the check out and head home. Just as we get on the freeway Hannah finally decides she wants to tell me something but is so worked up she can't get the words out. I play detective to see if it's a simple answer... Are you mad at Mommy? Are you hurt? Are you hungry? Do you need to go potty? Right before our exit I think she says she needs to pee, and sure enough, when we got home her carseat was soaked.

I worked my mommy-magic and in a few minutes both girls were pottied, changed, dry and in highchairs/boosters snacking on tofu and watching something ridiculous on youtube. Then Hannah informed me that she had to go potty again. So she did... all over her booster. Grrrrrrrrr! Then nap time... Ginny fell asleep for about 2 minutes then woke up when I put her in bed and refused to sleep for the rest of the afternoon. Hannah never slept at all. C'est la vie.

For some reason I decided to sew anyhow. The next hour I engaged in some sort of bizarre dance that involved keeping Ginny (in "attack mode" where she speedily crawls up and lunges for anything she thinks is worthy of being eaten) away from pins, scissors, and the hot iron and keeping Hannah from harming Ginny with her rapid switches from sharing necklaces and forcefully demanding them back. Finally, the collar was finished and Hannah announced once again that she needed to pee. I asked if she could do it herself so I could have time to get anything crucial out of Ginny's reach, but by the time I got to the bathroom, Hannah was tapdancing in a puddle of her own making. Of course I didn't see it before entering the bathroom, so I got to splash around too. And best of all, before I could stop the speedy little ankle-biter, Ginny crawled right in after us, slipped, and went face-first into the puddle.

Hannah got tossed in the shower first, then I got half-soaked dangling Ginny in the shower. The good news is, after she got cleaned up, dried and clothed again, Ginny went right down for a nap. I just left Hannah in the shower for a while. Now she's wandering the house in a towel.

But of course, I'm still determined to keep sewing.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

My last conversation with my grandpa

My grandpa died exactly 6 years and 16 days ago. His death was the most profound loss I have ever experienced and in a way it becomes worse as time passes. While the pain has healed, I will always be sad that he never got to meet my children or experience any of the other things that have happened since he passed. Most poignant of all, I will never be able to talk to him about things that had little significance to me when he was alive but now are much more important.

The last conversation we had before his death did not seem unusual at the time, but since it ended up being our last conversation it has stuck in my mind. We talked about my life and his life, and specifically about his spiritual life. I have come to realize through that conversation that I mirror much of his skepticism even if I keep it hidden. There are very large portions of the Bible that I cannot shout a hearty "amen!" to. There are parts that turn my stomach and unsettle me to the core. I know it is true and cannot help but believe it, but were it not for that important fact, I would very much like to turn a blind eye to scripture. I cannot deny it so I try to swallow the whole thing as it is and trust that God knows what He's doing even if my mind cannot fathom it.

I would like to know my Grandpa's secret... how did he find a relationship with God sweet and pure when I know he struggled with scripture until the very end? I know he died at peace with God, so I have hope for myself. Still, realization comes too late and I won't be able to ask him about it until after I have it figured out for myself. But in the end, I imagine that's all he would tell me. It is my turn to find God and no one else can lead me there.

So where do I begin? Lent seems like the perfect season to start a journey of this kind. For the first time I am spending the 6 1/2 weeks preceding Easter in preparation for celebrating the resurrection. I am hoping to leave my past ideas about spiritual life behind and come away with some joy instead. I am also intending to finally visit my grandpa's grave and say a long-overdue goodbye.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Adventures in photography

My interest in photography began in France in 2002. My friend/roommate during our study abroad had just completed a photography course and was a fountain of newly-acquired knowledge. I had an old point-and-shoot film camera, so while her tips didn't improve the quality of my pictures I was able to play with perspective and motion. Paris was a fabulous subject to practice on but my pictures were nowhere near what I hoped they would be.

That year I bought a low-end film SLR and started attempting some more serious photo shooting. It was slow going since there was often weeks between taking a picture and getting it developed. There was no way of knowing (without writing down every detail) why my some pictures turned out horrible and others were amazing. Before Hannah was born, we were given a digital point-and-shoot camera and I never used my SLR again. I swore I would take up photography again one day, but maybe not with a newborn to care for.

Last May, two days before Ginny was born, I got my digital SLR thanks to a nice tax return. The newborn problem presented itself again and I didn't venture outside automatic mode for months. Finally, in November I took the plunge. I still use automatic for some indoor flash photography, but a greater percentage of the manual pictures are turning out and I am starting to get some "cool" shots too. It's fun and I'm getting so much better pictures of the kids now!

Here's some photos from today's trip to the park: (you'll have to click on the first few to see the whole picture)




Today I learned that even if the light is good, you still have to keep the kids out of the shadows. I ended up with blue shadows all over Ginny's face in quite a few pictures, like this:

But it looks cute as a B&W:

This one I just edited the blue out in Photoshop.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The #1 best-seller in America

After months of hearing women and girls of all ages sing the praises of the best-selling Twilight series, my curiosity overcame me and I borrowed the first novel from a friend. I admit that just reading the back cover made me want to return it, but having gone so far as to obtain a copy I figured I might as well go through with it. I will openly admit I had very little hope of enjoying the read, but I had to find out why all of my friends and family, ages 10 to 50, who had read it had fallen in love with a fictional teenager.

I have nothing against the vampire genre. Bram Stoker's Dracula is a fabulous book. Yes, I know it's also a classic and hardly in the realm of pop-culture vampire lore, but the fact that there were vampires in the book did not turn me away. However, the teen romance aspect did. I found it extremely difficult to take the romance seriously. Besides the obvious problem of age difference, my main skepticism was that the two were on speaking terms for a mere couple of days before suddenly they were so in love she was willing to give up her life and family to be with him forever. Maybe this is just a personal preference, so I'll leave it at that.

After reading a few sentences I was already appalled at the writing. But fear not, my dear little children, should your sentences grow short and dull, should your word variation and vocabulary shrink, should you repeat the word "was" on a single page 45 times, surely you will not feel the wrath of an editor's red ink. Nay! Even if your grammar should imitate that of a casual email your writing shall not perish, but rather be blessed! It shall soar on the wings of an eagle to the very pinnacle of the best-sellers lists and shall be praised by a hundred thousand tongues! For the readers of this land are both merciful and forgiving to the unskilled writer and shall not look down on your six word sentences, nay, not even those with five! All such grievances will pass away before a sexy and romantic vampire who needs neither grammar nor plot to engrave his name upon the hearts of the women of this country. Ahem. I mean, Amen.

Ahhhhh.... the plot. This is my favorite part and I have to say I am thrilled to have the blog medium at my disposal just now. I can take a deep breath and state my points at leisure with no chance of an interruption. I had read about half of Twilight when I stopped to recount everything that had occurred thus far. The last 300 pages had gone by in a breeze since I had no long words to stumble over and no complex sentence structure to navigate. I sat back and realized (I must warn you now that I am about to reveal huge plot spoilers) that nothing had happened. Nothing! The main character, Bella, moved to town, spent a few weeks in school, met some people and had her life saved twice by Edward the vampire and got a crush. Surely that didn't take 300 pages, you say. You're right, it took more like 400. As filler, the author had Edward (or his fellow vampires) behave in an unexplained or unusual way. A short while later, the action is explained in a long conversation. Then, along comes Edward doing something strange again! Sure enough, the next chapter he has a heart-to-heart with Bella to explain it. Or maybe it was his sister that explained it. Or she did the strange thing and the mom explained it... I'm getting it a bit confused. In any case, I found this method for engaging readers rather tedious if you realize what the author is doing.

Fast forwarding past the first 3/4 of the book, Meyers finally decides to try her hand at action. She introduces her villain at this point, a "bad" vampire who decides Bella must die. Then, in a barely suspenseful turn of events reminiscent of TV crime shows, the "good" vampires fail to keep Bella safe and she ends up alone with the bad guy about to die. So what does our most evil of recently-introduced villains do? He launches into that age-old tradition, the I'm-about-to-kill-you speech! What a glorious moment. The bad vampire from Twilight united with villains from Spiderman to Disney movies to James Bond to Zoolander. In those crucial minutes while the good guys are fighting to get to the end scene before it's too late, our villain is spilling his secrets to our poor protagonist just in case she wanted to clear some things up before she has the life blood sucked out of her. How very sweet of him! It's too bad for Bad-Vampire, all that talking gave Edward enough time to sweep in a save Bella's life yet again leaving room for a nearly-touching hospital scene and, of course, a sequel or two or three.

So what about Edward? He says all the right words at the right times and has a "bad boy" streak, so what's not to love? He's a bit smothering and over-protective for my liking. I also find no appeal in hugging or kissing someone who is icy cold. I guess I just lucked out. I am already married to a man who has Edward beat hands-down. He is lacking the bad-boy streak but that's way more trouble than it's worth anyway.