Friday, April 11, 2014

The Quest for Skye: Chapter 37

Recap: Well, in the last chapter, Morgan hired two cruise ship gym workers to build a handicap-accessible zip line in the jungle. Then the gym workers got married. And I just kept saying, "WHAT IS HAPPENING?!" On the plus side, we have this, then the final chapter two weeks from today. 

We open with a reminder that Skye is dying, which makes me go, "Yay!"
Morgan held Skye, so that the three of them could decorate a Christmas tree in her room.
The next sentence talks about her decorating the tree, so I think this means he's holding her up to put decorations on because he can't walk anymore, but it makes me think that he's holding her back because if he lets go she's just going to run rabidly at the tree and tear it down, and they just all want to decorate the tree in peace.

Skye has another near-death experience. She pulls through, but everyone is reminded yet again that Skye is dying. Presumably this reminds everyone once again to be working on a cure for Batten, because they only seem to remember that they're doing that right after Skye almost doesn't make it.

In the middle of the night, Skye wakes the Hamiltons up to say this:
“No, thank you. I need to tell you something really important. I was just talking to Jesus, and He asked me if there was anything in the world I wanted. I told him there was only one thing. [..] I don’t think I can tell you yet. It’s a secret between Jesus and me. But it’s a big surprise.”
Her big news is that she asked for something from God? But she won't tell them what? I'm going to start doing that all the time now. "Hey! Guess what? I'm going to do something today! But I won't tell you what it is! That's all I wanted to say!" Morgan and Tammy think Skye's not even really talking to Jesus, that her medication is making her hallucinate.
Once in a while, Skye would say something about her mother and father. She mentioned repeatedly that she’d been talking with them.
Does she just keep wandering up into heaven during all these near-death experiences?
Tammy put some color on her face, and a little foundation. She applied some lip gloss to her dried, cracked lips. Her mom brushed her hair, while Morgan read her favorite book to her.
There are entirely too many "her"s in these sentences, made even more confusing by suddenly referring to Tammy as "her mom." For a minute I thought Tammy's mom had shown up to brush Tammy's hair.
They made their way to the dining room. It was busy, but not a chipper place, as it usually was. Everyone walked around like something or someone was missing. The smiles were forced. It was obvious that everyone was worried about their friend, Skye.
See, here's the thing.

EVERY PATIENT HERE IS DYING.

It's not just all about Skye. Skye is maybe even going to die less soon than all these other girls, since she'd been getting the special medication.

There's something really horrific everyone being "chipper" about every single other little girl at the clinic dying, but only getting sad when Skye is about to be gone. Yes, I know Skye is the Messiah and all, but I just can't buy that, for example, all the other girls' parents are sadder about Skye dying than about their own children dying.

In the meantime, we suddenly break away from Morgan and Tammy's POV (for the first time since maybe that first chapter, so it's really jarring) and see Skye asking Dr. Rozak to let her videotape a secret message for the Hamiltons. Dr. Rozak agrees and leaves. She records her message (we don't get to hear what it is), puts the camera and a written message inside an envelope and makes Dr. Rozak promise to open it after she dies. I think. These are the instructions:
“I have a big job for you. You can open this after I die. [...] Don’t open the envelope until you’re supposed to. Then, you can read the letter.” 
“Skye, how will I know when to open it?” His expression showed his confusion. 
“You’ll know. Something extraordinary will happen. Now, don’t forget. We are looking for miracles here... that’s very important.” 
She looked at him, shaking her finger. “Not until the miracle happens, right?”
Wait, so is he supposed to open it after she dies? Or when a miracle happens? If a miracle happens before she dies, can he open it? If she dies, can he go ahead and open it, or does he need to wait for a miracle? If I were Dr. Rozak, I'd have been very confused. Although not at the point when he was confused.

"Open it after I die."

"Wait, what? When can I open it?"

"After a miracle."

"I UNDERSTAND NOW."

The days go by, and Skye scolds Tammy about not praying enough, so eventually Tammy goes to the chapel and prays emotionally.

Christmas Eve morning, Dr. Rozak wakes up Morgan to let him know that Skye's vitals are down. She's conscious and awake and asking for him. Skye sits with the Hamiltons for awhile, tells them not to be sad, to take care of her cat, makes Morgan promise to walk on the beach every morning, makes them both promise not to abandon the clinic. Then:
“Just remember if you ever need me, all you have to do is reach for the sky.”
Um. OK.

(Is that what she was doing in the creepy "everyone reach for the sky with me" scene on the cruise ship? Was she just needing dead people?)

She then starts talking to her real parents and tells Doctor L. L. she's going to go to heaven and fly a kite with him. And then she dies.

SKYE IS FINALLY GONE.

FINALLY.

Now we only have 2 more chapters of Morgan and Tammy being sad and having conversions and stuff. Oh, shoot, I forgot we have a video message they have to watch. So I guess Skye will show up at least once in these last two chapters. Dang it. I thought we were done with her forever. ALMOST.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Favorite Songs of 2014 (Thus Far)

Whenever I fall in love with a song, I mark it five stars on iTunes. I have an iTunes smart playlist (which are super awesome and if you have iTunes and don't use smart playlists you are MISSING OUT ON HOW TO DO MUSIC...or something) that keeps all my five-star-rated songs from the year, indicating that these are the songs I really loved in any given year.

We are a fourth of the way through the year, so I figured I'd share with you guys my favorite discoveries of 2014 so far. I was going to write a little blurb about each one and why I love it, but arthritis is breaking my fingers a li'l bit right now, so you'll just have to settle for video clips. You'll just have to guess why I love them.

So here they are, my favorite songs of January-March 2014:

Let It Go from Frozen


Frozen Heart from Frozen



Royals by Lorde



When I Grow Up from Matilda



Cop Car by Keith Urban
(I know, I know, I usually hate country songs, but for some reason I REALLY like this one)



Let It Go by Caleb Hyles



You Haven't Seen the Last of Me from Burlesque



Mr. Chu by A Pink

 


What have you been listening to lately?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Do Extroverts Feel Pressured to Speak? (And Other Questions For My Extrovert Friends)

In the midst of all these articles about "things introverts have to deal with," someone pulled together a similar article about extroverts, and one part in particular caught my eye:
When there’s a lull in the conversation, do you know who starts it back up again? The extrovert does. However, being the engine and the fuel for social gatherings can be extremely tiring and feel like a lot of work, so sometimes it would be nice for us extroverts to be allowed a break and have other people take over (though, for some of us, not talking can be quite the challenge).
The first time I read this article, it was actually from a blog by an introvert who was responding to the article, and they had basically the same response I did: Do we need to keep the conversation going?

This led to a few other thoughts which I kept hoping would solidify into a coherent theme, but it really hasn't yet, so here they are in no order at all.
  • I know for me, as an introvert, I feel definite pressure to keep most conversations going, but that's because I assume I'm talking to someone more extroverted than I am (because everyone is more extroverted than I am). But I really would be just as happy not talking if I have nothing to say. The pressure I feel to keep up the conversation is entirely external -- I assume other people want me to keep talking, so I try. When extroverts feel pressure to talk, is it mostly external or internal? Do they feel like they should talk because they think I want conversation, or do they feel like they should talk because they want conversation? Or a little of both? Because, hey, I'm totally fine with occasional silence if you are.
  • When I spend time with introverted friends, it's quite common for us, after the initial burst of conversation, to spend much of our time together in the same room but doing individual things, laptops open or books in hand, with the opportunity to lapse back into conversation as it arises. Does this count as social interaction for extroverts? Or does their interaction need to be more driven/active? How necessary is conversation to the feeling of having spent time with someone?
(I was hoping I could find a picture of me and a friend on computers together,
but this is the closest I found. Anyway, I'M socializing while on the computer here...
I'm not sure what Jacob is doing. Posing? Stretching?)
  • Which is more socially fulfilling for an extrovert: constant conversation with someone about something you don't really care about (because, watch out, you get some of us introverts talking about something we love and we can go on for hours) or scattered moments of conversation you're interested in interspersed with long silences? I would always choose the latter, but are extroverts more likely to find that uninterrupted social interaction is worth it, no matter the subject?
I am kind of fascinated by this and would really love any of my friends who consider themselves more on the extroverted side of things to chime in with any thoughts of their own. Introverted friends, feel free to ask the extroverts in your life and report back to me on what they say. I'd like to post a follow-up blog next week with some of the comments.

I am so far on the introverted side of things that sometimes I'm reminded that I really have very little concept of what it's like to see things from the other side. I'm sure it varies from person to person, but I'd love to get some feedback.

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Quest for Skye: Chapter 36

Recap: Morgan and Tammy took Skye on a little visit to Florida, where she was reunited with her favorite kissing dolphin and played the piano with Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Now they're all sad because she's going to die soon. Frankly, I can't wait.

They all come back to the clinic and Morgan tells Lance that he wants to do like a Make-a-Wish foundation kind of thing for all the girls at the clinic, not just Skye.
"So, if I’m in charge here that’s one of the conditions. I want to see their dream fulfilled."
Um, I'm pretty sure he and Tammy already signed all the papers and stuff. There's no more "setting conditions" for him to take this job. He's had it and has had it for several months now. Which means he's now... subtly threatening to quit if Lance doesn't give in to him on this? Fortunately (or unfortunately, not sure which) Lance has no objections to this.

Morgan apparently has another big surprise up his sleeve, because he gets a phone call, tells Lance and Tammy to change into casual clothes, and tells Dr. Rozak he needs to take Skye out for the afternoon. This is like, immediately after they've returned. Skye probably hasn't even unpacked yet. Dr. Rozak is a little hesitant about letting her go back out and party or whatever in her weakened state.
“Do I need to be concerned with what you have planned?” 
“Well, do you remember what we talked about a few weeks ago?” Morgan asked.
Wait, hold up now. The trip to Florida wasn't what they were all secretively talking about? His secret trip to Athens and request to take Skye away for awhile weren't related to that at all? He has another secret? Whatever this one is, it apparently involves all the children, but only Skye gets to go out for the afternoon.

When Morgan announces he has another surprise for Skye, this happens:
[S]he tried to jump up and down, but didn’t have the energy.
I am probably not supposed to cheer that the horrible debilitating disease is making Skye less obnoxious, but...

Skye suddenly hears a familiar voice and turns around to find Gym Kim and Zack (remember them from the cruise ship?) are there.
“Your dad asked us to come. We actually have been here for three days,” Zack replied.
I have this mental image of them just hiding in a closet somewhere until they got the OK to come out into the world.
“Three days, and you haven’t come by to visit. Why?” She frowned deliberately.
Well, SHE HAS BEEN GONE. They would have had to fly to Florida to visit her three days ago.

Rothdiener has completely lost track of his time frame. Skye and the Hamiltons returned to the island, Lance came by to see Morgan "upon his return," which to me implies like... pretty much right away, especially since they all live on the island, so it's not even implied that he'd have to wait to see him until the next business day. From his conversation with Lance, he rushes to talk to Dr. Rozak, and immediately after his conversation with Rozak, Skye wanders in, and then Zack and Kim showed up.

When, exactly, did Skye think Zack and Kim should have visited her?

Anyway, instead of saying, "You weren't even in this country three days ago" like a sensible human, Zack explains that they have been busy "building something" for her and her friends. Dr. Rozak orders everyone in the clinic outside because everyone's going on a field trip.
“What about lunch?” Tammy inquired. 
Morgan stepped in. “Ah, if you notice, you can’t smell any food cooking. We’re going on a picnic.” 
Tammy peered at her husband. “You thought of everything, didn’t you?”
"I'm so proud of you for remembering that children need to eat!" Seriously, that's kind of a weird thing to praise him for.

Anyway, the kids all get loaded up into vans and get driven away somewhere, all trying to guess where they're going and what Zack and Gym Kim have been building.
When Skye saw how futile their guessing was, she started singing. The other kids in her van joined in song as they traveled the streets of the town waving at everyone they saw.
"Everyone they saw"? They talk like this is an actual city full of just random people. The only inhabitants of this island are the patients, patients' families, clinic workers, and probably some maintenance people. The patients and clinic workers are all in the vans, so basically they're just waving at maintenance people and like 10 girls' parents, all of whom appear to be outside at the same time.

At the edge of a forest, they stop and have a picnic.
There were plenty of hotdogs and burgers with all the side dishes.
...ALL the side dishes?

Morgan gets up to give a speech.
“Right now, I’m fulfilling a promise.” 
His wife gave him an affirmation nod, but it was Skye’s big thumbs-up that almost sent him over the edge.
..."Over the edge"?

What is WITH Rothdiener's choice of words in this chapter?

Skye gives Morgan a thumbs-up to the concept of him fulfilling a promise and he... what? Loses his mind? WHY? I don't even know what he's going over the edge of, but all I can picture is him like completely losing control and finishing the speech in some sort of hysterical tone of voice, and it's ridiculous, and I don't know why a thumbs-up would break him like that.
“When I decided to put this secret project in motion, one name jumped out at me. It needed to be done safely. I recalled a conversation I had with Zack on a cruise almost eighteen months ago, and I knew he was the perfect man for the job.” 
He glanced at the friendly faces before him. Some of the children were weakening fast, others still appeared healthy.
Well, maybe he shouldn't have yanked them away from the hospital to make them eat ALL THE SIDE DISHES.

And we FINALLY get a reveal: Zack and Gym Kim have built a zip-line for the kids.

Hold up.

HOLD UP.

OK, first of all, a zip-line does not seem like a terribly safe thing to put kids on when they have a disease that causes blindness, dementia, and loss of motor control. It seems like it would be very likely to be either traumatizing or dangerous or both.

Secondly, if you WERE going to do that, YES, you would have to do it "safely," but why the heck is Zack the right man for the job?! I went back and searched the whole book -- Morgan never even MET Zack. He met Gym Kim, he saw Zack from across the room, and Skye raved that Zack was a hunk, but he never met him.

Also, Zack and Gym Kim are personal trainers. In a gym on a cruise ship. In what world does this qualify them to safely build (apparently entirely by themselves) a zip-line for children who may no longer have control of their own bodies?

MORGAN IS THE WORST ADMINISTRATOR IN THE WORLD.'

Seriously, this is the kind of thing an administrator is supposed to be able to do intelligently. Figure out what needs to get done, figure out who can do it, and delegate it. That is not supposed to consist of saying, "Oh, hey, I saw a personal trainer from across a gym one time. Maybe I should call him and ask him to come out here to personally build a zip-line when I have no reason to believe he knows anything about it. That won't endanger the lives of the children I'm taking care of at all."

Zack does explain that everything is handicap accessible, so the kids in wheelchairs can still go, but still, I don't know that I'd have much faith placed in a zip-line built in three days by a random gym worker who has shown no interest in zip-lining thus far.

After everybody zip-lines and, miraculously, nobody dies, the Hamiltons and Skye and Zack and Gym Kim all go out to dinner, where Zack reveals that he and Gym Kim are going to get married there on the island that Sunday, and Skye is going to be their flower girl.

I just... I don't have the energy to snark at this anymore. This is just another completely ridiculous plot point, and there's no reason they would have had their wedding there. If Jacob had said to me a week before our wedding, "Hey, would you like to fly to a random island that is the home of a random little girl we met once like a year and a half ago? We can spend the week before our wedding building a zip-line for children with rare diseases, and then we can get married on that island with none of our friends there but at least that little girl we met once will be our flower girl and she can play the piano for us too!" I'm pretty sure I would have just laughed heartily in his face.

Of course Skye plays the piano at their wedding, and it's lovely, and then everybody goes home.

I will leave you with this highly amusing piece of writing that is supposed to be about Skye hugging Tammy before she goes to bed, but I prefer to read it as the little girl calmly strangling her to death.
She grabbed hold of her mom’s neck, closing her eyes, unwilling to let go.
14. Pages. Left.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

My Top 8 Disney Soundtracks

I've written about Disney music before, on my blog post My Top 10 Disney Songs Sung by Males, but I wanted to make a list detailing the best Disney soundtracks overall. Sometimes a movie will have just one or two solid songs, while others seem to be just awesome all the way through. So, without further ado, here are my favorite Disney soundtracks overall, building from least favorite (of these eight) to most favorite.


8. Tarzan
(songs by Phil Collins)

Breaking with Disney tradition a bit, Tarzan only had two of its songs actually being performed by the characters in the movie, while the rest were presented as regular pop songs scoring the action, in typical movie soundtrack fashion. However, I actually really enjoyed all the songs, even though the characters didn't sing them. They're energetic and upbeat and fun to listen to even outside of the context of the story.

That being said, though, my favorite song from the movie is one of the ones the characters actually perform. I'm a sucker for musical numbers that take their musical cues from what is physically happening in the scene -- such as, in this case, discovering that destroying various objects in rhythm is fun. (I wrote a lot about this in my musical spotlight of The Music Man, where a lot of the songs do this.) The song is short, but fun... and the a capella pop cover by Phil Collins and N*Sync is actually one of my very favorite silly pick-me-up songs.

Favorite song: "Trashin' the Camp."


7. Frozen
(songs by Kristen Anderson Lopez and Robert Lopez)

This one might be a bit cliched to pick at the moment, as everyone and their dog is in love with Frozen, but I really do think this is the first great Disney soundtrack we've had in years, after the disappointingly bland Tangled (c'mon, Alan Menken, you are MUCH better than that) and the fun-but-not-memorable The Princess and the Frog (it's less surprising that Randy Newman's score wasn't awesome). I've loved Robert Lopez's theater work, so it's not at all surprising that I fell in love with the songs he and his wife pulled together for this.

It's not all about "Let It Go," though. "In Summer" is just the right length to be a funny, entertaining sidekick song without getting annoying, "Love Is An Open Door" is a perfect tribute to Disney love ballads, and "Frozen Heart" captured my attention right from the beginning of the movie. Great stuff.

Favorite song: ...Yeah, it's still "Let It Go." I don't know anyone doesn't love that song.


6. The Hunchback of Notre Dame
(songs by Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz)

It's not as all-around solid as some of the later additions on this list, but a few of the songs in here are absolutely drop-dead gorgeous... not to mention "A Guy Like You," which, despite my hatred for the existence of the gargoyles in this movie, is one of my favorite songs on the soundtrack. It's just so much fun to dance and sing along with.

Aside from that one song (which, though delightful, doesn't really fit in with the rest of the soundtrack... much as the gargoyles don't fit with the rest of the movie), the score has a lovely dark tone to it, creating a beautifully atmospheric backdrop for the story.

Favorite song: "Out There."


5. A Goofy Movie
(songs by Tom Snow, Jack Feldman, Patrick DeRemer & Roy Freeland)

I mentioned my unusual love for these songs on my Disney guy songs blog, and it's still true. Aside from the not-as-awesome-as-the-rest "On the Open Road" (though I still go through spurts where I thoroughly enjoy it), the songs featured in the movie are some of my very favorites to listen to. There are two Michael Jackson-esque pop songs that are infectiously catchy and then two more typical Disneyesque songs that I love with pretty much all my heart.

This ends up being a weirdly hard one to defend because, first, the movie itself is not so great and, second, nobody but me seems to actually enjoy the songs. But I still love it, and it makes me feel cool to have a less traditional pick in my list, since the top four on my list are unlikely to surprise anyone.

Favorite song: "After Today." Maybe my #1 Disney song ever. EVER. It is almost impossible for me to still feel sad after listening to that song.


4. The Little Mermaid
(songs by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman)

Alan Menken in the eighties and nineties was freaking AWESOME. The Little Mermaid has not only some of the most iconic Disney songs, but also truly some of the best. "Poor Unfortunate Souls" is a really fantastic villain song, "Part of Your World" is probably the best I-want-more-out-of-life song Disney's ever produced, and "Les Poissons," although short, is hilarious.

And, of course, we can't forget my favorite song from the show, which gave us one of the most tremendously entertaining animated song sequences of all time. The lyrics are clever, the music is fun, it builds from a funky little number into an enormous sing-along involving, apparently, the entire population of the ocean. It's a delightful song that always put a smile on my face.

Favorite song: Well, if you hadn't guessed by now, you probably haven't seen the movie. It's "Under the Sea."


3. Aladdin
(songs by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman and Tim Rice)

This one went back and forth with The Little Mermaid as to which was going to be #3 and which was going to be #4. In the end, though, this one came out on top, because while "A Whole New World" isn't as good a ballad as "Part of Your World," the fun songs in this are just so much fun. "Friend Like Me" is entertaining, though Robin Williams' many-voiced performance is a little much, "Prince Ali" has wonderful lyrics and a wonderful grandiose feel to it...

The cream of the crop, however, was yet another one mentioned in my Best Guy Disney Songs blog, a fast-paced, energetic, delightful song that follows Aladdin as he runs through the streets of Agrabah. It captures the sense of adventurous playfulness that is at the heart of not only Aladdin himself, but the entire movie. The only thing missing from this soundtrack is a great villain song.

Favorite song: "One Jump Ahead."


2. The Lion King
(songs by Elton John and Tim Rice)

OK, let me preface this by saying I don't like "Hakuna Matata" much. I think it's fun but there's not a lot of actual song to the song -- it's like 90% just repeating the catchy chorus over and over with dialogue in between. However, all the other songs on this soundtrack are so good that it just kept scooting its way up until it was in second place.

"Circle of Life" is one of my favorite opening movie songs ever. It perfectly sets the tone for the majestic opening scene, and the gorgeous animation matches it beautifully. It's just a breathtakingly great way to start off the movie. Usually I'd be uninterested in a pop ballad like "Can You Feel the Love Tonight," but it works perfectly in the movie's context, and I've grown to really love its simple melody. And "I Just Can't Wait To Be King" is so cheerful and fun and captures the feel of being young and (stupidly) carefree.

But best of all is The Best Disney Villain Song Of All Time. Ever. Gives me chills every time I watch the clip.

Favorite song: "Be Prepared."


1. Beauty and the Beast
(songs by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman)

Yup, the Menken/Ashman team managed to create three amazing movie soundtracks in four years, but this one is by far my favorite. There's not a single song here I don't really, really love. The title song is simple and elegant and beautiful. There are two amazing villain songs -- one comedic and one dramatic, and it's always a toss-up which one I'll love more on any given day. "Be Our Guest" is pretty much the definition of a show-stopping number. Even "Belle," which is a little bit lower if I were to put all the songs in order, is a wonderfully energetic number that does a great job of introducing us to our main character and who she is in the context of her world.

The lyrics are intelligent and fun, the music is memorable and gorgeous and delightful, and I have perhaps never had more fun being part of an ensemble than when I got to be in this show and hear these songs every night. There truly is a magic to them for me.

Favorite song: Guys, I'm not even sure I can choose one. So for now I'm going to go with "Beauty and the Beast," because I haven't had a lot of songs sung by girls on this list and it is so pretty.

Which ones would be on your list?

Monday, March 31, 2014

This Too Shall Pass. This Too Shall Pass. This Too Shall Pass.

Guys, this past week has been a rough one.

A series of crazy scary life circumstances suddenly sprang up at me and Jacob out of nowhere and left me constantly tense, anxious, and on edge all week long. I'm still adjusting.

Sleep has been eluding me. I've been averaging 4 hours or so a night for the last week and a half. That doesn't generally help with life coping.

The whole World Vision fiasco happened, which I found so distressing that I had to run away from social media for a day because every time I read something about it it just made me sadder and sadder.

And depression is definitely back for a visit. And it is hitting HARD.

When depression happens to coincide with actually difficult circumstances, it can be just really, really hard to keep convincing yourself that everything will be OK. Other people offer you solutions and prayer, and it's easy to get cynical about it and think, "Sure, maybe things will work out for them, but everything will be bad for me forever."

I just have to keep telling myself it won't be bad forever.

Because it won't.

Pffft, it's not even that bad right now. I can deal with any one of these things that attacked me this week. It's just when they're all together that it gets overwhelming, and the depression grabs a hold of that and says, "You know how crappy you feel this week? That's how you'll feel for the rest of your life!"

But it's not true.

This week, everything that happens may be making me very sad, but at some point, someday, something is going to happen that makes me very happy. And someday, the things that are making me sad at this moment are going to seem very far away.

Someday.

Maybe even by the time this blog posts.

If not, maybe by the end of the week.

If not, maybe by the middle of the month.

But it will happen, and I'll be OK.

(...Although if blog posts are a little scarce until things are OK, that's why.)

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Quest for Skye: Chapter 35

Recap: In the last chapter, Morgan and Tammy took Skye to Florida to reunite her with that dolphin she kissed way back when. Then the Hamiltons talked to each other a lot about how Skye is super nice and appreciates life and stuff and decided that was what Lance meant when he said she was the key to the whole thing. That made me want to throw my laptop across the room in frustration at the book. I did not, but I WANTED TO.

The chapter opens with Tammy waking Skye up and telling her they're going to get her hair, nails, and makeup done, which leads to an incredibly awkwardly-written moment where Skye asks if putting makeup on means she'll be growing breasts soon. Tammy quickly sidesteps the whole puberty question (which I guess is OK since Skye is probably going to be dying in the next couple weeks anyway) and instead says they're all going somewhere special tonight.

Tammy presents her with a dress, which Skye pronounces a "Christmas dress." We're given no description of the dress, so I'm not sure what makes it a Christmas dress. It's probably just red and green, but part of me hopes it resembles a horrific Christmas sweater with reindeer and Santa heads knitted all over it. Whatever it looks like, Tammy has an identical dress, so yay for matching.
The girls spent the next couple hours getting their hair and nails done. It was hard telling who was having more fun, the stylists, or the Hamiltons.
Well, uh, probably the Hamiltons. Why would the stylists be that excited about it? Except for the Pure and Untarnished Joy of Just Being Near Skye, I guess.
When they were finished with their girl-time, they continued to giggle all the way back to their room.
And this is one of those awkward writing details that sounds fine until you start thinking about it. There's no reason for them to be giggling. If they're giggling just from the sheer excitement of having visited a beauty salon, that excitement should have died down into a quiet happiness long before the time they're actually heading back to their room. Or have they been giggling throughout the entire appointment? If so, I can pretty much guarantee you they had more fun than the stylists. A women and a girl doing nothing but giggling at each other for no reason for like 30-45 minutes straight has got to be not only annoying, but kind of creepy after a certain point.

Later that night, Tammy reveals her new style to Morgan and he is blown away by how beautiful she is and wants to kiss her, but she won't let him because it's far more important that he see how beautiful Skye is. Turns out she's also gorgeous and Morgan compliments her, and Skye once more laments that she doesn't have the body yet to fill out the dress.

They go out to dinner, and the paparazzi papparaz Skye at the restaurant. The security guards get super aggressive about it, throwing the cameras on the ground and literally pushing the photographers out the door.
While eating, they discussed funny things that happened on the cruise and reminisced about more recent events.
Skye's really into reminiscing about this cruise. She reminisced about it while she was on it. Now they've all been living together for several months and must have other stories to reminisce about with each other, but, nope, it's all about the cruise again. The cruise that they were only on together for like a week. I get the feeling that if this was in the real world, it would mean that every other day Skye'd say, "Hey, remember that cruise?" and Morgan and Tammy would reply, "Sigh. Yes. We remember it. We only talk about it every day."

The Hamiltons then blindfold Skye and drive her somewhere in a limo, and it turns out that they got her tickets to see Trans-Siberian Orchestra, which just so happened to be playing in the same area as the Jamaican dolphin lived, so that's nice.
Too overwhelmed to speak, she jumped to her feet and threw her arms around her mom and dad.
And the people behind her were probably like, "SIT DOWN YOU'RE IN MY WAY!"

Oh, and then, the band invites her onstage to play one of their songs at the piano for them. So that's nice too.
Like a little lady, Skye moved in front of the piano bench , straightened her flowing dress, and sat down.
She used to be able to sit at a piano like a trained entertainer. Now her skills have been downgraded to "little lady." I guess she's out of practice.

After the performance:
Tears cascaded from her eyes as she moved to the front of the piano and bowed to the audience like a professional entertainer.
Oh, good, at least she can still bow like a professional entertainer. Bowing like a little lady would just be embarrassing right now.

The whole audience is crying because I guess watching a little girl they don't know playing the piano is some sort of big emotional moment for everyone. Skye gets to go backstage and meet the band after the show, and then they all go back to the hotel and wind down.
He, too, could still hear, The Christmas Canon. On this night... all is right... on this Merry Christmas night. This night... we pray... our lives... will show... this dream... she had ...  
Morgan smiled. This dream... his little girl had... had been met... tonight.
My mind just makes this sound like Morgan is wheezing out these lines while being extremely out of breath. Maybe he'll run all the way out of breath and he and Skye will both die in the next chapter!