Thursday, March 22, 2012

Book Club Reads Year 2

2007 was not disappointing.  We read some of the best, and some of the worst.

 January 2007
This is a classic told in letter form and this format allows us to hear the training methods used by Satan when teaching his assistant devils the best way to trap us.  The one I remember most is false humility.  It is easy to become proud of our supposed righteousness.  It is hard to see in ourselves but it is very visible in others. This leads to the deadly spiral of judgments and self-righteousness.

February 2007
This is the story of a friendship between two Jewish boys in New York City.  One is the son of a professor at a university and the other is the son of a Rabbi.  The Rabbi's family is extremely orthodox while the professor's family is more liberal.   The friendship begins as they are thrown together by accident.  The fathers understand how much the boys need each other even though the boys don't see it at first.  
This is an excellent read.  It is one of Potok's best.

We had two books this month.  The Woman in White was a longer read that we spread over a few months.  It is a very traditional English story with class conflict, romance and a ghost.

This is one my dad recommended to me when the first Laser Tag games came out.  It has a special place in my heart because it is a story we both enjoyed.  Ender's Game is the science fiction story of a very intelligent boy who is tricked into saving the world.  He is taught strategy and war through games.  This is the first of a series about Ender.  It isn't necessary to read the whole series but I would recommend following up with Ender's Shadow.  It is the story of another boy named Bean.  His story is happening at the same time as Ender's and the reader learns that Bean, a smaller character in Ender's Game, is actually instrumental in Ender's success.

April 2007
I didn't like this book at all.  The characters are selfish and the author justifies their bad behavior and choices based on the modern world view that "if it works for you, then it is OK."  That view bugs me.  
The story deals with lies in a marriage, the death of a child, and the worth of children born with disabilities.

May 2007
This is a fun fantasy.  What would you do if you were suddenly the ruler of a Magic Kingdom?  What if all the fairy tales were true and the "real world" was the world of fog and dreams?

June 2007

I think My Antonia was another long read although both books have some similarities.  My Antonia takes place during the homesteading years of the American mid-west and Walk Two Moons  is modern but both contain a journey for a young girl in search of answers and for something better than what they have now.  They both discuss the influence mother's have on their daughters specifically the absence of a mother.  Both main characters eventually find their way home and realize that is where they belonged all along.

July 2007
This is the true story of a man who lost his sight as a boy.  We are taught the ways he has learned to cope with the loss and what he can truly see with other senses.  He is able to use his memory of sight and his imagination to visualize the world and people around him.  He realizes that this ability is really a blessing and helps to reduce the pain of the loss of his sight.  

August 2007
I found this story bizarre which made me lose interest in it.  I may finish it one day just to mark it off my list but for now I don't find it necessary.  The local play house presented the musical and we all went to see the play together.  I enjoyed the play very much and the part of the story it portrays.  I just wish the rest of the book was as good.

September 2007

This is one of the books that had emotions running high.  The book is about a man who feels guilt for his betrayal of a boyhood friend.  He returns to the middle east to try to find the friend and make amends for the hurt.  There are some difficult scenes and issues but is really a story about true friendship and redemption.

October 2007

These three books all share a child hero/heroine. The heroes are small and seemingly insignificant against great foes but they learn just how strong they really are and just how much they are loved by those around them. It is fun to read and reread children's book as an adult.  There are may levels of lessons to be learned by children and adults alike.  All three have been made into movies.  The Little White Horse movie is called "The Secret of Moon Acres." 

November 2007
This author is very good at presenting important issues but I get frustrated with her style sometimes.  She often has more sex details than are necessary and I feel she includes them just for the shock effect or to seem more progressive.  I find much of it unnecessary for the story line.
There are many issues covered in this book but the major ones are euthanasia, infidelity and the different types and levels of love relationships.

December 2007
This is the love story of Mary and Joseph.  I read this book every Christmas.  It makes the relationship between Mary and Joseph come to life and they become more real to me than what I get out of the few verses of the New Testament.  The story develops the cultural hardship the divine pregnancy causes and teaches us how their relationship with God may have grown through their callings as the parents of the Christ child.  I specifically like the development of Joseph as he fears he will lose the love of his life and comes to realize that the Christ is being sent him to care for as much as He is sent to Mary. He discovers that the love between them is one of the major qualifiers for their calling.

Anniversary Trip 22 years and counting

John found an incredible deal on flights with a small catch, they had to be used on a specific date.  It turns out that what could have been a deal breaker was really a deal maker.  The dates specified fell exactly on our anniversary.  The date also meant that we could only go overnight so rather than spend a lot of time travelling, we picked someplace close.  We got the earliest and shortest flight possible. We were going back to Portland.  We had been there in September after Robyn's wedding but we didn't get to see anything.
So we awoke in the wee hours of the morning and took off while it was still dark and arrived in Portland with plenty of time for breakfast.  We rented a car and had a great time.

  (On a side note, John has been looking into buying a particular car so he made sure that was what we rented.  It was a two-day test drive.  Now he thinks that is the only way to do it.)

While John was making reservations for the hotel he asked me  "Would you like to upgrade the room to get a whirlpool bath tub?"  Duh.  Do you really have to ask?  This was one part of the trip I was really looking forward to!  When we arrived at the hotel the first thing I did was check out the bathroom.  It was right by the door and I flipped on the light. I was a little bit bummed at the tiny shower.
Then I heard John laughing and went to investigate.  I couldn't believe what I saw.  The tub was in the room and was bigger than the bed!  Yes!

We went to the science center and saw this exhibit.
Most of it was very fascinating but then I like gross medical stuff.  
(I even kept a video of my hip surgery.)
I learned a lot which was the whole purpose of the exhibit but I felt some of it was done in poor taste.  I wouldn't take small children (it's a bit scary looking) or anyone the least bit squeemish.  There is a lot of reading neccessary so plan on spending time there.

I had a shopping list for Powell's bookstore.  We stayed for hours.  I had a hard time sticking to my list and whittling down my selections. 
This place is HUGE.  It takes up a whole city block and then some.  It has several floors and I found myself lost and wandering around until I realized that it is arranged according to the Dewey Decimal System.  (Thank you Mr. Dewey.)

We were completely worn out after having to get up so early.  We ate dinner and were back at the hotel early.  It was so quiet.  I enjoyed my bath time.  There was no one to ask me to proof read, or sign a permission slip or ask what the menu was for the next day.  Ahhh. I think I need to put a TV in my bathroom. It was so nice to just sit, relax and veg-out with the TV for a while.

The next day we spent a lot of time in the car seeing the country side. We were feeling a little adventurous and decided to check the GPS for a restaurant close by.  When this place came up on the list, I knew we had to go there! 
Who-Song and Larry's Mexican Restaurant and Cantina!
I love the mix of culture you find on the Coast but this...this was too funny!  We didn't get to eat there because of my stupid shell fish issues.  We had ordered drinks and started eating the warm tortilla chips when the first symptoms started.  (Why do so many restaurants cook everything in the same place.  Is it really that hard to designate a spot on the grill or a frying pan that is fish free?  I just want some good food without contamination.  Is that too much to ask?) I'll stop ranting now.  I was glad epinephrine works so well.  We ended up grabbing burgers at Five Guys.

We took a late afternoon flight home.  It was a nice time together and nice to remember that we are friends and not just household partners.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Book Club Reads Year 1

A group of friends and I had just attended a General Relief Society broadcast and decided to have dinner together.  We were sitting at a table in one of those chain restaurants that serve everything under the sun when the subject came up.  It would be fun to start a book club.  I had heard the same words before and wondered why we hadn't done anything about it.  I said, "Sounds great.  What is stopping us?  A place to meet?  Let's have it at my house next week on Thursday."  The first Thursday of October 2005 came and my house began to fill up. It was fun from the beginning.  We decided on a few rules or guidelines to follow when choosing a book and came up with a pattern of who would pick and whose home it would be held at.  Here is what we decided.
1.  One person would pick a book and then the meeting the next month would be held at her home where we would discuss it.
2.  Before leaving each meeting we would decide who was picking the book for the following month.  That person would present their choice after the discussion of the previous book was finished.
3.  No self help books
4.  Nothing published by Deseret Book
5.  Refreshments would be a good thing to have at each meeting but there would be no pressure to make a party that matched the theme of the book.  I personally enjoy the challenge of matching the food to the book. I have learned some knew recipes and found some new favorites along the way.
6.  Every once in a while we would have a very long book that will take longer to read.  We would continue to have our monthly read and read the long one over a few months.  This would be either agreed upon by all or drawn from a hat.

We have made some good choices and some not so good.  There have been disagreements and discussion has been a little heated every now and then but all have respect for each other.  I have read many things I would have never picked up.  I have learned from these women, laughed with them and cried with them.  I've seen new perspectives, grown, become more educated and been entertained.
Here is the list from the first year.

November 2005 
This was a group pick to get us started.  Don't judge it by it's cover.  It  looks like one of those awful romance novels but it really isn't.   I had never been in a book club before and didn't want to look stupid or be left out of the conversation so I read the book with a pen and notebook at hand. There were a lot of themes and ideas to talk about.  The story is about Mary Ingalls and her struggle to get home after being taken by a band of Indians.  The author did extensive research and you can follow the river yourself using this book as a map.  I was fascinated by some of things she had to do to survive and the strength it took to keep going.    

December 2005
The story of a boy who travels across the Sahara in search of the meaning of life.  He discovers that life is full of different relationships and that is the greatest treasure of all.

January 2006
This was an informative but very dry read.  I learned a lot but the author left out the influence of God and the miracles that happened as answer to prayers.  I believe in miracles and believe a lot of the pivotal events in our history were the work of Heavenly influence.  

February 2006
This book was chosen in recognition of American Black History month.  I really don't get the whole idea of  Black History month.  Isn't black history just part of American History?  Why is there still a division? Are we only allowed to celebrate black contributions to our society during February?  I would think we were far beyond any kind of segregation.
I enjoyed this play very much.  The author brings you right into the family's living room where you cry and cheer and want to follow them off the stage and into real life.

March 2006
The Hiding Place is the story of a woman who hid Jewish people in her home during WWII and ended up being in a concentration camp as punishment.  She is an amazing example of bravery and compassion.  Her positive outlook on everything is inspiring.  I want to be more like her.  
I found the writing slow and the foreshadowing too obvious.

April 2006
This one was chosen by Rebecca, whose son had just left for a mission in Africa.  The writing is poetic and the descriptions of the South African countryside are beautiful.  It is a story of how political unrest effects a man and his family.  (This description doesn't give it justice.) 

May 2006
This one was an "illegal" pick as it is a "church book" but we let it slide because the woman who picked it wasn't there at the beginning.  It turns out that this was the only month she participated because she didn't like the rule.
I really enjoyed reading this.  I learned a perspective of the Nazi's that I had never considered before.  The author was a boy when Hitler first began to have influence in Germany.  Hitler's programs and policy changes were at first seen as good.  There were many improvements in living for the German people.  Mr. Busche was even excited about being in the youth program.  Then he discusses the turn to evil and the manipulative nature of wanting more power and how difficult it was on the common people.  
It was worth the read although it was not worth the expense of the book.  I have personal issues with Desseret Book company but I would recommend it if you could find a used copy or soft cover version.

June 2006

This is one I chose.  I chose it simply because I wanted a classic to read while sitting on the beach so I could look smart.  I know, that is a dumb reason.  I have enjoyed a couple of Dickens other books and I was glad to cross it off my list but was disappointed in the story.  It was dull.  I felt like I did in High School when my teacher would assign a book and say, "Of course it is good.  They wouldn't call it a classic if it wasn't good."  Let's just say this...Just because a book has been around for a while doesn't make it good.

July 2006
Monique is our romantic and this is one of her favorites.  It is the classic love story set in England during the industrial revolution.
There are several versions of this story on DVD but she says this one by BBC is the best.

August 2006
This is the story of a South American boy who struggles to find balance between his traditional culture and the Christian teachings he learns at school.

September 2006
I don't remember much about this one except that the people were very poor.  One had been educated and had read The Count of Monte Cristo.  In the story he recounts the Dumas story by memory to the others.  This was a staggering thought considering we were in the middle of reading The Count as our large book.  I couldn't recount the whole story accurately from memory.  That would be quite the task.

October 2006
This is one of the best books ever.  It is full of adventure, intrigue and romance.  I learned by mistake that a book needs to say on it somewhere that it is COMPLETE AND UNABRIDGED in order for it to have the whole story.  When I went to the book store I found a couple from different publishers.  I thought they looked a bit small so I asked a sales clerk if  they were abridged.  She told me it would say if it was abridged so not to worry about it.  I wondered what the big deal was.  It seemed long, but not that long.  I read my copy in about three days.  I couldn't put it down.  Then I arrived at club and saw the versions everyone else had.  I had missed out on most of the story.  I was more than a bit miffed at the lady from Borders!  The Penguin publishers have the best complete version.

November 2006
Murder, big business, and politics makes for a fun read!

December 2006
This is one of those fun, feel-good reads.  It is set in a small village in Italy and filled with people you just can't help but love.  I have been obsessed with all things Italian ever since.  I save pictures of the Italian country side on my computer and have CDs to help me learn to speak the language.  Hailey has gotten pretty good at it.  Her accent is amazing.  I am dreaming of going there one day.

That is the first year or so.  I hope you enjoy some of these as much as I did.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Happy Birthday Hailey

I can't believe my baby is 10!  Where did the time go?

The poor thing was not feeling well that day and stayed home from church alone.  I felt really bad about leaving her but I also had responsibilities at church.  I let her choose a gift to open before we left.  She chose the barbie paper dolls.  This is what we came home to.

She said she had fun and that the time went by really fast.
This blanket was a gift John brought home to her after the last big trip.  She was bored one day and counted every dot.  She marked the dots with colored tape at the 50 and 100 mark so she wouldn't loose track.

 "1,944 dots on the blanket"

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Yes, we did celebrate Christmas 2011

Christmas time is craz-i-ness around here.  With Robyn's birthday thrown into the mix it makes for non-stop parties and the food that goes with it.  As the mom in the family it sometimes feels like the only thing we are really celebrating at any holiday is the food.  Think about it, every holiday has it's own food culture surrounding it.  To top it off it is all the kind of food we eat the most of but shouldn't.  I love to cook for people.  I love to have some one I have been feeding push themselves away from the table and say, "I want to  keep eating, but I just can't swallow another bite!"  Oh-Yah!  No one should go hungry at my house.  Ever.  

I love everything about Christmas time but I am wiped out by the time it is Christmas night.  I think I finally can catch my breath about New Years and just in time to make more party food!  

We were so busy I didn't get the camera out. (Lame, I know)

Brett and Robyn were here for a couple of days.  Brett was a good sport about doing different things for the holiday.  Most people do basically the same stuff but he went right along with some of our quirks.

Years ago I found this book at the library.
It is a sweet story about a little boy and his family decorating a Christmas tree for the animals on Christmas eve.  When I read it I knew it was something we had to do.  We have done it every year since then.  The children spend the day preparing edible ornaments with birdseed, licorice, cheerios and peanut butter.  We get the table set and get dinner ready and set on warm.  Then we bundle up and head out.  We drive out to the start of a short trail and hike to our tree.  We have decorated the same tree for several years now, and it is fun to see how much it has grown over the years.   Everyone decorates the tree and we take turns picking a carol to sing.  It is a great time to get away from the lights and the noise and find the peace and spirit of the holiday.  Sometimes we take the sleds and stay out for a long time and sometimes it goes really fast.
The house smells sooo good when we finally come home.  Dinner is ready and we sit down to enjoy the meal together.  The meal usually takes a while because memories are always shared.  This is our quiet, more spiritual night.  John reads to us the Christmas story from Luke.  When the kids were little it was easy to put them bed right after but now they are older and it doesn't work that way any more. 

 Brett tried all day to find "How the Grinch Stole Christmas".  (Jim Carey)  He was a bit bummed but then after dinner we all went downstairs and turned on the TV.  It was just starting.   

I think he may have squealed like a little girl!  I was glad we found something he enjoyed from his childhood.

Christmas morning is the time for Santa and sharing gifts with each other.  The kids hold a sibling drawing a few months in advance and then make something for the sibling they have. Some are harder to make gifts for than others but they always come up with something very fitting.

Robyn' s birthday begins at 5:00pm sharp.  All the Christmas toys are put away and it is always about her.  This is the 3rd party in less than 24 hours.  It's gets a little tough sometimes but we try hard to make sure her birthday isn't overlooked.  

I don't want to bore you with pictures of our decorations but I thought the winter town was hilarious.  Look carefully. 

See it now?

It took me a few days to notice the car in the scene and a couple days more to notice the set up!  Cole is always doing something like this.  It started when he was about three and I gave him some Ant stickers.  He set them out in a line around the kitchen cabinet.  I thought they were real and sort-a freaked out. Ever since then he takes it as a personal challenge to "get" me in some way or another.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

More Fall Sports, An Eclipse and a Guitar

Sierra (green shorts #20) played soccer on the high school team.  Sierra isn't very big and I was amazed at how strong she got by the middle of the season.  At first she would get pushed around but then she suddenly became ripped and was giving as much as she was taking.  It was fun to see her really get in there and fight for her position on the ball.  Good Job!

I woke up in the very wee hours of the morning and had that uncomfortable "mom feeling".  (the one you get when you know that there is something going on with your kids.)  I knew for some reason my children were not in their beds.  I went out to look for them and found this note in the kitchen.

They had gotten up to see the eclipse but it was too low on the horizon to see past the mountain.  Grammy loaded everyone up in their pajamas and drove out to the valley so they could see it.  I was disappointed that they didn't wake me and take me with them but then I thought it was a great time for just Grammy and the kids.  I am sure it will be one of the memories they talk about forever.

The kids have a lawn mowing business and make a few hundred dollars every summer.  John and I try to teach them to be responsible with their money and to help them we often ask the question, "What do you have to show for it?"  Meaning, what did you spend your money on and was it worth it?  Hailey spent a good chunk of her cash on a gift for herself, a guitar that is sized for her.  Brook and I both play a little and she was trying to learn but it was hard for her to play the full sized versions.  We went to the music store and played several until we found one that sounded good.  It was a few dollars more but she didn't want to buy one that sounded "ping-y".  She found this Taylor with a nice, rich sound even with its small size.  Then we found out when it was time to pay for it that it came with the case!  Score!

We have been having a lot of fun with it.  Maybe one day she will be famous and she can say she bought her first guitar at the age of 9 with money she earned mowing lawns!