Sunday, February 28, 2010

Eight years ago today ...

I gave birth to this sweet little boy.

Happy 8th Birthday, Jacob!

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Friday, February 26, 2010

Need your prayers.

A little buddy of mine, Gavin, is in the hospital with pneumonia. He has been through a lot in his life -- and he is not even two years old yet. His case is especially difficult because he has a tracheotomy. The doctors discovered he has a bacterial infection as well that requires a certain antibiotic -- but he is allergic to that antibiotic. Now they need to come up with a new plan. Please pray that the doctors will come up with the right treatment that will bring healing to Gavin.

Also, pray for his family to have strength and peace during this time.

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Greek style ... YOGURT

Someone tell me why I am supposed to like greek-style yogurt. I have heard good things about it but frankly it tastes like something I would normally throw away for being spoiled. Ick.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Book #25 of 2010

If only there were an Olympic event for speed reading - it might be the only time in my life I might actually win an award.

Book #25 of 2010 was "Living Oprah" by Robyn Okrant.

Yoga instructor and performer Okrant, 35, spent the year 2008 living by Oprah's advice as dispensed via her show, magazine and Web site. The author was fascinated with the way Oprah evokes equal parts admiration and disdain, and curious about whether it's even possible to follow someone else's advice to discover one's authentic self. Despite skepticism about the validity —or possibility —of finding happiness through Oprah, she embarked on 12 months of Oprah-prescribed activities and expenditures, plus blog updates. Monthly tallies detail activities, expenditures and the author's thoughtful observations. The author is honest about her own experiment-inspired conflicts: as a result of her endeavors, she has a book and has lost weight, but is almost always a stressed-out, insecure, exhausted mess. Okrant posits that, in many ways, pursuing a best life detracts from a real life.

Just reading about everything that Okrant tried to do within a year stressed me out. Its no wonder she ended the experiment feeling burned out. That her husband didn't divorce her or at least take a year-long vacation is amazing. I am not a follower or hater of Oprah but I do recognize the cultural phenomenon that she has become. And the political motivator, just ask Obama. Okrant quotes Oprah from her appearance on Larry King saying that basically her endorsement is worth more to him than a $1 million check. Okrant is both humorous and serious about her attempts to follow the often scizophrenic advice given by Oprah (consume less but you MUST have this $30 panini maker).

I am still trying to decide what to read next - either The Nanny Returns or Storm Glass.

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Book #24 of 2010 ....

Book # 24 of 2010 is ... Potluck Club by Linda Shepherd and Eva Everson.

Meet the Potluck Club--six women who gather each month to share their insatiable appetite for good friends, great food, and a pinch of prayer. Their seemingly unlikely friendship brings a little spice to life in Summit View, Colorado. But when they send up enough misinformed prayers to bring down a church, things get interesting . . . Evie's niece arrives with a broken heart and a big surprise. Lisa Leann tries to take over. Goldie's marriage turns sour. Donna stews over a strange encounter. Lizzie's librarian eyes are on the lookout for trouble. Vonnie must come to terms with a secret she's kept hidden from her best friends. But who knows what life will serve as The Potluck Club discovers that friendship is no piece of cake and a little dash of grace, like salt, goes a long way.

Christian fiction writers always seem to go out of their way to prove their Christian characters are just as human as anyone. Unfortunately, I think sometimes they go too far and present absurd characters instead of real people. I found myself laughing at a few of the characters in this book -- and I don't think they were meant to be funny. The character of Clay and his subplot were completely unnecessary and I still don't understand his purpose in the overall book. I ended up skipping the short chapters that involved him. Perhaps his role in the books is fleshed out more in the next one.

As far as Christian fiction goes this is not one of my favorites. I hope the second one in the series is better and the writers just needed to get their groove going.

Up next is Living Oprah by Robyn Okrant.

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Book #23 of 2010

I don't really a goal for how many books I will read this year but I think I am on pace to finish between 100-120. Wow!

Look for a contest when I get to Book #50 of 2010 - seems like a good place to reward those of you who are following along.

Anyway ... Book #23 of 2010 was "Breaking out of Bedlam" by Leslie Larson

In her delightful second novel (after Slipstream), Larson injects a jolt of liveliness into the bleak setting of an assisted living home, thanks to the obstinate and crass narrator, 82-year-old Cora Sledge. The overweight, pill-popping Cora is placed in the Palisades by her children after they deem her unfit to care for herself. Once there, she begins writing in the journal her granddaughter gave her, her entries eventually revolving around a big secret from her past. Meanwhile, around the Palisades, Cora is often in the midst of—if not at the center of—resident feuds, both the victim and suspect of a spree of robberies and the recipient of a suave new resident's amorous attention. Perhaps not surprisingly, Cora decides to take control of her life, and as she questions the loyalty of those closest to her, she reveals intimate feelings and personal heartaches that have always been obscured by her rough exterior.

Cora can be a bit over-the-top at times and a few scenes made me squirm a little (geriatric sex, anyone?). The overall tone is humorous but the "secret" that Cora writes about has a sad ending. I am not having an easy time reviewing the book today so I will just leave it there.

Up next ... well, I don't know ... I started three books but I can't decide which one I want to read yet.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Book #22 of 2010

"Beautiful Creatures" by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever. Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them. In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

A little long-winded at 600 pages, Garcia and Stohl look to capitalize on the current YA supernatural trend. Fortunately there are no vampires (okay, there is one blood sucking incubus but he is minor). Overall, I think they did a good job of presenting an interesting plot that moves fairly smoothly to the end. Based on the ending, I will assume a second book is in the works.

Next up: "Breaking out of Bedlam" by Leslie Larson. It is due back to the library in two days so I better speed it up.

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Happy Paczki Day!

Hope you get to partake in one!

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Domestic Dork: The Valentine's Day Blog Exchange

I signed up to participate in Domestic Dork's Valentine's Day Exchange for bloggers -- something I have never done before. (A blog exchange ... well not literally a blog exchange ... but where bloggers send other bloggers gifts ... anyway!)

Holly paired me up with a lovely lady from nearby -- Julie of DutchBeingMe -- which was especially cool. Its nice to get to "know" someone who shares the same area code.

So today when I peeked out the front window I noticed there was a package waiting for me. I was excited to see it was my present from Julie!

She sent me some cool dish scrubbies, a chocolate strawberry spoonrest, a (Spartan green) change purse, pink measuring cups for Moo and I to use when baking, a WW three-month journal (so needed to get me back on track after a really bad week), a "Think Big" stamp, the cutest windmill figurine (for my love of tchotchkes) and a $10 gift card to Barnes and Noble. Can you say WOW!?

But I have to say that while the gifts were all truly great my very FAVORITE part was the note she included to explain each one of them. I have to say that I certainly got the best gift in the entire exchange but perhaps I am biased because it was all for me.

Thanks so much, Julie! You made my day!

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Wash your mouth out with soap!

Molly (while I was putting together some Polly Pockets monstrosity for HER): "You know, you shouldn't swear in front of your kids."

Yes, dear. I know. And Mattel shouldn't make "easy to snap together" pieces that aren't easy to snap together. So when you bust out with a "&*#@" in kindergarten, we're blaming evil toy manufacturers.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Book #21 of 2010

"Love, Rosie" by Cecelia Ahrens

Cecelia Ahern's Rosie Dunne is the amusing story of Alex and Rosie, best friends who grow up together in Ireland and stay close throughout cross-continental moves, marriages, parenthood, family dramas. and professional triumphs. Friends for close to 50 years, the potential for romance between the pair is always under the surface, yet never seems to find the right time or place to become a reality.

A series of emails, letters, and other correspondences make up the narrative of this book. Its not an entirely novel idea (no pun intended) but one that works even in this case. However, I think the book could have been shortened quite a bit (the whole divorced chat room scenario seemed irrelevant to the overall plot). About 3/4ths through it, I found myself skipping large chunks just to get to the end.

Rosie and Alex seemed destined to make mistake after mistake when it comes to love and life -- though it bothered me that Alex is considerably more financially successful.

When I did finally finish it, I felt a bit melancholy. I think the ending was supposed to be happy and make people believe in the power of love. But the proceeding chapters were so full of sadness, bad choices and even death that it left me feeling letdown.

Overall, its a meandering and depressing love story.

Next up is a young adult novel "Beautiful Creatures" by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.
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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Book #20 of 2010

"The Last Days of Dogtown" by Anita Diamant

Inspired by the settlement of Dogtown, MA, Diamant reimagines the community of castoffs—widows, prostitutes, orphans, African-Americans and ne'er-do-wells—all eking out a harsh living in the barren terrain of Cape Ann. Black Ruth, the African woman who dresses like a man and works as a stonemason; Mrs. Stanley, who runs the local brothel, and Judy Rhines, an unmarried white woman whose lover Cornelius is a freed slave, are among Dogtown's inhabitants who are considered suspect—even witches—by outsiders. Shifting perspectives among the various residents (including the settlement's dogs, who provide comfort to the lonely), Diamant brings the period alive with domestic details and movingly evokes the surprising bonds the outcasts form in their dying days. This chronicle of a dwindling community strikes a consistently melancholy tone—readers in search of happy endings won't find any here—but Diamant renders these forgotten lives with imagination and sensitivity.

This book was a bit of a roadblock in my reading progress. It is not the type of book that you can tear through -- either because of ease of writing or edge of your seat action. It is a slow-placed book with lots of characters but little action. None of the characters are ever completely revealed and you are left with lots of unanswered questions. If you enjoy character studies and historical fiction, you will enjoy this book. If you don't ... well don't read this one!

Next up "Love, Rosie" by Cecelia Ahrens. It is a habit of mine to try balancing a heavier book with a lighter book (by content, not size).

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Friday, February 05, 2010

Oh my stars!!

I just had the best chocolate cake ever.

Sheila at Strawberry Cake posted how she made the cake from The Pioneer Woman's cookbook. (For those of you who don't know, Sheila is going through all the recipes in the cookbook and posting about it on her blog.) I commented that the Texas sheet cake my MIL made was not good and my hubby teased me about my dislike of it. I suggested possibly maybe I might need an intervention and could she drop off a piece.

And she did!

Molly and I quickly gobbled a few bites and her reaction: "I want the taste of this in my mouth FOREVER!"

Thank you Sheila, from the bottom of Molly and my bellies. (Totally worth the extra Weight Watcher points!)

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Thursday, February 04, 2010

Book #19 of 2010 or "Look Katie, I am showing off now!"

"Stupid and Contagious" by Caprice Crane

The story is told in alternating chapters by 29-year-old indie record producer Brady, who could have stepped right out of a Nick Hornby novel, and 26-year-old PR maven turned surly waitress Heaven, a veritable modern-day Lucille Ball. The two meet when they become neighbors, and Heaven keeps receiving Brady's mail, which she promptly opens and reads. But irritation soon turns into attraction as the two eventually take a wacky road trip to Seattle, where Brady waxes enthusiastic about signing a young band and attempts to land a meeting with the founder of Starbucks about his idea for a new drink.

At first, I found Heather to be annoyingly daft and Brady to be self-absorbed - which usually means I will disinterested in the fate of the characters by chapter five (like "Family Affair" also written by Crane). But I have to admit she created them in a way that you grow to like them in spite on their flaws. I found myself thinking I'd like to meet them for drinks one night. The humor was perfect throughout the book - touching the boundary of silliness that can turn a good book into a bad piece of fluff but never going past it.

On a side note, Crane is the daughter of Tina Louise who played Ginger on Gilligan's Island. Some how that just made the book all the more interesting even though it has nothing to do with it.

Next up: "The Last Days of Dogtown" by Anita Diamant. (Thanks for the recommendation, Demetria!)

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Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Book #18 of 2010

"Catching Fire" by Suzanne Collins

Every year in Panem, the dystopic nation that exists where the U.S. used to be, the Capitol holds a televised tournament in which two teen "tributes" from each of the surrounding districts fight a gruesome battle to the death. In The Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark, the tributes from impoverished District Twelve, thwarted the Gamemakers, forcing them to let both teens survive. In this rabidly anticipated sequel, Katniss, again the narrator, returns home to find herself more the center of attention than ever. The sinister President Snow surprises her with a visit, and Katniss’s fear when Snow meets with her alone is both palpable and justified. Catching Fire is divided into three parts: Katniss and Peeta’s mandatory Victory Tour through the districts, preparations for the 75th Annual Hunger Games, and a truncated version of the Games themselves.

An excellent sequel to the first book. While it did not have the same amount of suspense, I still found myself caught up in the story. I look forward to the next in the series coming out this summer Lame review, I know, but I am not feeling like writing tonight. Perhaps tomorrow will inspire me to be more loquacious.

Next up Stupid and Contagious by Caprice Crane.

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The groundhog hath spoken ...

Six more weeks of winter! That is, of course, assuming you believe in the predicting powers of a fat marmot.

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Monday, February 01, 2010

Ten pounds

I started Weight Watchers (aka Fatty Watchers) back in December (the 13th, to be precise). It was a little rough going over the holidays but I managed to make it out slightly unscathed. I like WW because you learn how to lead a healthy lifestyle. It makes more sense to me than one of those pyscho crazy diets where all you eat is cabbage soup or even better their own specially prepared $25 a box meals. So by the time you are done with the diet, you are no smarter about healthy eating habits then you were to start.

With WW, I feel like I have control over what I eat (because I do) and I can still eat the naughty things I like to eat as long as I am sensible about it. So with all that said, I want to brag that I made my first goal. I am down 10 pounds!

I am not sure that I look any different (and no one has told me they notice a difference) but the proof is there in black and white on the scale. Of course, I am no where near where I should be -- even WW says I am outside of the the weight range for my height. But I am a bit closer and I feel motivated to continue on.

I don't really have an end goal in mind. I am trying to focus on overall health as opposed to a certain size. Let's face it, I am the mother of two and in my 30s. I don't need a model figure or to sport a bikini at the beach (and frankly after a certain age wearing a bikini looks like you are trying too hard). What I do need is to be active and healthy so I can be around for years and years to come -- if for nothing else than to nag my kids.

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