Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Like having your 90 year old Grandma live with you ...

How many drugs can one dog take? Apparently lots of them.

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Myrtle Bean

Today would have been your big day on earth but every day in Heaven is bigger and better.

Sleep well, Myrtle Bean.

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Book #34 of 2010 ...

I was (am) already reading a book when I picked up this next book from my stack. The only reason I picked it up is because I was upstairs and I was too lazy to walk down to get the book I was already reading. (That might be a clue as to why I can't lose the last 10 pounds I want to lose.)

Book #33 of 2010 was "Everyone is Beautiful" by Katherine Center

Everything in Lainie Coates’ life is changing. Her husband receives a scholarship to a prestigious music school, so the family moves from her native Houston to Cambridge, Massachusetts. While Peter is involved with his studies, Lainie feels lost and alienated caring for her three young sons until she meets Amanda, an acquaintance from high school, at a local park. Lainie is at her frumpiest—in sweatpants, still carrying the weight from her baby—when a stranger asks when her baby is due. Mortified, she lies. How does one explain her error to gorgeous Amanda with her perfect daughter? This embarrassing incident starts Lainie on the path to her own self-discovery, that is, if she can find the time and the outlet.

A book about a woman who becomes a mom and then loses her figure and her self identity ... I think I can relate to that! Laine is every woman who is both wife and mom at some point in their lives. Don't we all compare ourselves to peers and find ourselves lacking at times? Or lose ourselves completely in our kids to the detriment of both our marriage and ourselves? It is such a hard balance and I think Center does a great job of describing it. Perhaps the ending is a bit too neat but I am a sucker for a happy ending.

Next up is ... well, I guess I better finish the book I started before I started (and finished this one).

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Book #33 of 2010

"Miranda's Big Mistake" by Jill Mansell

Taking a position as a trainee in a posh London hair salon may not seem the ideal situation for finding Mr. Right, but this breezy, whimsical novel from best-selling British chick-lit author Mansell (An Offer You Can't Refuse) introduces just such a heroine, Miranda, to a wide range of men, from panhandler to racecar driver, on her way to true love (and true retaliation). In a series of escapades too over-the-top even for Bridget Jones, feisty but accident-prone Miranda joins forces with other unlucky-in-love ladies, including a pregnant woman abandoned by her no-good husband and an aging but still-game landlady with a terminally greedy son.

This is not great literature -- its silly, far-fetched romance. And that is exactly why I like it. Mansell's books are the perfect vacation read -- light and easy if not very realistic.

Next up is The Red Queen by Margaret Drabble.

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Book #32 of 2010

"It's a Crime" by Jacqueline Carey

When Frank Foy, a high-living corporate accountant, goes to jail after his company's Enronesque fall, Pat, his landscape-designer wife, is pathologically unwilling to grasp the fraud's implications in this muddled novel from Carey. Pat inexplicably decides to repay a random group of the fraud's victims, first through personal checks and then, even more bizarrely, through a planned investment in wind energy. Along the way, she reunites with her former lover, Lemuel Samuel, and her onetime best friend, Ginny Howley, both mystery writers who suffered in the company's collapse. The penniless Ginny joins Pat's odyssey, while Lemuel's son keeps the Foys' teenage daughter company.

The book had the potential to be good but got caught up in itself. I think the author was trying to make it into something it wasn't.

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Thursday, March 18, 2010


Jacob on why he likes math (as written on his self assessment for school conferences): "because I am the best at it and I am better than every body in my class."

Self esteem is, apparently, not an issue either.

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Book #31 of 2010

"An Offer You Can't Refuse" by Jill Mansell

Lola, 17, is deeply in love with her boyfriend, Doug. Doug’s family is wealthy, and Doug is on his way to university, while Lola is a middle-class girl and works at a fish-and-chip shop. Doug’s mother sees miniskirt-wearing Lola as an obstacle to overcome and offers her 10,000 pounds to never see Doug again. Lola is about to refuse when her father reveals a huge gambling debt. The only way to keep him safe is for Lola to accept the money. Ten years later, she encounters Doug and his mother again, and now Doug knows Lola was bought off by his mother. Lola still has feelings for Doug, but Doug won’t have anything to do with her. Will their relationship be repaired, or is the money too much to handle?

Funny and entertaining. A perfect beach read.

Next up is "Unconfessed" by Yvette Christiansë.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

"Gifted" by Nikita Lalwani

Rumi Vasi, the teen-age daughter of Indian immigrants in Wales, lives a life of double estrangement, marked as an outsider both by her ethnicity and by her precocity. Yet her isolation is generated less by the culture surrounding her than by the pressures of family. Her mother, determined not to allow Western morals to corrupt her daughter, tells her, "Only white people have sex"; her father insists on a punitive schedule of tutoring and test-taking under strict conditions—freezing temperatures, isolation—meant to enhance learning. Sent to Oxford at fifteen to study mathematics, Rumi begins to question the course that has been determined for her, and to seek freedom at any cost.

I really liked this book. You know right from the beginning that her life is a disaster in the making. I actually felt bad for her as if she were a real person as her Dad constrained her more and more. Her end decision surprised me but I think it was authentic to the story. Free Signature Generator

Sunday, March 14, 2010

My first baby

My first baby, Alli, has months to live.

My girl has been with us since she was 8 weeks old -- and that was almost 12 years ago. I took her in for a check-up this weekend and her kidney function is down to 25 percent. She is in Stage 3 of kidney failure. We've got medicines to give her and we will start subcutaneous fluids. All in an effort to buy us days, weeks, months ... who knows.

I wanted to go up to all the happy people with their cute puppies in the waiting office and yell: "THIS IS WHAT YOU HAVE TO LOOK FORWARD TO!"

This sucks.

It's life and it sucks.

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Friday, March 12, 2010

But seriously ... Book #30 of 2010

What do you think of the statement "I have no time for reading". Me, I just can't wrap my head around that concept. I mean ... don't have time to shave your legs, I get. No time to dust the pictures on the wall, gotcha. But no time to read? I've been known to read while blow drying my hair and brushing my teeth (requires some props to hold the book open but it can be done). I'd forgo a few seconds of breathing if it got me some extra reading time.

So with that I introduce you to Book #30 of 2010 ... Hungry Monkey by Matthew Amster-Burton.

Seattle dad and food critic Amster-Burton wants his daughter to grow up fearlessly savoring a wide range of appealing foods, something beyond untutored childhood’s bland fodder and ubiquitous processed foods persistently marketed to television-watching adolescents. He believes that developing a child’s taste for uncommon produce, meats, fish, herbs, and spices lies in early exposure to their flavors and being sure that baby sees Mom and Dad relishing a spectrum of victuals. One by one, Amster-Burton debunks widely held opinions about feeding toddlers, such as withholding salt, sushi, or spices. And he’s not averse to cooking with wine or allowing his daughter a tiny sip of beer. Recipes include a number of Mexican favorites, even highly seasoned Thai and Chinese dishes, all designed to be simply and quickly prepared. Any parent frustrated by an offspring’s dismissive “Yuck!” will find some usefully novel approaches here to patient cultivation of adventuresome palates.

I did not pick up this book because I was looking for guidance with feeding my kids or even for the recipes (though a few do look enticing). It just seemed like a quick and interesting read about something I love - FOOD! You'd be hard pressed to find a book about food I didn't want to read (excepting perhaps "1001 Uses for Sheep's Brains").

I absolutely agree with several of Amster-Burton's points - picky kids will not die from lack of nutrition, bland is not best for baby (little babies in Bangladesh are born with the same little taste buds as babies in Milwaukee) and for the love of all that is holy ... dessert is not the devil! He backs a few of his opinions up with some research which is nice if you want to throw the information in someone's face ... say a mother-in-law or know-it-all co-worker. I think when it comes to food a good deal of very well intentioned parents create issues that don't need to be created. Food is to be enjoyed -- so if you aren't enjoying your wheat germ flavored organic gruel chances are your kids aren't either. Food -- you gotta love it!

(And there you have the gospel according to Jenifer.)

Next up (to read, not eat) is ... "Gifted" by Nikita Lalwani.

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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Book #29 of 2010

The Wet Nurse's Tale by Erica Eisdorfer

Susan Rose isn’t the average protagonist: she’s scheming, promiscuous, plump, and she is also smart, funny, tender, and entirely lovable. Like many lower-class women of Victorian England, she was born into a world that offered very few opportunities for the poor and unlovely. But Susan is the kind of plucky heroine who seeks her fortune, and finds it . . . with some help from, well, her breasts. Susan, you see, is a professional wet nurse; she breast-feeds the children of wealthy women who can’t or won’t nurse their own babies.

But when her own child is sold by her father and sent to a London lady who had recently lost a baby, Susan manages to convince his new foster mother, Mrs. Norbert, to hire her as a wet nurse. Once reunited with her son, Susan discovers the Norbert home to be a much more sinister place than she’d ever expected. Dark and full of secrets, its master is in India, and the first baby who died there did so under very mysterious circumstances. Susan embarks on a terrifying journey to rescue her son before he meets the same fate.

Review to come some time when I feel more like it ... my brain is too numb right now from being subjected to the newest Barbie movie. Oy.

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Sunday, March 07, 2010

Book #28 0f 2010

"Forget About It" by Caprice Crane

Jordan Landau is having a bad life. At twenty-five, she is attractive, smart, funny and talented. But all that doesn't keep her mother from calling her fat, her boss from stealing her ideas, and her boyfriend from cheating on her. Day in and day out, she sits back and watches as everyone walks all over her. Then one day while riding her bike home from a particularly awful day, Jordan collides with a car door and is knocked clear off her bicycle. Coming to in the hospital, Jordan realizes she has a perfect excuse for a "do-over"; she vows to fake amnesia and reinvent herself. And it works. Finally, Jordan is able to get the credit she deserves at work, and she stands up to her family and her jerk boyfriend. She's living the life she always dreamed of--until the unthinkable happens. Suddenly Jordan must start over for real, and figure out what really makes her happy--and how to live a truly memorable life.

A funny book and a quick read -- perfect for a lazy weekend. Crane doesn't write Pulitzer winning books but she certainly knows how to entertain.

Next up is The Wet Nurse's Tale by Erica Eisdorfer.

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Saturday, March 06, 2010

Book #27 of 2010

Book #27 of 2010 is Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier.

Tart-tongued spinster Elizabeth Philpot meets young Mary Anning after moving from London to the coastal town of Lyme Regis. The two quickly form an unlikely friendship based on their mutual interest in finding fossils, which provides the central narrative as working-class Mary emerges from childhood to become a famous fossil hunter, with her friend and protector Elizabeth to defend her against the men who try to take credit for Mary's finds. Their friendship, however, is tested when Colonel Birch comes to Lyme to ask for Mary's help in hunting fossils and the two spinsters compete for his attention.

I am not sure if the above summary really does the novel real justice. This is a very complex but very slow book -- not in a boring way but in the way a true character novel progresses. There is no rush of action (even with the discovery of rare dinosaur fossils). Admittedly, I wondered in the first few chapters if I would be able to stick through to the end. I soon find myself very intrigued by the character's and their relations with each other. I know their are deeper themes of social constructs and the burgeoning evolution theory of the 19th century. I wish I was a prolific enough writer to comment on them -- but I am not. So all I can tell you is the themes are there.

It should be noted that the characters are based on actual people and actual events that took place during the 19th century in coastal England. Being a bit of a history enthusiast, it was interesting to be able to do a little extra research on the people mentioned.

So what great novel is next on the list ... "Forget About It" by Caprice Crane (I like to alternate heavier books with lighter ones -- both in size and content ;)!)

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Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Book #26 of 2010

This past weekend, we took the birthday boy (aka Jacob) to Chicago for a fun-filled weekend. On Saturday night, we dined at Rosebuds on Rush which is way fancier than anywhere I went as a kid. Pretty good place if you like Italian though the hubby says their sauce "tastes buttery". Whatever that means. I like their bread but my hips don't lie when it comes to carbs.

Anyhoo, we were seated next to a couple with their two kids and a 20-something woman who appeared to be their nanny. Did they bring her their to treat her? Or can they not handle their own kids on weekends? If she is there to work, do the parents talk to her like she is part of the event?

Perfect segueway for the next book in my list .. "The Nanny Returns" by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

Nan revisits 721 Park, home of the moneyed but morally bankrupt Xs, and the boy she guiltily left behind in their inept care in this smart and sassy sequel to The Nanny Diaries. And though Nan has grown up a bit, married Harvard Hottie Ryan and traveled the world, the plight of the rich and stupid continues, as does Nan's new crusade to save former charge Grayer and his younger brother Stilton, renovate a crumbling East Harlem mansion and stick it out at a soulless Manhattan private school.

The book seemed a bit disjointed in the beginning like the authors couldn't get in sync with each other or the characters. It picked up a little as the story went along but still didn't flow very nicely. There were a lot of subplots that were left to dangle (perhaps to make room for the third installment "The Nanny Returns ... again").

Writing prowess aside, is this REALLY how the upper echelon of NYC lives? Their morals appear so thin and their egos so big They cast aside anyone (including their own kids) who gets in the way of their almost psychotic need to satisfy themselves. Scary. Perhaps I should be a little more content in my middle class life. The alternative isn't that attractive when you get down to it.

Next up is "Remarkable Creatures" by Tracy Chevalier.

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Tuesday, March 02, 2010

This outfit brought to you by our friends on Cass Avenue in Detroit.


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