Wednesday, March 26, 2008


With "Water for Elephants" and "The Book of Fate." I listened to these ("Elephants" in the kitchen while I cooked, cleaned, ate, etc. and "Fate" while I drove back and forth to rehearsal) on tape.

Both were recommendations from my mother, who generally has fabulous taste. Generally. To her credit, they probably weren't recommendations as much as "by the way, these are some books I listened to..." random titles of books. Actually, I mostly enjoyed listening to them--there are very few books that I don't mostly enjoy--but I wouldn't put them on any "hurry out and get these books" lists. But, of course, I'm the one anxiously awaiting the fourth book in a series about hot, sexy, eternally 18-years-old vampires, so take that for what it's worth! On the off chance that you do want to go read or listen to either of these novels, let me give you a little background first.

"The Book of Fate" has lots and lots of swearing. If that sort of thing bothers you, be sure you don't listen to it in your car, especially when you are driving kids to soccer practice. Oops. "The Book of Fate" is seeped in intrigue and political schemings, and includes several weak attempts to add in little bits of Masonic symbolism in order to hint at the Masons' master plan to take over the world...(evil laughter erupts now, "Ah, ah, ah!). It also features a wimpy, physically and emotionally scarred leading man whose loyalty to the President makes it difficult, but eventually possible for him to save the world ("Hooray!"). Most interesting to me was the crazy man who lives only to follow the "Book of Fate," meaning God's master plan. He is deeply religious and feels himself aligned and in tune with God, yet he does terrible things. Didn't he ever read the verse that says, "By their fruits shall ye know them..."? He thinks that the things he is doing are necessary and part of God's plan to take away the evil ones in the world. some other terrorists we hear about these days? Seriously, I am a little worried at the way religion is used and abused to excuse and explain away people's actions (i.e. everything from the Crusades to not letting your kids play with the non-Christians next door...). That gave me pause to think.

"Water for Elephants" is about a 93 year old man in a rest home. A circus is being set up just across the way from the home, which leads to lots of excitement and reminiscing about the good old days. It also leads to an altercation between our protagonist and another man, a man who says he used to carry water for the elephants in a circus, and one who really did. Jacob Jankowski then tells us the story of how he became a part of the Benzini Brothers traveling circus, and the love and adventures that follow suit. This was a love story all about relationships. There were parent-child relationships, boss-worker relationships, people-stuck-together-at-random relationships, romantic relationships, ruined relationships, and animals-as-your-best-friend relationships. I particularly enjoyed old-man-Jacob's narrative about his frustrating, tiresome, rather monotonous situation--the ornery old coot!

Well, if you don't end up enjoying these books, I hope you find something else wonderful to fill your time. I'm starting on "Love in the Time of Cholera" and "The Book Thief." More to come when I'm done, done, done, done, done...(did your head fill in the right musical cue for that?)

P.S. I also finished reading (and who wouldn't finish this one, it's such a short, easy read) "Listening for Lions."

I read it for the church ladies' (Church Lady, HA! Do you remember her?) book club. It was a sweet, predictable story that is meant for sweet, predictable people. I LOVED IT!!!! Not.

This is written for a young adult audience, which doesn't usually mean anything to me (owing, I'm sure to my very young adult status), because there are lots of YA books out there that I absolutely adore ("Beauty," "The Secret Garden," "Harriet the Spy," "Johnny Tremain" to name a few), but this one is meant specifically for a YA audience. It's the story of a missionary family in Africa who are hit by the dreaded influenza epidemic of 1918. Mother and Father die, as does the young neighbor girl from England, who just so happens to have "ginger colored hair" exactly like our young heroine, Rachel. The neighbor parents are devastated by their daughter's death because (we find out later) she was their one chance to get money from rich but estranged Grandfather back in England. Bad people that they are, they kidnap Rachel and send her to England as their daughter Valerie, with instructions that she gain Grandfather's affection and his inheritance. If you want to know the rest of the story you have to either think of the most predictable ending possible, or just go read the book. Either option will take about the same amount of time.

"Well, now. Isn't that special?"

Friday, March 21, 2008


Spring Break started yesterday, and I have spent the time playing with my new "toys," washer and dryer. The phone rang and I overheard Evan answer and say, "No, she's just watching the laundry. No, not washing. She's watching the laundry go around and around!"

It's true. It's just so pretty! And after nearly 52 loads in 2 1/2 days, I'm almost done! Then what will I do with my time? I know: I'll match socks! That is, I'll match them if I can ever find all the missing pairs. I have yet to figure out, but am always wondering...where do all the missing socks go?

I am also a little confused over this:

Whose bed is this? I sort of seem to recognize the Hawaiian print bedspread, but I can't recall the last time I saw it pulled up over the whole bed! I think the bed belongs to Evan--the "Y" blanket is a pretty good hint--but it may take further investigation to confirm that. Evan just doesn't make his bed!

Evan does go to prom, though! Here he is, cookie jar full of frozen water, cookies, and an Easter Egg filled with the invite, just before heading out the door to ask the lucky girl. Her name is Sydney, and she said yes by hiding Easter Eggs all over his room (no, the bed was not made), with one special egg containing her answer.

Here's what confuses me: I remember going to prom, and I am certain that I went to prom with dates who could not have been more than 16 or 17 years old. Maybe 18, tops. But all of my dates were incredibly mature, very "old" looking, and knew what was what in the world. And I was right on their level! I recall my parents being nigh-unto-ancient at the time (who knows how they've held up this long since then?!), and seriously did not have a clue about the teen age world.

Somehow, though, my son is that 17 year old prom date, AND I AM THAT PARENT!!!!!! How can that be?

I am very confused!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Look what I got.

But in white. I don't quite get everything I want!
P.S. I love the Best Buy man.

Friday, March 14, 2008


With "The Historian."

I am also, by the way, done with my habitual reading of a book clear to the bitter end. By page 587 I had had enough. Sorry, Lori.

I will say that the book started off well enough, and I certainly enjoyed the picturesque writing. I almost felt I was traveling in Europe with this fine old chap and his daughter. But a travelogue is far shorter. I know, because I just read one on Japan.

But when I finally got to the part where (SPOILER WARNING) we find out that Dracula has kidnapped Professor Rossi in order to have him catalog Dracula's ancient and growing collection of books...that was it for me. I almost started laughing, it was so ridiculous. I almost started crying, I'd been reading so long! I thought it just had to get better so I began reading the book by skimming the second half of the left hand pages. It didn't get better.

On the way to the library to return the book I summed up the whole novel for Michael in about 4 sentences. Lane suddenly joined the conversation (he'd previously been torturing Joshua in the back seat) to say, "That's the way books should be." "What?!" I said incredulously. "You'd like to read such a stupid book?" "No," he answered. "I mean that books should only be about 3 or 4 sentences long. Who needs to have all those extra words that don't mean anything when you could have the whole story done in less than a paragraph?!" With this book he was dead on.


During Michael's days of unemployment I:

greatly improved my racquetball game...
ate a lot of chocolate chip cookies...
was so very happy to be a part of a show (Annie Get Your Gun) so I could go away at night and feel right at home with other people pretending that singing cowboys and a gun slinging girl is the loveliest of realities...
saw my in-laws even more than usual--a fabulous thing--because a) they are in the country and b) they have a working washing machine...
did not buy anything on-line...
did not even once go to Target or Costco...
used our food storage...
praised Dave Ramsey's name up and down for having inspired us to create an emergency fund...
contemplated future pre-school employment...
was grateful for current pre-school employment...
sewed with fabric I already have...
read some really stupid books...

So, other than my absence from the retail world, you can see that not a whole lot changed for me. On one hand, that is a very good thing because I surely don't like change all that much. I will say that the experience certainly did emphasize the importance of emergency preparation (thank you, prophets!). On the other hand, not changing could be a bad thing because, as I see it, if we don't make some changes based on this experience, it is a wasted experience. So ta-ta Target. Farewell weekly stops at Costco. Mac Cosmetics, you and I are through for a while.

Michael, I'm sure, has his own list of lessons and applications, but he is a bit more closed-mouth about it all. Probably due to that male-thing... But I will say that he became a kinder, gentler Michael (not that he was all that bad before! Now look how good I've got it!) and we all enjoyed having him around more. Plus, my baseboards are all nailed up, my half-wall is half mudded, all our bicycle tires are pumped, and Lindsay has her house painted! I'd almost admit that the whole thing wasn't all that bad, but God reads my blog, and I am certainly not up to doing it again, so I'm not even putting that idea out there!

My mom asked me what I had been doing to stay sane during the last little while--she knows about me and projects! I really haven't tackled anything yet, but these are the ideas swimming around in my head. I just have to decide if I dare:

Do I dare? I think possibly.

Do I dare? Absolutely. I just have to figure out where!

The front door is begging to be painted again, and orange or bright blue are answering. Do I dare? Well, I do. But I do have this husband who did not like bright yellow with flowers...

Do I dare? Yes! I can just see all my beloved fabric and paper swatches put together like this...rather shrine-like...I just need another wall!

Do I dare? I already did! Thank goodness it was before Michael's no-job period!

Do I dare? You'd better believe it! I'd even break my non-shopping pact if I could find this little jacket somewhere! How cute is that?!

Do I dare? Probably not. I'm afraid Merrit would make fun of me. I'm awfully tempted, though. Thank goodness I've got a no shopping pact going...

The scissors are calling out to me again. I have learned not to touch them myself when they sing their siren-song, but it is time for a hair cut by a paid professional. Do I dare do the pixie? I am so tempted. But NO! I know better than that! I would end up looking like this:

Hideous. I don't dare.

But I digress...Let's move back to my project file:


And yes, that would be me riding a heels. Definitely a daring undertaking!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


I just wanted to let all of you know that Michael got his job back. Whew! Thanks for your prayers and wishes for our survival and his success.
I believe that Michael has mixed emotions about all of this. Surely he is grateful and relieved to be going back to work today. He is also surprised! Not having to wait another 2 weeks for arbitration, etc. is nice. But I think he thinks an apology might be nice, too. He's definitely not holding his breath for that one!
In the midst of counting our blessings we are also trying to count the lessons learned from this experience. Were there time I'd begin expounding on them. But I've got choir at the school in 25 minutes, and I'm still in my pajamas! So, more to come soon, I promise!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


Despite our penniless plot, I received a superb gift yesterday:

A garage door opener. That works! Oh, happy day. I'm pretty sure that Michael exchanged the two he had purchased sometime last year for these, but no matter how he got them, I am thrilled. What a treasure!

Then, just to top things off, look what I found in the trash while I was walking the dog:

Well, the box was gone, of course, and so were the bean bags, but the basic game was still there, still intact, and still virtually spotless! If you have no idea what a great find this is, you have never taught preschool, primary, or done any activity with kids. But I have, and have a feeling I might again sometime in my life, so I know what a treasure-trove of activities this tic-tac-toe game is. And someone was just going to throw it away! I realize the kind of flack I'm opening up myself to by sharing my good fortune (and where it came from) with you, but I'm telling you, it's worth it.

Most worthwhile treasure of all, though, is that Joshua still asks me to lay down with him at night. Having inherited my two oldest sons after they were a little past the tucking in years, it has been a wonderful thing to have Joshua, who's nightly ritual since birth has been a little unusual. It's not reading a story, although we do that often. Not a review of the day, although we do that, too. Not even having blankets tucked around him. Actually, he hates that. What Joshua loves is to play with my hair. Somehow he has never noticed that I have such a poor showing of hair, and he flips and twists it until he falls asleep. He plays with his own hair, too. It is adorable and I love that it still continues. I know it won't last forever, so I count it as a treasure every night that he still asks me to put him to bed.

May your day be as filled with treasures as mine was yesterday!

Sunday, March 2, 2008


Admittedly I have had a hard time writing anything lately. Mostly it's because I don't want to put down into words the awful truth: Michael lost his job. Actually, that's not the awful truth, although it is true that he lost his job about three weeks ago. The awful truth is that I am seriously struggling to believe that this could possibly be a good thing for Michael, me, or our family. I lack faith.

I do, however, have a very real sense that God reads my blog. Several weeks ago I wrote that I am boring. And it's true, I am. But I never meant that in any sort of complaining way. I absolutely adore being boring! I cherish complacency. I delight in stagnation, shallowness, and in showing no growth. It's comfy! Dear sister Dana had to go ahead and leave her comment, though, to be careful what I wish for, and now look at the roller-coaster ride we're on! Add to the fun of no money, honey, the still broken washing machine, the doctor telling me to bring Lane back in for a blood draw to make sure that he doesn't have leukemia (we went, and he doesn't), a lovely diagnosis for me of a urinary tract and kidney infection, and the starter going out on the van.

On a happier note, I did make the most incredible version of Shepherd's Pie known to man (no green beans, Lindsay!), and Lane made it on the high school soccer team. I do realize that making dinner and making the soccer team are in no way on the same level of awesome-ness, but dang! That casserole was good!

Anyway, a few days back I had a moment--okay, full evening--of emotional breakdown: tears, sobbing, snotty nose, wailing and gnashing of teeth--the whole bit. I was bemoaning our fate and my failure to see any way out of it. Moreover, I was, and still am to a point, questioning the whole point and purpose of such silly trials. I mean, really, can't God just tell us what we're supposed to learn or where we're supposed to go, and we'll do it? I'm a generally obedient child! I did Cub Scouts for 3 years, didn't I? What greater proof is there than that?

In my whining I thought about all those churchy stories where people go to the scriptures and, just opening up to random passages, find answers to all their questions and queries. "Ha!" I thought, "That never happens to me. I bet it's not even real!" I knew I was being bratty, but I was feeling pretty angry, so I continued on with my petty tirades for a while longer, until I actually opened up the scriptures. And found some...not quite answers...but definite personal applications. Since they're my "answers," I'm going to hold on to them for just a little bit longer, but I will tell you they were in 2 Nephi 4 and Jacob 5. I will also tell you that I felt pretty amazed to find out and feel that God was listening, even to my tantrum. Even to my brattiness.

So, though I'm still completely unsure as to what's going to happen and why in the world we're experiencing this particular adventure called no-job, I am also holding on to the pinprick of light that I can't seem to deny or diminish with logic. God knows me, hears me, helps me. I am grateful.

Saturday, March 1, 2008


With "The Other Boleyn Girl." Thank goodness.

Do not read this book. Do not listen to this book. Do not even contemplate this book. Unless, of course, you like tasteless, vulgar, trite, poorly written tales of sisters who are jealous, mean-spirited, and in all other ways poorly portrayed...then you might enjoy this forever long tale of the nasty Boleyn siblings (brother George doesn't get to look too good in here, either).

There is something to be said about women's societal strictures. We've come a long way, baby. But Gregory hardly addresses this in any worthwhile way, and it's no reason to read this book. It also made me think of how we mess up our world when we don't teach our children to be fair, nice, and just. If everything and everyone tells you that a) you are amazing, wonderful, and all powerful and b) you should get everything you want, you will most certainly believe that a) you are amazing, wonderful, and powerful and b) you should throw tantrums if and when you don't get everything you want. Hence we have King Henry VIII, and a few other rotten rulers throughout history, as well.

I most certainly wasted a good deal of time with this book. I count it as service to now warn you to stay away from this novel and avoid making the same mistake I did in ever getting started. I'm going to have to do penance and read nothing but math textbooks and Greek poetry from here on out. It will be a refreshing change from this novel!