Wednesday, October 31, 2007

From the Stacks Reading Challenge List

Against my better judgement, I entered another reading contest. This is only my second one ever, and I am doing them both at the same time, but honestly, I read enough that I should be able to get through both just fine. For this new contest, I have found the following books on my shelf that I would really like to get to:

1. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
2. Lisey's Story by Steven King
3. The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett
4. Jude by Kate Morgenroth
5. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

Happy Halloween

I know I have been a bit wishy-washy over the years on the issue of whether or not we celebrate Halloween or not. I grew up with it. I also grew up with Santa Clause, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny. They did not dampen my spiritual life at all, or make me not believe in miracles. Quite the opposite rather, these legends of magic and mystery made me appreciate all the more the truth of the Gospel. They made me long to believe in something bigger than myself that was real. And I think they helped me to understand our human desire to believe in what we can't see.

So it is in this spirit of exploration, and fun, and innocence that I am encouraging my children to participate in Halloween. Not worshiping the Devil or any such silliness, but trick or treating, and dressing up like Snow White or the Dwarfs or a cowboy riding a donkey! You are a kid only once, enjoy it!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Lessons from Eclipse

Guard Your Heart!
I just finished reading the third book in the Stephanie Meyer vampire series, and it has left me very contemplative. I want to walk away from each book I read now with something to show for my time, so I will be thinking on them more than I have in the past.

The one message I really take away from this book (whether the auther intended this or not is irrelevant) is that a woman must always guard her heart. I think I have thought this for a long time, but haven't quite yet been able to put my feelings to words.

My advice here in this post to my dear daughter is that you must realize that a woman's heart is soft and precious and much different than a mans. We have been created with an amazing capacity to love, and we long so desperately to love, that if we are not careful, we ruin ourselves this way.

It is true that you must share and love people, but there will be one man with whom you will need, and want to share everything with. I encourage you think about this man, somewhere in the back of your mind, each time you feel like sharing your heart, your hopes, your fears with someone. Until you know for certain that you are speaking with the man you will marry, the one God has designed for you, share these hopes and dreams with family, and girl friends, but not with boys.

I honestly believe that this simple act could keep much heartache from touching you.

Guard your heart, it is the essense of who you are as a woman. It makes you unique. It makes you beautiful, and it makes you, you.

Monday, October 29, 2007

JK Rowling's Top 10

My children and I are still recovering from our grief over having finished the last Harry Potter book. You see, when my daughter started Kindergarten, we read the first Harry Potter book together. She is now a Sophmore in high school and no longer needs me to read her bed time stories. . .or does she??

I found an old article from the BBC while I was searching through lists of classic literature. It is JK Rowling's top 10 list for classics she thinks all children should read. So I am going to suggest to my dear daughter and son tonight that we begin reading these classics together.

Here is her list from that article:
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

  • Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

  • David Copperfiled by Charles Dickens

  • Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

  • Animal Farm by George Orwell

  • The Tale of Two Bad Mice by Beatrix Potter

  • The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger

  • Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Review of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

I finished my first book for the Book Awards Challenge. I thought I would start with an easier one. I did not choose well.

I know the vast majority of people liked The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon but I did not. I do think it was interesting how he used a handicapped boy as the narrator, but after the first chapter, I was annoyed with this and with the boy and his parents. I don't want to spoil the book, but the whole deal with the parents, come on, who does that?

I understand that good literature should take a look at society and capitalize on a problem or issue there and really encourage good debate. I am sure that this book will indeed do that, but I still didn't enjoy reading it. I enjoyed Anna Karenina, I enjoyed A Tale of Two Cities, The Scarlet Letter, To Kill a Mockingbird, not to mention Call of the Wild and so many other great pieces of literature. I did not enjoy reading this book.

I also got this book thinking I would perhaps share it with my children, but with the language and adult situations, it seems inappropriate. This book reminded me why I often stray away from books on award lists and go by good reviews and intuition instead.

Here's hoping the next choice will be more enjoyable!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Music Teacher

Today, I need to be a music teacher for my talented daughter. She has played the flute in the band for about 5 years now, and suddenly wants to play sax in the jazz band. She has just borrowed a sax from a friend and has to teach herself how to play. I now have to admit that I have always harbored a secret desire to play the sax myself (having been a trumpeter in my own high school band) so I plan to list some sites for us all to learn to play the sax.

A very basic beginning site is this one. Some good tips for purchasing, holding, and beginning notes on the sax. A great site for some basic tips and some basic song suggestions is this one hosted by the BBC. This last site also has a link to what looks like a pretty detailed fingering chart at The Woodwind Fingering Guide. There is also a basic getting started guide on eHow.

And YouTube of course has a couple of nice how to videos.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Book Awards Challenge Reading List

I signed up for the Book Awards Reading Challenge and here is what I plan to read:

Possession: A Romance by A. S. Byatt
Bag of Bones by Stephen King
The Curios Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman
Bones by Jan Burke
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
The Hours, by Michael Cunningham
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


The Hidden Side of a Leaf is an interesting blog that I plan to read for the next few days. It is a books blog. It has some nice reviews and some great recommendations for reading (I haven't seen a post anywhere else for the Coraline book by Neil Gaiman).

A post from October 21st caught my attention. It seems Joshua Henkin, author of the new book MATRIMONY is giving away a book. This book was a Booksense Pick for October, so it must be good. And I do have to admit, I am a bit curious about this book. Marriage is a fascinating topic, and those who do it well have much to teach if we will listen. I am hoping this book will show marriage as exciting, and crazy and boring as it is. . .for marriage is like life. . .it is fun and crazy and boring, but to really be good at it. . .it takes everything you have and rewards you just for trying!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Counselor/Job Coach Part

I have often wished that someone would have sat down with me as a teenager and gone over my passions, desires, and goals for my life. I wish they would have encouraged me to talk to professionals doing jobs I thought I may want to do so I could talk to them and perhaps even shadow them for an hour or two to get a feel for what I may want to be when I grew up.

So when I got my daily updates from the Career Builder website with a link to the following article posted there and I saw what some career options for the future look like, I started thinking of careers my talented daughter and smart son could pursue after college.

Potential Jobs:

  • Anesthesiologist - potential salary is $225,000
  • CRNA (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthesiologist) - potential salary is $128,127
  • Senior Database Administrator - potential salary is $93,300
  • Technical Support Specialist - potential salary is $49,100
  • Call Center Manager - potential salary is $53,800
  • Civil engineer - potential salary is $57,200
  • Project engineer - potential salary is $65,200
Can you tell which one I recommend? If you are good at math and science, then there is no reason not to go for the anesthesiologist. . .right? If you are going to have debt, you may as well have a career that will quickly help get you out of debt. Work is work, you may as well look for something you won't hate that makes good money for you and your family, and will allow for the kind of lifestyle you want. All of these factors should be part of your thought process as you decide on a career.

So what exactly is an Anesthesiologis? For more information on exactly what an Anesthesiologist does, there are some good websites to check out. Again, Mom's bias may be evident.

Canadian Anesthesiologists' Society
University of Southern California Keck School
Department of Anesthesiology at the University of Michigan

Monday, October 22, 2007


Today I want to put some links up that I use all the time in my role as housewife/homemaker. I am not very good at this part of my being, and therefore need all the help I can get.

I found this site about 1 month ago, and I have to say that if you stick to the plan as it is described, so far, it seems to work.

I have been struggling for years with the whole "what's for dinner" question. I now use the basic plan from Leann's book and put it on our calendar in the kitchen for all to see. No more "what's for dinner" questions!
I found a fun site that gives tips on decorating, links to purchase items that featured here and lots of links to other sites. Very mod!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Twilight Book Review

I don't have many talents, but one may just be that I can read a good book of fiction in record time. I am going to add book reviews to my blog because. . .well, because I can.

I just fininshed reading Twilight by Stephanie Meyer, and I LOVED it.

My daughter actually checked this book out of her high school library and was too afraid to read it. She had heard from her friends that this was a good book, but then realized it was about Vampires. This fact, that the book is a love story that includes a vampire, had me almost skipping over it too. But my curiosity won out. I had seen it on Amazon a few times and always seen rave reviews, and so I figured I could read the first chapter of it and put it down if I didn't get too hooked. By the end of the first chapter I wasn't hooked, but I wasn't bored either so I continued on.

I believe it was about the middle of the second chapter where I became hooked, and honestly couldn't put this book down!

I admit, although I am what I would classify as an avid reader, I like junk food books, I am not a caviar loving book snob. While I have enjoyed some of the classics, like A Tale of Two Cities and Anna Karenina, I have to read these slow and steady, or on tape. This is one of the best books I have read, ever!

I remember having to sneak around as a teenager to gobble up Forever by Judy Blume. My mother would have been horrified if she had known that I was reading books about teenagers having sex. But I was, and teenage girls will always want to know about true love and how other people deal with the whole sex question. That is why I find Ms Meyers' take on this so interesting. I am sure that at some point in one of the follow up books, she will have to address this, but abstinence is the only choice when your boyfriend struggles not to kill every time he simply smells you. Let's face it, now days, one sexual encounter with the wrong person could kill our girls. To have this incredibly romantic book focus so. . .convincingly on how incredible it can be to develop a relationship without extreme physical contact is. . .well. . .amazing!

I look forward to the conversations I will have with my daughter once she is finished with this book.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Avid Bookworm Part

I love to read. I really love to read fiction. I like scarey stories, and romances, and mysteries and thrillers. Toward that end, I would really like to read the following books:

The Book Thief
Looking for Alaska
The Thirteenth Tale: A Novel
Case Histories: A Novel
Ender's Game
Possession: A Romance
The Shotgun Rule: A Novel
The Chicago Way

Happiness is Friends and Fun

I finished reading Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury last night and was reminded of a good friend of mine. Like Mr Halloway, Stef reminds me that laughter can keep away death itself. Life is way too serious most of the time and it is way too short to go through it with worry, and pain, and such tragedy!

So, it is in honor of Stef, I want to list some sites that help me keep smiling when Stef is away at school:
A great site that is all about escaping adulthood. They have everything from tips on how to be more childlike to toys and books and pictures to help you take a break.
My favorite site for letting loose and nuturing my inner geek. Not to mention this is a great site to get fun gifts for that geek friend we all have!
While I am still not positive that I believe the places Alexander tells us about exist, this blog gives me real hope that I will one day be happy at work. Great tips and ideas about changing things so you can get to that place.