Thursday, May 26, 2011

Happy Birthday, Princess!!!

picture source
Happy 23rd birthday to our spunky little package of dynamite who has made it her goal in life to constantly surprise and astound her parents.  (Like from the very moment they (we) learned you were on your way!) 

And might I add, the majority of the surprises and astonishing moments have been good ones!   :)

Keep up the good work!  I love you very much and am very proud of you and all of your accomplishments.

Oh, yeah.  And have a very Happy Birthday!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Happy Birthday, Karen!

Happy birthday to the daughter who "officially" made me a mother!  (I say "officially" since I believe life begins at conception, which makes her approximately 9 months older than the birthday she's celebrating today.)

But perhaps she doesn't want birthday wishes anymore.  Would she rather that I send her anniversary congratulations instead?  After all, it is the first anniversary of her 29th birthday.  :)


Happy birthday anniversary to my much-beloved daughter!



Saturday, May 7, 2011

Pomp and Circumstance

To my beloved daughter and son-in-law:

I am so proud of you!

It wasn't easy, but you persevered.

And I love you both so much!

Want to know how much?  At least as much as you love that precious little boy in your arms.  (And I know that's a lot!)  :)

Congratulations on your college graduation!
God bless you both!


Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Books of April 2011

  • Daisy Miller by Henry James
This is the first of several audio ebooks that I downloaded to my iPod this month.  This classic story about the Gilded Age should be taken as an allegory.  The innocent, unrealistic, romantic girl (Daisy) and the worldly-wise, realistic, concrete (Winterbourne) meet in Europe while Daisy is on a European tour with her nouveau riche family.  I classify this as an allegory because otherwise there would be no reason to feel that Winterbourne was not justified in cautioning Daisy for being too trusting of every person she met.  The real world would demand it.  But in this story, Daisy is a Pollyanna to beat all Pollyannas.  If one takes the story literally one would conclude that Daisy's mother is a complete idiot who doesn't pay enough attention to her children or care enough about them to be concerned for their welfare.

But that is obviously not the author's objective.  He wants us to know that Daisy truly is an innocent and that everything she does and thinks is pure.  We are given the hint through his name that Winterbourne is destined to be the wet blanket that spoils the fun.  And I'll end my English teacher-like description there.  Read the book (or Google it) if you want to know how it turns out.  I found it to be a well-written piece.

  • The Mummy Case by Elizabeth Peters
This is another of the audio ebooks I downloaded through the Ohio ebook Project.  And it is another installment in the "Amelia Peabody" mystery series that I and my daughter, Karen, like to read.  I love the droll humor.  I like having the foreign names and places read to me and I like the fact that everyone in the stories exhibits a great deal of intelligence.  The author herself has a Ph.D in Egyptology and is able to marry her profession with literary skills sufficient enough to infuse us with knowledge of Ancient Egypt while entertaining us at the same time.  The continuing story is written as a journal.  If the Amelia Peabody character had resided in modern times instead of Victorian England I feel sure she would have been a blogger.  And one I'd read, too.

  • Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis
I listened to this portion of the Narnian series even though I had seen the movie.  I like to compare the written words with the movie portrayals.  My aim ultimately for reading the Chronicles series is to prepare myself to see "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" movie. 

I didn't like C.S. Lewis or any of the other fantasy writers when I was a child but I like the genre now.  And having British narrators reading the stories aloud is an added bonus.  Can you tell I'm a big fan of audiobooks?  :)

  • The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis
Okay, I'm ready to watch the movie now!  So far, I've been unable to get it through my usual means, which would be or Netflix.  I may need to resort to more desperate measures soon.

    A sweetgrass basket made for me during a mission trip to Belize
  • The Spirit of Sweetgrass by Nicole Seitz
Nicole is one of the authors featured by She Reads.  If I'm not mistaken, this was her first novel.  And like her novel that I read last month The Inheritance of Beauty she based the story on a culture found in her native South Carolina Lowcountry.  This time she concentrates on the Gullah community and their disappearing basket-making craft.  Like anything historical, progress tends to eliminate some of the materials or skills needed to understand the routines of one's ancestors.  (I'm not advocating stopping the march of progress.  That's just a statement about how things are.)

This is the story of Essie Mae Jenkins, a widowed basket weaver with problems that she thinks about while making baskets as she sits at her little stand beside the road .  Some of her problems are the kind common to elderly individuals everywhere (Will she end up in that nursing home?  How is she going to pay her bills?)  and some of them are unique to her situation (What happens when the sweetgrass patches are all plowed under to make room for new development?  Why is her daughter so conniving?).

The story crosses the line between reality/imagination and earth/heaven.  It is left to the reader to decide which is which.

This is only the second of Mrs. Seitz's novels that I've read but I intend to read more.  I like her style:  kind treatment of the aging combined with pure southern charm.  You're sure to see more of her books listed here  in months to come (cf. "The List of my Lists" on the tab above).

  • The $5 Dinner Mom Breakfast and Lunch Cookbook by Erin Chase
I bought this book with a gift card at a Borders going-out-of business sale.  This means I got a frugal mom book for nothing and still have bucks on my gift card.  Gotta love it!

I've read others' reviews about the author and her books and I must say that some who wrote seem cranky and hard to please.  Sure, there are some very elementary ideas in here that obviously won't appeal to old-timer frugal gals like myself, but don't any of them know a newlywed who might need to learn some of the "how-to's" involved?  I sure do . . . but I'm not giving them my copy of the book.

Do you know why women like me buy a book like this?  For the recipes.  Yep, that's it.  I buy books about frugal cooking strictly for that reason.  Otherwise, I end up owning cookbooks that require ingredients that I don't normally buy - and don't get me started on what I went through to find capers and pine nuts - which then end up costing me more than I want to spend and usually end up with leftover bits that I have trouble using.  (So . . . know any good recipes using capers?)

So while I did find the book to be below my skill level, I did find some great recipes.  One in particular that I found interesting was for "Cincinnati Chili."  I have a variation of the recipe but am always interested to try others.  You've got to be from Cincy or the region hereabout to know what this means.  The author lives just up the road in Dayton.

  • Mayflower:  A Story of Courage, Community and War by Nathaniel Philbrick
This book was previewed in the latest edition of "The Buckeye Mayflower" newsletter and it sounded so good that I couldn't wait to read it.  I'm glad I did!

Like many, my knowledge of America's history has some gaps in it.  I think it is because curriculum tends to jump from the time of the Pilgrim landing to that of the American Revolution.  That's a pretty big gap!  It wasn't until I began researching my family history that I realized that many of my ancestors fought in - and some died in - a conflict known as "King Philip's War." It was fought a little over 50 years after that friendly Separatists-Native American encounter that we Americans celebrate each year on the fourth Thursday of November.  What happened?!!  Read the book to find out! 

It really isn't a new story when one realizes that human depravity existed on both sides of all culture wars and that children rarely have the same goals as their fathers.  Just read the Biblical account of the Children of Israel in the Promised Land found in the Book of Judges if you need proof that this is an ancient struggle.  There are many similarities.  "King" Philip (the son of the friendly native, Massasoit) and Josiah Winslow (the son of Mayflower passenger, Edward Winslow) were the two opposing personalities that set the conflict in motion.  Neither inherited the vision of his own father.

This book was well written.  The many pages of source notes in the back were just as interesting to me as the narrative.  I understand that there is a children's version of this book as well but I have not seen it.  It might be of interest to parents of homeschoolers, as we are the ones who tend to try to "fill in the gaps" for our children wherever possible.

  • Priceless by Tom Davis
Whenever I read one of Mr. Davis's novels I want to do something.  Mr. Davis is a She Reads author who advocates Christian humanitarian efforts through his stories.  In this case it is prostitution/slavery and in Scared it was genocide and the AIDS crisis in Africa.  In both stories, women and children are the focus because of the abuse that they suffer.

Slavery is alive.  You know that, don't you?  It is and it shows just what a sick world we have.  The story found in this book is the sequel to the aforementioned one.  The unlikely hero, Stewart, is no James Bond, just an ordinary reporter.  These stories are about his unintended involvement in rescue attempts.  By the time the reader is finished, she will want to get involved in the rescue of these young victims, too.  The good news is that she can be.  Visit for more information.

Those are the books that I read in April.  Some of them were just fun reads and some were pretty heavy to digest.  There wasn't a bad one among the bunch.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Here's To The Bear!

Look at all the things you've become in such a short time (to me, anyway):
  • Beloved son
  • Adored brother
  • Cherished grandson
  • Accomplished uncle
  • Redeemed child of God
May the next 16 years and the rest of your life be just as blessed!

Happy Birthday!