Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Things Can Only Get Better

I may be taking a few days off blogging but I will be back soon. I'm going through a particularly bad time right now and prayers are very very welcome. I can't share with you what is going on because the story is not mine alone but I CAN say that things are as bad as they have been in a long time.

Oddly enough, I find Howard Jones' song "THINGS CAN ONLY GET BETTER" running through my head today:

"And do you feel scared? I do. But I won't stop and falter."

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


(WARNING: Political blather ahead)

I live in California. I am a Christian liberal with lots of gay friends. Several of my gay friends have chosen to get married. I'm very disappointed with the Court's decision today regarding Proposition 8.

I know that people have strong feelings about homosexuality. That's fine. Believe what you want to believe. But don't take away the rights of our fellow citizens! Allowing gay people to marry does not take anything AWAY from heterosexual people. By allowing legislation to pass like Proposition 8, we are making a large segment of society into second-class citizens. People who live and work beside us and pay taxes just like we do. What right do we have to say they cannot marry?!! I do not understand this. What's next? Telling gay people they do not have the right to vote?!

I look around the world today and sometimes I get sad. But one thing that makes me happy is when I see loving committed relationships. It's not an easy thing to have these days. We don't see much of it in the news or in our entertainment. We don't have many positive role models in this department. That's why I believe we should support such relationships and not try and tear them down.

We have always been a country of freedoms. Why would we deny a basic freedom to some our citizens? I don't get it.

LAWS OF HARMONY by Judith Ryan Hendricks

I won a copy of LAWS OF HARMONY from and finally had a chance to pick it up.

Sunny Cooper has spent years recovering from her unconventional childhood growing up in a commune in New Mexico. She thinks she has finally achieved a "normal" life when her boyfriend dies in a car accident and she discovers he may have been involved in shady business dealings. As Sunny is faced with more revelations, she escapes to Washington to sort out her life in a small coastal town.

This book reminded me a great deal of LOVE AND BIOLOGY AT THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE. However, where that book failed me, this one succeeded. The characters seemed to be more complex and I like the small mysteries throughout the book. The conclusion doesn't tie everything up nicely but leaves you wanting more. I had decided how I thought the book would end and then was very surprised with where it left off. I can easily see Hendricks revisiting these characters although she has said there will be no sequel. I liked the complexities of the story and the fact that Hendricks doesn't allow her characteres easy happy endings. Sunny has to face a lot of demons and figure out what she wants and that isn't always an easy thing. The book felt very honest to me and I really enjoyed it.

BOTTOM LINE: Recommended. While the plot of a woman trying to escape her past and reinvent herself in a new place is not novel material, Hendricks is very successful in finding a new way to present it. Very well-drawn characters and interesting themes.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Tempus Fugit

Another birthday?!!!

I think having children makes you much more aware of the passage of time. I was almost blissfully unaware of the days going by before Noodlebug was born. I haven't even really cared about celebrating a birthday since my 30th when I got engaged and went to Disneyland. Now, I have never been MORE aware of time. Every day I see my little one grow and change and it fills me with...panic!!! Where is the time going? I feel like I'm going to turn around and he will be heading off to college. I know this sounds a little neurotic but hey...I'm a little neurotic.

We just had a lovely first birthday for Noodlebug and you know what? First birthdays are a lot more fun than 34th birthdays. My birthday falls on Memorial Day this year and I would like to just pretend that this weekend is extended bonding time with my family and completely ignore my birthday altogether. I don't need any gifts. Except maybe the gift of time. (and some birthday cards because I LOVE getting cards in the mail!)

I hope you all have a lovely Memorial Day weekend. Spend lots of quality TIME with your family and friends and remember those people who have given their time to serve our country.


Sunday, May 17, 2009


If I were to create a recipe for THE FORGOTTEN GARDEN, it would be "mix Setterfield's THIRTEENTH TALE with Byatt's POSSESSION and throw in a dash of Burnett's SECRET GARDEN." A delicious concoction indeed! I saw this book in Barnes and Noble and picked it up on a whim. I liked the cover and the story sounded interesting. Something about it spoke to me. I wasn't disappointed. I could NOT put this book down. I carried it with me everywhere hoping to find stolen moments in which to read it.

THE FORGOTTEN GARDEN tells the story of a four-year-old girl named Nell who was found on a dock in Australia all by herself. The girl will not reveal her name and origins and is raised by a kindly man and his wife. She learns the truth of her origins on her 21st birthday and begins a quest to find her true identity that will last throughout her life and into her grand-daughter's life. The story takes us from Australia to England and back and forth through time as we are given tantalizing glimpses into Nell's story.

BOTTOME LINE: HIGHLY recommended. There are times when I worry about liking a book because I fear it won't hold up to its promise. I wasn't disappointed this time. The book offers an intriguing family mystery while telling a story about the importance of roots and family and how it all affects our identity.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Big Day

Tomorrow is Noodlebug's first birthday party. I'm all a-twitter hoping it will go all right.

I wanted to thank those of you who sent birthday tags. I am so touched and they really mean a lot to me. They will be going in his baby book and someday I will point to them and say, "When you were a baby, Mommy belonged to a wonderful community of bloggers were people supported and inspired one another and committed incredible generous acts all the time!" Once the party is over, I will be sending out your thank-you packages. I'm already putting them together and I hope you will enjoy the goodies.

I am taking Monday off (Noodlebug's actual birthday) so I can spend some quality time with my (gulp) one-year-old. I tear up just thinking about it. What an amazing, difficult, crazy, wonderful year it has been. Thank you all for sharing it with me!!!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


I saw an ad for this book in the New York Times Book Review. The cover immediately caught my eye and I was surprised to see that a book with this kind of cover would be written by Jane Hamilton of BOOK OF RUTH fame. The premise sounded interesting. Laura Rider, co-owner of a landscaping business, decides to write a romance novel and uses her husband Charlie and radio talent Jenna as models for her characters. The book was touted to be a "sex comedy" with Hamilton's "winning humor" on display. I did not find this book humorous in the least. Hamilton spend the first half of the book setting up Rider as a sympathetic character experimenting with a new hobby at an important stage in her life. The book then takes an unexpected turn as Rider is mocked and vilified and turned into a joke. The characters didn't come off as funny, they came off as sad. They are people trying desperately to make connections and they are turned into a joke while doing so. Hamilton makes a mockery of her characters and her subject matter. Charlie ended up being the only sympathetic character and even he was painted as a buffoon. I'm sure Hamilton thought herself very clever in having Rider create her own romantic experiment in throwing two unlikely lovers together but the whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth.

BOTTOM LINE: Not recommended. If you really want a sex comedy, skip this one. You won't find anything worthwhile here.

Awkward Family Photos

This site is too good not to share. I have been laughing all day:


Leave a comment with your favorites!!

Friday, May 08, 2009

Chocolate for Mother's Day (and beyond!)

In case you haven't heard, MARS is giving away 250,000 coupons for a free chocolate bar (includes M&M'S® Brand, MILKY WAY® Brand, SNICKERS® Brand, 3 MUSKETEERS® Brand, TWIX® Brand and DOVE® Brand products) every Friday until September 25, 2009.

(limit ONE coupon per e-mail address per Friday and FOUR coupons per household during the promotion)

Go here for your chocolate-y goodness:

Thursday, May 07, 2009

MOMMYWOOD by Tori Spelling

Tori Spelling and I are close in age and, in a lot of ways, I feel as if we have grown up together. I never really cared much for Ms. Spelling, however, until my mother convinced me to check out her reality show. I expected to find in the show an opportunity to mock Tori Spelling and have all my more uncharitable ideas about her confirmed. I was surprised to discover how funny and self-deprecating she can be. I also appreciated her various neuroses because they rang an all-too-familiar bell with me. After discovering a new appreciation for Tori Spelling through her reality show, I was very interested to read her book, STORI TELLING. It was a disappointment. I found no real insights or new bits of information. The book proved to be a bit of a slog. Still, when I heard her new book would chronicle her experiences as a mother, I had to check it out.

MOMMYWOOD presents Tori Spelling as a mother and also as a celebrity trying for a bit of normalcy. This book is much more entertaining and revealing than her first. Spelling is actually quite funny and pulls no punches when it comes to exposing her neuroses and issues. As a new mom myself, I found it interesting to see how a celebrity deals with many of the same issues. Of course, I don't have a baby nanny, housekeeper or camera crew but moms are still moms.

BOTTOM LINE: Recommended. If you are interested in Tori Spelling, read this book and skip STORI TELLING. Better yet, check out her reality show to see her charming ditziness in action. If you are not a Spelling fan, skip this one.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Philip Gulley

I am currently reading my second Philip Gulley book, PORCH TALK, and I am delighted by the little gems I am finding. Gulley is a storyteller of small-town American life. Very reminiscent of Garrison Keillor. However, Gulley's books definitely have a Christian bent to them. He writes both fiction and non-fiction. (I recently finished the first book in his Harmony fiction series) The chapters are short. Usually just a few pages. However, I save them for reading just before bedtime because they usually leave a smile on my face. Gulley's common sense approach to life and his "love letters" to small-town life are both charming and meaningful.

I just finished a chapter on gratitude and this part especially resonated with me:

"I'm grateful my father warned against arrogance. I meet adults who think they're big shots and they are insufferable.

I'm grateful my mother taught me to question religious claims. A lot of damage is done when we invest religious leaders with great power. A little skepticism in matters religious never hurts. Ditto for politics.

I'm grateful my parents taught me to measure people by how they treated those who served them. Beware of people who treat waiters and waitresses poorly. They'll treat you that way too.

I'm grateful my parents urged me to get a paper route when I was eleven. The job taught me responsibility and not to despise the poor who were usually more generous with their tips than my wealthy customers.

I'm grateful my parents had me. I once told them I didn't ask to be born but now I'm glad they didn't wait for my permission. Life has its difficult moments but it also holds deep joys such as springtime and children and the day after Christmas."

I have been utterly charmed by Gulley's works. While his books are definitely Christian in nature, they would not be off-putting to non-Christians. The books make me feel wistful about a way of life that seems to be slipping away and that I would love to see us all regain.

There is truly a lot to be grateful for and Gulley's books are a good reminder.

Monday, May 04, 2009


I first heard about this book through two blogs, Library Love Fest and Knitted and Purled. It sounded like an intriguing look into the lives of quiet desperation led by a group of Ukrainian women in 1960s Canada. The book reminded me of films like A WALK ON THE MOON and DIRTY DANCING. Maybe even a little "Ya-Ya Sisterhood" thrown in.

THE LADIES' LENDING LIBRARY follows the lives of a group of Ukrainian women summering at a lake in 1960s Canada. The close-knit lives of the women are interwoven with secrets and disappointments. The center of the story is meant to be an affair but the affair proves to be a fairly undeveloped side story. I found the best part of the novel to be the lives of the children. Keefer captures children in that nebulous phase between childhood and adulthood very very well. The children were much more compelling in their inner lives than the women themselves. I was disappointed at how the story developed. It wasn't very clear what the author ultimately wanted to get across. The most compelling storylines were dropped and the cliched affair is allowed to provide the ultimate denouement. There were so many characters in the story, many of them with similar names, that I often had to flip back through the book to figure out who was who.

BOTTOM LINE: Not recommended. It was a quick read with interesting characters but the plot seemed muddled and confused. The book would make a good beach read but don't go into it expecting anything particularly new.