Sunday, May 31, 2009

Book Review -- Lean Forward Into Your Life

Lean Forward into Your Life: Begin Each Day As If It Were on Purpose Lean Forward into Your Life: Begin Each Day As If It Were on Purpose by Mary Anne Radmacher

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
Mary Anne's books have become my bedside standard for growth, inspiration and insight. With just a few pages, she makes you feel like you can change your life and conquer the world.

View all my reviews.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Tick Tock Tick Tock Boomer Sooner….

The sound you hear is the beginning of the countdown to kick-off of the OU/BYU football game in Dallas on Sept. 5th. Let the onslaught of 100 days of trash talk between my beloved and I commence!

The Uncreative Goddess….

I haven’t read Sophie Kinsella’s novel of a similar name, but I do feel like I could be the central character in such a story.

I have been a member of the church my entire life, but somehow have failed to learn any of the creative arts normally associated with most LDS mothers…I neither sew, craft, quilt, paint, decorate, bake, can nor party plan. I can put together a meal fairly effortlessly, but I wouldn’t say I’m a gourmand of cook, in other words, I can follow a recipe with the best of ‘em. I was raised by parents whose talents were elsewhere – my mother was a dance teacher, my father a football coach, so our at home activities focused on numerous ballet and tap classes and sports, sports, sports. Neither was musically inclined, so music lessons weren’t high priority either, but how to dribble a basketball, recognize a cover 2 defense, or do an arabesque, were.

I also married much later than the general demographic of the church – so whether that contributed to my continued lack of creative talent or not, I’m not sure. But I do know that I’m significantly more comfortable speaking to a group of 200 people, than I am staring at my very high-tech, but rarely used sewing machine. And don’t think I haven’t tried – I’ve taken sewing, quilting, upholstery, drawing and water color classes. All have ended in utter failure. My quilting class was comical, when I realized and had to do MATH to cut squares! Or in my water color class when I realized I had to DRAW the picture before actually painting it. Same with upholstery – I thought, how difficult can it be – rip off some old material and staple on new. No one told me I had to use the evil sewing machine to create cording and chair skirts.

My children are the unintended casualties of my uncreativity. They will never have cute Halloween costumes crafted by their mother. Or sentimental scrapbooks with every “first” recorded in creative splendor. Or “themed” birthday parties with homemade masterpiece cakes and awesome party favors. They will however, be able to enjoy a book, because I am VERY good at reading…lots and lots of reading.

With this in mind, I’m undertaking a 12-step program. No, I’m not a closet addict in need of treatment. I am, however, an uncreative specimen seeking a creative boost. I’ve discovered a “how-to” manual to help in my endeavor – Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity.” I think this is considered “boot camp” for the creatively-challenged. Ms. Cameron claims that after her 12 week program, my repressed, creative juggernaut will be released in all of its glory. I doubt I will have mastered all of the aforementioned Mormon talents, but I do hope I see creative aspects in my life that went previously unnoticed. She advocates writing 3 pages, in LONG HAND, every morning before the day starts – stream of consciousness style. With summer here and the children sleeping later than normal, I think that is a goal I can manage before my sleeping giants awake. There are other tasks and assignments that she suggests, that I hope I can commit myself too.

I look forward to this challenge. I’m curious to see who emerges on the other side. I will be posting updates as the week’s progress. I’ve purchased new pens and notebooks, like I’m heading off to my first day of class. Maybe I need a pencil box too?? Possibly a backpack? If anyone wants to join the training program, climb aboard!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Book Review -- A Guide to the Birds of East Africa

A Guide to the Birds of East Africa A Guide to the Birds of East Africa by Nicholas Drayson

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
A quirky, romantic novel (featuring an unlikely, lovelorn, middle aged, widower) about a men’s club, a contest and birds – lots and lots of birds!

Mr. Malik has his heart set on taking Rose Mbikwa (his bird watching tour guide) to the Hunt club ball. Unfortunately, Harry Khan, Mr. Malik’s long time school adversary, has his own plans to court Mrs. Mbikwa.

In order to solve their love triangle, the men agree to a contest of sorts – within a week, find and list as many bird species known in and around Nairobi Kenya. The resulting week’s escapades are charming. The contest ends unpredictably. Who ends up with Rose’s hand for the ball? A surprise for everyone!

This was a “cute” read – luckily it was more “novella” than novel, so it didn’t take me long to finish. I couldn’t have spent more than two days on this before tiring easily. But it got me through the Memorial Day weekend.

View all my reviews.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Time is Running Out!

Booking Mama is giving away copies of Daphne du Maurier’s Frenchman’s Creek. My book group read both Rebecca and The Glass Blowers. We love us some du Maurier! If you like contests, check her out – the deadline is today – midnight EST.

Frenchman's Creek

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Welcome to Gerbera Daisy Diaries!

I hope you all will come visit often and pick up a link to add to your own blog, because if nothing else, it’s really cute!

Why Gerbera Daisies you might ask?? Well, I think it goes without saying that gerbera daisy colors are deep, rich and gorgeous, and frankly, when I look at them they make me smile. Additionally, gerbera daisies were my wedding flowers and they were the ONLY thing PERFECT about my wedding day (with the exception of my beloved!). The day was a disaster – and without going into the gory details, the flowers, were the only thing worth remembering. I would provide a picture of my beautiful table centerpieces – perfect yellow, red and pink daisies in mason jars tied with grosgrain ribbon – if my really horrible photographer had actually taken a picture of them! But he didn’t – so all I have is the memory of my wonderful flowers in their perfect Mason jar vase. To this day, I can’t look at my wedding pictures without a huge amount of anger welling up inside of me. So, I use gerbera daisies as my talisman of all things good and wonderful.

I know there are millions of bloggers out there with styles all of their own, but I want this to be a place of sunshine, inspiration, literature, dreams, sharing and friends – and in the fall – football! I hope you feel welcomed here and introduce yourselves when you visit.

This is a place where I can share all my loves. If nothing else, it’s a place of my own.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Note to Self

When having women over for book group -- don't EVER fix fish sticks for dinner for the kiddos! Blech! Stinky house!

Great discussion though. Our June book selection is Back When We Were Grownups, by Anne Tyler. Anyone read this before?? Just curious...

Thursday, May 21, 2009

My Slice of Heaven

It’s book group night – my favorite night of the month. It’s the one night I feel like I can take off all the “hats” I wear – mother, wife, friend, PTA volunteer, chauffer, maid – and just be ME. I can talk grown-up talk with like minded women (who range in ages from twentysomething to seventysomething) about one of our passions – reading books. We’ve been meeting for 6 years – and I didn’t think our group would last 6 months.

I’d like to think I was a book groupie long before Madame Oprah made it vogue to belong to a book group with her official Oprah stamped books. I moved to Washington DC in 1993 (Oprah’s club started in 1996, I think?) to start my first “real” job out of college. Not soon thereafter, my friends from church invited me to their book group. Keep in mind, I’d never read for pleasure. College reading was a necessity and I don’t remember much about High School lit classes, nor did I read any of the childhood classics I was supposed to. So, the thought of picking up a book for enjoyment was totally foreign to me. The book selection that night was Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel. Between the book and discussion, my world was changed forever. I discovered that, first, I love food writing! Oh, the glories of reading about the delicacies in her book made me weep. Plus, I had no idea how much fun it would be to sit around talking “book talk.” And the refreshments after were, quite literally, icing on the cake.

After nearly 5 years of living in DC, my future husband swept me off my feet and moved me to NYC, where my monthly book group ceased. We had no friends, we commuted 3 hours a day, and worked 12 hour days. It was like living in a vast literary waste land. NYC was not meant for us, so after two years of managing the Big Apple, we were happily pregnant and off to the South. My first goal (after trying to figure out how to deal with a sleepless newborn), was to start a book group. I knew it would be essential to my survival as a new mom and individual. When my daughter turned one, I took the plunge. I sent out postcards to my friends at church, and the following month I had 10 ladies sitting in my very cozy, living room. We picked the classic, To Kill a Mockingbird, and the rest is history.

Our numbers have grown and shrunk over the years, but every third Thursday I still get giddy over book group night. Some women scrapbook, paint, take Zumba classes, spend time baking -- I am talent-less in all of the above. But I can read and I can talk – so book group is a perfect fit for me to be ME.

Book Review -- The Good Good Pig

The Good Good Pig: The Extraordinary Life of Christopher Hogwood The Good Good Pig: The Extraordinary Life of Christopher Hogwood by Sy Montgomery

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Summary: Montgomery's books on exotic wildlife (Journey of the Pink Dolphins, etc.) take her to the far corners of the world, but the story of her closest relationships with the animal kingdom plays out in her own New England backyard. When she adopts a sickly runt from a litter of pigs, naming him Christopher Hogwood after the symphony conductor, raising him for slaughter isn't an option: Montgomery's a vegetarian and her husband is Jewish. Refitting their barn to accommodate a (mostly) secure sty, they keep Christopher as a pet. As he swells to 750 pounds, he becomes a local celebrity, getting loose frequently enough that the local police officer knows to carry spare apples to lure him back home. The pig also bonds with Montgomery's neighbors, especially two children who come over to help feed him and rub his tummy. Montgomery's love for Christopher (and later for Tess, an adopted border collie) dominates the memoir's emotional space, but she's also demonstrably grateful for the friendships the pig sparks within her community. The humor with which she recounts Christopher's meticulous eating habits and love of digging up turf is sure to charm readers.

I never thought I would read a book about a 750lb pet pig. But, indeed I have.

Sy Montgomery's memoir about her beloved pet pig is a cross between a latter-day Noah's tale and Wilbur in Charlotte's Web, minus the spider but with the addition of "The Ladies" and Tess, her rescued border collie.

I am not an animal love, nor owner, but after reading about Sy's menagerie, I'm ready to move to a farm with lots of animals and start feeding my scraps to a rotund pig! This was a light, manageable book (I finished it in two days). It was a delight to read.

View all my reviews.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Book Review -- Julie

It's book group week, and the following book was our selection for the month of May.

Julie Julie by Catherine Marshall

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Summary: Marshall, author of the classic Christy, drew on her life experiences for this coming-of-age story in which a young girl discovers herself and the strength of her faith.

Julie, is a heartwarming, coming of age story about the struggles a young lady encounters with her family in post-depression Pennsylvania. Julie's family purchase the small town's local newspaper, and in doing so, encounter financial, political, and faith-based, tests. Her father's chronic illness, propels Julie in to a position of leadership and responsibility at the newspaper. Her talent as an investigative reporter also uncovers devastating news about an improperly built dam, that will prove prophetic and catastrophic.

Juile was our book group selection for the month of May. It was a delightful read, reminiscent of the work of L. M. Montgomery.

View all my reviews.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Book Blog Giveaway!

I’m a late bloomer when it comes to all things literary. Somehow I bypassed the reading requirements in both high school and college, so I’m trying to play “catch-up” in my 40s. As a newbie in the blogosphere, I’m also discovering bibliophile bloggers. A site I recently discovered thru Book Club Girl is, Stephanie’s Written Word. If you are a bookie and enjoy reading new authors, check out Stephanie’s giveaway of a new novel entitled, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford. It’s been on my “to-read” since I first read about it in Book Page. Drop her a comment and you are automatically entered to win! If you happen to win, you better loan me the copy to read!
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet: A Novel

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Monday, May 11, 2009

How the Grinch Stole Mother's Day

Suffice it to say, I spent most of Mother’s Day with a chip on my shoulder approximately the size of the Grand Canyon. The reason – DH said he didn’t have time to get me a Mother’s Day gift. No gift, no messy breakfast in bed, no homemade treats from the kiddos, no half-dead bouquet of flowers from the grocery store, nothing, nada, zip, zilch. Oh, I got a card. This from a man who spent the entire previous week in LA – the Land-o’-Gifts – while I, on the other hand, spent the week up to my elbows in poop and pee as I potty trained OUR three year old. (I was successful, I might add – he hasn’t had an accident in a week and he is waking up dry in the morning – forget the gift, I need a MEDAL!)

Then I remembered this…

And this…

And this…

Yesterday marked the 3rd anniversary of our newly potty trained son’s open heart surgery to correct a congenital heart defect. After his successful surgery, our baby boy suffered nearly fatal post-operative complications. For 48 hours we kept a vigil not knowing whether his almond-sized, newly plumbed, heart was going to recover from its abnormal arrhythmia. On hour 49 – we walked into his CVICU room and the first words out of his cardiovascular intensivist’s mouth were, “I think we’ve turned a corner.” From that moment on, his recovery was fairly text book and we were discharged 3 weeks later. We’ve had some secondary issues since that surgery – gross motor skill and speech delays – but otherwise, he is a happy, healthy, comedic, 3 year old.

Perspective smacked me squarely in the face. I immediately took out my groveling shovel and started filling my “chip” with lots of repentance, humility, and gratitude. I forgot about presents and reflected on the three glorious years I’ve had as the Mom to this precious boy – and the two other heart healthy children I’ve been blessed with. They are truly magnificant!

Then I went to the grocery store and bought myself a 50% discounted bouquet of flowers.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Live Boldly: Cultivate the Qualities That Can Change Your Life Live Boldly: Cultivate the Qualities That Can Change Your Life by Mary Anne Radmacher

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
I attended two of this author's seminars during the Arkansas Literay Festival. She was a breath of fresh air. The peace and intellect she brought to the "classroom" was tangible.

I loved this book and wrote MANY quotes and ideas from it in my journal.

View all my reviews.