Archive from October, 2015
Oct 30, 2015 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Help.


So…sick baby.

Halloween weekend.

Third grade science fair project due this week.

Friend’s baptism.

Purchasing a car.

Two soup pots full of grapes en route to becoming freezer jam.


I need a nap.

Oct 28, 2015 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Sunday Reading

Sunday Reading

Keeping the Sabbath day holy isn’t always easy, especially when you’re wrestling small children all day long.  One of the things I’ve tried that works, however, is setting aside a ‘Sunday book.’  I always read before bed, at least, and when I’m doing better at treating the Sabbath differently, I set aside whatever book I happen to be reading in favor of something–well, I suppose the term religious covers it, although it’s not quite what I’m looking for.  That’s how I read Gordon B. Hinkley’s biography (the previous prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), and that’s how I read It is Better to Look Up: Life Experiences from the Pulpit.  It’s a relatively short book of powerful and inspiring personal experiences that have been shared in various settings by various members of our church; it’s also beautifully illustrated.  I can’t remember if it was a gift or I purchased it for myself, but I’m glad to have it, both as a book and as a resource.

It’s well worth your time and money.

Oct 26, 2015 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Should I or Shouldn’t I?

Should I or Shouldn’t I?

Okay, folks, here’s a parenting question for you.  My 9-year-old has a pair of cute black leggings that she’s been planning to wear with her Bumblebee costume to her school Halloween party, as well as with a Ladybug costume for Daddy’s work party and whichever costume she decides on for Halloween night. She wore them to school today after I assured her that I could wash them between now and then; despite my suggestion that it was a warm day and we were short on time, she ALSO wore them under her costume when she went to dance…where she then got hot and took them off.

There, presumably, they remain.  And she doesn’t have dance again until Monday.

Here’s the thing.  Since I suggested she not wear them–BECAUSE IT WAS GOING TO BE FAIRLY WARM, mind you–she just smiled sheepishly when I pointed out the problem.  She’s a smart girl–she knows it was all her.  (She didn’t even complain.)  She’s also a forgetful girl, and making a trip to fix a mistake she does make sort of frequently seems like a bailout.  On the other hand, those really were the perfect thing to wear under her costume…and it’s going to be chilly enough on Halloween night that now we have to come up with something else for her to wear instead.  Not to mention the fact that I have a sneaking desire to bail her out anyway–because she’s my sensible, responsible, helpful girlie, and it wouldn’t be that big of a deal for me to text her teacher and figure something out.


Oct 24, 2015 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Whether Your Kids Like Sports or Not

Whether Your Kids Like Sports or Not

When I requested a copy of Kid Athletes:  True Tales of Childhood from Sports Legends, I wasn’t entirely sure I was going to enjoy it.  After all, when I was a child, I was pretty much the epitome of a Bookworm; at my first college football game, my freshman roommate had to explain to me what a first down was.  I have a very athletic almost-nine-year-old, however, and I thought she’d find it interesting. Surprisingly, I did, too.

Kid Athletes covers an impressive range of sports stars, I have to say–from Tiger Woods to Danica Patrick, from Jackie Robinson to Yao Ming.  (Also Bobby Orr, and Gabby Douglas, and–like I said.  An impressive range.)  Each chapter covers a different athlete, highlighting his or her early life and how it led to a career in sports.  The book is divided into three parts, but there was quite a bit of overlap; I’m not sure I would have organized the book that way if it had been up to me, but I’m pretty sure it didn’t matter, either.  What did matter was how often I found myself wanting to tap the shoulder of the person next to me and say “hey, did you know…?”  The cartoon illustrations only made the stories more interesting (although I did find it interesting that Doogie Horner downplayed race in his cartoon figures, even when, as with Jackie Robinson, it was an important part of the athlete’s story.)  Bottom line?  These are generally compelling real-life stories of success that often involve overcoming quite a bit of adversity.  I think kids will be entertained; I hope they’ll be inspired; I know they’ll learn something new.

Oct 22, 2015 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Spellbound


I grabbed the ARC of Michele Claire Lucas’s A High and Hidden Place years ago, when I was childless and working full-time at Borders (may it rest in peace).  Honestly, I often avoid fiction about Europe during WWII–there are so many excellent non-fiction options out there–but this book was inspired by true events, and the premise was intriguing enough to hook me.  It’s been sitting with my other free Borders books ever since, waiting to be chosen; I finally pulled it out a couple of weeks ago, and now I can’t help thinking–Why did I wait this long?

A High and Hidden Place has a haunting quality reminiscent of Kate Mosse’s The Winter Ghosts, possibly because both books tell the story of a doomed community in France.  Where Mosse weaves together the recent and ancient pasts, however, Lucas gives us the story of a young woman’s past as she discovers it.  Christine Lenoir was raised in a French orphanage and has believed all her life that her parents died of influenza when she was small.  In 1963, however, as a journalist temporarily assigned to her magazine’s American office, she watches the footage of JFK’s assassination and the subsequent shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald and is disturbed by her reaction.  How did she know–immediately–that the popping sounds she heard were gunshots?  Why is she suddenly troubled by bits and pieces of unfamiliar memories?  She returns to the convent to delve into her past; it is there that she remembers being, once upon a time, Christine of Oradour.

The remnants of the village of Oradour-sur-Glane stand as a testament to the atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis; when Christine visits and learns the truth of her past, her faith is shaken and her worldview is altered forever.  What held me spellbound, however, is the fact that the past with which she must come to terms is a too-often-forgotten piece of the history of Europe during World War II.  While Christine herself is fictional, Oradour-sur-Glane is very real indeed.

To be fair, reading on an airplane is often a slightly otherworldly experience, but I would have been enthralled by A High and Hidden Place regardless.  It’s not a perfect novel, but the entire story is compelling–the true story of Oradour; Christine’s discovery of her past; her friend Sophie, a Jew who lost most of her family to the camps but retains an impressive perspective on truth and God.  I especially appreciate Lucas’s reminder that World War II was a multi-faceted tragedy; the Holocaust is an essential part of its history, but it isn’t the only part.  Lucas’s description of the fate of the village is difficult to read, especially as a mother of four–indeed, if it weren’t for the dreamlike quality of her writing, I might have found it prohibitively difficult–but so are survivor accounts of the concentration camps.  Such is history.

Ultimately, I wish I’d read this book when I was still a bookseller; I would have told my customers about this one.  That was then, however, and this is now–and so, instead, I’m telling you.

A High and Hidden Place: A Novel

New From: $5.99 USD In Stock

Oct 14, 2015 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on A Week Off

A Week Off

That’s right, folks.  My parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary earlier this year, and this weekend my brother, my sister, and I are going to celebrate with them.  Yay for family time!

I’m sure you’ll be lost without me, right?  Oh, well.  Until next week, friends–signing off!

Oct 12, 2015 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Random Thoughts on Columbus Day

Random Thoughts on Columbus Day

  1.  I miss my hometown more on Columbus day than any other day of the year.
  2. It still irritates me that my kids have school on Columbus Day.  That’s what I get for leaving my hometown.
  3. On the other hand, I am grateful my pediatrician was in today.  She gave me several good reasons to hope that my oldest’s stomach pain is still the tail end of the cruel and unusual virus that kicked us to the curb in September.
  4. Coming from a small town is pretty awesome.
  5. I am blessed in my friends.  And my family.
  6. Maybe the baby will sleep through the night for the second night in a row.  Of course, it’s been a month or so since that happened…
  7. And on that note–I really need to go to bed.  Goodnight all!
Oct 10, 2015 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Not Quite Naive

Not Quite Naive

I’ve always been a sucker for the naive narrator.  It’s what I love best about Huckleberry Finn and Red 
Scarf Girl; it creates a buffer for me when I’m reading about injustice or tragedy, so that I’m not crushed by the awfulness of it all.  (It also makes for some beautifully funny moments in literature.)  What I hadn’t thought much about until reading When the Sergeant Came Marching Home, however, is the possibility of certain variations on the idea of “naive.”

When the Sergeant Came Marching Home is told from 10-year-old Donald’s point of view.  His father has recently returned from WWII and buys a farm shortly thereafter; Donald’s mother is excited, his younger brother Pat is looking forward to seeing ducks, and Donald himself is furious.  He was perfectly happy with his life in their apartment, his school, his friends, and his daily activities, whereas the farm is boring and awful and life-ruining (so much so that he’s saving up money so that he can run away to California).  In the meantime, however, life continues, and we see that life through Donald’s eyes.

The thing about Donald is that he’s not really naive; one of his jobs as Pat’s older brother is to explain things that Pat doesn’t understand.  What makes the novel so amusing, however, is Donald’s capacity for self-deception.  Time and again throughout the novel, he assures us of his feelings, motives, and thoughts in a way that suggests he’s convinced himself that he’s telling the absolute truth, and yet there is quite often more to the story or a deliberately ignored point of view.  I’m not sure if this aspect of the novel would have attracted me nearly as much when I was a child, but any parent who’s heard a 3-year-old assure her that “he’s not tired!” when he’s hyper from exhaustion knows that there is much humor to be found in a child’s point of view.

Ultimately, Donald’s view of the world meant that I found far more humor in the book than I had expected; in fact, it pleasantly surprised me in almost every way.  My only issue was that the wrap-up and ending felt slightly awkward to me–I get the impression that Don Lemna found it easier to write the story than to finish it.  The ending wasn’t bad, mind  you (unlike the original ending of “Sweet Home Alabama,” which was so terrible one wonders how they got as far as filming it without realizing how awful it was); it just didn’t necessarily feel like an ending.  It came on a little suddenly and ended a little suddenly, and I was left thinking that another chapter or two bookending the ending wouldn’t have gone amiss.

The slight awkwardness of the ending, however, wasn’t nearly enough to dampen my enjoyment of the book as a whole.  It was funny and touching and thoroughly enjoyable, and once I finished it I put the sequel on hold at the library.  In short, When the Sergeant Came Marching Home is well worth your time.

When the Sergeant Came Marching Home

New From: $4.95 USD In Stock

Oct 8, 2015 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Seasonal Treats and Flavors

Seasonal Treats and Flavors

Alas, I’m talking about the purchased kind.  As much as I would like to be baking, I have apples to turn into applesauce, an eight-year-old whose tummy still hurts, and a baby who has started clawing desperately at her ear again.  (Not to mention various children up in the night most nights.)  I just don’t have much in me, you know?  I still have to grocery shop, though, and I’ve become incapable of passing by a new flavor of something we like.  Without further ado, then–here’s the rundown thus far!

Pumpkin Spice Mini-Wheats:  An all-around hit.  The kids enjoy them and I think they’re pretty good–and they actually have them at Costco as well as Target!

Pumpkin Spice Candy Corn:  We’re divided on this one.  I think they’re a little strong in a slightly chemically kind of way, but my kids and our carpool friends mostly enjoy them.

Pumpkin Spice (Golden) Oreos:  Surprisingly tasty, being not too strong yet not too bland.  Sold in a criminally small package for being the regular Oreo price, though.

Fruit Cremes Candy Corn (just pretend there’s an accent over that first “e”):  Weirdly addicting.  I generally don’t enjoy citrus-flavored candy (for me, it tends to be the real thing or nothing), but the Lemon Creme Meringue is good, and I can even handle the Orange Creme.  Strawberries, raspberries, and peaches and creme round out the flavors.  Tasty!

Has anyone out there tried the fall M&M flavors?  Feel free to comment and add to the review.  As a public service, of course!


Oct 6, 2015 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on An Author to Investigate Further

An Author to Investigate Further

I’ve always been a sucker for back stories, and so when I saw Winnie:  The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh on the library’s website, I ignored the stacks of library books I already have checked out and went to put it on hold.  Luckily for me, it’s actually a picture book–I can generally find the time to read those!–and it’s an interesting and enjoyable read.  I knew nothing about A. A. Milne, let alone the bear named Winnie (short for Winnipeg!) at the London zoo that inspired his most famous creation.  If possible, I knew less than nothing about Harry Colebourn, the WWI army vet that bought Winnie at a train station (I knew A. A. Milne existed, at least).  By the end of the book, I knew something of all three.  Sally M. Walker’s storytelling is simple and straightforward, and her author’s note is nicely informative.  (There appear to be other books on the same topic–one by a descendant of Harry Colebourn, I think–but I’m not into Winnie-the-Pooh enough to seek them out.  This was enough for me.)

According to the dustjacket, moreover, Walker has a good bit of experience writing history for young readers.  When I saw that one of her titles had won the Sibert medal, I looked her up on the library’s website; she has quite the diverse collection of non-fiction to her credit.  One of her other titles is currently waiting for me to pick it up at my local library branch, and I’m looking forward to it.  Stay tuned for reviews on her other titles!