Mar 19, 2017 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Something Old

Something Old

Weeks ago, my friend Britt (of Confessions of a Book Habitue, and please pretend there’s an accent on that last ‘e’) and I decided that–for kicks–we’d read something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue; I chose Parrot in the Oven: mi vida for my something old, because I’m pretty sure I bought it while I was still in college.  (I graduated from BYU in 2000–how is that 17 years ago?!)  Which means that I’ve moved it five times or so, possibly more.

It may be only a mass market edition, but still.

I will, however, NOT be moving it again.  I’m bailing on it.  In fact, if it had been longer, I’m not entirely sure I would have finished it.  I’m in a list-making mood, for some reason, so here is my review in pros and cons:

Pros

  1.  It was an interesting book–and it read quickly.
  2.  It didn’t have a terrible ending.
  3.  It will probably speak to Latino teens in less-than-ideal situations–at least to some degree.  Certainly it will appeal to teenage boys far more than it did to me.
  4.  It was basically well-written.  Some reviewers took exception to the episodic nature of the book, but it worked.

Cons

  1.  Martinez’s metaphors (isn’t that just fun to say?) get heavy handed.
  2.  At least half of the Spanish words and phrases that I googled were words I didn’t care to know (although I suppose that explains why they didn’t sound even remotely familiar in the first place).
  3. While I had compassion for a few of the characters, I didn’t find most of them to be particularly likable.
  4. The main character’s little sister exhibits, within the same chapter, traits of an infant, a toddler, and a kindergartener.  If you don’t know anything about small children, don’t write about one OR do your homework; a child who must be watched constantly so that she doesn’t fall off of the couch should not, in the same scene, tie her own shoe.  My hubby pointed out that this is also poor editing, but seriously?
  5.  I don’t particularly enjoy reading about characters in bad situations who make self-defeating choices.  I know it happens, but I don’t find reading about it to be entertaining.

There you have it.  In my opinion, there’s a reason that, while it won the National Book Award in 1996, I purchased a bargain copy–a remainder–sometime before the fall of 2000.  Parrot in the Oven apparently came out at the perfect time, but it has flaws, and those flaws diminish its staying power.  The good news, of course, is that I’ve read it, and now it can leave my house!  On to something new!

Parrot in the Oven: Mi vida


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Mar 17, 2017 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Bits of Nothing

Bits of Nothing

  1.  I am absurdly excited to have chocolate chocolate chip banana muffins for breakfast tomorrow morning.  It’s a Saturday morning tradition, but last week there was all the vomit.
  2. I’ve been practicing Sunday’s hymns for a month; we’ll see how I do.  The one is long and fairly hard, but it’s also fabulous, perfect for the lesson, and rarely sung.  The other isn’t bad, but it’s still a new hymn for me.
  3. Watching my 4-year-old son down a Costco hot dog and then ask me if he could have his sister’s was somewhat disturbing.
  4.  Five gallon buckets of sheet rock mud–of the topping variety–are really, really heavy.
  5. Tomorrow is supposed to hit 79, and it feels so wrong to be contemplating using the AC on March 18th.
  6. I like our elementary school, but MUST they have so many fundraisers?
  7. One eye tooth down, three to go.
  8. Why am I so tired when I don’t feel like I accomplished all that much today?
  9. Would pasta three nights in a row be a bad thing?
  10. I miss being able to do puzzles without toddler “help.”
Mar 15, 2017 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Last Night’s Pie

Last Night’s Pie

Yesterday was, of course, March 14th–Pi(e) day.  I’m still trying to make fun traditions with my kids, and making pie for 3.14 seemed doable this year.  (Partly because my lovely niece was up for the day, which meant an extra adult in case the kiddos got grouchy.)  I browsed my Pinterest pie board–yes, I have a pie board–and came up with this Oreo Banana Cream Pie.  And OH.  MY.  GOSH.

My older girls, whose appetites are still resetting after their flu, gave it thumbs middle; my hubby told them they were broken.  Honestly?  I had to agree.  The homemade pudding was lovely and rich–3 cups of half-and-half per pie, baby!–the crust was every bit as good as, well, crushed Oreos and melted butter can be, and the bananas were perfect.  I only put Cool Whip on half, since I had spray cream and I prefer the dairy option, but either way–SO good.  It was sweet and rich and creamy and lovely, and I ate way too much (and then had a seriously bizarre dream).  This pie is definitely happening again, which will THRILL my 2-year-old; my son, who was in bed last night, no longer eats bananas willingly.  (More for us, right?)  If you love Oreos and/or Banana Cream Pie, this is a must-try.

If not, you’re broken.  (At least a little bit.)

Mar 13, 2017 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on A Night Without Vomit!

A Night Without Vomit!

That was last night, folks–and believe me, after three nights WITH vomit, it feels like something to celebrate.  Not to mention that we no longer have to wait and wonder if any of the kids will escape, because none of them did, BUT they all seem to be on the mend.  Wahoo!

In the meantime, I read Judith Viorst’s Lulu and the Brontosaurus last week, and I’ve been trying to decide how to review it.  It had a delightfully funny tone, and the story was humorous as well; very Roald Dahl-esque.  Lulu is a spoiled brat of a child who marches off to find a brontosaurus for a pet, since her parents won’t agree to give her one for her birthday.  (They’ve always given in to her tantrums before.)  She ends up finding more than she bargains for and becoming a less objectionable child in the process, which (again) makes for a fun story; I think my issue with the book as a whole is how very brief it is.  A 113-page book doesn’t have to have amazing depth (although it can, depending on the author), but it ought to be noticeably more fleshed out than a picture book.  Lulu has so many illustrations and so little text that it really just wants to be a long picture book.  That would have been fine if I’d known that beforehand, but it’s no longer suitable for the child I was thinking might enjoy it; it would have been a better fit a year ago.  This is going to be a good series for kids just getting ready to graduate from the “I Can Read” books, especially girls who aren’t into super-girly.  (It would also be a fun read-aloud.)  Right now, it’s not a good match for any of my kiddos–but I may revisit it in a year or two!

Lulu and the Brontosaurus


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Mar 11, 2017 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Not Happening

Not Happening

I was totally going to review a book tonight, but then my motivation crashed and burned.  Frankly, between the time change and all of the vomiting and general digestive unpleasantness in this house in the past few days–I’m over it.  May this stomach virus pass you by!

Mar 9, 2017 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on The Next Time You Have Raspberries…

The Next Time You Have Raspberries…

…you should really try this Upside-Down Raspberry Cake.  My two-year-old LOVES raspberries, so I made this for her birthday–after all, she’s not verbal enough to tell me exactly WHAT she wants, and I wanted to try it!  And it was lovely.  Buttery, moist, raspberry-y–mmmm.    My only trouble was the done-ness–it seemed to go from gooey in the middle to slightly overdone appallingly quickly–but I’m blaming that on the altitude, since the recipe appears to be from a woman in Ohio.  And even with that to contend with, I’m totally making it again.

Okay, so that sounded high school-ish (I’m assuming they don’t say “Valley Girl” anymore?), but still.  I’ll make this, you should make this–everyone should make this.

The world would be a happier place.

Mar 7, 2017 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Not Tonight!

Not Tonight!

I have a late service project tonight, folks, and I’m going on an all day field trip with my oldest tomorrow.  I’ll be back Thursday!

Mar 5, 2017 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Every Bit As Good As I Remembered

Every Bit As Good As I Remembered

We had soup for dinner on Friday, and I was going to make banana or apple muffins to go with it; easy peasy on a day that I had to get the older girls to piano and hit the grocery store, right?  After piano, however, all four kiddos ended up playing outside together for a good long time, and it occurred to me that I could possibly try something different instead.  I grabbed some old Taste of Home magazines (as well as a couple of not-so-old Food Network magazines) and ended up happening across this Apple Cheddar Scones recipe.  I remember making it years ago and enjoying it, so I thought–why not?

Why not, indeed.  It isn’t often that something is just as delicious as you remember it being, but oh, these were lovely!  A bit salty, a hint of sweet, and lovely pieces of apple throughout, not to mention crisp on the outside and moist and tender and flaky within.  I subbed in half a cup of whole wheat flour, but I didn’t make any other changes.   I used my last Rome apple, because it was older and because it was NOT crisp, and it was just about the right amount (although next time, I’ll probably take another couple of minutes and dice a bit smaller).

Go make these, people.  Seriously.

They’re that good.

Mar 3, 2017 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on It Only Took Me A Year…

It Only Took Me A Year…

Okay, I haven’t been reading Pam Munoz (PLEASE imagine the tilde over the “n”!) Ryan’s Echo for a year, precisely, but it was a Newbery Honor book for 2016, so I’ve had it checked out of the library for that long.  My friend Andrea picked it for our book club as well, which means I’ve officially killed two birds with one stone, so to speak.  Wahoo!

More than that, however, I’ve managed to finish a book that took me more than a month to read ONLY because of my current stage of life.  It did have 588 pages, yes, but the font wasn’t small and it flowed rapidly.  I just can’t concentrate when the kiddos are awake, and I have too much to do when they’re asleep.  (To be fair, I also finished off some graphic novel-ly books in that month because I did manage to concentrate on those during the day, but still.)  Stages of life pass, however, and I have to say–Echo held up to the ickiness of reading in very small snatches better than most.  Really, it’s more three books in one than anything else; three different characters, in totally different settings, are connected to each other by a very special harmonica.  Friedrich finds it in Germany in 1933; Mike buys it in Pennsylvania in 1935; Ivy receives it in California in 1942.  The three share a gift for music and a dedication to family–and the necessity of facing down serious challenges in their lives.

Thankfully, Andrea warned me that there is NO RESOLUTION WHATSOEVER until all three stories have been mostly told–until then, we’re left with cliffhangers that rival West Wing‘s first season finale.  The ending, however, weaves all three stories together into a satisfying conclusion.  Interestingly enough, my college classmate/teacher/librarian friend Abbie didn’t like the three cliffhangers in a row as much as she wanted to, while my one complaint was with the ending.  Having been warned, I found that the cliffhangers sort of worked for me (which isn’t to say that they aren’t cruel!); the ending, however, while satisfying, ties up so much in such a short amount of time that it felt a bit tell-not-show.  I hesitate to say that a 588-page book should have been longer, but I wouldn’t have minded if Ryan had spent more time with the weaving at the end; on the other hand, that didn’t stop my thorough enjoyment of the book.  (It’s more of a technical critique.)  At the end of the day, it’s a fabulous book that I’d recommend to just about anyone.

Echo


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Mar 1, 2017 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Installment 5

Installment 5

Nathan Hale’s 5th hazardous tale is about Harriet Tubman, and it’s another fabulous blend of research and humor.  It did take me a few more pages to get into–possibly because I’ve read a few books about Harriet Tubman, and I wanted to just get to the exciting stuff–but ultimately, it was just as enjoyable as the previous four.  My favorite part was possibly the bit about Frederick Douglass (make sure you read through to the very end!), but really, the whole thing is a great read.  If you haven’t tried your 9-12-year-olds on these books, folks, delay no longer!

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