Sunday, June 30, 2013

What I Read: May & June

 Hey Friends!

Looking for a good book recommendation?  Here's a rundown on what I read in May & June:
 The Fault in Our Stars, John Green (4 stars).  Holy cow.  This is the best Green book, yet.  What a story!  What an awesome cast of characters:  sad, brave, triumphant teenagers living with cancer.  Brilliant writing.  All the characters felt completely believable.  Loved it (and so did Emily!).
Tiny, Beautiful Things, Cheryl Strayed (3 1/2 stars).  This is a compilation of some of the "Dear Sugar" columns written by the author of Wild.  I liked seeing this side of Cheryl, and I loved that each of her answers was carefully considered.  Each piece of advice was given as if she was speaking to a treasured friend.  
 This Book Will Save Your Life, AM Homes (4 stars). Big, glorious story with an unlikely hero.  I loved it.  It asks the question of why certain people come in and out of our lives.
 The Mistress's Daughter, AM Holmes (2 1/2 stars).  Homes' adoption story.  Lots of family genealogy.  I'm not sure what to think about her birth mom, but her birth dad was a total jerk.  As you can probably tell, I got on an AM Homes kick in May, and read pretty much everything I could get my hands on, including this autobiography.
 In a Country of Mothers, AM Homes (2 1/2 stars).  This novel borrowed heavily from Homes' own adoption story, which I had just read.  The character of Claire ended up being pretty messed up and a little creepy.
 The Birth House, Ami McKay (3 1/2 stars).  This is a simple story with a nice ending.  It takes place in a quiet town in Nova Scotia.  The main character, Dora, becomes the town midwife and has to overcome stereotypes and fear to win the hearts of the townsfolk who are torn between how things have always been done and the allure of modern medicine.  In the process, she discovers her own strength and learns how to take control her own life.
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, Anthony Marra (3 1/2 stars).  It took me a good long while to get through this book, but I'm glad I stuck with it until the end.  This is the story of a village in Chechnya from 1994-2004 and the Russians and refugees who lived and struggled during that time.  Through a series of well-orchestrated coincidences, the reader discovers how all of the main characters are entwined with each other.  Sonja, (the driven surgeon), Natasha (her sister), Haava (the 8-year-old), Dokka (Haava's dad), Khassan and his son (the informer), & Ramzan all play roles in the fate of each other.  This book is sad and haunting and beautiful.   
 The Woman Upstairs, Claire Messud (4 stars).  I loved this book about the complexities of friendship.  It's a book about betrayal and redemption and picking oneself back up after an intimate friendship ends.
 The Interestings, Meg Wolitzer (4 stars).  Sigh.  I'm so sad that this book ended.  It was a big, 'ole coming-of-age book that fully developed each of the main characters.  I loved it!  I loved the four main characters--flaws and all.  I loved watching them grow up and see life through each other's lives.
The Light Between Oceans, ML Stedman. (4 stars).  Gosh, I liked this novel about an emotionally damaged WWI vet who falls in love with a vibrant woman.  They live on an island and tend to the lighthouse.  After 3 miscarriages/stillbirths, a healthy baby washes up on shore.  Decisions are made, and there are consequences to those decisions.  This is a story of the love of a parents and the love of a spouse.  

The Burgess Boys, Elizabeth Strout (4 stars). This is a wonderful story filled with fantastic, complex characters who all grow and change.  It's about siblings and families and being there for each other.  It's about forgiveness and loving someone flaws and all.  




PS  I rate my books on a 1-4 star system.  As a general rule, I do not share books that get less than 2 1/2 stars.  I highly recommend any book that gets 3 1/2-4 stars.  

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Smells Like A Man

Hi Friends,

So some big, exciting things happened this weekend.  Emily turned 17 (wow that sounds old!), and Jack got a haircut.  I know those things don't seem like they are related, but believe me, they are.  See, about 10 minutes after I shot that (totally staged) picture of Jack enjoying a piece of pizza, and about 15 minutes after he said with great emotion, "Man, I love pizza,"  Jack started smelling like he was 17.  I'm not going to lie;  it was a bit disconcerting.  It seems his hair stylist showed Jack how he could spike up his new hair with just a fingertip's-worth of hair gel.  This prompted a quick trip to Walgreens so we could purchase Jack's very first styling product.  As someone who is married to a man who has sported a buzz cut for the past 20 years, I was not familiar with the men's section of the hair product isle.  We looked around, picked things up and put them down, and Jack settled on the Axe Hair Putty.  We paid for our purchase and headed home.  I spent the entire ride home admiring Jack's new haircut.  Jack has gone through a slightly-longer-than-I'd-like hair phase for the past year or so, so his new fresh cut was making me giddy.  When we got home, I immediately made him go out on the deck so I could document his handsomeness.  As soon as I released him from his photo shoot, he went to mess with his new hair.  Within minutes he had transformed his hair, and in the process he went from smelling like an almost 12-year-old to smelling like a cologney-teenager.  Every time he passes by me I get a whiff of teenage boy.  He gets in the car and it smells like the guys at the gym.  It's kind of freaking me out.  I mean, until about the last six months or so I was still buying him Johnson's Baby Shampoo (is there any better smell on the planet?!?).  Sigh.  Maybe this new hair putty is God's way of telling me that my baby is growing up.  I'm not sure I'm ready for that.



Monday, June 17, 2013

A Little Bit of My Heart

 Dear Raffi,

It's been a little over a week since I dropped you and your mom off at O'Hare, and I'm still not used to you being gone.  I keep expecting to see your big smile and hear your gorgeous laugh.  Your bed has been taken down and your room is empty, but I haven't had the heart to fill it back up.
I hate goodbyes.  I always feel like no matter how I prepare my mind and heart for them, I am never ready when the time comes.  I keep thinking of things I wished I'd said before you left, but somehow I know that you already know them.  I know you know how much I love you.  I know you know how glad I am that you were part of our lives for the last year.  I know you know that you have a permanent place in my heart.  I know that you know I will always be here for you if you ever need anything.  You know these things, right?
I have learned so much from you this past year.  I loved seeing things through your eyes, and I loved your perspective on life.  I loved how excited you got over the small things, like an unexpected Chai Latte.  I will forever think of you when I eat a peanut butter & jelly sandwich, see someone wearing sweatpants (so American!), or hear the word, "SOUP!" I will miss your competitive spirit (Who, me?  I'm not competitive at all!) and watching you on the lacrosse field.   You have definitely left footprints on my heart.

Don't ever lose your zest for life, Raffi-girl.

I'm so glad our paths have crossed.

Until we see each other again,



Friday, June 14, 2013

Five For Friday

1.  Sometimes I wish I could have one more baby just so I could do a gorgeous pregnant belly photo shoot.  Way back when I was pregnant everyone was still wearing tents. Tents with bows.  And no one was taking tons of belly shots.

2.  Who doesn't like to see pictures of Awesome People Reading?

3.  Want to look at more photos?  Check out this Celebrity Look-Likes post over on Cup of Jo.  Some of them are super similar!

4.  I want to blow this picture up poster-size and hang it in my house. I love it.

5.  A quote for Father's Day.  I am the luckiest girl in the world to have 2 fabulous dads (and an excellent husband who is a fabulous dad, as well).

Have a wonderful weekend, friends!  We will be doing a whole bunch of Emily-celebrating, followed by a full day of John-celebrating.



Sweet Seventeen

Seventeen years ago you made me a mom.
Every day you make me proud.
You are strong and confident.
You care about people.
You push yourself harder than anyone I've ever met.
You love a fresh organizer and colorful sticky notes.
You have amazing hair.
You give so much of yourself to so many people.
You've got big dreams for the future.
You are patient, unless you are being tickled.
You get lost in books.
You like hanging out with me.
I love hanging out with you.
I'm so glad you were born.
You make my life happy.

Happy 17th Birthday.



Thursday, June 13, 2013

Words to Live By


PS Back to regular posting tomorrow! 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Please Stand By...

Hi Friends,

So sorry about the lack of posting around here.  The school year is wrapping up, and we are busy getting ready to say goodbye to Raffi.  Her mom flew in from Austria last Friday, and they will leave here at the crack of dawn on Friday morning.  I promise I will return to regular posting just as soon as I can catch my breath.

Hope things are good with you and yours!