Friday, November 29, 2013

Discussion - Liberating Paris

Hola! November's group read was Liberating Paris by Linda Bloodworth Thomason.  Confession:  When I picked it up at the library's book sale I didn't even read the description and even when I suggested we read it this month still did not read the description.  Imagine my surprise when it was the number that spewed back to me and I read the description finally that it was set in Paris, Arkansas.  Whoops. ;)

1. Would you describe Wood's declining interest in his wife, and his renewed interest in a "soul-mate," a mid-life crisis, despite his protestations to the contrary?

I kind of think it was.  Not to use it as an excuse but his life had a LOT of change and then he was contemplating his own mortality after his father's death and he just wasn't in a good spot.

2. Is Duff's free-spirited form of femininity ultimately weaker and more calculating than Milan's?Do you think either Milan or Duff represent true feminism

I'll be honest.  I completely went with what the author wanted and liked Duff more than Milan until after the affair began again and the older Duff started to show her true colors.  I think both women had flaws and both were pretty calculating but the author definitely wrote Milan to have more depth.  And I don't really know if they represent true feminism.  I don't think standing by your man is all that awesome.  Admirable but I just don't think I could do that.  Nor do I think having an affair with someone you know is married is showing much feminism either. 

3. In the context of slavery, and the schism between North and South, how is it significant that "New Yorkers love southerners who write about their mammies. Hell, they would even throw a party for you"? What uncomfortable social undercurrents does this address?

4. How does the novel depict the small acts of great courage that can change societies for the better?

5. Why do you think Wood assumed that Milan became pregnant on purpose? How does this assumption speak to his class-consciousness? Why do you think the author waited to reveal the truth?

For one, it is a totally different book/life for Wood if he knew what he finds out from the beginning.  He even admits that.  Not to say that he may have still done stupid crap.  But he would have treated his wife differently, looked at her differently and thought of her differently for sure. 

5. How does the novel portray the decline in values such as respecting the elderly and appreciating craftsmanship?

6. Do you agree with the depiction of large, big-box chain stores in Liberating Paris? How is the Fed-Mart an anathema to everything Main Street stands for? What do you think the novel's last line – "there is nowhere left to put the town but inside children like these" – means?

I thought the last line was a bit too cheesy.  I went from really like the book and connecting to characters to thinking -- YOU ARE TRYING TO HARD TO MAKE YOUR POINT.

7. Of all the couples that are formed, whom do you find most touching? Why?

8. Were you surprised that Jeter was in love with Milan?

9. Would you be friends with this group? Who would you be closer with?

10. What was your favorite part?

Thanks for participating!! Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thankful - Employment

It wasn't so long ago that I DREAMED of having my own classroom.  I'd be so irritated when people would complain about their class assignments. UM YOU HAVE CLASS ASSIGNMENTS TO COMPLAIN ABOUT!  What about the 4 plus years of school that I did to have NOTHING? What about all the bullcrap interviews I did when they'd basically decided who to hire before I sat down in that chair? I WANTED it.  I wanted to stop feeling like I'd wasted my life getting a degree that was doing nothing for me.  I wanted to stop feeling useless and dumb and unwanted.

And I finally have my very own classroom.  It's not perfect.  Far from it.  I'd like to be making a wage that would support my child if I EVER (please oh please never) had to do it.  I'd like to have paid sick time in case the germs I'm exposed to daily from the children I work with ever attack my superb (just jinxed it) immune system.  I'd like to have a personal day.  I'd like to get paid for a snow/ice day.  Hell, I'd like to be treated like a professional. 

I digressed.  But it pisses me off when people complain about teacher salaries.  CLEARLY YOU SHOULD NOT BE JEALOUS OF MINE. ;) Oh sure, I get 3 months off but that is also unpaid and I do NOT make enough the other 9 months to pay many bills around here.  Thank you, awesome husband of mine.

I digressed again.

Anywhoo.. Anyway, I get it.  I'm lucky.  I have a job.  I'm making a difference.  Every day, I see the results.  Every day I see a child learn something they didn't know the day before.  It is awesome.  Every day I get to see the smiles.  I get the hugs.  It is the best.  And I am so glad I stuck it out to experience my own classroom.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Thankful - Coffee

So this may appear a bit frivolous but my goodness am I thankful for coffee.  I believe almost every morning of this fall has started with a freshly brewed cup.  Most from my very own kitchen and for that I'm ridiculously proud.  I've made it a habit to brew enough for my husband and I to fill our travel mugs.  In the past I just couldn't get behind my travel mug coffee but I think it just needed ME to be the one making the coffee and that solved my problem (no offense, honey).

I love my white travel mug with its turquoise gripper.  I've tried many different creamers this fall because I no longer seem to crave black coffee, whoops.  I blame THAT on the child.  Darn pregnancy cravings turned post pregnancy addiction!  Among my favorites are peppermint mocha, caramel macchiato, and cinnamon bun something.  Hmmmmmm..

Now on the days I forget, and sadly I have forgotten a few, I still stop by my favorite quickie stop.  McDonalds *gasp* has some darn good coffee.  For just under $1.50 I can have a tall black coffee with two creams. Yummm.  And, after I buy 5, I can get the next one free.  Not that, I've used that a lot or something... 

It's a darn good thing Tim Hortons, Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts are NOT on my way to work.

Ah coffee, how I love you so. <3 p=""> 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Thankful - Books

How could I not write about my gratitude towards the hobby that has allowed me to travel to different time periods, countries and different socio-economic situations?

My mom always had a book going, as did my grandmother.  Now, we do not share the same favorite books but because of them I was introduced to the worlds of Anne of Green Gables, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madeline, and so many more.

My parents were very good about kicking us outside every day, even in the coldest weather (boooo snow) but I was usually granted an exception if my nose was suck inside a good book.  I think this is why I want nothing more than to cuddle up on the couch under a blanket with a cup of something hot and read all weekend long when the weather turns chilly.

Books have brought me some fabulous Internet friends, an in-person book club that has brought new friends, strengthened relationships and rekindled relationships with friends from the past, and escape from when the stress of live gets me down.

It kept me entertained and connected to my interests when I spent many hours of 2011 nursing my beautiful baby girl.  It keeps me thinking, feeling and interested in the world around me.

I have so much love for reading and some much gratitude that my parents READ to me, bought me tons of books and encouraged reading even if it WAS the back of the cereal box.  Everyone should be given the start that I was afforded by my parents.

Nothing warms my heart more than reading books to my little bookworm and watching her pick up her books and sit on the couch thumbing through her favorites.  We will always have books outnumber toys in this house and I think it's accepted even by our littlest member.  I mean we do have 5 bookcases filled to the brim, another box full waiting for shelf space and a box of books waiting to be donated in the basement.  We will never have enough! ;)

What books did your parents share with you?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

December's Group Read...

The Death of Bees will be the last book we discuss in 2013!

Description: A riveting, brilliantly written debut novel-a coming-of-age story with the strong voice and powerful resonance of Swamplandia! and The Secret Life of Bees—in which two young sisters attempt to hold the world at bay after the mysterious death of their parents.

Today is Christmas Eve. Today is my birthday. Today I am fifteen. Today I buried my parents in the backyard. Neither of them were beloved.

Marnie and her little sister Nelly are on their own now. Only they know what happened to their parents, Izzy and Gene, and they aren’t telling. While life in Glasgow’s Hazlehurst housing estate isn’t grand, they do have each other. Besides, it’s only one year until Marnie will be considered an adult and can legally take care of them both.

As the new year comes and goes, Lennie, the old man next door, realizes that his young neighbors are alone and need his help. Or does he need theirs? But he’s not the only one who suspects something isn’t right. Soon, the sisters’ friends, their other neighbors, the authorities, and even Gene’s nosy drug dealer begin to ask questions. As one lie leads to another, dark secrets about the girls’ family surface, creating complications that threaten to tear them apart.

Written with fierce sympathy and beautiful precision, told in alternating voices, The Death of Bees is an enchanting, grimly comic tale of three lost souls who, unable to answer for themselves, can answer only for each other.

Sounds interesting! Will you be joining? Discussion questions will be posted on December 27th! ;)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Thankful - My husband

Let's be real here.  I can't possibly promise 10 straight days of thankful posts.  I can't even promise my family I'll do the dishes every day for the next 10 days, so I solemnly swear to share as much of my thankfulness as possible but if this is my one and only just know that I do realize it's 10 days away from the holiday and I am thankful for other things as well. ;)

My husband.  He has had me laughing for over ten years.  With his wit, his jokes, mischievous manner, his fashion disasters, how he acts watching his stinky football team, his dance moves, his pronunciation mishaps, and his romance attempts.  The way he plays with our daughter always brings a smile to my face.  Sometimes because of the ridiculousness of it, sometimes because it is sweet, but mostly because he does something that has our daughter and I shaking our heads at him.

Mine would be you
Sun keeps shining, back road flying
Singing like crazy fools
Making up our own words
Laughing 'til it hurts
Baby, if I had to choose
My best day ever
My finest hour, my wildest dream come true
Mine would be you - Mine Would Be You -
Blake Shelton

He makes me wonderful dinners and bakes things whenever I suggest something.  He goes on ice cream runs and will stop and pick me up a pop or a snack when he works late and I send a little text. 

Think about how many times I have fallen,
Spirits are using me, larger voices callin'.
What heaven brought you and me cannot be forgotten.
I have been around the world,
Lookin' for that woman, girl,
Who knows love can endure.
And you know it will. And you know it will. - Southern Cross
covered by Jimmy Buffett

He isn't romantic in the obvious ways but you can tell he tries.  And those tries usually end with us both giggling.

It's those changes in latitudes,
changes in attitudes nothing remains quite the same.
With all of our running and all of our cunning,
If we couldn't laugh, we would all go insane. - Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes -
Jimmy Buffet

He works hard, he plays hard, and he is our biggest supporter.  Whenever I have an idea he encourages me.  He doesn't make me feel stupid or make me think that it won't ever happen.  He helps me explore new ideas and plan for our future.

You stand by me
And you believe in me
Like nobody ever has
When my world goes crazy
You're right there to save me
You make me see how much I have - My Best-Friend
by Tim McGraw

Even when he annoys me, his intent and heart are good and I cannot imagine a life without him as my best-friend by my side.

From the bottom of my heart
Off the coast of Carolina
After one or two false starts
I believe we found our stride
And the walls that won't come down
We can decorate or climb
Or find some way to get around
Cause I'm still on your side
From the bottom of my heart. - Coast of Carolina
- Jimmy Buffett

I am so thankful for that 4th of July where I inadvertently invited myself out on his pontoon and met the man who would become my husband. <3 p="">
We are the people there isn't any doubt
We are the people they still can't figure out
We are the people who love to sing "Twist and Shout"
(Shake it up, Baby now)
We are the people our parents warned us about - We are the People Our Parents Warned us About -
Jimmy Buffett

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Five Things on a Sunday

1. I'm happy to report I am in a much better place than I was a few weeks ago.  Wildly out of control would basically sum up the emotions of October into November.  It's kind of more calm.  Or I'm better at ignoring the crazy.

2. I've been hit by a crazy declutter/organize/decorate bug.  Now if only it will last before I get frustrated/can find what I want to make the decluttering easy! I am at the point in my office that the next step is to go through the actual drawers, closet and filing cabinet.  I feel like before I do that I better buy some bins or some kind of organizing thing because the crap needs to go somewhere!

3. I want to buy all the things for everybody this Christmas.  Well everybody = kids.  My own kid, my nephews, my niece, myself err.. You get the point.  I have a bunch of clothes already for the kiddos that I need to go through.  My kid might be getting some of hers sooner rather than later since I realized she hardly has any long sleeve shirts in her current size.  Whoops.  We do a lot of layering anyhow but it's getting colder.

4. I've finally started entertaining the idea of another child.  Possibly.  But once again I'm back into ahhh the timing situation.  Last time was perfect and if only it could be perfect twice. ;)  But for sure not until after next summer.  But soon because I probably don't want to have any kids after 33.  And well that's coming up quicker than you really think when you want to have multiple children ha.  But yeah, no being pregnant for my birthday/spring break and I'd prefer to enjoy a pregnant free summer so who knows.  I feel like I have too many unknowns in my life coming up in 2014 and hell, why not add another!

5.  I'm forcing myself into a healthier lunch eating/must get on the treadmill plan for the next couple months.  I need it.  I feel gross, I need more energy, I'm ridiculously out of shape.  I honestly even made a 16 week plan to take me through January and then never started it.  I need to start it.  I vowed to lose weight before my 30th birthday and I've seriously slacked on that.  Plus, I need to do it for myself and myself wants to feel like a bad ass when I'm on the beach celebrating my 30th birthday.  Cuz 30 feels like it needs to be rocked.  And rocked hard.  I'm up for the challenge.

What's up with you?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

December Group Read Suggestions

Time to pick our last book of 2013.  So far this year we have read about WWII, current day amnesia, alzheimers, books and loved ones, horrible/dysfunctional families, and friends.  How should we end our year?

What've already read...

Liberating Paris
Life Sentences
Looking for Me
Ladder of Years
Where'd You Go Bernadette?
Beach Music
The Dinner
The End of Your Life Book Club
Still Alice 
The Song Remains the Same
Those Who Save Us
We Are All Welcome Here
Gone Girl
Prisoner of Tehran
The Wednesday Sisters
Looking for Alaska
Cutting for Stone
One Summer
The Year of Fog
Winter Garden
The Violets of March
State of Wonder
The Invisible Bridge
The Postmistress
The Scent of Rain and Lightning
Still Missing
The Sandalwood Tree
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
Something Borrowed
The Blue Orchard
Sammy's Hill
In the Woods
Shanghai Girls
The Weight of Water
Water for Elephants
The Color Purple
The One That I Want
The Secret Garden
House Rules
American Wife
Firefly Lane
The Reader
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
The Awakening
Pride & Prejudice
I See You Everywhere

Suggestions will be open until November 19th when I will use to pick a winner! Hope you will join us!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Life Sentences Discussion Post

This is so way overdue and I really do apologize. 

1. Life Sentences suggests that stories belong to whomever tells them. Is that fair, unfair? Under what circumstances, if any, does a story—a life—belong only to the person who lived it?

2. Is Cassandra a likable person, or at least an ethical one? Does it matter if she's likable?

3. Was Cassandra's memoir, Her Father's Daughter, "true"?

4. What do you think happened to Callie's son? Does she tell Cassandra the truth, or the truth as she needs to believe it? Is there a difference?

5. Life Sentences has many references to myths and folk tales—stories of the ancient Greeks, but also Br'er Rabbit. What myths do the characters need in order to go about their day-to-day lives? Does Tisha have a myth that sustains her? Gloria Bustamante?

6. Cassandra is white, most of her childhood friends were African-American (as was her stepmother) and Gloria Bustamanate is Latina. But is race that central to the story of Life Sentences? In what ways?

7. Why does Lenore allow her husband's version of events to stand uncontested?

8. Is Cedric Fallows self-aware? Does he have any sense of the way he has affected his daughter?

9. What has Cassandra learned beyond the facts of her own life and Callie's life? Does she change over the course of this book? In what ways? Would the Cassandra we meet in that opening chapter make the same choices that Cassandra makes at the book's end?

10. What point is Tisha trying to make when she shows Cassandra a small inaccuracy in Her Father's Daughter?

11. On the last page of the novel, Callie passes a sign that Cassandra has also noticed: If you lived here, you would be home by now. Cassandra had wondered if the sign was a tautology, or at least mildly redundant. But Callie responds to the sign very differently. What does this tell us about Cassandra and Callie? Where is Callie—in her life—at the book's end? Has she found a home in the world? Has she at last made all the lies true?

Once again, I apologize!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

November's Menu

One of the things keeping me sane this fall is my monthly meal plan.  I used to plan by the week, I've tried a two week plan but as summer was winding down and I had a very busy looking fall ahead of me I decided to go big.  One whole month in advance.  I should also mention that I'm a semi-couponer.  I occasionally buy a Sunday paper (currently I get the paper delivered on weekends) and I cut them out when I do.  I am not super couponer but I will shop around and use what I've got.  I've not noticed a huge savings by planning a month ahead but it has come in handy on purchases I've already planned on making.

It's nice to know ahead of time because I can buy my meat when it is on sale and stock up.  Some weeks I only have to worry about buying bread/milk/yogurt.  Other weeks are bigger weeks but it all makes up for each other.  I haven't had to do too many middle of the week stops at the store, it eliminates a lot of takeout during the week and we have a lot of variety since we've planned ahead.

I don't cook every night and I'm not married to the menu.  I always have eggs and toast or spaghetti on hand for the nights that it just isn't going to happen.  It has made dinner time/morning prep a heck of a lot easier.  We make a huge dinner on Sunday night and have Monday leftovers (who wants to cook on Monday night???) and usually freeze some from that meal too.  Which is awesome to have a nice hearty meal during the week that wouldn't happen without freezing ahead.

I also do not plan anything for Saturday's unless my husband specially requests something and Friday's are usually leftovers or pizza.  Of the homemade version or the takeout.

Here is what is on tap for November...

1st - Leftovers
3- Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup with biscuits
4th - leftovers
5th - Skillet Chicken Parm
6th - Beef Stew and biscuits (we made this last month and froze two dinners worth, this is the last dinner)
7th - leftovers (we will have a hodge podge of soup/stew/chicken parm leftover so we will share or decide what we want)
8th - Pizza
10th - Cheesy Taco Soup
11th - leftovers
12th - Sloppy Joes (another frozen meal from last month)
13th - Chili (frozen from last month)
14th - Leftover Chili and grilled cheese
15th - Taco Pie
16th - Pan Fried Pork Chops
17th - Whole Chicken Dinner with Stuffing and Green Bean Casserole
18th - Leftovers
19th - Southwestern Chicken and Rice
20th - leftovers
21st - something with hot Italian Sausages possibly a skillet lasagna
22nd - Pizza
24th - Baked Potato Soup
25th - Leftovers
26th - Pulled Pork (frozen from last month)
27th- leftovers
28th - Thanksgiving
29th - Eggs/Sausage/ Toast
30th - Another Thanksgiving

Do you meal plan? How do you find your recipes?  I linked some of the ones I found on pinterest/blogs I follow.  I will admit to making them my own though and highly suggest that when you are looking for recipes for your family.  Especially when they look intimidating! One step at a time!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Girl Who loved Tom Gordon

First, I apologize for not getting the Life Sentences discussion post up.  It's on my to do list.  I've had a crazy busy last two weeks at work and at home.  But, I do apologize. 

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon was my first Stephen King book and I wasn't impressed.  We picked it to read because it was October and some wanted a spooky/scary story and they thought we should try Stephen King (new to us all) and it was relatively short.  Great way to pick a book, right?

Well, it was short and it wasn't spooky or scary and there was lots of detail.  Nine-year-old Patricia gets lost in the woods while hiking the Applachian Trail with her mom and brother.  I would get frustrated because she was nine and sometimes did very nine year old things and other times couldn't possibly have been that mature.  And other times I had to keep reminding myself that she was nine and that's why she did dumb things.

We all agreed it was pretty meh to us but would still like to try another King novel, possibly when we all have more time to read!

I think the most frustrating part was the end.  There is this thing lurking the whole book and then when she comes face to face with this thing, it's like, really? That's all.  Pretty much wanted King to go big or go home.  Eh. 

Oh and for my Sox fans, the main character is obsessed with Tom Gordon the Red Sox relief pitcher.

Description: Nine-year-old Trisha McFarland strays from the path while she and her recently divorced mother and brother take a hike along a branch of the Appalachian Trail. Lost for days, wandering farther and farther astray, Trisha has only her portable radio for comfort. A huge fan of Tom Gordon, a Boston Red Sox relief pitcher, she listens to baseball games and fantasizes that her hero will save her. Nature isn't her only adversary, though - something dangerous may be tracking Trisha through the dark woods.

Have you read any Stephen King books?