Friday, March 26, 2010

A jolly, happy (one eyed) soul . . .

A result of the spring snowstorm we had last week. . .

Some of the kids in the neighborhood built it. My daughter is 5'3". So Frosty must be about 8 feet tall? We're expecting snow again tonight, but not as much, maybe 3 to 5 inches. And then . . . really warm temps next week. As much as I love snowmen, I'll be glad to see them fly south, or go wherever they go, 'til next year.

Book Giveaway

Here Burns My Candle by Liz Curtis Higgs

From the book jacket:

A mother who cannot face her future.
A daughter who cannot escape her past.

Lady Elisabeth Kerr is a keeper of secrets. A Highlander by birth and a Lowlander by marriage, she honors the auld ways, even as doubts and fears stir deep within her.
Her husband, Lord Donald, has secrets of his own, well hidden from the household, yet whispered among the town gossips.
His mother, the dowager Lady Marjory, hides gold beneath her floor and guilt inside her heart. Though her two abiding passions are maintaining her place in society and coddling her grown sons, Marjory’s many regrets, buried in Greyfriars Churchyard, continue to plague her.
My thoughts:
In the fall of 1745, Prince Charlie and his rebel army ride into Edinburgh to capture the crown. Lady Elizabeth Kerr wears beneath her sleeve the ribbon rosette showing her loyalty to the bonny prince. Meanwhile, her husband Lord Donald, the Tiger Woods of his time, is in search of a noble cause and longs to prove his faithfulness to the love of his life, prepared to doff his powdered wig and join the ranks of bareheaded true "noble" men, if only his heart will tell him to which side he belongs.

But the real story in
Here Burns My Candle is that of the relationship between Lady Elizabeth and her mother-in-law, the dowager Lady Marjory. Liz Curtis Higgs weaves the biblical tale of Naomi and Ruth, against a backdrop of 18th century Scotland, in the streets of Edinburgh, the Palace of Holyroodhouse and in the family's quarters in Milne Square. Ms. Higgs brings to life a most cruel and harsh time in Scotland's history, in her own genteel way.

I enjoyed this book. While the action was slow to begin, I enjoyed exploring the streets of Edinburgh and learning about the everyday life of an 18th century family. The book is classified as historical fiction, and has a thread of Christian genre as well, that I found to be subtle and gratifying. Ms. Higgs is writing a sequel to the story, which I look forward to reading.
I have an extra copy of this book to give away! First, a confession. The copy is in very good condition, however I started reading my copy, and then mistakenly picked up the giveaway copy to continue reading. (All the while wondering where my book mark went!) If you would like to enter my drawing, leave a comment below. You don't have to have a blog to enter! Just leave a comment (you can check anonymous, but leave your first name within the comment). I know I have a number of "blog-less" readers out there, and don't want you to miss out on the fun. Drawing closes on Friday at 6 p.m.

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spring Reading Thing 2010

Welcome, fellow book lovers!

You know it's officially Spring when Katrina at Callapiddar Days puts up the button for her Spring Reading Thing. Hers is a fun, low-pressure reading challenge open to anyone and everyone who loves books and likes to talk about books. It will take place March 20th-June 20th.

Those of you who are reading this and already signed up for SRT, you know what it's all about. For those who don't, in short, here's what you need to do: Make a list of books you'd like to read or finish this Spring, share it in a post with other SRT participants, READ, and then write a post letting everyone know how you did.

Here's my list. I'm keeping it short and reserve the right to change this list at any time without prior approval from anyone but me;) In other words, I like to read as the spirit moves me.

* An Absence So Great by Jane Kirkpatrick (I'll be having a book giveaway for this one next week. Stay tuned!)

* Ahab's Wife by Sena Jeter Nasalund (This is for my book club's April meeting. I think most everyone has read it. Except my book club.)

* An Irish Country Doctor by Patrick Taylor. (A friend loaned me this book, saying it is a lot like the Mitford series by Jan Karon.)

* Helen of Troy by Margaret George (I've read one other book by Margaret George, Mary of Magdalene, and it is on my top 10 list of favorite books.)

I am heading over to Katrina's to sign up!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday's Fave Five

It's Friday, and time to look back over the past week, say, "Ahhh," and remember five ways I've been blessed. Suzanne is hosting Friday's Fave Five -- #79! -- so, join in if you'd like.

1. I've never really understood the appeal of Facebook. Until now. This past week, I've hooked up with friends and family that I haven't been in contact with in a very long time, and it's been such fun. I even learned that one of my cousins has a blog, too. She lives in a quaint old stone farmhouse in New Jersey and is an amazing cook. Stop by at Frog Hollow Farm Girl, and tell Ann Marie I sent you;)

2. This puppy has been blessing me all week long. In just six weeks, she's grown from 8 lbs to almost 20. It's like having a toddler around. My husband says she has two speeds: Go Fast and Stop. She's either racing around like crazy or sleeping in a heap on the floor. My other HUGE blessing is Abby, who still thinks we're both too old to be raising another pup, but is a good sport about it.
3. My book club. We had a good discussion on Wednesday about Brunonia Barry's The Lace Reader. My review wasn't all that glowing, but after discussing it with the group, I had some new insights. In fact, I wouldn't mind going back and reading it again!

4. I spent a few hours yesterday afternoon setting up for a Gala for my son's school. The evening's silent auction will benefit all of the sports programs at the school. It was nice spending some time with other soccer/football/baseball/basketball/wrestling-moms, and amazing to see the amount of support the community gives our young athletes.

5. Last but not least, we're in the midst of a winter storm, but my husband's flight arrived safely and on time this morning. He's home for the rest of the day, we've got a fire going in the fireplace and banana bread fresh out of the oven. Life is good:)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


"No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn."
Hal Borland, author
One of my goals in being more mindful this year is to try to be in the moment and to find the sacred in every day. No matter what kind of day I'm "dished up."

Along with everyone else I know, I've been longing for Spring, wishing Winter would just go on its way. Winter was fun when it first arrived, all cold air and warm sweaters and hot chocolate. Then, it wasn't long before the piles of snow started looking dirty and grimey, the back door was always blocked by piles of snowboots, and my car was so dirty it was permanently brown. By January, I was longing for Spring.

It occurs to me that sometimes I spend more time anticipating the change of seasons rather than actually living in a season.

Today, was a warm, 70 degree, sunny day. On Friday we'll be in the low 30s again, with an anticipated 10" of snow. So, when my son suggested we take a break from work and go for a walk, I jumped at it. (The promise of a stop at Starbuck's didn't hurt either.) For an hour we walked through the neighborhood, to the coffee shop and back, and saw signs of Spring in the green grass poking up, the pansies on display at the garden shop, and the sale of cold drinks at the coffee shop.

I thought about how fleeting time can be, how we long for change and before you know it, the holidays have come and gone, Spring flies by and it's Summer, and we're wishing for the cool days of Fall. And all the while, my children are growing up, each stage of their youth being replaced by the next. How often I've struggled with a particular phase, only to console myself with, "This too shall pass." And it does, all too quickly.

It was a lovely way to spend St. Patrick's Day, walking with one of my favorite young men, enjoying this season that we have together.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Point and shoot

Waiting for the dinner bell.Sigh.
Floor ornament.
Look, look! Green grass!
Mom, isn't it time to throw the tulips out? (Is it weird that I find them beautiful at this stage?)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Back to basics. . .

Last week on this post, I mentioned that I'm giving up my day job. At the time I hadn't worked out all the details, but in the past week it has all fallen together, so that I should be free as a bird in about six weeks. I work for a group of family therapists, each in private practice, and I want to make sure they're all taken care of, and in good hands before I'm finished, because they've been very good to me. Working from home has been great, but it's time for a change.

My job was just "a little something" that I did a few hours a week when I started it ten years ago and then a couple years ago it suddenly grew, until it took on a life of its own. I don't have any plans to take up anything else right away, and while that feels a bit odd, for the most part I'm really excited. I'm looking forward to being more present to my family and focusing on our home. I so admire women that can work and still keep the home fires burning, but I'm just not one of them. It stresses me out when I'm doing one thing and the other is screaming for attention. Especially when the other thing is right in the next room. Working from home has its advantages, and its challenges.

At the beginning of this year, instead of coming up with a new year's resolution, I continued a tradition that I learned several years ago from my friend, Becky, to choose a 'word' for the year to focus on. Something that would help me in my spiritual journey, a far cry from resolutions of past years such as grow my nails, go on a diet, exercise more -- all worthwhile and important (well, maybe not the nails), but I wanted to shake things up and I liked Becky's idea.

I started thinking about my word for 2010 back in December, and I knew what I wanted it to be, but decided to wait and see what He thought about it. And wouldn't you know, the word kept coming to me from all directions. I would read something and it would pop up. I went to a conference in January, and it was one of the themes. My word for this year is mindful. Being mindful in living my life, even in the small, mundane, everyday things, is to find the sacred in my life. This is what helped me come to my decision about my job. I had become so crazy busy and it was causing more stress and disharmony than good. I'm blessed with having a choice whether to work or not, and a husband who supports my decision either way. We'll have to do a few things differently, but they are small sacrifices in light of the benefits of once again having one person who is dedicated to managing the home front.

It seems rare these days to find a mom who wants to just be a mom. Especially a mom with teenagers. A lot of my friends are ready to get out of the house and find a "real" job, now that the kids are becoming more self-sufficient. And to each his own, I will never judge what is best for another family. But, it seems that time just goes faster and faster as I get older and my kids get older. My youngest will graduate high school in just five short years. Suddenly, I feel the way I did when the kids were babies, and I don't want to miss a thing. Back then it was rolling over for the first time, grabbing a chubby foot and chewing on chubby toes, or taking a first step. Now, I want to be there for as many soccer and baseball games as I can. To have time in the day to make the chicken-broccoli casserole that my son loves to devour, instead of being one of the top 10 customers at our local pizza place. I want to be the center of calm instead of one more person in turmoil in our household. I want to have some time during the day to find my center. I want to clean my house!

It sounds old fashioned, I know. I'm old fashioned.

Now that I've made my decision, I'm eager to move ahead. My calendar is mapped out for the next few weeks, with target dates and a big smiley face at the end of April!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Friday's Fave Five

Mood: indecisive
Listening to: the news

Yes, call me indecisive. This is the third time I've redecorated my blog in as many days. It's just so easy to do, easier than repainting. And Shabby Blogs has so many cute designs -- all for free!

1.That's one of my five favorite things for this Friday -- fun, free stuff.

2. Another favorite part of my week was a visit from a college friend, Laurie. She was only here for one night, but we managed to pack in lots of visiting, reminiscing and much laughter, during that time.

3. 60-degree days! Blue skies! Sunshine! Need I say more?

4. Dan took me to lunch at The Egg & I on Tuesday.

5. I've connected with several more friends on Facebook this week. Isn't it something? I barely understand how computers work, but I do love how modern technology can make the world a bit smaller and so much more friendly.

Friday's Fave Five is sponsored by Suzanne at Living to the Tell the Story. It's a great way to look back at your week and find the positive.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

More Lilly

No, this isn't a new decorating style I'm trying.
It's just that we have a puppy in our house, so everything of value gets moved to higher ground.
"I'm sorry, Dad, but I just can't help myself."