The Family

The Family

Thursday, May 31, 2012

My Favorites

Writing so much about reading has me pondering my favorite books. 

There’s no way to say that one book is my favorite. If I were to categorize them, literature would stand out above the rest.

I decided to post a top 10 list for fellow reading enthusiasts. I was afraid if I didn't limit it to something like 10, I would be at 100 before I knew it. 

I didn't include the most important book of my life, the Bible, because I think it speaks for itself. If you read only one book in your life, that should be it.

However, if you're a reader with some time on your hands and have never read these books, I would highly recommend them.

10. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote – When I was a senior in high school we were assigned to read this book. I cannot put into words how enthralled I was by this story. While I now know that much of what Capote wrote about this true story was embellished, it’s still a great read.

9. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt – This was the first book I purchased with my own money. I bought it the summer before I started college in what I thought was the hippest place I’d set foot in at that point in my life. I think the purchase of this book was just one of the many ways I was trying to assert my independence. It was definitely one of the few safe ways I was trying to do so at the time.

8. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez – This is fiction at its finest. I’ve talked with people throughout the years that said they couldn’t get into this book because of the strange story line. I would argue that the strange mixed into the ordinary is what makes it so great.

7. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck – I don’t know what it is about this book that made me like it enough to include it on this list. I guess like all great books, it tells a moving and memorable story.

6. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas – I read this book while on my honeymoon in St. Lucia. One of the employees at our resort saw me reading it and wanted to know all about it. She said she watched the movie, but had never read the book. I’m still kicking myself all these years later for not leaving the book with her. I could have just bought another copy when we got home.

5. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – I’m not sure how I made it through high school and college without being assigned this one. I read it shortly after I graduated college and, like most people, was deeply moved by the story.

4. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens – I couldn’t decide between this novel and “Great Expectations.” I love them both, but there’s a sweeter story in this book. 

3. Harry Potter (all of them) by J.K. Rowling – What more can I say about these books except they are phenomenal. Each one is a timeless story of good vs. evil with wonderful, witty, funny, heartbreaking life lessons. I’ve read them several times and can’t wait to do it again. When the little boy was 3, I read them to him every night before bed. I wasn’t sure he understood much of it, but I was so excited to be reading them aloud to him that it didn't matter. I'm hoping to read them aloud again when he is 7 and baby girl is 3. 

2. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy – I wanted to hate her, but I couldn’t help feeling sorry for Anna most of the time. This is one of the few books (Harry Potter included) that has made me cry. I don’t mean I got misty-eyed while reading it. I mean I sobbed. There’s a point where Anna sneaks into her home to see her little boy who has been told she is dead after she leaves him and her husband for her young lover. The child is so overwhelmed at the sight of his mother that he begins kissing her face over and over again. My son was about 7 months old when I read this, and I was flooded with a mix of emotions. As he lay beside me napping as I read, I despised Anna for giving up her child, though I sympathized with her anguish in that moment.

1. Middlemarch by George Eliot – I can say without question that Dorothea Brooke is my favorite literary heroine. I guess that’s why I’ve put this book at number one. Elliott crafts a story that inspires, saddens and delights. The world today needs more women like Dorothea.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

CSA Wednesday

We picked up a lot of repeats today with our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.

More eggs

More squash

More carrots

More onions - we still have plenty from our pick up from two weeks ago

More lettuce
Something different - first time this season we've had corn

Monday, May 28, 2012

This Journey We Call Motherhood

Because of the Lord’s great love we
are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness
Lamentations 3:22-23

There are days when I feel so inadequate for this role.

There are nights when I feel like an unequivocal failure as a mom. 

My words that day were too harsh. I gave too few hugs and too many demands.
As I look upon my precious children sleeping, I think back on these moments.

What could I have done differently? What will I do differently tomorrow? I am often reminded of the verse from Lamentations, and it renews my spirit.

There are also those glorious, heart-warming, tear-producing moments of the day when I feel the calling God has placed on me as a mother so strongly, I can’t imagine why I once thought I should not have children. 

Rewind six years ago to when I thought the idea of me becoming a mother was never going to happen. The idea that God was placing this call on my life seemed like utter foolishness.

For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom,
and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.
1 Corinthians 1:25

I was too self-absorbed and thought I knew so much about how I should be living this life here on earth.

Now that I am older and, hopefully, a small amount wiser, I realize how much I didn't know.

If I had listened to my own voice, or the voice of some others who had a more prominent place in my life at that time…

I don't want to finish that thought. 

How could I have known that a not-so-tiny baby boy would fill my life in a way that nothing else could? How was I to know that my love for him was leading me to the most wonderful calling in life? This calling has given me more freedom and happiness than a career or an education or money or pride or self-interest ever could.

How could I have known that almost four years after that precious boy was born, a not-so-tiny baby girl’s birth would bring sobs of joy. The thing I had feared most had come true. I was the mother of a daughter. How could I have known her first cries would heal my heart and mind in a way nothing else could?

A few weeks ago when we stopped in Chicago on the way back from South Dakota, I thought back on the last time I had been there. It was a few months before I became pregnant with my precious son. I remember how lonely and empty I felt in that city. I remember the draining feeling of having too many material possessions, too many jobs and too many less than satisfying acquaintances.

I also remember thinking that having a baby would likely be the most foolish decision of my life.
What if I screwed the child up for goodness sake?

I thank God I knew so little.

I thank God I trusted in him instead.

I thank God for this wonderful up-and-down, tiresome, lovely, pure journey he has set before me.

I thank God for what I though was foolishness. It is so much wiser than anything I could ever know.

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise;
God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.
1 Corinthians 1:27

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Time on the Lake

While the little boy enjoyed his first ride on a jet ski, the day did not go so well for baby girl or me. I was tired and ill as was she.

I'm not sure if she's teething again or just going through a cranky stage. All I know is I could barely put her down all day.

Add to that me sliding and falling down the camper steps with baby girl in my arms - I was more than ready to call it a day.

It could have been much worse, and I'm grateful she didn't get hurt. Thank goodness for near misses.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Market

You would think I get enough fresh fruits and vegetables from our weekly CSA program, but I couldn't resist making a trip to the farmer's market on campus to see what was there.

Today was the beginning of the Thursday afternoon market that will last through August.

All of my favorite vendors, except one, were there. I go armed with a $20 bill and try to pick up one or two things at each of their tables. Some days I even have leftover change.

Not today.

 We left with lots of fresh stuff and no money.

These peaches are what I was hoping to find!

I had only $2 left, so the sweet couple selling them took a few potatoes out of this $3 basket

These cucumbers will go great with some or our CSA onions from last week mixed with tomatoes and Italian dressing
I love to dice and bake sweet potatoes
I can't recall seeing plums at the market in years past, at least with this vendor, so I wanted to give them a try

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

CSA Wednesday

Each Wednesday we pick up goodies as part of a local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. Here's what we brought home today:

We got to pick our own blueberries
Looking forward to these in the morning

A bag full of squash

Carrots freshly plucked from the ground

Yummy green beans

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Summer Reading

What is it about summer that creates the desire to read?

Maybe the long days give the impression that one has more time. Whatever the reason, I love summer reading.

Here’s my book list for the summer:

1.      A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan – This book has been on my reading list since last summer. I’ve been trying to check books out at the library more and not buy as many because I’m running out of places to put them. Our local library didn’t get a copy of it until this winter, and it’s been checked out each time I’ve tried to get it.

2.      Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James – This is supposed to be a modern-day sequel to Pride and Prejudice. It’s also been on my list for a while, but hasn’t been in at the library.

3.      Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – How have I never read this book? I guess it should be number two on my list followed by Death Comes to Pemberley.

4.      A Life of Her Own by Emilie Carles – Remember my last post where I talked about the online history course? Well, this is one of the readings for the course. There are actually several books listed on the syllabus, but because I’m not really taking the class, this is the only one that piqued my interest enough to want to read it.

5.   Together - Growing Appetites For God by Carrie Ward an Everyday Mama - I heard this author speaking on the radio about daily Bible reading with her kids. The interview included an audio clip of all the interruptions and struggles of these daily readings during breakfast. She began to think nothing was sinking in, until sometime into it when she heard her kids acting out what she had read.  

6.      Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin – I read a review on the latest book about a year ago, but wasn’t ready to get sucked into another series. I think I’m now willing to take the plunge.

7.      The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – Yet another series I was trying to avoid because I know how much of my life it will require, but I promised a dear friend I would read these. I’ve heard, that like Harry Potter and Twilight, they are fast reads. I’ve also heard, that like Harry Potter and Twilight, I’m going to love them.

There’s no way I’m going to get through all of these by the end of summer, but a girl can try.
We'll also be venturing to our local library a lot to pick up books for the summer reading program for children. 
Happy summer reading everyone! 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Nerd Alert

As if I need anything else to add to my list of things to do after the children are in bed.

I’m now taking an online class through Yale.

No, seriously.

A story on NPR a few weeks back mentioned how Harvard and MIT will soon begin offering a number of their courses online for free. A few days later, I came across an article about how Stanford had been doing this for some time.

I wanted to check it out.

I found that a number of prestigious universities offer some of their courses this way. Of course, you can’t actually get college credit when you take an online class for free. That works fine for me because I don’t want or need college credit.

I just happen to like the idea of listening to lectures on subjects that interest me.

So, for the past few weeks, I’ve been taking an online history course through Yale taught by Dr. John Merriman and titled “France Since 1871.”

I’m loving it.

I don’t actually take the exams or write the paper. I for sure don’t have time for that. I am, however, enjoying the lectures immensely.

That’s because I’m a complete geek that gets thrills by listening to lectures!

I also like being able to say I’m taking a Yale history class.

The only thing about hearing so much about France is that it makes me want to get back to France. All the hubby could do when I mentioned this was roll his eyes:)

Friday, May 18, 2012

A Note on Where We Stayed

We spent our five-and-a-half days in Rapid City, S.D., at Lake Park Campground and Cottages. 

I didn’t do a good job of taking pictures, but here’s what I did capture.

This was our two-bedroom cottage:

View from the outside

Somewhat of a view from the inside

 Every evening about 6 pm we saw these visitors:

If you can't tell from these images, and it's likely you can't, those are deer. I seriously need a better camera now that I have a blog.

I found out about this place from (Vacation Rentals By Owner). I wanted to be able to stay where I could cook and wash clothes. I’ve found with children, especially one with a dairy allergy, that having our own kitchen makes things easier. There was also a laundromat on site, so we were able to pack a few sets of clothes to wash and re-wear on our long 12-day adventure.

The property is located next to a large public lake and park. The little boy loved the sandbox excavator there.There was also a small, private playground on site at the property. 

I think the people that manage the grounds must live on site, which is always helpful incase there are problems. I'm happy to report we didn't have problems, but I did need their assistance multiple times in changing out bills for quarters for the laundry.

Each cottage has its own grill on the front porch. We were lucky in that our cottage had a tub (a lot come with only showers). Anyone with small children knows that tubs are much easier for bathing. Thanks to Scott for pointing this out in an e-mail he sent when I inquired about booking the place months ago.