Monday, November 30, 2009

Recent Reads

Sarah's Keys is an incredibly powerful story. Set in France during WWII, this books tells the fictional tale of young Sarah, a French Jew, who is swept up by the French police and turned over to the Nazis. Meanwhile, her little brother was left, locked in their secret hiding spot, waiting for Sarah to return. It's an awful story, but one which illustrates the far-reaching impact of the Holocaust. And while I've never been much of a fan of the French to begin with, this book had me hating them with a whole new vengeance. Sarah's Keys is by far the best of this batch.

Percy Jackson, The Lightening Thief is the first in a series about a young, dyslexic boy who is half-human, half-Greek god. With a definite Harry Potter feel, Percy ends up confronting several Greek gods in an attempt to win his father's approval. It's aimed at youth, but has just about as many adult readers as kids. I didn't love it, but I would certainly pick up the sequel.

The Time Travelers Wife is an interesting look at what it would be like to love someone who travels through time. Though parts were confusing to me, I caught on soon enough. Eventually the story line beat out the strangeness/interesting-ness of time travel, but it took a bit. Warning: If you are uncomfortable around profanity and have a hard time "reading over" the (not so infrequent) cuss words, don't read The Time Traveler's Wife.

While I loved DaVince Code, and have read several Dan Brown books, I have to say that The Lost Symbol is my least favorite of the bunch. So much of the book reads like a college lecture - an interesting lecture, but a lecture none the less. It took awhile for the action to pick up, but it did get there. This would certainly be great vacation read, but it was nowhere near the quality of other Brown books.

Several friends recommended No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, so I thought I would give it a try. Set in Africa this book presents a series of vignettes wherein Ms. Precious sets out to solve mysteries in a very no-nonsense, folksy way. This book is also a series, but I'm not too sure I'll keep up with them.

I used to teach social studies, so I lean towards this type of thing anyway, but I really liked Red Scarf Girl, the biography of a young Chinese girl who lived during Mao's Cultural Revolution. The thing I found most compelling about her story is how she witnessed the awfulness of Mao's reign, yet worshipped the man and his movement. The reader gets a real sense of how a society can get so caught up in a dictatorship. I found it fascinating.
Next: Faster and the Acceleration of Just About Everything.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Basket Making

Here's what my living room looked like at 6:00 Monday night:

This is what it looked like 30 minutes later:

Our ward (church) donated a total of 22 Thanksgiving baskets Monday night. There is something powerful in seeing families bring in bag after bag of groceries. Young kids carried in heavy sacks of potatoes and adults told me about how they added in "just a couple more things" then was on the list.

Then I got to deliver a few of those baskets. One woman hugged me something fierce, and with tears in her eyes expressed her gratitude. Another family sent me a note (that very night) saying "what a blessing this is for us." Twenty more stories could be told.

So this Thanksgiving, when things are a bit tighter for most of us, I was blessed to witness so much goodness, so much love and so much gratitude.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Glenwood Getaway

Diamond had a quick business trip to Glenwood Springs, CO this past week, so we decided we would make it an Adventure and all come along and enjoy a quick getaway to the mountains.

We stumbled across the most serene mountain stream where the boys threw rocks and were fascinated by the ice-formations along the bank of the creek. I literally stared singing "Annie's Song" by John Denver while sitting by the water. (Ya know, "You fill up my senses, like walk in the forest..."

Thanks to a recommendation from my friend Whitney, we stayed at the AmericInn which boasted this WAY cool pool inside the hotel. Best part? You can see the entire pool while sitting in the hot tub!

We were the only people at the pool for the majority of the time, and the boys tuned into their 'inner-salmon' and started to climb backwards up the waterslide. *yikes*

Of course they still managed to play ball!

The Caboose loved the kiddie portion of the pool. The entire pool was quite shallow, so he was able to really enjoy himself.

The next day the boys decided they wanted to ride the gondola.

The views were breathtaking.

Our little getaway was the perfect way to "fill up" before hitting the upcoming stresses of the Holidays.

Special Day

Each year for the kid's birthdays they get a "Special Day" with Nanna and Grandpa. The Caboose may have turned three back in March, but it wasn't until last week that he enjoyed his "Special Day" with his cousin, (who just barely celebrated her third birthday.)

The kids opted for an afternoon at Build-A-Bear.

The Caboose was hoping for a Spiderman bear, but since they didn't have that, selected a camouflage bear with Batman PJ's. (Geez! Even the teddy bears at our house become masculine!)

This is the Caboose doing his "happy dance."

After Build-A-Bear was lunch at McDonald's. Not a bad way to spend a Special Day!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Mile High Birthday

I have planned about a zillion sports-themed birthday parties, and was more than out of ideas.

But then we had a brainstorm! This year, for Big Boy #1's birthday celebration, we let him take a few friends on a tour of Invesco Field at Mile High. It was the best party ever - I didn't have to do anything but make a cake!

At the beginning of the tour was a room full of sports clothing, including a Bronco's jersey complete with pads.

Who says boys don't play dress-up?

Here's the view from the suites:

No cheap seats for these boys!

In the visitors locker room:

BB#1 putting his things away in the locker:

A pre-game conference in the locker room:

On the field:

Each boy wanted a shot of himself jumping the wall into the "fans".

Even Diamond wanted a shot by the World Champions sign.

So how was this birthday? The officials have conferred, and It's GOOD!

Monday, November 2, 2009

If Candy Was Money

The day after Halloween the boys spent the day sorting, categorizing and recording their loot.

Big Boy #1 went so far as to make a list of how many pieces he had of EACH type of candy. So much for snitching chocolate from him!

It's a regular bar graph!

Why do I have this feeling that if candy was money, they would be well on their way to becoming accountants?


Just some quick pictures of the boys Halloween costumes:

No surprise that the Caboose wanted to be Spiderman.

He was SO excited to get dressed up and "fight the scary guys!" (This picture show his 'fighting'.)

Unfortunately, when he came across a rather frightening home, he ended up sobbing for a solid half-hour. The worst part was that when he finally started calming down and looking around, he found a little boy dressed just like this:

Yeah, that about did him in for the night.

Big Boy #2 wanted to be a robot. The best part were the lights that were on the costume (you can see them around his face.) I just took a pack of battery operated Christmas lights and duct taped them in. He loved it and it was really fun to make.

Here's the back:

Big Boy #1 has learned that when he picks a sports figure for Halloween, he gets the jersey, which he will wear all year long. Unfortunately, last year's costume, Bronco's Jay Cutler, got traded. So this year he opted for another Bronco's player, Eddie Royal.