Thursday, February 17, 2011

What a Beautiful Day!

Okay, I know the calendar says it's still winter until sometime late next month.

I also know winter could come screaming back and - God Forbid - bury us under inches of ice and snow again just anytime.

But let me just take this moment to praise the Lord for the beautiful weather.  Late yesterday afternoon I walked to the mailbox and heard birds singing.  Birds. Singing. In February.

Today I saw a tiny bird hopping across the bricks at the bottom of my kitchen window.

And I heard frogs. I love the sound of frogs. To me nothing says, "All is well," like the sound of frogs singing in the trees.

After weeks of being cooped up staring at the ice and snow covered world, having my windows open and breezes flowing through my house is just about the greatest blessing I can imagine.

Thank you, Lord.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

She’s Four…Going on Sixteen

As I was tucking my daughter into bed last night, she said the cutest thing…

“Mommy, you’re the sweetest thing in the world…”

Her 4-year-old speech made it sound like, “Mommy, yore da sweetes’ sing in da worwd…”

She says this occasionally, and it never fails to warm my heart. However, this time it was followed by this:

“…but sometimes you can get bossy.”

Just like that, she’s a teenager!

A few minutes later, to my relief, she was back to being my sweet little girl. Climbing back into bed after a trip to the potty, she said, “Pwease, Mommy, I want you to way wiss me!* Pwease!” 

It was all I could do not to curl up beside her and rock her to sleep.

As the song says, “Thank Heaven for little girls…”

Unfortunately, it’s also true that “…little girls get bigger every day.”

* In case it's been a while since you lived with a 4-year-old, that's "lay with me!"

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Very Important Day

It's today! One of the most important days of the year. About 2:00 am on this day,  in a year I will not say,  a very special baby boy was born.

Twenty three years, and a few months later, that very special boy married me.

Yes, today is my very wonderful husband's birthday.

He won't read this because he doesn't read my blog.

"So, why," you ask, "are you posting about it?"

Actually, that is why I'm posting about it. You see, he wouldn't let me throw a party with his friends at work.  He wouldn't let me take him out for a special dinner. Basically, I'm allowed to make a cake...and cookies.

Well, that's not enough of a fuss for the man who puts up with this "caffeinated drama queen*" day in and day out. So I decided to tell all my many MANY readers : ) about this very noteworthy occasion. If I make a fuss here, he won't know, so he can't get mad.

I have known this man since I was 15 and he was 17 years old. I have been in love with him nearly half my life.

If this one event in history had not happened...I shudder to think what my life would be like today...all the things I would have missed:

His amazing family.
His sense of humor even if it drives me crazy sometimes.
Operation Repo I never would have watched that show if he didn't hog the remote, and it's pretty entertaining. If you tell him I said so, I'll deny it.
Football - I watched him play it.  I watched him coach it. I grew to love it.
The joy of motherhood.
The thrill of his kiss.
The safety of his embrace.

I could go on, but I'm not sure Google has enough gigabytes...

He likes to tell people he "married up." It's a beautiful thing to say, but it just isn't true. I'm the one who managed to snag someone out of my league.

A grain of sand works its way into an oyster's shell, and over time, it is transformed into something lovely and precious.

Without this man wrapping his love around me all these years, my life would be as dull as that grain of sand. He has made it a pearl.

Happy Birthday, Babe! I love you.

* I've borrowed this phrase from Julie Lessman because it is a perfect description of me.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Book Review: Dreaming of Home by Glynna Kaye

From the Cover:
            Fresh out of the military, widower Joe Diaz is determined to raise his young son alone.  But his next-door neighbor Meg McGuire has set her sights on the same house—and teaching job—as Joe! He’s all about family now, not romantic entanglements, and he won’t give up without a fight.  But what about little Davy, who’s growing more attached to Miss Meg every day? Or Joe, who finds himself dreaming of a home and family with the one woman in town who could take it all away?

            I received this book as part of a prize at the Seekerville blog.  It is Glynna Kaye’s debut novel and was released by Love Inspired in October 2009.

  1. Recurring Navy/Pirate analogies:  Joe’s Navy talk stems from his many years in the Navy.  Meg’s pirate references come from her first impression of Joe in his pirate garb when she meets him on “International Talk Like a Pirate Day.” These conflicting nautical themes lend some lovely color to the story.
  2. Word choice.  “Good looking brigand” (p. 9) is what Meg thinks of Joe when they meet. “Chutzpah” (p. 25), this is a great word, which I now know how to spell.  It needs no further elaboration. 
  3. Effective use of Repetition: This paragraph: “Joe parked in front of Wyatt’s Grocery, his mind still replaying the events at lunch. Meg’s smile. The warm welcome from his old buddies. Meg’s smile. Red’s choking incident. Meg’s smile.” (pg. 65).  And again with Meg and Joe simultaneously fixating on Davy’s observation, “ ‘We’re a team, aren’t we?’” (pp. 64, 68).
  4. Bill Diaz:  Joe’s dad doesn’t beat around the bush. He tells Joe when he’s acting like an idiot and when he’s making the right choices.
  5. Davy Diaz: Joe’s son is following closely in Grandpa’s footsteps, but he’s cuter about it.
  1. Joe for a lot of the story: He repeatedly uses the phrase, “Don’t women usually…” as though all women usually do the same things.  Also he takes the “hometown boy” routine a little far (maybe a lot far), behaving as though he is entitled to the job and the house just because he grew up in the town.
  2. Carmen—Joe’s slightly  disturbed sister-in-law:  I really, really dislike her in this story.  She’s a manipulative, opportunistic bully.  Amazingly, I’d love to see her in her own story. I think she’s got potential as a repentant leading lady.
            This story made me take sides, and I was on Meg’s side from the start. Joe made me so mad! I confess there were moments when I almost thought she’d be better off without him.  Almost.  He always managed to take a step in the right direction at the crucial moment. 
            Some critics talk about conflict.  This story has it. The characters are after the same job and the same house in a small town. Conflict. Joe has some compelling reasons why he’s not looking for love. More conflict.  Meg has medical issues that dove-tail not so nicely with Joe’s obstacles and convince her she shouldn’t get involved. Conflict, yet again.  These two are constantly butting heads--with each other or against walls of their own making.
            The resolution of all this conflict comes later in the story than I usually like to see it.  But the issue is not so much their stubbornness (which is usually the case, and it drives me nuts). It’s more like bad timing (definitely better, yet I still wanted to pull my hair out).  They come to the same conclusions about their relationship at basically the same time. As luck—or Glynna Kaye—would have it, Joe is away doing some personal business at that moment, and neither of them can act on their conclusions. 
Just when you think, “Okay, it’s gonna be smooth sailing from here,” she throws you one last curve ball, just to keep you on your toes, in the form of everyone’s favorite crazy sister-in-law.
This novel was a roller coaster of emotions and a tennis match of wit and banter. I’ve never wanted so badly to slap a hero silly. Or tear out my hair.  But isn’t that a sign of good writing?  Hopefully I’m skillful enough to cover the bald spots when I go out in public.
Nice work Glynna!

5 Stars

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Book Review: An Amish Christmas by Patricia Davids

This is the third book in Ms. Davids’s Brides of Amish Country series, which is set in the rural Ohio community of Hope Springs. 

From the Cover:
            When Karen Imhoff finds a beaten man lying unconscious by the road in her Amish community, she doesn’t hesitate to help.  “John Doe” needs a place to stay while he regains his memory, and she has a room to rent.  The handsome Englisher proves invaluable around the family farm, yet his presence wreaks havoc with her emotions.  Karen has her younger siblings to care for.  She can’t fall for an outsider who doesn’t know his own identity.  But as Christmas draws closer, the simple grace of this life—and this woman—could inspire John to make Karen’s dreams come true….


1.       An Instant Connection:  From the moment she realizes he’s not dead, Karen feels a pull toward this lost man.  One can easily believe this pull is rooted in her family’s tragic history, but the closing line of Chapter 1 tells a different story, “As the emergency vehicle drove away, she realized she would never see her Englishcer again.” She thinks of him as “hers” without even realizing she’s doing it. When they first meet after John’s release from the hospital, he is drawn to the “pleasing…singsong cadence” of her voice before he ever sees her face, and when he sees her walking away from him, notes the “innate grace” in her movement.
2.      A True Conflict:  Ms. Davids has succeeded in creating a situation where the hero and heroine truly are not free to pursue a relationship.  To do so would be irresponsible even selfish.  He does not know if he’s free to stay and become a permanent part of her life.  She has a very important responsibility to her family, and attachment to her church that prevents her from following him out into the English world.
3.      An Irresistible Pull: Given all the reasons they should not become attached to each other, even knowing that both of them could be hurt in the end, they just can’t help themselves.  There is a sense of, “It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”
4.      A Simple Mystery: There is mystery in what happened to John, but it does not consume the story.  Also the details surrounding the incident reveal something very good about John’s character.
5.      The Situation with Jacob: Karen’s younger brother’s distrust of John lends a slight undercurrent of tension to the story.  When that tension “comes to a boil” so to speak, John handles the situation well, treating 14-year-old Jacob like an adult, readily accepting his apologies and expecting him to own up to his mistakes.
6.      Eli Imhoff:  Karen’s father manages to balance his expectation of propriety with love and understanding. He is a refreshing difference from similar characters, from other books, that I’ve found rigid and unmoving.

Over all:
            This is my favorite kind of story.  They know it is unwise to get attached, but it doesn't matter. Love, after all, is not always rational. Even though they are attached to one another, they make the right choices, and God blesses them by bringing them back together.  I know that life doesn't always work that way, but it should. And let's not forget, this is romance. Happily ever after is required.  
            This series is close to my heart. There is a small Amish community near my home, and I often share the roads with their buggies and wagons.  I have always been fascinated with the culture and traditions of the Amish people.  I learn something new with each book in this series. This is my favorite story so far in the Brides of Amish Country series.  Nice job, Ms. Davids.

*****5 stars