Category Archives: Unsupervised Ramblings

Day to Day

Kylee’s 1st Bee-day party.

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Kylee’s party was a success!  This is the first party we’ve thrown that wasn’t mostly family.  Before the party, Kyle and I had run all over town getting food, supplies, and décor and cleaned every square inch of the house but it was all worth it for how great the party was.  Friends of mine from MOPS, the neighbors, and my mom all helped us celebrate Kylee turning 1!

We did a bee themed party.  Our little girl wore a yellow onesie with a black and yellow striped tutu that I made and bee antennae.  After dinner she smashed a bee-hive honey cake then daddy took her upstairs for a bath and outfit change.  The kids played while the birthday girl was getting freshened up then when she returned we opened gifts.  We are so thankful for everyone who was able to join us and can only wish we could celebrate with all of our friends and family from all over the world.

Here are a few pictures from the party.

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Don’t blink, they grow up too fast

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I am the most accurate definition of a Facebook stalker.  Mostly stalking my close friends and family but every once in a while going off the beaten path and check in on an old friend.  I will click through picture after picture until my eyes hurt and it is way past my bedtime.  I love it.  I’m not trying to be a creeper I am just truly enjoying each and every picture.

But as much fun as I have looking at other people’s photos I find myself constantly stalking myself.  I love going back and reliving each picture.  The kids giggling, sleeping, throwing a fit, and being sweet just melt my heart.  Even though I took most of those pictures it still pulls me in as I click through each album.  My favorite thing to do is start at the first picture and progress through to the most recent.  Watching the kids grow up again frame by frame; it’s awesome.

I did it again last night as I looked for a picture to print for Kylee’s birthday party.  She was so little with such a big personality.  I spent well over an hour just looking at the pictures, forgetting what I actually sat down to do.  I next opened up my big hard drive and looked through so many pictures, from Reece’s arrival to a recent trip to the splash pad.  I can’t believe how much they’ve grown and changed but also seeing the little things that are still the same.  Reece still makes the same faces and Kylee leans her head into my face as a way of cuddling.

It is so crazy to me how fast my babies are growing up.  It seems that it was last week that I was doing jumping jacks after a two mile walk to ‘encourage’ Kylee to be born.  Or even worse, it feels like not that long ago I was crying to Kyle before Reece was born, when the doctors agreed to induce me, asking if we were ready to be parents.

So here were are preparing for Kylee’s first birthday and although I can’t truly explain the feeling I can admit that my mind is blown.  She is turning 1!  When did this happen?  I have to catch myself, when someone asks how old she is, not to say six months.  She is my baby girl but for how much longer?!

I don’t know where to take this post from here.  To be honest, my mind is so blown by realization that my babies are no longer babies that I don’t know what else to say.  Kylee is turning 1!  Reece is almost 3!  I know it is very cliché but I wasn’t prepared for how true it is that they grow up in a blink of an eye.  I guess I am going to post this then head back to Facebook to click through pictures and watch my babies grow up.

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The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

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Following instructions, I powered though the rest of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce.  I am so happy I didn’t set it aside and forget about it.  Was it the best book I’ve read in a while?  No.  Was it a stand out favorite?  No.  Would I read it again?  No.  But……  Was it good?  Yep.  Did I like the overall story?  Yes.  Would I recommend it to a fellow reader?  Yes.

Like I always do before and after reading a book I headed to Amazon to check out customer reviews.  I read the reviews before starting the book to get a sense if the book will be worth reading in the first place.  I rarely read a book that receives less than a 3 star (out of five) approval.  Then after I finish I go back to compare my thoughts with others who have read it.  Amazon customers gave this book 4.3/5.  Not surprising, it was sweet and simple.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

The Unlikely Pilgrimage
of Harold Fry
by Rachel Joyce

The story follow Harold Fry on an unlikely pilgrimage (go figure).  He receives a letter from an old friend, Queenie, who is in Hospice, dying of cancer.  Harold quickly wrote a response and set out on foot to mail it from the nearest post.  But soon he passes the post office and continues walking and begins to believe that he must deliver his response in person and he must walk to her, over 600 miles.  He believes that as long as he is walking she will stay alive.  Along the walk Harold meets an eclectic variety of people, some walk with him while others give him food, shelter, gear, but all of whom encourage his mission once they hear about it.  Throughout the story the reader is haunted with two obvious questions… Will he make it to his destination?  If so, will Queenie still be alive?

Along with Harold’s story, the reader is introduced to Harold’s wife, Maureen.  He loves her dearly but the two have had a rocky marriage for numerous reasons (none of which are infidelity, a thank you to the author for avoiding that overused option).  As Harold walks and transforms, Maureen goes through a transformation of her own.  She starts the story a bit annoying but finishes endearing.

The book was okay.  I didn’t hate it but I was bored.  The story follows an old, retired man who is walking over 600 miles, how much excitement can there really be.  I don’t know what I was expecting when I started reading this book but just 1/3 in I was bored out of my mind.  If you read the synopsis you get the gist of the story.  I should have expected little thrills and drama and that is exactly what I got.  Imagine a man in his 60s walking for nearly 90 days; slow and time consuming.

The story was well written, the characters were mostly likeable, and the plot was cute.  I wanted Harold to succeed in his pilgrimage and for he and Maureen to work out their problems.  I feel bad that I didn’t love the book as much as Amazon reviewers did (4.3/5 stars) but I absolutely understand why a lot of people did like it.  It was just too flat for me right now.  Maybe I needed something with a little more thrill, more adventure (like a 600 mile walk isn’t enough adventure, haha) especially after reading The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Harold’s adventure just didn’t measure up.  It was a sweet, beach style read that I’m sure a lot of people have/will enjoy.

To give credit where credit is due, image is stolen from www.amazon.com.  As always, that is a direct link to the book if you wanted to get your own copy.

To-do, almost done (plus some)

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Every time Kyle has to leave I make a list of all the things I want to accomplish while he is away.  I can’t pinpoint why I am so much more productive when he’s gone, I just am.  After I put the kids down I turn on some music and get to work.  I usually stay up until some crazy hour of the night then crash into bed out of sheer exhaustion.  It is the only thing to look forward to concerning Kyle’s absence.

This go-around I wrote out a list that had 18 things.  Easy ones such as anchoring the cable in our bedroom to the wall and more time consuming ones such as refinishing the dining room table.  It is a dream list, one I know I won’t finish but at least everything is written in one place so that I can stay reminded of the things I want to do.

Kyle comes home tomorrow morning and I must admit, while looking over this list and looking around my house I feel like I made some serious headway.  I put away all of the stray linens that were still sitting in boxes since we moved, I went through/sorted all of my clothes and thrifted a ton, I cleaned out the truck, organized Kylee’s closet by size, started Reece’s busy book, re-covered the corkboard, painted our growth chart, and anchored that damn cable in our bedroom.  In addition to checking off those things from my list I also organized the laundry room, moved the unused couch ottomam out of the living room, hung a shelf in the kitchen, cleaned up my bookshelves, organized my desk, moved and organized the kids’ bookshelf, cleaned out the fridge, and cut the grass.

I love that things are getting done.  I have these grand plans to stay as productive when Kyle is home but deep in the back of my brain I know this is not the case.  We prefer to spend our time together by being together.  We may not be doing anything glamorous but watching TV with him takes precedence over thrifting old clothes.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no intentions of becoming a bum when Kyle is not away and blaming it on wanting to spend time together.  There are so many things that need to get done around the house that would be more fun if we did it together such as painting the picnic table.  It will be hot and messy work but it will be worth it for 1. The end product and 2. A fun way to be together while accomplishing something.  Who knows, maybe I’ll even let him help me refinish the dining room table (this is a project I have a little OCD over).

I am a little sad that not everything on my list was completed.  I wanted him to come home and I proudly show him everything checked off but I know as soon as he walks in the house he will notice a big difference with all the changes I was able to make.   I feel so accomplished.  Plus there will be more trips and to-do lists in the near future.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon

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I have read a lot of really great books but there are few that leave me wishing the book would never end.  The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon is nearly 700 pages and I still wanted more.  I was sad when it ended but the story was complete with no need to go on.

This was one of the four books Kyle selected for me as a birthday present back in May.  I was unsure about it after reading the synopsis on the back because comic books aren’t really my ‘thing’. But it had won the Pulitzer and I am a sucker for accolades so I decided to jump in when I was ready for my next book.

The first thing I noticed was the author’s witty voice.  The sentences felt like they belonged in a comic book.  They had the personality and attitude to match the purpose of the sentence.  There was no fluff, no unnecessary exaggerations; you got what you needed and nothing more.  I hate overly descriptive books where the author takes four pages to paint a scene down the dust on furniture and was relieved that Chabon never once wasted my time with that crap.  There was so much story on every page that even though it took me a while to read, it kept me so engaged that time flew right by.

The Amazing Adventures  of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon

The Amazing Adventures
of Kavalier & Clay
by Michael Chabon

Joe Kavalier and Sammy Clay are the two protagonists in this epic novel.  Joe escaped from Nazi occupied Czechoslovakia leaving behind his family in hopes of making enough money in America to pay their fair to join him.  Sam, his cousin had big dreams of striking it rich by producing comic books but he has no artistic talent.  The two join up, Joe illustrating while Sammy comes up with the storyline, to create a super successful series called The Escapist about a masked man who can escape from any bonding.

The relationship between the cousins is wholesome.  Both are about the same age with similar interests (magic and especially Harry Houdini) and both desire to be successful even if it is for two seriously different reasons.  They work together, and have a believable and authentic feeling relationship.  I fell in love with the young men, whole heartedly wishing nothing but the best for them.

As the two become successful Joe is hit time and time again with the news of his family’s status.  He saves every penny he can to help get them out of harm’s way even going so far as paying for the passage of other Jews to better the chances for his brother.  Over the years Joe develops a relationship with Rosa which softens him some but the future of his family is always in the back of his mind.

Sammy was raised mostly by his mother while his father traveled in a circus like setting.  Struggling with his own sexuality, a physical handicap, and the lackluster payout of his comic authorship dreams, Sammy cannot find a stream for direction in his life.

I just loved this book.  This is the type that I wish I was still in DC with my book club ladies so we could discuss it.  There was so much story and although I was reading it for what seemed like for-ev-er I still could not put it down.  There were no dull moments, no characters I couldn’t stand, no sub-plots that didn’t connect, and no missed opportunities.  There is so much to talk about but I do not want to give away any of the book so please believe me when I tell you that this book was great.  Don’t be daunted by the length of this novel just pick up a copy and read it (you can thank me later).

After finishing I was doing a little research and discovered that The Amazing Adventures of The Escapist was actually made into a comic book in three parts which I quickly ordered and am now waiting on.  Since I ordered them used from a private seller it will take a while for them to arrive but once they do I hope to devour them and write additional reviews.

Those were the days – Write-Brain, Day 6

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It has been so long since I’ve done an exercise from my Write-Brain Workbook.  All of our belongings were packed up in October and most of my books stayed in storage until recently when we moved into our new house.  Today, when I was at a loss for what to write about and writer’s block was in full swing, it dawned on me that I could –and should- do a page today… so here it is!

Finish the story.  Start with:

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Back in 1938, before… emails and video calling the best way to communicate with the woman you love who lives far away was via the written letter mailed through the United States Postal Service.

Her letters would arrive in my mailbox every Monday and Wednesday if she had an adventurous week I might get an extra one on Saturday.

The envelopes were a pale pink made of delicate paper and addressed with her graceful handwriting.  I would gently pull open the envelope, careful not to rip more than necessary, then take out the heavenly scented letter savoring every word.  She signed every one in the same manner, “Sincerely, Marilyn” in wispy and beautiful cursive lettering.  Those letters seared into my heart.

I looked forward to the letters even though we had never met in person.  She was the love of my life and she didn’t know it.  We started writing when a friend of my mother offered to have her niece write to me as I grew more useless from polio.  I was depressed.  I didn’t want some girl’s pity letters but I was not given a choice in the matter.  One day a letter arrived addressed to me and nothing was the same again.

Our letters started very formal and stiff.  Neither of us asked for this.  Her aunt pressured her to write and once the letters started arriving I didn’t want to offend her, her aunt, or my mother so I played along.  But after a few weeks the letters evolved into casual conversation between friends.  She told me about her days, friends, what she liked and disliked, about the local events, and her dreams.  I told her of my dreams and all I hoped to accomplish when I could be more active.  I downplayed my disease as much as I could and embellished my accomplishments.

I began to realize that I had created an image of myself for her that was not entirely accurate.  Over the course of two years I had described a man I wished to be; not who I really was.  She had written to me that she had a break in classes coming up and wanted to come my way and stay with her aunt so we could finally meet.  I relished in the thought of seeing her for the first time.  My heart would melt at the first glimpse of her beauty, my soul would forever be weakened in her absence.  I loved her and I hadn’t met her yet.

So it was set up and she was to arrive in two weeks.  She and I would meet at my mother’s house in the garden where I could be waiting on a bench before she arrived.  I didn’t want her to see how lame I was, how far the weakness had progressed.  I wanted to be a man she could love, maybe marry, but who could marry a man who couldn’t even get down on one knee to propose.  I was sure she would stop writing me once she saw the man I really was.

On the day she arrived my mother wheeled me into the garden and took away the chair after I sat myself in the gazebo.  I waited for footsteps but only heard the breeze running through the leaves.  After a moment I heard my wheelchair crackling through the garden coming back to me.  Angry, I yelled to my mother “I don’t want her to see me in that chair!” Please take it back inside.”  The crackling stopped.  “It’s me.”  It was the most beautiful voice I had ever heard.  I turned around for my first look at a woman who I had loved through letters for the better part of three years.  My heart stopped.  Not only was she more beautiful than every flower in the garden but she was also in a wheelchair.

We talked for hours.  I asked my mother to ring back my chair and I took Marilyn to my favorite place where I would read her letters, under the shade of a large Oak in the park overlooking a babbling creek.  She told me she was injured as a baby and had been in a wheeled chair as long as she could remember.  She said she didn’t think of herself as anything different than the rest of the kids she grew up with.  I don’t see how it is possible but I fell in love with her even more that day.

As the sun set and we readied to return home, with my heart filled with unabashed excitement, I poured out all my feelings toward her.  To my own surprise, in the fever of it all I asked her to marry me.  She looked at me, shocked after being assaulted with such an outpour of emotion from a man whom she had only written to, then smiled.  “Yes!”  And that was it.

Comic Book Fever

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It seems lately I have had much less time to read than normal.  The book I am currently reading The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon is really interesting so I want to dive into it any chance I get but those chances are much fewer and far between lately.

I am only 150 pages into this 650-pager but I am loving it.  The story follows Joe Kavalier and Sammy Clay, cousins who try to cash in on the comic book craze of the early 40’s.  Joe, an escaped Jew from Hitler’s Germany, has amazing artistic talent which he puts to use in hopes of striking it rich in hopes that he can get his parents and brother out of harm’s way.  Sammy, crippled by polio and living with his mother, has the dream and the drive to carve out a career in comics but lacks any artistic capabilities.

Comic books –and graphic novels- typically aren’t my thing.  I took a Modern American Novel class while in college which required me to read three graphic novels, Maus 1&2, American Born Chinese, and Gemma Bovary.  I was surprised how easily I got into them and how quickly I plowed through the pages.  They changed my perspective on graphic novels, I even read a few on my own when I worked at Borders.  Lately though, given I don’t have regular exposure to this genre like I once did, comic book and graphic novels have once again attained an unwarranted aversion. pow

When I was recently unpacking my library, I came across the only comic book I have ever purchased for myself, Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.  I bought it because it makes ‘best novels’ lists year after year.  It is the only graphic novel to make Time magazine’s ‘Top 100 Novel’ list.  With all the praise and popularity of this book I bought it because I needed to read it.  But I still haven’t.

As I read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay I can’t help but want to read Watchmen now.  I want to read it bad too.  If I hadn’t made the promise to myself to stick to only ONE book at a time I would have pick it up and read through the night.  But I can’t.  I am determined to finish Chabon’s book before I crack open the next one.

So that is the point of this post.  I want to read more but I seem to have less reading time lately, I am enjoying the book I am currently reading and it has inspired me to read another book which I can hardly wait to do!  It is a reader’s conundrum.  It looks like I’ll be reading through the night until this fever dies down.