Tuesday, February 24, 2015

What I'm Reading Now (and Later)

I haven't posted here in ages, but I wanted to think through my reading goals this month and participate in 5 Minutes for Books' What's on Your Nightstand carnival. I am currently reading three books and of course want to finish them:
So what new books do I want to read? I have a couple of middle grade novels that I'd like to get to:
And as always, there are some other novels I could read:
Check out the reviews for the books just off my Nightstand:
  • Zodiac Legacy: Convergence is a super hero novel from Stan Lee, Stuart Moore and artist Andie Tong. Please enter to win a copy of the novel, plus an original character sketch.
  • Girl Online is a really fun YA novel.
  • The Secrets of Midwives is a novel about family secrets and 3 generations of midwives who are impassioned by what they do.

Friday, October 03, 2014

The Good Lie, a GREAT choice (Or "Why I didn't see Gone Girl this weekend")


I had my heart set on seeing a movie today. I had planned to see Gone Girl. I read the book, I enjoyed the book, but it was definitely a disturbing read (you can read my 2012  review of  Gone Girl at 5 Minutes for Books). The movie looks amazing. Everyone is totally excited about it. It's been long enough since I read the book that I did not remember all of the things that disturbed me. I knew there were many twists and turns; I knew it was psychologically dark. But movies! Movies are fun! They are a different type of art.

Recently I saw This is Where I Leave You after having read the book. The book was fine, but I didn't love the book. The trailers for the movie moved me. The cast was phenomenal. I couldn't wait to see it, and it didn't let me down. I'm not saying that I thought that would be the case with this movie, but I know it's a riveting, unexpected story, and I wanted to see it play out on screen with good guy Ben Affleck in that role.

I don't know what made me hesitate in buying a ticket to see Gone Girl. Perhaps it was reading a few early reviews from people who were disappointed by the movie. People thought it was strange (and honestly, if you haven't read the book, it's going to shock you). I consulted Plugged In Online and my gut fears were confirmed. Gone Girl is a dark movie telling a dark story. From what I read I think the violence, the sex, it goes too far.

When I was looking at the movie listings I saw a movie called The Good Lie which was also opening this weekend. It stars Reese Witherspoon. I later saw that it is produced by Ron Howard and Brian Glazer. You can't go wrong there, even though it's a tough tale about the lost boys of Sudan.

The truth is I will probably see Gone Girl at some point. But what I did today was to lat the power of my dollars tell Hollywood what kind of movies I want to watch. Gone Girl is going to make millions this weekend. It will probably be number one, but do I want more violent, sexually explicit thrillers made? No. Do I want touching, thought-provoking hard movies that make you think and make you love made? Yes I do.

The Good Lie was a hard movie to watch. War is hard. The loss of life and family and home is unjust. It was sad, but it is The Good Sad. This Sad reminds me that our world is troubled. I was reminded that people need help. But in the midst of this sad story I was reminded of hope and determination and courage. I saw people who did not give up on God's plan for them, even in the midst of inexplicable evil.

As I left this movie I couldn't help but think about the ALS ice bucket challenge. It is hard. It is shocking. It is cold. But people are thinking and talking about ALS and other diseases that need money to find a cure.

I am issuing my own challenge to my friends and family. I am challenging my friends to read a book, to watch a movie like The Good Lie. Let your heart be broken for the true injustices in this world, but also let your heart be filled with hope for those who are determined to survive.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

I'm Gonna Eat Some Worms

I'm not talking the self-pity "Nobody loves me, Everybody Hates Me" kind, but the "Early-Bird Gets The..." variety.

I'm an early-bird by nature. I was not happy when my dog woke me at 6:30 yesterday on my first day of summer, especially since much of my summer will involve waking early so that I can take my daughter to her babysitting job. But if I sleep until 7:00 a.m., or gasp -- even 8:00 a.m., I am completely raring to go.

I feel especially as if I've gobbled all the worms this morning, because I woke up, cooked breakfast for Kyle (my fellow early-bird family member) and me, and went to the grocery store and put away every last can. Tell me I'm not the only one who sometimes loses steams and leaves a bag of dry goods in the floor of the pantry after a harrowing shopping trip?

All of this was accomplished by 10:00 a.m.

Now I'm sitting back on the couch doing some random internet surfing, but it's somewhat guilt-free, knowing I already have some productivity under my belt.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Reading Together (Still and Again)

This blog started off as a sort of general blog about my thoughts and life. I was trying to get into the habit of writing, and I think I did. Blogging was different back in 2006. It was smaller. It was more about writing and connecting and less about business, so I connected. I connected with people about books and tips that "worked for me," and faith, and all sorts of topics. Was that better than what I do now? No. I needed it then, but I don't think I'd have the energy for it today.

All of that is to say that one of things I did back in the day was have a little Read To Me challenge. It was for me as much as anyone, though I did want to encourage others to read to their children as well, especially once they were reading on their own.

I recently wrote at 5 Minutes for Books about a similar initiative that Scholastic is undertaking, challenging families to make a new habit by reading for 20 minutes for 20 days. I still read with Amanda, my 15 1/2 year old, but with her schedule, there's no way that we'll read for 20 minutes a day. But I can commit to read with Kyle, my son who is almost 10, each day, and to continue to make the effort to read with Amanda.

If you don't make it a habit to read with your older children, I encourage you to do so. It is something that is a treasure to me and to my kids.

So for this month's What's on Your Nightstand, I'm going to focus on what I'm going to read with them.

Kyle and I have started Jarrett J. Krosoczka's Platypus Police Squad: The Ostrich Conspiracy over the weekend. If we really do read every day, it won't take us 20 days to read it, so I need to be ready with our next selection. He's been reading Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. Amanda and I read the first two or three of them together, and I enjoyed them, so I'm thinking that I might jump in and read the next one with him. I think he's on 8 or 9, but he can fill me in.

Amanda and I have started Rick Riordan's The Lightning Thief, because it's probably her all-time favorite series, Kyle fell in love with it last summer, and they still can't believe that I haven't read it. We are maybe 20% into it right now, so though we won't be reading every day, I'll try to finish it this month.

Do you have any suggestions for great read-alouds for me and a 10 year old boy? We tend to like funny books, and if they have a big dose of heart on top of that, it's even better.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Parenting: The Teen Years

When Kyle started Kindergarten, most of the kids in his class happened to the be the first-born in their families. Because Kyle is over 5 years younger than his sister, by the time he started school, Amanda was in the 6th grade. My friends often asked me questions and were especially concerned with later years saying, "When our daughters are teenagers, we're really going to have questions for you."

I have leaned on my friends who have been a step ahead of me in parenting as a resource. Those who are in the trenches with me are a great support as well.

I've been musing and writing about a couple of specifics regarding parenting teenagers.


The second one is about kids and money, not just teens, though the teen aspect is strong. I wrote about 3 life lessons for kids about money.


I wrote  that post in conjunction with Dave Ramsey's new book Smart Money, Smart Kids (where there is LOTS of info about teens). Please check out my book review and giveaway at 5 Minutes for Mom as well.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

What I'm Reading Now

I had sort of given up on writing up my own post for What's on Your Nightstand at 5 Minutes for Books for a few reasons.
  1. I haven't really been blogging much here, since I've been writing more at 5 Minutes for Mom and of course reviewing at 5 Minutes for Books, but with a brand new post yesterday, I thought, "Why not keep up the trend?" (you can read my post about how a sweet video memory of my daughter has encouraged me to Remember What is Important).
  2. I am often bogged down by books to be read and don't want to take the time to figure out which books I am going to read this month. I've remedied that by changing the way I do it. I'm not going to stress out about it by focusing on books that I am reading right now, which will simplify it somewhat.
  3. I'm lazy?!? That one applies to so many things that I would like to do but do not. I'm trying to simplify (thus, no lovely pictures) and yet still share what I want.
Currently Reading:
  • God is Just Not Fair -- a friend forwarded me a devotional this morning written by Jennifer Rothschild, and it mentioned that her book published today, so I clicked over to amazon and immediately ordered it for both of us! They didn't have any print copies for some reason, but the Kindle is a great price, so I have it right now, and am going to dig in today.
  • Nerd Camp 2.0 -- Elissa Brent Weissman's book Nerd Camp is one that Amanda and I loved so very much that I nominated it for the Cybils award that year, and I was delighted that it won! Kyle and I are reading this one aloud and enjoying it.
  • Mouseheart -- This is one I requested for review from Amazon Vine because it was described as a mix of Redwall and the Warriors (which is one of the series that Kyle absolutely loves). He's acting disinterested, but I'm reading it anyway. It's good so far.
  • Smart Money, Smart Kids by Dave Ramsey and his daughter Rachel Cruze -- I'll be featuring this over at 5 Minutes for Mom, but it's a topic that I am pretty passionate about and yet know I haven't done my best at training up my 15 year old and 10 year old kids in the way they should go in regards to money.
  • Strong Motion by Johnathan Franzen -- This is typical Franzen, long and full of biting social commentary. It's on my ipod, so I listen when I can.
Up Next:
  • Always Emily -- When I lived in Connecticut, I attended a book launch party at Michaela MacColl's house for her first book Prisoners in the Palace. I loved it (and still highly recommend it -- a great book with an upstairs/downstairs Downton-esque theme). I also enjoyed her novel, Promise the Night about aviator Beryl Markham so when I saw that she was publishing a new one about the Bronte sisters, I knew I'd want to read it.
  • Until You're Mine -- This is described as psychological suspense, which I really enjoy when it's done right, so I think when I do pick it up, it will be a quick read, even though it's rather long. I hope so.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Remembering What's Important

A while ago, Susan asked if I had some VHS home videos or 8mm videos I'd want to send to YesVideo to be converted to digital files.

Look at two of my favorite snippets in my post at 5 Minutes for Mom, and learn about the herculean effort I had to make to get that tape out of my dead video camera, and my sadness over all the memories I've already lost.

I've loved sharing those videos with my family and being able to relive the memories myself. Here's another snippet of a memory that was totally lost to me, but now is reclaimed through the beauty of video:
 I think it means even more, because I help teach preschoolers at the Bible study I attend. I know that Amanda learned this simple song that teaches her about Jesus at church, and I know that she learned even more about Him when she attended the same Bible study with me years ago.

I couldn't have seen this concrete reminder at a better time. Spring is so busy and important things often go by the wayside or get lost in the busyness of the urgent. I love teaching these little ones about Jesus each Wednesday morning, but by the end of March, I -- along with my other leaders -- are tired.

Instead of counting down the weeks, I can let the Amanda of of the past inspire me. Maybe 12 years from now, one of the parents of a child I've given my time to teach will look back on where their journey of faith started, perhaps with a snippet of him reciting a verse I helped him memorize.


Do you have outdated video files to which you'd like to have easy access? I can highly recommend YesVideo's service. Now you can even use those snippets to create gifts or send digital e-cards from Hallmark. Save 35% on your transfer through 3/31 with the code EASTER35.

 Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.