Monday, December 27, 2010

Grandpa is home!

My grandpa, Jim Chandler, at the age of 92 went home last night.

This world was always a temporary stop for him. He taught me that we are travelers on our way to heaven and while we are staying here we should be the best guests we can be and show God's love to as many people as possible. He did that every day. There was never a day that went by that he didn't do something for someone else. He had a heart the size of Alaska and never passed up an opportunity to share the blessings God poured out on him with anyone he met.

My Grandma, Helen, went home ahead of him about 8 years ago. She also was so full of God's love and gave unselfishly of herself. She never met a stranger and I never heard her say a harsh word about anyone. They loved one another deeply and that love spread throughout our family. Their lives were an example to all of us and everyday I see their influence in my life and the lives of my own family. The passion they had for Jesus and the love they had for everyone around them is inspiring.

Grandpa went in the hospital two weeks ago and found out he wasn't going to make it much longer. Despite that news, he continued to be cheerful and upbeat, making the kids laugh every chance he could and helping the rest of us to feel better as well. He assured us all that he was prepared to go and was going to be seeing Jesus. He was discharged under Hospice care a little over a week ago. He deteriorated rapidly to the point of unresponsiveness. The last few days he was unconscious and had been nothing more than a shell, but he kept breathing. He was surrounded by many family and friends. Family from all over the country came to be by him and there were times it was like a big party going on with all of us talking and laughing together. We played games, ate lots of good food and visited. The thought crossed my mind early on that maybe we were being disrespectful but then I remembered that grandpa loved nothing more than to see us all together having a good time. I like to think the sound of our laughter and all the time we spent with each other, as well as with him, helped him pass a little easier.

I got the call about 5am this morning and I got dressed and went over to the house to be with my mom. As she cried on my shoulder I looked at his still form and pictured him being greeted at Heaven's gates by my grandma and a host of others whose lives he had touched. I am sure there is a huge celebration going on right now to welcome him home. He touched so many lives during his stay here on earth and I know that his influence will continue to be felt until the end of time.

After my mom regained her composure we sat on the couch and remembered some of the good times we had with him. I was able to tell her a few stories she hadn't heard before and we laughed together at some of his shenanigans. We talked about how much he loved grandma and how happy she would be to see him. Then we cried a little more for joy at the thought of him back in her arms and being with his precious Savior!

As we sat there it felt like time was standing still for us. I knew that life was going to go on and as I left to go back home to be with my kids when they woke up I saw the cars going to and fro on the streets and people getting started with their days. I thought that time hadn't stopped at all. But for us, it was good to take a moment of time, sitting by his bed, and remember the man he was and to picture the saint he has become.

We'll all miss you, grandpa, but I promise to come home too someday. When we get there, we'll never have to be apart again! Until then, I will continue to make your influence felt in this life by spreading the love that you taught me! You have left a powerful legacy that will be an honor to carry on.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Saturday - Ian McEwan

By: Ian McEwan
Published: 2005
Audiobook Read by: Steven Crossley
My rating: Interesting

This was another random draw from the shelves. I have been attempting to broaden my horizons from my normal mysteries, suspense and science fiction, and this was a successful deviation for me.

Henry Perowne has everything he desires in life, a wonderful wife, two well adjusted children, a fulfilling carreer, and all the material possessions he desires. He wakes up early one Saturday morning not knowing that over the next 24 hours, his entire outlook on life will be brought into question. The day starts out with him witnessing an airplane, on fire, attempting to land. He has no idea what happened to it until he later hears the story on the news. That event clues him in that this will not be a normal day. As the day progresses, he faces various challenges, each having an impact on his view of life. When fate puts him in the way of Baxter, a man suffering from Huntington's, he has to make some truly tough decisions that might end up putting his family in serious peril. No matter how obnoxious Baxter might be, the doctor in Henry wants to try to help him through the hell his disease is about to put him through. He has compassion on this shell of a man who is trying to hold onto his manhood by taking advantage of those who are weaker than himself. Henry knows that the disease is the cause of a lot of his anger and violence but knows there is nothing he can do about it.

Typically I am not a fan of the "day in the life of" novels. There is normally way to much detail and not enough substance to the plot. This one however, was different. There was indeed a ton of detail, some of which was totally irrelevant, but the style of the book kept me interested. Much of the book is Henry's thoughts on whatever he is experiencing and the deviations his mind takes as his circumstances draw forth memories of the past. I was amused at the accuracy with which Ian portrays the workings of the human brain and how a train of thought can be so easily sent down a sidetrack.

The setting of the book is London about a year and a half after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11. There is an extended scene that details an argument about whether war should be declared on Iraq or not. I was impressed by how well Ian articulates both sides of the debate and really gives no true feeling for his own view on the matter. Both sides were delivered with valid logic and well thought out reasoning that would give anyone food for thought no matter what side they may be on. It was very interesting to hear these arguments retrospectively, already knowing what the outcome would be.

I listened to the audiobook read by Steven Crossley. He has a very pleasant voice and I enjoyed his performance very much.

Overall, I simply have to rate this book as interesting. There wasn't a lot of action really but it was a look inside the head of one man and allows us to walk around in his shoes for a day. It wasn't a book that pinned me to the edge of my seat but I did enjoy it. I had to add this new rating to place it in since the others just weren't right.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Island Stallion - Walter Farley

The Island Stallion
By: Walter Farley
Published: 1948
My rating: Good

When I was a kid, The Black Stallion series was the best, and this book was the crowning jewel of the lot! I decided to get it and read it to the kids. It seemed a lot more exciting when I was a kid but my kids seemed to enjoy it and that what really mattered.

Steve Duncan has always dreamed of a flame red, magnificent stallion but never thought he would ever find him. When he travels to Azul Island with his friend Pitch he is shocked to be awakened by a strange sound and look up to see the horse from his dreams! Unfortunately there seems to be no way to reach the cliff where the mighty stallion had been. They begin to explore the island more thoroughly and discover secrets that have been untouched for hundreds of years. As Pitch immerses himself in searching for ancient artifacts, Steve makes friends with the beautiful Flame.

I loved the mystery of the island and the fantasy of being able to find such a place. I think that everyone has a little place inside them that would love to find their own little hideaway that nobody else knows about. The plot and style of writing are a little stiff but enjoyable. It was an unrealistic scenario but appealed to the imagination. We enjoyed hearing about the horses and the hidden paradise they lived in. I was left with the desire to go searching for the island so I too could explore it's secrets!

Overall, it wasn't near as good as I remembered it but we did enjoy the story. I read the entire series as a kid and remember them with fondness. I don't think I'll bother reading any more of them to the kids though. I'll just keep them in my memory as great stories about magnificent horses!

Death Of A Gossip - M. C. beaton

Death Of A Gossip
By: M. C. Beaton
Published: 1985
My rating: Delightful

After getting started with this Hamish MacBeth series with Death of a Village and Death of a Traveling Man, I wanted to get the very first one. I couldn't get it on CD so knowing that my wife would like the series as well, I got it and read it to her. She did not disappoint me! (Not that she ever does!)

Hamish is the new Bobby on the beat in Lochdubh and has not been over zealous in his duties. Instead of catching poachers for example, he engages in a little poaching himself. He knows how to get a free sandwich or cup of coffee and has an eye for the one woman in town he should know better than to chase. However, when it comes to instinct, he's got a good supply. When the much hated Lady Jane turns up dead, everyone is a suspect. Even Hamish didn't mind being rid of her. But when CI Blair comes on the scene and mucks about trying to solve the mystery, Hamish knows he has to do something. Having been ordered by Blair to stay out of the investigation, he quietly talks to the suspects and makes long distance phone calls on someone else's bill. Of course he solves the case but did he really know who had committed the murder?

I didn't enjoy this one quite as much as the other Hamish books I've listened to but it was still a lot of fun. I think part of the problem is the fact that Hamish doesn't factor much into the beginning of the book. Part of the attraction of this series is Hamish and his comical ways of conducting himself, and his bumbling attempts at romance. The laid back style of the book is wonderful and I love the picture of life in the Scottish Highlands. I just wish I could do a better Scottish accent!

Overall, this is a must read for those of you who are interested in the series because it introduces Hamish and makes him a little more real. It is a fun mystery and very easy to read. It's a great beginning to a wonderful series that I am sure is going to be a delight for me for a long time to come!

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Reptile Room - Lemony Snicket

The Reptile Room
By: Lemony Snicket
Published: 1999
Audiobook Read by: Tim Cury
My rating: Delightful

And now we continue to hear about the Series Of Unfortunate Events that befall the Baudelaire children! This is the second book in the series and the kids and I loved it!

After their rescue from the clutches of Count Olaf, the children are sent off to live with their distant non-relative, Montgomery Montgomery. Uncle Monty, is a herpetologist, a word which here means, "someone who studies snakes". The children are faced with an intimidating house with hedges carved into the shapes of snakes. Their hopes of possibly finding a pleasant home are dashed as they travel down Lousy Lane, smell the acrid fumes of horseradish, and get their first glimpse of the ghastly house and it's evil looking hedges. As they go inside with Mr Poe to meet their new guardian, they are greeted by the nicest man they have seen in a long time! Uncle Monty turns out be wonderful and the children love him.

Now, I must warn you that reading any farther through this review will result in much distress and heartache. No one will hold it against you if you decide to stop here and happily go on your way confident that the Baudelaire children have finally found a good home. However, that is not the case. These youngsters are bound for many unfortunate events so if you read on you will hear about the terrible things that befall them.

Count Olaf, a name which here means, "BIG TROUBLE", is not gone for good! He returns to ruin everything and attempt to destroy the children and steal their fortune with yet another dastardly plan. As the tale unfolds, Olaf succeeds in making the orphans miserable yet again and very nearly manages to pull off his evil plot. However, through some quick thinking on the children's part, some bad luck on Count Olaf's part, and help from the Incredibly Deadly Viper, they manage to foil his plans!

Yet again, Lemony Snicket has given us a diabolically fun tale of woe that kept us on the edge of our seats. This book however, has several very funny scenes that had us laughing quite a lot, despite the sad state of affairs for the Baudelaires. I love the crazy way these books are written, even though the plot is ridiculously unrealistic, the style of the story it great! Count Olaf is such an evil character and the despicable deeds he commits are wonderfully awful!

We listened to the audiobook performed by Tim Curry and once again, despite not having the supporting cast he had in the first book, he is magnificent! I can't imagine anyone else that would be better suited to read these books! :)

Overall, despite the terrible things that happen to the children and the complete lack of a happy ending, this is a delightful book! I highly recommend you give this series a try, I don't think you'll be disappointed!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

My Wonderful, Beautiful, Spectacular, Perfect Wife

My Perfect Wife

I want to introduce you to the most wonderful woman in the world. (At least I think she is and I don't care if you disagree!)
This is Tammy

Now, before I continue, I have to warn you; I think Tammy is perfect and I love her to infinity and beyond! So, this is going to get mushy, it might get long, and there are quite a few pictures because I couldn't make up my mind which ones to choose so I chose them all! Therefore, if you don't like mushy stuff, you can just say "Hi" to Tammy here, shake hands and go on your way and I won't hold it against you. However, if you want to hear about the most wonderful woman to walk the face of t he earth, read on!

One other thing before I begin, I do know that Tammy will read this, (and probably kill me for it, in which case it was lovely knowing you all!) but every word I write is the absolute truth and comes from my heart. She is the one and only love of my life, and I will never be able to express just how much I love her, no matter how hard I try!

Now, for those of you who are still reading. Tammy and I have been married for 12 1/2 years but it seems like yesterday that we said "I do". February 15 will be the 13th anniversary of our first date and July 24th will be our 13th wedding anniversary. We moved really fast and nobody thought we'd make it but here we are, more in love than ever!

When Tammy and I met, I knew we were meant to be together and I still do. I believe that God brought us together. It's a wonderful story and I intend to tell it in a future blog but not now. :) One of the things that caught my attention though was her glorious hair!
Here we are a couple years after we were married.
Just look at that hair!

Of course it was more than her hair that hooked me in the end but I have to admit it didn't hurt!

She supported me as I started my own remodeling business and worked with me on my jobs as much as possible up until our oldest, Cheyenne, was born.
Here she is helping me install counter-tops in our kitchen.

When things got very tight financially, she stood by me and never complained. I remember one week, a few months after I started on my own, we had no money for groceries. We ate spaghetti for dinner every night, without sauce mind you, and she never once complained! She doesn't even like spaghetti very well! 

Another time I had some extra money after a big job and I gave her $40 to do as she wished with. A few weeks later when things were again very tight, she gave me what she had left, $38! Shocked, I asked her why she still had so much of it left. She simply said, "There wasn't anything I needed"! 

She could make a meal appear out of thin air it seemed. No matter how hard it got, she would remind me that God would always provide for us, and he did! Her faith inspired me, and I began to grow spiritually because of her. There were many times I was down but she was always there to give me a swift kick in the butt and remind me that I better keep my chin up and carry on! I always knew she was right!
She is always fun to be around, and the kids couldn't have a better mother! She played with them and joined in on their games. She is never "too old" for things.
Here she is being a kid! :)

There have been many times when I wanted to be an "old man" but she brings out the kid in me. She always has a smile and rarely ever lets anything get her down. When we have gone on vacations she is as excited and enthusiastic as either of the kids. Traveling with her is so much fun! Everywhere we go she takes great pleasure in exploring and discovering new things. Her love of life is contagious. Our family trips never have angry fights in the car, grouchiness or arguments over anything. We always have fun from start to finish!

Here are some pictures of her on our vacations:

Here we are at the beach in southern New Jersy

At Niagara Falls

Being eaten by a shark at the Niagara Aquarium

In front of the "Big Apple" in Medina, New York

On the dock at a cabin we rented for a week in Maine

On a boat trip out into Penobscot bay in Maine

In the top of the Penobscot Observatory.
If you notice, she looks a bit nervous, she hates heights but she went up for the kids anyway!

In one of the Maine lighthouses.
That's the lens of the lamp on the left.

In the car somewhere. :)

The kids absolutely adore her! They could not have a better mother! From the day they were born she has been so full of love for them and no matter how difficult and ornery they might have been she always loved them. When she would have to punish them she never ever lost her temper and went too far. They always knew whatever punishment they received, they deserved it. She has the patience of a saint. Wesley especially could be very trying as a toddler but she always kept her calm. There were a few times I came home from work and she was getting close to the end of her rope but she would turn him over to me and walk away instead of losing it. I am ashamed to say, I was more likely to get carried away but seeing her calm ways helped me to stay in control as well. 

She loves me unconditionally and treats me like a king. I don't deserve her but every day I thank God for bringing us together! She is by far, the most wonderful, spectacular, beautiful, marvelous, awesome, absolutely perfect woman for me! I love her so very much and I intend to do my absolute best to show her just how much! It's going to take the rest of my life and even then I'm sure I won't be able to scratch the surface but I'm never going to quit trying! I look at her and my heart feels like it's going to burst with love. If it wasn't for her, I'd be a washed out shell of a man, miserable and broken, swirling down the river of life on a piece of wreckage from the disaster I had made of myself before she found me. She threw me a rescue line and helped me to build a wonderful life full of joy and happiness! 

If you made it this far I'm sure you have figured out that I love Tammy very much! Please forgive this public display of affection but I want to shout from the rooftops how much I love her! Like I told Darlene, she is my #1 angel! She was sent down from heaven to rescue me! There is nothing, nohow, nowhere, never ever that I will let come between us!

I LOVE TAMMY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'll leave you with one more random picture of her. I never get tired of seeing her beautiful face and since this is my blog, you just have to deal with it! :)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Wesley's School Christmas Program

Last night we attended my son, Wesley's, Christmas program at school. This is Wesley standing in front of his display table about Spain.
If you follow Susan Mills' wonderful blog you might have seen a story about this in my comment. Anyway, The elementary school has been working on studying various countries, and for the after program fellowship time, the students were standing with their displays answering questions about their respective countries and passing out samples of various foods from said countries. The food that we were assigned was Flan. Now, my wife had no idea how to make it but thought she could muddle through. However at 8am yesterday morning she was lying in bed, miserable with the nasty head cold that rampaged through our family over the past few weeks. I do not know how to make Flan nor did I wish to learn. My idea was to buy a few cans of Spanish Peanuts and serve them in Dixie Cups to the patrons of Wesley's display. Anyway, in the end, my saint of a wife, dragged herself out of bed and with much hand washing and disinfecting of herself, made the Flan, spending all afternoon in the kitchen! By the time she was done, she was about to collapse but she insisted on going to the program so she could see Wesley in action. She really is a saint and I love her very much!

Back to the program itself. The entire elementary school was involved from pre-K up through 4th grade. Wesley is in the 3rd grade by the way. This is the littlest ones in action:
Joseph seemed to find his costume a bit uncomfortable and kept pulling at it and itching. At one point he pulled the neck down and jammed his arm down through it up to the elbow so as to scratch some stubborn itch! I must confess that these little unintentional displays are what make programs like this the most enjoyable for me! :)

Here we get to see Wesley in action:
The three golden creatures beside him are actually stars even though they appear to be children in costume. The one in front wearing the stylish shades is "First Star" and was so very full of self importance since she was the first star to be visible in the night sky. The middle star is "Lucky Star" who is full of positive attitude and has a very optimistic outlook on everything. The star at the top is "Falling Star" and most of the time needed crutches to get around because he kept falling down and hurting himself. There was also "Rock Star" who loved to rock-n-roll, "North Star" who was old with a long gray beard and was full of wisdom, and "Shooting Star" who ran around in her cowgirl hat and boots shouting "POW POW POW".

The theme of the program was that despite how important the stars were, Jesus is the true star of Christmas. The end of the play had all of the stars and other cast kneeling around the manger, giving Christ their devotion and showing that the real meaning of Christmas is Jesus.

Finally I had to include this picture of yet another youngster performing a random act of hilarity! Also note the face of the boy on the top left in the sweater vest. Again, these are the most fun of any program!
Overall, we had a wonderful time and the Flan ended up being a big hit. There were tons of people roaming around so I didn't get to try much of the food available but I did manage to snag myself a little Italian Ice Cream which was quite tasty! :)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Death Of A Traveling Man - M. C. Beaton

Death Of A Traveling Man
By: M. C. Beaton
Published: 1993
Audiobook Read by: Davina Porter
My rating: Wonderful

I fell in love with the Hamish Macbeth series after listening to Death Of A Village. Hamish is such a great character and it's loads of fun to hear about his adventures around Lochdubh.

In this story, Hamish is faced with a pair of "Travelers" camping out in the field by the manse. He can't put his finger on the reason but he takes an instant dislike to this devilishly handsome fellow and his foul mouthed companion. Hoping they won't stay long he keeps a wary eye on them but as the days stretch into weeks, he knows that trouble is bound to come. His fears are realized when murder shakes up his peaceful little corner of Scotland and the evidence points more and more at people he sorely hates to believe capable of such an act. In the meantime he has been saddled with an assistant who is determined to clean up the police station and not in a crime stopping way! Willie insists on cleaning everything and Hamish finds that even the insoles of his shoes have been polished! Willie spends more time on housework than police work and it drives Hamish to distraction! Of course in the end Hamish gets his man and solves the case but not before some very unexpected circumstances turn his life upside-down!

One of the things I love about these stories is the way they don't focus exclusively on the mystery. I love to hear about the little day to day details of Hamish's life and there is also the added benefit of not knowing what's a clue and what isn't which makes the mystery even more fun to solve. Hamish has such an interesting outlook on life and his romantic interests make for some good laughs along the way. He loves his town though, and would do anything for the people that are under his care.

Willie adds another dimension of fun to this particular story. His constant cleaning and the consternation it causes Hamish is hilarious. He also has his own romantic interest that was quite fulfilling as it proves that love can come in the most unexpected ways and there really is someone for everyone! By the end of the book, Willie and Hamish are perfectly positioned for a long and happy friendship with each being right where they most want to be.

I listened to the audiobook read by Davina Porter. As in the past, I loved her performance as she gave each character a life of their own and has such a great voice to listen to. Her accent is wonderful as well and since I love the Scottish accent so much, it was doubly enjoyable for me! :)

Overall this is a wonderful book from a wonderful series. I am looking forward to next one and sincerely hope Hamish can stay out of trouble until I return to Lochdubh. I'm sure he won't, but I can still hope! :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Between, Georgia - Joshilyn Jackson

Between, Georgia
By: Joshilyn Jackson
Published: 2006
Audiobook Read by: Joshilyn Jackson
My rating: Great

Ok, unwittingly I have added another title to my "Chick-lit" adventures! I was looking for something a little different and pulled this one off the shelf not knowing that it was my feminine side that was doing the choosing! I had a few moments of panic as the opening chapter got under way and I realized what I had done, but it wasn't long before I was thoroughly wrapped up in the story and not caring what it was doing to me! :)

Nonny Frett is born into a classic family feud that has been going on for as long as anyone can remember. Her birth and the circumstances that surrounded it were like jet fuel on the fire that continued to burn until Nonny was a woman of 30. Knowing that she was part of the reason for the feuding she tries to make peace more than once, but when things get out of control there is nothing she can do to stop the terrible events that will take both families to the brink of destruction. It seems that nothing good can come from the war that ensues, but when the smoke clears, they all discover that miracles really do happen!

The book opens, with graphic detail, on the birth of Nonny. I know how it all works having assisted in the births of my own children but it was a bit of a shock to have the story start out this way. I was pretty worried that this was going to be one of those books I would struggle to finish but after the initial discomfort, the plot began to take shape and I was hooked! It really is a heart warming story of love after you dig through the crust of hate and enmity. Nonny's deaf and blind mother is an inspiration and her wisdom helps Nonny to keep her head on more than one occasion. Despite it's rocky start, I am very glad that my "feminine side" picked this one out, it really is a great story!

I listened to the audiobook read by Joshilyn Jackson herself. For the most part I have not found authors to be the best readers but I was very impressed by Joshilyn's narration. She did a wonderful array of voices and the expression and emotion she poured into the story were wonderful! In my research, I discovered that she has acting experience and that was very evident in her performance.

Overall this was a touching story and I was moved to tears a couple times. The crazy feud between the two families highlighted the senselessness of anger and retaliation. There is a strong lesson to be learned from this book about the damage a feud can bring on innocent people. If you get the chance to read this book, don't hesitate to do so!

To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper Lee

To Kill A Mocking Bird
By: Harper Lee
Published: 1960
Audiobook Read by: Sally Darling
My rating: AMAZING

I have heard of this book all my life but never read it. I came across it on the shelf at the library and decided to see what all the hype was about. I am so glad I did! My "AMAZING" rating is reserved for books that make a profound impact on me, not just as really great books, but by the message that is contained in the pages. This book truly deserves this distinction!

Scout is just an average little girl in 1930s Georgia. A tomboy to the core, full of adventure and mischief. She joins her brother Jem, and their best friend Dill in speculation about the mysterious "Boo Radley" who lives a couple of houses down. Together they try to get him to come out of his house but succeed only in getting themselves in trouble time and time again. She goes to school and just as any red blooded child would, hates it thoroughly. She struggles with her teacher and gets into more than one fight with the boys. In every respect she is a normal little girl.

Normal as she might be, she is plunged into an extraordinary drama that shapes her life forever. When her father Atticus, agrees to defend a black man, falsely accused of rape by a white girl, things become far from normal! Scout and Jem learn the hard way that justice is not always guaranteed. As the trial gets moving they face angry classmates who think it's wrong for Atticus to side with a Negro. Atticus teaches them that respect for your fellow man should be colorblind but all around them they see family, neighbors, and country folk who obviously disagree with that statement. Nothing makes sense to the children as they watch the actions of people whom they thought of as good folks but were behaving like hateful heathens. At every turn they are faced with the realization that love just doesn't seem to be a word these people learned very well. Through it all however, Atticus never wavers in his determination to show his children the proper way to treat one another. In the end, as they watch the drama unfold before them, they become as determined as their father to treat everyone as equals, no matter what the cost. They know that they aren't going to change the world over night, but together, they can start it in the right direction!

This book was a powerful reminder not only of the race issue that has been so prevalent for so long, but also the discrimination against those of a different background, financial situation, or upbringing, regardless of skin color. So many people feel that mixing with those of a lower social position is a bad thing but what they don't seem to realize is that their high and mighty attitude simply lowers them to a level even lower than the ones they look down on. God made each and every one of us and nobody is better than anyone else. It doesn't matter who you are, where you come from, or how you were brought up, we are all the same in the eyes of God. The richest most powerful person in the world is no better than the homeless child living on the streets. Sure, some people choose wrong paths to follow, they might be criminals, they might be mean and nasty to those around them, or they might just be impossible to get along with, but God loves everyone the same and we should too! In the end we will all face the same thing, death and God's judgement. Do you think God is going to discriminate against anyone? We will all face Him as equals, with our lives laid bare for everyone to see. I tell you what, I want a life filled with love for my fellow man to be what God finds when he looks at me, how about you?

I was very moved by this book as you can see, but I enjoyed the story as well. Scout's narration of her adventures was very enjoyable and seeing some of these events through the eyes of a child was very refreshing. Many times throughout the book I was laughing or crying. This was a small window into a way of life from long ago. We can all learn from this story and have some fun while we're at it!

I listened to the audiobook read by Sally Darling. Sally did a spectacular job with this book. She had such a great voice and accent for the story. I loved the way she gave it the feel of really being told by a young girl.

Overall, this was truly an AMAZING book. It gave me a lot to think about and caused me to examine my own life and motivations. Would I have the courage to do what Atticus did? Am I teaching my children the moral values that they need to grow up to be honorable adults? I hope so. If you have never read this book I strongly urge you to get it soon! This is one book everyone should read!

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Bad Beginning - Lemony Snicket

The Bad Beginning
By: Lemony Snicket
Published: 1999
Audiobook Read by: Tim Cury
My rating: Delightful

The kids and I listened to to this one in the mornings while we waited for their school bus. Despite being a book of such unfortunate events, it was rather fun to listen to and the kids were excited to hear more each morning.

Violet, Klaus, and Sunny are truly unfortunate youngsters. Their misfortunes are many and horrendous to the point of being unbearable. I must warn you now as we were warned, this story does not have a happy ending. If you are looking for a happy tale of peace and tranquility, you are looking at the wrong book! However, the children need our support! If we abandon them because of the horrible things that happen in this story, how can we be sure that even worse events won't befall them? No, dear reader, we must be here for these poor unfortunate children and cheer them on their dreary way!

Violet is the eldest and has a knack for mechanical things, inventing all sorts of devices in her mind and using these skills to help them in tough situations. Klaus is a book worm to his very core. He would rather immerse himself in a book about Nuptial Law than run out to play baseball. Sunny, the baby, loves to bite! You may think of biting as being a rather useless skill but Sunny is really good at biting. When you combine these three, you have a team that will stop at nothing to protect one another. Despite insurmountable odds, they keep pressing on, hoping to find their way out of the gloom of Count Olaf's world. Count Olaf is as evil a man as you could wish to meet! His only desire is to get his hands on the children's family fortune and then do away with them. He will stop at nothing to realize his fiendish plots.

I think one of the things I liked about this book is the wild imagination of it. It is one of the most unique books I've come across and despite the lack of a happy ending, it was a lot of fun to listen to. Several times we got so wrapped up in it that we completely forgot to watch for the bus! The plot itself isn't all that out of the ordinary but the actions of the characters, and the style of the writing were definitely unique.

We listened to the audiobook performed by Tim Curry and a group of other supporting voices. I say performed because even though it was an unabridged reading of the book, it was more like a performance. They did a wonderful job and the voices they used for each character fit the style and mood of the book perfectly.

Overall, this was a delightful book. It was a little depressing at times but was very interesting. As I said at the beginning, the kids loved it and even wanted to leave early in the mornings to go to the bus stop so we could have more time to listen! It is definitely worth checking out!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Am I sick?

I have a project going that my wife calls the "Doghouse". I'm a computer nut and have been playing around with web site hosting for several years. I decided to finish off a small area of my shed to use as a computer/electronics laboratory for the kids and I. Using leftover and upgraded items from the hotel where I work I will have a heated/air conditioned, carpeted, well lit room with nice counter tops for work spaces and lots of shelves for storage. The name "Doghouse" came from some friends of ours that asked if they might be able to use it when their wives are mad at them. :)

Nov. 27th - last Saturday:

Since it is intended to be used for computers and electronics, I sealed it....almost too well. I was working on the final coat of paint on the walls, guzzling a tasty pot of coffee, and looking forward to an evening of playing cards with some friends in a few hours. It took a couple of hours to get the paint finished and by the time I opened the door and let some oxygen into the room I was as high as a kite! I didn't realize it until I was trying to stand upright in my living room and ended up staggering around instead. The kids thought it was hilarious and I hammed it up a little for their benefit.

I finished the pot of coffee I had been working on and put another one on to brew for our card playing. After a couple of hours and more coffee, I began to wonder if I wasn't just hopped up on caffeine instead of still being high. I was starting to wonder if maybe I'd overdone it by the time we finished our games and were getting ready for bed. I sat a bit unsteadily on the edge of the bed and told my wife that I might be coming down with something.


Nearly a week later, I can look back and see that I was high on paint fumes, hopped up on caffeine, and getting sick all at the same time! I have a very solid head cold that doesn't want to let up so I am actually going to go to the doctor this afternoon! Why is it, when I decide to get sick, that I have to do other stupid stuff at the same time so I don't even know what is happening?

Anyway, I have two reviews to write and the next part of my story but instead of that, all I was able to come up with was this. So hang around for a few more days if you want something that makes more sense!! :)