"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Monday, January 12, 2015

The Twelve Days of January

Except for books reviews, I've not done a whole lot on this blog in the last few years.  I wanted to keep up with what I did this year - maybe not every day, but highlight a few things here and there. I doubt I'll blog about each day of 2015 like I did here, but I wanted to get into the habit of noting some things so I'll start with this...the twelve days of January!

1 - made Cincinnati chili; saw Sophie at my parents' house; Andrew left for youth trip in Virginia; started reading Hiroshima

The little Sophie bear

2 - started reading Bomb; fell off the stairs (hardwoods hurt); received 7 Christmas cards - one from Germany, the others were all forwarded from our old address; helped with Allied Churches of Alamance County's (ACAC) food pantry at the mall

3 - put away Christmas stuff; Andrew home around 3 PM

After I put away my Christmas decorations, I put out a few things

4  -- cleaned blinds in sun room; talked to Samer via Skype for the first time since before Christmas; finished Bomb, Hiroshima, and started and finished Lincoln's Grave Robbers

5 -- morning walk in Graham; got more library books; started reading biography of Benedict Arnold outside in the glorious sunshine (chilly, and a bit breezy, but not bad in the sun); Zach home from the mountains

6 -- to Tanger with Zach; Will started Masters class with North Carolina State (online class)

After running around in the play area, we sat in the sun for a few minutes

7 -- ACAC food pantry; colored My Little Pony pictures with Zach

Decorating the ginger train

8 -- woke up to news about Paris terror attack (Charlie Hebo); 14 degrees when I woke up; did the candy train with Zach and Mama; took Zach to the Children's Museum for a short time before dropping him off at Steph's; Andrew had two top wisdom teeth pulled; started White Collar season 5

The train before it fell apart

9 -- Yo Zone, Ross and Target with Andrew and Michael; put up coat hanger in entry way

Michael at Daniel's house on New Year's Eve

10 -- received a Christmas card from a friend in Massachusetts (had our old address on it); to the train museum with Zach (met 7 year old Nick, had fun with other children); went to the park for 45 minutes (played with Sawyer, Nelson, and Josh)

Zach and his friend, Nick

11  -- survived Harris Teeter (double coupons + Sunday = grocery shopping nightmare); Z rode his tricycle and I walked for about 45 minutes; more White Collar season 5; NC State defeated Duke in college basketball (Duke's first loss this year; Andrew happy)

12 -- played with both Sophie and Zach; decorated a Gingerbread man with Zach and Mama

Sophie and the doll she got for Christmas

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014 Meme

Happy New Year to all who celebrate! ;)

1. What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before?

helped sort food for the Allied Churches of Alamance County's food pantry on Black Friday and a few times since then

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Well, my gratitude journal got neglected more than written in in 2014 so ...

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

my sister in law had a baby girl, Sophie

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Mema died on July 13. She was 91.

5. What countries did you visit?

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?

a trip to visit Samer

7. What date from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

besides the two mentioned above (birth/death), I will remember September 30 since that is when we closed on both our old and new houses

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

selling our old house a couple of days after putting it on the market

9. What was your biggest failure?


10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I got the family sickness a few days before Christmas (cough, sniffles, sore throat, chills).  Probably because Zach was sick and wanted me to hold him, and he breathed right into my face.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

frozen custard

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Andrew's - he's most always a cheerful, helpful guy

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

certain family members

14. Where did most of your money go?

the new house

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

 I really enjoyed a couple day trips I took with my mom, and the beach trip we went on with my sister and nephew

16. What song(s) will always remind you of 2014?

Ummmm, All About That Bass

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

i. Happier or sadder?

ii. same

iii. Thinner of fatter?

iv. same

v. richer or poorer?

vi. well, we bought a house so probably poorer in some ways, but if a house is a good investment then maybe richer

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

hiking in the mountains; visiting Samer since we didn't at all

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
staying home

20. How will you be spending Christmas?

It was our first Christmas without Mema alive - rather odd since during my childhood, we always went to visit Mema and Pop. Even through adulthood we were there at Christmas or somewhere around the holidays.

All of us except my brother's family (they were in the mountains visiting his wife's family)  and Lorraine (who was visiting her mom for a few days)* met at my sister's house around 4:30. Andrew and I had eaten lunch and exchanged a few gifts with Andrew's parents, brother, and his wife earlier in the day.  It was wonderfully sunny for the first time in a few days so we ended up going to see the horse.  My sister in law was taking pictures of herself and the horse - trying out her new phone. 
Anyway, later in the day we went to Steph's house where we ate, watched The Andy Griffith Show (Opie the Bird-man), played one game of Apples to Apples (Will won) while Daniel watched "Frosty the Snowman" since he'd not seen it this Christmas season (yeah, really!)  We decided to see the lights on Marye Drive. They were in time with some music on the radio.  A really nice display which we enjoyed!  Then we drove up to Walgreens since they were open.  I guess we were bored and wanted to see what was happening.  I bought some Combos which were 2 for $2. Then we went by Sheetz for free hot chocolate or coffee or whatever.  Walgreens and Sheetz are both close to my sister's house. 
Andrew and I got home around 9:15 or so, and I made our online reservations so we could leave for Southport in the morning.  I had to pack then. 

* We had our family meal/gift exchange the Saturday before Christmas since some folks would be out of town on the 25th.

21. How many one-night stands?

I still hate this question

22. What was your favorite TV program?


23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

Time Warner Cable (corporations are people, right?)

24. What was the best book you read?
This is always a tough one for me because how can I pick the best out of dozens of books?  Among my favorites were the memoir from the deaf man, and the lady who helped blind people around the world

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Zach singing

26. What did you want and get?

a rug for the living room

27. What was your favorite film of this year?
I don't think I watched a movie this year

28. What did you do on your birthday?

watched Zach some; went out with Michael and Andrew that evening

29. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014?

practical, comfortable

30. What kept you sane?
several short trips just to get away and enjoy nature; walking, walking, walking

31. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Peppa Pig (especially when Zach introduced himself as Peppa to someone at the park)

32. What political issue stirred you the most?


33. Who did you miss?  

Pop, Mema

34. Who was the best new person you met?


35. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014.

remind your fears how big your God is (although, truthfully, I still don't think I've learned this lesson; still, it's a good thought)

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

December Books

A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel -- The subtitle is 'Growing Up Small in Mooreland, Indiana' and it was a cute book. Liz recommended it as one of her favorites awhile back. I think she enjoyed it more since she lived in Indiana for part of her married life.  My library had it in the Biography section so I read it. She's a pretty good story-teller. 

Last Lessons of Summer by Margaret Maron -- in this book a lady from New York City comes to a small town outside of Raleigh, NC, to close out her grandparents' estate. In the process, she has to solve the mysteries of her grandmother's and mother's deaths.

Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr -- the tale of a fifteen year old pastor's daughter, and the troublesome summer when her mom was in rehab, and her world seemed to fall apart.

From Beirut to Jersusalem by Thomas L. Friedman -- I found this one at a book exchange and just took my time reading a little bit nearly every day.  I began it on October 25 (my wedding anniversary), and finished the nearly 600 pages yesterday on the cool date of 12-13-14.  Lots of interesting stuff in here, but I felt like I needed an up-to-date tale from the author. As it ends, "Rabin himself is not talking regularly about 'separation' from the Palestinians," Arafat is still alive, and Hafez Assad still rules Syria.  So much has happened since then! I do wonder what the author would say in regards to his predictions of the future in that part of the world.  I enjoyed reading about his life in Beirut and Jerusalem; great reports from those places!

Hallie's Heart by Shelly Beach -- an aunt and niece share a few days together as they come to grips with a bad accident in their pasts.  Both learn the importance of forgiveness.

You Had Me at Good-bye by Tracey Bateman -- a book my mom finished while I was at her house so I decided to read it. Rather cute book, cute characters. Predictable, yes, but an easy read about a young editor in New York City.

Her Amish Man by Erin Bates -- I got this book while at the library recently. My sole quest was for easy reads, and this one was. But it was a rather silly book. Still, it fit the bill of being an easy book to read during this holiday season.  Lawyer Leah hides out with the Amish after being accused of murder. Exciting, right? 

The Tyrant's Daughter by JC Carleson -- can you imagine leaving your war-torn home country where your family was the "royal family" only to find out in your new country that your father was a dictator who approved many crimes against your countrymen?  That's the gist of this book. Quite an interesting tale.  Bridget recommended this one.

Little Bee by Chris Cleave - a friend recommended this one to me; a Nigerian girl makes her way to England where she is an illegal refugee. She meets up with a couple she met years before in her home country.  This book makes you feel more for those leaving troublesome pasts. 

A Likely Story: One Summer with Lillian Hellman by Rosemary Mahoney  -- A few years ago, I read one of her books about living in China, so I must have put her biography on my list for that reason. This book takes place when Rosemary was 17. She wanted to work one summer for a favorite author, and wrote asking if she could.  Ms. Hellman agreed, and it was quite an eye-opening experience for Rosemary.  I just looked up Lillian Hellman as she's not a famous person that I'm familiar with.  Anyway...if this sort of thing interests you, great.  Sometimes famous people aren't what they seem from their stories or movies.  Sometimes this is a blessing, and other times it is a great disappointment.

Summer of the Gypsy Moths by Sara Pennypacker -- this year I've been jotting down books that people recommend on their blogs especially if my library has them. This is one book Crystal wrote about in September.  I found it in the Junior Fiction at my library so it's not really in my age group, but it's a cute story of two young girls who are trying to survive one summer in Cape Cod when their caregiver suddenly dies.  Neither wants to go into foster care so they bury Louise in the garden and live as if Louise is inside with a broken leg or out with her boyfriend. 

Dreamers of the Day by Mary Doria Russell -- I think Niki recommended this book, and I finally found it at a local library. It's the story of Agnes Shanklin, a school teacher in Ohio, who inherits some money, and eventually goes on a trip to Egypt, Jerusalem, and Gaza around the time of Lawrence of Arabia and Winston Churchill.  In fact, she speaks with both of these men at some length while traveling. 

Four Mile by Watt Key -- another YA recommended by Crystal.  I read this in one sitting.  Foster and his mother are preparing to sell the family farm when a stranger happens by.  For some reason Foster instantly likes Gary, and this book is about their times within about a month when Gary is helping to get the place ready to sell.

Which Way to the Wild West? by Steve Sheinkin -- my friend Jennifer's twelve year old son really enjoyed this book. I think she read it as well, and she recommended it to me. It was written by a former textbook author who saved all these cool stories - that the editors didn't have room for in a history book full of dates and charts - for a book of his own. Quite interesting and a quick read for my last book of 2014.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

After-Christmas Trip to the Beach and Southport

A few days before Christmas, it was gray and rainy. I am grateful for rain because I know it's needed, but I admit sunshine cheers me more.  Christmas day was lovely, and we saw the forecast was going to be nice at the beach for the weekend. So Christmas night - around 9:30 - we got back from my sister's house, and I made online reservations for a small motel on the Cape Fear River at Southport.  We had stayed there back in April, and enjoyed the location very much.

So we headed out Friday morning and arrived in Wrightsville Beach (pictured above).  I walked there while Andrew got in a nice bike ride.  Later we headed to Southport where we stayed much of the next day and a half (two nights).

Saturday we drove over to Caswell Beach which is where we sat for awhile and I decided to put my feet in the water.  'Twas cold!

Both nights we watched the sunset over the Cape Fear River in Southport (below).  Several other people gathered to enjoy it as well.

At night we would dress warmly, and walk around the streets to see the houses lit up for Christmas.  I didn't take very many photos of them, but they looked festive!

Today we stayed around Southport for morning walks and Andrew took a bike ride.  I talked to some people on the pier and around the swings each day. Met folks from New York, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Raleigh, and "here." 

We went to Wrightsville Beach for another walk before we headed home. The temperature was in the low seventies, and we sat along the marina watching the boats on the intracoastal waterway. We were just getting ready to leave for home when Andrew saw this boat about to tip over.  It did. So we stayed to watch the rescue. The men were fine, but their handmade boat took on some water and when we left, they were trying to remedy that. 

What a great after-Christmas trip!

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Arab Spring

I had an interesting talk with a friend yesterday.  He and his cousin are both Syrians living in Germany, and while visiting together last weekend, they got to talking about how well they were treated by the Germans.

S said he ponders how non-Muslims treat them better than Muslims. How that saying about going to the West to see true Islam, but not as many Muslims was maybe true.

I countered, "Ah, but you know Muslims in Muslim countries aren't that way! Dictators rule so that is why people are mistreated!"

What he said surprised me. Otherwise I'd not have jotted it down for this post.

Here's the gist of it:

Before the Arab Spring I would have said the same thing: Arabs are oppressed by their dictators.  But now, no.  Arabs are at fault!  A sizable majority like their dictators, and the ones who don't - the ones who want freedom from dictators - are not willing to put aside their differences to make something better.  

They go back to "primitiveness" and tribalism takes over.  No common goals, but each person for himself at the expense of the whole country.  

If we really wanted freedom, we would be different.

I don't have time to go into any more right now, but that made me curious what the Arab Spring has taught others.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Anxiety Help

Someone shared these on Facebook from a book she was reading.  I liked them, and wanted to keep them somewhere easy to find.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

November Books

Wow, five fiction books this month. I remember a few years ago when I read hardly any fiction the entire year. I used to almost only read fiction.  I'm more than halfway through two other books (a memoir, and a non-fiction), but I only list here books I finished within the month.  Hard to believe that tomorrow is December 1.
The Passions of Chelsea Kane by Barbara Delinsky -- a book I found at a book exchange; a lady goes to a small New England town in search of the story around her adoption nearly four decades prior. Somewhat interesting story (I like the part about patriarchal small towns...just because I find small communities of interest), but I could have done without some of the details in other areas of this book.

House Rules by Jodi Picoult -- I enjoyed this book about a teenager with Asperger's syndrome!  I have a few friends with children on the spectrum so this was a really interesting read to me.  As the book jacket states, this book "looks at what it means to be different in our society, how autism affects a family, and how our legal system works well for people who communicate a certain way - and fails those who don't." 

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead -- earlier this year I got a small notebook which I've used for keeping up with books recommended by blogger friends. Crystal mentioned this particular one back in September, and I finally went by the library and got it.  It was short enough to read in a couple of hours, and I enjoyed the break reading this YA book brought.  Can't say I followed the time travel talk, but I liked other aspects of it.

Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata -- This story is told through the eyes of a Japanese-American girl, Katie, as she moved from Iowa to Georgia around 1960.  I found it on the Newberry shelf while searching for the book above.  An easy read, and pretty interesting to hear about life through her eyes. Since I have lived in the South all my life, I try to think of how I would treat people who are different than I.  Would I welcome a Japanese family into my life? Would I say hello on the street or would I ignore them?  I'd like to think I would be friendly and welcoming back then, and it challenges me to be that way today to people who may be less welcomed by society.

Jane Austen in Scarsdale or Love, Death, and the SATs by Paula Marantz Cohen -- an easy read I found in the library. I learned quite a bit about the job of a guidance counselor and how they help students preparing for college. The main character is a guidance counselor in a rich public school. This book is also about her meeting up with her long, lost boyfriend...that sort of thing.