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

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

June Books

A Chinaman's Chance: One Family's Journey and the Chinese American Dream by Eric Liu -- this was a pretty good book about a Chinese American. Some parts were much more interesting to me than others, but that's normal for most books, I suppose. I liked reading about his family, and how several of his father's siblings went back to China after being educated and living several years in the United States.  The chapter on "Father Tongue" was good as were other parts.  This was in the new books section at the library.

The Witch Doctor's Wife by Tamar Myers --  The author was born in the Belgian Congo, so when I saw this book at a local library, I thought it would be full of tidbits about her life there. And, I suppose, in a sense it was. But...I thought some of it was confusing, and the author's bitterness towards her parents for sending her to boarding school shone through. Maybe I was reading too much into it since I have a family member who has had issues with this fact in his own life.  I like the tidbits written at the beginning of each chapter. They were facts about tribes and animals in that region of the world. I'm sure I could find most of that information on Wikipedia, but I was more likely to read it in a book this way.

The Headhunter's Daughter by Tamar Myers  -- A sequel to the book above. I checked out these books at the same time; otherwise, I'm not sure I would have bothered finding this one. Of the two, the first was better.  I did like the author interview at the end of this one to learn a bit more about the author's growing up years.

A Year Down Under by Richard Peck -- a junior fiction book I found while looking for another book on the Newberry Shelf at the library.  A fifteen-year-old girl from Chicago goes to a "hick town" to live with her grandmother for a year during a depression.  She recounts stories from school and from living with this interesting relative.

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare -- I saw this book mentioned by someone on Facebook and then a week later I read a blogger's book review and noticed she mentioned it as well. So I decided to read it for myself despite it being for junior readers.  It was pretty cute reading about Kit's life in the Puritan Northeast after having been born and raised in Barbados.  Quite an adjustment.

Head Over Heels in France: Falling In Love in the Lot by Samantha Brick  -- I am not familiar with this lady, but apparently she was/is in British TV.  I just saw this book in the biographies and I'm a sucker for reading about life in France (I guess!).  For her, it was meeting a guy in the Lot, and agreeing to move in with him and later marry him.  It wasn't the most interesting book I've ever read (by far), but it did make me want to visit the Lot!  And it was pretty interesting reading her English impression of those in that part of France!

The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure -- "My adventure in the lost world of Little House on the Prairie" -- the author is an avid Laura Ingalls Wilder fan - of the books, really - and decides to try a few of the old-timey chores (like churning butter) and visits most all the places mentioned in the books where Laura and her family lived.

Charis: God's Scandalous Grace for Us by Preston Sprinkle  -- I think I heard about this on Facebook because somehow it ended up on my Amazon Wishlist and I got it for my birthday; I really liked the chapter called Tattoo referring to the Bible verse about our being engraved on God's hand 

Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I Learned from Judy Blume edited by Jennifer O'Connell -- a collection of a couple dozen essays of women authors who learned life lessons from Judy Blume books; I saw this at my local library and decided to read the variety of topics

Catch the Jew! by Tuvia Tenenbom -- I wrote about this book here

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart -- I still read a few blogs, and four of the ladies post book reviews from time-to-time. I have a small notebook near my computer where I jot down titles of certain ones that seem appealing. This book was in Liz's top 5 one year so I looked for it in the YA section of my local library the other day and finished it up at the beach.  Interesting book about a girl who goes to school with a bunch of rich kids. She wants to be included in the secret society that is for guys only - and she wants to stop being "bunny rabbit" to everyone.  I like her ingenuity.  I don't like her group of friends very much. They are only her friend, really, when she's with the right guy.  I prefer her geekier friends, I guess.  They seem more loyal. 

Motherless by Erin Healy -- This book was unsettling to me. I guess a story about a man on his deathbed narrating a story about how he lost his wife after her battle with a bipolar disorder was too much for me. But not enough that I didn't keep reading.  I read most of this at the beach and on the way home. And I finished it about 11:30 last night (June 22) because I couldn't sleep due to drinking tea after 3 PM. 

Until Tomorrow by Robin Jones Gunn -- I saw this while in the YA section the other day, and thought I'd give it a try.  Traveling through parts of Europe interested me, but otherwise the storyline was so silly and high schoolish for me.  I only finished it because I was hopeful of more interesting talk of the sights and experiences in Europe - that, and because it was a fairly fast read for me. And I am in need of more library books...

Home Town Tales by Philip Gulley -- a wonderful, easy read full of "recollections of kindness, peace, and joy"  ; he's a good storyteller, and I appreciated many of the lessons here.  Like choosing to focus on your blessings in life instead of all the things that are hard.  And looking for kindness in people - because often kind acts are there.

Under the Sky: From Starvation in North Korea to Salvation in America by Joseph Kim -- the story of a young man who grew up in North Korea. I've read a few books similar to this, and each time it floors me how many people who live under the same sky have such utterly miserable lives.  I know we all suffer in various ways, but watching your children cry from hunger has to be among the worst ways to suffer.  These types of books always challenge to me to look around and include the one eating lunch alone at school, and feed the beggar coming to my door. Or they make me want to do those things....if given another chance.

I posted earlier not thinking I'd finish another book before July came, but I had more reading time today, and finished another book just now (10:19 PM). So I had to add it to June books.

Take the Cannoli by Sarah Vowell -- a collection of stories about Sarah's life; she's a pretty interesting writer. I liked the chapter about her journey on the Trail of Tears. Other chapters were good, too.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

June: Kids' Stuff

Fewer than six months until Christmas!  I can't believe how fast 2015 is going.  June started off a little cool and damp. I remember one day when the high was in the mid-sixties.  Once we hit our first 90° day, however, it kept on and on and on.   We had 90+ temperatures for 14 days straight until today when the cloud cover and threat of rain has kept it cooler, but muggy.

(Oh, now it's raining - good. We need rain.  -- 4:58 PM EST)

Here are a few activities this month with Zach and Sophie.  I did see Michael some, but he's at that age (13) where you just don't take as many photos.  (Sorry, Mike! I took lots of pics when you were younger!)

During the cooler days of June (6/3), Zach and I enjoyed doing some chalk art.  He likes to wear his snow boots sometimes and has them on here. In fact, when he goes with my dad to check on the garden, he often wears them as his work boots.

One day we went to the mall in Greensboro where Zach enjoyed playing and eating ice cream.

 Several times we went to the Children's Museum. He wanted to wear the scrubs before checking the horse's eyes and ears.  I was surprised because usually he doesn't want to wear the dress-up clothes there.

We had the April and May family birthday party at our house (on June 6).  Everyone seemed to enjoy it - especially the kids.

Sophie thoroughly enjoyed her plate of banana circles.  (6/15)

Zach and I enjoyed the sprayground!  The first time we went was with my mom in late May. Later Stephanie and Michael went with us.  And the third time, it was just me and Zach. 

This was our first time going - May 29

This was our trip together on June 18.  We both got thoroughly wet that hot day!

Zach got Lego swim trunks since his first visit

I love how Sophie looks for her big brother.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Catch the Jew!

Normally I would just include this on my monthly books post, but this was long enough that I figured I'd do a separate post.

Catch the Jew! by Tuvia Tenenbom --  a Facebook friend - an older American guy living in Tunisia at the time of this recommendation - posted about this book a few months ago, and I put it on my Amazon wishlist.  Ed mentioned the author traveling to various parts of Israel/Palestine, meeting all sorts of people, and reporting on his findings.  Sounds like something I would really enjoy!  And I did in many ways although the book was also unsettling.

Tuvia was born into a very religious Israeli family. (Just looked it up "I was born and raised in Israel to an ultra-Orthodox, anti-Zionist family, and grew up in the most elitist neighborhood of ultra-Orthodoxy at the time.  My father was a rabbi...My grandfather refused to come to Israel because he did not want to live with Zionists, and the Nazis rewarded him and most of his family with on-the-spot burials." pg. 1).

I get the impression he rejected most of that religious stuff although he's Jewish and a supporter of Israel.  Still, he left Israel to pursue things forbidden to him during his childhood, i.e., science and the arts.  He founded the Jewish Theater of New York.

I like that he is fluent enough in Hebrew, Arabic, German, and English that he could hear and read what others were saying/writing, and, he didn't have to rely only on what people fed him.  (I remember one instance where he knew what the imam was saying to his people whereas the German or French NGOs didn't.  That was a bit disturbing.) He often convincingly pretended to be a German journalist - he'd call himself Tobi the German -, and, therefore, gain access to areas of Palestine or Israel that were off limits to Jews, and vice versa.  For the most part, the Palestinians loved Tobi the German.  It was unsettling to me how often they would mention Hitler's treatment of Jews in a positive light.  I like that Tuvia reported on Palestinian areas - places I have never really heard about. Of course, I'm going on his own reporting - and maybe he lied - but if he didn't, there is a whole nother viewpoint of them.

Truthfully Tuvia admired the Palestinians he met - they had great food, and were warm, friendly, accepting (of Tobi the German at least), supported their own unlike "self-hating" Jews or even an "ex-Jew" in one case.  I was amazed at how many European especially German groups were working to help Palestinians - and in Tuvia's mind show the world how awful Israel is.  I actually feel quite mixed up after reading this!

This book has 467 pages so there were lots of interesting tidbits. I only noted a handful so it wouldn't be too much.

-- Walking through Tel Aviv, the author notes: "It is interesting for me to see, as I walk, that the leftists of this land are also its richest.  How does this work, and why, is a puzzle to me." (pg. 97)

-- Jewish stone throwers (pg. 103); that is they were throwing stones at their own Egged bus  (I often think only of Palestinian youth as throwing stones so this stood out to me!)

-- On his meeting with Gideon Levy:  "For many years Gideon has championed the Palestinian cause, but not one Palestinian has befriended him, or he one of them.  Obviously, despite what his articles may suggest, he really doesn't care about Palestinians, only about the Jews.  He's an Israeli patriot, as he says to me. He wants his Israel, his Jews, to be super-humans and reply to a bullet with a kiss.  In short: he wants all the Jews to be Jesus and die on the cross.

There can be only one reason why he would want them to be a Jesus: Inside of this man's heart, in its darkest corners, this Gideon is the biggest kind of Jewish racist that has ever existed. Jews must behave like super-humans because they are.  And as long as they do not behave as a master Jesus race, he hates them.  He is the strangest self-hating Jew you can find."  (pg. 122-123)

-- "The stupendous love for the Palestinians from so many nations that I keep seeing in this region is quite interesting. Some years ago I was in a Palestinian refugee camp called al-Wahdat in Jordan, where people live worse than the average cockroach.  No foreign government was helping them in any way, no NGOs around, and the Jordanian government was doing its best to make the life of these people a bit less intolerable.  It doesn't take a genius to know why the world 'loves' only certain Palestinians. I don't want to think about it."  (pg. 275)  

I kind of do want to think about it, though.

Also, an article by Tablet Magazine about his findings.

Monday, June 1, 2015

20 Questions

My friend, Niki, did this so I copied her.  I probably have another like this somewhere in my archives, but I am not sure where.  :)

Happy first day of June!  I'm thankful for the inch and a half of rain that we received this afternoon. While I love sunshine and clear days more, I am thankful for rain to keep the grass green and growing. Plus, it's good to have water to drink!


1) What is one of your favorite ways to spend a Saturday?
hiking in the mountains or walking on the beach

2) List your top three favorite TV shows.
The Amazing Race

3) Would you rather be in pictures or take them?
take them

4) Why do you blog?
I don't do it as much any more, but a few years ago I liked meeting people through blogs, and the last couple of years, I've just mostly noted what books I read each month, and this year I'm trying to highlight some life events.

5) Share five websites that you visit regularly.
1. Facebook
2.  article links I click from Facebook which vary
3.  PRI and NPR stories that I listen to while doing stuff around the house
4.  blogs - Bridget and Nancy in particular since they post more than others
5.  weather.com when I'm hunting for somewhere to go

6) If you could have lunch with one person from your Twitter list who would it be?
I haven't been on Twitter in so long, I can't recall who is on my list.

7) List a few of your favorite snacks.
chocolate chips, popcorn, ice cream, potato chips -- but I don't usually eat all that stuff. I just LIKE them!

8 ) Do you have a pet? If so, what kind?

9) Which three material possessions would you struggle to live without?
computer, books, car

10) What’s your favorite drink?

11) Do you enjoy cooking?
not too much

12) Do you have children?

13) What are your favorite hobbies?
talking to people who are not like me

14) Would you consider yourself to be shy or outgoing?
shy unless I'm in an outgoing mood

15) If you could change one thing about yourself, what would you change?
take off some fat and wrinkles

16) Who is your favorite actor/actress?
I love most of those on NCIS and NCIS: LA

17) What’s the coolest thing you’ve done this week?
sat on the porch while it rained (the week is young!)

18) Do you live near your family or far from them?
near my immediate family

19) List three of your talents.
I don't have any - I used to sing, but rarely do any more

20) What is your greatest attribute?