Sunday, December 30, 2012

My 2013 Book List

Somehow, amazingly, last year I was able to read all the books I put on my list for the year! No one joined me in reading any of them. Some of them I loved, some of them I struggled through, some of them I returned to the library without finishing because they really didn't capture my attention. Some of them moved me to seek out more from an author I had discovered.
I went to a Christmas party last weekend and saw my old friend, Jen, who I used to go to book club with. She isn't going anymore either. And she misses book discussions. She suggested that we try to read some books together this year. I'm up for that!
I just got a Kindle Fire for Christmas from my husband! Totally unexpected, that, and totally awesome. I already have about 15 books on there that I want to read, but I decided I would put together another book list like the one that kept me going for 2012. And maybe I will get Jen in on the act this time, because I do love sharing a good book with someone!

~ January ~
Rabbit, Run by John Updike

I read Updike's Brazil about 4 or 5 years ago and was enthralled. Then I learned that it is one of his least popular novels. No one reads Brazil, evidently. With Updike it's all about the Rabbit series. So I've looked and looked for Rabbit, Run at the library and never find a copy - or at least never one available. So when I got my kindle it was one of the first books I sought out. But I didn't want to spend my $25 gift card just yet. And then my brother sent me a list of the books he has on his kindle already. The entire Rabbit series was there at my fingertips for free. Yay! I know that this one is going to be pretty explicit. Probably not the one I'll be asking Jen to join me on. Honestly, I will probably read the whole series now that I have them, but the goal for January is just the first one.

~ February ~
Godric by Frederick Buechner

I don't know why I've never heard of this guy before. Christian pastor and novelist? Several popular devotion books as well as a great number of novels, books of sermons etc.? I read a quote by him on twitter that moved me deeply. "Laugh till you weep. Weep till there's nothing left but to laugh at your weeping. In the end it's all one." This describes me to a T. And maybe it describes all of us. Anyway, I downloaded a sample of his devotion book "Listening to Your Life" and I think I'm going to buy it. But I thought one of his novels might be just the thing to read with Jennifer. This one, Godric, is about a real 17th century saint.

~ March ~
Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut

I've never read anything by Vonnegut. And for some reason - and I honestly don't know why, since I have no idea what to expect from his writing - I have a serious aversion to him and even a contempt for people who rave about him. Now why is that? When I get to feeling that way, I think I need to see what it is all about. Sometimes I find out my instinct was right, but once in a while, I am in for something entirely unexpected. Vonnegut seems to be every guy's fave author. Indeed, he is often the ONLY author a guy has ever read. Maybe that is the aversion. Will it be utterly masculine and chauvinistic? Will it just be gruesome and appalling (after all, what is that title about?)? I aim to find out. Broadening the horizons. Anyone feel led to stop me?

~ April ~
People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

It's sort of an obvious choice for a Middle East buff like myself. In fact, several people have asked me if I've read it or suggested that I read it. It really sounds fantastic. But I am hesitant because I thought the same thing about Once On a Moonless Night by Dai Sijie, and I couldn't get into that book at all. (I didn't give it a very good chance. I quit very early. I loved his other book, Balzak and the Little Chinese Seamstress) It was a book with a similar sounding premise - but Asian rather than Middle Eastern. And lets face it, a book's interest lies less in the subject than in the ability of the writer to capture one's attention. Whatever, I'm looking forward to it.

~ May ~
Wouldn't Take Nothing For My Journey Now by Maya Angelou

This woman. THIS. WOMAN. There is not enough that can be said about her. I love Maya Angelou. I just saw as I did the image search that this is available in audiobook with Dr. Angelou herself reading it. Now THAT would be the way to experience this book. I may look for that when May rolls around. Or I may need to savor the written words on the page. I can't wait for this one.

~ June ~
Despair by Vladimir Nabakov

I have a love/hate relationship with Russian literature. I don't ever know what to expect or how to feel when its all over! Anna Karenina made me want to throw myself in front of a train! No, it made me want to throw Tolstoy in front of a train. But Crime and Punishment was one of my favorite books as a teenager. I read it three times! Imagine! I guess its unfair to glom all Russian writers into one genre - really? Can you imagine doing that with American literature? Just because they all hail from the same CONTINENT, doesn't mean they will necessarily be anything alike. I actually enjoyed Lolita, the only thing by Nabakov I've ever read. I hated the old movie, of course, but reading it was entertaining.

~ July ~
The Art of War by Sun Tzu

I may be crazy for thinking this book might have something to offer me. I have known many people to be very inspired in the way they live their life by this book. I have been told by people all my life that I am a door mat, too easy going, way too patient. I know I have put up with a lot. I like to think I just choose my battles carefully. But it has been recently suggested that I avoid conflict at all costs. And I'm starting to see it. A really good book I read this year on this topic was The One Life Solution by Henry Cloud. But I think one can gain insight from more than one source. So, Sun Tzu will now have his chance.

~ August ~
Diary by Chuck Palahniuk

He's hip, he's cool. He's Chuck Palahniuk. He wrote Fight Club. What more do I know about him? Nothing. But I want to read what he writes. I bet Fight Club was a million times better than the movie. But now that I saw the movie I don't really care to read it. Because unfortunately, I will be picturing Brad Pitt (gag me with a spoon) as Tyler Durden through the whole thing and it will ruin it for me. So I will begin my sojourn into Palahniuk's world with Diary instead. I am anticipating a new fave author.

~ September ~
Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving

Just in case Palahniuk doesn't end up being a new favorite author, and in case I need to wash that taste out of my mouth with something I KNOW I will love - my real favorite author, John Irving, always has more books out there for me to read, and never fails to expand my heart in many ways. 

~ October ~
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

Then it seems only right, since I was introduced to John Irving by my darling BFF, Kristi, to enjoy a book by her current favortie author, David Sedaris. I haven't a clue which one to start with, so I will start with the one I've heard of. Also, it sounds like the most autobiographical one in his repertoire, and I usually enjoy that (Except in the case of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers, which I frickin hated.)

~ November ~
Lotus Buds by Amy Charmichael

I think by this point I will be in dire need once again of some uplifting reading to add to my spiritual vacuity. Amy Carmichael's story is so stunning and beautiful to me. This book, which is offered for free through Kindle and Gutenberg Project, is written expressly for lovers of children. That ought to warm my heart up in the chilly fall.

~ December ~
The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

I think what this list is quite obviously lacking is corsets and petticoats. Perfect for December. Besides, this is one of Fannie Flagg's top 5 books! How could I neglect to read it?

Well, that does it. I have my reading cut out for me. I'm really looking forward to it! What will YOU be reading in 2013?

Thursday, March 01, 2012

More Bento Boxes

I forgot to take a picture of one creation last week. It was a cloud shaped sandwich, an umbrella shaped apple quarter and a bunch of yogurt raisin rain drops. But here are the other two:

Monday, February 20, 2012

President's Day lunch

Not that this lunch has anything to do with Presidents, but since there was no school today, it was the perfect opp for me to make the kids this lion lunch. Grilled cheese and Doritos wouldn't have lasted in a lunch box, but were awesome fun at home!

Bento catch-up

I forgot to post all the other bento boxes I made two weeks ago! Here they are in all their loveliness.... Panda lunch Brown bear lunch Dragon lunch Up Up and Away lunch

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Ardara does it again...

Another of my daughter's poems was published this week in her school's newsletter. I'm so proud. This one is AMAZING!

The Snatcher Fox

A red flash zips through trees of
green and yellow.
It's chomping its teeth at a little
white ball.
The light flutters through the trees,
Turning on and off, on and off
Heart beating faster and faster,
It is getting cold.
Rustling like plastic bags
The pounding like elephants in a
And the snapping of bony teeth
Everything is black.

(C) 2012 Ardara Chinnock 

Monday, February 13, 2012

My daughter wrote me a poem!

by Ardara Chinnock, age 10

When I first smiled, she smiled too.
When I first laughed, I laughed with her.
When I first cried, she was by my side.
When I first frowned, she cheered me up.
Now I am old and so is she.
So, when she smiles I'll smile back and
When she laughs I'll laugh back too.
But the best thing of all is...
That she loves me and I love her.

Sunday, February 05, 2012


As promised, here are the pictures of tomorrow's lunches.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Bento Boxes

So, one place that my mind has been lately is bento boxes. I know, why would I be obsessing over decorative, time consuming lunches for my kids when I am already super busy, working full time, getting in car accidents and shopping wrecklessly? Who do I think I am? Truth is, I miss doing fun stuff with my kids. I visited my friend, Tara, today and saw those precious kids doing their school work and playing together and mom right there in the middle of it and gosh! I don't know if I ever appreciated what I had when I had it! I miss my kids so much, even when they are with me! I guess the cute little bento boxes I see on pinterest just made me think I could share a special moment with my kids during the day somehow. So at my grocery fiasco described in my last post, I bought a bunch of foods that will go into making bento lunches for my kids this week. I will post pictures if it works. Here are the plans:

Where is my mind?

This octopus may have sucked it out and digested it, I guess.
I have been going around in my own little bubble lately. I don't know what is wrong with me. I'm a terrible driver! People, look out! I have almost caused several serious accidents in the past few days. I'm not texting. I'm not listening to the radio. I'm just lost in thought and pulling stupid, dangerous moves without thinking. I just went grocery shopping and took my $150 grocery cart to the express lane and started unloading. The checker was not pleased. I was embarrassed. Then I realized I hadn't put back the two items I meant to put back, so I had to give those to him to send back. Oh, it gets worse. Then, I go to pay and realize that when I got gas I hadn't put my debit card back in my wallet. Its sitting on the front seat of my car! I go ahead and write a check and I write it out WRONG! By this point, I'm sweating bullets and I feel like throwing up. I finally finished making a fool of myself and went out to the parking lot, start loading my bags in the trunk and realize that I didn't even check to see if I got everything before I raced out of the store. I am NOT going back in to see if I left something. I picked up my purse and discovered a clove of garlic under it that wasn't paid for. I'm sorry, Lord, but I couldn't go back in and pay for the garlic. I threw it in my purse and drove home on the verge of tears - not letting myself cry though, because then I would surely get in a wreck. Its been like this all week. I don't know what is going on. Should I go to the doctor? Or WHAT!!!?

Monday, January 02, 2012

A book list of my own

So, last year my beloved book club went in a 
direction that I just wasn't interested in going. 
They chose all spiritual/self help/devotion type
books. Honestly, my walk with the Lord was so 
deep and personal and vital all through last year 
that I could not imagine picking up a book and 
having someone tell me how to do it better. I 
wanted to read novels. I wanted literary masterpieces.
 And so I didn't read any of the books they 
selected and I only went to one meeting, because 
I had already read that book in the past. It just 
wasn't my year for book club. But unfortunately, 
there were several months where I also didn't read 
anything. It may have been partly due to what was 
going on in my personal life. Trying desperately to 
take care of my children through a crisis just didn't 
lend itself to lots of curl up on the couch time. 
But the past couple of months I've gotten back into 
reading mode. And so, because it is a new year and 
I love making lists and planning out how perfect my 
life is finally going to be in the coming year, I 
sat down and made my very own reading list. One  book 
for each month (but of course, I'm allowed to read 
MORE than that, and probably will, because I am only 
half-way through the Harry Potter series and also 
only halfway through the Bloody Jack series). So 
without further ado....
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
I've wanted to read this one for a long time - 
ever since I read Everything Is Illuminated two 
years ago and realized what an amazing writer Foer is. 
(BTW, no one else in my book club liked Illuminated - 
I don't think anyone else even finished it. Too much 
sex. >:-P) And now that there is a movie, I want 
to read it before I see the movie. And I want to see 
the movie before Oscars in February. So this one has 
to be first.
The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson
I have already seen these movies (The Swedish versions) 
and loved them. Plus some of my most trusted reader 
friends highly recommended them. I think I will like 
them the way I liked Robert Ludlum's Bourne series. 
Enough to finish all three in one month. Plus, I will
need some distraction during the dreaded Valentine's 
How Should We Then Live? by Dr. Francis Schaeffer
A friend recommended this to me several years ago 
when we were discussing moral relativity and nihilism. 
I have been meaning to read it but never have. And its 
not like I NEVER want to read anything spiritual. I 
just don't want to read ONLY spiritual books. This one 
sounds good.
Where Men Win Glory by Jon Krakauer
Krakauer has become one of my favorite writers. 
Investigative reporting was never really interesting 
to me until I read Under the Banner of Heaven and 
Into the Wild. I don't know anything about Pat Tillman, 
but by the time I read this book I know I will.
Swamplandia by Karen Russell
Read really great reviews for this one and it 
looks like it will be a fun one for the start of summer.
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
I've heard its a classic.
Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates by Tom Robbins
I'm trying to read every single book this man 
has written. I haven't loved them all as much as 
the rest, but they are still entertaining.
Mrs. Dalloway by Virgina Woolf
I've only ever read short stories by Virginia 
Woolf. And by August I should be ready for some 
feminism, I think.
The Silent Woman by Janet Malcom
I'm a little bit obsessed with Sylvia and Ted. 
Here is one I haven't read yet.
A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
I'm hoping that the short story style narrative 
of this one will hold my attention. 
Bad Marie by Marcy Dermansky
I believe I saw this on a book list Knopf 
Publishers posted on twitter a while back. It must 
have sounded good, although at the moment the 
premise escapes me.
Things I Learned About My Dad by Heather Armstrong
Heather Armstrong is a former Mormon like 
myself. Her story is poignant yet common. Her 
blog is irreverent and hilarious. I have every 
expectation of laughing out loud while reading 
her book.

So that's it! Those are the books I've selected 
for myself. If you've read any of them, please 
leave a comment and let me know what you thought 
of it. No spoilers, though! I will try to write 
some reviews as the months go by.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Days Like This

Sometimes I feel like I'm moving on. I have a future and I'm stepping into it with vigour. I truly don't long for the old things anymore, but cherish my freedom and my individuality and all the things I can do now. But then there are days like today - Father's Day - or any real milestone day that reminds me of all the loss. I hate it that I take two steps back on days like today. I find myself remembering things, smiling over things. Wondering if I'm the only one thinking of them. I get a little bit lost in the blur between what I have a right or a reason to feel anymore. A decade of Father's Days have been gouged out of the lump of clay that is my life. A decade of birthdays, of holidays, of Sundays. An entire decade that revolved around two people is a blurry mess now. And I look at old photos and try to reconstruct the memories. I look into faces and try to read the thoughts behind them. I thought I knew, but now I don't know anything about that time. And its not that I want it all back. I know that if it wasn't what I thought it was, it must have been a sham on at least one level. And I don't want that back. But I just want a way to reconcile it. To tell myself it wasn't all just a waste and a lie. There were pure, real moments. There was a purpose in there. And photos like these ones are the comfort. I don't know what Dane is doing for Father's Day today. But he is with our kids, and I hope he is realizing that they are one true, good thing that came out of the dissolving years of our marriage.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

End of an Era... or Just the Beginning

Well, after 5 years of home schooling my kids, they will be going to a public charter school next year. I am way excited about the school, but so so so sad that I have to give up home schooling. I had intended to teach them at home until they were grown. How different life can be from our own plans sometimes. Of all the many losses I've had to come to terms with resulting from my husband leaving, this is one of the hardest and most unfair. Everything about the way we planned on raising our children has changed drastically in a very short time period. I struggle not to be angry about it. I have to trust that God gave me that era in their early years to prepare them for this era. This new time when they will be pushed into a little more independence, a little broader horizons, and a lot of capable hands instead of just my one pair. Tonight was the end of the year feast for my homeschooling group. It was so much fun. All the kids took turns sharing something they had learned over the past year. Some of the presentations were tear jerkers. Kenzie and Avery both sang such beautiful songs, I cried! Thomas recited the entire chapter of 1 Corinthians 13, and I cried. Ethan, Rachel, Abby and Joel recited Psalm 19 in unison and, you guessed it, I cried. Trenton read a beautiful poem (I would even go so far as to call it a psalm) that he had just written to the Lord. I cried. Nathan read a poem about trusting God through trials. Sniff sniff sniff. When Ardara stood and shared with everyone how God comforted her with his word one night when she couldn't sleep after she had been fighting with me, I definitely cried. When Jed and Tobi and Jubilee recited Ephesians 6 about the whole armor of God with Tobi pantomiming the usage of each piece of armor, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. But when Thomas and Skip did a little cowboy lip synch (with a cardboard banjo!) and Natalie did her "year in a nutshell" Dorf style - they had us all in stitches! Such adorable cuties!!! And Micah and Isaac and Annie reciting their marching poem was so much fun! I love how into it Isaac gets. He is a true literary mind. And he also said the Sanctus in Latin - with translation! SMAAAAAART! But my very favorite moment of the night was when I was quizzing the kids about the things they'd learned about Israel, and I asked "Who can tell me a REALLY IMPORTANT person who was born in Israel?" Skip didn't miss a beat with his answer "ARDARA!" That's right. Who could be more important than my own baby girl? I'm so glad Skip thinks so too. This is why I know my kids are going to amaze me next year with all the things they will learn. I can't even believe the providence of one of my very best friends on earth, Ashley, being the new teacher for Huyler and Ardara's grade! And I look forward to becoming part of that community. It seems like a fun, close-knit one. So, I am accepting that things don't have to go the way I had planned or expected in order for them to go RIGHT. Because this whole turn of events isn't a surprise to my sovereign God at all. He knew this was coming all along, and he arranged things so my kids could all get just what they needed at just the right time. Amen, Lord. Behold your handmaiden. Let it be unto me according to all that you have planned.

Monday, November 01, 2010

rooms with music : the halloween edition

rooms with music : the halloween edition

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Revised Tattoo

I went and talked to Tony at Hold Fast the other day, showed him my design, and he gave me some good feedback. He thinks there was too much detail for the size I want it. So he told me to do a little revision, and come back to make an appointment. It will be about $300 total, and he can do it in 2 or 3 sittings. So, here's the revision. I had to turn it the other way to make the flag right, since Hebrew is read right to left. I am hoping that he will use some artistic license to make it look better than my amateurish art when he puts it on me. I've seen his work. He is really good.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Getting Closer

I think I'm getting closer to where I need to be. Some things have shifted in my heart and I'm ready to move on. Am I healed? I don't know for sure. Will I ever heal? That's the real question. But do I have a right to heal? Do I have a right to feel the sun on my face and walk in the light and make music again? Is there any blame in those things? God gave me life and light and beauty and joy, and enjoying what he gave me honors him. I don't want to worship the past. I want to worship right now, the blessings and the real things. Do it with all my heart, not just a timid toe in the water. I'm putting down all the heaviness. Christ will carry the burdens, just as he promised to. I'm going to walk into joy now, not looking back.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A whim

I have been feeling lately like I need a new tattoo. I know its crazy. I have been regretting all three of my tats for years (really just regretting that they faded and stretched and didn't stay new). But I am going through a life crisis like never before and God has been so faithful to me. It just blows me away how close and present and sufficient he has been through the past several months and especially the last 3 weeks. I started thinking about getting a tattoo to commemorate what I am experiencing - sort of a stone of remembrance for times to come, when maybe I won't have the "feeling" of closeness like I do right now. He gives grace to help in time of NEED. I will need to be reminded of that in the future. ANYHOO... Here is what I drew today. I'm thinking of having an artist friend draw it for me, because I realize that my lines aren't straight and my arch isn't symmetrical and so on and so forth. But this is the concept. I wonder how much it will end up costing me?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Last night was the eve of Passover. Several years ago, after we returned from Israel, I wrote a messianic haggadah that was shorter so the kids wouldn't lose interest in the seder before it was done. So this year I pulled it out and revamped it with some new songs and invited over our believing Jewish friends for a fun Pesach. They have one son who is allergic to gluten, so since we don't live in a big city where there is a market for specialty items like gluten-free matzoh, we had to make our own. We just used gluten free bread mix and threw out the yeast packet. It came out beautiful, I must say. And tasty, although not as crispy as regular matzoh. The kids were really into it, they understood it perfectly as going hand in hand with the last supper, preceding the perfect sacrifice and resurrection of the Messiah, which we'll be celebrating later this week. This morning I got a text from my girlfriend that said "If he had only saved my soul but hadn't given me good friends, it would have been enough." I agree. Daiyenu, Lord! But thank God that he always does abundantly above all that we could ask or even think.