Monthly Archives: October 2011

“Marriage is a Poem”

I wrote down the first shell of this poem two years ago in my journal. I was in a poetry class at the time, taught by a rather brilliant man who had asked us earlier that week, “What is a poem to you? Does the poem makes the subject concrete?” He made me really think through every word, and I eventually thought this up. I still think it’s one of the best things I’ve ever written.


I wear your arms about me as a dress,
a cloak of solidarity.
The curve of my hips will be pockets for when you are cold;
the knobs of my spine are your instruments,
so that when we are too poor for comfort
we can stand on street corners and earn a meal.

You smell right to me,
like soap and clean air,
like fresh mown grass and coffee and the dirt of summer.

There is a tree on the corner,
old and knotted from exposure to the elements of many years.
When storms come,
he sways without fuss and stands because he has always stood.
Let us put our roots down deeper than mere soil,
and when the rages come we too will stand because we have always stood,
twisted and twined together as though we did not spring from separate beds
but have always been of one bark and one leaf.

There are four grey whiskers in your beard,
I counted them last night when I could not sleep.
We have not been one for long, my darling,
but we are growing older.
Sing me a beautiful melody now, and when your beard is all grey
with four brown whiskers,
I will sing it back to you
and our pitch will be perfect still.



Filed under Odds and Ends, Poetry

Books, Cats, and Crazy, Vol. 2


Hook is one of my all-time favorite movies, as is Finding Neverland, because they deepen the story of one of my favorite childhood books, Peter Pan.

A good literary memoir makes me giddy. Why Laura Miller! You love Narnia too? Of course I will buy the full-price hard-baked edition of your memoir The Magician’s Book! Even memoirs about books that were not necessarily my favorites (like Wendy McClure’s The Wilder Life about the Little House on the Prairie series), or  about books I’ve never read at all (I’ve never touched Sophie’s Choice, but I have every intention checking out Reading My Father by Alexandra Styron) make my heart all aflutter.

And I believe I have professed before that Alice in Wonderland is one of my enduring favorites, yes? I love Alice, and all things Alice. Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin is one of my favorite books I’ve read this year. Another Alice-themed book I recently picked up is ArchEnemy, the last book in Frank Beddor’s trilogy, The Looking Glass Wars. When my friend loaned me the first book in this series, I was instantly thrilled. A book that played out the presupposition that Wonderland was real? Yes, please! But it wasn’t in any of the ways you would think. Alice is really Princess Alyss Heart, and her mother is the queen of Wonderland, the White Queen. The character we know as the Red Queen was really Alyss’s evil Aunt Redd who would stop at nothing to take the throne from her sister. Here, looking Glasses are of utmost importance because they are a means of transportation, and the Mad Hatter is not a crazy man, he’s Hatter Madigan, a talented, deadly, and loyal guard to the queen. The wonders and parallels go on and on, and I was completely sucked in. It was like a literary dream come true, a chance for me to continue and expand my love of the Wonderland Universe.

What about you? I know that there have been expansions on other classics, most notably the 9,430 spin offs of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, but if you could snap your fingers and have the continuation or new take on any of your favorite classics at your fingertips, what would it be? Have you found any classic-inspired books, like Beddor’s trilogy, or literary memoirs that are truly phenomenal?


Just a little update to let you all know that Queen Cambria is fine. Crisis averted, thankfully. (Although I did have a crisis trying to get Cambria actually into the crate. Apparently she’s still mad about the day and a half she had to spend in it while we moved, because the little nerdface tried to bite me!) Her sneezes have all but stopped now, and the vet is fairly certain it was just allergies. She certainly hasn’t changed at all. She’s just as cute and entitled as ever.

"Oh. Am Ai in de ways? Where you using dis?"


There are three things loaded in the crazy chute right now. I’ll try to fire them gently.

    1. I am completely convinced that the mirrors in the Target fitting rooms are slightly concave to make one look chubbier than one looks anywhere else in the world.  Seriously, Target, I know I have a little extra to love, but I still have a figure. Only in your dressing rooms do I look like a cupcake wearing glasses.

      The fattest mirror in America. And a cute dress I tried on. Ironically, I do not look so much like a cupcake when I step back far enough to take a picture. Tricky, Target. Tricky.

    2.  I should never be allowed to feel clever more than once a day because when I do I start to feel brazen, and when I get brazen I do things like get my self lost. Or more appropriate to this situation, I do things like know exactly where I am but not know how to get to where I need to be because of all the one-way roads that do not alternate like one would assume. Anyway, all of this is to say that yesterday, while I was driving all over creation trying to find groceries and then my parking garage, I realized that I have a new fear: I’m terrified of ending up in Tijuana if I drive south by myself. I’m not good with directions. (I once left Charlotte, NC, heading towards Greenville, SC, and wound up in Columbia, SC instead…a whole two hours southeast of Greenville. I still don’t know how it happened. )

      Exhibit A: Getting lost driving to my home from a place I'd been to before.

      I’m afraid I’ll miss my exit. What would happen? Could I get back in with just my license? Would I need a passport? (Note to self: Google this.) What if my phone dies and I can’t call Tyler? I couldn’t call him from a payphone because I don’t have his number memorized. Should I write it down on a piece of paper and stick it in my walled just in case? All I know is that I envision myself being stuck in a border patrol check point being interrogated for hours because they don’t believe any housewife could be this dumb. “What do you mean you didn’t know you were in Mexico? Didn’t the fence and the big sign give you a hint? What do you mean you can’t call your husband because the only number you know is your mom’s? How old are you again?” It’s okay though, because this has any easy solution: I’m never going to drive south of downtown alone. I’ll take Tyler with me, since clearly he’s the voice of reason in this marriage. Ans this way if we do get stuck in Tijuana I won’t have to worry about knowing his number, I can just have a melt down right there and let him figure it out.

    3. I’ve still been thinking about the hipster issue, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I am not a hipster, but I am. It goes like this: if being a hipster is about being undefinable, unexpected and edgy, wouldn’t the most hipster thing you could do be to be the anti-hipster? Since I apparently resemble a hipster more than not, and intentional hippsterality isn’t actually as purely hipster as the on-purpose hipsters seem to thing it is, then I fall on the side of a non-hipster. Which means that if you’re not a hipster, you are, and if you are a hipster, you’re not, which makes you a hipster again. So no one is a hipster, but we all are, making hipsters completely irrelevant. Ta-da! My philosophy professor would be so proud. Or confused.

And so there you have it. Target says I’m a cupcake, and to make matters worse I only know my mom’s number, so if I get lost I’m in big trouble a: because my mom’s in Ohio, and b: because no one wants to help a crying hipster cupcake; my cat doesn’t sneeze anymore but she does sit on whatever I’m trying to use at the moment; and you, dear friends, if you have stuck with me this long, should not forget to tell me about your favorite classics-inspired books and literary memoirs so I can read them.


Filed under Books, Cats, Odds and Ends

Happy 50th Birthday, Phantom Tollbooth! I Did Not Make Cupcakes, but I Did Make Mini-Reviews.

Dear Phantom Tollbooth,

Happy Birthday one day late! Many happy returns to yourself, and to Mr. Juster! I remember the first time my mother handed you to me. I was probably eight or so, and she was very enthusiastic for you had been one of her favorite books when she was my age. I opened to your first page, read your first chapter, and…I didn’t get it. I was a rather abstract child, but your genius was still rather beyond my brain power at the time. It took a few years, but the next time I peaked between your pages I was instantly enthralled. From the moment Milo rode through the booth there was no looking back for me. Thank you for your silly yet very intelligent puns. Thank you for opening my eyes to seeing things like time and the concrete aspects of language in a whole new, more adventurous light. But mostly, thank you for taking me away to the Lands Beyond on so many afternoons when, like Milo, I was bored with school work or television or toys. I count you among the precious books that fostered my love of reading and my active imagination, and I wouldn’t have become the student or writer or woman I am today without you and your peers.

In honor of your birthday, I’m going to review some of my favorite children’s books, both from my childhood and some of my more recent discoveries, on my blog today. I would have made cupcakes, but you have no mouth. Mouth or no, you, Phantom Tollbooth, will still retain the place of honor. After all, it’s not everyday that a book has their golden birthday! I hope that on this day you understand how much you are still loved and adored, by me, by your plethora of adult fans, and by the new, young ones who discover you each day.

With Deep Gratitude,


Amanda’s Mini-Reviews: Children’s Books From Then and Now.


The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster: Milo is a disenfranchised young man who is bored with life when one day receives a mysterious package: a play-sized tollbooth. He drives his toy car through the booth and finds himself transported to the Lands Beyond, where he and his trusty friend Tock the Watchdog, have all sorts of adventures, such as conducting a sunrise and rescuing peculiar princesses. Parents will appreciate the wit, and kids will be enthralled with the fanciful characters. Some younger elementary kids might be a bit confused, as I was, but by fourth grade or so this book makes for delightful reading. Verdict: Magical (Click here for a wonderful article about Phantom tollbooth by Norton Juster himself.)

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, by Roald Dahl: I loved this book so much as a kid that I used to I hide it under my bed and read it at night by flash light. I discovered its sequel, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, a year or so after I read it’s predecessor and loved it just as much. What child could help but root for the poor kid who never got any candy? I couldn’t, and my bet is that you’re mini person won’t be able to either. Verdict: Exuberant

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis: This is The Lord of the Rings light, with enough mythology and adventure to satisfy even the nerdiest kids cravings, but with a bit more of a twinkle in its eye. Four siblings discover a magical land in the back of an old wardrobe, which has been held captive for a hundred years by an evil witch who has made it always winter and never Christmas. What’s more, the siblings discover that they are the only ones who can free the land from its torment! This book and it’s six companions exude adventure of the most addictive kind. Verdict: The Grandest of Adventures

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, by Robert O’Brien: I’ve always loved a good adventure, but what I loved most about this adventure was that it could have taken place in my own backyard. Maybe there were colonies of highly advanced critters running around my backyard too! On top of that, I came to care deeply about what happened to Mrs. Frisby, her son Timothy, and all those clever rats. This is a loveable, unique story that also brings up questions of responsibility with animals. Verdict: Loveable

From the Mixed-U Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E.L. Konigsburg: Sometimes you just want to read something fun, and this book is definitely that! Claudia and her brother Jamie feel underappreciated, so they run away from home…and to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC! They sleep in priceless historic furniture by night, and by day they peruse the exhibits, especially a statue of a mysterious angel that may or may not be a Michelangelo. With the help of an eccentric widow (Mrs. Frankweiler), they kids determine to learn the angel’s secret. Verdict: Excellent

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame: Mole is tired of his dark little hole in the ground, and so he blows off his spring cleaning to go for a walk. While walking discovers the most glorious river in the throes of Spring where he meets the River Rat, Mr. Toad, and the Badger, and together they have a host of adventures on the banks of their beloved river. This book embodies the very essence of childhood. Verdict:Beautiful

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein: I believe one of the reasons poetry is a decreasing art form in America is because we see it as a serious business, too abstract or intellectual for children, and by the time those kids have grown and could appreciate it, they’re not interested anymore. But Silverstein and a handful of others are changing that with their sometimes silly, sometimes inane, sometimes shockingly deep poetry for children. I’ve loved everything about Shel since I was five, and my bets are you will love him too. Verdict: Delightful

A few of my favorite Silverstein poems, both a funny and a serious.


Horns and Wrinkles, by Joseph Helgerson: I discovered this gem while looking up books that include regional folklore for a college class. The northern Mississippi River is, apparently, overwrought with magic, particularly trolls, both river and rock, and blue-wing fairies. Claire doesn’t particularly believe it all, but then her cousin Duke falls in the river and comes home with a horn where his nose should be, and they are plunged into the world of river magic. This is a fun and inventive story, and I’m shocked it hasn’t picked up a wider reading audience. Verdict: Too Good to Stay Undiscovered

The Last Dragon by Silvana De Mari: The world is falling apart, rainy and dark, it is slowly spitting out its inhabitants. Yorsh is a young elf who awakes one morning to find himself orphaned- the last elf on earth. But he soon discovers that he is part of a powerful prophecy and he must travel to find the last dragon, and thus save the world from total destruction. Despite it’s dire sound, this book, original published in Italian, is surprisingly funny, lighthearted, and endearing, a statement from the author about fantasy writers who take themselves too seriously. Verdict: Whimsical

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle: I read this book as a child, but I didn’t truly appreciate it until college. A cosmic trip to lands strange, wonderful and threatening, Meg Murray , her little brother, Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin must rescue Meg’s father from unknown peril with the help of Mrs. Who, Mrs. Which, and Mrs. Whatsit, three delightful interplanetary beings. The story is delightful, but it’s the message that stuck with me: you may have brains or endearing quirks, but it is your love that sets you apart. Verdict: Inspiring

Gossamer by Lois Lowry: Where do dreams come from? Littlest One and her people are dream-givers. At night they sneak into houses and collect memories which they use to give pleasant dreams, but they must be careful of the sinisteeds, dream-givers who delved too deeply and now give only nightmares. As the sinisteeds converge of the house of Littlest One’s charges, will she have the strength to hold them back? Lowry tells this story with both gentleness and strength, making Gossamer easy to read and to love. Verdict: Delightful

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke: The first of Funke’s Inkworld trilogy, this is a surprisingly dark and heavy book not to be trifled with. Mortimer is a bookbinder with a shocking ability- he can read books aloud and whatever he reads will come to life. This has shocking consequences for his daughter, Meggie, and his wife Resa, as well as all of Italy, for the characters he reads out are not pleasant folk, but rather harsh and cruel, and they will stop at nothing to dominate no matter what world they are in. Wildly imaginative, this fantasy speaks to a very real need to be cautious of what we create. Verdict: Fascinating But Dark

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo: Another college find, I discovered DiCamillo in my children’s literature class. I love all of her works, but the gentle, loving way she treated this tender tale about an incorrigible, fearless mouse, a peasant who has never truly been loved, a dungeon rat who just wants to bask in the light, and some rather hot soup makes this my favorite of all her works. Her undeniable message that everyone is worthy of love and respect has led me to love and respect this author. Verdict: Thoughtful and Loveable

A Few Of My Other Favorites:

The 21 Balloons by William Du Bois, Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, The Borrowers by Mary Norton, A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond, The Blue Umbrella by Mike Mason, Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, Dusty Mole, Private Eye Series by Barbara Davoll, The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne, The Land of Elyon Series by Patrick Carman, The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Marry Poppins by P.L Travers, Olive’s Ocean by Kevin Henkes, Otto and The Flying Twins by Charlotte Haptie, Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie, Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson, Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan, Seven Kisses in a Row by Patricia MacLachlan, Something Big Has Been Here by Jack Prelutsky…I could go on, but I’ll spare you.

These selections are Cambria Approved!

PS: I found this in the back of my copy of Sarah, Plain and Tall (which I got at a library book sale a few years back) last night when I got it out to photograph it. I laughed. Kids amuse me to no end!

On the back of a library receipt for Hannah, dated 2000. I think you're cool too, kiddo.


Filed under Book Reviews, Books, Wednesday Book Review

In Which Cambria Gives Me the Silent Treatment, and Probably Sneezes on Our Vet.

Cambria, we had a nice little nap, now I really need you to get up. I have stuff to do.

"But maaam, Ai's sleepy!"

Seriously, Cambria! Please get off my jewelry box. I need to get ready!

"But maam! Dis texture is pleasing to me."

Cat. Move. I need to get directions off my e-mail.

" But maam, dis mouse is comfy and de computer is warm. Ai stays."

 Stop stalling. This isn’t second nap time. I’m trying to put on my shoes!

"But Ai'm soooooo sleepys, mam. Just four more minutes."

Cambria, I know you’re unhappy about it, but we really do have to  go.

Fine. Den Ai will just sits in dis window and ignore yous!

I’ve been getting the silent treatment all morning. Cambria has a case of the sneezes so we are off to the vet  today, which does not make her happy. The vet means a: the cage, b: the car, and possibly c: medicine, three of her very least favorite things. We’re hoping the sneezes are  just an allergy that she’s developed in our new city and nothing worse. Cambria is a strong little kitty, and she acting normal (except for, of course, the sneezes), so we’re not too worried, but your prayers would be appreciated anyway!

Also, lets hope she doesn’t actually sneeze on anyone this time. She has had the sneezes once before, when she had a mild upper resperatory infection, and she sneezed on the vet. In his mouth. Twice. Yeah, I’d rather not repeat that episode.

"You can makes me sit in heres, but you can't makes me like it!"

1 Comment

Filed under Cambria, Cats, Odds and Ends

A Long Overdue Acceptance Speech, the Book Bloggers Hop, and a Man Holding a Baby.

I was recently nominated by two sweet people for The Versatile Blogger Award! I was so flattered when two readers nominated me, that, I have to be honest, I got a little case of stage fright. Who should I nominate? Can I even thing of seven random things about myself? I basically just write about books and cats, is that enough to make me “versatile”? But I had a solid 10 hours of sleep last night and a lot of coffee this morning, and a cookie for good measure, so now I’m feeling up to the challenge.

Here are the rules:

  1. Thank the person(s) who shared the award with you by linking back to them in your post.
  2. Pass this award to 15 recently discovered blogs and let them know that you included them in your blog post. (I don’t have 15. I hope that’s okay!)
  3. List 7 random things about yourself.
  4. Copy and paste the Award Image to your acceptance post

So thank you, Michelle and Dreamy Eyes! I am so sorry it took me this long to recognize, but I was truly appreciative that you thought of me. I am humbled.

And here are my nominees:

  1. Erin at What She Writes: Well, what can I say? I like what she writes! She knits, she reads, she asks deep questions. I enjoy every aspect of her blog.
  2. Rachel at Healthteacher’s Blog: One of my college friends, she’s smart and funny, and she is truly versatile. She blogs about everything from nutrition and fitness to literature and her escapades as a high school English teacher.
  3. Sara at Something To Blog About: My in-real-life friend who is, for lack of a better word, hilarious! I mean, she’ll write haiku to tell you about her week. Could it possibly get any better?
  4. Michelle at Books and Boston: Are you allowed to nominate your nominator? Well, I am. It’s not my fault I like her! She reads good books and asks though-provoking questions.
  5. Maria at Christian Fantasy for Women: Maria is a kindred spirit and one of the sweetest souls you’ll ever meet. I really enjoy following her writer’s journal, and reading the excerpts from her book. I think you will too.
  6. Julia at A Long way From Lyddington: She’s a librarian and illustrator from Australia, and I find her absolutely fascinating.
  7. Christina at The Literary Bunny: She writes excellent reviews. If you enjoy literature and philosophy, you will love this site.
  8. Jimmie Chew at…well…Jimmie Chew: This is totally my guilty pleasure cat blog. I really wish I could teach Cambria to walk on a leash like Jimmie does, but Tyler won’t allow it. It’s probably a better deal for smaller-city or country cats anyway.

Seven things about myself:

  1. I have adult-onset food allergies to peanuts and soy. It’s kind of a bummer, since soy is in practically everything, and peanut butter is one of my favorite foods!
  2. As much as I love cats, I didn’t own my first one until I was 21. My parents are beagle people.
  3. My all-time favorite book is Dr. Zhivago by Boris Pasternak. And, per usual, the book is so much better than the movie.
  4. Once, when I was about nine, I started my very own Baby Sitters Club, but everyone dropped out after a week because our parents said we were too young to actually babysit. (For the record, I totally would have been Claudia.)
  5. If I were ever filthy rich, I would own a zoo. Or maybe an elephant sanctuary.
  6. I wanted to become an astronaut when I was a kid, until I learned that you had to be good at math. Then I set my sights on something more obtainable: becoming the first professional woman baseball player. In case you can’t tell, I’m a realist.
  7. I’ve already started listening to Christmas music, although I think the people who have already started decorating are a little nuts.


I’m pretty excited about something else, too! The self-same Michelle from the awards above gave me the idea to do this, and I hope you’ll join in the fun  too! I’m going to participate in the Book Bloggers Hop!

When I started this blog I was not setting out to become a book blogger, but, for better or for worse, it has clearly taken that turn. This is a great opportunity to not just follow but get to know other book bloggers and scope out some new reads while you’re at it! If you’re interested in more information, you can check out the mother blog, Crazy For Books.

Joining is simple, you just have to post about the book hop on your own blog and link back to the original post, which I included above. Then just answer this weeks hop question.

The question this week was “What is your favorite type of candy?” My answer? I love nothing more than a milk chocolate Dove bar, or a Toblerone bar, depending on my mood.


And last, but certainly not least: A man (my man, to be particular)holding a baby, as promised. Because there really is nothing cuter.

Um, seriously. Men holding babies is right up there with my baby-sniffing obsession. Look at that little grin on his face. Le sigh. Josiah would have grinned to, if he actually did that yet. And...oh! Cambria! You selfish little kitty! Get out of here. This is not about you, since you are neither a man nor a baby. I'm sorry about our spoiled only child, erm, cat. I missed Caturday this week, and she's feeling a little left out.

Some of you may remember my little friend Josiah, and my overwhelming love of both his tiny toes and his natural baby smell. He is clearly growing up- he’s almost two whole months old now! And he’s cuddly-er than ever. And he’s Tyler’s new BFF, which, really, I have no complaints about.

Anyway, I’ll cut out the indulgent blather. Go read my versatile friends blogs! And go sign up for the Book Bloggers Hop! And for goodness sake, don’t let me take any more pictures of men and babies or my uterus heart might explode!(Sorry for talking about anatomy in public, mom. It may won’t happen again.)

1 Comment

Filed under Babies, Books, Cambria, Odds and Ends

Book Review: The Secret Lives of Wives, and, also, I Have a Dilemma

Marriage is always unexpected. It does not take you by surprise the same way a huge zit that inexplicably pops up on your nose halfway through prom might, but it does take you by surprise the way a movie or book might: you knew the basic plot line from the book cover or the online review, but the dips and turns in the story were not what you expected. You may know you’re getting married, and you may know that life is not always cupcakes and sunshine, but the reality of living day-in and day-out with one person? Well, no one can really prepare you for that until you get there. Sometimes being a newlywed is a little like floating in space, in zero gravity: it’s pretty cool, but a little freaky too.

I’ve been married for several-ish years now. I was a baby when I got married at twenty, and as a baby in an adult world, well, let’s just say we had an interesting first few years. But we’ve grown and learned, and I think we have a pretty solid marriage. But I am still always on the lookout for advice from older wives. They say it takes a village to raise a baby, and while I would prefer for the village to stay out of my marriage, I definitely say it certainly does take a close community, one with good, honest friends willing to share from their hearts, to help a wife grow and figure out what on earth she is doing. With that in mind, when I saw this book, The Secret Lives of Wives by Iris Krasnow, I was fascinated, and knew I had to read it.

Krasnow interviews numerous women who have all been married 15 years or longer with the hopes of finding out their answer to the question, how do you make a marriage last? How do you make it work? What are your secrets to longevity? A fairly easy read, I really enjoyed the way Krasnow infused long portions of interview into the flow of the text. I also appreciated the way the author stuck to her journalistic guns- she would offer opinion and insight where necessary, but she reported what she found without bias. She interviewed women of all different ages and stages of life, and with every back ground you can imagine: stay at home moms, career women, empty nesters, moms who didn’t start their families until later in life, moms with one kid, and moms with seven, widows, the happily marrieds, and the very much struggling. They discussed a range of topics, from being drawn together by illness to being torn apart by a child’s death, those who discovered that a new career invigorated their marriage, and those who just wish they could settle down for a dinner alone with their spouse sometimes. The main topic was how women hold their marriages together, and there were some answers that made me feel uncomfortable at best, such as one woman who credits her decade plus long affair with keeping her marriage from crumbling, and many that were inspiring, such as the woman who has become her own version of Grandma Moses, renewing her love of art and founding a successful business as a pottery teacher in her seventies.

In fact, there were three main things that I, as a young wife, really pulled from this book:

  1. It’s okay not to feel lovey-dovey all the time. It’s more than okay, it’s normal. When you lived with your parents and sibling you weren’t thrilled with them all the time, but that didn’t mean you loved them any less when it came down to it. The same is true in marriage. When you feel that anger bubble, take a moment to feel what you feel, acknowledge it, and then move on. Find a way to solve it or get over it, but don’t let it fester. As one smart wife stated, it silly to go through your marriage being mad or frustrated and expecting him to fix it.
  2. Which brings us to the point that probably hit the hardest for me: you are responsible for your own happiness. No other one person can fulfill all your needs. You’re husband can never make you 100% happy all the time, and he shouldn’t have to. Can you imagine being solely responsible for his happiness? How exhausting! For me, as a Christian, I find myself whole and fulfilled in Christ, but Tyler and I have both also come to understand the importance of having our separate things. He works in a world I can hardly begin to understand, and he has his hobbies: cigars with the boys, computer games, he loves to follow the markets, and he’s an excellent pianist and guitar player. I’m a homemaker at the moment, but I read everyday, and I write, both this blog and other things. I’d love to be published someday. I’m also an artist, and I thrill in making something come to life under my hands. We have our friends together, and our friends apart. I love spending time with my man, but we’re a healthier couple when we each have some space to breath as well.
  3. Be grateful for what you have. So you don’t have a storybook romance. Maybe you fight more than you’d like or you don’t spend enough time together or don’t have much money. But what do you have? I was really touched by one woman’s story who said that she often got angry because her husband isn’t very hands one. But then, when she really thinks about, a hands-on husband is the only thing she wants that she doesn’t have, and four out of five isn’t bad, so she’s content. Another woman echos my own dear friend Rosemary, 72 and widowed for almost a decade. She always tells me to be thankful for the husband you do have, quirks, foibles, and all, because someday he will be gone, and you’ll wish more than anything in the world you could have that crazy man back. Women have a longer life expectancy, so a lot of us will know the bitter taste of widowhood someday. If that day ever comes to my doorstep, I don’t want to have the regret of knowing that I didn’t value my man. He’s not perfect, but he’s all mine. And today, in the midst of all the stresses of a move sprinkled in among the stresses of everyday life, I am thankful. I’m grateful that he’s a man of integrity that follows through, that he’s committed to being a good provider, and he always does little things, like get my jacket for me when I’m cold, or get things off shelves that I’m too short to reach. He could never be accused of being hands-off, and we share the details of everything from what color I’m painting the bathroom to our family budget. He makes me laugh, and he makes me think, and, even though it annoys me, he’s committed to not letting me be a snotty little girl who always fusses until she gets her way, which is to say that he’s committed to help me grow up (remember: married at 20, which is practically infancy in the grand scope of things).

Overall I’d say this is a worthwhile read, if for nothing else but the camaraderie. You will probably read viewpoints you don’t agree with, but take it with a grain of salt as you would any other book, and it will definitely make you think. (I always remind myself that Hemingway and Fitzgerald thought life was meaningless, Shakespeare was one dirty man, and Sylvia Plath was crazy, but I still read them gladly, and even learn a thing or two along the way.)

Now here’s the real question: what shall I read next? These are my choices:

In the world of fiction, I have The Distant Hours by Kate Morton, The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly, Sarah

As for non-fiction, the contestants are: Half Broke Horses by Jeanette Walls, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, A Room of One

I have a lot of good choices, and no inkling of which one I want to crack open next, that’s my dilemma. So, it’s up to you, friends. Which ones should I read? I’d like to start one from the fiction pile and one from the non-fiction pile ASAP. Maybe it’s because I slept twelve hours last night, or maybe I’ve just hit a wall, but I am hopelessly discombobulated on the book-picking front tonight. So help a sister out, mmkay? What would be your choice? Have you read any of these? Opinions? Let me know, and I’ll read and review them for next week.


Filed under Book Reviews, Books, Love & Marriage

Return of the Blogger

Aaaaaaaaaand, I’m back! Good grief, has it really been a week? Please accept my sincerest apologies for my long absence; it won’t happen again. Or at least it won’t happen again until someday when Tyler takes me on a Caribbean cruise or some other such wonderfulness. The Week of Moving Madness was just that: a week of madness. This is the list of what I did over the last week:

  1. Pack up a flobbity-jillion boxes.

    The moving truck, before and after.

  2. Put said boxes into a moving truck.
  3. Follow behind my husband driving said truck in our car.
  4. Wait on the side of the road for the mechanic to come and look at the moving truck to determine why it wouldn’t move.
  5. Ask the mechanic if he could jump off my car while he was at it, since the battery was dead.
  6. Spend the night in a hotel after driving for eight hours to get to a place we should have gotten to in three and a half.
  7. Finally get to  the new apartment a mere 24 hours after we left Bakersfield.
  8. Unpack the moving truck and drag all out stuff up to the seventh floor. For five hours. Yipee!
  9. Discover that our car is dead…again. Wait for AAA to come and replace our battery.
  10. Unpack all those boxes that are now in our new, shiny home.
  11. Try to remember to eat at least twice a day.
  12. Try to remember to sleep a little bit.
  13. Steal moments to read when I’m “going to the bathroom.” *wink*

What did you do this week? Whatever it was, it was probably 29 times more exciting than what I did, but it was all worth it in the end. Hencefourth, I get to wake up to this every morning:

Now that we are here, I’ve been very busy. I have been…

  1. Not getting up before 8:30 am. Rough.
  2. Setting up house. My first order of business was setting up a reading corner, though the kitchen and bathroom are pretty much squared away, and the closet shall join them shortly.
  3. Looking out the window a lot. I’m still in awe of our cityscape.
  4. Reading. I started this lovely little book today:

    The Secret Lives of Wives by Iris Krasnow

    It is really interesting so far. Some of these women say having a man on the side has helped the, some say illness is what made them strong, and some say their arranged marriage is the best thing that ever happened to them. I’m not necessarily advocating for any of that, but I am fascinated.  Being married long enough to be passed the newlywed stage but not long enough to be considered a pro by any means, I’m really interested to delve into this topic. So far, if someone asked me the secret to our happiness these past four years, I’d say a strong underlying friendship, our shared commitment to our faith and core values, and honest communication. At the end of the day, no matter what has happened, that man is still the best friend I have in the world, which gives me something to fight for, no matter what. But in another four years, or eight, or twelve, who knows what I’ll say?  What about you? Man or woman, what would you say the key to longevity is? How do you keep a happy marriage? For that matter,  how do you keep any long-term relationship going?

  5. Taking an obscene amount of Cambria pictures:

    Sorry about missing Caturday! This little quartet pretty much sums up what she's been up to, though- sleeping and chilling out in odd places.

  6. Cooking dinner and other domestic type things.
  7. And tomorrow I will begin hunting for the perfect wall color. I’m thinking a nice, bright yellow.

Like I said, life is really tough right now. Another endeavor I plan to undertake soon: find every bookstore I can reasonably walk to/take the trolley to in San Diego. There are two just on the street I live on alone! But right now I’m going to sleep for the next ten hours. But I promise not to abandon you! I will surely be back tomorrow, my friends, granted I can pencil you into my demanding schedule.

1 Comment

Filed under Book Reviews, Books, California Dreamin', Cambria, Cats, Caturday, Love & Marriage, Odds and Ends, San Diego, Tyler

My Daddy and His Stories

This is my dad…

Isn't he cute?! Please don't tell him I called him cute. I don't think it's his favorite adjective.

And this is me…

Or at least this was me, many moons ago. Don't worry, you're not reading the blog of a mutant four-year-old.

Yesterday was his birthday, so I thought I’d dedicate today’s post to him. I could write a big blog about how my dad is one of my favorite people in the world, about how he’s wise and loving, about how we have the same quirky sense of humor and the same smile, and how we once drove cross-country, six days total, and didn’t argue even once because we have this great simpatico, but that would be mushy, and I try not to spill my mush all over the interwebs.

Don't we look alike? If I grew a beard, this is what I would look like.

But I don’t think it’s too mushy to say my dad is a brilliant man, though I don’t think he knows how brilliant he is. He is wise, and godly, and he has amazing insights into the way people think and work. He’s one of my best friends. And he loves to read.

I can’t say my father has the sole responsibility for my love of reading, because my mother is a reader too, and she took me to the library every week during my childhood. But he definitely had a large role in my reading development. Our livingroom has always had full bookshelves in it, and I remember watching my dad read as a child, his eyes sliding silently across the pages, and wishing I could read in my head like an adult too.

He used to read to us at night- wonderful, large books with tiny print that I never could have read by myself. Adventures like Heidi and The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings, which, for a little Midwestern girl like me who had never traveled farther than the Mississippi River, opened up whole new words for my young, sponge-like mind. Whenever I read Heidi, I still hear his voice.

He used to tell stories, too. Some nights before bedtime he would gather my little brother and me together on one of our beds and tell us the most fantastic stories out of his head- stories of wild horses and wind that could talk to you and far-away lands.

But the biggest thing he did was talk to us. My dad was never afraid to use words we didn’t know or talk about concepts we couldn’t understand, and we were always welcome to ask questions. And he always answered. Sometimes I wouldn’t understand the response for years, but I wouldn’t be the woman I am today without them.

So daddy, Happy Birthday! One of the best compliments I know how to give you is that you gave me the gift of the love of reading, the freedom to explore my world, and the joy of knowing what it feels like to be unconditionally loved along the journey.

What about you? Who fostered your love of reading? Did you have a parent or teacher who encouraged your literacy, and opened the world up to you?


Filed under Books, Odds and Ends

House Hunters: San Diego Edition

On today’s edition of House Hunters, Tyler and Amanda are looking for a starter loft in Downtown San Diego. With a budget of preferably-not-highway-robbery, and less than 24 hours to make their decision, will this young couple find the loft of their dreams, or will they be stuck roughing in the tent city while they try to figure out what on earth they’ve gotten themselves into?

The Last Resort.

First, they previewed several old-building lofts. The building is over 100 years old, and was renovated into live/work lofts with in-room laundry and central heat/AC in the 90’s. The spaces are a little bit bigger, and feel more livable and less sterile than the new-building lofts, but you have to pay for parking, and there are no decks or outdoor spaces. This was Amanda’s favorite building by far, but there were two layouts to choose from, which made things tricky.

Old Building, Loft #1, 770 sq. feet.

Apartment F: L shape separates bedroom from living space, six large windows let in a lot of light, but they look out over a parking garage. Boo.

Old Building. Loft #2,800 sq. feet.

Apartment A: fewer windows, but a better view and more space.

Second, they toured a penthouse-level loft at the very top of their price range with high ceilings, an amazing view out of floor to ceiling windows, a deck, one parking spot included and not much else. If you could see Tyler’s face in the photo, you would know it was his favorite.

Penthouse Loft, 600 sq. feet

Gorgeous view and a balcony, but pricey and small.

If you’re wondering why there aren’t more pictures for this one, it’s because there wasn’t really more to take a picture of. There was a bathroom, a closet, and a kitchenette to the left, and then some space. I called this the casserole loft because everything- kitchen, bedroom, livingroom- was all thrown in there together were little opportunity for separation of any kind. One could practically have fried bacon from the bed, but that view is incredible!

And third, was the “second choice” loft: a platform loft apartment, with a three step-up into the bedroom, a half-wall separation between rooms, so it was still two rooms but it was open, one parking spot included and two closets. It had a decent amount of space, didn’t feel like a casserole, and had a great view, but no balcony.

Raised Platform Loft, 720 sq. feet 

Cute design. Everyone's second choice.

So after spending waaaaaaaaaay too long deliberating, what did our enterprising young couple choose?

An old-building loft with lots of character? The penthouse loft with an amazing view but little space? Or the compromise loft with two closets and a cute design?

*Drumroll please*

We chose the second old-building loft!

It has the great view Tyler had hoped for, but it’s large enough that I think I can a: make it through a day without feeling claustrophobic and b: turn it into a nice home. It was the best compromise, and we’re very excited about it. We move in 10.14.11!

I’ll be back tomorrow with something  bookish and/or more interesting than the pictures of empty apartments, I just wanted to show off our new pad and some of the amazing views of our new city. T-minus 4 days and counting until this is my home…

San Diego, here we come!


Filed under California Dreamin', Odds and Ends, San Diego

Caturday 10.8.11: Brought to You By the Letters B, S, and E

Cambria heres. Guess what today is, guys…It’s Caturday! And mom lemme post all by maiselfs!

Dis Caturday is brought to you by de letter “B,” as in de word “Bored”…

As in, Cambria is

Bored, bored, bored.

Da humans are busy and tired, and dey filled mai cat fort wif books. Ai got trapped in a corner yesterdays, and now Ai’m not alloweds in da closet. And it’s cold outsides, which makes it cold insides. And Ai hates cold. It’s a terruble, horruble, no goods, very bad day!

Toady is also brough to you by de letter “S,” for de word “Solution”…

As in, Ai discovered a solution for mai boredom. Ai builts a castle! Acshully, the humans made de castle, Ai just conquered it.

Ai am Cambria kitteh. Oh, marvelous me! And Ai am de Queen of all dat Ai see!

Yertle de Turtle ain't got nothin on me!

Bring me some tunas, minion!...,uh, Ai mean, mom.

And lastly, Caturday is brought to you dis week by de letter “E,” for de word “Excited…”

As in, get excited! Dis time next week, Ai’ll be a Big City kitteh, and a downtown loft kitteh, and de Queen of a whole new place. Yays!

Hear dat, boxes?!! We're goin to San Diegos!

(A note from the humans: we’re in SD right now picking out Cambria’s new queendom! I’ll try to keep you updated on our progress as The Week of Moving Madness descends upon us. Also, I had to publish this from my phone because I’m too cheap to pay for hotel Internet. So if there are any iPhone quirks, I apologize.)


Filed under Cambria, Cats, Caturday