book circle: march

This month's pick was Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,Jonathan Safran Foer's second novel. (He also wrote Everything is Illuminated,which i haven't read, but it was a delightful movie.)

The narrator is a precocious nine-year-old, who lost his father on 9/11. He uncovers a mysterious key among his father's things and sets out across New York's five boroughs to discover what kind of secret it unlocks about his dad.

The book is slightly reminiscent of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius in that it's not always linear and it's told partly in pictures, letters, and wild imaginings. It isn't nearly as interesting or funny as that book, but I did like it. The story and presentation are creative, and my heart broke for lonely, grieving Oskar and his strange and disconnected family.

The book introduces more questions than it answers, and it has no tidy resolution, but that seemed appropriate for a book that is largely about grief. The characters are quirky, engaging, and various degrees of broken.

Even though the novel is fictional, it is the first personal story about 9/11 that I've encountered in a while, and there was something good about remembering, however painful.

I'd recommend Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. It wasn't the best thing I've ever read, but the story drew me in, and I finished it in two days. I'd like to read Foer's first novel. Other reviews can be found over at Walking Upside Down.


i got a fever and the only prescription is more...

jim and dylan took my sister to the airport yesterday. goodbyes were said and bethany set out, bowling bag in hand, to find her terminal.

as they began to drive away, dylan called out, "more?"

"more what, dylan?" jim asked.

"more b!" dylan answered.

b is bethany. dylan wanted more aunt b. could your heart just melt?

i want more aunt b, too.

thanks b, josh, and my parents who all came out to celebrate my birthday. ok, and to see dylan. i know who the real draw is around here:)


skateboarding is not a crime

you know how some people seem to have more than their share of bad luck? my brother got his car, bike, and skateboard all stolen, and he just got laid off from the graphic design firm he's worked at for about five years. come on!

i talked to him tonight, and he was actually doing pretty well. he's been spending his suddenly-free days logging volunteer hours to transform a neglected philly lot into a skate park in a low-income neighborhood. it seems like such an innovative revitalization project.

above is a picture of the park's progress, and this one is of josh skating a part that is completed. cool, huh?

my parents, brother, and sister bethany are all coming out next weekend for my birthday. i'm so excited to see them! dylan has changed so much since christmas when they saw her last, and it will be so great to be together.

today is day 6 of jim being away, and dylan finally fell apart. tonight i was desperately wishing jim were here so i could pass off parenting responsibilities! dylan only napped 40 minutes, and she completely melted down at dinner: tears, tantrums, pasta on the ground. fun times.

thankfully, dylan is asleep now, and she only woke ONCE the past two nights! here's hoping for another sleep-filled night and for everyone to hold it together until jim comes home.


holding down the fort

jim is away leading a nine-day backpacking trip in tennesee, and dylan and i are home hanging out and trying not to miss him too much. late last week the weather was gorgeous, sunny and warm, and we played in the yard for the first time in months. i even hung a load of diapers on the clothesline again.

it is so fun being outside with dylan now that she's walking. she toddles around, identifying birds and stopping to pick up pine cones. when we came in, she stood at the screen door, baby signing and calling out, "more?"

on saturday we had a wonderful dinner with camp friends and their family, and sunday we went hiking at a state park with nicole and bryan and their kids. it was cooler by then and a little overcast, but still great weather for hiking. plus, daylight savings gave us extra time on the trail.

nicole and i are finally putting our ymca memberships and their free(!) childcare to use and meeting up to exercise together. i hadn't been there in months, and it is so good to be active and to have someone to work out with.

jim got injured playing basketball a few weeks ago, and in the week leading up to his trip, he visited the chiropractor three times. he was feeling much better when he left on friday but still not 100%, and i know he'd appreciate prayers for strength and wellness, as well as for a good, safe trip. thanks:)


spring lies waiting, beneath the frozen ground

it's march, and yet every day i wake up, the temperature is in the single digits! we did have one day last week that miraculously was in the 50s, and dylan and i took full advantage by hiking through the woods and the bike park.
putting the backpackto good use. dylan LOVES riding up high.
the cool facade, designed by jim, that kids enjoy riding through. he's so crafty!
a wet hike--good thing i had my boots:)
the park is full of neat decks, bridges, and log piles for riding.
teeter-totterwalking the horse trail home
i am so eager to be outdoors more!


melissa, honey, you dodged a bullet

if you didn't watch this season of the bachelor, you won't care much about this post...come back tomorrow:)

last night, bachelor jason broke up with molly and proposed to melissa. minutes later, on "after the final rose," an unhappy jason revealed that they weren't right for each other, and then he proceeded to break up with melissa on camera. then molly came out, jason asked her for another chance, and they are together instead.

melissa, honey, you dodged a bullet.

jason doesn't know what he wants. he's emotionally immature. what kind of a man proposes to any woman mere moments after sobbing uncontrollably about breaking-up with another?

jason is a huge jerk for breaking up with you on tv, when he had six or more weeks away from the cameras in which to actually be a man and make a decision that wasn't entirely made-for-tv. he's thoughtless and foolish, and you can do better.

also, jason is divorced, which shouldn't necessarily be a deal breaker, but did you even find out why his marriage ended? is he able to make a lifelong commitment, or does he run when things get tough? does he believe that love is only a feeling or emotion, (because that's hardly a foundation on which to build a marriage and a future.)

and honey, why exactly were you in such a hurry to pack up your whole life in dallas to move to seattle to try to fit yourself into jason's already established life and family? maybe you need to figure things out for yourself better first, personally and professionally, in order to find a real love that won't eclipse your identity.

there was a lot of talk about following hearts and how people can't control their hearts, which to a degree is true. i think we don't pick who we're attracted to, and you can't force something that's not there, but people are in complete control over how they treat people.

as a christian, i don't subscribe to the philosophy of following my heart. there is a verse in jeremiah that kept ringing in my ear, "The heart is deceitful above all things" (17:9). my heart is sinful, and it can lead me astray. it can lead me to to justify hurtful or selfish behavior. scripture instead tells us to follow Christ, who may lead us down a path far different from where our hearts want to travel.

scripture also says, "Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart." God wants to give his children good things and to satisfy our desires, not as we follow our hearts but as we chase after God (psalm 37:4).


more than a little bit country...

even though we've now lived here longer than we lived in pittsburgh, somehow i still delude fancy myself an urban dweller experiencing a season of small town life. no matter how much i may miss shopping at the groceria italiano, attending our friend's gallery openings, or biking downtown to the three rivers' arts festival, there's really no denying a certain truth:

country life is rubbing off on us.

i apologize if this picture makes you squeamish, but these are the SEVEN geese jim got on saturday. so now in addition to all the venison, we're also eating goose.

let me tell you, jim braised a goose yesterday in a red wine sauce, and it was delicious! oddly, goose tastes much like roast beef, and the way it cooked all afternoon and made the house smell amazing reminded me of sunday afternoon pot roasts growing up.
i've been reading an fascinating book,
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by barbara kingsolver. it's part memoir and part primer on topics like eating local, seasonal produce, factory farming, and making cheese at home. according to the book, 3/4 of all antibiotics in america are used not by human patients but on animals raised for food. that's alarming! suddenly, our goose dinner didn't seem quite so backwoods as much as a refreshing alternative to the 98% of chickens raised by corporate, factory farms.

damn the Man! eat a goose.


Jesus! with us abide

we sung this hymn today at worship, and the words so struck me that i wanted to share them here:

Lord, who throughout these forty days
for us didst fast and pray,
teach us with thee to mourn our sins,
and close by thee to stay.

As thou with Satan didst contend
and didst the victory win,
O give us strength in thee to fight,
in thee to conquer sin.

As thou didst hunger bear and thirst,
so teach us, gracious Lord,
to die to self, and chiefly live
by thy most holy word.

And through these days of penitence,
and through thy Passiontide,
yea, evermore, in life and death,
Jesus! with us abide.

Abide with us, that so, this life
of suffering over-past,
an Easter of unending joy
we may attain at last!

Words: Claudia F. Hernaman, 1873
Music: St. Flavian
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