Monday, September 29, 2014

Desi Arnaz: the man I didn't know

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, I decided to research a famous Hispanic individual whom I knew of but did not really know about. I came across the biography of Desi Arnaz, the bandleader and most famous for his role as Ricky Ricardo on “I Love Lucy.”

Desiderio Alberto Arnaz y de Acha III was born March 2, 1917 in Santiago, Cuba. His family fled Cuba when his father was accused of being involved in the 1933 revolution led by Fulgencio Batista. The family would settle in Miami, Florida where Desi would take any job he could until he was hired by Xavier Cugat, the “king” of Latin music. He would soon form his own Latin band and launched the conga craze in the US.

He would met his future wife, Lucille Ball on the set of “Too Many Girls” (1940). The two would marry on November 30, 1940 and they would have two children: Lucie (born July 17, 1951) and Desi Jr (born January 19, 1953). Desi and Lucille would form Desilu Productions in 1950 and produced their first show “I Love Lucy” which premiered on October 15, 1951. They both would later confess that they produced the show in order to save their troubled marriage. The show would be revolutionary in the television. In the course of producing the show, Desi would be credited with many inventions in which the television industry still use today. The set of “I Love Lucy” would be the first to use several cameras, a warm-up act, performing before a live audience and rerunning old episodes when production would take a break. When “I Love Lucy” finished airing on May 6, 1957, it left still at number 1. He would also be the first Hispanic man to own his own production company. 

Sadly, his marriage to Lucille Ball would end in divorce on May 4, 1960; however, the two would remain friends until his death on December 2, 1986 at the age of 69 from lung cancer. He is forever remembered and honored as one half of the one of the greatest comedic duos in television history. With “I Love Lucy” in syndication, the show still reaches approximately 40 million Americans each year and many of their fans were not even born when the show originally aired. He would also author an autobiography entitled "A Book". He was a great man who made history and an impact on this country and the world in so many ways. 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Dobyns Chronicles: a story of strength, faith and survivial

Dobyns Chronicles by Shirley McLain is about her great-grandfather, Charley Dobyns and his life growing up on ranches in Texas and Chickasaw Territory (which is part of present day Oklahoma) in a time when the old ways were moving into the modern era and the old life would only be seen in movies.

The story opens with Charley standing on his land for the last time as he moves from his home. He reflects back to his life on his father’s farm and his early memories of his parents. When his parents died tragically during the yellow fever epidemic of 1888, Charley must figure out how to keep his siblings together and keep them alive. They would endure extreme weather, tragic accidents and situations that no one could possibly imagine and they came back stronger and ready for the next one.

I love this story. I love the perseverance to survive. While I was reading this book, I couldn’t help but think of my grandmother on her parents’ farm in Oklahoma during the Great Depression and the stories she would tell me of what they did to survive. I wonder if today’s generations would have the same survival spirit as out grandparents and great-grandparents. The story was so engrossing that I read the entire book in one day, which I thought I wouldn’t do but I had to finish and what find out the rest of the story. I really enjoyed the family photos at the end of the epilogue. It helped put faces to the names and their incredible story. I loved the Dobyns’ commitment to God and His Word. No matter what was going on in his life, the family always turned to God for guidance and comfort. I highly recommend Dobyns Chronicles. It is a story of love of family, love of the land and survival against great odds.
Dobyns Chronicles is available on Amazon
on the Kindle for $3.99 and in paperback for $19.99

Thursday, September 25, 2014

What Christians can do in a world which hates them

It always seems to shock me when Christians are shocked or angered at the treatment of other Christians because of their faith. While it saddens me that Christians can’t practice their faith, it should not be a surprise at the world’s disdain for Christians. For Christ told us that it would be this way. In Matthew 10:22 (NIV), “All men will hate you because of me.” Christ also said in John 15:18 (NIV) “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” My fellow Christians may be asking “What shall we do? Do we just lie down and take it?” No, we don’t but my plan of action is simple: prayer.

First, I find direction in Jesus’ final prayer: “Father, forgive them for do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34 NIV). Christ had every right to ask His Father to consume those who put him on the cross but instead he prayed for the Father to forgive them as He directed in Matthew 5:44 (NIV) “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” I find this very difficult to love those who hate me or try to hurt me, but I know that my hate hurts me more than it hurts others. I follow my Lord’s lead and pray for those who would do me harm. I pray that the Lord show them the errors of their ways and that they may turn to Him for guidance.

Second, non-believers will ridicule a believer’s claim because they can’t see from God’s perspective. The evidence that I have for my faith is not going to be the same for someone else. I am commanded by Christ to spread the Word and share my faith. It is not my duty to save them. Christ does that. I am just the one who is planting the seed. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 3:7 (NIV) “So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, makes things grow.” It’s not important who plants the seed of Christ in someone’s heart or who waters it, it is God who makes it grow. It is God who changes the heart and mind. Not me, not the TV evangelist, not the pastor at the pulpit on Sunday. It is God. We need to pray, let go and let God.

In conclusion, the Christian life is a long and difficult road with rewards beyond our wildest dreams that await us in Heaven. The most powerful tool, as Christians, is prayer. We must pray for our family, friends, our country and its leaders and the world. We must pray, let go and let God. He is in control and has much more power than we could ever muster.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Hockey Saint: a lesson in celebrity idols

The Hockey Saint by Howard Shaprio is a graphic novel which is the second book of the Forever Friends Trilogy. It is the unlikely friendship between Tom Leonard, a struggling college sophomore and hockey great, Jeremiah Jacobson. The events that occur will change the lives of both Tom and Jeremiah.

The story opens with Tom is awaken from a strange dream about his parents. Tom meets Jeremiah through a twist of fate and the two become fast friends but their friendship is put to the test when Tom discovers the secrets that Jeremiah tries so hard to hide. When Tom confronts Jeremiah about his secrets, Jeremiah must decide to seek help and save his career and his life or go down in flames.

When I requested to review this book, I didn’t realize that it was a graphic novel but I decided to give it a go anyway. The illustrations by Marcia Inoue and color work by Andres Mossa are beautiful and very realistic. The story is very compelling as many people fail to realize that our celebrity idols are human too and they have faults and will make mistakes like any regular person. The graphic novel will appeal to young boys and men who enjoy reading the sequential art of comic books and graphic novels. It is a fast paced story which I was able to read quickly. I recommend The Hockey Saint for its story with a great message.
The Hockey Saint is available on Amazon

in paperback for $13.95

Sunday, September 21, 2014

My birthday dinner

The birthday celebration continues as tonight my family and I serve my favorite dinner. Jambalaya with shrimp and Andouille sausage. And for dessert, a Hummingbird Cake. Yummy! The recipes are as follows:

Jambalaya with Shrimp and Andouille Sausage (serves 4)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 tablespoon minced garlic
6 ounces Andouille sausage, sliced
1 cups uncooked long-grain white rice
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon garlic salt
1 bay leaf
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
¾ cups water
1 tablespoon tomato paste
½ teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
½ pound peeled and deveined medium shrimp
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1. If using uncooked Andouille sausage, cook for 3-4 and turn and cook additional 3-4 until cooked through. Set aside to cool.
2. Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion, chopped bell pepper, minced garlic, and sausage, sauté 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
3. Add rice, paprika, black pepper, oregano, onion powder, thyme and bay leaf; cook 2 minutes. Add broth, water, tomato paste, hot pepper sauce and diced tomatoes; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Add shrimp; cook 5 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Stir in parsley. Serve.

Hummingbird Cake

Nonstick baking spray
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 4 medium)
One 8-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained
Frosting, recipe follows
Optional garnishes: sweetened flaked coconut, chopped macadamia nuts

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray three 9-inch baking pans with nonstick baking spray.
2. Roast the bananas on a baking sheet for 20-25 minutes until skins are black. Set aside to cool.
3. In a large bowl, beat the butter, granulated sugar and vanilla at medium speed with a mixer until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
4. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add to the butter mixture alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, beating just until combined after each addition.
5. In a bowl, remove bananas from skins and add the pineapple. Using a potato masher to mash the bananas and pineapple together. Add the bananas and pineapple to batter, beating until combined.
6. Using a measuring cup, spoon the batter into each of the three prepared pans, one scoop at a time to ensure an even distribution. Slam the pans against the counter to get any air bubbles out of the batter.
7. Bake until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean, 25 to 35 minutes. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Remove from the pans and cool completely on wire racks.
8. Spread some Frosting between the layers. Spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake. Garnish with coconut and nuts if desired.

2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Beat the butter and cream cheese together with a handheld electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Beat in the confectioners’ sugar in increments. Lastly beat in the lemon juice and vanilla

For this cake, I toasted the coconut. To toast, spread coconut thinly as possible on a baking sheet and place in a 325° over and bake for 10-12 minutes, stirring the coconut every five minutes, until done to desired toastness. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Lady Emma in her Land of Wonder: a story of adventure and strength

Lady Emma in her Land of Wonder by Martha M. Harrison is a beautiful poem about a young girl who learns to work out her problems by herself. She has the ups and downs of life as her father and her prince try to rescue her. She tells them she doesn’t always need their help but she does need their support.

I love this book. First, any book which is written in a beautiful poem with great illustrations is always great. I love the message of a young woman learning how to work out her problems and when to get help should she need it. It is a great illustration of the great adventure of life. I highly recommend this book for any family’s and classroom’s libraries.

Lady Emma in her Land of Wonder is available on Amazon in hardback for $12.95

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Reflections on turning 35

Tomorrow I turn 35. It’s not a milestone birthday but I find myself laughing when I remember being a teenager thinking 30’s and 40’s were so far off. Now, I’m five years from 40. Not that I’m afraid of turning 40, age is just a number. You remain youthful by allowing yourself to live youthful moments. Youthful moments takes the stress of adult responsibility away and hides it for a moment. I think certain birthdays cause you to stop and look back. To see how different you are from your youth or even how much you are the same. I look back on my life and think about what regrets I may have and what I look forward to in the future. I think everyone has regrets. The difference is some people hold on to their regrets and allow them to weigh them down, while others see their regrets as lessons learned for the future. Do I have regrets? 

  • I regret childhood friends I let slip out of my life. I wish I could find them and apologize for doing them wrong. Maybe one day, I will. I pray that they forgive me and that they are healthy and happy. 
  • I regret not sticking up for myself when times called for it. It’s a lesson I’ve definitely learned now and I’m not afraid to stand up. Many people may not like what I have to say but I’m tired of keeping quiet when something upsets me or irks me. 

And no:
  • I don’t regret my college education. I enjoyed school and learned a lot. I may not be working in career in my fields but I use the information I learned every day. 
  • I don’t regret changing my career goals. If I had stuck to my original career plan, I wouldn’t have moved to Ontario in 2005, I wouldn’t have met my husband and gotten married and we wouldn’t have our daughter. If my life went a different path, I wouldn’t have the two most important people in my life 

My life is good. I’ve always dreamed of being a wife, mother and author. 2 out of 3 isn’t bad and I’m working on #3. I still have a lot to look forward to and I eagerly await those days. I may not be rich, I may not have a fancy house or car but I have a great family loves me unconditionally and we have great adventures together. I have great friends who care deeply for me as I celebrate and struggle through the moments of my life. I have a great hobby that allows me to reach people from across the country and around the world. I’ve met great new people who have read my blog and liked what they read. Every now and then I think of what could have been, then I remember everything I wouldn’t gain if my path was different. I’m looking forward to my birthday and many birthdays after. Life is good. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Anthony Ant goes to France: a fun adventure to the city of Paris

Anthony Any Goes to France by Julie Bettendorf is a great story of adventure. Anthony Ant goes to Paris, the capital of France also the home of fashion, poetry and ballet dance. Along with his friend, Lulu Ladybug, he sees the various sights of the city: Eiffel Tower, Louvre, beautiful gardens, Norte Dame Cathedral.

I loved this book. It has great illustrations and takes the reader on a fun adventure around the City of Lights. I recommend this book for any family’s and classroom’s library.

Anthony Ant Goes to France is available on Amazon

for the Kindle for $2.99, Hardback for $19.95 and Paperback for $13.95.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Short Story: The Shallow End

Today on the train, I couldn’t help listening in to this woman’s phone conservation. She seemed so tired and lost, I felt bad for eavesdropping but I was intrigued….
“How I am doing today? Let’s see. I feel like I’m in a room full of people and no one can hear me. I feel like I’m between a rock and a hard place. I feel that all my hard work is for nothing. I feel as if I’m drowning…”
“Oh, enough with the analogies. Ok, a simple sentence: I feel unappreciated. I feel pulled in different directions with no relief. I feel that all I do is give and I get nothing in return….”
“Home? The same. Get up, take care of my daughters, clean house, and shower, maybe read if I can get past a page or two and basically wait until my husband gets home where I cook dinner, clean up afterward. I’m expected to wait on him hand and foot because he quote ‘had a hard day.’ Do you know that I often dread when he has more than two days off? Yeah, I do. Because by the end of the second day, I wish that his boss would call him in just to get him out of my hair…” 
“He’s no help. I have to beg and make deals with him just to get him to give the kids a bath….”
“I have tried talking to him but he doesn’t understand and I don’t know how to help him understand. I know that he’s exhausted after working all week and he wants to rest but he doesn’t get that I don’t get a day off. I’m always on duty. Do you know how many times I have to get out of bed because they are calling for me or they’ve gotten out of bed and play with the toys? Some nights, too many to count. And when I do finally get to sleep, I get woken up by him, saying it’s time to get up. I look at the clock and I realize that I’ve only gotten a few hours of sleep. People will joke and say ‘that’s being a mom.’ Even when he is home, I’m expected to do everything. If my daughters get into something, I’ll get an attitude as if to say, ‘why weren’t you watching her?’ As if I’m the only one who is responsible for them. And if something happens, like they get sick and I’ll tell him what we need to do but he’ll ignore me and call one of his older sisters as if I don’t know what I’m talking about. You know what? About 99.9% of the time, they’ll tell him the exact thing I did…”
“I do love him. He’s usually very sweet and considerate. We get along very well. It’s just some days, he’ll come home with an attitude as if he is ‘Mr. Know-it-all’ and I don’t know what I’m talking about or I’ve been misinformed. That’s usually when I know he’s been talking to his older brother. My brother-in-law is the jack of all knowledge but a master of nothing. But he sure acts as if he has a Ph.D. in very topic under the sun…”
“No, I don’t expect perfection. I expect consideration that my opinions and comments are worth listening to and not dismissed because it contradicts what he’s been told by someone else…”
“My friends? Ha, that’s a joke. My friends don’t want to hear my problems because it would take away from their complaining. And when I do try to talk, I get a short ‘oh, that sucks. So my husband did….”
“I feel so isolated from everything and I know that life is happening outside our door. I can’t seem to enjoy it either it be money or fear or uncertainty. To sum up. You asked me how I’m feeling. Have you ever been in the pool where the deep end slopes up to the shallow end and you use your toes to keep your head above water until you can get your full footing? Well, that’s how I feel. I feel as if I’m forever in the shallow end trying to stay above water. Some days I do but most days I don’t. How do I stop from drowning in the shallow end?”
As I got up from my seat and passed her, I pressed a note in her hand that I had written. She looked at me in shocked but I just nodded and smiled and got off the train. I hoped she would find my words encouraging. I hoped she would realize that she’s not alone in her struggles. I simply wrote:
“Even diamonds have to go under a lot of pressure
before they emerge beautiful and priceless.
You are a diamond still under pressure.

Your time to shine is coming. ”

Thursday, September 11, 2014

If Tigers were Angels: a story of faith and God's calling

If Tigers were Angels by Tom Tatum is an inspirational story which challenges what we believe by faith or by sight and God’s calling in our lives that many people take for granted. The tigers in the title are the Tiger Shallowtail butterflies which are the state butterfly of South Carolina as well as six other eastern states.

The story opens with Benjamin “Ben” Taylor, who is a middle aged man, married with three children. He was addicted to his work and with the pressures of providing for his growing family, he filled his time with more work and less home. With his children grown and gone, he befriends a young neighbor, Andy Dobson. Andy is caught by Ben watching the butterflies in Ben’s garden. Something strange happens. Andy is in a mysterious coma and when he wakes up, he was an amazing story to tell. The story causes a media frenzy and the events that follow will cause Ben to question what he knows about God and His calling in Ben’s life. He will soon make a decision which will turn his life upside down.

The subtitle of this book was “With God, all things are possible” which is from Matthew 19:26 and challenges the reader’s understanding of how limited we are but how unlimited God is. I could really relate to this story because my faith has been challenged in many ways. Many people wonder with all that I’ve been through how I can still believe in God. While I have many examples, I will illustrate one that the book brought to mind. In one scene, a pastor is illustrating Jesus presence in our lives. He asks, “How has Jesus made His presence known to us?” I remember vividly when I was in the hospital after having emergency caesarian section and losing my daughter, Ziva Rae at 24 weeks gestation. I was visited by my aunt who prayed for me before she left. She prayed that Jesus would lay His hands on me and give me comfort and peace. Later, as I was falling asleep, I felt pressure on the top of my head as if someone had placed his hand on me. I knew it was Jesus. I love this book. It has great moments and Ben goes through a great transformation from a selfish, so-so Christian to a fully committed servant of God. I highly recommend this book. If Tigers were Angels is a great example of how all things are possible with God.

If Tigers were Angels is available on Amazon
for the Kindle for $3.03 and in paperback for $17.95

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The history of some of our favorite foods

I’ve been thinking the history of our favorite foods especially the food which sounds ethnic and international in origin but, in fact, are not. I’ve picked five foods which everyone is familiar with and possibly eat on a regular basis: French fries, pizza, and fortune cookies.

First, French fries, the delicious fried potato which is a part of many Americans’ diet. Here in America, they are served with hamburgers. In the United Kingdom, they are served with fried fish and are known as chips. In France, they are served with grilled steak and in Belgium, they are served with cooked mussels, a fried egg on top or a mayo sauce. While many debate who fried the potato first, the French or the Belgians, the census is the Belgians were in the first in the late 1600s. According to local legend, the poor villagers in the Meuse Valley had a terrible winter where the local river froze leaving them without their main food stable. They then took the potato, sliced and fried it. Why are they called french fries? One explanation I’ve heard is because the official language of Belgium is French and American soldiers of WWI called the fried potatoes “french fries” and the name stuck.

Second, the wonderful pizza. The first people to bake a flatbread was the Greeks but it was the citizens of Naples in the 1700s/early 1800s who developed the beginnings of the pizza. The story is that the citizens needed a food that could be consumed quickly and street vendors began serving flatbread with various toppings: tomatoes, cheese, oil, anchovies and garlic. It is still served like this in Italy today. A popular pizza, the Margherita, is reportedly named after Queen Margherita whose favorite toppings were sliced mozzarella, red tomatoes and green basil. Italian immigrants in New York City began developing the pizza that we recognize today. The first American pizzeria was G. Lombardi’s in Manhattan in 1905. The popularity of pizza boomed after WWII and travel across the country to Chicago, where the deep dish pizza was developed.

Third, the fortune cookie. The sweet after dinner snack is fact NOT Chinese. It originated in California but the actual inventor and city of invention is a topic of great debate. The first story is David Juna, a Chinese immigrant in Los Angeles and founder of the Hong Kong Food Company, in 1918 passed fortune cookies out to the poor who wandered around his shop and inside he placed inspirational Biblical scriptures. The second story is Makoto Hagiwara, a Japanese immigrant in San Francisco, created the cookie in 1914 with a thank you note inside and passed them out at the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park, after he was fired and later reinstated as gardener and designer of the garden. Whatever the origins, the cookies become a common addition to Chinese restaurants by WWII and contained clever and often vague “words of wisdom.”

There are hundreds of other foods that have ethnic sounding names but were actually invented somewhere. So remember next time you’re eating French fries or a slice of pizza or reading that fortune from the cookie, remember the humble origins of our favorite foods. 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Outlander: a love story set in the Scottish Highlands

Recently, I saw the advertising for Starz’ new series, Outlander. I was interested because I love Scotland and its history, its culture, its people, even the language. I discovered that it is based on the series by Diana Gabaldon and I decided to pick up the first book in the series.

Outlander is about Claire Randall who is in the Scotland Highlands on a second honeymoon with her husband after the end of World War II. While there, she discovers a set of mysterious standing stones. While at the standing stones early one morning, she accidentally touches one and she is whisked back in time to 1743. This year is very important because it is before the Battle of Culloden when Bonny Prince Charlie and Jacobite followers fail to overthrown the House of Hanover for the British crown. The political tensions between friends and family as the Jacobite rising is gaining followers and support. What will Claire do? Can she get back home? Or does she make a life in the beautiful land where she meets the handsome Jamie Fraser? 

I am torn about this book. I love Ms. Gabaldon’s descriptions of the time and place. I love her in depth historical references which helps the reader understand the political unrest in the country. I loved the descriptions of life in the 18th century Scottish Highlands. I loved the love story between Clair and Jamie. The journey that two people take as they join their lives together and learn how to live as one. I enjoyed the villain of the story, Captain Randall, well as least for the most part. I enjoyed seeing him as the sadistic British officer who has no love or trust of the Scottish people. However, I did not like the fact that his character has a sexual attraction to Jamie and I felt it took away from the story. There is one scene toward the end of the book that made it very hard to finish. With this one scene, I am unsure if I want to finish the series. So I’m torn about recommending this series or even the series. On one hand it has a great love story but on the other hand, some scenes are very graphic and disturbing. I may give it some time before I pick up the next book in the series. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Football is finally here!!!

Ahh, my favorite time of year. School’s back in session. Fall is just around the corner and cooler weather (at least hopefully for me) is on its way. Football season is here!!!! My favorite team is the Kansas City Chiefs. Many people have asked me why and I don’t have a real answer. I picked them because I knew other people who were fans and I like their logo. However, I could have easily picked another team. I chose Kansas City and I will always cheer on Kansas City. The first football game was played on November 6, 1869 when the game resembled rugby. Rule changes in 1880 led to the game that we recognize today. My favorite reasons why I love football: the game itself, friendship among fans and the emotional investment.

First, the game itself. It’s a game filled with strategy like a game of chess. With all the pieces in place, will the play work? Will it catch the opponent off-guard or will they see right through the ploy? I cheering as the team makes a touchdown or another big play. I enjoying jeering at the teams for play mistakes. I also enjoy showing my disapproval for bad calls. All the teams battling for the opportunity to play in the big game: the Super Bowl.

Second, there is an immediate “friendship” among fans. My husband and I have been stopped by complete strangers to discuss our teams simply because we are wearing the same team jerseys. You go to a bar or a restaurant with the game on and the person next to you because your new friend because you are cheering for the same team. On the other hand, complete strangers will tease or taunt simply because you support their team’s rival. We take it all in stride. I say if you pick a team, support them to the end no matter how much you are teased or ridicule by other team’s fans.

Third, the emotional investment of the players helps their fans cheer in support as their team plays the game. You cheer when they cheer as they win the big game or you cry in disappoint with them when you lose. My sister, who is a San Francisco 49ers fan since the days of Joe Montana, once told me that she gets pumped up with the players’ passion for the game. My husband gets very involved in the game, yelling and screaming at the TV as if the players or the refs can hear him. Game day gets pretty intense at our house.

In conclusion, I love football. I love the strategy of the game. I love fans getting together and enjoying the game. I love the high I get when I watch an exciting game. It’s a great release of stress and energy. Its 16 weeks of high intensity games with 32 teams battling it out and leading up to the biggest game of the year! So, are you ready for some football?!?!? 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Ocean at the End of the Lane: a great book with a big imagination!

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman is story of magic and wishes. The story opens to a middle age man leaving a funeral. As he drives through the village he grew up in, he finds himself at the Hempstock farm. While he is there, he remembers the fantastical events of one year when the duck pond on the farm became an ocean.

We are introduced to a lonely young boy who prefers the company of books than kids his age. He meets Lettie Hempstock who insists her duck pond is an ocean. After meeting Lettie and her family, strange occurrences begin to happen around the village. Money mysteriously appearing in the weirdest places, money being thrown at people and a mysterious woman appears at the boy’s home and makes herself comfortable as the family nanny. What is going on? What does the occurrences have to do with the Hempstock farm and their ocean?

I’ve read a few of Neil Gaiman’s books before and The Ocean at the End of the Lane is just as mystical and wonderful as his previous books. It combines the real world with a world of fantasy and magic. It was wonderful strange creatures and interesting characters that as you read, you’re wondering who these people are. It was a short book, about 300 pages, and a quick read. There isn’t much I can talk about without giving away major plot points. If you love fantasy with wonderful characters, I would highly recommend this book. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Short Story Three Sisters Part 3: Carrie

Carrie stared at Amy in shock. She knew! She thought it was an inside joke between her and Brynn and Amy knew.
“How could I not know?” Amy continued answering the unspoken question which hung in the air. “Mom always went out of her way to belittle anything we tried to do. When we got married, she didn’t like anything we planned for the ceremony or the reception. When we started to try to have a family and we had a little problem, she blamed Aaron because ‘How could it be Amy? I never had any problems?’ But it doesn’t matter. Aaron has been good to me and anything she said was out of dislike and not general concern for my safety.”
Amy turned away from her sisters. “Do you know that the secrets you told mom weren’t secrets for long?” she whispered. “I never let on that I knew because I knew it was supposed to be quiet. Even now, I don’t want to tell you what Mom has told me because it would only hurt you more and I don’t want to do that.”
Brynn and Carrie told in silence, unable to find the words to add to the conversation.
“You two are my sisters and I love you very much. I only hope and pray for the best for you. But we don’t have to be best friends. I’m quite content in my life as wife and mother. I have my PTA meetings now and classroom bake sales and such. Brynn, you have an amazing job that I could never do and you have amazing friends who fill your life with fun and adventures. And Carrie, I know you are trying your best. There will come a day when you look back and realize that the path your life has taken is because you took it. I pray every day that God helps you find whatever it is you are looking for.”
Brynn smiled and crossed the room to hug Amy. When she stepped back and turned to Carrie, she just turned and left the room. Carrie walked into the backyard where their childhood swing set still stood. The rusty chains creaked as she sat down in the middle. Carrie gently swung back and forth, back and forth. Amy’s words rolling in her head. She’s wrong, she thought. My path isn’t all my own. Dad picking Amy as his favorite and Mom, well Mom did dote on her. She was the baby after all and Mama always loves her baby. Something was missing. Mom only paid attention to her because Amy had Dad’s attention and Brynn couldn’t care less about getting their attention. She was always off doing something and rarely home.
“Carrie” Brynn called, breaking her train of thought. “Are you alright?”
“Sure, I’m alright. You think anything that prissy ass Amy said affected me” Carrie scoffed. “She shouldn’t flatter herself.”
Brynn gave her a look of skepticism but kept quiet. “How bout we finish in the house so we can put in whole day behind us?”
Carrie reluctantly agreed and walked back into the house. As she approached the front door, she noticed that her brother-in-law had arrived with the rental truck for the furniture that Amy wanted to keep. Why Amy wanted to keep some of this furniture was behind her but she supposed that Amy was a sentimental fool. Carrie walked into the living room where the mess of her belongings were still flung about the room. She sat down to go through every piece of paper, every piece of clothing. She worked quickly and when she was done, she realized that most of it was either trash or donations. There were no happy memories of her childhood in these boxes and filled bad memories that she fought hard to forget.
The house soon became a bustle of activity as the furniture was being moved to the truck. Soon, the donation truck arrived and boxes were being loaded up. Trash was thrown away and the last minute cleaning was being done. Carrie stood in the now empty kitchen as she watched Amy talk to the realtor who had arrived to take the keys. She felt a small ping of regret that this house soon would no longer be theirs. She just hoped that the new family would have happier memories than they did.
“Is your car loaded up?” asked Brynn.
“Yeah, I’m about ready to go. I don’t think Amy needs me any longer.”
Carrie followed Brynn outside where they both said goodbyes and walked to their cars. Carrie got behind the wheel and looked at the house one last time. She knew what her mom was trying to do when she asked them to work on the house together. She loved her sisters but they were three very different people and she doubted that they would ever see eye to eye. Carrie straighten up, turned the car over and sped away without giving the house another glance.

The End