Apr 29, 2013

Book Review: The Classics

My neighbor Lisa and I started a "Classics" Book Club.  (She wanted a book club, I wanted "classics" so as to avoid the typical trashy modern book club selections.  I could write a whole post about modern books I've hated and am still mad I read, but I'll spare you.)

Anyway, I want to list a few of the books we've read so far, plus a few I've read on my own.  Here goes:  (Book club ones get *)

"Bleak House" by Charles Dickens:  While still living in Japan, my sister J-Bird sent me The BBC mini-series version of "Bleak House" on DVD.  Doug and I both got really into it and it made me want to read the book.  Which I loved.  I was glad, however, that I watched the mini-series first because it made it much easier to keep track of all the characters.

"The Woman in White" by Wilkie Collins
I love mysteries, I love nineteenth century British literature.  Loved it.

*"East of Eden" by John Steinbeck
Steinbeck became one of my favorite authors in High School.  (Loved "Winter of Our Discontent".)  But I hadn't read anything of his for a long time.  Super glad Lisa picked "East of Eden".  I loved everything about it.  I don't know why, but Steinbeck is about the only author who can wax poetic and philosophical  about landscapes and cityscapes and not bore me.  Although under critical observation the book isn't perfect, I still loved it!
(P.S.  I've never read "Grapes of Wrath" and I did NOT like "Of Mice and Men".)

*"The Importance of Being Earnest" and "An Ideal Husband" by Oscar Wilde
These are both plays, both short, and both hilarious.  Plus they have great BBC movies to go with them.  Highly recommend.
(Read "The Picture of Dorian Gray" a few years back.  It's also pretty good if you're into exploring the moral implications of Hedonism. )

*"Les Miserables" by Victor Hugo
Here's the deal.  Doug and I saw the play years ago while still living in SLC and liked it.  When the movie came out, we saw it and loved it.    After seeing the movie, I read the book and...mostly liked it.  But I didn't LOVE it!
Here's why:  Holy crap Hugo, can we just stick to the plot and forget the super-boring historical asides that go on for pages and pages and pages and don't advance the storyline at all?!?!?!?!?

Honestly, the details about the Paris sewer systems and how sewage should be pumped back into the city to fertilize the crops---were just way too much for me.  Same with the description of the Battle of Waterloo.  And many other long-winded descriptions of Parisian social ills.  TOO MUCH DIGRESSION!  (And coming from me, that's saying something.)

My un-researched theory is that the point of the book was to advance those theories and philosophies to the Parisians--with the story of Jean Valjean being secondary to make the boring stuff go down easier.  Any thoughts from those who've read it?  Am I way off?  Why else would he muck up a perfectly good story line with sewage details?!?

Here was my one other disappointment.  Marius has got to be the most lame, over-rated, self-indulgent wuss in the whole history of literature.  Seriously dude!  Get a job!  Grow up!  Talk to your Grandpa!  Sorry.  I know that's not a popular opinion, but he really bugged me.  If you've ever seen the movie, just stick with that version of him--he's a little more manly.  Oh, and if you haven't read the book and are planning to?  Find a good abridged version!!!

"Vanity Fair" by William Makepeace Thackeray.  I really liked this one.  It isn't the best book ever written but the plot definitely kept me turning pages and I read it pretty fast.  It had sort of an annoying character, but she (finally!) pulled it together in the end.   Looking forward to watching the mini-series.

"A Room with a View" by E.M. Forster.  I watched the 80's film version of this (with Helena Bonham Carter) in high school and loved it but just got around to reading the book.  Turns out, they're very similar.  The dialog in the movie is taken from the book almost word for word. (And it's a short book so they fit most of it in!)  So actually, reading the book didn't add too much like it usually does when you read the book second.
But I still really liked it and I just forced Doug to watch the movie with me so I could see it again.  He did NOT approve of the nudie skinny-dipping pond scene though I tried my hardest to make him see it in a humorous light.   He also thought the movie was very boring and started checking sport scores on the Internet about 20 minutes in.  I thought the movie did have some rather awkward 80's moments, but still feel it holds up for the most part after all these years.  (The movie is unrated so I can't be blamed for watching the (BRIEF) r-rated content.  Or at least, I couldn't be blamed the FIRST time I watched it.  Book is G-rated, btw.)

(P.S.  I read "A Passage to India" by Forster a few years ago and found it pretty darn boring.  Like Les Mis, I think it was meant to be a commentary on a current social problem.  In this case; Anglo-Indian relations.  Not that there is anything wrong with that, but the story line just didn't do it for me.)

So, any thoughts for me?  Agree?  Disagree?  Have you read any classics lately that you highly recommend?!?

Apr 18, 2013

Stuff Happens

Ya know how I said I was going to be better about updating my blog and then I proceeded to not post for months?  Well...
Stuff happens.
Like unplanned pregnancy.
And then, ya know, the inevitable puking and sleeping, and yaking and more sleeping and crankiness and ralphing...

(I think I've made my point about the throwing-up, yes?)

Now, I don't want to give a wrong impression.  It's not that we didn't want another kid.  We did.
We do.
It's just that...we were trying to decide if we should just roll the dice and try again, (not my first or second or third choice) do in-vitro fertilization with sex selection to guarantee a girl, or adopt a girl.  We had just decided we needed to really start to pray about it and figure out what to do.
That was Tuesday.
Wednesday I got suspicious of my "stomach flu" and took a pregnancy test.
It wasn't stomach flu.

The test registered positive before I'd even set the thing down on the counter to wait the two minute wait time.

So we're pregnant.  And it's probably going to be a boy.
But we're okay with that.
Because obviously, we make super cute little boys.
But still.  Five boys.  Woah.
Pray for me.


Post Edit:
It IS a boy!


Post Script:
We're currently in the market to adopt a baby girl due around October 1 that would be raised as a twin to a baby boy and have four older brothers.
Seriously people.  Help a girl out!!!

Apr 5, 2013

Gray-Gray's Birthday

Gray had his birthday on a Friday and this and since the boys don't have school Friday's, (Charter School home school day) and Daddy happened to have the day off, we all went to the S.D. Wild Animal Park.    We had a fun day and at the end Gray got to pick a stuffed animal for a present.  (Except he wouldn't cooperate and kept drifting over to the cheap plastic toys so finally Doug picked a Cheetah for him so we could just go home for-the-love!)
ANYWAY...!  Highlights included Wallaby up-close, Baby Gorilla, and Butterfly Exhibit.  It was a fun day.
Gabey was full of questions.

Well hello!

The baby was playing in the mote and was hard to see but he came up to taunt his family a few times.

Sammy would not leave until a butterfly landed on him.  Finally, I broke the rules and picked one up and stuck it on his hand.  Then another one came over, landed on top of the first one and they both flew off.

Baby bat.  Doug uses pictures like this to torture his Bat-hating mother.  Very mean of him.

Since this was his third birthday, (odd year) he didn't qualify for a "friend" party.  Instead he got to share a "family" party with his cousin Ashlin who turned 17 the day before he turned 3.  Ashlin is his favorite babysitter so he was okay with it!  

(Fun fact: they would share a birthday had Gray been born in the states.  But since he was born in Japan, his birthday is the day after hers.) 

As an added bonus, my sister Karie was in town with her family so they all got to come too.

We had a big party for them at our pool with Costco pizza and cake.  Of course, we had our neighbors the L's come over too, cause they're practically like family.  All in all, it was a fun day with our cute little tyrant.  

Three candles for Gray, seventeen for Ash!

Looking Back:

Lucky Baby got to go to Australia while brothers stayed home.

Big in Japan

First bath from Grandma Fae

Just chillin' in Hawaii with some turtles!

What I get for leaving out the lunch stuff.

At Daddy's new office in California!

Daddy's Mascot

Tahoe for Thanksgiving

At the beach

"Just hold me every single second Mom!!!"

In Mommy's old t-shirt

Chubbiest baby of them all

Newborn-9 pounder

Don't mess!