Monday, February 14, 2011

Redefining Romance

16.                  Do something incredibly romantic.

Okay, it is Valentine's Day, and it seems like the perfect time to plan something romantic.  Only, I have to say, this is about the 5th time this year I have worked on planning something romantic, and turns out I'm not doing too well.  Despite several good college tries, I can't say I've succeeded yet.  Several things have "gotten in the way" of well laid or well intentioned plans. 

Any ideas?

Or, is this just par for the course for the almost-40s-with-young-kids-set? With work, busy schedules, babysitters, and being tired - where is there room for something incredibly romantic?

Maybe the fact that I'm having to plan it just says something in itself.  Should romance be more spontaneous?  I'm not a spontaneous person, so I'm pretty much ruling that out. 

Or, maybe I just need to redefine romance.  When my husband cleans the kitchen, which, being a restaurant man, he is very good at - that is romantic.  Also, he is the best with a vacuum.  And mopping.  I know I'm lucky.  

Or, maybe all those excuses are just a cop out.  

The fact is - I woke up everyone today with a little note of love and some candy.  I made lunch sandwiches out of mini heart cookie cutters for my kids.  I bought a Groupon for my husband that I'm really excited about - thanks Groupon!  I also am planning an at home and fancy/fun dinner for all of us.

Fact is - John and I are going out of town this week for business with Chick-fil-A, for which I am so grateful.  We get this awesome opportunity every year to get away, thanks to Chick-fil-A, and also thanks to my mom, who is both willing and able to keep our kids.  We are also going out a few days early to have some time together and with friends.  I think that all sounds more romantic than today, just because it is a random Monday and Valentines Day.  

At any rate, I'm still working on it and still feeling hopeful.  Send me thoughts and ideas.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

January Pages

26.                  Read 50 books or more.

Wow, did I ever plow through some books in January.  Can't wait to share!  28 down now, 22 to go.  Here are the eight books I put on  my list in January.

21.  My Reading Life by Pat Conroy
My Reading Life
Loved, loved, loved this book.  I have enjoyed other books by Pat Conroy, and reading this one was special, as it focused on his own experience with influential books and people in his life.  I couldn't help but continue thinking how raw the writing was.  I so appreciated his stories of being turned down, beaten down, slowed down - and living through it.  It was an inspiring reminder of how even the very successful people out there often have stories of others that discouraged them.  I loved hearing about his successes and failures.  Pat Conroy doesn't disappoint - he shares his gritty writing and eloquent language to tell these stories, and I loved reading his Reading Life.

22.  Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom
Have a Little Faith: A True Story
Not my favorite from Mitch Albom; I've enjoyed other writings of his more.  But - an interesting paralleled story of two lives.  Might be worth a look.

23.  Half Broke Horses by Jeanette Walls
Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel
I really enjoyed reading her previous book, The Glass Castle, so I was excited my sister gave me this one for Christmas.  The first half of the book I really enjoyed, but as it carried on, I felt less inclined toward the main character.  Only at the end did I read that Walls created a good portion of the story, recounted by her mother, not her grandmother (the main character).  I understand this is often the case under the circumstances, but I wish I had realized it at the beginning.  Definitely a different kind of read - worth checking out.

24.  Socks by Beverly Cleary
My daughter, who is allergic to all things animal, is a rabid reader of animal books.  She's been asking me to read about Socks for months now.  I love Beverly Cleary, so I finally had the chance for this one, which ended up taking me just about an hour (if that) to read.  It was a sweet little story, but I have to say, I felt really sorry for Socks through the whole book.  I really even still felt sorry for Socks at the end.  So, this one tugged my heart strings, but perhaps not in the way Cleary intended.  I think children get something totally different out of this book than I did as a parent.  An interesting juxtaposition! 

25.  Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games)
If you have talked to me at all since December, I've probably mentioned how much I L-O-V-E-D the first in this series, The Hunger Games.  I tried to put off reading the second one but couldn't.  Loved Catching Fire too.  I loaned The Hunger Games to my mom - she returned it very quickly and asked right away if I had the second one!  The third one is in my stack and calling my name...  These books are different than anything else I've been reading in a long time - which is part of why they are just so much darn fun!

26.  To Bless the Space Between Us by John O'Donahue
To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings
This book was given to me by my sweet friend Anneliese (yes, the one I'm walking to see in Chicago!).  She wrote me a special note inside to say, "Happy birthday Brandi!  YOU are a blessing.  I just wish there wasn't so much space between us.  :)  Love, Anneliese"  I so treasure that!  I love the blessings included in this book, and the intimate life moments they represent.  Thanks so much Anneliese!  I loved reading this and will open it often for inspiration!

27.  Pendragon:  The Merchant of Death by D. J. McHale
The Merchant of Death (Pendragon)
Okay, this series is mighty popular with boys I know right now.  Taylor and his best friend Caleb both wanted me to read it.  It came highly recommended by these two readers I trust.  I love when they get into book conversations with me!  So - I'm sorry I say how hard I have found it to get into.  Maybe because I am neither a boy, nor am I 10 years old.  That normally doesn't stop me, but I think McHale hit his niche - and I'm not in it.  Taylor and Caleb love Pendragon - and while I don't share the same enthusiasm for the series - I share a lot of enthusiasm for them.  :) 

28.  Percy Jackson:  The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan
The Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 4)
THIS series - on the other hand - I can't get enough of reading.  The kids and I read this one (and the previous three in this series) together, and we have all enjoyed them.  Can't wait to read the fifth and final one soon!  We've been really spreading these out and taking our time with them.  Rick Riordan makes me laugh out loud sometimes.  I love Percy, Annabeth, Grover, and the other charcters he has created in these stories.  We all enjoy looking up the Greek stories later, and I thank Riordan for bringing these ancient stories to new generations in his unique way. 

Happy reading!  I'm already plowing into the  next reads - can't wait to share them with you as I reach my goal!