Blood, Bones & Butter

If you like food like I do, then you probably search for cooking shows as often as you can.  The latest series I have become hooked on is The Mind of a Chef thanks to the hub.  When a female chef is highlighted on the series, my interest piques even further since, for reasons I can’t quite wrap my head around, female chefs are in the minority.

Gabrielle Hamilton, the chef and owner of Prune restaurant in New York’s East Village, was featured as I was binging on The Mind of a Chef via Netflix.  I found myself intrigued at the allusions to her past in the series, but frustrated at the lack of full explanation.  I felt I needed to know more, so when I googled her, I discovered she had written a memoir (my favorite genre), Blood, Bones & Butter:  The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef.  Next thing I know, I am ordering the book online from my local library and impatiently awaiting the e-mail telling me my book is on reserve and waiting.


Hamilton begins her memoir retelling her unique, yet idyllic childhood born the last of five children, a childhood which revolved around food.  The daughter of a French woman, Hamilton recalls her mother standing in the kitchen with some stew or underutilized cut of meat simmering on the stove.  When her parents divorce, and she, in essence, becomes forgotten, Hamilton accurately describes how the fracturing of her family affects each child in the same family in a unique manner.  Out of this upheaval, though, Hamilton describes with such grit and honesty how she found her way despite the lack of familial support and eventually becomes the chef and owner of Prune and mother of two, a journey one does not want to miss out on reading.

So, time should be set aside while reading because this memoir will keep even the casual foodie up into the wee hours of the night and make one’s stomach grumble with gluttonous hunger . . .


Fish in a Tree and Yoga

When my fifth grader asks me to read one of her books, I know it’s going to be good.  Having purchased Lynda Mullaly Hunt’s Fish in a Tree at her school book fair last year, my daughter finally was able to read it this past fall and fell in love with this novel.  Despite its heft at fifty-one chapters, she finished in record time and advertised it at her book share in her classroom.  My daughter and I agreed this is a novel whose retelling should be reinforced with yoga.


Theme:  Accept and Embrace Others for Their Differences

Breathwork:  Balloon Breathing as found in Lisa Roberts’ Breathe, Chill

Warm-Up:  The Sshh Game as found in Lisa Roberts’ Breathe, Chill

Chapter 1:  In Trouble Again- Mountain Pose with Arms Outstretched to form a “Y” for Ally’s repetition of the word “Why?” on her paper.

Chapter 2:  Yellow Card- Knees-to-Chest because everything inside Ally shrinks.

Chapter 3:  Never up to Me- Legs-up-Wall because Ally just wants to disappear into the wall.

Chapter 4:  Bird in a Cage- Chair Pose because Ally spends a great deal of time sitting at the counter at her mom’s work.

Chapter 5:  Silver Dollars and Wooden Nickels- Roll and Stop! (Lisa Flynn’s Yoga for Children) because the reader is first introduced to Ally’s brother who looks as if he has rolled in grease.

Chapter 6:  Triple-Sided Coin- Hero Pose because Ally’s brother gives her amazing advice.

Chapter 7:  No Grandpas Here- Star Pose because although Ally doesn’t realize it yet, Mr. Daniels becomes a “star” in her life.

Chapter 8:  Real Trouble- Twisty Star because Ally does not yet know what to make of Mr. Daniels.

Chapter 9:  Bag Full of Nothing- Warrior 1 because we are all unique and should be proud of our differences.

Chapter 10:  Promises, Promises . . .- Child’s Pose because Ally thinks it would be easier if she could be invisible.

Chapter 11:  Scrambled Egg- Airplane Pose because Ally makes the comment that “. . . Jessica would follow Shay out of an airplane without a parachute” (62), and in this instance, it appears Ally would, too.

Chapter 12:  What’s Your Problem, Albert?- Pigeon Pose because Keisha notices Ally’s pigeon drawings.

Chapter 13:  Trouble with Flowers- Flower Pose because of the flower incident at the holiday concert.

Chapter 14:  Boxed In and Boxed Out- Crab High-Five because this is the first time a teacher has ever given Ally a high-five.

Chapter 15:  Ungreased Gears- Table Pose because Keisha invites Ally to sit at her table for lunch.

Chapter 16:  What I’ve Got- Cat Pose because Ally lies about having a cat.

Chapter 17:  Misfit Lunch- Table Pose because Ally invites Albert to sit with Keisha and her at lunch.

Chapter 18:  Truths and Untruths- Lotus Pose since Albert would prefer to be alone on a planet due to unkind people on Earth.

Chapter 19:  Not-So-Sweet Secret- Huddle Pose because Albert and Ally share secrets with each other and Keisha.

Chapter 20:  Is This a Good Thing?- Happy Baby Pose because Ally’s brother Travis is thrilled with his new-to-him car.

Chapter 21:  Butterfly Wishes- Butterfly Pose because the butterflies come to Ally at Shay’s party.

Chapter 22:  No Way to Treat a Queen- “P” Pose (Half Sun Salute, look up) for the color purple.  As Albert informs us, it used to take a lot of snail slime to make purple.

Chapter 23:  Words That Breathe- Candle Pose to represent how Ally feels Mr. Daniels’ understanding can be compared to his handing her a “flashlight in the dark”  (123).

Chapter 24:  Imaginary Hero- Hero Pose because Mr. Daniels asks the class to write about their favorite fictional character, someone they consider a hero.

Chapter 25:  Celebration or Devastation?- Chair Pose because Albert pulls his chair in closer hoping he won the Fantastico Poetry Award.

Chapter 26:  Stalling- Legs-up-Wall Pose to represent how Ally just wants to disappear into the bathroom wall after she wins the poetry award.

Chapter 27:  Half-Baked Afternoon- Cow Pose because this is the word Ally picks to make out of the cookie dough.

Chapter 28:  Deal of a Lifetime- Happy Baby Pose because Ally is thrilled when she realizes Mr. Daniels thought of her outside of class.

Chapter 29:  Fish in a Tree- Fish Pose and Tree Pose because “‘. . . if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life thinking its stupid'”  (159).

Chapter 30:  Miserable King- Chair Pose because Ally sits down with Mr. Daniels and learns how to play chess.

Chapter 31:  Lots of Ways Home- Mt. Pose with Uplifted Arms because Ally is “mostly filled with hope”  (167).

Chapter 32:  Screen Time- Warrior 2 because Ally’s mom says “. . . being a soldier’s wife means being strong for him”  (169).

Chapter 33:  Possibilities- Mountain Pose to mimic the red line drawn between the “M” and “P” in IMPOSSIBLE.

Chapter 34:  Birth of a Star- Star Pose because Keisha tells Albert he’s going to be a star one day.

Chapter 35:  A Picture Is Worth a Gazillion Words- Reclining Hero Pose because Ally thinks her hero, Mr. Daniels, betrayed her.

Chapter 36:  In the Game of Life . . .- Standing Forward Fold because Mr. Daniels apologizes to Ally.

Chapter 37:  A Chicken, a Wolf, and a Problem- Boat Pose because Mr. Daniels presents a problem to his students involving involving a boat.

Chapter 38:  Loser for President- Corpse Pose because Ally lies in bed hoping for sickness so that she does not have to attend school the next day.

Chapter 39:  To-Shay- Forward Fold because students fold their papers in half after they vote for a class president.

Chapter 40:  Tears of Different Kinds- Airplane Pose because Ally says she could “fly happy”  (209).

Chapter 41:  Not-So-Secret Letter- Staff Pose because Ally sits “. . . up straighter”  (213) feeling as if she has a place in the class.

Chapter 42:  The Gifts of No Excuses, Scotch Tape, and Antibiotics- Half Sun Salute because Mr. Daniels is in this position when he tells Oliver what a kind heart he has.

Chapter 43:  Set the World on Fire- Candle Pose because together Ally, Keisha, and Albert are going to set the world on fire.

Chapter 44:  Tales of a Sixth Grade Something- Humble Warrior because this is the first time Ally can remember a teacher saying he/she is proud of her.

Chapter 45:  My Brother’s Question- Bridge Pose because, perhaps, Ally can be the connection her brother needs to improve his own reading.

Chapter 46:  Flying Tigers and Baby Elephants- Airplane Pose because Albert compares Ally to a Flying Tiger.

Chapter 47:  Great Minds Don’t Think Alike- Gentle Seated Pose because looking from one end of the board to the other, Ally sees famous people who have dealt with dyslexia, too.

Chapter 48:  Oliver’s Idea of Lucky- “A” Pose (Triangle Pose) for Ally.

Chapter 49:  I See the Light- “Lightbulb Pose”  (Triangle Pose with Arms Overhead in a Circle) for Oliver’s “Lightbulb” joke.

Chapter 50:  A Hero’s Job- Hero Pose because Albert is a good friend.

Chapter 51:  C-O-U-R-A-GEnius- Join hands to show how we can all reach out and help one another just as Mr. Daniels reached for Ally, and she’s reaching for her brother, Travis.

Cool Down:  Seated Circle Squeeze

Guided Meditation:  While in Corpse Pose, have students imagine helping a fellow student in need.

Journal:  How can you help fellow students in need?

Gift “Thanks for being FANTASTICO!” cards.

Ruth and Naomi

The Bible story “Ruth and Naomi” is taken from Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling Bible Storybook.

Theme:  Kindness Towards One Another Counts

Breathwork:  Back-to-Back Breathing as found in Lisa Flynn’s Yoga for Children and Feel the Vibration as found in Lisa Roberts’ Breathe, Chill


Make New Friends, and Keep the Old” Girl Scout song

Begin in Easy Pose

Make new friends- Seated Gentle Twist Right

and keep the old- Seated Gentle Twist Left

one is silver-Lying Spinal Twist Right

one is gold- Lying Spinal Twist Left

a circle is round, and has no end- Wheel

that’s how long I want to be your friend- Child’s Pose

Candle Pose- Twin Flames*

Pose Series:

Here, I am having students work in pairs to reinforce the theme of Kindness Counts Towards One Another.

Candle Pose- Twin Flames*

Corpse Pose

Partner Sailboat


Huddle Pose

Owl Friends

Twin Dragons

Puppy Friends

Tic Tac Toe


Cool Down:

Legs up Wall

Human Zipper


Mantra:  I am breathing in God’s love.  I am breathing out God’s kindness.

Additional Options: 

Make Friendship Bracelets

Host a Friendship Potluck

Circle Squeeze- Students sit in a circle in Easy Pose.  With arms crossed in front of chests, they hold hands with neighbors on either side.  One person begins by squeezing the hand of another.  They then pass the squeeze around the circle.

Write positive notes to his/her yoga partner.

Trust Circle as found in Lisa Flynn’s Yoga for Children

Hannah’s Special Prayer

As a Kids Holy Yoga instructor-in-training, this is my first lesson sampled on my two daughters.  For those whom may be unfamiliar, Kids Holy Yoga is a combination of God’s Word interwoven with yoga poses to reinforce learning.  This balance of movement and reading is ideal for the reluctant reader as well as the reluctant exerciser and a medium truly loved by my two elementary-aged girls.

The story “Hannah’s Special Prayer” is taken from Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling Bible StorybookI am a fan of this Bible storybook due to the length of the stories which are brief, but informational.  My eight-year-old enjoys reading the stories aloud once for other Holy Yoga Kids students before we incorporate the poses in a retelling.

Theme:  God Answers Prayers

Breathwork-  Starfish Breathing:  This involves the use of a child’s fingers.  A student breathes in as he/she traces up a finger and breathes out as he/she traces down a finger.  We did breathwork on both hands.  I used this breathing technique to reinforce the use of our hands when praying.

Warm-up:  The Lord’s Pray with yoga poses (Kids Holy Yoga Manual)

Our Father- Mountain Pose with hands at heart center

Who art in heaven- Mountain Pose with lifting arms up towards Heaven

Hallowed be thy name- Forward Fold

Thy Kingdom come- Halfway lifted with hands resting on shins

Thy will be done- Plank Pose

On Earth- melt into floor

As it is in Heaven- Cobra

Give us this day our daily bread- Downward Facing Dog

Forgive us our trespasses- Warrior One Right

As we forgive those who trespass against us- Warrior One Left

And lead us not into temptation- Forward Fold

But deliver us from evil- roll up slowly to Mountain Pose

For Thine is the Kingdom- Mountain Pose with arms reaching up towards sky

And the Power- Mountain with arms reaching left

And the Glory- Mountain with arms reaching right

Forever and Ever- Mountain with arms reaching back overhead with a gentle back bend

Amen- Mountain with hands back at heart center

Both of my girls thoroughly enjoyed this sequence, and my youngest was quick to comment how she hears this prayer in church.  I think this will be a great mnemonic device so that they can eventually memorize and internalize The Lord’s Prayer.  In addition, I like the use of hands at heart center as a means to reinforce the theme of this lesson, God Answers Prayers.

Pose Series to accompany “Hannah’s Special Prayer”-

Mountain Pose with arms at heart center

Camel Pose

Child’s Pose

Warrior 1 Right

Warrior 1 Left

Right Side Triangle

Left Side Triangle

Chair Pose

Child’s Pose

Happy Baby

Tree Pose with cactus arms right

Tree Pose with cactus arms left

Hero Pose

Cool Down-  I read the “Jesus Calling” portion at this time.

Crocodile Pose right

Crocodile Pose left

Resting- We completed the Snow Globe Meditation found in Lisa Roberts’ Breathe, Chill.  I emphasized how the glitter were our worries and/or troubles.  We then shake our snow globe and watch the glitter fall to the bottom of the mason jar.  This reinforces the idea of giving our upset to God through prayer.


Conclusion- I gave each of the girls a small (50 cents for two) journal and told them they were our Prayer Journals.  I asked if each of us might write down prayer requests and praises, enough to fill the page.  Then, I asked if each student would like to share.  Not only were they happy to share, but they borrowed requests and praises from once another.  We then used these pages to compose a prayer together.  The goal is for each of us to fill out a page daily and then use the list for our prayer before bed.

Up the Ladder

I receive a lot of requests to review books.  Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to read them all even though I would very much like to find myself lost in books both day and night.  Donna Lee’s Up the Ladder:  Buddhism, Bikram, Bhakti intrigued me as it was presented as a woman’s spiritual journey up the ladder, or “‘The process of linking oneself with the Surpreme . . ..'”  (XI).


An interesting life which seems to go from one extreme to the next, the reader follows Lee from a seemingly loner, but not lonely, childhood to a teen birth to the human-potential movement to an unhappy marriage to a sighting of Lord Shiva’s bull.  Lee’s life is nothing if not fascinating, and she expresses her successes and failures in all aspects of her life throughout her memoir with much honesty.

Early on, Lee takes an objective look at her comfortable life with those seated around her at the dinner table and realizes “. . . the conversations are mean-spirited and the humor was not nurturing, but always at the expense of someone else”  (47).  Thus, shortly thereafter, Lee’s immersion into Buddhism began.  For me, Lee’s ability to identify the catalysts in her life and then act on them kept me turning the pages.

Years later, Lee opened her own Hot Yoga studio on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  Teaching two classes each day and one on Saturday to a constant turnover of students, Lee continued despite her exhaustion learning to “. . . show up when . . . [she] didn’t want to . . . [coming] to know yoga as a metaphor for our lives and at some point our lives become the reflection of our yoga”  (89).

When reflecting on a former romantic relationship and how painful it was to have to walk in front of his new home with his new lover, Lee finally came to the realization that “Love doesn’t go away.  Love exists, regardless of one’s state of mind”  (159).  In other words, Lee was now able to look upon that past relationship as a “loving expression”  (159).

Lee is the kind of author one wishes he/she knew personally in order to have a front seat to her life’s adventures, and her memoir probably deserves a second reading for a full understanding of her studies and chosen paths.  What I did wish she discussed more was her relationship with her children.  With a brief mention of tension with one daughter, it would have been interesting to know her children’s existence in Lee’s path up the ladder.



I Notice How AWESOME You Are

Despite the saying, words do hurt.  Believe me;  I know.  Unkind words hurt adults just as they can truly damage a child’s self-esteem.  For me, I am a lover of words, font, text, etc., especially when they are placed together in such a manner with the goal of improving someone’s day.

The other day while celebrating a dear friend’s fortieth birthday, we were perusing a local independent bookstore.  While there, I came across some business cards with the saying, “I Notice How AWESOME You Are.”  This, of course, brought to mind a business card I once received in my mailbox which was attached to some Girl Scout papers which I needed to process for our troop, not one of my favorite jobs.  Yet, I sat at my kitchen table that evening working on those papers with the hugest grin on my face.  That card with those words had made all the difference.  Such a simple ripple can result in quite a tidal wave of happiness.


Last night, volleyball practice began for my second through fourth-grade players.  Club Serve at Troy United Methodist Church teaches volleyball skills, but also focuses on serving others.  Each practice ends with a homework assignment in the form  of  a service project, one which is geared towards the age of the child.  I laminated homemade business cards with the saying, “I Notice How AWESOME You Are.”  After giving each player a praise card due to his/her amazing participation, effort, and encouragement of one another, I handed out an identical card.  This card is meant to be distributed by the player to someone he/she finds “awesome.”  I offered suggestions:  a sibling, teacher, coach, Grandma, etc.  I added it was okay to leave the card anonymously.  Immediately hands were raised asking some truly thought-provoking questions:

Is it okay to give it to my best friend?  Yes!

What if I took it in my lunch box and gave it to someone at recess?  Yes, as long as it’s okay with your teacher.

Which card should I keep, and which card should I give away?  You choose.

Can we give it to someone right here, on our team?  Yes!

Not ever knowing if an activity is going to be a keeper or a bust, I was thrilled to file this one under “keep.”  I’m looking forward to hearing to whom each player gave a card (part of the homework).  In fact, I was so encouraged by the players’ reaction that I decided to give an employee working in the drive-thru a card this morning while I was purchasing water bottles I had forgotten to pack this morning.  My daughter’s friend giggled and said, “That’s weird.”  You know what?  I’ll take weird.  Weird is good.

The Darkest Evening of the Year

I had never read a novel by Dean Koontz before, so I was intrigued when I found The Darkest Evening of the Year in a pile left for me by my voracious reader- (I don’t know how she puts the books away like she does) soul sister- friend.  The image of the Golden Retriever on the cover sealed the deal as I am a dog lover, especially of Retrievers.


So, reading through chapter one, Koontz had my attention, but not in the way I had hoped.  Tears were welling in my eyes at his description of dog abuse.  I was nearly “out,” so to speak, and onto the next novel, until my friend reassured me the novel does not focus on the abuse for long.  Whew!  Give me murders, natural disasters, disease, I can read on and on, but I cringe at even the mention of animal abuse.  Yes, I am the one who changes the channel when “that commercial” comes on because the one time I watched, I was wiping tears as I reached for the computer to search the inventory of our local humane society.  Ugh!

As for the book itself, its structure reveals each character’s perspective chapter by chapter which kept urging me to read further even into the wee hours of the night.  The protagonist Amy Redwing has such a passion for Golden Retrievers she has founded Golden Heart whose mission is to find forever homes for this particular breed.  Koontz detailed description of the behaviors of Redwing’s dogs is uncanny.  I laughed thinking of how my own Labrador Retriever acts in the same manner if not in a more untrained fashion.  Working on it!

The reader slowly learns along with her boyfriend Brian of her past which she has kept secret for nearly a decade.  As he reveals his own regrets, the truth of how the characters’ lives are entwined comes to fruition.

What made me sit up and take notice is that sprinkled throughout the novel, Koontz offers his outlook on life with some truly deep thoughts.  One such example comes at the conclusion of The Darkest Evening of the Year:

Too many dogs continue to be abused and abandoned- one is too many- and people continue to kill people for money and envy for no reason at all.  Bad people succeed and good people fail, but that’s not the end of the story.  Miracles happen that nobody sees, and among us walk heroes who are never recognized, and people live in loneliness because they cannot believe they are loved . . ..  (354)

The World’s Strongest Librarian

Heartbroken with my mother’s dementia and busy with my two kiddos off of school for the summer, I have struggled lately with finding a book which captures my attention.  While on vacation in Salt Lake City, Utah, though, I discovered that book I had been searching for desperately.

When out of town, I always like to explore the local library with my family, especially a library located downtown.  All of those books housed right in the center of the hustle and bustle of a city causes the goosebumps to rise on my skin.  So, while in Salt Lake City, my girls and I sought out the local library.

While at lunch, we asked the waiter to point us in the right direction of the city library.  I was bummed when while rubbing his chin he repeated my question back to me with, “Hmmmm.  Where is the local library?”  Doesn’t everyone know where his/her local library is and frequent it on a daily if not weekly basis?  I know the answer is “no,” but always advocate for an eventual answer of “yes.”

After too long of a walk for my arthritic knees, we arrived at a beautiful glass building with multi-levels.  We could barely contain our excitement as we entered the structure.  What was interesting to note is that to the left of the main entrance was a row of small shops, one being the library’s gift shop.  My daughters and I agreed we would definitely peruse this shop once our exploration of the library as well as the FREE art class offered by an instructor from the Utah Museum of Fine Arts was complete.


Two hours later we were looking at all of the literary offerings in the small shop.  What caught my attention was a book with the title The World’s Strongest Librarian with a subtitle of, A Book Lover’s Adventures.  Sold (!) even before the young woman working behind the counter said the author, Josh Hanagarne, was a librarian who worked in this very branch, the branch my girls and I had just explored.  If this wasn’t the perfect souvenir, I didn’t know what was.


Immediately taken with the anecdote offered in the Introduction, I giggled, cried, and learned while feverishly reading this book.  Hanagarne has such a humorous take on life which comes shining through in his detailed descriptions.  I could smell the stench in the library, hear the man calling Hanagarne a “. . . tall bigot” (1), and feel his exasperation when young people didn’t think reading was “cool.”  When he described how in one of his college English classes, students nearly came to “. . . blows over the implications of a semicolon . . .” I couldn’t help but think of my own English studies full of uncomfortable arguments in class, which I had to sit through while watching the clock, and laugh out loud.

With his words, Hanagarne caused me to fall in love with his devout Mormon mother, the person responsible for the author’s love of reading and his constant cheerleader through life, and his wife Janette, who stood by him through years of educational and career failings due to his Tourette Syndrome.

I found myself reading portions of the book to my hub and then later catching him reading The World’s Strongest Librarian on his own in our hotel room.

Besides a fascinating look into the life of a Mormon, a young boy suffering with Tourette’s, and a young man struggling to find his way in life, it is also a list of recommended readings as Hanagarne highlights books which have touched his life throughout the years. . . a definite must-read.




What I Told My Daughter

Perhaps the universe is trying to tell me something when a dear friend gifts me Nina Tassler’s What I Told My Daughter, and I also receive a copy in the mail to review.  So, read I did.  A work of nonfiction, Tassler along with Cythia Littleton act as editors to more than fifty essays written for their daughters by women who have created success in their lives.

What I Told My Daughter by Nina Tassler NonFic NG Read Mar 2016

The essay which initially drew me in was “Dear Eva” written by Rabbi Sharon Brous.  She was told at her daughter’s birth that “. . . having a child is like wearing your heart outside your chest”  (19), and I can completely relate times two.  Rabbi Brous continues with the importance of her daughter knowing “. . . one nearly universal thread, across ethnic, cultural, and geographical boundaries, is the oppression of girls and women”  (20).  Thus, having the knowledge which may not be so apparent in one’s own community is key to creating an inner need to want to somehow make a difference, even a little, in the world.

Author Ayelet Waldman in her essay, “Be Nice to Fat Girls,” further instills in her daughter the need to speak up for not only herself, but for others as well.  Because of hollering moral advice while running alongside her daughter Sophie’s bus years ago, Waldman’s daughter remembers to always be kind, inclusive, and generous.  When as a teenager, a group of boys in Sophie’s high school create a competition on social media to find the “ugliest” girl in their eyes to ask out on a date, Sophie heads straight to the administration “. . . demanding justice on behalf of this girl and all girls subject to this environment”  (37).

Most like to shy away from any controversy even if it is at the cost of a child’s well-being.  As Dr. Juliet Garcia discusses in “The Wall,” many people during the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing chose to run for safety as quickly as they could.  However, some chose to run towards the explosions in order to see how they could help others.  Dr. Garcia notes, “There is always much to learn from these moments, but chief among them is that the toughest battles in our lives are those we learn from the most.  They are the ones that make us surface our courage”  (72).  Amen, Sistah!

Dr. Madeline Albright in her essay “Role Reversals,” writes how the balancing act between work and home became more difficult as her career advanced, but “. . . the worst pressure . . . came not from my daughters but from other women”  (83).  In the same manner, I have felt pressure for choosing to stay home with my daughters.  After taking nearly four years to conceive and then spending time in the hospital both before and after the births of both of my daughters, I knew I wanted to savor every minute with my girls if given the opportunity.  While doctors still attempted to adjust my medications in order to control my blood pressure postpartum, I had people asking me, “When are you going back to work?”  My thought to myself was always, “Well, my baby just left the neonatal unit, and I need to make sure I’m not going to croak first.”

Further passages I have marked with Post-Its come from Sharon Osbourne in “Privileges,” with ” . . .  never have a sense of entitlement, [do] not judge others, be accepting, tolerant, and always open-minded”  (150).  Michelle King In “Simply Irresistible,” tells how her daughter stood up to a bully and what she learned from the experience, we “. . . need tough, self-confident young women willing to smack the bullies when they get out of hand”  (161).  And, Roma Downey’s “Love Is a Verb,” brought tears to my eyes while reading.  Downey summarizes her offerings:

The lessons learned are at times painful.  Loss is real, parents pass away, and hearts break, but the truth is that love never dies, not really.  Love lives on through us.  Not just in our memories but through our actions and the choices we make.  In the way we live our lives we can make a difference.  (212)

A thoughtful gift for any woman, not simply a woman with a daughter, or man, Nina Tassler’s What I Told My Daughter is a must read.



Invisible Monsters

When your BFF ends up reading two or three books a week, one ends up with stacks and stacks of books in his/her family room, bedroom, bathroom, etc.  In an attempt to work through my own spillage of generously donated books, I picked the top book on the pile, Chuck Palahniuk’s Invisible Monsters.  The cover was intriguing, an ambigram, and this is the same author of the Fight Club, so I thought it would be a good read.  I had no idea what I was in for . . .


In the opening scene, I am introduced to Evie whose blond/brown hair has been burned off, and all the clothing that remains on her body are the wire hoops from her wedding dress.  Visual imagery at its best.  What ensues is a complex, often vulgar and absolutely dysfunctional, tale of a brother, sister, her boyfriend, and her best friend.

Now this BFF Sarah mentioned above has introduced me to many a book I would never have picked up on my own, but loved at first read such as the Merry Gentry series by Laurell K. Hamilton (I love me some Frost).  When I asked her her thoughts on Invisible Monsters, she replied she had abandoned the read after a few chapters.  Ugh!  I wish I had known . . .  For me, though, I am unable to let a read go until completion.  I must see it through to the end as I always tell my students because you can learn from books you both like and dislike, and you never know how it’s going to end until it ends.

After wincing through several portions of Invisible Monsters and learning from others, Palahniuk definitely introduces his readers to cultures of people not necessarily readily known.  Likewise Palahniuk’s message about the emptiness of striving for idealized beauty and sacrificing all in the name of love came through loud and clear after a continuous roller coaster of plot twists.  A definite thriller of a ride which I now need some time from which to recover.