The Butterfly Garden: A Memoir by Chip St. Clair

This was our book club pick for December, which we met for last night, which I did not read in time. But that’s ok. Our book club leader lent it to me last night, and I finished it this morning. It was a fast read, and very intriguing so I got through it quickly. In fact, last night I couldn’t put it down and stayed up way too late reading!

Just as a warning-it’s horrifically sad. This child is abused. Emotionally, physically, sexually, verbally. It’s awful.  I found it so inspiring to hear some of what this man suffered as a child and to come through it with such a sense of purpose in life really speaks to his personal inner strength. This book is not for the faint of heart, but it’s a gripping story and there’s a lot of mystery and unanswered questions to it too.  Overall, I definitely recommend it, but make sure you have a solid block of time because once you start you won’t want to stop!

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Sigh…

It’s gotten to that point. You know, that point of the year when I spend all my waking hours dreaming of beaches and sunshine, hot weather, and running. Sigh…

It’s also that point of the year when my blog becomes whiny because all I do is talk about beaches and sunshine, hot weather, and wanting to run more. See? Sigh…

In other news, I’m reading Playful Parenting by Lawrence Cohen and I’m really enjoying it. It shall officially be my next read in my Reading in 2010 collection.

My, my wasn’t this short and sweet? Well, it was short, but I’m not so sure about sweet. Sigh…

A good run in January? How can this be?!

I’ve been in a sucky mood lately and I think the underlying reason is that it’s that point of the winter when I’ve been stuck inside too long. Happens every year. Call it seasonal depression (maybe it is), call it me being a biotch (maybe it’s that too). Whatever it is, it happens every January-February because it’s too cold, too cloudy, too windy, and I can’t run outside. So, imagine my delight when last night, upon arriving home, I realize that there’s a warm wind! And the air, while cool, wasn’t cold. In addition, Kevin and Sophie had some business to attend to with Dante so I was home alone for the time being. I thought to myself, I should go running RIGHT NOW. And so I did. It was wonderful! I felt great. Surprisingly, I was able to maintain a great pace. On the second time around I stopped by Kara’s and she did a lap ’round the apartments with me. On a whim!

It’s so amazing what running and the outdoors does for my mood. Once again confirmation that I wasn’t made to live in Michigan. Sad really, since my whole family is here. I go in spurts thinking about this-thinking that moving somewhere south is really right for us and fits our personalities. But then I think about my parents living here and Sophie growing up and not seeing her grandparents very often, which makes me extremely sad. I don’t know what we’ll end up doing. We’re giving ourselves a few years. Nothing needs to be decided now. I just can’t handle winter much past December. Yuck. Turns my heart to ice. And I hate that.

I guess the only thing I can do to combat that is to take the little opportunities that I can to run outside. It’s vital!

10 Months old!

I’m so proud of my big 10-monther! Double digits. Wow.

Sophie is crawling like a pro, pulls up to her knees and occasionally pulls up to stand, says “mama”, “dada”, “tick tock”. She can point to a clock if you ask “where’s the clock?” She also points to her hair and belly when asked and claps all the time. She’s been doing really well feeding herself Cheerios, cheese, lunch meat, and bits of whatever we’re eating. She also loves yogurt and applesauce and we’re working on using a sippy cup.  She’s very talkative, social, cuddly, and happy.

Keep on growing, Sweetie!

Reading in 2010: The 19th Wife

Notice that shiny new tab at the top of my blog? Check it.

If you know me (and I think most of my readers do :)) then you may (or may not?) know that I enjoy three distinct types of subject matter when it comes to books: Chinese adoption, the Holocaust, and polygamy. I know, it’s a strange combination, but that’s just how I roll.

Anyway, I’d like to introduce you all to my first full read of the year-The 19th Wife.

As you may (or maybe not?) have guessed, this one is about polygamy. It’s two stories in one -my favorite kind! First, it’s the story of a teenage boy who is trying to help his mother clear her name. She has been arrested for the murder of her husband. She was his 19th wife-living in the polygamous fundamental Morman community of Mesadale, UT. This part is a regular who-done-it murder mystery. Secondly, the story is a memoir of Ann Eliza Webb Young, the 19th wife of Brigham Young. Actually, by true counts she was probably more like #50. Crazy. She divorced him and was instrumental in getting the United States government to make polygamy against the law. Also, thanks in part to her efforts, the Morman church officially changed its stance on polygamy, which led to the split between the fundamentals and the main Morman church.

Overall, I liked the book. I was much more intrigued with the memoir section than I was with the murder mystery. At points, I felt like the present day story was getting in the way-I just wanted more of the historical. But, in the end, I could see how they fit together nicely. I read all the author’s notes at the end too. The entire book is a work of fiction, although the author did a countless amount of research and reading on Ann Eliza and tried to accurately tell her story. Ann Eliza’s story also ends in mystery-although once a very famous nationally-known speaker, no one knows what happened to her. Perhaps she was murdered by Brigham’s men, or perhaps she died of old age? No one, not even her sons, know what happened to Ann Eliza.

On Marriage

I haven’t done a real post for awhile-you know the kind. The kind where I share my deepest thoughts, concerns, hopes, and dreams. Well, looks like today is your lucky day.

There’s a picture on my desk at work of Kevin and I on our honeymoon. It’s one of those close-up pictures taken by one of us reaching forward and turning the camera around. I’m sure you have a million of such pictures of you and your boyfriend, or best friends at the prom. You know the kind. Anyway, here in this photograph we were in the Smokies, probably about to embark on a long hike. Little did we know then that we were embarking on a real adventure-not a hiking adventure, but a real adventure-life together! Well, I guess we did know that our life would be an adventure, but never could we have imagined how beautiful our baby would be or where we’d be now, or where we will be in 10,20, 30, 60 years. You see? We made a good decision to get married and all we can do is pray that we continue to make good decisions together for the rest of our lives.

Maybe this concept doesn’t seem so deep to you. I mean-the concept itself is simple. Make good decisions. Together. Make good decisions together. It’s not rocket science. The implementation of the concept however, trips a lot of couples up. So many couples find themselves making decisions apart. A little independence here, a little lack of communication there and you’ve created distance. A little distance isn’t the end of the world-it can easily be zipped back up and mended, if it’s caught in time. But the problem with a little distance is that it can very easily lead to a whole lotta distance. And the problem with a whole lotta distance is that once you realize that there’s this wide chasm between you and your spouse it’s practically too late to be restored. What am I saying?

I’m not talking about myself and Kevin here. But we’re (together) in the process of watching a marriage fall apart. It’s awful. Secrets, lies, betrayals, years of loneliness and depression. Like I said, it’s awful.

What we’re learning: As awful as it is-as painful as it is to watch-there’s nothing we can do for them. All we can do (for ourselves) is squeeze out every lesson from this experience that we can. So we’re making sure that we stay connected. We talk about our days, even if nothing particularly exciting happened. We listen to the other, even if our spouse has nothing particularly exciting to say. We are intentional about doing things together, even if they are not particularly exciting. See a pattern here? That’s why our “hot dates” currently involve grocery shopping on Sunday afternoons, cooking dinner together, crawling around on the floor with Sophie. It’s in the ordinary life that love is strengthened.

I’m not some marriage expert (uh, duh, I’ve only got 2+ years experience) but I have seen some great longstanding marriages in action (or inaction-it’s not all about action). My parents, for one. Both of my sets of grandparents for some others. We’re talking 60+ years of marriage here folks-happy marriage. They know the secret. I really believe that the secret is this: You stay connected through everything. Boring times, exciting times, no matter what. You’ve committed to spending your life together, so spend it together you shall! This doesn’t mean that you can’t have alone time, or spend time with your friends. If anything it validates that time, because it gives you something meaningful to share with your spouse.

Right now I’m reading The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff, the synopsis of which I’ll save for my book review. But suffice to say-the topic of marriage has been on my mind.

For my married readers: How do you stay connected to your spouse? How have the different marriages you’ve observed in your life helped you learn how to be a better spouse?

Funnily enough, I didn’t start out this post to write about this at all. I actually was going to write about how God has been teaching me lately. Funny, huh? Perhaps this post is more of me letting go and writing what God had laid on my heart to write (unbeknown to me until right now). So, hopefully this was an encouragement to someone, maybe even me.

P.S. BIG thanks to Melanie for awarding me the Lemonade Stand Award! Everyone should go check out her blog-it’s great!

This is a new year.

First, I must a post picture of Sophie and ner new favorite toy-the Fridge Farm! If you’re looking for her, Sophie will be parked in front of the refrigerator-tending to her yellow duck, pink pig, blue sheep, and orange horse!

Well, I go back to work tomorrow. All of us return to our normal schedules. It’s been wonderful having Kevin home so much and we kept Sophie home from daycare 3 out of the 4 days last week. Monday my parents watched her because I had an all-day indoor tournament in Novi and on Wednesday Steph and Mom came out. Kevin didn’t have to work on Thursday so we kept her home with us just because. It’s been great.

We spent New Year’s Day at my parents house, surrounded by family. It was great-we played Settlers (Kim and Bryan had an expansion pack so lots of people could play) and honestly, Kevin was in heaven. A full day of Settlers-yes please! Of course, we had true New Year’s babies this year! Kevin found this “tradition” to be totally strange-but I myself have been known to grace place of the New Year’s baby at the robust age of 5! Here they are!

Me and Sophie, Baby Allison and Kim)

I cannot get over how much of a giant Sophie looks next to little Allison. Of course, Sophie is 5.5 months older so she certainly should be much bigger, but there are very few kids that Sophie is larger than. She’s a tiny peanut! Luckily, we were using our cloth diapers on this day out so the babies could have matching bums. I know, I know, we’re weird. Get over it.

Sophie has been taking off in so many ways! First of all, she’s crawling and pulling up on everything (mostly to her knees, sometimes to her feet.) She responds to directions like “Clap” or “Touch your HAIR” or “Touch your BELLY”. We just taught her belly yesterday. I asked her first thing this morning where her belly was and she patted it. It may sound trivial, but we are rejoicing over every little thing-she’s so smart and is learning so quickly.  I guess she actually qualifies now as a pre-toddler. I’ll blink and she’ll be a pre-teen. Yikes! No blinking.

Kevin and I have never really made any resolutions in the past. But this year, he has resolved to lose 30 lbs and run a marathon (Detroit Marathon). I’m resolving to run 2 Halfs-the Trail Run in Dexter/Pinckney in April and the Detroit Marathon in October. Kev is also planning on running the Trail Run Half. Big goals! I figure if I can find time to train for a 30K with a child under 5 mo. (like I did this past year), then I can certainly do it with a child that is 11+ mo. I start my training the beginning of February. Sophie’s resolutions include learning to walk, talk, eat full solid food meals, and other normal little kid stuff 🙂