Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Happy 18th Birthday to Sarah L'il Beth!

Our beautiful daughter Sarah Elizabeth was received into our family on this day 18 years ago. 

From birth, she was such a uniquely, beautiful baby....all of the nurses ooh'd and ah'd over her...strangers always noted her beauty.

Named after a couple of ancient grandmothers on both sides of her maternal side and her Aunt Elizabeth, she always thought her name was

"Sarah Little Beth"

.......but of course, being little, it always came out lil Beth.

Congratulations, Sarah L'il Beth!

We love you!

And, we promise, we will let you maintain a part of your childhood for yours to come......we won't make you give it up yet!  ;)

This next year will be full of so many new experiences & adventures, just for you!

Have an amazing year!


we must not forget to wish my niece a


to Alexis!

We love you!

Have a beautiful day......and wear the one green, one purple stocking!

What a treat to have two cousins share the same birthday!

Love, Mama/Aunt Chari

PS:  As I write this, Maddelyn is fingering a lovely rendition of Happy Birthday on the piano.

Oh, and Alexis's dad and I share the same birthday, too!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

...the rest of my 2010 reading list.....

I wrote most of this so long ago for our 4 Real yearly reading list.......and as I do not want to waste all of this writing.........I will place it here for safe-keeping........ I am going to allow myself to "let go" of the need to polish it. Quite painful....but I am motivated.  :)

The book list covers from Easter 2010 till the end of the year........not sure if much is missing......


I guess I went on a Nicholas Sparks spree in the Spring........I think I needed some twaddle after an austere Lent.  ;)

True Believer.....fair...not really recommending

The Wedding...this was a good book. I highly recommend it for anyone who has been married at least ten years......to remind them how to "care for the marriage".....it is an excellent story....oh, and "sort of" a sequel to The Notebook....which is also a good story.....better than the movie that everyone seems to love......

A Walk to Remember......this was a re-read, to see if my teen could read it.....she could.....my older two had read it a few years earlier.......plus, she wanted to see the movie.......I had thought the writing was better...but, it IS a story from a teen's POV.....the book is so much more than the movie....much better. It is a beautiful story...but the writing is only fair. Still, worth the read.

The Last Song.........my dd and I had got stuck watching this movie on the big screen when we went out of town for a medical procedure......everyone in the movie acted well except that ol' Miley Cyrus....ugh...she is unattractive, has too deep of a voice to be pleasing to the ear and is a mediocre actress.......I sure hopes she improves if she is going to continue to be given parts! Blech. This story was originally written as a screenplay so Cryus could have a movie to do. The book is better than the movie....but not necessarily worth reading unless you have nothing else.

I wonder if The Last Song was inspired by his sister's life....... cannot remember. Or maybe it was A Walk to Remember........in either case, she died young, of cancer.

Dear John........I read this because I wanted to see the movie. The book is way better than the movie. I think if you have an autistic child....you might enjoy this a bit more......because of the way autism is portrayed.

I did not realize that Nicholas Sparks was a Catholic......that was interesting to discover. He does not seem to use it much in his writings. He had quite a few tragic incidents in his life. That might make him more compassionate than the usual guy. I just wish he would write more happy endings.......  :)

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Hertzberg & Francois......we have been making this bread for at least a year.....based on an article...it was delightful to read it for real.  It provided a bit of extra background on the bread-making.  MMMMmmmmm.  Do make some of this bread, if you have not already.  You can find the recipe here.  It really helps to have a baking stone, though it can be done without.......but it just is not the same.  I had borrowed it from the library...but my friend bought it for me for my birthday....so now i have my own copy!  She got me the second book for Christmas.....it is for "healthy" breads.
How to Say it to Boys: Communicating with Boys to help them become the best men they can be by Richard Heyman, Ed.D.........could be useful raising boys...things to think about anyway. Secular.

Sandy: The True Story of a Rare Sandhill Crane Who Joined Our Family by Dayton O. Hyde........I loved this book. I am one of the strange people who loves to read true natural history stories. With the sandhill crane as my favorite bird.......it made it even more fun.....plus, it took place just north of here.

My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult.....I was intrigued by this when I first saw it released at Border's.........then, when I saw it was a movie.......I remembered that I wanted to read it. It was well-written and a story with some serious issues to think about. Very emotional. Now, to remember that I want to see the movie.  ;)

The Restless Flame by Louis de Wohl.......I read this while I was reading Saint Augustine's Confessions.......just to have a basic story-line to follow. Whenever I read something crazy Augustine had said or done........I refused to believe it was true......the author must have made it up......only to find it later in The Confessions....and that it was true. Excellent story....as are every other de Wohl I have read.

1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die by Peter Boxall..........I looked at every page. I read some. I do not agree with all of the choices. And, though I have read 1000's of books in my life.....I have only read 50 of these.......that is, when I finish the last of The Confessions and Walden. ;) This is where I found the inspiration to read The Betrothed. I guess that would make my list at 51 then........though I have quite a handful on my to-read shelf. I used this book to help create the girls' World Literature reading list.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.....a re-read because our library was having issues and I could not stop thinking about it.......it was followed by a blog post.....

The Story of the World's Literature by John Albert Macy (1925) I skimmed a lot of it. It was an old volume I found at my library. I want to read all of it some day.

Mark Twain's first published book: The Innocents Abroad......I loved this.......it is the main reason I did not get much reading done this year, in the number of books.....it was quite the tome......of course, it resulted in a blog post.

The Last Dive: A Father and Son's Fatal Descent into the Ocean's Depths by Bernie Chowdhury .........this accidentally made it into my library bag.......by the librarian. I was skimming it and ended up reading most of it. I learned so.very.much about the science of diving. I am glad to have read that and now am 100% sure that I or my children still under MY care, will never be diving. The writer did an excellent job of telling the story, including a lot of science to satisfy me.  :)
I think there is something else......but perhaps it is only stuff I was reading through to this year.

Okay....that's it.......now I can be caught up.  Well, I guess I should go track down the books I read before Easter.  Then...this would actually be my reading list of 2010.

I think I may start keeping track on my blog of my reading for the year.........we'll see. I will have to figure out the best way to do so....



Saturday, February 5, 2011

Expanding my literature horizon........

I recently finished reading "the most famous and widely read novel of the Italian language."

I am so very excited to have accomplished this! 

(Hmmm......that inspires me....perhaps I could read the "most" of every language.....I wonder what those books could be......leave a note in the comment section if you are aware of specific titles)

So.......what book did I read, you ask?

En Italiano:              

I Promessi Sposi

….....or, if you prefer, en Engles:          

The Betrothed

by Alessandro Manzoni

It is odd, but when I finished, I could not decide how I felt about it. What would I say? Could I recommend it? Did I enjoy reading it? Did I learn from it? Should I read what was written about it on the Internet to decide?

I knew Willa was going to ask me about my opinion.......I was thinking, thinking. I could not part with the book.....I still had it two weeks later, borrowed from the library. There was something precious about it.....even if I could not name it......and I was not yet ready for that to end. If I let the book go, I would have to admit that I must move on.

I really want someone else to read it....so we can talk about it. I have not found anyone else who has read it, yet. I have decided that Willa must read it. :)   (She has, since I originally wrote this....we just have not found the right moment for discussion.)

Ultimately, I have decided that I DID enjoy it. I relish my memory of it immensely. It was a bit of work to read through......especially because the author seemed to need to give much background info for each new thing brought into the story, whether it was about laws, history, the plague, a specific person’s back-story. This created many breaks in the story....reminding me of the style of Victor Hugo with Les Miserables.

(Hey!  Do you think Les Miserables is the most widely FRENCH novel of all time???  If so, I can check that off my list!  And what about War and Peace???  Does that count for Russian?  I hope so!  I guess I need to get that Don Quixote read...I only made it 50 pages last year before I got distracted by Lent.  Do you think that would cover Spain?)

A little background info on the publication of this novel:

Originally published in 1827, the author, Alessandro Manzoni, re-wrote and published it a decade or so later because ........
“The age-long dispute as to which dialect should be used as the standard language of Italian prose engaged the interest of Manzoni in his later years; and, becoming convinced of the claims of Tuscan, he rewrote the entire novel in order to remove all traces of non-Tuscan idiom, and published it in 1840. This proceeding had the effect of rekindling the discussion on the question of a national Italian literary language - a discussion which still goes on. Along with the revised edition of "I Promessi Sposi," he published a kind of sequel, "La Storia della Colonna infame," written more than ten years before; but this work, overloaded with didacticism, is universally regarded as inferior. Both at home and abroad, Manzoni`s fame rests mainly on the novel here printed, a work which has taken its place among the great novels of the world, not merely for its admirable descriptions of Italian life in the seventeenth century, but still more for its faithful and moving presentation of human experience and emotion.”

A couple of quotes from the book.......

The first is probably the most often quoted:

“When a friend, then, indulges in the joy of unburdening a secret on to another friend's bosom, he makes the latter, in his turn, feel the urge to taste the same joy himself. He implores him, it is true, not to tell a soul; but if such a condition were taken absolutely literally, it would at once cut off the flow of these joys at their very source. The general practice is for the secret to be confided only to an equally trustworthy friend, the same conditions being imposed on him. And so from trustworthy friend to trustworthy friend the secret goes moving on round that immense chain, until finally it reaches the ears of just the very person or persons whom the first talker had expressly intended it never should reach.”

"After a long debating and searching together, they concluded that troubles often come, yes, because we've given us a cause; but that the most cautious and innocent conduct isn't enough to keep them away; and that when they come, with guilt or without guilt, the trust in God sweetens them, and makes them useful for a better life. This conclusion, although found by poor people, has seemed us so just, that we have thought to put it there, as the juice of all the story." (Second-last paragraph)

You can find the complete text online.

I love this review by Edgar Allen Poe. He uses the majority of his words praising and comparing the author to others.....but barely spends much time actually discussing the novel itself. He published the review in 1935, before the final presentation of the novel had even appeared.

This is so cool! A “map” of where the chapters take place.Check out the “Categorized Markers “on the left side of the page. Click on number 14 for a gorgeous view.

Of course, the link at Wikipedia will tell you much about the author and his novel.

DO NOT FOLLOW these links below, if you have yet to read the book, and plan to do so. There are spoilers present.

This link is mostly useless and I do not agree with their take on the descriptions of the characters, but there are four books listed at the bottom of the page that look good for further research into Manzoni.

This brief literary note has excellent insight in comparing the two main priests in the story, though I disagree with calling Don Abbondio's qualities "almost evil" as I do not believe the priest was "evil" at all....but simply self-centered in his protection of himself. And very naive as well as simple-minded.

Now, a few weeks later, I can say that I have fallen in love with this novel. While occasionally a bit difficult to get through, it is a truly lovely story. When I began the novel, I had no idea how beautifully Catholic it was going to be. The primary characters maintain their faith through so much hardship. I was so surprised by some of the history. I know more than I ever thought I wanted to know about the Milan plague of 1629. Manzoni creates a fascinating window to the time period of 1628-1631. It was just like being there. The pictures he has drawn of the characters are so detailed, and those details so crisp, you feel that you know each as well as you possibly could.

Though he was a side character, he was most important, and probably one of my favorites: Cardinal Federico Borromeo, cousin to Saint Charles Borromeo, with whom many of you probably have more familiarity. The Cardinal was so good and so wise, I could not help myself in my adoration. He was well-educated and created a library or two, including the first public library in Europe (and this in the 1600’s!).......qualities I also find endearing. ;) Do follow the link on his name to learn more about him.

A few words from what the online Catholic Encyclopedia has to say about the good Cardinal:

"He was one of those men rare in every age, who employed extraordinary intelligence, the resources of an opulent condition, the advantages of privileged station, and an unflinching will, in the search and practice of higher and better things."

In The Betrothed, the Cardinal is involved in a miraculous conversion. He is so kind to the poor and the plague-infested. I love this man. Or, the idea of him. I intend to spread word about him.

The motivation to read this novel came when I discovered it listed in a book of 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. I found it on the shelf at the library when I was doing some curriculum planning. I placed it on the girls’ World Literature list to cover Italy....but I wanted to pre-read it first.  I am so grateful for the experience.  All of my kids will read it, in their last year or two of high school.  It is "clean and safe" book, but you need do need to be a strong reader, as well as a persistent one.  If your kid can handle Dickens, they can handle this.  :)

I need to get my two graduated kids on it soon.  Perhaps in the summer, when they are not reading such heavy literature already......since they both are basically "majoring" in literature at school!