Friday, May 29, 2009

Cinderellas and their Fellas at the Art Ball

Tyfani and Mike and baby Roman joined Mark and I at the annual Art Ball. It is one of the few times we can dress up and enjoy an evening of art and music and dancing. Ok, very little dancing from our Prince Charmings but we always have a wonderful time.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Manly Men building rooms in the basement

During the paint and pizza party, the manly team of Mark and sons (Mike, Chris, Jon) made a laundry room, bedroom and bathroom downstairs. They did electrical and plumbing, not just framing. It was quite a remarkable sight at the end of the day!

Paint and Pizza Party report

Anne, as you can see can use a paint roller and a crowbar when needed.

Our Paint and pizza party went very well on Saturday. You will notice that the shortest member of the team (Marie) is doing the really tall wall work. That takes skill and talent folks.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Book Look Review "The Associate"

“The Associate” – A Not so Great Grisham

I am a Grisham groupie, but his latest legal thriller has lots of legal without not much thriller. In “The Associate” Grisham writes following his tried and true recipe for success with the good guy who is a little David lawyer battling the Goliaths of big business, big law firms and other gigantic bad guys. You know like “The Firm” also by Grisham. I really like those types of stories – usually.

The main character is a young man about to graduate from Yale Law School. Kyle McAvoy has decided to begin his career by helping the rural poor and downtrodden and decline the big Wall Street firms who are offering him huge salaries and prestige. A shady character using the name Bennie shows Kyle a cell phone video from five years ago that could be evidence that he allowed a rape to occur in his apartment. This blackmail attempt works and Kyle finds himself trapped into working and spying at the largest law firm in the country for Bennie and his buddies.

We read a lot about the long torturous hours spent by newly hired associates at large firms. Their slavery has been well documented in many legal thrillers so there isn’t much new. Corporate espionage can be exciting to read about – but not in this novel. The young protagonist struggles against his captors but again, not too original. Young handsome Kyle, the author explains in the early chapters won’t have time to have any relationships with women, friends or even family. That conveniently excused a lot of the missing character development. Bad guy Bennie of course has no character to develop and we are never entirely sure who he is and who he works for.

In a very ambiguous ending we are left with too many questions to feel satisfied. Although we have ceased caring or even understanding the characters, it would have been nice to have a better wrap up for the plot. Did Grisham just get tired of writing the story or maybe run out of plausible solutions?

Since “The Associate” has a disappointing ending, an okay beginning and a tedious middle it isn’t really one I would recommend. I suppose there isn’t anything really terrible about it but there isn’t anything good either. If you are a Grisham groupie like me, just check it out at the library and waste a little time reading it – just don’t buy it and make the mistake of wasting both time and money.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A funny story about Gabe the Babe

Mariel said Gabe kept looking quizzically at the picture Alyssa put on the wall of his redecorated nursery. It is a temporary picture until we can get his photo there. It is just a row of fake mustaches that she had. Gabe furrowed his brow, pointed to Mariel's eyebrow and back at the picture. As she laughed she explained that those were not eyebrows but mustaches - of course he is too young to see the humor in comparing a mustache to a uni-brow... so Gabe just looked confused. When Big Papa (grandpa Vern) came over later he illustrated mustache for Gabe by pointing to his own and then the picture. Ah ha! Poor little boy has been laying in his crib for weeks trying to figure out what in the world that was framed on his wall!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

An excerpt from the newspaper story I just wrote

I am still writing for the weekly paper "The Foothill Breeze". My 8th installment in the History of Mapleton series was entitled: "Oh what did they do in the summertime?" and the elderly gentleman I interviewed had great stories to tell. I am posting an excerpt with a particularly funny story about one of his Sunday summertime escapades.

“One day me and Burt and Bruce decided to skip Sunday school. We had an old beat up pickup truck and the first thing that we did was drive back and forth past the church and banged on the side of the truck, trying to disturb the services. Then we went down to the cafĂ© at the corner and all ordered some hamburgers and pineapple milk shakes. We then decided to go up to Maple Canyon and dammed off a section of the river and started to catch fish in the stream. We also shot a pine hen and cooked it up. Since it wasn’t fishing season or pine hen season, when we saw the Mapleton policeman Fay Jensen coming we hid all evidence of the fish and pine-hen and then hid ourselves. Fay left and we were having a good old time until Burt remembered something he had to get back for. We piled in the old truck and started back to town. As we drove back we asked Burt what it was he had to get back for, and he told us that he just remembered that he had to give a talk in sacrament meeting that evening. When we asked him what it was about, he looked at us and with a straight face said “Keeping the Sabbath day holy.”

You can see why this is such an enjoyable writing assignment!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Book Look Review "Look Again" by Lisa Scottoline

“Look Again”

People always ask me how I can read a book every week. It’s a two part answer – reading has always been one of my hobbies and I read fast. I inherited an ability to read quickly and have refined the talent with lots of practice. Some people watch TV to relax but I read. Some people crochet an afghan but I read a book…you get the idea. When I checked out the latest Lisa Scottoline novel “Look Again” from the library, my fast reading ability came in handy. I confess that I often skipped through pages of mommy/toddler conversation to try and find something more interesting. Sometimes I was quickly successful; sometimes I had to skim a little longer.

The story begins when Ellen, a reporter for a Philadelphia Newspaper notices that the boy pictured on a missing child mailer looks like a twin to her adopted son Will. He also has a birth date listed that is close to Will’s. When she discovers that the lawyer who handled her adoption has died, Ellen cannot dismiss all the coincidences. She uses her investigative skills to track down the parents of the missing child in Florida. Timothy Braverman was kidnapped two years ago but his wealthy parents have not given up hope. They continue to search and have offered a million dollar reward for the return of their only child. Could Timothy and Will be the same boy?

Ellen suspects that although her adoption of Will was legal, there is a possibility that he is the missing Timothy Braverman. What should she do? What would any mother do? At first she tries to dismiss the nagging suspicion since confirmation could result in losing her son. Of course her desire to know wins out and we ride along as she discovers the truth. In the weeks of searching she also develops a crush on her attractive editor boss who is similarly attracted. A back-stabbing coworker plays her little part in the drama. We meet her widowed father and a perfect nanny that would make any working mother pay double. The cast of characters is small, but so is the story.

I am a huge fan of Scottoline so I enjoyed this book as a recreational read, but not as much as her past novels. Why? It was a bit too predictable, too unbelievable and too sappy. But I was still interested enough to keep reading and finish the book – reading more quickly than usual.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Book Look Review "Long Lost"

“Long Lost”

Harlan Coben is one of my favorite crime fiction writers. I enjoy his sense of humor and his smart-alecky dialogue. The main character, Myron Bolitar, reminds me of that charming guy in high school who could crack up the whole class with his witty comments. Of course the teachers weren’t quite as entertained as the rest of us but even they had to hide a smile occasionally. Listening, you always wished you were brave enough and smart enough to say those things. Daryl Yurek was our popular class clown and consequently the senior prom king. Just to give you one idea of a typical escapade, picture him parading a live chicken around Latin class while loudly conjugating the verb “to be”. Hard not to like a guy who can make high school entertaining.

Myron Bolitar is that class clown guy after he grows up. Not that he matures, he just grows older. He is a likeable, wise-cracking sports agent who plays detective when his talents are needed for clients and friends. When he gets a call from Terese Collins asking him to come to Paris to help her, Myron can’t resist. He remembers her although she disappeared almost a decade ago. Terese needs Myron to help her find the person who murdered her reporter ex-husband so the police will stop thinking she did it. There are plenty of plot twists to keep you up late at night turning the pages. Of course Myron needs his blueblood friend Win to save him from his many impulsive mistakes which usually result in death or disfigurement. Win is the kind of guy who throws money at a problem and solves it. The French detective Berland becomes an ally when terrorists and international thugs get involved. Add Esperanza, the lawyer who was once a professional wrestler and you have a crack investigative team on the case.

“Long Lost” is the latest in the Myron Bolitar series and one of the best written. Coben fans will again enjoy the story and humorous dialogue. It stands alone - although when you read previous titles off a list can you even be a qualified judge? Reading at least the first book “Deal Breaker” will give you a better idea of the characters and their back stories but it is not required. If you miss that guy in high school that made you smile at his inappropriate remarks, reading Bolitar dialogue will bring back your guilty pleasure. You’ll wish once again you had thought of that and been brave enough to say it while everyone in class laughed.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

My turn to show and tell

The little nursery before picture with Gabe asking for a new room

First after photo-white rhino did get to move into the book shelf

I love my new room - "gankyou" (thankyou) says Gabe the Babe

The reading corner with papa and baby bear sized chairs

Gabe helping us move the repainted dresser into his room

Tyfani painting the back of the shelves brown

Home makeover Gabe the Babe edition has already been unveiled on Alyssa's blog ( but I want to do my own show and tell also. Here are a couple of pictures of the process and the result. Some families of girls go shopping for fun, we like to redecorate!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Spring Break at the Ranch

Gabe at the window of the Pony Express station

Bedtime stories by Dawson for Haydon and Gabe

Wrestle mania with Gabe and Haydon

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Jonathan fishing across the pond

We enjoyed spending spring break at the ranch. The guys fished in the pond - a lot. They caught 14 fish the first day but since it is catch-and-release is there any chance that Mark and Jon were catching the same 2 fish over and over again? Gabe and I explored the Pony Express station and when the other boys came up we enjoyed stories, wrestling, playing ball and hiking. It was a great break from "city life"!