Sunday, January 31, 2010

January Challenge Status

My intention for this year is to take a look at the end of each month at where I am with my challenges. I'm running short of time - who'd have thought! - so this one won't be nearly as pretty and linky as I envisioned but it's a start.

I have two of twenty completed for this challenge. I actually have one more done that needs to be posted and another almost finished. My audiobook challenge is in good shape.

I'm at 5 of 26 on this one - well on my way to completion!

This one seemed so fun and easy - why haven't I read a single book yet? Part of it is that I have to go and steal them from Bookworm's room. I'm sure she has most of the ones on my list but she hates to part with a book. I'm going to check out her stacks as soon as I post this since she is conveniently out of the house. I will be searching for Judy Blume books - I have two on my list, Wifey and Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. These would count for bermudaonions mini-challenge for February!

I've got two under my belt for this one as well. I don't know that I ever declared my intentions as far as the level of participation so not really sure how to gauge my progress. Better get that figured out before next month!

I have a couple of other challenges I have intended to join - a historical fiction one that should be a breeze since I read one HF selection each month for the Facebook book club. And, also the People of Color challenge - I've already read two that would fit and after the recent blogging about searching out books on POC, I want to make an effort to read a variety.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver

From the Amazon product description: Clear-eyed and spirited, Taylor Greer grew up poor in rural Kentucky with the goals of avoiding pregnancy and getting away. But when she heads west with high hopes and a barely functional car, she meets the human condition head-on. By the time Taylor arrives in Tucson, Arizona, she has acquired a completely unexpected child, a three-year-old American Indian girl named Turtle, and must somehow come to terms with both motherhood and the necessity for putting down roots. Hers is a story about love and friendship, abandonment and belonging, and the discovery of surprising resources in apparently empty places.

I absolutely loved it! I have seen Barbara Kingsolver's name floating around recently because she just published a new book, Lacuna. Well, I have some catching up to do if all her books are this good because The Bean Trees was her debut novel and it was great. I had to get past the initial disbelief of - "nobody would ever just hand over a beautiful baby girl to a stranger" - but after accepting that (just say "It's fiction!" really loud), the rest was gritty and bittersweet - exactly the style I like. When I googled to find a cover image, I was surprised to see Sparks notes and other study guides. I didn't click on a one because I knew it would just point out all the pieces that I missed - the foreshadowing, the imagery, the themes...ugh, English 101. If I was reading this for a book group discussion, yes, those things would be important to me but for pleasure, all I need to know is that I liked it!

This book has a wealth of strong women fighting for what is right - a childhood free of abuse, immigrants rights, and marriage that is a partnership.

This book is my "B" book for the 2010 A-Z Reading Challenge. Click on the button to see my progress.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Cancer update #2

The MRI did show a spot in Dad's brain so last Tuesday was "Brain Surgery Day". It was a non-invasive surgery using a laser called the Gamma Knife and it went well. Picture a highlighting cap with a laser in each hole. The individual lasers do no harm to the brain tissue, but they are all aimed at one small spot. The power of the combined lasers at that one spot zaps the tumor - poof! (Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!) They did a higher definition MRI that day but it did not reveal any more spots in the brain so they were able to take that one out and maybe we are finished with the brain. (Did you get that David Sedaris reference?) Two days later on Thursday, he started chemo for the all the other spots - lungs, neck, windpipe. He was feeling OK Thursday night; I haven't gotten my Friday update yet but am keeping fingers crossed.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Life Strategies by Phil McGraw

From Dr. Phil's webstore: Whether it's a bad relationship, a dead-end career, or a harmful habit, Dr. McGraw's 10 Life Laws will empower you to take responsibility for your own actions and break free from self-destructive patterns. Drawing upon more than fifteen years of experience, Dr. McGraw explores each of the 10 Life Laws necessary to succeed.

I never watch Dr. Phil, I never read Dr. Phil, all I really know about him is that he was once on Oprah. But I was at the bottom of the audiobook barrel and this was what was left. (A situation I have since rectified with two trips to Barnes & Noble and a great win from a blog giveaway.) So I popped in Dr. Phil and started to listen. I had to get past an introduction that just seemed to be a self-aggrandizing "I'm so tight with Oprah" story. After the somewhat snake-oil salesman slimy feeling introduction, he started on his ten life laws.

Life Law #1: You either get it, or you don't.
Life Law #2: You create your own experience.
Life Law #3: People do what works.
Life Law #4: You cannot change what you do not acknowledge.
Life Law #5: Life rewards action.
Life Law #6: There is no reality; only perception.
Life Law #7: Life is managed; it is not cured.
Life Law #8: We teach people how to treat us.
Life Law #9: There is power in forgiveness.
Life Law #10: You have to name it before you can claim it.

It took me awhile to get through the book because my mind kept wandering to my own family and our dynamics and how his life laws applied and before you know it I would have to stop the CD and back up to get on track. I don't necessarily think that was a bad thing; reflection is the intent. I didn't gain any huge insights but a lot of it was kind of "uh-huh, yes, I see that happening" and knowing I am not alone always makes me feel better so that was good. My powers of retention are poor but I did have one nugget stick with me. It was Life Law #8 - We teach people how to treat us. This one spoke to me as a mother. An example, I complain about Tween's towels on the bathroom floor, but I don't call Tween in to clean the mess up. Instead, I clean them up and then complain about it. I am teaching Tween how to treat me and the lesson he is learning is "you'll have to put up with some whining but you can keep doing it". It's not a revelation of dramatic proportions but it is important. I need to acknowledge that I am half of every relationship and if there's a problem, I need to look carefully at my half and see what I am doing!

This book counts toward the 2010 Audiobook Challenge hosted by the bloggers over at Royal Reviews. Click on the button to see my progress.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance by Elna Baker

From the author's website: The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance is a coming of age story about Elna Baker’s experience as a practicing Mormon in New York City. Elna’s life changes when she loses eighty pounds and gets the sexual attention she’s always wanted…. only to discover that as a Mormon she can’t follow through. The book takes on identity, faith, sex and love as Elna questions traditional values in modern times.

I actually read this one back in November but missed posting it. Hard to believe becuase it was one of the books that most excited me in 2009. I loved it. Elna is witty and fun and irreverent but then, at the same time, her faith is important to her and she just can't shed it like she did the weight. I wish I had thought to write a bit sooner because I might have remembered some of the funnier details that gave the book such a spark; you can get a taste of her style at her website linked above if you read some of her blog entries.

As I read the book, I wondered what other Mormons would think of her candid observations and her finding the humor in her faith and her life. It generated a lot of discussion in the blogosphere like this post at Mormon Mommy Wars. Being able to eavesdrop on that conversation is one more reason to love the book bloggers!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Queen's Mistake by Diane Haeger

From the author's website: When young and beautiful Catherine Howard becomes the fifth wife of fifty year old king Henry VIII, she seems to be on top of the world. Yet her reign is destined to be brief and heartbreaking, as she is forced to do battle with enemies far more powerful and calculating than she could have ever anticipated in a court where one wrong move could mean her destruction. Wanting only love, Catherine is compelled to deny her heart's desire in favor of her family's ambition. But in so doing, she unwittingly gives those who seek to bring her down a most effective weapon, her own romantic past.

I wondered if I would like the book at first, the beginning chapters had more overt sexuality than I had anticipated. But as I went further, the story drew me in. I felt like it moved at a good pace; it never dragged for me and I kept wanting to know what would happen. Because I am new to historical fiction, I really didn't know how it would all turn out as opposed to more experienced historical fiction lovers who would probably know before beginning how it would end! I wanted to know how it turned out more out of curiosity about the events than because I particularly cared for any particular character. I found the characters and the life at court fascinating but not appealing; Catherine was interesting but I didn't like her, same with Henry. I wasn't rooting for any particular ending because I didn't connect with either of the major characters more than any other.

This book is my "Q" book for the 2010 A-Z Reading Challenge. Click on the button to see my progress.

This book also counts toward the Year of the Historical 2010 Reading Challenge hosted by lurv a la mode. Click on the button to see my progress.

And, it's the Facebook Historical Fiction Book Club selection. Oh my, I got a lot of mileage out of this one!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A-Z Reading Challenge 2010

I had a great time last year completing the 2009 A-Z Reading Challenge so I am happy to play along again this year. I'm sticking with what worked and just doing the A-Z by titles for a commitment to 26 books. If you want more information about the challenge, click on the button to go visit the challenge sign-up post at the dedicated blog.

Here's what I have read so far in 2010....
A- Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret. by Judy Blume
B- The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver
C- Confessions of an Organized Homemaker by Deniece Schofield
D- Daddy's Little Girl by Mary Higgins Clark
E- Endless Summer by Rosamunde Pilcher
F- The Full Cupboard of Life by Alexander McCall Smith
G- Green River, Running Red by Ann Rule
H- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I- I Like You by Amy Sedaris
J- The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler
K- Knitting by Anne Bartlett
L- Left to Tell by Immaculee Ilibagiza
M- Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
N- Noah's Compass by Anne Tyler
O- The Overlook by Michael Connelly
P- Paint it Black by Janet Fitch
Q- The Queen's Mistake by Diane Haeger
R- The Russian Concubine by Kate Furnivall
S- The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
T- Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
U- The Unnamed
V- A Virtuous Woman by Kaye Gibbons
W- World Without End by Ken Follett
X- I, Alex Cross by James Patterson
Y- The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
Z- The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman

Monday, January 18, 2010

Green River, Running Red by Ann Rule

From the author's website: In the most extraordinary book Ann Rule has ever undertaken, America's master of true crime has spent more than two decades researching the story of the Green River Killer, who murdered more than forty-nine young women. The quest to discover the most prolific serial killer in American history has been an intimate part of Ann Rule's life, with some of the corpses found only a mile or so from where she lived and raised her own daughters. She did not know the killer, but he apparently knew her and attended many of her book signings.

This book was a strange combination of boring and fascinating. The narrator was kind of flat, her tone monotonous. The subject matter is gruesome but even that becomes repetitious as he kills again and again and again - 49 times over. The pattern of luring the girls, killing them, and the body being discovered happening over and over had a numbing effect and the sensational became predictable. This series of murders happened around the time I was graduating from high school and going off to college. I assume it is a reflection of the self-absorption of that age that I have no recollection of any of it from the news but certainly it must have made national headlines.

I haven't read much in the "true-crime" genre. I am certain I would never have made it through this one in written form because there weren't any central characters to pull me in and make me want to continue. But I can listen to books I wouldn't have the patience to read because I spend so much time in the car and it entertains me. Listening to this one didn't unsettle me to the point where I was actually nervous or scared but it certainly wasn't pleasant. I won't be looking for any more of this type of story. But I'm an audio book junkie and if that's what I've got, I'll listen to it!

This book counts toward the 2010 Audiobook Challenge hosted by the bloggers over at Royal Reviews. Click on the button to see my progress.

This book is my "G" book for the 2010 A-Z Reading Challenge. Click on the button to see my progress.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey

From the author's website: The success stories speak for themselves in this book from money maestro Dave Ramsey. Instead of promising the normal dose of quick fixes, Ramsey offers a bold, no-nonsense approach to money matters, providing not only the how-to but also a grounded and uplifting hope for getting out of debt and achieving total financial health.

Does this just scream, "New Year's Resolution!"? Oh well, it's actually been a long time coming as we knew college for Bookworm was looming - time to tighten up and get serious. Dave Ramsey is an entertainer, the advice he doles out is littered with catchy phrases and folksy humor. This book outlines the steps very matter of factly; he lays it out quite specifically and does not want you to deviate from his plan. Interspersed are stories of families and individuals who have worked the Total Money Makeover and are now debt free. I did lose interest after the first few chapters because it will take us many months to get through those first few steps - we don't need to read about paying off our mortgage when we are still working on paying off our Disney vacation on the Visa card! But even though my heart wasn't into reading the last three or four chapters, it is written at such an easy level that finishing it up was nearly effortless. If you need a little kick in the rear to get started straightening up your finances, this book is a fun, easy read to help you do that.

This book is my "T" book for the 2010 A-Z Reading Challenge. Click on the button to see my progress.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Cancer update

This pretty white ribbon is the symbol for lung cancer awareness - I did not know that before, I'm learning all sorts of new things! In fact, my brothers and I are so curious that my dad calls us "the amateur oncologists"; we are all about the reading and Googling. You can tell from that comment that my dad's sense of humor is still in good shape. In fact, he is feeling good all over; he had aboslutely no symptoms before the diagnosis and now he still has no symptoms, so it feels somewhat surreal.

The real part is that he met with the oncologist, who scheduled a brain MRI to see if the cancer has spread to the brain (no results yet), and he met the chemotherapy providers, and next week he meets the radiation providers. So after the results from the MRI and second meeting with the oncologist (Wednesday), he will be ready to begin treatment.

I've been reading lots of non-cancer stuff too so will try to write those up over this long weekend. I'm not turning this into "The Cancer Blog" but at the same time, I want to update those are interested. Humor me - it's all a work in progress!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Left to Tell by Immaculee Ilibagiza

From the product description: In the spring of 1994, more than one million people were murdered in the Rwandan genocide. This is the story of how Immaculee survived certain death, along with seven other women, by hiding in a very small bathroom for more than 3 months. Day after day, for months, the killers would search nearby – gleefully chanting “kill them big, kill them small, kill them, kill them, kill them all!”

With uncommon sincerity, Immaculee shares with us her soul's struggle through disbelief to anger and rage and, ultimately, forgiveness. She is living proof of the power of prayer and positive thinking.

Oh my, there just aren't words to describe how reading about the genocide in Rwanda effects me. I have read about the genocide before, most recently in Tracy Kidder's Strength in What Remains, but it just doesn't get any easier. This book was especially gripping because it was a woman's memoir. Although the genocide was just as devastating to the male population, the women seem more vulnerable because they often were raped and tortured first. This one bothered me more than Deo's story in Strength in What Remains, is it because it was more horrific - can you put these horrible acts on a continuum and say this is worse than that? No, it's just that Immmaculee was a woman, like me, and a Catholic, like me. Her faith was a big part of the story as she relied on prayer to get her through. So it felt more personal.

The other half of the equation is the politics. I won't say too much about it because I'll just display my ignorance. Despite having read a few memoirs of survivors, I've never heard the other side of the story. The other side is one big "Why?". Why didn't the rest of the world intervene? Why wasn't the news media all over it generating interest and encouraging action? In this age of communication, why wasn't this stopped sooner?

I think this book is just right for the Women Unbound challenge. It depicts a strong woman fighting to survive and succeeding against all the odds.

This book is my "L" book for the 2010 A-Z Reading Challenge. Click on the button to see my progress.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Book List meme: 3 Book Titles That Made Me Laugh Out Loud When I First Read Them

Rebecca at Lost in Books has started a new weekly meme - The Book List. This is perfect for me because I love making lists of books. I am more likely to make a list for a challenge than to actually complete a challenge! So here it is - all lists, no pressure - just right for me.

Here's this week's list..
3 Book Titles That Made Me Laugh Out Loud When I First Read Them

Wallflower at the Orgy by Nora Ephron

When You are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris or almost anything by David (Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, Me Talk Pretty One Day) - he just does good titles!

We Thought You Would be Prettier by Laurie Notaro

Saturday, January 9, 2010

John Adams by David McCullough (Finally!)

From the Amazon product description: In this powerful, epic biography, David McCullough unfolds the adventurous life-journey of John Adams, the brilliant, fiercely independent, often irascible, always honest Yankee patriot -- "the colossus of independence," as Thomas Jefferson called him -- who spared nothing in his zeal for the American Revolution; who rose to become the second President of the United States and saved the country from blundering into an unnecessary war; who was learned beyond all but a few and regarded by some as "out of his senses"; and whose marriage to the wise and valiant Abigail Adams is one of the moving love stories in American history. that product description one really long sentence? The book kind of had the same feel for me. It took me a year to read it. It was interesting enough and pleasing enough but it also kind of melted together into one long sentence. Whenever I put the book aside (which I did many times!) I had to go back and reread for awhile to get my bearings back in the story. And I could open to any page from almost the beginning and feel like I had never laid eyes on it even knowing I had read it before. I'm certain that is the result of my lack of knowledge of history - I don't have enough pegs to hang these thoughts on - my schema is incomplete. Hence I am persevering through the U.S President's Reading Project - to learn about America's history.

I liked what I learned about Adams; McCullough painted him in a very favorable light. One lesson that stuck out for me was to choose the right person for the job. Adams had a hand in choosing George Washington as general and Thomas Jefferson to draft the Constitution. Those two have gone on to eclipse Adams in fame but they got their opportunities with John Adams' help.

Another memorable part of the story was John Adams' unbelievable "to do" list. He probably wrote the list as he was en route to the Continental Congress in early 1776. It includes amazing items like form alliance with France and Spain, establish coin and currency, and "Declaration of Independency". Makes my "buy stamps, wash uniforms" look beyond mundane! But it highlights that knowing what needs to be done is a key to success whether you are forming a nation or managing a home. I'll be implementing this presidential skill in the Round File household.

I was also struck by the beauty of Adam's letters to others. It makes me regret that we rarely correspond any more outside of e-mail or Facebook. Our generations to come won't have those tidbits to reveal us to them. A passage from a letter to Thomas Jefferson late in life was especially appealing..

The little strength of mind and the considerable strength of body that I once possessed appear to be all gone, but while I breathe I shall be your friend.

Finally, a piece of trivia...Adams and Jefferson died on the same day, the 4th of July that was the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. This was viewed by the people of that era as a sign from God that he supported their nation.

This is my third book for the U.S. President's Reading Project

Friday, January 8, 2010

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living Catholic Faith

I know you don't need a description for this one, but perhaps an explanation? Yes, I have been a Chicken Soup snob. I've made fun of how formulaic they are. I've looked down my nose at them as not real books. I think I may have said something like - tabloid-style sentimental junk.

But then I was stuck for a three hour shift in our religious goods shop and I picked this one up thinking the quick stories would be perfect for the down time between customers. And they were perfect, as long as the customer didn't mind me sniffling and crying as I completed their transaction. So I set the book aside during that shift but I bought it to read during adoration and I allowed myself a good wallowing cry once a week for the last few weeks reading these miracle stories. I guess there is a time for everything! And because the Chicken Soup industry is the Walmart of books, I must not be the only one who has succumbed.

If you go for the occasional dip in the soup, you may want to check out this giveaway at 5 Minutes for Books - three of them! Grab your Kleenex and enter!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Holiday Reading Challenge Wrap-Up

I signed up for the Holiday Reading Challenge hosted by all about n. Before December got derailed, I read two of the three books that I had hoped to - Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris and The Christmas Train by David Baldacci but I did not make it to The Purpose of Christmas by Rick Warren.

If you click on the GORGEOUS button above, you can see what everybody else read by reading their wrap-up posts.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Fall Into Reading Wrap-Up

I'm a little late posting, it has been a busy, bittersweet December! But I am ready to wrap up Fall Into Reading hosted by Katrina at Callapidder Days. You can see all the wrap-up posts if you click on the button.

Katrina asked a few questions ...
Did you finish reading all the books on your fall reading list? If not, why not? No, I got 6 of the 8 done so 75%, C! Why not? Just too many books in the world - my reading eyes are always bigger than my reading stomache!
Did you stick to your original goals or did you change your list as you went along?
I stuck with my list for challenge purposes. I did read other books but I didn't reinvent my list every week like I did in the Spring!
What was your favorite book that you read this spring? Least favorite? Why?
My favorite was the Guernsey book, I really wanted to run away and live with those people. My least favorite was The Brothers Boswell, it just didn't live up to my expectations.
Did you discover a new author or genre this fall? Did you love them? Not love them?
With the exception of Dan Brown, these were all new authors for me. I loved a couple of them!
Did you learn something new because of Fall Into Reading 2009 – something about reading, about yourself, or about a topic you read about?
I had never read a book set in Egypt before I read The Heretic Queen so I did learn a little bit about Egyptian history.
What was your favorite thing about the challenge?
My favorite thing is seeing what everybody else is reading and finding new books. I didn't do nearly as much visiting as I wanted. I had the goal of visiting every sign up post but didn't make it. With the reviews I just clicked on ones that caught my eye - there were too many to even think about trying to read them all!

Big THANK YOU to Katrina for hosting! The time you put in to making this a fun event for all of us is much appreciated.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

2010 Audiobook Challenge

The bloggers over at Royal Reviews are hosting the 2010 Audiobook Challenge. Click on the link or up on the button to see the challenge guidelines and to sign up. There are already almost 100 participants - wow! I am entering this one at the Obsessed level - 20 books. I am fairly certain I will hit that mark since I read 29 last year.

I'll keep up with my list here...

1. Green River Running Red by Ann Rule
2. Life Strategies by Phil McGraw
3. Paint it Black by Janet Fitch
4. The Overlook by Michael Connelly
5. Still Summer by Jacquely Mitchard
6. Cleaving by Julie Powell
7. Memorial Day by Vince Flynn
8. The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister
9. Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea? by Chelsea Handler
10. Middletown, America by Gail Sheehy
11. Call of the Wild by Jack London
12. Backseat Saints by Joshilyn Jackson
13. Dark Tort by Diane Mott Davidson
14. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenger
15. I'd Rather We Got Casinos by Larry Wilmore
16. World Without End by Ken Follett
17. Delivered From Distraction by Drs. Hallowell and Ratey
18. You've Been Warned by James Patterson
19. Point Blank by Catherine Coulter
20. The American by Andrew Britton

Saturday, January 2, 2010

December is finally over...

This has been my December, a roller coaster, and it has been a rocky ride. December started out fairly benign with just the usual whirlwind of Christmas concerts for the kids at school, parties for teams and classes and groups of friends, busy but a fun kind of busy.

Then Tween had an accident on his skateboard. He was just goofing around outside on our driveway and fell face first. We spent a day at the hospital getting facial x-rays and stitching up the lip. Then a day at the dentist and then the endodontist to assess the teeth. Verdict was no broken bones (hooray!), pretty cut up lip and mouth (will heal), and teeth are still a question mark (time will tell if they are going to stay put or not). Bad but not too bad.

Then we went to Disney for a weekend to use up the last two days on our five day tickets. We were able to make the trip even with an injured Tween because our dear friends who were going too included the endodontist! So we got to see Disney at Christmas - magical! They even made it "snow" on Main Street using bubbles. Fun, fun, fun - of the exhausting kind!

Our company coming for Christmas changed their plans. Disappointing, of course, but it allowed me on Christmas Day to put everyone back in the car and go to my parents for the weekend. My brothers were also there so my parents had all their children and grandchildren around the table. Both were delighted and my dad choked up with emotion as he gave the blessing. There are few times that we children who are so scattered can all be together so that was a fun day of the emotional kind.

Then came New Year's Eve day. Our company postponed from Christmas arrived and it was all cooking and eating and cooking and eating some more. Then I got the news that my dad, perfectly fine jusy days ago during our visit, had spent the last night in the hospital. He had started coughing up blood. My mother took him to the emergency room and the chest scan showed a large mass in his lungs. Other spots were found along his neck and windpipe. They can't meet with the oncologist until next week but things look grim. What all assume to be cancer has spread so much already that surgery doesn't look like an option but they will meet with a surgeon and get a more definite answer later. You know it is inevitable your parents are going to die but the reality that it may happen sooner rather than later is hard.

So I went and prayed. Our parish has twenty four hour adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. I went to the chapel, got on my knees, and asked God for a miracle. I've always prayed. I have never felt like I got a real answer to my prayers but I pray anyway - that's faith, right? Later that night I went to Mass, the evening vigil Mass for the feast day of the Immaculate Conception. The priest got up to do the homily and he picked as an introduction a talk about a saint, a faithful prayer, who prayed intently and without allowing distraction. That saint shares my dad's somewhat unusual name, Bernard. I can't help but feel that was a sign God heard my prayer. I'm not expecting a miracle because God's plan may be different from my desires, I'm not calling my mom to tell her and get her hopes up. But, I am hopeful and calmed and cheered. God heard me, as unworthy as I am, and chose to respond.

So, good riddance to December 2009, I am glad to be off of that emotional roller coaster. Hello to 2010!