Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Great Read

I've read a few regencies in my day, but I'm not an active follower of the genre. Still, I love a good historical. And when an author can transport you into a time period, a reader gets full enjoyment.

Laurie Alice Eakes is a writer that does just that.

Her latest work, A Necessary Deception, tells the story of a young widow that extends her hand to an enemy that once befriended her late husband. As the back of the blurb tells you...

When young widow Lady Lydia Gale helps a French prisoner obtain parole, she never dreamed he would turn up in her parlor. But just as the London Season is getting under way, there he is, along with a few other questionable personages. While she should be focused on helping her headstrong younger sister prepare for her entré into London society, Lady Gale finds herself preoccupied with the mysterious Frenchman. Is he a spy or a suitor? Can she trust him? Or is she putting her family in danger?

But the above still doesn't provide enough of the action. When Lady Lydia Gale's gesture leads to
threats of treason and arrest as well as blackmail, the reader knows they're in for a story that will keep them on edge to the end.

For those of you that got giftcards for a Christmas and are looking for a good read, this is an inspirational novel that is well worth checking out.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Littlest Actor

Every family has a story that keeps on giving, one that will be retold for the rest of their days. This is ours. And while I have run it on previous Christmases, I hope you won't mind if I run it again. It occurred a few years ago, when we lived in Oregon. May you Christmas worship time be memorable to you.

Every Christmas Eve, my wife and I take our sons to the children’s service at our church. The service includes a kids’ pageant and our boys seem to pay closer attention than they do during the typical church service. Also, we feel that attending Mass on Christmas Eve provides a wonderful way to begin the holiday. After the service is over, we go out to dinner to the one place open on Christmas Eve, a Chinese restaurant.

While my wife and I believe every family Christmas is special, we cannot conceive that any will be more memorable than this one. It was to be a big night as our older son, Andrew, was finally old enough to participate in the Christmas pageant. He enjoyed two rehearsals and getting into costume, admirably playing the role of a shepherd.

Because church seating at Christmas is limited and we wanted to take pictures, we arrived almost an hour early to get a seat up front.We knew it would be difficult to keep our pre-school age son, Christopher, seated for the long service and the time before it. Therefore, my wife saved our seats while I played with Christopher and kept him entertained. When it was close to time, I corralled him and took him to our seats; he sat on my wife’s lap and anxiously looked for his older brother and the start of the show.

Just before the beginning of the pageant, the stuffy air in the crowded church became a little more unbearable than usual. As there were several babies in the immediate vicinity, my wife and I both thought one of them must have needed changing. Catching the odor, Christopher said aloud, “What’s that smell?” He turned around, looked at his Mom, and said, “That’s disgusting! Mommy, you stink! Mommy, go to the bathroom!”

We did our best to quiet him down, while the people around us were suppressing their laughter. He continued on, repeating the words, “That’s disgusting! Mommy, you stink! Mommy, go to the bathroom!” Eventually, Christopher quieted down and the pageant began.

After Mass ended, we walked to the car, buckled the kids in, and drove away. On the way to the Chinese restaurant, my wife and I discussed the incident. She realized that the words Christopher used in church were the same ones she had used with him during his potty training. Also, we were convinced one of the babies close to us during the service must have had a poopy diaper or probably just passed gas. We chuckled about it.

However, our little guy provided the last laugh. Overhearing the discussion, Christopher, with the smile that only a young child can produce, piped up with one more comment, “Oh, in church? That was me.”

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Time to Remember

I don’t remember when I learned to tie a tie.

I remember when I was growing up that I used clip-on ties for a while. However, at some point in my youth, my dad gave me a lesson that included half-Windsor, full Windsor, and several words that I don’t remember. I eventually decided on one method for tying ties and learned to do it quickly. It’s second nature now.

So what does that have to do with anything?

Last week, my older son’s middle school band performed at Midfest at the University of Georgia. It’s a prestigious honor to be invited. Schools send in their audition tapes a year in advance and only a select few bands are invited. In order to do make it, you need to produce several years of excellent students in addition to a winning tape.

We knew it was going to a special event, based on the prestige and the selection process the band had to go through just to get invited.

My mother and her husband even came down from North Carolina to watch it. My mother pronounced it worth it, the best school band concert she’d ever seen (i.e. better than mine when I was that age). I agree. The concert was absolutely phenomenal and I don’t just mean because I’m a parent or because the acoustics in a university concert hall exceed those in middle school cafeteria.

It was a special night and one as a parent I’ll never forget.

So what does a band concert have to do with a tie?

The band upgraded their outfits for the concert. For the boys, this included ties.

Last week, I taught my teenager how to tie a tie, passing down another father-to-son tradition. It felt like I’d reached another milestone in his growing up, though one I’d never considered before.

My wife and I will never forget the concert. We know our son won’t either.

But I’ll never forget teaching him to tie a tie.

I hope my son remembers it, too.

When he passes it down to his son.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Welcome to the Forest

We have five trees in the house.

I’m not exactly sure when this little forest started. It had to be after last Christmas. Last year, we had our one live Christmas tree on the first floor and then a smaller plastic one on the walkway between the bedroom and the loft that led to the boys’ rooms.

There must have been a sale last year.

When my wife asked the boys and me to bring the new trees upstairs from the basement, I wasn’t quite sure what she was talking about at first. However, I looked in the storeroom and there they were: three seven-foot plastic trees, still in their boxes. I don’t remember her picking them up last year. She may have just gone shopping, unloaded them herself from the car and stored them in the basement. Given my keen attention to detail, I never noticed them.

But they’re out now and they’re up.

We have our one live tree next to the stairs.

We have a snow-colored tree in our sun room, decorated in candy-cane-colored plastic ornaments.

We also have a typical green plastic tree in our den, next to our TV. It’s also right next to the window and on the same side of the house as the snow-colored tree. I’m sure the neighbors in the subdivision across from ours can see both trees through the woods behind our house, now that the leaves have fallen and cleared the line of view. Those neighbors may think we like to celebrate Christmas a little. We do

The boys also now have their own tree in their loft, decorated with sports-related ornaments. They put it up themselves and put all the decorations like they wanted them. My wife re-arranged the decorations after the boys went to bed.

We still have the small one in the walkway. This makes five. Plus we have several little trees on counters.

I have to say I like all the trees. I’ve always liked houses that displayed more than one tree. It makes a house seem more festive.

However, I can’t remember ever having conveyed that sentiment to my wife. She likes decorations, but she’s always been much more subdued than I am.

I’ll spend the rest of Christmas wondering how she knew.

And thankful that there are no trees in the bathrooms.