Friday, July 27, 2007

A Tea Party

My son has Asperger's Syndrome, which is a form of high-functioning autism. It is very different than what you would typically think of. He's completely verbal, has a very high IQ, but has difficulty with social interactions with peers and social skills. A lot of people say Bill Gates has Asperger's. My son is seven years old and is a complete delight, but we do have certain challenges with him.

There is an agency here in San Antonio that I have been working with for several months. It is called Any Baby Can and their motto is reaching families facing Autism. Well, today they sponsored a tea party for moms with kids who have autism or Asperger's. It was such a delight. I didn't have any tea, but there were yummy sandwiches, deserts, pasta salad. We were all given fancy hats, a gift bag with lotion, door prizes. It was nice to meet other moms who are going through the same thing and talk about our challenges. It was great just to take a time out from everything.

They also had child care and fed the kids Wendy's. Any Baby Can has an amazing playroom with tons of toys, great books, an outdoor playground. They had a bunch of volunteers come in. I think there were more volunteers than kids at one point. It was a lovely group of moms who do charity work with their daughters and they were so pleasant, eager to help, and wanting to get to know the kids. My kids loved it, and so did I. Any Baby Can is a wonderful organization for families who are dealing with autism. They have several programs for parents and a lot of resources available. I'm already looking forward to next year's tea party.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Cubicle Next Door


The Cubicle Next Door is by Siri Mitchell and might be considered Christian Chick-Lit. This is a book that I've been looking forward to reading for a while, but was quite disappointed. It seemed like it would be such a fun book to read, but it was very slow and hard to get into. I thought about not finishing it several times, but I kept hoping it would get better. It didn't really. I did manage to finish it.

It had such a cute premise. Jackie, the main character is very likeable. She does not want to date or have a relationship at all. Joe begins to share the cubicle next to hers and she finds him annoying, but at the same time charming. She blogs about him and how she doesn't like him, but at the same time likes him. They start going everywhere together, even looking for a good church to go to. They go out to lunch, he shows up at her house, where she works on weekends. She's rude to him, but he keeps coming back.

It was very slow. Over a page on how to wax cross country skis. A few of Mitchell's writing techniques were annoying. She did not use the terms "he said" or "she said." Instead, there would be lengths of dialog, and I didn't know who was talking, so I had to go back in the page to find out. Also, sometimes she wouldn't use a subject in her sentences. For instance, she did this a lot: "He tried them on. Stood up. Walked a few paces." Once in a while, it was okay, but after a while, it got annoying.

So, I stuck it out until the end. The ending was good, but I don't know if it was quite worth it. It was very clean, so that was a good point. It would have been a good story if it was about 100 pages shorter. There were too many day-to-day details explained too fully. I had another one of Mitchell's books on my summer reading list, but I think I will skip it.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Austenland


I just finished reading Austenland by Shannon Hale. It is one of those neglect-your-kids and read all day kind of books. I hardly ever read during the day, my kids just won't let me. So, I usually read at night once they're in bed. But, with this book, I let them watch extra TV so I could finish.

Jane, the main character, is like so many of us, some more admitting than others. We all have a small, meaningless crush on Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. Well, Colin Firth to be exact. For Jane, it was more of an obsession. Her relationships don't measure up to her expectations. None of her boyfriends can be Mr. Darcy, so she lives a bit in a fantasy land.

A rich aunt leaves her an inheritance -- a vacation to England to live in Austenland, a resort that mirrors Jane Austen times. She wears period clothes and mingles with other guests and actors. They go on long walks, play cards, call on each other. By going along with the vacation, she hopes to rid herself once and for all of the Mr. Darcy obsession so she can go on to live in the real world.

Along the way, she finds love. I really enjoyed the pretend scenes where they talked about matters and acted as you would in Jane Austen times. The characters were colorful and interesting. You find yourself relating to Jane.

Best of all, it was a very clean book. No foul language at all. I did not know at the time that I started reading the book, but Shannon Hale is LDS. She is a YA author, and this is her first adult novel. I highly recommend this book. It is such a fun read.

Okay, I promise, my next post will not be about Jane Austen. I've just been in such a Jane Austen mood lately.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Persuasion by Jane Austen

I LOVE JANE AUSTEN!!!

And, who doesn't? She's my favorite author and has been for a long time. I first read this book about 7 years ago and of course fell in love with it. I re-read it for a book club next week. I very rarely read books a second time. I think this is only my 3rd time.

It is a beautifully-written book, like all her others. In Persuasion, Anne Elliot is persuaded by a family friend to not pursue a relationship with Captain Wentworth because of his inferior place in society. Many years later, she is reacquainted with him and her love for him has not diminished. She is unsure of how he feels about her. He is now a prestigious and admired captain; his station in life completely changed from before.

They find each other in the same social circles, but his pride and her uncertainty of his feelings prevents them from reuniting. At some point, it is believed that each of them is attached to another.

The novel has its funny assortment of characters just like all of Austen's works. And, Austen saves the wonderful union of Anne and Captain Wentworth for the last pages, as in her other books. But, that makes it sweet as you finally read the happy ending. I actually cried as I read the touching letter he writes to Anne at the end.

Nothing to Regret

Tristi Pinkston's Nothing to Regret was an insightful historical novel. I don't usually go for historical fiction, but I wanted to give this one a try. And, it was very well-researched and truly educational. Ken, a Japanese-American and his family are placed in relocation center in Utah during WWII. It follows Ken as he goes to Japan as an American spy. There are several unexpected twists as the years progress.

I really enjoyed this book and learned about a little known and tragic fact about our American history. I was also impressed with Ken and his family as they are forgiving despite being treated horribly by this government.

I suggest reading this touching, fast-paced novel.