"Even when the rainbow seems to pass right by me....I'm still finding Gold in the clouds....."

25 July 2016

2016 Book Review #49: All Fall Down



Just finished another great summer read.  Easy, quick, and an ethical/moral dilemma type of book based on addiction to prescription pills.  All too common in America today.

STORY SUMMARY

Allison Weiss is a pretty typical suburban Philadelphia wife and mother.  She and her husband Dave have a little girl who is 5 years old named Eloise (Ellie).  Ellie can be a handful but is the love of their lives.  Allison has a job she loves, writing for a womens blog, and a huge house outside the city.  Dave is a journalist for a major Philadelphia newspaper.

One day, Allison is in the waiting room of Ellie's pediatrician, flipping through a women's magazine and begins to read a quiz on addictions.  This makes her pause.  And think.  She begins to take the quiz, quickly realizing she might have a problem.  But...she continues to justify the pill popping because her doctors have prescribed it for past back issues and wisdom teeth removal and she thinks to herself "Is a Percocet at the end of a hard day really different from a glass of wine?"

Over the course of the next few months, Allison  begins to rely more and more on her various prescriptions to get her through her day.  It is one of the first things she reaches for in the morning!  Soon, she is ordering pills online through a sketchy company and has to set up a private money account to handle her spending.  She "borrows" money from the cash drawer at work, and she lies to Dave and to her mother about various things.  Even her precious daughter begins to wonder what is wrong with Mommy.

Because life seems to be going too fast and stressful for Allison, with a difficult to handle child, an emotionally distant husband whose best friend at work is a woman he has lunch with often, and emails, a needy mother who can't seem to ever cope with her own life, and a father who was just diagnosed with Alzheimer's,s she continues to take pills, often 4 at a time!! 

 One day she also drinks a glass of wine with them, and that is when her life begins to really unravel.  The teacher at Ellie's school notices that Allison is "not right' when she arrives to pick up Ellie and her friends to take them home.  Mrs Dale shares with Allison the dangers of addiction, relating her own niece's sad story of an overdose on prescription pills.

Allison does not believe she has a problem.  And then one day Dave approaches her with evidence of her online shopping.  He brings her to Meadowcrest, a rehab center where she begins to face the reality that yes, she is an addict.  

MY THOUGHTS


I really enjoyed this story, and it totally drew me in.  I think I was drawn to it, because I have had several friends confide in me that their child has become addicted to something and I have had relatives who have struggled with various addictions.  This book is a "wake up" call for those of you who don't believe this happens in suburban America.  In fact, it is such a problem that now, here in New York State, doctors are no longer allowed to write out prescriptions.  They must be called or emailed in to the pharmacy.  I remember the days when my doctor would just casually write me yet another prescription for the painkiller for my back (which didn't work anyways).  Thankfully, I was never tempted to keep taking them after the first day, since 1. they didn't work!  and 2. I didn't want to rely on meds nor did I want those chemicals going into my body.  But...it is a HUGE problem for many people.

I loved the character development but I was frustrated that the author was describing a little girl with sensory disorder issues, yet not calling it that.  Perhaps, to her credit, she doens't know about sensory disorder yet the description fit.  Just a small thing that bugged me. I felt like if she gave Ellie that diagnoses, it would help Allison in learning how to cope with her.

The book is very realistic and it makes you realize just how common this type of addiction is for people and how easy it is to hide this particular addiction.

I loved meeting the other addicted women in the story and hearing their stories.

One thing that touched me, was that Allison's mom was described as a certain way in the beginning of the book, but is like a totally different person by the end of the book. I don't want to share too much on here to ruin it for you, but the transformation is very symbolic.

One thing that was very sad to me, but not surprising, was the idea of God being the One who causes all the bad/evil in the world.  The author clearly doesn't know God.......or doesn't know that it is the Evil One (Satan) who runs rampant in our world or that many of life's wrongs are due to consequences of actions/generational issues, etc.  

She DOES include God in the recovery process (as well as a "Higher Power") as she includes the typical Twelve Step program during rehab.  I did  like that part and felt like it was very realistic. 

But, in some ways, it is too perfect.  Yes, it deals with an American white, upper middle-class suburban mom with an addiction.  But...it kind of leaves me feeling like this topic, which is NOT trite, is just skimming the surface.  The author never really gets into the deeper issues surrounding why Allison really reaches for pills.....long after her back and wisdom teeth are healed.

The ending is good.....it leaves you with a sense of hope for Allison, Ellie and Dave.  yet......what about the other addicts.....it is almost like the author "makes fun of" the poor, young, inner city type people who are addicted to the stronger drugs (Cocaine, heroin). And that doesn't sit well with me.  I'm glad the author addressed this issue in suburban white America....but....life doesn't always end in such a perfect way. Therefore, yes, the ending is predictable. So typical of this kind of literature.

In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 17 and older (due to mature content).

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this an 8.


22 July 2016

Summer Fun Faves

It's time to look back on the week and find FIVE FAVES that blessed me.  I'm doing this and linking up with other blogging friends who participate as well. Go here to find out how to join in!



Summer vacation is in full swing in our household....well, except for my husband who has to work throughout the summer as he isn't in the field of education.....I'm thankful our public schools give us the summer off! I'm thankful my youngest is getting up and out to her volunteer work as an inner city VBS/pool program helper and still enjoying some down time in the evenings and on the weekends.  I'm thankful my oldest is working and finding good Christian friends to hang out with on her down time. I'm thankful she applied to more jobs in her field this week and I'm praying she gets at least an interview from one of them!  I'm thankful for those lazy, sumny mornings on the deck with my coffee and the Scriptures, and for being able to manage my home on a much more leisurely schedule than during the school year.

 Here are five of my fave blessings from the last week:

Mady and K on the "grandmother tree" nature trail
looking into the brook

on the summit of Severance Mt
15 July 2016
Faith, Kaitlyn,  Cindy, Mady

the Grandmother Tree, over 165 feet tall!

  • HIKING WITH CHILDREN:  Last Friday I had planned two easy hikes with my youngest sister's youngest.  Her name is Mady and she is 8 years old and full of life!  She wanted to hike with me some time so my friend Cindy from church and her daughter (age 10) went with us to one of the flat nature preserves in the eastern Adirondacks.  It is where the oldest living pine tree in NYS stands and is on the NYS Historic Tree Register.  It is known as the "grandmother tree" and is 325 years old....I couldn't get the entire tree in the photo as was too tall!!  That was an easy mile loop hike so after that, we drove north a few exits and climbed Severance Mountain which is a great "first mountain climb" for children.  It's only a little over a mile to the summit and is a beautiful, easy trail up. Mady had a great time and wants to go hiking with Aunt Faith again!  After the hikes, we treated the girls to ice cream cones and then went swimming in my sister's pool.  A fun way to cool off!

Deb on Moreau Lake
16 July 2016 
Moreau Lake
South Glens Falls, NY
foothills of the Adirondacks
  • KAYAKING WITH FRIEND:  Last Saturday, my good friend Deborah was up from Tennessee visiting her central NY family and we decided to get together for some paddling.  She had to drive out to my place here in eastern NY and I drove her up to where we keep our kayaks for the season. She loved it!  She used Dave's as he couldn't go and we had such a peaceful paddle on the lake.  We explored every bit of it including a short walk to the nature area to see the beaver activity.  We took a dip in the lake too.  After the paddling time, we ate a late lunch at a fave place in Saratoga Springs.  Oh how blessed I am to have had this time with my childhood friend.  We go way back and let me tell you:  there is NOTHING like being united in Christ...being friends and sisters-in Christ is truly special.



  • SUMMER NEST:  I have never seen a nest in our front yard cherry trees during the summer months.  Until this week!  I happened to be watering the hanging plant that hangs from the branch just to the right of this one, and I looked over and saw Mama bird (mourning dove I believe) just sitting there!  This was Monday afternoon.  Well, she has been there all week and doens't seem to mind that I water my plants every evening.  I think it will be fun once her eggs hatch! I'm thankful for new life....even in birds in the middle of summer!

  • LUNCH DATE:  On Tuesday, between various appointments and errands, I met my good friend Monica for a long overdue lunch date.  Oh my goodness....we had so much to share with each other. Monica used to be a part of my small group and now that I am taking a break from leading, and she is in another church, we rarely see each other. We are the kind of friends who can be real with each other and share deeply. Again, united in Christ...so important!  We got caught up on each other's lives and had yummy salads and iced tea and talked for over an hour.  Sometimes, these kinds of lunch dates, are so important and needed. I am thankful for good friends.


Dave on the trail up Goodman Mt
a bit of history on the name of the mountain


the High Peaks/Central Adirondacks as seen from
the summit of Goodman Mt.
2176 feet high

  • DATE DAY! Dave surprised me by asking if I wanted to go hiking up in the northern part of the Adirondacks on Wednesday.  He took a vacation day so we could have a date day!  I was thrilled.  We decided to do the Tupper Lake Triad challenge and since I had already climbed Arab Mt last summer, we just had to do the other 2.  We started with Goodman Mt (photos above) and had a blast.  What a nice, easy trail.  One small steep section.  1.6 miles up making a round trip of 3.2 miles. We did the climb to the summit in just 45 minutes....a great work out!  Then we ate a bit of lunch, talked to 2 other hikers up there, and climbed down.  Then drove the half mile down the road to do the other mountain. (photos below).  That mountain (Coney) was only 1.2 miles up to the summit making a round trip of 2.4.  That one took a little longer as was a tiny bit steeper but I loved the trail and the summit was fantastic. We were the only people there for about a half hour. Since we were done by 2:30 pm we decided to explore a couple of towns, and then had ice cream, did some more exploring and then had dinner at this place on the way home.  What a perfect date day...and the weather was perfect!!  70s and sunny!!
High Peaks as seen from the summit of Coney Mt
2267 feet high

Look at this view!
Praising our Creator!

That wraps up my week....

what were some of your blessings??



17 July 2016

2016 Book Review #48: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

My oldest daughter has been wanting me to read the HP series for some time now.  I was never interested in them before.



Actually, when these books first were published, we were in a little church where many people were chatting about how evil they were.  I just went along with this without fully researching the books and only told my daughters they were NOT reading them.  


Fast forward to a new church where there is no legalism and a whole lot of grace and teaching on convictions and preferences,  and many people who were reading the books and sharing about how similar they are to the Chronicles of Narnia.  So I began to allow the girls to read them and I looked into the themes and guess what??

Good vs. Evil....hm...just like the Bible!  Of course the "magic" and "wizardry" is what makes some Christian hesitate in reading these books, but yet they don't have a problem with Lord of the Rings or Chronicles of Narnia.  So.....you as a parent need to decide what is best for your  child.  In our home, we treat these stories like  fun analogies for the triumph of good over evil......and good wins every time.  Magic is fantasy and fantasy is good for children to imagine.  Of course my daughters are older now and read them as young teens so they already had a firm grip on their faith and walk with Christ and   only thought of these books as fun stories.  They know only God Almighty has power, not some little boy learning how to be a wizard. :)

STORY SUMMARY

Harry is a little boy, about to turn 11 years old, who is being raised by his Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon.  They have a son named Dudley.  Harry's parents were killed in a car accident.  Or so he's been told. 

Harry has a miserable life....his aunt and uncle don't truly love him and his cousin Dudley is a spoiled bully.

On Harry's 11th birthday, he gets a mysterious letter that is delivered by an owl!  The letter is actually an invitation for Harry to attend the special Hogwarts school....a truly magical place!

It is at Hogwarts, that Harry finally meets good friends, important classes, and a destiny that has been all planned out for him.....will Harry survive in this environment?  Will he find the sorcerer's stone and will his house, the Gryfinddor house win the coveted cup??

MY THOUGHTS

What an excellent book for children, teens, young adults and yes...even us older folk.  I enjoyed this very easy read.

My daughter explained to me that the author first wrote the title to say Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, but that Americans would have trouble with that so it was changed to Sorcerer's.  Sad. I prefer the original title!!Apparently, when the American company Scholastic first bought the rights to publish the book over here, they didn't think American children/parents would buy a book with the word Philosopher in it.  (They were probably correct.....sad....everywhere else in the world the book goes by the original title). The author did give her consent for the title change but did say in an interview that she regretted that decision.

At any rate, no matter which title you own, the story itself is fun.

It teaches about true friendships, touches on bullying, teaches about what love really is and the forces of good vs. evil.

I found it a fast-paced book with long chapters and fun drawings.  The art work is actually quite good.

There are a lot of beloved characters that my daughters say will continue on in the rest of the series.  You will find that you will love some characters and despise other ones.  The characters and setting are very well developed and extremely imaginative.  

I loved this quote towards the end of the book:

"You know, the Stone was really not such a wonderful thing.  As much money and life as you could want!  The two things most human beings would choose above all----the trouble is, humans do have a knack of choosing precisely those things that are worst for them."  pg 297 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, c. 1997 ~J.K.Rowling~ 

In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 8 and older.

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 10.




15 July 2016

"C" faves


It's Friday and time to look back on the week to find FIVE FAVES that left us feeling blessed.  We do this as a way to give thanks for those special things...big, small, eventful, uneventful but special.  Linking up with Susanne is what keeps us a community. 


  • couple time:  this isn't a big thing but I just really loved running errands with Dave last Saturday. It was a cool, stormy kind of day so no going kayaking or hiking.....but those little errands we needed to check off our "to do" list was so much easier with both of us in the car.  I needed his strong muscles to carry the two birdfood bags (we have an outdoor feeder and it gets a LOT of various birds) and then we spent some time in the town library together.  I told him it felt like we were newlyweds again!!

Courtney is 23!


  • Courtney's birthday: Our oldest girl (who is still looking for a job in her field of graphic design!!) had her 23rd birthday on Monday.  My how time flies.  I ordered the cake of her choice from one of our local bakeries that she likes and we "celebrated" on Sunday evening as Dave had to fly to Ohio on Monday for a business trip.  But Monday was special for her too as she had the day off from work at the craft store and I cooked her fave burrito dinner (her choice).  She loved the gift I got her.....1940s vintage ceramic Siamese cats (a pair of them). Her sister Claire surprised her with a book of Edgar Allen Poe stories that she had been wanting.  I think she had a great day and it is always a fave with me to see my daughters happy. 
15 foot waterfall on the trail to Broomstick Lake
12 July 2016

Broomstick Lake, Southern Adirondacks
this is the place where the filming of the
1936 "Last of the Mohicans" movie was done!

the trail into Broomstick Lake
Caroga Lake, NY

  • Caroga hike: On Tuesday I had planned to go out to my sister Hope's place in the central NY woods to do an easy hike with her and then to visit our dad in the nursing home out there.  We had a lot of fun.  The hike itself was only 1.4 miles round trip and I was thankful for that as I've been going to my chiro for 2 weeks due to a back issue.  July 12 is also my spiritual birthday so this hike made that extra special to me.  We also both received the Adirondack 102 Club Challenge book which you can read about here. So we completed 2 towns in the challenge, getting signatures from 2 residents.  How fun that was explaining the challenge to those towns' residents!  We enjoyed some ice cream after the hike at one of our favorite ice cream stands and then went to visit Dad.  He is ok.  But it is sad to see him losing his memory like he is.  After the visit, we went out for a late lunch and then I had to drive home to eastern NY.  I really enjoyed this day away!

  • cozy mornings:  For the last 2 weeks, I've had to get up early to make sure Claire (our 17 year old) makes it out the door at 7:30 for her volunteer work at the inner city VBS.  Once she leaves, I head for the deck to do my morning quiet time in the Word, pray, meditate, read a book, sip coffee...basically enjoying the summer weather.  My deck is especially cozy as it is small but I love how the morning glories are finally starting to climb (for some reason they are very slow this year and I have yet to see a bloom) and since I planted some wildflower seeds in the trestle box, they give this area a nice spot of color.  I love my cozy mornings!

  • chiropractic visits:  oh boy.  For about a month now I have had on and off again low back pain going into my legs, hips and abdomen.  It had been about 2 years since my last bout of my degenerative disc disease and since it started while at work, I thought it was just from getting up and down on the floor with the kindergartners.  But after our Boston trip I decided to call the chiropractor and I'm glad I did!  He said I most likely had a pinched nerve in the hip area which was making all kinds of pain radiate.  After just 4 visits in the last 2 weeks, I'm much better with less pain every day.  I have a couple more times I'm planning on going then I will take a break.  The thing I am most thankful for is that our health coverage allows me to have 30 chiropractic visits per calendar year.  Thank You, God!!!
That pretty much sums up my week......

today I am taking my 8 year old niece (my youngest sister's girl) on 2 hikes...one is a woods hike to the oldest tree in NYS, and the other one is short mountain climb to a very pretty summit overlooking Paradox Lake in the Eastern Adirondacks.  Should be a fun day!

Have a restful weekend, everyone!





09 July 2016

2016 Book Review #47: The Lake House


What a great book!   I really enjoyed this novel and I am thinking this is an author to keep an eye on.


STORY SUMMARY

In 1933, on a beautiful summer evening in Cornwall, England, Eleanor and Anthony Edevane are hosting their annual midsummer party on their estate.  The name of the estate is Loeanneth.  It is their summer home, inherited from Eleanor's mother Constance.

But, sometime around midnight, tragedy strikes.  And thus the beginnings of a terrible secret.

Their 16 year old daughter Alice is an aspiring author of mysteries.  She has fallen in love with one of her parents' gardners, a young man named Ben Munro.  But she knows that her mother would never approve!  

That night, when her adorable 11 month old baby brother Theo is presumed kidnapped, Ben disappears!  No one has seen him.  Not Deborah, the oldest daughter, not Clementine, the youngest daughter and not Alice.  The nanny was sound asleep, a bit drunk from alcohol.  Everyone else was down at the garden watching the fireworks display. To make matters worse, Eleanor's beloved friend Mr Lewellyan has been found dead..apparently from a suicide of overdosing on prescription pills.

Shortly after the disappearance of Theo, after many searches of the lake, the pond, the woods, etc, the Edevane family packs up and moves permenantly  to London. 

Seventy years later, in 2003, a young female detective, Sadie Sparrow, is on leave from her job.  She has botched up an investigation of a missing woman who left behind a 3 year old little girl. Sadie's boss has told her to take some time off so she goes to visit her grandfather, Bertie at his home in Cornwall.

As she is out running one morning, she comes across the Edevane estate.  She is curious so goes exploring.  Once she learns about the missing baby boy, she becomes very interested in trying to solve the puzzle of what happened.  She decides to get in touch with one of the remaining Edevanes:  Alice.  

Alice is now an 86 year old woman living in London and has been a very sucessful author of mystery books featuring a detective named Diggory.

As Sadie begins to explore Alice's past, Alice begins to re-visit all the memories of her childhood.  And discovers that there really are more secrets to her family.

What they begin to uncover involves love, loss, bitter regrets and a very difficult sacrifice that changed a family forever.

MY THOUGHTS

This was most excellent in the way of  character development, setting and mystery.

One thing I absolutely did not like was the way the book ended.  I don't want to reveal what exactly happened to Theo (my hunch about HOW the baby disappeared was correct but the way the author decided to write where he ended up is not what I expected nor did I really like it). It was too perfect of an ending.  A bit far-fetched although very "romantic".  I felt myself rolling my eyes at it...it was just too "sweet". 

I loved the theme running throughout the story about what mothers will do to protect the children they love.  Sometimes mothers have to make the most difficult decisions...I just loved how this was played out in the story.

I started out loving Alice but half way through the book I found my self getting irritated by her...by the end of the book I liked her again.  

Another thing that totally bugged me was that 70 years later, when Alice goes back to Loeanneth for the first time since she was 16, she finds her way through the woods to a box she buried the night Theo goes missing.  I'm sorry but 70 years later, those woods would be all built up and it would NOT be a clear walk to the spot.  Little things like that bug me!!  Woods definitely change over the years!  Especially because the author's description of the estate was one of neglect and disuse.

The book goes back and forth between 2003 and 1933 and even a little bit further back...back to when Eleanor and Anthony were children.  That was probably my most favorite part.

The character Constance was formidable and I just did NOT like her but then again we the readers are not supposed to like her.  I didn't see one part of her place in the story coming and it totally surprised me....and it was brilliant!  Again, I don't want to reveal what that is as it will spoil it for you.

This book was just such a great read.  I highly recommend it if you like mystery with some romance and deep family plots.

In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 14 and older.

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 9.


08 July 2016

July FFF





It's Friday and time to look back on the week to share FIVE of the blessings...fave things that God brought to our week. 
I do this by linking up with Susanne the hostess of the FFF.


Heroes float
Northville, NY parade
some everyday heroes




  • OLD FASHIONED PARADE!  Last Saturday, my sister Joy and I traveled up to the small village where our family had a summer camp in the 1960s until about 1975. We wanted to go to the Independence Day parade they have had every year since we were little.  It is definitely not the same as when we were kids.  Only one school marching band and a few floats.  But a Capital Region fife and drum corps were in it as well as a group of bagpipers and that was fun.  My fave float was the one pictured here.  They had people dressed in hero costumes.  People like Ben Franklin, the Pilgrims, George Washington, the Armed Forces, doctors, firefighters, nurses, police, etc.  It was wonderful.  We connected with one of our cousins who lives up there so it made for a fun afternoon.


  • BACKYARD BONFIRE: Saturday evening we had a late dinner because my husband and youngest daughter had to serve at church at 5 pm and I was just getting home from the parade up north.  After our late day dinner, I prepared a fire so that we could make s'mores and just relax.  It was a cooler day with temps just in the 70s and just perfect in my opinion.  I love summer days that are not humid with high heat.  My oldest daugther had to work until 9:30 that night so she was so surprised when she came home to find me still out at the fire....we enjoyed a late night of chatting and just relaxing and reading by the firepit.  I love nights like that!          
the tabernacle at
Pine Grove Camp
Saratog Springs, NY
  • CONCERT UNDER THE PINES!  On Sunday evening, my husband and I went to hear a mens gospel quartet made up of men from my parents' Free Methodist church.  (the church I grew up in).  It was held in the Tabernacle at the church camp I attended from ages 7-18.  Those were the days!  Camp hasn't changed much.  The part that makes my fave list is that I ran into some dear friends from my teen years....we hadn't seen each other since my college days.....over 30 years ago...how fun this was to catch up! Even some of the old saints were there..the pillars of the church who helped grow me up spiritually speaking.  It was a very special evening.

Blue Heron as seen from my kayak
Dave resting on the beach
Moreau Lake State Park
Claire and I kayaking on Moreau Lake
  • BEACH DAY!  On Monday, since my husband had the day off from work due to Independence Day, we decided to relax in the morning and get some stuff done around the house/yard, and then pack some snacks and head to the lake to kayak and swim.  It was a wonderful afternoon!  My oldest couldn't go as she had to work so we came home in time to cook some bbq chicken and salads.  We then had another bonfire to wrap up the evening.  It was the perfect summer weather.....all weekend long....temps in the 70s and low 80s, no humidity, and perfect blue skies.


  • VOLUNTEER WORK:  All week Claire and other high school teens from our church's youth group, plus a few staff members, have been going to a city church in Schenectady (to the west of us) to work with inner city children in a VBS Program. Claire loves it so much that she plans on volunteering there the rest of the month.  I'm thankful she has something to do this month that she enjoys...and this kind of work will look good on college applications!
That wraps up my week.....

how about you? What were your faves from the past week?

I hope you enjoy a relaxing, fun weekend.