Archive for the ‘Reading’ Category

Three Cups of Tea

Monday, October 13th, 2008

A friend mentioned the book Three Cups of Tea to me in passing not too long ago and I decided to check it out. Reading the cover didn’t excite me. In fact, I worried a bit that I wouldn’t like the subject matter. Some guy climbing K2? A bunch of kids in Pakistan? Booooorrring.

A few weeks and 3/4 of the book later, I’m so glad I gave it a chance. Three Cups of Tea has been one of those paradigm shifting books in my life. Although the writing itself leaves a lot to be desired, the story behind the clumsy prose has won me over. I’m in awe of Greg Mortenson and how he has dedicated his life to educating children, especially girls, in some of the most dangerous places on earth. This man was hit with a vision and he stuck through it despite overwhelming challenges and opposition repeatedly thrust against him. Greg does not care about material things in life; choosing instead to forego many commonplace American luxuries in order to spend his money on schools and supplies for those who need it so desperately.

I pride myself on being open-minded and lacking prejudice or sweeping generalizations of groups. A real humanitarian, that’s me. Three Cups of Tea opened my eyes to some serious self-delusions. I’ve come to see just how narrow my mindset really is. For instance: immediately after 9/11 my “American Pride” was surging high. I mourned all of those we lost, and hated those who caused their deaths. Someone said, “We should just bomb the whole Middle East into a parking lot and we can start over with a clean slate.” Something about that statement bothered me deep down, but on the surface I rallied. “Yeah! Screw all of ‘them’”, I thought.

Mortenson puts a face and a life story to “them” and I’m immediately ashamed for my past thoughts. I was too close-minded to realize that “they” don’t like Bin Laden or the Taliban any more than we do. And their lives have been far worse affected by those evil forces than Americans can even begin to fathom. I’m also ashamed of how poorly my country handled the entire situation – and continues to handle the situation in Pakistan, Afghanistan and surrounding areas.

If everyone could come to know, as I have, Haji Ali – the man who saved Mortenson’s life and went on to serve as his wise mentor – or Syed Abbas, the Muslim cleric who implored Americans to “look into our hearts and see that the great majority of us are not terrorists, but good and simple people.”, I truly believe this world would be a better place.

Have you read Three Cups of Tea? What were your thoughts?

Welcome, Teen Years

Tuesday, August 14th, 2007

Connor Newborn PortraitMy beautiful, intelligent, charming, talented, humorous, strapping eldest son turns 13 today. It’s almost mind blowing to think I’m old enough to have a teenager, yet at the same time, he is so mature and grown, it’s hard to believe he is just now turning 13. Still, though, it seems that overnight he went from the precious little 9 lb, 8 oz angel you see here to the 6 ft 2 in, 150 pound dream of every teenage girl.

Last night I created a banner and hung it up for him to see as soon as he walked out of his room this morning. I also set the table with a box of donuts and his birthday card with some cash in it. I want his day to be extra special – I hope they do something for him at camp. For dinner, he has requested that we grill out hot dogs, hamburgers, and corn on the cob with some cake on the side. So we will be having that tonight, followed by some sitting around the fireside and our chiminea, I’m sure. I love that he wanted to be home with us grilling burgers on the grill rather than sitting in a restaurant somewhere.

Connor 9 Month Old Portrait Connor has been such a gift to our family. From the moment he was born, he was good-natured and a joy to be around. We went through some rough times during the “Terrible Twos”, but other than that, he really hasn’t given us any problems at all. He is respectful, well-behaved, extremely intelligent and does great in school, outgoing and popular, easy-going, musically gifted, and extraordinarily good looking. It’s almost unfathomable what a blessing he is. Sure, he has his moments; he’s human after all, but those times are usually very short-lived. The past few months have shown us a glimpse into the teenage angst and attitude we’re sure to get a healthy dose of for the next few years, but I know this is all perfectly normal. I know underneath he is still all of those beautiful, perfect things. He is loved and cherished by Rob and I, and the rest of our family – and now by a growing circle of friends who have become lucky enough to know him. I’m looking forward to watching him continue to grow and sharing his life with him.

I have all of my photos of Connor on a big external hard drive that’s in my office downstairs – until I get motivated enough to go hook it up to my laptop, the photo chronology will be small. You’ll just have to take my word for it that he’s been extremely cute every single day of his life. Here’s proof:

Connor 18 months Con&Aric-crab Con,Joe,Aric-Dad'sbday connor ConZay

And last year’s birthday montage, as further proof:
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Tasha & Me

Thursday, September 21st, 2006

I’m just finished reading the book, Marley & Me – I feel like I’m the last one to the party, so many of my friends have already read it. It was so worth the wait, though. And now I think I’m in love with John Grogan. Heh.

In case you’re unaware, the is written by John, as himself, and weaves a terrific tale of the life of a dog named Marley. The author tells Marley’s story by tying it in with all of the family’s life events. The love this family has for the dog despite his many, many shortcomings and challenges, is touching and it’s something I can intimately relate to. You see, Rob and I had our own “problem dog” with very similar stories – but we loved her anyway. I found myself nodding my head in agreement with the descriptions of alll of Marley’s mishaps and commiserating with tons of empathy. Our dog wasn’t quite as destructive as Marley, fortunately – but we’ve still got stories to tell! Maybe one day I’ll write a book about them, too. :-)

The thing that hit me with this book the most, though, was the inevitable ending. You see, our dog – Tasha – is in the twilight of her life and the stories of Marley’s end days are the ones that are resonating with me the most today. It’s so sad. Tasha has had a good life and she probably has another couple of years in her – she’ll be 13 in a couple of weeks – but it’s getting close to the end. It is going to be crushing when she goes… and I’m pretty sure the tears I cried last night were not as much for Marley as they were for Tasha.

Good books

Thursday, August 24th, 2006

I’m going to start a new category here for books and reading. I am such a bibliophile, I always have at least one book going and I’d love to talk about the ones I read and hear of any good books you’re reading. My tastes run the gamut, but my favorite genre is probably mystery. Lately I’ve been really into memoirs, too. But, I like just about anything – including some sci-fi.

The last book I read was called Eliot’s Banana. I picked it up on sale at Barnes & Noble because the cover looked interesting and once I read the back cover, I knew I’d like it. It’s about a girl who had a childhood tragedy that didn’t realize how much it affected her adult life. We get to see the affects of the tragedy on her as she goes back in time to relive good and bad childhood memories until she realizes she must confront the source of her conflict in order to move on with her life. A very believable, funny and interesting read. I fell in love with the main character right away and was swept away with the story from beginning to end. I’d definitely recommend it!

Edited to add the link to the book. Duh!