March 2011

The exact number depends on what source you’re getting your information from, but basically a really high percentage of divorces cite financial problems as a huge factor – if not the deciding factor – in the divorce. I think the way you work through your finances (or not) as a couple says a lot about your relationship in general and I also think money is one of the most important areas to get “right” in your marriage. If you can get on the same page about money, you will have plenty of time and energy to devote to all the other things that can go wrong in marriage.

Because of that, I would highly recommend Money & Marriage by Matt Bell to engaged or newly married couples. I don’t necessarily agree with everything he recommends for financial management – I’m a Dave Ramsey fan myself so I think Bell was a bit soft on getting out of debt, for example – but because it was written from the perspective of 2 people joining each other in marriage, there are some really good discussion questions at the end of each chapter. If you are engaged or newlywed and haven’t talked about finances, or come from very different backgrounds/perspectives (and if you haven’t talked about money, let me assure you that you probably have some wildly differing views on it), it would be a really good idea to get this book and read and discuss it together. I would also recommend that you continue to read books about money, but this will be a good way to get you thinking and talking about money (and hopefully help you get on the same page as your spouse). You have enough talking, reading, thinking, and learning to do as you get ready for marriage; this book will help you get your financial bases covered so you can move on to other pre-marital topics and spread your money-reading wings a bit later.

Here is the rest of the blog tour
And, Matt Bell is giving away a free financial session and a $100 Visa card! Enter here.

This book was provided for review by the LitFuse Publicity Group.


As previously mentioned, Asher had jaundice and so when we left the hospital, we were instructed to take him in for a blood test when he was 15 days old. Since he was born at a hospital in a neighboring town, the hospital we went to for the blood test was a different one, one in Marseille, supposedly the best baby hospital in the region.

We showed up at our appointed time and finally they called me & Asher to the room. Jake was not able to go with us because he was at the bank, trying to iron out some “issues” that arose when our “insurance” wired money to us to pay for Asher’s birth, as in the bank decided we were laundering money and froze our account. So I took the unsuspecting little guy back to the room. The 2 nurses were baby blood-taking specialists and they got us situated. One nurse scoffed at the little vial they had been supplied with and sent the second nurse out to get a larger one. Once they were satisfied that the equipment was acceptable, they took Asher’s blood from his hand. He was a little trooper and didn’t even cry. I didn’t either so I am a trooper too. They told me the results would be in later that afternoon.

I went back a few days later to pick up the results (obviously I was not in a particular hurry). He wasn’t orange any more so I was fairly certain his bilirubin levels were in the normal range. I took a number in the waiting room and waited half an hour or whatever and finally they called my number. I went up to the desk and the conversation went something like this:

me: I am here to get the test results.
lady: for whom?
me: well my son, but the test was done under my name.
lady: why?
me: because he was 15 days old and that’s what you guys told me to do.
lady: hmmmm…I do not have any results for you. You came back too early.
me: they said the results would be here Tuesday afternoon, and it’s Friday.
lady: hmmm…I do not have any results under your son’s name either. Come back later.
me: no, they said the results would be back Tuesday.
lady: let me call someone.
lady (on phone): Yes, there is a lady here for test results for her baby, they are not here but she is a foreigner and she doesn’t understand French and she doesn’t understand when I say to leave and come back later. (pause) oh? OK, I will tell her.
lady: the results are not back because there was not enough blood.
me (interrupting): what do you mean not enough blood? They took plenty.
lady: no, there was not enough blood for the tests so you need to bring your baby back to take more blood.
me (firmly): I am not doing that.
lady: You must bring him back. Jaundice can be very serious, it is important to test, it is very important.
me: I understand. But I’m not bringing him back.

She kept trying to impress upon me the gravity of the situation, the terrible things that can happen if jaundice isn’t properly treated, etc. etc. I didn’t respond much, except to be VERY firm about the fact that I was not bringing him back. I knew exactly what I wanted to say in English, exactly how I would respond to the situation if I was in America or really any English-speaking place, but my little 2-year-old vocabulary was not up to the task in French. I wanted to say

  1. if it is so serious, why on earth didn’t you call me on Tuesday?
  2. I DID understand what you said about me on the phone, you rude woman, and
  3. why on earth would I bring my baby for a return visit to a lab staffed with incompetent people? I know they’re incompetent because 1. the baby blood experts took his blood so 2. they are very familiar with how much to take for jaundice testing and 3. they went to extra effort to make sure they took enough which means 4. someone in the testing part of the lab spilled or lost my child’s blood.
  4. By the way, he’s not orange or yellow any more so this was basically a formality anyway. At which you are incompetent.

In English I may have peppered this diatribe with a few expletives, but my French wasn’t up to the tirade even without them. My language partners took great care to teach me “real” French and I therefore know no foul words in the language. Which made me very sad at this moment. All I could do was firmly repeat, over and over, that I would not be bringing my baby back, my poor little baby with the bruised hand. I was furious that they lost my baby’s blood and then lied about it…and so, so frustrated that I couldn’t tell off the stupid woman at the desk.

Ummm…there’s a lot of things I could live without, like people who text & drive, people who drink & drive, the modern notion that “multitasking” is somehow superior to being able to actually focus on something or someone. It is irritating to carve out time for someone only to have them spend the whole time texting. INTERACT WITH THE REAL PEOPLE AROUND YOU!

But instead of those odious practices, the thing that concerns me for this particular topic is canned spinach. My mother attempted to serve this vile substance to me on numerous occasions in my childhood, and it very nearly made me vomit. Even the glorious promise of dessert was not enough to tempt me to consume the repulsive dark green blob – and THAT should tell you how much I despise it. I was probably in college before I discovered fresh spinach, which is lovely and crisp and tasty and delightful.

I cannot imagine what must happen to such appealing leaves to turn them into the sodden mush in a can, but it must be a horrific atrocity.

This is, I believe, the fourth book in a series about an FBI geologist named Raleigh Harmon, written by Sibella Giorello. The first thing I will say is that you do not need to read the previous installments to make sense of this one, which is great since I haven’t read them. There was enough characterization and background info to go on in just this one, although clearly some relationships and personal details would make more sense if one has the full picture. So, kudos to Giorello for striking the delicate balance between not boring seasoned readers with too much background and not losing new ones in vague hints at the past.

Anyway, this is a mystery (as are the others in the series) and is well-written, especially considering its placement in the “Christian fiction” genre. My husband likes to quote someone as saying that Christian has become an adjective for sub-par (in pretty much any artistic endeavor) and unfortunately I tend to agree, so it is refreshing to stumble across some fiction with interesting, layered characters. The story takes place while Raleigh is on “vacation” on an Alaskan cruise, except obviously she ends up working instead of vacationing. And mercifully, Giorello takes it easy on the “Christian” part – Raleigh’s faith is more hinted at than preached. I for one appreciate this; I dislike being preached at through my leisure reading. If I want a sermon I go to an actual church, or possibly listen to a podcast.

My only complaint is that some of the conversations were hard to follow. For example, there would be a narrative paragraph and then a conversation, but it would just be quotes – no “she said” or “noted Jack” or whatever to enable the reader to discern who said what, so that after five or six lines you’re left wondering what just happened. Sometimes you can figure it out, sometimes not. A few plot points feel rushed, like all of a sudden there’s a chase going on and you’re trying to figure out why, or the characters seem to have reached a conclusion and you have no idea what the conclusion is. But overall, the book is very readable. I am even interested in reading the preceding 3 novels! So that is saying something.

Here is a link to the book on Amazon
Here is a link to the rest of the blog tour
And most importantly, here is a link where you can enter to win a cruise, given away by the author

This book was provided for review by the LitFuse Publicity Group.

Obviously Jake & Asher are my REAL answers to this, but since that is obvious and also probably boring to read about, I will say the internet. Especially when we were in France, there were times I thought boredom would kill me and the internet saved me from poking my eyes out with a pencil just to have something to do. I love to read, research, and learn so having the internet connected to my laptop is like having the world’s largest library sitting on my lap. I love it. Everything I want to know, the answer to any question I can cook up, is all there waiting for me. We were also able to watch movies and old TV shows online, although I think is of less questionable legality there than it is here so faire attention.

Today, a black guy ran up on our porch, rang the doorbell, and ran away.

And now I know why that particular pastime has the name it does.

Someone once told me the only way to get off a pedestal is to fall, and for the most part I really took that to heart. I honestly can’t think of whole lot of people I consider heroes. But in high school, my small group leader at church was named Heather and I, along with the other girls in our group, really looked up to her.

Heather and her husband Phil were really good to us. Phil lead a group of guys and once a month we would all get together at their house and those times and those people are still some of my best memories from high school. Phil and Heather were like extra parents for us, except younger and cooler, and they had this really great relationship that proved you really can marry your best friend and live happily ever after.

Except they didn’t. At some point in our sophomore year of college, Heather kinda dropped off the face of the earth – stopped answering calls and emails. The guys all said the same of Phil. After a few months of this two of the girls from our group went and basically camped out at their house until Phil came home, or let them in, or whatever. He was a little too happy, like he was trying to hide something, only they noticed all the beer bottles laying around and the conspicuous absence of Heather’s stuff.

Finally, Heather met with us and told us what we already knew – that she and Phil were separated and in the process of getting a divorce. Reading between the lines of the sketchy details she gave us and the sketchy details Phil gave the guys, I think she just left. She said there was no romance, they were just best friends living together. Shortly thereafter she was spotted at an area Target with Another Guy so I guess she moved on pretty quickly. More quickly than some of the rest of us, anyway. For me this was only less earth-shattering, angering, and hurtful than my own parents making the same announcement. And scary: the couple with The Best Relationship Ever didn’t make it.

This may sound stupid but it actually took me a really long time to get over their divorce. I was really angry at Heather for walking away from a great guy and not doing everything in her power to save her marriage. Now I know that marriage is hard and I am just disappointed for them. I am friends with Phil on Facebook and am happy that he is remarried, has cute kids, and is happy. I have no idea what is going on with Heather because I have no contact info for her and apparently she is not on Facebook, at least not with the same name, so that is kinda sad.

I should have seen it coming when they sent the dogs to live on a farm.