BAM Family

BAM Family

Saturday, December 31, 2011

What I read in 2011: A literary soundtrack


It has been one year since I graduated with my MA in English. I remember thinking, "YES! Now I have time for "fun" reading (aka reading that is not required, not that my MA reading wasn't fun....sometimes). 

So, I started this little reading log because I wanted to remember the books I've read. It's funny because looking back at this list is like "listening to" a literary soundtrack to my life--like when you hear "that song" you remember where you were and what you were doing at the time? I have some good memories attached to these books. 

I am a little embarrassed about how short this list is--but these are the NEW books I read. I didn't record the books that I read over again (um....like reading the entire Harry Potter series in the month of August? Good times). Maybe in 2012 I'll record all the books I read and just to add to that "literary soundtrack."

So, here are the books and my (brief) thoughts about them. Maybe you'll want to add some of these books to your reading list for 2012!

Wuthering Heights (1847) by Emily Bronte: I can't believe I had never read this--hence it is the first book on my reading list. Loved it! Romantic in a totally unhealthy way, sadistic, and violently beautiful--amazing. If you have not read it, DO IT! 

The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891) by Oscar Wilde: I really liked this--a lot! After I finished this book, I updated my status on FB to, "haven't read such a thought provoking book in a long time." Even though this book was written over 100 years ago, it has a timeliness to it that is applicable to all generations. Except for the very beginning and one really long dull chapter in the middle, I couldn't put it down. It was exciting, deliciously depraved, mysterious and haunting. I definitely recommend it. Plus it isn't very long. 

Harry Potter’s Bookshelf: The Great Books Behind the Hogwarts Adventures (2009) John Granger: Ok, I admit it: I LOVE Harry Potter everything. And I loved this book by John Granger. He has written several books analyzing the Harry Potter series and I really enjoyed his thorough and unique literary analysis of Rowling's works. Plus, he had a chapter about Jane Austen's influence on Rowling's writing which was just the icing on my English-nerd cake. AND I learned about a completely new type of literary analysis: literary alchemy. Must learn more about this.  

Marie Antoinette: The Journey (2002) by Antonia Fraser: This book earns the award of taking me the longest to read: several months. I had to check it out 2-3 times before I finished it. It was really long for one thing: 544 pages. If it was a novel, I could whiz right through that (Harry Potter anyone?) but a biography can be pretty weighty reading. I really enjoyed it though. I wanted to learn more about the French Revolution and I love learning about history though biography. And wow! Marie Antoinette was a fascinating woman. Eccentric, passionate, tragic, and misunderstood. I was brought to tears a few times while reading. Antonia Fraser is an excellent and thorough writer and biographer. I would definitely recommend this book but give yourself a lot of time to read it. 

The Days of the French Revolution (1999) by Christopher Hibbert*: See that little star? That means that I didn't finish this book. This is another one I checked out numerous times. It wasn't very long and was pretty easy to read but was definitely not a novel. I would like to finish it though. This one is going on the 2012 reading list. 

Walking on Water (1982) Madeline L’Engle: This book, by the celebrated author of A Wrinkle in Time (and a HOST of other wonderful books) was a mixture of inspiration to artists, devotional, and personal memoir. I have very peaceful and contented feelings attached to reading this book--I read it before bed every night. Delightful. 

North and South (1854) Elizabeth Gaskell (read 7/8; saw movie): I should have a * by this book because I didn't finish it but I was so ready to have the darn thing over with! Elizabeth Gaskell is an English Victorian author. And no, it is NOT about the American North and South (um, because she is English). I would give a detailed synopsis of the book but honestly, just watch the movie. Yes. This English teacher just told you to watch the movie. The book was really long and s-l-o-w. The heroine was kind of snobby and annoying. And Gaskell had a social agenda throughout most of the book that got old. So....watch the movie if you are interested in this book. 

Till We have Faces (1956) C.S. Lewis: I actually thought this book was one of Lewis' theological works but several (better read) friends of my informed me otherwise. I truly loved this book. It was different from anything else I had ever read by Lewis. In fact, it was different than anything else I had ever read, period. It is based on the myth of Cupid and Psyche (and I LOVE me some Greek mythology). When I think about reading this book, I feel pensive and quiet. Simply beautiful. 

Agnes Grey (1847) Anne Bronte: After reading Wuthering Heights, I decided that I wanted to read more Bronte novels. After all, I loved Jane Eyre (by Charlotte Bronte) and Wuthering Heights (by Emily Bronte) so I decided to move on to sister #3, Anne. Eh, I could have done without this book, though I did finish it. It was depressing and a bit boring. If you are interested in the plight of Victorian governesses (one of the only professions offered to educated women of Bronte's era), then it is good. If you want a good story that trots right along, not so much. I'll have to try some other Bronte books in the coming year--I haven't given up on them yet. 

The Princess and the Goblin (1872) George MacDonald: This is actually a children's book by a late Victorian author. George MacDonald was actually one of C.S. Lewis's literary heroes so there was immediate appeal.  Growing up, my family had this book on our bookshelf but I never read it. I wonder why? It was really good! A delightful fairy tale with some wonderfully subtle Christian undertones. I actually recommended it to a friend with a little girl and they enjoyed it too. (I tried to read The Princess and Curdie, the sequel to this novel, but I couldn't get into it. But The Princess and the Goblin is excellent!). 

Rebecca (1938) Daphne Du Maurier: I read this FB list of books that all people "should" read, or whatever, and Rebecca was on the list. Oooh! This book was so good! If you love mysteries, this book is for you! It read really quickly and was full of romantic angst and deliciously dark unsolved mysteries. I was truly surprised at the end of the book when "all was revealed." Loved it! 

The Help (2009) Kathryn Stockett: This one had been on my "to-read" list for a long time. And it was worth the wait! Memorable complex characters, unique plot, and satisfying and thought-provoking development. It is a must read for those who love modern, literary fiction. I also saw the movie--it was good but the book, in this case (as in most cases), was definitely better. 

The Great Divorce (1945) C.S. Lewis: After reading Till We Have Faces, I went on a bit of a Lewis-fiction kick. I have actually owned this book for many years and tried to read it after my freshmen year of college. At that time, I thought it was really difficult to get into and hard to understand. This time around, no problems. In fact, I zipped right through it in two sittings. I guess this book is just a testament to how much I have matured as a person and a reader. This novel has a really interesting premise (residents of Hell taking a bus for a day-trip to Heaven) and challenged me theologically too. It is one of those books that you could read again and again and have new realizations each time. Plus, George MacDonalad (Lewis's hero, remember?) makes a cameo appearance. How fun is that? 

Out of the Silent Planet (1938) C.S. Lewis: Still on my Lewis kick. I thought, hey, I love the Narnia series (in fact, I re-read Prince Caspian during this time) and the other Lewis novels I have read this year have been winners: time to move on to his Space Trilogy. While I like fantasy, I really have not read (or read and enjoyed) a lot of science fiction, so this was a new genre for me. It was interesting, kind of fun, kind of weird. It wasn't a page turner for me and I'm not dying to read the next two in the series, but maybe one day. 

The Hunger Games (2008) by Suzanne Collins: Yes, I jumped on the bandwagon and you should too because this book is amazing! In fact, this novel wins the award of "book-I-read-the-fastest" this year: 6 hours (and considering it is 384 pages, that is pretty quick!). This book was also the first one I read on my new Kindle. I could not put it down. Literally. Amazing plot, unique character twists, and frighteningly appropriate themes for today. Read it. 

Catching Fire (2009) by Suzanne Collins: I read this book the next day. If The Hunger Games was a 10, this one would be a 9. Still flew through it and couldn't get enough. 

Mockingjay (2010)  by Suzanne Collins: The one took me the "longest" to read--I read it over two days. The novel was kind of depressing but appropriate and I loved how she ended the trilogy. Satisfyingly good books and a wonderful way to spend the majority of 4 days. In fact, I haven't been able to stop thinking about these books. 

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2005) by Rick Riordan: Yes, this book is a kids book (target age: Middle School). And yes, I read it in two days and stayed up late last night to finish it. Loved it! Fun and completely unique, great characters, and amazing way to integrate Greek mythology into a modern setting (and like I said before, I loooove Greek mythology; I felt especially proud that I recognized most of the myths and supernatural beings after having assisted with a World Literature class this semester!). Just plain fun. And no, I'm not ashamed to check books out of the children's section of the library. Looking forward to checking out #2 in the series next week. 

Ok, I said above that I was a little ashamed of how short this list is but this break down of all the books took me a long time to write! Whew! And here's a little disclaimer before you scream "throw off that mask of false humility, you "I-am-a-little-ashamed-of-how-short-this-list-is" woman! I haven't read a book in...umm....when was(were) my child(ren) born? Yeah, before then." 

This list seems short--for me! I mean, I am an English "person". Reading is, well...what we DO. In fact, my husband guessed 10 books higher when I told him to guess-how-many-books-I-read-this-year. So for me, I'm slackin' (ok not really). 

(And if you read more books than me this year, give yourself a pat on the back and enjoy your warm and smug feelings). 

I really love to read. And it has been great remembering the new books I've read in 2011. Looks like I love the English Victorian era (1850s-1900ish), C.S. Lewis, pop fantasy fiction, and young adult literature. Oh, and Harry Potter. Yep. Pretty much sums me up. 

So looking forward to a year full of reading new books. In fact, my fingers are inching toward my Kindle now--two new novels are calling my name!

What did you read this year? Do you keep a reading log to record the "literary soundtrack" of your life? 

Friday, December 30, 2011

Lace Embellished T-shirt

Another t-shirt refashion, this time with lace! 
Lace embellishments are very fashionable right now and I wanted to jump on the bandwagon because, hey, I like frilly and girly. 
 The tutorial was really easy to follow and the whole project took me about an hour. 
 However, I decided it looked even better on my best friend, Candace!
She loved the shirt so this simple, yet lovely, embellished t-shirt is now hers! Happy (belated) Christmas, Candace!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

BAM Diaper end-of-the-year SALE!

Is one of your New Years Resolutions to save money in 2012 by using cloth diapers? Jump start that resolution by taking advantage of my BAM Diaper end-of-the-year sale! 
These 6 diapers are left over from my sewing this year and I am selling them for $12 each or 25% off normal retail ($16 each)! This is a great price for an AIO diaper.
Each of these diapers is a Medium or 20-30 lbs. 

UPDATE: Both yellow diapers and the pink diaper have been sold (as of Dec 28)

Want an even more economic way to diaper your little one? BAM Diaper covers and prefolds are a great way to go! Each cover (10-20 lbs or Small & 20-30 lbs or Medium) is $10 each.

Send me (Brittany) an email at bmeng@liberty.edu if you are interested! I ship too ($5 extra)!

Kids say (and DO!) the darndest things: 2011 in Review


I went through my Facebook status updates and copied them ALL the other day (took me about 6 hours in total). People are always telling me to write down the funny (or super-sweet) things the boys do and say so HERE THEY ARE! 

The Meng twin funnies for 2011! 

Feb 6: ‎Instead of sleeping, my three-year-old child decided to poop his pants and destroy his room. I put him back to bed and took some advil.
Feb 9: (To Debbie) Remind me to tell you how my kid peed on a wall in public last night....
Feb 24: the boys are wrestling and spitting on each other. They seem to like it. (???)
March 7: my son is trying to stick a blown-up balloon up his bare bum because he wants to be a stegaraurus. Oh my word...
March 15: earlier today, the boys were pretending to be knights. Swords? Painbrush and plastic pipe. Dragon? The vacuum.
April 15: looking forward to playgroup today. Oh, have I got a story to share....let's just call it "The Great Vasaline Disaster of Last Night" by Micah Meng
April 17: ‎(any parent with a sense of humor should appreciate this): Benji:(very excited and proud) I made a big hotdog!!!
April 20: my son just learned that if one places a small metal car in the microwave, it will produce big fireworks.
April 24: WHY OH WHY do my children do they things they do? Blog post coming soon....(poop and baby powder)
April 30: it's all fun and games until someone poops his pants....at Kids Cove
May 10: ‎:Benji is sleeping with 3 Gideon New Testaments under his pillow tonight.
May 13: just tried on my full regalia for tomorrow. Micah asked if I was a policeman and Benji said I looked silly! LOL!
May 31: Benji said to me: You are the best ever! :D
June 1: while giving Micah a hug I said, "I love my boy!" He kissed me and said, "I like my girl!" ::heart-melting::
June 6: Dollar store water guns = euphoric happiness for 3 year old boys
June 18: at 3.5, Micah is a comedian in the making--complete with a hysterical funny voice
June 24: Micah gave me a SpiderMan bandaid so I could "feel better." What a sweetie.
June 29: Me: (holding Benji's hand) Your hands are nice and warm. Benji: Yours are nice and cold. :)
July 2: at 27 years old, I just got my first temporary tattoo, courtesy of my children. I am now cool.
July 3: The boys' reactions to the fireworks: "It's a party!" "Ooooh! That's so cool!" "Let's do that again!!"
July 7: Benji: Daddy, we're watching "Stick in the Booty" (aka "Sleeping Beauty")
July 13: kids are disgusting (It really wasn't anything out of the ordinary. Benji peed while standing on the toilet--while it was closed. Just completely fed up and grossed out)
July 19: ‎:BENJI! Eat your food! Ketchup is NOT a food group!
July 21: Biting and hanger throwing....just a few ways my boys have "loved" each other today...
July 24: Micah (pointing to the Trix box): See that bunny? That spells delicious!
July 26: wet pj's at 5:30; poop in the hallway at 6:30. Good morning Tuesday...you've got to go up from here....
July 27: my son calls me, "Honey." Cute or Freudian?
July 28: we asked the boys what they would name a guinea pig (if we got one); Benji said, "Squeaky!" Awww!
July 30: Benji (at 7pm): I want to go to the moon! (I just put him back to bed (at 9:40) because he was up staring out his widow at the moon--"Look, mommy! Look! See the moon?")
Aug 16: the boys seem to think that the arm of the armchair is a napkin. Ew.
Aug 18: both boys de-pantsed themselves at at preschool orientation today. Yea.
Aug 25: Benji lost his shoe this morning (a frequent occurrence). His first response when I said "WE HAVE TO FIND YOUR SHOE!" was "I want to pray!" Maybe I am doing something right....
Aug 25: Boys to their preschool teacher-- Micah: "When it rains, I grow antlers." Benji: "When it rains, I get a bit crazy!" Those are my sons.
Aug 28: my children are laughing like maniacs at AFV. It might be worth it to video tape them watching it!
Aug 30: this morning Micah tattled to Aaron that Benji had peed in a cup. Sure enough, when questioned, Benji proudly pointed to a small plastic kids cup on his bedroom floor. Just another typical day in the Meng household...
Aug 31: I think it is time to get out of the house. The boys are rolling around the living room floor like two scrappy little puppies.
Sept 1: Aaron superglued my glasses back together this morning. They were supposed to be indestructible according to the sales lady at my eye doctor. Apparently, twin boys were not on the "destruction" radar...
Sept 3: Aaron is teaching the boys to play Wii golf. They are so excited they can't even pay attention to our attempts to give them directions...
Sept 3: Micah (while he is playing golf): Mommy, when I say "SCORE!" you say "YEA!" ok?
Sept 13: Micah: Can I watch The Lion and the Woodchip (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe)?
Sept 19: tried to pick out a birthday card for Aaron at Walmart today: The boys picked My Little Pony, Tangled, and Dora, and "You're FIVE!" Cars cards. I decided we should shop another day.
Sept 26: the boys talked to each other on the phone for the first time tonight (1st time they have been away from each other for the whole night). There were many "I love you's" exchanged.
Sept 28: we heard a child crying in another room and I suggested we pray for him/her. Benji prayed: Dear God, thank you for him to feel better. Help him with the medicine in his bottom. Amen. (I don't think the memory of the enema is going away any time soon). Thanks for all your prayers for US!
Oct 2: So, the guinea pig's name is...."KITTEN"! HAHAH! Benji named him. Blog post with pictures coming soon! In Micah's words: Mommy, the guinea pig makes me happy!
Oct 10: GAH! My children are going to put me in the insane asylum!
Oct 16: I've been cleaning my bathroom floors multiple times a day thanks for my little boys' insistence on standing up to do their business
Oct 19: I am convinced that my children emit an invisible slime that is both sticky and grainy and have slimed every hard surface in my house
Oct 21: My kids got up at 2:45am, convinced it was morning (put them back to bed). Then they got up at the crack of dawn and together devoured a half a bag of candy corn before I got up. Benji then proceeded to sing Veggie Tales songs at the top of his lungs, with a strong resemblance to the musical masterpiece, The Flight of the Bumblebee.
Oct 23: Micah: Mommy, I pee wild? Me: No, Micah, please. Do not pee wild.
Oct 27: At school this morning, I heard Micah correct a friend for the first time with, "No, I'm Micah. Not Benji!" I'm afraid it won't be the last time, son.
Nov 7: When Micah grows up....he wants to have a big knife. Guess which profession he associates this with (blog post)
Nov 10: Micah: Mommy, you so really cute! You look like Kalina! :D
Nov 14: the boys are "playing" the piano together while singing the "Bob the Builder!" theme song. :)
Nov 18: maybe letting the boys watch the Narnia movies is a mistake...all they want to do is reenact the fight scenes....UG
Nov 18: hearing "Hey there Big Mommy" from your son just doesn't have the same ring to it as saying "Hey there Big Guy" to your son...
Nov 22: Micah keeps saying "Humpy Dumpy" (aka Humpty Dumpty) and it is making me giggle...
Nov 27: Micah: Mommy, I like crack! (referring the nut-cracker on the mantle)
Nov 30: just successfully played Candy Land with Micah! (Benji is at the doctor) Click like if you realize what am amazing accomplishment this is for a hyperactive 4 year old! :)
Dec 2: No son, eating all of Mommy's chocolate was not "an accident"! So much for my teacher gift...:P
Dec 4: ‎"BOYS! Trying to pee in the potty at the same time is NOT a good idea!!!!!"
Dec 17: just pulled a 3 lb ball of wet toilet paper plus two empty toilet paper rolls out of my toilet. GAH!! Thank God he did not try to flush!
Dec 22: Micah: "We went to the grocery store and got some grosch" Makes sense, right?
Dec 23: tonight while we were in the car, Benji could NOT stop talking about Santa coming (even though we haven't talked about Santa hardly at all!). Micah, annoyed, just kept saying loudly, "Santa's NOT HERE! Santa's NOT HERE!" HAHAHA!
Dec 26: the boys are playing football...with an imaginary ball. Seems to be working out pretty well for them. Must be a twin thing. :)

Want more? Click on "Humor" under Labels on the right and read to your heart's content! :) 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Luna the Lovebird

It has been several months since my beloved 22 year old lovebird, Polly, died. You can read about her here. I have really been missing having Polly, or just having a bird, in my life, especially in the afternoons when the boys are napping, in the evenings, and when Aaron is gone. I just loved having a little friend in my life to keep me company!

So.....
 ...today, we got a new lovebird! I had been thinking about it for a while and had even picked out a breeder but sadly, that breeder sold out before I was able to secure a deposit on a bird. Sad!
But a few days ago, my friend Debbie sent me the link to a craigslist post--someone was selling baby lovebirds!
 The seller hand-raised this little bird (she is about 8-9 weeks old, hatched mid October) and we drove an hour to pick her up. We only paid $40 for this little beauty! 
 I named her Luna, after Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter fame. Luna is an eccentric, quirky and lovable character in the books and lovebirds are much the same. 
I think it is a perfect name for this little sweetie! 
  She is very tame and sweet. I am already in love!
 I look forward to many wonderful years (another 22? I hope!) with my new feathered friend.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

"Squeeze your cheeks!"

We only have one bathroom and inevitably, sometimes the boys have to go to the bathroom at the same time. If it's #1, we usually have one of them pee in the tub. Gross, right? But ya gotta do what ya gotta do!

Last night though, both their little bowels were in sync and Micah got to the potty first. Benji came running back to the dinning room where Aaron and I were talking and frantically said, "I gotta go poop too!!"

Me: Well, baby, you need to hold it! Can you do that?
Aaron: Yeah, squeeze your cheeks, son!

Benji looked at us for a second and then pressed his little palms to his face and squeezed.

I hope that helped. :D

Disclaimer: No accidents occurred during the making of this story.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Meng Menu


Sunday: Bourbon Street Chicken, rice, broccoli
Monday: Beef Stroganoff, mashed potatoes, green beans
Tuesday: Frozen Pizza, salad
Wednesday: Bacon, eggs, toast, fruit salad
Thursday: White chicken enchiladas, salad
Saturday: Leftovers/Sandwiches

I went a little over on shopping this week:  $129. But that's because I bought our Christmas Turkey! Nineteen pound turkey for ~$15! YEA! So, going $4 over budget was worth it. 

I really enjoy trying out new recipes and have had a blast perusing pintrest for ideas. Last night we tried the Bourbon Street Chicken and it was great! We all loved it. It is a definitely-make-it-again recipe. 

Where do you find inspiration for your weekly menu? I hope that the "Meng Menu" helps give you yummy ideas to help you put food on the table for your family! 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Meng Menu


Sunday: Grilled Salmon, baked potatoes, caeser salad  
Monday: Chicken Cordon Blue Casserole, steamed broccoli w/ garlic butter
Tuesday: Frozen Beef Ravioli w/ marinara sauce, Greek salad
Wednesday: Cheeseburger pie, green beans
Thursday: Chicken stir fry w/ Raman noodles 
Friday: Garlic parmesan chicken, mashed potatoes, broccoli
Saturday: Frozen Pizza, salad

Can you tell chicken was on sale this week? It was BOGO for Tyson Frozen Chicken (any variety) at Kroger so I bought two! I was actually a little nervous about shopping today, feeling that I was sure to go over our budget of $125. Aaron needs to do this experiment for his Anthropology course and he picked cooking salmon on cedar planks for his little project. In my mind all I saw was $$$. BUT, when all was said and done, my total bill was......

$109.41.

YES! 

I saved $36.13 with my Kroger card and an additional $5.25 with coupons that Kroger so graciously sends me in the mail weekly. So, I was under-buget by quite a bit. And I am quite happy. And REALLY looking forward to Grilled Salmon on a cedar plank tonight for dinner. :)

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