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Friday, October 30, 2009

Book Reviews: Girl Meets God, The Girl with the DragonTattoo, A Year by the Sea / New Member of the Moeller Family!

Girl Meets God

I enjoyed this book by author Lauren Winner. Lauren was raised by a reform Jewish father and a Christian mother, became an Orthodox Jew while in high school and then became a Christian while in college. At times she seemed a bit flippant and casual towards religion, but she was definitely straightforward in her thoughts and beliefs. Basically she liked the familiar rituals and stringent rules about Judaism, but in college she felt a strong tug on her heart from God that Jesus really was the Messiah. She said what she ultimately liked about being a Christian was spending time talking to a God who knew from experience what it was like to go hungry or to miss a best friend.

Even though she seemed a bit wishy-washy with converting from one religion to another, she was certainly fully informed and absorbed in each at the time. In the end she took her knowledge about Judaism and the Old Testament to enhance her Christian faith. She felt that God gave us laws but that He gave us the grace (through Jesus) to live those laws.

A favorite paragraph: (When talking about her relationship with a boyfriend) The only other person I have fallen in love with that way is Jesus, and I hope that goes more smoothly. I hope I remember, when I'm bored with Him , and antsy, and sick of brushing my teeth next to the same god every morning, I hope I remember not to leave Him. I am not so worried that He will leave me. The Bible, after all, is full of stories about God sticking with His bride, no matter how stiff-necked and prideful and unfaithful she may be.


The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

I finally read it! But after about 70 pages I almost gave up. I thought, here we go...another book that everybody in the world likes but me. Can I just tell you (wait, let me make sure my husband isn't listening) that I cannot stand James Bond movies? The first 70 pages was like reading a James Bond movie script. All this foreign conspiracy/international/government/security blah, blah, blah stuff. I hate books like that. B o r i n g.

On page 71, when they finally brought up the good stuff - the disappearance of Harriet Vangar, I decided to read on. And on. And on. The twists and turns were so much fun. Who done it? You'll have to find out for yourself. And you know what, I guess James Bond isn't so bad. But I like reading the scripts better than seeing the movies. Sorry honey.

Loved it. Can't wait to read the next one in the series: The Girl Who Played with Fire.


A Year by the Sea

Loved this book by Joan Anderson, who wrote it while going through a difficult time in her relationship with her husband. She decided to move to their cottage by the sea to ponder. For a year. Hmm.... Honey, I need some time to ponder. I'll be back in a year. I don't know how many people do that, but still, she pondered, and she wrote a book. Her writing is beautiful.

I pull my knees to my chest, wrap my arms around my shins, and drink in the sweet, pungent aroma of driftwood as the sun, salt, and sea are burned from it.
The wind creates a fickle flame that darts this way and that like fireflies. I'm
hypnotized by the blaze, seeing the burn of struggle, the dance of aliveness,
and knowing that the fire bears watching. I do not ever want the passion of my new ways to cool. The nourishment I feel can only be maintained if I stay close to
the elements - fire, air, water, earth. If I surround myself with them, I shall
always feel the stirrings of my soul.

I felt completely transported to another place while reading this book, like I took a year off and went to a cottage by the sea. Since I couldn't exactly do that, reading about it was the next best thing.

I love books that transport me, that make me feel like I'm with the author in the place she is describing - both physically and emotionally.



Without further ado, I'd like to introduce the newest member of the Moeller family:

Weighing in at a hefty 46 pounds...

The long awaited

Greatly anticipated

The beautiful

The intelligent

The sweet-as-can-be...


Marla, named after the Marlins, is 1 1/2 and, according to my dad, the only thing she doesn't do is fetch a beer from the refrigerator. My brother Ryan has them working on that.

Marla is what they call a release dog. Through CCI (Canine Companions for Independence) she was raised and trained in prison by inmates. It's been proven that dogs trained in prison have a higher success rate of actually graduating and becoming support dogs than if they live with and are trained by regular "puppy raisers."

Although she is intelligent and well trained, Marla did not pass CCI's extremely high standards required for graduation. But I know she's TOP DOG in the eyes of my dad and Trudy.

Congrats on your new "baby," guys; I can't wait to see her.

Here are the commands she knows:

Bed - lies down on a target

Car - loads into vehicle and does not unload until instructed

Down - lies down

Heel - positions itself on the handler's left and sits facing forward

Here - returns to the handler

Hurry - dog toilets itself

Jump - will place its entire body on top of an object

Kennel - will go inside of crate or dog run area

Lap - places its front legs across handler's lap

Let's Go - moves forward with handler

Name - used to gain the dog's attention

No/Don't - verbal correction

Off - will return all four paws to the ground

OK - is permitted to eat or drink

Quiet - stops barking

Release - is permitted to take a break from the command he was performing

Shake - extends paw towards person's hand

Side - positions itself on the handler's right and sits facing forward

Sit - places rear end on the ground

Speak - barks

Stand - stands on all four feet

Stay - will continue to hold a command position

Visit - lays head on the handler's lap

Wait - will not move forward across a designated threshold

Many of these are basic commands, but our two dogs only know "sit." And I would give anything for them to stop barking if I said "quiet."

Okay, you two, off to prison you go.


L said...

I'm just about to start Dragon Tattoo as well. Thanks for the heads up on the slow start! I will trudge through it.

Nise' said...

I loved Girl w/Dragon Tattoo and the follow-up Girl played w/Fire. Can't wait for the third book. The newest member of your family is adorable!

Jen said...

I'm a CCI puppy raiser, and I came across your blog through a search. How fun that your parents have a CCI relase dog!! Marla is adorable! Is that her official CCI name or has it been changed?

Unknown said...

Lula: Definitely takes some time to get into it in the beginning. You'll enjoy it though.

Nise': When does the third one come out?

Jen: That is so cool! I don't know how you give them up when they are ready to graduate. I couldn't do that. What a neat thing that you do, though, and for an amazing cause. Marla had a different name before, but it also ended in an "a" so she shouldn't have trouble adjusting.

Charlene Ann Baumbich said...

Never heard of the CCI program before. Thanks for the education. And I'm with you: Kornflake could do a little better with the "quiet" command. Other than that, he's wonderful and worth the extra barks.

(Although the contest is over, you can still view pics of Kornflake at

Anonymous said...

So glad you didn't give up on The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo! Thanks for the warning...I'd have given up after twenty something pages. ;)

bermudaonion said...

Oh my gosh, Marla is beautiful. I've seen a lot about the prison programs for training dogs. I bet it breaks those prisoners' hearts when the dog graduates. I'm sure Marla will be a wonderful pet.

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