Thursday, December 14, 2017

Nonfiction Review: Bored and Brilliant

I devoted November to nonfiction books on audio, too. At the end of the month, I listened to Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self by Manoush Zomorodi, a book I was eager to read after watching Manoush's TED Talk on the same topic (included below). I was fascinated by this book, and it was right up my alley, since I haven't been bored since the '90's and have been feeling very overwhelmed lately.

Manoush is the host of a popular radio show/podcast called Note to Self about living in the modern digital world. In 2015, she led her listeners in a week-long quest to shed some of their bad habits with respect to phones and other devices and see if they could all spend a little less time glued to their phones and a little more time to let their minds wander and be more creative. This book goes through that challenge, with 7 days of mini challenges, supported by lots of research and feedback from her listeners who tried it. Keeping in mind that I listened on audio, so these might not be verbatim, her challenges include:
  1. Observe Yourself
  2. Put Your Phone Away While In Transit
  3. Have a Photo Free Day
  4. Delete That App
  5. Take a Tech Break
  6. Observe Something Else
  7. Get Bored - Really Bored

I really enjoyed this audio book and found it very motivating. I don't actually own a smart phone (I know - gasp!), but I spend a LOT of time every day on my laptop (as I am at this moment) and can relate to how every moment is now filled...though, of course, I do take time to read every day! Ironically, since I'd been listening to her book obsessively (I finished it in just a few days), she inspired me to turn off her own book and leave my iPod in my pocket during one of my walks - and it was very nice. I didn't have any earth-shattering new ideas, but I enjoyed the rare bit of quiet time. I would like to try some of her challenges, and I also plan to try her podcast (uh-oh, that's yet another podcast taking up my quiet time!). If you struggle with being a bit too attached to your phone or feel like you haven't had a quiet moment in decades, this is the book for you. And, as a bonus, it is very entertaining, too.

208 pages, St. Martin's Press

P.S. This would make a really fun book group pick, especially if the members all agreed to try the 7-day challenge prior to the discussion!

For a sneak peek at Manoush's book, you can watch her interesting and entertaining TED Talk:



And you can listen to a sample of the author reading her book at this link.

Order Bored and Brilliant from a local independent bookstore:

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

Or order Bored and Brilliant from Book Depository, with free shipping worldwide.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Memoir Review: Mennonite in a Little Black Dress

I never found time to officially sign up for the Nonfiction November reading challenge, but I did participate in my own way and read almost entirely nonfiction last month (a rarity for me!). One of the nonfiction books I was excited to get to was Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home by Rhoda Janzen, a book I bought for myself at least five years ago (maybe longer) that has been patiently waiting on my shelf. It was worth the wait, and I thoroughly enjoyed this warm, funny memoir.

The author grew up in a Mennonite community in California and was still close to her parents and siblings but left for a secular life in academia years ago. Shortly after turning forty, however, her world fell apart. Her bipolar husband left her for a man named Bob he met on Gay.com (seriously), and she was in a terrible accident that left her with severe injuries. In need of some serious comfort and love, she returned home to her parents' house in her hometown and her Mennonite roots.

I know, this story sounds really depressing, but Janzen has a wonderful sense of humor woven throughout her book. It's clear that writing the memoir helped her to heal, as did the return home. Her eccentric mother is an especially wonderful element here, as she is un-endingly optimistic and a good sport when Rhoda teases her (hilariously). She suggests that Rhoda get over her broken heart by dating her first cousin, who is an excellent catch because he owns a tractor. Humor like this runs through the memoir, and often surprised me into laughing out loud and quoting sections to my husband.

Despite the humor and laughs, though, Rhoda is dealing with some very serious hurts, both physical and emotional, in this memoir: her husband's mental illness, his often-abusive behavior, his abandoning her, and her accident. Fortunately, with her loving, quirky family around her and surrounded by traditions that remind her of her childhood, Rhoda slowly but surely begins to heal and move forward in this moving and amusing memoir. The book ends with a very educational - and entertaining - Mennonite History Primer.

241 pages, Holt Paperbacks

I see that Rhoda Janzen wrote a sequel memoir, Mennonite Meets Mr. Right: A Memoir of Faith, Hope, and Love. I would love to read it! I hope not to have to wait another 5 years to get to it...

A few personal notes:

I was fascinated by Janzen's description of Mennonite history. Since we live very close to Lancaster, PA (home to the original US Mennonite colony and many modern Amish (that's an oxymoron!) and Mennonite families), I thought I knew a lot about Mennonites. We even became good friends with a Mennonite family whom we used to stay with when we traveled through the area when I was a kid and attended their Sunday church service one year. But, in all that time, I'd never before heard that the Mennonites had occupied the Ukraine for hundreds of years. This was doubly-shocking to me because my own family is Ukrainian (my great-grandparents both emigrated to the US from the Ukraine when they were teens). Interestingly, all the foods that Janzen describes here as "traditional Mennonite foods" are actually Ukrainian dishes - they even use a phonetic version of the Ukrainian terms for them! I laughed as she described the same cabbage rolls (Holubsti in Ukrainian) and potato dumplings (Varenyky - known as pierogies in nearby Poland) and Borscht (beet soup) that my family also eats. So, even though I live near many Mennonites and thought I knew all about their culture, I learned a lot from this very entertaining memoir.


Disclosure: I purchased this book myself. My review is my own opinion.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. Purchases from these links provide a small commission to me (pennies per purchase), to help offset the time I spend writing for this blog, at no extra cost to you.


You can listen to a sample of the audio book at this link.

Purchase Mennonite in a Little Black Dress or its sequel through an Independent Bookstore:

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org     Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

Or order from Book Depository with free shipping worldwide.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Movie Monday: The Fundamentals of Caring

While my husband was away recently, I selected a Netflix original movie I've been wanting to see, The Fundamentals of Caring. We always joke about watching movies the other wouldn't like when he's away, so I told him this one was about a teen boy in a wheelchair who might die young, and he was happy to miss it! But it turned out to be a very funny, moving story of friendship and hope.

Paul Rudd stars as Ben, a newly trained professional caregiver who went into the field to try to deal with a devastating divorce and loss. Ben gets a job caring for 18-year old Trevor, played by Craig Roberts (he plays David on Red Oaks, a show I enjoyed), who has muscular dystrophy and a LOT of sarcasm. Trevor's mom warns Ben not to get too close to her son because his dad left when he was young, and he was devastated by the loss. But Ben decides to upend Trevor's closely monitored routine and take him on the road trip of his dreams, to see all the strange roadside attractions he's always wanted to see. Despite his mom's misgivings, Trevor and Ben set off in the handicapped van for an eventful cross-country trip. Trevor experiences a lot of firsts on the trip but never loses his sarcastic edge, and along the way, they pick up a cute hitchhiker his age named Dot, played by Selena Gomez, who is dealing with her own  issues.

I really enjoyed this movie. Despite the heavy topics here - severe disability, loss, death, and more - it is filled with a dark humor that often left me laughing out loud. The actors are all excellent, and it's wonderful to see Trevor's life opening up a bit, even though the new experiences are sometimes terrifying to him. Ben helps him to realize his dreams, but along the way - as you might expect - Trevor helps Ben just as much. It's a moving, funny, uplifting film...and it's based on an amazing road trip (one of my favorite things, in real life and in movies).

The Fundamentals of Caring is a Netflix original movie, so it is only available on Netflix.



Oh, and I REALLY liked the movie's theme song, This Is the Only Time We Have by Ryan Miller:


It's Monday 12/11! What Are You Reading?

Whew, this time of year is SO busy! But I had a good week - finished my last writing assignments for 2017, just about finished with shopping, and enjoyed time with our sons and my father-in-law this weekend. I visited my tiny local bookstore and ordered a long list of books as gifts (nothing better!). We went to get our Christmas tree on Saturday morning, with fat, fluffy snowflakes falling - a rare sight in Delaware this early in the season! It was just enough snow to be pretty and not make the roads treacherous. We came home and enjoyed lunch in front of a roaring fire and watched A Muppet Family Christmas, our traditional start to the season. This is a wonderful Nickelodeon Muppet Christmas special from 2002 that we love - cracks us up every time, even though we know it by heart.

Even in this busy season, we always make time for books! Here's what we've been reading this week:
  • I finished Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption by Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton, and we had a great discussion on it at my book group (my review is at the link). Wow, this is a stunning true story co-authored by a woman who was raped and the man she incorrectly identified and sent to prison for 11 years before DNA evidence finally exonerated him. It's a very powerful story.
  • Now, I am reading The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers for a read-along hosted by the Book Cougars podcast, created by two women who've been to the same two Booktopias that I went to! I've never read this 1940 classic (nor anything by McCullers), and I am enjoying this story of a small Southern town that focuses in on multiple characters.
  • No audio books at all last week - I took a break to catch up on my podcasts, which have been piling up!
  • My husband, Ken, is still reading The Farm by Tom Rob Smith, a thriller set in Sweden that sounds really good and was highly acclaimed. I gave it to him for his birthday.
  • Our son, Jamie, 23, is re-reading a favorite trilogy, The Night Angel series by Brent Weeks. He finished book 2, Shadow's Edge, when he was at home on Saturday and is now onto book 3, Beyond the Shadows. He has two more final exams this week, and then he will have lots of reading time over winter break!
Last week's blog posts:
Movie Monday: Cloud Atlas - clever, visually stunning film based on the novel by David Mitchell (one of my favorites!)

TV Tuesday: Will & Grace 2017 - the popular sitcom returns!

Nonfiction Review: Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption by Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton - powerful true story

Graphic Memoir: Spinning by Tillie Walden - about coming of age, coming out, and growing up in the world of competitive figure skating

Saturday Snapshot: Beautiful Fall Days - just in time, with the snow on Saturday

What Are You Reading Monday is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date, so head over and check out her blog and join the Monday fun! You can also participate in a kid/teen/YA version hosted by Unleashing Readers.


What are you and your family reading this week?  

You can follow me on Twitter at @SueBookByBook or on Facebook on my blog's page.    

My sons and I at the tree farm (when did they get so big?)
 

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Saturday Snapshot: Beautiful Fall Days


Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Melinda at West Metro Mommy Reads.

Last week, I enjoyed the last of our lovely 60 degree weather and the last of the fall color with a couple of walks in local parks. Here are some highlights:


Sunlight and Shadows

Still some dry leaves left on the trees

A bit of fall color still clinging!

A lovely day

Bare trees and brilliant blue sky

Perfect Reflection

Bridge to the trail

One white tree, one dark

Trail selfie!

Bridge over a stream

Bold color & blue sky
Hope you are enjoying the weekend! Snow is heading our way today, which is very early for Delaware! We are heading out to cut down our tree.

Friday, December 08, 2017

Graphic Memoir: Spinning

I always enjoy graphic novels and memoirs, and I saved two in particular for Nonfiction November. The first one was Spinning by Tillie Walden, a memoir by a young woman who grew up in the world of competitive figure skating. This book not only tells a story but also creates a distinct mood and feeling to help the reader understand how the author felt.

Tillie grew up on the ice. She started figure skating at a young age, spending all her time after school and on weekends in cold rinks, practicing twirls, jumps, and other intricate moves on the ice. As the memoir begins, Tillie is a young girl in New Jersey, skating with a group of girls her age and a demanding, sometimes cruel coach for synchronized skating (but a kind, motherly individual coach). When she finishes 5th grade, her family - including her twin brother and older brother - move to Austin, Texas. It's a whole new world for Tillie, with a new school and new kids, and even skating is different, with a kind coach and an ice rink located inside a shopping mall.

Tillie continues to skate throughout middle school and high school, but she never feels happy or even comfortable there. She yearns for a close friend but doesn't know how to open herself up like that. Her family mostly ignores her and doesn't even come to her skating competitions, and she's bullied at school. She gradually comes to realize that she's gay, but she doesn't know how to tell anyone, so she lives in a silent, solitary world. Things get a little bit better in high school, where she discovers art and has her first girlfriend. Nothing is easy for Tillie, though, and she suffers several devastating setbacks and eventually decides that she needs to quit skating.
This is a long and detailed memoir, with so much to it that I had trouble summarizing it simply here. But the story is just a piece of the book. Tillie's drawings perfectly depict her mood and ambivalence during those difficult years. Dark purple and white, with occasional splashes of bright yellow, evoke the coldness and isolation Tillie felt, both at the rink and in her life generally. It's a very moving and sad story that makes you feel like you are there in that cold rink with Tillie. It's not all gloomy, though, and ends on a note of hope - and of course, we know that Tillie followed her dreams of drawing because of the beautiful, haunting book in our hands.

397 pages, First Second

I see this book is listed in the Teen category on Amazon, and it is excellent for teens, but also great for young adults and adults, too!


Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in return for an honest review. My review is my own opinion and is not influenced by my relationship with the publisher or author.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. Purchases from these links provide a small commission to me (pennies per purchase), to help offset the time I spend writing for this blog, at no extra cost to you.

You can see more sample pages from Spinning by clicking this link and clicking on "Look Inside."

Spinning
by ScholasticTrade Paperback
Powells.com

You can purchase Spinning from Book Depository, with free shipping worldwide.

Nonfiction Review: Picking Cotton

Last night, my neighborhood book group discussed a unique joint memoir, Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption by Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton, with Erin Torneo. This powerful and moving true story just blew me away.

In July 1984, Jennifer Thompson was a 22-year old college student living in Burlington, NC, in a small apartment near campus. She was awakened in the middle of the night by a black man next to her bed. He held a knife to her throat and raped her. During the rape, Jennifer played close attention to the man's face and tried to remember every detail, determined to help the police put him away if she survived this ordeal. After she got away from the rapist, he went to another woman's home and raped her, too. Days later, with the help of Jennifer's detailed composite sketch plus her identification through both photos and a line-up, the police arrested a man named Ronald Cotton. Ron insisted he was innocent, but both Jennifer and the police were certain they had the right man, and he was sentenced to life in prison, plus 50 years.

Ron ended up being in prison for eleven long years. Finally, a kind lawyer from a local college and the advent of DNA testing proved what Ron had been saying all along: he did not commit the crimes he was being punished for. The DNA testing also proved that Ron's identification of the real culprit - another man in prison for rape - was correct. After 11 years of being incarcerated, Ron finally walked out a free man, now 33 years old and starting over. Amazingly, he forgave Jennifer for her incorrect identification, and the two became not only partners in trying to change the laws and procedures that helped him to be wrongly imprisoned...but they also became friends.

The memoir alternates between Jennifer's point of view and Ron's, giving readers a unique peek into their very different perspectives of the same events. My book group all agreed that this was a very powerful book and a compelling read. There are so many fascinating aspects to the story, making it an excellent choice for discussion - the court trials that convicted Ron, the identification process, his exoneration with DNA evidence (and others), and most of all, the guilt that Jennifer felt, and Ron's forgiveness of her. We had a wide-ranging discussion on all of these topics and more. This story really gave us some insights into today's justice system and its many problems. I think this is a book that everyone should read.

287 pages, St. Martin's Press

For an introduction to Jennifer and Ron's remarkable story, watch this 60 Minutes segment about the case - even though I knew all the details after reading the book, hearing it from them still brought tears to my eyes:




Disclosure: I borrowed this book from the library. My review is my own opinion.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. Purchases from these links provide a small commission to me (pennies per purchase), to help offset the time I spend writing for this blog, at no extra cost to you.


I read this book on paper, but here is a sample of the audio book.





Tuesday, December 05, 2017

TV Tuesday: Will & Grace (2017)

I finally checked out the new Will & Grace series last week, and I am enjoying it so far!

In case you slept through the 90's and '00's, Will & Grace was a very popular sitcom that ran eight seasons, beginning in 1998, about a gay lawyer named Will, played by Eric McCormack, who lived with a straight interior designer named Grace, played by Debra Messing. The show wrapped up in 2006. In a move you don't see very often in televisionland, it came back this fall after an 11-year hiatus.

The new Will & Grace is pretty much the same old show that everyone loved, only set 11 years later. Grace is now divorced and has moved back into the same apartment with Will that they used to share (temporarily, she says), since Will's relationship also fell apart. Their friends, Jack and Karen, are always around and still the same outrageous characters they used to be. The four of them experience highs and lows together, with the additional challenges of aging.

At the beginning of the new 9th season, the show gets a bit political, addressing some of what is going on in the U.S. these days (the first episode actually takes place partly at the White House), but otherwise, the show is very much the same as the old days. The actors are still great, and the show is still very funny. I am enjoying the way the writers are bringing in some characters and storylines from the original show to either wrap them up or show what's happening now, including Grace's ex-husband, Leo (played by Harry Connick, Jr.), and Jack's son. I've watched four episodes so far and am enjoying it. It's still hilarious, but it can also be moving as it addresses some serious issues, and it is still just a lot of fun. When it first came back, it was supposed to be a limited run of just 8 episodes, but IMDB now shows a total of 16 episodes for this season AND a season 10 still to come!

And if you enjoy watching these lead actors, we really loved Eric McCormack on both Perception and Travelers (can't wait for season 2!), and I also enjoyed Debra Messing on The Mysteries of Laura, where she plays a very different character, a tough NYC cop.

Will & Grace is now airing on NBC, so I've been catching up and watching episodes On Demand. You can watch older seasons (1 through 8) on Amazon for $1.99 an episode or $14.99 for a season or catch up on the new 2017 season on Amazon for $1.99 an episode or $19.99 for the season.



    

Monday, December 04, 2017

Movie Monday: Cloud Atlas

I'm waaay behind on my movie reviews - Mondays are just too busy most of the time! So, today's review goes back about a month or so to when my husband and I watched Cloud Atlas. We came into the movie from two different perspectives - I had read the novel it is based on and he hadn't - so we had two different reactions to the movie (probably the opposite of what you would think!).

Let me start by explaining that I LOVED the novel Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (review at the link - no spoilers). It was one of those books that just blew me away and immediately rose to my list of favorite books of all time. I couldn't wait to see this amazing book brought to life on the screen, but, as I said, my husband hasn't read it yet, so he went into the movie adaptation cold.

This is a tough story to explain succinctly because it is actually a series of six stories, each set in a different time and place and featuring different characters. The stories, though, are linked in clever ways that aren't obvious at first, but as you watch (or read) you see these small connections. The stories begin in the 1800's and move forward in time to the 1990's and then onto a dystopian future filled with life-like robots and finally to a far distant future where technology is gone and humans - at least in this corner of the world - have reverted to a more primitive agrarian life. Each of the stories is engaging and interesting in itself - and each is very different from the others - but what I love most about this movie & novel is the way that it shows how everything and everyone is interconnected, even across centuries, and how one person's actions might affect someone else many years later and across the globe.

I know that usually when you love a book, you aren't too thrilled with the movie adaptation, but I really enjoyed this one. They used some very clever devices to show that interconnectedness in the film that went beyond what you can do in a book. For instance, they used the same actors for completely different roles in each story. So, Tom Hanks and Halle Berry each play 6-7 different roles in this movie, as do the other supporting actors. Sometimes each one plays a lead role in a story and sometimes a very minor one, but these same faces keep showing up in different guises, which just emphasizes the story's theme of interconnectedness. I absolutely loved seeing my favorite book brought to life in this clever way and watched for the tiny details that connected the different stories, sometimes pausing the movie to point something out to my husband. Since each story is so completely different - one is an adventure on the seas, one is a mystery set in 1970's California, one is a romance, etc. - the movie includes pretty much everything - history, suspense, comedy (the story about Timothy Cavendish is very funny!), romance, sci fi, and more.

My husband found the movie somewhat confusing, which is completely understandable given its complexity. Translating a 500-page book to a 2-hour long movie is always challenging, and with a book that encapsulates 5 completely different but connected stories, it's almost impossible. It helps tremendously if you already know the plotlines and how they connect and you can just sit back and enjoy the spectacular production. So, my husband said he enjoyed it OK but didn't love it.

Bottom line: If this sounds intriguing to you, I recommend you first read the book and then see the movie to see how it translates to the screen and to enjoy the clever ways they visually emphasized those connections between stories.

I am very interested to hear what others thought of the movie - whether you read the book first or not. Leave your comments below!

Cloud Atlas is currently available on Netflix streaming or to rent on Amazon for just 99 cents.



It's Monday 12/4! What Are You Reading?

Whew, what a busy week! After 10 days away, I spent most of last week trying to catch up - on e-mails, online support groups, blogging, etc. Every time I cleared 100 e-mails out of my inbox, another 100 would appear! Sorry I didn't get around to visit many blogs last week - just snowed under. And, it was also Cyber Monday, so online shopping kept me busy much of the week, too. The good news is that I finally cleared my e-mail inbox yesterday, and I am almost finished with my holiday shopping!

One wonderful thing last week was the weather. We had 50's or 60's most days and gorgeous blue skies and sunshine, so I took advantage of that and got out to take a walk most days. One last nice day today (going out for a walk when I finish this) and then more seasonal weather sets in tomorrow.

Another good thing (any week) is our books! Here's what we were reading last week:
  • I finished Hap and Hazard and the End of the World by Diane DeSanders, my next review book for Shelf Awareness. It's told from the point of view of a little girl growing up in Texas in the 1950's, and the author does a great job of describing things from a child's perspective. It is disturbing in parts, but it is also funny and nostalgic.
  • Now I am reading Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption by Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton for my neighborhood book group this week. Wow, this is a stunning true story co-authored by a woman who was raped and the man she incorrectly identified and sent to prison for 11 years before DNA evidence finally exonerated him. It's a really powerful and stunning story.
  • I finally finished listening to Where the Past Begins: A Writer's Memoir by Amy Tan. This was a fascinating memoir by the famed author, featuring her beautiful, lyrical writing and sharing details of her life and her family history. I enjoyed it.
  • Next, I listened to another nonfiction audio book, Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self by Manoush Zomorodi. I listened to it nonstop and finished it in less than a week! This is a very interesting and motivating book about our addiction to technology and how we fill every moment now instead of allowing ourselves some quiet time to just let our minds wander. Ironically, it inspired me to leave my iPod in my pocket and stop listening to the book during one of my walks last week!
  • My husband, Ken, finished reading To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis, a time travel farce, combining historical fiction (set in Victorian England), time travel, and plenty of humor. I enjoyed it (review at the link), and he did, too. He found the beginning a bit confusing (makes sense as the main character is confused!), but enjoyed it once he got into it.
  • Now, Ken just started reading The Farm by Tom Rob Smith, a thriller set in Sweden that sounds really good and was highly acclaimed. I gave it to him for his birthday.
  • Our son, Jamie, 23, is re-reading a favorite trilogy, The Night Angel series by Brent Weeks. He is (I think) on book 2, Shadow's Edge. I suspect his reading slowed way down this week with being back at school!
Last week's blog posts:
TV Tuesday: Norsemen - hilarious parody of Vikings we enjoyed on vacation

Fiction Review: Local Girl Missing by Claire Douglas - creepy mystery/suspense

Summary of Books Read in October - an all-fiction month for me!

Saturday Snapshot: West Palm Beach, Florida - highlights from our mini-vacation, from the beach to the city to the swamp!

What Are You Reading Monday is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date, so head over and check out her blog and join the Monday fun! You can also participate in a kid/teen/YA version hosted by Unleashing Readers.


What are you and your family reading this week?  

You can follow me on Twitter at @SueBookByBook or on Facebook on my blog's page.    

On one of my walks last week! More fall pics on Saturday.
 

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Saturday Snapshot: West Palm Beach, Florida


Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Melinda at West Metro Mommy Reads.

Amidst all the holiday hectic-ness last week and before a trip to spend the Thanksgiving weekend with our extended family, our little family of four escaped to the warm Florida beaches for a mini vacation.  Just three days of relaxing in the sunshine provided a lovely little respite in the busy holiday season - and we got lucky with perfect weather! Here are some highlights:

White egret among the rocks at the beach
The four of us...and the Goodyear blimp!
Perfect weather and beautiful beaches!
CityPlace in downtown West Palm Beach - Christmas trees & palm trees together!
Our CityPlace family selfie
Grassy Waters Nature Preserve - see the big alligator in the water?

Walking through the boardwalk trail at the preserve

Grassy Waters Nature Preserve
Just before we left, we saw this baby gator!
Beach at night - dinner right on the water!


Lots of beautiful murals in downtown West Palm Beach
Another cool mural
 Hope you are enjoying a nice weekend, wherever you are!