Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus - Review

Last week, Utah Dad and I took the two boys to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in Salt Lake City. We arrived early, found great parking and went in to find our seats. We paid $15 for 4 bottles of water and reminded the boys that we were not buying any other over-priced items at the event. Being bribed with the promise of a trip to Culvers afterward may have helped but they were really good and didn't ask for anything.

The "Greatest Show on Earth" started with plenty of flash and fun. The music and dancing and light show was very entertaining and got things off to a great start.

I enjoyed the horse show by the Cossacks even though I had butterflies in my stomach as I watched the riders twist and turn and hang upside down on the racing horses. Perhaps having fallen off a horse a time or two makes me a bit more sensitive, but they put on a fabulously entertaining and daring performance.

 I also am a fan of the high flying trapeze artists. The Flying Caceres are amazing!!

 The dogs were surprisingly entertaining. I was shocked by how much I enjoyed Klose's Performing K9's silly and clever antics. And who would have guessed that I would actually be amused by a cat? I really was!!

The Ring Master had loads of charisma and talent. His partner, Paulo dos Santos was a natural and kept the show moving at a quick and entertaining pace.

Giant, wild cats are always cool.

Neal's very favorite part of the entire show were the martial arts masters the Kung Fu Kings and the Shaolin Troupe. He was so impressed by their skills and feats and talked about them all the way home after the show.

I am always impressed by the motorcycles in the ball but the show last week was extremely amazing as eight motorcyclists rode in the ball at the same time in a spectacular death-defying stunt. Check out the Torres Family.

With the exception of the kid that sat behind Utah Dad and kicked the back of his seat during the entire show, we all had a fabulous time at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum &Bailey Circus.

** I am a Feld Family Ambassador and in exchange for my time and efforts in attending shows and reporting my opinion within this blog, as well as keeping you advised of the latest discount offers, Feld Entertainment has provided me with complimentary tickets to Feld shows and opportunities to attend private Feld pre-Show events. Even though I received these benefits, I always give an opinion that is 100% mine. **

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Blackberry Winter - Book Review

After reading two books about genocide (In the Shadow of the Banyan and The Sandcastle Girls) I was ready for something lighter. So, it was perfect timing that the newest book from one of my favorite authors arrived in my mailbox last week.

Sarah Jio's third novel Blackberry Winter has just been published. I enjoyed both of her earlier novels, The Violets of March and Bungalow and I must say that her books just keep getting better.

Claire Aldridge, a reporter for the Seattle Herald, is given the assignment to write about the weather phenomenon known as a "blackberry winter" when snow falls in May. In her research, Claire discovers that the last "blackberry winter" was in 1933 and on that very day a little boy went missing. Determined to find the truth about the missing boy, Claire also discovers truth in her own life and is able to heal from the deep personal wounds.

Jio has a comfortable style of writing that I can easily get lost within her stories. Her characters are realistic and often make unwise decisions for which they must unravel themselves. Yet, they are so likable that reader can't help rooting for their ultimate success. Jio also brings her city to life in both eras--present day and the Great Depression years. Like her previous novels, Blackberry Winter is a delightful read with a well plotted mystery that will have the reader turning pages late into the night.

**I received a complimentary copy of Blackberry Winter in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was received.**

The Sandcastle Girls - Book Review

Even the most casual historian knows about the genocide in Cambodia, Rwanda and especially Nazi Germany, but how many people know anything about the brutal murder of over a million Armenians in the early twentieth century? I must admit that I did not know that starting in 1915, the Turkish government massacred the Armenian men and then forced the women, children and elderly to march into the desert where most met their deaths.

Last week, I learned of this gruesome and barbaric history when I read the well researched and passionate novel The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian. Bohjalian writes of his own ancestral heritage and channels the tragedy and horror in his latest novel. Though Bohjalian is a bestselling and famous author I had not previously read any of his books. I will have to add them to my list.

Elizabeth Endicott is the daughter of a Boston Philanthropist who is working to relieve the suffering of the
Armenian people. While in this distant land, Elizabeth witnesses evils she could not previously imagine and makes the acquaintance of Armen, a young Armenian man working with the German on the railroad. Armen has lost his family in the brutal attacks and finds comfort and strength from Elizabeth. The Sandcastle Girls is their story as they find love in the midst of horror.

The narrative skips from several different perspectives, including Elizabeth's granddaughter who is researching the story. Initially, this style was a bit confusing but it didn't take long before I was familiar enough with the characters that it flowed comfortably.

The history is well researched and is enlightening. The tragedies in our human existence are painful to recall but are valuable to remember. The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian brings an abomination to our remembrance in a powerful and passionate way.

**I received a complimentary copy of The Sandcastle Girls in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was received.**

Friday, September 14, 2012

Caring About Politics

I've spent the week sick in my house (so grateful to my thoughtful children who so readily share their back-to-school germs with me) and I've been watching the news with growing dread and frustration. I couldn't help but feel indignation as our embassies and diplomats are attacked. And then the other day a friend posted a thoughtful opinion about politics on Facebook and immediately one of her other friends whom I do not know, posted a comment with the iconic frown face :( and a plea to keep politics off Facebook. The original Facebook status was not insulting to anyone. She did not include any of those horribly inappropriate and offensive comments such as "All liberals are baby killers and should die." or "All conservatives are gay bashers and should die." These types of comments have no place in political discussion or any discussion and if we want to have any friends at all they should be avoided. Though saying something against one candidate or another does not fall into this category, unless one crosses the line and says they should die. In this case, my friend posted her opinion--her well thought out, honest opinion.

We've heard the maxim our entire lives, avoid discussions of politics and religion in social situations. We wouldn't want to get heated. We don't want to offend. We want to be friends with everyone. Facebook, the popular "Friend" place where the people from high school that wouldn't even acknowledge my existence then  now want to be my "friend", is the place we gather and share the information from our lives. It's the ultimate social situation these days. So, obviously we should avoid discussions of politics and religion. Right?

At the risk of offending someone, I beg to differ. Why not share the most important thoughts on Facebook? Why can't we step it up a level and have better discussions? The internet and social sites like Facebook and Twitter now let everyone share their opinions. If we do share, with respect to one another, can't we help shape thought and political dialogue for the entire country? Don't you care at all?

Personally, I don't get offended by someone else's political opinion. I don't really care if you're right or left or centrist (OK, let's not go too far, I genuinely hope most people are closer to my own opinion--don't we all). I care that you care. It's a big election year. It's important. There are very different choices that may impact our country that we love and our freedoms. And wishing it will just go away so that you can go back to posting about football rivalries and your latest hair cut on Facebook, is not going to change the fact that  in two months you will get the blessed opportunity to vote for the candidate of your choice. Please educate yourself. Make a good choice. Care. Just a little. Please.

My niece posted this graphic on Facebook just this morning and it so perfectly summed up my thoughts that I nearly didn't write this post at all.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus - Mom Online Discount Code

When I was in second grade my family traveled to Salt Lake City to see the circus. Even more than I remember the circus, I remember the overwhelming anticipation as I watched the slow clock that day at school. I was so so so very excited and the Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus did not disappoint.

The circus is coming to town again this year! It's definitely time to get tickets. And as a mom and a Utah Mom's Life Blog reader you have the chance to take advantage of the special Mom Online Discount Code! My readers can use this code to get $5 off tickets for the $18 & $25 price level – discount code is MOM that can be used for online purchases only; discount is valid for these select performances only – Friday at 11:30am; Saturday at 11:00am; Sunday at 1:30pm; Monday at 7:00pm

Thursday, September 20 – Monday, September 24

EnergySolutions Arena  

Ticket prices are $18, $25, $40 (VIP), $60 (Front Row) and $85 (Circus Celebrity)
Discounted Opening Night tickets available for only $11 each (not valid on VIP/premium levels)
All seats are reserved; tickets are available from the EnergySolutions Box Office and all SmithTix
locations, charge by phone at 801-355-SEAT or 800-888-TIXX and online at www.smithstix.com or www.energysolutionsarena.com.

** I am a Feld Family Ambassador and in exchange for my time and efforts in attending shows and reporting my opinion within this blog, as well as keeping you advised of the latest discount offers, Feld Entertainment has provided me with complimentary tickets to Feld shows and opportunities to attend private Feld pre-Show events. Even though I received these benefits, I always give an opinion that is 100% mine. **