Wednesday, November 28, 2012

29 of 30: Misunderstand

If you haven't been following along from the beginning, click here.

What do you think people misunderstand most about you?

I think this is a funny question because I could very easily misunderstand what people misunderstand about me. :)

However, these are my impressions.

I think people are under the impression that they need to protect me from difficulty because I can't handle it. Over the years, I've had people tell me that they didn't want to put me into situations that would be too "hard" for me.

Before I tell you the way that makes me feel, let me tell you why I think they do this.

I think they believe I am a sensitive soul who wears her emotions on her sleeve. This part is very true. I am sensitive and I am an emotional person. But that does not make me weak in any sense of the word. In fact, I think some of the strongest people are often those who are well-connected to their emotions.
I do cry easily. That doesn't make me weak either. It can be embarrassing sometimes, but it's part of who I am and I do my best to control it when necessary. You don't have to have a dry face to be strong.

When I was still working, I was told that I was denied extra responsibilities (that would have been good for my career) because they thought I would get my feelings hurt. I was too sensitive. At the time I was shocked. I was the best in my department in this particular skill and the responsibility was given to someone else because she was "tough."

On the flip side, I've seen others who think they have to be tough, loud or mean in order to be "strong." I think that just makes them look weaker. Confidence isn't loud. Strength isn't aggressive. The attributes that I want to incorporate into myself don't shout or hurt other people's feelings. I believe you can be confident and humble, strong and gentle. True strength emanates from a person and speaks for itself.

Now, let me tell you how it makes me feel.

I think it's insulting. When someone tries to "protect" me from something difficult, they're basically confessing their lack of faith in me. In my mind, they are telling me that not only do they believe I can't do it, but that I'll never be able to do it... ever. If you never give me a chance, how can I become more and better than I am? I am well aware that I certainly have my own way of doing things, but that does not mean I CAN'T do it. I find that I do best when I know those around me have confidence that I am capable. I don't NEED the people around me to cheer me on, but I'll be honest, everyone could use a little cheering on.

I've learned more about how strong and capable I am in the last two months than in the last five years. I've also learned where my weaknesses lie, but that doesn't stop me. I'm a work in progress, just like everyone else.

Let's all just have a little more faith in each other. We can all benefit from that kind of give and take.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Pin Fail

Okay, so I'm a Pin-whore. I admit it. I love Pinterest and I must pin all the things. Well, not really. Just a lot of things. Okay, everything except for the things I think are ugly or too lame to pin.

On that note...

I pin tested this:

"For the Christmas tree- Glue 2 of these, back to back and insert a silver metallic cord for hanging. Fill the insides of the tree with these after putting on the lights, but before putting on the ornaments. The sparkle will be tripled."

Tripled, you say?! Sign me up!!

So, about two weeks, or so, ago, I went to the craft store to look for mini mirrors. I was actually looking for round ones, but I would have been satisfied with whatever they had.

As it turns out, all the other crafty mormons must have seen the pin too because the selection of mini mirrors was pitifully small. I also found that the square ones tended to get chipped, cracked or completely broken into finger-slicing shards of pain. For a bag of about 20 square ones, it cost $2.50.

That's not too bad, you say? Well, considering that in order to do this pin properly, you have to glue these mirrors back to back with a little loop of twine in between so that you can hang it up. So, each bag would only make 10 of these little darlings. If I had wanted the round ones (which were more asthetically pleasing and not so much broken) they only had bags with mixed sizes which didn't appeal to me at all.

Well, I mulled it over for about 10 minutes while my children started whining about going to the fabric section.... really, I have no idea why they like it so much.

Finally, I noticed that they had some round, flat and mostly reflective silver sequins right in the same area. I could get a bag of about 250 of those for the same price as 20 mirrors! I reasoned with myself that they certainly wouldn't reflect as much as a tiny mirror, but I could buy a lot more of them for the same price and that would make up for it!


So, I bought those.

About a week ago, I set out to glue those babies together, but first I had to cut all those little lengths of string.  250 divided by 2 equals... uhhh... 175. Yay, I'll cut 175 little lengths of shiny silver string. Wee! Before you say anything at all about that, yes, it wasn't until I ran completely out of sequins that I started to realize that there might have been something wrong with my math.

So, the half hour that it took me to cut the string.. didn't think about it. The next hour and a half to two hours that it took me to glue them all together... didn't think about it. It wasn't until I ended up with a pile of string and no sequins that I thought there might be something wrong.

However, I didn't immediately assume that it was my bummer math skills. I thought that maybe I didn't find all the ones that had fallen on the floor when I tried to make piles of the slippery devils and they squirted straight out of my fingers and all over the desk and floor. So, I searched the floor for what would have been 100 sequins if my math had been completely correct to begin with.

Yeah. I have sad math skills... especially when I'm excited about a project, I guess.


So, I had to wait almost a week before I put up the tree. I have pictures for you. There is a slight difference in the light in the room from the before and after, but in the end, I don't think it makes a difference.


Here is the tree before putting in the little sequin "ornaments/light enhancers".


Here is the after. See any difference? Me neither.


This is a closeup of the sequins. See, they're reflective and they were brighter in person than the picture shows. They were even really close together. Bummer.


I even started strategically placing the sequins right next to the lights. I didn't bother putting them at the back of the tree because those wouldn't be seen anyway.

In the end, I think that the style of my tree with it's thick, drooping branches is what killed it.

I don't consider it a true loss. I'm sure those little sequin ornaments would be really cute on a twig tree centerpiece.

Friday, November 23, 2012

28 of 30: Love Language

If you haven't been following along from the beginning, click here.

What is your love language?

Alright, I wasn't sure what this was talking about at first, so I looked it up. There is a website where you can take a test that assesses your emotional communication preferences. You can take the test as a wife, husband, single person, children, parents of teenagers, etc. Here's the link:

The five love languages are Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service and Physical Touch. In the email I got it says, "The highest score indicates your primary love language (the highest score is 12). It's not uncommon to have two high scores, although one language does have a slight edge for most people. That just means two languages are important to you. The lower scores indicate those languages you seldom use to communicate love and which probably don't affect you very much on an emotional level."

My scores are as follows:

8 Words of Affirmation

7 Quality Time
5 Receiving Gifts
3 Acts of Service
7 Physical Touch

This is what is says about Words of Affirmation
"Actions don't always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, "I love you," are important--hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten."

I find that this test was pretty accurate. I'm very much a verbal communicator and receiving positive feedback is very important to me. I also found it interesting that I had two second-highest scores that were very close to the top score. Unfortunately, I don't have the descriptions on that. If I were to want to know about those, there is a book I can purchase.

So, for those of you that have any interaction with me at all, here you have it. You now know how to best communicate with me. ;)

I just think that it's hilarious that I don't follow the "Actions speak louder that words." rule. For me, actions have the lowest score of all. Though, I think there is a little overlap in these categories. I mean, someone who is willing to spend quality time with me and help me feel good about myself, in my opinion would be performing an act of service for me.

As far as receiving gifts, I was surprised that it was higher than service to be honest with you. I suppose it has to do with the fact that I like to have things around me that remind me of people. And, I suppose you could also look at a gift as something non-physical if you want to go that far... :)

So, what's your Love Language? Seriously. I'd really like to know!

Until next time...

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

27 of 30: Favorite Body Part

If you haven't been following along from the beginning, click here.

What is your favorite part of your body and why?

This one makes me laugh just a little bit. But, I won't go there.

My favorite parts are my eyes. This isn't just because I think they are beautiful. I'll break it down for you.

I like my eyes because they ARE beautiful. They are deep blue with silver facets running through them. When I was young, my mother told me that I had the darkest blue eyes she had ever seen. They've since gotten a little bit lighter but they're still fairly dark. When I was younger and not ashamed of vanity, I used to say my favorite color was Sapphire Blue because my eyes were the same color. My son has very similar eyes and that makes me smile.

I also like my eyes because of the emotion that is always expressed through eyes in general. They tell so much about a person.

My final reason for liking my eyes is because of how useful they are. My first thought about this particular blog was that my hands were my favorite because I write with them. Then I thought, I need my eyes to write and I also need my eyes to read what I write. If not for my eyes, my hands wouldn't be able to what they do in this case. I can also track my love for writing back to my love for reading. If not for my eyes, I wouldn't have been able to read like I do.

So there you go.. :)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

26 of 30: Popular Notion

If you haven't been following along from the beginning, click here.

What popular notion do you think the world has most wrong?

There are a lot of hot button topics out there and there's a reason why they're called "hot button topics". I really hesitated about writing this one. However, I respect that other people have their opinions and I would hope that people can respect mine. I mean, this blog is about what I think. In the end, it's not me (or anyone who might happen to read my blog) who makes the decisions about what is really right and wrong. Thank heaven for that.

Marriage is a complex, diverse and emotionally driven subject. On this blog, today, I am not going to talk about same-sex marriage. I do have an opinion. However, the climate on both sides of the argument is deadly and I just don't want to put myself out there.

I want to talk about the frivolous nature in which people today treat marriage. I want to preface this by saying that I'm not an expert in any way whatsoever. I am simply someone who happens to have some experience being married, watching my friends and family who are married or not married and I've spent some time thinking and coming to my own conclusions. You may not agree with me and that's okay. That's the joy of being an individual with your own experiences and mind. I won't step on your ideas if you promise not to step on mine. I also want to say that I'm not writing this as an advice column to help you work out all your issues. I don't have the magic formula to make marriage work. I'm still working on that, myself.

I once had a conversation with a young single mother who had lived with her boyfriend/father of her children for years. I said, "You've been together for so long, why don't you just make it official and get married?" In my mind, marriage was a beautiful way to dedicate yourself to the person you love. I suppose I was a little naive back then about the world-view on marriage. She simply stated that she didn't want to get married because it was just a piece of paper. At the time, I was so bowled over by her trivialization of marriage that I didn't have a response. As a side note, I discovered later that if she had gotten married, she wouldn't have qualified for all of the government assistance she was receiving. While I am not passing judgement, I felt this was dishonest since she lived with the guy and was benefiting from the money he was bringing in, anyway.

When we view something like marriage as "just a piece of paper", we cheapen it significantly. If it's just a piece of paper, then all you need is just another piece of paper to get out of it once things don't turn out the way you want them to. If you never got the piece of paper to begin with, all the easier to just split when things get rough.

Marriage is a commitment, a contract, a promise that we make with another human being that we love. Or at least, in my opinion, love is the ideal. I understand that some people will marry for reasons other than love, and more power to them if it works out. As for me, I choose love. We make this commitment that binds us to a person and we become responsible for them as they become responsible for us. I don't see it as an imprisonment, shackling us to another person, but a partnership in which two people can work together toward a common goal.

Marriage may not always be perfect and this is one of the areas where I also think the world in general has it wrong. For so many people, if your marriage isn't as perfect as a fairy tale, Disney movie, chick flick or romance novel, it's a failure and not worth the work of making it better. How can two imperfect people make a perfect marriage? It's simply mind-boggling that anyone would expect that. Most stories in movies and books end on or around the wedding. The epic culmination to any romance. But what about after? What about the rest of the story? The real adventure begins AFTER the wedding!

It's not always easy, in fact, most of the time it's really challenging. You're talking about sharing your life, hopes, dreams, secrets, weaknesses and strengths with another person. Your spouse may not always understand where you are coming from, and you'll frequently wonder how they can function the way they are. Yes, you might have some arguments or fights. Yes, you might have to work out some disgusting habits on either side. In the end, I believe, it just makes both of you stronger and wiser.

Every marriage has challenges. EVERY marriage. Anyone who tells you differently is a liar or deluded. Some of your friends or family may appear to have a perfect marriage when you look at it from the outside, but I guarantee that it's not. But that doesn't mean in the least that they aren't happy or that they don't love each other. You're setting yourself up for disappointment if you try to compare or model your marriage based on someone else's. The point is, you don't give up just because your spouse has some bad habits or gets on your nerves. Respect, honesty and communication go a long way.

The world says it's okay to run away if things aren't perfect. The world says we can can sweep all that under the rug and try again with another person. The world doesn't tell us to stay and do our best to build a marriage that is mutually satisfying and joyful. It's work. A marriage fails when one or both members give up.

However, I will say that there are circumstances where a divorce might be the best thing. Unrepentant abuse in all it's forms, and I include infidelity as a type of abuse, is not to be tolerated. No one should suffer through a situation like that. If the abusive spouse is willing to get counselling and try to mend their ways, there may yet be hope in those marriages.

My point is that, no matter what, each and every marriage is worth hard work and dedication. You have to actually TRY. If you can honestly say you have done everything you can to try to make a beautiful and healthy marriage, one of two things will happen. You will have a beautiful and healthy marriage that is worth every second, or, you have a spouse who won't or can't work along side you. Either way, you haven't failed. You have done your best.

Marriage is not frivolous. I am passionate about my feelings on that and unapologetic.

13 years and counting...

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Final 20!

Okay, so as far as the 100 Books before Kindergarten goes, we did make it and read all 100 books before Kindergarten started. I just became a giant mess by the time the end of summer came and neglected everything in my life that wan't breathing. I even stopped my own personal reading! I KNOW! It shocked me, too, when I realized. As of this moment, I'm re-reading The Hunger Games series. I find it isn't as confusing the second time around. But I digress.

If you remember my original post, which you probably don't because that was way back in May and I can hardly remember last week, I mentioned that we only owned 12 of the 100 listed. We have since acquired a couple additional books from the list and we only had to buy one brand new! That's right, ONE. Between the library, thrift stores and friends/family, we were able to get our hands on all the other books.

I decided to write out the final 20 in one blog. I know it's long, but it may be months before I get my life back on track again. Actually, I happen to know that my life is going to be an inconsistent mess until next summer and maybe even then since I am anticipating a move. Hm. Maybe I'd better get used to the craziness I call life right now. It may not ever go away.

Anyway, without further ado, the final 20.

21. Eddie’s Garden: And How to Make Things Grow by Sarah Garland () This book was similar to the other book we read by Sarah Garland, Doing the Garden, which I reviewed here. Another sweet story by Sarah Garland, the kids and I enjoyed the simplicity and realism of this story. The simple joys of life never get old.

68. One Some Many by Marthe Jocelyn () This was an interesting take on a counting book. The title seemed strange to me before we read it but it was all about words we use to count. One. Some. Many. The pictures were in the style of color block cut outs, bold and clear. Though the book didn't elicit any strong reactions from my kids, I know they were just soaking it up. Of course, I'm always pro-vocabulary. This may be one to buy.

71. Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me by Eric Carle () I love Eric Carle. His books are engaging, quite educational and memorable. This story was tender and a lot of fun. A daughter asks her father to get the moon for her and he goes to great lengths, literally, to get it for her. Several of the pages opened up quite large, which had quite an impact on my kids. It was a little longer than the usual Carle book, but it was just as entertaining.

73. The Perfect Nest by Catherine Friend (★1/2) This story is about a cat who wants to make the perfect omelette  He reasons with himself that if he built the perfect nest, the perfect chicken will lay an egg on it and his omelette is as good as his. His nest turns out to be a bit too perfect and trouble ensues. The kids loved this silly book and were able to follow the story easily. The pictures were really funny, too.

74. Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin () Pete the cat is walking along with his white shoes on singing a song. He steps into a pile of strawberries which changes the color of his shoes. Then he steps in blueberries, changing them again (but, oddly, not blending the colors). All along he sings while he continues to step in stuff, changing the color of his shoes again. While this was a cute book, I found it unfortunate the educational opportunities were not taken. Why not blend the colors? Why didn't Pete learn to look where he was going? Is there a moral to this story? If so, it's: Life happens, you can't or don't need to take control. Good thing they're too young to read into it too much. Maybe that's the point?

83. Stanley’s Party by Linda Bailey () Stanley the dog's people go out a lot and he is left home alone. Normally, he is a good dog, but eventually he realizes that he can sit on the coveted couch and they'll never know. One thing leads to another and the dog takes over the whole house. I can still picture my 5-year-old shaking her head at the dog's naughtiness. In the end, Stanley had to mend his ways and his people learned a thing or two as well. Cute story. Beautiful, detailed illustrations. Worth the read!

84. Stella, Star of the Sea by Marie-Louise Gay (★1/2) Stella and her brother go to the beach. Stella's little brother, who has never been, is brimming with questions to which Stella always has the answer, right or wrong. But the real question is whether Sam will ever get into the water. This is a sweet story about a girl's relationship with her little brother. I'm a sucker for big sister/little brother stories for obvious reason. What a cute tale!

85. The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf () I think everyone must know about Ferdinand. I remember watching the cartoon when I was younger. Ferdinand is the gentlest bull you could ever meet. While all the other bulls run and butt heads, he just wants to sit in his favorite spot and smell flowers. The pictures are simple ink drawings but beautifully detailed. This classic story has lasted through the years as a favorite for a reason. May it last through many more generations. 

86. Strega Nona: Her Story by Tomie dePaola (★3/4) For those of you unfamiliar with the Strega Nona books, she is called a "witch" but is more like the town healer. For those of you familiar with Strega Nona, this is the story of her birth and learning to be a healer. Fun retelling of an old folk-tale with enough humor to keep the kids interested an entertained. Great story.

87. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig () Sylvester finds a magic pebble that makes all his wishes come true. Unfortunately he makes a hasty wish in a moment of danger that separates him from his family. Miss A was very invested in this story. She was very concerned for Sylvester and was practically yelling at the book when his family was nearby and just didn't recognize him. Any story that engages my children gets a thumbs up from me!

88. Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester () Tacky is an odd bird. The other penguins know it an are often perplexed by his oddness. In the end, however, it is Tacky who saves them all because he is different. What a delightful romp this book was. While there are a lot of books out there celebrating individuality, I especially liked that this little bird used his strengths to help others. A message worth reading.

90. The Three Pigs by David Wiesner () This traditional tale literally gets blown away. While the story follows the typical pattern to begin with, the story soon comes to life when the wolf huffs and puffs a little too hard and blows the pigs straight out of the book! This story won a Caldecott award for it's beautiful illustrations and it is well deserved. The twist on the story was refreshing as well. Win, win!

91. The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka () I remember my mother reading us this story when I was younger. I've read a lot of story books and it says something for any book that I remember fondly after so many years. This version of the Three Little Pigs tale is told from the perspective of the wolf who paints the pigs in a very bad light indeed. According to him, the real story is about a sneeze and a cup of sugar. I'm glad my children were old enough when we read this to be familiar with the original story so that they understood the humor in this new one. While I don't think my daughter enjoyed the ugly-interesting style of illustrating, I'd say she got into the spirit of the story and had fun, which is exactly the point!

92. There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly by Pam Adams (★1/2) While this books follows the classic poem/song almost exactly, the pictures are what make the book (as well as the amusing moral in the end). In eye-popping color, the old lady continues to eat what isn't good for her, looking progressively more unhinged with every page turn. Instead of merely drawing each page with the newly added critter in her stomach, this book gradually increases the size of the die-cut hole in the page to include the newest creature. No matter how this story is told, it always amuses children, but this book adds a new dimension with gorgeous illustrations and well-placed windows.

93. Tuesday by David Wiesner (★+) The unassuming title of this book belies the stunning nature of this Caldecott winner. Every turn of the page brings new wonder to the odd happenings on what should be a normal Tuesday evening. But who wouldn't love the magic of ordinary bullfrogs flying through the air on their lily pads? The expressions on both the frogs and the other creatures they pass just as priceless as the wonder and magic this book brought into my children's lives.

95. A Visitor for Bear by Bonny Becker (★1/2) Bear simply doesn't want company, but that won't stop Mouse from trying in a sweet, polite and gentle way. While Bear becomes frustrated, my children were amazed at all the unusual places Mouse would show up and wonder aloud how in the world he could have gotten there. I will never get tired of a book my children interact with!

96. Wheels on the Bus: A Book with Parts That Move by Paul O. Zelinsky () The classic song is brought to life by moving parts in this fun book. We enjoyed this book very much, but I would hesitate at buying it myself as my children are not as gentle as I would like. Though, I would recommend this beautiful book to parents with children less inclined toward book destruction!

97. Where Is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox (★1/2) This book keeps you turning pages as you try to find the green sheep. There are red sheep, blue sheep, thin sheep, fat sheep. If nothing else, this is a great book for teaching colors, opposites and vocabulary to young children. My five-year-old might have been a bit older than the targeted audience but she enjoyed it anyway.

99. Where’s Spot? by Eric Hill () This is the one book I had to buy new because I couldn't find it at either library in my area. As it turns out, it's a good thing because this is one of those lift-the-flap books that certainly would have been in poor condition if I had acquired it any other way. Spots mother is looking for her puppy so that he can have dinner. She searches all through the house, looking in every possible place. My children loved discovering each new place and lifting the flaps to try to find Spot. As it turns out, this book has not left their room since we bought it. They love it!

100. Yoko by Rosemary Wells () Yoko's mother sends her off to her first day of school with her favorite food: Sushi! Her classmates, however, are appalled by the unusual meal, branding it "Yuck-o-rama" Yoko's teacher has an idea up her sleeve, however, to help broaden the horizons of all her students! The author of the famous Max and Ruby books sends her adorable little animal characters on a food tasting adventure in the sweet book. If nothing else, it enforced what I always tell my own kids: Don't say you don't like it until you try it!

So that finishes the 100 book challenge. I do have another list somewhere of more books to read, but I'll be darned if I can't find it. Once I get the hang of the school year, I think I'll buckle down and find the list, strike off the ones we own or read this summer and start visiting the library again.

If nothing else, I reinforced my desire for my children to love reading as much as or more than I do! There's a magical world of books out there!


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