Dec 2, 2014

Update: Timing

Timing sucks.

The past couple of years I have felt like I've been on a different clock than everyone else. Like, I'm off Daylight Savings while everyone else is on so I'm always running an hour behind. And then I'm on it when everyone is off, so I'm always an hour ahead (or would it be the other way around?). This isn't always a bad thing, not at all, but it's more strongly felt when it is.

You know all the stuff I've been through the past year--well, up until I just seemed to drop off the face of the planet and never wrote an update. You know about the bad timing that came with applying to grad school, and the bad timing with my previous job. You also know about my good timing when it came to finding a job after only a month of being unemployed--I had been expecting being unemployed for at least three months.

The four months that I've been working have been good timing. I came in at the right time, just when things started to build in the company, and just in time to prove my worth in order to start getting more responsibility and maybe move up.

I moved last month and that was good timing. It's a little cheaper, and in a house, which is nice.

I had bad timing a couple of weeks ago when I rushed out of the house to get to work and ended up getting in a car accident that totaled Perry. It wasn't my fault, and there were no injuries, but one of my first thoughts was that if I hadn't rushed so much, if I had left the house even a few seconds later, I would have gotten to work fine. And I wouldn't have had to deal with all the stress of talking to insurance and getting a new car (and getting things fixed on the new car). I wouldn't have dealt with the physical manifestations of that stress like sore muscles and a clenched jaw. I think for the moment I'm done though--once I get it registered. It started off pretty rocky, but I think Alfie's and mine relationship will get stronger as we go on.

I've had good timing when it comes to Baby E. Sis, Bro-in-law, and Baby E just moved back here, and I've been able to see Baby E's curiosity and her growth. She's a little mimic, and catches on to things so quickly that it seems like she's changing all the time. I'm glad that I get to spend this time with her.

And then there's bad timing when I finally get to the point when I can put myself out there and want to reconnect with someone and try to give it another go, but I missed the opportunity. Or maybe the timing was always off for us. It's hard when someone being happy means losing a friend and a hope.

I know that the way I plan things, or the timing I want to have, doesn't really matter in this huge plan that God has for me. But it's hard to put trust in Him and not just think that I'm the one that's messing everything up. Because I truly believe that if I keep on trying to do all the things I'm supposed to, and if I keep following the good thoughts that come into my head (even if they seem to turn out badly . . .) then God won't forsake me. He would never leave me on my own. His strength is the strength that I need most in my life, especially when I feel my strength leaving me.

There is nothing wrong with my timing being off. It just means that my life is part of this clock of humankind, the clock that really keeps the whole world turning and going.

Sep 16, 2014

Highlights from Salt Lake Comic Con 2014

Thursday 4 September marked the first day of the second annual Salt Lake City Comic Con!! And yes, I went, did you even doubt? Even better, Sis, Bro-in-law, and Baby E came too! Thursday was a little bit of a nightmare, logistics wise, but I think by next year they'll have it all sorted out. Also, we learned a little bit about how we should go about the first day next year.

Instead of giving a whole break down of the entire weekend, I'm just going to post some pictures of the highlights and give a little information about them.

Day 2 we dressed up like Pokemon characters (With Sis and Bro-in-law)

A surprise highlight! We just wandered into Vic Mignogna's panel because we wanted to see the person after him. It was awesome and now I've been binge watching anime series! (He's a voice actor.)

Love Alan Tudyk! He's really funny. I got to meet him and get his autograph after.
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Saturday we started the day by meeting John Barrowman! I like this picture because it makes it seem like I said something really clever, though I'm absolutely certain I didn't.
Stan LEE! Omigosh, he's amazing. Like a grandpa with the coolest stories ever.
Leonard Nimoy on Skype. He's pretty awesome too. There was a girl on the first row who we could see through the camera. She was dressed as a Vulcan, but had very un-Vulcan like reactions. I think everyone was watching to see if she was going to faint or throw up.

Everyone's costumes were amazing. I'm still pretty timid about asking for pictures, and when I do I take them really quickly so they don't turn out that well, but it's just fun to see how creative everyone is. 

I, of course, bought quite a bit of art. There's an artist named Ben Byrd who I discovered at FanX in April and was so excited to see he was there. I got three 4x6 prints from him. (His Etsy shop is down, or I would link to it. :( )

Karen Hallion was there, so of course I had to buy this print:

There are a few more, but I'm a bit too lazy right now to walk into the other room and look up the artists' names. :)

Anyway, it was a lot of fun. I did get the "con crud" last week, and spent a lot of my free time planning my cosplay for next year! Geek problems, right? ;)

Aug 8, 2014

New Job, a Week in Review

I'm so tired. What is it about starting something new that makes one exhausted?

I started my new job on Tuesday. Leading up to that day I was starting to have serious doubts about my ability to actually do the job I was hired to do. Does anyone else feel like that before starting a job? That you are going to completely fail? I had to remind myself of several things, including: that I'm a college graduate, I have three and a half years experience in my field, and I'm an intelligent person who can learn new things.

Everything was fine, once I got to work. As it always is. I spent the morning going through company standard operating procedures, then I got to work in the afternoon! The rest of the week has been me continuing on that work and basically settling in. The work is consuming, but to tell the truth, it can be a little boring. The company I work for is an e-learning website, and I've been going through the questions at the end of a computer certification course. There's nothing that makes you feel more stupid than editing something you don't understand. The thing is, you don't necessarily have to understand what you're reading in order to edit, but it's more interesting if you do. I have started picking up what certain words mean, etc., but it's not the most riveting of reads. But it's work, and it's in my field, and who knows, maybe I'll actually learn something.

At first I felt a little bit awkward. There are only four of us on the team, and it seemed strange to suddenly join such a small group of people--I wasn't quite sure how I would fit in. And then it was so quiet! It amazed me that no one took even ten minutes to have a conversation that wasn't about work. It blew my mind that someone could go eight hours, five days a week, and not ever have a conversation. My mind changed today when I had a pretty good conversation with two of my coworkers. I think I'm going to be okay. I guess I'll see in the coming weeks. It's good work, honest work, and I think I'm going to be able to do it just fine.

I just need some sleep first . . .

Jul 14, 2014

The Adventure of Getting a New Job

It's no secret that I've been needing to find a new job. I found out a year ago that my position was going to be downsized at my last job, and I've been looking on and off since then. Off because of the time needed to study for the GRE and apply to grad school (which, if you'll remember, I wasn't accepted too) and for general mental health. Looking for a job is a tiring and emotional process full of a lot of downs and not very many ups.

In this year I had only had one interview. One. In twelve months. I had also been invited to take two tests. So last Wednesday when I applied for two jobs that were miraculously in my field, I wasn't expecting to hear anything for a couple of days, if ever. Two hours after hitting "submit" on one of those jobs, I got a phone call. Which led to an interview the next day. At the end of which I was offered the position and asked to come back that afternoon to work for a few hours. 

I'm pretty sure I was in shock the entire weekend. 

I'm working on the production team of a company based in another state that makes training videos and materials. There are about four of us in the office--it's pretty tiny. When I officially start next week I will be an editorial assistant, mostly working with the questions at the end of the courses. I think. I totally understood it when it was explained to me but now I'm not so sure. 

What I'm doing for a few days this week is helping with the filming of some of the videos. This means I push the record button on the camera. College degrees, people! They come in handy!

Just kidding. I'm glad to be working in my field and having some money coming in instead having to use all my savings. That's a blessing. And you never know! I might actually like it here. Time will tell. 

I just want to thank everyone who have been supportive during the last year, who prayed for me, and helped me along my winding path. 

Jul 6, 2014

Week One of My Unemployment

I've made it through the first week of being unemployed. I'm not sure how much longer I'll have, or can take, but I'm attempting to keep myself busy.

This week I would wake up in the mornings around 6:30 or so (because I don't feel as much like a bum if I do that), take a shower, dress, and do my hair and make-up. I'd read my scriptures while eating breakfast and then sit out on the desk to write. Or pretend to write while actually finding new ways to distract myself . . . This is a problem, but I'm just going to keep trying and hopefully I can learn to write for a couple of hours at a time with minimum distractions.

The mornings have been gorgeous and the perfect temperature. If only it stayed 75 throughout the entire day.

Every day I picked a different room in the apartment to clean. And then I'd go at it with a vengeance! It kept me busy and made me feel like I was actually doing something, but I was glad when M came home from work because it's also been a little tough. By Tuesday I couldn't wait to go out and see my friends in a play--I felt like I had been stuck in a hot apartment and needed to be out and about (which was exactly true).

You know back in the post-war days when married women weren't allowed to work? What did they do all day?! If they didn't have kids, it must have gotten really lonely. Of course, they probably volunteered or had other women to do things with, but still. A house can only be so clean, right? I am in a different situation (besides the whole not being married thing) in that I can't even go out shopping or decorate my apartment. I can't afford to. I don't want to drive too much, because gas. So I'm left with what I can do in my hot apartment. And it's hot because M and I are kind of cheap--even more so with me out of a job at the moment. Turning on our air-conditioning doubles our electricity bill, so we don't like to do it. 

Anyway, I'm finding ways to keep myself occupied. I decided to work on my penmanship and ordered the Specerian Penmanship Theory book and copybooks. I hope it works! It's tough because I have to change how I hold my pen (I've been doing it wrong my entire life, which I knew, but now I'm changing it) and so my hand kind of cramps up because I'm not used to that and the motions I'm making. I'm still doing the job searching thing, and I'll probably start reading more (or working on my embroidery more while binge watching shows . . .).

Jul 4, 2014

June Book of the Month

Obviously, keeping up on the book of the month posts is a lot harder since I started my book review blog (new reviews go up every Monday!).

The book I'm recommended this month is Stories I Only Tell My Friends: An Autobiography by Rob Lowe. This autobiography blew my mind several times through the reading of it. The people and situations that Lowe found himself in from a young age is just amazing (meeting Liza Minnelli when he was eight or so, being on the set of Star Wars, being neighbors to Martin Sheen . . .). And the behind the scenes look at 80s and 90s Hollywood is really fascinating.

Lowe writes truthfully, but without putting any blame on anyone. It's honest, heartfelt, and guileless. There are the ups and downs of his life from his roles to his sex tape scandal to going to rehab.

The "f" word is used fairly liberally.

Jun 27, 2014

And so began the days of my unemployment . . .

Yesterday was my last day of work until I get hired someplace else. I thought that yesterday would be harder than it was--not that it wasn't hard . . . perhaps I mean I thought it would be more emotional than it was. And as I was thinking this over I think it's because I had a year of emotions already: crying and anger and peace and doubt. The past six months went by really fast, and all of a sudden I was in my last three days and I didn't quite know what to do with myself.

I think the hardest part was that not everyone was aware that I was leaving, or if they were, they didn't know that it wasn't exactly my choice. Which means that I had to explain it a lot, and I wasn't really sure how. The second hardest part was that inevitable question: "What are you doing next?" To which the only answer I had was "I don't know." Someone asked me that and then sent me an email apologizing for it. I responded and said that it was no big deal, I knew that people just cared and wanted to know. I was surprised when I received a response back and she said that I had a really positive attitude.

Here's the thing: I don't really feel like I have a choice.

What is a bad attitude going to do? It's not going to help me find a job; it's not going to get my job back. That's not to say that I haven't ever had a bad attitude over this because I have. It's to be expected, it's part of the grieving process. But when people are curious and care about you, what is having a bad attitude going to do but push them away? There are times when I don't want to talk about it because lately it seems like that's all I ever talk about and nothing has changed, but if I politely tell someone that I don't want to talk about it, they understand.

Anyway, to keep myself occupied until I get a new job, I've been trying to come up with some things to keep me busy and occupied. Of course, I'll be cleaning and organizing, etc. (I joked yesterday that I'm basically becoming a housewife but without the other income . . .) I'll also be working on my writing, and I have this crazy idea about working on my penmanship. I've never really liked my handwriting and I guess after working with 19th century documents, I want to have a pretty script. I have this idea that I just want to be this fancy person--a cute little writing desk, fountain pens, leather journal, wax seal (this has come true--I got one from the editors for a farewell gift!), etc. Sooo, basically I want to be someone who lived before the 1940s (which is when the ballpoint pen was invented).

Anyway, here are to the days of my unemployment, may they not last long.

Jun 10, 2014

All That Can Happen

I was just sitting here on my couch, playing games and generally wasting time, when I started thinking about where I was last year. And I realized how much can change in 364 days--and how much can stay the same. In one way last June seemed a lifetime ago, and yet it also seems like it all just happened last week.

This time last June I was on my first solo vacation to Prince Edward Island. Everything seemed to be going pretty well. I had a job I loved, though only part time, but it would work while I was finding a more full time position. I had enough money to go on vacation which had never happened to me before. My roommate and I were getting along great. Everything seemed to be just as it should be.

Fast forward to today. I have 8 days in the next three weeks at my job, with, as of this post, no job lined up yet. I had gone through the whole process of applying for a graduate school with that ending with a rejection letter. Still loving M and living with her. And I am more confident--I mean I'm still shy, introverted, and a bit awkward, but I finally got some help with stuff going on with me and I feel better about myself and others around me. I've made some good memories this last year: becoming an aunt in July, going to my first con in April.

Life is really just a series of ups and downs. Okay, yes, so I'm not sure what I'm doing with my life at the moment, but while I've only been working three days a week I've been able to write a lot more (though I'm in the middle of a writer's block on my novel right now, but you know, it happens). My niece might be two states away, but I've got FaceTime to talk to her with. I was talking to someone in our ward a couple of weeks ago, we'll call him Trendsetter, and I mentioned a little bit about not getting into grad school and me losing my job. I'm pretty sure Trendsetter is one of those people who always sees the positive and he said, "So, you could do anything? That's really exciting."

At the moment, my brain was screaming out in anxiety, "No, it's really not!" When faced with everything, all I want is a narrower choice. When faced with everything, how can you even make a choice? Pretty sure I'm not the kind of person my friends and family would call "adventurous." I don't do things very spontaneously. I like to have some sort of plan. But, I guess, in a way . . . it is a little exciting. This past year I've had the opportunity to think over what it is I want to do--career wise mostly. Do I want to stay in editing, or do something else? What is it that I'm really passionate about? How do I want to spend up to 40 hours of my week? It's hard, and sometimes I feel even more confused than I ever had before, and sometimes I feel like I've made a decision only to have it change the next.

All in all, nothing is horrible or hopeless. I have my health, I have my family, and I have my faith. With those three things, I know I'll be okay.

Jun 2, 2014

May Book of the Month

Here I am again, writing the book of the month post late. I felt like May was so long this year--I feel like we should already be in the middle of June, instead of just at the beginning. Oh well, I'm glad we're not because that means I still have a job for four more weeks!

This month's book is The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare by MG Buerlen. It involves time travel, evil scientists, reincarnation, and, of course, an attractive boy. Alex has experienced strange dreams throughout her life--dreams in which she actually feels and experiences certain things, like the starving time in colonial America. Then she meets a man who says that they aren't just dreams, but her past lives, which she can travel into at anytime.

I love a good time travel book. The characters are interesting, the plot easy to follow while still giving twists and turns, and the conclusion actually an end without it being all tied up nicely. I don't have a full review up on my other blog yet, but it will be up next Monday.

May 23, 2014

Differing Ideas

I'm not someone who can express herself in a intelligent and thoughtful manner in the middle of a discussion. I really wish I was. There have been several times in my life where if I had just been able to process what was being said to me and form a good answer, things would have gone over better, either for me or the other person. But when caught in the middle of an unexpected conversation, it's as if my brain is whirling over whatever it is the other person brought up and anything I can say seems trite, simple, or unintelligent. Which then, of course, means that I spend hours or days thinking of all the things I wish I had said.

This last week I found myself in the middle of one of these kinds of conversations. It was tricky, because I started feeling like a part of my life--a choice I had made a long time ago--was being attacked, and by someone I considered a friend. And I couldn't seem to make this person see that. Then I started feeling as if this person was treating my ideas as if it was just because I was too young (I'm several years younger then my friend) and there's something really diminishing about being treated like a child just because your ideas differ from someone else's. I think it maybe my friend was trying to pass it off as a joke, but it was something so close to my heart that it was hard to take it that way.

I think what I'm trying to get at is . . . we all have different ideas. We may not always agree with each other--in fact, we may disagree with other people's ideas more than we agree with them. But that doesn't mean that we have to make them feel small, or attack them because of their ideas. There is a difference between having a conversation about ideas, and have a debate where you are trying to "win." Basically, and I'm sure I've said this before, let's just be nice and considerate of others. We're all entitled to our own ideas; you don't have to agree with them, but you don't have to be cruel--even if you think you're joking. Life is already so hard without tearing others down and causing discontent. I understand that you shouldn't just stop saying things because someone may be offended by it, but don't tear others down for doing the same thing.

May 10, 2014

Motivational Type

I decided to make a wall in my bedroom with some motivational quotes, to remind me that things are always good, or going to get better. I played around a bit in InDesign and came up with a few. I mean to add a few more in the coming weeks.

Basically, "count your blessings." I need to be better at this.

Isn't Dr. Suess a genius?

One of my favorite Islamic sayings. I'm really hoping that the Arabic on the bottom says what the website indicated . . . 

This was my first attempt at a sort of "subway" art. It's tough because, unless there's some other way to do it, you have to have multiple text boxes.

May 1, 2014

April Book of the Month

Apparently this month has not been the best month for reading. As in, I've only read four books this month, which is really weird (for me). In that case (and because I'm not feeling well), I'm going to just tell you three of the four books that I read:

A Beginner's Guide to Acting English by Shappi Khorsandi. Memoir of Iran refugees in England.

Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher. YA Fiction about a girl writing to a murderer on death row.

This Star Won't Go Out by Esther Earl, et al. Nonfiction book being a collection of letters, journals, and memories of Esther Earl, a teenager who died from thyroid cancer.

All of these will be reviewed on my book review blog in the coming month.

Apr 25, 2014

Update: Birthday and Comic-Con

April has been an exciting month, lots to do and lots of fun. The month started with LDS General Conference, which I got to spend at home with Mom, Dad, and Bro. The next weekend was my birthday! My birthday happened to get stretched out to cover the whole weekend, and into the week a little bit.

The day before my official birthday I spent with friends. That morning I went to the temple to C, then in the afternoon M and I went to see a matinee of Les Miserables (a Christmas present from my parents--twice the enjoyment!). The play was AMAZING! I've seen it before, but I'm always struck by the story of redemption and how it only took one person to show val Jean that he was more than just a former prisoner. It just gets to me, so of course I cried.

After the show we got dinner at one of my favorite restaurants and took it to go (what we usually do). Then when we got home I opened the door to this:

As my brain was trying to make this fit into my reality, I was surprised by friends popping out from behind the kitchen counter! M and C had planned a surprise party for me and I was totally oblivious to the whole thing! It was a fun night, with just a few friends, which is exactly what I like.

Then on my birthday, I got to wear a new dress I had bought precisely for my birthday (because I felt I deserved it :) ).

I love the fifties style! After church I went to the parentals and had a little nap, then dinner, presents, and cheesecake! My birthday was extended even further on Tuesday when General Minion and Minion S took me out to lunch to Kneader's.

Then Thursday was Comic-Con! I was excited and nervous for my very first con. I went with my coworker and fellow whovian, K. Oh my gosh, it was so much fun! Just being around all these geeks, and feeling a connection to hundreds of people you don't know is awesome! Highlights: I made friends while waiting in line for a panel; I met Adam Baldwin and Nathan Fillion (oh, so handsome); and seeing all the creative costumes people come up with. Here a just a few pictures:

My day one cosplay! I got a lot of compliments, and a few people even asked if they could take my photo!

My new friends!

Ioan Gruffudd. He's so charming. 

James Marsters. I just couldn't get a really good picture of him. 

Day 2 cosplay--Nerdherder!

Karl Urban. He drove right past us! 

Getting Adam Baldwin's autograph. He was so nice!

Awesome Christoff and Elsa--I love her attitude.

The oh so ruggedly handsome Nathan Fillion. 

The cute and fun Karen Gillan.

Adam Baldwin during his panel.

Me and R2-D2! He even made squeely noises.
Definitely can't wait to go to another con! I was exhausted every night, but it was so much fun!

That's about it for now--hopefully I'll have some news on the job front in the near-ish future!

Apr 6, 2014

Sunday Special: Faith Needs Action

There has been something on my mind a lot lately and that's that faith takes action. It came up in Sunday School, I think when we were talking about Isaac and Rebekah, in Genesis 24. When the servant was sent to find Isaac a wife, the Lord told the servant who to choose. When Rebekah is asked if she will go back to Canaan to marry a man she has never met: "And they called Rebekah, and said unto her, Wilt thou go with this man? And she said, I will go" (v. 58). That took so much faith for her, but it's the action that shows how much faith she actually has.

Even though I knew about the faith=action thing before, for the time of life that I'm in at the moment it really struck me hard. So in my own personal scripture study I started noticing all the times that someone acted on their faith and what that means. 

I was IMing with my Mom about applying for jobs and why I had been so hesitant to do so. I didn't want to be rejected anymore, but really I needed to get over that and just start applying, because if I didn't I never would get a job. I can say all I want "God has a plan for me" but with out me actively searching, that plan will never come to pass. And that's what I was reading in my scripture study, that the people I was reading about were acting instead of just waiting for the Lord to provide, but they were keeping the Lord in on their plans. 

It's hard. I like having roots and just staying where I am, but that isn't possible. Some times it's better to move on, some times it is forced on you, but if you keep your faith and move forward, things will work out. Even if you are unsure how. 

Just one last thought. My mom told me this a couple of years ago and it's another thing that I have had to remember the past year: Once you make a decision, you never look back. In another part in Genesis, Lot and his wife are told to leave Sodom, and not to look back. "And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, Escape for they life; look not behind them . . . lest thou be consumed . . . But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt" (Genesis 19: 17, 26). This was a very physical consuming, but I think that it's a good metaphor for this decision making. If you keep thinking "what if" and "if I had" then you will be consumed by something you can't change. So focus on the "now" and the future. 

Sorry if that seemed kind of all over the place, but my thoughts have been making a circuitous route in my brain for a while. Mostly, act on your faith and don't look back. 

Apr 2, 2014

March Book of the Month

I realized on my way home that I haven't posted my recommended book that I read during the month of March! How dare I post it one day late?! I've been busy applying for jobs and getting ready for comic con (yes! My first con! So excited.) that it completely slipped my mind.

Anyway, here's my suggestion for the month: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. For a full review of this book, you can go to my new book review blog here. Here's what I'm going to say about it. It's beautiful, it's heart wrenching, it's unique, it's thought provoking, it's spunky, and it's amazing. Wein introduces characters and a setting that I never even thought about existing, creating a wonderful piece of WWII fiction that, for me, is right up there with Markus Zusack's The Book Thief. I felt attached to Verity almost immediately, and the twists and turns in her story were perfectly paced and completely intriguing.

Mar 10, 2014

Pesto Pizza

One good thing about only working three days a week is that I get to try out more time intensive recipes. Today I made Pesto Pizzas, and even made the dough! I know. The best part is when M got home she said that she could smell the pizzas all the way outside. This is a big deal, because we always smell other people's cooking outside and it always smells amazing and makes us jealous--I like to think I made a few people jealous.

For the dough I used a recipe from Lauren's Latest. It doesn't take that long to make, and then you need to let it rise for about 2 hours. It yields enough for 2 pizzas.

Then I put pesto on (from a jar--I think it was Classico brand), spinach, mozzarella, red onion, and a sprinkle of shredded parmesan. Presto Pesto!

The last time I made pizza, it definitely wasn't round. I think I'm almost more proud at the roundness of the pizza than anything else.

Mar 3, 2014

New Blog!

Hey everyone! I've decided to try something new and that is book reviewing! I've created a new blog called Whitney's Nook, where I will give honest reviews to new and older books, hopefully with a post a week.

I'll still be posting a monthly book recommendation on this blog every month, and will keep updating with little things about my life, etc., but if you want more reviews (positive and negative) then please feel free to head on over to Whitney's Nook and follow me there. You can also like Whitney's Nook on Facebook at


Mar 1, 2014

February Book of the Month

Hello people of the interwebs! While I've been trying to figure out which direction I want my life to take (I'm calling this time in my life my "quarter-life crisis"--that's when you are trying to figure out how you're going to make it to your mid-life crisis), I have definitely still been making some time to read, though not as much as I usually do this month. I don't know if I should blame it on the short month, or all of the bad things that have happened this month, but whatever the reason, I have very few books to choose from. Fortunately, February is finally over!

I've been going back and forth on which book(s) to recommend. I've read mostly "lite-lit" this month, and there was a trilogy of books. But, since I recommended a trilogy last month, I think I'm going to go with Heist Society by Ally Carter.

Heist Society is a YA novel that would be great for people who love Ocean's Eleven, The Italian Job, and similar types of stories. The main character, Kat, is a girl who comes from one of the biggest art crime families in the world. Trying to have a "normal" life, she started on her biggest con of all--boarding school. But just a few months in she is kicked out and reluctantly joins her friends in order to clear her father's name, which involved stealing four paintings from a the most secure museum in London.

Not only is the writing fun and fast paced, but the characters are well developed and quirky. With the whole team being teenagers, it appeals to a middle school audience, especially as they outwit most of the adults in the novel. While some people may think that it's wrong to be rooting for art thieves and cons, I think that what Carter excels at is the "gray" area--yes Kat and her team steal things, but their reasoning is in the right place. Also, there is someone much worse than them in the story. People and situations are not ever simply good or bad, and Kat truly does want to be good, but she also can't deny her history and family. It's an interesting dynamic.

This is the beginning of a trilogy (hah, I basically recommended a trilogy anyway), but I think that this book stands well on its own.

Feb 28, 2014

A Night in New York: 1920s Party

Last Saturday the men in our ward put on a dinner for us ladies. They do this every year and they completely go all out every year. This year the theme was New York in the 1920s. I got a dress from the thrift store down the street from me, and roommate M and our friend C went off to the party!

The men had laid out a red "carpet" which led to the stage door in the church. There was a "bouncer" there--so it really felt like we were going into a speakeasy! Everyone looked fantastic! The girls had on the prettiest dresses and headbands, the guys wore fedoras and zut-suits. Every girl got a red rose, and escorted on the arm of a handsome man to their table. They served us dinner, and provided entertainment, then after the dinner there was a live band and dancing! 

In my fairy-tale addled brain, I thought that maybe I would catch the eye of someone and he would know that we were meant to be together. That didn't happen, but life can't be a fairy-tale ALL the time (or even most of the time . . . or ever, in my case, haha)

Below are a few pictures:

M, me, and J

Being helped down the stairs after being announced and given a rose. My dress wasn't as green as the picture makes it look. More teal.

me, M, and C. I have horrible posture.

C's boyfriend made the sign with lights! So talented!

Feb 16, 2014

Sunday Special: It's Raining, It's Pouring

We're all familiar with the expression "when it rains, it pours" and I think we're also all familiar with how true that expression actually is. It's never just one bad thing that happens, but a whole slew of bad things, one right after another.

I don't think it's been much of a secret that the past six or so months have been filled with a lot more downs than ups for me. It's this pattern that I feel like I've recognized throughout my life--having a streak of good luck, and then all of a sudden . . . not. This time last year I was feeling pretty good. I had a job I liked at a place I loved with amazing coworkers. I'd moved in with my best friend, was just months away from paying off my car, and planning a trip to Prince Edward Island.

Then in July things turned topsy-turvy with the knowledge that I would be losing my job. Fortunately, I was able to keep my job longer than I thought, but with less hours. I applied for jobs, and was turned down for all of them. So I started entertaining the idea of the GRE and graduate school. I looked at programs and found one that I sounded good. I studied hard for a month and took the GRE, then worked hard on getting my application in before the deadline. I even filled out FAFSA to see if I could get any financial help. Then, one week exactly after I got the news of my cousin's death, I received the news that I wasn't accepted in grad school.

That much sadness and rejection from all aspects of my life all within a couple of months is hard to take. I didn't--and still don't--really understand what it was all for. Why did I feel so good about the program I was applying for if I wasn't going to get in? What was the point of studying for the GRE and all the stress that went along with that?

And I've been unsure if editing is even what I want to do anymore. I was 16 when I decided I wanted to be an editor and have been working toward it for the past 10 years, and now I have no idea if it's actually the career path I should go down. But I also have no idea which path to go down if not that one. Or the grad school one.

When I received the e-mail telling me I hadn't been accepted into grad school, I called my mom to tell her and she offered to come up to my place and stay with me. I cried when my roommate came home from school before she went to work and I cried when my mom came and held me. And then I think I shut down. I didn't feel anything either way about it. Then today at church, we had what is called "Musical Testimonies." Basically, you get up and share what you're favorite hymn is, and why, then we all sing a couple verses of the hymn. We sang a few hymns, and I felt tears pricking up behind my eyes, and a little prompting to share one of my favorite hymns--one that feels very apropos to where I am right now:

Lead, kindly Light, amid th'encircling gloom; Lead thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home; Lead thou me on!
Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene one step enough for me.

I was not ever thus, nor pray'd that thou Shouldst lead me on.
I loved to choose and see my path; but now, Lead thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will. Remember not past years.

So long thy pow'r hath blest me, sure it still Will lead me on
O'er moor and fen, o'er crag and torrent, till The night is gone.
And with the morn those angel faces smile,
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile!

After giving my testimony and singing this song, that dam I had built up inside me burst open and I couldn't seem to keep myself from crying. Every hymn seemed to have something in it for me

I feel like I've talked a lot about paths lately, but lately they have been on my mind a lot. Taking one step in the darkness, trusting that Someone is leading you, that takes a lot of faith. And sometimes we are taken down paths that end in a dead-end, and we don't understand why, but we have to turn around and find another path. I have a lot of people telling me that not getting into school/not getting that job, etc., means that there is something "better" for me. I don't know if I believe that's true. I think there is a plan for me, somewhere, and that there is something for me, but something better? I don't know.

I do know that I feel like I'm due something good. :)

The future is so uncertain right now, and I'm trying to keep an eternal perspective on it. And taking it one step at a time.

Feb 1, 2014

January Book of the Month

I don't usually read nonfiction, but this month's books were fascinating. If you like the PBS series Call the Midwife, then you might want to check out the memoirs it is based on, written by Jennifer Worth.

Worth was a midwife and nurse in the 1950s and worked in London's East End. She wrote her memoirs about 50 years later, and the detail in them is amazing. They are written in an interesting way, and provide a lot of detail to how things were done then and how they are done now. There are some amazing stories, and some horrific stories.

In the Call the Midwife series, there are three books:

A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times

This talks about how Worth became a midwife, and introduces you to the nuns she worked with, and the other midwives. Worth breaks up the seriousness of childbirth with amusing stories of her coworkers. There is a story about a young girl who was tricked into prostitution which is pretty graphic.

Shadows of the Workhouse

This volume talks very little about midwifery and instead Worth talks about the nursing she did to the elderly. In Shadows she describes the workhouse conditions and how those who had spent time in the workhouse suffered from the effects of it their entire lives.

Farewell to the East End

More babies being born! This volume does have some rather graphic descriptions of backstreet abortions and what I think they called "medical rape." The descriptions of the abortions did cause me to think some, but did not change my personal opinion on abortion. We find out what happened to all the people Worth knew.

I think that what is so fascinating about these memoirs is that they seem completely unrealistic, but you know that they really happened. They definitely aren't for the feint hearted (even the details of giving birth might turn some people away), but I think there is an importance in knowing history--the good times and the bad times. I feel that a lot of the time we are given history through the middle class glasses, and to hear about the lower class definitely changes the way you view it. I think Worth also did a very good job at pointing out that certain laws or acts that seem horrible to us now (and were horrible) were actually a step in the right direction. She tried to write from the social norms of the time she was writing of and not the time she was writing in.

I think these books are amazing and should be read, but I also send out a caution that they aren't always the easiest or happiest books to read.

Jan 29, 2014

Memoirs of a Teenage Daycare Teacher: 7 (or possibly 8) years later

To give a 17-19 year old the care of your children probably seems ridiculous, but that's how it was. When I was 18 I could be in charge of 4 under 1s up to 28 school aged kids (6-10 year olds). I'm not sure how it was for other daycares, but the turnover rate for teachers at SBA was high, which lead me to being assigned to the 3 year olds just after my high school graduation. I don't think anyone will mistake working in a daycare as a glamorous job. I dealt with vomit, dirty diapers, scrapped knees, fights over toys, kids not eating, and illnesses that most adults don't get (including scabies, pink eye, and strep throat)--I even had snotty noses wiped on my pants. I struggled to get some kids to sleep at nap time, then spent half of those two hours cleaning up from lunch, just to have to clean up again after snack time when the kids woke up. I was a human jungle gym. I was in charge of 10-12 3 year olds on a regular basis, and I loved them. So much so that when I quit to go to college, I cried at the thought of leaving them.

So, no, my first job was not glamorous or enviable at all, but it was rewarding. Some days. A lot of time I felt like I was making up it as I went--which I probably was because I was only 18 and had very little experience with kids beyond the infrequent babysitting I had done in my early teens. I had kids with behavioral problems--probably from being sent to a daycare for 12 hours a day, 5 days a week. There was a boy, 4 years old, who refused to potty train. A 9 month old who cried unless he was held. A little boy and his sister who came every day dirty--once he hadn't had a bowel movement or a wet diaper in three days. Parents who sent their kids to daycare sick, causing the other kids (and us teachers) to catch whatever it was they had. Parents who yelled at the teachers for trying to do their jobs; parents who would go to the local bar before picking up their kids.

Then there were my coworkers. When I first started at SBA, I was a "closer," meaning I would do the snack dishes, then clean the bathrooms, mop the floors, vacuum, and take out the trash. The teachers were supposed to be in charge of their own rooms, but sometimes the task fell to us. One day the woman who made lunch had been going very slowly on the clean up, so when I got there at 3 I was sent to help her. She left and I ended up doing all of the lunch dishes, with only a half hour to relax before it was time to start the snack dishes. Standing at a sink for several hours was probably one of the worst days of work I had.

But not everything was horrible. It was so amazing to be so close to kids--I learned so much. Have you ever heard that we must be like a child? That is something that I learned a lot about while working at SBA. Children are so forgiving. I would have someone tell me I was mean and then five minutes later he was hugging me. Children are loving. Children are honest--sometimes brutally so, but it's really just that they will say what they think. One day I walked into my classroom and a little girl, E, came up to me and said, "You look like Cinderella!" I have to admit, I was a little confused, being brunette whereas Cinderella is blonde. Then the other teacher said, "It's the ribbon in your hair." I had put in a blue ribbon that morning! Of course, then there was the one time that I was wearing a high waisted shirt and one of the kids asked if I were pregnant. And then the time when I was told that I needed a boyfriend, because I was "old enough." I was 18. The kids also loved helping. They would help their friends, and me. When I was a closer, I would frequently get the help of one little girl, who wanted to wash the dishes, and get the trash, and vacuum. It's always nice to have a little someone to talk to. There was always a plethora of hugs and kisses. There is really nothing like feeling tiny arms around your neck.

The day after my high school graduation, my boyfriend broke up with me. In an e-mail. It was a pretty hard time, but I went to work everyday and did what I needed to. I wasn't taking any breaks because I knew that if I did I would just break down and wouldn't be able to go back to work. If work is good for anything, it's good for helping you forget yourself for a little while, especially at a daycare. One day near the end of the week, we were taking the kids out to afternoon recess, but first we made a stop at the bathrooms. Not all of our kids were completely potty trained yet, so I had to take one of them, R, back to the classroom to change her diaper while another teacher took the rest of the kids. R's mom had just arrived, and was watching while I completed this task--which is unnerving, and also a little strange. She got upset about the way I did something, and in a huff said, "I'll just do it myself!" It wasn't a big deal, but it was enough to break the dam and despite my best efforts I started to cry. I was told to take a break, so I went into our empty classroom and had a good cry. When the kids came in, they found me, and little A (one of my favorites--even though I know you aren't supposed to have favorites), gave a soft little, "Hey . . ." He just let me hug him, and I really did feel better. Parents are probably the worst part about working child care--worse than all the diapers and vomit. E's mom was especially intimidating: tall, blonde, power woman. I know it's unfair, but I frequently thought "If you don't like the way I'm raising your kids, then stay home and raise them yourself!"

Another thing about working at the daycare is that there was always something funny to tell. The kids would come up with their own jokes (none of which made any sense), or they would just laugh. The laughter of children is infectious. Then, of course, there were the times the kids didn't know they were being funny. I had to open the classroom cupboard up once, and C saw some candy that had been put in there. He proceeded to try and convince me for 10 minutes that the candy belonged to him. "But Miss Widanee!" he'd protest. "My mom brought it from home!"

The summer after my freshman year at university, I went home and worked at SBA again, to earn money for the study abroad I was applying for. That summer was pretty hard. I woke up really early in the mornings to be there when it opened and I usually worked overtime. It was actually really nice to see the kids get dropped off. There was one little boy who had a hard time with his mom leaving, but we finally got to the point where she would just hand him to me and he'd be fine. This same little boy would sometimes sit with me during my lunch break while I worked on homework for my online class. If he didn't, he wouldn't sleep and would cry and wake up the other kids. During the month of July we had all of the school age kids there all day long. Twenty-eight 6 to 10 year olds. That's where I spent most of my summer and it was hectic. We tried to come up with enough activities and field trips to keep them interested, but when it's too hot most days to play outside, and they have to be quiet for two hours to keep from waking the babies up, it's pretty hair raising. The best day of that summer was when we took the school kids to the zoo. Not only did I get paid to go to the zoo, but I was only in charge of three kids instead of 28. And the three I had were some of the most well behaved ones. We ate popsicles, saw the bird show, and rode the train. I like the zoo, but it is so much more fun when you go with kids!

When I wasn't with the school kids, I usually gave the other teachers their breaks, which meant I got to spend time with all the ages. The baby room was fun, because you just got to hold babies, or play with them on the floor. I got pretty good at holding a baby in one arm and making a bottle with my free hand. The next room up, with the 1 year olds, was nice because they were starting to talk and discover the world outside of themselves. One of the older girls in this room once started "races". "1 . . . 2 . . . 10," she'd say, then run across the room. The other kids caught on pretty well. Then there were the 2/3 year olds. They talk and understand a lot more, but still don't quite get the concept of sharing. It's really about this age that they start seeming like "little people." They are so excited to go to the "potty," and do grown up things.

The 3/4 year olds have, usually, been potty trained, which is nice. They can follow instructions better, and are more willing to help. The 4/5 year olds are amazing. I spent quite a bit of time in this room as the principle teacher for about half a summer. After recess we'd sit and read a story and then be able to have a discussion based on the story. One discussion we talked about what they wanted to do when they grew up. It was fun to tell their parents that they wanted to be a nurse like their mom, or a rockstar. One even said she wanted to be a teacher like me! At this age they still took naps, but it was easier to get them all asleep than the younger ages. Basically, it was just fun to see the changes in age, and to watch the kids grow up.

The kids I used to take care of are now between 7 and 17. That's crazy. I don't know where any of them are, what they're doing. Sometimes I think of them and hope that their lives turned out well. Thanks for allowing me this little walk down memory lane. I only wish I could give you a "where are they now" snippet.

Jan 26, 2014

Self Image, Attractiveness, and Helping a Sister Out

This last weekend, I drove to University Town to spend the evening with Bro. He bribed me with a new camera. But seriously, Bro is probably one of my very best friends, for which I count myself lucky. During the four hours I was there it seems that our conversation just kept coming back to self image and how it's affected by different things: the media, classic art, dating, friends, etc.

It's interesting talking to Bro because of the whole "guy perspective." I don't have a lot of really close male friends, so it's nice to have someone to talk to who can kind of shed some light on guys. He talked about how he is most attracted to girls who just look healthy--and that doesn't necessarily mean athletic. But that they look like they eat, and get some exercise. We talked about some stuff going on in my life and he gave his opinion, which mainly came down to everyone is confused. :)

One thing that we talked about is mostly what I've been thinking about since that night, and that's complimenting. I was telling Bro how nice it feels to be complimented, especially by your date. I don't know if guys realize how much thought we females put into what we're going to wear and how we are going to do our hair. I, personally, might spend a day or more, on and off, thinking of what's in my closet and what I look good in but will feel comfortable wearing. Then I spend more time than usual trying to make my hair fall just right and doing my makeup. And that it's just nice to hear someone say, "You look nice." It's not a big thing to do, but it means a lot.

Bro said that he has a hard time doing that; that he doesn't feel comfortable. Here's the thing, guys: if you are genuine, no girl is going to not take a compliment. And girls, take the compliment! Just say "Thank you." Don't make some comment about how you didn't do your hair that morning, or "this old thing," or whatever. Say "thanks." That guy just stepped out on a limb to say something to you, so don't dismiss it with self degradation. It takes some training, but it's possible.

One of the best compliments I have received in the last year was from a guy in my ward. After the first meeting, he complimented my shoes. I had just bought the shoes the day before, so they were brand new, and I had looked in about 10 shoe stores for the perfect pair. And the moment he complimented them, I knew that it had all been worth it. Yes, I liked them without the compliment, and yes, we should feel good about ourselves without having to get vindication from other people, but that vindication certainly doesn't hurt!

Bottom line: guys if you like something--how a girl did her hair, her shoes, her dress, or that you just think she looks nice--tell her! It will make her day. And if you aren't interested in her, tell her anyway. We aren't THAT crazy that we think every compliment means something. Girls, be gracious and accept  compliments how they are given. Even if you feel like you look like crap, you apparently don't. Let's just be nice to each other!

(I feel like at this point we should take hands and start singing "Kumbaya." Everybody!)

Jan 24, 2014

Book Quotes

Occasionally, I write in my reading journal quotes that I liked, thought were interesting, or thought beautiful from a book that I just read. I thought I would share those with you here (because, then I wrote a blog post, but it took minimal effort on my part. Win-win!).

From 2010

". . . Marriage is like a well built porch. If one of the two posts leans too much, the porch collapses. So each must be strong enough to stand on its own. . . . To know that you can stand alone, to know that he can too--it seems very good advice." (Deb Caletti, The Secret Life of Prince Charming, 272)

From 2011

"Call no man your enemy until he has proved himself so, and even then, you may have to change your mind. You are very young . . . and you are quick to anger, swift to resent, and slow to forgive. But however strongly children hate or love, it is no more than play, though they always think otherwise." (Laura L. Sullivan, Under the Green Hill, 77-78)

From 2013

"Fear can't hurt you. When it washes over you, give it no power. It's a snake with no venom. Remember that. That knowledge can save you." (Maureen Johnson, The Name of the Star, 260)

"I want you to remember this, when everything around you appears to be falling to pieces, when it all seems lost: the world belongs to those who stick around and tough it out. . . . Never run away from what scares you. It will always come back in the end." (Anna Jarzab, The Opposite of Hallelujah, 389)

"An untold story has a weight that can submerge you, sure as a sunken ship at the bottom of the ocean . . . the ghosts from that drowned ship, they keep haunting." (Deb Caletti, Stay, 1)

"Love at first sight should send you running, if you know what's good for you. It's your dark pieces having instant recognition with their dark pieces." (Caletti, 3)

Jan 19, 2014

A Personal Victory

I think that we should celebrate the small victories of everyday, so I'm going to share with you the victory I'm most proud of from this last week: I learned how to unclog a disposal!

Monday evening I was making dinner when I tried to put some food down the disposal, but instead this happened:


It was after the apartment complex office had closed and I didn't want the water just sitting in the sink for a day or more, so I decided to figure out how to fix it myself. 

This involved calling my dad on FaceTime. I think he was amused by my antics as we went about "troubleshooting" the problem. (Can you use troubleshooting for anything or is it specifically for computers/technology?) The first thing I tried was using a plunger. Since M and I don't have a plunger, I headed next door and Boy Next Door #2 let me borrow theirs. That didn't actually do anything, but it was a good try and I'm grateful to have such good neighbors. 

After the failure with the plunger it was time to go under the the sink and check out the pipes. First I emptied as much of the water in the sunk into an empty garbage can, then got a towel and a bucket to put under the pipes to catch all other water/refuse. Taking off the pipes meant dealing with a pretty foul odor. I then had to put a spoon handle in the pipe from the disposal to unblock it. 

When the water come gushing out, along with a whole bunch of carrot peels. I immediately jumped up and ran to the other side of the kitchen, exclaiming how gross it was. I heard my dad laughing on his end of the phone. 

I got everything cleaned up and the pipes put back together--the first time with no leakage! I was so proud of myself that I told everyone I talked to about it at least once. Possibly twice. :)

Anyway, so that was my little victory this week! Here's to all of your little victories 

Jan 13, 2014

Hey all. So, I made it through the first week of my new schedule. I'm not going to sugarcoat it, it was a kind of stressful week. It's weird to have two extra days of not going to work--it kind of makes you feel a little bit useless. Especially as I am a single adult without very many responsibilities besides going to work.

To make myself feel a bit more useful, I've decided to organize! It wasn't really a conscious decision, more like I started cleaning the kitchen last Monday and then felt that I just couldn't do it until I organized! I spent the afternoon trying to find shelves for our pantry, and then putting those shelves together, putting things on those shelves in some kind of orderly fashion, and then I could clean the kitchen. I am now looking into a spice turntable to organize our spices, then I'll clean out my closet. Exciting times.

I think M might have wondered if I'd gone a little crazy, since we'd gone over a year without an organized pantry or spice shelf. But now I have the time, and it's something to do other than sitting around and pinning things on Pinterest all day.

The week was stressful for a mix of reasons. The change in my routine, then I was "exiled" to a cubicle on the opposite end of the floor from the rest of the staff. And with only three days of work, I feel like I won't be able to get as much done, since I'm trying to put five days of work into three now. I had a talk with my manager and we discussed how I should go about doing my work. It involves me having to let some things go before they are complete, in order to get a larger quantity done in the next six months. That's hard for me, because I want to see everything through, but I understand why it has to be so.

I also came to the conclusion this last week that it really is time for me to move on from the project. I've kept trying to get a full-time job there, and I've just realized that one of the reasons I'm not getting them is because it's not right for me. Coming to this conclusion doesn't not mean I have accepted it yet, though! It's hard to not have any idea what's going to be happening in the next few months. Especially when I felt so good about being at the project when I first started, and then a year and a half ago when I got my part-time position. I was talking to my bishop this week, and we were talking about paths and that sometimes we are lead down a certain path just to come to a dead end, but that doesn't mean that you weren't supposed to walk it in the first place. It's just hard to have all these paths in front of you, but you aren't able to see them. Then yesterday in church, I felt like all the talks were about kind of the same thing. And then the hymn was "Lead Kindly Light." Weird how everything just kind of fits together like that.

On Friday, to "celebrate my first Friday off" my parents took me to see Frozen. I'm not sure, but I kind of feel like my mom knew that I was going to have kind of a hard time last week when she suggested it.  That was a fun movie to do have. I also got a few text from my friends at work, so I know that I'm missed! Then Saturday, the Boy Next Door (I'm not being coy, facetious, or aloof with this name. He literally lives next door) invited me to see The Book Thief with him. That was a good crying movie. I will say this, the movie was beautiful and moving and heartrending. But the book, in my opinion, is more so. I really believe the book is one of the best pieces of literature of the past ten years and everyone should read it. With a box of tissues.

So, while the week was a bit stressful, the weekend was nice. Though by Sunday night, I was EXHAUSTED. M and I watched two movies because we didn't feel like moving from the couch. Here's to a better week this week!

Jan 6, 2014

A Change in Routine

Hello everyone. Today is the first day of my new schedule, which is a little weird. For now until whenever I find another job (either part time or full time) I'll be at work Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, leaving me to my own devices on Mondays and Fridays. To keep myself from going crazy and/or feeling like a lazy, slothful person, I've come up with a schedule for those two days.

I'm going to write in the mornings (on Fridays, after I go to the temple), then I'll clean a room in the afternoons, as well as job searching/reading/journal writing/guitar playing/grocery shopping/working out, etc. The afternoons are sort of free, as long as I am doing something productive.

Today, as I said, has been a little weird. I woke up as I usually do, which confused M to no end. I just felt that if I woke up at the same time as always, and got ready for the day, then I would feel more like I was doing something more than just being lazy. This morning, I ate breakfast, read my scriptures, made some tea, and sat down with my computer to write. Today, I wrote for about two hours, working on the letter game. It just felt weird, sitting down on my couch at 7:30 instead of arriving at work. I'm wearing jeans instead of a dress. Everyone else in the complex was going to work and school, and I was here in my apartment.

When M got home from her class, she asked me if it felt like a Monday. In a way it does, but in a way it doesn't. It doesn't quite feel like a Saturday though, either. Saturdays are lazy, with me sleeping in and not getting dressed for a long time, then I read or watch TV. I also don't feel overly distracted, which surprises me. I think this has to do with the schedule I created: yes, there are dishes in the sink, but I have time set aside for dealing with that, so I don't have to worry about it at the moment. We'll just have to see how it goes from here.

Jan 3, 2014

Unknown Paths: An Original Poem

I stand on a road of my choosing,
too many paths in front of me,
each one as less taken as the next.
The paths are dark and winding.

I cannot look backwards,
that road was walked and blocked.
The forest before is the only choice,
which path will lead me safely through?

Some I have stepped towards
only to find they end after the first step;
others seem so dark, tangled, and rough
there can't be any good from walking them.

"Guide thou my feet," I pray as I consider
the paths that lay before me. I am lost.
The way is slow and dark and I,
I am forced to take it, step by step.

So I take that step, cautious and trembling,
toward that path I feel forced upon
and all my hope is given to a faith
which leads me ever onward and upward.

Jan 1, 2014

December Book of the Month

Happy 2014 all! Start off the new year right and read!

I've been trying to decide what to recommend to you all. On one hand, there's the classic A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens . . . but Christmas is over now (not that you can't read it anyway). There's also a new Julie Berry book, but I've already recommended a book by her, just last month. So, do I recommend another fairytale-like book? It's so complicated sometimes. le sigh.

How 'bout I just share thirteen books from 2013 that I didn't recommend already? That sounds good. Here you go!

For murder mystery fans, I'd suggest Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie. This is the first Miss Marple mystery.

For a retold fairytale, there is The Wager by Donna Jo Napoli. Napoli doesn't shy away from some of the grittier details, but there is nothing in the book very scandalous. This is a retelling of a little known Sicilian fairytale.

If you want a fun, light read, Going Vintage by Lindsay Leavitt is probably the way to go. It's the story of a girl who decides to try to live a simpler life by living with only things available in the 1950s.

Winnie-the-Pooh by AA Milne is a great throwback to childhood. You never know what little pearls of wisdom there are in children's stories until you read them as an adult.

If you're looking for a cozy "cottage" mystery, the Aunt Dimity by Nancy Atherton books are some of my favorites. Start with Aunt Dimity's Death and go from there!

Sometimes you need a book that is told in a unique way, and that is where The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick comes in. This is a book told sort of like a silent film in print--with pages of pictures that tell the story along with prose.

I'd recommend Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, just because it's a good book. It's a little bit like Groundhog Day, but instead it's a girl living the last day of her life 7 times. This was a reread and I found it interesting that almost every "day" was a different stage of grief.

For fans of theme parks, fairytales, and love, How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True by Sarah Stromeyer might be the book for you. Zoe is working the summer at the Fairytale Kingdom as the assistant to the "evil queen."

The Caged Graves by Dianne K. Salerni is a historical novel based on two real mysterious "caged graves."

If you want a fun time travel book, I'd suggest My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century by Rachel Harris. There is also a sequel called A Tale of Two Centuries.

If you're looking for a more serious read about family, grief, self discovery, faith, and facing your fears, then I'd recommend The Opposite of Hallelujah by Anna Jarzab.

For my last book, there is Scarlet in the Snow by Sophie Masson. It's a new fairytale with elements of tales that you are familiar with.

Happy reading!