Monday, July 14, 2014

I Don't Think That Means What You Think It Means

Anyone who has spent more than 10 minutes with children knows that you absolutely cannot use the bathroom without interruption.  If it were a once in a while occurrence, it might be tolerable.  When it is every single time, it becomes much less endearing.

This is why parents establish rules about interrupting their bath, shower or other bathroom time.  I've told my children repeatedly to not bother me when I am in the bathroom unless it is an emergency.  By "emergency", I mean someone is bleeding, someone has passed out, or something is on fire.

Here are examples of what my children thought constituted an "emergency" this weekend during my bath or shower:

  • "G has the iPad and I want it."
  • "The TV is saying there is a new version of Netflix ready to download.  Can I click "okay"?"
  • "Biscuit (the dog) coughed but he's okay." 
  • "Can I ask you something when you get out?"
These "emergencies" may explain the current popularity of dry shampoo.  

Friday, July 11, 2014

Love Skip Jump- Book Review

I don’t personally know Shelene Bryan, but she seems awesome and inspiring and a little bit crazy!  In Love Skip Jump: Start Living the Adventure of Yes, Shelene encourages us to say yes to God and experience what great plans He has that we might otherwise miss.  Shelene said yes to traveling to Africa to see where exactly her charitable contributions were going.  That trip inspired her to form her own charity,, which provides food and clean water to children around the world.  The book chronicles the numerous times Shelene said “Yes!” and how it has changed her life and many other lives in response.

Shelene makes many wonderful points about how much richer life can be when we say yes and jump in.  I was completely on board with working in impoverished communities or feeding starving children.  Putting your house up for sale by God (chapter 15) just to prove you’re willing to sell your house is where it got a little crazy for me.  However, I still took away her point about our own openness to God’s will.  (But I’m not putting my house on the market.)

One passage that really made an impact on me was when she said sometimes God wants us to go through a process without ever achieving what we thought was the goal and that the journey can be more important than the end result (page 134).  I tend to be very goal focused.  I like marking things off a to do list, so the idea that we may go through things to get a completely different result than we wanted is something I grapple with.  This book encourages me to look for more opportunities rather than challenges, and to really listen for what God is asking us to jump into. 

This book was provided to me for free by BookLook in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions stated are my own.  

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Accepting Help

I like to think of myself as a generally helpful person.  I don't think twice about helping a stranger pick up things they have dropped or pushing rogue grocery carts over to the cart corral in the parking lot.  Of course I do all sorts of things for my kids and would be glad to help family and friends if they needed it.  Accepting help, on the other hand, is not my favorite thing.  It may be a sort of pride or determined independence, but I hesitate to accept help when offered and would almost never ask for help (shudder).

I'm going through a personally difficult time that is just so emotionally draining, I have almost nothing left to give.  However, I still have to work 40 hours a week.  I still have three kids that need love and reassurance and attention and, you know, expect dinner every night.  It's been tough.  And still, my first instinct was to act as if everything was okay.  To just carry the burden myself and stuff it down.  It really made me feel better. Just kidding- it was awful.  Keeping these major distractions inside made it so much worse.  As I have started sharing my situation with friends and family, my load has felt a little bit lighter.  It is still there, of course- but it seems a little bit more manageable.

Accepting help reminds us of how loved we are when we feel unlovable.  My dear sister has listened to long, tearful phone conversations, numerous complaining emails and has repeatedly offered to come visit or have me visit her.  I have spoken with two friends who have previously been in a similar situation to mine and their advice has been golden.  One has exchanged numerous, lengthy Facebook messages with me offering support and tons of things to consider I had not thought of yet.  Another sat with me for over three hours in Starbucks Saturday listening to me cry and say all the things I needed to say (probably more than once). She also offered fantastic perspective and texted me Sunday to say "Hey, I'm making you and the girls dinner tomorrow night.  Is 5:00ish okay for delivery?".  If she had asked what she could do, I'm sure I would have told her nothing, I'm fine.  I'll admit I hesitated a moment before texting back that 5:00 was fine.  I ended up feeling really grateful that she took something as simple yet overwhelming at the moment like making dinner off my plate.  The girls and I enjoyed a delicious hot meal that I didn't have to think about, and I felt like special.

If you need help, please don't be afraid to ask for help or to accept it when offered.  People genuinely care about you.  If you are the one helping, please know that it is appreciated.  Any small gesture may be the one thing that person needs most and will remember for years to come.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Recent Distractions

It has been rough going in my house the last several weeks.  They are the sort of issues I am not yet comfortable posting for the world to see, largely to avoid any pain or embarrassment for those of us wrapped up in it right now.  Maybe I'll be ready to share more in the future, but just know it will be tough for weeks or months to come.

I've spent an obscene amount of time mentally reviewing all that is happening and sometimes I just need a good distraction.  Don't we all crave a little escape when times are challenging?  In fairness, I could read or watch TV every day if I was happy as a clam but it is especially welcome when a little gray cloud hovers above my head.  Here are some books and shows I have enjoyed over the last few weeks.

Last Tango in Halifax- This BBC romantic series centers around Alan and Celia, childhood sweethearts (now in their 80's) who have been apart for the last 60 years.  They find each other through a social networking site, realize they still love each other, and decide to get married.  If I have a little crush on Alan, I think you'll understand once you watch- he is so sweet and adorable! The lives of their children and grandchildren also come into play and it is a really interesting dynamic of blending a family that late in life. Personally, I think it is awesome to see older characters are the leads, not just the grandma that guest stars in an episode here or there.  They face realistic issues, and all the characters show some interesting flaws and redemptive qualities.  Netflix has season 1 (or series 1 as the Brits like to say), but will hopefully add season 2 soon.  I understand the series has been signed on for a third season yet to be filmed.

Girl Most Likely- This 2012 movie (on Netflix) stars Kristen Wiig in a more serious role of Imogene. The Netflix description reads "After staging an unsuccessful suicide to get her boyfriend's attention, a struggling playwright moves back home to live with her mother and two men." I feel I must warn you that this movie has received generally poor to average reviews on Netflix and Rotten Tomatoes, so it is clearly not everyone's taste.  I like kind of quirky movies, so I enjoyed it even though it wasn't the most deep or exciting thing I have ever watched.  Imogene (and her brother) appear to be kind of losers in the beginning of the film, but by the end I thought they showed much more complexity than I expected and vulnerability in a relate-able way.  

Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown (2 seasons on Netflix)- Most people either love or hate Anthony Bourdain, and I apparently love him.  I enjoy his general disdain for...everything and I love to new places so this is a sort of heaven for me.  Having never seen this show before, I didn't realize how much of the show was not just food, but history and culture and talking with people who are living in these environments every day.  I have three personal favorites episodes.  First, Libya (season 1, ep. 3) showcases some revolutionaries that helped overthrow Qaddafi.  When I think of revolution, I tend to think of 1950's Cuba or earlier, but these guys are younger than I am and were fighting just a couple of years ago.  Their struggle really touched me.  Second, Copenhagen (season 2, ep. 4) just for the food.  Chef Rene Redzepi's method of sourcing local ingredients (including moss) is showcased, and I loved the scene of his staff presenting dishes they have developed to everyone else on staff for criticism or applause.  Every bit of food in this episode looked delicious or intriguing (or both). My final favorite was Peru (season 1, ep. 7) for one reason: guest star Eric Ripart.  Do I need to say more?  : ) 

Hello Goodbye Hello, by Craig Brown- I borrowed this book from my library to read during the drive to vacation last week.  It is a collection of 101 meetings between famous people of varying backgrounds.  Each story connects to the next, for example, the story of when Frank Lloyd Wright met Marilyn Monroe, then the next story is when Marilyn Monroe met Nikita Khrushchev, and on.  This is written by a British writer with a fair number of British "well knowns", but there is a handy note to the U.S. edition explaining who some of these people were or some facts about them to help explain the context of the story.  Some of the stories were less interesting to me, but others were really fascinating.  Plus, I now feel secure in thinking that Phil Spector has been a crazy little man for a very long time and Madonna is probably every bit the jerk I always suspected.  Isn't learning fun?  : )  

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Harm in Asking- Book Review

I admittedly went out on a limb in selecting this book.  I was not at all familiar with author Sara Barron, and comedy-type books are tricky.  Some people you think are funny in stand-up are not that funny in print, or an unknown comedian turns out to not be your type.  Sara Barron is just not my type.

Let me put it this way: I am on page 116 of 306, and I will have to force myself to read the rest of it.  I am all for weird humor, and I am not of a conservative nature that finds cursing or ribald humor inherently unfunny. This book has both, which may turn some people off, but this entire book just misses the mark for me.  There are nineteen chapters (essays?) that are vaguely connected in that they chronicle Sara's life in a generally chronological order, but address various issues or events.  Her essays largely focus on her voracious need for attention since childhood and the myriad ways in which she attempts to gain such attention (forcing herself to attempt lesbianism is one example).  There are a few anecdotes that I found funny but they were few and far between.  

Some of the stories seem forced, like the only way to be funny is to be provocative, but the provocativeness is of the more desperate for attention variety.  Maybe I'm wrong and this book is a perfect reflection of Sara's personality and life.  Even if that is true, there is little about this book that is appealing to me personally.

This book was provided for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for my review.  All opinions are my own. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Nesting Place- Book Review

The Nesting Place blog has been on my daily blog feed for a while, and the site's mantra "It Doesn't Have to be Perfect to be Beautiful" captures blogger Myquillyn Smith's decorating style perfectly.  Don't misunderstand: every luscious scene of a living space or bedroom is in fact beautiful.  I would say gorgeous. But it isn't a study in perfection.  Myquillyn believes a beautiful space can (and should) also be comfortable and inviting. With chapters on giving up perfection and "the gift of messes", she makes you believe a beautiful, yet "yes, children live here" home is possible.

I really appreciated chapter 5: "A Place of Peace: Embracing the True Purpose of Your Home". Personally, I frequently think things should be a certain way because, well, that is how people do it.  Mind you, these "people" don't live in my home and understand how we need it to function.  It is just a knee-jerk reaction that certain rooms have a purpose and you should make your home fit that purpose, rather then making your home fit what you really need (or want).  How many people have that formal front room where no one is allowed to sit on the furniture?  A whole room just waiting for someone who might, but most likely will not, one day possibly use it.  I think Myquillyn would advise against that. From this chapter, I am thinking more of whether I would actually benefit from a more formal sitting room, or if a second home office is more useful. (Hint, both adults in my house are currently working 40+ hours a week from home.)

This book largely addresses broad ideas of decorating, such as don't be afraid to try new things or put nail holes in your wall.  It is not going to provide you specific decorating advice, like pairing stripes with patterns, etc.  Given the frequent change in what is considered current or stylish, this is, in my opinion, a better way to go.  There is also loads of advice on how to make your rental place a home where you may be limited in what permanent changes you are allowed to make.  A paperback copy of this book was not available for my review, and I really dislike reading books electronically, but even on my tiny iPhone screen the photos were beautiful.  It was a quick read, but made many good points about finding your own style and I would recommend it to anyone interested in design and home decor.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, May 30, 2014

The Start of Summer

This is the first summer I have looked forward to in a long time.  I usually prefer the organized structure of the kids being in school, having homework, going to bed earlier.  :  ) But something about warmer weather and a looser, more relaxed lifestyle sounds so appealing.  Unfortunately, my office still expects me to work 40 hours a week, so "more relaxed" is going to be a relative term.  

We spent Memorial Day watching S and her Girl Scout troop walk in a parade.  Poor S (and poor me) had to wake up at 6:00 am for a 6:30 am pickup by her troop leader.  Her troop leader deserves the most sympathy for hanging out with nine 7 & 8 year olds from 7:00 a.m. until the parade started at 10:00 a.m. We were very lucky to find a nice, shady spot under trees to watch the parade.  The troop was handing our candy down the parade route, and I told S it would be nice for her to try to give some candy to her sisters as she walked by.  As she walked past, S smiled and waved at us and then immediately walked to other side of the street!  It was so funny and so perfectly S.  She said later that she was told to stay on the other side of the road to keep the girls from clumping up together.  E & G got plenty of candy of other people in the parade, so don't feel too bad for them.  This is the best picture of S I could get.  Do you see the girl on the left in a white shirt and brown sash who looks like a street lamp is growing out of her head? Yep, that is S.  I know, I should be a professional photog.  

Here are G and E enjoying the parade (and the shade).  G is on her phone- shocking.

S saw a couple of school friends she knew in the crowd as she walked the parade route, and I think it made her feel extra special.  She said they were yelling and waving at her and she liked it.  She's already a pop star in her own mind, so she should really be used to the attention.  : ) And side effect of waking a kid up at 6:00 a.m. and having them walk over two miles in the heat is they tend to fall asleep on the couch pretty early. 

S & E started summer camp on Tuesday and have field trips every week.  Just this week, their field trips have been playing in the park and jumping on trampolines.  Maybe if they keep this up, we won't have later bedtimes this summer after all.