Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly--Snippet Form

The Good
-Becca is at an age right now where it is really SO fun to watch her and Lizzy interact together. One of her favorite things to do right now is to come over to Lizzy, yell "Hiiiiiiiii!!!!" and then snuggle her face into Lizzy's and say "Awwwwwwwwww!". This usually occurs right at a crucial point in a TV show that Lizzy is watching, which I could imagine would be really, really frustrating, but so far she's been really patient with Becca about it, which is just the sweetest thing! She is just so sweet right now!

-We cleaned our house. Not just a pick-up-all-the-things clean, which is basically all that has happened for the past few weeks months, but an actual CLEAN clean. Which is amazing, and much much less stressful for me. Because when you find your baby eating popcorn and you have no idea where the popcorn came from or even when the last time that you HAD popcorn was, there's a problem.

-Baseball season is over, woo-hoo!!! This means that Justin has been averaging three nights at home per (work) week, and both the girls and I love having him around. It is *so* nice to be able to sit down and eat dinner at our table without rushing around everywhere. For us to be able to talk for a bit after the kids go to bed. It is just SUCH a blessing.

-A friend and her husband recently purchased a dental practice in town. They asked if I would be interested in doing the photography for the office, and they were hoping for landscapes. Landscapes aren't usually my thing, but I jumped at the chance for several reasons: (a) it gave me a reason to get out the camera in a way that I haven't recently and stretch my proverbial creative legs and (b) we are really so fortunate here in Southern Oregon to have so much beauty right in our backyard, and it has been TOO LONG since we've intentionally spent time at some of these landmark places that people drive for hours and days to see. It's been a lot of fun to take some time to go visit with our little family. There's one shot in particular that I just love, and so I added some text. The text won't work for the dental practice, but will be perfect in the new gallery wall around the TV that I have planned out in my head :)

Wall Printable

The Bad
-It has been majorly raining lately, which is starting to cramp my photo style! In fact, not too far away, there has already been SNOW, which is just ridiculous. Knock it off please, weather! I have photo shoots to do!

-I'm in a book slump again. I'm reading Tina Fey's thanks to the library, where I am still on the waiting list and have been since it was released. Library fail. Anyway, I really like Bossypants and I think Tina Fey is hilarious, but it isn't the type of book (i.e. fiction) that you can really lose yourself in, you know?

The Ugly
-Now that Lizzy has started school, we've been trying to make sure that she goes to be between 7pm-8pm most nights, but especially the nights before school. This means that one night a week, I've been staying home with the girls while Justin goes to band practice. While I'm technically a "member" of the band so far as the business side of things is concerned, it doesn't feel like it right now since I'm never there, which is a bummer. I mean, I know I don't need to be at the practices since I don't actually play music or sing. I get that--I'm not a "member" in the same sense that the other people are members. But I used to really enjoy going to practices even when I didn't need to be there, because hello...the band is made up of all our friends and family members. I enjoy listening to them. I enjoy hanging out with them...but now I don't get to do that, because I'm at home. Sometimes it feels like I'm always at home. I mean, I'm able to meet with friends and have playdates during the day and that's awesome. It's a blessing. But that being said, when I see a fun video of everyone goofing around and having fun be posted to Facebook, or when you hear what's clearly an inside joke that you aren't privy to, it's hard not to feel a little like Mindy Kaling-- everyone is hanging out without me. And that in turn can so easily turn into a bitterness that I'm really trying to manage and avoid right now!

It is well with my soul, right? Now you know why I post that kind of thing in my home--because I need the reminder sometimes on a minute-by-minute basis!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Banned Books Week 2013.

I was blessed to have some amazing teachers growing up who required and recommended all sorts of amazing books that even now, I count as some of my favorites. Some of the few that I read over and over again. Literally, books that changed by life and my worldview, for the better.

1984 by George Orwell

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

All of the above? Banned Books.

"Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types –- in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular. By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship." ~Banned Books Website, Office for Intellectual Freedom of the American Library Association

Sometimes I feel like when we thing about banned books, we think about the 1960's or 1970's, burning books in church parking lots, and not about today. But the fact of the matter is that there are still campaigns and challenges to have books banned from schools and public libraries.

"A challenge is defined as a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness. The number of challenges reflects only incidents reported. We estimate that for every reported challenge, four or five remain unreported." -ALA

I think you'd be surprised to know what some of the most challenged books since 2001 have been:

Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher.
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited for age group

Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James.
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit

The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini.
Reasons: Homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit

Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey.
Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group

Looking for Alaska, by John Green.
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group

The Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins
Reasons: anti-ethnic; anti-family; insensitivity; offensive language; occult/satanic; violence

Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
Reasons: insensitivity; nudity; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
Reasons: offensive language; racism

Nickel and Dimed, by Barbara Ehrenreich
Reasons: drugs, inaccurate, offensive language, political viewpoint, and religious viewpoint

Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer
Reasons: religious viewpoint and violence

The Perks of Being A Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: anti-family, drugs, homosexuality, offensive language, religious

My Sister's Keeper, by Jodi Picoult
Reasons: homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence

Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
Reasons: offensive language, racism, violence

The Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger
Reasons: sexual content, offensive language, unsuited to age group

Harry Potter, by J.K. Rowling
Reasons: occult/Satanism, violence

In fact, right now, everything I'm reading is on the banned books list--I'm re-reading A Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, and Looking for Alaska by John Green is waiting for me at the library.  Are you reading one of the banned books this week? Is one of your favorites on the list?

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Little Mermaid (A Giveaway!)

Lizzy loves The Little Mermaid. In fact, we don't own the movie, and last month she asked Grandma Joyce if she could borrow their copy 'until Halloween' which in her world is pretty much forever. We've watched it a number of times since then, and it seems to be one movie that can hold the attention of both Lizzy AND Becca for a few minutes at a time. In other words, it's a lifesaver for me right now!


So, when I was asked if I'd be interested in hosting a giveaway for the Diamond Edition Blu-Ray + DVD combo pack of The Little Mermaid that's being released on October 1st, it was a no-brainer. Of COURSE. I'm thrilled to be able to give away a copy--who doesn't love Disney movies?! In the interest of full disclosure, we will receive a copy of the Blu-Ray as well, and Lizzy will be so excited when it arrives.

So, here's the details:
1. The giveaway is open to U.S. and Canada residents age 18 and over.
2. The giveaway will run from today until 5pm Pacific Time on September 25th, 2013. Once the contest ends, I will pick one winner at random. The winner will need to provide their address (this giveaway is unable to ship to P.O. Boxes) by October 4th, 2013.
3. One entry per person, per day.
4. To enter, just leave a comment on this blog!
5. Please make sure that you have an email address linked to your account, OR that you leave your email address in your comment. If I don't have a way to contact you, I will have to select a different winner, and that would be sad!

Good luck :)


Disclosure Statement: I will receive a copy of The Diamond Edition Little Mermaid Blu-Ray + DVD Combo Pack in exchange for hosting this giveaway. 


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Life Lessons from Making My First Quilt

Awhile back, while using the sewing machine at my parent's house, I'd made a comment about how I don't often sew because the sewing machine that I had was VERY old (either my grandmother or great-grandmother's) and in need of a tune up. Even just putting it together felt overwhelming, and I just wanted to be able to buy a new one that would come with instruction manuals, and probably You Tube videos.

Well, over the weekend, a sewing machine showed up on my doorstep. My dad said he found a great one on sale, and my dad is just that type of person who when he sees a need or a want that he can fill, he just does it. And I'm so thankful!

I scoured Pinterest, determined to find a project or two that I could whip out, and I kept being drawn to quilts. I love quilts, and I'd really always wished that I could make them. So, being that Justin was out of town for work again, I decided it would be a great time to try and make a quilt...I find that when he's out of town, it is crucial that I have something that I'm excited about to look forward to in the evenings and during nap times (ha).

I made a plan. I read the tips. I decided to make a whole-cloth quilt because they're fast and easy. I bought some clearance fabric. It was going to be fun! And easy!




I don't know why in the world I thought that a novice sewer like myself could make a quilt like it ain't no thang. 'Cause let me tell you this: it's a thang.

It's a LOT of thangs. I was in way, way, way over my head.
Nothing was going right. I wasn't sewing in straight lines. The bobbin kept getting all funky. The fabric was puckering. At one point, I somehow sewed the fabric that I had left over to bind the quilt INSIDE the other layers of the quilt. At another point, while I was in the living room with Becca, Lizzy snuck into the room that I was sewing in and cut a chunk out of her hair.
It was definitely not Pinterest worthy. It was a mess. And at that point, I found myself having to make a decision about whether or not I wanted to continue spending time making something that I knew full well was not going to turn out the way that I'd hoped and planned. I had to make a decision about whether or not I could find beauty in something that wasn't even in the ball field of being perfectly done. Now, I'm not the type of person who can turn any old every day occurrence into a philosophical discussion, but for some reason, that moment of deciding whether or not to keep making the quilt hit me kind of hard.
See, when Lizzy and I have school time, I often find myself telling her, 'It isn't important to do everything perfectly, it's only important to try your best.'And oh, do I believe that wholeheartedly when I'm telling her. But is that same level of grace applied in my own life?

In a word? No. I like to do things well. And if I don't do them well, as a rule, I don't enjoy them and I just don't do them. The end. If I'm not good at it, I don't want to play. I'm not the type of person who does things just for fun--I want to win, always.

{Most of the time though, I am the only one who knows there's a competition}

But for some reason, I decided to keep going and just see how it turned out. So, I kept sewing. And I kept messing up. And swearing to myself like a sailor. If you asked me to estimate how many of the lines were sewn straight, I wouldn't even have to estimate...I know: exactly zero. But eventually, I had sewn the last seam of what sort of resembled a very crooked, semi-rectangular quilt. I mean, it would probably make half of the ridiculously talented ladies at church cringe if they knew that I was calling this a quilt. It's wonky, really. But it's a piece of fabric that is quilted, so I'm going with it. 
I popped it in the wash, and when it came out, Lizzy said, "Mama, that quilt is so beautiful! Can I snuggle with it for awhile?!"

"Sure sweet girl," I said.

"Thank you! I am so excited! I just love it so much!" she exclaimed.
Quilt-8 Quilt-4 Quilt-5 Quilt-11

She doesn't see what I see. She sees a blanket, that her mama made, and let her use first. She sees softness and warmth, and something to snuggle into at the end of the day. She sees beauty where I see imperfection. And I couldn't help but feel like this was a gift. A reminder. That it isn't about perfection. Not even a little bit. Not even at all. And you know what? I'm starting to love the quilt too.

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, 
so that Christ's power may rest on me. 
~2 Corinthians 12:9 
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