Saturday, December 26, 2009

saving cicadas by nicole seitz

When single mother Priscilla learns she is pregnant again, she takes her family on a road trip they will never forget. What she’s looking for, she doesn’t really know, but along the way, she will discover the importance of family, unconditional love, and forgiveness.

Saving Cicadas is told mainly from 8 ½-year-old Janie’s point of view. This technique is quite effective, as it allows the reader to see grown-up problems from a child’s perspective.

Honestly, I didn’t enjoy the first half of the book much at all, and I probably would have stopped reading if I hadn’t agreed to read and review it for Thomas Nelson. However, the last third of the book really picked up, and the last fifty pages or so are spectacular. Seitz weaves an interesting tale with several shocking twists. (The twists are perfectly built up to throughout the book; I just didn’t pick up on the clues!)

I highly recommend this book. It’s so much deeper and more thought-provoking than much of the fiction on the market today, and it makes a powerful statement about life while not making light of the difficult choices facing single mothers.

***I received a free copy of this book for review through Thomas Nelson's book review blogger program.***

Friday, December 25, 2009

christmas in nebraska

My family always spends Christmas with my grandma in Kansas. Always. I can't remember ever spending Christmas Day at home, though we may have when I was very young. This year, though, we had no choice but to stay in Nebraska, due to a blizzard. That's right, a blizzard. I can't remember seeing snow this bad before.

My brother and sister-in-law came for our family Christmas on the 23rd. They left early in the morning on Christmas Eve because they had plans with her family for Christmas. We planned to leave for Kansas by 11 a.m., but because of the bitter cold conditions and the threat of more snow, my dad decided we should stay home and plan to go to Kansas on Saturday. We spent a fun day at my parents' house on Christmas Eve--playing Dutch Blitz, baking cookies, making pizza, and watching And Then There Were None. Then Janet (the international student who is staying with me over break) and I returned to my apartment, where we played with my new paraffin wax bath. (Thanks to Blendy and Val for giving it to me--now I can finally stop "hinting" about wanting one!)

This morning, we woke to lots of wind ... and lots of snow drifts! After looking outside, I decided we could probably make it to my parents' house. And we did--I just got stuck as I tried to pull in at their house! Dad came to the rescue and got my car pulled in--I got stuck with half my car still in the road!

We spent the day eating like kings, playing Dutch Blitz (and Blendy totally cheated--albeit accidentally!), waching my favorite movie ever, attempting to put together an insanely difficult puzzle, and playing a riotous game of Swap!

Dad drove me and Janet home around 10:30--and let me tell you, it really is a blizzard out there! We almost got stuck a couple of times, and we saw some insane drifts! 

This is the view from my front door--I know you can't see too much, but it was the best I could do tonight!

Now that we're home, I'll probably work on Christmas cards while we watch a movie. Janet wants to watch a thriller--I don't have many scary movies, so we'll see what we come up with!

All in all, this was one of the most fun Christmases I've spent. I guess it just goes to show that it's not where you are but who you're with that matters!

Monday, December 21, 2009

my day, facebook style

  • can't believe it's morning.
  • wishes she didn't have to scrape her car.
  • remembers more US history than she expected and probably would have gotten at least an 80% on the juniors' final!
  • is thankful for friends she can vent to.
  • hates the computer in her classroom.
  • wishes the yearbook deadline wasn't on Wednesday.
  • hopes the predicted blizzard doesn't come!
  • really could use a latte.
  • doesn't enjoy tomato chunks in her tomato sauce :-(
  • 's brain feels like mush.
  • is shocked. Steph K doesn't know who Harrison Ford is! 
  • wishes her students had turned in their spreads on time.
  • can't believe how much the gift of a latte brightened her day!
  • loves laughing with the Dockweiler boys.
  • is taking home a lot of work tonight.
  • opened her apartment door and was shocked at the sight of her living room--Stubes did a great job cleaning it!
  • is trying (rather unsuccessfully) to edit spreads while Chrissy plays country videos on YouTube.
  • had supper with the fam.
  • is editing. Still.
  • loves Landrigan cookies!
  • just discovered SNC's Ryan Ahlwardt's solo music. Some of it is pretty good.
  • will be up very, very late tonight.
  • hopes tomorrow's Stuco event is a success.
  • has listened to Ryan Ahlwardt's "My Strength to Jesus" repeatedly. He sounds a bit like Chris Rice here--in other songs, he sounds like John Mayer or Jason Mraz.
  • :: James 1:19-20 "Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God."
  • just made Janae the best birthday present ever!
  • isn't accomplishing much yearbook-wise.
  • is getting frustrated and has to constantly remind herself of James 1:19-20.
  • has complied quite the mental list of issues to cover in yearbook after Christmas break. Perhaps it's time to write them down!
  • is glad that Janet is coming to spend Christmas vacation with her!
  • still hasn't heard her most hated Christmas song! Here's hoping she makes it through the next four days without hearing it!
  • :: Why is caption writing so difficult?
  • decided not to put up her new curtain rod--the neighbors probably wouldn't appreciate the sound of the power drill at 11:30 p.m.!
  • just remembered that she still needs to make copies of the final she's giving in the morning.
  • should stop blogging and start focusing on yearbook!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

and now, a word from our sponsors

Okay, not really, but I do feel like I've been plugging Straight No Chaser enough lately that they should start paying me! If you're not on the SNC bandwagon yet (and if not, why not?), maybe this will help. Click here. It will take you to the SNC Advent Calendar. Count over to Day 18, click on the window, and then follow the link to get a free download of their version of "Auld Lang Syne." The calendar has other free stuff too, but nothing as cool as the download. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

remy zero said it best ...

... when they sang "Somebody save me!"

That's how I've felt over the last two days--like I needed someone to save me from the insanity that surrounds this last week of school. If I had made a "to do" list yesterday, it would have looked a little something like this:
  • write ESL final
  • do powerpoint for Awana Christmas program
  • enter grades
  • proof/edit yearbook pages
  • read Saving Cicadas (my book review blogger book--I really want to finish it because they now have a book available that I'd love to read--I can't remember the name, but it has to do with Lost!)
  • practice Singing Christmas Tree music
  • attend Awana Christmas program
  • practice Festival of Lessons & Carols music (this practice will be with the conductor--and he's going to be able to tell that I don't know my music at all!)
  • meet with speech kids
  • figure out what StuCo is doing for Christmas
  • clean my apartment
  • go to Festival practice (all day Friday)
  • go to the last four SCT concerts
  • call the chiropractor
  • submit 16 yearbook pages (due next Wed!)
I honestly can't remember the last time I've been so stressed out (but I bet it involved yearbook!), and I really let the stress get to me. I was not fun to be around at supper last night, that much I'm sure of! This morning, I was on track to be just as stressed ... I had overslept, probably largely due to my inability to get to sleep last night as I continued focusing on everything I needed to do, I got to work late, and I was just plain grumpy. Then I read Jen's blog. She wrote about all the things she was looking forward to this Christmas season. She has had a lot of stress in her life, yet she was choosing to focus on the good things. 

Now I'm choosing to do the same. This week will undoubtedly continue to be stressful, but I can choose how I respond to the stress. I may have a zillion things to do this week, but I can be joyful while I do them, and I don't need to panic when things happen that are beyond my control. Before I know it, this week will be over, and it will be Christmas!

Monday, December 14, 2009

the highlight of mom's year

At least, that's the way it seemed.

As I've mentioned before, my mom and I are big fans of Straight No Chaser. When I found out they were going on tour this Christmas, I checked out the tour dates and saw the closest they'd be was Junction City, Kansas. Then I got the brilliant idea to buy tickets and take Mom as her Christmas present. So that's what I did. I bought the tickets at the beginning of September, and I managed to keep it under wraps for two months--considering I almost blabbed the night I bought the tickets, I think I did a pretty good job!

The concert was Friday night. We arrived a full hour early (thanks, Google Maps, for wildly overestimating the time it would take to get there!) and had to wait about 40 minutes for the auditorium to open. Fortunately, we were able to wait in the lobby instead of out in the cold! Our seats were in the middle of the second row--we were so close that we couldn't see the whole group at once; we had to keep looking back and forth across the stage! (I don't know where this fits, so I'll just insert it here: Mom was so funny--I could tell how much she enjoyed each song by how high she held her hands in the air while clapping!)

The concert was wonderful. Afterward, Mom and I talked about how we grinned so much that our cheeks hurt. Seriously, I don't know if I stopped smiling once during the entire concert! I have all three of the albums they've released--Holiday Spirits, Christmas Cheers, and the Six Pack EP--and while just listening to them is wonderful, seeing them live is in a completely different realm. First of all, they sound just as good live as they do recorded--and a lot of bands don't. Second, they're absolutely hilarious! They definitely know how to play to the crowd ... whenever they weren't singing a "serious" song, someone was doing something to make the audience laugh. You can get a glimpse of that by watching their YouTube videos, but in person you can see all the faces they make--priceless!

The concert wasn't solely Christmas music, though they did sing many of their Christmas songs. They did all of the Six Pack songs, as well as one or two new ones that hopefully will show up on their next album--including a song that morphed into "Single Ladies"! And ... they did some of their old songs, too! If they had asked me, "Becky, which of our old songs would you like us to do?" I would have said, with no hesitation whatsoever, "Sitcom Medley." Well, they didn't ask me, but they did it anyway! It's a slightly different version than they sang back in the day--the Growing Pains, Spiderman, and Perfect Strangers themes have been replaced--but they still started out with the Full House theme, so I was a happy camper!

Basically, if you ever get the chance to see Straight No Chaser live, you should go. Also, check your local PBS listings, as they recorded a special in New York that is airing this Christmas season ... pretty much everywhere but in Nebraska. (NET, what's your issue? Oh, I know--you have to show Big Red Wrap-Up over and over and over ...)

Now, for the real reason you're reading--if you're coming from my facebook page, anyway--my thoughts on the guys! Go here to see their individual bios. 
  • Jerome--What a ham! His faces cracked me up. Throughout the concert, he was the one to watch; he was always making some crazy face or doing something silly! Some of my speech kids could have learned from him.
  • Dan--Founded the group back at IU. He arranges a lot of the music. Interestingly, he wasn't that memorable. He didn't make a poor impression or anything, but I definitely remember some of the other guys better.
  • Dave--Cracked up when he wasn't supposed to--something I can totally identify with! For everyone who is dying to know which guy Mom picked out for me, Dave's the one. She thought he spent the entire concert looking at me, which apparently means he wants to marry me. (Sorry to burst your bubble, Mom, but according to his bio he's in a relationship!)
  • Charlie--easily the best-looking of the bunch, but married. Tells a great story.
  • Michael--SNC's answer to Robert Pattinson--but better looking. Much better looking. Also looks much younger than he really is. I was guessing 21 or 22--he's 28.
  • Seggie--Mom thought he looked like he belonged in the Italian Mafia.
  • Tyler--Should I even say this? The guy seemed to have no personality. He can sing with the best of them, but his stage presence wasn't so great. He's one of the new guys (two guys left the group after the first album came out last year), so maybe he just needs to get used to performing.
  • Randy--He's the guy who put their old videos on YouTube, where millions of people watched them. He looks quite a bit older than the rest of the guys, and there's something endearing about him.
  • Ryan--I liked Ryan. Two days later, I can't really tell you why, but I remember liking him!
  • Walter--Incensed the crowd by mentioning the Jayhawks. Apparently, Junction City is firmly in Wildcat country! This was a running joke all night. He's now the "Jewish guy," as the original dreidel guy left the group.
Now for a pictoral glimpse of the evening:

This is right before we went inside. We're excited!

We're still excited! We're waiting for the concert to start--and the lovely vocal stylings of Michael Bublé are keeping us entertained.

Intermission. We can't stop smiling!

Mom whipped out these chocolate chips for a snack during intermission. Soon, the little girl behind us started talking about smelling chocolate ... should we have offered to share?

After the concert, and we still can't stop smiling!

We stopped at IHOP for a late supper. And we're still smiling!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

snow day #2

I don't know if I've ever had two snow days in a row before. I suppose it may have happened back in the day, but I certainly don't remember it. And, as a nice little bonus, we also have a late start tomorrow!

I woke up this morning to the smell of gasoline. My sleep-addled brain finally determined that the smell was coming through my heat ducts. I opened the door to my utility closet, and the stench slapped me in the face. My first thought was to call my landlord. My second thought was to shower before calling him (as I didn't shower yesterday--yay for snow days!), just in case he was already on site and decided to come right over. While in the shower, it occurred to me that the smell might not be coming from my furnace but might instead be drifting up from the laundry room and/or utility room, both of which are directly below my apartment. When I checked out the utility room, I determined that the smell had originated there. Perhaps my landlord had problems with the snow blower this morning? I turned my heat way down so the stench would not be transported through the apartment by my heater. Then I closed all the other doors in the apartment, opened the utility closet, sprayed Febreze, and turned on a fan. After several hours, the smell dissipated.

When I ventured down to check my mail around noon, this is what I saw:

I don't know how many inches that is, but I know it's a lot! Later, after my neighbor and the Bobcat man were finished moving snow, this is what the front lawn looked like:

Notice the SUV in the background--the snow practically obscures it!

I spent my afternoon cleaning my bedroom. I've discovered that I sleep better in my spare bedroom, so my room has been quite neglected recently. However, one of my students is staying with me over Christmas break, so I'll have to move back to my room. Hopefully having it clean will make it a little more inhabitable!

I ventured out to do some laundry at my parents' house, and then I got a haircut (which was rescheduled from yesterday). Val said she liked it, but Blendy said she prefers it when it flips out. Well, it will probably be flipping out tomorrow--I don't really possess many hair-doing skills, and letting it flip out (or basically go whichever way it pleases) is the easiest!

We had Awana tonight, despite the fact that both NC and the public school were closed today. Next Wednesday is our Christmas program, so I guess it was pretty important that the kids were there to practice. We only had nine Sparks, so our practice accomplished a little, but not a lot. Hopefully more will be there next Wednesday!

After Awana, I watched the end of Edward Scissorhands while munching on some delicious cinnamon popcorn that Sue, my Sparks co-director, brought for treats tonight. (Shocker that Sue would bring popcorn!)

A glimpse of both the new haircut and the popcorn ... as well as my styling flip-flop pajamas!

All in all, it's been an excellent two days off!

lesson learned on a snow day

I learned a powerful lesson today. Sometimes I can be a little dense, and it takes a while for me to catch on to whatever God is trying to teach me. Today, though, it was impossible to miss.

While cleaning my bedroom, I decided to open the curtains and blinds to let the sunshine in. I should mention that I rarely open the curtains as I'm basically only in the bedroom to sleep. Soon, I noticed one of my neighbors digging out his car. Then I noticed that he was scooping the snow from behind his car and dumping it behind mine! At first, I just stared in disbelief. Then, I got annoyed. I would never have confronted him over it, but I definitely was thinking some not-so-nice thoughts about him. After about 20 minutes, he got in his car and pulled away.

I continued cleaning, and my thoughts often centered on how long it would take me to shovel the snow surrounding my car. Then, I saw my neighbor pull into the parking lot. With him was a man on a Bobcat. While the man with the Bobcat moved the large amounts of snow, my neighbor went from car to car, clearing a path to the road for each one. He also shoveled a path around each car. He worked for well over an hour.

As I watched him, I felt ashamed. Ashamed of the way I reacted when I saw him moving snow behind my car. Ashamed of my grouchy thoughts as I anticipated digging out my car. But most of all, I was ashamed that I chose to jump to conclusions rather than give my neighbor the benefit of the doubt.

While I don't know my neighbor well, he's never been anything but friendly to me--yet I rarely entertain positive thoughts about him, due to one incident that occurred nearly three years ago. I was more than ready to condemn him for his actions while he scooped the snow around his car because those actions seemed to confirm what I already thought about him.

Today, God clearly showed me how judgmental I can be, and He also showed me that I should not assume to know someone's motives ... because what I think is happening may not be what is really happening at all.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

snow day #1

Ah, snow days--one of the benefits of working in education! Today, we had our first snow day of the year. Tomorrow, we'll have our second! I spent a rather lazy day at home, and it was fabulous. I'll have to get some actual work done tomorrow :-)
  • I woke up at 11:30. 11:30! When I went to bed last night, I initially set my alarm for 9, but then I decided to just let myself sleep. I had no idea I'd sleep so long, but I woke up feeling wonderfully rested!
  • Blendy braved the snow to spend the afternoon with me. Or was she spending the afternoon with my fast internet?
  • While she was here, we made biscuit pizzas for lunch. They're such kid food, but I still love them!
  • I finally cleaned up the living room--it was about time! I also did all my dishes. Again, it was definitely time!
  • I put up the rest of my Christmas decorations and wrapped some presents. (Note the cross-stitched angel at the top of the tree. One year, Val and I had a colossal fight about what should go on the top of our tree--she thinks this angel is ugly, and I love it! Now that I have my own tree, I can put it wherever I want ... and it fits in well with the rest of my tree!)
  • After seeing a commercial for Dean Cain's new Christmas movie, I had an urge to watch Lois & Clark. So I did. For hours!
  • Janae gave me her recipe for her amazing molasses cookies a few weeks ago, and I finally made them today. They didn't turn out quite as amazing as hers did ... after they cooled, they turned into rocks!
  • Check out Cinematic Survey. I finally posted something new!
  • I never really had supper ... I just had molasses cookies. So, at 10:30 p.m., I decided to make pancakes! They were delicious.
  • Several months ago, I wrote about this cross-stitch project that my grandma started several years ago. My goal was to finish it by her birthday. Well, that didn't happen, but today, as I was trying to figure out what to give her for Christmas, I decided to attempt to finish it before we go to Kansas on the 24th. Do you think it'll happen? (Interestingly enough, the day I wrote about the project was also a snow day.)

Monday, December 7, 2009

cornhusker excitement

I've never really talked about Nebraska football on this blog before. In fact, a search of the terms "Nebraska football" will turn up one post, and that was more about politics than football.

I guess the reason I never mentioned football is that there was nothing incredibly blog-worthy about the program ... at least nothing interesting enough that my readers who aren't already Nebraska fanatics would care about. By the time I started blogging on Blogger, Steve Peterson and Bill Callahan had already been fired, Tom Osborne had been named Athletic Director, and Bo Pelini had been hired. Sure, there were wins and losses, but Husker football has been fairly mediocre in recent seasons (though I do believe we're getting back on the right track ... if only we can find an offense somewhere!)

Today, I have something to blog about. Actually someone. Ndamukong Suh. Prior to this season, folks outside the state had probably never heard the name. I really only started following him at the beginning of the season. After the Missouri game, I started seeing "Ndamukong Suh for Heisman" groups popping up on facebook. Still, I thought he didn't stand much of a chance of being named a finalist, largely due to the fact that the team didn't stand a chance of contending for a national title.

Last Saturday night, though, Suh showed the nation just how good he is. In the Big 12 Championship, #93 and the rest of the defense showed they could play with the big boys of Texas, and Colt McCoy may have seen his Heisman hopes go down the tubes. Take a look:

The Heisman finalists were announced on ESPN earlier this evening. One of the names called? Ndamukong Suh.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

catching up

Now that NaNoWriMo is over, I feel like I have my life back. Sort of. I'm no longer tied to my laptop for hours a day, but December brings its own craziness. So here are some little snippets I've been wanting to tell you but haven't taken the time to yet:
  • Amazon is once again offering a free Christmas mp3 every day of the month through Christmas. Of course, these are hit and miss in their quality, but it's worth checking out.
  • Last year, I blogged about Christmas music. Karen left a comment recommending Selah's Rose of Bethlehem. At that point last year, I'd already spent way too much money on Christmas music, so I didn't consider buying it, even though I love Selah. Yesterday, it popped up as a recommendation on Amazon. I listened to the 30-second preview of each song, and then I downloaded the mp3 album. Phenomenal! I highly recommend it.
  • I officially have my first cold of the season ... fortunately, this cold seems to be controllable by DayQuil. Most of the time, cold medicine just knocks me out, but today I felt better after taking it! I'm hoping my ears don't get plugged ... that would make singing quite difficult!
  • Speaking of singing, we have our first official Singing Christmas Tree concerts this weekend. We had a dress rehearsal last night, and things were pretty rough (as in nearly all the altos stopped singing during one song because we couldn't find our notes. It was truly painful). We have another dress rehearsal tomorrow night, and the concerts start on Saturday ...
  • But I'll be missing the Saturday concerts because I'm going to see The Nutcracker in Omaha with our international students!
  • You might notice new badge on the left hand side of the blog. I've joined another book review program--"Blogging for Books" for Waterbrook Multnomah. Multnomah put out the Palisades romances in the '90s, but they do publish books that aren't in the Christian romantic fiction vein. I'm very excited about the first two books I'm going to review for them, but as I don't have the books yet and the reviews can't be posted until sometime in January, I'll keep you in suspense a little longer!
  • Saw The Blind Side with my sisters and cousins on Sunday. I loved it! It's a feel-good movie and it actually portrays Christians in a positive light! (Side note: Tim McGraw looks completely different when he's clean shaven and not wearing a cowboy hat!)
  • I haven't posted on my other blog since Halloween. I do intend to remedy that soon, honestly!
  • The latest issue of the Advance should be mailed tomorrow. (Finally!) You can also see it here. Note my awesome cousin Nate, trumpeter extraordinaire, on page 3 and my wonderful student council kids on page 8. The STUCO kids make my role as adviser fun and incredibly easy!
  • I'm having a love affair with apple cider. STUCO sponsored a Thanksgiving social, and we majorly overestimated how much cider we'd need. I brought a full jug home with me, and I've been drinking some every night. How had I never before realized just how awesome cider is?
  • My apartment is still completely undecorated. I did put up my stairwell decorations, so anyone who goes to the mailboxes will think I'm ready for Christmas. It's just a ploy. Maybe I'll have some time on Saturday???
  • Cari suggested I write the book jacket synopsis for my novel and post it. That's a great idea ... I'll just have to force myself to do it! I will throw you a bone for now ... the title is Together for Good
  • Have to give them points for creative marketing ... I got this in the mail the other day:

    I really have no interest whatsoever in the show (especially after reading the review in TV Guide), but I could always use another jump drive!

  • Our amazing drama team took second place in our district this week! I love drama competitions because I don't have a real job to do--I just go along because I'm state certified and our drama director isn't. So I get to enjoy the play without the stress that comes with being in charge! The play is called "Searching for Happily Ever After." It is, as one of our judges so aptly put it, "Walt Disney meets the Bible."

Saturday, November 28, 2009

an amish family christmas by beth wiseman, kathleen fuller, and barbara cameron

An Amish Family Christmas is comprised of three intertwining novellas that take place in Paradise, Pennsylvania.

A Miracle for Miriam: Seth shattered Miriam’s confidence when they were 14. Five years later, he returns to their Old Order Amish community with a renewed faith in God. He is intrigued by Miriam, but she doesn’t know if she can trust him again.

A Choice to Forgive: Lydia (Miriam’s sister) has been widowed for two years. When her husband’s brother Daniel—who was Miriam’s first love—unexpectedly returns to Paradise, Lydia fears her attraction to Daniel will dishonor her husband’s memory. When she learns of the  secret Daniel and her husband had been harboring, she must choose whether to forgive either of them.

One Child: Sarah & David lost the baby she was carrying one year ago. When a young Englisch couple is stranded at their house, the wife goes into labor. Sarah and David will have to rely on their faith and each other to save the young family.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Of the three stories, One Child was my favorite, though all were well written and entertaining. Each novella can be read in one sitting, making this a great book to pick up on a snowy evening. Also included are several authentic Amish recipes that I’m anxious to try! 

I received a free copy of this book for review from Thomas Nelson.

Friday, November 27, 2009

month of insanity, day twenty-seven

I win!!!!!!!!!!

At 9:38 p.m., my phone rang. When I hung up a few minutes later, I looked down at my word count and saw that it said 50,008. I immediately called Stubes. Then I sat down to wrap up my novel. At 10:45, I uploaded a scrambled version to the NaNoWriMo website, and this is what I saw:

The official NaNo word count is 50,718.


Tonight, I plan to sleep well.

Monday, November 23, 2009

month of insanity, day twenty-three



I've discovered that 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. is my optimal writing time. I can crank out words like nobody's business during that two hour time period. Unfortunately, I also require sleep, but I'm not getting too much of that during the week.

I just looked at the word count meter on the left side of my blog. I'm more than 75% of the way there. That's so crazy!

I'd planned to cover a year in my novel. At 38,613 words, I've covered about two months. I know how the book is going to end, but I may have to change the time frame for that ending.

Tomorrow, I'm headed to conference one-act. I'm not sure when we'll be back, as we have to travel two hours to the competition, so my writing time may be cut short. For the first time since day two, I need to churn out less than the daily 1,667 to stay caught up, so I'm optimistic that I can stay on track.

When I realized I'd crossed the 38,333 mark, I started clapping and cheering (NaNoWriMo brings out strange things in me). I abruptly stopped when I remembered my neighbors, who last night pounded on the adjoining wall to silence Val's singing--at 9:30 p.m.!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

month of insanity, day seventeen

Things I've learned in the last seventeen days:
  • Watching my word count meter go up on the NaNoWriMo website is addicting. I have to fight the compulsion to update my word count every five minutes.
  • My dishes won't magically do themselves. Yet I continue to hope they will.
  • Most of my television viewing is extraneous. When I have to decide between watching a TV show or writing, I almost always pick writing ... and I don't miss the TV. I am keeping up with four shows (NCIS, Bones, Fringe, and V), but I'm taping most of them and watching them at odd hours.
  • Facebook is never more attractive than when you're supposed to be doing something else.
  • I really like listening to country music while I write.
  • I actually can function on four or five hours of sleep ... but I don't like to!
  • NaNoWriMo and dieting don't go hand-in-hand. It takes so much less time to grab fast food or a snack than it does to make a healthy meal.
  • When I'm really focused, I can bang out 1,000 words in an hour. The problem is that I'm rarely focused.
  • Fruit snacks are great brain food.
  • I may be the writer, but sometimes I feel like I have little control over my characters. A new one will suddenly appear, one will make a decision I disagree with, another will refuse to die for pages and pages. Writing is an odd exercise.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

month of insanity, day fourteen

By now, you all know that I'm writing a novel. In a month. The title of my Word document is "Insanity," which has absolutely nothing to do with the plot and everything to do with my mental state when I decided to do this!

As I write this, I'm at 12,967 words--just over a quarter of the way there. However, this is the 14th of November, so I should be approaching 25,000 words! I have managed to write every day except yesterday, when I didn't get home until midnight (and then I stayed up writing until 1:30, so I wrote during my day, even if it wasn't technically still Friday). I definitely need to kick it up a notch!

I've set a goal for myself today--to reach 19,000 words. Considering my average is just under 1,000 words per day, I'll really have to focus if I'm going to write 6,000!

Honestly, I'm beginning to doubt if I can make it to 50,000. I'd been planning to have a writing blitz during Thanksgiving weekend, but that weekend it quickly filling up, and it's looking like I won't have too much time to write then. (It's all good stuff--especially the bridesmaid dress fitting!!!--but I'll have to readjust my writing timeline.)

Two things keep me pressing ahead, in spite of my doubts: 1) I really want to be able to say I did it! 2) A printing company will print a free proof copy of any NaNoWriMo winner's book. I would love to hold a copy of my novel in my hands--even if I'm the only person who will ever read it!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

my continuing countrification

For a limited time, Amazon is offering a free mp3 download of a song by a CMA nominee. The promotion runs through November 22, and there are hundreds of songs to choose from. I know. I spent far too long previewing songs last night! Of course, it helped that I knew that I should be writing, thus making listening to 30-second clips of songs I'd never heard of before that much more appealing!

When I saw the offer, my first thought was that I should get "that song about the guy who cheats and gets hit by a bus." I soon learned that it's "Best Days of Your Life" by Kellie Pickler, and as Ms. Pickler was evidently not nominated for a CMA award, her songs were ineligible.

After much listening (with only a small bit of writing intermixed), I narrowed it down to "Waiting on a Woman" by Brad Paisley, "Start a Band" by Brad Paisley & Keith Urban, and "I Told You So" by Carrie Underwood & Randy Travis. I finally decided to wait ... and after having "I Told You So" run through my head all day, I just downloaded it.

Here's the thing: All three of my "top" songs are country country. And I love 'em! What's happened to me???

Get your claim code and free song here!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

month of insanity, day three

It's day three, and I'm still in it, but I'm struggling.

Yesterday, I basically started over. I kept what I had already written, but I totally changed the way the story was headed.

Today, I had great intentions. In the nearly six hours since I left work, I ...
  • got a haircut
  • ate supper
  • watched NCIS with Val
  • sang through all of my Singing Christmas Tree songs ... some more than once
  • downloaded a free mp3 album from Amazon
  • watched the first half of V (I quit watching in order to write ... funny!)
  • drank approximately four cups of coffee
  • played a Straight No Chaser video for Blendy
  • previewed a bunch of songs on Amazon and iTunes
  • drank a root beer
  • blogged
  • wrote a grand total of 130 words
Hmmm ... I'll probably be up late because of the coffee, so maybe my creative juices will kick in soon!

christmas can-can

In case you were too lazy to click over to the Straight No Chaser website to watch the Christmas Can-Can video the other day, here it is. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

month of insanity, day one

NaNoWriMo began today. I started at 12:01 a.m., and I wrote 787 words before I went to bed. At this point, I think my novel is headed towards being really, really terrible. But the point isn't to write a good novel! (I didn't know what I was going to write until I actually started writing. I'm now questioning the wisdom of going with that idea, but I've already started, so I'm sticking with it!)

I left for church at 10:15 a.m. and didn't get back home until 6:30 p.m. Since then, I've written about 300 words and procrastinated a lot!

Here's my official Day 1 picture, complete with the items that will help me survive this journey:
  • laptop (which has Facebook pulled up. Facebook is the procrastinator's dream/nightmare!)
  • candle (for ambiance)
  • liquid refreshment (in this case, lemonade ... but I've already consumed way too much pop!)
  • Burt's Bees (there's actually a second one on the other side of the laptop. Can't risk having dry lips!)
  • cell phone (to keep in touch with Blendy, who is also attempting to write a novel.)
  • headphones (way more comfortable than ear buds ... and they make me look so cool!)
  • comfy pajamas ('cause what girl wants to be uncomfortable while torturing herself?)
You can keep up with my progress by checking my official NaNoWriMo page. Wish me luck!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

speak before the silence

NaNoWriMo begins tomorrow. During the month of November, you probably won't be hearing from me too much--unless I'm procrastinating. Then you might be hearing from me a lot!

Some things to say before I go silent:
  • My incredible cousin Nate, who joined us on our awesome road trip to Oregon, has been selected to the All State band for the second year in a row. Last year he played 3rd trumpet; this year he's playing 1st! I gave him a check for my concert ticket the other day (so Aunty M, if you're reading this and haven't seen a check, go shake your boy down!)--I'm excited for November 20!
  • I made the best hot fudge sauce the other day. It's my great-grandma's recipe. I have fond memories of eating this sauce on vanilla ice cream at her house. Muy delicioso!

  • I'm beginning to seriously think about church membership. I grew up in a church where membership wasn't stressed, and I'd honestly never really thought about officially joining a church before. Some of you will remember that just over a year ago, I decided to switch churches. I wouldn't say that membership is pushed in my new church, but it's definitely encouraged. I'll be writing more about this later, I'm sure!
  • I had the greatest thought last week as I was watching the tail end of an episode of LOST on some cable channel late at night: When LOST comes back in January, I won't have to watch it alone and then bore/confuse my mom with the details at work the next morning. Why? Because Val and her roommate will be able to watch it with me!
  • Watch this video. (Sorry, I couldn't figure out how to embed it here, so you'll have to click through to the website.) Now be jealous of me and my mom--we're going to a Straight No Chaser concert in December!!! Merry Christmas, Mom!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

monkey see, monkey do

My uncle is the king of reading. My mom's side of the family is known for its readers, and he just may top all of them. Not only does he love to read, but he loves to share the things he's read with my family. My parents have received, well, probably hundreds of books from him throughout the years. And, of course, you can't forget the numerous magazines and newspapers he subscribes to. He'll often send clippings of things he thinks we'll be interested in. During my senior year of college, one of the articles he sent me inspired what I remember to be the worst paper I've ever written ...

Mass Communications was a class I'd looked forward to taking, but in the busyness of my final semester as a full-time student, I didn't give it the attention I should have. It was an easy class, and a large percentage of the grade came from two papers. The day before the first paper was due, I still didn't know what I was going to write about. Then I checked my mail. In my box was an envelope from Uncle Ken. And in that envelope, I found an article about Christian music. (Sidenote: Isn't the internet great? I just found and linked to that very article--an article published six years ago!) The article inspired my paper, unimaginatively titled "Christians in the Secular Music Industry." (At least I remembered to give it a title. So many times I turned in papers or articles without titles, and I eventually got to the point where I'd type TITLE in huge letters at the top of the page. I don't think I ever turned in a paper with the TITLE still there ...)  I pulled the only all-nighter of my college career while writing the paper--thank goodness for the internet; I found every single source, except for the article from Uncle Ken, online! I finally finished minutes before class started (I skipped my other morning class to work on it), rushed across campus, and arrived just in time to hear the prof say that she'd give us until 5 p.m. to turn the paper in!

Because I'm a nerd, I saved all of my college papers; I just reread this one, and it's not as horrible as I remembered, though it reads more like a magazine article than an academic paper. Still, I got an A!

Well, this trip down memory lane wasn't supposed to be the focus of this particular post! What I was getting at when I first mentioned my uncle was that he recently sent the food section of the Los Angeles Times, and it inspired me to bake. The front page article was about monkey bread; following the article, the author listed three variations. I'd never thought of monkey bread as being anything other than a gooey, cinnamon and sugar, pull-apart bread (which is, of course, fabulous); when I saw the recipe for an olive oil and herb version, I knew I needed to try it.

All ready to go into the oven
It. Was. Fantastic. I'm a huge fan of dipping bread into herb and garlic flavored olive oil, and this bread reminded me of that--except that every bite was infused with flavor, and the outside was all crusty and delicious. Mmmmmmm, good!

It was supposed to cool for 15 minutes after coming out of the oven. I waited ten!

Doesn't it look delectable?

No, I didn't eat 1/4 of it in one sitting--Steph had some, too!

If this has whet your appetite, you can read the article and get the recipes here.

Monday, October 26, 2009

the tallest of smalls by max lucado, illustrated by maria monescillo

I recently read and reviewed Max Lucado's Fearless. It was my first real exposure to Lucado's writing, and I loved it. When I learned Lucado had written a children's book based on a story he tells Fearless, I couldn't wait to read it. Fortunately for me, Thomas Nelson decided to offer that book, The Tallest of Smalls, as a book review blogger selection!

The Tallest of Smalls tells the story of Ollie, a boy who lives in Stiltsville, where status is shown not by fancy cars or designer clothes but by ... stilts! Those who possess stilts are elevated, literally and figuratively, and they look down on those who aren't. One day, to Ollie's shock, he is given stilts! But his elevation doesn't turn out like he'd planned, and he is soon back on the ground with the Smalls. Jesus comes alongside Ollie to teach him that he is special because He created him!

This book is wonderful. I loved the message when I read it, and then I gave it the "kid test" by reading it to the elementary students in my Awana Sparks group. They were captivated. The illustrations beautifully depict the story, but the words give the book its power. Lucado uses rhythm and rhyme masterfully in this story to teach children that they are so special to God.  I highly recommend it, not only for kids, but also for adults who read Lucado's Fearless!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

warm and wonderful weekend

So the Huskers lost (and, frankly, looked like they wouldn't have been able to hang onto the ball if their lives depended on it). But other than that, I had a delightful weekend!

  • Made breakfast for supper with Blendy and enjoyed eating with the fam.
  • Looked at a house with Val. She has the opportunity to move into a furnished house for not very much money.
  • Watched The Proposal with Mom. She thought the eagle scene was hilarious. (And I thought the preview for Old Dogs was hilarious. The movie will probably be ridiculously stupid, but I couldn't stop laughing at the trailer!)
  • Finished the first season of Fringe. Boy, was Lori ever right when she told me I'd love it!
  • Did all my dishes. I so wish I had a dishwasher!
  • Made pizza with my sisters.
  • Went to Love Happens with Steph and Janae. It was ... OK. Much more serious than many romantic movies, it wasn't actually that romantic, either. I think Janae and Steph liked it much more than I did. (Weird fact #1: There were no previews. I don't think I've ever been to a movie with no previews, and I felt kind of cheated. Weird fact #2: The average age of the people in the theater had to be at least 45--and that's only because of the row of teenagers. Most people were well over 50, I'd say. I think the only other time I saw a movie with so many old people was when Beth and I saw The Horse Whisperer.)
  • Watched The Proposal with Steph and Janae. Tried to contain myself as we watched the Old Dogs preview ... with moderate success.
  • Went to my high school friend Dorinda's anniversary party in Beatrice. Being a great sister, Steph went with me! It was great to see Dori and her parents again! (While we were talking, I remembered how Dori's mom used to always feed me when I went to community college. I had several evening classes one semester, so I'd go hang out at their house during my break between classes. I'm not big on barbecue, but Dori's mom would frequently make barbecue ribs that were out of this world. If I remember right, she made her own sauce--and it was amazing!)
  • Stopped by Andrew & Susan's in Lincoln on the way home. Andrew provided me with the caffeine I needed to squelch my headache.
  • Drove through Popeye's for supper. Steph and I split a meal, so we got the mild chicken ... next time I'll be having the spicy!
  • Made cinnamon coffee for Janae and Val. Thanks to Jen for the simple cinnamon tip!
  • Watched FlashForward with Val. We're both thinking that we may not watch much longer. It's trying to be LOST, but it's not succeeding.
  • Realized that since I'll be at work until 8 p.m. tomorrow due to parent-teacher conferences, I don't need to go in until noon!

Monday, October 19, 2009

prepare to dig down deep!

I've been a fan of Josh Harris's writing for a long time. Like many other Christian girls in my generation, I read I Kissed Dating Goodbye, and it made a lot of sense, though its application was purely theoretical, as I'd never dated in the first place! In college, I read Not Even a Hint (which has since been re-released as Sex Is Not the Problem (Lust Is)), and a couple years ago I purchased and partially read Stop Dating the Church. (The reason I didn't make it through the book had little to do with Harris and much to do with my virtual inability to finish reading a non-fiction book. I'm getting better at it now!) Harris's next book, Dug Down Deep, doesn't release until next year, but the first chapter is available now. I'm really looking forward to this book, and after you read the first chapter, I bet you will be, too!
Dug Down Deep-Chapter 1 by Joshua Harris

Saturday, October 17, 2009

writing, reading, and browsing

  • I'm going to do it. At least I'm going to try. After starting and never finishing a multitude of stories, I'm going to write a novel. Next month. It will probably be terrible, but that's OK. I've signed up for National Novel Writing Month, affectionately known as "NaNoWriMo." My sisters and I have talked about doing this for a while, and last year I even joined a writing group organized by my friend Jen's brother ... and I got all of 1600 words down before I quit. That won't happen this year--I'm determined to finish!
  • I just read Lonestar Sanctuary in an evening. It's the prequel to Lonestar Secrets, which I reviewed for Thomas Nelson. Lonestar Sanctuary was good, but I didn't enjoy it as much as Lonestar Secrets. For one thing, I had the bad guy pegged pretty quickly, though I couldn't figure out his motive. Also, I wanted to scream, "You're married; it's OK to admit you like each other!" at the two main characters a few times (I think I had that reaction while reading Lonestar Secrets, too). Here's a brief synopsis of the story:
Everyone close to Allie is dying. A madman is targeting her, and she doesn't know why. With no one else to turn to, Allie and her daughter Betsy head for the Bluebird Ranch.
Every day, Rick deals with the guilt of knowing he was responsible for his best friend Jon's death. When Jon's widow shows up at his ranch, Rick knows he must protect her, so he offers to marry her and adopt Betsy.
Rick and Allie's marriage of convenience soon turns into something more. But will Rick be able to trust Allie with his past--and will she learn to trust him with her heart?
Maybe I should be a book jacket copy writer ... what do you think?
  • Have you ever clicked the "next blog" button at the top of my blog (or any other blogger blog)? I did tonight ... and I learned that Jennafer is moving to Disneyland, Kat really likes writing poetry, and J believes the Kremlin will be responsible for a nuclear apocalypse that will be blamed on the Jews and Americans--oh, and he was crucified in a past life and may (I wasn't clear on this point) be Jesus reincarnated. Then I got stuck in some horrible loop where clicking "next blog" sent me back and forth between a Japanese blog and this blog called "Robots 4 Change." J was definitely my favorite!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

sleep? who needs it!

  • I should be sleeping. In fact, an hour ago I was dozing on the couch. But then I got up to get a drink, and now I'm completely awake!
  • At what point does a fever become a fever? If I'm at, say, 98.9, should I stay home, even though I feel fine? My normal temp is 97.9 (at least according to my digital thermometer). With the flu going around, is one degree considered dangerous and/or contagious?
  • Why would Amazon offer me a deal on something I bought from them last week? Every day, Amazon has these "gold box" deals where they offer items for quite a bit less than the normal price. (This is how I got Dr. Quinn last year.) If you have an Amazon account, they'll also personalize some offers based on your purchase and browsing history. These deals aren't too exciting, as they usually knock about a dollar off the regular price. I've often seen deals on things I already have--especially books--but never on something I actually purchased from Amazon. Why would they think I'd want to buy another???
  • After all my talk (just ask my sister) about how it's so much better to download from Amazon than iTunes, I went and downloaded Michael Bublé's Crazy Love from iTunes. I got sucked in by the promise of a video for "Haven't Met You Yet." I assumed it would be the official video. Nope--it's the promo video. So save your money, buy the Amazon MP3 Exclusive Version, and just download the instrumental version of "Haven't Met You Yet" from iTunes. (Trust me, you'll want it.)
  • One of the coolest aspects of my job is being able to have a front row seat to see how God transforms the lives of some of the students. Just yesterday, a girl who I had to discipline last week came up to me, threw her arms around my neck, and said, "Miss Becky, I'm so sorry!" This is a girl who, less than a year ago, would have either held a grudge against me or would have apologized without really meaning it. But yesterday, I knew she was sincerely remorseful and wanted to repair our relationship. And that change could only have come about through the power of God!
  • I'm getting another free book to read--and this time, it's not a book review blogger book! It's Colleen Coble's The Lightkeeper's Daughter. I'm anxious to read it and review it.
  • My alarm is going off in six hours. Must. Sleep. Now.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

christmas is coming!

Yes, I know it's only the second week of October, but for me, the Christmas season starts when we start practicing for the Singing Christmas Tree. Our first practice was this afternoon. It's nice to be doing it for the second consecutive year--when I went back last year after being away for several years, I recognized a few people, but not too many. But this year, I remembered so many of the altos, and they remembered me! In a church of our size, it's hard to get to know people, and SCT is a great way to do that! Plus, Steph is singing this year, so it will be fun to share the experience with her.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that one of our songs is "The Majesty and Glory of Your Name." I wrote about that song once before. We sang it my high school choir, and I loathed it then. We sang it with a taped accompaniment, and I thought is was just ... lame. Wow, was I immature. First of all, the song comes directly from Scripture--Psalm 8. Second of all, it's just beautiful poetry! So I'm very excited that we'll be singing this song.

The other reason it feels like Christmas is coming is ... we had our first snow early Saturday morning! I'm not that thrilled about snow--it is only the beginning of October, after all--but it certainly makes me think about Christmas!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

statement about reviews & recommendations

Due to the FTC's new blogger guidelines, I thought I should make a statement about the reviews and recommendations I provide on this site.

I am a member of Thomas Nelson's book review blogger team. This means that I receive free books from Thomas Nelson in exchange for reviewing them. Thomas Nelson urges us to be honest in our reviews, and I am. If I loved a book, I let you know, and if I didn't love it, I let you know that, too. All of my Thomas Nelson reviews are tagged "book review blogger," and I also make a statement about it somewhere in the review (usually at the end). I also have a banner on my site that identifies me as a book review blogger. I think it's a great program, and I'd urge anyone who has a blog and enjoys reading to join.

All of my other reviews are written about products I either paid for myself or was given by a friend or family member who paid for them. I write about them simply because I liked or disliked them, and I want you to know about it. If I'm ever fortunate enough to receive more free stuff to review, I'll let you know.

I am also an Amazon Associate. This means that if someone uses a link I provided to go to Amazon and then buys something, I get a referral bonus. They don't pay until you reach $10, and I'm not anywhere close to that amount. Just know that all of my Amazon links are connected to my associate account. If you have a problem with that, then just go directly to Amazon and search the product I've linked to. When I joined the program, I was already linking to Amazon a lot, so I figured I'd join, and if I made a little money, well, that would just be a bonus! (What I really need is for imdb to create a referral program ... 'cause you know I link to that site all the time!)

green by ted dekker

Wow. That’s pretty much all I can say after finishing Green. Now, I’m used to having Ted Dekker blow my mind with his fiction, but Green wasn’t as much mind blowing as it was inspiring, intriguing, and just really satisfying, well-written fantasy.

Green is the last of the Circle books (Black, Red, and White are the others). It completes—and begins—Thomas Hunter’s journey in two realities; the first reality is our world, and the other reality is 2,000 years in the future. Thomas is tasked with saving both worlds, though as I think about it now, he doesn't do much to try to save this reality—his efforts are concentrated on the future reality, which is careening toward Armageddon at break-neck speed.

Supposedly, one can read Green either before Black or after White, but I think it would be quite confusing to enter Dekker’s fantasy world with Green. After finishing the book, I can understand how it leads directly into Black, but I still think it would be better to have at least a rudimentary knowledge of the other three books before reading Green. Dekker’s Paradise Novels and Lost Books also tie into the Circle books; I’m glad I read Sinner recently, as Billy, a major player in Green, made more sense than he would have had I not known about him from Sinner. (Reading Green also helped me understand why I despised Billy in Sinner.)

I hope Dekker isn’t finished with the fantasy world he’s created here; reading Green made me want to reread his other books to pick up things I may have missed, and I’d really enjoy reading more about these characters. I highly recommend Green … as well as Dekker’s other novels!

I received a copy of this book for review through Thomas Nelson's book review blogger program.

Friday, October 9, 2009

musical musing

"Storybook Love" from The Princess Bride came on the radio during Classics by Request this afternoon. When I heard the first strains of the music, I got a little chill. Then I thought, "That's dumb. I just listened to the entire soundtrack yesterday!" So why is it that I get so much more excited when hear a song I love on the radio than I do when it's on my iPod? Maybe it's because it seems so much more coincidental and unexpected when it's on the radio ... or maybe it's that hearing the song on the radio is confirmation that someone else likes it, too ... or maybe it's a little of both!

What songs do you get excited about hearing?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

find your strongest life--expanded review

Thomas Nelson requests that book review bloggers keep their reviews close to 200 words. I found I had many more words than that to say about Find Your Strongest Life, so I'm posting this expanded review. I'm bolding the new stuff so you can easily identify it.

I must admit, I was quite skeptical as I began reading this book. The cover evokes thoughts of Joel Osteen’s Your Best Life Now, which some would see as a positive, but not me. However, before I even finished reading the introduction, Buckingham had me hooked.

In Find Your Strongest Life, Marcus Buckingham stresses that women should be pursuing their passions, not settling for doing what seems sensible. He says that in order to be strong, happy, and successful, women need to discover what their strengths are and then pursue those strengths, rather than focus on “fixing” their weaknesses.

I really enjoyed this book—with a few reservations. Buckingham’s writing style is clear and friendly, and he includes a “What to take away from this chapter” bulleted list at the end of each chapter, which clearly summarizes the main points. The final section of the book, “Strong Life Tactics,” is especially helpful. Buckingham gives clear advice for building up your strengths in several areas of life.

I do wish Buckingham would have spoken specifically to single, childless women and stay-at-home moms—millions of women (including me) fit into one of those categories, yet this book focused exclusively on women who are trying to balance careers and families.

One area of the book I was disappointed in was the Strong Life Test ( and its application. I took the test twice and came up with different Lead and Supporting Roles each time. Most of the questions on the test dealt with relationships with a spouse or child or seemed geared toward high-powered career women. As I am not a wife, mother, or businesswoman, I had to guess, and honestly, most of the options didn’t sound like me. More helpful were Buckingham’s suggestions for ways to discover your passions—reading through old scrapbooks and journals, talking to your parents about what you were like as a child, remembering the things you got excited about before adult responsibilities took priority.

Also, if you’re thinking about buying this book, you should know that, while it’s published by Thomas Nelson, there’s nothing particularly “Christian” about it. It does contain helpful advice, but the advice doesn’t come from a biblical standpoint. I don’t think that invalidates the book, but readers should be aware that this book basically approaches life from a humanistic standpoint, focusing on self and each person’s “truth” for their life (and I cringed each time I read the words "your truth"--which popped up quite often), while largely ignoring faith—an aspect of life that should be paramount to believers.

Basically, I think this book has value--if taken with a grain of salt. For someone in my situation--single, childless, and basically free to do whatever I want--his advice is great. I'm not pursuing my passions ... I've gotten to the point where I don't even remember what they are anymore. So reading this book has caused me to think about my life and the direction I want for it to go. But for the married woman who stays home with her kids, I'm afraid this book may do more harm than good. I think it's wonderful for women to stay home with their children (though I'm not by any means saying they must), and this book will do nothing to affirm that decision. In fact, it may even make women feel they need to be pursuing career goals.

Monday, October 5, 2009

guess what? i still haven't met you yet!

The other day, I posted the promo video for Michael Bublé's single "Haven't Met You Yet." Since then, he's released the official music video. I thought it was really odd at first, but by the end, it had grown on me!

find your strongest life by marcus buckingham

In Find Your Strongest Life, Marcus Buckingham stresses that women should be pursuing their passions, not settling for doing what seems sensible. He says that in order to be strong, happy, and successful, women need to discover what their strengths are and then pursue those strengths, rather than focus on “fixing” their weaknesses.

I enjoyed this book—with a few reservations. Buckingham’s writing style is clear and friendly, and he includes a “What to take away from this chapter” bulleted list at the end of each chapter, which clearly summarizes the main points. The final section of the book, “Strong Life Tactics,” is especially helpful. Buckingham gives clear advice for building up your strengths in several areas of life.

I do wish Buckingham would have spoken specifically to single, childless women and stay-at-home moms—millions of women fit into one of those categories, yet this book focused exclusively on women who are trying to balance careers and families.

Also, if you’re thinking about buying this book, you should know that, while it’s published by Thomas Nelson, there’s nothing particularly “Christian” about it. It does contain helpful advice, but the advice doesn’t come from a biblical standpoint. I don’t think that invalidates everything Buckingham says, but readers should be aware that this book basically approaches life from a humanistic standpoint, focusing on self and each person’s “truth” for their life, while largely ignoring faith—an aspect of life that should be paramount to believers.

(I reviewed this book as a Thomas Nelson book review blogger.)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

what to do on a completely free day

These things I've done:
  • sleep in
  • watch Thursday's FlashForward
  • rewatch the middle 20 minutes of FlashForward because I was distracted.
  • watch Thursday's The Office.
  • retake the Strong Life Test that goes along with my book review book. Get yet another result for my lead and supporting roles.
  • finish my review of Find Your Strongest Life. Per Thomas Nelson guidelines, it will go up on my blog on Monday.
  • write an expanded review to also post on this blog. Thomas Nelson requests that all reviews are approximately 200 words, but I had so much more to say about this book that I decided to write a regular review and an expanded review.
  • work out while watching the first season of Fringe.
  • make a better-than-Egg McMuffin out of a soft-boiled egg and an English muffin.
These things are yet to be done (and I can virtually guarantee not all of these will happen!):
  • do the dishes
  • go to the parents' for supper
  • read Green
  • take out the trash
  • shower
  • watch Ryan Reynolds on SNL
  • search for speeches for the new speech season
  • go to bed before midnight

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

my new "favorite" song

Every once in a while, a song will grab me. I get überexcited whenever I hear it on the radio. I sing it at the top of my lungs. I download it and play it incessantly. 

During the summer, that song was "Don't Stop Believing" by the Glee cast. I am absolutely positive that Blendy could happily go the rest of her life without hearing it again. I think both my sisters will be thrilled to know that I've now landed on a new favorite (of the moment) song. Val is actually the one who introduced me to it (a fact she may curse herself for later). Check it out, and let me know what you think!