Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Being Grateful...

In church on Sunday we had a lesson on pride. Being proud vs. being prideful. One of the ways to combat pride is to be grateful.

I was thinking about the many uses of being grateful. I've never really struggled with pride that much, but I have struggled in other ways. For me, I often don't appreciate the moment I'm in and am always looking forward to the next moment. Sometimes that leads me to getting into little funks of depression. Not DEPRESSION, but not being as happy as I know I could be.

During a little self-analysis Sunday afternoon I realized that those little bouts can also be fought with being grateful. Usually they circle around missing California and my family. Sometimes it is just a matter of being a little bit lonely when Eric is working that long 12-hour day and I'm home with just me and the pets. Aside from Fred Meyer and walking the dog by the lake, there isn't a whole lot to do in this town. BUT...

If I work on being more grateful during those moments, I am reminded of how lucky I really am.

The most basic things to be grateful for lift me out of those cloudy moments. Some standards:

1. My wonderful husband. He's the most wonderful man I've ever known. He loves me 100% unconditionally, faults and all. He's smart, fun, sweet, Supportive, chivalrous, generous, musical, sensitive, spiritual, and extremely funny. He is truly my best friend.

2. My family. They may be far, they may be scattered, but they are still my foundation of life.

3. Our home. It is a quirky-looking house, but it suits us perfectly, and the location cannot be beat.

4. Church. The spiritual uplift, extended family, and understanding of my life's purpose, where I came from and where I'm going. To know that we are all part of something greater and that we're loved by Heavenly Father is a wonderful thing.

See? I feel better already.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Slook Karen Takes the Floor...

Karen, your comment was so good, I'm going to publish it as a blog entry. (For the confused ones, we called each other "Slook", rhymes with "spook", in college, I forget why, but it has lasted.)

In response to the challenge of parents in teaching their children the importance of modesty, Karen wrote:

As far as girls' clothing goes, it's definitely scary what people think is okay for little girls to wear, and there seems to be less and less difference between the styles in the juniors section and the girls section. Oy! All I can say is teach, teach, teach, and start talking when they are still very young. I remember doing an FHE lesson using Barbies years ago. We dressed them up in all kinds of outfits then talked about what was modest and why and what things we didn't want to wear. A few weeks later, we were at Olive Garden for dinner, and it was obviously prom nite somewhere. A bunch of girls in beautiful dresses strolled by with their dates, and Courtney leaned over and said, "Mom, that girl's dress isn't modest." =) They can recognize it just like we can. One other thought: I was at a stake YW activity last nite - in conjuction with the broadcast from Salt Lake - and the evening was all about being modest. Part of the program included a video with clips from different young men around the stake talking about how they view girls who dress immodestly. It was interesting to hear the two same points over and over again: 1) it actually makes them extremely uncomfortable and 2) their assumption is that the girl must not really care about herself very much. It's almost a feeling of urgency for me. Looking at the state of the world and its values and wanting to do everything I can for my daughters. I keep coming back to making sure I teach them well - not only about what's right and wrong but also about who they truly are and building their confidence so they can more easily rise above the filth all around them. Sometimes, those long-ago days of toddler tantrums look pretty good. =)

Great, response. I love the idea of using Barbies (or any doll--I wasn't allowed to have a Barbie when I was young) to illustrate modest vs. immodest dress. And, even though I don't have a daughter, I did teach school for 13 years and I still remember the feelings of protectiveness I had towards my little girls of all ages. Teaching in inner city neighborhoods, the girls seemed to grow up even faster, if you can imagine, and when I would sometimes see them at school events not wearing their uniforms I was just saddened and appalled at the things their parents would buy. Not all, but some. I think about those girls now and wonder where life has taken them. Part of me wants to know, and...part of me doesn't.

(By the way...the image above is something I found when Googling the search "modest vs. immodest." It took me to another blog by a mother facing the same challenges. The doll is one her daughter got as a gift. Mom felt the outfit was too suggestive and she modified it. Bravo! Her entry can be found HERE.)

Friday, March 25, 2011

40 'n Fabulous and Other News...

I'm tired! Must be because I'm 40 now. I'm slowing down.

My mom was with us for 8 days up here in the Evergreen State. Days were spent preparing for her arrival. She and I had a nice time, trying to get her to slow down from her usual busy pace in California with grandkids, church activities, and Tuesday night Weight Watcher meetings.

We walked the dog, went shopping, had a mani/pedi lunch date with my mother-in-law, and had company over the evening before she left. I love having company, bringing out the good plates and setting the table all pretty, but it is a lot of work. The dinner consisted of my mom, this lovely couple from church that lives a block away, Eric and me. My mom helped a lot, but I still cleaned and cooked and set the table and had the responsibility of being the hostess. We had a nice time and it was all worth it.

On Wednesday, Eric shaved off his goatee. I'm still getting used to seeing him all clean-shaven!

Yesterday I burned out the vacuum and we had to get a new one. We braved the local Walmart and came home with this Bissell heavy-duty monster that is picking up so much stuff I almost miss vacuuming in blissful ignorance. Ick!

This morning we had a repairman (who was a woman) come to the house and do the yearly inspection of the heating/cooling unit. That took over 2 hours. It was a beautiful day and I could not stay inside so I went out and got some groceries, went to the bank and the post office, and...(she said sheepishly...) went and picked up the ring I had on hold that went on sale today. A little birthday $$, a little extra to supplement, and you have what I call my "40 'n Fabulous ring."

I wish I didn't have such a weakness for bling, but I do. I'm the 3rd generation on my mother's side with such a condition, I'm afraid. Anyway, I know it is completely frivolous, but I love it and plan to make it my new right hand ring. The original plan was to get a ring with my birthstone (aquamarine) but I'm just not a fan of that stone. When I saw this one with its Ceylon Sapphire and the rim of cognac diamonds I fell in love with it. Getting husband's and mother's approval sealed the deal.

Isn't being a girl fun? Even a girl at 40, which, I'm told, is the decade where you really relax and become truly comfortable in your skin. I can see that.

Speaking of girls, I'm going to segue into something more serious. Lately I have run across a few different blogs, postings, and articles about the way the media and advertisers are targeting girls at younger and younger ages to act and dress older. Today Abercrombie & Fitch were highlighted on Facebook for coming out with a padded bikini top for 8-14 year olds. Are you freakin' kidding me? As fun as I think it would be to have a daughter, I would be worried about raising one in today's world. Gail, Karen, Andrea, Trish, Sal, and other friends with preteen and teen girls...I can only imagine the challenge to keep them from growing up too fast. Even without a daughter of my own, I shudder when I see some of the clothes in the girls' and juniors departments at stores.

The other day I was on Gail's site and she linked to a recent blog entry by a mother who had had enough and just had to vent on the way products and clothing are becoming more and more suggestive and the daily challenge for responsible parents to preserve their kids', especially daughters', innocence. It is a fantastic read. Bye for now! Click the title:

"What About Our Girls? Childhood Cut Short."

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

My Birthday Present...

For some time now, Eric has been wanting to get me a Kindle. I was reluctant because I wasn't sure if I would be able to easily transition from a tactile book to a digital screen simulating a book page. I had never even seen a Kindle in person before, and the only person I knew who had one was my cousin, Laura, and hers was new and she'd had it since we last saw each other.

I began to seriously consider Eric's Kindle offer on the plane home from Las Vegas. There were 2 women with eReaders sitting nearby. Meanwhile, I was traveling around with my thick copy of The Help, the current book club selection at the time, stuffed in my purse. It fit, but tightly, and it added plenty of extra weight.

Two days after returning from our trip I went to my book club meeting. Two of the ladies there had new eReader...the Nook, designed by Barnes & Noble. One was a fancy touch-screen color device, and the other was a black and white one without a touch-screen (except for the bottom part where you make your reading selection.) The idea of having a Kindle became even more appealing...I definitely knew that I did not want a Nook after seeing them in person.

After researching the kind of Kindle I wanted...6-inch screen or 9-inch? (There is an almost $200 difference.) Wi-fi + 3G (which allows you to download books from anywhere) or just Wi-fi (which requires you to be near your home network.) (A $50 difference in those 2 kinds...)

My research also led me to discover that there are thousands of free books and a few free games available for download. The highest quality free books are classic novels published before 1923. Other free books are those you would find in the discount bin or at a garage sale...not really high quality reading.

So I settled on a white 6-inch screen Kindle with Wi-fi+3G. I also got a Kindle case that is especially offered from Amazon that has a small LED light that feeds off of the Kindle's power. (The Kindle has 2 notches on the side which the case hooks into.)

I've had it for 9 days now and love it.

The screen is non-glare and really does look like you are looking at a page of paper, but no wrinkles, smudges, tears, or fading. It is very pleasing to the eye.

Right now we are reading Cold Sassy Tree (my suggestion) in the book club and it was available for download for only $4.95, which I did, and lent my book copy to another lady in the group who is always counting her pennies.

Eric likes the Kindle because he doesn't hear the shuffling of pages being turned when I'm reading in bed. See, something for everyone.

I was able to download all of the scriptures for church for only $9.99. Last Sunday I took only the Kindle to church for the first time, after practicing my "scripture navigation" skills for several days before. Thanks to the adjustable sizes of type-face, I was able to participate easily and find my way around the books quickly.

I am not seeing the Kindle as a replacement for books, which was my initial fear. I love books and always will, but there are definite advantages to owning a Kindle, starting with space. A Kindle can hold up to 3,500 books! I'm sure I'll never own that many in my lifetime, but it is a nice feature to have. It is light and eco-friendly. The books for download are less expensive than buying a book. New hardbacks that run $25-$30 are $10-$15 on the Kindle. The average price of all of the books I've seen is $9.99.

Think of it as an Mp3 player for books. It is light and easy to use. I'm looking forward to enjoying mine for many years to come!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Big 4-0.....no!!!! No?

Please, can't I still be in my 30's?

The momentous occasion, in which my 30's will be a shadow of the past, arrives in 4 days. I can't believe it!

But I did accomplish something big--being single for such a long time, I prayed that I would be married before I was 40. See how the Lord answers prayers with a little bit of humor attached? I was nearly 39 1/2!

I will remember my 30's as a decade of growth, milestones, and major events. I felt a lot more comfortable in my skin throughout my 30's. I bought a house (which as a single person in Southern CA is no small feat,) I lost my dad and 2 grandparents and a step-grandpa and a stepsister, I became an auntie--twice--to the 2 most adorable children in the world, I loved and lost (as I dated a wonderful man for several months who passed away tragically at 42 back in 2006,) I changed school districts, I was laid off after 7 years in my new district, I got married, and I left my beloved home state of California to begin a whole new life with my husband in Washington State.

My goodness, I'm tired just reading this!

Let me focus on my first point though: I really have felt a lot more comfortable in my skin in my 30's. I am more accepting of myself as a person, recognizing my strengths as well as admitting my flaws. I feel like my personality has become more mellow, and yet stronger, without being abrasive. I've learned about tact in ways I never knew (a lot of tact was required in different situations as a teacher, especially in my most recent school district). And despite the bumps along the way, I know it has helped me grow. All of the "life bumps" I encountered in my 30's helped me to grow.

So what do I look forward to in my 40's? Well, one thing I have learned is that no matter how much you prepare, life often has other plans for you, which you can embrace, struggle against, or push aside. I would like to think that my 40's will be the decade where I'm no longer living for myself, but as half of a partnership that will last for many decades to come. I'm looking forward to growing together more and more with my wonderful husband. Perhaps we'll have a child, perhaps not (some current medication I'm on for my eczema is putting any efforts on hold,) but, whatever happens, I think will be for the best.

I look forward to meeting more people in my new neighborhood and church community. I look forward to enjoying life more at a slower pace. A lot of my 30's was lost to working as a teacher, and, noble as the profession is, it engulfs you, especially where I worked. My 40's will hopefully be the time where I can focus on old and new hobbies, my house (we do love our house here in WA,) and, again, supporting my husband in any ways he needs.

I feel very hopeful for this decade, and it is probably a good thing that I didn't get married until I was 39, because now I appreciate it so much more than I think I would have in my 20's or 30's.

So what do I say to the 40's? BRING 'EM ON!