Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A Word for Wednesday

"It must be lovely to be grown up, Marilla, when just being treated as if you were is so nice...
Well, anyway, when I grow up, I'm always going to talk to little girls as if they were, too, 
and I'll never laugh when they use big words."

~Anne Shirley, Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery~

Monday, September 28, 2015

Happy Birthday to My World-Traveling Brother!

Happy Birthday, Reagan Paul! I love you forever!
bringing in 2012 together
bringing in 2013 together
P.S. Come back for our obligatory New Years pic!!!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Casual Fridays

First of all, hi. This is what I'm dealing with over here pretty much anytime I'm trying to blog. So you'll forgive me when my posts don't make sense because, I mean, come on.

Second of all, HAPPY FALL! For my comrades down here in the Deep DEEP South--or Northern Cuba as some of us like to call it--Wednesday was the first day of Autumn according to Google. At my house, that means busting out my meager but happy decorations, cranking Michael Bublé, and burning all the apple/pumpkin/cinnamon spiced candles I can get my hands on.
Wait, have we not talked about my candle fixation yet? I can't. That's another post for another day. But it's real, y'all. It blows my ChapStick problem out of the water. 

And speaking of ChapStick, my BFF Lynds got me another one. She is so my enabler, you guys, and she has definitely got the eye for it. I've pretty much been forbidden to go near the ChapStick when I'm shopping because groceries, but Lynds, thanks for having my back, girl!

Ok, in unrelated news, I watched Jurassic Park for the first time ever in my life last week. I know, I know. Hold the snarky remarks, por favor. I'll let the following conversation I had with my brother give you an idea of how I felt about it. Also, I have learned to screenshot. Be so proud of me. I feel like I've finally arrived in the 21st century.

It's one of my brother's favorite movies. And I like to torment him sometimes. It's how we do life. We love each other a lot. 
Circa September 2011

Ok, moving on before I get emotional, and actually, speaking of emotions, let's talk about why I could never ever be a coach on The Voice. Besides, you know, the obvious fact that I'm not a famous celebrity rockstar. 

I could never be a coach because I'm one big mass of feelings all the time. People are just beautiful--GORGEOUS--and I love them all.

I would press the button before they even started singing. 

I'm not kidding. I cry during their intro stories. I beat my button at home to death (which oddly resembles the arm of my couch). I cheer them on--out loud--to the very last note. I clap when they get a chair to turn, and I cry when no one turns around for them. 


I can't watch it when Cody's around because he looks at me like I'm fresh off the funny farm. 

And if I was a coach and we got to the Battle Rounds, I'd have a nervous breakdown. 
Is this post getting out of control? Let's wrap it up with some Link Love and call it a day.

- Greatest Dad Wins EVER : You guys. When she takes her dad the jar to open. Best one.

- A Powerful Practice for Prayer : This was super-helpful to me. What kind of practical things keep you praying without ceasing?

- Princess Cut : Hey locals, get your ticket NOW.

- How To Leave Me A Comment : Because DO IT.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

How To Leave Me A Comment : A Tutorial of Sorts

Hello, friendly readers, and a good Wednesday to you. In the seven months that I've been blogging, I keep hearing these words (or some variation of them), "I tried to leave you a comment, but it was hard so I gave up."

Listen. I feel your pain. I am no friend to the technology myself. I tried to blog from my phone once, and it ended badly. Like, an episode of Criminal Minds badly. Blood everywhere. I jest, but honestly, it did not go well. 

If you've never left me a comment and have no intention of doing so, well, that hurts a little, but I get it and I can deal. I read blogs on the daily, and I'm not trying to comment on all of them. 

But if you want to leave me comments and have been deterred by some difficulty or other, this post is for you. I'm going to do my best to break it down, and BONUS: I even took pictures. So let's see if this makes any sense or helps anyone. Here we go.

You're on my blog, and you're reading through my most recent post. If you get to the end and you don't see a place to leave a comment, you probably never clicked on the title of the post and if you continue to scroll down, you will see the blog post I wrote prior to the one you just finished reading. It'll look something like this:
At this point, you have options. Option 1: continue perusing my posts and laughing hilariously at my one-woman side show. Option 2: click out of my blog and move on with your life taking a piece of my sad, dejected heart with you. Option 3: decide to make my day and click where it says "1 comment". Depending on how many comments that post has or has not generated, the 1 may be a different number. Doing that should lead you to a screen that looks like this:
Here's the part where you need to pay attention. Before you start typing your comment, I recommend that you select your profile. When you click on those arrows, you will see this drop down box:
When I am leaving comments on other blogs, I usually sign in with my Google account. This will require your e-mail address and password. If you have already typed something in the comment box before you sign in, you will lose it and have to start over. That is why I recommend selecting your profile before you type your comment. If you choose "Anonymous", no password is required, but remember, I don't know who you are so if you decide to choose "Anonymous" and expect me to know it's you, leave your name in your actual comment. You can also select "Name/URL" without having a password. It will take you to this screen:
You are not required to enter a URL on this screen to continue, but if you have a blog of your own, this would be a place where you could enter your blog's URL. If not, you can type your name and hit "Continue". If you choose "Anonymous" or "Name/URL", you will be required to check a box that ensures you are a living, breathing human. It looks like this:
Once you check that box, hit "Publish" and you have officially made my day. After you click "Publish", you should be able to see your comment under the blog post. If you don't, we have tragically derailed somewhere along the way, and I apologize. But if you have been successful, check back because I try to respond to all comments that I get.

And if you want to leave me a comment from your phone, good luck because I haven't figured that out yet.

If this was helpful, use that newfound knowledge to leave me a comment below, and have a fantastic day.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Let's Bust A Recap : Think Dog!

Are you cracking up? Wondering if this is a joke? 

It's not. 

I totally read an entire book on dog psychology. I mean, I do have a dog, remember?
Shaggy mess that he is.

Anyway, this book obviously wasn't on my book list--or even on my radar--but I read it on assignment from my husband. We actually bought this book for my brother for Christmas, and then when we got Colonel back in March, he recommended that we read it and lent it to us. Cody read it right away and got a lot out of it. Then a few weeks ago, he told me he wanted me to read it so we could, you know, understand our dog and the best way to train him.

First of all, I think it's hysterical that people can make a living off animal psychology. But they do. And a good one at that! I guess that's natural when we value animal life more than human life.

Having said that, the book was actually really interesting. I literally read it cover to cover. The chapter on how diet affects behavior was a bit boring, but other than that, this book was informative and entertaining even. Scattered throughout, Fisher included anecdotes of different clients he had seen and what their issues were with their dogs. One woman came to him wondering why her dog was being aggressive toward her baby during the baby's feeding time. After some questioning, it came to light that she had been BREASTFEEDING THE DOG. I can't make this up, people. Someone had told her that giving your dog your excess breast milk creates a bond between your dog and baby. But instead of thinking that one out rationally and either dismissing it as hogwash (which is exactly what it is) or at least pumping the milk before giving it to the dog, she straight-up let him go to town on her boob. Y'all. I can't.

So I mean, the book was enjoyable, and I legitimately feel like a more competent dog-owner now that I've read it. Fisher takes the time to break down how a dog might think if, for example, you tell him to come, he runs away, you catch up to him, and proceed to give him a beating for disobedience. The next time you tell that dog to come, he's not going to be very motivated to respond the way you want since the last time you got ahold of him, you hit him. Seems obvious, but when you're frustrated and that's the way people have always trained dogs (or so it seems), you don't think about it that way.

Like I said, there's a lot of helpful information and the book wasn't a complete bore. Obviously, this book is not for everyone, but if you own a dog or are thinking of adding a dog to your family, I would definitely recommend this.

Do you have a dog? What's the most random thing you've ever read? How do you feel about animal psychologists?

Friday, September 18, 2015

Casual Fridays

If you're new around here, Fridays are pretty casual. It's the day of the week I post about whatever I feel like posting about, and there's not really any rhyme or reason to it whatsoever.

Speaking of which, that's my new welcome mat. I love it, and it makes me happy. It's the little things, y'all.
And speaking of things that are making me happy: walks with these two. 

You guys, I am losing my everlovin' mind over here. Yesterday morning, my husband comes back in the bedroom to kiss me goodbye, and informs me that he just turned the burner on the stove off. As in: I LEFT THE RIGHT REAR BURNER ON THE STOVE ON ALL NIGHT LONG. Are you kidding me?? It's fine, he says. It was only on the lowest setting, he says. Thank God we don't have a gas stove is what I say. Please, someone--anyone--tell me you've done this too. Oy.

We're all still alive, as of this morning. worries, I guess.

I just have the fire department on speed dial now.

And I'm so not looking forward to the electric bill this month.

But look at us. We're a happy little family despite my inadvertent attempts to burn the house down around us while we all sleep peacefully.

If our social worker is reading this: I'm sorry. It's all just a joke. This didn't actually happen, and I would never leave a burner on all night with children in the house.

Pray for us, y'all. 

I'm not even sure what to segue into after that confession. How about some Link Love.

- Jim Gaffigan : Am I the last person in the world to discover just how hilarious Jim Gaffigan is? You can watch his full shows on youtube. For free. Cody and I watched this one this week, and I was laughing so hard I actually choked at one point. 

- Funny Texts Between Parents and their Kids : And some of these almost made me pee my pants. Hysterical. 

- Six Brothers Welcome Home their Baby Sister : I can't even handle the sweetness. Just stop it.

- Open Letters to the Church : Yes. This is exactly how I feel about this. I don't write about this kinda stuff myself because why? but this person got it right.

Colonel's Corner
As you can see, we are serious about our shag over here. Apparently, it's time for another haircut because can you see his eyes? Yeah. Me either. But isn't he just so stinkin' cute?! 

In other news, we've started taking Colonel out in the canoe. At first, I think he thought we were trying to kill him. But it only took a few minutes for him to be all over that thing. He likes to lean over the side and drink the lake while we're rowing merrily along. Or bark at the slalom bouys as we pass by them. Like, seriously bark at them because maybe they're capable of attacking us.

But for being half-poodle, this guy is not keen to swim. The first time we took him out, Cody jumped out to see if Colonel would get in the water with him. 

Not. Happening.

But he was so distressed until Cody got back in the canoe. Bless him. 
Well, I think that's about enough for today. I'm finally getting my act together and going to see War Room tomorrow with my girl Christina. I wanted to go opening weekend so bad, but, as you know, I was a little busy hiking Pike's Peak that weekend. Have you seen it? Did you love it? I can't wait.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Let's Bust A Recap : Of Mice and Men

Y'all. Of Mice and Men. By far, the most depressing thing I've read this year. Maybe even ever. It was awful. I got depressed just thinking about writing this recap of it. Oy. Vey. Let's just get it over with, shall we?

If you've been reading the blog the past couple weeks, you know that I went on the Ultimate Roadtrip Across the United States with my dad. You know that I spent a few sweet days in North Carolina with family. And you know that during all that time, I read three books.

The second book I read was Of Mice and Men. Why did I think taking this book on my sweet family-time trip would be a good idea? My husband read it a while back and told me it was depressing. I'll tell you why I took it. It's on my book list for the year, it's small, and I've wanted to read it ever since Cody did. 

Cody was right. So depressing. Not like, crying-my-eyes-out depressing. More like, I-physically-felt-ill-by-the-end-of-it depressing.

Of Mice and Men centers around two friends, George and Lennie, and their dream of owning their own piece of land. They're common laborers just trying to scratch out a living and scrape up enough money to buy an acre of property to call their own. They're an unlikely pair who have really become family to one another. In Of Mice and Men, it seems that they are finally about to obtain the object of their dreams when tragedy strikes. 

This book really is a quick read. It doesn't take long to get through, but I just wouldn't recommend it. On the up-side, Steinbeck knows how to paint a picture with his pen. I was transported to California and could see and hear the characters as if I were sitting by the little stream or hanging out in the bunkhouse with them. And his writing is compelling, too. Like a trainwreck you can't help but watch, I couldn't stop myself from turning page after page till the bitter end. 

But that's just what it was. Bitter. There was quite a bit of language that I just honestly wasn't expecting, and the story itself was....disturbing. 

You guys should know by now that I don't like to spoil the story of the book I'm recapping, so if this post is actually making you want to read Of Mice and Men, I can't blame you. If I read a recap like this, I'd probably go out and read the book immediately. What is it with us humans and our morbid curiosity, amiright? But reading Of Mice and Men is making me seriously second-guess my desire to read The Grapes of Wrath which is on my Life List. It will certainly not be making next year's book list, I can tell you that. 

Have you read Of Mice and Men? Did you find it depressing, disturbing, or wonderfully entertaining? Believe me, I'd be interested to hear a positive perspective on this book. What's the most depressing thing you've ever read?

Monday, September 14, 2015

Let's Bust A Recap : The Scribe

Hello and a very happy Monday to you. It's starting to feel like Fall around here (all the praise hands), so we have been outside the entire morning. Ergo, this post is coming to you in the afternoon. 

I mentioned last week that during my roadtrip of epic proportions and subsequent down time in North Carolina, I managed to read three whole books. Yes indeedy. The first one was The Scribe by Francine Rivers. 

First of all, you should know that Francine Rivers is one of my very favorite authors. I actually own every single book she has written and The Scribe was the only one I had not read. She is phenomenal, and I would highly recommend her books. She is a Christian, and redemption is a major theme in all her novels. However, the nature of her writing is very mature, so if you're younger than 16 (maybe even 18), I personally don't think her books are for you yet. 

The Scribe is the last novella in a series entitled Sons of Encouragement. In this series, Rivers takes lesser known men of the Bible and crafts fictional tales about their lives. The five men in this series are Aaron (brother of Moses), Caleb (one of only two spies from a group of twelve that believed God about the Promised Land), Jonathan (the son of Saul and best friend of David), Amos (one of the minor prophets), and Silas (the companion of Paul). Rivers has a similar series entitled A Lineage of Grace about the five women named in the ancestry of Jesus Christ. 

If you can remember waaaay back to this post, you know that I like to daydream about the missing pieces of Biblical people's lives. Well, that's exactly what Francine Rivers does with these books. And they're fun to read. It's very interesting to me to think about all of the possibilities she presents with these stories. Some of the ways she portrays these people are exactly in line with the way I've always pictured them when reading about them in the Bible. And sometimes, she depicts them entirely differently than I would. When reading these books, it's important to remember that although these were real people that actually lived, her characterization of them is fictional. Which is why I so appreciate her letter at the beginning of each of these novellas based on Biblical people. She emphasizes the fact that she is writing about a real, historical person, gives all Scriptural references pertaining to the person, is transparent about the fictionality of the novella, and encourages the reader to go back to the true source of information on the person. She writes, "At the end of each novella, we have included a brief study section. The ultimate authority on people of the Bible is the Bible itself. I encourage you to read it for greater understanding."

Having said all that, The Scribe is about the life of Silas. It's been quite some time since I read any of the other novellas about Biblical people, but my impression after finishing this one is that it was probably one of the most imaginative of her works. I would presume that the reason for this is because of how little information we actually have about Silas to begin with. She had more room for interpretation with him. This made it extremely interesting to read. The way she presents Silas is totally different  than how I've always thought of him, but the way she presents, Paul, Barnabas, and Peter are exactly in line with the way I've always thought of them. 

I don't want to go into too much detail about The Scribe because if you're thinking of reading it, I don't want to spoil it for you. I was surprised by many of the scenarios set forth in this book, and I wouldn't want to ruin those surprises for any potential readers out there. If you do decide to read any of these novellas, I would love to discuss them further with you. As a woman, I will say that I found the Lineage of Grace series more compelling than the Sons of Encouragement series. I think to an extent, this has to do with the fact that a woman can get inside a female character's mind more easily than she can get into a guy's head. I couldn't stop reading the Lineage of Grace series, whereas it took me nearly three years to read every book in the Sons of Encouragement series. Not because the books in the Sons of Encouragement series weren't good or easy to read (except Amos. Amos was hard to read. but that had more to do with the actual content---I'm getting off-topic...let's get back on track), but because when I finished one, I wasn't immediately compelled to start the next. I took breaks. I read other books in between. 

To sum it up, I would recommend The Scribe and the rest of the Sons of Encouragement or Lineage of Grace series as long as the reader keeps a proper perspective about the fictionality of these little novellas and understands the Scripture's ultimate authority on the lives of these people. If you do decide to read any of them, hit me up and let me know what you think.

Have you read any fictional accounts of Biblical people? What did you think of them? If you could take an in-depth look at any person of the Bible, who would it be and why?

Monday, September 7, 2015

Summing Up the Week...Photographically

Happy Labor Day! The day we celebrate work by not doing any. Ironic, isn't it? Anyway, I've been everywhere, man, and I thought I'd let you in on the fun with some photos. 

First off, any week where I get to see all three of my siblings is the best week. The only thing that could have made it better is if Cody had been with me and we had all been in the same place at the same time. But hey. I'll take what I can get.
9/4/2015 - NC
8/29/2015 - CO
9/5/2015 - NC

So on Saturday, August 29th, my Mom, Dad, and I flew out to Denver, Colorado to see my brother Reagan off on his Grand European Adventure. But we're not the kind to sit around in a hotel room and twiddle our thumbs so we hiked to the top of Pike's Peak.
Kidding! We rode the Cog Railway. It took about an hour and a half to get to the top (and come back down) and the views were awesome.
After we finished our Pike's Peak adventure, we decided to hit up Garden of the Gods. As you can see in the following few photos, Reagan and I were right at home there what with our super-human strength, incredible good looks, and our obvious superiority to the laws of the land.
After Garden of the Gods, we'd decided that was about enough for one day, ordered an inordinate amount of pizza (which we could not possibly have finished) and crashed.

The next day, Mom flew back home while Dad, Reagan, and I went to see The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (I wasn't overly impressed, but we had fun.) We ate more ridiculous amounts of food at the local Village Inn, and then it was time to drop the boy off so he could fly to Paris.
We're all wearing sunglasses because it was sunny and absolutely not because we're emotional wrecks when it comes to goodbyes or anything of that sort. Obviously.

Then Dad and I hit the road for our own Ultimate Roadtripping Adventure Across the United States. From Sunday around 3:30 PM to Tuesday around 1:30 PM, we drove from Denver, CO to Brevard, NC which makes for a grand total of approximately 1,517 miles with one majorly important stop.
Can you guess?
How about now?

That's right! We stopped at the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri. This has been on my Bucket List for a long time. That's me in the long-sleeve green shirt. Can you even see me? The arch is massive!

We took a 4 minute ride to the top in a space shuttle. Or at least that's what it seemed like. You got in this tiny, round, metal pod and prayed yourself the whole way up. I would not recommend this for anyone who is claustrophobic or has a fear of heights. But for the rest of you: put this on your bucket list. It was awesome. The view from 630 feet was amazing and the whole experience was a blast. Check that one off!

We made it to North Carolina where I spent the next couple days reading to my heart's content (three entire books and got started on a fourth--be checking back for some recaps!) until the rest of the family showed up (refer back to the pictures at the top of me with my other two siblings). 

The best part of my week though was definitely coming home yesterday to these two guys. I missed 'em something fierce, and I couldn't wait to get back to my little family.
To sum it up, we live in a beautiful country and my family is the best. The End.

What's something on your Bucket List? What's something you've done that I should add to mine? What's the best thing you've ever seen in the U S of A?

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Let's Bust a Recap

First of all, it's September, y'all. What?! Where did August go? Let's hope that September is a better blogging month because August only yielded a grand total of seven posts--three of which were dedicated to birthdays and my parents' anniversary. 

Second of all, today is your lucky day because you get, not just one, but two recaps. Are you so excited? Just pretend you are for my sake. 

First up: One More Wish by Robin Jones Gunn. Yes, it finally came and ahhh, the reunion was sweet. For any of you who are new to the blog and not familiar with my obsession affinity for anything written by Robin Jones Gunn, I have included a handy link here that will take you to all posts leading up to the arrival of my BFFs from Christy&Todd-land. 

If you are caught up on the aforementioned love, you may remember that the release date for the book was Saturday, August 15th, and I was anxiously patiently awaiting its arrival. It finally showed up in my mailbox at approximately 5:01 PM Monday evening, the 17th. (Not like I was pacing the street or stalking the mailman or anything.) I only read four chapters that night because Cody was off work that day and I'm a good wife and I have super-human self-control.

The next day however, Cody was working and I may or may not have spent the entire day on the couch reading every single word (sometimes multiple times--maybe someday I'll share a post about the insane way I read) while all the clean laundry sat completely unheeded all over our dining room table and the dirty dishes started taking over the house.

Totally worth it. It was awesome, as Doug would say (you'd have to read the books to understand), down to the very last word. There's really not much else I'm going to say about this one (hence why we're doing two recaps in one post) because if you're not invested in the series, you probably won't care or understand, and if you are, you might hate me for spoiling it. Let's just say that in this particular book, Christy and Todd are into their fourth year of marriage and everything that goes along with that.

And for any females reading who aren't into this series, get into it.

Next up: Just Let Me Preach: The Biography of Paul Tassell by Nathan O. Osborne III. This is a book my dad wrote about my mother's father.

You guys. First of all, if you've been reading this blog long enough or if you've known me for more than an hour, you'd have figured out by now that I am the cryin'-est woman you ever did see. Y'all, I will cry reading a cereal box. I'm not even kidding.

So hand me a book about my Grampa and what do you expect to happen? That's right. Waterworks for days.

From a completely unbiased point of view and after a fresh reading of this book, I have to say that the writing is straightforward and easy to read. The book moves through my grandfather's life and ministry smoothly. It doesn't overload you with information like some biographies have the tendency of doing (*cough*THEODORE ROOSEVELT*cough* still haven't finished it), and in fact, when I came to the end of each chapter, I was left wanting more details. Probably in part because of my personal attachment to Dr. Paul Tassell.

Sprinkled throughout the book are stories of just some of the numerous lives my Grampa affected with his powerful and uncompromising preaching of God's Word. Paul Tassell was a man who loved God wholeheartedly and had a gift for sharing His Word. I remember my Grampa as a man whose eyes were always twinkling, who smiled and laughed a lot, and who always had a joke for you on the tip of his tongue. He loved people, and people loved him. I would highly recommend this book to any Christian, especially any who are heading into the ministry as a vocation. You will be challenged and encouraged by reading it.

I am so humbled and grateful for the rich, Godly heritage I was born into and the legacy my grandfather left behind. I pray that the future generations will be able to look back and say that Dr. Tassell's children and grandchildren carried on that legacy with integrity and firmness of conviction.

I'm so glad I chose to read this book through again. It's been several years since I did, and I told my dad the other night that he should write more books about all my other grandparents for posterity's sake. I, for one, would love to have them.

What have you been reading lately?