Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Book Review: The Kite Runner

The Kite RunnerThe Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is most likely the saddest book I've ever read. There are only tiny, fleeting moments of happiness that are quickly followed with depression. At times, it seemed like the book was just one terrible thing happening after another, and there wasn't enough joy to keep me from falling down a slide of slippery sadness. That being said, it is still an incredible story, and it is a sharp slap in my optimistic face that not every tale has the picture-perfect happy ending.

I actually listened to this novel as an audio-book, which is usually difficult for me since I am a very visual learner. However, this story is so smooth, it wasn't hard for me to follow along. But what was hard for me was that I was not able to quickly skim over disturbing details - I had to hear every. single. word. And, to warn you, violence, bad language, and sexual abuse abounds - most of that being the pivotal point of the whole story.

For the most part, this novel is extremely intense. I have to give it 4 stars because I did find myself a tad bored during a few stretches.

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Friday, August 26, 2011

My Life as a Mormon: A New Series

The other day I was reading a young mother's blog -
I assumed she was Mormon, though she never outwardly stated she was.
She posed a question to her many readers -
"What would you guys like me to write about on this blog of mine?"
Most gave casual answers, but one woman's shook me up.
"I'd like to know more about your religion. It sounds interesting."

And then I remembered, 
And I haven't done too good of a job of keeping at that.

I've decided that once a week or so, 
I'm going to highlight an aspect of the Mormon culture, beliefs, doctrine, or history.
I really don't know who all reads my blog, and if they know enough, the right things, or anything at all about what it means to be a Latter-day Saint. I have many friends and family members who are not the same religion as me, and I think they might appreciate learning more about us Mormons.

Mostly, this "series" of posts will be my personal testimony of different aspects of Mormon doctrine, backed up with scriptures and/or teachings from prophets.

Comments will be welcome -
But please no hateful, critical, nasty, rude, or anything of that manner
If ever I'm wrong about something, I'll appreciate 
helpful, respectful, and tactful feedback.
If ever I say something that intrigues you, or you want to know more about,
I'll love thoughtful, honest inquisitions.

With all that being said....
where do I start?
For those of you who are Mormon, what are some good topics to discuss with the world wide web, or a single person, wanting to know the truth?

For those of you who are not Mormon, what do you want to know about us and our religion?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


I'm falling in love.
...with Fall.

These days,
I can tell when we've accidentally slept in because "it is muuuch too light out for it to be 6am"

The weather is getting cooler.
Leaves are dancing across the street, the sidewalk, the yard, my heart.

The beginning of Fall has never been so absolutely beautiful in my life.

Change has never been so obviously stunning and welcome and magnificent. 

In Hawaii, the only thing that marked the passage of time was the starting and ending of a semester or a term.
Nothing internal or external told me that it was Halloween or Christmas or my birthday - 
Doing the same thing everyday - with the same weather everyday - 
made me feel like I was stuck in Groundhog Day.

Now, I still have my daily routine:
Drop off
Pick up
and it starts over...

But I still feel like I'm actually getting somewhere - actually progressing in this thing called life,
because all around me I feel the effects of the world turning. 
The world turns ---
isn't that incredible?

And snow will fall and animals will sleep and Christmas cheer will ring and trees will be bare ---
but Spring! Spring will come.
and it's all just so glorious.
and I will try to remember that when I'm fweezing my ninnies off in the middle of February.

Cell phone photos that show the excitement of my life.

I'll start with the MOST exciting. 
I got these boots for NINETY-NINE CENTS.

I hang out with boys too much.
I need more girls in my life.

He's lucky he's cute.

Sometimes we go swimming. That's a lot of work.

Here's me with chicken pox.

End of story.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Book Review: What Happened to Goodbye

What Happened to GoodbyeWhat Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm a big Sarah Dessen fan, and I was pretty excited for this one. And it did live up to most of its expectations. The whole time I was reading it, I was planning on giving it 5 stars! But, something shifted in the last 10-20 pages. Maybe it was the tone, or the mood, or I just plain didn't like the outcome. I had this idea in my mind of how it should end and when it didn't mesh with what actually happened, I kind of closed the book a little disappointed. How sad! To love a book all the way up to the end!

This one hit very near home for me on several different levels - parents divorce, finding yourself, pretending to be someone you're not, living with different parents, etc. I was quite emotional through one part of it - it was kind of therapeutic for me, actually.

For someone just getting into Dessen novels, I would totally recommend reading them in the order that she wrote them. That's pretty much what I have done and its a great way to really get a feel for her. Will always love her, and most likely will reread all of her books one day.

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sunday Lists

I LOVE keeping lists. I find random lists in random places of random things - around my house, in the car, in my purse, in the bathroom, on my phone, on word documents, in my emails sent to myself. Yeah, it's that bad. Sometimes I make lists of all the lists I have. And they're not even like, lists of things to do (at least, not always). Here's some of the lists I've got going on right now:

Guilty Pleasures:
-ABC's Wipeout. Whenever Adam or I are having a really crappy day, all the other one has to say is: It's that time, America!
- Stalking baby/mama blogs (such as this one and this one) (Thanks Heather...)
- Adam's chocolate peanut butter shakes. I could have one everyday of my life and be fat, but happy.

I have irrational fears of:
- Not flushing the toilet. Whenever anyone asks if they can use my bathroom, or go into the bathroom right after me, I have this panic attack that I forgot to flush the toilet and they are going to be sooo grossed out by me. Nobody's ever said anything, though....
- My alarm clock not going off. I feel like I'm not the only one with this one. Who else wakes up 5 billion times in the middle of the night to check their clock when they have something important to be at the next morning? One time, a friend's mother (who is very spiritual) told me she just prays to be woken up at a certain time and she doesn't even need an alarm clock! So I tried it that night --- yeah, didn't work. Like, at all. I must not have enough faith yet!
- Something hiding under the bed. Especially at my Dad's house, which is legit haunted. I worry for my ankles - like they are going to get grabbed if I stand too long next to the bed. So I usually jump onto my bed from a far distance, or scurry over there quick.
-Parenting. Either I'll be really bad at it or really bored with it. That's what I fear anyway, though they both are probably far from the truth.

I reallllllly should:
-Wear more deodorant. I have never stunk this bad and this often as I have since moving to Maryland. Like, wayyy worse than Hawaii.
-Write a novel. Yeah, slowly working on that one.
-Be more observant of what goes in Kaleo's mouth (ie, no more dryer sheets he has to puke up in order to not choke himself to death, puzzle pieces, onions, or Adam's toxic heatsink compound for his computer gadgets. It's a miracle this dog is still alive)

I'll never get sick of:
-Alanis Morisette. When people (as in, two) tell me I sound like her when I sing, I float around on cloud 9, belting out Hands in my Pockets for the next week. But really, my two favorite songs in the entire world? The lyrics of both are probably the deepest thoughts/desires of every woman in the world.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Oh Life! Can you blame me for making a scene?

Don’t take it personal, they said;
but I did, I took it all quite personal—
the breeze and the river and the color of the fields;
the price of grapefruit and stamps,
the wet hair of women in the rain—
And I cursed what hurt me and I praised what gave me joy,
the most simple-minded of possible responses.

The government reminded me of my father, with its deafness and its laws,
and the weather reminded me of my mom, with her tropical squalls.
Enjoy it while you can, they said of Happiness
Think first, they said of Talk
Get over it, they said at the School of Broken Hearts

but I couldn’t and I didn’t and I don’t believe in the clean break;
I believe in the compound fracture served with a sauce of dirty regret,
I believe in saying it all and taking it all back
and saying it again for good measure while the air fills up with I’m Sorries
like wheeling birds and the trees look seasick in the wind.

Oh life! Can you blame me for making a scene? 
You were that yellow caboose, the moon disappearing over a ridge of cloud.
I was the dog, chained in some fool’s backyard;
barking and barking: trying to convince everything else to take it personal too.

-Tony Hoagland

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Movie Review: The Adjustment Bureau

I love movies.
I am such an introvert - I spend my nights putting puzzles together and watching movies or the office. And I'm so very content with that.
But sometimes I don't know what movie to watch, and that continues to be a real struggle of mine. If you're an avid movie-watcher like me, join me in this new quest to document all movies bad, good, odd, funny, romantic, or crazy.

I'm not going to backtrack much, because I really hate backtracking, so unless I get really bored, I will just review recent movies watched.

Last night we watched The Adjustment Bureau with Matt Damon and Emily Blunt. I'm not sure I'm a fan of Emily (tho always love Matt). I don't think she's that nice to look at and shallow or not, it does make a difference when movies are entirely a visual experience. The movie was not at all what I was expecting. Some review said it was about spies, so I was picturing the usual Matt Damon movie -- which it most def was not. The movie was confusing in some parts and laughably corny in others. Not my favorite Matt Damon movie.
I give it 2.5 stars out of 5 -- I at least was engaged enough to finish the thing, but wouldn't have been disappointed not even starting it to begin with.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Book Review: For Women Only

For Women Only: What You Need to Know about the Inner Lives of MenFor Women Only: What You Need to Know about the Inner Lives of Men by Shaunti Feldhahn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I got this book for my wedding almost two years ago (and Adam the "male" counterpart), and I'm only just now reading it. I feel like since we've been out of college and in the "real" world, our stresses and experiences and situations have a been a bit more "real" and "typical" marriage ones. So I thought I would pull this book down and see how the "experts" handle men.
Turns out, the experts were men - real men surveyed and interviewed by this woman - who is not a psychologist or relationship counselor, but a newspaper columnist.
Also turns out, she is writing from a Christian viewpoint, so it's not a worldly approach to marriage, either.

I enjoyed the read - if only for pleasant, non-confrontational reminders of how I should be treating my husband - simply because he is not just Adam, he is a man and his mind ticks in certain ways. That being said, I felt a lot of it was just that - Reminders of things I already knew. I didn't learn too much new or astounding information - but I can see why some women would. Some women probably need this book more than others, and you won't know if you're one of them until you read it. It's worth the effort, at least

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The truth about cats and dogs

As most of you know, we got a dog. I have always grown up with dogs in the house, and so I had been missing their company since I went away to college. I'd been asking Adam for a pup for awhile, and made him promise me we could get one once we moved out of our college apartments.  

Having Kaleo has been a joy, really -- I know sometimes I make it sound like we don't like him, but really, we do. We have just learned a LOT along the way.

You have to constantly watch them, or keep them in a crate. We got Kaleo when he was 5 months old, so he was already crate trained (but not quite house trained. There's a big difference). But still, there is so much work that goes into a dog. I've realized when you're getting a dog, and mom and dad aren't there to help you, it's pretty much like throwing a panting, shaggy two year old in your face. You have to teach them where and when to poo and pee, not to eat every single item that lands on the floor or chew on the floorboards, our clothes, or the carpet. 

They require a lot of exercise. And, when you get a dog, you're not just getting a living, breathing, pooping, drinking creature - you're getting a running partner. Even if you don't run - you better start. 
Of course, I started doing my research on dogs, Shelties, and dog training after we got Kaleo, when I realized I had no idea what I was doing. It was then that I learned dogs need like, an hour of exercise everyday! This means I have to get up early and walk him for a half hour before I leave the house, and another half hour when we get home. I honestly do enjoy this time with Kaleo and being outside - something I wouldn't normally do if it weren't for him, but if you're not anticipating walking or exercising with your dog, you better think twice before getting a puppy! A tired dog is a happy dog --- I can tell when I've been slacking in walking with him - we come home to plastic bags ripped up and all over the floor, a tomato plant completely eaten - with only dirt left to prove it once existed, and the corners of the cupboards gnawed off. But when I do walk him, he just sleeps during the day. A much better greeting when I get home.

Dogs are expensive. We pay an extra monthly fee to have him in our apartment, we buy big bags of dog food to keep him healthy, we payed for obedience classes so he would be a polite pooch, we shoved handfuls of cash into the vets face to get shots, we pay for anti-flea and tick stuff, as well as a once-a-month heartworm prevention. It's no wonder we just give him empty milk jugs and soda bottles for toys - there's no money left to buy him new ones!

Training them is a royal pain the butt. If you ever stop being consistent in your expectations of them - say you let them in the bedroom just once when you normally don't - from then on out, they will assume that bedroom is theirs for the strolling. If you say a command you have to mean it, and if you mean it, you must enforce it (yes I've been watching a bit too much Ceasar). Meh - we're also a bit stricter than other dog parents, I bet.

Being around other people's dogs gives you a more honest picture of your own dog. We thought we were being horrible trainers/owners, and that our dog was just a pyscho and would never learn and we were just in over our heads. Then we went to obedience class and met all these other, much more pyscho dogs, and then ours didn't look so bad afterall. And we realized we were just being really hard on ourselves, and expecting too much out of our 7 month old pup. He's still just a kid - we've cut him, and ourselves, some slack since then.

Here is Adam beginning the "4 Corners" competition.

We graduated from Beginner's class and won 2nd place in the competition!

This is Kaleo with his best bud Sam, our neighbor's dog. 
He stayed with us for 5 days, and it taught us one more lesson:
If you're gonna get one dog, 
you're better off getting two - 
they wear each other out and it actually lessens your own work load!

So the moral of the story?
We love our dog. 
He's a lot of work, but he's worth it.
He has added another dimension of love to our relationship
(I know, I know, just wait till we have kids...)

If you don't have the time and/or energy ---
get a cat.
They're just as cute, even more cuddly, and a whole heck of a lot easier.