Saturday, March 31, 2012

Q: The best part about being a teacher?

A. Spring break.  (At least during the springtime.)

Yes, the brat cat Calla is quite pleased I'll be home more to tend to her every beck and call.
Even though I only work two days at a school, to have those extra two days next week will be wonderful!  I think I may be overestimating just how much extra time I'll have, though, by the length of the list I've been making.  Still, it's fun to dream!

So, I'm hoping to tackle a DIY or two, possibly sew up something fun, share another song on my music blog, do a bit of spring cleaning and organizing, and, of course, read and drink lots of yummy hot drinks.

I have some dreaded grading and lesson-planning to do, but I'd love it if I could get most of that done this weekend.  We'll see.

You see how I may be reaching a little too high? :)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wednesday Woes

For the last week and a half, I have been sick, and for the past few days, I've been suffering from a sinus infection.  This is only the second sinus infection I have ever had in my life, and let me just say that I now have much more compassion for my poor hub who gets these multiple times a season.  Usually, I'd tell him to suck it up; it's just a stuffy nose, afterall.  Now I know.  Pain, tension, pressure, earache, headache - the whole phrase "sinus infection" just doesn't do it justice.  It needs something much grander in terribleness.  Sinulinfluenza might do.

The thing I hate the most about being sick is I don't feel well enough to get anything done or cross anything off of my list.  So, I decided to make myself a new list, just for this evening, so I don't feel like a complete failure.

1.  Write this blog post.  (Done.)
2.  Make a pot of tea. (Doing.)
3.  Discard my pile of used tissues.
4.  Read a little bit.
5.  Change into sweats.
6.  Eat Girl Scout cookies.
7.  Stretch.  Maybe.
8.  Drink two glasses of water.
9.  Write my monthly piano letter.
10. Pet Calla.

I will try to ignore the stack of papers to be graded, the unfinished lesson plans, and the untidy bathroom.  And maybe if I get a second wind later, I'll write a post for Whatcha Reading Wednesday, which I'm hoping to reinstate.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Books (or Risk, Part 2)

First, to sum up my thoughts on risk:

It seemed that the little idea of risk that entered my brain last week was going to keep on growing and become a giant thing by the weekend.  A group from our church went to be part of a conference in SoCal where we learned about embracing a people group.  Here's the two-cents version: There are 3800 unreached, unengaged people groups out there (no Christian exists among them, and, as far as we know, no evidence of any engagement exists, either).  There are tens of thousands of churches that could reach them, that could embrace them and give them the life and hope of Jesus Christ.  Our church is praying about how we may be involved, and it is overwhelming, exciting, and quite terrifying.  Talk about risk.

Second, I never told you what books I decided to read!  These are the decisions I've made, and then I have a list of books I am interested in but have not yet purchased.

I purchased Tolkein's The Silmarillion and T.H. White's The Once and Future King on my kindle.  I had tried to purchase a few others, but, alas, no kindle versions exist yet.  These books are The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley and Watership Down by Richard Adams.  These were all my safe decisions, I believe.  Tolkein's an obvious choice; White's and Bradley's books are apparently the best King Arthur stories; and Watership Down is pretty much a classic, although I've never read it.

Other books/authors I'm interested in are: Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake (this was called a response to Tolkein LOTR...don't like the sound of that, but I am intrigued); The Farseer by Robin Hobb; The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams (this is still iffy); The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe (a Catholic man whose religious beliefs apparently come through his writings); The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle; Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (more sci-fi than fantasy, but makes many top lists).

Then just today I found this list and was happy to see most of the books I'm interested in reading are there, plus a few more I should have thought of but didn't.  Of course, some books on the list would never make my top anything; Harry Potter isn't listed anywhere (Shock!  Maybe because it's considered Young Adult?  That must be the explanation...); and sadly C.S. Lewis' Space Trilogy barely made it at #100; nonetheless, I find that this will be helpful in my pursuit of good fantasy (and sci-fi, as it seems they're lumped together) fiction.

If you've read any of the books, I'd love to hear your thoughts.  Or if you get a chance to venture over to that list and find another title I need to read ASAP, let me know.  For now, I am thoroughly enjoying my safe pick of The Silmarillion and looking forward to taking some bigger risks in the future.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


How I spent the last five hours...

I think this may have to be a new blog series for me.  You know how some people wear those pedometers that keep track of each step they take?  At the end of a day they are able to see their progress or sad slug state.  I need something like that, but instead of monitoring steps, it monitors how I spend my time.  I could look at it each night and say, Oh, fantastic, three hours was spent watching reruns on Netflix again; or Seriously, only fifteen minutes of exercising? (It felt much longer!); or One hour on Pinterest--not that bad today.  I feel it would be quite motivating.

Today, such a device would have logged hours and hours of looking online simply to find a few new books I want to read.  Yes, I was reading about reading.  I read blogs about books, book reviews, author websites, debates on fantasy literature, professor's sites, Amazon lists.  My purpose was two-fold: find another fantasy series that might hold a candle to LOTR and HP; and find a blogger who has my taste in reading.  This has worked well with cooking.  I know now not to waste my time with people's random recipes.  I stick to America's Test Kitchen or Alton Brown for the most part because I like the recipes they cook.  Surely there must be a similar site out there for books?

I can't say I struck gold.  I found countless reading blogs (I didn't even know these existed) -- people who are voracious readers and describe their current reads.  I found book review blogs, but I had a few quick litmus tests to see if I could agree with their assessments.  In my hunt for books with Christian themes, I found conservative anti-Harry Potter sites and some interesting pop-culture and Christ sites and everything in between.  As far as fantasy suggestions, it seems this genre can be a bit icky, at least in its modern state, or immature copies of the greats that have already been done.

Stephanie (who is just reading like crazy this year) said to me recently, as I was explaining my ongoing dilemma about what to read next, Just go for it.  Pick a book and read it!

Why can't it be that easy for me?  She's gone for it and has liked a good amount of the books she's read, many of which appeared over and over as I "researched."  Then finally, it dawned on me.  She's liked most of what she's read, but not all.  And there was the problem:

Reading involves risk.

I want to find a person out there who reads just like me and likes just what I like because then I won't have to read something and be disappointed, disgusted, or angry by the end of it.  I can know I'm investing in something that is good, something that is worth a place on my bookshelf, and I won't be the one wasting any time and energy only to be abandoned by the author in the end.

I realized that this is cowardly, though.  Sure, it's helpful to read a few reviews and know a bit of what you're getting into before you do, but at some point, I'll have to take a chance.  Someone had to take a chance on every good novel ever written, right?  Even after editors and publishers decided a book was good enough for a shelf, someone still had to pick it up and give it a try.

In fact, couldn't we say that all good things involve risk?  Even in our Bible study this past week, we spoke of the risk (okay...the word is actually cost) of following Christ.  It's risky not because He ever would let us down but because we are deciding to do something and be people who are counter-cultural, different, and--to some--even threatening.  It's risky not because He will abandon us but because He may lead us into things that are uncomfortable and painful.

And then I thought of my mom who this week asked us about our next steps in having a family, and I shared our hopes of having an IVF in the next year.  She asked, "But what about the disappointment?  What if it doesn't work, and you have to go through all of that?"  I felt myself freeze with anxiety just at the thought.

Risk, right?  But a risk worth taking, I hope.

So, my search for a good book to read went a bit deeper than I had planned.  That's what I love about Christ.  He is everywhere, and His spirit is constantly guiding me, even when I think all I'm doing is finding my next read.

By the way, I did buy a couple of books, but if you've read all the way to the end of this post, you deserve to be released.  I'll share more of my book decisions later.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Gusts of Green

Today is one wet and blustery St. Patrick's Day.  My husband took advantage of the neat weather (and recent yard work) to snap these lovely photos.  Hope you have a happy green day!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday Faves - Theme Vanity

Thanks to some recent great suggestions and a day of pampering for my sister's wedding, I have a few fantastic faves to share!

1.  Organix Renewing Moroccan Argan Oil Shampoo ($7) - I picked this up on a recent shopping trip with Jessica.  Jessica has big hair.  (That is important to understand.)  I don't have big hair like Jessica, but it can be annoyingly wavy and thick at times, so I decided I could trust her opinion.  I love this shampoo!  It's in between the super pricey brands and the cheapo-depo brands.  It has a great scent, which I have been trying to "place" since I bought the shampoo over a month ago.  I know it from somewhere, and it's bringing me back to high school days, but I can't make the connection.  By the way, even though "oil" is in the name, it really doesn't greasy up your hair.  It makes it smooth but still moveable.  I tried to take a good awesome hair picture, but they were ridiculous.  So I chose the most ridiculous.  What, this doesn't make you want to try the shampoo??

2.  Maybelline One by Volume Express in Very Black ($6) - I think for those of us who started wearing make-up in the 90's, Maybelline mascara has a special place in our hearts and make-up bags.  This is that little square and pink mascara tube pumped up!  I know I believe in buying quality make-up whenever possible, but for me, mascara has to be tossed so quickly, it's hard to pay Sephora prices.  This mascara makes my eyelashes thick, long, and black--just what I want!
Tightline Cake Eye Liner
3.  Laura Mercier Tightline Cake Eyeliner in Ebony Black ($22) and Flat Eyeliner Brush ($25) - Yes I know, for those prices you can buy a pair of shoes or two, but seriously, this eye liner is the BEST and will last me the rest of my life.  The eyeliner was a gift from my sister after she and I had our make-up done for her wedding.  I bought the eyeliner brush so I could surely replicate the look.  I couldn't, of course, replicate it entirely, but it's still pretty awesome.  The eyeliner is a little pot of make-up which you activate with water, and this stuff stays on.
Gel Lip Colour

4.  Laura Mercier Gel Lip Colour in Rosette ($22) - Also a purchase from our make-up day, this lipstick is amazing!  And the exact type and color was featured in Lucky Magazine that very month!  (Click on the link to see for yourself!)

Monday, March 12, 2012

San Diego...short but sweet!

On Thursday Rob and I headed to lovely San Diego to visit John and Kelly and see their new home!  It was short but sweet as we arrived quite late Thursday night, chatted a bit (and opened a belated birthday gift!), then headed to bed.  Friday Kelly and I ditched the kids and boys so she could get her hair cut, then again so we could peruse and drool over items at Sur La Table.  My gifts, incidentally, were from that very store - a super cool cookie press and two fabulous mugs which might just be the best mugs ever.  She and I made a few other little purchases even though we would have loved to buy at least one of everything.

While home, our time was spent drinking coffee, eating meals, and, of course, playing with the kiddos.  They're both getting so big.  Anna is such a little girl, dancing around and showing off all her skills.  "Candace, see" was the phrases of the weekend and is translated as follows: "Candace, stop whatever you are doing and look at this awesome thing I am doing!  It is for your own good!"  It was pretty cute.  John pointed out that Anna thinks of me and Rob as her friends, so it's heartwarming that she so willingly wants us to be part of her life.  Nicholas, of course, is a bit little to care much about us, but it was great getting to see his beautiful face in person.

Saturday was going home day, but before we did we went to La Jolla to see the seals and eat lunch.  Well...lunch didn't happen, because sometimes that's how it goes, but we still had a great time in fabulous weather!  And the pictures alone were worth the trip.  A quick change of plans and we had ourselves delicious burritos for lunch, soon followed by sad good-byes and promises to see each other very soon.

Thanks, deG's, for another lovely stay.  Congratulations on your new home!  Looking forward to many more visits there!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Happy (late) birthday, Nathan!

Just a few pictures of our lovely day from Jeff, Deb, and Nathan.  Last night was a special treat as we celebrated a late birthday for Nathan.  I'm pretty sure I've never seen a kid more excited about his chocolate cake (from Auntie Candace) and present (from Uncle Robby, since he carried it in).  It was a lot of fun and makes me wish California and Ohio were a bit closer.  Oh, and if you're wondering what to get a four-year-old boy, a Cars lego set is perfect!

Friday, March 2, 2012

R&C Wedding, Part 2

Saturday morning, we were up bright and early to make our way back to Visalia for Part 2 of the wedding celebration.  After driving and setting up (with as little stress as possible thanks to Chelsea, our fabulous coordinator!), we soon found ourselves once again getting into our wedding get-up.  

The reception was at the Marriott in Visalia, so while we were fixing our make-up and hair upstairs in a room, guests were starting to gather.  Everything looked so lovely with white flowers (I'll be sharing that DIY project sometime in the future) and navy blue touches.  Thanks to Stephanie G for taking such wonderful photos of the evening!

As soon as the guests were seated, Chelsea and Roger entered the room and walked to the dance stage for their first dance.  I serenaded them :)  I'll have to share more about their song later, but it was such a special moment watching my sister and new brother dance together with all of our friends and family there.  Amazing.

Soon we were seated and eating away.  The food was good and people seemed to be enjoying themselves.  After a bit of toasting and singing, it was time to dance!

It was quite a late night, and no kidding, I was still recovering from our busy weekend days and days later.  But what a wonderful time we all had, and now, we get to enjoy our life with the happy Mr. and Mrs. Knoren.