Saturday, December 29, 2007

Will you have a happy or crappy 2008?

Here's a suggestion for all of my Loyal Readers. It actually came recommended to me from a friend of mine. In the new year, why not start a "Happiest/Crappiest" Journal?

Each night before my friend ends her day, she records her happiest moment from the day, and her crappiest moment. Happiest because she wants to focus on the good, and crappiest because she wants to keep things in perspective and realize how good her life really is.

Don't we all have that problem, of being in the heat of the moment and blowing our momentary trivial problems way out of proportion? Then when you look back on it later, it really wasn't that big of a deal. I know I have a tendency to do that.

For example, the happiest thing that happened to me today, was I got to spend a relaxing day at home with my husband. No "to do" list. No errands to run. No obligations except to relax. The crappiest thing that happened...I woke up with a sinus headache. Nothing that couldn't be remedied with a little Advil. All in all, it was a good day.

May you all have the happiest of new years and may 2008 hold an abundance of blessings for you! Drop me a comment and let me know what your happiest/crappiest moments of the day were, or let me know if you already keep a journal (prayer journal, gratitude journal, diary, etc.) What is it like to go back and read over things from a few months ago? What do you learn?

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

O God our loving Father,
help us rightly to remember the birth of Jesus,
that we may share in the song of the angels,
the gladness of the shepherds,
and the worship of the wise men.
May Christmas morning make us happy to be Thy children
and Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts,
forgiving and forgiven,
for Jesus' sake, Amen.

-- Robert Louis Stevenson

Friday, December 14, 2007

Book Bites

It’s that time again! Time for me to give you my mini-reviews or "book bites" of the latest batch of books I’ve read. I’ve been reading from a strange assortment of genres over the last couple of weeks, so there should be something here for everyone.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman (5 Stars)

Remember the childhood days of being painfully bored and cooped up at home during the summer break? Ever wished you could get away to someplace where everyone understood you? Ever got so annoyed with your parents you wish you had different ones? The main character, Coraline, wishes those very things and we get to see what happens when they all come true. A false door in her new house opens up onto an parallel world, where everything is just perfect…too perfect. The story is equal parts fairy tale and horror, with a dash of “Alice in Wonderland” thrown in for good measure. I loved it and devoured every single word. It’s a haunting story and if you read it, I guarantee, you will never look at buttons the same way, ever again.

The Three Signs of a Miserable Job (A Fable for Managers and Their Employees) by Patrick Lencioni (5 Stars)

I’m not sure how to classify this book. It’s an educational, business/career advice type book, but the majority of the book is actually a parable that Lencioni uses to teach you his theory about what makes a job situation rewarding or miserable. The three signs of a miserable job don’t have anything to do with the actual tasks you perform. They are anonymity, irrelevance and immeasurement. His theory seems like basic common sense, yet at the same time it is so revolutionary because no one does it. It was a quick, fun read and completely changed how I view my job, and how I will examine potential jobs in the future.

If You Can’t Lose It, Decorate It by Anita Renfroe (2 Stars)

God bless Anita Renfroe. I really like her stand-up. (Renfroe is a Christian comedienne, known on YouTube for her “Mom’s Overture”, sung to the tune of the William Tell Overture.) She’s hilarious, but reading a joke is not the same as someone telling you a joke. It leaves something to be desired. The theme of this book is the serenity prayer: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference. In other words, if you can’t lose it (change it), decorate it (change your attitude towards it). It’s a nice idea, but she doesn’t delve very deep into it, but then again I think it is supposed to be a light, encouraging read, so I shouldn’t have been expecting a heavy spiritual dissertation. I tried to take it for what it was, but ended up just wanting something more substantial. Then, to make matters worse, I actually got offended, when she disdainfully ridiculed the Christian financial advisors and what they suggest you do to manage your money and get out of debt. Speaking as someone who has gone through one of these courses and found life-changing freedom from debt, it really rubbed me the wrong way. In short – skip the book, see her stand-up show instead.

The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite, written by Gerard Way, illustrated by Gabriel Ba, colored by Dave Stewart, cover art by James Jean (5 Stars)

If you read that title and wondered why so many people are listed as contributors, then you are more than likely not a comic book geek. If you are a comic book geek, then you probably recognized a couple of those award-winning names. Yeah, this is a comic book series, but reading it is just as rewarding as reading any other form of literature, so I’m including it in my “book bites”. However, I’m not going to do a full review of this one just yet, because the series isn’t complete. We’re on the 3rd installation of a 6-part series. I just wanted to explain why it’s already getting a “5-star” rating (because I love the story so far) but won’t be getting a full review until later, when the full arc of the story is complete.

I can’t wait to see how the story ends and I absolutely love that feeling of anticipation. It’s what good fiction is all about.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Tag, You're It! - Christmas Questionaire

I suppose rules were made to be broken...I've already missed several of my Tue./Thur. posting deadlines and now that I'm finally posting - it's yet another list. But what's a girl to do? I got tagged by Raven to reply to this Christmas questionaire, so here we go...

1. What kind of tree do you have?
We have an artificial, pre-lit tree with multi-colored lights and a white angel on top that is lit up from within with lights. The ornaments are not matching but are a wide assortment, from my childhood ornaments, to ornaments people gave us the first year we were married, to one that celebrated our first home. The ornaments are a of sort of history not only to our life so far, but also of our interests and hobbies. We have ornaments of fairies, angels, suns, moons and stars, (me) and penguins, Green Bay Packers and the Beatles (my husband). I absolutely LOVE all things Victorian, so I have a lot of Victorian ornaments and decorations. Sounds like a strange mix, but it works. Our tree has character.
2. What is your favorite Christmas movie?
I like Charles Dickens' "Christmas Carol" and "A Charlie Brown Christmas" but how can you pick just one? All Christmas movies are great. Well...almost all of them... There's one movie that really really annoys me, but I'm embarrassed to admit it and end up looking like a complete Scrooge...
3. What is your favorite Christmas holiday food?
Again, how can you pick just one? Homemade chocolate pixie cookies, homemade egg nog with fresh nutmeg sprinkled on it, lefse with a little butter and sugar, and of course, Christmas dinner with all the fixings!
4. Do you use wrapping paper or gift bags?
I'm old fashioned and love a pretty wrapped gift, so I wrap as many gifts as I can. If it's an odd shaped item, then it's a gift bag. I actually don't care for gift bags because for as many as I give away, I get twice as many more, and I don't use them as much as I should, and don't have the heart to throw them away, so they just start piling up. I have this big annoying collection of them in my closet. I feel like I'm being overrun by gift bags!
5. Do you have a nativity scene in your house?
Yes. It's one of my favorite things to set out. I guess you would call my set "traditional" in style, but I love looking at all the different themed ones in the stores. I know some people don't add the baby Jesus to the display until Christmas day, but I leave him out the whole time the scene is up. It feels weird to have those little figurines all staring down at the same empty spot for the whole month.
6. What is your favorite Christmas song?
These questions are impossible to answer! How do you pick just one? I guess, for a traditional carol or hymn, I like "O Come All Ye Faithful" and I like "Carol of the Bells". For a more modern song, my favorite one is "I Pray On Christmas" by Harry Connick Jr. My absolute favorite Christmas CD is "When My Heart Finds Christmas" by Harry Connick Jr. I also like all the old traditional hymns, when they are done with a full choir and organ. Oh, and I love all the classical pieces like the "Nutcracker" and Handel's "Messiah".
7. What is the most memorable gift you ever received as a child?
We were on vacation in New York, and I saw a very expensive Lee Middleton doll in this toy shop. I fell in love with it and was so sad to leave without it. Unbeknownst to me, my parents bought it and arranged to have it shipped back. Several months later, Christmas rolls around, I open this box and - wow - there it was! I was so incredibly surprised and so happy. I also have fond memories of several Christmas, with the "garage gift." I'll explain. When we were all done opening all the gifts under the tree, my mom would turn to my dad and say, "Okay, Eugene, I think there's one more thing..." and my dad would disappear into the garage and return with the "big" gift that had been stashed there, such as a bike, or a TV for my room. That was always a surprise too.
8. What was the worst gift you ever received?
A strange polyester track suit... (thanks mom - what WERE you thinking?)
9. Most annoying thing about this time of year?
The traffic. Ugh. Everyone is so stressed out, trying to get all of their errands done, trying to make it to the Christmas party on time, whatever. The driving skills just disappear. And don't even get me started on parking lots...
10. Favorite thing about this time of year?
I think my favorite thing is that it is a time of reflection - to really ponder the miracle of Christ coming to earth, as well as reflecting back on the past year, remembering the history and traditions of your family, and thinking about all those intangible gifts - like friendship - that make me feel so blessed.
So there it is. Hope you enjoyed it! Leave me a comment with your answers, unless you're Laura or Elizabeth - because I'm tagging your blogs next! Tag - you're it!