Tuesday, January 17, 2017

My Favorite Characters from Books and Movies (List 2)

I think I've made it clear in the past that I am a list maker.  I have a running to-do list that I update every day.  I make lists of places I want to go, things I want to do, books I want to read.  Lots of lists.  So when I heard about the 52 Lists Project, I was IN.  I used some Christmas money to buy myself the journal, and I've already started using it.  I LOVE it.  It's a great Sunday activity, a way to give myself time to reflect and ponder. 

I also decided after flipping through the book that it would be fun to share it on the blog.  A weekly prompt, all in one little book.  What a perfect way to write more here.

List 1 was about my goals and dreams for this year.  I already posted a bit about that.  On to list 2.

"List your favorite characters from books, movies, etc"

  • Robert E. Lee (The Killer Angels)
  • Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain (The Killer Angels)
  • Marie-Laure LeBlanc (All the Light We Cannot See)
  • Neville Longbottom (the Harry Potter series)
  • Elinor Dashwood (Sense and Sensibility)
  • Konstantin Levin (Anna Karenina)
  • Moana ("Moana")
  • Belle ("Beauty and the Beast)
  • Corrie ten Boom (The Hiding Place)
  • Lucy Pevensie (The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe
  • Jean Valjean (Les Miserables
  • Esther (from the Bible)
  • Jo March (Little Women)
  • Harriet Hamsterbone (the Hamster Princess series)
  • Nicolas (Le Petit Nicolas)
  • Matilda (Matilda)
  • Despereaux (The Tale of Despereaux)
  • Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables)
  • Marry Lennox (The Secret Garden)
  • Juli Baker (Flipped)
  • Calvin (Calvin and Hobbes)
This list was surprisingly hard to come up with.  First you have the problem of so many beloved books.  It's hard to keep track of all the books I've read and loved.  And then you have the added difficultly of finding a character that you love.  I could think of a number of beloved books wherein the characters weren't really people I admired or wanted to be like. 

Notice, more than half of these characters are women.  I love to read a book (or see a movie) with a strong female role.  I like girls with pluck, with gumption.  Girls who are unafraid to stand for what's right, or do hard things to help other people.  I find that particularly telling when I don't feel that way about myself.  Gumption and pluck are two words that would never be used to describe me.  I'm not very brave, and I don't like to be a leader.  Whenever I'm asked to take on a leadership role, my first thought is, "Well that's a terrible idea."  I much prefer to be the person smoothing things over, making everyone happy, from my nice comfy seat in the crowd.  Maybe I wish I was more like these characters I love so well.  Maybe I should work a little harder to be a little braver.

Or maybe I'll just read about it from the comfort of my bed.  I am in hibernation mode, after all.  That's what January is for, isn't it?

Who are some of your favorite characters?  Have you ever wished to be more brave?  Have you ever found a way to actually BE more brave?

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

2017 Resolutions

If you know me, you probably know that I love a good list.  There are practical lists (grocery lists, to-do lists) and there are fun lists (favorite books, best vacations, top 10 anything).  I feel like New Years Resolutions combine the two.  It's a to-do list, a list of goals you want to accomplish, but it's also a list of your hopes for the coming year, what you want to happen in life.  I think that's why I love resolutions so much - it's double the listy goodness.

I already blogged about how 2016 went, so let's take a look at how I hope 2017 will go.

Once again, I need to chase down the last items on my 30 by 30 list.  Clark reminds me that it's almost time for 40 by 40, so I've got to get on it.  The last three items are find a family name to take to the temple, learn to play all the hymns on the organ, and learn to play a new song on the guitar.  The last two are completely attainable if I put in the time.  That first one...I'm at a loss.  Going to need to call in some help on that one.

I ended my walking goal last year with a "sort of complete."  I want to make that a fully complete.  I will walk 500 miles.

Reading 12,000 pages was not too great of a challenge.  I'm upping it to 14,000. 

I want to pray more often and more fervently.  Finding quiet, uninterrupted time to pray has been a challenge for me lately, but I need to make the time.  I need more prayer in my life.

We recently finished reading the Gospels as a family, and starting reading the Book of Mormon again.  I hope we can finish it by the end of the year.

And speaking of my family, I hope to spend more one-on-one time with each of my children.  We only have 2, so it's easy to think they get all the attention they need.   But there is something special about one-on-one time with a parent that every child craves.  And hopefully it'll keep them talking when we hit the tween years.

Here's the concise list:
  • Find a family name to take to the temple.
  • Learn to play all the hymns on the organ. 
  • Learn to play a new song on the guitar.
  • Walk 500 miles.  This time, for real.
  • Read 14,000 pages.  (Yikes, that's a big number.)
  • Pray more often and more fervently.
  • Read the Book of Mormon as a family
  • Go on dates with each of the girls.
Happy New Year!

Monday, January 02, 2017

2016 Wrap Up

We did it guys!  We made it through that beast of a year, 2016! 

I know everyone has labeled 2016 as a horrible year, but on a personal level, it wasn't so bad for me.  We made more than one of my life-long dreams come true this summer by heading to Washington, DC.  We saw Gettysburg, Arlington, panda bears, all the monuments, museums, the Shenandoah river, the Appalachian Trail, and a couple of black bears (could have done without the black bears, though they did make it memorable).  Julia started up the violin and Irish dance (giving me much delight).  Ella finally realized her destiny by starting ballet and tap.  The transition to 3rd and 1st grade has been the easiest transition on record.  We squeezed in a fall trip to Utah, where we got to attend a baby blessing and take Julia to the women's session of General Conference.  Everyone was relatively happy, and relatively healthy.  It's been a good year.

I revisited my 2016 resolutions and discovered that I actually achieved quite a lot.  Here's the rundown:

  • Read Jesus the Christ.  
I DID IT!  It's been on my to-do list for years, and I finally did it!  The key for me was to accept that I was going to take it nice and slow.  I read one chapter a week, adding it to my Sabbath day routine.  Some chapters were long and required two weeks.  Some Sundays were full, and required that I read that chapter throughout the week. But by the end of November, I finished it.  And I'm so very glad I did.  I loved reading about the life of my Savior on a deeper level.  My understanding of who Jesus Christ was, and is, and His purpose and mission has grown immensely.  I'm so glad I finally took the time to read this book.

  • Finish 30 by 30.   
Ahem.  Let's break this down a bit.  As a reminder, I created a 30 by 30 list, and only finished 25 by my 30th birthday.  I got #26: Visit Chicago six months later (which is funny, because we live here now).  That leaves 4 more: Find a family name to take to the temple; learn to play all the hymns on the organ; learn to play a new song on the guitar; and learn to play the William Tell Overture.

So I didn't do all those things.  But I did do one: I learned to play William Tell.  I picked up that music in October and said, "This ends now."  I tried to play it every day, until things finally started to come together more.  And I conquered the beast.  Not to perfection, not to performance level, but I can play that dang piece of music, and I'm so proud of myself.

  • Blog more.
A quick scan of my blog archive tells me that in 2015 I had 16 posts, while in 2016 I had 32 posts.  26 of them were from Light the World in December, but...I did blog more.  Check.
  •  Walk 500 miles.
I attempted to go walking every week day that the girls were in school, but I didn't go every day.  In the end I recorded 430.8 miles.  But...I got a fitbit in August, which records all my steps not just when I set out to go walking, and it says I walked 500 miles, so maybe that counts.  Julia says it does. 
  •  Read 12,000 pages.
12,615 pages read this year.  Boom.
  •  Start my book blog.
I did start my book blog, and I love it, and I hope you love it too.  Bookburger. Check it out.
  •  Visit Chicago when it's not the dead of winter.
 We went to the Art Institute of Chicago on a lovely spring Thursday in April, fulfilling this requirement.  And I don't think we've been back since then.  I like the idea of the city, but I don't really like being in the city.  I don't like finding parking, or paying for parking, or dealing with traffic, or worrying about losing my children. Sorry Chicago. 

So there you have it.  I did just about all of the things I set out to do.  Stay tuned for the 2017 resolutions!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Light the World Day 25: Jesus's Disciples Followed Him and So Can We

You can find more information here.

It's Christmas Day!  The most wonderful day of the entire year!  We spent the day enjoying presents, going to church (and providing just about all the music), and spending time with friends.  And, of course, being grateful for the gift of the Savior. 

I have thoroughly enjoyed this Light the World challenge.  I love a list, and I love checking things off a list.  But more than that, I have enjoyed finding concrete ways to bring light to the world, and to emulate Jesus Christ.  I am grateful for the example he gave us in his perfect life, as well as the gift of the Atonement that allows us to return home again. 

I've been looking over last year's resolutions, assessing how things have gone, and planning my focus for next year.  In so doing, I've been thinking a lot about the things I've done this past month.  What can I change in my life to become more like Jesus Christ?  I mentioned earlier that I started a gratitude journal back up.  I think finding the little things to be grateful for in everyday life is a wonderful way to remember our Heavenly Father and all the gifts He has given us, including the gift of His Son.  So that is what I intend to do this year, to keep a gratitude journal in an attempt to allow more joy to flow into my life.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Light the World Day 24: Jesus Cared for His Loved Ones and So Can You

You can find more information here.

Tonight at our Christmas Eve feast we went around the table and spent a few minutes discussing the things we love about each other.  The gratitude I feel for this little family of mine is immense.  To think there was a time in life when I wasn't sure we would have any kids, let alone two!  These two girls bring me so much joy.  Their personalities are so different, and they each add so much to our family dynamic.  Plus, I hit the jackpot in the marriage department.  Clark is my match in every way.  We were MFEO.  (Made for each other.  It's like a little clue.)  As I looked around the table at these wonderful people, I was overcome with love and happiness.  This really is what life is all about. 

Friday, December 23, 2016

Light the World Day 23: Jesus Was a Peacemaker and You Can Be One Too

You can find more information here.

I turned on some Jim Brickman this afternoon to add some calm to our crazy house.  It happened to be while the girls were playing one of their intense pretend games in the living room.  I was all geared up to be an amazing referee (as opposed to the usual crazy yelling referee) for the inevitable fight my girls were going to have.  An entire week off school already?  They were destined to have a fight.  And I was prepared to stay calm, work toward resolution, and be a peacemaker. 

Then they never fought. I expected it all day, and they didn't fight ONE SINGLE TIME.

Maybe it was the Jim Brickman.  Maybe they could sense my calm and let it rub off of them.  Either way, we had a day of no fighting, and it was glorious.  And you'd better believe we are listening to Jim again today.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Light the World Day 22: Jesus Showed Gratitude and So Can You

You can get more information here.

A few years ago (I guess it's been almost 4, yikes), I decided to keep a gratitude journal for a year.  I loved the entire experience, especially as it got me through Clark's 8 months of unemployment and our move to Illinois with a more grateful heart.  I've decided to do it again. 

Today we went to the Christkindlemarket over in Naperville.  Prior to piling into the car, I think every single person in our family had a grumpy meltdown.  Just the thing to add to the Christmas spirit!  On the way over everyone cooled off a bit, and I kept thinking, "Must be grateful, not whiny; must be grateful, not whiny..."  This could easily have gone a different way as the experience unfolded.  The group behind us in the shuffling crowd was full of f-bombs, which is not my cup of tea, and certainly not something I want my KIDS hearing.  So I kept talking to Ella, distracting her from the language going on behind us.  Then they followed us into the market.  Then we stopped so they could pass us.  Then THEY stopped right where we did.  We finally got them off our tail by walking away from the beerstein haus. 

Now, maybe I'm doing this all wrong, but here is what I think about Christkindlemarkets: You can go get overpriced food, or drink lots of beer, or buy expensive German things.  Those are your options.  I am a cheapskate who doesn't drink, so....we walked around for a bit, saw the pretty lights, smelled lots of beer, and then left.  This doesn't sound grateful, does it?  But I promise, we had a good time!  The lights were very lovely, it was fun being out in the crisp (but not below zero) weather, and we did end up buying two small ornaments for our tree.  But you can see how this experience could have gone either way.  I'm so glad I decided to have a grateful heart instead of a grumpy one - consciously making that decision made all the difference on how the night went.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Light the World Day 21: Jesus Forgave Others and So Can You

You can find more information here.

I have only un-followed two people on Facebook ever.  I took the opportunity to re-follow one of them today.  Did they even know I had un-followed them?  No.  Will I un-follow them again next week?  Maybe.  But I'm willing to give it another shot, see what happens.  It's a small thing, but it's something.