Monday, July 30, 2012

You're Beautiful

I've been struggling for months.
I couldn't pin-point what was going on.
I thought it was just part of the grief of losing my nephew,
and it partially was, but it started before we lost Braxton.
I was angry.
I just got angrier.
For months I didn't want to pray.
I didn't want to go to church.
I didn't want to read the scriptures.
I just wanted to stew,
and get angrier about all the unfairness of life.

I spent a night at the cabin with a few friends last week,
and we took the time to have a honest share with one another.
I was floored by the experience.
Just a few moments of humble and honest self-reflection
completely turned me around.

I was able to see a part of me that I already identified long ago.
I was able to see the part of me that went straight
to pride and anger
as to protect myself from the hurt or disappointment.

I was angry because I felt like I could never measure up.
I was angry that people around me didn't appreciate me.
I was angry because I didn't want to need God.
I was angry because I was hurt.
I was sad, so I was angry.
My subconscious thinks it's easier to be angry.
But it's not.
Pride is destructive.
Anger is a form of pride.

After two seconds of honest reflection,
I immediately felt God telling me it's o.k.
I am just human doing the best I can.
He wasn't mad at me.
He was glad that I finally figured it out.
I don't need to be angry.
I need to be vulnerable
and let God heal.

I most of all needed to re-understand that
I am not alone.
We all need God.
We all need to be told that we are beautiful.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Book Review: The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns

I did receive compensation for the review of this book, but have only expressed my honest opinion.
Go here to join me for the BlogHer Book Club discussion.

The Care and Handling of Roses with ThornsThe Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns by Margaret Dilloway
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I consider myself a rose with thorns. In fact, because I consider everyone in this world a rose with thorns (some have more than others), I was very intrigued from the first time I read the title of this book. Come to find out I was right when I knew from the very title that I would love this book. I knew the author would be addressing my favorite topic in any piece of fiction or fact: the relationships of man to man (or in this case woman to girl, woman to multiple men, and woman to herself.) I know what it is like to live a daily struggle of trying to create deep meaningful relationships while addressing and dealing with my own personal thorns. It's what we call life and this book was full of it.

This book follows the story of two main characters: a teacher with two non-working kidneys who also loves to raise roses, and her teenage niece who has lived a long life of neglect and sorrow. I don't want to tell you what happens in the story because honestly I couldn't bare depriving you of the pleasure of following the story-line for yourself. It takes twists and turns through many other just as thorny but delightful characters. It's a feel-good story and it makes you ponder your own character and your own priorities.

The author writes from teacher Gal's point of view. Gal calls herself difficult and obstinate and explains that so are roses. "That's why I like the roses so much." I found this statement beautifully profound. If all of us can just learn to love each other past our thorns this world would be such a better place. A brighter place. And sometimes when we are lucky even a world full of sweet fragrance. (Read the book to understand that last metaphor - it explains in interesting detail how rose-breeders hope that good luck will smile in their direction with a sweet smelling hybrid) It's always another plus for a book when you read it for the story-line, but find yourself learning about a subject that you would never research otherwise. I will think of this book every time I smell the sweet roses planted out front of my house.

This is a four star book. If it was longer I may have given it 5. I highly recommend this book to all my friends. It was truly a joy to read. I plan to add Dilloway's debut novel How to Be An American Housewife to my list of must-reads.

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Monday, July 23, 2012


Abigail woke me up this morning by climbing in my bed with a newspaper. She then proceeded to tell me about everything she read of any interest.

For a moment I had a deep sense of parental pride telling myself I've done a great job of teaching my oldest to love to read. She is reading the newspaper!! How many 13 year old kids out there read the newspaper regularly?

I then looked up from my game of i-scrabble to shoot a photo, only to catch her reading the funnies.

As she caught me snapping her photo I said,"You need to read something besides the funnies so you can look smart."

Her reply,"Well, I was just reading my horoscope."

I then congratulated myself fur raising kids who are not only smart, but also have totally awesome senses of humor (even though I am not too certain she was attempting humor.)

That's just how I like to roll as a parent. Patting myself in the back occasionally really helps during those dark moments when I, like every parent out there, realize that I've screwed them up in some way.

Abigail then proceeded to pose for a better photo. What a gem. She's pretty much perfect at this given moment. Now let's go check out the cleanliness of her room.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

40 pounds

Our landlord came over today.
We've never met in person before.
The only place she has ever seen me
is on my blog.
Coincidentally, my blog is how she
decided to rent to us last April.

She walked in the house
and said,
"Wow, you look so different than I expected.
You look so different than your blog."

I said,
"I've lost forty pounds since that blog photo."

Then she said she could really tell
and that I should update my photo.

I decided to do a little experiment and take a photo to compare.

I do believe there is a difference.
A toddler size difference.
The side by side was validation
for all that running
and calorie counting.

I so wish I could have a baby without gaining
that forty pounds back.
But, I am grateful for the knowledge 
that my parents raised me to have.

Family is what matters most.

And guess what?
I have a family that loves me
no matter what size I am.
And I have four wonderful children
who are extremely grateful to me
for not placing my appearance
at such a high priority that
they were completely erased
from this world.

I know of many women
who determine their self-worth
by size.
I want you all to know
that I was just as important 
to my God, my husband, and my children
in that before picture.

And I will keep that picture on my blog,
even though I can now change it out for a skinnier version
because I love me
and I love that those old pounds represent
the time I spent with my children
and the months I gave to growing them inside of me
instead of obsessing at the gym
to please people in a world that
have screwed up priorities.

Yes, I feel a million times better
now that I exercise regularly
and eat healthier.
And yes there are women
out there who look great
and can have babies and go back to 
pre-baby size the day after birth.
Yes, there are women who
are healthy and not unhealthily obsessed with their weight.
Yes, yes, yes.
But me, I am probably going to gain my
forty pounds back
and I will probably gain more back after
the next baby is born
because having a newborn is stressful to me
and I get so tired
and choose to take care of my kids
over myself.
I may do better this time
as I have made great progress in 
the taking care of me category.
Or I may not.
But in the end,
I will have made the choice that matters most.
And that makes me happy
with the before and after pictures.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Book Review: Carnival Girl

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my review, 
and both the free book and the read were awesome!

I am busy enjoying the holiday (Happy 4th) with my family, but I received a really exciting e-mail from Sonja that she is willing to guest post or let me interview her for my blog! I hope to take advantage of that in the very near future.

Carnival Girl: Searching for God in the Aftermath of WarCarnival Girl: Searching for God in the Aftermath of War by Sonja Herbert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Carnival Girl was a fantastic read. The touching and intriguing memoir chronicles the life of author Sonja Herbert as she is raised in post-World War II Germany with her nomadic large family who works the carnival circuit. Can you imagine living in a camper with five siblings forever? You move on a weekly basis and long for a permanent home like those of the children that you usually only get to know for a week. This was Sonja's upbringing. Sonja vividly portrays throughout her beautiful memoir how much she just longed for a normal life, but I am so glad that God had something else in mind for her because it made for an intriguing and enlightening read.

I don't want to give spoilers but I will tell you that at some point late in the book Sonja is introduced to two American Mormon missionaries. However Sonja's interest in the Mormon church is a side-story and I do believe that this book can be enjoyed by any person, religious or not. In fact, if you aren't religious, you will probably relate well to Sonja's parents: one a bitter atheist and the other an a-typical Catholic.

Something that I enjoyed the most from this book was Sonja's great faith from a very early age and how God strengthened her to endure and taught her to be comforted in some really hard circumstances. I also related to some of Sonja's confusion to when her prayers weren't answered.

I imagine that Sonja's mother is dead by now, and so it won't be too disrespectful to say it, but as a mother of 4, I truly marveled at how much of a burden her children were to her. Of course, I have never raised 6 kids in a caravan while also running a carnival, but part of me was so sad that Mutti (Sonja's mom) never seemed to enjoy her children. However I also related to Mutti. I recently found I out that I am pregnant at 38 with number 5 and I swear this snippet from the book could transcend through time to my bedroom just a few nights ago:

"From our caraven, Mutti's loud voice rang out with a harsh edge. 'I can't believe this happened again,' she said. 'I'm almost forty!'
'Maybe you should see someone,' Vati ventured.
'That's dangerous.' Mutti's voice wavered. 'Besides, it's the end of the winder, and we don't have that kind of money. Later it will be too late.'
A pause.
'Don't cry,' Vati said. 'It's not the end of the world.'
'What do you know?' She sobbed. 'I can't believe you'd do that to me again.'"

Not just in this small chapter that I related with so well, but throughout the book, I was drawn to Sonja, her family, her circumstances. They were most peculiar, sometimes heartbreaking, but always extremely fascinating and educational.

I highly recommend this book to all my readers. I don't think anyone would be disappointed in learning all about the carnival girl of all carnival girls.

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Monday, July 02, 2012

Adds Pounds

I copied this off of a friend's facebook.

It portrays perfectly
how we let society influence
our sub-consciousness.

I've lost about 40 pounds in the past year
and I've been feeling pretty good about myself.
Not because I'm skinnier
but because I am healthier and stronger.

And then I got pregnant.
Happens every time.

It's a good thing I don't let society
tell me what to do.

Or I probably would have stopped a few kids ago
or at least at #4 when I was 36.

I miss you my bloggy friends.
I think I am going to start blogging more.
It seems to help me through pregnancy
and the newborn blues.