Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Plan a Book Before you Leap

I need a book recommendation. But not just any book. I am very specific. I've been wanting to be a part of a book group for a long time. Now, here it is for my true time confession. I've never actually been to a book group/club in my life. But I've always dreamed of it. I've heard women talking about theirs, I've read blogs mentioning them, and I have a little dream in my heart of what it would mean to me to once a month gather with other women, food (I'm just not going to pretend to be healthy) and a nice discussion about my favorite hobby.

But. But. (I can't write a complete sentence. Moving on.) But.

I've never belonged to one, and I've just always hoped that one would start up around me, or that I would move into a ward with one (since they always seem organized through wards), and then I could join it, and my memories would become golden hued with mature conversations and dainty treats. Also in my fertile imagination, I see this book group, this rose-tinged paradise reading good books. Not just fluffy-de-fluffy. Nor always boring (ok, so I'm trying to like them) non fiction. Nor even, although they have a lot of worth, religious books. No, I see reading good books, well written books, dare I say, even literary books - but not the pretentious kind that Oprah hacks on her show, with the special book club editions where they come and are hailed as amazing fiction today, and then sent to the used book store to languish in their overblown writing tomorrow. (Don't worry, I know I have way too many expectations for a book club).

I want books that were overlooked in high school and college, that can be a little stark, yet life affirming, but still not leave you feeling deflated at the end, some books with happy endings, and others with "life" endings, but all books with sentences that roll around in your mind and are a pleasure to remember.

Books such as:

Cold Comfort Farm, by Stella Gibbons
Country of the Pointed Firs, Sarah Orne Jewett
Geurnsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion, by Jane Austen
Middlemarch, by George Eliot
Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
Delta Wedding, Eudora Welty
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith
Oh, Pioneers, Willa Cather
The Glass Bead Game, Hermann Hesse (see, I don't even have to love the book (unlike most of these on my list, which I do love.) I also accept books that make me think a lot. Sometimes books you don't like or agree with can be more moving than ones you do).

There can be some non fiction on the list:
Late Night Thoughts on Listening: Directions to Mahler's Ninth Symphony, Lewis Thomas
A Midwife's Tale, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

Today during a Visiting Teaching lunch extravaganza, I mentioned my dream of someday finding a book group to join, and someone suggested, "Why don't you start one yourself?" Honestly the answer to this is fear. I'm afraid that somehow I'll find a group of women who only want to read the exact books I don't want to (lots of good but difficult for me to read Church non fiction, super fluffy modern books (cough, Twilight - not that I have a problem with this genre - I just don't feel a need to discuss these books as much. I want books that stretch you in some way.)), or that we'll meet once, and people will think that reading books for a meeting is lame, and that will also be our last meeting. Or worse, what if we all get together, and we don't know how to have a successful book group? What makes the difference between an unsuccessful conversation and a successful one? One on one I find it very easy to discuss a book, or any topic, but how do you do so in a group? And unless it's a very controversial book, or some people loved it, and others hated it, what do we talk about?

However, everyone else asked, "Yeah, how come you don't just start one?" And I have already decided that this year I'm not going to avoid things just because they're hard, and I'm lazy, so I decided that why don't I. So I am. And we're going to meet in March, as soon as I figure out how to make an events page in Facebook, and (this is where you come in) what book we're going to read. We (the women at the group today, some of whom were pretty interested in a group) thought that taking turns hosting it, and the host picking the book for the month would work well (yes? No?). That way everyone wouldn't be stuck in my version of "good" books for forever, and I also wouldn't have to host it every month. So, since I'm going to host the first month, which I want to have in March, I need to think of a book post haste pronto.

I've identified the sort of book I want to start this book group (do we need a name? Do book groups have names? We thought we could call it the Super Secret Pompous Book Group. It sounds really nice and inviting, huh?), but the only problem with the foregoing list is I've read every book on it - that's how I know I love them/thought a lot after reading them/they're well written. Note that none of these books are fantasy. I love fantasy, but for some reason, I don't want to pick a fantasy book to read. Anyway, so, I was wondering, what good books, that are like the proceeding books, could I do? If any of you belong to book groups, what books have you liked/made you think? Of course, I know with taking turns picking books, other women might have a completely different idea of what sorts of books they want to read. That's fine with me - I also like broadening my horizons. But for the very first, auspicious meeting, I wanted to pick a book that would resonate with my visions of book groups.

I started my search at the 100 top voted books by BBC (that I recently blogged about), since I figured it could move us out of the default American Book club choices. These books looked interesting:

Birdsong, by Sebastian Faulk
Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier
A Town Like Alice, by Nevil Shute (now that is a British name)
The Shell Seekers, by Rosamund Pilcher.

Can any of you recommend any of these books?Do you have any other book in mind that would be great? I also, because I'm picky, want a book that is about PG-13 or higher (That's why I didn't put Posession on the list - I really enjoyed the writing in the book, and the themes, but it dealt a little to much with sexuality to want to sit around and discuss it.) Also, if you've belonged to a good book group, what made it so? Did your meeting have a specific format, with addressed questions (I always see questions at the back of certain types of books, for book groups to consider), or was it more of a free for all conversation?

Please, save a drowning hopeful bibliophile!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

This post includes references to naked models and strawberries, and Lupercalia. Otherwise it is g-rated.

Avram is gone chaperoning at a Youth Valentine's Dance. And yesterday I babysat for another couple in the ward while they went on their Valentine's date. Aren't we romantic? But on Thursday night Avram and I did make a fancy dinner at home after the girls went to bed. And unlike last year, when we attempted the same feat, it actually worked this time. Last time, in the middle of our Mazza, which is Arabic for a spread of appetizers like Baba Ghanoush, and Hummous, and Muhammara (which will make your tastebuds cry with joy), we heard Elisheva screeching. We blew out our romantical, if kind of dark and gloomy, candles and went upstairs to find Lydia in Elisheva's crib, kicking her, while she (Lydia) was completely in the nude. Just about the most romantic Valentine's day ever - at least my taste buds thought so.

This year for our super fancy menu we had:

Ceaser Salad with real Parmesan Cheese and Homemade Croutons
Broiled Mahi Mahi with a citrus/soy sauce glaze and roasted Asparagus and Brown Rice, with a Blood Orange Sparkling Beverage.
And for Dessert, the piece de resistance, a homemade New York Style Cheesecake.

I read the introduction to cheesecake section in the Joy of Cooking cookbook, and I found the reason the other cheesecakes I've made before (which I swear I've made two before, but I can only specifically remember making the one, for Valentine's day 2006, whilst being nine months pregnant with Lydia) have been kind of not that great was from overbeating the cream cheese, and incorporating too much air into the batter. (Do you like how messy my house is in he background? Classy. Also notice that the edges are all high and such. This is very bad in cheesecakeness.)

This time I followed the recipe like it was my new religion, and the cheesecake turned out beatimus - scratch that - I think the cheesecake itself is my new religion. But don't worry, it's like being Bahai, I can still be Mormon.Here is the good cheesecake - moist and dense all the way through. (Just forget that the top is a little browned on the edges - that's my oven's fault, not mine. Also forget the red smudge on the edge of the photo - that was some raspberry topping that got away from me.)

So, I was telling you about our romantical Valentine's date at home, but I got distracted by the cheesecake. It's okay, we got distracted by the cheesecake ourselves. The entire time we were eating it, I couldn't stop exclaiming how good it was - which is not very modest, nor unassuming. Good thing Avram and I are already married, so he didn't think that I am just obsessed with myself (he already knows it, but he's stuck with me now).

I'd be eating some more cheesecake now, but I tell you, the stuff is so rich that it practically forces me to eat well since I can't stomach it all the time. And by 'practically' I mean that I've only been having a piece or so a day (except today, sadly), which is still like a gazillion calories per slice. Up for March's romantical date: run a marathon. Just kidding.

Avram is tired of feeling like a short order cook in the middle of his romantic dinners, so for our anniversary dinner we're going to do something that can be completely prepared ahead of time, like pizza. No, really that's his idea, and so I'm imagining a fancy bistro-style deep dish pizza, with root beer in the little vintage bottles and such. Plus Creme Brulee, which is my next "I've never made this, but I've always wanted to" dessert.

Hmm, I realize I'm talking about food an awful lot in this post, and romance almost not at all. What can I say? I love food, Avram loves food. We first became friends through the Cooking Guild of the Medieval Club in college. I remember really being impressed with him when he helped me mop my kitchen floor after one guild meeting (where we would weekly gather and make yummy Medieval food and eat it together), and we sang along to Cat Stevens together. What more romantic combination can you get then a guy mopping your floor while singing along to music you both love?

Not that I'm one those people who think that food and romance belongs together in all their manifestations. Today we went to Half Price books, and I saw in the Valentine's display section a book called "The New Inter Courses, an Aprodisiacal Cookbook" with a pasty-white model sitting seductively, naked, strategically covered with a pile of strawberries. My first thought was, "Did they keep her under a rock her whole life? What's wrong with her skin color? My second thought, though, was, "Would you really want to be surrounded by squishy strawberries whilst stark naked? Strawberries are so...juicy. And squishy. Yuck."

Mmm, I better raise the level of this post, before I lose all my readers. Well, to conclude, Avram and I have a chaste love of food, and we love each other chastely (in the married sense of the word - from which I understand to mean we're not having any affairs). The End.

P.S. And my cheesecake is also amazing - this you must understand.

P.P.S. This post was too much for me - I had to go and get a piece of cheesecake, which I am now currently drowning my loneliness sorrows in. Who thought that a Valentine's Day Dance was a good idea for the youth anyway? None of the leaders wanted to chaperon it, and no parents did either. In fact, the youth were calling Avram all afternoon long trying to work out rides, since none of their parents were driving them. I tell you, youth, and I include myself in this grouping when I was one, have no idea of the lengths that adults have to go through to provide them with all of their mulitfarious activities. Ok, end rant. I suppose there is supposed to be a self centered time of our lives - that way we can look back on it while we watch awkward teenagers shuffling to the slow songs (which nowadays have driving guitars and yelling in the middle), and make sure the book of Mormon spaces are being maintained.

P.P.S. I was counting up, and for the 12 Valentine's Days I've gone through since I turned sixteen, I've only been single for...two of them. I was telling Avram that I don't understand why so many people hate Valentine's Day, and how I've always liked them (since I was a little kid, even.), and to me it's a general love day, and not just romantic love. But since I've almost always had a significant other, this makes my position sound a little weaker. But I still stand by it. For one thing, it's not like I've bought into the marketing at all - I've never, in all those twelve years, gone out to eat in celebration of Valentine's Day. I prefer just doing something nice together at home. I've also never bought a Valentine's day card (although I did use to hand out store bought valentines as a child). I've only given a gift on Valentine's day once, and it was a role-playing book to Avram when we were engaged. But Valentine's day to me is about eating yummy heart shaped cookies with frosting. Not that I have ever in my life done this. But it looks fun, and I'm sure if I did it, I would enjoy it. Okay, let's broaden my definitions - it's about eating yummy, sugary food together, and kissing your kids, and kissing your spouse, and possibly about remember Lupercalia (the Roman origin of the time of Valentine's day, when youth ran naked through the streets), just to keep things exciting.

So, I'm curious - what are your thoughts on Valentine's Day. Love it? Hate it? Your opinion depends on your current romantic life? Have you made sugar cookies in heart shapes?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Exchange your Runcible Spoon for a Pitchfork

One year after I've read Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey, I wanted to review how this last year has gone, financially. Don't worry, I'm not going to pull up our monthly budgets for my blog - despite my great love of crunching financial numbers, I don't expect any of you to love my finances. I hope you love yours, though.

To wit - last February, I read Total Money Makeover. (the relevant section is far down in the actual post. In an unrelated note, a year ago this weekend we were all sick as well. Maybe it's just the new family tradition) It made me cry. Avram and I were already paying off student loans - our only type of debt - but I felt that we were trying to dig ourselves out of a mountain with a runcible spoon. A dull one. After lots of talk together about being gazelle intense and focusing our priorities on paying off debt, we began our new purpose, of continuing to pay off student loans, but better, and faster, and with a pitchfork instead of a spork.

Sure, Avram was, and is, and will continue to be for the next three to four years, a student - a Ph.d. student. But we had some small means to pay off debt, and we didn't want to push all of our fiscal improvements to post graduation. Since Avram's funding this quarter was halved, we essentially have put a temporary hold on paying off any debt until this coming fall, to conserve resources, and not to have to go into any new debt. So...In the fourteen months total of paying on debt (November 2008 through December 2009) we payed off 23% of our total outstanding debt. We spent about 28% of our income for the year in doing so (and by income I'm including any and all incoming money, so employment, babysitting, tax refund, grants, etc.)

When we began last February to really try and reduce our debt, I thought that even with being gazelle we wouldn't be able to make much of a dent. I'm happy to say that I've felt blessed to be able to better discern our needs from our wants, and to have had the funds to do so. We also saved a $500 emergency fund, which with all other available monies was used up in the scramble to pay for tuition, insurance, and other fees for this quarter - but the money was there to be used.

Avram has been verbally promised funding for the Spring quarter, and has a class assigned to him (although I will not fully believe it until he has a signed contract in his hands), and so although it will take all of our financial savviness to recover from the glitches of Winter Quarter, and he needs to find a job for the Summer, we should have enough to not need any student loans this year, even with our far rockier finances. One of the reason for this is that two of our loans, my school loans, and a personal loan from Avram's grandpa to pay rent in England, will be paid off - the loans we were gazelle intense on this year. This means our monthly budget is low enough to live on, regardless of our differing finances. And the other student loans, all under Avram's name, and all subsidized (meaning earning no interest), and all not needing to be paid off until he graduates, can remain in stasis until we get our financial feet under us again.

All in all, I've been very happy with following Dave Ramsey's advice and financial plan. He estimates that an average couple, following his plan (which isn't rocket science. You snowball your debts. You pay off your debts with gazelle intensity. The end.) will on average take 18 months to 2 1/2 years to pay off their debts. We'll take longer, but I always knew we would, since Avram is a student, and his schooling is more important than for him to take a second job, and for us it's worth it for me to be a Homemaker than to work full time, even with babysitting (and especially with being pregnant. It's nice to only babysit about once a week right now.)

In summation, I'd recommend if you feel like you'd like to be out of debt, or in control of your financial future, don't wait for a raise, or for something to come along tomorrow, but instead take control today - you may be surprised how much you can accomplish with what you have currently. Okay, stepping off my "I sound like I write motivational blog posts for a second income" soapbox now.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

This House Was a Very Clean House

I spent most of the month of January organizing and cleaning the house. It was actually a great use of a month that I always spend indoors anyway, with no plans to go anywhere because it's too cold or snowy anyway.

The first week after Christmas vacation (which for us extended to January 2nd. We're party animals.) we switched rooms with our girls, so that we now have the small room, next to the bathroom, and they have the large bedroom. Sure, we gave up having a walk-in closet, which was, and is, mostly dedicated to storage anyway, but now we get the exciting privilege of using the facilities even when our girls are sleeping. Before Avram and I had odd showering practices, as we couldn't shower either in the evening after they went to sleep, or in the morning before we wanted them to wake up - since inevitably Elisheva's voice rose in concert with the shower mist. As well, once our baby girl comes, and once we move her out of our room (six months, maybe? hopefully?), there will be room in their room for the crib.

Now, we have sole possession of the bathroom, and our girls finally have room to actually play in their bedroom, as opposed to just piling up mess, since there wasn't any room to both store their toys, and play with them in the old room. I like having a smaller room anyhow - it's easier to keep clean for me, since it has a much lower threshold before it feels dirty.

The girls room is fun too - although my pictures don't do it justice. One of the play areas. Soon there will also be a dress up chest and a hanging row of hooks for dress up clothes, instead of the current too-small basket in the corner.

Another play area, complete with transformed changing table into toy storage unit.

Their kitchen corner. It amazes me that having everything have its area and station reduces mess, rather than adding to it. I suppose because before things like this were shoved into the toy holder/changing table, and just pulling them out for play constituted making a mess.

Our trusty four year old camera, that had been to four different countries and lived in three different states finally once and for all gave up its digital pixels and laid itself to rest, despite our best efforts at resuscitation. Last Summer whilst visiting in Utah, our camera gave a preliminary performance of mortality, so my Mom gave me her old camera that had also once pretended to die, and then struggled back to flickering life. As thankful as we are for this offering, it has some quirks. Like not displaying any images on its screen - I believe it to be in powersaving mode. This camera needs all the powersaving it can get, because it burns through batteries like they about to become the laser disc technology of the digital age. Oh, how I loved my old camera's lithium battery!

Being old school and all that, I do still know to look through the actual physical viewfinder to frame my picture. Except then I never know if the resulting picture is incredibly blurry. Or whether the faulty lens cover actually opened. (I should just begin assuming that no, it did not open, and go from there.) This shot could be called, "Through a glass darkly, you see my girls' toddler beds arrangement."

Here's a photo essay of my children, both blurry and through a lens narrowed. It's like modern art, only with point and shoots.

So I apologize on the fuzziness of some of these views. Back to my home.

Here is the kitchen all beautified (make sure you pronounce this with the exaggerated, 'beeeauutified'):

While planning the decor for our new home in Ohio, I was living in Virginia, after not having seen our belongings for eighteen months. I decided to base the kitchen colors to be harmonious with 'Starry, Starry Night' a cheaply framed poster copy I had inherited from one of my apartments at BYU. The painting was going to hang right over the dining table (yes, on that large white wall, that is bare.) Although I was not specifically in love with this painting, I'd had it since my freshman year, and it had followed me from apartment to apartment until I felt one with Van Gogh, minus his missing ear.

Alas, I must have been feeling disparate from my art history while packing up our Wymount apartment, because as I unpacked our multifarious belongings in Ohio, 'Starry, Starry Night' never appeared among them. Now my turquoise chairs and sheer matching curtains are a little lonely, but someday I have intentions of hanging a new picture there. The only question - should I replace 'Starry, Starry Night' although it was never among my most beloved paintings, so that nirvana will be achieved when I eat, or should I go out now and try and find a print of a painting that can embrace vibrant shades of blue as its compatriot? What sort of painting would that be, anyway?

I don't have any pictures of the living room, because the camera ran out of batteries before we could capture any. Then Lydia got a stomach/throwing up bug two weeks ago. Then she got a cold. Then I caught her cold (as did Elisheva to a lesser degree), and then last Sunday I had the stomach bug. This last week I've been recovering from the cold and resuming housework duties, but then yesterday and today Elisheva began the morning by throwing up on her bedding, and this morning Avram greeted the Sabbath day with stomach upheavals as well.

Since sometime in the last two weeks every member of our family has spent time feeling the way Lydia looks here, my January organization extravaganza fizzled out into February's operation of 'Trying to keep the family alive and functioning.' So, no batteries for the camera, and currently the living room isn't really bragworthy anyhow. None of the previously photographed rooms are really out winning any awards either. Remember when I asked about another hobby I could do? It turns out perpetually revolving sickness is a pretty good hobby to fill ones time.

On the positive side, every member of the family has had the sniffles, and we've all had the stomach bug as well. Which means starting tomorrow we'll be taking names again, or at least begin house recovery efforts, and eventually getting out shopping to buy things like batteries. And I've been amazed that even through all of the sickness, how comparatively clean and organized our house has remained. Much of this is due to the steadfastness of Avram, who, despite lack of any hard evidence of having mice anymore for the last three weeks, still cannot rest at night until the kitchen and living room are cleaned and crumb free. Having mice was a real downside (and I do believe they are gone - the poison finally did the trick), but it uncovered a neat streak in my husband that I continue to relish in.

Friday, February 5, 2010


I ended up on a financial blog the other day. I like the idea of financial blogs a lot, or any advice blogs really. Sometimes I find that their advice is far behind what I actually do, such as one financial blog I read by a single 20 something female, who struggled with not buying a ton of clothing and shoes every month - expensive clothes, that ruined her budget. Nope, not something I've ever struggled with - my favorite clothing store in College was D.I. But I am still drawn to the idea of talking about money.

Regardless, this financial blog had some good ideas, and good points, but I did think one of his ideas was a little unwieldy in practice. He recommended making a list of everything you own. Ok, that would take forever, but probably be a good exercise, if I ever felt like undertaking it. I'm not sure I really want to go and detail out every baby girl clothes I have saved from Newborn to 3T that are currently sitting in my closet shelves nice and unobtrusively in boxes, whereas counting them would require delving into a lifetime supply of baby clothes. (Which I'd like to point out, saving all these clothes means that I'll have outfitted three girls with one set of clothing from Baby on up. So I've definitely gotten good use out of storing them).

No, the idea I thought a little unworkable in practice was to, in an effort to simplify ones' life, then sell/get rid of half of everything you own.

Now, that would certainly reduce any potential clutter in my house, as well as time/effort to upkeep my belongings. I can see if you're single, or even if you're married, but own a lot of extra stuff this would make sense. But for me, in my life, this idea is ludicrous. Now, if any of you know Avram and I in real life, you know that "sparse" and "sparing" and "banish all clutter before it comes into our house" are not words or phrases that fit into the same sentence as us. We are the type of people who have lots of bookshelves, and books to fill them with, plus two couches, for lots of seating room, and so on. I suppose we could get rid of half our books, plus the freed up bookshelves as well. One of our couches could go. But what about our kitchen chairs? We have six of them. So three would go. Except then who doesn't get to sit at the kitchen table for dinners - should Avram have to stand? Or Thora, to represent my repressed state in my phallocratic society? Maybe Lydia, to hearken back to pilgrim times when the children stood at the table to show respect to their parents. Not to mention I don't think that three grubby turquoise kitchen chairs would sell real well, that were hand-painted, but with Latex paint, which it turns out should only be used to paint light use furniture, not heavy use, and which are all now permanently ingrained with remnants of past meals.

Or bikes. Avram and I both have a bike - I guess mine goes. (Once again, I'm being repressed. I even repress myself, which shows how much I've bought into the system. [Can you tell I've been reading vaguely feminist weird fiction again?]). There are emotional items I own that serve little practical purpose, but which I love.All of these Mortar and Pestles, for example. In order from L-R: A granite one from England, A wooden one bought in front of the pyramids in Egypt, a marble one bought while in a Medieval Cooking Guild in College, an Alexandrite (I think) one bought from the Smithsonian, and made in Pakistan, an Alabaster one bought in upper Egypt, and which was instrumental in helping me realize I wanted to marry Avram, and then finally the little green marble one that was also from Cooking Guild. I don't want to get rid of any of these - they represent various times and places of the world to me.

I realize I sound so defensive. I am sure the author of this blog would think I was over reacting, and I am sure I am. This isn't a rally against his blog or getting rid of belongings so much as me realizing that I do like what I own, and also laughing a little at the plethora of well meant, free advice available on the Internet.

Sure, we all have extraneous belongings - clothes that we'll fit into someday, if we just lose that last five pounds/baby weight/our hips and adult sizes. Or the dreaded box of random crap that's hidden away under stairs or in a closet or behind the furnace, full of who-knows-what from former glory days. Anyone with kids has known the despair that toy boxes which must regenerate on their own by spontaneous budding and cloning can bring. But how could a functioning household just cut its belongings in half? I suppose looking at third world countries, and especially Haiti right now, there are many who have not even a tenth of what we do. But I am talking about continuing to function in a first world country. I'm all against clutter, and not owning useless items that we do not use, nor do we love. But I'm not going to get rid of one of my girls' toddler beds, and make them share just to prove this point.

When Avram and I moved to England, of course we only had what we could carry onto the flight - three tickets worth of checked baggage. And while living in England we often missed our belongings. I liked having pictures on the wall, and games to play in the evenings. We were often reduced to surfing the 'net together after Lydia went to sleep for our entertainment - one especially exciting night we window shopped for the type of coffins we someday want to have (Simple. Boring. Cheap. Plywood?) I realized then that I do not want to get to the end of my life and be able to fit all my belongings in a shoebox. Neither do I want to build a living mausoleum of towering belongings, reminiscent of the junk lady in Labrynth. I just want to love and use the belongings I have through life.

Since first encountering Flylady four years ago (whom I follow in de-cluttering practices, but that's about it), I have often gone through my home boxing up clothing, toys, extraneous belongings, and books that we neither use any longer, or that we have a surplus on. I keep two continuously rotating boxes marked for the Goodwill and for Half Price Books, respectively (our local used bookstore that gives small pittances of cash in exchange for books). After Christmas this year I gave three large garbage bags and one box to the Goodwill, to make room for our new Christmas gifts from exuberant gift givers, and let me tell you, we still need to find more to give away because our house is filled to the limits with belongings. I think that with the prevalence of belongings caused by Industrialization, Plastic, and cheap outsourcing we all need to find methods of preventing things from overtaking our lives.

I know the author of this blog meant well, and I suppose for him this has been great advice. He and his wife and young child are moving to Australia, and for them they are getting rid of everything they're not taking on the plane to their new home. But for us sedentary types, who live in 1,000 square foot town house apartments, I do not think this advice is as helpful. I like Flylady's approach to getting rid of belongings that we keep just for guilt, or for other reasons that do not make us happy.

What advice have you encountered on the Internet that was meant well, but rather ludicrous if thought on for a while?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Goals for 2010

I think I've finally hammered out my Goals for the year of 2010. What, one twelfth of the year has already passed? Hey, I'm just a thoughtful, careful thinker. And slow.

For 2010 I'd like to read better, and less. I was surprised how many books I'd read in 2009, but even more surprised that even with continuously working on my lifelong goal to read all the books on the BYU Honors Reading List (I think we all need ultimately meaningless lists sometimes) how many fluffy books I read. I don't mind a little light entertainment now and then, but I was surprised by how stupid some of the books were. I just used the word surprised three (now four) times in this paragraph. Maybe I should also have a New Year's goal of using a thesaurus.

Specifically, I'm planning to read three certain types of books every month. Now, I'm already behind, and it's February, but the important aspect of this goal is not staying on top of it, but rather continuously working toward it by reading better. I'm going to read a non fiction on my BYU List, a fiction on my BYU list, and then I'm going to read another non-fiction book that I own, and have been meaning to read forever, but have never gotten around to. I was culling down our belongings after Christmas, and kept coming across books that I've been given as books or whatnot, and have always meant to read, but never actually cracked the cover on. I'm really bad at reading non-fiction. Somehow the lack of a storyline makes it hard for me to snuggle up with it when I really ought to be sleeping and read the book to the very last line in the wee hours of the morning. And I'd like to pare down the number of books we own, but most of the get riddable ones are the books I've been meaning to read for forever.

However, I know all sorts of good informative gems are hidden away in books without lurid plotlines, and I am determined to begin appreciating them.

Goal number 2:
Wear makeup when I know I'll be going out that day. So, this is a frivolous goal, but I, like many Homemakers, struggle with feeling frumpy sometimes, and this is to combat that feeling that I am secretly a hermit who may only be 27 years old, but looks and acts 47 years.

Goal number 3:
Not feel overwhelmed by having three children by the end of the year. That'll give me six months with three kids to figure out how to live with three kids.

Goal number 4:
Read the Book of Mormon every day. Ummm, I'm already doing badly at this. But what is the point of having a goal if not to challenge ourselves to do better? If only I knew a foolproof method to achieve this goal. Besides, you know, opening up the Book of Mormon and reading every single day.

Goal number 5:
Be happy this year, regardless of circumstances. When reviewing the past year, I've realized that how I felt emotionally much of the year directly reflected the life circumstances I was currently going through. When funding was great, and the weather was nice, I felt great. When our funding turned rocky, or bad news hit, or I was morning sick, I was emotionally down. I've always felt that I am a happy person, so I'd like to live to actually reflect this belief. I also know that we can be happy regardless of our what happens, or doesn't happen, in our lives. I usually try to not do really difficult to measure goals with indefinable boundaries, but this time I shall make an exception.

Monday, February 1, 2010

We know what we're having!

We're having a girl. 95% sure. Lydia keeps crowing it over us, since she's always predicted we were having another girl. In the car on the way home from the Doctor's, Lydia "called" on her princess pretend cell phone lots of extended family members, who all confirmed to her that yes, just like Lydia knew, we are having a girl. I'm not as excited. Sure, I love girls, but I have to admit I was hoping for a boy this time. We even had a name all picked out. But....three little girls will be awfully cute all together. And girl clothing is cuter - plus we already own a ton of girl clothes. And then they can all share a room, and the decor will all match and look nice. And she won't spray pee on me. (hey, I'm trying to make myself feel better, here.)

Meanwhile, Elisheva is having one of the neediest days of her life. She's currently curled up in my lap, crying, for no apparent reason. I hope she won't struggle with being a middle child.