What Happens When TV Writers Truly Understand Book Lovers

My daughter is a huge fan of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. The show is actually pretty entertaining; I know this because I can admit that I do watch it with her frequently. As a book lover, I absolutely loved a recent new episode.

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic | When TV Writers Truly Understand Book Lovers

In a previous episode, Rainbow Dash, an athletic pony, was injured, laid up in the hospital and bored. Her friend Twilight Sparkle (Claire’s favorite pony) recommended a book that was part of the Daring Do adventure series. Rainbow Dash resisted reading the book but eventually gave in to boredom and quickly became addicted to the book. But, then she had to wait for the next book in the series.

And that’s when we arrive at the new episode. Rainbow Dash and Twilight Sparkle can hardly wait for the new book to be published. As true fans of the series, they get into an intense argument about who is a bigger fan of the books. The argument culminates in Rainbow deciding to track down the author and assist her with any real life things that are preventing her from writing the book.

I don’t generally start a series before the second, third, final, etc. book is finished. Series books, aside from Harry Potter, are something that I don’t really get into until they’re THE must read books (e.g.,the Millenium series, The Hunger Games). But I can absolutely understand finishing one book and needing to read the next one.

And, you know what? I’m happy that a TV show my daughter is watching is making reading a book a cool thing.

What experiences have you had with the portrayal of book lovers on TV? Good, bad, otherwise…

On Dance Class & Teaching Self Esteem

I’ve been tired lately, still trying to kick the virus that took me down a couple weeks ago. No surprises here, but I’m still working on Dracula. Enjoying it, but falling asleep at the drop of a hat. Here’s a little something different today.

“We’re looking for a class that will help her grow, so she could dance professionally,” Nick said.  Nick, Claire and I were touring the dance studio and asking questions about their program. I’m sure it’s not the first time the question had been asked, so the Director was ready with a response about the quality of their classes, the music they use and the moves they teach. It seemed pretty satisfying to Nick.

But I was a little unsure. I mean I’m happy to have Claire in a quality studio with good music and no inappropriate dance moves. But what am I looking for in Claire’s dance education? Were we looking for a professional-level education? Why were we looking to put her in dance class?

I do want to provide Claire with as many enriching opportunities as possible, so she can explore things that interest her. I want her to develop self esteem. To learn what she enjoys and what she’s good at. And I don’t want to limit her future abilities because I didn’t encourage her early on.

Research has stated that children who are involved in sports (and I consider dance a sport) have higher self esteem. I don’t strictly believe that; I think that’s only the case with kids who are good at the sport. The others–the benchwarmers or, worse, the kids who often embarrassingly play equal time–are probably resentful, sad or thinking about something other than the activity they’re involved in.

Then there are the activities in which all participants get a trophy. I’ve always thought it would be better to not waste money on the trophies and make it cheaper for kids to participate. Building a kid’s self esteem is a worthwhile endeavor, except when you’re rewarding him or her for something he or she isn’t good at. What happens when that kid faces a real challenge? Does that cause a self esteem crisis?

As a child and teenager, I was a fast sprinter. I did build a lot of self esteem because I won a lot. I sometimes wonder if that esteem alone is what carries me through the day or what portion of it exists still to this day.  What I know I took from that experience is an understanding of my own strength and determination. And, I suppose, a certain amount of self esteem solely based on knowing what I was capable of when I put my mind to it.

Encouraging Claire to explore and find what she’s good at seems to be a great way to help her build self esteem and find out a little more about herself. Additionally, activities like dance teach some much needed coordination to preschoolers, including some of the skills she’ll be tested on before kindergarten. Hopefully she’ll also learn some good skills like determination and dedication. And, if she becomes a professional dancer, then I can be satisfied that Nick and I helped her get there by putting her in dance early.

What do you think about kids’ activities? Is it to help them build self esteem?

On Being Perfect, Part 2

read Part 1 here

The conference room was full. The oval table that filled the long room was itself full with a few extra people sitting in chairs lined around the perimeter. The meeting’s casual appearance belied its importance: It was my first meeting with a lot of my higher ranking coworkers. It was my chance to prove my commitment and my knowledge.

I had just started to use Cozi.com, and its free Android app the week prior, and I felt pretty smugly satisfied with my success at juggling multiple calendars. My meeting was scheduled until 5:00 but realistically could last until 5:30. Nick was all set to pick Claire up from daycare.

But then I saw a missed call on my phone and a new voicemail. I surreptitiously checked my missed calls. It was daycare. I snuck out of the room during a slower, less critical part of the meeting to check my voicemail. And my scheduling smugness evaporated. Claire was supposed to be picked up at 4:00. It was 4:10. I quickly arranged with Claire’s provider to leave her with her responsible teenage daughters.

After my meeting, I called Nick who confirmed that he’d picked Claire up. It seemed to be fine. Except I couldn’t stop worrying about it. It almost completely consumed my thoughts on the drive home.

I revealed here that I’m no stranger to worrying about my shortcomings. I feel like I’ve made progress since then, but I also feel like the harder I try to remember everything the more mistakes I’ve made. This week alone I’ve made two grocery store trips: on trip one I forgot a bag of purchased items and on trip two I replaced those items but forgot to buy the chicken nuggets that are crucial to my toddler’s diet.

Sometimes it’s easy to laugh off my forgetfulness. Claire and I laughed at my silliness after I’d confirmed that I’d left the items on my first trip (most likely in the shopping cart) and received a refund. Or I remind myself that I remember the really important things. My phone and/or my purse might be lost, but I have Claire! But other times I mentally beat myself up about it. (And, let me tell you, I’m very brutal mentally.)

So, how am I dealing with this (besides not well)? Notebooks, lists, sticky notes, Cozi.com and the Cozi app. I write things down as I recall them; I make lists. And, most of all, I enter events into my Cozi calendar ASAP because it’s not Cozi’s fault if I don’t enter an appointment.

Do you struggle with trying to be perfect? Anxiety? How do you cope and/or overcome?

To read more of my thoughts, follow me on Twitter. For more book reviews, books I’ve read and books I want to read, find me on Goodreads. And of course, don’t forget to check out my Pinterest to see all the craft and home decor projects I’ll probably never do and some cool book and social media pins.

Living Intentionally

This year Lent is providing me an excellent opportunity to push myself to live my life more intentionally, to really focus on how I live and how it impacts me, my family, my community and the earth.

My first step in to learning to live intentionally was figuring out how I spend my time and if it fits with my goals and values. I quickly identified one way that I spend my time that doesn’t match up to my goals. I frequent a forum where I can spend hours chatting away without accomplishing anything.  I really enjoy my time there, but it’s become my go-to for entertainment when I could be focusing most (not all) of my time and energy actively engaged in achieving my goals.

A large part of living intentionally is truly understanding the world around me an embracing my spirituality. For the next 40 days, I will be reading 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker and Rediscovering Catholicism by Matthew Kelly. These books will help me understand how my actions impact me spiritually and my community.

I’ve been gradually working towards being more environmentally friendly, but I’ve been a little too gradual. I believe it’s time to be more focused on how I can be a better steward of the environment. It’s really time for me to define a strategy to become more environmentally friendly.

Are you giving anything up for Lent or trying to live more intentionally regardless of a religious or nonreligious affiliation?

Two Weeks Back at Work

And all goes well. At work at least. Home’s not terrible, but the transition hasn’t been smooth. Laundry is piled high. As are the dishes.

My first day back at work was Monday the seventh. I woke up nervous but excited for my new opportunity. But Claire, well, that little sweetheart woke up with a barky cough. Nick wasn’t much better after pinching a nerve between his neck and shoulders on Saturday.

Nick immediately announced that he would stay home with Claire, so I got ready and headed off for my first day. My day went well, and Nick sent me a text that Claire felt better and was at daycare. And–good news–he had an interview at 3:00 (turned out to be a questionable interview). Day one down and things are OK.

Then day two dawned and Nick was feeling some cold-like symptoms. He stayed home by himself, and I came home after work and provided all the child care while Nick slept. Day 3 and Nick went to the doctor–ear infection, etc. He was prescribed some meds and felt pretty good after one dose.

Thursday and Friday went smoothly–that is except the car fire on the highway (not my car) that made me late by a couple minutes. But then Nick picked Claire up from daycare, and we learned that she had been misbehaving all week, requiring more attention from our provider who was now requesting $5 more a week–extortion! What bothered me most about this (besides someone saying bad things about my kiddo–the nerve!) is that she hadn’t indicated an increase in bad behavior all week. Claire usually has a time out or two a day, and we’re working on the behaviors that lead to them, but I hadn’t heard that things were getting worse. That’s a communication issue that we need to work on. (I’ll share more about this later.)

flowers

As upset as that made me, I felt better when I got home and saw two bottles of wine and a dozen pink roses waiting for me on the counter. Three glasses later and the problems of the world no longer bothered me.

medicine

Rolling around to week two and Claire woke up crying on Tuesday morning. Her right ear hurt her badly, so I brought her into our bed. Thirty minutes later and she threw up on the bed. Nick stayed home with her again, and took her to the doctor. She had a rough day, but she started perking up around 8 p.m. (and still went to bed on time!!).

The last few days of the week have actually gone smoothly. Claire’s behavior is improving (also more on that later), I’ve made it to meetings on time (and even early), and most of the dishes are clean. I have no doubt that we will continue to have struggles, and that being a working mom again won’t be easy, but I’m happy about working and having the wonderful family that I have. I’m blessed!

100 Super Important Things, Part II

Read Part I here

Better late than never, here’s Part II of my 100 Super Important Things:

What I Would Do If Money Were No Object

  1. Have a second baby
  2. Travel the world
  3. Go on wonderful adventures
  4. Volunteer a lot
  5. Read good books
  6. Drink good wine
  7. Eat good food
  8. Hire a tutor
  9. Turn a barn into a country house
  10. Renovate an old house in the city

5 Things on my Bucket List

  1. Attend a Presidential Inauguration (preferably a President I support)
  2. Finally write a novel
  3. Attend the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
  4. See all 10 things on my places to see list
  5. Start a successful business

The 5 Best Moments of My Life

  1. My wedding day
  2. Claire’s birth
  3. College graduation
  4. Nick’s proposal
  5. Finding out I was pregnant

My 5 Favorite Places

  1. My bedso comfortable
  2. My home
  3. My parent’s home
  4. Barcelo Maya Resort on the Mayan Riviera
  5. On a boat

10 Places I Need to See Before I Die

  1. The Irish countryside
  2. Paris
  3. The French Riviera
  4. London
  5. Spain
  6. Germany
  7. Italy
  8. 8. All 50 states
  9. Prague
  10. Russia

5 Things I’m Grateful For

  1. Family
  2. Health
  3. A roof over our heads
  4. Food on our table
  5. Love

10 People who Inspire & Influence Me

 

  1. Jesus
  2. My parents
  3. Barack Obama
  4. Claire McCaskill
  5. Elizabeth Warren
  6. My Grandma Irene
  7. My Grandma Faith
  8. Isabel Allende
  9. Laura Hillenbrand
  10. Pablo Picasso

100 Super Important Things, Part I

Well, this my friends, is my 100th post. Despite many stops and starts, name changes and questions about the focus of my blog, I’m proud to say I have it all figured out (for now)!

So, to celebrate, I wanted to share 100 super important things. I decided to split the post in two because these are so important that I didn’t want to overwhelm any readers.

My 10 Favorite Books

  1. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
  2. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
  3. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
  4. Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman by Jon Krakauer
  5. On Writing by Stephen King
  6. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
  7. The Heart is  a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
  8. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
  9. Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
  10. Ines of My Soul by Isabel Allende

My 10 Favorite Posts

  1. Election Day BONUS Post
  2. Last Night in Tweets
  3. Rain Taxi’s Twin Cities Book Festival
  4. Book Review: The Giver
  5. Book Review: Bringing Up Bebe
  6. My New York Fashion Week Top Picks
  7. The Book vs the Movie: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  8. Embracing the Best of the Holidays
  9. Book Review: Remarkable Creatures
  10. Winning Looks at the 64th Annual Prime Time Emmy Awards

My 10 Favorite Movies

  1. Beauty & the Beast
  2. Couple’s Retreat
  3. 8 Seconds
  4. American History X
  5. Guys and Dolls
  6. Harry Potter series
  7. Dead Poet’s Society
  8. Mona Lisa Smile
  9. The Phantom of the Opera
  10. Planes, Trains & Automobiles

10 Goals for the Blog

  1. Establish a routine posting schedule.
  2. Add a Poetry Thursday feature every week.
  3. Add new features as they become relevant.
  4. Custom design the blog.
  5. Finish categorizing and tagging everything.
  6. Increase readership
  7. Increase engagement.
  8. Learn Photoshop to develop custom blog graphics.
  9. Keep it a fun place for me to post.
  10. Evolve as needed.

10 Important Things About Me

  1. I love the feel of clean sheets. So lovely!
  2. I love Diet Coke.
  3. I’ve been married for four years to a wonderful man.
  4. I have a two and a half year old daughter is amazing, smart and cute.
  5. I’ve loved photography since high school. I wish I had the guts to pursue it.
  6. The first story I wrote that I can recall was a gift to my mom when I was in early elementary school.
  7. I have a new thing for hummingbirds.
  8. I’m a reformed organizational nut.
  9. I’m trying to be a re-reformed organizational nut.
  10. I love my Nook, but I still love the feel and look of a physical book.

I’ll be back on Friday with the remaining 50 Super Important Things. Have a great day!

The Time My Heart Swelled with Pride

Design Mom Gabrielle Blair posed an interesting question on her blog today. She asked what was the sweetest thing I’ve ever done for a stranger.

What immediately came to mind wasn’t something I’d done, but something I saw my husband do.

In May 2009, we stood waiting in line at the Las Vegas Stratosphere McDonald’s* as a disheveled man dug through a small pile of coins looking for the change he needed to pay for his meal. It became quickly obvious that he didn’t have enough money, and a palpable tension emerged in the room. I quietly watched my husband reach into his wallet and discreetly slip a $10 bill to the man.

With that seemingly little action, I felt an enormous wave of love for Nick and pride that he was mine.

There have been many moments since then when I’ve been able to witness Nick doing something equally sweet for someone, but this will always stand out to me because it was one of the first.

*I know what you’re thinking. With all the wonderful food in Las Vegas, we chose McDonald’s! I wanted an iced coffee. Shut up!