Thursday, April 30, 2009

Safe at Home

Safe at Home: Confessions of a Baseball Fanatic by Alyssa Milano, 2009 (229 pages)

I was intrigued to learn that Alyssa Milano had written a book. I clearly remember watching her every week on Who's the Boss? when I was a kid. (I loved that show!) I also know that she's a huge baseball fan who's also designed a line of clothing specifically for female baseball fans. As a huge baseball fan myself, I was interested to see what she had to say.

The book starts off strong. Within the first couple chapters, she had my eyes tearing up a time or two, and she also made me laugh out loud. Her personal voice comes through in her writing, which is nice for this kind of a book. She has a love for the game of baseball that I can relate to, which is part of the reason that I enjoyed this book. However, she definitely does more than just explain the game. She also brings in her own personal experiences throughout the book, often showing the part that baseball played in her life (and the lives of her family members).

If you're not a fan of baseball, Milano does a good job of explaining what's so fascinating about the sport. For most of the book, she simply explains the various aspects of the game that those of us who are fans already know and love. She also acknowledges some of the not-so-good aspects of the game. There are a couple chapters in the middle of the book that get a little-heavy handed. I love baseball and understand it well, and yet her chapter on the numbers of the game started to be a bit much, even for me. There were also a few places in the book where she seemed to get a bit sidetracked and went off on a tangent for a few pages.

If you already love baseball, you should give this book a try (especially if you're a woman). If you're a good friend or relative of someone who's a big fan of baseball, you should read this book. It might explain a lot about your friend. :) However, if you're only mildly interested in the sport, it's definitely still worth reading; you just might want to consider skimming through the chapters that get heavy on stats and numbers.

Total number of books read in 2009: 22
Total number of pages read in 2009: 8056

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Thursday Thirteen #9

(This image provided by Samulli.)

Last week, I took some time writing my Thursday 13 post, and then I headed over to the group website to post my link. That's when I first learned that Megan, one of the women in charge of the group website, was getting married last weekend, and everyone was encouraged to post wedding-themed 13 lists. I didn't want to scrap the post I'd already written, so I decided to save the wedding-themed list for this week. So here are 13 Things About Our Wedding.

1. We knew going into it that the date we picked wasn't going to be overly convenient. We were married on December 21, 2007. Yes, that was the Friday before Christmas. But we were engaged in April, and the Archdiocese of Denver requires couples to be engaged for at least 8 that put us in December. And I didn't want to wait until the end of the school year, so we were married on the first day of winter break.

2. It snowed on our wedding day. I woke up to sunny, blue skies, but the snow started falling by noon. By the time the storm was over, the town where the wedding was held got about 8 inches of snow.
3. Because of the afore-mentioned snowstorm, our ceremony was delayed by about 15 minutes to allow more people to arrive. As it was, a number of our guests were late to the ceremony, and a few of them didn't make it to the ceremony at all and went straight to the reception site. And yet almost every one of our guests made it eventually. I think two couples decided not to try the slick roads.

4. The girls and I had planned on getting to the church around 10:00am to start decorating and to get ready there. We were informed at the rehearsal (the night before the wedding) that we weren't allowed in the church until 3:00pm. I had to reschedule our photographer, florist, and hairstylist via phone on our way to the rehearsal dinner. But everything worked out. My hairstylist came to my apartment instead of the church, and the others just came a little later than planned.

5. Shawn's brother (the Best Man) forgot my wedding band at Shawn's house (which was about 45 minutes away from the church in good weather). Fortunately, Shawn's landlords were good family friends, and they went to his house and found my ring and brought it to the church. They arrived about 2 minutes before we said our vows and exchanged rings.

6. We had a full Catholic Mass for our wedding, despite the fact that most of our friends and none of my family is Catholic. I thought it was beautiful and very meaningful to us.

7. Shawn and I saw each other before the wedding. When we first saw each other that day, we were completely dressed for the wedding, and it was just us and our photographer in the sanctuary at the church. I really liked that we did gave us a few minutes together to just enjoy the moment, and then we didn't waste lots of time after the ceremony taking pictures.

8. We took pictures in the snow. Yes, it was cold...I was wearing a strapless dress. We actually were standing on a white blanket to keep our feet and clothes more or less dry. But the pictures are absolutely stunning!
9. We didn't use flowers at the church. We hung lanterns on each pew instead of using flowers there, and the only decor on the altar were candles and two tiny pine trees decorated with red ribbons. It was beautiful and inexpensive!10. I was sick on our wedding day. For most of the day, I was kinda drugged up on cough syrup and Sudafed. I was told that our food at the reception was really good (and I remember our taste test), but I couldn't really taste most of it that night.
11. We had two cakes. One was just a "normal" tiered wedding cake from a grocery store. It was tilting the entire night, but I didn't even notice it. The other cake was the "groom's cake." It was "sculpted" to look like a rock face we have climbed together, and there was a mini bride and groom climbing it. The chocolate cake was flavored with Guinness and the filling was flavored with Bailey's Irish Cream!

12. Our first dance was to Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Israel Kamakawio'Ole.
13. Despite all the little hitches and hiccups, our wedding day was the most wonderful and beautiful day, and it is hands' down the happiest day of my life to date. :)

Interesting sight

We live on the 3rd floor of our apartment building. Every time we come home, we get to walk up 32 steps...16 steps in the first flight of stairs, followed by two flights of 8 steps each. It's fun, especially when carrying lots of groceries or other heavy items. It's also one of the biggest reasons that I'm thrilled we had a moving company move all of our stuff in here. But I digress.

When I came home from school this afternoon, on the landing after the second set of stairs, I just happened to casually look up and over at the building across the parking lot from us. And this is what I saw:'s a raccoon. On the roof of a 3-story building. I thought he was cute, and obviously, I grabbed my camera and took a few pictures. After watching him for awhile, a thought occurred to me. This guy can get onto the roof of the building. If he can climb onto the roof, then certainly he'd be capable of climbing onto our porch. Because we live on the 3rd floor, I often leave the sliding door open on our porch (with just the screen door shut) at night. I'm thinking, though, that this hefty fellow would probably have no problem getting himself through our screen door. And I'm also now thinking that our newly planted veggies may not be as safe on our porch as I assumed they'd be. Hm.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Putting Down Roots

(Thanks to Shawn for the catchy post title.) :)
Sometime last fall, I started thinking that it would be really nice to grow some of our own veggies. I borrowed a book from the library a couple months ago about making a container garden, and it certainly seems do-able. It's also slightly daunting at the same time, though, since I'm obviously not very familiar yet with this climate. For example, I think I have a pretty good idea of how much sun our porch gets each day, but we haven't lived here during a summer yet, so I'm not sure exactly where the sun will be in, say, July...or where the shadows will fall.

So this past Sunday, Shawn and I bit the bullet and headed to the garden center. We spent some time looking around, trying to get an idea of what plants are available around here. We decided to go with a tomato plant that's already been started. We're also going to attempt some peas and carrots from seed. Here are the containers we started on Sunday:
We're really looking at this whole project as an experiment and as something different to try together. Neither of us has ever attempted gardening before (unless you count us helping our parents when we were kids), and we have no idea if this is going to work at all. But hey...plants naturally want to grow, right? So we'll try our best to give them sunshine and water, and we'll keep our fingers crossed. :)When we were at the garden center, we also thought it might be nice to get a pot of flowers. Shawn wasn't really sure about it until I pointed out the Columbine to him. :) Since it's the Colorado state flower, we decided to get a pot for the nostalgia factor. Hopefully we'll keep these alive for awhile, too!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Great Sunday!

We had a really great day on Sunday! We started out by getting up and going to an earlier Mass than normal. After Mass, a couple we've recently become friends with invited us to go out to brunch with them, so we did. It's nice having friends in the area!

After brunch, we headed towards downtown. We thought about going to Pike Market, but we decided to skip it and just head to Gas Works Park. We decided first, though, to go find the Fremont Troll. Fremont is a neighborhood in Seattle, and in 1990, four area artists sculpted a huge troll under a bridge. You can read the story here. It was pretty easy to find, and of course Shawn had to climb up onto its head. :)
After visiting the troll, we went to Gas Works Park. This is an area on the north shore of Lake Union (across the lake from downtown) that used to be a plant to manufacture gas from coal. The land is now owned by the city, and most of the original gas works are still there (hence the name). We had a fun time just relaxing in the sun and throwing the frisbee around.On our way home, we made a trip to the garden center to finally buy some pots, soil, plants, and seeds! I'll post pics of all that later this week.
Then, in the evening, we "recreated" our first date. We went to Boston's for some pizza, and then we played a few games of pool before heading home. It was definitely an awesome Sunday!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

4 Years

Today is April 25th. Four years ago today on April 25th, 2005, Shawn and I met and went on our first date. Yes, you read that right. Since we technically "met" online, our first date was also the first date we met in person. It was a really fun, wonderful date. :)

We met for dinner at the Wazee Supper Club in downtown Denver. It's a fun restaurant with really good pizza. Here is a picture of the place. In this picture, you can actually see where we were sitting. :) We were against the windows, just to the right of those doors you can see to that blue light (to the right of it).
After sharing a yummy pepperoni pizza and enjoying our conversation, we decided to walk a few blocks away to the Wynkoop Brewery. On the upper floor, they have pool tables and foosball tables, so we played pool for a couple of hours. Neither of us is very good at pool, but we had lots of fun anyways. There was lots of laughter and flirtation, and we ended up staying there until they closed the place (at midnight). That was on a Monday night, and I had school the next morning! But I think it was well worth it. :)
We obviously really hit it off that night...and it's been an absolutely wonderful four years!!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Confessions of a Shopaholic

Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella, 2001 (312 pages)

I enjoy reading Sophie Kinsella's books. This is the first book in the series featuring Rebecca Bloomwood. Becky is a legitimate shopaholic (hence the title). The basic premise of this book is simple; Becky's spending habits are completely out of control. She is overdrawn on her bank accounts and all of her credit cards. Creditors are constantly sending her letters and leaving her phone messages, which of course stresses her out. However, when she gets stressed out...she shops and the problem is compounded. To add a bit of irony to the story, Becky's job is that of a financial journalist. She makes her living writing articles in a financial magazine, giving money advice to other people.

This is what I've noticed about Kinsella's books. The problems faced by her characters are sometimes not very realistic, but in this book, they are. Lots of people can relate to the stresses caused by poor financial management. However, the solutions to the problems in Kinsella's books tend to be completely unrealistic...and that's the case here, too. There were many times throughout the story when I really wanted to give Becky a good slap and tell her to wake up and stop what she's doing. And yet, I found Becky to be a likeable character. Even though she is completely addicted to shopping and is making terrible decisions in her life (and tends to get completely caught up in unrealistic being absolutely sure she's going to win the lottery in order to solve her financial problems), she has moments of brilliance and compassion.

So although there are lots of elements of this book that are unrealistic, I still really enjoyed it. It's a quick, easy read that occasionally made me laugh. And it was a nice little escape into a world that is completely different than mine. I haven't seen the movie, although from the commercials I've seen for it, I get the impression that several elements were changed from book to movie (as is usually the case). I have a feeling that I'd like the book better. :)

Total number of books read in 2009: 21
Total number of pages read in 2009: 7827

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Thursday Thirteen #8

(This image provided by Samulli.)

I realized that I've dropped the ball on this lately, but I figured I'd get back into participating in the Thursday 13. Before I give this week's list, I should explain something. My dad has always loved traveling, especially to Europe. Before he met my mom, he used to spend his summers taking groups of students to Europe for weeks on end with People to People. So when my brother and I got old enough to appreciate it, the family started traveling. By the time I went to college, I had been to Europe 3 times...but I'd never been further west than Indiana. :)

So this week's list is 13 Countries that I've Visited.

1. England: This was the first European country my parents took us to, and it's the country I've visited the most often.

2. Ireland: When I was 15, I actually went on a missions trip to Ireland, so I stayed there for 7 weeks that summer.

3. Italy: I've been here 3 times. I really love Rome and Venice, but my favorite might be Assisi.

4. France: I've been to Paris twice; I'll admit it's not my favorite place. I'd be willing to try it again, though. :)

5. Germany: In 2000, I had the chance to go to Oberammergau to see their Passion Play. It's a pretty cool experience.

6. Austria: It's been awhile since I was last here, but I remember really liking Vienna.

7. Belgium: I'll admit I don't remember much about Belgium. I do remember getting some really good chocolate, and I remember driving near Flanders Field.

8. Liechtenstein: I literally spent about an hour in this country once. But seriously...the place is tiny. The entire country only has an area of 62 square miles.

9. Holland: I think I was only here once. Here's what I remember about Holland...windmills, a cheese factory, the Anne Frank attic, pictures of marijuana leaves on T-shirts.

10. Switzerland: It was in Switzerland where I first went to a snow-covered mountain in July. I threw snowballs at my dad. :)

11. Canada: I've been to Niagara Falls and Toronto with my family. I also went a couple times to Quebec to stay with a friend of mine in high school, and Shawn and I have gone just inside the border of British Columbia for rugby.

12. Mexico: My friend Leanne used to live in El Paso, Texas, and she and her husband worked as missionaries, building houses in Juarez, Mexico. I went to visit Leanne a few years ago, and she took me to the building site. It was eye opening to see the living conditions just south of the U.S. border.

13. Jamaica: We spent a week in Ocho Rios on our honeymoon! It was awesome, and we'd love to go back!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Never Let Me Go

Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro, 2005 (288 pages)

I'm not exactly sure what drew me to this book. I know that it's on the list of "1001 Books You Must Read," so maybe that's where I first considered it. I also know that it tends to get good reviews/comments on the Nest's book club board. But really, I knew very little about the book before I requested it from the library.

This is from the front cover flap of the book: "As a child, Kathy -- now thirty-one years old -- lived at Hailsham, a private school in the scenic English countryside where the children were sheltered from the outside world, brought up to believe that they were special and that their well-being was crucial not nly for themselves but for the society they would eventually enter." Kathy narrates the story, looking back on her past at the school. It is a story of friendship and the difficulties that children experience as they grow older; however, the reader can quickly see that there is more going on in this story than a simple story about children living at a private school. There is a subtle, underlying mystery that is slowly revealed as Kathy remembers various scenes from her childhood that hold some significance for her as an adult.

I know that this isn't a very detailed explanation of the book, but I don't want to give anything away. Just before I started reading the book, I learned something rather important about the story that basically ruined the "mystery" for me, and I'd rather not give that away here (in case anyone reading this actually wants to go read the book). Overall, I thought that Never Let Me Go was a very good, well-written book, and I think I would've enjoyed it even more if I had been able to be more surprised by the plot.

Sidenote: This was the 20th book I've read so far this year! I think I'm on pace to read about 60!

Total number of books read in 2009: 20
Total number of pages read in 2009: 7515

Monday, April 20, 2009

8 Things

My friend Bev posted this survey-type thingy on her blog, so I figured I would, too. Here you go!

8 Things I’m Looking Forward To:
  1. Warmer weather and sunshine!
  2. My brother's wedding in NC in June
  3. My friend Shannon's wedding in St. Louis in June (and seeing a bunch of my old college friends at the same time)
  4. Going back to Colorado for a visit in June/July
  5. Eventually becoming a home owner (hopefully in the not-too-distant future)
  6. Becoming a mom (don't get all definite plans for that yet, either)
  7. Hanging out with Shawn tonight and watching Heroes
  8. Seeing if I can manage to make a few plants grow this summer

8 Things I Did Yesterday:

  1. Went to early Mass with Shawn (8:00am...that's early for me)
  2. Baked chocolate chip cookies
  3. Scrubbed the toilets
  4. Vacuumed the carpets
  5. Discussed Water for Elephants with a couple of friends
  6. Watched the Indians/Yankees game
  7. Finished one book and started reading another
  8. Fell asleep on the couch, snuggled up with Shawn, while he was watching TV

8 Things I Wish I Could Do:

  1. Have more energy early in the morning
  2. Change the school schedule so that I wouldn't have to be to work until at least 8:00am
  3. See my friends and family more often
  4. Cook really well without having to use recipes
  5. Speak a language other than English fluently
  6. Figure out what advice to give the Cleveland Indians so that they would win the World Series this year
  7. Go back to Jamaica with Shawn
  8. Actually finish that darn blanket I started crocheting months ago

8 Shows I Watch:

  1. LOST
  2. Heroes
  3. The Amazing Race
  4. Biggest Loser
  5. House
  6. Scrubs
  7. Friends (still love watching all those old reruns!)
  8. Mythbusters/Dirty Jobs/Deadliest Catch...lots of Discovery Channel shows with Shawn

8 People I Tag:

**I don't really like tagging people, so if you read this blog and would like to do the little survey, go for it! And let me know you did it so that I can read your answers, too. :)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Evil Under the Sun

Evil Under the Sun, by Agatha Christie, 1940 (202 pages)

It's been a long time since I've read a mystery, and I definitely enjoyed this one. If you haven't read any Agatha Christie novels, this is a good one to start with. My dad is a huge Christie fan, and I can see why. Throughout the book, I was trying to figure out who the murderer was. I did catch a detail/clue that was right, but I followed it the wrong direction. When the crime was solved, I was definitely surprised. One thing that I enjoyed about this book is that the reader is given all of the clues that the detective is given, so you really can try to figure it out while you're reading.

The main reason I picked this book up was for the LOST books challenge. This is one of the books that Sawyer is seen reading, during Season 3, episode 14 ("Expose'"). The title itself is something that needs to be kept in mind while watching LOST, as well. The characters in the book mention a few times that "there is evil everywhere under the sun." Including the island. :)

I also wanted to point out that I have technically finished my LOST Books Challenge. Since January, I have read 5 books that have been mentioned and/or used on the show: The Stand by Stephen King, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle, Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut, On the Road by Jack Kerouac, and Evil Under the Sun by Agatha Christie. I do have plans, however, to read at least a few more of the books used on the show. When I do read them, I'll be sure to note how I think they may tie in to LOST.
Total number of books read in 2009: 19
Total number of pages read in 2009: 7227

Thursday, April 16, 2009


No, I'm not trying to figure out whether or not something on the blog is working...I'm literally writing about testing. :)

I was skimming back through the blog posts from the past couple of months. Have I seriously not mentioned the irritating tests that I had to take? If I have and just couldn't find the posts, I apologize. But since I think I avoided complaining until now, let me explain.

If you're not familiar with the teaching profession here in the U.S., you should know that a teacher must be licensed in order to teach in a public school. Each and every state has its own licensing requirements, and you need to have a license for the specific state in which you plan to teach. When I first graduated from college, I had a license in Ohio. Then I moved to Colorado and had to apply for (and pay for) a license there. Fortunately, everything I had done for my Ohio license "counted" for the Colorado one, so all I had to do was pass Colorado's English/Language Arts content test at some point during my first three years of teaching there. I took the test and passed on the first try, but I remember it being pretty hard.

Fast forward a bunch of years...we move to Washington. This means I need to apply for (and pay for) a new license here. Because of my Colorado license and 8 years of teaching experience, I was able to get a one-year temporary license by just submitting a bunch of paperwork (and fingerprints) and paying a bunch of money. However, in order to get a "permanent" license, I had to take and pass some tests.

I had to provide the state of Washington with my official score report showing passing scores on the Praxis reading, writing, and math tests. I did these tests (and passed them) while I was a sophomore in college. That was 1997. However...a couple years ago, while going through a "purging of the clutter" phase, I threw those test scores away, thinking I'd never need them again. Oops. And since I took the tests more than ten years ago, I couldn't order another score report from Praxis. So I had to take (and pay you see a theme here?) these tests on April 4th. Yes...I had to take (and pass) a math test to prove to the state of Washington that I am capable of teaching high school English. I'm not bitter about that...really. I didn't think the tests were very hard, and I think I'm supposed to get my scores on April 27th.

I also had to take and pass Washington's English/Language Arts content test. It's literally the exact same test that Colorado uses (I compared the websites), but of course, showing my Colorado scores wasn't good enough. So I paid for this test, and I took it March 14th. Fortunately, this time around, I thought it was pretty easy. I was able to get my scores earlier this week, and my "scale" score was a 200. The best score you can get? A 200. I guess I proved to the state that I do know what I'm talking about. Good thing I took a 120-question multiple choice test to show them that. Because they definitely couldn't have figured it out from the fact that I have a degree in English Literature, 24 hours of grad credit in English Education, and 8 years experience of teaching English/Language Arts in Colorado.

Nope. I'm not bitter. :)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

On the Road

On the Road, by Jack Kerouac, 1957 (307 pages)

I decided to read this book for two reasons. Number one, it's a book that's referenced on LOST, so I used it as one of my books for the LOST Books Challenge. But number two, I know that it's widely considered to be an incredibly influential book in American literature. I've always been somewhat embarrassed by the fact that I'm an English teacher who had never read anything by Jack Kerouac.

I did not like this book. I'm pretty sure this is the first time I've given a book only one star on Goodreads. Where was the plot?! Where was the conflict?! Where was there a likeable character?

I knew before reading it that it was basically Kerouac's story of his travels across the country (hence the title). But I thought it would be a story of adventure and soul searching while going across the country (and maybe back). No. He goes from NYC to San Fran. Then back. Then back to San Fran. Then NYC. Then SF. Then NYC. You see a pattern developing? Sure, he took different routes, so he also made several stops in Denver (can you blame him?), and once he went through New Orleans. But everywhere he went, the story was the same. Women, alcohol, drugs, hitchhiking. His friends were even more crazy and ridiculous than the narrator.

That's not much of a plot. I don't care if he did describe the beautiful landscapes of America along the way, or the feeling of being in a jazz club. I think there may have been some conflict going on with the characters as far as the "itch" to get out and drive...but if that was supposed to be the conflict, it never did get resolved (in my opinion).

I know that there are plenty of people who consider this to be an amazingly brilliant piece of writing, and there are plenty of people who consider this to be a masterpiece of literature. I don't get it.

To figure out how this book relates to LOST, I'll admit that I had to go look this one up on Lostpedia. I had forgotten that when Ben leaves the island and ends up in Tunisia, he uses the name Dean Moriarity when he checks in to his hotel. That actually makes sense. In the book, Dean is a guy who constantly lies to people in order to make things better or easier for himself. He hurts the people he supposedly loves and should probably be attempting to take care of (like his wives and children). He never gives a moment's thought to how his actions will affect those around him. Yep...Dean and Ben have a lot in common.

Total number of books read in 2009: 18
Total number of pages read in 2009: 7025

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Our Easter

I just realized that I never actually said anything about our Easter celebration. We had a good day. We had been planning on starting the day with a little rock climbing, but it was raining pretty steadily, and wet rocks tend to be pretty slippery.

Remember I mentioned that a new young adults' group has been started at church? Well, one of the couples who is "in charge" of the group (Annie and Tony) invited us to their house for Easter dinner, so that's where we went! We had a really good time. There were about 12 people there at some point (not everyone could stay the entire time), and everyone brought food to share. We had good conversations and played some fun games. Shawn and I were both pretty good at Apples to Apples (which neither of us had played before), but then another couple showed up and that guy was unbeatable. We also played a few rounds of Spoons. That's another fun game that I had only ever played once Shawn's aunt and uncle's house last Easter!

It was really nice hanging out with and getting to know people our age (more or less) in this area. We've definitely missed our Colorado friends since moving out here, so I'm really glad to begin making some new ones! We learned something interesting about the couple who hosted Easter dinner. They were just married in February, and since she's a teacher, they're waiting until this summer to take their honeymoon. Turns out, they're going to the exact same resort in Jamaica that Shawn and I went to on our honeymoon!

Since everyone was asked to bring food, I tried to do my part. I made and brought dinner rolls, the same kind I made at Thanksgiving. I'll admit it on here...I used a dry mix for the rolls instead of making them from scratch. It's like a cake just add the wet ingredients to make the dough. But I did also have to add the herbs (I chose to make the "herbed" version), knead the dough, let it rest, shape the rolls, and let them rise before baking. So when Annie asked what I put in them, I let her think I made them from scratch. Close enough. [:)]

I also made my friend Ashlee's Mexican Wedding Cookies. I made them back in December for that book club meeting that never took place.
And just to make sure we had enough dessert, I decided to make cupcakes, too. I used the Williams Sonoma recipe for Vanilla Cupcakes, which I also got from Ashlee's blog. And then I used canned frosting. [:)] (Speaking of which...I just might have to go get a spoonful of that frosting from the fridge. Can't let it go to waste!)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Carving the Rabbit

I'm not sure this is what our electric carving knife was originally intended to be used for, but Shawn found it entertaining.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter!! Shawn and I hope that you are all enjoying this blessed day! Easter is one of my favorite days of the year, and I like to celebrate it by observing all of the days of the Triduum.

The Triduum begins with Holy Thursday. This is the day that the church commemorates the Last Supper that Jesus shared with his disciples. Of course, the Last Supper is when Christ instituted the practice of Holy Communion, but something else happened that night, too. Before they ate, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. This humbling event really symbolized everything Christ stood for, and what Christians everywhere should emulate. In the act of washing the disciples' feet, Jesus put their needs above his own, and he showed a desire to serve them in whatever way he could.

On Good Friday, the church commemorates the death of Jesus on the cross. Good Friday is a day of fasting, and many Catholics also observe a time of silence from noon to 3:00pm, symbolic of the time that Jesus spent on the cross. There is no Mass on Good Friday, and the services that day are very quiet and solemn. The church has been stripped of all decor, and the focus of the service is reading the Passion of Christ and the veneration of the cross.

Shawn and I enjoy going to the Easter Vigil Mass, which takes place on Saturday night. It begins after sundown, and it starts with the lighting of the new Easter candle (which is used in various liturgies throughout the year). The Mass begins in a very solemn manor, in a church lit mostly by candlelight. After the Old Testament readings, the Gloria is sung as the lights are turned on, symbolizing Christ's presence on earth. Before the Gospel reading, the Alleluia is sung for the first time since Lent began. We can now say or sing Alleluia because Jesus has risen from the dead! The Easter Vigil Mass is also when converts are admitted into the Catholic church, so most Vigil Masses will include baptisms and confirmations. This weekend is the 8th anniversary of my conversion to the Catholic church.

I really liked the way Father Ward explained the Triduum during Holy Thursday Mass. He said that on Holy Thursday, we commemorate and celebrate the life and service of Jesus. On Good Friday, we commemorate and celebrate his death for us on the cross. And on Easter, we commemorate and celebrate his resurrection!

Alleluia!! He is risen! So it is definitely a Happy Easter. :)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Visit Home

I just got back to Washington last night after spending a few days in Ohio visiting my family. I flew out there Sunday afternoon/night (my flight left Seattle at 2:40 and I arrived in Akron at 11:40ish). Flying west to east is always a bit annoying, since you lose 3 hours of the day because of the time zone difference.

I didn't really do much while I was home, but that's okay. I hadn't made any plans. My main point in taking the trip was to meet my future sister-in-law (before my brother's wedding in June), and I just wanted to spend time with the family. After spending a few days at home, I think that my brother's fiance seems like a nice girl...and he seems happy. :) I think that both she and I tend to be a little quiet around people we don't know very well, but I think we'll get along pretty well. My brother keeps telling me how much Leslie and I have in common, so it'll be nice getting to know her better over the next few months/years.

My niece ended up being at my parents' house most of the time that I was there. This was a nice surprise, but unfortunately, she was there so much because she was sick. So she really wasn't her usual bubbly, adorable self for most of Monday and Tuesday. Yesterday she finally started behaving more "normal." She'll be 3 in May, and I'm looking forward to getting to hang out with her more when we're all in NC for my brother's wedding in June.

And that's about it! I wish it could've been a longer trip home, but a quick trip is definitely better than nothing. I'll get to spend about a week with my family in June, which will be nice.

Since this is spring break, I still get to relax a little at home before I have to go back to work on Monday. Tonight, I'll be going to the young adults' group meeting at church (after Holy Thursday Mass) while Shawn goes to rugby practice.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Oops...I missed it!

Oops...I missed my "blogiversary"! I began this blog and wrote my first post on April 2nd, 2008. I gave a disclaimer about quite possibly having nothing to write about, but I promised to do my best. You can read the full (short) post here. :)

So...although I'm a few days late on this, happy blogiversary to me! Although I've certainly gone through my periods where I haven't posted much (often because I was out of town or in the process of moving across the country), I think I've done a fairly good job of coming up with something to say on a fairly regular basis.

Here are a few stats from the first year of my blog, according to my ClustrMap:
  • I have written and published 208 blog posts.
  • I have had approximately 8,316 hits on my blog.
  • Before it was archived a few days ago, my ClustrMap looked like this, proving that I've had visitors from literally all over the world:

  • In the last two days, I've had visitors to this blog from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Romania, New Zealand, and Brazil.
  • The post that has received the most comments was one of my Thursday 13 posts (which I do planning on getting back to doing...maybe not tomorrow, but definitely next week).
  • Of the non-Thursday-13 posts, the ones receiving the most comments have been My First Scarf, Final Fish Update, and Thanksgiving Dinner.

I do always love getting comments on my blog, so please feel free to leave one anytime! Also, after a year of writing, I do sometimes feel like I have nothing to say, so if you have a question for me, or if you have an idea of something I should write about, let me know!

For the next year...well, I'm sure there will be things going on in our lives that I'll find to write about. If nothing else, Shawn wants a puppy. :)

Monday, April 6, 2009


Moloka'i by Alan Brennert, 2003 (389 pages)

I decided to read this book after reading lots of rave reviews on the Nest's Book Club board. I knew very little about it when I picked it up, other than the fact that it takes place in Hawaii and that it's historical fiction.

Moloka'i is the name of one of the Hawaiian islands, and in the 19th and part of the 20th centuries, it's where Hawaiians were sent if they had leprosy (or Hansen's disease). The book begins in 1891, following the story of Rachel Kalama and her family. Their world changes drastically when Rachel, at the age of seven, is diagnosed with leprosy. Eventually, she is shipped off to Moloka'i and the leper colony of Kaulapapa. In an effort to stop the spread of the disease, anyone who was found to have leprosy was isolated from everyone else. Even when her family visited her in the "hospital" before she was shipped off, no physical contact could be made.

The story follows Rachel as she grows up. Her story is a very touching one, as it is full of both love and heartache. Rachel learns what it means to lose the people that she loves at a very early age, and yet that never stops her from loving others and being a good person. The book also includes a very interesting perspective of Hawaiian history...the reader learns things as Rachel does; first as a child, then as an outcast who is isolated from the rest of the world. For instance, she is on the island of Moloka'i when Pearl Harbor is attacked. The residents of Kaulapapa hear about it on the radio, and once radio contact ends, they climb to the top of a crater, which allows them to see the smoke billowing up from O'ahu.

I really enjoyed reading this book. It easily held my attention and entertained me through 2 hours of waiting in the terminal and 2 three-hour plane flights yesterday. :) Especially if you enjoy historical fiction, I highly recommend this book.
Total number of books read in 2009: 17
Total number of pages read in 2009: 6718

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Meeting People

Do you ever find yourself assuming that people who write blogs are outgoing individuals? With the blogs I read, I think I tend to assume that the writers of those blogs would be the life of the party. Someone who has no problem chatting it up with people they barely know. Someone who's good at small talk.

I'm not really sure why I assume that about bloggers, because that's certainly not me! I'm not painfully shy, but I am an introvert. Sure, I can carry on a conversation with someone, and I have no problem standing up and talking in front of a group of people. However, I'm not one to just strike up a conversation (let alone a friendship) with some random person. Because of this, and because of not working until recently, I don't have an easy time making friends. Where am I supposed to meet people if I'm not in school and I don't have a job? That's one reason I've been enjoying the book club...even if it only meets once a month, that's something!

So I was absolutely thrilled last weekend when an announcement was made at church...a young adults' group is starting up! One thing that I've really missed over the last few years is friends that share my faith. When we first started talking about moving, I told Shawn that I really wanted to find a church that would have opportunities for us to get involved, and it would be even better if they had a class or something that would be geared towards our age group.

The first meeting of the new group was tonight. There were about 15 or 20 people who came, many of whom were young married couples. Ironically, it seemed like the majority of people were either engineers or teachers! In addition to dinner, tonight's meeting was basically a get-to-know-you meeting, as well as a time to talk about what the plan is for the group. I know that first impressions can be misleading, but I have a feeling that there are at least a few people in the group that Shawn and I would get along with really well. And I think the group leaders have the right's going to be a mix of spiritual growth activities and socializing!

So I'm really excited about this. I think this is going to be the perfect opportunity to start making some good friends in this area, and the huge bonus is that it will also help me in my spiritual growth as well!