Kerri Maniscalco is bloody brilliant! I just got done listening to this on audio. The British accented orator was so fun to listen to, but the writing was mesmerizing. The plot kept me wanting more, and the characterization is spot on. I didn’t know much about Jack the Ripper when I started this read, but one way we know that Maniscalco was successful is that I now know more than before AND I want to keep on Ripper research for my own. This is a book that I will be recommending to MANY students. It’s a very engaging novel.
“But even with all that others were willing to offer me, I realized along the way that ultimately nothing they did could make me happy. I felt comforted by family and my faith, but peace was different from happiness. At first I thought stubbornly that the only thing that would make me happy was for my life to look like it did before the accident. But no one could give that to me, and no one else could make me happy. Happiness was my choice, and though it is hard won, I am the only person who can stand in the way of it.”
I wholeheartedly concur that happiness is a choice. I often hear people complain about their lives and I understand that complaining is a tempting choice (one I give into often), but I guess I have learned the hard way that complaining doesn’t accomplish anything. In fact, if anything, complaining does nothing but make everything seem worse.
I concur that happiness is a choice, but I like how Stephanie put it: It is hard won. I don’t think we just say, “O.k. I am going to be happy,” and then we are magically happy. I think that we say, “I am going to choose happiness,” and then we alter our choices to make sure we are happy. It requires a lot of exercise to do this, but I have found that I have become a lot better at happiness as I have matured.
Here are the ways I have changed to become a happier person:
How do you choose happiness? I would love to have more happy tools in my arsenal.
Oh and I love this song from the broadway show No, No, Nanette.
But it sure was a bummer when I figured out that the song was full of one really big lie.
We can absolutely be happy even when other people aren’t.
In fact maybe that’s the most important time to choose it for ourselves, when others around us are always miserable because misery loves company and who wants to be the miserable company.
I got up at 7 am and tried all day to blog and between three non-working keys on the laptop (that have fixed themselves miraculously) and the million other interruptions/to-do items, I never even typed in the blog url to get started until ten o’clock tonight. How I’ve needed to write. It’s silly, this love affair I have with writing. It’s as if the blank page is my sanctuary. I fill it up and become the sanctuary for myself.
Firefly Lane is my latest read. My 4-star review can be found over on GoodReads. The book is about two best friends over a thirty year period of time. It was heart wrenching and touching in every single decade. It made me wish for a friendship like that of fictional Kate and Tully. I have great friends but none who know me as well as these two knew one another and none who have been around and close for 30 years. Well, maybe my sisters count. I’ve known them a long time and they are pretty intimate with my insanity.
As I set down this book upon completion I was overcome with the idea that relationships are all that matter. The only thing I am taking with me when I die is my relationship with God, my relationship with myself, my relationship with my family, and my relationship with my fellow human beings. That’s it.
I can hope that I can take my relationship with paper and a pen but it ain’t gonna happen. Anything I write is stuck in mortality. Hmm. Maybe that’s not actually true. Maybe this explains my love with language. Like Kristin Hannah, I can write something that could inspire someone to have better relationships. If I do, they will take that inspiration with them….take my words with them. Even though that is a total tangent, it’s cool.
It lifted my spirits today to know that material stuff is petty. It’s not necessary for a happy fulfilled life. Sometimes its a hindrance.
So, life has been pretty crappy around here lately. Our landlord decided to sell the house we have been renting for the past two and a half years. We have a home here and love our neighborhood, but now we have been forced to move on. It’s been hard and emotional.
Not only is it hard to leave our beloved home, it’s also hard because LG and I made the decision to be financially responsible and make a significant downgrade. The downgrade is depressing yet necessary so that we can save money to not just get into our own home again but to be financially secure once we get there. We could have borrowed money to buy the house we are in and saved ourselves the hassle of moving, but if and when the furnace went out, we’d be in trouble. We have learned the hard way that we really don’t want to borrow money and we also don’t want to put ourselves in a position to need to be rescued.
So in the next few weeks we will be leaving our four bedroom 2,600 square foot home with a beautiful yard and a heaven-like neighborhood to reside in a 1,400 square foot 3 bedroom basement apartment with ONE bathroom!! It just sucks. There is no other way around it. There is nothing worse than knowing I am a parent who is failing my kids. They aren’t getting the stability we want them to have. They don’t get a lot of what we want them to have. What feels really crappy is knowing if we hadn’t taken our vacation last year to Disneyland, we may have had a different outcome now. If I would have known at the time that I was choosing future stability over one nice vacation for my kids before they fly from the nest, I don’t know what I would have done.
I do know one thing: I’m not taking my place of residence with me when I go, but we will all hopefully take with us the memories that were made. We will even take with us the memories we are going to make while fighting over the one toilet for the next few years. Somehow that makes this broken mom feel o.k. with it all. It also makes me feel better to know that the relationships I’ve forged in our current home are not just gone because I am moving, they will continue with me forever.
My life is so beautiful. I don’t say that to brag or feel better than you but I say it because it is true. God has repeatedly opened my eyes to the beauty of Him, the beauty around me, and the beauty inside me. I bet your life is pretty amazing too whether you realize it or not. It is hard for me to believe that my gratitude can grow more and more every day because sometimes my days are hard, but by practicing gratitude even my bad days seems good. Sometimes I am so filled with love and gratitude that I feel like I could burst, so I usually just bawl for a second or two to get it out.
A friend brought over roast beef, protein shakes, and ovulation kits (which I may be giving back after further consideration.) She couldn’t use any of the three because she is pregnant. Being thought of was wonderful but sharing her joy in her pregnancy was the better part. The time she took to visit meant more than the consumables.
Logan and Jill went to Abigail’s soccer game and my heart was full to know that my daughter has support from an extended family too. They also took the girls for an adventure and they all seemed to have a blast. Visiting with Logan and Jill and our girls while we debated between Harry Potter vs. Percy Jackson was an extremely enjoyable evening that will remain with me forever.
LG and I got to go see Diana Krall as our belated 16th anniversary gift to ourselves. We bought the tickets early in the summer when our savings account was a lot more full. It was such a beautiful concert and an enjoyable evening together. LG had a $10 Red Robin gift-card leftover from his birthday too and so even though our budget barely had the stretching room for the drive to SLC, we were still able to go and enjoy a meal out as part of the evening.
Even though it meant we had to eat more frugally I was finally able to pay down some doctor bills. This year we were put on a high deductible plan that means we pretty much have to pay for all of our medical expenses out of our pocket. It’s been a rough transition but we’ve survived. We may even end the year with every doctor bill paid in full.
The van’s engine light went off again and then came back on. It makes me smile when it is on or when it is off.
I have an opportunity to volunteer with The United Way in their Welcome Baby program. I will get to go and visit new moms and take them a little care package (donated by the community) and discuss important parts of mom and baby health. I’m really excited about this service opportunity. Mothering is a passion.
The neighbor Teresa brought over homemade salsa. It was way better then what I make.
We got to go to General Conference last week. I really love the perks of living in Utah. We also get to go to the temple on a monthly basis. Being so close to church headquarters is a huge blessing in our lives right now.
Abigail is getting straight A’s because she wants to and that makes me feel like we’ve done something really right. She wants to get a college scholarship and she is planning ahead.
LG thought he had a job offer in China but it ended up being a scam. It didn’t work out but it was sure fun for our family to have the excitement for a day. It was kind of a bummer coming down off of it, but I learned a really cool lesson: it’s about family. Our kids were ready to leave all their comforts and take an adventure. They didn’t even bat an eyelash. Abigail’s exact words, “It’s freaking China, mom. Who cares about my clothes, prom, or American boys. Let’s go!”
Jennifer brought over banana bread on a rough day. Sometimes the littlest gestures are a really big deal.
After caring for a friend with a bad back, she gave us a bucket of apples to say thanks. It was unexpected and unnecessary but pretty wonderful…especially since she packaged it up in the cutest ever red bucket.
Everyone is healthy. I take that for granted, but having so many friends pass through trials of sickness and hospitalizations this past month has made me so grateful for our health. I just got done reading Heaven is for Real and reading about Colton’s hospitalization brought back the three awful days of 2005 when 2-year-old Bella was in the hospital with a serious respiratory virus. I was so scared. Not only am I grateful for our health, I am grateful for all the healing we’ve had collectively over the years.
Reading the book also solidified a beautiful message from God about my last miscarriage. The pastor who wrote the book and his wife came to the same conclusion that I have about a miscarried baby. I had a pretty spiritual experience in the temple after mine occurred. A child came to me and told me not to forget him. I originally thought it meant I was supposed to have another baby or adopt some kids, but I am becoming at peace with the fact that maybe I will raise up that child in the millennium. That will be a blessing of no description so why mourn now?
LG gave me a priesthood blessing that said the Lord was pleased with the way I am raising my kids. Is there really anything better that I could ever hear?
A friend going through rough times chose to be grateful and told me I was her inspiration. It made me so happy not to be the inspiration but to see her able to have happiness during tough times.
After running 6 miles in 54 minutes the other days I bawled like a baby for my quarter mile warm down. God does strengthen, enable, and bless us when we seek him. I was so very grateful to Him for my physical strength.
Amy and Tyler had a baby. No really. Amy and Tyler had a baby!! After 15+ years of infertility and unsuccessful In-vitro and 2 cool adopted kids, my brother and sister in law were blessed with a little miracle biological baby girl.
LG and I have never been better, but helping other ladies at church going through hard times has helped me remember how far we’ve come and how grateful I should be to have a husband who didn’t give up, who works hard for our family, and who loves me wholeheartedly.
I had a profound feeling of love contentment and joy walking with Caroline along the sidewalks of SLC while people lined the streets singing hymns. I felt the spirit of the Lord testifying to me that He is in charge of the whole earth.
I know he watches over me. Which brings me to a song….
My latest read is Rules of Civility by Amor Towles.
I don’t know if it could really be considered a book about happiness,
but it is definitely a tale of how NOT to be happy.
I’ve enjoyed it. It must have been so liberal for its time.
I’ve been having a lazy day with Caroline finishing up the last 50 pages
and the above quote was such a beautiful way to explain
what I love most about my husband that I had to come and write.
I haven’t even finished the last few pages yet.
Being married is the best thing that has ever happened to me in this life. It is also the hardest thing that I have ever done. Staying in love takes a lot of work, but it is the best kind of work that I make myself want to do. Funny the other day a lady at church came up to me to tell me that going to marriage counseling was unnecessary. It was almost as if she thought I had crossed some line of impropriety. Meanwhile she lives in a loveless marriage. I tried to explain to her that marriage counseling is a wonderful tool that my husband and I use to both get what we want. I am so grateful to have a really good counselor. LG and I both have never been healthier or happier.
Back to the above quote. Reading those two short lines brought back a flood of images of times when I observed my husband with such great love I thought I would burst. I didn’t realize when they occurred that those moments were so special because they were when his boy and his man collided. One of the most beautiful parts of sharing a life with a partner is knowing them better than anyone else in the world. Knowing their self in the present and the past and therefore the future also. Knowing where they’ve come from is sacred but knowing what they will become is the most powerful. Being with my man in the past and present is my greatest privilege second only to the future of guaranteed togetherness that lies ahead.
So, I want to write those moments before I forget them.
The moments when my husband was perhaps the most beautiful to me, when his man and boy were both present:
Riding bikes along a trail together. (He used to love to fill his backpack and leave for a whole Saturday with his Vienna Sausages)
Building fires. (Whenever I see him build a fire I think of him as a ten-year-old Cub Scout)
Playing video games. (Thank heavens this doesn’t happen very often like some men who stay stuck as boys)
Nerf Gun fights. (There’s just something about a man and his gun)
Watching Lord of the Rings, Avengers, Superman, Batman, etc. and hearing him name the villain as they show up on the screen. (He has a photographic memory for those old comic books and fantasy novels)
When he plays The Entertainer on the piano. (It’s as if he shrinks by 150 pounds right before my eyes)
Listening to Sarah McLachlan. (His teenage crush cannot be hid)
Singing along to John Denver. (We share this childhood memory)
Watching him play basketball. (He bites his tongue and its just so cute)
Picking beans and shucking corn. (The lyrics to a great song that I love but also something LG did a lot of as a kid)
Listening to bluegrass. (Always makes me think of the first time he promised to someday take me to Dollywood with his slightly detectable Southern accent)
Rollercoasters. (He always recalls that Dollywood used to be Silver Dollar City)
Watching him plunk away at random instruments. (He has this love and interest that he cultivated as a kid)
Hearing him say Mama. (When we first met he always called his mom Mama)
Watching him use his Priesthood. (I always think of his little 12-year-old self passing the sacrament)
When he cleans. (His mama taught him good – he is especially meticulous – just like her – with folding clothes with perfection)
When he doodles his L’s and G’s in 3D form. (A little bit of mindless habit)
Mowing the lawn. (Um yeah he did a lot of that as a kid and still does)
When he ties a tie. (It’s a talent that I love to admire)
When he’s immersed in a novel. (That man loves to read)
When he helps the kids with their math. (I’m pretty sure he could do calculus in elementary school)
When he eats a bowl of cereal. (We used to love to watch Saturday morning cartoons naked with our cereal when we first got married, I watched him more then the cartoons)
When he plays with the guys. (One of my most fond memories was watching LG at about 28 with his two best friends Scott and Conan. They had made up a game with a ball and a electric wire.)
When he held our babies. (I could just imagine him as his mama’s oldest child helping her so sweet and gently with all his younger siblings)
I am sure there are so many more. I could write all day, but I will stop myself there. Perhaps the most intimate moments are too private to share, but when a grown man can cry and share with you moments when as a kid he was scared, wronged, ashamed, lonely, and confused it is such a beautiful vulnerability. Those sad moments are just as important and touching as his paradoxical times of love, happiness, pride, and joy.
I married a wonderful man. I just happened to get a pretty great little boy in the deal, and I don’t even have a single son.
Here is what you all didn’t even know that you were waiting for: the inaugural “Good Reads for Kids by Kids” post. I am excited to share my kids’ reviews for their favorite books. Reading is one of our favorite forms of entertainment. I love kids lit! I love the fun illustrations. I love the simplicity of topics. I especially love the fact that they teach really good life lessons in a way that keeps not just the interest of children but of every age group .
Caroline and I go to the library once a week. She picks out about twenty books and then LG and I each take a turn every other night reading three to her before bed. We have done this with all our kids and consequently they all love to read. I personally believe the most influential thing a parent can do for the kids education is to read to them. So far, so good. Our kids are smart.
At the library on Tuesday I was excited to find a book by John Lithgow. I love him as an actor and so I had high hopes. The cover looked like it could be a winner. Yeah, I judge books my their covers all the time.
LG got to read on Tuesday and so when I snuggled in with Caroline last night I wasn’t surprised that even though Daddy had already read it with her, out of her twenty choices, she wanted to read Lithgow’s book with me again. When that happens it means she really likes the book.
We read it together and I also loved it. It’s fun. It’s funny. The illustrations are great. It keeps your interest with the catchy rhymes. Then, as if I needed an additional selling point, Caroline asked me if we could listen to the CD. Dad had promised.
Oh my goodness, I fell in love with John Lithgow all over again. What a fun and catchy song! Kids can listen to the song and use the book to help them with their sight reading. It’s genius.
If you need any more selling points:
1- The book is about dogs. All kids love dogs.
2- The book can be used for a great comparison lesson. How are the two dogs the same? How are they different?
3- The book could be turned into a really fun skit or puppet show.
4- Kids can participate with the well placed OOOOOO’s.
I give the book 5 stars. Caroline on the other hand gives it 6. Six out of five.
Check it out. I didn’t rig it. If you watch the video from this morning all the way through, you’ll hear her grade the book for yourself.
I am thinking about re-posting her with the CD and book in a few days. I am pretty sure she will be able to sing every single word to the song. The real bonus will be that she will probably also be able to sight read every single word in the book too.
Nicely done John Lithgow. Nicely done. Although I do kind of feel sorry for those other 19 books from the library this week. I don’t think they will get half as much attention.
My list of blessings is so long that I need to purge it here to start all over again. This post is happening a lot sooner than my last one, I hope you don’t mind. I am always astounded with the happy affect on my heart when working at gratitude, but in the past couple of weeks I have been completely in awe at the goodness of people and the goodness of God. I don’t think it is coincidental that many of our needs have been met when only we knew what they were.
Well, at first others knew our needs because I had posted about them. Several friends responded to my last counting. I had an old friend from high school contact me via Facebook and offer up an old nonworking iPhone for us to use as screen replacements. She mailed it from California and insisted I didn’t reimburse her. I am still waiting on the hubby to do the phone surgery but Misty’s generosity melted my heart.
Another old friend who is a pharmacist, after reading my last post, contacted me via Facebook to offer up advice on getting affordable prescriptions.
I had a super special experience with my sister-in-law the day that I posted last. She showed up on my doorstep with her arms full of produce from her garden and a few bags of food and non-food items that she had gotten cheap/free with coupons. I felt kind of bad thinking she was just responding to my desperation from the blog but she hadn’t even read it (or so she says).
I did a good job of not completely bawling, but I couldn’t hold back all the tears. It’s just so humbling to let other people support me. The only thing that makes it bearable for me is knowing that I am doing what God wants and they are just his little angels on earth.
Jill and Logan have been truly inspired in their generosity. In that first bag were things we really needed: deodorant, tissues, foods for the kids lunches, etc. On Saturday they took our kids for an adventure and even let them pick something out for themselves at the store. What a big deal for kids who are being forced to live so frugally. This mom can’t contain her emotions. I have to force myself not to think about it or I will just sit in cry in gratitude all day.
A friend from church offered up a bag-full of Hot Pockets that her kids wouldn’t eat. They have been a great reprieve from the foods I have been forced to cook from scratch and a huge treat for our kids.
The 5th was payday but because of the Labor Day holiday and an absentminded payroll employee LG didn’t get paid until the 6th. I had been anxiously anticipating the paycheck on the 5th to fill our empty refrigerator. A huge blessing came through: the check to pay me for the job I took babysitting came in the mail on the 5th. I texted a picture of it to LeGrand and said, “Dinner just arrived.” I think even LG had a moment of emotion with that coincidence. He hates seeing me sacrifice and stress over what to feed our family.
LG’s work had a great summer party where our whole family got to go and swim at a local pool for free. Dinner was also free and delicious. We had so much fun swimming after sunset in the dimly lit resort-style pool. For a little bit it was just our little family in the HUGE pool. It’s a memory I will never forget.
Our marriage counselor challenged LG and I to have three sessions of 30 minute activity a week TOGETHER. It is a tough challenge with our busy schedules but by doing it LG and I have had more stress relief and I have found a new respect for my man. He is an amazing coach. I loved him teaching me how to free-throw. The day he took off ahead of me on the bike trail was also a surprising turn-on. I also really enjoyed playing tennis with him a few days ago.
I got two messages from friends on Facebook that were super sweet and touching. One was from a cousin citing how impressed she was with my running time. It made my day. The other was from an old friend just to tell me that he really enjoyed seeing the photos from our Wills family reunion. The moment he took to write and send his simple message reminded me of some great memories this friend shared with our family. They brought a smile to my face. Sometimes the most simple actions mean so much.
A friend shared with me a way that I could make some money from home. It hasn’t panned out, but the fact that she believes in my writing was an honor I will never forget.
My neighbor brought over some clothes her daughter had outgrown. They were perfect for Caroline this Fall.
Another neighbor (the same who gave me all the pears last time) singled me out at church and told me to come and get all the peaches I wanted from her trees. I canned them all up on Saturday and have 30 quarts to get us through the winter. I wish I would have picked more but I guess I shouldn’t hog all the blessings for myself.
A dear friend of both LG and I (he was LG’s mission companion and my district leader on our LDS missions) published his most awesome book. I really loved The Crown and the Dragon. It’s only $5 on the kindle and I highly recommend it. I would have loved it without knowing the author, but I have to admit that having my name in the acknowledgements makes the book that much cooler for me. The blessing isn’t in the book, but it was in the fact that this friend came to peddle it at the SLC ComicCon. Our friend got us in for free and it was such a great get-away for LG and I. Thanks John!!!
Another neighbor gave me a whole bag of homegrown tomatoes.
This past Saturday our across the street neighbors showed up on our doorstep with a whole plate of leftover pizza. It was the really good kind with super thick crusts. They had no way of knowing that on Friday I had spent my last $30 on a few necessities. I was staring down a overwhelming weekend of cooking without a lot of my normal ingredients. In a situation like that a plate of pizza seems too good to be true. I will be smiling about that pizza until payday on Friday.
Last but not least, my brother took our three older girls with him to see his son’s soccer game on Saturday. On his way home unbeknownst to us they stopped for lunch. Our kids came home so happy. One of them said, “Man, that place was so good. We haven’t been out to eat in a month.”
LG and I were talking last night about how it has been six months since he was called as the YM President in our ward. When the Bishop extended the call to LG I had just quit my job with the plan to move to a cheaper apartment to make up the difference in our budget. We felt strongly that God really wanted this calling for LG and took a huge leap of faith and stayed in our current home so that LG could serve praying that God would work it out. Six months later we are in awe that God hasn’t just worked it out but has blessed us abundantly for our faith.
Living this experiment of relying on God and doing what he tells me even though I have no idea how it will work out makes me wish that everyone else could do it too. Going without more has made me happy for every little thing I receive. Everything is so magnified and blessings aren’t just blessings but manna from heaven. Is there anything better than manna from heaven? I can’t think of anything especially if it comes in the form of peaches, produce, and Pizza Hut.
I just read a really great book called Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper. It is an extremely eye-opening and touching story about a very bright girl with extreme physical limitations caused by Cerebral Palsy. I love books that give me a greater understanding of the people who share this world with me. This book left me with a great desire to be even more kind to those with special needs.
This book also left me with a very distinct impression: I felt to tell my 14-year-old daughter to seek out a certain peer who may need some more compassion because of his/her special needs. I don’t know if she will do anything about it, but I hope that when the time is right, the spark that I instilled will grow into a fire that she won’t be able to ignore. I know my Abigail has a great amount of compassion. I remember her third grade teacher being astounded because she would seek out a classmate who was confined to a wheelchair. She was so impressed by Abigail being a true friend to the girl.
If I can give my kids anything, I want them to know and understand compassion. I want them to be the kind of people who make this world a better place for others, especially those who are the most downtrodden.
I love love love love THIS back-to-school talk where it is suggested that parents read to their children each year. It beautifully articulates great truths about compassion. Compassion is the greatest thing we can ever give. If you haven’t read the talk at the link, you need to right now. If you haven’t had this talk with your kid to teach them compassion, you need to not wait one more minute.
This world needs more compassion. A lot of it. Let it begin with me.
We were on our way home from swim lessons yesterday when Caroline requested that I turn off the loud music. I asked her why she didn’t want the music on. She said, “It just makes me so confumed.” I loved her made up word. At four years old she combined confused with consumed. What an appropriate way of communicating the way the music was making her feel. If we all could just be so eloquent.
Today at swim lessons I got to watch a mom try to wrangle, manipulate, and beg her four year old to participate. The instructor dragged him into the pool for a bit but ended up bringing him back to his coddling mom on the sideline when he just wouldn’t be consoled. The kid never deviated from his standing shivering and screaming “it’s too cold.” I wondered why in the world his mom just didn’t wait another year to sign him up.
For twenty minutes he cried. I thought “what a cry-baby I wonder what that mom is doing wrong”…and then I realized my arrogance and changed the thought to “Wow, that mom must be amazing because God sent her that kid. He knew I couldn’t handle that kid. I should try to be more awesome.” At the given situation, I was exasperated and she was totally calm. I smiled at her and gave her a thumbs up while I read an appropriate line from my newest favorite book Carry On Warrior.
Be confident because you are a child of God. Be humble because everyone else is too.
Really the mom could be screwing the kid up, but guess what? I am too. I looked over to see Caroline insist that she be the motor boat every time. She didn’t think those other kids needed a turn. She’s the baby 6 years younger than the rest of her siblings. She’s kind of spoiled and there’s nothing I can do about the way God timed it.
At swim lessons it’s an equal toss up between chatting with another adult or reading a book while my kids are entertained. You can’t really go wrong with either one if your kid is willing to get in the pool.