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Friday, July 30, 2010

Doing the Small Things

One of Jason's good friends here at seminary lost his wife to cancer last year. They had the memorial service in the spring, and we noticed how he and others praised the good attitude she displayed through her illness. She didn't complain, she was almost always positive and kind, she used her circumstances to let God's glory shine through her.
She was a follower of Christ, and you often hear how believers who are facing illness or other great difficulties or tragedies step up, for lack of a better term, and behave really admirably in the face of their circumstances. I know that was true of my mom. In three years of fighting brain cancer, I didn't hear her complain once. About anything. She was awesome and an inspiration to so many who knew her in that period.

But, honestly, I can't help but wonder if most of us fellow believers would do the same. When faced with some great thing, we would probably become better people. We would act more like God wants us to act all the time.

And, after that memorial service, I started thinking, If I could {theoretically} be the person I should be when facing cancer, why can't I be that person when facing something smaller?

It reminded me of a story from the Bible about Naaman. He was a guy who had leprosy, and he went to Elisha (the prophet, a "man of God") to be cured. Elisha didn't even come out to meet him; he just told Naaman to go wash himself in the local river to be cleansed.

Naaman was insulted for several reasons. But basically he thought Elisha should have come to him personally and should have made a big production out of the healing. But what Naaman's servants said is what has really been sticking in my head...

They asked, "If the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, 'Wash and be cleansed'!"

I think if, in life, God told me I had to go through some great thing, I would do it. And I would probably do it with the attitude He wants me to have. {I think...I hope.}

So why is it so difficult to have the attitude I should when he tells me...
  • to financially support my family in this season of our life
  • to make a home in our tiny apartment instead of a house for now
  • to give up a few luxuries to learn how to better manage our money
  • to give up my time and energy to be available to others when I'd rather be quiet and alone
  • to be kind and patient with my husband
  • to rejoice with others instead of envying their blessings
  • to clean the toilets
You get the idea. ;)

I don't want to do any of these things grudgingly! If my memorial service were tomorrow, I would want people to say the same kinds of things about me as they did about my mom and our friend's wife--that I was positive and cheerful and submissive to God's direction and peacefully accepting of difficult circumstances that came my way--no matter how great or small those circumstances might have been.

So, that's what's been bouncing around in my head lately--how God still has so much work to do on me. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Heard in our House

Setting: 5:30 a.m. Me: pre-coffee. Jason: sleeping.

I turn on the lights to start the holy morning beverage and see a Texas-sized cricket on our couch. (Yeah, the bugs really are bigger here.)

Jason, the phil-bug-thropist, doesn't like me to kill crickets. He'd rather do a catch and release.

So I {again...pre-coffee} scream, "Get up and get this cricket off the couch or I will SMASH it."

Amazingly, he did! And went right back to sleep.

I have to say I was impressed with his a.m. agility.

Dress Code?

Do you have a dress code where you work? We do, and we {thankfully} have a casual Friday as well.

But Lauren Winner {one of the authors I'm currently digging} makes an interesting point...

Maybe I'm a glutton for consistency, but it seems to me that if it is important for people to dress up four days of the week--because formal clothing truly shapes how we comport ourselves, how we understand our work and our duty--then it is important for us to dress up on Fridays too. Conversely, if employers find that people are happier, work better, and are more present when dressed in blue jeans, then we should scotch the silly dress codes the other four days. Either clothing really does some constructive work, or it doesn't. Either we're fooling ourselves on Fridays, or we're fooling ourselves the other four days.

Co-workers, please don't hate me for posting this. ;)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Must-Hear Podcasts

I got my iPod almost two years ago, and I have just now finished listening to all the back episodes of podcasts that either I've discovered or that Jason insists I will like. (He's usually right.)

So now I've finally whittled down my list to the ones I regularly listen to and love, and I wanted to pass those along to you!

  • A Prairie Home Companion (so funny)
  • Book Lust with Nancy Pearl (a must if you like learning about the author behind the book)
  • CD Baby Music Discovery podcast (amazing, off-the-grid music)
  • Current Song of the Day (from Minnesota Public Radio, where I first met M. Ward...*sigh*)
  • The Dog Trainer (for Fred)
  • Grammar Girl (because she's simply awesome)
  • KERA's Think (This is a local one, but it might be my favorite. Krys Boyd could take Terry Gross any day.)
  • The Library Channel (from Arizona State University...so creative!)
  • NPR Books (for the latest books)
  • NPR Sunday Puzzle (a little mind-bender from Will Shortz)
  • SJSU SLIS (another good librarian resource)
  • This American Life (pinnacle of story-telling)
  • A Way With Words (I like the mini-casts...fun facts on words and such)
Are there any I'm missing?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Out of {Reading} Character

I am pretty much a right-angle person.

Meaning I like lists, neatness, doing things in order...that sort of thing. I even wear my clothes in order {within another order...my husband thinks it's a sickness.} So I, of course, also read my books in the order I get them.

Except lately.

Lately I've just been reading whatever I feel like.

Who is this reader who casually picks up (and refuses to put down) Bitter Is the New Black and Eclipse and Begin Here, throwing off poor Auntie Mame and The Kabalyon Key, who have been waiting patiently for their turn for months?!?! I feel bad for the books. And for the reviews I need to write before school starts. And...

...oh, hang on, my copy of Just Let Me Lie Down has arrived.

With or Without You

Sometimes Jason and I like to dream about big life things {house, kids, lots of dogs on a farm}...and sometimes we like to dream little.

For instance, we like to dream about the little luxuries we would put back into the budget if we had some extra cash each month...

We would reinstate:
  • an unlimited texting plan
  • "expensive" hair cuts {which basically means going to a salon instead of the Aveda beauty school...even though they're great for 15 bucks}
  • the Internet at home
On the other hand, we've also discovered there are several former "necessities" that we can now happily live without...
  • having cable {or any form of satellite, direct-tv, etc. we just have our Blockbuster subscription}
  • getting my hair colored {that's just for me...Jason never highlighted his hair}
  • subscribing to magazines {I am blissfully ignorant about who is on the cover of US Weekly, and I can read Real Simple at the library}

What about you? What little luxuries can and can't you live without?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Shoes and Shaved Ice

After my inspiration last week, Jason decided he needed some, too.

I got a little bored while he was looking, so I started taking pictures...

The *most* exciting thing about our weekend, though, was finding a shaved ice place...

I don't know why they call it Texas Snow Cone. I think of this when I think snow cone...

Anyway, we haven't seen one of these since we lived in Texas. That's THREE YEARS without summer snow (shaved ice, snow cream...whatever you call it)! It was perfection...

Snow cream is my favorite flavor {vanilla with sweet cream}, but it was so hot I opted for something fruitier instead and went with good ol' cherry...still with sweet cream {totally worth the extra 50 cents}...

What's your favorite flavor? And was your weekend as mind-bendingly exciting as ours? ;)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Clothing Mutiny Continues

This?
My shoe at the end of the day Friday.

This is getting serious. ;)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wearing Wednesday & a Clothing Mutiny

I bought this skirt a million years ago {or maybe seven} at my favorite lovely little clothing shop in Tuscumbia--Audie Mescal.

*sigh*
Anyway, I love this skirt because it inexplicably fits even when I put on a few pounds, and I can wear it in the summer {as you see...sorry for the wrinkles, but isn't Fred cute?}, or I can pair it with brown tights and a sweater, and it goes right into winter.

I wear this skirt ALL the time, and I have for about seven years now. It has not faded or gotten holes or anything {and I hope I haven't just jinxed it}.

On the other hand, I've had five or six shirts and a couple of other skirts just give out over the past two weeks! {Had a similar situation with black shoes back in the fall. Lost three pairs--three!--in a 10-day span.}

They've succumbed to stubborn stains, unsewable tears, fading, you name it. It's a clothing mutiny.

Is it a quality issue? Cheap stuff=shorter wear? Doesn't seem to always apply, though. {And that's certainly not the case with shoes...sadly.}

Fortunately, it's nice and icy where I work, so I can get away with the three-quarter lengths and even long sleeves year-round, but still. Grr.

Anyone else ever face a clothing mutiny?

Book Clubs and Another Giveaway

So, right off the bat...the giveaway is not mine. {But I'm still hoping to win.} ;)

I'll be nice and tell you about it, too. It's over at Pure & Lovely...one of my favorite sites for eye candy and high-larious stories.

You can enter here...but I know you're all rooting for me, right?

Meanwhile, how many book clubs is too many? {are too many?}

Anyway, I'm currently in three--work, church and Real Simple's online. They're all fun and different and engaging, and I don't want to quit any of them! But it's tough keeping up!

And I'm already nervous about giving up all my "fun" reading in the fall.

This is why I don't do challenges anymore.

*sigh*

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Summer Playlist

I love making playlists. It goes along with the whole organization/compartmentalization I'm so fond of in all areas of life. :)

This year, I've decided to do a playlist for each season {don't some songs just feel like summer or winter?}, so I'm starting with summer. I've put a little * beside the ones you really, really should get if you don't have them already.
  • Accidentally in Love--Counting Crows
  • The Air That I Breathe--The Hollies
  • Already Gone--Wilson Phillips {sorry...not the classic}
  • *America--Simon & Garfunkel
  • Anyway You Want It--Journey
  • Aquarius Medley--Fifth Dimension
  • Baby's Got Her Blue Jeans On--Mel McDaniel
  • Lots and lots of Beach Boys music
  • *The Barbeque Song--Rhett & Link & the Homestead Pickers
  • Brand New Key--Melanie
  • Bubbly--Colbie Caillat
  • China Grove--Doobie Brothers
  • Dixieland Delight--Alabama
  • Do You Believe in Magic--The Lovin' Spoonful
  • Every Day Should Be a Holiday--The Dandy Warhols
  • Groovin'--Pato Banton
  • Heat Wave--Martha & the Vandellas
  • Highway Music--Allison King
  • I Found Love--The Free Design
  • I'll Fly Away--Alison Krauss
  • Lazy--Marilyn Monroe
  • Let's Get Together--Nobody's Angel
  • Louisiana Saturday Night--Alabama
  • Lulu Revenue Dans La Village--Ann Savoy
  • *Never Had Nobody Like You--M. Ward (She & Him)
  • Never Let You Go--Jakaranda
  • On the Road Again--Willie Nelson
  • Put Your Records On--Corinne Bailey Rae
  • Que Sera, Sera--Doris Day
  • Roll to Me--Del Amitri
  • Run Around--Blues Traveler
  • *Seven Songs (the entire album)--Menage
  • Shadow Hill--Allison King
  • Shake Some Action--Cracker
  • Sitting in the Window of My Room--Alison Krauss
  • Soulful Strut--Young-Holt Unlimited
  • Soulshine--Allman Brothers
  • Strawberry Wine--Deanna Carter
  • *Summer Breeze--Seals & Crofts
  • Sweet Home Alabama--Lynrd Skynrd
  • There She Goes--The La's
  • This Way--Jewel
  • Wild Night--John Mellencamp
  • You Don't Know How It Feels--Tom Petty
What about you? What's on your summer playlist?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Little Luxuries

This weekend was full of little luxuries!
  • My dog let me sleep until 7 a.m. on Saturday. We are almost always up by 6 {aren't you jealous?}.
  • I had chocolate toast {toast with Hershey's syrup poured on it. trust me; it's yummy} for breakfast. in bed. while reading. {i thought for a second i was dreaming.}
  • Three of my requested library books came in early, and I moved them to the top of the line! {i never ever ever do this. but i did for jen lancaster and real simple's book club.}
  • Spent Saturday afternoon with my bestie, Shell. We took in a photography exhibit at the Amon Carter Museum here in town and treated ourselves to mocha coconut frappuccinos afterward.
  • Had 50% off coupons to Half Price Books. Lots of great finds, but my favorite was the first season of Felicity. I loved this show so much because my college career paralleled hers. Now she'll see me through my PhD. :)
  • Three words: Sunday afternoon nap.
Hope your weekend was luxurious as well!

Friday, July 16, 2010

What I Learned This Week...

1. It is awesome to get a gift certificate to Sam's {and I really love their tires and free sample Saturdays}. But shopping for groceries there {as a family of two and not, say, the Duggars} is really not efficient. I think we had spent almost half of our card and had salsa, Chef Boyardee and fruit.

2. What's more fun than eating Chinese? Eating it with chopsticks...
The Panda says my kindness will lead me to happiness. :)

3. OK, this is not really something I learned, but I'm curious. When did we all stop working 9 to 5? Did we ever, or did Dolly just sing about this? I've had kind of a crazy schedule at work this week and worked a few days from 9-6 {instead of my usual 8-5}. I'm digging the coming in later {yay for exercising before work when it's just moderately hot instead of blistering hot}, but I still want to leave at 5. If Dolly did, why can't I?

Happy weekend, everyone!

Old Spice & Other Things Nice {Well, Mostly}

Have you all seen these hilarious Old Spice (and New Spice) library videos? LOVE them! A good laugh for your Friday. {Sorry about the size thing...Jason always has to help me with that, and he's not around right now.} :)






Also...

My soon-to-be school gets a grant to help libraries in rural Texas...

A story from my hometown newspaper about books vs. gadgets...

And one about renewing the library in the age of the Internet...

An update on the Birmingham library closings...

And how to make the best use of your library experts.

Happy weekend, everyone!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Blue Jean Baby

Blue Jean Baby by Sally Parmer

Much like the 60s themselves, Blue Jean Baby starts off brightly, hopefully and on a positive note. However, again like the decade it describes, the book soon turns darker and reveals much sadness and trouble behind its shinier facade.

This is not meant as a criticism of Parmer's writing, which is intriguing and (sometimes painfully) honest, but solid.

She begins as a high school freshman striving to be a rock star groupie. Because of her unwavering commitment and ingenuity and her surprising resemblance to Cher, she is well entrenched into the rock star world by the end of her high school years. {Think Penny Lane in Almost Famous.}

However, she is also entrenched in the negative side of "sex, drugs and rock 'n roll," watching friends struggle with those drugs and deal with unwanted pregnancies. And Parmer has to face many of those same struggles herself but finds no help from her family. Her mother is an alcoholic and grows more abusive as the book continues.

Parmer's story is a sad one, but it's one I'm glad she told. Too often, we either romanticize or demonize the 60s, but we often see it only through the lens of celebrity. Blue Jean Baby tells it like it was for a mostly average young girl and shows how many of the decisions made in that tumultuous decade are still affecting us today.

Because the story ended at the beginning of the 70s, I was glad she included an afterword to let us know where she and many of her friends ended up--even when the ends weren't happy. It helped the book feel more complete. On a lighter note, Parmer also used fitting songs from the era as chapter titles. It made me want to read it with a soundtrack. It would be a great one.

Favorite quotes...

An unfamiliar energy rose as night fell, a feeling I've rarely experienced. The air crackled like an electrical storm in the desert. For a smoggy L.A. night, it was remarkably easy to breathe. Colors were brighter than normal, sounds were more pleasant, and I kept smelling jasmine, although there was none around.

The Rose Bowl is bad on the best day.

The initial high of the British invasion was fading, and music was taking on a new sound. There was an undercurrent of desperation to everything, and it made us even more anxious to do everything we could to feel alright because it could all end in the blink of an eye.

I'd do anything for a musician.

It was the early seventies, and those of us who had been the original hippies learned it was time to walk our talk and take care of business. We became lawyers, lobbyists, researchers and writers, because we knew the only way to change society was from the inside...If we could have predicted disco, preppies and yuppies, we would probably...have given up then and there.

Friday, July 09, 2010

And the winner is...

Stephanie!!!

Congrats! Enjoy that comforter set!

Thanks to all of you who entered--I'll be checking you out on Twitter and in the blogosphere!

And thanks to CSN for sponsoring the giveaway!

Thursday, July 08, 2010

The Fourth and Our Fifth

Jason and I had a great time celebrating our fifth anniversary! I took off work on Friday, and we had Monday off for the holiday. It was downright luxurious having a four-day weekend.

On our anniversary, we headed out to Einstein Bros, where we've been celebrating Free Bagel Fridays (tomorrow is the last one, and I am incredibly sad about this).


Then we blew our dinner budget at Half Price Books (we are kindred spirits in the books-versus-food conundrum)...

So we had a big salad at home for dinner, got all dressed up, and headed out for a free dessert at the Blue Mesa Grill...


Three different kinds of flan. YUM.

Random picture of my fancy footwear (with back-up flip-flops) for the evening out...


It was a great celebration!

For the Fourth, we played a lot of Wii. And decorated a little...




On a completely unrelated note, I'm hosting a giveaway on my other blog. It's a big one (at least I think so), so head on over if you're interested because it ends tomorrow at 5 p.m.

Friday, July 02, 2010

High Five!

Jason and I are celebrating our fifth anniversary this weekend! For some reason, this one really feels like a milestone.

Anyway, during these five years, we've been to a lot of friends' weddings, so I've been collecting ideas and inspirations. And now I kind of want to have another wedding {with the same guy, of course}.

Instead {much to the relief of everyone except me, I'm sure}, I thought I'd just share five things I would change about our wedding and five things that I loved and would definitely do again.

Changes:

  • Invitees. Our wedding was in the rotunda of Reese Phifer Hall {for those of you Tuscaloosa-familiar folks}, so we were super concerned about the small space and how many guests would fit. We ended up only having about 30 guests, which was nice and intimate, but we left out a lot of people we cared about and, I think, hurt some feelings. Looking back, I wish we had just adopted a the-more-the-merrier attitude and figured out where to put everyone later.
  • Focus. In a way, your wedding weekend is supposed to be focused on you--especially the bride, right? ;) But I was amazed at my best pal Shelley's wedding at the concern she and Brandon showed for their guests. From thinking of activities we'd all enjoy {boat ride!} to having lovely gift bags in all our rooms, they made the weekend about all of us, and that made it really memorable.
  • Details. I didn't really do a good job of coordinating colors or doing the creative, decorative bits that can really make a wedding *pop* {is that the right word?}. No surprise there--those are not my strengths! But I should have hired someone to do that!
  • Time. Jason likes that we got married in the middle of the year {July 2} in the middle of the day {noon}, but I kind of wished we had done an early morning ceremony and brunch reception. Especially since it was about 110 that day.
  • Dancing. This is another thing I would change that Jason wouldn't. He just was not comfortable with the idea of having a big, traditional dancing reception, but I would have boogied all day and all night if it had just been up to me.

Keepers:

  • Apparel. As every bride should, I loved what I wore on my wedding day--my dress was handmade and unique, and, I'm not gonna lie, my shoes rocked. Also, we opted for Jason to wear a suit instead of a tux, and that suit has come in handy the other two times he's worn it in five years.
  • Laidback-ness. Because the wedding was so small and because we are pretty laidback people, we kept everything really casual. This was {mostly} nice. I love that we just had everyone over to our place for pizza instead of doing a formal rehearsal dinner, for instance.
  • Flowers. We opted for a lot of greenery instead of arrangements and daisies {to go along with the barbecue at the reception}, and my bouquet was a big ol' bunch of hydrangeas, which are my favorite flowers.
  • Setting. Even though it was crazy hot, I'm glad we got married in July. Fall was out because of football. {Don't judge.} And we didn't want to wait a year to have it in the winter or spring {we had gotten engaged in February}. So, July it was. And getting married in the place we met and had our first kiss and dated and fell in love was just awesome.
  • Involvement. I'm always amazed at how God puts the right people in our paths at the right times in life, and this was no exception. I was interning at The Capitol School when I was planning the wedding and, through connections there, met the lady who made my dress and the violinists. Our pal Brett at APR {Pro Pruning and Landscape Design in Northport} did all the flowers, Jason's former boss was the videographer, and my cousin-in-law was the photographer. And, of course, we had a tremendous amount of general help from our families and friends we consider family.

So, there you go. Changes and keepers for any of you looking for wedding advice {as if you don't get enough when getting married--ha}. I'd still like to have another wedding {or giant wedding-type party}, but maybe we'll wait another five years on that.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

July Giveaway

I'm excited to be doing a different sort of giveaway this month!

CSN Stores wants to give one of you a $60 gift certificate to one of their more than 200 stores! I've been coveting their dining room furniture since we sold ours when we moved to Texas.

How cute is this little number?

Perfect for Mr. McBookworm and me!

But they also have plenty of other fun items like pet gear...

cookie jars...

and, my personal favorite, shoes...

(I could really use this pair of running shoes if you're looking to share that gift certificate.) ;)

Seriously, there are plenty of items for $60 or less...unless you want to splurge and just put that gift certificate toward your own dining room furniture!

So, how do you enter?

Same as always--just leave a comment on this post! But make sure to include your email address because that is how CSN will get in touch with you to give you the gift certificate.

If you want to increase your chances, you can also...

-Follow me on Twitter (just leave a comment letting me know you've done this) and...

-Tweet about this giveaway (again, leaving a comment to tell me you've done so)

Please keep in mind this giveaway is only open to U.S. and Canadian residents. International fees might apply if you're in Canada. And, one more thing, be aware that shipping charges can apply to certain products.

OK, that's it! Good luck to all of you! I'll randomize the numbers and announce the winner in one week--July 9 at 5 p.m.

Read from the beginning...