December 31, 2011

"Good Reads"

I've read so many great books this year! Some of them were entirely new to me, while a few others are old favorites. I can't get enough of good fiction that makes me think (as a writer), and I'm trying to invite new "reads" to my extensive book list. The last two you'll see below here are nonfiction as well as amazing first-timers I would in no way be sorry to read again!

    ~The Goose Girl, by Shannon Hale~
This is my favorite novel of all time! Based on ideas derived from a fairytale by the Brothers Grimm, it is about a princess who does not seem fit for royalty --- she is a klutz, is very shy, and does not have any close friends.
    Ani, as she is called, is sent away by her sixteenth birthday to marry a prince in the neighboring kingdom in order to gain peace concerning a dispute over some unclaimed land. She is sent from one adventure to the next: falsely accused, sought out by a murderer, and now very far away from all familiarity and everything she once held dear.
    This is a tale of magic, destiny, hope, and love. It is technically part of a series called the Books of Bayern, but is so fantastic, so original, so classic, that it is perfectly wonderful just on its own. I have personally read it four times, own a hardcover copy because my mom sweetly gave it to me, and am going to continue to read it over and over again!



    ~Enna Burning, by Shannon Hale~
This is the second of the Books of Bayern. Its protagonist was Princess Ani's new friend, Enna, a forest girl who loses her brother to some mysterious obsession with fire.
    I found this book to be intriguing at a high degree, just as magical if not more than The Goose Girl, although a little more predictable. The ending did, however, catch me by surprise, and although it was not exactly my favorite book, it was very exciting and full of inspiration. Actually, I liked it a lot!



    ~The Frog Princess, by E. D. Baker~
Ever heard of those stories where girls would kiss a frog so that they would turn into a twist? Well, this story is told a little differently. This is the book on which they based the Disney movie "The Princess and the Frog". When Princess Emeralda finds a frog in the swamp who claims to be a prince, she agrees reluctantly to kiss him and turn him back. But when she does, something altogether unexpected and frighteningly wrong happens; she herself turns into a frog!
     I loved this tale, although it was obviously written for a younger generation. It made me think about magical possibilities, and I love books that do that! Now here's the most interesting part: I found it on the shelf because I liked the cover! I believe that today, one really can judge a book by this method!

    ~Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, by J. K. Rowling~
After seeing all of the movies repeatedly, I finally decided to sit down with this and see the magic from J. K Rowling's personal perspective. I really loved it! The style of writing was easy to read --- I believe the first one was meant for younger children --- and having enjoyed the movies already, the excitement of the ending had me captured. (Also, I tried to read much of it aloud according to the way the actors sounded in the movie.) I plan on reading the rest of the series --- that is, as soon as I've finished off some of the other books on my ever-increasing reading list.... ;)
    Favorite quote: "There are some things you can't share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them."

    ~The Healer's Apprentice, by Melanie Dickerson~
I had hardly any idea what to expect from this novel when I first picked it up. I learned of it from Sarah Elizabeth, the brilliant writer behind oh, restless bird (formerly Daughter of the King). From her, I understood that it was a retelling of the famous Sleeping Beauty tale. The truth is, it wasn't what I expected. It was even better! I had no idea it was written by a Christian woman, and was delighted to read a fairytale that honored my God.
    I loved how realistic and believable all of the characters were, and especially how they made their decisions based on what was right and not on what they felt. It was truly inspiring, intriguing, and it has been put high up on my favorites list. Really, this is one that I would love to own and read a hundred times!


    ~The Hiding Place, by Corrie ten Boom, with John and Elizabeth Sherrill~ 
This is the true story of the Christian heroine, Corrie ten Boom, who experienced the effects of the German invasion of Holland. She and her whole family, along with many friends, were put in prison for helping or showing kindness toward Jews. The book is an account of the fearful trials she endured, as well as the grace which God showed her throughout all of her struggles.
    This is a book which I would recommend to anyone --- it is not only touching, but inspiring; inspiring to live for Christ in such a way that not even persecution and death can destroy hope of something far greater than mere  freedom --- a life with God in heaven.
    This is my favorite quote: "There are no 'if's' in God's world. And no places that are safer than other places. The center of His will is our only safety---" -Betsie ten Boom


    ~Hope Rising, by Kim Meeder~
This book was incredible. It's the first horse story I've ever read where there isn't utter selfishness or rebellion, where there is faith in God, and where everything that happens is completely true and not a work of dramatic fiction.
     And it is so beautiful!
    There is an astonishing, delightful number of secret metaphors in this book, so sweetly flowing with the rhythm of each short account, so that one nearly misses them altogether. This book gives the reader hope and clearly shows us the fact that with God, all things are possible; that miracles do happen; and that dreams really do come true. ♥






God bless and Happy New Year!

December 23, 2011

Color

My room is a splashing hurricane of color --- a kaleidoscope of God's glorious rainbow --- the color wheel of wonder that would be much-envied in my childhood. I have mixed, hardly matched, and am still slowly-but-surely adding to this magnificent little square space I affectionately call 'bedroom'.

I found my dream bedspread on sale at WalMart --- four different shades of blue and green circles on one side, neon green on the other. It most delightfully contrasts the overwhelming pink on my walls and in my wardrobe.

My darling Princess Pumpkin (also referred to as Plumpkin, Flumpy-dunk, or 'our fat cat') loves to share my bed in the daytime while I read. I really don't think that she cares a cat's whisker about what colors my room consists of, but she seems to really like it in there.

If I had had mine own way, my whole room would be cool colors, particularly blue. But as it was, I selected five visually-satiable colors that matched some already-made curtains mom had intended for the room practically since we moved in: desert gold, pale tan, disco and princess pinks, and lavender. The colors have become a little (as mentioned above) overwhelming, so I've been calming it down with blues and greens. Emily even painted my closet trim blue for me. Now, as it turns out, the curtains cannot be found, and so my mom says I can get new ones. Now I can have even more blue in my room!

I would actually love to paint my walls a dark grey to contrast the crayon-box colors of everything else in the room. I've learned so many incredible craft ideas from Pinterest that I can't wait to get started on, and all of these will also add some pizazz to my room. {click the provided link to check out my ideas!}

Once I get around to it, I'm going to crochet myself a rug to cover up the matted-down grey carpet. (There's only one book I have found so far in all of my local library that has a rug pattern. Wow.) And guess what color it's going to be? That's right, blue.

There's also the dream of getting the trim up, the new white door, buying new carpet, and locating a cheap but still eye-pleasing desk lamp. Before any of those can come, however, I shall make myself thoroughly content. 

My room has never looked this good, this ME. ;)

December 22, 2011

Upon the Ice

So far, I've been babysitting regularly for about four or five months, now. It's been a challenging experience from which I have learned so much. And today, I and the boys I care for went down to the lake for ice-skating


I'm no great skater myself, but it was still a blast. I tried to go as fast as possible without losing my balance --- not very fast --- and the boys were chasing after each other and their hockey-playing friend (who is actually quite good).


I was exploring a large crack in the ice when I realized that one could see how deep the ice was according the the crack, for it went all the way through to the cold water underneath.


I showed the boys, who immediately proceeded to attempt to hammer a hole in the ice with a hard stick. They couldn't get very far. Not only was it cold, and the ice very strong, but the layer on which we stood was over six inches thick.

We were observing another area where two cracks ran over each other in an X, when we heard a deep, quiet boom. That's the only way I can think to describe how it sounded when the ice shifted slightly under our combined weight. I knew it wasn't enough to send us into the icy water, but natural fear and caution drove me to persuade the boys to move nearer the shore, just in case. It was exhilarating.

After this adventure, we returned back to their house --- for not only was it dark, but we were growing cold --- and played games after a hearty meal of pepperoni and sausage pizza, along with mugs of hot cocoa.

It was a very nice day.

Waluigi

This afternoon, I spent a few hours at a friend's house --- someone I now only rarely see, and have missed immensely --- and spent at least two of those hours playing Mario Kart with her and her sister! Having only played it perhaps once in my entire life before, I obviously wasn't very skilled. I was almost always in last place, but I still enjoyed it. I was Waluigi.

The coolest Wii character I've ever seen, he made us all laugh with his vengeful "I'll get you next time!" and his disgruntled, "Ah, Waluigi lose... IMPOSSIBLE!"

That, along with a delicious lunch, gift-exchanging, and simply talking every ones' heads off made for a great time with my buddies! ;)

December 20, 2011

The "W" in Christmas

I love this story. Although simple, and perhaps silly-sounding to many people on whom it's meaning is lost, it is a good reminder of what this season --- this "holiday" --- is all about.

Each December, I vowed to make Christmas a calm and peaceful experience.

I had cut back on nonessential obligations - extensive card writing, endless baking, decorating, and even overspending.

Yet still, I found myself exhausted, unable to appreciate the
precious family moments, and of course, the true meaning of
Christmas.

My son, Nicholas, was in kindergarten that year. It was an exciting season for a six year old.

For weeks, he'd been memorizing songs for his school's "Winter Pageant."

I didn't have the heart to tell him I'd be working the night of the
production. Unwilling to miss his shining moment, I spoke with his teacher. She assured me there'd be a dress rehearsal the morning of the presentation.

All parents unable to attend that evening were welcome to come then.

Fortunately, Nicholas seemed happy with the compromise.

So, the morning of the dress rehearsal, I filed in ten minutes
early, found a spot on the cafeteria floor and sat down. Around the room, I saw several other parents quietly scampering to their seats.

As I waited, the students were led into the room. Each class, accompanied by their teacher, sat cross-legged on the floor. Then, each group, one by one, rose to perform their song.

Because the public school system had long stopped referring to the holiday as "Christmas," I didn't expect anything other than fun, commercial entertainment songs of reindeer, Santa Claus, snowflakes and good cheer.

So, when my son's class rose to sing, "Christmas Love," I was slightly taken aback by its bold title.

Nicholas was aglow, as were all of his classmates, adorned in fuzzy mittens, red sweaters, and bright snow-caps upon their heads.

Those in the front row- center stage - held up large letters, one by one, to spell out the title of the song.

As the class would sing "C is for Christmas," a child would hold up the letter C. Then, "H is for Happy," and on and on, until each child holding up his portion had presented the complete message, "Christmas Love."

The performance was going smoothly, until suddenly, we noticed her; a small, quiet, girl in the front row holding the letter "M" upside down - totally unaware her letter "M" appeared as a "W".

The audience of 1st through 6th graders snickered at this little one's mistake. But she had no idea they were laughing at her, so she stood tall, proudly holding her "W".

Although many teachers tried to shush the children, the laughter continued until the last letter was raised, and we all saw it together.

A hush came over the audience and eyes began to widen.

In that instant, we understood the reason we were there, why we celebrated the holiday in the first place, why even in the chaos, there was a purpose for our festivities.

For when the last letter was held high, the message read loud and clear:
"C H R I S T W A S L O V E"

December 19, 2011

Humpty Dumpty


Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king's horses and all the king's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again.

But when Jesus Christ at last intervined
Grace entered the vastly discomposed scene
He repaired Humpty 'til he was better than new
And none other this undertaking could do

December 9, 2011

I Have Bangs!







After nearly six years of never, EVER having bangs, I finally decided it was time. Time to give them another chance. I put the hair I wanted to keep up in a ponytail.


And then my mom snipped off the rest.






 
And then, I wanted to finish it up on my own --- a very unwise and frankly dumb decision.
But mom helped me straighten it out. I hated it for the first five minutes, but I'm warming up to it. It still isn't the style I planned for, but my one comfort is...

IT WILL GROW BACK!


December 6, 2011

Lovely Chaos

My world is a tumbling hurricane of chaotic Christmas preparations, deep-sea cleaning, novel-writing, and a little bit of everything else. I'm sure my story is not that different from many others' at this present moment.

I'm trying to clear-off as many things as I can off of my laptop in order to refresh it and make it go really fast again. (I never realized just how many pictures I had taken until today.)

Tea is my one comfort while stressing over math.
I've started knitting another purse, a scarf, and hope to get working on some hats --- the last ones I made didn't quite turn out the way I had hoped *blush*.

It's great to have winter back again. Just loking out my bedroom window at the snow cheers me up and makes the day worth getting through.

Wow; it takes a lot of effort just to make room for fifteen minutes with God in prayer!

And yet, what a blessing it is to be busy and at work; how dull life would be if there was nothing to do but the things we want to!

God bless!
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