12/31/2012

What I Read in 2012

my favorite Christmas present
Top Favorite Books
My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
The Princess Bride by William Goldman
My Friend Flicka by Mary O'Hara
The Outsdiers by S.E. Hinton
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Favorite Nonfiction Books
The Great LIFE Photographers by Life Magazine and Gordon Parks
The Quest for Anastasia by John Klier and Helen Mingay
Tower Stories: An Oral History of 9/11 by Damon DiMarco
Agatha Christie and the Eleven Missing Days by Jared Cade
Evolving in Monkey Town by Rachel Held Evans 

Books I Read Again
The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis
The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis
Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster
Dancing Shoes by Noel Streatfeild
Mara, Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Kilmeny of the Orchard by L.M. Montgomery
The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place by E.L. Konigsburg
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
Jane of Lantern Hill by L.M. Montgomery
Seven Daughters and Seven Sons by Barbara Cohen 

Most-Read Authors
Agatha Christie
Madeleine L'Engle
C.S. Lewis
L.M. Montgomery
Jerry Spinelli
Gerald Durrell

What books did you absolutely love this year? Spill it! I want to know!
Click HERE to see all the books that I read this year.
(New Years post coming tomorrow, blog people.)
Happy 2013! 

12/28/2012

Christmas Isn't Over

     Hello blog people! December is almost gone and I am feeling sad because I only wrote four posts this month. The truth is, my family has been sick for three weeks, so blogging hasn't been high on my priorities. And that's okay, because I had nothing interesting to write. For the last few weeks I have . . .

Laid in bed.
Blown my nose.
Eaten lots of chocolate.
Watched lots of television.
Survived the end of the world.
Had a fever. And an upset stomach. And a headache.
Completed driving school, and . . .
Neglected my dog.
Thrilling, no? 

     It's funny to listen to everyone talk about Christmas being over. My Christmas is nowhere near over, because most of our celebrations were delayed due to sickness. We spent the last three days at Grandma and Grandpa Morris's house. We had a fantastic time, (in case you're asking), but it was only half of our traditional Christmas. Our time at Grandma W's farm was cancelled because my family was sick. Normally that wouldn't be an issue, but my uncle is getting married on January 5th and it was very important that we kept our horrid three-week bug to ourselves. Sooo . . . we're having Christmas at Grandma W's on January 3rd, (and we still haven't had our small Christmas celebration for our family). Christmas has just begun!
     I'm ready to write again and blog again, but I don't think I'll be able to blog like I want to until after the wedding. Maybe I'll be able to squeeze in some "end of the year" type posts though. I hope all of you had a Very Merry Christmas. I'm so very excited for 2013!

12/12/2012

A Pepperminty Day

     Sometimes I forget that winter comes with coughs, headaches, sore throats, and uneasy stomachs. Poor Jason is still feeling miserably sick and so is Ben. The rest of us have escaped the worst of it (we hope) but nobody feels grand. It's a day for cough drops, kleenexes, jello, chicken-cilantro soup, tea, and peppermints. It's a day for curling up in bed with a book and wearing pajamas and moving slowly.
     We've been busy and sick, so we haven't gotten to make Christmas cookies yet, and our small box of Christmas decorations is still at our old house. All the same though . . . it's only thirteen days until Christmas and that is quite exciting. Today I helped Mom with some of her online Christmas shopping. I've done horribly with my own Christmas shopping done. In fact, I only have one Christmas present purchased: a doodletop for Jason. Have you ever noticed that guys are hard to shop for? I have four of them. Jason is still easy, but Ben has reached an awkward in-between stage and Sam and Dad are fairly impossible. But hey, if all else fails, I know what candy they like best ;)
     I haven't been reading much lately. Today I finished Among the Shadows by L.M. Montgomery and I'm still working on A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True. I've been stuck on it for several days, but it's not the book's fault, because the book is quite nice. It's just a mood or a cycle that I'm in. I only have fifty pages though, so I think that I can finish it today.
     Tomorrow Sam and I have a driving session. I'm not really looking forward to it. I'll be glad when driving school is over. I don't like having my nighttime eaten up. Night is when I feel most alive and creative. I like night very much, and I like to have freedom when it's nighttime. I understand that early mornings are inspiring, and it even feels right that early morning should be best. But I've always liked night. I can't help it.

Laughing / Is it Christmas? 
Listening / Can't Help Falling in Love - The Piano Guys

12/10/2012

Wet and Grey

     Today is wet and grey. I keep hoping for snow, but it's been astonishingly warm. Jason is sick and he's spent most of today and yesterday buried under a heap of blankets and stuffed animals. His own private mountain of misery. Poor little guy. Ben read out loud to him this morning, which was really sweet. Mom seems to be executing a winter-ized version of spring cleaning, in preparation for next weekend when we're bringing back the rest of our boxes and furniture from our old house in Arkansas.
      There's very little else to say. Only the weather is sort of interesting. I'm waiting for everything to pick up a little, and it will for sure. Today is Monday, so it's back to the grind of driving school. And Christmas is not very far away. What is your family doing to celebrate this December? Have you had snow yet?

Listening / Be OK - Ingrid Michaelson
Reading / A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True - Brigid Pasulka  

12/05/2012

Life in General

     Ever notice how everything has a way of happening all at once or not at all? Life is certainly not balanced. It's dreadfully inconsistent, in fact. Today is only the fifth, but December has been a hurried, frazzled sort of month. And here's the thing: I've neglected to write about several important developments that occurred over the last few weeks, so now I shall be obliged to dump a torrent of information on you.

     Sam and I are both attending driving school. We attend class three evenings out of the week, and it's quite wearisome. If we still lived in Arkansas, I would have my license by now. But we don't, we live in Illinois, and so I have to spend thirty-six (?) hours in the classroom, and I have to drive for six hours with my instructor. After completing the driving course, I have to drive on my permit for nine months and I have to clock fifty hours of driving, ten of which must be after dark. Lovely, no? Needless to say, it is very time-consuming.
     We've also signed up for classes at the community college, and we'll start on those in January. Currently, I'm headed towards a graphic design degree. I'm taking Drawing I and Speech on campus, and Web Page Design and Computer Art online. I'm so excited! It's going to be quite fun. I've met two other girls at youth group who are also taking classes at the community college, so that's also exciting. It's hard not to have old friendships, but it's less hard when you get a chance to start new ones.
      The house is a constant project. Currently, we're re-finishing the living room floor, which means the house is filled with fumes and everything is squashed and claustrophobic. It will be beautiful when it's done though! After we settle into the re-modeled living room and dining room, I'll be moving into a new bedroom. We still have quite a lot of boxes in storage at our old house, and I'm excited to pick them up. I haven't done any projects or crafts for three months! And I'm missing my books. Really missing my books.  
          
     Speaking of books, I've had my library card for two months now, and that blasted library probation is up! I'm overjoyed :) I can use the inter-library loan now, and I can request almost anything! Speaking of which: have any book recommendations? I'm up for anything. Deep and thoughtful books, mysteries, memoirs and autobiographies, interesting nonfiction, fast-paced young adult . . . anything! To be quite honest, I'm having way too much fun thinking up all the different books that I can read ;)

12/01/2012

Christmas Playlist

     It's December 1st, the perfect day to share a Christmas playlist! These are my top ten favorite Christmas songs this year. Well . . . maybe. Heehee :) Leave me a comment with your favorite Christmas music! And feel free to talk about favorite Christmas movies, recipes, and traditions too! Merry Christmas! :] 
C H R I S T M A S by Lydia on Grooveshark

11/27/2012

Perhaps

     "Our truest response to the irrationality of the world is to paint or sing or write, for only in such responses do we find truth." -Madeleine L'Engle

     Life rarely happens poetically. But if I look for beauty, perhaps I can make beautiful things. If I take risks and love people, perhaps I won't regret it. If I read books and fill my head with words, perhaps I can live a thousand lives. If I listen to other people, perhaps I will learn something. If I sing, perhaps my heart will be full of music. If I follow God, perhaps life will be astonishing. If I write, perhaps people will read my words. If I do not fear life, perhaps something wonderful will happen. If my heart is open, perhaps I will learn compassion. If I ask questions, perhaps I will find answers. Perhaps I won't, but perhaps I will grow anyway.

Listening / Awake My Soul - Mumford & Sons
Reading / The 100 Year-Old-Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

11/26/2012

Thanksgiving 2012

      I had a splendid Thanksgiving. We spent Thursday with my mom's side of the family and Friday with my dad's side. I guess we kind of split the rest of the time between the two families.
At the Wildermuth house we snacked on apple and pumpkin pie all weekend.
My mom's cousin Mike and Great-Grandma Wilson spent Thursday with us.
Sam and I stayed up late and played cards with Aunt Shayna and the two grandmas.
I ate potato chips and cottage cheese with my leftover turkey sandwich.
Uncle Paul and his fiance Carrie talked about wedding plans.
The dogs dashed around the farm like wild creatures.
We walked on the gravel roads with Shayna, then we abandoned the paths and just scrambled up the hill.
We battled with two different ovens in an attempt to cook the turkey and the pies simultaneously.
Grandma's puppy dog Fritz chewed up her boots.
We played cards and chinese checkers.
Aunt Joy and Uncle Tim taught us how to play telephone pictionary.
We stayed up late and doubled over laughing at hilarious stories. 
Shayna taught Ben and Jason how to properly watch football.
We lit a fire in the wood oven and spent a cozy afternoon in front of it . . .

At the Morris house we had loud conversations.
Grandma cooked the turkey upside down so that the white meat was super tender.
Uncle Greg ate worcestershire sauce on everything (as usual).
(Great) Uncle Jim and Aunt Fina were there.
Grandma made her famous rolls and Carolyn made the mashed potatoes.
We went on a very short walk . . . it was short because our ears froze.
Quigley went with us and wrapped her leash three times around Carolyn's legs.
We watched the Jackie Chan version of Around the World in 80 days.
Jason rode his unicycle in the basement.
Carolyn made faces at my camera.
Uncle Chuck, Greg, and David were there.
We crammed four people on one little love-seat.
Everything was big, warm, loud, and hilarious.
It was splendid. 

11/21/2012

Thanksgiving Begins

     It was foggy this morning. Warm and foggy. We're spending Thanksgiving with our family. David left his car at our house and we all drove up together. My grandparents from both sides have always lived close to each other, so we get to see all of them. We'll spend tomorrow at Grandma W's house and the next day at Grandma and Grandpa Morris's. It's going to be gorgeous.
     Holidays are funny. I can't remember the exact details of last Thanksgiving, I just remember Thanksgiving. Each holiday blends with every other holiday and details blur. It's all tradition and familiar people and sounds and smells and tastes . . . in short, perfectly wonderful.
       Happy Thanksgiving to all of you! I hope you have a splendid holiday. Laugh a lot and eat good food. I expect that's exactly what I shall be doing.

11/17/2012

A Passion for Balance (SOC Linkup)

     Today I'm linking up with my good blogging friends Cait and Mime. They've grown rather famous for their Streams of Consciousness linkups, which I have neglected to join until this point. Why? Oh, I don't know . . . maybe because the idea of writing a blog post in FIVE MINUTES terrifies me!!!! It was kind of brutal. Five minutes is so inadequate. Ah well, what's done is done. Be nice to me ;)
Today's Prompt: Your Passion

     I’ve never thought of myself as a passionate person. I’m easygoing and solid, both outwardly and inwardly. At times I can even be stoic. I don’t get particularly worked up. I don’t write morbid or angst-filled poetry. I don’t have the stereotypical artistic personality. I’m just not that way.
     Just because passion doesn’t characterize me, doesn’t mean that I don’t have passions. It’s taken me a while to realize and admit that. I think my first, most obvious passion is creating. I love to create. You can tell that based on the things that I choose to spend my time on and the things that I choose to put effort into.
    But other than creating? I think my passions are a little weird. I’m passionate about understanding other people’s opinions. I’m passionate about not stating things or viewing things in black and white. I’m passionate about maintaining balance in all areas of life. That’s a weird passion for a teenager . . . or for anyone really. Balance. I’m not sure why it’s so important to me. I think I’ve seen what can happen when people go off the deep end. I’ve seen what happens when people only consider one set of facts and opinions and completely discard the other sets. It’s hard to explain really. But that’s what I’m passionate about . . . creating, thinking, and comparing/balancing ideas.

FIVE MINUTES. STOP.
^more or less. ha!
Want to join the linkup? Click on over to the Notebook Sisters and make sure you follow these five rules:

1. Set your timer and write for 5 minutes.
2. Publish! (No editing. This is rough, unrefined writing.)
3. Grab our SOC button from the sidebar.
4. Sign in with our LinkUP on Sundays.
5. Stop by the other blogs and say hey!

11/15/2012

How to Be Cozy

Looking for a way to stay cozy this November? Here's a method that has never failed me.

1. Choose at least two of these clothing items:
a) sweater
b) fuzzy socks
c) sweat-shirt
d) mocassins
e) slippers

2. Choose a hot drink:
a) tea
b) cocoa
c) cider
d) coffee

3. Choose a or b and combine with c, d, e, or all three:
a) couch//armchair
b) bed
c) comforter
d) fuzzy/furry blanket
e) lots of quilts

4. Choose a book:
a) Anne of Green Gables
b) All Creatures Great and Small
c) The Chronicles of Narnia
d) Insert favorite cozy book

Cozy now? Good. Now all you need is some snowflakes floating past your window. Maybe some cookies too ;)
P.S. Leave your choices and suggestions in the comments :)

11/13/2012

Beauty & Thankfulness

    This year I've grown some. I think I've started noticing beauty more than I usually do. I've started looking for it on purpose, and I've found it in small things. I've consciously thought to myself this is lovely, this is wonderful, I like this. Sometimes I've remembered to thank God for beautiful things, but more often I haven't. I'm glad for the times I did. I thought I might feel dumb thanking God for trees or windows, but I really don't. It seems right.

     I wish I would grow a little more. I've been crabby for several months. Life has been rough since moving. It hasn't been rotten, it just hasn't been smooth, and I haven't responded well to that. I still notice beauty. I still feel like I'm cheerful, and I feel like an optimist. But optimism and happiness haven't really transferred from my head to my attitude and actions. It's easier to be a crabby bedroom-hermit, I guess. Noticing beauty is great, but I want to learn how to express that in my words and attitude.

     I'm thankful that I get to create beautiful things. I'm thankful for books, words, quotes, and libraries. I'm thankful for music and art. I'm thankful for genres, opinions, styles, perspectives . . . variety! I'm thankful that I'm an individual. I'm thankful for nice clothing, leather bags, comfortable shoes, and hats. I'm thankful for colors, textures, and shapes. I'm thankful that I've always had reasons to believe in love. I'm thankful that my grandma is safe. I'm thankful that her cancer is gone. I'm thankful for my camera and my dog. I'm thankful for my brothers and my parents. I'm thankful for new beginnings. I'm thankful that I'm free to notice and create beauty. November has been a good month. And I want, very badly, to get back into the habit of happiness.

11/11/2012

Caramel Apples

     I made caramel apples today. The caramel didn't turn out perfectly smooth, but it tastes really good. I rolled most of them in pecans and drizzled them with chocolate. I dipped the last four apples in white chocolate and coated them in cinnamon sugar. We haven't eaten them yet (although we've sampled most of the ingredients), but I'm fairly confident that they're going to taste amazing. I like Sundays.

11/09/2012

Triple Unicycles

Ben, Jason, Sam
     I had a nice quiet morning . . . I did a lot of writing and a lot of reading. I'm still behind on my word count for NaNoWriMo, but I've almost reached 10k. Woot! 1/5! In the afternoon, the boys all went to the park and Mom and I followed. See those three amazing people? Those are my brothers. :) You've probably heard about them before.
     All three of them are crazy about unicycles. It's kind of my aunt's fault . . . she bought one a few years ago, and Sam used to ride it in Grandma and Grandpa's basement. Then he bought one of his own . . . then he outgrew it . . . then he passed his old one on to Ben, and Jason got one for his birthday. The rest is history. Most recently, Sam and Ben acquired a "giraffe" unicycle which, as you can guess, is the super tall one.
     Today was extremely warm for November. I think there was a half-day at school, and there were a lot of people at the park. The boys get a lot of attention and funny comments . . . which they love. Sometimes comments distract them though, and they end up crashing ;) 
     There aren't very many colored leaves anymore, but there's this one giant tree on the corner on our street that's still very colorful. It's tall and oddly shaped. The top half doesn't have any leaves and seems to be partly dead. But there's a giant cluster of yellow leaves at the bottom, and they positively glow, regardless of what time of day it is. I still have no idea what I'm doing with the Canon T3i, but I'm enjoying it. Who wouldn't, with such interesting subjects?

11/06/2012

NaNoWriMo Updates

     This novel-writing business has been interesting. I don't think I'm dedicated enough to make the 50k, especially since I'm 3,000+ words behind right now. However, I haven't written this many pages of fiction in a long time. I keep telling myself that it doesn't matter if it's all crappy at the end . . . I'll have 50,000 words! Good enough reason to keep writing?
     As far as updates go, the first two days were really smooth sailing. But the rest of them? Maybe not so much . . .

November 3

6:00 P.M. - I need to write at least 985 words tonight. I don’t wanna!
9:00 P.M. - Okay, okay. *Grumbles* I did it.
9:06 P.M. - Yay! I finally have a chapter that lasts for more than one page :-/   

November 4

6:32 P.M. - I suddenly feel as though I wrote everything in the wrong order. It’s all a mess. I introduced the characters and their backgrounds at the wrong time. It doesn’t make much sense, and I’m about to conclude that most of this is CRAP.

November 5

9:08 P.M. - I am totally re-writing this. I’m switching the perspectives, switching the order in which I tell events, developing my characters more, and probably changing my favorite character’s name. Aaaand of course I also happen to be 2,800+ words behind. Oh joy! I do not have time to catch up before going to bed.
10:10 P.M. - Well the word count has not risen. I’m going to have an awful time catching it up. However, I have written out descriptions of my characters and I feel much better. Next step is re-organizing and re-writing scenes from different perspectives.

November 6

11:49 A.M. - Aaaaaaaaaa!!!
7:49 P.M. - Ugh. UghUgh.
9:23 P.M. - Edited and re-organized all evening. I know, I know . . . not supposed to edit! But I feel better. And more than a thousand extra words appeared out of nowhere, so that’s good too.


     Can you tell that I'm horrible at first drafts? Horrible, horrible, horrible. I want to edit the life out of every sentence. I just can't leave it alone! Can't ignore the imperfections and keep going. Eeeesh! And this is completely unrelated, but I am really ready for election night to be over! 

11/05/2012

November, November . . .

     I always think of November as a very dreary and grey month. Most of the leaves are gone, and everything is bare and chilly and wet. It's never been one of my favorite months.
     This November is just like any November (today is quite grey), but I think it's going to be a good month for me. Everything is finally starting to fall into place. Sam and I filled out our college applications for next semester, and we're going to driving school in a couple of weeks. Uncle David comes over on Sundays and eats lunch and supper with us. The fence is finally up, and the dogs are content. The house is still a work in progress, but it's slowly getting better. In a week or two, once the plaster-work is finished in my bedroom, I'll be able to paint it and make curtains for it and turn it into my happy space.

     We have a church now, and I'm glad. It's a very large church . . . on the small-ish side of mega, actually. It's quite different from a lot of the churches that we've attended in the past. But it's where we're at, and I think it's where we're supposed to be. The youth group is simply huge. Sam loves it, but it kind of scares me. Yesterday night was the first time that I actually enjoyed myself. I'm not an extreme introvert, but I am in new situations. It takes me a while to warm up. I have to have some time to figure out what's going on, and I have to be comfortable before I can loosen up and interact with people without freaking out. Sometimes it seems like I'm the only person who feels that way, but I know I'm not.

     That's the way it is with everything, I guess. You have to warm up to the situation, and you have to wait patiently for everything to fall in place. I knew that, of course, but I'm glad that everything is coming together now. Ugh, it feels like I've been living in transition for years! But it's really only been a few months (since July I guess). I'm so very ready to settle in and build a new life. Now if only I could get rid of that plaguey library probation!

Currently listening to: Weave Me The Sunshine
Weave Me The Sunshine by Peter, Paul & Mary on Grooveshark

11/03/2012

Five Reasons Why I Read Classic Books

 "Classic" - a book which people praise and don't read. (Mark Twain)

     Classic books are interesting creatures. Sometimes they get knocked and disrespected because they're old or boring, but sometimes they are held in unnecessary reverence, simply because they are "classic." Maybe the best attitude is somewhere in between the two. I don't believe that anyone should pretend to like a book that they hate. I think a book should be judged by its content and not by its label or reputation. However, I do think that classics deserve a certain amount of respect, because people have loved and admired them for centuries. Books can influence people greatly! I think it's good to be familiar with the books that have influenced the world. So without further ado, here are five reasons why I read classic books . . . 

1. Reading a classic book gives you a feel for different time periods. It gives you a better idea of what people were talking about and thinking about during the time that the book was written.
2. Classic books stretch your brain. They improve your vocabulary and they make you think about different questions, perspectives, and viewpoints. Additionally, some of them are pretty hard to plow through, so it builds character ;)
3. The more classics you read, the more literary references you understand. (And understanding literary references makes you feel extremely smart.)
4. Reading classic books helps improve your reading skill and comprehension. The more you read, the easier it is to read!
5. Reading (and finishing) a classic book leaves you with a sense of superior accomplishment. Aren't literary accomplishments the best sort?

     Some classic books are boring. Some aren't. You'll like some of them, and you won't like others of them. It's not as though all classic books are the same. They're as wide and varied as the books people write today. It's not a big deal if you don't like a certain "classic" book. But it's good to recognize that there is some value in classic books. Agreed?

P.S. Can you think of any other reasons to read classic books? What classic books do you like or dislike?
P.P.S. Thanks for all of your comments on my last post! I enjoyed reading them. DSLRs and NaNoWriMo seem to be popular topics in the blogging world, eh? ;)

11/02/2012

Canon T3i and NaNoWriMo

     Hello readers. I have two large-ish announcements to make. First Announcement: I bought my first DSLR. Yepyep. It's a Canon T3i. I like it. This is isn't the best photo, though. I was kind of aiming the camera randomly and making faces at the mirror. (Don't make fun of me for holding it wrong. I'll figure it out eventually.) I suppose I'll be spending a lot of quality time with the user manual, in hopes that some photography wisdom will rub off on me.

     Okay, Second Announcement: Yesterday I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo. (National Novel Writing Month) It was definitely a last minute decision. Trust me to commit on November 1st, haha! It's the first time that I've tried it, so I'm not completely sure what I've got myself into. I didn't even know that it was this month until I read about it on one of the blogs I follow. Mom saw me looking at the link and told me that I should do it. I hadn't even remotely considered it, so at first I was like, "Nope." But then I started thinking, "November . . . I'm not in school . . . no classes until January . . . I'm certainly not busy . . . I'm slightly bored and depressed, actually . . . Hmm." So I signed up, and I'm doing it. I'm hoping it will give me some vague sort of purpose in life ;) I have 1, 976 words, so that's a decent start.

     As far as life in general goes, I'm helping my brother build a fence in the backyard. It's very dull and monotonous. We've had a few arguments and a couple funny conversations. I think we can finish it today. But I need to get off of here first. I'll talk to you soon! I have some blog posts planned and my brain is whirling with ideas for NaNoWriMo. (But don't ask me what I'm writing. That's the worst/hardest sort of thing to explain.)

10/29/2012

Late October Hike

     Aunt Carolyn is here to visit for a couple of days. We all went hiking after Dad came home from work and Uncle David got out of class. The trees are pretty thin now, but it's still beautiful.
     It's nice to have David living close by. It was a coincidence that he ended up going to the same university that Dad works at, but it was a coincidence we were all happy about. Carolyn lives in St. Louis, so she isn't very far away from us either. <3

10/27/2012

On Inspiration and Creativity

      We're all chasing inspiration. Sometimes we find it, sometimes we don't. But it's something to look for. It's something to think about, and to take notes on.
     I'm most inspired when I'm living life. When I'm off the computer . . . going places, meeting people, and reading books. I'm least inspired when I fill my mind with the same ideas and only seek out the people who fit in my own little niche. I'm least inspired when I only read about and meet people who are exactly like me.

     Most of us know that if you want your blog to grow, you have to build a community. You have to connect with people who have the same interests and talents. That's something that I didn't know when I started blogging. I didn't know that I would meet new people and make good friends. I didn't know that it was such a huge part of blogging. Now it's one of my favorite parts.
     It's good to know people who have the same interests and think the same things. But I also find that if I get too absorbed in my little community, I lose my inspiration. I have to stay on my own path and keep striving to be myself if I want to be truly creative.
     I guess I'm saying that we, as bloggers, have to be careful. If we fill our heads with the things that everyone else writes, guess what? We'll start to sound like everyone else. If we follow all the popular blogs, guess what? We will become so obsessed with the popular bloggers that we'll turn into them instead of turning into us. And honestly? Turning into someone else is not very creative. But following your true self, becoming your true self, and writing the things that come out of your own head is creative.

     In my opinion, the best way to stay creative and inspired is to live your own life, meet different people, and spread your wings. Read about different people. Think about different opinions. Admire different sorts of art, and then go make your own kind of art. I hope that makes sense. It makes sense to me. 

10/26/2012

Costumes and Books

Robot Ben + Lego Man Jason
     Today was costume day at our house. The boys built the basic structures for their costumes out of cardboard several weeks ago, but they had to scramble to get them finished for a party at church tonight. Sam and Jason covered the Lego man costume in colored duct tape, and they cut the dark film out of a pair of 3D glasses and pasted it over the eye-holes. I helped Ben glue together his costume, and then Sam spray-painted it silver. Ben and I added all the details with masking tape and Sharpies. He has a pair of coat-hangar antennae on his head too, but you can't really see them in the photograph. Those two had better have some Skittles or Snickers for us when they come home ;)
     We're going to have a late supper tonight, and Uncle David is planning to come watch Captain America with Sam, Dad, and me. Mom took Ben and me to the library earlier today, so I have a big stack of books to read. The fact that we're only allowed to check out five books is killing me, but Mom let me check out two extra books on her card. I cannot wait until this month of library restrictions is over. Ugh!
     I checked out Anne of Green Gables and Little Women both. I'm in the mood to revisit my old favorites. I felt sort of silly checking them out, because I have giant sets of Louisa May Alcott and L.M. Montgomery's books. But they're still in boxes at our old house. So I have to make do with the library books instead of my books. I might be strange, but I like to own my favorite books. I like to see them on my bookcase, and I like to flip through them sometimes. I like them to be all mine

10/24/2012

Let's Talk About Books

     So. I'm in the mood to talk about books. First of all: The Princess Bride is amazing. Let's all agree on that, shall we? My mind seems to be stuck on Westley and Inigo Montoya and epic quotes. Second of all: I think I'm going to re-read Anne of Green Gables and Emily of New Moon. Maybe I should also re-visit Jane of Lantern Hill, and . . . oh, never mind. I'll stop there. I just miss L.M. Montgomery. (I think that can be remedied, though.)
     Thirdly! I haven't done a book stack post for a very, very long time. Therefore, I am going to tell you about the books I've been reading and the books that I'm looking forward to reading. Ready? Here goes.

images via goodreads
The last five books I've read . . .

Some Girls, Some Hats and Hitler by Trudi Kanter
My mom got this book at the library for me. It's a World War II memoir about a fashionable milliner and her escape from Austria. It's not a fictional account so it isn't particularly stunning or shocking. It's a simple story about life during that time period. Very realistic and interesting. I liked her writing style, and I liked the parts about the hats and Paris. Sometimes she jumped around between past and present tense in a way that was confusing. Overall though, I really liked the way she told her story.

I Didn't Ask to Be Born: (But I'm Glad I Was) by Bill Cosby
I like Bill Cosby. I liked his book too, but I would rather watch him than read him. His writing sounded exactly like him. Half of the time I could literally hear him saying the sentences in my head. But it wasn't all that great on paper. Like I said, I'd rather watch him than read him. It would be much more hilarious if it was combined with his voice, gestures and expressions. 

Below Stairs by Margaret Powell 
According to the cover, this is the memoir that inspired the television shows Upstairs, Downstairs and Downton Abbey. I haven't actually seen either of those shows, but I really like that time period and I liked reading this book. From what I've heard, I doubt that the main plots and characters for Downton Abbey or Upstairs, Downstairs come directly from this book. However, I think that the general feel and atmosphere is similar. I'd definitely recommend it if you like the early 1900s and 1940s.

Sons from Afar by Cynthia Voigt
I've always loved the Tillerman family (they first appeared in Homecoming) so I liked reading another book about them. I think I read half of this book once and didn't finish it for some reason, so a lot of the plot was familiar. I suppose the series is some what dated (they were young adult books in the 1980s) but they're on my list of favorites. I'm still looking for Seventeen Against the Dealer! I can't seem to find that book anywhere.

The Book Thief  by Markus Zusak
I loved, loved, loved it. I'm interested in books about World War II that are told from a German perspective, and I always fall in love with plots that revolve around books. So this was a win. It's uniquely written and very quotable. Rudy, Liesel, and Hans Hubermann easily made my list of favorite literary characters. Maybe Rosa Hubermann too. She kind of grows on you. There's a lot of swearing in the book, and it's definitely a book that's only appropriate at a certain age/level of maturity. However, it's a book that makes you think. I'll be looking for more books by Markus Zusak.

images via goodreads
These five books are at the top of my (extremely long) to-read list . . .

An Autobiography by Agatha Christie
Thunderhead by Mary O'Hara
My Life In France by Julia Child 
A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True by Brigid Pasulka
Menagerie Manor by Gerald Durrell 

     I'm hoping that all of these books are good choices and that I'll be able to get my hands on them soon. Have you read any of the books in this post? What did you think of them? What's on you're to-read list and what have you been reading? Do comment!  

10/21/2012

Week End

     I started my day on Grandma's farm. The leaves were a little past their peak, but it was beautiful. I took Piper and Pookie for a long run, and Grandma's puppy Fritz joined us. They were three of the happiest creatures I have ever seen. I was pretty happy too. The woods were yellow with a tinge of pink and the grass was long and minty-colored. It was gorgeous and the dogs got soaked.
     We spent some time with both sides of the family over the weekend. Uncle David rode up with us and some of my other aunts and uncles (and cousins) were there too.  Consequently, Saturday was a good day . . . a very Morris-ish day. Loud, warm, and crowded, with lots of laughter, conversations, and good food.
    Today we had a little time with Grandma Wildermuth and we ate lunch with my Uncle Paul and his fiance, Carrie. It was lovely. Like my mom said, when you're having a hard time, it's good to be with your family and remember who you are. It was just what I needed, really. It was worth the long drive. I'm so glad for my big and wonderful family.

Tomorrow is a new day and that is a cheerful thought. <3

10/15/2012

Beginnings Are Hard

"Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy." -Anne Frank
     I might be falling apart a bit. I guess because I'm lonely. I guess because everything is different and nothing is different in a way that's wonderful.
     I have experience with this. I know that all beginnings are hard. But I forget the beginnings easily. It's when the beginnings are happening . . . that's when it feels like my life has been an endless string of them. That's when I start to feel impossibly weary. Weary of beginnings.
     Things come gradually. Everything works out gradually. But it's hard to see "gradually". It's hard to feel like anything is getting better when it's only gradually.
     Beginnings don't work out well right away. It's as though my real life evaporated . . . and now I have to make do with pieces that should fit together into a new life. But they don't. They're all separate and disjointed and wrong. And each little piece is a mountain and a battle. Something that I have to climb and fight and conquer. And it's hard. It just is.

     I wouldn't mind crawling in a hole and living there for a very long time. But I can't really do that. So I guess I'm just going to keep plodding. I guess I'm just going to focus on the things that hold me together. Like good books and long walks with Piper and beautiful music and colored leaves . . .
                                                                                                                                                                                             
Currently Reading: The Book Thief, The Grace Awakening, and Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson

Not knowing when the dawn will come
    I open every door;
Or has it feathers like a bird,
    Or billows like a shore?
-Emily Dickinson


Bring Him Home by Jon Schmidt & Steven Sharp Nelson on Grooveshark
Arwen's Vigil by The Piano Guys on Grooveshark

10/12/2012

Sun Art

     Today I found this little packet of sun-art paper that my aunt sent me for my birthday, way back in June. So I opened it and spent the better part of the afternoon sandwiching leaves between paper and acrylic and trekking back and forth from the kitchen to the concrete pad in the backyard.
     To make a print, you place a sheet of sun-art paper on a piece of cardboard (blue side up) and then you put a flat object on top of that with a sheet of acrylic to hold it in place. You leave it in the sun until it turns light blue or white, and then you rinse it with water and lay it out to dry. Oddly enough, the paper starts out blue on one side. Then it turns white, except for the area under the object; but when you rinse it, the blue turns white and the white turns blue. Odd, huh?
      I know the fall leaves are pretty typical, but I like how they turned out. I still have about ten more sheets, so I'm waiting for inspiration to strike.

10/11/2012

Sidewalks & Dogs

     I took my camera on my walk with Piper this afternoon in hopes that we'd find some interesting things to photograph. Piper was not keen on photography (although she was very interested in telephone poles) so we didn't get any photographs of red leaves or plants growing in the sidewalk cracks. Ha! I just took this one photo of a date in the sidewalk that I noticed earlier today. I like finding little details like that. I'm surprised it didn't turn out blurry, because Piper was tugging on the leash.
     Today the librarian was telling us about a tri-state tornado that swept through our town in 1925. Most of the town was destroyed. I know this because she talked on and on about it. And it was interesting, but she talked for a looong time. That's one thing I've noticed about our small town library. All of the librarians are talkers. Back to the tornado though. I guess this sidewalk survived, didn't it?
     When we looped back to our house, I tried to make Piper submit to being photographed. It didn't work very well until I got her to sit in a pile of leaves in the front yard. Even then she insisted on whipping her head back and forth. (Pipes, you and I have got to work on this photography thing.)
     Thankfully, she is behaving a lot better. I think she's starting to resign herself to living here, so she's less anxious and upset. She's also getting used to a new routine, and she's starting to like it. Funny thing about Piper and Pookie, they really love their routines. Mom bought a harness for her, and that's stopped her from yanking me up and down the streets. So I take her on longer walks now and we're both happier. =)
     What about you? Does your dog like to be photographed? And how's fall in your part of the country? Are you starting to get some nice crunchy leaves to shuffle through?

10/10/2012

Small Libraries

     The library in our new town is just a few miles from our house. It's only a couple minutes away by car, and it's somewhere between twenty and thirty minutes on foot. Sam and I have already walked there. It's a long walk, but it was really nice to get out of the house and go somewhere.
     We live in a small town, so it's not a very big library. But it has a pretty good selection. I've lived lots of places and I've seen all types of libraries, big and small. This is the good type of small library. They have nice books and nice librarians, and they have a huge library network (which means a huge inter-library loan system). Right now we're on a sixty day probation. (You can be on library probation? Apparently.) After the sixty days are over, we'll be able to use our cards at other libraries around the area, and we'll be able to get books through the inter-library loan. We'll also be able to check out fifty books instead of five, however the librarian told us that she wouldn't really recommend doing that. ;)
      The funny thing about small libraries is this: they each have their own unique selection. There's usually some basic books and genres they have in common, but past that they vary quite a bit. For instance, one small library might have a huge mystery selection while another library might have more science fiction. One library might have lots of older, obscure books while another library might have all of the latest bestsellers. They each have their own personality. Sometimes it can be frustrating, but it's mostly been a good thing for me. I've lived in lots of rural areas and small towns, so I wouldn't have much to read if each small library was the same as every other small library.

     What about you? Can you walk to your library? Is it a small library or a big one? 

10/05/2012

Rainy Thoughts

     It's raining outside and the sun has nearly disappeared. My head is full of thoughts and questions, but I'm still wondering how to put those thoughts into words. So I'm just going to sit here in the basement rocking chair and ramble on about normal things.
     I spent a good part of the day painting the trim in my bedroom. It feels like a crime to paint the old wood. There's lots of good reasons to paint it, but it makes me a little sad.
     Sam's birthday is on Sunday and Jason's birthday is on Monday. They're going to be fifteen and eight. I haven't bought them presents yet. Ben and I want to go to a little toy store in the mall to buy something for Jason. Sam is a lot harder to shop for.

     Piper is my trouble-child again. I was starting to think she was mellowing out, but she's been a hyperactive mess ever since we moved. She hates staying in the kennel and she yanks and pulls me all over the place when I walk her around the neighborhood. She's always whining, crying, howling, sighing, and generally making it known that she does not approve of our new life choice. It reminds me of her puppy days when I had to chase her around the yard and stuff her into her pen and she would howl belligerently at me. I thought those days were over and our battles were ended. But they've just begun. Right now she's lying on her blanket next to me and she's sound asleep. She's beautiful and adorable and funny and I love her. But I wish she was more prone to being calm and unflappable like Pookie. Hopefully her behavior will start improving with lots of love and hard work. I think it probably will, but it will take time.

     There's not much to do these days. I daydream and make plans in my head. I do my chores and work in my bedroom and spend lots of extra quality time with trouble-dog. I read books and I read blogs and I put words and sentences together. I listen to music. I think of the future and I try to enjoy the now.
     It's 7:33. About two hours till bedtime. There's a persistent rumor concerning chocolate chip cookies. Piper is awake. I think I'll drag her upstairs with me to read Tender is the Night or Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy. To clarify that, I will read and she will sit on her blanket and look at me with sad brown eyes and her best tragic face.

See you around. <3
Lydia

What I'm listening to . . . 

  Bookends by Simon & Garfunkel on Grooveshark Scarborough Fair / Canticle by Simon & Garfunkel on Grooveshark

10/04/2012

Terracotta Birds

     Grandma W. made a quick trip to visit us this week since she couldn't come for Sam and Jason's birthdays next week. Yesterday we all visited Murphysboro Lake, had ice cream at Dairy Queen and went to the little antique shops downtown. I bought a yellow pyrex bowl and these two little bird ornaments. The little boys each got a little bird as well. I believe they're made of painted terracotta. Probably from Mexico. I love them. They're so colorful and happy. <3

10/03/2012

Little House

      This little house has many imperfections and difficulties. It has many charms too, but you have to be willing to look past glaring realities like the crumbling living room ceiling if you want to notice them.
       I like the tall ceilings and the wavy glass in the old windows. It's funny to look out the window and see the backyard rippling. But I don't like the cracking plaster and the faulty plumbing and electricity. I don't like sharing one bathroom with five other people and I hate it that the dogs have to stay in a tiny pen. 
     I like the brick streets in our neighborhood, but I don't like the way our bumper always scrapes when we back out of the driveway. I like seeing people out and about on the streets, but sometimes I wish we had a little more privacy. I'm not used to people looking at me while I'm standing in my own backyard.
     I like the shutters and the shape of the windows. I don't like the walled-up porch. I like the old doorknobs and the white brick walls in the basement. I don't like the pink bathtub and the tacky kitchen cupboards and the dark green stick-on tiles.
     I like walking to the library with Sam, but I don't like passing the house where the people yell at each other. I do like the yellow house across from us where Fern and her husband live. They've been married for more than sixty years, and they've lived in the little yellow house for fifty of those. It's been yellow all that time. And I like that. I really really do.

9/22/2012

Moving Day!

Hello wonderful readers!

     Today is Official Moving Day! (If there is such a thing.) Sadly, I don't really know when I'll be able to post next. Last I heard, it will be at least a week before we have internet access at the new house. Eeek! Not too thrilled about that. On the other hand, I recently wrote a guest post for Cait and Mime in celebration of Banned Book Week. It's not up yet, but it should be on Notebook Sisters sometime during Banned Book Week (which is Sept. 30 - Oct. 6) Keep an eye out for it!
     I will see you guys when I have internet again. Thanks for sticking with me through the craziness. You're the best!

<3 Lydia

9/19/2012

Adventure House

     It finally happened. Yesterday we got our house. And I. am. so. excited.

     It's going to be interesting. See . . . it's kind of an adventure house. It's small. A little bit too small, and the yard is way too small. It's also falling apart. I don't think anyone has lived in it for quite some time. It was built in the 1920s. It has lots of tacky annoying features, but it also has lots of wonderful little details mixed in. Things like original doorknobs. Seriously, I know that sounds weird but it has some lovely doorknobs. It's not quite a beautiful house right now, but it has loads of potential. And we are going to make it beautiful.
     It's been a while since we've remodeled a house. We're always doing projects . . . laying tile, painting, etc. But this is going to be a full-blown, tear-it-apart sort of thing. We'll be repairing quite a lot, but we'll also be undoing a lot of remodeling that some previous owners did in the 60s or 70s. The first thing we did (today and yesterday) was to tear out the dark paneling in the living room. We also tore down the drop ceiling. Originally, the house had beautiful high ceilings but someone thought it was a brilliant idea to put in low ceiling tiles. Ha. That's gone now ;) You know what else is gone? The pink toilet. Yep. Dad re-placed it. The pink bathtub remains, but we have plans for it.
     It's not a forever home for us. Like I said, it's too small. It's in town and the yard is woefully small for two German shepherds. But you know? It's an adventure, and I think it's going to be splendid. 

P.S. The top photo is Sam in a little amphitheater at the local park. 

9/17/2012

Transition

      I'm not the sort of person who dislikes change. There's certain things that I'd like to stay the same forever and ever. But past those certain things, change doesn't bother me. Sometimes I like it. Change can be invigorating, and sometimes it's just what I need. But transition? I hate it. It gnaws at my insides until I feel like I'm going to explode.
     Maybe it's the waiting that bothers me. But I think it's more than that. When I'm stuck in transition mode, it feels like I don't belong anywhere. I don't belong in the place or the time period or the state of mind that I'm leaving, but I don't belong in the place that I'm headed towards either.
     Some transitions are more subtle than others. But transitioning from one state to another . . . from one house to another . . . that's not simple. Right now it feels like transition has invaded our lives permanently. It feels like it's never going to leave.
     I guess I really thought that right now I'd be living in a completely different house, going to a completely different church and a completely different school. But I'm not. I'm still here. And I want out. I want out so desperately. In the two years that I've lived here, I've never really put down roots. The only thing I'm attached to is our neighborhood, our house, and our friends next door. Other than that? I'm not sad to leave. Everything is wrapped up, and I'm ready to go. It's frustrating to have to stay.
     Tomorrow maybe the house in Illinois will close. Maybe we'll get to move this week. And maybe we won't. That's the hard thing. It doesn't always turn out, and everything is always delayed. I just know that I'm excited for my new life. And I'm ready to be there.

     Are you a person who likes change or do you hate it? What about transition? (I can't imagine anyone loving it.)