Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Happy Leap Day!

Happy Leap Day! In case you need a reminder, here are a few facts about WHY it's necessary to have an extra day every four years.

  • It takes roughly 365 days for Earth to make its journey around the Sun. I say roughly because it actually takes 365.2422 days. If we started disregarding the .2422 days our calendar would get out of whack and we would eventually be celebrating Christmas in the middle of summer.
  • The concept of leap year dates back to Julius Caesar and the ancient Roman Empire when he commissioned scientists to create the Julian calendar in 46 BC.
  • We add an extra day every year that is divisible by 4.

    As I wrote about back here there is an Irish custom were it's acceptable for women to propose to men. (I'd forgotten about that, but after I wrote that post several people reminded me about the romantic comedy Leap Year starring Amy Adams, and it quickly came back to me since I do remember seeing that movie.) I didn't do any proposing this year, but you can be sure I will next leap year (if the man I'm in love with is still single, that is ;) ), as I hope to be married by leap year in 2020! After all, life is too short to waste your life wishing for your dreams to come true, so sometimes you need to give your future a little "jumpstart."
    Happy leaping, everyone, especially for all of you unique people with Leap Day birthdays!

    Down a Sunny Dirt Road…

    When I was a little girl I used to love Berenstein bear books and I have fond memories of reading the books over and over. These books always had a way of teaching values in a way young children could understand. Stan and Jan Berenstein published their first BB book, The Big Honey Hunt in 1962 and the rest is history, as there are now over 300 Berenstein bear books. 
    The reason I'm writing this post is because Jan of Jan and Stan Berenstein passed away last Friday, February 24, at the age of 88. (Stan passed away in 2005.) Never fear, however, because their son Mike Berenstein is keeping the BB legacy alive.
    I think my all time favorite Berenstein book is The Berenstein Bears and the Messy Room. I'm a very tidy person, so I appreciate the end of the book where Brother and Sister Bear get their room nice and organized, thanks to the help of Papa Bear's handy construction skills. Some of my other all-time favorite BB books are Old Hat New Hat, Trouble with Money, Go to School, No Girls Allowed, Too Much TV, Forget Their Manners, Get the Gimmies, Week at Grandma's, and Bad Dream to name a few. Such good memories!

    David; Two Months Old!

    Here are some pictures of my nephew David. He's now two months old and getting bigger and cuter with each passing day! He just smiles and smiles all the time and is (usually) so calm and happy. He looked especially cute yesterday, so I just had to get a few pictures of him.
    Here are a few pictures of Amy from last week. She had to go into time out for throwing toys, and when she came back she was a disheveled mess with tear stained cheeks. One arm out of her shirt and her pigtails were askew, but she quickly stopped crying and was all smiles again. She looked so cute with her arm out of its sleeve, so we had to take a picture.

    Monday, February 27, 2012

    Here It Is!

    Remember when I talked about ordering a new recliner back in this post? Well, it was delivered this past Saturday and I'm happy to say I love it! I was a little nervous if I would like it or not since I couldn't sit in the chair to test it out when I was shopping (kind of like buying a car without taking it out for a test drive) but it looked so nice so I decided to go for it. My mom gave it 10 out of 10 comfort stars, after all, so I thought it was a winner!

    Here are pics of my new chair; isn't she a beaut?! (If only you could smell it! It's all leather and smells wonderful!) And just for the record, the pictures make the chair look a lot bigger than it really is.
     Mom testing it out and a closer look at the leather.

    Saturday, February 25, 2012

    Dreaming of Being Paralyzed

    On this coming Monday's episode of Anderson, he talks to a guest named Chloe who tells him about her secret desire to be paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. Chloe (who is completely able-bodied) says, "The only thing that would really make me happy in life is to be a paraplegic." She goes on to say, "In terms of my pursuit of happiness, the wheelchair gets me part way there and paraplegia will be like the fulfillment of my lifetime dream to be who I'm meant to be." Chloe admits that she's even looked into having a doctor sever her spinal cord to make her dreams come true. All I have to say is that although being disabled has a few perks now and then, it's really not all it's cracked up to be! (And I seriously hope there's not a doctor out there that would really consider doing this because it would be highly unethical!)

    Although Chloe's desire sounds crazy to you and me, she's suffers from a real medical condition called Body Integrity Identity Disorder where she feels like she's living in the wrong body. (Sort of similar to a transgendered a man/woman who feels that they are living in the wrong body.) I definitely don't condemn her for feeling the way she does and I have a lot of compassion for her since she obviously has some sort of mental illness. The mind sure can have some weird defects.

    My Take on Happiness

    Over the past few years that I've been writing my blog I've been getting more and more of what I like to call "fan mail." I know fan mail doesn't sound very humble, but I hope people realize that I'm saying it in a very "tongue-in-cheek" way. However, I admit that I really do love getting feedback from the people that read/enjoy my blog. This fan mail comes in the form of comments left on my blog, messages via Facebook or personal e-mails. I want everyone to know just how much I appreciate them taking the time to contact me.

    One of the things that people often tell me is that they find my outlook on life refreshing, or they ask me how I manage to be so happy in the face of such a great trial. A lot of people tell me that they wish they could be as happy as I am, but for one reason or another they struggle with staying positive. This makes me sad for them and it doesn't seem quite fair that I should be blessed with so much joy while at the same time there other people who struggle to find any joy at all. I feel like I'm hogging all of the life's joy for myself and I wish I could share it with others. I'd gladly part with some of my joy so that others might have a little more of their own.

    But now to answer the question that I get asked so often; how do I stay so happy and positive? I don't have the perfect answer, but here are a few bits of knowledge and things that I tried to remember that I find make a difference in my life.

    1 – God exists and He has a plan for us. I know that there is a God and that He created us. We are His children and He has a plan for each of us. Above all else, this knowledge is the number one thing that helps me be happy. I often hear people say that if there really is a God that loves us, then why does He allow bad things to happen to us? I don't have all of the answers for everyone's individual circumstances, but I know that I have a mission to fulfill in my lifetime and part of that mission is to bring joy to the lives of others. I know that in order for me to be successful with this, it was necessary for me to become paralyzed. This might be a hard concept for some people to wrap their minds around, but I know that I wouldn't have near as much impact on helping others find joy if I weren't in this situation.

    2 – Things could always be worse. No matter who you are or how bleak your situation may seem, things could always be worse. There is always someone whose situation is more dire than yours. Most people probably think my situation of being totally paralyzed and dependent on others for all of my physical needs is pretty awful. Don't get me wrong, it IS tough and there's a lot of disappointment that someone in my situation experiences, but I'm still living a really good life. I'm happy, I have a nice place to live with plenty of food to eat and water to drink and I'm able to spend my days doing what I love (using my laptop to reach out to others in the world).

    I don't lack any of my basic necessities. My life probably seems downright grand and luxurious to others in the world, and yours probably does, too. For example, people in Africa who are living through a famine right now and don't have enough food to eat or even clean water to drink. Or the people who live in war ravaged countries like Syria, Libya and Egypt where they are oppressed and don't have the most basic of freedoms and who are forced to live in fear. Or people who have to suffer  physical, sexual or emotional abuse at the hands of their family members. When you think about how much worse things could be it makes you pretty grateful for what you do have, trials and all.

    3 – Count your blessings. This goes along with what I just said. I think it's important to acknowledge and give thanks for all of the good things in your life so that when challenging times do come you don't lose sight of all that you have and what's really important. Gratitude can make a dark situation a little brighter.

    4 – This too shall pass. It sounds cliché, but whether a trial lasts several months, several years or an entire lifetime, it will eventually end.  If your trial is a lifelong one (like mine) then you've just got to mentally adjust and press forward. Although this is easier said than done, I think this is a necessary step if you want to find happiness. More often than not, challenging circumstances are out of our control anyway, so being mad/angry/bitter doesn't change the situation at all; it just leads to frustration.

    5 – What can I learn from this trial and how can I allow it to bless my life/other's lives? As difficult as a trial might be, I really think there's almost always something you can learn from it, if you allow yourself to. Trials have a way of defining what kind of person you are. You can either embrace your challenges and let them refine you and mold you into a better person, or you can let them turn you into a hard, bitter person.

    6 – Pray. I know you might not be familiar with praying to God, but I find a power in prayer that is so wonderful. I know that when we pray, God listens and He answers us. God doesn't answer us with an audible voice, and He might not always answer us as quickly as we want or in the way that we want, but He does hear and answer prayers.  I know that there's no problem/situation that's too small or too trivial for God to care about, so go ahead and try it. Praying always helps me feel better.

    Thursday, February 23, 2012

    "Heroes for My Son"

    A few months ago I heard about a book while watching the morning news that I thought sounded interesting, so I decided to check it out. It's a book called Heroes for My Son  written by best-selling author Brad Meltzer. When Brad Meltzer's first son was born he started compiling a list of heroes whose virtues and talents he wanted to share with his son. The list Brad compiled grew to include 52 different people; ordinary people who did/have done extraordinary things. People like Mr. Rogers, Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan, George H.W. Bush, Rosa Parks, Albert Einstein, Lou Gehrig, Abraham Lincoln, Steven Spielberg, Thomas Jefferson, Amelia Earhart, Jim Henson, Oprah Winfrey and many more.

    This is a short book with just a few pages about each hero, but it's a very inspiring and interesting at the same time. I learned a lot of new things about people I already know so much about. I think this factual and inspiring book would make a great gift.

    Tuesday, February 21, 2012

    "Downton Abbey"

    One of my favorite shows on TV right now is Downton Abbey. I watched the first season last year after my friend Kellie told me how much she liked it. I watched it via Netflix's website in a matter of just a few days and I was instantly hooked. When I heard that season two of Downton Abbey would be starting in January I decided to buy the first season so that I could watch it again to refresh my memory as to what had happened so that I could be prepared for the second season. My mom expressed interest in the show, so we started watching it over dinner each night. (My mom doesn't really care for TV and movies, so her expressing interest in watching it really says something about it!)
    Season two ended last Sunday, so now I'm in withdrawal; I can't wait to see what will happen in the next season! I'll have to wait a while, though, because season three doesn't show in England until September of this year, so it will most likely be January 2013 before season three shows here in the United States. This show is so good! It's really well done and I highly recommend it to everyone!
    I'm including some still shots from the show so that you can see how pretty it is:

    Monday, February 20, 2012

    Practice Makes Perfect

    They say the more you do something the better you become at it. I would say that this is a true statement in regards to my writing ability. Here's what I mean. I started writing on a consistent basis back in 2007. I started keeping a journal; an ongoing Word document that I would add to several times a week. I also wrote my personal history that year, which is basically like my life story. I wrote about my life up to that point, including my childhood growth and development, stories from my life, school experiences and things like that. A few months ago I referred back to it to verify the details of something I'd written about and I couldn't believe how poorly written some of it was! It wasn't awful or anything, but there were just things that kept popping out at me that didn't sound as good as they could. I know if I were writing the same thing today I would be able to get my point across in a better, more clear and concise way.

    I've been blogging since 2009, and when I come across things I wrote early on, I also notice things that I could've worded in a better way. I'm definitely not an eloquent, fancy writer, but I do think I have a knack for knowing what words to use so that I can get my thoughts and feelings out in a way that makes sense to someone who's reading it. I really wish I were a better, more gifted writer and that I knew bigger words to use, etc., but I don't. I guess for now I'm content with having an average vocabulary/writing skills, as long as I'm relatively good at expressing myself in a clear way.

    Where Are All the Clothes?!

    My sister Chandra and I went shopping last Saturday since she was off work. We went to Michaels craft store and Hobby Lobby. I absolutely love going to craft stores; they make me happy! They're very dangerous, though, because I could seriously unload hundreds of dollars buying this, that and everything!

    I'm constantly seeing fun crafts on Pinterest that I would love to (have someone help me) make, so I decided to go and stock up on crafting supplies since I don't really have any. I only spent $100, and when I say "only," I just mean that I could have easily spent many, many times that amount! Crafting supplies aren't necessarily that expensive when you focus on the cost of individual things, but each craft takes several supplies, so the tab racks up quickly.

    Here's a funny story about Michaels. Last year when Chandra and I were shopping I wanted to go to Marshalls; you know the store that sells discounted clothing. Well, all I told Chandra was to take me to Michaels (not Marshalls). When we walked in the door I was surrounded with crafting supplies. I said, "Where are all the clothes?" Chandra said, "Clothes??? We're in a craft store, why would there be clothes here?" Then all of a sudden it dawned on me that although I was intending to go to Marshalls, I'd mistakenly told Chandra to take me to Michaels. I thought nothing of pulling up to Michaels until we were in the store and there weren't any clothes in sight! Silly me! We both got a good laugh out of it and we reminisced about it again on Saturday when we went into Michaels.

    Sunday, February 19, 2012

    New Project

    I love having projects to work on to keep me occupied and one thing I've recently started doing is indexing. Genealogy and family history work is something that's very important in my church, so I thought this would be a way that I could volunteer my time to do something that benefits others.

    Here's how it works: I started by downloading the Family Search Indexing program on my computer via the internet, and that program lets me download a batch (a group) of documents, like death certificates, tax records, military registration cards, land reports, parish registers, marriage records, etc. The original document is shown at the top of my computer screen, and at the bottom of my screen there's a template where I enter in the information from the document.

    This creates an index (like you would find in the back of a reference book) so that people all over the world who are doing genealogical work can find their ancestors more easily. The index I'm helping to create enables those searching for their ancestors to research on their home computers instead of scrolling through hundreds of documents on microfilm (which is very time consuming). It just allows for easier/faster searching.

    All of this sounds pretty boring, right? Well, call me crazy, but I really enjoy it. First of all, it's kind of like detective work. Depending on how old the documents are, some of them are hand written and others have been typed on a typewriter. As you can imagine, some of the handwriting is written like chicken scratch which makes it really difficult to decipher. When I'm trying to interpret what's written in a handwriting that's particularly sloppy, sometimes I stare at the words trying to compare how the letters in different words are formed. Something I've recognized doing this is that penmanship has sure changed/evolved in the past 50 years. Some letters are just written differently nowadays than they were in the early – mid part of the 20th century. The more indexing I've done, the better I've gotten at analyzing  handwriting (especially the stuff that's written like chicken scratch). There have been times where I've been absolutely stumped, and then all of a sudden the correct name finally dawns on me. It's a great feeling and I know the Lord is inspiring me and helping me figure it out.

    My mom is also indexing on her computer, so when I have a particularly challenging name that I'm trying to make out, sometimes consult her and she helps me figure things out.

    The part I find the most rewarding is that I'm doing something that's helpful/beneficial to others. There are so many things that I would like to be able to do for others, but I'm just not physically able to since I'm paralyzed. So often I feel like a burden since I just take, take, take from others since people are having to serve/assist me all day long with almost everything I do, but indexing is something I can do independently on my voice-activated laptop.

    In order to for you to better understand this indexing thing, I took a picture of a few of the documents I worked on this evening so that I could post them on my blog.

    Wednesday, February 15, 2012

    Cheap Thrill

    I was 18 when I got my first (and only) car. I was paying for it myself, so I took really good care of it. (Much better care than some of my friends and people I knew whose parents paid for their car, I might add.) One of my favorite things to do used to be going through the car wash. Cheap thrill, I know, but it would seriously make my day to take a trip through the car wash! I'd always opt for the supreme car wash because I loved the pink, yellow and blue wax foam. I'd always stay in the car wash/dryer for every second I was allowed to get the most bang for my buck.

    My mom and I recently got gas and went through the car wash and I was shocked that the basic wash and rinse that used to cost two dollars back in the day when I was a driving gal now costs six dollars! Six dollars is how much the deluxe wash used to cost; that's inflation for you! Things sure have gotten expensive in the past eight years!

    Tuesday, February 14, 2012

    Valentine's Day

    Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! When I woke up this morning this Valentine was sitting on top of my mound of blankets. It was from my BFF, Mom. I thought the card was perfect for me because of what it said on the inside. I do try so hard to be cheerful and positive so that caring for me day after day isn't quite as discouraging as it would be if I were a Gloomy Gus! 
    I told my mom I didn't want any candy for Valentine's Day since I try hard to keep my weight in check, but she disobeyed. She gave me this little box of Russell Stover's assorted chocolates since she knows I love them so dearly. The box is already half gone, so I guess it's a good thing that it only comes with four chocolates!

    I absolutely love Russell Stover's chocolates! I have fond memories of Russell Stover's assorted chocolates from when I was a little girl. When my oldest sister went to college my parents discovered a Russell Stover's outlet store that they would sometimes stop at on the way home. They'd often come back with a box of Russell Stover's assorted chocolates – the big box with three different layers of candy. The thing I like best about assorted chocolates is looking at them as I try to select the perfect one. It's fun to have my own box because I've been known to bite into one, eat half and then put the rest of it back to enjoy later before moving on to another! (The bad thing about them is that these pretty little chocolates are highly addicting!)

    Monday, February 13, 2012

    You and Me Against the World

    Ever since I was a little girl, my mom and I have always called each other "best friends." It's a good thing we like each other so well, especially now that we're in the situation that we are, because we spent A LOT of time together! Not only is Mom my mother, but she's also my main caregiver. (Boy, life would be a lot more rough if we didn't get along so well!)

    Something I say to my mom on a regular basis in a half joking/half serious way is, "Mom, it's you and me against the world!" I mean, I'm going to be paralyzed for the rest of my life, so I'm in this trial for the long haul. And it's not just my trial; it's my mom's trial, too, since she is the one that cares for me. (Unless she decides to commit me; but I'm pretty sure she won't!) ;) Sure, we've had different friends and family members that have helped with my care over the past eight years since my accident, but when it comes down to it, the only person I know that will always be there for me is my mom. I know that she will keep caring for me as long as she is physically able.

    Yesterday morning was another one of those times that I sighed and told my mom that it's us against the world. She said, "Isn't that a song?" I said that if it was, it wasn't one that I was familiar with. So my mom got on the computer to look for the song. She found it right away and read the lyrics to me. (Of course she started crying but I wouldn't expect anything less out of my mom because it doesn't take much to make her cry!)

    I thought the words of the song were so sweet, so I thought I would write this post and share the lyrics/song with you.
    You and me against the world
    Sometimes it seems like you and me against the world
    When all the others turn their backs and walked away
    You can count on me to stay

    Remember when the circus came to town
    How you were frightened by the clown
    Wasn't it nice to be around someone that you knew
    Someone who was big and strong and looking out for

    You and me against the world
    Sometimes it seems like you and me against the world
    And for all the times we've cried I always felt that
    God was on our side.

    And when one of us is gone
    And one of us is left to carry on
    Then remembering will have to do
    Our memories alone will get us through
    Think about the days of me and you
    Of you and me against the world

    Saturday, February 11, 2012

    Movies and Fast Food

    I haven't made a new blog post all week which is a long time for me because since I usually make a post every couple of days. I've had a bit of a writers block and have started several posts, but never liked them enough to finish them for one reason or another. I don't like it when I go so long without blogging because I don't want to let my fans/followers down!

    It seems like forever since I've been to a movie (it's only been a month, but that's a long time for a movie lover like myself, especially when there've been so many good movies out that I want to see). So today I went and saw two movies to catch up a bit since my sister Chandra was off work. The first movie we saw was The Woman in Black; a suspenseful thriller starring Daniel Radcliffe. [Short synopsis of the film: a young lawyer travels to a remote village where he discovers the vengeful ghost of a scorned woman who is terrorizing the locals.]

    This is the first movie I've seen Daniel Radcliffe act in where he's not been portraying Harry Potter. I thought he did a great job and he looked really cute. This movie was so scary; probably one of the scariest movies I've ever seen. I jumped so many times I lost count! I don't mind scary/suspenseful movies, but I find that so often they either have a dumb ending or don't make sense at the end and I leave feeling dissatisfied. Fortunately, I didn't feel that way at the end of this movie, so I guess that's a good thing. I really liked this movie and recommend it, so check it out. (Just be prepared to jump!) Heather's rating: 9/10 stars
    The next movie I saw was The Vow; a romance movie starring Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum (who I think is so cute!). [Short synopsis of the film: based on the true story of a newlywed couple who is in a car accident that leaves the wife in a coma. When she wakes up she's lost all memory of her husband, so he has to make her fall in love with him all over again.] I really enjoyed this movie and the only thing that would've made it better would have been holding hands and smuggling with a boy! I recommend this movie and it's a perfect one for Valentine's Day. Heather's rating: 9/10 stars
    My sister and I got Jack in the Box for dinner on the way home. I dearly love fast food, but I rarely eat it since it's so horrible for you. Last night I was perusing the Jack in the Box menu online so that I would be prepared to speed up the order process. The nutrition facts were listed so I was checking out the fat/calorie content of all the burgers and sandwiches and wow, are they horrible for you! You could do some serious damage to your diet, as some of the things on the menu had almost 1000 calories! I opted for a junior bacon cheeseburger which had less than 400 calories, so as awful as that is, it could've been a lot worse!

    Saturday, February 4, 2012

    Beloved x 2

    My sister Laura's two kids are named Amy and David and those names ironically mean the same thing… beloved. Laura didn't know that when she chose the name for her new baby, but I think it's kind of neat.

    Last Thursday when Laura was over with her kids I asked her to take some pictures of them since I try to have pictures taken of the kids on a frequent basis since young kids (especially newborns) change so quickly. It didn't go so well! Amy didn't cooperate very well and David wasn't having it either! We tried our best and got some shots that were cute because they showed the craziness that was going on, but they definitely weren't the nicely composed type of picture that I was hoping to get. Oh well, kids will be kid, right?!

    The first two pictures are of Amy – check out those bright, blue eyes! The next two pictures are of David. The second picture of him shows what kind of mood he was in.
    The next bunch of pictures are of Amy and David together. Amy's not really big enough to hold David, so he was getting angrier and angrier!
    This next picture showed David's mood, so we had to resort to using a pacifier to keep him from crying. It worked, except I don't like photographs of babies when they have a pacifier in their mouth. (Especially this blue kind of pacifier that you get from the hospital.)
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