A few reflections on life.

Lately I have been taking a lot of time to reflect. These reflections are taking to where I have been, where I am going, and what I am doing right now. Right now is a bit of a stressful time as so many things are changing, but all for good reason. Please excuse my bit of rambling today.

Two years ago this month my life was definitely thrown for a loop. I packed up everything I owned, I quit a few jobs that I loved, and I moved 5 hours away from my hometown with my husband. I cried the entire drive and honestly don’t remember a thing from the audiobook I was listening to. I was terrified, I was crushed, and I was not ready to face a new state. But the job my husband got was a good one, and I could be flexible because it was finally time for us to actually live together instead of him traveling constantly. I sucked it up for that reason alone.

Two years…it has been two years of constant ups and downs. Financial issues, crappy jobs, constant feelings of homesickness, and feeling completely and totally alone. I honestly can’t even begin to describe to you how hard this has all been. And I constantly felt that when things were FINALLY looking up then something else would destroy us (cars man…they have been the worst over here). The first year was the absolute worst, and when it came time to decide if we should renew our lease or not I was all for getting the heck out of here and going back home. It was a safety blanket. I wanted to be home so bad. I wanted to see my friends. I wanted to go to my mom’s house and eat dinner and hang out. I wanted to be where everyone knew each other and there was always a friendly face. Sadly, I lost that battle and  we found a new apartment. Lucky for us this is where things started to look up. New jobs for one of use started coming in. We started making connections with friends. We started feeling like we could call this place home. I think we are totally comfortable with where we are at. After two years I think I can FINALLY say that things are looking up.

You may be wondering what has caused my reflections as of late. Well, the job that caused the initial move here…it’s not longer a thing in our lives. Life happens, and sometimes things that have been so good go so wrong, but no matter the reason a new job has been found. This job will probably tie us down to this area for a bit longer. And the weirdest thing…I am ok with it.

If you had asked me a year ago what I wanted more than anything I would have said, without a second thought, that I wanted to move back. I would have said that I wanted to be near my family and friends and to live back where all is familiar. Today, I am honestly happy. It blows my mind, but I am happy. I have a job I love. I live in a really awesome apartment that we are continuing to settle into more and more. I live in a pretty cool part of the city, not too far from the lake and downtown. My husband just got a new job that should make him happier. Things are looking up. Things are looking good. Now, this doesn’t mean we wont have any struggles coming up. But I think I am so much more prepared for these struggles. I am ready to face them, even if they cause me to cry a bit. Because I got through some of the hardest moments of my life in the last two years in one piece. And I came out on the other side with a smile on my face.

It’s crazy, but moving away from my home has been one of the best things I have done. I think it’s been good for everyone all around. I still get massively homesick. I still wish that I lived near my family and friends. But I am also really happy here, and I gotta keep that up.

I think that concludes my ramblings. I think I just had to say it all because I know people go through a lot of crap. But if you keep on keeping on and get back up when life knocks you down you can find yourself feeling even better than before. You can find a place where you are happy and where you have grown to become and even better person than you were. Life sucks sometimes. It knocks you down and can keep kicking you, but it’s always worth the fight. I am happy I stuck with it and didn’t quit and move back home. I am so happy with who I have become and I know that these past few years have been a HUGE part in that.

How Do You Beat the Winter Blues?

I think I am struggling a bit. It’s a struggle I think we all go through at some point, but there is a struggle. I am definitely one that struggles with seasonal depression, and some days it’s just rough. When there is word that a winter storm is coming (guess who is in a winter storm warning tomorrow?) or anything like that my mood seems to sink. I always wonder why I live so far north, and shudder to think there are people who live further north than I do (hooooooowwwww do you do that!?).

Ok, the point of this post is not for you to pity me. I am not looking for sympathy or anything like that. This is how life goes for me sometimes, and I try my best to take it in stride because there really isn’t much else for me to do. I know I will be ok. I know the sun will shine eventually (it’s winter in WI, so you can’t really assume the sun will come out tomorrow). I figure that I can find people in this community that can relate to this, so I have a question for you all…

What do you do to help yourself out during those times when you feel mentally exhausted and defeated?

I really seemed to struggle with this over the weekend. Not really knowing what to do to kind of ease my mind and move forward. Typically I get lost in a book or give myself some time to marathon something on Netflix for a few hours. Maybe I just give myself time to hang out on the Internet. It really varies, but this weekend nothing stuck.

Here is what I tried yesterday: reading (but I couldn’t make a decision at all. I was torn between Unravel Me, Prisoner of Night and Fog, An Ember in the Ashes, The Darkest Minds, and Miss Peregrine. Which do you think is the best to get temporarily lost in?), Internet (nothing held my interest at all), Netflix (I have recently gotten into Jane the Virgin, which was good to get temporarily lost in. I also am in the middle of a rewatch of Parks and Rec. This did help me relax a bit).

So I guess my main question here is…what do you do to get yourself out of this kind of funk? Any specific suggestions?

Memories of Christmas

How many of us get a bit nostalgic when the Christmas season comes up?

I sure hope that I’m not the only one raising my hand here. Christmas comes with a message of love, of family, and of the birth of Jesus. There are so many amazing things that are brought up during this time of year that make me feel all warm and fuzzy, even when I look back at what I don’t really have anymore.

I am pretty into Christmas. I love the cheesy aspects of it as well as the meaning behind it all. I love getting together with friends and family. I love the music and the movies. I love it all. If I had my way I think my house would be decked out. Buuuut I lack some of that creativity, the time it takes to decorate, and the amount of decorations I would like in order to make that happen. I bake and I love to sport that ugly sweater.

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All these fantastic memories of Christmas definitely make me think about those Christmas days of my childhood and the wonderful people that were a part of it, some who are no longer a part of it. I just wanted to take the time to share how I remember Christmas (though I don’t think I could ever in a million years paint an accurate enough picture for you)…

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My family always tried to celebrate Christmas a day before Christmas eve. My parents wanted to make sure that we were all able to have our own special day. We might eat something special for supper (or we would order a pizza. That was also a special meal that didn’t happen too much). We would play Christmas music (literally. My sister and I took piano lessons for a long time so my parents always had us pick 2-3 songs to play). We would read from the Bible about the birth of Jesus and talk about the importance of it. Then…we would open presents. Typically that meant that my dad would get yet another tie from us kids and Lucas would give us beanie babies (sorry kid, but you went a few years ONLY buying us beanie babies. It was nice, but we definitely knew what was coming eventually). I loved these small celebrations with my family, and I do miss it.

My dad is from a big family. Though my siblings and I are among the youngest of the cousins we still have quite a few on my dad’s side and it was always a big get together on Christmas day. Many pictures were taken (not everyone always too thrilled about those pictures, but looking back…it sure is nice to have some of those), lots of laughs were had, sports were watched, and lots of food was eaten. We still try to get together. There are still games played, laughs had, memories shared, and food demolished. Our gatherings are just a little bit smaller, but that’s what happens when we are all adults and when many have families of our own.

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A recent picture of me with my cousins. Still missing 3 as well as my 2 siblings.

Christmas is definitely different without my dad around. He loved getting together with his family and I still can just hear the laughter from him. Christmas hasn’t really gotten any easier without him. It’s just gotten so that it’s not all that’s on my mind. This time of year is definitely when I saw how much he valued family and his relationship with his own siblings, which is one of my many lessons he has taught me.

Then, there’s this awesome lady…

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Please ignore my ridiculous little brother who probably thought he made photo-bombing cool.

My grandma was super into Christmas. I honestly don’t even know if I can accurately describe just how into Christmas she was. Her house was decorated all over the place. She always had two Christmas trees. One decorated with glass ornaments that we were not allowed to help decorate because we probably would have broke them all. This was used for one of our two Christmas celebrations at her house with my mom’s side of the family. She had another tree in the living room that she always invited us over to help decorate. Not a single breakable ornament was put on that tree. I remember it so well though. She had colored lights with the big bulbs. She had every single version of a Santa ornament imaginable as well as some of our homemade ornaments. While we decorated she would watch and make sure we didn’t miss a spot and my grandpa would help with the high parts of the tree, or he’d be at the counter fixing lights so he didn’t have to buy anymore. They had a massive collection of Nutcrackers surrounding the fireplace. She had this environment of joy and warmth in her house, especially on Christmas eve with the presents literally all over the living room and the fire keeping us warm (and A Christmas Story on the TV…you’ll shoot your eye out!).

She had a large collection of the Department 56 Christmas village. Literally, her entire dining room was transformed into a village. There was no room to eat because of her massive display. We used to be able to play with them, but then one year I think we broke some of the people so it became off limits to us. She had the fake snow, she had all the characters, she had a Christmas castle. It is probably one of my favorite things that I remember, and if I had the money or room I would be collecting them as well.

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My sad attempt to recreate something I could never in a million years recreate

My grandma also was huge into Christmas baking. She would bake all year round and freeze the cookies. I can’t even remember everything that she made, but I know I had my favorite. I loved the sugar cookies and the star cookies and the thumbprints that were SUPPOSED to be red and green but ended up pink and light green because food coloring can be tricky. Our Christmas meals when we had gatherings at her house were just appetizers because she had so many cookies and sweets. It was just meatballs, a cheese platter, chips and salsa, veggies, and COOKIES! Once she passed away it fell to my family to attempt to make her cookies, and let me tell you…it was not easy. I honestly don’t know if we ever found her cut out recipe. I know I have never seen it. It was hard to try to fill her shoes because it just wasn’t possible. Christmas was definitely her season and us trying to recreate her cookies…it was tough. I think that I have finally figured out how to KIND OF make cookies like hers, but I know they aren’t the same. I honestly can still taste them. There are times where I watch Christmas movies and I just crave those cookies. She was known for her cookies and Christmas crafts. If you were to ask my childhood friends what one thing they remembered of her they would definitely say cookies.

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My sugar cookies. They are not QUITE the same, but they are definitely close!

I miss her a lot, especially around Christmas. I miss both her and my dad. It kind of hits me around this time of year just how different things are. And though I think I am finally comfortable with where my life is at I still miss them, and still think of what things would be like if they were still around. I know my husband doesn’t quite understand just why Christmas is such a big deal with my family. The cookies especially. I make a lot of cookies for Christmas, but I feel like I have to. It’s not that I worry about my family being upset, it’s just that I need to. He never got to experience what I call Grandma Christmas so he doesn’t fully understand, which is fine but definitely sad to think about.

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However, while I think of all these things that I no longer have I have to look and see what I do have and the potential memories that I can make now. As sad as I am to not having my dad or grandma here I definitely cherish this time of year. I mean my siblings and I haven’t all been in the same state since August. That’s pretty exciting right?

I’ve been a little sad about this stuff lately, but as I look to next week (NEXT WEEK ALREADY GUYS!) I am getting pretty excited to go home, to see my family and friends, and to make more Christmas memories.

What are some of your favorite Christmas memories?

I promise I still do this!

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OH hey! Yes, I am still here. I know that I have had a few random posts here and there but maaaaan has my life gotten crazy. So I thought today I would give you a little life update (so that I can confirm that I am alive and well and still want to do this blogging thing).

If you know me you know that I have been looking for a job fairly seriously for a few months. Well I finally was called for an interivew (and boy do I mean finally. In the year and half or so that I have lived here and the 1303485291 job applications I have sent out I think I have had 6 interviews?)! And thankfully that interview lead to a JOB!

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Now, I definitely feel weird not being back at the daycare, and I did feel bad for possibly leaving this hole in my classroom for these kids and for the people that I worked with. That’s just who I am; constantly worried about letting people down. As I was fighting with that feeling the craziest thing happened…2 days after giving my 2 weeks my boss at the daycare found a replacement! And she was able to train with me on my last week there so that there was a bit of an overlap and it was honestly perfect. God really showed me that this was the direction for me to go.

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So with that I was more than ready to start this new job. And so far…it is awesome. I am working with ELL (English Language Learner) students at a local high school. So yes, I am kind of thrown back into high school, but I am helping them with their English while helping them work on all the classes they have to take. It’s hard, but one week in and I am already finding it rewarding. I have a long way to go still. This is definitely out of my comfort zone. But I have never felt like something was more perfect for me (well, minus the library jobs). This is seriously the first time since moving to WI that I have felt that things are actually going great for me personally. It’s a strange feeling, and I love it. I could probably say a lot more about it, but just know that the job front is good right now. And I know it will probably get hard and I know there will be days that are frustrating, but this feels good.

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With a new job comes a new schedule adjustment. I am adjusting to a different kind of work in a way, and my schedule is slightly different than it was before (I have to wake up earlier guys because school starts 15 minutes earlier than what I was used to working and I have a half hour drive…it’s rough). So that has definitely caused me to focus less on the blog. I had hoped to whip up some stuff and then I remembered that the holiday season is quickly approaching. Like I will be visiting family and around pretty sporadically for the next month or so. Meaning…don’t be shocked if this blog is kind of boring for the next few weeks. I want to give myself the time to adjust, time to enjoy, and time to be with friends and family. I hope to be able to post a bit, but we shall see. I promise after the Holidays all will return to normal!

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So here are a few things I have been doing…READING (I completed my Goodreads challenge guys!), binging Supernatural (yep…we have finally caved and its interesting, but also creepy), binging Bob’s Burgers (oh my gosh does that show grow on you like a fungus), socializing (SEE MOM I HAVE FRIENDS!), and getting ready to go HOME FOR THANKSGIVING!

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What things have you all been up to?

Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

The Blogger Behind the Books Tag

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Welcome to The Blogger Behind the Books tag, put together by the Sky Blue team from Nori’s Book Blogger Creativity Project!

One of the biggest things our team talked about while trying to decide what kind of post we wanted to put together was getting to know each other. Yes, we all gush about books and make our Top Ten Lists on Tuesdays, but that only tells you so much about the unique-ness that makes each and every book blogger. So we used that one HUGE thing we have in common, books, to create a fun way to get to know each other better. We each came up with a book and a prompt that seemed to work along with it. Hope you enjoy and feel free to answer too!

Describe a time you felt like you were on top of the world and could do anything

This is tough for me to answer, because my life has been just completely filled with all kinds of ups and downs and I have yet to feel that feeling of being able to kind of take on the world. I felt on top of the world when I had a job that I absolutely loved. I was so excited to work in a place that I could talk about books and read stories to kids and try to get them to understand just why I think books are so awesome. And that feeling has kind of been lost for awhile, which stinks but it was an important thing to do and even though I miss that job and the feelings it gave me I would not change my decision for anything.

Describe a time you were irrationally in love with someone or something when you know you shouldn’t have been.

Oh gee, my short infatuation with Edward Cullen just fits riiiiiight in with this one. Honestly and truthfully, I don’t think I have ever been irrationally in love with someone that I shouldn’t have been. I have really only been in love with one person, and that happens to be the guy that I am married to. I have had friendships that I look back on and think that I probably shouldn’t have had. These were just friendships that I knew I was being used in but feared losing that person. Or there was a friendship that honestly was going nowhere and was just hurting me throughout its entire existence. I have heartbreak in my past, and I have a list of people that I wonder just why I was friends with them, but no ridiculous and irrational love for someone.

Describe a place or person that you can call home.

My family and friends definitely make me have that sense of home. My husband is the number one person that brings that sense to me. We have kind of felt unsettled for the longest time. We got married our senior year of college, so immediately following graduation we moved back to our hometown (with my mom. Thanks mom!) because he had military training so we weren’t really sure where we would end up. He trained for a month, the worked for awhile (and we found an awesome house to rent) and then he was gone for 6 months. After he came back we were really unsure of what was happening, and then we eventually ended up moving to this area of Wisconsin. The adjustment has been so hard on me and I am finally JUST starting to feel good about it all (a year and a half later and I am still getting used to this). But no matter what, no matter where we were or what I was feeling…he was there and that made it all the better. He always gives me that feeling of home.

Talk about what you love most. Your favorite things, people, books, etc.

Oh gosh…this could go ON AND ON for a long time! I love Harry Potter (movies and books!) and the Hunger Games (movies and books). I am a lover of getting lost in a fantasy world (again…movies and books) because it really helps me take a temporary vacation from what is real and in front of me and will occasionally give me a fresh perspective on things. Recent book series obsessions…Throne of Glass, The Black Mage, Snow like Ashes, Scarlet series…and so many more (all are linked back to their goodreads page so that you can love them too!). Lover of Project Runway, Once Upon a Time, The Walking Dead, New Girl, and Brooklyn 99. I constantly marathon Gilmore Girls, even though I have seen them hundreds of times I swear. We constantly have music playing in this house. I am all over the place as far as that goes, but here is a link of some of the new music I have gotten into this year (LOVING James Bay and Raleigh Ritchie)

I love Minnesota sports even though I am in the middle of Wisconsin where it seems most Minnesota sports teams are not looked on too fondly. HUGE Twins fan and starting to get into hockey (GO WILD!) and I always have a soft spot for the Vikings (ok, I really like them and they are always in my heart no matter what!). Lover of chocolate, ice cream, pizza, and apparently not hitting the gym (I am working on that I swear). Trying to be a lover of life and to rejoice and be glad with all of the things that God has given me!

Talk about who (outside of your family) has been the most influential person in your life. 

Oh man, this one is incredibly difficult because I think that each and every person who has entered my life has had some sort of way, and because my family members have been the most influential to me. I have met so many fantastic people that I have met all while they were going through difficult situations. My dad died after a brief battle with cancer when I was 13 years old, and even with that tragedy my family met some of the greatest people. Our neighbors really came together to make sure that we were taken care of even if it was something so simple as shoveling our driveway. They made sure we were fed and that we were doing ok. Also because of this my family was introduced to Camp Jornada, a week long summer camp for kids who had cancer (in the past or currently) or who have had a family member with cancer. At this week long camp I was introduced to so many incredible people who are all more than familiar with what I briefly went through. We were able to bond over such a terrible sickness but were still able to find some joy in life. These are the people that have influenced my life. The ones who have found joy in even the darkest of times.

There is also a wonderful woman named Beth. She was a friend of the family when I was a kid. Her daughter and I were inseparable, which is awesome because for many years we somehow were always neighbors, even though those years had involved at least a move for each family. Beth was someone that I looked up to. She was always so full of joy and love. She was radiant and I considered their family to be a 2nd family of mine. Distance eventually separated us over the years and we were brought back together over some difficult situations (my dad’s death being one of them) but they were always in my heart. A few years ago Beth was diagnosed with non-smoking lung cancer. Throughout her entire battle (well, from what I saw on facebook) she stayed true to what she believed and firm in her faith. I honestly have never met such a spiritual woman, and a few years back when my mom and I went to visit I could feel it. She tried to make it so that this awful sickness didn’t keep her down. I looked on and admired her. She looked small and sick, but at the same time she just had this presence and this knowledge that everything was going to be ok. She passed away in August, which has definitely left a void in this world. But I know where she is. I know she is with my dad. And I know they are watching over their families and that we will see them soon.

Oh gosh, was that even answering the question? Oh well. I have a feeling that my answers won’t ALWAYS be this long.


Do you feel like our society now are headed in the direction (or are already in a state) of a Dystopia?

Oh geez, now we get serious. Honestly, I am not sure. Maybe? Though I don’t really think I have a set reason for that particular maybe. There are always certain things that happen that make me think of some book that I read set in a Dystopian sort of state, but I don’t necessarily think we are there yet. Are we heading there? No idea. I am ready for whatever though. I’ve read the books. I know what to do.

Describe a moment where you felt like you where exactly where you were supposed to be, a moment where you felt on the right path. 

To be honest, these moments are pretty rare for me lately. Professionally, I felt in that perfect spot when I was back in Minnesota working at a library. I just felt like I was doing everything I had wanted to do and that there were ways I would have been able to take it further while working there. Do I regret leaving? Kind of, but more in the professional aspect. I know my move was for the right reason…

Personally, I feel that I am on the right path right now. I hate being away from my friends and family back home, but I cant even begin to describe just how good the move to Wisconsin has been for my husband and I. I feel like he and I were definitely a bit lost and were so dependent on our families and those we knew back home. When we moved here we had to fend for ourselves and had no fall backs. The road has been rough, but right now I can see it is all worth it. I feel that for myself personally I need to be here. I can also say that I feel on the right path with blogging. I know that I don’t do all the fancy things that other people do. I don’t read as fast as some people and my reviews are sometimes more me sqealing about my love for a book more than anything but oh well, I love it. I have become more and more confident in this (though it has been a slow build of confidence) from people online and people that I know personally right in my own area. I love talking books. I love writing even if my writing isn’t super technical and whatnot. This is the perfect hobby for me, and I hope that I can always keep it as a hobby. It gives me some sense of sanity and gives me the chance to feel like me.

One day I hope that my personal sense of belonging and my professional sense of belonging will be the same thing.

Tell us about a person/experience that taught you to LIM (live in the moment).

One particular experience that stands out to me is when I was working retail at a shoe store. I was having a pretty awful day. Customers were upset with basically anything I did and I was getting so fed up with not being able to find anything else. I went over to help this woman who was a bit older but looking at this boots that you typically see women in their 20’s wearing. So I went over there to see if she needed anything and we talked for a little bit while I was helping her pick different types of shoes to try on. Eventually she spilled her life story which ended with her telling me that she had cancer, that the treatments stopped working so she stopped doing them, and that the doctors were saying that she would probably no longer be here within a years time. How in the world do you respond to that? I think she sensed me trying to find the right words to say (because I do know the wrong things to say, but the right things are always hard) because she told me that it was all ok. She said “I know where I’m going, so while I wait to go home to my Savior I might as well enjoy the rest of the life that He’s given me.” That struck me so much. This woman was basically told that her life would be ending. I know she said she stopped treatment, but she probably still had medical bills. She was so at peace and so ready to take on the world while she could and I was so inspired by that. She told me of her plans to winter in Florida like she had always wanted to with her friends and family. She told me that she decided to stop buying old lady shoes and to start buying fun ones because in the end none of it is going with her, not even the money. She was so amazing to talk to and she really lifted my spirits on that day. I still think of her and wonder what became of her. I hope she enjoyed her winter in Florida and I hope she brought joy to anyone else that she met.

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Phew. That became pretty wordy, but I think it definitely gave you a nice idea of me and who I am. Now, make sure you look for postings from the rest of Sky Blue Team. We started posting on Thursday of this week and plan to have them kind of trickle out until the beginning of next week.

And now…I have to tag a few people…

13 Memories of My Dad

Hey all! On this particular day I am going to get a little personal. On this day 13 years ago my dad passed away after a super brief, but brutal, battle with cancer. This number is significant to me because this year marks half of my life that he has not been around, and for some reason that has really been on my mind. Now this post is not meant to make you feel sorry for me. I absolutely hate when people use personal tragedies from their past to get attention. This is not at all what I plan to do. Instead I am going to use this post to try to start this time of year out positively. This is typically pretty hard for me. I know without a doubt where my dad is, but that doesn’t mean I just stop missing his presence down here. So this year I am going to share a post filled with 13 memories of my dad, all meant to be positive and to not at all do anything else besides help me start this day off on the right foot.

  1. JOKES: My dad was always more than willing to joke with us. I remember that whenever he would leave for work we would tell jokes as he walked out the door, and he would stay standing there until we were pretty much finished. Were these jokes the dumbest jokes in the world? Yes. Did the jokes even make sense? Hardly ever. But he participated and made us feel like we were the funniest kids ever. I can’t imagine how early he had to prepare to leave some days in order to be done with all our dumb jokes.10670173_10202871869059395_7552163401811099509_n
  2. IMPRESSIONS: My dad did many many many voices and impressions. I loved when he would read to us and do the most ridiculous voices to read the titles and we would laugh and tell him to read it normal and he would do a different ridiculous voice. He voiced all the characters (my mom did too) and made us really enjoy reading. He also did this KILLER Grover impression of the whole Near and Far thing and I still, to this day, can remember it. His Grover voice was the best. 196444_1002450543173_610_n
  3. MUSIC: He had a fierce love of music. This isn’t just that he was listening to music constantly (which he was) but he also wrote his own. He was the man in charge of the music when we were to head on road trips (which you can ask my mom about I’m sure, because I’m sure she appreciated packing all by herself so that the tunes would be perfection). 10538580_10202871868619384_2799600973113061235_n
  4. GUITAR: My dad was constantly playing guitar. I remember him trying to get playing time nearly every single day. He was in the worship band at our church and would play with friends all the time. He was even in a band at some point, though I cannot for the life of my remember the name or anything like that. I just remember my dad practicing his guitar and sometimes, in the morning, I would hear it through the vents of the house. 10303366_10202294540786549_2688561465759866101_n
  5. CAMPING/VACATION: My dad and mom always made sure that we took one fun trip a year. Every summer we would vacation before the 4th of July. We would camp around Minnesota, South Dakota, Michigan, Missouri, etc. And they would always make sure that there was something fun for us to do. I remember crossing the headwaters of the Mississippi and going to so many petting zoos and playing many many games of mini golf.  188732_1002450063161_844_n
  6. 4TH OF JULY: This was a yearly tradition. His hometown has a celebration for the 4th every year. As a kid this is where I would spend my entire day. First was the kiddie parade, which I was a regular participant in. Then there was hanging out with his side of the family which lead up to the grand parade. These were some of the best times, and I still go to their 4th of July celebrations. I struggled going there at first, but as I started to make memories of my own I realized I could still be there and remember my dad without being sad. I loved this tradition. 10380967_10202294539986529_2248059908850955710_n
  7. MN TWINS: My dad was a huge baseball fan. This was his team, and it eventually became our team. On his birthday the year that he died we went to a Twins game. This was the first Twins game for my siblings and I, and he was so excited to show us everything. I could tell that this was his happy place, and after leaving the game we walked to our car and I remember random people on the streets asking us who won and my dad shouting TWINS WON! TWINS WON! and looking so happy. This was the year that the Twins won the division for the first time in YEARS and almost made it to the World Series. My dad was watching them in the hospital. The game was on the day that he died. They definitely hold a special place in my heart filled with so many wonderful memories. 208665_1005811507195_1507_n 10434193_10202294539266511_8459617878626658110_n
  8. ENGINEER DAYS: I started attending public school in 6th grade (I was in 8th grade when he died). Those two years of my public school career that he was alive for he came with other co-workers to teach us about engineering. I absolutely loved having my dad at my school. I seriously thought it was the coolest thing ever. He got to see where I went each day and who I hung out with and got to meet my teachers (though in 7th grade that did NOT end so well. Another story for another time..). Yes, I did get to actually do things. I remember building bridges with marshmallow and toothpicks, but that’s about it. I just remember being over the moon that my dad was there. This is one of my favorite memories from middle school. 208954_1002451183189_6417_n
  9. HE MADE US TRY: I went out for basketball, which I am NOT AT ALL right for. I was once told I had the Simonson Jump Shot, but it seems every other pat of my basketball game was a complete and total failure. I would probably not have played softball so early on in life if it wasn’t for him. I became a lifeguard and swimming lesson teacher because that is what he wanted for me (man, did my mom play the dead dad card on me there). He had me face my fear of dogs (guys, I was chased by giant dogs as a child ok…it all makes sense why I was scared) by buying our first puppy Pearl (and man do I miss that dog). 199048_1002450743178_9634_n
  10. HE WAS ALWAYS THERE: Literally, he was always there. He would clock out of work at the same time every day and be home every night in time for supper and in time to see us. How do I remember this? My dog had it figured out and she would wait next to the door when it was time for him to come home. (Be proud of me, it took me this long to tear up. Because how do you tell your dog that he’s never coming home? She did that for weeks after he died). wpid-20150801_072002-1.jpg
  11. HE WAS SUPPORTIVE: He was at every single one of my softball games since I could remember. I started playing competitive softball a 11 I think? He was at every game giving me pointers and cheering me on. Even when he was sick he tried his hardest to make it. I quit softball after 8th grade. That was my first softball season without him. I just couldn’t look back and not see him. I couldn’t handle not hearing him. My mom always told me I would regret it and he would hate it, but I don’t regret it. I regret not keeping up with it at least for fun, but I don’t regret quitting. It was too much and I needed to stop. I probably could have been pretty decent, but oh well. I can’t look back and regret it. 10659185_10202825703465284_2071535119163754186_n
  12. STRICT PARENTING: After reading all of this you may find it shocking that he was strict. BUT OH MY GOSH HE WAS. There were many movies I was not allowed to watch and many TV shows. There were books that he wasn’t going to let us read (THANKS MOM FOR GETTING HIM TO APPROVE OF HARRY POTTER!). I don’t really think I missed out. I never watched Power Rangers or Pokemon, and I honestly don’t care. Sometimes I wonder if I’m better off for it. I am not addicted to video games because he limited our daily computer time to only 30 minutes. I am kind of glad for it, even if I sometimes make the joke that I was deprived as a child. 196346_1002450223165_3185_n
  13. STRONG EXAMPLE OF FAITH: My family background is a Christian background, and my dad was seriously one of the best examples I could have had. He was kind, he was caring, and he looked to God in the good and bad times. He showed us the importance of talking to others about what we believe, and he showed us the importance of having that quiet time to read, study, and pray. This is an example I still look up to and still strive to live up to. I only hope that I can be just as he was in his journey with Faith. wpid-20150801_072748-1.jpg

I miss my dad every single day, and some days are so much harder than others. But throughout it all I have learned and I have grown and I think I have been able to use my experiences through this loss in the best possible way (though not all the time). I could add so many more memories to this list, so many memories that I treasure each and every day. My dad is still my hero, and I cannot wait to see him again one day. 936929_4935469586191_1150784911_n

A Look Back at Summer 2015

I am one of the many that is still in shock that summer is over. I love summer. I live for summer. No, I don’t like the heat and humidity, but I am one that definitely needs the sunshine and I love to wear sundresses and to be outdoors. I also like fall, so summer ending is kind of bittersweet. But here is a bit of a recap of my non-book life of the summer….

My summer started with a road trip to the headwaters of the Mississippi River. 21911_10204488406991833_2857101522474177153_n11231154_10204489337575097_4638290156094751640_n

We were at the state park for the wedding of Jake’s best friend from college, which also kicked off the summer of weddings quite nicely. It was fun to go back up to where I had vacationed as a kid. Fun to relive some memories. Note: I did not cross the Mississippi this time. It was a bit chilly for that.

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There were some work related adventure to be had this summer. I kicked off my summer with kids on a day long field trip, followed by an evening of preschool graduation festivities. Did I immediately pass out after getting home? Yep. I also, maybe like a week later, got to take some of the kids strawberry picking. FIRST TIME ALERT! I had never been strawberry picking, and those were the most delicious strawberries I have ever had.

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I finally was able to take a few boating trips with my mom and her husband back home. I was never home to do that last summer and before that I just never had the time. I love boating. So relaxing. I also was reminded that living without AC is the worst, but if I can make my own popsicles I should because they are PERFECT for helping you cool down.

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WE GOT TO GO HOME FOR THE 4TH OF JULY!  And since the 4th fell on a weekend this year we were able to make it for the hometown festivities on the 3rd as well. It’s always fun to be back home and to remember why I love so much to be in a small town. One day I will be back guys. It’s just not time yet!

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I went to my first ever game at Miller Park. And thankfully the Twins won that game! I really enjoyed my experience at their park. It was just fun. Also, my first experience tailgating, even though we basically downed a couple beers while walking to the stadium. It still counts right? No…probably not. I should probably experience real tailgating.

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My little sister moved to California. I may have cried a little bit (but I think there were some other life factors going on there) but it was fun to hang out with her before she left. Her excitement was contagious, and I am really pumped to see where this takes her. That was the last time all of us have been in the same place since AT LEAST Christmas, and now we wait until next Christmas when we are all together again. Yes, I am the oldest. Yes, I am the shortest. The tallest is the youngest. It’s weird and I just really want to gain a few inches (and I’m not that short guys…my brother is just freakishly tall).

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I mentioned weddings right? Ha I had TWO MORE in August (and I have one more on Friday!). The top one is one of my best friends from high school. I am so happy for him and his wife and wish we could hang out more often. The other wedding was for some friends we have made in Wisconsin (GO US! MAKING FRIENDS!). Both weddings were SO much fun and both weddings were so tailored to the couple getting married. I guess as a kid I really didn’t pay attention to the details to see if the weddings fit the couple, but all of the weddings this year have fit the couple and all of the couples have looked happier than I have ever seen them. Also, I got to introduce Wisconsin to the Dolphin Dance, and I started a craze clearly. 🙂

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All in all, this summer was a lot of fun. It definitely flew by, but I am ready for all the wonderful things that fall brings, and I am ready to finally enjoy it.

Anyone else have some awesome memories from summer?

Something is coming…

Hi there! 

I just wanted to post a little something because I am getting really excited about stuff on the blog.

I honestly LOVE doing this and am really trying to come out of my slump of doing absolutely nothing. I love that I have found people to talk books with from ALL over the country and world.

The last year and a half has been a huge adjustment time, and I am still adjusting. I moved to a new state away from all my friends and family. I was handed rejection after rejection from jobs. I felt incredibly alone, and then was recently introduced to the world of book blogging with the help of OTSPSecretSister. Through this amazing organization (is that right to call it that? I am struggling for the right word there) I have met some AWESOME book bloggers, some of which have become very close friends. I have been able to send encouragement to a fellow book lover in secret (until I totally screwed up and forgot to make sure my name wasn’t on the package…) and received some from another book blogger (who I just recently found out was the fantastic Jordin at A Bottomless Book Bag). 

I don’t even have the time to tell you all about what has gone on in my life over the last year. No one has time for that. But I will tell you that I am finally starting to feel better, even a little happier. I have fantastic friends and family IRL, and that circle of friends is SLOWLY growing (am I the only adult that SUCKS at making friends?) and now I have this awesome community and some fantastic ladies that I have been able to talk to about nearly anything. 

So.. the point of this post is that I AM HERE! I AM TRYING AND I AM HERE! I really want to make this blog something that I do regularly because I love it. I love to talk books, movies, music…all that fun stuff. So I want you to be on the lookout, because I have some AWESOME posts coming up. Be on the lookout for:

  • Something completely and totally new to me on Friday. It’s a new feature I will be attempting on my blog and it is something that I love about books!
  • MY FIRST EVER BLOG TOUR STOP! On Monday you are going to learn all about an awesome new book series and a few facts about what went in to the production of that book. I never really knew all that went into it, and am very excited to have the author on the blog (and to be reading her book VERY soon).
  • Top Ten Tuesdays! I am going to keep working on doing those. I love them! I love making lists and seeing what I have in common with all kinds of book bloggers. And adding new books to the TBR is always good.
  • Keep looking for Spectacularly Swanky Saturdays (we’re buddy reading this month and I am DYING to get back to the book) and various book discussions.

I really am excited to dive into this head first. And by head first I mean I will still be taking my time a bit and working towards something that I am proud of. This blog is going to be 100% me no matter what, and I am so pumped.

It’s cool, I’m just freaking out here.

I’ve become the victim of an odd sort of reading slump.

Can I call this a slump? Bah. Not sure. It’s like this. I LOVE what I’m reading. I adore it. So much that I’m scared to read it because I fear I will be unable to stop reading until it is over and that I will be forever crushed (Thanks Jodi Meadows…The Orphan Queen is fantastic so far, and yet I’m scared it’ll crush my soul). I have books to read after it as well (I actually planned it out..kind of. We’ll see how that goes) and I am excited for those. But I have this fear..

You see… I’ve been reading mostly fantasy/dystopian type books for awhile now. I seem to only have an appetite for that at the moment and just cannot get enough. I Think I’ve mostly been reading fantasy since I picked up Throne of Glass in like…August (or maybe it was September…)? That is what Sarah J Maas has done to me. She has reminded me of a fantastic genre and about how great it can be. Since then I’ve been reading almost nothing but fantasy (maybe one or two books that aren’t fantasy). My fear…overdoing it.

So what have I been trying to do to avoid this possibly terrible dilemma, you may ask…

1. I have been trying to tap into genres I know I’ve loved before. Come back to me historical fiction, mysteries, and contemporary fictions. I NEED you!

2. I have been trying to plan out what I read next. I got an amazing gift from my OTSPSecretSister. She sent the Orphan Queen arc (which I am LOVING so far) and an Elizabeth Wein arc (she wrote Code Name Verity which I LOVED). I am planning on reading that after Orphan Queen, but who knows how well that plan will go.

3. I have been asking for recommendations. I want people to tell me what they love and why, because normally that will really truly turn me on to a book. Hearing how it hit someone else lets me know what that book is capable of, and even if it doesn’t get to me in the same way I still appreciate it.

And that’s about it. I am just searching for a book to break it up, because I am seriously scared of overdoing my obsession with fantasy novels lately. 

Anyone have any recommendations? Any ways that you happen to avoid overdoing a particular genre that you love? I would love to hear it. Seriously. Any and all recommendations are welcome as well as any tips to avoid this possible catastrophe.

That is just how much recommendations are appreciated 🙂

The Final Countdown!

I’m in the final countdown stages of my retail job! Hooray!!

But, let’s say…it has already been the longest stretch of work EVER! The customers have proven to be difficult, the management has proven to cause more unnecessary drama, the associates have started gossiping about each other even more, and I honestly just cannot wait to get out of there. I have only been at this job for 7ish months, but I feel like I could write a book just on shopper etiquette. A few examples…get off your phone when you’re at the registers (associates are people too and you’re just telling them that they are nothing), we aren’t lying when we say everything is out (what do you think the stock room is…a place where all the things you’ve ever wanted just magically appears? This is a serious question. I never asked if there were more stock of things so I don’t get it), clean up after yourself (there are garbage cans everywhere…perfect for garbage disposal, and things normally look nice for a reason), and…the associates are typically not out to get to you (hear them out on the rewards programs, be kind, and if you are unsure ask for a manager…they kind to call a manager when you are unhappy with something and they can do nothing about it). 

I try my hardest to put on a smile. I try my hardest to hear the customers out and to work together with associates. But man, is it getting hard. And as much as I would love to sit here and vent about everything and hope you take sympathy on me I won’t. With three shifts left, and three shifts that will probably seem to drag on for forever, I have decided to write post. I have decided to tell you just what I have learned from working in retail, because everyone should have to work retail for at least a short period of time in their lives. It would make us all a little nicer.

1. I have learned to be a little kinder to everyone I see. There is no reason to be rude to anyone. You don’t know what that person may be going through, and they don’t know what you’re going through. If I have a chance to be something that makes them smile on a cruddy day then I want to be that, even if it’s just because I saved them a little bit more on some shoes than they had anticipated. Who knows what that could mean to them? 

2. I have learned to treat associates with respect. I don’t think I was ever really disrespectful to sales associates, but now I am so careful about how I handle these things. I know how associates feel when they are at work, and I know how often people treat them kindly. They are humans too. They are working because they need to. They need the income and the sales experience. Why not help them to have a great day too?

3. I have learned to clean up after myself. Seriously, it’s not that hard. I know that associates get paid to clean, but a lot of times there are a bunch of other things they have to do as well. Why should I make a big mess for them? Why should I make their shift miserable and be that customer that they dread seeing come in? It’s not that hard, and it helps them too. 

4. I have learned to try to understand the return policy right away. Stores have return policies for a reason. And if for some reason I can’t get it back in time or whatever oh well. It’s my own fault because I read the policy and understood it.

5. Listen to the associates when they try to explain things. NOT ALL REWARDS PROGRAMS ARE CREDIT CARDS. A lot are coupons, and sometimes the associate really needs those sign ups or they’ll get kicked off of the registers by the managers, etc. Also, if I want to turn it down I WILL BE POLITE.

Basically, working retail has taught me politeness in a way that I never thought about. I can’t say that I was impolite before, but I would get upset or impatient. Sometimes I would feel like the associate was being a pain to just me, but that’s typically not the case.There are a few associates that are terrible at their job..but there are good ones out there. Make sure you let them know that you appreciate the work they are doing.

Ok, now I am off to find something else to do. I was really having a hard time calming down from today. There really is a lot of drama going on and I am like part of it (not willingly) but not a part of it. It’s weird. There’s so much tension and things are going to go downhill there fast. And I am like partially tempted to talk to the district manager, but I just don’t know if it’s worth it.

I appreciate this retail experience so much, and I have definitely let my managers know that. I really do feel that people should work retail or customer service at least once in their lives, not matter how long. I have learned so much and grown so much and wouldn’t take that back for the world. But I am so excited to move on.

Wow, this really did help me calm down. It took a lot of work to write things about my retail job and not make it angry. But all that thinking made me reflect less on my anger and more on why I’m thankful for this job. I don’t want to make this blog all about person posts, but man was this necessary for me.

And now I will go pen my novel titled “Shopper’s Etiquette 101: How to be that customer associates love.” Probably will end up on the bestsellers lists right?

How about you…can you find reasons to be thankful for a not so fun job that you have had in the past? I’d love to hear them. I am a firm believer in learning from the not so fun situations in life and trying to find some things to be thankful for (because there is always something).

Until next time! I hope to have something fun on here in the future!