Monday, April 30, 2012

Pinheads and Patriots

I listen to many different audio books during the school year as I travel from school to school and no particular literary genre dominates my drives.

This year I have listened to Christian fiction, Christian nonfiction, fictional mystery, sports nonfiction, and political nonfiction to name a few.

Recently I finished Bill O'Reilly's book, Pinheads and Patriots.

Many of you may be familiar with the author, Bill O'Reilly from his Fox News Show The O'Reilly Factor.  I enjoy Mr. O'Reilly's Fox News show once in a while -- and to be very honest, I usually see it often enough when I visit my parents to fill my quota of seeing the show until my next visit.  :-D  I really enjoy Mr. O'Reilly's talking points on his show, but I find his manner argumentative, abrasive and, at times, hard to listen to.

That being said, I wasn't thrilled to be starting his book, Pinheads and Patriots.  I wasn't sure what kind of "Where You Stand in the Age of Obama" book I was getting myself into.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book!

I learned through listening to this book that when Mr. O'Reilly is the only one talking, his manner is not abrasive at all.  :-D  In his book, he talks about President Obama's policies, but he does not dwell on issues.  He brings up a topic, presents facts on both sides of the issue, gives his overall opinion as to whether this situation is Pinheaded or Patriotic, and he moves on.

Also, this book is not just about President Obama.  The book includes anecdotes about when Mr. O'Reilly first entered the field of journalism and how the first "No Spin Zone" came to be.

My favorite part of the book was the presentation of Pinheads and Patriots Throughout History.  Mr. O'Reilly discussed the actions and public perceptions of various American politicians and celebrities throughout history and whether, all things considered, they were an overall Pinhead or Patriot.  These figures included but were not limited to Marilyn Monroe, President Grant, President Jackson, President Lincoln, Janis Joplin, President Bush Sr., President Bush Jr., Madonna, Babe Ruth, and Annie Oakley.

All in all, I felt that Mr. O'Reilly presented a fair NO SPIN ZONE portrayal of the first few years of President Obama's presidency.  He brought up some valid and thought-provoking points and provided some political and international perspective to issues of which I was unaware.

I would definitely recommend Pinheads and Patriots to anyone who cares about the direction America is headed coming into this 2012 election; to anyone who enjoys history; and, to anyone who enjoys a humorous, informative narrative that provides you the opportunity to learn something.

I also especially recommend the audio book because I think it is fun to hear the author reading his own book.

Happy Reading!

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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Five Minutes on Community

I've recently come across a blog called The Gypsy Mama and she hosts a group each week that is five minutes of writing on a given topic.

The idea is to write for five straight minutes, no editing, no revising...

This week's topic is Community... GO:

Community comes in many shapes and sizes.

My parents' community is made mostly of friends that they have made in their home town over many years and decades.  They know these friends through work, church, business, organizations, functions, committees... you name it.  Over the years, these good friends have become their community.

Chris' parents is made of more of their family.  Chris' entire extended family -- on both sides live in the St. Louis area, so most of his parents' community consist of family that they have both known their entire lives.

How will Chris and my community look?

Chris has come to love the school where he teaches and we have worked toward getting to know other teachers and couples in our area.  I, on the other hand, work at a number of schools throughout 5 school districts -- I don't feel the same sense of community that he does with co-workers.


Wow, five minutes goes by really fast!

To read what others' had to say in five minutes about community, visit here.

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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Like My Dog

Chris and I heard this song for the first time a few weeks before we got Lloyd.

Chris has been in love with this song ever since:

Have a great Saturday.

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Friday, April 27, 2012

Sort of Pinteresting...

Today I had grand plans for a Pinterest-full post.

I was going to post 8-10 of my favorite Pinterest pictures and talk about what a fun website is has been.

After about 12 attempts and several hours of trying to "embed" 8-10 Pinterest pictures... I am giving up on that grand pinterest post given that my most recent attempt result in about 6 of the 8 pictures suddenly being deleted.

So, the bottom line -- Pinterest is a really fun website, and really difficult to incorporate into a blog post.

On this beautiful Friday, I will attempt to leave you with a couple of my favorite Pinterest pictures (fingers crossed):

Source: via Brooke on Pinterest

This last pin, I need to make really large so you can see the animal in every shot... I love this picture compilation

A very happy Friday to you.
Happy Pinteresting for those of you who enjoy it,
and please remember to pray for our troops.

Specifically, today I pray that they would find comfort in unexpected places -- maybe from a stray animal in a foreign land.

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Dream Wedding: Formal Family Pictures

After our wonderful run through the tunnel of roses, Chris and I jumped into our wedding limousine for a ride around the block... and then we returned to the church for formal family pictures.  It is so much fun to have pictures of our whole family all dressed up and formal.  The fun, crazy pictures came later.  :-D

Ready for our long ride around the block

Coming back into the church after the limo ride getting ready for pictures.  One of our ushers snapped this picture, and it is one of my favorites!

The Sanden family -- my parents, brother and his family

My nephews -- our "flag bearers"

Our good-looking parents!

Chris' family -- grandparents, parents, brother, sister and bro-in-law

Chris' siblings -- the twins

Our whole wonderful wedding party!

I love this family!

And then things began to get silly (see our best man's karate kick... and the look on my face as a result?)

Who is the clown who lightens up formal pictures in your family?

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Great Feelings This Week

This week, I've taken the time to recognize a few really great feelings so far this week.

Before I do that, however, I want to take a minute to wish my hubby a Happy Ten Months of Marriage!  Thank you for making my life paradise!

Please bear with me... some things just feel great:
  • Crawling into a bed with clean sheets
  • Trying a new recipe and deciding it was a success
  • My hubby hears that someone from his school needs help with something... its something I'm pretty good at, so he calls me and puts us in touch so I can help
  • Taking my kitty to the vet and hearing that she's in excellent health -- plus it was fun to have an outing just the two of us
  • Hearing my hubby say that he left his computer at home today because he wants to spend the evening with his beautiful wife (<3)
  • Having a friend contact me because she was reading something for graduate school that immediately made her think of me, so she sent me the link
  • Working out and having muscles that are tired, but not sore
  • Meeting a woman that has lost 63 lbs in 8 months because she made a goal last year to run a 5K with her daughter -- what an inspiration!  The race is coming up in ten days and this woman is ready!
  • Putting a new outfit together and deciding that it works **note, not buying a new outfit, but putting a skirt, top and sweater together that I've never worn together before all from within my closet**
  • Snuggling with my hubby after a long day
  • Hearing that friends have welcomed a healthy new baby into the world and into their family
All in all, a really great start to the week.

What are some great feelings you've had so far this week?

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Treasuring the Present: Becoming a Family and Opportunities to Learn

Today, I'd like to try to treasure something that I am really struggling to treasure...  in fact, I'm not treasuring it at all. 

Most days, I'm really frustrated with it, it exhausts me, sometimes it discourages me and I continually pray for strength to get through it -- not really a "treasuring" attitude.  Today, I want to focus on treasuring this process of becoming a family and opportunities to learn.

I like opportunities to learn.  I have always enjoyed school, I like reading new research articles on my career specialty, I love attending conferences, I like learning new things -- I even really enjoyed all I learned in my Turkey Hunting Women's conference about hunting and turkeys this past weekend.  My problem is, I do not always recognize the unofficial chances to learn around me every day.  These opportunities to learn are not found in a classroom, but in my interactions with my husband and animals.  Opportunities to learn about them as we continue becoming a family.

Every day, I have more chances to learn about my husband.  I have opportunities to learn how to be a better wife to him.  I have the chance to learn more about our animals and how to love them and teach them better.  I have the chance to learn more about myself as a wife and how to respond more lovingly when my husband or animals act in an unexpected way.

Every day, Chris and I grow closer as husband and wife.  Every day, we have been married is one day longer we've been a family (which, when you've been married less than ten months -- ten months tomorrow -- every day counts).  Every day, we become closer as a family with our animals and each other.  Every day is an opportunity to learn and to love.

I do not treasure every day with our puppy or our kitty.  When I take Lloyd to the pond to swim by myself, I come home frustrated and exhausted with this full grown dog who is still such a puppy.  When our kitty notices the weather getting warmer and the sun shining, I get frustrated that she tries to run outside five times a day, and often succeeds when I have my hands full or when our dog door is open.  These adventures with the animals often leave me frustrated and overwhelmed at the idea of our eventually having a family with human children in addition to our animal children.  In times like these, I have to take a deep breath, and snuggle each of my animals and pray that God will help me treasure these opportunities to learn and these adventures through which we become more of a family.

Some days, it feels like everything goes wrong and I rarely respond lovingly when things go wrong -- but we go through it as a family, and we get a chance to wake up and try again tomorrow, as a family.

Even after (almost) ten months of marriage, I am still not used to being social in the morning.  Despite my love for my hubby and our dog, I can have a grumpy streak in the morning.  To be honest, I never knew I had a grumpy streak in the morning because I never had interactions with anyone in the morning -- a little tip for those of you who are unmarried -- you might be grumpy in the mornings and not know it yet!

Every day is an opportunity for me to let my love for my husband and my puppy overcome my natural morning grumpiness.  Every day is a chance to learn more about each other as a family, and I want to treasure this process -- this process that will take place for the rest of our lives.

Here's to trying to make treasuring the process of becoming a family the new normal.  It won't always be perfect, it won't always be what I'm expecting -- but I can treasure the opportunities to learn.

What challenging things in your life are you treasuring today?

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Monday, April 23, 2012

Wild Kingdom Weekend

What a weekend I had...

To make a really long story short, Chris signed me up for a women's turkey hunt and assured me I would never get chosen to participate in this hunt.  Over 150 women applied and they only pick 6 women to participate.

I spent my Saturday afternoon learning all about Turkeys, Turkey hunting, Turkey calls, and shotguns.  Saturday night was spend in a truck checking out all the wild turkeys and other wildlife in our hunting area.

Look at these beautiful Tom Birds!

I never knew turkey's could be so beautiful!

Beautiful elk!

We even saw a bear!

She's a female... I hear the male is 150lbs larger

This beautiful waterfall at dusk

Look at these beauties!

And here they're ready for bed in the tree

Sunday morning was crazy -- 3:30am alarm clock and gathering to head hunting at 4:45am.  I got a lot of HUNTING out of this hunt... I did not do any killing.  The turkeys were very safe from me despite three attempts to have our freezer and table blessed with turkey meat.

Despite my attempts to "shoot" at turkey, here are my best "shots" of the hunt:

Beautiful elk on the side of the mountain

Too bad we weren't hunting for deer

Aren't they beautiful

Look at this gorgeous scenery

This place is about 30 minutes from our home

Here is a frozen waterfall

This is the best shot of a turkey I got all day... but she was a hen so I couldn't try to really "shoot" her

I was hunting with another women for part of the day, and she got an actual turkey while I got a picture of turkeys.  :-D

In other news, Chris and Lloyd spent Sunday playing together while I was on the turkey hunt.  Lloyd discovered cacti... he ran head long into this cactus patch:

And Sunday evening was spent with Chris and me still pulling spines out of his feet, legs and stomach... poor guy.

He was so good!  He just lays there while we try to find cactus needles.

How was your weekend?

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Dream Wedding: Through the Tunnel of Roses

After we greeted all our guests after our wonderful wedding ceremony, we prepared to run through a tunnel of rose petals.

Our faces are starting to hurt from all the smiling at this point... but we still just cannot stop smiling!  :-D

As our guests exited the church, we had two good friends handing out handfuls of rose petals (and directions to our reception venue).  It was a beautiful day for our guests to stand outside waiting for us.

Here we go!

What a fun run!

Given the amount of rose petals caught in my veil, I'm glad we went with rose petals over birdseed.

Safely in our limo at the end of the tunnel of roses

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