Thursday, January 31, 2013

Book Review: Austenland

Austenland (Austenland, #1)Austenland by Shannon Hale

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I gave this book five stars because it was an enjoyable read for me.  I can't think of anything I didn't really like.  I don't want to over-analyze it because it was just a fun read, kind of a kick-back, read-in-the-bubble-bath, kind of read that doesn't require a lot of hard thought. 

There were some quotes throughout the book that I really liked, one in particular: "Why was the judgment of the disapproving so valuable?  who said that their good opinions tended to be any more rational than those of generally pleasant people?" (p. 112) That quote resonated with me because I tend to get carried away in seeking approval from others. 

I would recommend this to anybody who likes Jane Austen and also likes a fun, clean, romantic easy read.

View all my reviews

Friday, January 18, 2013

A Family Community

I have been reading the book, The Entitlement Trap, by Richard and Linda Eyre.  Chapter Three, Giving Your Children Ownership and Equity in Your Family, is very enlightening.  In it, they talk about how important it is to give your children a strong identity.  They talk about how this identity comes from their roots, their families.  Kids need to be able to identify with their families and have connections with them.  The Eyres give quite a few ideas on how to instill these connections in your children.  For example, by having strong family traditions (holidays and regular practices), developing a family culture and infrastructure, having weekly family meetings, family laws, and family mission statements, etc. 

I have been watching a weekly show recently called Teen Trouble.  In this reality show, a young man named Josh, who was a troubled teen himself, is now a teen behavior specialist and goes around to troubled teens and their families and helps direct them on the right path again and straighten out their lives.  One common thread I've noticed between the teens who've been highlighted is the fact that their family life failed them somehow.  Their parents clearly love them and have always loved them, but they never built this family "infrastructure", this family identity that the Eyres talk about in their book.

As I've pondered this, I've realized that there are many things about LDS culture that contribute to this family identity and that we can use to our benefit to really strengthen our families.  I always knew that things like Family Home Evening and family scripture study and prayer were infinitely important.  However, I never thought about it quite this deeply before, about how these three things contribute so very greatly to family connectedness and to really strengthening family bonds.  I never thought about how through these family bonds, kids can grow up in such a secure way, really feeling part of something.

I remember having a few Family Home Evening lessons on family unity, but I think I missed the point back then.  I understand it so much better now, even better as I'm reading this book.  Families are so important to the emotional and mental health of children and that is quite evident as we watch the current trend of the breakdown of the family, starting with a sort of anti-marriage sentiment that is sweeping through modern culture.  If Satan can make marriage seem trite, then families will be less important, and then individuals can be more easily torn apart.

We like to have a fancy family meal on Valentine's Day, either breakfast or dinner..

Family is the basic unit of society and a  unit that can be eternal.  It's no wonder why.  Heavenly Father sure knew what He was doing when He organized us into families.

Sunday, January 13, 2013


I am stumbling right now.  I feel like God has not answered any of my prayers for a long time and that has made me reluctant to even bother praying.  I feel like all I do is try, try, try but nothing ever comes of my efforts.

My kids are constantly fighting and nothing I say or do seems to help.

No matter how much I budget and budget, I feel like the finances are crumbling.  I'm also in a constant state of worry due to the rising costs of everything.  Food prices are supposed to go up.  Taxes increased and lots of people are reporting how it's already affecting them (the tax changes).  I honestly don't know how badly it has hit us yet because my husband's company only paid him for one week at the beginning of January instead of two.  Something about the dates every few years makes them think they should only give us three weeks worth of pay in January.  That alone hit us hard, getting paid for only three weeks instead of four.  We had to get our car fixed--a repair we've been putting off for more than a year.  We had half of the amount in savings but had to pay cash the other half, which will cut down how much we can pay on some outstanding debt, debt we've been trying to get rid of for seven years.  I just feel extremely frustrated.  I budget the money, I try hard to stick to the budget, we pay our tithing, but it just seems like things are not working out for us.

I'm frustrated with my calling.  That's putting it lightly.  It really, really bothers me that the same people always seem to be called to the same callings (other people who go from presidency to presidency and me who has held the same callings in all the wards I've been in as an adult).  It seems I'm condemned to be a lifelong member of the Relief Society committee when I'm not teaching Primary.  I wish I could have the opportunity to serve in a capacity where I actually get to know other people on an intimate level (face it, in church, the only way to do that is to serve in a presidency with them) or to have other opportunities of growth (teach in Relief Society, serve on cub scouts or activity days, or teach in Young Women's, to name a few).  I wish I could figure out what it is I'm supposed to learn from being on the Relief Society committee because maybe if I learned it, I wouldn't have to do it anymore.  When I was in college, I was once given the calling "Sacrament Meeting prayer coordinator".  I knew they had made up the calling so I could have a calling.  Sure, it probably helped them out to have the prayers arranged before church on Sunday, but it was a nothing calling that didn't really allow me to get to know anybody.  I know that callings aren't the only way to get to know people, but for someone like me, who isn't naturally outgoing and aggressive in meeting people, it sure helps to have a reason to get to know someone.

So, I'm feeling very low.  People ask if I'm excited about the upcoming baby, and right now, all I can think about is how worried I am about money.  It clouds over everything.  I'm so tired of budgeting down to the penny and then little expenses keep coming up--one child needs new socks, another child breaks his (much-needed) glasses, something goes wrong with the car, another smoke alarm stops functioning properly, etc., etc.  I know life isn't supposed to be easy, but can't we ever catch a little tiny break once in a while?


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