Apr 24, 2014

Books of a Lifetime

I've long felt that different seasons of my life have been characterized by different books. Here are a few that have been a part of certain times of my life:

6 years old, my first excessively long chapter book: Little Women. The story goes that Mom was reading it aloud to me, but I read over her shoulder, and between correcting her pronunciation and telling her to turn the page because I was done reading already, I exasperated her so much that she handed the book to me and said, "Read it yourself."

Elementary days: Anne of Green Gables (+ all sequels), Little House in the Big Woods (+ all sequels).

Middle school: A Series of Unfortunate Events. The Chronicles of Narnia.

High school: This is when I started reading and falling in love with C.S. Lewis's other works, i.e. Till we have Faces, Mere Christianity, The Great Divorce, and his Sci-Fi trilogy.

College textbooks: A lot of textbooks were boring, of course, but I've kept a few. Notably, all of my Chinese books for educational reasons...and Lament for a Son by Nicholas Wolterstorff because sometimes you just want to read a book that will make you cry for a couple hours, you know?

Night shift: When Angel worked night shift for the first 1.5 years of our marriage, I stayed up late every night reading because I never felt like going to bed by myself. I was introduced to Agatha Christie in my teens, but I read many, many of her Hercule Poirot novels during this period. Spending nights alone in a large empty farmhouse, seems like a good idea to read murder mysteries, right? Most memorable: Murder on the Orient Express, And Then There Were None, The Mysterious Affair at Styles. Also, during that time, Angel bought me the entire Cat Who... murder mystery series. Notice a theme?

Newlywed years: Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas. Hands down the best and most helpful marriage book I've read, mostly because of the revolutionary theme: "What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?"

Right now: All the Wrong Questions series and other new Lemony Snicket books. The main reason these are the books of right now is because I just found out that they existed a few weeks ago, ordered them, and have been proceeding to devour them with great haste.

Apr 22, 2014

When Marriage Isn't What You Expected

I knew all about the "wives, submit to your husbands" verse before I got married, and as a rather old-fashioned gal, I was 100% ready to  "love, honor, and obey" as the vows say...but as it turned out, that didn't turn out to mean quite what I thought it might mean when I was single. Some of what submitting looks like in real life has surprised me!

Since being married to Angel, I've found that, for me, submitting to my husband looks like:

-Swing dancing with other guys who are better dancers than Angel. He wants me to dance with them for two reasons: 1) So that he can run to the ice cream shop and get himself a chocolate ice cream cone and have a break from dancing and 2) So that I can learn new moves which I can teach him later on.

- Listening to his request that I NOT make him a wonderful, healthy, cooked-from-scratch dinner every single night when he comes home from work. Although he enjoys my cooking, he says that sometimes he'd just love it if I called him and said, "Honey, I didn't cook today so can you bring home a pizza?" So strange.

- Not doing the laundry so frequently. I'm hard-wired to do laundry before it piles up, but for whatever reason he prefers that I only do laundry after a lot has piled up AND he doesn't allow me to wash his uniforms, he washes those himself because of how dirty they are.

- Staying away from him at night. He builds a wall of pillows down the middle of our bed, calls it the "border" and tells me I'm not allowed to cross it because he doesn't want me to touch him while he's sleeping.

- Dressing differently. I come from a modest culture, but Angel's made it clear from the beginning that he detests my floor-length skirts and baggy tunics that I've had for many years, and has requested that I dress differently. In fact he's said that the way I dressed when we first met made him instinctively not want to be my friend (apparently the clothes weren't that big of a deterrent in the end, though). He has asked that I wear shorts and shorter skirts than I ever have in the past, so I do when we're together and the weather is hot. He's generally 100% opposed to all clothes that I consider modest but we find a happy medium in my usual look of knee-length dresses and or skinny jeans and tops. That's an interesting problem for a wife to deal with--a husband who takes a great interest in what I wear and also is vehemently opposed to conservative clothing.

-(And Angel just yelled out to me, "Don't forget to say that I'm totally okay with your clients kissing you on the cheek as long as they give you a $10 tip." That happened once after I shaved off a guy's beard for the first time in 25 years and he was very emotional about it and hugged me and kissed me. I thought it was impossibly awkward but Angel found it both hilarious and profitable.)

I don't know what I was expecting when I got married, but I'm pretty sure this wasn't it. I have certainly learned that being a submissive wife doesn't mean simply doing whatever I happen to think that 'good wives' do, but rather taking into account what my husband would like his own wife to do.

Did any of your spouse's quirks surprise you when you got married?

Apr 21, 2014

How to Not Shop for Clothes

 Crazy wind...

 Quick! Take my picture in between gusts!

I like clothes as much as the next girl. In fact, possible more than some girls. I'm not addicted to shopping, but I enjoy it. However, the only piece of clothing (including shoes and accessories) that I've bought in 2014 (other than these $4 jeans) is this dress. And the primary reason I bought it was because I had a gift card to eShakti so I only had to pay $13 out of pocket for this adorable dress.

I also haven't made a big deal about a no shopping oath or ban of any kind, I simply haven't bought clothes. Here's how I go months without buying new clothes:

1) Be highly motivated.

My motivation is the fact that we're moving in a couple of months and I probably won't even be able to take all of the clothes I already own and love with me. This upcoming move is enough to motivate me both as far as saving money and not adding any more items to everything that we already have to pack. If there's no motivation, no reason to avoid buying new clothes, you might as well buy them!

For other people, the motivation may be something different. Needing to save money to buy something more worthwhile than clothes. Having a closet that's already overflowing. Planning to be wearing a different size of clothing soon. For me, it's the prospect of moving.

2) Don't hang out in the mall long enough to fall in love with something.

I love the mall. It's silly, but I do. I couldn't stay away forever, but my strategy is to only go with Angel. Angel walks very fast and I don't have the time to fall in love with a new dress, but I still get the fun of looking at pretty things and interesting people, which is why I really love the mall.

3) Be a blogger.

Obviously I don't count accepting clothing reviews as "shopping"--and you can bet I'm taking that fuchsia dress eShakti sent me for review with me when I move! But as a blogger who occasionally gets a new piece of clothing to review, that can satisfy that slight itch for something new in the closet!

4) Love the clothes you already have.

I love my wardrobe. Maybe I'm biased, but my dresses and shoes, the ones I already own, are my favorite dresses and shoes in the whole world. Choosing outfits out of what I already own is a happy process. I think not shopping would be much harder if I didn't like the clothes that are already in my closet. In my opinion, the foundation to being able to skip shopping for months at a time is to build a closet of clothes that you truly enjoy wearing.

I don't feel like I'm missing out by not shopping, even if the sparkly and colorful things still catch my eye.

What's the longest you've ever gone without buying anything new?

Apr 18, 2014

Are You Trying to Make Me Angry?

I was mad. Very mad. No one would listen to me, nearly everyone was ignoring the seriousness of the situation.

It all started when Rebekah brought the polar bear into the house. Yes, a real live polar bear. She was so happy to have found a new "friend" that she failed realize what might be the consequences of bringing a huge predator into the house. Sarah and MaryGrace seemed to love the polar bear too, and Angel was nowhere to be found. Only Mom and Dad recognized the seriousness of the situation and immediately began working on calmly luring the bear out of the house.

Rebekah, the one responsible for bringing a polar bear inside the house.
I left to assess the situation outdoors, but was dismayed at what I saw. Polar bears were everywhere--all over the yard. And not only polar bears, either. Lizzy was out there, hugging a bunch of pandas and hanging out with some hyenas. I gestured to her violently from the window to come inside to safety (well, it would be safe once Mom and Dad finished luring the polar bear outside), she saw me, and ignored ny gesturing, preferring to hang out with her animal buddies. I was muttering under by breath: "This is JUST like her. Always wanting to be friends with animals--Lizzy, sure, you think they're cute now, but these bears could kill you. With one swipe of their claws they could mangle you. Don't make me run out there and drag you inside. You don't understand the situation. This is dangerous."

Lizzy. She just looks exactly like the type of person who WOULD hug pandas and pet hyenas, doesn't she?

With my sister outside, breaking my heart by continuing to put herself in harm's way by continuing to play with hyenas, pandas, and polar bears, I got even angrier when I realized what had caused this whole mess in the first place: There was food garbage all over my lawn. All of a sudden, I realized that my grandpa had decided to save money on garbage removal by disposing of all food waste--eggshells, potato peelings, chicken bones, wilted lettuce, in my YARD and this garbage had attracted all of these animals. What was wrong with these people?

At least Mom and Dad were on the side of sanity, even if no one else was. The polar bear was safely outdoors and away from us, and the little girls were safely playing with their dollhouse, but now my parents and I were conspiring about how to safely get outdoors and bring Lizzy inside whether she wanted to come or not. We knew we couldn't make any kind of ruckus and she'd have to go willingly or the animals might be incited to attack...

...And then I woke up. No wonder I feel tired in the morning after adventures like that all night.

Anyone else dream like this?

Apr 17, 2014

Chicago Adventure

I'd been craving a just Angel-and-me getaway for some time now. We decided it would be a better idea to plan travel after the icy roads were done for the season, so we used Airbnb (2nd successful Airbnb booking!) to reserve an apartment in downtown Chicago for two nights.

During our 48 hour getaway, we were able to accomplish a variety of adventures, including but not limited to:

-Visiting friends
-Taking the subway/train/whatever they call it
-Visiting Chinatown, where Angel found a new favorite snack: dried fish.
-Learning to play Settlers of Catan
-Eating appetizers at Roy's Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine (sweet potato fries were amazing!)
-Eating chocolate cake at The Cheesecake Factory (because Angel detests cheesecake)
-Walking lots and lots of miles.
-Wandering around the mall at the Watertower
-Eating lunch at Frontera Fresco, purely because we'd been to the Frontera Fresco in the international terminal at the Chicago Airport before when we were in transit, and Angel loved it.
-Exploring the Field Museum
-Exploring Navy Pier, including the (free!) Smith Museum of Stained Glass and Crystal Garden and drinking a (not free) smoothie from Jamba Juice.
-Watching the latest Once Upon a Time episode on ABC.
-Working out in the gym at the apartment building.
-Eating dinner at Chipotle.
-Watching 5 episodes of Psych on Netflix.

I wanted to hit up the Lincoln Park Zoo, too, but Angel wasn't up for another several mile walk in 37 degree weather with no earmuffs, so we decided to relax more than we would have had the weather been nicer!

 Our view of a snowy and rainy mix from the 37th floor apartment.

 Mandatory River Photo

 Interesting advertisement battle.

 The actual skulls from the very scary lions from the true story of man-eating lions which inspired the movie The Ghost and The Darkness. (In a strange turn of events, once upon a time someone gave us a DVD player which had The Ghost and the Darkness DVD inside it...so we watched it. Otherwise, I probably never would have heard of this terrifying tale)

 This mineral was exhibited at the 1893 World's Fair and they let us touch it! (The sign said we could)

 My favorite stained glass picture from the museum.

 I was quite enamored with this fountain in the Crystal Garden.

This was Angel's favorite museum exhibit, of course.

We also learned a few lessons about city life, and its differences from small-town life in West Michigan:

-You ride elevators a lot more. And I don't particularly enjoy having to rely and wait for an elevator to get in and out of my own home, but when you're staying on the 37th floor, you don't have much of a choice because the stairs don't sound fun either.

-Angel learned first-hand that people in the city are much less trusting, probably with good reason. A bunch of people were getting on an elevator, and the lady in front of us was having a hard time pulling her rolling suitcase onto the elevator because of the little ledge, so Angel bent down and put his hands on her suitcase to help her lift it over the edge and she immediately started shouting at him to get away and get his hands off of her stuff. I'm guessing she felt very threatened and scared because of what he'd done--though I do think she overreacted, of course that's because I know and trust Angel. He apologized to her when we all got into the elevator but she continued to yell directly at Angel and all the other people in the elevator who were not affiliated with the incident--I felt so bad for the other people in the elevator, including our friends' baby who started crying because she was scared of the yelling. Angel probably should have known better than to do that in the city. Where we live, it's normal to do stuff like pick up something someone dropped and hand it to them or catch a blown-away grocery cart for them or, say, help someone pull their suitcase over a ledge, but it doesn't seem  appropriate in a large city. Next time we'll wait until someone asks for help to assist. Or maybe Angel won't. I can't quite always predict what he'll do. He says he doesn't mind getting yelled at, he's used to it because of his job. But I can relate to the crying baby because I was quite nervous, myself!

-There is construction everywhere. I don't know if this is normal for Chicago or if it's construction season, but there was construction in the building we stayed in, the street we were staying on, the Field Museum, AND Navy Pier. Construction everywhere!

-The city is so much more fun to cheapskate-me when we don't have to pay to park everywhere we go. Our apartment included a parking pass, and after we arrived, we walked almost everywhere we went (we took the train to Chinatown). The museum and Navy Pier and other adventurous places start to sound so much more appealing when you don't have to pay $20 for parking everywhere you go. The weather wasn't ideal, but we still conquered!

We returned home on Tuesday with sore legs and interesting memories.