Monday, April 30, 2012

The Vow

Another book on my reading list done! I read The Vow by Kim and Krickitt Carpenter in about an hour and a half today. It was one of those books you can't put down and, thankfully, it was a very quick read. It was also a true story. I love that, most of the time. A few nights ago, I was looking for something to keep me distracted while Jon went off to work for the night. So I picked out a movie I hadn't seen for a while: The Pursuit of Happyness. I was in the mood for feel-good inspiration. So I popped it in and settled down. It was great, Will Smith still impresses me. Then, as it was "inspired by true events" I felt the need to google the main character Chris Gardner and learn what was fact and what was fiction. Bad move. I'm not sure I can ever enjoy the movie again. If you've never seen it, stop reading this post and go watch it. It's a great movie and I don't want to ruin it for you.

*spoiler alert!*

So as it turns out, the business aspects of the story are mostly true, though somewhat condensed: what happened over a number of years in real life is squeezed into a few months in the movie. I could accept that. What really depressed me was the the personal parts of the story. First of all, in the movie, his son is five and its "us against the world" type of thing. In real life he was just a toddler and did not have much of an active role. Secondly, and much worse, there was no "Linda." No unfaithful wife. He was the unfaithful one. Chris Gardner was married and began an affair with a young woman who worked in the lab he worked at. This produced the aforementioned son. Then he left his wife. He didn't divorce her for almost a DECADE. Not long after his son was born, the other woman accused him of beating her (which he denies) and she left with their son. She didn't return with him until four months later. Despite all of his genius and impressive work ethic, their sacrifices and struggles, and his eventual success, I don't think I can enjoy this movie anymore. This man left a path of destruction while he selfishly chased his own pleasures and desires. I can only hope that he has repented for all of his horrible and painful decisions and that he lives his life the right way now, but judging by the fact that he allowed this movie to be made, I would assume not. To me, it makes him seem proud and arrogant. It's still a great story, and I can understand how laying the truth out would make the main character someone you'd rather root against. So then change all the names/places/dates etc, never reference who it was inspired by, and don't list all his to-date achievements.

This brings me back to The Vow. I hadn't heard anything about it. But I usually like sappy love stories and Rachel McAdams happens to be my favorite actress, so I intended to see the movie. Jon knew I needed some new books to read, and figured I had the time (or would soon) as my classes were winding down. He picked it up, read the first chapter and decided I'd love it, so he brought it home for me. Especially after my recent movie experience, I didn't expect the truth to be so much better than the Hollywood version. Now, I have not seen the movie, but I have heard that in relation to the book, scandal/infedelity was added to spice things up, and most of the religious aspect (i.e. the whole truth of the story) was edited out. Disappointing to say the least, but Jon pointed out that the movie will interest many people into reading the book and they will be able to give a real testimony to the miracle that God worked in their lives; all is not lost. I will still see the movie, but I'm so happy I got the chance to read the truth first. It makes me sad that Hollywood thought sex would sell better than miracles, but then again, I'm not really surprised. If you haven't read The Vow yet, I highly recommend it!

The Vow: The True Events that Inspired the Movie

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Progress for Progess' sake?

Not so much.

I had been debating about whether or not to take summer classes. The plan was to take two this summer, then 4 in the fall, complete my degree and then take a break from school for a bit. There were definitely advantages to this plan, apart from being done asap. For example, should we be moving next spring/early summer, this would free me up completely to house hunt, pack and move.

I thought the decision would come down to financial aid. So I filled out my fafsa early, applied for summer aid and then started looking at what classes were available that met my requirements. I picked out my classes, debating between taking on one or two and waited to hear back from financial aid. In the meantime, I researched different professors and went back and forth over what I actually wanted.

Then I got word that my application was accepted and processed. I would hear the decision and any applicable amounts toward the middle/end of June. What?! Yeah. When my classes were more than half over, I would find out if I would be receiving any aid. So then I went back and forth over the gamble. How could I not get aid? It wasn't really that risky. But then I hadn't taken summer classes before, maybe it was different then... Well, maybe just the one class then. But then what was the point? I'd have to take 5 in the fall (never doing that again!) or one in the spring. So then two. But what about the aid? Back and forth I went.

Then today, I finally decided based on gut and, I believe, some God-instilled peace coming from a sense of right. That's one of my favorite feelings. That radiating warmth coming from the sense that something, or everything, is just simply right. I decided to not take summer classes this year, thereby pushing my graduation off til next spring.

It does kind of bum me out that I will be deliberately crossing that off the NYR and I didn't give it my all. But I think some wisdom comes from recognizing that not every goal should be completed on the time frame you set for yourself, and some not at all. This summer looks like it's going to be pretty amazing. I don't want to tarnish that by heaping too much on my plate, as I've been known to do, and stressing myself and Jon out. I've asked the girls to sacrifice a lot over the years as Jon and I got it together. Before Ella starts Kindergarten, I owe her a summer with all of my attention (with Lily, too). Jon will no longer be working over nights and will be working a 9-5 job (more about that in a post coming soon). I can only hope that will carry over on to the fall for his final semester, but in the chance that it doesn't, I'm not willing to squander my time with him to study (week countdown is at 37 for those of you wondering).

Those are my two main reasons, but there are plenty of other little ones supporting it. Truthfully, now that the decision has been made, I'm no longer thinking about the drawbacks or benefits of the choice. My focus is forward. And I'm looking forward to a blissful, relaxing, fun summer with family, camping, vacations, bbqs, and bonfires. It's going to be amazing and I'm going to be 100% present, for a change. :]

**on a totally unrelated side note, I'm quickly becoming obsessed with this song and thought I would share: Eyes Open (Taylor Swift)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Books update- Lots of Jane Austen

Lately I've been reading both fiction and non-fiction. Jon, true to his word, took a spare moment to hunt down some hard to find Jane Austen books for me. I'm a huge Jane Austen fan and rather than just continue to read Pride and Prejudice over and over again, I thought I would check off one thing off my mental Bucket List (making a bucket list is on my bucket list :P ) and finish reading all of her works.

I finally finished Emma.
This was a little lackluster for me because I knew some of the plot, thanks to *spoiler alert!* being familiar with the movie Clueless and knowing it was based on this book. And it was a rather large book, so it took a little longer than expected. Overall though, I liked it. Jane Austen had been quoted as saying that the main character was one only she would like. It was definitely a strong contrast to her usual heroines, but of course she changed and softened Emma throughout the novel. I'm surprised Austen underestimated her abilities so much!

Then I read Jane Austen's biography. It was written by her nephew. Most of it was interesting and, I think, did her justice. I liked that he freely admitted information that was not proven fact or not his own. Sometimes it did get a little dry as it was sometimes information related to her rather than being directly about her. Sometimes I wonder how different her life would have been, and all of those she's touched, if she hadn't died so young, or if she had married. It seems that in the most social periods of her life, she wrote next to nothing. So I suppose, had she married, we probably never would have known her work. I feel kind of guilty being grateful for that, especially since she was believed to have been engaged for a very brief period (1 day actually, before calling it off) to a man. He left very soon afterwards (military if I remember correctly) and died shortly after. She probably suffered in varying degrees throughout the rest of her life. Luckily, her nephew, as well as her family, steadfastedly proclaimed that Austen was a devout Christian, so I look forward to knowing her in Heaven one day.

Anyway, after the biography, I did read the two manuscripts: Sanditon and The Watsons. Both seemed interesting, though the Watsons more so. I was thankful that because I read Austen's biography, I knew a few small details about how those stories were supposed to have finished. I never could have read them otherwise- I don't like to leave things permanently unfinished. Leaving something unfinished for weeks or months (or years in the case of my crocheting projects) I can deal with, but knowing it can never be completed? Nope, can't take it.

After the slow going non-fiction and fragments, I was really looking forward to reading a whole novel again, and I had one book left:

I was feeling sad that it was the last bit of unknown I had in my relationship with Austen, but I was eager to dive in. About 5 pages in, I realized that I had already read this one a couple of years ago. The irony is that, apart from Pride and Prejudice, it is my favorite story she's written. I have no idea how I forgot that I'd already read it, but there you have it. That was a huge letdown.

Now I am reluctantly finishing the last book I have in my Jane Austen bucket list. It is a collection of her written letters to family and friends. I expect this will be the least captivating of the lot, especially as a fair amount were published in the biography, and without background information, I'm not sure how much I will enjoy it.

After that, I'm out of book prospects. I could really use some suggestions for enthralling fiction!

Monday, April 2, 2012


So I was looking over my NYR to see what I've neglected thus far and saw "Make a Budget and stick to it!" still listed. I was ready to cross it off as a lost cause- our situation is no different from any other year and it's not about to change before Christmas, so what's the point, right? Then I was reading one of my new blog obsessions and one of the sub-topics was budgeting and money. Someone commented that despite having a small budget, they still squirrel money away for vacations etc. And that, basically, if the money was out, they stopped spending. As the commenter put it, "I do not like jeopardizing those future trips, or how soon we can get into our own home." And that struck a chord with me. Worse than hurting how much we can save, we've also had to dip into our savings. I thought it would have leveled out by now and it hasn't.

Despite all of the adjustments we have made, the red numbers are still super high every month. I was prepared to accept it as unavoidable due to several facts: our income is unreasonably small, our little girls are growing and eating more and more every day, Jon and I are both students, which is expensive for tuition and materials, we've had bad luck- particularly with car trouble this year, and I'm building a business which continues to require money. But that commenter made a good point and I'm ready to try again.

Part of the problem has been discipline, but more often it's been the unexpected. Until Jon finishes his degree in December, we have a very small income to stretch a long way. This leaves little to no room for surprises, so when they happen (all too often!) it breaks my motivation to keep the budget going. But one of  the nice things about having a blog is that it can help keep you accountable if you're honest. So I'm hoping that with renewed effort, plus a light at the end of the tunnel (4 months down, only 8 left!), plus something to strive for (I will be home-hunting again as soon as Jon starts his new job, although this time I will keep my priorities in the right order) will be the right combination to keep this budget afloat. Wish me luck!