Monthly Archives: January 2013

WordPress weekly photo challenge: Love

If love is a blessing, then I am truly blessed. There’s a lot of love at our house and I’m reminded of it every day.

My almost five-year old finally tells me he loves me, without adding his special “love” words behind it. He’ll come over and gives me a big, squeezy hug and a kiss and tell me he loves me. The other day, he told me, “Mama, I love you so much, I’m going to write you a love note”. Well, lucky me, I got not one but two love notes!

Wordpress weekly photo challenge: Love

WordPress weekly photo challenge: Love

His brother has been writing me love notes for a while, so he sets a good example. :-)

They enjoy using my Post-It notes to do that, so they got a couple of packs each in their stockings for Christmas.

Besides giving me love notes on small pieces of paper, my eldest also likes to use the notecards he gets at school to share a tender message. Here’s one example of what can be inside his cards. He sure knows I love pink and purple! Look at me, I look good!

Wordpress weekly photo challenge: Love on a notecard

WordPress weekly photo challenge: Love on a notecard

He also likes to take over the whiteboard above my desk to leave me love messages. How could I ever erase that?

Wordpress weekly photo challenge: Love and heart

WordPress weekly photo challenge: Love and heart

My kids want me to save their love notes and I do. Here’s a nice stack of them on my desk.

Wordpress weekly photo challenge: Love notes on Post-it

WordPress weekly photo challenge: Love notes on Post-it

How can I look at these love notes and not feel blessed? The Beatles were right. Love is all you need.

WWW Wednesdays – January 23, 2013

WWW Wednesdays

Yes, technically today is Thursday but I finished writing this post late last night, so I saved it for this morning. I tell you, I could really use an extra two hours in the day, every day!

My bookshelf

Still life with crows by Preston & Child– What I’m currently reading 
Still Life With Crows by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. This is my very first encounter with both authors. My best friend gave me this book a year and a half ago for my birthday and I’m finally reading it now. I have a feeling I’m going to bite a few nails off while reading this story…

– What I recently finished reading
Are you there, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume. What a sweet book! I’d never read it until now, and now I wish I had read it when I was a preteen like Margaret. She’s such a lovable character, you can’t feel anything for her but love and empathy. I enjoyed her search for religious purpose throughout the duration of the story. She originally didn’t have an issue speaking to God without belonging to a specific religion, having been raised religion free, until her new friends told her she had to pick one. Her adaptation to a new suburban life and friends and the discoveries of her body are something I would think most girls and women can relate to. I loved how Margaret stood up in front of her parents and grandparents to claim her religious independence and personal choice. I would love to find out what became of Margaret when she grew up. Did Judy Blume ever write about that?

The 100 Simple Secrets of Happy People by David Niven– I also read two books on happiness: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, and The 100 Simple Secrets of Happy People by David Niven. You can read my full reviews in my post The pursuit of happiness from earlier this week.

– What I think I’ll read next
Coma by Robin Cook (it’s waiting for me at the library). Carrie at The Write Transition suggested I read it. I figure it’s only fair I do it, after all the books I’ve recommended her to read! I think I also have Harmful Intent on my personal bookshelf to read, if I really like this one.

My kids’ bookshelf

Paddington Bear by Michael BondWhat they’re currently reading
Books with Paddington Bear by Michael Bond! I can’t believe it’s taking me so long to introduce my kids to this super cute bear from Darkest Peru. Especially because I read several of these books as a child. Of course we started with the first in the series, Paddington. We’ve also read Paddington Bear at the Circus, and Paddington Bear and the Busy Bee Carnival. I have more Paddington books coming from the library, including some pretty long ones, and some in French. Yeah, Paddington!

Little Bear Treasury by Elsa Holmelund Menarik– What they recently finished reading
The Little Bear Treasury by Elsa Holmelund Minarik (pictures by Maurice Sendak). We love Little Bear and we tend to borrow these stories a few times a year from the library. Little Bear is just like my four-year old in his thoughts and actions. It’s an early reader book and my son reads words and short sentences in there, so it’s an added benefit to these sweet stories.
No dinner! The Story of the Old Woman and the Pumpkin by Jessica Souhami. We’ve read this story in French in the past, but it never gets old. This is the retelling of a folkstale from India, where an old woman outwits a wolf, a bear, and a tiger who want to
eat her while she crosses the forest to go see her granddaughter. This version is very funny and very witty, and my kids really like the simple, yet bold, illustrations.

– What I think they’ll read next
I don’t know but I’m sure it will be good stuff. What about you? Any books you or your kids are reading you’d like to share?

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The pursuit of happiness

happy faceThis past week, I’ve read two completely different books on the subject of happiness. I was going to wait for my WWW Wednesdays update to post my reviews. Then I thought they deserved a post of their own, so I can rather your feedback, especially if you’re read one or both books.

A few months ago, I read a wonderful book called The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor, which focused on positive psychology (you can read my review of The Happiness Advantage here). I found the subject fascinating: how cool is it that you train / retrain your brain to think in a more positive mindset? Ah, the power of the mind…

I recently shared how I’m going to focus on the positive in 2013, so I thought reading a few books on happiness would be a good start. Well, I had completely opposite experiences reading the two books below. Because I’m focusing on the positive, I’ll start with my bad experience and finish with the better one. Happy thoughts!  :-)

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
How this book became a New York Times bestseller is beyond me. There have to be millions of very unhappy people who thought this book would turn their lives around, so they rushed to buy it. The Happiness Project is disappointing in so many ways, I can’t describe all of them. Or worse, it would make me unhappy.

After reading The Happiness Project  (well, technically I browsed the rest of the book after reading the first 100 pages – I figured I wasted enough time already), I understand why Gretchen Rubin was so unhappy with her life. It seems she has NO clue how to enjoy it. And what a life it is, one I can’t even relate to. Doesn’t she have it all: the ritzy apartment in NYC, the super rich, super nice husband (his family has hundreds of millions of dollars), her part-time job as a writer, her housekeeper, her nanny, her personal trainer, her big wallet…

After reading about her life for the first 100 pages, I couldn’t figure out why she was complaining about being so unhappy. And yes, she complained, and whined, and nagged (mostly her husband, poor guy). Then it dawned on me: she appears as a rigid, ungrateful, controlling grouch. At least she’s honest in her self-evaluation, but it’s a little disturbing. She clearly LOVES making check lists, about everything, and it’s the only way she’s figured out to include happiness in her daily routine. How pathetic is that?
– Remember to smile at one person. Checked!
– Sing a happy song. Checked!
– Laugh out loud. Checked!

Seriously? Is it how we should live life in order to enjoy it? Er, I’m not signing up for that program!

Well, I’ll admit it, I did laugh out loud reading this book. Especially when she described that reorganizing her closets made her happy. Wow, more organized and cleansed, maybe. Happy? She’s stretching it. The poor woman doesn’t know how to have fun, how sad.

Oh, are you ready for this one? Gretchen Rubin tried to keep a gratitude book, where she would write down a few things she was grateful for every day. She didn’t last two weeks because it “annoyed” her! She didn’t like “forcing” herself to find things to write down so often. I think it may have more to do with the fact that she can’t grasp what gratitude really is. I keep a gratitude notebook and even on my worst days, I still find things to be grateful for, including “I’m grateful this day is finally over and I get to start fresh tomorrow!”  :-)

And the list goes on. She decided she wouldn’t read books that included “unjust accusation”, including To Kill A Mockingbird. Seriously? Did you know Gretchen Rubin is a lawyer? Now, that’s disturbing.

The most laughable part? When she realized that “money CAN buy happiness”. Well, not s^%t, if you’re stinking rich like her. Ha! What a joke.

She “forced” herself through so many new experiences that were very unpleasant to her. Laughing out loud was one of them. She didn’t want to watch funny TV shows because she didn’t want to feel “obligated” to laugh. Obviously she’s never watched Modern Family. But then again, she probably wouldn’t find the show funny. I bet what made her the happiest was to create all those check lists, along with her happiness chart, and her happiness project toolbox. You can download it all on her website. Woohoo! Ugh, no thanks.

This book is such a downer, I think reading any other book will make you happy, including the one below. If you really liked The Happiness Project, I want to hear about it. Really, tell me.

The 100 simple secrets of happy people by David Niven

The 100 simple secrets of happy people by David Niven

The 100 Simple Secrets of Happy People by David Niven
This little book is great! It’s full of happy thoughts and ideas. Each happiness “secret” starts with a basic statement, with a short explanation below. Then follows a real-life story as an example. Finally a short paragraph explains the research, includes statistics and references. The secrets of happy people cover a lot of areas, including friendship, health, career, free time, leisure:
– Turn off the TV (one of my favorite)
– Money doesn’t buy happiness (thank you for being right on this one, unlike Gretchen Rubin!)
– You always have a choice (I love it!)
– Accomplish something every day
– Be  your own fan
– Say “so what”
– Have a purpose

Here’s an example of one of the secrets, Enjoy the ordinary:

100 simple secrets of happy people - example

100 simple secrets of happy people – example

One item I didn’t see on the list is “Stay away from negative / unhappy people”, but I truly believe in it. Those people can suck the happiness out of you faster than Harry Potter’s dementors. Wait, J.K Rowling was right, there ARE real dementors walking this earth. Fortunately I’ve trained myself to smell them a mile away and I flee them like the plague.

The 100 Simple Secrets of Happy People is a very simple book, very hands-on. It serves as a great reminder of how happy life can be if you make simple changes that affect your perspective, thoughts and actions.  I recommend this quick read for anyone interested in finding new sources of happiness, or someone feeling stuck in a rut.

Have you read great books on happiness? What are some of your favorite? Do you consider yourself a happy person, or would you like to be happier but are not sure how?

My kids say the darndest things – the January 2013 edition

I’m skipping my WWW Wednesdays update because I’m still reading Killing Floor by Lee Child (it’s very good by the way). Instead I’ve got something I think you’ll enjoy very much.

My kids have been saying some pretty funny things recently and I’ve tried to write them down so I wouldn’t forget. Unfortunately I missed a few but I still have a good list to share. I love to witness first-hand how their little brains work, and what their thought process is.

Warning: this post is rated R for some crude language. I could have bleeped it, but I don’t think you would get the full effect that way. It’s much funnier with the dirty words. :-)

Reminder: Son#1 is 6 and a half years old at this time. Son #2 is almost 5.

New year's resolutionsA child’s new year resolutions
Son #1: “Our writing at school today was about our new year’s resolutions.”
Me: “Oh, yeah? What did you write about?”
Son #2: “I wrote I want to eat healthy foods, exercise, and not smoke.”
Phew, I’m glad to hear, especially about the smoking part!

The way to a mom’s heart is through her son’s stomach
Son #2: “My favorite part of the day is when I bake with you, Mama.”
Me: “How nice! I love baking with you too.”
Son #2: “Can we bake some chocolate chip cookies now?” (big grin)
Argh, I was tricked by a four-year old!

A grandmother’s age
Son #2: “Mami* is 100 years old.” (*my mom)
Me: “Really? How do you know that?”
Son #2: “Because all grandmothers are 100 years old. And then they die. Because nobody lives older than 100.”
I guess grandmothers get to stay 100 years old for a long time…

Know your superheroes
Son #1: “Mama, what’s Dr Seuss’s real name again?”
Me: ” Er, let me think about it, it’s on the tip of my tongue.”
Son #2: “Bruce Wayne!”
Yep! Batman, Dr Seuss, they’re both superheroes from a child’s point of view.

Know your animals #1
Son #2: “Do you know a wild asshole is an animal?”
Me: “Um, it’s called a wild ass.”
Son #1: “No, Mama, it’s called a wild asshole!”
These are the times when I know to give up trying to educate my kid, and just walk away.

Macaroni penguinKnow your animals #2
Son #2: “Look Mama, it’s a… a…” (pointing at the photo of an animal)
Me: “A penguin?”
Son #2: “What’s that called again? A mac and cheese penguin?”
Oh, so close! By the way, he did recall it was a macaroni penguin later. He knows more animal names than I do.

The letter F
My four-year old studies a new letter every week at school and the teacher asks kids to give her words starting with that letter every day. The letter F was coming up the following week so we wanted to brainstorm and find some words.
Me: “What words starting with F do you know?”
Son #2: “Fucking.”
Me: “No, you don’t say that word at school.”
Son #2: “How about fuck?”

Sounds like…
Son #1: “Can we do a conquest?”
Me: “Sure, what are we conquering?”
Son #1: “Mama, I meant contest!”
Why not go along? It sounded like fun. :-)

When I grow up
Son #2: “Mama, what do you want to me when you grow up?”
Me: “I’m already grown up.”
Son #2: “Oh… What do you want to be when you’re already grown up?”
You can read more about our “When I grow up” conversations here.