Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Book Review: Unbroken

I have read many a WWII book in my time but none were as fascinating as Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. The famous author of Seabiscuit has delivered the absolutely amazing story of Louis Zamperini, a famous Olympian and decorated war veteran. His strength and perseverance are absolutely inspiring. I will try not to go into too much detail about the book, because I don't want to give anything away. I'm not the kind of monster who doles out spoilers to innocent bystanders. Anyway, Everyone should read this book.

I learned a couple of valuable lessons from this book. 

First, through faith, family and perseverance, the human spirit can endure anything. Louis Zamperini was able to survive all of his unimaginable trials with faith and resilience. If Louis can survive WWII, I can survive any trial that comes my way. Louis Zamperini taught me that when hard times come, think of family and think of our Heavenly Father. They will never lead you astray and they will always be your number one supporters. Sometimes bad things happen to good people, but that doesn't mean that we've been abandoned by our Heavenly Father. Focus on faith and family and everything will turn out alright in the end.

Louie's homecoming

Second, my education on WWII was very American/European based. While I learned about the Holocaust, D Day, Pearl Harbor and the atom bomb at length in grade school, I knew very little about the Japanese involvement in the war. It makes me sad to think that such an important part of our history was practically ignored in my grade school education. Sure, I knew that the U.S. dropped Little Boy on Hiroshima, but in high school, I never would have been able to tell you why. I realize that there are millions of years of history that teachers have to cram into 12 years of K-12 education, so teachers do need to prioritize. I respect that and will be forever grateful to the hard working teachers who taught me from kindergarten to my senior year of high school. I just wish that there had been room for more history in my education.

I remember taking a class called Introduction to the Middle East in college. It opened up an entirely new world for me.  Upon entering the class, I expected to learn new things, but at the same time I also expected the same kind of lessons I'd heard dozens of times, like the Crusades. What I received was a completely new history that I had never before studied. Brand new stories with new protagonists and new villains, new governments and new religions, new wars and new treaties. What a feast of information that class turned out to be! This book turned out the same way. I expected a story about a war veteran and in the end I got a story about a war that I knew surprisingly little about and the war veteran whose story has given me an even greater respect for soldiers.

To conclude, read this book!

Louis Zamperini today

Check out my Goodreads page for more great book suggestions.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Learning to Doodle

I've always admired the bored artists that sat in front of me in classes. They could doodle a masterpiece during a lecture while the rest of us sad students were stuck with drawing tornados over and over again. Despite my lack of creativity during my pre-statistics courses in high school, I've always thought I had a knack for drawing. If I could just get a little bit of direction, I could draw pretty well. So I've decided to hone a skill that has been thus far left unexplored. I've started doodling cartoon characters with the help of a random cartoonist I found on Youtube. His name is Chris Hart; if you are interested in learning to draw something adorable, check out his Youtube page.

My desire to learn to doodle has been like a starter flame in me for a very long time, but it began burning brighter about 2 months ago when I was so bored I tried to draw Henry. It's clear I have a problem with perspective, but for a first try, I didn't think it was so bad.

I did all of these today and had a blast drawing them. I must say, I'm quite proud of my self. I am certainly no expert, but I enjoyed trying something new.

I drew a whole range of emotions on these little animals. Enjoy!

Sad Bunny - definitely my favorite

Happy seal

Angry squirrel - another favorite

Cute puppy - surprised puppy, maybe?

Bashful hippo

The whole crew
I had so much fun, I  think I'll draw some more as soon as I put this computer away.

Also, here is the tutorial that I followed to draw the little puppy. Try it out! Maybe there is an artist hidden in you, too.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Happy Things Happening

There are a lot of happy things happening this summer! I get to go home more often than normal because of all the happiness happening with both sides of my family. Some of it would be best described as bitter sweet. Emily and Josh are leaving on their missions soon which is sad but I'm proud of them.

Ryan and Dannie got married!

I love that they were married in San Diego. It made for one awesome weekend full of sun, family and Mexican food. What more could you ask for?

Such a cute couple!

We loved the San Diego Temple

Lindsy and Ryan got married!

Beautiful couple!

One of my favorite pictures from the wedding

We were not blinded by the bride and groom's love because of these sweet shades.

We danced. Oh, did we dance.

No trip is complete without seeing my beloved family! We went to the zoo and hung out with each other and had an absolute blast.

Love them!

Sister bear, Justin Be-bear, Lil' bear, Brother bear

Carson comes home from his mission!

I'm so excited to see this kid!!!!

He's the one wearing the mask.

Josh leaves on his mission!

He's so cool.

Emily leaves on her mission! (definitely a bitter sweet kind of thing)

I love this girl! She'll make an awesome missionary!!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

All Grown Up Now

I feel grown up today. I'm a big kid with responsibility now. It's not the full time job, graduate school, marriage or the fact that I am in my mid-early twenties that make me feel grown up.

I just planted my very first garden.

That's right, I'm a real adult now. Justin and I are now the caretakers of a beautiful 8 X 9 foot garden. We're as proud as peacocks; take a look at our hard work.

What did we plant?
1 pink rose bush
1 yellow/white rose bush
1 azalea
1 dwarf burning bush
3 Asiatic lilies
Lots and lots of petunias
Lots and lots of marigolds
Also a ground cover that is failing. We shoved it in the back. It's basically the red-headed step child of the garden.

My favorite is the white/yellow rose bush. The buds are just beautiful.

Sometimes I stalk my flowers by staring at them for minutes at a time. If plants had feelings, they would probably feel very awkward in the mornings when I stare at them while I eat my cereal. Call me flower creeper, it's alright, it doesn't offend me.

Have a great day... and admire our garden a little more.

Henry really only got in the way while gardening but we still allowed him into our triumphant photo.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Being a Graduate Student

I've learned a few things from my experience in graduate school. I've chosen the long and arduous road of going to school part time and working full time. This means that while everyone else has a blast during the summer, I'm still at work and still sitting through hours of class on weeknights.  Bleh.

Now don't get me wrong, as you can see from other posts on this blog, I have a great life and I don't have much to complain about. I am quite enjoying my time here at OSU but every now and then I do get a wee frustrated with school.

1. Graduate School ≠ Undergraduate:



2. Graduate school costs too much.. SCAM

3. Motivation is quickly lost

4. Homework meltdowns are common occurrences. 

(You can just ask Justin, he'll confirm that these happen too often for me)

5. Meltdowns end as soon as I realize it's Friday.

6. Graduate school has taught me a new level of procrastination that I never knew was possible.

7. Nobody knows what MPA stands for.

8. My most common reaction to seeing the new syllabus:

Well kids, stay in school. There sure is a lot to look forward to.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Just Five Hours Away

A common phrase that I have been using this month has been "It's just 5 hours away!" People are always surprised and it always makes me happy to tell someone about mine and Justin's latest adventures.

Why have I used that phrase so often? Well I've been to some pretty fantastic places in March that are only a 5 hour car ride away. Columbus is conveniently located within a day's drive of so many fun places. Justin and I decided to explore a couple of these this month.

First, Justin is the best. He surprised me with a trip to Niagara Falls for my birthday. A lot of people have asked how he managed to keep it a surprise. Justin is a clever one. He had me convinced that he was going to take me on some factory tour. Once, he even told me he was afraid his surprise would be boring. So when he picked me up from work I was expecting to put on a show about how excited I was to go on a tour of the Wendy's corporate offices. Instead, I found my large adventure coat in the back seat and my bags packed ready for a weekend at Niagara Falls! SO AWESOME!

We had a blast seeing the falls and walking the streets of Niagara Falls (on the Canadian side). Niagara Falls is pretty spectacular in the winter. The trees are all crusted with ice from the freezing mist and there are amazing ice formations along the river.
Best birthday surprise ever


Niagara Falls - American Side

Niagara Falls - Canadian Side
Canadian homes are upside-down.
Justin and I decided that we needed a little break so we went to Chicago for our second trip in March. We are political nerds and often listen to NPR. My favorite radio show is Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! It is a comedic political news quiz that will keep you laughing for the entire 40 minute show. The main goal of the trip was to see WWDTM and it was TOTALLY worth the 5 hour drive. It was absolutely hilarious and our favorite panelist, Paula Poundstone, was there. She was so funny. The show is even better live. You can try to hear our laughs and "woots" here: http://www.npr.org/templates/rundowns/rundown.php?prgId=35&prgDate=03-16-2013

While in Chicago we also went to Navy Pier and the Willis Tower. Both were a lot of fun. Standing on the little glass box that hangs out of the Willis Tower was much scarier than I thought. It was really dizzying to see how high up we really were, 103 stories I believe. 

We were also lucky enough to be there on St. Patricks Day weekend so we got to see them dye the Chicago River green! That was so fun. They even had a water-jet-packing leprechaun as part of our entertainment. 

Peter Sagal, host of WWDTM. SO FUNNY!

Paula Poundstone, isn't she a fabulous dresser?

It was foggy so the picture makes it hard to see how high up we really were.

View of the Chicago River

Dying the river green!

I hope that I can keep this tradition of traveling in March up. For the past 3 years, I've gone somewhere exciting around the world and I hope I can keep it up. In 2011 I was in the UK, and UAE, in 2012 I was in Mexcio, and this year I went to Canada and Chicago. Hooray for March!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Best Worst Dog in the World

This is Henry. He's my 3 year old Pomeranian mix and he is the best, worst dog in the world. You might ask what the best worst dog could mean. Well he is the best of all of the worst dogs in the world. Did that lend you any clarity? 

Please, let me explain. My darling fox-faced pup is a terror. I'm afraid that you may have read that wrong, he is not a terrier, he is a TERROR.

  • When we first adopted him he didn't quite understand the whole potty training thing. He'd just do his thing wherever he pleased which always resulted in us gasping loudly after stepping in it and then scrubbing for about 10 minutes.
    • His nickname is Poopy.
  • A good friend of ours was nice enough to take care of Henry while we were away for Christmas. When I was back I found out that he had wizzled all over their house. He even lifted his leg on my friend while she was wearing her new Christmas PJs. Devil dog.
  • Once, he vomited all over Justin. That was fun.
  • Henry freaks out over oranges. It's quite funny.

  • Sometimes he will growl at you when you smile at him.
  • Henry hates paper and somehow manages to find every little piece lying around that house. Just watch the video.

  • Henry has temper problems. One minute he will be perfectly happy and content and then next he is violently shaking his head and growling.
  • No plush toy can survive Henry's wrath. Here is a picture of the toy raccoon that I bought him for Christmas. He ruined it in a day. 

  • That said, Henry will never abandon a beloved toy. One day I found Henry stuck behind the couch with his toy just out of reach. At least he looked happy to be there.

  • Whenever I eat somewhere other than the kitchen table, I have to be aware of where Henry is at all times. Otherwise he drinks my milk. This cat cartoon about sums it up:

  • Henry barks at everything. You might think I am kidding but you can just ask the poor missionaries and they will confirm.
  • Oh and Henry hates the missionaries so he'll probably hate you too. Sorry.
Now you are probably asking yourself, "how could anyone love such a terrible dog?" Good question. But seriously, who could not love this face? Life is always better when you have a dog to welcome you home.

I love my little Henry!