Wednesday, April 1, 2015

"The Olive Tree: An Artistic Adaptation" Book Review

Jacob 5 is the longest chapter in the Book of Mormon, and for good reason. It contains the allegory--a symbolic story representative of human life--of the olive tree. It tells of the scattering and gathering of the Israelites and the role of the Gentiles. The allegory can be difficult to understand in this modern age, especially for those of us unfamiliar with the growth and care of olive trees. Three sisters realized this stumbling block and created an artistic work to better illustrate the allegory. They adapted the text and included calligraphy and paintings to beautify the story. (You can read the more detailed story of the book's creation here.)

*The language of the scriptures is kept to preserve its poetry and power.
*The artwork is beautiful, and the cohesion between the colors and style of the calligraphy and paintings is impressive. My favorite illustration is the one in which the lord of the vineyard is crying and his servant is comforting him.
*It makes a good companion book for scripture study or a family home evening/church lesson.

*It doesn't explain the allegory, so if that's what you're looking for, then this book is not for you.

To learn more about the sisters and the book or to purchase this lovely work, visit their site. You can also stay updated on the book through Facebook.

Monday, March 30, 2015

What Is Your Favorite Random Part of Your Body?

photo by Andre Larsson

We women tend to focus on either the body parts we want to make the most attractive or the body parts we want to make the most invisible. We put in so much time and effort accentuating the “good” and minimizing the “bad” and trying to bring attention to where we want it to be. Yet, I’m not going to tell you to stop stressing about and start loving those physicalities we fixate on most. Much has been said about that already. But what about the rest of our bodies? How do we feel about the body parts we discount or don’t notice at all? I say, find the beauty in them too. The best part about those forgotten features is there is usually no standard of beauty for them, so if you find them lovely, then they are!

I like my knees. I think they have a nice round shape (although I could do with lotioning them more, lol). I have a pretty collar bone, too. In fact, I find all my bony parts appealing. That may sound silly, but it is satisfying to be able to see beauty in every inch of me. 

Maybe you have sexy ankles or a cute belly button. Maybe you have a defined chin or toned shoulders. The possibilities are endless because each of our bodies is unique.

“What about body parts that no one thinks are attractive,” you may ask, “such as knuckles or nostrils?” Think of their uses instead, their reasons for existence. Without knuckles, you wouldn’t be able to punch someone who attacks you or give a good back massage to a friend. Without nostrils, you couldn’t breathe in your favorite food's fragrance, your sweetheart’s tantalizing cologne, or your baby’s pleasant scent. Those areas you think are flabby, your children or pets may find comforting as they cuddle you. The tongue you think is too wide or too narrow is the perfect size for saying “I love you.” 

Having gratitude and appreciation for what your body can do is the first step to loving it and finding it beautiful. So go to the nearest mirror and tell me, what random body part do you love?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

It's All about the Boys

It's been a long time since I've posted just about the boys! Caden is all about the potty humor right now: talking about poop and bums, farting, and shaking his bottom. He is learning so much and is interested in spelling everything right now. Some more Cadenisms: pizza skin (crust), ha ha (his taunting laugh, pronounced as written), roop (rope, since corrected), mark check (check mark), and dagnabit (he got that from me, lol).

Gabe is quite the character. He learned to kiss and wave hello/goodbye. He can sign dozens of words and always tries to copy whatever new sign I show him. He loves to sign and say dada the most. He can sign mama, but only if I ask him to and he won't say it. Instead, he says om and now ommy. [Update: a few days later he started saying mama and mommy!] When he wants my attention or is mad he screeches, "MAHM!!!" He also says da (ball), gah (car), shish (shoes), sis (socks), de-de (Caden), gook (cookie), shhh (he used to do it with his finger on his mouth too), uh uh (instead of no), Dudge (Curious George), choo-choo (for train), beep (for cars), eesh (fish), and dachoo (tractor).

He loves to cuddle with blankets and pillows, play with cars and stuffed animals, read books, color, jump, dance, and listen to music. He can retrieve items you ask for, clean up his toys, and pick out his clothes--that is, if he wants to. He went through a raisin-loving phase but has since moved on to cashews and peanut butter. I've also started weaning Gabe, and he is down to nursing three times a day and twice at night.

The boys fight a lot and like to rile each other up, but they also get into trouble together and love to chase each other and make each other laugh. They're the cutest, smartest, silliest boys a mom could ask for.

Monday, March 16, 2015

I Felt It Up Felt Toys Review & Giveaway [CLOSED]

I love felt toys! They're easy to clean and soft--no injuries if thrown or stepped on. Thus I was very excited to receive some handstitched felt toys to review from Jase's Etsy shop, I Felt It Up.

I have been on Etsy for 4 years now and have been crafting for just over that time. I gave up smoking and needed something to do with my hands; this is what I came up with. My mother is a life long crafter. I started out using traditional store-bought felt and making small fealties and trinkets. I certainly have fun making them but as time progressed I delved into glues, pastes, papers, metals and more. I consider myself a collage artist, or most say mixed-media artist. 

Jase sent me a camping set (3 fire logs, flames, a canteen, a compass, and a lantern), a decoupaged notebook, and 2 wooden chalkboard magnets. My 4-year-old loves the camping set!

*Super creative items! The camping set is not one I've ever seen before.
*Good quality items. Nothing has come apart, unlike items I've received from very successful, expensive shops.
*Nice variety of items in the shop for a broad audience.
*Great customer service. Jase is very polite and responds to messages in a timely manner.

*The items smelled like smoke. But the smell came out of the felt items in the wash.

One of you readers will win a set of felt Band-aids, prefect for stuffed animals and dolls or playing doctor! This giveaway is open to the U.S. only.

You can also use the coupon code SPRINGFEVER for 10% OFF $27+ through April 15!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Best Resources for Raising an Emotionally Healthy & Strong Girl

I have yet to be blessed with a little princess of my own, but that doesn't mean I haven't already thought about how I would want to raise her. And as a mother of two boys, I think that what we teach our sons about women is just as important as what we teach our daughters. I have found many excellent online resources for raising emotionally healthy, secure, confident girls--and boys who will support them.

A Mighty Girl

This source is my favorite for its thoroughness. It has inspirational quotes from influential women, true stories about women from history and current events, lists of books about such women or featuring strong fictional female characters, and advice about how to address sensitive subjects concerning womanhood.

Beauty Redefined

Founded by twin sisters, this site lives up to its name: to redefine the standard of beauty and encourage women to love themselves and change their priorities. Its motto is "See more. Be more." It also contains resources on how to teach modesty in an unshameful way for those who believe in certain dress codes.

Fight the New Drug

Dear to my heart, this movement is attacking the incredibly prevalent and harmful pornography industry. It reveals through science and personal stories (no religion or politics) how porn kills love and what a real relationship should look like. It helps both men and women see each other and themselves as more than just sexual objects.

Improving Birth

As a woman, giving life is a wonderful and personal privilege, and the manner in which it happens should be dictated by us mothers. This organization is increasing awareness of and changing women's rights in birth so we can make informed choices, feel respected and empowered, and improve our and our babies' health.

Darling Magazine

This magazine is about the art of being a woman and covers all aspects of womanhood. It focuses on inner beauty and personal development. It has stunning photography while keeping it real. You can read my more in-depth blog post about the magazine here.

What are your favorite resources for developing strong women?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Fear, Mesothelioma, and Lung Leavin' Day

Fear is a four-letter word to me. You name it, I'm scared of it. And like Harry Potter, I hate feeling fear. It's paralyzing, consuming, and sickening. While we all have our thoughts of which fears are the worst, I think most of us would agree fear for our lives is somewhere near the top of the list.

That ultimate fear is what Heather Von St. James endured when she was told at age 36, just afer her daughter was born, that she had mesothelioma (lung cancer caused by asbestos) and 15 months to live. She had her lung removed, and her sister named it Lung Leavin' Day. Every year, Heather and her loved ones celebrate that most frightening day by writing their fears on plates and smashing them over a fire. They turned it into a fundraising event as well and are trying to expand awareness for both the cancer and the fear-releasing ritual.

Although Lung Leavin' Day has already passed, Heather wants us all to be free from fear and right now--no need to wait for a special day to face them. We may not ever experience a life-threatening disease or other traumatic event, but we all have something in our lives that terrifies and prevents us from growing or moving on. I can definitely say I do, especially right now as I find myself at a crossroads, unable to take my first step due to fear of the unknown. If only it were as easy to overcome as smashing a plate to bits! But the symbolism behind the act is profound: recognize and name your fears, seize them, break them, and reduce them to ashes. May we all follow in Heather's footsteps and be brave. 

You can learn more about and follow Heather's journey on her blog and Facebook page.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

When Being Short Stinks

photo by Ariel da Silva Parreira
Most of the time I don't mind being a petite person. It comes with a lot of perks, and I'd much rather deal with the challenges of being a too-short female than a too-tall one. But sometimes it's downright frustrating, especially in these situations:

Having my head touched
Biggest pet peeve ever. I am not an armrest or a puppy. My head is off limits, thank you very much.

Shopping for pants
Pants are always too long, and hemming ruins the cut of the pants, so I decided to start shopping in the women's petite section. What an eye opener! Apparently if you're a petite woman you're also wide around the middle or you wear your pants up to your bra line. If you're short and skinny and trying to be fashionable you must be a tween. But I ain't that skinny, nor do I want to dress like a middle schooler anyway.

Folding sheets
Have you ever tried folding king size sheets with a 4-foot wing span? They don't come out pretty. And I thought the queen sheets were tricky...

Relying on step stools
In every room there is a step stool or chair so I can reach the stuff that is at most people's eye level. The worst is when I still can't reach it and I have to climb on a counter or other precarious place and then climb back down with whatever I have in hand. Then there are the times I'm too lazy to even drag the chair over and I jump up and down like a buffoon trying to grab something or put it back--only to have it fall on my head instead.

Slow dancing
Whenever that moment comes in a chick flick when the two love interests begin to slow dance and look into each other's eyes and kiss and the woman rests her head on the man's shoulder, I think every woman fantasizes of that happening in her relationship. Well, for me it stays a fantasy because my head doesn't go past my husband's chest. And I can't gaze into his eyes or kiss him long without getting neck cramps.

Being treated like a child
Sometimes I wish I already had wrinkles and graying hair so people can tell I'm an adult! Okay, so not really. But when I was pregnant with my first child--at the age of 23, after getting married and finishing college--I was always scared of being mistaken for a teen mom because at the time I was working at Party City with a bunch of high school grads, my fingers were too swollen for my wedding ring, and I was dressed in khaki pants and a ponytail everyday. I'd find any opportunity to drop the words "my husband." And in general, I get teased a lot, like the baby sister in the family. I thought baby sisters were supposed to be spoiled!

Moral of the story? Height does not equal age, maturity, intelligence, ability, or beauty. It's just a number. (But one that can sometimes be a nuisance, lol.)

Are you short, average, or tall, and how do you feel about it?
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