Thursday, January 29, 2015

Our Very Large Puppy

Arkhon is now 28 weeks old, That means that he's almost 7 months old. He is getting really tall, but he's not very heavy still. He is built like a sprinter and he is very, very fast. When we go to the dog park, he runs circles around the other dogs.

Our little puppy is now taller than Dakota.
 She's still in charge though. If he gets on her nerves, she shuts him down pretty quick. He is very submissive to other dogs, and gets along with everyone.

He knows how to sit, stay, shake, speak, heel, lay down, jump, stand, and hold treats on his nose. He is very gentle with Kevin and he loves everybody he meets. He almost always comes when he's called, and he is very good at staying out of the kitchen. He very rarely has accidents in the house, and we're working on barking when we need to go outside.

If he has one fault still, it is that he still can't contain his excitement when people come over to visit, or when he sees people outside that he knows. We're still working on not jumping on people, but once he gets over his initial outburst, he does really well.
 Arkhon loves to play with his brother Loki. From left to right in the above picture, you have Arkhon, Dakota, and Loki. The puppies are both about the size of Dakota now. She's still got weight on both of them, but that's about all.  

Kevin and Arkhon love to play together and they chase each other around the house. Kevin greets Arkhon each morning with a "A-ming, Khon!" It's very cute. 
Kevin loves his puppy. Arkhon is very patient. 

Things are going really well. We've had a couple of hiccups with the house that seemed like bad news at first, but might actually end up to be the biggest blessings we've received yet!

We haven't put as many pictures up of Kevin recently, because he has recently developed an aversion to clothing, and really, usually I don't see a reason to force him when we're in the house. He keeps everything on fine when we're outside, and he is letting his diaper stay on, so I'm not too worried about it.   

We've been abundantly blessed, and we're so excited to have a yard! Arkhon and Kevin are going to love it!

Dakota is going to enjoy being outside too. I've let her winter coat grow, but she gets too hot in the house sometimes. I'm going to enjoy having a bigger kitchen and a yard. And a house that I can put pictures up without feeling bad about poking holes in the walls. We haven't put any pictures up in our apartment for that reason. 

I'm rambling now, so I'm going to end this blog post. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Book Review Wednesday: The Dragon Reborn

The Dragon Reborn
Author: Robert Jordan
Length: 674 pages
(My) Rating: PG - PG13

Click here to purchase this book
I have to say, the third book in the Wheel of Time Series is not my favorite book. In reality, it is probably one of my least favorite books in the entire series. 

This isn't due to poor writing. 

This book is equally well-written and just as exciting as the previous books. 

Rand has been accepted to be the Dragon Reborn by his followers, but he has a hard time believing it himself. Driven to prove or disprove the fact, Rand leaves his friends and journeys toward Tear to see if he can fulfill a prophecy that can only be done by the true Dragon. His friends pursue him, and Perrin learns more about his connection to the wolves. Mat recovers from being separated from the dagger, and tries to separate from the Aes Sedai as well. 

Meanwhile, Nynaeve and Egwene adjust to the White Tower and begin their training to become Aes Sedai. However, their training is put on hold when they are asked to complete a dangerous mission that may not only cost them their lives, but their souls.

All events culminate at the Stone of Tear where they discover some new allies...and enemies. 

Okay, so there is a lot more that goes on than that, but that's a fairly good summary. 

The reason I don't like this book as much, is because I'm a main-character type of person. Rand is my favorite character, and you spend the majority of the book wondering if he's gone mad. You don't get things from his perspective until the very end of the book, and by that point, you're not sure what to make of him anymore.

This is a great book for the development of the other characters and furthers along their own personal stories. It also adds new characters and cultures, including the Aiel, who are some of my favorite people. 

Even though this wasn't my favorite book, the books that follow it are. It is worth reading through this one. It has some really good moments that are made even better with a second read when you already know what's going on.

Still recommend reading it, especially if your favorite character isn't Rand. If it is, read it anyway. The series hits one of its high points with the next book. 


On my scale, this book is probably PG for content, and PG-13 for length. There is very little in the way of sexual content, and very little swearing as well. This particular book contains more violence than some of the previous books, especially a scene where Rand cuts off a woman's head. (In later books this is explained, but it is one of the things that really makes you wonder if he's gone insane.)

The world that Robert Jordan has created also has its own swear words, which are inoffensive in general. There are a few British swear words that have made their way into the book, but those are even few and far between. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Prompting for Glue Traps

As many of you know, we've been struggling with cockroaches for a long time. We first saw them in August of 2013. We saw a few here and there, but after a few months they disappeared. Then, in April of 2014, we began to see a few again.

Since then, it has gotten worse. For the first few months, we'd only see one every few mornings. Then, we began to see at least one every morning.

Then, we began to see four or five (or more) a morning, and some out in the middle of the afternoon.

We couldn't understand why there were so many and why the problem kept getting worse.

Our home really isn't dirty. Yes, we have two dogs and a baby, but we try to frequently clean everything. Occasionally we may not get all the dishes done before evening, but we try.

Spraying for the cockroaches did nothing, cleaning did nothing, squashing everyone we saw didn't seem to put a dent in the population. I was growing frustrated and sick of it. We even bug-bombed the apartment when we went to Idaho for a weekend, and it did nothing.

We live in an apartment complex, so the bugs can leave when threat comes, and return when the threat is over. It is possible that someone else in our apartment has created an environment perfect for the insects, or that someone has brought a population with them.

About this point, we felt impressed to move, and the cockroaches provided motivation as well. My hatred of cockroaches reached a head when I found them inside my microwave in between the display and the glass. That really grossed me out.

We are determined not to bring the bugs with us when we move, and as I've prayed and read and studied how to do so, I felt prompted to take the glue traps that were placed under the sink and place one between the microwave and the sink, where we usually see the cockroaches.

This one act has made a huge difference. I knew that was the largest area of bug traffic in our house, and the glue trap has proved that. Where poison and bug bombs have failed, the glue trap has succeeded.

The glue trap has caught over 60 cockroaches. The first day, we caught over 25. After that, it was two or three a day. Recently, we haven't been seeing any outside of trap, and there have been fewer caught every night.

You can see we've already ripped off a chunk of the sticky trap and threw away the dead ones in it. This is the second load we've caught since then.

I don't think we've caught them all yet, but we have definitely killed most of the population. I haven't seen any small ones in a while, and the only ones we're catching lately are mostly grown.

I'm so grateful for promptings. We did everything we could think of, and then we prayed. I know we're going to be able to move now without bringing the bugs with us. We're going to fast for it this Sunday, and then we're going to pack carefully and freeze what we can't examine.

I've learned some good things from having cockroaches in the house though. I've learned to not let dishes pile up and to vacuum frequently. I was pretty good before, but the cockroaches forced me to a whole different level of cleanliness.

There's always a silver-lining, right?

Monday, January 26, 2015

Mormon Monday: Loving Our Students

This last week, my husband and I had an interesting discussion about children.

For me, loving kids is as natural as breathing. They are a child, therefore I care about them, and want them to be happy.

During my student teaching, we were discussing a child who was struggling, and I said something like, "He's a good kid, he's just has a hard time sitting."

One of the other teachers, who's been in education forever, looked at me and said, "You think that every kid's a good kid."

As I thought about it, I realized that, Yes, I do think that every kid is a good kid. I think most adults are really good people too. It takes a lot for me to decide to avoid someone, and even then, I usually still like them, I just don't like being around them. Getting along with people can take some effort, but it is always doable.

A couple of weeks ago, I was released from my calling as the 2nd councilor in the primary. That was pretty difficult and I cried a bit. However, the last couple of weeks my husband and I have been substituting in primary (the children's classes at church), so I've still been able to be around the children.

After teaching, Grig and I were talking about having patience with different kinds of children while teaching. Grig is a great man, and we don't always see eye-to-eye, though we communicate really well. That makes our marriage interesting and I am often challenged to look at things in a different way. We have a lot in common, but like everyone else we had different backgrounds and we are different people.

I love it, it's great!

Grig has never been a teacher, and as we were talking I had the opportunity to teach him something that I learned in college while I was studying to be an elementary teacher.

Keep in mind that I went to Brigham Young University-Idaho for college. Some of the advice we received as perspective teachers is going to differ a bit from other people's college professors' advice.

One of the most important things that my teachers taught me was to pray for my students by name. I was promised that as I did this, I would grow to love my students and I would receive inspiration that would help me teach them on an individual basis in the way that would be best for each of them.

I have since come to learn that this is true. As I have worked in primary and I prayed for children that were struggling, I really grew to love each and every one of them.

Sometimes, I could still be frustrated by some children's antics, but I cared enough about them to seek Heavenly Father's counsel and try again.

When you work and come to love other people, it makes leaving them very difficult. I am super excited about our impending move, but I am also very sad to leave our friends, ward members, and neighbors that we have come to know and love.

We're not moving very far away, but I am not very good at keeping in contact with other people.

I will miss them, but they will stay in my prayers. I know that Heavenly Father will be watching out for each and every one of them.

If you're struggling with students or other children, pray for them by name, and I know you will come to love and care for them deeply. You may even learn what you can do to help them with whatever they may be struggling with.

I testify that this is true, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Good News on the House!

So, excellent news on our house.

A couple of days ago, I was waiting for my lunchtime call from Grig, and the phone rang. I looked at the caller ID, and it saw that it was our real estate agent. We had finished the inspection the previous week, and we were waiting for the lenders to do the appraisal.

Worried, I quickly opened the phone, not sure what I was going to here. If the appraisal had told us we needed to fix the roof, I didn't know what we were going to do, because neither the seller nor us could afford it at the moment.

However, to my delight, it was good news! He told me that the appraisal had come back and they assessed the home as worth more than we were paying for it! That means that the lender is willing to loan us money for it. Also, they didn't flag any repairs, so there is nothing holding back the rest of the process! That means that we are clear to submit our loan to the USDA.

That is supposed to take 8-10 days. That means that we may get the house as soon as the 1st of February! That's 11 days before the closing date on our contract, which would be just fine. The sooner the better.

Honestly, I'm ready to move now. I would love to be packing already, but with our little cockroach problem, we can't pack until we're ready to take things out of the house.

We really don't want to take any of the little critters with us, so examining everything closely and taking it right out of the house and then freezing everything (with the hopefully cold temperatures that we'll have that week) should do it.

We're super excited and grateful. The Lord is answering our prayers.

Part of the backyard, including Kevin's playhouse

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Something I Learned Recently About Publishing

So, I am really good at writing epics.

I always have been. When teachers asked us to write stories for class, most of the kids were asking how long it HAD to be, but my question usually was, "How long CAN it be?" I'm not a short story person. I have long plots that occasionally don't quite have an ending, but generally there's a vague idea in there.

So, when I was writing this most recent book, I was trying to figure out the stopping point for the first book. I wanted it to have a good conclusion, so if people wanted to stop after the first one, they would still feel like there was a resolution to conflict. However, I wanted the book to be really exciting, and, in my head, the real excitement only began after a certain point.

However, when looking up the word length for Harry Potter to see how long J. K. Rowling's first book was, I came across the following article that made a huge impact on my decision:
Story Length
Word Count and Story Length
If you are an aspiring writer, I recommend that you read this.

Basically, the article states that a huge reason that many stories are rejected by publishers and agents is the simple fact that the stories are too long.

He gave this simple guide for story length:
  • Short-short stories are under 2,500 words.
  • Short stories can range from 2,500 to 7,500 words.
  • Novellettes are from 7,500 to 20,000 words.
  • Novellas are from 20,000 to 50,000 words.
  • Novels are from 70,000 to 90,000 words.
Though he did add that Sci-fi/Fantasy can go up to 125,000 words long if it's not young adult.

Reading that, I quickly looked at my word count.I was at about 55,000 words. I was close to long enough where I was. That helped me pick my stopping point, and it wasn't where I had originally expected it to be, However, the more that I am writing to that goal, the more that I like this new stopping point.

It makes the first book about character development and relations while still providing plenty of action. I'm really enjoying how it is going. I'm not finished yet, but the goal is not too far away.

If you're struggling to publish, take a look at your word-count. As the author of the article says,
Beginning writers usually create a story that's just too long for a novel. But rejection letters rarely explain the reason the agent isn't interested in representing your work. Writers usually forget to think about how long the story needs to be. After all, agents won't bother trying to sell something that the publishers won't buy. Most of the time, the manuscript is too long.
There are exceptions to this, of course, but in general the first novels of established authors are much shorter than their subsequent novels. After they're established and have an audience, then they can go longer.

Hopefully this helps someone else. It sure helped me.

Good luck, writer friends. I'm praying for you!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Mormon Monday: Parables and Envy

Yesterday at church, the speaker quoted Elder Hollands talk titled: The Laborers in the Vineyard.

I want to relay a bit of that talk that was read in Sacrament.
I wish to speak of the Savior’s parable in which a householder “went out early in the morning to hire labourers.” After employing the first group at 6:00 in the morning, he returned at 9:00 a.m., at 12:00 noon, and at 3:00 in the afternoon, hiring more workers as the urgency of the harvest increased. The scripture says he came back a final time, “about the eleventh hour” (approximately 5:00 p.m.), and hired a concluding number. Then just an hour later, all the workers gathered to receive their day’s wage. Surprisingly, all received the same wage in spite of the different hours of labor. Immediately, those hired first were angry, saying, “These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.”1When reading this parable, perhaps you, as well as those workers, have felt there was an injustice being done here. Let me speak briefly to that concern.

First of all it is important to note that no one has been treated unfairly here. The first workers agreed to the full wage of the day, and they received it. Furthermore, they were, I can only imagine, very grateful to get the work. In the time of the Savior, an average man and his family could not do much more than live on what they made that day. If you didn’t work or farm or fish or sell, you likely didn’t eat. With more prospective workers than jobs, these first men chosen were the most fortunate in the entire labor pool that morning.
Indeed, if there is any sympathy to be generated, it should at least initially be for the men not chosen who also had mouths to feed and backs to clothe. Luck never seemed to be with some of them. With each visit of the steward throughout the day, they always saw someone else chosen.
But just at day’s close, the householder returns a surprising fifth time with a remarkable eleventh-hour offer! These last and most discouraged of laborers, hearing only that they will be treated fairly, accept work without even knowing the wage, knowing thatanything will be better than nothing, which is what they have had so far. Then as they gather for their payment, they are stunned to receive the same as all the others! How awestruck they must have been and how very, very grateful! Surely never had such compassion been seen in all their working days.
It is with that reading of the story that I feel the grumbling of the first laborers must be seen. As the householder in the parable tells them (and I paraphrase only slightly): “My friends, I am not being unfair to you. You agreed on the wage for the day, a good wage. You were very happy to get the work, and I am very happy with the way you served. You are paid in full. Take your pay and enjoy the blessing. As for the others, surely I am free to do what I like with my own money.” Then this piercing question to anyone then or now who needs to hear it: “Why should you be jealous because choose to be kind? 
As the speaker read these words, I realized that he was talking to me.

Some of you are aware that we've been trying to have another baby for a while. It has been a bit trying for me. Adam was conceived very quickly, and so I've been worried that it's been taking so long to get pregnant with our second.

Don't get me wrong. I'm SO grateful for Kevin, and I can't imagine the pain of those who've been trying to have children and don't already have one. I have gained a lot of empathy for those who've had this struggle, and I've become more sensitive to things that I say around others as well.

Even though I am very grateful for Kevin, I still am baby hungry and I have prayed and fasted for another child. After we weaned Kevin, I thought for sure that we were going to get pregnant right away. That hasn't happened. Every month, I gain hope that we are pregnant, only to have my hopes dashed. It's been very difficult, and faith-challenging.

I know children are a righteous desire, and so it's been hard to understand why we haven't had our prayers answered yet. One of the most difficult things is that so many people around me seem to be having babies, and I can't help but be a bit jealous. However, I have really tried to be happy for their sake as well.

Just because others receive blessings, doesn't mean that we have been treated unfairly. I think that is a huge issue that plagues our world at the moment. We all think that we deserve every blessing. Really, we don't deserve anything. Everything we have is a blessing, and we should be grateful that our brothers and sisters are receiving blessings as well.

There is a scripture in the Book of Mormon (Mosiah 2: 20-22) that says:
 20 I say unto you, my brethren, that if you should render all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and preserved you, and has caused that ye should rejoice, and has granted that ye should live in peace one with another—
 21 I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.
 22 And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you.
Essentially, the very fact that we are alive is a blessing from the Lord. Then, when we keep His commandments, He blesses us immediately. We can never put God in debt to us. So, why does he do so much for us?

It is because He loves us.

And if He loves us, should we not love one another and be happy when someone else is blessed?

Some of my favorite people to be around are people that rejoice when I rejoice. How much fun is it to talk to someone and tell them good news only to have them try and outshine your accomplishment or belittle it? It is a lot more fun to tell people about your accomplishments when they are happy with you and make you feel good about what you have done.

I want to be that kind of person. I want to be happy for them when they have good news without having any internal reservations or jealousy.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Teenaged Dogs and Toddlers

We're going through an interesting period of time right now at our home.

Our puppy just hit 6 months old. Our son just hit two. Both of them are now exhibiting erratic and occasionally frustrating behavior.

Arkhon (on the left), Kevin, and Loki (Arkhon's brother)
Arkhon is a wonderful dog. He is now as tall, or probably a bit taller, than Dakota. He usually listens really well, sits and stays on command, and knows quite a few more tricks. However, over the last week or so, it's like he's suddenly forgotten how to do everything. He's pushing his limits and trying to see how far he can go. When you tell him to sit, he will eventually do it, but he takes his time and ever so slowly inclines his rear toward the ground.

He has these super bursts of energy where he just can't contain himself, and occasionally he winds up urinating on the floor.

Did I mention that before this week he hadn't had an accident in nearly two months?

Kevin on the other hand, is just really sad lately. A couple of days ago, he woke up sad and followed me around all day saying, "Mommy, mommy." That would have been fine if I could have done something to make him happy, but it didn't matter what I did, he just got more upset or cried. If I picked him up, he cried. If I put him down, he cried harder. Even things he usually loves, he just wanted to cry about.

That was kind of a long day.

That night, we wouldn't go to sleep. It was after 11, and I knew he was tired. However, every time I thought he was asleep and tried to get up from his bed, he'd sit up and sob. I was tired and frustrated, but I was handling it okay until he cranked back and slammed his head into my nose.

I heard it make a crunching sound, and I was done.

I set him on his bed and held my nose. It hurt and I didn't know what to do. I began to pray as Kevin cried and tried to get me to hold him.

I told Heavenly Father that I didn't know what to do to help Kevin go to sleep, and I needed his help. After a moment, Kevin stopped crying and just patted my cheek, saying, "Mommy? Mommy?'

My heart melted and I patted his cheek back and said, "Kevin, Kevin."

Then a thought struck me, and I know it came from the Lord. I asked Kevin, "Do you want me to rub your belly?" He seemed to think about that, and then he laid right down. I was able to stay out of his bed and just sit on the floor next to it while I rubbed his tummy. It didn't take very long for him to go to sleep.

The next morning, he slept in until 11:00.

Since that night, the belly and back rubbing has been an answer to prayer. I even got Kevin to take a nap yesterday! That was a first for a while.

Parenting is a constant learning experience. I know I couldn't do it without the Lord's help. Having both the dog and the baby going through the terrible twos can make for some frustration, but there are also wonderful moments mingled in with it.

Yes, it's been challenging, but the times when I do something right make it kind of wonderful. I'm learning a lot too.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Book Review Wednesday: The Great Hunt

The Great Hunt
Author: Robert Jordan
Length: 681 pages
(My) Rating: PG - PG13 (for length)

Click here to buy book
This is the second book in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time Series.

Rand now knows that he is a man who can channel, and he has to come to grips with knowledge that he will eventually go mad. Trying to keep the truth from his friends is difficult, and his only solution is to try and chase them away. 

When that doesn't work, he turns his thoughts to running away. However, he changes his mind after Mat's dagger is stolen, and it is revealed that the influence will eventually kill Mat unless he gets the dagger back. 

Believing himself free of Aes Sedai influence, Rand embarks on a quest with Perrin and Mat to save Mat's life. Along the way, he meets new and interesting friends and enemies. 

Written in the same fast-paced and fashion as the first book, new cultures and societies are created by Jordan as he continues to write about his fascinating characters. I really liked the second book in this series, and though occasionally I wanted to smack some sense into the characters, it only made the situations more realistic. 

Robert Jordan has a great way of writing detail without getting too bogged down by it. You can really picture everything that's happening, and though the situations are fantastic, the emotion behind them is very real. 

This book was less confusing toward the end than the first one, and I really enjoyed it. So much happens, that I was surprised a bit surprised sometimes. I thought some of the events in this book occurred much later in the series. 

I don't really have much to complain about with this book. It is pretty fantastic.

Parental Guide

On my scale, this book is very similar to the first one. It is PG for content; it contains violence and action, but very little sexual content. The PG-13 is mainly for length. You won't find very many children under the age of 13 who will sit down and read a nearly 700 page book. Swearing is nearly nonexistent, due to the author's method of creating his own swear words for the characters, which are really fairly mild. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Goals for 2015

This was meant to be yesterday's post, but I didn't get my goals chosen until this morning. So, first, I need to follow up on how I did last year.

My last year goals I was taking month by month. Here is what I had in January:
This month, I am working on reading/studying scriptures for 1/2 hour, exercising 1/2 an hour 5 times a week, and writing five pages a day.
For the most part, I did pretty well. Exercise especially reached a good point after we got the puppy. I was walking at least an hour a day until the cold hit. November I accomplish my NaNoWriMo goal, which was awesome, and I am close to finishing my first novel. (Technically, it is the second one I've finished, but the first one is the re-write process. Maybe while I'm editing this one, I'll finish writing the second draft of that one.)

This year, I have some yearly goals I'd like to accomplish, besides setting monthly goals. Some of those goals will hopefully be accomplished within the next couple of months. Here are the goals I want to share with you for 2015:

  • Schedule every day
  • Set monthly goals
  • Buy a home
  • Fence in Backyard
  • Help Grig get his Welding Certificate
  • Exercise 5x a week
  • Read scriptures daily
  • Memorize The Living Christ and The Family: A Proclamation to the World
  • Finish and publish one novel
    • January: Finish 1st draft
    • February: Edit
    • March-April: Re-write
    • May: Edit
    • June: submit to publisher
I'm going to try to make goals on the first of every month. I find that monthly goals do better than yearly goals for me. If I reset goals every month, then I tend to at least do well for a few weeks each month.

Hopefully we'll have a bought a home by the middle of next month. I have faith that it's going to work out. With the Lord's help, the impossible becomes possible.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Family Friday: New House

So, things are moving pretty smoothly toward us buying this home. We found out it has a few things that need to be fixed, but the majority of the house is in good shape, if in need of some TLC (Tender Loving Care, for those of you who are not hip :)).

I'm pretty excited to get moving. It will be nice to be permanently (until further notice) settled in our own place. We have seen a lot of miracles and received a lot of help and we are pretty grateful. Here's a few pictures of what is nearly our new home.

Obviously I'm not going to post a picture of the front on here, but at least you can get an idea of what some of the inside looks like.

Here is the front room. The entry is split level.

This play place comes with the property.

This will be Kevin's bedroom. He loves it!

I'm so excited for this kitchen!
I really like this house. I does need some maintenance done, but we had the inspection done yesterday and they found three fairly major things that need fixing while the rest of it is just minor repairs.

We're still praying that everything goes well. We're at the point in the process where we've finished the inspection, and we've paid our earnest money. We are now poor, but moving forward.

Here's to a new family home.

Thanks again for your prayers!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Magical Family Moments

The other night, we were supposed to be going to bed,

Instead, Kevin requested that we get out the bubbles.

So, even though I probably shouldn't have, I got the bubbles off the top of the fridge and began to blow them for Kevin.

It didn't take long for Arkhon to notice. He came bounding over and began to snap the bubbles out of the air. He's quick, and he made us laugh. Kevin noticed what Arkhon was doing, and the next time a bubble came within Kevin's reach, he opened his mouth and ate it.

I exploded with surprised laughter. Soon Arkhon and Kevin were chasing the bubbles around with their mouths hanging open, eating every bubble they could catch. Soon I was laughing so hard I couldn't really blow any more bubbles.

(The video below isn't from the other night. It's from a couple of months ago, which you can probably tell since Arkhon is smaller.)

As I looked around me, I saw Grig scratching Dakota on the floor and Arkhon and Kevin dancing around my feet and a strong sense of peace came over me.

I turned to Grig and commented, "This sure is nice. It's almost magical."

He agreed.

I've been thinking about that moment ever since.

Sometimes when we have opportunities to do things as a family, we leave the house, watch a movie, or read books together. I realized the other night that even though those things are fun, sometimes nothing compares to the spontaneous moments that just happen within our homes.

I think those magical family moments are what we will look back on with fondness and joy.

I want to work more on not being so distracted by things. Family is what is really important, and when we take time to just enjoy the people in our lives, we can really feel the peace and happiness that can happen in this life.

I'm so grateful for my family and our pets. Who ever knew that I could be so happy?

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Book Review Wednesday: The Eye of the World

The Eye of the World
Author: Robert Jordan
Length: 782 pages
(My) Rating: PG - PG13

Click here to buy the book
I have been a fan of Robert Jordan for years. I couldn't tell you exactly when I first read this book, but it was somewhere between 7th-9th grade. The other day I decided to re-read the series, and also complete it. I've read most of the books two or three times, but I haven't read the final book yet.

The Eye of the World is the first book in Robert Jordan's epic series. It is set in a fantastic world with many different and original cultures. Robert Jordan writes likable characters that are realistic and interesting. 

Rand is a young man who lives with his father just outside of Emond's Field. While traveling to town for the local celebration, he spots a man in a black cloak watching him. His father doesn't see the man, but when he speaks to his friends, Mat and Perrin, they tell him that the man is black has been watching them too. Later that night, only their homes are attacked by monstrous Trollocs. 

This is the beginning of an incredible adventure that catapults Rand, Mat, and Perrin in a wild journey where they, with a couple of other young women from their town, join the Aes Sedai Moraine and her Warder Lan. Racing across the country, they visit many different cities, and meet many interesting people, with the Trollocs and Myrddraal always close behind them. 

As the book continues, you discover why they are being chased and who is after them. 

There are many interesting aspects of this book. One, which my husband and I have discussed, is the interesting place that women hold in their culture. In almost every culture in the book, women tend to be in charge. There is a queen, the female Aes Sedai (who are essentially magic users), and even the Women's Circle, who basically run Emond's Field. 

The dynamics between the characters are always fun to read, and they do respect to both genders. 

I have heard differing opinions about this series, but I find it fast-paced and gripping. It is one of those books that every time you read it you learn or catch something new. For some people this book might take you a while to read. The very length will make it for either avid readers or older ones. This book takes me a couple days to read, but I enjoy longer books. 

I highly recommend this story to anyone who enjoys fantasy or Tolkien. 

My one complaint about this story is that the ending can be a little confusing. It wasn't until this last time that I read it that I really felt like I knew what was going on at the ending. 

Parental Guide

On my scale, this book is probably PG for content, and PG-13 for length. There is very little in the way of sexual content, and very little swearing as well. 

The world that Robert Jordan has created also has its own swear words, which are inoffensive in general. There are a few British swear words that have made their way into the book, but those are even few and far between. 

There is violence, but nothing gratuitous and it's mostly against Trollocs. A few people die, but they don't go into detail about their deaths. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

New Video! The Dragon and the Wolf: Episode 4

Spending Time

Last week, Grig worked Monday and Tuesday, and then he was told not to come back in until this Tuesday.

That wasn't as bad as it sounds. They were paid for Thursday (because it was New Year's Day), and he used his floating holiday for Wednesday. So technically, he was still paid for the full week. This week they are working Tuesday through Friday (or Saturday), so he'll get a full week of work this week too.

That's not a good sign for what is supposed to be the busy season, but I was pretty grateful to have my husband home most of last week. It was strange to have nearly a week to just get things done and spend time together.

We got a lot done, and things are moving forward with the house.

It looks like we'll be closing the sale mid-February if everything goes well. There have been a few  hiccups, but nothing that wasn't overcome with the help of the Lord.

Thursday, we are paying for the inspection. Hopefully everything checks out alright.

I'm pretty seriously excited. Everyone who comes over to our apartment gets a virtual tour.

Having Grig home all last week wasn't that good for our finances, but it was awesome for our marriage! Good news, our marriage is stronger than ever!

Sometimes it's nice to just spend time together as a family. Life gets busy, and we don't always stop and appreciate the people in our lives the way we should.

I am so grateful for this new year and the new opportunities that come with it. I'm excited by the changes that are happening in our lives right now.

We have been blessed and helped by so many people, and we are so grateful for everything that has been given to us.

We are constantly reminded how much we have to be grateful for.

One of the things that we finished this weekend is that we were able to voice-record for Dragon and the Wolf Episode 4! That should be finished later today or tomorrow.

Every time I make one of the cartoons, I learn quite a bit more about animating. Everyone is kind of a way for me to see how much I've improved.

Do you remember I announced I had a new idea for a project a few months ago?

Well, we finished voice recording for that too. I realized that voice recording first and animating to the voices is a much better way to go about it.

I'm learning a lot, and grateful for the time that I have to work on these hobbies and with my hubby.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Happy New Year!

I haven't written any goals yet. That's tomorrow's goal, I think.

He loves his dog. Happy New Year!
I am pretty ashamed of myself though. I only blogged 6 times in December. I can try to make excuses for that, but honestly, I could have done better.

*Raises a glass of Martinelli's* Here's to a better blogging year (and videos)!

I am going to have some exciting goals this year. The most immediate one, is to buy a home.

Yes, we have found our home. Following the inspection next week, and barring any serious problems, we will be settling in this home February 13ish. That's almost my birthday, and it may be the only present I'm getting!

Happy birthday to me!

A couple of other things I've learned about buying a home. Earnest money has to be submitted usually within four days of accepting the offer or counteroffer. Once that happens, things move fairly quickly, though if you are getting a loan, you have to wait for approval.

It is an awesome home, and we are very excited about it.

Also, inspections and appraisals are not the same thing. Inspections are paid for by the buyer, while appraisals can be negotiated to be paid by the seller. If the appraisal finds something wrong, it has to be fixed before the  loan will accept the home. However, if the inspection finds something wrong, it is up to you how you deal with it. Hopefully neither will find anything seriously wrong.
Soon, this boy will be sleeping in his new bedroom. (And yes, they are both asleep in this picture).
Our puppy is growing up. Arkhon is almost six months old now, and as tall as Dakota. She's twice as heavy as him still, especially with her fur grown in, but his stilt-like legs move him faster than light.

We had some pretty awesome snowstorms around Christmas, and the dogs loved it. Kevin hasn't been enjoying the cold as much, but hopefully it will snow enough here so that we can go sledding sometime.

Ah, my snow dogs.
I'd like that.

I've also finally figured out where the first book in my series is going to end! This was the book I worked on for Nanowrimo, but the problem was that the plot is super-long. So, I was trying to figure out where to end the first book so that it would have a conclusion, but still be exciting. I think I figured it out, and it's really not very far away from where I'm writing. That means my first draft is about done! Whoohoo. I'm motivated to start writing again. Sometimes not knowing when you're ending is as bad as not knowing where you're going. I knew where my book was heading, but I just didn't know where it was ending.

 A lot of exciting things are happening, and hopefully by the end of next month we'll be in our new home.

Here's the goal of writing every day, Monday through Friday, again. I'm going to do it!

Hooray for a new year with new opportunities. When I tell you my new goals, I will also make an accounting of my goals from last year.