What's On Your Nightstand? November Edition

Over at 5 Minutes for Books, today they're asking what is on our nightstands for the next month? I read a book every 2 weeks (actually, it's a complicated system). Here's how the next month looks.

This week, finishing:
The Short Stories of F Scott Fitzgerald: I had read Great Gatsby, but didn't even know Fitzgerald was a prolific short story writer. This is a 750 page collection of the best of his short stories. I'm enjoying them more than I enjoyed Gatsby. It's interesting to see how his writing progressed through his life. Most of the stories are very interesting, although some of them seem mired in depression and hopelessness. Highly recommended if you like American Literature.

Miracles, by CS Lewis: A very dense defense of the Christian faith and the plausibility of miracles, especially the miracle of Jesus' birth. Don't be fooled by the Chronicles of Narnia. Lewis wasn't all fun children's stories. This is slowww, philosophical, and hard to understand (for me, at least). Interesting, and I'm determined to finish.
Weeks 2 and 3:
Ragamuffin Gospel, Manning: One of the staples of modern Christian literature. I've wanted to read this for a while. I'll probably finish early, so if I do, I'll finish a book I was reading on how to lead a small group Bible study.

Week 4 (and 5):
Harvard Yard, William Martin: My mom picked this up at an airport last year. She loved it. Apparently it's a cool blend of historical fiction, tying in Shakespeare and Harvard somehow. She's wanted me to read it since she finished it, so I'm finally getting around to it.

So, that's what's on my nightstand this month. I'll probably get through it all, since I'm not working!

What's on yours?

Unemployed... Day 2

Yesterday was the second day of my unemployment domesticity... my quest to take advantage of time off to organize the apartment, finish projects, learn, rest, and use my time constructively. I knew very well what I had to tackle yesterday. It was looming over my head (or more like, biting my ankles) every time I went in the bedroom.

I say this as a confession, and I hope never to have to say this again: it had been more than a month since I had done laundry.

I actually am pretty sure I hadn't done more than a load since the wedding. 6 weeks ago. That's pretty embarrassing. And to make matters worse, a few weeks ago I had every intention of doing it, so I dumped it all onto the floor to look for something. But then I didn't do it, and the sight of a bit of laundry on the floor made us lazy, and we just dumped every day's clothes on the floor, instead of hanging them up or putting them in the hamper.

Now, these pictures aren't totally truthful, because if you look closely you can see a huge bag full of two loads of clean whites that I had done on Saturday, but hadn't put away yet (thus, creating lots of future ironing of wrinkly whites).

Two weekends in San Diego meant two unpacked duffel bags sitting on the floor. Plus, there were various boxes, bags, and trinkets scattered all over.

The detergent was my constant companion through the day. I was blessed that seemingly everyone else in the apartment had done their washing over the weekend, so both of the washers were free... all day. That is a great blessing and not to be taken lightly. So, I took advantage of them.

Six loads of laundry later, and several hours of organizing, rearranging, vacuuming later, we have this:


There are still some boxes in the corner for when I tackle Unpacking, but the floor is visible and there is not a single piece of dirty laundry (ok, there is now...there wasn't at time of picture). And yes, that is a framed photo sitting on the ground. We really need to hang the few decorations we have. That is my favorite one. What is it?

Our engagement picture that everyone signed at the wedding! One of my very favorite possessions. We'll have to hang this soon!


Unemployed... Day 1

Today is my first official day of unemployment. It will last anywhere from 2 weeks to the end of December. And it's really tempting to sit around and play online games and read blogs for a month, but I'm excited to have this chance to create ORDER. Things are still so disorganized from the chaos of the wedding, so I'm playing Domestic Wife for a month.

To help track my progress and keep me from procrastinating, I've decided to blog the journey of my month off. Although today is the first real day of unemployment, we did a bit of work on Saturday. We had friends coming over Saturday night for our weekly pizza and games night, and the apartment needed a bit of work. As you can see.

Pile of wedding gifts that need a place in a cabinet or closet

A mess in the dining room

A mess in the kitchen

A mess in the living room.

This is what happens when you get married and then go back to work full-time. Messes.

First things first. We actually just got this couch from Husband's aunt and uncle, which is why it was sitting awkwardly in the middle of the living room. So we had some rearranging to do. The couch went from the middle of the room to against one wall, and the TV and the bookshelf swapped walls so the TV would be opposite the couch.



Then I took pictures of my bookcase because I was tired of working, and what could be more fun than documenting your bookcase? These are some of my most prized possessions, and yes, they are alphabetical by author.

And then... we cleaned. For about an hour. We left enough time to work on grad school applications before company came. And here are the results:

You can actually see the floor. You can walk through the living room without falling on anything. You can set things down on the dining room table AND on the serving bar. You can even... sit on the couch!!

I know it's not great, but it's a start.

Today: tackling laundry. The bedroom is being consumed by mountains of clothes. I don't think I've washed any since the honeymoon. That means I have about a month and a half of clothes to wash for two people. Which means, I'd better leave the library and get started!


a huge sigh of relief

3 hours separate me from my break. THREE HOURS. And really, I have nothing to do right now besides a bit of cleanup on my code. So really, I am on break.

It is terrifying, on one hand. Out of work, in today's economy, with no job offer? But we both feel peace about this, and we both feel like it is the right decision. Maybe I'll go back to work with a renewed excitement for Software Engineering. Or maybe I'll dread going back, and know even more strongly that I should have chosen the career that my heart calls me to. 

But it really isn't terrifying. I know God watches the sparrows, and He has my days planned. He'll give me a job when He wants me to have one. 

This weekend, I will make a list of what I want to accomplish on my break, both tasks and rest. I do not want it to be a month of sitting on the couch (AGAIN I REPEAT: WE HAVE A COUCH!) playing Spider Solitaire. I want to crochet, read, clean, organize, bake, sleep, write, think, run, blog, explore, and have lots of time with my Savior. 

I plan on daily photo-journalling the organization of the apartment, starting tomorrow. That means, tomorrow I will post BEFORE pictures, which might make you run for cover. Let's just say, we can barely walk through the living room and bedroom for all of the piles of stuff. 

Rest. It is such a beautiful word. Not a travel vacation with lots of busyness and flights and site-seeing. Just me, at home, in the apartment, taking care of my domestic duties. Thank you, Lord, ahead of time for this gift.


I think I can, I think I can, I think I can....

Had a big interview today. I'm not expecting to be called back (this company is known for being one of the most selective), but I'm pleased that I didn't divebomb. 

Husband and I decided: I am going to take a break from work. For at least a week. Perhaps for all of December. This is huge for me. I worked full-time every summer since age 16, and before that I did summer school and babysitting each summer. The last 3 summers have been full-time Computer Software jobs, which is intense. My spring breaks were spent going on retreats with Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, many times as a student leader, so they were ridiculously fun but also tiring. I never had an "easy quarter" in college. The only other major that I can think of that worked as hard as us is architecture. I started work one week after graduation, and that week was mostly spent packing to move to LA. Besides the honeymoon, I haven't had a vacation for a few years. This is not to brag, it is just to say that I have been working, working, working for the last 4 years at least. I feel rather drained and am so excited to take a break!

The break would give us time to enjoy the holidays without needing to return to work. 

But, even if I have all of that time in December, my goal is to have the apartment done in November. What needs to be done?
  • Putting away the huge amount of wedding gifts
  • Buying a dresser and transferring clothes from bottom of closet into dresser
  • Unpacking 2 weekends' worth of clothes from trips down to SD
  • Laundry that has remained undone while the apartment has been in chaos
  • Reorganizing the whole kitchen so that things actually fit
  • Clearing off dining room table so we can eat on it again
  • Sell the boxes of stuff that I have set aside for sale on craigslist, amazon... bring the rest to Goodwill
  • Moving the couch (Side Note: WE HAVE A COUCH, WOOHOOOOOOO!) to somewhere reasonable
  • Probably rearranging all the furniture in the living room
  • Clean bathroom and kitchen
If we can get all of this done by December, then I could actually relax for my work vacation. We also said we'll get a Christmas tree once the apartment is clean. Yay, our first Christmas tree as a family! I love having all these firsts.


They're here!

My composting worms are waiting at home for me! Now I just have to get through this day of work! Yay, adventures in composting!


Works-For-Me-Wednesday: Labelling Frozen Meat


This isn't a brilliant tip. It's more like a "Look at me, I'm 22 years old and learning to be domestic and so I'm figuring out the really obvious things that everyone else already does!"

When I buy meat, I usually get more than we need for just that meal. Mostly this is because we are two people and even the smallest pack is too much for whatever I'm making. So I freeze the rest. But my problem was that I would forget what I had frozen, or I'd have to unwrap each thing to find the frozen chicken legs. Also, if I had frozen chicken legs and I needed them for a recipe, I'd have to estimate the weight, because I had thrown away the wrapper and just wrapped them in tin foil before freezing.

So, in a flash of sheer brilliance, before I froze half of a pack of sausage, I wrote on the tin foil with a Sharpee:
"Spicy Pork Sausage- 11/05/08- 2/3 lb"

That way, I know what was inside without opening the pack, how much is in the package, and how long it has been chilling in the freezer.

It's helped me save money by not buying meat that we already have... I've learned to check the labels first.

For some reason, my mom never did this. I guess she has an amazing memory of what she has frozen. It's super obvious, but... it works for me


A definite work in progress.

One thing I always heard about marriage was "It makes you realize how selfish you are."

I could see how that was possible, but I didn't really understand it. 

Today, Husband and I had a morning where we both agreed we were "Off". We weren't fighting, but we weren't BFFs, either.

For most of the morning, I was disgruntled because I assumed the tension was based on circumstances and personalities. And in a way, it was. The areas where our personalities are very different were coming to light and making things different. But more, I realized it was a heart issue for me. I am so blessed, and I was not doing well with remembering that. 

I was letting something that is quite important to me dictate my attitude: 8 hours of sleep. We didn't get home until almost 11 last night. We went right from Wedding Planning Season to Grad School Application Season (for him, not me! I am so done with school!). So last night after dinner we went to the coffee shop to use the Internet to get started on applications... he was trying to pick which schools he should apply to, and I was getting details about when apps are due.  I think I went to bed upset because I didn't get in bed until 11:30, which is 30 minutes past bed-time, and then I only got to read for 5 minutes because I was already late in sleeping. Which, all in my mind equals BIG TRAGEDY. 
And I'm learning I have to just get over it.

This morning, we were both tired because we hadn't quite gotten enough sleep. And Husband wanted to spend time hanging out and cuddling and being loving and cute. And I wanted to get up and go run, because if I'm late to go run then I'm late to have my quiet time to read my Bible and then I'm late to shower and go to work. Sleep and running and quiet time are all very important to me. Me me me.

I spent most of the morning being frustrated because it will be hard to ever get things on a good enough schedule that I have ample time for all three of these things. And even if I do, would I be willing to give them up if Husband needs to spend time with me?

Because I was missing the point. God reminded me of His love while I was praying this morning. If I am disciplined in reading my Bible, but my husband feels unloved because I scheduled him out of my busy morning, I am NOT serving God. I'm pretty sure Jesus was clear: our priority is demonstrating His love, not doing outward acts of religious piety. Not that I was reading my Bible just to look good, but I was missing an opportunity to demonstrate God's love.

And... how blessed am I? I have a husband who wants to snuggle and spend time loving me. That is so much more important than any schedule. It's more important than running, and sleep.

All of this brought me to another point. I am excited to have kids. I know we will wait a good number of years, but somewhere in my heart I want them NOW, and I feel like I'm ready. But I am so obviously not. Because I know that my kids WILL NOT CARE if I had eight hours of sleep or if I got my morning run. If I can't even sacrifice that for my love, I'm not ready to sacrifice that for my kids. I know God gives us what we need in our circumstances, but I guess He has a lot more work to do on my before I'm ready to be a Mom. I need Him to teach me how to die to myself and my need for schedule and discipline. Obviously, the things I'm trying to fit in my life are good things, and I would like to figure out how to make them work. But if I let it ruin my morning and my mood when I don't get them, then I am just selfish. It already led to problems this morning. 

Where else am I missing a chance to share God's love and enjoy His amazing blessings by having my own schedule and agenda? 


Not WHEN, but IF...

How am I supposed to be content when the world is full of amazing and exciting things?

I am learning to be thankful for the present moment, for the present joys that God has given me- right now. But I have to say, this goes against something so fundamental in my nature, something that feels like such a blessing and such a part of sinful nature at the same time: excitement. 

In college, both times that I was mentoring a small group of women, I would lead them through an exercise. I would have us all list 10 of their most important possessions or physical objects. Then we would imagine God telling us we had to give up one, and we'd cross it off the list. We'd keep crossing things off until we were left with nothing on the list. Then I would ask them if they'd still follow Him after this. It sounds like a morbid or disheartening activity, but it always got us thinking and talking about why we follow God, and if we have expectations that he give us STUFF in return for our faithfulness. 

But that exercise never seemed that bad to me. Instead, I should have written out all of my hopes and dreams for this life, and see how I would felt of none of THEM ever came to pass. 

My personality thrives off of excitement. At any given time, I have several things in the future that I am just so excited for. To me, the anticipation of an event is almost as wonderful as the event itself. For example, right now I am so excited for Homecoming at my high school this weekend, for my worms to come in the mail so I can start composting, for going to the farmer's market in 2 weeks and attempting to buy a week's worth of produce, and for Christmas with Husband's family in Arizona. That's just a sampling.

Because here is the kicker for me: I am so excited for all life has to offer. And I yearn for things that I probably will never get to experience. I want thirty lifetimes, just to be able to wander all over the world and soak in everything it has to offer. 

I want to live as a rancher, running horses over the prairie.
I want to be a mother, tending to ten children all day.
I want to live as a scientist, researching on the cutting edge of technology.
I want to be a teacher, a zookeeper, a musician, an actress, an athlete, a chef, a truck driver, a sales clerk, a tour guide, and a farmer. 
I want to shovel snow all winter and burn logs in a wood stove.
I want to live somewhere tropical, where it's 80 degrees and rainy all day.
I want to be poor, to experience simplicity and even hunger.
I want to live in a lavish palace with everything I could possibly imagine.
I want to live in Austria, Spain, Malawi, Russia, Chile, Canada, New Zealand, Egypt, and France.
I want to be out in the country, with no neighbors for miles in any direction.
I want to be in the crowded city, where I see friends and acquaintances every day. 
I want to be a crusader, fighting against the injustices I see around me. 
I want to be a minority.
I want to be part of a majority. 

But I expect most of these I'll never be able to do in this life. But what DO I find myself expecting and anticipating with great wonder? Having children. Living on the East Coast. Having a group of woman friends that I can share life with. Travelling the country. Teaching and impacting the lives of children.

There's a problem with this. What if God decides that none of that will come to be for me? What if He wants me to stay in Los Angeles or in California the rest of my life? What if He doesn't let me have children? 
In the past 5 months that I've been living in LA, he has been showing me over and over again that my best laid plans are nothing if he has different plans for me. And part of the issue with being an Excited Person is that if these things don't come to pass, there is great let-down, and that is the issue. Do I hold on to my dreams so tightly that I don't trust Him? Would I continue to follow my Jesus if He decided that I could best serve Him without children? Or on the West Coast?

So, here's my struggle these days. How do I balance it? How do I continue to be excited and so greatful for this amazing world that He has created, yet not to worship it? How do I look forward to my life and experiences, without expecting them? How do I bend my will to His? So far, He has given me an amazing life with more experiences than I could ever have hoped for. How do I trust that He will continue to do so, and that if He doesn't, it is for His glory? How do I release my grip and have a childlike faith?


Playing House

I never was much for playing house when I was young. I much preferred tag and "historically-accurate" games of pioneers or Native Americans. I thought the house games were silly... half-a-dozen little girls, gathered under the wooden play structure, spending most of their time arguing over who got to play the coveted position of Mommy and who was stuck playing the family cat. On occasion, when I joined in, I made sure that we actually did important family things like cooking meals. (sidenote: I was the weirdest kid ever)

And now, I have a question: When does being married stop feeling like playing house?

I don't feel like much actually changed in my life 2 weeks ago when I said "I Do". I'm still the same person. I didn't become super-mature or wise or capable of running a household. Husband didn't change either. We're the same pair of twenty-two year olds, but all of a sudden we get to live together. And it feels like we're pretending, like we're living someone else's lives. We're acting like... our parents! I am planning out weekly menus, going grocery shopping, comparing prices, doing laundry.  Husband did a construction project this weekend (a vermi-composter for me, which I'll post about once I've gotten it up and running). 

It really was a fantastic weekend. We had people over on Friday night for homemade pizza and ice cream. I made fried rice on Saturday night, and we cooked lasagna together last night. We finished watching Casablanca (which was great), I finished reading At The Back Of The North Wind (which I very much enjoyed). We had a date to a local huge music store and each picked out a few used CDs. We walked to the local Farmer's Market on Sunday morning to check out the fall produce (mmmmmmmmmm applessss), and then we walked over to church. It was my first time at this church, and I was wiggling my toes with excitement because I thought the pastor was so spot on in his message. I tackled the clutter in the bedroom in my huge quest to clean the apartment. We enjoyed plenty of time to talk and just be with each other.

Of course, we realize marriage isn't all a fairy tale, and already it has had its share of difficult moments and issues. But so far, it has been so wonderful to hang out and relax and be with my husband. I keep asking myself if this is all reality.  But for now... I love playing house.