St. Valentine

It’s St. Valentine’s day… and Ash Wednesday! (What a day to be a Catholic — Easter this year is also on April Fool’s Day).

Happy Valentine’s Day to me! ♡

It is wonderful being a woman when you’re with a great guy ♡… and my hubby got a 6-day weekend courtesy of the US Army at Benning, ha!

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Ode to my hubby ♡

In a previous post, I wrote about overcoming disappointment — I’ve always said that God loves me the most…

My hubby was given his top two choices from his branch manager, Hawai’i or Kentucky. Now, I know you’re probably thinking that’s a no-brainer, but the thing is… Fort Campbell is only four hours from Cincinnati, where my hubby’s from… and it’s where I wanted to go.

I know he’s extremely disappointed, and he felt very much forced to give up Hawai’i — which I know is everyone’s top choice and an amazing opportunity; but I rather be closer to family with a new baby on the way. Also, it would have been very expensive for me to travel back to NYC like I do now, and the flight would have been like 17 hours long or more from HI.

Besides, Campbell is better for his career. He will most likely deploy to Iraq or Africa, and as an infantry officer he needs to be deployable to various locations… yet, I can’t help but have remorse, regret, and feel very guilty for making him give up Hawai’i.

I appreciate him so much for doing everything he can to make me happy, and I wish this didn’t make him so miserable. I know he feels like he’ll never get another chance at HI, but what are the odds that luck would have given him his top two choices anyway? It’s not as if we were choosing HI vs. any other location other than Campbell; I mean, of course then I would have said we’re definitely going to HI… but what happened was we didn’t even choose Hawai’i as an option originally.

See, I told him to not even list it as a choice for the branch manager because no one ever gets HI, so he put Campbell down as his first choice… but a few days later the branch manager called to tell him that there’s two available openings for him, Campbell and HI, and that he needed an answer ASAP (by the next morning).

He was already excited and intent on going to Hawai’i, and he told me on the phone that we had two choices to pick from, but he wouldn’t tell me what they were. When I came home, he gave me a list of pros/cons because it was unbelievable that we got our first choice and a top location choice to pick from.

We discussed it for over two hours, and eventually he gave in and I got what I wanted… but I know he feels a bit of regret and resentment for giving up Hawai’i to go somewhere like Ft. Campbell, KY. I love him so much for it though.

I told him that he can always hold it over me — if we get into a fight, he can always say: What about the time I gave up Hawai’i because you wanted to live in Kentucky!?

The Great Gatsby, at the Springer Opera House

This is one of my favorite classics. I LOVE this book — the character I most relate to is Daisy, even though I’m the most sympathetic to Gatsby.

My mini-me and I went to see a theater performance production of The Great Gatsby at Springer Opera House. It’s a nice theater, but it’s rather small (I actually think it’s maybe a bit smaller than my high school auditorium). The stage didn’t seem very big… but I don’t know, maybe everything just seems smaller when you compare it to NYC.

Not the best photo… we had like 4 minutes before the show started! (The manager of the lobby gift shop gave her a free poster though, lucky girl.) 

I didn’t think the adaptation was that great. It actually reminded me of something rather amateur-ish, like what the drama class would put on as their annual show in high school. It was okay, but definitely wouldn’t have made its way on to Broadway. The props and costumes were also lacking; but it’s a small town production, so I wasn’t expecting too much.

The greatest adaptation of this book, in my opinion, is the Hollywood version with Leonardo DiCaprio. I LOVE that movie… but that was also a big-budget Hollywood film with top star billing of A-list actors.

I think Ava enjoyed Rodgers + Hammerstein Cinderella at the RiverCenter Theater more. (I’m still waiting to take her to an actual Broadway show when we’re home visiting one of these days.)

Dealing with Disappointment

When you’re expecting something to happen and it doesn’t, you can’t help but feel disappointed.

Everyone knows the feeling — maybe it’s not getting that job you wanted, or that promotion that you were so sure was a definite, or even something like wanting a girl and finding out you’re having a baby boy instead, etc. You’re not devastated in the same sense that you would feel during a breakup, losing a job, mourning a loss… but you’re disappointed that things didn’t work out how you had planned or hoped for…. it’s that kind of disappointment.

So how do you cope with something like that? You’re upset, but not devastated. It’s disappointing, but not depressing. What do you do? I have had many such disappointments in my life.

First, I allow myself to wallow in my disappointment. Now, as I’ve stated, you’re not devastated you didn’t get the job, but it’s still okay to feel upset because you feel rejected and you kind of feel stuck at your current job — but it’s not overly stressful and depressing as if you were unemployed looking for a job either, because you’re still getting a paycheck. Or maybe you didn’t get into the first choice college you wanted to, but you still have other colleges that you can go to. It’s really not as bad as it might initially feel or seem to be.

You’re allow to feel a bit bum about the situation because it’s not a big deal. Go spoil yourself a bit. Maybe buy something new, go out with friends, treat yourself to something you’ve wanted, etc.

Talk to someone. Everyone needs to vent, whether you’re a guy or gal, everyone needs social support for their well-being. It helps to have someone who can empathize and relate with the situation.

Like, maybe you didn’t really love the guy you were with, but now you really want him back because you don’t want to be alone, or because he moved on first. You’re disappointed the relationship didn’t work out, even though you already knew it wouldn’t work out… well, just let it all out. Write it all down. Call anyone available to listen and chew their ears off. It really does work just saying things aloud instead of thinking thoughts in your head.

Look for the positive in every situation, don’t dwell on the negative.

You tried, and it didn’t happen. You’re disappointed. But as the saying goes — it’s better to have tried and fail, then to not have tried at all. Think of all your accomplishments to even make yourself confident enough to try out for it. So many people don’t even feel qualified to try; actually most people know they’re not even qualified to try something. So even if you tried at something, and you didn’t get the Olympic gold medal, think of the fact that you even qualified to compete in the Olympics at all.

So you’re having a boy, even though you wanted a girl — or maybe you’re having a girl, and you were hoping for a boy… it happens a lot. You’re disappointed because even though it’s not anything you have any control over the outcome, you felt confident enough about it because you were just so sure of it. But, it’s like playing the lottery, it’s just up to chance and fate.

Be realistic about expectations when you’re disappointed about the outcome of something that just didn’t happen for you, especially when you have no control over the deciding factors.

Be grateful and thankful for the blessings and good fortunes in your life, even if they all happened in the distant past. Often when we are disappointed, we focus on the negative and always forget about the positive. The difference between being a glass half empty or a glass half full kind of person. It’s so easy to forget to acknowledge all of the good things that have happened to us when we feel a bit defeated in life. Counting your blessing really is a great way to pick yourself up when you’re feeling in the dumps.

Rodgers + Hammerstein Cinderella

*This was something that was in my Draft Folder, and I finally got around to finishing it and posting it. This happened at the end of June 2017.


My mini-me and I saw Rodgers + Hammerstein Cinderella at the RiverCenter Theater in Columbus. It was a lovely surprise from my hubby, since I have not taken our move to Georgia very well. (It’s been hard on me, but also on our daughter too.)

The RiverCenter is no Broadway or NYC, that’s for sure (but then again, nowhere other than Broadway in NYC is Broadway!) — but the production was very nice for a small stage. Our tickets were also very affordable compared to Broadway tickets for seats just as good (and we truly had some great seats too for this show).

This was the first time my daughter had went to a theater performance. She was very excited that it was a “special event” because we both dressed up — and in matching outfits too! (We even found a mini hot-pink tote handbag for her to match my wristlet clutch!) ♡

I figured now would be a good time for her first theater show because I love the theater, and even though she’s not a NYC gal like her mommy is, I still want her to be as cultured and have the same worldly experiences that I had access to. Also, she had done a few school Christmas programs already in Iowa, so she has some concept of the theater and performance art.

This was also an excellent choice, because like all American girls, she knows all about the Disney princesses. She had seen the Disney Cinderella plenty of time (we own the DVD to it), and even though this is not the same version, she is familiar with the storyline. I think for something as “grown-up” as the theater, you really do have to make it a special event. Make no mistake, the tickets were not “cheap” even for a small city production like this; my husband still spent over a hundred dollars on the tickets.

I absolutely loved that it was our first “official” mommy-daughter date. I mean, we go out to eat and shopping, party invites, etc. — but we’ve never done something like this before. Ava also got very excited once she saw all the other little girls with their mothers, and a lot of the girls were even dressed up like Cinderella too (the Disney Cinderella though, in her signature blue ball gown, of course).

My hubby is not into the theater, he is a typical guy that likes video games and sports, but we appreciate him so much for always thinking of us to make us happy… I would have loved it if it was a family-date night instead though!

The show was really good. The songs and dances was a bit corny for me, but I mean, this production came out like over fifty years ago, right? Still, the costumes and effects were beautiful, especially Cinderella’s ball gown. However, we didn’t leave until like almost 10PM even though we got there around 6:30-ish (there was still the summer daylight when we arrived), so I think next time we will see a matinée show instead because she is still very young to keep her attention span focused that late at night.

The theater is very nice, with a beautiful water fountain in the front, and a parking garage right across the street. There’s also lots of dining options in the area as well.

[Book Review] Gables Court

I was emailed by the author to review his book yesterday — I read it in one night. Let me just start off with stating that this is the first review request where I’m compelled to give a rating of 5 out of 5 stars! The book is that good!

Gables Court, by Alan S. Kessler (available on Amazon.com) is a very well written novel. I am usually not so generous with my criticism (even when I always try to be “nice” to every novice author who requests an Amazon review from me); but this book really has the makings of being a potential hit or even a NYT Best Seller.

I admit, at first, I didn’t think I would enjoy it. I mean, Kessler started his novel with one-page chapters and a rather odd fixation on Van Gogh that seemed all over the place, all of a sudden jumping from childhood to adult in a matter of less than 5 pages into the novel — but the novel redeems itself relatively fast, so that even though you’re not quite sure if you’re interested, you are engaged quickly once Samuel actually starts having a real dialogue in the book.

Samuel is a wealthy secular Jewish lawyer, during the Vietnam War era, when the draft was in full force. He’s from the New England area, and moves down to Miami to get some work experience as a newbie lawyer. He starts off with eviction cases. He moves to an apartment complex call the Gables Court, where he meets characters that develop his life (even though he’s already 24 by the time this all happens — so he’s no naive “little boy”).

You feel kind of bad for the poor schmuck! He can’t get a break in love, it seems. Kate reminds me of Ginger (Sharon Stone) from that mob movie Casino (the one with Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro). I mean, even though it doesn’t really go into any details, you kind of just assume she’s a woman who has lost her looks as the years go by, and it was something that she had depended on heavily… you also assume she’s some kind of druggie too (at least I did).

I was disappointed by the abrupt ending though, kind of a non-ending almost. All of a sudden he feels there’s a chance of hope in love when he’s at a diner and sees some Russian waitress who references Van Gogh — a bit too Hollywood-ish in my opinion, but even the lacking of an ending doesn’t take away from the overall appeal of the bulk of the novel.

I highly recommend this book as a “good read” — I wish Mr. Kessler huge success with it.

[Product Reviews] Makeup Haul… part II

My second makeup haul arrived yesterday and today from Amazon… I did not get to use two of the Cover Girl products, so I’ll have to do a review for them at a later time.

I am wearing Neutrogena Retinol Daily Face Moisturizer with SPF 30, and Neutrogena Skin Clearing concealer; CoverGirl Outlast All-Day Stay Fabulous foundation… I put it on with a Real Techniques makeup blender and with Start Makers makeup brushes, and finally e.l.f. lip stain in Pink Petal. (My daughter asked where I was going with all this makeup on — I told her I was going to get the mail, ha!)

I LOVE the Neutrogena moisturizer! It is very fast absorbing and light. Does not feel greasy at all, and your face definitely feels smoother. Plus, it has SPF 30, and something everyone should do daily is wash your face, brush your teeth, wear sunscreen and moisturizer, ha! (The only con is that it is kind of expensive. It cost $20 for a 1 oz. bottle.)

I’m wearing CoverGirl Outlast All-Day Stay Fabulous (#855 — this is my “summer color”, in winter I wear #845, but since I’m in GA right now, there’s no such thing as winter). This really is my go-to foundation because it works as a primer, concealer, and foundation all in one; and it also has SPF 20. The foundation is matte, so you don’t get the shine that you do from wear with other foundations.

On top of the foundation I am wearing Neutrogena Skin Clearing concealer in medium. It’s a twist-pen with a brush top. It works really well and the color tone is excellent for blending and very well matched for my skin color. The brush top is excellent for blending if you don’t want to use your fingers or a blender to blend it in. Looks absolutely flawless (much better than the concealers that come in the lipstick-style formats).

Finally, to finish off my look, I am wearing e.l.f. lip stain in Pink Petal. I am not sure if I am a fan of lip stains or not. It does give the lips a natural look… but it kind of reminds me of when you eat a cherry ice in the summer and then get that red lip stain (right!?); I used it with lip-liner and lip color, but maybe I should have just used it with lipstick instead — or by itself. It’s like a felt-tip marker, and it is hard to get it at an angle to get the ink to flow continuously. (I like the color though because I only wear rose lip colors for a “natural” look if I put anything on my lips.)

I used one of my new Start Makers brushes to put the foundation on. (It comes with 11 brushes with different head sizes, a mini makeup blender, and a drawstring pouch to keep the brushes in.) I also used another brush for my blush, and a third one for my eyeshadow. I used the Real Techniques makeup blender to blend everything in.

Also wearing, but not included in this haul are: blush (L’Oreal), eyeliner (Maybelline), mascara (L’Oreal), eyebrow-liner (Maybelline) and eyeshadow (Urban Decay).

[Book Review] My Light

Tonight, I received a late-night review request, and I figured I get right into it… since sometimes my emails go ignored for months (I still have not replied back to one of the CNN producers from the summer on doing a short video segment for their Salute to Troop program) — but I digress!

My Light, by E Darkwood (pen name??? — available on Amazon.com), is a coming of age novel about two twin sisters. First, I am not sure why it’s deemed “mature content” — it’s not. I was expecting some sort of erotic novel or even some trashy romance, it’s neither. At the most there’s some very mild cursing during heated arguments. Also, the title could have been better (having done marketing in corporate America for six years in NYC before becoming a history teacher — the editor/publisher should have given better input for category content and working title, as that’s what readers notices first).

The story is about the coming of age of twin sisters, Penny and Cass, from Kansas. They lost their parents due to a plane crash and end up being raised by their grandparents. The novel transitions from their early school years to college, to eventual full-fledged adulthood.

You read the story from Penny’s perspective, and she lets you know within the first sentence that she misses Cass, so you automatically assume she’s dead (which is what I did). The story is easy to read, the narratives easy to follow, and the dialogue natural to the reader.

I am not sure what Darkwood’s intended targeted audience is, but this would work best for teenagers, as I’m not sure adults would be as engaged. This book reminds me of a few novels I read in junior high school actually. It focuses on things that are socially more important to high school teenagers than any other demographic — specifically: career goals, friendship, sisterhood, what to do with your life, etc. (Think of it as the PG-13 version of Elsa and Anna.)

Penny seems like the protagonist to her sister Cass, wanting to always do the right thing by her, and feeling like she’s being shut out by her cold sister instead (again, think Elsa/Anna). The story ends with Cass dying just like her parents, in a plane crash — kind of surreal until you think of JFK and all his family’s bad luck with death, it doesn’t seem so unrealistic when you compare it to history.

This was an easy to read novel. I appreciate Mr./Ms. (???) Darkwood for the opportunity to review his/her book, and wish him/her success with it.

[Book Review] Megan’s Pet Sitting Adventure

I was emailed sometime at the end of last year to review the follow-up to Ms. Foland’s first book in the Megan’s World book series — which follows the learning curves of a young teen girl in Texas, and her adventures in being a mom to furbaby kittens.

As stated in my review of her first book, this is definitely targeted towards a young children’s demographic; I’d say below Middle School age, so a girl below the age of 13 would be the best audience for this book series.

Megan’s Pet Sitting Adventure, by Pamela Foland (available on Amazon.com) happens only a month after the last book, which I felt was not enough of a time gap. Ms. Foland should have at least made the setting during the summer school break. The whole story actually takes place over a short weekend.

Also, as a cat and dog owner, I can relate to some anecdotes of the book with my own personal experiences; but cats are actually very solitary animals, even kittens are way more independent than puppies. The kind of needy sentiment to always be with her kittens seems a bit amateur-ish… like in the first book, the idea that she would be able to keep the kittens a secret; anyone that has ever owned a cat knows there’s no way of keeping an inside cat a secret when it goes in the litter-box (and I just had one cat!).

This book follows Megan and her friend Jill over a short weekend as they pet-sit for the local librarian. The woman has a dog, cat, and bird. Over the weekend, Megan learns that it’s not as easy as she thought it would be to be a pet sitter. She finds a lot of comfort and pride on achievement during payday and after talking to her older brother Kevin, who reveals to her the struggles of his first job mowing lawns for the neighborhood.

It’s a cute story. Four out of five stars — Ms. Foland still needs some improvement in her creative writing, but overall young girls will enjoy reading it. I appreciate the opportunity to review her book and wish her continue success with the series.

[Book Review] Thank God I’m Here

In the beginning of December I had received a request for a book review: Thank God I’m Here, by Raymond Dale (sorry for the late review).

The marketing manager for Mr. Dale’s book had emailed me and asked if I would review the book; I replied I would, and that I prefer PDF formats via email rather than a physical book be mailed to me. Today I finally read Mr. Dale’s book.

It is a Christian testimonial book. I, being of the non-practicing Catholic faith, still gave it a fair critic from an author’s standpoint. I give it 3 out of 5 stars.

The book is not very long, and it could be read in one day if you have the time. Mr. Dale writes in a very easy way, as if talking to a friend, so the sentences flows freely and naturally. There are black-and-white photos that are included in each chapter to correspond with the chapter’s theme.

It starts off with the death of Mr. Dale’s son, and his stated forgiveness for those he felt responsible for the death. Although the story does get personal, it is not personal enough. The chapters always starts with a story from his past and then moves on to the next awakening or enlightenment by God through Jesus Christ — in that aspect, the author could have improved his creative writing skills to follow through with his stories.

For example, there was no deeper details about the death of his son; or the other anecdotes of his revelations, including the last chapters of his business dealing and how he felt cheated or wronged — instead, it reminded me of when someone says: I have a secret, but I can’t tell… well, why are you telling me you have a secret then?

The book would be more captivating if Mr. Dale’s story-telling writing was better sharpened; but as a Christian-faith book, those devoted to the faith will probably enjoy it the most. He talks about the different ways Christ has entered his life, the constant battle with Satan, and the power of forgiveness.

I appreciate the opportunity to review Mr. Dale’s book, and I wish him success with it.