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Friday, July 29, 2011

Five for Friday

1.  You don't sweat the small stuff or dwell on the negatives -- if something bad happened, no sense in freaking out over it.  You just push on through and keep going =)

2.  You're a great friend.

3.  You fell in love with a thirteen-pound Schnauzer (who misses you already, by the way!)

4.  I know it's super cheesy, but you've changed me for the better.

5.  You're the only boy I know I'd willingly uproot my life for over and over again =)

ily <3

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Think: About Kids, Education, and Reading

A few weeks back, at one of my sister-in-law's ultrasounds, her youngest brother commented to those of us in the waiting room (his mother, my mother, my sister-in-law, and me) how much he dislikes school, and that his favorite parts of the day were lunch and recess.  I could naturally relate to him, of course, considering I'd gone through the same grumblings and complaints about not liking school and generally how difficult it could be.


But as he was speaking, and as the others in the room smiled and nodded in polite, silent agreement, as if this were normal, acceptable, and appropriate for a boy of his age, a thought struck me -- this certainly cannot be good.  But I didn't speak up because I didn't know exactly what to say to him.  I wanted to tell him, "No!  School is wonderful, and important, and you absolutely, vitally NEED your education to survive in this world!", but I didn't.  I held back, and I really regret it.

This brings me to today, when I was reading another section of Lisa Bloom's book Think:  Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World, which I mentioned in yesterday's "Wednesday Words" post.  Below is an excerpt showcasing her views on America's education system:

"The point is that we don't value education.  We see it as something to be cut during budget crises, something to let kids escape from whenever possible, an evil that perhaps isn't even necessary.  We teach our kids to rejoice when school's out and to dread going back to school when it resumes.  Learning is perceived as somewhere between a tedious obligation and an outright pain in the ass.  As a result, our teenagers graduate without the basic facts about the world we run...

All of those years of celebrating no-school days and grumbling about classes and tests and assignments set the foundation for a life of intellectual flaccidity.  I say this because those of us who are out of school are not off the hook.  Once we graduate, our ignorance is our own damn fault...

According to the National Endowment for the Arts in its comprehensive 2004 survey, To Read or Not to Read, one-third of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives.  Eighty percent of American families did not buy or read a book last year.  Seventy percent of U.S. adults have not even set food in a bookstore in the last five years.  Reading proficiency rates are stagnant or declining in adults of both genders across all education levels.  Nearly half of all Americans age eighteen to twenty-four read no books for pleasure."  (pgs. 47-48, bold/italic notations my own)

I feel that her comments about the value we place on education are pretty much spot on.  If they weren't, our students would be able to keep up internationally with other students their age, but they don't.  We aren't giving our kids the leverage, experience, discipline, and passion that they deserve to have to better themselves as human beings.  We're not valuing their minds.

And I'll be honest, the last paragraph actually brought me to tears.  How can it possibly be that one-third of high school graduates never again read another book?  Why are we letting ourselves off the intellectual hook?  I couldn't even imagine never stepping foot inside a bookstore again, or never deriving a thrill from beginning a brand new, never-before-read story that I know will keep me entertained for hours, or enlightening myself with another person's viewpoint on the world through a fascinating, non-fiction novel.

It's all enough to make me swear that I won't allow my kids, or my nephew and niece (and all future nephews and nieces), or even kids I have no blood relation to fall into this depressingly disturbing down spiral of laziness.  If I could redo that day, I'd dig a little deeper into my sister-in-law's brother's mind.  I'd find out his interests, and I'd attempt to show him how they relate to his schoolwork, and how learning from those subjects could inspire a desire to learn more, know more, do more, as well as foster something other than a general dislike for education.  It might not work, at least not right away, but then again, it also just might instill a passion for learning that otherwise might not have been lit.  I may never know if I'm able to make a difference in some kid's life, such as in this circumstance, but the very least I can do for that child is try.

Wednesday Words

**Disclaimer:  This post is of a more serious nature, which isn't what I usually about, but I feel it's important to acknowledge.  The thoughts projected here mention a sensitive subject (rape), and are used to make a point to bring awareness to the act of "thinking" as a whole.  Keeping that in mind, if you don't wish to continue reading, please stop here.

~~~


"Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think."  -- Martin Luther King, Jr.

also

"Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it."  -- Henry Ford

I've recently (as of a couple of hours ago) begun to read the book pictured above, titled Think:  Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World and written by Lisa Bloom, and as intended, it has encouraged me to think about the world around me.  As soon as I finish it, I'll be sure to give a more thorough review/explanation, but for now, her basic argument is that women think and care more about petty, materialistic, and superficial things (cosmetics, shoes, bags, and the latest celebrity scandal) than they do about real, important, heavy issues, like the state of our country, war, and people in need across the world.

It's already affected me, even in the very few pages I've read.  It made me stop and examine an email I get every so often from Military.com regarding news in the military.  This time, I actually read through more than just the link advertised in the email's title.  Eventually I got to a story on how the military is cracking down on soldiers, sailors, airmen, etc. participating in the growing sex slave trade problem in the world.  In the comments section of the article (when will I learn to stop reading comments on controversial stories?  It only serves to rile me up!) people actually had issues with this.  They claimed it interfered with military members' freedoms and rights to do what they wanted in their own free time (and mind you, these rules the DoD/government are imposing are for prostitution [a trade that is illegal in our home country of the US] and prostitution only, not sex between two consenting adults free of charge), and they also claimed that they are only enforcing/creating such rules because the wives are upset (but that's a whole other issue in my opinion).  I think that the first part of that argument is pretty silly, considering when you sign up for the military, the government tells you pretty much anything you can and can't do from the get go.  The second part I'll save for another time.

But that isn't the end of the story.  In my mind, it went too far when one person (presumably a man, in my opinion, but who really knows) actually openly stated that prostitutes probably helped keep the number of military member-on-military member rape cases down because they helped to "alleviate stress."

I'm still fuming over the ignorance and stupidity of this kind of statement.  It gives men SO little credit when it comes to the responsibility of controlling their bodily actions and alludes to the idea that if men don't obtain sexual satisfaction, they'll turn into raping time bombs, which is ridiculous.  I for one have a bit more faith in the male gender than this person obviously does.  The "argument" (if you can even call it that) also completely ignores the fact that rape isn't about sex -- there are underlying reasons to why someone (man or woman) commits a rape, like power and control.  It's never because they needed to "alleviate stress."

It's incredibly frustrating for me to attempt to understand what goes on in some people's minds, and why they have absolutely zero sense on something as solemn and grave as an issue like this.  It's enough to drive me batty, quite frankly, since it seems many people share these kinds of ignorant opinions on our society.  But it can also serve a purpose as well -- it can keep those of us who are actually sane from becoming complacent  so we can use our common sense to battle this kind of obtuseness and keep it from becoming a part of mainstream thought.

I suppose it looks like Wednesday Words has turned into something more like "Mrs. Landrum on Her Soapbox," but I feel things like this can't and shouldn't be ignored.  We need to be aware of the ideologies surrounding our cultures, especially when they are ignorant (and sometimes vindictive).  So thank you, Lisa Bloom, for helping me continue on a path that encourages thinking.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Joys of Moving

Okay, so my post title tonight is a little sarcastic.

Moving sucks.  Especially when you find out last minute that the packers are actually coming a day sooner than you thought they were.

Here's a little journey through our apartment earlier in the day:

Messy living room
Messy guest room
Always messy office
Confused hubby
Neglected (and also confused) puppy
It's hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that as of next Thursday, our time in Pensacola will be over.  It's been wonderful being able to live with each other for the past year and really strengthen our relationship.  It will be challenging dealing with the separations in Hawaii, but we're remaining optimistic.

But for now, panic mode is about to ensue since the movers will be here in LESS THAN TWO DAYS.

<flips a lid>

Friday, July 22, 2011

Five for Friday

1.  You saved my toe from possible infection and/or contracting gangrene and falling off my foot entirely =)

2.  You just maybe possibly might let me order another dress from Modcloth ;)

3.  You showed me how well we can work as a team when we started sorting through our stuff for the move.

4.  You're so cute when you play with Liam and talk to him in that silly voice.

5.  You're going to take me to brinner tonight -- yay!!

ily <3

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wednesday Words




"Contrary to what the cynics say, distance is not for the fearful, it is for the bold. It's for those who are willing to spend a lot of time alone in exchange for a little time with the one they love. It's for those knowing a good thing when they see it, even if they don't see it nearly enough."

-- Author Unknown

With Mr. L going off to Maryland in less than a week, and upcoming deployments in the back of my mind, it's nice to read quotes like this to remind myself that all of the distance and separation is absolutely worth it in the end, no matter how bumpy the journey or how long the separation.  Every adventure has its ups and downs, so here's to more of the former and less of the latter!  =)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

One Bowl Chocolate Cake

A couple of weeks ago, in an effort to thank Mr. L for a new camera purchase while simultaneously begining to whittle away at our pantry stash, I decided to make a chocolate cake from scratch.


I hadn't baked an entirely homemade chocolate cake before, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to try.  So I went searching online for a recipe, and found one that only required ingredients I already had in my pantry.  I went all out and made it with some homemade cream cheese icing as well.

The result was some seriously awesome, delicious cake.  It wasn't too chocolately or heavy, and it was incredibly moist and fluffy.  I ended up making it again for a friend's birthday over the Fourth of July weekend with the same icing, and people seemed to enjoy it there too.  It will absolutely end up becoming my go-to chocolate cake in the future -- you just can't beat quick, easy, and absolutely delicious!

One Bowl Chocolate Cake (from AllRecipes.com)


Ingredients

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two nine inch round pans.  (Obviously you can use any pan you like, just be sure to monitor your cooking time!)

In a large bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.


Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla, mix for 2 minutes on medium speed of mixer.  Stir in the boiling water last.  Batter will be thin (very thin -- don't worry if it looks too watery, it's supposed to be like that, I promise!).


Pour evenly into the prepared pans.  Bake 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until the cake tests done with a toothpick.


Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Finish the cake with your choice of icing (the cream cheese kind really was fabulous with it!)


Serve and enjoy, but try not to devour it in one sitting =)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Five for Friday

1. You made me so proud today when you officially reenlisted with the Navy, and when your Lieutenant Commander recognized all the things you have accomplished and all the hard work you've done in Pensacola with your course.

2. You're such a sweet, nice, kind person, and it showed when so many military showed up on a Friday to watch your ceremony.

3. You say something silly during our "stress arguments" to make me laugh and dissolve any anger instantly.

4. You indulge my whims (most of them, anyway!) just to see me smile and be happy.

5. You are so passionate about things you love, like your job, your hobbies, and of course me =)

ily <3

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Wednesday Words

In order to keep myself regularly blogging throughout this whole moving process, I also decided to start a post every week called "Wednesday Words" in which I pick a quote and either say something about it or let it speak for itself. :)

~~~

“There are things that we never want to let go of, people we never want to leave behind. But keep in mind that letting go isn’t the end of the world, it’s the beginning of a new life.” — Anonymous

Sunrise as seen from the top of Haleakala, a massive volcano in East Maui which actually makes up 75% of the island -- absolutely on my bucket list for things to do while we're there!
It's obvious how this quote relates to me, but I am absolutely making it a point to keep a perspective like this. Although "letting go" (albeit temporarily) of our family and friends here is going to be a very difficult process, particularly for me, I want to look forward to our new home with excitement and anticipation.

Hau’oli Po’akolu, hoaloha! (Happy Wednesday, friends!)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Five for Friday

After seeing other bloggers do a certain kind of "theme post" called "Five for Friday", I thought I'd get in on the action.

Basically, every Friday, I'll list five reasons why I love Mr. L.  I think this will be a great way to not only let him know how much he means to me, but to also keep him a little closer to my heart when he starts deploying after we get to Hawaii.  So without further ado, here we go!

1.  You work so hard to be a great teacher and a great sailor -- which includes studying algebra (who the heck would want to do that when you could relax?!) for your next training course!

2.  You took some time out of your early night to succumb to my wishes and help get clothes organized for the move.

3.  You take the puppy out when I'm feeling lazy.

4.  You really enjoy the concoctions I whip up in the kitchen.

5.  You stay calm when I freak out so we don't both lose our heads!

ily <3

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Pensacola Lighthouse

Since Mr. L had Friday off from work thanks to Independence Day (Happy belated Fourth of July everyone, by the way!), we decided to take a late afternoon trip to visit the Pensacola Lighthouse.

The Pensacola Lighthouse was first lit on January 1, 1859.  It is 150 feet high, and sits 190 feet above sea level.  It is considered a historical landmark in the Pensacola area, and is even rumored to be haunted.




We pulled up in the parking lot and were immediately greeted by this beautiful sight:


After admiring the lighthouse's exterior, we made our way inside to purchase our admission tickets and begin our 177-step climb.

Yep, we had to climb 177 total of those!
With it being so warm outside and being so enclosed in the lighthouse itself, I definitely felt a sense of vertigo a few times -- so not fun!  There were at least windows though, five to be exact, so we could still breathe some fresh air occasionally.

View from the lighthouse's first window
Pensacola NAS Museum from another window 
View of the beach from a window closer to the top
We took a breather when we reached the Lantern Room while I attempted not to let my queasy vertigo stomach get the better of me!


Thankfully I recovered, and we headed up the teeny-tiny-narrow steps out onto the lighthouse's balcony.  It was absolutely worth the climb; the views were breathtaking!

Another view of the Pensacola NAS Museum
Beach with Perdido Key on the right, way out where the tall buildings are
We were also definitely high up:


I love this picture looking down on the flag -- so pretty!
After once again freaking myself out a little to crouch down and get those shots, I resolved myself to continue enjoying the view.




After maybe fifteen or twenty minutes of enjoying the breeze and sights, we climbed back down the tower to roam the lighthouse grounds and snap some more pictures.



Then we had to say goodbye to the Pensacola Lighthouse, but not before I purchased a souvenir of course!


I'd love to go back and watch a Blue Angels practice from there, but unfortunately I don't think we'll be able to manage that since we have so little time left in Pensacola.  We'll just have to compensate by doing something fun in Hawaii, I suppose =)