Friday Five: Childhood Books

Before I get to this week’s Friday Five, I wanted to thank all of you who read and comment on my blog, especially yesterday’s post. I really appreciate it and love reading the wisdom you all have to share. Thanks! 🙂

I thought I’d continue with the childhood theme and talk about childhood books. All of these I recall with fondness, and all of these were read by me multiple times when I was a child.

1. The Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell. I loved loved LOVED this book in the fourth grade! My teacher read it to us a chapter at a time, and I was enthralled from the beginning. And when she finished reading it, I had to have my own copy, which I read over and over.

2. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. I still have my copy of this book that I ordered from the Scholastic catalog (I loved getting those things!). I instantly fell in love with Anne and read all of the books in the series. L.M. Montgomery became a favorite writer after I read this book, and I soon amassed quite the collection of her works. The Emily of New Moon series rivaled the Anne books as my favorites.

3. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein. I remember poring over the poems in this book, delighted by the rhyme and the whimsy (although I’m pretty sure I didn’t know what “whimsy” was at the time.) I also love A Light in the Attic.

4. The Ramona Quimby books by Beverly Cleary. I don’t remember which I liked best, but I devoured all of the books about Ramona, as well as the Henry Huggins series. And what’s not to love about a character who has a sister called “Beezus”?

5. The Anastasia series by Lois Lowry. I related so much to Anastasia. I loved that she wore glasses, as I started wearing them in the first grade and they were the bane of my existence. I also read the books in the series about her brother Sam.

Honorable mentions: Aesop’s Fables, Where the Wild Things Are (there’s a movie based on this book coming out in October!), The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, The Baby-sitters Club series (I think I owned almost all of the books in this series), The Little Princess.

What are some of your favorites?

Looking Back to Move Forward

Though this blog is only a little over two years old, I have actually been a blogger for over four years. Most of my early blogging was done on Xanga, and even when I decided that I preferred Blogger to Xanga, I posted entries in both places for a long time before finally posting solely to this site. Even now, I haven’t had the heart to delete my Xanga because it was so foundational for me and contains many important memories and connections to people, so I have been in the process of shifting all of my old Xanga posts from there to here. This will take quite some time, as in the early days of blogging I would often post multiple times a day (usually very silly things, to be honest), and my blogging in general was much more frequent than it is now. You’ll notice the archives on here increasing as I continue to add posts, and I wanted to share with you a few snippets I came across today as I was adding posts from 2005.

One of my earliest posts, in February of 2005, in which I blog about trying to be healthy:

Being healthy is stinkin’ hard! Especially when you don’t like eating healthy food. The only veggies I like are broccoli, corn, carrots, and potatoes, and I can only take so much of those. Did you know that the FDA recommends 3-4 servings of veggies a DAY? Who are they kidding?? Who eats that many veggies, except animals? Does anyone reading this post, b/c if you do, I wanna hear about it. Now, if they considered french fries veggies, I’d be in good shape! And really, they should, b/c french fries are potatoes, right? Absolutely!

Haha, I don’t think that particular experiment in healthy living lasted long.

One from the end of March 2005, in which I blog about frustrating shopping trips and ice cream:

The human mind is a funny thing; I went shopping this weekend and was depressed by how fat I looked in everything I tried on. But instead of going out and exercising, what did I do? I went and got some ice cream. Even as I was paying for the ice cream, part of me was screaming, “What are you doing? This is the very thing that’s made you fat, and here you are getting more?! Stop it!” But I can’t. And then I feel guilty and apathetic, but nothing changes. I’m still me, and that’s what I have to live with, only sometimes I’d just rather not.

Just reading that makes me sad for how I felt back then.

A post from July 2005 in which I blog about the spiritual aspect of weight issues after yet another unsuccessful shopping trip:

I struggle with being angry at God because it seems like so many other people can eat whatever they want and not really have to worry about gaining weight, whereas I look at food and it immediately latches onto my thighs. But I know that’s wrong. I just read in Isaiah that I have no right to quarrel with my Maker. He certainly knows what He’s doing. I just hate my body sometimes. A lot of the time, actually. I hate how I always feel like the fattest person in the room; I hate feeling dread whenever I simply walk past a bathing suit display; I hate having to constantly think about what I’m eating is causing me to gain. Most of all, I think I hate how I’m too lazy to change it, and how that must displease my Lord. Jesus, help me help myself.

So much about these entries seems foreign to me now, and yet so much of it still rings very true. I am no longer drowning in self-pity about my weight but am actively working to change myself for the better, but I still fight a constant battle with food and laziness and longing. I think I always will. But I know that I am the better for having struggled, and I am glad that I can look back on these entries and see how far I’ve come instead of realizing that nothing has changed.

Where were you four years ago? Are you proud of the person you’ve become?

Friday Five: Memorable Childhood Movies

Well, July has been quite interesting so far. I’ve had a nasty cold/sinus thing since Monday evening, and therefore I have not gotten a decent night’s sleep since Sunday evening. On the positive side, Stephen’s parents came to visit on Wednesday, and we’ve had a great time shopping, watching movies, and playing Yahtzee. (I won! Woohoo! I enjoy winning.)

Anywho, this will be a quick Friday Five, so here ya go: 5 movies I watched multiple times during my childhood (which I will define as spanning from age 5-12. I can’t remember much from any age prior to 5). The films are listed in chronological order, beginning with the earliest release. Obviously, since I wasn’t born until 1981, I saw some of these years after they originally came out.

1. The Great Muppet Caper (1981) and The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984). Yes, these are two separate films, but I couldn’t pick just one of them! I loved the muppets and adored these movies. Total classics.

2. The Tale of the Bunny Picnic (1986). Does anyone else remember this? Technically it’s not really a movie because it is only an hour long and was aired on HBO, but still, I remember watching it so much I’m sure I wore out the VHS tape! I believe it’s one of the few films in which a dog plays the nemesis.

3. Beauty and the Beast (1991). Oh my word, I thought Belle was me captured in animation! I just loved that she was a bookworm and cared about being smart and was loyal to her father and looked with distaste upon Gaston even though he was brawny and attractive. I remember many an afternoon when I would dance around the living room singing, “Little town, it’s a quiet village. Every day, like the one before…”

4. Aladdin. I knew every word of this movie and especially enjoyed acting out “One Jump Ahead” and “Friend Like Me,” and of course, “A Whole New World.” I’ve gotta say, they just don’t make Disney movies like they used to.

5. Free Willy (1993). What can I say? This girl was one huge whale lover after seeing that movie. Plus, the boy in the lead role was HOT. (When I looked this movie up on IMDB, I saw that it has increased in popularity by 266%. Could that be because Michael Jackson contributed songs on the soundtrack?)

Honorable Mentions: The Care Bears Movie (Who can defeat the “Care Bear Stare?”); The NeverEnding Story (what’s not to love in a movie featuring a flying doglike dragon creature?); Snoopy Come Home (How sad is this movie?? I don’t know why it was my favorite Peanuts movie, but it was.)

What movies did you watch over and over when you were a kid?

From the Blog Archives: A Valentine’s Day Reminiscence

In honor of Valentine’s Day on Saturday, I thought I would re-post this entry from my blog about my worst Valentine’s Day experience. It’s long but well worth the read, in my humble opinion (and if you disagree, I don’t want to know about it).

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I thought that some of you anti-Valentine’s people could use a little humor, so I am going to share the worst Valentine’s Day experience I’ve ever had. It just so happens that this experience occurred just last year, and the only reason I didn’t share it at the time is because the guy read my blog. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t read it now, though, so I feel safe in telling this story. All parts of this story are completely true, unfortunately. Guys: let this be a lesson on how not to conduct a date. Girls: if you find yourself in a similar situation, try to be kind. Some guys just need more help than others.

I don’t know if I ever really broadcasted this information on my blog, but I tried eHarmony last year for quite a while, and I went on quite a few dates (I called that school year the year of boys). I had been emailing this one guy, we’ll call him Jim, for a few weeks, and he was funny and sweet in his emails, so I was a little interested. Then he called me a few times, and while it was pretty awkward, I chalked it up to nerves and hoped he would improve over time. He asked me out for our first date on Valentine’s Day, and while I was definitely a little hesitant to have a first date with someone on the most romantic day of the year (supposedly), I felt bad saying no, so I said yes. Mistake number one.

So that night (a Tuesday), he came and picked me up, and he was really sweet, really cute, and he brought me roses and Godiva chocolates. A little much for a first date, but it was sweet. Then we get in the car, and it’s kind of silent so I ask him what kind of music he likes. He replied with, “I don’t really listen to music that much.” What?! I insisted that he must have some sort of favorite, but he just said he listens to “whatever’s on the radio.” That’s when I knew this wasn’t going to go well. Our dinner reservations weren’t until 9:30 or something crazy like that because that was the earliest reservation he could get, so we went to see Nanny McPhee first (which was really cute), and that was okay because it was a movie and we didn’t have to actually communicate. Then we went to the place where he’d made dinner reservations, which turned out to be this pretty fancy place with “mood lighting” and a very intimate environment. Apparently one of his friends told him he should try it, but he’d never been there before. Everything on the menu was pretty much $18.95 and up, so I got a hamburger because it was only $12.95 (I think I should have ordered prime rib).

I wish I could tell you that the romantic environment was the perfect compliment to our date, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Turns out Jim’s awkwardness on the phone was only a foreshadowing of the awkwardness I experienced with him in person. No matter what I did, Jim just couldn’t carry on a conversation. I’d ask him a question, he’d answer, and then there’d be this awkward silence until I thought of something else to ask him. When I told him he could feel free to ask me something, he asked, “What do you want me to ask?” (Again, I’d like to remind you that this is all true.) Later I asked him to tell me something about himself that I didn’t know, he sat there in silence, thinking, and then said, “I don’t do well with hard questions.” Since when is asking someone about themselves a hard question?? I couldn’t believe any guy could be that socially inept, but poor Jim was. The end of the night couldn’t come soon enough. After the (very long) dinner, he took me home, walked me to my door, and we said goodbye. I thought for sure that was it. No way could he think that went well.

I’m so naive.

The next day, not even twenty-four hours later, he called and asked me out again. I was so shocked I just kind of sat there for a second. I told him, as nicely as I could, that I didn’t really see things going anywhere with us. He said he understood, thanked me, and we hung up.

But that wasn’t the end. Later that day I got an email from him. In it, he thanked me again for my honesty and then asked what was wrong with him. Apparently he’s only been on two dates in his entire life (he was 26 at the time),and ours was the better of the two. He wanted to know if there was some huge defect in his character that he needed to know about, or if he was just a lost cause. He even asked if it was because he wore a brown belt with black shoes because he knew that was wrong but couldn’t find his black belt. (I kid you not, he really said that. That was probably the cutest part of the email.) After trying to figure out how in the world to tell him nicely that he has no social skills, I wrote him and explained that I felt like I had to work too hard on the date, that he didn’t really try to get to know me, and that I was exhausted with having to carry the whole evening. So he wrote me back, thanked me some more, and said he understood everything I said and would I be willing to give him a second chance. Jim’s persistent, I’ll give him that. But I told him no. And I guess it’s a good thing I did, since now I have Stephen, and we have no problem carrying on a conversation!

Jim, if you’re out there reading this, I hope this Valentine’s Day goes better for you. And if there are other guys like Jim out there, know that there are worse things to fear than a date with a girl. Just be yourself, act interested, and talk! That’s pretty much all there is to it.

Can anyone top that story? I’d love to hear more Valentine’s Day horror stories. Or, some really sweet Valentine’s Day stories.

(originally published February 14, 2007)