"I am alive and kicking"

Never miss a post! Sign up for notifications through email at the bottom of the page.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Princess Leia gone too soon: RIP Carrie Fisher

In my early years, I sure did love Ariel in "The Little Mermaid," but I really wanted to be like Princess Leia Organa in "Star Wars."
Today we mourn the loss of Carrie Fisher, who so magnificently played the iconic Star Wars princess.

Carrie Fisher rockin' those awesome cinnabuns in "Star Wars: A New Hope."

Not only was Princess Leia beautiful and intelligent, but she was one badass spy and infiltrator. Despite her position within galactic royalty, Leia risked her life to do her part in delivering the Death Star plans to the rebels. Plus, she totally mouthed off to Darth Vader.
Bad. Ass.
Okay. So I understand Leia is a completely fictional character, and completely acknowledge it was Carrie Fisher the whole time making her so awesome.
Fisher portrayed a range of emotions, but my favorite of hers was anger when she choked the life out of gigantic galactic mobster Jabba the Hutt. Seriously, she turned her chains into a lethal weapon, all while wearing the skimpiest space bikini.
Bad. Ass.
I know Fisher didn't ONLY play Princess Leia, but it is pretty much her defining role.
However, a few of her other roles that were my favorites include the therapist in "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery" and the Mystery Woman in "Blues Brothers."
I also enjoyed her appearance on "The Big Bang Theory" a few years ago when James Earl Jones and Sheldon Cooper pranked her by ringing her doorbell and running away.
It is sad that she died so young. Thank goodness she was willing to return to the iconic role that so defined her as an actress for nearly 40 years. Despite what others say of her performance in "The Force Awakens," I don't think anyone could possibly have played the role.
RIP Carrie Fisher.

Monday, December 19, 2016

'Me Before You' unconventional, but an important read

Books are like really long movies for me. Some are bad, some are, "Blah, but I guess I can make it to the end." Then there are those like "Me Before You" that are just so good that I literally cry, laugh and get mad throughout.

Image may contain: one or more people and text
This beautiful story is one of making difficult

"Me Before You" is a story set in 2009 Britain. An ordinary girl named Louisa Clark loses her job after her boss closes his business. Out of desperation, and because the money is amazing, Lou takes a job caring for a quadriplegic man named Will Traynor. Will was injured in a road accident two years prior and hates his life. He hasn't left his home in two years, with the exception of medical appointments and emergencies.
So, without giving too much away, this is quite the unconventional story line and I loved it.
Lou is bubbly and sunny, but with dark undertones. She uses her clothes as a way to stay cheerful and often reminds herself she needs a job to help her struggling mother and father. But it's hard for her to remember all that when her family constantly reminds her she doesn't quite live up to her sister's standards.
Despite her bubbly nature, Will is unmoved and treats Lou like garbage ~ until one day Lou says enough.
"Me Before You" literally had me laughing out loud and tears rolling down my cheeks, in public, mind you.
Lou forces Will on several adventures just to get him out of the house. Despite some setbacks, Lou's plans start to take shape and Will's attitude begins to soften.
I could hardly put this book down at night. I found myself reading long past the time I'd promised myself I'd go to bed, saying, "Oh just one more chapter." I haven't done that in quite some time.
JoJo Moyes' writing is fluid and encapsulating, and each chapter flew by like I'd actually been watching a movie. Her characters are vivid and enjoyable, despite how stupid a few of them act.
This beautiful story is about hard choices, not only for Will but for those around him. It's an invisible subject for many people, but for those whose lives are spent dependent upon others it's a very real situation.
A big thanks to Hanna Lindstrom-Henning for suggesting the book! It was completely worth the read.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Fuss & Bother Boutique more than just a store

On Friday, I found two unique women with whom I simply expected to have a brief encounter while checking out their small business. 
Instead, I stood in their little shop for nearly two hours visiting and hearing some pretty entertaining stories. 
Bonnie and Angie own Fuss & Bother Boutique. 

A screenshot of Fuss & Bother Boutique's Facebook page.

They set up shop in a two-story, white house behind Taco John's in Mitchell. They feature handmade jewelry, crocheted bookmarks and other fun items to enjoy browsing. The mother and daughter duo have been vegans for decades and offer many spices, sauce mixes, stew and soup spices, and so much more. 
Despite the house being in a strange location, it is totally worth anyone stopping by.
Bonnie and Angie offer a unique shopping experience, accompanied by two cats and off-kilter senses of humor (which is a good thing!). Fuss & Bother Boutique is open daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

Monday, December 5, 2016

"Fantastic Beasts" super freaking amazing

If you HAVE NOT SEEN "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" and PLAN on seeing it, don't read this post. I don't want to ruin it for you. 

Ever since I started reading the Harry Potter books, I wished there was some sort of series focused on or at least based in a U.S. magical community.
So when J.K. Rowling created "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them," I nearly squealed with delight. Her quirky characters and wonderful imagination once again brought to life a community I can only dream to be a part of.
I unashamedly went to "Fantastic Beasts" alone yesterday at the Mitchell movie theater. I sadly couldn't find anyone to go with, but I suppose that gave me the clearance to solely concentrate on the movie.

The Actors

I'll comment briefly on the actors, just to get it out of the way.
Nearly everyone was excellent! I loved Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander. He is so strange that he fits the part perfectly.
I enjoyed that a no-maj (non-magical person) was included as a supporting character in Dan Fogler as Jacob Kowalski. His wonder personified a generation of us muggles reading the Harry Potter books, and how I feel in diving into a completely different magical era.
Colin Farrell, who portrayed Percival Graves, played the part well. Since I haven't seen many movies of his, I was all right with him being cast in such a large role.
The only portion of the movie I completely disliked, as far as actors, is that they cast Johnny Depp as Gellert Grindlewald. Depp has portrayed some outlandish characters, and I just feel he has no place in the movie. Grindlewald was British, and I figured Ms. Rowling would cast a British actor to fill the role. I'm hoping she'll see her mistake, or that Johnny Depp will prove me wrong and not be as eccentric in the role. Although I know Grindlewald is an eccentric character, I have this vision in my head of how he should be and Depp does not fulfill that portrayal.


The wonderful magic that is cinema animation could not have produced this movie more seamlessly. It was beautiful ~ a Thunderbird; a niffler; a bowtruckle named Pickett; an erumpent; a demiguise; a swooping evil; and many more. It's just too wonderful. Not gonna lie, I was nearly in tears watching this movie for a couple reasons.
Not only do I wish I could see these creatures in real life and (even as a no-maj) be a part of the wizarding world, I wish I had half the imagination and determination of J.K. Rowling. Damn that woman has a fantastic brain.
It's one thing for J.R.R. Tolkien to have completely created a world of his own, but for Rowling to have created a world within our own world and have them intertwine so perfectly, is amazing. This movie was much more mesmerizing to me because I love the 1920s, I have wanted to see backstory of Grindlewald and Dumbledore fleshed out and learn more about the wizarding world not through Harry Potter's eyes.

The Soundtrack

Thank you, Ms. Rowling, for including the Harry Potter theme in the soundtrack, but not overdoing it. The rest of the soundtrack was so wonderful, particularly the jazz, that I stayed for the credits just to hear it again.
I feel music makes the movie complete. Without a mix of music, great dialogue and superior acting, a movie is a flop for me. Music tugs at emotions and makes an audience realize when something suspenseful, happy, sad, horrible or otherwise is happening.
This is the first time in years I've even thought about purchasing a soundtrack.

Final Thoughts

If you are a huge nerd, like me, consider a few things if you'd like to learn more about the wizarding world Ms. Rowling has created. Sign up (for free!) on Pottermore.com. Rowling has added many new writings about North American magical history, including a history on the North American school of magic. My heart flutters when I even think about it. Also learn more backstory on your favorite Harry Potter characters, locations, beasts and more!
Also, here's a fun link to learn about the magical beasts in "Fantastic Beasts." Also, you will also find many writings about magical beasts on Pottermore.
As I watched "Fantastic Beasts" I had a sudden flash of the possibilities of the rest of Ms. Rowling's career. And the possibilities of my reading list for the rest of my life.
The depth of a world which Ms. Rowling has created opened up in front of me as I watched the movie. I'm pretty sure I missed about three minutes of the show just thinking of the story possibilities.
That gives me a good reason to gather $7 and go see it again before it exits the theater.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Book about ordinary life shows strength of human spirit

"A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" is truly a book about nothing.
Oh, there's a story, and a damn good one, but really there is no plot line other than to know what happened to Francie Nolan from birth to age 16.

It's compelling, make no mistake. You get background on Francie's parents, which makes you wish for a better set of circumstances. However, you see there is hope for a brighter future, which pushes you through the book.
Although I've often wished to travel back to earlier days of the United States, this book made me take into account the early 1900s were quite difficult, especially for those who were uneducated.
Francie Nolan is a tenacious, but shy little girl. Like most children, she loves her parents despite their flaws. Francie often is confused by other children and how horrible they can be. However, she rises above what she's born into and finds a way out of the uneducated life her family has always known.
As she grows up, we see Francie not only through Francie's eyes, but many other characters -- her mother, Katie, her aunts Sissy and Evy, her father Johnny, and others -- often depict Francie from their own points of view.
I'm not an English scholar, so I don't necessarily stop to find the meaning in every book.
This book is, quite simply, about humans living their lives to the best of their abilities with the situations they're given. It is about human beings struggling to survive.
But what drew me into the book were the vivid descriptions of early 1900s Brooklyn and New York City, and the people who lived there.
It was little details like Katie's "vici-kid high buttoned shoes" that caught my attention. I actually had to look up what the heck these things are:

It was descriptions of junk dealers in Francie's neighborhood, the dingy tenements the families lived in and the strange and sad family dynamics that made this book so interesting.
Many called "The Grapes of Wrath" the defining book of The Great Depression.
I wouldn't go so far as to call "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" a defining book of a generation. But I would say, it excels at showing the joys and sorrows of human life with such triumph that it is definitely hard to put down.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Spoiler Alert: Political opinions from a mostly unpolitical person

The election is over, yet the divisive chatter remains.
I did not like either main presidential candidate this year. Nor did I vote for either one.
I voted my conscience, despite some views of my third-party candidate, and made my voice heard on a different, more common sense route for the United States.
I have held off on voicing my opinion after the election. Why? I'm not completely informed on everything regarding our new president-elect. I really regret not taking Jeff Hart's classes in high school (please don't judge me too cruelly, Mr. Hart).
Despite that, I feel the need to at least say a few things.
Although Donald Trump is not my choice for president, he is still set to be the president of my country. I do not support some of his intentions as our commander in chief, but I do realize that not all his propositions will come to pass. Yes, the president has the power to veto an act passed by Congress, but with a majority, Congress has the power to override it.
I still have hope that Donald Trump, despite his many flaws, will do his best in that office. I believe (and have to believe) that he will surround himself (or be forced to surround himself) with knowledgeable people for his cabinet and staffers. I have to believe people will slip in there and serve as voices of reason when the main voices are being unreasonable. I have to believe those voices will be heard and serve the people of our great country as best they can.
All our presidents have had major flaws - you know, because they're human. Many other presidents have been womanizers. That does not give Donald Trump the right to be one, nor does it excuse others from having acted inappropriately.
However, Donald Trump's actions do not give us as U.S. citizens the right to pass judgement. Our right to free speech does afford us the luxury to condemn his actions.
We must stand united, as we are citizens of the United States of America. Notice our country's name is not the Divided States of America.
As Donald Trump uses Twitter and other social medias to spread his unchecked words, please, use your own social media accounts to do better. I encourage and support free speech, but I do not support divisiveness. It is contradictory to what our country stands for.
This morning, I read a brief article titled "50 Groups/Individuals Jesus Says You Can Hate." 
I am not particularly religious, but I do believe Jesus sets a fantastic example for people of all faiths in that he loves all people. We have the right to our own opinions, but our country is founded also on the freedom of religion and the right to live our lives the way we want.
Despite Donald Trump's many faults, I am willing to give him a chance. He was elected fairly (unless that is proven otherwise). If he screws up, the United States has the chance to elected another person into office in 2020.
I will hold onto hope that we can again become a united country. And if Donald Trump helps start that, then I suppose his time if office will have been worth the commotion.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Freelance is not for Pussy Cats

Confidence is a huge key when branching off on your own venture of any kind, whether that be freelancing as a writer or creating your own product.
Confidence has not always been my strong point, however I've been working on it. I've been terrified about revamping and publishing my writer website.
It took a lot of courage and as much confidence as I could muster this week to finally publish my official professional freelance writer website.

Annajauhola.com has been mine since last year, but it sucked until this week.
(Screenshot of my welcome page)
Now, I'm not a web designer. Nor am I a designer of any kind, unless you count designing stories with words. Haha.
Anyway, I don't think my website turned out too bad. It's clean, easy to follow and straightforward.
At least I hope so.
Step A of my next big test in gaining and keeping confidence is getting beta readers. What're those? People who will look at my site, tell me if it's any good and what I could do to improve it. For free, of course, because I'm just starting out. :)
Step B will be to contact and attract clients. For this portion, I'm working my way through Build Your Biz Challenge with Sagan Morrow! I'm also still using some great hints and tricks from Jorden Roper.
These two ladies have been the most helpful and give the most amazing advice and support I've received since I started my freelancing journey. A HUGE thanks to both of them!
I'm finding more confidence through BYBC and both ladies' blogs, along with the Facebook community Sagan created for BYBC.
Any freelancers, whether you're just starting out or you've been at it forever, check out Sagan's and Jorden's site for amazing tips, tricks, advice and continuing education. Perhaps check out my site too!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Yoga before bed: Experiment in better sleep

Like many of you, I usually don't sleep very well.
It's not that a don't get enough sleep, it's that I can't shut off my mind and I can't seem to find the right positions to sleep in, leaving me exhausted from tossing and turning. Other mornings, I'm worn out because I slept wrong and end up with shoulder or neck pain, or both, coupled with a headache.
To combat this constant issue, I decided to try yoga before bed. A friend suggested it awhile ago, but I didn't seriously consider it until recently.

The Child Pose is my favorite because it is so relaxing and just plain feels good.

I found a good video of basic moves that even the least balanced or talented person can do -- that would be me.
After only doing yoga prior to crawling into bed for one week, I haven't seen an immediate difference.
After the first night, I woke up refreshed and ready for my day. However, my day then drained me exponentially.
After the second night, I slept a little better and felt pretty good in the morning. I didn't hit snooze 10 times before getting up.
After the third night, I could tell I slept quite a bit better than normal, however I'd slept on my side and I ended up with a sore neck that day.
I skipped day four as an experiment and found the next day I woke up groggy, sore and cranky. Plus, I'd slept on my side again.
Day five, I did yoga, and the following morning I woke up less groggy.
Yesterday was day six. I think, perhaps, one needs to incorporate a couple different strategies with yoga.
Take this morning for an example. I did my yoga last night, but I slept wrong and have a terrible pain in my left shoulder.
I have a couple thoughts in mind after watching a few other videos.
Yoga is also a type of meditation. I need to do a bit more reading, but my main goal is to take this as a relaxation of the body and mind, not just the body.
If I can't turn off my mind at night, I won't be able to relax. Duh, right?!
I've realized I also need to make a conscious effort to change my sleeping habits. For example, I know I always sleep better when I lay on my back, yet I still sleep on my side. Why? I've always done it. But now I need to change it and sleep on my back.
I also need to focus on my intention while doing yoga. So far, I've focused on doing the poses correctly.
Tonight, which will be day seven, I will focus on intention and sleeping on my back. We'll see how this goes.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Veterans deserve respect in death, as in life

Veterans Day has always been an important day in my life, so it is only fitting I should write this blog the day before the 2016 holiday.
My family has history, like so many others, of men and women serving in the military.
My dad served in Vietnam, and my mother served in the military during an earlier period of the same war. Both my brothers and my uncle served in the military. My dad's dad served in World War II.
I've always had a reverence for those who have been willing to serve our country, whether they go overseas or protect us at home.
So when I heard that a Mitchell Girl Scout troop was raising money for a headstone foundation for a forgotten veteran, I couldn't help but be proud of such a young group of girls.
Troop 57005 -- a BROWNIE troop of girls in grades 2 and 3 -- volunteered to raise at least $1,000 for this service project in mid-October. With help, the troop set up a GoFundMe page to solicit donations, which came in fairly quickly.
The Brownies brought in more than $1,200, which will pay for the granite slab foundation, said Debra Emme, office assistant at the Davison County Veteran Service Office. Emme has a daughter in the Brownie troop. The project also received a cash donation of $250 from the Mitchell KOA Campground, Emme said, which is not included in the GoFundMe total.
For completing this project, the girls earn their Honor Our Veterans badges, she added.
The veteran for whom the troop raised money was William Hannett. He died in 1928 and still has a temporary marker. He is buried in a section of Calvary Cemetery in Mitchell.

This temporary marker is the only evidence that William J. Hannett,
a World War I veteran, is buried in Calvary Cemetery in Mitchell.
(Photo by Anna Jauhola)
Not far from his marker stand several others also bearing the last name Hannett. No one seems to know why William Hannett was forgotten, even though it seems relatives were not ignored.
This issue came to light last year when Jessica Davidson, Davison County veteran service officer, discovered veterans buried in the cemeteries in Mitchell did not have proper headstones.
Davidson, a veteran herself who served as a tank mechanic, said these vets deserve better than temporary markers.
Through hard work on her own time, Davidson said she was able to procure headstones and foundations for two other veterans last year -- Joseph Robert Ward, a WWI vet buried in the Old Part of Graceland Cemetery, and James M. Parker, a Civil War vet and POW, buried also in the Old Part of Graceland.

For James Parker, Davidson was able
to get a replica Civil War headstone to
place on a foundation.
(Photo by Anna Jauhola)
Jessica Davidson was able to get a bronze plaque
from the government to place in a foundation
for Robert Ward. (Photo by Anna Jauhola)

At least five other veterans buried in the Mitchell cemeteries -- all from the WWI era -- do not have proper headstones, and it has become Davidson's mission to remedy that.
"A disservice has been done for these people," Davidson said.
She added, it should be made clear, any fundraising done is only for the foundations for government-issued headstones like the bronze plaque seen above, or a flat marble headstone, which has been ordered for Hannett.
Schafer Memorials, on Main Street in Mitchell, will install the foundation for Hannett and has donated labor for the project. The money is raised, but Davidson said the foundation will not be laid until the spring when the ground warms up again.
Davidson said should they raise $3,000 total, then Schafer Memorials will be able to complete all foundations for the other five veterans as well.
Although the Brownie troop has come forward to help procure a slab for the headstone of William Hannett, Davidson is looking for others to do the same.
"I'm wondering if another service organizations like a Girl Scout troop, or Boy Scout troop or even a 4-H group, would like to help," she said.
However, should no one else volunteer, Davidson said she will likely pay out of her own pocket to get the other five granite foundations. That's how important this project is to her.

I urge everyone -- individuals, service organizations, businesses, whoever -- to donate whatever you can to this incredibly worthy cause. Without veterans who so humbly, proudly and selflessly served our country, we would not be here. They deserve our respect in death, as much as those who are still living.
You can still give to the Girl Scouts' GoFundMe page, or you can contact the Davison County Veteran Service Office at 605-995-8619.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Freelancing freedom requires hard work

Challenging myself to become a better writer and more successful has always been, well, a challenge.
This November, while many writers are taking part in National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, I have engaged in a month-long course aimed at getting a freelance business up and running.
Since finding Jorden Roper, freelance extraordinaire and no-bullshit advice giver, I seemed to have lucked out on finding more straight-forward resources from which to learn.
Sagan Morrow, a freelancer, blogger and freelance coach, based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, created the Build Your Biz Challenge (BYBC). It is simple, straight forward and incorporates actionable tips that take 15 minutes each day to do. This is exactly the type of activity I’ve been looking for!

This is a screen shot of Sagan's website. You can see all the great
options she offers for freelancers and continuing education.

I’m super excited to complete these step-by-step activities each day because they are giving me a great sense of what I need to do as a freelancer.
Before beginning this course, I’d worked hard to develop my niche (through help from Jorden) but got sidetracked and lost momentum. My brain stalled and I couldn’t seem to get back on course.
I began following Sagan’s blog awhile back and even subscribed to her updates via email. However, my inbox started to overflow with “help” from several sources I’d thought sounded good. So Sagan’s emails got lost in the mix, until one day, an email from her caught my eye. 
I opened the one about BYBC and was immediately intrigued. I signed up and am so happy I did!
Her course (which is FREE) is making me think through a process I would never have been able to figure out on my own. She’s forced me to revisit my goals and create a few new ones for much further down the line.
She gave us a calendar on which she described the activity for each day of the month. This is helpful because I can be thinking ahead to what I may need to research, or just be thinking deeper about an aspect of freelancing I’d never thought of before. 
On top of all this, those taking part in the challenge have the opportunity to be involved in a peer group on Facebook! It is interesting to see what other freelancers want to do, what level they're at and their goals, so far. I've also made a few contacts through the group, and hope to make a bunch more. 

A screen shot of the top of our Facebook group page.

I’m excited to see what the next few weeks bring. My main goals are to have a functional website up and running by the end of November, and gain at least one client in the next three months (if not before).
The class is totally free, and if you are interested, visit Sagan’s site. The challenge isn’t only for freelance writers, like me. There are designers, editors, hair stylists, Pilates instructors, and other professionals taking the course with me! Plus, Sagan has a bunch of helpful blog posts and other freebies available for your perusal. 

Give it a go. At the very least, you may learn something. At the most, you may be inspired to branch out and start your own business. 

Thursday, November 3, 2016

'Little Women' a capital book

My philosophy for reading in recent years is to power my way through the first chapter of a book that is dry or doesn't quite excite me. I've often found my hook in the second, third or fourth chapters.
That's exactly what I had to do with "Little Women" by Louisa May Alcott.

I'm so happy I finally read 'Little Women.' (Photo by Anna Jauhola)
When Teddy "Laurie" Laurence entered the picture in chapter three, I was immediately intrigued by his interaction with Jo at the New Year's party. 
Their immediate friendship made me yearn for them to be together. 
I was so happy that Laurie became a permanent fixture in the Marches' lives and, for me, Laurie and Jo are the characters that made this book worth reading.
Laurie and Jo romped as children, watched each other grow up and watched each other's hearts break, only to be renewed as adults.
In truth, this book took forever for me to read. It was good, but I wasn't dying to read it every night.
However, it was interesting to follow Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy.
They made me laugh and cry and get angry.
Amy is infuriating with her attitude that she must marry someone rich, but endearing when she tries so hard to be like her older sisters.
Meg's struggle with wanting pretty things but knowing she should remain humble is something with which I can relate.
Beth's saintly nature is admirable, but it made me sad she resigned herself to being a homebody. I can also relate to her mindset (not her saintly nature).
However, I relate to Jo the most. She's a writer. She is one of the boys. She does what she wants, yet also does what is required at home. She was determined to remain single and independent, yet she wanted a house full of boys. Despite that love wins in the end, her reward is so sweet and she still is able to fulfill her goal.
Her fire and enthusiasm, anguish and despair are what spoke to me throughout the book.
I wish I had half of Jo's ambition.
Overall, I'm really glad I read "Little Women." It is a true classic. I saw many themes in the book that still hold true today, nearly 150 years later.
It may have inspired me to later read "Little Men" and "Jo's Boys." But one step at a time.

Look for my next review on "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn."

Monday, October 31, 2016

CHERRY BOMB! on Halloween

With accompanying zombie 

Finally! The reveal!
Jacob's costume turned out better than expected. He was the cherry bomb from Plants vs. Zombies.

Paper mache is a pain, but effective.
(Photo by Anna Jauhola)
We took a pumpkin treat bucket and put a layer of paper mache on it so we could paint it red. Then I painted the face on it and used green pipe cleaners to make the stem.
Jacob said, 'You are the coolest mom ever!" so I guess I succeeded at my task.
Last night, we walked the three blocks to Ethan's American Legion hall for a not-so-spooky haunted house, games and treats.
Jacob said I had to dress up too.

This is what happens when I get to have fun
for Halloween. (Selfie by Anna Jauhola)

After we spent probably a half hour at the Legion hall, we went home and waited to hand out candy.
We decorated my office as scary as possible and turned on the portable heater to stay warm.
We carved pumpkins in the afternoon and put them out to look nice and spooky.

Above, our jack-o-lanterns before it got dark.
Below, they are much more terrifying.
(photos by Anna Jauhola)

We might have more fun tonight, probably handing out candy.
I'll be lighting the jack-o-lanterns until they curl up and look gross.
I'll be keeping my office creepy for a while too, perhaps for a little inspiration.

Just me bein' creepy.
(Selfie by Anna Jauhola)

In the mean time, Happy Halloween!
Don't be afraid to enjoy yourselves today. 
It's a waste if you don't. I was a zombie yesterday.
Today, I'm a mysterious creepy lady. 
I hat the had from a few years ago and 
just decided that's enough of a costume with makeup.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

A Halloween paper mache costume diary

Tuesday, Oct. 25     
8:13 a.m.
This year I've agreed to create a Halloween costume for Jacob.
It's six days before Halloween and I'm dreading the process.
I won't reveal what he will be yet, but I will tell you involves paper mache and a beach ball.
It is early Tuesday and I will need to look up an effective paper mache recipe so the damn thing actually turns out. I don't want him running round in a goopy mess.

This 36-inch beach ball will be the base for
Jacob's costume. (Photo by Anna Jauhola)
8:22 a.m.
I've found the recipe I need! Simpler than I figured it would be - just flour and water. I overthink things way too much. We'll see how this goes this evening with a dog, two cats, a 7-year-old and me.
Should be interesting.

11:37 a.m.
My brain will not stop reminding me of my epic task tonight.
"Paper mache ...." it whispers. "Oh, and remember, you also have to make playdough for Jacob to bring to school. So there's that. And ... you have dishes to do and laundry to fold."
Damn you, brain. Why can't you focus on one thing?! I gave you a granola bar. Isn't that enough?

5:00 p.m.
OK. So, that was a gigantic pain in the butt. However, we got half the beach ball covered in paper mache and it is currently drying. How long will it take to dry? I. Don't. Know. This could be a problem. Not to worry! I have a hair dryer. That could help, right? We'll work on the other half tomorrow evening.
P.S. The dog and cats weren't interested at all in the project. They may have avoided the kitchen due to my hostility toward the project.

The flour/water mixture for
the paper mache paste.
(Photo by Anna Jauhola)
Damn that was annoying. I hope I never
agree to this sort of thing again.
P.S. I do not have a camera on the
front of my phone.
This was pure talent to get this shot
on the first try. (Selfie by Anna Jauhola)

Wednesday, Oct. 26
5:30 a.m.
Jacob woke me up about 5 a.m. with a bad dream. We've been reading and watching too much Harry Potter, apparently. Damn dementors. Anyway, we got up at 5:30 and I checked on the beach ball. It's still damp, but not too bad. The house gets cold at night, so I didn't expect the paper mache to dry completely. I'll take the hair dryer to it this evening

11:07 a.m.
Crap. It's Wednesday! And I only have a few days left to make this costume. I researched the possibility of making a quicker-drying paste. But the only comments and suggestions were to blow air on the project. Back to just blowing the crap out of it with my blow dryer, which gets SUPER hot, by the way.

4:30 p.m.
Alrighty. I mixed up some more paper mache paste, cut up more strips of newspaper and got to work. This time around, Jacob was not so interested, so I was on my own.
I sat down and painted paste onto the beach ball, then laid newspaper on top, then painted the newspaper with more paste. Once I'd finally finished covering the ball with this crap, I busted out my super hot blow dryer and multi-tasked by also playing a couple of rounds of Plants Vs. Zombies. I lost those rounds, but I did not lose my battle with the beach ball.

The blow dryer did its job! (Photo by Anna Jauhola)

5:14 p.m.

Success! The paper mache is drying phenomenally! So now that I've got that far, I'll leave for now and see how it dries over night.

Thursday, Oct. 27
5:45 a.m.
Well, the paper mache dried nicely. Now I feel much more confident about completing this project. I'll get on it this evening and get the whole ball covered in at least a second layer so I can get painting on Friday.
Check back on the big day - Halloween! - to see Jacob in all his glory, for the big reveal of his costume.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Scouting is a life-long adventure

To many, Scouting is something of a novelty, and I was recently taken aback when I realized how many people have never been involved in the activity. 
Jacob recently joined Cub Scouts as a Tiger Scout. I was a Girl Scout (up until sixth grade or so) and my brothers were both Boy Scouts. So it was only natural that Jacob join as well. 

Jacob is a first grader and is a Tiger Scout. Scouts advance ranks by grade.
We attended his first meeting Oct. 16 during which I sat in a room full of adults who weren't quite sure what to do. But we could all plainly hear the boys were having a blast in the room down the hall. 
During introductions, a good majority of the adults who had newly enrolled Scouts had never been involved in Scouting. My jaw nearly dropped. While it had been a part of my life growing up, I didn't expect everyone to have been involved. but I figured more than half would have some experience with the national activity.
Us adults did our adulting -- meeting in parent groups for different dens, purchasing uniforms, awkwardly discussing who would lead groups, and so on. 
The boys had fun and were almost sad to go. 
Jacob said, "Cub Scouts was great! It was so short!" 
When I told him he was there for an hour he couldn't believe it. 
On Thursday, Jacob's belief in the fact that Scouting is just great was reinforced when we went Scouting for Food, a community service project. Boy Scouts annually hang plastic bags with instructions on doors throughout town, asking for donations to the local food pantry. 
If that wasn't enough fun for one night, Jacob was more thrilled on Saturday when we went back to pick up any food people left out. 
"We got 12 donations, Mom! That's so great!" 
He was so excited to help people who don't have what they need. 
We helped sort the food at The Salvation Army, which he also thought was great fun and is super excited for his next project with his Tiger Den and Scout Pack. 
Although I was a Girl Scout, I longed desperately to be a Boy Scout. They did so many more cool things than we did -- wood working, Pine Wood Derby, building stuff, camping, winter camping, and so on. (I secretly read my brother's handbooks and remember being fascinated by the projects they did.) That's not to say our troop didn't do some fun things, but I just wasn't overly interested in designing clothing, cooking domestic meals or finding what colors matched my skin tone (apparently I'm supposed to wear pastels). I wanted to be outside and cook over fires and learn how to survive in the woods, go canoeing and learn about nature. 
I suppose now I will need to learn those skills and will do so right alongside my child as he learns them. It should be quite the adventure. 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Take time to hear both sides

Police incident has me thinking, as a reporter and a citizen

Our country is in turmoil, to say the least.
I'm not talking about the election, though that is a huge part of the turmoil.
This morning, I noticed on Facebook in the trending feed "Edina, Minnesota. 25K talking about this."
Naturally, as a native Minnesotan, curiosity struck and I clicked on the link. It led me to a video of a police officer in Edina leading a black man to an unmarked squad vehicle for supposedly walking in the middle of the lane of traffic.

A screenshot of the Facebook trending page regarding the incident in Edina.

I watched the entire 7-minute video. The woman who made the recording repeatedly asked the officer, "Why can't you just show (the man) where a safe place to walk is?" while the officer had hold of the black man's jacket. The man was irate, swearing at the officer and becoming violent, while the woman continued saying, "He's scared. People die in these situations, it's scary."
The officer would intermittently tell the woman and other off-camera observers to back up and mind their own business.
The woman said on the video she'd witnessed the incident from the beginning. However, she didn't begin recording until the police officer was leading the man to the squad car, so the mass audience watching this video does not currently have the full story. This is dangerous. When people just immediately believe what they see rather than waiting for all details to make an informed decision, that's when trouble, hatred and anger brew.
I have an enormous amount of respect for law enforcement officers who do their jobs correctly and are transparent about their actions. I also have a great respect for people who are willing to record situations like this, which they have every right to do. However, they likely do not think about two things when recording -- how their own lives may be in danger and how their actions can impact the situation.
The Edina Police Department has responded to the video on the department Facebook page. The department claims the officer observed the man walking in the middle of the road after walking around sidewalk construction, and when the officer tried to alert the man to move off the roadway, the man ignored the officer and continued walking. The officer then pulled in front of the man, parked the squad vehicle a ways in front of the man and got out to confront him. The man walked around the squad vehicle, according the department.
The woman claims in her video, and the black man arrested also said, that he was walking on the white line to get around the sidewalk construction.
Again, the entire story is not out there yet! I'm waiting to see any dash-cam video the department might release, which could clear up what actually happened. I'm curious whether it was absolutely necessary for the officer to physically lead the man to the squad vehicle, and if the man's anger toward the officer was justified.
It's bothersome that people just blindly support one side or the other without finding all sides of the story. The national media can be notorious for sensationalizing an incident like this, seemingly just for web hits and gaining readership. Good sources will blatantly tell readers and viewers that the story is developing, all reports are not out yet and will also report from all sides as best they can -- sometimes it's not possible to get in touch with victims or the accused.
Good readers and viewers will take into account that the story has just broken and that they should make note to follow it, rather than making an immediate decision based on their own feelings on the incident.
I will be following this incident, hoping details are transparently released to the public and that the incident is not just swept under the rug. I hope Edina shows the country that police are doing their best and, if a situation warrants it, a reprimand and apology will be made. But, if the officer was in the right, I hope Edina also shows all evidence necessary to back up the officer's actions.
America is in need of some strong leadership, not only in the Oval Office, but in our local offices as well.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Gotta love the embodiment of God's sense of humor

What do you get when you have a 7 year old who loves "Phineas and Ferb", and is super curious?
"Mom, are platypuses real?"
That was the beginning of my conversation this morning with Jacob as we drove to Mitchell.
"Yes honey, they are real. And you know what? They are mammals that lay eggs."
Mind. Blown.
"I didn't know mammals could lay eggs!" Jacob said.
So I handed Jacob my phone and he Googled platypus so he could see a picture of a real one.

Platypuses are strange animals from the wilds of Australia.
Jacob's reaction? "Yuck." He said they look nothing like Perry the Platypus from "Phineas and Ferb."
I laughed and said, "Well, Perry is a cartoon. Real platypuses are not pets."
He asked why they lay eggs. And we had to look it up, because I couldn't remember the name for mammals that lay eggs. So, trusty old National Geographic was in the top billing for search results and we clicked on the link to find platypuses are monotremes - one of five species of monotremes, in fact.
The other four are different types of echidnas. All monotremes live in Australia and New Guinea.
Jacob was so excited about learning these facts that he asked me to write down the word monotreme so he could share this fantabulous news with his class at school.
Today, I predict Jacob might be a tad bit obnoxious in telling everyone he talks to what he learned about platypuses and monotremes.
He was disappointed, however, to find that Perry the Platypus is not real. It would be super awesome to have a pet platypus who is also secretly a spy.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Book-in-a-Day: Bookshots by James Patterson is my new obsession

It's been years since I've finished a book in one day.
The last one I remember reading in a 24-hour period was "E is for Evidence" by Sue Grafton. I stayed up until 3 a.m. on a school night (GASP!) because I simply couldn't put it down. I just kept saying, "Just one more chapter."
On Friday, I stopped at the local bookstore, which is dangerous, and found a stack of James Patterson books. It attracted my attention because the books were quite thin, so I couldn't help but pick them up. Below is what I found - a 144-page thriller.

"113 Minutes" is a fast-paced thriller in which we find out
who killed Molly Rourke's son. (Photo by Anna Jauhola)

They are called Bookshots. Mr. Patterson co-authors many of the books, including the one I read, "113 Minutes." I started reading it while waiting for my son to get done with school for the day. And when I got home, I set it on my desk and planned to read before bed. When I picked it up, I couldn't put it down. It was so fast paced and well written that I had to find out what happened. (Note: I did not have to stay up until 3 a.m.)
Actually, it only took me a couple hours to read - I'm a slow reader, most others would maybe have devoured it in an hour.
Bookshots is right up my alley -- 150-page-or-less thrillers, romances, and nonfiction -- not only because I like to read a good story quickly, but because it's the type of fiction writing I'm interested in pursing.
It'll be my mission over the winter to read and dissect as many of these Bookshots as possible.
Writing in this novella format would be so perfect. I love reading a long book (like the last four Harry Potter books) but I cannot imagine writing anything much over 200 pages.
If you're interested, take a gander at Mr. Patterson's Bookshots -- listed on his webpage or right at Bookshots.com.
P.S. When you read "113 Minutes" you'll be intrigued by the plot. It's entertaining and totally satisfying, at least for this former cops and courts reporter. It truly is "all thriller, no filler."

Thursday, September 29, 2016

A Jewel Among Freelancers

Jorden Roper's 'actionable advice' approach is best in industry

Oftentimes, adults and professionals will say, "Hard works pays off. Just keep your nose to the grindstone. Forge ahead!" among other indistinct advice.
While I agree, hard work does pay off, it's difficult to find your way in completely new territory without a little outside help.
I found myself in that situation when I seriously jumped into freelance writing. I was lost. I had NO idea what I was doing and for quite some time resigned myself to simply working my day job and writing crap on my blog.
Since I discovered in August the amazing Jorden Roper, author of the Writing Revolt blog, I have forged ahead and been working hard to realize my goal of becoming a self-sustainable freelancer.
WritingRevolt.com is the only straightforward site I've found that gives upfront "actionable advice" to becoming a freelance writer.
Some sites give you worksheets, others give you vague advice and point you at other sites that give the same vague advice, and yet others offer only paid courses (which could be worth it) but I don't have hundreds of dollars to toss around for courses that MIGHT give me worthwhile information.
You see, Jorden was forced into her current position after being fired. She knew she had to make freelancing happen because she had no other choice. So she busted ass and made $800 in the first month. In month five of freelance writing, she made $5,000.

That is a DREAM for most people. For someone just working a 9-to-5, they'd have to be making $31.25 an hour to make $5,000 gross income in one month. To  NET $5,000, you'd have to make about $40 an hour at your regular day job.
I don't know about you, but I'm not finding any regular jobs where my skills will gain me $40 an hour.
Most day jobs that don't require physical labor pay a max of $15 an hour, which is nothing to sneeze at. But, you can only work so many hours in a day.
Freelance writing will give me an opportunity to branch out and use Jorden's actionable advice to create a sustainable business where I choose my clients and make the life I want.
Jorden's course, Make Money Freelance Writing, which you can find here, has been an absolute Godsend. In seven free email courses, Jorden lays out exactly how she achieved success (and even had to scale back) in easy-to-understand lessons.
She's gives you just what she advertises -- "no-bullshit advice for bloggers and freelance writers."
Jorden's journey is inspiring and has shown me I can do it too!
Other bloggers talk about hard work and that you need to choose a niche and that you need to be all over social media. But none of them (that I found) tell you how to actually do these things. Jorden gives you step-by-step instructions on how to create an effective writer website; how to use Twitter to attract and snag high-paying clients; how to master cold emailing and bring in a huge profit; and how to choose AND master a profitable niche, among other topics.
She is always frank about her experience, and even shares in one of her posts how she screwed up big time, and what we as freelance writers can learn from her mistakes.
I encourage every freelance writer, particularly those starting out, to take Jorden's course. It will set you on a path to success, as long as you're willing to work HARD, follow some frank advice, and are not offended by several f-bombs throughout.
You will not be disappointed. Jorden is a jewel among the most experienced freelance writers.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Thin pancakes or thick?

In honor of National Pancake Day, I'd like to take a minute of your time and share thoughts about this delicious treat meant for any time of the day.
When I think of pancakes, I think of big fluffy buttermilk deliciousness.

Fluffy pancakes like these are delicious, particularly on National Pancake Day!

I also like the seasonal delights of pumpkin pancakes or fresh-picked strawberries on top of buttermilk cakes with homemade whipped cream (just like Grandma used to make).
While I adore these round bits of heaven, I actually prefer thinner, heavier pancakes.
I know, I'm a little weird.
My pancake recipe goes light on the flour, heavy on the eggs and milk. I concoct my recipe mostly from memory, along with trial and error.
Pancakes I make (which Jacob eats, but not Derek) look much like this:

Thinner pancakes are just as filling, but take less room on your plate.They also
have a spongier texture and look a lot like lefse. Mmmm ... lefse.
I douse mine in plain old maple syrup (usually whatever's cheapest) but I don't skimp on the butter - I use real butter at all times. None of this "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter." Because I certainly CAN believe it's not butter. Yuck.
So, go home tonight and either make pancakes for supper OR prepare your ingredients for a wonderful breakfast tomorrow morning. If you keep baking supplies in your house, here's my quick recipe for thin pancakes:

3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp of baking powder
1 1/2 tsp of baking soda
2-3 eggs (depending on how heavy you want the cakes)
1 cup of milk

Mix dry ingredients together first. Whisk eggs in a bowl and add to the dry ingredients, and add milk. Mix all together until mixture is runny. Fry in butter in small pan. Usually makes 4-6 large pancakes (7 inches in diameter, if you're curious).

This recipe literally takes 10 minutes or less to make. Plus the pancakes cook quickly, so if you have hungry little devils running around your house, you should be able to satisfy their desires for pancakes in 20 minutes or so. Good luck. Don't lose any fingers when people/little devils scramble to snatch these off the serving plate.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Yerks yanks at readers' emotions with 'Dream Junkies'

Anne-Marie Yerks
(Photo from press materials
at dreamjunkies.nyc)
Networking is finally proving to be an interesting activity.
A woman named Anne-Marie Yerks approached me last week through Facebook. We are both a part of a freelancer's group and she was responding to one of my posts. She's a fellow journalist, fiction writer and essayist, but hails from the Detroit area.
She sent me a private message about a job opportunity and then she asked if I'd like to read her new book she just had published. I said sure. I'm always up for a fun new book.
Well, turns out Yerks won the 2016 New Rivers Press Electronic Book Series through Minnesota State University Moorhead -- my alma mater! How wonderful.
Of course, she called it Minnesota State University. But I knew the name of the publishing company, having walked by the office a thousand times while attending MSUM.
Anyway, Yerks wrote "Dream Junkies."

'Dream Junkies' cover.
(Photo from press materials at dreamjunkies.nyc)
I'm only about halfway through, but so far, it's a good read.
It follows three women, two of whom are aspiring actresses in New York City. The third woman is their agent.
Kristin and Daphne are the actresses who Pavia, their agent, discovered while watching the comedy sketch show in which they took part in Chicago.
Pavia takes the two girls to New York. Things don't quite go the way they want them to go, and Yerks' writing makes you feel like you're right there with the characters.
She writes Kristin in a way that makes you hate her, but also feel sorry for her and want her to make better decisions.
Daphne is more self confident, but struggles with making decisions and justifies a lot of her behavior in favor of her career.
Pavia wants Kristin to succeed because she feels Kristin is her ticket to success.
Each chapter is labeled with a character's name, which is something I've rarely seen, but enjoy.
I can imagine each person's life as if they were real.
I'm excited to see how these two girls arrange their lives and whether they'll let fame go to their heads, or ultimately find themselves and do the right thing.
Thanks to Anne-Marie Yerks for the book! It's getting a thumbs-up from me.

You can find 'Dream Junkies' on Amazon.com.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Nostalgia can be useful

It's strange to think items from my childhood (only 25 to 30 years ago) are considered antiques.
Now, they probably aren't considered real expensive antiques, but are antique-y nonetheless. Perhaps nostalgia is a better word.
On Friday, I stopped in our local antique store, The Second Impression Palace Antique Mall. I was on a mission to find a spring-action flour sifter.
Yes. A flour sifter. It makes for fewer or no lumps when I make pancakes.
Anyway, as I searched I came across several items that would make us laugh today and others to make us say, "Awww, I remember that,"
My favorite was a pair of dolls (despite the fact I hate dolls) that I had wanted when I was a kid, but never got.

These two were a source of pure television entertainment
when I was a kid. (photo by Anna Jauhola)
Although Lisa and Bart never made it into a permanent spot in my bedroom as dolls, they were on my television. I lived to watch brand new episodes of The Simpsons every Sunday and reruns every night at various times on Fox. Thank goodness I had Fox. I literally don't know what I would have done without The Simpsons.
Another doll caught my eye while I was in the antique mall, a doll that many coveted and HAD to have. The many varieties of this doll had tall, fluffy and crazy colored hair. And they were naked.
The Troll dolls. This one in particular was quite popular, with its little jewel belly button. I personally had one troll doll with bright pink hair and it thankfully had a dress.
I found this blue-haired beast next to another strange childhood toy most would consider today to be SO 1980s.
The ViewMaster. This is how we children of the 80s saw the world. We could view the pyramids of Egypt, the Taj Mahal or the Grand Canyon. Now we have the Internet. It's just not the same.

The ViewMaster was a simple way to see history, the wonders
of the world and other fantastic sights. (photo by Anna Jauhola)
The last entertaining photo I have to show you is of a master list most businessmen and women kept on their desks far before the 1980s.
The Rolodex!

The Rolodex. Where businessmen and women kept all their
important contact information. Now we have LinkedIn
and smart phones. How boring. (photo by Anna Jauhola)
I saw this ancient version of a digital phone book in the doctor's office, dentist's office, school offices, courthouse offices and even in a few home offices. I remember thinking how the Rolodex made people look important and I couldn't wait to have one, with enough contacts to fill it.
Oh how times have changed. I still like the idea of a Rolodex, as opposed to a smart phone. I like my smart phone for quick searches for phone numbers or addresses I don't have, but there's something special about physically writing down a person's information and having it stored away with all other contacts.
As a final nostalgic note, Halloween is nearing and I broke out Hocus Pocus yesterday. It was entertaining to watch the main character Max give his phone number on a piece of paper to a girl in his class.
Why can't life be that simple again? Where is the anticipation? I used to love answering the phone not knowing who it was. But, today it is useful to cut out unwanted phone calls, particularly at dinner time, and life can be more lucrative by being able to run a business using technology and the Internet.
Once in awhile, it is good to take a step back, and perhaps mix the old with the new. Maybe I'll purchase that Rolodex to add to my new desk at home. And perhaps, Lisa and Bart might finally find their way to a shelf in my office as well.

Monday, September 12, 2016

An easy DIY desk creates perfect writing space

In an ongoing quest to delve further into freelance writing, I've been seeking out advice, reading a LOT and taking some courses. I've also convinced my husband to build me a desk so I could have a specific space for writing. And, it got done this weekend! The project maybe took an hour and a half. Pretty simple.

This tiny space is mine. And it has a door to separate
me from the noise of the TV.  (photo by Anna Jauhola)
It's not much. It's actually in the front entryway, which is tiny. You see, the house we live in is super tiny. Our bed pretty much takes up our bedroom, which leaves no space for a desk. Jacob's room is his, I can't use that.
I was using the table, but the TV is a huge distraction with the volume way up.
But when my desk was done, I sat down and closed the door, and I could barely hear the TV, which is just on the other side. BLISS.
It will be colder than a witch's thorax in the winter. BUT. It's mine and I love bundling up. Also, a space heater might help, along with some sort of stylish covering for the outside door.
I already was quite productive this weekend in my little office.
It'll be exciting to have this space, even in subzero temperatures. Hot coffee or tea will sustain me. Words and hard work will fuel my ability to stay motivated.
Here's to productivity!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

My wrist won; I brought back the watch

Recently, my wrist felt lonely. 
And it often asked for my attention after the clock in my car started going haywire. Eventually that clock went completely dark and my wrist won. 
It got its best friend back. 

Wearing a watch completes me. (photo by Anna Jauhola)
After a few years of just not wearing a watch, I've started wearing one again. 
I'll give you a few reasons why. 

1. I simply need to know what time it is ALL the time. 

I don't want to dig in my purse or pocket to find my damn cell phone. What a pain. My purse is black and so is my phone. I can't ever find it in there. 
My wrist is always within easy reach, even if I have to push back a long sleeve to look at it. The only thing that's easier is having a wall clock or your computer clock right in front of you all day.

2. It's a classy way to dress up your wardrobe. 

I am no fashion queen. You should see what I'm wearing today. Yikes. 
BUT, when I wear my watch, I feel pretty classy. It's a cute little thing my husband bought me before we were even engaged. It's a Relic (which makes me feel ultra cool) and it's dainty, yet durable. 
It goes with practically everything I wear, too, save sweats or pajamas. 

3. It keeps my wedding ring company. 

My hands are kind of tiny and manly, they're freckled beyond repair and bear a few scars here and there. And when I am watchless, my hand looks funny with just my wedding ring. I put on my watch so the two can complete the ensemble for the day.

4. Checking the time is rude, but less rude than looking at your cell phone.

I feel it's much less insulting to look at your wrist when you're talking to someone or at an event. When someone takes out their cell phone when I'm talking to them, I automatically assume they're bored with me (because they probably are) and start texting or playing games or browsing the Internet. But when you look at your watch, it's usually just an indicator of one of two things ~ you have to get going OR you want to know what time it is. 

5. I feel naked and lost without my watch.

For the couple of years I did not regularly wear a watch, I often caught myself looking at my bare wrist for the time. It didn't matter if I was alone or with a group of people, my reaction was always the same: I'd cover my wrist with my right hand and say out loud, "I don't have a watch on." I then kept my hand over my wrist and frantically searched for a clock on a wall. 

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Please, don't waste your vote

Voting is an important part of being a U.S. citizen.
Saying you hate Trump and you hate Hilary, and you plan to just not vote is not acceptable to me.
Please, don't waste your vote. If you don't like the mainstream candidates, take a look at former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson and his running mate, former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld.

I'm not going to go in-depth. I should, but I'm not comfortable enough talking politics. I just know these guys have more common sense than Trump and more integrity than Hilary.
SO, please (forgive the fun pun) #FeelTheJohnson this election.
Maybe we CAN make America sane again.

Monday, August 29, 2016

A Howling Good Time

Okay, so last week we had a good laugh about our dog, shortly after National Dog Day.
Gus is a barker. He barks at walkers, bicyclists, cars driving by, Derek coming home from work, the cats, and so on.
But now he is a howler.
Until this year, Gus has never howled, and we find it hilarious.
I hope you enjoy this photo as much as we enjoy goofy little Gus howling.
Have a good Monday!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Hip Hip Hooray for School!

Thank GOD school is back in session here in South Dakota.
While Jacob is a fantastic kid, and is usually pretty self-sufficient, he was getting bored with riding his bike and hoping the neighbor kid was out and able to play.
Needless to say, we pretty much shared a low five when I dropped him off at his first day of first grade on Wednesday and went our separate ways.
He told me this morning (proudly), "Mom, I didn't even cry on my first day of first grade!"
He then proceeded to take two crosswalks on his own (with help from the crossing guard) and walk into school by himself. He had lots of practice for three-quarters of the year last year, but this was the first time crossing both roads on his own!
For your enjoyment today, I'll share the few pictures for which he so graciously posed on Wednesday.
Have a great weekend!

Jacob ready to leave home bound for his first day of first grade. (Photo by Anna Jauhola)

Jacob outside his school. He added the coat because it was a bit nippy. (photo by Anna Jauhola)

Jacob with one of his besties, Steven (my bestie's kiddo). (photo by Anna Jauhola)

Monday, August 22, 2016

Is Earth flat? Let me tell you ....

Far be it for me to judge others' belief systems, but I found one this morning that is so off the wall, I had to share.
Now, I'm always up for a good conspiracy theory -- the moon landing was faked; aliens established humans on earth; the government is poisoning our water with fluoride.
But, Earth is flat? The sun is a concave disk? Antarctica is actually a big ice wall keeping the water on Earth's flat surface? Hmmm ....
That's a little far-fetched.
However, there are thousands of people out there who believe in this theory and dispute facts like gravity and magnetism. They are called Flat Earthers, or followers of The Flat Earth Society -- a real society.
And they would say I'm brainwashed, or perhaps a paid government employee spewing propaganda.

A screenshot of the post that led me to read more about Flat Earthers.
Unless these guys can absolutely, positively, beyond a shadow of a doubt PROVE to me that Earth is not a sphere and that we live under a large dome like in The Truman Show, I think I'll continue to live the "lie" as they call it.
Computer graphics and photo clarity are becoming quite astonishing, which leads me to believe there are satellites in space (and that space exists) taking pictures of our spherical Earth. However, Flat Earthers believe there is no space and that we all live under a dome. They believe the moon landing was faked after NASA found out they could not launch a rocket into space, because there was no space. So rather than owning up that the Earth is flat, Flat Earthers believe NASA faked the moon landing to cover up their mistake.
This might beg the question, why would the government and NASA pretend they took pictures of Earth from space in 1947, long before the moon landing, if it didn't really happen? What did they have to prove 22 years before men landed on the moon? What did they have to hide? Among many other question, I'm sure.
This is one of my favorite conspiracy theories in a long time.
To say the earth does not move through space, but rather is stationary, is so ridiculous I have a very difficult time believing it. And to say gravity doesn't exist and things "just drop" is so odd.
It would be funny, though, if I lived to see the day a Flat Earther launched a weather balloon that actually hit the dome and recorded that we have lived a lie for hundreds of years.
I would then fully believe the moon landing was fake, aliens established not only humans on Earth but possibly the odd flat Earth itself, and that the government is poisoning me with fluoride.
In the meantime, I'll remain a brainwashed slave of the government (that's sarcasm) and stick with Einstein in saying (quite judgingly): "Two things are infinite: The universe and human stupidity. And I'm not so sure about the universe."