It’s 3:20am and I should be sleeping but alas I am just not tired so I figured I might as well update my blog. I should have updated it sooner but I have been in over my head with podcasting. Today I literally watched my 50th Christmas movie, both Hallmark and other networks and amazingly enough I am still on board for more holiday films! The Hallmarkies Podcast has been doing great this year with us making the top 120 TV and Film Podcasts on Itunes and getting over 16k listens in the month of November! Wow! I am still blown away by all of that. It has been an insane amount of work but I am so proud of what we have built.
We have a new merch store for the first time which is so much fun! You can get all kinds of holiday and Hallmark inspired gear:
I’ve managed to have a little bit of fun doing other things for the holidays including setting up my traditional holiday decor. Each year I have a memory tree that is full of ornaments that symbolize different parts of my life:
My memory ornament to symbolize this year is all about podcasting and I found this adorable headphones ornament! I was so excited!
I also fulfilled my dream of getting a white tree (4 ft) for my office. I love it!
I also have already kind of celebrated Christmas. My brother and 2 nieces came into town for a weekend and so they came to my house and we had a baked potato bar, exchanged gifts and had a great time!
It was a really great time to be together and celebrate Christmas. My parents are going to be gone for most of this month so I’m planning on just working on my podcasts as much as I can and do a few fun things (Thursday I am going to see Christmas Carol at Hale Theater).
The one crazy thing about the podcast is there is always more work to do. There are people to contact for interviews, movies to watch, notes to prepare, the list goes on and on. Never a dull moment! I want to be ready to reach out to sponsorships in the new year and maybe develop a patreon account but I want it to be done right and not just thrown together. I’m very excited to see what the New Year has in store for our podcast and to have survived Countdown to Christmas 2018.
Also we have 2 hour church coming in January which I am over the moon excited about! Yay!
How have you guys been? I hope the beginning of your holiday season has been going great!
This week for Friday 5 we had a special topic. It was all about Dads and Father’s Day. I tried to find songs about fathers like I had done for Mother’s Day but most of the songs were really depressing (like Papa was a Rolling Stone). This certainly didn’t capture my Dad at all. So I decided to do something different and I asked my Dad what his 5 favorite songs were and he gave me 6 great choices.
I think the songs show a lot about his personality and how much of a people person he is. They are also diverse and songs filled with empathy. I was a little surprised he went with a Fleetwood Mac song as I had no idea he was a fan of them. That’s what’s cool about the Friday 5 is I’m constantly learning new things about music. It’s neat because I think I know just about everything about my Dad or other relatives and then it turns out there is always more to learn.
So these are my Dad’s 6 favorite songs and they are all fantastic. I particularly love Have You Ever Seen the Rain by Credence Clear water Revival. With the horrible events that happened in Orlando I found myself listening to that song and finding some comfort in it.
Anyway, let me know what you think of these 6 songs and to all you Dads out there have a great weekend!
On Monday I got the chance to go to an early screening of the new holiday film Love the Coopers. It’s not a good movie. In fact, in many ways it is a very terrible film but I had an ok time watching it. Here’s my review:
One of the things I liked in the film is this idea of scheduling happiness that happens during the holidays. I’ve felt that a little bit the last few years. When I was a kid I loved the holidays because they were happening to me and the magic of the season was easy to latch onto. As an adult that magic usually takes a lot of effort and has to be planned out. It’s like I am saying “this Thursday I will be happy. Let’s schedule it in”. I don’t think during other times of the year I have such a weighted expectation of achieving happiness in all my plans.
It’s not that I expect to be miserable during the rest of the year’s goings-on but usually it’s more a more neutral every day form of happiness that is anticipated. I go to a movie, meet a friend for lunch, attend a birthday party. All pleasant experiences but not a highlight of the year. During the holidays pleasant somehow feels like a letdown. Does this make sense to any of you?
Last year I was basically alone on Christmas which was a little bit sad. I am sure there is someone out there that likes to be alone on the holidays but the vast majority of us think of it as a time to be with family/friends. I did have Christmas Eve with family and Christmas brunch with friends but most of the day I was alone. The thing is it actually ended up feeling like any other day and you know what- that was a relief. It was just a day off from work and not that different from 4th of July. Perhaps it was being so horribly sick the year before I just allowed myself to have an ordinary day on Christmas day.
I think there might be something to this. Instead of scheduling and planning happiness just allowing Christmas to be more of an ordinary day. That way when the joys of the season come they feel unexpected and give us even more happiness than if we planned them out. I know I might miss out on some things that require planning but I feel I have enough of a routine that I’m not going to really miss out. For instance, I go to Christmas Carol at Hale Theater every year. That’s my routine so it doesn’t require much planning.
The last few holiday seasons have been interesting. In 2012 I was alone, everything in boxes, and getting ready for the move. Things were tough in my family that year and it was a stressful time. In 2013 I got sick as a dog. It was one of the sickest I have been in years. It hurt to breathe and I was so miserable I couldn’t even open presents on Christmas day. And then last year I was alone but had a pleasant simple Christmas (again that felt like a little bit of a letdown because it was just another day).
I know people who say Christmas is better for them as adults than as children. That’s cool for them but definitely not my experience. Like I said, when you are a kid the magic is presented for you (or at least it was for me) and as an adult it all gets much more muddled. I feel like sometimes I end up chasing that Christmas of my childhood and am a bit disappointed when I don’t achieve it.
This year I am going to see my family in California for Thanksgiving but not at Christmas. I am going to try and plan a few things but I am going to try and temper that expectation of happiness and just enjoy the moments for what they are. Sure I will plan some things but the idea of scheduling ‘I will be happy next thursday’ I don’t think works very well. It ends up feeling like a cheesy smile in a school photo- kind of hollow version of happiness. I just want to schedule a few things and if they make me happy that’s awesome!
Do you know what I am saying? Does that make any sense? Have any of you felt a little underwhelmed by the holiday season as adults? What do you think of this idea of scheduling happiness?
Hey everyone! I just wanted to put a little reminder about my new column over at ldsblogs.com. I just had posted my 6th piece on Curious George. It would really help me out if you went on the site and left some comments on the articles. Please, please, please
The articles include both my video and a print review that goes into more depth. I have tried to do a variety of films that will hopefully appeal to a mixture of families. I would love some feedback from you on the type of films I should review in the future. The only rule is it has to be a film available on Netflix Stream, as that is the main premise of the column. If you watch any of them with your family I would love to know how it goes.
So far I have reviewed (I will include links to the column and the video review if you just want to watch those.)
Over on my youtube channel my sister Madeline and I filmed some videos together and we had so much fun! We are 18 years different in ages so most of her life I’ve been the mini-Mom figure and not a real sibling. It’s only been fairly recently we’ve been able to bond as more friends than child/guardian type relationships. I thought filming some videos would be great but it was a lot more enjoyable than I would have guessed. We laughed and laughed.
Do any of you have big age gaps with your siblings? How do you make it work?
I’d love if you gave any of these videos a watch, thumbs up or add your comments. There’s a little bit of everything.
Here’s the Sisters Tag so you can learn about all things Rachel and Madeline
Here we review the Candy Club box.
What started it all off was we ranked all 8 of the Harry Potter movies. It ended up being very long so I divided it into 2 videos. It is probably more of a podcast style video but I really think you will enjoy it if you give it a watch. I’d love to hear your rankings if you’ve seen the movies.
So it was a great time and I’m grateful to be able to share it with all of you. Hopefully in the future I can do videos with my sister Anna and brother Sam (the other 2 siblings will never happen) . It’s a fun way to become friends through filming (you wouldn’t think so but I certainly found that to be the case with Madeline). So hurray for sister time!
Last Friday I turned the 34 and had a great birthday. I decided to meet up with friends at the local aquarium because I thought it would be an easy place to bring kids and my friends wouldn’t need to find sitters. It ended up being very crowded and we had a hard time staying together as a group but I felt like I spent time with everyone who came and really enjoyed it.
My friend Lisa came over and stayed in the guest room Friday night. She even came with me to a midsingles game night I had to go to (and ended up being very fun!). We had a great time visiting and reminiscing about our missions (she served in my mission mostly before I got there).
When we all got back from the aquarium we had tarts from my favorite bakery, Bake 360. They were delish! My Dad surprised me by getting me a sound box and new TV!!! I was overwhelmed at such a gift. I also got some new big mixing bowls from my roommate and Mom, Anne of Green Gables from my sister, scarf, swimming shampoo, and my Christmas gift to myself came on my birthday- my dream Le Crueset dutch oven pot.
But more than any gifts I was blessed to be reminded with just how many people love me. I am so blessed with good people in my life. I lost track at 49 but I couldn’t even tell you how many birthday wishes I got on facebook and other social media. When I think of the lonely people I met on my mission and other places I am overwhelmed with gratitude at all God has given me.
Thanks to everyone who made my birthday memorable. I love you!
I was watching dancing with the stars and the theme for tonight was ‘the most memorable year of your life’. It made me think about my life. What is the most memorable year in my life? It’s very tough to answer, but 2 years came to mind first: 2001 and 2007.
Now this isn’t the best years that would be different because both 2001 and 2007 were rough. I’ve talked a lot about 2007 on this blog so let me tell you a little bit about 2001. It was quite the ride.
When 2001 started I was flying high.
I had just finished a dream trip with my Grandma and my dear cousin Lisa to New York City. We had enjoyed the Rockettes, museums and lots of Broadway shows. We were scolded by my Grandma for ordering too much pizza and we told her we’d eat it later but it smelled so we put it outside and the maids took it. Knowing she would ask about it we spent the night coming up with outlandish stories about what happened to the pizza and laughing. I saw my first New York at Christmas and saw the Rockefeller tree and the lights. It was magic.
I would never have been prepared for what would happen.
Here I am in 2001 with my roommate:
I made sure I signed up for 30 course hours a year while going to school, usually more and I had taken a lighter load in the fall so winter term I was taking 18 credits! They were also junior level rigorous courses. It was challenging but I pushed on through until the end of March.
Then I got the call and found out my beloved Grandpa had passed away. It still makes me cry to write it. In many ways it was a good thing but I still miss him so much. He’s my hero and I would visit him every Sunday and he would tell me how beautiful I looked. It meant a lot to me. And then he was gone and there isn’t a day 13 years later that I don’t wish I could talk to him and wonder what he’s thinking about my life. I hope he’s happy with me.
Then just 2 weeks later, my Dad gave me a call and he was crying. “Rachel” he said haltingly into the phone “Lisa passed away”. I was stunned. The bright spirit I’d been joking with over pizza months before and wizzing around New York was gone.
I can’t remember when it occurred during the week but I had a few days before the flight to California for the funeral. I was devastated and felt guilty spending any time on my 18 credits of classes but finals were coming up and I knew Lisa and Grandpa would want me to study. But my head was hanging low, just getting through the day.
At this same time there was a girl named Emily who was in my ward that I had met, and had met my sister in Nauvoo study abroad. She was an acquaintance but I knew she had been missing from church for a month or so.
As I walked up to campus the weight of my problems heavy on my shoulders Emily saw me and she stopped and said ‘are you ok?’. I’ll never forget that.
It will doubt be no surprise if you are a frequent blog reader to hear I immediately burst into tears and told her my sad story (I’m a bit of an open book…). I would learn she was grieving from her own deep loss of her father which is why she had been gone for so many weeks. (what a great example of looking to help others when you are the one hurting the most).
We talked and she helped me pack for the funeral. I quickly learned she was not living with kind people and so out of the blue I said
“I know. Why don’t you come live with Megan and me?”
I called Megan and she was like “Ok. Why not” probably a little caught off guard but she then added “Why don’t we ask Julia?” Julia is our cousin and Lisa’s sister who had come home from her mission to the funeral. Julia agreed and after the funeral I found an apartment for the 4 of us and it was all settled.
When I got home from the funeral I prayed Heavenly Father would help me with finals. That I would find a way to not suffer from the weeks of absences both emotional and physical. I tried my best and you know what I got my best grades of all of college. All As and Bs despite all that happened and taking the most credits. Miracles do happen.
That year Julia met her Matthew and I would start my senior year.I remember staying inside a lot and just spending time the 4 of us. It was a time of healing and love.
In June 2001 I retook Poli Sci 201 because I had gotten a lazy C as a sophmore because the teacher bored me but for some reason I knew I needed to be a TA for that class. I was lucky to have Dr. Matthew Holland as my teacher in his first class of students as a BYU Professor.
At the end of the course I called him for about 2 weeks leaving messages, begging to be his TA. Finally he answered and said “so I hear you want to be one of my TA’s”. My best buddy Raelene was also a TA and we had such a wonderful experience . He had such faith in me and never changed a grade I gave. That did so much for my confidence.
This is Raelene and I in 2009 but we basically look the same…
In September my family received another shock with the passing of my cousin Riley. He had made mistakes and had challenges with addiction so we weren’t super close but it was still very tragic.
And then the whole world had tragedy with 9-11. I’ll never forget driving up to campus and seeing everyone on their phones (which at the time seemed strange). The whole aura was nervous, sad and unsure.
I’ll never forget later that day President Bateman gave a speech and said:
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).
Brothers and sisters, that is our message this morning. Fortunately this is only the second act of a three-act play. Even when death comes to those we love, we know what lies ahead. We know they are fine. It is those of us who are left behind who are sad. We know we will see them again, and we know we will be with them. When death comes to someone who has the peace of the Holy Ghost inside, it can be sweet, not bitter.
Do you understand why you young people hold the power of peace for the world in your hands? The world depends on you.
Many of you have just returned from missions; many of you will go next year. The world’s peace is on your shoulders because you have the only message that gives hope for eternal peace”
Here’s the whole talk if you want to listen to it:
I took his admonition seriously. I was finishing up school and after the year I had it was all to clear ‘this is the second act in a three-act play’. I knew I would be responsible for making the world better. For bringing peace in my own little circle, and I’ve striven to do that. Even with anxiety, depression, frustration and disappointment I have tried my best to never forget the Lord and His goodness, to share His peace.
Because it is on our shoulders in 2001 and 2014. I’m certainly glad not all my years are 2001’s (my family couldn’t take it!) but it made me the person I am today. It was a refining time and a time for decisions on the type of person I was going to be.